Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cluster Bombs

Why can't we lead the way?

Here's an article that add some insight into our reluctance to ban cluster bombs ...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Brazil - Embryonic Stem Cell Research

In the world's largest Roman Catholic country, the high court has ruled in favor of legislation allowing embryonic stem cell research. Though opposed by church groups, Brazil makes a stand for research.

For me, it's always helpful when a state frees itself from the Church (I use a capital C to reference the Roman Church as a political entity), freeing not only itself, but the Church as well from the shackles of its own traditions.

The modest metaphors of salt, light and yeast used by Jesus are a far cry from the pomp and power of the Church.

Jesus never intended the church, the movement He founded, to be an Empire. He knew full well from the example of Rome the sadness and tragedy of empire.

Bear Stearns and Cluster Bombs

The former CEO of Bear Stearns has apologized, sort of. Appearing rather disheveled at a private meeting, James Cayne offered a brief apology and then quickly pointed a finger at the financial hurricane that caught everyone off guard.

Yah, sure, you betcha!

The collapse of the vaunted, business-can't-do-any-wrong idolatry, created by "there-ya-go-again" Ronald Reagan, can't come quickly enough. Having lived for 16 years in Detroit, I saw big business up close and personal - untold waste and corporate greed, high-end salaries for the upper-crust while bashing the unions and blaming corporate ills on the guy on the shop floor.

We're learning once again that business is business, nothing more and nothing less - that its moral underpinnings are questionable at best. No doubt, there are a lot of moral folk in the corporate world, but in the last three decades, John Grisham's "The Firm" mentality, baptized by Reganomics at the Republican alter called Mammon, took hold, forcing many to sell their souls just to bring home a paycheck. No wonder so many folks are opting for a ragtag spirituality that's all inward rather than a healthy prophetic faith that takes on the dark powers and principalities of greed and manipulation. Who can blame folks for wanting a faith to soothe the cry of the soul when fed the lies and distortions of the last 30 years.

The only solution is to have a clear-headed federal government and a skilled Congress who can be the moral watchdog for the Republic. Asking biz to police itself is the proverbial hiring of the fox to guard the hen house.

Part of the whole Regan-Bush debacle reveals its sad philosophy by our refusal to sign on to a new treaty banning cluster bombs. To be signed by more than a hundred nations, the U.S. of A has thus far declined.


Yah, I know ... national interests ... just like torture - we need every vile form of pain in order to "protect" ourselves - meanwhile, the enemy is something ugly and insidious within our own heart - the very reluctance to sign the treaty, the unending effort to defend torture, reveals the acids corroding the American Spirit. But, after, all, Bush is a man of prayer and faith. The same kind of spirituality that "sees no evil, speaks no evil and hears no evil," thus turning a blind eye to suffering while still "feeling pretty dadgum good about itself."

We can do better ... we've done better ... and we will do better again.

While I'd like to pray to God to give us worthy leaders, I suspect God is saying, "Give me worthy leaders, and I will bless them."

Is this not up to us?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Vietnam Rhetoric

Aslan says to Lucy in the film, Prince Caspian, “Nothing happens the same way twice.”

Indeed, but many things bear striking similarities - like the rhetoric of "victory just around the corner" and "no troop pullout until the Iraqi government is stabilized" and the rhetoric surrounding America's entanglement in Southeast Asia.

After 600 billion and more than 4,500 deaths, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan continues to drain our treasury and deplete our armed forces.

Our soldiers are likely the best in the world, but no army can sustain this kind of occupation. If we're looking for an additional parallel, how about the Soviet Union in Afghanistan? That debacle contributed to the end of the Soviet Union.

As I write these words, I'm watching CNN report on our heroes - indeed, they're heroes, but our greatest tribute to them, beyond the medals, will be bringing them home, and once home, to support their families, provide first-class medical care for the wounded, and life-time care for the disabled.

Iraq and the Middle East has to solve its own ills as did Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Perhaps the boundaries drawn so arrogantly by the Allies after WW 1 and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire will be adjusted, but let it be the people and nations themselves who make those adjustments and work out the logistics.

If we pull out, will there be civil war? Perhaps, but such is the price to pay for nearly a century of Western meddling for one reason - to claim the oil. I suspect, though, that whatever the crisis might be as a result of our withdrawal, it will be small compared to the chaos we've created and continue to fuel with our presence.

Aslan may be right, but it's also been said, "Those who ignore the lessons of history are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hageee & Parsley

There's a dark and violent Christian underground feeding on twisted interpretations with a lust for violence leading, they hope, to the Second Coming of Christ.

They're called Dispensationalists, Christian Zionists, are highly legalistic, sometimes called Reconstructionists - that is, wanting America to adopt Old Testament law, especially those parts that support punishment. If they had their way, they'd create a society similar to the Taliban. They pluck from the Old Testament proof texts that, when lifted out of context, can be used to support the worst possible ideas.

Though supportive of Israel, they believe that war in the Middle East will bring about God's intervention and the ultimate destruction or conversion of Israel. Their interest in Israel is purely utilitarian - neither loving Israel nor respecting it.

They despise the Roman Catholic Church and consider all other Christians to be either deluded by Satan or servants of Satan.

And, by the way, all the quotations assembled from the Old Testament in support of their views are without legitimacy - within the Old Testament, both Isaiah and Jeremiah offer an alternative vision; Jesus and the Apostle Paul, picking up on Isaiah and Jeremiah, offer an alternative view of things further refined, as God moves beyond the borders of Israel, and canceling, if you will, the alleged promises of a return to the Land and a restoration of the Monarchy. Israel ceased to exist as a nation in the 6th century BCE - and though harboring dreams of restoration, it never came to pass. Jesus was a Jew, so was Paul, and they took a very different tact; rather than promoting the dream of restoration, they crafted a view of God's people without a specific land, citizens of the world.

The sad and broken history of anti-Semitism that erupted within Christianity is not so much the result of the New Testament as it is the result of the conversion of huge numbers of Gentiles (all the first Christians were Jews) and the subsequent transformation of Christianity into a state religion under Constantine (325 CE). The long smoldering ill will of the Roman Empire against the Jews was quickly and decisively translated into the Christian Church as it now buttressed and then replaced the Roman Empire.

Christianity named the Jews "Christ Killers" and resented their convictions, standing apart from the church as they did. Sadly, the Church decided that as long as the Jews exist, they are a threat to its power and its view of the world.

The State of Israel today, created in 1948, is a political entity no different than any other nation. To believe that moder-day Israel is a special dispensation of God and therefore deserving a special place in the sun is to profoundly misread the Bible.

Yes, let Israel be safe, but let's understand the plight of the Palestinians, and let's not turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed by Israeli authorities every day against the Palestinians. Israel is bent upon the eradication of the Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian - hundreds have been killed and thousands have fled, being subject to inhuman treatment and the constant threat of injury or death.

Hagee and Parsley are just plain wrong, but highly effective in their organizational abilities and powerful speakers. Sadly, American Christianity in the last 150 years has deteriorated, surrendering its intellectual heritage and becoming increasingly Biblically illiterate.

Too many lambs, and too many shepherds who fleece the flock (see Ezekiel 34).

The flap with McCain is at least bringing this dark underside to view and exposing its hideous face.

God does move in mysterious ways.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

McCain and War

McCain blasts Obama for his willingness to talk to hostile leaders.

Quintessential McCain - a man still fighting the Vietnam War, still convinced that carrying a big stick and never talking at all will win the day.


We're sure setting records now after 8 years of military insanity. The world isn't one bit safer, we've created new enemies, we've crippled our economy and ruined our reputation.

Why not talk? What's too lose? What's to gain?

Let's face it; McCain plays well in the small circle of neo-cons and the whack-'em first gun-owners who love the smell of napalm in the morning - either they never hefted a weapon and are John Wayne-ing themselves into a self-created heroism (by the way, I like John Wayne movies) or they were in combat and are trying to assuage difficult memories by a ramped up "we were wright" attitude that has to be played out again and again in ceaseless conflicts.

Let's talk to everyone ... and a little compromise? Absolutely. Talking with the enemy, and doing so with our Allies, might well have saved the lives of 4000 soldiers and preserved thousands of families torn apart by the stress of repeated deployments while enabling us to divert billions to schools, children and health care.

It's time for a change in strategies, and because I'm a Christian, the reality of "loving the enemy" remains the purpose of life - and by love, Jesus meant doing to them what we would have others would do to us if we were in a similar situation. To love, as Jesus would have it, is to be profoundly ethical, fair and forgiving, always seeking the better way.

The knee-jerk reliance on power is, in fact, the heart of weakness, a weakness that can only weaken us further.

And I'm not talking as an armchair philosopher. History is replete with tragic examples of nations who sought to dominate through intimidation, only to engender the wrath of others while over-extending themselves militarily and financially - a formula for disaster.

We often talk of being a Christian nation - baloney. While the American people often possess a kindness of heart and a global sense of mercy that is genuinely good, the political machinery of our nation, especially in the years following Regan, has been as craven and as self-serving as nations can be. Only the greatest political resolve can keep a nation from tumbling into the darkness of chaos, a resolve we have totally lacked in recent decades. Sadly, we have sold our soul to domination, and tragically, so-called "Christians" have swarmed to the power like moths to a flame, enjoying their White-House influence and swaggering around with Bibles in hand.

Thankfully, their day has passed, and it's time for a new Christian to emerge, a Christian of genuinely "traditional" values like "love the enemy."

The so-called enemy deserves a hearing, and may God grant to us the capacity to listen!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Karl Rove?

Karl Rove's Wall Street Journal op-ed piece about recent Republican House loses,

is an interesting read, as he chides his party for lack of clarity. Simply calling someone a liberal, liberal, liberal, he writes, will no longer work; Repubs have to create clear distinctions, built upon the high stakes in Iraq and that a GOP approach - lowering taxes, open trade, and pro-biz policies - will result in an improved economy.

I chuckled.

Karl Rove?

The man who gave us Bush and Gang?

Telling us that a Bush third-term (incarnate in McCain) would solve the Iraq War and bring our economy around?

Of course, what else can he say?

Nonetheless, he raises some interesting questions about Obama's ability to reach the masses and offers some interesting analysis of American voting patterns. Something to which Dems need to pay some serious attention. I think Rove is partly right - the fall election is not going to be a turkey shoot for the Dems.

But now I'm wondering: Would John Edwards serve as VP? Would Obama even ask him? Could his populist appeal strengthened the Dem ticket? How would John Edwards play out in West Virginia? Ohio? Could he capture some of the sentiment carried now by Hillary?

But getting back to Mr. Rove ...

Karl Rove and company planned and carried off the great American heist - stealing our character, our national reputation and our brains, giving them to a cabal of neo-cons driven by thoughts of empire.

Thank you Mr. Rove.

I hope when all is said and done, he ends up in Crawford weed-whacking beside his buddy.

Monday, May 12, 2008


James Risen, New York Times, calls our attention to the return of Blackwater, the primary private security force in Iraq.

Headed by Erik Prince, former Navy Seal and a heir to a family fortune made in the auto parts industry in Western Michigan, this company is indeed "black water."

And speaking of Western Michigan, of which I'm intimately familiar, it's neck-deep in hyper-conservatism of every sort - a strange amalgam of Dutch wealth and far-right religion ("blessed by God because we're right") - the home of Amway and friends - strong Bush country, and the last I heard, Attila the Hun!

The muck and mire of Iraq, the neo-Fascist style of the money and power behind it, the tangled world of government contracts, Blackwater's stonewalling and the helplessness of Congress stink to high heaven.

Check out Risen's article:

For further information, see:


Genuinely scary stuff!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Settling Down

I can't find much more to say about Bush and Gang ... they're gone, but in the debris of their reign of arrogance, I suspect we'll find a record cache of dirt ... some will be criminally charged, some will even serve time ... if only Bush could be impeached and sentenced to work the next ten years in a Veteran's Administration hospital.

The New York Times carried a tragic piece on the human toll our two wars are taking on our professional soldiers - the simple truth: no human being can take the number of tours burdening our find soldiers - their character is being permanently altered, their family-life forever charged with darkness, and too many suicidal thoughts, and too much successful attempts.

Let Bush handle their bed pans and dress their wounds after the tenth surgery to repair tendons, bone and ligaments ripped apart by roadside bombs.

For a tough read, check out:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

War Mania

I keep hearing bits and pieces about a nuclear first-strike on Iran before Bush leaves office - a fitting end to a childish president who loves to play with his toys, and a strategy to elect McCain, another war president.

Hope not.

And what about Hillary and her remarks about Iran?

Is she cut from the same mold?

Has war mania infected our DNA in recent decades?

We're still trying to erase the "shame" of Vietnam from our memory, and now another shame, that of "Mission Accomplished" - I'm utterly stunned by the spin recently put on this by some Bush spokesperson - that what the banner really meant was "mission accomplished for the men and women of the aircraft carrier."

Yah sure, you bettcha!

And the moon is made out of cheese.