Saturday, March 29, 2008

Enlightened Republican

This certainly stands as one of the more enlightened Repub statements:

“We certainly need diversity,” said Johanna Bees, a Republican committeewoman who spoke outside the city library. “But the school board had to consider qualifications first.” Ms. Bees paused and then added: “One of my gripes is that all these people should learn English. When they’re walking on the street and they’re jabbering in Spanish, it really annoys me.”

Regarding a recent Bethlehem, PA schoolboard appointment wherein a Hispanic candidate was not selected.

Rev. Wright

Rev. Wright spoke out … just like thousands of pastors do every weekend. He spoke to and from the African experience in America, an experience that other Americans can only dimly perceive.

Wherever I hear comments about “the people who moved here,” whether it be Detroit, Pittsburgh, or here in LA, I know racism remains a part of the American landscape and a part of the American psyche. The KKK remains active, and various white Aryan groups continue to pour out their hate-filled invective in print and the internet.

Were Wright’s remarks racist?

Of course they were … as are any remarks that paint in broad strokes and characterize an entire race by the example of the few.

But racist or not, Wright’s remarks convey a truth that’s hard to hear. Having lived in Detroit, America’s most thoroughly segregated city, I have learned too many stories of how the white infrastructure promoted and protected whites – in everything from housing loans to assistance with civil service exams for potential postal employees.

These are well-documented realities that have stained the conscience of our land even as they have conspired to sustain failure for African Americans.

But getting back to the pulpit … and the freedom of a pastor to speak her mind and heart on matters of substance that pertain to the gospel: love and justice, freedom and salvation, eternity and faith, all matters of sin – prejudice, bigotry, greed, lust, envy and pride.

I don’t know enough about Mr. Wright to weigh in on the whole of preaching; I’ve heard only snippets lifted from a few videos.

But I know that pastors around the country and around the world speak mind and heart, even as they address the sorrows and burdens of their community.

More to the point, conservative pulpits rarely hold back on their political rhetoric – namely the now-deceased Jerry Falwell and James D. Kennedy; James Dobson, the now-disgraced Ted Haggard and others continue to hammer away politically, preaching their vision of America and the Christian life, without apology or reserve, soundly condemning those who suggest alternatives, labeling folks like me as servants of Satan and deceivers of God’s people. If surprise and chagrin is the mode of the day, let’s be surprised and chagrined by the conservative pulpits around the land.

The response to Wright, for me, is clearly tinged with racism, as if white America is surprised that an African American would hold these views and make them public. And to hold Barack Obama somehow responsible for this is just ludicrous, and demanding that Obama repudiate Wright in the strongest terms is cruel.

Obama has distanced himself from Wright and has instead focused on the positive developments within American history for the African American. Obama’s speech highlighted his positive convictions, yet at the same time, touched the painful wound of racism in the American soul.

Indeed, we have come a long way, and for that we can be grateful to God.

But let’s be savvy, let’s be faithful – there is much work to be done. Wherever prejudice of any kind raises its ugly head, let us lift higher the name of Christ and with His light, illumine the darkness that always finds some new expression in our national soul.

Turing fully to Christ, we no longer consider anyone from a physical point of view – we only see children of God!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Leave Iraq?

When American forces left Vietnam, dire warnings were issued, none, and I say NONE, of which came true.

Remembering that we and the Western powers have meddled in the Middle East since the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after WW1, that we drew the boundaries and have tried, in various ways, to control that part of that world because of its oil, when we will learn that the people of the Middle East will likely resolve their issues and create their own stability much as Vietnam and Southeast Asia did.

We're no longer the dominant power in this world - war is too expensive to mount global domination, other powers fund and encourage resistance, and the greatest power in the world is powerless against a determined underground. Though we call them terrorists, are they not fighting for self-determination, the very thing that fueled the American Revolution. And, by the way, I wonder what the British called us when we fired on them from behind trees and then melted away into the countryside?

Can we leave Iraq?

Of course we can.

Will there be turmoil?

Certainly, but turmoil is already the daily agenda in this beleaguered land. As long as we're there, it'll not improve; American soldiers will continue to die, along with thousands of civilians and militia members.

Only by extricating ourselves and staying out can the peoples and nations of the Middle East have a chance to chart their own estiny and rise to the occasion.

American, McCain and Bush - hubris has characterized our ambitions, and it's time for a new policy wherein we take our place among the nation-states of the world, manage our own household and work all the more through diplomacy.

America could and should be a moral leader!

Time to put the sabers away!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Vietnam Again?

If Bush re-fought his Daddy's war, will McCain re-fight his Vietnam?

Does he believe we "lost" Vietnam because politics and politicians interfered with the military?

Does he see an opportunity in Iraq to "redeem" himself and the military?

Will "hothead McCain" embark upon foolish adventures to flex his muscles and exercise some goofy notion of American military might?

Is McCain a threat to peace?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Medicare Threatened

So says Bush.

Billions for his war, but nothing for the people.

As for his gang, all rich, what do they care?

This has been a cruel and heartless presidency. As for the compassionate conservatism, nothing but Orwellian double speak.

Sad beyond description.

Monday, March 24, 2008


4000 soldiers dead ... and how many families devastated, and how many more lives ruined by the emotional ravages of war? And how many Iraqi citizens and private contractors?

Thank you Mr. Bush. You must be very proud.

This shameful undertaking, gutting our national treasury, spoiling our international reputation, and unbalancing the already difficult Middle East - quite a record, Mr. President. Along with all the other follies of your administration, you will go down as our worst president, and it will take years, I'm afraid, for this great nation to recover its balance, its reputation and heal the wounds you have inflicted.

I'm sure you're a good decent man, and your family loves you.

But you were either bilked by the neo-cons or in league with them from the beginning, and if you were in league with them, no wonder your father maintained his distance.

I believe the American armed forces to be some of the best in the world, but no army can long be an occupier in such a volatile region. History is filled with the tragic stories of empires who tried and failed to conquer large territories. Rome lasted longer than all of them, or maybe the Holy Roman Empire, but long before they fell, they were unraveling on the borders, and then from within. The human spirit is such that it cannot be long be conquered by a foreign power. It's a lesson taught by history but ignored by powerful nations.

I love the land of the free. I am a grateful American, but I know too much to blindly support every policy, and I know too much to trust every president, especially one who entered office questionably and then found himself the beneficiary of 9/11, a card he and his Repub strategists have played well and played to the max.

4000 lives lost in a failed policy now championed by McCain.

Shall it be 8000?


A slow bleed?

How many more lives for this foolish and unsustainable policy?

Now is the time to end our folly, admit our wrong (which will never happen, because there are just too many blind patriots who believe that we can do no wrong, and that our every adventure is one of purity and good will), and bring our soldiers homes.

Now is the time to rebuild our economy, to become the moral leader of the world when it comes to compassion and justice.

And to be utterly practical - to pay attention to China, who grows larger and more influential as we speak, while we fritter away our national resources in a wild goose chase.

The world is always dangerous, and we need to be wise, and if current events mean anything at all, we would be wise to look to the Far East rather than the Middle East.

Ah well ... so it goes.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday, 2008

McCain is scarier than ever - he's selling his soul to the neo-cons and theo-cons to win their votes and create a place for himself in history. His recent tour of Iraq was the most pretentious thing I've witnessed - pretending to be Bush! A tank-riding Dukakis moment if there's ever been one!

As for Hillary and O'Bama, has their talk calmed down a bit?

Attacking each other as they've been doing will only harm either of their chances to win in November.

What a dilemma.

And now that a revote in Michigan seems unlikely, and who knows what will happen with Florida, the Dems have got to get their house in order.

I oscillate between Hillary and O'Bama ... time will tell - we've got to stop the bleeding of the American military in Iraq, we have to find ways to re-center our market economy with a firm moral partnership with government in order to sustain and enlarge the middle class, universal health care is the only option, and we still have to clean our own house on race, gender and sexual orientation.

And for folks like Rush Limbaugh, James Dobson and Pat Robertson - tell 'em to take a hike to the far side of the moon.

They fail on the side of love - they play upon our fears and heighten our anxiety, adding further fuel to the anger gripping our society.

We can do better; we must do better. It's time to rebuild America and find our soul again.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bush - a lonely man

After Bush's speech this week, I saw a poignant photo of him returning to the Oval Office.

In the foreground, the podium he just left. He's walking alone on the sidewalk - his posture seems burdened.

As much as I dislike the man's policies, and though his character rubs me the wrong way almost all the time, he's still a human being who's done his best. I suspect he feels the weight of failure, as the economy crashes, as the dollar falls, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan grind on, as his own Republican Party distances itself from his government and so many key aids and officials have bailed out.

He's a man all alone.

What started with such vigor and arrogance now ends in a whimper.

Yes, his policies have failed.

Though I wonder whose policies they were. I've long carried the suspicion that Bush was manipulated by a host of dark characters - neo-cons and theo-cons - God and Empire folks who used Bush to promote economic and international policies that have brought this great nation to its knees.

I wonder if he feels used.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bush and Torture

A dog doesn't change its spots, and Bush doesn't change his mind.

I just finished reading an inspiring story about an American pilot shot down in the Pacific, rescued by islanders who befriended him, and for the remainder of his days after returning to the States, he devoted himself to raising moneys and helping the people who saved him.

"They protected me at great risk; if the Japanese had learned of my presence, they would have tortured everyone until they found me."

Bush has dragged us down into the muck of history, reducing us to a mean-spirited nation stooping to the lowest means possible - torture, and he defends it as an issue of liberty and national security.

Wouldn't Pilate have done the same as he watched the flogging of Jesus?

Is this not what the emperors of Rome maintained in the national interest of empire?

Maybe we are no different than all the other empires of this or any other century.

But I'd like to believe that America the Beautiful is different ... that our values of decency and courage guide this nation, from the citizen eating a lunch-counter hamburger to the highest levels of national government.

If we're truly powerful, we don't have to resort to thuggery.

Torture has no place in the American arsenal!

America the Beautiful ... and let's keep it that way!

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Will the Dems slug it out?

Hope not, but even if they do, two candidates vying for the nomination will at least keep the cameras turned away from McCain.

I have no doubt that McCain is a man of integrity and intelligence, though I disagree with him on most everything.

The easy way he says, "I'm a conservative," caves in to the mantra of the right-wing, which hasn't had a constructive or coherent thought in decades, if ever, simply because it relies upon cliches and slogans that fire up the heart of the unthinking!

The current collapse of the economy is the fruit of a Repub policy and a fruitless war that can only bring more heartache to our world, and now that the news is out, that soldiers are committing suicide at a higher-than-ever rate, we ought to review our foolish ways and become a partner with the world, rather than trying to be a world-dominating superpower - which simply means pretension and hyperbole - there is no such thing as a superpower, but only large nations with vast sums of money to support a huge military machine.

Superpowers are deluded by their own dreams, and always and ever extend themselves beyond their capacity, only to experience humiliation and loss, at which point, we can go back to the moral drawing board, or in a fit of pride, exert our powers all the more (which is exactly the trap into which Bush and Gang have fallen).

All human greatness is from God.
All human greatness becomes arrogant.
God brings down all human arrogance.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New Jersey Family Leave

Hat's off to the NJ Senate which narrowly passed a family leave plan - allowing folks to take a paid leave to care for a newborn or a sick relative. They join two other states, California and Washington.

It is expected that the Assembly will aprove it later this month.

Once again, our Repubs come through with their nonsense: "We have the heart for it, but not the wallet."

Baloney, if he had the heart for it, he'd have the wallet, too. Money always follows our values, and the Repubs always have money to support lavish life-styles, further the interests of big biz, and generally support the private interests of the wealthy as they slowly pillage the national treasury, destroy the middle class and reduce this nation to third-world status.

An earlier version of the New Jersey paid family-leave bill appeared close to passage in the Republican-led Legislature in 2001, but business advocates derailed the plan by arguing that companies would suffer hardships and exorbitant expenses through hiring temporary workers.

Billions for bullets, but hardly a dime for children. Self-righteous talk about family values, but legislation and policy poisonous to families. Go figure!

Come on Repubs, tell the truth: You don't have the heart for any of this. Do ya' even have a heart?

Compassion, justice, kindness - these are profitable! In the long run, a nation that cares for its people will be a prosperous nation, a healthy nation, a nation devoted to doing well because it feels well, physically and emotionally.

The civilized nations of the world provide all kinds of support for families because they practice what we preach - families count, and families need the larger supportive network of government.

Like Dr. McCoy used to say of 20th Century medicine: Butchers. There will be a time, I pray, when we'll look back on the Reagan-Bush gang as "Butchers!"

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Economy

As the Dems slug it out primary-by-primary, and Senator McCain cheerily lifts up long-term Iraq occupation as a good thing, the economy tumbles - the fruit of Republican economic policy - the same policy that has failed repeatedly every time it's been tried. At first it sounds great, "Every man for himself," but in the end, the richer get richer, the middle class shrinks, and the poor get poorer. Franklin Roosevelt was absolutely right: without government regulation, there is no middle class, because the middle class is an artificial creation. Left to its own ways, capitalism produces a thin upper layer of extreme wealth while leaving the 95% struggling to make ends meet.

As for McCain's love of war - isn't that what it is? - an old warrior's love of napalm in the morning? - when will Christians realize that Jesus is all about peace? For several thousand years, God engaged in war to build a nation, with all the resulting sorrow and tragedy we witness today, and then one day, God put down the sword and paid us a visit with the Bethlehem Baby. War, no more! At least with swords. Now, only a war for mind and soul - a war fought with words and charity, malice toward none, and the peace that passes understanding.

While an absolute pacifism may not be ideal, or even logically defensible, a practical pacifism is the only option for those who claim the name of Jesus. James Dobson’s saber-ratting is so far off the mark as to defy description.

The Western Powers have been fiddling in the Middle East ever since the end of WW1 and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, with the seeming inability to learn from the past, thus condemned to repeat its errors - the fatal belief that we can manage and control the destiny of millions for the sake of oil and so-called "national interests."

There is only one national interest, and that's world peace and cooperation. After all, we're all in this together!

And the economy, driven by fear of terrorism, mesmerized by visions of heroic battlefield warriors "defending the American Way," and all the nonsense of small government (which means borrowing huge sums from China in order to buy oil from the Saudis) is just plain idiocy.

Bush has failed and will go down as the worst president ever. McCain, a far brighter man, is nonetheless, a champion of policies that have repeatedly failed.

It's time for a change, and it's time for Christians to get their act together ... to revisit Bethlehem and embrace God's strategy for the world - a way of deep sacrifice and prayer, shunning violence and building bridges.