December 2008 Links

December 23, 2008

All of a sudden, now that his time in office is almost over, Dick Cheney is defiantly public about his role in authorizing torture. Is this admission going to be used against him in his being held accountable or will he get away with it–thereby pushing the U.S. even further down the road of authoritarianism?

The Pope makes the news by saying protecting heterosexuality is as important as protecting the rainforests. Here’s a quick hostile response to his suggestion.

Here are two takes from the left on the Obama invitation to Rick Warren to pray at the inauguration. The first is a liberal affirmation of the validity of Obama’s strategy of trying to make the most of commonalities with evangelical Christians. The second portrays Warren as hard right bigot who has a soft external demeanor but must not be trusted.

More on Paul Weyrich, the Christian Right leader who recently died. Was he truly an “evil genius”? Prominent historian Randall Balmer thinks so.

A young environmentalist decides to take a stand to resist the Bush Administration’s last second giveaway of federal land to mining interests. Though risking jail, he amazingly puts a figurative monkey-wrench in the works by infiltrating a land auction.

December 21, 2008

Many people were shocked whenNewsweek directly took on the Christian right with a cover article (December 15, 2008 issue) arguing against the anti-gay reading of the Bible. Here’s some comments on that controversy from a leftish Christian.

Not only is torture immoral, it doesn’t work. Many of us now understand that the moral standing of the United States has been severely damaged by the now common knowledge that our nation has engaged in heinous acts of torture with the full consent of the people in the highest levels of the Bush administration. But will anything be done about this? Will is be possible to turn around? I’m not holding my breath….But here’s  a proposal to hold the torturers (including those who implicitly and explicitly oversaw the torture) legally accountable.

Some hopeful news from the labor front.  After a 16-year struggle, a plant in North Carolina is unionized.  And someextraordinarily discouraging news about the proliferation of global slavery.

How do you feel when you see the American flag? If you are a typical American, such a sight might well have the effect of enhancing your sense of otherness and superiority in relation to non-Americans. Is that what patriotism should do?

The incoming Obama administration apparently plans to expand the American military presence in Afghanistan. There are lots of reasons why this is a terrible idea.Many of them relate to corruption.

The invitation to mega-pastor Rick Warren to pray at Barak Obama’s inauguration has triggered an uproar. It does seem like an unfortunate choice.

The death of Christian right leader Paul Weyrich occasions reflections on the powerful influence this relatively unknown figure exerted on the politics of our country over the last generation.

Old Spice recently hosted an on-line contest to identify the “manliest man” in our country–and the winner was an ambitious, extreme right-wing Christian would-be politician.

Some thoughts on the symbolic meaning of the incident where the journalist threw his shows at George Bush.

December 13, 2008

The election of Barack Obama has unleashed a wave of hope that our country, and indeed the world, might begin a much more constructive engagement with our various enormous social problems. Such engagement will indeed require great energy and creativity–including, as this article (“Working Together for a Green New Deal”) perceptively argues, a “grand alliance” among various progressive movements in areas such as people who work for economic egalitarianism, racial justice, and environmental healing.

December 7, 2008

Some interesting reflections on the 67th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that caused the United States to enter World War II. Makes some sobering and eye-opening comparisons between Japan’s attack and the U.S. attacks on Iraq in 2003.

According to the World Health Organization, in 2000 the United States had the 37th best health care system in the world (even though we are number one in the cost per capita of health care).  And now, according toReporters Without Borders, we rank only 36th in the world in press freedom.

December 5, 2008

Here’s a fascinating look at prominent evangelical pastor Rick Warren’s take on violence, government, and the Bible (egged on by Fox’s Sean Hannity).   As the article’s author, Georgia State religion professor Louis Ruprecht, points out, Warren’s thought has a huge blind spot (well, surely more than one blind spot, but this one is especially problematic). Warren implies that when the Bible talks about God’s people being agents of judgment, the recipients of this judgment are meant to be foreign nations (hence, the view that the U.S., as an agent of God, has the calling to go to war for the sake of God’s justice). However, as Ruprecht points out, the judgment in the Bible is almost always directed against God’s people (Israel), not the heathen nations.  “In short, God uses other nations, like the Assyrians and Babylonians, to chastise Israel; God does not use Israel to chastise other nations with whom God is not in covenantal relation, at least not yet (the book of Jonah explores this issue in elegant detail).”

Could the tide be about ready to change in relation to gay rights, in spite of the recent step away from equal marriage rights in California? Here’s a report on post-election polling that would seem to indicate that indeed the days of the anti-gay movements’ success may be numbered.

The New Yorker regularly publishes long profiles of public figures–and every once in awhile profiles someone who is actually interesting. I think Naomi Klein is quite interesting, and this profile (for the New Yorker) is surprisingly objective and informative.

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