February 2009 Links

February 28, 2009

A call for those who seek to combine progressive political concerns with progressive religious convictions to embrace hope.  And a discussion of how we may pursue genuine security in an increasingly insecure world.

Public philosopher George Lakoff onObama’s moral vision.

Is it possible that the current economic crises may provide an opportunity to reshape the world’s economy in a positive direction?

Activists seeking support for gay rights are trying to find ways to work with Christian churches.

Michael Klare is one of those progressive analysts who is always worth reading–even when the reading is quite grim.  Here is his take on what to expect from the worldwide economic crises–and it ain’t pretty.

What would happen were the U.S. to significantly reduce our military budget and invest in genuine economic development that would address the needs of the world’s most vulnerable people?  What will happen if we don’t?

Why are Republicans so absolute in their resistance to Obama’s economic plans?According to Art Levin, it’s because of their hatred of unions.

Supposedly one of Charles Darwin’s motivations in seeking to find a common ancestor for all human beings was his abhorrence of slavery and racism.

Not only are the right-wing media waging all out war against the Obama administration, their main arguments are being reflected in the writing in the mainstream media–such as the disappearance of George Bush’s name in the accounts of the dismal economic news of the last quarter of 2008 (months when Bush was still in power). “The U.S. news media gave Bush lots of credit for Obama’s announcement that he will withdraw all U.S. combat forces by Aug. 31, 2010. CNN and other news outlets cited Bush’s Iraq War “surge” as the reason Obama could pull out troops. Bush gets credit for Obama ending an unnecessary war that Bush launched almost six years ago, while Obama is faulted for the 6.2 percent drop in the GDP under Bush.”

Some excellent reflections on the state of America in the early days of the Obama administration from the indispensable Jonathan Schell.

February 23, 2009

Rumors of the demise of the Christian Right have been greatly exaggerated.

According to one of my favorite writers on economics, Dean Baker, baby boomers in the U.S. have just lost the largest amount of wealth of any age group of people in the history of the world.

Here’s an argument that small-scale, organic farming can play a major role in addressing the global food crisis.

The new coalition purporting to bring together politically liberal and conservative Christians to overcome poverty is deeply flawed, according to this article, by an entirely too benign approach to the role of wealthy people in fostering poverty.

A report on the hard times being faced by many of America’s small cities–including, in this article, Elkhart, Indiana.

February 16, 2009

“Liberation Theology is Alive and Well,” according to this report from feminist theologian Mary Hunt.

From the indispensable Bill Moyers, an interview with Simon Johnson, a mainstream economist (formerly with the International Monetary Fund), underscoring the profound crises our democracy is facing with the current economic meltdown–and how even under Obama democracy does not seem to be faring very well.

Retired Air Force officer William Astore offers a timely critique of American imperialism and its consequences on our young people in the military.

February 14, 2009

According to Rebecca Solnit, it’s time to start imagining what can come after capitalism. And David Korten says, don’t fix Wall Street, replace it.

Charles Darwin was born about 200 years ago. In the stir accompanying the bicentennial of that birth, a British journalist considers the peculiar case of hostility toward Darwin’s theory in the United States.

High-level police officials support restoring voting rights for ex-felons.

A report from the front lines of the expanding crisis of job loss in the U.S.

A profile of the American Left’s big mass media hero, Rachel Maddow.

The recent election in Israel raises fears that violence will continue to be the policy of choice for dealing with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  Here’s a good, concise analysis from Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies.

February 10, 2009

What is the likelihood that the U.S. approach to the conflict in Afghanistan will be successful? Next to none according to this article. Here’s the money quote:  ”It all boils down to the one lesson of Vietnam that Robert Gates and his Pentagon brass do not want to accept – that Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis and other people in Asia, Africa and Latin America will no longer accept the United States and Europe occupying and running their countries. Counter-insurgency can prolong the pain, but it will never overcome the anti-colonial dynamic, as the British Empire, the French Empire and others all learned before us.”  Here is more on the quagmire in Afghanistan from the always perceptive Tom Dispatch.

Leaders of the Democratic Party are trying to make connections with religious progressives–except, it may be, for religious feminists.

Someday (soon, hopefully) we can hope that enough people will become angry enough that the continued corruption of our civic health by Wall Street will be stopped–it’s not happening yet. One clear sign of the limitations of Obama’s call for “change” is the continued business as usual. As Robert Scheer points out, the one Obama appointee with tax problems who has escaped consequences is Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the man who will collect our taxes, whose career has not been stunted by his failure to pay them.

For the sake of balance, let’s note that it does seem as if we are seeing (at least a bit of a) change in the new administration’s willingness to be much less negative toward the struggles of working people.

David Korten gives us some of the best big-picture thinking around concerning our society, setting out steps for moving toward a sustainable economy. Another writer on economics always worth reading is Dean Baker. A third important voice in trying to find our way in the current upheaval isRebecca Solnit, who specializes in finding bases for hope even in some grim contexts (here, the financial crisis in Iceland).

Robert Parry reports that we are heading toward a repeat of the process that short-circuited any chance that the Clinton administration would have moved in a progressive direction. Now, “The Republicans and their right-wing media allies are doing whatever they can to strangle the Obama phenomenon in its cradle; the mainstream media pundits are stressing the negative so they don’t get called ‘in the tank for Obama;’ and the Democrats are shying away from holding the Bush-Cheney administration accountable for its crimes.”

February 4, 2009

Bill Moyers is indeed a national treasure. We should be grateful for his willingness to continue to reach a wide audience with thoughtful contributions to our civic discourse.  Here is an excellent interview with a historian, Marilyn Young, and a former Pentagon official, Pierre Sprey, who are deeply concerned that the new Obama administration is headed for big trouble with its militarized Afghanistan policies. Here’s a short, pithy commentary by Norman Solomon, one our best advocates against war, on the same topic.

Rosemary Radford Ruether is well-known as one of the most important feminist theologians of the past generation. Not as well-known is the fact that she is Catholic. In her latest book, Catholic ≠ Vatican, she writes as a Catholic–and is quite critical of the church hierarchy. She refuses to give up on pushing the Church to do the good it has the potential for.

Here’s another area where the Obama administration needs to be challenged truly to be insitigators of change that matters–the reality that corn-based ethanol is not an improvement over oil. Part of Obama’s power-base in Illinois was made up of pro-ethanol interests. It’s sad that he is pushing this as something that is “green.”  For more on the same theme, see this article.

On the other hand, maybe genuine change in the crucial arena of the proliferation of nuclear weapons is on the horizon.

The world’s first out gay head of state–in Iceland.

February 2, 2009

There is a new made-for-TV movie, “Prayers for Bobby,” that tells the story of a young gay man who is rejected by his conservative Christian family and commits suicide–leading to a transformation in his mother who becomes an advocate for acceptance. Here’s a review of the movie in the context of the hostile reactions it has received from the Christian Right.

One thing that is not changing with Barack Obama as president is the commonality of public displays of religiosity–even the the tone of those displays may be a bit different. However, the United States, it is argued, is still growing increasingly secular. Law professor Bruce Ledewitz reflects on this tension.

More reflections on social inequality in our society and the prospects that Obama, et al, will do much to address this crisis.

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