October 2008 Links

October 27

Here’s a nice obituary marking the passing of Tony Hillerman, one of my favorite writers, at age 83. This article, in simply summarizing major events in Hillerman’s life, makes an effective case for viewing him as a genuine hero.

American Roman Catholics seem to be less inclined to following avidly pro-life bishops in making abortion the litmus test in voting in the presidential election, according to Mary Hunt.  As a consequence, she envisions wide-spread support for Barak Obama among Catholics.

The Bush administration’s “surge” in the war in Iraq has succeeded in only one way–buying time for Bush to get out of office before the full extent of America’s defeat is made clear. The latest evidence of this are the concessions the Administration is making in the negotiations with the Iraqi government over the withdrawal of American troops.

October 26

Here’s an analysis on how things are going right now in Virginia politics–with optimism about the movement toward a more progressive set of leaders.

October 25

Here is an interesting piece, with video. concerning military people who oppose John McCain’s election bid.

October 23

Here’s an antidote to the morally repugnant and factually bogus claims that the American “surge” in Iraq has led to success in any relevant way.  The title of the article says it all, “Iraq in Hell.”

October 21

“report card” on the global war on terror and the Bush Doctrine. Not surprisingly, the grade is a “F.”

James Gustave Speth is a veteran environmentalist who has worked for years in the mainstream of the movement, including service in the Carter and Clinton administrations.  He issues a hard-hitting manifesto arguing that we are in desperate times that require a close-working coalition among environmentalists, those working for social equality, and those working for radical democracy.

Bill McKibbon, a genuine prophet in our day, offers a moderately positive review of Thomas Friedman’s latest book, on the need we have in our society to move decisively in a green direction.  McKibbon appreciates many of Friedman’s contributions, but gets in some incisive criticisms as well.

Here is a kind of background piece, published back in 2005 but very much still worth reading. New Yorker writer Peter Boyer, who writes sensitively and perceptively about religion, traces the fundamentalist/evangelical Christian movement in 20th century America with a special emphasis on Billy Graham and his influence in the emergence of the “New Evangelicalism” as a more moderate alternative to Christian Fundamentalism. He then describes the emergence of Billy’s son Franklin as a more hard-line successor to his father.

October 20

The New York Review of Books gives us a wide ranging commentary featuring a number of their regular writers on what is at stake in the American presidential election.

October 13

Former Christian Right leader Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer the “evangelist to intellectuals,” recently wrote an open letter to John McCain challenging McCain to turn from what Schaeffer characterizes as hate mongering.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry analyzes the anger of the McCain campaign.

A thoughtful critique of the sloppy thinking about “religion” that characterizes the recent “new atheist” writers (Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris) and Bill Maher’s film “Religulous.” Asks, “Why are the so-called New Atheists using the archaic and theologically conservative definition of religion pushed by home-schoolers?”

One of the major differences in public perception of our two presidential candidates is that Obama is calm and thoughtful while McCain is angry and impulsive. This interesting analysis suggests that this difference is a major reason Obama is leading in the polls.

October 12

A thoughtful analysis of the latest developments in the presidential campaign from a British newspaper website. The writer believes that Sarah Palin’s problems with her alleged abuse of power as Alaska’s governor are not going away and speculates that the McCain campaign in its desperation may well try the Jeremiah Wright card.

Frank Rich of the New York Times on how the angry campaigning of McCain/Palin is stirring up worrisome hostility, even raising concerns about Barack Obama’s safety.

October 11

This is an older article (“Counterscript: Living with the elusive God,” Christian Century, 2005) by one of my favorite writers, Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann. But his discussion of “political theology” and suggestions for a Christian response to various types of power politics seems pertinent for our current context.

October 10

Should Obama win the election, and should he follow the plans he has announced to ramp up the war effort in Afghanistan, will he be heading his presidency off a cliff from the very beginning? More than likely.

Two perceptive pundits, Paul Krugman and David Sirota, offer commentary on the ever-expanding financial crisis and their evaluations (negative) of the strategies being followed by the Bush Administration.

Here is a big-picture piece by Columbia University professor Mahmood Mamdani raising important questions about the International Criminal Court, the notion of humanitarian intervention, and the distinction being made between “genocide” and “counter-insurgency warfare”–all of which are being used in service of American imperialism.

A Texan political conservative, former editor at The National Review, declares for Obama.

Brigette Bardo rips Sarah Palin. “The 74-year-old French film star picked up on Palin’s depiction of herself as a pitbull wearing lipstick and said she ‘implored’ her not to compare herself to dogs. ‘I know them well and I can assure you that no pitbull, no dog, nor any other animal for that matter is as dangerous as you are,’ Bardot wrote.”

October 9

Further analysis on how the McCain/Palin smear campaign risks damaging our national well-being beyond the outcome of the presidential election.

More on Sarah Palin and the far right Alaska Independence Party.

October 7

A fascinating look at John McCain’s religion based on research of the public record prior to 2008.  The author suggests that McCain’s “god” is America.

Some wisdom about our presidential election from Ira Chernus, a religion prof at the University of Colorado.  He articulates my own perspective on this election as well as anything I have read so far (down to the support for Ralph Nader in 2000 and why things are different this time around).

October 6

Democracy Now! featured Naomi Klein today–a speech that she gave at the University of Chicago of all places critiquing Milton Friedman-style capitalism in light of the Wall Street meltdown.

Disappointingly, the war in Iraq has not gotten the attention is should be getting in the presidential campaign.  Obama has chosen to position himself as a national security hawk, though of course still not as extreme as McCain.  This article from several days ago points out that the war is not going away.

Here’s a piece from last Spring by Patrick Cockburn on how the surge has not been the “success” claimed by its advocates.  And here’s a more recent Cockburn report.

The October 23, 2008, New York Review of Books has a thorough update by Peter Galbraith showing that the “victory” claimed by McCain (and Bush) in relation to the surge is anything but.

The McCain campaign has unleashed their “pit bull,” Sarah Palin.  She’s blasting Obama for “palling around with a terrorist”–an extraordinarily contentless charge given Obama’s strong repudiation of his acquaintance Bill Ayers’ past history with Weather Underground.  What makes Palin’s charges even more ludicrous and hypocritical are her own actual associations with the far-right Alaskan Independence Party (her husband is a long-time member) that, if not a terrorist organization, at least has sympathy for some groups that are.

October 5

Rolling Stone weighs in with a lengthy and devastating critique of John McCain–arguing strongly that it would be a disaster should he be elected president.

Having already run a strongly negative campaign, the McCain forces are now apparently going to pull out all the stops. They apparently recognize that they don’t have a prayer running on the issues, so are going to focus on character assassination.  It seems doubtful that such tactics will succeed in turning the tide. However, they will poison the atmosphere and by further demonizing Obama will make it even more difficult for him to be a force for reconciliation should he win. Chances are that such smear tactics will influence only those already disposed to support McCain–but these tactics will heighten the hostility and polarization in our society.  Just what we need in face of ever-growing economic, environmental, and geo-political crises.

October 4

Reflections on the moral costs to the United States of eight years of George W. Bush rule.

One of many extremely important issues that has more or less been ignored in the current presidential campaign is the so-called war on drugs.  Here is a reminder of just how costly this terribly misguided “war” continues to be.

An interview with a right-wing Catholic who has endorsed Obama for president because he believes that Obama’s policies would actually result in reduced abortions.  As you would expect, many in the “right-to-life” movement have condemned this approach.

October 3

John Gray is a iconoclastic British pundit who often writes for the New York Review of Books and numerous other publictions.  Here’s a recent piece heralding the final days of the American empire in light of our current economic crises.

An interesting commentary by historian Steve Fraser on how Wall Street now is finally receiving some long deserved hostility from the American people.

David Sirota’s commentary on the Wall Street bailout is short and sweet–and frightening.  Is this indeed the final gasp of American democracy?

Looking for some good news?  Here are some stories of hope and change you perhaps didn’t hear about during 2007 and 2008.

October 2

David Korten is a perceptive analyst of American cultural dynamics with a strong commitment to peacemaking.  His recent article, “We Are Hardwired to Care and Connect,” provides a perspective on how our society can move away from the abyss we are headed toward.

Here is an excellent article by John Nichols, a perceptive writer for The Nation, taking the McCain campaign to task for distorting the dynamics of the investigation into Sarah Palin’s alleged abuse of power as Alaska’s governor.  Nichols points out that even though McCain’s campaign is pushing hard a version that the investigation of Palin is an Obama-partisan effort, the reality is that the investigation has from the start been approved by Alaska’s Republicans.

October 1

Jeff Sharlet is a journalism professor at New York University who has taken a special interest in the way powerful fundamentalist Christians have sought to shape events in Washington, DC, behind the scenes.  He has written a book about this, The Family:The Secret Fundamentalism as the Heart of American PowerHere is a link to a stimulating discussion of Sharlet with other journalists on this book.

Dean Baker writes on economics with a great deal of insight, it seems to me.  Here is a linkto a list of many of his recent articles that help us understand our current crisis–though his analysis is not particularly reassuring about the direction our nation’s leaders are going.

Another one of my favorite writers is Naomi Klein, author of two extraordinary books about capitalism and our contemporary world, The Shock Doctrine and No Logo.  Here is a linkto many of her recent articles.

Noam Chomsky, with his characteristic thoroughness, careful logic, and willingness to question the claims of imperialists, gives us a persuasive argument for questioning whether“humanitarian intervention” can ever be anything other than war and domination by another name.

Here’s further evidence that the Bush administration had the invasion of Iraq at the center of its agenda from early on and had little interest in tracking down bin Laden.

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