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quote of the day

Sunday, July 31, 2005
From author Lauren Winner's blog:

"Yesterday, I was in Kentucky, speaking at an amazing Episcopal Youth Conference. One of the Scripture passages for the day was this, from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “1Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

God bless the lectionary. This reading made my task a bit easier, for there is plenty to say to teenagers about no longer being infants, and about being supported by, and supporting, all the other ligaments in the body. I was also able to get up on one of my favorite soapboxes—the too-frequent ghettoization of teens in parish life.

Sometimes our churches don’t do a very good job of recognizing that high schoolers are no longer infants. We often say that teens can acolyte, and participate in youth group, and…that’s it. I find this limited vision of teens-in-church very frustrating. After all, the teens in my church are confirmed Episcopalians. There is no reason why they shouldn’t be lay chalice bearers, why they shouldn’t serve on the altar guild or on church committees. Sometimes we grownups in the church fall into the mistaken idea that teenagers in church just need to be entertained. But that’s a mistake.

For high schoolers who learn that church is not a place where you come to serve, but rather a place where you go to be entertained grow up into adults who learn that church is not a place where you come to serve, but rather a place where you go to be entertained."

(conservative) quote of the day

Friday, July 29, 2005
From today's speech on the Senate floor from Sen. Frist. The full text is here, some excerpts below:

"Answering fundamental questions about human life is seldom easy. For example, to realize the promise of my own field of heart transplantation and at the same time address moral concerns introduced by new science, we had to ask the question: How do we define “death?” With time, careful thought, and a lot of courage from people who believed in the promise of transplant medicine, but also understood the absolute necessity for a proper ethical framework, we answered that question, allowed the science to advance, and have since saved tens of thousands of lives.

So when I remove the human heart from someone who is brain dead, and I place it in the chest of someone whose heart is failing to give them new life, I do so within an ethical construct that honors dignity of life and respect for the individual.

Like transplantation, if we can answer the moral and ethical questions about stem cell research, I believe we will have the opportunity to save many lives and make countless other lives more fulfilling. That’s why we must get our stem cell policy right -- scientifically and ethically. And that’s why I stand on the floor of the United States Senate today.

As we know, adult stem cell research is not controversial on ethical grounds -- while embryonic stem cell research is. Right now, to derive embryonic stem cells, an embryo -- which many, including myself, consider nascent human life -- must be destroyed. But I also strongly believe -- as do countless other scientists, clinicians, and doctors -- that embryonic stem cells uniquely hold specific promise for some therapies and potential cures that adult stem cells cannot provide.

I’ll come back to that later. Right now, though, let me say this: I believe today -- as I believed and stated in 2001, prior to the establishment of current policy -- that the federal government should fund embryonic stem cell research. And as I said four years ago, we should federally fund research only on embryonic stem cells derived from blastocysts leftover from fertility therapy, which will not be implanted or adopted but instead are otherwise destined by the parents with absolute certainty to be discarded and destroyed.

This bill would allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research for cells derived from human embryos that:

1. are created for the purpose of fertility treatments;
2. are no longer needed by those who received the treatments;
3. would otherwise be discarded and destroyed;
4. are donated for research with the written, informed consent of those who received the fertility treatments, but do not receive financial or other incentives for their donations.

...Thus, with appropriate reservations, I will support the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.

I am pro-life. I believe human life begins at conception. It is at this moment that the organism is complete -- yes, immature -- but complete. An embryo is nascent human life. It’s genetically distinct. And it’s biologically human. It’s living. This position is consistent with my faith. But, to me, it isn’t just a matter of faith. It’s a fact of science.

Our development is a continuous process -- gradual and chronological. We were all once embryos. The embryo is human life at its earliest stage of development. And accordingly, the human embryo has moral significance and moral worth. It deserves to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.

I also believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported. But, just as I said in 2001, it should advance in a manner that affords all human life dignity and respect -- the same dignity and respect we bring to the table as we work with children and adults to advance the frontiers of medicine and health.

...There are many conflicting points of view. And I recognize these differing views more than ever in my service as majority leader: I’ve had so many individual and private conversations with my colleagues that reflect the diversity and complexity of thought on this issue.

So how do we reconcile these differing views? As individuals, each of us holds views shaped by factors of intellect, of emotion, of spirit. If your daughter has diabetes, if your father has Parkinson’s, if your sister has a spinal cord injury, your views will be swayed more powerfully than you can imagine by the hope that cure will be found in those magnificent cells, recently discovered, that today originate only in an embryo."

"Do You Have To Be RIGHT To Be Religious?"

Blog or Website
Presbyterian Minister and Blogger Rev. Bill asks the above question and makes this point on his blog:

"It seems that everywhere I turn these days I get the feeling that unless I am politically right wing I can not be Christian. My exchange of ideas with PBS Watcher this week made me feel he was not so much interested in reading what I had to write as he was interested in belittling me because I did not agree with him. This is a pattern I see in the "religious right" -- they feel that their opinions are the only ones for Christians to have...

This is a shame, because I believe we can all have different opinions -- God can speak to us in different ways -- and we can still all be faithful Christians. In fact, I doubt if some people would be faithful to how God has spoken to them if they follow what I believe. I know I would not be faithful to what God has spoken to me if I follow what some others believe."

BullMoose: On Frist and Stem Cell Research

Blog or Website
From the BullMoose Blog:

"After a few years of pandering to the religious right, Dr. Frist finally put healing first. If the video diagnosis of Terri Schiavo was Frist's low point, his decision to support the legislation that expands financing for stem cell research is his moment of attempted redemption.

Frist's move is a significant blow to the religious right. Frist is no rank and file Republican defying the dictates of Dobson, but rather the Senate leader with Presidential ambitions. Frist's apostasy on stem cells could presage a real donnybrook within the GOP in '08.

Dr. Frist's ascension to the Senate leadership was largely a creation of Karl Rove. Frist's breaking ranks could mean that the Rovian theory of base politics is weakening. Indeed, Rove's influence may be waning among Capitol Hill Republicans. Unless the legislation is modified before it reaches the White House, W. must veto the bill or earn the wrath of the religious right.

While Democrats have their internal differences, the stem cell issue is a reminder that the GOP internecine disputes could be of far greater significance. One should not over-interpret Frist's break with the religious right, but it could be a moment when their influence is significantly challenged. The Republicans are still paying the price for over-reach during the Schiavo episode."

Calvin on the Biblical Role of Government

Thursday, July 28, 2005
This is from John Calvin in the Insititutes on the Biblical view of the role of government. What strikes me is how he is dismissing in essence the Libertarians of his day, and specifically rejects the notion that governemnt is only "a necessary evil." Instead replacing it with the Biblical perspective of the government as "God's Servant," who is reponsible to give "aid and comfort to the oppressed," among other duties...

Here is the excerpt:

"For some, on hearing that liberty is promised in the gospel, a liberty which acknowledges no king and no magistrate among men, but looks to Christ alone, think that they can receive no benefit from their liberty so long as they see any power placed over them.

Accordingly, they think that nothing will be safe until the whole world is changed into a new form, when there will be neither courts, nor laws, nor magistrates, nor anything of the kind to interfere, as they suppose, with their liberty...

Still the distinction does not go so far as to justify us in supposing that the whole scheme of civil government is matter of pollution, with which Christian men have nothing to do.

Fanatics, indeed, delighting in unbridled license, insist and vociferate that, after we are dead by Christ to the elements of this world, and being translated into the kingdom of God sit among the celestials, it is unworthy of us, and far beneath our dignity, to be occupied with those profane and impure cares which relate to matters alien from a Christian man.

But as we lately taught that that kind of government is distinct from the spiritual and internal kingdom of Christ, so we ought to know that they are not adverse to each other...

But if it is the will of God that while we aspire to true piety we are pilgrims upon the earth, and if such pilgrimage stands in need of such aids [of civil government], those who take them away from man rob him of his humanity....

[On the role of civil government]

In a word, if they remember that they are the vicegerents of God, it behoves them to watch with all care, diligence, and industry, that they may in themselves exhibit a kind of image of the Divine Providence, guardianship, goodness, benevolence, and justice. We say, therefore, that they are the ordained guardians and vindicators of public innocence, modesty, honour, and tranquillity, so that it should be their only study to provide for the common peace and safety...

But as rulers cannot do this unless they protect the good against the injuries of the bad, and give aid and protection to the oppressed, they are armed with power to curb manifest evil-doers and criminals, by whose misconduct the public tranquillity is disturbed or harassed...

The first duty of subjects towards their rulers, is to entertain the most honourable views of their office, recognising it as a delegated jurisdiction from God, and on that account
receiving and reverencing them as the ministers and ambassadors of God. For you will find some who show themselves very obedient to magistrates...and yet the opinion which those persons have of magistrates is, that they are a kind of necessary evils.

But Peter requires something more of us when he says, "Honour the king" (1 Pet. 2:17)...For, under the term honour, the former includes a sincere and candid esteem..."

(Proverbial) Quote of the Day

King Lemuel is pretty much an unknown figure, but there was no Israeli King by that name...This is an example of God in the Old Testament requiring justice and care for the rights of the poor even from "secular" States:

"The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:

'No, my son! No, son of my womb!...It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine...or else they will drink and forget what has been decreed, and will pervert the rights of all the afflicted...

Speak out for those who cannot speak,for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.'

-- Proverbs 31

Tell Your Congressperson: Stop CAFTA

Wednesday, July 27, 2005
call to action
UPDATE: House to vote on CAFTA Tonight... Tom Delay thinks ""It will be a tough vote but we'll pass CAFTA tonight"...Make your voice heard!

Here is a good resource at the NDN blog on CAFTA, and why we should support free trade, but that THIS CAFTA was the wrong way to do so.... and also, see this call to action from Sojourners. Tell your Congressperson to vote no on CAFTA...

"A year ago, The U.S. government and Central American governments signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement. But CAFTA will not be put into effect unless it passes both houses of Congress. A few weeks ago, CAFTA passed in the Senate, and the Administration plans to bring it to a vote in the House as early as next week.
CAFTA represents a preferential option for transnational corporations. If passed, the agreement would further impoverish Central America's workers and small farmers, as well as endangering the jobs of U.S. citizens. It would lower labor standards and entrench sweatshops and gender inequalities, forcing more and more Central Americans to migrate to city centers and to the United States.

As people of faith, we oppose the economic injustices that CAFTA would only amplify."

Another Poll Showing Bush drop

One more poll showing the same thing, Bush approval (and the Republican controlled Congress) continues to drop. This polling has Bush at his lowest approval rate of his Presidency at 41%...And Congress is at a 60% disapproval rate...

American voters disapprove of the job President George W. Bush is doing 53 - 41 percent, his lowest approval rating since becoming President. This compares to a 50-44 percent disapproval in a May 25 Quinnipiac University poll.

Voters disapprove 60 - 30 percent of the way Congress is doing its job and approve 50 - 39 percent of the way the Supreme Court is doing its job.

"To Know Jesus..."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

From an attendee of the Network of Spiritual Progressives conference, this is an excellent post on Wesley, Christianity, and Political engagement... Here is a snippet:

"In the final assessment, however, the conference was a reminder to me of the value of my own tradition which was born in the 18th Century teaching of the English theologian, John Wesley. Wesley taught that faithfulness to Jesus Christ requires prayer, study of scripture, emotional commitment and intellectual rigor. This, coupled with an uncompromising commitment to meeting the needs of the poor, visiting the imprisoned, caring for the vulnerable and sharing one's financial resources with the impoverished and neglected. That's a tall order. But this conference crystallized an understanding of this Wesleyan view of faith in a new way for me. In this diverse community I heard the clearest expression of Christian faith that I have heard articulated in a long, long time.

In our self-help culture Wesley's message is counter-cultural if not counter-intuitive. It is a call to individual responsibility in connection with a community of those who are dedicated to study, worship and the discipline of common responsibilit--for each other and for the social order in which they live. I left believing Wesleyan thought is especially well-suited for the times in which we live because it calls us to a task larger than narrow, feel-good, self-help culture that is so pervasive today. It calls us to view the whole world as the place where our faith is expressed. It calls us to express faith through service; to be engaged with those who are left out, poor, on the margins, sick, imprisoned and vulnerable.

I leave the conference enamored with another thought. In this culture that is often so coarse, shallow and utterly material, I believe there are those who deeply want something with greater depth and purpose than popular culture can ever offer. What they want is something worthy enough, and big enough, to believe in. Something large enough to commit one's life to.

Here's the big thought. As a Wesleyan Christian, this means to me making a commitment to heal the earth of our environmental harm, work for peace and end poverty because personal commitment to Jesus Christ, at the level of the heart and the depth of the soul, impels one toward this lifestyle. To know Jesus is to know the face of the poor, the war-ravaged and the forgotten.

This individual commitment further impels us to collective expression of faith; to a community of faith in which we are renewed, refreshed and in which we find hope."

Likely 2008 Democratic Candidates for President

MyDD offers this helpful run down of the likely 2008 Democratic Candidates for President...Excerpts below:

"Hillary Clinton. Say what you will about Hillary, she's put herself at the top of everyone's list merely by keeping her name out there. She's lately engaged in all sorts of high profile activities that seem pretty calculated to get the voting public to reconsider their preconceived notions of her. Rather than running it all down, I'll trust that you've been following the news.

John Kerry. Kerry writes a ton of e-mail. But I probably don't need to tell you that since we're all on the same lists. As the 2004 nominee, Kerry automatically earns some respect in the race, and some instant support. While he does hold the claim to winning the second highest popular vote total in history, he was a less-than-ideal candidate running what was pretty widely recognized as a bad campaign. I don't see him winning the nomination again in 2008.

John Edwards. Like Kerry, Edwards earns an automatic spot on the list. That said, I don't think his chances are very good. He's now a former one-term Senator who had the second spot on a losing ticket. But he's staying active and staying public. Edwards was never supposed to get as far as he did in 2004, so he can't be immediately discounted.

Wesley Clark. Coming out on top of recent straw polls here and at dKos, Clark has emerged as the netroots candidate. Somewhat oddly, he recently joined Fox News as a military/foreign affairs analyst. This shouldn't have any impact on him in the primaries, but if he manages to endear himself to a few Fox viewers, that'll pay dividends in the general election.

Mark Warner. As Chris wrote earlier, voters in Virginia would rather see Warner, their current chief executive in the White House than George Allen, their former Governor and current Senator, by a 55-to-47% margin. However, Warner may want to challenge Allen for his Senate seat next year. The same poll finds Warner with 47-to-42% support to take over Allen's position.

Warner was another one of the Democrats to speak at the recent blogosphere-boiling DLC conference in Ohio, so he's definitely running for something. My guess is that he's still trying to figure it out himself.

Bill Richardson. Here's a name that came up time and time again in the lead up to 2004. Lately? Not so much. But still, many consider Richardson a deadly serious contender. He's a heavyweight in the areas of international relations and energy policy. He's a Western Democrat. He's Hispanic. And he's a Governor. It's an extremely attractive profile for a Presidential candidate.

Tom Vilsack. Last year, it seemed to me that Vilsack was secretly running for Vice President. Now it seems that he's learned that sitting back and waiting for a phone call isn't enough. He's now the Chairman of the (in some circles dreaded) Democratic Leadership Council. And according to Political Wire, he's set to launch a website for his Heartland PAC, which seeks to "close the ideas gap" and generally promote activism among Democratic moderates.

Evan Bayh. A few short weeks ago, Bayh was the DLC candidate. Now, in the aftermath of the meeting in Ohio, Bayh has clearly been pushed back in that pack by Hillary. I never took Bayh all that seriously as one needs far more than good looks and the backing of From and Reed to win the nomination....

Joe Biden. Biden's been running since about November 3, 2004. If he could have started running any earlier without looking unseemly, he would have. His new PAC website, Unite Our States, is quite impressive and shows the general tone and feel a Biden Presidential campaign would take on.

There are two big obstacles in Biden's way. During the primaries, he'll have to somehow explain his support for the bankruptcy bill -- something many Democrats have pledged not to forget. And then in the general election, he'll repeatedly run into the plagiarism scandal from his 1988 Presidential run. Neither will be an easy task.

Russ Feingold. Though Feingold telegraphed early his interest in running, many saw the announcement of his divorce as a de facto end to his chances at winning the nomination. I'd tend to agree if he indicated that he was no longer in the running. The combined stress of a divorce and a brutal campaign seem too daunting for anyone to overcome. But he's still out there, still campaigning. Don't count Russ out yet."

Full Text of the Clinton Speech to the DLC

Full transcript can be found here...below are excerpts:

"Things are not looking so good right now, with so much out of balance in the body politic, but I believe that our great party, with its own rich legacy of progress from the time of Andrew Jackson to Truman, Kennedy, to Clinton, and so many other Democratic leaders of vision and accomplishment, is poised to help realize the dreams I have imagined for America today.

After more than four years of Republican control, our government has not only gone off track, it has reversed course. They turned our bridge to the 21st century into a tunnel back to the 19th century. And while we envision restoring the American dream to its full potential, the Republican leadership is busy concentrating wealth and power, restricting opportunity, and abandoning responsibility for our shared future.

Thus, the clear mission of a unified Democratic Party is to back us out of that Republican tunnel, fill it in, go back across the bridge, and get America back in the business of building dreams again. Let us start by uniting against the hard-right ideology, of those who have used it to divide Americans and distract us from our common responsibility. We Democrats have not yet succeeded in isolating and defeating the far right, in part because all too often we have allowed ourselves to be split between left, right and center. We can and should differ with one another on this or that detail of politics and ideas. After all, we are thinking Democrats, not lockstep Republicans.

But let us acknowledge that what separates us on occasion is but a tiny sliver in comparison to the Grand Canyon gap between us and the Republican Party. Now, I know the DLC has taken some shots from some within our party and that it has returned fire too. Well, I think it’s high time for a cease-fire. It’s time for all Democrats to work together based on the fundamental values we all share, values violated every day in Washington by the ideologues of the Republican right.

And we will avoid accepting the false logic of false choices that keeps our party and our country divided and drifting. I believe we can support and prove that the Democratic Party stands for both expanded healthcare coverage and greater fiscal responsibility. We can support a woman’s right to choose that makes abortion safe, legal, and rare and reduces the number of abortions. We can continue to open up new markets for America without giving in to lopsided trade agreements that lack adequate protections for workers and the environment. We can have faith and religion in our lives without using religion to divide Americans. We can be for programs that help the poor and favor work over dependence, for greater access to education and higher standards and accountability, for initiatives like the COPS program that prevents crime, and for tough penalties on serious criminals. We can fight terrorism aggressively and strengthen our alliances to build that world of more partners and fewer enemies. I know we can do all of these things because we have done it before.

The American dream is not just for us; it is for all who will come this way when we are gone. They deserve more than the self-indulgent and self-defeating policies of the Washington Republicans and we can give it to them. We can restore America to its historic devotion to opportunity, responsibility, and the common good, with big dreams, new ideas, and old-fashioned values.

American life is not a zero-sum game. Our individual success is not dependent on someone else’s failure. We must all rise together to renew the American dream for ourselves and for generations to come. We have come to Columbus today to begin a new voyage of discovery toward the America our children deserve from us."

Latest Polling: Bush and Republican Party Approval Continues to Drop

From the latest USA Today polling: Key Bush metrics continue to drop, and favorable ratings on Republicans at the lowest point during either term of the entire Bush presidency:

"In the survey, Bush's job-approval rating was steady at 49%, in the same range where it has been for more than a year. But his standing on a series of characteristics slipped a bit to the lowest of his presidency: 54% said he was honest and trustworthy; 50% said he shared their values; and 53% said he can manage the government effectively.

Those ratings, while respectable, are 10 to 12 points lower than during his run for president in 2000. Then, voters' sense that he was honest and straightforward were among his most valuable political strengths. His current rating as a "strong and decisive leader" is 62%, about the same as in 2000.

Favorable ratings of the Republican party fell to 46%, the lowest since Bush was elected president; 52% had a favorable view of the Democratic Party."

More on the Network of Spiritual Progressives

Monday, July 25, 2005
Blog or Website
Another bit on the new Network of Spiritual Progressives that is pretty good... Here are snippets from Byron Williams post over at Working for Change, who is the Pastor of the Resurrection Community Church in Oakland, California. He is clearly right about the need for us to listen to and encourage the voice of the black religious community, as I've blogged about before...

"The Network of Spiritual Progressives, founded by Tikkun magazine, assembled 1,200 left-leaning spiritual activists from across the country last week in Berkeley for its inaugural conference.

The conference cited three goals:

# To challenge the misuse of God by the right to justify militarism, dismantling of social justice and ecological programs, and assaults on the rights of women and gays and lesbians.

# To challenge anti-spiritual biases within parts of the left.

# To support a new bottom line of kindness, generosity, ecological sensitivity -- and to replace the dominant one of selfishness and materialism.

It would be easy to assume that the efforts of this conference are merely the flip side of the alliance between the Republican Party and conservative Christians.

But there were several aspects to the contrary. In addition to the 1,200 attendees, every speaker who participated, regardless of location, did so at his or her expense.

We want to challenge the religiophobia in the left and the Democratic Party, to challenge the demeaning of spirituality, the reduction of spiritual consciousness to either new age trivia on the one hand or to reactionary politics on the other hand, says Tikkun founder Rabbi Michael Lerner.

For Lerner, all of the religious rituals are meaningless if there is not a corresponding commitment to social justice...But calls for inclusion, noble as they may be, are not enough. During the Thursday morning plenary session, at which I was one of the speakers, there were no more than 15 African Americans present in the otherwise packed ballroom.

There are probably myriad reasons, but lack of outreach was not among them. Unfortunately, the Network of Spiritual Progressives still bears the face of a predominately white organization.

This is problematic for two reasons.

First, it cannot be inclusive if everyone is not present. Second, there has never been a successful social movement that did not include the active participation of African Americans, Prohibition notwithstanding.

The immediate plan is to repeat such an effort in Washington, D.C., in February. It will be the challenge of those who participated in last week's conference to do more to ensure that inclusivity means exactly that.

But the seeds of hope have been planted. The Network of Spiritual Progressives has emerged, and not a moment too soon.

We have already witnessed that without a viable alternative, a thirsty person will drink muddy water."

Lerner: Progressives and People of Faith

Sunday, July 24, 2005
Blog or Website
Excerpts from Van Jonse's post over at the Huffington Times:

“The last time U.S progressives captured the national debate and transformed politics – people of faith were at the CENTER of the movement, not stuck in its closet. … In our do-or-die effort to set things right in America, it is long past time for U.S. progressives to return to the bottomless well of soul power that sustained the slaves and defeated Jim Crow.”

Rabbi Michael Lerner is stirring up trouble again – thank God.

This week, Lerner is the main convener of a national gathering in Berkeley, California, for the Religious Left. His “Spiritual Activism” conference will help launch a much-needed new initiative: the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP).

Lerner – of course – has been the spark-plug for many progressive, faith-based under-takings over the years, including Tikkun magazine. But this latest effort is an order of magnitude more challenging than anything he has attempted so far. And, given the stakes for our ailing would-be democracy, the birthing of NSP may prove to be his most important calling.

Lerner wants to help forge to a new alliance – of “religious, secular and spiritual-but-not-religious progressives.” This alliance will someday expose and challenge the cancer of American consumerism. And it will oppose the Religious Right’s abuse of scripture to promote war, intolerance and ugly corporate agendas.

He wants to do more than just minister to the Mall-lobotomized masses or give the fundamentalists a well-deserved spanking. He also wants to challenge the chronic and toxic bias against religious feeling, religious expression and religious people – on the left, itself.

Lerner wants to pull down that barrier, which he calls “religio-phobia among progressives.” And such efforts will not be welcome among a great many rabidly secular progressives.

But as for me, I will be praying for the Rabbi’s success. I am an African-American Christian who was raised in the American heartland. When I moved to the cosmopolitan coasts of Connecticut and later California, I ran headlong into shocking levels of anti-religious bigotry among progressives.

The implications for those who seek today to rescue and redeem U.S. society are sobering. But the facts are simple and profound: the last time U.S progressives captured the national debate and transformed politics – people of faith were at the CENTER of the movement, not stuck in its closet.

As a descendent of enslaved Africans who were told that God (and not capitalist greed) required their servitude, I know the crimes of the Christian Church as well as anyone. But as a child of the civil rights movement, I ALSO know the power of Christian faith, the power of moral appeal and the power of spiritual strength – to break asunder the bonds of servitude.

Such a movement is within reach. But progressives must abandon the old pattern of reducing the Great Faiths to their worst elements, constituents and crimes – and then dismissing all other facts and features. It is not just stupid political strategy. At a moral level, it is a form of blindness and bigotry that is beneath us all.

My prayer is that a critical mass of progressives can agree on two basic premises. Number one: any progressive approach to “faith in politics” that ignores the awful CRIMES of religiously-inspired people is dishonest, inauthentic and can never achieve emancipatory ends.

Number two: at the same time, any approach that fails to honor and embrace the POSITIVE contributions of religiously inspired people is also wrong-headed – foolishly and needlessly shutting progressives off from our own history, proud achievements and present sources of vital support."

AP News: Dean urges Dems to court pro-life voters

Saturday, July 23, 2005

As covered by this AP News story:

"WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats need to reach out to voters who oppose abortion rights and promote candidates who share that view, the head of the party said Friday.

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told a group of college Democrats that their party has to change its approach in the debate over abortion.

"I think we need to talk about this issue differently," said Dean. "The Republicans have painted us as a pro-abortion party. I don't know anybody in America who is pro-abortion."

Dean's approach echoed similar arguments advanced in recent months by former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. "We do have to have a big tent. I do think we need to welcome pro-life Democrats into this party," said Dean."

"In Defense of Success"

Blog or Website

Excerpts from E.J. Dionne's latest essay""In Defense of Success" --

"The problem with liberals, conservatives often say, is that they are too committed to old programs. This is an odd criticism coming from conservatives who regularly hail the low-tax, small-government policies of Calvin Coolidge as a model for good government. If wanting to bring back the 1920s isn't backward-looking, what is?

In fact, liberals suffer from a different problem: They rarely talk about what their programs have actually achieved. In the face of the attack on government since the 1970s, liberals have often fallen mute -- or pretended to be just as anti-government as their conservative rivals...

It is thus important news that today, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the estimable liberal organization, will release a series of studies showing that programs aimed at lifting up Americans with low incomes actually do what they say they do. The reports reflect a growing recognition on the part of progressives that after years of playing defense against conservative claims, it is time to go on offense.

The fact is that every year 27 million Americans are lifted from poverty by our system of public benefits. More than 80 million Americans receive health insurance through a government program -- Medicaid, Medicare or the State Children's Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP. Without these programs, tens of millions would be unable to afford access to medical care. As the center notes, government programs reduce both the extent and the depth of poverty.

Does all this cost a fortune? Not by any fair reckoning. Federal spending on Medicaid and SCHIP represents 1.5 percent of gross domestic product. Federal financing for the rest of the low-income programs consumes just 2.3 percent of GDP. aqFor a sense of comparison, consider that defense spending consumes 4 percent of GDP and interest on the national debt gobbles up 1.5 percent. President Bush's tax cuts -- which go in large part to the wealthiest Americans -- will consume roughly 2 percent of GDP.

And federal spending for the poor does a huge amount of good. Food stamps, the center notes, "help more than 25 million people with low incomes afford an adequate diet." The school lunch and breakfast programs provide free and reduced-price meals to 22 million schoolchildren from low-income families. The supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children known as WIC helps about 8 million pregnant and postpartum women and their children under 5. One of its effects has been to reduce the incidence of low birth weight among infants. Think of WIC as one of our most important pro-life programs.

Or take the earned-income tax credit, which supplements the incomes of the working poor. Census data show that in 2002 the EITC "lifted 4.9 million people out of poverty, including 2.7 million children." Without the EITC, the center notes, "the poverty rate among children would have been nearly one-third higher."

The report cites conservative economist and Nobel Prize winner Gary Becker, who once wrote that the earned-income tax credit "rewards rather than penalizes poor families with working members." Yes, government programs can fight poverty while decreasing dependency.

There is much more in these reports -- available at http://www.cbpp.org/ -- but the point is clear: Without government's exertions, many more Americans would be poor. This, in turn, means that Congress's efforts to pay for the Bush tax cuts by trimming some of these programs, particularly food stamps and Medicaid, are, in a word, unconscionable.

Poll: Many fear Iraq hurting war on terror

USATODAY.com : "A growing number of Americans fear the war in Iraq is undermining the fight against terrorism and raising the risk of terrorist attacks in this country, a poll found.

Almost half, 47%, say the war in Iraq has hurt the fight against terrorism — the highest number to say that since the war began in March 2003, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. "

Latest Congressional Polling

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Via the blog Political Wire:

"A new NPR poll shows Democrats now hold a 7-point advantage in a generic congressional contest (47% to 40%), "which has the potential to translate into significant congressional gains."

More bad news for Republicans:

Just 36% believe the country is headed in the right direction
Just 43% approve of the president's handling of the economy

The worry about the economy is eroding support for the Republicans in places where the president has run well on values, particularly non-college educated, older women and rural voters Graphs and more analysis of the polling results is also available.A Democracy Corps review of recent polling draws very similar conclusions."

Senator Reid Launches Faith Web Site

Blog or Website
Very cool. A start.

July 19, 2005

"A Word to the Faithful"

Washington, DC - Democratic Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today announcing the launch of his new website - A Word to the Faithful:

"As Democratic Leader, I've made outreach to the faith community a top priority and have had the great privilege of meeting with leaders of many faiths. I've talked with Protestant ministers about the immorality of a budget that cuts programs for the neediest among us while rewarding those with the most. I've discussed immigration and poverty with Catholic Bishops, and I've met with Jewish leaders to discuss ways we can help hardworking families across this country.

"My discussions have only reinforced the belief that the Democratic Party and people of all faiths share many values and goals, and I intend to continue my outreach in the months ahead. As part of this effort, it is my honor to introduce you to this website -- A Word to the Faithful. It's dedicated to illustrating how people of faith and Senate Democrats can work together to lift our neighbors up and achieve our common goals."

quote of the day

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

"So for example, if Left and Right politically are paralyzed in fighting each other, you know, we've got 300,000 or 400,000 people dead in Darfur in Sudan, and these people are fighting each other. We have to stop being paralyzed in our polarization, and we have to start working together to help some other people.

A lot of us feel that these categorizations are very effective to keep us fighting with each other, and we'd like to get beyond that and do something more productive.

I was speaking in another city yesterday, and I made one statement and a young woman -- I'm going to guess 23, 24 years old -- came up to me afterward and she said, "That one sentence is what describes my spiritual life." What I had said was more and more of us are feeling that if we have a version of the Christian faith that does not make us the kind of people that make this a better world, we really want no part of it.

We actually believe that it's right for us to have a faith that makes us the kind of people that help make this a better world. She said, "That's me."

I fear that what happens in our polarization is we stop saying, "Am I becoming a person who's more Christlike? Am I becoming a person who's more a part of God's mission?" And we think, "Am I being a good conservative, or am I being a good liberal, or am I being a good Protestant or a good Catholic?" And, you know, that can end up really being a colossal adventure in missing the point."

-- Brian Mclaren

BBC NEWS: New Report: '25,000 civilians' killed in Iraq War Since Invasion


Here is the latest estimate of the casualties of the Iraqi War on the local population thus far, as reported by BBC NEWS:

"...Nearly 25,000 civilians have died violently in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March 2003, a report says.
The dossier, based on media reports, says US-led forces were responsible for more than a third of the deaths.
The survey was carried out by the UK-based Iraq Body Count and Oxford Research Group - which includes academics and peace activists.
The Iraqi government criticised their conclusions, saying Iraqis were most at risk from terrorists who target them.
The Dossier on Civilian Casualties in Iraq 2003-2005 says 37% of all non-combatant deaths were caused by the US-led coalition.

Almost a fifth of the 24,865 deaths were women or children and nearly half of all the civilian deaths were reported in the capital Baghdad. "On average, 34 ordinary Iraqis have met violent deaths every day since the invasion of March 2003," said John Sloboda, one of the authors of the report."

SCOTUS: It's Roberts

It's Roberts. First reaction from Ed Kilgore:

"So, after all the serpentine maneuvers elsewhere involving the likely nomination of an Hispanic or a female Justice, Bush is going with the ultimate Wonder Bread nominee, John Roberts.

There will soon be massive analysis and speculation about Judge Roberts' views, and particularly his views on Roe v. Wade. But given the prominence that will immediately be paid to his 1991 Justice Department brief advocating the reversal of Roe, it's worth noting that this brief is no more certain an indication of Robert's behavior on the bench than Edith Clement's comments supporting Roe in her Court of Appeals confirmation hearings.

In the 1991 brief, Roberts was reflecting the Bush 41 position, forced on Bush 41 by the Cultural Right during his struggle for the presidential nomination in 1988, that Roe should be overturned. Maybe he personally agreed with it, maybe not; lawyers are trained to advocate for their clients no matter what they think.

But this, no doubt, will be the focus of Roberts' confirmation hearings.

Abortion aside, he is generally considered to be a well-qualified and non-extremist judge. But given his background, there are also legitimate questions to be raised about his independence from partisan and executive-branch pressure. Beyond his service to Bush 41 (where his boss was a guy named Kenneth Starr), Roberts was also a legal advisor to Bush 43's struggle to capture Florida's electoral votes in 2000.

There's certainly enough smoke to justify a serious Senate effort to make sure Roberts will not be a pyromaniac on the Supreme Court."

Supreme Court Nom: Updated: Announced at 9PM Tonight


UPDTATE: Bush will announce tonight at 9PM, some sources are now saying it ISN'T Clement. We'll see.

From the Washington Post today... The Daily Kos and others are already doing in essence grassroots distributed online research, add and compile who she is. And here is what Wikipedia has on her already. It may or may not be her as the nominee, but we'll know soon enough it sounds.

"The White House has told allies to be prepared for a Supreme Court nomination as early as this afternoon.

Many Republican strategists are anticipating that his choice will be Judge Edith Clement of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, though they stressed that remained uncertain.

"I'm comfortable where we are in the process," the president said shortly after noon, during an appearance with Australian Prime Minister John Howard. "The best way to put it is I'll let you know when I'm ready to tell you who it is."

The White House declined to comment. White House press secretary Scott McClellan would say only: "The president is closer today than he was yesterday on naming a nominee,"

"I've heard nothing official, but it certainly does look like it," said a Republican strategist with close ties to the White House. "The word has gone out that we should be ready today. And the signs are all pointing to Clement."

quote of the day

Monday, July 18, 2005

I agree with the Slacktivist Blog post today praising Pat Robertson:

"Robertson can be an important figure in what I've called the "gatekeeper" role. His support for this antipoverty effort, in effect, gives permission to his followers to support it as well. "Poverty is bad" may not seem like the most radical statement, but compared to where Pat and his followers were 20 years ago, it's progress."

RNC Numbers...

newsFrom AP news, the Republican's have announced their war chest so far... Help counter that force, contribute however you can or and/or support the Democratic party's recurring "Democracy Bond" today...

"The Republican National Committee collected nearly $60 million through the first half of the year, giving the GOP a solid financial footing for the midterm congressional elections in 2006.

The committee received $59.4 million in contributions, record fundraising in a non-presidential election year, the RNC said. The Republican organization had more than $34 million cash on hand at the end of June after raising more than $6.5 million last month.

By comparison, the Democratic National Committee said last week that it had raised more than $28 million through the first half of 2005, and had about $9 million in the bank.

All House seats and 33 Senate seats are up next year. Republicans hope to avoid the loss of congressional seats — typical in non-presidential election years for the party in power."

More Guest Blogging

Sunday, July 17, 2005
Blog or Website
The second part of my guest blogging over here:

"Political Partisanship, Uber-partisanship, and the Kingdom of God part II of II"

"Whatever Happened to Fundamentalist Progressives?"

Blog or WebsiteA good question asked over at the Christian Alliance for Progress Blog:

"Whatever Happened to Fundamentalist Progressives?"

"If you had lived a hundred years ago, for instance, you would have experienced a similar theology from the fundamentalists but the politics would have been very different. The great populist of the latter part of the 19th and first quarter of the 20th century, William Jennings Bryan, who most people remember as the fundamentalist prosecutor in the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, had a long and successful political career during which he railed against the moneyed interests of his day and on behalf of the common working person.

According to the William Jennings Bryan Recognition Project,

Bryan is credited with early championing of the following: (1) graduated income tax (16th Amendment), (2) direct election of U.S. senators (17th Amendment), (3) women's suffrage (19th Amendment), (4) workmen's compensation, (5) minimum wage, (6) eight-hour workday, (7) Federal Trade Commission, (8) Federal Farm Loan Act, (9) government regulation of telephone/telegraph and food safety, (10) Department of Health, (11) Department of Labor, and (12) Department of Education.

Now from that list of liberal political accomplishments, one would imagine that Bryan was probably a godless atheist, right? In fact, he was anything but, which was why he was the prosecutor in charge of convicting Tennessee biology teacher John Scopes for teaching evolution against state law in the mid-1920’s. Bryan’s theology was hardly distinguishable from Jerry Falwell’s or Pat Robertson’s today. But his politics were very different.

The understanding of Jesus that Bryan brought to the public square was a Jesus who was concerned about fair wages, fair taxes, fair working conditions, and the good that the government could do for its citizens. Bryan was also a world-renowned champion of peace, using his position as Secretary of State in the Wilson administration as a platform for peacemaking , rather than saber rattling."

Support Homeland Rail Security

Saturday, July 16, 2005
From Joe Biden contact your senators to support increased Rail security funding:


Last week, London was shattered by terrorist bombings, which took the lives of more than 50 innocent people and seriously wounded hundreds more. It was a shocking reminder that our rail and transit systems are an attractive target to terrorists. Since 9/11, we've invested over $18 billion in aviation security, but less than $400 million in rail and transit security, despite the fact that millions more Americans ride the rails each day than fly.

I've been fighting for almost four years to make the necessary investments to secure the U.S. rail and transit systems. Finally, the Senate last year passed the Rail Security Act I wrote with Senator John McCain and others. Unfortunately, the Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives let our bill die. Likewise, the Bush Administration refused to seek the needed funding in its budget request to Congress this year.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans voted 55-43 to kill an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill that I sponsored with Senator Byrd and others to provide $1.365 billion for rail and transit security. In the face of the terrorist attacks targeting the London and Madrid rail and transit systems, this opposition to starting to secure our rail and transit systems is simply irresponsible.

This should not be a partisan issue. (Indeed, I joined this week with Senator McCain to sponsor legislation to provide over a $1 billion in funding for rail and transit systems.) It is an American issue.

I urge you to contact your Senator and Congressman to urge them to vote to restore funding for rail and transit security at the upcoming House-Senate conference committee.

It is long past time to act on an issue so important to our national security.

Thank you for helping to make our country safer,

Joe Biden U.S. Senate"

BullMoose Blog: Other Tasks at Hand

Blog or Website
Good advice (as almost always) from the Bull Moose Blog:

"The Moose urges the donkey not to obsess on Karl.

No one can match the Moose in his loathing of Karl Rove. Rove is the purveyor of the worst in American politics. It would be a grand day if he takes the perp walk.

Ultimately though, his fate is in the hands of the grand jury and the special counsel - or according to the latest reports - in the hands of Bob Novak. Either they have the goods on him or they don't. We'll know soon. In the meantime, if the Democrats obsess on him and he is innocent of the charges, he could re-emerge even stronger. If he or another member of the Administration is indicted, however, it will be devastating and the Democrats will have little to do with it.

Republicans have a problem in linking themselves so closely with Karl. If he falls, they will also pay the price because of their identification with their evil master. Yesterday, it was amusing to witness Rove's puppet Senators coming to his defense....

Meanwhile, according to the latest polls, America views both the Republicans and the Democrats with disdain. Since the Republicans control power, they will probably be hurt more than the Democrats by Washington's growing unpopularity. But, the donkey doesn't necessarily benefit when Americans believe that they are also out of touch with their concerns.

The point is that the Democrats can't merely be the party of "no" - or "we hate Karl". While we are seething with our justifiable anger, the Republican Chairman is making serious overtures to the African-American community. And what kind of effective out reach is the Democratic Party making to groups that have been estranged from the party in recent years?

The politics of scandal do not always pay off for the opposition party. In the 1988 campaign, Iran-contra did not doom an incumbent Veep with ties to the scandal. And Democrats actually made gains in 1998 in the midst of the Lewinsky frenzy.

Surely the donkey should be pursue Rove, but Democrats should not be consumed with him. The Moose revels in the reviling of Rove. But, at the end of the day, there are other tasks at hand."

Guest Blogging Over Here...

Friday, July 15, 2005
Blog or Website

If I've been quiet on TalkingDonkeys yesterday, it is because I got a kind offer to post a couple guest collumns at a friends blog,
Dime Store Guru...

Check out the first one....Part II should be up by Saturday.

Then and Now


Thanks to ThinkProgress for this:

Former Republican House Majority leader Dick Armey 2003, before it was known Rove was one of the leakers:

"Now, there was no reason to tell the world about the ambassador’s wife. It was just a short-sighted, self-centered, simple-minded cowardly act of revenge, and who’s paying the cost? The Bush White House… If they ever find [the leakers], they ought to just — they ought to just kick them out of the White House and prosecute them, because…the greater the pretension, the greater the hypocrisy." [CNN, 10/19/03]

Dick Armey now:

"We’ve got Karl Rove, who is under this constant attack of political malarkey, who has probably the most documented case of his evidence of anyone in the the whole story. So quite frankly, I think the American people are seeing it for what it is right now. More than anything else it’s a political farce not a matter of national security interests." [Fox News, 7/14/05]

(Conservative) Quote of the Day

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

"We need more human intelligence. That means we need more protection for the methods we use to gather intelligence and more protection for our sources, particularly our human sources, people that are risking their lives for their country.

Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors."

-- George Herbert Walker Bush, 1999

NBC/WSJ Poll: Bush honesty rating drops to lowest point


This poll shows Bush's approval rating actually dropped even after the London bombings...It's now at 49% Disapprove, and only 41% consider him "honest and straightforward." From MSNBC.com:

The last two weeks certainly have been eventful ones in America and across the globe: President Bush gave a prime-time speech on Iraq and attended a G-8 summit in Scotland; Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court (with perhaps another retirement on the way); and suicide bombers killed approximately 50 people in London. After these events, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that Bush’s overall job rating has slipped and that his rating for being “honest and straightforward” has dropped to its lowest point.

Regarding Bush’s upcoming pick to replace O’Connor on the court, moreover, the poll shows that strong majorities believe Bush would be taking a step in the right direction if he appointed a woman and someone who supports references to God in public life. But a majority also thinks that Bush would take a wrong step if he chose someone who would vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

The survey, which was conducted from July 8-11 among 1,009 adults, and which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, finds that respondents, by a 49 percent-to-46 percent margin, disapprove of Bush’s job performance. That’s a drop from the last NBC/Journal poll in May, when 47 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved. In addition, the only time when Bush’s job rating has been worse was in June 2004, when 45 percent approved of his performance.

Furthermore, only 41 percent give Bush good marks for being “honest and straightforward” — his lowest ranking on this question since he became president. That’s a drop of nine percentage points since January, when a majority (50 percent to 36 percent) indicated that he was honest and straightforward. This finding comes at a time when the Bush administration is battling the perception that its rhetoric doesn’t match the realities in Iraq, and also allegations that chief political adviser Karl Rove leaked sensitive information about a CIA agent to a reporter. (The survey, however, was taken just before these allegations about Rove exploded into the current controversy.)

“It’s a bad period for the president,” said Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican Bill McInturff. Hart attributes Bush’s problems to “one part the economy, two parts Iraq, and one part everything else.” In fact, he is somewhat surprised that Bush’s ratings didn’t increase slightly after the London attacks. “I am sort of surprised we don’t see more a skew toward rallying around anti-terrorism.”

Bull Moose Blog: The Rule of Law and Power

Blog or Website
From today's BullMoose Blog:

"It is striking how indifferent the right has been about the Plame leak. It seems likely that someone in the Administration leaked the name of a covert operative. If it had been in a Democratic Administration, the right would be in a fury. 'Rule of law' would be the slogan on the banner that the right would wave as they would take to battle. Charges of treason would be the talking point of the day.

When the Moose traveled in conservative circles in the late '90's he would often argue that impeachment was the product of legal phenomena that conservatives opposed on principle - the independent prosecutor statute and frivolous litigation. In essence, the right was pursuing impeachment by any means necessary - even by means they once opposed on principle.

The response by the right was that they were upholding the 'rule of law'. 'Perjury' was perjury - even it was obtained by the unprincipled means of entrapment. Principles be damned - they were 'defending' the constitution.

Of course, the right was not terribly concerned about the principles of federalism or opposing judicial activism in Bush v. Gore or in the recent Schiavo situation. The principle of limited government was cast aside long ago for pork barrel incumbent protection and for the benefit of their corporate cronies in the Medicare drug bill. Ultimately, it is all about power.

Conservatives are the new moral relativists. If you don't believe the Moose, just ask Ralph Reed, Jack Abramoff, Grover Norquist, Tom DeLay, and yes, Karl Rove. They came to power in '94 promising to tame the power of government - now they are enamored by it."

(conervative) quote of the day

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

So true.

"Everybody who is working here is helping us to advance an agenda, and that includes Karl in a big way."

-- Bush administration spokesman Scott McClellan while affirming Presidential "confidence" to embattled Karl Rove


Closer. Bush has such an opportunity here, and on record I'll be the first to praise him if he chooses to be "a uniter not a divider" with this choice. From the NYTimes:

President Bush held talks today with Senate leaders from both parties to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement, exchanging views in a breakfast meeting that was portrayed as part of his administration's efforts to seek the thoughts of most senators before and after a nomination is made.

After the meeting, Mr. Bush told reporters at the White House that he was "closer today than I was yesterday" in making a decision on a nominee.

"We're actively seeking recommendations," he said.

Mr. Reid said on Monday that Democrats would try to cooperate in complying with the president's request that the seat being vacated by Justice O'Connor be filled by Oct. 1. But he pointed out that Justice O'Connor had agreed to remain on the court until her replacement was confirmed and that only six justices are needed for a quorum.

Today, Senator Reid said, "There are no timelines."

There has also been speculation about the possible retirement of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist or other members of the court.

Mr. Specter said on Monday that he thought practical matters like the scheduling of hearings could be addressed at the White House session. Lawmakers and senior aides say confirmation hearings are not likely to begin before Sept. 6, when Congress is to return from its August recess.

Today, Mr. Specter said, "We're retaining some flexibility on that subject," referring to the timing.


Sign Petition to Fire Rove

call to action

"All I’m asking is that you remain true to your word. When the scandal first broke, your spokesman, Scott McClellan, said “If anyone in this Administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this Administration.” (9/29/03, White House press briefing). What you do now, in light of Karl Rove’s involvement will speak volumes."

Fire Rove.

Sign on up.

Caring for the Poor and the Role of Government

Blog or Website

FYI... Check out a good couple of discussions at a friend of mine's blog on the role of Church, Christians and the governement on the care for the poor. Spurred by initial posts on the G8, the right questions are being asked, and I posted my 2 cents.

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"As one Republican said to me last night, if this was a Democratic White House we'd have congressional hearings in a second."

-- Tim Russert on the Today Show

New look around here...

New look around here, obviously.

A long overdue re-templatizing of the TalkingDonkeys blog... Apologies for the dust while I'm getting this really going...Feel free to post anything broken or any suggestions!


CNN Gallup Poll: More now Believe Iraq Made us Less Safe

Monday, July 11, 2005
"Although the latest poll suggests Americans are still split about his leadership, the percentage of respondents who disapprove of the way he is handling his job has fallen to 48 percent from 53 percent in the June 24-26 poll and 51 percent in the June 29-30 poll.

And in the aftermath of last week's terror attacks in London that killed more than 50 people, 12 percent of those asked believe an act of terrorism is very likely in the next several weeks -- three times the percentage who said so in a poll conducted June 16-19.

Forty-three percent said an attack is somewhat likely, up from 31 percent in that June poll, and 9 percent said a terror strike in the United States is not at all likely -- half the percentage who said it was not at all likely in June.

Thirty-five percent said an attack is not too likely, compared to 45 percent in the June poll.

The proportion of respondents who said they believe the war in Iraq has made the United States less safe from terrorism jumped to 54 percent in the latest poll. That is a dramatic increase from 39 percent in the poll conducted June 29-30, a week before the London attacks."

Joint Statement From British Muslim and Christian Groups

Thursday, July 07, 2005
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland is the umbrella body for all the major Christian Churches in Britain and Ireland, the Muslim Council of Britain is the UK's representative Muslim umbrella body with over 400 affiliated national, regional and local organizations, mosques, charities and schools...Today they jointly issued this statement:

"‘Deepest sympathy is expressed at the death and suffering which the series of co-ordinated attacks in London has caused to the families and loved ones who have been the victims of this terrible atrocity.

‘This criminal attack is condemned in the strongest possible terms. No good purpose can be achieved by such an indiscriminate and cruel use of terror.

‘The scriptures and the traditions of both the Muslim and Christian communities repudiate the use of such violence. Religious precepts cannot be used to justify such crimes, which are completely contrary to our teaching and practice.

‘We continue to resist all attempts to associate our communities with the hateful acts of any minority who claim falsely to represent us. In the present uncertainties, we look to all community leaders to give an example of wisdom, tolerance and compassion.

‘The events of recent years have challenged Muslims and Christians to work together in order to acknowledge our differences, to affirm our common humanity, and to seek ways to share life together. Much has already been achieved, and nothing must undermine the progress that we have made. These attacks strengthen our determination to live together in peace, and to grow together in mutual understanding.

‘This crime must inspire us to work unceasingly together in pursuit of peace, justice and respect for difference.’"

The Image of the Invisible God

In a book I'm reading I came accross this cool poem, both paraphrasing and riffing off of the poetry Paul used in Colossians 1:15-20.

It's been rattling around in my head in very positive ways, and thought you might like to try it on for size as well. Especially with the disturbing news in the London this morning -- this poem -- and the image of the invisible God it points to -- have been a source of solace.

"In an image-saturated world
a world of ubiquitous corporate logos
permeating your consciousness
a world of dehydrated and captive imaginations
in which we are too numbed, satiated and co-opted
to be able to dream of life otherwise
a world in which the empire of global economic affluence
has achieved the monopoly of our imaginations
in this world
Christ is the image of the invisible God

in this world
driven by images with a vengeance
Christ is the image par excellence
the image above all other images
the image that is not a façade
the image that is not trying to sell you anything
the image that refuses to co-opt you
Christ is the image of the invisible God

the image of God
a flesh and blood
here and now
in time and history
with joys and sorrows
image of who we are called to be
image-bearers of this God

He is the source of a liberated imagination
a sub-version of the empire
because it all starts with him
and it all ends with him

all things
whatever you can imagine

visible and invisible
mountains and atoms
outer space, urban space, and cyberspace
whether it be the Pentagon, Disneyland,
Microsoft, or AT&T
whether it be the institutionalized power structures
of the state, the academy or the market
all things have been created in him and through him
he is their source, their purpose, their goal

even in their rebellion
even in their idolatry
he is the sovereign one
their power and authority is derived at best
parasitic at worse

In the face of the empire
in the face of presumptuous claims to sovereignty
in the face of the imperial and idolatrous forces in our lives
Christ is before all things

he is sovereign in life
not the pimped dreams of the global market
not the idolatrous forces of nationalism
not the insatiable desires of a consumerist culture

In the face of a disconnected world
where home is a domain in cyberspace
where neighborhood is a chat room
where public space is a shopping mall
where information technology promises
a tuned in, reconnected world
all things hold together in Christ

the creation is a deeply personal cosmos
all cohering and interconnected in Jesus

And this sovereignty takes on cultural flesh
And this coherence of all things is socially embodied
in the church

against all odds
against most of the evidence
In a "show me" culture where words alone don't cut it

the church is the flesh and blood
here and now
in time and history
with joys and sorrows
embodiment of this Christ

as a body politic
around a common meal
in alternative economic practices
in radical service to the most vulnerable
in refusal to the empire
in love of this creation
the church reimagines the world
in the image of the invisible God

In the face of a disappointed world of betrayal
a world in which all fixed points have proven illusory
a world in which we are anchorless and adrift

Christ is the foundation
the origin
the way
the truth
and the life

In the face of a culture of death
a world of killing fields
a world of the walking dead
Christ is at the head of the resurrection parade
transforming our tears of betrayal into tears of joy
giving us dancing shoes for the resurrection party

And this glittering joker
who has danced in the dragon's jaws of death
now dances with a dance that is full
of nothing less than the fullness of God
this is the dance of the new creation
this is the dance of life out of death

and in this dance all that was broken
all that was estranged
all that was alienated
all that was dislocated and disconnected
is reconciled

comes home
is healed
and is made whole

all things
whatever you can imagine
visible and invisible
mountains and atoms
outer space, urban space, and cyberspace
every inch of creation
every dimension of our lives
all things are reconciled in him

And it all happens on a cross
it all happens at a state execution
where the governor did not commute the sentence
it all happens at the hands of the empire
that has captivated our imaginations

it all happens through blood
not through a power grab by the sovereign one
it all happens in embraced pain
for the sake of others

it all happens on a cross
arms outstretched in embrace
and this is the image of the invisible God
this is the body of Christ"

"We're All Brits Now"

From over at the BullMoose Blog:

"This morning's terrorist attack in London reminds us of the evil that continues to confront civilized people. In the past year, our politics has largely returned to a pre-9/11 banality. Stories of shark attacks, missing persons and celebrity trials have begun to dominate our attention. This event was a bracing return to reality.

The London explosions are a horrible reminder that we are at war with an insidious force that seeks appeasement from free people. That was the clear intent of last year's train attack in Madrid. However, Tony Blair is a leader who will not capitulate. He is a model of progressive resolve. All Americans, and particularly progressives, must stand with him and the people he leads.

This is a time that should force our own leaders to acquire perspective. Whatever partisan differences we have between us, our nation continues to face a terrorist threat. Our fiscal priorities must reflect that reality - homeland security remains inadequate and the military is stretched to the limit. This is the true crisis that demands our primary attention.

The fight against terrorism is this generation's "1776". Paradoxically, though, perhaps a public display of the Union Jack in America is in order."

A Small but Good Start

newsFrom the Washington Post comes good news of Dems starting to co-ordinate and nationalize a message for reform and change for 2006...

"Democrats took their first formal step yesterday toward trying to nationalize next year's midterm House elections around the issue of ethics, buying ads in the local papers of six Republican lawmakers calling on them to "start working for us" instead of special interests.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is spending $36,000 on the ads -- a virtually meaningless sum, by itself -- but calls it the beginning of a campaign to fuel an anti-incumbent fever like the one that swept its party out in 1994.

"There's a question about the conduct and the culture that goes beyond the individuals," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), the committee's chairman. "The speaker's gavel is supposed to open the people's house, not the auction house."

Even White House officials have begun to fret about the large number of senior Republicans being tied to questionable travel and relationships with lobbyists. On Friday, federal agents raided the San Diego area home of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, one of the ad targets. The search followed news reports that he had sold a house to a defense contractor, who immediately put it back up for sale and took a huge loss...

The other targets are House Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (Calif.), Rep. Rob Simmons (Conn.) and Rep. Charles H. Taylor (N.C.)."

Christians at the G8

Wednesday, July 06, 2005
From the Archbishop of Canterbury.org site:

"A group of UK and US church leaders has called for decisive action and firm commitment on poverty from the world’s G8 leaders meeting this weekend.

The London Forum, meeting at Lambeth Palace and hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, issued a final communiqué saying that the time for change is now:

“There is no place for apathy in a world which sees 30,000 children die each day because of poverty related conditions. The bible teaches that whatever we do to the poorest we do also for Jesus. We believe God judges nations by what they do to the poorest.”

The Forum was attended by delegations from UK Churches organised by Dr David Goodbourn of Churches Together and Britain and Ireland; US churches organised by The Revd Jim Wallis, leader of the peace and justice network Sojourners, representatives of African led churches and representatives from faith based mission and development agencies.

The communiqué calls upon G-8 leaders to, “provide courageous and costly leadership by providing the resources and making the structural changes necessary to eradicate poverty.”

Earlier some of the delegates had what they described as a ‘constructive’ meeting with UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown.

As leaders of churches and faith-based organisations from the United States and the United Kingdom in conversation with voices from the global South, we have gathered at Lambeth to strengthen our commitment to end extreme poverty on the occasion of the G-8 Summit.

For the first time in history, humanity possesses the information, knowledge, technology, and resources to bring the worst of global poverty virtually to an end. What is missing is sufficient political and moral will. As church leaders from diverse Christian traditions, we re-commit ourselves and our faith communities to help generate that moral will at this critical historical juncture. We call upon President George Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the other G-8 leaders to provide courageous and costly political leadership by providing the resources and making the structural changes necessary to eradicate poverty.

We applaud the progress being made in some of the poorest nations of the world on governance issues and commend the part played by churches and other faith-based communities in those countries in sustaining and supporting essential health and education infrastructures for the benefit of all. We recognise the necessity of proper investment in that infrastructure by governments and NGOs. We also commit to continuing our solid support for the role played by partner churches and pastors in those countries ensuring ongoing delivery of progress on poverty reduction by their governments.

We also applaud momentum being built by grass roots campaigns around the world who are addressing these issues and pledge to mobilise our energies, in partnership with faith leaders from the Global South, to realise common goals emerging from these campaigns and the Millennium Development Goals:

Debt – The recent agreement on 100% debt cancellation for eighteen of the world’s poorest countries represents a major step forward that should now be expanded to include all multilateral creditors and more impoverished and heavily indebted nations.

Aid – The moral scandal of extreme poverty requires that the wealthy nations do much more to assist the poorest countries in fighting poverty, hunger and disease through a dramatic improvement in the quantity and quality of aid. We are also united in the call for good governance and an end to the corruption that undermines all nations and people. Conditions attached to aid and debt cancellation must not be used to reinforce existing patterns of inequality that undermine pro-poor policies of local governments.

Trade – The structural inequities and power imbalances in trade rules that tilt toward the rich nations at the expense of impoverished nations must be reformed so that people can earn a sustainable income and the private sector can generate jobs and wealth for the common good. Rich countries must reform their subsidies to prevent the dumping of produce on world markets and strengthen special and differential treatment for poor countries so that they are able to protect vulnerable producers and develop new industries.

This is the agenda for young people and old together. We are all too aware that it is the poor who pay the greatest price of ecological degradation. It is women and children who bear the disproportionate costs of poverty while bearing also the greatest hope as agents for change. This is the time for change. We trust that by the grace of God we may all have the courage to change the course of history in favour of the world’s poorest.

2. A full list of participants follows:
Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

The Revd Jim Wallis, Director of Sojourners and Convener of Call to Renewal
Dr David Goodbourn, General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

Delegation from the USA

The Revd David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World
The Revd Rich Cizik, VP of Government Affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals
Dr. Robert Davis, Director, Mennonite Central Committee
Dr. Glenn Palmberg, President, Evangelical Covenant Church
The Rt Revd Peter Rogness, Bishop of St. Paul Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of
The Revd Ron Sider, President and Founder of Evangelicals for Social Action
Father Andrew Small, Policy Advisory, International Economic Development, U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops
Mr. Rich Stearns, President, World Vision United States
Revd Adam Taylor, Campaigns Director of Sojourners
The Revd Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director/CEO, World Evangelical Alliance
The Rt Revd Peter Weaver, Presiding Bishop of the United Methodist Church Council of

Delegation from the UK

The Most Revd Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria
Christine Allen, Director, Catholic Institute for International Relations
HG Bishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Church
Mgr John Arnold, Vicar General of Westminster
Mr Andy Atkins, Advocacy Director, Tearfund
Mr Charles Badenoch, Director, World Vision
Mr Doug Balfour, Executive Director, Integral, Evangelical Alliance
Mr Chris Bain, Director, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD)
Lt-Col Keith Burridge, Territorial Secretary, Salvation Army
The Revd David Coffey, Free Churches’ Moderator (Baptist)
The Rt Revd Mgr Henry Docherty, General Secretary of Catholic Bishops Conference
Dr Alison Elliot, Convener of Action of Churches Together in Scotland
Mr Martin Gordon, Senior Campaigns Officer, International, Christian Aid
Bishop Greaves, New Testament Assembly
Ms Trish Heywood, Worldwide President, Mothers’ Union
The Revd John Kennedy, Methodist Church
Ms Katei Kirby, Director of African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance
The Rt Revd David W Lacy, Moderator, General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Ms Anne Martin, Director of Commitment for Life Programme, United Reform Church
Dr Daleep Mukarji, Director, Christian Aid
The Very Revd Ken Newell, Moderator, Presbyterian Church in Ireland
Mr Brian Peterson, World Vision
The Rt Revd Peter Price, ex-General Secretary, United Society for the Propagation of the
The Revd Matthew Reed, Director, Church & Communications, Christian Aid
The Revd Dr Kenneth Ross, Council Secretary of the World Mission Council
Mr Peter Scott, World Vision
Archdeacon Taimalelagi, Anglican Observer at the United Nations
The Rt Revd James Tengatenga, Bishop of Malawi
Ms Hellen Wangusa, Africa Coordinator, Millennium Development Goals Campaign
The Revd Peter West, Area Coordinator, South London, Christian Aid
The Rt Revd Pierre Whalon, Bishop of the American Convocation of Churches in Europe

quote of the day: radical discipleship

Thanks to Jesus Politics for pointing this out...The Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, addressing the annual convention of American Baptists... Read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt:

I am often asked what do we mean by radical discipleship. (Help me with a rousing "Yes."
* Is it evangelism? Yes.
* Is it social ministry? Yes.
* Is it being centered in Christ? Yes.
* Is it mentoring, discipling? Yes.
* Is it non-conforming engagement with the world? Yes.
* Is it mercy-oriented? Yes.
* Is it grace-filled? Yes.
* Is it justice-seeking? Yes.
* Is it forgiveness-offering? Yes.
* Is it radical love in action? Yes.
* Is it needed in the world in 2005? Yes, Yes, Yes!