Evolution and Eden: Integrating Genesis with Fossil Records

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pentagon Cover-up, Tillman;s death by "friendly Fire"

Pentagon Cowers Behind Wordplay

by Robert Scheer

C’MON! The Pentagon’s inspector general concludes that nine top officers were involved in the cover-up of NFL football star Cpl. Pat Tillman’s “friendly fire” death, yet insists that this apparent conspiracy to conceal the truth does not rise to the level of criminality? Rather, it was “missteps” that led four generals and five officers of lower rank to conceal from his family and the American public the truth known instantly in the field: Tillman died not, as the Pentagon first claimed, in a firefight with the enemy in Afghanistan but rather at the hands of his fellow Rangers.

That family includes Tillman’s brother Kevin, who fought alongside Pat in Iraq and Afghanistan after ending his own sports career as a professional baseball player and enlisting with Pat in response to the 9/11 attacks. Yet this family, which sent two of its sons to fight in President Bush’s wars, was rewarded for its sacrifice with officially inspired fabrications enshrined in a Silver Star commendation.

For five weeks of mourning, from Tillman’s death on April 22, 2004, through his nationally televised memorial on May 3, the U.S. government — from the president on down — used the tale of Tillman’s heroism to deflect the nation’s attention from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the escalating American casualties in Iraq. Four generals were cited by the inspector general as sacrificing the truth in Tillman’s death. But another Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid, who knew about the friendly-fire death a week after it occurred, was noticeably absent in the report released Monday.

The one officer who did pursue the truth was then-Capt. Richard Scott, now a major, who had been assigned within 24 hours of Tillman’s death to investigate the fratricide. His report, submitted May 10, 2004, concluded that possible criminal actions occurred. It was never officially accepted. He later testified that witnesses had been allowed, in subsequent Pentagon investigations, to change their testimony as to key details in the shooting.

As the Tillman family put it in a statement Monday: “The Army continues to deny the family and the public … access to the original investigation and the sworn statements from that [Scott] investigation … His investigation contained the unaltered statements, taken when memories were still fresh, by witnesses to the events surrounding Pat’s death. We know … that more than one of the original statements was altered, after Capt. Scott’s investigation ‘disappeared.’ This is not a misstep. It is evidence tampering.”

The family scorned the inspector general’s conclusion of “missteps.” “The characterization of criminal negligence, professional misconduct, battlefield incompetence, concealment and destruction of evidence, deliberate deception, and conspiracy to deceive, are not ‘missteps.’ These actions are malfeasance.”

The Tillmans noted the buck stops artificially with one of the four generals cited, Lt. Gen. General Philip Kensinger, now retired: “While he is not blameless, we believe he is the pawn being sacrificed to protect the king … (former) Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.”

The family points out that Rumsfeld was very familiar with the case. He wrote Tillman a personal letter thanking him for enlisting. Rumsfeld was obviously aware that this was the most high-profile death in the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The family noted it is inconceivable that the Pentagon would have been able to coordinate a carefully orchestrated campaign of lies converting Tillman’s death at the hands of friendly fire into a Rambo-like assault on Taliban guerrillas, while keeping the secretary of Defense and the White House in the dark.

Pat was a hero, saving the life of a fellow soldier who also was being fired upon. He sacrificed not only a lucrative career but also an extraordinary passion for life that included his marriage to a wonderful woman, his years of education in which he was distinguished as a scholar as well as an athlete, and the enormous love of his family and community.

He deserved the Silver Star granted him posthumously, but not for the phony reasons cited in the declaration. As the Tillman family put it, “the award of the Silver Star appears more than anything to be part of a cynical design to conceal the real events from the family and the public, while exploiting the death of our beloved Pat as a recruitment poster.”

They are right. As the family stated, “In three years of struggling with the Pentagon’s public affairs apparatus, we have never been dealt with honestly. We will now shift our efforts into Congress, to which we appeal for investigation.” A congressional investigation into the administration’s cynical exploitation of Tillman’s sacrifice is long overdue.

E-mail Robert Scheer at Rscheer@truthdig.com. He is married to Chronicle Deputy Editor Narda Zacchino, who is co-authoring a book with Mary Tillman.

Copyright © 2007 Truthdig, L.L.C.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Moral Reckoning.

Americans Face A Moral Reckoning

by James Carroll

YOU HAVE been reading “The Sorrow of War” by Bao Ninh, the classic account of what in Vietnam is called the American war. The title of Bao Ninh’s novel captures the feeling of grief and loss that always comes in the wake of violent conflict. Allowing room for fear, grief, and loss must define the dominant experience in Iraq today, where the suffering caused by this American war mounts inexorably.

But sorrow has also emerged as a note of life in the Unites States lately. Many comparisons are drawn between this nation’s misadventures in Iraq and Vietnam, but what you are most aware of is the return of a clenched feeling in your chest, a knot of distressed sadness that is tied to your country’s reiteration of the tragic error. After the chaotic end of the Vietnam War in 1975, you were like many Americans in thinking with relief that the nation would never know — or cause — such sorrow again.

The sorrow is back. Everywhere you go, friends greet one another with a choked acknowledgment of a nearly unspeakable frustration at what unfolds in Iraq. This seems true whether people oppose the war absolutely, or only on pragmatic terms; whether they want US troops out at once, or over time. Even about those distinctions, little remains to be said. Bush’s contemptuous carelessness, his inner circle’s corrupt enabling, the Pentagon’s dependable launching of folly after folly, the Democrats’ ineffectual kibitzing, even your heartfelt concern for the troops — these subjects have exhausted themselves. The “surge” of the January escalation was preceded by the surge of public anguish that resulted in Republican losses in November. That election was a stirring rejection of the administration’s purposes in Iraq, a rejection promptly seconded by the Iraq Study Group. But so what? Bush’s purposes hold steady, and their poison tide now laps at Iran.

Why should you not be demoralized and depressed? But the sorrow of war goes deeper than the mistaken policies of a stubborn president. Next to Bao Ninh’s book on your shelf stands “The Sorrows of Empire” by Chalmers Johnson. That title suggests how far into the bone of your nation the pins of this problem are sunk.

In effect, the disastrous American war in Iraq is the text, while America’s militarized way of being in the world is the context. Armed power at the service of US economic sway has made a putative enemy of a vast population around the globe, and that enemy’s vanguard are the terrorists. Violent opposition to the American agenda increases with each surge from Washington, whatever its character. Both text and context reveal that every dream of empire brings sorrow, obviously so to the victims of imperial violence, but also to the imperial dreamers, whether or not they consciously associate with what is being done in their name.

But the word sorrow implies more than grief and loss. The palpable sadness of a people reluctantly at war can push toward a fuller moral reckoning with the condition of a nation that has made its own economic supremacy an absolute value. To take on the question of an economy advanced with little regard for its sustainability, much less for its justice, implies a move away from the focus on Bush’s venality to a broader responsibility. How do the sorrows of war and empire implicate you?

The simplest truth is that the economic system that so benefits you is steadily eroding democracy by transferring the power to shape the future, both within states and among them, to ever smaller elites. At the same time, wealth multiplies and concentrates itself, while impoverishing more and more human beings.

Everything from US oil consumption, to global trade structures, to the iron law of cheap labor, to immigration policies, to the psychology of the gated community, to the gated idea of national sovereignty, to the distractions of celebrity culture — all of this supports what is called the American way of life. Yours.

If finally seen to be the source of multiple sorrows at home and abroad, can this way of life prompt a deeper confrontation with its true costs and consequences? You need not reduce social ills to personal morality — or let Bush off the hook for his wholly owned war — to acknowledge the complicity attached to mere citizenship in a war-making, imperial nation. In that case, can you measure your sorrow against the word’s other meaning, which is contrition?

James Carroll’s column appears regularly in the Globe.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Disobedience is sometimes required. Salt Lake City Mayor, worth reading.

In Utah
The Culture of Obedience is Opposed.

SALT LAKE CITY — Rocky Anderson may not be the most liberal mayor in America. But here in the most conservative state, he might as well be.

Just being himself is enough to galvanize, divide or enrage people who have followed his career as Salt Lake City’s mayor, and who are now watching him become, in the twilight of his final term, a national spokesman for the excoriation and impeachment of President Bush.

[“President Bush is a war criminal,” Mr. Anderson, a Democrat, said at a rally here on Monday marking the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq. “Let impeachment be the first step toward national reconciliation — and toward penance for the outrages committed in our nation’s name.”]

Mr. Anderson, a 55-year-old lapsed Mormon and former civil litigator with a rich baritone and a mane of patrician-silver hair, is no stranger to strong talk and political stances that leave his audiences breathless with exasperation, admiration or sometimes a mixture of both.

He has presented his densely footnoted constitutional argument against Mr. Bush’s presidency in speeches from the Washington Legislature to peace rallies in Washington, D.C., making him a favorite punching bag of conservative talk show hosts and bloggers well beyond his home state. [He went on Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News on Tuesday, for example, and Mr. O’Reilly promptly called him “a kook.”]

Mr. Anderson cheerfully conceded in an interview in his office that he had no hope whatsoever of a statewide political future in Utah because people outside Salt Lake City — who are far more likely to be conservative, Republican and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — are likely to hate him. But in what has been a trademark of his seven years in office, he can seem equally disdainful of those who disdain him.

“There’s a real resistance to change and an almost pathological devotion to leaders simply because they’re leaders,” he said, in describing fellow Utahans who do not share his views and who in large numbers support the president (and gave him 72 percent of their vote in 2004). “There’s a dangerous culture of obedience throughout much of this country that’s worse in Utah than anywhere.”

Critics and supporters alike agree that Mr. Anderson — whose given name is Ross but who is known by almost everyone here as Rocky, with no last name necessary — is genuinely passionate and devoted to the causes he has brought to the mayor’s office, including global warming, genocide in Darfur, gay and lesbian rights and the war in Iraq.

But those efforts, many people say, have sometimes made him seem like more of a mayor to the world than a fix-the-potholes, sweep-the-sidewalks business-booster for this city of 180,000 people.

And in pursuing those political interests with the same confrontational style that he has brought to the fight for impeachment in recent months, Mr. Anderson has left burned bridges behind him the way other people leave fingerprints.

“What he’s doing lets people know that free speech is alive and well in Salt Lake City,” said K. Eric Jergensen, a member of the City Council, which, like the mayor’s office, is formally nonpartisan, though Mr. Jergensen described himself as a Republican.

“But it seems we’ve lost our ability to sit down amicably and discuss things,” Mr. Jergensen added. “When we step to the rhetorical sidelines and all we do is spit venom and fire, it isn’t effective.”

Mr. Anderson, who described himself as an exacting boss — others say workaholic micromanager — has gone through City Hall employees with blazing regularity, including at least five chiefs of staff.

In 2001, he alienated the Republican-controlled Legislature by joining with environmentalists and mass-transit advocates in a lawsuit to block a major north-south highway project that Mr. Anderson said would harm air quality and wetlands near the Great Salt Lake.

He rarely went to the Capitol after that to lobby on the city’s behalf, City Council members and former staff members said, because everybody knew it would be counterproductive.

Even some fellow Democrats say the city probably suffered from the anti-Rocky backlash.

“He is one of those politicians who people love to hate, and sometimes he gave the Legislature a great excuse not to do their jobs where Salt Lake City was concerned,” said Nancy Saxton, a Democrat and City Council member who is running for mayor in the November election.

Mr. Anderson announced last July that he would not seek a third term, saying he wanted to devote the rest of his life to grass-roots organizing involving human rights and global warming. He said in the interview that he had not made specific plans.

One of the mayor’s former chiefs of staff, Deeda Seed, who was fired in 2005, described her former boss this way: “I used to be good friends with him. He’s incredibly intelligent. He is delightful to talk to. He can be a really, really good friend. He could just benefit from a little therapy.”

(Ms. Seed said Mr. Anderson fired her after they disagreed on policy issues, including how to handle the news media. He said she was “almost a complete disaster as an employee and I had no choice but to fire her.”)

Supporters say Mr. Anderson has made Utah more interesting, at the very least, by highlighting the political diversity that exists at the state’s heart, in the state’s capital and largest city. He first won office in 1999, and re-election in 2003, essentially by winning the votes of non-Mormons, who constitute about 55 percent of the city’s population. (Statewide, Mormons constitute about two-thirds of the population.) In his last election, he got 54 percent of the vote, even though about 80 percent of Mormons voted against him, he said.

Those election patterns — non-Mormons mostly for Mr. Anderson, Mormons mostly against — set the rhythm for a mayoral administration that many people say has isolated Salt Lake City even more by emphasizing that the city’s political and cultural distinctiveness is also about religion and that being non-Mormon is synonymous with being liberal and urban and different.

“It’s embarrassing for the rest of us; Mayor Anderson is so over the top, nobody wants to be associated with him,” said Matthew R. Godfrey, mayor of the nearby city of Ogden. Mr. Godfrey said Mr. Anderson had not worked well with other mayors across the state and that he was out of step with fellow Utahans.

Mr. Anderson, who has been married and divorced twice, with a son now in college, said he believed that divisiveness could be a virtue. For too long, he said, Democrats have run toward the center, away from confrontation. And in a conservative place like Utah, he said, he just has to push harder.

“If you take a principled point of view and people fall down on one side or the other, you can either be characterized as being principled or being tough,” he said. “Or you can be dismissed as being divisive, and I think if that’s the definition of divisive, we need more people in politics who are divisive.”

Dan Frosch contributed reporting from Denver.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

While Democratic Congress dithers, troops continue to die and death squads reign the streets

Congress, End the War
The Nation

02 April 2007 Issue

"War is over, if you want it," declared John Lennon in the thick of the Vietnam nightmare. To the extent that Lennon's "you" referred to the US Congress, he was right, then and now. The House and Senate have the authority to end the war in Iraq quickly, efficiently and honorably. Claims to the contrary by George W. Bush and his apologists are at odds with every intention of the authors of the Constitution. Which part of "Congress shall have the power to declare war... to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces...to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers" does the White House fail to understand? Unfortunately, it may be the same part that cautious Congressional leaders have trouble comprehending.

Democrats gained control of Congress in November with the charge to bring the occupation to a swift conclusion. Yet, as we mark the fourth anniversary of the war, the story of the 110th Congress still seems to be one of an opposition party struggling to come to grips with its authority to upend a President's misguided policies. Nothing has illustrated the lack of direction so agonizingly as the debates over nonbinding resolutions opposing the troop surge; weeks went into advancing measures that, as their names confirmed, were inconsequential. For a time, it seemed as if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been so effective on the domestic front, was ceding any real leadership role on foreign policy.

With the announcement of spending legislation that includes benchmarks for progress in Iraq, and a plan to begin withdrawing troops if those benchmarks are unmet, Pelosi has begun to define a Democratic opposition to Bush's policies. But she has not gone nearly far enough. While Democratic leaders are finally arguing for a withdrawal timeline, it is not the right one. Theoretically, the plan would create the potential for withdrawal of some troops in six months. Realistically, because it lacks adequate monitoring mechanisms - Pelosi says determinations about the benchmarks would be a "subjective call" - the best bet is that even if the Democratic plan were to overcome all the hurdles blocking its enactment, there would be no withdrawals for more than a year.

Forcing Americans and Iraqis to die for Bush's delusions for another year while emptying the Treasury at a rate of more than $1 billion a week is unconscionable. That is why House members who have battled hardest to end the war are so frustrated with Pelosi's approach. "This plan would require us to believe whatever the President would tell us about progress that was being made," says Representative Maxine Waters, speaking for the bipartisan Out of Iraq Caucus. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Lynn Woolsey has been blunter, saying of the legislation, "There's no enforcement mechanism."

Waters and Woolsey are right. While we respect efforts by antiwar Democrats like Jim McDermott and Jerrold Nadler to negotiate with Pelosi in hopes of improving the legislation, conservative Blue Dog Democrats have already signaled that the price of their support will be the removal of any teeth put into the plan by progressives. Worse, they have tampered with the legislation in ways that may even encourage Bush's interventionist tendencies: The Democratic proposal for a timeline originally included a provision that would have required Bush to seek Congressional approval before using military force against Iran. But under pressure from conservative members of her caucus and lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Pelosi removed the language. By first including the provision and then removing it, Pelosi and her aides have given Bush an opening to claim that he does not require Congressional approval for a wider war.

The haggling over compromises points up the flaw in Pelosi's approach: It is too soft, too slow, too open to lobbying mischief and abuse by a President who has done nothing but abuse Congress for six years. America and the world are not crying out for a timeline that might begin extracting troops from Iraq a year from now. Almost 200 American soldiers, and thousands of Iraqis, have died since the Democrats took control of Congress. To accept that the war will go on for another year, at the least, is to accept that the death toll will continue to mount.

Democrats should recognize that the time has come to use the full power accorded Congress in time of war: the power of the purse. As Senator Russ Feingold says, "Some will claim that cutting off funding for the war would endanger our brave troops on the ground. Not true. The safety of our servicemen and -women in Iraq is paramount, and we can and should end funding for the war without putting our troops in further danger."

Instead of negotiating with Bush to give him another year of his war before facing consequences, Democrats should refuse to write another blank check. They should instead support Representative Barbara Lee's proposal to fully fund the withdrawal of US soldiers and military contractors from Iraq. Lee would give military commanders the resources they need to withdraw all troops by the end of the year by mandating that emergency supplemental funding be used only for that purpose.

There may not be enough Democratic and renegade Republican votes to win House passage of Lee's legislation - at least not initially. But tremendous educational and practical progress can be made by just saying no, as loudly as possible, to a President who has not gotten enough resistance from Congress. Setting up a conflict between Bush's desire to keep troops in Iraq through the end of his presidency and a plan to bring them home this year sharpens the debate at a time when the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that a majority of Americans now favor setting a clear deadline. Even as Bush blusters on about staying the course - or whatever the slogan of the moment may be - he is feeling the pressure to end this war. Indeed, he has already split with Vice President Cheney and other Administration hardliners on the issue of engaging diplomatically with Iran and Syria.

No matter what the ultimate exit strategy, engaging in regional diplomacy to help contain the civil war in Iraq and provide more international assistance to the Iraqi people is an essential step in repositioning the United States to be a constructive force in the region, as opposed to serving as a catalyst for a wider sectarian war. The Bush Administration's dawning recognition of this fact will be heightened and extended only if war foes maintain their resolve. If the debate in Congress is about whether to attach a few soft benchmarks to Bush's request for more money to maintain the occupation on his terms, he will feel little sense of urgency. But if the debate is about whether to provide only the money needed to bring the troops home, Bush will understand that time is running out for his strategy - and that he can no longer afford to casually dismiss diplomacy and the logic of withdrawal.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Women's War, highly recommended NY Times Magazine, March 18

March 18, 2007

The Women's War

On the morning of Monday, Jan. 9, 2006, a 21-year-old Army specialist named Suzanne Swift went AWOL. Her unit, the 54th Military Police Company, out of Fort Lewis, Wash., was two days away from leaving for Iraq. Swift and her platoon had been home less than a year, having completed one 12-month tour of duty in February 2005, and now the rumor was that they were headed to Baghdad to run a detention center. The footlockers were packed. The company's 130 soldiers had been granted a weekend leave in order to go where they needed to go, to say whatever goodbyes needed saying. When they reassembled at 7 a.m. that Monday, uniformed and standing in immaculate rows, Specialist Swift, who during the first deployment drove a Humvee on combat patrols near Karbala, was not among them.

Swift would later say that she had every intention of going back to Iraq. But in the weeks leading up to the departure date, she started to feel increasingly anxious. She was irritable, had trouble sleeping at night, picked fights with friends, drank heavily. ''I was having a lot of little freakouts,'' she told me when I went to visit her in Washington State last summer. ''But I was also ready to go. I was like, 'O.K., I can do this.'''

The weekend before the deployment was to start, however, Swift drove south to her hometown, Eugene, Ore., to visit with her mother and three younger siblings. The decision to flee, she says, happened in a split second on Sunday night. ''All my stuff was in the car,'' she recalls. ''My keys were in my hand, and then I looked at my mom and said: 'I can't do this. I can't go back there.' It wasn't some rational decision. It was a huge, crazy, heart-pounding thing.''

for more see

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Most powerful VP in history: revealed as a vindictive, inflexible ideologue, Cheney

His Own Worst Enemy
By Robert Scheer

Tuesday 13 March 2007

The unctuous owl has hooted again. Only this time, Dick Cheney's cave has been invaded by the sudden sunlight of judicial and congressional revelations, making him appear more pathetic than intimidating as he once again charges critics of the Iraq war with giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

"A full validation of the al-Qaida strategy" are the shameless, slandering words the most powerful vice president in American history flung Monday at congressional critics of the war-including those from his own party.

While he is still as dangerous as any cornered animal, Cheney stands brightly revealed as the main culprit in cherry-picking the evidence to make the case for a stupid, failed war. He has been exposed as a vindictive, inflexible ideologue, who attempts to destroy all who publicly disagree with him, such as former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Wilson's CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame Wilson. His extensive ties and loyal political service to energy and defense companies such as Halliburton (which now, in a burst of honesty, is moving its headquarters to Dubai), reveal him to be a man of deep corruption.

Like Nixon during Watergate, Cheney is now shrilly on the defensive. "National security made me do it!" he insists, clinging to pseudo-patriotism, that last refuge of scoundrels. But it is an argument that no longer flies with a public that has caught on to the rhythm of his screechy lies. After all, this is the leader, dominating a weak president, who pushed so hard for a complete occupation of a Muslim country not linked to 9/11. A man who hung his arguments for adventuristic war on known falsehoods, such as the attempted purchase of yellowcake uranium in Niger.

In fact, the recent terrorist bombing in Afghanistan that came too close to ending the vice president's life aptly underscored just how reckless the decision was to direct our policy away from the religious fanatics of al-Qaida, based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and instead pour our resources into overthrowing Osama bin Laden's sworn enemy, Saddam Hussein.

Of course, things have changed quite a bit since then for formerly secular Iraq. Ironically, Cheney's remarks on Monday correctly evoke the nightmare world of religious fratricide that is the Bush administration's legacy to Iraq. If the United States withdraws, "Shiite extremists backed by Iran could be in all-out war with Sunni extremists, led by al-Qaida and remnants of the old Saddam regime," Cheney told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the leading pro-Israel lobbying organization.

What he neglected to mention is that those Shiite extremists are militias associated with the very pro-Iran political parties that the Bush administration brought to power and sustains in the surreally isolated Green Zone, or that our presence in Iraq is the main recruitment tool for the Sunni militants who oppose the Shiite majority.

The argument for troop withdrawal is that, after four years of occupation, the presence of U.S. troops on every street corner in Baghdad is part of the problem, not the solution. As the French learned in Algeria, the Russians in Afghanistan and the Israelis in the Palestinian territories, foreign occupation is the mother's milk of terrorism.

It is thus Cheney who has played right into al-Qaida's plans, heightening tension between the U.S. and the Arab and Muslim worlds by evoking an image of U.S. imperial conquest of Mideast oil resources. His palpable disdain for civil liberties, bald-faced lies and support for torture have even tarnished the reputation of democracy itself, which has to please tyrants and theocrats everywhere.

As if we needed more evidence, the conviction last week of Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, provided ample evidence of the vice president's bottomless cynicism. Surely congressional investigators will now ask Cheney, among other awkward questions, what he meant in that note he wrote to himself prior to the conviction stating, "Not going to ... sacrifice the guy who was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others." Who could have ordered Libby to break the law, other than his boss?

If the occupation had gone well, of course, Cheney wouldn't be under fire. But as it heads into its fifth year, the only winners in this war are the aforementioned radical Shiites, Iran, mercenaries, al-Qaida, oil companies and military contractors such as Halliburton, which has scooped up $27 billion in contracts paid with our taxes. Now Halliburton is making its home in an undemocratic oil-garchy so distasteful to Americans that we wouldn't let a company from there manage our ports.

Perhaps Cheney, in disgrace, can build his retirement cave there.

Monday, March 12, 2007

REform and REclaim Christianity, now? from fundies

ublished on Sunday, March 11, 2007 by CommonDreams.org
Time for Reform: It is to Reclaim Christianity
It is to reclaim Christianity
by Karen Horst Cobb

Violent Christians do not represent the face of Christ to the world! There are many who share this belief. We do not have paid lobbyists, vast hours of radio and television airtime or personal friendships with the president. What we do have is a passion for community. The time has come to reclaim the meaning of Christ’s message. On March 16th we are gathering at the National Cathedral and walking to the White House. Thousands of us will embrace the White House in a large circle. We are proclaiming the “Christian Peace Witness for Iraq.”

Several years ago when the war cries were sounded Jerry Falwell demonstrated how corrupt Christianity has become. He said “ you’ve go to kill the terrorists before the killing stops…if it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” This in no way resembles the teachings of Jesus but serves the goals of Empire by rallying the masses to war. Many of us are refusing to join the Christian war party and want reform.

Popular evangelists preach the "prosperity gospel" of money and power. The mega-church movements teach that Christians are to come to power and will rule the world as they hold themselves up as good seek the punishment of those they declare are evil. Rather than teaching compassion and grace, they lead followers to the economic theories of the free market and capitalism and glorify the empire’s conquests through military force.

The most influential Christian leaders today have joined John Hagee in Christians United for Israel . Hagee calls religious leaders "America’s Generals" and views the European Union as the anti-Christ. Just like the Christian leaders of the 1st millennium who served the empire of Constantine, these leaders are betting on the end times. They are anxious for the battle of Armageddon and serve the goals of worldly empire following nuclear war.

The Church serves the powerful empire and the empire serves the powerful Church. They share common goals. Both are hoping to gain more wealth, power and influence. There are many Christians in America however, who despise this modern form of state sponsored militarized Christianity and we are coming together on March 16th.

The cycle of military state sponsored Christianity and the reclaiming of peaceful Christianity continues century after century. There is always a remnant who remain faithful to the gospel of love. We often remember the causalities of war but the causalities of peace are most often forgotten. But, it is Christian Martyrs of the past who have encouraged and taught us what it means to love as Christ loved. We are nearing the peak of the this cycle of corruption and reform. We will reclaim the real message of Jesus once again. The message of Jesus is love in the face of fear. We are the face of Christ on the earth today.

Much like Martin Luther and the radical reformers of the middle ages the "new age" Christian reformers will do the equivalent of nailing our thesis to the door the National Cathedral. A church or a cathedral should never be the place to pray for the destruction of others and to bless the dropping of bombs. Join us as we stand up on March 16th.

The thesis I want to post on the door of our nation’s cathedral are the following:

  • Kindness and generosity are the characteristics of Christ
  • One cannot kill for Jesus
  • The new Jerusalem is not real estate
  • Jesus did not teach capitalism
  • The free market is not the "good news"
  • Punishment does not save
  • The word of God is not a book
  • One honest person can impact more than a multitude
  • Comfort is not our birthright.

It is time to reform and to reclaim Christianity!

Karen Horst Cobb lives in rural New Mexico. She writes a weekly column for Every Church a Peace Church. Contact Karen at cairnhcobb@msn.com and find her other articles, speeches and lectures at http://karencobb.blogspot.com She asserts: There is no GI-Joe Jesus and Just War theory is - Just a war theory .

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Love, War, Libby and Loyalty, who wins and who loses, and what a terrible price we are paying

Fineman: Libby Verdict's Long Shadow
The vice president's former chief of staff faces jail time. But his boss, Dick Cheney, becomes a political liability as never before.
By Howard Fineman
Updated: 5:47 p.m. ET March 6, 2007

March 6, 2007 - The stunning, vehement verdict in the Scooter Libby trial—that he lied, repeatedly, big time—isn’t really about Scooter Libby at all. It is about how and why we went to war in Iraq, and about how Vice President Dick Cheney got us there. Loyalty is everything to President George W. Bush, and I don’t expect him to march into Cheney’s office to demand a resignation. But the veep is a liabiity as never before, and even Bush has to know that.

The Libby verdict now brackets politically—suffocates politically—the Bush Administration’s Iraq policy. One side of the vise was already in place: the vivid, all-too-photogenic story of the human cost of the war to young American men and women. That, story, of course, is about Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the shoddy care given to outpatient casualties there. Now comes the rest of the story: lies that were told to cover up the story of how the war was sold.

Polls show that most Americans have moved on from the question of how we got into Iraq—and are far more concerned about how, and how quickly, we get out. Still, the last thing the administration needed was renewed focus on the genesis of the war.

And that is what we will get. First, Libby’s lawyers immediately announced that he will appeal the four-count conviction for perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice—but the likely length of that process that will keep the story in the news.

Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame will be back, wanting to know—with good justification—what (and whom) Libby was lying to protect. Why were Cheney and Libby so frantic to discredit the couple? Was there something more than mere political hardball being played in this matter? What land mine had Wilson stepped on? And, as my colleague Chris Matthews keeps asking, what happened to the report Joe Wilson filed? If Cheney is the one who asked for it in the first place, what did he do with it when he got it? Did President Bush ever see it?

Expect the Democrats and their anti-war allies to do something that they have not quite had the specific legal justification to do until now: use the “L word”. They will conflate two things— lying about evidence for war and lying to Patrick Fitzgerald—but no matter. They will use the Libby verdict to pump up the volume.

But the biggest burden will fall on Cheney himself. His own Hobbesian view of the world—that life is nasty, brutish and short—is becoming all too personal. He had to be relieved that Prosecutor Fitzgerald described his investigation as “inactive.” That would seem to mean that Cheney is in no legal jeopardy.

Unless Libby, facing serious jail time (and he might well be, given the breadth of the verdict), decides to change his story and tell us something about Cheney we don’t know—and that the president of the United States won’t want to hear.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17484887/site/newsweek/

© 2007 MSNBC.com

Friday, March 02, 2007

George's War, by Todd Huffman, Common Dreams, March 3

George's War
by Todd Huffman

Anniversaries are forced remembrances of events our busy lives otherwise leave forgotten. Past events rush forward through time to spend one day with us in the present, incessantly tapping our shoulders and asking: Remember me? Remember what happened on my day, and what has happened since because of me?

The fourth anniversary of the aerial “shock and awe” campaign that launched the U.S led war on Iraq will tap our shoulders this month. It will remind us that a fifth year of war stands raving and eager to follow the same terrible path down which this country has been misled for four. War, such as it is, always stands ready and willing, always prepared to gather up its victims from the land of the living, and set them down in their early graves.

hroughout history, leaders have glorified wars and given them justification. History is filled with such figures, and with nations that to their sorrow put their faith in them. Just such a figure is George Bush.

Four years ago George Bush started a war of choice against Iraq in the middle of a war of necessity against al-Qaeda. And all for what cause? All justifications for his war have proven vacuous, save that Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant. While you never want to say of brave young men and women that they died because of arrogance and willful ignorance, what else did they die for?

George’s war has been a war born of lies and half-truths, sustained by lies and half-truths, and productive of more lies and half-truths every day it continues. His has been a war which in its origins and conduct was and remains a colossal and blood-drenched fraud. Were we even to be generous, and give George the benefit of the doubt by allowing that in his “gut” going to war was the right thing, the tragedy remains that many thousands have died for a war waged on little more than a hunch and a grudge.

This war was not thrust upon us – George Bush chose it for us. Rather than fighting the terrorists in the mountains of Afghanistan, George went looking for them in the sands of Iraq. Rather than finding the chief culprit of September 11, George rode off in search of windmills named “evil” and “darkness”. Rather than chasing bin Laden to the ends of the earth, George decided instead to chase our nation’s fortune into the mouth of an omnivorous and never-ending war.

George’s war “against terror” has produced far more terrorists than it has eliminated, to say nothing of the terror it has, in fact, caused millions of everyday Iraqis young and old. His war has been a recruiting sergeant for the very forces he set out to destroy. His war to “fight them there, so we don’t have to fight them here” has, in fact, greatly increased the likelihood we’ll someday fight them here.

George’s war has cost thousands of young Americans, and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, their lives and limbs. His war has sapped our military, our credibility, our economy, our morale, and our moral standing. His war has alienated us from the world, and set our country on a path which continues to dismay our dwindling friends and delight our growing enemies.

Bad as all this, perhaps worse is that George’s war has proven once again that force and right are not always on the same side. His war to “bring democracy” to the Muslim world on Abrams tanks has instead led a billion Muslims to believe that democracy and liberty are synonymous with invasion and occupation, and the abuse and death of prisoners. George’s gift of democracy delivered by a gun has converted a people into enemies possessed of a hatred which may take centuries to erase.

And as if all this weren't more than enough, George would now have us believe that a festering and fearsome new menace lies lurking just beyond the border from where surging numbers of our brave young men and women are making enormous progress in guiding liberty and freedom along a flower-strewn supply line to a grateful and emancipated nation.

But the upcoming anniversary of George's War is already urgently tapping our shoulders, begging us to remember all that thus far has passed, lest some time next year we'll be forced to remember the first anniversary of George's World War.

Todd Huffman is a pediatrician and writer living in Eugene, Oregon. Comments are welcomed at: doctortodd@att.net.