Friday, November 30, 2007

Food Banks Rationing Supplies

The New York Times is reporting that food banks around the country are facing a shortage of supplies and have been forced to ration their donations to the hungry. Here's a quote:

For two weeks this month, the New Hampshire Food Bank distributed supplies reserved for emergency relief. Demand for food here is up 40 percent over last year and supply is down 30 percent, which is striking in the state with the lowest reliance on food banks.

"It's the price of oil, gas, rents and foreclosures," said Melanie Gosselin, executive director of the New Hampshire Food Bank.

Ms. Gosselin said household budget squeezes had led to a drop in donations and greater demand. "This is not the old 'only the homeless are hungry,'" she said. "It's working people."
Working people going hungry? Instead of prosperity trickling down, we are seeing adversity bubbling up.

As a nation, we can do better than this, but it probably won't happen under the watch of any of the current crop of politicians, whether Democrat or Republican.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Native Americans Protest Oklahoma Centennial


The Cherokee Phoenix has published a story about the recent demonstration by Native Americans at the Oklahoma State Capital. The demonstration coincided with the centennial celebrations for Oklahoma's statehood.

The Native Americans were protesting celebrations over the illegal immigrations that took place before and after the Oklahoma land rush. Here's a quote:
Within an hour the crowd of nearly 200 adults, elders and children began moving north toward the Capitol shouting in unison and carrying signs reading, "This Land is Our Land," "The Land Run was Illegal Immigration," and "Stop Racial and Cultural Inequality." At the front of the procession several people bore a banner that read, "Why celebrate 100 years of theft?"

Muscogee Creek Nation citizen Brenda Golden, an organizer of the Oklahoma Indians Survival Walk and Remembrance Ceremony, said she wanted to make a statement that not all Oklahoma Indians feel like celebrating what they see as an affront to the true history of how Oklahoma was legislatively stolen from the people to whom it was promised.
Ironically, Oklahoma currently has the most restrictive legislation against illegal immigration in the country. A law that went into effect November 1, 2007 makes it a felony for anyone to hire, harbor, transport or associate with an undocumented immigrant.

Hat Tip to Nathaniel Batchelder for calling my attention to this article.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Podcast: George Young Interview


Will Prescott's 11-25-07 "Courageous Churches" profile of Holy Temple Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Will interviews pastor George Young (6MB MP3).

Have Astronomers Found Evidence for a Parallel Universe?

There is a fascinating blog about astronomers speculating about finding evidence for a parallel universe on a paternity testing weblog. On my browser the weblog's formatting is off, so you may have to scroll down the page to find the story.

Here's a link to the story. Here's a quote:

The idea of alternative, or parallel universes has been around for quite a while and has provided considerable inspiration for Sci-Fi literature and sparked endless philosophical debate, but although begin seriously considered within the scientific realm it never crossed the limits of speculative of purely theoretical grounds. Perhaps until now. If Mersini-Houghton is right, Eridanus’ giant hole would be the first experimental evidence for the existence of another universe. The implications of this possibility are obviously of huge importance for everybody, but it also has further relevance for the astrophysics community as it would bring support for the hotly debated string theory and other central debates.

Monday, November 26, 2007

On Unchecked Faith-Based Spending

Thomas Williams has posted an essay at Truthout about the federal government's lack of accountability for faith-based spending. Here's are the opening paragraphs:

For the past six years, President George W. Bush's administration has spent billions of dollars to largely aid Christian faith-based groups, in assisting prison inmates as well as the poor and less-fortunate persons here and worldwide. Yet many experts and investigators nationwide agree government controls auditing this spending, or checking into whether the religious groups are illegally using this federal funding to promote their faiths, are weak or nonexistent.

Federal funding of a host of non-faith-based social programs can be critical in child or adult health, housing and other subsistence aid to the poor or disadvantaged. However, with tight or even regular federal budgets, waste in one program can adversely impact others.

Several inquiries and complaints dug up a host of systemic dangers and violations of the rules and law resulting in questionable or wasted spending.

In just one instance, a 2006 US Government Accountability Office inquiry discovered: "Four of the 13 faith-based organizations that offered voluntary religious activities - such as prayer or worship - did not appear to understand the requirement to separate these activities in time or location from their program services funded with federal (dollars)." And, the GAO concluded: independent audits apply only to religious organizations spending $500,000 or more. As well, federal administration is costly. "Since fiscal year 2002, the five federal agency centers handling the funds estimated that they had cumulatively expended more than $24 million on administrative activities," the GAO concluded.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bill Moyers on FDR

Bill Moyers recently spoke about his father's love for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was a sentiment that my grandparents shared with Moyer's father. Here's a quote from Moyer's talking about his father:

Henry Moyers was an ordinary man who dropped out of the fourth grade because his family needed him to pick cotton to help make ends meet. The Depression knocked him off the farm and flat on his back. When I was born he was making two dollars a day working on the highway to Oklahoma City. He never made over $100 a week in the whole of his working life, and he made that only when he joined the union on the last job he held. He voted for Franklin Roosevelt in four straight elections, and he would have gone on voting for him until kingdom come if both had lived that long. I once asked him why, and he said, "Because the President's my friend." Now, my father never met FDR. No politician ever paid him much note, but he was sure he had a friend in the White House during the worst years of his life. When by pure chance I wound up working there many years later, and my parents came for a visit, my father wanted to see the Roosevelt Room. I don't know quite how to explain it, except that my father knew who was on his side and who wasn't, and for twelve years he had no doubt where FDR stood. The first time I remember him with tears in his eyes was when Roosevelt died. He had lost his friend.
It's been a long time since a working man has had a friend in the White House. Too long.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bankers Gone Wild

Paul Krugman has written an essay about the loose morals, i.e. lack of regulation, that we tolerate in our banking industry. He entitled it "Banks Gone Wild." Here's an excerpt:

Around 25 years ago, American business — and the American political system — bought into the idea that greed is good. Executives are lavishly rewarded if the companies they run seem successful: last year the chief executives of Merrill and Citigroup were paid $48 million and $25.6 million, respectively.

But if the success turns out to have been an illusion — well, they still get to keep the money. Heads they win, tails we lose.

Not only is this grossly unfair, it encourages bad risk-taking, and sometimes fraud. If an executive can create the appearance of success, even for a couple of years, he will walk away immensely wealthy. Meanwhile, the subsequent revelation that appearances were deceiving is someone else’s problem.

If all this sounds familiar, it should. The huge rewards executives receive if they can fake success are what led to the great corporate scandals of a few years back. There’s no indication that any laws were broken this time — but the public’s trust was nonetheless betrayed, once again.

The point is that the subprime crisis and the credit crunch are, in an important sense, the result of our failure to effectively reform corporate governance after the last set of scandals.

John Edwards recently came out with a corporate reform plan, but it didn’t receive a lot of attention. Corporate governance still isn’t regarded as a major political issue. But it should be.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Help Save the GOP from Socialized Medicine

Jim Hightower has some suggestions for how you can help those Republican congressional leaders who voted against SCHIP unburden their consciences over their own dependence on federalized medicine. Here's a link to a brief video:



In case you missed it. Here's the number Jim asks you to call to suggest that congressional leaders should get off the dole for their health insurance and rely on the free market like everyone else: Call the GOP Congressional Conference at (202) 225-5107.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Scott McClellan Reveals White House Lies

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has written a book that reveals some of the lies he knows he told while serving the Bush administration. Here's a quote from an article about the book published at the Editor & Publisher website:

"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

"There was one problem. It was not true.

"I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself."

Monday, November 19, 2007

On Peak Oil and the Looming Energy Crisis


A podcast (27.4 MB MP3) of Dr. Bruce Prescott's 11-18-07 "Religious Talk" radio interview with petroleum geologist Bob Stephenson.

We discuss the recent report by the National Petroleum Council on "Facing the Hard Truths About Energy."

Memo to Barry Lynn


Barry Lynn knew that Richard John Neuhaus had bested him at a recent debate for the Economist magazine. At the Executive Board meeting last week he said it was a combination of Neuhaus' "silver-tongued oratory" and the extreme way the debate was framed -- "Religion and politics should always be kept separate."

Here's a link to what Neuhaus said about the debate.

Before Barry agrees to debate Neuhaus again, I suggest that he read Damon Linker's The Theocons: Secular America Under Seige. Linker was editor of Neuhaus' journal First Things. He exposes the "radical religious ideas" that Neuhaus and other theoconservatives have been injecting into American politics.

Anyone with comprehension of Linker's book would know that the debate was framed in a way that would put Barry at a disadvantage.

Americans United does not defend a one-sided secularist view of the Constitution. I'm one of a number of ministers and rabbis on the board of Americans United. We do not deny a voice for religion in politics -- there is room for all opinions in the public square. What we do is to separate the institutions of church and state -- that is how Americans have decided we ought to order our life together.

Rather than wage wars -- cultural or otherwise -- to determine which religion should exercise dominion over governmental policy, we make a distinction between the authority of religion and the authority of the government. We defend both the disestablishment clause and the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. This protects minorities from the tyranny of the majority in matters of religion. We expect those who lead us to govern from an understanding of the common good that respects the constitutional distinction we have made between the authority of personal religious convictions and the authority of the policies that govern our common life.

Neuhaus does not respect that constitutional distinction. He strips the disestablishment clause of any meaning and interprets the first amendment entirely as a free exercise clause. Ultimately, he is defending the right of the majority to use governmental authority to impose their religious beliefs and values on all society.

Friday, November 16, 2007

How Dry Are We?

Tom Englehardt at TomDispatch.com has posted a thought-provoking article entitled "How Dry We Are: A Question No One Wants to Raise About Drought."

Is anyone around Atlanta asking these questions?

And then what exactly can we expect? If the southeastern drought is already off the charts in Georgia, then, whether it's 80 days or 800 days, isn't there a possibility that Atlanta may one day in the not-so-distant future be without water? And what then?

Okay, they're trucking water into waterless Orme, Tennessee, but the town's mayor, Tony Reames, put the matter well, worrying about Atlanta. "We can survive. We're 145 people but you've got 4.5 million there. What are they going to do?"

What indeed? Has water ever been trucked in to so many people before? And what about industry including, in the case of Atlanta, Coca Cola, which is, after all, a business based on water? What about restaurants that need to wash their plates or doctors in hospitals who need to wash their hands?

Let's face it, with water, you're down to the basics. And if, as some say, we've passed the point not of "peak oil," but of "peak water" (and cheap water) on significant parts of the planet… well, what then?

A New Day for North Carolina Baptists

ABP is reporting that North Carolina Baptists have cut funding for Women's Missionary Union, declared that retirement homes are no longer a ministry of the Convention, and severed ties with five Baptist schools.

It may be a new day for North Carolina Baptists. But it's certainly not a good day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Governor Henry Where Are You?

AFP is reporting that Governors from nine Midwestern states have signed a climate accord. Governors from Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and South Dakota signed the accord.

Conspicuously absent was Cooperative Baptist and Democratic Governor Brad Henry of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Baptists Oppose Immigration Law

A resolution passed at the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma gave notice that Baptists would continue to minister to undocumented immigrants despite a new law making it a felony to associate with them. Here's a quote from a news report:

The Southern Baptist Church said they don't "necessarily agree (with) or oppose the new law," but they will continue to minister to anyone inside their church.

"As Christians, that should be our No. 1 focus -- God first, government second. While we will obey the law to the best of our ability, when people come to our church to worship with us, we are not going to ask for proof of citizenship," said Baptist General Convention spokeswoman Heidi Wilburn.
More often than not I am a critic of the resolutions adopted by the BGCO. I commend them for passing this resolution -- timid, as it is, in opposing an unjust law.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Catholic Bishops: Voting Wrong Risks Salvation

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have revived their ultimate scare tactic for getting their congregants to follow directions on how to vote. Catholics who vote wrong risk losing their salvation.

Abuses of authority like this once led to the Reformation.

Is a God who designed a world in which billions of "unborn babies" are spontaneously aborted by natural causes and sends people to hell for voting for politicians who support access to contraception worthy of worship?

On Reagan and Racism

Editor & Publisher has posted a summary of the columnist war at the New York Times over Ronald Reagan and racism. Here's a quote:

The New York Times Op-Ed page hasn’t been this hot in a long time. Now we are experiencing Columnist Wars, with Bob Herbert this week joining in a rapidly escalating battle between Paul Krugman and David Brooks -- largely over an incident involving Ronald Reagan at a local fair over 27 years ago.
Read the article for more details.

Calling for a Moratorium on War

Bill Christofferson of the Madison Capital Times has issued a challenge for individuals to take personal responsibility to do something on the third Friday of each month to call for a moratorium on war in Iraq. Here's a quote:

The Iraq Moratorium asks people to pledge to take some action, either individually or collectively, on the third Friday of every month. That action can be as simple a gesture as wearing a black armband or button for the day, as big as participating in a large-scale protest, or a lot of things in between. The group's Web site, www.IraqMoratorium.org. has a list of suggestions, and information on upcoming actions.

Clarifying Mexican Immigration

The Cato Institute has published a very informative essay about Mexican immigration. Here's a quote with a link to some documentation:

Despite my appreciation for the cultural ramifications of Mexican immigration, I am a social scientist and ultimately believe that accurate understanding needs to be grounded in empirical reality. In 25 years of research on a variety of public policy issues, I have never seen so much misinformation as in the debate on Mexican immigration during 2006. Thanks to the media and political entrepreneurs, Mexican immigrants are routinely portrayed as a tidal wave of human beings fleeing an impoverished, disorganized nation who are desperate to settle in the United States, where they will overwhelm our culture, displace our language, mooch our social services, and undermine our national security.

This profile, however, bears no discernible relationship to the reality that I know as a social scientist. Since 1982 I have co-directed a large data-gathering effort known as the Mexican Migration Project. My collaborators and I have conducted representative surveys in communities all over Mexico and the United States, and over the years, we have surveyed 20,000 households and 120,000 individuals to gather detailed information from U.S. migrants about their experiences crossing the border, living in the United States, and returning to Mexico. My understanding of Mexican immigration rests on these data, and if anyone thinks I’ve got it all wrong, they are free to download the data, analyze it, and see for themselves.

Mexican immigration is not a tidal wave. The rate of undocumented migration has not increased in over two decades. Neither is Mexico a demographic time bomb; its fertility rate is only slightly above replacement. Although a variety of trans-border population movements have increased, this is to be expected in a North American economy that is increasingly integrated under the terms of a mutually-ratified trade agreement. Undocumented migration stems from the unwillingness of the United States to include labor within the broader framework governing trade and investment. Rates of migration between Mexico and the United States are entirely normal for two countries so closely integrated economically.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Breakthrough in Hydrogen Fuel

Fuel cell technology that produces clean and renewable energy from hydrogen has been available for a number of years. The chief difficulty in bringing fuel cells to market has been the expense involved in producing the hydrogen needed to fuel the cells.

AFP is reporting that "New technique creates cheap, abundant hydrogen." Here's a quote from a report about research at Pennsylvania State University:

In laboratory experiments, their reactor generated hydrogen gas at nearly 99 percent of the theoretical maximum yield using aetic acid, a common dead-end product of glucose fermentation.

"This process produces 288 percent more energy in hydrogen than the electrical energy that is added in the process," said Bruce Logan, a professor of environmental engineering at Penn State.

The technology is economically viable now, which gives hydrogen an edge over another alternative biofuel which is grabbing more headlines, Logan said.

"The energy focus is currently on ethanol as a fuel, but economical ethanol from cellulose is 10 years down the road," said Logan.
Hydrogen as a fuel makes a lot more sense than ethanol.

Next, we need filling stations to retrofit to sell hydrogen. Then, General Motors can start selling the hydrogen fuel vehicles that they have been developing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Memorial to the New Deal


I gave a powerpoint presentation on "Milestones in the Rise of the Religious Right" to the Hot Springs, Arkansas chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State last week. I took the scenic route on Highway 7 on my drive back to Oklahoma.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover a roadside park commemorating the work of the Hollis Camp of the Civilian Conservation Corp.

In an era when politicians are doing everything they can to erase the memory of FDR's New Deal, it's good to find a place where our collective responsibility to assist each other in times of need is still remembered and respected.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Leonardo's Music


An Italian musician and computer technician has found a hidden musical score in Leonardo DaVinci's painting of the Last Supper.

Here's a link to the story.

Friday, November 09, 2007

On the Legacy of Neo-Conservatism

Sidney Blumenthal, writing for Salon Magazine, has published an astute analysis of the legacy of the current administration's neo-conservatism. Here's a quote:
The neoconservative project is crashing. The "unipolar moment," the post-Cold War unilateralist utopia imagined by neocon pundit Charles Krauthammer; "hegemony," the ultimate goal projected by the September 2000 manifesto of the Project for the New American Century; an "empire" over lands that "today cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets," fantasized by neocon Max Boot in the Weekly Standard a month after Sept. 11, have instead produced unintended consequences of chaos and decline. Dick Cheney's and Donald Rumsfeld's presumption that successful war would instill fear leading to absolute obedience and the suppression of potential rivalries and serious threats -- the "dangerous nation" thesis of neocon theorist Robert Kagan -- has proved to be the greatest foreign policy miscalculation in U.S. history.

The quest for absolute power has not forged an "empire" but provoked ever-widening chaos. The neocons have been present at the creation, all right. But this "creation" is not another American century, in emulation of the post-World War II order fashioned by the so-called wise men, such as Secretary of State Dean Acheson, a consummate realist, who Condoleezza Rice continues to insist is her model. Squandering the immense influence of the U.S. in such a short period has required monumental effort. Now the fog of war clears. On the ruin of the neocons' new world order emerges the old world disorder on steroids.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

My Letter Didn't Get Left Behind

Ethics Daily is reporting that their certified letter to Gordon Katz was returned with a note that he had refused to accept it. Katz is the attorney for Left Behind Games.

I received the same form letter that Ethics Daily and a plethora of bloggers received. The letter advised us that we had "false and misleading statements" about the Left Behind game on our websites and blogs. The letter threatened to take legal action against us if we did not remove essays, blogs and comments about the game.

I sent a letter asking Katz to advise me in writing what is "false and misleading" regarding statements made about the game on my weblog.

Katz signed for the certified letter that I sent him. I have yet to receive a response to it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Romney Candidacy a Boost for First Amendment

Whether he wins the GOP nomination for president on not, Mitt Romney's candidacy has been a boost for both the First Amendment and Article VI of the Constitution. Now even Republicans are learning that discussions of religious preference are out of place when weighing a candidate's qualifications for public office.

Before this year, who would have expected to see a headline for a GOP nominee like "Religion talk risks loss of faith in Romney"?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Yet Another Torture Memo Uncovered

Common Dreams is reporting that the ACLU has uncovered a third secret torture memo from Alberto Gonzales' Department of Justice. The Justice Department has previously failed to turn the memo over with other Freedom of Information Act requests.

This revelation comes as MSNBC's Keith Olbermann contends that "The presidency is now a criminal conspiracy" after Daniel Levin, formerly a top official at the Justice Department, disclosed that he had himself waterboarded before advising the President that waterboarding is indeed torture. Levin was subsequently railroaded out of his position at the Justice Department.

Meanwhile, Michael Mukasey -- the nominee to replace Gonzales as Attorney General who refuses to express an opinion as to whether waterboarding is torture, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee for a vote by the full Senate.

U.S. Economy on Verge of Serious Correction

Reuters is reporting that "Central Bankers see more pain for U.S. Economy."

George Soros says the "economy is on the verge of a serious correction."

William Greider uncovers the deep source of the problems that led us to this economic juncture in an essay entitled "Citigroup: Too Big to Fail?" Here's a quote:

Just as the GOP dreamed for decades of dismantling Social Security, investment bankers campaigned for thirty years to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial banking from its investment-house cousins. This was the New Deal achievement enacted in response to the double-dealing banking practices that contributed to the crash of 1929. Bankers pushed their depositors into buying the corporate stocks the bankers were hustling, among other malpractices. Wall Street hated the law but failed year after year to win repeal. The problem was always Democrats (since Republicans were sure supporters).

Bill Clinton delivered his "New Democrat" party, accompanied by lots of happy talk about magic words like "synergy" and how "modernization" would create a more stable (and profitable) financial system. It did the latter, for sure, but not the former.

Actually, the combination of insurance, investment banking and old-line commercial banks multiplied the conflicts of interest within banks, despite so-called "firewalls" supposed to keep these activities separate. Much like Enron, placing some deals in off-balance sheet entities did not insulate Citigroup from the losses in its swollen subprime housing lending. The bank has so far written off something like $15 billion and more to come.
It's the Clinton's stong connections to Wall Street tycoons like Robert Rubin (now trying to rescue Citigroup) that has economists like Paul Krugman worried about whether Hillary will be "wobbled by wealth."

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bob Guffey Revisits Jena

Bob Guffey, pastor at First Baptist Church of Conway, S.C., grew up near Jena, Louisiana and has relatives who live in the city. All of Bob's "light readings" are thoughtful, but his most recent blog especially caught my attention.

Here's a quote from "Tell and Show: Revisiting Jena"

And so the world is not quite so neat that one side can completely divide and demonstrate against the other. Indeed, the notion of "sides" betrays a lack of understanding of the complexities of human behavior and trust in the possibility God created within human beings to overcome their personal worst and the negative witness of the darker regions of human behavior within communities. In the midst of every intense situation, just as is needed in the midst of quiet conflict, grief, despair and times of hopelessness, the "creation waits with eager longing the revealing of the children of God" (Romans 8:19), those children who have heard the Good News of Christ and his cross, who have come to value each person as beloved of God, and who will wager the costly risk of living the Good News, as well as talking about it. In the congruence of this kind of living witness, the grace of God shows itself to be the hand of kindness which overcomes violence. So is the promise of God's word. So is the witness of God.

Pat Buchanan on the Decline of the Dollar

It is rare when I agree with Pat Buchanan. We are poles apart politically. But, his essay on "Sinking Currency, Sinking Country" is right on target. Here's a quote:

The oil-producing and exporting nations, with trade surpluses, like China, have also begun to take the stash of dollars they have and stuff them into sovereign wealth funds, and use these immense and growing funds to buy up real assets in the United States — investment banks and American companies.

Nor is there any end in sight to the sinking of the dollar. For, as foreigners demand more dollars for the oil and goods they sell us, the trade deficit will not fall. And as the U.S. government prints more and more dollars to cover the budget deficits that stretch out — with the coming retirement of the baby boomers — all the way to the horizon, the value of the dollar will fall. And as Ben Bernanke at the Fed tries to keep interest rates low, to keep the U.S. economy from sputtering out in the credit crunch, the value of the dollar will fall.

General Instructs Children about Need for Waterboarding

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that an Army General has instructed 900 middle school children in Atlanta about the need for waterboarding as an interrogation technique. Here's a quote:
"As long as we're responsible for hunting those SOBs down, finding them and preventing them from killing our sons and daughters," Honore said, "I think we've got an obligation to do what the hell we've got to do to make sure we get the mission done."
When generals teach 13-year-olds that might makes right, there's little wonder why modern young people are growing up with cynical contempt toward the government.

How strong is a nation where jesters like John Stewart and Stephen Colbert are viewed with more credibility than the nation's highest elected leaders and officers?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Kucinich to Press Congress to Impeach Cheney

Congressman Dennis Kucinich issued a statement today announcing that he intends to submit a resolution before Congress next week that will bring articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney. His resolution has 21 co-sponsors. Here's a quote from his statement:

"Congress must hold the Vice President accountable. The American people need to let Members of Congress know how they feel about this. The Vice President continues to use his office to advocate for a continued occupation of Iraq and prod our nation into a belligerent stance against Iran. If the Vice President is successful, his actions will ensure decades of disastrous consequences."
David Lindorff, an investigative reporter and columnist, links Kucinich's resolution to allegations of a cover-up of the truth behind the Minot-Barksdale nuclear missile flight. Central to Lindorff's assertions is the Air Force investigative report's failure to explain how our nuclear arsenal's electonic anti-theft alarm system was disarmed in this incident. Here's a quote:
According to the Air Force report, some Air Force personnel mounted the warheads on the missiles (which are obsolete and slated for destruction), and another ground crew, allegedly not aware that the missiles were armed with nukes, moved them out and mounted them on a launch pylon on the B-52's wing for a flight to Barksdale and eventual dismantling. Only on the ground at Barksdale did ground crew personnel spot the nukes, according to the report. (Six other missiles with dummy warheads were mounted on a pylon on the other wing of the plane.)

The problem with this explanation for the first reported case of nukes being removed from a weapons bunker without authorization in 50 years of nuclear weapons, is that those warheads, and all nuclear warheads in the U.S. stockpile, are supposedly protected against unauthorized transport or removal from bunkers by electronic antitheft systems -- automated alarms similar to those used by department stores to prevent theft, and even anti-motion sensors that go off if a weapon is touched or approached without authorization.

While the Air Force report doesn't mention any of this, this means if weapons in a storage bunker are protected against unauthorized removal, someone -- and actually at least two people, since it's long been a basic part of nuclear security that every action involving a nuclear weapon has to be done by two people working in tandem -- had to deliberately and consciously disable those alarms.
The Air Force investigation resulted in the termination of 70 persons -- including the base commander. Here's another quote from Lindorff:

But a base commander does not have the authority to order nuclear weapons to be loaded on a plane and flown. So who issued that order and why has no one at a senior level in Washington been sacked? There is speculation that the order may have come via an alternate chain of command.
Lindorff speculates that Vice President Cheney may have been at the end of an "alternate chain of command." He says,
In a couple of weeks, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is planning on calling for a Privilege of the House vote in Congress on moving his Cheney impeachment bill (H Res. 333) to a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, where it has been stalled by House Democratic leaders since being filed last April 24. Such a hearing should demand answers from the vice president and his staff about his treasonous efforts to push the country into yet another war in the Middle East. It should also grill Air Force personnel about the true nature of the Minot nuclear incident.
Kucinich is also in the running for the 2000 Democratic party's presidential nomination. If Lindorff's allegations are true and Kucinich has some evidence to prove it, I suspect that his presidential aspirations will improve.

If Kucinich has nothing to offer more than other well-documented examples of the Vice President's abuse of power, I suspect that his presidential aspirations will be rapidly coming to an end.

30 Senators Advise Bush Against War With Iran

AFP is reporting that thirty U.S. Senators have signed a letter sent to President Bush advising him that he does not have authority to launch a war with Iran without Congressional approval. Here's a quote:

The letter warned that a resolution passed by the Senate in September, calling for the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group, should not be used as a pretext for war.

It hit out at "provocative statements and actions" by the administration on Iran, after Bush last month warned Tehran must be barred from nuclear weapons to avoid the prospect of "World War III."

"These comments are counterproductive and undermine efforts to resolve tensions with Iran through diplomacy," said the letter, coordinated by Virginia Senator Jim Webb.

Memo to Senator Inhofe

Science Daily reported yesterday that "Western Canada's Galciers Hit 7000-Year Low." Scientists radiocarbon dated frozen tree stumps that melting ice recently uncovered and discovered that they were more than 7000 years old. Here's a quote:

The radiocarbon dates seem to be the same around the world, according to Koch. It's important to note that there have been many advances and retreats of these glaciers over the past 7000 years, but no retreats that have pushed them back so far upstream as to expose these trees.

The age of the tree stumps gives new emphasis to the well-documented "before" and "after" photographs of retreating glaciers during the 20th century.

"It seems like an unprecedented change in a short amount of time," Koch said. "From this work and many other studies looking at forcings of the climate system, one has to turn away from natural ones alone to explain this dramatic change of the past 150 years."
I can't wait to hear how Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, America's most powerful global-warming denier, explains this one. These trees pre-date Adam and Eve according to most of his constituent's literal interpretations of the Bible.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Wade Burleson Needs Your Prayers

Wade Burleson should already be on every Mainstream Baptist's prayer list. He's the leading voice among the SBC bloggers who have been challenging the autocratic rule of the aging fundamentalists who took over the Southern Baptist Convention.

Burleson recently received a 153 page letter filled with invective and vitriol against himself. The letter was from International Mission Board trustee Jerry Corbaley and was also sent to all the other IMB trustees. This is the latest salvo in an ongoing campaign to oust Burleson from the Board.

Burleson responded to Corbaley's letter with genuine humility and patience.

A few days later, with the precision of a physician lancing a festering wound, Burleson began to drain an infection from the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. The intrusion of the Roman Catholic dictum that "life begins at conception" -- intended to prohibit contraception as well as abortion -- is without precedent in the corpus of Baptist confessions prior to the 2000 BF&M.

Burleson demonstrates that, as early as the 18th Century, Baptists like Dr. John Gill argued that every soul is uniquely created by God and united to the body "when the embryo is fit to receive it." A position that could permit both contraception and some early term abortions.

Burleson's challenge to the 2000 BF&M is likely to result in even more invective and vitriol being directed against him.

Pray for Wade. Most of the other voices in the SBC willing to engage in genuine dialogue about deep theological issues were silenced years ago.