Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Saturday, May 28, 2005
First, the context of this complaint was in an article about conservative Christian activists getting party nominations for the Conservative Party. Is this what amounts being kept from the public square these days?
Second, there are "people of faith" in every party in the parliament already. My understanding is that there are even devout Christians in every party in the House. Not only are believers of all stripes not being kept from the public square, they are already in there.
So what's the complaint about now? Well, I reckon it's more of a straw man. Whenever you get conservative Christians saying stuff about faith being kept out of the public square, it's usually as a rebuttal to accusations about "hidden agendas" and stuff of that sort. The question of a hidden agenda is quite apart from the question of whether people of faith are in the public square. The fact is that the Conservatives are trying to appeal to a broad range of voters. At the same time, their social-conservative base has some things that it would like to accomplish. Most strategists and pundits will tell you that it is possible to build a winning coalition in Canada by being fiscally conservative but socially ambiguous. On some level the Liberals have done this with a very subtle socially progressive bent. That's not what the so-cons want though. There is nothing wrong with that either, everyone is entitled to their ideas and the promotion thereof. The problem is that I imagine Stephen Harper wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants the vigourous support of the so-cons, but he wants to avoid having to acknowledging their agenda in public. So by all means, no one is trying to dissuade anyone from seeking office, but it's time to own up the agenda that that run is driven by.
And another thing: Why is the "Christian" agenda always only two items long. It's all about gays and abortion, it's as if nothing else is of concern. What about the poor? What about the sick? As Jim Wallis would remind us, Jesus worried about them.
Time to Get Outside
Thursday, May 26, 2005
As "Freedom" Marches on, Some Get Trampled Underfoot
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Hugo Chavez vs. "Mr. Danger"
The Venezuelan leader's no-nonsense style, his criticism of the United States and his advocacy of revolutionary changes to benefit the poor have made him a hero to many in Latin America's resurgent left.
Chavez, 50, seems to be positioning himself as Washington's chief detractor in Latin America, a role long played by Cuba's Fidel Castro, Chavez's 78-year-old role model. And while few Latin leaders are willing to go along with Chavez's harsh anti-U.S. rhetoric, fewer still are willing to criticize him.
"Venezuela has the right to be a sovereign country, to make its own decisions," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said. Responding to criticism from Washington, he added: "We won't accept defamations against friends.''
Across the region, left-leaning political leaders have voiced support for Chavez's "Bolivarian Revolution" aimed at bringing down a decades-old oligarchy and helping the poor. The Venezuelan president frequently invokes independence hero Simon Bolivar when he speaks of a more politically integrated South America.
In Chavez the left has found a significantly better leader than Castro. While Castro has set up national health care in Cuba (something that the US still cannot claim) and can boast an education system with first-world literacy rates, the fact remains that he is authoritarian. He is more benevolent than Batista was and more benevolent than many US clients today (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia et al), but he retains too tight a control on his own population to truly be an example of progress. Chavez on the other hand has faced the electorate - more than once - and won. His opponents control many media outlets and several key industries, and yet he stays in power. In this enviroment the sensible conclusion (Which the American neocons would deny, but who said they were sensible?) is that he enjoys broad popular support. And, as the article goes on to suggest, other leftists groups are taking power with broad democratic support in the same fashion all over Latin America. The American government can stomp its feet and fuss, but but, as the saying goes, they sowed the wind and are reaping the whirlwind. The US has been unleashing awful, terrible things on Latin America ever since the Spanish American war. As late as the 1980s, the US was supporting dictators in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, and the Contras of Nicaragua. If Latin America is listening to Chavez, it is because the American government has been such a source of evil in that part of the world.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Friday, May 20, 2005
Martin Lives to Fight Another Day (but will Harper?)
Why are the Conservatives so determined to bring down the government these days? Most recent polls say a couple things: First, support for the manjor parties is nearly identical to what it was last year in the election. Second, Canadians don't want an election. These two things being the case, why is Harper pushing? He stands to gain almost nothing right now, and if people want someone to punish for a premature election, he would be the one to take it.
How long does Harper have as leader? Looking at the Conservative performance in the polls, I'm starting to wonder. If he doesn't win the next election, I have a feeling that he's gone. Given all the facts about the current political situation, I'd imagine that it should be relatively easy for Harper to succeed. The country has been governed by the same party for nearly twelve years. That alone should be a huge boost for Harper. Secondly, said government is embroiled in a rather unpleasant scandal. That should be the final nail in the coffin of the current Liberal government. All that should give Harper stellar poll numbers, but it doesn't. In fact they should be even better since people often "park" their votes with opposition parties between elections as a way to register disapproval for a governing party they might otherwise support. That Harper cannot convert all of this into votes is an indication of how he still unnerves Canadians, particularly those in urban areas and those in Ontario.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
The Boy's Club and the "attractive dipstick"
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Check Your Own Facts
Remember when we learned that the evidence for Iraq’s supposed mobile biological weapons labs came from an unrel iable source? What was McClellan’s response then?
QUESTION: Does it concern the President that the primary source for the intelligence on the mobile biological weapons labs was a guy that U.S. intelligence never every interviewed?
MCCLELLAN: Well, again, all these issues will be looked at as part of a broad review by the independent commission that the President appointed… But it’s important that we look at what we learn on the ground and compare that with what we believed prior to going into Iraq.
[White House Press Gaggle, 4/5/04]
There you have it. When confronted with an anonymous source who provided faulty intelligence that the President relied upon to go to war, McClellan chose not to talk about standards of accountability that should be met. Instead, the White House passed the buck to an independent commission and suggested that it didn’t matter what subsequent information they learned about Iraq’s intelligence because they didn’t know it when they went to war. Newsweek has taken responsibility by retracting its story. Will President Bush take responsibility for his own errors?
Remember the White House's pre-war intelligence? Remember how they used any bit of hearsay, looked at any satellite photo and saw weapons? If the inability to predict 9/11/01 was a so-called "failure of imagination" then the pre-war "intelligence" was surely a dictatorship of imagination. The White House saw things and didn't for once stop to consider what they were looking at. Look, a camper van, it must be a mobile lab! Bulldozers? They're hiding weapons with them! I heard from some guy that another guy said that Saddam was going to buy some uranium or something from Niger!
Friday, May 13, 2005
Tired of explaining media control to everyone?
Meanwhile on the other side of the planet...
It's the Insurgency that keeps going... and going... and going
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
On Theocracies Pt. 3
Now the problem though is that, for whatever reason (everything from selfish pride, to earnest and ardent belief) it seems that many religious leaders do reckon that they are supreme in understanding the ultimate theological truth. Of course not all of them are right and many of them are grossly mistaken (Crusades, anyone?). Now this sort of certainty and rigidity is bad enough for a faith community. But as much as it creates division and sectarian conflict (everything from trading insults in academic journals to the "hands on" approach of Northern Ireland and other places), it's nothing compared to how bad things can - and do - get in a governmental situation.
Any casual follower of Canadian politics is well aware that, in the last few weeks in particular, both the Prime Minister and the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition have been very certain that the other is completely wrong and a total threat to the whole nation. Now imagine if both ardently believed that God was on his side and that the other was some kind of infidel. No doubt it would be a far worse situation. Too often those that act out of a deep religious commitment are not open to any sort of self-criticism. For the Christians out there, it's probably worth remembering that even the apostle Peter was wrong multiple times on important issues.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Blogging in India
Sunday, May 08, 2005
On Theocracies Pt. 2
Why mention all this, well simply to point out, that, in the confines of just one faith, it seems impossible to get any agreement about what God is saying. So how could a modern nation state of any size find agreement on how to understand what God wants?
Saturday, May 07, 2005
More News about the Republican-only Church
Friday, May 06, 2005
But what kind of training is it?
Here's what WLOS, the local TV news, posted on their site:
East Waynesville Baptist asked nine members to leave. Now 40 more have left the church in protest. Former members say Pastor Chan Chandler gave them the ultimatum, saying if they didn't support George Bush, they should resign or repent. The minister declined an interview with News 13. But he did say "the actions were not politically motivated." There are questions about whether the bi-laws were followed when the members were thrown out.
Wow. The idea that a pastor would kick out members of a church simply for not supporting a particular politician is disturbing to say the least. I don't think it takes a lot of theological pondering to think of things that Bush has done that are inconsistent with Christianity. But then, this isn't about faith, it's about the abuse of faith. The New Testament talks about the church being a body with Christ at its head. The rising sentiment in the US though seems to be a push to decapitate Christ from the body and replace Jesus with the GOP.