Friday, February 24, 2006

UAE, Jolted by Port Deal, Is Key Western Arms Buyer

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 23 (IPS) - The United Arab Emirates (UAE), the centre of a growing controversy over its proposed management of U.S. port terminals, is one of the world's most prolific arms buyers and a multi-billion-dollar military market both for the United States and Western Europe.

Neo-Con Dubai, the port deal and 9/11
Rice soothes UAE over ports row
The Price of Hysteria
The Hand Of Karl Rove on Ports Deal
The Great Dubai Debate Festers on
Could You Please Pass the Port?
Dubaigate Deconstructed
Losing Our Minds
Bush Administration ignores the law (again) on DPW deal
Now The Port Deal Is About Racism
Silliness and Rolling Out Rove
The Truth About Dubya and Dubai
Port Deal: It's only business
Free-Trading Away America's Security
Friends of the Earth: Dubai and Toxic Tank Cars: What are Bush’s Priorities?
NBC's Williams and Gregory failed to report the significance of Dubai Ports World's government ownership
Brooks, Limbaugh falsely suggested Schumer, Corzine, and Clinton ignored port security before Dubai deal controversy
Cameron misrepresented Harman-Collins port ownership proposal to accuse Democrats of playing politics
Russert suggested Democrats exploiting port deal for national security credibility; overlooked Democratic track record on bolstering port security
Reports on Bush administration review of UAE port deal failed to mention Rumsfeld "just heard about this over the weekend"

Tipping Point Of Full-Scale Civil

The American ambassador to Iraq said Friday that the country was on the precipice of full-scale civil war, and that Iraqi leaders would have to come together and compromise if they wanted to save their homeland.

The ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, made his remarks as sectarian fury in the streets appeared to ebb after two days of reprisals over the bombing of a major Shiite mosque. The violence prompted the most powerful Sunni Arab political group to suspend talks with Shiite and Kurdish politicians on forming a new government. "What we've seen in the past two days, the attack has had a major impact here, getting everyone's attention that Iraq is in danger," Mr. Khalilzad said in a conference call with reporters.

What Happens to Our Soldiers When the Iraq Civil War Starts?
Can you say "Permanent Bases"? The Media Can't
How Costly Is Too Costly? Fintarget="_blank" ding the Tipping Point for Vietnam -- and for Iraq
Victims of War Are Not To Be Seen Or Heard Or Mentioned
Last Thoughts of an Iraq "Embed"
Iraq’s Cambodian Jungle: How American ‘Nation-Building’ Fueled Civil War
Only on Fox: "All-Out Civil War in Iraq: Could It Be a Good Thing?"
Plan for Quagmire

Remember Rendition?

NEW YORK, Feb 23 (IPS) - A few months ago -- particularly after The Washington Post broke the story of secret U.S. "black sites" in Eastern Europe -- it would have been difficult to pick up a newspaper or watch television without hearing the words "extreme rendition". Then, almost as suddenly as the issue appeared, it vanished. The world's press stopped focusing on the U.S. practice of sending detainees to countries where they would likely be tortured or abused. Last week, the rendition issue was back, but not in a way likely to please its opponents.

Archbishop compares Bush to Ugandan dictator
Parsing pain
Eight Detainees Tortured To Death By U.S.
U.S. admits force feeding at Guantanamo
America's Shame: Torture in the Name of Freedom
Shameful: This is the world's view on Guantanamo
Innocence Ignored at Guantanamo
Judge Orders U.S. to Identify Detainees
Files show military rebuffs FBI Guantanamo worries
Horrors of Camp Delta Are Exposed by British Victims
Eyewitness: Guantanamo
A Fabric of Illegality
FBI Memos Reveal Allegations of Abusive Interrogation Techniques

Mardi Gras Countdown Marked by Loss

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - In the final countdown to the city's first Mardi Gras celebration after Hurricane Katrina, there are parades and parties - but also sobering reminders of loss. The first appeared Thursday night, when the biggest of three parades to roll, the all-woman Krewe of Muses parade, culminated with an empty float to symbolize the area's victims - more than 1,000 deaths and close to 2,000 still missing in the aftermath of the Aug. 29 storm.

Elizabeth Taylor donates mobile medical unit to NOLA
White House admits Katrina flaws
Saving the neighborhood
Masking New Orleans
Katrina: After the Storm
Another Mardi Gras, after the Deluge
Katrina Compounded

Information Is Power

Sometimes it's the small abuses scurrying below radar that reveal how profoundly the Bush administration has changed America in the name of national security. Buried within the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 is a regulation that bars most public access to birth and death certificates for 70 to 100 years. In much of the country, these records have long been invaluable tools for activists, lawyers, and reporters to uncover patterns of illness and pollution that officials miss or ignore. In These Times has obtained a draft of the proposed regulations now causing widespread concern among state officials. It reveals plans to create a vast database of vital records to be centralized in Washington, and details measures that states must implement–and pay millions for--before next year's scheduled implementation. The draft lays out how some 60,000 already strapped town and county offices must keep the birth and death records under lock and key and report all document requests to Washington. Individuals who show up in person will still be able to obtain their own birth certificates, and in some cases, the birth and death records of an immediate relative; and "legitimate" research institutions may be able to access files.

Ex-Aides to Ohio Gov. Face Ethics Charges

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Two former aides to Gov. Bob Taft face ethics charges for alleged dealings with a prominent Republican fundraiser who managed a controversial state investment in rare coins. The aides, Doug Moormann and Douglas Talbott, are the third and fourth former Taft aides to face charges as a result of their relationship with Tom Noe, a rare coin dealer and GOP donor.

Contractor to Plead Guilty in Bribe Scheme

WASHINGTON (AP) - A defense contractor has agreed to plead guilty to his role in lavishing more than $1 million in gifts on a California congressman, two federal law enforcement officials said.

Republicans Rally to Support DeLay

U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay was likened to Stonewall Jackson, Lyndon Baines Johnson and a courageous World War I officer Thursday as members of the Texas Republican congressional delegation joined the former House majority leader to endorse his re-election.

Reaganomics Revisited: Beyond the Glow of Nostalgia

At the simplest factual level, it is not accurate that Reagan's tax policies were responsible for bringing inflation down, from an average rate of 8.2 per cent under Nixon, Ford and Carter, to 4.6 per cent under Reagan. The main force here was the stringent monetary policies imposed by then Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker. Volcker was appointed not by Reagan but by Jimmy Carter in 1979. Carter appointed Volcker because Wall Street made it clear to Carter that he had no choice. Almost immediately on taking office, Volcker returned the favor to Carter by imposing the most severe global recession since the 1930s, which then doomed Carter's chances for re-election in 1980.

Bush’s Policies Don't Promote Growth
Cavuto falsely claimed real wages have increased

Bush helps raise money for Republicans on road

Cincinnati (Reuters) - President George W. Bush raised money for Republican candidates in Indiana and Ohio on Thursday and the White House said he remained a sought-after draw on his party's campaign trail despite Republican gripes at his stand over a port security issue.

Blogger Bares Rumsfeld's Post 9/11 Orders

Hours after a commercial plane struck the Pentagon on September 11 2001 the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was issuing rapid orders to his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement, according to notes taken by one of them.

"Hard to get good case. Need to move swiftly," the notes say. "Near term target needs - go massive - sweep it all up, things related and not."

Libby's Weak Defense

Scooter Libby's lawyers certainly can't be accused of not being zealous advocates for their client.

Libby's Lawyers Argue Indictment Is Unconstitutional
Journalists Avoiding the Real Libby Story
Rockefeller Takes on the White House over Leaks

Network Neutrality: Dead on Arrival?

Network neutrality, a principle that ensures the free flow of ideas online, appears dead on arrival in Washington as big media once again have wielded their influence over elected politicians.

The Unreal Death of Journalism
Meet the Press-- but only if you're a Republican
Protests Planned Against Media War Coverage
Rumsfeld Declares War on Bad Press

Friedan and King: Super Models

Within the space of a week, three stories were front page news--the deaths of Betty Friedan and Coretta Scott King and this newsflash from the New York Times: "Some Democrats Are Sensing Missed Opportunities." Talk about understatement, especially when the whopping lies of the Bush administration continue to pile up (Bush never met Abramoff, domestic spying is legal, no one at the White House knew the levees had broken). The old white guys in the party--Harry Reid, John Kerry, Howard Dean--and the disappointing female leaders like Pelosi and especially Hillary Clinton (Joe Leiberman in drag) would do well to consider what Freidan and King achieved in their lifetimes. King, of course, endured real threats to her and her family's safety and, as Jimmy Carter pointedly reminded us (bless you, Jimmy), surveillance of their private life. She was enormously courageous. But so was Friedan, who forged ahead to change the lives of millions of women of several generations despite ongoing ridicule of her politics and, crucially and repeatedly, her looks. But in addition to the lessons in courage the Democrats might take from these women, they might note that both women fought for concrete, systematic policies and laws--to be enacted and enforced.

Black Leadership Wanted
Celebrating Black History Month: Making History In Congress

Coretta Scott King was more than civil rights widow

Honoring Betty Friedan, pioneer of women's rights

Dems on Ethics: A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Newton's Third Law of Motion states, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." Newton obviously never met the Democratic Party. The Republican Congress has proven to be the most corrupt in generations and has bungled its response to the ethics problems by electing special-interest favorite Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) as its new House majority leader. As one of his first acts, Boehner proposed to water down the already weak Republican package on ethics reform. To counter, the Democrats should have proposed an ethics plan as strong and bold as the GOP's is weak and floundering. Yet in early February, a top Democratic staffer was quoted in a Capitol Hill newspaper saying, "It's not clear that we have to go out with a bold, comprehensive package." So much for Newton. Only the Democrats could come up with such an underwhelming plan on ethics reform when a strong proposal would have been a political grand slam. In case you missed it (and you're not alone if you did), the ethics reform proposed by the Democrats is a peashooter aimed at the edges of the 800-ton blob eating Washington: corruption in politics. It includes proposals like banning corporate-paid travel, improving lobbying...

Searching for the Democrats - Blue Clues
The Semi-comatose State Of The American Left
Dems Speak Up

Cheney's Coup

A 3-Year-Old Executive Order That Vastly Expanded His Powers Illuminates How the Vice President and His Minions Led Us Into War

After shooting Austin lawyer Harry Whittington, Dick Cheney's immediate impulse was to control the intelligence. Rather than call the president directly, he ordered an aide to inform White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card that there had been an accident but not that Cheney was its cause. Then a host of surrogates attacked the victim for not steering clear of Cheney when he was firing. Cheney attempted to defuse the subsequent furor by giving an interview to friendly Fox News. His most revealing answer came in response to a question about something other than the hunting accident.

Medicare Numbers at Odds with US Claims: Fewer volunteers for new drug plan

"For an administration that frequently provides inaccurate information, the use of the 25 million enrollment figure breaks new ground in misleading propaganda." Ron Pollack, executive director, Families USA

We need health care coverage for all Americans now

USC Gets $25M to Build Stem Cell Center

The Broad Institute is expected to bring together various scientific disciplines to study stem cells, which some believe hold promise for treating an array of diseases including Parkinson's and diabetes.

Ill. Gov. Not in on 'Daily Show' Joke

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Gov. Rod Blagojevich wasn't in on the joke. Blagojevich says he didn't realize "The Daily Show" was a comedy spoof of the news when he sat down for an interview that ended up poking fun at the sometimes-puzzled Democratic governor.

NRA Urges Judge to Overturn S.F. Gun Ban

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The National Rifle Association urged a judge to overturn San Francisco's voter-approved handgun ban, arguing the city can't ban the guns because state law allows them.

Jury Deliberates Texas Mom's Fate

The jury had deliberated for two days in the trial of Dena Schlosser, 37, before sending a note to State District Judge Chris Oldner on Thursday saying they couldn't agree on a verdict.

Schlosser pleaded innocent by reason of insanity in the death of her 10-month-old daughter Margaret. Police said they had found her soaked in blood, holding a knife and listening to a hymn as the baby lay dying in her crib.

Watchdog Group Questions 2004 Fla. Vote

Voting problems would have had to have been widespread across the state to make
a difference. President Bush won Florida - and its 27 electoral votes - by
381,000 votes in 2004. Overall, he defeated John Kerry by 286 to 252 electoral
votes, with 270 needed for victory.

Former congressmen work to reform electoral college
In an Illinois Primary, Three's a Crowd

Washington's Clout at U.N. Challenged

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 22 (IPS) - The 132-member Group of 77, which represents over two-thirds of the membership of the United Nations, rebuffed a U.S. claim that it has a right to virtually dictate the agenda on U.N. peacekeeping because it pays 27 percent of the budget.

Powerful and Poor Lock Horns Over How to Run UN

Ford sued over Argentine abuses

Ex-workers of an Argentine Ford factory sue the firm over what they say were serious abuses during military rule.

Philippines declares state of emergency

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo declares a state of emergency after the army said it had foiled a coup plot.

India, US make progress over nuclear deal

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India and the United States have made progress toward a landmark nuclear deal, an Indian statement said on Friday, days before President George W. Bush visits New Delhi to cement a new friendship between both nations.

Thousands flee new CAR 'rebels'

Armed unrest in the Central African Republic causes thousands of people to flee to neighbouring Chad.

Khartoum Accused of Exporting Darfur Violence to Chad

BURMA: Rights Record Grim, Says UN Envoy

BANGKOK , Feb 24 (IPS) - As he bade goodbye to Burma, the United Nations envoy appointed to investigate human rights abuses in that military-ruled country evoked an image of a people trapped in a nightmare of Orwellian proportions.

China Frees Man Jailed During 1989 Protest

BEIJING (AP) - A man who was jailed for throwing paint on Mao Zedong's portrait overlooking Beijing's Tiananmen Square during pro-democracy protests in 1989 has been released after nearly 17 years in prison, his family said Thursday. Meanwhile, another man involved in the same incident who spent 11 years in jail was recently arrested again - this time for taking part in a hunger strike, a human rights activist said Friday.

Mass Arrest Victims Languish in Jail

Dhaka, Bangaladesh , Feb 23 (IPS) - Hundreds of people, incarcerated by the government following mass arrests carried out ahead of a mammoth anti-government rally on Feb. 5, are still languishing in jail

''For the last couple of weeks, I have been trying to get my innocent son freed, but I am still waiting,'' said day labourer Abdul Halim, whose son was arrested in Dhaka on Feb. 4.

Thai premier calls snap election

Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra dissolves parliament for early elections, as he hits back against calls for him to quit.

Fighting the Flow of River Privatisation

PENANG, MALAYSIA Feb 24 (IPS) - Plans to privatise three major rivers in densely populated Selangor state, in May, have sparked an outcry among concerned groups, alarmed at common natural resources falling into private hands.

World WaterDay: Private Sector Still Eyeing to Own Every Drop
Stop Privatizing Water, NGOs Tell Developed Countries
As Multinationals Run the Taps, Anger Rises Over Water for Profit

Water Wars
New British Empire Of The Dammed

Shell told to pay Nigeria $1.5b

A Nigerian court orders oil giant Shell's local operation to pay $1.5bn to the Ijaw people of the Delta region.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bush Threatens Veto in Ports Row

How Neo-Cons Sabotaged Iran's Help on al Qaeda

WASHINGTON, Feb 21 (IPS) - The United States and Iran were on a course to work closely together on the war against al Qaeda and its Taliban sponsors in Afghanistan in late 2001 and early 2002 -- until Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stepped in to scuttle that cooperation, according to officials who were involved at the time.

At Spy Agencies, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

NEW YORK, Feb 20 (IPS) - Find illegal activity in the U.S. national security agency you work for. Report it to your superiors. Get rewarded by being demoted or having your security clearance revoked -- tantamount to losing your career -- while those whose conduct you've reported get promoted.

National Security Whistleblowers

US Reclassifies Documents in Secret Review

In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years. Because the reclassification program is itself shrouded in secrecy - governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved - it continued virtually without outside notice until December 2005.

Farewell to Ground Zero

Jonathan Schell writes that the structure of our Republic is at mortal risk. Will our Constitution survive or are we in the midst of a transmutation in which the balance of powers and our personal freedoms will be canceled?

Senators Roll Over on Patriot Act
The New American Police State

Premiere Scientist Group Denounces 'Anti-Evolution' Legislation

US scientific leaders have launched a new assault on political attempts to undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, supported by 30 other scientific and educational organizations, adopted a declaration denouncing "anti-evolution" legislation that is pending in 14 states.

Their Own Version of a Big Bang

War Costs Irk Congress

Few lawmakers care to risk not supporting US troops or first responders, making these must-pass bills. As such, they're attracting add-ons that lawmakers deem "emergencies."

Budgets are Moral Documents
Bush to seek $120 billion for wars, sources say
Less Butter, More Guns
Porkies II

South Dakota lawmakers mull outlawing abortion

PIERRE, S.D. - Lawmakers here are preparing to vote on a bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions in South Dakota, a measure that could become the most sweeping ban approved by any state in more than a decade, those on both sides of the abortion debate say.

Justices to Revisit Late-Term Abortion Ban
ACLU and National Abortion Federation Call On U.S. Supreme Court to Hold Women’s Health Paramount

They Blinded Us With Science

BROOKLIN, Canada, Feb 17 (IPS) - Evidence is mounting that U.S. scientists have been prevented by the George W. Bush administration from telling the truth about global warming and other environmental and health issues.

Jobs Cut at Energy Lab Restored before Bush Visit
Reporting on Bush's renewable energy tour, Wash. Post soft-pedaled White House retreat from SOTU pledge

Struggling for Recruits, Army Relaxes Its Rules

With more than 2,200 dead, 16,700 wounded and a large percentage of Americans disapproving of the war in Iraq, the US military is struggling to meet its recruiting goals. With little fanfare, the Army has eased enlistment restrictions, allowing soldiers previously considered too heavy, too old, too sickly or too uneducated to head off to basic training.

Millions Not Joining Medicare Drug Plan

A $400 million campaign by the Bush administration to enroll low-income seniors in prescription drug coverage that would cost them just a few dollars per prescription has signed up 1.4 million people, a fraction of the eight million eligible for the new coverage.

Three New Reports Show Medicare Drug Prices Rising Rapidly
Big Medicine's Malignant Growth

An Elegy for GM--and Ourselves

Nicholas von Hoffmann writes that when General Motors goes down, the company will take the rest of us down with it.

Watchdogs Urge Full Probe of Bush Propaganda Spending

Media reform groups are calling for a deeper investigation of Bush administration advertising and propaganda efforts following the release of a report that concludes the White House has spun a web of public relations (PR) contracts larger than previously thought.

Propaganda: America's Psychological Warriors

Abramoff's Evangelical Soldiers

Reports Find Tenuous Terror Ties at Guantanamo

NEW YORK, Feb 21 (IPS) - Last June, U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters, "If you think of the people down there (at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba), these are people, all of whom were captured on a battlefield. They're terrorists, trainers, bomb makers, recruiters, financiers, (Osama bin Laden's) bodyguards, would-be suicide bombers, probably the 20th 9/11 hijacker."

The Shame of Guantanamo
Free U.S. Captives or Charge Them

U.S. Legislators Cross Swords with U.N. Bloc

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 16 (IPS) - The Committee on International Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives has lambasted a coalition of 132 developing nations, accusing the group of trying to block a U.S.-inspired effort to bring about radical changes in the management of the U.N. Secretariat.

VENEZUELA-US: Escalating Tensions Kept in Check by Oil

CARACAS, Feb 17 (IPS) - The U.S. government of George W. Bush, which has labeled President Hugo Chávez its biggest worry in Latin America, has now begun to lobby allies in a diplomatic campaign to counter the Venezuelan leader.

Robertson and Chavez: The Real Story - Part 1 - Cheney and the Oil Band
Cavuto Helping Stir Up Trouble with Chavez

Bush Faces Big Choices as Hamas Takes Reins

WASHINGTON, Feb 16 (IPS) - On the eve of Hamas' takeover of the Palestinian parliament, the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush still appears uncertain about how hard a line to take with the movement it has long considered a terrorist organisation.

Discussing Hamas, Anti-Muslim Bias
Would Someone Please Interfere in Our Elections?
If Hamas Must Renounce Violence, So Should Israel

Trade Begins to Get Fairer

"Perspectives are positive," Anja Osterhaus of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office in Brussels, a common initiative of four international fair trade federations told IPS. "Growth is particularly fast in countries where fair trade is not well established yet and still has a big potential." The idea behind fair trade is to link low-income producers in developing countries with consumer markets. Fairly traded products seek to support living wages and safe and healthy conditions for workers.

Iraqi blast damages Shia shrine

EGYPT: Opposition Crumbles After Poor Showing

"The regime hasn't allowed any real secular parties to operate, and that's why most Egyptians didn't participate in elections," Emad Gad, a political analyst at the government-run Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies told IPS. "Because of the extremely closed nature of the regime and the ruling NDP, Egypt's secular opposition has remained voiceless."

Egyptian opposition leader seeks nuclear reactors

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Alleged new Abu Ghraib abuse images revealed

SYDNEY, Australia - An Australian television network on Wednesday broadcast photographs and video clips it said were previously unpublished images of the alleged abuse of Iraqis held in U.S. military custody at Abu Ghraib prison.


Related articles:
Warning: graphic photos
Warning: more graphic photos
The Abu Ghraib files

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Let's take to the streets!

The Problem: For a year, we have tried all of the traditional lobbying techniques including marches, petitions, emails, letters, calls, town hall forums, and even face-to-face meetings with our Representatives. Yet despite all this effort, not one Representative is willing to introduce Articles of Impeachment, while fewer than 30 have co-sponsored Rep. Conyers' Watergate-style investigation. On Iraq, John Murtha's bill has nearly 100 co-sponsors but not the 218 needed to force a floor vote; Jim McGovern's bill has fewer than 20 co-sponsors, even though George Bush just asked for $120 billion more for a war America does not support and cannot afford.

The Solution: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King faced far worse resistance from political leaders when they tried to end segregation in the South. So they took their movement to the streets and marched peacefully directly into the face of that resistance. We will take our inspiration from them, and bring our movement peacefully into the face of our resistance: the 435 Members of Congress who are supposed to represent us but refuse to do so. (We'll make an exception for the House Honor Roll - Members who support our three priority bills above. For those Members, we will focus on Member Meetings to persuade them to introduce Articles of Impeachment.)


Monday, February 13, 2006

British Make Arrest in Iraq Abuse Case

LONDON -- British military police said Monday they had arrested one man in their investigation of a video that allegedly showed soldiers abusing prisoners in Iraq.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Let's talk about reproductive rights

Who should have a say in whether or not a woman can terminate a pregnancy? Should a man have to pay child support if he was not in favor of the pregnancy? Do you believe in reincarnation, and if so how does that affect your views on abortion and the afterlife?

Let's talk about sexuality issues

Are people born gay? Is there such a thing as being ex-gay? Do marriages by members of the same gender threaten the very foundation of the institution? Is gay marriage fine but living together unmarried a sin?

Let's talk about election reform

Are you in favor of it? What would you like to see changed?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Healthy Dose of Reality for Mr. Bush

Just as they did following the memorial service for Senator Paul Wellstone in 2002, Republican operatives and their acolytes in the media are now claiming that there was something inappropriate about the manner in which those who knew Coretta Scott King best mourned her passing. So great is the determination of the spin doctors for a White House that seeks to protect George Bush from even the mildest expressions of dissent that commentators rushed Tuesday to television studios even before the service for Mrs. King was done to denounce former President Jimmy Carter, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin for expressing sentiments not usually heard by this protected president.


When Crass is Called For

It's time to take a stand against civility, decency and appropriateness.

No, I'm not suggesting that you should stop saying "please" and "thank you." But lately, the claims about civility that come from the political right seem to mask an unstated and troubling assertion: Never, ever, challenge anyone in power.

Take this week's kerfuffle over the funeral of Coretta Scott King. After her death, politicians from both parties tripped over one another in their haste to offer tasteful, inoffensive eulogies. Speaking at King's funeral, President Bush had the formula down pat. With just the right tone of fervent gravity, he informed mourners that "Coretta Scott King showed that a person of conviction and strength could also be a beautiful soul."


The Rights of the Born

Everything was going swimmingly on the panel. The subject was politics and faith, and I was on stage with two clergymen with progressive spiritual leanings, and a moderator who is liberal and Catholic. We were having a discussion with the audience of 1,300 people in Washington about many of the social justice topics on which we agree — the immorality of the federal budget, the wrongness of the president's war in Iraq. Then an older man came to the mike and raised the issue of abortion, and everyone just lost his or her mind.

Or, at any rate, I did.


Finding Spirit Among the Dems

...In [Rabbi Michael] Lerner's view, the Religious Right's considerable political power is the result of, not so much a particular liturgy or ideology, but its ability to locate this pain. More important, therefore, than its current domination of the federal government is that long after its allies are gone from office, the ability for the Religious Right to dictate the terms of the debate itself -- from tax cuts to war to civil rights for gays and reproductive freedom for women -- will remain unless something is done to change course. A few victories in the upcoming election isn't enough.