Friday, June 24, 2005


GOP Hack Becomes Mayor of Sesame Street

Patricia Harrison was co-chair of the Republican National Committee from 1997 to 2001. Apparently, that's the only background you need to run public broadcasting in this country, because yesterday Harrison was chosen as the new president and chief executive of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Ironically, the CPB was set up by Congress in the 1960s to shield public broadcasting from political influence. With Harrison's partisan background, public broadcasting is unlikely to much longer keep its distinction as one of the few remaining non-commercial places on the broadcast dial (either radio or TV). As Senator Frank Lautenberg put it, "This is a fatal blow to the historic political neutrality of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."

Why do corporations, and their partisan partners in the GOP, need to control PBS and National Public Radio, too? They already run the other 57 channels (although nowadays it's probably closer to 157 channels -- but there's still nothin' on...).

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Conscience in Time of War

One of the lesser-known provisions of the "No Child Left Behind" Act (not to be confused with Children's Defense Fund's program of the same name) is the clause that enables the military to mine high school records for recruitment purposes. Today's Washington Post reports that the Pentagon is upping the ante, working with a private company to create a database of high school and college students to help identify potential recruits ("Pentagon Creating Student Database").

The efforts of the military to go after these children -- after all, the youngest high school students in the Pentagon's demographic target range are only 16 years old -- suggests an important area of peacework today: Counter-recruiting. What does that mean? Mainly, it's about telling the truth -- about the war in Iraq, about the real costs of becoming part of an interventionist military effort, and perhaps most important about individual conscience (and for many, how faith informs conscience). A good set of resources on conscientious objection can be found on the Mennonite Central Committee Web site.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


U.S. Out of Guantanamo

From SojoMail, the ezine of Sojourners: Guantanamo Bay has become not only a symbol of the U.S. government's hypocrisy and dishonesty...around the war on terror. The prison camp has become one of the more egregious examples of the cost of unaccountable power.... Guantanamo should be closed. But simply closing the facility - and either moving the detainees to another location or returning them to their country of origin - is not enough. If the United States is to regain any credibility as an advocate of human rights around the world, it must begin to practice what it preaches in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Guantanamo, and everywhere else. The erosion of respect for human rights by U.S. personnel didn't begin at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay, and the responsibility for it goes all the way to the top ("Guantanamo and human rights: Practicing what we preach").

But closing the prison camp at Guantanamo doesn't go far enough either. What right does the United States have to occupy that land in the first place? There's only one rationale: the right of empire. The concept is so 19th century -- and yet the neo-cons have turned it almost into their religion. The might-makes-right mentality allowed the United States, as many other colonizers before, to capture lands around the world, including the tip of Cuba. Here's a 21st century concept: Give it back. Of course, that's not going to happen, at least not anytime soon. Truth of the matter is, it would be the right thing to do. But we can't handle the truth. (Okay, that was a stretch, but I couldn't resist the reference.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


GOP Rep: Democrats "Anti-Christian"

Rep. John Hostettler, on the floor of the House yesterday, asserted that "the long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives" and "continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats" ("GOP Congressman Calls Democrats Anti-Christian"). "Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians," he said.

Monday, June 20, 2005


"Onward Moderate Christian Soldiers"

John Danforth, former Republican senator from Missouri, had this to say last week in the New York Times:

It would be an oversimplification to say that America's culture wars are now between people of faith and nonbelievers. People of faith are not of one mind, whether on specific issues like stem cell research and government intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo, or the more general issue of how religion relates to politics. In recent years, conservative Christians have presented themselves as representing the one authentic Christian perspective on politics. With due respect for our conservative friends, equally devout Christians come to very different conclusions.

Check out his insightful and interesting commentary, "Onward Moderate Christian Soldiers."

Sunday, June 19, 2005


A Mythical "Peace" in the Middle East

The celebration of the pullout of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip ("Rice Says Both Sides Commit to Cooperation on Gaza Pullout") is one of the biggest fictions in the Middle East "peace process." Yes, it's good that the illegal settlements are being closed down. But it's mostly just a smokescreen, while Israel consolidates its (also illegal) occupation of the West Bank, finishes the "separation wall" that divides Palestinian territory into non-contiguous Bantustans, and generally ensures that a two-state solution -- with a viable Palestine -- is rendered impossible. So much for a "peace" process.

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