Monday, November 03, 2008

My Personal 'Faith Priorities' for this Election

By Jim Wallis of Sojourner Magazine

In 2004, several conservative Catholic bishops and a few megachurch pastors like Rick Warren issued their list of "non-negotiables," which were intended to be a voter guide for their followers. All of them were relatively the same list of issues: abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, etc. None of them even included the word "poverty," only one example of the missing issues which are found quite clearly in the Bible. All of them were also relatively the same as official Republican Party Web sites of "non-negotiables." The political connections and commitments of the religious non-negotiable writers were quite clear.
I want to suggest a different approach this year and share my personal list of "faith priorities" that will guide me in making the imperfect choices that always confront us in any election year — and suggest that each of you come up with your own list of "faith" or "moral" priorities for this election year and take them into the voting booth with you.
After the last election, I wrote a book titled God’s Politics. I was criticized by some for presuming to speak for God, but that wasn’t the point. I was trying to explore what issues might be closest to the heart of God and how they may be quite different from what many strident religious voices were then saying. I was also saying that "God’s Politics" will often turn our partisan politics upside down, transcend our ideological categories of Left and Right, and challenge the core values and priorities of our political culture. I was also trying to say that there is certainly no easy jump from God’s politics to either the Republicans or Democrats. God is neither. In any election we face imperfect choices, but our choices should reflect the things we believe God cares about if we are people of faith, and our own moral sensibilities if we are not people of faith. Therefore, people of faith, and all of us, should be "values voters" but vote all our values, not just a few that can be easily manipulated for the benefit of one party or another.
In 2008, the kingdom of God is not on the ballot in any of the 50 states as far as I can see. So we can’t vote for that this year. But there are important choices in this year’s election — very important choices — which will dramatically impact what many in the religious community and outside of it call "the common good," and the outcome could be very important, perhaps even more so than in many recent electoral contests.
I am in no position to tell anyone what is "non-negotiable," and neither is any bishop or megachurch pastor, but let me tell you the "faith priorities" and values I will be voting on this year:
1. With more than 2,000 verses in the Bible about how we treat the poor and oppressed, I will examine the record, plans, policies, and promises made by the candidates on what they will do to overcome the scandal of extreme global poverty and the shame of such unnecessary domestic poverty in the richest nation in the world. Such a central theme of the Bible simply cannot be ignored at election time, as too many Christians have done for years. And any solution to the economic crisis that simply bails out the rich, and even the middle class, but ignores those at the bottom should simply be unacceptable to people of faith.
2. From the biblical prophets to Jesus, there is, at least, a biblical presumption against war and the hope of beating our swords into instruments of peace. So I will choose the candidates who will be least likely to lead us into more disastrous wars and find better ways to resolve the inevitable conflicts in the world and make us all safer. I will choose the candidates who seem to best understand that our security depends upon other people’s security (everyone having "their own vine and fig tree, so no one can make them afraid," as the prophets say) more than upon how high we can build walls or a stockpile of weapons. Christians should never expect a pacifist president, but we can insist on one who views military force only as a very last resort, when all other diplomatic and economic measures have failed, and never as a preferred or habitual response to conflict.
3. "Choosing life" is a constant biblical theme, so I will choose candidates who have the most consistent ethic of life, addressing all the threats to human life and dignity that we face — not just one. Thirty-thousand children dying globally each day of preventable hunger and disease is a life issue. The genocide in Darfur is a life issue. Health care is a life issue. War is a life issue. The death penalty is a life issue. And on abortion, I will choose candidates who have the best chance to pursue the practical and proven policies which could dramatically reduce the number of abortions in America and therefore save precious unborn lives, rather than those who simply repeat the polarized legal debates and "pro-choice" and "pro-life" mantras from either side.
4. God’s fragile creation is clearly under assault, and I will choose the candidates who will likely be most faithful in our care of the environment. In particular, I will choose the candidates who will most clearly take on the growing threat of climate change, and who have the strongest commitment to the conversion of our economy and way of life to a cleaner, safer, and more renewable energy future. And that choice could accomplish other key moral priorities like the redemption of a dangerous foreign policy built on Middle East oil dependence, and the great prospects of job creation and economic renewal from a new "green" economy built on more spiritual values of conservation, stewardship, sustainability, respect, responsibility, co-dependence, modesty, and even humility.
5. Every human being is made in the image of God, so I will choose the candidates who are most likely to protect human rights and human dignity. Sexual and economic slavery is on the rise around the world, and an end to human trafficking must become a top priority. As many religious leaders have now said, torture is completely morally unacceptable, under any circumstances, and I will choose the candidates who are most committed to reversing American policy on the treatment of prisoners. And I will choose the candidates who understand that the immigration system is totally broken and needs comprehensive reform, but must be changed in ways that are compassionate, fair, just, and consistent with the biblical command to "welcome the stranger."
6. Healthy families are the foundation of our community life, and nothing is more important than how we are raising up the next generation. As the father of two young boys, I am deeply concerned about the values our leaders model in the midst of the cultural degeneracy assaulting our children. Which candidates will best exemplify and articulate strong family values, using the White House and other offices as bully pulpits to speak of sexual restraint and integrity, marital fidelity, strong parenting, and putting family values over economic values? And I will choose the candidates who promise to really deal with the enormous economic and cultural pressures that have made parenting such a "countercultural activity" in America today, rather than those who merely scapegoat gay people for the serious problems of heterosexual family breakdown.
That is my list of personal "faith priorities" for the election year of 2008, but they are not "non-negotiables" for anyone else. It’s time for each of us to make up our own list in these next 12 days. Make your list and send this on to your friends and family members, inviting them to do the same thing.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Alternative bailout plan

(from an e-mail)
Dear Wall Street,
I'm speaking on behalf of a group called The Taxpayers of the United States. Now that we've rejected the first bailout plan, I'm sure that in the spirit of tough, free market capitalism and spirited negotiations, you'll consider our second offer. Here are some terms that we trust you'll find reasonable:

(1) We are willing to loan you money at a very low, introductory rate of 8.9%. If you are even one nanosecond late on your payment, your rate will go from 8.9% to 32.9% -- instantly. You will have no right to appeal this. The interest rate increase will be retroactive. And none of this 'but I mailed it out Friday' stuff. We must get it, and the check must clear, for your payment to count. Reminder: transactions that occur after 2pm are not credited until the next business day, so be sure to make your payments before then.
(2) If you are late on any of your other payments to your other creditors, your rate will also be spiked to 32.9%. I know it has nothing to do with us, but if you are late paying someone else, then obviously you are a bigger credit risk to us.
(3) We will send you onerous terms and conditions in 6 point font. Of course, those terms can change on a whim, at any time, so we'll be sending you hourly updates to the contract, which we expect you to read and keep up with. Sorry -- we will be the only ones that can amend the contract; you cannot.
(4) You will have a predetermined credit line, and if you go over it by even $1, your interest rate will spike to 54.9%. Sorry, it's in the contract on page 109,209,392.
(5) The bankruptcy laws have now changed. If you get into a bind, I'm afraid you won't find much sympathy. No more silly excuses will be accepted. We are going to have the titles to all of your buildings and physical assets put in our name, so when the inevitable time comes and you trip up, we'll simply take everything from you. There will be no court hearing.
(6) We'll be conducting a background check, driving records check, drug test, and disease risk check of all of the top executives of your firm. After all, you're a riskier loan if you have any of those afflictions, aren't you? Well, if we find anything wrong, your interest rate will skyrocket, and without notice.
(7) If your business is located in a bad neighborhood, a poor city, a hurricane zone or terrorist targeted city, as defined by us, we can raise your interest rates at any time, to any rate we choose.

For the last quarter century or so, you've imposed these terms, or some variation of them, upon us when loaning us money or insuring us, arguing every single time that it's 'necessary' and that these sorts of changes 'will result in more profitable companies that will pass the savings along to consumers.' Well, now that we're in the role of lender, and you're in the role of borrower, we're sure that you'll find these same terms fair.

Wall Street, prove the cynics wrong and accept our new plan. Prove to everyone that you're not the hypocrites that everyone thinks you are.

Wallace Mangold, Attorney-at-Law, representing the Taxpayers of the U.S.A."

Friday, September 19, 2008

This is Your Nation on White Privilege / By Tim Wise / 9/13/08

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

* White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.
* White privilege is when you can call yourself a “f*****’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their f*****' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot s**t” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.
* White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.
* White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”
* White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.
* White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you. White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.
* White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.
* White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”
* White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.
* White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.
* White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.
* White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a “light” burden.
* And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Tim Wise is the author of White Like Me (Soft Skull, 2005, revised 2008), and of
Speaking Treason Fluently, publishing this month, also by Soft Skull.
For review copies or interview requests, please reply to

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

UN Exam

For U.S. citizens seeking junior professional posts.

EXAMINATION CRITERIA (all must be met)
1. Be no more than 32 years old as of December 31, 2009 (UN requirement).
2. Have at least an undergraduate degree (advanced degree is an advantage but is not required) in one of the following occupational fields or related areas:
· Administration
· Economics
· Finance
· Information Technology
· Public Information
· Social Affairs
· Statistics
3. Be fluent in English and/or French, the two working languages of the
Secretariat. Knowledge of additional official languages of the UN (Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish) is a definite advantage.

NOTE: The exam may be limited to the 40 most qualified Americans per occupational group.


Detailed information and application forms may be obtained at target=_new>
Examination will be held on February 24, 2009, in New York City and San Francisco.
Travel expenses to and from exam site will NOT be paid by the UN or U.S. Government.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Racist crap from the Hamptons

From here, "The Independent has the highest distribution/circulation sites of any local newspaper on the East End, reaching both forks, from Wading River to Orient and from Manorville to Montauk. Every Wednesday, The Independent, chock full of local and regional news, sports, a huge classified section, is the first and only local newspaper you'll need to pick up."

Why I Should Be Our Next President


By Yo Mama Bin Barack

My name is YoMama Bin Barack, and I want to be your next president so together we can begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.

My opponents say I live in a dream world. That may well be true, for I believe in the dream of Doctor Martin Luther King, the dream that all men are created equal.

His words resonate in my very being: "Some day, you too can be a black man who makes a difference in this country, and you too can be called 'Doctor' even though you are not a doctor of any kind." I believe that, and someday I hope people will call me Doctor YoMama. In fact, I hope someday people will call me President Doctor YoMama (but please don't call me Luther, I hate that name).

I was telling this very thing to my wife AliBama the other night while we were in bed, umm, praying. I said, "AliBama, I want to be your next president so together we can begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today."

And she said, "YoMama, then why don't you cut out the president shit and get a real job and make some freakin' money?" But I explained I have plenty of money, because bleeding heart liberal Democrats from all across this vast country of ours have felt it in their hearts to send a contribution to my campaign so I can begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today and also because I need to buy my little daughter Bama Slamma a PlayStation so she will get off my back.

Why do I think I am the best candidate for the job? Look at my resume – it speaks for itself.

Educational background: Doctorate

Military background: I was the first black troop leader of the Boy Scouts Troop 43 in my home state of Illinois. Well, that's not quite true, because they didn't let black kids in the Boy Scouts, so I lied and said I was Hawaiian, which I kind of am, sort of. You see, part of my strategy of becoming our first black president is to deny I am black unless I am campaigning in Harlem. The truth is, I don't know many black people, but my advisors have drafted a strategy to reel in the black vote:

1) Call everyone "Brother." Blacks, I am told, do this, even if their real brothers are mostly in jail.

2) Talk Jive. Brothers want to hear jive. During my speech I told the crowd "We be, you know, sick of whitey supressin' and congestin' so, you know, we won't denigrate or sophisticate but emulate and populate, you know, the system is, like, broken, y'all!"

I have no idea what that means. The black folk loved it, though, so they all vowed to vote for me. The New York Times covered it, but they are so afraid of saying something racist they twisted my words around and reported:

"Yesterday in Harlem YoMama articulated his vision of a new America, an America with less congestion, a country free of drug use, a world without segregation or racism where citizens emulate the lives of great Americans like YoMama, John F. Kennedy and Doctor Martin Luther King."

So you see, there is my strategy. I get the black vote, I get the white vote, and then I go after the female vote by attacking that bitch Hillary for being the Nasty Witch from Hell.

Anyhow, girls think I'm cute. I'm kind of like Will Smith, except he's got those Dumbo ears and mine are normal. So, for the next six months, I am going to fly all over the country, and every place I speak I am going to tell the people:

"As Americans, we can take enormous pride in the fact that courage has been inspired by our own struggle for freedom, by the tradition of democratic law secured by our forefathers and enshrined in our Constitution. It is a tradition that says all men are created equal under the law and that no one is above it."

To be honest, I have no idea what that means. If you analyze it carefully, it really doesn't mean anything. But it sounds like something a president or a doctor would say. I can make that speech every day and no matter how many times I do the stupid newspapers will report it differently. They will make me sound like the smart, young, new voice of America, because most editors out there figure anything is better than having a cow like Hillary Clinton snorking around the White House making weasel deals again.

Ultimately, if she gets too close, one of my New York advisors has advised me to, "Bitch slap that ho." White women, I am told, like that. (Black women, on the other hand, do not. I tried that once on AliBama and she beat the living shit out of me.)

Of course, I also have to contend with John Edwards. My strategy is to ignore him until he actually manages to win a primary. Since he's, like, zero for 43 so far, that should be the end of him. You see, Mr. Edwards hasn't figured out that to win an election some people have to actually vote for you. (If he does make a run at me, I might consider bitch slapping him, as he is somewhat of a Pretty Boy if you get my jist.)

In closing, I humbly ask for your vote on Election Day, even if I did hang around the school yard and smoke pot when I was getting my Doctorate in Blackstuff. And, oh, by the way, I am in the process of finding out how I can also call myself "Reverend." I have a call in to Al Sharpton.

Thanks for visiting The Independent

Sunday, January 06, 2008


A personal note from a from a friend of mine in the Albany area:

First, let me assure you that this is NOT one of those obnoxious forwards - it is something I am writing out of my own frustration with the gasoline situation, and I'm doing it to give you information that you might find useful.

To save you time you may not want to spend reading this whole thing, here's the main point:


You'll get very poor mileage, stink up your interior and support the wrong idea about energy independence.

Now I'll give the longer version of my diatribe, based on direct experience, not on the input of other ravers (which I imagine is also readily available).

You may have noticed in recent weeks when you filled up that there are stickers on some pumps announcing that the gas is "maximum 10% ethanol." This is because a number of boneheaded politicians have allowed a very wealthy agribusiness lobby to convince them that this is the way toward energy independence (it's not - reduction in use would be a start, but no one in government seems to be advocating that idea). What amounts to a huge giveaway to corn farmers (poor they are not) is also threatening worse pollution of the Gulf of Mexico (through greater chemical runoffs) and a
grotesque misuse of farmland that should be producing food.

I've unwittingly used a few tankfuls of the evil stuff, before realizing that it was doing bad things to my car. The big head-scratcher was that I was suddenly getting the worst mileage I've ever gotten with this 14-year-old Acura Integra (it's like a gussied-up Honda Civic and averages well over 30 mpg). Was it the cold weather? tire pressure? age? oil leaks?

At first, I didn't connect the dots, but now I'm certain that the poorly burning veggie fuel is reducing my mileage by 10-15%. It has been confirmed to me by credible sources that ethanol is known to be cheaper (wholesale) and to give worse mileage. However, so far, it is not proving to be cheaper at the pump - so, with the worse mileage it is in fact a lot more expensive, not to mention more polluting (because you have to use more of it to go the same distance). And it adds to the profits of its sellers by causing unwitting customers to need to fill up more often.

It is also apparently giving off noxious fumes that make me feel lousy, but that's not been confirmed elsewhere.

Ethanol gas has become suddenly popular with area distributors because it is brought in through the Port of Albany for the whole Northeast, and therefore is especially cheap locally (wholesale) due to the short distance it must be trucked. But the distributors are not passing on these savings to the consumers, and they certainly aren't publicizing the fact that it is an inferior product. They are, however, trying to seem environmentally sensitive, which is a load.

I've seen this junk at Stewart's, Lukoil and Sunoco; also, I've heard that Cumberland Farms has it. So far, I know that Mobil still sells pure gasoline; I've also heard that Hess and Getty do, too - and the rest I don't know about one way or the other.

So, my advice to you is not to buy ethanol, and instead to find a station near you that sells the good stuff. I don't really care where the gasoline comes from - that's a rather complicated global political business that we can't do much about - but getting the best possible mileage and polluting less are definitely good things we can do by not using bad gas.

As for the politics - well, we can start by getting rid of the Republicans, but you already knew that.

Thanks for listening, and feel free to pass this on (but please don't overdo it!).

yours truly, D