bush

The Prophet Returns, Strumming Her Guitar

Image via Mred32/Flickr

Maines joined the ranks of the great singer-prophets standing and singing against the war in Iraq, but her vocal commitments extend to many important causes including criminal justice reform, domestic violence, and LGBTQ rights. In 2013, she told USA Today, “I'm pro-gay marriage. Pro-gay everything,” and took on the NRA in a series of tweets. She has as many political opinions as #1 country singles, and has shown no signs of slowing down: She recently added Ted Cruz to the list of people she’s ashamed are from Texas.

The Substance of Truth

stocksolution / Shutterstock
stocksolution / Shutterstock

IN 1976, STILL fairly early in his epic career, Robert Redford played Bob Woodward in All the President’s Men, a tense and ultimately triumphant retelling of the Washington Post Watergate investigation that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Now, near the end of that same career, in the movie Truth Redford plays CBS News anchor Dan Rather, in the story of how Rather stumbled, fell, and was pushed out of big-time journalism in the course of pursuing the truth about George W. Bush’s mysterious Vietnam-era “service” in the Texas Air National Guard.

The great moral test for many men of the baby boom generation was “what did you do about the draft?” Questions about how he had eluded the draft dogged our first baby boomer president, Bill Clinton. Then the campaigns of 2000 and 2004 brought the historic test of the baby boom soul front and center, pitting Bush, a baby boomer born to privilege and pro-war politics, against two Democrats, also born to privilege, who volunteered for the military and actually served in Vietnam. Al Gore had a noncombat role and was only in Vietnam for five months, but still, he was there, in a uniform, sometimes carrying a gun. As a Navy lieutenant, John Kerry was honored for courage in battle.

Bush, on the other hand, joined a platoon of other fortunate sons in the Texas Air National Guard. He trained as a pilot, then stopped flying and didn’t show up for his mandatory pilot physicals. He got permission to transfer to a Guard unit in Alabama so he could work on a Republican senatorial campaign, but only one Alabama Guard member claims to have seen him. Finally, he disappeared to Harvard Business School and may have never completed his required days of service.

There were stories about Bush’s wartime shirking in 2000. In 2004, the irony and outrage were intensified when W.’s opponent, Kerry, a bona fide war hero, was subjected to slander from the notorious “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” PAC.

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The NSA's Need to Know, Your Privacy, and Jesus' Path

Rena Schild/Shutterstock
A sign displayed during a rally against mass surveillance. Rena Schild/Shutterstock

I was encouraged by the findings of U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon on Monday who granted an injunction to plaintiffs Larry Klayman and Charles Strange that will temporarily stop the National Security Agency from continuing their data-gathering program that mines information from our mobile phone calls.

The injunction was issued because the judge believes that Klayman and Strange likely will win their lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that the phone record collection practice is an unconstitutional violation of personal privacy.

The whole storyline is made that much more dramatic since the otherwise secret program was leaked to the public by former NSA contract Edward Snowden, who is now on the run, seeking asylum in exchange for shared intelligence. And while some perceive Snowden as a hero of individual liberty, others vilify him as an enemy of the United States, much like any other terrorist. Interestingly, people’s opinions about the NSA — and, frankly, the Obama administration and the government as a whole — diverge in similar ways.

On Scripture: 10 Years of War and Hopes for Peace

Soldier with assault weapon, Sunshine Pics/ shutterstock.com
Soldier with assault weapon, Sunshine Pics/ shutterstock.com

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [and daughters] of God.” 

Matthew 5: 9 from the Beatitudes

I grew up watching casualty reports from the Vietnam War on TV. My Uncle Bill, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, was serving there. My family watched the news every evening to learn about the latest casualty reports. I was too young to understand the anxiety of my parents, but I felt the tension while Uncle Bill was deployed.

As an adult, it’s been a different story. I understand and experience things more fully and have an emotional connection to what I see and hear. That has been true for the last decade. Ten years ago, the Iraq War began. Ten years marked by conflict, violence, and loss. Ten years of debate about why we went to war and why we remained. Ten years dealing with death and injury – 4,488 U.S. deaths and 32,321 soldiers coming home with significant injuries. Suicide rates of soldiers are so high it is impossible to ignore – some while in Iraq and others after returning home. Traumatic brain injuries, grieving families, moral injury, and multiple limb loss are just a few of the constant reminders of the tremendous costs of war. The toll on the nation’s economy has been long lasting as well. The jobless rate among veterans is staggeringly high. 

The human toll has been significant. But military personnel aren’t the only causalities of this war. Numbers vary, but statistics tell us more than 100,000 Iraqi citizens also have been killed and nearly 3 million have been displaced.

These figures cannot be ignored. And they are the results of war.

 

Tired Feet and Conventional Wisdom

She was standing at the bus stop when I got there. Both of us looked very tired. It had been a long day in an even longer week, and it was already past midnight. The buses were running late.

We began to talk, first about how long we might have to wait. An hour went by until our different buses finally came. A little conversation to pass the time turned into a long talk about life and the topic of the week--politics.

New Orleans is her home town. I was there to cover the Republican National Convention, and that had been its last day. My feet were tired from four days of almost constant walking and standing. Her feet were tired from being on them nearly all day, every day. She is a cook in a local restaurant, and this week she had been making food mostly for Republican delegates.

Her hours were long but this middle-aged black woman obviously didn't make enough money to avoid having to wait for a bus to take her home. The Republicans had spent a lot of money and she was grateful for that. "They've got the money," she said. Earlier in the day, a handful of well-scrubbed Republican youths had earnestly assured me that the reason people are poor is because they don't want to work. And George Bush had just told the nation, in his nomination acceptance speech, that we were enjoying both peace and prosperity. But my friend at the bus stop knew why her feet were sore. She would vote Democrat, but with Jesse Jackson gone, she wasn't filled with confidence about that party either. I told her that I had seen just as many stretch limousines in Atlanta as I had in New Orleans.

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