Bush, George W.

Weekly Wrap 12.5.14: The 10 Best Stories You Missed This Week

1. A United Evangelical Response: The System Failed Eric Garner
The Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who killed unarmed Eric Garner was a shocking injustice — but this time the injustice has been universally condemned across religious and political lines. Read this great roundup of evangelical leaders’ responses.

2. These Are the Best Jobs Numbers in Months, Maybe Years
In good news today, the jobs numbers released this morning were a pleasant surprise. The Upshot breaks down the numbers for you. 

3. This Atheist Is Thankful for the Clergy
“The clergy here in St. Louis are a credit to their traditions and to their profession. They are doing what religious leaders ought to do: holding society to a higher moral standard, using their authority as a weapon against injustice, mobilizing the rich resources of their religion to bring hope and encourage change. I’m glad they are here, and I feel privileged to work with them.”

4. Why Are Some Cultures More Individualistic Than Others?
Apparently it all comes down to farming practices. “As we enter a season in which the values of do-it-yourself individualism are likely to dominate our Congress, it is worth remembering that this way of thinking might just be the product of the way our forefathers grew their food and not a fundamental truth about the way that all humans flourish.”

World AIDS Day 2012: Mountains are Moving

By 2015, we could have an AIDS free generation.

AIDS was first identified nearly 30 years ago and has claimed countless lives. Currently, 1,000 babies around the globe are born with the virus each day. During much of the past few decades it’s been hard to see much hope when it comes to turning the tide against this disease.

But, thanks to smart public health decisions, public investment in strategies that work, and innovative implementation by NGO’s, we can now begin to envision a day when this mountain will be moved. During FY 2011 PEPFAR, (The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief) supported the prevention of 200,000 children contracting HIV/AIDS from their mother.

With continued investment we are just a few years away from preventing nearly ALL children from being born with the virus.

Curious George Goes to School

In March the Southern Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church voted 10 to 4 to allow land at Southern Methodist University in Dallas to be used for the George W. Bush Presidential Library and an accompanying partisan institute. The decision was opposed by more than 10,500 Methodist bishops, clergy, and laity who signed an online petition at ProtectSMU.org.

Bush's library committee announced in December that it was in exclusive negotiations with SMU—Laura Bush's alma mater—to house the Bush archives and a conservative think tank. Fellows at this think tank could teach at the university but would be solely accountable to a Bush foundation. This concerns George W. Crawford, an SMU professor emeritus and Methodist lay leader who helped launch the petition in January. "It will change forever people's understanding of the Methodist church and what they stand for," Crawford told Sojourners, "if everything that comes out of the think tank is branded 'Methodist.'"

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Sojourners Magazine June 2007
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Who Will Protect Us From Him?

As the nation observed the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, President George Bush faced growing public disapproval of the war in Iraq. So the Bush administration launched a new offensive to defend its disastrous war, turning unified national mourning into bitter partisan political debate.

First the president delivered a series of speeches in which he equated his war in Iraq with the war on terror, despite widespread public opinion that the Iraq war is both a failure and a distraction from the real battles against terrorism. Then he again became “theologian-in-chief,” using stark imagery of good and evil and language about the “clash of civilizations” to defend his apocalyptic mission. A classified National Intelligence Estimate done by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, which came to light in September, warned that the war on Iraq has increased, not lessened, the threat from terrorism and has spawned a “new generation of Islamic radicalism,” according to The New York Times. The administration’s response has been to attack its critics’ integrity, motives, and patriotism. The president has become even more self-confident, declaring, “I’ve never been more convinced that the decisions I made are the right decisions.”

Vice President Dick Cheney took his usual low-road approach of attacking critics of the war as appeasers, accusing them of giving aid and comfort to terrorists. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld invoked the precedent of Hitler and suggested that critics of the war would have been soft on Nazism and fascism too. Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner showed just how low politicians can go by saying, “I listen to my Democrat friends, and I wonder if they’re more interested in protecting the terrorists than in protecting the American people.” Whatever happened to honest and civil debate?

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Sojourners Magazine November 2006
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Back From The Brink?

A funny thing happened on the way to possible war with Iran. After threatening Tehran for months and darkly warning that “all options are on the table,” the United States in June suddenly switched gears and joined with other major countries in offering to negotiate. This was a hopeful development that for the moment reduced the risk of military attack against Iran.

The debate within the United States over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program is by no means settled, however. Neoconservatives are pushing for a more confrontational approach, while pragmatists are urging patience and direct U.S. engagement. The outcome of this debate will have enormous implications for the prospects of peace, not only in Iran but more broadly in the region.

The proposals offered to Iran by a coalition of European countries, the United States, Russia, and China tend to confirm what many critics in the U.S. have been saying about the best way to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Threatening sanctions and the use of force against Iran is counterproductive and will only harden the Iranian position. Incentives will be more successful than sanctions in gaining Tehran’s cooperation. Diplomatic engagement is the most realistic strategy for preventing the further spread of weapons and war in the region.

THE PROPOSALS PRESENTED this spring to Iran are a step in the right direction, but they do not go far enough toward addressing the roots of the conflict. The incentives package reportedly allows Iran to purchase light-water nuclear reactors, which are less proliferation-prone than its current reactors. It includes a promise of Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization and a pledge to lift restrictions on the Iranian purchase of modern civil aircraft. The package also includes an implicit commitment from the United States to talk with Iran, although only indirectly as part of a multilateral process.

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Sojourners Magazine August 2006
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If All You Have Is A Hammer

The best line I heard in the period leading up to the war in Iraq was, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” It came from my friend Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, when we were on a panel together in England about the best response to terrorism.

The premise of the panel was that the threat of terrorism is real, that there are real dangers prowling about in our world, and that the problem of evil is a very serious one. The question we were addressing was what the best response to the real threats of terrorism should be.

Let me say what we have said before in these pages, before this awful war began: The war with Iraq was not a war of last or only resort, or the best way to deal with the real threats offered by Saddam Hussein. There were other alternatives possible—even some non-administration hawks thought that the “six-point plan” offered by some American religious leaders and released by Sojourners in March 2003 should have been tried—and they were simply not seriously considered by the Bush administration. And it is now undeniably true that this administration lied about the facts in Iraq and consistently manipulated intelligence to justify going to war.

Now the stories come every day, of thousands of young Americans dying and being maimed forever, of wives losing husbands and husbands losing wives, of children losing their parents and parents their children—suffering and pain that I believe was unnecessary.

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Sojourners Magazine August 2006
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Anti-trafficking Success

After unanimous votes in Congress, President Bush signed into law in early January the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, drawing praise from human rights and religious groups. The act’s provisions include investigation of domestic trafficking and protection of vulnerable groups in post-war and humanitarian situations. According to the legislation, up to 800,000 individuals each year—80 percent of whom are women and girls—are internationally trafficked or commercially exploited for sex or labor.

Melissa Snow, deputy director of communication for Shared Hope International, an anti-trafficking organization headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, told Sojourners that the bill represents a shift in focus, “addressing the client—the pedophile, the sex offender—as well as going after the ones exploiting the women—the pimps.” Snow, who was present at the White House signing of the bill, said the bill addresses the problem of trafficking in the United States. The bill states that 100,000 to 300,000 U.S. children at a given time face the risk of being exploited for sex or work and may be trafficked for that purpose.

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Sojourners Magazine April 2006
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The Man Who Would Be King

There are few times as deeply etched in my memory as July 24, 1974, when the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Richard Nixon had to surrender the tapes subpoenaed by the Watergate special prosecutor. Those tapes offered indisputable proof that Nixon had played a key role in covering up the Watergate break-in and other illegal activities.

I remember thinking, What would Nixon do? Surrendering the tapes would mean political ruin and personal disgrace. Would he obey the court or call out the National Guard? Mercifully, eight hours after the court decision, the White House announced it would comply.

I felt that same chill down my spine listening to President George W. Bush on Dec. 17, 2005, as he attempted to explain the revelations in The New York Times concerning him ordering the National Security Agency to engage in extensive eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without the court order required by the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978. Not even mentioning FISA, the president stated proudly, “I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups.”

By what authority did Bush ignore the FISA requirement? Bush claimed he was using “...authority vested in me by Congress, including the Joint Authorization for Use of Military Force...[and] constitutional authority vested in me as commander-in-chief.” Most legal scholars agree that these arguments are quite a stretch. A group of distinguished lawyers, several of whom worked in senior positions in administrations of both parties, sent members of Congress an extensive legal analysis of Bush’s domestic spying, concluding, “The program appears on its face to violate existing law.”

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Sojourners Magazine March 2006
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Getting in the Way

In the beginning was the first President Bush and the first war with Iraq,

In the beginning was the first President Bush and the first war with Iraq, a conflict that forced many Americans to search for Kuwait on their globes and in their atlases. But it also put a fledgling organization called Christian Peacemaker Teams on the map. Now the United States is again at war in Iraq, and CPT is again offering witness to nonviolence. But big changes are happening at CPT. Gene Stoltzfus, the organization’s only director, stepped down Aug. 31 after 17 years of guiding a prophetic but idealistic dream into a pioneer model of faith-based nonviolent action.

"I’m thankful I was able to come along at a time when there was a minority in our churches who felt deeply about this," he said. "I believe that the thirst and the hunger in the world for alternatives for problem solving is so wide and so deep that people are prepared to go beyond convention."

CPT’s genesis came 20 years ago, when the U.S.-Soviet Cold War was playing out in growing conflicts throughout Central America. In a 1984 address at an international Mennonite gathering in France, Ron Sider, founder of Evangelicals for Social Action and author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, called for mobilizing thousands of people who would risk death to position themselves between warring factions around the globe. "Unless we are ready to die developing new nonviolent attempts to reduce international conflict, we should confess that we never really meant the cross was an alternative to the sword," Sider said.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2005
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It's Almost Over...

This has been a tough election season,

This has been a tough election season, a grueling, no-holds-barred slugfest filled with rumors, lies, and innuendo. And that was just on Fox News.

Thankfully, it’s almost time to move beyond the bickering and divisiveness and start thinking about life after Nov. 2. But first, Zell Miller...YOU’RE A STINKER! Okay, now we can move beyond the bickering and divisiveness.

Depending on who is elected, we could see a very different future for this country. If one candidate wins, our nation will roll up its sleeves and begin the arduous task of recovering from a debilitating deficit, an unprecedented rollback of environmental protection, and an ill-conceived war.

Come to think of it, that sounds like a lot of work. So forget that.

If the other candidate wins, the to-do list will be much shorter: Move to Canada.

Regardless of the results, there is no question it will be another victory for the democratic electoral process which, since our nation’s very first presidential election, has always represented the will of the people. Except for the last time.

But no matter. The process works, and once again throughout the land freedom will be ringing. (Or maybe that’s just the sound of seniors counting their change at the pharmacy, seeing if they have enough for the rest of the month.)

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Sojourners Magazine November 2004
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