God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis: We Need Greater Moral Leadership (Audio and Transcript)

posted by jmcgee

Jim WallisFollowing is the text of the radio address I wrote about in yesterday’s blog, which was broadcast this morning.

+ Download audio of the radio address

I’m Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics. I was surprised and grateful when Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid called to say his party wanted to set a new tone and invite, for the first time, a non-partisan religious leader to deliver their weekly radio address and speak about the values that could unite Americans at this critical time.

So, I want to be clear that I am not speaking for the Democratic Party, but as a person of faith who feels the hunger in America for a new vision of our life together, and sees the opportunity to apply our best moral values to the urgent problems we face. I am not an elected official or political partisan, but a religious leader who believes that real solutions must transcend partisan politics. For too long, we have had a politics of blame and fear, while America is eager for a politics of solutions and hope. It is time to find common ground by moving to higher ground.

Because we have lost a commitment to the common good, politics is failing to solve the deepest crises of our time. Real solutions will require our best thinking and dialogue, but also call us to transformation and renewal.

Most Americans know that the important issues we confront have an essential moral character. It is the role of faith communities to remind us of that fact. But religion has no monopoly on morality. We need a new, morally-centered discourse on politics that welcomes each of us to the table.

A government that works for the common good is central. There is a growing desire for integrity in our government across the political spectrum. Corruption in government violates our basic principles. Money and power distort our political decision-making and even our elections. We must restore trust in our government and reclaim the integrity of our democratic system.

At this moment in history, we need new directions.

Who is left out and left behind is always a religious and moral question. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the health of a society was measured by how it cared for its weakest and most vulnerable, and prosperity was to be shared by all. Jesus proclaimed a gospel that was “good news to the poor.”

I am an evangelical Christian, and a commitment to “the least of these” is central to my personal faith and compels my public actions. It is time to lift up practical policies and effective practices that “make work work” for low-income families and challenge the increasing wealth gap between rich and poor. We must find a new moral and political will to overcome poverty that combines personal and social responsibility with a commitment to support strong families.

Answering the call to lift people out of poverty will require spiritual commitment and bipartisan political leadership. Since the election, I have spoken with leaders from both parties about creating a real anti-poverty agenda in Congress. We need a grand alliance between liberals and conservatives to produce new and effective strategies.

This week, President Bush met with Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq, seeking solutions to the rapidly deteriorating situation in that civil-war torn nation. Nearly 3,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died. The cost and consequences of a disastrous war are moral issues our country must address. Leaders in both parties are acknowledging that the only moral and practical course is to dramatically change the direction of U.S. policy, starting with an honest national debate about how to extricate U.S. forces from Iraq with the least possible damage to everyone involved.

Our earth and the fragile atmosphere that surrounds it are God’s good creation. Yet, our environment is in jeopardy as global warming continues unchecked and our air and water are polluted. Good stewardship of our resources is a religious and moral question. Energy conservation and less dependence on fossil fuels are commitments that could change our future— from the renewal of our lifestyles to the moral redemption of our foreign policies.

A culture that promotes healthy families is necessary to raise our children with strong values, and the breakdown of family and community in our society must be addressed. But we need serious solutions, not the scapegoating of others. And wouldn’t coming together to find common ground that dramatically reduces the number of abortions be better than both the left and the right using it as an issue to divide us?

We need a new politics inspired by our deepest held values. We must summon the best in the American people, and unite to solve some of the moral issues of our time. Americans are much less concerned about what is liberal or conservative, what is Democrat or Republican. Rather, we care about what is right and what works.

The path of partisan division is well worn, but the road of compassionate priorities and social justice will lead us to a new America. Building that new America will require greater moral leadership from both Democrats and Republicans, and also from each and every one of us.

I’m Jim Wallis. Thank you and God bless you.



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Tenoch

posted December 2, 2006 at 8:39 pm


Thank you Jim Wallis for maintaining a Jesus-centered perspective, no matter how politically-intolerable it is to do so! In our age of mean-spirited evangelical fundamentalism, a new morally-centered discourse on politics is long overdue. Keep up the good work!>



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Evelyn Warfield

posted December 2, 2006 at 8:57 pm


Your comments were just what we needed to hear. I hope the people in power are listening.>



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Paul

posted December 2, 2006 at 9:17 pm


Tenoch, I find your reference to “mean-spirited evangelical fundamentalism”. From what I have seen, the left’s diatribes against the “conservatives” have far surpassed any stupid retoric I have seen from the right. I laugh when the democrats, and the sojourners crew disparage Bush for being a divider, when everytime he has reached out the them, they, including Jim Wallis, have spit in his face. I agree a moral centered discourse is essential, but it has been conspicuous by it’s absense in the pages of sojourners…>



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Tenoch

posted December 2, 2006 at 10:01 pm


Paul, If defending the well-documented “Smear and Fear” tactics of pro-war/pro-torture evangelicalism is that important to you, then nothing–certainly not Jesus’ teachings–will ever change your mind. But you should know that there are many of us who do not worship at the temple of bitter evangelical partisanship. The old Orwellian monologue of Jesus-Was-Wrong-Evangelicalism is quickly falling out of favor with many of us. Perhaps you’ve read the papers since Nov 7?>



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Dick Vaughan

posted December 2, 2006 at 10:08 pm


I enjoyed your Democratic response. Don’t disagree with what you say however; one thing was missing. The concept of truth in politics. I note where Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi and others campaigned on implementing all of the 9-11 commission recommendations. Yet this week they said we will not implement the recommendation of revising Congress’ over site of intelligence. I guess the moral value of telling the truth just goes by the wayside. Or perhaps it treads on the pork system with in Congress.>



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Paul

posted December 2, 2006 at 10:18 pm


Tenoch, Thanks for proving my point. I was defending none of those things, and your jumping to conclusions as to my position, and subsequently knocking your self constructed straw man, are typical of the polemical style that has brought the “christian left” and sojourners into such disrepute. My point was that you need to practice what you preach, and demonstrate the character you demand from others. So far I have seen little of that here.>



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Alanis Morissette

posted December 2, 2006 at 10:53 pm


Tenoch wrote: “In our age of mean-spirited evangelical fundamentalism….” “But you should know that there are many of us who do not worship at the temple of bitter evangelical partisanship.” Isn’t it ironic.>



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David J

posted December 2, 2006 at 11:33 pm


This is the beginning of a tidal wave. Once it breaks, American politics will be radically changed. Jim Wallis is a true prophet, and the democrats are wise to summon his services. I am very hopeful that evangelicals have turned a corner and will look to for a more complete representation in our government.>



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Kris Weinschenker

posted December 3, 2006 at 12:08 am


It’s a pretty good speech. The snippet I heard quoted on CNN Headline news had the line about “we must find a higher moral ground”, however. I don’t see that here.>



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Linda McMullin

posted December 3, 2006 at 12:41 am


Jim, I think your speech was right on. Now, if only they take to heart what you told them. Thank you for saying what many of us have been longing for. Please, can they focus on working together instead of always, always, talking the party line, which gets us nowhere. I applaud your intentions!>



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timks

posted December 3, 2006 at 12:45 am


I was skeptical about Jim speaking, and still am. But I read the transcript and found it to be less bad than I had feared. What is clear is that, just like those on the Right, Jim has naive confidence in the government’s ability “to fix things”. Such a limited vision will only harm those whom Jim claims to be most worried about. I agree with many of Jim’s stated objectives, but I can’t help but believe that solutions that actually work – as opposed to making us feel good – will be just as rare with Jim’s preferred party in charge as the evil GOP. Thanks for the transcript, Jim, but despite the disclaimer I still think it was an error to let yourself be viewed as a tool of the Democrats.>



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Mike Hayes 2

posted December 3, 2006 at 1:28 am


“…We need a new politics inspired by our deepest held values. We must summon the best in the American people, and unite to solve some of the moral issues of our time. Americans are much less concerned about what is liberal or conservative, what is Democrat or Republican. Rather, we care about what is right and what works…”. Thank you, Jim Wallis!>



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Cameron

posted December 3, 2006 at 2:13 am


I was also skeptical at first about Jim speaking on the Democrats’ weekly radio address, but after reading the transcript, I believe it was the right move to make. I believe that Jim always has and will continue to challenge both the Republicans and the Democrats. “God’s Politics” certainly challenged both sides, as was the case the two times I have heard him speak in person. Sharing his views on this radio program is not going to change that; it just means that more people will actually hear it for a change. I’m thankful that finally a more compassionate, authentic Christian faith is being heard on a larger scale in this country.>



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ginny

posted December 3, 2006 at 2:42 am


The entire text of your response, along with Pres. Bush’s radio address, was reprinted at the Chicago Tribune’s “Swamp” political blog. Although I’m a subscriber to a Sojourners mailing list, I had missed the announcement about your response to the weekly Presidential radio address. Good for you. Right on. Right on, Jim. In my little mini-church, we have been suddenly energized this year over the issue of feeding the hungry this year, after years of stagnation. This is what we feel called to do. Thank you for speaking out so gracefully, Jim. It’s very much appreciated.>



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Kris Weinschenker

posted December 3, 2006 at 5:15 am


Just saw the Jim Wallis interview with John Kasich(sp) on Fox. I was rather taken aback when Kasish said “preachers shouldn’t get involved in politics” (WHY???…because the IRS says so?!?!?!) Other than that, I thought it was a pretty good interview.>



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Will

posted December 3, 2006 at 6:13 am


Amen! Awesome job Jim! I was praying for you. You called us all to common and higher ground. Thank you.>



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Joseph

posted December 3, 2006 at 6:28 am


timks Take off the specialized GOP whiz bang war is the way to peace goggles. Take out the you are a tool of the Democrats earplugs and listen to what the man is saying. His challenges are as applicable and meaningful to the Ds as they are to the Rs. The guy isn’t Martin Luther King, but this is a lot closer to what the church should be saying than most religious voices. Let me ask you timks, do you support a thorough and transparent investigation into the warrantless NSA spying on Americans? Why Not? Dou you support a clear and absolute restriction on all forms of torture as defined by over 200 years of American Law, the Geneva accords we signed and the UN conventions on Torture we also signed and implemented in the Military Code of Justice? If not, why not? Do you support ethical reforms that will disallow bribery through campaign contributions, trips etc. If not , why not? I despise, and I am willing to bet that most folks on this site despise the program of extraordinary rendition given its current name and form under Clinton. I also disagree with the GAT (Global Agreement on Trade) partly created by and agreed to under Clinton. The criticisms I hear from you , Kevin S and Wolverine are not constructive, brotherly, respectful, probing, well argued, honest hearted thoughts. What I hear sounds more like the one-sided junk one might read at little Green Footballs. Are you interested in a conversation or a childish exchange of insults.I notice that more and more of the posters here are simply ignoring you. This is not because you disagree, but because you offer no evidence of an interest in respectful conversation. Might you not spend your time more meaningfully among those with whom you share more common ground? If not, by all means , continue to read what you so strongly profess to disagree with.>



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kevin s.

posted December 3, 2006 at 7:15 am


“Take off the specialized GOP whiz bang war is the way to peace goggles.” Virtually everyone acknowledges that some war is necessary in order to maintain peace. It’s hardly a GOP invention. “Take out the you are a tool of the Democrats earplugs and listen to what the man is saying.” Again, nobody said he is the tool of the Democrats. We said he is a Democrat. “His challenges are as applicable and meaningful to the Ds as they are to the Rs” Has anyone voiced opposition to the contents of the message. It’s pretty generic, happy stuff. I was reminded of when John Edwards said he believed in a world where men would not be judged by the color of their skin, as though he were in the minority in that opinion in 2004. “The criticisms I hear from you , Kevin S and Wolverine are not constructive, ” Depends on how you define constructive. As in, positive? No, we fervently disagree. Are we required to agree? “brotherly” Is political debate not brotherly? If not, then how are Jim Wallis’ comments brotherly? Does brotherly mean “in such a vain so as to agree with Joseph?” By that definition, then no. “respectful,” I think we’ve been far more respectful than most of the people we argue with. I get people coming to my blog, posting anonymous, vulgar and/or condescending comments. There are those who have engaged our viewpoint, but there are quite a few who have not. “probing,” How are they not probing? What could they do to be more probing? I very often see a poster here spout off a talking point like “Jesus cared about the poor.” If we weren’t probing, we’d say “whatever, idiot liberal.” Rather, we try to engage the argument behind the argument. How is that not probing? “well argued” Well, I can’t speak for myself, but I think Tim and Wolverine demonstrate an excellent command of the tenets of logic, as well as a considerable knowledge of the issues. “honest hearted” Please give me an example of a dishonest hearted argument. “Are you interested in a conversation or a childish exchange of insults.” Given the tenor of this post, I think this is a question that might be better asked of you, but I would greatly enjoy a conversation. Not sure how being called a dishonest-hearted supporter of pro-torture evangelism and a member of the Sanhedrin qualify, but okay. “I notice that more and more of the posters here are simply ignoring you.” I haven’t really noticed that. Most of my comments generate some sort of response. Sometimes it is even civil. “Might you not spend your time more meaningfully among those with whom you share more common ground?” Why? I already know what they think. “If not, by all means , continue to read what you so strongly profess to disagree with.” I would actually suggest that you and others here take some time TO read some of that with which you disagree. With that said, why would disagreement bother you? If you want to read thread after thread of people screeching at each other about how awful conservatives are, there are any number of liberal blogs where dissent is forbidden. Why do you willingly expose yourself to that with which you disagree?>



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Spence Culpepper

posted December 3, 2006 at 7:37 am


Jim- You are nothing more than a wolf in sheeps clothing. Your message is nothing like those of the new testament. They preached Christ and Him crucified. They preached that people everywhere need to repent and turn to Jesus Christ, the only true God (John 17:3). You preach a worldy wisdom that is not of the Holy Spirit. This world needs Christ and through Him and only Him can there ever be true reconciliation in this world and the one to come. Forgive Him Father for he knows not what he is doing. He has been blinded by Satan himself and is now doing his will instead of yours. Have mercy on his soul.>



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timks

posted December 3, 2006 at 8:31 am


Joseph, you seem to have some serious issues not the least of which is reading comprehension. I did not mention the war, torture or GATT. I did not accuse Jim of being a tool of the Democrats. I said I agreed with many of Jim’s stated objectives. I was more respectful of Jim than you were of me or kevin or Wolverine, because I believe the Scripture “Iron sharpens iron.” If people are ignoring me, I like to think that it is because of the brilliance of my prose, the irresistible logic of my arguments and the forcefulness of my ideas. OR, it might be because I haven’t posted anything here for about a week. I hope your note doesn’t mean you will be cancelling your membership in my fan club. Love and peace to you.>



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Joseph

posted December 3, 2006 at 12:21 pm


timks I apologize for my sloppy reading of the last sentence in your post. My questions about your thoughts on the the warrantless spying etc. were not an accusation that you support these things but a question about whether you believe all branches of government and all leaders and parties should be accountable within our representative system.You seem to view the issues Jim addresses through intensely partisan lenses as though his real concerns were not the moral and spiritual issues he speaks to but the promotion of the Democratic Party. I was pointing out that many of these issues cross party lines. That Christian ethical standards can only be an instrument of justice if they apply equally to all parties. I was careless in addressing my rant about insulting language to you and I apologize again. Your answer was witty, funny and effective. As far as Wolverine and Kevin, I don’t know what to say. I am still skeptical in the manner I expressed myself in the post to Timks. I am honestly interested in how you feel about the questions I addressed to you? I am not presuming anything about your stance on these things. I am asking what you think. These are very real issues affecting thousands of lives, and the fundamentals of the constitution. I am also interested in dialogue with those of opposing thoughts but within reasonably civil boundaries. When you say someone who speaks of Jesus concern for the poor is “spouting” it is hard to characterize the language as anything but insulting. as far as arguments behind arguments, how about starting with the arguments or questioning in such a way to discover if there is a disguised argument. I did not presume anyone’s support for torture or label anyone as such, so I have a hard time when you say “Not sure how being called a dishonest-hearted supporter of pro-torture evangelism and a member of the Sanhedrin qualify, but okay.” Maybe you honestly misread me as I did Tim on the “tool of the Democrats” statement. But on other threads I have found your characterization of statements to be dishonest. The tendency is to distort or rephrase what people say and mock the straw argument you have constructed. You frequently ask others to answer you. What would be so hard about addressing some of these ethical issues currently addressed to the Bush administration.?>



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Michael Kotyk

posted December 3, 2006 at 5:48 pm


I have to agree with several of the posts above. It is thoroughly refreshing to hear someone without an ultra conservative point of view and who does so in such a ‘from the center’ point of view. Great job and radio address>



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Mike Hayes 2

posted December 3, 2006 at 5:52 pm


Joseph, I think you meant that war in Iraq was not the way to peace, and I think you were correct. I think you were frustrated by the responses from some of the participants on this blog who do not support “‘God’s Politics’ values”. I think it is more frustrating to see how relatively unorganized those of us are who support “‘God’s Politics’ values”. Maybe that underlies your frustration, as well. I think that supporters of “‘God’s Politics’ values” do not have a way of coordinating our contacts with candidates and elected officials that is as well organized as is the approach used by the religious right, for example, James Dobsen through the “CitizenLink” component of “Focus on the Family”. I think the opportunity to present our views on this blog and watch the responses by those who do not support “‘God’s Politics’ values” is helpful. I also believe, however, that the resources being placed on this blog (by Sojourners and persons like you and me) could be better spent though creating an opportunity for persons like you and me to interact among ourselves and to coordinate our contacts with candidates and elected officials of both major parties. It would be better to also provide the blog, but I think higher priority should be placed on coordinating contacts by supporters of the movement if resources are inadequate for both. More should be happening to balance the impression that is being presented by the religious right to candidates and elected officials that a few narrow issues contain the values of us all. That was the impetus for “God’s Politics”. That was the origin of the “change the wind” movement. In my view, the book and the book tour and other efforts by Sojourners were intended to balance the influence of the religious right on candidates and elected officials. That ought to have top priority. In my view.>



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Mike Hayes 2

posted December 3, 2006 at 6:02 pm


The “Focus on the Family” website http://www.family.org/ has been revised. There still is a link to the non-tax exempt (endosement of candidates is therefore allowed) “CitizenLink” component, but that is unreachable, presently, for some reason. Perhaps it is also being revised.>



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Wolverine

posted December 3, 2006 at 6:03 pm


Joseph, I’ll admit I can get snarky from time to time. I won’t pretend never to have hurled an insult. But on most posts I at least try to engage with facts and reason. If anything, Tim and Kevin have been better than me at keeping on point, at least as the discussion of Wallis’ radio address went. At any rate, I’m here because I want to understand how the Christian left views things, and make the case for the conservative worldview. I do this because my sense of things is that most of the folks at Sojourners are well-intentioned people with a poor understanding of how conservatives really think. If some of the other posters here choose to ignore me, hey, that’s their prerogative. There are liberal posters here that I ignore too. One thing that you learn very quickly in public policy is that this matters to people; “Politics ain’t beanbag” as Mark Shields likes to say. It’s a rough-and-tumble business because we are arguing over peoples livelihoods and rights, and sometimes even on matters of life and death. People on both sides care deeply and can get passionate, and that’s how it should be. Wolverine>



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kevin s.

posted December 3, 2006 at 7:46 pm


Joseph, I was referring to the tenor of the discussion here, not to your comments alone. And yes, conservative Christians have been accused of precisely what I describe, in precisely those words, on this board. “I am honestly interested in how you feel about the questions I addressed to you? I am not presuming anything about your stance on these things. I am asking what you think.” Are you referring now to your questions for Timks? Responses below. Let me ask you timks, do you support a thorough and transparent investigation into the warrantless NSA spying on Americans? I have no problem with accountability for the program, though not through the pages of the New York Times. From a security perspective, I think the ability of government to monitor calls placed to suspected terrorists is vital, and that the system in place is necessary to ensure that this is done quickly and effectively. From a Constitutional perspective, the most prominent ruling against it is recognized as a complete and utter mess. Dou you support a clear and absolute restriction on all forms of torture? Yes, and so does this administration. The sticky wicket is, and continues to be, what is torture. What actions are we presently taking that constitute illegal torture? Maybe we can start from there. Keep in mind the Abu Ghraib type incidents are already illegal and are being prosecuted. Do you support ethical reforms that will disallow bribery through campaign contributions, trips etc. If not , why not? I am for strong reforms in this area, and I think Republicans missed a golden opportunity to enact them. Now, Democrats will make very modest reforms that allow everything you describe above to continue, but take credit for being reformers. But yes, I think the Republicans missed the boat on that one, as I have said before.>



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timks

posted December 3, 2006 at 8:31 pm


Joseph said, “I apologize for my sloppy reading of the last sentence in your post.” Apology accepted. “My questions about your thoughts on the the warrantless spying etc. were not an accusation that you support these things but a question about whether you believe all branches of government and all leaders and parties should be accountable within our representative system.” I believe fervently in our system of checks and balances between the three branches of government, within their respective Constitutional limits. I believe many of our current political problems have occurred when the branches have overstepped those boundaries. For example, the recent ridiculous decision by the judge saying that Congress must provide blind-friendly money; or Congress passing national minimum wage laws; or Executive Orders that try to accomplish things that only Congress should be doing. “You seem to view the issues Jim addresses through intensely partisan lenses as though his real concerns were not the moral and spiritual issues he speaks to but the promotion of the Democratic Party.” I can be intense about many things, but partisan politics is not one of them. I have made clear in many of my postings that I have little use for either one of our current political parties. I consider them both feckless and deeply unserious. I agree with you that the issues Jim addresses transcend party. However, you can’t be serious that Jim is not promoting the Democratic Party. He was just asked to provide the Democratic rebuttal to President Bush’s weekly address! Also, many of Jim’s preferred solutions to the issues (both real and imagined) of the day nearly always seem to be in the Democratic platform. Kevin has been particularly good at pointing this out. “I was pointing out that many of these issues cross party lines. That Christian ethical standards can only be an instrument of justice if they apply equally to all parties.” I agree. “I was careless in addressing my rant about insulting language to you and I apologize again.” Again, I accept your apology. “Your answer was witty, funny and effective.” Stop, now. You’re making me blush.>



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Chuck Albrecht

posted December 3, 2006 at 11:57 pm


great job Jim!>



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PJ

posted December 4, 2006 at 2:47 am


I believe very few serious policy positions (other than specific interests seeking special, selfish favors) are advanced in Washington DC that cannot be considered within the mainstream of public discourse in our society. I believe the profound failure has been the management of the public discourse and decision-making. And that is a failure of the politicians who conduct the process and the media that facilitates the public discourse. These two ‘entities’ have placed their selfish, internal interests over the well-being of citizens, nations, environment, etc. Most of the endless conversation about a divided society, culture clash, ‘religious right rules,’ religious right declines,’ values voters is an interesting diversion. Choose an issue: Iraq, abortion, healthcare, definition of marriage,…. I believe most often we could take most any five citizens with strong opposing views and an understanding of the issue, lock them in a room for 3 hours–and they could walk out with enough area of mutual interest to create substancial policy decisions immediately. I do not believe the problem is the middle has not had a voice. Or the moral middle has been silent. The problem is not that the ‘moral majority’ rose an ugly head and somehow dominated American political life; and now a more sensitized, broader-minded, morally based middle is raising its voice. I am not denying there have been very dynamic, powerful, interesting forces at play in the nation’s political life. I just believe we have the political structures and media capacity to conduct the public’s business on any matter. It is simply the basic failure of less than 600 elected officials and a handful of media enterprises to conduct the nations’s business. And I believe this is the basic common ground that is overwhelmingly present–a simple expectation that Washington do its job. Presidet Bush, by himself, or a dozen congresspersons, by themselves, could call in three media powers tomorrow morning and say–’We are laying all selfish interests aside and in the next 60 days will conduct a political and national decision-making process to create the best possible outcomes in Iraq.’– and accomplish it. Could do the same thing on energy policy, poverty, crowded prisons. They could. They don’t. My weekly radio address would be 5 seconds every week until the jobs are done: “You could govern. You are not. We expect you to do it.” 99.5% of the citizenry and 99.6% of illegal immigrants would agree. Most of the other good points, moral points, insightful comments, are diversions.>



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R. Hamric

posted December 4, 2006 at 3:07 am


I am still puzzled that Mr. Wallis can align himself with a political party whose major political planks include abortion on demand, homosexual conduct and gay marriage. Although he might justifiably say he does not agree with these tenants of the Democratic Party he is aiding and abetting those position by supporting their political constructs. “Real solutions will require our best thinking and dialogue, but also call us to transformation and renewal.” That statement smacks of one thing and one thing only…compromise of the truth of God’s Holy Word. Perhaps Mr.Wallis can take that position for himself, but he hardley speaks for America’s Bible believing Christians. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,rebuking,correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy 2:16.>



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s holmgren

posted December 4, 2006 at 3:43 am


I see no merit in the accusation that some of Jim Wallis’ ideas are similar to those of the Democratic platform and thus he is speaking for the Democrats. So what! Sometimes I find myself in line with the dreaded Republicans. Believe me, that does not and never will make me a Republican! I just happen to think the same way on some issues, period! Like many others, I am sick of reading the trading of insulting barbs that seems to replace thoughtful discussion, so I try to skip over those posts, which do seem to come mainly from the right. It’s like you guys are fighting for a trophy to the one who totally kills the discussion with the deadliest venom. Someone a few posts back lamented the lack of cohesion on the left. There is a fundamental reason for that. There is more tolerance on the left for divergent opinions, while there is very little wiggle room on the right. So the right, at least the most devout rightists, will always seem more coherent, cohesive. It is a requirement of the club.In addition, to those on the right, everyone who is not far right is a lefty, so that includes a lot of people in the middle who profess beliefs from both sides.>



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kevin s.

posted December 4, 2006 at 4:00 am


“Someone a few posts back lamented the lack of cohesion on the left. There is a fundamental reason for that. There is more tolerance on the left for divergent opinions, while there is very little wiggle room on the right” Really? Do you know who si leading the polls among Republican presidential nominees? Its Giuliani, who favors civil unions, and is pro-choice. Could you imagine a democratic front-runner who oppses legal abortion? Not going to happen. That said, I don’t think anyone has made the case that liberals lack cohesion. I’m not sure where you are getting that. As t your comment that most of the barbs are coming from the conservatives, I suspect that, when you see something with which you fervently disagree, you consider it a barb. Therefore, when someone compares the religious right to the Sanhedrin, you consider that context. When someone says (correctly) that this is completely ridiculous, you count it as a barb. In general, if people are cussing at each other, or a conversation has gotten very vulgar, I see where there is a point in commenting on the tenor of conversation. Otherwise, there is an awful lot of tsk-tsking people with whom we disagree regarding etiquette. That seems silly to me, and it is usually pretty self-serving.>



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PJ

posted December 4, 2006 at 4:16 am


I consider J Wallis’ comments worthy of consideration and debate. Mr. Hamric, (2 comments above), would you find it valuable for Bible-beliveing Christians to apply their best thinking and dialogue, in submission to God’s word, to issues of public policy (e.g. immigration policy)? Maybe I missed something, but didn’t J Wallis indicate he is not aligned with the Democratic party? Do you have reason to not accept his statement?>



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Andrew

posted December 4, 2006 at 4:35 am


Mr. Wallis does an excellent of framing the true issue in American and global politics. I personally had the distinct privilege to hear Alasdair MacIntyre speak on “Islam, Modernity, and Us” and how the Islamic world, in it’s coping with the modern world, really serves more as a mirror image of the American conflict of faith struggling to find it’s place in a secular, modern society. Both MacIntyre and Wallis correctly use the term “common good” to consolidate the real goal or ideal of Christians, Muslims, Americans, Arabs, Conservatives and Liberals alike. The American government openly accepts the modernist mentality which allows for the ease of accepting money into the American governmental system which has led only to a lack of integrity which Americans appear to be fed up with. Interestingly enough, this same corrupt favoring of money and technology especially (the fruits of a modern world) enpowers rejectionist Islam which strives only the control and intellectually distort people of all cultures and faith from seeing the truest, highest goal-the common good. Someday people may finally be free of prejudice and adopt the view of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s “Little Prince” of how “anything essential is invisible to the eye” and these immaterial substances constitute the essence of the common good. Well done, Mr. Wallis-a truly content American and even global society will reflect a concern for the common good of all.>



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timks

posted December 4, 2006 at 4:40 am


s holmgren said, “I see no merit in the accusation that some of Jim Wallis’ ideas are similar to those of the Democratic platform and thus he is speaking for the Democrats. So what!” Doesn’t it sort of take the shine off his claim that he represents ‘God’s Politics’ which he says is non-partisan? Doesn’t it also take the sting out of his major criticism of the Religious Right which he says is too aligned with the GOP? I believe it does, particularly since neither party is exactly stellar in the ethics and justice departments. “There is more tolerance on the left for divergent opinions, while there is very little wiggle room on the right.” Just let a member of Sojourners suggest that a federal minimum wage is a bad idea, that free trade is a proven way to lift poor countries out of poverty or that government provided healthcare would be a disaster and see how tolerant the leftists here would be. If I may, you seem to be one of those well-intentioned folks Wolverine mentioned above that has a poor understanding of what conservatives really think. I believe I have a fairly good idea what conservatives really think because I used to be one and I’m married to one. You’re dead wrong regarding how much tolerance they have for divergent opinions. I am assuming you are tolerant enough to read this. :)>



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Gwyn

posted December 4, 2006 at 12:06 pm


Good on you, Jim!>



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Ana Leite

posted December 4, 2006 at 12:23 pm


Dear People and Jim, I feel that some of Jim’ statements are worth thought as they sound like bells on Sunday morning… Having read through many of the comments, it is interesting that, at least, Jim?s words served the purpose of making people exchange views, enter dialogue (friendly on not)about issues that touch everyone on this earth – a higher moral ground is expected from the policies of the USA, as they are currently the most powerful nation in the world. However, to make either side – Democrats or Republicans – take action on the basis of higher moral grounds (preventive war, torture so that you get truth … such behaviour is as barbarouis as those being criticized by both parties). Why the choice is between Ds and Rs and nobody else? Isn t it that money and material interest govern the nations? Why feed the poor if nothing else is changing? The poor are convenient tools to any power who wants to dominate. Jesus preached the Word to everyone who could hear – telling the truth got him crucified as many powerful people were afraid of the poor becoming a powerful directred force. We, as Christians should concentrate more on His words than on His death…and celebrate His Life rather than His death, so we can act according to His teachings and NOT those imposed on us by interpreters of the Word. Read carefully, act wisely, but run for shelter when the voice of preachers sounds like those of politicians who have installed among nations the reign of fear in order to better dominate the sheep people. One poet said that truth did not come in beautiful adornments or rich clothes – no it comes in strong colours and shadows. Silence is necessary to be able to hear the music – but that is not the silence of conspiracy or fear. Ana (from behind the mirror).>



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Anonymous

posted December 4, 2006 at 1:26 pm


On torture and the Bush administration. Before the Abu Ghraibh photos were published WH lawyers drafted legal opinions defining torture as anything short of maajor organ failure or death.This is how they appear to wish to define torture. Since then disclosed Navy medical and interrogation documents ,internal military witnesses, prisoner interviews, medical reports, investigations by the IRC, Amnesty and HRW have revealed extensive use of beatings, sleep deprivation,exposure to vicious dogs, waterboarding, exposure to cold, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, ear damage through exposure to loud music, removal and denial of clothing, being made to stand or hold uncomfortable positions for long periods of time, mock executions. All of these involve violence or the threat of violence. And several can be prolonged to the point of extreme pain and physical collapse without showing obvious physical evidence like scars or bruises. All are clearly defined as torture by Geneva Standards , UN Law, and American law .Worse things are possible under extraordinaary rendition, where, for example Canadian Citizen Maher Arar was detained whike passing through JFK on his way home and sent to Jordan and tortured,then to Syria and imprisoned and tortured for more than a year. He has since been thoroughly investigated and cleared of any wrongdoing by the Canadian Government. Rumsfeld and the Military leaders effectively blocked any investigation up the chain of command. The unconstitutional military commisions act recently signed prevents accountability for these acts . This is a huge topic and really includes detention without legal process and the human rights community is unified in saying that far more needs to be done to stop and prevent further prisoner abuse. How would you define torture? I don’t see how we should allow anything we wouldn’t want done to American prisoners of War. Warrantless Spying There is a long history of abuses by the FBI and CIA much of it along political lines. Despite a well documented history of Supreme Court rulings requiring warrants,right now there is no accountability for the NSA program to Congress or the courts. Both of which should have constitutional oversight. The NYT investigations this far reveal extensive data mining and that wiretaps etc are not restricted to suspected terrorists. At any rate I am not willing to take the govts word for this anymore than you would be willing to take a “liberal”s word for it.The program as it stands is an unaccountable Big Brother and every liberal and conservative should oppose it or work to change the Bill Of Rights. Can you understand where I’m coming from here. For me,this is not a partisan issue. I opposed the Viet Nam war under Johnson and under Nixon, and I feel the same way about these issues. We seem to have a lot of agreement about reform as regards lobbying, campaign contributions etc. I would have to say that the Republicans did more than miss a golden opportunity here. Several of them got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Some Dems too. We need reform. One tool for people to check out their reps is on a site called The Center For Public Integrity. These are investigative journalists focused on political and media reform. They have charts which document where Cogressfolk, both D’s and R’s, are getting their money.>



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Anonymous

posted December 4, 2006 at 1:38 pm


The last post was not intended to be anonymous Joseph T>



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Tenoch

posted December 4, 2006 at 3:28 pm


Joseph T, The gospel of Torture & War is politically appealing to the present-day followers of the Power of the Roman Senate. For those of us who are not baptized in the name of Ceasar, the matter is a clear violation of Jesus’ profound gospel. Shameless evangelical defenses of War & Torture are of course well-documented, and they have made it clear that they serve another messiah.>



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PJ

posted December 4, 2006 at 3:38 pm


Thank you Jim, and others, for attention to the ‘Common Good.’ Joseph (last post), when you reference issues as not partisan to you–are there issues that are partisan to you? My hunch is when persons operate from a moral base, we do not view our positions as partisan (whether or not they line up with a position taken by a political party). And this is good. And this is why we should reflect on J Wallis’ commentary and not debate how ‘Democratic’ or ‘Republican’ it is. An issue, policy, position or strategy becomes partisan when the purpose of the actor(s) advancing the matter has placed their own comfort, power, and interests in a more important position than the public good. One of the key involvements religious leaders should have in the public process is precisely what Jim did; and that is to elevate the public conversation above the selfish interests of politicl actors. To advance the Common Good. Some posts reflect an understandable fear for the ability of moral persons (e.g. devout followers of Jesus) to engage processes that seem to entail so much compromise, so much selfish power, so much money, and managing a government that has purposes other than the Kingdom of God. Again, an attention to the “Common Good” is more than seeking the “Common Interest”. The Common Good, seem to me, involves that which is shared and moral. Interest in the Common Good helps me understand why I supported Paul Wellstore and Alan Quist (i.e. Minnesota politicians on the opposite ends of political spectrum). They both came from a clear moral base. Strongly committed persons sometimes seem very stubborn–but their principles allow them to be engaged on the basis of the principles. Religious leaders elevating the conversation also serves to remove Washington politics from forever trying to occupy the central place in the universe. The job of Washington is soley to administer a Federal Government on behalf of the People, truthfully and justly. The government is neither foundational to civilization nor the center of society. We the citizens, and we voices of Faith, can do as Jim has been doing: elevate the conversation for the Common Good. Sometimes he sounds very partisan to me–but that could be my partisan ears. Further he has to breathe the air in DC and is very politically engaged. Please allow him to be a citizen and partisan at times; and let us provide each other some of the same grace. It is OK (and good) to see leaders who are able to simultaneously elevate public life to the level of the ‘common good’ and to engage real politicians on real issues. And, I affirm many of Joseph’s sentiments on torture/spying and a failure of government to justly manage these issues; and congressional failure. From my post further above, my words for Washington: “You could govern. You are not. We expect you to do it.” That, I believe, is the most strongly shared public sentiment. I believe we are fooled by journalists, pundits and politicians who would have us believe the problem is a deeply divided nation over matters that are just so very complex no one can figure them out. Is it at all possible it might be more like, “Yea, there are dirty dishes at the sink, but I don’t feel like washing.” There is common ground: Washington DC is not the center of the universe. You are just a government. Strap up your boots and fulfill your job. The path to power is servanthood that wisely stewards what is presently on your plate to do.>



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kevin s.

posted December 4, 2006 at 6:02 pm


“Before the Abu Ghraibh photos were published WH lawyers drafted legal opinions defining torture as anything short of maajor organ failure or death.This is how they appear to wish to define torture. ” I believe you mean they defined torture as an act contributing to major organ failure or death. Do you know which lawyers submitted opinions? Regardless, the justice department’s recommendations defined torture in accordance with the United Nations convention against torture, which prohibits acts which results in severe pain or suffering. While the definition of the word severe is clearly debatable, it certainly has connotations that imply more that just evoking stress or discomfort. “IRC, Amnesty and HRW have revealed extensive use of beatings, sleep deprivation,exposure to vicious dogs, waterboarding, exposure to cold, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, ear damage through exposure to loud music, removal and denial of clothing,” It should be noted that the organizations you cite have a pretty clear agenda. Further, you’ll have to show me compelling evidence that beatings are part of the day-to-day routine. However, let’s take the most credible of the three, which recounts the use of dogs and stress positions among the worst of violations. The conclusion based on the use of these tactics was the Guantanamo is the Gulag of our time, and that the U.S. should be tried for war crimes. Whether or not you consider the use of dogs (as a scare tactic, not to devour detainees) or stressful positions to be severe, you must concede that this is hyperbole that calls into question the motives of the organization. By all accounts, Guantanamo is a clean facility, where detainees are offered plenty to eat and drink, and where we go out of our way to respect religious customs. That scare tactics et al.. are used in the interrogation process, I still do not see compelling evidence oppose the use of the facility simply on moral grounds. That doesn’t mean that I support torture, but neither do I support 9/11 type attacks, which is what the interrogations are intended to prevent. The Maher Arar case is complicated, and it appears problematic on many levels. That said, it’s very notoriety seems to point to the fact that Arar’s case is an outlier. “At any rate I am not willing to take the govts word for this anymore than you would be willing to take a “liberal”s word for it.The program as it stands is an unaccountable Big Brother and every liberal and conservative should oppose it or work to change the Bill Of Rights. ” Perhaps it should be changed. Perhaps we need clearer constitutional language on the issue, but that can’t happen when judges are offering clearly partisan decisions on this. If you are suggesting a bill of rights, are you suggesting that we eliminate any special authority of the president in wartime? I don’t see how this is beneficial to either freedom or security.>



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kevin s.

posted December 4, 2006 at 6:08 pm


“For those of us who are not baptized in the name of Ceasar, the matter is a clear violation of Jesus’ profound gospel. ” I’d disregard this, but Wallis, McLaren, and the other members of the religious left (er, non-partisan Christians) have made this very same point. So let me turn it around. In Europe, the right to speech and religious expression have been greatly limited in recent years, as government takes more and more control in an attempt to keep the peace in the face of radical Islam. Here, our phones are tapped if we call suspected terrorists in Iran. We can all see where this grants an undesirable amount of power to government. There, you may not criticize Mohammed. It is pretty clear to see where this would have an effect on religious respect. This is a pretty egregious violation of free speech as it is, so imagine where the slippery slope leads. If those are two proposed solutions to the same problem, than I advocate the former, in the name of smaller government.>



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Wolverine

posted December 4, 2006 at 9:10 pm


S Holmgren wrote: I see no merit in the accusation that some of Jim Wallis’ ideas are similar to those of the Democratic platform and thus he is speaking for the Democrats. There’s more to it than that, a lot more. First, this radio address was made at the behest of Democratic leadership, in a time and place that are typically understood as making it a “Democratic response”. Now Jim himself went relatively light on the partisan rhetoric, which meant that the damage to his reputation as “nonpartisan” was minimal, but lets not pretend that he didn’t strengthen his ties to the Democratic party by taking on this gig. You understate things greatly when you say that Jim’s ideas are “similar” to those of the Democratic party. The ideas that are promoted at Sojourners are almost indistinguishable from those of mainstream Democratic party leaders. Even to the extent of mimicking the Democrats blind spots: the Democrats cannot unite around an exit strategy for Iraq, Sojourners cannot even discuss the options. Even on the life issues, where Jim Wallis claims to be pro-life, I cannot see any practical difference between Wallis’ position and that of the pro-choice base of the Democratic Party. I cannot recall a situation where Jim Wallis or anyone else at Sojourners has criticized a Democrat with anywhere near the severity that they have criticized members of the GOP. If you read the National Review you will find they are quite willing to take Republicans, including the President himself, to task based on their prinicples. That’s what it means to be non-partisan: you advance a worldview, not a party. Maybe I missed it, but I can’t recall seeing that commitment to worldview over party at Sojourners. Wolverine>



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jessie

posted December 4, 2006 at 11:47 pm


I predict Wallis will speak at the DNC ’08 convention. I also predict that the Democrats will use him more and more in their attempts to siphon off evangelical voters, though Wallis himself is not an evangelical. Lastly, I predict that Wallis will gladly go along with all of their partisan efforts. He will be enticed by the status and fame that are presented to him and will eventually make little effort to deny the blatant partisanship of his politics. The policies he supports and his rhetoric are already no different than that of Jesse Jackson. Expect them to be using him more often. I hope I am wrong with these predictions.>



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Butch

posted December 5, 2006 at 12:25 am


I’m convinced that to read and be used by Kevin and others to divide us is a waste of time. Kevin’s words are so clever that I was fooled earlier into believing that he has anything more than political interest in Sojourners work. Someone mentioned ignoring them, I’ve started to look at the poster before I read the post. So, if there is someone pitching softballs to Kevin to hit will not work if one doesn’t read Kevin.>



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timks

posted December 5, 2006 at 1:14 am


Butch – I don’t know if you’re referring to me as one of Kevin’s “others” who is striving to divide you or not (whoever “us” are), but do you really think it is a good idea to refuse to address arguments that may cause you to think about issues in a new light? What will you do if someone other than Clever Kevin writes something that upsets you and you read it accidentally? I would hate for you to stop reading here. I am only speaking for myself, but I really do want Sojourners to suceed in their mission, as long as that mission remains the furtherance of the Gospel. Do you believe that is Sojourner’s mission (I do), or do you believe it is to make sure no one hears or reads anything one may not agree with? The criticism I offered of Jim’s moment in the sun as the Democrat’s spokesperson was offered with the best of intentions and I stated my reasons as clearly and honestly as I could, in a respectful fashion. Kevin is fully capable of defending himself, but it seems to me that most of the softballs he hits are pitched from Sojourner’s own bullpen.>



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Butch

posted December 5, 2006 at 1:37 am


One time timk you get no more. As long as children go to school hungry and come home to inadequate health care. As long as many of the elderly are choosing between food and medicine they need. As long as the mentally ill live on the street out of grocery carts. I covered the main 3 bases that I think answer the question of budgets being moral documents. The little gamesmanship things in find in your and Kevin’s post make my butt tired.>



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kevin s.

posted December 5, 2006 at 4:00 am


Timks, I don’t think you have been around long enough to know this, but Butch thinks that I am paid to blog here. I should be so lucky.>



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timks

posted December 5, 2006 at 4:28 am


Butch – I don’t know what you’re talking about. Kevin – Ah, I see. Does Butch think he should be paid, and not you?>



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Anonymous

posted December 5, 2006 at 6:54 am


Kevin You said “By all accounts, Guantanamo is a clean facility, where detainees are offered plenty to eat and drink, and where we go out of our way to respect religious customs.” I think what you mean to say here is more like this: according to Fox News and Don Rumfseld and the commanding Generals , Guantanmo is a clean… because according to every human rights org.,the UN, and European Union It is violating the pertaining laws and should be closed.Virtually all of the released prisoners allege abuse, Marin Sgt.Heather Cerveny, who went to the base recently as a legal aide to a military lawyer, said five navy guards described in detail how they beat up detainees.A former Army linguist who served at Guantanamo as an Arabic translator from December 2002 to June 2003 wrote in a draft manuscript that female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees by sexual touching, wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear and in one case smearing a Saudi man’s face with fake menstrual blood. The draft written by former Army Sgt. Erik R. Saar was obtained by AP.Joe Navarro, a former FBI interrogator who has taught questioning methods and is familiar with Guantanamo, said treating prisoners poorly makes them more stubborn and unwilling to talk. “The military has been cavalier in their attitudes toward these individuals to the point that it has been detrimental to the overall mission,” Navarro told AP. FBI agents observed U.S. soldiers mistreating terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as early as 2002, but the Pentagon has done little to investigate, a letter from a senior agency counter-terrorism official said. Agents visiting the U.S. naval base prison said they saw military and civilian interrogators using “highly aggressive” techniques to exact information from detainees captured on battlefields in Afghanistan. In one incident, a soldier reportedly bent a prisoner’s thumbs back and “grabbed his genitals.” In another, an FBI agent saw a detainee “gagged with duct tape” for refusing to stop chanting from the Koran. In a third episode, a prisoner allegedly was threatened with a dog and the man was placed for three months in “intense isolation,” causing him to experience “extreme psychological trauma.” All three reported incidents were described in a letter this summer from Thomas Harrington, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s counter-terrorism division, to Maj. Gen. Donald J. Ryder, head of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. Harrington said that the FBI had detailed its concerns with Pentagon officials after its agents witnessed the questionable treatment. Harrington also told Ryder in the July 14 letter that an FBI agent reported one interrogator had treated detainees so harshly that they often ended up “curling into a fetal position on the floor and crying in pain.” In the letter, first reported by Associated Press and obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Harrington expressed frustration that the military did not appear to be taking the FBI’s allegations seriously. ALL OF THESE REPORTS AND MORE ARE ONLY WHAT HAS ESCAPED THE HIGHLY SECRETIVE ENVIRONMENT AT GUANTANOMO. THE ABUSES REPORTED IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ ARE FAR MORE HORRIFIC BECAUSE MANY SOLDIERS AND MEDICAL PERSONEL HAVE HAD THEIR STOMACHS TURNED BY WHAT THEY HAVE SEEN AND DONE, AND HAVE TESTIFIED AS TO WHAT THEY HAVE WITNESSED. Would you like a much longer list including many deaths, the “pulpifying” of a prisoners legs, strangulation, genital mutilation, burns, anal rape etc? Much of this is documented in military medical records. Kevin, I think you are turning a blind eye to the reality of the methods that started with Cheney and Rumsfeld’s insistence on the use of what Cheney called the “Dark Arts”, proceeded to the A. Gonzales approved legal redefinition of acceptable treatment for prisoners and has ended with a whole lot of outright, full scale torture. All of the methods I have mentioned, inluding ones you seem to think are minor have been condemned as unacceptable by the US when practiced by other countries. The major human rights organizations do not play favorites , some have even been accused in the past of being soft on the U.S. They do not play down abuses in leftist, liberal, or communist countries. they do everything they can to report only credible abuses. If you are going to allege an “agenda”. Their agenda is to stop cruelty and to free and comfort prisoners of conscience and those who suffer abuse, and to bring light into the darkness. Whether this is a Republican agenda I don’t know. It should be, and it surely is Jesus’ agenda.>



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djtyg

posted December 5, 2006 at 7:00 am


All I’ve been seeing on this blog about those who criticize Wallis is that he couldn’t possibly be a true Christian if he’s speaking for all those “God-hating baby killing gay lovers!” The Republicans have their own sins. They’ve allowed torture to be legalized, opposed programs and policies that would get the poor out of poverty, and allowed corporations to exploit war for profit. They’ve allowed tax breaks for the rich and took away the Earned Income Tax Credit for millions of poor people. I won’t even get into pre-emptive war. And the leaders of the religious right are so scared of being called liberal that they refuse to acknowledge the other “life issues” that include improving the environment, health care, and poverty. Those of us on the left are tired of this. We’re accused of hating God and Christ, then when they see evangelical leaders on the left telling politicians to act Christ-like, they’re accused of not being real Christians. Because the right knows that if the false perception of persecution on the left gets taken away, the right loses their base. It’s sickening and wrong.>



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kevin s.

posted December 5, 2006 at 7:48 am


“Their agenda is to stop cruelty and to free and comfort prisoners of conscience and those who suffer abuse, and to bring light into the darkness.” Prisoners of conscience? No… Amnesty International compared Guantanamo to the Gulag. Even if it is as bad as you describe, there is no comparison. That is downplaying the violations of communist nations. The front page of Amnesty’s website features several calls to shut down Guantanamo. Any calls for the rights of dissidents in Cuba? Nope. What about organ harvesting in China? Not a peep. Evenhanded? Please. Many of the transgressions you describe are minor. The remainder are under investigation (I believe the menstrual blood woman has been disciplined). As for sleep deprivation and the like, I don’t see where that is manifestly severe, so as to violate UN charter. Do you visit any sites which offer arguments for utilizing guantanamo? Which ones? What do you think of their arguments?>



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PJ

posted December 5, 2006 at 3:58 pm


Is there anyone posting here not committed to the “Common Good?” Kevin S.? djtyg? woverine? anonymous? joseph? timks? butch? tenoch? gwyn? ana? andrew? s holmgren? r hamric? chuck? mike?>



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kevin s.

posted December 5, 2006 at 7:18 pm


“: opposed programs and policies that would get the poor out of poverty, ” I think it’s a matter of opposing programs and policies that keep the poor trapped in poverty.>



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Robstur

posted December 6, 2006 at 3:08 pm


PJ – you forgot me on the list for the “Common Good”. We might have to define ‘common’ and ‘good’ but I am sure that I am there with you. After doing a little sleuthing I am ready to purpose the following and open to others input on this. NO MORE WAR! OK – again I say bring them home – bring them all home. In my estimation most of the EU community uses us – the US as their defence. If they have a Amry – Navy etc. it is little and not very effective, yes there are a few exceptions. So bring them all home on US soil and let the rest of the world fend for themselves. If we were not spending huge sums of money on foreign lands to maintain bases, hospitals etc. We could be spending that money here in the US of A. We can still buy goods from them but we could produce our own with the resources we have and buy American! With the money we save by not trying to be the worlds police (and then have France stab us in the back) we could offer several programs here that they offer over there because we are spending our money to protect them and they aren’t spending much of their GNP on defence. BRING THEM HOME – NOW! This beggs the question – what about our Embasseys – we could still maintain them as according to international law – they are ‘extra territorial’, oh – Iran does not agree with that. Well we can maintain most of them and dialog with these countries about what needs to be done in the world – they mostly just talk anyway and expect that the US will pick up the tap and make things safe again – NOT! That era of world history is over. Now for the exceptions…I purpose that we stay in the UK and ISRAEL…any other suggestions. OH – not sure what happens to areas of the world where War Lords are killing their own people for whatever reason – ethnic cleansing or whatever. (dare I say that most of Africa will be left to the War Lords to rule because we will not use minitary force to correct the wrongs that are going on over there and that means that we can not send civilians to work over there because we will not be able to protect them) Missions work in other countries…surely these people will be OK if we send missionaries to establish clincics – hospitals – schools etc. and happy that we are their delivering food stuffs to areas of famine. They are welcoming us now aren’t they… OH – not more Gitmo, Abu, whatever… because we will not be the police and Germany, France will not have US to kick around anymore – but what about the UN? They can stay here in NY but not sure how much I am going to fund them after we have brought eveyone back here…but that is another discussion. SO – come on Blue People – you have a Red Guy that is willing to be Bigtime Purple on this issue. I will not make any designs on going to war anywhere in the world if you will do the same. Military action is only to defend US. The Global Village just got a little smaller. Have a great day>



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Anonymous

posted December 6, 2006 at 3:28 pm


Kevi S Go to the Amnesty International Website, and type cuba. You will find pages of hits on the issue of the treatment of Cuban dissidents, so somebody is lying to you, or you did’t bother to find out if your statement is true.It is not true on either count. Under “china organ harvesting” I got 13 articles dealing with this issue. Please, yourself. Do you want to try again? Joseph T>



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Anonymous

posted December 6, 2006 at 5:36 pm


The following 2 paragraphs are excerpted from a column I wrote for my local Vermont paper. When the flag represents torture and the loss of legal rights, who will fight for it? Who will love it? There is a deep and dark divorce predicated in the Military Comissions Act (which apart from from Rumsfeld, American military leaders rejected with virtual unanimity) . The declaration of independence says that government derives its just power from the consent of the governed. The Constitution is the framework that delegates and defines the limits and extent of that power. It seems to me therefor that any legal action taken by the government must have its limits defined by the Constitution. We cannot arrest anyone and deny them fundamental constitutional rights. Who then would be carrying out the arrest or detention? If the executive branch is not acting within the framework of the Constitution, under the limits of the Constitution, and by the authority of the Constitution, then under what authority are they acting? Do they have their own country separate from the Constitution? When the executive branch can break treaties and laws without accountability to Congress or the courts, the fabric of the American political system is put in severe jeopardy. Cheney and Bush argue that we are at war. With what country did we declare war? There is no country called Terror, and torture is not a tool to fight terrorism . Torture and arrests without due process are terrorism. America has steered into dark waters and only the courage of citizens who refuse to be bullied by fear mongering can turn things around. I am not arguing here that the Government should not do all it can constitutionally do to prevent and prosecute illegal acts of violence or violent plots. There is plenty of bi-partisan agreement on these goals and plenty of flexibility within our system. But our greatest weapon against violent ideologies is a dedication to a transparent and accountable system of self government through law and justice and equality of rights for all citizens.>



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Joseph T

posted December 6, 2006 at 5:38 pm


Sorry, that was me again Joseph T>



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William Smith

posted December 8, 2006 at 7:04 am


I must point out that every call to “put partisan politics aside” comes from the left side of the aisle, and it always means, “Do things our way and stop holding us up.” Every item on this agenda is a left-wing program. The problem is not that conservatives and liberals want to solve social ills in a different way, the problem is that conservatives understand that GOVERNMENT IS NOT THE SOLUTION. If anything, government is the problem. Most of the ills of the world stem from government action. Why is there less poverty in the US than anywhere else in the world? It’s because there is less interference with business and the free market in the US than anywhere else in the world. The number one predictor of economic well-being of nations is not natural resources, but economic freedom. If fact, if you leave out oil, natural resources ranks very low as a predictor of economic well-being. Most of the hunger in the world stems from government action, war, repression, economic controls. Most of the violence in the world stems from government action. Milton Friedman, RIP, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt in his Nobel-prize winning work, A Monetary History of the US, that the Great Depression was not caused by the stock market crash, by big business, by ridiculous levels of borrowing and credit, but by the government’s response to the crisis. The government reacted by drastically shrinking the money supply. Suddenly there were far fewer dollars available in the economy to pay for the debts that were contracted before 1929, and the economy went into a tailspin. It was GOVERNMENT that caused the Great Depression, not the markets. It’s odd that left-wing people usually state that Americans want to see government do something, that Americans are calling out for change, etc. The reality is that Americans want government to do as little as possible. We don’t get different parties in Congress and the White House by accident. We get them on purpose. Americans split their loyalties between the parties not because they want to see things happen, they do it because they want to see nothing happen. Business breathes easier every time Congress goes into recess. The whole nation feels a sense of relief whenever the President goes on vacation. We’d be horrified if Washington were bombed tomorrow, but we’d all go on with our lives pretty much the same as before. Why? Because Washington really doesn’t matter that much. As long as the local cops enforce the laws that are on the books, most Americans would be just as happy to leave the laws alone. And that’s a GOOD thing. Making government more powerful and giving it more to do, such as “social justice,” would only make things worse, not better. I have to respond to the call to Christians to do more for the poor as well. There’s a big difference between the personal responsibility to obey the injunction to give to the poor and instituting government programs to help the poor. I’m not sure why the left fails to comprehend this distinction. When you give to the poor from your OWN pocket, that’s charity. When you give to the poor from SOMEONE ELSE’s pocket, that’s theft. And government programs to help the poor take money from other people’s pockets. It’s theft. It is the forcible taking of money from some, deemed less worthy because they have money, and giving it to others, deemed more worthy because they don’t have money. Consider this new program: because some people are on dialysis while millions of people walk around with two functioning kidneys, we’re going to institute a program that takes from those that have more kidneys than they need and give to those who don’t have any at all. Identify if you will the distinction between government welfare programs and my hypothetical kidney program. Really, my program is far more justifiable, since it will save lives while government welfare programs are just about money and living standards, not life and death. Why is it okay to take money from some to give to others but not okay to take kidneys from some to give to others? On to still another issue lightly touched upon, and that is the “growing wage gap.” The only reason there’s a growing wage gap in this country is because the native Americans keep getting richer and richer while we import wave after wave of dirt-poor Mexicans into the country. If you want to see the effect of Democrat and Republican cooperation, just look at our immigration policy. The left welcomes Mexican immigration as a way to boost the calls for more and bigger government programs and to push for multiculturalism, as if Mexican culture had anything on American culture, and business welcomes Mexican immigration as a way to keep wages low. If we’d cut off the flow of cheap Mexican labor, the wage gap would disappear as companies would have to start paying Americans to do the work that is necessary. And talk about your programs for the poor. Nothing keeps the poors’ wages down like a constant influx of cheap labor. Cut that off, and the poor can start asking for more money. The same thing happened in the 20′s at the auto plants: ask for more money and you’re replaced the next day. It wasn’t until immigration was halted that the UAW was able to make headway with the auto companies. Religion has no monopoly on morality??? Of course it does! All morality stems from religious belief! On the notion of the common good, the beauty of capitalism is that everyone does better when everyone looks out for himself. The only aspects of the country that fare poorly are those that are owned in common instead of being owned privately: the oceans, the air and water, public parks and government owned forest land. Because there’s no cost to use them and no benefit to preserving them, they are abused. The same applies to the common good. Working for the common good benefits no one in particular, while working for yourself benefits you and everyone you do business with. There is no common good, there is only a vast array of individuals, all with different priorities and different needs and desires. What is good for one is bad for another, and what would satisfy one would leave another feeling unfulfilled and frustrated. It’s better to leave people alone to work out how to get their own needs and wants satisfied than to try to work for some common good that satisfies no one. Final thought, a word in favor of cynicism and distrust. It is healthy for the American people to distrust government and those in government. We need more sunshine laws, laws that force bureaucrats and elected representatives to reveal to the public just what exactly it is that they are doing. We need more public exposure of the net effects of the laws that are passed by Congress. Cynicism and distrust prod people to push for those types of laws and exposure. Newt Gingrich, I believe it was, when the Republicans took over the House, sent letters to each and every alphabet soup agency in the executive branch asking them what exactly they did and how they justified spending the amount of money Congress granted them every year. Half of them ignored the letter. Unfortunately, the Republicans didn’t have the guts to chop their funding until they explained their existence. Likewise, on the other side, the Patriot Act has gotten some public exposure, but not nearly enough, and the public response has not been nearly as outraged as one would expect from such a sweeping revocation of the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments. Yes, we’re at war, but there has been no promise to repeal the Patriot Act once the war is over. Conservatives don’t write warm and fuzzy letters. We think with our heads instead of our hearts. It looks like Wallis never reads or responds to comments. That’s disappointing.>



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Pilgrim

posted December 11, 2006 at 9:17 pm


I love the idea of a morally-centered government. For far too long we have allowed corruption to dominate, and this is mostly due to the fact that we keep re-electing the same self-serving, morally bankrupt candidates term after term after term. We never seem to learn. However, my problem with Jim Wallis article is that he seems to see socialism or communism as the way to solve our nation s problems. It is hard if not impossible to work together with people who have such a totally incompatible view of the purpose of government. Here are some excerpts from his column: Jim wrote: A government that works for the common good is central In the Hebrew Scriptures, prosperity was to be shared by all Really? I don t recall any scripture commanding that each person s earnings were to be redistributed among the people, so that everyone had an equal share of wealth. The rich and the poor co-existed in Israel, and the rich were not required to support the poor. Am I wrong? Doesn t the Bible say that he who does not work shall not eat? Biblically, people are required to support themselves through work. In today s world, socialism is failing. When people s wealth is taken from them, it kills their incentive to work. That s what happened at the end of the Roman Empire. Government took so much money from those that worked (and gave it to those that didn t), that people stopped working. Everyone wanted to be on the dole. That way of thinking also hurt the original colonies when the English first settled here. It nearly destroyed the Plymouth and Jamestown colonies, until their governors abolished socialism and began free-market economies. So no, prosperity is not supposed to be shared by all. People aren t wired for that. Jim wrote: It is time to lift up practical policies and effective practices that “make work work” for low-income families and challenge the increasing wealth gap between rich and poor . I have spoken with leaders from both parties about creating a real anti-poverty agenda in Congress. Really, Jim? We already tried that for decades – and failed. Remember the War on Poverty, which President Lyndon Johnson began back in 1964? It was supposed to wipeout poverty in a generation and cost about $60 million. Today, 42 years later, it has cost us $8.9 trillion (that s 8,900 billion dollars)! And, is poverty over? Ha! Still going strong with no end in sight. Here are some interesting facts: Today the Federal Government has 59 major welfare programs and spends more than $100 billion a year on them. Ronald Reagan, 1988 David Walker, Comptroller General at GAO: “If present trends continue, by 2040 the entire federal budget will be consumed by Social Security and Medicare. The only options for balancing the budget would be cutting total federal spending by about 60%, or doubling federal taxes… Furthermore, we cannot grow our way out of this problem. Faster economic growth can only delay the inevitable hard choices.” http://www.house.gov/paul/tst/tst2006/tst111306.htm Perhaps, instead of an anti-poverty agenda in congress, how about an anti-theft policy instead? The Bible doesn t command government to take from the rich and give to the poor. What it says is: Thou shalt not steal! If it is wrong to steal, then it is also wrong to have government steal for you. The redistribution of wealth, through confiscatory taxes and endless social programs (e.g. modern day America ), is really just another name for theft. Our caring government is currently taking 32% of the earned wealth of the American people, through taxes. Tax Freedom Day is now April 26, which means Americans work the first 4 months of the year just to pay taxes to a spending-addicted, bloated government. Put another way, government steals 1/3 of our working lives from us. That s just sickening! For those on the left, the solution is always bigger government, more programs, and more taxes. It never ends, and it never works. Amazingly, they never see the failure of their ideas and they never change course. How, exactly, are people who believe in limited government and individual liberty to find common political ground with them? How can we work together toward opposing goals? Perhaps, if we all agreed to follow the Biblical way, which is based on voluntary efforts not government theft we could all get along. The Biblical examples urge voluntary giving to the poor, also known as charity. Those who want to give, give. Those who don t want to give, don t give. That s fair, and it works for everyone. The problem begins when do gooders want to use the brute force of government to take wealth from those who own it, and give it to others. Theft, redistribution-of-wealth, welfare: it s all the same thing – and it s wrong. We should stop looking to government to help the poor and instead look to individuals and churches to help them, through charity. That s the loving way.>



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Pilgrim

posted December 13, 2006 at 6:23 pm


S Holmgren wrote: “There is more tolerance on the left for divergent opinions, while there is very little wiggle room on the right.” Yikes! It’s hard to believe that people can really believe that. Just look at the majority of America’s college campuses. They are hotbeds of liberalism where political correctness rules, and divergent opinions are rigidly suppressed. PC, a liberal value, is antithetical to the free expression of ideas.>



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Pilgrim

posted December 13, 2006 at 8:09 pm


Joseph T wrote: The Declaration of Independence says that government derives its just power from the consent of the governed. The Constitution is the framework that delegates and defines the limits and extent of that power. It seems to me therefore that any legal action taken by the government must have its limits defined by the Constitution. We cannot arrest anyone and deny them fundamental constitutional rights. When the executive branch can break treaties and laws without accountability to Congress or the courts, the fabric of the American political system is put in severe jeopardy. With what country did we declare war? Torture and arrests without due process are terrorism. But our greatest weapon against violent ideologies is a dedication to a transparent and accountable system of self-government through law and justice and equality of rights for all citizens. Man, I love your writing! Far too few Americans are committed to keeping government power in check and holding it to constitutional principles and limitations. Because of this we are losing our freedoms quickly. Though few know it, we ve already lost our right to a fair trial by jury, our right to Petition Government for Redress of Grievances, and our right to due process in cases involving the government especially the IRS. Sadly, God’s people are doing nothing to restore justice or constitutional order to government in these critically important matters.>



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