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God's Politics


Criminal, Ignorant, and Potentially Murderous Folly (by Jim Wallis)

posted by God's Politics

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, recently returned from a visit to Armenia, Syria, and Lebanon. While there, he met with politicians, Christian and Muslim leaders, and visited with Palestinian and Iraqi refugees.


In an interview with BBC radio, Williams shared some of the observations he gathered, particularly in Iraq and Iran. He spoke movingly about the Iraqi refugees he met, saying, “the stories we heard were, I have to say, really hair-raising.” He went on:



We heard of the firebombing of houses and shops, we heard of abductions, and of murders, and we heard stories – for example, one about a young woman who was travelling in a car with her father (a Christian family). Her father had been shot and killed in the car, she had been left for dead because she was covered with his blood, and when she got back to her home afterwards she had further threats – ‘next time we’ll finish the job …’ – and so she had to leave. When you add those stories up by the hundred and by the thousand you see something of the fantastic human cost of what’s going on in Iraq at the moment.



When the questions shifted to the war in Iraq as the cause of this situation (which Williams clearly thinks it is), he then had this to say about Iran:




When people talk about further destabilizing the region, when you read about some American political advisers speaking about action against Syria and Iran, I can only say that I regard that as criminal, ignorant and potentially murderous folly. … I mean that we do hear in some quarters about action against Syria or against Iran. I can’t really understand what planet such persons are living on when you see the conditions that are already there. The region is still a tinderbox.



Strong, but true words. The region is still a tinderbox, and a U.S. attack on another country would be throwing gasoline on the fire. Williams is an exemplary church leader, a deeply respected theologian and scholar, a poet, and, I would say, genuine contemplative—all rare these days. He has never been prone to overstatement, and clearly his recent experience in the Middle East affected him deeply. What one hears in his strong words is, indeed, the authentic voice of prophetic criticism (again rare among church leaders these days). Bless you, Rowan Williams, and may our leaders in Washington take notice of your warnings.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:03 pm


Some people’s hearts are so cold and uncaring that it seems nothing could shake that, not even their religion and seemingly it doesn’t matter which one that is.
Maria Schell was asked, in another context, how it is that men can be so callous and cruel.
Her answer was, “Because they are made that way.”
Who will change their hearts?



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kevin s.

posted October 10, 2007 at 1:04 pm


Taking the military option off the table guarantees fruitless negotiations, which will, ironically, compound the need for military intervention down the road. I guess Sojourner’s official posture is that Ahmadinejad is a puppet, and Iran is therefore not a threat.
I find this conclusion to be deeply flawed. If Iran develops nuclear weaponry, we can be assured that they will throw gasoline on the fire.



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greg in nc

posted October 10, 2007 at 2:11 pm


I’d like to see Jim post something about, say, how golden retrievers are nice dogs – just to see how kevin s. decides to rip him, sojo, or retrievers themselves.



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Jeff

posted October 10, 2007 at 2:20 pm


greg in nc,
I’ve gone over Kevin S. post and am having trouble finding where he rips sojo. Could you help me out.
Jeff



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 10, 2007 at 3:20 pm


I noticed that also Jeff , its the old disagree with me so you must hate me . I hope Greg does not think that way .
I am worried about Iran getting nukes as well . I don’t see why anyone would not be ? I don’t Think you have to be prophetic to know that .



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Ngchen

posted October 10, 2007 at 4:52 pm


Kevin S. wrote
Taking the military option off the table guarantees fruitless negotiations, which will, ironically, compound the need for military intervention down the road. I guess Sojourner’s official posture is that Ahmadinejad is a puppet, and Iran is therefore not a threat.
I find this conclusion to be deeply flawed. If Iran develops nuclear weaponry, we can be assured that they will throw gasoline on the fire.

So are you claiming that negotiations without the threat of a gun to your head are doomed to fail? In our private lives, anyone who tried to “negotiate” thus would be considered a criminal and jailed, and the contracts obtained voided from duress.
The notion that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weaponry is not proven. There are entirely plausible explanations for their nuclear program including cheap electricity and national pride. I would like to hear those hawks admit that they’ll never be satisfied with Iran not producing nuclear weapons no matter how many inspections turn up empty. I’m not holding my breath though. Second, even if they did produce a bomb, it’s not obvious that they’ll use it. The USSR had tens of thousands of weapons, and MAD (mutual assured destruction) kept a tense, yet surprisingly resilient peace. Why’d Iran be any different?



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get_real

posted October 10, 2007 at 4:53 pm


“I guess Sojourner’s official posture is that Ahmadinejad is a puppet, and Iran is therefore not a threat.”
this is at least the second time the kevster has purposefully mischaracterized jim wallis’ words re: iran. go back and read the ahmadinejad post. the suggestion that those of us who oppose threatening iran with military action don’t care about iran having nukes is ridiculous.



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steve

posted October 10, 2007 at 4:57 pm


Keven S.
Taking the military option off the table guarantees fruitless negotiations, which will, ironically, compound the need for military intervention down the road.

In Iraq we left the military option on the table and, sure enough, used it. Perhaps leaving the military option on the table compounds the DESIRE for military intervention down the road (we just couldn’t resist).
Not taking the military option off the table BUT secretly deciding that we really won’t use it is deeply flawed. That is: leaving the option on the table really and truly leaves the option on the table –> we WILL be tempted to use it (and learning from history we should honestly admit to ourselves that we will probably yield to the temptation).
So what Keven S is arguing for leads surely to war. Some may argue that it doesn’t have to. These are people who don’t learn from history.
Now, on to “guarantees fruitless negotiations”. This is a questionable and unsupported assumption.



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Blake

posted October 10, 2007 at 4:57 pm


Suggestions from Wallis, et al on what should be done with Iran and Syria? We know what we shouldn’t do, so what should be done?



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splinterlog

posted October 10, 2007 at 5:09 pm


negotiations without the threat of a gun to your head are doomed to fail?
This is the view of the “realists” and you’re absolutely right in calling it illegal. In fact I’ve call it downright psychotic – isn’t this what the mafia does?
Despite the wide regard for the realist school, I think that, if anything, the last few years have shown us the limits of this strategy. Take the military option off the table, stop threatening people and maybe they’ll be more receptive to workign things out peacefully. As looney as Ahmedinejad is, I think even he and his cabal recognize that war is the very worst of all possible outcomes.



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get_real

posted October 10, 2007 at 5:14 pm


blake – if you search in the archives, you will find a number of posts giving a number of such suggestions.
steve – well said, i had the same thoughts but couldn’t get them out as intelligently as you have.
anyone who thinks iran is going to back down from a threatened military strike doesn’t know iran. the more realistic option is to get the *people* of iran on our side – not a terribly difficult thing until we start talking about nuclear strikes. in fact, arguably the *only* thing that ensures continuity of the current iranian leadership and their hostile stance is that the iranian people hate america more than they hate them. it’s very telling to listen to leaders of iranian democratization movements describe how things have gotten so much more hopeless in the last few years.



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 10, 2007 at 6:24 pm


“Get Iran on our side ? ”
Bomb Israel , that would do it .
We do not have to throw gasoline on the fire , but we better be careful of the flames .



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N.M. Rod

posted October 10, 2007 at 6:44 pm


It’s interesting to note that when people start to discuss what “we” should do about this or that, it’s not the “we” that would refer to the Body of Christ as one might think, this being a discussion group ostensibly for Christians, but they mean the “we” as in exclusively Americans, and the American political class of domestic and foreign policy decision-makers in particular.
That particular corporate “we” isn’t Christian or even necessarily interested in ethical or moral concerns, is it?
Also, I note that people are referring to their reasons for posting here to be for defending or promoting their extra-Christian political ideologies within Christendom, which are shared by non-Christians and may in fact have originated without reference at all to Christian values or principles.
I would urge that we not be letting anyone make merchandise out of us.



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get_real

posted October 10, 2007 at 7:12 pm


” “Get Iran on our side ? ”
Bomb Israel , that would do it .”
i said get the PEOPLE of iran on our side. huge difference (and in fact i even put stars around *people*, indicating that it was the key word).
contrary to what many in the west seem to think, the majority of people in iran do not want their country to bomb israel or the united states. only in *ahem* recent years has iranian public sentiment begun to shift to the more anti-western strain.
particularly in the middle east, increased nationalism is the first response to western threats, even in the face of unpopular, even oppressive leaders. the military option strengthens the current leadership and erodes public support for democratization.



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Trent

posted October 10, 2007 at 8:07 pm


and this is in the same week we’ve had university students in Tehran protesting against their own government.
External threats of force will only serve to strengthen Iran’s warmongers. Taking the threat of force off the table is the only viable option, even if it does appear counter-intuitive.
I’ve stated it on earlier posts, but the history of the last century is repleat of examples where a nations warmongers were strengthened by external threats (think Germany, Japan, North Korea, Israel/Palestine). Even for the US, the external threat of terrorism has strengthened the warmongers.
Be Blessed,



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bren

posted October 10, 2007 at 8:14 pm


Kevin says: Taking the military option off the table guarantees fruitless negotiations.
I guess he missed the President’s saying that he would never negotiated with Iran (or any country that’s a part of the Axis of Evil). This definitely sounds to me exactly like the “reasons” for going to Iraq. We intend to invade Iraq, we just have to find some WMD, some something that justifies our going in. It sure seems to me that Bush/Cheney etc. have the same thing in mind re Iran.



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bren

posted October 10, 2007 at 8:14 pm


Kevin says: Taking the military option off the table guarantees fruitless negotiations.
I guess he missed the President’s saying that he would never negotiate with Iran (or any country that’s a part of the Axis of Evil). This definitely sounds to me exactly like the “reasons” for going to Iraq. We intend to invade Iraq, we just have to find some WMD, or some something that justifies our going in.
It sure seems to me that Bush/Cheney etc. have the same thing in mind re Iran.



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 10, 2007 at 8:23 pm


said get the PEOPLE of iran on our side. huge difference
I guess so , but is that not what the first Bush tried in Iraq , and some of those folks were slaughtered from what I Understand .
Also , have you read the media in Iran . What is allowed . The best thing about the situation In Iraq is at least the folks get access to media and different opinions . Their are Dish satelites all over the place .
I really don’t think you have thought this through , or you assume we all know what you know .



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canucklehead

posted October 10, 2007 at 9:18 pm


>>>”It’s interesting to note that when people start to discuss what “we” should do about this or that, it’s not the “we” that would refer to the Body of Christ as one might think, this being a discussion group ostensibly for Christians, but they mean the “we” as in exclusively Americans, and the American political class of domestic and foreign policy decision-makers in particular.” N.M. Rod
Aw, but Rodney, my man, knowest thou not that to be American is synonymous with being Christian, and to be a right-wing American is to guarantee ring-side seats in close proximity to Christ for eternity, a la James & John?



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Trent

posted October 10, 2007 at 9:52 pm


Try two.
This week the news digest reported university students protesting against Ahmedinejad, not at Columbia, but in Tehran. At the very least it emphasises that Iran does not possess a unified mind (no more than the US or Australia does).
The only thing that will stop Iran’s slow crawl towards liberalisation (and didn’t all western nations have such a slow crawl) is an external threat.
A brief glance at the last century shows that ‘war parties’ (those who favoured war – not necessarily political parties) benefited from real or perceived external threats in Germany, Japan and North Korea to name a few. Or look more recently into the first years of this century and see how the external threat of terrorism has benefitted the ‘war parties’ in the US and her allies.
The ‘only’ option for Iran is to remove the threat of force. It may be counter-intuitive, but it is the option that strengthens the ‘progressive parties’ in Iran. (but we don’t strengthen them, by offering them direct or overt support – interference will not work).
As to whether or not this is a Christian response or not it does make one wonder. I believe that many opposed to the current and projected wars are opposed due to their faith (but others are opposed due to humanistic concerns). I wonder if those who support the war believe that these specific wars are an appropriate ‘Christian’ action, or if they believe that these wars are ‘allowable’ for Christians to support (so neither right or wrong in and of themselves).
Be Blessed,



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 11, 2007 at 3:03 am


Aw, but Rodney, my man, knowest thou not that to be American is synonymous with being Christian, and to be a right-wing American is to guarantee ring-side seats in close proximity to Christ for eternity, a la James & John?
Posted by: canucklehead
Now I know how you got your name . A



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 11, 2007 at 4:30 am


I would urge that we not be letting anyone make merchandise out of us.
Posted by: N.M. Rod
You could get a refund at the store you were bought at I am sure



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moderatelad

posted October 11, 2007 at 8:43 am


OK – Williams has an approval rating among his denomination somewhere between Congress and Bush – so I am not too impressed with this man.
It is interesting what he has to say but what is more interesting is what he doesn’t say or what is not quoted.
Yes – we know that their is violance against ‘Christians’ in the Mideast – they live under ‘Dimi-law’. Which makes our lack of civil rights in the 50′s – 60′s etc almost civil. But who is causing the havoc? Could it be Mideast national Muslims against Mideast national Christians? I believe it is and this has been happening for decades and in some areas centuries.
My cousin is correct. The US nolonger has the stomach for military battle no matter what the cause. So we should never be allowed to go to war regardless the issue or the cause. We should allow any 9-11 and just turn the other cheek until there are no more cheeks to be turned. We should never go to assistance off our shores and just let what is to happen – happen. I mean, who are we to give a $%^& what happens and where it happens and to whom it happens – it is none of our business.
Blessings -
.



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Robert Alu

posted October 11, 2007 at 9:30 am


People,
Is it true that the USA has more than 10,000 nuclear warheads?
How many does Iran have?
So we have come from invading Iraq for its nonexistent WMD – against the wishes of most of the world – to invading Iran unilaterally for having the gall to even think of developing nuclear power! No one even knows, for sure, that they want a nuclear bomb.
I do not understand. Do some people never learn?
How can American Christians be so bloodthirsty? What got into you? Why do so many of you love blasting people in foreign lands away for your national interests? Is it because it keeps your sons and daughters employed and industries running, adding to your GDP? Is it because of your ‘untouchable’ military? Is it because most victims are poor helpless non WASPs who go unreported in your media? Is it just a game to you?
And, why bring up 9-11? Do you realise that many thousands of dead innocents later Osama bin Laden is still alive? He is Saudi, as have been many suicide bombers. They harmed America. Why are you not eager to invade Saudi Arabia? Or will it be next?
If Christians here can so callously discuss the ‘need’ to invade Iran then all I can say is “Lord have mercy on us all!”
I am sure that you are my brothers and sisters – in Christ, but your coldness repels me. I find the attitude of the warmongers here sickening, just as I suspect Rowan Williams does.
- Alu
Dar es Salaam



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dynamo

posted October 11, 2007 at 10:09 am


kevin s. said:
“Taking the military option off the table guarantees fruitless negotiations.”
That kind of neo-conservative bullcrap really gets under my skin. Either you’re going to attack/invade a country or your not – empty threats only escalate the problem in the long run.



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dlowen

posted October 11, 2007 at 12:09 pm


Alu,
Never were truer words spoken. The US and the Soviet Union each have had nuclear weapons pointed at each other for fifty years, and we have not found it necessary to make preemptive strikes to prevent their deployment. The old MAD policy has kept both sides in check. How much more could we prevent a nuclear attack on US interests from a country such as Iran who knows that we could obliterate their country if they made any sort of attack on us or our allies.
I’m not as certain as you that those who claim to be Christians and yet call for endless Holy Wars are our brothers and sisters. Matthew 5 tells us who God’s children are, v9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” I don’t believe that God calls “Pax Americana” making peace.
For many of us in this country, our first allegiance is to Jesus and second to the USA. Please believe that although those who scream for blood are vocal they do not speak for all.



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JCinSunnyLA

posted October 11, 2007 at 12:16 pm


Mick:
“God invented whiskey to prevent the Irish from ruling the world.”
I can’t take credit for this quote, but your blogs certainly do bring it to mind. Perhaps you should get off the sauce and take a course in remedial English. Then I might be able to follow your line of reasoning long enough to tell you where you may have gone wrong.
As for the current course of political discourse and, of course, rigorous religious debate about our faith and fate. Let us pause and take a deep breath before it is too late.
Liberal Democrats and Conservative Republicans actively involved in pointing fingers at each other are leading this country to a serious day of reckoning—as both parties are working opposite sides of the same dead end street to Hell on Earth. There is a grain of truth to both points of view, but a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Such issues as abortion and gay marriage are major distractions from the actions we should be taking in doing unto others as we would have them do to us. Perhaps you have found Utopia in the Great Northwest—a land of milk and honey and sunny dispositions toward all of God’s children. More likely you have lost sight of the fact that “leveling the playing field” requires a little more than expecting victims to let bygones be bygones and pull themselves up by their overpriced bootstraps produced in China and sold at the local Walmart. “Always lower prices” does not translate into higher value.
On the subject of abortion:
Many Republicans who trumpet their “reverence” for all life essentially advocate a life of neglect and abuse for unwanted children. Our welfare “reform” has dictated an every man for himself philosophy of “caring” for those who cannot care for themselves. And don’t remind me that Bill Clinton signed it into law. Welfare moms are simultaneously accused of “demanding” the right to abortion while purposely having babies to increase their benefits. Life is full of anecdotal “evidence” to prove any point by means of “lies, damn lies and statistics”.
The fact is that no-one can ascribe motive to intent like those who invent a reason to demonize a particular group or subset of same. Many Blacks on welfare do not believe in abortion. Many white middle-class “Christians” cannot bear the thought of giving up their freedom to raise a child when they feel a greater need to get a college education and to begin forging a successful and lucrative career in sucking up to those who hold the reins of power and glory.
Frankly, although I will never advocate abortion, I cannot in good conscience advocate a ban on the practice unless and until we demonstrate the will to take care of the children we already have. Nothing says no-one cares like sitting on our plump derrières in suburbia and passing judgment on the square pegs we have pounded into our round pigeonholes of life’s goals for those we left behind when we went to find Heaven on Earth.
Gay Marriage? Why do we engage in semantics to define our antics? Civil recognition does not change God’s definition of the legitimacy of one’s profession of love toward another. As we argue about labels, our enmity towards each other enables no other than the Dragon himself to keep us draggin’ ourselves down into the pitiless emptiness of the pride of life in this world of strife.
Christians were never expected to change the world, but to change their hearts and fill their minds with other kinds of thought than who ought to pay for their sins today and who we can blast for sins of the past. On this point, you speak the truth when you essentially say that children should not have to pay for the sins of their fathers a la affirmative action. But most of those who expect forgiveness for their sins and the sins of any others who find favor with them appear to be rather stingy in forgiving those who have caused them the slightest inconvenience—such as, providing a decent education for all children and not just the best and brightest of those who cannot afford private school. Vouchers for a fortunate few do nothing to improve the quality of education in public schools that have been abandoned to the window dressing of a “No Child Left Behind” policy lacking the substance of adequate funding behind the style of teaching to the test and forgetting the rest of learning to think for oneself.
Let’s not forget about Iraq (as if we can until we invade Iran). Those who say that leaving now would lead to a bloodbath are certainly correct in their assessment of the situation. Those who say that there will be a bloodbath whenever we leave are equally prescient. What we have here is the gnawing fear that we shouldn’t have left the parachute in the plane when we took a leap of faith in the belief that might makes right. Christians, of all people (and most certainly those who would characterize themselves as “born again”), should be cognizant of the fact that the end does NOT justify the means. We broke it and we will never be able to fix it. Presumably, we all have read the Bible—if only occasionally. We should know by now how it ends. Our legacy is not the Manifest Destiny envisioned by those who deign to rule and reign in the name of Christ before He returns. Any notion that God needs us more than we need Him is merely wishful thinking on the part of those who covet crowns and thrones while the world groans under the weight of too little too late in accepting our fate.
We are being sold a bill of goods when we buy the argument that we must prevent the spread of evil by the endless exchange of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”. It is not a “different world”, as some would have us believe, for “there is nothing new under the sun”. But all will soon find that we have been blind to the Good News that all things are new under the Son—who came to save everyone and not just the ones we know and love and wish to see in Heaven Above.
The price of “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” is to understand the Prince of Peace when He said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) We seem to expect it of others. Why do we have so much trouble expecting it of ourselves?
BTW, I find canuncklehead’s sense of humor to be refreshing. He has a way of making a point without wasting a lot of hot air. After all, it gets rather cold up there.



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Moderatelad

posted October 11, 2007 at 12:42 pm


Posted by: dynamo | October 11, 2007 10:09 AM
‘…empty threats only escalate the problem…’
You are assuming that it is an ‘empty threat’.
Not sure if you are a union person. What kind of Union Rep would a person be if they went to the table to talk about the new contract but everyone there knew that a ‘strike’ was not an option.
Quess management is in charge.
Blessings -
.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 11, 2007 at 1:07 pm


Wise words from JC in lotusland!
Maybe there are a few angels left in that city, where I lost my own innocence!



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dynamo

posted October 11, 2007 at 3:32 pm


Moderatelad said:
“You are assuming that it is an ‘empty threat’. What kind of Union Rep would a person be if they went to the table to talk about the new contract but everyone there knew that a ‘strike’ was not an option.”
And you are assuming that threats are the only way to get things done. I disagree with this assumption. Besides, as any survey of US history will demonstrate, strikes are not always when used as an option.



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Moderatelad

posted October 11, 2007 at 7:19 pm


Posted by: dynamo | October 11, 2007 3:32 PM
‘…strikes are not always when used…’
Correct – and that is my point. Union reps will work with management most of the time to come to agreement on any issue. But management knows that there is the possibility of them going on strike which keeps them in the game to come to consenses on the issues. If Unions came to the table and did not have the ability to strike – management would never have to come to terms as the employees will always show up to work regardless of agreement or not.
Some one has the trump card – they just don’t play it on the first round.
Blessing to all – neuro nurse come back to me.
.



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JCinSunnyLA

posted October 12, 2007 at 2:52 am


Let me first apologize for my comments to Mick at the beginning of my last post. It was a little childish and perhaps un-Christian of me.
Canucklehead:
Sorry for the typo. I sometimes get a little careless when I think faster than I can type.
Rodman:
Sunny LA is about as far as you can get from California in the Continental US. Actually, it is Lackawanna, NY—just south of Buffalo. We like to believe that it is the best place to live in Western NY, and since I come originally from Florida, our little nickname of Sunny LA makes me feel much warmer. Besides, in my hippie days one of my nicknames was Sunshine. Another was Bells, but that is a whole ‘nother story.
There’s nothing much else I have to say at the moment. I have to catch up on reading the various articles and comments first.
Peace y’all



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