God's Politics

the latest reports on Gerald Ford’s legacy, James Brown’s funeral, the murder rate, Ethiopia-Somalia, Iran, Iraq policy and interfaith dialogue
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Gerald R. Ford. 38th President Leaves A Legacy of Healing – “A nation deeply polarized by war and partisanship came together yesterday to mourn Gerald Rudolph Ford as a healer during a previous era of division,” Praise for ‘a legacy of honor’ – “The nation’s capital prepared Wednesday to honor former President Gerald R. Ford with the pomp and solemnity of a state funeral,” Low-Key Services Planned in D.C. And Michigan for Modest President – “The body of Gerald R. Ford will arrive Saturday in Washington and lie in repose in the Capitol Rotunda, but in keeping with the unassuming former president’s style, his state funeral will be as modest as such an affair can be.” After Ford’s Death, Tributes Are Set for Capital– “Services for Mr. Ford, the 38th president, who died late Tuesday, will begin Friday in Palm Desert, Calif., with private prayers for the family at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church … The next day, his body will be flown to Washington. The hearse is to pause at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in recognition of Mr. Ford’s naval service in the Pacific. His state funeral is to be conducted on Saturday evening in the Capitol Rotunda, after which the public will be allowed to file by the coffin. A service will be held next Tuesday in the Washington National Cathedral.”

Editorial Tributes.

Chicago Tribune – Gerald Ford and forgiveness
Christian Science Monitor – Gerald Ford, reconciler-in-chief
Los Angeles Times – The Ford presidency
Boston Globe – Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006
New York Times – Gerald R. Ford
Washington Post – Profile in Decency
USA Today – Unassuming Ford was perfect salve for a wounded nation

Ford Disagreed With Bush About Invading Iraq – “Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. “I don’t think I would have gone to war,” he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford’s own administration. … “Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction,” Ford said.” Would today’s GOP go for Ford? – “In death, former President Gerald R. Ford might be coming back into style. Friends and colleagues said that there is a yearning among many voters in his own party for the kind of pragmatic politics of compromise that Ford embodied. But internal Republican Party dynamics make it unlikely he could rise to power today. Independents and moderates would like him, but not the staunchly conservative Republican base.”

James Brown. Thousands expected at Brown’s Augusta service James Brown will get a proper Harlem farewell on Thursday, with a horse-drawn carriage leading a procession prior to a public viewing for Brown at the Apollo Theater. … A high-tech marquee at the Apollo offered: “Rest in Peace Apollo Legend The Godfather of Soul James Brown, 1933-2006.” Brown’s epic “Live at the Apollo” album streamed from the marquee speakers. In Augusta, preparations continued for the private service on Friday and Saturday’s public service at James Brown Arena.” Where Stars Have Risen, Paying Tribute to One Fallen – “Thursday, from 1 to 8 p.m., the body of James Brown, who died on Monday, will lie in state onstage at the Apollo on West 125th Street.” Godfather of soul, and of our goal (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune) – “As an impressionable student, I was changed forever by Brown’s recounting in an interview in the late 1960s about his own struggles against childhood poverty. “I used to shine shoes on the front steps of an Augusta, Ga., radio station,” he said. “Now I own that radio station.” So could we all, he was telling our generation, if we took full advantage of the doors that were opening to us.”

Murder rate. Major cities see rise in murders – “After years of decline, the number of murders climbed this year in New York City and many other major American cities, reaching the highest levels in a decade in some places.”

Ethiopia/Somalia. Somali Islami
sts see gains slip away but hold onto capital
– “Troops from Ethiopia and Somalia’s weak transitional government cornered Islamic fighters Wednesday in their stronghold of Mogadishu, setting the stage for a possible showdown over Somalia’s seaside capital.” Islamists desert Somali capital – “Troops loyal to Somalia’s transitional government poised to retake Mogadishu after Islamist fighters abandoned the city.” Islamists Seem to Give Up Grip on Somali City– “The Islamist forces who have controlled much of Somalia in recent months suddenly vanished from the streets of the capital, Mogadishu, residents said Wednesday night, just as thousands of rival troops massed 15 miles away.”

Ethiopia’s children. Malnutrition Is Cheating Its Survivors, and Africa’s Future– “Almost half of Ethiopia’s children are malnourished, and most do not die. Some suffer a different fate. Robbed of vital nutrients as children, they grow up stunted and sickly, weaklings in a land that still runs on manual labor. Some become intellectually stunted adults, shorn of as many as 15 I.Q. points, unable to learn or even to concentrate, inclined to drop out of school early.”

Iran. Iran votes to review ties with UN nuke agency – “Iran’s parliament voted to urge the government to re-examine its ties with the UN nuclear agency after a Security Council decision to impose sanctions against Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.” Iran to ‘Revise’ Any Relations With Monitors in Nuclear Area– “It is unclear what “revise its cooperation” means. But the measure was considered by some moderate members of Parliament to be less severe than earlier versions proposed by conservative members, who had wanted Iran to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and ban all inspectors.”

Iraq policy. Bush and Security Advisers to Meet Today on Iraq Strategy – “President Bush’s top national security advisers arrived here to hone a new Iraq strategy that administration officials said seems increasingly likely to include a surge of additional troops to try to help stabilize the country.” Bush, advisors gather as aide rebukes Biden on Iraq – “The White House responded sharply Wednesday to a senior Democratic senator’s criticism of possible increases in the U.S. military deployment in Iraq as the president prepared to discuss the war today with top advisors.” G.O.P. Senator in Spotlight After a Critical Iraq Speech – “At the close of the Senate’s lame-duck session, in between formulaic tributes to senators departing voluntarily or otherwise, a Republican backbencher suddenly rose to give one of the most passionate and surprising speeches about the war in Iraq yet delivered in Congress. Skip to next paragraphFor a solid Republican who had originally voted for the war, the words spoken by the senator, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, on the evening of Dec. 7 were incendiary and marked a stunning break with the president.”

Boston Globe feature on interfaith dialogue– Ideas Forum contributors:

Good neighbors (By Diana L. Eck)

Faith and reason (By Richard John Neuhaus)

Truth and power (By Reza Aslan)

Face to face (By Alan Wolfe)

A Christian imperative (By Mark A. Noll)