Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pastor Warren at the Inauguration

Pastor Warren at the Inauguration
By Jerome Grossman

On January 20, Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States of America. Surprisingly, Obama has invited conservative evangelical Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the religious invocation to the two million people attending the ceremony in Washington, the 300 million Americans watching on television, and the billions around the world watching and listening as power changes hands in the world's unchallenged superpower.

Important political and social groups in the coalition that won the election for Obama are deeply disappointed at the choice of Warren. The pastor is a key figure in the opposition to gay rights, gay marriage and a woman's right to choose abortion. His rhetoric is exceptionally harsh, comparing gay marriage to “An older guy marrying a child" and to "One guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage", as well as comparing gays to pedophiles.

Gays and lesbians and supporters of abortion rights contributed mightily to Obama's campaign and gave him almost all their votes. Other enthusiastic supporters, civil libertarians and believers in the constitutional separation of church and state are stunned by the Warren invitation, that this man will address the world on behalf of Obama and the United States.

But they shouldn't be: they haven't been paying attention. During the campaign, in his march from liberal to the right, Obama vowed to expand President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative. In July, 2008, Obama proposed "Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships" that would include $500 million a year to faith-based service programs across the country. The plan would expand Bush’s programs that have been widely criticized for violating traditional separation of church and state by subsidizing religious institutions.

The Bush program also faced accusations of favoritism, especially toward evangelical groups. By appointing Warren, Obama is sending a message to those groups: the money will continue to flow, not only to the evangelicals but also to the African-American churches, not particularly rewarded in the Bush administration. As Obama subsidizes all religious institutions, the black churches will have the opportunity to catch up for past neglect. Honoring Warren is one way to begin the process. It won't be exactly a bailout, but it puts all the God-fearing on the gravy train. Let the strict constitutionalists worry.

On July 2, 2008, the Wall Street Journal printed an editorial entitled "Bush's Third Term" arguing that Obama was embracing a sizable chunk of President Bush's policy supporting retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies, backing off from immediate and complete US military withdrawal from Iraq, modifying his position on NAFTA, supporting the death penalty for rape, spending more money on faith-based charities, supporting the landmark controversial 1996 welfare reform etc. The Journal was obviously trying to diminish Obama but the honor to Warren gives their analysis some credibility.

However, calling Obama’s reign the equivalent of Bush's Third Term is too great a stretch, carrying the political analysis too far and insulting to the new president. There never was a president as inept as George W. Bush, who set records for incompetence and lack of understanding. Obama may fail to satisfy his basic constituency on some issues but he will know what he's doing at all times.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eliminating Nuclear Weapons

Eliminating Nuclear Weapons
By Jerome Grossman

In August 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, bringing death to 300,000 human beings, creating pain and endless suffering in the lives of countless others. Now nine countries have nuclear bombs; many more have the capacity to make them.

Today, there are, in combat readiness, enough bombs to kill the world population many times over….. And there is no defense. Nuclear war could happen any day - by accident, by design, by miscalculation, by terrorism, by madness. The weapons are still on hair-trigger alert, in this country and abroad.

The current review conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty proved that two groups of nations are in collision. The possessors of nuclear weapons want to stop the proliferators and proliferators demand that the nuclear powers reduce and eventually get rid of their own nuclear arsenals in accordance with their treaty commitments.

The United States needs to re-examine its policies that envision an active role for nuclear weapons in future wars and building a new generation of nuclear weapons. The American case against the nuclear weapons plans of Iran and North Korea would be greatly strengthened if the United States were to cut drastically its own stockpiles of nuclear weapons, abandon plans to build new nuclear weapons and approve the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

What happens in nuclear war?

1. Blast - creates enormous pressure, topples buildings and trees. Kills people by shock wave over pressure and wind, by flying debris, by throwing people against fixed objects and by crushing them in collapsing buildings.

2. Fireball - temperatures up to millions of degrees ignite raging fires and kill by flash-burn. People can be burned at great distances. Causes blindness

3. Prompt radiation - kills people close to the explosion by large dose. Smaller doses can cause acute delayed radiation sickness and possibly death. Affects future generations genetically.

4. Fallout radiation - spreads out to large distances, sometimes killing people hundreds of miles from explosion. Causes leukemia and other forms of cancer everywhere on Earth for decades. Increase incidences of stillbirth, tumors, congenital malformations and cataracts.

5. Environment - pollutes water, earth and air. Destroys forests and agriculture by heat and blast. Death by radiation of animals and birds, while radiation resistant bacteria, fungi, viruses and insects flourish.

6. Social disorganization – disruption of medical facilities and energy production, breakdown of government, authority and disaster relief, spreading of disease and epidemics. Fighting for scarce food supplies, despair at the enormous task of reconstruction - with the possibility of another nuclear war in the offing.

On the December 21, on the Fox Television News Sunday hosted by Chris Wallace, Vice President Richard Cheney, made the following stunning statement:

"The president of United States now for 50 years is followed at all times, 24 hours a day, by a military aide carrying a football that contains the nuclear codes that he would use and be authorized to use in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States. He could launch a kind of devastating attack the world's never seen. He doesn't have to check with anybody. He doesn't have to call the Congress. He doesn't have to check with the courts. He has that authority because of the nature of the world we live in."


Odiogo allows end-users to listen to content either on their PCs or on portable devices such as iPods, MP3 players or cellular phones.