Get your Rapture hats ready, kiddies! The sky is falling, and our wise gift of nuclear winter will propel us all into the loving arms of the all-knowing and all-everywhere G-d.


Sibel Edmonds: Congress Not Allowed to Receive Information from NSA Whistleblower: "“Here you have a responsible veteran intelligence officer who has been trying to reach out to the so-called appropriate channels, including the United States Congress, to appropriately and lawfully make disclosure of government wrongdoing; yet, as we have seen time and time again, these attempts prove to be futile. Amazingly enough, congressional representatives such as Senator Pat Roberts, the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) continue to mislead the public by making false statements regarding the availability of appropriate channels for whistleblowers to disclose government waste, fraud, abuse and/or criminal activities. We would like for Senator Roberts to come out, in light of all these documented cases of whistleblowers’ attempts to report to congress cases of agency wrongdoing, and explain to the public what he means by the ‘availability of appropriate channels for Intelligence whistleblowers to report other than the media’, and when will the system be fixed so we do not have to throw out the best in government to expose the misdeeds of the worst,” stated Sibel Edmonds, the director of National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC)."
In his letter, Mr. Tice stated that these acts involved the Director of the National Security Agency, the Deputies Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations, and the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and were conducted via very highly sensitive intelligence programs and operations known as Special Access Programs (SAP). SAP programs and operations are more commonly referred to as “black world” programs and operations (To read Mr. Tice’s Letter to Congress Click Here)

On January 09, 2006, NSA sent a letter addressed to Mr. Tice and asserted that no senators, congressmen or staff on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) or the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) possessed high enough security clearance to be briefed by Mr. Tice. (To read NSA’s letter to Mr. Tice Click Here)

Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI language specialist, was terminated from the bureau after reporting security breaches, cover-up, and blocking of intelligence with national security implications. Since that time, court proceedings in her whistleblower case have been blocked by the imposition of “State Secret Privilege,” and Congress has been prevented from discussion of her case through retroactive reclassification by the Department of Justice. Edmonds, fluent in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani; holds an MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, and a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University.

Contact Author

Big-Mouth Bush Told Clinton How To Handle OPEC

While on the campaign trail in 2000, Bush told President Bill Clinton how to handle OPEC, in public no less. “What I think the president ought to do," he said, "is he ought to get on the phone with the OPEC cartel and say we expect you to open your spigots."

And in a brilliant, highly educational follow-up comment, Bush informed the audience: "One reason why the price is so high is because the price of crude oil has been driven up."

"OPEC has gotten its supply act together," Bush advised listeners, "and it's driving the price, like it did in the past."

"And," he said in direct advice to Clinton, "the president of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the prices."

Apparently, Bush has lost the phone numbers for OPEC members, or they are refusing to take his calls, because I think its safe to assume that he did not "jawbone" members of the OPEC cartel.

That said, if Bush is not in the mood for "jawboning," he could at least use a little pillow talk with his buddies in Saudi Arabia and get them to open the spigots.

During campaign 2000, Bush told Americans that he had an energy plan that would reduce gas prices at the pumps and here we sit 5 years later, with the highest prices in history.

The high energy costs are affecting everyone, from commuters and consumers, to public and private programs. The damage is devastating everywhere.

Since Bush took office, gas prices have increased 62.5% from $1.44 per gallon in January 2001 to $2.34 in March 2006. The average household with children will spend about $3,343 on transportation fuel costs this year, an increase of 75% since 2001, according to the Energy Information Administration, Retail Gasoline Prices, and Household Vehicle Energy Use: Latest Data and Trends, November 2005.

And gas prices are still rising. As of April 24, 2006, the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge report said, nationally, the average price for a gallon of regular gas was $2.90, or a 15.5% hike over the $2.51 price per gallon a month ago.

So where is all the money going? One need not look far. In 2005, the world's largest oil company, Exxonmoblile, reported the most profitable year in US corporate history, earning more than $36 billion.

Economists say oil producers and refiners, not gas stations, are making a killing. The five largest refineries, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Valero, and British Petroleum (BP) have recorded $228 billion in profits since 2001, according to testimony at a congressional hearing last November.

In 1999, refiners made 23 cents for each gallon processed and in 2004, they made 41 cents a gallon, according to Department of Energy data.

The Bush administration has failed to take any action to deal with the crisis. Every day, American workers, consumers, and small businesses suffer with no solutions in sight. The response from the White House has been to claim that Americans are addicted to oil.

The tax breaks, if any, that average families received under Bush's tax cut program, have long ago been siphoned away at the pump. Yet, while traveling in California last weekend, Bush warned of even higher prices with vacation time approaching.

In a feeble attempt to appease the public this week, Bush said he will temporarily divert oil used to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve into the market to drive prices down.

Apparently acknowledging the act as a do-nothing remedy, Bush made the comment, "Every little bit counts."

I doubt that many people appreciated a snide remark like this coming from a guy who has never had to balance a checkbook, never had to worry about paying a heating bill or filling up the gas tank, but who now through some perverse twist of fate, maintains a stranglehold on the nation's purse strings.

Evelyn Pringle


Evelyn Pringle is an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.

--- ----
Question: What's the best form of birth control after 50?

Answer: Nudity.


Just Peacemaking (not warkmaking) in the Middle East
Glen Stassen  Oct 29, 2006

by Dr. Glen Stassen

I am writing this on September 11, 2002, just after morning worship at International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague. We prayed for victims of the attack one year ago, and for many families who will never be able to bury  loved ones lost then. As we celebrated the Lord's Supper, I meditated on how God enters into the midst of our lives, and our suffering, in Christ, who sat in the midst of his disciples as a community as he explained that he would give his body and his blood. Our text was Romans 12:1-2, "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind."

As I received the bread and the wine, I meditated on Christ as the initiator and pattern for that transformation. Christians are called to respond to September 11th differently from the world's ways of responding, but in ways transformed by Christ.

A Nation of New Realities
The attack, and the U.S. official response, have led to real changes in our nation's spirituality. We see this in some obvious realities: The United States is still in what could be called a war spirituality. Forty-billion dollars has been shifted to military spending, not including $28 billion in special appropriations for the cost of the war on Afghanistan, and special appropriations for Homeland Security, and appropriations to the Department of Energy to develop new, usable nuclear weapons and to prepare to resume nuclear bomb testing in violation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Money has been shifted away from programs for education, colleges, the needy, health insurance for children, and other human needs. State budgets are in deficit, so states are making more severe cuts in education and healthcare. Worship, teaching, and discussion in many churches, synagogues, and mosques have been narrowed in their breadth of focus, influenced by the shift in the culture, except that some have reached out to Muslims, thus creating that specific broadening of focus.

A degree of fear is in the back of the minds of many. At the time of this writing, the administration is raising momentum toward war with Iraq. If Iraq is invaded, the cost will likely be much more than the proxy war in Afghanistan. The government has shifted its Mideast policy, siding more with Ariel Sharon's military actions to suppress Palestinians and less with Palestinians' demand for dignity, justice, and a viable state. Other nations express distress at U.S. go-it-alone actions and withdrawal from treaties.

Another reality is the unrivaled military power of the United States. The U.S. military budget is larger than the next eight nations combined. The combination of overwhelming military and economic power weakens the ability of other nations to provide checks and balances against U. S. actions that they consider to be unwise or erroneous.

Furthermore, the spirituality of nationalism that has resulted from the shocking attack of 9-11 polarizes the national spirit and disinclines many from questioning the drift, in a way analogous to the polarization in Israel after far more, repeated, terrorist attacks. 

Just War, Pacifism, or Just Peacemaking?
Just war theory or pacifism (understood simply as the restraint of war) are not likely to provide satisfactory answers. Is it time to begin discussing initiatives that can decrease the resentment and anger that drive people to turn to terrorism? Is it time to turn to just peacemaking theory for help in suggesting preventive initiatives?

Just peacemaking theory is a third ethic that is now getting increasing support in Christian ethics. It is based first on Jesus' teachings of peacemaking, and second on practical political science research that shows these just peacemaking practices are working effectively and realistically to prevent many wars and much terrorism. It does not claim that everyone will agree with all of its implications, but it does claim that these practices work and can lead us in more constructive and effective directions. What alternatives does just peacemaking theory raise for discussion, and for Christians to be transformed by?

Nonviolent Direct Action
In Matt. 5:38ff, Jesus taught that instead of violent and revengeful resistance, we are to take nonviolent direct action. Turning the left cheek, giving your cloak, going the second mile, and giving to the one who begs are not passive compliance but nonviolent transforming initiatives that seek to restore a relationship of justice and peace, as I have explained in Just Peacemaking: Transforming Initiatives for Justice and Peace (Westminster/John Knox Press), chapter 3.

Arab and Muslim anger over injustice toward Palestinians, perceived as supported by the U.S. government, is the greatest source of widespread resentment, and a major factor in causing terrorism. More Palestinian leaders could call for a switch to nonviolent direct action instead of terrorism, like Sami Awad of Bethlehem, who spoke recently in a forum at Fuller Seminary.

Israel could choose one city where nonviolent direct action is being organized such as Bethlehem and reward it by giving the self-rule that the Oslo Accords promised. And then expand self-rule, step by step, wherever nonviolent action has some advocates. (Since I wrote this, Israel and Palestine have begun doing taking exactly these initiatives; either my e-mail is being bugged, or just peacemaking theory's initiatives strike others as realistic and much needed also. But it is crucial to keep the process going; presently it is blocked by hawks in the Israeli government. The U.S. needs to push firmly.)

The Strategy of Independent Initiatives or Trust-Building Measures
The strategy of independent initiatives or confidence-building measures is like Paul's teaching in Romans 12:20. If you have distrust with your enemy, take an initiative to decrease the distrust, like giving some food if your enemy is hungry, some drink if thirsty. One side takes an action (not mere words or promises) designed to decrease distrust or anger, like bringing home some roses when you want to build a better relationship.

The initiative should be visible, and must be on time. You announce in advance what and when it will happen, and you know realistically that hawks on one or the other side are likely to take an insulting action in advance in order to disrupt it, but you perform exactly as promised, because trust and de-escalation are the key. The initiative should not leave your side weak, but should decrease the perception of threat.

One initiative is not enough, because the trust is too embedded; a series of initiatives is needed. You invite reciprocation, and if it comes, you take more significant initiatives. If no reciprocation comes, you take small initiatives to keep the door open for reciprocation.

This strategy worked to rid the world of many of the nuclear weapons, to get the peace process in place in Northern Ireland, and to start the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine at Oslo--negotiations they had refused to enter into prior to the independent initiatives. 

-- What independent initiative could be taken now? Arafat did call effectively for a halt to terrorist attacks in December 15, 2001, and violence dropped to 20 percent of the previous level, for almost two months. Sharon, however, did not reciprocate, but instead attacked in retaliation against the remaining terrorism. The U.S. could press Arafat to take this initiative again, and this time the U.S. could act swiftly to ask firmly for Israeli reciprocation.

-- Palestinians say that more and more Palestinian land keeps being occupied by settlers, more and more Palestinian orchards and homes keep being bulldozed, more and more bypass roads that Palestinians cannot use, enforced by Israeli military, carve up their land so that they can hardly travel in their own land and the map of their land looks like a case of the measles. These settlements are lavishly subsidized by the Israeli government, so that land and utilities are free, etc.

Realism says peace will not come until these settlements are reversed. Polls show most Israelis know that and would support it. But realism also says that Ariel Sharon is not going to agree to give up the settlements: his nickname is "bulldozer," he himself is responsible for the settlement policy, and his political power depends on some parties of the right that are committed to the settlement policy. This is a classic vicious cycle of distrust.

-- The U.S. gives Israel several billion dollars each year. It should earmark a portion of the aid for buying settlers' homes at something like twice their value, thus reversing the financial incentives, contingent on the settlers returning to Israel and investing the money in housing there, so Israel does benefit from the investment. Not all settlers would sell, but polls indicate most would. Palestinians would finally see the momentum shifting toward reducing settlements rather than continuously proliferating them. With such a process progressing, why push terrorism?

-- Politicians need political support before they take initiatives. Here is a role for faith-based groups who want to push for specific and realistically possible peacemaking initiatives.

Conflict Resolution
The public expression of Jesus' instruction to go make peace with your adversary, to talk together, perhaps with the help of a third party (Matt. 5::24-25; 18:15ff.), is the practice of conflict resolution. Conflict resolution is instructive for relations with Iraq -- another major source of anger against the U.S. The right and reasonable U.S. and U.N. demand has been unhindered inspections and destruction of weapons of mass destruction, and ongoing monitoring thereafter.

But achieving that requires allowing inspections to be in the interest of the Iraqi government. That requires affirmation of the interest of the Iraqi government in its own survival. The Clinton administration, however, stated that even if inspections were successfully carried out, it would still seek to topple Hussein. And the U.S. blocked talks about easing the economic sanctions if the inspections go forward, declaring that even if Iraq allowed the inspections, the sanctions would still not be lifted. That removed the incentive for Saddam Hussein to allow inspections in hopes of a happier future.

The Bush administration has intensified the counter-productive demand, insisting on regime change and vetoing talks regardless of Iraq's request to talk about resuming inspections. Vice President Cheney said the U.S. should not seek inspections but instead seek war. This would be strong pressure on Iraq to allow inspections, if and only if Iraq believed inspections could lead to peace and economic growth.

Conflict resolution says the U.S. should offer peace if Iraq allows unhindered inspections and ongoing monitoring afterwards.

Justice: Support Sustainable Economic Development, Human Rights, and Democracy
Jesus teaches many times about justice for the poor and powerless. He often confronts the greedy and the dominating. Poverty with little hope for improvement, and dictatorial governments with little hope for peaceful change, are major causes of resentment , anger, and terrorist recruitment in the countries that terrorists come from.

President Bush has advocated a $5 billion increase in economic aid worldwide. That increase is a step in the right direction. It needs to be implemented in Afghanistan yesterday. The U.S. is presently the lowest per capita of the 20 richest nations in giving economic aid.

The U.S. should encourage the pro-democracy forces in Indonesia, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt rather than the pro-military and pro-authoritarianism forces. But seeing terrorism as a permanent war entices the U.S. government into alliances with the military forces in those countries, and the military forces are the main threat to democracy and human rights there.

Recall how the Indonesian military was guilty in the massacres of the people in the movements for democracy in East Timor until the United Nations forces led by Australia intervened to stop them. Recall how the military led the coup that overthrew democracy in Pakistan. Recall how it was the U.S. Army's occupation of Saudi Arabia--the land of Mecca--in order to make war against an Islamic nation, Iraq, that converted Osama Bin Laden to terrorism, and its continuing occupation there to this day as support for the present dictatorial government that enrages Saudis who want change.

Seeing the military as the main way to prevent terrorism undermines democratic movements in the very countries where democracy is most needed in order to prevent terrorism effectively.

Instead, just peacemaking theory, and the worldwide evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of just peacemaking practices in preventing war and terrorism, suggest that the U.S government should gently prod those governments toward democracy, not toward militarily supported authoritarianism.

Work With Cooperative Forces in the International System, Including the United Nations and Regional Organizations
Jesus interprets Leviticus 19:18 to include the enemy in the community of neighbors whom we are to love (Matt 5:43ff.). Many cooperative forces have been building networks between nations so that enemies as well as friends are being included in the international community in which they interact each day and develop interests in dealing with each other respectfully.

Examples are world missions, the richly international student body at Fuller, e-mail and the internet, world travel (I am writing this from the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague, international trade, the spread of human rights and democracy, the United Nations and regional organizations in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe, and the network of international treaties that provide order in the international system.

This is the public institutionalization of what Jesus taught: include your enemies in your community of neighbors. Newspapers are full of accounts of opposition by almost all other nations against unilateral initiation of war by the United States against Iraq, and full of the results of polls and interviews of people in other nations that are angry at the United States for renouncing numerous treaties and for announcing unilateral plans to attack Iraq. Most all of the national security advisors of the President Bush the father have urged President Bush the son not to make war without international approval.

President George W. Bush campaigned for the presidency by arguing that the U.S. needs a more humble foreign policy. Would not a humble foreign policy mean listening to the cooperative forces in the international system? Would not making war in the face of all the international opposition, after having rejected the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban treaty, the Biological Weapons Treaty, the International Criminal Court, and the Kyoto Accords, while bypassing the United Nations, be the opposite of humility and a way to tear up the international networks that are preventing many wars?

Other nations are already using the word "arrogant" to describe U.S. policies, and it is fueling the rage behind recruitment to terrorism. Just peacemaking theory argues that the U.S. should respect the wisdom of the other nations.

Instead of choosing war, it should pay attention to the widespread international consensus that it should support reinstitution of inspections by stating clearly that successful inspections can result in peace for Iraq.

Effective combating of terrorism requires deeper thinking than only pushing military repression of terrorism. The practices of just-peacemaking theory, all of which have in fact prevented wars, suggest a turn to include preventive initiatives in the repertoire. Police action, yes; preventive action, definitely yes.

Glen Stassen is Lewis Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, and author/editor of Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War (Pilgrim Press: 1998).


One GOP Man- One Vote

Here's how the 2006 mid-term election was stolen.

Note the past tense. And I'm not kidding.

By Greg Palast

11/07/06 "
Information Clearing House" -- -- And shoot me for saying this, but it won't be stolen by jerking with the touch-screen machines (though they'll do their nasty part). While progressives panic over the viral spread of suspect computer black boxes, the Karl Rove-bots have been tunneling into the vote vaults through entirely different means.

For six years now, our investigations team, at first on assignment for BBC TV and the Guardian, has been digging into the nitty-gritty of the gaming of US elections. We've found that November 7, 2006 is a day that will live in infamy. Four and a half million votes have been shoplifted. Here's how they'll do it, in three easy steps:

Theft #1: Registrations gone with the wind.

On January 1, 2006, while America slept off New Year's Eve hangovers, a new federal law crept out of the swamps that has devoured 1.9 million votes, overwhelmingly those of African-Americans and Hispanics. The vote-snatching statute is a cankerous codicil slipped into the 2002 Help America Vote Act -- strategically timed to go into effect in this mid-term year. It requires every state to reject new would-be voters whose identity can't be verified against a state verification database.

Sounds arcane and not too threatening. But look at the numbers and you won't feel so fine. About 24.3 million Americans attempt to register or re-register each year. The New York University Law School's Brennan Center told me that, under the new law, Republican Secretaries of State began the year by blocking about one in three new voters.

How? To begin with, Mr. Bush's Social Security Administration has failed to verify 47% of registrants. After appeals and new attempts to register, US Elections Assistance Agency statistics indicate 1.9 million would-be voters will still find themselves barred from the ballot on Tuesday.

But don't worry: those holding passports from their ski vacations to Switzerland are doing just fine. And that's the point. It's not the number of voters rejected, it’s their color. For example, California's Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson figured out how to block 40% of registrants, mostly Hispanics. In a rare counter-move, Los Angeles, with a Hispanic mayor, contacted these citizens, "verified" them and got almost every single one back on the rolls. But throughout the rest of the West, new Hispanics remain victims of the "José Crow" treatment.

In hotly contested Ohio, Kenneth Blackwell, Secretary of State and the Republican's candidate for Governor, remains voter-rejection champ -- partly by keeping the rejection criteria a complete secret.

Theft #2: Turned Away - the ID game

A legion of pimple-faced Republicans with Blackberries loaded with lists of new voters is assigned to challenge citizens in heavily Black and Hispanic(i.e. Democratic) precincts to demand photo ID that perfectly matches registration data.

Sounds benign, but it's not. The federal HAVA law and complex new ID requirements in states like New Mexico will easily allow the GOP squads to triple the number of voters turned away. Rather than deny using these voter suppression tactics, Republican spokesmen are claiming they are "protecting the integrity of the vote."

I've heard that before. In 2004, we got our hands on fifty confidential internal memos from the files of the Republican National Committee. Attached to these were some pretty strange spreadsheets. They called them "caging lists" -- and it wasn't about zoo feeding times. They were lists (70,000 for Florida alone) of new Black and Jewish voters -- a very Democratic demographic -- to challenge on Election Day. The GOP did so with a vengeance: In 2004, for the first time in half a century, more than 3.5 million voters were challenged on Election Day. Worse, nearly half lost their vote: 300,000 were turned away for wrong ID; 1.1 million were allowed a "provisional" ballot -- which was then simply tossed out.

Tomorrow, new federal ID requirements and a dozen new state show-me-your-ID laws will permit the GOP challenge campaign to triple their 300,000 record to nearly one million voters blocked.

Theft #3: Votes Spoiled Rotten

The nasty little secret of US elections is that three million ballots are cast in national elections but not counted -- 3,600,380 not counted in 2004 according to US Election Commission stats. These are votes lost because a punch card didn't punch (its chad got "hung"), a stray mark voided a paper ballot and other machinery glitches.

Officials call it "spoilage." I call it, "inaugurating Republicans." Why? According to statisticians working with the US Civil Rights Commission, the chance your vote will "spoil" this way is 900% higher for Black folk and 500% higher for Hispanics than for white voters. When we do the arithmetic, we find that well over half of all votes spoiled or "blank" are cast by voters of color. On balance, this spoilage game produces a million-vote edge for the GOP.

That's where the Black Boxes come into play. Forget about Karl Rove messing with the software to change your vote. Rather, the big losses occur when computers crash, fail to start or simply don't respond to your touch. They are the new spoilage machines of choice with, statistically, the same racial bias as the old vote-snatching lever machines. (Funny, but paper ballots with in-precinct scanners don't go rotten on Black voters. Maybe that's why Republican Secretaries of State have installed so few of them.)

So Let's Add it Up

Two million legitimate voters will be turned away because of wrongly rejected or purged registrations.

Add another one million voters challenged and turned away for "improper ID."

Then add yet another million for Democratic votes "spoiled" by busted black boxes and by bad ballots.

And let's not forget to include the one million "provisional" ballots which will never get counted. Based on the experience of 2004, we know that, overwhelmingly, minority voters are the ones shunted to these baloney ballots.

And there's one more group of votes that won't be counted: absentee ballots challenged and discarded. Elections Assistance Agency data tell us a half million of these absentee votes will go down the drain.

Driving this massive suppression of the vote are sophisticated challenge operations. And here I must note that the Democrats have no national challenge campaign. That's morally laudable; electorally suicidal.

Add it all up -- all those Democratic-leaning votes rejected, barred and spoiled -- and the Republican Party begins Election Day with a 4.5 million-vote thumb on the vote-tally scale.

So, what are you going to do about it? May I suggest you … steal back your vote.

It's true you can't win with 51% of the vote anymore. So just get over it. The regime's sneak attack via vote suppression will only net them 4.5 million votes, about 5% of the total. You should be able to beat that blindfolded. If you can't get 55%, then you're just a bunch of crybaby pussycats who don't deserve to win back America.

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, "Armed Madhouse."

Protect Our Votes
An unprecedented election protection movement has risen up to monitor the 2006 Election Day—

Top Outrage:

Get Ready for the GOP Sore Loser Attack

THIS IS ALREADY A STORY: Voter intimidation and suppression campaigns are more extensive and intense in 2006 than in past elections. (For the first time ever, the FBI has appointed "election coordinators".)

NOW MAKE THIS THE STORY: Voter intimidation and suppression campaigns in the 2006 election overwhelmingly target Democrats and are more extensive and intense this year. Voter intimidation and suppression campaigns targeted against:

Outrages We're Monitoring:

Long lines, broken machines in Democratic areas

We've already explained that Democratic areas are getting hit the worst by voting machine break downs and long lines. We're going to try to build out a list of all the areas being effected:

More to come - help us fill out our list by emailing links to stories to

Minority Vote Suppressed in Ohio

In 2004, African American voters in Ohio reported waiting an average of 52 minutes to vote, three times the average wait overall. More than half of African American voters reported problems casting their ballots in 2004.

In 2006, the African American voters in Ohio are once again disproportionally experiencing difficulties casting their votes. Given the overall increase in polling place problems, we can assume it's even worse for African American voters.

  • "In one elementary school in the predominantly black district of East Cleveland, Ohio, all 12 machines went down when voting opened at 6:30 am (1130 GMT), according to an AFP correspondent at the scene." Link
  • "More than 40 polling places in Cuyahoga County," another area with a significant African American population, "reported problems with some or all of their electronic voting machines this morning." Link

MoveOn Offers $250,000 Reward for Evidence Leading to Voter Fraud Conviction Political Action is offering a $250,000 reward for new material evidence leading to a felony conviction for an organized effort of partisan voter suppression or electronic voting fraud.

Throughout the day accusations of election fraud and voter suppression incidents have been flooding into state and federal authorities throughout the country. In Virginia, the FBI has launched a criminal investigation into charges of voter suppression. In 20 Congressional districts, NRCC robocalls appearing to have come from Democrats harassed voters with repeated calls in an apparently coordinated campaign to suppress the vote.

Complementing an earlier reward for whistleblowers, MoveOn’s reward is being offered to anyone who provides this information.

Send tips to:

Contact: Trevor Fitzgibbon, Laura Gross, Alex Howe, 202-822-5200

Polling place delays hurt Democrats

As in many other cities, voters in Denver are waiting hours to vote and many are turning away. Even the Colorado Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Bill Ritter, had to wait 1 hour and 45 minutes in line. Fair Vote Colorado is maintaining updated wait times at poll locations -- some are as long as 3 hours.

In 2004, Denver's county went 70% for Kerry. Urban precincts tend to lean Democratic. They are also disproportionately hit by voting delays.

Get Ready for the GOP Sore Loser Attack

THIS IS ALREADY A STORY: Voter intimidation and suppression campaigns are more extensive and intense in 2006 than in past elections. (For the first time ever, the FBI has appointed "election coordinators".)

NOW MAKE THIS THE STORY: Voter intimidation and suppression campaigns in the 2006 election overwhelmingly target Democrats and are more extensive and intense this year. Voter intimidation and suppression campaigns targeted against:

10 Am: Early Sampling of Election Violations

The Election Incident Reporting System (EIRS) is a "sophisticated voting incident tracking system" with thousands of volunteers out in the field. The citations below are just a few of thousands of reports already posted on the site as of 10am this morning.

Long Lines
Allegheny County, PA: Incident #1365
"Problems with voting machines caused very long lines and he had to leave to get to work and was not able to vote. Was very upset because this has happened to him before and it's going to prevent other people from voting if they can't fix problems "

Machine Problems
Sarasota County, FL: Incident #139
"LOST VOTES: 5 people cast votes on ES&S touch screen machines for the Democratic Congressional candidate but when the summary page/audit came up, that vote did not appear at all; after complaining they were eventually able to verify their votes for the candidate; however this has happened to at least 5 individuals all of whom were voting for the Democratic candidate ES&S touch screens were blank complained; they eventually saw a vote after the audit;"

Voters Turned Away
Miami-Dade County, FL: Incident #1665
"Precinct 227 was closed and voters were sent to Precinct 222 where they were being turned away."

For more reports go to Election Incidents Reporting System

Robo Calls Big Local News Story

Here's a sampling:

Nov 7: Seattle Times: Robo-calls rile voters; maybe that's the goal

Nov 7: Times Herald Record - Robo-calls slam Democrats before vote

Nov 7: Livingston MI Daily: Lawmakers must ban annoying 'robo-calls'

Nov 6: Times Herald Record - Repeat 'robo calls' mar end of the Hall-Kelly campaign

Nov 6: Milwaukee Journal Sentinal - Repeat 'robo-calls' alleged

Nov 6: Chanel 49 Topeka - Local voters fed up with Robo Calls

Nov 6: The Indiana Star: Recorded calls a campaign issue

8:00AM Voter Intimidation Press Roundup


Nov 7: Times Dispatch - FBI looks into voter intimidation
(Click to listen to the voicemail threatening voter with arrest.)


Nov 7: Chattanoogan - Do Republicans Think Black Voters Are Stupid?


Nov 7: AP - Mo. Elections Chief in Election Dispute

Nov 7: Columiba Missourian - Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is asked for ID while voting

Polls Open!

One of the first things we're working on this morning is a complete list of stories of voter intimidation that are popping up in local newspapers and other trusted sources. Please send links to

How to record a robo call

Those robo-calls on your voice mail are important evidence of voter suppression. There's an easy way to record them on your computer and send the sound file to blogs and election protection groups. Here's how:

On a PC click:

You may not know it, but there is probably a microphone built into your laptop or even desktop PC. Try recording your voice and see it if works. You might see a pinhole on the front or side of your laptop -- that's probably your mic. (If you have trouble recording, then try plugging in a real microphone into the mic jack. Another thing you can try is to go into the volume control and see if the mic needs to be un-muted.)

Now, all you have to do is hold the phone up close to your PC's mic. If you have a speaker phone, then just put it near your computer and that should do it.

Sound Recorder will record up to about a minute. It saves a "WAV" file on your computer that you can email as an attachment. Email it to with your personal information and location.

Annoying Robo Calls or Illegal Voter Suppression?

ALREADY A STORY: Republicans are blanketing key Congressional districts with annoying robo calls. Listen to one here. These calls may result in post-election fines because they do not properly identify themselves early in the script and may also be violating caller id requirements.

NOT YET A STORY: These calls may be a coordinated effort to suppress the vote. What's the difference between annoying robo calls and voter suppression? Many voters are reporting that the robo callers are calling back immediately when they hang up. The first words of the robo calls are "Hi, I'm calling with information about [Democratic Candidate's Name]..." followed by a short pause. Therefore, voters receiving these calls could think they are being called repeatedly by the Democratic campaign or a group supporting the campaign.

MISSING PIECE: For this to break through, there needs to be visual evidence that voters are being called back immediately. Bloggers: please tell your readers to get video cameras ready and start rolling when the phone rings. Use the speaker phone so that the call can be heard. We need just one example of that up on YouTube and

Even better would be emails leaked from the robo call house responsible (or any robo call house for that matter) that offer the service or mention the strategy in question.

(Thanks TPMMuckraker & G2Geek.)

See you Tuesday, 6:00 AM SHARP! will go live at 6:00 AM Eastern Time on Election Day.

Go sign up at

Tens of thousands of citizens will be monitoring polling places with video and posting documented problems at and YouTube. If you have a video camera, you can particpate. By making video evidence immedaitely visible to all, VideoTheVote will make it harder for election violation stories to die before making it to print in the media. Please grab your camera and go sign yourself up at

Protect Our Votes
An unprecedented election protection movement has risen up to monitor the 2006 Election Day—involving dozens of organizations and thousands of small-group and individual efforts. The experience of 2000 and 2004 shows that if Election Day violations do not become headlines immediately, there is little chance they ever will. The mission of is to highlight the most serious violations as soon as they are discovered and to place them immediately in context for journalists along with all available trusted documentation.
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My opinion is 'virtually!' non-existent here; Have not even read the story/s;
--okay I succumbed to reading page two, woe is me, repentant sinner!--
Cannot delve into this detour 'today'... just clipping the article, for
my imminent consumption, and perhaps a gust of commentary from you.
Sorry! that's all I've got for today.  Ciao4now!  JEFF

It's hard to believe, but Bush does disdain evangelicals.

Little Initiative

by Amy Sullivan
Only at TNR Online | Post date 10.19.06
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Early Monday morning, a tell-all book from a former Bush White House official hit Washington like a small explosion, generating at least a color orange political threat level. Here was a conservative Republican, someone who had been on the inside of the president's signature domestic policy agenda of the first term, leveling damaging accusations of hypocrisy, wide-scale manipulation, and deceit. Conservatives reacted accordingly. They charged the traitor, former Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives David Kuo, with timing the book to do maximum damage in the midterm elections, and they compared him to Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. "What David Kuo is saying about the President and his efforts," said David Contreras, Texas director of the Council on Faith in Action, "is nothing more than a cynical attempt to sell books and line his pockets with 30 pieces of silver [a reference to the payment Judas received for turning Jesus over to the Pharisees.]"...

The Plank
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by Marty Peretz
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6:24 p.m., 10.30.06
Liberal v. progressive

8:08 p.m. 10.29.06
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10:35 a.m., 10.30.06


The God That Never Failed

by Alan Wolfe 1 | 2
Post date 10.30.06 | Issue date 11.06.06
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Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction
By David Kuo
(Free Press, 283 pp., $25)
Click here to purchase the book.


Tempting Faith is the story of how David Kuo, an unassuming if ambitious young man, discovered the wonder-filled joy flowing from devotion to a force more powerful than himself. I don't mean that he found God, although Kuo, by his own account, first encountered Jesus in high school. When Kuo tells us how he got "hooked," the object of his reverence lived not in Nazareth, but in Austin. "He seemed not just charming, but weighty, seductive yet pure, likeable but mysterious," he writes of his first meeting with then-governor George W. Bush. "I couldn't tell whether his disclosures were private revelations to someone he liked or just part of a pitch to someone he might need. I didn't much care. I loved him." 


Neither theological brilliance nor grace-earning humility on the governor's part caused Kuo to succumb. It was all about the bottle. "Watching him, I couldn't miss the evidence of the former drunk, the lost soul who had fallen to his knees sobbing before God; the sinner who had become God's own." For Kuo, being a Christian means sharing your journey. "When Christians like me share the stories of how we came to believe in Jesus and what his presence means in our lives," he writes, "it is called a testimony. It is deeply personal, deeply intimate, and shared with fellow Christians as well as with those we hope are open to accepting Jesus." Bush's testimony--how he lost his way, how Billy Graham pointed him in the right direction--established his sincerity. My goodness, Kuo goes on, you just had to see the man when his path crossed with that of an addict. "Any swagger disappeared. Something softer and perhaps more genuine took its place. He listened to each story and nodded. He seemed more like a counselor than a politician. When this happened--just a few times I was around--he didn't hurry and didn't rush. It was one of the more Christ-like things I have ever seen a powerful man do." This is Noonanism with a born-again face. For Kuo, Karl Rove is "nice" and has "a soft heart," Karen Hughes is filled with "sensitivity," and even Dick Cheney has "a surprising jocularity." Surprising, indeed.


The hoopla surrounding Kuo's book focuses on his tell-all tidbits about what the insiders in the Bush administration really thought about all those crazy Christians who happened to make Bush president. These believers, Kuo tells us, were seduced by power. They put aside their religious ideals--especially the elusive truth that Jesus speaks to deeper and more permanent things than tax cuts and tariffs--in return for trinkets: presidential paperweights that they could show their friends, or, for the most influential souls, private meetings in the Oval Office. In so doing, says the penitent Kuo, they got their priorities all wrong. They should have ranked spirit and family over political power. Because they did not, they alienated themselves from others who shared their faith in Christ but not their political agenda. 

Yet Kuo's story of political seduction is, in the final analysis, a story about himself. Even after he left the White House, where he served as deputy director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, his God never failed. Invited back to Washington to attend the first National Faith-Based Conference, Kuo listened as Bush lied through his teeth, claiming credit for making faith-based initiatives central to his presidency (when the subject had been relegated to the back burner for fear of offending moderates) and citing wildly inflated figures for how much the administration was spending on the poor (when Kuo had told Bush that spending on faith-based initiatives had actually declined since the days of Clinton and Gore). But none of this shook Kuo's faith in the man. Although claiming to have been "crushed" by Bush's "deception," Kuo quickly brushes aside such disturbing thoughts. "Did he ever care about his antipoverty agenda?" he writes of Bush. "Personally, I doubt he could have cared more. His empathy couldn't be faked." He was, after all, a recovering alcoholic. "George W. Bush loves Jesus. He is a good man." 

Tempting Faith is in its way a significant book, not for what it teaches about the Machiavellians in the White House--surely there are no longer any surprises to be had on that front--but for what we learn about young, idealistic, and phenomenally naïve Christians such as David Kuo. It is not an analysis of a mentality, but a documentation of it. To be sure, there is no doubting Kuo's sincerity. His faith in God is unwavering. He is truly committed to good work on behalf of the poor. He did eventually leave the White House, and with the publication of this book he testifies to the cynicism that he found there. But his recovered righteousness is itself a kind of alibi. For people like him served as enablers for one of the most immoral presidencies Americans have ever endured. If we are to know what makes Bush so bad, we need to know more about why people who are so good could ever have been seduced by him.  

And not just seduced. Kuo, whose goodness is as self-evident as it is a tad creepy, continues to defend Bush after this most self-professed of Christian presidents robbed the poor to pay the rich, broke his covenant with the Framers who wrote the Constitution of the United States, launched the first war of choice in our history since Polk attacked Mexico or McKinley attacked Spain, justified torture without a qualm of conscience, and, to top it all off, wound up treating his Christian supporters with a contempt that would put the most determined secular humanist to shame.  



So much has been written about the role that religion plays in politics that we tend to forget that there is no such thing as "religion." There are, rather, religions, each of which has its own god or gods, prophets, holy texts, commandments, ways of worship, theories of interpretation, inventories of sins, and conceptions of the afterlife. Kuo's religion is of a very particular kind. Born-again Christians tend not to be liturgical in their religious practices; spontaneity of expression takes priority over never-changing ritual. They are not given to excessive theological exegesis; the text of the Bible tells them all they need to know. They generally prefer their rock music to Bach and Handel. Compared with Catholics, they are distrustful of hierarchy. Compared with Jews, they emphasize belief over observance. Compared with their mainline Protestant brethren, they worship with enthusiasm. And compared with every other religion on the face of the earth, they judge sincerity by the power of the stories that they tell each other. 

Early in his career, Kuo found himself in the presence of John Ashcroft, who had been elected a senator from Missouri and needed people to work on his staff. During the interview, Kuo told Ashcroft how his father, an immigrant from China, was twice rejected for a visa to enter the United States. On his third attempt, a man came out of a side office and whispered something into the ear of the consular official who decided these things, and suddenly his dad was approved for entry. "My father never saw the man's name, never saw him again," Kuo informed the senator. "He believed it was an angel. I told Ashcroft I believed it, too." And Ashcroft replied, "How could you not?"

Then Ashcroft offered a testimony of his own. His father, a minister in an Assemblies of God church, came to see his son sworn in as a senator. The idea was proposed that for an event as solemn as this one, Ashcroft should be anointed with oil. Some Crisco was found, and Ashcroft's father, ailing heart and all, tried to rise from his sofa to conduct the ceremony. "You don't need to stand," Ashcroft told him. "John," his father replied, "I am not struggling to stand. I am struggling to kneel." Kneel he did, and, having anointed his son, he flew back to Missouri and died the very next day. 

One of the most interesting aspects of these stories is that they are not true. As it happens, Kuo knew full well that no angel had intervened on behalf of his father; the elder Kuo had made a friend during World War II whose wife was a rich and powerful heiress, and it was through her connections that Kuo's father got his visa. Ashcroft is a bit more truthful: he was sworn into the Senate on January 3, 1995, and his father died on January 5--two days later, not one. But why obsess about the details? The point of testimony is to wonder about the wonder of it all. You are not supposed to interrupt Kuo's narrative to ask if human beings have more influence than angels. Telling a few pious white lies is fine so long as the larger truth about God's power to direct our lives is made. 


Kuo's book concerns the way religious leaders were seduced by power, but it is clear from the stories he tells that evangelicals, given the role testimony plays in their lives, are far more seducible than most. John DiIulio, the political scientist who served as Kuo's first boss in the White House, provides an interesting contrast. To be sure, DiIulio, after leaving the White House and saying the first truly damning things about the Bush administration, soon thereafter praised the president as "a highly admirable person of enormous personal decency"; but this resembled a Rubashov-like recantation more than it did Kuo's wide-eyed innocence. Naïveté is just not something we associate with the streetwise Catholicism in which DiIulio was raised. Catholics have had seventeen hundred years of direct involvement with government: they are not easily surprised by political power and how it works. A realist if there ever was one, DiIulio allowed himself to be recruited by Bush, worked on his plan for faith-based initiatives for six months, correctly read the less-than-enthusiastic handwriting on the wall, and returned to academia. He never lost his innocence, because he had no innocence to lose. 

Kuo, on the other hand, stayed on in the White House long after DiIulio left, repeatedly insisting to himself that he was not going to fall for the tricks being played on him every day--and then fell for all of them, one after another. Even after a car crash nearly cost him his life and led to the discovery of a brain tumor, Kuo remained sweetly on the job, only to be used again. The Bushies, now interested in mobilizing their base, wanted proof that religious groups were being treated unfairly because they were not allowed to discriminate in hiring. Kuo dutifully carried out the research, only to discover that almost no one ever sued a religious organization on grounds of discrimination. "Honey," a female black minister told one of Kuo's colleagues, "if you can't figure out someone's religion without asking them the question, well, then you just stupid." (Evidently, streetwise African American Protestants are just as practical in affairs of state as world-weary Catholics). Finally Kuo, exhausted and dispirited, turned in his resignation. His wife "was waiting for me in the West Wing lobby. I took her hand, left the building, looked back at the beautiful place where I had been blessed to work, gave her a kiss, and we walked through the gates back into life."  

Next: "Unlike people from religious traditions with long histories of involvement with politics, evangelicals have no firm foundation in history, theology, or experience against which they can judge the words that so easily come out of the mouths of politicians."

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The God That Never Failed

by Alan Wolfe 1 | 2
Post date 10.30.06 | Issue date 11.06.06
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Unlike people from religious traditions with long histories of involvement with politics, evangelicals have no firm foundation in history, theology, or experience against which they can judge the words that so easily come out of the mouths of politicians. Sincerity, for them, is everything, which is another way of saying that facts are nothing. The proof of their faith is its credulity. After he went to work for Ashcroft--yes, he got the job--Kuo, like many young evangelicals recruited by Republican conservatives, began to hear about that governor down in Texas with the famous first and last names. Bush, these enthusiastic idealists told each other, was born-again just like they were. Kuo relates a story about how, on a visit to a prison, Governor Bush had heard some of the inmates singing "Amazing Grace" and immediately joined in, swaying arm-in-arm with a convicted murderer. Lo and behold, six years later the convict, now a janitor in a Houston church, shows up at the White House to meet the president. Once he has found Jesus, Kuo preaches, "even the most 'hopeless' person could be forever changed."  

Skeptical people will read this tale and wonder how a convicted murderer found himself released from prison in hard-nosed Texas. They might also ask why Bush never met with another Texas inmate--the axe-wielding Karla Faye Tucker, who had been changed forever by her born-again conversion--or showed even the slightest interest in her redemption; if anything, Bush, according to Tucker Carlson, mocked her pleas for mercy. But these are not matters that Kuo, the puerile anti-skeptic, addresses. Bush begins and ends his day with prayer, and that, for Kuo, settles the matter. "As a professing fellow believer in Jesus," he writes of Bush, "I trusted him." A majority of Americans no longer do, but then a majority of Americans are not evangelicals.

"Everyone comes to politics," Kuo remarks, "with a particular set of spiritual or philosophical beliefs motivating them--beliefs about the nature of man and the nature of government, whether derived from Jesus or David Hume, Moses or Rousseau, Kierkegaard, Camus, or Homer Simpson." This is nonsense. Hume--or, for that matter, Homer Simpson--demanded proof. Kuo never does. A lying Christian? It is just not possible. A man who oozes sincerity but is about as insincere as a man can be? The ironic stuff of literature, perhaps; but such complications, such truths, play no role in Kuo's happy imagination. Born-again Christians are not merely biblical literalists. If Kuo is any example, they are existential literalists, too--so totally lacking in irony that not to hoodwink them would be to leave them disappointed. 



Without foundations for making judgments, evangelicals such as Kuo can persuade themselves about matters of significance that cannot pass even the most basic historical or philosophical tests. Kuo's "patron saint" is William Wilberforce, the evangelical leader of the Clapham sect who did so much to bring about the abolition of the British slave trade. "If slavery had been the moral issue for Christians in the nineteenth century," he writes, "abortion was the same for many late twentieth-century Christians." Abortion was the issue that brought about Kuo's political awakening. While studying at Tufts University, Kuo had helped his girlfriend obtain one, only to feel so guilty that he helped create a pro-life group at the school. Even as he accepted an internship with Senator Edward Kennedy--"I loved him," Kuo characteristically gushes--he started moving to the right. "Just like William Wilberforce, I became an advocate for the ultimately forgotten, in this case, the unborn."  

The fact that Kuo saw an equivalence between opposition to slavery and opposition to abortion says volumes about the difficulty that so many evangelicals have in making sharp distinctions. Many evangelicals insist to this day that their campaign against abortion is the moral equivalent of the abolitionist campaign against slavery. Those leaders were evangelicals, too; they point to such figures as Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose father was indeed the leading evangelical preacher of his era. They also sided with the weak against the powerful. They were as uncompromising with respect to their principles as leaders of the religious right are today. Regrettably, some anti-abortion activists resort to violence, but so, after all, did John Brown. Right-wing Republicans today are finishing the business begun by yesterday's social reformers. 

Are they really? Equating abortion and slavery is the kind of analogy that appeals to people who prefer sincerity to reality. Let us grant that today's anti-abortion activists are as sincere in their desire to prevent the destruction of fetuses as William Lloyd Garrison was in his desire to abolish the South's peculiar institution. But everything else about the analogy falls apart. Slavery was a social system that trapped its victims through coercion and custom; abortion is the result of a decision made by an individual. People argue about whether a fetus is a full human being; but no one, as Abraham Lincoln liked to point out, disputed whether a slave was. Abortion represents a clash between two goods, the right of personal autonomy and the potential birth of a human being; slavery was evil and represented no good at all. Pro-life activists have every right to mobilize themselves on behalf of their political beliefs, but they do not have the right to claim historical predecessors so different from themselves. True of any contemporary group in general, this is especially true of evangelicals in particular. White Southerners whose favorite politicians appeal to latent Confederate sensibilities are not exactly in the best position to claim the moral mantle of those who understood, quite correctly, that the existence of slavery in the Southern states was a rebuke to every principle for which America stood. 

Eventually Kuo would realize that the analogy that inspired his right-wing activism was inappropriate. "I suppose that as much as I wanted to be an American Wilberforce by ending abortion, I couldn't equate abortion and slavery," he writes. "Yes, I was still pro-life. But abortion wasn't slavery and it certainly wasn't, as some suggested, like the Holocaust. It simply wasn't murder." Kuo's account of his transformation on this issue is drearily matter-of-fact. There is no sudden moment of revelation, no blinding new insight, no shedding of the old ideas to take on the new. This is not the way Catholics break with their church, or communists with their party. One day Kuo believed one thing about a potent moral issue, and the next day he believed something else. One day he worked for Teddy Kennedy, the next day he found a position with John Ashcroft. One day he believed that Christians should jump into politics, the next day he did not. "It is easy to say that I became a Republican because I went through a religious conversion, felt guilty about an abortion, or just needed a job," he writes. "These things are all true." Kuo is above all else an evangelical, and he feels no obligation to explain why he changed his mind in any way that relies on logic, fact, or analysis. His testimony alone should suffice. 



In the concluding chapter of his unwittingly revealing book, Kuo proposes that Christians should engage in a "fast" from politics. Fasting, he points out, has long been associated with the life of the spirit. Christians should simply take a break from political involvement; two years--no more, no less--will do. While fasting, they can rediscover that "Christ alone is the answer and our desire." America will not lose its soul while they are going hungry, and once the fast is over they can return to public life with a better sense of how to balance the spiritual and the political. 

The idea of a two-year fast from politics is pure Kuoism. By proposing it, Kuo need never address the intellectually challenging question of whether politics and religion corrupt each other in some ultimate sense. His fast simply represents a temporary leave of absence from the already low level of thinking that evangelicals such as himself have given to the dance of politics and religion. Two years is perfect in this regard--long enough to seem sacrificial, short enough to guarantee that no serious reflection will take place (and that one can still get back in the game). If further proof were required that Kuo lacks the mental gravity to deal with the profound questions stemming from his own experience, this stunt should furnish it.

Before he wrote Tempting Faith, Kuo should have read Darryl Hart's recently published book Secular Faith. Hart is an evangelical scholar [oops! oxymoron? /js] who thinks seriously and eloquently about the dilemmas that Kuo glibly avoids. His book offers the single best critique of the religious right's involvement in politics that I have read, at least in part because it comes from a man whose credentials as a conservative Christian are impeccable. Yes, evangelicals were deeply involved in social reform in the nineteenth century, as Hart acknowledges--but then he brings to life the ideas of Stuart Robinson (1814-1881), a Presbyterian from Kentucky who argued that they should not be so involved, and that politics and religion should be kept apart for their mutual benefit.  

Hart's book reminds us of the extent to which evangelical Protestants, despite their current alliance with Catholics in opposition to abortion, once denounced Catholicism for its clericalist proclivities, just as it warns that the enthusiasm with which so many Protestant sects welcomed democracy in the nineteenth century came at the cost of confusing the authority of God with the authority of the people. "The state's purpose," writes Hart, summarizing the ideas of past Christian thinkers who have all but been forgotten, "is justice.... The church's purpose is mercy.... To confuse the two is to misconstrue the bad cop (the state) and the good cop (the church). The difference is really not that hard to grasp, except perhaps for those believers who would like the church to have the trappings of the state and for citizens who would like politics to fill a spiritual void." 

Hart may not be correct that the distinction between the one realm and the other is easy to grasp. David Kuo certainly fails to grasp it, as do all those political opportunists masquerading as religious leaders with whom he broke. Unlike Pat Robertson and James Dobson, Kuo has parted ways with the Bush administration. But just like them, he confuses the realm of God with the realm of politics. "History, mystique, and the palpable sense of power are inspiring, surreal, and wonder filled," he writes upon entering not a church, but the White House. "Everything felt different. The carpet felt plusher and the couches softer. I watched serious staffers stride purposefully through the doors and tried to imagine what important things they were doing." Stuart Robinson, J. Gresham Machen, and all the other conservative Christians about whom Hart writes would have been appalled. Idolatry, for a believer, is a grave sin. Worshipping secular symbols is surely an idolatry.  


Kuo's book does make one important contribution to America's current debate over evangelicalism's involvement in politics. Most warnings against the blending of religion and politics these days come not from Hart's position on the right, but from left-wing writers such as Michelle Goldberg (Kingdom Coming), Kevin Phillips (American Theocracy), and Rabbi James Rudin (The Baptizing of America). The general theme of those books is that evangelicals are dangerous because of their sectarianism. They sneak stealthily into America's liberal democratic institutions with a determination to overturn them in favor of a Christian republic. Spewers of hate, they will, if given the chance, not only abolish America's commitment to separation of church and state--in some accounts, this is something they have already achieved--but will use every legal power at their command to suppress the rights of non-Christians, especially non-believers. When conservative religion swamps liberal democracy, fair play and pluralism yield to extremism and intolerance. 

No doubt there are conservative Christians active in the Republican Party who could rightfully be called theocrats. Still, I have never been convinced of the danger they represent, at least in part because the more exposure they receive, the more likely most Americans are to dismiss them as cranks. (Pat Robertson is one of the most unpopular public figures in this country.) Evangelicalism in politics, far from threatening the future of American democracy, seems already to have peaked. Whatever is stirring voters in 2006, it is not the issues dear to the religious right. Karl Rove may get out the base, but when you come right down to it, the base is just not big enough to govern the country. 

If theocracy is not a looming danger to our democracy, bathos might be. For every evangelical leader spewing hate, there are ten evangelical followers who believe that all you need is love. David Kuo is one of them. He brought to the White House neither money nor mission, but only mush. No matter how much he came to disagree with the ruthless operatives with whom he was working, he writes, "I couldn't dislike them." After all, Harriet Miers, then White House counsel, had responded to his hospitalization by writing him a note offering love and prayers; and this, for him, counted far more than her--or anyone else's--position on anything involving actual policy. "From the moment I found Jesus--or Jesus found me--in high school, it was his peace I longed for. I didn't know what it meant or what it felt like. But wanting Jesus' peace made me ache." Most people seeking peace would not march willingly into the middle of a culture war. But Kuo, the kind of person who could actually be moved by one of Harriet Miers's treacly notes, did. His intentions were not malevolent. They were oblivious, which may be worse. 

The last thing America needs now is more innocence. Most Americans have wildly unrealistic expectations of what politics can do, and, expecting too much, they settle for too little. We need leaders who can level with voters, offering good news when there is good news, but not afraid to share bad news when necessary. Religion may or may not help in cultivating such leaders, but evangelical religion offers precisely the wrong ingredients to make such leadership possible. Testimonialism simply does not make for serious politics (or serious religion). It is not enough for us to absolve presidents for today's mistakes because they have confessed to yesterday's sins. The one skill that policy-makers ought to possess is the willingness to look beyond personal feelings in order to enact sensible programs. David Kuo's religious sensibility never allowed him to do that. His book offers an acute warning of the dangers that evangelicals pose to democracy, not because they are too Machiavellian, but because they are not Machiavellian enough.

Alan Wolfe is a contributing editor at The New Republic.

TOC = Table Of Contents  [reminds me of Harpers! &that is a compliment! /js ]

Monday, October 30 Upcoming appearances by TNR staffersweb only

Is the GOP the party of ideas?by Jonathan Chait  web only

Why France shouldn't legislate Turkey's historyby Philip H. Gordon & Omer Taspinar   web only

Sunday, October 29The Invention of Song, a poem  by Bruce Bond TNRD

Saturday, October 28Paul Muldoon's allusive acrobatics  by Helen Vendler TNRD

Friday, October 27Is liberalism synonymous with secularism? A TNR debate, Day 4  by Amy Sullivan & Joseph Loconte  web only

Watching Rush Limbaugh squirmby Michelle Cottle  web only

Thursday, October 26Republicans find a new minority to scapegoat  by the Editors

How smoking helps Obamaby Michael Currie Schaffer  web only

Wednesday, October 25Why the House Republicans need a good spankingby Michelle Cottle

The war on Ramadanby Zvika Krieger TNRD

The Bush doctrine must survive the Iraq warby Lawrence F. Kaplan web only

Tuesday, October 24The roman à clef about Denny Hastert by Noam Scheiber

Al Qaeda's slate for the midtermsby Bradford Plumer web only

"Dateline"'s fake kiddie-predator scareby Sacha Zimmerman web only

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