Monday, September 19, 2005


I've joined the virtual March on Washington to Stop Global Warming.

JOIN ME in the fight to save the Earth from our leaders' carelessness, greed, and ignorance. Thanks to my Aunt Diana for sending me the good news!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Oil, Responsibility, and the American Dream

a reponse to the NYTimes Magazine feature article on Peak Oil

Dear editor,

My sincere thanks for the candid piece about the future (or lack thereof) of oil (New York Times Magazine). I am disheartened by accounts of anger and hostility directed at gas stations recently noted in an AP story. I would cite two deficiencies in the nation’s ability to properly inform its populace. The mainstream media seems reluctant to prepare consumers for this reality until the Bush Administration gives some indication to do so. The Times stands out as a worthy exception to this subterfuge.

Secondly, we should focus attention to our spiritual leaders for guidance. The Judeo-Christian texts have a recurrent theme of unrighteousness followed by wrath of God, followed by redemption or salvation for those who honored God during the unrighteousness. It is easy to see elements of antagonistic fundamentalist “Christian” leaders who suggest the US forcefully control other nations’ oil supplies – there’s no shortage of attention on these false prophets. But what we’re lacking as a nation is the compassion and mercy that will be necessary to see us through these times of tribulations – when angered by gas prices, don’t take it out on your neighbor!

The times are upon us when we need real spiritual guidance to show us the way. There are many ecumenical movements that recognize this and are creating real solutions, but they are not getting the proper attention from the media. Perhaps because the message of less consumption is not what people want to hear. No one wants to be told they can’t have their gasoline for $1.80. This is why we have aggressive motorists taking their fuel frustration out on others.

Sadad al-Husseini, the former Aramco executive says it is consumers, not producers who are to blame. This is only half the story - It would be entirely possible for producers to mandate, “for every barrel we produce for you today, we’re going to set aside one barrel for your children and one barrel for your grandchildren.” How could someone argue with that? The producers are equally to blame - although their children could profit enormously tomorrow when the barrel of oil is worth three times as much, they are choosing to meet a reckless demand so they can profit today.

The baby-boom generation and their parents have an insatiable appetite for personal comfort and wealth perhaps in part tied to the “American Dream,” and coupled with the notion of modern living through petro-chemistry. It is certainly up to religious and moral leaders to show us the error of our ways. The immense selfishness of consumers who believe they’re entitled to all the oil they want, and producers, who profit by giving it to them, will be our downfall.

The great will in our nation at war to make personal sacrifices is gone. Supposedly there’s a war on terror but Americans are not being led to do what is right for our energy independence – the media and our moral leaders are complicit in this failure. Every time we fill up the tank, a little bit of money heads towards religious extremists – Christian and Muslim, and they certainly want our money to finance their crusades and jihads. This county is becoming frazzled by greed and religious extremism, it’s past time for moderation. We must seek to foster compassion, sacrifice, and unity and address the real issues before us – the survival of our children. There’s a story about Abraham who went up to the mountain because God told him to sacrifice his son. God was testing him.

The alternatives to foreign oil are here in this country and they involve reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. While the jury is still out on the efficiencies of biofuels, we need to look at transportation infrastructure shifts to railroads and away from automobiles. Coupled with transportation and smart growth, we should emphasize local, sustainable farming, which will reduce food transportation costs. Alternative transportation, better mileage, and increased emission standards will all help. Thank goodness some of the states are getting it. It’s up to our moral leaders and the media to work together to pass this test.
Let’s pray God can see us through.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

New Topic for Got Soul Radio?

A widely publicized document is now ready for public scrutiny with the hopes that a solid ethical debate about the priorities of government spending and focus can take place.
15 March 2005
(pdf) - I guess this is the second part of the FINAL coordination. A 69-page Joint Chiefs of Staff document that basically says "If you don't express your loyalty to the US, you may be considered hostile and nuclear weapons can be used against you."

The US defense strategy
serves the national
objective of peace with

The US defense strategy aims to achieve four key goals that
guide the development of US forces capabilities
[nuclear WMD], their
development and use:

assuring allies and friends of the US
steadfastness of purpose and its capability to fulfill its security
commitment; -
who exactly is asking for this assurance? To whom is the security commitment owed?

dissuading adversaries from undertaking
programs or operations that could threaten US interests or those
of our allies and friends; -
Mutually Assured Destruction used to hold in check the nuclear leanings of the NATO and Warsaw Pact cold war standoff. This new one-sided threat assumes a dangerous posture of using nuclear without any similar negative response - a "we've got nothing to lose" mentality.

deterring aggression and coercion by
deploying forward the capacity to swiftly defeat attacks and
imposing sever penalties for aggression on an adversary’s military
capability and supporting infrastructure; and, decisively defeating
an adversary if deterrence fails. -
The intent here seems to be readiness of use is vital for victory.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Portland prepares Rose City welcome for Katrina Survivors

Citizens of Portland can rest assured that our local do-good community members are taking a pro-active role in organizing welcoming efforts for the 1,000 Katrina survivors. At this hour, there is no word from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as to who or when they will arrive but it could be within the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours or as late as Friday.

After a flurry of short-notice meetings on Sunday, the mechanisms and community leaders are in place to ensure a warm reception for our new guests. The initial greeting at Portland airport will take place at a specially-reserved hangar where identification, health screens, and rest and refreshment will be provided by the Red Cross and Portland Emergency Services, headed by Portland Fire Bureau’s Mike McGuire in a new position created by Mayor Tom Potter.

From the hangar, survivors will be bused to their new home at the former Washington-Monroe High School where they can expect hot showers, clean clothes, and hand cooked meals. Preparations to make that facility ready for comfortable habitation have been underway since Saturday. Mayor Potter said he first learned of the special guests’ pending arrival late Friday evening.
“It is a great testament to the strength and resilience of our community leaders and foundations that multiple short-notice meetings and actions could be carried out over Labor Day weekend,” said one participant.
At four o’clock residents from Buckman, Kerns, and Sunnyside neighborhood were gathered at Buckman Elementary where Potter introduced the cast of players in this great endeavor. On hand were representatives from the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Portland Public Schools, Portland Police Bureau, and the new Office of Emergency Management – this office receives direction from the Oregon Emergency Management Office which was initially contacted by FEMA on Friday. On-site services which will be available besides food and clothing will be phone, internet, medical, job assistance, and school registration. The group fielded many questions, but this reporter was most alarmed by the questions for personal safety from unruly survivors. One resident from Sunnyside, Mary Ann Schwab, asked whether there will be background checks to ensure that child molesters aren’t introduced into the neighborhood. The president of Kerns Neighborhood inquired, “Are we going to be safe?”

One can speculate as to whether these poor souls were watching Fox or Headline News for the basis of their prejudice, but concerns for civil liberties were put to rest by Police Chief Derrick Foxworthy, “We cannot require that US citizens undergo background checks.” As to the concerns by self-interested neighbors for their security, this reporter would suggest getting to know their neighbors first before casting judgment. As if they haven’t endured enough, this city would be ashamed to alienate our most honored guests, and fortunately our faith community is fully prepared to council the weak, the poor, and the sick at heart.

(I hauled tail on my bicycle up to NoPo and miraculously found the next meeting location despite erroneous address given by Mayor staffperson)
At five o’clock, religious and community leaders from North Portland convened at the new Emmanuel Temple on N. Sumner. Potter and most of the same line-up presented the background information and the citizens and clergy piped up with questions concerning “what can we do” and how to maintain cultural sensitivity. There it was decided to ensure that community members will be present on each joint committee tasked by the agencies. These committees presently include operations and security, medical services, media relations, transportation, logistics, education, and public relations as well as a community advisory committee. The committees will evolve over the course of the re-habitation, as the needs of the survivors evolve in adapting to a new community or re-locate elsewhere. Several leaders have indicated that we all should be prepared for many guests that will want to be accepted as permanent residents.
Of the more exciting committees, formed by Joyce Harris, is the Welcoming Committee which plans to ensure that cultural and spiritual resources are available immediately and that the multitude of weary travelers are treated with respect and dignity at every step. That is the one paramount concern of every agency working here in Portland, that each and every survivor is given the respect of a fellow human being who has been subjected to hellish conditions and who need as much support as they need to feel human again.
This will truly be one of the greatest humanitarian efforts ever undertaken by the City - probably since the Vanport flood, where, perhaps not coincidentally, it was African-Americans who were devastated by failed levees and poorly treated in response. Portland has the great honor and blessing to cherish these survivors in our midst and honor them in person for enduring what no man, woman, or child should ever have to endure. Please sign up to volunteer at Red Cross PDX
If you’re ready to help with your clean clothes and non-perishable food items, bring them to the Salvation Army at - 1785 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR 97232 (phone 503-234-0825) -- they’ll soon be in the hands of some of the most deserving people on the planet.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rebuild New Orleans?

The extent to which the US invests in rebuilding New Orleans deserves a healthy debate. No one should question the suggestion by House Speaker Dennis Hastert that New Orleans may never be completely rebuilt. An event such as Katrina which demonstrates the full power of God means that it’s possible we did something wrong.

It is fundamental to consider the geography that God intended for this area and to honor that natural way would be most wise. When the nation’s head has run full force into a brick wall – why back up and run into it again? That’s stupidity – and that’s what rebuilding New Orleans is about if certain interests have their way. It is also important to consider the costs of enduring such a devastating disaster again. Our national recovery efforts should be aimed at the salvage and relocation of a large portion of low-lying communities.

The fact is, New Orleans is mostly below sea-level and prone to hurricanes which may increase in their severity. This combination suggests that humans should not make their homes in this area in such dense and immovable dwellings with all the requisite infrastructure. We should seriously consider the Mississippi delta as a primarily agriculture zone with low population density and inexpensive or durable infrastructure such as railroads for shipping.

Long-term or semi-permanent structures must be designed with flooding in mind and must have flood insurance. It absolutely boggles the mind how one could own a home below sea-level and not have flood insurance.

Salvage, relocation, and minimal infrastructure economy should be the centerpeices of our national recovery efforts. New Orleans should be a great city, but this is our opportunity to wipe clean the poverty and desperation that has plagued that city for so long. And for Mississippi to be making half a million dollars per day on gambling revenues (according to CNN) – that is just shameful. Do they not read the Holy Bible down there in Mississippi? I thought politicians from there were always touting the Scriptures for policy guidance. I think the Bible says gambling is a no-no. Folks, it’s time to get back to respecting that which God has given us. Even if you’re atheist, we all must share in our respect for this beautiful natural world, which has been given to us. It is a gift, and we would be wise to honor this Creation and center our lives around that love for God and all His things. We’re damned to think life should be centered around ourselves. And all God’s people said, “Amen.”

Here's some great commentary from