I must repeat my apologies for not being able to post more regularly or coherently right now; I’m writing a term paper and preparing for a final and promise to be more reliable once those deadlines are past. In the meantime, thanks to friends like MR and JK and AC who keep passing interesting things to me.

Now, about that sweeping mandate… Ohio’s margin for Bush was even narrower than originally estimated, and NBC revised substantially downward its exit poll estimates of Hispanic support for Bush. Donkey Rising has more on both subjects.

And 10-gallon hats off, once again, to the Lone Star Iconoclast, for continuing to prove that they have a deeper commitment to democracy than their native son.

Nonetheless, the fictional “mandate” is the justification under which Bush plans to reverse three decades of environmental protections. How worried should we be? Read Bill Moyers’ acceptance speech for his Global Environment Citizen Award, to see how worried he is. I nearly spat diet coke onto my laptop keyboard when I read his offhanded remark about an EPA study (co-sponsored by the American Chemistry Council) but it’s the truth — here are details:

“…The study entitled CHEERS (Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study) pays participants in Duval County, Florida, up to $970 and offers them a free camcorder, free VCR, as well as t-shirts, calendars, bibs, and a framed Certificate of Appreciation. Participants are asked to “maintain” their normal pesticide applications throughout their home for two years. The EPA will monitor developmental changes in babies, from birth to 3 years, who are exposed to pesticides in their home. The study looks at 60 children, with less than 10% representing a control group, which consists of children that have low pesticide exposure, rather than no exposure at all.”

(Does this remind anyone else of a certain infamously unethical and racist “natural experiment”?)

Molly Ivins on torture:

My question is: What are you going to do about this? It’s your country, your money, your government. You own it, you run it, you are the board of directors. They are doing this in your name. The people we elect to public office do what you want them to. Perhaps you should get in touch with them.

Naomi Klein has a searing, open letter to the Acting US Ambassador in London, here.

Finally, in one of those uplifting examples of how very far the contemporary Lutheran church has come, the Pacifica Synod officially revoked their sanction of the Central City Lutheran Mission in San Bernardino, CA, because CCLM installed an openly lesbian pastor.

An urban ministry that aids the poor and homeless had its official recognition removed by Lutheran church officials in a dispute over an associate pastor who is in a lesbian relationship.

The decision by the Pacifica Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which oversees congregations in parts of Southern California, marks the most severe punishment of a Lutheran congregation over the issue of homosexual clergy in more than a decade.

“We thought those days were over,” Pastor David Kalke, who leads the Central City Lutheran Mission, told the Los Angeles Times for a Saturday story. “It appears conservatism has raised its ugly head here in Southern California, much to our surprise.”

Kalke said he intends to lead Central City as an independent Lutheran congregation.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America allows gay clergy only if they are celibate. Thirteen other congregations that have installed openly gay and lesbian pastors have received milder punishments.

Pacifica Synod Bishop Murray Finck said the Central City mission violated the church’s constitution when it installed Pastor Jenny Mason in April because Mason is not on the church’s official roster of recognized pastors. He said the Oct. 29 decision has nothing to do with Mason’s sexual orientation but also said Mason is not on the roster because she is gay and not celibate.

Discipline was once handled by the national church, but after a 1990 dispute with two San Francisco congregations that had installed openly gay clergy and were ultimately kicked out of the church, discipline became a matter that synods handled, said Greg Egertson, co-chairman of Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries in San Francisco.

Since 1990, no congregations have been stripped of recognition for installing gay clergy. National church leaders are studying the issue ahead of an August meeting of the church’s National Assembly.

Egertson said the Pacifica Synod may be trying to send a message to the assembly.

“It’s out of step with what other synods are doing and it’s very badly timed,” he said.

Mason previously served 10 years as an officially recognized Lutheran pastor and missionary in Chile, but the church learned of her long-term relationship with another woman and forced her to resign in 2001.

“I don’t know the good folks who live in Orange County,” Mason said, “but that’s where our synod office is and I have a feeling that’s what moves decisions more than serving the poor and the oppressed in the inner city of San Bernardino.”

Here’s the original LA Times version of the story. I love this logical nuance: “He (Pacifica Synod Bishop Murray Finck) said the Oct. 29 decision has nothing to do with Mason’s sexual orientation but also said Mason is not on the roster because she is gay and not celibate.” If you’re in the giving mood, I’m sure CCLM would welcome donations to continue ministering to the community being punished by the Pacifica Synod.

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