Friday, December 30, 2005

High Crimes & Misdemeanors

The I-Word is Gaining Ground
by Katrina vanden Heuvel
Published on Tuesday, December 27, 2005 by The Nation

…For those interested in some of the most compelling charges against the president, I offer a brief summary:

Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean argued in his aptly-named book Worse than Watergate that Bush's false statements about WMDs in Iraq--used to drum up support for an invasion--deceived the American people and Congress. This constituted "an impeachable offense," Dean told PBS' Bill Moyers in 2004. "I think the case is overwhelming that these people presented false information to the Congress and to the American people." Bush's actions were actually far worse than Watergate, Dean contends, because "no one died for Nixon's so-called Watergate abuses."

Lending credence to Dean's arguments, the Downing Street Memo revealed that Britain's MI-6 Director Richard Dearlove had told Tony Blair that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" by the Bush Administration. John Bonifaz, a Boston-based attorney and constitutional law expert, said that Bush seemingly "concealed important intelligence which he ought to have communicated," and "must certainly be punished for giving false information to the Senate." Bush deceived "the American people as to the basis for taking the nation into war against Iraq," Bonifaz argued--an impeachable offense.

Rep. John Conyers argued as well that the president committed impeachable offenses" because he and senior administration officials "countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq" at Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere, including Guantanamo Bay and the now-notorious "black sites" around the world.

The most compelling evidence of Bush's high crimes and misdemeanors is the revelation that he repeatedly authorized NSA spying on US citizens without obtaining the required warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court. Constitutional experts, politicians and ex-intelligence experts agree that Bush "committed a federal crime by wiretapping Americans." Rep. John Lewis--"the first major House figure to suggest impeaching Bush," said the AP--argued that the president "deliberately, systematically violated the law" in authorizing the wiretapping. Lewis added: "He is not King, he is president."

Meanwhile, Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University School of Law--a specialist in surveillance law--told Knight Ridder that Bush's actions "violated federal law" and raised "serious constitutional questions of high crimes and misdemeanors." It is worth remembering that an abuse of power similar to Bush's NSA wiretapping decision was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974. [This comparison was brought home in the ACLU's powerful full page ad in the NYT of December 22nd.]

There are many reasons why it is crucial that the Democrats regain control of Congress in '06, but consider this one: If they do, there may be articles of impeachment introduced and the estimable John Conyers, who has led the fight to defend our constitution, would become Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Wouldn't that be a truly just response to the real high crimes and misdemeanors that this lawbreaking president has so clearly committed?

Katrina vanden Heuvel is Editor of The Nation. © 2005 The Nation

Friday, December 23, 2005

Little Red Hen Meets a Really Stupid Cock

The following is a 'story' that was emailed to me. My heart hurt to think that people could be so judgmental and mean-spirited. They paint with an awfully broad brush. So, here is the story and below it, I have re-written it to reflect my particular judgmental and mean-spirited attitude. Here goes...

The Little Red Hen

Once upon a time, on a farm in Texas, there was a little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered quite a few grains of wheat. She called all of her neighbors together and said, "If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant it?"
"Not I," said the cow.
"Not I," said the duck.
"Not I," said the pig.
"Not I," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen. And so she did. The wheat grew very tall and ripened into golden grain.

"Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen.
"Not I," said the duck.
"Out of my classification," said the pig.
"I'd lose my seniority," said the cow.
"I'd lose my unemployment compensation," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen, and so she did unitl at last it came time to bake the bread.

"Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the little red hen.
"That would be overtime for me," said the cow.
"I'd lose my welfare benefits," said the duck.
"I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig.
"If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination," said the goose.
"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen. She baked five loaves and held them up for all of her neighbors to see. They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, "No, I shall eat all five loaves."

"Excess profits!" cried the cow.
"Capitalist leech!" screamed the duck.
"I demand equal rights!" yelled the goose.
The pig just grunted in disdain.
And they all painted "Unfair!" picket signs and marched shouting obscenities around the little red hen.

Then Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and other liberal government agents came, and they said to the little red hen, "You must not be so greedy." "But I earned the bread," said the little red hen. "Exactly," said the agents. "That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are lazy and idle."

And they all lived happily ever after including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, "I am grateful, for now I truly understand," But her neighbors became quite disappointed in her. She never again baked bread because she joined the "party" and got her bread free. And all the Democrats smiled.

'Fairness' had been established. Individual initiative had died, but nobody noticed; and no one long as there was free bread that "the rich" were paying for.

And so Bill Clinton got $12 million for his memoirs. Hillary got $8 million for hers. That's $20 million for the memories of two people who for eight years repeatedly testified under oath that they couldn't remember anything.


Next! The rewrite!

The Really Stupid Cock

Once upon a time, on a farm in Texas, there was a Really Stupid Cock who crowed about the barnyard until his pals found a way to use him.

He called all of his neighbors together and said, "If we invade Iraq, we shall be doing the Iraqis a big favor because they’re too stupid to figure out what they want on their own. Who will help me kill the sons-a-bitches?"

"I will," said the rich.
"I will," said the oil corporations.
"I will," said the religious bigots.
"I will," said the fascists in training.
"Then we will do it together," said the Really Stupid Cock. And so they did. The war on terror grew very deadly, all personal rights were vanquished and our constitution ripened into a piece of paper with no point.

"Who will help me reap more power?" asked the Really Stupid Cock.
"I will," smiled the rich.
"I must impose correct beliefs." said the religious bigots.
"I could make more profits," thought the oil corporations.
"I’d know who didn’t like me and I could kill the sons-a-bitches," said the fascists in training.
"Then we will do it together," said the Really Stupid Cock, and so at last it came time to rewrite the Bill of Rights.

"Who will help me give the world to big oil?" asked the Really Stupid Cock.
"That would mean a big raise for me," said the rich.
"I'd give lots of contracts to all my pals," said the oil corporations.
"I could impose my beliefs on everyone!" said the religious bigots.
"I’d be able to kill all the sons-a-bitches," said the fascists in training.
"Then we will do it together," said the Really Stupid Cock. He made our civil liberties a mockery and held them up for all of his cronies to ridicule in the name of national security. They clamored for more corporate control and, in fact, demanded that citizens believe they were right! And the Really Stupid Cock said, "Yes, we shall eat from the table of the little guy and kill the sons-a-bitches."

"More profits!" cried the rich.

"Bleeding hearts!" screamed the fascists in training.
"I demand that people follow my beliefs!" yelled the religious bigots.
The oil corporations just grunted and burped insider trading tips.
And they all painted "We love fascism!" picket signs and marched shouting, “Conservative values or kill the sons-a-bitches!” with the Really Stupid Cock.

Then Dick Cheney, Tom Delay and the other Real Americans came to the barnyard and said to the Really Stupid Cock, "You must be careful to instill more fear." "But I already got them to agree to give up their rights," said the Really Stupid Cock. "But we need more," said the agents. "That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can get �cocked’ as much as he wants. And under our current American Dream, all those productive workers give up their unique intelligence to the corporate good and, of course, to those who control the Really Stupid Cock. And we can do whatever we want."

And they all lived happily ever after including the Really Stupid Cock, who smiled and crowed, "I am really special, for I truly am king," And his corporate cronies became quite gleeful. He crowed his corporate party line and because he supported the party he got to make war anywhere he wanted. And all the Republicans smiled. 'Family values' had been established. Individual expression and thought had died, and nobody noticed, and no one long as there were profits the oil corporations could harvest and everybody said exactly the same prayer to exactly the same god.


And so, Dick Cheney fulfilled all of Halliburton’s dreams. Tom Delay and Bill Frist made freedom of religious belief against the law. That's 2,000 plus American dead (and countless Iraqis) for Real Americans who decided they could do anything and get away with it.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Comparing our nation’s birth with Iraq’s doesn’t compute

President Bush's speech December 12 in Philadelphia: Comparing our nation’s birth with Iraq’s doesn’t compute, says Founding Father expert Willard Sterne Randall, historical scholar in residence at Champlain College.

As Iraq’s people prepare for upcoming elections, President Bush will give a speech today in Philadelphia comparing the situation in Iraq with America’s early attempts at democracy. Willard Sterne Randall, historical scholar in residence at Champlain College and the author of half a dozen separate biographies on the Founding Fathers, says that the two aren’t comparable: “We won the Revolution and weren't occupied by an invading imperial army when we held our first national elections.”

Additionally, January 17, 2006 will mark the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth. With President Bush’s approval rating at an all-time low, scholars and media alike have been left to wonder what our Founding Fathers would think of how America has fared in both domestic and foreign affairs in the past several years. Will this anniversary drive home the point that America has become increasingly alienated from the principles on which it was founded?

Randall says that “Benjamin Franklin was, first and foremost, a revolutionary. He would surely take issue with what the Bush Administration is doing, especially in foreign affairs but also day-to-day domestically. He would strenuously oppose faith-based initiatives, as he strongly believed in the separation of church and state. Most of all, he would oppose Bush’s spare-the-rich-and-soak-the-middle-classes agenda of tax cuts. In turn, the Administration would be threatened by him and probably have him trailed, wiretapped, and maybe even jailed under the Patriot Act.”

SOURCE: Willard Sterne Randall, six-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, historical scholar in residence at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt., and author of A Little Revenge: Benjamin Franklin and His Son.

TV Free

* Research shows that most Australians [read: Americans] spend many, many hours a week watching television. Television erodes the following: consciousness (particularly the imagination); interpersonal interaction; connection between social groups; connection to Nature; reading and self-education; awareness of corporate manipulation; and self-esteem (by the constant presentation of unattainable ideals of humanity). Until the TV problem is tackled head-on, little or no headway will be made in combatting Australia's [the USA's] urban and rural malaise. Very few social commentators are themselves free of the TV virus, and the virulence of the illness is scarcely known in this country. Television is watching other people have lives. Turn off your TVs and live! *

Wilson's Blogmanac -

I know how narrow minded I must sound, but I wonder whether, at some future point, we won't have AA for TV watching. I think it's as addicting as any other drug because it blunts conscious awareness.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Our 27 months of hell

Joe Wilson

October 29, 2005 : Our 27 months of hellBy Joseph C. Wilson IV, JOSEPH C. WILSON IV was acting ambassador in Baghdad when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. He is the author of "The Politics of Truth" (Carroll & Graff, 2004). He was a diplomat for 23 years.

AFTER THE two-year smear campaign orchestrated by senior officials in the Bush White House against my wife and me, it is tempting to feel vindicated by Friday's indictment of the vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Between us, Valerie and I have served the United States for nearly 43 years. I was President George H.W. Bush's acting ambassador to Iraq in the run-up to the Persian Gulf War, and I served as ambassador to two African nations for him and President Clinton. Valerie worked undercover for the CIA in several overseas assignments and in areas related to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

But on July 14, 2003, our lives were irrevocably changed. That was the day columnist Robert Novak identified Valerie as an operative, divulging a secret that had been known only to me, her parents and her brother.

Valerie told me later that it was like being hit in the stomach. Twenty years of service had gone down the drain. She immediately started jotting down a checklist of things she needed to do to limit the damage to people she knew and to projects she was working on. She wondered how her friends would feel when they learned that what they thought they knew about her was a lie.
It was payback — cheap political payback by the administration for an article I had written contradicting an assertion President Bush made in his 2003 State of the Union address. Payback not just to punish me but to intimidate other critics as well.

Why did I write the article? Because I believe that citizens in a democracy are responsible for what government does and says in their name. I knew that the statement in Bush's speech — that Iraq had attempted to purchase significant quantities of uranium in Africa — was not true. I knew it was false from my own investigative trip to Africa (at the request of the CIA) and from two other similar intelligence reports. And I knew that the White House knew it.

Going public was what was required to make them come clean. The day after I shared my conclusions in a New York Times opinion piece, the White House finally acknowledged that the now-infamous 16 words "did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union address."
That should have been the end. But instead, the president's men — allegedly including Libby and at least one other (known only as "Official A") — were determined to defame and discredit Valerie and me.

They used eager allies in Congress and the conservative media, beginning with Novak. Perhaps the most egregious of the attacks was New York GOP Rep. Peter King's odious suggestion that Valerie "got what she deserved."

Valerie was an innocent in this whole affair. Although there were suggestions that she was behind the decision to send me to Niger, the CIA told Newsday just a week after the Novak article appeared that "she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment." The CIA repeated the same statement to every reporter thereafter.

The grand jury has now concluded that at least one of the president's men committed crimes. We are heartened that our system of justice is working and appreciative of the work done by our fellow citizens who devoted two years of their lives to grand jury duty.

The attacks on Valerie and me were upsetting, disruptive and vicious. They amounted to character assassination. Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months.

But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime.

The war in Iraq has claimed more than 17,000 dead and wounded American soldiers, many times more Iraqi casualties and close to $200 billion.

It has left our international reputation in tatters and our military broken. It has weakened the United States, increased hatred of us and made terrorist attacks against our interests more likely in the future.

It has been, as Gen. William Odom suggested, the greatest strategic blunder in the history of our country.

We anticipate no mea culpa from the president for what his senior aides have done to us. But he owes the nation both an explanation and an apology.,1,5237501.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." ~Sun-tzu, The Art of War.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

On this day...

Septemer 28, 1618 The first pawnshop is opened in the Catholic Netherlands.

Now that's trivia!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Founding Fathers

American Revolutionaries

Deism and religious liberalism were common among American Founders and prominent revolutionaries.

Many Founders who did consider themselves Christians, or who spoke favorably of Christianity, took a highly philosophical view of Christianity and maintained a scientific outlook. They also didn’t fail to criticize many Christian practices and the mentality of devout Christians.

George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison are arguably good examples such men.

None of these men explicitly declared themselves Deists, and all spoke favorably of Christian philosophy, however these men did not put religion or Christianity beyond question, and their views were founded much more strongly in naturalism. They have often been considered Deists based on their views. They also rarely attended church services, and did not belong to any denomination. Some of the founders never attended church past childhood, with the exception of special occasions such as funerals, etc.

Thomas Jefferson, while still calling himself a Christian, was highly critical of the Bible and declared that he did not believe in any of the supernatural claims about Jesus or any other religion.

Of the founders, both Jefferson and Adams held strongly materialist worldviews and denounced all forms of supernaturalism. The God of Jefferson and Adams, as well as other Founders, was a God that created the laws of nature, but which did not actively intervene in the world. Jefferson was more critical of Christianity than Adams, but both were critical, yet both also saw value in the philosophy of the religion as well.

“Well aware that:
I. the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; II. that Almighty God hath created the mind free,
and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint;
VI. that our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right;”

- Thomas Jefferson – A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, 1777

“[W]here get we the ten commandments? The book indeed gives them to us verbatim, but where did it get them? For itself tells us they were written by the finger of God on tables of stone, which were destroyed by Moses; it specifies those on the second set of tables in different form and substance, but still without saying how the others were recovered. But the whole history of these books is so defective and doubtful, that it seems vain to attempt minute inquiry into it; and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right from that cause to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine.”

- Thomas Jefferson – Letter to John Adams, 1814

"The immaculate conception of Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him, his miraculous powers, his resurrection and visible ascension, his corporeal presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity; original sin, atonement, regeneration, election, orders of Hierarchy, etc.," were all, "invented by ultra-Christian sects, unauthorized by a single word ever uttered by him."

- Thomas Jefferson – Letter to William Short, 1819

“It is not to be understood that I am with him [Jesus Christ] in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance toward forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it.”

- Thomas Jefferson – Letter to William Short, 1820

“The truth is, that the greatest enemies of the doctrine of Jesus are those, calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them to the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated Reformer of human errors.”

- Thomas Jefferson – Letter to John Adams, 1824

“One other of these laws deserves particular notice. In private, every family were free to worship the gods in their own way; and in public, though certain forms were required, yet there was not any penalty annexed to the omission of them, as the punishment of offences in this matter was left to the offended god. This, probably, was the source of that wise and humane toleration which does so much honour to the Romans, and reflects disgrace on almost every Christian nation.”

- John Adams: "A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" (1787-88)

“The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.
Unembarrassed by attachments to noble families, hereditary lines and successions, or any considerations of royal blood, even the pious mystery of holy oil had no more influence than that other of holy water: the people universally were too enlightened to be imposed on by artifice; and their leaders, or more properly followers, were men of too much honour to attempt it. Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favour of the rights of mankind. The experiment is made, and has completely succeeded: it can no longer be called in question, whether authority in magistrates, and obedience of citizens, can be grounded on reason, morality, and the Christian religion, without the monkery of priests, or the knavery of politicians.”

- John Adams: "A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" (1787-88)

The quote above in an excellent example of Adams’ relationship with religion. He regarded Christian values as good, yet he was not a religious man. He did not believe in the priesthood, in miracles, in the supernatural, nor in the perfection of the Bible. Like Jefferson, he viewed the Bible as a highly flawed text that had been tampered with and manipulated by priests over the centuries so as to add all manner of supernatural events to it.

The two most well known American revolutionaries that actually did declare themselves Deists, and wrote on the topic of religious criticism, were Ethan Allan and Thomas Paine.

--Ethan Allen (1738-1789)

Allan was a rough and rowdy colonist who became a fervent supporter of the revolutionary war and leader of the Green Mountain Boys. He was taken prisoner early in the war, but returned to political life in Vermont after being released from capture.

Perhaps more important than his participation in the Revolution, however, was his writing of one of the most significant early documents of American freethought, Reason: The Only Oracle of Man, in 1784, shortly before he died.

Allan believed that the universe was created by God, but beyond that there was little that could be known about the nature of God.

“In the circle of my acquaintance, (which has not been small,) I have generally been denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious I am no Christian, except mere infant baptism make me one;”

“The desire of knowledge has engaged the attention of the wise and curious among mankind in all ages which has been productive of extending the arts and sciences far and wide in the several quarters of the globe, and excited the contemplative to explore nature's laws in a gradual series of improvement, until philosophy, astronomy, geography, and history, with many other branches of science, have arrived to a great degree of

“But the fantastical illuminations of the credulous and superstitious part of mankind, proceed from weakness, and as far as they take place in the world subvert the religion of REASON, NATURE and TRUTH.”

- Reason: The Only Oracle of Man Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

Thomas Paine is America’s most well known early Deist. He came to America in 1774 at the invitation of Benjamin Franklin, where he quickly made a name for himself as a writer. Throughout his life, however, he refused to take profits from the sale of his books. He could easily have become one of the wealthiest men in America by the profits from his books alone, but instead he remained poor by his own choice, and gave what money he did get to charity or put it towards his various causes.

When Paine published Common Sense in January 1776 it quickly became a best seller, and ignited the desire for revolution among the colonists. Paine was indeed the first person to use the term “United States of America”. Thomas Paine quickly became the most well known author in the Western world, with a reputation that stretched back to Europe, where he was largely hated in his home country of England, of course because Common Sense was anti-British.

Paine continued to write important inspirational pieces throughout the Revolutionary War that were widely read by American patriots.

After the war Paine became Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Soon after, however, he developed the idea for a single-span iron bridge, the first of its kind. He then traveled to France, to the Institute of Math and Science, in order to have his invention analyzed and to acquire a patent. While in France the French Revolution erupted and Paine was then stuck. He became involved in the Revolution and then was thrown in jail, where he wrote his most important theological work, The Age of Reason, in 1794. Ironically, it was Thomas Paine’s opposition to the atheist movement in France that landed him in jail. He sent his manuscript back to America to be published, for he feared that he would be executed, and indeed he was scheduled to be executed but escaped death by a stroke of luck and was eventually saved by James Madison, after which he returned to America.

In the Age of Reason Thomas Pain delivered a thorough criticism of Christianity and the Bible. Paine denounced the Bible as a negative influence on mankind that perpetuated irrationality and barbarism. Paine discussed many contradictions in the Bible and explained the mystical elements of the story of Jesus as pagan mythology reheated.

Paine did state that he believed in God, but said that it is impossible to claim any knowledge of God other than what can be determined by the laws of nature, and that he viewed God merely as whatever created the universe.

The major works of Paine:
Common Sense (1776)
The American Crisis (1774-1779)
The Rights of Man (1779-1792)
The Age of Reason (1794-1796)

“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”

“It is, however, not difficult to account for the credit that was given to the story of Jesus Christ being the Son of God. He was born when the heathen mythology had still some fashion and repute in the world, and that mythology had prepared the people for the belief of such a story. Almost all the extraordinary men that lived under the heathen mythology were reputed to be the sons of some of their gods. It was not a new thing at that time to believe a man to have been celestially begotten; the intercourse of gods with women was then a matter of familiar opinion. Their Jupiter, according to their accounts, had cohabited with hundreds; the story therefore had nothing in it either new, wonderful, or obscene; it was conformable to the opinions that then prevailed among the people called Gentiles, or mythologists, and it was those people only that believed it. The Jews, who had kept strictly to the belief of one God, and no more, and who had always rejected the heathen mythology, never credited the story.

It is curious to observe how the theory of what is called the Christian Church, sprung out of the tail of the heathen mythology. A direct incorporation took place in the first instance, by making the reputed founder to be celestially begotten. The trinity of gods that then followed was no other than a reduction of the former plurality, which was about twenty or thirty thousand. The statue of Mary succeeded the statue of Diana of Ephesus. The deification of heroes changed into the canonization of saints. The Mythologists had gods for everything; the Christian mythologists had saints for everything. The church became as crowded with the one, as the pantheon had been
with the other; and Rome was the place of both. The Christian theory is little else than the idolatry of the ancient mythologists, accommodated to the purposes of power and revenue; and it yet remains to reason and philosophy to abolish the amphibious fraud.”

“The opinions I have advanced… are the effect of the most clear and long-established conviction that the Bible and the Testament are impositions upon the world, that the fall of man, the account of Jesus Christ being the Son of God, and of his dying to appease the wrath of God, and of salvation by that strange means, are all fabulous inventions, dishonorable to the wisdom and power of the Almighty; that the only true religion is Deism, by which I then meant, and mean now, the belief of one God, and an imitation of his moral character, or the practice of what are called moral virtues—and that it was upon this only (so far as religion is concerned) that I rested all my hopes of happiness hereafter.”

- The Age of Reason

excerpted from the Rational Revolution website article, A Historical Outline of Modern Religious Criticism in Western Civilization by Geoff Price.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bill Maher to Bush

Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend. You used up all of that. You can't start another war because you also used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people.

Yeah, listen to your mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out, and no one is speaking to you: mission accomplished! Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service. And the oil company. And the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman?!

Now, I know what you're saying. You're saying that there's so many other things that you, as president, could involve yourself in...Please don't. I know, I know, there's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela, and eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote. But, sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes.

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two Trade Centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans...Maybe you're just not lucky! I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.

So, yes, God does speak to you, and what he's saying is, "Take a hint."

Bill Maher from Real Time, 9/9/05

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


He's five feet two and he's six feet four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He's all of 31 and he's only 17
He's been a soldier for a thousand years

He's a Catholic, a Hindu, an athiest, a Jain,
a Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew
and he knows he shouldn't kill
and he knows he always will
kill you for me my friend and me for you

And he's fighting for Canada,
he's fighting for France,
he's fighting for the USA,
and he's fighting for the Russians
and he's fighting for Japan,
and he thinks we'll put an end to war this way

And he's fighting for Democracy
and fighting for the Reds
He says it's for the peace of all
He's the one who must decide
who's to live and who's to die
and he never sees the writing on the walls

But without him how would Hitler
have condemned him at Dachau
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He's the one who gives his body as a weapon to a war
and without him all this killing can't go on

He's the universal soldier
and he really is to blame
His orders come from far away no more
They come from him, and you, and me
and brothers can't you see
this is not the way we put an end to war.

Buffy Sainte-Marie© Caleb Music-ASCAP

[Buffy] wrote "Universal Soldier" in the basement of The Purple Onion coffee house in Toronto in the early sixties. It's about individual responsibility for war and how the old feudal thinking kills us all. Donovan had a hit with it in 1965.

'Nuff Said...

"The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world-view and a certain way of life ... A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate its successors... Who wields power is not important, provided that the hierarchical structure remains always the same." George Orwell, 1984

"Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this." Lt. Gen William Boykin, speaking of G. W. Bush, New York Times, 17 October 2003

"God gave the savior to the German people. We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he was sent to us by God to save Germany." Hermann Goering, speaking of Hitler

"A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side." Aristotle

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A Frightening Analysis Indeed

I got this email from a good friend the other day. I wanted to post my response here, because I feel so strongly about the message. My comments within the post are in brackets. I love my friend for taking the time to consider; whether she ends up agreeing or not is beside the point.

Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 19:53:21 -0400
Subject: [FWD: Fw: America's Future]

Whaddaya think? I, frankly, have to cogitate on it a while. Perhaps even ruminate.

To: "A Friend"
From: "wild rider"
Date:Sat, 27 Aug 2005 21:38:20 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: [FWD:Fw"America's Future]

Mexifornia - A Frightening Analysis

> We all know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context > his thoughts are particularly poignant. Last week there was an > immigration-overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to > capacity by many of American's finest minds and leaders. A brilliant > college professor named Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, > "Mexifornia," explaining how immigration - both legal and illegal - was > destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across > the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream. [Sounds like he's trying to sell his book to me.]

> > Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave > a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound > as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States. He > said, "If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too > rich, then let's destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in > history has survived the ravages of time. [So why does he think America will be any different...? or ever should be?] Arnold Toynbee observed that all > great civilizations rise and fall and that "An autopsy of history would > show that all great nations commit suicide.'"

> > "Here is how they do it," Lamm said: First, to destroy America, "Turn > America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History > shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of > two or more competing languages and cultures. [I beg to differ; how about Rome? It thrived on multiculturalism that made it the greatest empire ever.] It is a blessing for an > individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be > bilingual. "The historical scholar Seymour Lipset put it this way: "The > histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are > histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy.' Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, > Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press > for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. > Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with > Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans." [Unlike the melting pot of America, these are all countries with large segregated populations. Our strength lies in the fact that we have integrated as completely as we have. I also take exception to Mr. Lipset's use of 'bicultural'; it is just this side of us vs. them mentality (i.e., racist)]>

> Lamm went on: Second, to destroy America, "Invent multiculturalism and > encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article > of belief that all cultures are equal. [Aren't they?] That there are no cultural > differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and > Hispanic dropout rates are due to prejudice and discrimination by the > majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds. [His vitriol is showing.]>

> Third, "We could make the United States an ' Hispanic Quebec' without much > effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin > Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: The apparent success of our > own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not > by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated > ethnocentrically and what it meant to be an American, we are left with > only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.'" [Tolerance and pluralism are bad. Hmmmm.]>

> Lamm said, "I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language > and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl > metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural > subgroups living in America reinforcing their differences rather than as > Americans, emphasizing their similarities." [This is such a specious argument. After several generations, immigrants become indistinguishable. An example might be Irish and Italians in New York. Jeesh, what a fear/hate mentality.]>

> "Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least > educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, > and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass > have a 50% dropout rate from high school." [Only Republicans cut education budgets. And tax cuts for the rich just increase the divide between the rich and middle/poor classes.]>

> "My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and > business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic > identity, and I would establish the cult of Victimology. [This is the pot calling the kettle, black. These rich white men want to keep the power. Minorities threaten the status quo. I remember when Kennedy was suspect because he was Catholic. Puleeeez.] I would get all > minorities to think their lack of success was the fault of the majority. [I grant there are some who do believe this. But this argument can be turned back to the writer of this article -- "We are victims of the immigrants. If it wasn't for them, everything would be fine." Ugh.] I > would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the > majority population."

> > "My sixth plan for America's downfall would include dual citizenship and > promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would > stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are > mostly engaged in hating each other - that is, when they are not killing > each other. [Is that how the writer sees this country? Maybe we should just exterminate all of them so we won't have to figure out hard answers to hard problems.] A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most > historical precedent. People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a > nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they > belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and > literature; and they worshipped the same gods. All Greece took part in the > Olympic games. A common enemy Persia threatened their liberty. Yet all > these bonds were not strong enough to over come two factors: local > patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell. [This little tirade has nothing whatever to do with the topic...the writer is using scare tactics and boogeymen.] > "E. Pluribus Unum" -- >From many, one. In that historical > reality, if we put the emphasis on the "Pluribus" instead of the "Unum," > we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo."

> > "Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits ~ make it taboo to > talk about anything against the cult of diversity.' I would find a word > similar to heretic in the 16th century - that stopped discussion and > paralyzed thinking. Words like racist or xenophobe halt discussion and > debate." [Not halt, but those words sure as shootin' should make us sit up and take notice. This smacks of the Weirmar Republic. We really do still have free speech in America. This writer is a case in point.] "Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having > established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the > doctrine of Victimology, I would next make it impossible to enforce our > immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has > been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every > individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of > millions of them." [I'd like to know where his ancestors came from. That's the big problem...if we were lucky enough to be born here because our people came over on some boat, we now have the power to deny the same dream to all those other "tired and poor masses." It's a horrible trade. I guess I'm willing to give up some of our -my- exceedingly high lifestyle so that someone else can have a little more. I'm sure here is where people would say I 'should leave the country then,' but I counter by saying that those who have that 'not enough' mentality, could go somewhere else and set up their own little country based on 'I have' and 'you don't'. I sure wouldn't want to live there.]>

> In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound > silence followed. [Remember that Lamm is playing to his own crowd here. These people all agree with him.] Finally he said, "Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson > Davis's book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to > destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don't read > that book." [So who's censoring this book? Where is this threat he seems to be intimating is lurking somewhere off stage. 'They' could get us at any moment!]> > There was no applause. A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud > above every attendee at the conference. Every American in that room knew > that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, > darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today. [ Oh, pullleeeeeez.] Every discussion > is being suppressed. [Gag reflex.] Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our > educational system and national cohesiveness. Barbaric cultures that > practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate diversity. > American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a > Third World in America - take note of California and other states - to > date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. It is reminiscent of > George Orwell's book "1984." In that story, three slogans are engraved in > the Ministry of Truth building: "War is peace," "Freedom is slavery," and > "Ignorance is strength." Governor Lamm walked back to his seat. It dawned > on everyone at the conference that our nation and the future of this great > democracy is deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don't get this > immigration monster stopped within three years, it will rage like a > California wildfire and destroy everything in its path, especially The > American Dream. [Wow. I'm surprised we've made it this long letting 'them damned immigrants' in.]

People who see the world this way have a 'not enough' view. We have worked hard in our own lives to become people who see that abundance can replace lack if we call it that way and work to make it so. The world would be such a better place if we accepted difference as okay...because there will always be something different to beat on. These people are selfish first, and hate-mongers, second. An old song comes to mind, 'Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.'

Please send this rebuttal to the person who sent this article to you. I mourn that this could be the mood of our country and wonder where it will take us.

Your loving friend in vehement opposition to this writer's view,

This Wild Ride -- A blog for the conscious

"A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." ~~Edward R. Morrow

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Great site for the thoughtfully religious...

About This Site: I am deeply concerned that, to many, Christianity has come to stand for preemptive war, the death penalty, and social Darwinism [sic - creationism?]. St. Francis once said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” In our current political climate where an anti-poor, anti-gay, xenophobic right-wing agenda is draped with the cloak of Christianity, we need to use words to change the debate to promote our progressive social justice agenda.

Do visit, you'll be glad you did.
Wild Rider

...questions of power...

Having kept the secret a secret for thirty-three years, W. Mark Felt at the age of ninety-one emerged on May 31 into the sunlight of network television to say that it was he, Felt, employed in the summer of 1972 as associate director of the FBI but operating undercover as the notorious "Deep Throat", who had set up the hit on the Nixon Administration.

...Felt's return to a world far different from the one in which he had tipped the Washington Post to the criminal modus operandi of President Richard Nixon's Praetorian Guard, furnished Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein with lines of inquiry that led from a burglary at the Watergate complex to a congressional investigation, to the arrest of twenty-seven federal bagmen, and eventually, in August 1974, to the president's resignation. The story unfolded over a period of two years, the nonpartisan anger of an aroused, citizenry sustained by the boisterous freedoms of a not yet muzzled press, supported by the actions of the Justice Department and by a ruling from the Supreme Court, grounded in the belief that a democratic republic could defend itself against the arbitrary abuse of power.

But that was long ago and in another country, and who now can imagine, much less pay to see, a politician (any politician, Democrat or Republican) coming into Congress, as did Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina in the winter of 1974, to speak for three hours on the topic of the Constitution; or an attorney general resigning his office, as did Elliot Richardson in the autumn of 1973, rather than carry out an unethical order from the White House...

President Nixon was forced from office in 1974 because democratic government was thought worth the trouble of preserving...Thirty-one years later, the Bush Administration commits crimes of a much larger magnitude - tampering with the last two presidential elections, a war of imperial conquest in Iraq marketed under the labels of holy crusade, America's civil liberties systematically disassembled or destroyed - but it doesn't occur to anybody to suggest that maybe the president should be impeached. The American people might know (on their own reconnaissance if not from court documents) that their government is both incompetent and corrupt, but who among them wishes to be reminded of the fact? The story of a democratic republic confronted with a mortal threat to both the letter and the spirit of its laws doesn't draw a crowd, gets in the way of the regularly scheduled programming, doesn't sell the high-end soap.

The television anchorpeople knew that the Watergate story once had been important, but they were hard-pressed to remember why. The cable news channels rounded up opinions from Nixon's prominent and still surviving associates, among them Henry Kissinger ("I don't think it's heroic to act as a spy on your president when you're in high office") and Charles W Colson, who wanted "kids to look up to heroes" and thought it shameful that Nixon (that wise prophet and noble statesman) had been airlifted out of Washington in a cloud of undeserved disgrace...Nobody cared to make the point that Kissinger in his capacity as Nixon's national security adviser routinely tapped Nixon's phone, or that Colson, as a White House special counsel, once proposed bombing the Brookings Institution and served seven months in prison for his work as a moonlighting thug.

The newsweeklies approached the story from the perspective of film critics. Time [Magazine]observed that Deep Throat as played by Hal Holbrook in the movie All the President's Men was more impressive than the theatrically impaired Felt...Newsweek questioned the movie's integrity, describing it as a far too simple tale told with a too sentimental emphasis on right triumphant over wrong. What the story really had been about was Washington office politics, ambiguous and sly, a run-of-the-mill bureaucratic intrigue blown out of proportion by a "Great Scandal Machine", giving rise to "antiauthoritarian excesses" that undermined everybody's faith in the wisdom of the White House, the fair-mindedness of the intelligence agencies, the good judgment of the Pentagon. President Bush, thank God, was doing his best to restore the people's trust in government. If sometimes he didn't succeed in his efforts (occasionally careless with the facts, often "too cocky", almost arrogant in his attitude toward nettlesome subordinates), at least he knew the right direction in which to steer the ship of state.

...from an appropriately anonymous source identified as "a senior advisor" to president George W. Bush and quoted last October in the New York Times Magazine..."That's not the way the world really works anymore ... we're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

The second observation, borrowed from Theodor Adorno's Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life, I came across (as one of the texts cited in a book proposal submitted by two scholars at the University of Illinois):"Things have come to pass where lying sounds like truth, truth like lying ... The confounding of truth and lies, making it almost impossible to maintain a distinction, and a labour of Sisyphus to hold on to the simplest piece of knowledge ... [marks] the conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power".

Joseph Goebbels [of] Nazi Germany taught the same lesson in what we've since come to know and love under the headings of aggressive marketing and corporate knowledge management. The propaganda minister understood that arguments must be crude and emotional, instinctual rather than intellectual, endlessly repeated...The language facilitates the transformation of a democratic republic into a military empire, moving on from a world in which words once were held accountable for their meanings, to a land of make-believe, securely defended, as is customary with empires, by "the conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power".

Excepted from the article, Moving on
by Lewis H Lapham

Harper's Magazine (August 2005)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I love historical trivia!

On this day in history in 1554, the earliest letter known to have been closed with sealing wax was sent from London to the Rheingrave Philip Francis von Daun in Germany by his agent in England, Gerrard Herman.

There, now you know!

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Be careful what you allow others to do in your name...

"An evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps to insure our domestic security and protect our homeland."

Sound familiar?

Which of the following made the above quote: President George W. Bush, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, Homeland Security Czar Tom Ridge, or Secretary of State Colin Powell?

The correct answer is none of the above. It was Adolph Hitler in 1922, writing about the creation of the German Gestapo.

This piece of trivia [hardly!] was sent to me by my wonderful niece-in-law, Amanda. She's a psych student at USC with a talented sideline as the photographer for USC's Daily Trojan [and also a damn fine photographic artist in her own right]. Love you, Amanda, and thanks!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Unleashing the Patriotic Church

Wow! These few excerpts were taken from a Progressive Blog Alliance article, HITLER’S POSITIVE CHRISTIANITY. The writer, Douglas William Krieger, is quite verbose and could use a good editor, but he makes a mean case for a meaner America. Check these excerpts out.

...Ultimately, a lie told long enough, and amplified to the uttermost, resounds with familiarity—YE SHALL BE AS GODS, KNOWING GOOD AND EVIL! This original deceit confounded our original forebears. This is no ordinary lie—it is THE LIE...

...In the 1920s, Hitler's German Workers' Party (pre Nazi terminology) adopted a twenty-five-point program with the clear intent to persuade the German people that "positive Christianity" was in full conformity to the "moral" convictions of the Party—i.e., the Party fully embraced the morality of Christianity and that Christianity was viewed as "singular" in the minds of that Party—Catholic and Protestants were considered as the foundation of German Christianity in its fullness and jurisdiction (the Party embraced both as one)....

[READ: In the 2000s, Bush's Republican Party (pre dictatorship terminology) has adopted a program with the clear intent to persuade the American people that "positive Christianity" is in full conformity to the "moral" convictions of the Republican Party—i.e., the Republican Party fully embraces the morality of Christianity and that Christianity is viewed as "singular" in the minds of that Party—Catholic and Protestants are considered as the foundation of American Christianity in its fullness and jurisdiction (the Party embraces both as one). -- my input]

...Nazism presents an embarrassment to Christianity and demonstrates the danger of blending "faith with politics." ...

...Note that Hitler claims to be a Christian and, as such, he has a duty to his own people—he too, like Jesus, must be a fighter for truth and justice—he must rid the Temple of the moneychangers, of the abominable Jews who harass his people, like Jesus did. The German people, according to Hitler, were being "plundered and exploited" and he would be NO CHRISTIAN if he didn't do something about it. Hitler's identification as a Christian was one of activism—not in name only! In this artful persuasion he under girded the German people in their predisposition to anti-Semitism, the full spiritual justification for their participation in the "Final Solution."...

[READ: Note that Bush [et al.] claims to be a Christian and, as such, he has a duty to his own people—he too, like Jesus, must be a fighter for truth and justice—he must rid the Temple of the moneychangers, of the abominable Unbelievers who harass his people, like Jesus did. The American people, according to Bush, are being "plundered and exploited" and he would be NO CHRISTIAN if he didn't do something about it. Bush's identification as a Christian is one of activism—not in name only! In this artful persuasion he undergirds the American people in their predisposition to anti-everyone else, the full spiritual justification for their participation in the "Final Theocracy." --my input]

..."It will at any rate be my supreme task to see to it that in the newly awakened NSDAP, the adherents of both Confessions can live peacefully together side by side in order that they may take their stand in the common fight against the power, which is the mortal foe of any true Christianity."---Adolf Hitler, in an article headed "A New Beginning," 26 Feb. 1925...

...The unity of the Church is a recurrent message delivered by Hitler. His object, of course, was "against the power"—i.e., the international Jewish conspiracy against the Church, and, of course, the German people and the world in general. The technique of solidifying the churches into the "Hammer of God" was a strategy that appealed to the vast majority of German Christians. That he would see in them such an instrument of righteous indignation was commending—both to them as the object of his insight, and to himself for his discernment of such...

...It is my firm conviction that this is precisely what is happening in America today. The appeal to the Christian religion in the battle “against evil” within the West is NOT an historic first! Don't be so quick to terminate this reading—let me explain. Who are those who most clearly understand the language of THE AXIS OF EVIL? Who are those who clearly grasp the "spiritual reality" behind Islamic terrorism? The current President is no fool in appealing to the most religious in leading his charge against the forces of evil that assail the current drama. The appeal to religious unity in the face of extremity is manifested in Islamic Jihad—Holy War. But, this appeal is far more sinister and powerful when placed in the hands of a "Christian President" about to inspire the faithful—far more potent is its impress. There is a righteous finality connected with it—a more sure word—an unseen and unmistaken cause behind this necessary action whose appeal is Ultimate and Conclusive. God, and God alone, is my judge—and you are "either for us or against us"—there is no compromise, there is no wavering between two opinions—LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT—OUR CAUSE IS JUST!...

...[W]e see the ultimate FOE of today’s Christianity lurks behind the fanaticism of an "evil religion"—notwithstanding the ecumenical protestations to the contrary—the CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG: This is a CRUSADE! Let freedom ring within the 10/40 corridor! At last, a leader that understands what real freedom is all about—for true freedom is RELIGIOUS in nature and outlook. Religious freedom is at the heart and soul of whatever freedom can possibly mean—without it, there is no freedom! A united Church is the most critical tool in forging a nation's will in the spread of this freedom—and in subduing every militant foe that would come against us.

[I only got about a 1/4 of the way through the article...Yikes!]

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Happy 21st Anniversary, Babe!

It's Thursday July 21, 2005

On this day... The Creation of the World, according to the ancient Egyptians

And you created mine on this day in 1984.

Thanks for hangin' in there. Here's to another 21. Love you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Reality of Rove

Take this first paragraph one sentence at a time. Let what it describes sink in...

If Newsweek's report is accurate, Karl Rove is more morally repugnant and more anti-American than Osama bin Laden...

Bin Laden, after all, has no affiliation with, and therefore no presumed loyalty to, the United States...

Rove, on the other hand, is a U.S. citizen and, as deputy White House chief of staff, a high-ranking official of the U.S. government sworn to uphold and defend our nation, its laws and its interests...

Yet he sold out America just to get even with Joe Wilson.

Osama bin Laden, conversely, is loyal to his cause. He has never exposed an Al Qaeda agent's identity to the media.

"[Knowingly revealing Plame's name and undercover status to the media] a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and is punishable by as much as ten years in prison," notes the Washington Post. Unmasking an intelligent agent during a time of war, however, surely rises to giving aid and comfort to America's enemies--treason. Treason is punishable by execution under the United States Code.

By Ted Rall Mon Jul 4, 7:00 PM ET

Friday, July 08, 2005

Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. "Patriotism" is its cult. It should hardly be necessary to say, that by "patriotism" I mean that attitude which puts the own nation above humanity, above the principles of truth and justice; not the loving interest in one's own nation, which is the concern with the nation's spiritual as much as with its material welfare --never with its power over other nations. Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one's country which is not part of one's love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.
— Erich Fromm
The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.
— Samuel P. Huntington
Today the real test of power is not the capacity to make war but the capacity to prevent it.
— Anne O'Hare McCormick
Another victory like that and we are done for. — Pyrrhus
Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country.
— Bertrand Russell

They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.
— Benjamin Franklin
The most tyrannical of governments are those which make crimes of opinions, for everyone has an inalienable right to his thoughts. -Baruch Spinoza, philosopher (1632-1677)

A date in history...

July 7th was when, in 1348, the Black Death arrived in England at Weymouth.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Of mountains and souls...

One day's exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographers' plates. No earthly chemicals are so sensitive as those of the human soul.

-John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)
Jeffrey R Hapeman took this picture of an aurora over Lac du Flambeau, WI on May 29, 2005. He accounts his experience, �Very bright but diffuse aurora from the CME last night. Highest intensity was between 12:30 and 1:30am Central Daylight time. There were rays and beams, and the show was quite impressive. I used a Canon 1Ds Mark II at ISO 1600 to capture this 30s exposure at f/2. The pinks reds and blues were not visible to the naked eye.�
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July 4th Reality Check

America doesn't really believe in democracy any more. It's just a slogan used to sell unpopular wars, or justify the greasy manuevers of a corrupt political machine. America doesn't want social justice, either -- just a few extra crumbs from the tables of the wealthy. It worships power and material success and expects those who don't to hold their tongues. It hears what it wants to hear and sees what it wants to see, and it has a corporate media establishment increasingly dedicated to ensuring that it always does...

Without that ideal, patriotism is just tribalism: the mindless glorification of "us" and the demonization of "them." And in the case of America, "us" includes a long list of right-wing idiots who I feel absolutely no affinity with or loyalty to -- beginning with Rush Limbaugh and continuing through the loudmouth Bush supporter who sits just outside my office. I don't want to be in their tribe. And I sure the hell don't want them in mine.

As for the rest of my fellow Americans? Their lives are no more -- and no less -- precious than any other group of human beings with a flag and a national anthem. I don't wish them ill, but the moments when I feel any emotionally solidarity with them (like on the morning of 9/11, or, briefly, in Jimmy John's the other day) are becoming quite rare. I don't really feel like I even know them any more.

Which means that if I still support the war on terrorism, or hope that America finds a way out of the Iraq quagmire, or wish for a more successful U.S. foreign policy, it's not out of patriotism. I live in the United States, my family lives here, and we're not moving, at least not any time soon. That being the case, I'd rather not see it nuked, or hit with a dirty bomb, or anthrax or smallpox. I'd also rather not live in a complete police state, which is what we may get if any of those things happen. That's not patriotism -- just the instinct for self preservation.

But not loving America -- or rather, what America is fast becoming -- isn't the same as believing there are no worse things than America. Bin Ladin and the fanatics who follow him aren't evil because they're the enemies of America, they're evil because they're evil -- because they slaughter innocent people, promote religious hatred and would rather see the Islamic world impoverished and ignorant than freed from their medieval fantasies.

Opposing that also isn't patriotism -- just common human decency, and a (probably vain) hope for a better world than this shit pile we live in...

If that be treason, I suppose I'll just have to learn how to make the most of it.

My thanks to Whiskey Bar, experted from Goodbye Columbus posted by Billmon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Relativism from the Right

Tomgram: The immoral relativists of the Bush administration
And other distractions of the Age of Bush

Tom Engelhardt

...In his speeches, George Bush regularly calls for a return to or the reinforcement of traditional, even eternal, family values and emphasizes the importance of personal "accountability" for our children as well as ourselves. ("The culture of America is changing from one that has said, if it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else, to a new culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life.") And yet when it comes to acts that are clearly wrong in this world -- aggressive war, the looting of resources, torture, personal gain at the expense of others, lying, and manipulation among other matters -- Bush and his top officials never hesitate to redefine reality to suit their needs...

You sweep opponents up on a battlefield, but you don't want to call them prisoners of war or deal with them by the established rules of warfare. No problem, just grab that dictionary and label them "unlawful combatants," then you can do anything you want. So you get those prisoners into your jail complex (carefully located on an American base in Cuba, which you have redefined as being legally under "Cuban sovereignty," so that no American court can touch them); and then you declare that, not being prisoners of war, they do not fall under the Geneva Conventions...

Here's the strange thing, then: No one in our lifetime has found the nature of reality to be more definitionally supple, more malleable, more… let's say it… postmodern and relative (to their needs and desires) than the top officials of the Bush administration.

Hat tip to for my excerpts...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Researchers help define what makes a political conservative

By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations 22 July 2003 (revised 7/25/03)

BERKELEY – Politically conservative agendas may range from supporting the Vietnam War to upholding traditional moral and religious values to opposing welfare. But are there consistent underlying motivations?

Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:

Fear and aggression
Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
Uncertainty avoidance
Need for cognitive closure
Terror management

"From our perspective, these psychological factors are capable of contributing to the adoption of conservative ideological contents, either independently or in combination," the researchers wrote in an article, "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition," recently published in the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin...

...The psychologists sought patterns among 88 samples, involving 22,818 participants, taken from journal articles, books and conference papers. The material originating from 12 countries included speeches and interviews given by politicians, opinions and verdicts rendered by judges, as well as experimental, field and survey studies.

Ten meta-analytic calculations performed on the material - which included various types of literature and approaches from different countries and groups - yielded consistent, common threads, Glaser said.

The avoidance of uncertainty, for example, as well as the striving for certainty, are particularly tied to one key dimension of conservative thought - the resistance to change or hanging onto the status quo, they said.

The terror management feature of conservatism can be seen in post-Sept. 11 America, where many people appear to shun and even punish outsiders and those who threaten the status of cherished world views, they wrote.

Concerns with fear and threat, likewise, can be linked to a second key dimension of conservatism - an endorsement of inequality, a view reflected in the Indian caste system, South African apartheid and the conservative, segregationist politics of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-South S.C.).

Disparate conservatives share a resistance to change and acceptance of inequality, the authors said. Hitler, Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form. Talk host Rush Limbaugh can be described the same way, the authors commented in a published reply to the article.

This research marks the first synthesis of a vast amount of information about conservatism, and the result is an "elegant and unifying explanation" for political conservatism under the rubric of motivated social cognition, said Sulloway. That entails the tendency of people's attitudinal preferences on policy matters to be explained by individual needs based on personality, social interests or existential needs.

The researchers' analytical methods allowed them to determine the effects for each class of factors and revealed "more pluralistic and nuanced understanding of the source of conservatism," Sulloway said.

While most people resist change, Glaser said, liberals appear to have a higher tolerance for change than conservatives do.

As for conservatives' penchant for accepting inequality, he said, one contemporary example is liberals' general endorsement of extending rights and liberties to disadvantaged minorities such as gays and lesbians, compared to conservatives' opposing position.

The researchers said that conservative ideologies, like virtually all belief systems, develop in part because they satisfy some psychological needs, but that "does not mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false, irrational, or unprincipled." They also stressed that their findings are not judgmental. [italics mine]

"In many cases, including mass politics, 'liberal' traits may be liabilities, and being intolerant of ambiguity, high on the need for closure, or low in cognitive complexity might be associated with such generally valued characteristics as personal commitment and unwavering loyalty," the researchers wrote...

..."For a variety of psychological reasons, then, right-wing populism may have more consistent appeal than left-wing populism, especially in times of potential crisis and instability," he said.
Glaser acknowledged that the team's exclusive assessment of the psychological motivations of political conservatism might be viewed as a partisan exercise. However, he said, there is a host of information available about conservatism, but not about liberalism.

The researchers conceded cases of left-wing ideologues, such as Stalin, Khrushchev or Castro, who, once in power, steadfastly resisted change, allegedly in the name of egalitarianism.
Yet, they noted that some of these figures might be considered politically conservative in the context of the systems that they defended. The researchers noted that Stalin, for example, was concerned about defending and preserving the existing Soviet system.

Although they concluded that conservatives are less "integratively complex" than others are, Glaser said, "it doesn't mean that they're simple-minded."

Conservatives don't feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions, he said. "They are more comfortable seeing and stating things in black and white in ways that would make liberals squirm," Glaser said.

He pointed as an example to a 2001 trip to Italy, where President George W. Bush was asked to explain himself. The Republican president told assembled world leaders, "I know what I believe and I believe what I believe is right." And in 2002, Bush told a British reporter, "Look, my job isn't to nuance."


Hat tip to Blogging for Truth for this interesting article from UC Berkeley News.