Thursday, March 31, 2005


The Terri Schiavo story finally draws to a close.

I took no side in the "should-Terri-live-or-die" debate. I observed as various public figures exploited the woman, her family, and the passions of their constituents. I offered little commentary as the story played out. I watched some strange things happen all along.

What was learned from it all?

Well, as for me, I have already been through the dying-loved-one thing more times than a character from an Anne Rice novel, so there was no wisdom for me to glean from all that.

I can say this: I am constantly amazed, yet not surprised, by the depth of heartless, inconsiderate, vile exploitation to which the neocons will sink in their never-ending pursuit of offensive exploitation. Even a right-wing conservative judge told them that they went too far. The whole country seemed to engage in one nervous, grimacing sidelong glance as Uncle Neocon came to visit and barged in on a most intimate moment. The crass classlessness was so mortifying to the rest of us because we were actually embarrassed for them. Tom Delay, the lizard-faced moral compass for contemporary neoconservatism, took the opportunity to wage a campaign promoting hypocrisy. He won, and took his place in the hypocritical pantheon, next to you-know-who.

Lessons can be learned from tragedy. Little did the neocons suspect that in the midst of sadness and death, the most tragic thing was them.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Me? Surprised?

Here is a great blog that I visit when I can. On March 27, they had a post called "Why People Are Surprised." It has a couple of those Amazingly stupid statements by Cheney and Rumsfeld which we know and love. Of course, We're not surprised, are we?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Oestre!

Okay, all you pagans:

Easter Origins
More about Easter
Easter's Pagan Origins
Pagan Easter

Time to celebrate Spring Solstice, Fertility, Jesus, Rabbits, or whatever... to me the whole thing seems like a celebration of the marketing of hideous crap, and maybe even some diabolical hideous crap.

But, I do have fond memories, however dim, from my early childhood, of baskets of candy. Now I am fat and loathe pastels.

Of course, it's coincidental that in the middle of all this is the ongoing Schialvo debacle, wherein the republicans, ever-vigilant guardians of morality, are using a brain-damaged woman who is kept alive by medical science as a vessel for their hideous political expoitation. In fact, they said:
"The pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue. ... This is a great political issue"
Republican point man Tom Delay, under investigation and heading for indictment, takes the opportunity that God has stricken this woman and her family with misfortune so that the world could see how difficult life is for him:
Speaking last Friday to a group of conservative Christians, DeLay proclaimed, "One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America. ... This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others."
Poor Tom Delay. Poor "conservative" movement, whatever that is. They control all three branches of government in the world's last remaining superpower, along with puppet governments elsewhere, most of the planet's wealth and resources, but gosh darn it, the criticism really hurts their feelings! Oh, sob!

Thank God that, well, God, is on their side, and will inflict His wrath on anyone who says something bad about His chosen party. But wait - what about what these guys said:
"The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine." - George Washington

"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion ..." - Treaty of Tripoli, 1797

"Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa." - The U.S. Supreme Court, 1947

"The national government ... will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality.” - Adolf Hitler
So, happy easter, everyone... another ancient ritual celebrating the natural order of things. Seasons change. New life appears, while other passes away. Amazing, isn't it?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Life is a Game

Wow, I looked for SheaNC on google out of curiosity, and I found this.

Has anyone else ever seen this? I guess someone obviously has... I hadn't! If it's new to you too, look for your blog on there and see if you're in it too!

Rich Bastards

Sharing The Sacrifice
"It's been two years since the United States first entered Iraq, but for the majority of Americans—those lucky enough not to have loved ones serving in the Middle East—this doesn't feel like wartime. That's because there's been little interest in Congress about the compromises of war. And no one is less concerned about shared sacrifice than the wealthy, who are getting permanent tax cuts while the war bill is passed onto our children. Chuck Collins of United For A Fair Economy explains why now is the worst possible time to abolish the estate tax—our only tax on accumulated wealth.

"Our present inequality of sacrifice is not lost on some veterans' groups. 'During the Civil War, rich people could buy their way out of the draft,' said Charlie Richardson, co-founder of Military Families Speak Out. 'Now, the wealthy don't have to pay anything to avoid the draft and they get tax cuts on top.'"
Is it any wonder why Dracula was a Count, instead of a peasant?

Friday, March 25, 2005


I posted this over at Liberal Thought

The Problem(s)

This has already shown up on a number of blogs, but it is so interesting I had to post it for those who might not have seen it yet. For those of us who are not slaves to the party line, whether liberal or conservative:
The First Problem is the Republicans, the Second is the Democrats

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

What's New, Caribou?

On a cold still night, if you listen, you can hear the Screams From The Wilderness echoing across the tundra. Not like the soft, gentle breezes of the blue caribe, the Screams often take the form of a chilling blast of cold, clear, insight... and a healthy dose of justifiable rage.

Scream about America's use of nuclear weapons in Iraq!

When the uranium bullets, missiles, or bombs hit something or explode most of the radioactive uranium turns instantly into very, very small dust particles, too fine to even see (they call it: uranium oxide, that's the really bad stuff). When US troops or Iraqis breathe even a tiny amount into their lungs, as little as One Gram, it is the same as getting an X-Ray every hour for the rest of their shortened life.

The uranium cannot be removed, there is no treatment, there is no cure. The uranium will long outlast the veterans' and the Iraqis' bodies though; for, you see, it lasts virtually forever.

How many Nagasaki Bombs equal the Radiation in the 2003 Iraq war? Answer: About 250,000 Nagasaki Bombs.

The American Military knew the symptoms of radiation poisoning in 1943 too; starting with the irritated sore throat through to an agonizing death from being cooked from the inside out.

Every year about this time the Southern winds leave a fine desert sand on the windshields of cars parked outside in Africa then Continental Europe and Britain. Soon this sand dust will carry a surprise. Thanks to the Americans. Thanks to us. We did this to the world. And, we wonder why they hate and despise us so.

Scream about waging holy wars for the neocon empire!

“As thousands gathered to hear Mr. Bush extol ‘freedom’ in Washington, D.C., security preparations had transformed the Capitol into what the New York Times called ‘a steel cocoon.’ Missile launchers defended the skies; manhole covers were welded shut to secure the streets. Militarized police, metal detectors, body searches, and other stigmata of the garrison state were on full display. Performers in the inaugural parade were instructed not to do so much as look directly at the president, lest they be regarded as security threats.”

It was in such an environment that Dubya exhorted us to bring freedom to the world... Contrary to neocon spin, we did not go to bed on September 10, 2001 innocently minding our own business... When you have troops in 130 countries around the world, you will inevitably have a few people hacked off at you. Because those who are hacked off at us lack the wherewithal to conquer us, they settle for making our lives miserable. Terror is a tactic dating back to the French Revolution. To think you can end terror by means of military adventurism is equivalent to thinking you can teach whales to tap dance.

"...The price of empire is terror. The price of occupation is terror. The price of interventionism is terror.”

Which brings me to another question: where do we get this idea that an American empire will be permanent? Not from the Brits, Greeks, Romans or Soviets [or the Japanese].

And if you're tired of arguing with the arrogant and the egotistical, Scream about this!

No concept lies more firmly embedded in our national character than the notion that the USA is "No. 1,"... Any office seeker saying otherwise would be committing political suicide. In fact, anyone saying otherwise will be labeled "un-American"... We're an "empire"... that must borrow $2 billion a day from its competitors in order to function. Yet the delusion is ineradicable. We're No. 1. No. 1? In most important categories we're not even in the Top 10 anymore. Not even close. The USA is "No. 1" in nothing but weaponry, consumer spending, debt, and delusion.

The northern lights might hurt your eyes sometimes, but they can be beautiful. Honest.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Okay, Me Too.

I must be the last person on the planet who has not yet posted a blog about Terri Schiavo. So, here it is.

First of all, my offering will not be an opinion about whether she should live or die. I know what my own limits are, and when I would rather not continue living. I think if the issue is considered from the perspective of what one would want for themselves, it is easier to reach a conclusion about what TS would want.

The main idea that I want to present is the one which applies most readily to the political aspect of this blog. That is, that President Bush is demonstrating, as usual, an apalling amount of hypocrisy in order to exploit a tragic situation for the political gain of himself and his associates. The reason I say this is because:

1. Bush campaigned on the strength of the notion that it is wrong for government, or courts, or the villified "trial lawyers" to get involved in medical decisions that should be left to doctors and patients. This was no small issue during the 2004 presidential campaign - everything that was considered in any way bad about healthcare in America was blamed on healthcare-related litigation.

2. As governor, he signed the Texas Futile Care Law which allows doctors to cease life-support even in the face of objections by the patient's family, and it has been utilized, too. Now, Bush flip-flops. Again.

The very idea that this president and so many of his neocon cohorts would go to such lengths to exploit this tragic, intimate, private matter, simply to gain what Bush so callously refers to as "political capitol", is sick.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Old News?

Sometimes, things just keep getting weirder.

It has already been discussed how journalists who are too critical of the BFEE seem to meet an untimely end (1, 2). Then, Hunter S. Thompson checks out, leaving many to ask why.

Thompson was critical of the Bush regime from way back, as in this interview, and he may have had knowledge of some bad things that happened, the revelation of which is unwelcome by those powerful people involved (here's more about the Franklin coverup).

Hey, I'm just sayin', you know? Just sayin'. I'm never surprised.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Wait 'Til You See the Extra Features on the DVD

Ex-Marine Says Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction
United Press International

A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.

Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.

"I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced," Abou Rabeh said.

"We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed," he said.

He said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then they shouted at him in Arabic: "You have to surrender. ... There is no point in resisting."

"Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well," Abou Rabeh said.

Abou Rabeh was interviewed in Lebanon.

© YellowBrix, Inc. Copyright 1997-2005
Taking this baby on the road was murder. It's hard enough on Broadway. But wait until the movie comes out - I hear the special effects are awesome...

Neocon Productions Presents: Fascism Friday!

Reprinted from Bush Watch

The Bush Fascist Index (revised 03.05.05)

"Fascism: Any program for setting up a centralized autocratic national regime with severely nationalistic policies, exercising regimentation of industry, commerce, and finance, rigid censorship, and forcible suppression of opposition." --Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Early on during the first term of the Bush presidency many progressives characterized Bush's statements and actions as "fascist" and, for dramatic effect, compared him with Adolph Hitler. While they were reacting to Bush policy, they also recalled that the U.S. government found that Bush's grandfather had illegally aided the Nazis during the 30's. Conservatives responded that the comparison was exaggerated, since Bush had not done the things that Hitler had done, like imprisoning and murdering European jews. Nevertheless, it's clear that it was Bush's fascist leanings that progressives were focusing upon. In comparison with what had came before, a trend toward fascism was seen in the early days of the Bush presidency, and became more pronounced after 9/11.

In 2002, Laurence W. Britt's Fascism Anyone? analyzed seven fascist regimes in order to find the common threads that mark them as fascist: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco's Spain, Salazar's Portugal, Papadopoulos's Greece, Pinochet's Chile, and Suharto's Indonesia. He found 14 common characteristics (reprinted below, with 6 additions by Umberto Eco) and concluded:

"Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not."

We think "maybe not." It's just a matter of degree. Reading the daily news, we come across numerous critics of the Bush Administration who document, point to, or warn about each of the characteristics used to identify a fascist regime. We're presently constructing a Bush Fascist Index, which will consist of 20 characteristics, each multiplied by a "grade" of 1 through 5. Your input is invited. Further analysis of the past as well as future events will likely change the total index score, once it is computed. --Politex, 03.03.05

20 Characteristics Of A Fascist Political Party

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people's attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice -- relentless propaganda and disinformation -- were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite 'spontaneous' acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and 'terrorists.' Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes' excesses.

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting 'national security,' and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite's behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the 'godless.' A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of 'have-not' citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. 'Normal' and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or 'traitors' was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Here are six more characteristics found in Umberto Eco's "Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt," from New York Review of Books, 22 June 1995, pp.12-15.

15. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say. In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view -- one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People. Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against "rotten" parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.

16. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show. [When fascism is employed in a society with democratic tradions, one strand of Newspeak is to use the traditional words, like "freedom," but to give them new meaning. This strategy is also employed when new programs are initiated. --Politex]

17. [As opposed to Ur-Fascism,] the critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason. Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.

18. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration. That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old "proletarians" are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.

19. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle. Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such "final solutions" implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.

20. [The Ur-Fascist leader presents himself as the heroic representative of the characterists of fascism. As such, his image is ubiqutous in the media, and is often photographed in costume in conjunction with images or people that represent the fascist characteristics noted above. --Politex] Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons -- doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy St. Patrick's Day :)

Well, happy St. Patrick's Day (also 1, 2, & 3)

Now, how does all that fit into the context of Constantly Amazed, Yet Never Surprised?

It reminds me of the wonderful interview conducted with George Bush by an Irish journalist (a real journalist, not a pre-packaged neocon shill providing soft, scripted questions). The interview begins 15:25 minutes into the program if you click on the link "entire show", but I encourage you to watch the whole thing.

Bush was so befuddled by some of these unscripted questions that he went loopy, behaving like a petulant child. It was simultaneously sad and amusing, though much less amusing as one realized this buffoon is the President of the United States. There was a time when American presidents were greeted like royalty over there. It is disheartening to recognize how much damage he has done to America's standing in the eyes of the rest of the world (and to those who say the rest of the world doesn't matter: please encourage Bush to continue his stated plan to go to Mars, and then go there, and please, take him with you).

St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland... I wish it were as easy to drive the snakes out of the White House.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Ten... Um, Eight... Um, Six... Okay, I guess Five... I Mean, Three... Okay, Maybe Not Three, But Two! Two Commandments!

Dissecting the Ten Commandments
reprinted in its entirety from Counterbias

March 9 2005
Doug Griffin

With the debate raging over the display of the Ten Commandments at America’s courthouses and other government buildings, I wanted to analyze each commandment with something called logic.

I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

First of all, what does this commandment have to do with law? Nothing says control like “obey me and only me.” This is the most blatant attempt by the authors of the Christian Bible to control you. You are not allowed to question this, only accept it. I’d question anything that says, “this is the only way and all others are false.” These are the edicts of an insecure god, not a powerful one. Also, if God is all-knowing and all-powerful, there is no need for the middleman (Moses of old, Benny Hinn in modern times) to deliver the message to the masses. Throughout history there have always been hucksters—and I'm sorry but, theoretically, Moses might qualify—saying that they are delivering the message of God. I heard D. L. Hughley once say, “everybody that says they work for God, isn’t necessarily being truthful.” Or something to that effect.

Jesus is quoted as saying, "If those who lead you say to you, 'See, the Kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."

This is one of those quotes that you won’t hear often at church because the statement basically cuts out the middleman—your pastor(s). If you claim to be Christian, it stands to reason that you would follow the words of Christ—and not necessarily the Old Testament which Jesus supposedly made null and void. For all you fire-and-brimstone conservatives, that means you’ve got to let go of a lot of your beliefs. That is, if you are truly a Christian. But that requires change—possibly your biggest fear.

II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Again, nothing to do with the law. And again, here is another control mechanism. Do you realize that only the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—they're all related) require you not to question their respective validity? From a logical standpoint, does it make sense that an all-knowing, all-powerful entity needs:

A) hucksters and charlatans to spread the message? B) your total, unquestioning obedience to soothe God’s ego? And last, but not least, C) your money?

I think if one can think logically, the answer to these questions is “No.” But logic has no place in organized religion, otherwise, most wouldn’t exist.

III. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Again with the vanity. And again, not a law. Why anyone with higher than a third grade education—around the time I started questioning religion—buys into the absurdity that any omnipotent figure would be this petty, is beyond me.

IV. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Almost halfway through and no laws yet. The true Sabbath is Saturday; the origins of the word Saturday bear that out. In Spanish, Saturday is Sabado. Christianity can’t get their own days right in this respect, so they go to church on Sunday. Obviously it is okay to question or even change some rules to suit your needs. This too should be a reason to question. But most Christians wish to continue the status quo and be slaves to their beliefs rather than think for themselves as Jesus Christ—again, the namesake of the religion—directed.

V. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Five commandments in, and so far nothing resembling any laws we have on the books. Maybe this one should be a law considering the way we treat elderly people in this country.

VI. Thou shalt not kill.

Finally, a law! The problem is that people, including Christians, kill all the time. From the original Crusades to the modern day Crusades of President Bush (a devout Christian), and everyday across America. The man accused of being the “BTK” serial killer is reportedly a devout Christian and active member in his church—probably a registered Republican too. Go figure. Additionally, abortion clinics have been bombed by Christians—ironically called pro-lifers. Those bombings took the lives of innocents as well; some of the victims have been pregnant women, who would no more think of abortion than the most avowed pro-lifer, but whose only mistake was working in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out!Huh? Can I get an Amen?

VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Another no-brainer, but not a law. If it were, the sanctity of marriage might actually mean something, rather than the ridiculous and un-constitutional notion of banning gays from it. If you would not want your spouse to cheat on you, why then would you cheat on him or her? Why does one need a commandment to uphold their marriage vows? If you follow one of the most basic of Christian doctrines—Do unto others—you need only think to yourself before you break that vow, “How would I feel if my spouse were to do what I am about to do?” If you're honest with yourself, you wouldn’t like it. It might even make you want to kill someone.

VIII. Thou shalt not steal.

Hey, another law. That’s two. We’re cooking with gas now!

IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

This one is only a law if you are under oath. This falls under the do unto others category.

X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Again, do unto others… but not a law.

So, only two of the ten commandments are actual laws on our books. Why then must the commandments be displayed on government property?

Jesus reportedly summed up the Ten Commandments with two:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself.

Buddhism simply says, “Cause no harm.”

That sums up everything that Commandments 5 through 10 discuss in one simple sentence. It sums up life in general. Is what you are doing at this moment causing harm to anyone—ncluding yourself? That’s the only question you need to ask yourself before you do anything—lie, cheat, steal, kill, abuse—to any person or animal.

Commandments 1 through 4 basically feed the alleged vanity of God. Again, I ask, why would an omnipotent being be vain and need ego-stroking?

The question has to be asked, again, why display something at our courthouses that really has nothing to do with our laws?

It is the ego of Christianity—not of God—which compels Christians to insist the Ten Commandments be displayed. Everyone does not worship the Christian God and it does not make those people wrong because they do not. Nor should it diminish the power of the Christian God simply because the commandments are not displayed. Give God a little more credit!

To me, one of the biggest problems with Christianity, indeed Judaism and Islam as well, is the arrogance that each have in saying that theirs is the only way. If you notice, the further west you go on the globe, the more arrogant the practitioners of the religion in the region. And you just don't get any further west or more arrogant than the United States of America.

I am not an atheist. I grew up in the Baptist church. I started questioning the contradictions in the Bible—and there are many—a long time ago. However, I do still believe in a higher power. I just don’t believe that I am as detached from that power as the messengers of Christianity would have us believe. I believe that we are all God. I don’t need a filter nor do I need to be told how to connect—I am already connected to God.

It has been my experience that getting to heaven is the sole motivation for Christians to do the right thing.

In that respect, I ask two final questions:

Is it best to do what is right because you have a perceived reward waiting for you in the hereafter? Or, is it best to do what is right simply for the sake of doing what is right?

Cause no harm.

I'm Still Waiting...

...for someone to tell me what the "Defense of Marriage Act" is supposed to be defending marriage from. This, maybe?

If you ask me, "Defense of.." = "defensive" = "intimidated" = "afraid" = "homophobic".

Oh, I get it! Now that the republicans are eliminating the inheritance taxes... gays want to leave their estates to their partners, so the republicans will have to surrender a fraction of the wealth to homosexuals! Is that what they're afraid of?

Lambs to the Slaughter

US held youngsters at Abu Ghraib

Brig Gen Karpinski said US commanders were reluctant to release detainees... In her interview, she said Maj Gen Walter Wodjakowski, then the second most senior army general in Iraq, told her in the summer of 2003 not to release more prisoners, even if they were innocent. "I don't care if we're holding 15,000 innocent civilians," she said Maj Gen Wodjakowski told her. "We're winning the war."
Winning hearts and minds: rip out their hearts, and they'll change their minds.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

LINKS LIST NEWLY UPDATED! (er, I mean that in a humble way)


SheaNC finally updated his amazing list-o-links. Categorized for your convenience, but remember: it's always a work in progress, so more stuff is on the way, including links to other blogs, etc. Woo Hoo!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Highway to HELLiburton

Where does one begin? It's important not to forget that these vile, morally bankrupt, robber barons have free reign over the Whitehouse. They take whatever they want, they gleefully endanger the lives of Americans both soldier and civilian, and you're paying them a crapload of money to do it (both in earned and stolen $). Liars and thieves. The republican neocon ideal.

- Halliburton Watch(Main Site)
- Investigations
- Halliburton bills taxpayers $45 per case of soda, $100 per bag of laundry
- Halliburton faces criminal inquiry into its business ties with Iran
- Halliburton operates in Iran despite sanctions
- Bribery investigation could lead to indictment of Cheney
- Total value of Halliburton's military contracts equals $21 billion
- Halliburton expands economic ties with U.S.-declared 'enemy' Iran
- U.S. Paid Iraq Contractors With Cash
- Halliburton could get $1.5bn more Iraq work
- Halliburton admits it 'may have' criminally rigged bids on contracts

What do you think the republicans would say if this was happening under a democratic administration? Would they defend democrats' doing business this way? Would they say they are violating the law? Would they say they deserve to be prosecuted? Would they call them traitors? What about the moral implications of making their money dealing with a country that has been on our enemies list for years? Oh, who are we kidding? The republicans would destroy a democratic government that did what they do, but they will defend Halliburton no matter how much taxpayer money they steal, laws they break, or lives they destroy. It's only Right.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Bon Voyage!

U.S. Sends Detainees Abroad for "Interrogation"

The Bush administration's secret program to transfer scores of terror suspects to foreign countries to be imprisoned and interrogated has been carried out by the CIA
Whenever the governments' secret plans are revealed, you know you're in for a good read.

The transfers were portrayed as an alternative to what U.S. officials have said is the costly, manpower-intensive process of housing them in United States or U.S.-run facilities in other countries.
Costly? The same regime that can afford to simply lose (poof!) billions of unaccounted-for dollars in Iraq, that can sign off on every pork-barrel scheme that comes down the pike, that has screwied the taxpayers out of over a billion dollars in overcharges to their contractor cohorts, who can turn a budget surplus into an astronomical deficit and still demand more money from the taxpayers, who spend and spend and spend and spend... they say it's more cost effective to send detainees overseas instead of housing them here? Must everything be outsourced?

In recent weeks, several former detainees have described being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques and brutal treatment during months spent in detention under the program in Egypt and other countries.
Actually, the republicans call them "pranks."

In public, the Bush administration has refused to confirm that the rendition program exists, saying in response to questions about it only that the United States did not hand over people to face torture.
What would you expect from the Liar in Chief? Bush's head would explode if he were to flirt with the idea of telling the truth.

Former government officials say the CIA has flown 100 to 150 suspected terrorists to other countries since the Sept. 11 attacks, including Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan.
Fly the friendly skies!

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Theocracy Sucks

Hidden Passages
Our First Amendment says that there shall be “no establishment of religion.” In his speech, Bush was clearly establishing religion. He was denying a place in the United States for those without faith. And while he waved at those of other faiths, his repeated allusions were mostly to the Christian Bible.

In his America, there is no distinction between our public, secular values and his private, religious faith.

For those who don’t share his faith—and for those who do but who also appreciate the need to separate church from state—America is becoming an increasingly inhospitable place.
Little tyrants have claimed divine right to justify their evil throughout history. Why would Bush be any different?

Strange Bedfellows

ACLU Comes to Rush Limbaugh's Defense

"For many people, it may seem odd that the ACLU has come to the defense of Rush Limbaugh," ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon said in a released statement, "But we have always said that the ACLU's real client is the Bill of Rights, and we will continue to safeguard the values of equality, fairness and privacy for everyone, regardless of race, economic status or political point of view."

This shows how totally great the ACLU is, and why so many neocons hate them: Their purpose is to make sure the government obeys the law; to protect American citizens from abuse of power even if it means defending someone who has trashed them for years.

They choose values over vendetta. Good for them.

You Can't Eat a Yellow Ribbon

Budget plan cuts veterans’ benefits
More than 10,000 Washington state veterans could face a $1,000-a-year [cost] increase for their medical care under a Bush administration budget proposal, a veterans advocacy group says. And state officials warn that the White House spending plan could force out... residents at... veterans homes... "This is a... budget which reflects this administration’s priority for vets,” said [the] secretary of veterans affairs.

Ah, compassionate conservatism. Remember how much that great inaugural party cost? Better spent on a big party than on armor and protective gear for military personnel. Enjoy those tax cuts. Buy some more magnetic car ribbons.

VA's poor service is 'dirty little secret,' man says - and that's before the cuts.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

"Sound as a Pound" - Austin Powers

The sorry fiscal record of a "conservative" administration.
"Most of these cuts would come out of state and local budgets, adding to the burdens their taxpayers would have to take up if services are to be maintained."

Yes, supporters of federal tax cuts, those costs are shifted to the states, who are even less equipped to pick up the tab. States' rights? More like a right, a left, a combination, another right, jab, jab, move in, another right, and they're down!

Also, Libertarian blogger Cut To: makes a good case for the conservative argument against Bush's economy.

Journalism Update: Last Time, Really.

White House press corps flap is far from over. Not only that, but the republican party continues to flaunt loose ethics as it is discovered that Pro-privatization Social Security experts on TV are paid for by the right.

Their reply: "Dan Rather." That defense grows more tiresome with every new discovery of right-wing media corruption.

Don't Count Your Chickens Before They're Blown Up

Many are pleased with recent developments in the middle-east. That includes journalists, although it's hard to tell anymore which journalists are on the republican payroll without a score card. They will proclaim, of course, that George Bush is singly responsible for all of it, just as they credit Ronald Reagan with single-handedly winning the cold war (he didn't). These praises claim a spot on the shelf of history alongside the ones for mobsters who kept the docks safe during WWII.

1. Elections in Iraq, the recent resignation of Syrian-sympathizer Prime Minister Omar Karami, and President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that elections would take place this fall all appear to be positive signs of progress for democracy in the Middle East. These are welcome and promising developments. However, the Bush administration cannot take credit for these events.

2. Be careful before crediting the Bush Administration with causing this week's movements toward democracy in the Middle East.

Update: This Scream from the Wilderness indicates that all is not as it seems in the middle east. The article includes this great line:
The claims that recent democratic developments in Arab countries prove that the Bush doctrine has succeeded are as premature as the "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Lincoln.
Bush? Propaganda? Who knew?

Yeah, Good Luck Blaming the Management

"Secretary Rumsfeld bears direct and ultimate responsibility for this descent into horror by personally authorizing unlawful interrogation techniques and by abdicating his legal duty to stop torture".

GOP (Gods Of Pain)

One More Reason to Become an Ordained Minister from an Ad in the Back of a Magazine

House OKs Bill on Faith-Based Jobs
"The House on Wednesday approved a job-training bill that would allow faith-based organizations receiving federal funds to consider a person's religious beliefs in making employment decisions. Under current law, religious groups that receive federal money for job-training programs must obey civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in hiring or firing."

Oh, we wouldn't want any of that "civil rights" crap to stand between the so-called evangelical christian vote and their partisan payoff, would we? Hell no!

Well, they've set a precedent now... they have to give tax money to religious groups like this... or this... or this..!

My position is that the legislation described in the article is a constitutional violation of the separation of church and state. Aside from the fact that it allows these organization to violate civil rights, if some religious groups receive state funding while others don't, then the state has etablished a precedent of endorsing a particular religion. And that is an ominous step towards theocracy. Or, I should say... another step taken.

This is why I am reluctant to jump on the Hillary bandwagon.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Fun With Math

This is borrowed from Bartcop:

Why do we keep hearing "51% is not a mandate" from the media talking heads?

According to the Brookings Institute, approximately 120,300,000 voted for a presidential candidate on 02 November, 2004, a 59.0% turnout of 203,898,000 eligible voters in a US population of 293,027,571 (July 2004 est. by the CIA).

Of that, 50.9% of ballots (according to the CIA) were attributed to Bush. That is, IF the election results were legitimate; i.e. not tampered with - but, let's leave that aside for the moment, ignore the hundreds of "irregularities," and assume for the sake of argument that the election was 100% legitimate.

So, we've got 30% of eligible voters endorsing the GOP.

Of those, a Gallup poll indicated that only 6% of these voters chose Bush due to his "agendas/ideas/platforms/goals." The balance chose him due to some level of brand loyalty to the GOP, or perceived personal qualities attributed to Bush.

That means 6% of 30% - 1.80% of the electorate - actually supported Bush's platform. No information is available regarding the number of Bush voters who understand and/or can explain any such alleged platform.

So, that's the real number of people who support the Bush agenda. Slightly less than one out of every fifty eligible voters.

1.80% is not a "mandate."

But, it gets better.

Consider that 1.80% represents approximately 2,165,400 actual votes, in a US population of 293,027,571.

That means 0.74% of America voted to endorse the Bush agenda. Three quarters of one percent is not a "mandate."