Friday, April 27, 2007

The Beauty of Free Speech and a Free Internet

Good Morning fellow Americans!

Isn't it great? Because of the wisdom of the founders, unmatched in the most part since their days, we have the freedom to make ourselves look like fools by what we say.

Look at the disarray of the right for example around their Presidential hopefuls. John McCain's Striaght Talk Express is running on flat tires. Thanks to the internet, his numerous public gaffes are known by far more people than jsut those that watch the evening news. In particular, note his comment about how safe the market was in Iraq. It was the net that showed the facts: gunships, helicopters, a battalion of men, previous clearing of the market, placed agents to look like sales people, and flak jacket. You know, the stuff every Iraqi has. That comment was as good as the related comment that General Patraeus drove around in his unarmored Humvee safely.

Then there is Dobson's attack on Giuliani for not being Christian enough for the Religious Reich. I guess the religious folk don't care for Giulianni's adultery or his stand on abortion. Perhpas if Dobson allowed Giulianni on his program to talk about his adultery, like Newt Gingrich did, then Dobson would brand him as brave, like he did for Gingrich. Especially since Giulianni recently flip-flopped on his stand on abortion. Republicans like wafflers like that.

Gingrich isn't really running, and his adultery would be the stuff of comedians for a long time. Not to mention his recent comments about the situation at Virginia Tech. The Crooks and Liars web site has the footage, as do many other sites. Basically he started with blaming video game violence. Then he launcehed into situational ethics which is, I guess, an anti-God leftist ethic. But wait! Isn't there a hugely popular game out now that has Christian soldiers walking ruined city streets killing people that won't convert?! Why, yes there is! Do you suppose Gingrich had that game in mind?

Then there's the flip-flopper Romney, who as Governor had different views about abortion. But now that he's running for the big office, ne needs the evangelical vote, and so said what they wanted to hear. His big issue with them though is that he's a cult memeber. At least according to Pat Robertson's 700 Club web site. Look under the Spiritual Life header, or puch cults into the search bar.

And there's serial adulterer Rudy to consider, who still is on a fence by appearances, on abortion. He'll never win the evangelicals that way. Nor will his Gingrich like history of adultery.

One thing they do all have in common, as well as potential candidate Fred Thompson, is that they are all out of sync with America on the war in Iraq. As any poll reader knows, almost three fourths of the country believes we should get out of Iraq. I myself heard Thompson just yesterday state on the radio that fighting is what we will do, it's really a question of where.

Because we have the internet, we can all see and hear these marvelous blunders of conservatism almost as they happen. Not that conservatives have a lock on verbal gaffes, or idiocy for all that matters.

But when it comes to fielding a Presidential candidate, it seems quite obvious to any one with functioning eyes that these wanna-bes are hopelessly out of step with reality and the country they think they are qualified to lead.

So bravo for free speech, You Tube, the net, and the wonderful technocrats that keep it functioning and those wanting to keep it free and out of the hands of big money control. Because of their tireless work, we can be front row center to what looks like one of the best circuses around, complete with loose-lipped Republi-clowns.

Let's make sure that we maintain this freedom. It is being assualted. Free has a lot of info on this issue, and this morning I read an article on the Common Dreams web site about internet filtering and censorship that is growing across the globe. The worst examples were in the Middle East. But according to the article, the number of countries doing it is growing.

To maintain any kind of rhetoric that we believe in the democratic principles of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, it seems that we should be raising our voices on this issue. Only those seeking a tyrannical rule attack these basic freedoms of a free society.

Let's help our planetary brothers and sisters enjoy their own circuses!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Resisting Theocracy

One might think that a Buddhist would welcome theocracy. After all, wasn't Tibet a theocracy? In true essence, no. Buddhists don't recognize a god of any kind. Their deities are nothing more than enlightened humans, or sentient beings of some kind. There was nothing "divine" about the Buddhas enlightenment. Rather, "the Buddhas enlightenment was rather a human being's direct, exact, and comprehensive experience of the final nature and total structure of reality." So wrote Robert Thurman in Essential Tibetan Buddhism.

That makes Buddhism ultimately a humanistic endeavor. And the more one pursues it, the easier it is to see it. So in the end, a Buddhist wouldn't welcome a theocracy, as it subjugates the mind. And they particularly wouldn't welcome any theocracy that would silence the dharma, which a Christian or Islamic theocracy would do.

Yes, it's true. Christians are terribly intolerant. They love to hang onto the Ten Commandments, which states they won't have any idols before God, and they really want to make that the law of the land, as long as it doesn't apply to their worship of power and money. They want to make it the law for the masses, not the elite.

Anyone paying attention these days is aware of this struggle between church and state. The religious right are bent on making America Christian. They go so far as to make the claim that it once was, or was supposed to be. Even a high schooler's reading of the Constitution would refute that fact, and any history reader knows it as well. And by history I mean the writings of Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, Madison, and the other founding fathers. NOT the writings of present day revisionists who are doing their best to present false quotations, as self taught Christian "historian" David Barton has admitted doing, and the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools not only repeat, but practice themselves.

Thankfully, there are people paying attention. Two web sites post great information about the issue of the separation of church and state that I visit regularly. One is the official blog of Americans United For Separation of Church and State. The other is Talk2Action, which goes into a bit more depth of what the religious right is doing in presenting their altered message.

There has also been a host of books that have emerged. A good historical analysis is Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy, Michelle Goldberg's Kingdom Coming, Chris Hedges' American Fascists, and for some debate on the bigger issue of God or not, there is Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, Sam Hill's Letter To A Christian Nation, and Christopher Hitchens' God is NOT Good. Hitchens' book appears to be more about how religion mucks up lives more than the question of God or not. It is brand new, and I am on the waiting list at the library. Bart Ehrman's books Misquoting Jesus is also a valuable resource for questioning the inerrancy of the Bible. Sam Hill also has a book titled The End of Faith, and I am on the library waiting list for that as well.

I do not believe the Christian version of reality. I think their very premise and beginning point is dubious. Their actions over the last couple decades have proved to me that my doubt is valid. And despite the fact I think that their religion, as well as any dogmatic, hierarchical, patriarchal religion is dangerous, under the Constitution of the United States of America, they have a right and the freedom to practice their religion. They do not have the right to subvert the Constitution as the law of the land, which many of them state is their goal. Which is the precise reason why they must be exposed, and stopped.

They have their rights and freedoms under our Constitution, and so do I.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What country can you think of that built a wall in a major city to separate the peoples? Need a hint?

Are you thinking about the one that came down in 1986, ending the Cold War, or so we like to think, and was erected by the evil Soviet empire? That would be a good guess.

But wrong.

It's the USA. Right in Bagdhad. In a sure fire way to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis everywhere, up goes a wall designed to separate the Sunnis from the Shiites.

Now I'm sure that this good neighbor policy effort will result in peace breaking out all over Iraq. This will be hailed an another American victory, sure to quell the violence that has seen, since the beginning of the recent escalation, not only the highest per day deaths of Iraqis, but the highest monthly death rate since we invaded back in 2003.

Yessir, nothing like segregation to bring people together. It surely worked in Poland during the Nazi occupation of that country, and it allows for great neighbor feelings like those in Berlin for almost half a century and between the two Koreas. Oh, and lets not forget the wall between the Israelis and Palestinians.

And this same mentality wants a wall between Mexico and the US. Surely that will just make for the best barbeques between neighbors.
Walls must surely be what signifies free democratic societies.

In all their blathering, and half baked immigration bills, still no one mentions the surest way to stop the hiring, and hence flood of illegals: Go after the employers. The righties don't ever mention the rule of law being applied to the employers. No sir. Apparently it only applies to those who violate certain laws.

What do you suppose would happen if we decided that if you hired an illegal immigrant that you went to jail and your business was shuttered? You can bet your bippy that the labor pool of illegals would dry up right quick.

And what the righties forget in all their wall/fascist thinking is that lower wages are the basic tenet of capitalism, and all these illegals have been ignored for this long for that very reason. And so all their rhetoric will amount to just that, because they have no power on Capital Hill who are very interested in and invested in keeping the wages of Americans low.

So like the gullible fish they are, they swallow the hook of wall building as a solution, forgetting all other details, not to mention the very nature of what makes America what it is.

My opinion is that we definitely need stronger border control. That can be partially done
by doing away with the reason most of them cross the border: jobs. So the keystone to any good immigration bill makes hiring an illegal a jailable offense, as I already mentioned.

I don't agree that illegals can be rounded up and deported. If there are as many as estimated, then it would take an enormous amount of money and man power to do it. It wouldn't be worth it. It is at this point better to make them pay a fine and become citizens, like the new bill does. It is a long process, and should require that they learn English.

And for most of the immigrants, these aren't problems. They would be glad to abide by these rules. A small percentage of them are the law breakers and welfarists, despite the image the righties want to project.

And most importantly, all students should be taught history, and review the many immigrant movements that made the American population what it is. That includes the influx of legal and illegal immigrants, the abuses and successes of immigrants, and what it means to be a citizen of America.

Then future generations won't be so inclined to think that the solution of a free democratic society is to build a wall.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

9mm Justice?

A predictable response by the fringe elements of the right wing, which are the most vocal, to the shootings at Virginia Tech is to arm more people. I first hear it on KVI, where Kirby Wilbur allows his callers to air their views, and he agrees with them, usually with "I think you're right." And right wing shill Michelle Malkin posted a piece over at stating the standard gun lobby response: If more people had guns....

And the examples cited are like those that occurred at Appalachian School of Law (I incorrectly stated it was Appalachian State. Thanks to an anonymaous reader I can correct this!)) where an armed shooter was forced to disarm by students who had retrieved their weapons from their vehicles. At a larger school like Tech, that would be a long time before a student got to their car because the campus is several times larger than Appalachian State. So obviously the solution is to allow people to carry the sidearms. Then we turn America into the wild west, which is correctly known for it's skewed sense of justice.

I happen to work with a former law enforcement officer. His opinion reflects that of many law enforcement officers. And many have said that when law enforcement does arrive, the question becomes, "Which one is the shooter?" Police officers will tell you that drawing their weapon at a scene raises the adrenalin considerably. Particulalry if their are armed people present with weapons drawn. So their hypothetical contention is, imagine then that an armed student is in the class, and at least one in the hall. The one in the hall rushes in after hearing the shots, to see the other student drawing his weapon in response to the shooter. The entering student then shoots the responding student, not seeing the real shooter who finishes re-loading or whatever, and promptly shoots the entering student.

Another problem to consider is that of marksmanship. I'm sure there are plenty of gun owners in America who aren't all that accurate. Police are supposed to be. Remember that incident years ago when New York police pumped 49 rounds into a hotel vestibule where they thought a kid was armed? Less than half of those shots hit their mark. These are trained people, yet somehow the right thinks that arming folks would them all marksmen. The greater likelihood is that errant shooting would take more innocent lives.

And we all know what would arise out of this: lawsuits. I'm sure they will arise in the Tech case because the law enforcement didn't respond to the first shooting as well as they could have. having no shooter, they didn't shut down the campus. There might even be some lawsuits against the state or the seller of the gun. Add more armed people, and those court cases will multiply. A solution to that may be to not allow cases, but that then runs into another problem.

And that's the concept of justice. To a right winger, justice seems best served in fascist 9mm fashion. And they must be certain that is what the founders were after, because they have used this rhetoric for years.

I have discovered though among most righties, a deplorable lack of knowledge of the Constitution. And if you read the Preamble to said document, you will see there a series of clauses as to why these people were founding this country. "We the order to...establish justice...." That's a foundational purpose for America.

And not the 9mm kind either. Any kind of reading reveals just what kind of justice they meant because it begins with Article 3 and continues in Article iv, and Amendments 4 through 8 are devoted strictly to that subject. The mention of guns? Once in Amendment 2.

People shooting at one another will nilly is not justice. End of the musket barrel justice was the kind of justice that the British exercised over the Americans, and the reason Americans chose another path. One in which even Brits would have had their day in court.

In my eyes, arming an already violent people is not the answer. A cursory glance at statistics reveals that there are more heavily armed populations, like Canada, while our numbers for deaths by firearms are by far the worst. The real problem isn't guns obviously, it's violence and the people who use them.

So gun control shouldn't bother any law abiding citizen. After all, the Second Amendment doesn't guarantee unfettered access to weapons for any reason. But I'm willing to bet that most righties today would sell their guns in a heartbeat if it meant that they were suddenly a member of their state National Guard unit, which is the intent of the Second Amendment.

In many places to today a felon can't vote. But he or she can drive to Virginia and buy a weapon without no background check, no waiting period, no anything. Cash and carry from any gun show.

What kind of world do you want to live in? One with 9mm justice, or the rule of law?

Friday, April 13, 2007

In Response to Tom

You post a poem in response to my rerquest for evidences? In that poem to less it makes a completely unsubstantiated claim that the nation was Christian. i can only presume that you meant America. Which of course makes you incorrect. It never was, nor was intended to be, even by the Puritans that settled Plymouth, a Christian nation.

Never mind for now the validity of Christianity. That's a different story, but in the end will need a discussion to consider theocracy.

When you can answer the questions, I will consider it a possibility. Until then, theocracy is merely a fantasy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

How The "Mighty" Have Fallen

I wonder how Monica Goodling feels, being a graduate of a Christian university, having had to plead the fifth? It certainly doesn't say much for the university or Christianity in my opinion. It would seem that the school itself is a lot less concerned with the character of the students than their dogma. Or it simply says that Christianity as is currently taught and practiced, and revealed by the likes of Monica Goodling, Pat Robertson, and Ted Haggard, is really a fantasy life. Barely more than a mythology that can't relate to a modern world.

I'm sure at some point that Monica will sell her story of how she fell from grace and committed a crime, then re-committed her life to Jesus. At that point she will probably become a teacher at Regent, her former school, and she will crank out second rate carbon copies of herself.

Either way, it tells me that Christianity has sold out. Money is the God they trust, and dogma is far more important than character. It wasn't much different than in Thomas Jefferson's days, except the money wasn't available from the taxpayers then.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Consider Theocracy

I will consider theocracy as a possible alternative to our Constitutional republic when Christians can explain to me, and provide valid historical support including from the founders and framers of America, explanations for the following:

1. The complete lack of reference to any God in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, other than the reference to the date at the end of the Constitution.

2. The complete lack of any reference or allusion to a scripture in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

3. Why the Barbary Treaty of 1797 says, "
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion...."

4. Why, after the Constitution was ratified, most of the states changed their constitutions and deleted all references to God and Christ.

5. Why, after almost 200 years, it was necessary to change the Pledge of Allegiance.

6. An explanation of the full context of Thomas Jefferson's inscription on the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC.

7. Why Christians feel it's necessary to violate the dictates of the Bible in presenting a revised history to their children and fellow worshippers.

8. Why it's necessary for them to try to change America to be a Christian nation by acts of legislation instead of the influence of love. How is that being a light that so shines before men?

9. What kind of governmental structure would exist under a theocracy, and how would it guarantee the inalienable rights of all men to be equal.

When I hear the answers to the above, following the criteria I laid out at the beginning, I will consider theocracy a viable alternative to a Constitutional republic.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Double Standard

Now Newt Gingrich, the newly courted Political Savior for the Religious Right, has done it. Newt is the guy of course that Dr. Dobson called courageous for admitting his many affairs on the radio.

Newt has stuck his foot in his mouth. What they seem to be forgetting is that their own Bible tells us exactly what is happening. Matthew 12:34 tells us that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. In other words, what is bouncing around in the mind of these people finds it's way out of their mouths. The same is true of drunken vituperation's like that of Micheal Richards and Mel Gibson. It isn't that the drunkenness adds these words, it basically opens the secret safe where they keep those feelings hidden.

So the Straight Talk Express, McCain's novel little adventure in trying to offend, uh, reach the American public, has a new passenger in Newt Gingrich. For those who have missed it, Gingrich seems to think that having bilingual schools makes them sound like ghettos. McCain's straight talk includes correcting his statement that troops have been wasted, and of course the recent one that it's safe to walk the streets of Baghdad. Providing of course you have heavily armed helicopters, snipers, a battalion of soldiers, and body armor on in a staged market. And everyone has that, right?

When will they learn? When will the religious right finally quit playing churchianity and realize that their hearts are exposed by their words, not to mention their actions?

Consider also the White House criticism of Speaker Pelosi's trip to Syria. Apparently diplomacy is a bad idea. As the intellectually challenged VP said, it rewards bad behavior. But that is only if those doing the talking are Democrats. Don't look at the fact that there is a Republican delegation there as well, headed by Reps. Aderson and Wolf. And the Assistant Undersecretary of State was there last month. That would make the criticism by the White House partisan and hypocritical. In other words, they are using their office in violation of the Hatch Act.

Thankfully we can catch the absurdity of all this hubris before it gets too far. Not unlike Orin Hatch's flat out lie on Good Morning America that fired US Attorney Carol Lamm was a campaign manager for Clinton in south California, and had only been an attorney for a few years. That contradicts Justice Department records showing Lamm as an attorney for 18 years, and hence unable to serve as campaign manager for Clinton. And this is all caught and researched and posted on the net withing hours.

The double standard? When it comes to the Republicans, it's only bad if someone else does it. Of bigger concern to me about what escapes their lips is what it reveals about their true feelings and intentions. That's when it is apparent that they have no inhibitions about deceit and lies.