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Friday, December 31, 2004

 Reflections on 2004

Last year I wrote my family a letter about how I was concerned over the future of democracy in America. That concern has been replaced by a longing for a democracy that once was.

I began the year optimistically, working with the Howard Dean campaign. With his bumper sticker on my car and his sign in my front yard (both firsts for me) I met regularly with other local activists to expound Dean’s message: we wanted our country back from the kleptocrats that had hijacked it. We wanted out of Iraq not because we were anti-war pacifists per se – in fact most “Deaniacs” I met had supported the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan – but because our cold calculating realism told us that it was against America’s best interests.

As the background investigation for my security clearance progressed (I work in the intelligence community), a friend in the neighborhood phoned me to say that the investigator had stopped by his home asking questions about me. “Does he support any organizations that advocate the violent overthrow of the US government?”

“No,” my friend responded, “but he used to have a Howard Dean sign on his lawn.”

The investigator apparently laughed, and said that someone else had mentioned that. Not that it mattered: in the end my clearance was granted. I was free to continue working for a defense contractor staffed with people that worship Chimpy McFlightsuit. Yee-haw.

A Dean presidency was not to be. Every four years the national news media collectively destroy the democratic frontrunner: Kennedy in ’80, Hart in ’84, Biden in ’88… 2004 was no exception, as Dean fell and Kerry became the nominee. Good man, lousy candidate. Grassroots support withered, and, of course, Bush “won.”

The outcome was predictably depressing, but I was more saddened to learn that according to our European allies the election “did not meet democratic standards.” This third stolen election in a row (evidence strongly suggests that 2002 was also stolen) was nicely summarized in the headline of the London Daily Mirror: “How Can 59,054,087 People Be So Dumb?”

What has become of us? I am so very ashamed to be an American right now. The last time religion crowded out reason it was called the Dark Ages. Is a theocratic police state the new American dream?

With so much evil being perpetrated in my name, I have been hard-pressed to find joy during this year, much less this holiday season. My solace has been to focus on the small pleasures that come from having an amazing wife and four loving and joyful kids. Becoming lost in the moment is healthy. But although we continue to thrive, we all have passports and stand ready to find freedom elsewhere should the vise of authoritarianism tighten further.

I know many of you feel the same way. Together let us hope for a more humane 2005.


Blogger Electro said...

Well I feel good about the future. I try not to look back except when it will help me in the strugles of today. America has changed a lot in the 200+ years She has been around. I will be living outside the U.S. more in the future, in China. I wonder if you have lived outside the states for an extended period, I enjoyed my time away but missed the beauty of the wide open spaces of the west. I don't get out to the places I like the most as often as I would like. For me I am going to continue letting others run the world while I simply enjoy it. What saddens me most is the people of this world not respecting the life of others and it happens in so many ways and in so many places. I have so much and wish that I could only help others see how much they have. 2005 will be awesome for me I will be getting married to an awesome woman.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Brinstar said...

I wish it was that easy to simply move to another country. Had it been so, I would never have returned after living abroad for six years for my studies. As a non-US citizen (permanent resident), it's even harder to leave the US, and the other option (my home country) is not an appealing one.

Let's hope 2005 is better than 2004.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

Electro: congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. While in China I hope you can serve as a goodwill ambassador. It will take a lot of individual effort to convince the world that not all Americans are obese gun-toting fundamentalists.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I, too, was a first-timer in the bumper sticker declaration, although by the time I arrived at that point, the Dean campaign was finished. So I have a Kerry-Edwards sticker on and intend to leave it up, unlike the ones that disappeared in my city. Now I think there are about 3 vehicles in this area of 250,000 that still espouse the opposition. But I'm leaving mine up until the Bush/W stickers come down.

I haven't had the opportunity to visit a non-Western nation, but understand the point Electro makes about appreciating this nation. I think some of us can comprehend the differences in the world without traveling, or can at least intellectually appreciate them. Something the ultra-conservatives don't understand (and I'm not putting Electro in that group) is that we want change because we love this nation. We truly still see America as a great experiment in building a nation of nations, even with the reality of what we did to the Native Americans. We reject stasis, always seeking instead to maintain a dynamic nation that permits necessary change.

I still have hope for the future, but it's tempered by a healthy fear of the Bush doctrine run amok.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Dave S. said...

That neighbor of yours sounds like an asshole!

7:39 PM  

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Thursday, December 30, 2004

 700 Iraqi poll workers quit

The Al-Jazeera satellite channel today reported that all 700 workers for the electoral commission in Mosul resigned Thursday because they had been threatened and that Iraq's leading Sunni political party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, had withdrawn from the race.

But hey! Even if only one person votes from a bunker in the Green Zone it will be a great victory for freedumb and our glorious leader, right?


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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

 Faith-based pedophelia

The magic number is 11,000. Jeebus.


Blogger Angie said...

Wow. Truly very sad. :(

1:11 AM  

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 How to aid the tsunami victims

Thanks to the CSM for this list of aid agencies accepting contributions for those affected by the earthquake and tsunamis in Asia. Contact the individual group for information on how to send donations:

American Jewish World Service The First Church of Christ, Scientist
45 West 36th Street Tsunami Relief
New York, NY 10018-7904 175 Huntington Avenue
800-889-7146 Boston, MA 02115
www.ajws.org 617-450-3205

American Red Cross International Medical Corps
International Response Fund 11500 West Olympic Blvd., Suite 506
PO Box 37243 Los Angeles, CA 90064
Washington, DC 20013 800-481-4462
800-435-7669 www.imcworldwide.org

CARE USA International Orthodox Christian Charities
151 Ellis Street NE PO Box 630225
Atlanta, GA 30303 Baltimore, MD 21263-0225
800-422-7385 877-803-4622
www.careusa.org www.iocc.org

Catholic Relief Services Mercy Corps
PO Box 17090 PO Box 2669
Baltimore, MD 21203-7090 Portland, OR 97208
800-736-3467 888-256-1900
www.catholicrelief.org www.mercycorps.org

Direct Relief International Operation USA
27 South La Patera Lane 8320 Melrose Avenue, Ste. 200
Santa Barbara, CA 93117 Los Angles, CA 90069
805-964-4767 800-678-7255
www.directrelief.org www.opusa.org

Doctors Without Borders Oxfam America
PO Box 2247 26 West Street
New York, NY 10116-2247 Boston, MA 02111-1206
888-392-0392 800-776-9326
www.doctorswithoutborders.org www.oxfamamerica.org


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 Poll shows Americans fear atheists and Muslims

This poll was conducted back in April but was only just today brought to my attention:
A nationwide telephone survey of more than 2,000 Americans has revealed that the non-religious are viewed as the greatest threat to the American way of life. The results, released this week, come from a survey conducted last summer by the University of Wisconsin Survey Center. The survey -- consisting of 120 questions about the respondents' views on race, religion, intolerance and prejudice -- is the first phase of a three-year study called the American Mosaic Project.

When questioned about what belief group doesn't share their vision of American society, 54 percent of survey participants indicated that atheists provided the greatest threat. Muslims were viewed as the second-highest threat....

Commenting on these surveys, Mary Ellen Sikes, Associate Director of the Institute for Humanist Studies, observed that, "Members of humanist, atheist, and freethought organizations -- 'the community of reason' -- are among the most compassionate, ethical, and patriotic people I have encountered anywhere. We volunteer in our communities, serve in the military, and have lower divorce rates than almost every mainstream religious denomination. Yet many non-believers feel they must hide their secularism from coworkers, neighbors, and families. We may be the last minority against which intolerance and discrimination are not only permitted, but modeled by political leaders at every level."


Blogger Electro said...

I find it strange that I need to defend Atheists to other people as if people who don't believe in God are "bad" people. I would agree with the comments that you post here. Though I never considered myself a "humanist" and I think that humanism is a religion of its own sort having dogma and creed I don't think that makes it a threat. What bothers me in a "free" society is that the two sides seem to always want to down eachother. I think it would go a lot farther for each side to try to understand the other and find whatever common ground they can to further the cause of humanity.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Why do religionists always have to claim that every ideology/way of thinking is a kind of religion? Atheists and humanists don't belong to "clubs" but have varied ideas, don't recite "creeds" at weekly meetings, and, foremost, do not worship. I teach at a Catholic college and we all get along fine; we share many values about the world, with the one exception of whether there is a god. I think we (i.e. religionists and atheists) can coexist without downing each other and that it happens more frequently than is suggested in the media. Still, I agree that to admit one's non-belief can be more dangerous than the opposite.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

Yet many non-believers feel they must hide their secularism from coworkers, neighbors, and families.I differ here in that my family and friends and co-workers know my views on religion. And perhaps its due to where I live/work, but they have no issues with it. They accept me as I am (altho they do find me a tad odd) and (shocker here) actually like me. :)

11:49 PM  

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 Bush drops the ball on Muslim PR

Via Juan Cole:
As John F. Harris and Robin Wright of the Washington Post cannily note, US President George W. Bush has missed an important opportunity to reach out to the Muslims of Indonesia. The Bush administration at first pledged a paltry $15 million, a mysteriously chintzy response to what was obviously an enormous calamity. Bush himself remained on vacation, and now has reluctantly agreed to a meeting of the National Security Council by video conference. If Bush were a statesman, he would have flown to Jakarta and announced his solidarity with the Muslims of Indonesia (which has suffered at least 40,000 dead and rising).

Indeed, the worst-hit area of Indonesia is Aceh, the center of a Muslim separatist movement, and a gesture to Aceh from the US at this moment might have meant a lot in US-Muslim public relations. Bin Laden and Zawahiri sniffed around Aceh in hopes of recruiting operatives there, being experts in fishing in troubled waters. Doesn't the US want to outflank al-Qaeda? As it is, the president of the United States is invisible and on vacation (unlike several European heads of state), and could think of nothing better to do than announce a paltry pledge. As Harris and Wright rightly say, the rest of the world treated the US much better than this after September 11.


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 Cool re-coronation events

Calling all far-flung colleagues of inordinate wealth! It is time to dust off that smoking jacket, pull on those evening gloves, warm up that limo, and help us continue to show the world that you can speak power to truth.

Join fellow Billionaires for Bush from around the country at the Re-Coronation Events for King, err, President Bush from January 20-23

Click here or call the B4B hotline at 1-216-803-0990 for the latest info.


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 Climate change destroying Alaska homes

The climate continues to warm:
In parts of Fairbanks, Alaska, houses and buildings lean at odd angles.

Some slump as if sliding downhill. Windows and doors inch closer and closer to the ground.

It is an architectural landscape that is becoming more familiar as the world's ice-rich permafrost gives way to thaw.

Water replaces ice and the ground subsides, taking the structures on top along with it.

Alaska is not the only region in a slump. The permafrost melt is accelerating throughout the world's cold regions, scientists reported at the recent Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco....

Scientists attribute the thaw to climate warming. As the air temperature warms, so does the frozen ground beneath it.


Blogger Electro said...

Wow! it took a "scientist" to tell you that when the air warms the ground does too. That is just amazing to me. But then again I had that figured out as a small child in the spring when the snow left and the flowers came. For me I am happier with the "warmer" climate that has been warming at a relitively steady rate for the last 300 years and not to mention if we were still in that damn ice age of 10,000 years ago I wouldn't like Indianapolis quite as much. Plus as the ground warms in Alaska it will make it easier to get all that oil. My big hope is that L.A. and N.Y. City will just wash away. My big fear is that you will take this as seriously as you take the "global warming" fears.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

Dan Willett, one cannot intuit science. Global climate change is a scientific fact, not an opinion. There is no debate. Perhaps you would be more successful if you stuck to fixing electrical sockets?

9:26 PM  

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 San Diego man wouldn't have saved as much under a privatized social security scheme

Are always better off investing your retirement money than letting the government do it? Just ask Stanley Logue of San Diego:
He recorded all the payroll taxes he paid into the system (including the matching amount from his employer), tracked down the return the Social Security Trust Fund earned for each of the 45 years, and then compared the result with what he would have gotten had he been able to invest the same amount of payroll tax money over the same period in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (including dividends).

To his surprise, the Social Security investment won out: $261,372 versus $255,499, a difference of $5,873.


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 Pentagon cuts out media "middleman"

As if Fox "News" wasn't sufficient, the Pentagon has created its own 24-hour television channel to "cut out the middle man — the national media — in covering news."

This new propaganda vehicle is being funded with $6 million in your tax dollars:
[Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Allison] Barber said the Pentagon Channel makes every effort to avoid propaganda charges by, among other practices, offering live coverage of such events as press conferences from beginning to end, while commercial networks will pick up only the sections they deem newsworthy.

"It would be propaganda if we tried to spin it," she said.

Riiiight... it will not be used for propaganda. That's why, in Barber's words, "the Pentagon Channel was a result of Mr. Rumsfeld's progressive plan to broaden and improve the Defense Department's public-affairs arms, both internally and externally."


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Sunday, December 26, 2004

 Operation Cuban Oil Liberation?

President Fidel Castro said a crude oil deposit has been discovered off Cuba containing up to 100 million barrels, good news for a country that imports about half the petroleum it needs.

Does this mean we will be "liberating" the Cubans next?


Blogger Electro said...

I thought JFK was going to do that, oh yeah he left hundreds do die at the bay of pigs, then got us involved in Veitnam.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Dave S. said...

Hope so. We can also liberate that beach front property.

2:35 PM  

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 Iraqi militants love the Chimp

Read what Georges Malbrunot, who was released Tuesday along with fellow journalist Christian Chesnot, tells CNN about his the Iraqi militant captors:
"We vote for Bush because Bush help us a lot by intervening in Afghanistan. So, from that point we could spread all over the world and we are now in 60 countries," Malbrunot cited one of the militants as saying on October 15, two weeks before Bush defeated Democrat John Kerry.

Malbrunot, 41, quoted the same militant as saying: "Our main targets are Saudi Arabia and Egypt. And because of Bush, if he is re-elected, we are sure that American soldiers will remain in Iraq for years."

Notice that everything the American left has been saying about Iraq is turning out to be correct.


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Saturday, December 25, 2004

 Why it's unconstitutional to teach "Intelligent Design"

Check out this excellent analysis by Michael Dorf of the Columbia University Law School : Why It's Unconstitutional to Teach "Intelligent Design" in the Public Schools, as an Alternative to Evolution.


Blogger Electro said...

The arguements tire me. I don't care what they teach in public schools. My kids will never be taught in a public school. I am just tired of my well earned tax dollars going to a school system that is not really interested in educating children, but would rather spend money on all kinds of "nice" things.

3:54 AM  

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Friday, December 24, 2004

 I want my country back

Last Friday Bush signed into law the "Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004". The media has focused on turf wars between the intelligence and defense communities, but the real story is how IRTPA trades basic rights for the illusion of security. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted a summary of the law's worst aspects:
~ Section 1016 - a.k.a. "TIA II" ~

A clause authorizing the creation of a massive "Information Sharing Environment" (ISE) to link "all appropriate Federal, State, local, and tribal entities, and the private sector."

This vast network links the information in public and private databases, which poses the same kind of threat to our privacy and freedom that the notorious Terrorism Information Awareness (TIA) program did. Yet the IRTPA contains no meaningful safeguards against unchecked data mining other than directing the President to issue guidelines. It also includes a definition of "terrorist information" that is frighteningly broad.

~ Section 4012 and Sections 7201-7220 - a.k.a. "CAPPS III" ~

A number of provisions that provide the statutory basis for "Secure Flight," the government's third try at a controversial passenger-screening system that has consistently failed to pass muster for protecting passenger privacy.

The basic concept: the government will force commercial air carriers to hand over your private travel information and compare it with a "consolidated and integrated terrorist watchlist." It will also establish a massive "counterterrorist travel intelligence" infrastructure that calls for travel data mining ("recognition of travel patterns, tactics, and behavior exhibited by terrorists").

It's not clear how the government would use the travel patterns of millions of Americans to catch the small number of individuals worldwide who are planning terrorist attacks. In fact, this approach has been thoroughly debunked by security experts. What is clear is that the system will create fertile ground for constitutional violations and the abuse of private information. The latest Privacy Act notice on Secure Flight shows that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) still doesn't have a plan for how long the government will keep your private information, nor has it mapped out adequate procedures for correcting your "file" if
you are wrongly flagged as a terrorist.

~ Section 6001 - a.k.a. "PATRIOT III" ~

Straight from the infamous "PATRIOT II" draft legislation leaked to the public last year comes a provision that allows the government to use secret foreign intelligence warrants and wiretap orders against people unconnected to any international terrorist group or foreign nation. This represents yet another step in the ongoing destruction of even the most basic legal protections for those the government suspects are terrorists.

~ Sections 7208-7220 - a.k.a. "Papers, Please" ~

Just as EFF, the ACLU, and a number of other civil liberties groups feared, IRTPA creates the basis for a de facto national ID system using biometrics. Driven by misguided political consensus, the law calls for a "global standard of identification" and minimum national standards for birth certificates, driver's licenses and state ID cards, and social security cards and numbers. It also directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish new standards for ID for domestic air travelers.

Identification is not security. Indeed, the 9/11 Commission report revealed that a critical stumbling block in identifying foreign terrorists is the inability to evaluate *foreign* information and records. Yet we are placing disproportionate emphasis on pervasive domestic surveillance, opening the door to a standardized "internal passport" -- the hallmark of a totalitarian regime.

Arrgh! I want my country back! Why are American citizens being treated like the enemy? It wasn't Americans that flew the planes on 9/11.

I don't think this is an issue of "war vs. no war" on terrorism. Rather, the issue is war vs. perpetual war. When does all this end? When does America return to a fullly functioning democracy with civil liberties for all?


Blogger Electro said...

Because Americans sit in front of their TV and let a few "educared" people tell them what to think. This is the reason for all the stupid crap that goes on in this country. The list is too long of the things our "representatives want to do "for" us that make no sence. And if you look carefully you will see it is both the Rep's and Dem's doing it. Start voting for the Libertarians.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

When does America return to a fullly functioning democracy with civil liberties for all?In four years.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Electro said...

Angie, aren't you being a little short sited and naive? Simply changing the president will not fix the real long term problem we have in this country. look you had Clinton for eight years and you are now thinking that back to a democrat will fix the things you see wrong. Lets not forget the democrats whould love to ignore the 2cd ammendment. and other liberties we have.

1:26 PM  

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

 Laura Bush responds to e-mails from America's oppressed christian juggernaut

Enjoy a good laugh courtesy of WhiteHouse.org.


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 Hijacking the faith

An Arkansas Christian asks:
Why are all the fights over posting religious language in government buildings — and, most recently, having it embroidered down the front of your judge’s robes — about the Ten Commandments? How come no one’s ever gone to court over posting the Beatitudes? If the U.S. should be a “Christian” nation as reflected in our government’s official actions, why don’t we start with legislating “Love your neighbor as yourself”?...

With all the millions of children in our country who don’t have enough food, clothing, or love, how can right-wing Christians possibly still cling to the delusion that God thinks gay people are the biggest threat to Christian values? Times Jesus mentions the poor in the gospels: I lost count halfway through Matthew. Times he mentions homosexuality: Zero....

And to the quesiton of, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” the answer is even more telling:

“No!” wrote someone who signed himself matthew0724. “As an evangelical Christian, I feel the most important job I have been given is to be a witness to non-believers. Much of this witnessing is simply trying to live a Christ-like life so others will see the character of Jesus through me. My ability to be any kind of a witness, active or passive, has been drastically harmed by the religious right — specifically the Bush administration. By acting as if they own the franchise on Christianity, and then acting as un-Christlike as possible, many more people are inclined to dismiss my beliefs out of hand. Duh-bya is also giving Christians the image of being morons. ‘It’s the stupid, stupid.’ ”


Blogger Electro said...

I'm guessing that you have found that all Christians are not "mindless". The two above articulate how I feel very well.

8:49 AM  

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

 How 4/5 of the country became an oppressed minority

Check out Julian Sanchez's take on the annual Merry Christmas / Seasons Greetings hullabalou:
So are we really seeing an unprecedented wave of hostility toward either Christmas or Christianity? Or is it, rather, that the waning of the cultural hegemony to which some Christians have come to feel entitled is perceived as an attack? Many of the most loudly trumpeted complaints in this vein are, after all, complaints about the absence of special treatment: no special spot for the Ten Commandments in the courthouse rotunda; no pride of place for Christmas among those happy winter holidays; no exceptions for the Christian charity.

Since "special rights" has been a term of aspersion among conservatives for decades, would-be theocrats have at least the decency to be too ashamed to demand them explicitly. Instead, they've learned the power of the victim narrative, of framing the debate to cast themselves as underdogs.


Blogger Dave S. said...

Why should you progressives get to have all of the fun with "the power of the victim narrative"?

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was popular for certain fascist-lead nations to describe themselves and/or their people as victims back in the 30s. It was one rationalization for the oppressive policies they exerted on others. Most recently, we've seen another extreme version of this mentality and tactic in the way the Serbs treated the Albanians within Serbia--"We're the victims!". Beware when the majority (really a righteous minority within the majority) start calling themselves "victims" as a group.

10:47 PM  

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 Carols for Winter

Happy Winter, everyone!

Twas the era before Christ
by Brent Rasmussen

Twas the night before Christmas and all over the Earth,
The Christians are celebrating Christ and his birth.

"The true meaning of Christmas" all the Christians will yell,
"If you don't don't believe, you'll all go to hell!"

So sitting in bed I pondered that thought,
Of Jesus and the "gift" he supposedly bought.

Of love everlasting, an eternity with God,
Christians believe they'll leave their own bod!

The evidence is thin, in fact non-existent,
but the myth of the Christians is very persistent.

In fact it is shared by many "saviors" of yore,
Like Krishna, Quexalcotal, Mithra, and Thor.

Twenty other saviors, more ancient than he,
we're born on the solstice and hung on a tree.

Angels, wisemen, shepherds - familiar!
Gold, frankincense and myrrh, are not that peculiar.

Even Jesus' name was stolen from Druids.
Their god's name was Hesus, and he shed red fluids.

December twenty-fifth, the birthday of sun-gods,
Was borrowed by Christians to increase the odds

That Christianity would be seen as a full-blown religion,
By the pagans who came before them a smidgen.

If you don't accept Christ, or profess unbelief,
the Christians will hound you into sorrow and grief.

And send you cute poems, filled with guilt and accusing
You of crimes against their sun-god Jesus, and what you'll be losing.

But it's all a myth - completely unfounded,
lacking reason and thought, in truth it's not grounded

In anything like a factual tale,
To be perfectly honest, it has grown quite stale.

So X-MAS is here and I know the real reason,
It is the solstice - not Jesus - that makes up the season.

Earth rounded the Sun with all of her might,
Merry Solstice to all and to all a good night!
Rejoice Ye Merry Gentlemen (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)

Rejoice ye merry gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay!
Remember there's no savior,
No gods to save the day.
No mythical demonic powers,
To lead our minds astray.
Oh remember that knowledge is joy.
Knowledge is joy.
Oh remember that knowledge is joy!

We bring this news with voices strong
With no deceitful games!
Unto our fellow citizens,
We happily proclaim
That humankind is on its own;
That life is ours to tame.
Oh remember that knowledge is joy.
Knowledge is joy.
Oh remember that knowledge is joy!

Fear not, we say to all mankind,
Let nothing you affright!
Behold the glow of Reason,
Our stalwart guiding light!
The free are those who trust themselves
To do what's just and right.
Oh remember that knowledge is joy.
Knowledge is joy.
Oh remember that knowledge is joy!

And when mankind is freed at last
From superstitious fear,
When human beings have rid themselves
Of pious racketeers,
Then kindness and compassion
Can be the New Frontier!
Oh remember that knowledge is joy.
Knowledge is joy.
Oh remember that knowledge is joy!


Blogger Electro said...

If knowledge is Joy you must be sad, you are not much of a scholar of history. Your first carol is full of errors that even any intelligent atheist could point out.

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Electro,

I would like nothing more than for you to point out these errors for me. Because, you know, knowledge is joy and your simply stating that there are "errors that even an intelligent atheist could point out" doesn't help me very much. I like to consider myself somewhat intelligent - and I am an atheist - and I have gone through my poem line-by-line and I cannot find even a single error!

Thank you sir, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Brent Rasmussen
Unscrewing The Inscrutable

9:21 AM  
Blogger Electro said...

I get the feeling you don't feel I am up to the task. well here I go.
All Christians would not yell "If you don't believe you will go to hell." For example the Catholic church (the largest body of Christians) does not teach that. Christ is the judge of human hearts. Salvation is not dependent on belief alone or necessarily tied to it.

The word Myth is improperly used, Myth can be used for events that are based in fact. look it up.

Thor was not considered a "savior".

myrrh is peculiar to the story of Jesus.

Jesus' name was not borrowed and it can he can be found referred to in Jewish historical writing after his death.

Dec 25th was not "borrowed" but rather the Church used it to acculturate the existing holiday of the pagans.

Even though some Christians don't like to see Xmass it has been used for hundreds of years the X replaces Christ and is used from the Greek word for Christ. So it should not be taken as a insult.

And Knowledge is joy, but the knowledge of God is immeasurable JOY. I know, I was an Atheist.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

You think being a former atheist gives you some special insight into us? Or confers some sort of objectivity? Bullshit. All it means is that you really didn't understand reason in the first place, and now you are just another mindless born-again zealot.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Olek Netzer said...

I believe a humanist is one who uses language to communicate with her/his fellow human, not as a weapon to symbolically hit. You could express your disagreement using your knowledge of a rational discourse rather than using this space for venting your negative emotions. I understand that people do this on the spur of a moment when they are frustrated for being disagreed with, but in writing, when you have time to reflect, choosing to insult and degrade your adversary rather than making an effort to connect to his heart and mind and help him change...? I hope you'd understand. For the sake of our common values of knowledge and humanity I wish you'd not need to lower yourself to that level of communication ever again.

3:27 PM  

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Monday, December 20, 2004

 'It's dangerous in this country to be an overt atheist'

Check out Diane Carman's latest:
It's not likely you'll see the atheists and free thinkers of Denver picketing the Nativity scene at the City and County Building any time soon. And while their tax money helps light the 'Merry Christmas' sign on the roof and pay for 30 years of legal battles to defend the religious exhibit on public property, they'll join the Muslims, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Native Americans and other non-Christians in their annual display of tolerance for the popular majority's holiday extravaganza.

In exchange, showing a bit of respect would be, well, the Christian thing to do.


Blogger Electro said...

Well you're all about tolerance anyway so have some here. Maybe they should just litter the Capital steps every where with crappy decorations for every religion. I think it is stupid to put out anything for any reason. People have enough at their homes do we really need it all over the place? The malls do it 'cuz it's good for business thats enough!

11:48 PM  

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 Half of Americans says "fuck 'em"

To the half of my fellow Americans who make up the following survey: FUCK YOU!
Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim-Americans, according to a nationwide poll.

The survey conducted by Cornell University also found that Republicans and people who described themselves as highly religious were more apt to support curtailing Muslims’ civil liberties than Democrats or people who are less religious.

I am really interested in seeing a breakdown of these numbers. Wanna' bet that they are the same 50% that voted for Chimpy McFlightsuit? Wouldn't surprise me either if they watched Fox "News", as television is probably the most information- and fact-free source of current events:

Researchers also found that respondents who paid more attention to television news were more likely to fear terrorist attacks and support limiting the rights of Muslim-Americans.


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 Why does Bush hate Christmas?

This is amusing. Check out the comments!


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Sunday, December 19, 2004

 Marine vet speaks against war in Iraq

Read what a 25-year-old Marine veteran of the Iraq war has to say about it:
"If you have one of those magnetic 'support our troops' ribbons on your car, Michael Hoffman suggests you grab a marker and add a few words: 'Bring them home now.'"...

''Being against the war is the only way to be for the troops,'' said Hoffman. ''We're doing them no good by sending them over there.''...

If another country invaded the United States, bombing and killing innocent women and children who had nothing to do with the war until their lives were taken, ''wouldn't we all be up in arms defending our country?''

He claimed the majority of troops on the ground in Iraq feel ''we shouldn't be there. They don't see the point. We're not doing any good."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo! How right you are -- get the home and keep them there! The pain and suffering they are going through is going to haunt them for years and years. This country has done enough to ruin Iraq. Support our troops and bring them home!!

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

American soldiers especial the national guard should
resist to go to Iraq. What can happen to them if all
of the agree. Dumsfeld and dictator George Murder Bush
will act mad and the national guard could do a job in
favour to protect Americas democracy by "hunting" down
Bush and his regime inclusive the appointed members of
the so called supreme court and hand them over for an
international trial!

7:14 PM  

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 More on Bush-Hitler

Time Magazine named Bush its annual "Person of the Year". Don't gloat too much, Bushfans. The same honor went to Adolph Hitler in 1938.


Blogger Electro said...

1939, 1942 Joseph Stalin Great atheist and mass murderer, 1932,'34'41 FDR great Liberal, 1945,'48 Harry Truman another Liberal, 1957 Nikita Krushchev atheist and mass murderer, 1964,'67 LBJ (aka Liberal Bad Judgement, 1975 American women, 1992, '98 Bill Clinton. So what is your point? the only one in the list worth anything? Harry Truman. Why? because after filing bankruptcy he still paid back all of his bad debt.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

Wow... you've been busy around here. Well, I guess if I too were an egotistical undereducated electrician I would have nothing better to do either. Have fun trolling!

10:33 AM  
Blogger Electro said...

I am having fun, Interestingly enough about 50% of what you say I agree with. What makes you say I am under educated? I like to try to make people think thats all. seems your reply shows you don't like to think. Oh I am an electrician, but at a closer glance you will see I am an Electrical Contractor. Not to mention I have traveled to many countries and have a great deal more understanding of people than you do. And am one of those vets you like to quote and use to try to prove your points. Seems you love to be American have you ever given of yourself to better her? You are after all a humanist.

11:41 PM  

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Saturday, December 18, 2004

 Parallels to the Nazis

Maureen Farrell draws parallels between the Nazis and Bush's America:
Hitler, like some of the today's politicians and preachers, politicized "family values." He liked corporeal punishment in home and school. Jesus prayers became mandatory in all schools under his administration. While abortion was illegal in pre-Hitler Germany, he took it to new depths of enforcement, requiring all doctors to report to the government the circumstances of all miscarriages. He openly despised homosexuality and criminalized it...

Hitler wrote... "When was the last time a Western nation had a leader so obsessed with God and claiming God was on our side? If you answered Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany, you're correct," Bob Fitrakis wrote... Bush told Bob Woodward [on starting the Iraq war] "I was praying for strength to do the Lord's will...". Speaking in Berlin in March, 1936, Hitler said something remarkably similar. "I would like to thank Providence and the Almighty for choosing me of all people to be allowed to wage this battle for Germany," he said, before launching the preventive war heard round the world....

[A] few of the Fuhrer's assertions: "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith."... "It will be the Government's care to maintain honest cooperation between Church and State; the struggle against materialistic views and for a real national community is just as much in the interest of the German nation as in that of the welfare of our Christian faith."... "[W]e have restored to faith its prerequisites because we were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out."

Where's my troll? Come out and play ;)


Blogger Electro said...

It is interesting to me that in todays world when ever someone wants to make another out to be bad they look for parallels to Hitler. like George's dad and George when talking about Hitler. and now Maureen about George. I for one was and still am opposed to to the war in Iraq. I think it was misguided. But most of your Democratic friends voted for it because it was the popular thing to do. I think the thing we need to worry about most is what is Popular and is it good just because it is popular. Do you really think corporeal punishment is a bad thing? Do you really think Abortion is a good thing? How can you be a Humanist if you are willing to allow the horrible destruction of innocent human life? How does it equate to the "greater good of humanity"? The answer to Hitlers question about God was the U.S. and correct me if I am wrong here, the U.S. defeated Germany and Japan. And why is it that you find it nessasary to attack Christians? Don't you see all the good done in the world by them? No organization ever has done more for the betterment of man than the Catholic Church. Try to look beyond the Fanatical fundalmentalists in the Christian world and see the majority for what they are.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Electro said...

Sorry I ment to say when George's dad and George were talking about Saddam.

11:01 AM  

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 ACLU defending Christians

Liberals Aren't Stealing Christmas. In fact, the ACLU is defending Christians". Check it out.


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Thursday, December 16, 2004

 Yushchenko not poisoned?

Justin Raimondo pokes some holes in the dioxin diagnosis. Check it out.


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 Roosevelt's 'New Deal': unconstitutional?

Check out what Adm Cohen writes about the legal assault on the New Deal:
We take for granted today the idea that Congress can adopt a national minimum wage or require safety standards in factories. That's because the Supreme Court, in modern times, has always held that it can.

But the court once had a far more limited view of Congress's power. In the early 1900's, justices routinely struck down laws protecting workers and discouraging child labor. The court reversed itself starting in 1937....

States' rights conservatives have always been nostalgic for the pre-1937 doctrines, which they have lately taken to calling the Constitution-in-Exile. They argue - at conferences like "Rolling Back the New Deal" and in papers like "Was the New Deal Constitutional?" - that Congress lacks the power to do things like forcing employers to participate in Social Security. Given how entrenched New Deal programs have become in more than half a century, these plans for reversing history have always seemed more than a bit quixotic.

But that may be about to change. The attacks on the post-1937 view of the Constitution are becoming more mainstream among Republicans."


Blogger Dave S. said...

It's about time!

10:44 AM  
Blogger Electro said...

Explain to me one good thing that came from the "New Deal".

9:32 PM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

Thanks for asking. The New Deal essentially ended poverty among the elderly. It helped to pull America out of the Great Depression without resorting to fascism, like many other depressed countries. If you want a local prespective, see here: http://newdeal.feri.org/carbonhill/index.htm.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Electro said...

WOW! there are no poor elderly people in the U.S. I am sorry, are you living in the year 2004 or are you transmitting from the future. And any Economist will tell you that WWII was what pulled the U.S. out of the Great depression. Try again!

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

check out www.humanistleague.org
if you add link that would be great

5:55 PM  

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 Gays are the new Jews to American fascists

American fascism has found its new Jews: homosexuals. From the people that put the "mental" in fundamentalism, what should we expect next, pink triangles on children's clothes?
What would you do if you were a closeted eighteen-year old senior in high school and your principal told your parents that you were gay? That recently happened to James Barnett, who was a senior at Trinity Christian Academy in Dallas, Texas....

If this wasn't enough they took six days to decide to expel [him] from school, citing "immoral behavior and supporting an immoral cause." "The reason for expulsion and the suspension is the fact that what I have done/am is a Class A offense. I am not given a chance to appeal to honor council, it’s "too sensitive."

This time around, instead of waiting for a new holocaust, some people are choosing to fight back. The Hamline University Student Congress, which represents undergraduates at the St. Paul, Minnesota college, has asked officials at the university to ban military recruiters. Students said the military discriminates against gays and lesbians with its "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which violates Hamline's nondiscrimination policies.


Blogger graham said...

Hi there,

My name is Graham Lampa--I'm the person who authored the resolution to uphold Hamline's diversity policy and ban military recruiters from campus. We had a good deal of support from the whole student body, but today we were all ridiculed in the Pioneer Press. Many of us have sent letters to the editor in response to their belittling attitude towards us, and I know that at least mine will be published tomorrow. Keep your eye out for it.


10:48 PM  
Blogger Electro said...

When there is a military in the U.S. with open Gays you will only see many more problems than we have today. I have no problem with Gay people, I spent nearly 10 years in the AF and I am sure I worked with a few, but if you want them to be treated the same as others it just won't happen if they are openly Gay. Though I will say I would rather work with an openly Gay man than work with a female in the military any day of the week.

2:26 PM  

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

 Return of the carnival


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 Abu Ghraib was just the tip of the iceberg

Yesterday's release of internal US navy documents show that abuse and even torture of detainees by marines in Iraq was widespread:
"The Defense Department has insisted from the outset that abuse, to the extent that it occurs at all, is aberrational," said Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU lawyer. "I think we now have overwhelming evidence that that's not true, but that abuse was widespread and that it was systemic in the sense that it was the result of policies adopted by the Defense Department."

The revelations come at the same time that Human Rights Watch says it has new evidence of a murder of a detainee by four US military personnel in Afghanistan:

“It’s time for the United States to come clean about crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan,” said Brad Adams, the group’s Asia division director. “The United States has to get serious about prosecuting people implicated in prisoner deaths and mistreatment.”


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 Which comes first: mental illness or religion?

Notice how we never read about atheists chopping off the arms of infants:
In a recent study of 39 Ohio and Michigan women - all acquitted by reason of insanity in the deaths of their children since the 1970s - about 15 had religious-themed delusions, said Dr. Susan Hatters Friedman, a psychiatry fellow at Case Western Reserve University.

Another study of 56 Michigan mothers referred for psychiatric evaluations from 1974-1976 after killing their children found nearly a fourth of them experienced religious delusions, said study co-author Dr. Catherine Lewis, an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

Deanna Laney, Andrea Yates, and others who kill their children commonly cite God, the devil and other religious influences for their actions.

These murderers are the same intolerant people screaming for tolerance of their beliefs. They are the same people who believe their beliefs are not being tolerated if an opposing belief is also tolerated. These bigots and cowards are the same people who voted for Chimpy McFlightsuit. These are the same people who are so secure in their beliefs –- lacking any room for doubt -- that they are willing to murder to prove it.

I believe that atheists are more moral than the religious:

  • Atheists, being a moderate proportion of the USA population (about 8-16%) are disproportionately less numerous in the prison population (0.21%)

  • Japan (the most atheistic nation in the G-8) has the lowest murder rate while the United States (the most Christian nation in the G-8) has the highest. Japan used to have much stronger religious faith, and a state religion, and guess what: Japan was remarkably aggressive and militaristic when "Shinto" was at its peak, and during WW2, when its Emperor was regarded as a God.

  • Louisiana, with America's highest church attendance rate, has twice the national average murder rate.

  • If atheism causes violence, why are right-wing fundamentalists unable to find a shred of statistical evidence to back that claim up?

Why do church steeples have lightening rods? Lack of confidence? :)


Blogger Angie said...

You can post stat after stat on this, but they won't see it. And I have always said the same, atheists are more "moral" than non-atheists. You don't see us going on crusades, invading other countries, basically being hypocrites. (shrugs)

11:41 AM  
Blogger Dave S. said...

Education couldn't have anything to do with this.

My guess is that most of the prison population could not define Atheism, and therefore would be unlikely to identify as such.

NYC has the most atheists in America and an extremely high murder rate. Coincidence?

3:11 PM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...


Since the NYC murder rate is at an all-time low, my guess is that you puled both of those "facts" out of your ass.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Dave S. said...

An all time low, but still not so good compared to real America.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Dave S. said...

And only at an all time low because Giuliani put the fear of Jesus into your progressive atheist friends.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Electro said...

Hmmm, was Hitler a Christian? I Don't think so. Let me explain something that might make sence to you if you open your mind. Where the Church is strongest, there you will find Satan working his hardest. Where there is no Church you won't find Satan working at all, he is comfortable with the Godless people. I really shouldn't say Godless, they have replaced God with other gods weather you wish to accept it or not.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say: "If atheism causes violence, why are right-wing fundamentalists unable to find a shred of statistical evidence to back that claim up?"

Does the Gulag Archipelago ring a bell? How about Crime and Punishment? 1984? All these books deal with the problems and the cost in human terms of Godlessness in Government. If the Communists had not banished God from the public sphere, then they would never have been written. Today's modern Intellectuals are as afraid of God as the Communists were back then.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

Holy shit! You're right! I'd better return all those satanic toys to the store. Wouldn't want my lil' ones strayin' from righteousness or something....

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The artocities of the Soviet Union are often bandied about as showing that atheism causes people to do horrific things, but we need to remember that the USSR had its own state religion: Leninism. Marx, Lenin and Stalin were revered as demigods by many people. The press often showed Lenin and, later, Stalin, as handing out food and clothing to the peasants who had had almost nothing under the Tsar. They were treated as heros, prophets, father figures. I personally believe that it is the religious mindset that causes this adulation, since those with that personality will worship SOMETHING, no matter what.
Another reminder: The Jews in Russia suffered for centuries under Russian Orthodox Christians who murdered them, raped them, forced them to live in barren areas where raising crops was almost impossible. Catherine the Great ordered all the Jews out of Russia, until she conquered land to the northeast and had to deal with hundreds of thousands of Jews living there. She made laws that restricted their movements and their ability to do any business with Christians. The pogroms under the tsars are legendary in their cruelty.
Also, when the Soviet Untion fell and the people returned en masse to the churches, it showed that the USSR was NOT an atheist nation, only that the religions had gone underground. Government officials may have been atheists, but it is a good bet that the man in the street was a covert Christian. If this is true, then many of the horrible things done in the USSR were perpetrated by believers.
Jennifer Smith

2:22 PM  

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

 Leave no child behind, TEACH EVOLUTION!

Get these classy bumperstickers from
     Michael W. Klymkowsky
     Professor, MCD Biology
     UC Boulder, UCB347
     Boulder CO. 80309

They're $2.50 each. Make out the check to the "UC Boulder - Bioliteracy project". The money supports The Bioliteracy Project. Good sticker, great cause.


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Monday, December 13, 2004

 Gallery closed over Bush monkey portrait

A portrait of Bush using monkeys to form his image led to the closure of a New York art exhibition over the weekend and anguished protests on Monday over freedom of expression:
"Bush Monkeys," a small acrylic on canvas by Chris Savido, created the stir at the Chelsea Market public space, leading the market's managers to close down the 60-piece show that was scheduled to stay up for the next month....

"We had tons of people, like more than 2,000 people show up for the opening on Thursday night," said show organizer Bucky Turco. "Then this manager saw the piece and the guy just kind of flipped out. 'The show is over. Get this work down or I'm gonna arrest you,' he said. It's been kind of wild."...

From afar, the painting offers a likeness of Bush, but when you get closer you see the image is made up of chimpanzees or monkeys swimming in a marsh.

The artist said he plans to auction the painting and donate proceeds to an organization dedicated to freedom of expression: "This is much deeper than art. This is fundamental American rights, freedom of speech. To see that something like this can happen, especially in a place like New York City is mind boggling and scary."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Culture of Fear. Intimidation. Complete lack of understanding of Freedom of Speech. At least some of these loud-mouthed, irresponsible reporters are being taken to court, finally:

10:05 AM  

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 One year anniversary of Saddam's capture

One year ago today, on December 13th 2003, American forces seized Saddam after eight months on the run. Bush and the neocons predicted that the deposed president's arrest would stop guerrilla activity among his supporters in the Sunni Arab minority.

This prediction, like every other one coming from the mouths of these incompetents, has proven to be wrong. Violence has gone on unabated and the death rate among US troops has actually risen since Saddam was dragged from a hideout dug in farmland near his home town of Tikrit. In the past 365 days an additional 864 American soldiers have died, and Saddam is on a hunger strike to protest ill treatment.

Today, one year later, a suicide car bomber killed at seven Iraqis at an entrance to Baghdad's Green Zone government and US diplomatic compound.

And, just in case you are deluding yourself into thinking we will be leaving Iraq any time soon, check out all the new permanent military bases and long-term military encampments now under construction.


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Saturday, December 11, 2004

 Explaining the dearth of Republicans in academia

In light of recent studies finding that Democrats vastly outnumbered Republicans among professors at leading universities, I just have one response to all the conservatives who are spazzing out while sanctimoniously dissing academia for its liberal bias:

"Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah! We are smarter than you are!"

Isn't this finding a vindication? These studies show that some of the best-educated, most-informed people in the country overwhelmingly reject the reTHUGlican version of reality. Of course, the reTHUGlican noise machine has already succeeded in framing this issue as an indictment of academia, rather than as an indictment of the Republican Party, which is why we are being told that the only reason profs lean so far to the left is that deans, administrators and entire university cultures systematically discriminate against conservatives.

Sound the alarm! Liberal commie biochemistry departments everywhere are suppressing conservative biochemists!


I did the grad school thing, and frankly I've never met a Republican that wanted to be a professor. My republican friends (I have many) would rather make money than live a challenging intellectual life.


Blogger OMM said...

That's odd. I always thought that academics were liberals because it looked good on paper. That meaning, that the concept of socialism (just to take liberalism to an end) worked on paper, therefore academic egg-heads naturally gravitated towards it…one of those things where, in the “real world” it doesn’t work.

Important to note, as well, that my fiancée (PHD) and I (MBA) both are working on becoming university professors…. Oh, and we’re Republican as well.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

So...becoming a professor is the only intellectual career?

And making money and using your brain are mutually exclusive?


11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMM If you gave a more stereotypical wannabie speudintellectual conservative response the universe would implode due the mass of the blackhole made of pure bullshit

11:43 AM  
Blogger Veritas said...

OMM, first of all, as an MBA, you've proven that you prefer to think more about dollars and cents as opposed to benefiting mankind, supporting the above statement. As far as understanding liberalism, you've got it all wrong. Anyone can point out that anything taken to a radical enough extreme will not work. For example, the concept of Fascism (which is SIMPLY conservativism taken a little bit farther to an end) should theoretically work. Extreme social structures must always operate given a certain number of assumptions. In socialism, you assume that there are no greedy people. This can be found in small communities where communism works fine, but the prevalence of greed in large communities, i.e. countries, is what make socialism an impracticality on a national level. Returning to the concept of Fascism (again, this is simply conservativism taken to an end), it makes the general assumptions that there won't be any conscientious objectors to the methods of the government regardless of what that government does. This political construct works fine on paper, but as soon as a significant number of people get involved it falls apart. I personally see an interesting antithical relationship between the two. Socialism is brought down by greed and Fascism is brought down by people questioning the government and challenging to do what's right. QED.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Veritas said...

OMM: You met your fiancee' in a Managerial Accounting class...doesnt that just prove further the point made above, that both of you as conservatives are more interested in money than exhibiting altruism?

This is not the only intellectual career, but it is one that is almost exclusively driven by altruism.

Again, making money can be done intellectually, but frequently, it can only be done if your goal is to make money. If looking to help people is your singular philosophy, most of the time, money is right out. Psychology and Medicine are two exceptions which come to mind, but for most people I know in those fields (as a pharmacologist at a large state university), the money is definitely secondary to the desire to help people, because there are easier ways to make money than to have to work 36 hour shifts with people puking on you and having to stick your finger in people's anuses or having hour long conversations with people who think the mafia is run by their pet cat. Those easier ways, coincidentally, are frequently attained through MBA programs.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Electro said...

Gee I always heard that those who can...do, those who can't...teach. I wonder who invented that computer you are using. Not a Prof! Though they are great at writing about how it has affected mankind. Big Deal! Oh and Edison one of the greatest inventors of all time made it through the 3rd grade, then went on to invent the adding machine.

2:51 PM  

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Friday, December 10, 2004

 Armor companies could boost production; Bush ignored them

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who said Wednesday, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have" when confronted by troops about the lack of armor, vowed more would be done.

My gut told me that there was a lie in there somewhere. Turns out I was right: Two companies under contract to the Pentagon said their offers to boost production went unheeded.
Former Republican congressman Matt Salmon of Arizona, a spokesman for ArmorWorks in Tempe, Ariz., said his company will finish a $30 million contract with the Pentagon this month to make 1,500 armor kits for Humvees. "We are at 50% capacity, and we could do a lot more," he said. "They are aware of it."

Armor Holdings of Jacksonville told the Army last month it could add armor to as many as 550 trucks a month, up from 450, said Robert Mecredy of its aerospace and defense group. "We're prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month," he said.

What do you think? A lie? Rank incompetence?


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 He lost an arm in Iraq; now the Army wants money

Welcome to the Bush Cartel's army:
He lost his arm serving his country in Iraq.

Now this wounded soldier is being discharged from his company in Fort Hood, Texas, without enough gas money to get home. In fact, the Army says 27-year-old Spc. Robert Loria owes it close to $2,000, and confiscated his last paycheck.


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 Eliminating intellectuals

Does anyone doubt that this is the next step for the reTHUGlican wingnuts that have a lock on all three branches of government?
In a move intended to muffle the voices of some of China's most prominent and independent scholars and activists, hard-line elements in the new Hu Jintao government are seeking to eradicate the concept of "public intellectuals" in China....

Public intellectuals in China are known for opposing brutal police practices; for promoting greater citizen participation, AIDS awareness, freer speech; and for advocating environmentally friendly policies.


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 America's secret security laws

Want to see the federal government's regulation authorizing airport security personnel to pat you down before boarding a plane? You can't. It's a secret rule, as Helen Chenoweth-Hage, a former Republican congresswoman from Idaho, discovered when she was stopped from flying from Boise to Reno, Nevada, last month. She asked to read the regulation authorizing Transportation Security Administration employees to pat her down at the airport gate:
Chenoweth-Hage was told she couldn't see the directive because the TSA said it was sensitive security information and so could not be publicly released.

"A secret law? I didn't think that happened to Americans," she said. Chenoweth-Hage was given the choice of submitting to the pat-down or not flying. "I was resolved to see the regulation," she said, explaining that she drove to Reno. She has not flown since.

She stressed she's not opposed to airport security and wants to see the government scrutinize passengers for likely terrorists. "But this is such a departure from what our founders set up. They wanted to make sure we didn't have a secret government," she said.

This is the first time I have ever found myself agreeing with that woman.

You are also out of luck if you would you like to read the government regulation that says all passengers must present identification before being allowed on aircraft, or what sort of identification meets the government requirements. Those too are among the several secret regulations issued after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Even the wording of regulations authorizing government employees to carry out the procedures is kept secret.

In a letter to outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge last month, the two unions -- the National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees AFL-CIO -- complained that the restrictions on releasing sensitive security information are "unprecedented restrictions and conditions on the free speech rights" and are so broadly drafted they might even permit searches of the homes of government employees without warrants.


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 Faith-based harrassment

Officials with the Boulder Valley (Colorado) School District are investigating a charter school where some parents say their children have been targeted for religious harassment by classmates:
The mother of the suicidal girl told the Daily Times-Call newspaper said her daughter was singled out because she is tall and openly rejected creationism. She said the girl endured shoulder checks, tripping in the hall and other physical abuse.

The mother said that on Nov. 30, a group of girls surrounded her daughter and called her a "pagan" and said she "would burn in hell." Later that night, she refused to return to the school and her mother protested.

"she just grabbed the kitchen knife and just started slicing her arm," said the mother, who was not identified by the newspaper.

Louise Benson said her son - who is no longer at the school - suffered intense religious bullying by fundamentalist Christian students.

"Non-Christian children are viciously bullied for their different beliefs, and the perpetrators are not disciplined at all," Benson said."

Welcome to the Amerikkka you voted for.


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 Poll: American's views of religion in politics flips

There is still hope:


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Thursday, December 09, 2004

 DeLay seeks to jail those who filed ethics complaint

The gaul of this sorry excuse for a human is breathtaking. Tom DeLay is seeking to have the group which filed an ethics complaint against him found in contempt of Congress:
The complaint resulted in DeLay being admonished by the Ethics Committee on three separate occasions, which the House leader brushed aside. House Republicans have also moved to protect DeLay by passing a provision which will allow him to continue to serve as leader if he is indicted in a campaign finance scandal that took place on his watch in Texas.

DeLay’s attorney, instead, finds that those who filed the complaint – former Rep. Chris Bell (D-TX) and the Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – acted with “contempt for the law” (emphasis in original).

“Representative Bell and CREW have demonstrated contemptuous behavior toward the House and the Committee by improperly obstructing and interfering with the legislative process,” Bethune wrote to House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. David Dreier, “and by libeling a Member in the process.”

CREW’s Executive Director Melanie Sloan scoffed at the complaint...

The 33-page letter, penned by DeLay’s private attorney, Ed Bethuneis, is here.


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 What if they fought a war and no one came?

Col. David H. Hackworth (USA Ret.) provides an insider's view of recent Pentagon recruitment efforts:
Since this tragic war kicked off in March 2003, the United States has evacuated an estimated 50,000 KIA, WIA and non-battle casualties from Iraq back to the States – leaving 50,000 slots that have had to be filled....

“These are totals for the 41 USAREC (Recruiting Command) Battalions, so these stats represent the USAREC mission accomplishment:

  Regular Army Volume (all RA contracts):
    Mission: 25,322
    Achieved: 12,703 (50.17 percent)

  Army Reserve Volume:
    Mission: 7,373
    Achieved: 3,206 (43.48 percent).”

The Army National Guard is faring no better. A Guard retention NCO says: “The word is out on the streets of Washington, D.C. ‘Do not join the Guard.’ I see these words echoing right across the U.S.A.”

By the end of this recruiting year, the Regular Army, Reserves and Guard could fall short more than 50 percent of its projected requirement, or about 60,000 new soldiers. And according to many recruiters, quality recruits are giving way to mental midgets who have a hard time telling their left foot from their right....

“The bottom line is that Recruiting Command is in trouble”...
Don't forget they also have to pile sandbags on their trucks in lieu of armor, because they get the Army that Rummy gives them, not the one that would be most effective with fewest casualties.


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 Karl Rove sums it up

Karl Rove sums it all up for liberals:


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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

 Torture and racism

Check out the latest from the Rude Pundit, who intertwines the themes of torture and racism:
[Y]ou know all those movies, like Lethal Weapon, Rambo, etc., etc., where the American hero is chained like a dog while men in uniforms, usually either with Russian accents or Middle Eastern or Asian skin, approach said American hero and tell him, "Tell us what you know," and when the American hero says he doesn't know anything, they beat him, or threaten to rape his wife, or turn on the electricity, or thrown water on him to wake him up, or whatever. You know the films. They're calculated to make you wanna see that torturing motherfucker get the worst possible death. Yeah - drop kick 'em on the spiked fence. That'll teach 'em to torture Bruce Willis. Well, reverse it, motherfuckers. Change the context.

'Cause what's going on right now is the opposite. The people chained up are Middle Eastern. The uniformed young men walking into the room are American.


Blogger Dave S. said...

Right, when they catch us, they just cut off our heads. At least we leave them alive.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

You call this alive?

5:14 PM  
Blogger Dave S. said...

I know you have seen that this data turned out to be a joke. Still, it doesn't refute my point.

10:30 PM  

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

 The Pope on evolution

"It can therefore be said that, from the viewpoint of the doctrine of the faith, there are no difficulites in explaining the origin of man, in regard to the body, by means of the theory of evolution."

  -- Pope John Paul II, April 16, 1986


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 A poem for post-election reconciliation

Forwarded by my Mom:
The election is over,
The voting all done.
My side lost,
Your side won.
Let's pull together
And forget the past,
I'll hug your elephant,
You kiss my ass.

      [author unknown]


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Friday, December 03, 2004

 The genuine consensus on climate change

Next time you run into a climate change skeptic, point them to the latest issue of Science. It contains literature review of peer reviewed papers on climate science between 1993 and 2003. The idea was to test whether any of them challenge the consensus view that human emissions are causing warming:
The American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) all have issued statements in recent years concluding that the evidence for human modification of climate is compelling.

The drafting of such reports and statements involves many opportunities for comment, criticism, and revision, and it is not likely that they would diverge greatly from the opinions of the societies' members. Nevertheless, they might downplay legitimate dissenting opinions. That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change."

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

Admittedly, authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point.

Thanks to Chris Mooney for finding this gem.


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Thursday, December 02, 2004

 The thinking faithful ponder moral values

Following a presidential race during which many voters contended that Republicans hijacked the language of morality to further their political agenda, Stanford University's deans for religious life gathered Nov. 22 to question whether "moral values" can be defined as conservative or liberal, and to discuss where the country is heading. Here are some choice quotes:
"No president nor other leader should ever think he or she has been given divine sanction—been blessed by God—no matter what he or she does, bad or good, as [conservative evangelist] Pat Robertson claimed earlier this year for George Bush," said the Rev. William "Scotty" McLennan, dean for religious life. "Religion should never be a trump card or a voting block."

[Q]uoting from Michael Feingold of the Village Voice, Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann, senior associate dean, said the religious right has achieved its might at the expense of its soul. "Make no mistake, this is the election in which American Christianity destroyed itself," Feingold wrote. "Today the church is no longer a religion but a tacky political lobby."

"In reality, 'values' and 'morals' are not red or blue," [Discussion moderator Elaine Ray] said, referring to the color-coded maps that depicted states President Bush won as red and those his Democratic challenger won as blue. "They are gray, because in many cases they are personal and in all cases they are complicated."


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 Two reports slam Bush for politicizing science

Rep Henry Waxman (D-CA) has issued a report that contains a blistering indictment of some of the Bush Administration's dark-age values. Specifically, the Bush administration has been pushing SPRANS (Special Programs of Regional and National Significance Community-Based Abstinence Education), which dispenses $170 million per year to promote abstinence-only education that specifically and intentionally omits any mention of basic facts about sex and contraception other than "don’t do it."

The report shows how the abstinence-only program is rife with errors, outrageous lies, and a kind of Handmaid's Tale mentality that we should have discarded with the dark ages. Here's a summary:
The report finds that over 80% of the abstinence-only curricula, used by over two-thirds of SPRANS grantees in 2003, contain false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health. Specifically, the report finds:
  • Abstinence-Only Curricula Contain False Information about the Effectiveness of Contraceptives. Many of the curricula misrepresent the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. One curriculum says that “the popular claim that ‘condoms help prevent the spread of STDs,’ is not supported by the data”; another states that “[i]n heterosexual sex, condoms fail to prevent HIV approximately 31% of the time”; and another teaches that a pregnancy occurs one out of every seven times that couples use condoms. These erroneous statements are presented as proven scientific facts.

  • Abstinence-Only Curricula Contain False Information about the Risks of Abortion. One curriculum states that 5% to 10% of women who have legal abortions will become sterile; that “[p]remature birth, a major cause of mental retardation, is increased following the abortion of a first pregnancy”; and that “[t]ubal and cervical pregnancies are increased following abortions.” In fact, these risks do not rise after the procedure used in most abortions in the United States.

  • Abstinence-Only Curricula Blur Religion and Science. Many of the curricula present as scientific fact the religious view that life begins at conception. For example, one lesson states: “Conception, also known as fertilization, occurs when one sperm unites with one egg in the upper third of the fallopian tube. This is when life begins.” Another curriculum calls a 43-day-old fetus a “thinking person.”

  • Abstinence-Only Curricula Treat Stereotypes about Girls and Boys as Scientific Fact. One curriculum teaches that women need “financial support,” while men need “admiration.” Another instructs: “Women gauge their happiness and judge their success on their relationships. Men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments.”

  • Abstinence-Only Curricula Contain Scientific Errors. In numerous instances, the abstinence-only curricula teach erroneous scientific information. One curriculum incorrectly lists exposure to sweat and tears as risk factors for HIV transmission. Another curriculum states that “twenty-four chromosomes from the mother and twenty-four chromosomes from the father join to create this new individual”; the correct number is 23.
The report finds numerous examples of these errors. Serious and pervasive problems with the accuracy of abstine nce-only curricula may help explain why these programs have not been shown to protect adolescents from sexually transmitted diseases and why youth who pledge abstinence are significantly less likely to make informed choices about precautions when they do have sex.

In a similar vein the Federation of American Scientists released a report yesterday indicting the politicization of science policy under the current regime. "Flying Blind: The Rise, Fall, and Possible Resurrection of Science Policy Advice in the United States" details the declining impact of scientific advice on US policymaking, and how to remedy the problem:

The President and the Congress are constantly confronted with decisions about new medical technologies, advanced weapon systems, wireless communication regulation, and other matters that hinge on technical facts. While technical analysis is almost never sufficient to make wise choices, absent competent, timely, targeted scientific and technical analysis, these decisions will depend on unchallenged assertions by special interests and ideologues. Programs are likely to be poorly designed and subject to costly mistakes. Even worse, lacking competent advice, the nation may fail to act on problems until they are costly and difficult to solve or fail to seize important opportunities to achieve public objectives in security, education, health care, the environment, or other critical areas. [emphasis mine]

If all of this sounds familiar, it should. In July the Union of Concerned Scientists released their own report detailing how the Bush Administration suppresses and distorts scientific knowledge and undermines scientific advisory panels.

Can you say Lysenkoism? I thought you could.


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 Humanist humor: Is Hell exothermic?

The following is a question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet.

Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:
First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my freshman year that, "it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct... leaving only Heaven thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."

This student received the only "A."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cute, but Too Good To Be True (again) - hell

2:39 PM  

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

 Living under fascism

Davidson Loehr, the author, is a senior minister at the First Unitarian Universlist Church of Austin, Texas:

First UU Church of Austin - Sermons
Living Under Fascism
Davidson Loehr
7 November 2004
First UU Church of Austin
4700 Grover Ave., Austin, TX
78756 512-452-6168 - www.austinuu.org

SERMON: Living Under Fascism

You may wonder why anyone would try to use the word "fascism" in a serious discussion of where America is today. It sounds like cheap name-calling, or melodramatic allusion to a slew of old war movies. But I am serious. I don't mean it as name-calling at all. I mean to persuade you that the style of governing into which America has slid is most accurately described as fascism, and that the necessary implications of this fact are rightly regarded as terrifying. That's what I am about here. And even if I don't persuade you, I hope to raise the level of your thinking about who and where we are now, to add some nuance and perhaps some useful insights.

The word comes from the Latin word "Fasces," denoting a bundle of sticks tied together. The individual sticks represented citizens, and the bundle represented the state. The message of this metaphor was that it was the bundle that was significant, not the individual sticks. If it sounds un-American, it's worth knowing that the Roman Fasces appear on the wall behind the Speaker's podium in the chamber of the US House of Representatives.

Still, it's an unlikely word. When most people hear the word "fascism" they may think of the racism and anti-Semitism of Mussolini and Hitler. It is true that the use of force and the scapegoating of fringe groups are part of every fascism. But there was also an economic dimension of fascism, known in Europe during the 1920s and '30s as "corporatism," which was an essential ingredient of Mussolini's and Hitler's tyrannies. So-called corporatism was adopted in Italy and Germany during the 1930s and was held up as a model by quite a few intellectuals and policy makers in the United States and Europe.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago (in "The Corporation Will Eat Your Soul"), Fortune magazine ran a cover story on Mussolini in 1934, praising his fascism for its ability to break worker unions, disempower workers and transfer huge sums of money to those who controlled the money rather than those who earned it.

Few Americans are aware of or can recall how so many Americans and Europeans viewed economic fascism as the wave of the future during the 1930s. Yet reviewing our past may help shed light on our present, and point the way to a better future. So I want to begin by looking back to the last time fascism posed a serious threat to America.

In Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel "It Can't Happen Here," a conservative southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The politician - Buzz Windrip - runs his campaign on family values, the flag, and patriotism. Windrip and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American democracy as those concerned with individual rights and freedoms as anti-American. That was 69 years ago.

One of the most outspoken American fascists from the 1930s was economist Lawrence Dennis. In his 1936 book, The Coming American Fascism a coming which he anticipated and cheered as Dennis declared that defenders of "18th-century Americanism" were sure to become "the laughing stock of their own countrymen." The big stumbling block to the development of economic fascism, Dennis bemoaned, was "liberal norms of law or constitutional guarantees of private rights."

So it is important for us to recognize that, as an economic system, fascism was widely accepted in the 1920s and '30s, and nearly worshiped by some powerful American industrialists. And fascism has always, and explicitly, been opposed to liberalism of all kinds.

Mussolini, who helped create modern fascism, viewed liberal ideas as the enemy. "The Fascist conception of life," he wrote, "stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical liberalism [which] denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual." (In 1932 Mussolini wrote, with the help of Giovanni Gentile, an entry for the Italian Encyclopedia on the definition of fascism. You can read the whole entry at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.html)

Mussolini thought it was unnatural for a government to protect individual rights: The essence of fascism, he believed, is that government should be the master, not the servant, of the people.

Still, fascism is a word that is completely foreign to most of us. We need to know what it is, and how we can know it when we see it.

In an essay coyly titled "Fascism Anyone?," Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, identifies social and political agendas common to fascist regimes. His comparisons of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet yielded this list of 14 "identifying characteristics of fascism." (The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2. Read it at http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/britt_23_2.htm) See how familiar they sound.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights

Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause

The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military

Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism

The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

6. Controlled Mass Media

Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security

Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined

Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected

The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed

Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment

Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption

Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections

Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

This list will be familiar to students of political science. But it should be familiar to students of religion as well, for much of it mirrors the social and political agenda of religious fundamentalisms worldwide. It is both accurate and helpful for us to understand fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism. They both come from very primitive parts of us that have always been the default setting of our species: amity toward our in-group, enmity toward out-groups, hierarchical deference to alpha male figures, a powerful identification with our territory, and so forth. It is that brutal default setting that all civilizations have tried to raise us above, but it is always a fragile thing, civilization, and has to be achieved over and over and over again.

But, again, this is not America's first encounter with fascism. In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, "write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?"

Vice President Wallace's answer to those questions was published in The New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan. See how much you think his statements apply to our society today.

"The really dangerous American fascist," Wallace wrote, is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism he saw rising in America, Wallace added, "They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection." By these standards, a few of today's weapons for keeping the common people in eternal subjection include NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, union-busting, cutting worker benefits while increasing CEO pay, elimination of worker benefits, security and pensions, rapacious credit card interest, and outsourcing of jobs not to mention the largest prison system in the world.

The Perfect Storm

Our current descent into fascism came about through a kind of "Perfect Storm," a confluence of three unrelated but mutually supportive schools of thought.

1. The first stream of thought was the imperialistic dream of the Project for the New American Century. I don't believe anyone can understand the past four years without reading the Project for the New American Century, published in September 2000 and authored by many who have been prominent players in the Bush administrations, including Cheney, Rumsfleid, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Kagan, to name only a few. This report saw the fall of Communism as a call for America to become the military rulers of the world, to establish a new worldwide empire. They spelled out the military enhancements we would need, then noted, sadly, that these wonderful plans would take a long time, unless there could be a catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor that would let the leaders turn America into a military and militarist country. There was no clear interest in religion in this report, and no clear concern with local economic policies.

2. A second powerful stream must be credited to Pat Robertson and his Christian Reconstructionists, or Dominionists. Long dismissed by most of us as a screwball, the Dominionist style of Christianity, which he has been preaching since the early 1980s, is now the most powerful religious voice in the Bush administration.

Katherine Yurica, who transcribed over 1300 pages of interviews from Pat Robertson's "700 Club" shows in the 1980s, has shown how Robertson and his chosen guests consistently, openly and passionately argued that America must become a theocracy under the control of Christian Dominionists. Robertson is on record saying democracy is a terrible form of government unless it is run by his kind of Christians. He also rails constantly against taxing the rich, against public education, social programs and welfare and prefers Deuteronomy 28 over the teachings of Jesus. He is clear that women must remain homebound as obedient servants of men, and that abortions, like homosexuals, should not be allowed. Robertson has also been clear that other kinds of Christians, including Episcopalians and Presbyterians, are enemies of Christ. (The urica Report. Search under this name, or for "Despoiling America" by Katherine Yurica on the internet.)

3. The third major component of this Perfect Storm has been the desire of very wealthy Americans and corporate CEOs for a plutocracy that will favor profits by the very rich and disempowerment of the vast majority of American workers, the destruction of worker's unions, and the alliance of government to help achieve these greedy goals. It is a condition some have called socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor, and which others recognize as a reincarnation of Social Darwinism. This strain of thought has been present throughout American history. Seventy years ago, they tried to finance a military coup to replace Franklin Delano Roosevelt and establish General Smedley Butler as a fascist dictator in 1934. Fortunately, they picked a general who really was a patriot; he refused, reported the scheme, and spoke and wrote about it. As Canadian law professor Joel Bakan wrote in the book and movie "The Corporation," they have now achieved their coup without firing a shot.

Our plutocrats have had no particular interest in religion. Their global interests are with an imperialist empire, and their domestic goals are in undoing all the New Deal reforms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that enabled the rise of America's middle class after WWII.

Another ill wind in this Perfect Storm is more important than its crudity might suggest: it was President Clinton's sleazy sex with a young but eager intern in the White House. This incident, and Clinton's equally sleazy lying about it, focused the certainties of conservatives on the fact that "liberals" had neither moral compass nor moral concern, and therefore represented a dangerous threat to the moral fiber of America. While the effects of this may be hard to quantify, I think they were profound.

These "storm" components have no necessary connection, and come from different groups of thinkers, many of whom wouldn't even like one another. But together, they form a nearly complete web of command and control, which has finally gained control of America and, they hope, of the world.

What's coming

When all fascisms exhibit the same social and political agendas (the 14 points listed by Britt), then it is not hard to predict where a new fascist uprising will lead. And it is not hard. The actions of fascists and the social and political effects of fascism and fundamentalism are clear and sobering. Here is some of what's coming, what will be happening in our country in the next few years:

1. The theft of all social security funds, to be transferred to those who control money, and the increasing destitution of all those dependent on social security and social welfare programs.

2. Rising numbers of uninsured people in this country that already has the highest percentage of citizens without health insurance in the developed world.

3. Increased loss of funding for public education combined with increased support for vouchers, urging Americans to entrust their children's education to Christian schools.

4. More restrictions on civil liberties as America is turned into the police state necessary for fascism to work.

5. Withdrawal of virtually all funding for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System. At their best, these media sometimes encourage critical questioning, so they are correctly seen as enemies of the state's official stories.

6. The reinstatement of a draft, from which the children of privileged parents will again be mostly exempt, leaving our poorest children to fight and die in wars of imperialism and greed that could never benefit them anyway. (That was my one-sentence Veteran's Day sermon for this year.)

7. More imperialistic invasions: of Iran and others, and the construction of a huge permanent embassy in Iraq.

8. More restrictions on speech, under the flag of national security.

9. Control of the internet to remove or cripple it as an instrument of free communication that is exempt from government control. This will be presented as a necessary anti-terrorist measure.

10. Efforts to remove the tax-exempt status of churches like this one, and to characterize them as anti-American.

11. Tighter control of the editorial bias of almost all media, and demonization of the few media they are unable to control as the New York Times, for instance.

12. Continued outsourcing of jobs, including more white-collar jobs, to produce greater profits for those who control the money and direct the society, while simultaneously reducing America's workers to a more desperate and powerless status.

13. Moves in the banking industry to make it impossible for an increasing number of Americans to own their homes. As they did in the 1930s, those who control the money know that it is to their advantage and profit to keep others renting rather than owning.

14. Criminalization of those who protest, as un-American, with arrests, detentions and harassment increasing. We already have a higher percentage of our citizens in prison than any other country in the world. That percentage will increase.

15. In the near future, it will be illegal or at least dangerous to say the things I have said here this morning. In the fascist story, these things are un-American. In the real history of a democratic America, they were seen as profoundly patriotic, as the kind of critical questions that kept the American spirit alive are the kind of questions, incidentally, that our media were supposed to be pressing.

Can these schemes work? I don't think so. I think they are murderous, rapacious and insane. But I don't know. Maybe they can. Similar schemes have worked in countries like Chile, where a democracy in which over 90% voted has been reduced to one in which only about 20% vote because they say, as Americans are learning to say, that it no longer matters who you vote for.


In the meantime, is there any hope, or do we just band together like lemmings and dive off a cliff? Yes, there is always hope, though at times it is more hidden, as it is now.

As some critics are now saying, and as I have been preaching and writing for almost twenty years, America's liberals need to grow beyond political liberalism, with its often self-absorbed focus on individual rights to the exclusion of individual responsibilities to the larger society. Liberals will have to construct a more complete vision with moral and religious grounding. That does not mean confessional Christianity. It means the legitimate heir to Christianity. Such a legitimate heir need not be a religion, though it must have clear moral power, and be able to attract the minds and hearts of a voting majority of Americans.

And the new liberal vision must be larger than that of the conservative religious vision that will be appointing judges, writing laws and bending the cultural norms toward hatred and exclusion for the foreseeable future. The conservatives deserve a lot of admiration. They have spent the last thirty years studying American politics, forming their vision and learn how to gain control in the political system. And it worked; they have won. Even if liberals can develop a bigger vision, they still have all that time-consuming work to do. It won't be fast. It isn't even clear that liberals will be willing to do it; they may instead prefer to go down with the ship they're used to.

One man who has been tireless in his investigations and critiques of America's slide into fascism is Michael C. Ruppert, whose postings usually read as though he is wound way too tight. But he offers four pieces of advice about what we can do now, and they seem reality-based enough to pass on to you.

This is America; they're all about money:

* First, he says you should get out of debt.

* Second is to spend your money and time on things that give you energy and provide you with useful information.

* Third is to stop spending a penny with major banks, news media and corporations that feed you lies and leave you angry and exhausted.

* And fourth is to learn how money works and use it like a (political) weapon as he predicts the rest of the world will be doing against us. (from http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/110504_snap_out.shtml)

That's advice written this week. Another bit of advice comes from sixty years ago, from Roosevelt's Vice President, Henry Wallace. Wallace said, "Democracy, to crush fascism internally, must...develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels."

Still another way to understand fascism is as a kind of colonization. A simple definition of "colonization" is that it takes people's stories away, and assigns them supportive roles in stories that empower others at their expense. When you are taxed to support a government that uses you as a means to serve the ends of others, you are ironically in a state of taxation without representation. That's where this country started, and it's where we are now.

I don't know the next step. I'm not a political activist; I'm only a preacher. But whatever you do, whatever we do, I hope that we can Remember some very basic things that I think of as eternally true. One is that the vast majority of people are good decent people who mean and do as well as they know how. Very few people are evil, though some are. But we all live in families where some of our blood relatives support things we hate. I believe they mean well, and the way to rebuild broken bridges is through greater understanding, compassion, and a reality-based story that is more inclusive and empowering for the vast majority of us.

Those who want to live in a reality-based story rather than as serfs in an ideology designed to transfer power, possibility and hope to a small ruling elite have much long and hard work to do, individually and collectively. It will not be either easy or quick.

But we will do it. We will go forward in hope and in courage. Let us seek that better path, and find the courage to take it a step, by step, by step.

Powerful stuff. What is your view?


Blogger Dave S. said...

My view: that was too long. Tighten it up. No one can read that many words.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Nanovirus said...

It is a sermon; it isn't suppposed to be "read" -- at least not originally. Besides, I know you don't like to read anyway ;)

10:49 AM  

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 Right-wing radicals teaching kids to hate with music

This is so disturbing on so many levels. Echoing the hatred that pours out of the mouths of the rightwingnut media, a South St. Paul, Minnesota firm's mission is to create racists:
Byron Calvert... runs Panzerfaust Records, a five-year-old company that has quickly become one of the top "white power" record labels in the country.... In September he launched Project Schoolyard, a plan to snag kids 13 to 19 by distributing 100,000 free CDs of such bands as Day of the Sword, H8 Machine and Final War. Calvert cares less about the melody than the message. "We hook 'em with the music," he says, and then kids learn—and buy—more online. As his Web site declares, "We don't just entertain racist kids, we create them!"...

The CDs have started to find their way into schools in smaller towns around the country. In rural Madison, W.Va., a pair of twentysomething kids clad in black silently handed out CDs to middle- and high-school students as they stepped off their buses one morning.

Like I need another thing to worry about for my kids.


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 Defending liberals abroad but not at home

Katrina vanden Heuvel draws some intriguing parallels between the state of democracy in the Ukraine and in the US:
On the hypocrisy meter: Consider how the Ukrainian protesters' charges of election fraud have been treated so seriously by Bush and his team, while they dismiss such charges when they are raised here at home. And how exactly does the Bush Administration--which has said that it cannot accept the results of the Ukrainian presidential election as legitimate "because it does not meet international standards"--explain why those international standards don't apply to the US? What right does this Administration have to lecture Ukraine when Bush came to office in a non-violent coup d'etat in 2000, and when numerous reports document that the 2004 election was marred by GOP voter suppression and intimidation tactics, flawed voting equipment and unexplained discrepancies between exit polls and official results in key swing states?

Now think back to January, 2001, when Congress was finalizing the Electoral College votes. Imagine that one Democratic Senator had joined with the members of the House who were trying to challenge the Florida votes. Picture in your mind what the last 4 years might have been like. Now ask yourself why this isn't happening now.

On a related note, check out how Pravda views all this:

The strongarm tactics used by the western stooge, Yushchenko, are typical of the anti-democratic processes set in motion by a rampant and militant Washington, crushed in the grip on a monetarist, neo-conservative crypto-fascist clique of elitists, whose corporate greed speaks louder than the mores of international diplomacy and whose thirst to dominate the world's resources in the lifetimes of Rumsfeld and Cheney throws any moral concept into the trash bin. [via AndrewSullivan]
Hey W! Thanks for restarting the cold war, you fucking dumbass chimp.


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