Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why Interventionism Fails

The complexity conundrum
by Justin Raimondo

Aggressive wars are immoral: mass murder is unforgivable, and our foreign policy of global interventionism puts us in the same moral class as any of the European imperialist powers that blundered their way through Africa, Eastasia, the Americas, and the Middle East. Anti-imperialism is, first and foremost, a moral position, especially for Americans, who have always utilized the world stage to dramatize their own virtue.

Yet the question of how, when, and if we ought to intervene abroad, either militarily or in some other, less obtrusive manner, can also be settled in its own terms. The case against interventionism can be made in a purely practical, empirical framework: i.e. it can be shown that it just doesn't work. Not because the wrong people are in charge, not due to incompetence, the wearing of ideological blinders, or some other disability or shortcoming on the part of policymakers – but because it is simply not possible, no matter who is in charge.

What rules out any really effective foreign intervention, either military or economic (i.e. taxpayer-funded "aid" programs of one sort or another), is the sheer complexity of the terrain we find ourselves on. There are just too many factors to fit comfortably into convenient equations, too many layers of historical debris to uncover and clear away, too many ancient disputes that can only be dimly understood by outsiders. The common complaint, by war critics and the neocons, is that there wasn't enough "planning" done by the administration, that insufficient resources made available to the Iraq war effort, etc., etc. Yet no amount of resources deployed under the constraints of even the most meticulous, well-thought-out plan can achieve what we set out to do in Iraq, i.e. create a stable democratic ally, or even a stable replacement for the despotism we upended.

More on this though here ...

Your tax dollars hard at work

Commerce, Treasury funds helped boost GOP campaigns

Marisa Taylor and Kevin G. Hall
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Top Commerce and Treasury department officials appeared with Republican candidates and doled out millions in federal money in battleground congressional districts and states after receiving White House political briefings detailing GOP election strategy.

Political appointees in the Treasury Department received at least 10 political briefings from July 2001 to August 2006, officials familiar with the meetings said. Their counterparts at the Commerce Department received at least four briefings - all in the election years of 2002, 2004 and 2006.

The House Oversight Committee is investigating whether the White House's political briefings to at least 15 agencies, including to the Justice Department, the General Services Administration and the State Department, violated a ban on the use of government resources for campaign activities.

Read it and weep here ...

Ya gotta wonder what would have happened if Republicans had uncovered a real crime like this during the Clinton administration. What do you suppose the reaction would have been?

I really don't know how much more right wing "honesty and integrity" we can afford but I do know that Bill's blow job didn't cost the tax payers anything until the voyeurs on the right got involved with it.

New Mexico Express

New Mexico Express
from a series

On Sibyl Road
from a series

OK ... so, who's watching the watchers watching YOU

Concern Over Wider Spying Under New Law

Published: August 19, 2007

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 — Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches of American citizens and the collection of their business records, Democratic Congressional officials and other experts said.

Administration officials acknowledged that they had heard such concerns from Democrats in Congress recently, and that there was a continuing debate over the meaning of the legislative language. But they said the Democrats were simply raising theoretical questions based on a harsh interpretation of the legislation.

Surveil THIS ...

I am firmly convinced that those of us who were born in the 40s and 50s, grew up in the 60's and 70's, and came of age in the 80s and 90s are the luckiest people who have ever lived. We got to experience the American Dream of being who we wanted to be, pursuing happiness in what ever way we chose. We had the greatest personal freedom and the greatest privacy of person and thought. We could befriend anyone we chose.

In the 60s we could protest injustice and change the world ... and we did ... though, to my chagrin, those changes we made appear to have been only temporary.

My greatest fear is that it is downhill from here. Those wonderful freedoms our fathers fought and died for in defense of this country 65 years ago, against the juggernaut of unbridled xenophobic hatred, war profit motivation and the dream of world domination are now ... a mere 65 years later, being surrendered to the same forces in human nature they fought against ... and all because, pressed for time to get on with their precious vacations, our duly elected representatives can't be bothered to read what they are voting on in Congress!

In case you missed it in school, here's the text of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America - the one that just went away:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

What part of "shall not be violated" don't they understand?

Totally free enterprise at work

Plumbing boss charged Pentagon $1m for two washers

Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Friday August 17, 2007
Guardian Unlimited / UK

Plumbers are notorious for excessive bills. But none has come even remotely close to matching an extravagant claim by a South Carolina firm: almost $1m (£500,000) for two metal washers worth 19c each.

Charlene Corley, 47, co-owner of the plumbing and electrical firm C&D Distributors, who supplied parts to the military, is awaiting sentence after pleading guilty yesterday to defrauding the Pentagon. She faces 20 years in jail.

The most expensive washers in history were part of $20.5m the company stole from the Pentagon over the last 10 years. The company shipped plumbing and electrical parts to US bases round the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The rest is here ...

An old dictum from the extreme right tells us:

Profit is Good
War is Profitable
Therefore War is Good

That would be the syllogism that made war so attractive to Hitler and the Nazis, as well as Mussolini and his Fascists. If you recall, aside from the motivations of Hitler's racist xenophobia, he and Mussolini were leading Germany and Italy out of a severe depression and rampant inflation (yes, the Great Depression of the 1930 effected more than just the Dust Bowl here in the US). War fuels industry. War IS profitable. There's nothing like a war to ramp up the gears of an economy.

Unfortunately, there are several significant risks with war:
  1. You can't predict the winner. In the 1940s Germany had THE war machine and was a Super Power in its era. They invented the Blitzkrieg and, throughout 1942 the world considered Germany unstoppable. They lost everything in 1945. The USSR (a Super Power at the time) took on Afghanistan during 1979-1989 and had their asses handed to them by the ISI/CIA supported, cave dwelling Mujahideen. Truth be know, the Mujahideen, who literally routed the Soviet Super Power kinda morphed into the Taliban that we (another Super Power) are fighting now. During the American Revolution, England was unquestionably the Super Power of the era. It didn't do them all that much good in their fight with the colonists in our neck of the woods. So, being a Super Power doesn't really count for a lot when you come right down to it. It may be great when it comes to bragging rights but never underestimate your enemy.

  2. Even if you could predict the winner, when you come right down to it, figuring out who won isn't always easy. It's probably more accurate to define the so called "winner" as the side that lost the least. That is to say, in the end, everyone looses in a way ... except war profiteers.

God Bless Me, It's a Best-Seller!

(Christopher Hitchens shares his notes from his recent book tour. Rapier sharp wit that kept me chuckling all the way through. Very much worth the read!)

One of America's most seminal books is William James's The Varieties of Religious Experience, in which he argues that the subjective experience of the divine can be understood only by the believer. I have just been finding out how true this is. You hear all the time that America is an intensely religious nation, but what you don't hear is that there are almost as many religions as there are believers. Moreover, many ostensible believers are quite unsure of what they actually believe. And, to put it mildly, the different faiths don't think that highly of one another. The emerging picture is not at all monolithic.

People seem to be lying to the opinion polls, as well. They claim to go to church in much larger numbers than they actually do (there aren't enough churches in the country to hold the hordes who boast of attending), and they sometimes seem to believe more in Satan and in the Virgin Birth than in the theory of evolution. But every single time that the teaching of "intelligent design" has actually been proposed in conservative districts, it has been defeated overwhelmingly by both courts and school boards. A fascinating new book, 40 Days and 40 Nights, describes this happening in detail in the small town of Dover, Pennsylvania. Its author, Matthew Chapman, is the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin, which helps make Dover the modern version of the Scopes "Monkey Trial," in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925, with the difference that this time the decision went the other way. A Republican-appointed judge described the school board's creationist effort as "breathtaking inanity."

Full article in Vanity Fair ...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Jesus Wept

Actor Stephen Baldwin, the youngest member of the famous Baldwin brothers, is no longer playing Pauly Shore's sidekick in comedy masterpieces like Biodome. He has a much more serious calling these days.

Baldwin became a right-wing, born-again Christian after the 9/11 attacks, and now is the star of Operation Straight Up (OSU), an evangelical entertainment troupe that actively proselytizes among active-duty members of the US military. As an official arm of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, OSU plans to mail copies of the controversial apocalyptic video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces to soldiers serving in Iraq. OSU is also scheduled to embark on a "Military Crusade in Iraq" in the near future.

"We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war torn region," OSU declares on its website about its planned trip to Iraq. "We'll hold the only religious crusade of its size in the dangerous land of Iraq."

The rest is here ...

So ... for example, if you're Catholic or Jewish you don't have a prayer?

Letters to the Editor: Welcome to Utah

Reproductive misuse cause of world's woes

A lack of workers has created a giant vacuum in the U.S. labor pool that is sucking in millions of workers from Mexico to keep the economy going. These foreigners are not doing jobs that Americans won't do; they are doing jobs that Americans can't do, because their lives were terminated in the womb. Since Roe v. Wade, over 80 million Americans have been slaughtered. This has created the need for foreign workers to take their places.

These foreign workers and their families have more reproductive vitality. The most often conferred baby name in Britain today is "Mohammed." Mexican mothers in America average over five children each. U.S. mothers average 1.3. Abortion and birth control, the twin relics of hedonism, have brought western "civilization" to the brink of disaster. Meanwhile, the "scientists" scurry here and there in a dither over global warming.

Global warming is not caused by man's misuse of fossil fuel resources; it is caused by misuse of sacred reproductive resources. God has merely bumped the thermostat up a few degrees to see if man will repent.

Original here ...

They're contaminating our vital bodily fluids!! (See the dialog in Dr. Strangelove.)

In the meantime, it's "good science" when it brings you an iPod or bigger melons or a more tricked out ride. It's good science when it cures your cancer, saves your children from typhus and small pox. It's "junk science" when it doesn't agree with your orthodoxy, though.

They just keep loading it on ...

Possible Senate candidate removes copied language from Obama site

Associated Press - August 16, 2007 4:55 PM ET

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) - A potential Republican state Senate candidate had to edit his Web site because it contained language lifted from the site of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Mike Faulk, a lawyer from Church Hill, is considering a challenge to Senator Mike Williams of Maynardville. Williams this year shed his Republican affiliation to become an independent.

State Democrats pointed out this week that the "Get Involved" and "Donate" sections on Faulk's site mirrored the same sections on Obama's site. Faulk has since removed the language from his site, but questioned why he has become the target of state Democrats.

Load up here.

I wonder. Some people think the only crime is getting caught. I'm sure the Democrats are subject to their own indiscretions but they're no where near as good at grabbing the headlines with them.

Hey! At least he didn't steal from a fellow Republican. Now that's a demonstration of honor and integrity if ever there was one!

As for questioning why he's been targeted by state Democrats, it seems to me that it doesn't take a genius to figure that out. A.) He's unethical; B.) He's a Republican. (Though, I'm beginning to wonder if those aren't one and the same thing.)

On a side note, I think the head line editor had his head up his but. I would think the headline probably should have read: "Possible Senate candidate removes language copied from Obama site". After all, he didn't remove the language from Obama's site as the head line seems to imply ... he removed the language he plagiarized from his own site!

But then, with text messaging and all, who the F@&% really cares about accuracy in language use, anyway. You know what I mean?

As my Japanese friends used to say, "Spreak Engrish!"

Times that try men's souls

These are difficult times for rational people, particularly in the United States. Those of us who believe that scientific evidence should be the bedrock of policy formation, that logic should be the basis for argument and that uncertainty should beget tolerance are not honored in the political world. Rather, scientific evidence is ignored when it leads to politically unacceptable conclusions, logic is tossed aside when faith is involved, and tolerance for minority opinions is simply out of political fashion. Why should this be? For one thing, we seem to be becoming an increasingly religious country, and because religion supplants evidence and logic with faith—and faith can mean anything you want it to—politicians can get away with appealing to faith without having to justify themselves.

Book review at American Scientist Online.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yet ANOTHER load of Republican honesty and integrity!

Rising GOP star arrested

Angelo Cappelli is accused of theft from the estate of a deceased bank client.

Published August 16, 2007

Would you buy a used car from this man?

ST. PETERSBURG - Less than a year ago Angelo Cappelli was a hot newcomer on the local political scene, building key allies in his race for House District 52.

Cappelli narrowly lost the election, but his fundraising prowess, Ivy League pedigree and well-established banking job with SunTrust solidified his future with the local Republican Party.

That was until SunTrust began taking a closer look at paperwork coming from his office.

Get more honesty and integrity here.

After literally years of having to put up with petty Bill-bashing, it's interesting to see how many Republican scandals surface ... not petty, made-up scandals, mind you ... the Republicans provide the real thing!

They used to call Bill "Slick Willie" but I think stealing from the dead really takes the cake when it comes to being "Slick"! It would REALLY be ironic if Cappelli stored the $100 thousand he ripped off in his freezer!

Family Values ... Manson Family?

Nothing says “Family” like marrying your cousin, getting your pedophile priest friend to annul it, marrying somebody else, carrying on public affairs with various floozies while your shamed wife is in the New York mayor’s mansion, holding a press conference to announce you’re divorcing your wife and mother of your children, enraging your kids to the point that they never speak to you again, and then marrying some nutty whore and running for the president of terrorism.

on Wonkette.

Fair and balanced campaigning

OK ... so you can't see this in the e-mail version. You'll just have to click on the article title.

Straw Poll?

"So it’s an election with no Democrats, in one of the whitest states in the union, where rich candidates pay $35 for your votes. Or, as Republicans call it, their vision for the future."

- Jon Stewart

Check out the Indecision2008 web site, too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Texas Canyon Revisited

People visiting the Amerind often comment on what a nice place Texas Canyon would be to live. Actually, people have been saying that for thousands of years. the canyon is filthy with archaeological potential. I imagine that's why William Shirley Fulton purchased the 1,600 acre ranch in the canyon in 1930.

John Wayne used to stay at the Triangle T Guest Ranch in the canyon while filming in the area.

During WW-II the guest ranch was commandeered by the Federal government as a place to hold under house arrest the entire diplomatic staff of the Japanese embassy from Hawaii.

Just for the fun of it

These 16 Police Comments were taken off actual police car videos around the country:

#16 "You know, stop lights don't come any redder that the one you just went through."

#15 "Relax, the handcuffs are tight because they're new. They'll stretch after you wear them a while."

#14 "If you take your hands off the car, I'll make your birth certificate a worthless document."

#13 "If you run, you'll only go to jail tired."

#12 "Can you run faster than 1200 feet per second? Because that's the speed of the bullet that'll be chasing you."

#11 "You don't know how fast you were going? I guess that means I can write anything I want to on the ticket, huh?

#10 "Yes, sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don't think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I'm the shift supervisor?"

#9 "Warning! You want a warning? O.K., I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket."

#8 "The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?

#7 "Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen, fair is a place where you go to ride on rides, eat cotton candy and corn dogs and step in monkey poop."

#6 "Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven."

#5 "In God we trust, all others we run through NCIC."

#4 "How big were those 'Just two beers' you say you had?"

#3 "No sir, we don't have quotas anymore. We used to, but now we're allowed to write as many tickets as we can."

#2 "I'm glad to hear that Chief (of Police) Hawker is a personal friend of yours. So you know someone who can post your bail."


#1 "You didn't think we give pretty women tickets? You're right, we don't. Sign here."

A little burned out

Most of what we're going to pack has been packed. The rest will have to wait for the pros.

Most of the office is still in tact. I'll keep working right up to the bloody end ... then I'll be out of business for a couple days while the movers drive our stuff around town for a while, eventually delivering it to the new digs.

The day before yesterday we bought a new counter high dining room table and a herd of chairs. Yesterday, we dumped another load of buckaroos on a new refrigerator ... one of those 50/50 door configurations with the water spigot inside (I hate the look of those jobbers with the plumbing on the outside of the door ... MUCH prefer clean lines). Black ... matches the other appliances.

Got a call at 1:20am here time from one of my industry newsletter readers in the UK. He was trying to track down a bit of market research done by an Irish company ... he didn't realize that my office number is also my residence number. We had a delightful little conversation from what I recall ... ending with me rephrasing the Editor's Note I'd included with the newsletter item about the research report: "This study is NOT available through the resources of the OPI Report. It must be purchased from the vendor."

I guess there's a difference between British English and American English. I would have been happier if he'd e-mailed me his question. Still in all, it's nice to find that someone out there is actually reading what I send out.

We still have more furniture to purchase ... some of it will wait until we find a buyer for the current digs.

There are so many things to do, I don't what I don't want to do first!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris: The Unholy Trinity

... Thank God.

What a great read .. I almost wet myself laughing while reading it!

by Robert Weitzel

Christopher Hitchens, contrarian atheist and slayer of all beasts fascistic and theocratic, will be in Madison, Wisconsin, this fall to present the keynote address at the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s fall conference. Anyone who is familiar with Hitchens’ substance and style will expect a speech that is irreverent and uncompromising and totally worth the price of admission.

Predictably, faster than a fart can make a tent full of Cub Scouts giggle, letters to the editor and op-ed pieces appeared bemoaning Hitchens’ upcoming visit and calling him a boorish bigot for his willingness to describe the emperor’s nakedness in all its scabious and purulent magisterial arrogance.

Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are not bigots. They are an unholy trinity of bestselling atheist authors who are fed up with having to tap dance around people of faith whose religious beliefs are as irrational as they are ubiquitous, and as potentially deadly as they are personally cathartic.

Wet yourself here ...

Of course, reading through some of the comments on the web site posted above, I can assure you that "faster than a fart can make a tent full of Cub Scouts giggle" is functioning quite nicely ... without even realizing how ironic their responses are.

Try THIS on for size ...

Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch

By JOHN TIERNEY | New York Times
Published: August 14, 2007

Until I talked to Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, it never occurred to me that our universe might be somebody else’s hobby. I hadn’t imagined that the omniscient, omnipotent creator of the heavens and earth could be an advanced version of a guy who spends his weekends building model railroads or overseeing video-game worlds like the Sims.

Read the rest of this thought here ...

What's wrong with this picture?

Iraq's Chritians 'need assistance'

Tuesday, 14th August 2007. 4:03pm
By: George Conger | Religious Intellignece

THE PLIGHT of Iraq’s embattled Christian minority is dire and little has been done to alleviate the suffering, the vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White told the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) at a hearing recently in Washington.

Coalition forces have ‘done nothing to support the Christian community,’ nor respond to Christian ‘suffering’, while the country’s Jewish community -- once one of the largest in the world, has shrunk to eight people, Canon White said.

The July 25 hearings were called by the US government to examine the serious threats faced by Iraq's ‘communities of antiquity’: the country's non-Muslim religious communities, including Chaldo Assyrian Christians, Yazidis, Sabean Mandaeans, and other minority religious groups.

The rest of the article is here ...

Correct me if I'm wrong but, isn't it the fundamentalist Christian Right that most favors and supports the war in Iraq? Isn't it a little disingenuous to be barking after the blood of Islamists while turning your Christian back on the plight of fellow Christians as if they weren't there? Somehow, it seems so .... uh ... un-Christian of our Christians.

Republicans: Bringing another load of honesty and integrity to American politics

Romney Fund-Raiser Resigns

By Michael Luo / New York Times

AMES, Iowa–

A top fund-raiser for Mitt Romney who was indicted this week in Maryland on a $32 million fraud scheme has resigned from his position with the campaign as a national finance committee co-chair, a spokesman for Mr. Romney said.

A federal grand jury in Maryland unsealed its 23-count indictment of the fund-raiser, Alan B. Fabian, 43, on Thursday for money laundering, mail fraud, bankruptcy fraud, perjury and obstruction of justice.

Mr. Fabian, who had been one of 35 co-chairs on Mr. Romney’s national finance committee, allegedly ran up $32 million in fake purchases with his consulting company, Maximus Inc., based in northern Virginia, and pocketed the money for himself.

More here...

And you believed those campaign promises, didn't you? The lesson should be to beware of those who set themselves up as paragons of virtue and those who are ever so quick to point fingers at others. Me thinks they protested too much ... but you bought it ... hook, line and sinker.

Me? I can point a finger. I ain't running for office and I'm certainly not saying I've never sinned.

Think we need another 4 years of bringing this brand of honesty and integrity to American politics? Come back when you've got your own house cleaned up. I figure it will take at least a generation.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sometimes the obvious answer is not the right answer.

Among my favorite sources of news and perhaps among the least biased in any direction is the weekly digest of global news, The Week Magazine. I think the editor, William Falk, has a good handle on reality. the following is his brief editorial from the August 17, 2007 edition of the magazine:

"On my Saturday shopping excursions, I’ve noticed a change over at the Whole Foods. A new sign has popped up here and there amid the heirloom tomatoes, specialty cheeses and fresh roasted coffees, bearing the single virtuous word “local”. It’s a wonderful salve to the conscience: My fellow shoppers and I live amid such an embarrassment of abundance, yet simply by paying $4 for a head of local lettuce, we can do our part to save the planet from global warming. Or so it seemed, until some scientific spoilsports at Lincoln University in New Zealand ran all the numbers. To accurately calculate a products carbon impact, they found, you have to go beyond “food miles” – the distance that kiwi or artichoke flecked sausage traveled before reaching your table – and figure in how much fertilizer, transported water, electricity, and other energy was used to produce it. Lamb raised in New Zealand’s sunnier, grassier hills and shipped 11,000 miles to Britain, the study found, produced a mere 1,520 pounds of carbon emissions per ton. “Local” British lamb, which requires more intensive care, produced 6,280 pounds – four times as much."

"As if that heresy were not upsetting enough, a British scientist has calculated that walking to the store contributes more to global warming than driving a car, Walking, it seems, burns calories, which have to be replaced by eating food. And producing food – especially beef and dairy products – is more carbon intensive than burning a smidgen of gasoline, particularly since ruminating cattle emit so much methane. Now, does this mean we can do nothing to slow global warming? No. It only means that the world is enormously complex, and that simple solutions to big problems – solutions that make us feel comforted and virtuous – are almost always illusionary."

The Red Wall

Thunderbird Lodge, Canyon de Chelly

I'm not sure if I put this one up in this blog. If I did, its worth sharing again.

File under "If I only knew now what I knew then"

Dick Cheney speaks on the subject of invading Iraq in 1994.


Sad, Poor Americans Finally Give Up On Republicans, God

on Wonkette

A shocking new study by the Pew Research Center proves that Americans overwhelmingly identify themselves as Democrats today — 50% compared to 35% who say they’re Republicans. And they’re increasingly weary of religion, religious conservatives, stagnant and shrinking wages, income inequality and the sad toil of their miserable lives.

Just as beaten Depression-era voters would vote for anybody who wasn’t a Republican and specifically not Herbert Hoover, today’s ruined citizens have a vague notion that things might not be as bad with a Democrat in the White House. Still, voters don’t like Dems a whole lot more than they like the GOP: 54% approve of the do-nothing Democrats, while a deluded 41% still stand by Republicans.

Read the rest ...

The Bible's literary sins

from theblogbooks - Sam Jordison

Whether its central character exists or not is beside the point - the Christian scriptures are a barely readable mess.

Contrary to popular belief, the Bible is not a good book. I'm not talking in a moral sense and it's not my purpose to discuss its malign social influence, scientific absurdity, historical implausibility and the rather sordid origins of Christian orthodoxy. There's been plenty of that kind of thing recently from Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. I'm talking about the book purely as one that an intelligent person may enjoy reading, or (discounting the pretty slim possibility that labouring through the Testaments may win you a pass card through to heaven) find rewarding.

The literary quality of the Bible is an issue that I think is worth addressing. Firstly, there's the simple point that if the Bible really were the word of God, you'd think that He would be able to make it more interesting. Secondly, there's a war being waged against reason at the moment and it's gone time that reason started landing a few punches of its own. Why not freely state the obvious, but hitherto rarely mentioned, truth? The Good Book is not, as is so often suggested, a damn good read. It's crap. If the two Testaments tell the greatest story ever told, I am a monkey (and not just the distant descendant of one).

Now, I'm aware that saying the Bible is crap rather a crude statement. So, let me introduce a few points to qualify my basic assertion.

Finish the thought here ...

Actually, I've read through it. It's not an easy read nor is it a particularly enlightening read ... at least not in the way it was intended. It found the Tao Te Ching much more spiritual, peaceful, and enlightening (in the way it was intended).

The Tao doesn't take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.

The Master doesn't take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.

The Tao is like a bellows:
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

Hold on to the center.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Redefining Left and Right

In an earlier post I suggested definitions for Fascism and Communism, the extremes of Left and Right. I suggested that Fascism was when "the Corporation ran the State" and that Communism was when "the State ran the Corporation".

I think it's time to revisit the idea and refine those terms and maybe a few others.

First, let me refine the definitions of those two positions.

Lets start with the term "Corporation" and for the sake of this discussion, lets say that represents the means of manufacture and distribution within the nation.

For the sake of this argument let us consider that Fascism, the position of the extreme Right, is when the State or Government acts in the best interest of the Corporation. At the other end of the spectrum in Communism, the opposite is the case. The State or Government "owns" the corporation or, one might say the Corporation must function in the best interest of the state.

In both cases, and in many ways, the State and the Corporation become an identity. As in the mathematical definition of an "identity", they become one and the same thing. The distinction between the State and the Corporation become more and more blurred the further one moves either to the extreme Left or to the extreme Right. At the greatest extreme, there ceases to be a functional diference between the State and the Corporation.

This suggests a slightly different functional perspective might be applied to the political spectrum.

Figure 1 (below) illustrates the common view of the political Left/Right dichotomy, outlining the extremes while Democracy ... the expressed will of the governed, occupies a middle position.

I've used the colors blue and red to denote the current Left wing liberal and the Right wing conservative approaches to American politics.

I would submit that the extreme Right wing and he extreme Left wing have more in common with each other than they do with a democratic (with a small "d") approach to government. Both are totalitarian, neither is concerned with the will or the welfare of the people.

By "folding" the diagram in the middle in order to put "likes" together we get something that looks a lot like Fig 2.

Fig 3. (below) is the final view when the totalitarian systems are superimposed on each other.

It is a little more difficult to place individuals on a political spectrum than it is to graph political philosophies. However, I've made an attempt based on my own personal perspective. Some may disagree with my assessment of the degree of extreme I've assigned to individuals and organizations in this example but it serves to illustrate a point.

I believe the point is, for the most part, those involved in the Democratic and Republican parties have more in common with each other than they have with the extremes. It is certainly true that the extremes on the Right and on the Left have more in common with each other than they have things that differentiate them from each other. From my perspective, the more extreme one's position is, the less in touch they are with the needs of the American people and, as a consequence, the less attractive they are in the up coming 2008 General Election.

The root of the overall feelings of dissatisfaction in this country stem from the fact that, post 9/11 the Bush administration has taken a position beyond the fringe of the overall Republican Party and, for a time at any rate, carried the Party along with it.

Echoing the general dissatisfaction of the public at large, significant segments of the Republican Party are now waking up to that fact and starting to express their own dissatisfaction with the course of the nation. The war in Iraq has moved their constituents to point out that they are not representing the attitudes and opinions of the people they are supposed to represent ... and the bottom line message is clear. Neglect the people and they will neglect to vote for you! They'll vote for someone who will address their needs and wants ... regardless of party affiliations. There will always be "die-hard" party members who will take the attitude "my party, right or wrong!" but the majority of voters possess that level blind party affiliation. They are much more interested in their own health care issues, food on the table, education for their kids and a world of peace and prosperity. They will support a war as long as it makes sense to them. They will swallow a party line for a while but, in the end, if their perceived self interests are not served, they'll vote the bastards out of office. That's the way it works in a democratic republic such as this, where the bottom line is that the government does not originate orders ... it follows them. In the end, in a democracy, the people set the policies. It may take some time, but the will of the people will be served ... as long as the Constitution stands.

The sooner both sides recognize, in their quest to serve "We the People" and that they have more in common than they have to differentiate them selves, the sooner we can all get back to a bipartisan government of the people, by the people and for the people.

There are good people and good ideas on both sides of the aisle. However, allowing lobbyists representing special interests other than the will of the people governed applies pressure on good people to do things that have dubious consequences. Special interests seek to create that "identity" between government and the corporate special interest.

Treating corporations as if they were individuals in a democracy is dangerous business. The corporate mandate is not to serve the people. It is to make a profit and the more entwined corporations are with government, the more government is pushed to the extremes at the right side of the scale in Fig 3 - where the corporation and the state are the same thing.

During the 1930 there was a phrase uttered mostly by capitalists on Wall Street. They said "what ever is good for GM is good for the country." That's not necessarily true.