Saturday, April 22, 2006 - - NOC NOC, Who's there?

I wrote this, almost a year ago. I believe it bears repeating and updating.

Listen. When a man's partner's killed, he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it.' (Bogart in The Maltese Falcon). - - NOC NOC, Who's there?: "NOC NOC, Who's there?
July 21st, 2005 (03:47 pm)

It was very badly written, due to the fact that I was shaking with incoherent rage, and that nobody was taking the issue seriously. Now we know that the President of the United States personally declassified the information, either in order to leak it, or subseqently to it being leaked.

Either way, it may not have been a crime, because he was the classifying authority, or so the argument goes.

On the other hand, should any other classifying authority behave in such a fashion, I would presume there would be swift consequences brought to bear, along the lines of being suddenly unemployed, if not worse.

It's simply amazing to me that the President of the United States could be so inherently stupid and so poorly advised as to think that he could blow a CIA network in a vital area of the world without becoming more of a threat to National Security than the "threat" the Prez was trying to gin up.

These stars each commemorate a CIA operative who died in the line of duty or as a consequence of their affiliation with the CIA.

The more I learn about Karl Rove and his way of operating, the more I learn about the scumbags that infest the Whitehouse and misuse the trust and sense of duty of those in the service of their nation, men who have already betrayed their trust once during IRAN-CONTA, men who have grown used to using intelligence assets and personnel like nickle chips in their own hegemonic poker games, the more I pray for the consequences of their actions to be brutal, conspicuous and very, very public.

In public culture, "Mission Impossible" depicts NOC agents; deep cover 'illegals,' who would go to some Third World or Eastern European sinkhole and turn the life of some depraved, power-mad lunatic upside-down. In real life, drama is the last thing any agent wants to happen near them, and they certainly do not wish to become "collateral damage" of extremely vindictive, petty, partisan politics.

Now, I don't know how many of these stars were put their by the decisions of Rove, Poyndexter, and other Iran-Contra convicts who are prominent members of the Regime. No doubt a few, but we will probably never be sure. But I'm equally sure none of those men are completly unaware of consequence.

Now, you might imagine that I am herein criticizing what the CIA did in all of this. I most profoundly am not. While covert, the CIA comes from the traditions of the OSS - which are military. Duty and trust of command authority are part of that. Understanding that missions are risky and assumptions often wrong is part of the job, as is the fact that from time to time, innocent blood may be spilled in an effort to spare millions more.

Or at least, so hope those who are told to go and spill it, knowing that it's plain common sense on everyone's part that they are never sure.

When it becomes clear and evident that those who have been pulling the strings for 35 years or more have no more regard for their tools than their victims, it is perhaps time to reflect upon what might help correct such cynical misuse.

The CIA has been scapegoated for many things; its secrets betrayed, its influence blocked and its assets squandered. One wonders if it's because those doing so fear that the CIA might know something.

I hope it does. Perhaps we shall find out, or perhaps we shall simply have to infer that by sudden and coincidental changes of fortune and circumstance.

If you would like to communicate your personal displeasure at the misuse of CIA assets, I have created a bumpersticker you might like.

Noc Noc, who's there?

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George should go lie down, but he prefers to go down lying.

Mainstream Baptist points us to John Dean; "If Past is Prologues, George Bush is Becoming an Increasingly Dangerous President" who predicts an October Surprise. (The only surprise would be no surprise.) He also predicts that, given the past risks GWB has taken, this will be a stupid, expensive, and dangerous ploy to maintain power in the face of his inability to maintain his credibility and earn the trust of the electorate.

Crooks and Liars points us to Col. Sam Gardiner who revealed to CNN what that "surprise" is; a war in Iran, that may well already be underway, reminiscent of Nixon's illegal, clandestine and ultimately tragically futile Cambodian incursion.

Sam Gardiner: Bush's Secret War on Iran

Gardiner thinks that decision has already been made and surmises it could be catastrophic for the Middle East.

Digby writes:

"Colonel Sam Gardiner is the retired colonel who taught at the National War College, the Air War College and the Naval Warfare College and who found more than 50 instances of demonstrably false stories planted in the press in the run up to the war, back in 2003. He was just on on"

Video-WMP Video-QT


The secretary[sic] point is, the Iranians have been saying American military troops are in there, have been saying it for almost a year. I was in Berlin two weeks ago, sat next to the ambassador, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA. And I said, "Hey, I hear you're accusing Americans of being in there operating with some of the units that have shot up revolution guard units."

He said, quite frankly, "Yes, we know they are. We've captured some of the units, and they've confessed to working with the Americans."

The evidence is mounting that that decision has already been made, and I don't know that the other part of that has been completed, that there has been any congressional approval to do this.

My view of the plan is, there is this period in which some kinds of ground troops will operate inside Iran, and then what we're talking about is the second part, which is this air strike.

(full transcript)

Raw Story has more...

And TPM says in A Resolute Fantasy World:

What is so notable (but unsurprising) here is the reaction of Bush followers to the extremely unusual and extraordinary event of seeing retired Generals criticize not just specific strategic decisions, but the overall mismanagement of the war, and in some cases, the wisdom of the war itself. As I pointed out yesterday, the fact that a bunch of generals hold a certain view does not, by itself, mean that the view is correct, including on military matters. But contrary to the deceitful attempt of Bush followers to pretend that this is some sort of commonplace event ("Generals are always griping about something"), it is remarkable, and significant on at least some level, for this many Generals to make these types of overarching and very public criticisms while a war is still ongoing.

In response, Bush followers have publicly speculated about every defamatory motive which could be fueling these Generals -- they have embraced every possible explanation except for the possibility that these Generals might actually hold these views sincerely. This behavior really illustrates, more than anything else, exactly how we were led into a war that has been a disaster on every front, and how we have stubbornly remained on the same course well past the time it became objectively apparent that this course was leading to nothing but abject failure.

"Miserable Failure," actually.

It would be no great difficulty to compile more and more on this general topic from a wide spectrum of people who share little but an instinctive distaste for almond - flavored Kool-Aide.

There are a number of things I've learned in my life, and the one that is most important is this: I do not have to justify disbelief today if I caught you lying to me yesterday.

The other principle comes from an old Russian proverb, which I will probably mangle; "If one man says you are drunk, perhaps it's an insult. If a hundred people call you a drunk, perhaps you should lie down."

I can only suggest that honest skeptics consider the depths of doubt and the arguments against trust, and compare that honestly with the substance of arguments in favor of "staying the course." That alone would be enough, in my mind. But we also have the objective results.

If I'm to be wrong - I think erring on the side of prudence is the best course. That very simple concept is also one of the key concepts of Conservativism, and something it's prudent to assume that a conservative president would do.

But then, that is possibly the second most fundamental lie. The single biggest lie he's told is also the least believable - that he is a "Christian."

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Purity balls are really, really creepy.

Update: Another take on this from Bark/Bike, seeing that people keep googling this topic. No, I can't spoil the punchline with a quote.

Hullabaloo and Huffpost

reporting on the creepy "purity ball movement." The comment threads are especially fertile and unprotected.

Caution - reading these posts and following links to examples may cause retching and the uncontrollable need to floss your brain.

from digby, the words of the pledge:

..this is what that little girl is reading to her father from that card:

I pledge to remain sexually pure...until the day I give myself as a wedding gift to my husband. ... I know that God requires this of me.. that he loves me. and that he will reward me for my faithfulness.

And this is what Daddy says in turn:

I, (daughter’s name)’s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.

He's the "high priest" in his home. Are we getting the picture?
Yeah. And one of his Staff of Office. Ewww.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Lies and Texans

Weapons of Math Destruction
By Paul Krugman
New York Times Op-Ed

Compared with the deceptions that led us to war, deceptions about taxes can seem like a minor issue. But it's all of a piece. In fact, my early sense that we were being misled into war came mainly from the resemblance between the administration's sales pitch for the Iraq war - with its evasions, innuendo and constantly changing rationale - and the selling of the Bush tax cuts.

Moreover, the hysterical attacks the administration and its defenders launch against anyone who tries to do the math on tax cuts suggest that this is a very sensitive topic. For example, Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa once compared people who say that 40 percent of the Bush tax cuts will go to the richest 1 percent of the population to, yes, Adolf Hitler.

And just as administration officials continued to insist that the trailers were weapons labs long after their own intelligence analysts had concluded otherwise, officials continue to claim that most of the tax cuts went to the middle class even though their own tax analysts know better.

How do I know what the administration's tax analysts know? The facts are there, if you know how to look for them, hidden in one of the administration's propaganda releases.

The Treasury Department has put out an exercise in spin called the "Tax Relief Kit," which tries to create the impression that most of the tax cuts went to low- and middle-income families. Conspicuously missing from the document are any actual numbers about how the tax cuts were distributed among different income classes. Yet Treasury analysts have calculated those numbers, and there's enough information in the "kit" to figure out what they discovered.

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Divine Strake - Chilling code for a naked threat.

Daily Kos: Randi Rhodes Begs For Attention To Planned Weapons Test (Update2 - Video): ":

RHODES: ... I did not come here to be partisan. I came here today, Lou -- I swear to you -- I came here today to ask you to do something. Seriously! My callers -- my listeners -- yours, too, I'm sure -- always get to this point and they go, well, then, James, what do you want us to do? What do we do? What do we do?

If every single camera that's available in the media -- cable- wide, network-wide -- is not in Nevada at the nuclear test site on June 2nd to watch 1.4 millions pounds of explosives be blown up so they can do the math and figure out how to make a tactical nuke, a smaller nuclear weapon that will represent that much firepower for Iran -- if we don't show America this mushroom cloud that will explode in Nevada on the 2nd of June, there is no hope for the American people, there is no hope for the media.

You asked me last time I was here, Who's fault is it? And I said, "It's our fault; it's the media's fault." We have to tell this story. This president is manifestly insane. Donald Rumsfeld is insane.
Video Links to Randi on Lou Dobbs:


Real Player

Other sources:

Blissing, on dKos

James Tegnelia, director of the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) said in a later retracted comment: ''I don't want to sound glib here but it is the first time in Nevada that you'll see a mushroom cloud over Las Vegas since we stopped testing nuclear weapons.'' Tegnelia also said it would be the ''largest single explosive that we could imagine.''

But is it a nuclear test after all? A very thorough timeline of coverage at Disarmament Activist reviews the ambivalent communications with the DTRA, as well the connection to "bunker buster" nuclear bombs, and, given our threats against Iran, their possible use against against nuclear sites there.

What is a bunker buster? For that matter, William A. Arkin reveals our government's crazy, ill-formed nickname regulations. And, this is what a strake is.

Although various reports online state that the test has been postponed, yesterday I called Dante Pistone, the public information officer for the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, who said that the test is still scheduled for 6/2. They have sent a letter to the D.O.E. requesting environmental impact information.

And, just because I rarely see his contact information in blogs, as well as because we need to, the Shundahai Network suggests contacting Donald Rumsfeld to comment:

Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

As well as,

Defense Threat Reduction Agency
Attn: james Tegnelia
8725 John J. Kingman Rd.
Stop 6201
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-6201


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Would George Bush Nuke Iran?

Tennessee Guerilla Women: Krugman: Yes He Would

"But he wouldn't do that." That sentiment is what made it possible for President Bush to stampede America into the Iraq war and to fend off hard questions about the reasons for that war until after the 2004 election. Many people just didn't want to believe that an American president would deliberately mislead the nation on matters of war and peace.

It should be obvious, especially since GWB has dismissed it as "wild speculation" that he might just be in the mood to nuke a few million people in order to postpone an accounting for his sins, political and personal. Any sensible review of history would agree, as indeed, John Stewart hilariously outlined last night. Anytime the Bush administration dismisses some rumor as unfounded, it's time to call your bookie and bet the other way.

Krugman concludes:
Current polls suggest that the Democrats could take one or both houses of Congress this November, acquiring the ability to launch investigations backed by subpoena power. This could blow the lid off multiple Bush administration scandals. Political analysts openly suggest that an attack on Iran offers Mr. Bush a way to head off this danger, that an appropriately timed military strike could change the domestic political dynamics.

Does this sound far-fetched? It shouldn't. Given the combination of recklessness and dishonesty Mr. Bush displayed in launching the Iraq war, why should we assume that he wouldn't do it again?

I would not bet my ass he won't. And, well, that's precisely what you are doing if you let this concern slide on by.

Betting your ass, your assets, and those of your potentially radioactive, mutated grandthings.

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Will somebody please give bush a blow job so we can impeach him!

Will somebody please....
Originally uploaded by Bob King.

I saw this slogan first on a Cafepress t-shirt and it seems to have spread all over by now.

My point is not to sell t-shirts (and really big, telegenic POSTERS) with this post, though of course that isn't an UNWELCOME result. You may note I have no "tip jar." I GIVE tips like this, instead.

Anyway, this underlines something I've said many times, many ways, over and over since 2000, and it's something I heard Randi Rhodes echo on the air day before yesterday.

It's up to all of us to do something, and wearing a t-shirt that slams an idea as visceral as this into the heads of fellow Americans is one of the best things you can do. It's a better way to spend your political money, in my humble opinion, than sending money to campaigns for media buys.

You see, most campaigns simply cannot afford to get you to do something so virally powerful.

This slogan has everything; first, it's speaking toward an obvious truth; Bill Clinton was censured and impeached for acts that are trivial compared to what Bush has done. The reasons Bush has not yet been impeached is the same reason that Clinton was - Politics.

When playing the right wing becomes more important than doing the right thing, it's time to get rid of ALL of them.

BOTH the senate and the house have become rubber stamps for white-house policy. That's why GWB feels he can treat public outrage with dismissive contempt.

And that is why you need to do one thing right now; this very second:

Forward this post to every single adult human you know. You see, this isn't about politics any more. Politics is supposed to be a means to serve an end; to promote and defend the general welfare of the citizens and provide for the common defense.

I believe that in the case of our general welfare and security as citizens, particularly in the Gulf Coast, and of course anywhere in the Middle East, we have evidence of a continuing, massive and miserable failure.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Dominionist Rationalizations for the Abuse and Torture of Children: Evidence of a Subculture of "Christian" Sadists?

If you are even vaguely concerned about the darker threads within middle-American cultural Christianity, you should read Dark Christianity from time to time. Over at, it's on my spirituality filter, but today I was checking out my new Technorati Tag thingie for Firefox, and clicked on "Dominionist."

I got a face full of it.

Dark Christianity - Another case of dominionist "baby-beating"?: "From the following article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

When Michael Bilodeau couldn't be there to see his 12-year-old daughter stripped and whipped with a belt, he made sure to listen in on a speakerphone from his Coral Springs home, according to police reports.

She deserved it, he told investigators, because she was a liar and 'it is stated in the Bible that it is OK to spank your children,' the reports said.

Bilodeau, 48, was arrested Saturday in Port St. Lucie on charges of aggravated child abuse and neglect.

Reportedly according to police reports, the child had multiple bruises in various stages of healing; the child has been removed to a care facility by the Department of Human Resources.

Lest anyone doubt this is yet another case of dominionism-related child abuse:

Bilodeau, who is listed as running a Fort Lauderdale office furniture business, lives with his wife and two sons in Coral Springs. Three years ago, he and his wife decided they couldn't take care of their daughter, so they sent her to live with a couple they were friends with in Port St. Lucie, he told police. He made sure the friends had similar religious beliefs.

He allowed them to punish her like he did: strip her naked, put her in an awkward position and strike her repeatedly with a belt or a stick, according to Bilodeau's arrest report. The punishments came in response to the girl not using proper English, not finishing her homework, lying, or "not accepting Jesus into her heart," police have said.
(Bolded emphasis mine)

All too often the "D" in Dominionism is interchangeable with the "D" in BDSM, without any limitations imposed by the concepts of SSC (Safe, Sane and Consentual) or even RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink.) Nor am I being flip in implying that this approach to child rearing is not just abusive and not just religiously misguided; I consider it to clearly be religiously-excused sadism, where the psychological risks are not just unacknowledged, but blamed upon the victim. I would not object were it to be called Religious or Ritual Abuse, save that I think both terms imply there is a some sort of religious or ritual reason, however depraved. Myself, I think the essential motivation rises no higher than the waist.

Now, how would I know all this? Simple. I'm a sadist. A sadist raised me. Sadism is a sexual orientation, much like homosexuality, and there’s considerable discussion as to whether it’s a “choice” at all. But of course, one always has a choice as to how one goes about expressing one’s essential nature. The only untenable choice is denial. It is, of course, also the most popular choice and thereby generates a spectacular amount of transgression, guilt, remorse and revenue.

I've spent most of my life trying to balance my sadism with my ethics. It's quite difficult to come to terms with a sexuality that can lead you to do Very Bad Things. Not "Bad things" like same-sex encounters; bad things that do actual harm to people that they do not deserve in any sense.

My approach was to explore and consider various ethical frameworks such as SSC – in and out of the BDSM community. I have internalized the idea that for every sadist there is a willing masochist or three, and have learned how to whack people in such a way as to be given their number, and a high recommendations to friends. I’ve also learned that for me it’s more about the infliction than the pain; I find the infliction of pleasure is just as rewarding, a great deal safer, and appeals to a greater audience.

Dominionism seems increasingly to be the complete opposite of my approach a complex (and damned expensive) system of religious excuses for repellant, abusive, dysfunctional behavior.

An interesting paragraph from a wikipedia discussion about Sadism and Masochism lends credence to my view:

Though the idea of putting BDSM in a different article is defendable, there should something in here that points out that sadomasochists, again like homosexuals, tend to create complex subcultures (Litman 1972 is the first source for this AFAIK) and are not loners like Freud and Krafft-Ebing assumed. This, again, was hammered in by Spengler and changed the whole view of sadomasochism which up until then was seen as something that affected individuals. We're back to that modern research thing again, I'm afraid.

(Suggestions for a rewrite of a terrible article, amusingly enough.) Emphasis Mine.

Consider the links in the further excerpt below, and read them both for what they say and the assumptions about children made within them, considering also the appeals to the shared values of a very complex subculture with it's own insular jargon.

Yes, you read this right--this apparently is very similar to cases involving use of dominionist baby-beating manuals by the Pearls, one of which is linked to the death of a child; it's also similar to the tactics promoted by Tedd Tripp, another dominionist "baby-beating" manual author. Both books promote the use of "chastening rods" made out of wood or PVC pipe, and both also have heavy emphasis on "deliverance ministry" and the general concept that all children are born with "spirits of rebellion" which must literally be beaten out and that the will of children must be broken completely to "save" them.

The article continues:

Police discovered the situation Saturday when the girl was reported panhandling at a Port St. Lucie Walgreens. When police found her, she told them she ran away because she was afraid of being spanked again by her caretakers. They found numerous bruises and cuts on her legs, buttocks and back, reports said.

The girl had been missing since Thursday, the police report said, but neither Bilodeau nor the girl's caretakers reported her missing.

Police said Bilodeau admitted to punishing the girl by striking her with a belt and a stick. According to the police report, he makes his daughter strip naked "because he wants her to feel the pain."

And he wants her to feel the pain because he's a SADIST. Not because he's a Christian, and not because he gives a flying flap as to the outcome of the "chastening," other than the obvious reflexive terror and compliance with his whims. A Christian would read their Bible and know that is exactly what Jesus Would Not Do.

But then again. He wasn’t a sadist. And if one IS a sadist, one has to work with that, or have it work upon one.

AS a sadist I have religiously studied the art and craft of torture, both physical and mental, because it interested me in that sense AND because I'm curious AND because I've always sought to find ways to ethically apply my desires and need to understand the proccess to know how to do that.

Torture - and the described "chastening" is deliberate torture in the physical and in the psychological sense - is a lousy tool to create any positive, desirable mental state. It's a very good way to break people in order to remold them, but Dominionist remolding techniques are light-years behind the state of the art in coercive "re-education," even within the confines of American religious cults. (And let this link stand as an example of the fact that reality is messier than any ideology cares to admit – even my own.)

Ask any ex-cult member as to which they would prefer; "Love-bombing" or a beating followed by isolation in a dark closet. Both techniques, of course, are effective in their own ways, both are frequently used and neither is more ethical - but for masses of people AND in highly isolated, controlled situations (Such as defined in various “Christian” discussions of American Family Values) - you want the love-bombing to be constant, and the beatings to be a distant but very real IMPLIED threat. Constant negative reinforcement tends to cripple the very abilities one wishes to empower, in order to have an effective follower, servant and tool.

It is not a large leap, therefore, to assume that a prime, if unspoken, motivation for Dominionists is not control, nor the molding of the personality of children and other subject persons in effective ways but is in fact the licence to physically dominate through verbal, physical and proxy violence.

This does not lead to good results. Indeed, unquestioning reliance on these values has led us into an internal cultural conflict that the world as a whole cannot afford to allow further external expression.

I have emphasized, again, two bits--one where he admits to use of a "chastening rod", and the other being a point I have seen brought up repeatedly even in James Dobson's "The Strong-Willed Child"--that a child must be made to hurt if a punishment is to be "effective" and (in the more blatant "chastening" manuals) recommendations of whacking on bare buttocks. (In fact, at least one dominionist church's guide on "child training" specifically recommends whacking on the bare bum, and another dominionist guide (which promotes use of belts for baby-beating) even states "stripes are necessary"--in other words, if it doesn't leave marks, it's not a proper "chastening".)

Children do need structure and discipline, and I do actually believe that for some kids the best way to establish authority and set the limits they need in the way they understand is a short, sharp, dispassionate spanking. Ideally, that will be a singular occurrence and an occasion of great and obvious relief to the child.

That relief is not due to God’s mandate; it is due to the fact that they work with our biochemistry and our hindbrains. But our forebrains are far larger and if you appeal to one and insult the other, the result is nothing any reasonable person would desire.

I have found that physical discipline produces positive results only if it's a dispassionate result of the violation of a just and reasonable boundary; a known, logical and proportionate consequence. Discipline of any sort is not done in anger, for self-gratification or whimsy. If you regularly exercise dominance in order to reassure yourself as to your Manly Patriarchal Nature – you are neither manly (or indeed, womanly).

A spanking is a good way of achieving a catharsis, releasing a flood of neurotransmitters. It is best used to punctuate and emphasize the transition from "being in trouble" to "Being forgiven." That addresses very powerful undercurrents in the human psyche. But a “swat on the bum” is what I’m speaking of; and an act symbolic violence that reinforces the family pecking order (and therefore a safe place WITHIN that order) than actual physical abuse within the legal meaning of the term.

The [Supreme Court of Canada] found that the use of "reasonable" force to discipline children was constitutional. According to the federal Department of Justice, the test of reasonableness: "...involves an examination of a variety of factors including the age and character of the child, the nature of the child’s behaviour calling for correction, the degree and gravity of the punishment, and the circumstances under which the force was applied. These factors are assessed against the contemporary Canadian community’s standard of reasonableness and not against the rules or practices of an individual family. The court provided additional guidelines, based on expert evidence led in the case, to aid in interpreting and applying section 43 in accordance with the Charter. These guidelines relate to the corporal punishment of very young children and teenagers, the use of objects in corporal punishment, injury, and effective alternatives to corporal punishment, among others." The "charter" referred to is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada's constitution.

They also determined that Section 43 does not apply where the use of force "is part of a genuine effort to educate the child, poses no reasonable risk of harm that is more than transitory and trifling, and is reasonable under the circumstances." For example, force can be used to remove a child from a dangerous situation, or to separate two children who are fighting. 1

Whimsical and arbitrary punishments, especially in the all-too-common cases where different children are treated differently betray this dynamic, and with it, any possible just reason for physical correction.

This entire article points to the dangers of groups and movements that are willing to tell you what you want to hear and profit by giving you excuses to do the things you would want to do anyway. To take your darkest urges and tell you that they are a mandate from on high is a shameful, deceitful tactic, for it will prevent you from ever coming to terms with your own, very human and fallible nature.

This is, of course, due to their very commercial interest in your continued delusion. And if you doubt me, consider all the appeals in your inbox for "Christian Lending," "Christian Home-schooling" and "Christian Politics."

"Who shall it profit, that I believe this?"

That is a question every Christian Sadist should ask themselves aloud, and all those who feel the need to be or the call to be Head of the family should consider from their own perspectives as well. Such privileged positions imply responsibilities, duties and above all, a degree of earned authority and practical competence.

The much-derided role of Patriarch/Matriarch is that of guide and guardian to those who need guidance and guardianship. Reactions that indicate a low threshold of need for guidance and guardianship should be cause for joy, and an appreciation for a reduced workload.

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What Would Jesus Charge?

Supreme Court declines Falwell Web appeal - Tech News & Reviews -

"Last year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and said Lamparello was free to operate his 'gripe site' about Falwell's views on gays at Lamparello 'clearly created his Web site intending only to provide a forum to criticize ideas, not to steal customers,' the court said.

The Supreme Court has now refused to take Falwell’s appeal of that ruling.

Falwell's Web site,, is more high-tech, with pictures of the minister and sales material for books and videos."

But to cricticise Falwell's ideas IS to steal his customers!

Or if we cannot take that as a given, we can certainly take the suit itself as validation of that assumption.

The problem with Falwell's ideas is they they cannot compete in a free marketplace of ideas - hence his continued attacks on critics. And the very wry observation on the part of the court, in a very narrow response to the issue indicates the Court was reacting to this as if it were, indeed, nothing more or less than a squabble between a pervayor of a substandard commercial product and a consumer critic.

It has long since ceased to amaze me that folks like Falwell cannot imagine how their rightious defence of The Faith are seen in such cynical illumination.

TRBC Church Construction

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Click Here for Photos

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Oh, right. I remember now. BTW does anyone know What Would Jesus Charge?

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The Blog | Danielle Crittenden: The President's Secret IMs: Bush & Blair Blast the Cheeky Mullahs | The Huffington Post

Danielle Crittenden: The President's Secret IMs: Bush & Blair Blast the Cheeky Mullahs |


Monday, April 17, 2006

Liberals need to learn to forgive.

Why shouldn't I change my mind? - Los Angeles Times:

Tip goes to the Huffington Post on this one.

"But when my political shift occurred is not important: Even if it had come a year or two later, it would still not have represented a cowardly retreat or an apologia, but a realistic, intellectually honest willingness to face the new facts of the situation.

In my view, no one should be required to apologize for having supported intervention in Iraq before the war. There were important competing moral goods on both sides of the argument, something that many on the left still refuse to recognize. The U.N. in 1999 declared that all nations have a positive 'duty to protect, promote and implement' human rights, arguing in effect that the world's powerful countries are complicit in human rights abuses if they don't use their power to correct injustices. The debate over the war shouldn't have been whether it was morally right to topple Hussein (which it clearly was), but whether it was prudent to do so given the possible costs and potential consequences of intervention and whether it was legitimate for the U.S. to invade in the unilateral way that it did.

It was perfectly honorable to agonize over the wisdom of the war, and in many ways admirable that people on the left, such as Christopher Hitchens, George Packer, Michael Ignatieff and Jacob Weisberg, supported intervention. That position was much easier to defend in early 2003, however, before we found absolutely no stocks of chemical or biological weapons and no evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program. (I know that many on the left believe that the prewar estimates about Hussein's weapons of mass destruction were all a deliberate fraud by the Bush administration, but if so, it was one in which the U.N. weapons inspectors and French intelligence were also complicit.) It was also easier to support the war before we knew the full dimensions of the vicious insurgency that would emerge and the ease with which the insurgents could disrupt the building of a democratic state.

But in the years since then, it is the right that has failed to come to terms with these uncomfortable facts. The failure to find WMD and to make a quick transition to a stable democracy — as well as the prisoner abuse and the inevitable bad press that emerges from any prolonged occupation — have done enormous damage to America's credibility and standing in the world. These intangible costs have to be added to the balance sheet together with the huge direct human and monetary costs of the war.”

-Famed neoconservative switches sides on the Iraq war -- and all hell breaks loose.

By Francis Fukuyama, Francis Fukuyama is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the author of "America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power and the Neoconservative Legacy."

See also Andrew Sullivan's nuanced hindsight. Welcome back to reality, Andy. Your quite lyrical and intelligent statement of the yet-possible rewards are noted and agreed upon, with the observation that those were possible either without military force, or with much less military force.

Both writers suggest to one degree or another that their issues and concerns were valid, notwithstanding their NeoConservative agenda. And indeed, many concerns they cite are, but from my perspective, at the time, while I had no difficulty with the invasion of Afghanistan (dispite my feeling that it would be much bloodier than it turned out to be), I had grave reservations about the validity of our choice to topple Saddam. I grudgingly supported the idea at first, in a flip-floppy sort of way, as I assumed, as I'm sure most others who supported the war did, that the Administration had better advice and better intelligence than I did.

Now it's clear that they abused my trust, and the trust of the American people.

It's also clear that a serious, clandestine intelligence-gathering effort would have clearly shown us much better ways to go about undermining the rotting edifice that was Baathism.

Don't get me wrong; Saddam was a boil on the ass of the world. But there are many such boils. The first thing we need to do is to redefine our foreign policy in such a way as to keep such boils from forming in the first place. The way to do that is to cease supporting "stable" governments, or at least, defining "stable" as "not dictatorships by definition.

We also need to question the fundamental premise of NeoConservatism; that we have the need and the right to dominate the world. First, I doubt very much the world, as a whole will permit it. Second, it's clear that we cannot actually dominate a single middle-eastern country.

It’s clear that the age of military power as the enforcer of effective domination is at an end, and I think the description of this conflict as a “clash of cultures” is an admission of this essential truth – that this has become an age where the means of domination is not conflict, but communication.

In order to win a cultural conflict, it follows that we must put the same effort into devising a superior culture with superior ideas and demonstrate the pragmatic value of freedom to all. Only then can we “win” something worth having, and that is done pretty much by sighing and deciding that in this sort of situation, someone has to decide to be the grownup.

A Right Wing and a Prayer

AGITPROP: Version 3.0, Featuring Blogenfreude: Red Meat For The Right Wing: "Red Meat For The Right Wing"

"Lets say your right-wing, fascist party has problems ... your president lied about, well, pretty much everything; your Vietnam-type war-of-choice isn't going so well; your vice president is polling below Goering; your new war has been exposed; your supporters are abandoning you; and your legislative agenda is in the dumpster along with most of your Homeland Security appointees. What to do?"

Ignore the real problems. Hammer the talking points, and throw a gay marriage amendment out onto the table to appease Gary Bauer and the rest of the Religious Reich.

Pro-family promises 'not kept'

GOP leaders long have known that the war and merely riding the coattails of a second-term president could disillusion their base.

If there was any doubt, conservatives issued a concise warning last month. Four groups representing evangelical Christians said an internal survey found that 63 percent of "values voters" -- identified as evangelical Christians whose priorities include outlawing abortion and banning same-sex marriage -- "feel Congress has not kept its promises to act on a pro-family agenda."

The Family Research Council, which headlined the survey, also announced it would hold a "Values Voter Summit" in September to "raise the bar of achievement for this Congress." At the top of the agenda could be a call for new leadership in Congress if those in power have not acted on social conservatives' issues.

Some leaders read the warning signs early.

The House has approved an amendment to the Constitution to outlaw flag burning and passed a bill to crack down on the practice of minors' crossing state lines for abortions to evade legal limits in their own states

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, and a possible presidential candidate in 2008, announced early this year that the Senate would consider those and the anti-gay marriage amendment that has failed in both chambers despite Bush's endorsement.

The irony, of course, is that voting for these "family values" issues will not promote any positive values that they claim. Banning gay marriage will not save one straight one. Banning legal abortion will simply promote even worse choices. And as for making flag-burning illegal... talk about your symbolic idiocies! Not to mention idolotries.

I happen to think it a tasteless act, but the first amendment clearly protects such acts of tasteless communication. And the bible forbids idolatry; the investing of objects with false spiritual value.

And CNN will be filled with images of the rest of the world torching our flag, urinating on our flag, the internet will be filled with offers of "patriotic" toilet paper; we will be mocked, and justly so, for our evident and ignorant hypocrisy.

Americans Who Tell The Truth

An intitiative of the Being Human Party.

Now, as third parties go, this party is a fifth. But you might just find that there are some damn fine ideas here if you poke around, and I don't think they mind if you swipe them.

This idea may well be sheer genius.

americans who tell the truth truck wrap

The idea is to "wrap" a semi-truck with the words and portraits of truth-telling Americans and send it coast to coast.

Click the picture for a larger view.

They will not accept more than a $500 dollar contribution, and are raising funds virally, and by innovative online sales of art prints that, again, feature truthtelling Americans and their words.

Proof of life in Kansas?

This came in the mail for me today; from one of those joke networks. The images come courtesy of someplace called "" Oh, note the sigline quote. It reminds me why I had that brief intellectual fling with e.e. cummings back in college. I think it may well become a new site tagline.

The reason I pass this on is not because it's funny - it's not all that funny. I pass it on as evidence of one of two possiblities; the rediscovery of a sense of humor in middle America, or a new trend of Godless Liberal Subversion, to which I can only bow in awe.

These "forwarding networks" are - or were, pretty much the domain of the right wing and tended to be reinforcers of deep skepticism of those they thought to be "in control" of the levers of power. That used to be liberals. So either some liberals have managed to penetrate the network - if not the skulls - of the hardcore news-avoidant, or they have figured out, finally, that the "liberals" are in fact George Bush et al.

One day, about a month ago, the president was looking for a call girl. He found three such ladies in a local lounge - a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead.
To the blonde he said, "I am the President of the United States... How much would it cost me to spend some time with you? The blonde replied, "Two hundred dollars."
To the brunette he posed the same question, and she replied, "One hundred dollars."
He then asked the redhead the same question. The redhead replied, "Mr. President, if you can raise my skirt as high as my taxes... get my panties as low as my wages... get that thing of yours as hard as the times... keep it as high as the gas prices... keep me warmer than my apartment... and... screw me in private the way you do in public, then believe me Mr. President, it ain't gonna cost you a cent."

"To be nobody-but-myself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting." -e.e. cummings-

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Right wants the right to tell you who gets into your pants and your heart.

I stumbled across this cryptic blog this morning, as I was checking my stats, and found this page on culture war issues, compiled by someone as preparation for the appearance of Michelle Goldberg ... somewhere, at some institution of higher learning.

In the first piece, Michelle is concentrating on the people behind the anti-gay marriage amendment in ohio, one with such profoundly restrictive language that it will likely have widespread unintended consequences. But the radical anti types don't care to consider the argument.

Critical Issues: Michelle Goldberg pieces: "This dynamic is on stark display on Friday, Oct. 8, when Columbus community leaders, activists and concerned citizens gather for a luncheon debate on Issue 1. Organized by the Columbus Metropolitan Club, a local civic group, the event is held in a second-floor dining room at the Columbus Athletic Club, an elegant place full of burnished dark wood and chandeliers. Several local businesspeople are there, including Cheryl McClellan. Every chair is taken.

The debate is between Melamed and Patrick Johnston, a physician and vice chairman of the Ohio branch of the far-right Constitution Party. Johnston isn't officially affiliated with Burress' group, Citizens for Community Values, but the two men worked together collecting signatures to put Issue 1 on the ballot, and Johnston says they talk often. He's also close to Minutemen United, whose members have turned up to support him at past speaking engagements.

Melamed, a distinguished-looking, gray-haired man in a well-cut blue suit and burgundy tie, begins the debate by emphasizing the likely legal and economic fallout from Issue 1. But Johnston, a blond, pink-faced 33-year-old, has no intention of arguing on Melamed's terms. 'Even if Ohio would be better off, gays should not be allowed to marry,' he says, because homosexuality is a sin that 'merits discrimination.' In fact, he says"

Earlier in the piece, Michelle informs us of the significance and context of the legislation.

A crucial electoral battleground state, Ohio hasn't done well during the Bush era. In the last four years, it's lost a quarter million jobs. A report from the U.S. Census Bureau recently rated Cleveland the poorest big city in the country. Young people are leaving the state in droves. In August, Brent Larkin, editorial page director of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, wrote about Ohio's "raging brain drain."

But even as the state's economy decays, its big evangelical churches are thriving, and, with the tacit support of the national Republican Party, they have mobilized behind Issue 1. Preachers are exhorting flocks of thousands to vote their values in an election said to pit light against darkness. Ohio's gay citizens, a minority courted by no one, have been blindsided by the campaign against them. Many feel like they're under siege. Talk of moving to a friendlier state or country is widespread.

If passed, Issue 1 will force Ohio's cities and universities to stop offering domestic partner benefits, including health insurance. Right now, such benefits are offered by the city of Columbus, Ohio's Miami University, Ohio University and Ohio State University, the largest university in America. Cleveland Heights has a domestic partnership registry, and some Ohio public schools give gay employees family leave to care for ailing partners. Issue 1 would probably mean they could no longer do so. Because Ohio doesn't allow two-parent gay adoptions, Reeves had to go through a lengthy legal process to become Frannie and Charlies' legal co-parent. Her lawyer told her that if Issue 1 passes, her parental rights could be nullified.

The amendment's impact won't stop there. "Because the state can't create any legal status for unmarried couples, it's very possible that domestic-violence protection orders could no longer be used if there's a domestic violence situation with an unmarried couple," says Alan Melamed, an attorney and chairman of the anti-Issue 1 group Ohioans Protecting the Constitution. Private companies can continue to offer domestic partner benefits, he adds, but "if the employee feels that those benefits were being improperly denied, an employee won't be able to go to court and enforce those benefits."

Issue 1 is only two sentences long, but there's a world of uncertainty in it. While the first sentence simply decrees that marriage is between a man and a woman, the second says, "This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage."

And here are the reasons for this push given by two leaders of the movement in Ohio.

Burress began thinking about the specter of gay matrimony in 1995, when a friend in Honolulu warned him that the same-sex marriage fight that had erupted there could spread to the mainland. In January of 1996, he called a meeting of about 25 national "pro-family" activists in Memphis, Tenn., to discuss strategy. Today, he makes no apologies for wanting to eliminate domestic partnership benefits as well as marriage rights for gay couples. "Ohio State and Miami University, Columbus and Cleveland Heights are all taxpayer-funded institutions," he says. "They're using taxpayer money and giving out the benefits of marriage when they have no right to do so."

Bauer, a close associate of Burress', also says the goal of the movement is to ban legal benefits for same-sex couples. "I think that you really haven't accomplished much if you say marriage is between a man and a woman and then you go down the road of giving to some other combination of individuals all of the rights that accrue to marriage, like filing a joint state tax return," he says. "All you've done then is play a word game with the electorate."

Well, yes; civilized people were trying to throw you a semantic bone. If your church doesn't want to marry gay people, that's fine by me. I'll marry them, feeling just as justified in doing so as you feel justified in refusing. I'm a ULC minister, and having taken five minutes to sign up on line, feel I'm easily as qualified for the job as you. More so, really; I'm neither a bigot nor an idiot.

No, the words you use indicate that you feel that "Traditional Family Marriage" is actually an institution that should thrive at the expense of all other forms of marriage and that you, and people that you approve of should be the only people who get to decide that. What breathtaking presumption, Sir!

So - who's next? Jewish marriages? Hindu marriages? What about people who live together for reasons of companionship and who wish to have mechanisms in place to validate their relationship, which, while not marriage, is significant? Who are you to meddle in their private financial affairs?

But I suppose any argument from reason will go unheard. Let's try a Biblical tack.

The marriage ceremonial that I am most familiar with includes these words; "Whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder."

Are you God?

Didn't think so.

Marriage is a sacrament that recognizes formally a state that should already exist - theologically. It doesn't create a bond; it blesses that bond.

Legally, it's the same, it's merely paperwork that establishes a publicly stated relationship and a legal commitment to that continued association, in order to recognize a voluntary, collective entity.

Or in other words, any marriage by anyone to anyone, or any domestic partnership agreement to anyone by anyone for any reason, including, but not exclusive of hot sex you consider personally uninteresting has absolutely no effect whatsoever upon your marriage.




Nor does it in any way affect the view of marriage you hold religiously. It will stand and fall, as it should, on it's own merits, determined largely by how humanly practical it is and equally importantly, what your faith community does that would tend to positively reinforce marriages within your community.

Now, yes, some gay activists, and some non-gay activists of the libertarian persuasion, such as myself have indeed questioned the validity of there being any special legal recognition for a religious sacrament, and point out that while some religious definitions marriage are indeed between man and woman, the Constitution offers equal protection to all. There's no "except faggots" clause - and indeed, the entire tone of the Constitution precludes such a clause ever being legitimately attached to it, for the best of all reasons; each such exception would be a crack in the fundamental fabric of our society.

One can also argue that the Traditional Marriage you advocate bears no resemblance to the extended families and clans of the Bible, and offers none of the benefits of those social arrangements. It's a pale substitute at best, even with the legal recognitions, for those recognitions are largely exclusive to husband, wife and children; leaving recognition of extended family up to the whim of social workers and judges. Goodness, Biblical family units included multiple wives - and it made good sense at the time; still does in many parts of the world. The Bible is silent on that, probably due to the fact that one doesn't waste ink on the obvious.

Nor can the argument that a majority wish to restrict the rights of a minority be used as justification for such restrictions; the Founders were quite specific in their intent to forestall such an intemperance of pure democracy by mobs inflamed by lying demagogues. This is why we have a Constitutional Republic.

One of the great strengths of this nation is its tolerance of difference and long standing tradition of scorning those who would meddle in the lives and private matters of others.

But there has always been a counter-tradition of those who believe that their conspicuous, self-revealed piety entitles them to determine the moral worth of others, and impose whatever restrictions upon them that matches the whim of the moment.

It's always a singular flaw, there's no comprehensive talk of morality, nor any need for such bluenosed blatherers to exhibit any evidence that their prayers in the square command any attention. Their entire focus is on the speck in their brother's eye, whether it be a perceived "sin" of witchcraft, of drunkenness, of polygamy, of "the love that dare not speak it's name."

Well, hatred is a terrible thing to teach a child; it taints and poisons their entire life. And Jesus said nothing that can be twisted into approval for such behavior, leaving such folks to scrabble at the afterthoughts of St. Paul and Augustine, as if the term "inspiration" conveyed with it the full insight into the full sweep of reality that the Divine must presumably possess.

Inspired as one may be, one is an inspired human with limits to the degree of inspiration that is possible.

But there are indeed biblical texts that are clear and direct to this point. Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor. There are no conditions on that. He didn't say "love those that walk in My footsteps," further saying that "On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets." Love God; Love your neighbor. Not your heterosexual neighbor. Not your co-religionist neighbor. Not your sober, reliable, morally upright practicing Jewish neighbor who's fringes reach his knees and who's daughters shine brightly of chaste virtue.

Your neighbor lives in the Castro and in the trailer park, as well as next door in your gated mental community.

Love does not limit, nor does it teach with fear. Fear, to be blunt, is the preferred tool of Evil.

If you think your institution of marriage is so perfect, go and make it a shining example. That is the direct mandate given in the Bible; to teach by example. Let your actions be the fulfillment of your words. If it works as well as you say, there will be a stampede of eager converts to your view.

But the red-state divorce rate is actually higher than that of the places where us "godless" folk prefer to live. Was that not enough to give pause, the fact that you feel the need to give artificial legal advantage to your vision, and your vision alone speaks volumes about your doubt in the essential validity of your religion and the values it teaches.

And you are right to doubt. Your values stink on ice, and had I the right to speak to it, I'd outlaw them, for the evident and demonstrable harm they do. You arrogate moral authority to yourself, yet show contempt for everything Jesus taught; in chief using "tolerance," "liberality" and "diversity" as curses.

I, however, feel that you have the right to make mistakes on your own behalf with consenting adults, and grudgingly allow that must also apply to the children you raise as best as can be expected under the circumstances.

But don't expect me to support you in your foolishness, or remain silent in the face of what I see as willful, arrogant, malicious evil.



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