Monday, December 31, 2007

Bush must be ON drugs to appoint this Drug Warrier...

AlterNet: Drug Warrior's Shadow Looms Over California's Pot Clubs:

The appointment has many in California's medical-marijuana community wondering if Russoniello would intensify the crackdown on the state's cannabis clinics. As federal prosecutor for the Northern District from 1982 to 1990, he was a cofounder of the CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Planting) program, an annual series of paramilitary federal-state raids on pot farmers and their neighbors. He also accompanied Nancy Reagan to the Oakland elementary school where she first intoned her anti-drug mantra, "Just say no," in 1984.

Russoniello fitted in well with the Reagan administration's crime policies, which switched enforcement priorities from white-collar crime to drug offenses. (In fact, Rudolph Giuliani, then the third-ranking Justice Department official, interviewed him for the job.) The Reagan "war on drugs" whacked marijuana farmers and small-time black crack dealers with five-year mandatory minimums and intensified forfeiture laws so that someone caught copping $50 worth of dope could have their car confiscated. In a 1994 interview with Smoke and Mirrors author Dan Baum, Russoniello recalled that he was happy that the department was going to get tough on drug users as well as on dealers; that he believed drug treatment was a government-sponsored crutch, that methadone maintenance merely prolonged addicts' dependence; and that the widespread pot farming in Northern California was like "an open wound on our prayer hand."



Oh, well that sure as hell flushes California's electoral votes down the toilet for any Republican OTHER than Ron Paul. And probably Oregon, Washington and maybe more than half of Nevada.

All these years and I am still being amazed by Bush's amazing political tone-deafness.

Or doesn't he realize just how much small grower "pot money" is going to go to Democrats, statewide, at all levels?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Former CIA: Evidence Abounds for Impeachment of Bush & Cheney

clipped from www.fosters.com
The evidence for impeachment of the president and vice president is overwhelming, former CIA analyst and daily presidential briefer Ray McGovern told a room full of people at the Portsmouth Public Library
McGovern, who provided daily briefings for former presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush as well as other high ranking officials during his 27 year CIA career, said he has witnessed a "prostitution of his profession" as the Bush administration lied to the American people about the evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
"Don't let anyone tell you the President was deceived by false intelligence ... they knew," McGovern said
For the next 40 minutes, he relayed a series of events leading up to 9/11 which illustrate the President's desire to go to war with Iraq well before 9-11, that reliable CIA evidence showed that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction and was presented to the administration and the "facts were fixed" in order to legitimize the invasion
Picture

Veteran CIA

 blog it
The recent report detailing Iran's stopping its nuclear weapons program four years ago, is an example of how the administration knows it can no longer hide such "incontrovertible evidence" from the American people in the fallout from the misinformation they received on the Iraq War, McGovern said. He added that he had almost given up believing their were people still working at the top with a conscious and enough people at the top willing to let analysts do their job and accept independent analysis.

McGovern also addressed the reasoning he believes is behind the threat of war with Iran. He believes Israel thinks they have a pledge from the White House to deal with Iran before Bush leaves office and relayed the story of the U.S.S. Liberty, which was attacked by the Israelis in 1967 and covered up by the U.S. Thirty-four U.S soldiers were killed and about 170 were seriously injured.

"On June 8, 1967 Israel realized it could literally get away with murder," McGovern said.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ron Paul - Right though he is, still more correct than not.

Of course, Ron Paul wants to cut off ALL foreign aid - and he makes a compelling case as to why supporting dictators and "the lesser of two evils" is an inherently bad idea that ultimately sabotages our national interest.

The problem is, we have been blessed with leadership over the last several decades that have been increasingly enamored of poking foreigners with sharp sticks in order to gain domestic support.

The founders - having had all of European history involving The Sport of Kings and various pseudo-religious wars, intended a policy of non-intervention in the affairs of others, backed up with a rattlesnake's response to being trod upon. Paul points out to NEIL CAVUTO that we can hardly afford the logical consequences of continuing this policy. Niel apparently knew better than to argue against the obvious.

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Bob Altemeyer's "The Authoritarians"

I'm devouring this book, and the footnotes are as tasty and entertaining (in a dark, horrifying, goddamit, I TOLD you so sort of way) as the text itself. While this is obviously mandatory socio-political ammunition for democrats and leftists, it's far, far more vital for Centrists, Independents, Libertarians and traditional Conservatives to read and understand.

Bob Altemeyer's - The Authoritarians Chapter 6 Authoritarianism and Politics chapter6.pdf

10 On September 20, 2006 an independent Congressional-watch organization called
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released its second annual “Most
Corrupt Members of Congress Report.” Three senators and seventeen members of the
House were named, most of them hold-overs from the first annual report (although the
news release noted with some glee that two of the previous winners were already on
their way to jail).

I found it instructive to look up the ratings these 20 lawmakers' voting records
received from the Family Research Council, the successor to the Christian Coalition
as the major lobbying organization for the Religious Right. The average was 80%.
Eight of the “most corrupt” had perfect 100% endorsements from the Family Research
Council. The lowest score was a 64% posted by the Democratic Representative Alan
Mollohan from West Virginia. (Seventeen of the twenty “most corrupt” were
Republicans.)

To be sure, many other lawmakers who got high scores from the Family
Research Council did not get named as most corrupt. But I think I read somewhere
that there’s this interesting connection between being a lying, dishonest, amoral
manipulator and becoming a leader of right-wing political/religious movements.
Back to Chapter

And then there's footnote seven, which I absolutely must highlight, with a link to John Dean's book, Conservatives without Conscience, which is referenced here.


7 If anyone ought to be interested in understanding authoritarianism, it’s the
mainstream conservatives who used to form and control the Republican Party. They
have seen their political party hijacked by the most radical element in their party, and
it’s anybody’s guess whether they can get it back. The takeover has been so complete
that many people have forgotten what “conservative” meant before it became
“authoritarian.” I don’t look forward to “conservative” becoming a dirty word the way
“liberal” did. Until we find someone who’s always right, democracy needs both
traditional and progressive voices to choose from. But the principled conservative
options have been badly tarred lately by authoritarianism.
I can’t imagine Senator Barry Goldwater agreeing with, “Our country
desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the
radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.”As John Dean points out,
Goldwater was quite apprehensive about what the “cultural conservatives” would do
to the Grand Old Party. “Mark my word,” the former senator said after the 1994 midterm
election, “if and when these preachers get control of the party, and they’re sure
trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten
me.” (Conservatives Without Conscience, p. xxxiv.)


I should also direct you to a particular post about the book - because of the hilariously ironic "criticism" of Dean's book by people who are clearly RWA's who MUST argue the premise - but cannot even seriously consider it deeply enough to argue, as it would require confronting their own demons. Almost literally.

Mr. Terence J. Nugent says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Hide post again.]
This book'spremise is the most absurd yet. He implies tha the Bush Administration fuels terror to preserve and expand quasi-dictatorial powers. In that case, it called an aisrike in on its own position on 9/11, as the White House was targeted. Perhaps Dean is on the jihadi payroll, as this is absurd as the anti-Zionist theory that the Isaelis did it.

As if this wasn't enought o prevent anyone of siound mind from spending their hard earned money on this abomination, the intellectual bankruptcy of his argument is absolutely appalling. It is axiomatic that left wing and right wing authoritarianisms are mirror images. Left and right traverse a circle that meets at dictatorship. Dean has evidently forgotten the communist authoritarian regimes of Joseph Stalin, Mau Tse Tung et. al. For a domestic example of quasi-liberal authoritarianism exhibit A is the Deomocratic dictatoship in the city of Chicago, and the County of Cook. Of course there is othing more authoitarian than jihadis, who we are trying to fight despite internal resistance from thelikes of Dean.

John Dean was driven mad by Watergate and has since become a pawn of the left, just as he was a pawn of the right during Watergate. He was then, and is now, a dangerously misguided man who would not recognize intellectual honesty if it became incarnate before his blinded eyes.
This is exactly the sort of response, of course, that Bob Altemeyer's research would suggest to be inevitable. And it's certainly exactly the sort of mindless personal attack I've come to expect from those who wish to disagree with an ethical critique, but cannot without defending the indefensible.

And of course, that means that you lose the debate - in rational circles.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Authoritarians

Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians:
"OK, what’s this book about? It’s about what’s happened to the American government lately. It’s about the disastrous decisions that government has made. It’s about the corruption that rotted the Congress. It’s about how traditional conservatism has nearly been destroyed by authoritarianism. It’s about how the “Religious Right” teamed up with amoral authoritarian leaders to push its un-democratic agenda onto the country. It’s about the United States standing at the crossroads as the next federal election approaches.

“Well,” you might be thinking, “I don’t believe any of this is true.” Or maybe you’re thinking, “What else is new? I’ve believed this for years.” Why should a conservative, moderate, or liberal bother with this book? Why should any Republican, Independent, or Democrat click the “Introduction” link on this page?

Because if you do, you’ll begin an easy-ride journey through some relevant scientific studies I have done on authoritarian personalities--one that will take you a heck of a lot less time than the decades it took me. Those studies have a direct bearing on all the topics mentioned above. So if you think the first paragraph is a lot of hokum, or full of half-truths, I invite you to look at the research."


Bob Altemeyer has been good enough to share the fruits of his labor of years with everyone, for free. (If you don't like screen reading, though, he's got a bound version available for a rather modest $9.95 via Lulu.com.)

We shall probably always have individuals lurking among us who yearn to play
tyrant. Some of them will be dumber than two bags of broken hammers, and some will
be very bright. Many will start so far down in society that they have little chance of
amassing power; others will have easy access to money and influence all their lives.
On the national scene some will be frustrated by prosperity, internal tranquility, and
international peace--all of which significantly dim the prospects for a demagogue
-in-waiting. Others will benefit from historical crises that automatically drop increased
power into a leader’s lap. But ultimately, in a democracy, a wannabe tyrant is just a
comical figure on a soapbox unless a huge wave of supporters lifts him to high office.
That’s how Adolf Hitler destroyed the Wiemar Republic and became the Fuhrer. So
we need to understand the people out there doing the wave. Ultimately the problem
lay in the followers.

The sum of his book is that Authoritarian Personality Disorder is a greater threat to us than the Iraq War, terrorism, the lack of health care and a tanking economy, for all these things are in fact the result of mindlessly following those who lead cynically, mindlessly and abusively, while pandering to the worst of all common denominators.

Spiritual Deceptions - My first GraphicTruth.



`Gospel of wealth' facing scrutiny - Yahoo! News Annotated


The message flickered into Cindy Fleenor's living room each night: Be faithful in how you live and how you give, the television preachers said, and God will shower you with material riches.

And so the 53-year-old accountant from the Tampa, Fla., area pledged $500 a year to Joyce Meyer, the evangelist whose frank talk about recovering from childhood sexual abuse was so inspirational. She wrote checks to flamboyant faith healer Benny Hinnand a local preacher-made-good, Paula White.

Only the blessings didn't come. Fleenor ended up borrowing money from friends and payday loan companies just to buy groceries. At first she believed the explanation given on television: Her faith wasn't strong enough.

By their fruits you will know them.
  • There isn't any reason why a Christian can't be prosperous, of course, but there's nothing in the Bible - or any other spiritual text - that highlights wealth as a special and particular blessing of faith.

    As for those preachers who are enjoying the fruits of their ministry to the extent of living lavish lifestyles and hob-nobbing with presidents and powerful business leaders who love to think that their aquissitive nature is a spiritual gift - "Behold, they have their reward."

    - post by graphictruth

The probe by Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has brought new scrutiny to the underlying belief that brings in millions of dollars and fills churches from Atlanta to Los Angeles — the "Gospel of Prosperity," or the notion that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches.

This story is very personal to me - and the connection to Oral Roberts is direct.

You see, my mother - a religious addict by any reasonable use of the term - was much taken with Oral Robert's ministry, back when I was ten or twelve, and on days when she didn't feel up to driving the thirty-odd miles it would take to get us to church, she'd watch his show.

And usually, she'd stuff whatever "love offering" he requested for whatever trinket he was selling that day.

Now, our usual church was Episcopal. Being a dutiful and very aspy child, I took my mother's obvious wish that I become "saved" and conversant with the words and works of Jesus very seriously indeed. And as it happened, that church had a very advanced Sunday school, where we really got our teeth into the word, and chewed it with the help of concordances, interlinear bibles, and various translations. I had my own Amplified Bible, which I found very useful.

To make a long story short, I was quite the little deacon at that point, although I had by that time also learned that in regards to my parents, "hiding my light under a bushel" was by far the best course.

However, when Oral Roberts pulled a "prayer cloth" with his holy blessed hand-print upon it, stated that he'd personally prayed over each and every one of these objects, and because of that, they would by some twisted transubstantiation personally connect him to you via the Holy Idiot Box if you placed your hand over his as he prayed with his own hand raised on Teevee...

Well, this little deacon exploded, and while I didn't speak in tongues - as mother really thought any believer should - for once I did not hold it. Nor was it a "word of knowledge." You don't need that when scriptural first principles are being raped before your eyes.

I pointed out that it was idolatry - both of an object and a man, and as graphic an example of a man placing himself before God, as a god-substitute as you would ever see. It still angers me to this day, that a man professing to be a Christian minister could not even get through the FIRST commandment without pissing all over it.

I say that deliberately, as a graphic and visceral illustration of the clear and mindful insult to both his followers and to the God he pretended to serve.

I was actually rather surprised the roof didn't fall in on him right then. It took a few more years, and the "fall" was metaphorical, but rather satisfying, nonetheless.

But in any case, that one time my mother listened to me and did not actually put twenty bucks in an envelope. But it didn't keep her from sending it off to Bob Schuller. Indeed, she sent hundreds, if not thousands to him. One Christmas, my major gift was a window in the Chrystal Cathedral.

Imagine my joy.



As far as I'm concerned, nothing says "transparent fraud" better than the Crystal cathedral. Although these days it's far from the worst such church. Rev. Bob Schuller was a sincere advocate of an inoffensive ministry that was based more on his blandly optimistic self-help pep-talks than on the Bible.

It was a dose of weekly feelgood that came with no strings of personal obligation, other than to buy his books and be optimistic - and all you needed to do in order to progress spiritually was just that - buy his books and be optimistic.

It wasn't nearly as offensive as the "name it - claim it" theology of Oral Roberts, and that is what my mother fell back into later on.

And just like the bitter woman in this article, my mother ended up bitter and unfulfilled, having sacrificed pretty much everything in a futile quest for sanctity and moral superiority without doing the heavy lifting involved involved in discerning Right Action.

Yes, I am informed by other religious traditions. As should you be, if you are moved toward a quest for spiritual insight. If you merely wish to belong to a church that offers a community of belief at a reasonable price, and puts some effort into doing a good job of it, though, I would recommend either a Catholic or Anglican Communion congregation, depending upon your need for governing authorities.

The important thing in my mind is that neither faith is one that encourages self-righteousness and self-involvement to the same degree as the evangelical, "prosperity gospel" mega-churches.

And that, of course, brings us back into the secular world. Indeed, since we are speaking of Oral Roberts and his Mega-church legacy of sanctified greed and the elevation of
moralism
over actual moral virtue, we have never left the secular realm!

If you have not yet grasped the thrust of my words, let me be blunt - I consider none of these televangelists, with their politicalmaneuverings and highly profitable enterprises to be anything other than entirely secular con-men, or, for the very best of a bad lot, no better than any other motivational speaker.

But the worst of them - Benny Hinn leaps to mind - are fully in the tradition of Marjoe Gortner and P.T. Barnum, but blessed with even less conscience than either of those.

Now, I have studied the Bible from front to back and back to front over the years, searching for the context and intent of the words of Christ. For the most part, I consider what I've learned to be highly personal, and not at all something I feel either comfortable or qualified to preach toward - though it would be easy to argue that my scruples are rather unusual in that regard.

One truth is obvious enough to me to share with you in context. In the times of Jesus, sheep were a vital part of the economy, and nobody could possibly have missed the subtext of Christ saying to his Disciples, "feed my sheep."

It's not a complementary metaphor. There are few animals that make a collie or Irish setter seem bright in comparison, and sheep are at the top of the list. They have been bred over thousands and thousands of years to be meek, inoffensive, biddable, stupid creatures who are incapable of finding food for themselves. They NEED to be "led to green pastures" and "to lie beside still waters."

So when Christ said "feed my sheep," nobody thought it was anything other than a thankless chore involving inherently stupid creatures who needed to gently and compassionately cared for. Jesus cared about his stupid, bleating, sheep like followers, who could as easily be led to war against the Romans as "beside the still waters."

What he did NOT say was "fleece my sheep." And that is what these mega-churches do, with their for profit banks that will helpfully accept direct deposits from your place of work and deduct a thirty percent tithe.

Oh yes. Thirty percent. Some actually take that much.

Tax free, for them. Not for you, of course. Since even if you are able to deduct all the thirty percent, you will still be paying the differential on property and other municipal taxes to allow for that corporate monstrosity.

That's not just fleecing the sheep, it's skinning them alive, and then slaughtering their lambs in front of their bleeding, soon to be corpses.

That metaphor applies to the Evangelically sanctified "war on terror."

Meanwhile, these massive edifices exist without paying property tax or any other fees to the "godless" community they take advantage of, even though the impact is similar to a large stadium in terms of traffic and environmental impact.

All of this is in return for a promise that you will get into heaven eventually, and meanwhile, due to your faith, deserve all kinds of rewards in the here and now.

Some of these churches actually take a step toward making that happen, with an entire "grey" economy wherein all the members essentially agree to do business only with other members of that church - so an illusion of prosperity, and even perhaps a little actual prosperity may occur - but of course, only for a few, who are held up as exemplars of Christian virtue, even though scandal after scandal seems to reveal intentional patterns of fraud, abuse and the worst sorts of sexual and political corruption.

I think we have all suffered enough at the hands of such "virtuous" Christian shepherds, and shoveled all the crap left behind them that we need to grasp the point that they cannot be trusted with the lives and prosperity of those foolish enough to take them at their word. We need to "shake the dust from our feet."

Matthew, Chapter Ten is pretty much the definitive instruction set and doctrinal basis for Evangelism. Inasmuch as it contradicts just about everything mega church, prosperity gospel "evangelists" say and do, you can, and SHOULD take it as Gospel.

After all, it IS Gospel. Believe it, or do not, but if you believe the Bible is true, then you must admit that such creatures are false to the core - and how much more obviously true this must be if you consider the gospels to be a variety of fable.

And as this "prosperity gospel" with it's emotional and authoritarian appeals are so deeply entwined with our current administration and it's political appointees that there is effectively no difference, I suggest that no distinction need be made. We should impeach and convict the lot of them. The righteous need to retake the churches, while those who believe in ethical, constitutional, professional and accountable leadership must retake all three branches of government.

Please do what you can to encourage Sen. Grassley toward Right Action in this regard, that in service to this action of cleansing our body politic of the pernicious influence of corrupt and deceptive churches, he should become a co-sponsor of Dennis Kucinich's Impeachment resolution, if he has not already.

After all, it's the same lot of corrupt bastards, all scratching each other's backs, swapping their private planes and fleecing the gullible sheep.

The goats need to take back their flocks.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Best Political Blog Posts of 2007 | Jon Swift

Witty and skilled political blogger Jon Swift collects the best posts from bloggers on his blogroll. The resulting collection of blog posts reads like a top 50 political blog posts of the year. And Your Humble Scribe is among them, with "Bad Cop, No Doughnut."

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A Dispatch from Second Life

A delightfully sarcastic little video...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Having just Re-Read The Tao, I become Yodafied.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?


Today, I found it important to remind myself of the Tao.

8

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.

In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don't try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.

When you are content to be simply yourself
and don't compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.



Then I stumbled across a silly blogmeme, and found that in reading the Tao, I had become Yodified.

A venerated sage with vast power and knowledge, you gently guide forces around you while serving as a champion of the light.

Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not - for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, and binds us. Luminescent beings are we, not this crude matter! You must feel the Force around you, everywhere.

Yoda is a is a character in the Star Wars universe. More Yoda information is available at the Star Wars Databank.


Finding my great thoughts mirrored in the mundane and trivial, I feel validated in a zen kinda way.

Madison Avenue has been Automated

generated by sloganizer.net


Sloganizer.net - Instant slogans with our slogan generator.:

The magic of the internet strikes again:

In days of yore, large firms on Madison Avenue used to actually pay people to sit around tables and "brainstorm" slogans such as this program generates randomly, no doubt using some simple table lookup system. Now, such simple tools have been available to even the half-bright since the first PET computer appeared on the market, but of course, one would traditionally secrete a printout of the best slogans in one's briefcase before the client meeting.

Nobody ever imagined a day when such tools might come to the awareness of the client! Horrors! Sacrelidge! The End of the Gravy Train! I mean, how can a wealthy public awareness firm provide it's staff with Eames chairs and Gucchi briefcases when it must compete with slogans of this quality - slogans you may actually recognize from cereal boxes, computer products and even maxipads.

«Graphictruth - be ready.»
«The Power of Graphictruth.»
«Graphictruth for you!»
«Graphictruth - to feel free!»
«Graphictruth is what the world was waiting for.»

Their next logical offering is a Logo Generator that will create a selection of cutting edge corporate definitions from any scanned image - like a coffee stain, an ink blot or a photocopy made of a drunken executive secretary's buttocks at the last corporate Christmas party.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

The Official Graphictruth Unendorsement of Ron Paul

The War on Religion by Rep. Ron Paul: "The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance. Throughout our nation’s history, churches have done what no government can ever do, namely teach morality and civility. Moral and civil individuals are largely governed by their own sense of right and wrong, and hence have little need for external government. This is the real reason the collectivist Left hates religion: Churches as institutions compete with the state for the people’s allegiance, and many devout people put their faith in God before their faith in the state. Knowing this, the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage. Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war."

I think Ron Paul needs the blessing of being on the short end of those taught "morality and civility" by Christian churches. I grew up in a town where there were as many churches as taverns - and there were a LOT of taverns. If the one thing didn't justify a particular flavor of abusive crap, well, the other was there to fill in for it.

As much as I personally benefited from the civility that is undoubtedly well-taught by the Episcopal Church, "morality" and "conformity" were pretty much interchangeable concepts. While some in that church were unquestionably both moral and ethical persons, I would say that at least half were there because it was "the right church" to belong to, if you were "the right sort of person."

It was no different with the Catholics, the Baptists, the Lutherans and the various Evangelical and Pentecostal churches.

Later on, as I came to deal with multiples and abuse survivors and as everyone started comparing notes; there was hardly a one of us where religion had not played a huge role in our abuse - especially the "keeping silence" part. The worse the abuse, the more rigid the facade, the taller the "pillar of the community."

There is a certain sort of person that builds such a facade for the sole purpose of keeping their particular brand of evil out of the public eye, while maintaining a secure hold on their access to victims.

And then, of course, the scandals started to happen as one by one, abused persons gained courage from one another (via the Internet, I suspect) and started disclosing. The Catholic Church has been hit hardest, but none have been immune. And there is one common thread - the idea of unaccountable, unquestionable "moral" authority.

I'm sorry, but if you simply wish to shove government out of the way of theocratic dominion, you and I must have words, Sir, for I've seen to what degree these people can be trusted, these people who wish to rule without the inconvenience of laws and customs that would permit escape from their clutches.

We have only just managed to break their stranglehold of conformity and moralism, just managed to pry their fingers from our throats, and we have just now started to speak seriously of the damage that has been done and how to proceed from here. We continue to fight those who would brand our rebellion and our individuality as evil, we resist those who would cheerfully rally the mobs - and those who would gladly sacrifice their own children upon the altar of Church and Conformity.

I've come by my anti authoritarian views honestly and by a very hard row. I trust none who hold themselves unaccountable, and who rely on religious doctrine and custom to justify their desire to dominate, control and exploit others, while I hold those who bow to and blindly trust Authority as being superior to their own conscience and more reliable than their own eyes.

I have nothing against faith - my faith has kept me alive when by all rights I should not have survived. What I take issue with is social engineering and ritually enforced cultural conformity - and that is all that Christmas has been for the last hundred years or so in these United States; a pastiche of semi-religious, semi-pagan cultural myths which amount to a shared cultural tradition. It is not a matter of faith, or a matter of true religion - it's merely a way of governing the lives of others without being accountable to an electorate or subject to the strictures of Constitution or law. And if it's somewhat benign on the surface, and behind closed doors in many cases, possibly even most - for the sake of those whom the facade is a prison, it must become both optional and transparent.

You, Ron Paul, should damn well know better, working as you do in such a den of vipers, knowing full well the distinction between the substance and the facade it conceals. There's a reason why there IS a constitution - and it's to trump those who would rule by Church, by Fiat and by Tradition.

Up to now, you have said all the right things to impress me. But it seems that as I cast about, you say quite different things to different audiences - and the whole speaks to me of a man who confuses conformity to social norms with morality, and would might well pander to shibboleths, rather than dealing with the scientifically described reality that presidents must - lest they be compared to George Bush.

And it seems to me that when doing the right thing and deference to authority come into conflict, you disappoint me. The fact that you contradicted your own position on the need to impeach Cheney means I must question your motives and alliances. The Largest Minority asks "Why did Ron Paul vote against Impeachment?"

I would like to urge all first-time pro-Paul visitors to my leftist pinko blog to please save all reactionary hate mail until after you’ve actually read what I have to say. Paul’s vote to table the impeachment resolution, then to refer it to committee is especially troubling coming from a supposed consitutionalist. He voted with the Democratic leadership on both accounts.
...

Perhaps even more confusing is this interview from the far-right website InfoWars from March:

Paul said that Bush should be impeached not under the umbrella of partisan vengeance but for ceaselessly breaking the laws of the land.

“I would have trouble arguing that he’s been a Constitutional President and once you violate the Constitution and be proven to do that I think these people should be removed from office.”

Opining that the U.S. had entered a period of “soft fascism,” Paul noted that the legacy of the Bush administration has been the total abandonment of Constitutional principles.

.. Ron Paul’s commitment to the constitution was tested yesterday, and it unfortunately fell short of our expectations. It’s contradictory to say there isn’t sufficient evidence to warrant an impeachment against the very same people you say are violating the constitution. Impeachment isn’t just an option, it’s an obligation. There’s no glory in defending the indefensible, and Paul’s vote was just that. I urge his supporters to contact Paul about his vote. Tell him to vote in favor of impeachment the next time Kucinich brings it back to the floor. And liberals, don’t forget to do the same with your representatives.


I'm not going to bother doing that. I'll be voting for Kucinich. Whoever gets the official nod.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Diebold - No Longer Found in your Ethical Fund...

The BRAD BLOG : Diebold Now Also Under DoJ Investigation as Stock Price Hits FIVE-YEAR Low!:

The BRAD BLOG, of course, originally reported on the SEC's investigation into Diebold's book-keeping chicanery back in May of 2006, just a few months after our first exclusive report, based on information from a company insider we dubbed DIEB-THROAT, preceded a 20% stock-price plunge just days afterward.

At the time, back in late September 2005, the stock price plunged to a 52-week low of about $44.37/share (which we're sure they'd kill for now --- not that we wish to give them any ideas) and DIEB-THROAT told us in response to the related news: "the last time this kind of deception occurred it was called Enron."

Then came a class action securities fraud suit against the company in December 2005, as first broken by The BRAD BLOG natch, before the parallel SEC investigation first became public.

Since then, following one independent study after another after another after another, finding their electronic voting systems to be virus-prone, hackable, unreliable and inaccurate, the company finally dumped it's controversial CEO who had infamously promised in a Republican fundraising letter that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to" George W. Bush in 2004, before attempting again to fool the American public by renaming its election division "Premiere Elections Solutions" (same pig, fresh lipstick), just after stock prices plummeted again in August of this year to $47.60 as The BRAD BLOG noticed what appeared to us, and at least one financial analyst, to be possible insider trading among a number of company officials.

Prices have continued to fall ever since --- a lucky coincidence, no doubt, for those executives who just happened to unload a bunch of stock near the year's high at $53.05 - to today's 5-year low of $29.20.


Hm. Tell me again how blogging is unimportant and won't make any difference?

The really really nifty thing about blogs - pay attention here, O, my conservative dead tree colleagues - is that you can never disavow anything you've said in a blog. Which is great, if you don't spew irrelevant propaganda intended for this "news cycle" and this "news cycle" alone. A blog post persists, unlike a newspaper, which will soon be lining a bird cage or wrapping a fish.

So, a good blog post is forever - just like excruciatingly stupid blog posts. And any time anyone searches for something related to the topic - up it pops. Making a difference, in someone's opinion or factual universe. You would think that a blog post would be more ephemeral than newspaper, radio or television - but while all those things can be stored and recorded - it probably won't happen unless someone is impressed enough to blog it, youtube it or burn it to an MP3.

The Internet. Kinda like "MSM - The Good Parts Version."

Note to KBR



So, have you been getting much play from the various "ethical funds" lately?

You know, sometimes the Right thing to do is to actually do the right thing. Seems to me, with all the loopholes and exceptions and waivers to US Law you begged, bribed and engineered from Bush, you could have just taken the rapists out into the public square, hung them by the testicles, and then after an hour, shot them behind the left ear.

This would have played well in Iraq. Especially if it was a consistent policy.

But no, you use the "get out of jail free card" to empower your staff rapists and murderers, instead of behaving like good, God-Fearing Christian Crusaders.

Bumperstickers. I Digg Bumperstickers.


From digg , referencing this item
which references this photo:


by jeliel on 11/02/2007
Why the burials, the 127.0.0.1 was truly EPIC
-3 diggsBuryDigg
sgtbutterscotch by sgtbutterscotch on 11/02/2007
I feel dumb, what does that mean?

Being something of a geek myself, I will first digg this, and then stumble the whole.


Tucker Carlson slowly comes toward the Light.

Tucker Carlson writes in The New Republic:

The first thing I learned from driving around Nevada with Ron Paul for a couple of days: People really hate the Federal Reserve. This became clear midway through a speech Paul was giving to a group of Republicans at a community center in Pahrump, a dusty town about 60 miles west of Las Vegas. Pahrump is known for its legal brothels (Heidi Fleiss lives there), but most of the people in the audience looked more like ranchers than swingers. They stood five deep at the back of the room and listened politely as the candidate spoke.

Until Paul got to the part about the Fed. "We need a much better monetary system," he said, a system based on "sound money, money that's backed by something." Paul, who is small and delicate and has a high voice, spoke in a near monotone, making no effort to excite the audience. They cheered anyway. Then he said this: "The Constitution gives no authority for a central bank." The crowd went wild, or as wild as a group of sober Republicans can on a Monday night. They hooted and yelled and stomped their feet. Paul stopped speaking for a moment, his words drowned out. Then he continued on about monetary policy.

Wow, I thought. The constitutionality of a central bank is not an issue you see on many lists of voter concerns. (How many pollsters would think to ask about it? How many voters would understand the question?) Yet a room full of non-economists had just responded feverishly when Paul brought it up. Hoping for some context, I went outside and found a Paul staffer. He didn't sound surprised when I told him about the speech. "It's our biggest applause line," he said.

Our biggest applause line? There are two ways to interpret a fact like that: Either the Ron Paul movement is more sophisticated than most journalists understand, or a lot of Paul supporters are eccentric bordering on bonkers.



One gets the impression that at first Tucker didn't take Paul all that seriously, drawing the obvious conclusions from his obvious lack of charisma and his clear, but deliberately non-inspirational speaking style; "Obviously," the man is "not presidential timber."

Unfortunately, it's turned out that the MSM idea of "Presidential timber" is Cottonwood. Looks real stately, but there's damn little substance to it.

By the conclusion of the article, it appears that Tucker has grasped the essence of the Ron Paul phenomenon. He's the only candidate who will give you an honest answer to an honest question. You may not agree with him, but at least you know where he stands, and you know he's willing to risk the consequences of telling you something you don't want to hear.

On the other hand, "Cottonwood" Thompson's supporters are circulating this twaddle:

You might be a Fredhead if...

...you blame America last.

...you kinda like it when terrorists are made uncomfortable.

...you think that today's serious foreign policy issues will take more than hillbilly charm and naiveté to handle.

...you suspect the Iran might actually be up to something.

...you prefer movies where American troops are the good guys.

...you think a Senate majority leader who constantly tells us how things are doomed while a war is still ongoing needs a good bitch-slapping.

...you think it's great if a murderer finds God, but that doesn't mean he should be let out of prison.

...you think America's sovereignty is kinda important.

...you think anyone who talks about how the rich aren't "paying their fair share" is a whiny little Communist.

..."great hair" is low on your list of presidential requirements.

...you think someone didn't draw those border lines on a map just for fun.

...call you crazy, but you'd prefer a presidential candidate who actually shares your conservative views.

...you think it's time someone did something about the hippies.

...you'd like Osama bin Laden's next video to be him pleading, "Someone please help me!" before he's pummeled on screen by the U.S. president.


Well, THAT was substance free. But as the saying goes, "nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American People."

It's a emotional appeals to the "If you don't understand it, hit it with a crowbar" crowd. None of it tells us for sure what Thompson is for. Hell, if you think about it (the last thing candidates like Thompson or Clinton want), you realize it doesn't stay a hell of a lot about what he's actually against. But he's DOWN witcha in that redneck 'hood. And that, apparently, is what counts to the followers of "Cottonwood" Thompson.

Ron Paul supporters, on the other hand, while they may well have red necks come by honestly from riding a tractor, are not afraid of studying up a bit to try and understand what the hell their candidate is on about. They don't mind saying - "Austrian economics? What the HELL is Austrian economics? Why don't I just google that..."

And suddenly, there's the whole course load for Econ 301, introduction to free market economies. PLUS some.

These here "internet tubes" have achieved a libertarian dream: they have deregulated access to information. There is no restriction based on race, class, creed or economic standing. There is no "hidden knowledge" - once you have achieved the Gnosis of Google. I'm limited in my learning only by my education and intelligence - and if I can't change the latter, I can definitely add to the former. It's something I do every single day.

So, it's not all that surprising that a crowd of Ron Paul supporters can follow a lecture on Austrian Economics and a terse explianation of the problems with an unregulated and unsupervised central bank.

Aside from the political implications of a broadly educated and informed electorate, there are some incredible social ones, which I've addressed before and which seem to me to presage a time when hierarchal organization will seem terribly quaint, rather like Victorian Engineering, or feudalism.

In my humble opinion, the groundswell of Libertarianism comes from the realization that, whatever you think about the virtues and vices of government per se, the Internet is the basis for replacing a hierarchical, authoritarian government with a networked, non-hierarchical facility for co-ordinating those interested in being co-ordinated.

It's doing that already, brilliantly. I give you the Ron Paul Revolution as a conspicuous example of the phenomenon, and what can be achieved when it's used creatively by intelligent people.

Ron Paul supporters are those who expect people wanting to be placed in a position of authority to have something in their briefcase besides a sack lunch, and he speaks eloquently about re-establishing trust in two critical areas of proper governance - our money supply and the interlocked domains of foreign and trade policy.

It's indisputable when it comes to his favorite topics - money, taxation and the Constitution, Ron Paul is authoritative. He's even made a fed spokesperson cry.

Whether you agree with him or not, there is no question that you'd have to work real hard to credibly dispute economics or monetary policy with him. And he's got a long history of standing up for his beliefs in the face of obvious pressure and all kinds of profit.

That's appealing to the conscientiously liberal as well as studied, plain folks who try to vote their values.

Web Hosting Choice

If you do anything that's important to you on the web -such as serious blogging - you really need to consider what sort of host and hosting plan you need.

I personally could get by with a really low-end host. Or so I thought, until some jerk took exception to what I wrote and did a denial of service attack on my host - who kicked me. It turned out that according to them, I was responsible for the security on my little partition of one of their servers. Not only did I lose my site, I lost quite a lot of my work, and it was months before my site was back up to the traffic and ranking it had enjoyed previously. Cheap can be quite expensive.

Web Hosting Choice
[ http://www.webhostingchoice.com ] is a service that categorizes all the hosting plans and services they are aware of, so you can pick a host and plan based on your needs. They do a pretty good job of demystifying things, and calling your attention to things you may not have thought of. It will allow you to make a reasonable choice between hosting plans, by comparing feature to feature. If you are considering stepping up to your own host and domain, this is a good place to get started.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's The Ethics, Stupid!



This election is going to turn on ethics and values, and who the voters feel genuinely intends to do the right thing by us as a people and as a nation. Here are two indicators, and what I think they imply.

Paul credits anti-war stance for size of his war-chest

DES MOINES — GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul credited his stance against the war in Iraq for his hefty fund raising haul over the weekend when he raised more than $6 million in a single day.

“I believe the war has been the igniting factor to the campaign from day one,” Paul said.

Paul is drawing support from a demographic no other candidate has seriously tapped, to my knowledge - people who either have never voted, or were not intending to vote.

Paul supporter Jessica Borgnis of Des Moines came to see him Monday. Borgnis voted for George Bush in 2000, but said she became disillusioned after the country went to war.

“I switched my vote to a third-party candidate in 2004, and wasn’t going to vote this election year, and when I heard about Ron Paul, I just regained confidence in the system,” she said.

read more | digg story

But Paul's support does not come from nowhere and nothing. Frankly, "It's Karma, Baby." This story from Burnt Orange Report seems to underline the principle that "Cheaters never Prosper."

What Dan Barrett's Victory Means for Texas by: Matt Glazer

Dan Barrett's victory tonight has implications beyond better representation for Fort Worth residents. To relay its importance, we have to look at what brought us to this point.

In 2001, Republican's drew a map they thought would elect 102 R's and 48 D's. They were wrong as only 88 Republicans and 62 Democrats were elected in 2002. Still, it was a striking blow to Democrats as we had lost our majority, the Speakership, and control of the operation of the Texas House. That was a low point for Democrats in Texas as well as nationally. The result was the rise of the neo-conservative, uber Republican Tom Craddick who slashed the budget and cut social programs like CHIP and education funding. To this day that funding has never been restored even with surpluses in the state budget.

In 2006, Democrats won 6 seats plus Donna Howard's special election. In 2007 we welcomed Kirk England to the Democratic Party and now we have Dan Barrett as member of our caucus as well. We've not even yet had a single vote cast the 2008 primaries, and there are now 71 Democrats in Texas House- a stunning and speedy reversal based on the same map that was drawn to have only 42 Democratic seats.

A number of factors are no doubt at work, but I don't think we can dismiss principled outrage at the behavior of Tom Delay and Texas Republicans in so conspicuously and arrogantly gerrymandering the state. And then, well, there's everything a certain former Texas Governor has been up to since then. At some point, party allegiance becomes an embarrassment rather than a point of pride. I'm guessing that either Republicans have been staying home in droves, or they have been crossing party lines.

Here's something to note in reference to Ron Paul's campaign, and Kucinich's run for the Democratic nomination.)

In addition, Barrett was dramatically out spent. According to the 8 day out reports, Mark Shelton spent over $100,000 and raised (and presumably spent) another $10,000 from TexPAC before the election. Barrett on the other hand spent a little over $45,000 according to his 8 day report. Again, according to his telegram reports, raised an additional $4,000 in the final week of the election from Texas Parent PAC and two individuals.

Breaking it down, that means Barrett spent $9.13 per vote compared to about $23.40 per vote for Shelton.

Money doesn't seem to be talking as loud as it used to. I don't know how well Barrett used the Internet to gather attention, so it's hard to compare that aspect of his campaign to Ron Paul's, but it could well have been a significant passive factor.

Unlike the elections of my youth, where it was next to impossible to gather enough information for an average voter to make a decent choice, today a voter is just a Google away from everything a challenger wants them to know, and everything an incumbent hopes they have forgotten.

Somebody should do some polling on that.

But for the majority party to lose to an under-funded challenger in a district gerrymandered in that party's favor - that should be as close to an impossible as politics allows.

But then, losing at least half of the military vote that Republicans have come to rely on has got to sting. There's this Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll which is dissected here .

Nearly six out of every 10 military families disapprove of Bush's job performance and the way he has run the war, rating him only slightly better than the general population does.

And among those families with soldiers, sailors and Marines who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, 60% say that the war in Iraq was not worth the cost, the same result as all adults surveyed.
And then there are rumblings within the ranks of evangelical and conservative Christians. who seem to have finally noticed the wide gap between stated principles and evident actions. This may lead to some internal upheaval as well as a real problem for most Republican candidates except Ron Paul, who's gotten the most military donations of any candidate and is respected for his forthright Christianity, even if he's unwilling to legislate his morality.

All told, it's looking more and more like Paul's campaign has the potential, in terms of both actual and potential supporters, to go all the way to the finish line. Not a "spoiler" - as some would like to portray him - but as the logical, viable and popular choice for the Republican nomination, and win or lose, a far more significant stature within the party.

I'm sure that idea is making certain established Republican figures crap ice cubes. Moreover, imagine the funk sweat on K-Street. Lobbyists don't even bother knocking on his door any more. But here's the logical outcome of this; the big money has to go to the more "credible" candidates - that is to say, the ones willing to be bribed to bend the rules.

Clearly the "smart money" of that sort is backing a Guliani/Clinton match; a win/win proposition for K-Street and big business. But as we have seen, money doesn't seem to count for as much as it did, and it may even be that huge campaign chests and slick, triangulated, focus-grouped campaigns might be a net negative.

I personally think it is a negative, or at best a neutral, because neither campaign is going to be saying what voters want to hear. And meanwhile, they may well be doing direct political calculus of their own: Elect a solid Democratic majority to ensure Health Care (You don't need Hillary for that) - and Ron Paul to get us out of Iraq. Because for that, you need someone with the authority to say "wind it up and ship them home."

I'm not one to make bets or give odds, but I'm thinking a bet on a Democratic near-sweep of open seats in the House and Senate is far better than even odds, while the idea of Ron Paul becoming President is, while still a long shot, not at all inconceivable.

It's not so much Paul's race to win as it is for all the others to lose - but they all seem well-positioned for that outcome.

Illustration: It's The Ethics,Stupid!, by webcarve
Get this custom bumpersticker
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Orgasms for world peace-Friday

clipped from www.foxnews.com

Any way you scream it, one group hopes you'll be having an orgasm in the name of world peace this Friday at 6:08 GMT.

At the exact moment of the winter solstice, the world is urged to get busy at the second annual Global Orgasm for World Peace.

Click here to visit the Web site.

People across the world — but especially in countries with "weapons of mass destruction and places where violence is used in place of medication" — are being asked to synchronize their orgasms, according to the group's Web site.

This group session of sexual healing, aka The Big O, is designed to be an "instantaneous surge of human biological, mental and spirtual energy" that organizers hope will reduce levels of violence, hatred and fear around the world during this, the longest night of the year.

Global Orgasm is the brain child of Donna Sheehan and Paul Reffell, co-founders of the anti-war organization Baring Witness, a group of activists who strip to make public peace displays with their naked bodies.

 blog it
I predict a minor, but significant increase in global CO2 and smoke particulates about 6:10.

EPA refuses to allow California to set tougher standards.

clipped from www.news.com

EPA says 17 states can't set emission rules for cars

WASHINGTON--The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday denied California and 16 other states the right to set their own standards for carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles.
 blog it
This may well end up in the Supreme Court and, as a clear-cut "state's rights" issue, it should.

Aside from that principle, the move is widely seen as crony capitalism at it's worst, evidence of the politicization of environmental policy, and, of course, payola to the auto industry.

Indeed, since many other states were considering adopting California standards, Bush has managed to offend about half of the states directly. Hm. I recall some time back there was something or another that offended about half the states. I think it had to do with "states rights" as well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ron Paul: A matter of concience.

At midnight EST, donations were over $6 million, according to the campaign Web site. Those donations were processed credit-card receipts, said Paul campaign spokesman Jesse Benton. Benton said the median donation was about $50 in the fundraiser, which was the idea of Paul supporters who are not officially connected to the campaign.

Like many Paul backers, Lyman is a political novice. He has never even bothered to vote. But he had to act, he said, when the new Democratic majority in Congress didn't pull the troops out of Iraq. He was drawn to Paul and his promise to end the war immediately.

"I know my tax dollars are being used to kill people," Lyman said. "It makes me feel horrible."

blog it
Trevor Lyman, the unpaid and unofficial Ron Paul volunteer who is directly responsible for two record-breaking "money bombs" has captured the attention of Mainstream Media.

Why is he doing it? What does he expect to gain? What agenda does he advocate? What strings, in other words, come with this money?

Conscience. Strings of principle, of ethics and of conscience - strings that Ron Paul is more than happy to be bound by.

"I know my tax dollars are being used to kill people," Lyman said. "It makes me feel horrible."

It's hard to argue with motivations like that - and it's hard to argue that such motivations are "naive" or "unrealistic" in light of more than ten millions raised on the strengths of Ron Paul's principles alone, without direct or implied bribes.

Ron Paul doesn't advocate single payer health care and he's opposed to social security in principle (I differ with him there, by the by). But there are few personally selfish reasons to vote for him. They don't call him "Dr. No" for nothin'.

That's not "relativism," it's sociopathy

Hell's Handmaiden has dipped into the reality stream and come up with a net full of three-legged tadpoles...

Honestly, it is the first round of freshman, mostly, college papers I’ve seen in years. The subject is relativism. ...

Of the papers I’ve seen so far easily one in ten contains assertions in support of ethical relativism. Some of them contain quite strong assertions in favor of it. What is even more bizarre is that most of these defenders of relativism defend individual relativism, not cultural, and most tow the same basic line– that we can’t decide who is right or wrong so we just act how we feel like and, effectively, settle things by force.

Gee, I wonder where they got that idea. The news, perhaps?

I'd love to quote some of these papers but that would be wrong. I’m not even going to identify the school or the class title or the section number… or even the damned state. But ya know what? If I did quote from these papers, these damned relativists would be telling me that I shouldn’t have done so– telling me that my decision was wrong.!

Arghhh…..

I’d love to walk into that class and tell them that I’d posted every single paper online, complete with sarcasm, ridicule and whatever other snark I can manage. It isn’t that I’d actually like to do it. I’d just like to tell them that I’d done it and then listen to the whines of “that’s just not right” and “that’s wrong, man” and “you violated this or that principle or something”. Then I’d explain that if in fact they are relativists– individual relativists– as they argued in their papers then I am justified in posting their papers online. I am justified for no other reason than simply that I felt like it was the right thing to do.

I think I can put my thumb on the issue here. And while I can blame them for being purblind idiots for falling into this particular ethical trap, it's not like there wasn't a path beaten for them by many people, presumably older and wiser, who clearly chose not to know better.

The issue is not so much the idea that "right and wrong" are relative to the individual, the culture and the situation. All of these things are quite correct, and if you don't pay attention to whether or not the situation alters cases, you can easily end up doing the worst possible thing for all the "right" reasons. So the importance of the concept itself cannot be sufficiently stressed. The problem is that there still is a right and a wrong, a good and a bad, a useful and useless that in all but a few (and pretty darned obvious) cases that is external to any individual metric of good and bad.

You must always consider the consequences of your actions in regard to others, because if those consequences affect others in a negative or harmful way, they will surely hold you to account, if they can. Nor does obscuring the connection between you and the consequence of your action serve to make unethical actions ethical. It merely means you are putting an ethical debt onto your line of Karmic Credit, so to speak.

Or if you prefer, you are tempting Murphy.

There are few better expressions of individualistic moral relativism than the Wiccan Rede; "An it harm none, do as ye will."

That's the trick, of course, and that's the nub of this fallacy; it's not a question of "relativism," it's the manifestly and clinically stupid idea that one has the inherent right to do anything one desires... and get away with it!

I've blogged about this many times from many different angles, so I can happilly choose between good and best. My comments policy contains my most succinct statement of my understanding of this issue.

One problem in our nation is that Democrats and other Liberals are still acting as if the current situation in the United States were a political issue, one that arose due to politics and one that can be addressed in that manner. I'm afraid Glenn believes that as well. It's not. It's about cheats, liars and outright traitors in office and in positions of influence who are willing to do and say anything to achieve their ends.

This attitude - supposedly expressed by Newt Gingrich, as told to Bill Clinton as "But if we didn't cheat, we couldn't win" is cancerous. If you have to cheat to win, you don't deserve it and you aren't qualified to have it. All around us we see the results of what happens when cheaters lie and steal their way into power. Aside from the ethics, aside from the illegalities, aside from whatever possibly treasonous and certainly contemptible alliances with offshore oil interests there may be - they have no qualifications other than a lifetime spent lying, cheating and stealing.

These qualities are fit only for ruling a fantasy-land of self-delusion. they not apply well to real situations with real concerns. For instance, while you can lie yourself into a war, you cannot cheat your way to a victorious resolution. You can say "we are winning' every day, but the truth will speak louder than you. You can assert that "things are getting better in New Orleans", but a quick email to anyone there will put the lie to it.

Republicans - and by this I specifically include most of all their basement dwelling, Pajamas Media funded cheerleaders - are like the barking dog chasing the car. We now see what happens when the fool dog catches it.

The whole point to relativistic moral visions is to minimize blowback more than legalistic approaches can, not to pretend that it does not exist and cannot occur to you!

Of course, if one discounts the importance of consequence that do not happen personally, dramatically and immediately, it's possible to evolve an ethic - such as realpolitik - which will lead to short term advantage at the price of long term, indirect consequences.

Situational ethics (a distinctly Christian expression of Consequentialism, which is in itself an evolution of Utilitarianism) is used by many persons who's basic ethos comes from Sunday School to determine whether or not a particular moral truism actually does apply in this particular case; I and other ethical thinkers observe that it's not a replacement for those truisms.

Truisms are truisms because they are mostly true, most of the time.


All of these various ethical philosophies state that it is the outcome of an action that matters, rather than the choice of a particular action, or the inherent virtue or lack in the person. I would argue further that consequences - the observable outcome of a particular choice - is all that we have to objectively determine how "good" or "bad" a particular set of assumptions and choices were.*

If you wish a Christian summation of that - there is the parable of the fig tree, which is as succinct a summation of this principle as can be imagined. According to the parable, it matters not at all whether the fig tree is beautiful or ugly - if it's fruit is bitter and useless, it should be cut down, because it's wasting both space, cultivation efforts and nutrients to produce nothing of value.

Christ Himself was arguably a Utilitarian ethicist.

However - and this is a rather LARGE "however" - Situational ethics, moral relativism, however you wish to refer the idea, and whatever particular flavor you prefer - work only when you apply them to the truism like the fine-tuning knob on an old TV.

The idea is to ensure that the basic principle is applied with accuracy to the situation - not to arbitrarily decide that a small difference amounts to a total distinction.

The basis for a legalistic approach to morality and ethics is as follows, that a rigid application of The Law will tend to produce more beautiful trees with sweeter fruit, on the whole, if the assumptions made by those who set the law in place were accurate.

Therefore, it's important to regularly examine and critique the assumptions made by those who set The Law in place, and to compare their predictions of outcome to actual, provable outcome.

EG: No Child Left Behind, the Patriot Act, etc. Clearly, the stated intents of a law do not always play out in practice, even given the assumption that the authority imposing the law was truthful in stating their intent.

Now, having said that, it should also be said that if you don't understand the intent of a moral or legal diktat, you probably should not try to futz about with it. But I've never had much patience with folks who blindly follow rules simply because they are posted on a wall. ANYone could have put them there, for whatever reason, not excluding the possibility of a practical joke.

So I've always felt it important to examine rules, laws, morals and ethical standards to see what the intended outcome is. This will reveal many cases where the intent is good, but the rule is stupid, or that the rule or law was created for malicious, bigoted or dishonest reasons, and such rules should only be followed as written if Massa is watching. :P

Any general guide to proper behavior has an obvious problem; first, that it's a general guide, and there will be some exceptional cases where applying the guide as if it were an inarguable rule will result in more harm than taking a different, possibly "immoral" course of action. That reality is often used as a reason to toss out all moral truisms as invalid - but that simply leaves one without anywhere to even start an ethical analysis or behave in a way that predictably results in "golden rule" standards of behavior.

Morals - valid, well tested, culturally appropriate morals - are ideally the best first approximation and hopefully the best reflexive choice, and the obvious the starting point to evaluating the best course of action whenever you have time to think about a choice in depth.

Simply stated, a "moral code" is a set of ethical equations that have been generalized within a cultural matrix over a wide assortment of individual cases over a span of time, so that in general one does not have to deeply consider every single choice of action.

But such a moral code must provably result in better outcomes than some other set of morals or competitive ethos. And when such a code even arguably, much less provably results in worse outcomes than none, from any reasonable standpoint, that "moral code" is unethical, and practicing it for oneself is immoral, much less attempting to impose it upon others as a cultural and legal standard.
-------
*I reject any moral or ethical equasion that has a scope greater than that of a particular person that depends on supposed, faith-based consequences, such as "you'll go to hell" or "Eris hates personal organizers."

Choose that for yourself, if you must, if you think an arbitrary and unprovable consequence is more important than provable and direct consequences - but do not expect others to forgive or forget actions you take based on such unprovable assumptions.

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