Friday, March 16, 2007

Blood Guilty Churches

Blood Guilty Churches is very possibly the most important thing you could read this year, whether you are Christian or not, Left, Right or Center.

It is expecially useful if you are trying to speak to those who blindly assert that this is "A Christian Nation" with a president "Appointed By God." These are assertions based, after all, on the Bible and therefore will stand or fall on how well the Good Book agrees with what those folk SAY the Bible says.

A chunk that is admittedly more than common fair use is required to fairly and properly represent this work. This section is the conclusion, and you should now go and read from the beginning to see how solidly each premise is established.

Profile of the Man God Hates

Scott Peck defines evil as, “The exercise of political power—that is, the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion—in order to avoid…spiritual growth.”[186] He says lying is both a symptom as well as one of the causes of evil.[187] There are several other remarkable facts about evil people revealed by Scott Peck’s book. He wrote in 1983:

“Because their willfulness is so extraordinary and always accompanied by a lust for power—I suspect that the evil are more likely than most to politically aggrandize themselves. Yet at the same time, being unsubmitted, their extreme willfulness is likely to lead them into political debacles.”[188]

Peck reveals the evil can never admit they’ve done anything wrong. They can never say, “I made a mistake.” They have to maintain the appearance of perfection—else the whole edifice of their personalities will crack. Peck explains, “Because they cannot admit to weakness or imperfection in themselves, they must appear [not to suffer deeply.] They must appear to themselves to be continually on top of things, continually in command. Their narcissism demands it.”[189]

Marked by the “appearance” of competence, the evil are driven by fear. Peck says, “They are terrified that the pretense will break down and they will be exposed to the world and to themselves. They are continually frightened that they will come face-to-face with their own evil. Of all emotions, fear is the most painful. Regardless of how well they attempt to appear calm and collected in their daily dealings, the evil live their lives in fear. It is a terror—and a suffering—so chronic, so interwoven into the fabric of their being, that they may not even feel it as such.”[190]

If we take Scott Peck’s analysis and compare it carefully with a profile of the evil in the Bible, we can see remarkable similarities.

There are seven attributes of a man that God hates. God lays out the psychological profile of those traits he abhors. The following are from Proverbs 6:16-19 in the Amplified Version:

1. “A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others].

2. “A lying tongue,

3. “Hands that shed innocent blood,

4. “A heart that manufactures wicked thoughts and plans,

5. “Feet that are swift in running to evil,

6. “A false witness who breathes out lies [even under oath],

7. “And he who sows discord among his brethren.”

Selah! Pause and think on these things.

Now go and rub the noses of your "Christian" brethren in this truth. For extra credit, "Do We Finally Have a Christian President" is asked - and you get to answer that for yourself.

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Politics Explained

Politics Explained
Courtesy of Steve Jackson Games

Speaking Wonklish

Mike the Mad Biologist snorts at the rightward idea that there is insufficient wonkishness in Left Blogastan. (And really, he should know.) He quotes Matt Stoller, as do I, because Matt goes to the heart of the issue.

To put it in context, Kevin Drum's column was written prior to the 2006 election, and was something of an "if we win, then what" sort of piece.

Matt Stoller writes about Kevin Drum's plea for more wonkiness in the lefty blogosphere (italics mine):
I'm not going to go into details, but wonkery is at this point counterproductive because the essence of wonkery is an assumption of good faith. If you write a policy in wonk-land, it's assumed it will be carried out, the law will be respected, the money will be appropriated, etc. The Bush administration has broken that basic compact. They lie. All the time. They approach arguments in utter bad faith from the get-go. They abuse the process, everything from budget battles to conference committees. If you approach people like this in good faith, you lose...

Now, I do want things from Congress. And there are great discussions about the policies that we want, from Effect Measure to Boingboing to The Washington Note. But I'm not going to pretend like any of these are feasible without working out the systemic rot that has infected our discourse and political system. I want to see the law be reestablished as law, policy battles return to good faith terrain, and facts established as the basis for policy-making - and then we can discuss policy. [Emphasis Mine - and I wish I could use the blink tag-BK]

So, that is my suggestion for a policy. A general housecleaning. A return to good faith discourse and good faith politics. THEN we can discuss and argue about things that are not immediately obvious necessities to those unblinded by the delusions of the radical Right.

I say "a return," because much of this situation evolved (heh) from the Dominionist Christian efforts to infiltrate the political process, and they are quite expressly trained, advised and counseled to conceal their intentions, which are frankly to turn this nation into a theocracy not unlike that of the Taliban.

How George W. Bush became the head of the new
American Dominionist Church/State
by Katherine Yurica

Most Americans have been aware that religious right
Republicans have become extremely active politically
in the last twenty years. But because we're Americans
and we're mostly tolerant of other people's religious
beliefs, their rise to power hasn't really troubled us.
We should be troubled. There is now overwhelming
evidence that conservative Christians set out to
takeover the government of the United States and impose
their culture and values upon all Americans. This
article is not a theory--it is factual and historic.
The proof is in this essay. Dont miss this one.

Whatever dominionists say for public consumption, the real goal is what drives them. It's a policy that has brought them some success over the last 20 years, though it's unraveling as their actual agendas become obvious. But meanwhile, their tactics have obviously spread throughout the Right Wing, because in some senses, they have become the spiritual advisers to the Right - and because their tactics work.

For a while.

But as P.T. Barnum so famously observed, you can't fool all of the people, all of the time. The problem for the Right is just that - in order to continue all their overt and covert policies, they DO have to fool all of the people, all of the time. Worse yet, they have to start with themselves. This sort of willful suspension of a skeptical review of policy and ideological faith - and the loud derision of facts in evidence is bound to lead to a bruising collision with reality at some point.

In our case, we have Iraq, a president apparently willing to nuke Iran for reasons we can only speculate upon as his justifications are hardly worthy of the name, a looming energy crisis AND global warming, two linked issues that we should have started seriously addressing in the late seventies.

The right-wing "skepticism" about global warming is presented on the same intellectual level and possesses the same degree of intellectual honesty as it's "skepticism" about evolution and the human and environmental impact of - well, pretty much what any large corporate donor wishes to do.

The leaders of the various right wing factions - and there are many, with growing fissures between them - much prefer blind faith to measured and judicious support of their agendas based on skeptical discussion and review. It's a rather seductive proposition, it makes the job of wielding power ever so much easier and it creates a temporary illusion of juggernaut-like effectiveness.

But the problem of faith is that sooner or later that faith must be expressed in works. Faith - in God, in economic theory, in the merits of a military-industrial oligarchy - must bring a pudding to be proven.

And all we have gotten is repeated, rude figgings.

The cure for this starts with impeachment. Then it goes to a general cleansing of the government of "bushies," those who's success has depended more on loyalty and ideological purity than an honest day's work doing something related to their job description.

For instance, Homeland Security should have some relationship to actually securing our homes and our lands. And isn't that OUR job, Constitutionally speaking? Second Amendment? Well-Regulated Militia? (Volenteer fire departments are good examples of "well-regulated militias;" well-equipped and well-trained community members who are the "first responders" to many emergencies.

FEMA should manage emergencies that are too overwhelming for local responders. The Coast Guard should be guarding our coasts. Immigration and Naturalization should be doing things related to managing a coherent, fair and managable immigration policy. The FBI should investigate federal interstate crimes - which include both terrorism and treason. The CIA should centralize foreign intelligence. And we should have a foreign policy that does not make success in these efforts difficult to impossible to achieve.

This is common sense, of course - and since it is common sense, there's still a general reluctance to admit what a very, very poor job these agencies do when they do anything.

The only sane human reaction these days is to hide when a government agent approaches, for there can be no assumption of either good faith or the ability to do anything to make any human situation more bearable.

So let us start at the top, with impeachment. Then let us be rid of both those who are ideological incompetents and those who decided to play politics in preference to doing the right thing. In this I include many elected representatives of all parties who were in a position to know better, and either chose not to or were too focused on politics to remember that politics is a means, not an end in itself.

Let us restock our government with seasoned, apolitical professionals at the senior levels and task them with clearing out the underbrush.

The job of the government - first, last, always - is the regulation of the commons. Our common markets and our common access to them, our common resources, such as air, water, watersheds and green spaces that we all have an individual and equal survival-level interest in, regardless of wealth or position. Our common systems of transportation that make freedom of movement and access to markets more than just a fine-sounding pronouncement. This concept extends to some rather abstract-seeming things - like the broadcast spectrum, access to information, education and space exploration - but these are all things that we, as citizens of this nation, benefit or suffer from as individuals regardless of wealth, power or position.

Besides, even if you can buy access to power, bribe your way into markets denied the common man, it doesn't follow that you should have to, or that these "protected" markets are therefore superior in any way. Indeed, you've likely bought access to the shark pond, chum.

I have seen this situation coming since 1980. I've seen the promises, and I've seen the reality. This is a poorer nation than it was then, poorer intellectually, poorer financially, poorer spiritually and poorer in every other way relating to the graces and benefits of a civil and civilized society.

This nation has become greedy, mean-spirited, intolerant and - not to put too fine a point on it - stupefied.

The only policy that can be discussed is to rid ourselves of those who created those conditions and replace their policies with those that have been demonstrated to work in civilized nations, in accordance with our Constitution and with regard to it's enlightened intent of maximizing individual liberty.

I believe that a faith in things that work is the essence of Conservatism, and so I appeal to Congress; impeach. Impeach the President now. You are either with those of us who wish to live again in a decent, civilized nation that is well regarded by the world - or you are on the losing side, and the rest of us will be well-rid of you.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Suddenly Seymour Hersh

In reference to Seymour M. Hersh's New Yorker article, "The Redirection." Tom Engelhardt wonders where the media reaction is to something that looks like Iran-Contra, seems as naive and inept as Iran-Contra and likely to create far more problems than Iran-Contra ever did.

TomDispatch: The Seymour Hersh Mystery

"Iran-Contra alumni in the Bush administration at one time or another included former Reagan National Security Advisor John Poindexter, Otto Reich, John Negroponte (who, Hersh claims, recently left his post as Director of National Intelligence in order to avoid the twenty-first century version of Iran-Contra -- "No way. I'm not going down that road again, with the N.S.C. [National Security Council] running operations off the books, with no [presidential] finding."),"

Negroponte - that old cold warrier and worse - scared of blowback from a repeat of his "glory days?" What the hell does he know that Hersh has NOT found out? And dare we wait to know?

"In this country, it's a no-brainer that the Iranians have no right whatsoever to put their people, overtly or covertly, into neighboring Iraq, a country which, back in the 1980s, invaded Iran and fought a bitter eight-year war with it, resulting in perhaps a million casualties; but it's just normal behavior for the Pentagon to have traveled halfway across the planet to dominate the Iraqi military, garrison Iraq with a string of vast permanent bases, build the largest embassy on the planet in Baghdad's Green Zone, and send special-operations teams (and undoubtedly CIA teams as well) across the Iranian border, or to insert them in Iran to do 'reconnaissance' or even to foment unrest among its minorities. This is the definition of an imperial worldview."

Hersh's story amounts to this - there is a huge, complicated and frankly idiotic "black" operation run out of the Vice President's office with "black" funds (possibly stolen Iraqi oil dollars) to engineer a Sunni-Shia rift, civil war within Iran and God only knows what else. And they apparently think they can ride this whirlwind!

It seems like we here in the US are living on the wrong side of Mordor's gate.

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Oh, what a tangled web we weave...

Liar, Liar
Permission given to republish this cartoon with attribution to Bob King,

It's not just that the administration is lying to us, it's that they cannot even be bothered to exceed the minimum standards for the barest shred of "plausible deniability." In the case of the firings of US Attorneys, it was clear enough from who was fired that the motivations were almost certainly political. The appearance of email records proves that there exists both an intent to politicize every U.S. Attorney's office and a contempt for Congress and Constitution that takes my breath away. I'm not sure which is more stunning - the intent or the ineptitude.

This story in the Washington Post is one of many to be found that are feasting upon this well simmered pot of lame duck soup. (note - I included the wrong link, and now I can't find the correct story. I'm looking...) I can find the contents in search at WaP0, but the link leads to a different article.

Just trust me until I can find the proper link or re-write this thing.
The inconsistencies between Justice's positions and the documents are numerous. On Feb. 23, for example, a Justice legislative affairs aide wrote to Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) that the department "was not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint Mr. Griffin." But internal Justice e-mails show that "getting him appointed is important" to Rove and was closely monitored by political aides in the White House.

Last week, senior Justice official William E. Moschella told a House Judiciary subcommittee that the White House was not consulted on the firings until the end of the process.

But the documents released this week show that the plan began more than two years ago at the White House counsel's office, which initially suggested firing all 93 U.S. attorneys. Gonzales rejected that idea, and Sampson wrote back in January 2006 that Justice and the White House should "work together to seek the replacement of a limited number of U.S. Attorneys."
Clearly these are people who think that the way you deal with embarrassing emails is to print them out and shred them.

Many Democrats have focused on the Feb. 6 testimony by McNulty, who appeared before the Senate judiciary panel for several hours to mount a strong defense of the legality and propriety of the prosecutor firings.

McNulty told the committee that there was no plan to use Gonzales's appointment powers to evade Senate oversight, that accusations of "politicizing" the hiring and firing process were "completely contrary to my daily experience," and that the dismissals of everyone but the Arkansas prosecutor were purely "performance-related."

Each of those contentions is called into question by the 143 pages of internal e-mails and other documents turned over to the House and the Senate on Tuesday. Most had been sent or received by Sampson.

Political considerations, for example, figured prominently in who was chosen to be fired. Sampson ranked all 93 U.S. attorneys in part on whether they "exhibited loyalty" to Bush and Gonzales or "chafed against Administration initiatives etc."
Captain's Quarters speaks of the matter, and the wish of Harriet Myers to can all 93.

The dismissals took place after President Bush told Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in October that he had received complaints that some prosecutors had not energetically pursued voter-fraud investigations, according to a White House spokeswoman.

The firing of eight was, apparently, the most the White House thought they could get away with at one go, perhaps due to that pesky oath of office thing, and perhaps there were a couple-three real incompetents thrown in to make things smell better.

But the evidence that Myers (and hence, the President) wanted to dismiss them all is a pretty clear indication that he wanted to replace all of them with handpicked loyalists. That's a frighteningly despotic idea.

The White House clearly doesn't have much truck with folks of either party who are more loyal to the Constitution than the Administration.

As for "vote fraud," well - I'm torn. I know that there is fine long tradition of Democratic vote fraud and I'm all for a fair and impartial approach to investigating and prosecuting offenders who interfered with the vote for partisan reasons.

I also think that it's quite possible that "vote fraud" is code for votes going to candidates who are not Republican. I also think it's quite possible that some in the Administration are dim enough to think that vote fraud IS the only logical explanation. No, I'm certain that's true of some - certainly secretaries, gophers and the like. The question is, how many in positions of authority are that stupid? Well, "Brownie" sure was. Chertoff - honestly, I think he's even stupider. And almost everyone sent to Iraq in a civilian, administrative capacity was chosen for blind loyalty.

Gonzalez seems to me even more delusional than Ashcroft. He's clearly a man to who the ends justify the means, without the interest in considering what the stated ends imply.

But when people such as the corporate officers of Diebold, who clearly and deliberately engineered insecure voting machines, or Katherine Harris and her voter roll purges are clearly shielded from the proper consequences of their actions, I (and no doubt many others) would see prosecuting Democratic vote fraud as a legal means to a political end - and that end would be eliminating effective operatives on the other side and not at all about preserving the integrity of the voting process.

It's politics as they have made usual, and to the extent that there is any degree of widespread Democratic vote fraud, it's due in part to Bushite meddling in the process. And to the extent that it's difficult to prosecute, it's likely due in part to Democrats attracting the smarter and sneakier sorts. who, when they commit illegal acts, do not send emails outlining the nature and intent of those acts to anyone!

Now, back in the day, Clinton would have said to Carville something to the effect of, "Jim, looks like there might be a problem comin' up in Iowa. Can you handle it for me?" And Jim would say "consider it handled."

If you are going to do something shady, something you ought to know won't hold up in the light of day, you better make sure you go about it in such a way that it never does come to light - and by that, I do not mean a situation where fairly much everyone KNOWS what's going on, whether or not any prosecution occurs. I mean nobody knows, nobody suspects and there is no evidence to trip over.

We must impeach the President and all his idiots, while we can. Otherwise they will end up doing something so insanely stupid that the Republic - and not just the Republican party - will be at risk.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

From the people who want to bring you Armageddon:

There are always those who think it better or easier to make a living by destruction and looting than by honest means. This was the main impetus behind the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials, if you doubt me, look into who got the property of deceased witches, Templars and other targets of "religious" persecution.

Domestically - if there is a Muslim family being targeted, it's a not unreasonable thing to ask yourself, what do they have or control that someone connected to the loud idiots might covet?

Media Matters - Falwell: Media ignored "radical Islamic terrorists ... because they are trying to keep Islam in a good light"

On the March 8 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck, Rev. Jerry Falwell baselessly suggested that 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic, who shot nine people at a Salt Lake City mall in February, was a "radical Islamic terrorist," before adding, "[b]ut the press never mentions that -- most of the press -- because they are trying to keep Islam in a good light here in this country." In fact, media outlets have reported that Talovic is a Muslim while also reporting that authorities say there is no evidence that his faith played a part in his actions.

Talovic, a Bosnian immigrant, killed five people at Salt Lake City's Trolley Square shopping center before he was shot and killed by police. As Media Matters for America noted when right-wing radio host Michael Savage made a claim similar to Falwell's, a February 14 Associated Press article did, in fact, address the possibility that Talovic's actions were motivated by religion, terrorism, or both. The article reported that "authorities tried to figure out why a teenage Bosnian immigrant committed the rampage and how he got his hands on a gun. FBI agent Patrick Kiernan in Salt Lake City said the bureau had no reason to believe Sulejman Talovic, who was killed by police, was motivated by religious extremism or an act of terrorism." The article also quoted Ajka Omerovic, Talovic's aunt, as saying, "We are Muslims, but we are not terrorists."

Now the rest of the article gives more than enough reasons to suggest that the boy might not have been wrapped too tightly. I doubt being a Bosnian Muslim in a Salt Lake school added to his stability. But Falwell and the other empty-headed idiologes of the Right are eager to confuse correlation with causation. The non-empty-headed may be spinning opportunity from tragedy.

Indeed, all this effort to fan the terror, to exploit the terror makes me wonder aloud who the real terrorists are. There seems less and less potential benefit for Islam - or even the terrorists of Islam. And while the terrorists of Islam are, indeed not wrapped too tightly themselves, Falwell and his ilk have abandoned all restraint - and are connected so tightly to the wealthy and white classes you can't slip a sheet of bible paper between them.

Aside from the opportunities that pogroms creat for scavengers; it's always been good business to tell the ignorant and bigoted that Gawd Is On Their Side. It's obscenely profitable for Falwell, Savage, Dobson and Coulter; not only that, there's hardly any heavy lifting required; not even to the degree required of ordinary ideologues.

All you have to do is point out the witch and say she caused the plague.

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