Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo: Judicial Murder

Her crime was being disabled, voiceless, and at the disposal of our media
by Nat Hentoff March 29th, 2005 10:59 AM

For all the world to see, a 41-year-old woman, who has committed no crime, will die of dehydration and starvation in the longest public execution in American history.
She is not brain-dead or comatose, and breathes naturally on her own. Although brain-damaged, she is not in a persistent vegetative state, according to an increasing number of radiologists and neurologists.
Among many other violations of her due process rights, Terri Schiavo has never been allowed by the primary judge in her case—Florida Circuit Judge George Greer, whose conclusions have been robotically upheld by all the courts above him—to have her own lawyer represent her.
Greer has declared Terri Schiavo to be in a persistent vegetative state, but he has never gone to see her. His eyesight is very poor, but surely he could have visited her along with another member of his staff. Unlike people in a persistent vegetative state, Terri Schiavo is indeed responsive beyond mere reflexes.
While lawyers and judges have engaged in a minuet of death, the American Civil Liberties Union, which would be passionately criticizing state court decisions and demanding due process if Terri were a convict on death row, has shamefully served as co-counsel for her husband, Michael Schiavo, in his insistent desire to have her die.
Months ago, in discussing this case with ACLU executive director Anthony Romero, and later reading ACLU statements, I saw no sign that this bastion of the Bill of Rights has ever examined the facts concerning the egregious conflicts of interest of her husband and guardian Michael Schiavo, who has been living with another woman for years, with whom he has two children, and has violated a long list of his legal responsibilities as her guardian, some of them directly preventing her chances for improvement. Judge Greer has ignored all of them.
In February, Florida's Department of Children and Families presented Judge Greer with a 34-page document listing charges of neglect, abuse, and exploitation of Terri by her husband, with a request for 60 days to fully investigate the charges. Judge Greer, soon to remove Terri's feeding tube for the third time, rejected the 60-day extension. (The media have ignored these charges, and much of what follows in this article.)
Michael Schiavo, who says he loves and continues to be devoted to Terri, has provided no therapy or rehabilitation for his wife (the legal one) since 1993. He did have her tested for a time, but stopped all testing in 1993. He insists she once told him she didn't want to survive by artificial means, but he didn't mention her alleged wishes for years after her brain damage, while saying he would care for her for the rest of his life.
Terri Schiavo has never had an MRI or a PET scan, nor a thorough neurological examination. Republican Senate leader Bill Frist, a specialist in heart-lung transplant surgery, has, as The New York Times reported on March 23, "certified [in his practice] that patients were brain dead so that their organs could be transplanted." He is not just "playing doctor" on this case.
During a speech on the Senate floor on March 17, Frist, speaking of Judge Greer's denial of a request for new testing and examinations of Terri, said reasonably, "I would think you would want a complete neurological exam" before determining she must die.
Frist added: "The attorneys for Terri's parents have submitted 33 affidavits from doctors and other medical professionals,all of whom say that Terri should be re-evaluated."
In death penalty cases, defense counsel for retarded and otherwise mentally disabled clients submit extensive medical tests. Ignoring the absence of complete neurological exams, supporters of the deadly decisions by Judge Greer and the trail of appellate jurists keep reminding us how extensive the litigation in this case has been—19 judges in six courts is the mantra. And more have been added. So too in many death penalty cases, but increasingly, close to execution, inmates have been saved by DNA.
As David Gibbs, the lawyer for Terri's parents, has pointed out, there has been a manifest need for a new federal, Fourteenth Amendment review of the case because Terri's death sentence has been based on seven years of "fatally flawed" state court findings—all based on the invincible neglect of elementary due process by Judge George Greer.
I will be returning to the legacy of Terri Schiavo in the weeks ahead because there will certainly be long-term reverberations from this case and its fracturing of the rule of law in the Florida courts and then the federal courts—as well as the disgracefully ignorant coverage of the case by the great majority of the media, including such pillars of the trade as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, and the Los Angeles Times as they copied each other's misinformation, like Terri Schiavo being "in a persistent vegetative state."
Do you know that nearly every major disability rights organization in the country has filed a legal brief in support of Terri's right to live?
But before I go back to other Liberty Beats—the CIA's torture renditions and the whitewashing of the landmark ACLU and Human Rights First's lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld for his accountability in the widespread abuse of detainees, including evidence of torture—I must correct the media and various "qualified experts" on how a person dies of dehydration if he or she is sentient, as Terri Schiavo demonstrably is.
On March 15's Nightline, in an appallingly one-sided, distorted account of the Schiavo case, Terri's husband, Michael—who'd like to marry the woman he's now living with—said that once Terri's feeding tube is removed at his insistent command, Terri "will drift off into a nice little sleep and eventually pass on and be with God."
As an atheist, I cannot speak to what he describes as his abandoned wife's ultimate destination, but I can tell how Wesley Smith (consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture)—whom I often consult on these bitterly controversial cases because of his carefully researched books and articles—describes death by dehydration.
In his book Forced Exit (Times Books), Wesley quotes neurologist William Burke: "A conscious person would feel it [dehydration] just as you and I would. . . . Their skin cracks, their tongue cracks, their lips crack. They may have nosebleeds because of the drying of the mucous membranes, and heaving and vomiting might ensue because of the drying out of the stomach lining.
"They feel the pangs of hunger and thirst. Imagine going one day without a glass of water! . . . It is an extremely agonizing death."
On March 23, outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo was growing steadily weaker, her mother, Mary, said to the courts and to anyone who would listen and maybe somehow save her daughter:
"Please stop this cruelty!"
While this cruelty was going on in the hospice, Michael Schiavo's serpentine lawyer, George Felos, said to one and all: "Terri is stable, peaceful, and calm. . . . She looked beautiful."
During the March 21 hearing before Federal Judge James D. Whittemore, who was soon to be another accomplice in the dehydration of Terri, the relentless Mr. Felos, anticipating the end of the deathwatch, said to the judge:
"Yes, life is sacred, but so is liberty, your honor, especially in this country."
It would be useless, but nonetheless, I would like to inform George Felos that, as Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas said: "The history of liberty is the history of due process"—fundamental fairness.
Contrary to what you've read and seen in most of the media, due process has been lethally absent in Terri Schiavo's long merciless journey through the American court system.
"As to legal concerns," writes William Anderson—a senior psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a lecturer at Harvard University—"a guardian may refuse any medical treatment, but drinking water is not such a procedure. It is not within the power of a guardian to withhold, and not in the power of a rational court to prohibit."
Ralph Nader agrees. In a statement on March 24, he and Wesley Smith (author of, among other books, Culture of Death: The Assault of Medical Ethics in America) said: "The court is imposing process over justice. After the first trial [before Judge Greer], much evidence has been produced that should allow for a new trial—which was the point of the hasty federal legislation.
"If this were a death penalty case, this evidence would demand reconsideration. Yet, an innocent, disabled woman is receiving less justice. . . . This case is rife with doubt. Justice demands that Terri be permitted to live." (Emphasis added.)
But the polls around the country cried out that a considerable majority of Americans wanted her to die without Congress butting in.
A March 20 ABC poll showed that 60 percent of the 501 adults consulted opposed the ultimately unsuccessful federal legislation, and only 35 percent approved. Moreover, 70 percent felt strongly that it was wrong for Congress to get into such personal, private matters—and interfere with what some advocates of euthanasia call "death with dignity." (So much for the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process and equal protection of the laws.)
But, as Cathy Cleaver Ruse of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops pointed out:
"The poll [questions] say she's 'on life support,' which is not true [since all she needs is water], and that she has 'no consciousness,' which her family and dozens of doctors dispute in sworn affidavits."
Many readers of this column are pro-choice, pro-abortion rights. But what choice did Terri Schiavo have under our vaunted rule of law—which the president is eagerly trying to export to the rest of the world? She had not left a living will or a durable power of attorney, and so could not speak for herself. But the American system of justice would not slake her thirst as she, on television, was dying in front of us all.
What kind of a nation are we becoming? The CIA outsources torture—in violation of American and international law—in the name of the freedoms we are fighting to protect against terrorism. And we have watched as this woman, whose only crime is that she is disabled, is tortured to death by judges, all the way to the Supreme Court.
And keep in mind from the Ralph Nader-Wesley Smith report: "The courts . . . have [also] ordered that no attempts be made to provide her water or food by mouth. Terri swallows her own saliva. Spoon feeding is not medical treatment. This outrageous order proves that the courts are not merely permitting medical treatment to be withheld, they have ordered her to be made dead."

In this country, even condemned serial killers are not executed in this way.

http://www.villagevoice.com/generic/show_print.php?id=62489&page=hentoff&issue=0513&printcde=MzMzNjgyNjQwNA==&refpage=L25ld3MvaW5kZXgucGhwP2lzc3VlPTA1MTMmcGFnZT1oZW50b2ZmJmlkPTYyNDg5

Monday, March 28, 2005

Religion of Peace, Part VIII

Pakistani Worshippers Attacked on Easter Sunday

One Christian killed, seven injured in village church shooting.

by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL, March 28 (Compass) -- Armed gunmen attacked Christian worshippers as they emerged from Easter Sunday services in a village church near the southern outskirts of Lahore yesterday, killing one young Christian man and injuring seven other congregants.
Irshad Masih, in his early 20s, died in the church yard from a bullet that struck his head during a half hour of indiscriminate shooting by four attackers. The deceased leaves behind an 18-year-old wife and an infant daughter.
Seven other victims suffering severe gunshot wounds in their legs, abdomen and other parts of their bodies were hospitalized at Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital. Attending doctors declared this morning that all were now off the critical list.
Pastor Riaz Gill of Victory Church International had completed Easter Sunday celebrations and then dismissed his congregation at 10:30 yesterday morning. As the people left the church, located in Khamba village in the Wapda Town Phase II sector of Lahore, four young men started shooting at the worshippers.
According to eyewitnesses at the church, police summoned to the scene initially arrested three of the four suspects, recovering at least one rifle and a pistol. But police later told an investigative team from Lahore’s Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) that they had only arrested two of the accused culprits, claiming that another two suspects, who were minors, had escaped...
http://www.worthynews.com/christian-persecution/pakistani-worshippers-attacked-easter.html

Friday, March 25, 2005

nau-se-a (nôz-, -zh, -s-, -sh)

nau-se-a (nôz-, -zh, -s-, -sh)
noun

1. A feeling of sickness in the stomach characterized by an urge to vomit..
2. Strong aversion; disgust.

Here we go again! Wealthy NY Times left-wing propagandist/columnist Bob Herbert indulges his (and all liberals’) far-out fantasy of collectivist wealth-redistribution, and, naturally!, throws in some gratuitous mean-spirited comments about the American hoi-polloi, who are, apparently, so "distracted" by tabloid TV that they almost deserve to be exploited by the GOP fat-cats. Thank goodness that Bob is there to set us straight:

First, Comrade Bob identifies the "problem"...
“President Bush believes in an "ownership" society, which means that except for the wealthy, you're on your own. The president's budget would cut funding for Medicaid, food stamps, education, transportation, health care for veterans, law enforcement, medical research and safety inspections for food and drugs. And, of course, it contains big new tax cuts for the wealthy. These are the new American priorities. Republicans will tell you they were ratified in the last presidential election. We may be locked in a long and costly war, and federal deficits may be spiraling toward the moon, but the era of shared sacrifices is over. This is the era of entrenched exploitation. All sacrifices will be made by working people and the poor, and the vast bulk of the benefits will accrue to the rich.
F.D.R. would have stared slack-jawed at this madness. Even his grand Social Security edifice is under assault by the vandals of the G.O.P….”

…and then he blames YOU for it!
“While the press and the public are distracted by one sensational news story after another - Terri Schiavo, Michael Jackson, steroids in baseball, etc. - the president and his party have continued their extraordinary campaign to undermine the programs that were designed to fend off destitution and provide a reasonable foundation of economic security for those not blessed with great wealth..."

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/25/opinion/herbert25.1.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists

Thursday, March 24, 2005

"Oh, you're cute... like a velvet glove cast in iron!"

The Shangri-las...need I say more?

The greatest Girl Group of all time!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

DNC Chair Howard Dean Changes Mind: He Really Likes Rednecks, After All

DNC Chair Howard “Yeeeaaaagggghhhh!!!” Dean seems to have had a change of heart. Back in 2003 the failed Presidential nominee cynically disclosed that despite his obvious distaste for “guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks”, he’d court their votes in order to win:

Dean's comment on Confederate flags, pickups sparks Iowa dust-up
WASHINGTON (AP) — A comment by Howard Dean about Confederate flags and pickup trucks has embroiled the leading Democrats in Iowa's presidential caucuses in a name-calling donnybrook. "I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks," the former Vermont governor said in a telephone interview quoted in Saturday's Des Moines Register. "We can't beat George Bush unless we appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats."
http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/2003-11-02-dean-flag_x.htm#

But now it seems that the superannuated Preppie has had a change of heart:

Wednesday, 03/23/05 Democrats must work in state to win it, Dean says ,
Party chairman sees need for respecting South, values
If the Democrats want to win in Tennessee, the first thing they have to do is campaign here, Howard Dean told a packed house at Vanderbilt University last night. Dean, national chairman of the Democratic Party, was greeted with a standing ovation from the largely student audience. He said that as the party moves forward it needs to show those who live south of the Mason-Dixon Line that it respects them and the values they hold. ''I don't believe in blue states or red states,'' the former 2004 presidential candidate said. ''I believe in purple states — and some are more purple than others.'' http://www.tennessean.com/government/archives/05/03/67294794.shtml?Element_ID=67294794

And Furthermore...

Why are the Dems so confused by, and afraid of, “values” (code word for traditional Christianity)? Here’s Dean again, addressing the fellow-travelers at Vanderbilt University last night:

''We need to talk about values and not be afraid of them,'' he said, going on to make two biblical references."

And this from a man who quit going to Church altogether years ago, in a dispute wiith his Church over the route of a bike path!
http://www.tennessean.com/government/archives/05/03/67294794.shtml?Element_ID=67294794

New York Elites Praise Public Sculpture: "Pregnant, Mutilated Virgin Mary with Dangling Fetus"

What more can I possibly say about this? As Christians throughout the world celebrate Holy Week, the cultural elites give us a 35 foot tall bronze sculpture of a mutilated Virgin Mary, complete with dead fetus...

"Back uptown, a small group of youths gathered around Lever House owner Aby Rosen's newest acquisition, (Artist Damien) Hirst's thirty-five-foot-tall pregnant Madonna (or "The Virgin Mother"), installed on the building's Park Avenue plaza. Staring at her animal-skull head and the fetus dangling from her exposed abdomen, one asked, "What does it mean?" His friend was quick to answer: "It's art, man." Hirst could not have said it better..."
http://artforum.com/diary/id=8568

Chinese Epicures Outraged

KFC pulls two items from its Chinese menu
Associated Press
Updated: Thu. Mar. 17 2005 7:26 AM ET
KFC outlets in China have apologized to customers and stopped selling "New Orleans" flavor roast chicken wings and chicken burgers after finding a seasoning used in the products contains an industrial dye linked to cancer.
"We feel deeply sorry for this food safety accident and promise it will never happen again," Yum Brands Inc., parent company of KFC, said in a statement received Thursday.
Yum, based in Louisville, Kentucky, did not name the supplier of the contaminated seasoning, which it said contains Sudan I, a red dye used for coloring oils, waxes, petrol and shoe polish that has been linked to cancer...

A local gourmet expresses outrage at the Colonel.
Note delicious canines in pens.

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1111062467733_56/?hub=Health

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Why Does the Left Want to Kill Terri Schiavo?

Why does the Left want to kill Terri Schiavo? The reason is not complex—they want her to die because they want the Federal Courts, rather than the Congress, to define and set the parameters of “life”. There are two reasons for this. First, the American Leftist Elite still adheres to the old canard that the typical American KKK-Racist-Idiot-Anti-Semite-Homophobic-Sexist-Xenophobe cannot be trusted to send “progressive” representatives to Washington. And, they reason, if the troglodytic masses continue to vote in Conservatives, their hateful Leftist agenda may never totally emerge from under the rock where it belongs (though I doubt they'd phrase it that way!). Second, and more important, is that by vesting all decisions relating to “life” in the Federal Courts, which are of course already predominantly liberal (think: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals), the Left has a better chance of seeing its program come to fruition—its program in this case being unfettered access, forever, to abortion on demand. The future Liberal paradise includes Communist Chinese-style Government control of the actual physical population of the United States, apparently.

Furthermore, it seems to me to be grotesque that Liberals, who by nature want Government intervention in every aspect of your life (controlling where you can smoke, what you can eat, what your kids need to know about sex, etc. etc. etc.) now suddenly crow that they are the champions of the heretofore unheard of “Right to Die”. Terri Schiavo, they wail and moan, must be “allowed” to die, free from perfidious Governmental interference… It is without a doubt the most sickening display of cynical hypocrisy that I’ve ever seen.

Extreme leftist ideologue William Saletan (Columnist, Slate Magazine; Chief Political Correspondent, Air America Radio; various left-wing blogs, ‘zines, and so on) has a piece in today’s Slate Magazine, Culture Vultures - Terri Schiavo's persistent legislative state. (http://slate.msn.com/id/2115123). As per usual with compassionate, caring, loving, liberals, the article (editorial, actually) is cruel and spiteful, and muddle-headed. The fact is, as even Saletan, reports over and over again, is that Terri Schiavo does exhibit signs of cognizance…writes Saletan: “Schiavo's parents have circulated video clips purporting to show that their daughter responds to stimuli. Skeptics point out that the clips omit hours of unresponsiveness—suggesting that her "responses" may be random—and that doctors who examined her in person concluded that she wasn't really interacting with other people. Still, the videos tell a story. In one, Schiavo gags over an oral swab, and a male voice comments, "She don't like that, does she?" In another, her eyes fail to follow a balloon, and a voice says, "Terri, no, no. Come on." Then her eyes move, and the voice infers, "Oh, you see that, don't you, huh?" Schiavo's eyes bug out in a couple of videos, but only when her head slips—or is moved by her mother—from its resting place. A voice in the background tells her, "Good job!" The videos are agonizing not because they show a woman regaining awareness, but because they show the people around her laboring to interpret every twitch that way. In some scenes, Schiavo's mother speaks to her, kisses her, and shifts her position. The longest video, made surreptitiously by Schiavo's parents in violation of a court order, depicts them fishing for reactions. In the five-minute clip, her mother repeats one word 40 to 50 times. The word is "mommy" or "ma." When Schiavo fails to respond to a cue, her mother prods, "Look over at mommy." "Come on," she tells her daughter. "Over here," she says. "Hey." Not until the mother gets right up in the daughter's face does the daughter make a sound resembling a moan. If the daughter is expressing something about her mother, it looks as close to misery as to joy.”

So despite all this, in the eyes of the dogmatic Left, Terri Schiavo deserves to die. And all this is done in the name of a hate-filled Leftist political agenda.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Freedom vs. Slavery

The Schiavo case, in all its complexity, and despite the rhetoric, boils down to this:

Individual liberty and freedom versus utilitarian eugenics.

New York Times March 21, 2005

Congress Passes and Bush Signs Legislation on Schiavo Case

By Carl Hulse and David D. Kirkptrick
WASHINGTON, Monday, March 21 - The House early Monday gave final Congressional approval to legislation that would allow a federal court to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo, and the measure was signed quickly at the White House by President Bush, who flew back to Washington from his Texas ranch on Sunday.

Despite protests from some Democrats who accused Republicans of inappropriately injecting Congress into medical decisions related to the severely brain damaged Florida woman, the House voted 203 to 58 for the bill at the end of four tumultuous days and an emotional debate that began Sunday night at 9 and ended shortly after midnight.
Voting yes were 156 Republicans and 47 Democrats, while 53 Democrats and 5 Republicans voted no...
http://nytimes.com/2005/03/21/politics/21debate.html?hp&ex=1111467600&en=63c824cee2244482&ei=5094&partner=homepage

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Washington Post: Americans Sexually and Racially Pathological

Two weeks ago in an Atlanta courthouse, Brian Nichols went on a murderous rampage. Then he escaped, eventually taking a woman named Ashley Smith hostage. Here's the Washington Post's account: "Nichols, who was on trial for rape and on the run from allegedly killing a judge, two law enforcement officers and a court reporter, shoved Smith into her own apartment in suburban Atlanta at 2 a.m., tied her up and held her at gunpoint. During the next seven hours, while the southeastern United States was the setting for a massive manhunt broadcast on national television, the 26-year-old widow and waitress persuaded him to untie her, then to talk about God and a divine purpose to their troubled lives. She read a bit from Chapter 33 from "The Purpose-Driven Life," the best-selling Christian book by Rick Warren. The chapter is titled "How Real Servants Act" and begins, "We serve God by serving others." Smith cooked him breakfast, pancakes and eggs. And, a few hours later, he let her go and then he peacefully surrendered. Onlookers burst into applause."

BUT: That uplifting, miraculous, and utterly Christian story cannot pass muster with the WaPo editorial staff...

"Still, there are things that lie beneath the surface that are nonetheless part of the world in which we live. Smith is white, Nichols black. In the Deep South, an accused black rapist taking a white woman captive cannot help but carry the baggage of the region's -- or the nation's -- racial and sexual pathologies..."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50148-2005Mar19.html

Well, at least the WaPo editors aren't biased!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Progress?

Euthenasia Centers, Nazi Germany, 1940

Euthenasia Center, United States, 2005

Hollywood Catches Up With My Imagination

When I was a young boy--in the fabled 1960s--I used to think that it would be so cool if the Fantastic Four were real...and I guess this is the next best thing! Opens nationwide, 7-8-05.

Aktion T-4 aus Amerika, 18-03-2005

"…if there is no more power to fight for their own health, the right to live comes to an end." (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, p.282). The benefit of eliminating approximately 70,000 handicapped persons was mentioned by Hitler on the NSDAP party conference in 1929.
http://www.deathcamps.org/euthanasia/t4intro.html


Schiavo feeding tube removed
Lawyer for husband calls last-minute efforts to intervene 'thuggery'

Updated: 4:34 p.m. ET March 18, 2005
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. -

Doctors removed Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube Friday despite an extraordinary, last-minute push by Republicans on Capitol Hill to use the subpoena powers of Congress to save the severely brain-damaged woman.
Schiavo’s family issued a statement on their Web site confirming that the tube had been disconnected. It was expected to take one to two weeks for Schiavo to die, provided no one intercedes and the tube is reinserted…
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7212079/

Krauthammer Gets It Right--Again

What's Left? Shame.

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, March 18, 2005; Page A23

At his news conference on Wednesday, President Bush declined an invitation to claim vindication for his policy of spreading democracy in the Middle East. After two years of attacks on him as a historical illiterate pursuing the childish fantasy of Middle East democracy, he was entitled to claim a bit of credit. Yet he declined, partly out of modesty (as with Ronald Reagan, one of the secrets of his political success) and partly because he has learned the perils of declaring any mission accomplished.
The democracy project is, of course, just beginning. We do not yet know whether the Middle East today is Europe 1989 or Europe 1848. In 1989 we saw the swift collapse of the Soviet empire; in 1848 there was a flowering of liberal revolutions throughout Europe that, within a short time, were all suppressed.
Nonetheless, 1848 did presage the coming of the liberal idea throughout Europe. (By 1871, it had been restored to France, for example.) It marked a turning point from which there was no going back. The Arab Spring of 2005 will be noted by history as a similar turning point for the Arab world.
We do not yet know, however, whether this initial flourishing of democracy will succeed. The Syrian and Iraqi Baathists, their jihadist allies, and the various regional autocrats are quite determined to suppress it. But we do know one thing: Those who claimed, with great certainty, that Arabs are an exception to the human tendency toward freedom, that they live in a stunted and distorted culture that makes them love their chains -- and that the notion the United States could help trigger a democratic revolution by militarily deposing their oppressors was a fantasy -- have been proved wrong.
As an advocate of that notion of democratic revolution, I am not surprised that the opposing view was proved false. I am surprised only that it was proved false so quickly -- that the voters in Iraq, the people of Lebanon, the women of Kuwait, the followers of Ayman Nour in Egypt would rise so eagerly at the first breaking of the dictatorial "stability" they had so long experienced (and we had so long supported) to claim their democratic rights.
This amazing display has prompted a wave of soul-searching. When a Le Monde editorial titled "Arab Spring" acknowledges "the merit of George W. Bush," when the cover headline of London's The Independent is "Was Bush Right After All?" and when a column in Der Spiegel asks "Could George W. Bush Be Right?" you know that something radical has happened.
It is not just that the ramparts of Euro-snobbery have been breached. Iraq and, more broadly, the Bush doctrine were always more than a purely intellectual matter. The left's patronizing, quasi-colonialist view of the benighted Arabs was not just analytically incorrect. It was morally bankrupt, too.
After all, going back at least to the Spanish Civil War, the left has always prided itself on being the great international champion of freedom and human rights. And yet, when America proposed to remove the man responsible for torturing, gassing and killing tens of thousands of Iraqis, the left suddenly turned into a champion of Westphalian sovereign inviolability.
A leftist judge in Spain orders the arrest of a pathetic, near-senile Gen. Augusto Pinochet eight years after he's left office, and becomes a human rights hero -- a classic example of the left morally grandstanding in the name of victims of dictatorships long gone. Yet for the victims of contemporary monsters still actively killing and oppressing -- Khomeini and his successors, the Assads of Syria and, until yesterday, Hussein and his sons -- nothing. No sympathy. No action. Indeed, virulent hostility to America's courageous and dangerous attempt at rescue.
The international left's concern for human rights turns out to be nothing more than a useful weapon for its anti-Americanism. Jeane Kirkpatrick pointed out this selective concern for the victims of U.S. allies (such as Chile) 25 years ago. After the Cold War, the hypocrisy continues. For which Arab people do European hearts burn? The Palestinians. Why? Because that permits the vilification of Israel -- an outpost of Western democracy and, even worse, a staunch U.S. ally. Championing suffering Iraqis, Syrians and Lebanese offers no such satisfaction. Hence, silence.
Until now. Now that the real Arab street has risen to claim rights that the West takes for granted, the left takes note. It is forced to acknowledge that those brutish Americans led by their simpleton cowboy might have been right. It has no choice. It is shamed. A Lebanese, amid a sea of a million other Lebanese, raises a placard reading "Thank you, George W. Bush," and all that Euro-pretense, moral and intellectual, collapses.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A45508-2005Mar17.html

Religion of Peace, Part VII

The radio exchanges…depict a scene of chaos and previously unimagined horrors…with hellish reports of people jumping from windows, jet fuel blazing through office floors and colleagues stuck on upper floors above the fires from which there was no escape...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0308290322aug29,1,6770855

Victims jump from World Trade Center to escape flames, 9/11/01

http://www.political-comedy-central.com/wtc.html

Like omigod!


Diapers?! Eeeeeewwwww!!!

"It's this reality. Like omigod, I have to tell the maid to buy diapers and get the pool boy to walk the dog? Can't I just make out with Kevin all the time? Being married sucks."

-- Britney Spears, complaining in Allure magazine about her grueling life as a stepmother to Kevin Federline's two kids.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A45536-2005Mar17.html

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Vampirella...

In tombs of gold and lapis lazuli
Bodies of holy men and women exude
Miraculous oil, odour of violet.


But under heavy loads of trampled clay
Lie bodies of the vampires full of blood;
Their shrouds are bloody and their lips are wet.
William Butler Yeats, Oil and Blood (1933)
http://www.vampirella.com/

Religion of Peace, Part VI

AP: Terrorists Train for Seaborne Attacks

Mar 17, 5:53 PM (ET)
By JIM GOMEZ

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Two of the most dangerous al-Qaida-linked groups in Southeast Asia are working together to train militants in scuba diving for seaborne terror attacks, according to the interrogation of a recently captured guerrilla.
The ominous development is outlined in a Philippine military report obtained Thursday by The Associated Press that also notes increasing collaboration among the Muslim militants in other areas, including financing and explosives, as extremists plot new ways to strike.
In the past year, the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah has given Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines at least $18,500 for explosives training alone, the report said...

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20050317/D88T0KUO0.html

Hey Barbarella!

hey barbarella
my babe interstellar
the universe belongs to you and to me

hey barbarella

my babe psychedella
when we're together all the planets stand still
hey barbarella
my babe twisterella
the milky way is made for you and for me

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Religion of Peace, Part V

New York Times March 16, 2005

U.S. Report Lists Possibilities for Terrorist Attacks and Likely Toll
By Eric Lipton


WASHINGTON, March 15 - The Department of Homeland Security, trying to focus antiterrorism spending better nationwide, has identified a dozen possible strikes it views as most plausible or devastating, including detonation of a nuclear device in a major city, release of sarin nerve agent in office buildings and a truck bombing of a sports arena.
The document, known simply as the National Planning Scenarios, reads more like a doomsday plan, offering estimates of the probable deaths and economic damage caused by each type of attack.
They include blowing up a chlorine tank, killing 17,500 people and injuring more than 100,000; spreading pneumonic plague in the bathrooms of an airport, sports arena and train station, killing 2,500 and sickening 8,000 worldwide; and infecting cattle with foot-and-mouth disease at several sites, costing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. Specific locations are not named because the events could unfold in many major metropolitan or rural areas, the document says...

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/16/politics/16home.html?ei=5090&en=447b6571833ca6bd&ex=1268629200&partner=rssuserland&pagewanted=print&position=


A Mental Disorder Not In DSM IV (but should be)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (popularly known as DSM-IV), is published by the American Psychiatric Association and covers all mental health disorders for both children and adults. It also lists known causes of these disorders, statistics in terms of gender, age at onset, and prognosis as well as some research concerning the optimal treatment approaches. Bear this in mind as you continue reading this entry:

I have witnessed many political demonstrations in my 47 years of life, starting with the 1969 Vietnam War Moratorium that I actually participated in along with a few dozen of my fellow citizens in the small suburban town where I lived as a child. Since then, in my journey from left to right I have participated in protests which ranged from the somber--a solemn memorial for the victims of the Contras in Nicaragua (1981)--to the demented--watching many naked gay men roam about, some fondling others in broad daylight in the middle of the National Mall in Washington, DC, as RuPaul warbled her hit Supermodel from a stage outside the Capitol Building (1993). To my astonishment, I even witnessed a nude woman marching down New York’s Fifth Avenue in the midst of the 1994 Pride (Gay Rights) Parade, pausing outside Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for the sole purpose of mooning the shocked and appalled parishioners exiting the Church after Mass--and all this was done to the cheers and whistles and hollers of support from hundreds of marchers and sympathetic onlookers. Do I detect a pattern here?
For at least a decade the prevailing mood at leftist anti-war, pro-abortion, whatever, protest rallies has been one of street festival--sort of like a communist Mardi Gras. Giant papier mache puppets, protesters dressed as clowns, pierced-branded-and tattooed children of privilege leading Grand Guignol-like parades while crashing garbage can lids together and pounding on empty buckets…scenes like these are de rigueur at any respectable hate, er, protest rally.
I recently came across a photo of a protest staged outside the White House in 1965 by the Mattachine Society, the first major political group dedicated to the expansion of Gay Rights. What is striking is that in the photo the protesters—both men and women—are dressed neatly in shirts, ties, and dresses. This sort of decorum would be wildly out of place at today’s protests.
The fervor, the anger, the noise making and screaming, the sheer out-of-control lunacy of today’s protests marks them as a new development in the leftist world, and in leftist history. Street protests are common currency in the world of leftist discourse, whether the SDS riots in Chicago (1968) or the Paris Spring revolts of that same year, or any number of others. But only in the past decade has the typical leftist street protest/mass rally begun to resemble a collective temper tantrum.
For that is what it is—a collective temper tantrum. 25 years after the ascendance of the “Me Generation” and the politics of Personal Identity, and 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the Americo-European Left has become an outlet more for the bizarre paraphilias of its members than a serious political force. In a time when Gay Rights Marches resemble BDSM scenarios and Anti-War Rallies have the look and feel of Punk Rock concerts, the organized Left is sweeping itself into the “dustbin of history”.

This article, written by John J. Ray, goes a long way to explaining this phenomenon. Ray makes a plausible case that the politics of the Left are rooted in a form of psychological disorder. Here is an excerpt:

What Are Leftists?

By John J. Ray FrontPageMagazine.com | June 20, 2002
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=1226

“…Psychological Leftism

It is submitted here that the major psychological reason why Leftists so zealously criticize the existing order and advocate change is in order to feed a pressing need for self-inflation and ego-boosting -- and ultimately for power, the greatest ego boost of all. They need public attention; they need to demonstrate outrage; they need to feel wiser and kinder and more righteous than most of their fellow man. They fancy for themselves the heroic role of David versus Goliath. They need to show that they are in the small club of the virtuous and the wise so that they can nobly instruct and order about their less wise and less virtuous fellow-citizens. Their need is a pressing need for attention, for self-advertisement and self-promotion -- generally in the absence of any real claims in that direction. They are intrinsically unimportant people who need to feel important and who are aggrieved at their lack of recognition and power. One is tempted to hypothesize that, when they were children, their mothers didn’t look when they said, "Mummy, look at me".

This means that the "warm inner glow" that they obtain from their advocacy and agitation is greatly prized. So it is no wonder that anything which threatens to disturb it -- such as mere facts -- is determinedly ignored. This view of Leftism as a club of the righteous that must never be disturbed or threatened is explored in detail by Warby (2002). See also Ridley (2002) for a brief account of the way Lomborg’s findings were greeted primarily by abuse rather than by any serious attempt at refutation.

And, of course, people who themselves desperately want power, attention and praise envy with a passion those who already have that. Businessmen, "the establishment", rich people, upper class people, powerful politicians and anybody who helps perpetuate the existing order in any way are seen by the Leftist as obstacles to him having what he wants. They are all seen as automatically "unworthy" compared to his own great virtues and claims on what they already have. "Why should they have...?" is the Leftist’s implicit cry -- and those who share that cry have an understanding of one-another that no rational argument could achieve and that no outsider can ever share.

Envy is a very common thing and most of us have probably at some time envied someone but, for someone with the Leftist’s strong ego needs, envy becomes a hatred and a consuming force that easily accounts for the ferocious brutality of Communist movements and the economically destructive policies (such as punitively high taxation, price controls and over-regulation generally) employed by Leftists in resolutely democratic societies. So the economic destruction and general impoverishment typically brought about by Leftists is not as irrational as it at first seems. The Leftist actually wants that. Making others poorer is usually an infinitely higher priority for him than doing anybody any good. One suspects that most individual Leftists realize that no revolution or social transformation is ever going to put them personally into a position of wealth or power so the destruction of the wealth and power and satisfaction of those who already have it must be the main thing they hope to get out of supporting Leftist politics. For a fuller account of the enormously destructive nature of envy see Schoeck (1969).

Whether or not someone is important, rich, successful, famous etc., is however of course very much a matter of individual perception. If many of the world’s most famous sports stars were introduced to me, for instance, I might well in all innocence proceed to ask them; "And what do you do for a living?" And while Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is my personal hero, there are many, even in academe, who would never have heard of the Mahatma. This "relativity" of importance, prestige etc. would seem to explain why many active Leftists are in fact college or university professors. College or university professor is a generally high status occupation that provides an above-average income so might, on the face of it, be seen as already providing considerable recognition and praise. But if status is precisely why certain people have gone to the considerable trouble generally required to enter that occupation, it could well be that the ego need of that person is so big that even more recognition is then craved. A college professorship may be prestigious but still be seen as providing far too little power, public exposure and opportunity for self-display. "Seeing I am so smart, I should be running the whole show", is an obvious line of thought for such people. Just some power and fame is still not enough power and fame for them.

The need for self-display does however in most people tend to decline as they mature -- which is part of the reason why graduates tend to be less radical than students and why older people tend to be much more conservative than young people (Ray, 1985). To misquote Lenin (1952) only slightly, much of Leftism would appear to be "an infantile disorder".

And nothing above, of course, is meant to suggest that pressing ego needs, self-righteousness etc are confined to Leftists. It is merely meant to say that Leftism is the principal political expression of such needs. Such needs can also be met by religion etc. and it must be noted that Communism was often described as a religion by its critics. Why people choose politics rather than some other means of meeting their ego needs would have to be the subject of a whole new enquiry but it seems possible that the potentially very broad exposure that politics provides to an individual might attract the people with the very highest ego needs. This high level of ego need among Leftists would also explain the generally much greater political activism of the political Left compared to the rather somnolent political Right.

It would also explain why Leftists so often have a "spare me the details" or "Don’t worry about the facts" orientation. For most Leftists, it is the activism itself rather than what is advocated that is the main point of the exercise. As long as the cause advocated is both generally praiseworthy and disruptive to implement, that will suffice. The insincerity of the Leftist is of course an abiding theme in the many writings of Ayn Rand (e.g. Rand, 1957) -- who sees the hunger for power as the real motivation behind everything that the Leftist does…”

Hitler Demoted

The existing Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem has been given a post-modern revisionist makeover (The Holocaust at Human Scale -- New Museum in Jerusalem Reflects Change in Israelis' Perspective on Tragedy -- By Molly Moore, Washington Post Foreign Service, Wednesday, March 16, 2005; Page A16 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36823-2005Mar15.html). Taking an (unacknowledged) cue from Daniel Goldhagen's 1997 book Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, the museum now emphasizes the role played by large numbers of bureaucrats rather than just the Nazi leadership in fomenting the European Jewish Holocaust. This quasi-Marxist tactic (class analysis) is, of course, common in leftist circles (and the academic Holocaust memorial establishment is most certainly leftist in politics). Says Dan Michman, chief historian at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum: "Forty or fifty years ago, we tended to put the emphasis on Hitler as being a grand architect who designed everything and gave orders," said historian Michman. "We now know he was important, but he only set the framework. The collaboration of many spheres in the bureaucracy and among the German and European population was the major reason why so many people could have been exterminated."

God help us all.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Most Important Sites in Cyberspace--Really

Jihad Watch
http://jihadwatch.org/

Dhimmi Watch
http://jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/

The Middle East Media Research Institute
http://memri.org/

"Fight against such as those to whom the Scriptures were given [Jews and Christians]...until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued." (Koran, Surah 9:29)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Teenage Haiku, 1973

Frequently depressed
as a boy: because I played
Days of Future Passed


Breathe deep, the gathering gloom...

Shocking, Unbelievable, Incredible, Earth-Shattering, Mind-Blowing News: MSM Biased Against Bush

Study Shows U.S. Election Coverage Harder on Bush

Mon Mar 14,10:01 AM ET
By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. media coverage of last year's election was three times more likely to be negative toward President Bush than Democratic challenger John Kerry according to a study released Monday.
The annual report by a press watchdog that is affiliated with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism said that 36 percent of stories about Bush were negative compared to 12 percent about Kerry, a Massachusetts senator.

Only 20 percent were positive toward Bush compared to 30 percent of stories about Kerry that were positive, according to the report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The study looked at 16 newspapers of varying size across the country, four nightly newscasts, three network morning news shows, nine cable programs and nine Web sites through the course of 2004…

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=564&ncid=564&e=2&u=/nm/20050314/ts_nm/media_report_dc

Revealed: Israel plans strike on Iranian nuclear plant

March 13, 2005

By: Uzi Mahnaimi The Times of London

ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans for a combined air and ground attack on targets in Iran if diplomacy fails to halt the Iranian nuclear programme.
The inner cabinet of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, gave “initial authorisation” for an attack at a private meeting last month on his ranch in the Negev desert.
Israeli forces have used a mock-up of Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant in the desert to practise destroying it. Their tactics include raids by Israel’s elite Shaldag (Kingfisher) commando unit and airstrikes by F-15 jets from 69 Squadron, using bunker-busting bombs to penetrate underground facilities...

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-1522978,00.html


Orthodoxy Under Attack (for the past 150 years)

As we approach Holy Week, it is a good time to see what it means, historically, to be a Christian. Popular fads come and go (see article by self-styled “born-again Christian” and left-wng radical Jim Wallis, below), but as the psalmist wrote, “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9, KJV. For almost 1,600 years the parameters of orthodox Christianity were defined by a small number of creeds, chief among them the Nicene Creed.

The Nicene Creed, or the Icon/Symbol of the Faith, is a Christian statement of faith accepted by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, and major Protestant churches. It gets its name from the First Council of Nicaea (325 AD), at which it was adopted and from the First Council of Constantinople (381AD), at which a revised version was accepted. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed).

Here is the full text of the Nicene Creed:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

One hundred and fifty years ago a new movement arose in thee social upheaval attendant with the United States’ rapid industrialization. It was a secular socialistic movement whose founders cloaked their new ideas in the mantle of Christianity. This is what is today known as the Social Gospel Movement. How this previously unheard of amalgamation of Gospel truth and the utopian social mysticism of Fourier and Saint-Simon came to be lies in large part in the fact that in 19th Century America Protestant theologians were the most credible public thinkers. It seems bizarre to us today, but a century and a half ago the tone of public discourse was set by eminent preachers such as Henry Ward Beecher. So, it is entirely plausible to imagine why these proto-socialists would adopt the demeanor and trappings of such men—it gave them automatic credibility among the burgeoning middle-class and thus an outlet for their new ideas. Wikipedia puts it succinctly: “The phrase Social Gospel refers to a liberal movement within American Protestantism that attempted to apply biblical teachings to problems associated with industrialization. It took form during the latter half of the 19th cent. under the leadership of Washington Gladden and Walter Rauschenbusch, who feared the isolation of religion from the working class. They believed in social progress and the essential goodness of humanity. The views of the Social Gospel movement were given formal expression in 1908 when the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America adopted what was later called “the social creed of the churches.” Advocated in the creed were the abolition of child labor, better working conditions for women, one day off during the week, and the right of every worker to a living wage. With the rise of the organized labor movement in the early 20th cent. the Social Gospel movement lost much of its appeal as an independent force. However, many of its ideals were later embodied in the New Deal legislation of the 1930s.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Gospel)

Nowhere in the Social Gospel movement is found anything resembling a historic creed of Christianity. In fact, by positing that man is an inherently good and ethical creature, and that man is justified by works alone, the Social Gospel preachers flew in the face of 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy: See, for two of myriad examples, Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” and Ephesians 2:7-9: “7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9not by works, so that no one can boast.”

This entire concept is absent from the 19th Century origins of the Social Gospel movement, just as it is in today’s manifestation.

The Social Gospel movement is on one hand a primitive sort of non-scientific socialism, steeped in a weak “do-goodism” and thus ideal for today’s sentimental leftist romantics who find this sort of thing appealing. On the other hand, the Social Gospel movement is a Christian heresy, due not to it’s emphasis on a mawkish “can’t we all just get along” ideas, but, rather, to it’s insistence in the non-sinful nature of man and the validity of salvation through works.

As traditional American—indeed, all Western—culture withers away with alarming speed, so too disintegrates traditional Western Christian culture. It can be said with certainty that Social Gospel tenets have all but replaced the historical traditions of the Mainline Protestant and Catholic churches in the United States. The reasons for this are complex and will be the subject of a future post in this blog. So it is with sadness and sorrow that we read the article below, from the left-wing AlterNet web site. To atheists, deists, left-wingers, nominal Christians, liberals, Communists, Socialists and radicals of all stripes what the author writes seems good, fair, and “compassionate”. It may be many things. But it is not Christian:

What Jesus Wouldn’t Do

By Jim Wallis, AlterNet

Posted on March 9, 2005,http://www.alternet.org/story/21428/

The politics of Jesus is a problem for the religious right.

In Matthew’s 25th chapter, Jesus speaks of the hungry, the homeless, the stranger, prisoners, and the sick and promises he will challenge all his followers on the judgment day with these words, “As you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.” James Forbes, the pastor of Riverside Church in New York City, concludes from that text that, “Nobody gets to heaven without a letter of reference from the poor!” How many of America’s most famous television preachers could produce the letter?

The hardest saying of Jesus and perhaps the most controversial in our post–Sept. 11 world must be: “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.” Let’s be honest: How many churches in the United States have heard sermons preached from either of these Jesus texts in the years since America was viciously attacked on that world-changing September morning in 2001? Shouldn’t we at least have a debate about what the words of Jesus mean in the new world of terrorist threats and pre-emptive wars?

Christ commands us to not only see the splinter in our adversary’s eye but also the beams in our own, which often obstruct our own vision. To name the face of evil in the brutality of terrorist attacks is good theology, but to say they are evil and we are good is bad theology that can lead to dangerous foreign policy. Christ instructs us to love our enemies, which does not mean a submission to their hostile agendas or domination, but does mean treating them as human beings also created in the image of God and respecting their human rights as adversaries and even as prisoners. The words of Jesus are either authoritative for Christians, or they are not. And they are not set aside by the very real threats of terrorism. The threat of terrorism does not overturn Christian ethics.

The issue here is not partisan politics, and there are no easy political solutions. The governing party has increasingly struck a religious tone in an aggressive foreign policy that seems much more nationalist than Christian, while the opposition party has offered more confusion than clarity. In any election we choose between very imperfect choices. Yet it is always important to examine what is at stake prayerfully and theologically.

This examination among evangelicals became clear in the 2004 Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility, an unprecedented call to social action from the National Association of Evangelicals. In contrast to the Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson era, evangelicals are now showing moral leadership in the fight against global poverty, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, and sustainability of God’s earth.

These changes represent both a reaction against overt partisanship and a desire to apply Christian ethics to a broader set of issues. Many people of faith have grown weary of the religious right’s attempts to narrow the moral litmus test to abortion and gay marriage. For example, when likely voters were asked in a 2004 poll whether they would rather hear a candidate’s position on poverty or on gay marriage, 75 percent chose poverty. Only 17 percent chose gay marriage. Any serious reading of the Bible points toward poverty as a religious issue, and candidates should always be asked by Christian voters how they will treat “the least of these.” Stewardship of God’s earth is clearly a question of Christian ethics. Truth telling is also a religious issue that should be applied to a candidate’s rationales for war, tax cuts, or any other policy, as is humility in avoiding the language of “righteous empire,” which too easily confuses the roles of God, church, and nation.

War, of course, is also a deeply theological matter. The near unanimous opinion of religious leaders worldwide that the Iraq war failed to fit “just war” criteria is an issue for many Christians, especially as the warnings from religious leaders have proved prophetically and tragically accurate. The “plagues of war,” as the pope has referred to the continuing problems in Iraq, are in part a consequence of a “Christian president” simply not listening to the counsel of religious leaders who tried to speak to the White House. What has happened to the “consistent ethic of life,” suggested by Catholic social teaching, which speaks against abortion, capital punishment, poverty, war, and a range of human rights abuses too often selectively respected by pro-life advocates?

The religious right’s grip on public debates about values has been driven in part by a media that continues to give airtime to the loudest religious voices, rather than the most representative, leaving millions of Christians and other people of faith without a say in the values debate. But this is starting to change as progressive and prophetic faith voices are speaking out with a confidence and moral urgency not seen for 25 years. Mobilized by human suffering in many places, groups motivated by religious social conscience (including many evangelicals not defined by the religious right) have hit a new stride in efforts to combat poverty, destructive wars, human rights violations, pandemics like HIV/AIDS, and genocide in places like Sudan.

In politics, the best interest of the country is served when the prophetic voice of religion is heard—challenging both right and left from consistent moral ground. The evangelical Christians of the 19th century combined revivalism with social reform and helped lead movements for abolition and women’s suffrage—not to mention the faith-based movement that directly preceded the rise of the religious right, namely the American civil rights movement led by the black churches.

The truth is that most of the important movements for social change in America have been fueled by religion—progressive religion. The stark moral challenges of our time have once again begun to awaken this prophetic tradition. As the religious Right loses influence, nothing could be better for the health of both church and society than a return of the moral center that anchors our nation in a common humanity. If you listen, these voices can be heard rising again.

© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/21428/

Sunday, March 13, 2005

What Took So Long?

Let's suppose for a moment that these Islamic clerics' motives are pure and not a prophylactic measure against anti-Muslim sentiment on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Madrid slaughter...what took them so long? And why haven't the tens of millions of other "Muslim Clerics" in the world also done so?

Bin Laden fatwa as Spain remembers
MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Muslim clerics in Spain have issued what they called the world's first fatwa, or Islamic edict, against Osama bin Laden as the country marked the first anniversary of the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people.

They accused him of abandoning his religion and urged others of their faith to denounce the al Qaeda leader, who is believed to be hiding out near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
The ruling was issued by the Islamic Commission of Spain, the main body representing the country's 1 million-member Muslim community. The commission invited imams to condemn terrorism at Friday prayers.
The fatwa said that according to the Koran "the terrorist acts of Osama bin Laden and his organization al Qaeda ... are totally banned and must be roundly condemned as part of Islam." (Full story)
The action took place on the eve of the first anniversary of the country's worst-ever terror attack -- which many observers have coined as Europe's 9/11, a reference to the al Qaeda attacks on the United States in 2001.
More than 1,500 people were injured when 10 backpack bombs exploded on packed commuter trains on March 11, 2004...

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/03/11/madrid.anniversary/index.html


Saturday, March 12, 2005

White Kittens

I couldn't stop laughing when I saw and heard this!
http://www.rathergood.com/punk_kittens/

Fell in love wth a cat...