Dr. Forbush Thinks

Look at the world through the eyes of Dr. Forbush. He leads you through politics, religion and science asking questions and attempting to answer them....

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Monday, January 31, 2005

More On Paul and Jesus

Jesus never said anything one way or another about homosexuality. On the other hand Paul did. I received a comment from someone who claimed that because Paul talked with Jesus on the Road to Damascus he has the authority to proclaim homosexuality a sin. Could any one imagine the conversation that Jesus and Paul had?

Jesus: Hey Paul! Stop persecuting my followers.

Paul: Right On Jesus, I didn’t realize how powerful you were until you knocked me off my horse.

Jesus: By the way, I forgot a few things while I was preaching. I forgot to tell everyone that we no longer need to circumcise males. And, go around and promote my words all around the world, because this is the only real religion. Oh, and don’t forget to make sure everyone knows that homosexuality is forbidden. But, it OK to eat pork now, because pigs are cleaner than they were back in the old days. And, don’t forget to have women understand that they are to obey their husbands. And, make sure they are treated differently in places of worship so that they know their place.

Paul: Right On Jesus I will write some letters to a bunch of churches and make sure that everyone knows this.

My feeling is that the issue of homosexuality is clouded by cultural bias. It is clouded by the nature of human sexuality. Obviously our culture is very sensitive to the whole issue of sex in general.

In the light of scientific research that says that homosexuals do not choose to be homosexuals it would be hard to imagine that God would torture people by making them be attracted to the same sex and then making a rule against acting on it. My God is not evil like that. People choose not to have sex with each until they commit themselves to each other. Why wouldn't this apply to any sexual orientation?

True Values

This weekend while sitting in church listening to the sermon I was inspired. This isn’t the first time time I’ve been inspired and hopefully not the last. For why else would I go to church except for the occasion to be inspired. The subject was on values and the comment was “we all have values. We know what our personal values are, because these are the issues that provoke emotion in us.” He went on to give examples, like a person who gets angry when he sees a scratch on his car. Or and person who really cares when they see a person begging on the street. Not only that, but our values can actually be ordered by the strength of our emotional response. For example, if the scratch on the car provoked more anger than the sadness provoked by the poor beggar we realize that our own material goods may score higher on our values index than our care for the poor.

After listening to this I began to wonder how this emotional response quotient could be used to measure the two political parties. Since the Republicans are claiming to be the party of values, just what are these values? The Republicans also claim that the Democrats don’t have values. So, does that mean that Democrats are not emotional beings? So, lets compare these two parties and the values they demonstrate.

First of all we need to look at the things that evoke emotions in each of the parties and why those emotions are evoked. We need to go beyond the words that are spoken, because each of the parties evokes strong emotions by their use of spin, deception and lies. Each party gets angry when they hear the other party distort the facts. This is because each party believes that the values of their party supercede the value of truth. This is clear and I won’t argue about it.

Beside deception what really makes Democrats angry? There are quite a few I will list here, and there are surely many that will be left off this list, but the point is to find the values that underlie the collection of issues. First there is the war in Iraq. Then there is the destruction of the environment by corporations. There are also the social issues of helping the poor, health care for the sick and equality for all. But, what makes Democrats so angry about the war in Iraq? I would claim that the waste of life is number-one on the list, and the waste of money would be second. Why does the destruction of the environment anger the average Democrat? I would contend that it is the waste of life in the forest for the profit of a corporation. And why is health care important? The lack of treatment for those who can’t afford it often leads to death. What about helping the poor? Helping the poor increases the dignity for these people. Corporations easily exploit people who lack dignity. In fact improving the dignity of all humans regardless of race by promoting equality also increases the dignity for all.

So, the Democratic values at the very heart of all these important issues tend to value life and human dignity above other values. Life? But what about abortion? The Republicans tell the world that they are the party of life, because they want a law against abortion. Well, actually many Democrats would not be able to bring themselves or a family member to have an abortion. But, this does not mean that a law against abortion would save more lives. This is because many black market abortions would continue to be performed regardless of the law. This is just like the drug laws – they do not prevent people from taking drugs. In addition to this many women will try to induce miscarriages with sometimes-fatal results. It is quite possible that an abortion law could actually increase the number of human deaths instead of decrease the number. If the Republicans actually valued life, then they would promote birth control methods which would reduce the number of abortions. They would promote assistance for pregnant women to make the fear of being a single mother more bearable and less fear provoking.

So, lets look at the issues the Republicans fight for. They want tax cuts for the wealthy. They want to prevent homosexuals from getting married. They want to pass abortion laws. They want corporations to use natural resources at very little cost. They want to cut spending on social programs. They promote America as the ideal culture and minimize other cultures. Like I said, there are many more issues but any other issue will most likely support the underlying values of the Republican Party.

So, why do Republicans get so angry about taxes? This is because Republicans value material possessions above any social programs. What about abortion laws and their opposition to birth control? This stems from the value of punishing the sinful. This value is based on the idea that anyone who is pregnant and doesn’t want to be pregnant must have sinned. If they sinned, then they deserve to be punished by being forced to raise a child. This same idea of punishment to the sinful extends to the idea of homosexual marriage. Republicans believe that marriage is a privilege and homosexuality is a sin. Therefore rewarding a sin with a privilege goes against their value of sin and punishment. Also, Republicans value creating wealth above the value of environment. Republicans value American culture above any other culture from around the world. Therefore, learning from other cultures tends to be difficult with this value.

If we look at these values we can see that material possessions and punishing the sinful are certainly the top values of the Republican Party.

So, what were Jesus’ values? Since the Republicans tend to claim a mandate from God, we would expect that Jesus’ values and the Republican values would be close if not identical. Jesus’ values would be written in the Bible and it should be obvious, because whenever Jesus’ emotions are evoked we would know that he is taking about his values, or acting on them. Well, the only time he really got angry was when he attacked the moneychangers in the Temple. This was because these people were disrespecting God by selling things in the Temple. Jesus certainly valued God above money. So, if we rank the Republican values as punishing the sinful first and material possessions second then maybe they are still in line with Jesus.

But, there was the story about the crowd taking the adulterous woman out to be stoned. Jesus saved her by telling the people that the man without sin should throw the first stone. All of the people left and Jesus forgave her. So, I am guessing that punishing the sinful wouldn’t be very high on His value list.

So, what were Jesus’ values? Well, we know this because the apostles asked Jesus this what He thought was the greatest commandment (Mat 22:36 - 40) He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

It funny, but I don’t see material possessions on this list. I don’t see tax cuts for the wealthy. I don’t see punish the sinners. I do see “Love God” and “Love thy neighbour.” Now, which parties values are closer to Jesus’ values?

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Mind of the Man

The administration seems to have a selective memory when it comes to history. A lawyer for the administration told an interviewer yesterday why the actions of the CIA, military and administration was justified under the international laws that exist today. As I listened to this I sat in shock and wondered how an administration that was reinstated under the guise of moral values could step around the law in such a way to accomplish justification for such unchristian activities.

A few of the legal justifications boggle my mind. For example, in Afghanistan, a sovereign country that signed the Geneva Convention, the administration claimed that Taliban fighters did not qualify for the provisions of the Geneva Convention. The lawyer reasoned that the Taliban fighters did not wear uniforms with insignia, and therefore should not be afforded rights of prisoners. The administration lawyer said that these fighters were dishonorable for not wearing uniforms and hiding among the civilians.

Of course the first thing that flashed into my mind was the American Revolutionary War. The American colonists did not wear uniforms and fought in what the British considered unfair methods. Would this administration say that the American Revolutionaries were dishonorable? Should we give control of our country back to the British because we won our battle by dishonorable means?

Obviously, the Taliban was at a great disadvantage. In these circumstances the Taliban was bound to use every method conceivable to fight for it’s cause. The Taliban believed that God sent down its mandate. Even when we all most certainly disagree with the Human Rights violations of this regime, should we violate Human Rights to prove our point?

The administration certainly doesn’t understand the mind of its enemy. If you want to win the battle for the hearts and minds of the enemy, then you should certainly understand the hearts and minds of the enemy as they exist today. However, with the administration populated by Fundamentalist Christians they should certainly understand why a terrorist would give his life for a cause. After all, Christians worship Jesus because he gave his own life for his cause. He was put to death for his beliefs. Every time a suicide bomber kills himself in the name of his cause the followers to remark, “This cause must certainly be important if this guy was willing to give his life for it.” The death of each terrorist makes the movement stronger with every attack. It isn’t about how many people he kills, although that offers frustration to their enemy, its about power of their cause.

Maybe if the administration would put itself in the mind of an early American Revolutionary trying to win independence from the overpowering British empire. Maybe if they were to understand the power that giving one’s life for a cause has. Then maybe they could figure out how to win the hearts and mind of the terrorists and the Arab world.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Auschwitz – Who Cares?

Dear Peaceful Nation,

Brothers and Sisters, you may wonder why it is important to look back on the evils of times past. You may wonder why we should care about something that happened 60 years ago. You may look at our country and feel confident that such evils and atrocities could never happen where and when we live. But, this is why we need to remember that evil does happen.

If we look back a little further than 60 years ago we can ask ourselves how could this happen. Did the German people possess some evil in their genes that made them vulnerable to the evil that was later perpetrated? If they did, how do we know that we don’t possess that evil in our own genes? But, once you begin to accuse the genes of the German people you actually fall into the same trap that these people found themselves in over 60 years ago. This is because evil has nothing to do with our genes and we need to understand this as a lesson from the past.

So, if genes play no role in behavior, then how does evil come into being? Since it can happen anywhere, what should we be aware of to prevent that evil from taking root in our society before it is to late?

We should recall that before Hitler came to power in Germany a form of Democracy existed in Germany. People could choose their leaders by voting, and they did. But all was not peaceful in the 1930s. Inflation, unemployment, and poverty were everywhere. People wanted to work, but companies could not afford to hire anyone. People didn’t have money to pay for the products that companies made. And, because of all this people were afraid. Fear took hold, because no one knew where his or her next meal would come from.

When people are afraid they begin to look for relief. They don’t want to be afraid. But, the solution isn’t always obvious. People wanted to work, but there were not enough jobs. People began to blame “the others” for their woes. “The others”, is a term meaning anyone outside of one’s circle of friends and family. It is often easy to blame “the others” for our fears. It makes us feel like it isn’t our fault; it is the fault of “the others.”

In Germany “the others” where the Jews. The Jews were a mystery to most Germans who only dealt with them when doing business. The Jews suffered as much as anyone else in Germany during this time, but this minority proved an easy scapegoat to bash when one was feeling frustrated with the situation. It turns out that hatred can be used to fight fear.

So, when a leader finally emerged in Munich who told everyone he could solve the nation’s problems people were willing to listen. They liked the idea that he could calm their fears. They liked the idea that he could improve the economy. He rose to power, and he put people back to work. But, he also stoked the fire of hatred to fight the fear, and he continued to use fear to maintain his power. Power was sucked out of the Democracy, because weak leaders ceded their power in the goal of saving the nation. In a blink of an eye a Democracy was turned into a totalitarian regime.

What does that have to do with us today in our peaceful nation? How could this evil ever come to our land?

Over ten years ago when I was living in Germany I saw first hand how this evil could rise again. When the Berlin wall fell many East Germans sought life in the old West Germany. They came to Hamburg, where I lived, seeking work, and fortunes. Many families arrived. At the same time families were also leaving Croatia and Bosnia where a war was being fought. A park near my house became a refuge camp for some of these people. Standard shipping containers were converted into homes for these people.

How do you think the people of Hamburg reacted to this? Most people felt sorry for all these people. However, many of the youth began to resent the special aid these people receiving. They began a movement with the hatred of these people, “the others,” at the heart of their ideology. We experienced this hatred first hand on the trains in Hamburg. These youths would board the train and yell at us to speak only in German. “Sprech Deutsch! Du bist in Deutschland,” they would say. They used fear to enforce their ideas.

Fortunately, the government and the majority of the people in Germany did not agree with the sentiments of these youth. But among a minority of people this hatred still exists.

When fear is used to take power hatred is used to maintain it. These things happen all the time, they may even happen in your peaceful nation. People in your peaceful nation may demand power and create fear to gain that power. The fear can come in many forms. Classes of people may be singled out and turned into scapegoats. The opposition may be personally demeaned with lies and untruths. One group may rise to power and proclaim “the others” as unclean. This can happen in so many different ways that when it does the majority will be caught off guard. This is when the nation is at greatest risk. This is why the story of the rise of evil in Germany needs to be remembered forever. If this history isn’t remembered, then nations will be doomed to repeat it again and again.


Remembering the Wannsee Conference and the Liberation of Auschwitz

"This article is posted in response to the January 27, 2005, BlogBurst (see list in the side column), to remember the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, sixty years ago, on January 27, 1945.

On January 20th, we marked the anniversary of the 1942 Wannsee Conference. In the course of that Conference, the Nazi hierarchy formalized the plan to annihilate the Jewish people. Understanding the horrors of Auschwitz requires that one be aware of the premeditated mass-murder that was presented at Wannsee.

Highlighting these events now has become particularly important, even as the press reports that '45% of Britons have never heard of Auschwitz' (Jerusalem Post, December 2, 2004,link).

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


I would like to thank all my readers who contributed to crossing the 50,000 hit number. Whether it was 50 people who actually read my blog 1000 times each or 1000 people who read it 50 times each it seems amazing to have that much interest in what I have written.

For those of you who may have been wondering I started a blog at drforbush.blogspot.com more than a year ago. I posted to it two or three times and forgot about it. I then started a second blog in March 2004 at drforbush.tblog.com. At this site I have post just about every weekday and occasionally on the weekend since then. Last month I began to post the same posts at tblog, blogspot and a new site: blogspirit. I also added a counter to the blogspot site last month. So, I added up the totals and found:

tblog – 44000+
blogspot – 2300+
blogspirit – 3700+

And, totaling all of them together we crossed the 50,000 hit mark.

Thanks again!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Conservative Paul vs. Liberal Jesus

Conservative Paul vs. Liberal Jesus

Conservative Christians have one thing in common, they all put heavy weight on the letters of Saint Paul. This is because Saint Paul is a very conservative writer. For example, if you wonder why conservatives allow other ideas to supercede the teachings of Jesus you will find the answers in the letters of Saint Paul.

On Friday I had an interesting discussion with a member of the Church of Christ. He claims that he is not a Fundamentalist Christian, but he offers no leeway his arguments. This is an interesting stand, but it doesn’t really matter for this argument.

Our friend claims the following argument

“1. We are amenable only to the law we live under.
2. But we live only under the New Testament.
3. Therefore, we are amenable only to the New Testament.”

Actually, he said, “" The Christian is amenable solely to the law of Christ (cf. Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:21), what James described as the "perfect law of liberty."” This Law of Christ is the law of love, not the whole New Testament. They are not equal.

Somehow our friend has determined magically that all of the letters of Paul have equal weight as the four Gospels of the New Testament. This is interesting, because even Paul doesn’t believe that his writings are that important.

If we look at 1 Corinthians, Chapter 1 we see that Paul says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”

So, Paul is saying that there are Christians who disagree with him and he understands this. He is saying that it doesn’t matter, because all Christians are Baptized under Christ not Paul. In other words, if two Christians disagree they should both look at the teachings of Christ to reconcile their positions. And, I am a Christian who disagrees with Paul’s interpretation of homosexuality and I believe Jesus is telling us that we should all love one another. If a person should use hate to divide the community, which is especially the case under this interpretation of Paul’s the unity of the community is more important than the issue.

Wow, Paul was smart. He said not to take everything he wrote as the law. He says that Jesus should be the touchstone to understanding. He said that he only preaches what Jesus’ has said. He understands that his ideas are flawed by his cultural experience and subject to re-interpretation. So, Paul has the best interest of the Christian community at heart. This is wonderful.

What this means is that the various Christian communities that are divided should exert their efforts in trying to re-unite the Christian churches and not waste their time on issues that are dividing the Christian community.

It’s too bad that we don’t know what the issues were that Cephas and Apollos were preaching that differed with Paul. If we did, we would have a better understanding of what things Paul would be willing to compromise on.

Friday, January 21, 2005


For those of you who don’t know, Technorati is a real-time web search engine focused on blogs. It is quite interesting, but I really don’t quite understand how it works. You can search your blog URL and find the blogs that are linked to your blog. You can search for words, and it returns blogs with those words in the content.

But, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. My tblog blog has many more postings on it than any other blog. It doesn’t list any of the links between tblog accounts. My blogspot blog has actually been around longer than my tblog account, but has much fewer posts, because I neglected it after I found tblog. My blogspirit blog is my newest blog and has been around for about two weeks.

In the last two weeks I have posted the same posting to all three blogs. Blogspirit has far more links listed than the other two. But, I always link the three together from each posting, because they are blogrolled. But, I am still confused as to how this all works.

In addition to this I am able to find out who is quoting and misquoting my posts. Its funny how some people disable their comment feature when you post a correction to what they say about your postings.

Fundamentalist Christian Hypocrisy

Fundamentalist Christian Hypocrisy

Someone was reading some of my old posts and left an anonymous comment on the blog. I responded even though I assumed that they wouldn’t be reading my blog again. The commenter was a Fundamentalist Christian with the Bible memorized. The original post talked about the inconsistency of “so-called” Fundamentalist Christians. If these people are so fundamentalist then everything from the Bible should be observed. I was arguing that the Law of Love: “Love God above all others and love your neighbor as yourself.” was way more important than whether you are saved through Christ or some other means. Of course, this idea is the foundation of Fundamental Christianity. Being “born again” out ranks anything else in their faith.

So, I said that this is only mentioned in John. I was wrong, because this guy said it was also mentioned in Paul’s letter to Timothy. However, the point is, that if Jesus thought it was so important wouldn’t every writer mention it, and in Paul’s case, harp on it?

This guy tells me that the number of times it is mentioned is irrelevant of the importance of the message. This seems completely unreasonable to me, but he used the argument that whatever message is sent by God’s holy messenger must be true regardless of how often it is mention, regardless of the context.

So, I asked, if this is true, why do Christians eat pork? Why don’t they follow all the Old Testament Laws?

He responded that “The Christian is amenable solely to the law of Christ (cf. Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:21), what James described as the ‘perfect law of liberty.’” This law of course is the Law of Love as I stated above. So, first of all he proved for me that the “Love of Love” is more important than the “Born Again” rule stated in John. He also pointed out that homosexuality is an “old law” that doesn’t need to be followed any more.

He was quite clever with his knowledge of the Bible. He was a little weak on understanding it though...

They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love

This is the title of a song they sing in my church. I know, some of you may think that I don’t go to church, but you would be quite wrong. I have gone to Church nearly every weekend of my entire life. I recall one weekend when I missed church a while back, it turned out to be very close to the day the Pope died. I didn’t attend church that weekend, because I was riding on a 36-hour bus trip from Cleveland, Ohio to Fort Collins, Colorado.

So, when I hear attacks on my ideas and thoughts centered on some strange notion of what Jesus may or may not have said I take it to heart. There is a deeper understanding of the message that Jesus preached that goes beyond many of the issues that the Fundamentalist Christians have decided to concentrate. You would think that Jesus proclaimed that tax cuts for the wealthy was a number one priority based on the rhetoric of the Religious right. When did Jesus say countries should go around invading countries killing civilians in order to spread Democracy? Would Jesus really think that the number of people who have died because the US decided to invade Iraq is justified? Do two deaths make a right? What would Jesus tell us about the sad state of Health Care in the US? Would Jesus think that caring for the sick is secondary to caring whether the wealthy get a large tax cut? I personally believe that there is a problem with the theology of the religious right.

So, when I heard that my son was being teased at school I began to worry that there were some nasty kids at the school. My kids are in a very small school, and for the most part people are civil to each other. People understand that you will need to deal with these same people again and again.

Well, was I surprised that the two children that were teasing my son were Fundamentalist Christians? The one boy is from a family who has changed churches three times, because the churches were not conservative enough. So, does this religion teach its followers that teasing is tolerated, or does it teach its followers that teasing is required? Well, it turns out that these children believe that it is a good idea to single out my son and call him gay. The truth is that my son is top in his class and these children have just been kicked off the sports teams because they can’t keep a C average. These kids have decided that calling people they don’t like “gay” makes them feel better. They know that “gay” is bad, because they are taught that in their church. Does anyone believe that this is what Jesus taught?

But, this isn’t the only evil in this school. But it certainly does seem to come quite often from the Christian Fundamentalists. I could tell you more stories like this one. I could tell you stories about the parents.

I will tell you one more story.

My daughter’s class watched the inauguration speech yesterday. After the speech the teacher asked the class what they thought about the speech. Many children offered statements about the speech. My daughter said that she thought it was a bit too religious. She said that religion should be separated from government because it was divisive. She asked, “What would a Buddhist American think about this speech?” Her teacher looked at her and said, “Don’t you go to church?” And my daughter said, “What does that matter?”

Now, like I have said above, our family goes to church every weekend. My daughter could have said, “yes we do.” But, she didn’t. Instead she tried to exclude her religion from the discussion.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Inauguration Speech Translation

Here’s a good one, hope you enjoy.



Just a short blog to ask a question:

Why is it that the Republicans preach against the institution of the “Nanny State,” but they need a father figure to protect them from pornography, gay marriage, abortion and recreational drugs? Can’t they just stand up and protect themselves by taking responsibility for themselves? Can’t they just stay out of the porn shops and off the porn web sites? Can’t they resist the temptation to marry someone of the same sex? Can’t they just say no to abortion? I understand that Rush Limbaugh can’t say no to the drugs, but can’t someone on the right just help him along? The drugs are already against the law, what more can the government do?

Bush Gives Ultimatum to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and Others

In today’s inaugural address president Bush told us “America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.”

So, we will no longer pretend that it is OK for Saudi Arabia, to restrict the freedom and liberty of women. That we will no longer pretend that Egypt cares about freedom of speech.

Bush also said, “Yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators. They are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed.” So, we are now opposing dictators like President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan. This is a risky stance, because Gen. Pervez Musharraf has been helping the US in its war on terrorism.

He then said, “Today America speaks anew to the peoples of the world. All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty we will stand with you.”

Are we now taking on all the non-Democratic countries of the world? This certainly seems like reasonable objective on the ethical and moral stand, but can America afford this plan? George W Bush, the president who told us, “We are not the world’s policeman.” He now tells us that we should not only help keep law and order, but we should convert the 44 non-democratic countries to Democracies.

I guess that George W Bush believes that the American people overwhelmingly support the conversion of Iraq to Democracy, so of course we should have more of the same. We will no longer support these non-democratic countries, and we will begin to invade the countries that give us trouble. The big question is who will be next?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Over the Hill

Over the Hill

When I say over the hill, I mean beyond the valley of Christian Bible Bangers. You have let your brain guide you beyond the marketing of the Christian Evangelicals. You know who you are. You are the person who has left an overly zealous religion because you have realized that God doesn’t really want you to going around telling people that everything they know about religion is wrong. You made it past those preachers in the airport and you know that you are right with God and you don’t need someone to tell you that you are a sinner. You don’t need someone to tell you not to drink and dance. You have found that God really loves you whether you are “Born Again” or whether you repent or not. This is because you have discovered the truth about religion: “No one really knows the true answers to any of these questions. But, most of us know how to be a good human being. Most of us know the difference between good and evil. And it has to do with loving your neighbor, and not with whether you drink alcohol, dance, praise Jesus or Mohammed. It has to do with turning the other cheek, not using force to prove your God is stronger than theirs.”

In reality I believe that each one of us needs to come to grips with who we are and why we are here. Mainstream religions addresses this issue and those who find it too hard to think for themselves are easily swayed into what is offered by the mainstream religions. However, those of us who think through the meaning of life and all those questions come to many different answers based on our own experience.

I'm glad to hear that one more person has made it to the bright side.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005



It is quite interesting what Condoleezza Rice said about Venezuela today. She said, "We are very concerned about a democratically elected leader who governs in an illiberal way, and some of the steps he's taken against the media, against the opposition, I think are really very deeply troubling.” This is strange, when she supports George W Bush who governs in a very similar way. George W Bush and his administration uses very undemocratic methods in the effort to keep information about the administration policy away from the American mainstream media. The problem with Venezuela isn’t really that Hugo Chavez is not being any less democratic than George W Bush, is that Venezuela controls 15% of the oil that the US burns every year. The Bush administration is worried that the Venezuelan government may choose to nationalize the Venezuelan oil industry. This would relieve some American companies of some of their assets. Even if Venezuela would compensate these companies fairly, these American companies would loose on future profits and the Venezuelan people would benefit from these future profits. Seeing that the oil actually in being taken out of the Venezuelan soil, should the Venezuelan people be compensated fairly. This is still a third world country with many people poorer than the poor we have in the United States of America are. Based on the history of the United States in these matters under Republican leadership it wouldn’t be surprising if the US overthrew the Venezuelan democratically elected leader.


More About the Evils of Fundamentalism

Fundamentalism is based on the belief that the Fundamentalist knows all the answers, because he knows and understands the book with the answers. The Answers are not the same for every fundamentalists group, so I suppose you could weigh the degree of evil each group poses based on what answers each group decides to be true.

But, the point is that only one of these groups could possibly be right, because every other group disagrees with them. However, chances are more likely that all of the groups are wrong, but the vehement nature of their argument makes it clear that every one of these groups believe that might makes right. This is particularly strange among Christian Fundamentalists who should believe that they are supposed to turn the other cheek. But, Fundamentalists come up with all kinds of reasons why they don't need to love everyone or need to turn the other cheek.

The terrorists that we are currently fighting in our war on terrorism are "Fundamentalists Gone Wild." But, every fundamentalist group has the potential for going wild depending on what the preacher determines to read into the readings of the Bible. After all, the crusades were based on defending the Christian faith.

Why wouldn't Fundamentalist Islam see the attack of the Fundamentalist Christian Bush administration as an attack on their faith? Why wouldn't the thousands killed by the Fundamentalist Christian Bush government be seen as an attack on the Fundamentalist Islam faith? Wouldn't you defend your faith if it were under attack?

Oil for Food (and Cash)

Throughout the last six months the US conservative propaganda machine has continuously pushed the idea that the UN allowed Saddam Hussein to bilk the world for billions of dollars because of the ineptitude of the UN. When just today a US citizen pleads guilty of violating economic sanctions. This brings up more questions than it answers. Who was he working for? Why didn’t the US know about this guy? Who was responsible for keeping an eye on this guy?

News Link

Nazis and Fundamentalists and Conservatives – Oh My

I have written on this topic before, so feel free to check my archive at tblog if you want to read more.

I received a comment on one of my posts at BlogSpirit from a person who claimed that he could no longer argue with me because I said that Nazis and Conservatives had shared similar traits. Conservatives have not killed 6 million Jews in gas chambers, so how could I possibly compare the two? It’s quite funny that Stalin may have actually killed a fair number more in his purges, but conservatives continue to call those opposed to the oppression of the Bush Regime as Communists or Socialists. Or, they use the term Liberal as if it were the solution to the argument without actually giving any supportive evidence. It is quite clear that these people already have set ideas that originated in the conservative conversation that exists on Talk Radio, in Fundamentalist Christian Churches, or at Young Republican potlucks.

When you stand around with like-minded people you can’t see further than the tip of your fingers. I would say that this argument could equally be applied some groups on the left as well, but in general I find Liberals to be more accepting of people from other backgrounds. I don’t know if knowing and befriending people from different backgrounds leads to acceptance of different people and different ideas or if acceptance of different people and different ideas leads to knowing and befriending people from different backgrounds.

It is quite surprising how the conservative ideology and the Nazi ideology overlap. But, one should be careful to compare early Nazi ideology to the current conservative movement. This is because the current conservative movement is on a historical trajectory similar to the early Nazi movement. This does not mean that there are conservatives in Iraq are abusing Arabs because they don’t belong to the white race. There are conservatives in Iraq are abusing Arabs because they don’t agree with their conservative political agenda. However, as with the Nazis, it began with abuse toward political opponents and it turned into abuse of those who looked like political opponents. It was easier to eliminate those who looked like the enemy than to actually find out if they disagreed with them. However, this was a self-fulfilling truth, because it turns out that if you are abused because of your race, then your race begins to hate those who abuse you.

The conservative philosophy depends on an assumption that liberals disagree with. The conservative philosophy assumes a priori that there are those who are privileged and there are those who do not deserve what they have. Traditionally back to Nazi times this assumption was based on race. However, race is not always the best way to divide people. In the current movement, conservatives have pulled another way to divide people out of the hat. They have decided that people who believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God are privileged and the non-religious do not deserve what they have. They make themselves feel better about this idea, because they tell themselves that non-religious people are not stuck in this situation if they just choose to become religious. It is not like racism, because people can not change their race, but they can change their religion.

Of course, not all conservatives are religious. There are still conservatives that see themselves as privileged by the wealth that they have, or the status their family has. So, the picture is a bit clouded by these truths. And this cloud is used to turn away arguments of the kind I am proposing here. But if the motives of the current conservative movement are examined closely, the fundamental philosophy of dividing people will rise to the top. In fact, the simple Liberal - Conservative divide stems from the right trying to divide people into these two groups. This turns out to aid them in their “us against them” strategy, where people put into these two categories regardless of their actual loyalty. Personally, I have a Libertarian philosophy, but because I don’t agree with the current administration’s governmental support of religion the conservatives I argue with put me into the Liberal category.

In summary, I would just like to make clear that I understand that conservatives have note killed 6 million people because of their race. The number is much lower. But, the Nazis, Fundamentalists and Conservatives share one very dangerous strategy. That is the effort to divide people into those who are for us and those who are against us. The groups can be based on race as in the Nazi case, or belief in the fundamental interpretation of the Bible as with the Fundamentalist Christians, or with the belief that there is economically privileged class as is the case of the fiscal conservatives.

Friday, January 14, 2005


The American people seem to be happy to be deceived. Or, the American people seem happy to ignore the deception by the politicians and pundits. Its quite interesting that when the going gets tough the people get going, on anything but what they should be concerned about. What should, we, the American people be concerned about? We should be concerned about deception.

During the build up to the Iraq war the administration told us how important the disarming of Iraq was. What did Iraq have that was so important to disarm from them? Weapons of mass destruction. Condi Rice told us about mushroom clouds over America if we didn’t take action. Colin Powell told us how certain we were that Iraq had these horrible weapons. Colin Powell told us how Iraq was deceiving the UN weapons inspectors when they couldn’t find any Weapons of Mass Destruction. Donald Rumsfeld told us that there were linkages between Iraq and al Qaeda. George W Bush told us it was in our National interest to invade Iraq.

Now, we know these were all untrue. Some say these things were lies. Other says these statements were made because these people didn’t understand the intelligence. Some people believe these people only repeated what they were told.

During the election, after some of this was already known, George W Bush was asked if he had made any mistakes during his first term as president. He told the reporter and hence the rest of the country that he didn’t make any mistakes. Even knowing what we knew then just prior to the election he said that he did not make any mistakes, he would do things exactly the same way even knowing what we knew then.

So, now George W Bush, who accused John Kerry of flip-flopping, has flip-flopped once again on this issue. He tells us now that he did make a mistake. Of course he couldn’t admit to a mistake before the election. But now that his approval of less than 50% doesn’t mean anything he can admit to a mistake. He says that he used too harsh of language when he said that he wanted to get Osama bin Laden “dead or alive.” He said that his language was to harsh when he said "Bring 'em on," in reference to Iraqis attacking U.S. troops.

There are quite a large number of mistakes in addition to these, but knowing George W Bush it is unlikely that he would “be a man,” and own up to any other mistakes.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

We Have Been Here Before

We Have Been Here Before

“George Bernard Shaw used three concepts to describe the positions of individuals in Nazi Germany: intelligence, decency and Nazism. He argued that if a person was intelligent and a Nazi, he was not decent. If he was decent and a Nazi, he was not intelligent. And if he was decent and intelligent, he was not a Nazi.”

William Blum records an updated version of Shaw’s three concepts:

1. If a person is decent and an American patriot, he or she is not intelligent.
2. If a person is intelligent and an American patriot, he or she is not decent.
3. And if a person is decent and intelligent, he or she is not an American patriot.

Iraq was not the first country that the US has overthrown and lied about its motives to the American People. Back in 1953 the United States of American over threw a Democracy elected by a large majority of the people. America, the country that claims to hold democracy above all other motives lied about the overthrow of the popularly elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq.

Why would the defender of the free world overthrow a democracy in 1953? It was because of oil. Does this sound familiar? Of course it does, because America isn’t always on the up and up with the American people.

In 1951 Mohammad Mosaddeq was selected to be the Prime Minister of Iran Unanimously under the condition that the British petroleum company be nationalized under the nationalization laws of Great Britain. At that time Great Britain was nationalized it’s own strategic industries. So, Iran under Mohammad Mosaddeq decided to follow suite. Of course the British were unhappy about this development and went to the United States for help. At the time, President Truman refused to help, because “Americans don’t go around overthrowing governments.” So, when president Eisenhower was elected in 1952 the British were knocking on Eisenhower’s door in hopes to persuade him to be their bully in Iran. Eisenhower, being a Republican looking for a way to prove his power went along with the idea. On August 15, 1953 a few CIA operatives managed to pay off enough Iran military to stage a coup at Mohammad Mosaddeq’s home. But Mohammad Mosaddeq was ready, because he heard threw the Iranian grapevine that the coup was being planned. However, on August 19, 1953 Kermit Roosevelt managed to stage a second coup to the surprise of Mohammad Mosaddeq and Reza Shaw was returned to power. All it took was a little money to pay protesters, military and newspapers to make the whole thing work. This should be a warning to the American people as to fragile Democracy can be if it can be bought so cheaply.

You can read about it here:
Iranian Democracy Destroyed by the CIA in 1953

But, what did the success of this coup d’tat do for America. Well, for one thing it made America very unpopular in Iran and the Middle East. It was soon learned that the coup was an American plan. It proved to the Middle Easterners that oil is more important than Democracy for America. It allowed the religious groups to gain powerful support and eventually allow them to revolt against Western ideals, the Shaw and take over the American Embassy in 1979. America’s actions crushed an emerging Democracy in the Middle East and fueled hatred that resulted in the ruling theocracy that we have today.

Iranian Democracy Destroyed by the CIA in 1953

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Things that Most People Did Not Realize Were Part of the Bush Campaign

Things that Most People Did Not Realize Were Part of the Bush Campaign

In the last few weeks several interesting things have come to light concerning the re-election of George W Bush. I have noticed three, but I am sure there are more just waiting to happen.

One must understand that one important strategy of the Bush reelection campaign was to raise the level of fear. It may not seem obvious at first, but fear during an election is good for the incumbent, no matter who it is. People are happy in general to stay with the status quo when there is fear in the air. This is why the Bush popularity rating sky rocketed after 9/11. This is also why every time the Department of Homeland Security raised the alert level George W Bush saw his popularity poll go up a notch. This seems counter intuitive, but this is an innate animal response to fear, not a logical response to who is responsible for the increase in fear.

So, the raising of the alert level before the election and lowering it after the election seems pretty obvious.

But, what about gas prices? Gas prices soared before the election. They went up quite a while before the election, maybe August or so. So, you may think that there wasn’t any connection. But, the fear triggered by high gas prices is a slow process. For example, a person begins to pay the higher prices of gas and he doesn’t really notice it until the end of the month when he/she is running out of money. But, there are savings so people can withdrawal some money from savings and everything is fine. But, high gas prices for several months get people to worry about having enough money in a few months. The feeling generates fear. And as I said before fearful people choose things to remain the same and they would tend to vote for Bush to keep things the same. Obviously not every person responds to gas prices this way, but only 118,000 votes in Ohio made the difference.

And, we have the payment to talk show hosts to talk about the Bush agenda. I guess the old adage “Cheaters never win” needs to be reexamined.

Tell Congress and the FCC to Stop Payola Pundits

Just a short blog to encourage congress to investigate the Bush administration's use of your tax dollars to help his campaign. Click on the link below to sign the pettion.

"Conservative political commentator Armstrong Williams has admitted receiving $240,000 from the Department of Education to promote the No Child Left Behind Act on his own syndicated show and to other journalists. Click here for more information.

"Congress and the Federal Communications Commission must immediately launch an official investigation and introduce legislation to outlaw payola punditry.

"Send a letter now to the Congressional Leadership and FCC Chairman Michael Powell."

Stop the Payola

Religion and Natural Disasters

On Monday, the National Public Radio program Morning Addition had an interesting story discussing the different views of various religions on why God would kill so many people in the recent tsunami. The question stems from the idea that God may or may not control everything that happens on Earth or in the universe. Some religions believe that everything that happens is a part of God’s plan detail by detail. Other religions say that God doesn’t micromanage the universe, he only controls the major issues, not the details. Some religions believe things that people do comes back around to them in the long run.

The over all general statement from all of the religions questioned seemed to be that we don't know why God does what he does. However, each religion has its caveats.

Roman Catholic: God has a reason for this. We don’t understand it when it happens, but perhaps God is giving us the opportunity to do good for someone else.

Buddhist: It is hard to imagine that such a large number of people would have the same karma, there must be something else that we don’t understand.

Reformed Jew: God doesn’t micromanage the universe. There is no message here. Why would the young deserve to die like this? Perhaps God is found in the response to this disaster.

Islam: God caused this because God demanded it. We should be happy for the people who were spared.

Baptist: God calls all people to repent. We are all sinners. God is just and he exacts justice. Since we are all sinners we all deserve his wrath and we should be glad that God chose not to punish us.

Hindu: Nature is God. And we shouldn’t be surprised by this disaster, because people have abused nature through pollution and destruction of the environment. This happened according to the laws of Karma.

If you want to listen to this go to:

Religion and Natural Disasters

Machholz - Update - 3

First of all, I noticed that there is a common misspelling of this comet's name, which is Mackholz, but even though I have misspelled it in the past, the correct spelling is Machholz.

Last night after two weeks of rain we finally had clear skies. After dinner I found the coordinates of the comet, looked it up on my sky chart, and went outside with my binoculars. Based on the star chart I found that the comet wasn't very far from the Pleiades. I looked around the large cluster of stars and found the comet a bit further away than I had expected. My coordinates were for the 10th of January, and it was already the 12th.

The comet is moving very fast now, so the information will be dated very soon. However, for the next few days the easiest way to find Machholz is to find the three groups of stars: Orion, Taurus and the Pleiades. If you draw an imaginary line connecting these three groups together Machholz is at the Pleiades end along the line moving further away every day. As an aside it is interesting to note that these three objects are similar stellar nurseries at different times of its development.

My observation of the comet was that it was a magnitude between 4 and 4.5 based on the stars in the background. It is very easy to see with binoculars. I could just make it out with my naked eye in my light polluted backyard. Binoculars are certainly the way to go. According to my list of position coordinates the magnitude of Machholz is also at it’s maximum. It should slowly dim from now on.

Here’s to clear skies for everyone who wants to see this comet before it disappears into the dark of space.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Listening to the Radio - Iraq

Talk radio is the disinformation side of the radio spectrum. However, there have been several interesting radio shows that have recently aired on NPR. I have written about the Commonwealth Club’s speaker in a recent blog. And over the weekend I heard an interesting show on “This American Life.” For the majority of you out there I assume you don’t know about the radio show: “This American Life.” This radio show is in a reality radio type format where the reporter talks to a person and asks questions in a timeline order in order to tell a story. In general there are usually three different stories in an hour-long show. Each show usually has a theme. This week the theme was the life of a soldier in Iraq. I missed the first story, but I heard the last two.

The most interesting story was based on a National Guard unit from Arkansas. The reporters interviewed several soldiers in this unit. He asked the commanding officer questions about the soldier’s physical stature when he first saw them. He asked them about the unit’s attitude and how it developed over about eight months. The unit started out as a rather older group of guys that had become set in their ways. They weren’t interested in working out or getting into shape. They were under the impression that they would never actually go over to the actual war zone. They believed that they were to old – being in their late thirties and early forties. Gradually they got into better shape, and they were shipped to Iraq. The whole thing didn’t seem real to most of the guys until at their tenth hour in Iraq one of the guys in their unit was killed by a roadside bomb. The death shocked the whole unit into the reality of the situation.

One of the guys in the unit began to suffer loss of feeling on one side of his body. They sent him to Germany where the doctors discovered that one of his discs in his back was rubbing up against his spinal cord, causing the numbness. He was sent home, and the other guys in his unit thought that he had lied to get out of Iraq. There was great animosity that is documented in the radio program.

Several more members of their unit were killed and the story is just compellingly sad. It just makes you want to scream at George W Bush and show him the pain he is causing without anything to show for it.

This American Life Archive - Jan 7, 2005

Sick Reindeer

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I won’t add many more in this post.

Many Blogs Yield Many Comments

As many of you know, I have been posting the same blogs on three different sites. This is mainly because I am trying these three places out in order to determine which site I like best. This procedure offers difficulty when I get an interesting comment on one site and obviously not the other two. So, over at blogspirit I got the following comment by tfreridge. I’ll share other comments if they are interesting enough. If you want to read the whole thing go over to:

Blogspirit Comments

tfreridge wrote:
"Is it any wonder GW won by a landslide???"

If tfreridge can't be honest about the results of the election, how can we assume that he is being honest about any other part of his post? The truth about the election is that Bush won Ohio by 118,000 votes. He did this by lies and deception. The only recent presidents that actually won the presidency by a landslide were Reagan in 1984 and Richard Nixon in 1972. It was latter shown that Richard Nixon used his henchmen to break into the Democrat campaign headquarters at the Watergate hotel and they stole the election campaign stratagy of the Democrats. Is it any wonder that he won by a landslide?

Now, we learn the George W Bush paid people to support him and talk about him on talk radio. Is it any wonder that he won? The question is, if he didn't use public money to buy support could he have won this election? I doubt it. George W Bush could not win an election if it were based on truth and honesty.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Why the Left is Losing Ground

If you take a step back and look at the history of American Culture from the 1950s until now we can better understand the problem. In the 1950s the white middle class was happy with life in this country. Problems existed, but those were a long way off in other places.

The 1960s began with the election of John F Kennedy and he told the American middle class that they could make a difference in our countries and around the world. When JFK was shot Americans reacted in many ways to fulfill his dream. They went to the South to battle racism and they went into Outer Space. So, Americans believed that there wasn't anything that they couldn't do. They wanted to end poverty and they wanted to end the Vietnam War. They spent money and they protested the war. In the early 1970s it was clear that the Vietnam conflict was at an end and people were tired of all this hard work. People forgot Kennedy's dream and they began to be concerned with themselves.

Activism was still alive, be the majority of Americans believed that everyone understood that some programs just needed to work for years and years before they would be won. Poverty and Racism would change and people became more race blind. Knowledge would supplant prejudice. Only time would be needed to allow this to happen. People went back to their personal lives and left the country to work on it's own. People believed that everyone was on the same page here.

Unfortunately another group rose up to put the individual first. Greed became the message of the 1980s. But, many people believed that the big picture was still intact, but they were wrong. Gradually selfishness supplanted selflessness.

But, since selfishness is usually countered by religion, people still felt safe and they believed that there were only a few bad apples.

But, when the Fundamentalist Christian churches began to get wealthy from preaching on TV the people began to ask why the wealth was good? The churches began to preach how wealth was good for everyone. Of course the viewers need to send money to the TV evangelists, but if they made more money then they could send more to the televangelists.

Now, the people who wanted to change the prejudice of the 1950s find themselves fighting the same battles in editorial columns in the 2000s some 40 years later.

Armstrong Williams – Who Else Did Bush Pay?

It is quite interesting that the Conservative Bloggers and the Conservative Talk Show Hosts keep propagating the myth that the liberal media is out to get the conservatives. But, where are these left wing media on this story. After all, the Bush administration took taxpayer money and gave it to a right wing talk show host to spread misinformation. How many times was this story played over the weekend? I didn’t hear it on my local news. I haven’t heard it on the radio since Friday afternoon. It is well known that Friday afternoon news reaches the fewest number of people in the country.

This is a big story. Imagine what the conservatives would have said about Bill Clinton’s administration if he paid Al Franken or Michael Moore to talk about Health Care reform? Now, imagine that Bill Clinton took the money out of the NIH budget, what conservative wouldn’t be jumping up and down writing his congressman asking for an investigation. Is this going to be the first investigation into the Bush administration? Are you kidding, Ashcroft is out, and Gonzoles probably stood next to Bush as he signed the check.

But, this is surely not the bottom of this case. This is only the first incident to be uncovered. Surely the Bush administration paid the Swift Boat Veterans that ran ads during the campaign. The money was surely laundered through the 529 that claims have paid for it. But, just think about the conservative talk show host that spread the Bush administration’s message of hate, like Michael Savage, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and the rest.

In quoting the Media Matters published today: “On Friday, former Representative Joe Scarborough's (R-FL) ‘Real Deal’ commentary segment on the January 7 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country called for ‘the inspector general of the federal Department of Education to conduct an immediate investigation’”

It is interesting that we actually have a Republican ex-Congressman calling for this investigation. Obviously he would like to see this nipped in the bud before more of this breaking scandal is uncovered. Representative Joe Scarborough goes on to say, “Paying reporters and columnists to flack for a centralized government scheme seems to confirm the worst fears of [economist Friedrich] Hayek, [economist Milton] Friedman and [former President Ronald] Reagan. Oh, yes, it also seems to confirm what Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo and David Brooks have been saying about the right-wing media being extensions of the White House.”

Why would a Republican come out so hard against this case if there wasn’t more to be uncovered?

Media Matters

Friday, January 07, 2005

Commonwealth Club

Commonwealth Club

Tonight I listened to the Commonwealth Club of Silicon valley. Mark Juergensmeyer was the speaker. He is the Director of Global and International Studies at University of California Santa Barbara. His talk was quite interesting and quite informative.

I won't go over the entire talk here, but if you go to:


you can listen to his talk in entirety. Actually you may have to wait a few week, because they take a while to post the files.

But, there are three very important things that Mr. Juergensmeyer said that the American people should understand about the Middle East. The first is the simple viewpoint of the Iraqi insurgents from Fallujah.

Fallujah was NOT a stronghold of Saddam Hussein at any time. Fallujah was a Islamic religious center. It was like the United States Bible belt. It could even be considered the Koran belt of Iraq. So, when Saddam Hussein was overthrown by the US the people in Fallujah were NOT in any hurry to fight for Saddam Hussein. Being realistic people, the people of Fallujah decided to sit and wait and see how the US would transition into controlling the country. However, when looting broke out all over the country the Fallujahans became upset with the lack of ability of the US to safeguard the country. When the US set up control centers in Iraq they typically took over schools and set up shop. Since the Fallujahans had no beef with the US and the city seemed to be in order they were anxious to get back to doing everyday things. One of those things was sending the kids to school. But, since the school had been taken over by the US soldiers the people became upset that there wasn't any place for the kids to go to school. The women and children went to the school to protest the confiscation of the school. They began to protest, and more and more people showed up. The soldiers became nervous and 12 people were killed when the soldiers fired into the crowd. From this point on the people became enraged at the occupation of Iraq by the US.

The second point is an understanding of the Iraqi viewpoint of why the US is occupying Iraq.

It is common knowledge throughout the world including Iraq that the US CIA helped Saddam Hussein in the Iran Iraq war. There are pictures of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam during this time. The CIA helped Saddam and the common knowledge is that the CIA had continued to help the CIA up to the time of the first gulf war. Some even believe that the CIA helped Saddam up until the time of the second gulf war.

Of course this is what the average Iraqi believes, not what is actually true. We should know from our recent election that it is more important to know what people believe rather than what is actually true.

So, if the CIA is helping Saddam, why would the US invade Iraq? This is common obvious knowledge in Iraq too. The Iraqis believe that the US feared that the Muslim religious were going to rise up and have an Islamic revolution. So, the US wanted to put Saddam out of power because the US believed that Saddam was too weak to withstand an Islamic revolution. So, the Islamic religious believe that the US has replaced Saddam as the evil dictator and they have risen up to fight against the secular evils.

And, finally the third important thing to understand is why do people join this Fundamentalist Muslim movement. Mr. Juergensmeyer tells us a story that helps us understand why people join this movement. He said that he grew up in Southern Illinois. From time to time southern revivalist preachers came through town and put up a revival tent. He tells us that one time a preacher came out on stage in an army uniform and he told the crowd that he was a soldier for Christ and everyone of us were fighting in the war between good and evil. Mr. Juergensmeyer said that everyone that stayed in that tent was ready to fight for Christ by the time the revival was over. He said that the organizers of the Islamic movement use the same language, but they give guns and bombs to the people to carry out their missions. So, just think about how the Fundamentalist Christians in our country are brainwashed and you can understand how the Fundamentalist Muslims are likewise brainwashed.

Armstrong Williams Promoted Bush Policies for Money

Armstrong Williams Promoted Bush Policies for Money

It’s Friday afternoon and we learn another evil practice of the Bush administration. The Bush administration has continuously used the release of Friday afternoon information as a way to blunt the impact of it. The genus of Karl Rove is that he leaves no trick unused.

Speaking of tricks, Armstrong Williams has prostituted himself into promoting the Bush administration’s policy on education for $240,000. Nice work, if you have no conscience. Nice work, if you don’t care about the integrity of the American political system.

It turns out that the Bush marketing and misinformation machine continues to roll and the American people don’t see a problem with it. Like they say, prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. Republicans have decided that money buys everything and it doesn’t matter if it is legal or illegal. Paying Armstrong Williams too promote the Bush administration’s ideas only leads to more questions. Surely this isn’t the only prostitute of the Bush administration. How much was Rush Limbaugh paid to side with the Bush administration’s misguided effort in Iraq? How about Bill O’Reilly? This payment is even worse than just the Bush administration paying Williams, because the Bush administration used public money to pay for this misinformation.

Williams claims that he has supported the Bush administration, so if he was paid to say these things it doesn’t matter. What? Then why would the Bush administration waste taxpayer money on this prostitute? Why not just let him spout his mouth for free? I am sure that it has to do with putting the issues out there when the administration wants the issue out there not when Williams wants to talk about it.

When will the American people see the Bush administration for what they are – Liars and Thieves who only care about their own pockets at the expensive of the rest of the American people?

Read More

American Culture

American Culture

My wife was talking to my sister-in-law yesterday. She lives in Texas and she is as Fundamentalist Christian and Texan as any stereotype one could imagine. My wife’s brother married her after he was “saved” and shortly after I met my wife. I had only lived in Texas for about a year and the wedding was an eye opener for me. I had never been to a wedding without alcohol being served. I was amazed that anyone who wanted alcohol continued to go out to their cars to drink. I felt like I was back in high school and the kids were all sneaking outside to gulp a few gulps of whiskey and then return to the “dance.” Well, there wasn’t any dancing either.

These were the obvious observations than a typical Northerner would notice. But, there were other things that also seemed quite bizarre. For example, there was a huge tote board in the back of the church with the top ten donors’ names on it. I don’t know if this was a weekly, monthly or yearly ranking, but it seemed to be a bit at odds with Jesus’ teachings of humility.

My sister-in-law is an easy target in an argument. She repeats what she is told, and she doesn’t understand why she is told what she says. I don’t feel comfortable arguing with her, because it is like shooting fish in a barrel. But, she always states things as if they are common knowledge. For example, no one can be saved but Christians who have been born again. Or how Iraq was funding Al Qaeda and that’s why we invaded Iraq.

So, my wife asks my sister-in-law if she got the pictures that we sent.

She said “yes.”

“So, what did you think of the birthday present my son was wearing?”

“What present? I didn’t notice.”

“The diamond earring.”

“Diamond earring?”

“Yes, we got him an earring for his birthday.”

“What does he do when he goes to school?”


“Well, won’t the hole close up if he takes it out?”

“Ya, he doesn’t take the earring out, why would he?”

“The school doesn’t allow earrings.”

“What do the girls do?”

“Well, the girls can wear earrings, but the boys can’t.”


They continued to discuss the differences between Texas and California schools. My wife who grew up in Texas was surprised that the boys on the sports teams were not allowed to have hair touching their shoulders. “What about the coaches?” my wife asked.

“It hasn’t come up”

My wife was surprised again, thinking of my son’s tennis coach who has a ponytail and the PE teacher who has two earrings in his left ear.

It seems like Texas and California keep moving further away from each other...

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Truth, Reality And The Bible

Funny thing about religion is that the believer can always convince himself of what ever he wants to believe. This works both ways. The main point is that there isn't one true interpretation of the Bible or any religious book for that matter. The Bible is written in several different languages and styles. Without trying to understand the history and culture through out the writings of the Bible, and the history of the followers afterward it is difficult to come to the correct meanings of these writings.

Of course many have claimed to know exactly what many statements meant, but these interpretations are most often ridiculous. For example, the Jesus of the Christian Fundamentalists somehow can justify a divisive Jesus who claims that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus. However, under careful reading Jesus' words can actually be understood in different ways.

For example, Jesus often talked about himself being the Son of God. However, aren't we all sons and daughters of God. Since he tells his apostles to pray to God the Father it should be obvious to any reader that this is exactly what he meant. However, in an effort to maximize the power of the new religion early Christians claimed that being the Son of God makes him God. Having a religion where the God comes and lives among the people makes the idea of the religion very strong. However, Jesus told us that we are all sons of God, we must be, because he created us in his image. He is our Father, we pray that prayer that Jesus gave us.

The early Christian Church needed to coalesce its followers in order to strengthen its forces. In an effort to do this many early writings were destroyed because they didn't agree with the marketing plan for the church. However, some illegal copies of these writings were hidden away in clay jars and in the 1940s they were discovered. These Dead Sea scrolls tell other versions of the story of Jesus. Mary Magdalene, the wife of Jesus, writes one. Another is written by Thomas an apostle of Jesus. These writing were destroyed because they claimed that people could be saved be prayer and reflection. This could mean that people would not need a central organization to tell them what to do. In fact, the Gospel of John was the last Gospel written and his story of the doubting Thomas was an effort to weaken the known writings of Thomas.

Not all of the Dead Sea scrolls have been translated, because of fear of the revelations and truths that will be revealed by them. They had been controlled by a Christian who has only recently allowed them to be translated. I don't remember if he died, or sold them. Slowly the Scrolls are being scanned into the computer so large numbers of people can make translations.

There are also a few other writings that had been discovered a bit earlier, which show that these writings had been copied. Remember, each scroll had to be copied by hand, so if a scroll were destroyed it would be difficult to replace.

The West Wing

I don’t watch “The West Wing” often, but when I do I usually have some type of emotional response to it. Sometimes I get excited of the possibility of having an intelligent caring President in office. Of course this was before the election, and I won’t have those thought for another three years or so. Of course there are the episodic issue by issue studies that happen every week. My emotions range from hatred to pity and from sorrow to hope.

I watched the last half of the show yesterday. The West Wing can be watched in very small pieces, because it is basically a soap opera with new issues unfolding and old ones continuously being revisited.

As I watched the issue of gay marriage being played out as a drama it is interesting to note how American culture has begun dealing with this issue. Gay marriage is a political hot potato that people intellectually know should not be controlled by government. After all, the government should not have any legal interest in how people decide to share their lives with someone. But, the religious zealots have used emotion to provoke a response in people who would never be effected by the issue of gay marriage. These people are heterosexual Christians who believe homosexuality is wrong because their preacher has interpreted the Bible that way and then he has told them of its evil. But these people were most likely not going to suddenly become homosexual or be interested in marrying someone of the same sex. So, the issue is one where these people pass a law to prevent other people living somewhere else from marrying the person they love.

In the show, the Fundamentalist Christian Republican leader attached the anti-gay marriage amendment to the budget bill. Of course the congress can compose bills in anyway they wish, but attaching two different issues into one bill is an underhanded method of legislation that has been used over and over again for a party or person to get what they want without the benefit of proper debate. Linking legislation to such a large bill essentially means that the amendment could pass without objection. So, this is where the reality of lawmaking comes into focus for the average American. Americans watching the West Wing begin to realize that working behind the scene to get amendments on or off of major legislature is how the real work is done. Americans also learn that the names of bills are chosen for marketing purposes and rarely mean what the proposed law really does. For example, “The Defense of Marriage Act” prevents loving people from marrying each other and has no effect on the status of heterosexual marriage. The uninitiated person would say, “I think we should defend marriage, therefore I like my congressman if he voted for this.” Very few people realize that this is a discrimination law, which prevents people who are in love from making their commitment legal.

But, the most telling scene I saw was when Josh approached the Republican leader to ask him to remove the amendment from the budget bill. The Republican’s first statement before any discussion even began was, “Do you believe in the Inerrancy of the Bible?” The idea here is that the legislator wouldn’t listen to anyone unless they believed that the Bible had no error. What does that even have to do with government? We do not have a theocracy we have a democracy. Americans who have no strong religious interest are still interested in the law to protect them. But, they don’t need the government intruding into our homes and our bedrooms. The government should not be interfering in our private lives. This Fundamentalist Christian wants to make his religious laws the law of the land, and it is overreaching and crossing the line between church and state. Josh answered brilliantly as the writers would have him. He says, “Yes, but I don’t think that any of us are smart enough to understand its meaning.”

In the show, this was enough to get past the first stage and proceed to questioning the Republican as to his hypocrisy. The hypocrisy is that Republicans in general are for state rights, but the marriage law would be a federal law influencing states rights. Of course Republicans were for states rights when they applied to segregation, but now when Republicans want to force their religious views on us they suddenly want us to make federal laws imposing their views on us. The reality of this is that Republicans were not for state rights in principle, but as a matter of trying to get what they wanted as far as segregation.

The main point that I was trying to make here was that American people are exposed to the reality of politics through this show. Unfortunately the people who are interested in this show probably already know all this. The people who need to learn how politics work are to busy watching “Who’s My Daddy?” or something similar.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


I went to the library yesterday and ran across the John Waters movie “Hairspray.” I had heard about this movie and I have heard John Waters interviewed a few times, so I thought it would be interesting to see the movie. Based on what I had heard I was prepared for some outrageous bizarre movie, or maybe a bit of schlock. I wasn’t quite sure, because I never seen a John Waters movie. But he was strange in his interviews, so I thought that his work should reflect that.

I put the movie into the DVD player and I heard the “Hairspray” theme song, which didn’t sound too very odd. So, I started out being surprised that the movie wasn’t as bizarre as I had expected. In knew that the movie featured a strange array of actors, so I waited to see how these people came across on my TV screen. Divine, Sonny Bono, and Debbie Harry were a strange collection to start with. I had seen Divine in some other strange movie that I don’t remember now. Sonny Bono is a strange character beginning with his career with Cher then moving into his conservative legislature experience. And, Debbie Harry has a small place in my heart, because she is a fellow Ohio native that I respect.

The plot of the movie is actually a typical hero triumph over evil plot. But, the rest of the movie is far from typical.

The hero of the movie is an overweight, female teen. The setting of the movie is early 1960s Baltimore. The villains in the movie are several, society in general.

But, the movie is a strange concoction of fantasy and reality. The fantasy part is that an overweight female teen is so wise to know how good should be able to put and end to racism by enabling black kids to come dance to black music on TV. She is wise enough to know that overweight couch potatoes want to watch her dance on TV so they can live their fantasy through her. She is wise enough to know that the owner of hefty women’s wear store would want advertising on a teen dance show. All of these things could only be realized in a fantasy world. But the world is also exaggerated in a way that racism can be understood as fear of the unknown where the cure is clearly enlightenment. The movie frames racism as a black and white issue with an obvious solution. This is clearly a nice alternative to modern movies that embrace the reality of the gray world. I am not saying that all movies need to frame problems as black and white issues, but this is a refreshing change of pace movie.

But, the final breakthrough in this movie is the realism. Realism in a fantasy movie seems to be a contradiction, but the realism is the realism of the characters. Hairspray gives us very real characters that live in a very non-real world. Of course we have the overweight heroin. We also have the nasty habit of the heroin’s sidekick who continuously takes a piece of candy out of her mouth and replaces it over and over again. The red dye of the candy has stained her fingers. We have the realism of the heroin’s rival puking from riding an amusement park ride.

Hairspray may not have been the best film I ever saw, but it is a very good social commentary set in the exaggerated fantasy world of the early 1960s.


My wife told me a sad little story that she said has burned an image into her brain.

She was walking through a parking lot a couple of days ago when she heard a man shout across the parking lot. She looked up thinking that the guy was shouting at her. It turned out that the guy was shouting to a friend across the parkinq lot.The three people all headed to the same access point to the parking lot, so my wife could hear a portion of there conversation as they waited for the traffic light to change.

And so she heard the one man ask the other how he was doing. The second man answered, "Not so good, I just burried my stepson."

"What happened?" came the reply.

"He was killed in Mosul."

"No, really, what happened?"

"He was killed in Mosul."

"Are you seriuos?"

"Serious as a heart attack."

"So he died of a heart attack?"

"No, he was killed in Mosul."

My wife said that she just felt so sad for the man who lost his stepson. Not only did he experience the senseless loss, but also even his friend didn't believe him. Of course my wife didn't hear the rest of the conversation, they parted ways after they crossed the street.

But, why would this friend doubt what he was told? I believe that there is a large part of the American public that doesn't believe that the war in Iraq actually effects them. In fact, they want to believe this so badly that they deny the bad news as it comes out of Iraq. This man is in such denial that when his friend tells him that he lost his stepson in Mosul the man could not understand what he meant. This must be widespread, because if people were not in denial about this George W Bush could not have elected in November. His total disregard for human live has put our soldiers in Iraq killing other humans.

In the long term the American People will not find reason to oppose the destruction in Iraq if they continue to believe that war doesn't effect them. George W Bush has managed to insolate the people financially by borrowing the money instead of taxing the people. No one feels this pain, so people believe we are fighting this war for free. When taxes are finally increased to cover this debt Americans will suddenly be surprised.

Of course I had to do a Google search and see if this guy was real. It wasn’t hard, I just looked for Californians killed in Mosul in December, and it was pretty obvious that the guy was Staff Sgt. Robert S. Johnson. She was walking through a parking lot in Monterey when she overheard the conversation. This young soldier had grown up in Monterey so it would be likely that his step father would have been in that town. So, here is a bit about him in his honor:

Staff Sgt. Robert S. Johnson, 23, of Castro Valley, Calif.

Doing "something important" was goal

Staff Sgt. Robert S. Johnson loved the military so much, it even seeped into his favorite pastimes, like playing video games.

Johnson would sit at the screen for hours, as determined to win a battle in front of the computer as he was on the front lines.

"He wanted to be somebody who did something important," said Johnson's cousin, Jesse Schrock, of Seaside, Calif.

Johnson was born and raised on the Monterey Peninsula in California. After he graduated from school in June 2000, he immediately enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Korea from 2002 to 2003. He loved it there and picked up some of the language, Schrock said.

Johnson then was sent to Fort Lewis before he was deployed to Iraq.

Schrock said he and his cousin were as close as brothers and used to love playing touch football whenever they saw each other. But two years ago, when Johnson returned home from Korea for a visit, Schrock didn't want to play anymore.

"I used to be bigger than he was, but then he came back from the Army and he was ripped," he said, laughing. "You should have seen the muscles on him."

more info

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Problem With the Republican Social Security Plan

The Problem With the Republican Social Security Plan

The Republican Social Security plan is to allow you to invest your Social Security assets into the stock market. But, there is a downside to this plan. Unfortunately no one wants to talk about the problem, because it is slightly complicated and no one has figured out how to make difficult things easy to understand. However, there are a few very bright people out there and maybe if I write this someone else will be able to simplify it.

There is a law known as the law of supply and demand. When supply is low then demand goes up. When the supply is high the demand goes down. This same principle works for stock as well. The key to the supply and demand relationship is the price of the product. Stock has a price that is determined by the supply of the stock and the demand for it. In principle, when a company is doing well people want to buy the stock in hopes that the company will pay high dividends. Also, when a company is doing well people buy the stock and reduce the supply that is offered for sale. If a potential buyer is willing to pay a higher price, then he may tempt some stockowners to part with their stock, because the profit from the sale would compensate for the potential dividend payout.

But, imagine the world of the stock market when millions of people suddenly get the opportunity to invest in the stock market with newly acquired funds. As people begin to invest their money in the market the stock market will begin to go up. The first people into the market will make out better than the last people into the market. But, the market will be going up and the news reports will be telling us how wonderful the market is doing. People who already own stock will suddenly have portfolios worth much more. More cash will be available. This is usually a sign of a good economy. But, is this really good for the people who are investing their newly found money into the market? I believe that the new investors will actually loose money while the wealthy who already had money in the market will make out like bandits.

The wealthy own large percentages of the "blue chip" stocks. These are called blue chips, because they are strong companies that have little chance of losing value. Many new stock purchasers who don't know anything about the market would opt to buy these stocks, because they have heard of them. Plus, S&P 500 indexed funds are these stocks. So, people who invest in these funds will push the price of these stocks up. There is no down side for the wealthy, but the new guys into the market will own stock that is greatly overvalued. Maybe the real value would catch up, but chances are that the market would initially go up fast, then level off for the long term. You would be lucky to make 5% return in the long run, so bonds and other interest baring assets will become more lucrative. The knowledgeable investor will purchase bonds and sell stock and the market will go down. Over a long period of time the market will find its way back to the actual value of the stock.


Fundamentalist Christians have taken the word Christian and made it into a bad name. Not only that, but Fundamentalist Christians have taken the name Christian and made it into an exclusive club name where it should be a universal accepting name for all. Fundamentalist Christians will ask someone in a group if they are a Christian. If they answer yes, then they person asking the question assumes that you are a clone of their cult. So, Christians who are Catholic, or of one of the more moderate churches become engulfed with the Fundamentalist rhetoric and at some point even embarrassed by the assumption they had made.

But, I have used this assumption to advantage. When campus preachers gather a crowd around them I always liked to argue with them when I would have a bit of spare time. Of course, I am a liberal Christian, because I don’t believe that the Bible has only one interpretation. I also believe that fundamentalist Christians, like Fundamentalist Muslims, often interpret their book in such a way to make the point they already believed. That’s why Fundamentalist Christians believe in war when Jesus preached love. That is why Fundamentalist Muslims believe in a reward of 70 virgins for suicide bombing when Mohammed preached otherwise.

So, when the preacher would finish arguing he would always ask the Christians to remain. I am a Christian, just not a Fundamentalist Christian. So, I would hang around and listen to the rhetoric he would give to his henchmen. It was nice to know where these guys were coming from, because you knew the lies that they were being told straight from the horses mouth.

But, the sad part remains - Fundamentalist Christianity is a plague on our country. And, the only cure for this plague is education. Unfortunately the American people don’t like to learn. They don’t like to reason. They just don’t like to think....

Two Parties – More Fun?

Despite what some conservatives may believe, the United States of America was not designed with the intention of a two party system. Instead those elected were elected as representatives of the people from where they lived. But, it didn’t take long to realize that an organized effort was more powerful than any one individual effort. In the early days of the Republic there were some very broad issues that mainly revolved around the difference between manufacturing and agriculture interests. At the time manufacturing was mainly textile and smelting.

However, today we hardly could identify with either group. Should we identify with the owners of the looms or the owners of the plantations that grow the cotton? Should we identify with those who mine the iron ore and coal, or the owners of the plants that make the steel? Not every American can identify with either group. So, these groups, in an effort to broaden their base began to court the shop keeps and restaurant owners to support one group or the other. We should remember that voters could only vote if they were landowners. People who rented, slaves and other misfits of society had no say in the matter.

But, the two-party system seemed to be a natural way for government to operate. The group in charge generally proposed laws and the minority party could only decide whether the idea was in their interest or against their interest. Things didn’t change very fast, so making laws in a slow process with intervening elections could be used as a check on the operation of the two parties.

If we flash forward to the present day we are certainly aware that there are more than just two groups interested in the laws of this country. These different groups of people in general don’t have political parties. Instead, these groups with special interests lobby political parties to do their bidding in congress. If a political party had an ideology, then the special interest group would know which political party was most likely to support their cause. But, not every cause can be tied exclusively to one party or the other. This is because our two-party system is not exclusively about ideology. Instead, our two-party system is about building a pre-election coalition of special interest groups that will motivate their groups to vote for one party or the other. This doesn’t mean that the leaders of the parties don’t have special interests, of course they do.

At the pinnacle of each party are the people who control the direction of the party. This is where the two parties differ. The Republican Party is motivated by a group of wealthy individuals that have the number one issue to protect their wealth and ensure that their families never have to work again. The Democratic Party is also controlled by a group of wealthy individuals, but these individuals tend to be more altruistic. They want the effect of their contributions to make the maximum impact on society.

Each of these groups has gathered secondary groups to further their goals. The Democrats have gathered unions, minorities and lawyers. The Republicans have gathered business leaders, farmers and most recently Fundamentalist Christians.

But, in this modern world in which we live there are hundreds of issues that are discussed every year. And of all these issues that are discussed not every group is going to agree on every issue. However, in order to maintain power each party needs to maintain consensus among at least two of the three of its major support groups. One way to do this is to control the agenda. If you only bring up issues in which everyone in your support group agrees on, then your party can maintain consensus and everyone in your party is happy.

However, as we are seeing, this method does not have the best interest of the country in mind. Many issues are simply ignored because bringing them up will create discord within the party. Many issues are framed in ways that don’t make sense in a real world, because one group demands a concession in order to give its support. Many issues are simply left for the courts to decide, because the congress doesn’t want to risk re-election by tackling issues that need to be handled in fair and responsible ways.

In short, the current division of subgroups is not black and white. There are black farmers and union members that are Fundamentalist Christians. There are even business leaders who are lawyers. And, finally there are huge numbers of people who don’t identify with any of these groups. These people are not being represented by either of the two parties. There are people who have more idealistic ideas about what government should and should not do. There are people who are only concerned with government functioning well enough to prevent crime and make travel to and from work safe. There are people who are concerned with every issue and constantly bounce back and forth between the two political party’s views on these issues.

This is why many modern democracies use the method of Proportional Representation to select their leaders. This means that you can vote for a party that represents your interests. A Party doesn’t need a majority to win representation, but instead it wins seats based on the percentage of votes that it wins. Different methods can be used, but one could imagine 10 seats in a district being up for grabs. For every ten percent of the votes a party receives one representative. So, if the Green party received 12%, the Libertarian Party Received 9%, the Democrats received 43% and the Republicans received 36% then the 10 representatives may be divided: one Green, one Libertarian, four Democrats and four Republicans. It may turn out that some issues would be divided 5 to 5 with the Libertarian going with the Republican, but there could be issues were the Libertarian may join the Democrats or the Green member may join the Republican. In the long run the Democratic and Republican Parties would need to develop an more reaching ideology or risk loosing support to smaller parties who do offer ideology on specific issues.