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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Location: California, United States

Friday, April 28, 2006

Flip Flopping Republicans Spread More Deception

If the American people don’t question would they see and hear from any politician they are doing a disservice to American Democracy.

One thing that bothers me is how the congress spins an issue into sound bites that sound good for the person making the sound bite, and slings mud at the other side of the aisle. This is a general statement, because I realize that both sides do this, but if we don’t examine these things we will never get to the truth and our leaders will continue to pass laws that benefit themselves personally instead of passing laws that benefit the “Common Good” of the American people.

Let’s look at the recent immigration legislation as an example of how our politicians spin the truth into looking like they did the opposite of what they really did.

In December of 2005 the House of Representatives passed an immigration bill that would make it a felony to be illegally in the United States. This was passed by the Republican lead House mainly by a party line vote. Therefore, most Republicans were on record as voting for the criminalization of 12 million illegal immigrants. The result of this law, if it were to be enforced, would be to arrest and deport 12 million illegal immigrants back to the country that they came from. Since many of these people actually have children who are legal US citizens we would need to send many parents of legal US citizens to another country leaving these children parentless, or forcing these children to go with their parents to a country that they have never even been to.

When protests to this law began to materialize across the country politicians began to sit up and take notice. Republican lawmakers who passed this law realized that the law would do quite a bit of harm to many families. It isn’t quite family values to break up millions of families, is it?

Well, during the debate in the House there was a vote on an amendment to change the law to make illegal status a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Democrats who were opposed to either a misdemeanor or felony status voted against the amendment. Now, the Republicans have attempted to use this vote against the Democrats by saying that voting against the amendment was the same as voting to make illegal status a felony. And, to the uninitiated person listening to The Republican National Committee’s radio ad on April 17 titled “Protect Border & Honor Immigrants.” will not understand that the Republicans voted to make illegal immigrants felons before they voted against it. The 60-second ad is in Spanish and will be broadcast throughout the week on Hispanic radio stations in Phoenix, Tucson, Reno and Las Vegas. This sounds like a classic “flip-flop” to me.

But, where are the Democrats? Why can’t they get out there and make this message clear? Republicans have the advantage that this action in the House is complicated and most people will be confused. For example, why would Republicans vote to make this a felony before they changed their minds and voted to make it a misdemeanor? This doesn’t seem to fit the conventional wisdom that Republicans don’t change their minds. People that already believe that Republicans don’t change their minds will start believing that the liberal media has manipulated this information in some way.

What we need now are Democrats who are willing to get out there and point out how this spin is just plain wrong. We need Democrats who will play it straight and tell the truth, or the average Joe and Jane will only be driven further from politics and into the world of Celebrity Chefs or some other nonsense.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Common Good

There has been a lot of criticism of the Democrats as of late. Why haven’t the Democrats seized the moment and kicked some Republican ass? People who ask this question don’t understand the fundamental nature of the two political parties in America today.

If there is one unifying factor of the Democrats today it is the goal to reach a government that is for the “Common Good” of the American people. Since America is a diverse country there are many different groups that seek power by unifying under the umbrella of the Democratic Party. Power is found in unity and working together to solve diverse problem is in the common interest of Americans everywhere.

Unfortunately working for the “Common Good” is a complex message that doesn’t play well in sound bites.

Republicans see the unification of these diverse groups as a threat to the status quo. This might not seem clear at first, but it becomes clear when we look at what the status quo is, and how the Republicans use various means to maintain the status quo.

The status quo in America is that there are a small number of very wealthy capitalists that control much of what America does. These wealthy capitalists became capitalists by acquiring vast sums of money through inheritance and believe that they deserve to be calling the shots. It is exceedingly rare for a common person to do what Bill Gates did and break into the group of top 1% of the wealthy Americans who control the Republican Party. Of course, one should be careful to remember that these wealthy Republicans are by no means all of the wealthy Americans in the top 1%. They are the wealthy Americans that “fear” loosing their money and power. There are many wealthy Americans that have a different view of their wealth and they tend to contribute to charities and believe in the “Common Good” of America. People with these resources and these beliefs largely tend to be supporters of the Democrats.

The key once again is the goal of somehow achieving the “Common Good” for the American people, not just the wealthy upper class that seeks to protect their privileged status.

The problem with this noble goal is that seeking the “common good” does not always raise the funds needed to run a successful campaign. The people who see this goal as an important (meaning: positively life changing) issue are the people that have been taken advantage of in one way or another. People who are on the top of the heap tend to have expendable income they are willing to contribute to political causes. People who are being crushed by the heap are doing everything they can just to get by.

In order to raise money to support the goal of establishing a “common good” for “all” Americans the Democrats have approached organizations representing people who have high proportions those who have been abused by the current system. These groups are organized by common interest, like most groups are. Some examples of these organizations are NAACP, teachers unions, Teamsters, United Farm Workers and similar groups. These groups have traditionally fought for fairness and rights for their members. And, like any organized group they seek to get as much as they can. It isn’t their job to worry about their impact on other workers or other groups. So, these groups contribute to Democrats in order to get their voices heard.

Democrats, like any political group, find themselves facing the problems associated with conflict of interest from time to time. Democrats stand for the “common good” of all Americans, and the take money from people who seek to remedy the shortcomings of the current system. But, some of the shortcomings are worse than other shortcomings. Some solutions to the shortcomings effect members who contribute to the overall cause. Democrats tend to be successful Democrats when they understand the nuance of the many complex issues that effect all of the different groups of Americans.

One would think that a politician who understands the nuance of the issues would be the type of politicians that every American would like for their leaders. But, not everyone cares about others. Especially people who have been raised in homogeneous environments. If you don’t experience different people, then you are not likely to care what happens to them. People with this attitude don’t believe in the “Common Good” for all Americans. Instead, they seek the common good for their particular group. The leaders of the Republican Party have seized this and used it for their advantage. Since the main goal of the Republican elite is to maintain the status quo they solicit their message to people who are doing reasonably well and they wish to maintain the status quo. However, even this group isn’t large enough to elect Republicans at every election. The problem is that this group of satisfied people changes depending on the economy, and in bad times Republicans could not be elected because this group grows very small.

So, Republicans have resorted to tactics to attract larger groups of people to their party. They have sought people who wish to maintain the status quo in many different ways, including social issues. They have sought religious people who have felt that society has grown less religious. So, they appeal to these people to win votes and they promise to return the country to the religious authority of years gone by. They create a vision of times past where everyone did the “right thing” because they followed the law - the divine law. The vision of everyone doing the “right thing” tends to keep people from questioning whether society is working for the “common good.” The directors of the Republican Party know that pursuing the “Common Good” is not good for the wealthy, because it brings up questions of fairness in education, potential jobs and ability to reach the affluence that Republicans sell as the American Dream.

The final strategy of the Republican Party is use fear and ignorance of the electorate to their advantage. Fear and ignorance prevent people from questioning the status quo. Fear and ignorance make people afraid to question authority. Fear and ignorance prevent society from reaching the Democrats goal of a “Common Good” for all Americans.

So, if the Democrats have any hope of getting a unified message out to the general public it need to be in the form of sound bites promoting the “Common Good” of “All” Americans. The common good means a clean environment for all Americans. The common good means potential for a good education for all Americans. The common good means unification of diverse groups seeking to make a better America for all.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Monday, April 24, 2006

Divine Strake

What do you do when you want to test the destructive power of a nuclear weapon, but you don’t want to use a nuclear weapon?

The answer is “Divine Strake.”

Divine strake is a huge conventional pile of explosives (700 tons) which would do the damage of a small nuclear weapon. And the test is set for June 2, 2006 in the Nevada Desert.

But, the question doesn’t really have anything to do with the environmental damage of such an explosion. Instead, it has to do with, why do we want to test such a huge detonation. This can be answered by trying to understand why such a large explosion needs to be tested, and what is being tested.

By reading about “Divine Strake” on the global security web site we can determine that this weapon is meant to be a “bunker buster” test, looking at the extent of damage that can be done to an extensive underground bunker. But, it is quite clear that no one from the US military is going to pile 700 tons of explosives on top of someone’s bunker. It is also clear that no airplane can carry a 700 ton bomb to someone’s bunker. So, the only answer that makes any sense at all is that the administration wants to know what a small nuclear weapon would do to someone’s bunker.

The idea that the US would use nuclear weapons on a first strike was believed to be nonsense only five years ago, but the religious extremists that have taken over the Republican Party don’t see the harm in using a small nuclear weapon. They don’t see any harm in preemptive attacks on countries that we don’t like.

So, if we add one and one it looks like Seymour Hersh was right Iran is next on the list of countries these Religious extremists are planning to attack.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Fear Fear Fear

Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard, “But the second problem--President Bush's sagging job approval among Republicans--is one that Rove can address by emphasizing policies that appeal to Republicans and by creating strong fears of a Democratic takeover.”

Fear is political capital for the Republican Party. Fear buys elections. Fear is the new sex, because fear sells when you are trying to buy voters.

I wonder if Mr. Barnes realizes what he is actually saying when he not only admits that stirring up fear is the Republican election strategy but that fear is needed to persuade Republicans to go to the polls. As I have written before, fear is an animal instinct. Fear is an evolved response to danger, and therefore a strong emotion that requires no thought. If the only way to win elections is to raise the fears of your loyal voters then you can guess what type of people vote for you. These are people who react to fear without thinking. What does this say about the American political system? Without thought American Democracy is threatened and left vulnerable to abuse by those who would prefer to have political power for their personal interest.

Mr. Barnes is admitting what the Democrats and liberals have been saying for quite some time, “The only people to vote Republican are the people who don’t care to think about what they are voting for.” These people vote for tax cuts, but they complain when the schools need to close, class sizes get large and their children don’t get the personal attention that they deserve. These people believe that attacking another country is they same as defending America. These people are afraid of homosexuals because they think that they are pedophiles. These people don’t care to think beyond the sound bite, and the sound bite is good enough for them. When Democrats speak in complete sentences explaining the details of an issue or policy these people fall asleep because they lack the discipline and logic to follow complex arguments.

But, one thing that they do understand is fear. They fear taxes. They fear terrorists. They fear the Soviets. They fear the Nazis. They fear the possibility that a woman may acquire power. They fear losing their faith. They fear losing their money. They fear the banks. They fear the future. And, Mr. Barnes hopes that Karl Rove can remind them to fear the Democrats so that they will go to the polls and vote Republican.

Maybe Mr. Barnes is right. But if he is I would need to apply this to my own short list of fears. I fear that American Democracy is in its death throws. If people are no longer swayed by logic, then America will no longer remain the land of the free. It will become much to easy for people to win elections based on fear. Unfounded irrational fear is what won George W Bush the 2004 election. He certainly didn’t win the election based on truth, or even action. Just remember that totalitarianism only works because it is based on fear.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Be a Patriot and Take Care of Yourself

Crazy as it may sound to some, I believe that people need to take some responsibility for their own health. The information is out there, but by the looks of it there are quite a few people who ignore it.

Basic health begins with taking care of yourself. Before anyone needs to be concerned with regular check ups or seeing a doctor when they feel sick they need to learn the truth about exercise and nutrition. Ignorance of the general population about these issues costs us, the taxpayers and users of medical care, thousands of dollars.

When people ignore the facts about exercise and nutrition their bodies deteriorate at a much more rapid rate than they would if they take care of themselves. Rapidly deteriorating bodies need medical intervention at a higher rate than healthy bodies. These people who do not take care of themselves use resources that could have been used in a more efficient way.

This may sound confusing at first, but we should realize that health care has limited resources. There are a limited number of doctors, nurses and medical technicians. These resources are distributed by economics. Those who can afford health care with cash or medical insurance get first dibs on these resources. People who have Medicare or veteran benefits are on the next tier. And, the poor that have no medical coverage can only use these resources when they have a life threatening disease. This is the current system, like it or not.

When more people need to use these resources the demand increases. And, based on the supply and demand curve of economics the price must go up in order to limit the use of those resources to those who can afford them. Therefore we have a situation where many people who abuse their bodies but have medical insurance are allowed to use limited resources that people who may lack health insurance, but take care of themselves can not afford to use when they need access to these resources. This leads to people who lack insurance going years without having a simple medical check-up. These people miss opportunities for early intervention into diseases that could be diagnosed and cured before more damage is done. When these people experience major symptoms it could be to late to save their lives, or require much more expensive treatments that these people can not afford. The cost for these treatments eventually gets passed on to the healthy carriers of health insurance.

By taking a step back and looking at the big picture it is clear that people who abuse their bodies are taking the resources of health care from the rest of us. This being the case we need to encourage people to live healthier lives, because it does effect us all. We should not be swayed by the argument that some “self-abusers” make that it is their body and they can do what they want with it. Every time you see an obese person walking through the grocery store eating a box of Ice-cream sandwiches because they can’t wait until they get home they are taking a doctor’s time away from the rest of us.

The fact of the matter is that our country in general is overweight and the reason revolves around easy access to calories and lack of will to burn them. Consider that the average person only burns around 1500 calories per day. Now consider that one pound of fat corresponds to 3500 calories of stored energy. That means that if you sat around all day and didn’t eat anything at all you could only loose less than half a pound of stored fat. You would need to starve yourself for more than two days to loose one pound of stored fat. Obviously this is not a healthy way to diet, but this is just to illustrate the extreme measures that one needs to take if one wants to loose weight without doing exercise. Starvation is not only a difficult solution, it is not a healthy solution. By burning only the stored fat your body does not get nutrients such as vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy life.

However, exercise offers an important option to those who really want to loose weight and live a healthy life. For example, by using a treadmill for an hour and ten minutes I was able to burn 1000 calories, according to the display on the machine. This means that I could eat a balanced diet of 500 calories per meal for three meals over a day and still loose a pound of fat every three days. There is no need to starve. Obviously the real world is more complicated than this, but if one considers a calorie budget where exercise buys the opportunity to eat more calories and even a small amount of exercise can help map a path to a healthy life. For example, walking 30 minutes a day might burn about 400 calories. This might not seem like much, but if you add this to your routine and don’t eat any more than you already do you can loose a pound of fat every nine days. Obviously doing a little more will result in more weight loss, but at least knowing this will help devise a plan for your objective. So, cutting back on your calorie intake by 400 calories per day and walking 30 minutes per day will result in loosing a pound of fat every 4.5 days. By doing this for 45 days will result in loosing 10 pounds of fat and so on.

Knowing these simple facts should go a long way in fighting the battle for personal health. But if America can be convinced to turn themselves around and live healthier lives it will benefit us all by freeing up the limited health care resources we have in this country.

Be a patriot and take care of yourself.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Health Care Once Again

It seems like health care continues to be a major point of concern for me personally, so I tend to write about it quite often. But, this time I’m not writing about US health care, but instead Iraqi health care.

It turns out that the RAND corporation has just released an important report on the failures of the US to win the hearts and minds of the people in Iraq and Afghanistan after the US lead invasions. It turns out that when people are upset about life in general they get upset with those who are in charge. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but apparently the Bush administration didn’t think this through.

Well, actually maybe the Bush administration did think this through. They don’t believe that Americans living in the good ol’ USA don’t deserve health care, so why should the Iraqis or Afghanis?

Well, it seems to be par for the course. That’s what we get when we have George W Bush the Decider.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Listen to a delusional maniac:

Bush The Decider

He hears the voices? Isn’t that a bit scary?

He even reads the front page…

But don’t worry, he’s the decider!

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit


How important is the Resurrection of Jesus? Christians view the resurrection as proof of life after death. Therefore, if we know that there is life after death, then we know that there is an ultimate reward for all the suffering that we do on Earth. We suffer on Earth in many different ways. The poor suffer more than the wealthy. But, the poor could become wealthy if they take weapons and kill the wealthy and take their money. Of course pirates, bandits and thieves did this all the time. Corrupt politicians, crooked businessmen and morally bankrupt opportunists do this without the blood everyday today. The promise of Hell for the evil doers and Heaven for the good is used to keep the majority of the people morally in line. Civil law is an attempt to keep the rest in line.

However, we all know people who are good without the threat of punishment or the promise of reward. These people in general are more secure than the rest of us. They have enough to get by on and they don’t panic about loosing everything that they have. They do not worry about gangs killing them and taking their stuff. These people have enough and they are secure in themselves, not needing more things to make them feel safe. They are generally happy with their situation. These people, however, may not be happy with life in general, because they still feel that something is missing. Could it be their relationship to God?

I view the importance of the Resurrection in the context of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I assume that you know about this, but if you don’t Wikipedea has a good overview.

The problem that any religion has is not only to describe how people should behave, but to get people to live by the teachings of the religion. Obviously making a list of suggested rules will not be followed when people see that those who don’t follow them are rewarded. As people mature along Maslow’s hierarchy the rules are no longer needed, because people already know and understand how they should behave. People volunteer to do what is good for the community to fulfill higher needs associated with esteem and learning.

But, most people in America have their basic needs met and they are working on Maslow’s 2nd and 3rd levels. People who are worried about safety and security can easily be influenced by the threat and reward system. Making promises of threat for breaking the rules and promises of reward for following the rules are a religion’s method of control. Obviously Jesus taught us about the importance of love, which is in the next level on relationships. But, if people don’t have their security met they will be difficult to convince that relationship issues are even worth pursuing.

The dilemma becomes: if everyone were to put their effort into building their relationship with God and each other the security issues will be met, but the security issues are not met so the people aren’t convinced to make an effort to build relationships.

Creating a punishment reward system for people who are functioning at the security level bridges this dilemma. This enables more people to live with security so that they can begin to make an effort at the relationship level. As the community grows more and more members function at the relationship level and the punishment reward system should be viewed as a means to get people to function at the higher level, that is building relationships with God and the community. When emphasis is placed on the Resurrection of Jesus over the teachings of Jesus one is locking themselves into the punishment/reward system and not letting go to grow into the relationship level.

Maybe the Resurrection of Jesus happened. Maybe it didn’t. It really doesn’t matter to me. I don’t need proof for the existence of God. I have the entire Universe to admire and all the mysteries that it holds. I don’t need to know how it was created to know that it is special. Just like the Earth doesn’t need to be the center of the Universe in order for me to know that it is important. I have the miracle of life to appreciate, so why do I need to believe in a magical world of make believe. The fact that I am actually able to think and wonder about my place in the Universe gives me comfort and meaning.

Obviously these thoughts differ from the majority of Christians. But I don’t need the reassurance of a peer group to know if I am right. I am happy not knowing whether I am right or wrong. If Jesus did rise from the dead, then that would mean that I have all that much more time to sit around and wonder about the mysteries of the Universe. If there isn’t life after death then I am happy that I made the most of the time that I do have here on Earth building my relationship with God and the people in my community. What difference does it make?

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Monday, April 17, 2006

Two Movies

Maybe you don’t realize this, but Christianity isn’t a monolithic institution. Christianity, of course, has bifurcated many times over the last 2000 years. Many times in the past the Christian community has found disagreement within itself and the solution has been to separate. Each time this has happened it is certain that Jesus winced a little as he watched the hatred from above. After all, Jesus was about community, love and relationships. Breaking away from the community is like turning away from God. When one entire group turns away from another entire group it is a large tear in the community that Jesus sacrificed to build.

If there is anything that Jesus made clear in his teaching it was the importance of community. After all, the Last Supper’s celebration of Passover culminating in Jesus’ great sacrifice for all men is the pinnacle of his teachable moments. But, not all Christians agree with this point of view, and that is why they can find it more important to break away from the community and start their own movement.

This is quite evident in the current American culture. There are many Christian Churches that cover the spectrum of theological and political thought. Some Christian religions allow and even encourage a wide range of thought and some Christian religions limit their thought to very specific understanding of what they believe that Jesus taught. Since we don’t have Jesus present as a human today we can not ask him what God wants us to do in every circumstance, and this leaves us not knowing which religion has all the right answers. Considering the statistics and probability chances are that the religion you have chosen to follow must be flawed in some way if you choose to believe everything that they teach. If you follow a religion that allows more open understanding of the issues, then you are more likely to have your bases covered.

However, today in the United States of American Christianity can be divided in another way. There are conservative and liberal Christians. Some Christian religions encourage both liberal and conservatives to work together because they believe that a community is made up of many different points of view. Other religions have so narrowly defined what they believe to be right and wrong that there is no leeway allowed. This division between conservatives and liberals is known as polarization because people are drawn to one of two different poles, like the poles of a magnet. When a community is highly divided over an issue where there are very few people in the middle the community is said to be polarized. Polarization is dangerous because a community can be separated easily into two groups, each around the individual pole. Even if the community does not separate, discussion of the polarizing issues becomes limited. Each group believes that they are “right” and there is no reason for discussion. Since Jesus’ intention for community remains at issue the issue of polarization should be important to both groups and discussion and compromise should be in everyone’s vocabulary.

If you want to get some insight into the polarization of Christianity I would recommend viewing two movies based on the sacrifice of Jesus. The recent “The Passion of the Christ” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
The first movie emphasizes the suffering of Jesus almost to the point that suffering in itself is a purpose. The second movie emphasizes Jesus’ organization of the Christian community. In this movie the fact that Jesus needs to martyr himself for the sake of the community to live seems to almost ignore the sacrifice itself. But, these two movies are both important in that they look at Jesus from two different points of view. A community who looks at Jesus through only one of these portals misses the point of the other. The accuracy of the depiction isn’t really that important. Even though “The Passion of the Christ” could be imagined as if you were actually right there as the event happened it misses most of the politics that lead up to the event, and it calls on the Devil and his minions to explain why humans behave the way they do. This almost makes the viewer believe that humans don’t have control over their lives, or if they have any control it requires an almost supernatural effort to overcome the Devil. On the other hand, “Jesus Christ Superstar” assumes that we can’t know what it was like in any way and therefore we won’t even bother to try for authenticity. The ideas are above the visuals, even though they filmed it in Israel for a faux “authentic” backdrop.

So, a moderate Christian should be able to sit and watch both of these movies and understand the point of view and understand the point of the movies. The polarized Christian will find himself in one camp or the other not willing to see the point of the other movie.

Since Jesus gave us the mandate to live for a Christian community we need to strive for that. All Christians should try to learn about the full spectrum of Christian thought, but not feel compelled to agree with all of it. Jesus reaches out to each of us in different ways. Unification is above polarization. Christians need to work for a common Christian community.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

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Friday, April 14, 2006


Maybe it’s time to take a lesson from Jesus and work a little on our ability to forgive those who do those stupid things that really rile us.

Three years ago George W Bush invaded Iraq. At the time there were a large number of people who believed what the President said and they believed that America was protecting itself from an evil dictator that was about to drop a nuclear weapon on us. The people who bought into this idea worried that if they didn’t do anything the bomb could be dropped at any time. The fear spread through the country from 9/11 was still fresh in everyone’s mind and fear makes people believe just about anything.

I know how fear works, because I have experienced it. I am sure that many people have. It makes you do irrational things. It makes you paranoid. A suggestion can begin to consume you.

When I was a teenager I got the idea to hop a fence at a local pool and go in for a midnight dip. It sounded like a lot of fun, so a few of us found a pool that seemed to be secluded enough that swimming in it wouldn’t attract attention. We hopped the fence easily and we went into the changing area to take our clothes off. The changing area was a concrete structure and the traffic noise from the road seemed quite loud inside the building at night. After getting changed we began to think that someone might be outside. The traffic noise was so loud that if someone were outside we probably wouldn’t be able to distinguish their noise from the traffic noise. We began to imagine someone outside the building and fear began to overtake us. We thought about going out into the pool, but it no longer sounded like a good idea because we had become paranoid that someone might catch us. In a few minutes we had put our clothes back on and we were back over the fence. When I think about this story I can still sense some of the fear I felt when we were in that changing room. Fear had influenced our decision not to swim in that pool that day.

It may seem obvious that people should be fearful when they are doing something wrong. Going swimming in a neighborhood pool was certainly wrong, and that fear could have been a good thing. After all, penalties for breaking the laws are supposed to deter people from breaking the laws. But, there is more to fear than just fear of breaking the laws. Terrorism itself is based on fear. During the French Revolution terror was used to scare the people into joining the revolt. The French Revolution was not about defense of a nation, but it was an uprising against the ruling class. Terror created fear in the people and that fear made them do things that they might not have done if they had been thinking rational thoughts.

But, after a while people are no longer afraid. The fear goes away, and people feel free to act in rational ways again. Just because I was fearful to go swimming in that neighborhood pool one midnight did not prevent me from going swimming with my friends on other nights. We just found another place that seemed to be safer and we were less fearful. We ended up finding a secluded beach at the lake instead.

Similarly, three years ago many people were afraid of Iraq attacking us with nuclear bombs. The fear made them rally behind a stupid idea of invading Iraq. Based on opinion polls, a large majority of Americans agree that the Iraq War is a major debacle. This could have only happened if people changed their minds. Americans have changed their minds because they no longer fear Iraq attacking us with nuclear weapons. Many of these people still believe that there are people in Iraq that might wish us harm. But, the major fear of nuclear weapons no longer exists.

Some people have always been against the Iraq War. They never feared the nuclear attack. They saw the war as a war for oil, or power in the Middle East. They weren’t afraid of Iraq. They may have been afraid of the Bush administration, but for whatever reason they chose to oppose the Iraq War early on. And, these people find it hard to forgive those who had supported the Iraq War and later changed their minds. After all, those who had recently changed their minds had listened perhaps all of the death, destruction and wasted money could have been preserved. It is certainly hard to forgive this sin.

However, I am here to tell you that we must forgive these people and accept them into the anti-war movement. We need to make these people feel welcome because there is strength in unity. After all, Jesus taught us to forgive the sinner.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Misleading the Public Again

Can the Republican leadership find any new ways to mislead the American people?

Apparently they can. They have now begun blaming the Democrats for not supporting an amendment to the House immigration bill that would make illegal status in the US a felony. The amendment in question would have reduced the act to a misdemeanor. The Democrats said they were not in favor of any criminal penalty, so why would they support an amendment to reduce it?

The bill was not amended, and so the felony punishment remained in the bill. The Republicans passed the measure on a party line vote. So, the Democrats voted against the amendment making illegal status a misdemeanor and they voted against the overall bill making it a felony. They voted consistent with what they said. But the Republicans are claiming that the Democrats didn’t allow them to reduce the punishment in the bill.

How does this make any sense at all?

The Republicans control congress. They control the House of Representatives. If they didn’t want the bill to contain the felony clause in it, then they should not have introduced the bill with it in it. The Democrats can’t get their legislation even up to the floor to be voted on. The Republicans control the process, they can amend the bill themselves, without the help of the Democrats. They need to fix their own agenda and get a bill that at least 50% of the country agrees with. They need to come up with a fair and balanced law that does not break up families. They need to work together with the Democrats, instead of fighting them and blaming them.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tolerance Again

What should society be tolerant too? Where should the line be drawn?

The religious right likes to say “tolerance to a point, there are laws that should not be broken.” We shouldn't tolerate the breaking of laws. Should we have tolerance for a murderer? He chooses to kill people as a lifestyle choice. A rapist or a pedophile chooses their lifestyle as well. Should we have tolerance for these people?

The difference is that murderers effect the social structure of general population. Homosexuals don’t do that based on their lifestyle choice. On the other hand, rapists and pedophiles like murders do put society at risk.

Unfortunately the religious right can’t see the difference between rapists, pedophiles and homosexuals. I am guessing that that is a lifestyle choice. I believe that they can be taught to understand the difference, but they choose not to. Perhaps if they had some help from the leaders in the church this could change. But, it seems that the leaders of these churches are the most ignorant of all.

What can be done when people choose to be ignorant?

Instead of reading the story of Jesus, where he set an example by eating with the sinners, the ignorant choose to bend the teachings in the Bible to support their own ignorance. As we read and think about the life of Jesus we realize that the key confrontation is between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus is the radical that stands up against the popular teaching of the time that sin causes our misfortune. And, this sin is defined by long lists of dietary restrictions, rituals that should be followed and peculiar ideas not based in fact. Jesus comes back against these ideas by saying that love is more important than these silly ideas, rituals and restrictions. So, if the law has a basis in love of humanity, then it is valid.

Of course the Pharisees put Jesus to death because of this heresy. But the legacy of Jesus lived on, teaching us that the value of love beyond the written law. We should remember that the laws that Jesus questioned were written in the Bible. He worked a miracle on the Sabbath, proving to the Pharisees that Jesus could not have come from God. Breaking the Sabbath was more important than an obscure writing in Leviticus saying that a man should not lie with a man like a woman. But, the present day Pharisees have presented themselves as the leaders of the fundamentalists and the hatred they show by their ignorance isn’t any different than the ignorance the Pharisees who put Jesus to death. And, that hatred fans out to society.

How many Christians truly believe that Jesus would approve of the intolerance for homosexuals that the religious right spread among its crowd? I can hear the echo, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him,” that originated from the mouths of our present day Pharisees.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Yet Another Deception

We, the People of the United States of America, need to face the fact that we were lied to by the President of the United States.

When Joe Wilson pointed out that the Iraq had not sought “yellow cake” uranium from Niger the administration quickly rebutted the argument with selected information leaked from quickly declassified documents. The intelligence community already knew that the previous information contained in those documents had been disputed, but the Bush administration used it to protect their decision to go to war. The public quickly became confused when supporters of the president echoed these untruths over and over again. Even with Joe Wilson on lecture tour pointing out the lies of the Bush administration the attack dogs echoed that he was but one discredited witness, yet another lie.

When the Downing Street memo came out, supporters of the president used everything in their power to dismiss them as wild speculation or misinterpretation by the aid taking the notes. Since these memos were not official documents, why should they be believed? And, the public was quickly confused again. The echo chamber of the right continued to claim that there were problems with these documents putting doubt in the general public’s collective mind.

Throughout the 2004 election campaign the president refused to be questioned by serious reporters. When John Kerry won all three debates the Republicans shrugged their collective shoulders and said that George had a few of bad days. Although the public was a little wary about what they were being told the organized “Swift Boat” campaign confused the public once again. The lies of these people made the war hero and anti-war protester John Kerry look inferior to the draft dodging George W Bush. And, enough of the people were confused to re-elect the most incompetent president in US history.

Today, yet another deception has been place in the general public for scrutiny. George W Bush claimed that the long sought after weapons of mass destruction had been uncovered in May of 2003. This information was proclaimed as justification for our illegal, immoral and unethical invasion of Iraq. But, the truth was that these trailers that the president spoke of were already known not to be the biolabs that we sought. Either the president was out of the loop, or he was purposely misleading the American people once again. Either way, we need to ask ourselves why anyone would want this guy running our government? But, if we take the full picture into account it certainly looks more likely that the White House has been misleading the American people all along.

If this is true, what should be done about it? Impeachment would only lead to the even scarier scenario, President Richard Cheney. But, an investigation could certainly shed some light on the extent of this deception. Unfortunately, the loyalty of the Republican Party knows no bounds. They protect their own by concealing everything that they can. The Republicans are afraid that the house of cards may come tumbling down. Just look at what has been revealed in the relatively benign investigation of the Valarie Plame CIA leak. The only solution left to the American people is to vote the rascals out. If the Democrats are able to get control of either the House of Representatives or the Senate they will finally be able to launch investigations and get to the bottom of these deceptions. Then the American people will finally be able to know the full extent of the corruption of the Republican Party and the White House.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Push Polling

It was Sunday afternoon and our family was getting ready to watch an old movie. It was a movie based on a true story about the corrupt Chicago government of the 1930s. It was about how a gang had been able to shoot a policeman and get away with it. It was about how people were able to get alcohol even when it was against the law. It was about police who looked the other way to allow a speakeasy to operate. The gang was able to frame two small time thieves with the murder and the corrupt police department would rather have a conviction than an unsolved case. The mayor and even the governor would rather not dig into a case that was already solved. The gang was able to frighten an eyewitness into lying for them in court and the two innocent men were convicted. Everyone was conditioned to believe that the government was right and innocent men don’t go to jail.

It seems real easy to see the multiple errors in this true story from the 1930s. It is easy to believe that these politicians would rather choose the easy solution than the truth. Only when the mother of one of these convicted men ran a personal advertisement seeking someone to set the record straight did a reporter become interested. The reporter, being prompted by his editor, began to uncover the truth some eleven years later. But, even this reporter doubted the innocence of the two men. Somehow when distance and time come between you and the event it all seems to make sense, because you are not affected by the events in question. The point is, no one wants to believe that things don’t work the way you thought that they worked.

So, when I got a phone call from a pollster this Sunday afternoon I thought that I would like to give my point of view. After all, in a poll I represent many people and I want people to know how I feel about the issues. That should be obvious to you if you are reading this.

The pollster began by asking if he was speaking to the right person and if I was going to vote in the upcoming Democratic primary. Since I have voted in every election since I have turned 18 I answered with a confident yes. Then he asked me if I had been following my local state assemblyman race, to which I had to admit that I wasn’t. After all, the election wasn’t until June and even the local paper hadn’t had anything about the race yet. Where was I going to get my information?

It turns out that in my district there are two former mayors running for the same seat in my primary. They are from cities in which I don’t follow the politics, so I really never heard of either of these two people before. Little did I know, I was the ideal candidate for this phone call. He asked me which candidate I preferred. I felt a little embarrassed about not knowing about these candidates, but that didn’t matter to the pollster, he just told me to answer the questions and it didn’t matter. He said, so you are undecided and I agreed with him. He put me at ease by asking about my general feeling about education, health care, the environment, jobs etc… I began to feel like I was contributing to the poll.

Then he went back to the two candidates. He went through a list of supposed “good” things about one candidate. After each one he asked me to rate whether the information would be beneficial in helping me decide between the two candidates. I needed to answer, “extremely beneficial,” “very beneficial,” “somewhat beneficial,” or “not beneficial.” He asked me about ten different specific “things” about the candidate. Then he asked me about three negative things about the same candidate asking for the same responses. Then he moved on to candidate number two, where he proceeded to ask about ten negative things about this candidate. And he never mentioned a single positive point about candidate number two. That’s when I finally caught on that this poll was actually an advertisement for candidate number one.

Now, I new about push polling from the news stories from the 2000 Republican primary election in South Carolina. This is where George W Bush hired pollsters to push poll the Republicans in South Carolina with questions like, “If you knew that John McCain had been diagnosed with a mental disorder would that influence your decision?” or “If you knew that John McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child would that influence your decision?” But now that I have experienced it first hand I am upset about the dishonesty involved here.

First of all, at no point does the caller identify himself as being affiliated with either candidate, but it is certainly clear from the questions asked later on. However, secondly, the pollster is basically posing as a pollster but is a telemarketer instead. Thirdly, the deception isn’t complete unless the pollster can maintain the appearance of being a neutral party asking neutral questions. People under the guise of taking a poll have let their guard down, because they are lead to believe that they are letting their opinions be heard, when instead the pollster is preying on this dropped defense in order to influence the unsuspecting person.

To me this practice is quite despicable. Basically the candidate that hired a firm to do this believes that deception of the public will get them elected. Knowing that this is being used as a political strategy tells me more about their personal honesty than all of the reasons the pollster cited in his “poll.” However, most people will never know that the poll was actually an advertisement. How many people that were called would recognize what was being done? What about all the people who weren’t called? They certainly wouldn’t know that it was being done. If a politician is running for a seat in the assembly, congress, or senate I expect honesty to be the number one issue. If I can’t trust them in general, then how can I trust them to do what they promised to do when they win the election?

What ever happened to campaigning on the issues? Maybe I am being naïve, but shouldn’t a candidate champion the best in what they have done and win based on previous jobs well done? I feel like the characters in the movie that believed that the government worked. People who were elected deserved to be elected, because they earned it with hard work and getting their message out to the people. All of that effort, meant that they were likely to continue to make an effort for our community. But, the slimy action I witnessed with the push polling has made me a little more cynical once again. Just how many candidates are using this technique? Can there ever be an honest politician? How can these people be exposed?

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Monday, April 10, 2006

Like Iraq, Like Iran

Why should be believe George W Bush?

“I'm sick and tired of games and deception,” George W Bush in January 2003 discussing Saddam Hussein.

I know exactly the feeling that President Bush was trying to communicate to the American people back in 2003. But I feel it toward George W Bush. The frustration of a regime that would play games and use deception cuts at the very idea of a government by the people and for the people. But, Iraq never proclaimed itself to have a government by the people or for the people. However, the United States of American not only declares this, but it enshrines it in the idea of American culture. The United States of America proclaims this as a principle of American society and it claims that it should be exported around the world. So, when I see the games and deceptions emanating from the Bush administration I feel sick to my stomach and tired of the never ending excuses given to the citizens of the United States.

Today at the White House Press conference Scott McClellen was swatting questions like flies. Helen Thomas asked him if the US was going to attack Iran. The answer from Scott McClellen was that we were using diplomacy. Now, this sounds extremely familiar. Back in 2002 the Bush administration insisted that we were using diplomacy in order to win the support of the United Nations in the run up to the war in Iraq as we stationed American troops around Iraq. It is pretty clear today that the United States didn’t really care what the UN would say, the were going to get regime change with or without the support of the UN. But that isn’t what was said at the time. For example, from a press briefing in September 2002:

Q So the President agrees with Secretary Powell that there must be an international coalition consensus before there is any attack on Iraq?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President has always said that he will consult. The President has always said that through leadership, others follow. That creates coalitions and that continues to be the President's view and the Secretary's view and the administration's view.

Q And Vice President Cheney agrees that there -- with Secretary Powell on the need for inspectors to go back in?

MR. FLEISCHER: The American position, as the Vice President said in his remarks, and Secretary Powell said, and as the President has said, is that arms inspectors in Iraq are a means to an end, but the end is knowledge that Iraq has lived up to its promises that it made to end the Gulf War, that it has in fact disarmed, that it does not possess weapons of mass destruction. And the President's position, the Vice President's position, the Secretary's position consistently have been --

Click here for the entire Press Briefing.

And, the actions of the President seemed to suggest that the US was going into Iraq regardless of what public thought about the idea of invading Iraq. The question was put to Ari Fleischer:

Q There's a widespread public impression based upon the statements that the President and others in the administration have already made that he seeks a military solution, whether it is correct or incorrect. Don't you run the risk of backing yourselves into a corner where no other solution is possible unless he speaks out soon?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think this issue raises one of the most fundamental matters of a democracy, of a presidency, leadership, Congress' role as well. And these are the very difficult judgments that Presidents of the United States are called upon to make, where they have to ascertain at what point is the price of inaction greater than the price of action. At what point do the dangers presented outweigh the risks of doing nothing. And these are why nations have elections, why they elect leaders, why these leaders have authority to use, why these leaders use this authority in conjunction with the Congress. But again, it presupposes a decision made. No decision such made, but the President understands the vital importance of all the various issues that you're raising. These are the right issues to raise. The President is aware of them all.

Click here for the entire Press Briefing.

And, even after Congress gave authority to the president to wage war in Iraq, the Bush administration wasn’t honest about its intention. In this press briefing the White House seems to suggest that this request for the use of force is just a technicality. Ari Fleischer is trying to assure reporters that it isn’t likely that the President Bush would actually use this authority unless he had overwhelming support for the operation.

Q Is regime change, though, part of the goal of what you're trying to accomplish through the U.N.?

MR. FLEISCHER: The goal of what we're trying to accomplish through the U.N. is exactly what the President laid out last week, which begins with disarmament and Iraq's honoring the resolutions to destroy all their weapons of mass destruction; to cease the repression of minorities; the return of prisoners that were taken in the '91 war; to renounce Iraq's involvement with terrorism; to permit no terrorist organizations to operate in Iraq; and to cease its violation of the oil-for-food programs. Those are the issues the President brought to the attention of the United Nations.

Q Ari, if I could follow up on Sandra's question. Now that the President has secured the bipartisan agreement of the leadership of Congress to pass a resolution authorizing him to use force, is he prepared to share with the American people, to level with the American people, about what the use of force actually, practically means? For instance, is the administration, now that this debate is underway and will take place in the next couple of days, prepared to say how long will American soldiers be in Iraq, should the President use this authority he is seeking?

MR. FLEISCHER: Make no doubt, if this gets to the point where the President decides that force is the route to go in order to preserve the greatest chance for world peace, and for regional peace, the President will, of course, speak to the American people. The President is in the middle of a process where he began at the United Nations talking to the world about the importance of the United Nations showing its relevance. And the President has started this process as a result of the consultations not only with the Congress, the United Nations, but, of course, the American people have a right to hear what the President thinks. And that, if it comes to that point, the President will do that at the appropriate time.

Q But the Congress is now at the sticking point, at the point at which members and senators have to decide, based on what their constituents' view is, in part, to give the President the authority to use this force. They now have to make the decision. And don't they need the answer to the question, if we give you this force, this authority to use force, how long will American soldiers be in --

MR. FLEISCHER: The President will continue to talk about this publicly and in various forums and in various ways. And at the appropriate time, in his judgment, he will talk to the American people more directly about it.

Q One more question. He expects the Congress to vote to authorize him to use force before he answers the question how long American soldiers would be expected to be in Iraq and what government the United States would support, post Saddam?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think Congress is asking the appropriate questions in the hearings that it has, so that Congress can make the appropriate decisions as they approach a vote on a resolution. And I think Congress is satisfied with what they are hearing from the President and are hearing from the administration witnesses that are going up there this week, today, tomorrow and the next day. Anything beyond that, I don't want to speculate about the timing of it, but the President understands, of course, the importance of talking to the country about it. It's a vital part of the job of the President.

Click here for the entire Press Briefing.

And, today we have Scott McClellen and George W Bush asserting that the idea of attacking Iran is wild speculation. It may be speculation, but it certainly isn’t that wild if we consider the history of the administration using deception to gain support for the attack on Iraq…

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Friday, April 07, 2006

Plausible Deniability

Why didn’t Ronald Reagan get stung for the Iran Contra scandal? The answer is Plausible Deniability. Reagan was able to convince the American people that he didn’t know the details of what was going on. After all, that was why he had such a great staff. Each staff member delegated general tasks, and the details were dealt with down the chain of command. There wasn’t any need to know the details if you trust your henchmen employees; it is admirable to trust your employees.

The Republicans, who had been caught off guard when Richard Nixon’s evil deeds were revealed, realized that Plausible Deniability was the perfect strategy. Plausible Deniability allowed the administration to operate in what ever way they wanted, and as long as the President could claim plausible deniability he was safe. The President determines the administration, and as long as he was safe the administration was protected.

The ideal President for the Republicans was no longer an intellectual politician that knew how to pull all the strings. Instead the ideal President was a frontman who was capable of delivering the Republican Party line from time to time in order to give the public the appearance that everything is in control while the team makes all the decisions with little regard to the President. George W Bush fit the bill perfectly. The American people got a President that told them what they wanted to hear and the Republicans got the ability to do just about anything they wanted to do. If something went wrong, the President could claim plausible deniability keeping him safe, and he could keep the rest of the staff protected from investigation and dismissal.

During the first term in office the administration needed to be careful, if they wanted to win re-election. After all, pushing the envelope to far could push approval polls into the depths and hence destroy any hopes of re-election. In the second term, without concern for re-election the administration knows that it does not need to be as careful, and information has slowly begun to trickle out of the administration.

The latest news was that Scooter Libby has testified that he got authority to leak classified information in order to bolster the support for the Iraq War. For those of you who don’t believe that the President lies, this case demonstrates how fine a line he is willing to walk in order to deceive the public without actually straight out lying. Christians out there may take notice that the Bible doesn’t actually say “lie” but “bear false witness,” which amounts to what the president did here.

Since the discovery of the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name the President has told the American people that leaking classified information was a serious problem and it would be dealt with severely. Now, if classified information was declassified and leaked by the President hairs are certainly being split to deceive the public. But, technically he wouldn’t be lying, because the information was no longer classified. However, declassifying only the information that supports the case for war is certainly deceptive. Not putting the entire document out into the public to be studied in order to see the entire assessment of the cause for war would normally be considered propaganda. These are the kinds of arguments used against the Soviet Union. And it is sad that America is going down the same road.

So, technically if George W Bush told Dick Cheney to get “our” information out to the press. George W Bush technically wouldn’t know what Dick Cheney did and he could claim plausible deniability. George W Bush delegated the ability to declassify documents to Dick Cheney, so the President wouldn’t need to get his hands dirty in any detailed way. Now, George W Bush can claim that he doesn’t like the problem of leaks in public and technically tell the truth without knowing that he actually authorized the leak himself. This is the disgusting way the Bush administration misleads the public and manages to get away with it.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Religion: Conservatives vs. Liberals

If we assume that the purpose of religion is to enhance the human experience by giving us solace in our existence, then we can try to understand in broad terms what the difference is between religious conservatives and religious liberals.

In general everyone would like his or her life to be better than it is. A conservative is a person who is generally happy with the way things are and they would only like to change the status quo if there is a high expectation that the change will make things better. A liberal on the other hand is a person who is generally not happy with the way things are. They are willing to change things in the hope that things will get better, because they can’t get much worse.

You can change the statement to a religion perspective easily by restating what I said this way:

Everyone wants religious solace in some way. A religious conservative is someone who finds this solace in his religion and is pretty happy about this. Any change to finding this comfort and consolation may be attempted only if they are certain that the change will help, not harm the arrangement. A religious liberal is not happy about how she/he finds his/her religious solace. This person is always in search of trying to make the religious experience better by many different methods. They may read the Bible in search of new understanding, or they may explore different religions or religious ideas in different ways.

Obviously this is quite abstract and general, but it is a good place to start to look at the different behavior of religious conservatives and religious liberals. There are religious conservatives in every faith, and they each believe that they have found the true religious way. The degree of conservative nature could be measured by asking how strongly one believes that they have found the one and only way to religious solace. Obviously the vocabulary differs from religion to religion, and different religions have different names for “religious solace.” Even an atheist has some level of comfort in his understanding of his place in the Universe. The agnostic would be more liberal if they search for solace, but are skeptical about the existence of God than the conservative atheist that knows for certain that God does not exist.

This helps to explain why each group behaves the way that they do. Conservative groups need assurance that they are right about what they believe, because doubt brings fear that they might be wrong. Other religious groups present a doubt to the conservative’s status quo. Thinking about problems in religious understanding lead to doubt, unless those questions are quickly answered. This behavior explains the need for annotated Bibles that have the answers for typical questions noted through out the book. Lingering questions can lead to doubt and doubt can lead to fear and fear can lead to less religious solace. Fear of losing religious solace permeates the religious conservative culture on many levels. And, it explains why it is so important for religious conservatives to prove that they have all the answers to life’s questions. These answers are often found in lists of laws and the adherence to strict rules and rituals.

Religious liberals typically believe that their faith is a good starting place to understand their place in the Universe. Being human and imperfect means that they can’t expect perfect solace, but they try any way. Religion is seen as a good suggestion for human behavior and trying to understand religious teachings gives insight into how to better live ones life. The exceptions and details of how to apply each rule, law or ritual gives insight, but they do not give all the answers. Answers can be found anywhere and in any aspect of life. Human imagination offers hypothetical situations that challenge laws and rules and these challenges offer insight that each situation is specific. This leads to the idea of situational ethics that liberals accept and conservatives deny.

The main point is that questions and indecision with respect to religion are feared by the conservative if they challenge his/her understanding of his religious foundation. The liberal already feels that her/his religious experience is less than it could be and questions about his/her understanding is already common place. Answering those questions is a hope for the religious liberal, but not the expectation.

Where you find yourself on the spectrum from religious liberal to religious conservative is most likely to be in the center for most people. There are issues and ideas that you believe and you fear challenges to those ideas. There are issues and ideas that you have doubts about and you wonder how they should be resolved. Conservative groups looking for members look for people who are searching, and they offer concrete answers in the hope that these answers will give the person religious solace. Conservatives find comfort in knowing that others agree with them, giving strength to their religious foundation. Liberal groups have a completely different attitude, believing that people looking for religious solace may stumble in and take some solace from community worship. Liberals expect that people will gain insight if they need it and people generally find what they need from the range of rituals, law and rules offered.

Liberal or Conservative, it doesn’t really matter because we are all looking for the same thing. The paths to religious solace are varied and many…

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bush Needs to Pray More

Christians now say that Bush isn't praying enough...


Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Liberal Media?

The conservative radio talk show hosts have polluted the public with the falsehood that we have a liberal media. This assertion has been based on a number of things, mostly based on reporters voting records, or reporters social values. But, the picture of the media is bigger than the reporters; there are the owners as well. Media owners tend to be wealthy and as most wealthy people they tend to be fiscally conservative. However, you don’t often hear cries of a conservative media bias, even in the discussion of fiscal issues.

Conservatives who make the accusation that the media is liberal like to use that argument as a way to dismiss any thing that they disagree with in the media. The truth is that the media bends over backwards to try to be “non-biased.” However, this can actually be a bad thing when they are covering an issue and a person asserts something that is complete fabrication, or 99% of the scientific community disagree with. The modern liberal reporter has created the gold standard of non-bias or objectivity. Knowing this the conservatives have been able to make assertions that are supported by few people and the reporters report the stories as if half the people feel that way, and half feel the way 99% of the scientific data shows. The conservatives have been able to sway reporters by showing one obscure scientific study suggesting some doubt or ambiguity, and the reporter reports his story giving these types of studies more weight than they deserve.

The problem is multifold. Reporters generally don’t have a scientific background and they depend on their source’s interpretation of data, and scientific journal articles. And, reporters generally come from a journalistic background that teaches objective reporting. This has been done to such an extreme that if George W Bush proclaimed the world to be flat, then reporters would announce that there were differing opinions on the subject of the shape of the Earth.

There are many ways in which the “liberal media” has been hijacked by the conservative deception machine, but the most devastating for our country was how the media has been deceived into reporting the conservative falsehoods about the Iraq War. There was the whole WMD issue in the run up to the war, where Judy Miller wrote what she was told to write by the Bush administration. And, the conservatives held the Sword of Damocles over anything that might “hurt the war effort.” Honesty and truth were sacrificed so that the Bush administration could send our soldiers and war profiteers into Iraq on our dime. We have borrowed billions of dollars and reporters have shied away from asking those responsible the hard questions. It has certainly been a sad three years for American journalism.

If anyone still believes that the US news media is liberal, they simply need to surf the web and read the international news stories. These stories have not been sanitized for the American public the way the US news media has. And, not being able to speak a second language shouldn’t be an issue with Watching America. This web site translates many international news stories into English so Americans can see what the world is saying.

One thing that is obvious is the pictures of the death and destruction that have been left out of the American news media. If the news media really is so liberal, why don’t they publish these pictures? The reporters should do a better job being the funerals of the American dead, the Iraqi dead and those who have been harmed by the debacle in Iraq. If the media really were as liberal as the conservatives claim, why aren’t these liberal stories told? I am guessing that the conservatives are not quite right in the broad bush that they paint the media as being liberal. And, like I said before, conservative just like to accuse the media of being liberal when they don’t like what it says. The opposition to the conservative rhetoric needs to address these issues and demand that the “liberal media” report the liberal side of the story.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


In my entry yesterday I introduced the term NeoPharisees. Those who are familiar with the Bible and the English language probably understand what I meant for the term to mean. Although I created the term out of my imagination I thought that I should search the web for others who have also independently created the same term. Since the rise of the religious right and the backlash to that movement I expected to find a large number of entries, because once I thought about it the term seems to be a quite obvious and descriptive term. But I was surprised to find only twelve entries on Google. The earliest entry that I found was from 2002.

But, I was correct that the term always refers to the same Fundamentalist Christians that wave the Bible proclaiming their hatred of all things different from what they call Christian. The irony of this revolves around the reason that Jesus was put to death for the blasphemy proclaimed by the Pharisees and the hordes of Fundamentalist Christians proclaiming books, films, homosexuals and any number of other things as unchristian. This irony is captured beautifully in the term NeoPharisee.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Monday, April 03, 2006

John McCain - Flip Flopper

John McCain has lost my vote. This is not a superficial hypothetical vote that I never would have cast anyway. No, I have written several blogs pointing out how I would vote for him if he were to win the Republican nomination. I pointed this out, because he seemed to be the only Republican that was willing to stand up to the theocratic leaders of the Republican Party. He showed his bravery back in Vietnam and I was convinced that he would continue to be brave in spite of the Christian Neopharisees that are running the Republican Party. In fact, I thought that John McCain could turn the tide and fix the Republican Party from within. I was wrong.

After all, John McCain first earned my vote in 2000 when he spoke out against the theocratic neopharisees running that Republican Party back then. He made this statement on February 28, 2000:(link)

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: My friends, I am a Reagan Republican who will defeat Al Gore. (Cheers and applause) Unfortunately, Governor Bush is a Pat Robertson Republican who will lose to Al Gore. (Cheers and applause) I recognize and celebrate that our country is founded upon Judeo-Christian values, and I have pledged my life to defend America and all her values, the values that have made us the noblest experiment in history. But political intolerance by any political party is neither a Judeo-Christian nor an American value. (Applause) The political tactics of division and slander are not our values. (Applause) They are corrupting influences on religion and politics and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America, shame our faith, our party and our country. (Applause) Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.

I have to say, when I hear another Republican make a statement like this I will certainly be drawn toward them like a moth to fire. But, with John McCain’s flip-flop this weekend I am guessing that it will be a long time before I hear it again. Apparently the neopharisees have a grip on the testicles of the Republican Party and they won’t let go. John McCain was subjected to torture in Vietnam and he wasn’t broken. But the power of the almighty Christian Neopharisees has taken control of John McCain’s brain. And, I need a brave Republican to stand up to these people before I could ever vote that way again.

So, what did John McCain do? Well, he has anounced that he is speaking at Liberty University, the Lynchburg, Va this May. This University is the seat of the NeoPharisee movement lead by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Liberty University was founded by Jerry Falwell and is the conduit of his Fundamentalist Christian values spawning young NeoPharisees bent on focusing of Biblical constructs rather than the message that Jesus taught 2000 years ago. John McCain was right eight years ago when he call these people agents of intolerance. Speaking at this university lends credibility to this seat of intolerance.

More than that, he is kissing up to Jerry Falwell. And the kissing is beginning to look disgusting to me.

This is truly a sad day in American Politics. When I look for a leader to vote for I look for someone who supports a majority of issues the way I agree with. John McCain is a fiscal conservative, and I agree with him on these issues. However, I also look for a man that will stand up for his convictions. And, it is quite clear that he has flip flopped on this important issue. A man who’s head can be turned by the promise of power in the White House is certainly subject to scrutiny. I can only hope that John McCain will come to his senses and stand up for what is right, but at this moment the Republican Party seems to be lost once again to the desire for political power.

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit