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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Friday, September 29, 2006


America is a “free” society. As Americans we have freedom of speech which implies a freedom of the press to look at the facts and tell us the truth. But, the truth is a slippery fish. What one person believes is damning evidence of corruption, greed, ignorance or stupidity could possibly be a noble patriot trying to do the best they can in dire circumstances. How do we the general public know for certain what the facts are? In general we have believed that the press would dig into the dirt and expose the problems or elevate the heroes. However, in this age of media manipulation, with threats or bribery we can never be 100% sure that what the media says is true.

The right has spent years in an effort to discredit the mainstream media by continuously calling them the liberal media. The media in turn believes that they are non-biased and in an effort to show their non-partiality they bend over backwards to give the right a pass when they have obviously distorted, hidden or lied about the issues at hand.

The evidence is overwhelming now that the media never pressed the government in the run-up to the Iraq War. Republicans in charge were mostly never challenged and when they were met with accusations of being anti-war pacifists or unpatriotic. The Republicans used this opportunity to push the limits and avoid the serious questions that we all should have been asking.

Now, the press has gradually found the testicular fortitude to put these issues in the public spotlight. The New York Times obviously put the recently leaked NIE information out in the public, and they have been continuously labeled liberal for doing this. But the point is they actually helped with bolstering the run-up to the war with Judith Miller’s non-researched propaganda from the Bush administration. Maybe the NY Times felt a little guilty for doing the wrong thing 3 years ago. Maybe they have actually grown some cajones and the White House doesn’t scare them any more.

But, not all news media matured the same. For example, as Jon Stewart pointed out Newsweek couldn’t bring itself to putting the same cover on all of the editions of their magazine this week. Three out of four of the covers featured a question about the US effort in Afghanistan. The domestic cover featured the pictures of Annie Leibovitz.

If America is truly “free” as George W Bush parades out every time he feels insecure about the publics view on the War in Iraq, then why is the liberal media like Newsweek afraid to put the facts out there in the public eye?

I’m guessing that the Conservative Extremists have been successful in the propaganda wars. They have painted the media as liberal and the media over compensate for that painting. The result is that news is presented as biased to the right in the media’s effort to over compensate, and the media continues to be painted as leaning left. The general public then creates a world view in their imagination biased to the right.

For example, in the War in Iraq the media continues to equate the War on Terror with the War in Iraq, even though they are two separate issues. But by linking these two problems the right creates an illusion that fighting the War in Iraq is needed to make us safe in America - the Neocon version of the world.

Bob Woodward is releasing his new book, "State of Denial," Monday. This book details the problems with the Bush administrations conducting of the War on Terror. But, we have had a large number of books written by White House insiders detailing the ineffective nature of the Bush administration, but none have seemed to make an impact. The right argues that anything negative is wrong, or a common mistake that anyone could have made, and the public is generally happy with this response. So, will the release of this book be any different?

Well, the Washington Post wrote a piece about the book and this liberal media outlet seems to be a bit middle of the road on the book.

But, the popular media - The Today Show, actually made an effort at assessing the Bush administration’s Iraq War. Maybe there is some hope that more people will grow cajones and tell us the truth without fear.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Just Throw Aggression at the Problem

Conservatives like to make the claim that Liberals will always propose that “…we should throw money at a problem.” Of course this argument could be made about the conservatives as well, because any project will take “seed money” to get it started, no matter what the project is. There is publicity, marketing, staff to get anything off the ground. So, making the claim that throwing money at a problem is only a liberal tendency misses the point of the issue itself.

The point is that there are always issues that need to be solved. Only those that believe in anarchy believe that government has no purpose at all. The anarchists are excused from this argument. But, for the rest of us the argument comes down to how much money the government will spend and what projects will that money be spent on. Paying for the government’s spending is a totally different issue, because taxation is the source of all money whether the money is borrowed now and paid back later, or if people need to be accountable now. I shouldn’t need to say anything about the evil of debt, but the Republicans tend to prefer that evil because it allows them to shirk their responsibility to some later generation.

So, let’s look at what the Republicans have decided to spend your hard earned money on. They have decided that sending troops halfway around the world to try to keep the peace in a civil war is a wise use of your tax dollars. But, to be fair the civil war didn’t happen until we spent the money to invade the country on poor intelligence in the first place. Unfortunately we didn’t spend the money to get good intelligence, because the Republicans that took over the government in 2001 thought that terrorism wasn’t such a big deal. In fact, these Republicans thought that spending the money on “Star Wars” missile protection was a better use of the money. In fact, shifting the spending of money around was an obsession with the early Bush administration.

I think that the summary of this action could easily be stated as shifting money from a “prevention strategy” to an “aggression strategy.” Diplomacy was less important than weapons systems. Cutting money for programs like FEMA, Head Start, and health care in favor of programs like new weapons, star wars and military aid to our allies.

The point is that retort of throwing money at the problem isn’t valid in most cases, because the act of throwing force at a problem generally costs money. And, as we know with the pointless war in Iraq we have thrown $300 billion dollars at the problem and the latest NIE shows that the war is actually fueled by this conflict.

If we were to think about this $300 billion dollars for a moment and the terrorism problem we might be surprised to realize that Bill Clinton’s suggestion of helping Middle Eastern countries to create public education in the Middle East might have addressed this problem in a much more effective way.

Bill Clinton pointed out that the terrorists are largely created in the madrassas, cheap religious schools infiltrated with terrorists. Parents choose to send their children to these schools, because they realize the value of an education in a modern world. Since public education does not exist in these countries, parents are left to choose between the various private education options. And, the parents decide that the cheapest education is the religious education offered by these madrassas. The question could become, how many madrassas could be shut down by helping Middle East countries create public education systems? How much would we be willing to spend to actually reduce number of terrorists recruited through this system? What would the side effects of doing this be? Overall positive or negative effects? How would that compare to our aggressive efforts? How many lives could have been saved by using this approach?

Obviously this is one solution to one problem and I am sure that many bright people out there have many other solutions. We should listen to them and consider them. But we should be careful not to resort to aggression as the solution to every problem. It would be like the old saying, “When all you have is a hammer everything begins to look like a nail.”


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

“Gay Marriage” is more important than the “War on Terror.”

Congresswoman Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) says that Gay Marriage is more important than the “War on Terror.” Well, it depends on who you are if you agree with her or not. If you are a Republican Congress Critter, then I am guessing that you will agree with her 100%. Of course you would, because the Republican Congress and the Republican Executive Branch and now the Republican controlled Supreme Court have totally blown the “War on Terror.” ThinkProgress.com has the video.

Well, to be fair Ms. Musgrave actually said that “Gay Marriage” “is the most important issue that we face today.” So, not only is “Gay Marriage more important than the “War on Terror,” but it is more important than cutting taxes, or saving people from going to Hell. It is more important than feeding the poor, or protecting the rights of the unborn. It is more important than the divorce rate or the homeless problem. It is more important than the War in Iraq, or the space program. It is more important than building better schools or building bridges or highways. It is more important than protecting the environment or the food supply. It is more important than life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. It is more important than the survival United States of America. Boy, it must really be important. Well, at least it is important to her.

At this point I should remind everyone that the Republican Party controls the entire government and if anything is wrong with government we just need to point a finger at the Republicans who can virtually change anything with the drop of a hat. And if Gay Marriage were so important, you would think that the congress would be united behind this threat to America. But, Republicans have lost their leadership skills, or they just never had any. You be the judge.

The problem is that most sane people actually believe that the “War against Islamic Extremism” is a big deal. Perhaps most sane people would prefer to say that it is a tad bit more important than whether two gay people should be allowed to create a social contract between themselves. In fact, we should expand the war to a “War against Religious Extremism.” In this way we can address the Christian Religious Extremists that insist on pushing Gay Marriage prohibition when an election is looming on the horizon.

Well, actually the election is most likely more important than Gay Marriage for Ms. Musgrave, but she just isn’t honest enough to say so. In fact, avoiding talk about the War on Terror and bringing up the issue of Gay Marriage has one thing in common. What, you might naively ask? Well, of course they both raise prospects of reelection. If ignoring your personal failure helps your election, then scaring the voters into voting for you is even better. But, the sad thing is that we should be thinking of real ways to undermine the Islamic Terrorists that spread hatred around the World. But with Republicans in congress that think that Gay Marriage is the most important issue we face today, many issues will not get the attention they deserve. Certainly Ms. Musgrave does not have the people of her district'’ interest at heart and hopefully her challenger will demonstrate that he can do a better job. It shouldn't be hard now that she has said this.

This comment though is an example of the problem we face in this country. With hyperbole like this we can’t even discuss the “War on Terror” or “Iraq War” issues in the American public forum. The right refuses to acknowledge that these are two separate issues. They are tied to each other like a noose around the Republican’s neck. When you try to talk about the waste of the “War in Iraq” they hear “necessary evil in the War on Terror.” Bill Clinton had a good idea; he suggested that we should help Pakistan fund public education, because it would put the madrassas out of business. For some reason wasting $300 billion dollars on an unnecessary war that actually encourages more terrorists to join the battle against the West is OK, but spending money on things like education in the Middle East that might discourage the youth from going to the madrassas that spread this hatred is a waste of the tax payer’s money. We don’t even spend enough money on our own local education.

It seems like we are doomed until we can convince enough people that the Republicans and the Neocons are insane. Sadly, insanity seems to spread like a disease.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Wild Life

I grew up in Northeast Ohio, and I always loved nature. I lived on a street that dead-ended into a wooded area. Across the street was a small lake or a large pond depending on your definition. It was quite common for me to leave the house and go to one of these places and just wander around looking at the wonders of nature. I could climb a tree and sit motionless watching the common birds come and go. I could pick up rocks and find snakes hiding under them. I could wade in the creek or pond and look for minnows, or crayfish. I went fishing or I just sat and though about the world.

The funny thing about this “romanticized memory” is that at the time I remember being quite disappointed by my situation. I would look through the nature books of bird, reptiles and amphibians longing for the opportunity to go to “other places” where they had more interesting creatures to observe. We didn’t have poisonous snakes, or big wild cats. We didn’t have crocodiles or tarantulas. We just didn’t have anything “fun” to see.

But, if you think about it, Walden didn’t have anything “interesting” to observe, but he wrote a book about it. I was a kid and I was interested in seeing the “new” and the “unusual.” Whatever I had at my arms length was not going to be interesting, no matter what it would be.

So, I am a bit older now, and I have been around the country, living in several different places with much “more interesting” wild life. I have travel and on my travels I have even seen some interesting wild life without even planning to see it. The key is just to be observant.

For example, last Sunday on a short little drive between my home and the school that my children attend I saw a tarantula crossing the road. When I think about it, I begin to wonder about the size of a spider that a motorist can actually see while driving down a road at 45 MPH. That is amazing. But, my kids in the back seat didn’t see it, so I thought that it might be worth while turning around to point it out to them. And, when I turned around and drove back down the road I was happy to point out a completely different spider crossing the road at another place almost a mile from the first siting. This seems quite amazing to me when I consider the fact that I have never actually seen a tarantula in my back yard, and we don’t really live that far away from this particular spot. My daughter looked up tarantulas on the Internet and found that they live for 40 years or so. Wow, a spider that lives for 40 years?! That is amazing, and unexpected.

These little sightings of wild life don’t work out if you plan for them. They just happen from time to time when one isn’t expecting them. It would be pretty disappointing to plan to go see a pod of dolphins, sit at the beach or go out on the ocean and never see them. In doing that one would be set to see one thing, and miss quite a few other things that could be happening right in front of you. It would be like my childhood disappointment in not finding any rattlesnakes when we went to a place called rattlesnake farm. There were things at the farm that were interesting, but I was expecting to see the rattlesnakes.

The problem is not with the excursion to rattlesnake farm, but it is with the expectations of what would be found at rattlesnake farm. Expectations seed our experience. If we expect to see marvelous creatures that we have read about, then we will be disappointed when we only see a few creatures that don’t measure up to our expectations. Similarly, if we have no idea what to expect, then when we see some unusual creature we will be astonished by the experience. It would be like driving down the road and seeing a huge rattlesnake sitting in the middle of the road when you aren’t expecting it.

And, the funny thing is that this has actually happened to me. I was driving down a road about 10 miles from Palm Springs, CA and I saw a huge rattlesnake sitting right there in the middle of the road. It scared me at first, as the sighting of any snake usually does. The road was quiet and I was able to observe the snake from a safe distance in the 100-degree heat, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

In fact, if one thinks about it, isn’t it the expectations in our life that is a lot like what we expect to see on a wild life trip? If we expect a lot out of life and it doesn’t happen, we are disappointed. Does that mean that if we have high expectations then we will have certain disappointment? We do this on an event by event basis. Our expectations are raised with all of the hype of the Super Bowl, and then we are disappointed when the actual game isn’t much better than the barrage of commercials we are exposed to during the game. Don’t we have the expectations of “weight loss” raised with every advertisement of a “weight loss” aid. But, after a few weeks of that gym membership aren’t we disappointed that it isn’t working as fast as we expected? These disappointments arise out of our expectations. Name me any disappointment and I can tell you what the expectation was that lead to that disappointment. The disappointment of John Kerry’s loss was rooted in the expectation that he would win.

Sometimes the expectations are legitimate. Sometimes the expectations are not legitimate. For example, if one excels in High School, one expects to be accepted into a top tier school. If one excels in College one expects to land the perfect job paying the perfect salary. And, in those cases disappointment is legitimate. But, when one expects to be a football star, but they are too lazy to do the required work, that disappointment can not be considered legitimate.

So, in conclusion I offer this little bit of wisdom. Realistic expectations will lead you to a happy life.

Believe it or Not!


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New Insight into Religion and Politics

Baylor University has recently conducted a new detailed study of Religion in America. I discovered it because of an editorial column I read in this mornings San Jose Mercury News. But instead of relying on the editorial page I thought that I might find the raw data, well maybe officially condensed data and come to my own conclusions. You may read the Baylor press release of September 11, 2006 which also gives a link to the entire report.

There is so much here that one should read the report themselves, and they will come to their own conclusions. This study is a paradigm shift in how we look at religion and politics, so anyone who wants to appeal to the religious side of America should take a look.

On the first page of the study the author tells us that it was “common knowledge” that secularism was growing in America based on two General Social Surveys of religion conducted in 1988 and 2004. These two studies showed that in 1988 8% of Americans had no religion and in 2004 14.3% of Americans had no religion. Obviously, the conclusion was that America was becoming more secular. But, the more careful Baylor survey shows that it is more likely that many small churches don’t show up on the choice list in the survey. Therefore, the rise of people attending unaffiliated religions is falsely interpreted as a rise in secularism in America. They point out that the naming of some churches actually interferes with the accuracy of the survey, so in the Baylor survey the name and address of the place of worship was collected in order to provide an accurate classification of American religion.

So, it turns out that 10.4% of Americans are non-affiliated, but only 3.7% actually don’t believe in God. It seems to me that 96.3% is a large majority of believers, and is no where near the crisis advertised in alarmist publications.

So, this begs the political question, if there are so many believers how can Democrats be classified as secular non-believers? The truth is also in the survey. First of all, some people believe in God, but they just don’t go to church. But, this isn’t news, because even the Republicans have latched onto this fact because those who attend church more often are more likely to vote Republican. However, the Baylor survey goes into even more detail, asking people to sort themselves with other terms such as: Bible-believing, Evangelical, Mainline Christian, Born Again and more. And, as a curiosity more people in actual mainline Christian denominations claim to be Evangelical than those that are members of Evangelical Churches. So, the point here is that some people don’t know what label actually describes the church that they attend.

However, we still don’t know the answer to the question: where are all the religious Democrats? If they don’t go to church, but they are still religious, then how do we reconcile this dilemma?

The answer to this question seems to lie in the emergence of another piece of religious research. It turns out that America believes in four distinctly different Gods. These researchers have named these different Gods the Authoritarian God, the Benevolent God, the Distant God and the Critical God. These names refer to the way we imagine God’s place in the Universe. Do you believe that God is judgmental? Do you believe that God is engaged in the world? Thirty one percent of Americans believe that God is judgmental and he punishes wrongdoers; they believe in the authoritarian God. Those who believe in an Authoritarian God tend to be less educated and more likely to be from the South. And, these people tend to identify themselves as conservative.

On the other hand, twenty five percent believe that God is not judgmental but engaged in the world; they believe in a Benevolent God. The Benevolent God is prevalent in the Midwest. Twenty three percent believe that God is not judgmental and not engaged, or a Distant God. The image of the Distant God is most common in the West. And, sixteen percent believe that God is judgmental but not engaged, or a Critical God. The Critical God image is common in the East. The majority of believers in the four regions of the country have four different ways of imagining God.

And, there is the key to the political dilemma. Democrats believe that society needs to make society work, because God isn’t going to do anything about it. Democrats believe that they should create a government that helps those in need, because if society doesn’t help them, who will. Therefore, Democrats have their strong hold in the areas where God is viewed as being less engaged, therefore prompting people to make things right. It might also explain that Democrats don’t attend church as much as those who believe that God might retaliate for your absence.

Obviously these images of God are more common in some religions than in others, but since these are images that each person creates in their own imagination they exist in all regions of the country. These images are shaped by experience. They begin with what your parents teach you, and then what you learn from your peers. These images are also shaped by spiritual experience that are found in nature, in society and in the church itself. When you are told that God is like a father, you imagine your own personal father and how he behaves. When you are told that God loves everyone, your idea of that love is based on your personal experience of love. There is evidence for all of these aspects of God in the Bible, and the passages that you focus on are generally based on the passages that resonate with your experience. If you expect to find God by being yelled at in church then the preachers yelling could be comforting in knowing that there is a God who will make everything work out as He planned. On the other hand, if you expect to find God in the quiet of nature as you wonder at his marvelous creation the quiet will comfort you in knowing that God set everything in motion and it is your job to do your part to make the world a better place.

I highly recommend that everyone who is interested in these sorts of things should look at the Baylor survey, because it gives everyone insight into the connection between politics and religion. I didn’t even touch on the abortion, gay marriage, Iraq War or War on Terror. But the report has unparalleled insight into these issues as well.

In conclusion, 96% of Americans believe in God. The majority of Democrats and Republicans believe in God. Republicans and Democrats believe in these four different Gods, but more Republicans believe in the Authoritarian God, while Democrats are more likely to believe in one of the three non-authoritarian Gods.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Monday, September 25, 2006


Finally, Bill Clinton defends himself. Finally, he actually makes a stand and tells it the way he sees it. He is no longer competing for any political office, so it is safe for him to say something. Actually is has been safe for him to say something over the last six years of the Bush debacle, but he kept quiet.

When I saw the story about Bill Clinton’s with Fox News host Chris Wallace I was anxious to see some footage of the event. Of course, it was quite easy to get the footage on the Internet and I was happy to see it. On a day where John McCain thought that it was Ok for Hillary to be able to influence more conservative votes than Lucifer, in the same interview as he chastised Hugo Chavez for calling George W Bush the Devil. And, on a day where the we learn that the National Intelligence Estimate proves that George W Bush’s policy in Iraq is making us less safe, it seemed like the Democrats had won a trifecta. It was certainly a very nice day indeed, but why did it take so long for Bill Clinton to come forward?

I believe that Bill Clinton kept quiet for the last six years out of two things:
1) Respect for the Office of the President prevented him from criticizing it.
2) Being disgraced in office took away his credibility on issues of moral repugnance.

Well, obviously how you way the reality of these two points most likely shines a light on your personal ideology. My belief is that George W Bush and the Republicans have pushed disgrace to a whole new level, while the aura of Clinton has grown in multiple orders of magnitude. And, what every self-respecting Democrat finally witnessed was Bill Clinton defending himself on Fox TV, the belly of the beast itself.

When I heard these words I felt pride in the Democratic Party for the first time in quite a while. Finally a voice of the Democrats that doesn’t back down when attacked. And, he said it with authority and knowledge pertaining to all of these issues thrown around in the conservative blogosphere. It really made me smile.

But, this was only a small lunge in the big battle against these people who have stolen our government away from us. Certainly there are other potential heroes out there that have a voice, but are they willing to challenge the conventional wisdom implanted by bloggers, conservative talk radio and conservative media like Fox? And, certainly the conservative ideologues are bound to do their best to spin this small moment their own way. Will their reaction scare other Democrats, which actually have campaigns to win, from voicing similar outrage against the conservative hailstorm?

There are already quite a few blogs out there are contradicting what Bill Clinton said in his defense. And, of course that is expected. Most of the conservative blogs out there are repeating the same lies that have been spread for the last five years since 9/11/2001. I am hoping and praying that this moment has broken the ice and other public figures will finally begin to tell the truth about what they know. Bill Clinton’s remarks certainly will not change the minds of the hardcore conservatives out there that already have their hearts hardened against the truth. But, his remarks will energize the base, which is certainly important. And, hopefully his remarks and other remarks of the same type will at least offer another voice for the moderates to hear before they go off to vote in November, and that is what really matters.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Friday, September 22, 2006

Social Upheaval

Some of the current conservative hatred of liberals is mainly a result of a long-term backlash to the social upheaval of the 1960s. Like I said in my piece on understanding the reasons Extremist Muslims are motivated, we should also try to understand why conservative extremists are motivated. In this attempt to understand their hatred we should look at some of the changes that happened in the 1960s, the forces that motivated them, and why the current brand of conservative is so upset with them. Of course, I will mainly concentrate on the first two, because I’m certain that only a true conservative can be true to his own motivation, and I always accept comments.

The 1950s were the era of the perfect American family portrayed in radio and TV across the nation. This campaign was so successful that many people actually believed that “Leave it to Beaver,” “Father Knows Best,” “Donna Reed” and “Ozzie and Harriet” were accurate portraits of the average American family. But, with such perfection for the American family to live up to the children who watched these shows became disillusioned with the differences between reality and the American ideal. Of course everyone had the opportunity to accept these ideals and strive to make them real in their personal lives or reject them and build a life out of the reality that they knew for certain.

This vision of an ideal American family did not die a sudden death, because many people held this ideal up as something to strive for - “The American Dream.” In fact, when John F Kennedy brought his personal perfect family to Washington DC, the public believed that this was proof of the American Camelot in reality. The Kennedies were the perfect nuclear family. The father had a nice job providing for his beautiful wife and cute adorable children. Wasn’t that the “American Dream?”

But, along with this imagine of the perfect American family there were voices in the 1950s that tried to tell the true story of the true America where some people weren’t treated the same as other people. The discrimination could be racial or economic or gender based or even politically based. The Beat Poets began to spread these ideas in their coffee house readings, while blues singers did the same in taverns. But, also Science Fiction writers preached similar messages in their imaginative stories set in some future time or distant planet. These ideas floated around for quite some time in the intellectual circles, but the average middle class American only knew what he saw on TV or heard on the radio.

But, the radio did begin to provide access to some of this less popular thought when they broadcast reenactments of some Science Fiction stories that carried these themes. And the radio began to play the blues and folk music as well. And, as with most new ideas the young hear about them first.

When John F Kennedy was shot in 1963 the world changed. The vision of a “perfect” America with a “perfect” family came into question. People who had already been questioning the American ideal spoke up a little louder. Cracks began to emerge in the vision of “perfect” America.

Of course, questions are asked in the context of the time. And, these questions are asked in order to better understand the context of the time we live in. People began to discover that they were not the only dysfunctional family in America, because they found out about their friend’s dysfunctional families. Of course they didn't even have a word for dysfunctional at the time, but they communicated these sentiments to each other anyway. It didn’t take long for people to realize that the marketing campaign was a lie. America was not filled with a majority of “perfect” families. Instead there were a majority of dysfunctional families and a lot of pretenders.

This realization was quite important, because the reaction to this discovery was to believe that most people lied to cover up what they feared. This hatred of plastic pretend phony adults was a theme in J. D. Salinger’s 1951 novel “Catcher in the Rye.” And, years after its publication the conduits of “new thought” were still pulling ideas out of this novel. For example, some say that Simon & Garfunkel originally wanted to name themselves "Catchers in the Rye."

Well, the opposite of pretending to be something that you are not is to “let it all hang out.” The idea is that you break down your natural defense mechanisms and let people get to know you for who you really are. If people know you as a person on a personal level, then people are less likely to do ill to you. Of course, this idea was not verified with scientific investigation, it seemed to make a lot of common sense. And, with the intention of breaking down these personal defense mechanisms many people used drugs and alcohol which also was not a verified method for doing this.

As time went on, this group of young people with a large group of close acquaintances began to understand each other and began to question society. And, about this time these people realized that the segregation laws in the South were certainly a big embarrassment to America and another phony façade covering up the hatred with a picture of the “perfect” Southern hospitality. It was obvious that nearly 100 years after slavery had been abolished the African Americans in the south were no better off and this seemed to be obviously the result of segregation. And as these young white northerners went to the south to fight for voting rights, the nation’s eyes were drawn to the problem as a piece of the façade was broken away.

The theme of the “phony American dream” was passed through out the American culture and distrust grew. Who could you trust? No one over 30 was the answer. Obviously drugs couldn’t harm you, because the authorities will lie about anything. The War in Vietnam isn’t for Democracy, it is just another lie from the authorities. And, since the young could no longer trust the wisdom of their elders every cultural idea and theme came crashing down. “Question Authority” was a popular bumper sticker, and people meant it.

In this atmosphere of distrust and disbelief the young had to learn for themselves that some things were right while other things were wrong. Tragedies like the Stones concert at Altamonte Speedway happened because the youth questioned the wisdom of the authorities. Sometimes people need to learn by their mistakes. But death is a hard lesson to learn for the victims. The authorities were also proven wrong on some occasions as well. Some peaceful demonstrations erupted into violence because the authority believed that might was right, and forcing people to do something will make them do it. Of course these horrible actions by the authorities knocked down the projection of authority a notch each time they acted with bad results.

In the end, what do we have? Why does the current conservative backlash to the social reforms of the 1960s really want? I believe that the conservatives want a return to the “values” of the 1950s, as they were marketed to the masses. But, the truth is that they never really existed. So, in order to return to the “values” of the 1950s we need to rebuild a façade that covers up the reality of society once again. This is done by creating an atmosphere were people hide there feelings and keep their thoughts to themselves. Everyone goes on and pretends to be who they are not. The parents pretend to be good parents in public conversation, but they act as they please behind closed doors. The result of course will be a society that looks good on the outside, but has every emotion bottled up inside our families and our heads. We become forced to hide behind a façade and we keep our defense mechanisms on high alert. Of course the stress involved in this will result in early deaths for the followers of this practice, and the rest of us will be relieved when they finally go.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Democracy is NOT a Panacea

George W Bush, having failed to find nuclear weapons or even biological weapons in Iraq resorted to claiming that spreading Democracy at end of a gun was his justification for attacking a sovereign state. Well, spreading freedom and liberty may make for great sound bites, however the reality of his action is quite different.

In many speeches George W Bush has offered that we should “stay the course” so that Iraq will become a beacon for Freedom and Liberty in the Middle East. However, this very same George W Bush is not always happy with the choices that the existing Democracies exhibit when the people offer their opinions.

We need to remind George W Bush, the Neocons and the “extreme right” that Hugo Chavez was Democratically Elected by the people of Venezuela. Hugo Chavez is very popular among the majority of the lower class and the poor who he has helped, and this activity in itself is the main reason why those who voice their opposition to him in the USA hate him so much. After all, if he succeeds in helping the down trodden in his country, other countries may follow his example and motivate the poor to become a “coalition of the willing” and fix the inequality in their own countries.

In politics there are always winner and losers. If the poor are going to win the wealthy are going to lose some of their power. From past history the USA has never liked the prospect of the wealthy losing anything at all. Iran, Guatemala and the Congo are examples of democratically elected governments that the USA acted in overthrowing because the USA was unhappy with the election results. Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay and Gaza are current Democratically elected governments that the USA is certainly not happy with for different reasons. The point is that that Democracy is not a panacea. Just because a government is Democratic and the majority of the people decide something we may still not like the results. And, Iraq isn’t any different.

In Iraq the majority of the people actually don’t like the occupation of the country by foreign soldiers. They also don’t like the possibility of the government falling and anarchy becoming the state of the nation. They don’t like the fact that there is no security in the country. And, they don’t like the possibility of someone other than their own group ruling the country. What they desire is “security” and no one seems prepared to offer it any time soon. Many people are heard saying that things were safer and more secure under the rule of Saddam Hussein. People that are this desperate are willing to put up with quite a bit. Perhaps they would even support the terrorists, if they promised some type of security beyond what the occupying forces are offering.

Democracy does not always provide what it promises. People are easily deceived into believing what the politicians say. People sell their votes for cuts in taxes. People sell their votes for the promise of security. In fact people are willing to sell their votes on the rumor that some candidate might do something nice for them. And, the sad thing is that the USA is not immune to this perversion of Democracy.

We can look at the recent government of Thailand to understand how these things work. The recently overthrown Prime Minister of Thailand was democratically elected mainly by the poor rural voters. These voters were promised assistance for their rural villages and health insurance. After the election the Prime Minister came through, and he won some “voters for life.” After coming through with these basic human needs there was little possibility for anyone else to win an election. Thailand essentially became a one-party government. But this one party was what the Thais wanted. The Prime Minister was able to secure a vast sum of wealth through the government. His arranged quid pro quo with the rural poor gave him virtual leadership for life.

Interestingly, the situation in the USA is very similar. But, the Democracy in Thailand and the USA are quite different. In Thailand the soldiers with the perceived permission of the King took over the government. It was as if the Thai army pushed the great big “reset” button on the Thai government. They know that they didn’t really want to be ruled by the majority of Thai people. Instead they know that they wanted to be ruled by the majority of the upper class wealthy Thais. By pushing the “reset” button they hope the government will reboot in a way that that will be friendlier toward the wealthy minority.
Well, I guess that it really doesn’t matter all that much, because we have a president who has a vision, or hallucination and we will stay the course until it is fulfilled.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Night Falls

Will we go quietly into the deep dark night?

I am asking this question because it seems to me that America is on the verge of falling into the Dark Ages. I am sure that the Romans never felt like their empire would crumble, but it did. It took a while as the thinking and questioning of the Greek intellectuals was replaced by the non-questioning anti-intellectual religious that came to lead the Roman Empire into the Dark Middle Ages.

Yesterday, I was startled by a comment on my recent “Global Warming” post. The commenter, that I regard as quite thoughtful on many subjects, wrote, “it comes as no surprise there would be disagreement on such a politicized issue as global warming.” He went on to suggest that bureaucrats tended to be left leaning Democrats, therefore it would be natural that government scientists would promote the idea of Global Warming.

This sentiment should frighten us all.

First of all we should examine why we have government scientists at all. Is it because each issue needs to create a means to support its pre-determined agenda? If that is the case, then we should not have government scientists at all. Each political party should just pay additional science consultants to create their personal fiction to support their own ideas. Of course this is stupid from the point of view of an American citizen, but not the politician. No, Americans have government scientists for the same reason they have government intelligence agencies and government ambassadors. Government scientists among the many things that they do they look at the science and determine the risks of policy on our country, and based on those risks they offer suggestions for policy proposals and the risks of those policy proposals. If the scientists are influenced by the politics, then their assessment of the risks are as flaw as the CIA’s intelligence on the WMDs in Iraq.

The charter of government is to provide security, and if the risks are not studied in a fair non-political light the policy based on those assessments will certainly be flawed.

So, to think that government scientists are mainly left leaning Democrats flies in the face of the entire point of having government scientists at all.

But, it is easy to see how someone might come to this conclusion in a culture that is moving further away from science. When I was in college during one of those late night philosophical discussions that generally involve a bit of alcohol a friend told me that she had no idea how a TV worked. Well, I knew a bit about how a TV worked and I offered to explain it to her, but she told me that she didn’t care because she was happy to believe that it all worked by magic. And, I realized that I was in the minority and she was in the majority of the American people.

However, if we begin to fall back on the idea that we don’t care how things work and we can imagine them working by some mysterious magic called “science” we are not to far away from the dark ages. Because if we don’t think about how things work, we can easily begin to mix up the ideas of science and the fantasy ideas of magic that are removed by impossibility from the truth. And, if we allow our minds to intermingle these concepts based in reality and these concepts based in fiction our culture will be more susceptible to leaders who justify their actions with fiction and lies.

Perhaps that is the true reason we now find ourselves under the power of this regime, the extreme right wing coalition of neo-cons and fundamentalist Christians. These people have an agenda and they only need to search for the justification. They discredit science as a rule so that they can pick the things that they like, but then they can deny the rest as “only a theory” or “inconclusive.”

Aristotle was the main scientific philosopher of ancient Greece. His work was based on observation of the world around him and reasoning that allowed him to understand that the world was round long before Christopher Columbus. He estimated the circumference of the Earth by measuring the difference in the length of a shadow cast by the sun at noon on uniform sticks placed in two different locations across the Mediterranean Sea from each other. But, the works of Aristotle were lost in the burning of the libraries brought on by the religious leaders. If it weren’t for the Muslim clerics who found value in these writings we may have never heard of Aristotle today.

Similarly, if we lose the culture of scientific inquiry our people will be doomed to memorize texts and believe what they read without questioning. If these religious zealots that continue to plant seeds of doubt in the general public continue to grow in strength everything we know about the world will gradually be lost. If the value of science continues to be reduced our children will be pushed away from pure science.

In fact, I have heard arguments from the right claiming that only science with a known economic benefit should be pursued. But, if you know that it has economic benefit, then it isn’t science anymore, it is called engineering. Engineering uses what science has discovered and applies that to known problems. And, if we push our children away from pure science this “new” knowledge will not exist for the engineers who want to build “new” projects. Engineers will eventually be reduced to repeating old engineering ideas over and over again. Progress will only be made by accident, instead of by applying “new” science. And, slowly we will become a stagnant culture relying on other cultures to provide “new” things for us.

Even the fall into the Dark Ages wasn’t instantaneous. And, I wouldn’t expect America’s fall to be any different. Those scientists that are alive today will continue to use the science that they know and understand. They will continue to publish their work, but fewer young people will read their work. And over time these scientific reports and papers will have less influence on the American culture. Things on the fringe will be the first to be lost, but as time goes on fewer people will be able to understand more common things like Particle Physics, General Relativity, Physical Chemistry and Organic Chemistry. Some ideas about genetics will continue, because with the birth of every baby the parents look for the influence of genetics. But, the idea of evolution will certainly disappear from the main culture. Instead conversations will center on the idea that the different races must have descended from the different sons of Noah, or some other malarkey.

People will be happy to know that the wizards at Apple will continue to recite the incantations to create the same iPod that has existed for a hundred years, but it still plays the same 10,000 songs, because someone lost the recipe for downloading new ones.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Denying the Heat

George W Bush goes to the UN on the same day that Salon reveals that the Bush administration has been controlling Government Scientists access to the news media. Isn’t it quite strange that George W Bush takes the center stage and talks about Freedom and liberty when his administration doesn’t believe in true freedom and liberty?

Obviously this is just another example of hypocrisy in the government. Doesn’t Mr. Bush realize that advocating freedom in a speech requires backing it up with action? Chances are that he actually doesn’t understand this, but he should.

The Bush administration doesn’t like the fact that the Earth is undergoing global warming that is a result of human emissions of green house gasses. Over the last few months several new studies have made this fact even more clear. The problem is that the obvious action that needs to be taken is a reduction in the production of green house gasses. Automobiles and power plants mainly produce these gasses. They are the result of burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. The Bush administration does not want to first admit that they ignored the data that has been out for years now, and second they don’t want to cut back on the production of these fuels.

These guys are certainly motivated to prevent acknowledging the existence of this major problem. They don’t want to acknowledge the danger of this global warming either. So, it isn’t surprising that they want to prevent or censor the expert government scientists that should be announcing these problems.

I should once again point out that the purpose of government is security. If the government knows that there is a danger, then the government has the responsibility to report that danger so that the lawmakers have the information and can access the risk. Obviously the function of the congress is to study risks and evaluate the cost of eliminating or reducing a risk and the cost of that action. If the government censors the experts, then the government is ignoring the risks. Obviously this is a failure of government.

Apparently we are now living in a new world where the government ignores the risks to the American people so that the politicians can maintain their power.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Fish Out of Water

I woke up early the other morning, went down the stairs and began to take care of some of my usual tasks. I feed the fish, feed the cats, pick up some of the junk lying around from the night before. My wife generally does pretty much the same types of things. I was putting some fish food into one of our aquariums, when I heard a scream from the other side of the room. My wife had discovered a large fish on the floor, lying next to the cat food bowl, nearly six feet away from his fish tank.

The fish in question is a Chinese Loach that my daughter selected at the pet store about eight months earlier. When we purchased the fish it was less than an inch long. It was a cute little scavenger that propped its head up on its fore-fins as it rested on the bottom of the tank. As one who believes in evolution, it is clear that this would be the type of fish species that could evolve lungs and wallow in the mud as a pond or stream gradually dried up. Obviously my particular fish didn’t have the ability to survive out of the water, but maybe a fish species like this one, if exposed to an environment where ponds dried up every year could by natural selection could allow some of its progeny to survive each year if they had something that would allow them to take oxygen out of the air directly. For example, wet gills could allow oxygen to be dissolved in the moisture and absorbed into the blood stream. As long as the fish didn’t dry out it could survive, or maybe not.

Well, I am not in the habit of taking my fish out of the fish tank to see how long they can live out of the water. But, if the fish chooses to do this on his own, I have no control over it.

This cute little fish had grown to over 9 inches long in just eight months. It was now nicknamed “the monster.” It began to eat the smaller fish in the community tank, so we had no choice but to put the fish in solitary confinement, in his own tank. His tank sat on a short table, and the top of the tank was less than three feet above the ground.

But, how did the fish get out of the water?

Our first guess had to do with the cats. We had already lost a large angel fish to the cats. The evidence was obvious, because of the cat scratches on the outside of the dead fish. But, as I bent down to pick up the fish, lying on the floor I didn’t see any scratches. The cat obviously couldn’t get the fish out of the water without using its claws in one way or another. This fish must have been suicidal.

The fish was lying on the floor perfectly still. I picked it up with a paper towel, with the intention of throwing it into the trash. It seemed a bit to big to flush down the toilet. I couldn’t imagine that my daughter would actually bury a fish, since we have been through so many over the years. Ten years ago each of our fish had had names, but now we just have a collection of fish.

I began to examine the fish, just to be sure that the cat had not clawed it, and I had just missed the marks. Then I thought that I saw it move. Surely it was my imagination. I told my wife that I thought that it might still be alive. “It won’t live long, if it is” she said. I didn’t know for sure, so I thought that I would put it back into the fish tank. Sure enough, when I put the fish back into its tank it moved around a little, but it rested in the floating plants at the top of the tank. This was certainly not ordinary behavior for a fish that spent most of his life sitting on the bottom of the tank. I didn’t hold out much hope for his survival.

I told my daughter about our discovery. I told her that the fish was still alive, but just barely.

When I came home from work in the evening I saw that the fish was still hiding in the weeds. He had now grown a thin white coating over his body. The coating seemed particularly thick around his head. He was just lying in the weeds barely moving. If I didn’t know that he was still alive I might have guessed that he was dead.

After about a week the fuzz came off his body and he felt healthy enough to sit around on the bottom of the tank again. And, now more than a month later he seems to be as good as new.

Apparently, the fish was tired of being in solitary confinement, and he just had to get out. He must have pushed himself against the lid on the top of the tank and push himself out of the tank. He then must have fallen to the tabletop, wiggled himself off the table and onto the floor. Then once on the floor he continued to wiggle his way in the direction of the door to the outside. We found him up against the door, so who knows how far he would have gone if he had been able to open the door.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

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Monday, September 18, 2006


Talking about Republican politics is not very easy in these days of Orwellian language that is meant to say one thing but mean another. Of course this isn’t new, but when we have self-proclaimed Christians inventing a language so that they can pass new laws legalizing torture while they appear to still remain Christians the world is surely coming to an end. At least that’s what these Christians are hoping for.

If there was any doubt before, then that doubt should be put to rest when we witness the leader of the free world proclaiming himself a Christian out of one side of his mouth and asking for new laws allowing the government to torture prisoners out of the other side of his mouth. The Native Americans used to call this type of speech, “speaking with a forked tongue.” And, what creatures have forked tongues? Why snakes of course. And, if you still haven’t caught on to this obvious Biblical symbolism, a snake is Satan, who tempted Eve at the apple tree. When we have a leader of these forked tongue speakers, he must obviously be the Anti-Christ.

Only the true Anti-Christ would seek War over Peace in the Middle East. Only the true Anti-Christ would need trickery and treachery to be elected to the office of President of the United States. And, now, only the true Anti-Christ would masquerade as a Christian while he sought to pass torture laws that are so clearly Anti-Christian.

When you think about it though, it is clear that this, so-called Christian would be the ideal Biblical Anti-Christ. First of all, he has a large number of followers that are convinced that he is something special. And, he has a large number of people would know that he isn’t special, but they dedicate themselves to making their leader appear to be special to those who believe him. The whole idea that a Christian would believe that by cheating the American public in an election would somehow be “God’s Will” is downright ridiculous.

So, if you are a God fearing Christian and you are now aware of the presence of the Anti-Christ here on Earth, what can be done? Well, if you are a fundamentalist that seeks the return of Christ, then I guess that there really isn’t much that you can do. The Anti-Christ is here and you just need to steer clear of him, so you don’t get caught up in his web of Evil. But, if you believe that we have free will, then we must continue to believe that we have a choice and we can do something to make the world a better place. Perhaps by spreading the word of whom the Anti-Christ is we will be able to delay the End of the Earth.

For those who are convinced that the hour is at hand and we have no choice, then I have to remind you that Jesus told us that no one knows when the hour is at hand. Only deception allows the Anti-Christ to have power. If we reveal his identity, then the Anti-Christ will loose power. His power will only come from those who are fooled into believing that he has a valid message to spread.

Some Christians might ask why we should try to prevent the inevitable. If God has a plan, then why should we prevent or delay the coming of the Christ? Well, if you think about this for a second the answer is obvious. God loves everyone. It doesn’t seem like this sentence needs to be repeated, but the implications of this sentence is overwhelming. It is overwhelming if you consider the implications of the End of the World. God would like as many of his people to be saved as possible, and by delaying the End of Time even by a few hours more people continue to be saved. God doesn’t want to control the unfolding of these events, he allows them to unfold and only the free will of the people will change the ultimate test of saving as many people as the free will of the people themselves allow.

If we don’t act now, then many souls may never have the chance to be saved. God will cry over every soul that is lost those born and those that will never be born because the “End” came too soon.



Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Winning In Iraq

What does it mean to win in Iraq?

This question is so important, but no one responsible for our presence in Iraq will answer this question honestly. We hear George W Bush tells us how we will step down when the Iraqis step up. But, this object is becoming further and further from a real possibility.

A simple look at the situation in Iraq continues to show that even if a trained Iraqi army were able to step up, they would not end the violence in Iraq. The Iraqi government continues to be controlled by the Shiite Arabs who are supported by Iran. The Kurds to the North have never been supportive of Iraq as a nation. Instead the Kurds only wish to have as much autonomy as they are allowed to have. In this vein it is clear that the Kurds prefer not to contribute to the “Iraqi” army. Instead they would rather contribute to the Kurdish army which has been allowed to protect its Kurdish territory. We are basically allowing the Kurds to become their own nation, if not in name then in practice. This leaves the Sunni minority in Iraq to be pushed around by the Shiite majority. And, of course this bullying is not conducive the growth of a new nation.

Of course, that is the reality of the situation in Iraq. You may have noticed that the above description does not even mention the terrorists in Iraq. This is because the al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq are only allowed to exist in Iraq because of the lack of stability in Iraq. Terrorist groups like al Qaeda are only allowed to operate freely in failed states like Somalia or Afghanistan, or in territories far away from the control of authorities. This is mainly because governments tend to like to maintain their own military to either protect its people or the government’s authority. The instability that we have created in Iraq has created a haven for these people to operate.

Of course I also never mentioned the criminal gangs that also operate freely in an unstable Iraq. These criminal gangs were created by the destruction of all security in Iraq when the US invaded and disbanded the Iraq military and police. In addition to this all Bathist bureaucrats were dismissed, severing any government infrastructure at all. The result of course was the expected anarchy when any government is destroyed. When the American occupation created their own government, the everyday needs of the Iraqi people were ignored and fleeting moment of hope vanished from the minds of the Iraqi people. All the Iraqi people could see was the once stable society controlled by Saddam Hussein vanished with the destruction of the government. Criminals then took what ever they could, and they rose to power by virtue of their wealth. Some of these crafty criminals were able to use their newly acquired personal wealth to finance elections of people that favored them.

So, what are we trying to do in Iraq? Oh, that’s right, we are trying to get the terrorists that aren’t there and prevent them from getting the nuclear weapons that Condi and George used to scared us with in 2003. And, they weren’t there either. But if not nuclear weapons we have learned that if you lump nuclear weapons with chemical and biological weapons and call them Weapons of Mass Destruction we can still scare people with the nuclear threat and prove the threat correct by finding the chemical or biological weapons that weren’t in Iraq either. (There were some expired chemical weapons shells left over from the Iran Iraq war that we helped Saddam fight against Iran. These were not found in substantial quantities, and wouldn’t even be potent seeing that they were expired.)

But, how can we win in Iraq? Of course we can win in Iraq if we stay the course! Which is? It is by stepping down when the Iraqi army steps up. And, what happens when the Iraqi army steps up and we step down? Well, of course Iran finally wins the Iraq Iran War. The Shiite majority has control of the government, and is totally backed by the Shiite rulers of Iran. We had supported Saddam Hussein in order to prevent Iran from becoming a power in the Middle East, but it looks like George W Bush’s course that we are staying is putting the fate of Iraq in the hands of Iran.

Obviously this makes absolutely no sense. And when something doesn’t make any sense, then it usually means that we don’t have all of the information. And when we don’t have all of the information we are forced to speculate as to what that information might be. Is George W Bush planning to provoke Iran in such a way that we are “forced” to respond. It sure does seem that the only way we can actually win in Iraq is by toppling yet another foreign government. We could also speculate that Iran is promising the US a deal on oil if we allow them to continue to have a hand in Iraqi politics after we stand down and the Iranian army steps up.

The question that Americans should be asking is: Was George W Bush a really smart guy working for Iran, or is he just a bungling idiot that has inadvertently helped Iran at almost every step of the way? After all, we can’t win in Iraq until Iran is willing to take over…


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Friday, September 15, 2006


I have been thinking about government quite a bit lately and I hope this will convey some additional insight into the purpose of government. Some of this is old, but it bears repeating for a foundation of some additional insight.

Government exists because the other option is anarchy. Anarchy might not sound like a bad thing until you realize that human beings are bound to act out of self interest and do whatever they need to do in order to survive. Government in general provides a structure in which people can live together and be protected from other people’s self interest. In other words, government offers security.

I hope that everyone can agree on this simple idea that government exists to provide security.

Now, how does government offer security, and who does it protect?

First of all, it is clear that government provides an infrastructure in which police, laws, and justice are used to protect people from other’s self interest. Laws are written in which at least a majority, and sometimes two thirds of the people agree on. At least that is in our Democracy. In other systems of government an individual or a group of leaders determine what the laws should be, and how they should be enforced. But, at least in the beginning the purpose of the laws was to provide security for the people.

Early on, it became quite clear that the basic protection provided by the government was to prevent the poor from stealing the wealth of the wealthy. The wealthy have no interest in stealing the debts of the common man, so the government naturally became biased to those that needed protection. It should be no surprise that the evolution of government tended to empower the wealthy to become leaders, such as kings, princes or even Roman senators. And, then it should continue to be no surprise that these leaders would use their power to write laws that not only protected the wealthy, but also enriched the wealthy even further. Greed is such a difficult emotion to control.

Over the thousands of years of government the wealthy sought justification for the power structure, while the poor struggled to survive under varying degrees of oppression and appeasement. All through out this history everyone continued to agree that government was preferred to anarchy. Slowly the common man made the point that government existed to provide security. When the government allowed the wealthy to exploit the common man the government failed to provide security to the common man. In this basic struggle the common man eventually acquired a voice in government, because the common man realized that they outnumbered the wealthy in power and could rise up and overthrow the power structure if they could manage to stick together.

From this point on the struggle became a struggle between those who had control of government and those who desired more control in government. Those who wished things to remain the same are called conservative, and those who wish to change the laws were called liberals.

Since the purpose of government is security those in power began to explore the security issues. An educated public is a more secure public, because the people are less prone to react to emotional rabble rousing. Therefore if the government provided education the people would be more secure. Also, a fully employed public is more secure than a public with a high unemployment rate. So, the government that improves the economy is providing security. In fact, the government can provide health care, safety regulation, infrastructure and environmental protection in an effort to provide security. The government can fund scientific investigation into potential threats and new weapons as another means of providing security. The government can pool resources to investigate out breaks of disease, or protection from dangerous weather. But, the role of government remains to provide security.

The problem with government, however, is that projects started to study risks and provide security can become outdated or inefficient. But, the nature of people is to continue to need a source of employment. In fact, the government provides a personal source of security to the people employed by the government. The growth of ineffective, inefficient or unneeded government becomes a waste of the public’s money. New projects are created to provide security, but old projects do not die because of another need for security.

Of course, the people who had controlled the government, the wealthy, see any project that does not protect their personal self-interest as a waste of their personal contribution to the government. They suggest, “Why should the wealthy pay for the lazy poor who can’t find a job?” It is difficult to see that unemployed poor people on the street are a threat to their personal security, because these are the people motivated to break into someone’s houses and steal things that can be easily hocked. “Shouldn’t the laws prevent the theft?” is echoing in the mind of those who want to preserve their personal wealth.

Obviously this is not the only view of government, but these points are certainly major contributing factors. The important questions continues to be “What security should the government provide, and what security should it ignore?” and “Should everyone be offered a certain level of security?” and “Should the protection of wealth and resources be the most important security provided?” and “Should health be considered a security issue?” The more I think of government in these terms the easier it is to see the problems with our government.

For example, if security is the purpose of government, why shouldn’t the creation of insecurity be considered a failure of government? When the disasters of hurricanes create insecurity, it should be considered a failure of government. But, also when a leader uses fear to promote an agenda that fear creates more insecurity throughout the nation. And, obviously the creation of that fear is a failure of government. Also, creating a war in the Middle East provokes terrorists that increase the risk of terrorism. This should also be considered a failure of government. There are more examples, but I’ll leave those as an exercise for the reader.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More Global Warming Evidence

Over the last few days there have been several new studies and reports pointing to humans being the cause of Global warming.

First, the Arctic Sea Ice is melting at a quite rapid rate, which supports the idea of Global Warming happening at all, if there are still doubters out there.

And, if we accept the idea of Global Warming, some have doubted that it could be caused by man. So, if not man, then what could be the cause. Well, this study shows that it isn’t the fluctuation of the energy output of the sun, which has now been shown to be stable over the last 1000 years.

Tom Wigley published a report describing the component of Green House gases produced by man that are responsible for the warming of specific areas of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

So, if Global Warming is happening, what can we expect. Well, it turns out that a model of Global Warming has been run which shows the expected results of more European heatwaves.

And, Tom Wigley’s model predicts also predicts more and stronger hurricanes.

And for those who want to know the extended details, have a look at this paper.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Two Thousand Years Ago

Two thousand years ago the Pharisees were selectively enforcing the laws. Not much has changed between then and now, except who the enforcers are and what laws they choose to enforce.

In Matthew 15: 1-14 the Pharisees approach Jesus and ask him why his disciples don’t wash their hands before eating. You can read this yourself in any version of the Bible you choose. I am condensing the story instead of quoting a particular version because the story is clear and the details are immaterial. The Pharisees want Jesus to be hung by his own rope, so to speak. They want him to admit that he doesn’t follow the Bible literally. Of course he doesn’t, and instead of saying that he tells the Pharisees that they don’t follow the Bible literally themselves. He sights the example of Exodus 20:12 Deuteronomy 5:16 Exodus 21:17 and Leviticus 20:9 where the law clearly states that a child who does not honor their Mother or Father should be put to death. Obviously, God thought that this was quite important, because it is mentioned four times in the Bible instead of the single case of homosexuality alluded to in Leviticus.

The problem with the Pharisees isn’t that they didn’t know the Bible; they knew it quite well. The problem was that they selectively enforced the Bible with their own agenda in mind. They found the laws that suited their needs and the enforced them for their own needs. But they knew that if they had enforced the law regarding the capital punishment of children they not be quite so popular. In fact, the enforcement of this law could mean the end of Judaism as a religion, no matter what God wanted in the laws written down in the Bible.

The Pharisees of today also selectively enforce the Bible. They seek to twist the words of the Bible to fit their own needs. For example, they raise “foul language” to the level of sin. They do this when they know that there is a distinct difference between the reference to sexual activity or excretory function and using the name of God to curse someone. Somehow the culture has combined these two completely different things into the cultural taboo of “foul language.” These people then use religion as a sword to hold over the FCC and demand that they sensor the airwaves.

But, the entire first ten chapters of Leviticus go into detail of how an animal sacrifice needs to be offered up to God. If the book of Leviticus were truly a sacred book of law, we would see the preachers on TV offering animal sacrifices every night and then eating the meat as God commanded it. But continued selected enforcement of these laws proves that these new Pharisees continue to hold to their own agenda and not God’s will.

Instead, when they look for a reason to go to war they find exception to Jesus’ teaching of love by quoting something like: “The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.” Exodus 15:3. Jesus spent some time explaining how one should turn the other cheek when provoked, but when the government these people support decides to wage an unnecessary War killing thousands of innocent people they continue to justify these actions by selective enforcement of the law. They literally decide what they want to do and justify it by finding the appropriate verse from the Bible.

The selective enforcement of the Bible is actually good for the most of us, it is only in the hypocrisy of the preachers who claim to take the Bible literally that there is any problem at all. These people can’t imagine that the two versions of the creation story shouldn’t be taken as literally true. But somehow they reconcile this passage from Exodus 31: 14-15, “Yes, keep the Sabbath day, for it is holy. Anyone who desecrates it must die; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community. Work six days only, but the seventh day must be a day of total rest. I repeat: Because the Lord considers it a holy day, anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.” If God really meant that the creation happened exactly the way it was explained in the Bible, then why didn’t he mean that people who didn’t observe the Sabbath should be put to death?

Well, the modern day Pharisees of today continue to be blind leaders of the blind and they will both fall into the ditch as Jesus pointed out in Matthew 15:14.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Iraq Did Not Attack Us On 9/11/2001

It is hard to believe, but some people really think that Iraq attacked us on 9/11/2001. I’ve heard people say in response to me, “If Iraq didn’t attack us, then why did we invade Iraq?” These people are completely serious and it makes me very frustrated that these people don’t at least read a newspaper occasionally.

But even if these people were to read the papers it doesn’t mean that they would know everything that there is to know about the Middle East. That is why we entrust our experts to give advice to our leaders. And experts on both sides of this decision continue to put their opinions forward. But officially, none of these experts believe that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11/2001. Only the conspiracy theorists maintain the ties between al Qaeda and Iraq and the latest Senate report on this question confirms that there was no link.

But, if you read some more of the newspapers you will find the interesting fact that Dick Cheney continues to insist that there was a link between Iraq and al Qaeda.

OK, so the experts have studied the evidence and written a report that tells us that there is no connection between Iraq, the country that we continue to put all of our money and resources into, and al Qaeda, the group that actually attacked us five years ago. Who are we to believe, the second in command of our executive branch of government, or the experts that actually know something about this?

Maybe we should consider what each person gains by their opinion, and that might help us to see the credibility of their argument. First of all, Dick Cheney was the major voice in favor of the invasion of Iraq. He went against all of the American rhetoric that called that America would only attack if America was attacked, or at worst case if a country was an immanent threat. Seeing that we know that Iraq had no Weapons of Mass Destruction, the initial reason for the invasion - immanent threat, we are left with proving that they must have attacked us for Cheney’s decision to be proved right. On the other hand the experts will loose the credibility that every expert needs to continue to warrant being paid to be an expert. Experts who come up wrong to often are put out to pasture to work as lobbyists or some other less respectful occupation. It seems like a slam dunk here, but if we didn’t attack Iraq because of 9/11, then why would we attack them?

It turns out that the Neo-conservatives, a group within the conservative movement with a large number of followers in the Bush administration believed that Democracy was a preferred political state. This means that by toppling a dictator, the people would rise up and celebrate their freedom and create a democracy for themselves. The neo-cons, believed that democracies wanted the same thing, religious freedom, economic freedom and political freedom. They believed that people who were given these freedoms would come to the same conclusions about running the country and the USA could become the major customer for Middle Eastern oil if the Middle East was made up of America loving Democracies. The neo-cons believed that they only needed a country to destroy so that they could prove their theory correct. Iraq seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Iraq had been weaken 10 years in operation Desert Storm earlier and chances were good that the invasion would be as easy as the Afghanistan invasion of 2002. The neo-cons thought that rebuilding a Middle Eastern country as a Western Democracy would set an example to the rest of the Middle East. To me it is unclear what the example was supposed to say. Was it, “Start allowing democracy to flourish or we will invade you too?” Or, was it, “Look at this mess we have created here in Iraq, so don’t give freedom to your people or they will do this as well?” Either way, it doesn’t look very good for Democracy in the Middle East any time soon.

All of our effort has been diverted to Iraq for the last three and a half years. It makes the Bush administration look stupid for wasting all of this time, energy, blood and money in Iraq when the true perpetrators, al Qaeda, continue to have sanctuary in our ally’s country, Pakistan. The Taliban is gaining strength in southern Afghanistan. We don’t have enough troops in Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from ruling the country side in Afghanistan.

Iraq isn’t much better. We don’t have enough troops in Iraq to prevent civil war. Iraqi troops are not loyal to the government. Of course this is once again do to the fact that the government ignored the experts when they recommended that we need 500,000 troops in Iraq to prevent civil war. This administration ignored the experts and they continue to ignore the experts. Why should we expect anything different?

I think that everyone needs to go over to Huffington Post and listen to Paul Hipp sing his song.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

Friday, September 08, 2006


The best way to understand any issue is to ask questions. This might sound obvious, but in the case of 9/11/2001 this is not so. Questions were not the point, raw retaliatory reaction was the patriotic response, and nothing else could be considered “American.”

But, now five years later nothing has changed in the minds of those who had attacked us. This lack of change points toward the failure of raw emotional response. But, there are those who believe that this raw response just hasn’t been enough for a long enough period of time. However, very few of these people have considered the point of view of those who carried out these attacks. Very few of these people can even imagine that our raw emotional retaliation has only served to be evidence for our countries hatred toward Middle Easterners in general. The proof is in the careless violence against the people of Iraq who had nothing to do with that fateful day - 9/11/2001.

Perhaps at this late time we can still turn this situation around. Perhaps we can try to understand why a group of people can find enough anger in their hearts that they are willing to sacrifice their own lives for a noble cause. Christians for one should be able to understand this emotion, for they talk about martyrs who have given their lives for their faith. Christians don’t go around saying that these people were fools who wasted their lives. No, instead these people are admired and even sainted for what they did. The early Christian Martyrs we should remember were breaking the law at the time. The Roman Empire had outlawed Christianity, but the Martyrs broke the law because they believed what they were doing was right. How can Christians not understand the power of religion to manipulate people into taking actions that seem ridiculous to any outside observer?

Obviously, Christians who feel weakness in their faith fear that arguments like this might erode further their own faith. After all, the stories of the Christian Martyrs make Christians feel stronger in their own faith. Shouldn’t it then be that stories of non-Christian Martyrs should do the opposite? The weakest of Christians could so easily be swayed to follow another faith if the message was powerful enough, and the stories of non-Christian Martyrs could do that job. Immediately after 9/11/2001 Americans chose to ignore this powerful story of Martyrdom by sticking their fingers in their ears and repeatedly making nonsense noises.

Any religious person who begins to look at another faith must at some point begin to question his or her own faith. “Am I being manipulated in the same way that these people are obviously being manipulated?” is certainly the most obvious question. Of course the Christian who is strong in their faith can easily avoid these questions by keeping their fingers firmly in their ears. Or at least that is the attitude of some Christian groups.

The point is that many groups use stories of member’s dedication to the group’s purpose as a method to strengthen allegiance to the cause. This can be seen in the simple hazing in fraternity and sorority societies, where members put up with abuse in an effort to prove their dedication to the group. Similarly, criminal gangs use the same type of techniques with their members, by having them commit crimes to prove their loyalty. The members then realize that these crimes can be used as a Sword of Damocles hanging over the member’s head if they get out of line.

So, perhaps we can think of the terrorist groups like al Qaeda as an international gang, like the Italian Mafia. The goals of these two groups are different, but their operations are very similar. But this comparison doesn’t offer much hope, because the Italian Mafia has managed to survive over many years and they have continued to traffic in drugs, weapons and humans. They have managed to get away with murder time and time again. And, they manage to pull the strings of law to get themselves the maximum benefits with the least effect on their organization. If we can’t defeat these people, how will we manage to defeat a group that has many people willing to give their lives for the cause?

The answer isn’t in the ability to use force against them. Force will only harden their resolve. Force didn’t rid the Christians for the Romans, even though many people were put to gruesome deaths in front of audiences of Roman citizens. Using extreme force against a group proves to the group that they are important enough to get the attention of a “Super Power.” Even though the number of deaths caused by these groups is small and actually offers little “real” risk, the attention given to them is worth the energy expended. A group like this can not be defeated by force. This is because these groups use force like the martial artist uses the force of his opponent to defeat him. These people are able to redirect the American hatred for them into a grand recruiting tool. The American reaction of attacking Iraq has been used to turn the Middle East against the USA in large numbers.

The conclusion is that the only way to defeat these people is to learn why so many people are willing to sacrifice their lives for this horrible cause. I believe that many people know and understand this, but it seems to end there. This information needs to be used and turned against these evil extremists. It needs to become common knowledge in the Middle East that people join these groups because they are looking for fulfillment. It needs to become common knowledge that not all versions of a religion are equal. It needs to become common knowledge that religions that promote compassion over death and destruction are more acceptable. In other words, the “common good” of the world is important and that is what all major religions promote.

But, of course, freedom of religion in the United States would frown upon this type of government action. This is why the government can not be responsible for this change in attitude. Government can not force people to change their attitudes. And, since these extremists are only a small minority it would be like the government trying to stamp out smoking. It will never happen 100%, because a small minority will still smoke cigarettes, as well as joints. Only a widespread distribution of the message of compassionate religions by the major religious sects themselves will be able to battle the attitude of noble Martyrdom. This sad truth makes an end of Islamic extremists looks even more doubtful, but force will never change a public attitude. Even now after the Iraq Invasion changing this attitude is even more doubtful.

The sad message is that if we don’t try to understand what the terrorists truly want we will never be able to stop their attacks. Brute force energizes their recruitment, and their resolve to beat the evil Americans. If we actually spend some time to understand these people we will certainly learn enough to use their ideology against them. By pointing out the direct religious problems in their ideology as opposed to mainstream religion including moderate Islam moderates in the Middle East will be able to talk about a common understanding of compassion that goes against the teachings of these extremists. Extremist actions will gradually become less acceptable and the idea of noble Martyrdom will be considered more “lunatic” and less “noble.”

Unfortunately since this is the only way terrorists can be defeated, we have little hope of defeating these people while the hawks rule the roost.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

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

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