Saturday, May 26, 2007
It speaks of something I've been breathing in the air, feeling between my toes, the source and cause of an apparently unreasonable and unjustifiable sense of optimism.
To Remake the World | Orion magazine
This is the first time in history that a large social movement is not bound together by an “ism.” What binds it together is ideas, not ideologies. This unnamed movement’s big contribution is the absence of one big idea; in its stead it offers thousands of practical and useful ideas. In place of isms are processes, concerns, and compassion. The movement demonstrates a pliable, resonant, and generous side of humanity.
And it is impossible to pin down. Generalities are largely inaccurate. It is nonviolent, and grassroots; it has no bombs, armies, or helicopters. A charismatic male vertebrate is not in charge. The movement does not agree on everything nor will it ever, because that would be an ideology. But it shares a basic set of fundamental understandings about the Earth, how it functions, and the necessity of fairness and equity for all people partaking of the planet’s
The promise of this unnamed movement is to offer solutions to what appear to be insoluble dilemmas: poverty, global climate change, terrorism, ecological degradation, polarization of income, loss of culture. It is not burdened with a syndrome of trying to save the world; it is trying to remake the world.
I found this followed a depressing IM conversation with a 20-something who found politics so "irritating" that she resents it even being brought up in conversation.
Well, hell, so do I. But I take a longer view, and I'm older and more set in my ways; I tend to see the political process as the way forward. But day by day, the news shows the amazing lack of interest the Democrats have in achieving any real change, of addressing real issues, of confronting real evil. Is she correct in seeing them as an irrelevant waste of time?
Would my time be better spent ignoring the political process as much as possible, save when working to achieve some real, practical, useful goal?
I've always been very impatient with ideology - and far more impatient with the ideologues who see the ideology as valid only to the extent that paying it lip-service places them in power.
Therefore my heart is gladdened that in a very practical sense, people have begun to pro-actively network around the political choke-points that seem increasingly to exist only for the sake of maintaining authoritarians in power. Over the years I've become very respectful of actual, practical authority and increasingly disrespectful of authoritarians, who seem to have become entirely divorced from the idea that merit, expertise and relevance are inherent to holding sway over others.
Or in other words, if I am to respect an authority - strike that, if I'm to notice an authority, it must be an authority that's interested in achieving something I wish to achieve in a way I find acceptable. These days, there are simply so many alternates that nobody has any particular reason to unquestioningly listen to and obey any authority, other than emotional attachment.
This is all gaining great momentum due to the Internet - and modern communications in general. Or in other words, it's unstoppable; it's not merely a new movement, it's a sea change in how humans connect with each other and organize themselves. Those vital roles that existed in the industrial age, boss, manager, executive, ruler - all these offices are now to some degree becoming vestigial, save where they adapt themselves to the new reality.
We will always need authorities - on things like law, and earthquakes and building codes, on materials science, on the behavior of animal species and genetics. We will need people who know and understand a great deal more than is common today among those with the large, impressive hats and who are yet willing to be humble enough to understand that they are not in charge; that in fact, nobody is "in charge," that there is no need for anyone to compete to "lead" humanity.
For each human can and should do that for themselves to the degree that they can - and to the degree that they cannot, they may freely choose a little less freedom.
And there will be no lack of useful and meaningful work for those who are led to have power over others. Indeed, given human nature, there will be a high demand for those skills. But they must start giving value for value, respecting the worth of the power and talents put at their disposal, for in our brave new world there will be no way to keep followers against their will.
Do I advocate anarchy? No, not in any usual sense. It's more that I'm predicting a condition where such laws as are needed are largely followed because they make sense and help make life easier. I envision a government that is at the service of the people rather than on their backs. I see it as being composed entirely OF the people. Of course, that's the case now, but those in government have become blinded to it and the proper relationships to other citizens this implies.
But sooner or later, our self-styled Lords and Masters will find that it's all to easy to simply ignore them, disregard their laws, ignore their diktats and avoid their taxes, so long as the people are willing to accept the cost of not having access to whatever services such government provides.
And as our government sees itself to be more and more the servant of Big - Big money, Big Special Interest groups, Big Corporations, it does less and less that is of benefit to poor and middle class persons - or indeed, of actual individuals of any level of wealth and power. We are seen by Washington as classes of person, of piles of various sizes of cog and screw. It's a very machine-age view, and it's a viewpoint as dead and as irrelevant as Karl Marx.
That means that what happens in Washington is of little interest to more people; it's regulations and rules more and more opaque or obviously biased towards large dollar interests, and therefore there is increasingly less motivation to respect the rule of law. Why should anyone, seeing as the law is obviously for sale?
And yet people need those things that government should provide, and therefore they will go about creating new and more flexible ways to provide those things without bothering to consult or consider the interests of Government.
What I do see is the rise of small governments and voluntary administrations that are made possible by Internet communication. For instance, it would make a great deal of sense to have two or three co-operative competitors in the field of approving and regulating prescription drugs, rather than having many separate entities. National association and sponsorship is nice, but it's hardly vital to the task; indeed, it obviously gets in the way. The same could be said for the Centers for Disease Control. Here, it would be much better to have a trans-national agency with a shared knowledge base and common procedures. It's also common sense that those areas least able to afford it's services are most likely to produce the threats that should be stomped on immediately, before they spread to areas that CAN afford it.
In other words, I see a pragmatic re-alignment, wherein services exist locally, regionally or globally depending upon need and the support of the people there, but with the caviat that whenever practically possible, they are available to any individual willing to pay to be an exception.
In the final analysis, government is not dissimilar in it's role and nature from an insurance policy - it amounts to a group of people coming together to pool their risks. And when an insurance company fails to pay out on claims, what happens? Well, ultimately, after a great deal of noise and hand-wringing - it goes out of business, to be replaced by a company that is better able, or at least more willing to manage assets conservatively so that it may satisfy it's customers liberally.
tag: Orion Magazine, Paradigm Shift, Paul Hawkin
Friday, May 25, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
The Blog | Max Blumenthal: Diary of a Christian Terrorist | The Huffington Post
Visitors to Mark David Uhl's Myspace page will quickly learn that Uhl is a student at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, that he is a devoted Christian, that his name means "Mighty Warrior" -- and that he likes Will Smith's saccharine tear-up-the-club track, "Switch." Uhl reveals his career ambitions on his page as well: "I will join the Army as an officer after college." Already, Uhl was preparing in Liberty's ROTC program.
Uhl waited until he was offline, however, to reveal his plot to kill the family of itinerant Calvinist provocateur Fred Phelps (famous for their "Fag Troops" rallies outside soldiers' funerals). The Phelpses planned to protest Falwell's funeral, a bizarre stunt designed to highlight Falwell's somehow insufficiently draconian attitude towards homosexuals. Uhl made several bombs and allegedly told a family member he planned to use them to attack the Phelps family.
He was arrested soon after and charged with manufacturing explosives.
But there is a crucial difference between Uhl and Cho: while Cho's motives remain a source of intense debate, Uhl was an a devout evangelical Christian who advocated religious violence in the name of American nationalism. Uhl's blog, featured on his Myspace page, offers a window into the political underpinnings of his bomb plot. In one post, Uhl implores Christians to die on the battlefield for "Uncle Sam." He justifies his call to arms by quoting several Biblical passages and reminding his readers that the "gift of God" is eternal life.There you will find him extolling fellow "Christians" to go kill and die for their country, which this young man seems to have confabulated with serving God. Seeing that Uhl is but one example of dozens of classes of ROTC grads prepared with this most damnable and unchristian teaching, I have to assume that, far from being a tragic exception, he was simply acting according to the things he had learned.
Of course, those teachings demand that actions such as Phelps' be punished, that they be sought out, hunted down and killed. That is the obvious conclusion from the doctrine that is taught at Liberty U. And if you were wondering "what sort of person could commit the Haditha Massacre - well, here's an example of the sort of person that could. He had napalm bombs. Not mere Molotov Cockails, mind you, but home-made napalm with explosives to spread it over a wide area, intended to wipe out not just Fred Phelps, but his entire family. I doubt the choice of man-made "hellfire" was accidental.
I do wonder where he learned to make such weapons? It's hard to say, but surely as an ROTC student, he'd have access to documents such as "The Flaming Sword: Napalm and its Effects" a riveting discussion of the use of Napalm by the military, it's political and psychological effects - and two rather simple recipes for "Napalm A and Napalm B."
Some have argued that the “fire bomb is primarily an antipersonnel weapon.”26 So, what kind of effect does napalm have on human beings? Napalm casualties result from heat related injuries and carbon monoxide poisoning. Napalm’s adhesive qualities and high temperature of combustion usually cause third degree-burns, often burning into the muscle tissue or even the bone. Particles from the white phosphorous burster tube may contaminate the wound. The particles will continue to burn within the victim and are very difficult to remove. In addition, napalm burns cause other injuries: dehydration, heat stroke, renal failure, and shock, which may precipitate death. Victims may also succumb to heatstroke from the ambient air without any direct contact with the attack.27 An explosive aerial bomb, on the other hand, causes wounds by way of the percussive force in the blast zone, shrapnel, or debris.A perfect weapon, both symbolically and practically speaking for a Christian Terrorist. The literal fires of Hell.
Very few of these injuries precipitate a quick death. Anthony Carthew reporting for the New Republic captured the essence of the weapon when he said “The most horrible thing about napalm and white phosphorous: though the body is virtually drowned in flame, the victim tends to live.”28
Most people have a limited understanding of the sensations. It is unlikely that many people have not suffered bullet wounds or shrapnel wounds from explosives, but most people have suffered from burns at some point in their life. Therefore, people can be empathetic to a napalm burn victim. The fear of burning, and consequently napalms, is cross-cultural. As stated earlier, fear of fire caused Japanese troops to break cover in World War II. During the French Indochina War, a Vietminh officer’s diary records his experience in a napalm attack:Immense sheets of flames, extending over hundreds of meters, it seems to strike terror in the ranks of my soldiers…The men are now fleeing in all directions and I cannot hold them back.29
Napalm’s terrifying potential made it a potent military weapon, but also a political hazard. “Indeed one of the chief military values of napalm is its terrorizing effect on its victims.”30 [emphasis mine]
The presumption that "good Christians" can and must judge others and execute judgment upon those they find wanting has been the cornerstone of fanatical evangelical teaching for decades now, and every once in a while, some impressionable person takes the rhetoric a little more seriously than the rhetoricians do. This is the comment I added to his blog entry about going and dying for Christ.
Thank you for clearly personifying and explaining for the world the theology and world-view of "Liberty University," and what sort of brainwashed fanatical killers they are producing for the Military in the name of Christ.I regard this incident as strongly suggestive that Liberty U's ROTC program is intended to turn out exactly the sort of officers that get good men and women killed.
Fortunately, Penetantaries have good libraries and even Internet access. It won't be terribly hard for you to find an intellectual foundation to explain how suddenly the church leadership is suddenly denying any connection to your actions, even though you were following their clear leadership and intent.
Yes, my little Christian Soldier - you are what Falwell, Dobson, Robertson, Bin Ladin and Abu-Kazowie refer to as "an expendable asset."
Fortunately for you, you had people who did not consider your pink ass expendable and took steps to save you from yourself.
Regard the next few years as "grandmotherly kindness."
To quote Patton. "Nobody ever won a war by dying for his country. You win a war by making some other poor dumb sonofabitch die for HIS country." THAT is the attitude of a soldier - to live for the cause, not to die for it. The person who is willing to die; even eager to die for a cause is a terrorist, a living "smart bomb" waiting to be expended by whatever "Dear Leader" has their frequency.
Being led into battle by a religious fanatic against religious fanatics is not what our founders had in mind when they turned their backs on Europe where such nonsense was depressingly common. This is also why they sharply separated church and state.
So also concerns me that Falwell seems to have been preparing for Cultural Warfare on a far more literal level than most would like to believe - just as was Ted Haggard, with his church's unholy alliance with the Air Force Academy. I think they have been stockpiling brownshirts in case they need to stage a coup.
In other words, I see the "Religious Leaders" of the right covertly preparing for the sort of future predicted in the "Left Behind" books - and in that other "best seller" of the "right", The Turner Diaries.
If this seems like a great deal of gold to spin from one pile of straw, let me remind you this is far from the first pile. There have been many, many indicators of this sort of creeping intolerance over the last couple of decades; language that was once only found on the websites of neo-nazi and Klan sites is now uttered by folks such as Michelle Malkin, with no apparent sense of shame.
Nor has it been the first act of fanatic violence spawned by right-wing religious and secular intolerance - if the two may be separated at all. The tragedies of Oklahoma City and Waco had at their root intolerance of dissent and fear of a secular and tolerant civilization.
Let me close with one chilling thought; if it is reasonable to topple the leadership of Iran, to invade, to bomb and kill it's citizens simply because it is led by Islamic religious fanatics who WISH to have one or two nuclear weapons, what should therefore be done when we have a nation with many hundreds, if not thousands of nuclear weapons and reliable and unstoppable delivery technology in the hands of CHRISTIAN religious fanatics?
It's important to think of these matters.
It's a very tiny step from condemning all dissenters to hell - as Robertson does, Dobson does, and Falwell did, and igniting hellfire to light their way.
It's not just those likely to do something like this that are the issue; it's those that are clearly willing to contemplate the possibility and prepare a "fifth column" within our armed forces for "The Great Day of Armageddon."
All those of a prudent nature and certainly those who take their Christianity seriously need abandon the trivia of partisan political preference, wake up and smell the napalm.
See these links for interesting comment threads:
Mark David Uhl Makes Bombs Like Jesus Made ‘Em!
The christian fundamentalist extremist domestic terrorist
Diary of a Christian Terrorist
tag: napalm, religious fanatics, dominionism, Jerry Falwell, Fred Phelps, Mark David Uhl, christian fanatics, dominionists, theocracy, theocons, ROTC, fifth column, WWIII, Iran, Iraq War, Planned Iran War, improvised munitions, moralism, Revolution, Global Terrorism, myspace
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Fark's Drew Curtis On How "News" Isn't News - Public Eye: "The number one question I get when I meet people who read my website is 'Where can I go to get the real news?' The implication is the major news outlets aren't meeting this need. Most people I've talked to are convinced that they're not getting valuable information from news media anymore. I'm not talking about tinfoil-hatters either, these are intelligent people who believe their news media has failed them.
It's not just consumers that are annoyed by this. Journalists themselves are in the same boat. I've met hundreds over the past few years, they're disgruntled and angry because they went into journalism to cover real stories and make a real difference, not waste time discussing drunk Germans getting arrested driving down the street in motorized wheelchairs."
The trick, of course, is to run the real news in a sidebar. At least folks will be exposed to the real news. You see, I do differ with Drew. I've been long aware that if it's a choice between kittens and Cheney, kittens will win every time. "If it bleeds, it leads" is an expression that was probably invented in Sumeria. "Fluff Pieces" and even "crap news" have their place - as enticements. It's like coating a pill in peanut butter so the dog will swallow it.
The problem is, we have gotten nothing BUT adorable kittens and bleeding leads from our media for the longest time now. And as for our opinion-makers and editorialists, well. We used to have Jack Anderson. Now we have Anne Coulter.
tag: Drew Curtis, Fark, CBS, Public Eye
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
read more | digg story
Sunday, May 20, 2007
To which "Sore Throat" Responds:
Sure, I have my own little curiosities about this mess. For one, I thought Madam's prices were awfully low. $275 for ninety minutes? That's an afternoon bar tab for these guys. Plus, if you were able to get a guy off in ten minutes, did you really have to sit there and play Canasta for another seventy?
Finally, what kind of client was Randall Tobias, anyway? —Were his peers surprised?
Some of us have been trying to understand what was going on with those escorts. One thought was that he may have been telling the truth about the "no sex" part.He was a tyrant in his business life, so we speculated that he needed some young smart ladies to put him in his place in his personal life. We could easily imagine that he was into spanking, being forced into submissive stuff. (Most Prodommes are explicit about their services being "non-sexual," meaning that no penetration of any kind will occur. - GT)
That would be embarrassing enough that he'd rather resign than have the story come out— but he could honestly say he didn't have "sex." Well, it's just our best guess, knowing him from personal contact and observing him as a leader accused by Congress of 'tycoon-itis' just last month.
"Sore Throat" goes on at length to praise two other Bush appointees who are widely respected within USAID, despite being the sort of people, ideologically speaking, that Bush would appoint. In other words, this wasn't about the right-wing agenda so much as about Tobias, an hypocritical asshole, who happened to profit by being a right-wing moralist in public.
One thing I learned is that in many cases, whatever is offered above and beyond the "booking fee" ain't enough - and this may well be especially true of the absolutely "nonsexual encounters" Mistress Elle booked, ones that were not about sex even in the mind of the client. She was a mercenary lass and on occasion, let greed overcome common sense. On those occasions I would have to talk her down off the ceiling, after a client needed more punishment than she was comfortable giving.
The other thing was a deep appreciation for the rigid code of ethics that govern the professions of call-girls and Pro-Dommes. You never, EVER "burn the client." Well, at least, not until the client's employer tries to burn you and your girls. (C&L, quoting a CNN transcript of "Reliable Sources")
KURTZ: Jeane Palfrey originally talked about selling her list of clients to a tabloid outfit and then obviously, ABC News does not pay for information. Why did she decide to cooperate with you?
ROSS: We told her that we would take it seriously, that it was a potentially important story. Her point is that she runs an operation that she claims offered no sex. And that she sees it as hypocritical that the government is going after her and the women who worked for her and not the men. The phone lists were in her home when the Federal agents raided it. But they were not interested in apparently the names of the men, only the women who worked for her. So she thinks that it is hypocritical. Secondly, she wants to call some of these men to testify on her behalf. She's turned down a deal, a plea bargain deal from the government and wants to go to trial.
KURTZ: I should have mentioned at the top she's under indictment and as you say, she apparently plans to go to trial. If a government official pays for this kind of service personally and has nothing to do with his job, is there at least an argument that it's not news worthy and shouldn't be reported?
ROSS: Well, I think there — I think it is news worthy that there is this indictment. It's part of a Bush administration effort under the Department of Justice to crack down on prostitution and this is part of it. Tobias in particular, given his role as spearheading the Bush administration effort overseas to crack down on prostitution, seemed to us to be news worthy. [Emphasis Mine]
You know, this is the second significant figure involved in the whole "right wing moral agenda," their so-called "Cultural Warriors" who have been busted with their pants around their ankles - by sex-workers who's own moral sensibilities were outraged. Ted Haggard, as you may remember, was busted by his gay boy-toy and meth dealer after said toy saw Haggard on TV being all anti-gay and holier-than thou.
If Tobias wanted domination, if he had a fetish, if he wanted to beat off while he got a show; he'd be inside the law. No wait!— Maybe he wanted a woman to dress up like Condi in spike heels and spank him while jeering at his manhood.So he may well be in closet subbie hell/heaven right now - inasmuch as now even the MSM is jeering his manhood.
I think it's time for America to realize that these are probably not "isolated incidents," but rather the tip of a very impure iceberg. Those who are addicted to power - and particularly those who are addicted to the abuse of power - are particularly fond of the whole "Do as I say, not as I do," paradigm, as getting away with things others cannot get away with is the proof they are powerful. Incidentally, with such folks, the idea of the responsible use of power is pretty damn alien to them; they see power as an end in itself, not as a means toward anything, so there will always be a disconnect between words and actions.
You may presume that the loudest defenders of the Bush Administration understand this dynamic perfectly and are willing participants on some level.
tag: Susie Bright, Sore Throat, USAID, Randall Tobias, Unintended Consequences, Clash of Cultures, morality, ethics, Bush Cronies, Scandal, Accountability, moralism
* She bites. HARD.
tag: The Daily Show, Republicans, hilarious, Fox News, Britt Hume, 24, Debate
The epidemic of stupidity has placed western culture at grave risk; it threatens our health, our future, our survival as a species. So it&...
I'm tired of seeing the Black Screen of No. How about you? It begins thus... Op-Ed Columinst - The Bigots’ Last Hurrah - NYTimes.co...
Banksy nails it, doesn't he? This is a perfect illustration for blowback. When shit happens, it rolls downhill. This is the thing pe...
(raw story) Hope Steffey's night started with a call to police for help. It ended with her face down, naked, and sobbing on a jail ce...
I just got this email, and while it's the usual sort of phishing scam , the timing is pretty good for a better than usual success rate, ...
Africa: An Ethical and Sustainable US Business Venture in Ghana - Ghana - known 55 year ago as The Gold Coast - gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1957. By doing so, it became the first African nation to f...10 months ago
Progressives Guide to Social Media 7: Google+ | NEWS JUNKIE POST - The problem with "real names" and the very real possibility that you could be locked out of your Gmail account makes me unwilling to use G+. However, if ...1 year ago