Saturday, October 20, 2007

Voting Records of Three GOP 'Right to Life' Hypocrites

They all voted NO on the SCHIP bill to cover the health insurance of some of the nation's poorest children. They all voted YES to each Bush War Supplemental Spending bills. They all scored 100% from the National Right to Life Committee.

Steve Chabot, OH District 1
John Peterson, PA District 5
Scott Garrett, NJ District 5

The following are the ratings from various groups which keep track of congressional votes and lobby the members for their issues. The data comes from Project Vote Smart.

All three, by the way, voted to extended the Bush tax cuts.

Not surprisingly, they scored only 6% from the Public Citizens Congress Watch to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts."

Again, each man scored zero from the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. Apparently they don't like that 1st Amendment.

They each scored zero from the Human Rights Campaign, a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.

The National Education Association was not high on their agenda, the best scoring 35%.

The League of Conservation Voters, working to protect the environment, scored them in the 30's down to zero.

These three men received dismal scores, 20%, from the Children's Defense Fund which pays particular attention to the needs of poor and minority children and those with disabilities.

Citizens for Global Solutions envisions a future in which nations work together to abolish war, protect our rights and freedoms, and solve the problems facing humanity that no nation can solve alone. These three men were rated zero.

The American Public Health Association, concerned with a broad set of issues affecting personal and environmental health, including federal and state funding for health programs, pollution control, programs and policies related to chronic and infectious diseases, a smoke-free society, and professional education in public health, rated these men no higher than 20%.

The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees rank these men zero.

A group that hopes to find cures for Parkinson's Disease, Parkinson's Action Network, rate each man zero.

Senior Citizens rank poorly as the Alliance for Retired Americans,to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens so that they may enjoy lives of dignity, personal and family fulfillment and security, rate these men 10%.

The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce, creating economic and leadership opportunities for women by building a strong community voice and providing programs and benefits to support the growth of our women across America rate each man 0%.

It seems obvious that these men care little about the American citizen after the 9 months in the womb. When the baby is born, these three men slap it on the rear and say, "Good luck kid!"

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Chilling Expose' of Blackwater

Bill Moyers Journal on PBS presented Jeremy Scahill, author of the book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army who exposed the absolute power resting in Blackwater and its CEO, Erik Prince. The facts presented were absolutely chilling.

At one point Moyers asked a hypothetical: "What would happen if a president declared martial law in order to try to deal with this threat. And there was a private army of twenty thousand soldiers that I could call upon to throw a ring around the capital and make sure that the Congress didn't leave town or didn't get back to the capital if-- how far fetched is that?"

Scahill responded by telling Moyers that one day after Katrina struck New Orleans, Prince sent in 180 of his men into the area. Scahill said, "And this car speeds up next to us. No license plates on it, a compact car. And three massive guys get out of it. And they have M-4 assault rifles, bullet proof vests, wearing khakis, wrap around sunglasses, baseball caps on. And they come up and they say to the cops, "Where are the rest of the Blackwater guys?" And my head sort of started, you know, I didn't even hear the answer. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Where are the rest of the Blackwater guys? So, they get back in their vehicle and they speed off. And I said to this cop, Blackwater? You mean the guys in Iraq and Afghanistan? They said, oh, yeah. They're all over the place down here."

That's how powerful this mercenary army is. So, the answer to the question is: very likely. In a discussion on this blog this morning, mad-jack and I were wondering if the National Guard would be called if masses of citizens arrived in DC to attempt a citizen coup. I wondered if the National Guard would be able to shoot their own citizens. Now i know better. Prince's Blackwater goons would do the shooting.

To me this seems like a re-run of history in Latin America: right wing death squads shooting and killing the peasants who might rebel against the dictator. With private armies like Blackwater, our citizens would never be able to wrestle control of their government from the hands of fascist thugs.

Listen to the entire interview. Take notes. Send the link to your friends. Talk about this Blackwater [and other] mercenary army and the potential power it has in the hands of ruthless fascists who would seek power as it shreds the Constitution with assault rifles from this home-grown army.

U.S. bishops call Catholics to "a different kind of political engagement"

The National Catholic News Service offers American Catholics a challenge to the way they 'usually' select a political candidate. The article begins:

Rejecting a political climate based on "powerful interests, partisan attacks, sound bites and media hype," the U.S. bishops call Catholics to "a different kind of political engagement" in a document to be voted on during their fall general meeting Nov. 12-15 in Baltimore.That engagement must be "shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good and the protection of the weak and vulnerable," they said.

Further into the article is this:

"As Catholics, we should be guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party or interest group," the draft document says. "When necessary, our participation should help transform the party to which we belong; we should not let the party transform us in such a way that we neglect or deny fundamental moral truths."

Attachment to a political party or interest group is a loaded phrase. I'm wondering if this specifically targets fundamentalist Catholics as a voting bloc? I like the next sentence about helping transform the party. I would be curious to know who many of the 153 Republicans in the House who voted against SCHIP were Catholic. I would hope not too many because Catholic Social Teaching highlights the needs of the many over the few.

In his speech in Toledo last evening, journalist Joe Klein warned us exactly as the bishops did in the opening sentence: about choosing a candidate based on powerful interests, partisan attacks, sound bites and media hype. He noted the 2004 election as a perfect example of 'sound bite' psychology. Klein said, "If the 2008 election copies that of 2004, we, as a nation, will be in very serious trouble." He went on to say that electing the president of the United States ought to be for the voter a very thorough search of the qualifications and policies of the candidate.

Serious stuff. Hats off to the bishops.

GOP Congressman: "Mistakes Happen, People Die"

I dislike the adverbial conjunction 'but.' I find that politicians are very fond of 'but.' It's like waiting atop the roller coaster for the plunge. They begin a sentence on a note of hope, and then comes the 'but.' It happened yesterday in Congress. Not surprisingly, it was a right-wing Republican congressman, Dana Rohrabacher.

The particular setting was unique: the United States, through the House of Representatives, apologized to a Canadian of Syrian heritage, Maher Arar, who was 'captured' in New York in 2002 by US officials and sent to Syria, where he says he was tortured.

According to the BBC, "Mr Arar appeared by video link from Canada because he remains on a US government watch list. A Canadian government inquiry cleared him of any involvement in terrorism. Syria denies that he was tortured. Mr Arar appeared on a giant screen before a joint hearing of House of Representatives committees into "extraordinary rendition". "

Isn't it interesting that Syria was the site chosen by the U.S. Government? Syria, on the 'bad' list of nations in the Bush/Cheney playbook, apparently is 'good' for a few things.

"I was beaten with an electrical cable and threatened with a metal chair, the tyre and electric shocks. I was forced to falsely confess that I had been to Afghanistan," he said. "When I was not being beaten I was put in a waiting room so that I could hear the screams of other prisoners. The cries of the women still haunt me the most."

Mr Arar was later released without charge.

Among those offering their apologies at the hearing was Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler from New York:

"On behalf of my fellow citizens I want to apologise to you, Mr Arar, for the reprehensible conduct of our government for kidnapping you, for turning you over to Syria - a nation that our own state department recognises as routinely practising torture. This conduct does not reflect the values of the American people."

Then came the GOP. It was Rep Dana Rohrabacher who spoke. He said:

The US should be ashamed of what happened to Mr Arar... "BUT that is no excuse to end a programme which has protected the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans... We are at war. Mistakes happen. People die".

Donald Rumsfeld is not dead.

Brave Toledo Catholic Nun Calls for Impeachment

Bush, Cheney should be impeached is the title of a letter to the Editor of The Blade this morning, penned by Sister Marie Andree Chorzempa, Sylvania Franciscans. In her opening paragraph she asks:

"Why are our senators in Congress so fearful? Why are our representatives in Washington so reluctant to take on Vice President Dick Cheney and his tactics to change constitutional law? There is so much evidence to impeach both Mr. Cheney and President Bush for their fanatical pursuit of unlimited executive powers."

Yes, Sister, Why? The answer lies in the corruption of our entire political system, I believe. The entire government, with a few isolated exceptions, is one vat of festering corruption. The corporate world has infected our Congress and the virus is widespread. Money rules supreme.

Decisions made by this once noble body are largely the result of pressure and suggestions by that swarm of cockroaches known as lobbyists. They all have a sponsor and a message; and, of course, money and power to offer. You and I, Sister, are dry toast in comparison to what these shysters have to offer. Your plea is that of one crying in the wilderness. You have no power to offer; you have no money to offer. You are only important on the first Tuesday in November. After that, you and I are faceless dullards.

There is only one solution that I can see if we are looking for real change in our government: the 537 people who represent the Executive and Legislative Branches of our government need to be overthrown. Hopefully in a bloodless coup. "Throw the bums out" literally.

The only question that I cannot answer about this idea is this: will the National Guard members shoot their neighbors?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

If Neanderthals Could Have Talked

What did they talk about? An article in Current Biology says that Neanderthal possessed the FOXP-2 gene which biologists indicate is the 'speech' gene.

As they did not reach extinction in Europe until 33,000 to 24,000 years ago, it means that these people could have been musing around the cave fires, chatting about the stars, sun, moon, and even their own mortality 100,000 years ago.

The article says, "The finding, say the researchers, “establishes that these changes [in FOXP2 that distinguish it from the chimp version and, thus, presumably help confer the capacity for speech and language] were present in the common ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals.” Our lineage might have been a much chattier past than anyone suspected."

The artwork of Neanderthal in the caves of southern France indicate that these people interacted with their environment and, apparently, wanted to communicate what was important to them in the paintings. Their brains were sufficiently large to think, make tools, hunt, make weapons, jewelry, and to paint.

Did they ever think about spirituality? Did they make offerings to a god? Did they talk to each other about an after life?

It would be another 30,000 years before Adam and Eve began strolling in the garden on cool evenings talking with God, according to Genesis. Why did God wait so long, a mere 4000 years ago, before showing himself to his people? Did he not like Neanderthals? That reconstructed likeness of a Neanderthal boy makes him look like a European. These people were not freaks of nature.

Why did God only first speak to the Jews? I can't figure that out. I feel sorry for the hundreds of generations of Neanderthal who never knew of God. All of those wasted lives.

Note to the Generals: Are the Coup Plans in Order?

" Where were these generals when they were still wearing the uniform, when their dissent might have meant something? How could they have led us into battle while having so little confidence in the battle plan?"

This from a new piece, What should generals do if Bush orders a foolish attack on Iran? by Fred Kaplan. He wondered, as did the junior officers, why so many senior officers, like Gen. Sanchez, kept their mouths closed until after their retirement.

The first sentences of the article post the problem: From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to U.S. Central Command, most of America's military leaders have expressed wariness about, if not outright opposition to, the idea of bombing Iran.

So, if President George W. Bush starts to prepare—or actually issues the order—for an attack, what should the generals do? Disobey? Rally resistance from within? Resign in protest? Retire quietly? Or salute and execute the mission?

Great questions which need to be answered NOW. Not after it happens. NOW.

A military junta is in order. Although our nation has not yet had one, neither did we have a pre-emptive invasion. Or two.

So, generals, get it planned and let the idea slip out: send the idea that 'some generals' are planning a coup if Bush bombs Iran.

It would be THE most patriotic act that you could do for us.

Eye-Plank Rhetoric of Laura Bush

Cindy Sheehan [the GOP reader inserts explitive] has penned a note to Laura Bush regarding that wooden plank in her eye. Matthew 7:3 (Look It Up) is her title. Many will recall the plastic First Lady's denouncement of the repressive government in Burma.

Odd, though, that she keeps mum about hubby. Odd, not at all, because she daily sings, Stand By Your Man. The plank.

Sheehan notes these issues with Mrs. Bush's hubby:

• I wonder if she has been to Iraq? I wonder if she has visited the millions of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Syria who have been forced from their country by her husband’s tragic policies?

• I wonder if Laura has read the most recent studies that say over a million Iraqis have been killed since her husband’s “shocking and awful” on March 20. 2003?

• Does Laura know that her husband’s hired guns in Iraq, Blackwater (and the rest) gun down Iraqis just because they can?

• Doesn’t Laura know that her husband has authorized the torture of other human beings?

• The people of New Orleans still don’t have homes to return to and our streets are filled with the homeless, sick, and hopeless. Families can’t afford insurance for their children and are declaring bankruptcy or losing their homes while Laura’s spouse vetoes their hope.

Sorry, Ms. Sheehan, about the loss of your son, by the way.

Wanted: 'True" Republican

John McCain says he is and Mitt Romney is not. Odd that they both have [R] behind their names. "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet."


Well, not exactly sweet; I'd found few Republicans in my lifetime who I would label sweet. Stingy, yes. Self-centered, of course. Warmongers, quite a few. Righteous, all.

McCain's chide reminds me of those ugly grade school days and that irritating, sing-song teasing, "La dah dee dah dah..."

I know how to settle this argument [be right back]


John McCain's voting record:

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the NARAL Pro-Choice America 0 percent

2005-2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the National Right to Life Committee 75 percent

Senator McCain supported the interests of the Americans for the Arts 0 percent in 2000.

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Americans for Tax Reform 80 percent

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Business-Industry Political Action Committee 80 percent

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights 15 percent in 2006.

2005-2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 7 percent

2004 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Conservative Index - The John Birch Society 90 percent

2005-2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants 29 percent

2005-2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the National Education Association 0 percent

2003-2004 Senator McCain supported the interests of the National Parent Teacher Association 7 percent

2002 Senator McCain supported the interests of the American Coalition for Ethanol 0 percent in 2002.

2005-2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the American Wilderness Coalition 16 percent

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Children's Defense Fund 10 percent

2006 In 2006 Citizens for Global Solutions gave Senator McCain a rating of 0.

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Gun Owners of America 100 percent

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the American Public Health Association 40 percent

2005-2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine 0 percent

2005-2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the National Breast Cancer Coalition 20 percent

2005-2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of Americans for Better Immigration 18 percent

2005-2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the U.S. Border Control 18 percent

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the AFL-CIO 7 percent

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees 0

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the United Auto Workers 0 percent

2003 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Non Commissioned Officers Association 100 percent

2003-2004 Senator McCain supported the interests of the American Security Council 100 percent

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology 0 percent

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Alliance for Retired Americans 20 percent

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby 11 percent

2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 20 percent

2005-2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the Federally Employed Women 30 percent

2005-2006 Senator McCain supported the interests of the National Organization for Women 13


Well, then, looks like old John may, in fact, be the REAL REPUBLICAN: militaristic, stingy, self-centered, warmonger. He doesn't care much for women, either.

If only he would work for the Ten Commandments in all schools and the imprisonment of gays and lesbians, he'd be ideal for the fundies.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Beautiful Galaxy In Search of a Better Name

Prominently barred spiral galaxy NGC 1672 was captured in spectacular detail in this image taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.

NGC 1672 does not do it justice. It's like calling the Sistine Chapel a church. Come on, astronomers, let's get your right brain going!

"Judge a man by his questions, not his answers."

Letter to the Editor
Toledo Blade
Questions are what is really important

As a professor and scientist, one of the first things I emphasize to my students is that questions are more important than answers. The purpose of asking questions and performing experiments is not so much to get answers as to develop new and better questions to ask next time. I would like to address the recent spate of Reader's Forum letters on atheism versus religion from this perspective.

Rather than spend our time debating the question: "Does God exist," let's take a cue from Voltaire (who said "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him") and focus on the more open-ended question: "What is the nature of God"? We could debate whether God is built into the very fabric of the universe (as suggested by Spinoza and Einstein) versus whether God is a supernatural entity existing outside of the natural world (as espoused by the Christian and Moslem religions).

Most importantly, we should all keep in mind that, whatever God actually is, God is surely beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. We should take a cue from Judaism, which refers to God as 'G-d' as a reminder of the limited nature of human knowledge, remain humble in the face of "Big Questions," and not get too caught up with specific answers. The real danger here is that when we get too attached to particular answers, we stop asking questions. As Voltaire also said, "Judge a man by his questions, not his answers."

Stephen Christman
Sylvania Township

Odd New Creatures

As I was preparing some teaching information I came across the book at right with the two fish and Jesus and Darwin insided. Note the lower fish with leg buds.

A photo in our local newspaper led me to the article, More Than 100 New Species Discovered In Hawaiian Islands along with this curious photo of a yet-to be named crab.

Today's lesson is the classification of organisms into those familiar high school categories like kingdom, phylum, order.

I find it fascinating each time I read of something newly discovered in our world and I am eager to await yet new adventures around every corner.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Putin Slaps George Off His High Horse

"Don't mess with Iran," said the former KBG agent and black-belt president of Russia. Poor George, and they were such good friends back in Crawford before the war. Bush looked into Vladimir's ["I call him Vladimir"] soul and saw a good man.

Who has kept track of all of the former 'friends' of Bush who have fallen by the wayside, like a seed on rocky ground? Old Aussie Howard is getting his butt kicked down under, to name a recent casualty. They'll be leaving Iraq when the new guy gets in. That fading coalition, my my.

Condi didn't help matters to much for Bush when she held a meeting with Russian dissidents. She is as clueless as her boss. Putin put the proverbial screws to her with today's announcement.

Clueless people pretending to be world leaders. What a farce.

Lot and His Salty Wife: An Expose'

Genesis is such a fun book to explore: it's never a dull adventure as it has all of the elements of good story tellers in every verse and chapter.

Chapter 13 is quite interesting and I wish to explore it for political purposes. I wish to expose those crafty and devious fundamentalists who live in that far right wing of the GOP. I would hope that whoever debates the eventual GOP candidate, he or she will tell those fundamentalists to go to hell. Of course, it won't happen but it ought to because they are a clear and present danger to our democracy.

Chapter 13 is the story of Lot, Sodom/Gomorrah, incest, pedophilia, and degrading male sexual rape. Did I mention genocide? Fundamentalists love this chapter; they nearly gush with joy of telling their interpretation of the Lot story because, they think, it shames gays. What a joke.

Rather it tells the story of an angry god who annihilates every man, woman and child in a city regardless of their 'sin.' Group punishment psychiatrists would call it. Others,: genocide. God willed it, so it must be OK, spin the fundamentalists. 'God hates fags!' The signs of that crazed baptist families at military funerals.

Beyond the smear of homosexuality, fundamentalists rarely talk about the rest of Genesis 13. They don't mention Lot's invitation of pedophilia when he offers two strangers his two virgin daughters to romp with in the sack. Nor do they mention Lot's incestuous intercourse with his daughters, resulting in two children. 2Peter 2 says 'Lot is a righteous man surrounded by wickedness.' Oh really? The children made him 'do it?'

That wickedness, by the way, probably referred to stinginess, lack of compassion and inhospitality by the residents of Sodom who were isolates and did not want strangers in their village. No doubt, Sodomites also committed the sins of pride, hypocrisy, gossip, and a judgmental spirit. In those days, one of the best ways of insulting another man was to rape him. Apparently this was a custom practiced by some residents of the city. 'Strangers Beware!' must have been the warning that this practice enforced.

One wonders why Mrs. Lot was salted. No surprise that it was a woman. Did she 'look back' in compassion for the children of the city who, like the children in Hiroshima, were being vaporized? Or was the inference that she was a nosy woman who couldn't help her pitiful feminine characteristics?

All of the GOP candidates are presently pandering to the fundamentalist Christians in the basement of their party. The Democratic candidates ought to point out how dangerous that pander really is. No group of Constitution shredders, who would want to establish a theocracy in America, deserves to be culled by a candidate for president. Never.

Living an Entire Year as a Bible Literalist

Who would want to? Apparently A.J. Jacobs. He has penned the book, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. Hard to imagine what all of that entailed.

Did he smite his enemies? Beat his children? Stone adulterers?

Odd stuff, but then, these are but a few of the challenges one might face in attempting to follow the rules and regulations in that book. No doubt his wife was made to feel a 3rd class citizen [cattle are 2nd class]. I wonder if he was offered any virgin daughters to 'do with them what you will'? Surely he had to have his wife sleep elsewhere for 5 days out of every month. In fact, he couldn't touch her during menstruation.

Reviews of the book say that it is filled with humor. I bet it is, although the real folks who had to suffer through all of these oddities of Jewish life lo those millenia ago might not have found it so funny. I note that he even visited that odd monolith built deep in the Kentucky wilderness, the so-called Creation Museum.

Although many will laugh along with Jacobs, it is no laughing matter to Fundamentalists. In fact, it is no laughing matter to me, either, because I know that these fundamentalists take every word of this old history book as literally as Jacobs attempted to live it.

Even more frightening: they want to foist that on our nation. Not only do they want to, they are actively working for that end, attempting to cull more and more congressmen and state legislators to 'see it their way.' Scary. Very scary people, working to undermine the Constitution.

And they all look so all-American, so clean, so patriotic.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Answer is: Fascism

The question: Why does Halliburton and Blackwater seem to get away with theft and murder?

Le Nouvel Observateur, A New Halliburton-Style Scandal? asks the question, " How is it that private companies like Blackwater operate in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsewhere?"

It's all a ruse. The shell game. A carny huckster's dream. The presidency of George W. Bush.

Did anyone actually think that these past 7 years was anything other than an elegant scam of our resources, our Treasury, and our Constitution?

If not, I'm the dumbest man in Ohio.

Al-Qaeda 'Defeated' in Iraq: Time to Pack Up and Go Home

I forget which excuse number that was [perhaps #3] but since they have been 'defeated' then it really is a civil war and we ought not be fighting their civil war.

Sorry about the logic. I didn't mean to get your hopes up. Silly me. How rude of me to use logical thinking about the Bush War in Iraq.

Here's the news from the Washington Post : The U.S. military says it has dealt devastating and potentially irreversible blows to Al Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.

Seems we've been given the green light; the door has swung open. RUN LIKE HELL!

Not so fast. Let's think about some more excuses for staying there, not just this one"

• we can't cut and run because we will look like losers, just like Vietnam
• if we leave now, all those brave soldiers will have died for nothing
• we have to guard our 'strategic interests' in the area
• Halliburton's profits will decline sharply
• we haven't established a democracy there yet
• Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will laugh at George Bush

Let us not forget about those massive military bases our tax dollars have financed in Iraq; WE can't give up OUR bases to THEM.

So, sorry for the prank about us leaving Iraq any time soon. Looks as if we may be annexing it as one of our off-shore U.S. Territories.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ms. Rice Ought to Clean Her Own House First

YahooNews has the article, Rice pledges support to Russian activists, which details Sec. of State Rice's 'needle-in-the-side' diplomacy while in Mr. Putin's country. She told Russian human rights activists on Saturday she wanted to help them build institutions to protect people from the 'arbitrary power of the state'. "I think that there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin," she later told reporters.

Oh, is that so? Interestingly, many members of our own Congress have similar fears with the current occupant of the White House. I wonder if warranties wiretapping of citizens is in the same category as 'arbitrary power of the state'?

Tatyana Lokshina, head of the Demos civil rights group, said to Ms. Rice, "the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay and allegations of abuse at the U.S.-run Abu-Ghraib prison in Iraq had dented Washington's authority on human rights." Indeed it has.

Which prompted the title of this post.

Are you entitled to your own truth?

One interesting article in Reason Magazine is, The Culture War on Facts, by Ronald Bailey. Its subtitle, Are you entitled to your own truth? poses a most interesting challenge to folks who wish to back up their arguments with 'truth.' What is Truth? That perennial question is particularly important in these times, especially here in America where the truth is commonly hidden, misconstrued, or spun.

There is no more pressing or transparent example of What is Truth? than the current situation our nation faces in the Bush War scenario. Several spinners of the truth in this playbook have left the public stage in shame, the most glaring loss that of General Colin Powell. questioned the testimony of General Petraeus before he opened his mouth, no doubt a blowback of this very question of truth.

A quick summary of the data found in the study which led to the article by Mr. Bailey is this:

The chief aim of the Yale Cultural Cognition Project is to show how cultural values shape the public's risk perceptions and related policy beliefs. Project scholars define "cultural cognition" as "the tendency of individuals to conform their beliefs about disputed matters of fact to values that define their cultural identities." Their research found that cultural identity values "exert substantially more influence over risk perceptions than does any other individual characteristic, including gender, race, socioeconomic status, education, political ideology and party affiliation."

Although this study focused on 'cultural cognition,' I find it helpful in attempting to understand why some Americans [actually quite a lot of Americans] were, in the words of Emerson, roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, at the beginning of the Bush War on Iraq. My wife and I were victims of this 'roaring' as we raised our voices in opposition to the rush to war, only to be shouted down, cursed, and spat upon by folks who were blinded by Patriotism.

Today, this roar has gone hoarse. Citizens holding signs at street corners these days are greeted by friendly honks of horns and high-fives, quite different from the 'greeting' they received four years ago. The line above, the tendency of individuals to conform their beliefs about disputed matters of fact to values that define their cultural identities, is of paramount importance in examining this shift of 'support' for the Bush War. What defines the 'cultural identities' now in late 2007 that was not defined in early 2003?

I suggest that it might be described as 'tribal revenge tendencies.' Anthropologists talk of the strength of tribalism which still exists deep in our 21st century psyche. That 9-11 attack on America galvanized and switched on our common need for tribal revenge. We were those people described so succinctly by Emerson. Interestingly, it is this same tribalism that is causing such difficulties for the Bush Administration in Iraq. But that is his problem to deal with.

It is my hope, perhaps my obsession, to continually remind others of the need to confront these ancient instincts buried deep in our primitive brain. Not only confront but examine. As a society we ought not repeat that communal anger and subsequent thirst for blood that was clearly displayed in the days and months after 9-11. Of course, we were instructed just days after this tragedy by President Bush himself, standing at the rubble, bullhorn in hand, to ferret out and punish those responsible for the heinous act.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bush could not do that. It was like the proverbial needle in the haystack. Even after destroying most of the haystack, bin Laden was still elusive, mocking him. Bush was almost immediately advised to use Saddam as a scapegoat by the cunning neocons among his advisers. The naive president eagerly accepted the substitute plan. The propaganda machine was switched on and the revenge motif spread rapidly throughout the nation. My wife and I were some of its earliest targets.

The Reason Magazine article focused on so-called cultural issues like the death penalty, abortion, gay rights, the minimum wage, school choice, nuclear power, public health, gun control, climate change, the propriety of Christmas crèches in town squares, and affirmative action. Clearly each of these issues are emotionally charged. Yet few Americans would classify 'patriotism' as a cultural issue, yet it is the most basic, oldest cultural instinct we humans possess. We need only page through our world history books to see example after example of cultural revenge meted out time after time.

Because many in the current administration have begun a new set of attempts to preemptively attack Iran, it would be wise for our citizens to remember what happened four years ago when they mindlessly followed both their vengeful instincts and the propaganda fed to them. Hopefully the maxim, once bit twice shy, will ameliorate their reactions. Yet, revenge is a powerful and ancient human emotional instinct. Nonetheless, if our society does not reflect correctly, we will have 'to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart.'

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