Saturday, July 26, 2008

There Must be Lots of Room in Heaven

A few days ago my wife and I drove to 'the middle of nowhere' to visit some long-time friends. They live in Huron County, Ohio far from the lights of the city. In fact, we are always stunned at the silence of their old farm when we open the car door. During the visit I count the number of vehicles that pass the house and seldom do I have to use my other hand during the count.

During one part of the discussion the word 'hypocrite' arose in reference to 'good Christians.' Our hosts were detailing some odd actions of some of the people they know, good Christians, and the word hypocrite slipped easily for their tongues. "There must be lots of room in Heaven," the retired construction worker said to me, smile on his leathery face. He generally is a man of few but important words. German farm background.

During our infrequent get-togethers the conversation often turns to 'church' with not unexpected bitterness. All four of us know the corruption of 'the church' and the farce that this implies. Although we four are Christian, we are not 'churchy' folks by any means. The lessons of the Beatitudes are sufficient for our faith inquiries.

I brought along for the ride Eckhart Tolle's book, A New Earth. I had already oddly read the last two chapters and began to read where most people do. He uses a marvelous analogy of the flower as an example of his often used term, the awakened consciousness. He says that the flower is the awakened consciousness of the plant. Rather deep. Later he argues that a diamond is the awakened consciousness of coal. The bird is the awakened consciousness of the ancestral lizard. The flower, he goes on, was the first non-utilitarian plant to be 'raised' by early human beings- beings with awakened consciousness.

I brought the 'awakened consciousness' phrase to the conversation that afternoon in reference to 'the church' topic and specifically the 'church people.' The four of us, it seemed, have transcended the past, the ordinary, the usual blather of our growing-up years. We no longer hold as treasure those stories, those 'thuths' we memorized in religion classes. We had freed ourselves from the bonds of earth just as the bird had in evolutionary history. To continue with the metaphors, we have now flowered and can see the diamond hidden inside the coal.

From a new height, a new consciousness, we are able to watch the bickering, blathering hypocrites and know that that is not the Way. The four of us, so different in our experiential lives, have found a common awakening - an awakening that alerts us to something higher in life, something more ethereal, yet to be defined, if that is possible. At least we know where we don't belong.

Synchronicity is at work this morning: I checked my Sitemeter to see why people had found my blog [a curious passion of mine] and found a Google search with the words 'inside the fundamentalist christian home' searched by someone in Bristol, Virginia. I found the 8th of 10 hits in that search to be The Naked Emperor: My Journey From Fundamentalist Christian to Atheist. Read his story, if you care, but apparently he had an awakening of consciousness somewhere between Bible College and his renouncement of God.

I have not read his blog. Only the front page. I wonder, though, if the term, 'hypocrite' is often used, although the word itself is not necessary. What matters is simply an elevated consciousness that transcends the present and asks, 'why?' 'Why?' questions are not often fully answered by those whose feet are wading in the religious pools.

Flowers, diamonds and birds. What was that poster that hung in my classroom for many years? Something about 'Some look at things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?'

Bulldozer as WMD?

The highly-charged news of a Palestinian driving a bulldozer as a weapon lights up the TV news like a flashbulb from those old cameras. In fact, every attack on an Israeli receives much more attention than the other way around. Obviously the Israeli lobby is larger than the Arab one.

Apparently the life of a Palestinian is worth less than that of an Israeli. Odd how every society has their repressed minority group whose lives are not as valuable as the majority ethnic group. The shocking meeting of Jesus and 'that Samaritan woman' at the well was an abomination to the Jews of his time. It seems that historically, as one reads the Bible, the Jewish people are often at odds with their neighbors: Hittites, Egyptians, Assyrians to name a few I remember.

Yesterday, the Israeli paper Haaretz offered an interesting historical look at the Caterpillar Wars of the Palestinians and the Israelis. Author Gideon Levy reports that Israel is the hands-down winner of this battle of destruction. He writes, "The claim that terror has adopted an original new weapon, a "new fashion" as the public security minister put it, once again shows how convenient it is for us to present a one-sided and distorted picture." He refers to the 2nd incident of a Palestinian wielding a bulldozer as a WMD.

It is heartening to know that this author, this newspaper, can present a non-biased look at the Jewish state and present both sides of the argument. Here in America, we seldom get the Palestinian side of the story. Deaths of Israelis receive large columns and photos whereas Palestinian deaths barely get print space.

The brave author goes on to write:

" Let us forget for a moment the 416 villages Israel wiped off the face of the earth in 1948 - that was before there were D9 bulldozers - and focus on a more modern fashion. In Israel's hands the bulldozer has become one of the most terrifying weapons in the territories. The only difference between the Palestinians' murderous bulldozer and the Israeli bulldozer is in color and size. As usual, ours is bigger, much bigger. There is no similarity between the small backhoe the Palestinian terrorist was driving and the fearsome D9 driven by Israel Defense Forces soldiers."

The concluding paragraph of this piece speaks loudly:

"The Palestinians discovered the bulldozer quite late. What is good for us is good for them. And how do our security experts propose to fight the new fashion? By demolishing the houses of the terrorists. With bulldozers, of course."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bush's Red States All High on Obesity List

There is another list of 'red' states- those whose citizens are classified as obese. Not surprisingly, at least to me, is the fact that the top ten are solid Bush-McCain states. Well 'solid' may be a poor choice of words. Apparently these folks are eating themselves to death.

The top ten are:

1. Mississippi, 32.0 percent
2. Alabama, 30.3
3. Tennessee, 30.1
4. Louisiana, 29.8
5. West Virginia, 29.5
6. Arkansas, 28.7
7. South Carolina, 28.4
8. Georgia, 28.2
9. Oklahoma, 28.1
10. Texas, 28.1

The survey found that one factor influencing the obesity rates was educational levels. For example, for men, obesity prevalence was lowest among college graduates (22.1 percent) and highest among those with some college (29.6 percent) and high school diploma (29.1 percent). For women, obesity prevalence was lowest among college graduates (17.9 percent) and highest among those with less than a high school diploma (32.6 percent).

Of course, that surely correlates with economic levels thus indicating that poorer folks eat more fatty foods and carbohydrates.

Yet what is the political implications of this survey? Is there a 1 to 1 correlation between obesity and the political landscape? Many will recall Thomas Frank's book, What's the Matter with Kansas? Frank wonders why the state of Kansas is so dark red on the political map yet its citizens do not share in the wealth nor opportunities of the Republican 'dream.'

Frank notes how the Republican Party has bamboozled Kansans with abortion, school prayer and flag-waving to obscure their economic misery. The folks in Kansas fall for this ruse November after November. Perhaps Frank is working on a new book: What the Matter with the South? They, too, have been equally bamboozled with an added race trump card added to the raw deal.

Is it possible to compare political savvy with obesity rates here in America? I'm not sure how valid that is, yet one has to wonder how deep political propaganda penetrates the electorate. Any political science ABD's want to tackle this theory?

Bush Gulag Interrogators Given Carte Blanch

"In good faith" is quite the vague term and no doubt holds little water in a court of law. Yet those three words are the hinge pin upon which the fate of the Guantanamo prison interrogator's future depends. Law suits could jeopardize the future of these interrogators because of the vague terminology used by the Bush Administration shortly after the Guantanamo gulag was opened.

The Washington Times reports today:

The Justice Department in 2002 told the CIA that its interrogators would be safe from prosecution for violations of torture laws if they believed "in good faith" that harsh techniques used to break prisoners' will would not cause "prolonged mental harm."
That heavily censored memo, released Thursday, approved the CIA's interrogation techniques method by method but warned that if the circumstances changed, interrogators could be running afoul of laws against torture.

The Aug. 1, 2002, legal opinion signed by then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee was issued the same day that he wrote a memo for then-White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales defining torture as only those "extreme acts" that cause pain similar in intensity to that caused by death or organ failure.


Clearly this is one more piece of evidence that the Bush Administration had no concept of the future ramifications of its torture policy and/or didn't worry about the interrogator's future legal liability. It also is one more example of the rag-tag government assembled by the Bush Administration. Katrina opened that door for all to see.

Time after time this administration has failed to protect the citizens of this nation- a clear revocation of the pledge of office taken by Bush and Cheney. They have participated in the wrecking of this nation due to their incompetence of governance. Does the average Joe and Jane realize this fact yet? They ought to when they open their wallets, when they watch the Iraq and Afghanistan war news. Clearly the people of New Orleans as well as the residents of New York City dearly understand the incompetence.

Yet conservative pundits, clearly in the death-throes, ask us not to judge the Bush-Cheney administration too harshly: maybe some years from now historians will be kind to them. Clicking ruby slippers. Sorry, pals, it was a mess from day one. No, not a 'mess,' but rather a crime. A crime against humanity both to its own citizens as well to many world citizens. Crimes of aggression and omission: of what they did and what they failed to do.

Beyond the monumental transfer of wealth upwards from those in the middle to the top tier, beyond the trillions of dollars in bank notes, and beyond the ruined dreams of home ownership, lie the graves of 4,000 of our military men and women asked to fight a specious and ill conceived preemptive war of diversion. Yet perhaps those are more lucky than the 20-year-old returning veterans who will suffer the rest of their lives with amputations, disfigured faces, and traumatic brain injury. Their living hell will haunt George Bush an Dick Cheney the rest of their lives.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Next American Revolution- Detroit: Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs, age 93, is a Detroit activist, writer and speaker whose more than sixty years of political involvement encompass the major U.S. social movements of this century: Labor, Civil rights, Black Power, Asian American, Women's and Environmental Justice.

The Boggs Center website details the vision and programs that have resulted from Dr. Boggs' determination to make Detroit and all of America a better place in which to live. Her autobiography, LIVING FOR CHANGE, , is widely used in university classes on social movements. In 2004, she helped organize the Beloved Communities Project, "an initiative begun to identify, explore and form a network of communities committed to and practicing the profound pursuit of justice, radical inclusivity, democratic governance, health and wholeness, and social / individual transformation.

Back in 1975, Dr. Boggs compared the two types of civil uprisings:

"Rebellions tend to be negative, to denounce and expose the enemy without providing a positive vision of a new future...A revolution is not just for the purpose of correcting past injustices, a revolution involves a projection of man/woman into the future...It begins with projecting the notion of a more human human being, i.e. a human being who is more advanced in the specific qualities which only human beings have - creativity, consciousness and self-consciousness, a sense of political and social responsibility."

Olga Bonfiglio, a professor at Kalamazoo College where she teaches a class in urban revitalization, wrote an article for Common Dreams referencing Dr. Boffs titled, You Say You Want a Revolution? She quotes Dr. Boggs:

"We are at a stage in human history that is as monumental as changing from a hunter/gatherer society to an agricultural society and from an agricultural society to and industrial society. Where we’re headed now will be different because we have exhausted planetary space and human space for us to continue to look at things through the Cartesian measurement of material things.”

Grace Boggs said that the turning point occurred in 1999 when protesters’ demonstrations effectively closed the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting held in Seattle. A worldwide movement was kicked off to challenge the rapacious global economy that was shifting the labor market to the lowest bidder in a kind of race to the bottom.

“We usually think of revolution as violence,” said Grace. “However, revolution is more about envisioning what is possible when it appears that things are changing.” She believes that Detroit, in particular, is fertile ground for this next revolution because it is such a devastated city.

I wonder what she has in mind regarding the city of Detroit? I would be most interested in seeing her plans because I lived in Detroit for 6 years during my college years and feel a natural pull to the empty hulk of a city. She says that Detroit has 70,000 vacant lots where neighborhoods and commercial properties once stood. And although the city looks like it has been bombed, Grace sees a silver lining: the city no longer has to adhere to the usual capitalist mantra of growth and expansion because it is absolutely clear that the industrial system is finished. This fact allows citizens to respond by starting something new all over again.

The Bonfiglio article continues:

This revolution urges citizens not to stand around and wait for leaders to initiate needed changes. Instead, individuals are learning that they can enlist others to help them rebuild their communities. Interestingly, it’s the young who are especially stepping up to this challenge through local service programs, college projects, and the creation of small businesses and organizations.

“We have the opportunity to take a great leap forward in these very challenging times,” said Grace. “We need to change our institutions and ourselves. We need to seize opportunities. We need to launch our imaginations beyond the thinking of the past. We need to discern who we are and expand on our humanness and sacredness. That’s how we change the world, which happens because WE will be the change.”

Yes We do; We the People. Boggs seems like a libertarian without all of the hate that is usually associated with that end of the political spectrum. Or an anarchist. But what the hell, the politics doesn't matter when progress for the people is the end result.

You go girl!

Bill Moyers interview with Dr. Boggs LINK

"Ich bin kein Berliner!"

Barack Obama will speak today in Berlin's Tiergarten which is a grand venue in which to introduce himself to the German people and the Europeans. Surely he will avoid any language problems by speaking English. Kennedy's reference to the jelly doughnut is memorable. I hope that he takes off his American flag pin too. That pin works well in West Virginia but the German folk don't take kindly to patriotic bluster like that. Those NAZI flags, ribbons and swastikas did them in.

Back here in the states, grumpy John McCain is still fuming at all of the media attention his opponent is receiving during this trip. I wonder how voters look upon a whining man of 71? Even his voice has become whiny. And that statement about Obama 'losing the war' to gain the White House must be a classic. McCain bet on the wrong horse back in 2003 and now wants to blame others for its results.

Blaming is a big thing on the right side of the political spectrum. Some are still trying to pin 9-11 on Bill Clinton. No doubt some even think the recession is the fault of the Democrats. They like to blame 'The Left' for all of the social ills of this nation because they think 'those people' are communists and 'hate America.' The 'hate America crowd!'

Odd that grown men take to blaming everybody else for their own miserable lives. I gave up blaming back in high school when I left my adolescent stage of life. If often wonder if some of these men never left adolescence behind. To them there is always an 'enemy' to fight, to whine about, to condemn. They surely must have low self-esteem to need to find fault with an entire group of people. They must think that walking on top of others raises themselves to new heights.

Well, enjoy your Berliner while listening to a real mature adult male representing We the People.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Obama Opens Fall Headquarters in Toledo

Thursday July 24th at 5 PM is the grand opening of the Obama for President Headquarters in Toledo. Located at 44 S. St. Clair St. at the intersection of Lafayette just south of the 5th3rd Mudhens Stadium.


• From the Ohio Turnpike 90/80 Exit 64 to I 75N to Exit 201B to Washington right to St. Clair right.

• From I 75 N Exit 202A to Washington right to St. Clair, right.

German Engineering Vehicle- Not in Toledo

It is called the Loremo- a new German concept automobile that reportedly gets 160 mpg. The official website calls the car 'simple, clever, fun.' What is not fun at all for the residents of Toledo Ohio are the Toledo-built Chrysler SUV's bombs like the Dodge Nitro and the Jeep Liberty. The plant laid off 2200 workers due to low demand for the gas-guzzling behemoths. The reduction was part of 10,000 job cuts and other cuts made nationally by Chrysler.

Why do I link the German Loremo with Toledo's Chrysler plant? Because Daimler, the German auto giant, used to be partners with Chrysler and were part of the Daimler-Chrysler building project for the assembly plant. Daimler abandoned the partnership in May 2007 after a 10-year marriage. Their stock-holders demanded a pound of flesh. Sadly for Toledo, Chrysler 'engineering' remains myopic as usual and Toledo was dealt the dirty hand and the outdated SUV's.

Imagine if the Loremo had been in production in Toledo. Wow! But the 'what ifs' lie on the production line floor and the workers are at home wondering what is in store for the rest of their lives. Vision is not high on the list of American automobile engineering requirements.

"The Loremo [Lo Resistance Mobile] concentrates on the essentials: Using standard materials and technologies and putting them together in a revolutionary new package, saving weight and air resistance without compromising on passenger protection. On top of that, you get an excellent design and a sensational gallon mileage in an affordable car that is pure fun to drive."

They have, naturally, designed the car with air resistance in mind, and it boasts an aerodynamic drag of 0.22; large SUVs are around 0.45. The engine is a 2 cylinder Turbo diesel, and can bring the car to speeds up to 160 km/h (100 mph), or 200 km/h (125 mph) for the sportier GT model.

Production begins in 2009 and prices are being listed as $22,500 for the basic model and $30,000 for the GT. They are also experimenting with an electric version, the E-Loremo, which features a 20KW electric engine, with short-term bursts of 40kw possible. The company says the car ought to consume 6kwh/100km, about the same as 0.6 liters of diesel fuel, and reach a top speed of around 170 kph (105 mph, for us non-metric folk). Loremo is looking to put around 93 to 124 miles of range into every charge.

Cry with me, Toledo, and watch yet another factory go down the drain. Just think, however, what a little bit of visionary thinking could have meant to this city and to Ohio.

My Right-wing Summer Camp Experience

Tom Teepen, Cox News Service, penned an interesting article yesterday titled, "Ranters who think Obama is a socialist need a little political sobriety" Interesting use of the term now that George Bush's "Wall Street got drunk" video appeared yesterday on YouTube. And he ought to know. As an aside, he also ought to have known how to step in and intervene more than a year ago as a President is mandated to do, but then, he never was much for intellectual pursuits.

It's always a hoot when I look at The Right; dark humor for sure, but aways a place to get a good laugh. Odd though, they generally are a humorless lot unless, of course, they are tearing down a Leftie. Quixotic.

Mainstream America, I would imagine, would have difficulty pinning the tail on the donkey if the tail were to be placed on the left-right political spectrum. Odd, though, The Right always knows where to 'pin' the Lefties: just to the left of Goldwater.

Teepen begins, "Barack Obama is a socialist! But you already knew that if you listen to any of the right-wing radio ranters or fall in with many of the blogging demagogues who trade in hysteria."
Oh lord, do they! I spent 6 long weeks with them- a Right-Wing Summer Camp- and it is great to breathe fresh air once again. I now appreciate more than ever how green and blue the world really is. I ended my self-imposed Summer Camp yesterday [right-wing radio message board]after I received a 'warning' from the stealth webmaster and it was none-too-soon either. My thanks to Mr. Stealth for the escape hatch key. Wow, the silence of nature is overwhelming.

After hosing down the hysterical Right with a few historical facts , Teepen continues: "The high point of socialism here was the 1920 presidential election in which the Socialist Party candidate, Eugene Debs, logged 915,000 votes — enough to usefully scare the political elites into a number of social reforms. Liberalism, you see, wasn't socialism, as you sometimes hear now; it was the counter to it." Naturally The Right cannot see any difference and so it continues the noise-making blather- anything to help them blame others for their personal sad state of affairs.

The angry white guy who is a sponge for propaganda morphs into a mindless robot reciting bumper sticker phrases as wisdom. They are out there, for sure, they are angry and they do vote. Central Pennsylvania, southern Ohio and West Virginia are where they live up North. And, of course, in the suburbs of the metropolitan areas. Everywhere there are windmill giants to destroy! The fools, but then, there is no poll test for intelligence.

I'm enjoying the cool temps and bright blue skies this morning and the songs of the birds through the open window above my computer. As I look out, all of the windmills are gone- slain by the righteous rusting knight. Ironically, the windmill as a 'new' source of energy, is only one more 'leftist' prank served up by the communists all around us.

As I said, there is a never-ending source of dark humor when a clutch of right-wingers begin to babble.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Where Was T. Boone Pickens in 1978?

His face has been on TV spots for some days now and today he was on Capitol Hill. The oilman turned a shade of brownish-green. The New York Times notes that he helped underwrite and made no apologies for the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry. He's not a saint. Rather, he's drilled the hell out of the earth, sucking millions of barrels of crude and countless billions of dollars with it.

Now, apparently, he's had an epiphany. Here in 2008 at the age of 80 Pickens must be thinking about the after-life and just what he is going to say to St. Peter at them pearly gates. Today he said to Congress that it is 'absolute madness — financially and in terms of national security — to be spending $700 billion every year on imported oil produced in volatile and in some cases hostile countries.' CAt last comes the light, albeit on a slow train. Very slow.

Jimmy Carter turned down the thermostats at the White House and put on a sweater in 1978 as an example of the dangers of depending on imported foreign oil. Right-wingers and conservatives chided him about that and drove him from the White House, sweater and all.

They always seem to be slow on the draw- the conservatives and their loony right flank. In fact, many still deny global warming and evolution, yet think the Bible is the inerrant word of God. It is always a hoot when peeking in on that gaggle.

So, with the help of his name and his billions, Mr. Pickens declares what many of us already knew decades ago: carbon addiction is killing us. But wait! Not ALL carbon and not methane/propane because the use of natural gas is one of the pillars of his new proposal. Many have noted that Iran sits atop the largest bubble of that gas and so one cannot overlook a possible preemptive war with this Axis of Evil member to recover 'our' gas.

All in all, it is a fascinatingly convoluted story that might make a good theme for a sit-com this fall. John McCain will be cast as the younger Pickens crying, "DRILL! DRILL!" in every scene. I'll let your imagination figure out the rest of the cast. It should serve as a diversion for the couch potatoes who want to be entertained during the election season. Pass the Doritos.

Funny stuff. Always a hoot on the right side.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Snookered McCain Whine Boomerangs

Did ya see the latest McCain TV spot? It was quickly put together to 'counter' the Obama visit to Afghanistan and Iraq. In the ad, McCain whines about the visit as 'purely political.' Didn't the earlier McCain ad slap Obama for not going to Iraq?

The ad also whines about Obama's seat on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations- that he hasn't proposed anything about Afghanistan, that "he never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan." Unfortunately, according to ABC News, John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Service Committee, has attended zero of his committee's six hearings on Afghanistan over the last two years.

The McCain folks ought to have researched it a bit better before assembling the commercial. Or do they think that the American voter is still dumbed-down?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Iraq Leader Maliki Supports Obama's Withdrawal Plans

Iraq Leader Maliki Supports Obama's Withdrawal Plans is the front page article on Der Spiegel this morning. Can you imagine that? Nouri al Maliki wants us to leave Iraq and send our troops back home. I bet that Cheney, Bush and McCain are angry today with that statement. After all, look at what we 'did' for the Iraqis!

In fact, some folks on the far-right have their panties all in a knot this morning, bitching and complaining that the Iraqis are ungrateful for all of the hard work and money we spent on 'bringing freedom' to them. Yet, fish from the Tigris smell after three days too. So do uninvited guests.

I note the brand new spin word quickly developed by the Bush speech writers this weekend: time horizon. Isn't that cute! "We do not believe in a time line for withdrawl..." was repeated ad nauseum by Bush, rice and Cheney. But they can use the nuanced term, time horizon, because, after all, is isn't a time line. Ha! The boobs.

So it seems that Dick, George, Condi and Donald get a slap in the face by those 'ungrateful' Iraqis who want us to leave. And without 'our' oil! I'll bet that these four dead-enders won't want to 'help' out very many more nations during the rest of their term in office.

Were it not for the 4000 dead and 30,000 seriously wounded service members this might have been a humorous story. Rather, it continues to be a dark tragedy, a nightmare for the families of our servicemen and women.

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