Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

Recall that discredited Vice President of Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew? I think he drank vinegar for breakfast. He resigned the office because of charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy. Agnew has the dubious distinction of being the only Vice President in U.S. history to resign because of criminal charges.

He had a venomous tongue towards his 'enemies' and would roll off phrases like "nattering nabobs of negativism" and "pusillanimous pussyfooters." I'm thinking that perhaps Spiro has been incarnated recently and now lives in the souls of the right-wingers of the GOP.

Speaking of which...I note that they are convening this week in DC- the whole scary lot of them. No doubt they are proclaiming pompous platitudes of righteousness just as their former hero Agnew. Surely they and only they know what is best for America.

Might i suggest yet another Agnew-ism for the angry knot: "hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history".

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Gap Widens

Yes v. No. Progression v. Regression. Universality v. Exclusivity. Hope v. Fear. Pro-government v. Anti-government. Generosity v. Narcissism.

It becomes more apparent with each passing day that the divide between the Democrats versus those the Republican is widening each day, much like an earthquake fault line. The contrast between speeches last evening of President Obama and Governor Jindal was stark. The commentators on MSNBC last evening wondered, after hearing the President's speech, what Jindal would say; one suggested that he just say, 'No!' And, essentially, he did.

Today's GOP has become the party of 'No' and negativity along with bitter righteousness. House of Representative members especially have been distilled to their acerbic essence, settled permanently in safe seats in ultra right-wing districts. They have no worry about being re-elected over and over again and, as such, see no need to compromise on issues. They are ideologically cemented in their right-wing philosophy and see no need to be bipartisan and/or to work for the common good. They are obstructionist ideologues.

Fortunately, they hold only 181 seats in the HR, while the Democrats hold 254, which keeps the GOP in the minority perhaps for several years to come. The three moderate Republicans in the Senate have allowed that body to move bills through the 60-vote majority ruling that has become the rite-of-passage in that body. These senators, Collins, Snowe and Specter, have been denounced by the far-right as RINOS, Republicans in name only. Limbaugh suggests to his dittohead readers that these three be expelled from 'their' party. There is no room in the inn for Republicans not sitting on the far-right end of the spectrum.

Such is the current state of affairs in the American government and the GOP. America has moved to the center in its political thinking, leaving these ideologues to grumble and gravel in the past. Perhaps the GOP will succumb to the fate of the dinosaurs. While many would rejoice at this, a dynamic democracy cannot function with one-party rule.

Rising from the Ashes

Ash Wednesday again and millions of Christians will receive an ashen imprint on their foreheads, purportedly to remind them that, in some distant time, their entity will be the same. 'Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return' -Genesis. Great symbolism which still permeates many Christian traditions. Job says to God: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Poor Job, forever in the state of supplication.

I am reminded of this phrase regarding ashes: 'Out of the ashes rises the Phoenix.' The mythology argues that the phoenix is a bird with brightly colored plumage, which, after a long life, dies in a fire of its own making only to rise again from the ashes. The Persians, Greek and Egyptians all included the Phoenix in its mythology. The most universal characteristic in all three cultures is the bird's ability to resurrect. Living a long life (the exact age can vary from five hundred to over a thousand years), the bird dies in a self-created fire, burning into a pile of ashes, from which a phoenix chick is born, representing a cyclical process of life from death. Because it is reborn from its own death, the phoenix also took on the characteristics of regeneration and immortality.

Not only that, but other interesting Jesus-related facts are often part of the myth such as this: when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices. Apparently, no gold. Further, the myth states that, when the young bird has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent, and bearing these it passes from the land of Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis. What was that passage in Luke about the family of Jesus fleeing to Egypt?

Not only were there subtle connections between the Phoenix and Jesus, but overt ones as well. One of the Early Catholic Church Fathers, Clement, wrote in The First Epistle of Clement:

"Let us consider that wonderful sign [of the resurrection] which takes place in Eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phoenix. This is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent, and bearing these it passes from the land of Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis. And, in open day, flying in the sight of all men, it places them on the altar of the sun, and having done this, hastens back to its former abode. The priests then inspect the registers of the dates, and find that it has returned exactly as the five hundredth year was completed."

Apparently Clement's schooling had included this Phoenix mythology. Life, death and resurrection- an eternal theme throughout the ages.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras Parade Through Congress Tonight

Why not? After all, it is Mardi Gras and all of the Senators and House members will be present to listen to President Obama's assessment of the mess he found on the doorstep of the White House in late January, courtesy of the previous occupant and Congress.

What a hoot! All sorts of weird people in costume, strange music, and odd gyrations moving down center aisle would be just what these lawmakers need to see. It might just shake them up and knock them off of their high horses and ivory towers!

Here's a interesting question: will we citizens be able to distinguish the foolishness of the Mardi Gras performers from that of the Congress?

Monday, February 23, 2009

God Without God

Author Michael Hampson says of his book:

"God without God sets out to explore what happens to the western spiritual tradition when the God of presumptive monotheism - the wrathful king- is removed.  Far from being destroyed or diminished, it flourishes in its liberation.  It emerges from its captivity as an egalitarian humanistic spirituality that challenges and defies all earthly powers in its celebration of the realm of the spirit, the realm of the divine."

Two Bethlehems

The Naked Archaeologist on the History International channel presented a program recently that suggested that the Bethlehem of tradition might be the wrong Bethlehem as the birth place of Jesus. Bethlehem of Galilee is now suspected to be the birth site rather than Bethlehem of Judea. The Galilean Bethlehem is only 6 miles from Nazareth, the home of Joseph and Mary.

What's wrong with this Bethlehem? Well, the Old Testament prophets had predicted the Savior would be born in Bethlehem of Judea. That would preclude the Messiah from being born in Galilee.

So, was there a cover-up by the early Christians? Quite the historical mystery seems to be unfolding ever since Aviram Oshri, a senior archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, began digging in 1990. He said,

"I had never before questioned the assumption that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. But in the early 1990s, as an archaeologist working for the IAA, I was contracted to perform some salvage excavations around building and infrastructure projects in a small rural community in the Galilee. When I started work, some of the people who lived around the site told me how Jesus was really born there, not in the south. Intrigued, I researched the archaeological evidence for Bethlehem in Judea at the time of Jesus and found nothing. This was very surprising, as Herodian remains should be the first thing one should find. What was even more surprising is what archaeologists had already uncovered and what I was to discover over the next 11 years of excavation at the small rural site--Bethlehem of Galilee."

An article on the website from 2005 says:

But while Luke and Matthew describe Bethlehem in Judea as the birthplace of Jesus, "Menorah," the vast database of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), describes Bethlehem as an "ancient site" with Iron Age material and the fourth-century Church of the Nativity and associated Byzantine and medieval buildings. But there is a complete absence of information for antiquities from the Herodian period--that is, from the time around the birth of Jesus.

Hmmm. An absence of information. Of course we already know that the birth story of Jesus has been worked and re-worked many times, adding and subtracting 'data' to make it mesh with the prophecies.

Oshri doesn't mince words; he says:

"It is possible that, because of the hostility the Jews had toward Christians in this period, the residents of Bethlehem of Galilee fortified the site which they held to be the birthplace of the Christian Messiah."

But at some point in history, all traces linking the Galilee site to the Nativity disappeared.

"They did not die out; they were killed off, deliberately" Oshri told Sky News, suggesting a reason for the cover-up of sorts.

Murder as a cover-up? Worse than Watergate! suggests that the 6 mile Bethlehem makes more sense especially for a 9-month pregnant woman on a donkey. They say:

"The status of a woman in 1st century Palestine was only slightly above that of a slave. Only Joseph would be required to register with the authorities, because only men paid taxes. The presence of his fiancée or wife would be redundant. Mary would hardly have made the 100 mile trip while 9 months pregnant unless it was absolutely necessary. Joseph would have traveled alone."

Oshri said: "Basic medical knowledge tells you that a heavily pregnant woman could not ride a donkey that kind of distance without losing her baby."

Archaeological research that is being done at Bethlehem of Galilee can be seen at this link

Free-Marketers Come Knocking on Government's Door

Were it not so serious we could laugh at those right-wing free marketers whose mantra is 'Get the government off out backs!' Well, it USED to be. Now they regularly appear at the Welfare Door of the government.

It is just irony albeit a nasty downfall from grace. Trouble is, they took quite a lot of Americans down with them. The news today is that Citibank is about to make another appearance at the Welfare Door, otherwise it may go belly-up.

Were it not so serious for the ordinary American we might get a good laugh at it all. Sadly we cannot laugh. This American-style greed and narcissism has ruined the lives of millions of our citizens, some permanently.

These fat-cat free-marketers remind me an awful lot of the kinds of people that the Republican Party likes to denigrate: the so-called socialists. Better yet, the GOP target is often those 'lazy' people who 'like to be' on welfare.

I've got one more analogy that I think better suits this sorry knot of gangsters- the irresponsible adolescent or the young adult who didn't outgrow his adolescence. He's the one who wanted to 'get out on his own' and made risky decisions, but then, facing failure, runs home to mom and dad and asks to live in their basement. That symbol of a basement-dwelling young adult has been a theme of the right-wing in its attempt to stigmatize the irresponsible liberals in society.

But now, the chickens are coming home and roosting in the basement.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Wisdom of a Taxi Driver and Ex-Plumber

Where oh-where did Joe the Plumber go
Where oh-where did he go?


Last time I saw Joe he was in a taxicab in DC heading for home and glad to get back home, he said. That was February 11th on Pajamas Media.

He has just finished interviewing the Pakistani cab driver on the effects of the new stimulus bill. Joe knows how to conduct a tough interview, that was obvious. Earlier he had also interviewed ultra-conservative senators DeMint and Colburn and hometown senator Brown. Curiously, Brown's interview was conducted while standing whereas the other two interviews were sit-down in the senators' offices. What was that all about?

Joe has trouble with math, he confesses: he understands millions, but, as yet, can't quite get trillions. So much for the third grade math proficiency exam.

He remains befuddled throughout the 5 minute report, but finds some sort of connection with the cab driver. Buddies, no doubt, shared wisdom.

I'm looking forward to his next TV spot on PJ-TV. Who will he interview? Which topic? What will we learn from the process? So many questions, so little information.

"Faithful heading to church for money advice"

Faithful heading to church for money advice is a headline on CNN this Sunday morning. You gotta laugh just a little bit on the irony of this concept. Surely they aren't talking about those 'christian' cathedrals on TV with the oh-so righteous ministers begging the old ladies at home for a piece of the Social Security checks so that they can continue 'god's work.'

CNN says,

"Throughout the country, places of worship are not just offering prayers for the improvement of their members' finances. They are offering help in the form of classes, seminars and workshops. The programs are gaining popularity among the faithful who are seeking some stability in the midst of uncertain times."

At the church? The Christian church? Money-changes in the Temple? And why would 'the faithful' actually trust the church to give accurate, factual advice? After all, the Christian church has been selling its thinly-veiled, mythical 'story' to the congregation every Sunday. And now the faithful will go there to hear the 'truth' about finances?

Oh irony or ironies!

Toledo Squawk Radio

There has been much ado about squawk , er talk radio here in Toledo lately. Again. Drone. Something about the Fairness Doctrine. Reminds me of the 'fair and balanced' joke of FoxNews.

Apparently there are 2 squawk radio stations on the AM dial in this area. AM radio? Is it still all crackly and full of buzzing when you step on the gas? I remember the radio my '55 Ford used to drone like a saw when I revved the engine while shifting.

The Blade has recently been writing about the 'balance' of viewpoints lately on AM radio, or rather the imbalance, way right-of-center. Today they published letters to the editor on the topic. Most were right-wing, naturally. Those of us on the left-of-center prefer that 'new' innovation, the FM dial

Here's an interesting dittohead comment:

"Since liberals already dominate the mainstream print and TV media, and now Washington, conservative radio is the only outpost remaining in the lonely wilderness of liberal gobbledygook."

Wow! The wilderness of liberal gobbledygook. Profound. Takes one's breath away. And he goes on:

"This "doctrine" is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to stifle the conservative and Christian viewpoint by adding so much clutter and noise that it drowns out the message. More government intrusion into the free market of ideas. Doesn't surprise me."

' much clutter and noise that it drowns out the message." The message? Clutter? Noise?

It's always a hoot on the right-side of life. Always a good laugh.

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