Wednesday, August 31, 2005

All that sacrifice for nothing in Iraq
Except for the final body count, the war in Iraq is over.

We lost.

Islam won. Islam won when it was codified into the new constitution as the guiding North Star of Iraq's future.

This was not startling. After we righteously stormed into Afghanistan and kicked some butt, we abandoned the search for Osama Bin Laden, who killed those 2,700 people in downtown Manhattan, for a bait-and-switch invasion of Iraq.

We then turned Afghanistan over to the murderous warlords and opium merchants - whose product probably wound up in the veins of Mellie Carballo and Maria Pesantez, the two coeds who OD'd on heroin a few weeks back on the lower East Side - and declared it a victory for liberal democracy.

And now it is heartbreaking that 1,800 beautiful Americans have died and more than $200 billion in American taxpayer treasure spent so that we could transform the secular totalitarian fascist state of Iraq that had nothing, zero, to do with 9/11, into an Islamic theocracy.

Give it maybe three years after we pull the last troops out - which will start before the 2006 elections for obvious political reasons - and Iraq will be Iran. Ayatollahs will rule. Civil war will rock this sandy asylum. Women will be suppressed. The courts will make decisions based on sharia, Islamic law....

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Military Wrestles With Disharmony Among Chaplains
The growing influence of evangelical Protestants is roiling the military chaplain corps, where their desire to preach their faith more openly is colliding with long-held military traditions of pluralism and diversity.

After accusations this summer that evangelical chaplains, faculty and coaches were pressuring cadets at the Air Force Academy, the Air Force yesterday issued new guidelines on respect for religious minorities. In the Navy, evangelical Protestant chaplains are fighting what they say is a legacy of discrimination in hiring and promotions, and they are bridling at suggestions they not pray publicly "in the name of Jesus."

Much of the conflict is in two areas that, until now, have been nearly invisible to civilians: how the military hires its ministers and how they word their public prayers. Evangelical chaplains -- who are rising in numbers and clout amid a decline in Catholic priests and mainline Protestant ministers -- are challenging the status quo on both questions, causing even some evangelical commanders to worry about the impact on morale.

"There is a polarization that is beginning to set up that I don't think is helpful. Us versus them," said Air Force Col. Richard K. Hum, an Evangelical Free Church minister who is the executive director of the Armed Forces Chaplains Board. "I don't know whether it's an overflow of what's happening in society. But this sort of thing is so detrimental to what we are trying to do in the chaplaincy."

The Rev. MeLinda S. Morton, a Lutheran minister who resigned in June as an Air Force chaplain after criticizing the religious atmosphere at the Air Force Academy, said there has been a palpable rise in evangelical fervor not just among chaplains but also among the officer corps in general since she joined the military in 1982, originally as a launch officer in a nuclear missile silo.

"When we were coneheads -- missile officers -- I would never, ever have engaged in conversations with subordinates aligning my power and position as an officer with my views on faith matters," she said. Today, "I've heard of people being made incredibly uncomfortable by certain wing commanders who engage in sectarian devotions at staff meetings."...

Not a War on Doctors
Over the last few months, we've been following the case of Bernard Rottschaefer, the Pennsylvania physician convicted of trading sex for OxyContin prescriptions. The prosecution's star witness was a prostitute named Jennifer Riggle, who testified she'd given Rottschaefer oral sex several times in exchange for opiate painkillers, which she then used to support her own habit, and sold on the black market. Under cross-examination, Rottschaefer's attorney asked Riggle whether or not the doctor was circumcised. She couldn't answer. For reasons I can't fathom, Rottschaefer was still convicted.

After the trial, Riggle's boyfriend -- who had been in prison throughout the trial -- released a series of letters she'd written to him in which she admitted to lying under oath....

...Of course, backing down from the plea would amount to an admission of wrongful prosecution on Buchanan's part. Better to let an innocent man go to jail and the lying dope dealer who put him there go free than admit to a mistaken, overly aggressive, politically damaging prosecution....

Not a War on Doctors, Ct'd
...Think about what's happening, here. Cops are walking into clinics disguised as pain patients. Once inside, they make a play for the doctor's compassion, duping him into writing a script for pain medication. Get him several times, and they move in for the arrest. They can then seize everything he owns. In some states, they can sell his stuff and split the bounty among the various investigating agencies before he ever goes to trial.

Think for a moment what this kind of policy does to the doctor-patient relationship. Think about how willing other doctors will be to prescribe similar pain meds to patients after reading stories like these in the newspaper. Think about whether it's wise to have drug cops dictating what is and isn't acceptable medical treatment.

More costly than 'the war to end all wars'
Despite the relatively small number of American armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan (140,000), the war effort is rapidly shaping up to be the third-most expensive war in United States history.

This conflict has already cost each American at least $850 in military and reconstruction costs since October 2001.

If the war lasts another five years, it will cost nearly $1.4 trillion, calculates Linda Bilmes, who teaches budgeting at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. That's nearly $4,745 per capita. Her estimate is thorough. She includes not only the military cost but also such things as veterans' benefits and additional interest on the federal debt.

But even in stripped-down terms, looking only at military costs and using current dollars, the war's cost for the US already exceeds that of World War I.

That's in money, not in blood and tears. Fatalities from the combined Afghanistan-Iraq conflict now exceed 2,000. American participation in 1917-18 in World War I, a war infamous for its trench-warfare slaughter, resulted in 53,513 US deaths.

In constant inflation-adjusted dollars, the current conflict is the fourth most costly US war, behind World War II, Vietnam, and Korea....

Monday, August 29, 2005

Strategizing a Christian Coup d'Etat
A group of believers wants to establish Scriptures-based government one city and county at a time.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — It began, as many road trips do, with a stop at Wal-Mart to buy a portable DVD player.

But Mario DiMartino was planning more than a weekend getaway. He, his wife and three children were embarking on a pilgrimage to South Carolina.

"I want to migrate and claim the gold of the Lord," said the 38-year-old oil company executive from Pennsylvania. "I want to replicate the statutes and the mores and the scriptures that the God of the Old Testament espoused to the world."

DiMartino, who drove here recently to look for a new home, is a member of Christian Exodus, a movement of politically active believers who hope to establish a government based upon Christian principles.

At a time when evangelicals are exerting influence on the national political stage — having helped secure President Bush's reelection — Christian Exodus believes that people of faith have failed to assert their moral agenda: Abortion is legal. School prayer is banned. There are limits on public displays of the Ten Commandments. Gays and lesbians can marry in Massachusetts.

Christian Exodus activists plan to take control of sheriff's offices, city councils and school boards. Eventually, they say, they will control South Carolina. They will pass godly legislation, defying Supreme Court rulings on the separation of church and state.

"We're going to force a constitutional crisis," said Cory Burnell, 29, an investment advisor who founded the group in November 2003.

"If necessary," he said, "we will secede from the union."

Burnell has not moved to South Carolina himself — he promised his wife that they would stay in Valley Springs, Calif., until the end of next year — but believes that his 950 supporters will rally to the cause. Five families have moved so far.

Burnell said his inspiration came from the Free State Project, which in October 2003 appealed to libertarians to move to New Hampshire for limited government intervention, lower taxes and greater individual rights. By 2006, organizers had hoped to have 20,000 people committed to relocating to New Hampshire; so far, 6,600 have said they intended to make the move, and only 100 have done so.

Christian Exodus, Burnell predicted, will be more successful.

"There are more Christians than libertarians," he said.

After scrutinizing electoral records, demographic trends and property prices, Christian Exodus members identified two upstate South Carolina counties — they will not officially say which ones — as prime for a conservative takeover. By September 2006, Burnell hopes to have 2,000 activists in one county and 500 in the other.

Frank and Tammy Janoski have settled into a five-bedroom house with white vinyl siding in a new subdivision in rural Spartanburg County.

"This is where God wants us to be," he said....

U.S., insurgents locked in stalemate in Anbar
FALLUJAH, Iraq - (KRT) - Insurgents in Anbar province, the center of guerrilla resistance in Iraq, have fought the U.S. military to a stalemate.

After repeated major combat offensives in Fallujah and Ramadi, and after losing hundreds of soldiers and Marines in Anbar during the past two years - including 75 since June 1 - many American officers and enlisted men assigned to Anbar have stopped talking about winning a military victory in Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland. Instead, they're trying to hold on to a handful of population centers and hit smaller towns in a series of quick-strike operations designed to disrupt insurgent activities temporarily.

"I don't think of this in terms of winning," said Col. Stephen Davis, who commands a task force of about 5,000 Marines in an area of some 24,000 square miles in the western portion of Anbar. Instead, he said, his Marines are fighting a war of attrition. "The frustrating part for the (American) audience, if you will, is they want finality. They want a fight for the town and in the end the guy with the white hat wins."

That's unlikely in Anbar, Davis said. He expects the insurgency to last for years, hitting American and Iraqi forces with quick ambushes, bombs and mines. Roadside bombs have hit vehicles Davis was riding in three times this year already....

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Chinese Detainees Are Men Without a Country
15 Muslims, Cleared of Terrorism Charges, Remain at Guantanamo With Nowhere to Go

In late 2003, the Pentagon quietly decided that 15 Chinese Muslims detained at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be released. Five were people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, some of them picked up by Pakistani bounty hunters for U.S. payoffs. The other 10 were deemed low-risk detainees whose enemy was China's communist government -- not the United States, according to senior U.S. officials.

More than 20 months later, the 15 still languish at Guantanamo Bay, imprisoned and sometimes shackled, with most of their families unaware whether they are even alive....

...Other detainees cleared of terrorism charges have also languished for years at Guantanamo Bay...

...n the meantime, the men are still treated as prisoners. Sabin P. Willett, a Boston lawyer who volunteered to take the cases of two Uighurs in March, finally met with them last month, after he and his team went through their own FBI clearances. One of the Uighurs was "chained to the floor" in a "box with no windows," Willett said in an Aug. 1 court hearing.

"You're not talking about your client?" asked Judge James Robertson of the U.S. District Court in Washington.

"I'm talking about my client," Willett said.

"He was chained to a floor?" Robertson asked again.

"He had a leg shackle that was chained to a bolt in the floor," Willett replied....

...All 15 Uighurs have actually been cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay twice, once after a Pentagon review in late 2003 and again last March, U.S. officials said. Seven other Uighurs were ruled to be enemy combatants and will continue to be detained.

Even after the second decision, however, the government did not notify the 15 men for several months that they had been cleared. "They clearly were keeping secret that these men were acquitted. They were found not to be al Qaeda and not to be Taliban," Willett said. "But the government still refused to provide a transcript of the tribunal that acquitted them to the detainees, their new lawyers or a U.S. court."...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Squandering a Supreme opportunity
...A vacancy creates a rare advocacy occasion for the president because the public is then riveted on the Supreme Court for longer than a sound bite. If President Bush sincerely desires to entrench the Bork-Scalia-Roberts original meaning philosophy in the Supreme Court, he must bring the public along through statesmanlike explanations of what is at stake, i.e., the rule of law and process, not particular results. The history of liberty has largely been a history of holding each branch of government within constitutional bounds.

The advocacy task is difficult, nevertheless, because process commands no impassioned and well-funded supporters. In contrast, the opponents of process obsessed with results -- whether liberals or conservatives -- are organized and vocal. Thus, liberals would manipulate the Commerce Clause to enact federal laws banning guns in schools or transforming state crimes against women into federal cases. Conservatives are equally eager for Congress to brandish the Clause to prohibit partial birth abortions or to thwart Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, or to act without a crumb of constitutional power to disturb a final Florida state court judgment concerning Terri Schiavo's vegetative state. Whereas liberals rejoiced at the Supreme Court's invocation of the "mysteries of the universe" and the "moral fact that one belongs to oneself and not to another or to society" to proclaim rights to an abortion and homosexual sodomy, conservatives similarly crave to wield corresponding fatuousness to promulgate an embryo's constitutional right to birth and a constitutional prohibition against suicide or assisted suicide. ...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Grooming Politicians for Christ
Evangelical programs on Capitol Hill seek to mold a new generation of leaders who will answer not to voters, but to God.

WASHINGTON — In the blue and gold elegance of the House speaker's private dining room, Jeremy Bouma bowed his head before eight young men and women who hope to one day lead the nation. He prayed that they might find wisdom in the Bible — and govern by its word.

"Holy Father, we thank you for providing us with guidance," said Bouma, who works for an influential televangelist. "Thank you, Lord, for these students. Build them up as your warriors and your ambassadors on Capitol Hill."

"Amen," the students murmured. Then they picked up their pens expectantly.

Nearly every Monday for six months, as many as a dozen congressional aides — many of them aspiring politicians — have gathered over takeout dinners to mine the Bible for ancient wisdom on modern policy debates about tax rates, foreign aid, education, cloning and the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Through seminars taught by conservative college professors and devout members of Congress, the students learn that serving country means first and always serving Christ.

They learn to view every vote as a religious duty, and to consider compromise a sin....

...The philosophy animating Cameron's lecture — that federal law should be based on biblical precepts — troubles the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

"This nation was founded specifically to avoid the government making religious and theological decisions," Lynn said. "We are not to turn the Holy Scriptures of any group into public policy."

Kennedy counters that evangelicals have every right to put up candidates who vote what they believe to be God's will — and let voters judge them.

To which Lynn responds, with exasperation: "He says that because he knows in a majority Christian country, the Christian view is going to be expressed by more voters. They have no problem imposing their biblical worldview on every American."

Evangelical conservatives acknowledge that's their goal.

And they now have a systematic plan for achieving it....

...The nation needs more politicians who take their cues from God, not Gallup, or "our morality will crumble," he warned. "We won't recognize America."

Roller shares that fear. So he ended the recent class on bioethics with a plea: "Heavenly Father, we pray you will help us to know how we should respond to these issues."

The students answered as one: "Amen."

Who Loves Creepy Megachurches?
Stadium crowds, thousands of rabid devotees, all chugging Jesus like Kool-Aid. Should you be afraid?

...Maybe the appeal is self-explanatory. Maybe you walk into one of these stadium-sized God-huts and everyone is forcibly blissed out and everyone is just numbly patriotic and everyone is throwing hand-rolled tubes of nickels (most megachurch parishioners have very low median incomes and little more than a high school education, and the vast majority are as white as bleached teeth) into the giant golden donation vats and snatching up freshly published copies of "He Died for Your Crappy Little Sins so Put Down the Porn and Listen Up, Sicko," and the vibe is so amped and the Jesus mania is so potent you'd think it's a Michael Jackson concert circa 1991 and you're Macaulay Culkin and everyone is made of glitter and cocaine and disquieting apprehension.

Is this the appeal? The narcotic of delirious crowds? The intoxicating caught-up-in-it-ness? The drug of mass self-righteousness, sterilized and homogenized for easy suppository-like karmic insertion?

Or is it the Jesus-as-megastar thing, with the pastor as the ultimate cover band and his flock a teeming mass of fans who don't really understand the lyrics and get the message almost completely wrong and yet who are, you just know, good and honest people just trying to find their way in a lost and debauched and war-torn land? I saw AC/DC and Iron Maiden on a double bill in Spokane in 1983 and just about saw God. Is that the same thing? No?

Of course, people want to belong. People are desperate to connect to something, anything, bigger than themselves, something that professes to have answers to questions they don't even know how to ask. Especially now, especially when the country's identity is imploding and moral codes are deliciously evolving and we are no longer the gleaming righteous superpower we always thought we were and instead are much more the fat self-righteous playground thug no one likes. ...

The Trillion-Dollar War
THE human cost of the more than 2,000 American military personnel killed and 14,500 wounded so far in Iraq and Afghanistan is all too apparent. But the financial toll is still largely hidden from public view and, like the suffering of those who have lost loved ones, will persist long after the fighting is over.

The cost goes well beyond the more than $250 billion already spent on military operations and reconstruction. ...

...Even by this simple yardstick, if the American military presence in the region lasts another five years, the total outlay for the war could stretch to more than $1.3 trillion, or $11,300 for every household in the United States.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Getting Off The Bus
...I got an e-mail from someone I respect asking me why I made such a big deal out of women's rights being denied when there are so many other freedoms at stake. It's a legitimate question I suppose, but I think the question answers itself. The fact is that under Saddam, in their everyday lives, one half of the population had more real, tangible freedom than they have now and that they will have under some form of Shar'ia. The sheer numbers of people whose freedom are affected make it the most glaring and tragic symbol of our failed "noble cause."

Iraqi women have enjoyed secular, western-style equality for more than 40 years. Most females have no memory of living any other way. In order to meet an arbitrary deadline for domestic political reasons, we have capitulated to theocrats on the single most important constitutional issue facing the average Iraqi woman --- which means that we have now officially failed more than half of the Iraqis we supposedly came to help. We have "liberated" millions of people from rights they have had all their lives.

This is not to say that an Islamic theocracy is fine in every other way. It will, of course, curb religious freedom entirely. Too bad for the local Jews and Christians --- or secularists, of which there were many in Iraq. It will restrict personal freedom in an infinite number of ways. Theocracies require conformity in thought, word and deed.

And all of this must be viewed within the conditions that exist in this poor misbegotten place as we speak. The country is on the verge of civil war. Chaos reigns. Daily life is dangerous and uncomfortable.

It simply cannot be heroic for the richest, most powerful democratic country on earth to claim the mantle of liberator only to create a government that makes more than half the population second class citizens and forces the entire country live in conditions that are less free and more dangerous than before....

Fury over leaked Aer Lingus memo
Irish airline Aer Lingus looks set for a bumpy ride with unions after a leaked memorandum exposed underhand tactics to speed up a job cuts programme.

The state-owned carrier developed a 12-point plan to make life difficult for its employees in a bid to make them accept voluntary redundancy.

Plans included changing shift patterns and making staff wear tacky uniforms.

Aer Lingus claims it was merely a "discussion document", but now unions want urgent talks with management.

The airline, which is 85% owned by the government...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

What might have been
It's time for us conservatives to face facts. George W. Bush has pissed away the conservative moment by pursuing a war of choice via policies that border on the criminally incompetent. We control the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and (more-or-less) the judiciary for one of the few times in my nearly 5 decades, but what have we really accomplished? Is government smaller? Have we hacked away at the nanny state? Are the unborn any more protected? Have we really set the stage for a durable conservative majority?...

...What really annoys me, however, are the domestic implications of all this. The conservative agenda has advanced hardly at all since the Iraq War began. Worse yet, the growing unpopularity of the war threatens to undo all the electoral gains we conservatives have achieved in this decade. Stalwarts like me are not going to vote for Birkenstock wearers no matter how bad things get in Iraq, but what about the proverbial soccer moms? Gerrymandering probably will save the House for us at least through the 2010 redistricting, but what about the Senate and the White House?

In sum, I am not a happy camper. I'm very afraid that 100 years from now historians will look back at W's term and ask "what might have been?"

Militias on the Rise Across Iraq
Shiite and Kurdish Groups Seizing Control, Instilling Fear in North and South

BASRA, Iraq -- Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country's divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, according to political leaders, families of the victims, human rights activists and Iraqi officials.

While Iraqi representatives wrangle over the drafting of a constitution in Baghdad, the militias, and the Shiite and Kurdish parties that control them, are creating their own institutions of authority, unaccountable to elected governments, the activists and officials said. In Basra in the south, dominated by the Shiites, and Mosul in the north, ruled by the Kurds, as well as cities and villages around them, many residents have said they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein....

...Since the formation of a government this spring, Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, has witnessed dozens of assassinations, which claimed members of the former ruling Baath Party, Sunni political leaders and officials of competing Shiite parties. Many have been carried out by uniformed men in police vehicles, according to political leaders and families of the victims, with some of the bullet-riddled bodies dumped at night in a trash-strewn parcel known as The Lot. The province's governor said in an interview that Shiite militias have penetrated the police force; an Iraqi official estimated that as many as 90 percent of officers were loyal to religious parties.

Across northern Iraq, Kurdish parties have employed a previously undisclosed network of at least five detention facilities to incarcerate hundreds of Sunni Arabs, Turkmens and other minorities abducted and secretly transferred from Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and from territories stretching to the Iranian border, according to political leaders and detainees' families. Nominally under the authority of the U.S.-backed Iraqi army, the militias have beaten up and threatened government officials and political leaders deemed to be working against Kurdish interests; one bloodied official was paraded through a town in a pickup truck, witnesses said.

"I don't see any difference between Saddam and the way the Kurds are running things here," said Nahrain Toma, who heads a human rights organization, Bethnahrain, which has offices in northern Iraq and has faced several death threats....

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Army Planning for 4 More Years in Iraq
WASHINGTON - The Army is planning for the possibility of keeping the current number of soldiers in Iraq — well over 100,000 — for four more years, the Army's top general said Saturday. ...

...I suspect we’re going to see more of this as time goes on. I predict the power and influence attributed to politically impotent, liberal, anti-war interest groups will increase at the exact same rate that our prospect for success in Iraq decreases. In other words, as the scope of our failure and colossal misjudgment becomes more clear, I expect that bitter pro-war advocates will place an increasing amount of the blame on liberal groups who opposed the war and had nothing to do with its launch or implementation....

...I understand the emotional need to attack those who you don’t care for anyway. But the idea that the anti-war Left and the sister city program have one damned thing to do with our problems in Iraq is nothing short of full-blown delusion (though it is interesting from a psychological perspective). If Hitchens wants to blame someone, he should start with himself. If that won’t do, he might move on to the actual planners of the war. I think they're in Texas right now wondering how the hell they should deal with the sad, angry mother camped outside their ranch - and the fire she threatens to spread....

...Just to be clear, if we are unsuccessful in Iraq, the people to blame are the people who caused the war to happen, not the people who didn’t want it to happen. If we are unsuccessful, the leaders who executed the war are to blame, not the liberal groups who had exactly zero influence in the war planning and execution.

You may hate the Left so bad that you'd like to wring all their necks. But that hatred has exactly zero relevance to the larger truth that you may or may not be willing to confront - if this war is lost, then Bush lost it.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Pedophilia and Star Trek
The LA Times recently ran a story about the Child Exploitation Section of the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit, which contained a mind-boggling statistic: of the more than 100 offenders the unit has arrested over the last four years, "all but one" has been "a hard-core Trekkie." Blogger Ernest Miller thought this claim was improbable. "I could go to a science fiction convention," he explained "and be less likely to find that 99+ percent of the attendees were hard-core Trekkies." While there may be quibbling about the exact numbers, the Toronto detectives claim that the connection is undeniable.

In fact, Star Trek paraphernalia has so routinely been found at the homes of the pedophiles they've arrested that it has become a gruesome joke in the squad room. (On the wall, there is a Star Trek poster with the detectives' faces replacing those of the crew members). This does not mean that watching Star Trek makes you a pedophile. It does mean that if you're a pedophile, odds are you've watched a lot of Star Trek....

...For both Kirk and Spock, their true shared love object is the luminous Starship Enterprise, and it essentially serves the purpose of a fetish object – a non-human, inanimate detour for evading anxieties belonging to genuine intimacy. In an episode called I, Mudd , when one of Harry Mudd's androids asks Kirk what it is he desires: he replies, "The Enterprise." "But the Enterprise is not a want or desire" says the android. "It's a mechanical device." "It's a beautiful lady," Kirk interjects sharply "and we love her."

So if the pedophiles are identifying with the crew members, who do the monsters represent? Possibly aspects of the pedophile's mind that are split off because they are unthinkable, and projected into someone else. On the Enterprise, aggressive impulses aren't battling it out with libidinal ones as they are here on earth. In the Star Trek universe, every "bad" impulse is attributed to an external force. When it comes to sex, for example, it's always an outside influence that takes possession of the crew's minds and bodies, causing them to behave in erotically driven ways. Child molesters have a similar mechanism at work. They deny having any sexual impulses themselves; they frequently claim that it was the children who seduced them.

There is another aspect of Star Trek that likely makes it irresistible to perverts. It is utopian, in the sense that all the differences and distinctions which create tensions here on earth have been eradicated. Despite their exaggerated sexual characteristics, for example, the crew members are citizens of a utopian interracial and interplanetary world where the usual conflicts associated with gender do not apply.

In perversion, there is an attempt to obliterate any distinctions that provoke unconscious anxiety. First and foremost, this entails a denial of the difference between the sexes and the difference between the generations. Pedophiles are, at the very least, attempting to deny the difference between the generations. The utopian fantasy here is to normalize sex between adults and children.

According to Dr. Peter Mezan, a psychoanalyst in New York City, "There is an impulse that is common to perversion and to utopian thinking. The wish is to create a world in which differences make no difference. The great utopian thinkers have been immensely inspiring, but there is a reason that utopian communities have never worked out. In the name of equality of every sort and in the attempt to eliminate the tensions that normally divide us, they propose to create a marvelously unnatural world without the usual boundaries. But then it gets all fucked up."

Think of Michael Jackson. He has attempted to eradicate just about every sexual, generational, and racial difference – and to construct an alternate utopian reality in Neverland. While there is certainly a futuristic quality to his clothing and mask-like facial features, it is unclear whether he watches Star Trek or just looks as if he does.

Discover Dialogue: Meteorologist William Gray
‘Eight of the last 10 years have been very active—we’ve never had as much activity. Yet we went from 1992 until last year with no hurricanes coming through Florida’

...You don’t believe global warming is causing climate change?

G: No. If it is, it is causing such a small part that it is negligible. I’m not disputing that there has been global warming. There was a lot of global warming in the 1930s and ’40s, and then there was a slight global cooling from the middle ’40s to the early ’70s. And there has been warming since the middle ’70s, especially in the last 10 years. But this is natural, due to ocean circulation changes and other factors. It is not human induced.

That must be a controversial position among hurricane researchers.

G: Nearly all of my colleagues who have been around 40 or 50 years are skeptical as hell about this whole global-warming thing. But no one asks us. If you don’t know anything about how the atmosphere functions, you will of course say, “Look, greenhouse gases are going up, the globe is warming, they must be related.” Well, just because there are two associations, changing with the same sign, doesn’t mean that one is causing the other.

With last year’s hurricane season so active, and this year’s looking like it will be, won’t people say it’s evidence of global warming?

G: The Atlantic has had more of these storms in the least 10 years or so, but in other ocean basins, activity is slightly down. Why would that be so if this is climate change? The Atlantic is a special basin? The number of major storms in the Atlantic also went way down from the middle 1960s to the middle ’90s, when greenhouse gases were going up.

Why is there scientific support for the idea?

G: So many people have a vested interest in this global-warming thing—all these big labs and research and stuff. The idea is to frighten the public, to get money to study it more. Now that the cold war is over, we have to generate a common enemy to support science, and what better common enemy for the globe than greenhouse gases?

Are your funding problems due in part to your views?

G: I can’t be sure, but I think that’s a lot of the reason. I have been around 50 years, so my views on this are well known. I had NOAA money for 30 some years, and then when the Clinton administration came in and Gore started directing some of the environmental stuff, I was cut off. I couldn’t get any NOAA money. They turned down 13 straight proposals from me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Christian College Praised for Holding Fast to Its Biblical Worldview
(AgapePress) - A Bible college professor and home-schooling dad is praising a Christian college in Virginia for firing a low-level employee because he does not believe salvation is found only through faith in Jesus Christ.

Recently a Loudoun County judge ordered former Patrick Henry College (PHC) employee Jeremy Hunley to stop disparaging the school over its statement of faith affirming that salvation is by faith in Christ alone. Hunley, a member of the Church of Christ denomination, was let go by the school after he began promoting the idea that baptism is necessary for salvation.

Baptist evangelist Voddie Baucham, Jr., says PHC should be lauded for its commitment to an uncompromisingly biblical worldview throughout the school....

Man Wants Liberty to Become the Man He Wants to Become
...But Buchanan has more recently argued that we may be losing this sense of ourselves in the modern age. Autonomy is losing its appeal. The learned helplessness we have acquired by living in a political culture of preferential treatment and protection from ourselves may have left the modern mind incable of accepting the responsibilities of freedom. We are instead afraid to be free. This shift in our human imagination is perhaps the most dangerous threat to economic and political freedom we have faced yet.

The threats to political and economic freedom in the 20th century came from:

(1) managerial socialism --- which argued that central planning by the government could organize affairs more ratioally than market forces;

(2) paternalistic socialism --- where an elite argued that the government had to step in and protect individuals from the poor choices they would make (the nanny state);

(3) distributional socialism --- where the state would be entrusted to provide an equitable distribution of resources.

But Buchanan claims in his essay "Afraid to Be Free: Dependence as Desideratum" that the new threat in the 21st century comes in the form of:

(4) parental socialism --- where the individuals invite the government to meddle in their lives to protect them from themselves and provide security in their lives from the vagaries of a life left to their own making.

This form of statism has been understudied by political economists. It was one thing to intellectually fight the conception of human choice as pre-programmed with an emphasis on the open-endedness of choice and the meaning our lives find in the process of constructing that life through time with our choices. But embracing that freedom also implies embracing the responsibility that goes with open ended choice. What are we to make of things when individuals "do not want to shoulder the final responsibility of their own actions"?

Benjamin Franklin once remarked that anyone who would trade-off their liberty for security deserves neither. But to even make that remark means that the phenomena that Buchanan is talking about isn't really new....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Crosses vandalized at antiwar mom's Texas camp site
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan tried to calm tensions on Tuesday with area residents upset by her vigil but expressed outrage after a pickup truck driver ran over crosses at her campsite near U.S. President George W. Bush's ranch.

Some 800 white wooden crosses, bearing the names of soldiers killed in Iraq like her son, have lined the road near the area where Sheehan has pitched a tent. Witnesses said they saw a truck dragging a pipe and chains drive over some of the crosses on Monday night....

Police seek diaper-clad man who pesters women
LONDON (Reuters) - UK police said Monday they were searching for a man wearing just a diaper, who approaches women late at night and asks: "Are there any baby changing facilities around here?" ...

A New (London) Low
A refrigerator box under the bridge: The Kelo Seven prepares for the worst

Those who believe in the adage "when it rains, it pours" might take the tale of the plaintiffs in Kelo v. New London as a cue to buy two of every animal and a load of wood from Home Depot. The U.S. Supreme Court recently found that the city's original seizure of private property was constitutional under the principal of eminent domain, and now New London is claiming that the affected homeowners were living on city land for the duration of the lawsuit and owe back rent. It's a new definition of chutzpah: Confiscate land and charge back rent for the years the owners fought confiscation.

In some cases, their debt could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Moreover, the homeowners are being offered buyouts based on the market rate as it was in 2000 . ...

...And there are more storms on the horizon. In June 2004, NLDC sent the seven affected residents a letter indicating that after the completion of the case, the city would expect to receive retroactive "use and occupancy" payments (also known as "rent") from the residents.

In the letter, lawyers argued that because the takeover took place in 2000, the residents had been living on city property for nearly five years, and would therefore owe rent for the duration of their stay at the close of the trial. Any money made from tenantssome residents' only form of incomewould also have to be paid to the city.

With language seemingly lifted straight from The Goonies , NLDC's lawyers wrote, "We know your clients did not expect to live in city-owned property for free, or rent out that property and pocket the profits, if they ultimately lost the case." They warned that "this problem will only get worse with the passage of time," and that the city was prepared to sue for the money if need be. ...

War Vet Has Property Raided After Calling Bush a Liar On Radio Call-in
Don Stout looked up into the Midwestern sky one afternoon two weeks ago and saw a strange helicopter flying over his five-acre piece of land in rural Albany, Ohio.

Before he knew what happened, the 77-year-old long-time resident, law-abiding citizen and Korean War veteran had eight law enforcement officials swarm on his property, checking the place out for marijuana.

Never before having a run-in with the law, Stout said the heavy-handed looking group of law enforcement thugs “came and went without saying a word” after suspiciously looking at a large bush on his property not in the slightest bit resembling a pot plant.

“I’ve been here since 1994 and everybody’s knows me including the sheriff. I never smoked marijuana and they know it, but I think they just like terrorizing people,” said Stout in a telephone conversation from his rural home, adding he still hasn’t received an answer from anyone why law enforcement officials invaded his privacy and entered his land without a proper search warrant.

“It scared the hell out of me as eight or ten men swarmed my place. I was weeding my garden and the next thing you know, they were on my property, looked at this bush and left without saying a word. It was ridiculous, but the sheriff, the deputy sheriff and the game warden all raided my place for no reason and I am still looking for an explanation.”

Although Stout can’t pinpoint why authorities entered his property without a warrant, earlier that day he aired his strong opinions against President Bush, calling him an outright liar, on a free speech and truth-telling talk radio show on the popular WAIF AM770 local radio station.

Stout said he has been calling in regularly voicing his anti-Bush opinions, saying people in rural Ohio are finally starting to wake up to lies, deceit and treachery imposed on the American people by what he calls a “lying dog of a President.’

“I think he and the rest of his buddies are corrupt, down right crazy and Bush should be impeached plain and simple for lying to the people about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” said the former Korean War veteran, who lashed out at Bush for going to war illegally and in the process killing thousands of innocent civilians, including more than 1,700 GI’s.

“I think George Bush is a liar and is personally responsible for the deaths of many good young men in order that his rich buddies could profit from this illegal war.”...

Monday, August 15, 2005

The left's eyeing your home
WHEN THE Supreme Court decided seven weeks ago in Kelo vs. New London to loosen constitutional restraints on local governments taking your house and selling it to Wal-Mart, it triggered a wave of public revulsion from New England to South Los Angeles. Ninety-three percent of Granite State residents in a University of New Hampshire poll opposed using eminent domain for private development. Legislators in 28 states have made at least preliminary noises about restricting the practice, with Alabama being first to enact a new law.

State Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) has introduced a ballot initiative to, according to his website, "prohibit the [government] seizure of one person's property for the private gain of another." Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) cosponsored a successful amendment to stop federal Community Development Block Grants from going to any locale that doesn't prohibit eminent domain seizures for private development.

"It's like undermining motherhood and apple pie," Waters told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I mean, people's homes and their land — it's very important, and it should be protected by government, not taken for somebody else's private use."

Yet Waters' folksy wisdom about Kelo proved too simple by half for some of her fellow liberal activists and Democratic politicians, who see the backlash as either a sneaky Republican plot or a prophylactic separating potential tax dollars from their grubbing hands.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) opposed Waters' amendment, arguing that the Supreme Court decision "is almost as if God has spoken." The New York Times editorial page, virtually alone among the country's newspapers, hailed the decision as "a welcome vindication of cities' ability to act in the public interest" and "a setback to the 'property rights' movement, which is trying to block government from imposing reasonable zoning and environmental regulations."

Locally, pols reveal their feelings through their continued addiction to state-sanctioned robbery. ...

...So where is that Democratic Party concern for the "little guy" we've heard so much about? Subsumed by paranoia about the right. "The Kelo backlash is tempting, but it's wrong," warned Alyssa Katz in American Prospect Online. "In seeking to limit public power over urban planning, well-meaning community activists are lending strength to [the] conservative movement."

And we mustn't have that, even if it means razing an entire black neighborhood for a shopping mall that never gets built. That's exactly what happened in Indio in 1993, when more than 90 apartments and homes were bulldozed for an extension of the Indio Fashion Mall that never happened. Obscenely, the new owner of the property is pressuring the city to once again clear out two nearby churches to restart the project.

Eminent domain for private development is nothing more than a market shortcut and nothing less than government-sanctioned bullying of the people who least deserve it. Just ask the former residents of Chavez Ravine and Bunker Hill. If Democrats talk themselves into supporting this noxious practice only because Republicans oppose it, or because they aren't satisfied with the taxes generated by the mom-and-pop stores, they will get the electoral results they deserve.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq
Administration Is Shedding 'Unreality' That Dominated Invasion, Official Says

The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."...

There are two great powers," the man said, "and they've been fighting since time began. Every advance in human life, every scrap of knowledge and wisdom and decency we have has been torn by one side from the teeth of the other. Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.
-- Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials

Friday, August 12, 2005

Christian Groups Press Bush About North Korea
...Some in Midland prefer to say Mr. Bush naturally shares their view of the world.

"God has put a man in office who has a heart for the nations, and for the pain and suffering that is happening all over the world," Ms. Younger said near a "sponsor's tent" as she recalled a talk with Mr. Bush about Mr. Kang's book when she visited the White House early last month.

Because the president's "hands are tied" at times, she added, "we are his arms reaching out to the nations."

To help press the human rights case, Ms. Fikes and a delegation from Midland traveled to Seoul in June, where they met the leaders of both major South Korean parties, they said, and invited several ministers and human rights advocates back to Midland for the concert.

The festival was a showcase for their efforts. Before the music began on Saturday, Mr. Kang spoke to the crowd through a translator about his decade in a prison camp.

The daughter of a Korean-American missionary, the Rev. Phillip Jun Buck, said her father had been arrested in China for trying to help North Koreans. "I know that president Bush and his community cares for cases like my father," she said.

Later, the festival screened part of a documentary, "Seoul Train," about North Korean refugees. The protagonist, the Rev. Chun Ki Won, told the audience through a translator a secondhand account of a North Korean Christian whose fingers were cut off by authorities demanding the names of other believers.

It was such accounts of persecution - though in southern Sudan - that first moved the Midland Alliance, once a strictly local group, to take an interest in foreign affairs. Ms. Fikes invited a group of refugees to address the 2002 Rock the Desert festival, where they worked with a Christian group for troubled teenagers to build a copy of a Sudanese village. They burned part of it in a mock raid to demonstrate the refugees' plight.

Soon after, Ms. Fikes, a former schoolteacher, decided to advertise on the alliance letterhead that Midland was Mr. Bush's hometown. She learned that foreign embassies were suddenly quick to respond.

Before long, she was traveling monthly to Washington and entertaining the Sudanese ambassador at her house. In the months leading up to the January peace agreement that ended the civil war there, Ms. Fikes and her group held private talks with both sides.

Her husband, an oil entrepreneur, pays for her travel.

"The Midland Alliance has had a major impact in the Sudan," Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo, a Kenyan who helped mediate the peace, wrote last week in an e-mail message.

"I believe the saying that 'the closer to the bone, the sweeter the meat' is quite effective," General Sumbeiywo said. "It has therefore made a major difference - a positive one - to have their letterhead identified as the home of President Bush."...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

HOUSES OF WORSHIP: From Gospel to Government
...A final weakness of Christian progressives is one shared by some Christian conservatives: the impulse to leap directly from the Bible to contemporary politics. Few are as blatant as Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners magazine and a darling of Democratic leaders. In his best-selling book "God's Politics," Mr. Wallis discerns from a short passage in Isaiah a blueprint for government welfare spending. "The starting point to check how our society measures up to Isaiah's platform," Mr. Wallis writes, "is by examining our federal budget." Or, as the Christian Alliance for Progress argues, rather confusedly: "In his sermons and in his parables, Jesus teaches that poverty can certainly be an effective weapon of mass destruction."

Their Web sites are awash with this kind of talk. In all of it, there is little room for political philosophy, or civil society, or even an appreciation of the different roles of church and state. Whatever the argument -- whether it's a big government approach to poverty or a pacifist stance on terrorism -- Bible verses are at the ready.

Call it fundamentalism from the left. If religious progressives help the Democratic Party to "find religion," we're going to see a lot more of it. Heaven help us.

Saved by the bomb?
In August, 1945, near Manila, and for years later, I thought my life had been spared by the use of nuclear weapons against Japan. Now, I'm not so sure

On Aug. 6, 1945, at a staging area a few miles north of Manila, I was a non-commisioned officer in a company of Army Special Forces preparing for yet another amphibious assault.

For two years we had leapfrogged from southern New Guinea to the heart of the Philippines under Gen. MacArthur's command. Everyone knew that the D-Day of all D-Days was near at hand and was preparing for the mother of all landings with stoic resignation.

On that day the stunning news came that a super bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima with devastating effect. After confusing and contradictory reports we learned what the word "radioactive" meant and that the war was over.

Soon, orders came through for us to land at Wakayama on Honshu Island. Ours was the first contingent to hit the beach and, while we were prepared for combat, it was immediately obvious that there was no opposition and little to defend. After establishing a perimeter we cautiously reconnoitered. For several weeks I was able to move around freely and made a point of observing the damage that our B-29s had inflicted on every aspect of civilian and defense installations. There were no uniformed enemy soldiers except at the Osaka train station and those demoralized individuals were trying to slip home, one by one. Japan's main defense forces had been obliterated by the B-29s.

For years after, I was among those who felt that dropping the A-bomb was not only justified, but a military necessity. "I was one of those saved by dropping the bomb!" was my stock answer to the anti-nuke peaceniks. That usually shut them up, since I was most often the only one who had been anywhere near Japan during WW II.

End of story? Not quite. ...

...The truth is, I now believe, that in August of 1945, the Japanese Imperial Army could not have defended its homeland against a well-trained troop of Eagle Scouts....

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Baghdad Mayor Is Ousted by a Shiite Group and Replaced
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 9 - Armed men entered Baghdad's municipal building during a blinding dust storm on Monday, deposed the city's mayor and installed a member of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia.

The deposed mayor, Alaa al-Tamimi, who was not in his offices at the time, recounted the events in a telephone interview on Tuesday and called the move a municipal coup d'├ętat. He added that he had gone into hiding for fear of his life.

"This is the new Iraq," said Mr. Tamimi, a secular engineer with no party affiliation. "They use force to achieve their goal."...

‘Full-Quiver’ Baptists Say No to Contraception
Southern Seminary President Al Mohler recently charged married couples who decide to remain childless are guilty of “moral rebellion” against God’s design.

“Marriage, sex, and children are part of one package,” Mohler said July 27 in Baptist Press. “To deny any part of this wholeness is to reject God’s intention in creation--and His mandate revealed in the Bible.”

Mohler quoted a declaration in Psalm 127: “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.”

Mohler did not explain why he and his wife, Mary, stopped after two children,...

Forthcoming Book, Movie Show Man ‘Living Biblically’
Writer A.J. Jacobs has a mission: to obey the Bible literally for a full year.

The senior editor at Esquire magazine will share the results of that endeavor in The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Obey the Bible As Literally As Possible, which Simon & Schuster plans to publish in fall 2006....

'War for Righteousness' Book Garners National Attention
Read a statement about America's moral duty "to show the paths of freedom to all the world" and you might think it was a quote taken from the day's newspapers. But that statement was made 90 years ago by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, three years before America became involved in World War I.

The similarities that modern-day war terminology has with that of World War I has drawn national attention to Dr. Richard M. Gamble's book, "The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation." ...

Onward, Christian Soldiers
...What Richard Gamble has done in this important study is to show that this violent tradition of liberal righteousness extends much further into the past. The War for Righteousness chronicles the story of “progressive” Christian clergy, whom we might expect to be faithful to the Prince of Peace, but who instead overwhelmingly favored U.S. involvement in World War I. German militarism, which they viewed as responsible for the war, was in their eyes a scourge upon civilization that had to be eradicated; otherwise the international order would not be redeemed and ultimately set on the path of righteousness.

That is an important piece of history in itself. But Gamble also shows how these clergymen, caught up in their conviction that the U.S. was at least in some sense the savior of the world, applied to America the same language that Christians had traditionally applied to Christ. The Christian categories and concepts that Social Gospel theologians had found malleable enough to make railroad regulation sound like a direct command of Christ were thus drafted into service in the conflict that had engulfed Europe. It thus became impossible for them to conceive of the war in measured, rational terms: to America they had assigned the righteousness of Christ, and there could be no compromise between Christ and Satan....

... These thinkers likewise criticized a transcendent view of the kingdom of God, suggesting instead that the kingdom of God would be achieved once “justice” had come to characterize human relations and social ills were at last eradicated. According to Rev. C. Arthur Lincoln, pastor of Buffalo’s First Congregational Church, the church’s goal was “not that men should become Christians and thus save their souls from hell but that men should become Christian and work hard to save the world from hell.” It was with such thoughts in mind that progressive Christians threw themselves into the holy cause of World War I.

It was once the conventional wisdom that World War I marked the end of progressivism in America. But as economist and historian Murray N. Rothbard showed, the war in fact represented the culmination of progressivism. The progressive mentality that was so anxious for Americans to shed Jeffersonian cautions about big government was gratified by the domestic consequences of the war. Progressives, who overwhelmingly supported U.S. entry, were delighted at the opportunity both to extend state power through the massive economic planning that Woodrow Wilson adopted during the war and to exploit wartime patriotism to promote collectivism and the idea of service to the state as American values.

And that is just how progressive Christianity saw things as well. Christian Century happily predicted that “the right of the State to commandeer its able-bodied citizens for service will survive the war and will be greatly strengthened by it.” Military training camps, they hoped, would become “permanent features of our national life,” though they would train men for social service rather than for war.

Christian Century likewise spoke of the increasing acknowledgment of “the social sin of the German nation as a whole.” Now that America understood the important progressive Christian concepts of social sin and guilt, it would “be incomparably easier to apply the principle of social sinning to groups and institutions within a single nation and to bring to bear upon them through the social gospel the super-personal forces of condemnation and destruction.” The war had thus facilitated the application of the social gospel both domestically and internationally.

According to Gamble, progressive Christians viewed the war in Manichaean terms rather than as the morally ambiguous clash of imperial rivals that it was. “For some of the clergy,” he explains, “the European War by 1916 had already assumed the character of a holy war.” He quotes a seminary professor as saying that “pacifism does not mean passivity” and “does not renounce physical force.” To remain neutral while Europe fought its own wars “may have been justifiable for our nation in its infancy; it is not now. The pacifists do not advocate any such peace policy as that. Their motive is not safety but service. They would have ours not a hermit nation but a humanitarian nation.”

Gamble cites a number of figures who actually feared that the conflict might end prematurely, before righteousness had had the opportunity to triumph. One progressive Christian told a meeting of the World Alliance for International Friendship Through the Churches, “We do not want the war stopped until peace can be established on the basis of justice. For myself I believe it must be fought out.”

When in December 1916 Woodrow Wilson invited the major powers to state their war aims (as a prelude to possible talks aimed at an end to hostilities), 60 prominent clergymen signed a letter of rebuke to the president. “We are apt to forget,” they wrote, “that there are conditions under which the mere stopping of warfare may bring a curse instead of a blessing. We need to be reminded that peace is the triumph of righteousness and not the mere sheathing of the sword.”

The idiom of the progressive Christian even made its way into the halls of Congress on the eve of war. More than one congressman compared Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world to the divine mission that the U.S. was about to undertake. A New York congressman declared that “Christ gave his life upon the cross that mankind might gain the Kingdom of Heaven, while to-night we shall solemnly decree the sublimest sacrifice ever made by a nation for the salvation of humanity, the institution of world-wide liberty and freedom.”

Gamble contends that in the name of bringing about perpetual peace, progressive clergy, through their crude application of Christian language and concepts to the war and its contending parties, helped to legitimize the 20th century’s first total war....

...In the progressive mindset, the war became the proving ground for Christians who possessed a social consciousness. Instead of focusing on the hereafter, the truly saved Christian was the one who offered himself here and now in service to his fellow man. “The best mark of a ‘saved’ man,” wrote Rev. William P. Merrill in his book Christian Internationalism, “is not that he wants to go to heaven, but that he is willing to go to China, or to the battle-field in France, or to the slums of the city, or to the last dollar of his resources, or to the limit of his energy, to set forward the Kingdom of God.” This is a particularly revealing remark, according to Gamble: “In Merrill’s expansive ideal, there was apparently no distinction between personal redemption, social service, and enlistment in the United States Army.”

Ecumenism is an inevitable byproduct when a pluralistic society goes to war, since it becomes urgent to emphasize that what unites the citizenry is more important than what divides them. Serving in the trenches alongside men of a variety of creeds and performing reciprocal acts of heroism can only have a similar effect.

Recognizing this, a New York Morning Telegraph editorial in 1918 observed that “loyalty to the flag swiftly is coming to be recognized as of equal or even greater virtue than fidelity to a church, a religious sect, or an ordained priesthood. … Soldiers of Moses, soldiers of Christ, and soldiers of Democracy have become unified in the one Grand Army of Liberty, which is giving the only meaning worth while to …‘The Church Militant.’” Thus was the United States made something sacred, higher than all other fidelities and obligations....

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Most Famous Christian of the 20th Century?
Here’s a little trivia question for you. Who was the most famous Christian of the 20th century?

Mother Teresa? Nope. Billy Graham? Nope. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Guess again. Albert Schweitzer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, any and all popes, any and all U.S. presidents…Nah, throw ‘em out.

The most famous Christian of the 20th century was Adolf Hitler.

Sure, we call Hitler infamous today. But before he started gobbling up European countries like they were little bratwurst sausages, Hitler was famous as a world leader with high moral values and a distinctly Christian vision.

In fact, no present politician has more blatantly declared his Christianity than Hitler, or has had his faith so widely accepted. Millions of Christians around the world admired the savvy tyrant; a couple of his more recognizable fans included Britain’s Lloyd George and that all-American idol of idols, Charles Lindbergh. The most appealing of Hitler’s “Christian” attributes included:

•His morality. He did not smoke or drink and he abhorred pornography and homosexuality.

•His call for his nation to repent. “Providence withdrew its protection and our people fell… And in this hour we sink to our knees and beseech our almighty God that He may bless us, that He may give us the strength to carry on the struggle for the freedom, the future, the honor, and the peace of our people. So help us God.” (March 1936)...

...*His war on atheism: “We were convinced that the people need and require [the Christian] faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” (October 1933)

*His blending of church and state: “National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary it stands on the ground of a real Christianity… For their interests cannot fail to coincide with ours alike in our fight against the symptoms of degeneracy in the world of today, in our fight against a Bolshevist culture, against atheistic movement, against criminality, and in our struggle for a consciousness of a community in our national life…These are Christian principles!” (August 1934)

•His faith-based charity: “With a tenth of our budget for religion, we would thus have a Church devoted to the State and of unshakable loyalty.” ...

...On the other hand, Hitler privately loathed Christianity, calling it “a drug” and “senseless,” the “invention of sick brains.” He also perceived it as a potential threat to his leadership, and intended to abolish the church. And let’s not forget: He did make Nazism the official state religion and he replaced school and church Bibles with copies of “Mein Kampf.”...

...f Hitler were an American politician today, based solely on his faith and God-talk, he’d make an attractive candidate to the Christian right.

That Hitler exploited religion for political gain, however, is a given. He knew that he lived in a nation that was overwhelmingly Christian, and he used Christianity to pander to mass idiocy in order to draw the biggest crowd in history....

Lawsuit says officer dumped baby's ashes
A man calls a Mount Dora police search illegal, saying the officer mistook his daughter's remains for cocaine.

TAVARES -- A father who accused a Mount Dora policeman last year of dumping out his infant daughter's cremated remains sued the city and the officer Monday.

Filed in Lake Circuit Court, the lawsuit accuses the city and Officer Brad Cline of illegally stopping and searching Jason Burnham, 34, as he was walking home after Hurricane Charley.

During the stop, Burnham's suit says, Cline emptied the ashes from a cross-shaped pendant worn by Burnham, suspecting it contained cocaine.

"This is probably the most mean-spirited violation of a person's civil rights that I have seen in many years," said Winter Park lawyer Howard Marks, one of Burnham's attorneys. "That conduct is not acceptable -- it's not warranted."

Mount Dora Mayor James Yatsuk would not comment on the case, saying the city's insurance company likely would select the attorney to represent the city.

The seven-count lawsuit accuses the city of false arrest/false imprisonment and detention of Burnham, and violation of his right to privacy. It accuses the city and Cline of invasion of privacy and violation of Burnham's civil rights. Finally, it accuses Cline of intentional infliction of emotional distress on Burnham.

It asks for damages in excess of $15,000 each from the city and the officer.

"Burnham was illegally patted down, illegally searched and illegally detained, all without probable cause or reasonable suspicion that Burnham had committed a crime," the suit states....

...Cline was on patrol Aug. 14 in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley when he said he saw Burnham walking on Highland Street about 2:30 a.m. According to the police report, Cline said Burnham "appeared to be intoxicated."

The officer questioned Burnham about "a variety of issues, including illegal drug use," according to the lawsuit.

Burnham said he had a prescription for Xanax that he was taking because he was depressed over his daughter's death.

After examining the pills, Cline questioned Burnham about the pendant, the lawsuit says. It contained the ashes of Carli Miracle Burnham, who died at the age of 9 months in 2002. She was napping with her father when he mistakenly rolled on top of her, suffocating her. The death was ruled accidental, and no charges were filed.

Taking the pendant from Burnham, the officer broke its seal and dumped the ashes on the hood of his patrol car, the suit says.

"Defendant Cline, after seeing that the ashes were not cocaine, wiped Plaintiff Burnham's daughter's ashes to the ground," the suit says....

Guardsmen Took 'Rent' From Iraqi Businesses
California Army National Guard troops sought unauthorized, off-the-books "rent" from Iraqi-owned businesses inside Baghdad's Green Zone to raise money for a "soldiers fund," military officials and sources within the troops' battalion said Friday.

The disclosure is the latest to emerge from a wide-ranging investigation into the conduct of the 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment of the Guard, which is headquartered in Modesto.

Military officials had confirmed previously that the battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Patrick Frey, had been suspended and that one of the battalion's companies, based in Fullerton, had been removed from patrol duties and restricted to an Army base south of Baghdad....

...Army officials say the total amount involved was $4,000, but troops in the battalion have said the scheme raised more than $30,000. The investigation resulted in disciplinary action against one officer from the battalion's Bravo Company. Army officials declined to reveal the officer's name, and his identity could not be confirmed independently....

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Jim Wallis tells a tired tale: the faith-based politics of a liberal activist are as suspect as Bush's
... As much as I admire the other-centered work of Jim Wallis--as a husband, father, community organizer and writer--I think he's wasting his time and energy arguing in his latest book that he has an inside line to the thinking of his God. "Here's the big news," he writes: "The politics of God calls all the rest of our politics into question.... Clearly, the politics of God is different from ours."

I'd be more accepting of Wallis' views if it weren't for the old saying, "Pay heed to those who seek God but watch out for those who say they've found him"--whether the finder is Bush, Wallis or whomever.

It's futile to mix politics and religion. Ask a dozen people, or a dozen dozen, to define either and no answer is the same. Politics is about perception: yours, mine and everyone else's, and all of it flavored with the subjective. Isn't religion, too, about perceptions--hunches that a God, or gods, exists. With more than 10,000 organized religions now in operation on a planet that Alfred North Whitehead called a third-rate rock spinning around a second-rate sun, we have little more than a jumble of hunches on what may or may not be divine. Does evidence exist that faith-based social justice is more productive than faithless-based?

I realize this is a secularist argument, and it should be. The first mistake of Wallis is to push the idea that public policy and personal theology can not only be compatible but can be mutually supportive--so long-as it's the policies and theological preferences backed by Wallis and not those of the Bush administration. Wallis labels Bush's foreign policy as "bordering on the idolatrous and blasphemous." True enough, except that's been true of every president, all of whom believed in military killing and violence to solve international conflicts.

Wallis's second mistake is to place his faith in government. What will it take for him and other conventional liberals to wake up and see that Tolstoy was right: "Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us"? Instead of fruitlessly hoping to shape up both the political right and the left--as in his book's subtitle, Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It--it might be better for Wallis to join those who oppose, resist and defy the militaristic U.S. government. How? Dozens of ways, from the public witness of the traditional peace churches--Quakers, Mennonites, the Brethren--to those engaged in war tax resistance, boycotts of products of antisocial corporations, civil disobedience, peace education, simple living, refusing jury duty and supporting those who have broken free from the stale notion that government can be reformed with just a little prayerful tinkering....

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The bomb didn't win it
The idea that it was militarily necessary to drop the atomic bomb in 1945 is now discredited. The first exhaustive examination of Japanese, Soviet and US archives, by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, confirms the argument that Truman went ahead in order to get Japan to end the war quickly before the Soviet Union came into the Pacific war and demanded a say in Asia.

The use of atomic weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not provide the US with the free hand it had wanted and has proved disastrous for the world.

The idea that it was militarily necessary to drop the atomic bomb in 1945 is now discredited. The first exhaustive examination of Japanese, Soviet and US archives, by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, confirms the argument that Truman went ahead in order to get Japan to end the war quickly before the Soviet Union came into the Pacific war and demanded a say in Asia.

The use of atomic weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not provide the US with the free hand it had wanted and has proved disastrous for the world.

It did not bring about surrender. With 62 Japanese cities destroyed by firebombs and napalm, Japan was not overwhelmed by the destruction of one more. The army minister, General Korechika Anami, told the supreme war council that he would fight on. What actually brought about surrender was the combination of the Soviet Union's entry into the war on August 8 and the US decision to let Japan retain the emperor....

90-day penalty in fatal shooting
Denver - The police officer who shot and killed Frank Lobato, Jr. after mistaking a soda can for a gun faces a 90-day suspension without pay....

...As police approached, Martinez fled out an upstairs window. Officers, unaware he had left, used a ladder to enter a different second-story bedroom window, where Ford encountered Lobato, who was in ill health, in bed. Ford shot Lobato once in the chest after apparently mistaking the glint of the soda can he was holding for a gun, and Lobato died at the scene....

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Evangelical Chaplains Test Bounds of Faith in Military
Walk into just about any Christian bookstore and you are likely to find a copy of The Soldier's Bible. The leather cover comes in a choice of green for the Army, black for the Navy, burgundy for the Marines, blue for the Air Force and -- just released -- blue for the Coast Guard.

These are handsome Bibles with gilt edges, just the right size for a service member to stuff into his or her pack. Printed on the front is the emblem for the appropriate branch of the armed services. And that's a problem.

One could be excused for thinking that this Bible was put out by the military. But it's not. Holman Bible Publishers of Nashville developed, printed and distributes The Soldier's Bible at its own expense.

Still, critics think the emblem on the front brings up legal questions -- and may even violate the Constitution's ban on government-established religion.

What's especially troubling to some is that this particular Bible is clearly evangelical. Holman Bible Publishers is owned by the Southern Baptist Convention. On the first few pages, there's a "Plan for Salvation" that says you must be baptized as an adult believer to have eternal life.

Printed in the back are inspirational words from military leaders such as Lt. Gen. William Boykin. He raised a few eyebrows back in 2003, when he said of his battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia, "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."

Evangelicals are playing an increasing role in the military. Department of Defense statistics show that 40 percent of active duty personnel are evangelical Christians. Sixty percent of taxpayer-funded military chaplains are evangelical.

"It does raise the question of whether we are, effectively, as a country -- with tax dollars -- promoting a particular evangelical religious viewpoint," said Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Add to that a privately funded evangelical Bible that looks official, and critics say the military has a problem that needs to be addressed.

The Army says the use of its emblem "is authorized in publications and other printed matter of an official or quasi-official nature." The Army's Institute of Heraldry is the keeper of the emblem. If you want to put it on a T-shirt or bumper sticker, you first have to get permission from Stanley Haas at the Institute.

Haas says to his knowledge, Holman was never granted permission to put the Army's emblem on The Soldier's Bible. But he also doesn't keep a list or database of people who've been given permission.

Haas says people simply write in to request permission and he writes back, telling them yes or no. He says that normally, permission would not be granted for anything religious. ...

Men overcompensate when their masculinity is threatened, Cornell study shows
THACA, N.Y. -- Threaten a man's masculinity, and he will assume more macho attitudes, according to a study by a Cornell University researcher.

"I found that if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle," said Robb Willer, a sociology doctoral candidate at Cornell. Willer is presenting his findings Aug. 15 at the American Sociological Association's 100th annual meeting in Philadelphia. ...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Don't get into a lather over sweatshops
...We use "sweatshop" to mean those foreign factories with low pay and poor health and safety standards where employees choose to work, not those where employees are coerced into working by the threat of violence. And we admit that by Western standards, sweatshops have abhorrently low wages and poor working conditions. However, economists point out that alternatives to working in a sweatshop are often much worse: scavenging through trash, prostitution, crime, or even starvation.

Economists across the political spectrum, from Paul Krugman on the left, to Walter Williams on the right, have defended sweatshops. Their reasoning is straightforward: People choose what they perceive to be in their best interest. If workers voluntarily choose to work in sweatshops, without physical coercion, it must be because sweatshops are their best option. Our recent research - the first economic study to compare systematically sweatshop wages with average local wages - demonstrated this to be true.

We examined the apparel industry in 10 Asian and Latin American countries often accused of having sweatshops and then we looked at 43 specific accusations of unfair wages in 11 countries in the same regions. Our findings may seem surprising. Not only were sweatshops superior to the dire alternatives economists usually mentioned, but they often provided a better-than-average standard of living for their workers.

The apparel industry, which is often accused of unsafe working conditions and poor wages, actually pays its foreign workers well enough for them to rise above the poverty in their countries. While more than half of the population in most of the countries we studied lived on less than $2 per day, in 90 percent of the countries, working a 10-hour day in the apparel industry would lift a worker above - often far above - that standard. For example, in Honduras, the site of the infamous Kathy Lee Gifford sweatshop scandal, the average apparel worker earns $13.10 per day, yet 44 percent of the country's population lives on less than $2 per day.

In 9 of the 11 countries we surveyed, the average reported sweatshop wages equaled or exceeded average incomes and in some cases by a large margin. In Cambodia, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras, the average wage paid by a firm accused of being a sweatshop is more than double the average income in that country's economy.

Our findings should not be interpreted to mean that sweatshop jobs in the third world are ideal by US standards. The point is, they are located in developing countries where these jobs are providing a higher wage than other work.

Antisweatshop activists - who argue that consumers should abstain from buying products made in sweatshops - harm workers by trying to stop the trade that funds some of the better jobs in their economies....

Once upon a time, a dangerous radical gained control of the US Republican Party.
Reagan increased the budget for support of the radical Muslim Mujahidin conducting terrorism against the Afghanistan government to half a billion dollars a year.

One fifth of the money, which the CIA mostly turned over to Pakistani military intelligence to distribute, went to Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, a violent extremist who as a youth used to throw acid on the faces of unveiled girls in Afghanistan.

Not content with creating a vast terrorist network to harass the Soviets, Reagan then pressured the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to match US contributions....

...In the US, the Christian Right adopted the Mujahideen as their favorite project. They even sent around a "biblical checklist" for grading US congressman as to how close they were to the "Christian" political line. If a congressman didn't support the radical Muslim Muj, he or she was downgraded by the evangelicals and fundamentalists....

'One of them made cuts in my penis. I was in agony'
Benyam Mohammed travelled from London to Afghanistan in July 2001, but after September 11 he fled to Pakistan. He was arrested at Karachi airport on April 10 2002, and describes being flown by a US government plane to a prison in Morocco. These are extracts from his diary....

Third prosecutor critical of Guantanamo trials
A third US military prosecutor has walked out of the commissions process set up to try Guantanamo Bay detainees because of concerns it was unfair, the ABC has learned....

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

"War is the Health of the State"
by Randolph Bourne (1918)

To most Americans of the classes which consider themselves significant the war [World War I] brought a sense of the sanctity of the State which, if they had had time to think about it, would have seemed a sudden and surprising alteration in their habits of thought. In times of peace, we usually ignore the State in favour of partisan political controversies, or personal struggles for office, or the pursuit of party policies. It is the Government rather than the State with which the politically minded are concerned. The State is reduced to a shadowy emblem which comes to consciousness only on occasions of patriotic holiday.

Government is obviously composed of common and unsanctified men, and is thus a legitimate object of criticism and even contempt. If your own party is in power, things may be assumed to be moving safely enough; but if the opposition is in, then clearly all safety and honor have fled the State. Yet you do not put it to yourself in quite that way. What you think is only that there are rascals to be turned out of a very practical machinery of offices and functions which you take for granted. When we say that Americans are lawless, we usually mean that they are less conscious than other peoples of the august majesty of the institution of the State as it stands behind the objective government of men and laws which we see. In a republic the men who hold office are indistinguishable from the mass. Very few of them possess the slightest personal dignity with which they could endow their political role; even if they ever thought of such a thing. And they have no class distinction to give them glamour. In a republic the Government is obeyed grumblingly, because it has no bedazzlements or sanctities to gild it. If you are a good old-fashioned democrat, you rejoice at this fact, you glory in the plainness of a system where every citizen has become a king. If you are more sophisticated you bemoan the passing of dignity and honor from affairs of State. But in practice, the democrat does not in the least treat his elected citizen with the respect due to a king, nor does the sophisticated citizen pay tribute to the dignity even when he finds it. The republican State has almost no trappings to appeal to the common man's emotions. What it has are of military origin, and in an unmilitary era such as we have passed through since the Civil War, even military trappings have been scarcely seen. In such an era the sense of the State almost fades out of the consciousness of men.

With the shock of war, however, the State comes into its own again. The Government, with no mandate from the people, without consultation of the people, conducts all the negotiations, the backing and filling, the menaces and explanations, which slowly bring it into collision with some other Government, and gently and irresistibly slides the country into war. For the benefit of proud and haughty citizens, it is fortified with a list of the intolerable insults which have been hurled toward us by the other nations; for the benefit of the liberal and beneficent, it has a convincing set of moral purposes which our going to war will achieve; for the ambitious and aggressive classes, it can gently whisper of a bigger role in the destiny of the world. The result is that, even in those countries where the business of declaring war is theoretically in the hands of representatives of the people, no legislature has ever been known to decline the request of an Executive, which has conducted all foreign affairs in utter privacy and irresponsibility, that it order the nation into battle. Good democrats are wont to feel the crucial difference between a State in which the popular Parliament or Congress declares war, and the State in which an absolute monarch or ruling class declares war. But, put to the stern pragmatic test, the difference is not striking. In the freest of republics as well as in the most tyrannical of empires, all foreign policy, the diplomatic negotiations which produce or forestall war, are equally the private property of the Executive part of the Government, and are equally exposed to no check whatever from popular bodies, or the people voting as a mass themselves.

The moment war is declared, however, the mass of the people, through some spiritual alchemy, become convinced that they have willed and executed the deed themselves. They then, with the exception of a few malcontents, proceed to allow themselves to be regimented, coerced, deranged in all the environments of their lives, and turned into a solid manufactory of destruction toward whatever other people may have, in the appointed scheme of things, come within the range of the Government's disapprobation. The citizen throws off his contempt and indifference to Government, identifies himself with its purposes, revives all his military memories and symbols, and the State once more walks, an august presence, through the imaginations of men. Patriotism becomes the dominant feeling, and produces immediately that intense and hopeless confusion between the relations which the individual bears and should bear toward the society of which he is a part.

The patriot loses all sense of the distinction between State, nation, and government....

...War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties; the minorities are either intimidated into silence, or brought slowly around by a subtle process of persuasion which may seem to them really to be converting them. Of course, the ideal of perfect loyalty, perfect uniformity is never really attained. The classes upon whom the amateur work of coercion falls are unwearied in their zeal, but often their agitation instead of converting, merely serves to stiffen their resistance. Minorities are rendered sullen, and some intellectual opinion bitter and satirical. But in general, the nation in wartime attains a uniformity of feeling, a hierarchy of values culminating at the undisputed apex of the State ideal, which could not possibly be produced through any other agency than war. Loyalty - or mystic devotion to the State - becomes the major imagined human value. Other values, such as artistic creation, knowledge, reason, beauty, the enhancement of life, are instantly and almost unanimously sacrificed, and the significant classes who have constituted themselves the amateur agents of the State are engaged not only in sacrificing these values for themselves but in coercing all other persons into sacrificing them....

Monday, August 01, 2005

Exclusive: Secret Memo—Send to Be Tortured
Aug. 8, 2005 issue - An FBI agent warned superiors in a memo three years ago that U.S. officials who discussed plans to ship terror suspects to foreign nations that practice torture could be prosecuted for conspiring to violate U.S. law, according to a copy of the memo obtained by NEWSWEEK. The strongly worded memo, written by an FBI supervisor then assigned to Guantanamo, is the latest in a series of documents that have recently surfaced reflecting unease among some government lawyers and FBI agents over tactics being used in the war on terror. This memo appears to be the first that directly questions the legal premises of the Bush administration policy of "extraordinary rendition"—a secret program under which terror suspects are transferred to foreign countries that have been widely criticized for practicing torture.

In a memo forwarded to a senior FBI lawyer on Nov. 27, 2002, a supervisory special agent from the bureau's behavioral analysis unit offered a legal analysis of interrogation techniques that had been approved by Pentagon officials for use against a high-value Qaeda detainee. After objecting to techniques such as exploiting "phobias" like "the fear of dogs" or dripping water "to induce the misperception of drowning," the agent discussed a plan to send the detainee to Jordan, Egypt or an unspecified third country for interrogation. "In as much as the intent of this category is to utilize, outside the U.S., interrogation techniques which would violate [U.S. law] if committed in the U.S., it is a per se violation of the U.S. Torture Statute," the agent wrote. "Discussing any plan which includes this category could be seen as a con-spiracy to violate [the Torture Statute]" and "would inculpate" everyone involved....

Leaked emails claim Guantanamo trials rigged
Leaked emails from two former prosecutors claim the military commissions set up to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay are rigged, fraudulent, and thin on evidence against the accused.

Two emails, which have been obtained by the ABC, were sent to supervisors in the Office of Military Commissions in March of last year - three months before Australian detainee David Hicks was charged and five months before his trial began.

The first email is from prosecutor Major Robert Preston to his supervisor.

Maj Preston writes that the process is perpetrating a fraud on the American people, and that the cases being pursued are marginal.

"I consider the insistence on pressing ahead with cases that would be marginal even if properly prepared to be a severe threat to the reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people," Maj Preston wrote....