Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Evangelicals Are a Growing Force in the Military Chaplain Corps
COLORADO SPRINGS - There were personal testimonies about Jesus from the stage, a comedian quoting Scripture and a five-piece band performing contemporary Christian praise songs. Then hundreds of Air Force chaplains stood and sang, many with palms upturned, in a service with a distinctively evangelical tone.

It was the opening ceremony of a four-day Spiritual Fitness Conference at a Hilton hotel here last month organized and paid for by the Air Force for many of its United States-based chaplains and their families, at a cost of $300,000. The chaplains, who pledge when they enter the military to minister to everyone, Methodist, Mormon or Muslim, attended workshops on "The Purpose Driven Life," the best seller by the megachurch pastor Rick Warren, and on how to improve their worship services. In the hotel hallways, vendors from Focus on the Family and other evangelical organizations promoted materials for the chaplains to use in their work.

The event was just one indication of the extent to which evangelical Christians have become a growing force in the Air Force chaplain corps, a trend documented by military records and interviews with more than two dozen chaplains and other military officials.

Figures provided by the Air Force show that from 1994 to 2005 the number of chaplains from many evangelical and Pentecostal churches rose, some doubling. For example, chaplains from the Full Gospel Fellowship of Churches and Ministries International increased to 10 from none. The Church of the Nazarene rose to 12 from 6.

At the same time, the number of chaplains from the Roman Catholic Church declined to 94 from 167, and there were declines in more liberal, mainline Protestant churches: the United Church of Christ to 3 from 11, the United Methodist Church to 50 from 64.

Other branches of the military did not make available similar statistics, but officials say they are seeing the same trend....

How Government Medicine Really Works - British Edition
All hell broke out last month, when various National Health Service Trusts in Britain refused to treat women with breast cancer with the drug Herceptin arguing that is was just too costly. The National Health Service (NHS) speedily backed down in the face of public outrage.

Now the NHS wants to limit access to various drugs for Alzheimer's disease patients on the grounds that they are not cost-effective. Actually, there is a lot of research that suggests that delaying the cognitive decline that comes with Alzheimer's saves money because it delays much more costly care, such as admission to assisted living facilities. In any case, the NHS is engaged in pure and simple rationing. ...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Purpose Driven Life Takers
...The game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, is based on scenes from the first four novels in the series. The game was developed by a publicly-traded company called Left Behind Games, according to SEC records. The developers obtained the license from Tyndale House, the Christian publisher of Left Behind.

Tyndale also publishes Bringing Up Boys and The Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide by Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, PhD. Mr. Dobson has advised parents to monitor the amount of time children spend playing video games and "avoid the violent ones altogether." But he has not yet stated his views on whether there should be an exception for video games that role play gunplay in the name of Christ, or of the AntiChrist.

Tyndale's licensing of the project infuriated one of its authors, Jack Thompson, a conservative Christian attorney and outspoken critic of video game violence, who told the Los Angeles Times that he severed ties with his publisher in a dispute over "Left Behind: Eternal Forces."

"It's absurd," said the video critic. "You can be the Christians blowing away the infidels, and if that doesn't hit your hot button, you can be the Antichrist blowing away all the Christians."

The firm's CEO is relying on network marketing through pastoral networks as a key part of his business plan...

Friday, May 26, 2006

'The greens want to do right, but they are so wrong'
Meet the Sixties black civil rights activist who now thinks that environmentalism is one of the greatest threats to Africa.

‘We are fighting the same battle, for the liberation of black people. In the past that meant taking on old racists and colonialists – now it means challenging environmentalists too.’

Roy Innis doesn’t mince words. As national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the New York-based black civil rights group founded in the Forties, he has caused a mighty stink with his attacks on greens. Innis thinks that environmentalist thinking is helping to ‘strangle Africa’. He argues that European Union restrictions on the use of the pesticide DDT to combat malaria are ‘killing black babies’; that Western liberals’ handwringing over genetically modified crops and food is ‘holding Africa back’; and that ideas of sustainable development are causing a ‘stagnation in African development’. As you can imagine, he hasn’t made himself especially popular in the process – he’s even earned the tag ‘Uncle Tom’, a stooge for Big (White) Business, from some of the more intemperate greens.

‘Yeah, I’ve heard that one’, he says. ‘I’d like to know where these people were in the Fifties and Sixties when my organisation provided the shock troops on the civil rights battlefield. Look at my work on civil rights and you’ll see I’m the opposite of an Uncle Tom.’

How has the chairman of an organisation whose members confronted the racist cops and KKK members of the American Deep South in the heady summer of ’64 ended up eye-balling greens, those usually well-meaning young trendies, in 2006?...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The end of 'more'
A Democratic stalwart warns that labor's old strategy can't win against a new competitive reality.
By George S. McGovern, GEORGE S. MCGOVERN, a former U.S. senator from South Dakota, was the Democratic nominee for president in 1972.

...It can be galling to hear companies argue that they have to cut wages and benefits for hourly workers — even as they reward top executives with millions of dollars in stock options. The chief executive of Wal-Mart earns $27 million a year, while the company's average worker takes home only about $10 an hour. But let's assume that the chief executive got 27 cents instead of $27 million, and that Wal-Mart distributed the savings to its hourly workers. They would each receive a bonus of less than $20. It's not executive pay that has created this new world.

I understand the attraction of asking business — the perceived "deep pockets" — to shoulder more of the responsibility for social welfare. But there are plenty of businesses that don't have deep pockets. And many large corporations operate with razor-thin profit margins as competitors, both foreign and domestic, strive to attract consumers by offering lower prices.

The current frenzy over Wal-Mart is instructive. Its size is unprecedented. Yet for all its billions in profit, it still amounts to less than four cents on the dollar. Raise the cost of employing people, and the company will eliminate jobs. Its business model only works on low prices, which require low labor costs. Whether that is fair or not is a debate for another time. It is instructive, however, that consumers continue to enjoy these low prices and that thousands of applicants continue to apply for those jobs....

Pastor: Lord Revealed Next Fla. Governor
A reverend who introduced Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist during a breakfast with other pastors Monday said the Lord came to him in a dream two years ago and told him Crist would be the state's next governor.

The Rev. O'Neal Dozier said that before the dream he did not know Crist, nor had Crist made known his plans to run for governor.

"The Lord Jesus spoke to me and he said 'There's something I want you to know,'" said Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach. "'Charlie Crist will be the next governor of the state of Florida.'"

Since then, Dozier has spent time with Crist and talked with him at length about policy. He told the group that Crist would be uncompromising in his Christian faith.

"I introduce to you, as the Lord Jesus has said, the next governor of the state of Florida, Charlie Crist," Dozier said....

BattleCry: Ron Luce's Holy War
...But how long must we put up with a world where religion plays a role in whipping up people to kill others, as in the case of Christian fascist general Jerry Boykin, who said in speaking about his Muslim opponent in Somalia : “I knew that my God was bigger than his.” (Boykin’s troops lost that battle, by the way.)

Graham next told the biblical story of Daniel “taming the Babylonians.” After celebrating the U.S. troops who are killing people by the thousands in Iraq right now, he preached that there is “no difference between the Iraqis today and Babylon 1,000 years ago.” In the Bible, Babylon is the epitome of evil and decadence. All manner of bloodlust and plunder against it is not just condoned but celebrated. As Psalm 137:9 spells out, even the babies are to be dashed against the rocks.

While calling on the youths present to engage in this “battle for the souls of men,” he declared: “No souls can be saved without the shedding of blood. Blood must be shed!”

Shortly thereafter the large screen above the stadium lit up with images of Navy SEALs making their way from backstage. Dressed in camouflage, carrying automatic weapons, kicking down doors and firing blanks into empty rooms along their way, they seemed like the embodiments of the house-to-house raids and indiscriminate killings that have been seen in rare footage that made its way out of Iraq.

Fireworks exploded and flames billowed as Ron Luce greeted the warriors, bragging that all of them had been involved in real battles. They are part of FORCE Ministries, a Christian organization composed of current and retired Navy SEALs, law enforcement members and other military personnel who evangelize at events like these and conduct Bible study sessions at military bases around the world. Among those on stage was a SEAL just back from Afghanistan and a member of a police SWAT team. All of them are trained to kill, and they apparently do so or have done so in the belief that God sanctions their actions.

One of the SEALs recounted how, at boot camp, he had been forced to surrender his entire will to the demands of his instructor. Luce stepped in to tell the audience: “That is your youth pastor. He’s going to make you a SEAL for Christ.” Of course, the great Commander of this religious army is God, who issues his foot soldiers armor—“a shield of faith, a belt of truth, and boots of preparedness,” according to Luce—as well as “offensive weapons” like the “sword of the spirit” and the “word of God.”

This merging of God’s army and the U.S. military echoed the event that opened the day: the reading of a letter of greeting and blessing from George W. Bush. After the reading, a minister led thousands to bow their heads and thank the Lord for giving them George Bush, the commander in chief of America’s military. ...

WTF? 'Navy SEALS' at Christian Youth Rally?
A simple question, really: what are Navy SEALS doing attending a Christian youth rally in Philadelphia earlier this month?...

Fear and Loathing at Philadelphia's BattleCry
It began with fireworks so loud and startling I screamed. Lights and smoke followed, and a few kids were pulled up on stage from the crowd. One was asked to read a letter.

This was the letter that opened the event. Its author was George W. Bush. Yes, the president of the United States sent a letter of support, greeting, prayer and encouragement to the BattleCry event held at Wachovia Spectrum Stadium in Philadelphia on May 12. Immediately afterward, a preacher took the microphone and led the crowd in prayer. Among other things, he asked the attendees to “Thank God for giving us George Bush.”

On his cue, about 17,000 youths from upward of 2,000 churches across America and Canada directed their thanks heavenward in unison. ...

...Luce used this critique of pew-sitting Christians to assuage the doubts of the youths at the rally who may have been feeling uncertain about their commitment to the Church. “Don’t worry,” he was telling them, “you’ve been amongst pew-sitters--watered-down Christians. Welcome to the reign of total submission to the Lord.”

It was a mantra Luce repeated all through the night: the need to submit one’s self fully to Jesus, to belong completely to Him.

“He doesn’t just want to be in your heart, He wants to own your heart.... There’s only one good reason to come to Christ: because He’s the rightful owner of your life.... You don’t have to know much about Jesus, just enough to surrender your whole life.”

Throughout this section, a loud crowd from the back of the stadium would periodically erupt, “We are warriors!”...

...I and about 20 people representing various anti-Bush, atheistic and anti-Iraq-war factions made our way into the rally and began interacting with the youths assembled. Some said openly that it was OK that George Bush’s lies have cost the lives of thousands of Americans and Iraqis. Why was it OK? Because “God put him [Bush] there.” ...

...Update #2: User-submitted photos available: page 1 and page 2 (Including images of Navy SEALs addressing the crowd...

American Gulag
According to new data from the U.S. Department of Justice, one in 136 Americans is behind bars today, including an astounding 12 percent of all black men between the ages of 25 and 29. The United States represents 4.6 percent of the world's population, but houses nearly 23 percent of humanity's prison population. Certainly, part of this is likely due to politicians' unfortunate habit of addressing every social problem with a new law, but much of it is due to our ever-more-draconian drug laws. A few more statistics to chew on from the latest edition of Drug War Facts, published by Common Sense for Drug Policy...

Clinton's Guantanamo
How the Democratic president set the stage for a land without law.

...True, the Bush administration's record on that score has been nothing short of shameful. Our government has, with its actions there, harmed apparently innocent people, alienated loyal allies, created a rallying cry for jihadists, and increased the dangers to our own troops if they're ever captured. What's overlooked in the smug condemnations, however, is that the Clinton administration helped pave the way for this current mess.

We sometimes forget that during the Clinton presidency, the United States ran an extralegal detention camp on Guantanamo—and went to federal court to defend its right to do so. The camp during the Clinton years was by no means the nightmarish operation it is now; certainly, there weren't allegations of torture. But Guantanamo under Clinton produced its own share of suffering and abuses—and perhaps most important for today, the court decision that shut it down was eventually wiped off the books, thanks to legal maneuvers by the Clinton Justice Department....

...In response, the Clinton administration finally shut down the camp and allowed the Haitians to come to the United States. At the same time, though, the administration managed to undo the new precedent recognizing due process rights for foreigners on Guantanamo. In negotiations with attorneys for the refugees, the Justice Department agreed that it would not appeal the ruling, but only if the lower court decision was vacated—that is, erased from the books. The refugees' lawyers agreed to the deal because they feared they would lose if the case went to the Supreme Court, which had already intervened in favor of the government at earlier stages of the litigation. As a result, the judge's landmark decision that due process applies on Guantanamo doesn't exist anymore, technically speaking.

Why did the Clinton Justice Department insist on snuffing out the precedential value of the Guantanamo ruling? In later interviews, Clinton national security officials explained that they feared future refugee crises in the Caribbean and couldn't afford a court precedent that might limit their options for handling the situation. Using words that have a prophetic ring today, one official commented that White House advisers wanted "maximum flexibility" on Guantanamo, "confident that they would do the right thing but not wanting to be forced by the law to have to do so."

...But of course, the Bush dynasty was interrupted by Bill Clinton in 1992—and his record on Guantanamo was an ugly one. Despite signals on the campaign trail that he intended to shut down the camp, Clinton changed his mind. As a result, the refugees remained, even after he assumed office, in leaky barracks with poor sanitation, surrounded by razor wire and guard towers. They responded with a hunger strike, and after raucous protests against their confinement, a number were thrown in the naval brig as if they were criminals. (Here's a videotape of a crackdown against the Haitians while Bush I was still running the camp.) Worse still, federal authorities refused to release the sickest Haitians, even though military physicians on Guantanamo lacked the means to treat them.

The Clinton White House justified this atrocious conduct in terms that sound strikingly familiar today. Justice Department attorneys maintained that foreigners held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay have absolutely no legal rights, whether under the Constitution, federal statutes, or international law. According to this logic, the Clinton White House was free to treat the detainees however it pleased. (There was some plagiarism here. The Clinton folks took this argument from the Bush administration lawyers who'd first defended the camp.)...

...In response, the Clinton administration finally shut down the camp and allowed the Haitians to come to the United States. At the same time, though, the administration managed to undo the new precedent recognizing due process rights for foreigners on Guantanamo. In negotiations with attorneys for the refugees, the Justice Department agreed that it would not appeal the ruling, but only if the lower court decision was vacated—that is, erased from the books. The refugees' lawyers agreed to the deal because they feared they would lose if the case went to the Supreme Court, which had already intervened in favor of the government at earlier stages of the litigation. As a result, the judge's landmark decision that due process applies on Guantanamo doesn't exist anymore, technically speaking.

Why did the Clinton Justice Department insist on snuffing out the precedential value of the Guantanamo ruling? In later interviews, Clinton national security officials explained that they feared future refugee crises in the Caribbean and couldn't afford a court precedent that might limit their options for handling the situation. Using words that have a prophetic ring today, one official commented that White House advisers wanted "maximum flexibility" on Guantanamo, "confident that they would do the right thing but not wanting to be forced by the law to have to do so." ...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Onward Christian Soldiers
It is the day before Independence Day in the Year of Our Lord, 2005, and our men and women in uniform are fighting overseas for our God-given freedom. That's what a few thousand worshipers have come to hear about during the 10:30 morning service at Grace Church, the casinolike "independent evangelical" complex that sits amid the rolling hills of Eden Prairie. The arena-sized parking lot is filled with newish cars and trucks, including a souped-up Lexus adorned with American flags, flag decals, and 1280 The Patriot bumper stickers. Parked next to that is a sedan whose lone sticker testifies, "Mary Kay: Enriching Women's Lives." ...

...The 4,400-seat church, which rivals anything the Hennepin theater district has to offer, is nearly full....

...Parker then introduces the day's guest speaker: Bob Dees, leader of Campus Crusade for Christ Military Ministry ( The theme of Dees's sermon is advertised on the screens: "Faith in the Foxhole and Hope on the Homefront: Liberty in Christ." Dees is a retired general and former Microsoft executive. His hair is browner than you'd guess for a man his age, and apparently bulletproof. Accompanying him to the stage is his wife, Kathleen, whom he calls a "good army wife" because she has stood by him for 31 years and moved their family 23 times. He clasps her by her shoulders, then gently guides her back to her place in the front row. She never says a word.

"We are a ministry to the armed forces of the United States, and to the armed forces of the world, seeking to win the nations of the world and the militaries of the world," begins Dees. "We have several ministries. One is to the enlisted members of all the defense forces of the United States. We touch every recruit that comes through the armed forces of the United States. And then we seek to evangelize and disciple them through their careers, making them ambassadors in uniform. ...

...He continues, "We have heard all about weapons of mass destruction. There's been a search for weapons of mass destruction. I'm here today to testify that we have found the weapons of mass destruction. It is Satan's artillery. Satan is a master of deceit: temptation, pride, isolation, deception, self-sufficiency, anger, and malice of all forms. Satan's weapons of mass destruction rage all about us, and these weapons are every bit as real as Saddam Hussein's scud missiles. As the North Korean artillery. Every bit as potent as Al Qaeda." ...

...Another soldier is now onscreen, speaking by video from an undisclosed location. He is the chaplain Lt. Carey Cash, author of A Table in the Presence: The Dramatic Account of How a U.S. Marine Battalion Experienced God's Presence Amidst the Chaos of the War in Iraq ($19.99, W. Publishing Group). He is young and eager, flush with a military crew cut and ruddy cheeks. If Dees is the grandfather of the movement, Cash is the next generation.

He reiterates all of Dees's talking points and tells his captive Grace Church audience--which includes napping adults, reverent adults, wish-I-was-onstage adults, and bored kids who look at their parents quizzically--"First we get the military, then we get the nation." ...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Minister beat girl with stick, cops say
Pastor didn't believe story she was molested, Elgin authorities allege

The pastor of an Elgin church has been charged with battery after it was alleged that he repeatedly used a piece of wood to discipline a 12-year-old girl.

Police said the girl's mother took her to the pastor because she doubted the girl's claim that she was being sexually abused by another man.

Elgin police said Thursday they believe the girl's original allegations are true. On Wednesday they charged Daryl Bujak, 30, pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church, with misdemeanor battery. He was released after posting $500 bail. He has a June 16 court appearance in the Elgin branch of Kane County Circuit Court, said police Lt. Mike Turner.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "It's a sad case for this girl."

Matthew E. Resh, 33, of Ingleside, was charged this week by police in far north suburban Richmond with five counts of predatory criminal sexual assault. The girl was sexually abused between September 2003 and March 2005, according to a complaint filed in McHenry County Circuit Court.

Allegations that the child was disciplined by the pastor after trying to tell her mother about abuse shocked child-welfare advocates....

Lawmaker: Marines killed Iraqis ‘in cold blood’
WASHINGTON - A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood," a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.

From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children.

One young Iraqi girl said the Marines killed six members of her family, including her parents. “The Americans came into the room where my father was praying,” she said, “and shot him.”

On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the accounts are true.

Military officials told NBC News that the Marine Corps' own evidence appears to show Murtha is right.

A videotape taken by an Iraqi showed the aftermath of the alleged attack: a blood-smeared bedroom floor and bits of what appear to be human flesh and bullet holes on the walls.

The video, obtained by Time magazine, was broadcast a day after town residents told The Associated Press that American troops entered homes on Nov. 19 and shot dead 15 members of two families, including a 3-year-old girl, after a roadside bomb killed a U.S. Marine.

On Nov. 20, U.S. Marines spokesman Capt. Jeffrey Pool issued a statement saying that on the previous day a roadside bomb had killed 15 civilians and a Marine. In a later gunbattle, U.S. and Iraqi troops killed eight insurgents, he said.

U.S. military officials later confirmed that the version of events was wrong....

...Military officials say Marine Corp photos taken immediately after the incident show many of the victims were shot at close range, in the head and chest, execution-style. One photo shows a mother and young child bent over on the floor as if in prayer, shot dead, said the officials, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity because the investigation hasn't been completed.

One military official says it appears the civilians were deliberately killed by the Marines, who were outraged at the death of their fellow Marine.

“This one is ugly," one official told NBC News....

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Anatomy of the State
...We must, therefore, emphasize that "we" are not the government; the government is not "us." The government does not in any accurate sense "represent" the majority of the people.[1] But, even if it did, even if 70 percent of the people decided to murder the remaining 30 percent, this would still be murder and would not be voluntary suicide on the part of the slaughtered minority.[2] No organicist metaphor, no irrelevant bromide that "we are all part of one another," must be permitted to obscure this basic fact.

If, then, the State is not "us," if it is not "the human family" getting together to decide mutual problems, if it is not a lodge meeting or country club, what is it? Briefly, the State is that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area; in particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion. While other individuals or institutions obtain their income by production of goods and services and by the peaceful and voluntary sale of these goods and services to others, the State obtains its revenue by the use of compulsion; that is, by the use and the threat of the jailhouse and the bayonet.[3] Having used force and violence to obtain its revenue, the State generally goes on to regulate and dictate the other actions of its individual subjects. One would think that simple observation of all States through history and over the globe would be proof enough of this assertion; but the miasma of myth has lain so long over State activity that elaboration is necessary.

Man is born naked into the world, and needing to use his mind to learn how to take the resources given him by nature, and to transform them (for example, by investment in "capital") into shapes and forms and places where the resources can be used for the satisfaction of his wants and the advancement of his standard of living. The only way by which man can do this is by the use of his mind and energy to transform resources ("production") and to exchange these products for products created by others. Man has found that, through the process of voluntary, mutual exchange, the productivity and hence the living standards of all participants in exchange may increase enormously. The only "natural" course for man to survive and to attain wealth, therefore, is by using his mind and energy to engage in the production-and-exchange process. He does this, first, by finding natural resources, and then by transforming them (by "mixing his labor" with them, as Locke puts it), to make them his individual property, and then by exchanging this property for the similarly obtained property of others. The social path dictated by the requirements of man's nature, therefore, is the path of "property rights" and the "free market" of gift or exchange of such rights. Through this path, men have learned how to avoid the "jungle" methods of fighting over scarce resources so that A can only acquire them at the expense of B and, instead, to multiply those resources enormously in peaceful and harmonious production and exchange.

The great German sociologist Franz Oppenheimer pointed out that there are two mutually exclusive ways of acquiring wealth; one, the above way of production and exchange, he called the "economic means." The other way is simpler in that it does not require productivity; it is the way of seizure of another's goods or services by the use of force and violence. This is the method of one-sided confiscation, of theft of the property of others. This is the method which Oppenheimer termed "the political means" to wealth. It should be clear that the peaceful use of reason and energy in production is the "natural" path for man: the means for his survival and prosperity on this earth. It should be equally clear that the coercive, exploitative means is contrary to natural law; it is parasitic, for instead of adding to production, it subtracts from it. The "political means" siphons production off to a parasitic and destructive individual or group; and this siphoning not only subtracts from the number producing, but also lowers the producer's incentive to produce beyond his own subsistence. In the long run, the robber destroys his own subsistence by dwindling or eliminating the source of his own supply. But not only that; even in the short run, the predator is acting contrary to his own true nature as a man.

We are now in a position to answer more fully the question: what is the State? The State, in the words of Oppenheimer, is the "organization of the political means"; it is the systematization of the predatory process over a given territory.[4] For crime, at best, is sporadic and uncertain; the parasitism is ephemeral, and the coercive, parasitic lifeline may be cut off at any time by the resistance of the victims. The State provides a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property; it renders certain, secure, and relatively "peaceful" the lifeline of the parasitic caste in society.[5] Since production must always precede predation, the free market is anterior to the State....

...Once a State has been established, the problem of the ruling group or "caste" is how to maintain their rule.[7] While force is their modus operandi, their basic and long-run problem is ideological. For in order to continue in office, any government (not simply a "democratic" government) must have the support of the majority of its subjects. This support, it must be noted, need not be active enthusiasm; it may well be passive resignation as if to an inevitable law of nature. But support in the sense of acceptance of some sort it must be; else the minority of State rulers would eventually be outweighed by the active resistance of the majority of the public. Since predation must be supported out of the surplus of production, it is necessarily true that the class constituting the State – the full-time bureaucracy (and nobility) – must be a rather small minority in the land, although it may, of course, purchase allies among important groups in the population. Therefore, the chief task of the rulers is always to secure the active or resigned acceptance of the majority of the citizens.[8] [9]

Of course, one method of securing support is through the creation of vested economic interests. Therefore, the King alone cannot rule; he must have a sizable group of followers who enjoy the prerequisites of rule, for example, the members of the State apparatus, such as the full-time bureaucracy or the established nobility.[10] But this still secures only a minority of eager supporters, and even the essential purchasing of support by subsidies and other grants of privilege still does not obtain the consent of the majority. For this essential acceptance, the majority must be persuaded by ideology that their government is good, wise and, at least, inevitable, and certainly better than other conceivable alternatives. Promoting this ideology among the people is the vital social task of the "intellectuals." For the masses of men do not create their own ideas, or indeed think through these ideas independently; they follow passively the ideas adopted and disseminated by the body of intellectuals. The intellectuals are, therefore, the "opinion-molders" in society. And since it is precisely a molding of opinion that the State most desperately needs, the basis for age-old alliance between the State and the intellectuals becomes clear.

It is evident that the State needs the intellectuals; it is not so evident why intellectuals need the State. Put simply, we may state that the intellectual's livelihood in the free market is never too secure; for the intellectual must depend on the values and choices of the masses of his fellow men, and it is precisely characteristic of the masses that they are generally uninterested in intellectual matters. The State, on the other hand, is willing to offer the intellectuals a secure and permanent berth in the State apparatus; and thus a secure income and the panoply of prestige. For the intellectuals will be handsomely rewarded for the important function they perform for the State rulers, of which group they now become a part.[11] ...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Young & the Sexless
...Chastity is a new organizing principle of the Christian right, built on the notion that virgins are among God's last loyal defenders, knights and ladies of a forgotten kingdom. Sex outside of marriage is, in the words of D. James Kennedy, pastor of the influential Coral Ridge Ministries in Florida, "an uprising against God." But if sex is the perfect enemy of the blessed lifestyle, it is also the Holy Grail for those who wait: "A symphony of the soul for married couples," according to John Hagee, author of What Every Man Wants in a Woman.

"Abstinence," says Dunbar, "is countercultural," a kind of rebellion, he says, against materialism, consumerism and "the idea that anything can be bought and sold." It is a spiritual war against the world, against "sensuality," according to one virginity manual popular with men like Dunbar. This elevation of virginity -- especially for men -- as a way of understanding yourself and your place in the world is new. It's also very old. First-century Christians took the idea so seriously that many left their wives for "house monasteries," threatening the very structure of the family. The early church responded by institutionalizing virginity through a priestly caste set apart from the world, a condition that continues to this day within Roman Catholicism. Now, though, the Protestants of the Christian right are reclaiming that two-tiered system, only they're projecting it onto individual lives, making every young man and woman part of an elite virgin corps.

"The world hasn't yet seen what God can do with an army of young men free of sexual fevers," write the authors of Every Young Man's Battle, one volume in a hugely popular series of "purity" manuals. "You can remain pure so that you might qualify for such an army."...

Evangelicals and U.S. foreign policy
...As I alluded to earlier, evangelical conservatives are a constituency among whom the belief is widespread that God put Bush in the presidency for "such a time as this." And Bush has projected this idea of a divine presidency onto the war on terror, talking about a "crusade" against "evildoers," and refusing to distance himself from comments by evangelical leaders he's extremely close to such as Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham who set off international incidents by calling Mohammed a terrorist and Islam an "evil, wicked religion." He went so far as to tell Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, that God told him to strike down Saddam Hussein. He stood in the Rose Garden and announced that one of the reasons he went to war on the Taliban was to rescue two Christian missionaries who'd been jailed there for proselytizing. As all of the official justifications for the war in Iraq have fallen away, the WMDs and the Saddam-Al Qaeda connection, as even the fantasy of establishing a democracy there fades, all that's left are Bush's metaphysical justifications. The problem is, while Bush may have cultivated the idea of a Holy War against Islam because it played so well among evangelicals at home--and it has--that message has been absorbed all too well by Muslims abroad. We see it in the Ahmadinejad letter. We see it in the recorded messages from Osama bin Laden. Bush's evangelical rhetoric is not only providing an alibi for an increasingly unjustifiable war, it is also, in effect, helping to mobilize attacks on the United States.

Even more disturbing, this evangelical view of the war has filtered into the conduct of the war itself. Inside military academies we have evangelical commanding officers forcibly proselytizing cadets. We have military chaplains in Iraq forcing soldiers to get baptized if they want a bath. We have missionaries such as Franklin Graham coming in behind the barrel of a gun and distributing Christianity with food aid. American evangelicals have already set up at least seven new evangelical churches in Iraq, whose proselytizing has inflamed tensions between Iraqi Christians and Muslims. We have a general, Gerry Boykin, overseeing intelligence-collecting operations in the war on terror, who has said publicly and repeatedly that the war on terror is a war against Satan--a war being fought by a Christian army. And given all this, not so surprisingly, we have military police torturing detainees not only with electroshock, stress positions, and waterboarding, but by using Christianity as a weapon against Islam, forcing devout Muslims to eat pork and drink alcohol, or in the words of one Abu Ghraib detainee, "They ordered me to curse Islam, and because they started to hit my broken leg, I cursed my religion. They ordered me to thank Jesus I'm alive. And I did what they ordered me."...

...While surveys show that most Americans generally support Israel, they show that evangelical interest in Israel is guided by the Bible.

For some, it is belief in an End Times theology with roots in the Book of Revelation, a vision in which Christ can only return to Earth after all Jews return to Biblical Israel. It's an anti-Semitic vision in which Jews will then either accept Christ or die horrible deaths, but in the current, pre-millenial moment, it translates into a commitment to Israel as a Jewish state and support for Jewish settlers in greater Israel, including the Occupied Territories.

For others, it is simply a belief that God granted the Holy Land to the Jewish people, and that God blesses those who bless his Chosen People. But even without the End Times factor, this translates into a commitment to supporting Jewish ownership of all of Biblical Israel, again, including much of the West Bank.

In policy terms, this means that a growing Christian Zionist lobby - whose major players are meeting in July to launch a new national organization that may soon eclipse the power of AIPAC on Capitol Hill - a growing conservative evangelical lobby, with enormous influence on Capitol Hill and in the White House, is lobbying for positions that are far to the right of the Israeli government itself. While the majority of American Jews and the majority of Israelis support some kind of land-for-peace deal, conservative evangelicals have, on the whole, fought tooth and nail against Palestinian control over any portion of what they call Judea and Samaria. It is fair to call this influence disastrously obstructionist of any possibility for Israeli/Palestinian peace....

Sick suffer while wait grows
AN AVERAGE of 83 seriously ill or injured people each day are stranded on emergency department trolleys for more than 12 hours.

Secret figures obtained by the Sunday Herald Sun show 30,332 Victorians in 2005 waited on trolleys for more than 12 hours before being admitted to wards.
That is nearly three times the 1999 total of 12,603.

The damning statistics were obtained through a Freedom of Information request. The State Government ditched trolley figures from its public statement on hospitals' performance in 2004.

Health experts say the system is at breaking point, with hospitals running at 96-99 per cent occupancy, when they should be at 85 per cent.

Opposition health spokeswoman Helen Shardey said emergency departments were in meltdown because of Labor Government neglect.

"The Government spends millions of dollars on health advertising and goes to extraordinary lengths to hide the truth about what's happening in our hospitals. It it time they were held to account," she said....

Monday, May 15, 2006

As Mexican President Vicente Fox backs off a bill to legalize possession of small quantities of illegal drugs, including cocaine and heroin, it is worth remembering some of the obvious reasons why drugs should remain illegal.

For one thing, as many have argued, the unenforceable prohibition on drugs brings the law into contempt. When average citizens of your country know they are criminals, they lose respect for law and for the agents of the law.

But contempt for the law is the sure -- indeed really the only -- sign of a free people. People who respect the law simply on the grounds that it is law deserve every nasty little thing that happens to them after that. They ought to spend some time cultivating moral and intellectual autonomy....

...Secondly, of course, in a situation of legalization, the government would regulate drugs, and massively profit through tax revenues. That is the last thing that anyone should want.

In Pennsylvania, where I live, the state is currently the only authorized distributor of wine, liquor, and gambling services. It's hard even to come up with a decent bottle of champagne or a reasonable game of cards (hard, but, thank God, not impossible). Most states are extremely dependent on income from the tobacco settlement and from taxes on cigarettes.

The government is already the primary purveyor of vice in our great nation, and it's a small step from here to a government that's your primary pornographer, pimp, and narcotics dealer. I would not object to this at all if they delivered these key services efficiently. But no....

Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling
A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation....

Bitter Ironies
Remember when conservatives wrote books with titles like Absolute Power: the Legacy of Corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department? Those were the days. But here’s a new selection from the Conservative Book Club: Can She Be Stopped? Hillary Clinton Will Be the Next President of the United States Unless… What? I don’t know, but that’s the title of a new book from John Podhoretz of NRO and the New York Post.

What I do know is that if Hillary is the next president, she’ll be able to lay claim to a number of vast, extraconstitutional powers championed by right-wingers like, uh, John Podhoretz. Among those powers is the ”inherent executive authority” to wiretap at will and, perhaps, to seize American citizens on American soil and hold them without charges for the duration of the war on terror — in other words, forever.

The ’90s weren’t that long ago. And I remember a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over misused FBI Files and suspicious IRS audits. Over the last four and a half years, many of the same wailers and gnashers have cheer-led the concentration of unreviewable power in the executive branch, as if George W. Bush would be the last president ever to wield that power. And now, lo and behold, there’s the mistress of Travelgate warming up in the on-deck circle. Join me in a bitter chuckle....

Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism
A teenage modern dance troupe dressed all in black took their places on the stage of the First Baptist Church of Pleasant Grove, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. Two dancers, donning black overcoats, crossed their arms menacingly. As a Christian pop ballad swelled on the speakers, a boy wearing judicial robes walked out. Holding a Ten Commandments tablet that seemed to be made of cardboard, he was playing former Alabama Supreme Court justice Roy Moore. The trench-coated thugs approached him, miming a violent rebuke and forcing him to the other end of the stage, sans Commandments.

There, a cluster of dancers impersonating liberal activists waved signs with slogans like "No Moore!" and "Keep God Out!! No God in Court." The boy Moore danced a harangue, first lurching toward his tormentors and then cringing back in outrage before breaking through their line to lunge for his monument. But the dancers in trench coats -- agents of atheism -- got hold of it first and took it away, leaving him abject on the floor. As the song's uplifting chorus played -- "After you've done all you can, you just stand" -- a dancer in a white robe, playing either an angel or God himself, came forward and helped the Moore character to his feet.

The performance ended to enthusiastic applause from a crowd that included many Alabama judges and politicians, as well as Roy Moore himself, a gaunt man with a courtly manner and the wrath of Leviticus in his eyes. Moore has become a hero to those determined to remake the United States into an explicitly Christian nation. That reconstructionist dream lies at the red-hot center of our current culture wars, investing the symbolic fight over the Ten Commandments -- a fight whose outcome seems irrelevant to most peoples' lives -- with an apocalyptic urgency. ...

...A few days before Bush's second inauguration, The New York Times carried a story headlined "Warning from a Student of Democracy's Collapse" about Fritz Stern, a refugee from Nazi Germany, professor emeritus of history at Columbia, and scholar of fascism. It quoted a speech he had given in Germany that drew parallels between Nazism and the American religious right. "Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics," he was quoted saying of prewar Germany, "but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured [Hitler's] success, notably in Protestant areas."

It's not surprising that Stern is alarmed. Reading his forty-five-year-old book "The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology," I shivered at its contemporary resonance. "The ideologists of the conservative revolution superimposed a vision of national redemption upon their dissatisfaction with liberal culture and with the loss of authoritative faith," he wrote in the introduction. "They posed as the true champions of nationalism, and berated the socialists for their internationalism, and the liberals for their pacifism and their indifference to national greatness."

Fascism isn't imminent in America. But its language and aesthetics are distressingly common among Christian nationalists. History professor Roger Griffin described the "mobilizing vision" of fascist movements as "the national community rising Phoenix-like after a period of encroaching decadence which all but destroyed it" (his italics). The Ten Commandments has become a potent symbol of this dreamed-for resurrection on the American right. ...

...Speaking to outsiders, most Christian nationalists say they're simply responding to anti-Christian persecution. They say that secularism is itself a religion, one unfairly imposed on them. They say they're the victims in the culture wars. But Christian nationalist ideologues don't want equality, they want dominance. In his book "The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action," George Grant, former executive director of D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries, wrote:

"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.
But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less...
Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Air Force to Examine Fundraising E-Mail Sent by a General
Message Praised Candidate's Christianity

The Air Force is investigating whether a two-star general violated military regulations by urging fellow Air Force Academy graduates to make campaign contributions to a Republican candidate for Congress in Colorado, Pentagon officials said yesterday.

Maj. Gen. Jack J. Catton Jr., who is on active duty at Langley Air Force Base, sent the fundraising appeal on Thursday from his official e-mail account to more than 200 fellow members of the academy's class of 1976, many of whom are also on active duty.

"We are certainly in need of Christian men with integrity and military experience in Congress," Catton wrote.

Defense Department rules prohibit active-duty officers from using their position to solicit campaign contributions or seek votes for a particular candidate. An Air Force spokesman said yesterday that "appropriate officials are inquiring into the facts surrounding these e-mails."...

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Hollywood Actor's Burden
Why are those, like George Clooney, who opposed Bush's war in Iraq now calling on the president to 'Save Darfur'?

...Some of the same journalists who wrote scathing reports about America's impact on Iraq are now in Darfur asking when the 'international community' will come to help a beleaguered people, and presenting the conflict there in simplistic, almost child-like terms as a battle of good and evil in which we must assist the good guys. Yet, as any reading of African history (presumably not Clooney's strong suit) would reveal, such interventions to 'save Africa' always end up making things worse by exacerbating tensions and entrenching divisions.

This turnaround reveals an essential truth about the widespread anti-war sentiment of the past two or three years: it is shallow and changeable; it was a tactical disagreement over the timing and conduct of the Iraq war rather than a political challenge to the right of Western intervention or an exposé of the West's pretensions to be a force for good in an out-of-control and often immoral Third World. As a result, anti-war feeling can easily become a pro-war demand. Outrage over the bombing of Iraq can easily transform into outrage that the international community is not doing more, in this instance, to punish the Sudanese government, rein in the Janjaweed rebels, and 'Save Darfur'. Because it was motivated by a kind of narcissistic sense of moral outrage, rather than by a critique of the idea that the West has a moral responsibility to intervene in other states' affairs to protect the downtrodden, today's anti-war politics can just as readily serve the Western powers as embarrass them - and just as easily encourage as oppose destabilising and destructive interventions.

It is striking the extent to which opponents of the Iraq war are doing exactly the same with Darfur as they attacked Bush for doing with Iraq and more recently Iran: reducing it to a simple black-and-white issue and calling for a moral crusade to make it all better. Bush was lambasted by Clooney, numerous other celebs and media commentators for believing there was such a thing as good and evil, and that America was good and Saddam was evil. The president was mocked (and rightly so) when he implied that God had advised him to intervene in Iraq; more recently he was ridiculed for reportedly having a 'messianic vision' of 'saving Iran' (3).

Yet now Clooney declares of Darfur: 'It's not a political issue. There is only right or wrong.' (4) Got that? There are no political or territorial questions in Darfur to worry your pretty little heads about; it is a simple morality tale of bad guys beating up on good guys....

...What the anti-war critics really disliked about Bush's moral posturing over Iraq, and to a certain extent Iran, is that it was unsophisticated: it was a bit too Christian and crass and clumsy for their tastes. They much prefer a secular, supposedly 'humanitarian' form of moral posturing, one which discusses conflicts in terms of 'right and wrong' rather than using the archaic categories of 'good and evil'. However, the end result is precisely the same: someone else's conflict, other people's trials and tribulations, are reduced to a simple story that apparently has a simple solution - the intervention of the international community. Difficult questions about politics, territory, resources and development, and also about how Western intervention in Africa, including in Sudan, has proved disastrous over the decades, are discarded in favour of saying 'we are good, they are bad, let's act'. That might make Clooney and Co feel all good and moist about themselves, but it is unlikely to do anything to assist anyone in Darfur or Sudan more broadly....

Monday, May 01, 2006

Something's rotten in the State of South Carolina
America should send its drug users overseas to be imprisoned in foreign countries.

Well, that's what Representative G. Ralph Davenport, Jr., of Boiling Springs, SC thinks....