I don’t expect to be around much more today, so allow me to take this opportunity and wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year!

Here’s my top five wish-list for 2005:

  1. Whatever tranquility is possible for those who are directly affected by the tsunami.
  2. An end to the conflict in Iraq – one way or the other.
  3. The Philadelphia Eagles finally get over the hump and win the big one.
  4. A Democratic Party senator grows a pair of stones on January 6th.
  5. BushCo finally drops a running chainsaw.

To all of the “regulars” – thank you from the bottom of my heart. Sometimes, it’s nice to know that I’m not shouting into a void.

And to Doc, Kate, Forrest and sukabi – without you guys, ASZ is nothing more than a cranky old geezer venting his spleen. There’s plenty of that out in Left (and Right) Blogistan already. To steal a line from our friend Patricia, you guys rawk!!

With that said, I raise a virtual toast to more great blogging in 2005!


Friday, December 31st, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Bush is consistent with the Right-Wing Clerics

I ran across two stories that once again lead me to the belief that the radical right-wing clerics here in the US are not about compassion at all, but more about political might, if not outright hate. The first concerns a law in Arkansas that has now been overturned. Seems the folks in Arkansas, driven by the right-wing clerics here in the US, made it so that no household with a gay member could foster a child. Thankfully, our courts have overturned the measure, as there is no factual basis for its being protective of children. Nope, this wasn’t an equal protection case, but hinged on the Child Welfare Safety Review Board’s mission, which is to protect children, and the judge found that such a regulation did no such thing.

Meanwhile, Bill Berkowitz, in a review of US right-wing clerical organizations, finds that none seem concerned by the disaster playing out in the Indian ocean. At least their concern matches that of the President, eh? What’s interesting is that most of the sites he mentions lead off with ways of increasing their political power rather than anything to do with compassion.

Friday, December 31st, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

How the Mighty Fall

Man. A world-class terrorist can’t even catch a break these days. Here’s the “top ten” Google searches for public figures during 2004:

  1. george w bush
  2. janet jackson
  3. john kerry
  4. britney spears
  5. saddam hussein
  6. kobe bryant
  7. michael jackson
  8. angelina jolie
  9. martha stewart
  10. clay aiken

If When al-Qaida attacks the U.S. again in the future, we now have proof positive why Osama bin-Laden is pissed. He couldn’t even break the top 10 of Google’s 2004 Zeitgeist Report. During the past election campaign, a lot of people were remarking on how bin-Laden’s name never seems to come up anymore, but still – to get beat out by Clay Aiken…listen, if you’re the most wanted man on the face of the planet, that’s gotta be a huge embarrassment.

Maybe that’s why OBL went back into the video production business?

Friday, December 31st, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Last (Wo)man Standing

Yeah. This is about right.

Check out Newsday’s article on the last standing abortion clinic in Mississippi, and the lead that the state has taken in the war on reproductive rights.

There used to be seven clinics available to get an abortion. Yet over the recent years, Mississippi has become widely known as a state that is intent on abolishing the procedure from its territory. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is now the last clinic remaining.

Get used to it. The entire country is going to be a Mississippian Theocracy in short order.

Friday, December 31st, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Bone Picking With Nick Wadhams


Mr. Nick Wadhams

Cub Reporter, Associated Press

450 W. 33rd St.

New York, NY 10001

Dear Mr. Wadhams,

Earlier today, you filed a report with Associated Press that described a potential problem with Iraqi elections going forward: no poll workers due to threats against their lives. Now, this would indeed seem to be a roadblock to conducting any sort of election.

You sought to backlight the situation thusly:

…The United States, which has said the vote must go forward, has repeatedly sought to portray recent attacks that have killed dozens of people as the acts of a reeling insurgency, not the work of a force that is gathering strength…

I wish to point out that your use of the term, “United States” is entirely in error. Recent polling indicates that in excess of 60% of the U.S. believes the entire situation in Iraq to be totally out of control, and that we’ve been immersed in a goddamn quagmire from which there is little hope of early escape.

It is entirely appropriate that you, and the Associated Press (apparently, a wholly owned subsidiary of BushCo, LLC) append your earlier release to strike the term “United States” and insert the term “Bush Administration”.

Indeed, it’s only the Bush Administration that has continually sought to portray (since, oh, about May, 2003) the “insurgency” as “reeling”. As a fully vested citizen of the United States of America, I take great umbrage in your implication that I feel that any sort of sham election or vote should go forward in Iraq. Further, I believe your characterization of rebel elements in Iraq as “reeling” is flat out fucking stoopid and panders only to what I would refer to as the “idiot constituency” in America.

Please excuse my excessive reliance on quotations in the above paragraph – I use them only to emphasize the areas of total and complete bullshit that you (and the rest of the media) have continued to highlight in regurgitating press releases from the Karl Rove Ministry of Truthâ„¢.

I anticipate your correction within a fortnight.


Richard Cranium, BFD, LSMFT

Friday, December 31st, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Demolishing the terminology of the Right’s exclusive morality (with a Trojan horse)

Pro-life. Pro-family. Pragmatic. Realistic. Pro-America.

These are all terms that, at least in certain contexts, cause progressives to squirm due to how their meaning has been adapted to correspond only to the conservatives of the United States. However, there are only very few progressives to which the true definitions of these terms could not be applied. We are nearly all pro-family; we understand how edifying a strong, loving family can be upon the youth of the United States. We are all pro-life; we don’t take joy in performing abortions, executing inmates, torturting prisoners of war, or trampling the poor. Progressive Americans wish the best for their country; we simply do not place material success over moral success (integrity, honesty, courage, peace) in our priorities.

Due to the effectiveness of the GOP’s subtle and primitive mind control, simply “reclaiming” these terms without demolishing the premises upon which their current meanings are based will prove to be quite difficult at best and nearly impossible at worst.

Bringing the public’s perception of these terms back to their real meaning is, if not completely necessary to the success of progressives, something that would be very beneficial. The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius would argue that this “rectification of names” is absolutely necessary.

If terminology is not corrected, then what is said cannot be followed. If what is said cannot be followed, then work cannot be accomplished. If work cannot be accomplished, then ritual and music cannot be developed. If ritual and music cannot be developed, then criminal punishments will not be appropriate. If criminal punishments are not appropriate, the people cannot make a move. Therefore, the Superior Man needs to have his terminology applicable to real language, and his speech must accord with his actions. The speech of the Superior Man cannot be indefinite.

Book 13, Verse 3 of the Analects**

As truthful as our objections are to the redefintion of such terminology, and the implication this has on the bigger picture, it is likely, that at least for some time, until the precariously built Jenga tower of the Bushistas is brought down, our objections may fall largely upon ears deaf to us, as the redefinition of morality has also resulted in us being written off as corrupting influences.

Historically, one of the most effective means to bring down an enemy was to utilize a mole. It worked for the Greeks in Troy, with their famous wooden horse. It worked for the Philistines in the case of Samson, with Delilah. It must still work, as it is one of the same strategies employed by national intelligence agencies, crime fighting organizations, and terrorist groups worldwide.

We already have our mole. Though deceased, he has already been accepted warmly into the heart of conservativism in our country: the evangelical Christian church. Our mole is CS Lewis.

In the The Abolition of Man, Lewis effectively argues that a number of various moral values exists within each man and woman. These are not values that relate directly to issues of gay marriage, the necessity of war, gun-control, fiscal responsibility, or patriotism. However, they clearly relate to that which is at the root of each of these issues: how we are to treat our fellow humans. Lewis labels this notion as the Tao. This name was chosen to illustrate that the notion is not strictly limited to the West, but rather that it includes the East, and all of mankind.

The method by which Lewis makes his argument is by homing in on the laws/writings of many different civilizations, from antiquity to the present. Among these “civilations” (I use the term loosely here) are included the ancient Egyptians, Norse, Hindu, Jewish (Old Testament), ancient Chinese (including Confucius), Roman, British (via John Locke), early Christian church, Babylonian, ancient Greek, Australian Aborigines, Native American, old Anglo-Saxon, and ancient Indian. The laws/writings are then grouped together by topic, in a means to demonstrate each group was based upon a value inherent to all humans, across many years, miles, continents and racial/ethnic groups.

The main text of The Abolition of Man is very densely written and sometimes difficult to understand, but the Appendices include a compilation of laws/teachings/writings from the civilizations listed above.

The general principles into which Lewis groups the areas of the Tao are

  • The Positive and Negative Laws of General Beneficence (love one another/harm not one another)
  • The Law of Special Beneficence (love one’s own family)
  • Duties to Parents, Elders, Ancestors
  • Duties to Children and Posterity
  • The Law of Justice (in the areas of the sexual, honesty, and the courts)
  • The Law of Good Faith and Veracity
  • The Law of Mercy
  • The Law of Magnanimity (liberality in bestowing gifts)

Lewis himself could be properly described as a liberal, as in his day he opposed the idea of legislation that would have made it difficult for non-Christians to be granted divorces at the will of Christians in a secular state. He advocated the notion of creating two very distinct “types” of marriage: the first to be granted by the state, with rules for all marriages; the other to be granted by various churches, in which case the rules would be set by given churches and applied/enforced only upon those who claimed to be members. See the parallels between this view and the debate on gay marriage?

Most evangelicals lack knowledge of Lewis in these areas. Thus the next step for all of us, including me, do a little more research, and make sure they come to know it quite well. They will have two choices then. They can either reject Lewis as they have with other politically-liberal Christians, or they can accept the waywardness of their own attitudes. As one who has grown up in and been schooled for nearly 10 years in evangelical Christian institutions, I do not believe they will find it easy to discard Lewis so easily.

Update: Let’s make their heads crack with outrageous amounts of cognitive dissonance. I’m very serious. Spread the word that CS Lewis was a liberal and cite the reasons above and any others that you can find. I’m tired always being on the defense; its time for us to be on the attack now.

**Note: Here is an alternative translation to Confucius’ statement on the the Rectification of Names; one that “fits” more today.

Friday, December 31st, 2004 by forrest |
Category: Uncategorized

Let’s get some perspective

The picture is from Sri Lanka, but it could be India, Phuket or Indonesia. Far more than a million people are out of their homes and the death toll is up to 117,000 at last count, with many still missing.

Yes, there’s been some complaints about the compassionate conservative response. Is it fair? In 1999 an earthquake struck Northwest Turkey, centered in Izmit. I worked at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross at the time, and our Chapter CEO was tasked to do the US Red Cross PR on-site in Turkey. I briefed him before he left. I’m quite familiar with that disaster. It killed about 14,000 people, and left 200,000 homeless in late summer. The potential for disease was less than in the Indian ocean, as the tropics promote more of that sort of thing. Some of these figures can be found at www.disasterrelief.org. Yeah, this disaster is anywhere from five to ten times the magnitude of the Turkish disaster. How does Bush’s compassion compare to Clinton’s?

What was the US response led by Clinton? The quake happened on August 17th, 1999. On August 19th President Clinton ordered three Navy ships from Spain with a compliment of 2,100 marines aboard.

The three “amphibious-ready” ships, the USS Kearsarge, the USS Ponce and the USS Gunston Hall, have about 630 beds, six operating rooms, five X-ray rooms, eight doctors, three dental officers and 88 medical corpsmen.

The 22 helicopters on the ships can provide medical evacuations from the damaged areas.

This report doesn’t include monetary figures to compare to Bush’s contributions now committed several days after the disaster, but, then, this report from CNN is just three days after the Turkish quakes!

What we have here is the law of unintended consequences, and it will surely bite America in the ass like all other Bush policies have. Surely Bush didn’t intend, of course, to be stretched so thin that he had no marines, no hospital ships, and no supplies to send on humanitarian missions. But that’s the result. This is called opportunity cost, folks. The opportunity cost of a quagmire is that we are unable to effectively play our role as citizen of the world. And that boy in the picture will not receive the help he and nore than a million others so desperately need.

But I forgot, the Bushies have sold the Iraq quagmire as a humanitarian mission, or tried to do so. What’s the count now of deads Iraqi citizens from American munitions?

Friday, December 31st, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

So there I am in Madrid. . .

There was tons of stuff that could have caught my attention and started me blogging away. I went through the Madrid train station, after all. I saw plenty of policemen with Uzis. There was a Palace big enough to make King George envious. There was Guernica, which I have already called “Fallujah” in another post. There were at least thirty paintings of the crucifixion in the Prado, and there’s a comparison to Abu Ghraib just dying to be made, now isn’t there? Then there’s that confusing painting by Velasquez, Las Meninas, that twists the very notions of perspective that it might very well stand as a metaphor for our current Administration. I even, one day, strolled into a square that was getting the pyrotechnics ready for the celebration of the New Year. Evidently it is custom for children to dress up on that day, so there were fireworks being sold next to masks. The irony was not lost, as we were just a mile or so from that train station.

But, no. While these items might have sparked some good debate, those likages are far too easy. Besides, I was much more impressed by the unassuming Museo Sorolla. It is a museum dedicated to a man perhaps as apolitical as they come, Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida. And yet, his works are once and at the same time bold and tender, sweet and strong. Perhaps the cheap thing to say is that the only thing he shares with Mr. Bush is “Bastida.”

It was tremendously odd to go from the the BBC broadcast of the tragedy in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia and be confronted with a painting such as El bano del caballo, a painting of a nude boy leading a horse out of the surf. On the one hand we see the awesome force of nature, and here with Sorolla’s work we see kindness and innocence within that power.

I’m energized and will be blogging regularly soon. Consider this to be the answer to your “What did you do for winter vacation” questions.

Thursday, December 30th, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

Voting Rights = Civil Rights

From Ray Beckerman over at the Ohio Election Fraud Blog:

January 6th is a critical date in American history. It is the last chance this country has to preserve its democracy. If Senators and Congresspeople do not stand up and do the right thing that day, democracy is over in the nation that introduced it to the modern world, and our descent into dictatorship will have been completed.

If the small group of ultra right wing traitors presently in control of the Senate, the House, the Presidency, the Judiciary, the Press, and the manufacture of deliberately unverifiable voting machines, is permitted to stage a second coup d’etat, there will never be “election reform”; this crowd has made it abundantly clear that it respects power, not law. It will have become impossible to rid our nation of this cancer through the electoral process.

Things to do before January 6th:

While most of the above are Ohio centric, Florida is still a steaming pile. The BradBlog is covering the Feeney – vote rigging angle, and it’s getting hot.

New Mexico isn’t without problems either, ever heard of “phantom votes”? Seems they cancel out undervotes — but don’t actually exist. Huh?

It’s time to be noisy folks. Get your Senator to contest AND investigate the vote. No more of the hacked up legislation like HAVA – which enabled more unverifiable voting to occur in the form of Diebold, ESS, Sequoia, TriAd, ect. “vote technology”. It’s time for actual standards to be employed, and a truly non-partisan, auditable, transparent voting system to be implemented.

Thursday, December 30th, 2004 by sukabi |
Category: Uncategorized

How Cool Is This?

Yanked once again into irreality

I found this at The Guardian:

Former US attorney general joins Saddam defence team

Ironic and poetic richness… priceless.

Thursday, December 30th, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized
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