This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Wednesday, February 13, 2006

Bush Quotes in the Lead


"If we were to withdraw from the world"
To form a new moon perhaps?

"it would be a missed opportunity to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come by spreading liberty and freedom"
Like butter? I just can't help the visual of spreading butter on cockroaches every time Bush uses the phraseology.

"See, part of my foreign policy is this: I believe that there is an
this is an adjective, and the noun was???

"and I believe that the Almighty's"
again, noun please

"gift to everybody on the face of the Earth, regardless of where they live, regardless of their religion, is freedom."
Oops, wrong, the gift according to the founding fathers, given to all mankind by God was life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Freedom is earned with vigilence of, and sometimes slaughter of, enemies foreign and domestic, of Constitutional right.

"And I believe deep in everybody's soul is the deep desire to live in freedom."
Wrong again there buddy. In some souls is the deep desire to do away with freedom by being a despot, whether that is of a nation, or many nations or of one's own family. Just the past three weeks, many Muslims in the world have bared the deep desire in their souls and that is to squash without-government-restriction, speech, especially that of the Danish newspapers. Viva la Dane.

And how about that illegal data-mining bent in your own soul Mr. Paranoid?

"And I believe that this country, if it were to retreat,"
By retreat do you mean military retreat from Iraq? Gosh Rummy would be so mad. Ruining all his fun, just when his training op was going so good. He's managed to cycle almost half a million of our military through it. They learn methods of torture and control of an armed, hostile civilian population. They learn how to take drugs that are cheap and plentiful at the PX. They learn to shoot women and children and hire foreign whores supplied by Command and Halliburton. They learn to be separated from families for long periods of time, while suffering lack of new boots, armor, enough food, water. We women here at home are cheerfully wondering what new strains of VD they will bring back with them. Speaking of disease, they also catch suicidal depression and post traumatic stress syndrome. Gosh, that darn Rummy.

"would miss an opportunity to help others realize their dream."
or in other words, force feed some phony notion of democracy to people who cannot speak English, and do not understand a separation of church and state, at exorbitant expense, so the dreams of most Americans, who do speak English and can raise enough food to feed the world, will never materialize.
Or do you mean the Shiite dream to Muslimize the entire world, like Hitler tried to Aryanize the entire world? Or do you mean the Amway dream? Or the Ponzi scheme dream. Or Rummy's wet dream, yeah, the one to transform the entire military to minimal, elite, special ops? How effective that will be if China decides to goose step all over us.

"And I also know that history has proven that free societies yield the peace that we all want,"
uh, oops, wrong again. Free societies? Is that like, free lunch?

Societies self-ruled by self-law yield peace. This is called self-governing in high school political science or government classes. It takes a Republic, with three branches equally checked and balanced. Which means the President and his hooligan gang of thugs, like Alberto Gonzales, Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove and Dickypoo Cheney, are not above the law, no matter how much they publicly protest that they are.  Hey Bush, you hired a speech writer from where? That same place you got Brownie? And Ruth?
Sorry Noah I couldn't resist another go at this piece of garbage.


by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2006, Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.

In England right now a play spoofing the Jerry Springer show depicts Jesus in what many consider a blasphemous manner. On the American cartoon sit-com *South Park*Jesus is regularly lampooned. On the cartoon sit-com *The Simpson's,* Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism are regularly lampooned. On the NBC series *The Book of Daniel,* Jesus appeared to the show's protagonist, an Episcopal priest, and chatted with him about various issues. Jesus had long hair and dressed in flowing robes.

Some Christians have been upset by these portrayals. Evangelical Christians in the U.S. were so upset by the portrayal of Jesus and religion in *The Book of Daniel* that they boycotted the advertisers until the show was pulled from the network two weeks ago.

Note I said the show's advertisers were boycotted: Evangelicals did not go to the corporate offices and burn them down, nor did they take the show's writers hostage at machine-gun point. Thousands did not picket outside NBC with placards reading "Your 9/11 will come" or "Death to NBC execs."

Just the run-of-the-mill American boycott until the protesters (wrongly, in my opinion) won.

But that's not what's happening in about two dozen countries in Europe and the Middle East right now over a series of editorial cartoons that depict aspects of Islam as violent. One shows the Prophet Mohammed in a turban that is a ticking bomb. Another laments that there are no more virgins left in heaven.

The cartoons have incited literal riots.

In protest over being perceived by the West as violent and terroristic, Islamists have burned down four embassies without checking to see if anyone was inside, have taken several newspaper editors hostage at gunpoint (all were later released), have burned flags of several European countries (as well as those of America and Israel for good measure), trashed a few churches and have rioted in the streets with placards calling for death and destruction. A dozen people have been killed in the rioting and scores more have been injured.

To put it succinctly, the protests over Muslims being depicted as violent have been extremely, unbelievably violent, which instead of denouncing the subject of the cartoons has merely reinforced that (mis)perception.

No one with religious beliefs wants those beliefs demeaned. As a devout Catholic I am appalled and angered by what I perceive to be blasphemous depictions of Jesus Christ. But I have yet to take out a gun and put it to the head of a TV executive or cartoonist because I don't like their commentary on my religion. I don't do this for two reasons: First, as a Christian I believe in non-violence. Second, as an American and a writer I believe in freedom of speech.

I live in a secular society–a nation with a Constitution and Bill of Rights that says concomitantly that I can both have freedom *of* religion and, through the separation of Church and State, freedom *from* religion. Mine or anyone else's. Those secular protections are unique, because they allow each citizen the choice of his or her beliefs.

We call this secular ecumenism multi-culturalism. It means everyone gets to have their own religious and ethnic identity without reprisal from the state. We fought hard for this rubric and so have other democracies around the world.

Denmark is a definingly secular society as well as a very small country: there are only five million people in the entire nation–the same number as in the metropolitan Philadelphia area. Of those five million, 200,000 are Muslim immigrants from various countries who have emigrated to Denmark for the high standard of living and unique social welfare system offered there. When religious people enter secular society, culture shock can ensue. That's what happened in Denmark when a small country newspaper printed several editorial cartoons last September: furor erupted.

Well, a delayed furor erupted. Because, as was true when the fatwa calling for the death of award-winning novelist Salman Rushdie was issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, there was a bit of a time lag from publication to calls for death.

The cartoons were printed in September. The rage was incited last week. Four months between the event and the outrage over it. Which does beg the question: Why now?

Perhaps now because Muslims are fed up with the West trying to dictate how they should run their part of the world. That's certainly a valid reason for outrage. The Bush Administration, with the backing of Britain and a few other European nations, is bent on delivering democracy to the Middle East, whether they want it or not.

And as the controversy over the cartoons indicates, they most profoundly do not want it.

Everywhere the U.S. has attempted to foster–or foist, depending on the vantage point–democracy on a nation, the result has been not secular diversity but religious totalitarianism. The West may have spoken, but Arab nations have spoken just as succinctly: You say democracy, we say theocracy.

And therein lies the melee over the cartoons: free speech--democracy--smacking up against religious piety. This culture clash, however, has yielded blood.

Some have called the cartoons racist and anti-Muslim. Others have said they should never have been published because they were so inflammatory.

Are they really more inflammatory than Jesus having every other word bleeped out on *South Park*?

Of course not.

But democracy demands if not a sense of humor then at least a grudging respect for freedom. Because freedom is the monotheism of a secular democracy.

There are a few basic tenets of Islam: belief in one God, Allah, and that his prophet is Mohammed. Daily prayers several times a day in the direction of Mecca. Giving charitably. Fasting. Making the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Nowhere in those tenets is taking newspaper editors hostage at gunpoint, burning down embassies or calling for the deaths of all Europeans, Jews and Americans. Nowhere in those tenets is violence called for.

So when truly devout Muslims say Islam is not a violent religion, they are correct. Unfortunately, as was true of my own Church during the Spanish Inquisition when Catholics murdered and tortured non-believers, the word that Islam is not violent hasn't quite reached all the followers.

But that isn't really the point of this controversy. Muslims and non-Muslims alike would prefer to make the debate about whether Islam and its followers are violent, but it's about something far larger.

It's about the stranglehold religion has over the Middle East and the insistence the West–Europe and America–have on maintaining their secularism in the face of religious tyranny.
Since no one on either side has been much interesting in concepts, let me toss a few in for consideration: Europe was, many centuries ago, a lot like the Middle East. It was run by the Church–Catholic or Protestant forms of Christianity. Jews were routinely slaughtered and in fact Catholics and Protestants spent a fair amount of time slaughtering each other, much like Shi'ites and Sunnis are doing right now in Iraq. Each was vying for ideological supremacy.

Then came something called the Enlightenment and everyone realized that religion and the State could co-exist, independently. It meant a lot less killing.

The Middle East isn't there yet. Rather Muslim nations are choosing to return to the most radical origins of Islamic law, such as Sharia. Secularism not only isn't in vogue, it is anathema. And so are its purveyors.

In nations run by religion there can be no freedom of speech: it goes against the concept of giving over all of one's intellect and life to God. Think of fundamentalist Muslim nations as big cloistered monasteries; there's no room for eclectic ideas, no room for anything but Islam.

The Islamists *had* to be outraged by the cartoons. Their outrage is wholly justified and justifiable.

The violence, however, is not. Nor is the expectation of apology. Secularists do not have to apologize for being secular. It would be nice if they had some racial and religious sensitivity, but being insensitive is also a privilege of democracy. Freedom of speech is rarely about protecting the politically correct; it is almost always about protecting the politically unpopular and offensive. We might not like freedom of speech for everyone, but it protects each of us equally.

Muslim nations have now gone tit-for-tat with cartoons. Not surprisingly, the Jews have gotten the worst of it because anti-Jewish depictions were a mainstay of the Islamist press before the controversy. One cartoon last week put Anne Frank in bed with Hitler with the caption, "Put that in your diary, Anne."

Disgusting? Absolutely. But in a democracy it gets published, tastelessness and all. There would be those rightfully outraged. But there would be no rioting, no burning, no killing.
I have read extensively from al-Jazeera, the Arab press, the European press and what little has been written in the U.S. about this controversy. I discern considerable paternalism at play in the discourse over the cartoons.

Basically it goes like this: Muslims are easily offended. More easily offended than Jews who are used to being scape-goated by everyone. More easily offended than Christians, who just get upset over Christmas trees at City Hall. So because Muslims are more easily offended, we (the secular West) should be much more careful of their sensitivities than we would be about anyone else's because, well, Muslims get violent when upset.

*That's* the real racism: the idea that we should hold Islam to a different standard of sensitivity than any other religion because we Westerners fear terrorists.

In secular society there should be a measure of sensitivity, yes, but the religion of secularism is freedom: of speech, from religion. When Muslims move into secular societies, they don't have to assimilate but they do have to accept the tenets of those societies if they want to reap the benefits. The same would be true of any other fundamentalist group.

Munira Mirza, a Muslim scholar in Britain whose academic specialty is Islamophobia, noted last week on BBC, that the cartoons should be printed in Britain so people could see them, discuss them openly and determine for themselves whether they are offensive. She believes this is the only way to bridge the culture gap.

She's right. The reality is, secularism doesn't hurt people--religious fanaticism does. Mirza no doubt witnessed the demonstrations in London where Islamists carried signs reading "Exterminate Those Who Mock Islam," "Be Prepared for the Real Holocaust" and "Europe You Will Pay, Your 9/11 Is on the Way." So much for dialogue.

But therein lies the difference between the West and the Middle East: the very concept of dialogue, discourse. In the U.S. we have our red states and blue states and much of the time never the twain shall meet. But we each get to express our outrage at the other–the Bush haters versus the Bush sympathizers, the pacifists versus the chicken-hawks.

There's no dialogue when religious fundamentalism rules. Is it any wonder Islamists worldwide are protesting our trivial freedom of speech?

And yet–what would happen to our society if we traded it in, our freedom? What would happen to the 140 religions being practiced in the U.S. right now?

One Islamist noted that for Muslims, the state and journalists are considered one and the same; thus the editor's cartoons were perceived as depicting Denmark's point of view.

But that's because in Islamist nations the journalist and the state *are* one; there is only one point of view, only one vantage point.

I am appalled by the violence over the cartoons. But the debate raised by it has been instructive. We do indeed live in a global village in which respect for others' views is paramount to everyone's survival. It's time to put the cartoon controversy to rest and move forward–preferably to a rational discourse rather than another rabid ideological melee–because printing the cartoons might have been insensitive, but it wasn't wrong. The rules of democracy can be tough as well as painful. But the benefits are extraordinary–something truly worth taking to the streets for.

In response to the following,

"Families are...
"...shredded to pieces for profit like stolen autos in a chop shop,
"...where Protective Orders are issued based on alleged violence without proof from law enforcement records,
"...where Dads are put out of the house and in the streets, separated from their children whom they love
"...and jailed as criminals without due process over a civil divorce."

Rhian writes:

I'm sure that in many cases, families are shredded to pieces like stolen autos in a chop shop, yet. every four seconds a woman is taken by ambulance, either to the hospital or morgue, for injuries suffered at the hands of a boyfriend, husband or significant other.

In many cases men cheat women out of child support and courts do nothing. My own ex was found by the AZ courts to have slipped out of over $40,000.00 and then did nothing to collect it.

There are many many much worse abuses. Of children by fathers for example.

Family courts are failing but so are men with their relationships, by the tens of thousands. If you have a solution, put it out there Mr. Miller (the original author).

My Take on Families

I have a different take on families and their deterioration. I remember growing up in Brooklyn, NY with a father, a mother and three brothers (my brothers are 15- 12- and 10- years older than I am). My father was a salesman for all of the time I can remember and my mother was a housewife, which certainly was a full-time job. We lived in a large three-bedroom Coney Island apartment  until we moved to an equally large apartment in Sheepshead Bay. Being so much younger than my brothers, I was raised almost as an only child.

Although my father worked six days a week much of the time, I always remember him coming home and spending time with me, in his own, quiet way. My father had four heart attacks, the last one killing him. The first occurred before I was born. I remember my mother going to work when my father was sick but not working when he was well, until, of course, after he died.

The point I am trying to make is that my mother had a choice of whether to work or not Whereas my father's salary, in today's dollars, does not quite equal my salary, he was more able to afford the extra things that makes life more enjoyable: two vacations a year (one with me and one without - I bet the latter was better than the former); Saturday evenings out with my mother; and photography and its gadgets as a hobby, among other things.

I am speaking of disposable income.

Today the norm is a two-income household. With mortgages on new and resale properties within driving distance of our major cities rising to unaffordable amounts; the rising cost of gas and other forms of energy, including home heating costs; and the soaring cost of other staples, like milk, cereal and meat is it any wonder that both parents have to work? My best friend from High School, who now lives in San Diego with his wife and son, have developed an interesting system: they work different hours. This works for them but it might not work for everyone. How does keeping a family apart make things better? (That was a rhetorical question - it doesn't.)

In my opinion, it is stress that is the number one culprit in the deterioration of the American family, and this stress is directly related to families' economics. Longer hours at work just to make ends meet leads to less time spent with one's family.
Time is what will keep families together. Time is what will allow fathers and mothers to be more relaxed in each other's company, and this will translate down to their children. Time will make children and families better.

Productivity has increased during the Bush years while real wages have decreased. Time has been lost because of this. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) is right when he says "It takes a Family" but he and those "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople operatives have no problem with families losing touch with each other in favor of the almighty dollar. They are losing time.

The Bush administration policies are stealing our time in the name of productivity and, as a result, they are destroying our families.

-Noah Greenberg

More on Families


Let me add an additional two cents to my take on families (above) (that'll make it an even four cents):

There is nothing more important to the survival of American Society than family. It is the first step towards a true SOCIETY OF LIFE. Religion, to some, is more important than anything, but it is family transcends religion. Mothers and fathers love their children whether they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim or atheists (yes, it is possible that even atheists can love their children). And there are mothers and fathers who mistreat their children in spite of their religious convictions.

Some look toward the saving of a fertilized egg as their most important issue, sometimes to the exclusion of all other issues. My problem is with those who fail to see the need in protecting mothers and their children post-birth. A SOCIETY OF LIFE doesn't begin until after birth. Helping others to keep their families together will result in more stable families. As a SOCIETY it is more our responsibility to make sure that all children grow up with the support necessary for growth. This is not just a right of the privileged. As a SOCIETY we are required to make sure that once that embryo becomes a breathing child we offer him or her the same tools to create a good life that any other child has.

More to the point, when a family needs help, it is our responsibility as a SOCIETY to make sure they get that help. That help could be in the form of a free, quality education , three nutritious meals a day or after-school programs to keep them focused and happy while their parents work . In this respect, Hillary Clinton takes a truer look at American life when she says "It Takes a Village". If you have any doubt of that, take a look at the influence of Little Leagues, Soccer Clubs or after school programs, which teachers run voluntarily, just to make sure our children become better people.

It's appalling to me to think that the children of the underprivileged suffer simply because they are poor. It is appalling to me to see programs that benefit these children and the children of the middle class cut to the bone or eliminated altogether in the name of tax cuts for the ultra-rich. The GOP, with every tax-cut dollar and big business give-away are destroying the American Family and the fabric which they form, despite what they say about keeping them together.

The Bushies are fooling many Americans with talk of "Values" when they have none. They trick many Americans when they use
God's name as a "tool" to keep their "base" in line.


They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg