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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, July 10, 2006


Today's Quote

"We can't be briefed on every little thing that they're doing," but "It is not optional for this president or any president... not to keep the intelligence committee (aware) of what they are doing,"
-Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)

That's not what the president thinks, Rep. Hoekstra. GW thinks that he has universal powers to do as he pleases and he says that you, and your GOP brethren in the House and Senate gave him the "go-ahead" to do it. make no mistake, this is your fault. It is YOUR GOP that gives into the Bushites on every occasion, afraid of losing your (Ken) Mehlman-Money; It is YOUR GOP that allows votes on an anti-gay amendment to the Constitution while poverty levels rise; It is YOUR GOP which ignores health car while pretending to make "real strides" at "lobbying reform".

Let's face it, Mr. Hoekstra, YOUR GOP that has done nothing but make your "base" of "haves and have mores" richer at the expense of the poor and working class Americans who made this nation great. And it will be YOUR GOP which may finally make us a third world nation, able only to wage war, but not feed our children.

"Every little thing" is a "funny little thing" to define. Does bugging my phone fall under "every little thing". I know that when it looked like bugging YOUR phone might happen, no one in congress thought it was just a "little thing".

When you look in the mirror, Mr. Hoekstra, what do you see? When you get on the phone, what do you hear?

-Noah Greenberg



Welkome to World War Bush

"If we accept that there is no other option to prevent an attack (by North Korea) ... there is the view that attacking the launch base of the guided missiles is within the constitutional right of self-defense. We need to deepen discussion,"
-Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe


I know that we're the big dogs on the world block (or at least we think we are), but wouldn't it have been better for "G"lobal "W"arming Bush to have simply sat down with Kim Jung (so unbelievably mentally) Il (that he must be a gay man in the US army) when the dictator of one-third of the "Axis of Evil" had asked us to? Is a war on the Korean Peninsula, at the foot of China, really in ours, or the world's best interests? Sure, I bet that most of us believe that this is simply hyperbole by the Japanese government, but what if it's not?

Let's take the ridiculous and bring it to its similar end. What happens after Japan sends its new "Zero Fighters" in to destroy the bases that are launching these new, long distance missiles? Nobody knows but the hope is that it would end there. On the upswing, maybe the people of North Korea would revolt and do to Il what the Italians did to Mussolini in the 1940's. On the downswing, maybe they launch a shorter distance nuclear bomb at Tokyo. Does anyone else remember Hiroshima or Nagasaki? Well, now we're not the only one on the world's block with "the big one" anymore.

My brother Perry believes that Il could possibly take out his revenge on South Korea. that would certainly bring the US into a war-like situation, and advances into the North of the peninsula would, no doubt, take place. The question is: What will China do? Personally, I think my brother's wrong. An attack on Japan is far more likely, assuming that China would want to keep its Capitalism-by-Communism ways out of it. After all, there is more profit in ruling the world by capturing its collective econmoy than by killing your customers (and new, potential customers). Besides, Wal-Mart would never allow it.

The likely scenario would be a lot of saber-rattling by both governments, a bunch of jets taking off from Japan, with American ships in or nearby the Sea of Japan, and a statement by North Korea stating "OK... We'll be good (for now)." However, a real World War, as unlikely as I think it is, still would be a possibility.

The question Americans have to answer is: Where will the new US troops come from? So far the Bushites haven't instituted a draft here in the USA. And on the surface, that's really good news, especially for us who have draft-age, or soon-to-be draft-age children. (Hey, does the US government still allow draftees the ability to pay $300 to get out of service, like during the Civil War?) This new war might actually be fought by outsourced mercenaries. While our troops are tied up in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and might have to be called back into various other hot-spots, are we able to suit up enough troops without a draft? You betcha!

As long as there could be a war, why not have an all-volunteer mercenary force. Halliburton could provide the cooks, truck drivers and support personnel while Blackwater would provide the fighting men (and women). No draft here, unless you consider the thousands of Americans who can't find jobs in the US who have no other alternative but to "enlist" with these war profiteers.

Instead of having generals and colonels leading our troops there would be a "Combat CEO" relaying orders to their field commanders, also known as "Combat Senior Vice Presidents". There would be "Combat Managers" and "Combat Workers" (the grunts) who'll do the heavy lifting. And the best news about it is that, because they are "civilians", they wouldn't be held liable for any war crimes committed.

Think back to the feudal days of the old world when land barons would hire the peasants to fight their wars for them. This time it would be global corporations using Americans as cannon fodder the keep the Bush "base" of "haves and Have-Mores" in position to become the "Have Even Mores". Welkome, Amerika to the Bush-created New World Order.

Is this what PNAC had in mind all along?

-Noah Greenberg



Robert Chapman's Plea for Peace

I woke up very this morning very distressed by GW's statements regarding the ABM system. Without getting into a long exegesis, I can confidently say the ABM system will never work and Bush's saying that the US could have shot down North Korea's rocket is far more provocative and dangerous than the launch itself.

IF BUSH had any confidence in the anti-missile system he would be warning N. Korea that WE WILL SHOOT DOWN its next test-fire.

In order to counteract the President's war mongering, I am advocating a Peace Offensive," something that comes spontaneously from the populace, but that shows Bush, the GOP and all the other sundry war mongers that we have had enough. The idea is to send a wreath to the Pentagon, I have considered asking that people places locks of hair, hair shorn from themselves, their pets and their children to show how many people will die if the GOP war mongers have their way.

Would you be willing to pass the idea of sending wreathes to the Pentagon along to your readers, it would probably be better if it could come at a particular day, like, perhaps the day commemorating the 61st anniversary of the immolation of Hiroshima, but we need to let the government know we are

Bush is moving about the country now on his PR offensive, because it is summer and it will harder to mobilize against him.

WE MUST SHOW HIM THAT WE CAN MOBILIZE FOR PEACE AND COUNTER HIM EVEN DURING THE VACATION SEASON.


-Robert Chapman



Why We Need Unions

The AFL-CIO has been collecting "bad boss" stories. These were some good ones:

* One woman described herself as a super-dedicated employee—she worked 60 hours a week and carried a pager when she wasn’t at work—yet during her annual review, her boss said her attendance “needs improvement.” She pointed out that she’d missed only one and a half days in 15 years, but he replied that “it wasn’t exactly a flawless record.”

* The boss ordered construction at a high-tech manufacturing company while the employees were there. One employee reports: “I was exposed to all manner of toxic fumes, fiberglass, loud noises, and cold freezing air.” Small wonder that after several days of breathing solvents, his lungs began to hurt. Already suffering from asthma, he complained to the boss. The result? He was fired.

* Another employee described his first job after college in a financial institution that actually billed the employees for office expenses. “I got billed $200 for my chair,” he writes. “I paid $10 a month for the coffee I couldn’t drink because it was only served in the main office.” When the employee’s father died, he had to use his meager vacation time for the burial. The company did send flowers—but when the employee got his next paycheck, he found “they billed me for the flowers they sent.”
***

Lovely eh? I think it's time for unions to make a comeback. We must find a way to fight the corporatists and their fascist supporters in Congress.


-Robert Scardapane



More Thoughts On Hillary Clinton

Here is a little background and a theory on it why some people hate Hillary Clinton

My theory is based on the sociological observation that upper middle class women resent Hillary's independence and I offer background for it and a possible solution.

I am starting a research project on political wives and the role of the spouse in power couples.

The reason that for doing it is that during the Dean Campaign, I was working with people from Davidson, N.C. who were highly motivated in backing Dean, but had a lot of problems with his wife. The following story is just a description of what I experienced, and is not a definitive examination of power couples.

The people I talked with who had problems with Dean's wife were mostly wives themselves.

I talked with those upper middle class women about it, and the prevailing sentiment among them was that when a husband pursues goals as lofty and as consuming as Dean's the wife's job is to accompany him, to support his creature needs and comforts and to keep the household and the family and personal sphere thriving.

They resented Dean's wife's ( and I can't recall her name without looking it up- Dr. Schoenberg- or some such name) wanting to continue her medical practice.

They ridiculed the picture of Dean's kitchen that was published in Newsweek. They thought the Dean's kitchen was a "pig-sty."

Now these were very well off women whose husbands were senior Professors or administrators at Davidson College or who were high powered execs in Charlotte area businesses or the national banks HQs located there.

The sentiment among them was that women in their class and station do not pursue separate careers.

My feeling is that Hillary offended this class of women in Arkansas during the 80s and throughout the nation back in the early 90s and that she has never successfully addressed the problem of their resentment.

She addressed it by making a dumb statement about not staying home to bake cookies, early in the Clinton Administration and she tried more constructively to deal with it with the book It Takes a Village. But while she has been more successful in appealing to single women, career women, and to a great extent women with ordinary husbands, she has not been successful in dealing with the upper middle class matrons whose opinions and morays are so influential in society.

Hillary has to get these women where they live.

She has to give them some sense that when Bill was Gov and President that she subordinated the FULL POTENTIAL of her career to his and that she was his partner.

She could say that as a member of the first college educated cohort of women she tried a different route and was more involved in the work-force than many of her contemporaries or the older cohorts of women.

She could talk about the mixed blessing of this involvement and the personal aspects of her decision to pursue a non-traditional, unpatriarchal path in her life.

She needs to explicitly connect her life story to the evolution of society away from the patriarchal model.

The women devoted to patriarchy will still hate her, but they will be silenced, after all no one can come out in favor of patriarchy, but more importantly her supporters will understand and be able to counter more effectively the haters, by offering good solid reasons for supporting Hillary.

Hillary has strengths and weaknesses as a candidate and she is an untested administrator, but she could break the last remaining glass ceiling in politics and that is important, too.

If society decides to break the glass ceiling and offer women an equal place, there will be so many talented people flocking into the HRC Administration that her administrative powers will be tested by slowing down the progress, not by getting something going.

An HRC Administration, by shattering the glass ceiling in politics, would unleash such a surge of creativity throughout society, not just in government, that subsequent generations will use it as a milestone in history.


-Robert Chapman


 

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


I once believed that anti-Israel sentiment was concomitant with anti-Semitism. I was not alone in that perception, which is still widely held.

In the U.S., Israel evokes passionate response, pro and con. There are still a rabid number of conspiracy theorists whose true anti-Semitism is barely veiled as they assert that all Jews who worked at the World Trade Center were warned to stay home on 9/11; the terrorist attack that changed America forever was a Zionist conspiracy, you see. On the reverse are those whose humanitarian pulse beats only for Israel; they cannot see humanity in any Palestinian. Israeli children dying as a result of suicide bombings is a tragedy; Palestinian children dying as a result of Israeli guns, missiles and tanks is "collateral damage."

I am a Christian, a Catholic, and as such I have a deep emotional response to Israel that is engendered by my faith. For me, Israel is the land in which Christ lived and died and was resurrected, thus Israel is inextricably connected to my religious beliefs.

Half my immediate family is Jewish, some of whom live in Israel and all of whom spend considerable time there. I also have friends of long-standing who live in Israel. Israel is, therefore, in my heart and in my life.

It is difficult to write or even speak about Israel in America. The lines over Israel are drawn with an almost pathological rigidity: you are on one side or another. Pro-Zionist, anti-Zionist. (Forget that there are few Zionists at all anymore.) When it comes to Israel, there are no grey areas.

Take the issue of anti-Semitism: One cannot criticize Israel without being called anti-Semitic. It's like criticizing the war on Iraq in America: do so you and you are "unpatriotic."

I am against the war on Iraq, yet am very much a patriot. I am against the tactics Israel is using against the Palestinians and I am neither anti-Semitic nor anti-Israel. If anything, it is because I so love Israel that I cannot bear to see Ehud Olmert's government beginning to destroy the heart and soul of Israel.

This is the point where people will stop reading if they have even gotten this far. Because now I have crossed a line: I began declaring my fealty to Israel, but now I have criticized Israel. I must be anti-Semitic. I must be anti-Israel.

The other side stopped reading well before; to express love for Israel is tantamount to supporting the occupation of Palestine. But in the U.S. there is more pro-Israel sentiment than there is pro-Palestinian sentiment.

There's just no place to talk about Israel in America. Or in Israel itself.

And that is why Israel is on the brink of war over the kidnapping of a 19-year-old Israeli soldier by Hamas militants working out of Syria. The who, what, where and why of the kidnapping is essential in understanding what is happening between Israel and Gaza right now. The Syria part is important, because Gaza is not in Syria, it is in Palestine and Gaza is where the fighting is, not Syria. The kidnapping part is important because this was the instigating event the Olmert government used to justify its actions–actions that have since caused more than 100 deaths, most of them Palestinian, but also Israeli soldiers and Israeli civilians. The Hamas part is important because the government of the Palestinian territories is led by Hamas which won the recent democratically held election. Hamas has been involved in more than half of the suicide bombings in Israel in the past decade and thus the U.S. government, the EU and Israel have refused to recognize their authority. (Hamas officials in Gaza, however, decried the kidnapping and requested that the young man be kept safe.)

Since the February elections, there has been fighting and killing between the former Palestinian government, Fatah, and the current one led by Hamas. The kidnapping of the young soldier put Israel back in the equation. Now mayhem has overtaken the border between Gaza and Israel.

For more than two weeks I have watched Israel shelling Gaza with a ferocity unseen in the Middle East since the U.S. bombed Bagdhad with "shock and awe" three years ago. The bombing is merciless and unending. It is killing Palestinians on a daily basis, it has obliterated the entire electrical system of Gaza–one of the most populous places on earth. It has created a humanitarian crisis worse than the one created by the U.S. in Iraq in 2003. And yet, there is an appalling silence about the conflict. No outrage or outcry from either the Bush Administration, the EU or the U.N. There's barely any outrage from Palestine's Arab neighbors. No one seems to really care what happens to the people of Gaza, that is how "other" they have become in the world.

Hardline supporters of Israel would say–have indeed said to me–that Gazans have brought this on themselves because Gaza is where the majority of suicide bombers have come from. Suicide bombers that have plagued Israel, killing innocent civilians as well as soldiers.

There's no question that Gaza has been a keystone of Palestinian violence against Israelis, violence that is impossible for anyone but Palestinian hardliners and their supporters to justify. Some Palestinians have told me that because of the occupation by Israel, they are justified in using any means necessary against the government of Israel.

Perhaps–against the *government.* But tell me how children on a school bus or teenagers at a pizza parlor or families celebrating Passover or weddings at hotels are *government.*These civilians have been the targets of suicide bombers and because Israel is such a tiny nation, everyone takes the killings personally, as all Americans took 9/11 personally. Thus the suicide bombers cannot be discounted in the vengefulness many Israelis feel toward their Palestinian neighbors. To many in Israel, every Palestinian is a potential murderer. Just as to many in Gaza and the West Bank, every Israeli is a symbol of their oppression.

This mutual animosity has fed on decades of killings on both sides. Still, it is difficult to imagine how any Israeli can countenance the current strafing of Gaza.

"You don't understand, you haven't *lived* there," one friend told me recently.

True, I haven't lived there. But I do know this: if Palestinians were doing to Israelis what the Israeli government is doing to Palestinians in Gaza right now, there would be talk of genocide.

There will always be those who excuse the suicide bombers or the Baruch Goldsteins or the 9/11 hijackers or Timothy McVeighs. There will always be those who excuse and justify the slaughter of innocents as appropriate retaliation or acts of religious fervor. But there can be no justification for these acts of violence: they are all, on both sides, immoral. And now, there can be no justification for the strafing of Gaza.

Why the silence from the West over this incursion? The North Korean missile launches have led American news for over a week, even though no one has been injured. But the Israeli incursion into Gaza has barely been reported here, despite being a lead story on BBC news in the U.K. And while the NATO countries and the G8 have been quick to comment on North Korea and before that, Iran, the actual presaging of war between Israel and Palestine has gone curiously unremarked.

I believe the reasons are two-fold: First, there is the fealty the West keeps with Israel, regardless of whether Israel is right or wrong. Second, the assault on Gaza by Israel replicates a smaller-scale version of the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and the coalition forces; to reproach Israel for what the U.S. and the EU have done themselves would be both hypocritical and counterintuitive. And the U.S. and the EU all have turned their backs on the Hamas government in Gaza, calling them terrorists. In the global war on terror, then, the government of Palestine is concomitant with al-Qeada. Which explains why there wasn't a ripple of international concern when Israel arrested several members of that Hamas government in Palestine as part of their campaign to get their kidnapped soldier back. It's difficult to imagine there would be a similar international silence if Israeli politicians had been arrested by the Palestinian authorities.

The quid pro quo escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza must cease. (Palestinians have been launching rockets into northern Israel for weeks, hitting a school last week, that was fortunately empty of children.) On July 6th, more than 20 people were killed in the fighting–a not-dissimilar number from the daily death toll in Iraq. And it could get much worse.

Israel has enjoyed the loyalty of the U.S. for many reasons over the years, not the least of which being that until the Palestinian election, Israel was the sole democracy in the Middle East. As a consequence the U.S. has given more foreign aid to Israel than to any other nation on an annual basis. Israel is our ally in a region fraught with anti-American sentiment. But just as the U.S. has de-stabilized the Middle East with the invasion of Iraq, Israel threatens to de-stabilize the Middle East further with the attack on Gaza.

The capture of soldiers in wartime is reprehensible but within the bounds of the rules of war, so long as that prisoner of war is kept safe. The imperiling aspect of the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier is that Israel and Palestine are not officially at war and the radical wing of Hamas has never played by anyone's rules but their own. Israel knows this, the West knows this and thus allowing Israel to take action against a group that is considered terrorist was within accepted actions by the U.S. and the EU.

But diplomatic recourse has never been optioned by Israel in the nearly 35 years since the slaughter of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games. The refusal to have dialogue with groups declared terrorist has hampered the Mideast peace process for decades and has precipitated the escalation of tensions between Israel and Palestine since the February elections. Now the two countries are at a volatile stalemate in which two newly elected governments feel compelled to prove themselves to their constituents and both believe the only way to do so is through intransigence and violence.

Israel, however, has the real power in the conflict and thus, as the titular democracy, must take the appropriate action: withdraw from Gaza immediately, stop all bombing and shelling and rebuild the bombed-out electrical system as quickly as possible. The West must call on Israel to do this. Where the U.N. failed to negotiate with the U.S. over the invasion of Iraq and failed again to sanction the U.S. over the illegal action of the invasion into Iraq, the U.N. cannot make the same mistake again. The stability of the Middle East could depend on taking action.

Many say Israel is held to a higher standard in the Middle East than other nations in the region. That's true, Israel *is* held to a higher standard. But the reason Israel is held to a higher standard is because Israel places itself there: Israel declares itself a democracy, yet it has failed to enfranchize all its citizens. Israel targets members of terrorist groups for assassination and carries out those attacks with planes and missiles in crowded civilian areas in Palestine, inevitably killing innocent civilians, including children. Fewer and fewer of the actual assassination targets have been killed. Israel disregards the very rules it demands Hamas follow.

The threat Israel feels from its neighbors is a real one; Israel has been attacked repeatedly from all sides with little or no recrimination from neighboring countries, some of whom still refuse to even place Israel on their maps. But Israel poses a threat to its neighbors as well. As the only nuclear power in the region–and one that has continually threatened to use nuclear weapons in retaliation if attacked again. Israel wields a power that never gets discussed in the West (even though it was France which gave Israel its nuclear weaponry), even as the West decries the budding nuclear power of Iran.

Israel cannot continue to get a free pass on international law just because it is a democracy in a region of monarchies, totalitarian governments and dictatorships. Israel must comply with the same rules set forth by the U.N. that the rest of the world is expected to follow. The assault on Gaza falls far outside those rules of engagement and must cease.

The West must learn to criticize Israel when it is necessary, as it is now, and refuse to accept the libel of anti-Semitism. But most importantly Israel must remember it is a nation much of the world holds very dear and accept that the price of imperialism and colonization will always be too high to pay–whether it is with one young soldier's life or with the selling of one's collective national soul.


 

In response to, "We all wish to be able to congratulate Virginia's new junior Senator James Webb on the evening of this November 7th," Robert Scardapane writes:

I agree. I think we have to give candidates some latitude. Some states, such as Virginia, are just more conservative than others. I like what James Webb has to say. I supported him over the repulsive former ITAA lobbyist Harris Miller in the Democratic primary. Mr. Webb has an excellent shot at beating Allen and will be an ally in bringing the Iraq fiasco to a quick end.



In response to Lew Warden's Automated Tax, Noah Greenberg writes:

"We are all the more reconciled to the tax on importation, because it falls exclusively on the rich...In fact, the poor man in this country who uses nothing but what is made within his own farm or family, or within the United States, pays not a farthing of tax to the general government...the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone..."
-Thomas Jefferson

“As income levels rise, levels of consumption tend to fall. Thus it is often argued that economic demand can be stimulated by reducing tax burden on lower incomes while raising the burden on higher incomes.”
-From Reasons to implement progressive tax


We have all seen what the Bush administration Tax give-back to his "Base" of "Haves and Have-Mores" have gotten us so far: A hugely and possible insurmountable deficit to go along with a record number of working-age Americans out of work (37.1 percent as compared to 34.9 percent at the same time during the Clinton administration). A flat tax, consumption tax, or an Automated Tax on all financial transactions does away wit the notion which Thomas Jefferson (see above) stood for.

Before one should be taxed, one should be ale to feed one's family. Needless to say, at hat same time, one should also be ablr to bring his o her sick child to a doctor, but that's another argument against the Bush "base" of "Haves and Have Mores'" philosophy of every man for himself. (Or as I like to call it, the "YO-YO" philosophy - "You're on your own".)

Before we tax the very poor, we should realize that they simply can't afford it, an Lew Warden's idea of a transaction tax in lieu of a progressive income tax just doesn't wash with me.

If, on the other hand, Lew were to make this an added tax on luxury goods (boats; luxury, gas-guzzling cars; furs and such), I would go along with it. If the tax excluded foods we consider staples of life and medicines (not including Viagra and Cialis, of course) in addition to making it an added tax, I would agree as well. But as a substitute it brings only more hardship on Americans who will end up with the burden of having to pay for it.

Rich people can buy their boats in other nations, vacation in those other nations, and avoid paying the transaction tax while our middle class trips to the Jersey Shore and Disneyworld have the added pleasure of another tax placed upon us. It's similar to allowing outsourcing then not taxing the goods as they come in because the American manufacturer who outsourced the jobs in the first place tells us he already paid taxes (in another country) and shouldn't be taxed twice.

I only see the burden of this tax closing in more and more on the middle class family, Lew. Sorry, but on the surface, it just doesn't cut it for me.



And Robert Scardapane writes:

It's old news. We had a discussion about this in 2004. I don't see how it advances the cause of Democrats in 2006. My battle is not against forms of taxation, it's against the corporatists who are eating this country alive. I hope that we can get enough Dems in office in 2006 to stem the tide of fascism in this country ... it may already be too late.



In response to, "America is was never intended to be a 'Christian nation'. The founders did believe in
God but were intentionally generic in their references to God. They did not support any particular religion and tolerated people who did not believe in God. In fact, Thomas Jefferson was a theist - a person who believes in God but not in any organized religion. We must push back against the so-called 'Christian right' before they irreparably damage the traditions of our nation," Jenny Hanniver writes:

Jefferson needs to be read carefully, and there are many collected editions of his letters. He was definitely NOT a "theist". In his upbringing he was Anglican and in his youth became a deist. Deism was the all-encompassing religious belief of the intellectuals of the late 18th and early 19th century. It was the deists, with their radical definition of God, who were able to break away from theistic religion and give Americans our Bill of Rights. You are correct that America was not intended to be a Christian nation! That went against everything our founders believed--and disbelieved.

The deist definition of God is not remotely like the Judaeo-Christian one. Deists believed that God had created the universe long ago, so admirably that it that ran on its own and did not need to be interfered with. God, for all practical purposes, "retired" after the creation. Deists saw no need for miracles, no efficacy in prayer, no point in theology. They directed themselves to addressing the problems and realities of this world, not spending time speculating on God. This was summed up in Alexander Pope's "Essay on Man" with its famous couplet:

"Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is man."

Obviously many deists were secular humanists, and the most religious among them espoused a science-oriented nature mysticism they called natural religion. Looking at the full spectrum of deist belief, there's an enormous difference between deism and theism!

Natural religion emerged from the essays of Montaigne, as early as the Renaissance, and deism's political radicalism from the later French philosophers of the Enlightenment, especially Montesquieu (the inspirer of our Bill of Rights). Montaigne's actual beliefs are hard to discern but Montesquieu was a deist. So were Locke, Franklin, Paine, Spinoza, Newton, Hume, Goethe, Lessing, Priestley--in fact, the vast majority of poets, ethical philosophers, scientists and political radicals who brought society forward during the 17th to 19th centuries -- up through Abraham Lincoln, Italy's Garibaldi and Latin America's Bolivar. (There was one notable exception, Voltaire, who was an avowed atheist.)

One could belong to any religious faith and espouse deism, which was never a formal religion but a liberal philosophy of life shared by educated Euro-Americans. Many deists simply dropped out of formal religious observance, like Franklin and Paine. Most were nominally liberal Protestants like Goethe, but Alexander Pope was a liberal Roman Catholic and Baruch Spinoza was a secularized Jew. All deists disagreed in many fundamental ways with the faiths of their childhood and struggled with them, but some found reasons to maintain affiliation. Certain of the late 18th and early 19th century Unitarians, like scientist-clergyman Joseph Priestley, embraced deism--and both Unitarianism and Universalism began a great leap toward deism during the American Transcendentalist movement of the 1840s--but there would have been few deists around Cambridge at the turn of the 19th century. In a letter Jefferson wrote that the only formal faith he could support was Unitarianism, and he regretted that there was no Unitarian church near Monticello. However (as both a Unitarian Universalist and a student of religious history) I think that in those days New England Unitarianism--certainly the formal Harvard Divinity School variety--would have been too theist for Jefferson, as it still was for Thoreau, Emerson, Melville, Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller and the rest of the Transcendentalists decades later. Perhaps Jefferson realized that. His letters reveal that in his old age he became an agnostic.



And Rhian writes:

Actually, the United States of America was founded by Christians who separated themselves from Catholicism and it's intolerance of the Protestant movement.

'We hold these truths to be self evident, that all (mankind) are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain inalienable rights. . . .' Declaration of Independence

Once upon a time in the sixties, as baby boomers were working their way through colleges in one way or another, everyone decided there was no God and no Satan either. Very clever. Eh?

Most remembered about God later, but still forgot about Satan. The thing is, (and most mainstream eastern religions support this, as well as Native American tradition and one Christian church that I know of) the realm of God cannot exist unless there is evil. Evil is the realm of Satan. He is at work constantly to get followers. It is much easier for him to get followers if no one believes he exists, because he is one scary dude.
It is also easier for him if he panders initially with easy, pretty, harmless looking evil, before progressing to the big bad stuff. He has been around a long time and has many thousands of years of experience at enticing followers. He exists.

One trick the devil has learned, (and I think he discovered it with an ex-husband of mine) is that if he can get someone who is basically stupid with evil tendencies to pronounce that he is 'of God' then most people will let that basically stupid person with evil tendencies get away with almost anything, in a lull, before they become alarmed.

Sound like anyone we all know? The thing is, when the alarm sounds, 'of God' is thrown out with the stupidity and evil.

'We hold these truths to be self evident, that all (mankind) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain inalienable rights. . . . '

The Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is certainly based on a Christianity that did not even recognize Catholicism as Christian in the days of founding of this nation, because Catholicism had been usurped by kings and enforced by law without regard for free agency.

When God is tossed, Christianity hated for phony spokespersons is tossed, the Constitution, the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, becomes meaningless. Without the Constitution, and the concepts it embodies, despots will move in on the lull, to eliminate religion of all brands, including non-Christian religions like Islam.

It doesn't matter to Satan if you follow him down one path or another. What will matter to each person on earth, is the permanent homesickness (of the type suffered in Gulag or Abu Grab) that is the result of following him while mortal, when he collects you on your deathbed, separating you forever from your Creator.

With a Christian based law of the land, religions of personal choice can be organized and available. With any other law, this free choice is not available.

If Christianity dies, so does the Constitution, and liberty is gone. It makes no sense therefore, to throw out 'of God' along with stupidity and evil, even though there are people who are lying about whether they are 'of God' . We can be smarter than the devil, keep God and Christianity, ignore the liars, or impeach them, and keep our liberty, our Constitution, our freedoms.

'We hold these truths to be self evident, that all (mankind) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain, inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. . . . .'

It is Christianity (not including the liars about it) that is the operating system if you will, of the Constitution which allows the freedom to choose.


ps- (mankind) is paraphrased into the text of the Declaration of Independence, substituted for the word men, because women are now, equal before the law, voters, able to own land, initiate divorce, inherit, and were, at the time of the writing of the Declaration of Independence, not equal before the law.



In response to, "There were others more involved (in the Gore campaign), such as Shrum, and Donna Brazille, in Gore's case. Carville and Begala won the 1992 election for Clinton," Robert Scardapane writes:

Perhaps, I am being too tough on Carville. But, it's academic anyway as James Carville has already bowed out of politics. Now, Begala really bothers me. He may have helped Bill Clinton win but has been useless ever since. I did not appreciate Begala's put downs of Chairman Dean's 50 state strategy. Many of us are committed to that approach and have contributed considerable money. I have yet to hear Begala come up with a better idea.
Also, Begala was simply dreadful during Kerry's campaign - I winced each time I had seen him on TV. I fear that Begala may be a one trick pony.

I agree that Shrum is awful. He did a bad job with Kerry's campaign as well. I hope that we all agree that the DLC is useless. They are a corporatist "Democratic" think tank. Democrats would be advised to stay away from them.



In response to, "And now, thanks to the identification of the target (the Holland Tunnel), the terrorists will have to find another target," Robert Scardapane writes:

The way I read this is that it was yet another political terror alert. Doesn't it strike anyone as odd that they choose to announce this on the anniversary of the London underground bombing? It's terror, terror, terror and we will hear it right up to election day. It's all part of the Rethuglican 2006 campaign strategy (the same as 2004) ... oh yeah, watch out for diabolical Diebold machines once again!



And Pat Thompson writes:

Luckily New York City has its own intelligence in Europe and other places. Imagine that, a city in the US which has to defend itself. The federal government cares nothing about it, since they don't win elections there.


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-Noah Greenberg