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Thursday, February 02, 2006

The State of the Nation is ... WEIRD

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I saw history today, but I don't know what it means.

I don't know what I saw today: There was too much to take in at one squint. In the wee hours of the morning, I heard the breaking news that Coretta Scott King had died. Died in her sleep. Died after a long illness. The hours filled in details, as the story will grow in the weeks ahead.

It felt like the end of an era. Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King. History, but I don't see where it leads.

Then, I continued to wait for the filibuster fiasco to make sense. As a present to their self-crowned king, George, Senate Leader Bill Frist, who had stepped into the leadership role after Trent Lott, of whom King George had felt had not shewn proper respect and deference, and who shortly thence found himself embroiled in a firestorm over comments made at Strom Thurmond's 200th Birthday Party and was force to step down in favor of ... ah, Bill Frist was presenting the "head" of Samuel Alito to the "President" (King George's incognito role, a charming bumpkin who "really cares" about "protecting" America). A coronation token.

And then, trying to have their cake and eat it too, seventeen craven, despicable little senators switched their anti-filibuster vote to a "No" on Alito vote, and I thought, "What a nest of serpents." But it cleared something up. And later, watching the State of the Onion patriotic weeper, I saw Joe Lieberman, who had been the Vice Presidential candidate whose election King George had stolen, I saw Joe Lieberman stand alone of his section to applaud King George like someone whose wife and kids are being held at gunpoint at his house.

Alito was HUSTLED to be sworn in by Bush's Chief Injustice, John Roberts, who had promised Oregon's Ron Wyden that he wouldn't touch Oregon's "Death With Dignity" law, and promptly lied and voted to strike it down.

Somehow, when I think of a judge, I think of someone I could trust not to lie to me. When I think of a Chief Justice who will lie to me in any way to get what he wants, I shudder a little at WHAT he wants.

And such a serpent then swore in "in a private ceremony" Alito, so that he could be perfumed, rouged, his judicial robe tailored and shoved into the front row of the Onion Stating festivities, a symbol of the power and the majesty of his majesty, George, King of Kinginess.

And when, during the Onion Stating itself, King George made a sly joke about his father, the former, would-be King George I, and one William Jefferson Clinton, the antiChrist King George had run against (and not Sir Albert of Gore), I thought,"Good God: he ever needs to publicly subvert his conquered foes."

King George opened with a carefully, if hastily written "new" section of the speech he'd been practicing all week, paying homage to Coretta Scott King, and pretending to be the greatest friend that Blacks ever had (King George spent his entire first "term" with black children in his lap at photo-ops).

The sly minister, Count "Machiavelli" Rove had successfully suckered the press with "preliminary" speech releases, and background stories that the Onion Stated would be mostly a domestic Onion, and very little a Foreign War Against either Saddam or Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden or all "Terrorism" everywhere, which really, really WAS a war, and therefore triggered the super-secret, little known codicil of the Constitution -- that document whose subversion finally undid the Common Law mischief called the Magna Carta that had started this whole "rights," "assemblies," "voting," and "rights" nonsense in the first place -- that clearly gave King George his unlimited Imperial powers.

And such an Onion was precisely that which didst King George vouchsafe midway through his Stateing. I have constitutional powers. I am using my powers to bypass congress and the courts during my vaguely defined "War" to PROTECT America from future September 11's.

And I thought, leave it to King George to One-Up Adolph Hitler. Hitler took power by forcing the German Assembly to pass the Enabling Act after the burning of the Reichstag. King George asserts that, following the Elevening of September, Congress PASSED the enabling act, and they have just forgot it.

The Media, always being fair and balanced, makes sure that it's six on one, half dozen of another, and I thought of poor Sir Thomas Moore, put to death for refusing to say that what he thought was wrong was right to please a megalomaniacal king.

And I thought of strange old Leo Strauss, that Chicago Philosophy professor who has put forth the Machiavellian principles of the so-called "Neo-Cons" (a modern, subtle term for the Cavaliers), including the necessity of lying, and the doctrine of perpetual war to unite the "lesser" men that the Karl Roves are supposed to manipulate, men addicted to and intoxicated by glory.

And you have to admire King George for the sheer cheek, the sheer brass, the utter brazenness of his astonishing lie -- after warming us up with, "We're Winning" and how it's everybody's birthright and destiny to have Liberty, even as he denies American liberties, even as he ends the liberty to attend a speech of the Office Formerly Known As The Presidency. Even as he praises a democracy that he is hostile to in Palestine, and here at home.

It's called chutzpah in spades. And, if successful, I will have morphed the "king" metaphor into reality with nearly the same degree of aplomb that royal George has morphed figurative War into literal war and back again. And how he's morphed "Commander in Chief" into Caesar.


Cindy Sheehan got herself arrested in the gallery before the King had arrived, and I thought that her timing was impeccable, and I thought of the suffragettes who had been arrested for unfurling banners at a similar presidential speech, and, for the first time didst I apprehend the concept behind the colloquialism of recent vintage, "You go girl."

Well, she did. And let's stop talking about "spine" and "balls" and "guts" and the rest. Let's just call it moral backbone. Compared to Cindy, seventeen Democratic Senators are single-celled sacks of formless protoplasm.

With such as these are we to defend ourselves from a "POTUS" gone mad? Today was the coronation of his King's Court. Today was his self-announced proclamation as Emperor. (Either that, or else it was the first time that any United States President used the State of the Onion speeking to confess to a series of felonies. But then, George IS already the first President to serve who IS a convicted felon. You could look it up.)

With such as these, who would enthrone the bloody coat hanger and the endless war; who would pretend to vote against a man whose appointment only the day before they had assured; with such as THESE are we supposed to form opposition?

Good grief.

If there is a mercy in Coretta Scott King's death, it may surely be that she did not have to live for a single day under the New King's Court, the Canon Law Court, the Robots Court.

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a class action suit on behalf of the telephone company customers whose provider handed over their lines to the NSA. That case may well be decided by this court.

At least we have Cindy Sheehan, who was arrested for wearing a T-shirt. We are now being protected from T-shirts.

I saw history today. I don't know what it means, but
The Onion Hath Been Stated
whence the
POTUS* had been sated.
Though my grousing be belated
Our Stars have lost their luck

An evening of intoning
though it felt like nasty boning
and endlessly the droning
And none to give a ... darn.

* POTUS = Secret Service Speak for P resident O f T he U nited S tates. Any slip between POTUS and "Potentate" or ruler, is strictly Freudian. The First Lady is, FLOTUS, the Supreme Court is SCOTUS, and Vice President Cheney is a Dick.
Sunday, January 29, 2006

I had pointed out that they're going after the internet. The degree of freedom of speech -- speech that THEY don't like -- on the internet is a thorn in the side of any regime dedicated to controlling information:
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Yesterday, in one of my little throwaways, I mentioned that "There is now talk about reining that in, too, by attacking the ISP's with Homeland Security snooping, and liability for allowing seditious talk."

Well, it turns out that I was inadvertently reporting breaking news. Not only is Phase I underway, but it was achieved in a particularly chilling and underhanded manner ...
And the beat goes on:

BBC Friday, 27 January 2006, 18:05 GMT

US plans to 'fight the net' revealed
By Adam Brookes -- BBC Pentagon correspondent

A newly declassified document gives a fascinating glimpse into the US military's plans for "information operations" - from psychological operations, to attacks on hostile computer networks. The document says information is "critical to military success"


As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the modern media offer. From influencing public opinion through new media to designing "computer network attack" weapons, the US military is learning to fight an electronic war....


When it describes plans for electronic warfare, or EW, the document takes on an extraordinary tone. It seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons system.

"Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will 'fight the net' as it would an enemy weapons system," it reads. The slogan "fight the net" appears several times throughout the roadmap.

The authors warn that US networks are very vulnerable to attack by hackers, enemies seeking to disable them, or spies looking for intelligence. "Networks are growing faster than we can defend them ... Attack sophistication is increasing ... Number of events is increasing." ...
Told ja so.

And I had warned about the effect of a majority of Catholic justices on the Supreme Court (significantly, in the Death With Dignity case, new Chief Justice Roberts joined with Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in a [fundamentally religious] automatic presumption that allowing a terminally ill patient to self-administer a lethal dose of medication could not POSSIBLY be "proper" medical practice.

I said this:
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

[*Note: I am not anti-Catholic, as might seem the case from recent writings. I AM against the Catholic heirarchy interfering in our internal secular politics, and the recent position of the Church has been to openly interfere in presidential elections -- witness Father Frank Pavone and his "Priests for Life" all but openly campaigning for Bush, and then-Cardinal Ratzinger's suggestion that Catholic John Kerry be denied Communion for his pro-choice stance. This is deadly dangerous, and a majority of Catholic jurists INVITES papal mischief. Sadly, this has not and cannot even be discussed, else "anti-Catholic!" screeching be heard.]
And, the following day, Pope Benedict, nee Cardinal Ratzinger, issued his first Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, or "God is ... caritas." (based on an old Cat Stevens song?). It's being translated in the media as "God is Love," but, as per usual, they're missing the specific intent of the Encyclical, and the message being sent. The Pope is reaffirming St. Augustine's initial formulation of Catholic doctrine. Here, according to Richard Hooker of Washington State University (Hooker is an historian of some breadth and sagacity, and you ought to read the entire article cited, if you have a couple of minutes ...)

Augustine, though, was more concerned with what made the will go wrong. He was particularly fascinated by the fact that one could will contradictory things. I don't want to commit adultery but I do it anyway, or, in his most famous words, "Give me chastity . . . but not yet."

So he formulated the human will as being in reality two wills. There is a carnal self that wills sinful actions and a spiritual self that wills belief, self-denial, and ethical actions-in much the same way that human communities in history are divided into a City of Man and a City of God. The carnal will he called cupiditas, or cupidity, and the spiritual will he called caritas, which is the Latin translation of the Christian term, agape, which means "selfless love." But caritas is more than selfless love; it is the will to be like God and to be united with God. It is, in simple terms, the will to God, while cupidity is the will to flesh.

These two wills are in constant battle with one another; they are absolutely antithetical and desire completely different objects. When Augustine trains his eye on individual psychology, what he formulates a self divided against itself; this sense of self-division would become the most lasting legacy of Augustianism to the medieval and modern worlds. We still, in fact, carry around the sense that we are deeply divided against ourselves.

The formulation of the carnal self, that is, the will that is impelled towards sinful objects, lies behind Augustine's radical reformulation of sexuality. From its foundation, Christianity was antithetical to sexuality in a strongly gendered way-foundational and early Christianity focussed very heavily on female sexuality and homosexuality as typifying sexuality in general.
And what did the Encyclical say? (Along, of course, with a warning from the Vatican press to any presumptuous publishers who would attempt to reprint it. The Church holds copyright, the press release notes).

Find the whole thing here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/

First, the restatement (and hostility towards sexuality that, one surmises, a celibate priest might harbor) of the Augustinian premises:

"Eros" and "Agape" - difference and unity

3. That love between man and woman which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings, was called eros by the ancient Greeks. Let us note straight away that the Greek Old Testament uses the word eros only twice, while the New Testament does not use it at all: of the three Greek words for love, eros, philia (the love of friendship) and agape, New Testament writers prefer the last, which occurs rather infrequently in Greek usage. As for the term philia, the love of friendship, it is used with added depth of meaning in Saint John's Gospel in order to express the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. The tendency to avoid the word eros, together with the new vision of love expressed through the word agape, clearly point to something new and distinct about the Christian understanding of love. In the critique of Christianity which began with the Enlightenment and grew progressively more radical, this new element was seen as something thoroughly negative. According to Friedrich Nietzsche, Christianity had poisoned eros, which for its part, while not completely succumbing, gradually degenerated into vice. Here the German philosopher was expressing a widely-held perception: doesn't the Church, with all her commandments and prohibitions, turn to bitterness the most precious thing in life? Doesn't she blow the whistle just when the joy which is the Creator's gift offers us a happiness which is itself a certain foretaste of the Divine?

4. But is this the case? Did Christianity really destroy eros? Let us take a look at the pre-Christian world. The Greeks-not unlike other cultures-considered eros principally as a kind of intoxication, the overpowering of reason by a "divine madness" which tears man away from his finite existence and enables him, in the very process of being overwhelmed by divine power, to experience supreme happiness. All other powers in heaven and on earth thus appear secondary: "Omnia vincit amor" says Virgil in the Bucolics-love conquers all-and he adds: "et nos cedamus amori"-let us, too, yield to love. In the religions, this attitude found expression in fertility cults, part of which was the "sacred" prostitution which flourished in many temples. Eros was thus celebrated as divine power, as fellowship with the Divine.

The Old Testament firmly opposed this form of religion, which represents a powerful temptation against monotheistic faith, combating it as a perversion of religiosity. But it in no way rejected eros as such; rather, it declared war on a warped and destructive form of it, because this counterfeit divinization of eros actually strips it of its dignity and dehumanizes it. Indeed, the prostitutes in the temple, who had to bestow this divine intoxication, were not treated as human beings and persons, but simply used as a means of arousing "divine madness": far from being goddesses, they were human persons being exploited.
And then, later on, this strange, Freudian slip of a philosophical point:
10. We have seen that God's eros for man is also totally agape. This is not only because it is bestowed in a completely gratuitous manner, without any previous merit, but also because it is love which forgives. Hosea above all shows us that this agape dimension of God's love for man goes far beyond the aspect of gratuity. Israel has committed "adultery" and has broken the covenant; God should judge and repudiate her.
WHAT??!? OK, there is an extended metaphor or homily or preachment there, which I'm not doing justice to, but doesn't there seem a fundamental hostility towards sexuality? Isn't he trying to make Augustine's point again? "God's eros for man"? God wants to have sex with us? Because, face it, kids, "eros" has a very specific meaning, and it ain't snuggling with God and drinking hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire after everyone else has gone to bed.

This is pure-dee ... weird stuff.

And, of course, the inevitable preachment against sex by someone not allowed to have it (except, perhaps, with God):
5. [...] Nowadays Christianity of the past is often criticized as having been opposed to the body; and it is quite true that tendencies of this sort have always existed. Yet the contemporary way of exalting the body is deceptive. Eros, reduced to pure "sex", has become a commodity, a mere "thing" to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity. This is hardly man's great "yes" to the body. On the contrary, he now considers his body and his sexuality as the purely material part of himself, to be used and exploited at will. Nor does he see it as an arena for the exercise of his freedom, but as a mere object that he attempts, as he pleases, to make both enjoyable and harmless. Here we are actually dealing with a debasement of the human body: no longer is it integrated into our overall existential freedom; no longer is it a vital expression of our whole being, but it is more or less relegated to the purely biological sphere. The apparent exaltation of the body can quickly turn into a hatred of bodiliness. Christian faith, on the other hand, has always considered man a unity in duality, a reality in which spirit and matter copenetrate, and in which each is brought to a new nobility. True, eros tends to rise "in ecstasy" towards the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing.
But the sucker punch is hidden down below:
28. [...]This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State. Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith. Its aim is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just.

The Church's social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. It recognizes that it is not the Church's responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church's immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.

The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.
Got that? The Church shouldn't get involved in politics.

Whew! That's sure a relief. Except ...
29. [...] We have seen that the formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason. The Church has an indirect duty here, in that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor prove effective in the long run.

The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. So they cannot relinquish their participation "in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good."

The mission of the lay faithful is therefore to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility. Even if the specific expressions of ecclesial charity can never be confused with the activity of the State, it still remains true that charity must animate the entire lives of the lay faithful and therefore also their political activity, lived as "social charity".
Got it? WE, as the Church won't interfere in politics, but it is the DUTY of our church members to engage in the "social charity" of carrying out Church doctrine in the name of "justice."

Like Scalia and Roberts and Thomas do.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

And don't you be having none of that debased sex, neither.

Told ya so.

hart williams
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