Monday, December 31, 2007

the calculus of time

Chronos to-night ushers out the old year. He is pagan Greece's Old Man Time or Father Time. One can reflect on the year gone by. Major papers, and some news broadcasts, recount those who have died during the past year, and what events—good,bad,important,otherwise—have occurred. We can all reflect upon our, personal history during the same. One more annum has had its grains of sand deposited at the bottom of the figure eight glass. I am not an aficionado of the genre, but the line is quite good: "Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Beckoning Becket

At Christmas, in the last century, we could catch a version of The Christmas Carol on television. I enjoy the 1938 version with
Reginald Owen, and the colorized 1951 Alastair Sim version. To-day, would be the day to see Richard Burton, in the movie adaptation, as the archbishop, of Jean Anouilh's play, Becket ou l'honneur de Dieu.

Thomas à Becket†1170, we remember today, is a valiant reminder who shows us the price that is taken when we grant our conscience to rise above outside and presumptive authority. Other men such as Thomas More†1535, and Stanislaus of Szczepanów†1079, suffered martyrdom for the authority of God over the local tyrant of state. It took time, but these men were canonized, their sainthood officially recognized. Virtually all of us find ourselves in a society, and state, where the ruling authority demands us, believe, that they are THE authority. We, who act on our inner voices of natural sense of justice, know that God has granted all men, reason, and reason can discern propriety within equity and justice. We are all inherently born to a developing conscience, that by nature knows right from wrong, and what is consistent and subsistent to what.

The site of Becket's murder, Canterbury Cathedral, became a great shrine of pilgrimage [re: Chaucer]. As king Henry II Plantagenet had, his former friend and chancellor, Thomas à Becket, dispatched by the words, "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"; king Henry VIII Tudor had, his former friend and chancellor, Thomas More, dispatched by false witness at a political trial. Henry VIII, must have seen some similarity, had Becket's shrine destroyed, his bones burned, and his ashes dispatched. King
Boleslaus II Smialy's knights, did not carry out his request, would not kill Stanislaus, his archbishop. Boleslaus wielded his own sword to clash against Stanislaus, at the altar; and had his body dismembered and dispatched.

There are way too many men who relinquish their sense to over reaching authority. Authority is circumscribed to its jurisdiction and proper scope of operation, outside this limited area it has no right to authority. Those who wield authority are prone to become unbound by their desire of egoism and self aggrandisement. In Job, God says he battled Leviathan, but everywhere there are pretenders to become a new Leviathan, a new Pharoa, a new Caesar. James Stuart and Louis Quatorse presumed, they were given their reign, by God himself, and that all who were subject to them, were completely subject to them. In the centuries before Christ, the greeks contrasted their democracy with persian tyranny. When Ptolemy gained Egypt, he was told Pharoa was a god. He said, that, he was not. They said that, then, he can't rule. Ptolemy said that, then, he'll be a god.

To-day some fraudulent quacksters say that gwbushjr is the unitary executive. This is the XXIst century avatar of Pharoa and the divine right to rule. We do not have any Beckets to-day.

King: Do you know how much trouble I went through to make you a noble?
Becket: Yes, as I recall, you lifted your finger, pointed at me and said, "Thomas Becket, you are noble." ― Anouilh

Becket: The Church is ever at variance with the kings, and ever at one with the poor. ― Tennyson

Sceptre and crozier clashing, and the mitre grappling the crown ― Tennyson

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Blair, Huckabee, Christianity & Politics

Tony Blair, Mike Huckabee, Christianity and Politics

The rôle of religion in the pursuit of political power is quite an intrigue. Tony Blair has entered into the catholic faith after the end of his political career. He attained and maintained the highest political office in his land. Mike Huckabee is attempting to obtain the highest political office in his land. Huckabee is a Baptist minister and has used those arrows in his quiver a plenty.

Blair entered the church AFTER it could signify anything in his work, either to advance the faith in his land or, to suffer for it from public opposition. Huckabee is utilizing, as adroitly as he possibly can, any advantage christianity, in the public sphere, can gain him. The political use of the pulpit in protestant churches is part and parcel of the political life of the United States.

In Britain there has been a steady trickle of individuals into the Catholic Church since the emancipation (1829). Some of the finest minds in the land, men who would be cardinals: Newman and Manning; writers: Greene, Sitwell, Hopkins, Waugh, Thompson, Muggeridge ... There has been relatives of the queen, who need special dispensation, and thereby, remove themselves from succession. These people are referred to as crossing the Tiber or having "poped".

Recent news reports have confirmed, what many knew, that on Sunday there are more Catholics in church than Anglicans. Many are of irish and polish nationality and other non sassenach extraction; but still, those from either the high end or the low end of social prestige are free to be Catholics. In the Daily Mail, Katie Grant has the succinct :
Yet Mr Blair did not convert when it would have been hard, he converted when it was easy.
Blair in Parliament, took anti-Catholic positions on many issues, including abortion and, perhaps, the greatest being -- toadying Britain in support of Bush, in his imperial invasion, in a war of aggression. Both, the arrogant buffoon, Bush, and Tony Blair tried to have the papacy, in the person of John Paul II, a man who lived under both german and communist occupation, either support or countenance war. Naturally, this did not happen.

Tony now joins the church militant at Christmastide. For an Anglican, has already been baptised as a christian, all he needed was to give a good confession in the private secrecy of a confessional, but in such a public life should not a public accounting be à-propos?

As a couple of quotations more than amply suggest that public use of religion in British life is discouraged in today's Britannia.
Alastair Campbell, Blair's press secretary -- 'We don't do God.'"
Blair, himself -- "You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you're a nutter."
But in protestant America, the charlatan, huckster preacher is ubiquitous; also the preacher has been a responsible community leader and spokesman in the negro [now black], and in the southern milieux. These two have often combined. In the anti-catholic, and anti-papal, propaganda the ever present charge, IS, that the priest, the pope dictate everything to the mindless catholic congregant. Yet, this is exceedingly rare. A mass is not interrupted to present a politician! In homilies, a priest may speak at length on certain issues and causes that a christian, and especially a catholic christian, ought to concern himself with; some of his congregation will agree whole-heartedly, but silently; others will be annoyed and vexed to the point, that they will complain to the bishop. Some catholics, too distinctly, separate their sacred lives from their public lives. This is in great contrast to the evangelical protestants, in particular.*

Very recently, Huckabee went to San Antonio, Tejas; not to the Cathedral of San Fernando, but to the megachurch of John Hagee. Outside of certain circles, this name means nothing. I have read and heard people say that he is a television evangelist. He has been profiled on 60 Minutes as a christian zionist. He fancies himself a published historian. What can be quickly gleaned, is that he, Hagee, is a cheerleader for Armageddon, and a lying, anti-catholic bigot. Since these two positions are so disgusting, and must ought be so outré, that it is difficult to gage his sanity or sincerity. Yet, Mike is there, immediately before Christmas, in a state that will reliably vote Republican, in a city where its culture, to a significant degree, is pre-anglo, pre-wasp; and all this importunes what in the Iowa campaign?

Huckabee has given sermons in his former career. These are not available, now, to the public. Huckabee was a radio and television broadcaster. I have met, worked with, evangelicals who offer me recordings of their pastors' talks. They encourage me to listen to them on local a.m. radio. They have played them for my edification at work. I was passive to this, and did not take up their offers, and they were not particularly interested in my views. I have met several of his co-religionists, in the course of my life, and to say, that, they have been hostile to catholicism is an understatement. The kindest were dismissive, the more assertive were unpleasant. Historical fact meant nothing. They share a created legend of history and, not only do they have an interpretation of their beliefs, they have one of mine. They expound with cheney like certainty on catholics and catholicism.

Huckabee is not a candidate of the Republican establishment, that would be Romney and Giuliani. A great deal of his programme I can agree with. Sam Brownback had some, similar positions, and worked Iowa from neighboring Kansas -- he gained no traction amongst Iowa's evangelicals and was easily dispatched. But, there are some unspoken, but fully understood, positions that, I, never could affirm, agree, accept or in anyway be a part of either as a democrat or a Catholic. This appearance with Hagee implies comfortability with dominionism.†
*This is also the case amongst mohammedans.
†An evangelical protestant fascism.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Feast of the Nativity

Christmas Praeconium -- The Proclamation of the Birth of Christ

On the eighth day before the Calends of January:
  • the year from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created Heaven and Earth, five thousand one hundred and ninety-nine;
  • from the deluge, the year two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven;
  • from the birth of Abraham, the year two thousand and fifteen;
  • from Moses and the going out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the year one thousand five hundred and ten; from David’s being anointed king, the year one thousand and thirty two;
  • in the sixty fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
  • in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
  • from the building of the city of Rome, the year seven hundred and fifty-two;
  • in the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
  • the whole world being in peace; in the sixth age of the world;
  • Jesus Christ, the eternal God, and Son of the eternal Father, wishing to consecrate this world by His most merciful coming, being conceived of the Holy Ghost, and nine months since His conception having passed, in Bethlehem of Juda, is born of the Virgin Mary, being made man. The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

walmart steel mill

Margaret Bourke-White. Otis Steel. 1928. Cleveland, O.
Today, just before nightfall, which this time of the year is late afternoon, I joined with some seventy people in a peaceful assembly to speak freely to Walmart, to ask them to treat their employees justly. The speakers in the crowd included a lutheran, and a baptist minister, and a communist high school student. The event was co-ördinated by an inter religious task force, a sales clerk local and national labor justice organization. The last speaker was an older, possibly retired, steelworker, who told the group what had been on the grounds before: Otis Steel Co., then Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., then LTV steel mill and dumping lagoon. The lagoon was part of the Cuyahoga river. A man was dressed up in full Santa Claus regalia, people held up placards and lit candles in cups. A couple tunes were sung with appropriate lyrics praying on the behalf of Walmart and their workers.

The assembly stood upon a grass strip next to a bus stop, with part of its throng facing the street, attracting some attention and honks from passing motorists. There was an outline of remaining snow piles along the edges and the air was windy with the temperature near 33°F.

A republican state representative was amongst the protesters. No media coverage was to be seen. This is not the sort of activity they cover. They had been down here covering the opening of different stores and the pre-opening waits for electronic consumer items, the day after Thanksgiving, and other shopping stories, but they have no interest in showing to any audience, any interference with
commerce: for these outfits pay for advertising in their mediums and as Coolidge said, in his statement which defines fascism, "the business of America is business". Shopping center and store security and management huddled, at a distance from the group, towards the back of a huge parking lot. Two cops, with bullet proof vests and vice squad identification, joined that group and then, suddenly, four police cruisers came and parked ajumbo about this knot of co-ordinating apprehension.

A police peloton came forward and their spokesman announced that the assembly was to break up and disperse, they were free to go and demonstrate beyond the shopping center drive. A group organizer told him that the action was very near ending. The policeman held up six fingers and said you have five minutes. In a short time people went on their ways. The largest business in the United States was free and the forces of the state kept it so.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sword of faith

I have encountered a gentleman, who suggested to me, that, perhaps, mohammedanism is a non-violent religion when it is true to its core beliefs; certainly there are adherents, whom, in their personal lives are above reproach in this area, and can quote appropriate koranic passages as proof texts. We all know many examples, even in our circles of acquaintances and, perhaps our own selves, who are violent and follow other beliefs, that we claim, to be pacific.

When one sees the Sa'udi flag, other than the background moslem green, one sees the calligraphic thuluth script, the shahadah: There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger, and beneath it a sword. That specific sword commemorates Ibn Sa'ud, but most people can not know that. Recently, the sa'udi king presented the pope with a sword. This is the sword of victorious conflict. People see a sword and it refers to what a sword naturally refers to. That is only one item, but let us proceed, that flag is even more totemic than other flags. Since, the holy words are presented, it must be able to be read correctly from both sides, so two flags are sown together. In the US the flag is made into an idol, it is more so with the Sa'udis. Careful behavior must not go beyond the proscribed limits or hell will be raised. Historically, the arab tribes were fetishists, as the content of the ka'ba testified. One can pose this as a continuity.

In secular [sic] Turkey, yesterday, 16 December, another Catholic priest has been attacked, stabbed in Izmir (Smyrna). He flaunted his presence in a church. Anatolia, once the home of some of the most ancient christian communities, is being "cleansed" by these provocations. Even criticism and exposure of such acts are dangerous, after all would not a cryptic greek say such things.

Within the sufi tradition there is a peaceful mysticism, but do mohammedans accept this as normative? or are sufis only tolerated when they are physically distant? Can the genesis of mohammedan belief be considered non-violently. Certainly, the rapid spread of the faith was spread by the sword and only stopped by military force: Charles Martel 732/3 at Tours/Poitiers, Spain was not finally freed from the Moors until 1492, the Turkish advance failed to break a siege at Vienna in 1529, the naval power of the Turks was destroyed at Lepanto in 1571 with fleets combined under Don Juan of Austria, and outside Vienna, in 1683, Jan Sobieski defeated and stopped the Turks. Since then they have not been expanding, but no one has ever considered them peaceful.

With danish cartoons, Salman Rushdie's writing, a dutch film, Benedict's citing academically a mediaeval quotation, a stuffed toy, night time rioting in France ... the extreme response is so easily elicited, it can be no surprise for someone to doubt the inherent peacefulness of islam. Especially, when the caveat, that the faith and the prophet must be defended and never insulted, is violently put into force.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

a comedy snow bowl

Local broadcasts of "news", here, are very poor. The station with the worst broadcast has a two and half hour programme in the late afternoon, that extends to the early evening. Today would they have a weekday would be their dream. There is a home game for the Browns football team in a snowy and windy mess. They often have two weather people, a heliocopter (grounded in this weather) and on location reporters to tell what anyone who looks out the window can see. They cover the football team with fawning obsequiousness. So, conveniently, there is very little news to report on in the remainder of time, not allotted for advertisements, free or paid and mindless chat. When they cover news, it is a mix of fires, automobile collisions and occasional murders and petty and sometime violent larceny only balanced by some minor human interest or health story.

The football team is owned by the son of a credit card magnate. A government financed gift of a new stadium was given his father, and this summer there was a several million dollar plumbing problem that no one has paid for. Boondoggles to benefit the rich, in what is at certain points of time measured as the poorest city in the United States, is the rule here. Entrepreneurs that are the gem of the free market propaganda are the recipients of welfare largesse and receive their bounty without dissent.

I looked forward to watch this game within the comforts of home. The game was forecast to be played in silly weather and it was. In such a game talent and ability are neutralized by the physical environment. Luck decides the game more than most. Sustained organized drives of the ball will not happen. Interesting kicking will be highlighted. The central players are place kickers and punters. The score will be baseball like and a shutout is possible. I would like to see a 4 to 3 or a 5 to 4 score. I look forward to an enjoyable, sloppy, slapstick comedy.

The game is not to be the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field heroics, temperatures are in the wet, heavy, snow range. No markings are visible on the field. I expect a game of kicks, fumbles and foibles; of men falling on each other and falling alone. What can one expect when the ball will be invisible, cloaked behind swirling snow and fall dead to the ground if not nudged by bodies and squirted from hands.

The local hullabaloo boosts and boasts like babbits. The truth is that Cleveland benefited from an easy schedule playing some of the weakest teams in the NFL and did not beat all of them and beat no strong teams. Today they're playing a wounded Buffalo as a home game. Mathematical statistics give the home team a field goal advantage. In this sort of weather offensive statistics will be often anemic, and a field goal could be the entire score.

The game was played, surprisingly, without turnovers. All the scoring came in the first half. Phil Dawson made a 35 yard and, near the end of the second quarter a marvelous, 48 yard field goal -- spectacular under the conditions. It was a very low kick hitting the stanchion, immediately behind the crossbar, dead center within a hand span: 8 - 0.

Buffalo went for a pass on fourth down and eleven on the 23, instead of a field goal in the first quarter, and were in no proximity to the goal line until the last minute of the game. Buffalo put up two points, for Cleveland, on a punting attempt that sailed over the punter, who then kicked the ball, from the end zone, directly into the stands, in perhaps, the most memorable play of the game. After the subsequent free kick and penalty, the referee had difficulty in finding the spot to place the ball and that was the game.

Rose Candle


Rejoice! Today the rose candle lights. In Advent we wait anxiously for Our Lord to appear. The days are getting darker, but with His arrival every day becomes more and more bright. The year's physical progression is reflected in the church's calendar, a form of poetical agreement, though critics scoff through their unbelief. As Dickens limned Scrooge before his ghostly encounters provided him a path to enlightened repentance, we have Dawkins and deacons of dire digressions to denounce our season of preparation and eventual celebration. Humbug to those who deal humbug no matter of what faction or flavor. Emmanuel is with us.

The introit antiphon for to-day, the third Sunday of Advent, is :
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near[nigh]. ~ from Philippians iiii . 4-5.~ gaudete in Domino semper iterum dico gaudete ... Dominus prope

Friday, December 14, 2007

Huckabee and the Catholic

As a Catholic and a democrat, I would be of no party to a Republican primary or caucus or anything. As a human being, I could support no one who does not publicly admit that Bush and his war are gravely wrong, and that is about the mildest expression of the obvious I will accept.

Giuliani, Tancredo and Thompson all fall into the continuum of wacky and despicable. McCain who was savaged by the bushevik-rove campaign has not come out against Bush; he did valiantly try to stop torture, but it was unconstitutionally overruled by a "signing statement". What is that device? It is similar to an edict or an ukase, which are the personal dictates of an emperor. Precisely for this reason anyone who does not denounce Bush is no democrat.

Romney is an ambitious opportunist. This is quite common for both businessmen and politicians. People have questioned his religion. The Constitution forbids this. Whatever his beliefs are, in that area, are not germane to his candidacy, it could only be if he were trying to implement his religion to control the government and this is not the accusation against him.

He is trying to get his party's nomination and that party is over represented by evangelical protestants, whom are bothered by a non-christian candidate. They more vociferously attacked Al Smith in the1920s and John Kennedy in 1960. Smith, "the happy warrior", responded repeatedly, firmly and well against the bigots, especially against the Klan and Senator Cotton Tom Heflin of Alabama.* Kennedy went in front of a sanhedrin of protestant ministers in Houston Texas and affirmed separation of state and religion.

In Romney's wafflely speech, he mentioned mormon once; Kennedy, in his speech, said Catholic nineteen times. Romney, in this regard was evasive and did not endorse separation of church and state. Kennedy, in this conceded too much, Smith nothing. The Klan, which then was in both parties, but in the south, very much more in the Democratic party stopped Smith's nomination in '24 and the country chose the Republican Hoover as president by a great margin in '28. Since the 1960s those who voted with the Klan and their descendants have migrated to the Republicans.

Huckabee was involved in radio evangelism and is an ordained Southern Baptist minister. I am familiar with the low regard Baptists have for Catholics. They have created a Catholic strawman they love to burn. Brownback was in the race in Iowa. Brownback is a convert to Catholicism, there was an underground campaign, that had come to light, to discredit him and to guide evangelicals to their proper candidate -- Huckabee. Huckabee did not denounce this.

Huckabee is using the slogan "christian leader". In an interview with Newsweek he's asked about Mormonism:
Asked if he thought Scriptural revelations from God ended when the Bible was completed, Huckabee said: "I don't have any evidence or indication that he's handed us a new book to add to the ones, the 66, that were canonized in 325 A.D. … It was a careful process that adopted those books. That was something I did study in college and seminary … the process by which we ended up with those books. I don't know that there's any other books." †
In a recent debate, Huckabee was asked about Jesus's view of the death penalty, “Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office”. In a recent Mother Jones article, there is recounted that, while governor in '97, he took an on air phone call about Jesus and the death penalty.‡ Huckabee's reading of the New Testament had Jesus's silence on the cross, as he was being executed as a confirmation for the use of the death penalty. Well, in the former, he is being tricky and successfully evasive, in the latter, his torturous exegesis is dumbfounding. Many, if not virtually all evangelicals and fundamentalist protestants, whether christian or not, preface there statements with, "the Bible tells me so". Here Huckabee is ignorant of the purpose of Christ's Passion. He understands that Jesus is innocent and that the state has the power to execute the innocent, but Jesus is the innocent sacrifice that redeems mankind. "By Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world". "Behold the wood of the cross upon which the salvation of the world hangs." Jesus accepted this bitter cup for the will of the Father. He did not want to suffer. In Gethsemani he sweated blood in trepidation and in premonition. The scourging by the soldier was excessive in its execution and a torture prior to crucifixion. Christ did not undergo execution because it was just, but because it was unjust. The lamb went to the slaughter.

People can believe what they wish. It is within the right of the state to inflict capital punishment. It is a function of justice. Some crimes are capital. Some actions deserve death in response. But, in America the meting out of justice is not done justly. Governor George Ryan, a Republican recognized that this was the situation in Illinois. He suspended the use, when it was proven that several condemned men were innocent. Governor Ryan is now an inmate himself (usual Republican graft and corruption). Leonel Torres Herrera's execution was permitted in Texas by the US Supreme Court, even, though the courts and the state knew he did not commit the crime. Scalia, with Thomas concurring, wrote that there was no legal error in the case, so subsequent knowledge meant nothing.§

So, we have little, equitable and fair justice in this land enough. The imposition of a capital sentence is too often dubious in this country. IF things were done honestly in this country, then the death penalty would be appropriate. But, it would not, ever, be the christian response.ll

Huckabee might govern better than the rest of his Republican comrades, but I can not trust or support him. Any democrat over any Republican in Iowa or elsewhere. If a decent candidate would emerge amongst Republicans, he would still bring in a nefarious crew. Republican fraud, corruption and willful transgressions against the Constitution should disqualify their party in the minds of the electorate.

Any Democrat will do. I prefer John Edwards, yes, even though his campaign briefly employed two, troublesome ex-Catholic bloggers, one whose views were insulting repulsive, but, also as a southern protestant, Edwards must have been raised in the same religious milieu as Huckabee, Heflin, Carter, Bill Clinton and millions of others. There is no history of any public bigotry that has come to knowledge. His campaign manager is David Bonior, a Michigan Catholic, and former congressman, whose district was gerrymandered away. In the 2004 Ohio primary I voted for Edwards and I would again to-day and to-morrow.
*Heflin ultimately supported Hoover and left the Democratic party. The phrase "yellow dog Democrat" was created to mean, yes I would vote for Smith or any other Catholic, if he's the Democrat, "Hell, if they ran a yellow dog, I'd vote for him". Heflin's other claim to fame was that he shot a negro on a streetcar as a member of Congress in '08, which he was pleased to regale about while campaigning.

†Mr.Huckabee is at least mistaken and inaccurate.The 325 date refers to the first Council of Nicaea, the canon was not the purpose of that meeting. Pope Damasus at the Roman Council in 382 proclaimed the present canon of 73 (and the primary question was over the New Testament's 27 books, not the Old Testament's 46), this was confirmed at the Synod of Hippo in 393 for the entire church. It was repeatedly confirmed at other councils, including the Second Council of Nicaea in 787. The 66 books are the general protestant count of post 1517. The seven books Huckabee forgets are: Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Machabees I, and Machabees II.

‡Interestingly enough, if there was ever an occasion for someone to have argued against the death penalty, I think Jesus could have done so on the cross and said, "This is an unjust punishment and I deserve clemency." -- Huckabee

§Rehnquist wrote, "presumption of innocence disappears". 25 January 1993, 6 to 3, the Supreme Court denied appeal in Herrera vs Collins.

llThe only people on earth who do not see Christ and His teachings as nonviolent are Christians. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

We must remember, that, Mary, the Mother of God brought the people and land of Mexico to her son, Jesus, Our Savior. The Aztec and Maya were violent, deadly and blood flowing cultures. They are not now, not since 1531. She is the Patroness of the Americas, that would be from Alaska to Argentina.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Torturous Republicans

The torture enthusiasts that are the face of the american Republican party, to the world, are beyond outrageous; they are despicable. The most satanic may very well be Cheney (Gunner), his Eve would be Shrubs (gwbjr). Torture is always wrong. The ends never justify the means. The Geneva Conventions have always been seen as the minimum of civilized guarantees; the point that all governments and their agents must not fall below.

These "outrageous Republicans" go beyond that honorific -- to despicable. The golden rule surely does not permit torture. With this group of s***s, the United States has left the table of the minimally mannered. They have become a Hobbesian gang of brutes. Some of these brutes have already been listed (gunner and shrubs). Their enablers must not be forgotten:

1. David Addington, Cheney's special lawyer and new chief of staff. The author of most of shrub's "signing statements", these unconstitutional instruments of fiction that attempt to overrule the laws of the land. He wrote the Christmas note that would allow Bush to torture.

2. Alberto Gonzales, the former attorney general and shrub's special lawyer that would implement every wish of his master. The man who tried to extract the signature of a man, John Ashcroft, on an extreme sick bed, to permit abhorrent practices, a man whose job he would soon have.

3. John Woo, a former lawyer within the Justice [sic] Department that would manufacture legal opinions allowing all power to the Leviathan.

4. The nine senators who approved torture:

  • Wayne Allard - Colorado
  • Kit Bond *- Missouri
  • Tom Coburn - Oklahoma
  • Thad Cochran - Mississippi
  • John Cornyn† - Texas
  • James Inhofe - Oklahoma
  • Pat Roberts - Kansas
  • Jeff Sessions - Alabama
  • Ted Stevens - Alaska
5. Giuliani and Romney who duelled over who would be the giddiest torturer in a Republican debate last May.

5b. Those other candidates who seemed to agree: Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Thompson and the rest who did not speak against it (all but McCain, the one who attempted to forbad torture, but still carries water for shrubs).

McCain had been tortured as a prisoner of war in Viet Nam, a place where most Republicans assiduously avoided by all measures. He saw the evil, he was the object of that evil, he knows it is of no good and does no good. He also knows that fellow serviceman of his nation may suffer. If America did not torture, then those who capture americans could say, "they would not do this to us". Now they know, that, yes America does do that and maybe worse. America has been made into the image of georgebushjr and that artister is Dick Cheney.

This administration has created many new national executive agencies and posts, perhaps they can bring back an old english position. Elizabeth Tudor (r.1558-1603), who has been, and still is, the beneficiary of creative and effective propaganda
, had the office of official torturer. That position was held with great relish by Richard Topcliffe, a man who prided himself as one of the queen's lovers and a most fervent protestant. Perhaps gwbjr can make a recess appointment.

*Postscriptum: broadcast on television 11 December 2007:
GWEN IFILL: Do you think that waterboarding, as I described it, constitutes torture?
SEN. KIT BOND: There are different ways of doing it. It's like swimming, freestyle, backstroke. The waterboarding could be used almost to define some of the techniques that our trainees are put through, but that's beside the point. It's not being used.
† Postscriptum: 21 January 2009. Cornyn is holding up, for an additional week, the committee hearing vote on Eric Holder as Attorney-General. Cornyn is upset, that, Holder is against torture: in Cornyn’s judicial opinion (he was a judge in Tejas), torture is fine when done for the government, or by the government, and simulation of drowning, a.k.a. chinese water torture, water cure, waterboarding, is not to be called torture. On the 15th of January, he posed hypothetical questions, that were evaluated by Senator Richard Durbin as, “And I understand Senator Cornyn’s questions. They are questions that anyone who watches Jack Bauer on “24″ would ask.” Cornyn also obstructed, for a day Hillary Clinton’s appointment, and he is still obstructing the seating of Senator Alan Franken.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Immaculate Conception explained by an amateur

Today is a christian holiday: The Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Blessed Pius IX in the bull Ineffabilis Deus defined “the doctrine which asserts that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.”

Now, in dealing with Catholic holidays and concepts many are misinformed, confused or ignorant. I had a good man and professor for medieval history, who made the momentary mistaken substitution of the Incarnation (Virgin Birth) with the Immaculate Conception. I had a professor of ancient history, who was, confused over the Epiphany. Sometimes a kid in second grade catechism knows more than a doctorate.

Our current pope has announced a plenary indulgence for pilgrims, who travel this year, to Lourdes, France. It has been one hundred fifty years since Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous there, and identified herself as the Immaculate Conception.

There is a second option:
"If between February 2, 2008 ... and February 11, 2008, Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes and 150th anniversary of the apparition, they visit, in any church, grotto or decorous place, the blessed image of that same Virgin of Lourdes, solemnly exposed for public veneration, and before the image participate in a pious exercise of Marian devotion, or at least pause for an appropriate space of time in prayer and with pious meditations, concluding with the recital of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith, ... and the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary."
"In Adam's fall, we sinned all", is a concise definition of original sin. This is a stain on our souls born on us all, save Mary. Man was created wholly good, as were the angels, but by choice (free will) our nature was singed.

Calvinists misstate and misunderstand this. Man is not a priori evil. All that God had created he created good.* Man's original nature was good. In our original parents we fell, but in a Man born from woman, we are redeemed. One third of the angelic host also fell, previous to us, before our universe began. Their leader, goaded and led us to that fall,† and he is the enemy of that woman who bears the Redemption of the world.‡ By God's gracious act, that woman was conceived without the taint of original sin.§ We still have choices.

What was this original sin of Satan and our parents? A form of egotism and delusion, where it is presumed of us, to be like God. This egotism is a selfishness, a pride betaken that is not appropriate, contrary to the humility that belongs to us. And to correct this God humbled himself to be born amongst men to redeem us. God so loved the world and us that he created it and died for us.
ll We, his creations, should have this sort of love, we fell because we coveted what was not ours, we did not love, we desired. We can not be equal to the Creator. Satan's rebellion was also akin to this, and he wished us to follow.
*Genesis i.10 And God called the dry land, Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
12 And the earth brought forth the green herb, and such as yieldeth seed according to its kind, and the tree that beareth fruit having seed each one according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
18 And to rule the day and the night, and to divide the light and the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
21 And God created the great whales, and every living and moving creature, which the waters brought forth, according to their kinds, and every winged fowl according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
31 And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.

†Genesis iii.1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God made. And he said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise?
2 And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat; and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die.
4 And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death.
5 For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband who did eat.

‡Genesis iii. 15 I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

§Luke i. 28 And the angel[Gabriel] being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

llJohn xv. 13 Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Don't tase me, bro'

An honest man must call a thing what it is. Coming up with a clever name to call something to distract from its reality is lying. Lying is intertwined inexorably with violence.* That device which is called a "taser" is an electroshock weapon.

As a wireman, I do electrical work. I have not met one wireman who likes to be electrocuted. They use other words: bit, caught, hit. In common parlance, people understand electrocuted to mean killed, but that is not necessary, it is to be shocked. A strong or long enough shock will kill.

Now, an electroshock weapon is advertised to mete out 50,000 volts. In America, domestic usage is 110-120 volts, in Europe, twice that. A lightning bolt can produce millions of volts.

Power emitted or consumed is the product of voltage (intensity) and current (amount of electron flow). They are inversely proportional. For the same power usage a higher voltage has less current.

Now, 120 will annoy you, and shake you up, but unless your wet and/or unable to extricate yourself -- you live. Now, 277 (another common voltage) will grab you and hold you, and your life is endangered. 480 volts will pick you up and throw you. Greater voltages, that are used, are quite deadly, there are many colorful and gruesome terms to use; simply you are on fire or incinerated. It's not me and my shadow waltzing down the avenue, your shadow is solo and only a penumbra of you is silhouetted on the concrete.

This electroshock weapon is either applied on you directly with two terminals or with two darts attached to wires shot from the weapon. A car battery of 12 volts has two terminals,any dyslexia concerning cars is never good. Two mini arrows attached to a car battery piercing your flesh is not a good thing.

Such devices make and are used as torture devices. If one encounters an excited, fearful or sadistic policeman, should he have such a weapon available? You are unlikely to meet Andy from Mayberry, who did not carry a gun and was fictional.

Because of cheap and available camera technology, incidents have been photographed. Police have cameras behind their windshields, in their holding rooms and booking rooms. Often when suspects are arrested and see themselves on video, they make no attempt to deny charges of guilt, but when police are caught, all sorts of denials, rationales, defenses and outright absurd idiocies are used.

Electroshock weapons are prone to misuse. There have been other such devices: the electric cattle prod and the electric chair.
* Near the end of Solzhenitsyn's Nobel speech: Let us not forget that violence does not and cannot flourish by itself; it is inevitably intertwined with LYING. ...Whoever has once announced violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose lying as his PRINCIPLE. ...usually it demands of its victims only allegiance to the lie, only complicity in the lie.

postscript: Today 21 Dec '07, I heard in spanish language broadcast the more accurate term, pistola electrica.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

ACLU, the State and the Catholic

"This man was punished for insisting on the right to practice Catholicism and refusing conversion to the Pentecostal faith." -- Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director
Now, today is the feast of St. Nicholas, he whose heart was so great that he ransomed his gold to help the desperate. I am a christian, I believe christianity should influence society and government. I do not trust everyone who says they are christian, nor every such christian to influence society and government; and there is a difference between influence and control. There are frauds, charlatans and hypocrites, for sure, to be wary of, but there are also the overzealous, aggressively evangelizing bigots to be wary of.

I read of this case earlier and it received little notice, I saw today there was a small blurb on the AP religious notes. A small bit of justice recognized but nothing yet compensated, but, perhaps, a positive precedent.
Judge: Pentecostal center infringed on man's religious freedom

DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge ruled that a Pentecostal social service program interfered with a Roman Catholic man's religious freedom by trying to convince him to leave his church.

Joseph Hanas said that pastor Dwight Rottiers and the Inner City Christian Outreach Center in Flint took away his rosary and prayer book, and kept him from his family and lawyer, while he was trying to complete court-ordered drug abuse treatment.

The judge issued the ruling Nov. 30 and is expected to award Hanas monetary damages. Rottiers' lawyer, Michael Gildner, would not comment.
What the little article doesn't mention is that the original judge, Genesee County's Robert Ransom, took Hanas out of the program and sent him to regular jail and then to a boot camp and four years of probation, all which have been served. This began in 2001. It would be interesting to know more about Ransom.

There has been a movement for years, beginning with supporters of Reagan and is still ongoing, for such evangelical power. These people are wont to use the code "faith based", they are not like traditional catholic charities or some other christian charities that want to feed and clothe the hungry and the naked. Their primary concern is their growth in numbers and eventually in power, their charitable concern is only a means to the end. In the true christian conscience the intent of the action is more important than the consequence and the ends never justify the means. It is better to have the agents of government laïcized or "secular" than "faith based".

At one time the Catholic League took note of this case, but I don't know if they followed up. Hanas, in his little way, made the choice of Saint Thomas More and other catholic heroes of the past. He held to his faith, the one true faith as he believed, he held out against the coercive tactics of another faith and that of the state. I have not seen, heard or read of anyone from the church speak in his behalf. Joseph has done what we all are called to do.

Hanas was arrested for possession of marijuana and then alcohol. The state would have forgave this if he abandoned Catholicism and became a pentecostalist, one of the endless myriad of protestant sects. The ACLU may not be friendly with the Catholic church, but the ACLU believes, and is willing to defend its continued existence and the right of individuals to remain catholic. The ACLU believes in the Constitution, and especially the first amendment.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The veracity of george bush junior

For months there has been a drumbeat to prepare this country for military action against Iran. Bush has mentioned the phrase "world war three", he ominously suggested that no possible recourse was "off the table." Now he says, only last week did he find out that Iran was not the danger he and others were touting and that means nothing. Senator Rockefeller (and Senator Kit Bond sitting next to him) said they were informed months ago about this. Bush has been caught in a lie again. Let not the Iraq fiasco be repeated with Iran. The Congress needs to begin immediate impeachment proceedings, NOW!

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Girl from Qatif

The following from, the London Telegraph, needs no commenting:

Last Updated: 1:53am GMT 17/11/2007
A Saudi woman has been sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison after she was the victim of a gang rape.
The sentence against the 19-year-old Shia woman from Qatif, in the Eastern Province of the country, was passed because she was in the car of a man who was not a relative at the time of the attack, which contravened strict Saudi laws on segregation.
A court had originally sentenced the woman to 90 lashes and the rapists to jail terms of between 10 months and five years but increased the punishment after an appeal, saying the woman had tried to use the media to influence them.
According to the Arab News newspaper, the woman was gang-raped 14 times.
Her offence was in meeting a former boyfriend, whom she had asked to return pictures he had of her because she was about to marry another man.
The couple was sitting in a car when a group of seven Sunni men kidnapped them and raped them both, lawyers in the case told Arab News.
The former boyfriend was also sentenced to 90 lashes for being with her in private.
The victims' lawyer, Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem, was also ordered to face disciplinary action after he spoke to the media about the original sentence.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The tender mercies of mohammedans

An English woman, in her late middle age, sits imprisoned in Sudan. Townsfolk of the capital have gathered outside with homey instruments of destruction. They want her death, they want to inflict that death with their own hands.

She, Gillian Gibbons, may return to Liverpool, God willing. In the Sudan the mohammedan government has engaged brutish war with the non-mohammedan south. The government has allowed the western province of Darfur to undergo an ethnic genocide. Previously, the government harbored Osama bin Laden and his bandit forces. Lancashire is beginning to look like paradise.

Sudan is a bloody and dangerous place, where cruelty and desolation await and has taken many thousands of lives and it is on going. The international community does not much care.

The english woman's crime? If someone were to read this before the event, they might have seen it as ridiculous satire. In years to come, if they read an account of it, they would shake their head in disbelief. This is a country where villages are burned to the ground, women raped and mutilated and people are massacred. And where the english woman allowed a stuffed toy be named Mohammed by seven year olds.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Howard Dean knows the standard

"I want people with Confederate flags on their trucks to put down those flags and vote Democratic ... The dividing of working people by race has been a cornerstone of Republican politics for the last three decades." -- Howard Dean
There is another saltire. This one was designed by the South Carolinian, William Porcher Miles. And it arouses strong feelings, strong emotions pro and con.

Four years ago, in Iowa, Howard Dean was jaunting about in an attempt to become the president. He re-mentioned an inconvenient truth and he was pounced upon and his fellow Democrats did so pro forma and de rigueur.

The Republicans through the bushevik programme may become a regional party during at least the next election. They have the racist south and the mormon west in their back pocket and that's about it. They may even lose Indiana.

The upholders of the lost cause switched parties when Lyndon Johnson passed and signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He predicted that the South would be lost for a generation. He was right, a full generation has been lost and time is still moving. Nixon began a southern strategy that was successful. Reagan and Rove further solidified it, as did so many others and not only on the presidential level, but on all levels.

Dean spoke the obvious, that there are people who vote against their best interests. They vote for the agents of unrepentant, unfettered and unrestricted wealth. They do so in the thoroughly mistaken sentiment that they are resurrecting their rebel pride; when that pride is demographically a racist bonanza for the Republican establishment.

Then there are circles where its display is forbidden. There are people who object when it is properly displayed in confederate cemeteries, schools and museums. A teacher risks his job if he brings it into a history class. One school employee or one parent may hold his last paycheck.