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What Democracy?

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I'm old enough to remember the specific events which mark the path by which the United States abandoned democracy, beginning with the Kennedy Assassination, traversing Vietnam, and ending with Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon. Ever since that time, as Steven C. Day writes in The Wages of Betrayal, "Americans have been sleepwalking through democracy." If there had been a desire on the part of the American people to hold on to the political rights and traditions established by those who stood up to the world's most powerful military for their benefit, Gerald Ford would have been impeached in Nixon's stead, and Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan would never have been elected, much less the Bushes.

This country would thus be a much different place than the budding corporofascist dictatorship which is being built up slowly so as not to disturb the mental slumber of those who, as P.M. Carpenter describes them in his Attack of the Right-Winging Befuddled, are "the result of far too many years of gluing themselves to simpleminded talk radio and assorted right-wing scribblings of overbearing oversimplification." The numbers of these political zombies are sufficient to smother notice of calls to action, such as that issued by former United States Senator Gary Hart, who proclaims, "The odd combination of the religious right dictating personal morality, 'neoconservatism' preaching unilateral interventionism, and radical libertarian tax cuts have cast our Republic adrift from its moorings. Restoration of common sense to government is long overdue."

Unfortunately, as David S. Broder reported on September 27, 2007: "The combined influence of White House and [Republican] congressional leadership — and what I would have to call herd instinct — prevailed."

Americans are raised to believe that we are superior to the rest of the world in every way, and yet one has to wonder if there is any basis in truth to believe such a testament. A visibly angry Bill Clinton recently exploded over the politics of distraction that the Republican party has employed to avoid the public confronting their blind support for failed GOP policies. [See: WMV Download, MOV Download] Such tactics would be ineffective if the American people were as intellectually astute as we like to believe we are.

And what are these tactics? John Wiley & Sons, Inc., publishers of The Conservatives Have No Clothes by Greg Anrig, former Washington correspondent for Money magazine, list them in their front flap promotional review of the book:

The first step is to drown out attention paid to a genuine policy problem, like abysmal inner-city schools or Osama bin Laden, with alarms over an imaginary crisis like the failure of all of America's public schools or weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The second step is to trump up reasons why the imaginary problem requires weakening the government's domestic capabilities, as with private school vouchers, or exerting unilateral force abroad, as with the Iraq invasion.

The third step is to make up stories explaining why the failure isn't really a failure.

The fourth and final step is to leave it to the Democrats to solve both the original problem and the new one created by the conservative policy.

How can any American believe in policies that, if followed, will leave the majority of their fellow citizens worse off than they started? Do they not, as author Naomi Klein reports being asked by a Swedish grad student visiting the United States, "have a belief that they are building a better world?"

That would depend upon what the definition of "better" is. As Klein writes as a part of her response to this pointed question, "The ideology in question holds that self-interest is the engine that drives society to its greatest heights."

She quotes Alan Greenspan's autobiography concerning the effect of Ayn Rand on Greenspan's views: "What she did…was to make me think why capitalism is not only efficient and practical, but also moral…" and to hell with those who don't benefit – like that poor slob in Florida who found Australian coins in his vending machines. It's extremely bad to affect the profitability of the large corporation, but I guess it's OK to rip off the working class entrepreneur, isn't it?

So what is one to think about those whose beliefs parallel Rand's and Greenspan's? Maybe BuzzFlash has the right description: "Right wingers aren't really conservative; they are radical wrecking crews." It's OK to pull down the pillars of the temple as long as those who are harmed are The Other, as in The Conservative Culture War. Author Paul Waldman describes this culture war as "a worldview that divides Us and Them." That makes it much easier to stifle moralistic qualms about "defending our way of life" which then allow those mindless amoral minions of the conservative side of The Conservative Culture War to ask the outrageous question, “Don’t you agree that several GIs killed each week is a small price to pay for the oil we need?”

One might direct this fool tool to have to ask this question directly of those who were wounded by members of the 57% of Iraqis (93% of Sunnis and 50% of Shia) who recently told BBC/ABC News pollsters that attacks on coalition forces are acceptable. These casualties might not take that question well, as they aren't yet being properly cared for at Walter Reed despite the disclosures of "systemic problems" at US military hospitals many months ago and the subsequent empty political promises to fix things. It's obviously more important by far for the American military to pay large bonuses to attract new recruits than it is to care for "he who has borne the battle" for domination and control of the world's petroleum supply.

But that Q&A with military patients isn't ever going to happen. It's easier to dismiss the word of the Iraqis, for "they’re just Iraqis. What do they know?"

They know much more than the Democrats! The American people sent the Democrats to the Congress last November with enough power to control the action, and yet they have voted overwhelmingly to regularly provide the White House with the financial means and political authority to go to war, most recently a "back-door" authorization to wage preemptive war against Iran. This sorry sheet of Bush-lackey crap-craniums includes Democratic presidential candidate Clinton, while Barack Obama avoided being fixated in a position by not voting at all.

So who ya gonna call when you need a hero to defend you? When one has run out of temporal champions to tilt against the windmills of greed and corruption, one might be swayed to turn to the supernatural. But as CIA veteran Ray McGovern points out, "When the truth about our country’s policy becomes clear, can we summon the courage to address it from a moral perspective? The Germans left it up to the churches; the churches collaborated." The Rev. Martin Niemoller admitted this fact to Leo Stein, who in 1941 was imprisoned at Sachsenhausen with Niemoller. Stein wrote about his experience in The National Jewish Monthly, and related how Niemoller told hm that Hitler promised him "on his word of honor, to protect the Church, and not to issue any anti-Church laws. He also agreed not to allow pogroms against the Jews… I really believed… I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me."

So it is within America today, with many churches – bought and paid for with federal "faith-based" grants – believing that being told what they want to hear is grounded in reality. One can't render unto by Caesar if they don't abide by Caesar's will! They don't want to admit, I'm sure, that they are selling out their faith, and their faithful, for a few pieces of tarnished silver. Make that inflated and lower-value copper-nickel sandwich coins. But that is of little importance as the filthy lucre will achieve the goal: the purchased churchmen won't be asking themselves "when do you think the average German realized that he or she was living under a fascist dictatorship?" as Chris Rowthorn is in When America Went Fascist.

Daniel Ellsberg pointed out one clue in his September 20, 2007 speech, noting: "Richard Cheney and his now chief of staff David Addington… believe we need a different kind of government now, an Executive government essentially, rule by decree … the president says “I decide what I enforce. I decide what the law is. I legislate.”

Another clue might be the advancing technology which would facilitate such a government – as is now being installed in Chicago – paid for with Homeland Security funds.

Chris Rowthorn does admit that you could be forgiven for "thinking that it's business as usual in the United States of America", but points out how close we are to Chicago's technological wonder being used against all Americans:

Consider the factors that could easily unleash outright fascism in the United States: the accelerating collapse of the US dollar; the follow-on effects from the subprime loan debacle; soaring energy prices (peak oil); catastrophic weather events caused by global warming; and, of course, the one thing that Bush's entire foreign policy seems almost guaranteed to bring about: another large-scale terrorist attack on American soil. Any one of these by itself could trigger outright fascism. Combine two or more, and American fascism is 100% certain.

Doubt that could happen? Then you aren't paying attention to current events in Burma, where the people of Burma are protesting a lack of democracy triggered by a 200% increase in fuel prices. But should such an occurrence happen here, The New York Times reported on February 4, 2006 that The Army Corps of Engineers awarded a contract worth up to $385 million to Kellogg Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary, for building temporary detention centers for "new programs that require additional detention space."

And just who is intended to fill that expensive taxpayer-funded "additional detention space"? Try looking here for a hint. If you really need one, that is.

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About pessimist

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Realist,

    You had a lot to say and said it pretty well. As a kind of reflection of your descriptions of what this country has become, what follows is a recounting of something my older brother told me just yesterday.

    He is nearing 65 but unable to retire. In fact, he had been out of work for nearly 5 months when a job kind of popped up out of the blue.

    He is now doing office scut work for a small insurance company. He is amazed at how regimented the work place is. The company has a small campus-like facility which includes its own parking lot, and 2 modest sized office buildings all enclosed with an iron fence taking up about a square block on the near north side of Indy.

    My brother has to use a coded swipe card to enter the lot which is monitored by both a uniformed security guard and a number of cameras each having a corresponding view screen in one of the buildings, he’s not sure which.

    He also must present a personal photo ID to another guard to enter his building. He must also use it to enter a stairwell or an elevator and to enter certain areas in the building. There are a number of areas his pass will not allow him to enter. He has no access to the other building on the campus.

    He has a cubicle in a large, open room amongst an additional 30 to 40 other such cubicles. The entire room is also constantly monitored via cameras. Each cubicle has a computer station – part of the company network. They are forbidden to even attempt to access the internet. All phone calls are monitored and recorded.

    There is a company cafeteria on the ground level of his building, and employees are not required, but are encouraged to take their lunches there. They may purchase food provided by the contracted caterer, or they may brown bag their lunches, placing them in one of a couple of refrigerators provided adjacent to the cafeteria.

    Any employees who choose to lunch off campus are required to sign out and back in reporting where they ate and any other stops they may have made.

    This is not a large company. Their main product is short term health insurance to individuals making short or longer trips abroad – from week-end romps in Cancun to multi-year work assignments abroad for missionaries or people on assignments for corporate employers. As far as my brother knows, this company has no particular connection with any government entity or involvement with military or diplomatic affairs. Employees are informed that all of the security is a result of HIPAA regulations.

    He says that everyone has been quite pleasant to him. He likes his immediate supervisor. But he says that the atmosphere in the place is rather like it is peopled by zombies or “Stepford” workers. There seems to be little tension in the place, but the few conversations he’s had with his co-workers have informed him that they are all happy as clams to be working and at the core, deeply fearful of losing their jobs. About the only thing anyone there has asked of him is how he intends to “decorate” his cubicle.

    Oddly, every morning his first task so far has been and remains sorting and stuffing into envelopes literally hundreds of letters printed overnight informing policy holders of their claims having been denied.

    My brother says he has never worked anywhere where he felt so exposed and so constantly monitored. All things considered, I’d say that “Big Brother” is with us in spades.

    Baritone

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    You had a lot to say and said it pretty well.

    You left out the fact that most of it was arrant idiocy.

    But I did like your anecdote. Reminded me of the movie Office Space. Point being that the conditions you describe were already old enough to be a joke when that movie was made (the animated version)) 16 years ago. For that matter, you see offices like that depicted in early silent films where row after row of accountants work at their desks side by side like extensions of their adding machines.

    This isn’t something new. The highly regimented workplace has been around since the industrial revolution. It’s not uncommon, but it’s also not by any means any more common than it was a hundred years ago. It’s just the way certain sorts of business like to operate. Technology has been put in service of the regimentation of the workplace, but before video cameras it would have been supervisors looking over your shoulder. Nothing new.

    Dave

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Dave,

    Obviously, I don’t agree with your characterization of Realist’s piece. I think he pretty well nailed it. Perhaps he could be accused of being a bit shrill here and there, but that often goes with being really pissed off and a little frightened.

    My brother has worked in a number of office environments over the years in a variety of capacities – from scut to manager. He chose the scut level now as he is at a point where he just needs an income to supplement his retirement and doesn’t want a job that follows him home at night.

    But he has never seen this level of employee control. It’s not just the regimentation, but, as I noted, the level of surveilance. Have you ever had to account for your time during your lunch break? That and the rather strange demeanor of his fellow employees – the word lemming came up in his description.

    The fact that this is not “new” doesn’t make it good. It is symptomatic of the creeping erosion of our rights, mostly in the name of security.

    B-tone

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I’ve worked in such environments as Baritone describes – they were extant in 1989-90 when I worked for CDC in Bloomington. They weren’t a joke for us. In fact there were a lot of unemployed P.H.D. types working there, Dr. Nalle. Comparatively, I was one of the ill educated ones, with only a bachelor’s degree. And the tension was a lot higher there than for Baritone’s brother – we were on projects, and each project involved kissing someone else’s ass. And we never knew if after completing one project, we would be assigned to another.

    I still have an ID card from the place that I kiped.

    That is what is coming our way in all of our lives. Hell, don’t believe me! Go watch the movie Zeitgeist. A lot of it is what I already knew, but it gets its point rather convincingly. And unfortunately, there is a great deal of truth in that movie.

    BTW, Baritone, it is hits exactly the notes you’d view as on the money in its first third…. I never saw anyone take apart Christianity so thoroughly and effectively.

  • Clavos

    Since employment is at the pleasure of the employer, what your brother described to you, Baritone, is not only, as Dave pointed out not new (Lucille Ball’s “Job Switching” [1952} and Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” [1936] both come to mind), it is also not in violation of anyone’s rights. An employee who is not happy with the working conditions can always seek employment elsewhere.

    Had you (or your brother) ever worked at a high level defense contractor, you would have seen even more stringent security measures; e.g., to the point of NOT being allowed off campus at lunch time.

    One final point: “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

    Liberals created and pushed for the HIPAA legislation, certainly without realizing that one aspect of the fallout could result in what your brother describes.

    As we pass more and more laws that “protect” the people, we give the government (and industry) ever more power to micro-manage our lives.

  • troll

    …I can understand why a KBR stockholder might call this ‘arrant idiocy’ – nothing like profiting from the construction of the infrastructure for our oppression…way to go

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Clavos,

    In a way, you missed my point. Many of the employees where my brother is working appear to be quite happy, but in that “Stepford” sort of way. Automatonish.

    Problems in the work place go at least as far back as Dickens’ accounts and the recounting of the horrors in turn of the century sweatshops, etc.

    You share the black and white view of most conservatives that anyone can just quit and find another job. That might be a viable option for some, but not for most. Decently paying jobs, even in a good economy, are usually hard to come by. It is a highly condescending attitude to discount the difficulty most people face in day to day survival. Your view apparently is that such monitoring, regimentation and general erosion of personal privacy is the price one must pay, “and if they don’t like it, get the hell out.” That is precisely the attitude held by many of the early industrialists which ultimately gave rise to unions. Regardless of economic station, most people take umbrage at being used and abused. That’s why Louis and Marie became, well, lite headed.

    It has been shown in a variety of studies that such work conditions do not foster productivity. Look at the success of many of the Silicon Valley type companies which largely eschew regimentation. More often than not highly structured, constantly monitored work environments foster resentment and tension to a point that production becomes secondary and the quality of the work shoddy. Or, as in the case of my brother’s work place, a kind of weird zombielike atmosphere prevails which may be in its way productive, but is, nonetheless, frightening in its possible consequences. It’s not only USPS employees who go “postal.”

    B-tone

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    …I can understand why a KBR stockholder might call this ‘arrant idiocy’ – nothing like profiting from the construction of the infrastructure for our oppression…way to go

    Money doesn’t have politics. They offered me about $6 a share to take KBR stock. How could I pass that up? To sacrifice my family’s economic welfare for your tender political sensibilities seems like a non-starter.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    You’re right, B-Tone, I DID miss your point about the Stepford employees. I have virtually zero discomfort with them; if they’re content, I see no problem, the problem lies with those who aren’t content.

    However, I think you got too hung up on my minor point about seeking other employment and didn’t address my major one about creeping government (and industrial) intrusion into our lives, driven by our culture’s insatiable (and unrealistic, IMO) desire to be “safe” by means of government regulation.

    Your brother’s company blames their security measures on HIPAA. I’m sure that’s a convenient excuse for many of their practices, but I equally believe that at least some of their draconian rules ARE due to the equally draconian HIPAA legislation.

    In any case, my point is the HIPAA laws enable (and even encourage) your brother’s company to impose their work rules.

    The ongoing (and accelerating) government intrusion into all our lives at all levels is, to me, the greater problem.

    And we have brought it on ourselves and even clamor for it, as we incessantly demand that the government regulate danger in life out of existence.

    By doing so, we open the door for, and even enable, a “Big Brother” (or in the popular term, Nanny) state.

  • Doug Hunter

    I understand now. Democracy only exists when the majority agrees with me, otherwise everyone else is a zombie or lemming or paid off by big oil.

  • Cindy D

    Ruvy,

    I saw Zeitgeist. It is best described by an obsolete French word: phantasmagorie: art of creating supernatural illusions.

    If you look at the filmmaker’s Sources page, you will find:

    A publisher that specializes in books on subjects like Atlantis, alien abductions, a special dragon bloodline–descendants of magical beings, etc. Ironically, they even have a separate section called “fiction.”

    I think the above references were for the astrology/religion part of the film.

    So, I looked up a few of the authors cited on the other material. I looked at three and found:

    1) A guy who thinks putting a news article on his web site (which actually exposes his obsessive mental illness) proves that the woman he became obsessed with was involved in “illegal covert operations”.

    2) A Lyndon LaRouche crackpot.

    3) A proponent of a one-world government.

    Then I stopped.

  • Irene Wagner

    Watch out, Realist. It’s unpatriotic to criticize your government during war time.

    Realist, you seem to be, rather than curling up and dying of despair JUST YET, casting about for some sort of inspiration. You’ve wisely eliminated as appropriate sources for that inspiration political Democrats AND the Conservative Right.

    You are also appropriately suspicious of the American Church as a source of political truth.
    For the last century, totalitarian-governments-in-the-making, recognizing in the church their single most powerful idealogical rival, will do one of two things:
    1) Court the unsuspecting church as an ally early on using false assurances such as the ones Nazis gave to Niemoller. (This is the socialist totalitarian–e.g. Nazi and Neoconservative–approach.)
    2)Eliminate the Church. This is the Communist totalitarian approach.

    Religion is a way of going along to get along for some, Realist, but that wasn’t what it meant for Martin Niemoller, once he understood that the Nazis had lied to him. He paid dearly for being fooled, but he paid even more dearly for protesting. (The article you linked to was actually written by a Jew who was acknowledging Niemoller’s sacrifice, rather than condemning his accomodation.) Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor who was imprisoned, and eventually hanged, for his participation in the German Resistance, also refused to go along to get along. Christian belief also informed the political philosophy of the White Rose, an organization of German students actively resisting Nazism. They too lost their lives doing this.

    Many a bully American pulpit has been paid for with faith based initiatives by neoconservatives. That’s true. But the people accepting that money, in the main, were not people working for evil in the world. They were running homeless shelters and soup kitchens, and making significant lifestyle sacrifices to do so. As more people of that quality discover that the Neoconservatives are just another flavor of the evil they’d been working against, many of them will become the Bonhoeffers and Niemollers of the twenty-first century.

    They may end up in the “Haliburton Hilton” before you do.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Cindy,

    “That is what is coming our way in all of our lives. Hell, don’t believe me! Go watch the movie Zeitgeist. A lot of it is what I already knew, but it gets its point rather convincingly. And unfortunately, there is a great deal of truth in that movie.”

    I didn’t give the movie applause, except for the way it took apart Christianity. For the most part, I had been there, done that and bought the T-shirt…

    Another point that I learned from that fat pig of a Jew-hater who did the hatchet job on Bush, Fahrenheit 9/11

    When a skunk tells you about a river dam bursting upstream, get downwind if you don’t like the stink of the skunk. Then grab your things and get moving! It doesn’t matter how bad the skunk stinks. The river still will flood your house.

    Your serve, madame….

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Or should it be upwind of a skunk to avoid the stink? It’s been a long time since I drove on an American highway….

  • Clavos

    You don’t need an American highway to know which way the wind blows….

    (apologies to Bobby Zimmerman)

  • http://www.getting-your-ex-back.com Christopher Rose

    If a skunk tells you anything, go to the hospital or your doctor – you’ve overdosed!

  • Irene Wagner

    You wouldn’t be able to RESIST inviting a Talking Skunk in for a tete-a-tete if he were a Talking Skunk “taking apart Christianity,” Chrisopher Rose. C’mon. Prediction: The House that published “The God Delusion” will be coming out with a comic-book style “Junior” version featuring Skippy the Skeptical Skunk.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Skunks are people, too. If they have the intelligence to be skeptical, especially concerning the myth of god, then, hooray for them. They could provide good lessons for wide eyed impressionable kids who are all too often pushed into a “faith based” life without the advantage of the ability to understand what the hell is happening to them. It’s tantamount to child abuse.

    B-tone

  • Irene Wagner

    Baritone: “Skunks are people, too.” Good one.

    But you had to spoil the fun and levy a charge of CHILD ABUSE, didn’t you?

    A few weeks ago in BC, I tried to point out that that Richard Dawkins was suggesting that parents who passed on their faith to their children should have the right to parent those children taken away, as they were engaged in child abuse. People accused me of suggesting that Richard Dawkins had more influence on people than he had actually did.

    So did you come up with that plan yourself, Baritone, or WAS it Richard Dawkins who helped you see the light?

  • Irene Wagner

    Getting back to Realist’s scenario though, a dystopia where the government monitors and proscribes nearly every human activity…oh wait a minute, we’re back on topic already. The criminalization of the practice of teaching one’s children about God sounds fairly totalitarian to me.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Irene,

    While I have read Dawkins, I have long felt that inuring the young into the church is wrong. They are shuttled down one path without the opportunity of knowing that there are, in fact, others they could follow, if given a choice.

    Being a non-believer, I do find it troubling that children are blugeoned with religion, god and faith before they can think for themselves. Those who do eventually wake up and leave faith behind for a more rational life, often do so at a high emotional cost – often causing unrepairable rifts with family and friends.

    It we taught children to fall down and pray to a Papa Smurf Pez dispenser, that would be considered perhaps emotional, and certainly intellectual abuse. Teaching the myth of ANY god as truth is no less ludicrous. We live in a nation of christian zombies.

    B-tone

  • Irene Wagner

    Baritone: I hear you saying that passing on one’s views to a child (understanding that a child under the age of eleven will take the parent’s word as truth) on the origin of the universe, the meaning of life, the validity of ideas like Love and Discerning Right from Wrong, teaching them the traditions that may have been in the family for centuries, or were discovered by the parent in a positive life-changing way–all of these come under the rubric of child abuse.

    Now how could we rephrase that idea of yours in kiddy language? In other words, how would Skippy the Skeptical Skunk have said the same thing?

    ***

    I notice you haven’t SPECIFICALLY said the practice of teaching children about God should be legally CODIFIED as child abuse. Is that because you actually believe it shouldn’t be? Or because you do, but you can’t actually bring yourself to come out and SAY IT?

  • moonraven

    I repeat:

    It’s about fucking time some of you started to wake up!

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    I’m awake, I’m awake, goddamn it! Leave me alone.

  • moonraven

    Yeah?

    What are you DOING about your new-found awareness?!

  • Irene Wagner

    Awake, yes, and ready to send Child Protection Services out to remove my children because I’m teaching them a kind of “awakening” that is different from yours. What a brave, brave new world, Baritone! It’s all part and parcel of ushering in a totalitarian society, can’t you SEE that?

    How would you explain your particular world view to children? In other words, how would Skippy the Skeptical Skunk say it? That’s a rhetorical question by the way. I’m wondering if anyone else will pick up on the sad irony.

  • Irene Wagner

    It’s called Online Slacktivism, Moonraven.

    I’m off to a post a letter I’ve just written to the North Korean Embassy on behalf of a Christian prisoner who has been tortured for three years for “receiving Christianity.” That’s only one level above Slacktivism in terms of effectiveness, I realize that. And I’ve been writing letters to my Congressmen about abuses by the good old USA, too. And I’m campaigning, out in the streets, not just online, for Ron Paul.

    I don’t know whether or when it’s going to come crashing down in the US, Moonraven. Maybe the best preparation of all is watching how the monks in Burma-Myanmar die.

  • Clavos

    Irene,

    I agree with you that NO ONE should have the right to tell parents what they should teach their kids. I don’t think anyone even has the right to tell parents HOW to raise their kids on any issue short of actual abuse (and I don’t count spanking on the butt with the hand as abuse).

    One of the aspects of our society that most disturbs me these days is the tendency of the elitists to try to impose their ideas on everyone else, especially when it’s couched in terms of being “for your own good.”

  • moonraven

    Clavos is now advocating beating children.

    Why am I not surprised?

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Irene,

    You don’t see the fundamentalist movement toward an American christian theocracy a movement toward totalitarianism?

    I wouldn’t think of coming between any parents and their children except to protect them from abuse. That doesn’t mean I don’t find it troubling that kids are force fed religion virtually from the moment they emerge from the womb.

    As to how I would teach children my world view, it would be no less difficult than teaching them about a mythical all powerful being who resides somewhere in the ether who on the one hand loves us dearly, but who also is a violently jealous being who demands subjugation and absolute humility before him (I presume in your view god is a “him.” If not here’s begging your pardon.) in order to gain ascendancy to his holy realm.

    There are a number of WEB sites and blogs devoted to life without god. Agnostic Mom may be one of the best as it concentrates on being a parent – raising children – without god.)

    Irene, you are more of an alarmist than I am. I have written a great deal concerning what I perceive as the dangers posed by theocrats. You read a bit of Dawkins and come to the conclusion that wild eyed atheists are going to come into your home, steal your children and burn all the churches. Not even the Soviets pulled that off.

    Dawkins’, and also my own concerns lay with the fact, as we see it, that as I’ve stated, children are being force fed religion. Our children are not our possessions. We owe it to them to expose them to more than one world view. I would not be opposed to teaching children about religion, its history and its place in society. But there should also be an equally stringent source for apprising the little ones about a world without god and religion. When a child is ready, let him or her make an informed choice. That is rarely available to them as things stand.

    B-tone

  • Irene Wagner

    Baritone: CERTAINLY I would see the “fundamentalist movement toward an American christian theocracy” as a movement toward totalitarianism.

    I’d oppose it, and DO oppose it, on two counts. I believe in Jesus who warned some of his disciples who were trying to establish him as King of Israel, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Secondly, the idea goes against the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

    Incidentally, YOUR totalitarian plan of giving the State the authority to forbid parents to pass on religious faith as truth violates the principle of separation of church and state as well.

    Clavos, I’m glad that point wasn’t missed on you! You go on ahead and talk some sense into your crazy fellow atheist Baritone. You speak the same language, and I’ve run out of time for this coversation, as I have kids, coming home from school soon, whom I need to indoctrinate. Gotta make hay while the Sun of Freedom of Speech and Religious Liberty still shines!

  • justoneman

    Baronius..

    All your comments prove is that your brother is a little whining wimp! The reality is that your brother is the real “zombie or “Stepford” worker”….

    Maybe if he had some testosterone he would find himslef a real job or just stop whining and get back to work sorting mail…

    More proof that liberalism is a mental disorder..your brother thinks he is a victim because he has no marketable skills or no drive to improve his own situation…he sounds like some of the New Orleans mongrels too dumb and stupid to get out of town…

    JOM

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    You know Irene, I’m not too sure where or when I said anything about a “plan” of any kind. I profered my opinion against indoctrinating children with religion. Your accusation regarding any “plan” I may have for having the state usurp parental rights is made up out of whole cloth, or perhaps a shredded remnant.

    Considering your obvious religious zeal, no doubt you will in fact further your children’s religious indoctrination upon their arrival. A prayer before dinner would fall under that category.

    As to your suggestion that Clavos take it upon his godless self to set me straight, I would assume that he has more pressing matters at hand than realigning my twisted sensibilities.

    B-tone

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    JOM

    First of all, you’re just full of shit. You obviously didn’t comprehend anything I wrote and you’re offering opinions without any knowledge whatsoever.

    I never said anything about my brother considering himself as a victim. He was simply making an observation that I chose to expand on. Also, my brother is not a liberal. He is a loyal Bushie, much to my chagrin. I won’t go further with this as you don’t understand his situation, and it’s not really important here, and in the end, it’s none of your damn business.

    The most odious part of your diatribe is your reference to “New Orleans mongrels.” Your hatred, condescension and racism are there for all to see.
    You are indeed just one obnoxious and stupid man.

    B-tone

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The criminalization of the practice of teaching one’s children about God sounds fairly totalitarian to me.

    My parents were agnostic/atheists. They sent me to Sunday school when I was 8. That pretty much cured me of any inclination to be religious.

    Dave

  • justoneman

    Baritone…rather than defend your comments you change the facts and attack…I know its hard for you to undertand things like office security and policies and procedures…

    I guess the only thing that you have to think about is which side of the truck to hold on to as you pick up garbage pails…

    “racism” why is calling people who ignored all warnings racists…gee what the fuck is your problem,,,

    JOM

  • Irene Wagner

    Dave Nalle, Eight year olds get their attitudes about religion from their parents at home, or from other adults who are VERY important to them. Your atheistic/agnostic parents had more of an impact on you than Sunday School did. And when my kids walk through that door, how I treat them, and what they see me investing my life in (as long as I get off this dang thread before then) will have more of an impact on how they feel about following Christ than any Sunday school teacher or public school teacher with an atheistic agenda (a blessedly small minority) ever could.

    Since age 5, my children have been enrolled in Public School (that’s the opposite of private school, to clarify for any Europeans who might be reading), where they’ve learned to get along with, work with, and respect other children despite differences in faith, skin color, socio-economic status, etc, and hopefully, their atheistic/agnostic friends are learning to get along with, work with, and respect Christians like my kids.

    Baritone, if government intervention in the instruction of children vis a vis faith is limited to the establishment of schools where such interfaith tolerance and respect is promoted, I shall consider my vigilance in the matter to have been well-rewarded.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    JOM,

    First, just as a reminder, I’m NOT Baronius.

    Second, What facts did I change? Your the one who initiated the “attack.”

    Again, your use of the word “mongrels” has a racist ring to it, wouldn’t you say?

    Just what were the thousands of people who had no cars or the financial means to get out of the city by other conveyences supposed to do? Start walking? Many of them were told that if they made their way to the Dome or the convention center that there would be transport in the form of either city and/or public school buses to take them out of the city. None of that ever happened. The buses sat, eventually under water.

    Do you have any grasp of the logistics involved in getting masses of people out of a large city?

    You must be a mind reader, though. I did in fact work from the back of a packer (garbage truck to the uninitiated) many years ago while working in a state park. I also shoveled gravel and cleaned pit toilets and cut about five thousand miles of grass. Of course a great American hero such as yourself would never stoop to such filthy, menial tasks. That’s what the mongrels are for, right?

    B-tone

  • Cindy D

    Ruvy,

    It took apart Judaism as well, it took apart astrology too. I thought only the astrologers could have missed the point.

    Regardless of my lack of belief in any of them (religions or astrology), it did it all illegitimately.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “It took apart Judaism as well, it took apart astrology too.”

    It tried to take apart Judaism. Most of their comments only showed their ignorance.

    “it did it all illegitimately.”

    And now we get back to the point about the skunk warning you about the dam upstream. Unfortunately, they have solid points about the makeup of the central banking system and how it operates – and who it benefits. No matter how “illegitimate” their methods seem, they seem to have hit upon reality in a very clear way.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Zeitgeist took apart neither Christianity, not Judaism, nor astrology.

    Astrology, in particular, does quite a good job of taking itself apart. It doesn’t need any help.

    And as for the religion part, pointing out similarities between ancient belief systems is hardly proof that they’re all copies of one another – any more than koalas and bears are even remotely related, even though they look superficially alike.

    Particularly if you make most of the ‘similarities’ up.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    And on the subject of the banking system, an interesting and somewhat troubling interview with Greenspan on the BBC News website yesterday. Don’t know about any of you guys, but I’m moving to Vanuatu to grow taro…

  • Silver Surfer

    And to learn the graceful art of rugby from some very skilled (and very tough) Pacific islanders …

    Doc, you’d probably look great with cauliflower ears and a broken nose.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    If they’re so skilled how come they didn’t qualify for the Worlds?

    I think I’ll keep my nose intact (huge as it is) and the only vegetable I want my ears to resemble in any way is the artichoke…!

    I played rugby in high school once (they made me, it was the house championship and they didn’t have enough boys to make up a team). Never again. I was assigned the job of grunge-half (or some equally suicidal position), which involved having my arm ripped from its socket in the Stygian depths of repeated scrums and rucks (which, this being high school, occurred about every 8 seconds) whilst clutching the waistband of one of my classmates’ shorts. This, again, being high school, the final score after 80 minutes of utter futility and mud was 3-0 (drop goal from directly under the posts (actually, the two piles of bibs – the groundsman had taken down the posts and hidden them) since no bugger could kick straight with a misshapen ball) Additional pain was inflicted by the circumstance of most of the school’s first XV being in my house, which meant they shoved much harder than I could and left me behind. If you’ve ever started in the front row of a scrum and ended up at the back you’ll know how nasty that can be.

    Fortunately, we lost and I didn’t have to play again.

  • Cindy D

    Dr Dreadful,

    Yes, I agree. I was being sloppy. It actually took apart nothing.

    Rephrased: If it took apart Christianity, then it took apart Judaism and Astrology as well.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Somebody must have picked up and reassembled all the pieces, because, sadly, all of them are still around and kicking.

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    IMO parents have a responsibility to teach their children those things which will help the children become successful, personally happy, and productive citizens of a free society.

    If, to the parents, that means religious training when the children are young, then that’s their right and responsibility.

    That means the parents have a responsibility to thoroughly comprehend the literature, doctrines, history, and reliability of the religion they’re teaching. It’s not enough to blindly accept; they must have rational knowledge to pass on, or they are shirking responsibility.

    Along with that, I believe it’s vital that children–at an appropriate age–should be taught to think for themselves. They are individuals, not parental clones.

    As they grow up, they are entitled to form their own values and follow their own paths of faith. If they are indoctrinated with only one point of view or “truth”, they are being done a diservice.

    In high school or college they will discover alternative belief systems for themselves. They will likely be confronted with the inconsistencies, fallacies, and illogic which do exist in every religion. At that point, they will start questioning what they’ve been taught. Some will continue to believe, some will give up religion altogether and some will start thinking of their parents as ignorant.

    It IS child abuse to frighten children into accepting a parent’s beliefs.

  • Cindy D

    Baritone,

    Would I have to pay you a royalty if I used this as a standard reply to every post JOM makes?

    “JOM-First of all, you’re just full of shit. You obviously didn’t comprehend anything I wrote and you’re offering opinions without any knowledge whatsoever.”

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Cindy,

    Royalties would be nice, but what the heck. Knock yourself out. Go for it. Use it whenever you see fit. Just occasionally acknowledge your source.

    B-tone

  • Irene Wagner

    I’ve EXCEEDINGLY BAD NEWS FOR commenter #47! Lee Richards details for us the prerequisites for parents who wish to instruct their children in the faith.

    …the parents have a responsibility to thoroughly comprehend the literature, doctrines, history, and reliability of the religion they’re teaching. It’s not enough to blindly accept; they must have rational knowledge to pass on, or they are shirking responsibility.

    How very generous of you, Mr. Richards, to assume such a high level of erudition for a group whom atheists usually describe as not only willfully blind and ignorant, but stupid!

    The fact is, literacy is NOT a requirement for becoming a friend of Jesus Christ. The only thing necessary is a heart that is truly sorry, and a willingness to look to God for help in turning around. Jesus Christ is just as pleased to grant “life more abundantly” to folks on the OTHER SIDE of the Bell Curve as he is to give it to the scholars you describe. I’m not ashamed to say your requirement isn’t even REMOTELY reasonable for a large segment of the Christian population.

    A pretty good Biblical case can be made for the fact that God hears the heartfelt “I’m Sorry” prayers of anyone, even if they don’t know Jesus yet–I’ll ask for a “pass” on your requirement for these, too, who are currently instructing their children in the ways God gave to all mankind before the dispersion at Babel.

    You BRIGHTS however, will have no intellectual barriers to holding yourselves to the SAME STRINGENT REQUIREMENTS before slapping the nauseous green ‘MR.YUCK’ warning sticker on ALL religions for your kids.

    Hoo boy. Start telling all the atheists you know who are not “Child-Free” they’d better start reading: the Early Church Fathers, the ENTIRE Bible–including the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, and all its translations into modern languages, a complete survey of Church history from all possible theological perspectives. Of course, you’ll need to have not only thoroughly studied BUT ALSO refuted ALL the arguments of not just one but ALL apologists.

    Oh, dear, dear, the BITTER irony. It looks like before reproducing you’ll all have to become Doctors of Divinity. That’s yet ANOTHER phd for some of you! Ivy League Colleges still offer these–and of course, you’ll want your RATIONAL knowledge of Christianity to come from the VERY best school.

    But wait! It gets even worse! Atheists believe ALL religions are hocus pocus! You’ll have to get as much training as a Jewish rabbi, a Buddhist monk, a Native American shaman, a Muslim imam….

  • http://adreamersholiday.blogspot.com Lee Richards

    Irene:

    Or you could just start with biblical literacy, some common sense, a smattering of comparative religions and, oh yes, a real desire to teach rather than indoctrinate.

  • Irene Wagner

    Yes, Lee, an atheist COULD start with biblical literacy, some common sense, a smattering of comparative religions.

    I’ll eat my hat, though, if I hear Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennet or Sam Harris initiating their children into the glories of godlessness with a real desire to teach rather than indoctrinate. I think you’d be disappointed in them if they did! After all, New Atheists such as yourself certainly appear to be adopting a fairly doctrinaire style under the tutelage of these men.

  • Irene Wagner

    Dr. Dreadful. I read the link about. No surprise really. First Greenspan endorsed the tax cuts Bush proposed so that a divided congress would accept them in 2001. Although Greenspan was the head of the ‘fed, in charge of juggling inflation, the deficit, and US fiat money, Bush’s plans to increase spending came as a complete surprise! He NEVER would have encouraged Congress to cut taxes had he known. Well, I’m from Missouri!

    But now that the end of the 2nd Bush stretch of the Bush Clinton Bush Clinton cycle is coming to an end, and Hillary has “the annointing,” guess who’s trotting around the globe promoting the “sounder economic policies of Clinton?”

    NONE of the elite are partisan. That’s why I find the “left” vs. “right” squabbles on this site so counterproductive and distracting.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    Irene,

    I doubt seriously that you know anything about Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett or Harris. You simply assume that if they reject god, that they have no conscience or humanity. You see them as no more than the equivalent of jack booted Nazis. You understand nothing about atheists or atheism.

    There is absolutely no need for any atheist to know anything about any particular religion. All one has to know is that the existence of god is at most, unlikely; religion, ludicrous. All twists, turns and machinations of the various religions do nothing to raise the likelihood of god.

    B-tone

  • Irene Wagner

    Baritone, you are at a disadvantage if you haven’t read Lee Richards’ #47, and my reply to him in #50. Once you read them and realize that I was only holding atheist parents to the same standard Lee Richards was holding Christian parents, you’ll realize you were making a few assumptions yourself.

    By the way, I used to think Christopher Hitchens was the wittiest contributor to Vanity Fair magazine. The editors got tired of his slavish devotion to Bush’s Iraq War (his utter disdain for the man himself notwithstanding) about the same time I did.

  • STM

    Baritone: “Somebody must have picked up and reassembled all the pieces, because, sadly, all of them are still around and kicking.”

    Are you talking about Cindy’s mini treatise on world religions, or Doc’s body parts after the rugby game?