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saturday, july 3, 2004

A Modest Proposal

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
 
And if Bush is "re"-elected in November, it may come to that.
 
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9:21 pm | link

friday, july 2, 2004

Liberal Elites
 
I've been reading What's the Matter With Kansas? by Thomas Frank (any relation to our Tom Frank?). This is an amazing book that I recommend almost as highly as my book.
 
Frank sees many things with clarity. He sees that David Brooks is an idiot. He sees that the Right is trying to erase the entire 20th century. He sees that Republican policies are killing the middle and working class. He sees that the GOP is getting away with the mother of all bait-and-switch schemes:
Their grandstanding leaders never deliver, their fury mounts and mounts, and nevertheless they turn out every two years to return their right-wing heroes to office for a second, a third, a twentieth try. The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off. Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining. [page 7]
One of the reasons right-wing politicians get away with this is that all the evil of the world is blamed on the liberal elite, a shadowy cadre of intellectuals who allegedly run everything. Right-wingers see themselves as oppressed and victimized and powerless even though they actually run everything.
 
Barbara Ehrenreich wrote an op ed in yesterday's New York Times (Dude, Where's That Elite?) that focuses on the liberal elite:

Backed up by the concept of a "liberal elite," right-wingers could crony around with their corporate patrons in luxuriously appointed think tanks and boardrooms — all the while purporting to represent the average overworked Joe.

Beyond that, the idea of a liberal elite nourishes the right's perpetual delusion that it is a tiny band of patriots bravely battling an evil power structure. Note how richly the E-word embellishes the screeds of Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and their co-ideologues, as in books subtitled "Rescuing American from the Media Elite," "How Elites from Hollywood, Politics and the U.N. Are Subverting America," and so on. Republican right-wingers may control the White House, both houses of Congress and a good chunk of the Supreme Court, but they still enjoy portraying themselves as Davids up against a cosmopolitan-swilling, corgi-owning Goliath.

"Thus," Ehrenreich continues, "Last winter, the ultra-elite right-wing Club for Growth dismissed followers of Howard Dean as a "tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show." I've experienced it myself: speak up for the downtrodden, and someone is sure to accuse you of being a member of the class that's doing the trodding."

Sure enough, in today's Times a reader from Milwaukee writes,

Barbara Ehrenreich equates elitism with being "wealthy, pampered, arrogant." If that's all there is to it, then certainly "conservative elites" are just as numerous as "liberal elites." But what distinguishes liberal elites is their paternalistic attitude toward the "downtrodden," whom they claim to champion.

While conservatives seek to provide the individual with the means and liberties to advance, the liberal elites believe that the "downtrodden" are inherently incapable and not to be trusted with such means and freedom to choose.

With that attitude, Michael Moore cannot escape the liberal elitist label, never mind the flannel shirt and baseball cap. 

And a reader from Fairfield, California, writes,

"Liberal elite" does not refer to the amount of money someone possesses, nor to the person's social station in life — and certainly not the clothes he wears. Rather, it takes aim at the belief that so many prominent liberals seem to hold: that average citizens are simply not wise enough, not well read enough or just not smart enough to make decisions for themselves.

And in that sense, Mr. Moore, with his frequent references to how "stupid" the American citizenry is, fits right into the definition.

If the left has an enduring problem, it is this. And so long as there are prominent liberals who denigrate the intelligence of their fellow citizens and assert solutions that must be applied "for the good of" a public that allegedly cannot govern itself, that problem will remain.

Let's review:

what distinguishes liberal elites is their paternalistic attitude toward the "downtrodden," whom they claim to champion.

Certainly I have run into paternalistic liberals, but what do you call Ann Coulter or David Brooks when they gush about the virtuous folks of the red-state Heartland? Frank quotes Coulter (of upscale Connecticut) blathering about how the people of Kansas are real, unlike those East Coast elitists. Speaking as the product of a scrappy Missouri Ozark mining town (who had kinfolk who sharecropped watermelons, for pity's sake), Coulter sounds pretty damn condescending to me.

Frank quotes a pundit and business owner who actually said that people in Red America are "perfectly happy to be slightly overweight [and] a little underpaid." Reminds me of the old plantation truism that black persons were happy being slaves. No, not paternalistic at all.

While conservatives seek to provide the individual with the means and liberties to advance, the liberal elites believe that the "downtrodden" are inherently incapable and not to be trusted with such means and freedom to choose.

Can anyone think of an example of conservatives providing the poor with the "means and liberties to advance"? I can't. One suspects this is code for "root, hog, or die." Further, the author provides no examples of the "liberal elites" believing the poor are "inherently incapable" of advancing themselves.

The other writer speaks of the "belief that so many prominent liberals seem to hold: that average citizens are simply not wise enough, not well read enough or just not smart enough to make decisions for themselves."

Where does that idea come from? Most likely the writer wants to outlaw abortion (women are just not smart enough to make decisions for themselves?),  mandate prayer in public school classrooms and allow the Ten Commandments to be carved on the county courthouse (people are just not smart enough to make spiritual decisions for themselves?).

In other words, there is something out there (like, maybe, the Bill of Rights) that prevents conservatives from enforcing their beliefs on everyone else. And that something must be those snotty, elitist liberals.

And finally,

If the left has an enduring problem, it is this. And so long as there are prominent liberals who denigrate the intelligence of their fellow citizens and assert solutions that must be applied "for the good of" a public that allegedly cannot govern itself, that problem will remain.

First, left and liberal are not necessarily the same thing. Those on the extreme left (Marxists, for example) are not liberals. I cling to the traditional definition of liberal, which is

[The] philosophy or movement that has as its aim the development of individual freedom. Because the concepts of liberty or freedom change in different historical periods the specific programs of liberalism also change. The final aim of liberalism, however, remains fixed, as does its characteristic belief not only in essential human goodness but also in human rationality. Liberalism assumes that people, having a rational intellect, have the ability to recognize problems and solve them and thus can achieve systematic improvement in the human condition.

Of course, the American Right these days isn't conservative .... But speaking of applying solutions for the good of the public, who is it studying Leo Strauss these days? (Hint: It ain't us liberals.)

 
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7:10 pm | link

Buy My Book!!!
                                      
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THE book, known in these parts as "Mybook," formally called Blogging America: Political Discourse in a Digital Nation, can be preordered from the publisher, William James & Co. I understand copies will begin to ship in a few days.
 
"Mybook" is an introduction to the world of political blogs (most of you can probably skip that part) and an argument that America needs blogs and bloggers. It's also an anthology of blogging from various sites, Left and Right.
 
Click here to order!
 
 
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9:22 am | link

wednesday, june 30, 2004

The Further Adventures of Crisco John
 
In a previous episode: Sometime in January, Crisco John's justice department released Nabil al-Marabh and deported him to his native Syria. Al-Marabh had been in custody for nearly two years.
 
At one time, al-Marabh was No. 27 on the FBI's list of most-wanted terrorists. He had boasted to an informant that he planned to blow up a New York City tunnel. Further,
Internal FBI and Justice Department documents show prosecutors and FBI agents gathered evidence that linked al-Marabh to:

  • Raed Hijazi, the Boston cab driver convicted in Jordan for plotting to blow up an American-frequented hotel in Amman during the 1999 millennium celebrations. Al-Marabh and Hijazi were roommates at the Afghan training camps and later in the United States, and al-Marabh sent money to Hijazi.
  • The Detroit apartment where four men were arrested in what became the administration's first major terror prosecution after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Al-Marabh's name was still on the rental unit when agents raided it. The men were found with false IDs and documents describing alleged terror plots, and two of the four were convicted of being part of a terrorism conspiracy.
  • Several large deposits, withdrawals and overseas wire transfers in 1998 and 2000 that were flagged as suspicious by a Boston bank. The Customs Service first identified al-Marabh in 2001 for possible terrorist ties to Hijazi.

    FBI documents said al-Marabh denied being affiliated with al Qaeda. But he acknowledged receiving training in rifles and rocket-propelled grenades in an Afghan camp, sending money to his friend Hijazi, using a fake address to get a truck driving license and buying a phony passport for $4,000 in Canada to sneak into the United States shortly before Sept. 11. [AP, June 2, 2004]
  • Prosecutors in Detroit and Chicago were working hard to bring indictments against al-Marabh that would have kept him in custody for years. But according to the Associated Press story linked above, "Those indictments were rejected by the Justice Department in the name of protecting intelligence."
     
    I'm interpreting that to mean al-Marabh was released because he knew something the Bushies didn't want found out. And al-Marabh may not be the only one:

    One of Ashcroft's top deputies, Chris Wray, recently told Congress that he was concerned some terror suspects rounded up after Sept. 11, 2001, were now being deported because prosecutors were having a hard time making terrorism cases or couldn't expose sensitive intelligence information during court proceedings. [John Solomon, Seattle Post-Ingelligencer, June 30, 2004]

    Let's see if I've got this straight. If some guy -- let's call him Osama -- is in federal custody, but Osama knows stuff that might be considered "sensitive intelligence information," then instead of prosecuting him we just turn him loose? Are we making sense?
     
    The sensitive intelligence information that al-Marabh had been turned loose slipped out in early June, months after the fact.
     
    Now some Senators, including some Republicans, want Ashcroft to explain the decision to relelase al-Marabh. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wants Ashcroft to explain why "the Justice Department didn't prosecute the man they had in custody for nearly two years either in a military tribunal or through a secret court proceeding that could protect intelligence information." [John Solomon, ibid.]
     
    I think those are good questions. Don't you?
     
    After the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the Clinton Administration caught Muhammad Rashed Daoud al-Owhali, an al-Qaeda operative who avoided being killed in the bombings as planned. And from him the CIA extracted intelligence on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, including the fact that al Qaeda planned terrorist attacks in the U.S. that involved airplane hijackings. (Newsweek, June 10, 2002, page 23)
     
    So what might al-Marabh know, hmmm? And why didn't John Ashcroft want anyone to find out?
     
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    8:12 am | link

    tuesday, june 29, 2004

    Tidal Wave?
     
    I won't have much time for blogging until later today, but in the meantime please read E.J. Dionne's column, "First Ripple of a Political Tidal Wave?" and let me know what you think!
     
    Sample:
    Inslee, who now represents a suburban Seattle district, was tossed out of Congress from another district in the 1994 Republican sweep. "When you see a tidal wave go over your head about 35 feet high," Inslee says, "you notice it."

    But he came back to the House in 1998, and now what he's seeing "is the same tidal wave moving in the opposite direction. . . . There's a passion out there." And the passion, Inslee says, is running against George W. Bush.

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    6:41 am | link

    monday, june 28, 2004

    Pats and Pans
     
    Here's a couple more reviews of "Fahrenheit," one good, one stupid. The good one is by Stuart Klawans in The Nation.

    ... as you leave the movie house, you might notice that the sidewalk chatter sounds oddly muffled, the traffic looks a little blurred, as you begin to realize that your attention has not come outside with you; it's still in the dark, struggling with the feelings that Fahrenheit 9/11 called up and didn't resolve. Are you outraged, heartbroken, vengeful, morose, gloating, thoughtful, electrified? Moore has elicited all of these emotions and then had the nerve--the filmmaker's nerve--to leave you to sort them out.

    I think there are two bundles of messages in Fahrenheit 9/11, one political and one emotional--and while the first is about as ambiguous as a call to take up pitchforks and torches and storm the castle, the second is too complex to unsettle those in power. It works to unsettle you. It's what makes Fahrenheit 9/11 a real movie.

    Klawans makes many good points, and if you haven't seen "F" yet, please read his entire review before you go on to the stupid one. If you have seen the film, however, you should be able to see how stupid the stupid one is on your own.

    The stupid review is by Richard Just of The New Republic. Naturally, it was picked up by CBS News.

    Just is a flaming idiot. I give you this as evidence:

    If the folks with whom I saw the movie provide any indication, audiences across the country will leave the theater so moved by Lipscomb's story that they will forgive "Fahrenheit 9/11" its often-incoherent points and poorly supported accusations. That, I suspect, is exactly what Moore wanted: to wrap assertions that can only be described as odd -- such as his insistence that the military is failing to adequately patrol miles of deserted Oregonian coast -- in the heart-breaking story of a mother's loss and the legitimate observation that America's system of military service asks too much of the poor and too little of elites.

    Lipscomb is the patriotic mother who has lost a son in Iraq. And she has realized her son was sent to his death for nothing, and she is outraged about this. 

    Also in the movie was a bit about the coast of Oregon and the fact that most of it is unwatched by any authority at any time, because there aren't enough personnel to watch it. While our military is taking up space in Iraq for no reason.

    Mr. Just doesn't see the connection. He doesn't see the connection. As I said, Just is an idiot. 

    More idiocy: Moore also makes the point that most of our professional military is recruited from poor and working-class families. In rust-bucket towns like Flint, raging unemployment has turned the poor neighborhoods into cannon fodder farms. On the other hand, the children of members of Congress, not to mention Presidents, are pursuing other goals. 

    Late in the film, the camera pans faces of soldiers and says something to the effect (I wish I had the exact quote, because it was quite moving) that we should appreciate these young people who are willing to give their lives for their country, but that we should not betray them by asking them to fight unless it is necessary.

    Of this, Just writes,

    There's a central -- and dishonest -- trick to what Moore is doing here: He's conflating two questions that have very little to do with each other. The question of whether a war is just (Moore's thesis is that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were not) has no logical connection to the question of whether it is fought by a justly selected military. Vietnam was not an unjust war because elites received draft deferments; it was an unjust war in which the burdens of military service happened to be spread unfairly. Every war the United States has fought since Vietnam has been fought by an unjustly distributed military. But not every war has been unjust. The distribution of sacrifice in a democracy is a moral problem all its own.

    I mean, how stupid is this? Moore's point clearly is that powerful people see the children of the poor as expendable pawns in their power games. The invasion of Iraq was not only "unjust," it was unnecessary. It was stupid. And soldiers are being killed and maimed and traumatized for nothing. And those who voted for the war did so knowing that their own children would not have to fight it.

    Just continues,

    The logical connection between the two thoughts here is patently absurd. (Is Moore implying that it's okay for the poor and working class to do most of the fighting as long as they are only sent to fight in necessary wars? Would it be okay to fight unnecessary wars if the military burden were properly balanced?)

    Just clearly sat in the theater with his fingers in his ears yelling "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" The politicians and corporations made a world in which a military career is one of the few options available to the children of the working poor. And then these same powerful few send these children (but not their own) off to fight and die in an unnecessary war.

    That's wrong. If Mr. Just can't see how wrong that is, then he is stupid. And only an extremely stupid person would waste his already limited cognitive resources by questioning if an unnecessary war would become necessary if the children of the wealthy had to fight it.

    I mean, duh.

    Just continues to flop aimlessly through the next few paragraphs on the issue of socioeconomic imbalance and the military. At one point he actually says, "It's as if he [Moore] forgets that people also die, and mothers also grieve, in necessary wars."

    No, dummy, nobody forgot that. We're talking about Iraq. We're not talking about D-Day or Gettysburg, we're talking about Iraq. And we're talking about young people sent to their deaths for no damn bleeping reason.  

    Finally, mercifully, Just ends his review:

    Liberalism is as badly served by liberal intellectual dishonesty as it is by conservative intellectual dishonesty.

    Liberalism is badly served by stupid, as well, Mr. Just.

    Besides, Lila Lipscomb and the young men being funneled directly from Flint malls to Iraq deserve better. That is, they deserve to be more than distractions from the intellectual mess that precedes them in this movie.

    They deserve better than to have their lives thrown away by the Bush Regime as well.

     Moore ends "Fahrenheit 9/11" by predicting that American voters will not be fooled into voting again for George W. Bush. I hope he's right. But I also hope they won't be fooled by the bad logic at the center of his film. 

    The only "bad logic" is running rampant throughout this review. My subscription to New Republic is about up. I think I will tell them I'll only renew it if they fire Richard Just. 
     

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    7:27 pm | link

    Hot Potato
     
    I don't know what to make of the surprise early transfer of "sovereignty" to Iraq. Robert Alt at National Review calls it an "undeniably clever move by Bremer and Allawi."
    The climate in Baghdad for the last week has been one of anxious anticipation. Al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi made known, in his now infamous memorandum, that he wished to use the pretext of American occupation to increase terrorism in the days leading up to the June 30, leading many to fear that al Qaeda planned something in the nature of a Tet Offensive to go along with the transition. While the threat still lingers, the "pretext" does not. Any attack carried out from this day forward will unmistakably be one against the Iraqi people.
    Zarqawi is, of course, the terrorist thought responsible for the beheading of Nick Berg. And he's the same Zarqawi that the Bushies decided not to eliminate when they could have because "the administration feared [that] destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam." How undeniably clever is that?
     
    More undeniable cleverness -- this rightie blogger complains about the media calling the Iraqi insurgents "insurgents." They are not insurgents, he says, but fascists. Although why they can't be fascist insurgents he does not explain.
     
    Predictably, the nice doggie misses the point:

    After decades of brutal tyranny and oppression, the people of Iraq are finally able to take their rightful position among free men and women, and we'd like to be among the first to congratulate them.

    The nay-sayers said it couldn't be done, yet we did it, didn't we?

    Whether what was transferred in the ceremony today was actual "sovereignty" is a debatable point. However, I don't think anybody said that the transfer couldn't be done. How hard is it to arrange for a ceremony in which somebody cuts a ribbon or passes a hot potato or whatever you do in a sovereignty transfer ceremony? I might invite some people over to transfer some sovereignty later today. How hard can it be?

    No, what most of us don't think can be done is to permit the sovereign Iraqi people to actually run their country by themselves without the U.S. military and other American elements stepping in (and, remember, we don't really need the permission of the sovereign Iraqi people to do whatever we want in Iraq). And, as I explained here, the evil French and Germans wanted the U.S. to transfer sovereignty much sooner. But the Bushies dragged their feet about making plans for sovereignty until they noticed Iraq was turning into a political liability.

    Sovereignty -- here it comes, ready or not.

    Exactly how a hot potato tossing ceremony is going to prevent Iraq from crumbling into civil war or failed statehood or Islamic totalitarianism or a combination thereof is not entirely clear. Further, unless the daily lives of ordinary Iraqis begin to change after today, they might decide the "sovereignty" transfer was a sham, and that they are still being occupied by the American "coalition." Undeniably clever, those Iraqis.
     

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    9:48 am | link

    sunday, june 27, 2004

    Yeah, Like He Says
     
    There are lots of good commentaries on "Fahrenheit 9/11" on the web today, but this one is closest to my point of view. Compare to a couple of randomly selected rightie whines, here and here.
     
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    10:27 pm | link

    Fired Up
    ... so many people are trying desperately hard to put a muzzle on Moore's little movie, simply because they don't like its politics. Most of them seem to be people who usually complain the loudest about liberal "political correctness." [Clarence Page, "Movements to Muzzle Michael Moore Backfire," Chicago Tribune, June 27, 2004]
    The maha-offspring and I saw "Fahrenheit 9/11" last night. Many others have already said this is Michael Moore's best film yet. And it is.
     
    The GOP is fighting hard to keep people from seeing this film. The Bush Repugs hired a PR firm to create a "grassroots" backlash. They attempted to intimidate theater owners from showing the film (successfully, in some cases). They've set up anti-Moore web sites and persuaded the usual media whores to discredit Moore.
     
    These efforts to silence Michael Moore underscore the peril we are in.
     
    The GOP reaction is understandable. For these people, America is not a nation but a vested interest -- but only as long as they stay in power. If enough voters catch on to them, their game is up.
     
    However, I feel pity and alarm for the brainwashed sheeple who are working to discredit Moore without getting paid for it. This poor soul, for example. In their ignorance, they push us all closer to totalitarianism.
     
    Is every single word in Fahrenheit unimpeachable? Probably not. I've been in the book publishing biz for close to 30 years, and I learned long ago that no matter how careful one is, a few mistakes will creep into the final work. However, no facts presented in the film were new to me, and I didn't hear anything that contradicted what I know to be true. In fact, what Moore presented was only the tip of the iceburg, so to speak.
     
    The next question is, will the film have an effect on the election? Documentaries have turned tides in the past. Edward R. Murrow's "See It Now" program on Senator Joseph McCarthy landed a damaging blow to seemingly invincible McCarthy.  Broadcast March 9, 1954, Murrow's documentary was aired just before the televised Army-McCarthy hearings (April 22-June 17, 1954).
     
    You've probably heard about the famous climax of the hearings, when special counsel Joseph Welch turned to McCarthy and said, "Until this moment, senator, I think I never gauged your cruelty or recklessness....Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" That was the coup de grace. But Murrow's broadcast had helped make McCarthy vulnerable.
     
    I suspect that will be the effect of Moore's film. It won't bring Bush down, but it will further soften his support. 
     
    There is one big difference between McCarthy's situation in 1954 and Bush's in 2004. By the time of the hearings, McCarthy had mightily pissed off many people within his own party, including President Eisenhower. Ike had a hand in bringing the Army-McCarthy hearings to pass, with the goal of bringing McCarthy down. And after the hearings, the enormous majority of the Republican Party turned its back on McCarthy.
     
    The Republican Party is still with George W. Bush. However, if support for the "president" continues to soften, that could change. The time may come when the party decides he is more of a liability than an asset. And then they'll throw him overboard so that he doesn't sink the boat. That's what they did to Nixon, remember.
     
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    12:17 pm | link


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    "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." --Theodore Roosevelt, 1918

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    The War Prayer

    I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!... He has heard the prayer of His servant, your shepherd, & will grant it if such shall be your desire after I His messenger shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause & think.

    "God's servant & yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused & taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken & the unspoken....

    "You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed, silently. And ignorantly & unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is completed into those pregnant words.

    "Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

    "O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

    "O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the sun-flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave & denied it -- for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge & friend of all that are sore beset, & seek His aid with humble & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord & Thine shall be the praise & honor & glory now & ever, Amen."

    (After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! -- the messenger of the Most High waits."

    ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·

    It was believed, afterward, that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

    [Mark Twain, 1905]

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    My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Sister Numchuku of Reasoned Discussion.

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    Copyright 2003, 2004 by Barbara O'Brien

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