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saturday, december 4, 2004

No Body Counts
Be sure to read this chilling article by Naomi Klein in today's Guardian. Klein writes that the U.S. military openly eliminates anyone -- doctors, clerics, journalists, anyone -- who dares attempt to document civilian casualties in Iraq.
US authorities have denied that hundreds of civilians were killed during last April's siege, and have lashed out at the sources of these reports. For instance, an unnamed "senior American officer", speaking to the New York Times last month, labelled Falluja general hospital "a centre of propaganda". But the strongest words were reserved for Arab TV networks. When asked about al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya's reports that hundreds of civilians had been killed in Falluja, Donald Rumsfeld, the US secretary of defence, replied that "what al-Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable ... " Last month, US troops once again laid siege to Falluja - but this time the attack included a new tactic: eliminating the doctors, journalists and clerics who focused public attention on civilian casualties last time around.
In the recent attack on Falluja, Klein writes, the U.S. targeted (and eliminated) health workers, journalists, and clerics first.
This might be called "message control with extreme prejudice."
This is getting even uglier than Vietnam, and fast.
Juan Cole tells us that "Arab satellite stations are reporting mortar attacks on the Green Zone in Baghdad (where the US embassy and government offices are located), and showing thick columns of black smoke rising over the capital." And yesterday, he says, insurgents killed 30 people in Baghdad in a "tsunami" of attacks.
The big headline in most U.S. newspapers? "Rumsfeld to Reman at Pentagon."
Also, Kos lists the members of the "coalition" and how many troops each "coalition" member sent. Did you know Tonga sent 45 soldiers? And Fiji will send some soon. I'm surprised Bush doesn't brag about our mighty Polynesian allies.
7:51 am | link

friday, december 3, 2004

Faith-Based Sex Ed
A panel of phyicians and politicians has advised that the word abstinence be dropped from sex education programs.  This is the only proven way to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, they said. One panel member added that international studies had found that encouraging abstinence among teenagers did not work, because "they are just going to ignore you."
Please note that this panel was advising the Parliament of Scotland. Here, it's a different story.
Yesterday the Washington Post reported that U.S. taxpayers are funding "abstinence only" sex ed programs that amount to telling the kids babies are brought by the stork.
Many American youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals "can result in pregnancy," a congressional staff analysis has found.  
Holding the U.S. up to further international ridicule, today the British Guardian tells its readers,
The Bush administration is funding sexual health projects that teach children that HIV can be contracted through sweat and tears, touching genitals can result in pregnancy, and that a 43-day-old foetus is a thinking person. ...

Other "facts" include that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, half the gay male teenagers in the US have tested positive for HIV, and condoms fail to prevent transmission of HIV in 31% of incidences of heterosexual intercourse. US government figures contradict all of these assertions.

The Bush Regime is spending $170 million on this nonsense.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) led a congressional analysis of the several programs receiving our tax dollars. According to WaPo,
The report concluded that two of the curricula were accurate but the 11 others, used by 69 organizations in 25 states, contain unproved claims, subjective conclusions or outright falsehoods regarding reproductive health, gender traits and when life begins. In some cases, Waxman said in an interview, the factual issues were limited to occasional misinterpretations of publicly available data; in others, the materials pervasively presented subjective opinions as scientific fact.  
According to the Guardian, Bush's Health and Human Services officials accused Waxman of pushing a political agenda.
Alma Golden, the deputy assistant health and human services secretary for population affairs, said it took statements out of context to present programmes in the worst possible light.

"These issues have been raised before and discredited," Ms Golden said. 

Science was discredited? Really? And when was that, dear?

In fact, there have been a number of evaluations showing that "abstinence only" sex ed is pretty much a miserable failure. But according to Congressman Waxman,

HHS has changed performance measures for abstinence-only education to make the programs appear successful, censored information on effective sex education programs, and appointed to a key panel an abstinence-only proponent with dubious credentials.

Over the past three years, Congress has appropriated over $100 million in grants to organizations that sponsor abstinence-only education. In November 2000, under the Clinton Administration, HHS developed meaningful, scientifically sound outcome measures to assess whether these programs achieved their intended purposes, including the “proportion of program participants who have engaged in sexual intercourse” and the birth rate of female program participants.[4]

In late 2001, however, the Bush Administration dropped these measures and replaced them with a set of standards that does not include any real outcomes. Rather than tracking pregnancy or sexual activity, these measures assess attendance and the attitudes of teens at the end of the education program, including the “proportion of participants who indicate understanding of the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from premarital sexual activity.”[5]

Such standards are not scientifically valid. A 2001 review of scientific evidence concluded that “adolescents’ sexual beliefs, attitudes, and even intentions are . . . weak proxies for actual behaviors.”[6] That is, even if teens pledge to remain abstinent, they may not actually do so. According to a major HHS-funded report, two “hallmarks of good evaluation” in programs designed to reduce teen pregnancy rates are evaluations that “[m]easure behaviors, not just attitudes and beliefs” and “[c]onduct long-term follow-up (of at least one year).”[7] However, the Bush Administration’s standards for measuring the success of abstinence-only programs contain no reports or assessments of actual behavior or health outcomes and do not require any minimum followup period. 

But in wingnutland, it's not what we do that's important. It's what we say we do that counts. That's why the new film of Alfred Kinsey, starring Liam Neesan (and they made Neesan look like a nerd! Amazing!) is stirring up the best of wingnuttery. As us old folks remember, Kinsey was a remarkably unappealing guy who studied actual sexual behavior -- what people were really doing -- and published books about it. Roger Ebert's review of the film provides some historical background.

Kinsey's name was a dirty word in the 1950s and 1960s. You'd think he invented perversion. Indeed, the wingnuts seem to think so. This unreconstructed wingnut writes,

When the press writes of my findings that Alfred Kinsey carried out pedophile crimes against infants and children for his books, "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" (1948) and "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female" (1953), Kinsey's apologists usually cry foul. They insist I have no "proof" that Kinsey himself, personally, raped and sodomized any of the 317 to 2,035 infants and children tortured to launch the "sexology field."

"Proof" is for weenies and libruhls. Like "peace" and "justice." And "science." Damn libruhl commie plots.

John Patterson has a grand time making fun of the wingnuts in today's Guardian.

Kinsey's two books were bestsellers, but he became entangled in the neuroses of his time. The Rockefeller folk were hounded into dropping their support, and J Edgar Hoover demanded - but didn't receive - Kinsey's assistance in witch-hunting gays at the US State Department. That Hoover was himself a cross-dressing, closeted homosexual who lived with his overpromoted pretty-boy assistant, FBI director Clyde Tolson, speaks volumes about the grotesque hypocrisy of public figures in those days (plus ça change ... ). ...

... the religious right still fear and despise Kinsey and all his works. Check out some of the (apparently coordinated) responses to the new movie. "Kinsey's proper place is with Nazi doctor Josef Mengele," says Robert Knight of Concerned Women for America, inadvertently showing us what he thinks of the Holocaust. Robert Peters of Morality in Media: "That's part of Kinsey's legacy: Aids, abortion, the high divorce rate, pornography." Focus on the Family's film critic (they have a film critic?), Tom Neven, calls the movie "rank propaganda for the sexual revolution and the homosexual agenda". And Judith Reisman, who has waged a decades-long war against Kinsey's memory, refers to "a legacy of massive venereal disease, broken hearts and broken souls".

These people are of a piece with new Republican congressmen who really have sex on the brain, such as Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who thinks there is an epidemic of lesbianism in Oklahoma schools, and South Carolina's Jim DeMint (that second 'i' should really be an 'e') who wants gays and pregnant single mothers barred from teaching decent, God-fearing hillbillies.

At the dawn of a digitised, globalised millennium, these creeps want the clocks turned back to a time when the church held sway over our sexuality. They prefer us ignorant and terrified, alone in the dark, the better for them to control us through fear and guilt. Too bad for them that we live in the bright, vivid light of our incandescent dirty dreams.

Easy for Mr. Patterson to say; he's in Britain (which includes Scotland). I left out some of Mr. Patterson's funnier remarks, so be sure you read the whole essay. 'Tis a hoot. I especially liked the part where famous closet gay cross-dresser J. Edgar Hoover tried to get Kinsey to help him witch-hunt homosexuals.

But the point is that Kinsey didn't invent stuff. He just reported it. But to wingnuts it doesn't matter what people really do, so long as it's properly repressed.   

There's one more aspect of the abstinence programs that is disturbing. As pointed out by Julia on The American Street (Hold a Nickle Between Your Knees and Other Marvels of Modern Science),

In other Why Johnny doesn’t work for NASA news, girls are being encouraged in their abstinence programs not to disagree with their boyfriends or they might lose them and their future financial support (for which they will exchange admiration and sexual fulfillment, unless he asks for it too early, in which case you can not give it to him, as long as you don’t lessen his confidence. He’ll let you know).

This is from the WaPo article linked above:

Some course materials cited in Waxman's report present as scientific fact notions about a man's need for "admiration" and "sexual fulfillment" compared with a woman's need for "financial support." One book in the "Choosing Best" series tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. "Moral of the story," notes the popular text: "Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess."

And they say they don't want to send mixed messages. HA!

Seriously, good ol' all-American subjugation of women is a big part of the fundamentalist agenda. Burquas are just around the corner ... 

9:58 am | link

thursday, december 2, 2004

Alan Freeman writes of Bush's trip to Canada for the Toronto Globe and Mail:
His speech in Halifax was billed in advance by the White House as an effort at "reaching out to some of our closest allies" but it was soon apparent that Mr. Bush was in no mood to concede any ground simply to please friends abroad.

Woven into a text full of praise for Canada's role as America's neighbour at a time of need, was Mr. Bush's no-nonsense offer to Canada and other allies for increased multilateral co-operation, but with conditions attached.

Mr. Bush said that many of the current international challenges, from fighting AIDS to battling nuclear proliferation, are best dealt with by countries working together. "America always prefers to act with allies at our side, and we're grateful to Canada for working closely with us to confront the challenges of Iran and North Korea," Mr. Bush said.

But he immediately added a caveat to his embrace of a multilateral approach through organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United Nations, repeating the same rhetoric he used in the runup to the Iraq war.

". . . the success of multilateralism is measured not merely by following a process, but by achieving results," Mr. Bush said. "The objective of the UN and other institutions must be collective security, not endless debate." [Emphasis added]

Compare/contrast Bush's boldface statement, above, with this story in Salon by Sidney Blumenthal. Blumenthal. In September, a Pentagon advisory panel delivered a report that called the "war on terror" an unmitigated disaster. The report was kept under wraps during the presidential campaign, but on Thanksgiving Eve it was posted (quietly) on a Pentagon web site. Writes Blumenthal:

The task force discovered more than a chaotic vacuum, a government sector "in crisis," though it found that, too: "Missing are strong leadership, strategic direction, adequate coordination, sufficient resources, and a culture of measurement and evaluation." Inevitably, as it journeyed deeper into the recesses of the Bush administration's foreign policy, the task force documented the unparalleled failure of its fundamental premises. "America's negative image in world opinion and diminished ability to persuade are consequences of factors other than the failure to implement communications strategies," the report declares.

If you google the word process you get endless hits of papers explaining the importance of process. Anyone with hands-on experience with complicated projects learns that process cannot be separated from result

In all my years in book publishing, one of my biggest gripes was with managers and marketing directors who had only a hazy understanding of how their products, the books, were actually produced. Yet they were in a position to make decisions about how the products were produced, and nearly always they made bad decisions, because they didn't understand and respect process.

But, of course, one of the many reasons the Bush Administration is so screwed up is that it is made up mostly of people without hands-on experience.  You've got people who went from college to think tank or academia or upper-level management without ever working up through the ranks.

If you think about it, Bush himself never had a real job that depended on producing results, or else. He'd start an oil company, run it into the ground, lose his investors' money, then be rewarded with a job on the board of directors of another company where he could contribute by showing up at meetings and telling dirty jokes. And this pattern kept repeating until he became governor of Texas. 

One wonders if he understands what results actually are

Do read all of Blumenthal's piece. I haven't read the paper itself yet, but that looks like a worthwhile project, also. Blumenthal provides this quote:

Finally, Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic -- namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is -- for Americans -- really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game. This perception is of course necessarily heightened by election-year atmospherics, but nonetheless sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims they are really just talking to themselves.

And isn't this narcissism just a reflection of Bush himself? After September 11 he had a golden opportunity to lead America and the world toward a true coalition for peace. Instead, he saw September 11 as all about him and his political career, and took us toward more divisiveness and enmity.

His political career is supremely successful, and he's even worshipped in some quarters. That's the only kind of "result" Bush understands, I suspect. 

Bush Up North:  I set out to write about Bush in Canada this morning, then got hijacked by that "process" quote. Dan Froomkin has a roundup of commentary on the Canada trip that is what I would have written had I gotten around to it.

9:53 am | link

wednesday, december 1, 2004

Remember the War!

Iraq is barely in the news today. I notice. Some stories you may not see on the front page:

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) – The U.S. military in Iraq suffered its deadliest month since last year’s invasion with more military personnel killed in action in November than in any equivalent period, the Pentagon’s figures show.

At least 135 combat deaths were reported in Iraq between 10 a.m. New York time on Oct. 29 and the same time on Nov. 30, according to the casualty toll posted on the Department of Defense Web site. That surpasses the toll from April this year, when 131 soldiers, Marines and other military personnel were killed between March 31 and April 30, the Web site showed.

Somebody’s making progress, although it doesn’t seem to be us.

On Monday night, NBC reported that the Pentagon plans to send at least 10,000 additional troops to Iraq, bringing the total number of U.S. troops to about 150,000. But it gets worse – today, the Washington Post reports U.S. is keeping seriously wounded and disabled soldiers on active duty.

This is being played as a “triumph over adversity” story, and maybe it is. An amputee interviewed by WaPo bravely declared he would take a replacement leg with him when he was redeployed to Iraq. Progress, indeed. But I think it should be noted that, as we prepare disabled soldiers to go back to Iraq, the Iraqi guard (of whom the “president” spoke so proudly during the campaign) is melting like butter.

While Bush administration officials say the training is progressing and there have been cases in which the Iraqis have proved tactically useful and fought bravely, local U.S. commanders and security officials say the Iraqi forces are riddled with problems.

In the most violent provinces, they say, the Iraqis are so intimidated that many are reluctant to show up and do not tell their families where they work, have not received adequate training or weapons, present a danger to U.S. troops they fight alongside or are otherwise unreliable because of corruption, desertion or infiltration. [Link]

Juan Cole provides a ray of hope. Iraqi Shiites, he says, are looking forward to the January elections because they believe it will end the occupation. “It does seem likely,” Professor Cole writes, “that if the US beats down the Baathists enough to permanently defang them, the Shiites are likely simply to toss the Americans out after they take power (assuming that there is a real election, and Allawi is not simply installed as a US puppet [again]).”

I suspect that if the Shiites aren’t able to get rid of us peacefully, however …

The BBC is publishing accounts – something like a group blog – of what is going on inside Iraq written by Iraqis. Comments to the post allow some real dialogue to take place, although one wonders about Philip of Columbus, Ohio, who lectures Rana Imad of Baghdad that “it is not the Americans or British who are killing people.” She’s there; he isn’t. Which of these people is in a better position to know who is killing whom?

When they start up the draft, let’s send Philip of Columbus first. Deal?

9:00 am | link

tuesday, november 30, 2004

Today's Fun(d)ies
This op ed in today's Boston Globe got me thinking about two of my college roommates, Winifred and Thera (real names). We shared an off-campus apartment our senior year.
Winifred was a flaming Irish-American Catholic. We had been dorm roomies as juniors, and she decorated her side of the room with IRA posters. She had lived in an Irish Catholic neighborhood admidst her large Irish Catholic family, and had gone to Catholic schools, so until college her exposure to not-Catholics was limited.
Thera was a devout Christian. Looking back, I cannot recall clearly which denomination she belonged to, if any, although she may have been raised Baptist. She belonged to several campus Christian groups, including Campus Crusade for Christ. You'd have to call her a fundie, although she was not a hateful, judgmental sort of fundie. If she had been, she wouldn't have gotten along with me and Winifred.
Anyway, we shared this apartment. At night Thera and Winifred would sit up arguing about religion. They baffled each other. Their ideas about the nature of God and man and church were poles apart. Other than basic agreement with the Doctrine of Trinity, they actually believed in entirely different religions. God wants us to do this they would argue. God wants us to do that. Eventually I would yell, God wants me to go to sleep. They agreed I was beyond redemption, although we remained on speaking terms, even so.
Once I remember we all went to a church supper with Thera, and at one point a group leader asked us where we had gone to high school. This was right after group leader had made remarks about how Catholics were not "real Christians." When Winifred answered, "Our Lady of Guadalupe," one could have heard a pin drop.
Thera dropped out of college just one semester short of graduation. She'd been called, she said, to be a missionary. And where was she to be sent to spread the Word? Switzerland. She was going to bring Jesus to Swiss Catholics. I remember toying with the idea of finding Jesus if I could live in Switzerland awhile, too. For a nanosecond. (Actually, I had already found Jesus. I always got on well with Jesus. Jesus wanted Thera to finish her last semester.)
I'm sorry I lost track of my roomies circa 1974 and no longer know where they are and how they turned out. I hope they are both well and happy. But, as I said, I thought of them this morning when I read Bernard Moon's article in the Boston Globe:

IN A recent speech at Tufts University, Andy Rooney reflected on the election and said, according to The Tufts Daily, that Christian fundamentalism is a result of "a lack of education. They haven't been exposed to what the world has to offer."

Those comments as well as the identification of the "bigoted Christian redneck" after Election Day in various editorials left me wondering: Where do these "liberal elites" get this fictional image of Christians? When did this distorted perspective begin in our cultural history? How can I work to bridge this gap?

Moon goes on to conflate Rooney's comments, clearly aimed at fundies, with criticism of all Christians. He reminds us that people like Galileo, Abraham Lincoln, and Mother Theresa were Christians.
Not according to fundies, they weren't. Galileo and the almost-sainted Theresa were Catholic. (And Galileo had his problems with the Catholic Church, as I recall.) Lincoln was a deeply religious man, but
Lincoln never joined a church nor ever made a clear profession of standard Christian beliefs. While he read the Bible in the White House, he was not in the habit of saying grace before meals. Lincoln's friend Jesse Fell noted that the president "seldom communicated to anyone his views" on religion, and he went on to suggest that those views were not orthodox: "on the innate depravity of man, the character and office of the great head of the Church, the Atonement, the infallibility of the written revelation, the performance of miracles, the nature and design of . . . future rewards and punishments . . . and many other subjects, he held opinions utterly at variance with what are usually taught in the church." [Link]
He didn't believe written revelation was infallible? Then Lincoln wasn't a "real Christian," either.
Moon concludes,

Oddly enough, we believe in the deity of Jesus Christ and the literal translation of the Bible. We also believe in the necessity of the separation of church and state, know that Jesus would not be a Republican nor claim allegiance to any earthly organization, do not hate Jews, and do not hate gays and lesbians. Lastly, we do not want to establish a Christian kingdom, since the only one we should have our eyes on is the eternal kingdom.

That's fine, son. Nobody's complaining about you. We're complaining about fundies. Andy Rooney was criticizing fundies. Not you. Not Christians. Two different critters.

Although fundies consider themselves to be the only "real Christians," the argument can be made they are not Christians at all. Now, I am not the one to make that argument. I took myself out of the "Christian" category several years ago, and I lack a flaming desire to lead Christianity to a new reformation. Generally, if somebody wants to call himself a "Christian," whatever his beliefs, it's OK by me. None of my business. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my arm, as Thomas Jefferson said.

Thomas Jefferson wasn't a "real Christian," either, by the way.

But in my opinion fundamentalism is more of a social/cultural movement that infects and corrupts religion, rather than religion itself. In all it's forms its an unholy alliance of anti-modernism and nationalism with religion.

I realize most people don't make this distinction, including fundies. Of late I've noticed people using the terms evangelical and fundamentalist as synonyms, which adds to the confusion. A very broad swatch of Protestantism considers itself to be evangelical.  This article by a divinity professor at Duke University explains American evanglicalism pretty well. "Their evangelicalism had deep roots in English Puritanism or in the Wesleyan revival of the 18th century," he writes. "Evangelicalism now covers a broad spectrum of religious belief and practice from the fundamentalist fringe to socially (though not theologically) liberal activists." 

Note the distinction about the "fundamentalist fringe." That's about right. They are an extremist fringe group very much out of line with most other forms of Christianity in America. People like Bernard Moon (and our recent troll, lex) need to get that through their heads. Because if the fundies get enough power they're not going to stop with oppressing the liberals and atheists and whatnot. They'll be oppressing everyone who's not a "real Christian" also, and that includes Bernard Moon and lex.

Right now the fundies are trying to take over the "evangelical" category so that they can define evangelical in a way that leaves out everyone who is not a fundie. As noted on The Mahablog a couple of weeks ago, in "Framing Religion,"

There is a struggle going on about what to call the right-wing conservative Christian fundie/evangelical whackjobs for Jesus who support George W. Bush.
Timothy Noah writes in Slate that they don't want to be called the "Christian right" because they've gotten it in their heads that's a pejorative. ABC News seems to have adopted "evangelical Christians" as the more correct term for this group. ...
Now, the problem with calling this little group we're talking about "evangelical Christians" is that there are, or at least used to be, people who call themselves evangelical Christians who don't fit the political mold. The words evangelical and fundamentalist, these days used as synomyms, have different historic origins and in the past defined two different subsets of Christianity. As Timothy Noah points out in the article linked above, there used to be liberal evangelical Christians. Part of me says that ceding the word evangelical to the whackjobs is just one more brick knocked out of the foundation of civilization. Fundies is good enough for 'em, I say.

If we continue on our current trajectory, some fine morning Bernard Moon will wake up and find out he's no longer an evangelical. That blanket will have been yanked off him as he slept. Then he'll have to decide whether to be assimilated by the fundie collective or remain free, and if he chooses the latter he'll find himself losing patriot and citizen eventually. He won't even be a "real Christian."

11:31 am | link

Turkey Soup
Bush aides, who have been debating what parts of his legislative package to send to Capitol Hill first, will start with measures to restrict medical malpractice claims and other lawsuits. Bush will then try to advance his initiative on Social Security, after which will come proposed changes in the tax laws. In the next month or two, Bush plans to name a commission to make recommendations on the tax code that could eliminate some loopholes and even replace the income tax with a sales tax or value-added tax.
I'm no economist, but wouldn't adding more taxes to the price of goods and services be kinda bad for business?
With the three Cabinet replacements Bush has announced so far for his second term, he kept his circle tight by dispatching White House staff members to take over the State, Justice and Education departments. Aides said many other such moves will be announced, because Bush and senior adviser Karl Rove are determined to "implant their DNA throughout the government," as one official put it.  
Sounds like a mass rape.
9:25 am | link

monday, november 29, 2004

Turkey Casserole
I have a new post up at The American Street. If you read it, you'll notice I couldn't think of much new to write about.
I want to follow up on some old ideas. First, I do plan to go ahead with Radio Free Heartland. I hope to launch it early next year. I need some time to set up a web page and also to look into whatever tax laws I might have to deal with whenever I start accepting donations.
Second, a couple of you have asked about the blue bracelets. As I said earlier, it's an intimidating project because there's a considerable initial investment. So I'm still thinking.
11:54 am | link

sunday, november 28, 2004

Rainy Sunday
There's no end of funky stuff to be found at the Library of Congress web site. The poster at left is from World War I. Seems appropriate for the season. 
The best thing I've found in the papers today is Michael Kinsley's rant on values in the Washington Post. It's brilliant, so don't miss it.
The Observer reports that faith-based science is being exported to Britain. A new British "think tank" wants you to know that global warming will be good for you.
Howard Fineman has an article on Karl Rove in Newsweek that is worth a read, although it only scratches the surface, and, well, it's Fineman.
Eleanor Clift asks: Can Howard Dean save the Democrats? Sounds good to me.
11:12 am | 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


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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