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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Thursday, 5 May 2005

Topic: God and US

An Anniversary: Has nothing changed?

Tuesday in Media Notes you would find a discussion of the Kansas Board of Education’s six days of courtroom-style hearings that began today, Thursday, in the capitol, Topeka. More than two dozen witnesses have begun testimony and will be subject to cross-examination, with the majority expected to argue against teaching evolution. The item also mentioned the old movie about the Scopes Trial, Inherit the Wind (Stanley Kramer, 1960) – and provided a shot of the promotional poster for the film.

Lorraine Berry over at "Culture Kitchen" points out the obvious irony – that today is the eightieth anniversary of the opening of the Scopes Trail.


And presumably violating all sorts of copyright law, she posts in full an article from 1925 by Joseph Wood Krutch about the Scopes Trial - Tennessee's Dilemma. I also have appended that.

Over at "Balloon Juice" you can find today’s commentary under the heading EVOLUTION VS. INTELLIGENT DESIGN -
Bob Novak, on [CNN] Crossfire:

Why don't we teach evolution and intelligent design and let students figure it out on their own?

The response from an unknown God-hating scientist:

Fine. Why don't we teach students the South won the civil war and let them figure it out on their own? Why don't we teach students that the moon is made of green cheese and let the students figure it out on their own.

Meanwhile, in bizarro land, Terry Jeffrey is advocating that belief in objective truth requires that you believe in intelligent design. This would make a great SNL skit, except you can't parody these guys.

From the new evolution trials in Kansas [Associated Press report]:

Charles Thaxton, who lives near Atlanta but is a visiting assistant professor of chemistry at the Charles University in the Czech Republic, also presented another key criticism of evolution. He testified that there's no evidence that life formed from a primordial soup.

Irigonegaray asked Thaxton whether he accepted the theory that humans and apes had a common ancestor.

"Personally, I do not," he said. "I'm not an expert on this. I don't study this."

… At some point, people are going to recognize that faith is not a very useful building block for a logical syllogism or a good foundation for scientific inquiry. A belief in evolution does not preclude faith in God. On the other hand, teaching creationism does do damage to science.
There is a whole lot else out there too.

But Krutch (1893–1970) is still good. And he was from Knoxville, Tennessee himself.

Who was he? Why he was a damned pantheist!
Joseph Wood Krutch wore many literary hats. As one of the 20th century’s leading men of letters, the drama critic, university teacher, biographer, and magazine columnist authored several thousand essays and wrote or edited thirty-five books. An early work entitled The Modern Temper (1929) propelled him to fame. The book exuded disillusionment and despair. Krutch described how science replaced religious certainties with rational skepticism, leaving man in a meaningless world. But Krutch later discovered profound meaning in Nature. He became a celebrated nature writer and perhaps the first contemporary conservationists to explicitly embrace Pantheism. …
Ah ha! Well, he also wrote biographies – Poe, and Samuel Johnson. He taught at Columbia.

Here is what he wrote in 1925. The emphases are mine.
Tennessee's Dilemma
Joseph Wood Krutch, The Nation, from the July 22, 1925 issue

Dayton, July 12 –

Those who say that nothing of importance can be decided at Dayton have, at first glance, reason on their side. Even in Rhea County tadpoles will still lose their tails whatever may happen to Mr. Scopes, and, it is to be hoped, the human organism will continue in a similarly unperturbed fashion its evolution toward whatever state Nature has in mind for it. It is now perfectly evident that the question of the constitutionality of the Tennessee law, the only tangible legal issue involved, will not be the chief one discussed, and it might thus appear that the whole discussion threatens to become diffusely inconclusive.

No sooner had Clarence Darrow begun his cross-examination of prospective jurors than it became clear that he proposed to prove that the teaching of the defendant was not irreconcilable with a sufficiently liberal interpretation of the Bible, and hence was not a violation of the law, which specifically forbids only those theories which deny the account in Genesis. The theoretical position of the Bible as final authority upon scientific questions will thus not be questioned, and the right of the State legislature to control the teaching of professors will be left similarly unchallenged.

But the real problem raised is not legal but sociological. No verdict of the jury and no injunction of the Supreme Court can change the fact that the trial is a symptom of the vast gulf which lies between two halves of our population, and that the real question to be settled is the question of how this gulf may be bridged. In the centers of population men have gone on assuming certain bodies of knowledge and certain points of view without realizing that they were living in a different world from that inhabited by a considerable portion of their fellow-citizens, and they have been unconscious of the danger which threatened them at the inevitable moment when the two worlds should come in conflict. In Tennessee the moment has arrived and a single battle will no more settle it than the World War settled the questions from which it arose.

Of the reality of the danger there can be no question. The zeal of the fundamentalists has been enormously quickened by an anticipatory taste of triumph, and they will push any victory they may gain to the fullest possible extent. Already one State legislator has announced his intention of "putting teeth" in the present law by making the penalty for its violation a prison sentence instead of a fine, and various extensions of the principle of State interference with teaching may be confidently predicted. Members of the D. A. R. will, sooner or later, seek to forbid in the schools any historical facts which tend to reflect upon the character or motives of Revolutionary heroes; conservative economists and sociologists will certainly follow their lead; and, unless the movement is definitely checked, the next twenty-five years will see the State schools and universities so shackled with legislation as to make them utterly worthless as institutions for education. The control of learning will pass into the hands of the uneducated, and youth will leave the schools more ignorant than when it entered them.

Doubtless Tennessee is in a condition not much worse than that of the majority of the States in the Union. Her folly consists chiefly in the fact that she has allowed the situation to get out of hand by her cowardly refusal to deal with it as it arose. Neither she nor any other State has been able adequately to educate her citizens - and for that fact she is not to blame, since the task is beyond her financial or other strength. But when people cannot be educated they must be led, and it is in leadership that Tennessee has failed.

Left undisturbed, the rural population would have bothered itself very little over the teachings of the school or the college, since it has that respect for learning natural to all uneducated communities. A few years ago, however, it became evident that it would not be thus undisturbed, for various propagandists of the Bryan school came among it to declaim against what one of the agitators now in Dayton picturesquely calls "Hell in the high schools." Dayton was made aware of a question at issue, it looked for leaders, and it found them on one side alone. Fundamentalists were eager and zealous; educators were at best timid and non-committal, at worst hypocritically evasive. Under the circumstances, Dayton cannot be blamed if she chose to follow those who knew what they stood for.

Even at that very late moment when the anti-evolution bill was introduced into the legislature a little courage might have saved the day. Had the president of the State University gone with his faculty to Nashville, had the editors of the daily papers said what they thought, and had, in general, the enlightened members of the community shown one-half the decision manifest by the other side they might very well have won. Instead they lay low. They declined the challenge; they refused to make any effort to lead; they left their opponents in undisputed possession of the field. Dayton was reasonable to conclude, as undoubtedly it has concluded, that nine-tenths of Tennessee, the only world it knows, is with it and Bryan. It does not even know that the university which it respects is against it, and it is following a sound instinct. It is right to have no great confidence in scientists and educators who ask for nothing except its money. If the time ever comes when they show a disposition to tell what they believe it may possibly listen to them.

In the courtroom at Dayton and in the newspaper reports of the proceedings there Tennessee will be reminded of the situation into which she has drifted, and the ultimate result of the trial will depend upon whether or not she heeds the reminder. Neither John R. Neal, the only native prominently represented upon the defense, nor Messrs. Darrow, Hays, and Malone, his associates, can do much for her if she will do nothing for herself. They may win their case or they may lose it, but an ignorant population, almost wholly without leaders, will remain.
Ah hell – reprint this today and byline it Topeka.

Posted by Alan at 20:03 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: The Media

Celebrity trials are the opiate of the masses?

There has not been much of anything in these pages regarding the Michael Jackson trial in these pages. The last real entry was this in Just Above Sunset long ago – November 23, 2003: Michael Jackson, Gay Marriage? - and has this business been going on that long?

As I said then -
I find the fellow repulsive and never much liked his music. When I saw his mug shot on a news show all I could think of was that he had been trying too hard, for too many years, to look like Nicole Kidman. Why? And how will this all come out?

… As for me, I'd rather not know how this comes out. Yes, there are issues here. Can wealth, fame and celebrity free him in spite of what he has become and what he may have done? Yeah, yeah. Perhaps so. They usually do, don't they?

But the whole business is not so much fascinating to some of us as it is... well... distasteful. Something you turn away from, or at least politely ignore. Like a guest at a formal party mistakenly making a really off-color remark, or your host inadvertently breaking wind - best to be polite and ignore it.

The law will run its course. Polite, well-mannered people won't bother much with this business. And some sort of justice will probably be done. Decent people will trust that this will matter will be settled in court.
But this week things seem to be coming to a head – and you can add your own bad jokes here regarding that metaphor.

Bob Patterson, our Just Above Sunset columnist, speculates anyway -
The prosecution has rested in the Jackson trial.

It would be a wild, bold, and dangerous move for the defense to rest without calling one single witness, but it would indicate that they thought the prosecution didn't make their case at all.

I doubt they will really do that but I keep getting a feeling that it might happen that way.
Who cares?

Andrew Sullivan puts it well here -
I'd say it's pretty obvious that Michael Jackson will be found 'not guilty' at this point, which is not, of course, the same as innocent. Making a jury decision on this horrendously prosecuted case doesn't strike me as that hard. But when I ask myself what I think he may actually have done, I just don't know. I'm horrified by any sexual exploitation - even of a minimal kind - of a child. But every time I try and think of the minutiae of the Jackson case, I just feel nauseated and mentally change the subject. One thing is obvious: Jackson is psychologically damaged in ways I cannot even begin to understand.
Is there anything more to say?

Our high-powered Wall Street attorney adds this from his offices high over lower Manhattan -
Perhaps Mr. Jackson's attorneys could call Mr. Jackson to the stand where he could morph into some creature more scary than Mr. Jackson himself, moon dance, grab his crotch and then sit back down.

Other than that, there isn't much more to be said by either side.

Meanwhile, the war rages on in Iraq, the economy is not in good shape and social security may soon become a thing of the past, but nobody is listening. Seems that news coverage is not what it out to be, but at least it sells add space.
So why is the country concerned with Michael Jackson at all?

Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, explains -
In my never-ending role as resident "media apologist" (aka "media whore"), let me first refer you to Karen Hughes' line, recently alluded to here, suggesting that the Republicans don't getting punished by voters for whatever the hell they do. [Editor’s Note – See The Limits of Spin from last week’s issue of Just Above Sunset for a discussion of that.]

The truth is, voters would have to hide themselves in sound-proof closets for months on end not to have heard anything in the media about Tom Delay's adventures (including his fussing with the Ethics Committee), the Senate Republicans trying to slam-dunk Bush's judge choices, the economy not looking too great, the war in Iraq not being a bed of posies, not to mention rising CO2 levels and failure to secure nucular [sic – ha, ha] material in the former USSR, nor that Bush is still pushing hard with his whacky Social Security ideas (which, I theorize, is a bigger distraction for those who do care about what's really going on the world than if we were to hear that the runaway bride was actually running off in hopes of being the mother of Michael Jackson's children.)

The real reason, assuming the Republicans really DON'T end up paying a price for all these things, is not that the news media hasn't covered all these things, but rather that too many Americans are so cynical, they really don't give a flying fart about all that "Washington politics" stuff. Assuming the media was inclined to beat the public over the head with "responsible" stories -- and after all their runaway coverage of the "runaway bride," I'm pretty sure they're not -- but even if they were, they would be almost totally ignored -- except, of course, by the likes of you and me. And the Republicans, whether or not you can call them "smart," are smart enough to realize this and play with it.
Celebrity trials are the opiate of the masses? Something like that.

Such stuff is far less distressing than the political news – news of those things that can actually be devastating to all of our lives, leave us in poverty, or in jail, or dead.

Our high-powered Wall Street attorney from his offices high over lower Manhattan suggested Jackson’s attorneys could call the guy to the stand where he could morph into some creature more scary than Jackson himself, moon dance, grab his crotch and then sit back down.

Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, adds -
After you see this [click on the link shown in the middle of the page and open, or download and open] - then try to tell me honestly there IS any creature more scary than Jackson himself. [Click here for slightly less spooky version.]
Check it out. Disturbing. Unsettling. Creepy.

So no more of Michael Jackson here. He?s not important, no matter how strange he is.

And considering that whole business is not only distasteful, voyeuristic consideration of such matters borders on being irresponsible.


On the matter of civic irresponsibility, you might want to glance at these two items from the Columbia Journalism Review.

Runaway Network Exec Kidnaps News from May 2 ? a discussion of CNN and their massive coverage of the ?runaway bride? story. And Day Four of the Story That Wasn?t, a follow-up the next day.

Why was CNN spending so much of its time on this story?

Is this the same CNN that Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, helped found many years ago?

Is this news that matters?

Oh well. CNN is not alone in this.

Posted by Alan at 14:46 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 5 May 2005 19:07 PDT home

Wednesday, 4 May 2005

Topic: World View

Iran: Nuclear Ambitions, Automotive Ambitions

From United Press International (via WHAM in Rochester, New York) this bit of bad news -
United Nations inspectors have told the BBC Iran may be developing nuclear weapons.

In a documentary to be broadcast Tuesday night, U.N. Inspector Chris Charlier said the dismantling of a nuclear facility at Natanz raised suspicions the Iranians were trying to hide their nuclear activities.

"It was really, I believe, to conceal the program and their activities," he said. "And maybe there are still other things that they are doing and we couldn't find. And that's why we are getting suspicious, after 20 years of working with them, it takes time to repair confidence."

Washington is adamant Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons and wants to refer it to the U.N. Security Council. Britain, France and Germany persuaded Tehran to freeze its nuclear activity in November but senior Iranian officials have said some enrichment activities will soon resume at a uranium conversion plant near Isfahan.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said if Iran went ahead with the threat it could lead to referral to the Security Council.
That’s as of Wednesday, May 04, 2005.

Oh, there are bad times coming.

Then we find
this from Daniel Gross in SLATE (also Wednesday, May 04, 2005) - "Britain may soon sell one of its most celebrated automakers to a charter member of the Axis of Evil. That little MG you've been coveting may soon be made in Iran, because it looks as if Iran will end up with the remnants of MG Rover, the last independent British auto manufacturer."

Say what?

Daniel Gross gives us background, via everyone’s favorite cooperative encyclopedia, Wikipedia -
MG Rover is based in Birmingham, where the Austin auto company was founded in 1905. In 1968, it merged with several other brands to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation, which was nationalized in 1975. Later redubbed the Rover Group, it was privatized and sold to BMW. In 2000, a boom year for SUVs, BMW sold the Land Rover business to Ford. Then it gave away the rest of the company—the MG division (sporty coupes) and Rover division (classy sedans)—to a group of British investors for essentially nothing. Which is precisely what they proceeded to make it worth.

MG Rover went into "administration"—a kind of bankruptcy—on April 8. A week later, with efforts to find an immediate buyer or government funding having failed, the company announced it would start laying off its 5,000 workers. This loss of jobs—plus another 15,000 lost at suppliers—came at a remarkably inopportune time for Tony Blair's Labor party.

MG Rover is still looking for buyers, and it claims to have received some 200 inquiries. But firm offers from respectable investors have been slow to materialize. In fact, the only serious noises are coming from Iran. Iran is the biggest auto producer in the Middle East. In the 1970s, it acquired the manufacturing rights to Britain's Hillman Hunter and has been producing its Paykan cars in volume. According to an article in the Guardian, "Two million of the five million cars on Iran's roads are Paykans and sales were still 150,000 a year." Ironically, the Paykans are being phased out because "a model once regarded by Iranians as the epitome of British cool and manufacturing quality has been rendered obsolete by tougher environmental standards and the demands of Iran's younger generation for greater comfort and sophistication."

History is repeating itself. On April 26, the Financial Times reported that "Iran is considering a rescue of MG Rover" and might be willing to continue production in Birmingham. Sounding more like Lee Iacocca than Ayatollah Khamanei, Iran's Minister of Industries and Mines Eshaq Jahangiri told Reuters, "We reckon our auto industry is capable of reforming a troubled European carmaker and churning out a car to world markets under the same brand."
One hardly knows what to say.

Iran's younger generation has a yen for greater comfort and sophistication, and they’re turning to these machines? Your editor, whose first automobile was a very used Triumph TR-4 (the one with solid read axle and leaf springs, not the TR-4A with the swing axle and independent rear suspension) suggests these Iranian folks keep working on the nukes. Forget the cars. As for manufacturing quality, well, all of us car nuts have one warning for them: Lucas electrical systems.

What are these people thinking?

Gross then points to this from May 2 in the Financial Times of London, the London in the UK, not the one halfway between Detroit and Toronto. It seems Dastaan Industrial Development, an actual Iranian automaker, is seeking to buy several thousand unsold MG Rovers – and they are interested in buying more finished cars and kits. The idea to assumable the kits domestically, in Iran. And if that deal fails, they say they would be quite happy to buy the company's currently mothballed assembly lines and relocate them to Iran.

Given all this, perhaps we should not worry about Iran developing nuclear weapons. They like these undependable fourth-rate British cars and want to buy the company and flood that part of the world with sputtering Rovers and often inoperable MG things? What does that tell you about their level of engineering?

Perhaps we should all relax a bit.


A note about Wikipedia, that cooperative encyclopedia. Crispin Sartwell teaches political philosophy at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (a good school!) and in the May 4 Los Angeles Times explains what that is about -
"Wiki" is the Hawaiian word for quick, and it refers to a website that can be updated easily by anyone from any Web browser. The first wiki armature was developed in 1995, and Wikipedia — the brainchild of one Jimmy Wales — was founded in 2001. Under Wales' brilliant conception, anyone can go into Wikipedia ( and create a new article or edit an old one: It is entirely accessible and entirely alterable.

This is anarchy, of course, and completely antithetical to the encyclopedic tradition, which has emphasized a kind of solemn definitiveness and authority. Britannica and Encarta, for instance, not only employ experts to write their articles but subject everything they publish to a rigorous review process. At Wikipedia, you (or any old maniac) can march right onto the "nuclear fusion" page and add your thoughts.

But as Wikipedia says about itself, the point is not that it's hard to make mistakes but that it's easy to correct them. Because thousands of people — ordinary, unpaid, outside participants — monitor and edit Wikipedia, errors and vandalism are often corrected in seconds. One feature of the site is a list of recently updated pages, so that one can keep track of changes. One can even revert to a previous version of an article if mistaken or malevolent parties have messed it up.
Cool, huh?


And a note on WHAM in Rochester, New York. They also report this along with the Iran article –
Salvia - A Legal Hallucinogenic Herb

Rochester, NY - There's a new way teenagers are getting high and so far, it's perfectly legal. People are experimenting with an herb called salvia divinorum. It’s a type of sage from Mexico that can cause hallucinations when smoked or chewed. …
Does salvia divinorum also grow in Iran? That might explain the MG Rover stuff.

Riders of the Purple Sage...

Posted by Alan at 20:13 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: The Culture

On Writing: The often repeated charge that Americans lack a sense of irony…

Reading automotive reviews seems to be a guy thing – so distaff readers can tune out now. But some of the liveliest writing can be found in such things. This was first discussed in the pages well over a year ago - February 23, 2004: What would Roland Barthes drive? - a discussion of an amazing Los Angeles Times column by Dan Neil.

Neil, then, on pickup trucks vis a vis Roland Barthes – regarding America's love of snazzy pickups in spite of the obvious lack of need for such things -
Like the soft-handed Parisians who bought up Millet's peasant paintings, pickup poseurs would find rural virtue a different thing entirely if they spent a day in the fields.

Barthes loved to flog the petite bourgeoisie with their own illusions.

And here - April 11, 2004: Fun With Words - you will find a note and some comment that a few days earlier the Los Angeles Times won five Pulitzer Prizes - the second most ever won by a newspaper in a single year, for coverage that included wildfires, wars and Wal-Mart. And Dan Neil won the Pulitzer for criticism then.

Since that time his Wednesday Los Angeles Times reviews continue to amuse – and recently (April 27, 2005) he presented an evaluation of the new Mercedes SLK in verse form - “April marks the 10th annual observance of National Poetry Month, established by the Academy of American Poets to increase the visibility, presence and accessibility of poetry in our culture. In that spirit, Dan Neil has written his weekly column in verse.”

It wasn’t very good – but since I had a relatively bad experience with the older model SLK (five years of ever-increasing odd electrical problems) – perhaps I am not the one to judge.

Neil now also writes a regular column for the Times Sunday magazine – “800 Words” – on general culture, and often on the culture of Southern California, such as it is. Recommended? You might call up Prize Bull from April 24 this year – a discussion of Harry Frankfurt's book "On Bullshit" that is well beyond clever, being ironically self-referential on many, many levels. But registration is required, or maybe you even have to be a paid-up Times subscriber, so perhaps just trust me on that.

But Neil is not alone. I came across this in The Independent (UK) – at it is amusing. There one Michael Booth has a road test of the new Corvette C6 Coupe.

See Stars and go-faster stripes
Michael Booth discovers that beneath the Corvette's new European-friendly curves lurks a slab of unreconstructed American muscle
01 May 2005 - The Independent (UK)

Two thirds of the way in you will find this -
The often repeated charge that Americans lack a sense of irony is, of course, soundly refuted by both their sitcoms and the career of their current president, but I still can't tell whether the Corvette is for real or a self-referential cultural parody. Certainly in a European context it is a preposterous overstatement. After all, this revered piece of American cultural iconography has a 6-litre, 400bhp V8 engine that General Motors still insists on calling a "small block". It also boasts an optional fighter jet-style head-up display which projects read-outs for speed and G-force (no, really) above the bonnet in an eerie glow - eat your hearts out Maverick and Goose. Later, I notice a sticker that says, "Warning: children under 12 can be killed by the air bag. The back seat is the safest place for children." The Corvette, of course, has no back seat. Even more curiously - given the current sate of international relations - this is translated into only one other language: French.

So, either the Corvette is a post-ironic parody by the South Park team, or it really is a car to drive, as PJ O'Rourke's immortal phrase has it, "fast while on drugs while getting your wing-wang squeezed and not spill your drink."
Ah, as a sub-genre of artful writing – the popular review of new cars – there is much vigorous writing to be discovered here.

Posted by Alan at 14:54 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Tuesday, 3 May 2005

Topic: God and US

On Disciplining Children, God?s Vengeance, and Keeping Jews and Muslims Contained

The character Ursus speaking in Victor Hugo's "L'Homme qui rit" – Vous pouvez croire en Dieu de deux facons, ou comme la soif croit a l'orange, ou comme l'ane croit au fouet.

Roughly - You can believe in God in two ways, like thirst thinks about an orange, or like the donkey thinks about the whip.

And we know how American evangelicals think.

See this -
And while we’re in the business of being pissed off, how about those fun folks at Disney/ABC? Who, last year, wouldn’t run ads from the mainstream Protestant denomination the United Church of Christ, because their ads referred to the church’s welcoming attitude toward homosexuals. And who, this year, are happy to run ads from James Dobson’s far-right extremist Focus on the Family group promoting their “Focus on the Child” program built around Dobson’s bestseller Dare to Discipline.
As Digby over at Hullabaloo summarizes -
It seems [James Dobson] thinks of children as animals and he believes that animals and children should be beaten. He believes that nine month old babies should be switched on the bare legs. He believes they should be pinched hard, on the neck, so it will hurt. He believes in things that could get parents arrested in many states in the union. Yet his program is considered to be more wholesome and less controversial than a church that allows gays to be a member.
Well, God slaughters folks, is vengeful, does some evil, defiles, destroys and creates woes, when he’s not busy - Exodus 32:14, Numbers 31:1-18, Deuteronomy 2:30,34, 7:2,16, 20:10-20, 1 Samuel 6:19, Job 42:11, Isaiah 45:7, Jeremiah 18:5,8,11, 26:3,13,19, 42:10-11, Lamentations 3:38, Ezekiel 6:12-13, 20:25-26, Amos 3:16, Nahum 1:2, Jonah 3:10 – and so on and so forth.

And as God is father to mankind, so is any worldly father to his own family. My God is a vengeful God, whose "mission is to spread, not peace, but division." - Matthew 11

Dobson and his kind are working on it.

This is going to be an interesting theocracy.


As noted in the pages here Christianity is now only for the medievalists – as much as the National Council of Churches protests and the United Church of Christ kicks and screams (in a loving way). Heck, even the Unitarians are learning that what they have isn’t a REAL religion. And here – “A state religion? It would not be the Unitarians.”

Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta –
Yes! What a great compromise! Tell the Frist Brigade the good news, that (a) we, the secular left, have finally agreed to allow a theocracy ... but then the bad news is, (b) the state religion has to be the Unitarian Universalist Church!

So we pause just long enough to watch them shit bricks, then we say we were just kidding and make a speedy exit, narrowly escaping arrest by the Capitol Police.
Hey, it could happen.


Oh yes, this summary of the comments of another evangelical leader from a fellow in Portland Maine ?
Much has already been written on the whoppers told by the Rrrrrrreverend Pat Robertson during his interview on 'This Week with George Stephapalooza.' Like federal judges being a bigger threat to America than al Qaeda or Nazi Germany. Or Muslim-Americans not being worthy as judges or high-level politicians in this country. Or Bill Frist not having a future at 16 Pennsylvania Avenue. Okay, so we'll give him half a point for that last one.

But Cheers and Jeers caught Robertson with his pants on fire over a comment that didn't get much attention at all. When asked why God allows bad things to happen to huge numbers of people -- specifically, the tsunami that hit Asia in December -- Robertson batted it aside, saying, "The reason for that tsunami was the shifting of tectonic plates in the Indian Ocean. I don't think [God] changes the magma in volcanoes and I don't think he changes the wind currents to bring about hurricanes. So, I don't attribute that to God..."

Which got us to thinking about this little comment he made about God's wrath on June 6, 1998: "I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those [rainbow] flags in God's face if I were you... But a condition like [Gay Day at Disney World] will bring about the destruction of your nation. It'll bring about... earthquakes, tornadoesa meteor."

But never a tsunami. That would be silly.
Geez, if we?re going to have a theocracy, can?t we have one the keeps things straight?

Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, adds this comment -
I find the Disney part of that equation a bit of a turnabout, since just a few years ago, the company famously stood up a Baptist boycott, I think for allowing gays to schedule meetups in their theme parks. Analysis at the time was that Eisner felt he needed to keep his animators happy, many of whom were gay.

Of course, what with Pixar having pushed out the old time hand-drawn Disney animation in recent years, the classic animators have been squeezed out of a job. Then again, as has Eisner himself, I guess.
Well, for whatever reason, Mike did the right thing.

But wait! There?s more!

Here University of Michigan Middle-East expert, professor Juan Cole, has some words about Pat Robertson and the current debate regarding religion and judges.

His bilious venomous lips? Say what?
John Aravosis argues that Pat Robertson should be a political pariah after his remarks on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that Muslim Americans are not fit to serve in the US cabinet. It is actually much worse than that. Robertson also implied that Jews are unfit to serve on the Supreme Court because some of them defend the ACLU, which he equates with defending Communism. The anti-Jewish bigotry among some evangelicals that codes Jews as a "cultural elite" promoting non-Christian values just drips from his words. I give the relevant parts of the interview below.

? Robertson knows nothing about the Koran or Islam. He can cite some extremist medieval jurist such as Ibn Taymiyyah, but who couldn't come up with extreme statements by medieval Christian leaders? The Christians did give us the Inquisition, after all, not to mention the Crusades. As for Islam, here is what Koran 5:82 says about Christian-Muslim relations, after it describes tensions with pagans and Jews: "You will certainly find that the nearest in love to those who believe [the Muslims] are those who say: 'We are Christians.' This is because there are priests and monks among them and because they do not behave proudly." Somehow that one never gets quoted. "Nearest in love" is something we need to get back to.

American Muslims are Americans. They have all the same rights and duties as all other Americans. Period. Likewise Jewish Americans. Robertson's religious bigotry flies directly in the face of Thomas Jefferson's thinking on religious liberty, which he dares sully by passing it through his bilious venomous lips.
A bunch of citations from Jefferson follow, and a bit from John Locke?s ?Letter on Toleration? ? and then Cole quotes from THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (10:30 AM ET) ? ABC - May 1, 2005 Sunday ?

Well, you know, Thomas Jefferson, who was the author of the Declaration of Independence said he wouldn't have any atheists in his cabinet because atheists wouldn't swear an oath to God. That was Jefferson and we have never had any Muslims in the cabinet. I didn't say serve in government. I said in my cabinet if I were elected president, and I think a president has a right to take people who share his point of view, and I would think that would be ...

? Right now, I think people who feel that there should be a jihad against America, read what the Islamic people say. They divide the world into two spheres, Dar al Islam Dar al Harb. The Dar al Islam are those who've submitted to Islam, Dar al Harb are those who are in the land of war and they have said in the Koran there's a war against all the infidels. So do you want somebody like that sitting as a judge? I wouldn't.
Ah, you?d want a Crusader from the tenth century? It?s a thought.

And then there is this on those evil Jews now wearing black robes in Washington -
Justice Ginsburg served as a general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU. That was founded, as you probably know, by about three members of the Communist Internationale. Their leader, Baldwin, said that he wanted to be a Communist and wanted to make this ... to make America a workers' state, breed Communists.

? she was the general counsel for this organization whose purpose right now is to rid religion from the public square. That's they are announced. We've Nadine Strasser down here to our university in a debate. She's a very pleasant lady but that's what she said was her avowed goal, to take all religion from the public square. That's their initiative and Justice Ginsburg served as their general counsel, so ...
So what? Unfit for the bench, then? Seems so.

This gets more interesting every day.

Posted by Alan at 20:29 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 4 May 2005 09:01 PDT home

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