Friday, December 24, 2010

Natural Law, Natural Religion

 Commentary by walford

"Natural Law" is a concept that developed under the Enlightenment. It essentially means that we are all born free and that the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect our freedoms. That means it should protect us from criminals..., foreign invaders and to settle disputes. It means that we can do anything so long as it does not adversely affect anyone else [hence pollution would still be illegal and the existing laws could be even more strict].

It does not mean that government should provide for us or coerce us to conform to an arbitrarily defined Utopian ideal designed by a self-appointed elite.

Natural Religion is that which is based upon the Laws of Nature, which are to be discovered, not made by Man. The Holy Scriptures are written in how the Divine operates directly rather than in the writings of man. Penalty and reward issue from the consequences of our decisions -- collectively and individually. If one puts his hand in a fire, he burns. If we engage in behaviors that create an environment that would spread disease, that tribe with be wiped out. If our government implements an economic system based upon faulty logic, the system will collapse.

In Natural Law and Natural Religion, the standards are understood as objective -- externally generated. Under Utopian ideology and dogmatic religion, the standards are subjective -- internally generated. Under those ideologies, rather than learning of the world and adapting, the object is to force others to conform to one's own perspective because we believe we each generate our own reality. The content of other people's minds is thus a potential threat as contrary thoughts can potentially destroy the arbitrary ideal.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Ongoing Spiritual Journey

By walford

Like most of my contemporaries, I thought that the religions deemed acceptable by our culture defined all for religion. There was no connection with the Divine, rather what was important was that you agreed with other people's perspective and accepted their mythology.

My skeptical mind could not accept that, so I thought that I was an atheist. But at the same time, I held a great reverence for life. The more I studied in the life and physical sciences, the more I appreciated. Many scientists can be found expressing themselves in reverential tones about the objects of their research – and for good reason.

None of our technology can come close to what enables the simplest of living things. The electro-chemical processes that take place on the surface of a cell membrane are nothing short of phenomenal. Competition seems to be an essential part of life; even lifeless chemicals compete with each other for space. It seems that the essence of the struggle for life is which strands of genetic code will survive into the next generations.

The delicate balances that permit life on this planet, such as the orbit’s size and shape, the Earth’s tilt, speed of rotation, the magnetic field, etc. are astounding in their precision. There have been a number of what seems like interventions when the “reset button” on life has been pushed, such as the mass-extinctions that took place at the beginning and at the end of the Mesozoic Era. It’s almost as if that particular paradigm had been exhausted in potential and needed to be swept away for the next stage of development.

I found that science wasn’t enough to grasp these phenomena, so I researched religion. Sometimes I sat in on observances by those who would allow it. Many of them were followed by testimonials from the practitioners, saying that one didn’t need to understand why things worked, just BELIEVE and so many good things would happen. That wasn’t good enough.

Besides, I saw the danger of cults who would invest themselves with Divine sanction, which permitted them to command other people to suit their needs and do great evil.

But my research also yielded unmistakable evidence that, as our species spread throughout the planet, people developed religion independently of each other. [I know of no atheistic tribe leaving evidence of itself.] There were certain Sacred images they had in common, such as a mother cradling her infant child. A woman was often seen as channeling the Divine as she brought life into the world. The practices of the earliest religions were similar also. They danced and sang around fires. They knelt upon the Earth, raised their faces to the sky and gave thanks to that which propitiated life.

Their observances were based upon the phases of the Sun and Moon, because they are vital to life. We seem to have lost that – particularly the reverence for Nature, the appreciation for women and the female aspects of the Divine. Often it has been replaced by a sterile, gloomy, male-dominated system that functions more like an expansionist political ideology than anything else. It could not suffer competition from anything that would put an objective standard above their subjective cult, characterizing that which they aimed to replace as demonic.

So what comes from Nature is evil and what is fabricated by man is good? We can have a Father and cannot have a Mother unless she is lesser-than and subordinate?

Our species started out rare and vulnerable; we were most definitely NOT at the top of the food chain. There were many fits and starts in our development. Most of the experiments failed. We are descended from those who found a way to survive.

As such, there was no room for cults of personality that put the will of certain people above Nature. The successful religions had in common that life is Blessing, there is Order and Justice in the universe, we have a stake in each others’ welfare – and most importantly, in the world we leave behind.

We seem to have forgotten this and do so at our peril. We are no less subject to Nature’s Laws. All our technology has done is make it so the consequences of behaviors that are toxic to life are spread to the general population. We are still not exempt as our entire civilization hurtles toward a significant fork in the road.

Lets us discard our prejudices and emulate our ancient ancestors whom we must thank for our existence today. There is no secular or religious “ism” made by man that can replace the Laws of Nature.

I write this during the time of the year when the tribes of the Northern Hemisphere would be reaping their final harvests. They took the time to remember their forebears, purge bad habits and plant the seeds for the future.

Let us take this time to give thanks for the Blessings of Life by nurturing what brings it and discarding what harms it.

Be Blessed.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Technology and Open Communication Blamed for Suicide

Virtual Homicide, Virtual Suicide
By Dr. Keith Ablow

Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, 18, killed himself Sept. 22 after his roommate Dharun Ravi and his roommate’s friend Molly Wei allegedly taped him - secretly - in an erotic, homosexual encounter in his dorm room and then broadcast the video via Skype.

This "stunt" isn’t just a college prank gone bad. It is evidence of the dehumanizing effects that technology is having on young people. I very much doubt that Ravi and Wei are murderers at heart. The "thrill'' of using a Webcam and Skype and Twitter to playact as producers and directors turned their victim (Clementi) into nothing more than another contestant on a mean-spirited, ill-conceived reality show.

That’s what technology does to people, though. Working from behind a camera and sending images into Cyberspace now removes the human face from the actions of many, many people. The hardware and software of Skype and Facebook and Twitter and many, many other Web standards can be a virus that scrambles the code of the empathy on the hard drives of their souls. They literally turn into the purveyors of entertainment who lose sight of where Web life begins and real life ends...
Commentary by walford

Technology didn't cause this to happen. In the past, the perpetrators could have secretly filmed this with still cameras. Prior to that, they simply could have told people what they saw and the result would have been the same. People have had videos made of themselves doing worse things and didn't commit suicide.

Certainly the irresponsible people who posted the video should be prosecuted for privacy invasion and possibly sued for precipitating this situation, but
ultimately the person who killed himself was entirely responsible for his rash decision.

People like Dr. Ablow apparently are not comfortable with the fact that individuals can instantly publish all kinds of things w/o being filtered by Our Betters in the government or media. A healthy discussion on how to cope with this inevitable phenomenon in a free, technologically advancing society is certainly warranted and desirable.

But let us not cast blame upon an open means of communication and information-sharing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What is Fascism?

Commentary by walford

Collectivism is an Utopian ideology which holds that everything and everybody belongs to a group, usually based in a certain location and is typically put into practice at a national scale. Collectivists believe that everything is produced by society as a whole, rather than the accumulated effort of individuals. Rather than allocating resources based upon effort, innovation, hard work, etc. and determined by supply-and-demand, collectivists believe that resource allocation and compensation should be allocated based upon "need" as determined by the political class. [In practice, resources are allocated based upon political considerations, with the most going to those most politically connected.]

Karl Marx and his ideological descendents developed the roots of modern collectivism, which then were put into practice either with government or private ownership. In both scenarios, the government actually controls property and individuals, ostensibly for the common good.

Socialists believe in collective [viz. government] ownership of the means of production.

Fascists, by contrast, tolerate private property, so long as it serves the State. They view private property as an allowance granted by the government and often refer to take-home pay that is not expropriated by the tax collector as a cost to society as a whole. They firmly believe that the State is the people and the people are the State. Therefore, the more powers the State has, the more empowered are the people. [Modern fascists express this as "we are the government" in response to objections to increased power centralized in the government.]

Rather than being driven by ideology, fascists think that there is a coterie of Our Betters who are somehow endowed with a certain Wisdom that is unassailable by reason and is superior to popular will -- which must often be thwarted if it cannot be manipulated. That's because the masses have been corrupted by the capitalist bourgeois culture and therefore don't know what's for their own good. They hold that everything belongs to the collective, so they often characterize a tax cut as a "bailout" or a "givaway" while taking from one and redistributing to another is regarded as an "entitlement." One is entitled to anything but their own earnings.

Hmm. Any fascists amongst contemporary politicians today?

The racism of the German version of fascism was peculiar to early 20th-century Germany [not Italy], but it should be noted that the National Socialist Worker's Party believed that the Jews were not only genetically inferior, but also were a pathogenic bourgeois capitalist element that was economically exploiting the German people.

Communism and Fascism are two sides of the same statist, collectivist coin. Their modern descendents are elitist and disdain democracy in favor of a cadre of Philosopher Kings to run our lives because we are too stupid/ignorant. The only difference between the medieval Divine Right of Kings and today's collectivists is that the latter holds that leadership should be selected by political pull rather than birth. Ideological heirs to medieval aristocracy, they share the conviction that the general population should be kept poor, ignorant and disenfranchised.

That they characterize themselves as "progressive" is therefore absurd. Their medieval mindset is the very definition of reactionary, because freedom is the most radical idea and the optimal human condition.

They are against anything that empowers individuals and for anything that empowers the government, holding that the only true freedom and justice can come from the State. Their modern ideological heirs are diverse in its particular goals, but is united in the proposition that all solutions involve higher taxes and bigger government.

They distrust private enterprise and hold that competition should only take place in the political arena as a blood-sport. They consider government spending to be "investment" while monies allocated by private concerns to be greed-motivated exploitation. And greed is only defined as economic aspiration, while lust for political power is not something they like to talk about.

This cadre is populated by incorrigibly intolerant True Believers who cannot abide that their conclusions would be subject to question, holding that anyone who disagrees with them are by definition stupid, ill-informed and/or evil.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hate Crimes Against Muslims: Man Bites Dog

Commentary by walford

Man Who Allegedly Attacked Taxi Driver Arraigned On Hate Crime Charges

This is a man-bites-dog story; it is big news because it's so rare.

Yes, a small percentage of practicing Muslims commit acts of terrorism. An even smaller percentage of practitioners of any other religion, spiritual system or non-religion deliberately targets civilians for the purposes of intimidating them to pressure their leaders to change policies to accommodate what is in practice an expansionist political ideology.

Let us consider some Venn Diagrams to create:
  • Proportion of terrorist acts by non-Muslims vs. Muslims.
  • Proportion of how many times a Muslim is attacked for his faith vs. a Muslim attacking someone for HIS faith being characterized as a "hate crime" by the media and prosecuted as such by Western governments.
  • Proportion of Muslims deliberately attacked by other Muslims vs. those perpetrated by non-Muslims.
  • Proportion of responsibility given to Westerners who accidentally kill Muslim non-combatants because terrorists are hiding behind them vs. responsibility cast upon their co-religionists who hide behind them.
  • Proportion of Western media attention paid to Muslims killed by non-Muslims vs Muslims.
  • Proportion of Western media attention paid to such practices as honor killings, female genital mutilations, stonings, lashings, forced child marriages by Muslims in their own countries and in the West vs. how much they actually happen.
  • Proportion of Western media attention paid to such practices as hangings, stonings, lashings against homosexuals by Muslims in their own countries and in the West vs. how much they actually happen.
  • Proportion of how many times Muslims and their Western apologists qualify condemnation of terrorism with blame upon the West vs. the number of times they condemn it outright.
  • Proportion of times mainstream Muslims condemn terrorists who cite Allah as justifying their acts as blasphemy vs. number of times they keep silent.
  • Proportion of accommodation Islam gets in the West vs. the amount any other religion gets in any predominantly Muslim country.
  • Proportion of accommodation Muslims expect in Western countries vs. the amount of adjustment they are willing to make [e.g., not murdering their daughters who insist upon determining whom they marry] to the host culture.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Politics, the Environment, the Economy, etc.

[RE: calling Tea Party movement members "tea-baggers"]: I seriously doubt that those who are fond of putting scrotums on people's faces oppose mass-amnesty for people who have entered this country illegally, don't think that we can tax-and-spend our way to recovery or appease our way to security....

I think it is possible for intelligent people to have differing opinions without resorting to vulgar characterizations. Indeed, the elitist criticism of the current Tea Party movement strikes me as being very similar to that of the Tories who held similar views of the original Tea Partiers: They are an ignorant rabble who are better off being kept silent and disenfranchised by their Betters in the aristocracy.
Scary Carey
Then will the non-xenophobic, open-minded Teabaggers please stand up? The majority of assholes in that group are giving the other side all the ammo we need to be convinced they're going to drag this country down into the same pile of shit ...we were in when the country first started. Taxation's the only way we've got of pitching in to improve things around this nation. If we don't get the citizens in on it, and especially the wealthy of that bunch, then how else are we supposed to build a better, stronger America for all? I'm in the impoverished group of this country, but I'm ready to pay some taxes to get things done. Why can't people who make more money than I do also feel the same? It's not everyone for themselves, but that we're all in this together.

Not only is legislation critical in this, but we also have to be able to afford such things as implementing renewable energy sources, retraining employees for those jobs, and repairing the damage already done by climate change. There's also a very fundamental change that needs to be made but probably won't happen anytime soon, and that's the idea that we don't need material wealth to be truly happy. So many capitalists are convinced they need this product or that and are having a very dififcult time being truly happy. Ultimately, I can't help those people because they must find their own path. I just know from experience and what I've seen in my own family that stuff doesn't equal happiness. It and the craving for more stuff tend to create a neverending sensation of longing that's never satiated. True happiness comes from the simple things that don't cost a dime and yet are priceless.

I believe at this point that 3rd world countries stand a better chance of surviving in the decades to come because they can be so greatly improved in a way that's sustainable and environmentally sound. We've already got so many dams that have disrupted river flows and harmed fish populations, since being able to power our TVs and kitchen appliances and lights is more important than taking care of the rest of the natural world. This is but one example of how American entitlement has led to a very steady decline of the ecosystems that we depend on for our survival. Give me a member of the Tea party that actually gives a shit about this and I'll consider rethinking any derogatory comments I like to make about them. %^)
Government cannot spread wealth; it can only spread poverty. The purpose of socialism is not to eliminate poverty, it is to eliminate wealth.

If a shared poverty is the ideal under a collectivist state, there are other places to enjoy such a... Nirvana. It's been tried time and time again and the result has invariably been the same. Wholesale slaughter. Cataclysmic war. Abject poverty. Brutal oppression.

Insofar as the environment is concerned, we can consider regaining our innocence by going back to the upper Paleolithic. We can abolish the internal combustion engine, pesticides, fertilizers, reverting to hunter-gatherer or slash-and-burn agriculture.

Bear in mind that this would only sustain a single-digit percentage of the world's current human population. We can look upon Afghanistan under the Taliban as an example to emulate. Their equally valid alternate lifestyle destroyed what little technology they had as most of the population was ignorant, disenfranchised and impoverished.

I personally do not find that option attractive, but it could be accomplished by surrendering Western civilization to those are diligently working to destroy it -- such as those who propose to build this mosque where the ashes of their victims once fell.

We should indeed keep pollution to a minimum. Great strides have been attained in that regard. I am old enough to remember what it was like when most vehicles were burning leaded gasoline. I remember when everyone agreed that Lake Erie was dead forever.

Much work remains to be done and I support it, but not by such double-standard ridden and politically motivated schemes as the Kyoto Protocol.

The root cause of all human suffering is tyranny, not freedom. The cause of the current problems isn't too much freedom and not enough government. So long as the cancer of tyranny exists in the world, there will always be war, poverty and injustice.

The choice is whether we abide "income disparity" under freedom or "equality" under tyranny.
Scary Carey
The root of many of our problems is that there really are too many people in the world. There's too much materialism, too much inequality, too much of a lot of things. I don't think we'll ever be able to eradicate war, injustice, or pover...ty because dealing with those concepts is a very human experience. Part of this whole mess we're in right now is not that it's the end of all things and that we should surrender to the inevitable. It's simply that we have a choice to make about how to proceed into the future. Do we learn from the mistakes of the past and improve our ways before it's too late (and time IS running out whether anyone wants to accept it or not)? There are a lot of people who are stuck in the past and who claim that, if it worked for our forefathers, then it's good enough for us. Sure, slavery worked for our forefathers. So did the oppression of women and the native peoples who were here before the pilgrims ever decided to float their unhappy asses over in search of a better life. Our forefathers also thought that hacking down the forests to make room for their homes was good enough for them. Now we know what damage has been done and yet we're still continuing to do more damage as if it doesn't matter. Now we have a chance to do something different and NOT be the same ignorant, closed-minded people that started this nation.

Sadly, we already have "income disparity" under so-called freedom. Why are there so many homeless people living on the streets and in shelters, while the select few wealthy continue to drive their fancy cars and invest in oil and coal industries? This current economic way of being is obviously not working for everyone. There are more options than the two you've just mentioned. We can have equality under freedom. This is our government, after all. It doesn't belong to the oil industries or the coal industries. It's of the people, by the people, and for the people. Corporations don't run the show, you and I do. My classmates at Evergreen do. There are people who know what needs to be done and are willing to make the changes necessary, whatever the costs. Why is it, then, that so many others gripe about taxation but expect the government to step in to help out with issues like Katrina and the oil spill? Why are there teabaggers who live on social security and other forms of government aid? Taxation isn't the enemy or a representative of tyranny. It's a way that we all can pitch in to make the improvements that need to be made that will make everyone happier in the long run. If we don't have taxes, then how else are we honestly going to improve a nation that's built on the principle of the almighty dollar? How else are we supposed to be able to afford to make those improvements? Believe me, if I thought we could do it without spending a dime, then I'd be all for it. It just seems to be a horribly imbalanced country when I, an unemployed college graduate and proud liberal, am willing to put forth whatever I can manage in order to help out, while the right-wingers refuse to lift a finger to help. As I said before, it's not everyone for themselves. We are all in this together.
Birthrates go down as a society modernizes and prospers, which is only possible with freedom. Free people do not make war upon each other. Free people derive the most benefit from other people being free. We cannot appease, contain or other...wise live in peace with tyranny. There is no such thing as a benign tyranny.

With all of our technology, we are no less subject to Nature's Laws. Other organisms have overwhelmed their environments and they either changed their ways or Nature took care of it.

We therefore have two options: we can embrace and foster freedom for all mankind. Then our race will survive and even prosper. We will handle our environmental problems voluntarily. The other option is to surrender to tyranny and allow most if not all of our species to be wiped out in a series of wars, famines and epidemics that loom so long as tyranny exists anywhere on this planet.

Our civilization is going through a dangerous juvenile phase that likely every sentient species experiences wherever they may exist in the universe. We are feeling our power, but still coming to grips with the implications. Too few of us consider whether we have any responsibility for future generations or have a stake in this future. We have high technology, while our governance and social structure -- and spirituality -- has not kept up.

Whatever solutions are found, they must follow Nature, not fight Her. What is real, true and just is to be discovered, not made. We cannot force a society to conform to an Utopian ideal just because we wish it can be so.

We don't make the rules here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What of the Price of Strawberries?

Commentary by walford

If we actually began to enforce existing laws against illegal immigration, let us remember that there are currently 15 million unemployed American Citizens and 12-20 million people here illegally.

Basic economics teaches us that if you have a surplus of something, it commands a lower price -- in this case, labor. Americans would indeed be willing to do this kind of work if it paid adequately. As the labor glut is eased, wages across the board would increase and we would all be able to afford these more expensive strawberries that are picked by other Americans.

Do we really want to make a case for exploitation by encouraging -- or even tolerating -- employers to hire people who are not covered by our labor laws?

Most Americans do not support mass deportation, but they don't support mass amnesty either. A far simpler and economical solution is to remove the incentives. All public assistance should be for U.S. citizens only. Neither should there be drivers licenses, in-state tuition [that actually favors illegals over legal immigrants and U.S. citizens living in other states] nor other rewards for violating our sovereignty.

I invite anyone to review Mexico's immigration laws to see their hypocrisy when criticizing those of the United States.

And America is the only country I know of that allows children born to illegal aliens [if you're offended by the term, by all means review my blog on this subject] to be considered naturalized citizens. The 14th Amendment was ratified in the aftermath of the Civil War. It was meant to grant full citizenship to former slaves -- not to incentivize pregnant women to risk their lives crossing rivers and deserts.

Allowing the United States to serve as a political and economic safety valve not only causes problems here, it also perpetuates the corruption -- and resultant poverty -- in their home countries that drove them here in the first place.

If you subsidize something, you tend to get more of it.

The federal government is essentially nullifying its Constitutional responsibility by refusing to enforce our national sovereignty and protect our citizens from terrorists, drug gangs, human traffickers and economic refugees.

Elites in the Republican Party are complicit because they are beholden to commercial interests that are addicted to cheap, exploitable labor. Elites in the Democrat Party are complicit because they hope to buy their votes with taxpayer-funded benefits. Also a certain cadre welcomes the fact that these people come from places where questioning authority is hazardous to your health.

And ordinary people on both sides of the border pay the price.

Mosque at Ground Zero

Commentary by walford

Let us bear in mind that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a Holocaust denier, refuses to classify HAMAS as a terrorist organization, blames the West for all Islamic terrorism, is a leader of a group that preaches murdering homosexuals and subjugating women, etc.

The name for this site, "Cordoba House" is telling. Córdoba was the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate's outpost established in Spain when the Muslims conquered, Islamicized and added Iberia to an empire that expanded by force. As someone of partial Spanish descent, I find this to be particularly offensive.

Will this mosque 600 yds away from Ground Zero usher in a new age of multiculturalist Nirvana? Let us quote from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

"When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. . . . If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them." (Sahih Muslim, book 019, Number 4294)

For those who value freedom and pluralism, to invite those who preach intolerance and Theological Exclusivism to have a place celebrating their expansionist political ideology on the site where the ashes of their victims fell is beyond unconscionable.

Having studied their culture and religion extensively, I cannot stress strongly enough how allowing a mosque at this location will be interpreted in the Islamic world. It will be taken as a sign of surrender on our part and that their conquest is Divinely Blessed.

To expect Western-style negotiation and compromise from them therefore is dangerously naive. It is a one-way street with them because Islam has yet to undergo a Reformation. There is a reason why synagogues or churches in Islamic countries are few and far between.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ayn Rand: Serial Killer Admirer?

This allegation apparently originated on Alternet and is being regurgitated around many Leftist blogs, as well as a few religious ones that resent her rejection of organized religion.

Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer
Her works are treated as gospel by right-wing powerhouses like Alan Greenspan and Clarence Thomas, but Ayn Rand found early inspiration in 1920's murderer William Hickman.

Commentary by walford

Simma down na, babe. If you Google the quote "Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should" you will find plenty of places pouncing on this supposed admiration.

I was concerned about this and, unlike those who were looking for something to justify their pre-existing hatred, did some research.

That and the other 'damning' quotes were lifted from the Journals of Ayn Rand in reference to an unpublished novel she was researching. She was developing a character who was a "Hickman with a purpose. And without the degeneracy. It is more exact to say that the model is not Hickman, but what Hickman suggested to me."

The words of praise she offered was not of Hickman but of a character that had some elements of Hickman in him -- NOT of Hickman himself.

Another quote is always left out from the anti-Rand blogs referring to it, because it further puts the quote into context: "The first thing that impresses me about the case is the ferocious rage of a whole society against one man. No matter what the man did, there is always something loathsome in the 'virtuous' indignation and mass-hatred of the 'majority.'... It is repulsive to see all these beings with worse sins and crimes in their own lives, virtuously condemning a criminal."

I have to agree with her. When you see a mob piling on or an individual condemning a heinous act so vociferously, I begin to suspect an element of voyeurism and/or that the person is trying to reassure others -- and himself -- that he would NEVER do such a thing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Recovery: Spin vs. Reality

RE: This article:

40 Bizarre Statistics That Reveal The Horrifying Truth About The Collapse Of The U.S. Economy

Commentary by walford

Of course things are getting worse. We are being given more of the poison that got us here in the first place.

We are being told that what caused this mess was too much freedom and not enough government. We are not being taxed enough. Capital is more efficiently allocated by Barney Frank rather than Bill Gates.

Their agenda is not based upon reason, thus no amount of evidence will disabuse them. When confronted with the obvious fact that their policies are not working, they say that they would if government had even wider powers.

They blame others for their failures and say -- without being challenged by the media to substantiate their claim -- that if their tax-and-spend policies had not been enacted, things would be worse.

The only thing that stands between us and ruination is the American people themselves. They know this and are doing everything they can to silence and marginalize the majority. They are even trying to demographically overwhelm us with people who come from places where questioning authority is hazardous to your health.

This is a war. A war of survival.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

DoJ Sues Arizona for Doing What Fed Refuses to Do

Commentary by walford

Arizona is bearing the brunt as human traffickers, drug gangs and terrorists join the ranks of the economic refugees who overwhelm our welfare services, infrastructure and criminal justice system.

And what is the Obama administration's response? It is legally challenging a border state that is attempting to do what the federal government refuses to do -- secure the borders, enforce the law and remove the economic incentives for those who continue to violate our sovereignty.

The Obama administration offers only mass-amnesty as an answer with a future promise of securing the border that is guaranteed to be broken. Once again, the elitists blatantly thwart popular will as they enact policy that is harmful to America -- and Mexico for that matter.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Palestinians Need to Look Forward? They Are!

Palestinians : Look Forward, not Backward

...Palestine, in peace, can offer the region far more than as a constant antagonist. Of course, that means the activists need to stop exploiting Palestinian suffering for their own needs, too. But mainly, Palestinians need to stop listening to the no-future activists who promise only confrontation...

Commentary by walford

The Palestinians ARE looking forward -- to destroying Israel.

In word and deed, it is clear and consistent that the vast majority of Muslims will accept negotiating Israel's [gradual or accelerated] demise if the Jewish State is not violently destroyed, but however it is accomplished, this objective is sacrosanct in the Islamic world. Therefore exacerbating and exploiting the Palestinians' suffering will continue. The suicide bombings and indiscriminate rocket attacks will continue.

It makes no difference what concessions Israel makes.

The withdrawal from Gaza has shown how the Palestinians and their benefactors in Iran, Syria and the rest of the Arab world will respond to further land concessions. Israel could dismantle every checkpoint, completely withdraw from the West Bank and open every border around Gaza. The Israelis could do nothing when suicide bombers detonate themselves in markets, nightclubs and transit buses. The same goes for mortar and rocket attacks launched into civilian areas.

Everyone knows what the result would be if Israel went belly-up and it would not be peace. And Westerners who hope that once the Jewish State is gone, that they will be safe as the Muslims are satiated are dangerously naive.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Appeasement and Apocalypse

In answer to a post about how Barack Obama is today's Neville Chamberlain:

Retain Mike of FR said: ...The massive deaths sought through jihad provide these Islamic fundamentalists both the means and objectives to usher in the Twelfth Imam, while destroying Israel. Their acceptance of violent death dominates allegiances to family, tribe, or country. They see no imperative for retaining a viable economic remnant. Therefore, the deterrent quality of force (mutually assured destruction) becomes useless...

Commentary by walford

This is a point that few Western diplomats can conceive. They continually and naively judge Iran and other Islamists by Western standards, expecting them to seek their own well-being as we do. The mullahs and their followers see the primary purpose of the finite life is to secure one's place in the infinite afterlife. Therefore, life is cheap to them -- theirs and ours.

Their aims of genocide far eclipse any that the NAZIs would have dared to dream of. These are people who are willing to wipe out the majority of the world's population and send all humanity politically, economically, technologically and socially back a thousand years in order to attain their expansionist aims as they actively seek to purge the entire planet of the Infidel. That being done, they will then happily turn on each other as the remainder of humanity tears itself to pieces in a final, apocalyptic bloodbath.

I suppose if you're a hard-core Green and consider homo sapiens to essentially be a vermin on this Earth, you could consider encouraging Islamist aims; after all, our species may not survive its successful global implementation.

Fighting Islamism is much like fighting a biker on PCP; you actually have to physically disable them from being capable of violence to arrest their relentless attacks. You have to break their legs to stop them from chasing you. And even then, they will try to keep coming.

They cannot be reasoned with or appeased. No one would be happier than me to be proven wrong about this, but the evidence in word and deed is far too overwhelming. Merely wishing that it were otherwise -- or worse, behaving as if it were otherwise -- is suicide, plain and simple.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our Place Among Other Living Things: A Theological Perspective

Commentary by walford

There is a significant cadre who hold that all other living things have been expressly put here to be exploited by homo sapiens.

This is justified by saying that it has been so decreed by the Almighty, citing scrawlings on paper written by men and subsequently edited by others as Divine evidence. It is further justified with the notion that animals are ‘lesser’ while we are Chosen.

Similar rationale is used to justify practioners of one man-made religion raping, pillaging and murdering members of other human tribes wholesale. All because they, as finite beings, do not share our views of the Infinite

This certainly confers a significant political advantage and permits a great deal of atrocity at others’ expense.

Remember this as some of you look down your noses at others you characterize as religious extremists. If you hold religious views similar to those cited above, what distinguishes you from them?

Time, space — and most importantly the Almighty’s Divine Will — are too vast for us to presume that we’re Chosen to be anything but a tenuous experiment in its early stages on a small planet in a non-descript sector of a galaxy like so many others.

If we fail, life will go on as it did many millenia before we arrived — quite nicely, thank you very much.

Those of us who lack the humility to remember that will contribute to our demise if it comes to that.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Immigrant, Alien or Invader?

Commentary by walford

Some important definitions that are all too often avoided in polite conversation when we consider what to do about those who continue to enter the United States illegally. These different terminologies matter a great deal when discussing this very important subject -

Immigrant: Person who legally enters the host country and demonstrates a sincere desire to join the socieity, contributing to and assimilating from cultural aspects thereof, including language, political morality [viz. embracing freedom], music, food, clothing, religion, family traditions, sex roles, etc.

Such persons are invested in the host country's future. They are thusly resolved to adapt and further enrich it.

Alien: Person who legally or illegally enters another country while holding allegiance to the original homeland, completely eschewing all aspects of the host country's cultural and social aspects, preferring to live as if they were still in his/her native land.

Such persons form enclaves in the host country where citizens therefrom are not welcome.

Invader: Alien who violates the borders of another country with the explicit intent to completely supplant the host country's society -- demographically, politically, economically and culturally.

Such persons expect the host country's citizenry to adapt to them or be engulfed if not wiped out.

Amongst the majority of those currently here illegally -- and those who keep coming -- who belong to which categories? Let us not delude ourselves when we consider this question as we formulate a response.

Tolerating the last two groups erodes the host country politically, culturally and economically. It is also perpetuates corruption and stagnation in the country of origin. It is the exact opposite of compassion.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

SATC2: Entertainment Industry Life for Middle Eastern Women

Why Didn't Samantha Sleep With an Arab Man?

...For much of the 19th and early 20th centuries, European leisure travelers made endless romantic speculations about the “secrets of the harems,” writes Judy Mabor in Veiled Half-Truths. They filled their fantasies with erotic scenes of dark-eyed women, but kept their distance; even as they fantasized, they pitied the poor, backwards Arab women, Mabor writes. In later years, however, Westerners began to feel guilty about these one-sided Orientalist fantasies. In Muriel Spark’s The Mandelbaum Gate, Hideous Kinky, and Sheltering Sky, the Western woman sleeps with an Arab man. The experience turns the tables on the usual fantasy. Now it’s the Western woman who becomes the other, exotic and dangerous. She gets humbled as she is forced, temporarily, to live by Muslim mores. For a while, she leaves her smug cocoon of Western superiority.

In Sex and the City 2, Samantha could easily have slept with an Arab man; she sleeps with everyone else, after all. This might have helped her understand the sex appeal of the veil, and the allure of a world in which sex is not always immediately there for the taking (just as she once experienced this on the show with her tantric yoga instructor lover). But nothing like that happens. The Arab men on the show are all tea-pourers or personal shoppers or camel herders. The cute butlers who are assigned to the women at their posh hotel are off-limits because one is sweetly in love with his wife, and the other is gay. The rest of Arab mankind is a sweaty, hairy, angry mob even Samantha wouldn’t touch...

Commentary by walford

SATC2 demonstrates that elites in the Western entertainment industry cannot deal with how it really is for women in Arab/Muslim culture, so when a major movie is set in that part of the world, they settle for shallow, banal stereotypes that completely ignore the suffering of their sisters behind the veils.

Western Feminists have totally abandoned the millions of women who suffer daily in the Middle East in favor of cultural relativism and Leftist ideology to the point of not even bothering to tell their horrific stories.

Fallout from Gaza-Bound Flotilla Violence Continues

Turkish PM Calls Israel's Reaction to Aid Ships 'Bloody Massacre'

Commentary by walford

Israel offered to facilitate overland transport of these materials and this was repeatedly rejected.

The "peace activists" object was to punish Israel for the fact that she will not permit materials to be delivered to territory controlled by HAMAS -- an organization that is avowed to destroy the Jewish State -- without being inspected first.

The activists knew that if the situation turned violent, they would not be held accountable and that the result would be further alienation for Israel.

Knowing the Western elites' craven and shallow mindset with respect to Israel, this blatantly orchestrated provocation was an easy political calculation that was all but guaranteed success.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Judicial Activist on Deck: The Dangers to Freedom

Commentary by walford

Why Elana Kagan is no Tina Brown

...Critical Legal Studies -- a school of thought which deems law fundamentally oppressive and renders everything completely relative -- is the linchpin of judicial activism. If everything is the product of subjective perspective then the law becomes whatever judges make it.
This is critical for freedom-loving people everywhere to understand if liberty is to be preserved. Judicial activism renders berobed, unelected elites with lifetime tenure a modern aristocracy. They are willing to tolerate legislation to be enacted by our elected representatives, but people like Elena Kagan see the judiciary as a cadre of Philosopher Kings whose purpose is to serve as a check upon popular will when it is deemed to be wrong by Our Betters.

The same goes for the Constitution, which is a document that was explicitly crafted to prevent arbitrary law dictated by an elite. People like Elena Kagan will declare it to be a "living document" when in fact they are doing everything they can to kill it so the aristocracy [that is determined by political pull rather than birth] will rule over us unfettered. This benign tyranny husbands us toward Utopia -- often against our will -- much like Lenin's Vanguard Party. "The masses" have been exploited for too long by the bourgeoisie to know what's good for them.

Put simply, judicial activism is essential for pushing us toward arbitrary law -- viz. tyranny. And there is no such thing as benign tyranny in practice, no matter how smart or well-meaning the tyrant. Ever.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cautionary Tale in Greece

Commentary by walford

Three Dead as Greek Strike Grows Violent

One teacher recently interviewed in the streets of Athens said basically that so long as someone has more than her, the government is neither taking enough from them nor giving enough to her.

The violence we are witnessing tragically demonstrates that this pathogenic mentality is deeply entrenched in Greek society. We should look upon this as a cautionary tale as to the inherent risks of a social welfare state.

It is juvenile and dangerous. Basically the people want what they want and haven't a care where it comes from, much less any conception of created wealth. The only thing they understand is dividing finite pies and cannot conceive of how only in a private economy can new pies be baked.

If it ever comes to pass that Americans turn out in the streets burning cars to protest a welfare program being capped [not even cut], then we too will be hopelessly lost.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Relationships in the Internet Age

Commentary by walford

Journalism Professor Asks Students to Unplug
A professor at the University of Minnesota asked her students to turn off their iPods, cell phones and laptops and turn on the 8-track players, landlines and typewriters.

Last month, Heather LaMarre, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, asked the students in her principles of strategic communication course to go five days without using technology created after 1984...

... the assignment made her realize being “plugged in” for things like interpersonal communication diminishes the relationship in some ways. “Relationships that we enter into now are so much more shallow because you have media in between,” Casey said.
It's not only the distance [and sometimes anonymity] that permits us to say things that we wouldn't to each others' faces. Instant electronic communication makes it so we can make snap judgments on personal matters of great significance. I have either personally experienced or seen others being dumped via e-mail, text message and even Instant Message. Then the person is set to ignore or block and the 'dump-ee' is left with emotional/spiritual tethers suddenly severed and hemorrhaging -- and left guessing as to why.

If there is later an opportunity to review the reason, it sometimes turns out this was due to a misunderstanding or a fleeting bout of nothing more than minor irritation. But by that time the damage is done and the relationship, if at all salvageable, is irretrievably tainted by wariness and distrust.

Some of us don't seem to be comfortable with expressing ourselves in person and retreat to our keyboards when resolving personal matters and that is very dangerous.

Some relationships are apparently a click away from oblivion. This necessitates devising coping mechanisms and methods of preemptive emotional-protection when so many of us have one e-foot out the door at all times. We still need security in our relationships and that quality is increasingly fleeting in this distant, impersonal and Balkanized electronic world.

As someone who was an adult in 1984, I can say that it was not as easy then to start and end relationships w/o the benefit of instant communications. People did get dumped via phone call, but it was rare and considered poor form.

One thing that hasn't changed is it hurts just as much. But it's not all bad.
However, technology has created a new familiarity in conversation, according to LaMarre, who said students noticed growing frustration among their friends and family because of their technological absence. For her students, LaMarre said anxiety from being out of touch was evident.

“They felt concerned they were missing out on something in life,” LaMarre said. To treat this anxiety, Casey said she had a friend check her e-mail on the third day. She had 225 unread e-mails. “After she told me how many e-mails I missed, I had to give in and check them,” Casey said.

With things like e-mail, Casey said technology adds convenience to conversation, but it should not be something necessary to function.
The ability to communicate with each other via new methods can be an enhancement if we are mindful of the risks as well as the benefits. E-mail is more "polite" than a phone call; the phone "demands" to be answered immediately while an e-mail can be answered at leisure. And these days, to show up on someone's doorstep w/o the visit being remotely "cleared" beforehand is considered the very height of personal imposition. Instant messaging can also be less intrusive because a person can set their auto-response message that will say that they will "brb" or are busy at the moment.

Remote electronic communication can therefore be helpful, but only if they are understood and utilized for purposes appropriate to the particular means.

A message board is a good place to air strongly held views candidly as an anonymous participant in a spirited discussion w/o concern of repercussion spilling into one's personal or professional life. A social networking site is a good venue to stay in touch with selected friends and exchange quasi-personal information that's not too sensitive.

An e-mail should be considered an electronic memo; it is a good means to set up appointments and issue formal communications that are best put into writing. An instant message chat is a good venue to exchange light banter. Cell phone text messages are good for even lighter chat or to help find each other for a pre-arranged meeting.

When these remote electronic communications become the primary venues for significant personal matters, then the danger arises of us having our relationships being more fragile and shallow.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Is Obama fomenting a race war? by Jeffrey T. Kuhner

Commentary by walford

Fascism is a statist ideology in which private property is tolerated only when it serves the state. And true freedom and justice is only seen as possible through the State. It disdains democracy as leaving the general population vulnerable to exploitation by the greedy bourgeois. As in the case with Leninism, there must be a Vanguard Party to act as stewards over a population that has been exploited too long by the capitalists to be capable of knowing what is good for them.

A key element of any dictatorship's success is to fracture the society against itself, thus keeping pressure off the government. As Edmund Burke Institute President Jeffrey T. Kuhner noted, dividing a society along racial/tribal lines is an easy weak-point to press.

Quoting recent remarks from President Obama:
"It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women, who powered our victory in 2008, stand together once again," he said.

Mr. Obama conveniently ignored the large chunk of white voters - suburbanites, latte-sipping professionals, environmentalists, labor union members - who voted for him in huge numbers. For Mr. Obama in the 2010 election, whites no longer matter - especially white Christian males.

In recent memory, no president has so deliberately and publicly sought to pit racial and gender groups against each other. The president is not simply the titular head of a party or the leader of government. He is the head of state and embodies the collective will of the American people. He is the president of all Americans - not just certain segments of his electoral coalition. Mr. Obama's rhetoric is reckless. It is fostering civil strife and racial animosity.

Imagine the media uproar had President George W. Bush, for example, in 2006 called for "whites, Southerners, Christians and veterans" to vote for the Republican Party. Mr. Bush would have been excoriated (rightly) for racist and sectarian pandering.
But there is method to this madness:
Instead of seeing Americans, he classifies people according to their race and gender. Modern liberal identity politics is rooted in fascist doctrine. The most influential philosopher of the 20th century was Martin Heidegger. His 1927 classic work, "Being and Time," is widely acknowledged as profoundly influencing Western thought - especially the academic left and its embrace of postmodernism. It's the very culture from which Mr. Obama - by his own admission - comes.

The German thinker developed the theory of the primacy of race, blood and group identity in a secular, relativistic world. Heidegger rejected eternal Judeo-Christian principles of moral absolutes. Instead, he called for the will to power through racial communities and tribal solidarity. Heidegger adamantly opposed democracy, capitalism and market-oriented growth - denouncing them as unjust and oppressive.
And Heidegger was a National Socialist.
Mr. Obama's presidency is not simply about erecting European-style social democracy. It is more insidious and dangerous than that. It is an attempt at establishing a liberal fascist regime - Heidegger meets Jane Fonda.

The results are similar to what exists in other fascist states: a pliant dominant media, greater government control over all aspects of national life, a bloated public sector, economic sclerosis, a corporatist economy, permanently high unemployment, crushing taxes, a hostility to Jews (Israel), a growing intolerance to dissent, the demonizing of critics and an irrational cult of personality.

The most distinctive characteristic, however, is the incitement of racial conflict. Fascism thrives on fomenting ethnic divisions and hatred, targeting internal race enemies to galvanize supporters behind their leader.
My father had told me that he anticipated that someday there would be a civil war in this country and it would split on racial lines. He hoped that it would not occur in his lifetime. It may come sooner than he thinks. The current flashpoint is in Arizona where the Left is openly calling for race riots in response to laws designed to curb illegal immigration. Minor outbreaks of violence are already in progress.

Who’s to Blame When a Black Man Rapes a Woman? by Melissa Clouthier

Commentary by walford

...A criminal wouldn’t be a criminal if he were loved more and society supported him, therefore it’s society’s fault that he is committing the fill-in-the-blank crime.

So who is to blame, then, when a black man rapes a woman? Would it be the rapist? No.

What follows is the harrowing and cognitively dissonant account of a woman’s rape at the hands of a black man she considered a friend. Her name is Amanda Kijera and here is her story:

Two weeks ago, on a Monday morning, I started to write what I thought was a very clever editorial about violence against women in Haiti. The case, I believed, was being overstated by women’s organizations in need of additional resources. Ever committed to preserving the dignity of black men in a world which constantly stereotypes them as violent savages, I viewed this writing as yet one more opportunity to fight “the man” on behalf of my brothers. That night, before I could finish the piece, I was held on a rooftop in Haiti and raped repeatedly by one of the very men who I had spent the bulk of my life advocating for.

It hurt. The experience was almost more than I could bear. I begged him to stop. Afraid he would kill me, I pleaded with him to honor my commitment to Haiti, to him as a brother in the mutual struggle for an end to our common oppression, but to no avail. He didn’t care that I was a Malcolm X scholar. He told me to shut up, and then slapped me in the face. Overpowered, I gave up fighting halfway through the night.
She continues:
Truly, I have witnessed as a journalist and human rights advocate the many injustices inflicted upon black men in this world. The pain, trauma and rage born of exploitation are terrors that I have grappled with every day of my life. They make one want to strike back, to fight rabidly for what is left of their personal dignity in the wake of such things. Black men have every right to the anger they feel in response to their position in the global hierarchy, but their anger is misdirected.

Women are not the source of their oppression; oppressive policies and the as-yet unaddressed white patriarchy which still dominates the global stage are. Because women — and particularly women of color — are forced to bear the brunt of the black male response to the black male plight, the international community and those nations who have benefited from the oppression of colonized peoples have a responsibility to provide women with the protection that they need.

Here we have the root of a mindset that enables perpetrators and their apologists. They rail against racism and at the same time feel entitled to victimize others because of THEIR race. They believe that they have it worse than others and thus should not be expected to even try to make an honest living or obey the basic norms that separate us from savages. No wonder the prison populations are not ethnically proportional to society at large. And they cite that as evidence of racism as well.

Culture gives us our values. If you are not expected to earn what you have and are told that you are entitled to take what belongs to others because their race proves that what they have was in fact stolen from you -- including, apparently, a woman's body -- you are a sociopath. You are also a Loser. The victim culture has been breeding several generations of people who are as harmful to themselves as they are pathogenic to society.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Real Reason We Have the Highest Long-Term Unemployment Rate In 70 Years by John Lott

Commentary by walford

Having been on unemployment, I can tell you that it is no picnic. You are expected to provide documented evidence of job-seeking every week. You are racing against the clock to find a job before the benefits run out. That time runs more quickly than you might think.

You can only qualify for unemployment if you are laid off, so I question this assertion that increased “benefits also encourage some people, who may be unhappy with their jobs, to become unemployed while they look for something better. Others will be a little more reluctant to take a new job when they are offered it.

Given the labor glut [that is exacerbated by illegal immigration], employers behave like prom queens and the process of job-seeking is pure hell.

You are brought in to interview for jobs and don’t find out until you show up that you are not qualified for the position, because keywords on your resume were flagged and the headhunter didn’t bother to actually read it until you’re sitting before him with his multiple facial piercings and hair gel.

You are expected to show up for 2nd and 3rd interviews that often last hours. HR bimbos ask you ridiculous questions that have nothing to do with the job and you’re expected to maintain an upbeat facade while you worry about how you will survive. You are left twisting in the wind for weeks and months while you wait for them to decide.

No one in their right mind would turn down a job to remain on unemployment and deal with that kind of torture. There are some employers who have told me flat-out that they will not accept any applicant who is on unemployment because they think these people are enjoying a nice paid vacation.

About a third of workers receiving unemployment insurance find work right after their benefits run out.

And what happens to the other 2/3? When my unemployment ran out, my marriage broke up soon afterward and I found myself living in my car for over a year.

Given my age and condition, I cannot do hard physical labor anymore, and showing up at a job interview with bifocals and gray hair was a great hindrance. And I found out the hard way that having menial, low-paying employment on your resume between office jobs is looked upon scornfully by potential employers.

“Why were you driving a cab after 12 years of being a CAD drafter?”

“Surviving the best way I knew how.”

I can promise you that my current resume is scrupulously pruned.
The solution is not to make it even more difficult for those who are suffering under the Obama-economy. The solution is to cut taxes [better still eliminate all taxes on savings, investment and income] as well as spending. That will create real private sector jobs and eliminate this issue altogether.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Small Bras and the Value-Added Tax by Irwin Stelzer

Commentary by walford

...The tax sounds simple, but don't be fooled. Because both upper- and lower-income families pay the tax at an equal rate, the VAT is considered regressive; that is, it hits the poor harder than the better-off. So it is the practice in countries such as Britain to exempt food, which lower-income families spend a greater proportion of their income on. The technical term is "zero rating," meaning that exempt items are taxed at a "zero rate."

However, wait until the folks at the IRS get their hands on the regulations for the application of the new tax. They will undoubtedly turn to their more experienced British counterparts for guidance.

"Food of the kind used for human consumption," to a British bureaucrat, is something "the average person, knowing what it is and how it is used, would consider it to be food or drink; and it is fit for human consumption. . . . The term includes . . . products like flour, which, although not eaten by themselves, are generally recognized food ingredients . . . [but] would not usually include . . . dietary supplements, food additives and similar products, which, although edible, are not generally regarded as food."

We should be reminded that the countries with VATs also have enormous government debt and high unemployment. It is a hidden tax that is not subject to public scrutiny. Time and again we have seen, the more money the government gets, it spends even more. And let it not be lost on us just how much power this confers upon the government with respect to what products will be manufactured and how. Dr. Stelzer continues:
...This process of writing regulations for the VAT man when he cometh is more than merely amusing. For one thing, it confers enormous power on faceless bureaucrats.

They can hand a competing product the advantage in the U.K. of a price 17.5% lower (in Sweden it's 25%) than a close substitute. That invites both lobbying and corruption and sheer, inexplicable arbitrariness. Get your "sweetened dried fruit" deemed to be "held out for sale as snacking and home baking" and your product will bear a tax and have to compete on grocers' shelves with zero-rated "sweetened dried fruit held out for sale as confectionery/snacking." Peddle your sandwiches "as a general grocery item" and consumers pay no tax, but offer them as "part of a buffet service" and the VAT man wants his 17.5%.

Manufacturers twist and turn and juggle their product specifications and processes, not to find the most efficient way of making things but the surest way of obtaining a zero rating. The resulting inefficiencies cannot be measured accurately, but they certainly contribute to Europe's lagging productivity and increasing inability to compete in world markets.

We don't need this in the United States. Once again, this is about enhancing government power and nothing else. It will increase the price of products, lower the amount of choices and thus make us all live poorer and more dependent upon the government -- which is the ultimate object, of course.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Give It Arrest by Ed Feulner

Commentary by walford

As the American Bar Association reported a few years ago, there are now so many laws (at least 4,000 by one expert estimation) “that there is no conveniently accessible, complete list of federal crimes.” Throw in federal regulations (there are 300,000 of them, according to a Columbia law professor), state laws and local ordinances, and you, too, could be a felon and not even know it.

This shouldn’t be the case. And, not surprisingly, it hasn’t been throughout our history.

There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. -- Ayn Rand from Atlas Shrugged
By making it so any action by a person can be interpreted as illegal enables an oppressive government to selectively enforce it depending upon a given person’s political connections/anointed victim status.

It is an essential part of arbitrary law. The U.S. Constitution stands as an expression of objective law, which is why the Left is working so hard to erode it. Expect the next Supreme Court Justice to be a fellow traveler in that pursuit.

Dogma = Blasphemy = Evil by walford

As the latest outrage over Western lack of sensitivity to the piety of the Religion of Peace roils in the Islamic World, let us consider the concept of blasphemy. It is not merely desecrating the Divine. It is ascribing Divinity to the non-Divine.

Consider then the following statements I quoted in a piece written a couple of years ago for Accuracy In Media: “We knew that Bush is the enemy of God, the enemy of Islam and Muslims. America declared war against God. Sharon declared war against God, and God declared war against America, Bush and Sharon.”

Before he himself was killed by IDF rockets, HAMAS leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi said this in reference to a similar killing of the founder of a group unabashedly dedicated to destroy an entire country via bloodshed. In a contemporary quote, HAMAS’ website condemned a separate successful attack upon a trio who were on their way to what was called a “holy mission” to once again murder Israeli citizens in the pursuit of an entirely political objective.

It is noteworthy enough that Rantisi presumed to speak on behalf of a billion other souls without consulting them. But what makes this statement truly significant is that he – as a finite being – presumed to speak for the Divine, naming who the Almighty’s enemies are, what agenda the Infinite has in store for them and that deliberately killing men, women and children can be considered Blessed acts.

He was saying that his group’s enemies were, by definition, the enemies of God. In the other example, those who were about to blow themselves apart in the pursuit of taking civilians with them were on a mission from God. If this is not blasphemy, what is?

And yet, there is never any rebuke from other Muslims for the sacrilegious aspect. At most, some co-religionists will offer a mild admonishment for the latest suicide bombing. This is nearly always qualified by a justification to be lain ultimately at the foot of capitalism, the West, America and/or Israel. “Yes, it was bad what they did. That is not called for in Islam, but…” There certainly is no condemnation for characterizing such acts as ‘holy missions.’

The pious Iranian mullahs are currently issuing their indignation over certain manifestations of Western free speech. Yet, no Muslim has ever condemned as heretics those who invoked Divine guidance when raping virgins of the Baha’i faith before killing them, because the Almighty supposedly demands that those females who do not practice the One True Religion must not have their hymens intact when put to death as infidels. Similar justification was invoked when stoning women to death in Taliban Afghanistan – and likely continues in the Islamic Republic today.

One would think that smearing the name of a people and a religion would be bad enough when committing such barbarity. One would think that good Muslims would turn out in the streets over having such acts done in the name of the Almighty. Apparently this is trivial in comparison to some cartoons that utilized their Prophet’s image symbolically used to allude to a proclivity toward violence amongst Muslims [that then precipitated violence].

According to Islamic scholars, Muhammad is not to be pictorially depicted in order to avoid idolatry. If he were truly regarded as a humble flesh-and-blood human being who was Blessed and duly Called by the Almighty, it should not be possible to blaspheme him. Yet, when this image is used by others, the reaction is as if this man were himself a Divine entity. Who then are the idolaters here?

And lest I’m accused of picking on the Muslims, I have a problem substituting one form of dogma for another. Soon after 9/11, Ann Coulter wrote: “We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” When later confronted with this, she qualified it that she only meant those who were celebrating the 2001 deaths of 3,000+ Americans. Nonetheless, several years later, she had the following exchange with Alan Colmes on Fox News:

Colmes: Would you like to convert these people [Muslims] all to Christianity?
Coulter: The ones that we haven't killed, yes.
Colmes: So no one should be Muslim. They should all be Christian?
Coulter: That would be a good start, yes.

One major result of the Protestant Reformation was that the practice of ‘conversion by the sword’ was abandoned. This was not because Christians in the Western world became weaker in their faith. Instead, they revisited Jesus of Nazareth’s intentions and found that clerics were supposed to be facilitators and teachers, not the Almighty’s spokesmen. Furthermore, they came to understood that presuming to act in the name of God – for good or evil – is blasphemy.

Some even considered the possibility that the Almighty has existed long before our man-made religions. Consequently some came to accept that God is indeed all-powerful, generous and loving enough to make contact with every soul on this earth without man’s help.

Even those who practice religions that originated outside of the Middle East may indeed still be cradled in God’s Omnipresent Love even if they have never been exposed to a word of human dogma. Certainly there is no need to kill those who do not adopt our means of communing with the Infinite. Apparently Ann Coulter is among those Christians who join many Muslims in not realizing this.

When people see throngs of people setting fires and calling for severed heads because of some tasteless depictions of a man, it turns people away not only from Islam, but from all religions and thus from the Almighty as well. It has made it so that many associate making the declaration that ‘God is Great’ with a final act that is usually followed by indiscriminate slaughter. Consequently, many people consider belief in the Divine to be prima facie proof of blindness and stupidity.

Thus some people take this to mean that there is no objective source of truth and morality, so we may as well do whatever we can get away with. What results could be more evil?

A Look Inside the Life of Rachel Uchitel and Fellow VIP Hosts and Bottle Girls -- New York Magazine

Commentary by walford

...Men like to cheat without strings, and you can’t stop a civilian from falling in love. But Woods found a way to enjoy the best of both worlds in one type of woman, a Venn diagram of sexual satisfaction. Most of his mistresses lived in a nebulous in-between world. Not prostitutes, no, but just about halfway there. As surely as he has changed the game of golf, so too has Woods exposed the grazing ground of the halfway-hooker, and her natural habitat, the nightclub.

...Cocktail waitresses evolved from out-of-work actresses into Penthouse Pet–level creatures who sparred with their co-workers for client gratuities by expanding their breadth of service. Their take-home pay skyrocketed from $300 a night to $3,000 banner shifts. With the volume of VIP clients growing and the number of tables quadrupling, the need for organization spawned the creation of the VIP host, someone who could be trusted with the biggest clients.

Ours is truly a sociopathic culture in which increasingly Westerners view each other as means to an end -- commodities, in fact. This article is truly a distressing testament. If it feels good do it, indeed.

Those who would replace our way of life with a theocracy in which women are considered little more than livestock......what can we say in response?

Tax shock is just start for Obamacare by Patrick McIlheran

Commentary by walford

Once companies started telling shareholders how much the tax break's repeal would cost, Congress grew irate. 'The new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs,' wrote one potentate, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), so he ordered CEOs to show up with documentation as to why reality isn't obeying with' intentions.

...The 2,700-page bill will have other consequences that Congress neither foresees nor wants. Even had the bill been the epitome of caution, any nationalization of a sixth of the economy is bound to involve chaos theory.

We have recently seen that some politicians will over-ride popular will because they fancy themselves smarter than the people they purport to represent. They also fancy themselves to be so gifted that they will ignore warnings from experts who demonstrate that what they advocate will do exactly the opposite.

So what difference does it make what is popular anymore? We operate under an aristocracy of political pull.

Calcutta, USA by Paul Jacob

Commentary by walford,_usa

Last week, talking to David Corn of Mother Jones (and no doubt several viewers from across the country), Matthews crystallized the political debate raging in America today:

The problem is that we don’t think in terms of what would the country be like if we didn’t have Medicare for our parents as they get very old — in their eighties, for example, when they’re still alive, and they need health care, a lot of it. And they don’t have any source of income. They’re not working every morning. They’re not making a paycheck. What would it be like in this country? Calcutta? Poor people all over the place? Old people lying in the streets? I mean, we don’t think about what it would be if we didn’t have health care, if we didn’t have Social Security for people at the age of 65, if we didn’t have unemployment compensation, if we didn’t have a progressive income tax. There’s a lot of things we don’t think about. And the right-wing just pounds and pounds away at this idealistic notion of a cowboy country, everybody self-reliant. I think the progressives, for all their power on the blogosphere, have not done a positive case for the advantages of some kind of a social state.
So let’s think in precisely the terms Matthews suggests. Before Medicare was instituted, were elderly folks “lying in the streets?” Were there “poor people all over the place?”

Simple answer? “No.”

If it weren’t for the progressive tax system [which should be replaced by a national sales tax] and the huge social welfare system, the economy would be much stronger and more people would be able to take care of themselves and their own.

The Left knows this and it terrifies them. That is why they advocate things that cripple the economy and make people more dependent upon the government. That is why they are against anything that would empower the general population whom they openly despise.

For the Left, power is an end in itself. They lust for a medieval social structure in which a tiny elite lords over an impoverished, ignorant and disenfranchised mass of serfs. The only difference is leadership would be chosen by political pull rather than birth.

Thus is the Leftist utopia.

Kuwaiti Journalist: The Jews Understand Nothing but Force; They Mistreated Eichmann, After He Tried to Help Them

Commentary by walford

"The only way to deal with [the Jews] is through power and confrontation. The Jews will remain Jews even if you bathe and wash them in soap and water. They do not change, neither [in] thought nor [in] faith, and they will in no circumstances be satisfied with any [non-Jew], even if he joins their ranks. The presidents of the U.S., Russia, and [other] European [countries] are living examples for us: throughout modern history, not one of them has succeeded in standing up to [the Jews] or implementing his agenda against them.

"After the Palestinian Authority surrendered to the Zionist entity, and gave in to it day after day... the Jews turned their backs on 'Abbas and his cohort, and continued to violate pacts and agreements – for example by building new settlements, by appropriating the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb as [sites of] Jewish heritage, and [by implementing] the plan for destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which they commenced last Friday, [when] they barged into it without any prior [notice], cleared out all the worshippers, lobbed tear gas grenades, fired rubber bullets and live rounds, and arrested hundreds of people who resisted them.

It never ceases to amaze me what the Arabs are disposed to believe. Even that Eichmann speech is a complete fabrication. He didn’t care beans about the Palestinians and there is no record of him mentioning them at his trial.

Indeed, he was sent to Palestine to discuss with the Arabs the possibility of deporting European Jews there before being put in charge of exterminating them.

Education Health Care Analogy by RonnieFan

Commentary by walford

According to the Cato Institute the average per student cost of public K-12 education is $19,000 per student per year compared to $8,300 per private school student. We all know private schooling is better and it’s over 50% cheaper on average. Free sure is expensive. With what we’re spending on “free” public education, we could not only send all kids to private school, we could buy premium health insurance for the uninsured and have billions left over, maybe trillions. But instead we’ll add expensive wasteful dollars to wasteful heath care dollars to have two less effective, more expensive systems.

I have to agree with your pessimism. Anyone who takes even a shallow look at how Social Security works will see that it is an unsustainable rip-off Ponzi scheme. If the money that was taken from us were instead put into anything that yields even modest compound interest, we’d all be able to enjoy very comfortable retirements from the gains.

And yet, SSI is politically impossible to remove — or even curtail. Remember the howls when Bush proposed allowing us to opt for taking a single-digit percentage and investing we see fit? That proposal sank like a lead balloon.

The Democrats are quite justified in being confident that once an entitlement program is enacted, it is never repealed. Instead it is amended with more piled-on bureaucracy and legislation.

Education Health Care Analogy

Commentary by walford

According to the Cato Institute the average per student cost of public K-12 education is $19,000 per student per year compared to $8,300 per private school student. We all know private schooling is better and it’s over 50% cheaper on average. Free sure is expensive. With what we’re spending on “free” public education, we could not only send all kids to private school, we could buy premium health insurance for the uninsured and have billions left over, maybe trillions. But instead we’ll add expensive wasteful dollars to wasteful heath care dollars to have two less effective, more expensive systems.

I have to agree with your pessimism. Anyone who takes even a shallow look at how Social Security works will see that it is an unsustainable rip-off Ponzi scheme. If the money that was taken from us were instead put into anything that yields even modest compound interest, we’d all be able to enjoy very comfortable retirements from the gains.

And yet, SSI is politically impossible to remove — or even curtail. Remember the howls when Bush proposed allowing us to opt for taking a single-digit percentage and investing we see fit? That proposal sank like a lead balloon.

The Democrats are quite justified in being confident that once an entitlement program is enacted, it is never repealed. Instead it is amended with more piled-on bureaucracy and legislation.

Theological Exclusivism by walford

From the earliest glimmers of human conscious thought, our species made every effort to devise systems that would enable us to make our existence intelligible. It was possible to discern from the observation of nature that there were definite rules that were being demonstrated through the success and failure of living things struggling to survive.

Until the Industrial Revolution, homo sapiens was a relatively rare creature. Disparate tribes were scattered throughout the globe, unaware of each other’s existence. Nonetheless, these isolated nations devised similar methodologies that offered coherence to their environments and codes of behavior that enhanced survival. If the system a particular tribe developed was truly congruous and ultimately practical, the tribe’s chances of survival [and competitive advantage] would be enhanced.

Although our species is the only one of which we are presently aware that has a cerebral cortex with a sentient mind, it would be unreasonable and illogical to presume that we are the ultimate beings with no peers [or superiors] in capabilities. The only thing more immense than our ignorance is the universe itself. There are too many galaxies containing too many stars with too many planets and moons [about which we know nothing] for us to make definitive assertions in regard to the limitations of life elsewhere.

The fact is we are relative newcomers to existence on this planet and are only now beginning to comprehend the vastness of the universe. Our capacity to understand the nature of existence is still quite limited, so we shouldn’t be so quick to deride our early ancestors’ efforts at apprehending the infinite. If they had not developed a workable framework with which to engage their environment, we wouldn’t be here.

Our forebears thus developed religions as a way to comprise and elucidate the order of things in such a way that even a small child could understand.

For this to be done, a set of consistent and universal rules would need to be devised. These should be based upon the objective [externally-generated]. ‘Don’t look at the Sun for too long, the God will take your sight.’ ‘Put the juice from this plant on your cut, the Green Spirit will heal it faster.’ Through trial and error, people would observe and experiment with the things around them to find out what and what not to eat; where it is safe to sleep; plants that can heal or kill, etc. If the sanction of Deity is invoked to support these findings, the religion can be seen as consistent and beneficial.

If, on the other hand, the rules are instead subjective [internally-generated], they will be based upon the arbitrary whim of a cult-leader. Instead of listening to the voices of nature, the cult will be obeying the voices in their leader’s head [mass psychosis]. Such a tribe wouldn’t last long. In those days, people didn’t have the luxury of high technology and government programs to protect them from the consequences of their poor choices. This is not to say that Nature’s laws no longer apply to us. They still do. Now, the consequences are merely spread out and borne by the rest of us.

If a workable set of rules is obeyed, the tribe is told that the Divine [the objective source] will be propitiated. The people will therefore prosper. If not, the Deity will be angered and wrath will be meted out to the offending party and/or the tribe that allows the proscribed conduct to continue. It is a fact that there are some behaviors in which an individual can engage that can threaten the entire tribe. Rare as our species was at that time, our ancestors could ill afford to be ‘tolerant’ of those who would indulge in conduct which would cause negative consequences to be visited upon the rest.

It must be demonstrated that there is order in the universe and that justice ultimately prevails. These rules must be understood as being universal, rather than being applicable to some, depending upon social status. It must also be seen that every particle of existence is connected to a greater whole and, consequently, an isolated action in one place and time can potentially have lasting effect on everything else. Further, for a system to enhance the survival of the tribe into posterity, it must be made clear that a person has a stake in the condition of the world after he/she is gone.

The most basic and logical way to make such a system intelligible for even the simplest of cultures is to personify the agent responsible for fashioning all that exists and setting the rules, which govern all. Such an agent [or a consortium of agents] would indeed be conceived of as all-powerful – a god. Those who practice the major religions rooted in the Middle East say we are created in God’s image; a small minority asserts that we created our gods in our own image. Another very old belief is that we are each one of us a part of the mind and body of the Divine and, as such, share responsibility for, and contribute to, a Divine plan. The fact is, as finite beings, we can only theorize about the nature and form of the infinite.

There may be a singular agent of creation. The universe may be a contiguous whole, which in its entirety, is an identity of which we are a part. This is what some may refer to as the Almighty or the One. Either way, there is no way that any finite particle the likes of one of us could logically be capable of comprehending the totality of such an entity. It is entirely possible that the One may appear to us in a form(s) that a particular group [at a particular period of time and place in history] would be able to understand and accept as Divine. In other words, it is unlikely that ten thousand years ago in a central African jungle the Almighty appeared to the people there as is depicted in a Gothic stained glass panel.

Finite beings quarreling over the nature and form of the infinite is absurd at best. At worst, it serves evil. Even within certain religions disagreements over practices between sects can degenerate into an orgy of malevolence:

A couple of years ago, some Conservative Jews from the U. S. went to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem to practice a ritual as a part of an annual observance. This particular sect allows men and women to participate in ritual together including women reading from Torah. Orthodox Judaism does not permit this. Some young Orthodox men decided to express their disapproval by viciously heckling their co-religionists while ritual was in progress. Not satisfied with that, they went further and began pelting the gathered men, women and children with plastic bottles. Some of these still had water in them and served as missiles, causing some minor injuries. The fact that there were infants in strollers present did not deter these men.

What makes this sort of behavior particularly outrageous is that it is done with a sense of righteousness; punishing those who practice their own religion, but merely in a different way, is done so with the notion that there is a Divine endorsement. I submit that, when a person or group purports the will of the finite to be the will of the infinite, this is blasphemy. Yahweh was not cheering these men on as they were flinging missiles in the direction of little babies. Similarly, it is doubtful that Allah approved when, confronted with a taboo against killing virgins, the Iranian Shi’a of the newly-formed Islamic Republic solved the problem of the proper way to kill female Bahai infidels by making sure to rape them first.

Here it becomes necessary to discuss some thorny issues concerning adherence to religious edicts. According to the Larousse Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions, there are three basic approaches to other religions:
  • Exclusivism is the belief that a particular religion is in sole possession of the truth and the means of salvation…extra ecclesiam nulla calus (there is no salvation outside the Church). ”
  • Inclusivism is the belief that all human beings, regardless of religious affiliation, participate in the benefits of Christ’s salvific work. Other religions are regarded as lower levels on humankind’s quest for God. The “superiority of its own religious tradition” is still presumed.
  • Religious pluralism holds that other religions possess “validity and truth in their own right. These religions are understood as different cultural reflections or expressions of the same divine reality and as such constitute legitimate ways to God” (Larousse 437).

Exclusivism is self-contradictory. It holds that human beings are finite and incapable of apprehending the infinite. Yet, adherents of this view have no problem declaring that they and they alone know the way to God and that all others [even members of different sects of their own religion] are infidels. Exclusivists are not the ones who are most devoted to God; they are the ones most devoted to the dogma that has been created by man.

This doctrine is what most people, believer and non-believer alike, consider to be an essential element of faith. It is not. It is evil. It is torturing and murdering people for not approaching religion in the accepted way. It is portraying the works of man (dogma) as the works of the Almighty and, as previously stated, is blasphemy. It is responsible for killing the faith within the inquisitive, skeptical mind before it is born. It is responsible for people being persuaded to think that they have either the choice of blindly adhering to dogma or having no religion at all.

Inclusivism is merely a patronizing version of Exclusivism. The hope is held that the poor misled souls who practice other religions will eventually catch on and embrace the ‘true’ faith. This point of view is still infected with the notion that it is possible for any person or group to have a monopoly on the correct path to the Truth and to the Almighty. The fundamental element of this infection is dogmatism - the slavish devotion to an idea, regardless of evidence to the contrary. It is characterized by the certitude that one is doing the good, no matter how many people are maimed or killed in the process.

Religious Pluralism allows for the fact that the Almighty is merciful and understanding; many forms are taken, depending on the people being dealt with. This should not be interpreted to mean that, since there are many faces of the One, there are many truths and a cafeteria of rules from which to choose. There is only one reality and only one set of rules. It is up to each one of us to discover the nature of reality and what these rules are. If we fail to act according to the rules, the laws of nature will automatically be set in motion to correct us. No one is exempt. The laws of nature cannot be cajoled, pleaded with, threatened nor cheated. This is how the Almighty communicates with us all, believer and non-believer alike.

Each religion is imprinted with the culture in which it developed. In the Middle East, the concept of ‘us vs. them’ is deeply entrenched and is reflected in every aspect of culture, including religion. In the West, competition is seen as healthy as long as it ultimately leads to consensus and cooperation. Whereas in the Mid-East, “rivalry has so permeated the… social structure, that it manifests itself in institutions all the way from the family to the national bureaucracy. Children are encouraged to “intensify rivalry” between siblings. A study of “Lebanese village life” is cited wherein “it was found that fewer than half of the children sampled could name three persons they considered friends… [due to] grudges, feuds and rivalries” (Bill/Springborg 123-124).

When this phenomenon is extrapolated to the arena of adults in positions of authority, it is encouraged and exploited by rulers who “play off their advisors and subordinates against one another.” Thus, “potential opposition forces” are kept “splintered” as they compete with one another. Consequently, the head of state is able to “maintain firm control” politically and thus, “overwhelming concentrations of power seldom [develop] outside the sphere of the national political ruler.” Whereas in the West, where consensus and compromise are instilled from childhood to attain balance, in the Mid-East it is accomplished “through conflict no less than through collaboration.” A skillful ruler is thus able to “sense the location of threatening power concentrations and then to splinter [them]… by fostering new rivalries” (Bill/Springborg 124-125).

Indeed, there are [and have been] many instances wherein one sect of Christianity, Judaism or Islam considers the members of other sects within their own religion to be so wrong as to not be true believers and are thus infidels. Consequently, the perspective this triad of religions has toward theology originating from anywhere else but the Middle East is illustrated by Webster’s definition of pagan: “a person who is not a Christian Jew or Muslim… an irreligious or hedonistic person… [a] worshiper of false gods” (Webster’s 1394).

It is incredible that Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, the polytheistic religions of ancient Greece and classical Rome, the tribal religions of the indigenous peoples of Australia, Africa, the Americas, and the old religions of pre-Christian Europe can possibly be explicated in any detail in a single volume of research, much less be lumped together in a single word: Pagan. Can it be so that Webster’s definition can truly be applied to the practitioners of all of these theological systems? Are we to accept that throughout the universe the Almighty chose a tiny speck on one planet on the edge of a nondescript galaxy to be the only place where the true nature of the divine would be revealed?

It may be uncomfortable for us to accept, but we are not meant to know or understand a great many things. We live our lives in uncertainty about whether there is [or are] a supreme being, what such a being would be like, what is right and wrong and what happens to us when we die. It is a statement of our character how we conduct ourselves given that uncertainty.

When the esteemed theological scholar Joseph Campbell was interviewed by Bill Moyers in the PBS series “The Power of Myth,” Campbell noted that, after immersing himself in the study and of most of the currently practiced religions of the world, he would have been just as well served if he had simply practiced the Protestant religion he was raised with. Those of us who practice religions which originated in places other than the Middle East would be foolish to presume that there is no divinity to be embraced in Christianity, Judaism or Islam. Anyone who is sincere in the practice of his/her faith will find the Divine.

In consideration of the selection of a religion to practice [or not], the following is offered:

For those who have been put off religion by being bombarded by the professions of certitude by dogmatists who obviously couldn’t find their own asses with both hands, I ask you to reconsider. Some people simply cannot live with the idea that they are not supposed to have all of the answers and are comforted in believing that they do. They want to know that if they believe what they are told they are supposed to believe, they will go to a very nice place when they die.

Ironically, this mindset is similar to the professed certainty by those who hold that there is no Divinity and that there are no rules except those which each of us make up. These people cannot live with the idea that there is a mind greater than the human and are frightened at the prospect that ethics could be generated externally from themselves. This mentality can be put into practice either individually or collectively. Individually, this brand of what I will call Gnostic Atheism holds that there may be some concrete physical laws, but no universal laws of right and wrong.

It would be difficult to hold such convictions and not consider morality to be a matter of what one could get away with. Consequently, a person with such a worldview would be prone to consider others in the same way that the above-discussed tribal raiders considered the members of the neighboring village. Others are thus to be considered individually as either a threat or a means toward acquisition.

With such a mentality it is not possible to conceive that there obligations and interests outside the self - love is for suckers. This would be the ‘lone wolf’’ form of Gnostic Atheism; the predatory hedonism which is so hysterically defended as a human right in the West. To even criticize this mentality is to cause the harpies of the dominant culture to descend as a murder of crows.

In the collective version of Gnostic Atheism, the human is the ultimate mind and as such, can create its own reality. A Utopian vision of human existence can therefore be devised wherein the subject population would need to be molded to conform. For this Utopia to work, everyone must believe in it. If anyone were to question the basic concepts using logic and reason, the entire system would be threatened. A Utopian system is based upon faith in the virtue of the Creator and his/her Works. Marxism/Leninism is the purest form of this. There is a Messiah [Marx], a Bible [Das Kapital], clergy [the nomenclatura], etc.

Hedonism and Utopianism are simply variants upon the concept that truth and reality are the product of what is inside the head, rather than what is outside of self. Clinical psychologists refer to this outlook on reality as psychosis or schizophrenia, wherein the subject is unable to distinguish the real from the imagined. Anyone who offers doubt about such a person’s hallucinations is considered a threat and is responded to accordingly.

If, on the other hand, one accepts the concept of objective truth and morality, it is possible to live a healthy life and develop an integrated view of reality, but it would require considerable [and consistent] effort to devise a workable system in which one’s life can be structured. For those who will not, under any circumstances, consider finding objective truth in religion, I would recommend exploring philosophy based upon the principles of objective truth. I won’t offer any sources; you must find your own way.

What I will offer is that many generations of people have already done the exploration, why not consider their work, before embarking upon re-inventing the wheel? This not-so-humble feline has spent many years trying to devise a secular way toward a comprehensive and logical understanding of the nature of existence and what capabilities humans have in dealing with their environment. That was done successfully, but the system was somehow bereft.

With a universe so vast, is there an equally vast purpose? The laws of physics are presumably universal, is there an equally universal code of ethics? Are we born merely to live out our lives as ends in themselves, or are there duties and obligations which must be fulfilled as a price of life. Can we exist as if the other living things around us are merely ours to use as we see fit, or do we have an interest in the general well-being of all living things? Do we have a stake in the world we leave behind? Is life something to be thankful for, or just considered to be a matter of chance which may or may not be regarded as even fortunate?

I would caution those who have understandably rejected religion because of the behavior of the religious. It has been said that if man were meant to fly, he would have wings. Those of us with skeptical, reasoning minds know that man was indeed meant to fly, he has a mind. Religion has been used by cynical tyrants to subvert the creative abilities of those who are more capable. This does not mean that the concept of religion is wrong; it has been practiced wrongly.

It would be impossible to ‘prove’ the existence of the One. All that can be said is that, given the vastness of the universe and of geologic time, there is a sequence of events being played out grand scale which will be affected by our doings [which we consider to be so important] by a factor of zero. To use the difficulty in proof as a proof of nonexistence is just as illogical as the opposite position. The proof is literally all around us.

It is true that the universe is vast. It is equally true that we are each one of us a part of it. Physics tells us that there are particles in motion throughout the universe all around us, traveling through us, connecting us all. It is also true that matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed; the matter and energy which comprise our being has existed since the beginning of time. We are, therefore, eternal. Why pretend that we are isolated from the rest of existence when we can avail ourselves of the knowledge, wisdom and love of the entire universe?

Our earliest ancestors did not know what we know of science. We have all but forgotten what they knew of what binds everything in existence together and why. The fact that every tribe scattered throughout the Earth devised a religion is not proof of their stupidity. It is a proof of their wisdom. The fact of their existence and their legacy in us testifies to that. Our ancestors found themselves desperately clinging to existence and had no choice but to open their minds [and their hearts] to search for, and listen to an objective voice. This voice came to them. It came from within and from the totality of the interconnected universe speaking as one, because all is one.

Those who study Zen know that the way to the Truth is to abandon preconceptions and surrender to what is real, not imagined or believed. There are some Westerners who mistakenly taken this to mean that the mind must be abandoned in favor of reacting. No, it is a form of pure objectivity wherein all of the inner dialogue must systematically be silenced, even the expectation of an answer. For years, people have practiced meditation to achieve this state where the mind is open to perceive things as they truly are, bereft of convention. Most never do.

This is not to say that the only way to the Truth has been devised in India or East Asia. Most religions that are currently practiced or that had formerly been practiced can offer a means to the Objective Source. This can be accomplished only with a firm commitment to abandon man-made dogma in favor of the Divine. This can only be done directly. It can be done individually or in groups. Individually it can be done quietly, in sincere contemplation of the facet of the One with whom you are connected. In groups, an agreed-upon collective purpose and focus can be concentrated and directed toward a specific goal such as merely giving thanks for life.

Given that we cannot be sure of the form and nature of divinity, we must not forget what our earliest ancestors discovered long ago: Life is a blessing which must be cherished and nurtured. Right and wrong are objectively real. Survival dictates that every effort must be made to discover which is which.