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.

How did your Representative vote on health reform?

Commentary by walford

March 22, 2010

I modified the text of the auto-generated letter somewhat:

"Representative ________,

Thank you for voting YES to health care reform. You have cast your vote against me and with the insurance industry. Your vote made it so all Americans will be required to buy health insurance, contrary to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. It also made it so I must pay for federally mandated services while exempting those of other states, which violates the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment.

Your vote is about helping government grow and our rights shrink. It is about making it more expensive for small businesses to hire new employees as the economy continues to stagnate if not tank. It's about the government deciding what kind of coverage I should have and taking the choice away from me. It's about creating artificial price caps and, as anyone who understands basic economics knows, this will create shortages via waiting lists for treatment and other forms of health care rationing. It's about taking away choice.

Thank you for standing up for the insurance companies and thwarting popular will. As a constituent, I sincerely appreciate it and I will remember this vote in November as I pull the lever for whomever is running against you."