Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Monday, July 31, 2006

Rare Photos of African Slaves!

The Carlagirl blog has posted a nice entry with pictures of Africans from the east coast of Africa "liberated" from Arab/Muslim slave traders by the British in 1868.

Check it out.

http://carlagirl.net/blog/2006/02/rare-photos-of-african-slaves-on-slave.html

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

God, Religion, Politics and Me

In my last post, "What Science can Answer" I made some statements regarding what science can or cannot answer and the proposition that it may well be that it is not that science cannot answer certain questions but rather that we may not be emotionally capable of accepting the answers that science may give. I wrote:

It is highly likely that the answer to why we are here will simple be: we are the result of a whole mess of accidents, coincidences and extremely good luck. We happen to be alive and we have no purpose greater than or less than any other living thing on the planet. None whatsoever. We simply are born and die. Our matter is returned to the Earth where it is recycled to sustain future life of various forms. Our "consciouness" which Artificial intelligence will soon show, is the result of very high level brain function. WHen the brain ceases to function that unique energy that we call "consciousness" will simply do like all other energy does, obey the laws of thermodynamics and dissipate as it seeks more stable forms.

This answer prompted some e-mail regarding whether I believe in God and that the statement above appears to be contradictory to my previously professed adherence to Ifa. On another blog I have been labeled a "blathering secularist" for having issues with Barak Obama's blatant use of religion to curry favor with a portion of the electorate. I am on record, multiple times, as being very much against the confluence of religion and state. My argument rests on two things: First it is illegal for non-profit organizations, which churches and other organizations of worship are classified, to endorse a candidate for any political office. There are those that disagree with this law but for the time being it is what it is. Secondly, it is shown that people in the throws of a religious experience are not thinking rationally about much of anything much less the long term ramifications of their electoral decisions. In fact most of them will freely admit that they are doing what they have been taught is the "will of God" rather than from some long drawn out decision process. So much easier isn't it? In a so-called, informed democracy this should bother people. It should bother people a lot. This post is on why this is a problem.

Many people who adhere to belief systems fail to ask serious questions about their belief system. In many cases this is because to do so can result in death. Indeed many people fail to distinguish between belief and fact. Bob Marley has an excellent line in which he says:

"Brothers you should know and not believe."

I've been called a "word nazi" and in this case I'll have to be one again. Briefly a belief is something one accepts as real or true whereas knowledge is based upon the certainty of something.

In the latter case, in relation to religion, one is told a certain thing or perhaps reads it in a pre-approved text and one accepts that statement or statements as truth without question based on the supposed authority of the book or speaker. In the latter one is certain something is the case because it has been shown to be the case irrespective of the authority of the book or speaker. For example one does not simply accept that 2+2 is 4. One can test it out for oneself and verify that such a statement is true. Indeed if one has any doubt you can get someone else to do the experiment. Indeed the certainty is in the fact that anyone can observe the same thing regardless of personal preference. In order to be certain, all doubt is removed because all doubt is removed by means of experimentation. Thus, one can move from belief to certainty only by addressing the doubts that are inherent in belief. For many people, belief is expressed as certainty which is a problem because that attitude of certainty is not based on empiric evidence but rather on "faith in things not seen". In other words, some people choose to operate on accepted truths based on the trust in something they accept exists. A circle of baseless accepted "truths". Then we trust these individuals to make decisions for the rest of us.

Another question not dealt with by most is the origins of religious belief systems. Religious systems arose out of the early human societies that have in common the deification of certain natural phenomenon such as the moon, sun, water, air and dead people. Some have tried to explain this as being God's divine intervention in all these peoples lives. A more rational explanation is simply that the people were responding to the environment around them. Anyone who is observant will note that people will often create "good luck charms" when attempting a dangerous or arduous task. We have lucky shoes, socks, necklaces, etc. Showing that people will create totems and the like to relieve themselves of a level of uncertainty. Thus the mental exercise is:

Because I was wearing this shoe when I overcame this obstacle I will wear this shoe from now on AND no one else can touch the shoe.

In a sense the shoe is deified. There is no doubt that early humans everywhere made such observations and that early religions were based on these experiences.

Another example would be the oft deified sun. It is of little surprise that universally the creator (aka God) is something that humans cannot see. Indeed if one looks into the sun one will go blind. There are very few times of the day when the sun can be looked at directly without damaging ones eyes.

What about the dead? If you talk to people who have had limbs removed they will tell you that on occasion the missing limb will itch. clearly there is no limb sending any signals to the brain but the brain having been used to having input from that area of the body will basically make up signals from the missing limb. It is very similar when we deal with death. I find it highly amusing when I see TV shows where people have near death experiences and they see Jesus who looks just like the Jesus they had seen all their lives. Never mind that if Jesus was indeed a real person that had been on earth that he would have a specific look that everyone would report as the same and would not have blond hair or blue eyes.

It is clear that these were not "out of body" experiences, but the brain in REM sleep like mode. For those who survive a persons death, we know that their brain is full of memories of that person. Indeed for those of us who pay attention to our dreams we know that we are able to even make up whole interactions with people we know down to their clothes, location, etc. that would seem as real as anything we experience when we are awake. Often these dreams are said to be "dead people" coming to speak to us when in fact we were speaking to ourselves. Hence, it is clearly reasonable to say that early humans, not yet versed in the art of brain function thought that the dead were in fact still with us and therefore created elaborate means of appeasing them and/or making sure they are helped to the "other place." Ahh but why even have "another place"?

The answer to that question lies in the biological imperative to live. We are all programed to preserve ourselves. The body will go through great means to preserve itself including shutting off blood to "unnecessary" parts of the body (arms, legs). In essence, it is our imperative to live that fuels our need to know what will happen to us when we die. Clearly the wish to live after death is but another expression of this biological imperative to live. In the harsh world our ancestors found themselves in, it was no doubt a very rough existence compared to what we deal with today. Food is scarce, some poisonous. Large and small animals can kill us if we are not careful. Indeed the whole concept of heaven as a place where animals that are a danger here on earth are somehow non-carnivourous in heaven is more of the "I wish it were easier here" type of daydream than anything promised by "God". Other clear examples of heaven being a brain balm than anything else is the idea, across cultures that heaven or the "other world" resembles the one we know quite closely. There are homes, vegetation we know about, animals we know about. People are dressed, or not dressed as we are familiar. Indeed heaven as expressed in most religions is a replica of what we know on earth sans conflict of any kind. Thus we find the most probable reason for religion: To attempt to explain that which we don't understand and how to deal with conflict. The easiest explanation for our ancestors to explain things they did not understand was to say it was "God". The Sun can't be looked at? Oh it's God who is so powerful that you can't look at him. What is that other disk in the sky? Oh it looks like the sun but it's not so it's another god. Lightning in the sky? Thunder, God, god. Clearly these explanations were the best that humans could do at the time but today we know better. If our ancestors had the information we have now, would there be an Amen-Ra?

Well, maybe. Indeed there is another powerful reason for organized belief: Power. Indeed another thing common to most religions is the "priesthood" and in many cases a monarchy "descended" from God. Being the descendant of or "official spokesperson" for God makes for a nice living. In many of these societies these individuals are never questioned and are well looked after. In South America, the people were so brainwashed that they allowed priests to kill upwards of 40,000 people as sacrifices to "God" in order to make sure, among other things, good crops. Of course in many of these religions the priesthood and royalty were often exempted from the sacrifices "required" by God. This power motive is very great. it is a running joke on how the reverends often have nice houses and cars even though their congregation may be dirt poor. Often the very dirt poor from which these "riches" are gotten from will defend such riches are due to the fact that God does not want the messenger to "look bad". Never mind that Jesus was dirt broke, wearing rags and effectively homeless.

Another interesting item is the idea that God made humans "in his image". If we shrug off the apparent arrogance of such a position for a minute we can consider this: Why does an omnipotent being need with feet? Arms? Legs? Hands? I mean think about it for a minute, we know why we need these things but God? Oh I see, God doesn't need these things he just decided that was the best form to form himself. Himself? hmmmm.

Edit 8-1-2006: I want to expand on this "his image" part because the way I presented this argument was too finely focused on those who take such a statement literally such as those who believe the Bible word for word. In another testament to the Khemetic origins of Judaism we should note that in Judaism the reference to "made in his image" is not meant to be literal. It is meant to say that humans have some qualities of God, such as ability to rationalize and such. This is important because in the Khemetic you have the concept of humans being the image of God. Pharaoh Tut-Ankh-Amen is literally the living image of God, or the living image of the hidden one. In essence the Pharaoh was a living embodiment of the attributes of God. While we may scoff at such a notion, it is important that we recognize the existence of this ideology. That Christians, specifically those of a fundamentalist stripe, who are woefully ignorant of both the Judaic and Khemetic origins of the concept and instead use a literal "interpretation" of such an idea simply underscores the problem of religious belief vs. reality. [end edit]

I don't want to get into a history of religion but I want to make sure the reader understands that much of the religions out there are derivatives from these ideas. Many of them are merely updated to reflect the times in which they developed. Judaism spawned it's pharasees which Jesus made examples of. Christianity gave us Popes, Crusades, Reverends and Prosperity Evangelism. Islam gave us Arab nationalism and Jihad. In a stroke of irony Buddhism gives us persons who disavow violence, material wealth and basically act as Christians should. In essence it is arguable that with the rise of organized religions we have massive conflicts as persons whose religions tell them that killing is wrong, produce weapons that can kill everything on earth and kill those who are not like or believe as they do. It is clear then that large sections of "people of faith" have serious issues high on the list of those issues is an intolerance of other beliefs. So, for example, In Iraq, people will kill each other simply because of the type of Islam the other is practicing. In the United States there is a rising group of Christians who want to establish an elected theocracy. On this agenda is that the government should be an agent of proselytization where, for example, Christian prayer is said in school and all other functions regardless to the fact that some people may not in fact be Christians. Their agenda is clear because while outlawing organized prayer in school the court has never made any rules that forbid anyone from praying at their desk, in the hall, in the bathroom, lunchroom. In fact I recall many times in my youth praying before a test with not a person batting an eye. So it is clear that the issue isn't prayer itself. But lets look at the mechanism of prayer for a second.

People swear up and down that "prayer" works. I agree. 100% ; though not for the reasons that other people give. The one thing that has been proven by science and has been known from our ancestors is the mind-body connection. The fact that one can "concentrate" to the point that one can control parts of your body that otherwise would be "autonomous". What many people describe as "God's" blessing is often the result of that person putting themselves in the frame of mind to succeed at a particular task. In other words, the prayer was in fact a form of meditation. Many people who have had chaotic lives who come into a religion often report that they feel "at peace". This is no coincidence because the prayer portion of the religious experience allows many converts to calm their minds for the first time. They often fail to realize that they could have done so without the religious experience.

But what about those "random" experiences where "money" just showed up or some other event. Aside from sheer coincidence, people are generally good. Situations can trigger bad behavior and attitudes but often due to the makeup of our bodies we emit certain types of radiation which is often referred to as "Vibes". This has been shown by science. It is now known that one can induce a particular mood in a person by targeting certain frequencies at particular parts of the brain. People are huge emitters of energy as well as receivers of energy. Often when these "gifts" show up it is because we have emitted energy that effects people. call it quantum "macking" if you like. All to often, in their need to see God everywhere people discount the very nature of people to be kind and to pick up on their needs.

Why should you need to love Jesus in order to love your neighbor and treat them with the same respect you would want afforded to you?
What part of not killing is hard to understand without such an instruction coming from God? Most of these questions have answers that can exclude any godhead. Of course once the godhead is removed one is back to the questions that started the god seeking to begin with: Why am I here and what is my purpose? If there is no godhead, heaven (or hell) then there is no purpose but to live and die. The question then becomes: can I live a decent life, respectful of others (human, non-human alike) without the god imperative or the promise of some latter reward?

In essence this the current struggle. People are asking this very question and those unwilling to honestly deal with these questions are being forced to deal with these issues and many do not like it. Like in the days when Europeans thought the world was flat and was the center of the universe, those who challenge the orthodoxy of god belief as perpetuated by the dominant religions are facing a backlash by those who have not challenged the orthodoxy and whose feelings of well being are dependent upon the protection of such belief systems.

Some in more liberal circles say that the violence and intolerance we see are not "true expressions" of the religions. I do not buy into those arguments. The failure to call a concept of a "chosen people" as proclaimed by Judaism as racist and clearly the work of a man is a failure on the part of the religious ideology. Christians and Muslims have grabbed onto this ideology to the death of Millions of Africans in slave trades of many directions. The failure to condemn these "chosen people" and "chosen religions" ideologies for what they are: Man made ideologies of exclusion for no other purpose than the devaluing the lives of the other in order to rationalize their killing or subjugation (as seen in Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Aztec, etc.). The seed of absolute certainty as discussed at the beginning of this post is the seed of much of this. Once an ideology of "There is no God but.." or "Those who believe shall not perish but have everlasting life" and "Go ye therefore..." is an invitation to killing in the name of. oppressing in the name of. Subjugating in the name of. Some time ago a poet cited a book that blamed the ideology of survival of the fittest as the origins of the devaluing of life. It claimed that scientific ideas that "demoted" man to a descendant of apes caused people to devalue life and spread things like racism. It is clear to anyone who studies history that the devaluing of life began long before Charles Darwin and had nothing to do with science. Indeed it has been when science has been co-opted by religious thought that it has been serviced to devalue life. When science was used to prove the lower intelligence of the African. It was trying to "prove" the preconceived notion of the Hamitic curse.

So it should be clear why I am opposed to the use of religion and "God" in politics. It's re-emergence as a litmus test of qualification for political office is a new low for this age of information. indeed, if such religion based politics were in existance the bombing of Lebanon would simply not be occurring. It is very clear that the bond to Israel is born out of the "Judeo-Christian" racist myth of the promised land. The site of Jewish children writing messages on Christian bombs which would be dropped on a mainly Muslim population, underscores the sheer bankruptcy of organized religion to hold people to it's supposed bedrock principles. It should scare many people then, that the people in power and some who want it adhere to such "certainty beliefs" which cannot even address simple "common" decency things such as bombing civilian populations or flying planes into buildings.

Having discussed God, religion and politics we come to me. I have a belief system. I do practice Ifa though probably not the way that many other do. I understand that veneration of ancestors is important in understanding my family, who I am and those who contributed to me being here. I like that Ifa is very specific in that God is not he or she or anything that can be depicted. I like that this traditional African religion does not assume to know everything or have all answers in some text or book somewhere. But rather it has a set of principles that can be expanded upon. I like the fact that evil is the result not of some great nefarious spirit roaming like a lion but the result of how people act. Evil is located in intent rather than action like how people kill people not guns. Foremost, though many people fail at it, the goal of Ifa is that the individual reaches good character. That's it. That is a huge undertaking. Ifa is much like the greatest commandment given by Jesus: love thy neighbor as you love yourself. You'll note that the instruction given was not to love your neighbor as you love God but as you love yourself. Why? Simply put, the rule of biological self-preservation. Humans may decide not to "love" a godhead anymore but will always have the biological love for themselves (not to be confused with self-esteem) to not do themselves harm. Even the 9-11 hijackers questioned the value of killing people who had done nothing to them. For a brief moment they understood the imperative of good character and that killing people even in vengeance or allegiance to God was wrong. It was their religious programming that kicked in to override that basic knowledge. it is this overriding of basic knowledge this basic be nice because you want to be treated nicely, that is the threat posed by religion or faith based policy setting. it is why I oppose the collusion of religion and politics and why I speak out against those who would mix the two. It is also why I had to write in opposition to the scientist that said that science cannot answer certain questions. He put the limit on science because of his emotional need for after death explanations. It is this self-imposed limitation of knowledge that I do not ascribe to. When I die I will be able to test the life-after death hyppothesis. That's good enough for me.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

About That "They Hate Our Freedom" Thingy

After the Twin Towers were destroyed, taking nearly 3,000 lives, the consensus given by the Head of State was that "They hate our freedoms." Of course, those of us who know better, well, knew better. For those who still don't quite understand why people would conspire to kill US civilians, I offer this piece from the NY Times, before it is lost in the ether:

The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

Just so we all understand this: The US supplied Israel with much of it's military capabilities. Therefore, this attack on the Lebanese civilian population is the direct result of US arms which makes the US government complicit in the murder, yes, murder of Lebanese civilians.

he munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike.

Yes, Israel can draw upon US arms shipments as needed. Thus the US is admittedly the arms storage facility of Israel. Thus we understand completely why the US is in no hurry much less inclined to stop this attack on Lebanese civilians because it brings in loads of cash for the US government and the "defense industry" who the US government will need to contract out to for replacement bombs and the like.

The new American arms shipment to Israel has not been announced publicly, and the officials who described the administration’s decision to rush the munitions to Israel would discuss it only after being promised anonymity. The officials included employees of two government agencies, and one described the shipment as just one example of a broad array of armaments that the United States has long provided Israel.

One American official said the shipment should not be compared to the kind of an “emergency resupply” of dwindling Israeli stockpiles that was provided during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, when an American military airlift helped Israel recover from early Arab victories.


Now you should not the italicized text here. What other little Israeli wars has the US been "helping out" with? Well over at CounterPunch Alexander Cockburn has a history refresher for those who may have forgotten:

his time we have to go far, almost unimaginably far, back into history. Back to 1982, before the dinosaurs, before CNN, before Fox TV, before O’Reilly and Limbaugh. But not before the neo-cons who at that time had already crawled from the primal slime and were doing exactly what they are doing now: advising an American president to give Israel the green light to “solve its security problems” by destroying Lebanon.

In 1982 Israel had a problem. Yasir Arafat, headquartered in Beirut, was making ready to announce that the PLO was prepared to sit down with Israel and embark on peaceful, good faith negotiations towards a two-state solution.

Israel didn’t want a two-state solution, which meant -- if UN resolutions were to be taken seriously -- a Palestinian state right next door, with water, and contiguous territory. So Israel decided chase the PLO right out of Lebanon. It announced that the Palestinian fighters had broken the year-long cease-fire by lobbing some shells into northern Israel.

Palestinians had done nothing of the sort. I remember this very well, because Brian Urquhart, at that time assistant secretary general of the United Nations, in charge of UN observers on Israel’s northern border, invited me to his office on the 38th floor of the UN hq in mid-Manhattan and showed me all the current reports from the zone. For over a year there’d been no shelling from north of the border. Israel was lying.

With or without a pretext Israel wanted to invade Lebanon. So it did, and rolled up to Beirut. It shelled Lebanese towns and villages and bombed them from the air. Sharon’s forces killed maybe 20,000 people, and let Lebanese Christians slaughter hundreds of Palestinian refugees in the camps of Sabra and Chatilla.

The killing got so bad that even Ronald Reagan awoke from his slumbers and called Tel Aviv to tell Israel to stop. Sharon gave the White House the finger by bombing Beirut at the precise times -- 2.42 and 3.38 -- of two UN resolutions calling for a peaceful settlement on the matter of Palestine.

When the dust settled over the rubble, Israel bunkered down several miles inside Lebanese sovereign territory, which it illegally occupied, in defiance of all UN resolutions, for years, supervising a brutal local militia and running its own version of Abu Graibh, the torture center at the prison of Al-Khiam.

Occupy a country, torture its citizens and in the end you face resistance. In Israel’s case it was Hezbollah, and in the end Hezbollah ran Israel out of Lebanon, which is why a lot of Lebanese regard Hezbollah not as terrorists but as courageous liberators.


So the next time you hear the President, or any other talking head discuss "Hamas terrorism" or "Hezbollah terrorism" or the fact that Israel is struggling for its very existence (though it is quite clear that it is Lebanon that has its very existence threatened). You tell them to Shut Tha %$#@ Up

Monday, July 17, 2006

What Science Can Answer

This morning on Good Morning America there was a scientist who wrote a book entitled "The Science of God". This scientist's basic thrust is that he can believe in God and have "faith". His position is based on this faulty premise:

Science cannot tell us why we are here or what our purpose for being here is.

This is an extremely faulty premise and it is pretty shocking that a so called "scientist" would make such a statement. Science, at some point in time will be able to tell us exactly how we got here and the why. It will also tell us our purpose. The problem is that most people will be unwilling to accept the cold answer that science will give us. What answer is that?

It is highly likely that the answer to why we are here will simple be: we are the result of a whole mess of accidents, coincidences and extremely good luck. We happen to be alive and we have no purpose greater than or less than any other living thing on the planet. None whatsoever. We simply are born and die. Our matter is returned to the Earth where it is recycled to sustain future life of various forms. Our "consciouness" which Artificial intelligence will soon show, is the result of very high level brain function. WHen the brain ceases to function that unique energy that we call "consciousness" will simply do like all other energy does, obey the laws of thermodynamics and dissipate as it seeks more stable forms.

It actually makes a whole lot of sense because when one observes how most people treat religion and God, it is clear that there is a serious problem. For example, I was watching Tavis Smiley interview a survivor of the Rwanda genocide. I was feeling quite sympathetic to the woman until she started to tell her story. She says that at one point she was faced with a machete at the hand of a Hutu. She said that she prayed to God to spare her life. She apparently prayed so hard that the Hutu "overcome by the Holy Spirit" decided to walk away. Hmmmm. an interesting story indeed. But I kept asking myself: Why would God or the Holy Duppy(1) spare her life and not the other hundreds that were killed? Are we implying that those who were killed somehow deserved to die by way of Machete? Were the women who had children cut out of them really divinely damned to such a painful death? The unborn child cursed from conception to such a death? a Child that had just come into this world was actually less deserving of life than this chick? And yes, by this time I was thinking of her as "this chick" because it is one thing to be grateful to be alive, but given the sheer evil of the situation I would think that deep reflection on the attitude of self aggrandizement in the form of "God wanted me to live" would be questioned since the Ba-Hutu's who were committing the murders also considered themselves more deserving to live than the Ba-Tutsi's. Indeed this feeling of entitlement, divine or not, played and plays a large part in many conflicts in Africa.

I think it is very problematic for a so called scientist to say outright that science cannot answer why and for what purpose life, specifically humans, are here. Rather he should admit that he is personally and emotionally unsatisfied with the answers so far and is unwilling to accept the possibility that science will debunk his belief and therefore he puts such questions beyond scientific query. Science does not exist to give people comfortable answers. Science exists to find out what is or has been and what may happen in the future regardless of what we may feel about it.

notes:
(1): Duppy: Jamaican term for Ghost.

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New World Order

"Hezbollah and Hamas are the Problem"

-US President Bush

"Yeah? And who might you be?"
"But an American President? Ahh he can be trusted"
-GEICO Gecko (paraphrased)

When I last saw the GEICO commercial I thought the retort by the Gecko was so appropriate to the blather that I have been hearing come from both Democrats and Republicans. On the news, it's all crackers all the time. The only so called 'authoritative" voices are that of white men and women who are "middle east experts" despite not actually being from there. Exceptions are Arab poster children such as Fareed Zakaria who usually will give some kind of second opinion but failed to do so this Sunday. No, these "news organizations" cannot find a single non-white person (Fareed excepted) to represent another point of view in this situation. Do you think that is an accident? Do you think it is somehow a "co-inki-dink" that every talking head that has an elected office blames Hezbollah?

If we were to simply focus on the latest incident, it still would not excuse the lack of intelligent discourse on this matter. If the Israelis were actually concerned about their soldiers then the actions they were doing now would not have happened. Thus the clear and naked lie is front and center and not a single so called "news agency" will call the Israelis on this matter. If we keep believing this lie, then where is the so called "news reporter" question to the Israelis:

How many Arab lives is equal to an Israeli? No far it's about 200:1. Let us be clear: "sand niggers, AKA Hadjis, AKA towelheads are not worth spit to Europeans who call themselves "jews".

So the lie exploded under simple and direct questioning reveals that this military action has been planned. Question. Is it possible that the kidnapping was in fact a staged occurence? We know that Israel has infiltrated these organizations. Is it entirely possible that the military wing of Hamas was set up by an agent provocateur? Is it possible that Israel is not worried about the lives of these soldiers because it already knows where they are and they have already served their purpose? I can't say either way, but it since it is already known that the kidnappings were merely excuses for pre-meditated war, anything else is entirely possible.

If we choose to ignore the clear violation of international law that founded the current state of Israel; you know don't you? The eviction of palestinians out of their homes and being put on what in the US would be called a "reservation". If we choose to ignore that and look at the actions of Israel upon the election of Hamas, the entire innocence of Israel (and the US) falls apart. Since Bush has been in Office the mantra has been "democracy" and elected governments in the Middle East. Now Hamas was elected into office by a free and fair election. Instead of welcoming Hamas to the world of governance, Israel and the US did everything it could do to undermine the new government including economic terrorism. At the point Hamas was elected the US had a golden opportunity to show that it was for peace and "democracy" in Palestine: It could have directly engaged the Hamas leadership, welcomed it into the global government "party" and given it incentives for good governance, including a two state solution. In other words, rather than trying to strong arm Hamas into changing it's charter, the US could have "carroted" Hamas into changing it's behavior and shown the world that the US was not against Islam.

But no, strong arm tactics won the day and Israel continued with it's killing if Palestinian civilians and right before the kidnapping, bombed a beach. No doubt the kidnapping, whether done by agents or not, was a response the the beach incident. This highlights the second contradiction here: Israel has the right to "defend" itself (read: avenge itself) but Palestinians do not. Again:

How many Arab lives are worth an Israeli?

So contrary to "news reports" the kidnapping of two soldiers in northern Israel was not some random act by Syria and Iran. Instead what we saw was a response by Hezbollah to the bombing of the legitimate government of the Palestinians. Hezbollah was doing what the so called "international community"(tm) should have been doing: defending Palestine against a well armed force. Is that not what Bush Sr. used to justify the first war against Iraq? The Defenseless Kuwaitis needed protection from an aggressive Iraq? Yet not a single talking head even suggested this scenario. These experts are experts at what? Toeing the US-Israeli li(e)n of random acts of aggression on the part of Hamas and Hezbollah.

Now lets move on to the most laughable (if this whole situation was funny) part of this story thus far. There are claims that the Missiles used by Hezbollah were supplied by Iran? Ok. Duh. And? The US supplies Israel with billions in military "aid". This "aid" is used regularly to destroy Palestinian property and to kill Palestinians. Not a single word by the UN. So why is it surprising that Iran is supplying the other side? Isn't this how things work in the world of poles? So given that this is a big "duh" moment for those paying attention then the question is why Israel would go after a group that is backed by Iran. We know that the admin wants to get at Iran but needs an excuse to do so. Should Israel manage to provoke Iran into joining the conflict then the US has the opening it wants without the need to play the UN game. This is the prime reason why for all their talk, neither Syria or Iran has gotten involved as of yet.

The elephant in the room is not Hezbollah or Israel but the US. It is highly probable that Syria and/or Iran would have gotten into this already if the US was not the sole superpower on the planet willing to throw it's weight around. If for example, the Chinese were willing to step in (and it has little if any reason to) on the side of Hezbollah the entire tone of this conflict would be different. Let us be clear that this is about a projection of power. Israel has it and all other parties in the area do not. It must be the height of embarassment of the Lebanese government to be in a situation where it cannot do anything. It cannot defend it's borders and cities and all it has gotten from being an "ally" of the US is: "Israel has the right to defend itself." While I am sure that there are many in Lebanon that think that Hezbollah acted irresponsibly, they cannot also be thinking of how inept their government is in that it cannnot summon enough force to at least force a negotiation.

On another note I think this is a good time to discuss the UN. I think a lot of people should be asking: What exactly is the point of the UN? In the past six years the UN has stood by as the US invaded a sovereign nation that posed no imminent threat to it. It has seen a new "Berlin wall" erected in Israel which has taken Palestinian territory. It is now sitting on the sidelines as Israel metes out collective punishment on Palestinians and Lebanese during which the Israelis have taken to violating numerous UN rules, such as those against targetting civilian infastructure. Of course the excuse for this is that Hezbollah and Hamas has no strictly "military" assets since they are guerilla organizations rather than state organizations. Excuses, excuses. We've heard that from the South Africans too. You know it's the "we can't tell who the "bad guys" are so we have to strike wide and any innocents that get killed are unfortunate. Well that is innocents on their side. Well actually there really isn't really an innocent Arab (or whatever group) since they let the "bad guys" live with them and don't turn them over. Of course. Of course.

If the UN is simply going to be either a rubber stamp for the US and Britain then why even have the body. NATO does that just fine. If the UN has rules that seem to only be applied to certain nations then why should it exist? Really. What exactly is the point of the UN? I think this century may well see the end of the UN as we know it as disparate governments see that it is nothing but another tool of western nations (and those aligned with them) to dictate what is and is not acceptable on the planet. I think it will be replaced by regional bodies such as those emerging in Latin America and Africa.

So let's be clear, The invasion of Iraq was a concrete step in the direction of a new global order. The recent nuclear actions in Iran and North Korea are a direct result of the new order in which certain countries can be threatened with invasion and regime change with no international consequences. An order where it is clear that if you are not nuclear you are in danger. If you are militarily weak you are in danger.


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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Check The Logic

The incredibly stupid move by Israel to attack the sovereign nation of Lebanon over the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah is only trumped by the stupid logic that the US is employing while discussing the matter. I'll get back to the logic in a second. Not to long ago I wrote that the Arab States around Israel have been publicly shown how weak they are as they sit back and watch Israel run over Gaza.
The New York Times has shown that the state of Lebanon has not responded to a direct attack on it's infrastructure, nor have they even responded to what amounts to a declaration of war by Israel:



Early on Thursday morning, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at the runways at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, shutting the airport and potentially stranding thousands of visitors at the peak of the tourism season. The Israeli military confirmed the strike, saying that the airport was a target because Hezbollah receives weapons shipments there. Israel also announced that its navy would blockade Lebanon’s ports to cut off such shipments.

“I want to make clear that the event this morning is not a terror act, but an act of a sovereign state that attacked Israel without reason,” Mr. Olmert said. “The government of Lebanon, of which Hezbollah is a part, is trying to shake the stability of the region.”


Now we come to the operating logic:

1) We can blow up an airport that serves as a transportation hub for civilians because we believe (and it may be a fact) that arms find their way onto planes that arrive there. Never mind the, you know, civilians. So the logic here is: If a place can or has been used by any military then it is fair game. OK. In that case, the whole kidnapping thing is fair game since clearly areas and therefore people involved with military activity are fair game. This logic merely leads to tit-for-tat strikes and counter-strikes in which the best armed does the most damage.

2) Since the persons involved in the two soldiers kidnapping are nationals of a state or acted from within that state then the "host" state is responsible. OK. If that is the case, we should expect a Cuban missile strike any minute now since the US has and is harboring persons who have committed terrorist acts against Cuba. One Mr. Posada is still in the US. I strongly doubt that such an attack is imminent because the US is far stronger than Cuba, which is really the operating logic here. Israel is attacking Gaza and now Lebanon not because some soldiers have been kidnapped. No, the reason is because Israel can do so. If the military capability of Lebanon was anywhere close to that of Israel, the airport would be quite functional right now.

The worst thing that can happen now is that the other surrounding Arab states find some backbone and take on Israel and, catch this, If OPEC nations either cease oil delivery or jack the price per barrel of oil up say, 500% and cripple the US economy until Israel chills out. I guarantee that $10+/gallon gasoline would change a whole lot of attitudes in Washington as citizens are made to decide between eating and gassing the car and the ancillary activities that cars encourage.

I wonder if as a result of this attack on Lebanon if Hezbollah (and Syria) will be "invited" if not publicly back into the country.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Blade: The Series

Not since Mask of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe has a piece of fiction been so laced with racial symbolism. For those unfamiliar with Poe's work I'll refresh your memory. Somewhere in Europe during the "red death" plague a king or was it a prince..doesn't matter, decided to throw a party in his castle of many many rooms. There were rooms of varying colors. Of these rooms was one room that was pitch black with a large clock in it. Everyone invited to the party had to wear a mask. So the plague shows up at the party in a red mask and proceeds to kill all the guests. The king (or prince) runs (or chases) the red death into the black room where he attempts to kill the plague with his little dagger. He does not succeeds and dies in the big black room in front of the big black clock. Read the story some time.

Now the Blade series is similarly loaded. Blade a demi-vampire was born with all the powers of a vampire with non of their weaknesses. What weaknesses? Ahh. silver, garlic and, oh yes, direct sunlight. Blade of course is a black man. Now those of you familiar with the biology of melanin know that it specifically protects skin cell DNA from nasty mutations caused by ultra-violet radiation. That Blade is a "half breed" is also interesting given the history of whites to be deathly opposed to interracial breeding; especially with those of the "lowest" race. However; some white supremacists have been quick to note that certain "intelligent" black people had "x amount" of "white blood" which would account for their "intelligence". Significance: All the strengths and non of the weaknesses (except that thirst thing).

So here we have a movie where the main antagonist is a blond haired, pale white man (with accent) who's close confidant is another pale white woman (also blond). The antagonist has a mole, if you will, who is a white female (a brunette) in league with the bald black man who apparently can kill vampires (the majority of whom are white in the show) at will.

In the movie Blade, the main white protagonist manages to get Blade's attention by meeting him on the street during the day. This feat was accomplished by wearing god knows what level of sun block. Now in the series, the vamps are dead set to get themselves immune to garlic and silver (and probably the whole sun thing) but seem to never deal with the whole melanin thing. No doubt Holywood and the public isn't quite ready for the skin color as more than just skin color even if it is dead in their faces.

I'll continue to watch the series despite the clear racial overtones, much like I watch the Lord of The Rings despite it's racial overtones as well.

Denmark Vesey

I stumbled on this article regarding a proposed statue to Denmark Vesey AKA Telemaque. Those who object state:

Darby's timing for a Vesey memorial was ideal. Three books were published in 1999 about Vesey and his thwarted rebellion. But as the memorial gained notice, talk radio lines lit up, with callers referring to Vesey, said talk show host Rocky Disabato, as "the guy who wanted to kill all the white people."

The local Post and Courier newspaper was inundated with letters, many from people aghast that Vesey could be memorialized.

One called Vesey an "advocate of ethnic cleansing." Another called his scheme "a Holocaust."

"The lore passed down is he had intentions of raping and pillaging," said Robert Hutson Jr. , past president of the South Carolina Historical Society, whose family dates to Charleston's first mayor. "We don't memorialize people with intentions of that nature


There is a documentary you can get here:

http://www.innervisionsproductions.com/product/vesey/index.html

A sample is available here:

http://www.innervisionsproductions.com/product/vesey/finalweb/veseyplot.html (QuickTime required)

We don't deny that Vesey wanted to kill white people. It's not entirely surprising given the history of Charleston.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Worker Rights in Venezuela

The LA Times has a nice article on the Venezuelan's government education of workers on their rights regarding safety:

For President Hugo Chavez's socialist government, the film is more than just entertainment: It's become a teaching tool. Since January, in a bid to expose the evils of "savage capitalism," the Labor Ministry has shown the Chaplin film to thousands of workers in places such as this rundown industrial suburb of Caracas.

When the screenings at factories or meeting halls end, Labor Ministry officials then take their cue, and use Chaplin's plight to spell out worker rights under occupational safety laws passed last year and now being applied. They are part of Chavez's sweeping reform agenda that he calls Socialism for the 21st Century.


As expected the business sector has problems with the films rendition of employers:

But the business community here is hardly applauding the film. In a formal complaint to Chavez last month, the four main employer associations in Venezuela said that showing a movie depicting the boss as a "vulgar exploiter of workers" was designed to "generate hate and resentment in the labor sector" and "demonize the employer."

An official at the Venezuelan Confederation of Industries, one of the four signatories, said that the new workplace laws were another example of Chavez punishing private industry, a process the groups say has been unrelenting since a failed 2002 coup led by businessman Pedro Carmona.

While insisting they don't oppose workplace safety improvements, business groups here say that they weren't consulted before the new laws were drafted and that now workers and their delegates have too much power to intervene in factory operations.


It is so sad that workers would have a say in the conditions in which they provide profits for business owners. So sad. I mean the workers shouldn't have a problem with 1500 of their comrads being killed in factory accidents. Instead the business owners apparently preferred that:

Largely at Picone's insistence, the film has been shown 1,000 times in 14 states and has been effective in educating workers who usually have no clue about their health and safety rights. Labor Ministry officials say it's because the most recent workplace regulations, passed in 1986, were unobserved, a "dead letter."

and they apparently have a problem with :
Inspired by the film and the talk from Labor Ministry officials, he demanded gloves and soap from his employer — and got them. But the assembly line still goes too fast, he said.

Metalworker Miguel Moreno also has seen some improvement. "We have more power because we know more," he said. "They've given me earplugs for the noise, at least."


This statement:

Critics say Chavez is merely recycling the failed protectionist economic policies that many South American nations tried to impose after World War II to keep out foreign capital and competition. The policies were largely jettisoned in the 1980s as countries began embracing free markets and foreign investment.

Makes little sense. Think of Argentina which had followed the IMF/ World Bank /US rules and saw it's economy go down the tubes. It was Venezuela that stepped in and relieved Argentina of its crushing debt. What about Mexico, another US ally, whos largest economic engine appears to be the immigrants it sends to the US to remit money to Mexico. That country, which NAFTA was supposed to provide all kinds of economic growth has resulted in...

I'm not going to say that Chevez's ideas are fool proof but given that the IMF and World Bank has head clear failures, I see no reason for critics to act like the US model is like the biblical Mannah from heaven.

But

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Can We Stop The Non-sense? Please?

So I'm over at CNN and read this "stuff":

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (Reuters) -- Worried that her daughters' budding breasts would expose them to the risk of sexual harassment and even rape, their mother Philomene Moungang started 'ironing' the girls' bosoms with a heated stone.

"I did it to my two girls when they were eight years old. I would take the grinding stone, heat it in the fire and press it hard on the breasts," Moungang said.

"They cried and said it was painful. But I explained that it was for their own good."

"Breast ironing" -- the use of hard or heated objects or other substances to try to stunt breast growth in girls -- is a traditional practice in West Africa, experts say.

A new survey has revealed it is shockingly widespread in Cameroon, where one in four teenagers are subjected to the traumatic process by relatives, often hoping to lessen their sexual attractiveness.



It would be pretty easy to ask the women to stop but it is not their fault for wanting to protect their daughters. This problem is caused by men. Period. The men of Africa need to wake up and grow up. I'm really getting tired of reading about the men of Africa abusing Africa and it's children and women. I'm tired of black men in Africa raping virgin girls because they think it will cure them of AIDS. I'm tired of black men in Africa finding any old excuse to put guns in the hands of black boys and teaching them to kill. I'm tired tired of black men forming "revolutionary" movements that consist mainly of buying guns blowing up shit and raping old women.

I'm tired y'all.

I'm tired of the bull.

Sondjata
-tired black man.

Arrested for Talking

Fresh from their recent takedown of a couple of black youths, who did nothing more than:

a) Take an oath to an FBI informant posing as Al-Qaeda.
b) Asked said information for shoes, a car and a camera.
c) Talking junk.

The American Press is full of glee as they report an Arrest in Lebanon of

Assem Hammoud, was a member of al-Qaeda and had confessed to the plot...to attack the transportation system in the New York and New Jersey area


Got that? Scary stuff here right? Right? Well upon reading further we find:

Mr. Hammoud and an unknown number of other people were planning to detonate a bomb in the Holland Tunnel in the hope of flooding Lower Manhattan.



Yo! I'm getting goosebumps. I USE the Lincoln tunnel! Reading further:

Mr. King and Mr. Schumer each said that the plot had been caught in its early stages. Mr. King said that he had been informed of the investigation by the F.B.I. and the New York City Police Department nine months ago.

In a televised interview on CNN, Mr. Schumer said the plot had not gotten beyond the talking stage.

"There's no evidence that anything was ever done, no purchase of explosives or even the sending of money," he said...

Mr. Schumer said the arrest in Lebanon was the result of intercepted Internet conversations. "They were caught by people talking," he said. "In this case, intelligence did its job."



Um, excuse me? Let me get this straight. Some guy was on a chat room. Said some things that he physically could not do. There was no money transfered. There were no explosives or even plane tickets purchased and this guy got arrested? Look. I'm not sympathetic with Al-Qaeda but I have a huge problem with arresting people over what they say or what they think they intend to do at a particular moment in time. You should be very concerned about this too. I know for sure that I have posted items on this blog which can be construed as "giving advice" to a terrorist organization. Having the right to write such stuff is guaranteed by the constitution. Speaking, when it does not directly and immediately threaten the lives of other people, is not a crime. So where is this whole arrested for speaking/writing coming from?

I believe that the reason "law enforcement" feels that they can arrest persons for speaking is based upon hate crimes legislation. Hate Crime legislation criminalizes thoughts or words that are shown to motivate a crime or in the recent Howard Beach case, where certain words are used during the commission of a crime (and I'm not convinced that what happened in Howard Beach was a crime, much less a hate crime, but I wasn't on the jury). In essence you are tried based on thoughts. I have a huge problem with hate crime legislation. If a person committed murder it doesn't matter to me whether they said "nigger" while doing so. So long as a jury will deliberate fairly and convict based on the evidence, then the justice has been served. I have no wish to police what someone thinks of me as a Black man. I simply require that I am not assaulted or murdered.

BUt hey, Why stop at race? Why not put on extra years for people who kill rich people because they hate how rich people act or the simple fact that they are rich?. This isn't a preposterous thought if one follows the logic of hate crime legislation. And of course if one accepts that thought is reason enough to prosecute then why not prosecute people who hate Americans? And of course, that is exactly what we are witnessing. Should anyone speak ill of Americans they can be labeled "terrorist". Should they dare utter some thoughts of killing Americans, like many Americans utter about killing their bosses, prosecute them for...ummm...talking about killing Americans.

The one thing we, as conscious black people know, is that we struggled to get the government to recognize that people have the freedom to associate with whomever you want to. It is the actions that the individual takes (or does not take) that makes him or her a criminal. Being a member of Al-Qaeda may be a bad idea, but I'm cannot arrest someone for that association. What I can do is monitor anything that is legally permissible until I have enough evidence that the person has moved beyond verbal intent to actual actions (purchases of bomb making material for example) to then monitor him or her fully and/or make an arrest. This is how law enforcement works. Yes, it is an intelligence victory that these individuals were "caught" discussing a plot. but discussion should never be a crime in a free society and a free society does not have to make discussion or affiliation a crime in order to be secure.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Notes On The Hamas Government

The thing that the current Israeli "incursion" into Gaza make profoundly clear is just how little power that the so called Palestinian government has. I think the term "so called" is appropriate given the complete lack of governing and defense (a basic requirement of any government) that this entity is providing. I think any reasonable person would realize that had an Egyptian national "kidnapped" an Israeli soldier, there would be far more talk going on at the moment. I would hazard to propose that there would probably be some sort of exchange being discussed. However this post is not about what should and should not be done by the Israelis or the actions (or lack thereof) of the international community(tm). This is a note on what the Palestinians need to do if they intend to do more than be a bystander or canon fodder. I wrote back in November of 2004 right after the death of Arafat:

Ultimately though, what has and will continue to stymie the PLO and the Palestinian people is their lack of an economy. That a large majority of palestinians had to depend on work in Israel to make a living is simply inviting failure. Ultimately Israel could afford to simply cut off economic ties with "Palestine" and simply watch them die off. I suspect that "the wall" is a part of that plan. When I was studying Nkrumah's and Fanon's writings I learned that it is not the struggle that is most important but the state one wishes to create. In ones struggle the group must put into practice that which is desired in the end result so that the people can see that the fight is not for the fight but for the life after the fight. In my admittedly limited understanding of this conflict, the PLO, Hammas et.al have been so focused of the removal of Israel (which will not happen so long as the US is it's military benefactor), that they have not even considered a "plan b", A Palestinian state. A state however limited geographically or economically can legally purchase arms without legal interferance. a organization with the label "terrorists" cannot. a Palestinian State, however limited can demand that Israel remove illegal settlers. In fact even a limited Palestinian state could 'deport" any settler within it's borders.
The faster the PLO understands that this anti-colonial struggle is militarily unwinable, the faster it can move to "plan b". Hopefully a part of that 'plan b" is an India type move into information technology. Until then, Palestine will contine to be the playground of the Israeli Military and a testing ground for the US military with poor women and children being the primary victims as more prosperous Palestinians move to other countries and live relatively well.


I want to reiterate this point because Israel, in its blatant and illegal show of force is doing it's best to let the Palestinians know that Israel is in control. There is no place where the Palestinians are that the Israelis cannot go, bomb or otherwise lay siege to. Palestine in Israel's "bitch" and having "gotten out of pocket", is getting corrective behavior, pimp style. I renew the call for the Palestinian government to realize that they cannot defeat Israel (the US by proxy) militarily. However, just because Israel cannot be defeated militarily does not mean that Israel is not defeatable. I propose that since Muslims all over are so concerned with the "ummah" which I would presume includes Palestinians, The Saudis and other rich Arab nations should invest in the infastructure of what we'll call "lesser palestine" (Gaza, etc.). The aim here is to create an economic situation whereby Palestinians by and large have no need to go to Israel for employment or much of anything else. I suggest that the Palestinians cease and desist from any more attacks on Israelis. After decades of fighting exactly what has the "intifada" really done for Palestine? Seriously? While many many young men have "given their lives" to the struggle, Israel is still here, has a far better economy (with much help) and is growing geographically. For every Israeli killed by a suicide bomber, how many Palestinians have been killed? When Hamas took office, the "international community(tm) threatened to turn off the aid tap, which immediatly threatened the government with bankruptcy. This is some kind of joke right? This whole resistance struggle makes for good television and probably puts more money in the hands of Time Warner subsidiaries than any Palestinian.

The second thing that needs to happen is for the other so far "loud mouthed" Muslim nations around Palestine, the ones who have much to say about the situation but apparently don't have enough faith in "Allah" to grant them a victory over Israel, or are simply just too shook, to find their backbone and:

A) develop their military to disciplined units as to not be subject to the same humiliation they were handed in the 7 days war or more recently the fly over by Israel of the president of Syria's home. On a related note: Just how sloppy is your military to even allow a jet from a hostile state to even get that close shows the simply lack of discipline and professionalism on the part of the Syrian military. I assure you that if Syria had flown a plane anywhere near Prime Minister's Olmert's residence, that plane would be in a million pieces and the pilot would now know whether there were in fact "replenishing virgins" waiting in paradise for him.

So as much as the recent incursion into Gaza has shown the clear disrespect that the Israelis have for International law, Democracy, or Palestinian civilians for that matter, so to has it shown the impotence of the Palestinian "resistance leadership" and by extension that of the Arab states around them who have taken no steps to protect their fellow Arabs. I hope that the Palestinian people are taking a long hard look at the burnt out shells of so called "government" buildings and thinking about a new direction.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Chavez: Pan-Africanist

D-sekou, the DeskRat has posted a piece on Hugo Chavez's visit to the Gambia where he stressed the importance of self reliance in Africa, A unified Africa and a for cooperation of Africa with Latin-American countries. We agree wholeheartedly and will simply point you to the posting here:

http://deskrat.blogspot.com/2006/07/in-venezuela-we-were-tired-of-all-our.html#comments

We like the opening quote from the website:

"winning most of the votes doesn't make chavez's government legitimate" --idiot whitehouse spokesperson

Mr. Williams Get's One Right

I don't usually find myself in agreement with Walter Williams but lightening has struck and I find myself on the same side as Willy. In an essay posted to the Walter Williams site at George Mason University Mr. Williams discusses the seat belt laws:

Virginia's secretary of transportation sent out a letter announcing the state's annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign May 22 through June 4. I responded to the secretary of transportation with my own letter that in part reads:

"Mr. Secretary: This is an example of the disgusting abuse of state power. Each of us owns himself, and it follows that we should have the liberty to take risks with our own lives but not that of others. That means it's a legitimate use of state power to mandate that cars have working brakes because if my car has poorly functioning brakes, I risk the lives of others and I have no right to do so. If I don't wear a seatbelt I risk my own life, which is well within my rights. As to your statement 'Lack of safety belt use is a growing public health issue that . . . also costs us all billions of dollars every year,' that's not a problem of liberty. It's a problem of socialism. No human should be coerced by the state to bear the medical expense, or any other expense, for his fellow man. In other words, the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another is morally offensive."


Mr. Williams discussion here is extremely persuasive. I am of the opinion that the inside of one's vehicle is one's private property and the police have no business looking into said property without my permission or a warrant. The reason police can look inside your vehicle without my permission is because you need to be able to look outside. Hence laws on the books that prohibit tinting not because of any public safety issues but because police can't see in the vehicle are particularly odius to me. But that's not the genius behind Willy's remarks. No, the genius behind his remarks which is highly relevant to the actions of President Bush is that the state enforces seat belt laws (and even has them) because the state wishes to regulate your personal activity which does not have any detrimental effects on anyone else. If there is anything more definitive of a "victimless crime" it is the non-use of seat belts. In fact the lack of seat belt use cannot cost us "billions of dollars in medical expenses every year' because if one does not wear a seat belt then during an accident, one is either killed outright or suffers various injuries. An insured person would be a "burden" to his or her insurance company, not the state. If the person is not insured then we have an issue with health insurance not of seat belt use or non-use. Of course this is where Willy and I part ways. I have no problem with "socialized" healthcare. Nor do I mind being taxed for it. I do have a problem when the state hands these tax dollars to so called "medical management companies" that apparently specialize in telling doctors what not to do for patients. It is also arguable that like the prison industry accidents, like crime, provides jobs for people in a wide variety of fields such as trauma, fire, ems, police, etc.

There is another reason for this problem with the concept of "protecting us from ourselves" reasoning for government intrusion: Speeding. There is simply no evidence to prove that speeding, in and of itself is the cause of an accident. Yet the states in an orgy of "road taxing" citizens set up elaborate traps and impose astronomical fines for doing something that is "victimless." Lets be clear, I'm not talking about the fool doing 50 on a local street. I'm talking about doing 80+ mph on an interstate with little traffic. The use of cell phones actually causes accidents. People blocking the passing lane, leading to people having to use their brakes on interstates causes more accidents than any speeding. Yet blocking a lane or obstructing the flow of traffic results in a lower fine and lower points on a license (if any) than speeding.

Anyway, the whole "I know best for you" syndrome has also given us President Bush who has the opinion that he can decide which laws he will and will not abide by. It is the same philosophy of "We're looking out for you" or what the Republicans have called "Big Government (tm)", but with this presidency has become what we have called "American Big Man".

Another clear example o government overreach into the personal liberty of citizens was the Terry Shiavo case. That was another example of certain lawmakers telling citiens how they should live and die mostly based on some religious faith.

All in all we should be careful over why we enact certain laws. Government should be enacting laws that protect us from each other not from ourselves.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sistas in Space

Following in the footsteps of Mae Jemmison we want to wish Stephanie Wilson a safe trip on the Shuttle Discovery.

Faith, Religion and Politics

Barak Obama gave a presentation in which he says that Democrats need to "embrace faith". Says Obama:

"I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death," Obama said. "It is an active, palpable agent in the world. It is a source of hope."

"At best, we may try to avoid the conversation about religious values altogether, fearful of offending anyone and claiming that--regardless of our personal beliefs--constitutional principles tie our hands," the first-term senator said.

"At worst, some liberals dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word `Christian' describes one's political opponents, not people of faith,"

as a Democrat, he has fallen into the same trap as many in his party who have come before him, remaining quiet about the role faith has played in his life for fear of engaging in the conversation on religious values.

Obama said that while America's religious gap has been manipulated by the likes of such evangelical conservative leaders as Rev. Jerry Falwell and broadcaster Pat Robertson, Democrats have remained on the sidelines. And that, he said, has to end.

"Over the long haul, I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people, and join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy," Obama said.

"And we might realize that we have the ability to reach out to the evangelical community and engage millions of religious Americans in the larger project of American renewal," Obama said.

"No matter how religious they may or may not be, people are tired of seeing faith used as a tool to attack and belittle and divide," he said.


I think that Obama is mistaken in his analysis here. I think this speech is a clear pandering to a group of people he probably wants or needs should he wish to run for higher office. It is also a strategy that the Democratic Party is going to use in order to attempt to "retake" the House and Senate. The problem here is that there is a mixup between organized religion and faith. People have faith in all kinds of things and people. We have faith that our vehicles will not break down on us while we are driving. We have faith in people to do the things they are expected to do. No one has an issue with faith. What people like myself have problems with is organized religion and it's input into governance. Some of us have issues with organized religion itself. I am not one of those people. Organized religion is the codification of particular faiths, For example the belief there is a devil or not. The belief in a "returning" God or not and other things that cannot be substantiated but some people decide to organize their thinking around. The problem with most organized religion is that they are often replete with contradiction. For example Christians and Muslims believe that killing is wrong but most will make exceptions for whatever thing they deem is necessary. The other problem with many religions is the co-option of common sense social contract issues. For example a Christian may say that stealing is wrong because God says so. A person who does not believe in God will say that regardless to what any religion says, stealing is wrong because it is deprives a person of their goods. A Christian and an Atheist may agree on the fact that stealing is wrong but some Christians will insist on adding that God says so. The Atheist may argue that such addition is unnecessary and the Christian side will argue that such an objection is oppressing their beliefs. Hence a part of the conflict.

The other part of the conflict is painfully obvious. There are so many different organized religions that it is simply impossible to acomodate them all. This is the primary reason why "progressives" should not stoop to pandering to so called "people of faith". Nor should "progressives" who categorize themselves as "people of faith" insist on the inclusion of "faith" in the role of politics. Furthermore; "Faith" in America is usually synonymous with "Christian" which in a multi-religious country is simply discriminatory. Many Christians mistakenly think that as the majority religion in the country that they get to define what will be legitimate "faith". Of course if the government were to take sides then it is endorsing and establishing a de-facto religion in violation of the Constitution. The proof of this is that if school prayer were to be introduced in public schools and the prayer was going to be in the form of Buddhist meditation, I know many many Christians who would object. How do we know this? In Michigan there is a town where there is a large Muslim community. They have petitioned to have their call to prayer broadcast by the Mosques and the Christians object. Now how can one object to a call to prayer if you are a "person of faith"? The town wanted to pass and ordinance to prevent the call but ran into problems because it was clearly discriminatory in that church bells would be exempted.

All in all I think the Democratic Party and so called "progressives" ought to push the logic behind the separation of church and state as a defense against discrimination and religious tyranny. They should stress that separation of church and state is not an encroachment on the personal lives of any religious group (except that which conflicts with the law).