surgical strike: modern mendacity

It is encouraging to think that there is a burgeoning democratic reform movement afoot in Islam. That is the hopeful message of Thomas Friedman’s latest piece entitled Brave, Young and Muslim.

It is amazing to me that so many Americans do not seem to have even the slightest understanding of Islam and its history. More amazing still that so many Americans do not have any better understanding of their own history. I think if one looks thoughtfully at the progress of Western Civilization, you can see much of where we have been in what Islam is today.

It is easy to forget that our not so distant past harbored a lot of stuff that we do not comfortably claim as our own history. It was in the West after all that Galileo was jailed for nothing more than telling what he saw in his telescope. It was in the West that Albert Einstein had to flee his home for no other reason than being born of those descendants of Abraham that the Nazis chose as the objects of their hatred. And within the life times of much of the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon community we have seen even here in The Land of the Free a time when there were still separate drinking fountains for those born with unacceptable skin pigmentation.

The point is that the West had to have its Renaissance, Enlightenment and religious reformations along its hard climb to modernity. And the birth of Liberty came only at the ends of gun barrels and many centuries of slowly wresting power from the Monarchs. That we collectively undertook and survived those transforming movements is certainly to our credit.

But the attitude that is often heard that Islam is unsuitable for various institutions of modernity is certainly not to our credit. These attitudes are borne of a cultural arrogance that equals that of radical Muslim fundamentals. It is my firm belief that given time Islam will reform as has the other great religions of the World and that perhaps along the way an element or two of modern thought will be found rightfully worthy of their rejection.

I do not necessarily share Friedman’s belief that the time is now, but I certainly share his hope. After all, if the time is not now then we may have a few long centuries in front of us.

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67 thoughts on “surgical strike: modern mendacity”

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  2. Randy P,

    If Tony just read your mentioning of CEO pay to me, he is probably searching for the blog moderator delete key. He is probably saying to himself something like… “for god’s sake, don’t mention CEO pay to Common Good”. You wouldn’t know this, but I have spent many weeks of my life ranting about public company CEO pay. I can’t go there again and do that to the Curm again. 🙂

    Progressive means constantly looking for better and more cost effective solutions to social need/common good. I think it is not possible to cover our common good needs with “volunteer only private charity”, therefore I think it is immoral to promote that ideology.. i.e. the result is immoral, not necessarily the motivations. This leaves us only one path in my opinion, and that is to continue to strive for efficiencies in the federal programs THAT MUST BE FEDERAL. If we didn’t have to spend so much time beating back the GOP knuckledraggers idea of “private only charity”… maybe we would have already developed better solutions. It’s a myth we have to rehash year after year. It’s a no-brainer to include “motivators” and “behavior change incentives” like you suggested with “a required family member to show up for work”, but it’s not as simple as that. We have failed entire populations of poverty for decades… i.e. consider the urban plight any many of our large cities. You can’t just show up one day with your “tough love rules” and expect it is as simple as that. I’m pretty much convinced we will have to OVERPAY on the common good front as our pentence for ignoring the needy for so long. In the same nation we have families with dynasties of wealth passed down from one generation to the next, and entire portions of cities locked into an endless cycle of poverty. No since arguing ideology about it… it’s just reality. There has to be a breaking point at some point where the crime statitics driven by on obscene wealth gap becomes unbearable… but it will be much more costly to act then than now.

    Speaking of crime stats. Curm, the civil rights zealot hates it when I say this… but I’m actually for more surveillance of public places (public streets, malls, apartments, etc.). I think the level of crime that we all absorb and accept has already reached a level that demands more surveillance. Civil liberties and law enforcement is always a balancing act… your liberties don’t mean jack when you are being the victim of violent crime. You were joking about human GPS systems, but how awsome would it be to actually be able to catch the serial killer or child rapist after his first crime, rather than a lifetime of crime? Throw in terrorism, and I say surveillance will be a part of our lives from now on… like it or not.

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  3. OK, great Andrew, you have just fed the fire of pro-choice. Why’s it got to be so difficult. Here is what you are saying in relative terms. In the case of adults…

    We implant the Onstar system into every human being that includes GPS and a heart monitor, that way we can cross reference the time of death with whose GPS was there at the time, problem solved. Murder rates drop drastically, and you have a pretty iron clad case in court. Even in the case of assassination, you can do a reverse trajectory and find the location of the shooter link to GPS, bang you got him. What a wonderful world it would be……HAHA

    Look I agree that there are certain freedoms that we can not take away NO, and I say again, NO CPS nazis. No Doctors reporting pregnancy. You do the same thing you do with any homicide, you figure out if there is one, you investigate; you find (if there is criminal action) the perp’s, then you prosecute. Since this is not a matter of national security, or an act of terrorism, you do not have to worry about the Patriot Act (am I opening up another can of worms here). My wife would scream if she heard me say this….It does not have to be all or nothing. That being said, I do not believe that Roe v. Wade is going to be overturned anytime in the near future, well it will be overturned, but not by us, in this millennium. As Andrew alluded to, it would be nice if there were some compromise in this, figure out a way to make partial birth stick in liberal courts, and yes tax and regulate the crap out of it. Frankly, and I do not have girls, but it just rubs me completely wrong that a school authority can take a minor girl to get an abortion without the parents every even knowing about it. It is like there is no responsibility any where.

    That being said, I am not totally against the morning after pill, there is more anonymity as to the actual conception, I think this should be the case for rape also, that should be a guarantee for the victims. Of course that would open up another can of worms in that you would have girls crying rape when it never really happened, course for teenage girls it really does not matter it is rape, huh?

    You said,

    1) I believe you have the right to contribute to private charity at your discression.

    Yeah, but it is not my choice right now, and the Federal Govt is the private charity. And there is no discression.

    2) I do not equate common good to charity. If we all deserve healthcare, and someone that finds themselves out of work gets covered by a federal pool, I would not call that charity. I would call it federally pooled insurance.

    If we all deserve health care, where does that stop, when someone obviously does not care enough about themselves to lose some weight and eat healthy. Why do I have to be part of a system that forces me to care about someone that does not even care about themselves. Why can’t we have a social medical system that pays out according to what you put in, like social security, oh yeah that system will bankrupt itself if we don’t do anything about it in 40 years. Health care would be the same way. This country can not afford socialized medicine. Not the way Americans view a free buck.

    3) I do not believe all folks receiving a government check are rump sitting lazy ingrates

    No you are right and I am wrong, I was over the line here, and over generalizing. However in the what, several decades of welfare, we have not yet come up with a way to control it, why do you think we can do anything about that now, if it is broke increase the responsibility of the Govt to provide more? Hey I believe in a helping hand, I also believe that City, and States need volunteers daily, I think the welfare system should be bid out to a “pro source” of temp agency, the can learn some computer skills go out to temp jobs that can not afford actual trained professionals, instead of sitting in an office for hours just waiting to fill out paper work. Sit there and wait for a temp job, you get paid , according to a fair welfare system by 1. the hours you are willing to wait for that temp job, and 2. if you work, for the work you performed. At least this way some one is not just sitting at the house as a lazy degenerate. I guess this eludes to your comment #4. Let me know if I am off base on that though.

    This could also be part of the low income housing need, if you are on the street you can live at the low income housing, but at least one member of the family has to show up everyday for temp work. This would also ensure that a minimum wage is reach and guaranteed to all. And on that subject…The GOP is coming to the table with a $1…and change raise to the minimum.

    I have no problem with a progressive tax system, and you know what, here is a little socialism for you. I have no problem tying a CEO’s salary to the profit margin of a company, that way they can make a great salary, but their salary does not trump the fact that they have to employ workers.

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  4. Randy,

    “Why do you believe that I do not have the right to decide how to give my money to charity. Instead we have a behemuth of Govt programs that dish out millions for people to sit on their rumps and be lazy.”

    What I believe:

    1) I believe you have the right to contribute to private charity at your discression.
    2) I do not equate common good to charity. If we all deserve healthcare, and someone that finds themselves out of work gets covered by a federal pool, I would not call that charity. I would call it federally pooled insurance.
    3) I do no believe all folks receiving a government check are rump sitting lazy ingrates, but certainly some are. I’m think we need to always strive to filter out bogus assistance, and improve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in our programs. That said, it’s impossible to be 100% cost effective, and a percentage of the “undeserving poor” slipping through is much better than blowing of federal pooled assistance for such reasons is idiotic. America, particularly the religious right is big on making a distinction between the “deserving poor” and the “undeserving poor”. Europe just says “it’s government’s job to look after the needy”, and lives with some mistakes.
    4) I think social needs/common good that can be handled by the private sector, should be handled by the private sector. Government has never been the first choice. Social Security came about because the private sector wasn’t serving the need. You can say that for all social safety-nets. One caveat… any common good receipt should never require any form of proselytizing from the private entity delivering it.
    5) So I don’t view our societies common good needs as a “private volunteer only charity” enterprise. For example, we should not have the right to pick and choose which uninsured family gets health insurance coverage based on the whims of the neighbors or community. Some stuff just has to be done together, federally pooled and funded with taxes, in our complex society. It doesn’t need to be a ideological argument… it’s a practical reality… or as our blog host would say… a knowable absolute truth. 🙂

    I’m a progressive / liberal. I apply a simple approach to all common good/social policy definition in our society.

    1) Define common good requirements … the stuff we all need and deserve
    2) Determine the most cost effective delivery methods for that common good without regards to ideology. If private sector serves the need best, devise schemes around that. If public means are required, attempt to just have federal command and control, with private competition under that control. Total Public/Federal delivery is a last choice, but never off the table because of ideology (be that religious church only charity ideology, or small government ideology, or any taxes are violations ideology, etc.)
    3) Based on common good definition, and delivery mechanism requirements, fund those needs with federal taxes. Common good, by definition, is federal common good/right, and therefore always funded with pooled federal taxes. Our tax system should remain heavily progressive. Our current form of capitalism leads to a small percentage of the disproportionately wealthy… i.e. a huge wealth gap.

    Other than that, I have no opinion on the matter. 🙂

    Andrew, congratulations on being the very first pro-lifer I have ever witnessed take a shot at defining what illegal abortion enforcement would look like. It’s an uncomfortable exercise to have to back up the pro-life compassion with the reality of enforcement. I’ve come to the conclusion that making abortions illegal would lead to total chaos… i.e. it’s not really doable. The problem is, it’s one of those things many would have to witness to believe. A similar “have to see it to believe it” is the desire by many to get rid of programs like social security. I wish there were ways to pilot test some of these belief systems, so we could answer some things for once and for all. Maybe something like Texas opting out of Social Security and seeing how it fares. The problem, obviously is with federal pooled programs (think insurance and shared pooled risk)… you are either all in or not.

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  5. Ok, here is a probable scenario regarding the enforcement of abortion laws in the absence of roe v wade.
    First, you have The CPS nazis requiring the woman’s doctor to report any postitve pregancy tests. Of course, over the counter tests will be illegal. 2nd, the CPS can require the woman’s doctor to to give all records to them for investigation. In the case of a miscarriage, there would be an investigation to see if it was induced. Any woman found guilty of a back alley abortion could face capital punishment, or at least 35-30yrs. A doctor would face the same. There would be a black market for day after pills and so on. A pretty scary sight. Is this justification for not enforcing a law? No. The correct course is to restrict abortion severely but nake it possible for a woman to abort in cases of high risks pregancies that would endager her health. It is better to regulate the hell out of it than to make it illegal. Heck they could put a huge tax on it. They could have a commitee of doctors, shrinks and social workers to approve or disaprove them. Anything to slow them down. They could require you to get counseling, etc. Anything besides making a woman a criminal. The state could pay for the costs of adoption. I heard that some young lady brought a 2 week old to the fire station and left her. Under Texas law you can do that up to 2 months. The goal is to save the life of the baby, not to make women criminals or invade their privacy. 2/3rds of all abortions are in the first trimester and are had by young single women. The govt ought to spend more effort on deterring this by offering incentives to women who carry babies to term and are married. They could get scholarship money or even a grant for a home purchase. Of course, the neocons will oppose this. Heck, if they won’t raise the minimum wage, they wouldn’t do anything else

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  6. OK, abortion is off the table, I certainly do not know how to handle everything that you call for to ensure that it is punished correctly. I guess I do not see how you can not consider that a human life…and then where does dependence stop and the ability of the mother to decide to abort the child begin. And what about Ms. Shivo and her dilema, a husband that has begun a new life will not even consider a divorce and allow the parents to bear the burden of her medical costs. And we are wasting tax payer dollars for this venture in insanity. Do I think that we can control all abortion, no, that door has been open long enough that it would resemble prohabition. Even I would not look forward to that. I would like to just acknowledge that life does have a certain sanctity and at some point before the actual first breath should be protected. Middle ground that is all I am asking about right now. And as far as freedom goes, I have lost the freedom to decide whether or not some one capable of fending for one’s self is worthy of a contribution. Why do you believe that I do not have the right to decide how to give my money to charity. Instead we have a behemuth of Govt programs that dish out millions for people to sit on their rumps and be lazy. And faith based is not money gushing into churches, it is what you want, helping hands to the needy and poor. Isn’t that what you are concerned about. That was your statement earlier, you would rather see the child die, because he is guarnteed a ride to “heaven” and to help the lazy…sorry needy. What better way then to allow organizations that have hundreds of volunteers at the ready, that “believe” it is their obligation to help all.

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  7. Randy,

    “I really hate to hear about “the woman’s right” when it comes to that, how can you be worried about the welfare of someone that has the capability to go out on their own and get a job, and not worry about the welfare of the unprotected.”

    The short answer is I don’t believe in the sanctity of “being born”. I do beleive in the sanctity of how adults treat each other and construct their sociities. When I consider the inhumanity that takes place on this planet daily, stopping an early pregnancy doesn’t even make the top 1000 list. There are lots of ways to divide humans into worldviews on the planet, but I think the most obvious one is to divide us based on if we are religious or not. A part of the population believes in a religious rule book… a guideline or template that SHOULD be applied to our societies and laws. A second group (which would include religious folks that treat religion more as a private matter) come to the table to make laws and moral constructs based on the ability to reason, conscience, practical considerations and consequences, etc… i.e. it’s a human driven policy rather than a supreme being driven policy. I decided a long time ago, god or not, what’s going on down here on mother earth seems to be in our hands. We are doing a piss poor job, IMO (In My Opinion)… and part of that abject failure is because of the total lack of collective safeguarding of the needy in our world. I find belief systems “that you have what you have because a god granted it” to be exactly the kind of superstition that prevents man from evolving a better collective world. As long as we make excuses, religious or otherwise, to accept this planet as being the playground for the wealthy few… we will be a moral failure. I guess many believe that must be the way god wanted it. So for me, it’s easy… I don’t see much sanctity in how humans treat each other, and therefore no sanctity in birth. I think we are all put in a tough spot without our choosing, and the best we can do is work together to make the best of it. Ensuring that every conception makes it to the fray doesn’t seem like compassion to me. In your belief system, the unborn probably go to heaven.. right? If they are born, don’t they enter the heaven/hell lottery? If they blow it… they end up in hell. So with your compassion, their eternal souls get put at risk. I guess there would be some irony and guilt if one’s compassion lead to another’s eternity in hell.

    OK.. here’s my new rule regarding talking about abortion. I will not debate it unless the pro-lifer charts a course of enforcement if abortions became illegal. I will require details of sentences of doctors, women, clinics. I will require details of pregnancy monitoring… where,when and how often. I will require a projection of laws that cover the situation where US female citizens choose to fly overseas to have an abortion. I will require some kind of estimate on the likelihood of back-alley abortions and deaths of desperate women. Changing laws of this magnitude aren’t as easy as wearing your compassions on your sleeve… serious consequences are involved. I have never heard a pro-lifer give a second thought to how enforcement would be carried out. This one issue has this nation locked in deadlock… unable to progress or evolve. It keeps the GOP knuckledraggers in power by allowing them to inflame the base with this issue, plus an ample supply of gay bashing. Part of me wants to see the GOP get their way on abortion and the gay marriage ammendments. I’m a middle age heterosexual with no kids… I would be curious as hell to watch the GOP get to enforce their wish lists. No abortions, no New Deal Great Society safety-nets, continued gay bashing and discrimination, Christian theocracy-lite, federal money gushing into the churches, outsourcing of middle class america, prayer back into public schools, removal of almost every federal agency except of big bad ass military, 5% tax rates … did I miss anything? Yehaaaaaa…. world, don’t mess with Texas/US.

    OK, I feel better now. 🙂

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  8. CG,

    If you are asking that question then maybe you do not really “get” religious zealotry. They give the GOP a pass, because their faith allows that God will provide for them what they need for today, tomorrow and the future. I for one do not believe that I am where I am by my own accord, it took the blessings of the Almighty, and he is awesome, to get me here. They are not worried about how the wealthy gets “padding”. Hey question to anyone what is “IMO”. Thanks in advance. What is important to the zealots is the welfare of the unborn child, and we do understand every day that this is a life and not some parasite to be discarded by society. I really hate to hear about “the woman’s right” when it comes to that, how can you be worried about the welfare of someone that has the capability to go out on their own and get a job, and not worry about the welfare of the unprotected.

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  9. Your GOP anti-average Joe recent accomplishments:

    Healthcare bill (GOP = yes) – $billions for the healthcare corporations, average Joe can’t buy cheaper Canada drugs (seems a bit anti-consumer choice and goverment regulation from the consumer choice and anti government crowd… how ironic… how did that happen).

    Bankruptcy bill (GOP = yes) – make it easier for the credit card industry to collect debt from average joe’s who have been wiped out by things like medical bills. Nothing to police the credit cards companies from pushing their crap on an ignorant average joe public.. just help out the billion dollar credit card companies squeeze out another $1 or two from those in crisis. (i.e. no addressing of healthcare crisis which cause 50% of all individual bankrupties)

    Miminum wage increase (GOP = No)… what else needs to be said about who these guys are batting for. Hope that works out well for Randy P’s lost rights.

    Look, I get religious zeaoltry. If one’s definition of “what America should be” is based on religious zealotry, one isn’t going to compromise. What I continue to not get, is why the religious right gives these GOP corporation snake oil salesman a pass on padding the wealthy and laughing at the needy. The religious right siding with these guys puts themselves in a very unholy alliance IMO. There are normal Republican out there… but they are not in charge. I’ve heard Whitman (Ex-New Jersey governor, EPA under Dim 43) promoting her book lately. She is a normal person… a Republican… and she doesn’t want any part of the crazies either.

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  10. CG,

    You ask, “what other than the maximized common good could be moral?”

    Well, lots of things that are moral aren’t necessarily best for the common good and visa versa. For instance, the death penalty is clearly in the best interests of the majority, yet a bunch of people (not including me) find it immoral. Slavery arguably maximized common welfare.

    You can take this further quite easily and I won’t bore you or me with that exercise. Utilitarian analysis as a governing analytical tool always breaks down because it leads to really bad things.

    This of course is not to say that utilitarian analysis has no place. Indeed, it has an important role in determining what public policies are desirable. The primary arguments of both the left and right are rooted in the notion that each provides the greatest good for the greatest number.

    But to ask or answer what else could be moral is to move into a subjective realm of philosophy, religion and the nature of truth. And I think my record on the source of Truth is very clear.

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  11. “He will do what is right, without cowing in to the special leftist socialist groups.”

    Good god. Bush 43 is nothing more that a corporation parading as a human being (thanks for the line Ralph).

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  12. Randy,

    “The leftist special interests”

    Pawaaaa!!! That is so RICH coming from the Reps. The GOP is nothing more than a corporation parading as human beings (GOP Senators and Congress critters dressed up in suits).

    A pregnancy is none of your business or the governments.

    Randy P… here’s your chance. You have an audience. List for us the rights that have been taken from you. We are all ears/keyboards.

    And Tony… what other than the maximized common good could be moral? Giving ourselves license to ignore the plight of the needy in our society by holding up the “individual rights get out of jail card” is about as immoral as I can imagine. Maybe the founders thought we would make the right “common good” decisions along the way by giving us individual liberties to make those calls. Doesn’t look like it… not from where I’m standing. You can’t legislate morality, but most laws represent a compromise against human nature in one form or another. If there wasn’t consequences, more people would steal, etc. It’s way past time to make universal healthcare access law. It’s way past time to allow corporations to dictate healthcare costs for our nation. It’s way past time to allow mainly the poor to fight our wars for us. Randy P’s rights are what’s left after common good has been served. We already do that in the US (although poorly). It’s comical how people rant about unlimited rights when they have never had that in the US in the first place.

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  13. Randy,

    The label “counter-majoritarian principal” should be nothing objectionable to individuals on the left or right necessarily. It is a fancy label for an ordinary set of ideas. If anything, it would be obnoxious to the left that believes in utilitarianism and that maximization of the common good is the moral goal. Ironically, the modern Radical Christian Right is unthoughtfully accepting some of the premises of the left in trying to implement their agenda.

    But have no fear. Here at the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon we aim to bring order to the intellectual chaos which reigns in America. Hang in there: this may take a while.

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  14. Yoshi,

    The Screwtape Letters is excellent as well, but for very different reasons. But pretty much anything by Lewis is commendable. It occurs to me that you might also enjoy a book that I have long recommended: Francis A. Schaeffer’s < HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0891072926/qid=1110291716/sr=8-8/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i7_xgl14/002-2571407-5012069?v=glance&s=books&n=507846" REL="nofollow">How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture<>. If you aren’t familiar with Schaeffer, you should be. This book was one of his last and it is a fast paced survey (and critique) of Western Civilization from a Christian perspective. What makes Schaeffer so compelling is his unshrinking grappling with modern philosophy-he doesn’t shy away from the “hard topics” but rather embraces them. Other of his books are more substantive, but that one is a great introduction. I reread it a year or so ago and I will say that the end of the chapter looks a bit dated where he is discussing how communism fits into the flow of history.

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  15. Your kidding right, “counter-majoritarian priciple” yeah right. I agree that the founding fathers had great ideas, hopes and aspirations for this country. Problem is we squander them at every turn to appease special interests so that votes can be counted. And as laws change and equal protection under those laws becomes skewed, you want me to buy into an ideal that it is all for the best. Not me. Things are going way over board in this country. Everything is getting jumbled up by the unthinking left. Why five people can take away every right that a person can have is beyond me. And I am not talking about majority rule to reduce rights, in a country as diverse as this one there can not be a perfect system that gives every right that every special interest group wants. There has to be a balance, an equality that just is not there now. The leftist special interests have perverted the system beyond fair and reasonable. Where in anything did the founding fathers state that there would not be equal protection under the law.

    CG
    What is wrong with overturning Roe v. Wade. It is amazing to me that you can not see the life in the child aborted. Where is the responsibility for people to realize that “this may get me pregnant” A woman has the right to chose to abstain, not kill. It is murder, plain and simple. And like it or not he is your President, and a fine one at that. He will do what is right, without cowing in to the special leftist socialist groups. Socialism does not work, human nature will not allow it, as well as being nice, all the Dem’s what to do is take take take. Frankly I am a little tired of giving right about now. When some rights start getting returned, then I will be happy to start a nice long compromise with leftists.

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  16. Tony, thanks for the book suggestion. As it happens, I think I have that book at my grandmother’s lying around somewhere (since I don’t see it on my bookshelf here.) I haven’t read it yet, but it’ll be next in line. I have the Scewtape Letters as well, but I’ll save that til afterwards.

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  17. Randy,

    Thanks for the kind words. I think if you will hang around that you will find that we can definitely disagree agreeably.

    One point I would like to make, and pardon me for oft repeating myself, is that the majority does not rule in all matters here in the United States. I know, this is a shock for most people, but if you think about it, it is true. Constitutional Scholars call it the “counter-majoritarian principal”. The idea, which is infused throughout our founding documents, is that in the realm of human rights, the majority does not get to call the shots. You should be thankful for this because we all benefit from it.

    Part of the genius of our Founders was their recognition that majority rule stinks. That is why the Constitution holds many checks on majority rule.

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  18. I just listened to a line of GOP senators defend not raising the minimum wage. You just can’t believe the creativity of these knuckledraggers. GOP must stand for Greedy Overdressed Primates.

    I am starting to see signs that even the GOP Congress Club is having a hard time swallowing 43’s ideological tyrade. They must be starting to hear from the folks back home. Marching in line like lemmings is good sport, but a bunch of pissed off constituents is a real drag… not than anyone has any real risk of losing their job.

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1803&e=6&u=/washpost/a12185_2005mar6

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  19. Tony,

    Your piece on “real men of genius”, very well writen. All y’all on this blog are very well spoken, sorry I have to ruin that with my uneducated babble. Well not really uneducated, but certainly not as well read as everyone else, I am trying to catch up though. I like the piece though, and although I would love to see more morality legislated, that is up to the majority, and elected officials that we place in such positions so that our words and thought are heard and acted apon. My problem with most of this secular vs. religious battle is that any society can have a few lunk-heads that ruin it all for everyone. I don’t look to this country to go to Leviticus and get it’s foundation for law, or to re-write the bill of rights to incorporate the bible or biblical views. We do however have a good foundation, that was laid out for us, and I would only pray that society in general would see that life would be sweater and the grass greener for all if there were a little more accountability for those that want to push their agenda on society as a whole. These special interest groups, should have a say, but for a party (no names here) to pick up every little special interest and push them down our throats to get votes, well that don’t sit well with me. That is why I support what “the chimp” is doing. At least he have a view and opinion and is not wishy-washy about what ever his voting base is screaming about.

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  20. What exactly is he so “dim” about anyway.

    CG
    I am not saying that we have to pull every law from the book of Leviticus, not at all. We do need to look at the morals of society, when a certain few are given the right to kill and others are not. Or even when certain groups are given more protection under the law than others. The Bible gives a good basis for morality, and I think we are getting way off course. Again, not speaking of forcing Christianity on everyone, but look at the morals of society, the divorce rate, and the family as a whole, it is all heading down hill.

    And on the whole

    “btw… Curm suggested a very practical idea off-line… No new religious items on public property going forward, leave the pre-existing ones alone. Democracy is compromise, and I would sign up for that one to put a stupid subject to bed. Now if we can just get Dim 43 off of this “putting a stake in the heart of New Deal Safety-nets” US tour… and get him back on protecting the harbors and borders… “

    This is a great idea, I am also OK with just removing them. I think that we have to come together and decide what we want as a majority for the country. If we are going to be completly secular, let’s do it and get off the fence. Gay marrage and the whole lot. And yeah let’s get rid of the other two commandments, it is biblical after all.

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  21. “I guess I’ll just have to take your word for it that you aren’t disrespecting the institution when you say that.”

    The public disrespecting the institution… that’s hilarious. LOL! We may very well be disrepecting our obligation to be at least informed enough not to get bent over… but it seems our elected types don’t need any help from us on the disrespecting front.

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  22. CG,

    My, my. Such a small point to get you all roiled up over. I guess I’ll just have to take your word for it that you aren’t disrespecting the institution when you say that.

    He may be a Dim Chimp, but last I checked he resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Alas, I think he’s ours whether we like it or not.

    Like

  23. Randy,

    “What I am trying to say is we are a majority of Christians, and for a moral consideration, our laws, as long as they do not violate the “Bill of Rights” should reflect that.”

    And I am saying they opposite… our current law now has nothing to do with Christianity or the bible. Only two of the commandments are law… murdering and stealing. You can have muliple gods, and covet the hockey out of your neighbors stuff… even his wife (unless of course you get caught).

    Welcome to the Curmudegeon fray Randy P.

    btw… Curm suggested a very practical idea off-line… No new religious items on public property going forward, leave the pre-existing ones alone. Democracy is compromise, and I would sign up for that one to put a stupid subject to bed. Now if we can just get Dim 43 off of this “putting a stake in the heart of New Deal Safety-nets” US tour… and get him back on protecting the harbors and borders…

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  24. When someone says “he isnt’ my president”, they aren’t digging into constitutional law to profess that opinion. Doh! They aren’t particularly interested in the legalities of the definition of our goverment/democracy. They are more likely expressing an opinion, that in their lifetime, they have never witnessed a more ideological zealot in our White House. They are probably reflecting the reality that this president doesn’t make a distinction on his “with us or against us” between terrorists or democrats. In short, this president has no interest in being everyone’s president, so those of us on the non-whacko radical right have no interest in claiming him as our president. He is frickin embarrassing as hell. The Dim Chimp (killed two birds with one stone) is using our tax money to gas up Air Force One and fly around the country trying to sell the end of guranteed old age insurance… i.e. selling the end of the social security safety-net. He is selling “individual risk” rather than “guaranteed insurance”. The ideology is dripping so bad from the “private accounts snake oil selling” that it’s laughable. The private accounts are pure ideology, and they are trying desperatly to attach solvency to it, like they attached WMD to Iraq. Commander-in-Con. This Dim Chimp, with his incredible lack of intellect, has decided he’s the man to finally deliver on the Cato’s of the world’s decades of plotting to undo everything FDR New Deal. This president sells WMD, to force feed democracy in the Middle East. This president sells “personal retirement accounts” to kill Social Security… so he can later kill any other form of safety-net. This president sells tax cuts for the wealthy as economic stimulus… and then claims that stimulus has to be permanent as if they were the 11th commandment. This president sells greed and packages it as “it’s your money”. This president sells faith based initiatives as correcting discrimination against the religious… the Dim Chimp doesn’t really understand the seperation of church and state. You can’t really “kind of” seperate. Very, very dim. This president sells “obstructionist democrats” in order to pad the court and overturn Roe vs Wade. This president sells the gutting of long established EPA laws as getting government out of the way of business. This president sells rampant outsourcing as the signs of a healthy economy… yeah healthy for his corporatation cronies. If this president’s lips are moving… he selling bs. Not only does he talk in **** up sentences, but he doesn’t even tell the truth about what he’s selling. It really cracks me up when you hear the Fox talking heads say “at least you know where he’s coming from”. Well, the conservative think tanks know where he’s coming with. Red state america really doesn’t.

    In short… HE ISN’T MY PRESIDENT… 24 x 7 until he’s gone.

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  25. CG,

    I agree that a monument of the 10 commamdments is not something we should have in front of our courts, or in front of any Govt. institution. Memorials on the other hand I would say should be what they are. If a man of great stature were a Christian, and his memorial depicts such is, I believe of a different nature. And I say this with the certainty of the litmus test, would I want someone to have a memorial that was of a differing faith to have that faith represented there. Yes. Although our constitution has no mention of God, or established religion and providence, our laws are based on a degree of morality that was based in biblical morality, in the evolution of those laws we have gotten far from that morality, whether you think this is good or bad is not relevant

    “Yeah, and my tennis game was founded on a wooden tennis racquet. I think Jefferson was the one who said “our democracy is for the living… not some dead founders who are now worm dirt”.”

    I do not think, and this is my opinion, that the founding fathers thought we would take such drastic variations of their words as we have to conform not only the constitution, but our legal system to be so twisted.

    “We are nation where the majority are Christians, and not a Christian nation. It’s hard to believe how many of our own population doesn’t understand the difference.”

    What I am trying to say is we are a majority of Christians, and for a moral consideration, our laws, as long as they do not violate the “Bill of Rights” should reflect that. Our laws should not reflect a decidedly single handed view of some to swing the special interest groups for their vote.

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  26. Randy,

    I have written on the topic of our founding by Christians often in the past. I think it is easy to forget what < HREF="http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/2004/05/real-men-of-genius.html" REL="nofollow">real men of genius<> they really were. What I point out in there is that while yes our founders were unquestionably men of a Christian world view, that only makes more significant that the Constitution contains no references to God, Creator or even Providence. What our founders understood is that institutional religion, when possessing enforcement powers, historically has always worked for evil no matter what the overt intentions might have been.

    You said, “I do not have anything against pluralism…”. I think you perhaps unconsciously might in fact have a problem with pluralism. I would say that I accept pluralism in the same way I accept that the Pacific Ocean is large-simply an objective physical description of what I see. Why is this something that you seem to think is yours to accept or reject?

    On bashing the President’s policies, let me say that I do find that disturbingly easy. I hope you do not feel that any of my bashing is directed at you personally-it certainly is not. Having grown up among the group that has morphed into the Radical Right, I would not assume you are among them and if you were, I would not question you motivations. Now, I do often question the rationality of those that blindly support the man and give him the benefit of the doubt no matter how dubious the situation might be.

    I share your horror at the remark, “look what YOUR President has done”. Of course he is my President just like Clinton was before him. That is a statement of legal position and the respect I show is for the office. Now if the man is contemptible, then there are ways of expressing that, but stating “he isn’t my President” is to evidence contempt for the entire system.

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  27. Yoshi,

    I have heard remarks not dissimilar from your many times over the years. Forgive me if you have already read it, but I would like to commend C.S. Lewis’s book < HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060652926/qid=1110207558/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-2571407-5012069?v=glance&s=books&n=507846" REL="nofollow">Mere Christianity<> to you. It isn’t an evangelism type of book at all, rather just a good read on the basics of what Christianity is. I think, sadly, the contents of the book would shock most contemporary Christians if they read it. Not to mention this book is worth reading just to learn more about what effective writing looks like-it is a masterpiece. I suggest this because I think it will appeal to the exact sorts of areas of thought you seem to be interested in. No doubt there is much profit in this book no matter what one’s philosophical outlook.

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  28. Randy,

    “The fabric and morals of this country were woven of Christian values with Christian ideals, that is to say the ideals of Christ.”

    I don’t know about fabric, but our laws are based on the Constitution. God was never mentioned in the Constitution.

    “Not to beat or force Christianity on other cultures that assimilate into our society, but to embrace, love and tolerate them so they would not feel like outcasts, but have equal stake in the future of this country.”

    It’s an oxymoron to tell a non-Christian once they assimilate into a “Christian nation” they will have an equal stake. It’s an oxymoron to put 2 ton 10 commandments in the courthouse, and then tell non-Christians they are equal under the law.

    We are nation where the majority are Christians, and not a Christian nation. It’s hard to believe how many of our own population doesn’t understand the difference.

    “Our country was also founded on Christian beliefs and morals.”

    Yeah, and my tennis game was founded on a wooden tennis racquet. I think Jefferson was the one who said “our democracy is for the living… not some dead founders who are now worm dirt”.

    OK.. I added the worm dirt part, but Jefferson (or one of those old founding geezers) did say something like that.

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  29. I do not have anything against pluralism and tolerance, but our country was founded on more than just these principles. Our country was also founded on Christian beliefs and morals. In order to figure this out we have to look at who our founding fathers were, yes the were rich pompous land owners, but do you read anything in any of the declaration, or constitution that shows they were out to keep the rich, rich and the poor, poor. We should also evaluate what our founding father believed and where they think they were headed as they wrote the earnest words of the constitution. The fabric and morals of this country were woven of Christian values with Christian ideals, that is to say the ideals of Christ. Not to beat or force Christianity on other cultures that assimilate into our society, but to embrace, love and tolerate them so they would not feel like outcasts, but have equal stake in the future of this country. The problem with this, is the same problem that Christians have had through out history, and this is the difference between Christians and Muslims, we show love kindness and tolerance to other cultures and as they assimilate into a Christian culture. The culture then begins to lose their morals and values and start on the road to secularism. Muslims will not allow this to happen, that is why their form of government will always be theocratic.

    Tony
    Have faith, any nation that will allow freedom will eventually find itself as secular as England, Israel, and yes the god ole US of A. This is the natural course of history, and with the advent of the internet, I can say with some degree of certainty; Iraq will either revert to theocracy, or go the way of secular states such as ours sooner than 200 yrs. As far as pluralism, I do not disagree with that, if your definition is correct. That is not exactly what we have today in this society. We have several well placed left facing judges that are deciding what the majority in this country will have, and I am not talking about separation of church and state, I am talking about a core value of principles, such as life. Anyone that can think it is the woman’s right to decide on the termination of a child, just because it is her womb is out in left field, but again I get of track. Sorry

    Also
    I see you find it easy to bash Bush on his policies, and you believe that his endeavor is to try and make Iraq a mini American democracy. He may have hopes and dreams that this may happen, but he has never said so. Yes he continues to call it democracy, but he has always allowed for it to be a democracy that they fashion, not that we dictate. Please do not get me wrong, I remember clearly the day that this country invaded Iraq. I worked with a rather outspoken democrat, and I happen to generally be republican (yes on the right side-not to say correct, just right) anyway, the first words out of his mouth, as you can imagine were, “Did you see what your President has done now”. You can imagine my surprise to be attacked like this, and this has irked me since the 2000 election was won by Bush, whether you voted for him or not he is our President, but I digress. My response my shock some, although I support what the President did, because he is our president, and congress voted to give the authority, I did not believe that the invasion was the correct thing to do at the time. I do believe that even though the Iraqi people will be better off now, if they can maintain fair and free elections, the fact that we did not find WMD’s proves we moved too soon and recklessly.

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  30. “I think you might be surprised that there are more than a few thinking individuals around that call themselves Christians. We have the great examples of C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer and scores of modern Christian intellectuals. I personally try to walk humbly in shadows of these giants. Maybe numerically most Christians are intellectually naive, but then so are most of Democrats, Republicans and atheists that I have known.”

    Yes, Tony, I considered you when I wrote that about Christians. And don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of Christians I have personally met who exceed my expectations in terms of intellect and faith. I didn’t by all means mean all of them. Actually, the people I most admire in this world are Christians. When I spoke generally of them I rather meant more of the ones you’ll meet at colleges and high schools. “J.C. is cool.”

    Bono, of the band U2, is a Christian, and according to what he has said about himself, reads the Bible every day. Each of his songs nearly all are paraphrases of Bible verses, and are the most incredible pieces of wisdom I’ve ever heard. His wife claims he reads 6-7 books in a day (Speed Reader, I guess). On account of people like that (or C.S. Lewis, M.L.K., Tony Plank), I still put myself in the Christian catagory with a certain amount of pride.

    I would even call myself a Christian as well, but it is so generalized I don’t even know what that means anymore. I’d feel just as comfortable in a mosque as I would a Catholic Church. God is just God at this point. All the colors are bleeding into one.

    You know, for example, I was talking to this girl the other day at work. She was a Christian. We were working at the Fort Worth ISD, and there were pictures the kids drew about “Peace on Earth” on the wall. One picture had the Earth colored on it, and Jesus was above the Western Hemisphere, and Satan was above the Eastern Hemisphere. So I pointed it out to her and said, “notice how Jesus is standing over America and Satan over Asia?”

    I couldn’t believe it but then she proceeded to tell me how she was in Thailand on a missionary trip and she felt everyone was “evil” there, because they didn’t know Christ. Now I spent a little time in Thailand. Those little old ladies there are no more evil than the little old ladies here. They have kindness, love, compassion. They are not “evil.” That’s f***ing nonsense.

    And then she gave me the line about “only through the Son can you get to the Father….” I disagree. I think those Buddhist have as much of a chance of Heaven as she does, if not more. If you love God, you love God. I don’t think “He” really cares what name you use for “him.” In Matthew many people who accepted Jesus were denied Heaven at the end, and many who didn’t accept Jesus were permitted in, on account of their doing for the “least of my brothers.” She was stumped when I gave her that verse.

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  31. Yoshi,

    You said, <>“For all practical purposes I’m a monotheistic agnostic. Most of us who actually even think about these things are. And the ones who are really still “quote-unquote” Christians are the really naive ones who just don’t do a lot of honest reasoning with themselves.” <>

    You must have known I would take exception to that.

    Just because the majority of people who call themselves Christians do not have a depth of belief is not in any way reflective of the underlying value of the belief system. I think Christendom is a victim of its own economic success. When getting food for the next meal is no longer a concern, it is far easier to give yourself the credit than to turn to God. That is what Jesus spoke of in Matthew 19:23-26:

    <>Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.” The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?” Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” <>

    You see Yoshi, hypocrisy has been with us a very long time. I wonder how committed the majority of Muslims will be once they are economically prosperous? Check out how Shintoism is doing in Japan these days.

    I think you might be surprised that there are more than a few thinking individuals around that call themselves Christians. We have the great examples of C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer and scores of modern Christian intellectuals. I personally try to walk humbly in shadows of these giants. Maybe numerically most Christians are intellectually naive, but then so are most of Democrats, Republicans and atheists that I have known.

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  32. Common Good wrote: Yoshi… you truly bring some interesting perspectives to the discussion :), but I’m not ready to commit to your broad brush promiscuity theories just based on your personal “score” percentages.

    -don’t get the wrong idea. They are not really based on my “personal score.” (Though I wish they were sometimes. Many times I thought a girl was off limits because of her faith only to find out she was pretty experienced).

    I have seen 9 out of the Christian girls who “are living for Christ” lose the “fire” once their teenage years wore off. And even if they still “love Christ,” they are going out and doing the things they shouldn’t be doing. You know how many kids I have heard accept that peer pressure line about saving it for marriage, only to see that commitment break down at the first boy they even meet? Too many to count. It’s pretty rampant, at least here in Fort Worth. I’m sure human nature couldn’t be that much different up in Oklahoman, in fact, it must be worse there.

    So I don’t have personal experience in finding out how resolute Christian girls really are (okay, a little I guess). But I do have personal experience in “not realy believing in (my)religion.” And the guy who initiallly said that does as well. Basically everyone I know who was brought up Christian isn’t one now, and all of our parents were very devout, so you can’t blame them.

    I once talked to a priest about how I didn’t think I was a Christian because I just didn’t “feel it” like all the other little big-mouth fundamentalist zealots. And do know what he said to me? He said that he has heard many of the others confessions, and that the louder they broadcast their faith, they more doubts they express in private.

    As for me, I only believe in “my religion” on a superficial level. For all practical purposes I’m a monotheistic agnostic. Most of us who actually even think about these things are. And the ones who are really still “quote-unquote” Christians are the really naive ones who just don’t do a lot of honest reasoning with themselves. (0r maybe they’ve never taken mushrooms.)

    Muslims, on the other hand, are different. I have some Muslim friends. They are girls. I have never even seen their hair before. Ever. Get some vain American girl to do that. Get her to do it for God. She won’t.

    On a related note:
    I have a “conservative” uncle who’s always whining about liberals and sex and homosexuality. I’ve been thinking about Common Good’s remarks about the similarities between Muslim and Christian Fundalmentalists. I see it too. It’s ironic my uncle can be critical of a country like Saudi Arabia because that country has a moral police, all the girly pictures are torn out of the magazines, no abortion or birth control, you get whipped for not praying publicly. No homosexuals. No girls in bikinis at the beach. Gee whiz, you’d think it would be a conservative’s paradise there. But alas, conservatives only talk the talk. Muslims believe in their God.

    Anyway, I think the point I’m making still is the Muslims beleive in God on a deeper level than we do. That’s why they are willing to die for it.

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  33. Yoshi… you truly bring some interesting perspectives to the discussion :), but I’m not ready to commit to your broad brush promiscuity theories just based on your personal “score” percentages. Maybe it’s just your techniques and mushroom proclivity? 🙂

    Saurav… I think you make very good points, but you have to define the context and audience for one’s purposes. Most US citizens wouldn’t even have a clue that the Muslim world was the modernity of the times at one time. Some of us required 911 to actually take an interest in the Muslim world… but most still aren’t interested at all. We are for the most part ignorant of the rest of the world, and I think there is definite consequences to that. I read Bernard Lewis’s “What Went Wrong” and was amazed of the ironic and sad reversal of fortune over history. Small steps first… I would be thrilled that most of the American public just knew that the Muslim population was the leaders of the world at one time. It would go a long way to removing the racist and sterotyping ignorance.

    btw… I am feeling very, very down today. Yesterday I learned that I am in fact an oppressed American. I don’t have kids, and yet I am forced to pay taxes for public education. I’m oppressed, and I’m not going to take it anymore. 🙂

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  34. Saurav,

    I don’t disagree with your last post at all. But the problem always is where you draw the line. Buddhism had its impact felt as far as modern Afghanistan. Descendants of Genghis Khan ruled India for a very long time. Islam has heavily impacted regions from Spain to Bosnia and India to Indonesia. Islam benefited from education the intellectual legacy of both Greece, Rome and China and then conferred their learning back to both. The impact of Greece, Rome and Christianity historically reached as far east as India.

    While I may disagree as to what are appropriate or inappropriate generalizations, your points are well taken. I find it tragic how few people appreciate the interplay of < HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0195090616/qid=1110032468/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/002-2571407-5012069?v=glance&s=books" REL="nofollow">Islam and the West<> over the years. And more shocking still how many people think the current conflict over Palestine is a modern phenomena. Hopefully we can all do a small part in helping to increase this awareness.

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  35. <>But, if you look at the last 2,000 years, for the most part East and West have been divided culturally. No, there isn’t some clear demarcation and East owes much to West and West to East. I think the biggest problem with the East-West distinction is that both constructs obscure the differences within. The West is arguably more homogenous than the East, but speaking broadly of the West is inevitably fraught with peril as well.<>“West” and “East” are loaded terms and not particularly descriptive. My point is that it doesn’t make sense to talk about the history of the Middle East as distinct from the history of Europe and the Mediterranean. The intellectual traditions that originated in Classical Greece and Rome (which is where most European historiography has traditionally decided to start writing) were carried forward by Islamic states in North Africa, Iberia, and the Middle East while Europe languished culturally. It’s hard for me to believe that the Renaissance could possibly have happened without that intervening Islamic intellectual work (like bringing the concept of zero to Europe or copying the works of Aristotle). So, if we decide to talk about a cultural “West”, I think those Islamic societies ought to be included.

    Further, Islam is directly rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. This is in stark contrast to the Hindu-Buddhist-Jain tradition or Confucianism.

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  36. CG,

    I totally understand that you claim that you view that your own position “has NOTHING to do with curtailing others rights and everything to do with not letting the Religious right curtail the rights of others.“ This is my key point. Those are just words. The substance of the policy clearly and objectively curtails my rights. As I said before, your state of unreality on this point is simply amazing.

    You said, “We haven’t invented the ala carte tax system you say you require for your rights to not be violated… seems like an unreasonable position until we develop that tax system.” To which I would counter, if you want to have a public school system and respect my right to free exercise of religion, there is no choice but to develop one.

    Besides, I have often proposed an equitable solution: school vouchers. It exists, it just doesn’t meet your millions of tests. I suppose it seem unreasonable to you, but that is an easy position to take when it isn’t your rights being violated.

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  37. Tony,

    “Secularists find my desires wholly unacceptable. They do not wish that I have this freedom. They are convinced that I am some bigoted freak and that my child’s mind must be pried away lest he be corrupted.”

    Good god… do you look for the black helicopters also? Read my lips… 99% of who you would call secularist have no agenda… other than not allowing the religious right to hijack this country. It has NOTHING to do with curtailing others rights and everything to do with not letting the Religious right curtail the rights of others. Not even close to the same thing. My comment had nothing to do with wishing you didn’t have the freedom… just an observation that kid schooling segregation has society assimilation issues. Read my lips… there is no secular conspiracy against you… folks just don’t like being told we have to do the religion thing in public and in public schools. We haven’t invented the ala carte tax system you say you require for your rights to not be violated… seems like an unreasonable position until we develop that tax system. Just my public education two cents worth…

    Back to the democracy movement in the Middle East. Friedman makes a good point. What’s going on in the middle east is likely a tipping point like the fall of the Berlin wall. Unfortunately, in this case there isn’t the same advanced economy waiting on the other side of the wall.

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  38. Andrew,

    I for one do not believe that a Reformed Islamic Country will look exactly like a modern Western country. Frankly, I don’t have a clue about what is a logical way they may change and evolve. I would guess it will look more like a European country than it does today, but still be very different.

    I have had friend in law school who was a former CIA Middle East analyst. He was quick to disabuse me of the notion that these folks are just champing at the bit to blow themselves up. Still, the point is well taken: they are clearly more likely to sacrifice themselves than your typical American.

    But let me be clear and say that I don’t think that modernization in Islam will unfold quickly by the standards with which us moderns measure. The modernization of Japan, as rapid as that was, was still over a one-hundred year proposition. At a minimum you have to hope for a couple of generations to pass before the hatred quiets down so a hundred years may be optimistic given the seeds of unrest we are presently sowing.

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  39. OK, y’all type too much, let me just say this. I did say “your pluralism and tolerance”. You will have to wiat till I get home to expound, then y’all can pounce all you want. Long Live the BLOG

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  40. Back to the point at hand, and in response to the plankster’s hope for modernity in Islam, I ask This question: How far is it from suicide bombers to getting a suicide drink at 7-11? I guess you could say that in the west we would sell our soul, our mama or certain body parts for the right price, but as culture I can’t fathom any cause that we would give our lives for. Perhaps in the education of young muslim boys and girls that blowing one’s self up for the cause is cool. After all, money will be in the mix for the survivors and heck, how about those 70 virgins? I don’t know if the lures of MTV, fast food, jeans and other pop fare is enough to change that part of the world. A 50 million dollar ransom on the head of OBL hasn’t seem to hace done the trick.

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  41. CG,

    You said, “The subject is freedom… and one faction pushing to define that freedom for everyone else is freedom-lite…”. Yes, I agree. So why are you doing that to me? This is the shocking thing about your worldview: that you can’t see the contradiction. I have begun to believe that it is just a false position maintained for the sole purpose of avoiding inconvenient facts.

    But you tip your hand and express exactly what is at the heart of the secularist movement when you say,

    <>First, note this is the parent’s worldview. Kids don’t have worldviews… they can be presented with broad brush strokes and allowed to develop their own path, or they can be force-fed a parent’s/factions curriculum. <>

    This is the crux of it. I do not want my child to develop his own worldview. Certainly when he gets older he will make these decisions for himself but I want to make sure he is old enough to appreciate the finer points before he starts making his own choices. I make no apology for this and consider it my honor and duty as a parent to lead my Son in the direction of Truth and not let him simply flail in the gobbledy-gook of destructive ideas which frame our modern world.

    Secularists find my desires wholly unacceptable. They do not wish that I have this freedom. They are convinced that I am some bigoted freak and that my child’s mind must be pried away lest he be corrupted. If this is the way the world chooses to view me, I can not control that. But for the time being, I can control what goes into my Son’s head and I stand firmly opposed to modernity’s abject destructive pseudo-philosophies. I refuse to participate in the intellectual watering down which permeates our nation. This is why my Son’s first biography, which we will start reading tonight, is a biography of Frederick Douglas. This is why my Son will be taught that Truth is Absolute. And most importantly, I wish to teach my Son to not begrudge the secularists their freedom just because they begrudge us our own.

    Ironically, what all of this means is that though I support public funding for education, I can not support public schools. Public schools lead to the silly and wasteful discussions of the questions such as, ”If we put praying back into public schools, how do we manage that?” We should not “manage” that at all. We should allow parents to chose schools that fit reasonably well to how they want their kids to be educated.

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  42. “Suggesting that education can be had divorced from a worldview is absurd outside the realm of teaching the trivial.”

    First, note this is the parent’s worldview. Kids don’t have worldviews… they can be presented with broad brush strokes and allowed to develop their own path, or they can be force-fed a parent’s/factions carriculum.

    Suggesting that education requires worldview tailoring is the same as saying we can’t teach our kids in groups. What two families share the exact same worldview? Maybe your response is “belonging to the same major category of worldview is sufficient… i.e. belonging to a Christian worldview”. But, consider the variations of Christian beliefs, your’s in particular. How can a teacher satisfy your requirements integrating Christian beliefs the “right way” in her class. Let’s say there are 30 Christian parent’s children in the class. Some of those parents are fundamentalist strict scripturist (is that a word), some believe the general teaching of the bible, but don’t take everything literally, etc. How is it possible that a teacher could satisfy these two parents?

    I believe in taking these debates to their logical conclusions and exploring the result if you get what you want. If we put praying back into public schools, how do we manage that? If we figured out how to run an ala carte tax system regarding public schools, and you had the money in your hands, will the Christian based school make you happy/happier…. or do you still end up needing to homeschool because religious beliefs are personal and no good for group education? If we allow two ton ten commandments in the Courthouse, do we also allow two ton Korans? Do we have free expression zones? Can you free expression forever, or do you have to take turns with limited floor/wall space? If we make abortions illegal, what will the enforcement mechanisms be? Doctor jailings? Women jailings? Mandatory pregnancy tests at federal facilities? Pregnancy tests at hospitals? Pregnancy tests at work? Would it be illegal to fly to another country and get an abortion? If we know that’s what the female did, do we jail her when she gets back? If we get rid of the government safety-nets, will the have-nots have to pray a prayer of acceptance to get fed and get their medicine?

    You could call all of this off topic, but I would disagree. The subject is freedom… and one faction pushing to define that freedom for everyone else is freedom-lite… even if you get to make your blue vote in your red state every 4 years. What some call secular invalid belief systems is what I call freedom. “Valid belief systems” that are defined by implementing that belief system on others is the opposite of freedom. Using David’s word… we have our own Bushiban problem here at home. How the heck are we suppose to be a role model for other countries?

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  43. Saurav,

    OK, perhaps you can not “neatly” separate the history of East and West, but I do not think that makes the distinction illegitimate. There were certainly racial overtones in creating much of our history-and I do mean “create” literally because within limits I support the approach of historiography.

    But, if you look at the last 2,000 years, for the most part East and West have been divided culturally. No, there isn’t some clear demarcation and East owes much to West and West to East. I think the biggest problem with the East-West distinction is that both constructs obscure the differences within. The West is arguably more homogenous than the East, but speaking broadly of the West is inevitably fraught with peril as well.

    And I certainly understand that speaking of Islam as a monolithic whole is at least as unfair as speaking of Christianity as a whole. Still, I do not think generalization is automatically illegitimate and I think one is hard pressed to have a political conversation and always parse such things with the rigor you are suggesting. And sometimes when such parsing is possible, I fear one can lose a general audience in the attempt to get everything perfectly correct. It would be my hope to generalize in as fair a way as possible and I actually do try very hard at that.

    As this is applied to the discussion before us, I think that I am lucky if I can get across the point that Islam has a great deal to say about non-Islamic people ruling Muslims and their land, then I am doing well. If I can get that point across, then perhaps the nuance will become relevant to a larger audience.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to have you make these distinctions here, I just want to be candid about where I am coming from when I write.

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  44. Some nuance:

    1) I don’t believe that there’s a “Western history” that can be neatly separated from the Middle East/Mediterranean. European and Middle Eastern history are inextricably linked together. If Classical Greece and Rome are going to be considered part of “our history” then so should the several hundred years during which Islam was a driving force of sophisticated cultures that were producing technological innovation (and treating people fairly decently in some places, like Spain). The so-called “dark ages” are just a time when the locus of civilizational development was elsewhere. In other words, the whole construct of classical-dark ages-renaissance smacks of racism (not by you, Tony–by the creators of it).

    2) There is not one “Islam”. There is a Shi’a Sunni divide obviously. Politically, this is even more relevant, as there are also various nationalities who have different takes and have changed differently. For example, even within the context of South Asian Islam, Bangladesh initially developed a secular, somewhat socialistic state with minority protections (although it’s changed for the worse in my opinion). Meanwhile, Pakistan has been marked by more corruption, turmoil, and political and religious repression.

    If you look more broadly, can you really talk about Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia in one breath and still make truly meaningful statements about politics? People’s attitudes and worldviews are markedly different in those different places in the world, and the states that govern those societies are different as well. This, too, I think, smacks of essentialism.

    Yes, I agree there is a political component rooted in Muslim history and, in some sense, many versions of Islam. This should inform how I look at issues like “separation of church and state” in predominantly Muslim societies. However, the political aspect of Islam probably plays out different in different places, and in some societies, it may be sidelined for more “Western” notions of the nation-state.

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  45. CG,

    Talk about rehashing old arguments. I feel compelled to respond lest some inference be made from my silence.

    Suggesting that education can be had divorced from a worldview is absurd outside the realm of teaching the trivial. You can certainly find your examples such as the fundamental three Rs. But the second you touch on anything significant such as the social sciences, literature and art, you are off in a world that compels digging into one’s world view. Teaching a child rhetoric without speaking of philosophy is like teaching a child physics without speaking of gravity.

    In other words, you might keep a kid in school for twelve years, but at the other end they will not have a real education. This is what we do today and it is the most immoral result I can imagine. The waste should shame us all.

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  46. “Sending a child to a secular school that teaches that all world views are equal is unacceptable to a Christian worldview.”

    Public schools are not teaching world views, including yours…. they are teaching academics. I’m pretty sure they don’t have a class titled “a world tour of equal and valid world views”. I think they are actually teaching english, math, science, etc. I hope the hell they aren’t teaching “Christianity is best and all other ideas are unacceptable”… because those little people will make up society in the future. We are already polarized enough… maybe religious intolerance can subside in the future. I think school could at least be one place without the religious brainwashing. Why would religion need to be 24 x 7? You know I’m not saying I want the government to outlaw parent school choice brainwashing … just making the observation that if parents feel they have to divide Johnny out from the population even in grade school… what does that say about our pluralistic reality going forward? Kids learn society assimilation in school… would it be better if they learned that after high school? I don’t think so. I hope going forward that there is less desire for parents to segregate kids based on adult belief systems. Extreme examples are Pakistani Madras… where they teach the children hate and intolerance. Private religion… a good thing. Public religion… a bad thing. School is a public experience, unless taught by parents at home.

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  47. Tony,

    “Law then is man’s attempt to build a social contract that prevents one man from arbitrarily seizing the right of another.”

    That’s only part of it, and not enough…. which was my point. Law also includes <>Warning, babble to follow<> … collective aggreement. Your freedom in the United States is defined by your human rights PLUS collective aggreement. The start of the collective aggreement was framed by the founders…. sort of, briefly with preamble. I am making the challenge that they framed it from a elitist, male land owner perspective… therefore framing our initial definition of US citizen freedom from an economic winner perspective.

    “In other words, even if I accept your end point, I would not view it as a insufficiency of law built on human rights, but rather a social failure to see a need for caring for our fellow man.”

    I agree, we could have made the constitution anything we wanted over the last couple of hundred years. Maybe we would have followed a different course if more “collective” thought had been part of the original constitution. How about this in the original preamble… “this nation, through it’s government, will be committed to taking care of it’s old, sick and needy.”. That pretty much would have set the tone for a more moral framework going forward. Is that an overreach on “arbitrarily seizing the right of another”… I say no, I say it would have been a much more moral government from the start. 100% individual freedom without collective obligation is immoral. Even if you are willing to give the founders a pass (I am not), you certainly have to fault many currently avoiding social need by singing the praises of tradional/original intent. Maybe we wouldn’t have a president leading a party by flying around the country lobbying to get rid of safety-nets.. BECAUSE BY GOD IT’s THE GOVERNMENT. I continue to believe that a species that views it’s government as an enemy is a species made up of morons.

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  48. CG,

    Yeah, if figured you would get stirred up on my public schools statements. We’ve been through all of that here before and I don’t know that it is worth repeating unless a newer reader wants to carry the ball.

    The short version is that it absolutely is different than almost anything else in our society. We are speaking of the right to raise my child as I wish it to be raised. Sending a child to a secular school that teaches that all world views are equal is unacceptable to a Christian worldview. If you take my money through taxes and tell me that unless I have yet more money to send my kid to a private school then this is my only choice then you are absolutely interfering with my free exercise of religion.

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  49. CG,

    I thought you were going to finally get a clear statement of human rights out with out degenerating into collectivist babble, but then you said:

    <>Murder, tax evasion, etc. are not human rights because we have collectively made it illegal by law. <>You continue to be muddled in your thinking in my view. Either human rights are intrinsic or not. I think the logically following and correct statement is recognize that our human rights are only limited by the rights of others possessing equal rights arising out of their humanness. Law then is man’s attempt to build a social contract that prevents one man from arbitrarily seizing the right of another. The act of Murder is not a right because it profoundly interferes with the rights of another and the Law codifies that system of inter-related bundles of rights bumping into each other in the course of life.

    You said also,

    <>Individual rights are fundamental, but not sufficient IMO. <>

    Well, that sounds kind of good, but it doesn’t make sense. The entire legal system is built upon human rights. What do you propose to add to human right to make the legal system sufficient? In my view, human rights are a foundation and we build a system of laws upon that. If you want to have a decent society, social safety nets in some for are considered essential to the vast majority of Americans. Hence we voluntarily yield our rights to the government for creating a just and decent society. In other words, even if I accept your end point, I would not view it as a insufficiency of law built on human rights, but rather a social failure to see a need for caring for our fellow man.

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  50. Tony,

    If you consider public schools getting out of the religious business oppression of Christians, then I figure you can pretty much conjure up charges of oppression anywhere you want. It’s not a reasonable stance, so one can’t have a reasonable debate about it with you. Christians oppressed in the United States?… you have to be kidding me. It looks pretty much like a wave coming from the opposite direction to me.

    It’s not oppression when a faction doesn’t get it’s way, getting to force it’s belief on others. A public school isn’t teaching against Christianity by not teaching it in school. Get a grip… that’s ludicrous. Nobody is asking you to consider everyone’s ideas as equally valid… who ever asked you to do that? Somone says “we can’t all do it your one faction way”, and you hear invalid belief system oppression. You really should get out more. 🙂

    I don’t know how self-righteous I come off, but I know I can’t touch the religious right’s absolute truth arrogance. Not even a contest.

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  51. The subject of this blog is the potential spread of democracy and freedom in the middle east. It occurs to me that in most of these types of debates, we tend to regard “freedom” as a generic term. I want to challenge that and maybe stir debate. Some might start defining freedom as freedom from one’s government, but that would have no meaning without listing what parts of government you have freedom from (i.e. by definition 100% free of government means no government). This observation logically leads one to a discussion of our “human rights”… our immutable rights from our “humaness”. In our constitution, we assume everything is a “human right” unless we take it away by constitution/law. Murder, tax evasion, etc. are not human rights because we have collectively made it illegal by law. Any country will define it’s Freedom through collective/representative aggreement and law. Our nations freedom was framed/defined with our constitution. Consider the context of our initial constitution. There were no blacks, women, native american indians, muslims, acknowledged gays, etc. at the table when our founders defined our freedom. Our freedoms were defined mainly by white elite Christians. Freedom/government could have been defined with or without collective social obligation. Obviously it was defined without social obligation, other than the preamble written by Gouvernor Morris… which was strongly argued against at the time. This all begs the question… if you were an economic winner at the time, and you were making the rules, what incentive would you have to even consider collective measures which might threaten your position in life. What could be better to guarantee the continued outrageous wealth of a few than a minimum goverment freedom mantra. Tony has made the argument that you have to consider the times, and the lack of wealth of the country… excusing the founders from any real form of “collective” definition in our constitution. I don’t accept that. Basically, our constitution was an early definition of our government and society. From day one, it’s been 100% individual rights based. Individual rights are fundamental, but not sufficient IMO. The original document carved out by the elite of the time continues to this day to provide cover for those who continue to believe government’s job is not to take care of the have not’s in our society. Well, that is exactly what government’s job should be. The term “Freedom” we throw around these parts has no meaning without the context and definition of government. That’s what I meant by freedom-lite. If my freedom in the US is defined as theocracy, non-Christian second class citizen, intolerance of others based on one faction’s religious beliefs, no addressing of the have not’s through government, etc… then I call that freedom-lite. We can’t even agree on the term at home… why would we have a president proselytizing it to the world as if it was generic… one size fits all.

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  52. Randy,

    I’m not sure I understand your point. Why don’t we explore it and see if we have some common ground (I suspect we do).

    First I would note that pluralism is what we have. You or I may or may not like pluralism, but this is just reality. The relevant definition from the Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary defines pluralism thus:

    <>a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups maintain an autonomous participation in and development of their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization. <>

    I don’t see the logic objecting to pluralism unless you are suggesting people outside of certain cultural boundaries not be admitted to our shores and those who are here be asked to leave.

    Tolerance is a more complex topic. I adamantly advocate the tolerance that was preached by Jesus Christ. I am equally adamant in my rejection of the modern secularist view that claims that toleration requires us as individuals to except other cultures and beliefs as equally valid.

    Jesus taught that we should love everybody. He did not qualify that in any way. His behavior and words regarding Samaritans show us that we are to respect other people and embrace them as individuals. Jesus equally asked us to be steadfast in rejecting the sin itself. A lot of people, including myself, give a lot of lip service to this distinction but come up woefully short in practicing this teaching.

    If part of your rankle is that some are self-righteous in their claim that you and I must accept all belief systems as valid, then I would stand with you to that extent. I find it somewhere between amusing and galling that the secularist crowd, in its rush to claim the moral high ground by planting the flag of tolerance, can be so intolerant of my point of view. When it slips over the edge and demands that we send our children to public schools that teach this modern secularist view it crosses the line in to oppression. Of course I do not claim that we Christians are oppressed in a broad societal sense, but the seeds of it can certainly be seen.

    But truthfully, must of what is happening I consider a back-lash against the vitriolic rhetoric of the radical Christian right. You see, those outside of this Circle of Trust are just as offended by the self-righteousness of those preaching that this is a Christian Nation as are Christians with the self-righteousness of the secularists.

    Here again Christians should turn to the example of Christ an abandon the ways of the Pharisees in favor of the meekness of our Lord.

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  53. David,

    You keep saying exactly what I’m thinking… only better. 🙂 I was going to ask what the problem with tolerance and pluralism was also, but decided to let it slide. The brand of GOP being pushed at the moment definitely smells of knuckledragdom, or Bushiban. 🙂 I understand (but disagree) with the intellectual argument of fiscally conservate smaller government, but the two ton ten commandment in your face world tour is a relic of the dark ages. I have a hard time making a distinction between the Taliban and the religious right in this country who demands their religious beliefs be reinforced in the public square. Sure, the Taliban were more brutal and repressive, but both represent intolerance defended by religious zealotry. In this country, if the 10 commandments are allowed at the courthouse, then the Koran has to be allowed. I guess we could have dueling 2 ton statues (Koran and Bible) at the Judge Roy Moore courthouses. You were dead on regarding why I oppose the faith-based initiatives. When I first heard Bush on the subject early in his first term, I actually thought it made sense. Then the reality of the religious right set in. This is a group who is on a mission… and that mission is proselytizing. Asking them to show constraint in this area is like asking a man in a desert to go without water. In fact, how often to you hear … “why should we check our belief systems/world view at the door, it’s who we are”. Fair enough, nobody is asking for you to change, but you can’t have federal money to proselytize. Bush said federal money couldn’t be used for proselytizing… at least I think that’s the word he said… hard to tell. I don’t know if we will survive 4 years of the current administration backed by a GOP controlled congress. The Cato’s and Heritage Foundation’s are tripping over themselves to see how fast they can get rid of any form of government safety-nets. There has to be something seriously lacking in your makeup if you want to get rid of old age insurance in our country. Let’s hope the next president, Rep or Dem, puts the religious right back in thier box. Otherwise, bring on the next round of the religious wars.

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  54. Randy P,

    What exactly do you have against pluralism and tolerance? Aren’t those two things pretty fundamental to the ideals upon which this country was founded? I wonder if there’s some confusion about the definition of these words.

    I agree with you on faith-based initiatives, I don’t think its such a bad idea and the initiatives we’re talking about do not smack of the merging of church and state.

    I think the reason that folks like common good don’t trust the motives behind faith-based initiatives is that there is, in fact, an ongoing, very active and overt revolution being waged by the religious right to accomplish the merging of church and state.

    Bush (I prefer “ignorant chimp” to “dim bulb”) is their champion in this regard, although in truth it’s just a cynical play for votes. He wouldn’t dream of actually trying to implement the kind of theocracy that the born-againers desire. There isn’t the slightest shred of honesty or integrity in anything our little chimp says or does.

    One point I’d like to make to the Curmudgeon, is that since 9/11 the Bushiban has been responsible for a systematic rollback of Englightenmant and Renaissance in this country. Back towards religious zealotry, ignorance and suspicion of science. Back towards midieval definitions of torture, and the sanctioning of torture by the highest level of authority. In short, while we see hopeful signs of progress in the Middle East, our own president, following the calculations of his political guru Karl Rove, has steered the political thought of this country straight back in time towards the unthinking zealotry of the terrorists themselves. It’s amazing how similar is the language Bush uses when talking about the terrorists, to the language they use to describe us. I only wish this country was indeed enlightened enough to find that troubling. Or even just paid attention long enough to see the pattern.

    David R

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  55. I guess my only disagreements would be “dim bulb” and the “merging of church and state” it is faith based, and he does not have any bias on which faith is which as long as they are helping those less fortunate. And I will take freedom-lite any day over your pluralistic and tolerance.

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  56. Irshad Manji was interviewed by Bill Moyer’s before he retired on his show NOW. She seemed very impressive, outspoken and BRAVE.

    We are so conditioned to not get very hopeful about the middle east, we will have to see it before we believe it. That said, something is definitely in the water over there lately. Last night the Syrian ambassador to the US said… “they will be out of Lebanon within two months”. Again, believe it when I see it… but… Something definitely feels different about this last suicide bombing in Israel. Both sides this time seemed to respond as if “this is finally a real chance”. The occupation in Iraq seems to have been totally bungled… and yet large numbers of Iraqi’s actually risked life to vote. I for one don’t think American’s should be asked to risk their children’s and husbands and wives lives for another country’s democracy. Now that it has happened, Iraq’s success would help heal many wounds, and COULD still be the influence we hope in the middle east. I have no doubt the Bush administration and the GOP are clicking their heels and preparing for the next decade mantra “of how they saved the world”… much like the continued Reagan myths. In the end, what will really matter is real progress in the middle east, and not some illusions held by the party of greed and intolerance. Can’t you just see Dim Bulb (I like that) 43 getting a Nobel Peace prize. (as Tony said, not likely… handed out by Europe :). Yesterday I heard Bush defending faith based federal money at one of his stops on his Faith based Marketing blitz. The man totally slaughtered the word “proselytizing”. Our tax dollars at work… firing up Air Force One to fly around the country to promote the merging of church and state.

    Maybe while Irshad Manji is fighting to reject the Mullahs, we need our own movement to reject Bush, Falwell, Robertson and Dobson. You would have thought the world would have figured out by now that religious zealotry is the enemy of a pluralistic world. A defition of Freedom that doesn’t include equality and tolerance of others is really just Freedom-lite.

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