Good First Words

I believe in truth.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Heckling of a Capricious God

OGM seed

(Thank you R. Greenwald. You make getting out of bed a joy.)
Atheism is a purely negative ideology, which is its problem. If one does not believe in God, what should one believe in instead?

This is the nut of the argument, and a point that can be answered. Atheism is not ideology. It is the rejection of the need for ideology. Just as a baby can locate and suckle a nipple without any ideology of hunger or food or mother or self, so can we leave the comfort of bed without the heckling of a capricious god or the ransom of fabulous bribes.

I think I agree with Daniel Lazare about at least one thing: We shouldn't chop off heads until we have the political infrastructure erected to replace the leaders overthrown. But it is hard to find argument amidst his rant. Is Lazare warning that something worse than Christianity will fill the void atheist evangelicals create? Or is he arguing that intellectuals should shut up and allow the mob to work its magick?
If only the Maccabees had stood by as Antiochus IV Epiphanes looted the temple treasury, the world could have skipped 2,000 years or so of religious fanaticism and proceeded directly to the founding of the Council for Secular Humanism... But just as it takes a child a long time to mature, it takes a long time for society as well.

So how is society to mature, Mr. Lazare, if you would have us all prostrate before our culotted betters?

And by the way, the religious zealotry most dangerous to the Western world didn't surface on 9/11. It is the evil spawn of folks like the (at last) late Jerry Farwell and his immoral minority.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

G. Tenet

Original OGM link
JS: "No matter what you guys came up with intelligence-wise... we were going to war with Iraq."
GT: "They make decisions on the basis of lots of other issues."

Read: The War was never about disarming Iraq.

What other issues?

* Not WMD
* Not Osama
* Not democracy
* Not security from "terror"

The power players "on both sides of the aisle" knew all this. They mostly hitched their fortunes to The War.

* Were they all too stupid?
* Were they all too cynical?
* Were they all too greedy?
* Were they all too corrupt?
* If they were all too afraid (remember the Brit intel who spoke out, then bled out), what should we conclude about this G. Tenet spectacle?

Shouldn't we analyze and consider the reasons they created The War before (or at least while) we act to stop it?

Persuade Me

Original post at OGM
(This is a response to the flame war going on at Cheerch Going)

sheliphone: Why so mean? State your grievances so that they can be addressed.

My 2 cents is that too high a proportion of posts to OGM are useless cruelty. Norm gathers a nice variety of current media, and mostly on issues about which I care strongly. I would love to see thoughtful analysis follow so that we can become better citizens and wiser consumers of media. Too often, all too often, the comments are character assault, complaints, or unsupported assertions that one action or another is proper.

E.g., there is no credible argument I have read to dispute that the U.S. gov't has committed war crimes as described by U.S. law. It is clear the U.S. has done so by invading Iraq. However, it does not follow necessarily that the response should be impeachment. Maybe. But if this is your conclusion walk me through your argument:

* Explain to me why the costs of this radical action are warranted.
* Explain why the subsequent gov't will be preferable.
* Describe the long-term consequences to global stability.
* What are the domestic implications?
* Give us a fair argument to suggest that the society unable to challenge black box voting should be roused to overthrow its government.

Maybe this is the proper action. Persuade me. Don't just scream "I am right!" Isn't that precisely what we hate about the other guys?


I appreciate the thoughtful responses. I need a bit more persuading, and I find black box voting a great example of my concerns.

See, here is my worry: If we start tossing out the leadership too soon how can we control what will rise to power? Those who can't work out for themselves the problems with black box voting are dangerously susceptible to a great array of demagogues. I am not persuaded that we know where this upheaval will lead. It seems to me much more prudent to build the infrastructure of democracy before we start chopping off heads.

I cannot dismiss the fact that the Democratic Party has chosen NOT to address black box voting as a central issue. Why not? Some say the Party doesn't dare undermine confidence in the elections. This makes no sense unless they fear serious unrest as a result of admission that the elections are being called by a group of unaccountable private tyrannies. Which they are, by the way.

Nor can I dismiss the history of tactics employed by the ruling class to maintain control. Imagine how the ruling elite would respond to a democratic uprising in a country like Haiti. You don't have to imagine, they make a great point to demonstrate what they are capable of perpetrating elsewhere. Isn't it foolish to imagine they are capable of less here at home.

Please don't misunderstand me: I want peace! I want justice, equity, tolerance, progress, democracy and good government. And yet, America can't even count the votes at this point. Let's not create a juggernaut we cannot hope to control.

Bill Moyers Essay: The Cost of War

Bill Moyers Essay: The Cost of War

I find myself comparing the costs that shall have been paid by citizens of the United States of America to the costs to those who by chance were born into Iraq. That burned soldier may not look forward to the health care of Paris Hilton, but what can his Iraqi counterpart look forward to? Yes, a lot of wealth will have been transfered from future Americans to the coffers of military contractors. How does this amount compare to the loss of Iraqi national oil wealth? It pales, per capita, no doubt.

Still there's another cost that comes to mind. Those Iraqis have suffered under the sword of Hussein and they have suffered the paint from a broad brush in the minds of many. Too many I meet in the U.S. are eager to paint the world in these simple colors. All the while I hear lamentations from fellow Americans about the loss of international prestige and respect we suffer because of George W. Bush's Middle East missteps. Is this any less delusional? We citizens of the United States have imagined ourselves to be masters of our own fate, and we have imagined the children of Arabia and Islam and Palestine and Judea to be masters as well. I find this to be of the most dangerous manner of hubris. We suffer this delusion to justify our indifference and our greed, and we hardly notice when this delusion serves as conduit -- transforming fears of an indifferent god into reckless war spilling alien blood.

Yes, I am saying it: If The War serves to awaken the U.S. citizenry from slumber in time to preserve Constitutional rule of law it shall have been a bargain well made. I am not saying this because I love America. I am saying this because I love freedom and open society. I am saying this because I believe the children of Iraq and of Mexico have as much right to the pursuit of happiness as do I.

The people of the United States of America created the most powerful economy in history. Then we sold it for baubles and beads. Is it too late to void the sale? What cost freedom? Are we yet rich enough in spirit to bargain for the blood of our own children, or for the blood of children not our own?

"One Side Can Be Wrong"

OGM Seed
Alternate link

Uh, both sides could wrong. And would somebody crank up the color, cuz this black & white nonsense gives me a headache.

I am shocked that Richard Dawkins would lend his name to this article.

What important issues in life are binary? To be or not to be? Only those too lazy and unimaginative to form their own opinions could possibly accept this formulation.

I expect more from Richard Dawkins (though sadly not of the Guardian) than to participate in this manichaean brainwashing.

The meaning of "Jesus" is certainly not binary.

Manichaean propaganda is surely a relevant and important issue, and dualism is inherent in the title and opening paragraphs of this article.

Science is a unary proposition. "I assert that these methods provide the most reliable means to discover physical truth." Yes, it is either right or wrong -- but there are assuredly not two sides.