Dissolve into Evergreens
This blog used to be about politics. Not so much anymore as I have worked through my fascination with that subject. It now seems appropriate that with a new president and the end of the Bush nightmare that I move on to new subjects that are more in line with my current interests. I may still occasionally express an opinion about political matters but for the most part I will be commenting on music, photography and personal observations. Thank you for reading.

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Some Definitions

Old Democrat == means justify the ends
Republican == ends justify the means
New Democrat == ends justify the means if they justify the ends

Follow that?

Paul Krugman - Toward One-Party Rule
As a result, campaign finance is only the tip of the iceberg. Next year, George W. Bush will spend two or three times as much money as his opponent; but he will also benefit hugely from the indirect support that corporate interests — very much including media companies — will provide for his political message.

I think Krugman would make an excellent Secretary of the Treasury. Nothing would drive the right wing fuedal loving fanatics over the edge faster than to see his John Hancock on all the new money being printed.

Privatized Hell
In colonial Philadelphia, firefighters were employed by private insurance companies which, of course, had financial incentives to minimize damage to their clients’ properties. Plaques with the insurance company’s insignia were placed on buildings, so that the fire fighters would know whether or not it was their “business” to put out the fires on the premises. (These plaques are often found today in antique shops). If the “wrong” plaque was on the building, well, that was just tough luck. Of course, with their attention confined to a single building, fire fighters were ill-disposed to prevent a spreading of the fire to adjacent “non-client” structures.

Occasionally, when the building’s insurance affiliation was in some doubt, competing fire companies would fight each other for the privilege of putting out the fire, resulting in more water aimed at fire fighters than at burning buildings.

Eventually, the absurdity and outright danger of this system led one prominent Philadelphia citizen to come up with the idea of a publicly funded and administered fire department.

His name was Benjamin Franklin: America’s first anti-free-enterprise commie pinko nut-case.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Don't Feed the Dinosaurs: or, What the Fossil Record Tells Us About the Record Industry

Facts about file sharing

For starters I'll revamp a comments post I made earlier, with some more detail of course, on why teh record industry is finding itself to be more and more irrelavent. In one word : Internet.

In Brief Summary:

1)Recording: In the past only the record companies had the money and facilities to produce studio quality albums that were fit for consumption. This meant that after a suffcient amount of time writing and playing your songs you went, hat in hand to the record inductry to front the money to get you into the studio with a producer to lay down the tracks of your magnum opus. The record company liked this arrangement beause it meant that right off the bat you were in their debt. After all, if it wasn't for them you wouldn't even have an album out there. You can't argue with that logic. But sadly for the RI the rules have changed. Now, with the aid of some really ingenius software and an off the shelf computer, together with a little know how and a few pieces of essential hardware you can lay down a pretty respectable masterpiece all by yourself. I know this is possible because I have done so myself. A feet that I am most proud of and I owe absolutely $0.00 to the labels.

2)Promotion: In the golden age of the Recording Industry only they had sufficient means to bring your "next Abbey Road" to the masses. It was either go to them or labor on indefinetly in obscurity. Once again, glad to say, the RI no longer holds that absolute power, though in this regard they still mantain the upper hand, for now you can reach a near global audience with the power of the internet. You still have to find a way to get yourself noticed amongst the vast chaos. But your chances are a helluva lot better now than they were before the internet existed. It is in this area that musicians themselves are most relieved to be rid of the Ri. In the past, if the Powers that Be determined that you were not meant for prime time or were considered old news then you were left to rot on the vine. You see, they only want to promote what they feel will garner them the most rewards. Spending a million bucks to promote one CD and making 10 million is ultimately better than spending 10 million bucks on ten CDS and still only making 10 million back. One of my favorite bands, echolyn suffered this fate at the hands of Sony550. After years of recording, promoting and selling their cds around the North Carolina area they signed with Sony who put them into the studio where they recorded "as the world". After the completion of the CD Sony decided that they didnt want to promote the CD and cancelled the supporting tour. The band was trapped and they broke up. Eventually they re-formed and are now once again making their own way in the world.

3)Distribution: Once your "record that changed the face of rock music" has been recorded and promoted it still does you no good unless you can get it into the grimey little hands of your fans and future cult following. Without distribution you are dead in the water. I once read that Steve Vai made more money of his self produced album "Flexible Leftovers" over his label produced "Passion and Warfare". I don't have access to the article anymore but the numbers were, seven dollars for every copy of "FL" and two dollars for every copy of "PAW". Meaning he had to sell three copies of "PAW" to make teh same amount of money as he does on "FL". This was in large part due to distribution. Of course now any little obscure and can ship direct to their fans once they have been contacted through their website. Many small independent shops have gladly accepted small DIY projects to bulk up their catalogs.


What really chapped my hide was when I found out that record companies, at the time of the CD's emergence basically just dumped the existing masters onto Compact Disc without doing anything to take advantage of the new medium, hence the need to remaster everything under the sun.

How is it that little 'ol me can record and burn a CD for just a few dollars but the cost of CD's has not dropped in the last decade? Am I the only one that remembers the promise that CD's would drop in price. That was in the early days when you paid $17.99, nowadays you pay about $13.99 to $15.99, not what I would call a significant drop, not when considering the pervasiveness of the technology.

Why is that artists that sell millions of copies of their albums still find themselves scraping to get by? Well, the answer to that question is answered in this folkloric post by Steve Albini, "The Problem with Music".

In the end it all boils down to self preservation on the part of the Record Industry and its puppet arm the RIAA. They are parasites that have been bleeding the artists and the consumers dry. "The FTC estimates that U.S. consumers may have paid as much as $480 million more than they should have for CDs and other music because of these policies over the last three years" (link). The internet will be a boon to musicians and listeners alike as artists will have more leverage to negotiate better contracts and record sellers will have to work harder to keep their consumers rather than just relying on their monopoly. The only danger lies in the RIAA's efforts to squelch this burguening marketplace in favor of control. They claim that they do so in to defend the artists, but when you have the artists themselves crying foul over their actions we know we smell a rat.

Leader's aren't Born, They are Harvested by Public Relations Firms

Time Magazine: This May Be a Pre-Mortem of the 2000 Campaign
"Research is a fundamental point," he says. "We think of ourselves as the creators of the ammunition in a war. Research digs up the ammunition. We make the bullets."

That was Tim Griffin, deputy to the GOP head of research from a BBC documentary called "Digging the Dirt". The war he was referrring to war the election of 2000 and the bullets he has in mind are aimed at our heads. You see, he and others like him do opposition research. They scrutinize every word of the opposing candidate and "make the bullets" by which those candidate's character will be assasinated. Like in conventional war, those with the most bullets usually win.

In the film we see RNC glee as the Associated Press accepts their oppo research on a Gore misstatement during the first presidential debate. During their months of filming BBC producers also observed producers for NBC's Tim Russert, among others, calling to enquire if the team had any new material. This was apparently normal practice.

I don't think that it should come as a suprise to anyone that news agencies are relying on the legwork of obvious PR firms to prepare their news stories. What some people might be afraid to admit is that this ultimately tilts the playing field in favor of people that are willing to arm themselves with the tools of the trade. This in turn forces all sides to commit time and resources to the sole task of slandering their opponent. For if they fail to do so they will see themselves destroyed in the public's opinion. The broader implications are that any candidate not able to play in this cut-throat game will not stand a chance. This will cause all politicians to speak less candidly and rely on more scripted responses to questions for fear that any misstatement will be exploited harshly. Already we see that politicians shy away from answering questions with anything but some pre-arranged response designed to further the positive PR and defuse the negative.

In the 2000 election the plan was to make Al Gore into a liar.

How to do this? Simple. Establish a massive database of every utterance in Gore's 26 years in public service — and then pounce on any and every discrepancy like a bulldog lawyer seeking to discredit a witness. It wouldn't matter how tiny the variance. Any deviation could be characterized as an embellishment, an exaggeration, an untruth, a dishonesty. And then finally the word that would superglue Gore to Clinton. A lie.

The real lies are the false characterizations built upon highlighting the negatives and ignoring the positives. And we make our decision: "who should lead our country?" upon the assumption that we are working on accurate information. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are working with bad information, and as they say "garbage in, garbage out".

But when Gore makes what turns out to be his misstatement about visiting Texas fire sites with FEMA director James Lee Witt, Griffin senses blood. "Have Jeanette take a look at that!" he cries. And his hunch is right. Gore has transposed dates or people. And that gives Griffin another opportunity.

The BBC cameras catch him on the phone exulting to a colleague: "You know what this would be perfect for is... Get one of these AP reporters or somebody on it for the next few days and then we get a lie out of it... and roll a few days with a new lie!"

From here it goes into the network of sympathetic journalists and talk show and newspaper pundits to be bandied about the echo chamber to become conventional wisdom.

In the end do we mearly end up electing a person that never takes a position on anything, never opens their mouth without pre-approval from their handlers, and disguises their true nature in doublespeak?

We do, and we did.

Worshipping at the Shrine

Tuesday night here in Tulsa was the Dream Theater, Queensryche and Fates Warning concert. I can't say enough good things about Dream Theater, they have been my favorite group for years now and everytime they come out with a new CD or I see them live I am amazed all over again. This latest concert was no exception.

If you can, have a listen to a few of their songs and you might just see why they have a cult following of hard core fans that include myself.

I may not go to church but I still have my spiritual experiences. A Dream Theater concert is one such experience.


Incoming Message from the Tinfoil Hat

oh wait... it was just spam from Newsmax.com promoting its Hillary Cards. Of course I don't have any links. No links for SPAMMERS!


I would suggest boycotting the site, but any self-respecting person wouldn't visit it anyways.

..... t r a n s m i s s i o n o v e r .....

Bribe Them and They Will Come

A disturbing trend has arisen. In it a body of politicians use the public purse as a way to bribe business to move to their state. In it businesses see each of the states as comptetitors in their bid to divert much needed local revenue from schools and city improvements. Only the big boys can play, mostly huge industries that can leverage their jobs as bait to lure in the states to put up a king's ransom in taxpayer money in bribe payments.

States eager to build Boeing's 7E7 Dreamliner submit bids: Associated Press

WASHINGTON: Home of Boeing's headquarters, the state offered an estimated $3.2 billion in tax breaks over 20 years, but only if the 7E7 is built there. The state also promised a $4.2 billion transportation plan Boeing backed and an overhaul of unemployment and workers' compensation programs, which would lower costs to Boeing and other businesses.

OKLAHOMA: Reportedly hundreds of millions of dollars in cash incentives that would require approval by Tulsa voters. Local officials have discussed calling a Sept. 9 election.

Of course all of the state's politicians came out in full support of the payments to Boeing. My questions is, why wouldn't they? After all this isn't their money and they can always justify it with the jobs. A caller to the Tulsa World wondered why we didn't just call this socialism. Good question....

After all, didn't the taxpayers bail out the airlines recently? Isn't Boeing also a supplier to the military (Boeing Satellite Systems, Los Angeles, Calif., is being awarded a $12,166,200 contract... and Bell-Boeing Joint Program Office, Patuxent River, Md., is being awarded a $12,794,289 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract and that's just for June 20th! )? Now they want us to in essense pay for them to relocate and set up shop? Sounds like a good scheme to me. Taxpayer money coming in through the front door, taxpayer money coming in through the back door and taxpayer money under you.

It seems its easier to buy jobs on the black market with very public shows of political gumption than it is to build a solid economic base that builds a good stable workforce. Obviously we will have a terrible time trying to compete with states with larger tax bases to draw from. It seems that once you've got business, you collect the taxes to bribe more businesses. My take is that this creates a race to bottom mentality where rich states are constantly spending themselves poor to attract new business while poor states watch their tax base drain away as good paying jobs leave for greener (pun intended) pastures. I lived in Dallas for a couple years, they fall into the first category, essentially a city bristling with rich people living on tax money while the citizens and city councils find more ways to cut services and schools. Tulsa falls into the second category where we watch as our tax base erodes while citizens and councils find ways to cut services and schools.

In a twist of irony, one of the conditions for consideration by Boeing?

....available land as well as a pool of qualified workers and quality public schools.

Oh boy...

Who Me? Self Righteous?

If The Bush Administration Lied About WMD, So Did These People (Updated)

I plucked this link from flyover country but I think it illustrates the back side of my original arguement. These democrats got caught playing the same game. They supported their side when it was convinient to do so and then took the opposite position when it was useful as well. So while many of these quotes are out of context and many go far to supporting the opposite conclusion that the compiler wants you to make it does point out that most politicans compromise their values for the sake of party loyalty.

Good or bad? you decide.

But his does lead to my complete and total lack of support for democratic candidates like Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt, both of whom I think have sold their allegiances so many times that we don't really know if we can trust them to think for themselves anymore. Do people forget that Gephardt jumped on the flat tax bandwagon back in 19turnofthecentury?

At Least Nobody Died

Anyways.. so I "oversold" my arguement that my fellow okie bloggers were a bunch of slobbering knuckle dragging right wing pod people... ;-) If that were true they would have never been able to tear me a new one Here and Here

But I still secretly suspect that they all have little Bush Shrines in the corners of their living rooms where they put up their Christmas trees every december.

that was a joke

I Feel Your Pain
The Onion | 95 Percent Of Opinions Withheld On Visit To Family
"Once you let go of the need to express your thoughts to your family, you suddenly feel much lighter," Wilmot said. "You just float along blissfully, finally liberated from the burden of having any presence at all. It's sort of like getting to return to the womb. Which is way more enjoyable than trying to explain to a tableful of Celine Dion fans why you can't stand her."

I've managed to not express any political opinions at my new job.

A Word About the Okie Links

In the spirit of promoting okie pride I have made the rounds of okie based bloggers to see whats in the offering. As I expected they tended to lean right. So much so in fact that many can't hear out of that side of their heads. This confuses me to no end. While traveling around Tulsa today I got the general feeling that people here like independence more than anything. They don't want anybody to interfere with their lives. I'm sure that extends to other parts of oklahoma as well. My confusion arises out of the blank check support for government right now. It does't seem consistent to me. If you're going to be skeptical of government (a position I wholeheartedly support) then you should be so all the time, not just when a Democrat is in office. You should stand up anytime the governement says anything and say "prove it!". That after all is what I consider our job as citizens to be, to hold the politicians accountable for their actions and their words. But whenever I stand up and criticize our president for his actions I get shouted down and accused of being a Democrat (which I am not). I don't see any point in giving my unquestioning loyalty to any party. Some people stop being good citizens when their party gets into power. They start ignoring their roll as political watchdog because they are scared that any criticism of their party will mean support for the other. They fall victim to the false dichotomy that says that you must remain silent to not give support for the other side. This is wrong headed thinking and one of the deleterious by-products of our two party system. You are forced to support not by acting but by not acting.

For the record:

I thought Bill Clinton was rotten for getting sexual favors in the Whitehouse, it was extrmely tacky but it didnt affect how I live my life. I thought his support of NAFTA was wrong and the damage to our manufacturing base has been devastating. I am more angry about NAFTA than blowjobs. I am also angry about extending Most Favored Nation status to China despite their obvious lack of progress on worker or human rights. Those are REAL reasons to be upset with Clinton. This BJ thing is a joke.

I thought John McCain would have made a decent president. Too bad the Rove machine smeared him out of the running. For that at least you should be wary of Bush/Rove. He was right leaning, but he was willing to tackle an important issue, money influence in politics. For that I think we would have been better off, and for that reason he was brought down.

I thought Bob Dole would have been a so-so president. He did a poor job communicating with the public and his party pushed him too hard to be someone he wasn't on the campaign trail. The American people saw though that.

I worked to get Nader on the ballot here in Oklahoma. Not because I wanted him elected but because I think we needed more voices present in the debate and because people need more choices. Anybody should be able to run for president, not just the annointed of the political parties.

I am upset with Al Gore and the Democrats for not letting other presidential candidates into the debates. The two politcal parties are killing our democracy with their foolish notion that the government belongs to THEM and them only, to fight over amongst themselves. The American people need to show them who really owns the government.

The uncritical acceptance of Bush and his cronies is shameful. They have done plenty to get the alarm bells ringing, but unfortunately it seems like the citizens here have sold their souls and they are content to swallow the obvious propaganda lies being fed to them by this adminstration. Its not consistent.

Strange Findings?: Workers Might Like to Work Less if Given Choice

"For many workers today, too often the only choice is between a full-time position or a low-quality part-time one, with low pay and minimal benefits or job security," said Will Friedman, director of the study. "Our data suggests that new scheduling options would help not only individual workers, but could also help organizations attract and retain quality workers, reduce unscheduled absences, help unions attract new and younger members, and generally raise morale."

Amazing! What ever should they do with their time? Spend it with their kids? Spend it with their loved ones? Work on their house? Learn new skills or hobbies? Become better educated? Take vacations and trips?

Funny... when you think about it, all of these things would help drive demand, which is what the US economy is suffering from. Looks like we have found an answer to one of our questions. Too bad its the wrong answer for the business elites.

Iraqi Freedom v. 2.13

Occupiers' proposed new code to regulate Iraq's media draws apprehension from journalists
The Americans already are making clear they are keeping an eye on Iraqi media.
Editors at the new daily newspaper Al-Manar said U.S. soldiers turned up at its offices last week to tell them about a new media monitoring board and ask for their opinion.
"They plan to set up a committee and some jerks will be on it," said Mohamad Jubar, the editor in chief. "I'll fight any attempt at censorship."

Apparently Ann Clywd of the times says that we were justified invading Iraq to help those poor helpless people that were getting killed. OK, I'll accept that but once again:


Because quite frankly, the left has been wanting to "do something" about thugs like Saddam now for years. I don't think I'm ready give Bush/Blair the credit for finally doing something for the Iraqi people. And so... when can we expect the invasion of Zimbabwe?

Incoming Message from POD

Some days I have the patience to write comments in response to the Pod People. Some days I just want to scream and yell at them and taunt them... oh yes, taunt them. But it doesn't work you see. We are dealing with different levels of reality.

In the world I live in George W. Bush is a failed businessman from Texas that buddied up to some powerful friends to make millions selling a taxpayer funded baseball stadium. They made him governer, then they made him president. He has played hookey on his National Guard Service and he has cozied up with the likes of Kenneth Lay, former Enron chief. He has gleefully executed numerous people in Texas and he told us that Saddam Hussein in cahoots with Osama Bin Laden was about ready to launch a Nuclear Strike against the United States.

In their reality Dubya is a savior sent by God to save us from the raging horde of infidels that wish to exterminate all good people from the face of the Earth, he will usher in the second coming by rebuilding Isreal, he will return the US government back into the rightful hands of... god, and he cannot utter even the smallest of lies.

You can see where communication breaks down?

I wanted to try to summerize the story I get from the Pod People in various discussions I have had with them about what happened in the last year regarding the war with Iraq. Here goes....

After September 11th 2001 God spoke to Dubya. He told George that the United States needed to go out and kick some arab muslim ass to show them not to mess with God's chosen people. After W absorbed the holy power of the spirit into his being he set about invading the country of Afghanistan. The Taliban (a branch of the Democratic party) were helping Osama Bin Laden and being mean to women. So with the massively overpowering weapons that we have thanks to God's blessings we bombed the Taliban (who are communists too) and killed them all and they went away and the terrorists ran off like scared little children. We were happy. But then King W. found out that Saddam Hussein had been getting together with Osama Bin Laden to channel the evil of Satan and plot new attacks on America. George Bush used his powers of prophecy to see deep into underground bunkers all the weapons that Satan had given to Saddam and Osama. Since God was guiding him we knew we could trust him. But we prayed for him anyways because Satan's political party the democrats and his loyal minions, the liberals had teamed up with the communists in France to stop his Holy Highness from ridding the world of the weapons and defeating Satan in the desert. We knew that unless we filled our windshields with stickers of the American Flag and renamed french fries to freedom fries that Satan's democrats would enslave us all and turn our nation into a communist hell on Earth. Bill Clinton, the Anti-Christ was posed to rule the new One World Government but thanks to corporate sponsors like Whatabuger and Lowes Home Improvement Stores we stopped the liberals and their demonic leaders. Emperor Bush defeated the evil Saddam with our God-given Abrams tanks and Satellite guided munitions (which the evil liberal evolution loving scientists had no hand in creating!). The Iraqi people threw a party for W and he flew his fighter jet into Baghdad and rounded up all the chemical and biological weapons factories and destroyed them. Everybody but the satan loving liberals and the comunist democrats were happy that God's chosen president had defeated evil. With the help of American Corporations we are rebuilding Iraq and making it a great place to live. Thank God for Halliburten! Now the evil French want to stop W. from finishing the work of eradicating evil from the world. But we will stop them by passing tax cuts and dismantling public education. The liberals are on the run. Satan will not prevail as long as we have the Father, Son and the Holy Bush on our side!

That was a concise summation of what I hear coming from the Pod People. Its pieced together from various debates I have had with them. No one author said everything but my extensive research has put together a good collection of PodThought.


Nearly everyday, there's something written on the Internet about me that's flat out untrue. - Bill O' Reilly

Bill O'Reilly likes to wear pink fluffy little women's thong bikini underwear when he does his show.

Bush Sells Arizona Oceanside Property to American Public, Claims the Intelligence was Faulty

Ahoy! It seems like another government official has jumped off the leaky ship know as the USS Dubya.

washingtonpost.com: Former Aide Takes Aim at War on Terror
"The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure," said Beers, who until now has remained largely silent about leaving his National Security Council job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. "As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out."

There's more go read it!

Nevertheless, Beers will say that the administration is "underestimating the enemy." It has failed to address the root causes of terror, he said. "The difficult, long-term issues both at home and abroad have been avoided, neglected or shortchanged and generally underfunded."

(Underfunded means: Billions for uneccesary war + Billions for wanton tax cuts = no more money left to do the job we need to do)

This is obvious, i've said it before. But lest you missed it, this guys title in the administration was:

Special assistant to the president for combating terrorism

And he says in a nutshell:

The focus on Iraq has robbed domestic security of manpower, brainpower and money, he said. The Iraq war created fissures in the United States' counterterrorism alliances, he said, and could breed a new generation of al Qaeda recruits. Many of his government colleagues, he said, thought Iraq was an "ill-conceived and poorly executed strategy."

"I continue to be puzzled by it," said Beers, who did not oppose the war but thought it should have been fought with a broader coalition. "Why was it such a policy priority?" The official rationale was the search for weapons of mass destruction, he said, "although the evidence was pretty qualified, if you listened carefully."

But you're right, I'm just some kneejerk liberal with no clue of what's going on. Or as I was told before the war "trust the president".

No thank you.

Los Angeles Times article from Spetember 27, 2002 : Showing Faith in Discretion
A Los Angeles Times review of the Fellowship's archives, which are kept at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., and an examination of documents obtained from several presidential libraries reveals an organization that has had extraordinary access and significant influence on foreign affairs for the last 50 years.

Eight members of Congress, including Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), live in a grand house on Capitol Hill, which is owned by a sister organization of the Fellowship. The house, which is registered as a church, routinely hosts gatherings for lawmakers and ambassadors. Members of Congress have traveled around the world on the Fellowship's behalf, sometimes mixing matters of state with religion.

6 congressmen live in house subsidized by religious group
"We feel like it's nobody's business but our own," said former Rep. Steve Largent, R-Okla., who lived there before leaving Congress to run unsuccessfully for governor in his home state last year.

MediaBistro: Another Interview with Jeffrey Sharlett about
"The Family"

I shouldn't have to say this but... you should do your own reseach and learn a little more about something like this before you take it at face value. I will hunt around to find what links I can and will post them here for you.

If I made it sound like I fully endorsed this story that was not the case. I encourage skepticism in all that you read, doubly so with the internet. But if this story is legit then it merits some attention, at least I think so. Others may find this innocuous.

Inhofe Watch : Ewwwww Doggie!

I felt a little guilty about not keeping up with my Inhofe watch. I strayed (as I do often) into other interests. But boy, did I pick a good time to do my little "Google News" search for Inhofe?

That was a rhetorical question, but for those who are rhetorically challenged the answer is YES.

Alternet Interview with Jeffrey Sharlett, Meet the Family

Seems like our two senators, Inhofe and Nickles have close ties to a group called the Fellowship, a fundamentalist Christian group that works to introduce powerful men to Jesus. It does so by building up cells of people that have a "covenant" with each other to pursue a common goal. That goal: Spiritual Warfare.

Harpers Article: Jesus Plus Nothing by Jeffrey Sharlett
There they forge "relationships" beyond the din of vox populi (the Family's leaders consider democracy a manifestation of ungodly pride) and "throw away religion" in favor of the truths of the Family. Declaring God's covenant with the Jews broken, the group's core members call themselves "the new chosen."

Most interesting is the notation by Sharlett that the Family's leadership considers "Democracy a manifestation of Ungodly Pride." This fits in nicely with the themes I have noticed in the hard line religious right. I hinted at this in the previous days writings. Uppity humans ruling themselves are an affront to Gods power over them.

Alternet: Really at its fundamental core, almost monarchist. We would be told time and time again, "Christ's kingdom is not a democracy" This is their model for leadership. They would often say, "Everything you need to know about government is right there in the cross - it's vertical not horizontal."

So we should ask the question: If Inhofe is our Representative, a human stand in for the people of Oklahoma, shouldn't he believe in the legitimacy of his role as such? I think he does not, and his actions have proved as much over the course of time. Why we continue to re-elect this man is a mystery to me and an insult to democracy.

Harpers : The Family was founded in April 1935 by Abraham Vereide, a Norwegian immigrant who made his living as a traveling preacher. One night, while lying in bed fretting about socialists, Wobblies, and a Swedish Communist who, he was sure, planned to bring Seattle under the control of Moscow, Vereide received a visitation: a voice, and a light in the dark, bright and blinding. The next day he met a friend, a wealthy businessman and former major, and the two men agreed upon a spiritual plan. They enlisted nineteen business executives in a weekly breakfast meeting and together they prayed, convinced that Jesus alone could redeem Seattle and crush the radical unions.

Amusing that Jesus would take the time out of his busy schedule to pull together a group of wealthy businessmen for the sake of crushing the unions and the Wobblies. I'm sure they had no clue that none other than Jesus was the prime union buster. Unions being not only an affront to God for wanting some amount of control over their own lives, but an affront to capitalists that wished to keep exploiting their labor.

Alternet: Then there are associates, usually about 150 associates and they are the key individuals in their areas, and then there are the people who are in a cell with an associate and they are very close. And then there are close friends. Senator James Inhofe, Republican from Oklahoma, is frequently, for instance, referred to as a close friend.


Alternet: I think they are definitely a force for fascism. I think a lot of the way the world looks is a result of their work. They were instrumental in getting U.S. government support for General Suharto, for the generals' juntas in Brazil. Just take those two countries alone, they are two of the biggest countries on Earth. Those countries might have been progressive democracies a long time ago had it not been for U.S. support for those regimes ...

That Inhofe is cozy with this group is assured. That their positions on democracy and human freedom are outside of the mainstream is certain. Why we allow our democractic representatives to belong to such a group is beyond me. And if you think that The Family is a benign little church going group I would encourage you to read both of the article I reference today. I posted nothing about the reverance that these people have for the leadership styles of Hitler, Mao and Stalin. I mention nothing of the bizarre cult-like atmosphere that Sharlett studied while he actually lived amongst the "brothers"

Go read!

Science, Secularism and Human Freedom

At one point in the history of modern civilization some wise ass had the idea that people, not rulers should determine their own destiny. This was in contrast to what had gone before, monarchs and church power that lorded over people. Next came some other wise ass that decided that we should trust our own selves to discover the truth of the world through our own powers of observation. This made the clergy mad because they had just spent a few hundred ideas pouring over religious tomes trying to decide the nature of everything, only to have the wise asses look through a telescope and tell them they we all wrong. Well, that first group of wise asses met with an untimely fate, but not before they influenced others. People decided that not only could they decide for themselves, using their own brains what kind of government they wanted, they could also learn for themselves the true nature of the world. Science was born. Democracy was born. Education was born. And we rushed into the modern era in which we are literally surrounded day to day with the benefits derived from what the wise asses figured out. Yet despite the obvious benefits we have reaped from this new freedom of human endeavor it is still considered bad form to admit that people, not gods, not rulers should determine their own fates.

Somehow as we sit amidst the wonders that science has brought us we still question the very notion that direct observation of reality should be subservient to irrational belief in the supernatural?

When we are sick, do we expect doctors or prayers to heal us? If prayers were all that were necessary to keep us all healthy we would not have had to develop medicines and machines to keep us well. We would have been fine hundreds of years ago when all we had were prayers. Did we not benefit from our knowledge of bacteria and disease? Did we not benefit from the discovery of antibiotics? Did we eventually pray our way to a cure for polio? When AIDS is finally eradicated from the Earth will it be because we wished it to be so or will it be because we used our own brains and talents to make it so?

We know the answers to these questions. Yet even now we devote such time and energy denying that we have gained from knowledge and learning and self determination. We refuse to pass down the vast amounts of knowledge we have accumulated on to our children. And instead of numerous television channels proclaiming the power of our own hard work and endeavor we still have channel upon channel (4 of 12 public stations in Tulsa) proclaiming that we owe everything to the same powers that we turned away from to get to where we are today.

Do we wish to return to those days where the common people, the masses, remained ignorant and powerless and should we give our leaders the power to determine what we know, what we can learn and how we can live our lives? I dont think so.

Yesterday, an older man, a machinist came into the store I work at and he was excited. He had just purchased a computer for himself and was saving some money for a webcam for himself and one for his brother who lives in North Carolina so they could see each other over the internet. He had purchased a digital camera to take some pictures and had plans for more computer purchases. Through the wonders of science and technology he was going to experience things that he may have not ever had a chance to had not the pioneers of science renounced the idea that all knowledge was the realm of the king or church and set off for themselves to learn about the world we live in. Our ability to send a picture of a machinist in Oklahoma to his brother in North Carolina is the product, not of divine revelation but of methodical research into the nature of the world we live in.

Last night I watched a news show where David Ho and his research team spent hours and hours in a laboratory trying to find a treatment for SARS. They have found what seems to be a promising advance to fend off the virus. There remains more testing to be done. If they succeed they will save thousands of lives. Just like scientists before them have saved thousands of lives. Science works. At our gut level we know this, but we still refuse to accept this fact in our hearts. I am overwhelmed by feelings of deep regret when the evolution/creation debate arises. Creationism represents nothing less than a wholesale rejection of all that science stands for and everything that has come about through the process of scientific inquiry. Anyone that professes that creationsim deserves a place beside real science should have every modern appliance and comfort ripped from their homes. Not seriously of course, but just as an illustration of what scientific thought means to people. If you deny that direct observation of the world is invalid in the face of religious dogma you are living in the wrong time period.

Best Word of the Day

Winner: Immersion

Runner Up : Solvency

Ok, this has been on my mind recently. If this conservative way of doing things that so popular in Oklahoma is such a great idea then why is the state and others like it so poor? I mean, just looking at things objectively you will have to admit that the liberal democratic parts of the country also happen to be the most successful. Coincidence?

Tristero : Arguing With The Right: "I'm Not Here To Defend The Klan."

Excellent website by Tristero, and a great rebuttal of the apologist tripe spewed forth by Clubbeaux.

I was willing to give David Sims at Clubbeaux the benefit of the doubt in his initial observations. However as the debate in the comments section proceeded it was clear to see that this wasn't just an objective look at the Klan and the issues around it, but rather another chance to bash Liberals for (sarcasm on) their unreasonable prejudice against the simple hard-working misunderstood salt of the earth types who seek the klan as a way of expressing their anger with the government (sarcasm off).

We are supposed to buy into the idea that the Klan is not a racist violent group of yahoos but rather a legitimate group formed to empower the middle class whites who have been unjustly oppressed. So, they just happen to embrace the idea that white people should blame black people for all their problems and that they can fight back with intimidation and fear?

For me to accept the idea that the klan really targets the government is to ignore the role that powerful state and local officials had in bringing about the klan as a way of tryin to reclaim their white-only monopoly over who runs the government. The underlying premise of the klan and its ilk is that their government has been hijacked by the blacks, immigrants and minorities as well as the "liberals" to transform the government into a hideous totalitarian state that seeks to destroy the white race, who built the country all by themselves.

yeah right.... To claim that the only option that middle class whites have is to dress up in white robes and to reignite old race wounds is ludicrous. Its a lame apology for people who are racist violent and ignorant.

Rob Salkowitz over at Emphasis Added has really outdone himself this time. He is an excellent writer and thoughtful as well.

Re: The Enlightenment.
This shift in philosophy turned the attention of scholars to nature and to human institutions rather than Scripture and metaphysics. This was an intellectual movement known as Humanism (or sometimes Secular Humanism), and the academic curriculum associated with it was (and still is) the Liberal Arts. From this basis arose the pillars of the modern era: science, the free market and constitutional government.

Considering how much these three advances contributed to the improvement of the material conditions of humankind, it’s amazing that the underlying philosophy of liberal humanism that makes them possible remains controversial. Indeed, by the 19th and 20th centuries, the irreversible triumph of the Enlightenment seemed to be ratcheted into place by the march of history, and thoughts of effacing humanist traditions were merely the cracked ravings of shattered autocrats and the retrograde Church.

When I think about the logical conclusion of the mindset behind what he refers to as the conservative movement I have the image in my head of a man sitting in front of his television, listening to a program about televisions, telling him that they don't need to be plugged into the wall at all. The man, ignorant of how or why the TV, electricity or even basic physics works reaches around the back of the Tube and yanks the plug. Will democracy also have its plug yanked?

There is the scary reality of reaching a point in history where you have lost all sight of what has brought you there and turning right around and heading back. I see this blind arrogrance in much of what I hear coming from the right. Its anti-intellectual and authoritarian. "Trust in God. Trust in the powerful. Let us handle the world, go back into your holes from which you crawled to take hold of your own destiny. Reject science, reject philosphy and reject democracy. They are false idols. Power and Priviledge are all that matter."

Liberalism in the classical sense has triumphed. But if we don't protect it, we can lose it.

OkiePundit: Oklahoma Judge Does Pharmacists' Bidding
But we are so blind to good ideas from outside our borders that we don't seem to care what works elsewhere. Our leadership has been without leadership in solving these problems. Could it be because the pharmaceutical companies are among the biggest contributors to their campaigns?

I like this guy. We Murkins do have the idea that we are number one and will always be. This depsite the fact that we still have several problems that other countries have already dealt with, like... health care for one. Better politicsl representation for another. We are so blind to any problems we have due to the blind assumption that we're the best at everything and nobody else will ever, or has ever done anything worth our notice. The great thing about the American system was that it was a collection of good ideas put into practice. But since then we have assumed that we cannot improve on what we already have so why bother.

Bush Pledges to 'Reveal the Truth' About Weapons of Mass Destruction (washingtonpost.com)
Frank's senior enlisted man, Sgt. Major Dwight Brown told the troops before Bush's appearance, "I don't want any damn catcalls from the crowd. We have the president of the United States coming to tell us what a great job we did destroying those heathen up in northern Iraq."

GOOD LORD!! The arrogance. Like anybody believes that these phot-ops staged before the cheering troops has any bearing on Bush's real popularity. I feel like I'm watching a bad movie. This can't be real! Dosen't anybody realize that the troops are his employees? He's the boss. You cheer the boss to make your life easier right? And when he tells you what a great job your doing you agree wholeheartedly.. because you know your doing your job. So what part of Bush telling the cheering crowd of troops how great they are has any bearing on any reality?

Kim du Toit - Daily Rant : Tests
The problem is that we let them get away with this nonsense, and we submit to this shit, just for a lousy fucking job. And we don't have to. I can perhaps understand the need for drug tests for machinists, pilots and so on. But for a fucking lousy middle management / glorified clerical job? Fuck that

That's the way I feel as well. I've always thought that drug control is an issue that people on all ends of the spectrum can rally around. Its being totally driven by the right-wing authoritarian nuts that need and excuse to meddle in people's lives.

I feel sorry for Kim (a guy) because after a long lament about the city of Chicago and all it had to offer he has moved to North Texas. In his own eyes he has escaped the "liberals". I hope he likes it down there in Texas. I lived there, its a conservative paradise allright. Dirty, congested and plagued with rotten CEO's that are bilking millions from the American People while they hide under Texas laws written by their own lobbies.

Kim, who came from South Africa makes the point in one of his anti-liberal screeds that the only reason that Apartheid lasted for as long as it did was because of gun control. To which I scratch my head and wonder if that explains Saddam's Iraq as well where everybody had firearms and still not revolt. The missing variable is not guns, but fear. Even if you have a gun you have to have the will to shoot it. And if you do you better hope that your not the only one. The real key is solidarity. With it you can overthrow any government, without it no amount of guns will do you any good. Just ask Ghandi.

Meme's, their Origins and the Damage They Do : Part 2

In my political discussion with people there seems to be two originating sources for most of the "content" out there. One is the Think Tank, which I covered in Part 1, whose domain is the media; newspapers and television. The second is the Pulpit, which speaks directly to people, on a weekly basis.

What I mean by The Pulpit is political content that originates from a religious source. The Pulpit on occasion may only be a political source dressed up like a religious source. In reality, many religious organizations are not in the business of spreading a political agenda. At least not one apart from their religious message. In America the Pulpit has a distinctly Christian character but in other countries it takes other forms. It depends on the dominant religious mindset. The religious character of the content is nothing more than a carrier for the real message. The goal is to create ideological divides that destroy class unity. Like you learn in sports : "keep your eye on the ball". The ball in this situation is the economic issues that should unite people of the working classes. The Pulpit's goal is to create distractions. Nothing has worked better in the last few decades at taking our eyes off the ball than the abortion debate. The Pro-Life / Pro-Choice war, fueled in part by The Pulpit has driven a wedge right through the working class. Now politicians can line up behind the economic agenda of the Elites and divide themselves along abortion lines.

While the abortion issue has been the most successful distraction fueled by the Pulpit it is by no means the only one. Debates about school prayer and evolution have been useful as well in driving people away from their economic concerns and into the arms of the elite-funded politicians who are more than willing to protect the world from the "heathens" at the door while they dismantle the working class institutions. Is it really going to help people to know that they are the divine creations of God, drafted in his image if they can't get access to decent health care, employment or education?

But what do the Pulpits get out of subverting their religious message for political ends? They easy answer is money, tax deductible charitable contribution to be more precise. Its not hard to see that when the choice arises between which church will receive the charitable blessings of the wealthy that ones promoting a "wealth friendly" message are at a competitive advantage. Its hardly in your best interest as a church to spend too much time dwelling on the spiritual emptiness of vast material wealth if you plan on using charitable contributions from wealthy donors to pay the bills and expand. For the wealthy its a double good deal. On one hand you fund an organization which helps promote a political agenda, on the other hand you get to deduct the donations from your taxes. Its like tax deductible PR.

The Pulpit and the Elites have a nice symbiotic relationship going. The Pulpit gets funding for its religious crusades and the Elites get the politically useful distractions and diversions created by those crusades. Specifically the GOP can recruit working class religious people into their decidedly pro-rich political party and the Democrats can use the abortion debate to scare people away from more class conscious alternatives. The working class loses again as we march to the polls to pull the levers for either a Pro-Choice or Pro-Life candidate, both of whom will be spending the next four years undermining our ability to survive.

Meme's, their Origins and the Damage They Do

What if I was to pitch a business idea to you?

Start an organization that promotes an agenda strictly tailored to enable the wealthiest people in America to be even more wealthy. You go to these wealthy people, hit them up for donations and get a short list of things that would help them amass an even greater fortune. You both know that you can get great "bank for the buck" with favorable legislation. With ample funding you employ a team of writers to crank out papers that justify the wealthy agenda. You send them out every day to appear on television talk shows and radio programs, repeating the predetermined message everywhere they go. They even write editorials under the guise of independent journalists. The writers may go on to hold minor political posts to promote the wealthy agenda. Some of the members of your organization are former politicians that have promoted the wealthy agenda in the past and need a place to go between elected offices or appointed political posts. Your organization acts as a holding pool for people that are working for a common goal: making the rich, richer. And its entirely funded by wealthy contributions.

Great idea? No?

Too bad somebody has already beat you to it. They're called Think Tanks. A good percentage of people that shape political thought in this country are now employed at one of these cesspools of thought. They are not journalists but ideologues with an agenda. The messages they spread are determined by the donors and the media messengers are merely salesmen to pitch the product. The methods they employ to promote their message are the same ones used by the guy at three A.M who is trying to get you to buy a complete set of Samurai Swords for only three easy payments of $39.99. You emphasize what you want people to hear and downplay things that undermine your pitch. Its a class-based form of public relations. Instead of a PR firm promoting a product or company you have a think tank promoting the ideas of the wealthy. Think Tanks are not partisan motivated. You can see this in the occasional quarrels that break out between politicians and the think tanks themselves. Think Tanks have one goal and that is to pave the road for their desired political action. Its up to the political parties to recognize the groundwork that's been laid and to take advantage of it. Think of it like this; the writers at the TTs are like guides, they get their maps from the elites and they go about clearing the political climate for that goal. The politicians from either political party can make a choice, they can either follow the well cleared path made for then by the TTs or attempt to carve out their own political agenda. In the eyes of the politicians TTs are like a free arm of your campaign if you choose the right issues. Is it any suprise that TTs have been so successful in moving the political agenda in America?

Its not an accident when three of today's "Call the Editor" callers repeated the Think Tank meme on the tax cuts: "Giving rich people tax cuts will help the economy; They deserve a bigger cut because they pay more; The poor don't pay taxes." and my favorite "The poor are a drain on our society".

I know these things because the American Enterprise Institute knows these things.

Orcinus' David Neiwert is a much more authoritative source for discussions of this sort. But my take on the Eric Rudolph case is wait and see, let justice work. Let the govt. present its evidence and let a jury decide when and where he's guilty.

On the other hand, the people who are coming out and saying they support him because he's doing the work of God make me sick to my stomach, much in the same way that people in the Middle East with Osama Bin Laden bumper stickers and cell phone graphics do. Its the same mentality and it breeds the same level of inhumane treatment for each other.

The Unofficial Paul Krugman Web Page
And the bald-faced misrepresentation of an elitist tax cut offering little or nothing to most Americans is only the latest in a long string of blatant misstatements. Misleading the public has been a consistent strategy for the Bush team on issues ranging from tax policy and Social Security reform to energy and the environment. So why should we give the administration the benefit of the doubt on foreign policy?

I feel for poor ol' Mr. Krugman, I'm sure there are things he would rather be doing than pointing out the obvious to a nation of people that are living in some sort of stupor. (yes, I'm serious here).

The reality that not only are people in the United States of America not shouting from the highest mountaintops for the head of Dubya, they are not even calling for an impeachment, and there is the real risk that this Whitehouse crook might get re-elected in 2004.

ok, think about this.. they LIED about the reason for war with Iraq. Sure they call it over-selling or some such nonsense. But how does anybody get past the admittance by Wolfowitz that invading Iraq was based on a bureaucratic pretense.

Q: Was that one of the arguments that was raised early on by you and others that Iraq actually does connect, not to connect the dots too much, but the relationship between Saudi Arabia, our troops being there, and bin Laden's rage about that, which he's built on so many years, also connects the World Trade Center attacks, that there's a logic of motive or something like that? Or does that read too much into --

Wolfowitz: No, I think it happens to be correct. The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but -- hold on one second --

Whoops! So now it seems that the reason for going to war wasn't so much about WMD as it was about strategic politics; giving us a place to move our troops to and position ourselves better in the Middle East. I can understand that (actually makes some kind of twisted sense), but when people were shouted down when they said that the real reasons for the war had little to do with imminent threat and more to do with politics then we have a problem.. because they were right after all. This war was sold on a false prettense.

multiple choice question: Which is a worse lie?

a) Lying about your sex life?
b) Claiming a country is a threat and starting a war?
c) a and b are morally equivalent

The Asshole Discount

Right now I work in retail. I have for the past few years. It has taught me plenty about people and the way they think. It has helped me learn to interact and get along with all types of different people. A reading of Deborah Tannen's "You Just Don't Undertstand" helped as well. But I see a disturbing trend originating out of the retail world, most especially out of the corporate chains. My friend Sarah called it the Asshole discount. I'm not sure if she made that up or not.

Here's the way it works: You go into a store and you demand something that most people would not, most likely some sort of discount, or the ability to return goods that are clearly not in resellable condition. When the store declines to accede to your demands you just get more angry and ask to see a manager, who capitulates and apologizes for having any sort of backbone whatsoever. The customer gets what they want, only because they were willing to make a complete asshole out of themselves.

A real life example: The other day a man lets me know that he wishes to purchase an item. He looks me in the eyes and says "What kind of discount can I get, ten percent?". I let him know that the item was already reduced as part of a special promotion and that I would not lower the price any further. To which he lets me know that he has purchased something from this store before and he expects a discount. He then asks that I speak to a manager. I do and the manager capitulates and reduces the price further. I inform the man and he asks me what I will throw in for free and suggests a few items. I say "Sure, what else do you want? Some of (these) or (these)?" I point out a few things. He senses my sarcasm and I tell him, "I can't give you anything for free." The manager backs me up (finally). The customer purchases the items and leaves. Scenarios like these happen quite frequently. I doubt the company made any money from this customer. He was able to get the item he wanted for less money than other people simply because he was willing to make a jerk out of himself. He was rewarded for his poor behavior.

I see this as the equivalent of pulling over at McDonalds every time your child screams and cries that he wants a happy meal. If you do then you'll never be able to say no ever again without getting poor behavior. But corporate chains (and some small ones as well) are in essence creating a climate of cry-babies that realize they need only scream and act like petulant children if they want something. This punishes people that act properly and with good behavior. Plus it creates a pattern of behavior that forces otherwise nice people to act in ways that they would rather not just so they don't get ripped off.

Some would call it shrewd, I think it sucks. I personally don't care much if the company loses money. I just hate giving people what they want just because they act up.

(whew... got that off my chest!)


About Me

35 yr old
Highlands Ranch
Recording Engineer
Voted for Kerry
Voted for Obama
Philosophical Type
Omicron Male
Feminist Friendly
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