Tuesday, April 19, 2005

On Politics and Religion

I am not a historian but I think there was a time in America when Americans would have been very aware and appalled at any politician who used religion as a tool for political gain. This time was more then a hundred years ago and the reason for this behavior was the awakening of the rational American mind.

One major proponent of this view was one of the most popular lecturers of his day Robert Green Ingersoll. His arguments, and personal example, that a man could be moral, wise, and happy without relying on religious dogma struck a strong cord with the people of that time.

Why this past America is so different then the one we find ourselves in today is an open question. My guess would be that the idea of the separation of church and state was a fundamental belief shared by the people of this day. More fundamental then today because the population at large was more in touch with the writings and beliefs of the founding fathers - who strongly advocated this idea.

Secondly, and maybe more importantly, the average people of this day were beginning to open their eyes to the idea that rational thinking should play a more dominate role in the non-religious day to day decisions of life. Their openness to this rational view was probably caused by the amazing progress that they saw occurring all around them. Men like Robert Green Ingersoll were there, at this time, to make them realize that this progress was directly related to the advances that were occurring in the sciences - by way of the rational and educated human mind. His argument that this amazing progress, over just a few decades, was beyond the contribution that religion had accomplished over many centuries was irrefutable. Today this argument is just as irrefutable but you will not find a serious politician who would dare express this view.

This unique time in American made it possible for a large group of people to insist that non-religious topics be argued rationally. It only made sense then that politics, which the majority of people accepted as different then religion, was to be argued rationally and not religiously.

Why we went astray of this view is a question I would like to hear answered. Better yet, you can forget the answer to this question if you can answer the one about how we can again find our rational nature.

Some Republicans like to argue how one of the great burdens of their lives is living with the politically correct society that the liberal Democrats have supposedly created. The hypocrisy of this argument, in light of their own parties politically correct teachings, is laughable. In my view one of the most offensive politically correct masks that Americans are forced to wear today is the mask of religiousity. And without a doubt the ones who designed, cut, and glued this mask to the faces of all Americans are the creaters of, and participants in, the Republican Christian Crusade.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Their ears are closed to your "Freedom of Speech"

After reading the blog entry listed below and then reviewing the comments that others made to this story I decided to make some comments of my own.

Art Exhibit Featuring Bush Stamp Probed
April 13, 2005
http://www.blogsforbush.com/mt/archives/004195.html

The comments I made to this article were as follows:

Look at the discussion that has been created by a very simple image. The conversation that has taken place here, the good as well as the bad, would not exist if not for this image. The wave of questions that have been raised here (What is the intent or meaning of this image? Does this image violate freedom of speech? What effect will the patriot act have on America?) came from this image and this image alone. That my friends is called freedom of speech. In less free places in this world these conversations never take place. Not only because they are outlawed but because the incident that sparks the conversation is outlawed. So prosecute this artist to the extent that your nature speaks to you. Your voice is made possible because his voice is not yet silent.

After I made these comments on the BlogsForBush web site I thought this would be a good test on how to use a blog trackback. By doing this the readers of this story could be linked to the entry I made previously on my blog called "Reality Versus Perception". I felt that the "Reality Versus Perception" entry made a good point about letting others dictate what is real.

The procedure for setting up this link is simple enough. You fill in the appropriate trackback information and then give your link an introduction. The introduction that I wrote said:

It is distressing to think that there are so many people who believe that the phrase "freedom of speech" is more like clay then it is like stone.

Once this information is entered you then send a request to the site that you want to link to - this is called pinging the site. If they accept your request the link is made - if they do not then you are given a reason why. I finished entering the necessary information and then anxiously pressed the "ping now" button.

Unfortunately, the BlogsForBush web site, much like our current administration, is not interested in having a free and open exchange of ideas. The reply that I received back from my trackback request was simply "Your ping was denied for questionable content".

Oh well. It would seem that for those who fail at turning the rock into clay the next best choice is to hide it away.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Give me your mind

It is truly amazing how devious the religious zealots among us can be in their attempt to control the reality of the world around them.

A coworker of mine recently went to a seminar whose premise was that we need to spend more time with our children to cultivate their personal and religious lives. I could hear him speaking about this philosophy - which really cannot be argued with - that we should all spend more time speaking with and cultivating our children. This idea is not devious - it is totally positive and anyone making an argument contrary to this would be seen as inhuman and without a moral compass.

The next view that then began to be explained by my coworker, a view that was also part of this recently attended seminar, was the creationism view - a view based on a strict literal interpretation of the Bible. You know the one where the world is really only 6,000 years old. Curiously the modern creationist will attempt to use scientific reasoning to persuade you that the current science which helps to support the theory of evolution is wrong. Of course they first have to interject a great deal of non scientific reasoning to make this argument. Again, I do not find the teaching of creationism to be devious. I personally do not have a problem with those who wish to fill their days arguing that a reality based on creationism is just as scientifically possible as one based on evolution.

What does bother me, and something that I do find devious and bordering on mind control, is an organization that combines the two topics of "child growth through nurturing" and "reality by way of creationism" together in the same seminar. The intent to manipulate the audience is obvious to any one who still has an objective and rational mind. However, since the audiences to these seminars are selected from specific groups I doubt that objective minds are well represented.

By teaching an indisputably positive, moral, family view with a very disputable religious view they make the acceptance of creationism feel better to the audience. Indeed, from a psychological stand point, what better way to win an audience over then by first healing their hearts through some very beneficial advice. Once the leaders of this seminar, these angels of good intent, have proven to you that they have the self interest of your family and you in mind how could you doubt that they are any less correct when they expresses their arguments that the human centric view of existence explains the real reality. To me this behavior is the definition of the word devious. Because only those who administer this sugar coated pill know that the intent of this mind control medicine is to persuade you by first anesthetizing your reason.

Like any fanatical movement this is just another modern example of how a person is first embraced by a belief and then manipulated by the ones who stand above the believers. The thinking shepherd among the ignorant sheep so to speak. To them each convert is one mind closer to imposing their beliefs on those who are not so easily persuaded by their methods or their arguments.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Your biggest problem isn't with the neighbors

A comment by Mark at Zenpundit:
THE GOP PLAYING THE KETTLE TO PAUL KRUGMAN'S POT
Thursday, April 07, 2005
http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/

An Academic Question
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: April 5, 2005
http://www.nytimes.com/pages/opinion/index.html

My Response to Mark's post at Zenpundit:
The overall point that you are making in this post is a valid one and would be worth debating - if issues today could be discussed rationally. The days when solutions could be brought about by a general consensus, once the intellectual and political debates had occurred, have passed. That once more breathable atmosphere does not exist today and has not existed since the early 90's. That is the time when the republicans, of which I was a member, decided that their guiding principle would be, from that day forward, to win at any ideological cost. This pursuit would occur no matter what constituency could be collected under the same roof. Their mantra would be that rational debate and consensus is for losers.

Your beginning admissions in this post seems to convey a belief on your part that those of your non-wingnut persuasion are still in charge of this stitched together "winning" party. The emphasis on the word winning is important only because it seems to be enough of a payment to have appeased the former ideological pure in the party. You seem to believe that the wingnuts (those that have helped the republicans establish their current dominance) will eventually be reined in. The only basis I can find for this thinking is that you must still think, at this late hour in your party, that thought will prevail over the religious emotions that have been tapped, and that ideological pure beliefs will be pursued over the keeping of power. With a rational group of people this might indeed be true. Unfortunately you would have to be completely hypnotized to believe that the current facade, structure, and constituency of the Republican Party is made of rational bricks. The Republican Party of today is constructed of mud, straw, and faith - a faith that reason, debate, and consensus should not stand in the way of what their constituents believe to be right.

To conclude I will just say that your arguments against Paul Krugman's editorial in passed days would have been worth debating. However, lighting a match of reason during a raging fire of ignorance is not a very productive pursuit. In my view your time would be better spent saving your own home from its more irrational occupants then tearing at the shingles of your disrespectful neighbors house.

Friday, April 01, 2005

You Go First

To Eric, who wants the democrats to take the lead in the Social Security (SS) debate when he says:

"Tackling the issue now takes courage; ducking it is cowardice."

http://vikingpundit.blogspot.com/2005/03/courage-and-cowardice-heres-kevin-drum.html

I reply:
You seem to think that it takes courage to yell fire, as the republicans have done up to this point. It does not. Courage is when you lead someone out of danger.

The SS debate has raged on long enough for everyone to realize that private accounts (or the more politically correct personal accounts - semantics indeed) do nothing to address the issue of a SS funding shortfall. Additionally, everyone realizes (republican and democrat) that the acceptable consensus solution will involve one or more of the following:

1)tax increases.
2)benefit reductions.
3)retirement eligibility age.
4)wag based indexing.

These are the exit doors available from the smoke that the republicans have turned into a blazing fire. If the republicans truly believed in leadership and courage they would construct a real solution from these components - regardless of the political consequences - and move the debate forward. But unfortunately, here is where their cowardice is shown to anyone who really has an open mind - and not a party mind. They know, as you do, that each of these fixes will invariably make part of their political base less likely to vote for them.

Courage and politics rarely go hand in hand. The republicans would rather have the messenger to the American people be the other party - since the ultimate solution will be seen as a sell out to some part of their base.

Once an acceptable democrat can be coerced into this messenger role by those, like you, yelling leadership and courage, republicans will then move forward with the debate. A rational debate will then ensue that will bring about the ultimate solution.

The icing on the cake for the republicans is that this democrat, along with a lot of his colleagues, can take their courage with them out of Washington when the republicans slay these messengers in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

Courageous is not in the man who says lets go - it is the man who goes first. Before you call all democrats cowards remember that your party, and its leader, has done nothing more then say lets go.

The Social Security Sky is Falling

To Eric who said:

"If nothing is done, automatic benefit cuts of 27% (for everyone) kick in when the trust fund is depleted in 2041."

http://vikingpundit.blogspot.com/2005/03/courage-and-cowardice-heres-kevin-drum.html

I reply:
It is amazing how successful Bush's plan to create a crisis has worked on you. The idea that a problem in 2041 is a crisis today - short of a giant meteor screaming towards the earth - is laughable. Especially since a 73% SS benefit in 2041 is probably better then what Americans will get if they allow this ideological based crisis to force them into making a rash decision today.

Bush, a politician to his very core, is well aware that in a crisis people will delegate their thinking to those they trust - whether they are trustworthy or not. Now that the sky is falling SS crisis has been seen for the rhetoric that it really is, Bush - and his boys - are praying for a sacrificial democrat to come along to save them from the political hole that they, and they alone, dug themselves into.

I can see it already - as soon as that first democrat enters the SS Colosseum that was built by the republicans. He opens his bipartisan mouth in an attempt to overt a false crisis only to be met by a roar of dissent from the ruling class who scream loudly and enthusiastically; down with taxes, down with big government, down with liberals.

Then, once the lions have fully feasted on this poor, well intentioned democrat, they are free to return to their positions of power feeling quite vindicated. Now they have turned their hole into a mound, a mound that they can use to preach from in defeating democrats in future elections.

If you think this characterization of politics is overly cynical then you must be either naive (meaning young in age), ignorant (as in being in a coma for the last 15 years), or stupid (meaning a win at all cost, no debate, no compromise republican).