Concerto for blunt instrument

An irregular heartbeat from d.o. to you. Not like a daily kos, more like a sometime sloth. Fast relief from the symptoms of blogarrhea and predicated on the understanding that the world is not a stage for our actions, rather it is a living organism upon which we depend for our existence.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

How religious crackpots in Washington scared the bejeesus out of America

I'd never make a good atheist. Due to my romantic attachment to the mysterious I have a tendency to go agnostic on everyone. When I experience more than my share of precognitive dreams, when synchronisity seems as common as the cold, and when circumstances sometimes defy reasonable explanations, I find it difficult to deny the possibility of a greater power. However, naming that power is not something I'm prepared to do, though neither am I ready to write off God, Jesus or the Bible as complete works of fiction. How terribly agnostic of me. Yet, when I'm exposed to the sort of extreme religious fanaticism as we've witnessed recently my benefit-of-the-doubt default begins to come unglued.

The appalling and grotesque three ring circus engineered by religious crackpots and neo-con opportunists in Congress and the White House over the Terry Schiavo tragedy is only the latest example of religious fanaticism at its worst. Today we find the Washington ringmasters and much of the Floridian sideshow impresarios have packed up their virtual revival tents and slipped off into the night leaving the parents of Schiavo and a dwindling and rather pathetic looking band of followers to pick up the pieces. Such shameless abandonment speaks volumes about what degrees of integrity are to be found among the Christian Talaban presently occupying our nation's capitol. Finding that a vast majority of their fellow citizens are repulsed by their macabre behavior, that they have finally gone too far with their far-right fundamentalist agenda, the Christian Talaban suddenly find other pressing business. Nevermind that their gruesome display of zealous exploitation should never have taken place, they compound the sin by bailing on the victims.

We have a long and sordid history of such behavior here in the U.S., so long and sordid that incidents like U.S. Congressmen passing legislation to subpoena a witness whose brain is dead, or plotting to hold some sort of hearing by her deathbed seem no more surreal than any of a growing number of self-parodies consecrated by these far-right zealots. All this would be just so much all-American gruesome entertainment if their theocratic agenda in DC wasn't so chilling.

Now that all the legal challenges in the Schiavo case have been exhausted and public opinion has turned against them, where will the Christian Talaban erect their circus tents next? Perhaps on some elementary school playground where a teacher has refused to teach so-called creationism. Perhaps at the site of some book-burning where the righteous indignation of the far-right condemns the likes of Harry Potter, The Da Vinci Code, or Sponge Bob dvd's into the fire. But, wherever they go they may never shake the image of themselves that we have witnessed in the past two weeks. Like fanatical crackpots on city street corners raving that the end is near, the bizarre behavior of the far-right fundies have led millions of our neighbors to hope that the end is indeed near, at least for the Christian Talaban.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Usual suspects need rounding up

It was revealed the other day, even on MSNBC, that the Bush regimes' "Town Hall Meeting" on Monday in New Jersey was totally staged. Surprise! MSNBC failed however to note that half the participants were bused in by the far-right noise machine FreedomWorks. Great name for a rightwing event packing, fake expert-fronting PR machine. FreedomWorks, like "we manufacture freedom-like products!". Their board of directors is made up of such ignoble notables as Dick Armey and Jack Kemp, two guys with lots of experience with such production.

Some other far-right operatives have been in the news lately, but unfortunately the corporate media is failing to connect the dots. (Hey! They've got the Michael Jackson trial to cover. Give them a break! They can't be everywhere). When the news broke that Choicepoint's head honchos were into a little insider trading last year, our faithful guardians in the Fourth Estate failed to mention that Choicepoint is the same outfit that was discovered doing foreign data mining for its friends in the White House. Of course, those are the same friends Choicepoint helped get INTO the White House back during Election 2000. Another perhaps even more fascinating unconnected dot comes in the form of Choicepoint's spiritual founder, Hank Asher, father of the aptly named MATRIX database. Asher was a drug runner in the 1980s during the same time a certain company was involved with the Nicaraguan Contras and illicit drug smuggling. Soooo many of the usual suspects in the Iran-Contra scandal are now, you guessed it, working in the Bush regime!

Have you heard about this from the U.S. corporate media? No? Nothing from the darling of Faux News, Bill O'Reilly? One might think that the guy who wrote the jokes for "Uncle Ted's Ghoul School", a Saturday night monster movie show on WNEP-TV in Scranton,PA might be inclined to cover the ghoul school being run out of the Oval Office, no? Not likely. And it's not likely the "liberal media" on the Networks or the big dailies will connect the dots unless they start to smell blood. THAT won't happen until some sort of critical mass is reached. However, given the incredible outrages committed by this extremist, out-of-control administration, one can't help but wonder if they’re even IS a limit to their arrogance. Let us pray for one?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Truth or consequences

As the U.S. Supreme Court ponders over whether or not it’s kosher to display the Ten Commandments on the courthouse wall, out here in the real world we’re wondering if the wall between church and state will withstand the siege coming from 21st Century crusaders and their camp followers. Many of those followers seem to be waving little read books, at least little read by those upon the wall.

The popularity of the "Left Behind" books, fictional fundamentalist Christian accounts of the so-called Rapture and Second Coming, seems rather fitting for a culture as far removed from reality as the one that’s been manufactured here in the U.S. Since so much of our social experience, our media; our commerce; the everyday experiences of commuting; work; recreation; even education or relating to one another is fabricated more on what we’d like to believe than on what actually exists, it shouldn’t be surprising so many people cling to fiction. While the U.S. certainly isn’t alone in this, something more a product of human psychology than of social engineering, we surely have created one of the greatest infrastructures for the conveyance of illusion. Witness the idolism of Disney or the popularity of such euphemisms as "reality TV": all simulations, counterfeit realities. Of course religion and politics in this nation also reflect the reality of our unrealities. So, why is it so many of us mistake their contents for truth?

Well, there’s the truth and then there’s the gospel truth. The truth, in this observer’s opinion, is when you pick-up a rock, feel it in your hand, then hit yourself in the head with it. Ouch! That hurts. The rock is hard. There’s blood coming out of my head. The gospel truth, on the other hand, is intangible, a collection of stories. For instance, it’s supposedly the gospel truth that a guy named Jesus, who reportedly was crucified over 2,000 years ago, is going to come back from a place in the sky called Heaven (he already returned from the grave), and that his true believers here on Earth will also rise up into Heaven during a period called The Rapture, apparently without the aid of fossil fuels or an oxygen mask. Did I forget to mention Jesus also brought someone else back from the dead, that he once walked on water, and another time turned it into wine?

So, the gospel truth says that the Bible, appearing for all the world to be a work of fiction, given that so much of what goes on in it is physically impossible, is actually the literal truth. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ "Left Behind", being based on the Bible, might then be described by some as a work of fiction based on a work of fiction. However, that’s not necessarily how tens of millions of your fellow citizens might view it. They’re buying the book in droves and some of them are claiming salvation as a result of their purchase. Many others are simply saying what’s inside is true. That’s their reality.

Tim LaHaye is founder of the fundamentalist Creationist Institute and a co-founder of the rightwing Moral Majority. His wife, Beverly LaHaye, heads Concerned Women of America, another far-right noise machine lecturing Americans on how they should live. LaHaye is not your Little Brown Church in the Vale type preacher, not by any stretch. The guy is all about establishing a fundamentalist Christian nation right here in the much vaunted Land of the Free. In his book, "Battle for the mind", LaHaye proclaims "We must vote in pro-moral leaders who will return our country to the biblical base upon which it is founded." O, you weren’t aware your country was founded on a biblical base? Neither was the Father of our nation, George Washington. He said: "The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine." Transforming what’s left of our present day democracy (albeit floundering in corruption and hypocrisy) into a theocracy will take a good deal of salesmanship and clever PR. Televangelists and their fellow travelers are no strangers to those fields of endeavor, in fact, proselytizing may be THE sales pitch of all time. LaHaye and Jenkins’ works of fiction are apparently just the most recent successful product line for the born again crusader lifestyle; another useful tool for filing the ranks of Christian soldiers marching off to war. The war is essentially the same one they were going on about 800 years ago, the war against non-believers, heathens, the other. The Bush regime’s much hyped War on Terror, something Bush himself referred to as a crusade, seems to provide numerous examples [1], [2] of that greater crusade.

But check that calendar, it’s the 21st Century, not the 12th. The major battleground, at least as far as the fundamentalists are concerned, remains in the Mid-East. As we speak, IED’s are going off not far from the alleged ruins of the Garden of Eden. Rightwing nut-jobs are hatching plans for the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Perhaps more ominously, at least for us here an ocean away, is the second front of that war: what appears to be the battle for the United States of America. In the lexicon of the alleged Second Coming there’s supposed to be a seven year period after all the "saved" have caught the flight to Heaven, it’s called The Tribulation. During that period whoever remains earthbound will be brawling with the anti-Christ. It’s supposed to be very ugly.

Taking on rightwing extremists who seem bent on subverting democracy, taking control of the nation and the world, returning women to the shackles of servitude, and reducing the planet to a lifeless desert is tribulation enough. We can pick up their brochures in our hands and read them, we can see and hear their fire and brimstone on the media, read their over-the-top books, or witness their cruel votes in congress. The present occupant of the White House claims to be "saved", he has told people he is doing God’s will, that God told him to attack Iraq. His decisions and the work of those around him have resulted in tens of thousands of needless deaths, they have thrown away the lives of 1500 young, mostly poor, U.S. soldiers, they have initiated countless incidents of torture and abuse, they have destroyed untold numbers of lives of the worlds’ other creatures, as well as contributing immensely to the ruin of forests, watersheds, and the biosphere. These are tangible losses. Like a rock to the head, they bring pain and bloodshed. That’s the truth.

But the gospel truth is something else, something that was supposed to bring comfort to the stricken or bereaved. That the Bible and its spin-offs are used for the opposite purpose, for creating fear and discomfort is, well, a real sin. It’s getting so you can’t tell your preachers from your false prophets, you saviors from your anti-Christ. In an interview on Air America recently, TimLaHaye said the anti-Christ will be a person full of charisma, the leader of a major power. In the "Left Behind" series that person is Nicolae Carpathia, the Pope. In the real world, if an anti-Christ exists at all, he may well be enthroned closer to home.