Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I have been reading up on virtue ethics recently. This is because I cannot endure the illogical lashings of faith-based religious dogma, but find myself hoping there are logical reasons to be ethical.

The common refrain among the philosophers I've read so far is that good behavior leads to happiness, whereas bad behavior leads to unhappiness. Good behavior is that which does no harm, whereas bad behavior is harmful.

If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!

Clap. Clap.

Recently I have been reading "A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues" by Andre Comte-Sponville. It is information that should be taught in our schools, particularly since it requires no religious frame of reference to study Politeness, or Fidelity, or Prudence, or Temperance, or Courage, or Justice, and so on, yet the thrust of these virtues is not normally contradicted by religious teaching (although religious practice seems another matter).

I have worked my way down the list to Tolerance, where I received somewhat of a surprise that seems topical on this day which president Bush delivers his annual state of the union address.

"The ideal subject of totalitarian rule", notes Hannah Arendt, "is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist." Sophistry plays into the hands of totalitarianism: if nothing is true, how can we oppose its lies? If there are no facts, how can we accuse totalitarianism of concealing or distorting them, and how can we reply to its propaganda? For while totalitarianism lays claim to the truth, it inevitably, whenever the real truth disappoints its expectations, invents another, more manageable one.
Totalitarianism begins as dogmatism (it claims that the truth legitimizes it and justifies its power) and ends as sophistry (it calls "truth" whatever legitimizes it and justifies its power).

Andre Comte-Sponville
A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues
Page 164

To elaborate on the second paragraph, we could say that president Bush used something true (911) to justify his power, but then wound up calling true whatever extended that power (Tom Delay, Jack Abramoff, Torture, Spying on Americans, Tax breaks for the wealthy, gay bashing, religious bigotry).

So when it comes to el presidente Bush's state of the union address, those unfit for totalitarianism have a duty to challenge every fiction with facts, and what is false with what is true.

Those fit for totalitarianism need only believe every utterance as gospel.

Monday, January 30, 2006

All too real

Satire is all too real these days and I find it a touch sad too because I know that a comedian finds humor in what he does, whereas our presidential nowhere man takes himself seriously.

But brave satirists keep on trying and here is a worthy attempt gratefully acknowledged:

State of the Union preview

Take 'em at their word

In this article el presidente Bush expresses confidence that his warrantless wiretaps are legal.

Is the warrantless warranted

"Oh yeah?", I say, "then how about we put that empty flight deck bravado to the test and let a court decide, which is where we decide such matters in the U. S. of A."

Nixon, I repeat, resigned in disgrace because he would have been impeached for spying on Americans.

Leahy on Alito

Here is a terrific statement from Senator Patrick Leahy.

Alito a Threat to Our Fundamental Rights

My favorite line is this:

In the days immediately following those attacks [9/11], I said, and I continue to believe, that the terrorists win if they frighten us into sacrificing our freedoms and what defines us as Americans.

He seems to be one of the few prominent democrats that realizes Alito's nomination has little to do with abortion.

I wonder what kind of presidential candidate he'd make.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Alito and stereotypes

I love it when I encounter a fun and creative blog and "The Beast: America's Best Fiend" fits the bill.

Amongst all of the acidity and toxicity of the Alito confirmation process they playfully pit Super Mario and Chef Boyardee in a debate in which they cudgel each other with Italian stereotypes:


Laughter is healthy so enjoy the doctoring.

A new argument for ending the war

The war in Iraq is the brainchild of a man that takes pride in the fact that he isn't intellectual.

An intellectual is one that is "learned".
A near-perfect antonym for "learned" is "moronic".

People consider you "learned" if you are intelligent.
If you are intelligent you avoid doing stupid things.
Therefore taking pride in not being intellectual is equivalent to pride in doing stupid things.

The president has much to be proud of in that regard, and Iraq no doubt provides a magnificent outlet for his pride.

However, for those of us that don't enjoy seeing the treasury draining, our children shot at, our enemies strengthening, our allies pulling back, nuclear weapons proliferating, and Osama still free, Iraq provides an outlet not for pride but outrage.

The president is an ignorant man. He brags about it. He's proud of his poor judgment and so we should feel merciful towards him. If you believe in fate then you believe he is not a moronic man because he chooses to be moronic, but rather he made the choices he did because he is moronic. If you believe instead that he chose to be moronic of his own free will, then you must also believe that he wants to be moronic, which of course means that he is moronic.

So, he deserves our pity and our mercy, but that does not excuse our duty to oppose him because moronic people make harmful choices and harmful choices are stupid. Another way to think of a stupid person is unintentionally evil. Only intentionally harmful people are evil and they too should receive mercy for the same reasons stated above.

Anyhow we have a duty to stop this harmful behavior of our proudly moronic president before he proudly gets us all harmed with his stupid choices. To that end I suggest another rationale for ending the war and it is this...

President Bush insists he is omnipotent and infallible in time of war, and right to use torture and correct to spy on Americans. So, ending the war pulls the rug out from that argument and there would be no pretense for a presidential potentate to obfuscate, obstruct, omit, and overreach.

Of course one might also argue that an Authorization to Use Force is not a Declaration of War and that we are not legally "at war", but with Republicons holding virtue hostage to monied interests, it is best to use decisive counter-argument.

Stop the war.
Stop the domestic spying.
Stop the war.
Open Guantanamo to our Justice system.
Stop the war.
Stop the flight-deck bravado.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Frist helps dems on Alito

Alito is easy enough to oppose given that he was a supporter of an organization dedicated to keeping minorities and women out of Princeton's student body (namely Concerned Alumni of Princeton). It should be duly noted that even Bill Frist himself criticized CAP as "extreme" (Source).

Senate Majority leader Bill Frist has again come to the aid of democrats by exclaiming that Samuel Alito is "the worst nightmare of liberal democrats".

This means that there is now fodder from a top republican that twice accuses Alito of being extremist.

Thanks Senator Frist!

We need a Supreme Court Justice to uphold liberty and justice for all of us, not just the small circle of people Mr. Alito's bias excludes.

As cuddly as a cactus

If you grasp the Republicon worldview and take 'em at their word then it follows that we would all be safest in prisons with neocon jailers.

But of course, from what I hear anecdotally, prison is not a healthy environment. I hear that the food isn't good, the companions are prone to violence, and the colors are drab.

When I think of disheartened people shuffling to and fro, sufficiently wiretapped, video taped, inspected, dejected, and barren of delights, what comes to mind is the old haunting humbug of Communist rule.

Yes friends and neighbors, Republicons wish to rule us like Communist dictators to protect us from...

But, in order to do that they need to spy on us and get us to snitch on each other and turn our hopes to fears. The spying appears to be well under way and I'm sure operation TIPS will be renewed in another form soon.

The question now is will Americans become trembling masses tied together with one dark cord of delusion and bound together in a prison without bars?

Will we acquiesce power of the people by allowing Alito's nomination to proceed?

Will we inflame our paranoia at every pronouncement from Osama and clamber for restrictions on our freedom and diminishment of our joys?

Will we stifle our creativity with alarms and searches and barbed wire and the noise noise noise of Fantastic fandooblers and gigantic gobjumblers?

Are we madder than the cows?

Are we sicker than the birds?

Are we more stranded than the whales?

What are we giving up?

Does the sun ever shine in a neocon world?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Big Bang

I have never much cared for the "Big Bang" theory of creation because it strikes me as gibberish in fancy dress clothes.

There was nothing.
There was a bang.
There was everything.

Scratch scratch scratch.

Well, I guess you could say it was a "Big" bang.


It strikes me, really, that anyone wishing to believe that may as well believe in oompah loompahs.

While scientists peer into space trying to corroborate this piece of the big bang theory or that one I keep waiting for someone to look up and say, "Wait a minute! It's rubbish!"

I keep waiting for some lab-coated scientist to walk out of a back room, singing...

Oompa Loompa, doompadah dee
If you are wise you'll listen to me
Because the stars are so far away
They coalesce when we view them this way

So it's back to the drawing-board
for you know who.

I suspect, I can't say I believe in it the way I believe in elevators, that our universe has always existed (no beginning) or that I can't possibly exist.

Descarte said that if I think, I am, and I think I think. So I suppose I am leaning towards believing that matter and energy have always existed.

It does seem that without matter and without energy there are no people. And that if there are no people there is no time. So why not say that matter and energy have existed for all time?

The question "What existed before time?" does beg itself but I'm not sure that makes sense. Can one say what circles were like before pi existed?

Am I being Oompa Loompa Doopahdee dumb?

50 most loathsome people in America, 2005

Here is a list of the 50 most loathsome people in America in 2005.

It is sophomoric.
It uses foul language.
It is in questionable taste.

And yet, I laughed heartily.

America's Best Fiend

Monday, January 23, 2006

A promise

If Democrats are really going to roll over and confirm Alito then I promise to switch my party affiliation to Independent.

Alito was a member of the keep Princeton white and male club, more commonly known as CAP

The acronym CAP (as in capping the number of contaminated colored people) says it all.

What more is necessary to defeat Alito unless Republicans are willing to publicly defend a bigot amidst widespread corruption scandals during a war that is going very badly?

Harry Reid loses luster on this one unless he has some tricks up his sleeve.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Inconsistent Outrage

Only some 36% of Americans supported the impeachment of President Clinton, and Republicons responded by impeaching a popular president.

According to a new poll by Zogby, 52% of Americans believe that president Bush should be impeached for illegally wiretapping American citizens, and republicons have responded by NOT impeaching an UNpopular president.

Americans support impeachment

Could it be that ethics in Washington take a back seat to party loyalty?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The strength of Murtha

Mike Wallace does his best to discredit John Murtha in this CBS interview, but he is not the typical triangulator that Wallace is used to in a democrat. He has too much experience where it counts and too much bravery when it counts to be intimidated or tripped up by circular thinking.

When it was pointed out that president Bush said Mr. Murtha was wrong and that "the terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war on terror" he responded with:

""He'’s trying to fight this war with rhetoric. Iraq is not where the center of terrorism is. So when he says we'’re fighting terrorism over there, we're inciting terrorism over there. We're encouraging terror. We'’re destabilizing the area by being over there be‘cause we'’re the targets. He said before there'’s weapons of mass destruction. He said there'’s an al Qaeda connection. There'’s many things he said turned out not to be true. So why would I believe him when he says the things he just - made that statement."

Full details

When you lead when it counts that is real leadership.

If more democrats talked with fearlessness and devotion to their beliefs they would perhaps make modest gains when Republican support decidedly waned.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


It is difficult to maintain hatred when the object of your hatred is suffering. Pity makes Mercy come easier than it otherwise might.

When the object of your hatred is diabetic, blind, mostly deaf, and 76 years old it takes a real commitment to hatred to maintain it.

California's governor Arnold Swarzenegger is capable of such hatred.

Clarence Ray Allen

Blessed are the merciless
with hearts as cold as stone.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I want to know

If we don't kill ourselves off with global warfare then global warming seems liable to do the trick. When we're not busy bankrupting our nation to pay merchants of death we're busy sustaining a lifestyle that will ultimately destroy the planet.

We hate too much and we love too little.

And yet as I listened yesterday to the words of Martin Luther King Jr. on the radio I felt a spark of hope. A little, tiny, naked hope kindled in my heart.

How did he know what to do when "history seized him" as he put it?

How did he act so fearlessly?

How did he maintain his commitment to nonviolence?

How did he come to know so much about Philosophy, Religion, and People?

What school taught him?

Where did he learn to talk like that?

How did he face the dogs, the hoses, the bricks, the insults, and maintain his dignity?

How did he learn to speak not just in his own time but for all time?

How did he face such hatred with love?

Where can I learn that?

From politicians?

From churches that rape young children?

From television?

From books?

I want to develop an unshakeable faith in Love.

What kind of school do I enroll in?

I want to hurry to it.

Monday, January 16, 2006


A nation that continues to spend more money on military defense than social uplift year after year is approaching spiritual death.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Riverside Church, NY


As of January 2003, U.S. military spending was creeping toward $400 billion and exceeded the combined military spending of the 15 countries with the next biggest defense budgets.


Rediscovering Lost Values

Here is an excerpt from a speech of Martin Luther King Jr. which seems rather timely. He preaches that there are moral laws in this universe just like there are physical laws, and that you should no more lie and cheat and act disreputably than you should throw yourself off the tallest building in Detroit for fun.

I searched for free audio and wasn't able to find any. That is too bad because the power of Martin Luther's speech, not just his words, ought to be considered a gift to humanity and proclaimed free to all.

In any event you can read his powerful words and reflect on them.

This universe hinges on moral foundations. (Yeah) There is something in this universe that justifies Carlyle in saying, "No lie can live forever." There is something in this universe that justifies William Cullen Bryant in saying, "Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again." (My Lord, Amen) There is something in this universe that justifies James Russell Lowell in saying,

Truth forever on the scaffold,

Wrong forever on the throne.

Yet that scaffold sways the future. (Lord help him)

Behind the dim unknown stands God,

Within the shadow keeping watch above his own. (Amen)

There is something in this universe that justifies the biblical writer in saying, "You shall reap what you sow." (Amen) This is a law-abiding universe. (Amen) This is a moral universe. It hinges on moral foundations. (Lord help him) If we are to make of this a better world, we've got to go back and rediscover that precious value that we've left behind. (Yes)


These values, these virtues, seem missing from our modern lives. If there really are moral laws governing the universe, if it is truly wrong to hate, then what are the consequences of breaking the moral laws?

Should I fill my bathtub with water and stock up on duct tape?

Saturday, January 14, 2006


If you want to know how little regard George W. Bush has for human life all you have to do is familiarize yourself with this story.

The United States felt like assassinating Ayman Zawahiri and so shot a missile at him.

We missed.

By a lot.

And killed 17 Pakistanis including six women and children.

Killing the innocent

I am ashamed to admit that US officials defended the immoral behavior.

Is this compassionate conservatism or winning hearts and minds?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Impeachment Now

After years of widespread corruption scandals, incompetence, misconduct, and arrogant law-breaking by the Bush administration our nations Congressional leaders have begun to whisper the word "impeachment" into each others ears. In three more years perhaps they will consider acting on their coquettish conversations.

Until that time we can hear public outcries by people like former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman's, a decided boot in Nixon's derriere.

The tush of Bush needs a push


I get worried when I find myself in agreement with fundamentalist Christians about anything.

One concept that I do agree with, however, is that moral relativism cannot be True.

My reason for sharing this belief was elegantly phrased by Plato and goes like this:

Relativism is the view that there is no Truth.
Can relativism be True, then, if it exists?

You can probably see where this is headed?

A fundamentalist Christian follows a doctrine.
A doctrine must dismiss Truth when Truth contradicts.
Dismissing Truth is practicing Relativism, since relativism is the view that there is no Truth.
Therefore a doctrine-following fundamentalist Christian practices relativism.

I suppose a fundamentalist Christian would argue that their doctrine is always True.

That is where we part company.

There is too much evidence available for me to believe the earth is 10,000 years old.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Life, Wasted

Another gold star has been handed out, this one to Paul E. Schroeder for losing his son Edward in Iraq.

He has a lot to say about how/why his son died and they are words that no doubt piss off the Bush administration.

A Life, Wasted

I keep hoping that somehow a letter like this is going to fire a small spark of understanding among my fellow Americans about Iraq. Losing a child has got to be bad enough, but feeling it was a waste has got to sting.

These gold-star families speaking out are speaking out for a reason and it ain't treason. They want to save the children of others from dying for nothing.

The Bush administration has been an unrepentant failure since deciding to attack Iraq in response to 911. It must indeed be a nightmare to entrust your child to these ignorant, arrogant people.

Life is more precious than these machine men pretend.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A minor point

Richard M. Nixon resigned because he illegally wiretapped Americans and was due to be impeached.

George W. Bush illegally wiretapped Americans repeatedly and broadly, admitted it on a radio broadcast, then said he'd do it again.

A man without shame

To impeach or not impeach is not the question.
That is already clearly answered.
To uphold the laws of the land or not is the question.
The answer to that question seems to be a big fat no.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Democracy Dominoes

As I understand the neoconservative "plan" for the middle east it goes something like this:

1. Attack Iraq and overthrow Saddam.
2. Install a client state.
3. Install permanent US military bases.
4. Democracy will spread throughout the Middle East on the strength of Iraq's commitment to democracy.
5. Accept candies, flowers, and the grateful accolades of an adoring nation.

This idea is essentially the tired old "domino theory" we've heard before. That idea failed spectacularly to pan out in Vietnam, and seems to be turning nations hostile towards us in South America.

Freedom is what makes democracy spread, and fear is what makes democracy retreat. When democracies start fearing their very freedoms and start devoting their talents to curtailing them a type of destabalizing paranoia sets in and destroys what no army ever could.

This is happening before my very eyes in America today. Every time the president fans the fears of Americans in order to steal more power for himself, his power becomes exponentially less useful since what he has given up is more valuable than what he has gained.

Caesar said, "Let them hate as long as they fear", and neocons seem to have taken that mantra to heart.

Caesar was murdered by close associates and Rome fell.

Napoleon said, "God favors the army with the strongest artillery", and neocons seem to have taken that mantra to heart.

Napoleon met his Waterloo and France isn't today what it once was.

A leader worthy of the title should strive to create a Just society that is not ruled by fear, but instead one ruled by reason and a desire to do good. Leaders that have done this have enjoyed the type of power (that is trust) that Bushie-types strive for unwisely.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Take 'em at their word

Lately I have been playing a little game called, "Take them at their word". What you do when you hear some fool spout off is take their logic and carry it to a logical conclusion. It's fun you should try it.

My latest example used Pat Robertson's suggestion that Ariel Sharon had a stroke because he was dividing God's land (the land of Israel):

See it here

First of all it should be pointed out that all Pat is doing is amplifying the message of Israeli settlers who feel the same way.

But...let's take him at his word.

God punishes people with either death or debilitating illness for dividing His land.

Anyone at all in the US media remember president Bush's "Roadmap to Peace"? Anyone at all?

I would like to draw your attention to this quote (emphasis mine):

"Prime Minister Sharon is showing strong visionary leadership by taking difficult steps to improve the lives of people across the Middle East -- and I want to thank you for your leadership. I strongly support his courageous initiative to disengage from Gaza and part of the West Bank. The Prime Minister is willing to coordinate the implementation of the disengagement plan with the Palestinians. I urge the Palestinian leadership to accept his offer. By working together, Israelis and Palestinians can lay the groundwork for a peaceful transition."

-- President George W. Bush
April 11, 2005


Woe be to president George Bush for surely he hath made himself a worthy target for the almighty God's righteous strokes!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Finding religion

I have found my new religion and it is skillfully cooked Italian food.

'Tis a religion that does no harm.

I am no Rastafarian.

I am a Pastafarian.

Spaghetti is no longer foodstuff, rather it is a transcendent religious experience that brings me closer to Heaven.

Hallelully Jeebus.


Friday, January 06, 2006

They're Back

What does Jon Stewart of the Daily Show make of presidential prerogative (special right) when it comes to illegally wiretapping American citizens?

That makes sense

Is 2006 an election year?

Here is the latest news from Iraq:

Violence escalates

Here is the latest news from president Bush:

Bush says troop reductions possible

Any questions?

Harry Truman's warning

Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sharon suffers significant stroke

Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon had a "significant" stroke, followed by hemorrhaging. He is now in stable but critical condition and doctors cannot say yet what the extent of any brain damage might be.

BBC report

Free booze for Canada's homeless

Canada conducted a study which gave homeless alcoholics a regular supply of booze and the results were impressive and surprising:

Wine, Wine, Wine

If the river was whiskey
and I was a diving duck.

Abramoff and my arse

The Washington Post is describing the latest scandal in a continuous stream of Republican corruption as "The biggest corruption scandal to infect Congress in a generation".

Voters that are Republican and think they are Conservative really crack me up these days. Individual rights my arse! Adult foreign policy my arse! Controlled spending my arse! Less government interference my arse!

Conservative you say? My arse! My arse! My arse!

Scrutinize this

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Over the rainbow

Sunshine and lollipops

My oh my what a wonderful day.
Plenty of sunshine heading my way.

Howard Zinn on war

Howard Zinn believes that once the war in Iraq ends that we, the people, ought to make an effort to end war. Not this war, or that war, but war period.

Study War No More

I'm sure he will be shouted down as crazy, for what could be crazier than expecting a government to spend public money on the public's well-being?

What a loon!

He sounds as stark-raving-mad as the Dalai Lama.

What kind of a crazy world would we be living in if people didn't collateral damage each other for the glory of God?


Republicans Lindsey Graham, Arlen Specter, and Dick Lugar all have expressed concerns about the president's domestic spying. When I heard this I wondered if Rush Limbaugh would call them America-haters and wimpy.

I suppose he will if he is fair and that any delay is simply a matter of consideration for polished oratory.

Justice for all?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Evil doers

It has been said that evil enters the world through man.

That seems correct to me since a lion can be both brutal and selfish, but nobody accuses a lion of being evil.


To be considered evil one must understand good behavior and yet choose harmful behavior for selfish reasons. Therefore a lion, acting on impulse, is not considered evil.

Man seems the sole dispenser of evil on earth and it seems to me that only human choices guided by wisdom and the desire to do good can ever overcome it. Unwise choices, even with a desire to do good, can inflict great harm. Wise choices, guided by the desire to do evil, lead to no good.

From where does the desire to do good come from and how does one develop wisdom?

Can a sincere desire to perform good acts be taught?

How do we recognize these traits in others so that we can select good and wise leaders for ourselves, or else prevent evil or harmful leaders?

It seems clear that humanity would benefit from proper instruction in this regard.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Homecoming echo

A zombie movie with political connotations sounds like just the thing blogs ought to popularize.

Want to see a movie that features veterans coming back as zombies to vote in droves against people that started the war which killed them?

Then you need to see Homecoming directed by Joe Dante.

The zombie vote

George Uber Alles?

Many argue that we need a president above the law so we can all be safe, and that one shouldn't quibble about what the president does or doesn't do since our laws only apply to little people.

I say I agree if I woke up in Communist China this morning, but if I woke up in the United States of America this president ought to face the courts to determine if his wiretapping actions were legal.

That's the American way isn't it?

Presidential preference peddlers phrase their arguments differently, but this is what they mean when they argue that democrats ought to overlook president Bush's illegal behavior with regard to spying on Americans: "Shut up and be a loyal subject".

The definition of subject, by the way, is "one under authority".

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin