Monthly Archives: December 2004

Americans are killing their Christ

My good friend Thom has a few thoughts about Bush and his Rightwing Christ Killers::

When I was 12, I dedicated my life to Christ. In the time since, I have been taught by well meaning people that Christians should side with the current conservative political party. I have to say that Jesus couldn’t disagree more.

When Bush commands troops to war in Iraq, he is killing Christ. Every child maimed and murdered, every mother with no food or water, every brother or sister watching their civilian siblings burn up in the fire of our smart bombs is the personification of Christ – “the least of these” are Christ’s siblings. Our tax money makes us participants – a nation of goats – of modern day Christ-killers. The neo-conservatives execute Christ everyday, and they do it with mockery and glee. Their weapons? In Iraq, it is with Bombs and bullets. In the United States, death row and the machines of poverty-making. Christ-killer – a term mostly used perjoratively by anti-semetic bigots – is more accurately used to describe the conservative culture of the US.

Christ said, “If you love me you will do what I told you to do.” (New American Thom version.) Jesus told us that in the past, an eye for an eye was the legal standard. Christ then instructed us to turn the other cheek. To combat evil with good. Not bunker busting bombs. To stop theivery with radical charity. Not police brutality.

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To be governed

To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the right nor the knowledge nor the virtue. –Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809–65)

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German solar energy development shows the way

While the U.S. resists the Kyoto Agreement and continues its dependence on fossil fuels, it is Germany that demonstrates real leadership for the planet. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on Germany’s push for renewable power:

Muhlhausen, Germany — A solar-power project built by a Berkeley company may point Germany toward a pollution-free future.

Set in the heart of Bavarian farmland, the 30-acre facility went online earlier this month, becoming the biggest solar energy plant in the world.”

“There’s a huge amount of opportunity here in Germany because the government has created a system that encourages large installations,” said Thomas Dinwoodie, chief executive officer of PowerLight Corp. of Berkeley, which built and operates the Muhlhausen facility and two other solar parks nearby.

PowerLight’s three Bavarian solar parks, consisting of 57,600 silicon-and- aluminum panels, will generate 10 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 9,000 German homes. The amount of electricity produced is much less than power plants fueled by coal or natural gas, but with very low operating costs, the solar project is expected quickly to turn a profit while emitting zero pollution.

“This is part of our commitment as a government, to make Germany the world leader in alternative energy and in taking action against global warming, ” said Juergen Trittin, Germany’s environment minister. “We are willing to do what is necessary.”

The country is now the No. 1 world producer of wind energy, with more than 16,000 windmills generating 39 percent of the world total, and it is fast closing in on Japan for the lead in solar power. Wind and solar energy together provide more than 10 percent of the nation’s electricity, a rate that is expected to double by 2020.

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Oil and Empire

Jim Kunstler has written yet another great article about U.S. dependence on oil in which he touches on the political, social, and economic consequences. Oh, Come All Ye Clueless:

Time Magazine’s Person of the Year had a famous father who famously remarked a decade ago that ‘the American way of life is not negotiable.’ This remains the animating principle beneath most of America’s troubles in the world.

A good many people in the United States probably still agree with this notion, but how realistic is it? How long can America base its economy on suburban land development? Realistically, that way of doing things has to end now. Unless we want to try to turn the entire Middle East (including Saudi Arabia) into an occupied colony, which would seem beyond our military capacities, to put it mildly, since we can’t even enforce civil order in Iraq.

To keep the suburban expansion going indefinitely we will need to continue using one-quarter of the world’s oil every day. Since this resource is about to head over the all-time peak production arc, there will be incrementally a few percentages less total oil produced every year after the peak. We’ll probably have to occupy Venezuela, too, and Nigeria, to keep the suburban expansion going — not to mention the daily operation of it, with the sixty mile commutes and the estimated average seven car trips per day per household to chauffeur kids and run errands. As we maintain our oil consumption under these conditions, other nations will have to use proportionately less. How will the Europeans and the Chinese feel about that? Will there be discontent over it? And might it affect our relations with them?”

Why is this not being talked about? Read through the news sites and the blogosphere and you’ll see that the subject of oil is utterly absent from the discussion. Look for it. Go ahead. You won’t find it. We have created a society that is based on oil and yet we don’t talk about it? We don’t discuss the issue at all. It is ridiculous and dangerous. We may not be willing to negotiate our way of life but, as Kunstler suggests, we better “get ready for reality to arbitrate it for us.”

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Thousands of U.S. troops have deserted since invasion of Iraq

Jaded Reality offers a Disaster Alert – aka Iraq round up. What really caught my eye:

There is also a whopper of a stat in the latest issue of Harper Magazine’s (Jan 2005) Index:

The G.I. Rights Hotline (800-394-9544) has received approx. 34,800 phone calls this last year from soldiers seeking a way out of the military.
— G.I. Rights Hotline, as of November 2004

This, combined with the latest reports that 5,000+ soldiers have deserted since the invasion of Iraq, may be an indicator that some in the military do not agree with the current state of affairs.

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Pentagon nervous about Germany’s war crimes case against Rumsfeld

This is as it should be. Let’s hope Germany moves forward with this. I look forward to the day that U.S. war criminals go to jail. Juan Cole at Informed Comment writes about the Pentagon threat against Germany:

The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Berlin’s Republican Lawyers’ Association has filed suit in Germany against Donald Rumsfeld on behalf of 4 Iraqis who allege they were mistreated by American troops. A number of other high-ranking US officials are also named. AFP writes:

‘ The groups that filed the complaint said they had chosen Germany because of its Code of Crimes Against International Law, introduced in 2002, which grants German courts universal jurisdiction in cases involving war crimes or crimes against humanity. It also makes military or civilian commanders who fail to prevent their subordinates from committing such acts liable. ‘

What is interesting about the Pentagon reaction to this suit is how frantic the Department of Defense seems. Although spokesman Larry DiRita dismissed it as “frivolous,” he threatened Germany with dire consequences if the suit goes forward.
DiRita said,

“Generally speaking, as is true anywhere, if these kinds of lawsuits take place with American servicemen in the cross-hairs, you bet it’s something we take seriously . . . I think every government in the world, particularly a NATO ally, understands the potential effect on relations with the United States if these kinds of frivolous lawsuits were ever to see the light of day.”

These remarks raise several questions. Why is DiRita hiding behind the fact that American servicemen are “in the cross-hairs? What have Rumsfeld’s policies or legal problems got to do with grunts on the front line? You think they like Rumsfeld? Look what happened when he let them ask him questions.

Then, if the lawsuit is frivolous, why should it produce grave consequences for Germany? It should produce frivolity and hilarity if it is frivolous. It seems actually to be taken very seriously.

Is the real threat the damage to Rumsfeld’s public image, or the danger that the lawsuit may prompt a discovery process?

Finally, surely DiRita is not suggesting that the Federal government actively interfere with a legal process? Wouldn’t that be the Executive squelching the Judiciary? Isn’t that contrary to the separation of Powers? Or is the new monarchism to be imposed on Germany as well, now that it is the model in Washington?

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Public life and public space: Europe and the U.S.

Jim Kunstler over at Clusterfuck Nation discusses the difference between America and European public life and use of public space:

“Amsterdam, Holland, was pretty much the same story as Paris, though it is physically quite different from Paris — the scale is smaller, the intimate streets are deployed along a network of beautiful canals, and the car is barely tolerated (or even much in evidence). There, we would duck into a ‘brown bar’ (so-called because of the dark wooden wainscotting) at five p.m. and it would be full of well-dressed, gainfully employed adults in animated conversation. Public life in Europe is only minimally about shopping and maximally about spending time with your fellow human beings.

American public life by comparison is pathetic-to-nonexistent. Americans venture out only to roam the warehouse depots, and only by car.

The process of making America an alienated land of solitary, obese driver-shoppers has been very profitable for predatory corporations. They have systematically disassembled the public social infrastructure and repackaged pieces of it for sale — starting with the single-family house isolated on its lot from all the normal amenities of culture and society. Everybody now has their ‘home theater’ so the cinema is only a place to park children for two hours so you can drive elsewhere to buy the cheez doodles, frozen pizza, Pepsi, and other staples of the American diet. You equip your kitchen with an espresso machine and there is no reason to “waste your time” in a cafe. Everybody has to have their own pool, so the kids can go swimming by themselves. Family values. The rest of the human race is unimportant.

It’s an excellent post, check it out.

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Ohio Recount: Blackwell Locks Out Recount Volunteers

This is going to get very interesting. Just how much evidence is needed before the citizens of the U.S. realize that democracy here is just a farce? Even the illusion of democracy is now disregarded by those in power.

Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell has apparently declared that the voter records are now not public records and will not be made available to recount volunteers. According to the blog Ohio Election Fraud:

Ohio Election Investigation Thwarted by Surprise Blackwell Order

On Friday December 10 two certified volunteers for the Ohio Recount team assigned to Greene County were in process recording voting information from minority precincts in Greene County, and were stopped mid-count by a surprise order from Secretary of State Blackwell’s office. The Director Board of Elections stated that “all voter records for the state of Ohio were “locked-down,” and now they are not considered public records.”

The volunteers were working with voter printouts received directly from Carole Garman, Director, Greene County Board of Elections. Joan Quinn and Eve Roberson, retired attorney and election official respectively, were hand-copying voter discrepancies from precinct voting books on behalf of the presidential candidates Mr. Cobb (Green) and Mr. Badnarik Libertarian) who had requested the recount.

One of the goals of the recount was to determine how many minority voters were unable to vote or denied voting at the polls. Upon requesting copies of precinct records from predominantly minority precincts, Ms. Garman contacted Secretary of State Blackwell’s office and spoke to Pat Wolfe, Election Administrator. Ms. Wolfe told Ms. Garman to assert that all voter records for the State of Ohio were “locked down” and that they are “not considered public records.”

Quinn and Roberson asked specifically for the legal authority authorizing Mr. Blackwell to “lock down” public records. Garman stated that it was the Secretary of State’s decision. Ohio statute requires the Directors of Boards of Election to comply with public requests for inspection and copying of public election records. As the volunteer team continued recording information from the precinct records in question, Garman entered the room and stated she was withdrawing permission to inspect or copy any voting records at the Board of Elections. Garman then physically removed the precinct book from Ms. Roberson’s hands. They later requested the records again from Garman’s office, which was again denied.

Ohio Revised Code Title XXXV Elections, Sec. 3503.26 that requires all election records to be made available for public inspection and copying. ORC Sec. 3599.161 makes it a crime for any employee of the Board of Elections to knowingly prevent or prohibit any person from inspecting the public records filed in the office of the Board of Elections. Finally, ORC Sec. 3599.42 clearly states: “A violation of any provision of Title XXXV (35) of the Revised Code constitutes a prima facie case of election fraud within the purview of such Title.”

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What is before us?

Understanding the complexity of the current moment is difficult, attempting to predict the future unfolding of the present is even more difficult; seeing truths within the larger context, these seem to be our stumbling blocks. I ask, where are we bound? I like this question in part because it can be interpreted in different ways, all of which are interesting. It is a statement or question about humanity and its direction into the future. It is also a question about our ties to one another and to ideas. How are we bound to one another? How are we bound by assumptions and their effect upon our interpretation of reality? How are we bound by our individual history as well as our collective history?

As individuals we are born into a context and from that moment on we are bound up through socialization. We learn about reality through our parents or larger family and the total environment that surrounds us. This total environment likely includes television and some sort of “education” system as well as some sort of neighborhood-community. This totality of experience, defined by space and countless interactions, provides the environment for our physical and mental development. Sometimes we are painfully aware of the individual elements that are a part of the overall process, sometimes we are not.

Do you see what I see? We often function without ever questioning the mental framework of our understanding of reality. As we age we may learn to analyze parts of the framework. It is also possible that we never even realize that the framework exists. Yet another possibility is that we realize that it exists but choose not to examine it. I won’t pretend to understand the complexities of the human mind, I just want to suggest that our understanding of our world is severely limited though we often act otherwise. We usually act as though our understanding is absolutely correct and that we are properly informed.

What is before us? What do we know about the world? What do we know about the current operations of the government? What do we know about the origins of “our country” and “our” government? What do we know about “our” history? What do we know about “our” economy? How are we forming our understanding of the world? What are the systems that disseminate information to us? Who owns these systems? Who is responsible for their content and the method of delivery?

In any moment, are we aware of the medium? Are we aware of the message?

Everyday we make choices which are based on our understanding of the way the world works as well as the routines we’ve created to adapt to this world. This routine means that each day is often very similar to the previous day. It is a dynamic worth considering when we try to understand ourselves, how we interpret the world, and how we behave. The smooth flow of routine within our daily lives is an important aspect of our sense of security and comfort. The repetition of experience is a part of our training and mental structuring. Repetition of sanctioned ideas is important if a population is to accept its own indoctrination. Repetition creates “truth” and a sense of legitimacy.

What is before us?

Consider the attacks of 9/11 and the U.S. response, the “war on terror”. Consider Iraq. Consider the recent U.S. elections and the allegations of massive fraud. Each of these is an example and there are countless others. What do you know and why do you know it? What is your opinion and why is it so? Just as important, what might you be totally unaware of because your primary source of information may not have mentioned it? It’s not just the uniformity of perspective of information that is presented to us that is important, but the fact that certain important sub-stories may never be discussed at all.

How do we proceed? What is our goal? What kind of society do we want to create? What kind of world do we want to work towards? How do we develop processes and systems that deepen our understanding of one another? How do we communicate more affectively? What process might we develop that allows for a global discussions that might take us towards a common vision? To those that would reply that this is not possible, I ask you to prove it. I believe that another world is possible, one which we have never seen. I believe that we can do much better than we have if we choose to. We do not have to accept the mental and social structures that produce, among other things, fear, insecurity, poverty, and war. We do not have to accept the world that is.

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