Political books 2

Shrub: The short but happy political life of George W. Bush     Molly Ivins & Lou Dubose
Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America                    Molly Ivins & Lou Dubose
When Religion Becomes Evil            Charles Kimball
The Long Emergency                        James Howard Kunstler
Don’t Think of an Elephant               George Lakoff
Denial and Deception                        Melissa Boyle Mahle
Fooled Again                                     Mark Crispin Miller
Homophobia is un-Christian              Leonard Pitts Jr.
Additional Politico-Religious comments
Look at Bible's homosexual references     John David Bristow     April 2007
The Woman with the Alabaster Jar    Margaret Starbird

a name="Shrub">Shrub: the short but happy political life of George W. Bush    Molly additional politico- & Lou Dubose

The book is a series of chapters covering George Bush's life from the time he joined the Texas Air National Guard at the peak of the Vietnam War (a good way of avoiding military service in a unit populated by sons of politicians and pro football players - rich men and their sons seemed to be welcome, they all had the same degree of patriotism) through his years as Texas Governor.  Ivins & Dubose make the point that the Bush-Carl Rove team, it is impossible to separate them, are master politicians.  Bush Sr. gave Bush Jr., who Ivins affectionately calls "Shrub", gave Shrub the job of job of handling the Christian right and Shrub took on the job of seducing the Hispanic vote for his own campaigns, with his two or three sentences in Spanish.  The problem is that he as no interest in government or policy planning other than to support his friends who then support him with campaign and other funds.

Bush is definitely a son of privilege, he went to a public Jr. High for 1 year and then switched to private schools followed by Yale and Harvard.  After education Bush came back to Texas, played around with the oil business, ran and lost a race for congress, and decided to go seriously into the oil business.  To skip the details, all of his companies failed and lost the investors money but Bush always made money on the deal.  There has been speculation that the major investors were buying political capital with their money,  if so they have all received more than their money back, ignore the small investors.  Bush purchased the Texas Rangers baseball team and made it profitable the old fashioned way, he used other peoples money, to a large extent the taxpayers of Arlington, Texas.

He won the Governorship of Texas by using Christian Conservatives, the NRA, and homophobia.  The inept campaigning of Ann Richards helped also.  Since Bush bases so much of his politics on religion, it needs to be investigated.  A story that has been around for a while that Bush thinks that only Christian prayers are heard by God.  He loves to tell (and hear) conversion testimonials, the more outlandish the better.  He supports privatization of welfare functions by faith-based organizations.  Some of the stories of their treatment of children remind me of the "medical experiments" in the Nazi death camps.  Bush was brought to Jesus by Billy Graham in 1985 but he really "got" religion when the Christian right took over the Texas Republican Party in 1994.  The political agendas of the Christian right and his support of them (assuming they did not come with too high of a risk) are listed.

Ivins & Dubose document the total support that Bush gave to business while he was Governor of Texas.  Lower taxes for business, reduce education support, tort reform (make it hard to sue a business), punitive welfare reforms, anti-civil rights, and of course supporting business friends.  Bush seems to know the proper environmental terms but not what they mean or what they imply.  Texas pollutes more than any state or Canadian province. Texas is number 1 in toxic releases, carcinogens in the air, developmental toxins, and cancer risk.  Bush's appointees quickly went to work dismantling all of the environmental and health protections that had been gradually implemented.  By the end of Bush's career as Governor many industries were finding that getting federal permits was costing more than complying with valid state standards would have cost.

Bush is a little better on education.  He seems to be truly interested and he likes visiting schools.  The problems are that he wants a single test to determine learning and that he likes charter (preferably Christian) schools.  Unfortunately he doesn't seem to think that quality control and educational credentials are relevant.  Bush is a believer in law and order.  Especially as it applies to blacks and Hispanics (but not the rich).  Texas has a higher prison rate than any other state and more people on death row and executed.  He has been consistently against prison reform and prisoner therapy.

Bush is extremely talented in selling political influence (relief from safety and environmental regulations and immunity to worker and consumer lawsuits) for campaign contributions.

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Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America   Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose

A follow-up to their book, Shrub.  They were tempted to start this book with, "If y'all had've read the first book, we wouldn't've had to write this one."  Unfortunately not enough people read the first.   In 6 years Bush took Texas from a $6 billion surplus to a $10 billion deficit and still  rising.  As of the writing of this book, 2003, Bush has taken America from a $127 billion surplus to $288 billion deficit and I have no idea what it is now in March 2006.

C1  Aloha, Harken  In 2002 Bush defended his sale of Harken stock just before it went bankrupt, it was almost a duplicate of the Enron scandal.  Every time Bush screwed up and his company went under he was rescued by friends of his father.  Each time the stockholders lost money and Bush made more.  Harken and Enron both used the same accounting firm, Arthur Anderson.  Harvard University also lost more than $20 million in the Harken deal, it helps to have friends in high places.

C2  Julia Jeffcoat's Jobless Recovery  Julia is used to demonstrate plight of the unemployed and the callusness of Republicans in power.

C3  Class War  Bernard Rapoport, a completely self-made millionaire is used to contrast with the selfish rich Republicans who support Bush.

C4  The Blues in Belzoni  Eugene Scalia (son of Antonin Scalia) is used to demonstrate the disconnect between government and the people.  He is a labor lawyer in the same way that Colonel Sanders was an advocate for chickens.  He is a partner in the law firm that represented Bush when the Supreme Court declared him President.  Scalia is one of the primary lawyers in the anti-ergonomics movement.  The chapter documents the Bush efforts to gut workplace regulation.

C5  Leave No Child Behind  The disasters of Texas education and Bush's plans for US education.
C6  Green Rabbits and Yellow Streams  The Bush environmental record.
C7  Kill the Messenger  How dedicated public servants fare in Bush's America.
C8  Ready to Eat?  Is your food safe?  How about Listeria infections?  Meat Inspection - Why?
C9  Dick, Dubya, and Wyoming Methane  Bush, Cheney and the attempt to extract methane from the Powder River area of Wyoming.  It comes out but so does very large amounts of very salty water.
C10 Warm in the White House  Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and why Bush refused to fund the program.
C11  The United States of Enron  Ken Lay was a major fund raiser for Bush I and II and a frequent White House guest.  How Bush(s) helped him create the Enron mess.
C12  Army Surplus: Two Veterans at Enron  A more complete story of what happened to people who worked for and had money invested in Enron.
C13  God in the White House  How the Christian right is subverting the ethics of America.  How many faith based organizations are torturing and repressing children and women.
C14  Dubya Bush's Bench  Scalia is in favor of the death penalty and big business, against abortion, gays, and workers.  More examples of the type of people that Bush wants in the court system.
C15  Shrub II: The Empire Strikes Back  As soon as Bush was sworn in as President he started backing out of international agreements and planning on war in the middle east, 9/11 gave him the opportunity and he very quickly forgot bin Laden and attacked Iraq.
C16  State of the Union  As Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  Bush lives on fear.  Ivins and Dubose say, "The state of the union is that money talks..."  They list names of the major corporations (like GM, Microsoft, and AT&T) who paid no income taxes but donated $150 million to political campaigns and got $55 billion in tax breaks.
C17  What Is to Be Done  They recommend campaign reform, get out the vote, equitable redistricting, equitable taxation, rebuild our national infrastructure, end corporate welfare, eliminate offshore tax havens, create a reasonable energy policy, and many more.
They conclude with a list of their sources by chapter and an index.  I have come to realize that one of the hallmarks of a good, well thought-out book is a good and comprehensive list of sources with many of them being recent.  Without this you can be pretty sure that it is just propaganda.

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When Religion Becomes Evil  Charles Kimball

When I first saw this book I was very unsure.  Is it simplistic “Follow what I believe and you will all be saved, everything else is a plot of the devil” or is it a diatribe against all religion?  It turned out to be a very good book written by a scholar and minister writing about the perils of not following the message of the originators of the major religions and instead warping the message to the self aggrandizement and power of specific practitioners.

Kimball offers five warning sins of corruption in religion.  These are 1) Claims of absolute truth (which holds that all else is therefore false), 2) Demands for blind obedience by followers, 3) Establishing the “Ideal” time for some event – such the rising of a temple, the second coming, the establishment of the “pure” state, 4) The end justifies any means, and 5) Declaring holy war – just recall the Crusades, bin Laden’s call for a “holy war” and the response if America calling for a “War against Terror”.

A thoughtful book by a convincing author.  I would recommend it to anyone who wants to go beyond the typical shallow level of “Kill the SOB’s” or “Make love not war”.  There are alternatives, they just take work and commitment.

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The Long Emergency   James Howard Kunstler

C1  We are “Sleepwalking into the Future.”
      We are so seduced by the comfort, toys, profits, etc. that we have had in the late 20th century that we are blind to the reality that awaits us when our supplies of oil and gas runs out.  The cost of extracting and processing our previously cheap fossil fuel is rising rapidly.  We are already fighting a lengthy and increasingly expensive war in Iraq over the control of fuel resources.  Check www.dieoff.com for an extremist view of the problem.

In 1800 the worlds population was about one billion, the population now is over 6.5 billion.  Is 1 billion the human carrying capacity of the earth without oil?

Cheap oil has skewed the predictions of Malthus.  Global warming and wild species extinctions are a fact.  With global travel, illnesses are spreading rapidly.  With reductions in the fuel supply global travel and transportation will become very difficult.  With fuel restrictions, suburbia is coming under stress.  Different areas of the US will face regional specific problems.

C2  Oil is formed between 7,500 and 15,000 ft. below ground level from organic matter, mostly algae, that grew on the surface of lakes and oceans between 300mya and 30mya.  The oil industry was started in 1859 in NW Pennsylvania.  Since then the oil industry has been a boom and bust economy as field after oil field has been discovered, enters production, hits full production, and production slowly declines.  Fuel prices have gone up and down and oil profits go up and down as this cycle repeats in field after field.  Overall, fuel prices have shown a variable upward trend with a recent spike.  US production peaked in the early 1970’s and world production will peak somewhere between 2000 and 2010.  It is possible that new fields will be discovered but very unlikely.  Even if they were it would only put off the inevitable for a few years as our demand is rising exponentially.

C3  Radical Islam hates us and we don’t know how to deal with this.  We are fighting over oil and we don’t want to admit this.  This chapter is a synopsis of middle east politics for the last 100 years.

C4  Beyond Oil – Problems with alternative fuels.
1    Natural Gas – Often associated with oil and has the same problems; discovery, drilling, production, and then field exhaustion.  US production maxed in 1973, world production around 2000.  Artificial production costs more energy than you get back and transporting gas in ships is very dangerous.
Hydrogen – difficult to store and transport, costs more in energy to produce than you get in usage.
Coal – We have already used the easy to mine / high quality coal, very polluting and environmentally destructive.  The total quantity is limited.
Hydroelectric Power – good, cheap, clean.  We are already utilizing about 2/3 of the available good sites in the US.  It is almost maxed out.
Solar and Wind Power – Passive solar is vary good and underutilized.  Active solar and wind have very high initial costs and depend heavily on fossil fuels in construction.
Synthetic oil (from coal), thermal depolmerization, biomass.  These are expensive to create. In large scale use would suffer from lack of feed stocks.
Nuclear Energy – NIMBY syndrome, supply is limited until we can get fusion to work.
Others – Methane hydrates, ZPE, satellite mirrors, etc.  Very blue sky.  Will take a massive R&D investment and still may not work.

A major problem with all of these is that with the exception of the synthetic fuels, none of these are appropriate for use in vehicles.  I do have a problem with his analyses.  He tends to evaluate each alternative independently.  It may very well be that through the use of several alternatives (plus serious conservation) we could come up with a reasonable plan.  I also have a problem with his thermal de-polymerization discussion.  He mentions an article in Discover magazine.  When I read the article I understood it to be more of a garbage reduction technology (alternative to land fill) with a side benefit of producing a useful byproduct instead of a fuel production system.  This leads me to question many of his other evaluations.

C5  Global Warming  It seems that the climate for the last 10k years has been unusually uniform.  Before this the previous 1my has seen many hot and cold cycles.  We seem to be in a global warming scenario whether or not pollution or industrial gasses are a major contributor.  One of the scary possibilities is that too much warming can cause extreme melting of north polar ice – and the resultant fresh water can cause a blockage of the Gulf Stream, which would prevent the equatorial heat from reaching Northern Europe.  There is evidence that this happened about 12kya and caused the Younger-Dryas very cold spell of approximately 1,200 years.  It is almost impossible for any accurate forecasts of the effect of rapid fluctuations in climate.  More frequent and powerful storms are probable.  Global warming has caused ocean levels to rise up to 10 meters in the past.  This would cover the homes of about 25% of the total US population.  A warmer climate and international travel are factors in increasing the spread of tropical diseases.
Reference:  www.orion.com   Overshoot, William Catton, U of Ill Press 1980

C6  Globalism, free markets, free trade, stock companies, stock derivatives, corporations, limited liability corporations, the myth of the corporation as an individual, the digital economy, the analysis of an economy as an ecological system.  Interesting evaluation, economic systems evaluated as a study in entropy.  An “efficient” economic system transfers money and products from manufacturer to/from consumer with very little interference, i.e.. little turbulence.  An “inefficient” system transfers money and products to/from consumers with maximum entropy.  The flow of products and money has maximum turbulence.  There are many steps in this process, and in each step there are community members involved and who participate.  Much of the money stays in the community vs. traveling straight back to the President of Wal-Mart.  

C7  Musing on driving in the Hudson Valley.  Could the residents survive in a low-oil future?  Kunstler expects that a higher proportion of the population will be engaged in farming and less in service industries.  There will be significant problems with transportation, irrigation, fertilizers, and pesticides.  Reallocation of land from suburbia to farming will be difficult.  High fuel costs (availability) will reduce the profitability of giant agribusiness and they will cease operations.  More animals will be working.

The economic viability of suburbia will cause it to die.  Inner cities, skyscrapers, and sun-belt cities will cease to be habitable.  Factors important to the viability of a town include small size, compactness (walkability), close rugged terrain for hydropower, farmland, few buildings over 5 stories, farming, and small scale manufacturing and service industries appropriate to regional commerce.

Transportation and commerce globally and even nationally will be greatly restricted.  We will have to rebuild local economic interdependence.  Many industries will have to again be built from scratch.  We will have to redefine basic necessities.  We will have many depositories of recyclables.  Owner run businesses will fare the best.

Living and working: a – will the location be walkable, b – can the building be heated (cooling will not be an option), and c – can the roof be kept in repair?  Building codes will be relaxed or ignored.  The structure and culture will more nearly resemble the early 1900’s.

Transportation: Highways will become very difficult to maintain.  Trucking will become unprofitable, private vehicles will become problematic.  Problem:  Kunstler scoffs at (p266) “every car would have to have an onboard computer”, they already have multiple computers.  Fuel is already becoming scarce and expensive.  Trains, especially electric trains, are a bright point.  Waterways in some areas may be used.  Air travel will be in deep trouble.

Education:  It will become much more local.  Busing will mostly disappear.  Universities will probably be hit hard.

    Southwest:  The major problems will be water and political instability.  There may be problems with the border between the US and Mexico.
    Southeast:  Oil shortage, electricity shortage, an already violent culture, religious fundamentalism, lower educational level, more tropical diseases.  We may see the development of a serf system.
    Northeast and Upper Midwest:  The big cities will fail (Bosnywash).  Small cities with canals / rivers and hydropower should be OK.  Overall – fairly good prospects.
    Great Plains and Mountain West:  Cost will make irrigation and fertilizer impossible to obtain.  Transportation will stop tourism and recreation.
    Pacific NW and Vancouver, BC area:  Overall the best prospects.  Big cities will have problems.  Possibly problems with refugees from California and Mexico.  Perhaps problems from (para) militaries and refugees from Asian countries.
    Race Relation:  Open for discussion, could go either way.  Depends on the local conditions.
    Human Relations:  How will we treat each other?  Will we settle into a life of bucolic bliss or will life be short, brutal, and ugly.  Again we should prepare for the worst but work for the best.

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Don’t Think of an Elephant   George Lakoff

Know your values and frame the debate

Related books and web sites

Geoffery Nunberg - Going Nuclear
George Lakoff - Moral Politics, 2nd ed.  
Robert B. Reich - Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America

C1  Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world.  Reframing is social change.  Compare these with memes.  When you use the frames of the religious right, you are supporting the religious right.  Example: Tax Relief, To be relieved you must have been afflicted, therefore taxes are an affliction and you must be relieved of them.  When you use the phrase, tax relief, you are supporting Republican policies.

Exercise:  Evaluate the Republicans, “Contract with America”, what are their positions and where do they come from, why does Lakoff disagree with them all? Republican is from strict father family, Lakoff is from nurtutant parent family.
Strict Father - Protect the family in the dangerous world
    - Support the family in the difficult world
    - Teach his children right from wrong (by physical punishment)
         Apply this scheme to (almost) all situations
Nurturant Parent - Have empathy with child and protect your child
    - engender vales: freedom, opportunity, prosperity, fairness, open 2-way
         communication, community building, service to community,
         cooperation, trust, and honesty.

6 types of progressives
    1 Socioeconomics      its all class and money
    2 Identity politics       oppressed groups need relief
    3 Environmentalists   sustainability, sacred, protect native peoples
    4 Civil liberties          maintain freedoms in spite of threats
    5 Spiritual                  connect with other people and their communities
    6 Antiauthoritarian    all authority is bad

In the 1950’s conservatives hated each other.  Under William F Buckley they started trying to find commonalities.  They started forming think tanks and foundations.  80% of the talking heads on TV are from conservative think tanks.  In 2002 the right spent 4 times as much on research as the left.  The leaders of the right get together weekly to settle disagreements.

Progressive myths:
1 The truth shall set you free, tell them the truth and they will vote for you.  WRONG  If  people don’t have the frame, the facts will bounce off.
2 Progressives hear conservatives talk and think they are dumb WRONG  We don’t share the same frame, facts don’t make sense without the frame.
3 It is irrational to go against your self interest WRONG  People often don’t vote their self interest.  They vote with their values and their identity.  Conservatives have been wording frames so that voters think they have conservative values.  

Clinton used the frames of the right to win his elections, the right hated him for it.  Now Bush is using the frames of the progressives: Compassionate Conservatism, Clear Skies Initiative, Healthy Forests, No Child left Behind - See George Orwell: 1984.  Liberals say this is bad, conservatives are using language to deceive.  But, realize that this use means that the right is weak in this area.  What if they used “Dirty Skies Bill, Forest Destruction Bill, or Kill Public Education Bill”.  Check the books by Frank Luntz for current Republic terminology.  To counter this we need ideas: like the ideas Buckley started coming up with in the 1950’s.

Hypercognition:  the lack of the idea that you need, the lack of a simple fixed frame that can be evoked by a word or two.  Lakoff goes on by comparing “tax relief” to the concept that taxes go to build the infrastructure that we all use to carry our our lives.  

The campaign of the right has forced progressives to merely react to their initiatives.  The left has very few funded think tanks.  We need to create strategic initiatives and slippery slope initiatives.  Eleven recommendations:
1 Recognize where conservatives have won and where progressives have lost.
2 “Don’t think of an elephant”, don’t accept their frames.
3 The truth alone will not set you free - you need to set the frame.
4 Speak from your own moral perspective.
5 Understand the origin of their conservative beliefs, their strict father morality.
6 Think strategically, larger goals, not just single issues.
7 Evaluate the consequences of proposals, build your own slippery slope initiatives.
8 Remember, people vote their identity and values, not necessarily their self interests.
9 Unite, cooperate.  Remember the 6 modes of progressive thought, join with others.
10 Be proactive, not reactive.  Use your frames, not their frames.
11 Speak to your progressive base, to activate the nurturing mode of swing votes.  Don’t move to the right.

C2  The election of Arnold Schwarzenegger  Lakoff listed the 6 frames that he used and a description of how they were used.  A look at the facts behind each and how they were manipulated by the conservatives.  All people have both aspects of the strict father and the nurturant parent model within their personality.  Well, maybe not some of the Aryan Nations kooks.  Our job is to activate and stimulate the nurturant parent side of the voters.  Remember that fear typically activates the strict father model.  The has been very effectively used by the right.

C3  Marriage:  The right has been using only 2 terms to define marriage, definition and sanctity.  They emphasize the sexual aspects.  We need to emphasize different aspects, civil rights, love, and commitment.

C4  9/11:  What images did this evoke.  Buildings as head, windows as eyes, buildings as tall people, they were shot and fell over.  Others: Control is up, phallic, society as buildings.
Justice:  we must support moderate and liberal Islam and help them reduce the strength of radical Islamic fundamentalists.  We must reframe the dialogue.  Our foreign policy must support non-violent groups, support education, support international cooperation.

C5  Metaphors that Kill:  The major foreign policy metaphor is that countries are people.  That eliminates from thought the fact that countries are composed of flesh and blood people who are killed or injured when things happen to countries.  When we speak of “assets” we dehumanize the troops and the reduce the value of the material and money lost.  Other countries do not necessarily follow “our” definition of rationality.

C6  Did the President give us all the accurate facts regarding Iraq in 2003.  Obviously not.  The real question was his intention.  Did he betray our trust or did he pass along all of the facts that he knew?  The evidence suggests that the American people and the Congress were betrayed by the office and the President of the United States.

C7  The ideology of the right is based on strict father morality.  The version depends on the domain, religion, business, social life.  In each of the following sub-domains the strict father morality shapes the exact form of the expressed ideology; God, moral order, morality, economics, education, health care, same-sex marriage and abortion, nature, corporations, regulation, rights, democracy, foreign policy, culture.

C8  What divides progressives: local interests, ideology vs. pragmatism, radical vs. moderate change, militant vs. moderate advocacy, type of thought processes.  What unites progressives: values, principles, policy directives.  A brief 10 word philosophy.
Vision: America as a caring responsible family.
Core values:  Caring and responsibility with strength, protection, fairness, freedom, opportunity, community service, trust, honesty.
Principles:  Equality, democracy, government as an enabler, ethical businesses, values based foreign policy.
Policy directions:  Economy, security, health, education, early childhood environment, nature, energy, open government, equal rights, protection.

10 word philosophies:
    Progressive                    Conservative
    Stronger America          Strong Defense
    Broad Prosperity            Free Markets
    Better Future                  Lower Taxes
    Effective Government    Smaller Government
    Mutual Responsibility    Family Values

C9 Frequently Asked Questions

C10 How to respond to Conservatives

    Show respect,
    Respond by reframing,
    Think and talk at the level of values,
    Say what you believe

Lakoff presents 28 different bulleted responses to right wing attacks, they are all just special cases of the preceding four ideas.

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Denial and Deception - An Insiders View of the CIA from Iran-Contra to 9/11   Melissa Boyle Mahle

This book is one woman’s view from inside the CIA from 1987 until 2002.  Her time in the CIA spanned the last few months of Bill Casey, then William Webster, Robert Gates, Jim Woolsey, John Deutch, and George Tenet.  These Directors of the Central Intelligence Agency were very different men and had different strengths and weaknesses.  They were given different goals, resources, and mandates from the President and from Congress.  The end result was a mess.  The individual agents, some extremely virtuous and dedicated, some venal, and most just simply good, hard working, and able employees kept getting jerked back and forth depending on the political wind of the day.  The author spends most of the book describing and documenting these changes and how they destroyed the effectiveness of the CIA and how they reduced the security of our country.

My Comments  Instead of commenting on her views of the various CIA directors I will report on what I was thinking as I read this book.  How can we augment the understanding of our leaders with respect to the very complex world in which we live.  I have two proposals, one for our political and economic leaders, and one for our law enforcement and security leaders.

I would attempt to insure that at least a minimum familiarity with the cultures of the world.  I would require that all general officers and directors of publicly traded (on one of the major stock exchanges) businesses who export any products overseas have spent at least 11 months in an approved foreign exchange program, totally immersed in the culture, speaking the language (not English).  I would recommend that this be done as a high school or college student.  Officers who do not meet these requirements could perform the duties but would be paid at 100% of the salary of the highest paid employee who did not have to meet these requirements.  This requirement would also hold for state legislators, state elected officials or department heads, mayors and city council members for cities and counties with populations over 250,000 population and any others the state or federal government shall select.  It would also hold for all military officers with the rank of major or above, members of the US House of Representatives and educational employees with the rank of Associate Professor or above and Judges of each states highest court.  This would not hold for anyone who started high school before the measure was passed at the national level.

Higher ranking officials, general officers in the military, U.S. Senators, Governors, presidential Cabinet Officers, and Supreme Court Justices would need the above 11 months plus an additional 6 months in a different country with a different language.  The President, Vice President, and all others in direct line of succession to the Presidency would be required to meet the 11 month and the 6 month requirement with a second independent 6 months in a third country and language.

Now for the somewhat immodest proposal for federal law enforcement, security, and intelligence officers.  This would not necessarily include Military Police whose responsibilities do not extend beyond the immediate area of a military base.  I would include military intelligence officers.  I don’t think that it would be essential for rank and file members of state and local police but I would recommend it for command level officers and those who would be expected to interact with and/or work with federal officers.

I would recommend that representatives of a number of major universities, with the assistance of representatives from major law enforcement, security, and intelligence agencies set up a curriculum of between 30 and 45 semester hours of university course work at the junior and senior level.  The curriculum and supporting material will be readily available.  Any university could offer this course work and it should be offered in at least one university in each state.  The courses should cover the history, mission, and legal requirements of each of the agencies involved.  The courses should replace most of the current training for these agencies.  The classroom work should be open to any student.  The physical, tactical, and weapons training should be available for all students with the exception of weapons that are not available to the public.  The only exception to this openness should be for specific national security reasons, and even here the training should be in a centralized national academy to which all effected agencies send their new staff.  Specific training on equipment unique to a given agency should be given in that agency.

The goal here is to have the personnel in all such agencies understand the mandate and restrictions of all other agencies so that they know what types of information should be passed on even though it may not be relevant to their own operations.  A subsidiary goal is to have a general understanding of the ethics involved and the rights and responsibilities of all citizens with respect to law enforcement.

This is of course a limited, first draft proposal but something needs to be done to remove the politicalization and intra-jurisdictional failures of our current system.

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Fooled Again     Mark Crispin Miller

Miller's thesis here is that in many races, but primarily the presidential race, in 2004 were either won by the Democrats and votes were stolen (or Republican votes were improperly cast) or that many democratic votes were rejected before the election because of fraudulent manipulations of the voting rolls.  This also happened in 2000 but he is not attempting to document the 2000 election in this book.

C1 The Miracle  Right up to the election in 2004 most of the poles and the Los Vegas oddsmakers showed a clear cut Kerry win.  Most of the exit polls (in 5 states that went for Bush including Ohio) also showed a Kerry win.  Miraculously Bush won.

C2  Taking Care of the Counting  There were many efforts to keep democratic voters from voting, rejecting registrations, loosing voter lists, people missing from voting lists, and not having enough working voting machines in democratic areas.  There were few reports in the media of these problems.

C3  The Requisite Fanaticism  The national press joined the Republicans in telling the Democrats to accept defeat and not complain about voting irregularities.  The should have been stressing that honesty in counting overrides any delays.  They also failed to examine Republican candidates critically, for example the Bush radio during the debate of Oct. 1, 2004.  The Republican tactic of attacking the candidates by name calling without ever answering questions.

C4  Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto You  The conservatives don't want to master politics, they wish to annihilate it.  Examples using the statements of Karl Rove and Tom DeLay.  Republican warnings of Democrats attempting to steal votes.  The touch-screen voting machines made by Diebold and the failure of Kerry to show any interest in this problem.  The controversy over the Ohio election results.  The Christian right and their political practices.

C5  The Most Uncontrollable Form of Cancer  Fawn Hall, "sometimes you have to go above the written law."  Dan Burdish, executive director of the Nevada Republican Party said, "I am looking to take Democrats off the voter rolls."  Lists examples of Republicans trying to eliminate Democratic voters by disqualification or by changing ballots, usually after voting using machines.  The activities of Nathan Sproul.

C6  An Orderly Election  There were locations in which Team Bush sent out letters to voters on fake county stationery telling Republicans to vote on Nov 2 and to Democrats to vote on Nov 3, the day after the election.  Many places in Pennsylvania had no lines in heavily Republican areas and long lines in heavily Democrat areas.  Many voters in Democrat areas were refused provisional ballots.  Many threats were made to blacks in South Carolina.  The failure of voting reform in Florida.

C7  One Last Scandal  The majority of American civilians living abroad vote Democrat.  Most military stationed abroad vote Republican, especially the officers and career non-coms.  It is very difficult for civilians to vote.  It is easier for military.  Some of the procedures for military voting make it impossible for them to cast a secret ballot.  Generic problems with absentee ballots.

Epilogue  Repetition of earlier comments.  Instances of illegal harassment of democrats during republican campaign events.  Additional comments on press coverage.

Appendix  The Bush campaign in Jacksonville, Oregon  To my way of thinking, given the presumed subject matter of the book, a totally irrelevant description of the excesses of the Bush campaign in this Oregon town.  Their actions were clearly reprehensible but I don't see the relevance to election problems.

Reviewers Comment  I found this a very confusing book.  It purports to be a documentation of the problems with the 2004 election.  In my mind that means a listing of all of the types of problems, how they were created, examples of several instances of each type of problem, and suggestions as to how such problems can be avoided in the future.  If I were to write this sort of document I would be very structured.  I would basically enumerate the problems, the evidence for each, some examples for each, and recommendations.  I would create an outline and keep expanding, making it clear at each point where I was.  Instead we are given hundreds of random facts, editorializing, and then on to the next, with no clear conclusion to anything.  An example from Chapter 2, "Preserving Democracy divides the evidence into three phases of chicanery.  First, there was the ..."  There is no hint as to what Preserving Democracy is.  His "First" is the second sentence of a paragraph (which is about a page long), and I never found a "Second", or a "Third".  I did check it out fairly carefully for about 7 pages which contained triple line paragraph breaks and several bulleted items.  If this is worth starting a chapter with shouldn't it be a heading, subheading, paragraph, or bulleted list or something.  There are specific examples of Republicans doing bad things but nothing is put together.

The subject matter is worthy of a book, but this isn't it.  It needs an Editor to tell the author to go back and try again.

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Homophobia is un-Christian     Leonard Pitts Jr.

From an Editorial in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Mar 12, 2006

An editorial prompted by an incident at a Miami high school where a teacher and several students used the morning announcements to make a number of anti-gay statements, one was, "homosexuality was 'unacceptable in the eyesight of God'", another was "invoking Sodom and Gomorrah and telling students homosexuality was 'wrong according to the Bible' because God ordered humanity to multiply, which gay couples cannot do."  Actually this last little "factoid" is false, it's just that a small amount of medical assistance is required but no more than many heterosexual couples require.  There is the small detail that the subject of the New Testament was conceived in shall we say is a "non-traditional" manner.

Mr. Pitts goes on to site several passages in the Bible that he hopes that so called homophobic Christians do not completely support.  These are, "it is 'disgraceful' for a woman to speak out in church and that if she has any questions, she should wait until she gets home and ask her husband (1 Corinthians 14:34-36)", "the penalty for going to work on Sunday is death (Exodus 35:1-3)", "the man who rapes a virgin should buy her from her father and marry her (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)".  He speculates that most "literal" homophobic so called Christians do not actually support these commands.  He feels that this is a literalism of convenience that allows you to condemn only what you want when it doesn't apply to them personally.  "People are ignorant in Appalachia, strung out in Miami, starving in Niger, sex slaves in India, mass-murdered in Darfur.  Where is the Christian outrage about that?"  He also says, "If you love me, feed my sheep.  For the record, ..., the bible says that, too.

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Additional Politico-Religious comments

P377-8 in Kandel In Search of Memory  In the 5th century BC Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, basing his arguments on observation, argued that mental processes emanate from the brain.  At the same time, Plato, the mystic philosopher, who rejected observations and experiments, believed that we are divided into two parts, a mortal body and an immaterial and immortal soul.  This was incorporated into Christian theology and elaborated on by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century.  In the 17th century, Renè Descates expanded this by stating that the mind was derived from the soul.  This debate is still with us as the philosopher Karl Popper and the Nobel winning neurobiologist, John Eceles firmly believed in dualism all of their lives.

In the 5th century AD, St. Augustine (quoted by Wilford, 1999) "The universe was brought into being in a less than fully formed state, but was gifted with the capacity to transform itself from unformed matter into a truly marvelous array of structures and life forms."

Pope John Paul II in 1996, "'. evolutionary theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge'  evolution, he concluded, 'is more than just a theory.'"  Both from Psychology, 7th Ed., David G. Myers

Intelligent design belongs outside science class, editorial by Donald Clegg, info@donaldclegg.com, April 15,2006.  "If so, they'll (people who support intelligent design legislation) be discussing an old, thoroughly debunked doctrine, dressed up anew and trotted out by folks who seem determined to turn America into the new Iraq - that is, a fundamentalist theocracy."  He quotes from philosopher Keith Ward, "If God's acts are necessary and therefore not free or are they free and therefore arbitrary... In short, if you argue for intelligent design, you're arguing against an all-knowing, all-powerful God."

"In Matthew 6 Jesus outlines the best way to live on this earth."
Reference  Check out Levidicus

Specific quotations from Foxes in the Henhouse  

evilbible dot com is a great reference and covers many aspects of religion.

Something else you should know about the Bible: If you're a true believer, you should keep your beliefs to yourself. (Matthew 6:5-6)

And: Matthew 16:28 "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." Which is to say "My second coming will be within the lifetimes of my disciples.?" But that obviously didn't happen...

God directly orders people to murder (including innocent women and children), steal, rape, etc. See: Numbers 31:15-18, among other instances.

How about the parts that instruct how much money I have to pay to get out of my rape charge? Remind me, what were the instructions for selling my daughter into slavery. And speaking of slavery, I'm considering buying a few. I know the Bible says that's okay, but I forget what the conditions were for enslavement, refresh my memory.

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Look at Bible's homosexual references in context           John David Bristow     April 2007

From an editorial in The Spokesman-Review Faith & Values section     Saturday April 28, 2007

There are those who treat the Bible the way a drunk uses a lamppost - more for support than for illumination.  But thoughtful people should approach the Scriptures with humility and openness.

To understand this concern, let's consider a quick overview of the Bible's teachings about homosexuality, because that is often the hot-button topic, among those who quote the Scriptures out of context.

The story of God's destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19:4-38) - a city whose name has lent us the English word "sodomy" - is frequently cited by those who claim the Bible condemns homosexuality.

But one needs to look at the whole story, beyond its references to homosexual relations.  When the men of the town surrounded Lot's home, apparently seeking to have sex with two visitors (actually angels in disguise), Lot offered up his two daughters to be gang-raped instead.  But rape in any form is wrong.

Later, these same daughters got Lot drunk and seduced him.  Incest, too, is wrong.

So the story of Sodom offers no good model of sexual morality in any form.

The law of Moses does prescribe the death penalty for homosexual intercourse (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13).  However, homosexuality is not mentioned in the Ten Commandments.  (Adultery, on the other hand, is named and condemned.)

The law of Moses also demands the death penalty for several other sexual offenses. For example, a bride whose hymen does not bleed on her wedding night is be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:20-22).

So, do we execute homosexuals, as demanded by the law of Moses?  Or kill brides who cannot prove their virginity?

Careful Bible readers are aware of an extremely important fact: that we who are Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians are exempt from the law of Moses.  The law of Moses was given to the Israelites, not to Gentiles.  The apostles and elders, meeting in Jerusalem, unanimously declared this exemption in writing (Acts 15:1-29).

Jesus said he came to fulfill the law; however, he modified it and prioritized it.   We Gentile Christians are to obey the teachings of Jesus, not the law of Moses.

Jesus named two laws that do apply to all of us: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind," and "you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

So what did Jesus himself say specifically about homosexuality?

Nil. Nada. Nothing.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul the Apostle declared that homosexual intercourse, plus a number of other offenses, is the direct result of the worship of idols (Romans 1:18-32), apparently referring to the practices of sacred prostitution at pagan temples.

However, Paul was not denouncing what today is referred to as ''homosexual orientation." Instead, he wrote of men "giving up natural intercourse with women" (emphasis added).  Apparently these were not "gays from' birth," but men who chose to abandon their previous natural attraction to women because of idolatry.

Nonetheless, Paul added in the strongest language possible that we are not to judge; if we do, he warns, we will be judged by God (Romans 2:1-3).

Some believers, however, do not hesitate to judge.  They repeatedly condemn as sin that which Jesus never mentioned; they disregard the crucial decision of the apostles regarding the law of Moses; and they do not pay close attention to the words Paul actually used.

Worse yet, some go so far as to urge that believers must leave their churches if their leaders do not use the Bible to condemn homosexuality.

We remind them that Paul the Apostle spoke out against those who promote church schism on the basis of the law of Moses.  Instead, he spoke of the church as the body of Christ, unified and whole, working together.

Anyone can have an opinion regarding homosexuality.  But Christians should never force the Scriptures to reflect their personal opinions or support their own agenda, on this or any other topic.

John Temple Bristow is a Disciples of Christ pastor, published author and adjunct instructor at Gonzaga University.  He submitted this column on behalf of the Coalition of Progressive Pastors, an ecumenical clergy group in Spokane.

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The Woman with the Alabaster Jar - Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail    Margaret Starbird

Forward  by Rev. Terrance A. Sweeney, Ph.D.  The Roman Catholic Church says that Joseph never had sex with Mary, she gave birth to only one child - Jesus, she was a virgin when she died, Jesus never married.  Sweeney thinks that this belief arose from the Gnostics and the Manichaeans.  They believed that nature was evil, sexual interourse was an invention of the devil, some refused babtism and the Eucharist unless the recipient was a virgin, widow, or a married couple who had agreed to refrain from sex.  Problems: Matthew - "While Jesus was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside...", Mark 3:31 "And his mother and his brothers came ...", Luke 8:19 "Then his mother and his brothers came to him...",  Matthew 13:55-56 "Is not his mother the woman called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude?  His sisters, too, are they not all here with us?",  Paul in I Corinthians 9:5 "Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord..."  There is no direct evidence of Jesus ever having been married but no Jewish man of that age would have been been awarded any status unless he was married.

Preface  Starbird was interested in Judeo-Christian Scriptures and a friend recommended Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Biagent, Leigh, and Lincoln.  This greatly disturbed her but it sparked an interest in Mary Magdalen and the treatment of the feminine in western society and religion.

Prologue  A fictional account Mary Magdalen following the death of Jesus, her trip to Egypt, the birth of her daughter - Sarah, and their trip to southern France.

C1  The Lost Bride  A fourth-century legend from France says that Mary Magdalen brought the "Sangraal" to the south coast.  Another legend says that Joseph of Arimathea brought the blood of Christ to France in 42 AD.  The official version of Christianity was established by church councils in the third and fourth centuries AD, often with pressure from Roman emperors or other political factions.  Sangraal can be broken down into sang raal which means "blood royal" in Old French.  There are many biblical references to Mary Magdalen in the Bible.  Luke 8:2, Mark 15:40, John 20:1-3, etc.  Many of these would have been appropriate for a wife.  The anointing of Jesus by a woman with an alabaster jar (in Luke) follows ancient rites going back to 7000 BC and continuing into Old Testament times of a woman anointing her husband-to-be with oil as a part the wedding ceremony.

C2  The Bridegroom  Many of the early Near Eastern religions had the concept of a new king being anointed with oil by the heiress or royal priestess.  By this process the new king received royal status, he became the Anointed One or the Messiah. It wasn't until about 1020 BC with King Saul and later David that the Prophets were given this power.  It was noted that David became king by marrying Michol, the daughter of Saul.  It was a tradition of a King who came to power peacefully to come riding a donkey, Solomon did this just as Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  All 4 gospels repeat that a woman with an alabaster jar anointed Jesus in Bethany.  Starbird suggests that her name was left out of the record to protect her from the retrobution of the Temple and the Romans.  Remember that crucifiction was a punishment by the Romans for political crimes(sedition), stoning was the punishment by the Temple for religious crimes.

C3  The Blood Royal and the Vine  The vine has a long biblical history of being the chosen people of God.  Following the crucifiction there is no mention of Mary Magdalen or her sister Martha or her brother Lazarus.  If Mary was His wife, her relatives would have spirited her away to keep the vine safe.  Starbird presents many lines of evidence to show that Jesus was a political as well as spiritual leader and that Mary Magdalen as a Benjamite would have been a force uniting the tribes of David and Benjamin as a political unit.  He would have been recognized as the anointed king of the Jews.  Starbird questions whether the Bible story of Mary and Joseph going to Egypt might really be Joseph of Arimathea taking Mary Magdalene and her unborn child to Egypt.  Then later, approximately 42 AD, they, plus Martha and Lazarus traveled to France with Sarah.  The French town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer has a festival every May 23-25 to honor Saint Sarah the Egyptian, also called Sara Kali, the Black Queen.  Here black seems to mean hidden, as in the black ops of intelligent services.  This relationship crops up again in the Merovigian kings of France.  This can be broken down phonetically into mer and vin, the vine of Mary.  It is possible that the many shrines to the Black Madonna in Europe are references to this.

C4  The Twelfth-Century Awakening  None of the current versions of Christianity are the same as the early versions.  The Church of Jerusalem: James, Jesus' brother, was the first leader, remained very Jewish and did not equate Jesus with God.  James and Peter, two preeminent leaders of the Jerusalem community, were very upset with the version that Paul tought.  Many of these groups were destroyed by the Romans following the revolt in AD 66-74.  Many of these teachings and records were destroyed by the heirochy around the time of the Council of Nicaea in 325.  In 380 following the edict of Emperor Theodosius declaring Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire any dissent was persecuted and their records destroyed.  With the attacks of the Huns, Visigoths, Franks, etc. between the 4th and 10th centuries there were few records created and more of the remaining ones were destroyed.  During this period Western civilization was centered in southern France, Celtic Ireland, and Moorish Spain.  Much Christian writing was based on commentaries by Augustine and Jerome, both whom regarded women as morally inferior to men.  This seems to have followed the writings of Mani, Augustine was a follower of him.  The primary exception to this seems to have been in Southern France.  One of the main targets of the Church of Rome during the later portions of this time were the Cathars, the Albigensian revolution.  The culmination of this was the Inquisition, formally instituted in 1233.  The travelling troubadors may have been carrying the message about Mary Magdalen in their songs of love.  The original designs of Gothic architecture were created and spread around Europe between 1130 and 1250, this period came to an end with the spread of the Inquisition.

C5  Relics of the Hidden Church  The chapter begins with a number of plates showing art that presumably depicts scenes which refer to Mary Magdalen and elements of religious beliefs which are based on her as the wife of Jesus.  It contains images and descriptions of many of the icons used in this context.  Some of the modern representations are the castle symbol of the Army Corps of Engineers and tarot cards.

C6  Heretical Artists and Their Symbols  It has long been known that many medieval master artists use symbols in their works.  Starbird describes some of the symbolism used by Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Crivelli, Jan van Scorel and Georges de la Tour.  Symbolism related to this was used by the Rosicrucians and the Saint Andrew's Cross.

C7  The Unicorn and The Lady  Starbird believes that the tapestry series entitled La Dame á la Licorne (The Lady and the Unicorn) represents Mary Magdalene flanked by the lion (of Judah) and the unicorn, both medieval symbols for Christ.  She describes the symbolism in all of the six panels.

C8  The Bride in Folklore and Legend  There is a recurrent theme of the lost princess in the folklore of Europe.  In 1140 in Lyons in Southern France the Church of Rome created the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  This created the misunderstanding that Mary was conceived "immaculately" by her parents, Anna and Joachim.  This was an attempt to replace the cult of Mary Magdalen with the cult of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Saint Bernard did not approve of this feast.  Some of the folklore tales that seem to be based on this myth are Cinderella, a number of the Black Madonna stories and shrines, Briar Rose or Sleeping Beauty in English, Rapunzel (this seems to reflect the story of Saint Barbara which was not disclamed by Catholic Church until 1969) and the legends of the Celts of the magic cup or cauldron.

C9  The Desert Shall Bloom  Starbirdß sees the rise of male power and the reduction of female influence typified by the Jewish, Christian, and Moslem religions as a very dark period in the history of the world.  She also sees the rising influence and power of women over the last 300 years and especially the last 50 years as a very hopeful sign that this influence will at last regain its equal balance.  Of course it will not be an easy transformation, those in power never like their power reduced.  A final note on symbolism.  The Disney film The Little Mermaid from the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale.  The name of the mermaid, unnamed in the fairy tale, is Ariel which is an alternate name for Jerusalem.  Hanging from the wall of her underwater house is the painting, The Penitent Magdalen, by Georges de la Tour.

Reference:  Books by Matthew Fox, especially his 95 theses he placed at the Wittenberg Church in 2005.

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