We have spoken to your mother. We know everything.
The following was written by Youssef Ibrahim (see bio here)
With Terrorists, Let Israel Succeed Where America Has Failed
It may just be that Israel will do what President Bush promised but failed to do: bring about some serious regime changes in the Greater Middle East by overthrowing the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas government and then destabilizing the decrepit Syrian dictatorial regime.
With Israeli troops poised to enter the Gaza Strip, the first goal is within Israel's grasp.
One can only hope that by buzzing President Assad's summer palace with fighter planes on Tuesday, Israel also was signaling that the second act will follow.
Muslim fundamentalists and rotting Arab dictators are the gnawing evils of the Middle East. They have a lot in common, most particularly their use of the tired and abused Palestinian Arab cause as the eternal vehicle to their taking and retaining power.
It happened with the dictators first. Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser took power in Egypt in 1952 to build a model of subsequent pan-Arab dictatorships premised on vows to unite everyone around the promise of eradicating Israel. He quickly became mired in two wars with Israel, in 1956 and 1967, when he lost the entire Sinai Peninsula.
Similarly, Hafez Al-Assad, the father of the current president of Syria, came to power in the late '60s on a platform of upholding the Arab dream of unity. And what was it centered around? You guessed it.
In 1967, Assad went to war against Israel and lost the Golan Heights, which the Assads have yet to recover, even as they continue to urge the masses to liberate Palestine. It is not for nothing that Palestinian Arabs will tell you that Bashar Al-Assad will fight to the last Palestinian Arab.
Jordan's King Hussein, another Arab potentate, followed Nasser and Hafez Al-Assad into the 1967 war and lost all of the West Bank of the Jordan River.
In Act II, Islamic fundamentalists with their many names - Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Islamic Republic of Iran - are again all focused on uniting the ummah of Islam around the liberation of Palestine.
Potentates or fundamentalists, the dynamics of their tactics always lead in one direction: another attack on Israel. Hamas was bound to get there sooner or later. It starts with renouncing all peace treaties signed by previously chastened Arab potentates - in this case, the unlamented Yasser Arafat. Then they promise a dash of military struggle, but the results are inevitably the same: suicide bombers, lame tunnels to Israel from Gaza, killing soldiers, and kidnapping Corporal Gilad Shalit, the Israeli army recruit.
Islamist fundamentalists and Arab potentates, in principle so very different, end up acting alike.
It is no coincidence that the commander of Hamas's military wing, Khaled Meshaal, lives under the protection and sponsorship of the Assad regime in Damascus. Nor is it a coincidence that Hamas was born, established, and intellectually weaponized by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement. The cycles are connecting.
Indeed, while Israel points a menacing finger at the Damascus-based Hamas leader, it also points at his benefactors - the Assads and Syria.
Is it time for America, Israel's strategic partner in the Middle East, to get some help from its friends? I think so.
America has never failed to support Israel politically and militarily. Now we need the Israelis to lead, since we have so plainly failed to deliver the regime changes we promised.
The first order of business is for Israel to widen and deepen the military operation in Gaza, until it results in the arrest and jailing of all Hamas representatives starting with the prime minister and the foreign minister, who happen to be Hamas's top leaders in Gaza. This time, Israel should not leave Gaza until every Palestinian Arab clearly understands that the clocks will never be turned back.
Then Israel should demand that Syria hands over the Hamas military leader - with the full knowledge it will not happen, but with the clear intention of attacking Syria when it does not.
The timing and circumstances are perfect. Not one Arab country would entertain the notion of helping Syria. Indeed, many would wish to see Mr. Assad dispatched.
Iran can yell a lot, but it will do little. Hezbollah in Lebanon, which may be tempted to jump into the fray, this time must suffer the relentless bombing of all the Shiite villages in south Lebanon, its power base.
Finally, it matters little whether the Israelis kill Mr. Assad, so long as they clearly humiliate him from the air and with special operations on the ground. Mr. Assad humiliated is Mr. Assad finished.
We have rarely asked our Israeli friends to do us a favor. Right now, we need them.
It is interesting to note that that the Democrat Party big names are not trying to hide the fact that they need religious voters more than they need religion. They are saying that while we are what we are, our values are not antithetical to religious values. They talk about hunger and social justice, freedom and globalism. The truth is, they are but a fraction of an inch from looking like Michael Dukakis riding that tank, to prove his military appreciation bona fides. Like Dukakis that spent a career deriding the military, the Democrats are hoping that now appealing to religious voters will obfuscate and camouflage the truth that they abandoned those voters- and as a result, middle America abandoned the Democrat party.
To the Democrat party's credit, they are not relying on Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton to lead the charge.
Still, appealing for the religious vote will take more than a few speeches and sound bites. While snappy retorts and one liners may work for the Left, a religious voter will not be impressed with shallowness. For religious voters, it is depth that counts. A shallow puddle isn't the same body of water as a deep lake.
In a post 9/11 world, we have become more thoughtful. We have discussed this before.
America is at war from without and from within. American, British, Australian and other troops face danger in Iraq and Afghanistan, in an attempt to instill freedom and democracy, and to wrest power from those who would continue to repress tens of millions. The anti-war contingent wake every day, ready to do battle with America and her allies- and care not a whit about those who blow up children or subway cars and kill as many as they can.
At home, Americans are at battle too, attacking each other with a ferociousness and using tactics never before seen. There is no semblance or pretense to civility or exchange; there is just a visceral hatred that permeates the debate. In another time, it could be said that this is the stuff that revolutions are made of. It is a Jihad of sorts, American style.
The real issues aren't being discussed. The only things that count are winning and subjugating opponents. The merit or veracity of any argument is irrelevant- if the origin is ‘the other side,‘ it is to be discarded and treated as if it were toxic. There is no mercy for the dissenters and no room for compromise. From an empirical standpoint, how and why this came to pass is quite evident. It is about God, morality and moral relativism.
A standard mantra of American religious and not so religious conservatives is that we would all be better off if there were more religious values in the public square. The left of course, recoils in horror at that very thought. Religion, they argue, is the last thing that should be tolerated in the public square. Religious values are the bane of liberalism. Why are they so opposed to religion and religious values? What is it about religion and values that so frightens them? The left would have you believe that God in the public square would be akin to the Mullahs in Iran given free reign here.
Values, by definition are definable. Values require commitment to standards that are measurable. Most dangerous to the left are that those values can be measured. These are things that liberalism can never reconcile with. Measurement means accountability. It is important to acknowledge that there was a time that liberalism was a force for great good. Bound by overbearing social strictures and harsh ruling class restraints and dictum, the liberal achievements for the common man are inestimable. Unions served their purpose in providing for decent pay and the elimination of hazardous working conditions and child labor. The political mobilization of the poor and of minorities have in the end, served our society well. We would do well to remember that the American Revolution was about revolt over tyranny and provided a voice to the voiceless, clearly a liberal idea that upended the status quo, with the idea that the individual was indeed capable of taking care of himself, without interference from the powers that were. That was liberalism then. Liberalism now is an entirely different creature.
Let's start with God. For most of us, whether we wear our religion on our sleeves or not, God is Master of the Universe, timeless in the message of faith and the teaching of morality. We beseech from him guidance and mercy and have established our society and laws predicated on religious principles. Some accept that there is a higher power, to whom we are answerable or at the very least, gave to us rules that keep us from anarchy. Our society has never been literalist, despite what the left would have you think. We do not stone adulterers, nor do we chop off the hands of thieves.
We have, within the framework of belief, created a society that concedes that we are created “In His Image” and at the same time, reinforces the notion of free will. In the world of liberalism, all gods are equal.
In fact, to a liberal, God is not a god. He is a partner-- a junior partner to our desires and ideals. We are not accountable to God. He becomes accountable to us. Whatever it is we believe in at the moment, whatever desires we have, must be accommodated by the ever faithful junior partner, God. We do not have to commit to Him, He has to commit to us, whatever the cause. Liberalism is not about obligation, it is about accommodation. No matter how absurd the idea, no matter how shocking the behavior, it is sanctioned by the liberals interpretation of God. Whatever the cause, whatever the belief, liberals will tell you that they are sanctioned by God, for whom they purport to speak. There is no evil, there are no standards. All is equal is the eyes of the liberal god. Anyone who denies that is ostracized, ridiculed and set upon, as if they were the epitome of evil.
To be fair, some conservatives are the very obverse of that. They will say that they are charged with fulfilling God's mission on earth. Like the very liberals they so despise, they too, would take free will out of the equation.
In fact, God is not our partner, no matter how religious we are. On the other hand, not all professions of God are equals. The God that does demand the stoning of adulteresses and the amputation of limbs is not a moral equivalent to our concept of God, anymore than the society that has no wheel is equal to the society that does. To say that all belief systems are equal is contemptible. One may accept for themselves any belief structure they wish, but we are not obligated to accept that choice as a moral equivalent to our own way of thinking.
That liberals will parrot the mantra that all belief structures are equal, is ridiculous. Belief structures that encourage hatred and violence are not equal to our own. Belief structures that produce terror, supporters of terror and apologists for terror are not equal to our own. To say that such beliefs are cut from the same cloth as our own, is a is a gross insult to our own beliefs. Neither Christianity or Judaism, upon whose beliefs our governments- and freedoms- were founded, are guilty today of the above mentioned behaviors. Our societies have long since abandoned those behaviors in favor of an environment that best allows for us to express our better selves, through hard work and rules formulated to benefit all of us.
To a liberal of course, all behavior is equal. Many liberal ideologies are the barometers of an ideal that has no moral foundation. The only evils they see, are the ones that demands accountability. The target of their venom is a society that still has the notion that responsibility, accountability and effort are the measure of worth. To the liberal elite it is enough simply to have an idea and be rewarded and celebrated for that idea, no matter what the idea is. They believe their ideas alone merit superior standing and positions of leadership. That others might suggest they actually earn whatever it is they want, is to arouse rabid hatred.
This ideology was not adopted easily. Many liberals were and are, God fearing and religious people. They see the manifestation of their liberal values as an extension of their religious values. That changed when leadership of the liberal ideology abandoned those voices in favor of voices that were louder- and voices that eschewed any connection to religious values, because those values could be measured. They could be held accountable- and that accountability was a hard sell, certainly harder than ‘anything goes.’ Societies and religions are measured by their contributions. It is clear who has contributed to society and who has contributed to it’s destruction. Those societies and religions that have contributed nothing but destruction to society, are not equal to those who contribute. New liberal ideology can’t change that truth. That is why so many religious liberals feel betrayed. They, more than anyone, see with clarity that new liberal ideal that somehow the contributions of our own society and the destruction of society are morally equivalent.
It is an ideal that is based on the false god of moral relativism- and that kind of deceit and Jihad we can do without.
As we noted earlier, in Why The Democrats Are Finding Religion, the Dems are attempting to mainstream faith into that party's reality. Clearly, the Democrats are trying to tap into a bloc of voter they had abandoned. The Democrats had chosen to abandon the faithful and replace them with the faithless of Hollywood. As it turns out, the democrats learned that just because People magazine has a big subscriber base, Americans will not adopt the lifestyle of the people in People.
Why? Well, simply stated, Americans (for the most part), want their children to have very different values than those found in Hollywood. Britney Spears is not the model for mothers and Angelina Jolie, for all her well scripted and staged remarks, is a dysfunctional idiot - and every body knows it. All the PR people in the world can't change that. Ms Jolie is no more an expert on world affairs than is a canned ham. The difference between them is clear: With a canned ham, you know what's in the can.
People understand that what Susan Sarandon has to say about world events is less meaningful than what Condaleeza Rice has to say. Susan Sarandon graduated HIgh School. Condaleeza Rice was the Provost at Stanford.
People want their children to look up to people like Condaleeza Rice, not to people like Susan Sarandon. People understand that Susan Sarandon and Barbra Streisand are probably very nice people. They also understand that Hollywood is the village of Court Jesters.
No one prays the cast of Grey's Anatomy will be manning the hospital emergency room if they need real medical attention and no one really believes because Martin Sheen can read cue cards well, he'd be a great president in real life.
If the Democrats really want to appeal to people of faith, that appeal will have to be more than window dressing. As The Anchoress recently remarked, we live in times that require serious people. Serious people are not found in Hollywood. Role models come from Stanford and not the silver screen. There is no room for the values of the Hollywood court jesters. The Democrats will have to make a choice. They can choose to share the values of middle America- those voters that were loyal to their call, for decades, before they were unceremoniously dumped, or they can continue to share the values of Hollywood.
We once asked, Why does religion work? Why are religious values so hard to eliminate?
To be clear, religion, such as it is, cannot be easily defined. Many who do not attend religious services refer to themselves as religious or spiritual. Argue that they are not really religious or spiritually connected because they don't mind orthodox religious P's and Q's and your likely to end up in an even bigger argument.
To understand the why of religion, one needs to understand what religion accomplishes. (To be clear, we are not discussing faith. That is an entirely different topic). Simply stated, religion provides two necessary ingredients (though by no means exclusively) that feed and nourish the human condition. Religion provides order- and it provides chaos.
In a world where everything is questioned, day in and day out, religion provides a sense of order and purpose. Like the traffic lights and speed limits, religion- and for that matter, all moral behavior- provide 'rules of the road' keep the system from imploding on itself.
Religion also provides chaos. Like art and literature, religion today asks those things that challenge the status quo and demand we respond. It is in those responses that we often see new horizons- John Paul II, JB Soloveitchik, Kierkegaard and host of lesser known current religious thinkers have forced a kind of 'chaos' upon us- the status quo was not good enough. Like the School of Paris painters at the beginning of the 20th century that forced us to look at the world in a way that wasn't necessarily representational, religious thinkers provide the chaos we need to grow. God may be Mozart and Rembrandt, but He is no less Picasso and Coltrane.
We have noted that when Nietzsche declared that 'God is dead,' he was to a large degree correct. The God that Nietzsche referred to was indeed passing. The Church, once repressive and oppressive, was undergoing a transformation. It was understood that God no longer demanded uniformity or wanted to obliterate self expression. In fact, God celebrated the very things that were foundational to the Age of Enlightenment. As it turned out, God was perfectly able to look out for his own interests, without agendized human interventions. That is a truth rarely referred to- and it is an important truth. The founders of this country were fleeing religious persecution and in fact, the principles and guarantors of freedom in this country were deemed to be religious rights and not just secular rights. God made room for all kinds of believers and non believers. Free will no longer had any fine print attached to it.
Still, secularism, and all it's derivatives, were understandable reactions to being held underfoot by a Church and faith that remained behind the curve in accepting change and challenge science was to provide. When a slave broke the chains of his bondage, he didn't stay long enough to have tea and say good bye to his master. He ran, as far and fast as he could, never to look back.
Secularism hasn't been able to eliminate God because secularism no longer offers a viable alternative to God. Ideas, art, philosophy and even God, can now be challenged by believers, too.
What is different is that many secularists are bound and determined to kill God. They are not satisfied coexisting with believers. The reasons are many and varied, but one thing is clear. Unlike many secularists, Christians, Jews and Buddhists do not lose sleep because they pray differently. God as described by secularists very rarely, if ever, resembles the God of the believers.
In fact, religion is like DNA. It gets passed on, generation to generation and while there are the inevitable losses, by and large, religious belief perseveres because religious people obviously benefit from their beliefs. If they didn't, religion would have disappeared long ago. What secularists do not realize is that their cause is not helped when in the attempt to demystify God, they dehumanize religion, those beliefs that provide both the chaos and order in their lives. Dehumanize and attempt to demystify religion and you dehumanize the believer.
Obviously, while religion is not for everyone, it is clearly a part of the DNA of many, no matter what secularists argue.
Religion and secularism address man's understanding of self. As we noted, secularism has been unable to get rid of religion because secularism does not offer an understanding of the self that is to superior to that offered by faith.
Why dadaism came about is as much as mystery as how the Sistine Chapel's ceiling ended up the way it did. Religious inspiration differs little than secularly inspired expression.
The horsehair bow that coaxes music out of a violin is as much mystery as it is science, and nothing can change that.
Notwithstanding premature announcements of the death of religion, it would appear that religion- or religious values- are alive and well.
Secularism- and to a lesser extent, moral Humanism, have gotten a bad rap because a hard core of secularists have had a harder time in making their case and as a result, they have resorted to less than honest arguments, reinforced with immoral behavior as being representative of secularism.
The strands of religious DNA have are in no danger of extinction.
Recently, a number of Democrats including Howard Dean, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have begun to openly court the religious vote.
Howard Dean appeared on Pat Robertson's TV program and gravely announced that "marriage is between a man and a woman." This contrast sharply with some of his previous remarks:
"At a time when the Republican Party is in trouble with their conservative base, Bill Frist is taking a page straight out of the Karl Rove playbook to distract from the Republican Party's failed leadership and misplaced priorities by scapegoating LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) families for political gain, using marriage as a wedge issue. It's not only morally wrong, it is shameful and reprehensible."
After his appearance on the Pat Robertson program, Dean reportedly called gay rights leaders to apologize for 'misrepresenting' the Democrat Party agenda.
While Howard Dean proved that, well, he had all the credibility of Howard Dean, Barack Obama is far more honest. He speaks in a remarkably candid way:
For one thing, I believed and still believe in the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change, a power made real by some of the leaders here today. Because of its past, the black church understands in an intimate way the Biblical call to feed the hungry and cloth the naked and challenge powers and principalities. And in its historical struggles for freedom and the rights of man, I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death; it is an active, palpable agent in the world. It is a source of hope.
And perhaps it was out of this intimate knowledge of hardship, the grounding of faith in struggle, that the church offered me a second insight: that faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have doubts. You need to come to church precisely because you are of this world, not apart from it; you need to embrace Christ precisely because you have sins to wash away – because you are human and need an ally in your difficult journey.
His words are honest and poignant.
The path I traveled has been shared by millions upon millions of Americans – evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims alike; some since birth, others at a turning point in their lives. It is not something they set apart from the rest of their beliefs and values. In fact, it is often what drives them.
This is why, if we truly hope to speak to people where they’re at – to communicate our hopes and values in a way that’s relevant to their own – we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse.
Because when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew; when we discuss religion only in the negative sense of where or how it should not be practiced, rather than in the positive sense of what it tells us about our obligations towards one another; when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome – others will fill the vacuum, those with the most insular views of faith, or those who cynically use religion to justify partisan ends.
Obama speaks from his heart and with clarity. Rather than deride faith, he extols even differences in faith, when those differences are sincere and meant to be constructive. His words are a far cry from the derision and hate that all too often emanate from the liberal community.
Hillary Clinton noted that there are 'too many abortions' and that abortion was a 'sad, even tragic event.' Those remarks infuriated abortion proponents, who went on to label her a 'traitor.'
We have addressed the issue of the left, right and religion before. We said,
Let us be clear. We have no trouble with many liberal ideas. In fact, as we have said, liberals have, and continue to contribute mightily to the American political and social landscape. Our contention isn't with liberals, per se, but rather, with what Liberalism, as a political ideology, has become- an unforgiving and dogmatic faith. We are clearly and unequivocally saying that liberal ideology has been hijacked by the liberal elite. If it weren't, liberals would not have lost their core constituent base, middle America. Hard working, church going, blue collar workers don't vote Democrat anymore. Not even the unions can deliver the vote. Karl Rove did not and could not 'deliver' middle America. No one could. In fact, middle American bellied up to the conservative bar, all by themselves. In fact, an argument could be made that the loyalty conservatives now have with middle America is a tenuous one at best, predicated on the abandonment people feel.
It was not that long ago that people who went to church weren’t ridiculed. Liberals didn’t call them stupid and suggested they not be allowed to vote. Were those loud of those fringe voices? Sure they were. Even louder however, was the silence from liberal leadership, as they did not castigate those bigoted voices. They wanted- and still want it- both ways.
The real disappointment today is that middle Americans aren’t as stupid and pliable as liberal leadership would like. They still haven’t figured out that they have to offer something other than hatred as an option to conservative voices. Take a step back and think about it. It is now conservatives that offer up social programs and it is now liberals that deride them. The legacy of the war on poverty has been passed on to conservatives. The most visible and widespread legacy the liberals can call on is racist- Clarence Thomas is an ‘Uncle Tom’ and Condaleeza Rice is an ‘Uppity Nigger.’ It is perfectly acceptable for liberals- even, and especially, in the halls of Congress, to use those epithets. There are liberals who understand that. While we don’t always agree with Michael Lerner, of Tikkun, his arguments in Common Dreams are hard to ignore. He puts it this way:
For years the Democrats have been telling themselves "it's the economy, stupid." Yet consistently for dozens of years millions of middle income Americans have voted against their own economic interests to support Republicans who have tapped a deeper set of needs…
Tens of millions of Americans feel betrayed by a society that seems to place materialism and selfishness above moral values. They know that "looking out for number one" has become the common sense of our society, but they want a life that is about something more --- a framework of meaning and purpose to their lives that would transcend the grasping and narcissism that surrounds them. Sure, they will admit that they have material needs, and that they worry about adequate health care, stability in employment, and enough money to give their kids a college education. But even more deeply they want their lives to have meaning --- and they respond to candidates who seem to care about values and some sense of transcendent purpose...
Yet to move in this direction, many Democrats would have to give up their attachment to a core belief: that those who voted for Bush are fundamentally stupid or evil. Its time they got over that elitist self righteousness and developed strategies that could affirm their common humanity with those who voted for the Right. Teaching themselves to see the good in the rest of the American public would be a critical first step in liberals and progressives learning how to teach the rest of American society how to see that same goodness in the rest of the people on this planet. It is this spiritual lesson --- that our own well-being depends on the well-being of everyone else on the planet and on the well-being of the earth- a lesson rooted deeply in the spiritual wisdom of virtually every religion on the planet, that could be the center of a revived Democratic party. Yet to take that seriously, the Democrats are going to have to get over the false and demeaning perception that the Americans who voted for Bush could never be moved to care about the well being of anyone but themselves. That transformation in the Democrats would make them into serious contenders.
…liberals, trapped in a long-standing disdain for religion and tone-deaf to the spiritual needs that underlie the move to the Right, have been unable to engage these voters in a serious dialogue… the liberal world has developed such a knee-jerk hostility to religion that it has both marginalized those many people on the Left who actually do have spiritual yearnings and simultaneously refused to acknowledge that many who move to the Right have legitimate complaints about the ethos of selfishness in American life… …The hostility of the Left to spirituality is so deep, in fact, that when they hear us in Tikkun talking this way they often can't even hear what we are saying ---- so they systematically mis-hear it and say that we are calling for the Left to take up the politics of the Right…Read Michael Lerner’s entire article here.
You may agree or disagree with Rabbi Lerner, but in fact, he raises many very valid points. In fact, no one can argue or deny the truth of much of what Rabbi Lerner says. Given the right focus and direction, as we once said, liberal values can and will appeal to many. It would be a mistake to dismiss Rabbi Lerner because of his political affiliations.
We certainly do not always agree with Rabbi Lerner, but more than one of his ideas contain more than a kernel of truth. Do you think Daniel Patrick Moynihan (one of our all time favorite politicians) could get elected now? Do you think that great American liberal patriot would have ever had the opportunity to become the American icon he was, if he we in Congress today? Simply having differing views does not disqualify the relevance or patriotism of worthy adversaries. We consider Patrick Daniel Moynihan a real American patriot. Although in many areas, the late senator Moynihan challenged the views of many not as liberal as he, there was never a question of his love of country or his dream to make America a better place for all her citizens. Mr. Moynihan often crossed party lines and confounded his supporters and detractors on a regular basis. His entire raison d'etre was to help build a better America. His politics were not centered around ‘getting’ anyone or just looking for any and every reason to vilify an opponent. Mr. Moynihan actually stood for something. Hillary Clinton states the obvious- there are far too many abortions- and she called a traitor (in the interest of disclosure, SC&A do not like the idea of abortion, but support choice).
‘Screw Abstinence’ parties, hosted by abortion rights groups are flaunted as ‘au courrant’ in the face of parents and others who might think otherwise. There is the idea that 'getting' the 'other side' is the object of the game- whatever it takes. Women's movements, for example, founded on the ideal of choice, seems not to tolerate choice at all. Anyone not adopting the liberal leadership position is the enemy. Is it any wonder that liberalism has lost much of it's luster?
.. Americans rejected the hedonism of Woodstock, in which individual choice and uninhibited, personal expression trumped all. Hollywood came to epitomize for them this narcissism and repudiation of conventional values. They were tired of the new counterculture of radical change, seeing in the New Left contempt for middle America and its values, reflected in fathers abandoning their families, the delegitimization of the sanctity of marriage, raising children without clear moral guideposts â all of which, in their minds, led to increased criminality, drug abuse,people being recast as society's victims rather than accepting responsibility for their own actions. They yearned to restore the authority of public institutions and to remove some of the violence and sexuality in TV programs, records, and computer games, whose content they ascribed to the liberals who write the screenplays for TV and movies. Against this backdrop, the Democratic Party saw its leadership shifting away from its working-class and middle-class roots, away from moral traditionalists, especially families that go to church, away from those who live in unfashionable tract suburbs and even in working-class neighborhoods. The Democratic Party was increasingly identifying more with the rising elites of the information and entertainment age - what commentator Joel Kotkin calls the"hip-ocracy" of well-educated people, high-tech tycoons, Hollywood moguls and celebrities, Wall Street financiers, and an academic world of people with graduate degrees - a new social elite, much more liberal than the country at large. Bill Clinton's "I feel your pain" and "It's the economy, stupid!" reflected the need to reconnect with the traditional Democratic middle-class constituencies, but then he exacerbated the concern over moral values and family issues with his personal behavior. The entire article can be found here.
As with Michael Lerner, you may not agree with Zuckerman's politics, but there is also a more than a kernel of truth in his remarks. Our post was not about liberal and liberal ideas. It was about what has become liberal ideology and and liberal leadership. If liberals want to regain the credibility they once had with the American people, they need to reclaim their party.
We have noted that we are 'attacking each other with a ferociousness and using tactics never before seen. There is no semblance or pretense to civility or exchange; there is just a visceral hatred that permeates the debate. In another time, it could be said that this is the stuff that revolutions are made of. It is a Jihad of sorts, American style. The real issues aren't being discussed. The only things that count are winning and subjugating opponents. The merit or veracity of any argument is irrelevant- if the origin is ‘the other side,‘ it is to be discarded and treated as if it were toxic. There is no mercy for the dissenters and no room for compromise.'
The Democrats have paid the price for that attitude. Thankfully, it appears as if they are reconsidering that ideology.
We will have more to say, later.
Dr Sanity has a real bell ringer, Getting Down With The Sickness.
Her observations and conclusions of the 'reality based community' are clear:
Something very troubling is going on inside their psyches--something that they wish to avoid seeing at all costs; because if it were to come into their mental focus; and if their brains were to process it--it would turn their world upside down.
Many of them truly believe they are looking at reality -- that's why they seriously refer to themselves as the "reality-based community". This is the same sort of phenomenon as the famous "I am not a crook" type of statement. If you have to keep asserting something like that, it is often the case that you probably are a crook. Likewise, if you have to keep mentioning that you are "reality-based", it becomes more and more certain that --whatever you may be, reality has little to do with it.
Instead of reality, the left is looking at is a figment of their imagination; an expression of their deepest desires; a deep, dark secret that must be kept from their own awareness.
In fact, Dr Sanity offers up an explanation of what 'He doth protesteth too much' really means.
Psychological spotlights and literary insight. It doesn't get any better than that.
She points out the chronic inconsistencies of the left- inconsistencies that are deadly.Read it all and draw your own conclusions.
Today will be remembered as turning point in the Middle East. Today will be remembered as the day the freely elected Palestinian government told the truth- a rarely seen and even more rarely heard, reality.
A Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, declared the real nature of the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Hamdan, who is close to Hamas' top leadership, insisted that the case of the Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit who Palestinian militants are holding and the Hamas politicians were different.
"He's an Israeli soldier, a prisoner of war, taken in a battle and falls under a legal category," Hamdan said of Shalit. "What happened yesterday were hostage-takings and acts of terrorism."
Finally- an admission that the Palestinians are engaged in an actual war. There is quite a difference between resisting a so called occupation (the most benign occupation in history), and war.
The Palestinian admission of a state of war absolves Israel of many of the obligations and responsibilities she has taken upon herself. Israel is not required to maintain or manage electricity to the Palestinians (electrical infrastructure Israel built), maintain and operate sanitation services (services and infrastructure Israel built) or even maintain allow for the continued transfer of Palestinian goods. The Israelis are in no way obligated to assist in any way, shape or form those who have declared war upon them.
The Israelis are not obligated to negotiate with an entity that refuses to recognize them and they are certainly not obligated to negotiate with a regime that acknowledges their intent to destroy them. The Israelis- and the civilized world, will not allow history to repeat itself. There will not be another 40 years of corruption and deceit that only served to bury the Palestinian people. There will not be a repeat of decades of Arafat typedictatorship that enriched a few, impoverished the many and denied peace to the region.
For the Palestinians, some of this is good news. In the past, billions of dollars that were earmarked for aid, was stolen by a corrupt leadership and shared with a few supporters with now fat Swiss bank accounts. Now, some of that money will have to be spent on an infrastructure for the Palestinians.
That is a good thing. The Palestinians will value far more what they build for themselves than they value what the Israelis have given them. There is a greater incentive to preserve those things that that are the foundation of civilized life is better understood when they are home grown. Peace becomes a more valuable commodity than conflict.
The Israelis are under no moral obligation to listen to the Arab world, that smorgasbord of dysfunction and tyranny. They too, for the most part, refuse to recognize Israel's existence and they too, have become synonymous and representative of bigotry, hate and racism. Those regimes are a long way from moral equality with the civilized world.
It is in fact humorous to note that those who scream 'ethnic cleaning' and 'genocide' the loudest when referring to Israel, are usually those regimes with long and storied experience incommitting ethnic cleaning or genocide themselves.
Sadly, the Palestinians will once more pay the price for a war that in the end, will only enrich those few 'leaders,' as money and aid will be stolen by a corrupt few. The result of that 'business as usual will leave the Palestinians will be even worse off than they already were.
The Palestinians, under Arafat, were not to see peace and their own state. The Palestinians, under Arafat, were led into an intifadah, that in the end, resulted in failure and economic ruin. The Palestinians, under Oslo, were given self rule- and that only exacerbated the corruption and resulted in an even lower standard of living for the Palestinians. Under Oslo, the Palestinians were offered almost everything they asked for- and they rejected that out of hand. Why? Because that would mean Arafat, et al, would actually have to provide government and services- and that would make them accountable, an intolerable notion for that den of thieves.
The election of Hamas was reminiscent of a banner flown over a decrepit, fleabag motel- 'Now Under New Management'- as if that might make the filth and sewage of Arab corruption, deceit, bigotry and racism more tolerable.
Well, here's the war the Palestinians and Arabs have been demanding.
Sometimes, war can be a good thing. Maybe when it is over, a new and more responsible Palestinian leadership will emerge, one that actually gives a damn about the Palestinians. In an ideal world, a new Palestinian leadership will reject the influences of dysfunctional Arab regimes, that benefit from conflict because it keeps their citizens rage focused outward, away from their own misdeeds and despotism.
"I will lift mine eyes up to the hills; from whence shall come my help?"
A while back, I remarked to a friend that someday, I would write about the day grandfather taught me about prayer. Well, today is that day.
The meaning of those poetic words of anguish, written by David, the Psalmist, were explained to me when I was young man, by my beloved grandfather, an extraordinary man. I have written about him once before, and noted the influence he had on my life.
From time to time, he and I would drive to the East End. In what was to become a ritual and preamble to out talks, we made our way to where he grew up. He would laugh and remember the games he played as a young boy- tippit, red rover and johnny on the pony. He would recount his most daring and dashing exploits of his youth, pointing out the landmarks and alleyways that were his youthful domain and Nottingham Forest. His eyes shone with the clarity and fire of the 10 year old gallant knight he was, as he recounted those stories.
After we had walked through the neighborhood that was his childhood kingdom, we headed toward a small local park and sat on a park bench- always the same park bench, and engaged in conversation. For many years I did not know that was the same bench that he and his father shared on many occasions, many years earlier.
One year, on cold autumn day, my grandfather called and asked if I wanted to 'head east,' as he would say. I was delighted, of course, because more often than not, I was the one who called him, asking for a few hours. Our time together fortified and grounded me- and he knew it.
We reminisced about our times together, years earlier, and how much the world- and I- had changed. He wasn't really reflective. Rather, he was expressing his own reality. He recalled the neighborhood ice man, 'consumption' and computers and cellphones. He had lived through times of miracles, he said. They really were miracles, he emphasized.
He wanted to talk about miracles.
The miracles he had seen in his life, he said, had robbed people of the ability to pray. He went on to say that he feared that the miracles I will see in my life will rob me of the need to pray.
"I will lift mine eyes up to the hills; from whence shall come my help?" "Why," my grandfather asked, "did the Psalmist refer to our eyes and not out hearts, as we reached out to God? Surely God wants us to see with our hearts!"
He didn't wait for an answer.
He went on to say that the Psalmist, in his own time, recognized that in our hubris, mankind had come to believe that we could manage our own destiny. That idea was to blind us and limit our vision. There is a difference between managing our lives, as we are supposed to do, and attempting to do things and to believe that what is in the purview of God. Those things cannot be appropriated by us.
The 'miracles' that have become a part of our daily lives are miracles we can see and touch. In fact, there are so many miracles, that we might come to believe that only miracles that we can see and touch are truly valid and real miracles. We forget that sometimes, the miracles can and do extend that which we can see and touch. Those are the miracles of our destinies, that remain within God's purview.
In every hospital on earth, there are machines that keep and sustain life. That may seem like a miracle, but in fact, more often than not, the real miracle is what is done with that saved life. A life that might have been lost can go on to do great things and influence untold generations. That is the real miracle.
We are meant to 'Lift up our eyes' so that we may lift up our hearts. We will see the miracles our times have to offer, but through prayer, we can come to see the richness of miracles God has to offer.
"My help will come from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth."
We are reminded that God created those things we can see and touch. Our salvation, help and even inner peace, those things so ethereal and undefinable, are within the purview of God- and those are things we need to pray for.
There are some doctors who believe they can do God's work. There are other doctors that quietly thank God for the help and miracles He has shared with them. Ask Dr Sanity or Shrinkwrapped to reflect on what it means when they see a patient finally open the door to new possibilities.
It isn't only obstetricians that witness the miracle of new life.
On that day and on that park bench, a self assured and invincible 20 something learned about prayer and miracles.
My grandfathers mother died of an infection in her late 40's. She left a husband and 5 children. Antibiotics were readily available within a few years after her death. A number of years later, in that park and seated on that park bench, my grandfather told me of a conversation he had with his father. He asked his father if he were bitter- that a few shillings worth of antibiotics would have saved the love of his life and the mother of his children.
"Oh, no!" was the reply- "I can't think of that. I won't think of that. I think of all those that will be saved with this modern miracle!"
That was the day, my grandfather told me, that he saw his father for the man he was, for the very first time. "It was a miracle," my grandfather said."The prayers for my father worked."
I would give all my worldly possessions to polish one more pair of shoes with that man.
The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine just won't play ball.
The United States is very close to adopting an international agreement that would ration the use of energy and of technologies that depend upon coal, oil, and natural gas and some other organic compounds.
This treaty is, in our opinion, based upon flawed ideas. Research data on climate change do not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful. To the contrary, there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful.
Imagine that- the only credentials of the SOB who thinks he knows more than Al 'room service' Gore, are that of Past President of National Academy of Sciences and
President Emeritus of Rockefeller University.
See this for the real cost of pseudo environmentalism.
The Anchoress, in Yes, Global Warming Is Hoo Hah, minces no word. Her post is replete with logical conclusions, rational thinking and other, more credible, voices. She finds it hard to take the manufactured and crafted hysteria seriously:
The Global Warming Hysteria Movement, complete with Media overhype, is not real. The proof is in the politics of it. It is a means to an end. To what end, I’m not sure.
Far be it from us to to tell our readers what that end might be.
I'd say that if I'm a moron, I'm an opinionated moron. At least I'm in good company...
Fausta goes on to highlight a Wikipedia entry that is clearly designed to be a political statement as opposed to being a more factually correct entry:
As you can clearly read from his own words, Dr. Lindzen contradicts Wikipedia's assertion that "There are no longer any such scientists who contend that the Earth is not warming"; Wikipedia even lists Dr. Lindzen among the scientists supporting the Wikipedia assertion, when he clearly doesn't. What Lindzen is saying is that (pay attention now, because I'm going to repeat it)global mean temperatures have increased on the order of one degree Farenheit over the past century
and they have decreased or remained flat over the last 60 years.
Clearly, the Wiki folks graduated from the same school as Dan Rather. 'Facts? Who Needs Stinkin' Facts?'
The Heartland Institute published some more food for thought. Eight Reasons Why Global Warming Is A Scam, is an interesting read. Here are few search results from their site. In particular, Time's Climate Change Issue Rife with Deception is anintersting look at just how agendized science has become. It's a must read, in fact.
Now that The Economist published The Truth About The Environment and acknowledged that he actually lost the 2000 vote in Florida, we can safely say Al Gore will cancel his subscription to that magazine. There's only so much reality he can take.
...Human activity is thus defiling the earth, and humanity may end up killing itself in the process.
The trouble is, the evidence does not back up this litany. First, energy and other natural resources have become more abundant, not less so since the Club of Rome published “The Limits to Growth” in 1972. Second, more food is now produced per head of the world's population than at any time in history. Fewer people are starving. Third, although species are indeed becoming extinct, only about 0.7% of them are expected to disappear in the next 50 years, not 25-50%, as has so often been predicted. And finally, most forms of environmental pollution either appear to have been exaggerated, or are transient—associated with the early phases of industrialisation and therefore best cured not by restricting economic growth, but by accelerating it. One form of pollution—the release of greenhouse gases that causes global warming—does appear to be a long-term phenomenon, but its total impact is unlikely to pose a devastating problem for the future of humanity. A bigger problem may well turn out to be an inappropriate response to it.
One is the lopsidedness built into scientific research. Scientific funding goes mainly to areas with many problems. That may be wise policy, but it will also create an impression that many more potential problems exist than is the case.
Secondly, environmental groups need to be noticed by the mass media. They also need to keep the money rolling in. Understandably, perhaps, they sometimes exaggerate. In 1997, for example, the Worldwide Fund for Nature issued a press release entitled, “Two-thirds of the world's forests lost forever”. The truth turns out to be nearer 20%.
Read the article, here. When your done, ask yourself if you think Al Gore has any business running for President- or even dog catcher.
Much is being made of the Hamas-Fatah agreements, which supposedly gives 'implicit' recognition to Israel by Hamas. The Israeli incursion into Gaza in response to continued Palestinian rocket attacks, violence and kidnappings, has prompted much of the frenzy in pointing to the 'breakhrough' of an 'implicit' recognition of Israel by the Hamas regime in the Palestinian territories.
(Hamas made quite clear that recognition of Israel, 'implicit' or otherwise, was not in the cards. Naturally, Al Jazzerah did it's part in clarifiying for it's readers that not only was recognition of Israel not on the Hamas agenda, the call for the destruction of Israel was still a sacred Hamas goal)
Such pronouncements, declaring 'implicit' recognition of Israel, are meant to persuade and reinforce the idea that the Arab world can employ whole other set of standards than the the civilized world. With a straight face, Palestinians are asking us to believe that this 'implicit' recognition of Israel is a diplomatic breakthrough.
In fact, the Palestinians 'implictly' recognize Israel every time they turn on a light, flush a toilet, go to school or seek medical attention. If it weeren't for the post 1967 war occupation (a war started by the Arab world), none of those facilities would exist. Both the West Bank and Gaza were hellholes under Jordanian and Egyptian rule. Virtually all the infrastructure now in place was put there by the Israelis. See this.
The civilized world deals with 'explicit' treaties and diplomatic relations. You either recognize other nations and agreements, or you don't. Those are realities. In the dysfunctional, Arab world, reality is a dreaded disease, like leprosy- a horror that must be avoided at all costs. Acceptance of reality as a basis of comparison or measurement is a thought that horrifies the Arab world. Dealing with and accepting reality is tantamount to dealing with and accepting resposibility and accountability, ideas that are anathema to Arab populations that have been abused, berated and beaten into dysfunction by some of the worst tyrannical regimes in human history.
As a result, these dysfunctional regimes have come to redefine reality in a way that serves their needs (the most important of which is directing attention and rage outward, away from their own tyranny and evil). As a result, we see the abuse and misuse of a religion in a calculated effort to realign that religion to serve the needs of a few evil men. It is an effort that is succeeding, largely because of the backwardness of a people, and their willing, desperate search for an escape from their dark medieval prisons.
The Arab world, under these tyrannical regimes, have come to believe that they are so 'special,' and rightious (by virtue of an imagined victimization at the hands of free nations) that they are exempt from reality. Arab economies, Arab levels of education and the violent expression of religion have become monuments and legacies to centuries of failure.
There are no moral ambiguities in much of that Arab world- nor is there any question as to the level of dysfunction. Saddam Hussein, his sons Uday and Qusay, were responsible for the death and rape of hundreds of thousands. Nevertheless, they are publicly (if not privately) hailed as Islamic heroes. A Palestinian who makes an effort to stop the deaths of innocents is a traitor and may be subject to summary execution.
Since the Fatah-Hamas 'truce,' began, over 1,000 rockets have been fired into Israel.
The good news is that Hamas 'implicitly' recognizes Israel. Now, the Israelis will 'implicitly' recognize the authority of the Hamas government and hold it accountable for it's actions and inactions.
Why is the US Senate wasting time concerning itself with an unnecessary flag desecration amendment to the constitution?
Those in favor of the amendment have a point. Arlen Spector said
...flag burning should not be considered speech protected by the First Amendment, but an action "designed to antagonize, designed to hurt," not "designed to persuade."
Patrick Leahy of Vermont, also has a point
"We should have confidence our institutions are stronger than a bunch of hooligans," Mr. Leahy said. "Do not cut back on the First Amendment and our Bill of Rights for the first time in history."
Whatever one's position might be, common sense dictates that Iraq, Iran, Darfur, North Korea , the UN, healthcare and other domestic issues should be on the minds of lawmakers.
The issue does not cut strictly along party lines. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, supports the amendment, while Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, opposes it.
The showdown between Israel and the Palestinians is coming to TV soon.
It would be nice if the participants wore white or black hats, so that we might distinguish the good guys from the bad guys, but that isn't the case. Not that we really need white hats or black hats- clearly, we know who the players are. Centuries of social, cultural and the abuse of religious doctrine have made that clear. Americans, however, are a religious lot. We actually believe that each day brings the opportunity for the miracle of redefinition- that is, each day, we believe it is possible for the leopard to change it's spots. If we pray hard enough, or hold hands, or just close our eyes and click our heels three times, the Arab world, led by regimes that are a smorgasbord of dysfunction and detachment from reality, will change.
We are encouraged by the 'reasonable' and rational talk that emanates from that part of the world. Americans, we are told, are in no position to discuss the morality of right and wrong. Our hands we are told, are not clean- in fact, we are no different than the Arab world, really. Americans are admonished (always respectfully, of course), that we were once slave holders- and that alone nullifies our moral superiority. Even worse, we are forced to concede that we our treatment of the native Americans was terrible.
Of course, the Arab world doesn't want to face facts. For example, slavery was a perfectly acceptable practice in Saudi Arabia until 1962- almost 100 years after slavery ended. That's right- the Guardians of the Faith, had no problem with slavery for almost 100 years after it was abolished there (Filipino women, employed as domestic help are still routinely imprisoned and abused). In addition, slavery was a part of life for a whole lot longer in that part of the world- millennia, in fact. The slave trade lives on in Mauritania and Sudan and slaves can still be found throughout the Gulf region.
It is also true that virtually every nation came about as the result of conflict. Almost every one. While we may have had our own shameful periods in history, they were not as profound or long lasting as those of our critics. We are not the same.
Part of what distinguishes the Judeo-Christian civilization from other cultures and societies lies in how we choose to relate to each other and how we believe a nation ought to be structured.
Let's examine that. The Arab world does not ask/demand that they be measured by how they relate to each other or they relate to the rest of the world. They demand that they be accorded respect and credibility predicated on their position on injustices, real or otherwise. In other words, they cannot be held accountable for any failures because they (claim/appear to) support Islamic and/or Palestinian causes.
The treatment of women, the violence against religious expression that is perceived to be 'insulting' and a myriad of other problems can remain ignored as long as those dysfunctions are wrapped in an Islamic or pro Palestinian blanket. Throw in rabid anti Semitism and the behavior will be blessed by a clerical class bought and paid for by totalitarian and tyrannical regimes.
The leadership of an entire culture and society have chosen to engage in horiffic, outrageous, bigoted and murderous behavior- and then they insist that really are no different than we are.
In fact, there is even an elitism to the hate: Who is the most anti American and anti Semitic, or who are the most violent pro Palestinians. All the while, there are no equivalent passions against 'honor killings' or FGM, for example. There are no great passions that have ignited legions of activists to improve Arab education levels, among the lowest in the world.
Ever hopeful, we wake up every morning that things have changed.
Within this paradox of mixed up values, virtually all of the Arab world attempts to portray themselves as champions of equality and morality. Of course, the Arab world also sees itself as more equal and more worthy in this world of equal morality and equality. It is this that separates the Arab- and much, but not all- of the Islamic world from their western counterparts.
Simply put, for all the cultural and societal differences in democratic states, it clear that there are also remarkable similarities. Democratic states behave essentially in the same ways. In fact, when the institutions that make up the foundations for democratic states are examined, they arevirtually carbon copies of each other.
Countries, groups and cultures can differ greatly. Scandanavian societies are very different from Mediterranean societies. Art, artchitecture and literature, for example, vary greatly because life and cultures differ. It is not hard to understand the history of animus and wars- each group can be very different, indeed. The different cultures and societies would inevitably find themselves in conflict with each other.
Notwithstanding those truths, our cultures and accepted a 'soullular' truth: Despite our differences, civilized mankind needs and even hungers for stability and peace. Civilized societies understand that our best efforts can result in a state of universal harmony- despite our differences. A civilized society understands that it's own imprimatur need not be forced on others.
Peace is not the obliteration of the distinctions between nations and man. Nor is peace an expression of 'separate but equal.' Peace is the undertanding that in acceptance of each other, we learn to share certain traits and we also allow for differences to be expressed.
Peace is never achieved. It is always a work in progress and should not be taken for granted. The 'war to end all wars' serves as a reminder that peace is not defined with the laying down of weapons or by treaties signed.
Peace in the Middle East not come about as the result of a peace treaty or as a by product of arms control. Peace will come about when the Palestinians accept the reality of Israel's reality- and learn that their own morality is no better than that of anyone else. They must learn that they have not earned the right, by virtue of their behavior, to be considered as moral equals to the Israelis. Now, that is not to say the Palestinians cannot pursue an agenda that serves their needs. Those needs cannot be expected to match those of Israel, an industrialized and developed state, with a history of democratic institutions.
The needs of the Palestinians and Arab world differ from the needs of Israel and the western world. There is no 'one size fits all,' anymore than there are symphonies with identical notes, poems with identical rythms, or identical landscapes, painted in with the same colors.
It is real peace that allows for different cultural expressions and needs to flourish. It is real peace that encourages those different expressions, so that all may learn and adapt and adopt from those expressions. Peace in the Middle East,is comprised of three elements: The Palestinians, the Israelis and thecommitment to a kind of peace that allows each society and culture to flourish.
The 'cold peace,' the 'separate but equal' kind of peace, is an illusion, because it lack the comittment that real growth needs. Relationships of all kinds are not predicated on shared interests, but rather on shared values. Interests will change over time- they always do. Real peace is not about a temporary shared interests. Real peace is about shared values, those things that are not temporal and those things that grow and refine with age.
These are lessons the Palestinians and the Arab world have yet to learn. You can't put on a white hat and pretend to play the 'good guy.'
You have to behave like the good guy.
Sad news to report- Ward Churchill is (finally) getting canned. The Pirate Ballerina has it all.
With his dismissal, the University of Colorada will see reduced media coverage.
If and when the Duke lacrosse rape scandal goes away (and it will), the university's only claim to fame will be the football rape scandal.
Unconfirmed rumor has it that UC Boulder will begin to focus on academics. That's the rumor, anyway.
There's a silver lining...
There may be a whole new avenue of therapy opening up for therapists.
MADRID — A year after legalising gay marriages, comes Spain's first gay divorce, complete with a custody fight over the couple's dogs, it was reported on Monday.
The Spanish daily El Mundo reported the claimant was asking for the right to stay in the marital home and to take custody of their pets.
The suit added that his ex-partner would be granted visiting rights to see the animals.
Council officials said divorce proceedings were private and would only confirm that the unnamed men were married in a Madrid suburb last October, three months after Spain became the fourth country to legalise same-sex marriages.
The claimant said in a petition that he had dedicated his life to the relationship, giving up a modelling career and abandoning his dog hairdressing business to follow his partner who had found work in France.
Some 1,300 gay weddings have now taken place in Spain.
The same-sex marriage legislation gives gays and lesbian couples the same status as heterosexual ones, including inheritance rights and adoption.
The new law provoked opposition from hundreds of thousands last year in mass protests on the streets of Madrid.
Meanwhile a steep rise in divorces has increased yet further since a new divorce law was introduced last year.
In 2005, 150 000 marriages were dissolved, compared to 83,000 in 1995.
CULT LEADER Britain’s Prince Philip has for at least 30 years accommodated a tribe of 400 “cargo cult” people on the South Sea island of Tanna, who revere him as the human face of an ancestral spirit, according to June revelations by London’s Daily Mail. Both sides have been discreet, but the prince has acquiesced by sending the tribe signed photographs, including one in which he is holding the traditional war club (even though a totally authentic pose would require that the prince hold it while naked). Cargo cults are so named because, lore has it, an ancient god forecast that one day, wealth would fall from the sky, and then, during World War II, it did, in the form of parachuted-in supplies for American troops who used the islands as staging areas.
Compelling Explanations An Iowa tribunal turned down Chris T. Coppinger’s demand for unemployment benefits in May, following his firing from a charitable fund-raising company in Davenport for various alleged indiscretions. Among the company’s charges was that Coppinger had had sex on top of his desk with a co-worker, but Coppinger argued that that should not be a terminating offense, since many other company employees had had sex on his desk, too.
• Never give up: Ronald Blankenship, a shoe repairman in Birmingham, Ala., finished second in June’s Democratic primary for sheriff and was placed in a run-off, when the Birmingham News discovered details of an apparently shady past: faking his death in connection with an insurance policy, assault and passing bad checks. Blankenship’s defense, a week later: It must be another Ronald Blankenship (even though “both” men have the same middle name and birth date and coincidentally are married to women with the same first, middle and maiden names).
• Honesty is the best policy? 1) Jonifer Jackson, 20, was arrested in Clarksville, Tenn., in April and charged with reckless endangerment for firing a 9 mm pistol while street-preaching (because, he told police, it was the only way he could get people to listen to him). 2) Phillip Daniels, 42, was arrested in Dallas in April, as the one who had set off five explosives in the previous two weeks (which he told Dallas’ KXAS-TV were done just because he likes the sounds). 3) Yasuhisa Matsushita, 25, was arrested in Iwata, Japan, in March as the man who stole a high school girl’s swimsuit, put it on, and pranced around in it while relieving himself because, he told police, “It felt so good.”
The Latest American Right In the course of an April ruling that the New York City school system had gone too far by firing Toquir Choudhri for poor work habits, administrative law judge John Spooner declared that city workers have a “right” to surf the Internet for personal use while at work. Choudhri was expecting reinstatement, but two weeks later Chancellor Joel Klein fired him anyway, citing poor work habits beyond his Web-surfing. (Choudhri was unavailable for comment, in that he was suspected of being on leave in a country on whose tourist Web sites he had been lingering.)
Ironies In May, in the midst of the Ford Motor Co.’s “Red, White & Bold,” buy-American ad campaign touting its classic Mustangs, the research firm CSM Worldwide (using statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation) revealed that 35 percent of the 2006 Mustang’s content came from overseas, and in fact, that five Honda models and seven Toyota models contained more U.S. content than the Mustang, including Toyota’s Sienna minivan, which used 90 percent American-made content.
• More ironies: 1) The May 10 tornado that hit Highland County, Ohio, touched down in the town of Hillsboro, along Wizard of Oz Drive. 2) In April, The Washington Post, covering outdoor press conferences by Capitol Hill legislators to decry the then-recent bump in gasoline prices, reported that the vehicle of choice for most of them returning to offices only a few blocks away was a gas-guzzling SUV, and in fact that several senators hopped into idling SUVs even to travel across the street from the Capitol to their offices.
Cliches Come to Life 1) The Chicago Sun-Times reported in May that at least six homeless substance addicts had claimed that someone had paid them $5 each to vote for certain candidates in a recent Chicago school board election (but that a schools spokesman, after consulting the rules, said vote-buying in Chicago school board elections might not even be illegal). 2) London’s Guardian reported in April that access to British dentists is becoming so difficult that in a recent week, 6,000 do-it-yourself crown-and-cap replacement kits had been sold to consumers.
Creme de la Weird In May, a judge in Reno, Nev., sentenced Raymond Russell George, 58, to five consecutive life sentences for molesting three young girls over a two-year period, but George said he welcomes the prison time because it will give him a chance to use his comprehensive knowledge of the Bible to help inmates find Jesus. George is notorious also for his dreadful inattention to hygiene, which he said is necessary to keep fellow prisoners (his potential congregants) from getting too close to him. (Otherwise, he said, they “flick boogers at me and fart in my face.”)
Least Competent Criminals Flunking Finance 101: John Faux, 41, was arrested in Niagara Falls, N.Y., in April and charged with robbing a Key Bank branch of about $2,000; Faux had complained to the teller that he had clearly demanded not $2,000, but “$100 million,” and the two were still arguing when the police arrived. And Tekle Zigetta, 45, pleaded guilty in Los Angeles in March to trying to smuggle $250 billion into the country (which Customs agents discovered, in the form of 250 bills of the denomination of $1 billion, bearing a picture of President Grover Cleveland)
If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist;
If God talks to you, you are a schizophrenic."
--Thomas S. Szasz, The Second Sin,
Anchor/Doubleday, Garden City, NY. 1973, Page 113.
See this speech, by Dr Jeffrey Schaler. Controversial- and lots of food for thought.
If you are wandering the foothills of the Himalayas for 15 hours a day, you may very well be called a holy man in India. Take that same person, have him walk across the grounds of the Washington Monument in Washington DC, and he's diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic and he's comitted to a mental hospital.
What do you think psychiatrists would do if Jesus were alive today?....Bada bing, bada boom, right into a mental hospital, injected with drugs to stop their crazy beliefs and speech.
Psychiatrists today are the true Grand Inquisitors.
From the Discovery Channel, Oxford of the Hip Hop crowd.
Serious Study: Immaturity Levels Rising
The adage "like a kid at heart" may be truer than we think, since new research is showing that grown-ups are more immature than ever.
Specifically, it seems a growing number of people are retaining the behaviors and attitudes associated with youth.
As a consequence, many older people simply never achieve mental adulthood, according to a leading expert on evolutionary psychiatry.
Among scientists, the phenomenon is called psychological neoteny.
The theory’s creator is Bruce Charlton, a professor in the School of Biology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. He also serves as the editor-in-chief of Medical Hypotheses, which will feature a paper outlining his theory in an upcoming issue.
Charlton explained to Discovery News that humans have an inherent attraction to physical youth, since it can be a sign of fertility, health and vitality. In the mid-20th century, however, another force kicked in, due to increasing need for individuals to change jobs, learn new skills, move to new places and make new friends.
A “child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviors and knowledge” is probably adaptive to the increased instability of the modern world, Charlton believes. Formal education now extends well past physical maturity, leaving students with minds that are, he said, “unfinished.”
“The psychological neoteny effect of formal education is an accidental by-product — the main role of education is to increase general, abstract intelligence and prepare for economic activity,” he explained.
“But formal education requires a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility."
"When formal education continues into the early twenties," he continued, "it probably, to an extent, counteracts the attainment of psychological maturity, which would otherwise occur at about this age.”
Charlton pointed out that past cultures often marked the advent of adulthood with initiation ceremonies.
While the human mind responds to new information over the course of any individual’s lifetime, Charlton argues that past physical environments were more stable and allowed for a state of psychological maturity. In hunter-gatherer societies, that maturity was probably achieved during a person’s late teens or early twenties, he said.
“By contrast, many modern adults fail to attain this maturity, and such failure is common and indeed characteristic of highly educated and, on the whole, effective and socially valuable people," he said.
"People such as academics, teachers, scientists and many other professionals are often strikingly immature outside of their strictly specialist competence in the sense of being unpredictable, unbalanced in priorities, and tending to overreact.”
Charlton added that since modern cultures now favor cognitive flexibility, “immature” people tend to thrive and succeed, and have set the tone not only for contemporary life, but also for the future, when it is possible our genes may even change as a result of the psychological shift.
The faults of youth are retained along with the virtues, he believes. These include short attention span, sensation and novelty-seeking, short cycles of arbitrary fashion and a sense of cultural shallowness.
At least “youthfulness is no longer restricted to youth,” he said, due to overall improvements in food and healthcare, along with cosmetic technologies.
David Brooks, a social commentator and an op-ed columnist at The New York Times, has documented a somewhat related phenomenon concerning the current blurring of “the bourgeois world of capitalism and the bohemian counterculture,” which Charlton believes is a version of psychological neoteny.
Brooks believes such individuals have lost the wisdom and maturity of their bourgeois predecessors due to more emphasis placed on expertise, flexibility and vitality.
Well deserved H/T to Mamacita, for highlighting yet another signpost along the highway of cultural mediocrity.