Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sometimes You are Just Screwed

In case you weren't depressed enough, Juan Cole would like to educate you on the current situation in Iraq.


Thou shall not murder

We’ve a little side discussion going with our Conservative friend, Free Agency Rules, about murder and self defense, and I would like to open the discussion up a bit.

Conservatives, especially Christian Conservatives like to use the term “Culture of Life” and use that term to support their opposition to abortion, birth control, assisted suicide, keeping Terry Schiavo on life support etc. People who are not Christian Conservatives like to point out some of the inconsistencies in their general positions relative to the death penalty, support for aid to poor people, support for aid to the starving or sick (e.g. AIDS in Africa) people around the world, the general culture of militarism in this country, etc.

Being unencumbered by religious doctrine of any kind, but having been raised a Christian with a Christian ethos along with a Democrat’s pathos, I definitely have sympathy for those who are truly Pro-Life. The Quakers and Mother Teresa types are consistent in their expressed views and actions. On the other hand, I am not one of those people. I know that evil exists in the world. I have no problem sending a truly evil person to their death, given that I knew for sure that person was evil and had committed evil acts.

One of the new “Talking Points” that I have noticed Religious Conservatives resorting to recently is in reference to the Fifth Commandment, which occurs in most bibles I have ever seen as “Thou shall not kill”. Well apparently the new translation of that commandment is “You shall not murder” which is OK by me because I never thought it meant anything different. I never heard anyone who thought it referring to a cow or a carrot.

Ultimately the question is, what do you mean by murder. If a government sanctions the killing, as in war, is this or is this not murder? Tell me what is the difference between the two situations – You are an Israeli pilot in a war and you are told to drop a nuke on Tehran. You know it will kill everybody in the city indiscriminately – every man, woman, child, cow, and carrot. How is that different than if you are a foot soldier, fighting house to house in the same city and your orders are to individually kill every man, woman, and child you come into contact with, and you know that your accompanying army of 50,000 soldiers has been told to do the same thing as you?

Is bayoneting a baby in the context of a military action murder before the eyes of the Christian God? If it is, why would dropping a nuke, which has the same effect, not be murder?

This question of murder or not murder is a slippery slope. Many, many, many crimes and killings (murders) have been committed with the justification that the killing is not only just before the eyes of God, but was actually sanctioned by God (think Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, etc.) And of course, Christians have had no monopoly on killing for God. As we all know, Osama Bin Laden kills for God also.

Murder, which has a legal definition, will always be defined by those who hold the reins of power. If a king killed a peasant it isn’t murder. When Hitler killed six million Jews that wasn’t murder to him. It was justified killing of a group of humans he personally thought shouldn’t exist. When US soldiers shoot up the car of an Iraqi family killing the whole family or kill and Italian Security Agent trying to get a released kidnap victim to the Baghdad airport that is not murder – only because the US Army is in power and protects its own. It is certainly murder to the victims and the victims loved ones.

That is the reason why I don’t understand this parsing of the word murder for in order to justify the right of our government to kill people. Let’s stop the murder. Let’s stop killing people as societal revenge for evil acts. Let’s stop killing people half way around the globe under the pretense that it makes our country safer. Let’s stop killing people as much as we can. Let’s also stop pretending that questions of ethics and morals are easy with clear right and wrong answers.


Idiotic Stem Cell Moment

Wednesday's Houston Chronicle brought us the touching story of Trey Jones and his parents, Tracy and JJ. Trey is a former "snowflake" , ie. he was once a frozen embryo. He is also not the couple's biological child, but was adopted with ten other frozen embryos because the Joneses had infertility problems. The Jones family flew to Washington D.C. to protest expanded stem cell research. As born-again Christians they believe that embryos are human beings from conception. They believe embryonic stem cell research is free to exist with private capital, but object to tax money paying for it.

This is so infuriatingly inconsistant. As I have stated in previous posts, if people believe that embryos are alive and have souls from the moment of conception, it is their right. But if so, then they need to accept all of the ramifications of this belief and be consistant in their actions before asking the country to take them seriously.

The creation of embryos for use in fertility treatment is a scientific manipulation of egg and sperm. As part of the process an excess number of embryos are created because the failure rate is high. Are these Christians willing to demand only one embryo be created and implanted at a time to ensure no excess embryos are created only to be discarded. No, like everyone else who desires a baby, they accept the need for a redundency of embryos, and besides, the unused ones are frozen, not destroyed, which is where the snowflake babies come from. But over half the frozen embryos do not survive the thawing process. How is this acceptable if each and every one has a soul? Christians no doubt say that when God blesses them in the old fashioned way there is no guarentee the embryo will survive, but these Christians should not be playing acceptable risk if they believe destroying any frozen embryos is a sin. They can not play the right in my case, wrong in yours game.

The statement that it is okay for research with private capital, but wrong with tax dollars is ludicris. Wrong is wrong. If you are going to stand against something on moral ground, take a stand, don't parse to make yourself look reasonable. Also, our country is not a theocracy, we are not bound by religious ideology. Tax dollars should be available for research that is how we choose to spend them, in support of the living. Moralizing about the unborn, especially when it is done inconsistantly hurts everyone. Just ask the Reagans.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

My Enemy's Enemy

Robert Novak wants the country to know what a dangerous man Howard Dean is. He's a ranting, intemperate madman who has taken control of the lunatic asylum that is the DNC and is scaring away contributors so fast he has the Congressional party leadership in a panic to stop him. Thank you Robert Novak, or can I call you Bob. Now that you are my new best friend and are being so kind as to look after my interests, I can sleep peacefully tonight knowing you've got bad Howie in your sights.

Call ME crazy, but when Republican or obviously right-leaning political columnists start giving helpful advice to the Democratic Party, I start thinking fox in the henhouse. First off, the media doesn't really like Howard Dean. He was the first candidate in a national election to start his campaign by taking it to the internet. Those of us in the blogosphere now feel the animosity the MSM feels towards cyberspace. Imagine how those with a nose for news felt about this political upstart in 2003. How dare he!

The right certainly doesn't like Howard Dean. He is loud, brash and arrogant, something the Republicans only like in themselves. He has been right on all the issues he fought the administration over, like the invasion of Iraq, the deficit and Social Security. He didn't just drop out of sight after loosing in the primaries, the way most candidates do. He's a big angry thorn in their side and in their way at time when most Democrats are uncomfortably silent. How dare he!

Unfortunately, the Democratic Party leadership doesn't like him very much either. Besides all the reasons listed above., he came from no where into a party that expects candidates to pay their dues (which in a way he is trying to do now). He didn't support the invasion or war spending like the rest of them. He raised money and voters when most of them couldn't. He rubs party leaders the wrong way because he continues to speak out, raise issues and hackles while they are playing the quiet game. How dare he!

Back in 2003 Dean told the DLC that the party could not win the election running a Bush-lite candidate. He told them a large voter turnout would be the key and to do that you need someone to get the party going, someone like Howard Dean. Turns out he was right, but the Dems, the GOP and the MSM managed to get him out of the race before he had a chance to prove it. There is not much they can do about the media and the right, but the Democratic Party better get on the page when it comes to Dean. The 2006 elections are just around the corner and he may be their best chance to score some increases in Congress and state seats, if they let him.

You know if Novak is talking bad about him, he must be doing something right.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Playing With Your Food...and Other Things Your Mother Told You Would Make You Blind

I have wanted to use that title for a week and could not come up with a coherent post to follow such an auspicious beginning. Not that this one is worthy, I just gave up trying so hard.

I have a Howard Dean topic I really want to cover, but have not had time to do the necessary research (the time I put into these posts would astound you, not that you can tell the difference). So he must wait another day.

And if you haven't heard, the Senate reached an agreement on judicial nominees and the filibuster, but I'm not ready to weigh in on that one either. I need time to sort out my mixed feelings.

Have you heard the one about Daniel Okrent's final column as the NYTimes ombudsman. He titled it something like 13 Things I Intended to Write Stupid Made-up Stuff About But Didn't. In it he takes a last few unsubstantiated swipes at Paul Krugman again, just because he could. And I would just like to say I think Okrent is an asswipe, just because I can. God, that felt good, but it's not what I'm posting tonight either, just gratuitous snarking.

Like Okrent I have something I haven't written about, but in my case it has been deliberate. I'm a Christian. Bubba, my host at this site, hates Jesus. No, just kidding, he's mostly agnostic, but I have tried to be a good guest and not talk about religion much. Didn't our mothers tell us not to discuss religion or politics in polite conversation.

On Tom Tomorrow's site read the posts date May 19th, called Take Back Jesus and Onward Christian Soldiers. The first chastises Democratic Christians for allowing themselves to be marginalized by the conservative Christian right. How different would the last two elections have been if liberal Christians spoke out about their faith with the same passion and willingness that the fundamentalist do? Why don't we? Because our religion is one of compassion, openness & acceptance. We do not prostilitize or condemn those who believe differently. In our commitment not to judge, we have been judged, and been found wanting. By not casting the first stone, we have been stone into submission.

Onward Christian Soldiers tells the cautionary tale of allowing the conservative Christian right to continue on their present course, because it is the way of Totalatarianism and Fascism. Like Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany, when people are blinded by the utopian promises of the right, critics are silent for too long, and power, the ultimate aphrodisiac, becomes it own self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Pilgrims were a Christian minority in England and on the European continent. They came to the New World to live and worship in peace. Our Constitution was written be men who wanted this country to be free of the kind of omnipotent power so desired by the fundamentalist element in the GOP. People of faith whose religion and politics are both currently in the minority should carry on the work of the founding fathers and speak out about their beliefs and their fears for this country, before we are again forced to find a new place to call home.