Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Special Relationship Partner

They say that breakin' up ... is ... ha-ard to do. All I can say is, sometimes things that are hard to do are worth doing anyway. Sometimes, they're pretty much imperative:
We hear a lot about barbarism and backwardness and bloodthirstiness among the nations of the Middle East, where violent religious extremists are praised and supported -- and often hold state power. A lot of this is hype and misinformation, of course, but sometimes it's all too true. From the Guardian:
An Israeli army officer who fired the entire magazine of his automatic rifle into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl and then said he would have done the same even if she had been three years old was acquitted on all charges by a military court yesterday. ...

The soldier, who has only been identified as "Captain R", was charged with relatively minor offences for the killing of Iman al-Hams who was shot 17 times as she ventured near an Israeli army post near Rafah refugee camp in Gaza a year ago.

The manner of Iman's killing, and the revelation of a tape recording in which the captain is warned that she was just a child who was "scared to death", made the shooting one of the most controversial since the Palestinian intifada erupted five years ago even though hundreds of other children have also died.

... The military court cleared the soldier of illegal use of his weapon, conduct unbecoming an officer and perverting the course of justice by asking soldiers under his command to alter their accounts of the incident. ...

The army's official account said that Iman was shot for crossing into a security zone carrying her schoolbag which soldiers feared might contain a bomb. It is still not known why the girl ventured into the area but witnesses described her as at least 100 yards from the military post which was in any case well protected.

A recording of radio exchanges between Capt R and his troops obtained by Israeli television revealed that from the beginning soldiers identified Iman as a child.
In the recording, a soldier in a watchtower radioed a colleague in the army post's operations room and describes Iman as "a little girl" who was "scared to death". After soldiers first opened fire, she dropped her schoolbag which was then hit by several bullets establishing that it did not contain explosive. At that point she was no longer carrying the bag and, the tape revealed, was heading away from the army post when she was shot. ....

Palestinian witnesses said they saw the captain shoot Iman twice in the head, walk away, turn back and fire a stream of bullets into her body.

On the tape, Capt R then "clarifies" to the soldiers under his command why he killed Iman: "This is commander. Anything that's mobile, that moves in the [security] zone, even if it's a three-year-old, needs to be killed."

At no point did the Israeli troops come under attack.
Well, at least they didn't stone her, did they? After all, Israel is a "bastion of Western civilization" in the midst of all those swarthy savages, isn't it? I mean, can there possibly be a clearer expression of civilization -- especially its ultra-modern Western version -- than Captain R's Aristotelian formulation? It bears repeating -- nay, memorizing, searing deeply into the brain and heart -- for it is clearly the guiding principle of all our glorious terror-fighting democracies today, not only plucky little Israel but also its patron and paymaster, the United States (and the lackey Limeys who trot along at Washington's heels):
Anything that's mobile, that moves in the zone, even if it's a three-year-old, needs to be killed.

Even if it's a three-year-old.

Even if it -- this thing, this object, this Other, this creature, this piece of shit -- is a three-year-old.

Kill it. It needs to be killed. Kill it. You need to kill it. A three-year-old? Kill it. It needs to be killed.
Now that, my friends, is civilization.
Anyone else ready for a little breakup?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Glenn Beck's Gawd

The Weepy Mormon as theologian:
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck voiced sharper criticism of President Obama's religious beliefs on Sunday than he and other speakers offered from the podium of the rally Beck organized at the Lincoln Memorial a day earlier.

During an interview on "Fox News Sunday," which was filmed after Saturday's rally, Beck claimed that Obama "is a guy who understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor-and-victim."

"People aren't recognizing his version of Christianity," Beck added.
"His version of Christianity?" This, from an adherent of a treasure-digging cult? Look, I know and like some Mormon folks, and I don't want to unnecessarily hurt anyone's feelings ... but, come on, now. This is beyond irony. Mr. Beck needs to get the magic spectacles out of his own eyes, so he can see more clearly to help the O-bomber out with his theological difficulties -- which, to be sure, do seem fairly profound.

It occurs to me that both the Reclamation Rallies that happened in Mordor, DC this past weekend have a prominent religious defect in common: idolatry. Specifically, the worship of Saint Martin Luther King and that of Saint Abraham Lincoln. It's enough to gag a maggot, is all it is.

(Via IOZ.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, August 25

2 Corinthians, the balance of chapter 7 (starting from verse 2):
Make room for us in your hearts; we wronged no one, we corrupted no one, we took advantage of no one. I do not speak to condemn you; for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together. Great is my confidence in you, great is my boasting on your behalf; I am filled with comfort. I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction.

For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side; conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more. For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it -- for I see that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while -- I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you; what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you it was not for the sake of the offender, nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God. For this reason we have been comforted.

And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I was not put to shame; but as we spoke all things to you in truth, so also our boasting before Titus proved to be the truth. And his affection abounds all the more toward you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. I rejoice that in everything I have confidence in you.
" ... you are in our hearts to die together and to live together." A gratuitous picture of the order of things in Christianity: first we die, and only then do we live. How true that is, and on more than one level.

As Paul rejoices in his reconciliation with the Corinthians (in 1 Corinthians he was scolding pretty heavily), he -- or the Holy Spirit, through him -- also teaches generally about the consequences of wrongs, and about repentance. The teaching is summed up fairly completely in just one sentence: "For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death." When a person who intends well does wrong, and becomes aware of it, that person is made sorrowful. The sorrow of the guilty believer drives him to God in genuine repentance, and God uses that in His way to build up that believer; looking back at the entire process, the believer does not regret it, because God has brought a net good out of it. The unbeliever, though -- the "virtuous pagan," if you will -- is on his own. He is devastated, but not repentant, because repentance is a process not available to him; he lacks the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. At best, he may be moved to a grit-your-teeth, do-it-yourself Stoic self-improvement project; and when that project ends in failure, as it always does, what's left is depression. "The sorrow of the world produces death."

The Lord doesn't "help those who help themselves;" He helps those who ask Him, which in practice means those who can't help themselves, and know it. And that's a lesson I continue to learn, over and over again.

Click here for more Words for Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Something New to Read

For some years now, I've been a regular reader of Debbie Harbeson, represented in the blogroll by The Suburban Voluntaryist. Now she's undertaken a special project in blog form: Debbie and Carl, in which she promises a sort of episodic retrospective exegesis of Carl Watner's seminal site, The Voluntaryist. Yes, I do think that "voluntaryist" is rather an awkward term, but -- thanks to the worthless Libertarian Party -- "libertarian" is now just about as useless a term as "conservative." Anyway, Debbie and Carl has now been blogrolled, too. Join me in learning something worthwhile. After all, Mrs. Harbeson's doing all the work; we might as well benefit.

Of Course They'll Appeal

Murder, Inc. in action:
Washington (CNN) -- The Obama administration will appeal a federal judge's decision to temporarily block federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller confirmed Tuesday.

An appeal is expected to be filed later this week asking the court to lift the injunction ordered Monday, according to Miller.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth was a blow to the Obama administration, which last year issued guidelines to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
From Dr. Frankenstein's pseudomedical laboratory to the skies over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and God-knows-where-else, death is the Empire's prime product. Maybe they can come up with an allegedly useful medical product made out of dead Muslims. After all, public enthusiasm for America's War Against Islam™ is said to be flagging. At the same time, they could promote the idea that every "embryo" is a potential enemy combatant. See? Every coin has two sides, superficially different and fundamentally unified.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, August 18

2 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 14, through chapter 7, verse 1:
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
"I will dwell with them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord,
"And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to me,"
Says the Lord Almighty.
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
This passage seems to me to need a bit of thinking about. On the surface, it seems to say that Christians shouldn't have anything to do with non-Christians. That, I think, can't be a correct understanding, because it conflicts with a good deal of other New Testament scripture. Paul's repeated "or" clauses, which follow the injunction against being bound together with unbelievers, provide the needed clues: we're talking about incompatibilities on a very fundamental level. If I'm a pagan and you're a Christian, you can talk to me, do business with me, eat with me, love me, do good to me (definitely including sharing the Gospel with me!) ... but don't worship my false gods with me. I, a person made in the image of the living God, am not unclean (Acts 10:28); but my worship of false gods is unclean, and does defile your flesh and spirit.

Click here for more Words for Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Beat Goes On

The dirty Musselman plot to desecrate the only sacred spot in America, that is: the holy Ground 0. Since this is what we're all supposed to be up in arms about, ignoring the fact that we're being governed by an enormous criminal gang, why shouldn't I go along? I can offer a simple solution to this gut-wrenching conflict.

Let the star-and-crescent folks build their Islamic whatever-it-is on their lawful property, a few blocks from the spiritual center of American self-pity. Meanwhile, let all the real, red-blooded Americans build a pure expression of American faith and culture on the site itself. And what, you ask, would that be, especially since the glorious "Freedom Tower" seems to be going nowhere fast? Glad you asked. How about a NASCAR-themed multimedia sound stage containing a massage parlor, a topless Wal-mart, an all-NFL sports bar, and the Life Dynamics Worship Center set for a new reality show, "Your Best Life Now With Big Brother." It could be called something like, oh ... Citibank Presents the Support the Troops AmericaCenter.

After all, aren't we the greatest country in the world? A great, big, strong country doesn't go around trying to shut everyone else up. No, it's strong and confident and simply puts itself up for comparison, knowing that the marketplace will crown it the winner. Why, I bet, after a few months, that Moooos-lim whatever-it-is will be empty. All the jihadis'll be over at the Center, cruising the babes and celebrating American Freedom. Yay!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Getting in Touch With the People

I pretty much spent the last week helping people change their addresses. Part of my activities found me driving a U-Haul truck from the Philadelphia area to Indianapolis. The truck was equipped with a radio -- AM and FM, both! -- and nothing else, so I listened to a lot more radio than I usually do. This radio had a "seek" function, which was handy. At one point in west central Ohio, Mr. Seek gave me a Christian station. I didn't note the call letters, although I'm sure they were given more than once. On the station at the time was what sounded like a syndicated talk show. Again, I'm sure the host-talker must have given his name, or at least his stage name, incessantly, but I seem to have ignored that, too. Oh, well. What I did notice was how comprehensively he covered the bases. Whenever anything bad (defined as anything inconvenient to official U.S. interests) happens anywhere in the world, it's because of state-sponsored terrorism; and the primary state sponsor of terrorism is ... anyone want to guess? That's right, Iran. It's them Iranians, is the ones is doin' it, whatever "it" happens to be. And that Wikileaks guy, that Assange: well, you know, a fair trial, followed by a first-class hangin'. The Kenyan's a SOCIALIST (never mind that he administers the same corporate policies as his predecessor, and for that matter the same as anyone else who has ever been, or will ever be, within shouting distance of the famous Oval Office). Dubya was lots better, but still not all that good, since he failed to get Iran invaded on his watch. Not a reliable warmonger, you see.

In the hour-plus I spent listening to this fine Christian station, I didn't hear any presentation of the Gospel. Big surprise, huh?

And then this morning, while I'm doing my contact-lens installation, C-SPAN's on. It's the call-in segment, with some NBC political analyst as a guest. (Didn't get his name either, I'm afraid.) The general topic seems to be Whose Fault It All Is, with the "It" being the no-manufacturing U.S. economy. The People were calling in at a brisk rate. For the most part, it was as you'd expect: the red-jersey people blame the donkeys, and the blue-jersey folks the elephants. One guy was upset because the corporations get bailed out, but the Little People don't. It occurred to me that he has a point ... but whose fault is that? As long as the Little People are divertable by foreign wars, and governable by corporate tools, why would it be otherwise?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Word for Wednesday, August 4

And it actually is Wednesday, for a change. Will wonders never cease?

Continuing in 2 Corinthians, chapter 6, the first 13 verses:
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain -- for He says, "At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you"; behold, now is "the acceptable time," behold, now is "the day of salvation" -- giving no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known; as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
I pause here momentarily to call your attention to the fact that the preceding ten verses are a single sentence! Let's note here that, while all scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16), He apparently does not simply dictate it; Paul's style is certainly his own, to say the least! Now, to continue:
Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in a like exchange -- I speak as to children -- open wide to us also.
The apostle says that he is "commended to God" by a long list of things, both bad and good. The list includes many kinds of trials and abuses; but it ends in sources of ability, power, and inspiration. Is this not a picture of the Christian life in general? Seemingly contradictory opposites are made to work together for the accomplishment of the divine purpose. We don't know (yet) all of that purpose, and I daresay we know very little of how all that we experience in this earthly life are made by Him to work His will. But if we believe in His power and His goodness, we can have confidence that, at the end of our endurance, all will be very well indeed.

And that is good.

Click here for more Words for Wednesday.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Question for Fred

Lately I've suggested in this space, once or twice, that the official outrage over the Wikileaks enterprise seems to be due to our supervisors' determination that the un-photogenic details of Our Glorious Struggle Against Terrorism be kept secret from the American public. Fred Reed's current column makes the same claim -- which, I hasten to say, puts me in pretty good company. An excerpt:
In recent decades the military has almost achieved its wettest dream, the separation of wars from the American population. The fielding of a small volunteer army prevents the riots on campus that helped to end the adventure in Asia long ago. “Embedding” reporters with combat units pretty much prevents coverage that might upset people. The media for whatever reasons are now complicit, declining to air what really happens on the ground. All of this allows ghastly behavior, which is what wars always produce, to go forward with little opposition.

Ah, but leaks, YouTube, holes in the wall of silence—these pose real threats to the flow of contracts.

If you don’t think that contracts—money—have a great deal to do with wars, reflect that all those hundreds of billions of dollars end up in pockets, and those pockets do not belong to soldiers. Makers of body armor, boots, ammunition, helicopters, on and on, are rolling in gravy. All this half-watched loot flows in cataracts at the price of at most sixty dead American kids a month (and lots of brain-damaged droolers, but what the hey). A bargain. Afghans don’t count.

Note that the Pentagon’s orchestrated screaming has not been about technical data that might in fact get GIs killed, but about revelation of the ugly things the US is doing to people. Consider the footage of an American helicopter gunship killing pedestrians in a city street, and apparently having just a swell time doing it. This didn’t reveal military secrets. But it showed the gusnip crew as the butchers they are. Bad juju for the military. PR is all.

The pattern holds. Remember when the White House furiously suppressed video of torture? The Taliban would have garnered no tactically devastating details. But men screaming, choking, crying, bleeding, begging—even the patriotic might gag.

Why are the fun and games at Guantanamo kept secret? Watching a man die under torture does not make it easier for the Taliban to ambush Marines. In no way would it endanger American forces. But it would endanger the war. The golden goose.

Then there was the photo of the hideously wounded and dying GI that was (miraculously) published in the New York Times. SAD Robert Gates (Secretary of Alleged Defense) said that the publication was “irresponsible.” Oh? How so? The Taliban could have gotten no militarily useful pointers from seeing an expanse of red gushing meat (the leg looked to have been nearly severed). But people in Kansas might look and think twice about the war.
It seems to me, though, that Mr. Reed falls short at the same place I do. Yes, The Authorities™ certainly behave as if they fear inconvenience if their deeds are exposed to the light of day. Perhaps that is their concern. But why? If Mr. Reed can offer any evidence that the conscience of America has ever become aroused to the point of disobedience, or even voting the scoundrels out of office, by the scoundrels' misdeeds, I wish he would encourage me with that evidence. Alas, I fear there is none. When have we ever seen the people in Kansas -- or in red, red Indiana -- ever look and think twice about any war? Only in the case of the Vietnam war do we see a war of gratuitous intervention perhaps having been abbreviated by public disenchantment; and there, widespread conscription provides the immediate motivation for that disenchantment.

No, I think my blogging buddy akaGaGa pretty much nailed it in her comment on a recent post:
Take the Tea Party, for instance. As long as their taxes don't noticeably go up and they can keep their guns, they could care less how many people our government kills, "Swarthy" or low-life, drug-using, Americans. And getting complete control of Mideast oil that doesn't belong to us would just be a bonus.
I'm glad our rulers are worried, but I don't see that they have much to worry about.