Saturday, July 18, 2009

Who would you rather have patriotically protecting your country?

The Greatest American Hero shown here (doesn't he look like that reluctant gladiator who pee'd on himself standing in front of Maximus in the movie?)
... or the Mighty Siberian Attack Cat, Doofus, shown below?


If I could create an organization based on broadcast integrity, trustworthiness and honesty …

I’d call it Murrow, Cronkite and Associates.

There is nothing laudably “conservative” about what we are hearing and seeing from this gang.


There aren’t any “highest-good” motives or principles behind what this crop of republicans are doing on the national stage.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

How is the Bible useful If I can't take it Literal?

A Sunday Sermon from a lay preacher

It is not necessary that the bible be the inerrant and absolute word of God written by prophets through His inspiration.

Is the main value of the Bible similar to how water wings are valuable to a child learning to swim? Is not a rigid restriction of the use of the Bible to literalism willing one's self to remain in the shallow end of the pool?

... splashing around fearfully in stagnant water - afraid to move into the deeper water of spiritual religion and swimming with God as Jesus swam.

Does not biblical literalism base one's own spiritual life on someone else's magic - that of another human being who is no more authorized to speak for of of God than you or me?

Without wandering into areas of dis-belief or denial of God, has not theological research into the Old and New Testaments reflected an understanding that what was written was the work of mortals endeavoring to express their understanding and perception of God? For example in most theological schools and seminaries a common understanding is that the book of Genesis in its phrased and structural form is in fact a hymn to God and not a literal recitation of the specific acts of God. That is the reason for the repetitive "and it was good" phrasing at the end of each creative act of God.

If we realize that the earliest compilations of scripture - a "bible" if you will - were compiled by human beings who had collected the spiritual writings and were not the prophets who wrote them, we can see that books left out of both the O.T. and N.T. reflect a rejection of writings not in harmony with specific partisan theological priorities.

But the quality of some of those rejected writings is tremendous and nowhere will you find any writing by any of the early fathers that defends what was included and what was excluded without a justification of the growing common orthodoxy.

After having come to love scripture under the controlling tutelage and programming of the fundamentalist church of my younger years, my on-going bible study beyond those early years began to illuminate conflicts in doctrines and other absolutes adamantly proclaimed by that specific church as innerant and divine.

The Protestant Reformation - in which protestors literally yanked the bible from out of Catholicism's controlling hands and read it for themselves - formed alternatives to catholicism founded mostly on the same evolved doctrines that first came into being under the Roman Empire-sponsered catholicism. The reformers insisted on retaining an acceptance of what the mother church had told them the bible was.

These are spiritual, intellectual and academic reasons for my not accepting the bible as an inerrant word of God that somehow survived all the tampering, manipulation and redaction of scripture and somehow came through millenia unscathed.

However, that the bible contains the mind of God as conveyed spiritually through a reading of scripture with a sincere heart and real intent is what matters to me.

That the bible contains the not-to-be-tampered-with and traditional commonly and privately accepted interpretations that brook no deviance is not something I believe.

Nor do I believe God expects me to use the bible in such a limited fashion. How then is the Bible useful? In thousands of non-literal ways such as:

A better way than literal reading ...

"This Book from the first word to the last is the authentic Word of God. All other claims are false!" Ex:34:27: And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.

Seeing this verse in this context was a pleasant surprise for me because in the past I just marched right past it. Pleasant to me because I am understanding that the LORD wants his words written to become a means of communicating the tenor of his words.

Tenor for me means that the written words of God are to be read and understood in context of the spirit of the law more than the letter of the law.

Deut:28:58: If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;

De:28:61: Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

The context of Deut 28 is a promise that if Israel is obedient they shall be blessed temporally and spiritually. If disobedient they shall be cursed, smitten and destroyed. The assertion of the idea of fearing God or God's name has resulted in a myriad of literalist constructs that address redefining "fear" in a historical context that equates fear with love toward God.

Whether they admit it or not, those who make that equation depart from absolute literalist interpretation but do so wisely, recognizing that literal translation of words from one ancient language to modern English can be hazardous.

For me then the usefulness of Deut 28:58 lies in understanding the promise of temporal and spiritual blessing rather than the literalist meaning which in reality proposed a God of extortion who says "do things my way or I'll whack you!"

The Isaiah quotes from Chapters 43 - 47 appear to assert for Boanerges that God is The One. Beside God there is no other. God is the author of our existence

I personally think that Job 40 and 41 - which include a rebuking of the attempts by Job's critics' to define Job's religious fallibility - and Proverbs 8: 22-36 are a much more powerful assertion of God as the source than are the Isaiah passages.

Neither the Isaiah verses nor the Job and Proverbs verses assert that God expects a Letter-of-the-Law approach to life.

Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

To me this verse is Jesus telling me that whether one reads "word" as scripture or Jesus himself, the essence is that the seed is personal knowledge ... a seed planted by Jesus and/or available to be found for planting from scripture.

The seed/word is a personal knowledge of one's relationship to God and comprehension of how each child of God fits into the scheme of mortal existence. This could be used to define what it means to be born-again as well. Do we not speak of the same thing from two different but ultimately harmonious perceptions?

That personal inner knowledge is vulnerable to being lost - not because some "devil" comes and "steals" something that is thriving within - but because inner knowledge is something not static; something continually responding to the experiences of life.

The inner seed grows and develops according to it's nourishment; a consumption that includes some outward things (temptations to actions and ideas) that Jesus said elsewhere could defile one within.

Rev:22:18-9 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

If one uses this verse to justify an inerrant Bible with correct but inflexible religious formula, then I can only say that I do not read it and reach the same conclusion.

Relating the Revelations quote to the previous Luke quote, this "book of life' is truly a book of life that contains the "seed" which should be planted within. Tampering with the book is severely condemned and in the light of the Bible's containing - as Exodus reads above - the tenor of God's words, most certainly would we hope that over the course of the past 2000 years someone did not alter or change the text in any way.

I disagree with any implication that this Revelations quote forbids me from trying to understand Revelations according to how I understand life. If so forbidden, then most certainly we would have a scriptural source elsewhere in the Bible that explicitly and specifically defines all meanings as the official formula by which any exploration of scripture and doctrine is based.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"the select few who actually get it done."

Part of being wise in terms of civic wisdom is to realize that throwing out a gang of crooks last November was only half the job. The need to remain engaged in all directions of reform before the new crew becomes the same old gang is the only way to avoid having government reform devolve to "so-called-government reform"

Best and most recent commentary about this was on Bill Moyers' show last night. Click here to read the entire article


Some Choice Words for the 'Select Few'
by Bill Moyers and Michael

If you want to know what really matters in Washington, don't go to Capitol Hill for one of those hearings, or pay attention to those staged White House "town meetings." They're just for show.

What really happens -- the serious business of Washington -- happens in the shadows, out of sight, off the record. Only occasionally -- and usually only because someone high up stumbles -- do we get a glimpse of just how pervasive the corruption has become.

Case in point:
Katharine Weymouth, the publisher of The Washington Post -- one of the most powerful people in DC -- invited top officials from the White House, the Cabinet and Congress to her home for an intimate, off-the-record dinner to discuss health care reform with some of her reporters and editors covering the

But CEO's and lobbyists from the health care industry were invited, too, provided they forked over $25,000 a head -- or up to a quarter of a million if they want to sponsor a whole series of these cozy get-togethers. And what is the inducement offered? Nothing less, the invitation read, than "an exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will get it done."

The invitation reminds the CEO's and lobbyists that they will be buying access to "those powerful few in business and policy making who are forwarding, legislating and reporting on the issues...

... there is such a great disconnect between democracy and government today, between Washington and the rest of the country.

According to one poll after another, a majority of Americans not only want a public option in health care, they also think that growing inequality is bad for the country, that corporations have too much power over policy, that money in politics is the
root of all evil, that working families and poor communities need and deserve public support if the market system fails to generate shared prosperity.

But when the insiders in Washington have finished tearing worthy intentions apart and devouring flesh from bone, none of these reforms happen.

"Oh," they say, "it's all about compromise. All in the nature of the give-and-take-negotiating of a representative democracy."

That, people, is bull -- the basic nutrient of Washington's high and mighty.

... This week, the public interest groups Common Cause and the Center for Responsive Politics reported that,

"According to lobby disclosure reports, 34 energy companies registered in the first quarter of 2009 to lobby Congress around the American Clean Energy and
Security Act of 2009. This group of companies spent a total of $23.7 million -- or $260,000 a day -- lobbying members of Congress in January, February and

It's happening to health care as well.

... Enter "the select few who actually get it done."

Three out of four of the big health care firms lobbying on Capitol Hill have former members of Congress or government staff members on the payroll -- more than 350 of them -- and they're all fighting hard to prevent a public option, at a rate in excess of
$1.4 million a day.

... That's how it works. And it works that way because we let it. The game goes on and the insiders keep dealing themselves winning hands. Nothing will change -- nothing -- until the money lenders are tossed out of the temple, the ATM's are wrested from the marble halls, and we tear down the sign they've placed on government

-- the one that reads, "For Sale."

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at
BTW: Wendell Potter:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Republican Mindslingers Against Health Care Reform get what's coming to them

Next time the uninformed claim that health care in Canada is worse than here, call them on their gullibility.

Via Crooks and watch the video

(Video courtesy of Hillbilly Report)

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich absolutely tore it up today on Capitol Hill. In this video he is questioning Dr. David Gratzer of theManhattan Institute. One need only read the title of Gratzer's new book, "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Healthcare" (complete with forward written by Milton Friedman) to know what side of the debate he was on.

Gratzer was there to spew lies and right wing talking points about the Canadian health care system, but Kucinich wasn't having any of it. As always, my hat goes off to Dennis! You can watch the entire CSPAN video here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What did we really get when McCain chose Palin?

I'm in agreement with this assessment from Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

Not a Vote of Support

Sarah Palin, says David Frum, "quit to cash in. Her admirers can excuse anything, but to the much larger audience of non-admirers, Palin will look a lot like those CEOs who wrecked their banks and the national economy while accepting huge bonuses for themselves personally. John McCain's slogan in 2008 was "Country First." Palin's in 2012? "I seen my opportunities, and I took 'em."

I said when this first came down the pike that it seemed far the most likely conclusion, since the bow-out was so obviously rushed, that Palin was resigning ahead of some big scandal coming down the pike. But I confess that now I'm not so certain of my initial judgment.

Palin of course has tons of scandals. But if a game changer was on the way, one she had to drop out of sight so quickly for, I think we'd have heard something about it by now. And she's hardly dropped out of sight. Not that I'm counting out the possibility by any means. I'm just not so sure.

Maybe it really was just that she suddenly got tired of the accountability thing. Or couldn't wait the eighteen months left on her contract to start shoveling up the dollars.

As I think a number of others have said, I've always thought Palin's character was essentially that of a grifter. And when these folks blow out of town after a con has run its course, it's usually a pretty hasty exit.

So maybe it all makes sense.

--Josh Marshall

Monday, July 6, 2009

Civics lesson on citizenship equality?

The legal definition of a corporation in the U.S. allows lobbying of OUR representatives in a corporation’s own self interest.

,,, just like individual citizens can do.

But the playing field is not level. A corporation as some sort of legal entity can pour its own resources into lobbying cash that becomes essentially the cost of doing business.

see below … how many citizens could spend over $1.4M per day lobbying for their well being? How many citizens in joint effort would it require to sustain that kind of bribing of the government?

Tain’t fair and the the playing field is not level.

Health Care Industry Spending Over $1.4M A Day On Lobbying

Sunday, July 5, 2009

On Sarah Palin quitting her job

If any prominent Republican were to quit the job in the middle of the battle as an effort to help constituents, it would not be Mrs. Palin.

The hotter kitchen is in California but Arnold has yet to give up. I’m not supporting any party for reasons of  political p\reference, but I will say that even though Arnold Schwartzeneger can’t run for president, his modeling of an executive who stays in the kitchen is more attractive than what we saw this weekend.

Health Care reform through the eyes of those who already enjoy the benefits.

No amount of conservative corporate-lobbied blather can address the not-so-awful truth that is so well illustrated in today’s article.

How long must we all go before we realize that business does not have any “right” to offer medical insurance or medical treatment as a commodity available only to those who can afford it.

LA Times, 07/05/09

Britain's National Health Service: Simple, Sensible and Civilized

A former NHS patient has some advice for Americans skeptical of single-payer, government-run healthcare: You'll get over it.

by Clancy Sigal



For the first couple of years I lived in Britain, I was an illegal immigrant from the United States, visaless with an expired passport and looking over my shoulder all the time. Even so, from the very first day I arrived at Victoria Station in London, suffering from bronchitis, I was accepted in the NHS -- the national health scheme, we called it -- no questions asked and no ID required.

After I'd become a legal resident, I asked my doctor why he had taken me, almost literally off the boat, with so little fuss. Weren't foreigners a drain on his time and the National Health Service? He shrugged. "If you come here with a contagious disease, we don't want you infecting the rest of us. So of course we give you medical care. Purely selfish on our part."

For three decades I used and, being of a hypochondriacal nature, exploited the British medical system without paying a farthing except for the taxes taken out of my wages as a working journalist. And that single-payer, socialistic, government-run, bureaucratized, heavily used, nationalized health system served me -- and 50 million others -- very well. In need, I saw many doctors, with no money ever changing hands. There was nothing to sign, hardly any papers to shuffle. My primary-care physician ran his "surgery," his office, with the help of only one receptionist whose job it was to arrange appointments.

… Recently, the American Medical Assn. responded with skepticism to President Obama's plea for healthcare reform. In Britain, too, the massed ranks of the medical profession at first fought bitterly against a "socialized" service covering all from cradle to the grave. But Labor's health minister, a firebrand from the mining valleys, Aneurin Bevan, brought them into line with a mixture of enticements and threats.

The NHS was, and is, a classically English compromise, in which individual doctors are independent contractors paid by the government according to the number of their patients. Doctors are free to remove patients from their list, and patients are free to go elsewhere. Once ideology was laid aside and the system got working, it was actually quite simple.

Once launched, in an astonishingly short time, a matter of a year or so, the NHS was accepted by even its worst enemies -- the doctors and the Conservative Party -- as indispensable and a civilized way of dealing with life, illness and death.

Does that sound so awful?

Doofusness; The incumbent sitting Lame Duck American President

It's a vanity issue. For Mr. Trump that means he must satisfy Mr. Hannity, Ms. Coulter and these kind folks: On Networks and ...

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