Saturday, March 11, 2006

A plague on ALL your houses!

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

I know how to put 99% percent of the world's religious charlatans and political demagogue war mongers out of business for good. Simply hold them to this standard: behave in such a way that what IS true can be verified to be so. How many could be held to that standard? Maybe none!

Chuck Dupree, of Bad Attitudes, wrote recently:
...the right has come to dominate the discussion through clever, and not always honest, use of language and control of the definitions of terms.
This seems to be the crux of the problem, a pandemic malaise that has poisoned our political discourse.

Jean-Paul Sartre, in both Being and Nothingness and Existentialism and Human Emotions wrote of mauvaise foi i.e. "bad faith". He attributed that characteristic to people who literally lie to themselves. It's a good description of the GOP. GOPPERS find various reasons for willingly believing lies and nefarious motivations for speading them —knowingly and willingly. In general, howver, GOPPERS choose to believe Republican propaganda —meaningless slogans and platitudes —because it is focus group designed to make them feel good about themselves. Republicans have forgotten, however, that one is responsible for what one believes. Bertolt Brecht put it this way:
A man who does not know the truth is just an idiot but a man who knows the truth and calls it a lie is a crook!

—Bertolt Brecht

Nothing good comes of believing a falsehood. Even worse outcomes are to be expected when falsehoods are espoused and touted by those who know them to be false. Bush's very administration was begun and continues upon various frauds deliberately perpetrated upon the American public.

Republican Congressman Ron Paul, a libertarian from Texas, denounced the NeoCon agenda on the floor of the House of Representatives. His speech has been summarized in bullit points and quoted in John Dean's book Worse than Watergate. Rep. Paul pointed out that the NeoCons are really latter day Machiavellians. They believe that the state is all powerful; lying is essential for the survival of the state; certain facts should be kept secret from the people; and, finally, NeoCons dismiss any argument based upon the U.S. Constitution. Put another way, NeoCons share Bush's attitude with regard to the Constitution.
The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper!

—George W. Bush

The NeoCon belief that truth is whatever they can either force or trick you into believing may prove to be America's undoing. I am a realistic person. No one in government will ever live up to the standard mentioned earlier. Having grown cynical of popular religion and politics, I am inclined to trade all the world's ideologies for a single, verifiable truth.

Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet at a time when Catholics and Protestants were at war with one another. William, himself, was most certainly an "underground" Catholic. I will leave to a bona fide Shakespeare scholar the task of debunking my belief that Shakespeare had grown cynical about the faith of his father, the faith that he, himself, had grown up with. On the other hand, Shakespeare may very well have witnessed the gruesome executions of blood relatives for the perceived threat they posed to Elizabeth I. It was in Romeo and Juliet that we find a most memorable line by Shakespeare: A plague o' both your houses!

To Muslim and Christian alike, to Democrat and GOPPER alike, I say: A plague o' both your houses!

As bad as things are, I remain optimistic and many reasons for optimism can be found in much of Shakepeare who returned time and again to the theme that evil is self-defeating. We need only wait —and survive. It was Sir Thomas More, an early casualty of England's religious wars, who said that our natural business is that of "escape".

Why was I surprised when Enron came crashing down? After all, just a few years prior, I had written of Houston's glitzy, pretentious downtown: " towers of Oz, smoke and mirrors"! That's what it turned out to be.

Corporate crap, propaganda, and faux cowboy bullshit passes for culture in Houston. But it doesn't stop there. Recently, Houston became home to the largest "mega" church in the world. The Lakewood Church took over what had been the Summit, where the Houston Rockets played basketball. [See Forbes: Christian Capitalism Megachurches, Megabusinesses ] Three pointers are now given up for glitzy media versions of Jesus.

Zealots in Houston?
Members of the Lakewood Church — all 16,000 of them — worship at the grand opening of their new building in a Houston arena that was formerly home of the city’s NBA team.

An excerpt from the Forbes article:

Welcome to the megabusiness of megachurches, where pastors often act as chief executives and use business tactics to grow their congregations. This entrepreneurial approach has contributed to the explosive growth of megachurches--defined as non-Catholic churches with at least 2,000 members--in the U.S. Indeed, Lakewood, New Birth, The Potter's House and World Changers, four of the biggest, have all experienced membership gains of late. Of course, growth for them has a higher purpose: to spread their faith to as many people as they can. "In our society growth equals success," says Scott Thumma, faculty associate at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. "And religious growth not only equals success but also God's blessing on the ministry."
In a nation now ruled by corporations, the corporatization of religion is an unholy and theocratic merger of church and state. It's the very picture of fascism. Is that a Nazi salute that I see in that picture?

Also in Houston, the kooky Rev. Sun Myung Moon is wooing black ministers and rewriting history. One of his "representatives" in Houston is proselytizing the idea that the Jews invented the Holocaust. There are places in Europe where "Holocaust Denial" is a prosecutable crime. However you feel about that, I hasten to add that the Holocaust happened. It's a fact! Live with it!
Our sister paper SF Weekly recently did a story on the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's extravagant attempts to make inroads among black churches by offering preachers such things as free vacations to faraway countries. Dozens of ministers have heeded Moon's call to throw out their crosses and replace them with crowns, the symbol of Moon's church.

The Reverend Bennit Hayes of the Gloryland Missionary Baptist Church in Sunnyside was cited as a minister who had a drawer full of discarded crosses from his parishioners (although the article didn't directly accuse him of taking free trips).

A Moonie in Houston?

Q. Has Reverend Moon paid for your travel expenses?

A. Naw, naw, naw, naw. See, that's one of the most misconceived things that most folks think. That just 'cause you're black you got to have folks pay for your travels.

Q. That's not what I meant.

A. Naw, naw, naw. I want you to just get what I'm saying. I came in paying my own way, up until the time I became a member of the executive committee. And once I got on the executive committee, my travels [are] paid for by the committee...I'm a giver. A lot of the black pastors do come on board for the free ride. That's a fact. But most of us come in here giving.

Q. Reverend Moon has said that the Holocaust is a consequence for the Jews' killing of Jesus. Do you believe that?

A. I was at the Holocaust museum in Israel. And let me say that the Jews themselves, the ones I met, repented for that.

Q. For the Holocaust?

A. No, no. That they actually did set up the murder of Jesus. They repented for that. Because they're the ones that led to the death of Jesus.

Q. But do you believe the Holocaust is a consequence of that?

A. I have my own views on that. But see, Reverend Moon doesn't control your mind. He gives you the liberty, you know, to think for yourself...Reverend Moon has done much more today than what Jesus did in his day. Jesus didn't travel all over the world. Reverend Moon has traveled all over the world. The Reverend Moon's been in prison. Jesus was never in prison. You see what I'm saying?

Q. Reverend Moon has called gays "dung-eating dogs." What do you think of that?

A. That's a little extreme for me. I wouldn't call them that. They're all children of God.

Q. But that kind of statement doesn't turn you off Reverend Moon?

A. Naw, naw. That's the human in him. That's what makes him not totally divine.

"Not totally divine" sounds like something Carson Kressley on Queer Eye would say, but we're sure Hayes wasn't implying anything.

--One Houston preacher gave up the cross for the cult
Moon is not divine. Not even a little bit. He's an idiot —and so are 99% of the Protestant ministers I've ever met. I have met more than my share.

Idiocy is not limited to preachers. It contaminates those in government who may be influenced by them. Voltaire said that if God did not exist, it would necessary to invent him. Is that what happened? Americans are fond of invoking "God" —most often: "God Bless America". I worry that someone, somewhere, some time, said "God Damn America" and God took them up on it.

Elsewhere, people are having to deal with what is, rather than what they would like to think it is:
IN 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia and, after success at the battle of Borodino, marched on and occupied Moscow. Napoleon and his generals took over the palaces of the court princes and great houses of the mighty boyars.

Sadly for Napoleon, the Russians had different plans for their nation. Within days after abandoning their city to the French army, they torched their own palaces, homes, enterprises, and cathedrals. They burned Moscow down around Napoleon. Denied his last great triumph, the disappointed emperor abandoned Moscow and started home. Along the way, he lost the world's most powerful army.

Recently one of Islamic Shi'ites' most revered sites, the golden mosque in Baghdad, was destroyed by sectarian enemies. By this act and the reprisals that followed, Iraq moved a substantial step closer to civil war. Though a remote, but real, possibility, an Iraqi civil war could cost the United States its army. ...

--US Army in jeopardy in Iraq, Gary Hart | March 11, 2006
False prophets are celebrated daily on FOX and similar ilk; Cindy Sheehan, who speaks for millions who have declared the megalomaniacal emperor to be naked, are gagged and threatened.
If "dissent is Democracy. [Then] Democracy is in Trouble. Never before, Lewis Lapham argues, have voices of protest been so locked out of the mainstream conversation, so marginalized and muted by a government that recklessly disregards civil liberties, and by an ever more concentrated and profit-driven media in which the safe and the salable sweep all uncomfortable truths from view.

"In the midst of the 'war on terror' - which makes the hunt for Communists in the 1950s look, in its clarity of aim and purpose, like the Normandy landings on D-Day - we face a crisis of democracy as serious as any in our history. The Bush administration makes no secret of its contempt for a cowed and largely silenced electorate, and without bothering to conceal its purpose the government coordinates 'not the defense of the American citizenry against a foreign enemy but the protection of the American plutocracy from the American democracy.'

"Gag Rule is a rousing and necessary call to action in defense of one of our most important liberties, the right to raise our voices in dissent and have those voices heard."

—Lewis Lapham, Cindy Sheehan Brutalized... more than 'Gag Ruled!'
And from the Washington Post, a harbinger of things to come:
Claude A. Allen, who resigned last month as President Bush's top domestic policy adviser, was arrested this week in Montgomery County for allegedly swindling Target and Hecht's stores out of more than $5,000 in a refund scheme, police said.

Allen, 45, of Gaithersburg, has been released on his own recognizance and is awaiting trial on two charges, felony theft scheme and theft over $500, said Lt. Eric Burnett, a police spokesman. Each charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. ...

--Bush says he's shocked and saddened by the arrest of his ex-aide.
As Buzzflash says: he had best get used to it.