June 27, 2010

Do Republicans have a God-given right to be disingenuous?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , — Bob Patterson @ 3:34 pm

Last week while most Americans were fretting about the oil spill and a change in personnel, the Supreme Court of the United States was looking (askance) at Section 18 of the US Code and the results of their ruling may let some high profile prisoners walk free in the sunshine sooner than expected.

The broad implication of the decision might give Republicans more latitude in making reality gelatinous. Democrats hold themselves to a higher standard and won’t be inclined to indulge in any chance to avail themselves of the possibility to find some wriggle room regarding the issue concerning an opportunity to “deprive another of the intangible right to honest services.”

Some people might assume with all the laws about fraud and a certain religious commandment that there is, in any business dealing, an implicit right to honest services.

Wrong! Does the reverse corollary apply? Do Republicans now know that they have an intangible right to deliver dishonest service? When a Republican candidate for office says that he (hypothetical example) had the training to be an F-102 pilot does that mean that he actually was one?

We know a fellow whose identity revolves around his training and expertise in the martial arts. He will often drop the fact that he taught Bruce Lee into the conversation. Often it comes right after he has listed his qualifications for being an authority on the martial arts. He does not say what he taught Mr. Lee and so if he taught Bruce Lee to change a tire on his car and you leap to the assumption that the fellow taught Lee everything he knew about karate, the misperception is your fault because you have made an assumption.

Recently we picked up a bargain copy of the book which was the basis for the move “Catch Me If You Can.” The book was a bit different from the movie hence the movie carried the tag line: “based on a true story.”

The author, Frank Abignale, would ask people “can you cash a check for me?” and then present a slip of paper which was not a genuine check. Since when is a question a lie?

Do you want the evidence to be in the form of a mushroom cloud? Since the invasion of Iraq, it has become the custom to refer to hand grenades as weapons of mass destruction. If you didn’t realize that it was necessary to invade oil rich Iraq because they had hand grenades, that was your own fault for not being a weapons expert and fully able to parse the talking points offered as sound logical reasons for invading Iraq. Little did America realize that the Bush team was composed of cunning linguists dead set on going to war.

In ethics class, students are presented with the concept of “the greater good.” Suppose a man who wanted to kill you entered (another hypothetical) your office and informed your secretary that he wanted to see you so that he could kill you. Should she say that you called in sick today, point to the inner office where you work, or should she use the intercom to ask if you could squeeze an unscheduled visitor into your schedule? Some ethics experts say that the greater good of saving your life outweighs the obligation to adhere to the Commandment that gives the flat fiat that you must always tell the truth.

So it’s OK to lie sometimes and the Supreme Court has rendered the concept of “deprive another of the intangible right to honest services” moot; so truth, justice and the American way have just seen one of the team go missing in action.

The headline for this column asks a question. We have presented several relevant items for your consideration and now invite you to draw your own conclusions . . . or . . . you can wait and see if the Republicans act as if they have a God-given right to lull you into adoring acquiescence.

Americans have no right to know what went on in the meeting between Dick Cheney and the energy companies. Americans have no right to know how the programs used in the electronic voting machines work. Americans have no right to know what BP is doing or plans to do regarding the oil spill. As a matter of fact, Americans have no right to go to public parks and see the oil spill clean up work being done. It would seem that other than being used to print the coming tsunami of corporate financed campaign ads, America has no want or need for a free press to keep citizens informed so that they can vote intelligently.

It would also seem that the Supreme Court based their decision on the old folk wisdom: “After you shake hands with a Republican, count your fingers.”

Cynical curmudgeons will continue to regard all politicians as they would a snake oil salesman as portrayed by W. C. Fields. Dittoheads will be the first to second the Charles Dickens Republican attitude of “God bless us every one.” (Was Dickens predicting Uncle Rushbo when he wrote: “He is an honorable, obstinate, truthful, high-spirited, intensely prejudiced, perfectly reasonable man.” in Bleak House?)

Perhaps it is time to change the motto on money from “In God We Trust” to “Caveat Emptor.”

Rudyard Kipling was ahead of his time when he wrote
“If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.”

Now the disk jockey will play: “the theme from Elvira Madigan,” “Green Fields,” and Shirley Temple’s version of “On the Good Ship Lollipop.” We have to go write a letter to Santa Claus. Have a “smile when you say that” type week.

March 9, 2010

Palin’s Hand Jive

Filed under: Commentary,Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , — RS Janes @ 2:52 pm


December 25, 2009

Quotes with a Holiday Punch

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few his precepts!
O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.”
– Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1757.

“Jesus wasn’t a Christian, and he never preached in a church. He was also a drinker, and liked to hang out with sinners. We think of him very highly in the Church of Stop Shopping. We put him right up there with Lenny Bruce.”
– Reverend Billy

“Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God.”
– Lenny Bruce

“To hear many religious people talk, one would think God created the torso, head, legs and arms, but the devil slapped on the genitals.”
– Don Schrader

“Christian fundamentalism: The doctrine that there is an absolutely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable, universe-spanning entity that is deeply and personally concerned about my sex life.”
– Andrew Lias

“The problem with fundamentalists insisting on a literal interpretation of the Bible is that the meaning of words change. A prime example is ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child.’ A rod was a stick used by shepherds to guide their sheep to go in the desired direction. Shepherds did not use it to beat their sheep. The proper translation of the saying is ‘Give your child guidance, or they will go astray.’ It does not mean ‘Beat the sh*t out of your child or he will become rotten’ as many fundamentalist parents seem to believe.”
– Author Unknown

“I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, ‘If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?’ ‘No,’ said the priest, ‘not if you did not know.’ ‘Then why,’ asked the Eskimo earnestly, ‘did you tell me?’”
– Annie Dillard

“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish.”
– Author Unknown

“Christianity is not a religion; it’s an industry.”
– Author Unknown

“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
– Anne Lamott


August 20, 2009

Palin, Bachmann and Plumber’s Helper Joe — the Infinite Jest


March 5, 2008

Mark Morford: How to Abandon Your God

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Volt @ 6:54 pm

Mark Morford, The San Francisco Gate, March 5, 2008

This much we know: God is failing.

Or more accurately, God is mutating. Changing. In flux. Becoming perhaps slightly less appealing as a dogmatic force of rigid closed-minded sit-down-and-shut-up paternal scowling and becoming perhaps more fluid, interesting, dynamic, unspecified, something you actually want to take into your heart and into your mouth and lick until you find the rich, creamy center and then define that taste for yourself, blissfully independent of what your parents or priest or president tells you, until you reach that point of deeper knowing where you can’t help but go a-ha.

It’s all part of that big new study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, released just recently and ripe and ready to be spun a thousand different ways, the one that contains the big whopper of a statistic that says 28 percent of Americans have abandoned the religion they grew up with and have taken up another one, or none at all, or maybe more than one because polytheism certainly sounds tasty and, you know, what the hell, right?

It’s not really all that shocking. People change religions. People swap denominations. People evolve, go to college, learn to think (and seek meaning) for themselves, change their minds or marry someone of a different belief or go through a personal revelation, or actually experience the spiritual/intellectual epiphany that reveals how all religions are one and God is not “out there” and you are not here to be its meek sinful guilty mindless servant.

And maybe you go even further, as you realize that it’s actually quite dangerous and small-minded to hew too closely to one narrow way of seeing/feeling/tasting the divine as you perhaps come to the slippery conclusion that it’s all about co-creating God in your own way and, therefore, any religion that contains more than one person (that is to say, you) is deviously suspicious and apocryphal at best, unhealthy and destructive at worst. Or maybe that’s just me.

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