Four more years?
Expanded from the 9-11-2005 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
Are you better off today than you were four years ago?
That's the only truly relevant question on this Sunday of sorrows old and new.
The most callous among us say that any problems are our own damned fault. This follows the tradition of old testament theocracy that people are punished or rewarded in the here and now by the almighty and terrible God.
Our tradition of oppressing women has its roots in that stone age mentality. In the ancient Jewish tradition, someone who was sick all the time was being punished by God for sins committed. Women are observably "sick" every 28 days or so and thus obviously afflicted for past, present and future turpitude. That's what girls get for offering apples to boys.
Back when I was a loyal and hardworking altar boy, it was not unusual for me to serve every Sunday mass, beginning at 6:00 a.m. and ending at 8:30 p.m. I thus had a lot of downtime without a large selection of reading material. One sunny afternoon, I thumbed through the Sacristy Manual, a how-to for priests conducting various ceremonies, some of which I had never heard of.
I will never forget reading about "The Churching of Women" a purification rite for unclean females who had just sullied themselves by giving birth. According to the official policy of God, women were deemed vile after childbirth until cleansed by some priest in a water-based ceremony. I found that quite insulting to my very religious mother and grandmother.
Ancient superstitions plague us yet today. The mentally ill are still shunned by a society which has only recently recognized such maladies as physical and psychological diseases instead of punishments handed down from on high.
MORAL OBTUSENESS FROM A TEXAS MARIE ANTOINETTE
Nonetheless, we still suffer from the mental hangover of the discredited Old Testamant idea that you've brought misfortune upon yourself. (The discreditor of that hoary concept was none other than Jesus of Nazareth, who ushered in a transition from the almighty and terrible God to the almighty and merciful God. If you believe in Jesus, then to paraphrase the immortal statement of Nixon White House press secretary Ron Ziegler all previous testaments are inoperative.)
Today, those afflicted with the plagues of Job are often accused of not taking personal responsibility for their lives. Case in point: Pennsylvania Republican Senator Scrotum Factotum's view of those stranded in New Orleans.
"I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving," holier-than-thou Rick Santorum said last week.
Dovetailing nicely into this blame-the-victim philosophy, New Orleans refugees bound for Gomorrah South will displace local homeless people in Las Vegas emergency shelters. This is understandable in a town which has long criminalized homelessness.
The Moonhowler Attack Machine is working overtime this weekend. (I wish the Federal Emergency Management Agency performed so well.) The White House has issued talking points to its cadres of the faithful, instructing them to blame Democrats for everything bad since the Big Bang keeping in mind that they should also dispute that the Big Bang ever happened.
They will probably be successful in clouding the issue to the benefit of the president's poll numbers. Dubya's propagandist Karl Rove reportedly regularly re-reads the works of Niccolo Machiavelli. It is instructive to recall Machiavelli's advice to the prince in his work of the same name: "To see and hear him, he (the ruler) should seem to be all mercy, faith, integrity and religion. And nothing is more necessary than to seem to have this last quality .Everybody sees what you appear to be, few feel what you are."
MERCY: Say you're a compassionate conservative. FAITH: "I love our values." INTEGRITY: Grab your wife's ass while on camera to distinguish yourself from omnivorous Bill Clinton. RELIGION: Say that Christ is the philosopher who most affected you, then go right out and violate every precept of Christianity.
Dubya is irritatingly Protestant in his values. The King James rewrite of the Bible excised the writings of St. James the Less who dared to say that "faith without works is nothing." The Protestant view of the afterlife is that all you need is faith to achieve your particular version of Valhalla. At least Catholic preachers are supposed to instruct their flocks that it don't mean a thing if you don't do a thing.
Fortunately for many Gulf Coast refugees, many Protestants don't buy Dubya's version of religion. Where the Bush administration's obtuse incompetence cost many lives, religious and charitable organizations have moved quickly and admirably.
WITH BODIES STILL FLOATING
Firms with Bush ties snag the first Hurricane Katrina reconstruction contracts (REUTERS)
Meanwhile, Viceroy Cheney took a trip to survey the region, looking for opportunities for Halliburton to once again prosper from human misery.
By almost every economic, military and moral indicator, America is worse off today than on Sept. 10, 2001.
It's time to rid ourselves of the blindness of faith-based government.
"It's God's will, so just accept it" is a disastrous disaster response and the disasters are not over.
DARK SKIES. Pulitzer Prize-winning investigate reporter Seymour Hersh made a chilling prediction on the Daily Show. (Comedy Central, 8-16-2005. Click here to view the clip.) He told host Jon Stewart that Iraq insurgents are planning a replay of the 1968 Vietcong Tet Offensive, complete with an attempt to take the capital. If a strong attack happens now, it would break already-bent U.S. resolve about remaining in the crossfire of the looming Iraqi Civil War.
LIGHTENING UP: 89 percent of respondents to a CNN online poll faulted local, state and federal governments for the slow response to hurricane devastation. The rest blamed Saddam Hussein.
Be well. Raise hell.
BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy
The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
ORDER "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy"
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.
...and more ammo
BARBWIRE: We have met the enemy and he is us, 5-29-2005
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Andrew Barbano is a 36-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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