Friday, January 20, 2006

Catholic Morons, Inc.

The late John Paul II appeared to have been a very decent, ethical, and erudite man. He spoke numerous languages, and was, as the obituary writers say, “an avid sportsman.” He fought against the nazis and later the stalinists: the catholic poles certainly did not have an easy existence from about 1938 to 1945 (nor did the polish jews or ukrainians either). Many died at both nazi and stalinist hands; the atrocity of Katyn, where thousands of polish officers were slaughtered at the hands of Stalin’s NKVD , may be one of the most brutal acts of the 20th century.

Yet it’s quite absurd—absurd in both ordinary and philosophical sense—that someone would, after surviving the terror of nazis and stalinists, decide to join a church that proclaims that a “God” exists who would allow such horrendous brutality. Not only is the concept of God itself quite indefensible (and more so after WWII), the catholic tradition continues to uphold irrational, unscientific and anti-humanist doctrines; Christopher Hitchens is not entirely incorrect in claiming that “the Roman Catholic Church has been responsible for the retarding of human development on a colossal scale.”

The mass itself is ludicrous, as are the attitudes toward birth control: for the real implications of Catholic family planning spend a few days in one of the massive slums of any Central or South American city. And yet the Catholics keep marching on. With Alito’s confirmation, there will be a catholic majority on the Supreme Court (so much for the First Amendment “wall” separating Church and State). Recently a monumental cathedral was finished in LA, courtesy of Roger O Mahoney, the Cardinal who has refused to turn over names in the priest sex scandals. And the cathedral, however beautiful (featuring works of art from leading LA artistes, such as Grahams’ massive, plebian Maria) is another Temple to Irrationality which does little to nothing to help solve real social and economic problems.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Harry Reid: Nevada Lawman

The media pundits have decided that Senator Reid is a bit too reserved for politics, celebrity style. No matter: Reid's about as near to an authentic Democrat since Bobby Kennedy. (Alright, Gary Hart was moving towards victory until the fundies and soccer mommies found out Gary actually consumed alcoholic beverages and had had sex with women)

Reid's political career was made in the 70s fighting Vegas mobsters as the Chairman of the Nevade Gaming Commission (a Reid-like character was featured in Scorcese's Casino--he denies a license to the mobster played by De Niro). That's a bit more significant a job history than most liberal polticos might claim: internship in an Ivy League or Bay Area non-profit agency not really adequate preparation for taking on the Mob or dixie fundamentalists.

"Reid may not be the most colorful figure in Washington, but his career is far more interesting than that of the average senator. In politics, Nevada is the next best thing to Louisiana. To take just one example, is there another U.S. senator who has been part of the inspiration for a character in a Martin Scorsese film? (A character played by Dick Smothers, no less.) In Casino, Robert DeNiro's character melts down in front of the Nevada Gaming Commission after the commission denies him a license to operate a casino. The scene is loosely based on a December 1978 hearing when Reid was the commission's chairman, and some of the dialogue spoken by Smothers is taken directly from Reid's words during the hearing. (The rest of the scenes involving Smothers, who plays a composite politician known only as "Senator," have nothing to do with Reid.) OK, it's lackluster Scorsese, but at least it's not Gangs of New York. And there are other Reid echoes in Casino: Joe Pesci's character refers to a "Mr. Cleanface," which gangster Joe Agosto said was his nickname for an in-his-pocket Reid, but a five-month investigation of Agosto's claims cleared Reid of wrongdoing.""


Friday, January 13, 2006

The Meaning of “Republican”, cont.

Each day across America, local newspapers feature the columns and letters of those who proclaim themselves “Republican” and upholders of “republican values.” In fact, a rough and ready definition of “republican”--at least the current American variety—can easily be derived: it is a person who is against “big government,” somewhat of a moralist, usually militaristic, opposed to taxation, and generally pro-business and a supporter of capitalism. Yet it is quite obvious to anyone who possesses a negligible amount of historical awareness that this colloquial American definition of “republican” is not in keeping with the traditional definition and use of the noun “republican.”

Etymologically, "republican" is from Latin, lit. res publica: "public interest, the state." This basic Latin meaning seems to counter the current American usage of the word— associating say a Reagan or Bush with “public interest” or even the “the state” is difficult. In political science, a republican is defined as one who is opposed to monarchical governments: i.e., the Irish Republican Army and its offshoots are opposed to the British monarchy, and earlier the Spanish republicans were opposed to the monarchy led by the dictator Franco. I doubt that many American “republicans” would care to be associated with either the Irish or Spanish variety of republican, who often might be a bit closer in ideology to what the American republican would term an anarchist, and indeed the Spanish republicans were allied with anarchist and left-wing groups. It is certain then that the European republicans bear little or no resemblance to the American variety, and in many ways are diametrically opposed.

Limiting the discussion to American history, an assertion can be made that the current type of republican bears little resemblance to his historical predecessor. Republicans like to proclaim that Abe Lincoln is the father of their party, and yet Lincoln was in many ways quite opposed in mind state and political policies to what is known as a republican today.

There are many examples of Lincoln’s liberalism: the Emancipation Proclamation being perhaps the most clear example. Lincoln wrote poetry and was in no way a fundamentalist Christian, being closer in mind and outlook to, say, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Additionally, Lincoln favored a national banking system and worked towards creating a more stable currency based not on gold or silver as many conservatives would like. Indeed some of Lincoln’s comments on economics sound surprisingly like current liberal if not leftist rhetoric, as in this following passage following the National Banking Act of 1863:

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth of the nation is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed.”

When has a current Republican stated his fear that the wealth of the nation would be “aggregated” in the hands of a few? The current “republican” has no problem with wealth and capital being so divided and in fact argues for policies that support this disparity—such as Bush’s recent tax cut for the super rich.

Therefore, not only is the current American usage of the term “Republican” etymologically not consistent with traditional usage of the word (assuming, perhaps naively, that political semantics should be consistent), but in ideology, the current American republican bears little similarity in outlook or philosophy to at least one of his putative political idols, Abe Lincoln.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ray Jennings, Innocent (Michael Blake, DA, guilty)

[From the Eastside trenches]

The murder of Ms. O’Keefe (in a Palmdale CA park and ride, 2/2000) obviously counts as a tragedy, yet no conclusive evidence exists which would convict Sergeant Ray Jennings of the murder (he is now involved in his THIRD re-trial for 187, having been acquitted by two LA juries). The vigilante attitude shown towards Jennings in the Valley Press and Daily News (and LA Times, at least initially) has hardly been equitable or indeed Constitutional; he was found Guilty by Journalists as soon as he appeared in the papers (probably because Ms O'Keefe's daddy, an aerospace engineer has plenty of pull with the locals, including Mayor Rex "Puerco" Parris). Jennings may have made some inconsistent statements or even failed a polygraph, yet that does not prove anything, whatsoever.

No weapon was never located, and NO gunshot residue was detected on Jennings' hands or clothing. Any real detective or ballistic guy will tell you they ALWAYS get GSR on a perp's hands, or clothes after heavy shooting. Jennings was questioned probably within an hour of the shooting (9mm, 5 shots---that be gangsta-work, says Contingencies). He had no time to clean up with alcohol, or shower (which also would have been detected). Furthermore, it was Jennings' SECOND DAY AT WORK as a security guard, and he was shuttling cars to get to the park and ride. He's a family man, his second day at work, bonded, forbidden by law to carry a firearm,and his supervisor told him he was subject to inspection at all times (including his vehicle).

No one saw him with a gun; and he insists he did not have one. It's nearly IMPOSSIBLE that he had a gun to start with , yet the DA Blake continues to make the ludicrous claim Jennings had a gun. It is a near certainty, that JENNINGS DID NOT HAVE A FIREARM. That also explains why a gun was not found, since he called in the shooting within 20 minutes or so (he did pass by Ms O'Keefe minutes after she was shot, as he should have. He may have dawdled. Oh well. That does not show 187 at all.) Jennings did not have time to dispose of a gun; it's nearly certain the gun disappeared in the car with the gangster who killed Ms O'Keefe (and Ms O'Keefe also was dropped off by a friend. Did they search her car, or polygraph her??)

The lack of proof that Jennings had a firearm also should provides sufficient reasons for acquittal, though Blake has managed to bring in Jennings military record in (Sgt. Jennings served in Iraq with distinction, and his CO and fellow soldiers say he was innocent. Yet Blake the Crimefighter wants to use Jennings' own markmaship skills as evidence. BS, like all of Blake's pseudo-arguments. Blake's the one who should be on trial, facing obstruction of justice charges for insisting that Jennings did have a gun, when there is no evidence to establish that claim.

Though LA County residents have reason to be concerned about violent crime, crimefighters should never overlook the importance of the presumption of innocence clause. Obviously, that a person has been arrested does not imply that he has been found guilty of any charges, though reporters, including those of the AV Press, often seem a bit unclear on this concept. Raymond Jennings’ arrest demonstrates this type of justice, media-style, which often verges on a violation of Due Process rights that all citizens—even those charged with serious felonies—are entitled to according to the 14th Amendment.

Readers of newspapers are not provided with the same evidence that the police and courts are provided with, and any information that makes it into the paper is second hand; additionally, reporters often omit details that may be quite relevant—such as whether the person or persons who dropped Ms. O’Keefe off at the park and ride were ever considered suspects in the case. The papers also neglected to mention (at least until like the second trial) the results of the ballistics tests, or that it was Jennings' second day at work, or the car shuttling.

(And the rich defense attorneys in Northern LA County (and Kern as well) who read about this case and did nothing while Jennings' rights to a fair trial were mocked by the press and pigs are themselves guilty. )

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Don Tony Scalia, Supreme Court Seditionist

Not that many notice or seem to mind, but Antonio Scalia, Supreme Court Justice-for-life, routinely contradicts the principles of the Constitution with nearly each court opinion he hands down. Commenting on a case involving the legitimacy of having the Ten Commandments displayed outside a Texas courthouse, Scalia recently asserted that political authority does not derive from the people, claiming that the displaying of the Ten Commandments “is a symbol of the fact that government comes — derives its authority from God.”

Justice Scalia must have missed out on his Constitution course, for a quick reading of the opening Preamble reveals that it begins with “We the people.” References to “God” or Judeo-Christian scripture are nowhere to be found. Indeed, Founding Fathers of both the right (such as Hamilton) and left (Jefferson), influenced by Locke’s concepts of individual rights, rejected theological authority as well as monarchical authority. The FFs were essentially secularists (though not the sort of hysterical pagan common to the current Democratic party); it is highly unlikely they would have approved of the current Supreme Court, which features a majority of practicing catholics, including Scalio.

Those people who do value a secular society—e.g., one based on reason and democratic politics instead of religious dogma—might ask themselves whether Justice Scalia should be held accountable for such un-American comments and behavior.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Res Publica

"Jefferson's beliefs in property and limited govt. helped him form the "Democratic-Republican" party and these beliefs were passed on to the gop."

Not exactly. Republican in those days meant anti-monarchist and really anti-theocracy--the American revolutionaries, like the French, fought against the King and the state churches, whether English or catholic. It is only later that the American "republican" means conservative fundamentalist and believer in capitalism. While I agree Jefferson did support the right to private property to some extent, he was not some Reaganite conservative. He objected to Hamilton's ideas on finance (the re-creation of the British models), as well as to Hamilton's arguments for the British models of Law and the courts. I think Jefferson was sort of anti-capitalist and secular, though not exactly socialist--perhaps one could call that frontier mercantilism. Were TJ to have witnessed the 20th century I believe he would have been an Orwellian type--skeptical of both right-wing Capitalism and fascism, and statist marxism.

Here's to furthering Jeffersonian ideals in 2006, and defeating fundies, whether Catholic, prot., or marxist.
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