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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Army's Humvee Prone To Rollovers

An article in the military news, Stars and Stripes, reveals serious design flaws in the Army's Humvee (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle or HMMWV). At least 116 soldiers have died in Humvee rollover incidents since the start of the Iraq War. Another 132 soldiers have been injured from the same design flaw. These numbers can be expected to rise as the Army adds more armor plate to a vehicle designed to have canvas doors. 37 soldiers have already died from rollovers in the new armored Humvees.

Humvee 20026

When the Ford Explorer was found to be prone to rollovers Ford was required to recall the vehicle and make repairs. When military deaths are attributed to design flaws in the AM General Humvee no recall is ordered. Of course the manufacturer will say the Army is to blame because they added more armor. Who will resolve the issue that is killing our troops? It is bad enough that they have to contend with roadside bombs (IEDs) but now Humvee rollovers? At least the Army is spending millions to train GI's how to prevent and escape from Humvee rollovers.

It appears the Pentagon has far more important projects to spend taxpayer money on than fixing design flaws in troop transports.

Monday, September 25, 2006

U.S. Military: Who Is In Command?

300 U.S. soldiers in Iraq, from a unit based in Alaska, the Army's 172nd Stryker Brigade, were given orders to return home in July, 2006. Not long after they landed in Anchorage they were told they had to fly back to Iraq. Imagine the stress on those soldiers and their families. It could not have been a pleasant situation for any military family.

Imagine what that cost U.S. taxpayers: 300 x $2000 (RT airfare + other travel expenses). Cost: $600,000

Another 4,000 soldiers that thought they were going home must now stay in Iraq because the Pentagon just figured out their replacements are not ready. Soldiers are supposed to stay home at least one year between overseas assignments.

The math is simple. One year = 12 months. The Pentagon spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year but not one person in that building can count to 12?

U.S. Intelligence (oxymoron) now tells us that the U.S. invasion of Iraq is causing an increase in Islamic radicalism, therefore increasing the threat of terror attacks. The war was not about weapons of mass destruction but rather about creating more enemies of the United States. What a wonderful way to spend $400 billion of your tax money.

Osama Bin Laden once said that he wanted to make his enemies go broke fighting him. It looks like this goal is going to be achieved.

If the Pentagon were a private corporation the CEO would almost certainly be fired for letting such stupid mistakes occur. Who is really in command?

Links

Reuters Article




Friday, September 22, 2006

ODD NEWS: $32k for Breast Massage

Only in Europe, Finland to be precise, would this sort of a case be the talk of the day. The judges there are dealing with a breast fondling case while in the U.S. lawmakers are figuring out new torture methods to use at the Guantanamo concentration camp.

A woman convinced a 74-year-old man to pay her 25,500 euros to let him rub her breasts. Granted, he was allowed to do this on 10 occasions. Nevertheless $3,200 per session was seen as too extreme by the judge. He sent the woman and her accomplice to jail for more than a year.

Here in the United States our President is arguing for the right to use torture techniques that would result in "severe" physical or mental pain, but the senators insisted that the techniques only cause "serious" physical or mental pain.

The senators also gave the president explicit authority to interpret "the meaning and application" of Geneva Conventions Common Article 3.


Washington Post article on torture.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Congress Agrees With Bush Torture Methods

The United States government, that is, the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives and the White House have agreed to redefine the Geneva Conventions and allow some torture. While they were at it, the politicians went ahead with Bush plans to hold trials without letting the defendants see the evidence against them. They also decided that the people who conduct this torture will never have to stand trial or suffer any consequences. The folly of it all is almost beyond belief.

About the only thing these people did not do was vote to eliminate the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights altogether. They are saving that for another day.

The people of the United States are allowing all this to take place in hopes that this will protect them against the next terrorist attack.

In reality, that attack just took place, in Washington, DC today. We have become our own worst enemy.

The saddest part of all is that more than 50% of the citizens of the U.S. will still fail to vote in the next election. Apathy, ignorance, and a lack of concern for what is happening in government is what led to the fall of the Roman Empire. Perhaps it is simply time for this new empire to collapse and become just another failed experiment for the history books...




US may ban sale of cluster bombs to Israel

This is an update to an article submitted earlier this month.

Congress Votes on Cluster Bombs

CIA refused to operate secret jails

The Bush Administration moved the terror suspects to Guantanamo because the CIA and the thugs the CIA sub-contracts to operate the torture chambers refused to continue flogging suspects.

In a mutiny of sorts, the CIA told the White House they would no longer torture. They were afraid they might be prosecuted for conducting torture. Someone must have read something about the Nuremberg War Crime trials.

Europeans are far more concerned about secret prisons, concentration camps (like Guantanamo) and torture chambers than Americans will ever be. This concern is the result of the killing of 50 million people during World War Two. With the exception of Pearl Harbor and some battles in the Aleutian Islands, little combat took place on U.S. soil. Apparently you have to live near torture and combat to be smart enough to try to prevent it from repeating.

(Note: The author lived near Port au Prince, Haiti during two violent revolutions.)

The link included below will take you to an article in the London Financial Times.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Life Is Better; It Isn’t Better. Which Is It?

David Leonhardt of the New York Times writes:

Americans are far better off than they were a generation ago, but the last few years haven’t been very good.


Nearly 10% of all African American men ages 25 to 29 are in prison. The U.S has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Over 2 million people are currently behind bars in the U.S..

Have you seen the state of public schools in Baltimore, D.C., Cleveland, Philadelphia, New York or even inner-city Lincoln, Nebraska?

The U.S. infant mortality rate ranks down there with Croatia and Cuba.

Each month Americans roll an average of $10,000 in credit card debt at 17% interest.

The U.S. National Debt is over $8 trillion dollars.

40 million Americans have no health insurance whatsoever.

2,691 U.S. Dead in Iraq
20,000 U.S. Wounded in Iraq

George Bush is advocating changes to the Geneva Convention Article on torture.

It is time someone looked beyond the contorted, contrived numbers, like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index, or U.S. Census Bureau figures. This nation is teetering on the brink of a precipice that politicians and bureaucrats refuse to acknowledge. When reality does catch up with the United States the repercussions will impact the entire global economy, i.e. world population, for decades.

It should be no surprise to anyone that other nations are calling the U.S. president the devil.

Some Links To Sources:

Prison Statistics
Iraq War Casualities



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Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed 'hors de combat' by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) taking of hostages;

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.


(2)The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

War Crimes Act

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 118 > § 2441

§ 2441. War crimes

(a) Offense.— Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.

(b) Circumstances.— The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing such war crime or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).

(c) Definition.— As used in this section the term “war crime” means any conduct—

(1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;

(2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;

(3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict; or

(4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Draft

It is only a matter of weeks now. Shortly after the next election Congress will vote to reinstate forced military conscription commonly known as the draft.

There are many reasons the U.S. Military can no longer sustain the required numbers of troops merely with a system of recruiters. The Iraq War has gone on too long, too many men and women in the service have already completed repeated tours of duty. The casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan, deaths and wounded combined, are too great. These numbers have depleted combat units and discouraged the poor from sending their children into the military.

There is also the issue of those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, it simply is not right to force these people back to the Middle East. Americans are compassionate in this regard.

Military leaders cannot continue to execute battle plans without the necessary number of trained forces in each unit. The recruiters have not been meeting their original goals or the constantly revised goals for critical branches of the armed services. The Marines and Army are in need of more fighters. There is a critical shortage of specialists in medical, intelligence, and computer positions in the military. The military just changed the rules to allow people up to age 42 to enlist.

The President's plans to invade Iran must also be factored into future military requirements. Just as with the Iraq War, promises of a short war cannot be believed by the generals that must train and supply troops.

The American people will be scared down the path to approving forced military conscription. Many of the politicians that vote to activate the Selective Service System will be lame ducks, that is, congressmen and senators already voted out of office but serving out their terms. If the Democrats win control of the House the departing Republicans will surely leave them with a reinstated draft, people will forget how it all started when the time comes to vote for a new president in 2008.

Look at how carefully the government has been enforcing the Selective Service System if you doubt this thesis. The young men must register when they apply to get a driver's license or they face legal consequences.

Finally, the rich will do what they have done during this war and many other wars. They will use their influence and money to make sure their sons do not have to participate, at least not in a combat role.

This is what the draft means. Rest assured the leaders you voted for are already preparing the patriotic speeches, the guns, the hospitals, and the cemetery plots.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Dies Academicus

(translated from original German and edited, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Dies Academicus is an academic holiday found at many universities. The Dies Academicus serves both to promote the identification of existing university members and the introduction of new students. Often this day is held on the anniversary of the establishment of the university.

Dies Academicus as a day of open doors.

Often this day is used as a study information day, on which the specialist areas, faculties, and independent mechanisms of one university are made available to members of another university and outstanding scholars offer views of their teachings and research.

It usually serves to provide pupils and others interested in the offerings of the university a chance to receive assistance and information. In addition, lectures are offered along with informational meetings, laboratory inspections, etc. It represents thus a form of the vocational guidance.

Dies Academicus as academic holiday

In addition the Dies Academicus also serves as a holiday for current and former members of the university. In its framework at some universities, prizes or awards are given, in order to honour members of the university. Beyond that it offers a chance for the alumni of the university to meet.

Dies Academicus as a sport day

The Dies Academicus can also be a sports day. For all students special tournaments in different kinds of sport are organized, with the winners receiving awards at the end of the day. So that all studying can participate, all other meetings (lectures, seminars) are temporarily suspended. Often one day is selected in June, since the weather is usually good and examination time is still relatively distant.

Transcript of Pope's Speech

(Note: It seems that most media sources are not providing the entire transcript of the Pope's controversial speech given at the University of Regensburg. This seems unusual since a link to the transcript of most other major speeches are usually provided by major media outlets.)

Transcript of Papal Speech at Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg

Your Eminences, Your Magnificences, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a moving experience for me to be back again in the university and to be able once again to give a lecture at this podium. I think back to those years when, after a pleasant period at the Freisinger Hochschule, I began teaching at the University of Bonn. That was in 1959, in the days of the old university made up of ordinary professors. The various chairs had neither assistants nor secretaries, but in recompense there was much direct contact with students and in particular among the professors themselves. We would meet before and after lessons in the rooms of the teaching staff. There was a lively exchange with historians, philosophers, philologists and, naturally, between the two theological faculties.

Once a semester there was a dies academicus, when professors from every faculty appeared before the students of the entire university, making possible a genuine experience of universitas - something that you too, Magnificent Rector, just mentioned - the experience, in other words, of the fact that despite our specializations which at times make it difficult to communicate with each other, we made up a whole, working in everything on the basis of a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the right use of reason - this reality became a lived experience. The university was also very proud of its two theological faculties. It was clear that, by inquiring about the reasonableness of faith, they too carried out a work which is necessarily part of the "whole" of the universitas scientiarum, even if not everyone could share the faith which theologians seek to correlate with reason as a whole. This profound sense of coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: it had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God. That even in the face of such radical scepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith: this, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question.

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between - as they were called - three "Laws" or "rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point - itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole - which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason", I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the Word. This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, with logos. Logos means both reason and word - a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist. The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance. The vision of Saint Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: "Come over to Macedonia and help us!" (cf. Acts 16:6-10) - this vision can be interpreted as a "distillation" of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry.

In point of fact, this rapprochement had been going on for some time. The mysterious name of God, revealed from the burning bush, a name which separates this God from all other divinities with their many names and simply declares "I am", already presents a challenge to the notion of myth, to which Socrates' attempt to vanquish and transcend myth stands in close analogy. Within the Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: "I am". This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Ps 115). Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature. Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria - the Septuagint - is more than a simple (and in that sense really less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act "with logos" is contrary to God's nature.

In all honesty, one must observe that in the late Middle Ages we find trends in theology which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit. In contrast with the so-called intellectualism of Augustine and Thomas, there arose with Duns Scotus a voluntarism which, in its later developments, led to the claim that we can only know God's voluntas ordinata. Beyond this is the realm of God's freedom, in virtue of which he could have done the opposite of everything he has actually done. This gives rise to positions which clearly approach those of Ibn Hazn and might even lead to the image of a capricious God, who is not even bound to truth and goodness. God's transcendence and otherness are so exalted that our reason, our sense of the true and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind his actual decisions. As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which - as the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 stated - unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language. God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love, as Saint Paul says, "transcends" knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is Logos. Consequently, Christian worship is, again to quote Paul - "worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Rom 12:1).

This inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history - it is an event which concerns us even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe. We can also express this the other way around: this convergence, with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe.

The thesis that the critically purified Greek heritage forms an integral part of Christian faith has been countered by the call for a dehellenization of Christianity - a call which has more and more dominated theological discussions since the beginning of the modern age. Viewed more closely, three stages can be observed in the programme of dehellenization: although interconnected, they are clearly distinct from one another in their motivations and objectives.

Dehellenization first emerges in connection with the postulates of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system. The principle of sola scriptura, on the other hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith, he carried this programme forward with a radicalism that the Reformers could never have foreseen. He thus anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole.

The liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries ushered in a second stage in the process of dehellenization, with Adolf von Harnack as its outstanding representative. When I was a student, and in the early years of my teaching, this programme was highly influential in Catholic theology too. It took as its point of departure Pascal's distinction between the God of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In my inaugural lecture at Bonn in 1959, I tried to address the issue, and I do not intend to repeat here what I said on that occasion, but I would like to describe at least briefly what was new about this second stage of dehellenization. Harnack's central idea was to return simply to the man Jesus and to his simple message, underneath the accretions of theology and indeed of hellenization: this simple message was seen as the culmination of the religious development of humanity. Jesus was said to have put an end to worship in favour of morality. In the end he was presented as the father of a humanitarian moral message. Fundamentally, Harnack's goal was to bring Christianity back into harmony with modern reason, liberating it, that is to say, from seemingly philosophical and theological elements, such as faith in Christ's divinity and the triune God. In this sense, historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament, as he saw it, restored to theology its place within the university: theology, for Harnack, is something essentially historical and therefore strictly scientific. What it is able to say critically about Jesus is, so to speak, an expression of practical reason and consequently it can take its rightful place within the university. Behind this thinking lies the modern self-limitation of reason, classically expressed in Kant's "Critiques", but in the meantime further radicalized by the impact of the natural sciences. This modern concept of reason is based, to put it briefly, on a synthesis between Platonism (Cartesianism) and empiricism, a synthesis confirmed by the success of technology. On the one hand it presupposes the mathematical structure of matter, its intrinsic rationality, which makes it possible to understand how matter works and use it efficiently: this basic premise is, so to speak, the Platonic element in the modern understanding of nature. On the other hand, there is nature's capacity to be exploited for our purposes, and here only the possibility of verification or falsification through experimentation can yield ultimate certainty. The weight between the two poles can, depending on the circumstances, shift from one side to the other. As strongly positivistic a thinker as J. Monod has declared himself a convinced Platonist/Cartesian.

This gives rise to two principles which are crucial for the issue we have raised. First, only the kind of certainty resulting from the interplay of mathematical and empirical elements can be considered scientific. Anything that would claim to be science must be measured against this criterion. Hence the human sciences, such as history, psychology, sociology and philosophy, attempt to conform themselves to this canon of scientificity. A second point, which is important for our reflections, is that by its very nature this method excludes the question of God, making it appear an unscientific or pre-scientific question. Consequently, we are faced with a reduction of the radius of science and reason, one which needs to be questioned.

I will return to this problem later. In the meantime, it must be observed that from this standpoint any attempt to maintain theology's claim to be "scientific" would end up reducing Christianity to a mere fragment of its former self. But we must say more: if science as a whole is this and this alone, then it is man himself who ends up being reduced, for the specifically human questions about our origin and destiny, the questions raised by religion and ethics, then have no place within the purview of collective reason as defined by "science", so understood, and must thus be relegated to the realm of the subjective. The subject then decides, on the basis of his experiences, what he considers tenable in matters of religion, and the subjective "conscience" becomes the sole arbiter of what is ethical. In this way, though, ethics and religion lose their power to create a community and become a completely personal matter. This is a dangerous state of affairs for humanity, as we see from the disturbing pathologies of religion and reason which necessarily erupt when reason is so reduced that questions of religion and ethics no longer concern it. Attempts to construct an ethic from the rules of evolution or from psychology and sociology, end up being simply inadequate.

Before I draw the conclusions to which all this has been leading, I must briefly refer to the third stage of dehellenization, which is now in progress. In the light of our experience with cultural pluralism, it is often said nowadays that the synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was a preliminary inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures. The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not only false; it is coarse and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity as the Old Testament developed. True, there are elements in the evolution of the early Church which do not have to be integrated into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself.

And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: we are all grateful for the marvellous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific ethos, moreover, is - as you yourself mentioned, Magnificent Rector - the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which belongs to the essential decisions of the Christian spirit. The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.

Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology. Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought - to philosophy and theology. For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding. Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: "It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being - but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss". The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur - this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. "Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God", said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Stock Update: Network Appliance, Tata Motors and Bank of America

Network Appliance (NTAP) is priced at approximately 50 times earnings per share. This maker of storage solutions for large corporations (NTAP equipment is expensive) has 372 million shares out there in the market. It has a sharp management team, led by Mr. Mendoza since 2000. I know Mr. Mendoza is a Fighting Irish Notre Dame grad along with study at Stanford but that does not explain the stock price. Competitor EMC works out of the Boston technology corridor, has over 2 billion shares on the market and trades at 11 bucks a share. EMC has a P/E of 23. Perhaps the financial community sees the younger management team at EMC as a liability. EMC and NetApp both have a profit margin of about 11%, with EMC making that on $10 billion in sales and NetApp around $2 billion in sales. NetApp is a favorite of CIOs and network administrators at companies that can afford their products. The rest of the corporate world figures that saving money on EMC equipment is an acceptable risk.

Tata Motors (TTM) has been selling cars in United Kingdom nations including Australia and England for a few years now. Tata's Safari 4WD model is a real bargain except in India where buyers for a vehicle that expensive often select something more flashy. Of course Tata has other models besides the Safari, that is where the bulk of profits originate. Tata has long manufacturered a heavy truck that can withstand India's road network. Brand recognition in India, a huge Tata corporate family behind it and growing shares of the Far East market (China, Korea) make Tata stock an easy pick for the long term investor.

Bank of America (BAC) continues to offer outstanding dividends for a major global banking operation. In fact they recently increased their quarterly dividend to 56 cents for a $50 share. Find another stock that pays you that much each quarter on 10,000 shares without selling cigarettes to little children (MO). True, BoA sold out of part of China but they still have massive holdings in other nations and rely on far more than the U.S. mortgage or housing market for profits.

The SENSEX indicator of the Bombay Stock Exchange, BOVESPA in Brazil, and BOLSA in Mexico are pointing to excellent years in those growing nations. They will continue to benefit from deals made with China and nations besides the U.S. through 2007. Find funds that invest there with low expense ratios and you can honestly claim to have a diversified international portfolio!

Note: The author owns what he recommends and is not employed by any institutional investor or NASD-registered entity.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hewlett Packard and Security Outsourcing Solutions

One really has to wonder about Hewlett Packard's choice of Security Outsourcing Solutions for their corporate espionage work. The Security Outsourcing Solutions web site includes this sentence:

Affiliated firms are selected solely on the basses of their expertise, reputation and quality of work product.

Notice anything fishy about that statement? It appears Security Outsourcing Solutions did not even follow their own rules when it came to selecting a webmaster or web page designer. Maybe the quality of their home page is an indication of the type of sloppy work they did on the Hewlett Packard contract. In any event, California State Attorney General Bill Lockyear is not laughing at those crimes.

The World Is Beginning To Doubt The Moral Basis For Our Fight Against Terrorism


General Colin Powell (Retired) writes:

The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis for our fight against terrorism.

BEGINNING TO DOUBT??? The moment the Bush Administration shifted the focus from fighting real terrorists in Afghanistan to stealing Iraq's oil, the world lost all faith in the sincerity of the U.S. to combat global terrorism. The world took serious exception when Dick Cheney's fake Iraqi WMD evidence was presented and rejected at the United Nations. Donald Rumsfeld goes ahead with weak Iraqi War plans anyway and sends too few and poorly equipped troops into battle. Any hope that the U.S. held strong moral convictions was lost when the new U.S. gulags were established in Abu Ghraib, Diego Garcia, and Guantanamo. Now the U.S. has created a new terrorist breeding center in Al Anbar Province. Major nations including China and Russia now want no part in a U.S. nuclear war with Iran. Who could believe any evidence the Bush Administration presents anyway?

Secret CIA torture bases in Eastern Europe, military tribunals where the accused cannot see the evidence against them, and U.S. depleted uranium or cluster bombs dropped on Iraqi and Lebanese civilians all represent the heights of immorality!

Everyone knows Congress will rubber stamp any document the Bush White House places before them. The U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Geneva Convention look like they have been run through a paper shredder. When anyone in the world tries to call a friend in the U.S. they can be sure George is listening. The U.S. government could not even be bothered to listen to their own citizen's cries for help after Hurricane Katrina. The world knows the face the U.S. is showing in every possible arena. The U.S. remains the largest weapon's trafficker. The U.S. continues to develop new nuclear weapons. The rest of the world waits in fear of the next act of violence originating from Washington DC. One has to wonder how much more U.S. empire-building the world will tolerate before grave actions must be taken.

Links To Sources:

Powell Letter
Washington Post article
CNN article
New York Times article
International Cluster Munition Coalition



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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Rise and Fall of the English Language

When I was young I studied French for many years. This scholarship brought benefits later in life when I lived and worked in Haiti. Of course there was also Creole spoken there in Mariani, Delmas, and Ossanite but it was somewhat predictable. While learning French I was taught about the efforts of the Académie Française. This institution attempts to protect the French language from the pollution of other languages. I hardly imagined that the English language would require any such draconian measures.

Now I seriously wonder if I will be able to communicate with citizens of the United States ten years from now. First, there is the threat of teen jargon removing the basic structure of the language. ST now means silent treatment, not an abbreviation for state. Def means definitely, pos means possibility, the def pos of English vanishing all together seems all too real or maybe unreal. It was all covered in gory detail by New York Times writer Ashley Parker recently substituting for William Safire. But we all know teenspeak eventually fades away like Bob Denver's beatnik dialog on Dobie Gillis or perhaps old hyperlinks.

Or does it? I see people everywhere text messaging on cell phones with BTW and LOL all over the tiny screen. All because By The Way and Laughing Out Loud involve far too many thumbstokes. I could go on for ten pages describing the language of phone text messaging. If you know someone under 30 just ask them to explain it to you.

Today I googled a blog and found grown adults firing away in the latest acronym-speak. AFAIK means As Far As I Know. IANACN indicates that I Am Not A Computer Nerd. Untrue in my case so I guess I do not need to learn that one. IANAL tells readers I Am Not A Lawyer or perhaps something far more rude. IANAMD says I never went to medical school. It all seems to have started with a doctor announcing IALAC or I am lovable and capable.

All this slang left me wondering if I was better off in Haiti with only French and Creole vocabulary to master. Just before I clicked the Purchase Tickets button on my favorite travel site I discovered the Urban Dictionary.

Funny or foul, relevant or rather esoteric, this site is the Wikipedia of new words and phrases. The Urban Dictionary seems to accept submissions from many people far removed from Daniel Webster and Benjamin Franklin but it does reflect the times. It may not prevent me from going back to Port au Prince one day soon but at least I will be able to understand the conversations while waiting to go through security at the airport.|;-)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The U.S. and the World Are Not Safer Since September 11, 2001

When politicians want to start wars they talk about how many allies they have around the world. Prior to starting the War in Iraq the Bush Administration declared how close the U.S. was with Australia, England, Spain, Italy, Poland, Turkey and a few other nations. Those nations were convinced the U.S. government was a partner in the effort. For short-sighted politicians seeking election all that really seems to matter is what occurs on U.S. soil.

Now the Republicans are fighting for your vote in the upcoming elections. As part of this campaign to get re-elected they are telling you that they have prevented all attacks since September 11, 2001...on U.S. soil that is.

In other words, we are safer because there have only been attacks and thousands of people killed in Madrid, London, Turkey, Mumbai, Bali, Kabul Amsterdam, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel. It does not matter to Republican politicians that people are getting killed in other countries. It only matters that no attacks have happened in the United States. Keeping the blood off our soil is what matters most.

The people dying overseas at the hands of dangerous militants, driven by extreme religious beliefs, do not matter to U.S. politicians seeking re-election. It does not matter that people in London got attacked last year, that thousands in Madrid, Turkey, Mumbai, Sharm el Sheik, Bali, etc. got blown up since 2001. It does not matter that soldiers of many nations are getting cut down in Anbar or Kandahar provinces. As far as U.S. voters should be concerned the world is safer only because U.S. soil is safer.

U.S. politicians do not even care about U.S. soldiers dying overseas, after all, very few of their own privileged children are serving in the military!

How safe are we when our police and fireman still cannot talk to each other in an emergency?

How safe are we if cargo in passenger aircraft is still not inspected?

How safe are we knowing that most giant container ships are unloaded without inspection?

How safe are we when thousands still enter our country every day simply by walking across a river?

How safe are we really when our own citizens in U.S. cities cannot even count on organized, rapid government assistance in the event of a natural emergency such as a hurricane?

God Bless America is all we hear from our leaders. God help us if we need the help of our few remaining friends overseas some day soon. The U.S. is a disaster waiting to happen. No wonder no attacks have occurred on U.S. soil, we remain our own worst enemy as long as the current politicians are running the country.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Rewards of Teaching


A close friend recently asked me why I put all my best ideas up on the Internet. 'How could I be sure someone would not steal my ideas for their own profit?"

I smiled and even chuckled a little at that question before I could answer.

'I have been a business instructor for more than 20 years,' I responded, 'All that time I have encouraged people to copy what I show them. I want them to mimic what I do in public.'

People rarely have enough time to talk for very long these days and my friend was soon on her way. Her idea lingered a little longer after she was gone.

Honestly, I never encourage people to copy what I have done and call it their own. Instead, I ask students to begin learning by copying the examples I use in the classroom. By showing them how the tools work and what ideas have worked for me and others in the past, I encourage them to explore possibilities for the future.

As far as making money goes, some of my students have used my training to make millions. I know this because some have written or come back to thank me and others have become leaders in the fields I first led them into. Most of my students are already succeeding in their careers when they arrive in my classroom. I am there to help them transition into some new technology or business process.

I spend weeks preparing for the few hours I have to convey some skill or concept. I work closely with management to determine how they want employees to perform a particular task. During that time I may or may not be paid for every minute, that is irrelevant to me at this point in my career. What is important to me is doing the job accurately. I want the business people that use my manuals and attend my training to leave the classroom confident that they can perform the new task expected of them.

In this fast-changing world it is confidence and the right skills that build enterprises that endure. For business relationships to last we all need to know how to do our jobs and convey that assurance to other people. Copying exactly what the instructor comfortably demonstrates to you in the corporate classroom is the right thing to do. Creativity will follow in time, trust me it always does.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Corporations, Governments, and People Spying On You


Given all the attention on the government's attempts to spy on citizens it is not surprising that corporate spying is overlooked. The Hewlett Packard spy scandal is causing the public's attention to shift a little in that direction. Washington Post article Most people rarely think about how much time and money corporations spend spying on customers. In fact, many people willingly open up their private lives to public scrutiny without giving it a second thought.

How many customer loyalty cards do you carry? Customer loyalty programs include grocery store, drug store, and office supply discount cards. How many branded credit cards do you use? These include credit cards issued by hotels, airlines, and many other firms where you spend your money. How often do you fill out detailed surveys just to enter a sweepstakes you stand little chance of winning? Do you complete and submit those warranty cards included with every new product? All of these techniques are really just tools corporations use to find out the most intimate details of your lives. Discount cards, credit cards, and surveys just scratch the surface of the behemoth of corporate espionage.

Data storage firms like Choicepoint gather mountains of data on individual citizens, all for eventual sale to corporations. Every time you use a credit card they store a record of exactly what you bought and where you bought it.

Insurance companies record every health, auto, and homeowner insurance claim. They also force state motor vehicle agencies and all hospitals to submit every record. Insurance firms share this data with every other insurance company as well as your employer.

Every time you visit most major Internet sites other companies like Revenue Science, Doubleclick, Atlas Marketing, and QuestionMarket run tools on your computer to allow them to follow every click you make. These tools, typically JavaScript scripts, have names like atdmt.com, revsci.net, doubleclick.net, and questionmarket.com.

Phone companies maintain a record of every number you dial. Internet Service Providers record every e-mail address where your send your e-mails. This data is bought and sold just like oil or groceries, only in special business marketplaces.

Auto manufacturers install black boxes on all new cars. These boxes record exactly how you drive your car. Every time you take your car to the car dealer they download this data into their computers. They sell this data to auto insurance firms.

Lately the U.S. Government has been forcing more and more corporations to surrender all this data in order to 'protect' citizens. They add this business data to all the information collected by the Social Security Administration, I.R.S., Department of Labor, Department of Defense, and Census Bureau. One result of this government spying is a blacklist of over 500,000 people they have arbitrarily decided are terrorists.

All of this activity is supposedly legal despite the 4th Amendment to the Bill of Rights prohibition on 'unreasonable searches and seizures.' The 4th Amendment reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Computer hackers often look like rank amateurs next to corporate spies like Choicepoint. The U.S. government, with the Bush Administration leading the charge, is trying to spy even more. However, computer hackers and other criminals all around the world regularly manage to steal all the data mentioned in this entire article. It all makes you wonder when this giant house of cards is going to come toppling down on the people that made it all possible in the first place, you and me.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Going Mobile: Entertainment Industry Futures and Apple's iMovie


The news is out now. Apple Computer's iTunes service is about go wide screen. Apple will start offering many full-length feature films online. Apple Computer is about to introduce a video iPod, with a larger screen that will be show movies in sharper resolution than current iPods now allow.

The details are to be revealed on September 12 at the Apple Expo in Paris. The movie download service begs to be given a new name. iMovie, iFilm, iVideo and iFliqs were quickly offered up by my students. We checked the web domains out and determined iMovie will be the name of the new service. The iMovie application is already installed on MAC computers so the choice is clear.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is a board member of Walt Disney Corporation. Jobs owns a few shares of stock in Disney (DIS) and Apple Computer (AAPL). Some Disney movies will no doubt be made available early on the new iMovie service.

What is not so certain is the future of competing media services. The music industry is experiencing a major shakeup mainly because of internet music downloads. Legal or illegal online music services and discount retailers have caused traditional sources like Tower Records to close shop. iTunes killed the record stores. Will iMovie kill the movie theater or video rental business? For the short term the answer is 'no.'

The quality of 'legal' video content downloaded through services like iTunes still makes them unsuitable for viewing on high definition televisions. Will the new James Bond movie really be so interesting on a tiny iPod screen? Home movie systems require an image and sound quality that can only be delivered by DVD performance at the present time. Theater owners are installing digital projection systems. The movie industry will not relinquish control over content to Apple Computer as quickly as the music industry did.

Competition for Apple's iMovie service is also more robust than current iTunes competition. Competitors include Verizon's FiOS fiber optic television (VZ), traditional cable TV services, and satellite television. NetFlix (NFLX) and Blockbuster OnLine (BBI) are just two of many services that deliver DVD movies to your mailbox. One can even imagine an enhanced version of YouTube.com delivering independent and maybe even mainstream movies through a broadband internet connection.

The last sentence in the previous paragraph hints at where the real future of online movies will be determined. People want the freedom to enjoy entertainment and news where they are right now. DVD players can be carried anywhere. Cars and trucks now come equipped with DVD players. Apple will need to start convincing vehicle manufacturers to put an iPod video socket next to the iPod audio socket that was recently added to many new car models.

The service that provides wireless broadband access to the most major markets around the world, for the lowest price, may be the real winner of the entertainment race five years from now. People of many races and nationalities will demand relevant content in their language, wherever they live. New Bollywood movies must be quickly available in Nairobi as well as Fairfax County or Silicon Valley. Perhaps XM Video (XMSR) or Sirius (SIRI) video satellite services will deliver movies in the near future. Don't touch that dial, stay tuned for more news from your local blog network!

Related News:
CNN article
New York Times article
Washington Post article

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

GOP Senators Vote To Cluster Bomb Civilians


Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to allow U.S. Forces to use controversial cluster bomb munitions on civilian targets. Led by Alaska Senator Ted Bridge to Nowhere Stevens, the Senate defeated an amendment that would have prohibited the use of cluster bombs on civilians.

"For too long, innocent civilians, not enemy combatants, have suffered the majority of casualties from cluster munitions," Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy said. "The recent experience in Lebanon is only the latest example of the appalling human toll of injury and death. Strict rules of engagement are long overdue."

Haaretz article

Originally invented by Nazi German scientists, cluster bombs often leave unexploded ordinance scattered like so many toys across a large area. Children in Vietnam, Laos, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon have suffered and died in great numbers after encounters with cluster bomblets. The tiny bombs are designed to look like colorful balls or small toys so that children are more likely to play with them and get killed. Munitions manufacturers generate incredible profits from the sale of cluster bombs to U.S., U.K., and Israeli military forces. U.S. and foreign manufacturers design several types of cluster bombs so that they can be delivered by artillery units on the ground or dropped from military planes overhead.

Corporations involved in the manufacture of cluster bombs include: Insys Ltd., Lockheed Martin, EADS, Daimler Chrysler, Giat Industries, MBDA, Rhienmetall, RUAG, SAAB, Denel, General Dynamics, L-3 Communications, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Textron. Tens of thousands of Americans enjoy a comfortable living from the sale of these indiscriminate human-butchering tools. Many of the people employed by the sale of cluster bombs actually call themselves "Christians." Most of these individuals have never seen the hospital wards full of child victims of cluster bombs.

Armed forces of many nations now maintain stocks of cluster bombs but U.S, Israeli, and the U.K. forces derive the most pleasure from the use of these heinous weapons.

Learn more about cluster bombs at these sites: Wikipedia
International Cluster Munition Coalition

Bush To Entertain Nazarbayev, Dictator of Kazakhstan

In a speech given on September 5th, 2006, Mr. Bush included these words:

In the 1920s, a failed Austrian painter published a book in which he explained his intention to build an Aryan super-state in Germany and take revenge on Europe and eradicate the Jews. The world ignored Hitler's words, and paid a terrible price. His Nazi regime killed millions in the gas chambers, and set the world aflame in war, before it was finally defeated at a terrible cost in lives.

Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. The question is: Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say? America and our coalition partners have made our choice. We're taking the words of the enemy seriously


Now the White House is planning to meet again with the dictator of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, welcoming him with open arms. Nazarbayev has banned opposing political parties, attacked newspapers in Kazakhstan that dare to challenge him, and pocketed nearly $100 million in bribes. Several Kazakh opposition leaders were mysteriously shot to death. This behavior warrants a state visit to the White House and a stopover at the Bush family retreat in Maine. Washington Post story

In 2004 Bush proudly announced that corrupt foreign officials would be banned from the United States.

However, if you are exporting more than 1 million barrels of oil each day the ban does not apply. This is how Texas Tea trumps human rights under the Republican Party rules. Fascists play by a different set of rules.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Fascism, Islamofascism, and the Bush Administration

Since the end of the Second World War most politicians have tried to avoid any association with the terms 'fascist" or 'fascism.' Invoking ideas associated with Mussolini, Hitler, and Tojo tends to backfire on the speakers that do so. Recently Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and Mr. Rumsfeld decided that they could get away with discussing fascism without drawing any attention to their own style of governance. In a series of planned speeches, Donald, Dick, and George have compared various militant organizations to the regimes of Adolph and Benito. While this is clearly being done to garner votes for GOP candidates in the upcoming U.S mid-term elections, this strategy is more likely to haunt GOP politicians up for re-election. Washington Post story

Since the facist remarks were made, Maryland GOP politicians Robert L. Ehrlich and Michael Steele refused to appear alongside Bush in St. Mary's County. Washington Post story

Before continuing further, it is necessary to examine the meaning of the terms 'fascist' and 'fascism.'

Merriam-Webster defines fascism as "a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition". Merriam-Webster citation

A recent definition is that by former Colombia University Professor Robert O. Paxton:

* "Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."

Paxton further defines fascism's essence as:

* "1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions; 2. belief one’s group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits; 3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts; 4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint; 5. fear of foreign `contamination." Wikipedia entry

It is difficult not to be reminded of the actions of the current Republican-dominated U.S. Administration when reading these definitions. A quick glance gives any observer a picture that includes flag-waving nationalism, torture, suspension of civil liberties, crackdown on immigrants and certainly collaboration with traditional elites. The Bush Administration officials cannot deny they have been ignoring legal restraints, with the President leading the way as he considers himself above the laws. Flagrant violations of the Constitution, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the Geneva Conventions are hallmarks of the Bush Presidency. The extreme restrictions placed on peaceful protestors at the GOP Convention in New York City or at any Bush public appearance also come to mind.

By constantly planting false stories in the domestic and foreign press, the White House has cultivated a reputation for the use of propaganda that would have made Nazi Minister for Public Enlightenment & Propaganda Joseph Goebbels proud.

The deliberate restrictions placed on minority voters and their polling places by Florida's GOP Secretary of State Katherine Harris and Ohio's Ken Blackwell reeks of fascist actions practiced in Weimar Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

The various military actions of the White House have transformed the U.S. into a nation that is constantly at war. Fascists think life is permanent warfare. Mr. Bush has insinuated that his War on Terror will continue indefinitely. The very title of the newest government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, brings to mind Nazi Germany. Ironically, fascists never seem to win the wars they start. Iraq and Afghanistan appear to be the two most recent examples.

Hardly a day goes by without some Bush official requesting to pry deeper into the private lives of the citizens of all nations. Washington Post article

Even the mysticism associated with fascism is evident in this administration. Look how closely the President has allied himself with ultra-conservative Christian notions of Armageddon and the impending return of Jesus Christ. Fascists of the 1930s and 40s colloborated with the Catholic and Lutheran Churches.

In conclusion, Mr. Bush and his supporters have adopted so many of the tactics of fascists that it becomes quite dangerous for them to start pointing their fingers at others. The reflections of their diabolical policies in the mirror of the public eye have become too ominous to ignore.