“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

UPDATE – Top Globe-News editor gone

The Amarillo Independent has unconfirmed reports that Dawn Dressler, executive editor at the Amarillo Globe-News is no longer with the paper.
Dressler’s blog is no longer on the Globe-News’ website.
And Tuesday evening, Publisher Les Simpson and Valerie Bintliff were seen going through Dressler’s office, according to a source close to the situation.
The Independent is seeking further information and awaiting an e-mail response from Simpson.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

America Founded As Muslim Nation

There are many strange and peculiar claims made by fundamentalists and right-wingers to support their notion that America was founded as a "Christian Nation". Many are cherry-picked quotations from the Founding Fathers or arguments about the origins of our laws that are entirely specious. Few "proofs", however, seem as contrived and tenuous as pointing to the original founding documents and claiming that "even the Constitution of the United States was dated ‘in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven’”.

This line is buried in the ratification clause, Article VII, the very last article of the main part of Constitution. This all too slender reed is simply evidence of mere convention, just as A.D. or B.C. is used to indicate periods in history rather than one's religious persuasion. To give "in the year of our Lord" more import is like arguing the Soviet Union (when it existed) wasn't really atheist because it used the Gregorian Calendar out of faith instead of convenience.1

Interestingly, a mere glance at the Declaration of Independence, whether in .pdf form, facsimile, or even the original in Dick Cheney's bunker being used as a coaster beside his easy lounger, shows the very first line proclaiming: "In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776."

What we should first notice is no “in the year of our Lord” but the date and its use of Arabic numerals, clearly an overt reference to Islam. July is, of course, the month named after Julius Caesar, a pagan Roman dictator. The rest of the phrase and the document are written in English, which conservatives have never given a second thought to but which has great significance.

Because fundamentalists believe the King James Bible is the original Bible, they quite naturally think English is a Christian language. They seem totally unaware that English had its origins amongst the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, who were pagans.

Recognizing this, the Founding Fathers, had they truly desired to establish a "Christian Nation" based on Judeo-Christian values, would have chosen a traditional Judeo-Christian language with which to express those values. Hebrew immediately comes to mind (from the Judeo part) thus “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” would have appeared as

“ההצהרה האחידה של השלושה עשר ארה"ב של אמ”.

It must be remembered, however, that the Declaration of Independence was being addressed to the King of England, George III, who, like George Bush II, was not the brightest bulb in the box, and therefore a Hebrew text showing up from the colonies might have been a tad confusing for him.

Another possible language was Aramaic, the very tongue Jesus used, but perhaps there was a dearth of Aramaic speakers in the early colonies. Greek, the original language of the New Testament, was another excellent candidate for Judeo-Christian founding documents, and the famous opening line of the Constitution would have appeared as “Εμείς πληθυσμός των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών, προκειμένου να συγκροτηθεί μια τελειότερη συνδικαλιστική οργάνωση”.2 But as we all know Greek did not catch on in American life and never got beyond college fraternities and sororities.

We are left then with English, and forced to conclude that its use as a pagan language was quite deliberate, and that the Declaration of Independence is in fact a pagan document with a special allusion to the Muslim religion. The only nod the Declaration of Independence actually makes to Christianity per se, and this out of convention, is to the calendrical system established by Pope Gregory (Gregorian Calendar) instead of Julius Caesar3 (Julian Calendar) by setting the date as July 4th instead of June 23rd.4

Let us return now to the non-Christian influences in the Constitution of the United States of America.

Once again we discover that it is written in English, a prime indicator that it is a non-Christian document. Further, we notice that the enumeration of the Articles in the Constitution is in Roman numerals. As the founders were not papists or Jews who still use Roman numerals to date their encyclicals or movies, one can only conclude that this is a reference to the pagan Roman numbering system of Republican and Imperial Rome, which, to put it lightly, found Christians rather suspect.

Coming after the Roman numerical headers we find Arabic numerals to mark the sections and clauses. Once again this is the Founding Fathers' obvious cultural and religious reference to Islam. It even demonstrates their knowledge of history, its import, and their desire to convey it by subtle means: Mohammedanism came a thousand years after the Roman Republic, therefore Arabic numerals come after Roman numerals in their text.

Returning to the headers, the use of the term "Article" to delineate the main parts of the Constitution demonstrates that journalists (who write articles) heavily influenced the writing of the Constitution. This is further confirmed by their plug for a free press in Article I of the Amendments. Some scholars argue that English (i.e., pagan) teachers were involved and making double-entendres on definite and indefinite articles, but as this is too obscure it is not generally accepted.

The subdivision of the Articles into sections and their hidden references has long been ignored. Had journalists or English teachers determined the nomenclature of these divisions one would have expected the use of the terms "Paragraph" and Sub-Paragraph". The word "section", however, means an entirely different group is behind this organizational pattern, and considering that the Land Ordinance of 1785 had been passed just two years before, dividing up new townships into 36 mile-square blocks known as "Sections", we have our answer in land surveyors, developers and property agents crafting a major portion of the Constitution.

Further evidence of land ownership shaping the very heart of the Constitution is on display in the Bill of Rights. Each Article of the Bill is an Amendment, which would go unnoticed were it not drawn from gentlemen farmers and gardeners who used soil amendments every day. Were they telling us, cryptically, that the Bill of Rights was the soil amendment to the Constitution, allowing the nation to grow and flourish?

Finally, had the Founding Fathers wanted to establish a truly "Christian Nation" founded on Judeo-Christian principals they would not have been shy about expressing those principals in the founding documents. They had a perfect model in the Bible, and could have cited each line in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution by chapter and verse (e.g. I Book 8:15). Instead they used non-Christian, pagan, and highly secular terms. They were so averse to Christianity that the clause in Article VI against a religious test for holding office, long interpreted as an enlightened exclusion of religion from government, is in fact a reflection of the Founding Fathers' distaste for Sunday school pop quizzes.

We can now see why the Constitutional Convention was held in secret and few records were kept. In a country heavily populated by fundamentalist Christians a secular government established by Muslim-pagan-journalist-English teaching-land surveying-gardeners might not have gone over so well. Yet over two centuries later right-wing Christians claim the nation's origins as their own. This is either a tribute to the Founding Fathers' clever subtlety, or conservative Christianity's fundamental stupidity.

1 Some Christians did in fact use this argument during the Cold War so that really, we had nothing to fear from a nuclear armed Christian Soviet Union. The Gregorian Calendar is named after Pope Gregory XIII, Bishop of Rome from May 13, 1572 to April 10, 1585.
2 “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union,”
3 Also inventor of “Et tu, Brute?”, Caesar Salad, and Orange Julius.
4 See second sentence of footnote No. 1

Sunday, June 20, 2010

BP's sordid history from BBC

From BBC, the sordid history of BP's corruption:

In 2006, a US congressional hearing accused BP of "unacceptable" neglect of pipelines in Alaska after it was forced to shut down oil operations in Prudhoe Bay because of leaking pipes.

In 2007, the company was fined a total of $373m by the US Department of Justice for environmental crimes and committing fraud.

The fine included $50m relating to a Texas refinery explosion in 2005 that killed 15 people and injured 170 more.

The largest single fine of $303m related to a price manipulation scam in the propane market.

Last October, BP was fined a further $87m for failing to correct safety hazards at the Texas refinery.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jackboots On Rye

The citizens residents (AP style) of Amarillo have pretty strong opinions about private property rights and intrusive government.

Years ago there was a gentleman who had turned his property into a veritable junkyard. For years the neighbors complained that the overgrown lot, ramshackle buildings and rusting hulks constituted an eyesore, health hazard, and threat to their property values. The city commission, after numerous letters asking the owner to tidy up, danced around the idea of hiring someone to forcibly do the deed. The Amarillo Globe News editorialized that whatever menace garbage and rats and filth might pose to certain sensibilities and the public welfare, the commission was correct to proceed cautiously, to tread lightly, on what obviously constituted a government intrusion upon inviolate private property.

And who can forget the brouhaha over the proposed ban on smoking in restaurants and bars? Whatever the merits of public health or lives to be saved, private property rights trumped all. It was argued that such a ban would be government run amuck, a gross violation of Texans' sacrosanct privacy and property rights. If passed it would lead to an erosion of those rights, allowing government ultimately to invade homes and bedrooms without let or hindrance.

You would think then that truly, here in Amarillo, a man's home is his castle, well guarded by law, tradition and opinion, and even should the moat alligators eat a neighbor's dog or child or two, it would be seen, however grudgingly, as their own damn fault as trespassers had it coming.

Imagine then the shock of a private property owner (i.e., yours truly) receiving a letter from the local government (i.e., city hall) charging that said property owner’s property had become a public nuisance.

It was not because of your typical, overlookable "nuisance" like radioactive drinking water or toxins in the food or cow flatulence in the air. It was because, of all things, “HIGH GRASS” (i.e., the lawn needed to be mowed).

This ominous notice was no friendly reminder like those sent by Corleone Home Savings telling you you're a week behind on a 200% interest loan. It threatens action, with another inspection to be held on a date printed in portentous bold numbers, and a contractor to come do the job if you don’t do it, plus an administrative fee and taxes, and a lien against your property if you don’t pay up, all in the name of keeping “Amarillo clean”, a city festooned with plastic grocery bags on every elm and barbed-wire fence.

There is no denying the grass had gotten a bit tall, tall enough to hide the pants on a herd of midget buffalo, if you could get them to wear pants and stand on the Chevy up on blocks, but yours truly has not been well lately and has a bad back, which has impaired yours truly’s lawn-mowering capabilities. That doesn’t carry much truck with the Building and Safety Department, but is the restricted visibility of midget buffalo britches a legitimate reason for limited government to impose itself upon a free people?

Incredibly, the law states that not only are you responsible for the grass on your own property, you are responsible for the grass and weeds between the property line and the curb, which is public (Sec. 8-3-118). That means a private citizen resident (AP style) is being held directly responsible for property in the public domain. Isn’t that socialism, or worse, communism? In Amarillo, Texas?

Perhaps yours truly would have been left alone if yours truly owned a derelict, vacant building downtown, visited only by pigeons and vagrants (9th and Harrison), or like Mr. Cumquat, had a sign in the front yard (conforming to regulations of course) demanding “GET U.S. OUT OF THE F**KING U.N.” (sans ** by the way). These offend certain sensibilities but as they comport with the collective conservative view they escape the ire of the local constabulary. Conservatives regularly excuse their offenses by responding “do not read it then”, or “do not listen to it then”. Why cannot yours truly simply say “if high grass offends thee do not look at it then”?

If conservatives can argue their green cash is free speech, why shouldn’t yours truly argue that high green grass is free speech? Isn’t the city threatening censorship? Isn’t our so-called limited and conservative government attacking our third most precious liberty (the right to bear arms and weapons of mass destruction being first)?

And if yours truly’s high grass is private property, isn’t the government threatening to confiscate it? Under the Constitution the government may take private property for the public good, but not without fair compensation. Yours truly is not being compensated, but being forced to pay for the very taking of that property. That is not only unconstitutional, it is socialistic, and probably communistic, right here in Amarillo, Texas!

Under Texas law yours truly has a right to defend yours truly’s private property, and under the Castle Doctrine yours truly has the right to use force of arms to prevent theft. Should some trespasser come to steal yours truly’s high grass by mowing the lawn yours truly has a right to shoot them down for such an illegal, unconstitutional, socialistic, and communistic act.

If this unconstitutional law is allowed to stand it will only be the beginning. It is the thin edge of the wedge. If a tyrannical government can tell you to mow your lawn what is next? Will the fescue fascists tell you what lawn you can grow? Will the Bermuda Bolsheviks take over your garden? Won’t it all lead, ultimately, to the government invading your home and regulating what size your terrarium must be and how to arrange those little stones around the fake blue pond and when to put water in it so the tree frogs don’t shrivel up? What despotism! What totalitarianism!

Now, you might be thinking by this screed that yours truly may have some objection to Sec. 8-3-118. Actually yours truly does not. It is in the public interest to have such a law. Yours truly would be worried if yours truly saw midget buffalo in the neighbor’s yard, especially if they were wearing trousers. What yours truly truly objects to is city commissioners, business owners, and Amarillo Globe News editorialists pretending that all powers of government end at the property line, while private property owners cannot be compelled to act to protect the public's welfare.

Because of them people still have the freedom to die from secondhand smoke, while the common man, forced by law, toils at his lawn to maintain public taste. Thank goodness corpses do not pile up in the street like grass clippings.

So Ron, Scott, or Les, the next time you’re having your lawn mowed think about all the lung cancer patients who have gone on to greener pastures, and what complete and utter hypocrites you are.