Sunday, February 28, 2010

Switching Back

A recent visitor suggested that I switch back to writing on the blog

The rationale is that this title more accurately represents the mood of people today. That commenter thought that I needn't worry about the title implying that I'm any kind of prophet. That's the reason I made the switch some time ago, and wrote about why on the Voice blog and referring visitors to Cape Cod Lighthouse.

So, if you've been good enough to visit the blog,
you will be able to read my most current thinking on matters which I find important enough to write about at A Voice Crying in the Wilderness.

Thanks for your interest,and I hope that you will take the time to write comments.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Religious Controversy

"The Jesus Mysteries" is a book published in 1999 which looks at the history of paganism, mythology and other strange ideas, and how those ideas came to be embodied in the stories about the life of a man called Jesus.

Here's a summary of the book's message

"The Jesus Mysteries"

by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy

quotes and notes by Vexen Crabtree 2003 Feb 21

The book is a summary of the theories and history of the Dead Sea Scrolls, with a lot of introductory text to each area of study.

Quotes in my website are taken from 2000 paperback edition. Published by Thorsons, London, 1999.

The traditional history of Christianity is hopelessly inadequate to the facts. From our research into ancient spirituality it has become obvious that we must fundamentally revise our understanding of Christian origins in the most shocking of ways. Our conclusion, supported by a considerable body of evidence in our book, The Jesus Mysteries, is that Christianity was not a new revelation. It was a continuation of Paganism by another name. The gospel story of Jesus is not the biography of an historical Messiah. It is a Jewish reworking of ancient Pagan myths of the dying and resurrecting Godman Osiris-Dionysus, which had been popular for centuries throughout the ancient Mediterranean.

The stories told about Osiris-Dionysus will no doubt sound familiar. He is the Son of God who is born to a virgin on the 25th of December before three shepherds. He is a prophet who offers his followers the chance to be born again through the rites of baptism. He is a wonderworker who raises the dead and miraculously turns water into wine at a marriage ceremony. He is God incarnate who dies at Easter, sometimes through crucifixion, but who resurrects on the third day. He is a saviour who offers his followers redemption through partaking in a meal of bread and wine, symbolic of his body and blood. The Jesus story is a synthesis of the Jewish myth of the Messiah Joshua (in Greek Jesus) with these Pagan myths of the dying and resurrecting Godman.

It is hard for us today to imagine the Jesus story being consciously created, but this is because we have misunderstood ancient spirituality. Myths were not seen as untruths as they are now. They were understood as allegories of spiritual initiation, which encoded profound mystical teachings. Reworking old myths to create new ones was a standard practice in the ancient world.

The conquests of Alexander the Great had turned the Mediterranean world into one culture with a common language. This created an age of eclecticism, much like our own, in which different spiritual traditions met and synthesized. Jewish mystics of this period, such as Philo Judeas, were obsessed with synthesizing Jewish and Pagan mythology. In light of all this, it is actually no surprise that some group of Jewish mystics should synthesize the great mythic hero of the Jews, Joshua the Messiah, with the great mythic hero of the Pagans, Osiris-Dionysus.

At the time, both Pagans and Christians were well aware that the Jesus story was a myth. The early Christians, known as Gnostics, understood the Jesus story as allegory, not history, and even called Jesus by the names of the Pagan Godman. The Gnostics were brutally eradicated by the Roman Church in the 4th and 5th centuries, and since then we have believed the official propaganda that these Christians were dangerous heretics who had gone Pagan.

Actually the evidence suggests the opposite is closer to the truth. The Gnostics were the original Christians, just as they themselves claimed. They had synthesized Jewish and Pagan mythology to produce the Jesus story and many other extraordinary Christian myths largely unknown today. The Roman Church was a later deviation, which misunderstood the Jesus story as history. It was, as the Gnostics said at the time, an imitation Church teaching a superficial Christianity designed for the masses.

Roman Christianity, and all its subsequent offshoots, is based on the idea that if you believe in the existence of an historical Jesus you will go to heaven when you die. For the Gnostics, however, Jesus is an everyman figure in an initiation allegory. They taught that if you yourself go through the process of initiation symbolized by the Jesus myth, you would die to your old self and resurrect in a new way. The Greek word we translate as resurrect also means awaken.

For the Gnostics, Christianity was about dying -- the idea of giving up your mortal body and awakening to your immortal essence as the Christ within ­- the One Consciousness of the Universe. This mystical enlightenment was not something that happened after death, but could happen here and now.

The historical figure of Jesus has been so central to Western culture that it is hard to question his existence. As soon as we hear his name we can see him in our mind's eye, in his flowing white robes, with long hair and a beard. Yet this picture of Jesus was not created until the 8th century. Early portrayals of Jesus show him clean-shaven with short hair and wearing a Roman tunic. St Paul says that long hair disgraces a man, so presumably his image of Jesus was not the same as ours.

The fact is that everything we think we know about Jesus, like this romantic picture of the bearded saviour, is a creation of the human imagination. Actually there is barely a shred of evidence for the existence of an historical Jesus and this dissolves on closer inspection. Paul, the earliest Christian source, shows no knowledge of an historical man, only a mystical Christ. The gospels have been thoroughly discredited as eyewitness reports. Other bits of traditional evidence, such as references to Jesus by the Jewish historian Josephus, have been shown to be later forgeries. If solid evidence had existed, there would have been no need to have created such fabrications.

A little over a century ago most people believed the story of Adam and Eve to be history. To most thinking people today its is obviously a myth. We predict that within a generation a similar revolution will have taken place in our understanding of the gospels. People will look back at the beginning of the 21st century and be amazed that a culture with the technology to travel to the moon could see the fabulous story of Jesus as anything other than a myth. However, we do not want to dismiss the Jesus story as nonsense. For us it is truly the greatest story ever told, because it has been thousands of years in the making. It is a perennial tale that has fascinated the human soul since the dawn of time.

Whilst our ideas clearly rewrite history, we do not see ourselves as undermining Christianity. On the contrary we are suggesting that Christianity is in fact richer than we previously imagined. According to the original Gnostic Christians, the Jesus story is a perennial myth with the power to impart the mystical experience of Gnosis, which can transform each one of us into a Christ, not merely a history of events that happened to someone else two thousand years ago.

Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Tale of Three Generations

'Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.' That's an old chestnut shibboleth which more or less accurately describes the seemingly inevitable macro cycle of a business history. A person with a vision and/or a compelling need to keep body and soul together rolls up his or her sleeves, works long hours and founds a small business which finds a need in the market place and establishes a viable niche. The first born inherits the leadership of the small company and expands it, improves it, brings it up to date with new technology, enlightened awareness of how to keep the team of employees together and pulling as one. The third generation moves in and milks the company for personal satisfaction, exhibiting none of the qualities of innovation and perseverance of the previous two generations, but all of the self serving habits of one who feels entitled.

The following generation has to roll up its sleeves and start over.

Here's Tom Friedman's Sunday Times column which chronicles how this is working out in our society today. Except for using his column yet again to give a seemingly obligatory periodic plug to his friend Michael Mandelbaum, Friedman provides a pretty good summation of what we're dealing with in our economy today.

Perhaps President Obama has not yet realized that he's that fourth member of the family on whom falls the need to roll up its sleeves and start over.

George W. Bush certainly lived up to his role as the profligate third generation who milked the thing dry for his own pleasure.

It's not lost of many of us that George W. actually is that member of the third generation, the first being his grandfather who amassed a fortune, the second his father who understood the need to be a good steward of that fortune. George W. Bush is the silver spoon, spoiled brat who exhibits all the characteristics of the entitled one. That we actually survived, albeit barely, his bought and paid for presidency is a tribute to the underlying strength of the people who make up this country.

(For those of you who require specific facts to support the claim that George W. is the true embodiment of that profligate third generation, read my recent post about Mark Shields' column on the subject. )

Obama needs to call on the experience and skills which he honed as a community organizer in Chicago, and employ those skills at the national level. By doing so he will gain the admiration and trust of the American people, who desperately want to be led by someone who understands and who demonstrates, not just proclaims, that he knows what needs to be done in times that call for starting over.

By doing so, in contrast, Obama would expose the selfish and out of touch GOPhers as the profligate third generation they truly are.

It's not the role that Obama wanted to play as demonstrated by his attempts to act like a second generation leader, promoting huge initiatives, like reforming health care, which require a still healthy economy to support them. It's fallen on him to be a kind of new founder, a first generation type who, not just figuratively for photo ops, actually rolls up his sleeves.

Behold, he makes everything new again. In that sense he really could be The One.

Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How Soon We Forget, to our Peril

Here's Mark Shields' important contribution to what should be the true public discourse about what has happened to the economy under the GOP and the Dems. If he got his facts straight no one should give any credence whatsoever to the idiots at the CPAC conference which was held this week.

As I've written recently on this page, those politicians and party hacks who call themselves Conservative are trying to win the support of the public by hypocritically shouting lies, believing that repetitious loud volume hollering can cover up the facts they want and need to hide.

One can only hope that there is still a sufficient number of street wise and alert Americans who see through this bluster, and recognize people like Beck, Limbaugh, Palin and Pawlenty to be the dishonest buffoons they truly are.

Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Opinions of Two Rational Journalists

E.J.Dionne and Ruth Marcus offer their fairly rational opinions on Congress and today's politics in the Washington Post. It's heartening that these two journalists continue to state their moderate/progressive views in a newspaper which is inexorably becoming the print version of Fox News.

Neocons Fred Hiatt, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Gerson, William Kristol, Marc Thiessen, to name some, outnumber moderate progressives like Marcus, Dionne and Eugene Robinson.

Click on the following links to read what Dionne and Marcus have to say. These two pieces were posted on TruthDigg.

Ruth Marcus:

E.J. Dionne:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Words and Meanings; Often in Conflict

Here's a fascinating piece on how words can have different meanings to different folks.

In the DADT argument fewer people were willing to support homosexuals for serving openly in the military than gay men and lesbians women. Huh?

My view has it that the word "homosexual" still connotes a generalized sinful life style to many straights, especially the so-called Conservative, white Christianist fundamentalists, while the terms "gay men and lesbian women" connote actual human beings who somehow are given a pass by the
great unwashed.

Reminds of "Get the guvment hands off my Medicare". Conservative today really means "Don't require me to think, and don't fix 'it', because I don't want to admit' it's' broken.

God help us, nobody else will. And I'm agnostic.

Lighthouse Keeper

Conservatives Against Conservation

Here's a good piece from Andrew Sullivan on the disconnect between Conservatives and conservation.

He refers to the older generation of Conservatives as most likely to be blind to the destruction of the planet inherent in their misguided head- in -the- sand "view". If that older generation were prohibited from indoctrinating their offspring in those misguided opinions we might be rid of those opinions in a generation or two.

Clearly that's not going to happen. Destructive as well as constructive cultural memes are passed on by both the blessings and the sins of the fathers. We see that in the perpetual and never ending hatreds around the globe as well as the absurd unwillingness to acknowledge the signs of self-destructiveness all around us.

Lighthouse Keeper

The Onion Provides Today's Mental Health Break

Here's The Onion's offering on what to do about loveless marriages. Make them illegal? If it gets to the Supreme Court should some of the justices recuse themselves? Enjoy.

Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mental Health Break, Thanks to Gail Collins

Ya gotta love 'er. She helps me not miss Molly Ivins quite so much.

Do yourself a favor and read today's Gail Collins piece in the Times.

Lighthouse Keeper

There's No End to Mystery

I am agnostic when it comes to religion, so this piece by Greta Christina appeals to me.

I'd like this to be an open thread. Jump in everyone.

Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Creation Begins at Home

Here's an article about an idea that really excites me, the idea that we create our own reality, that the Universe is a construct of our minds. The author uses his experience of waking from a dream to help us understand what he's talking about.

This is consistent with my own belief in the idea that Man created God in his own image.

Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, February 7, 2010

DADT: Repeal.The.Damn.Law

Here's Frank Rich's excellent piece on this anachronistic legislation.

Seems politicians, at least those who still have their faculties intact, do pay attention to the mood of the public.

They milk the prejudice cow as long as they can, but come to understand that they are milking a dead cow when they realize that the public moved on when what little milk which was left for a time had turned sour.

This piece deserves a full read.

Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, February 5, 2010

Out of Timeouts

Wasserman's cartoon in today's Boston Globe is yet another proof that a picture is worth a thousand words.

What to do when you're in the red zone, it's 4th and goal at the 1, both the play clock and the game clock are down to two seconds, you're out of timeouts and all your teammates are about to be called for illegal motion for running off at the mouth?

Lighthouse Keeper

"Banksters"; Perfect Addition to the Lexicon

Andrew Cuomo is taking on the banksters.

What a great new word.

Lighthouse Keeper

Domestic Terrorism

If one of the aims of a terrorist is to bring the normal function of a government to a halt, surely Richard Shelby(R, AL) qualifies for the label.

He's holding the US government hostage by putting a hold on 70 presidential appointees, something a senator can do based on an arcane Senate rule.

His beef: He accuses the White House of holding up a multi billion dollar defense contract which Alabama had hoped to land.

Shameful. How do such rules come into being? That's on top of the filibuster rule which stops virtually all legislation. Talk about time for a change.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"The More Things Change---------

-------the more they stay the same."

Tip of the hat to Frank Fowles, my friendly Mainiac, for putting me onto this piece about history.

People don't change. Only the specifics of the circumstances in which they find themselves change.

Here's an interesting comparison of French history of fifty years ago with our own today.

Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hedges: Objectivity; The Disease of American Journalism

Here's an essay by Chris Hedges which leaves me confused, though I'm having a difficult time expressing why and how. He seems to contradict himself, but perhaps it's more about my not understanding what he's saying.

On the one hand he seems to be decrying the lack of reporter's empathy in submitting stories, or more accurately reporter's empathy being written out of their stories by editors who fear offending those who grant access to their reporters and/or provide advertising revenue.

This might be called the Tyranny of Objectivity; a claim that Hitler is an ogre balanced by a claim that Hitler is a prince, to use an example Hedges cites from the past. He seems to be saying that objectivity obscures truth. Truth is that Hitler was an ogre.

In his last paragraph he says that we won't be better off when these "fact based" institutions fail. That's the thought that I can't seem to reconcile with his earlier criticism. Fact based reporting seems to me to be a positive thing, but he seems to be using it in an accusatory, pejorative way.

Please use the comments option at the end of the post if you think you can help me out here.

Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Renaming the Super Bowl

All college football bowl games these days have commercial sponsors. Why not "Professional" football?

(It's really not professional in the sense of talent and ability, but professional in the commercial sense. All participants are paid help, however amateurish their skills. )

And so I suggest that CBS and the NFL recognize and acknowledge this by renaming the Super Bowl the 'Focus On The Family Evangelical, Witnessing and Proselytizing Super Bowl'. Call a spade a spade, and propaganda, propaganda.

With my TiVo I regularly record my game of choice and delay watching it long enough so that when commercials come on I can fast forward past them. You can't do that if you watch a game in real time. It only takes about five minutes of delay to arrange this.

Next Sunday I will give myself this option. Truth be told I do want to experience one episode of the 'Tim Tebow Thirty Seconds of Sharing' show, if only to be able to discuss it honestly if necessary sometime.

BTW, I read somewhere recently that the law of the land where his mother was pregnant with him made abortion illegal. If so she had no choice in the matter unless she was willing to break the law. And if she had had a legal choice she would have made her decision not to abort within a Pro Choice philosophical or religious belief/conviction system.


Lighthouse Keeper

My Kind of Cleric

Here's an ode to Howard Zinn which I found moving.

I do hope that the Rabbi's idea comes to fruition this July 4th.

Lighthouse Keeper

The Headline Says It All

Here's a most revealing headline. "Can Palin raise enough money to win in 2012?"

The implication is clear: enough money will buy you anything; experience, values, talent, honesty, integrity be damned.

I'm reminded of the old joke, 'Everything I have is for sale except my wife and my dog, and I'm not so sure about my wife'.

Geesh, what a world.

Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Matt Taibbi; Today's Must Read

Here's a terrific piece by Matt Taibbi on David Brooks' hypocrisy.

He's to be thanked for drilling beneath Brooks' writing about populism
and exposing it for the bull shit it really is.

Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, January 29, 2010

Schadenfreude Lives

You just have to read this piece by Roger Cohen in today's Times.

He mocks up events in 2040, when China has replaced the US, and the US has exited stage right and left.

Fantasy? Perhaps not, if you believe as I do that people don't change; only the labels change.

I smiled as I realized that I was enjoying a schadenfreude moment.

Lighthouse Keeper

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, David Brooks Style

As I was reading through David Brooks' column in today's Times I almost began to believe that he was speaking real truth to power, but I also began to be on the lookout for his usual disguised wolf's teeth hidden somewhere in the sheep's clothing.

Sure enough, after talking sense to lure in the progressives and the independents, he showed those fangs, if only in a brief and fleeting expression.

Look for it toward the end where he asks Obama if he, as the second coming of Ross Perot speaking truth to the country, is willing to offer a tax increase on the lower 98%. Shameful, deceitful hypocrisy David Brooks style.

Lighthouse Keeper

The Party of No

Here's a TPM piece about a strict party line vote on fiscal discipline. Guess which party voted for it. If you said the GOP you'd be wrong.

The GOPhers rant daily about deficit spending, blaming all of it on the Democrats. Then all forty GOPher senators voted against a pay as you go bill.

The GOPhers are only interested in blocking anything the Democrats want done. Screw the voters. Screw the country. It's politics only baby.

Any questions?

Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Over-Educated? How Stupid Is That?

Here's a great example of terrible journalism, if you could even call it journalism.

I don't know anything about Sam Stein except for this really stupid, ignorant, class clashing claim.

Who qualifies to be among the over-educated? Clearly Stein need not worry about being included if that label has anything to do with intelligence.


Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We Go Forth on the Feet of Heretics

Here's an obituary for Howard Zinn who passed away today at age 87. He didn't leave much on the table.

Lighthouse Keeper

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bob Herbert Gets It Right

Start of rant.

This column in the NYTimes by Bob Herbert says it all. He speaks for me.

I've often said that GOPhers fall in line and Dems fall all over themselves.

But the real message in Herbert's column is that Obama hasn't really changed anything that much.
He's being rolled by the Pentagon and Neocons, he's being rolled by the drug and health insurance companies, he's being rolled by his own Congress on several issues, he's continuing Bush secrecy policies, etc.. Change, what change? Some way it would have been worse had McCain won. How much worse? I don't know.

GOPhers only position is to take a position opposite Obama, regardless of the issues. Obstruct! And they make no bones about it. Par example: Jud Gregg's comments, threats, about reconciliation.

End of rant.

Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Frank Rich Gets It Right

Here's a column by Frank Rich in today's NYTimes.

I think it is today's Must Read.

If Obama, unlike W, reads the papers I sure hope he reads this piece.

Lighthouse Keeper

Mental Health Break

Here's a charming, tongue in cheek, wishful thinking piece which tells a truth.

That truth is "---we all want a wife", even wives.


Lighthouse Keeper

Friday, January 22, 2010

Is Main Street Now Totally Screwed?

According to this summary of the state of the union by Andrew Sullivan on his Daily Dish blog for Atlantic Magazine it seems so.

I appreciate his getting all this shit together. It's a powerful list of just what has screwed us.

Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This cartoon says it all.

Lighthouse Keeper

Finally Paul Volcker Gets Obama's Attention

Here's some encouraging news. Paul Volcker who has been able to be objective about big banks, even though he has known the major players for years, is starting to influence Obama that there need to be regulations which reign in high risk taking on the part of the banking industry.

Geithner and Summers are too chummy with the big fish in the big pond.

Lighthouse Keeper

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Don't Get It. Clearly I'm Out of Touch.

I am really at at loss to account for how and why Martha Coakley was defeated in her bid to succeed Ted Kennedy in the US Senate.

Please enlighten me.

It's not lost on me that though I sign my posts as Lighthouse Keeper, there exist those who do their best to hide themselves from the light, which they know and fear will expose them for who and what they truly are.

Lighthouse Keeper.

The French, Hugo Chavez and Haiti

Here's a report of a government minister of an assumed ally, the French, claiming that the US efforts to help Haiti are all about occupying Haiti. Seems our guys, who are trying to make the best use of a damaged airport, waved off a French plane, which landed safely the next day.

In a recent post where I exposed my concern about this possibility I wrote that I expected those who hate us and our elected officials for whatever reason, be they terrorists or GOPhers, would make this kind of accusation.

I really didn't expect to read that the French had taken such a cheap shot.

They now have earned the dubious distinction of being lumped together with Hugo Chavez for claiming that the US is using token and grossly insufficient numbers of aid workers as cover for occupying Haiti.

Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Multi-Level Tragedy That Is Haiti

The most obvious level of tragedy in Haiti is the reality of the huge death toll, the injured not being able to get help, the potentially huge numbers of people buried alive who will not be found in time, and of course the lack of potable water, food and medical supplies.

Those food, water and medical supplies apparently have arrived, but mob rule is a huge problem preventing those who want to help the individuals who make up the mob from being able to do so.

Emerson wrote: "The mob is man voluntarily descending to the nature of the beast".

It's tragic that marshal law is likely the only way to stop mob violence, meaning that those upholding marshal law can shoot to kill the beast if necessary.

Who should instigate marshal law? Since the Haitian government seems to have ceased to exist itwould have to be another state taking over. I hope a state other than the US takes charge. If we were to do it those who detest our government, terrorists and the GOP, would use it as evidence that our government is a super power bully, and is trying to take advantage of a helpless people for nefarious reasons. It doesn't have to make sense, just repeat it over and over again until it becomes a fact to the most dim witted of people everywhere, who seem to outnumber those who see through the propaganda and spin.

A catch twenty-two situation to be sure.

Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Finally, Obama Gets His Back Up. Is It Genuine?

Finally, President Obama has gotten his back up and called out the heads of the financial institutions, often known simply as Wall Street, whose greed has known no bounds, and who have had no regard for the financial plight of the element of our society often known simply as Main Street.

Genuine or political posturing? I wish I could be certain that it's genuine, but I also understand and accept that it might be needed political posturing?

Obama made his populist declaration today with members of his economic advisers flanking him (I wonder to what extent they are actually "at his side"), including Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner. Summers' facial expression was pretty much implacable. Geithner's however resembled a deer in the headlights. Both should be fired, based on conflict of interest and flagrant hypocrisy.

The most conspicuous in his absence was Paul Volcker. He speaks truth to power. Perhaps that's why he was absent in the photo op and his experience, skills and wisdom are absent from what Obama is hearing from his economic advisers who, clearly, are incapable of objectivity in the discharge of their assignments.

Unlike Summers and Geithner, Paul Volcker's years of experience in dealing with people like Blankfein, Dimond, Lewis, etc. seem not to have jaded him in his evaluation of right and wrong.

Question: Why has Obama marginalized, as in publicly excluding Paul Volcker, and has essentially ignored, if not actually dismissed, Volcker's advice and counsel? Tell what you think.

Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

There'll Be A Change In The Weather and a Change in The Sea,

Here's a short piece on right wingers using cold spells to dispel rumors that climate change is real.

I draw your attention to only the first part of this piece, the one about the difference between weather and climate.

I haven't read the other parts of the piece, so I can't speak to them.

This piece makes the crucial point that changes in the weather do not correlate with changes in the climate. So when and if you encounter someone who mocks climatologists' claims of global warming you are on solid ground, not thin ice, if you refute their position with this truism.

It's the change in the sea, a sea change, which is crucial.

Lighthouse Keeper

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Frustration: When What's True Isn't What's Right

Here's a really good essay by Stanley Fish in today's Times on frustration.

We all have our stories. His stories are especially relevant in today's society.

Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Power of Martydom

Here's Sic Semper Tyrannis blog writer Colonel Patrick Lang's, (Army Retired) ,take on OBL getting exactly what he wants. The conflict might be classified as an unholy alliance between enemies who thrive on their mutual need for each other.

Lang writes assuming that OBL is alive. Even SecDef Gates says we haven't had good intelligence about him for years. OBL dead or alive, could be a valuable and most useful Straw Man, used by Al Qaeda to capitalize on and milk his charisma to recruit impressionable, disillusioned and thus vulnerable to propaganda, idealistic young people to take up jihad. That seems to be the case in the Christmas, thankfully inept, airline bomber.

It's said that Jesus was executed by crucifixion, at the hands of Roman authorities who wanted to crush a growing insurrection. Pilate was able to wash his hands of Jesus' blood, thanks to a complicit Jewish hierarchy which also wanted to quash a threat to its powerful and corrupt hold on Jewish society.

Jesus was martyred, and that martyrdom has accounted for millions of adherents to Christianity over two thousand years. OBL is already a martyr, dead or alive, with untold numbers of adherents to his agenda of jihad against the West.

Martyrdom can be a powerful force, especially when those who want to exercise control over vast numbers of impressionable people, use it to promote the acceptance of myths, as historical fact.

Lighthouse Keeper

Acting With Intelligence Versus Acting On Intelligence

The most recent proof that "Military Intelligence" is an oxymoron would be comical if it hadn't been so tragic. It's the the story of the double agent, trusted by his handlers, who blew away himself and seven CIA agents recently.

Here's a Boston Globe column which raises an interesting point of view regarding what Afghans might and might not be capable of in fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. I think H.D.S. Greenway might be on to something here.

Since it's been observed several times recently that if our goal is to bomb Afghanistan back to the Stone Age, the problem is that it's been done already, and we're just reorganizing the rubble.

On top of that, counting on getting uneducated and illiterate people, with little and no experience in forming effective hierarchical, top down, command and control organizations, is a fool's errand. Such institutions assume the existence and participation of trained, disciplined and motivated military and/or security personnel who accept being a part of such organizations.

These peoples' vast experience over hundreds of years is of a tribal nature, a far different cultural animal than we are asking them to accept, embrace and believe in.

As usual, our tunnel vision, black and white, keep it simple bureaucrats and military commanders, could benefit greatly by immersing themselves in the study of cultural anthropology, focused on backward, to our way of thinking, people. They need to understand that because a geographical area on the planet has been given a name, Afghanistan for example, it doesn't follow that such an area is a successful nation state in our sense of the term. At best the successful cultural and political unit is the tribe.

The disconnect, as in trust and respect, between the tribes and the Kabul government is obvious. The only thing they seem to have in common is the assumption that corruption is a part of, and way of living.

As we get more involved in Yemen, as it seems we are, we will find this true in that inhospitable land as well. Al Qaeda needs sanctuaries that tribal cultures can provide; locals they can woo and bribe, who will, as tribes do, protect them as their own. There are many such cultures available to them; those in the lands called Pakistan and Afghanistan are clear examples, and they see Yemen and Somalia as other lands, nations in name only, in which to thrive, thanks to the sanctuaries of inhospitable, to outsiders like ourselves, terrain and indigent peoples.

One of the great ironies in history, as I see it, is that America exists today because tribal like units in the colonies, used guerrilla tactics to defeat the disciplined, trained, hierarchical, top down command and control, British Army, but since then we've reverted to that same top down, command and control strategic model our revolutionary, guerrilla colonists fended off.

It seems to me that, historically, the usual outcome of such conflicts, those pitting close to the land defenders against regimented would be colonial occupiers, could more accurately be described not as defeating the enemy so much as denying it victory.

The psychological, perhaps spiritual, advantage which defenders have over offenders of their lands and cultures is at least two fold, which on first blush might seem to be inconsistent in terms of human nature. One is passion and the other is patience. Passion without patience can be vulnerable to destruction and defeat. Passion with patience is likely to prevail in most conflicts in which humanity is prone to engage.

You heard it here first. I want my epitaph, carved into my headstone, to read, "When Will We Ever Learn?"

Lighthouse Keeper

David Brooks: A Candidate for The Most Pretentious Pundit Award

Here's a link to a David Brooks recent NY Times column.

I have two complainst about Brooks and this column. One has to do with what he claims Tea Partiers are against, and proceeds to lump all kinds of elements of society which the
Tea Partiers are against under the label, "The Educated Class".

Check out what and who he claims the Tea Partiers are against in this segment of his column.

This is a direct quote:

"The tea party movement is a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against. They are against the concentrated power of the educated class. They believe big government, big business, big media and the affluent professionals are merging to form self-serving oligarchy — with bloated government, unsustainable deficits, high taxes and intrusive regulation."

I don't know about you but when I read that he lumps big government, big business, big media and affluent professionals together as what Tea Partiers are against, and read that he sets them off against a group which he labels The Educated Class, I am moved to call attention to his use of class warfare language to ingratiate himself with those who feel disenfranchised, powerless against whatever is big, when big is a synonym for the power of money.

The other complaint and one which cannot really be separated from the first, is Brooks' pretentious use of cultural and anthropoligical ideas and terms in promoting his neo con agenda.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Important Observation Re: Airport Security

I found this comparison beteen Israeli aiport security and our own TSA airport security fascinating. Israel screens potential and would be passengers; our TSA screens for things on potential and would be passengers.

How about that?

Does Israel practice profiling? Since everyone who wants to enter their airport terminal is screened, it seems that the answer to that question is "No".

It can be argued that this is not an apples to apples comparison, based on the difference in the sheer number of passengers passing through the respective airport terminals.
Perhaps it's unrealistic to expect that our TSA could implement an Israeli type passenger screening due to the vast numbers of passenger screenings which would be required.

What got my attention in this article is that apparently the last preboarding screenings of would be passengers at Israeli airport terminals are conducted by well, if not highly, educated professionals who receive additonal education, yes training, to be security guards, as opposed, and in sharp contrast, to the general image we have of our so-called TSA security guards.

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Kevin Drum's Good Idea

Here's a piece by Kevin Drum at Mother Jones with which I heartily agree.

He quotes FDR on politics and hatred during his administration. It sounds so contemporary.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

An Antidote to the Main Stream Media

Here's a link to which, in my not so humble opinion, is an absolutely indispensable source for big picture analysis of what's really going on.

Tom Engelhardt, the publisher of this blog, makes clear what he is trying to do, in his mission statement for "A Regular Antidote to the Main Stream Media".

When I stumbled upon his website several months ago I realized, even before I read his mission statement, that he was doing what he could to wake us up to the distortions, lies, deceipts and propaganda spins which the Main Stream Media contines to publish on it's front pages, above and below the fold, as well as on its editorial and op-ed columnist pages.

Lighthouse Keeper

Michael Klare on Blowback

Here's an important addition to the public discourse on what this new decade will bring to or on us.

I'm especially interested in the fourth of his points, what the planet itself is likely to bring to or on us.

Michael Klare is a futurist thinker and needs to be listened to. He is the author of 'Resource Wars' of a few years back and which I heartily recommend.

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