If you believed the media after having heard me and read my books for years, the question I would ask is, "Why?"
Uh, because you're a liar?
Eighty years after the Scopes trial, in which a Tennessee high-school teacher was convicted of violating a state law against teaching evolution, Americans are still fighting the slur that they share an ancestry with apes.
This time, though, the battle is being waged under a new banner—not the Book of Genesis, but "intelligent design," a critique of evolution couched in the language of science. And in this debate, both sides claim to be upholding the principle of free inquiry. Proponents of I.D., clustered around a Seattle think tank called the Discovery Institute, regard it as an overdue challenge to Darwinism's monopoly over scientific discourse. "To say, as Darwinians do, that everything has to be reduced to a chemical reaction is more ideology than science," asserts Discovery's John West. Opponents, led by the Oakland, Calif.-based National Center for Science Education, regard I.D. as an assault on a basic principle of the Enlightenment, that science must explain nature through natural causes. "Intelligent design is predicated on a supernatural creator," says Vic Walczak, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is challenging Dover's introduction of the concept into biology classes. "That's not science, it's religion."...
A 2002 resolution by the American Association for the Advancement of Science called I.D. "an interesting philosophical or theological concept," but not one that should be taught in science classes. In fact, the Discovery Institute doesn't call for teaching I.D. in school either, only the "controversy" over Darwinism. But most scientists don't believe there is one. The institute's "Scientific Dissent From Darwinism," whose operative sentence reads "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life," has been signed by about 350 scientists. (AAAS has 120,000 members.) Scott's organization has circulated a countermanifesto asserting that "there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is [the] major mechanism ... " As a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, they signed up only scientists named Steve. At last count they had 528.Behe points out that while most Christians accept a God who set the universe in motion according to natural laws, evolution raises more difficult existential questions. People want to feel that God cares for them personally. British biologist Richard Dawkins has written that Darwin's theory "made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." But that's not what most Americans want for their children. Margaret Evans, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, has studied religious beliefs in children and seen the appeal of creationism. "We are biased toward seeing the world as stable and purposeful," she says. "I don't know what to believe," one parent told her. "I just want my child to go to heaven."
Diamond's analysis discounts culture and human thought as forces in history; culture, especially, is seen as a side effect of environment. The big problem with this view is explaining why China -- which around the year 1000 was significantly ahead of Europe in development, and possessed similar advantages in animals and plants -- fell behind. This happened, Diamond says, because China adopted a single-ruler society that banned change. True, but how did environment or animal husbandry dictate this? China's embrace of a change-resistant society was a cultural phenomenon. During the same period China was adopting centrally regimented life, Europe was roiled by the idea of individualism. Individualism proved a potent force, a source of power, invention and motivation. Yet Diamond considers ideas to be nearly irrelevant, compared with microbes and prevailing winds. Supply the right environmental conditions, and inevitably there will be a factory manufacturing jet engines.
Bill Gates, the world's richest person with a net worth of $46.6 billion, is betting against the U.S. dollar.
``I'm short the dollar,'' Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp., told Charlie Rose in an interview in front of an audience of about 200 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. ``The ol' dollar, it's gonna go down.''
Gates's comments reflect the same view as his friend Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor who has bet against the currency since 2002. Buffett said last week that the country's trade gap will probably further weaken the dollar, which fell 21 percent against a basket of six major currencies between January 2002 and the end of last year.
``It is a bit scary,'' Gates said. ``We're in uncharted territory when the world's reserve currency has so much outstanding debt.''
Do you consider intolerance a bad thing? A sin or a hostile trait, perhaps? Something that sounds like the opposite of Jesus' loving, thoughtful attitudes and behaviors as he talked, feasted and prayed with prostitutes and shady characters? Did you take from the parable of the Good Samaritan the lesson that you should be tolerant and accepting of, even go out of your way to help, those who don't believe as you do?
If you answered yes to these questions, you're in for a rude awakening. Conservative Christianity has morphed into Old Testament rigidity and eternally enforced morality, not guided nor even tempered by the interpersonal acceptance, tolerance of social outcasts, and deeper spiritual understanding that Jesus taught and modeled.
Rather than throw up our hands at this ominous glorification of intolerance in conservative churches, sometimes preached on a spiritual level but nearly always enacted at the physical/political level, we'd better discover and understand how their leaders are persuading people to promote curbs on freedom and perpetual "culture war". Only then can we appeal to the moderates within those churches who've gotten swept up into a tide of political antagonism with which they're not really comfortable.
There's a new code for intolerance, and it's not always in-your-face the way James Dobson so often is. Here's an example from the promo for a book by his son Ryan (whom I always pitied after reading about the terrible whippings he endured at the hands of his father, who whipped their tiny dachshund with a belt, as well): Featuring an angry-looking white man on the cover, it's titled simply, Be Intolerant:
Are there times when Christians shouldn't be tolerant? Dobson says yes---if "tolerance" means "willing to accept any version of right and wrong because there is no absolute truth." Find out why this impassioned youth speaker believes Christianity and moral absolutes go hand-in-hand---and why the church must communicate this to the up-and-coming generation.
If SBC Communications buys AT&T, the reunion of two players in the old Bell system could set off a round of mergers in the rapidly consolidating phone industry.
...in the past four years religious conservatives across the USA have learnt a lot about how to present their case: methodological naturalism is just “bias”; this is a battle of democracy against “elitism”.
One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged. Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column,"Ethics & Religion,"[emphasis mine] appears in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed [emphasis mine].
With this column, I complete 20 years of writing ''Ethics & Religion.'' This is a good time to quote some of my critics, and try to answer them.
Richard Brownlee, General Presbyter of South Louisiana was offended by a column that said his denomination took ''steps toward apostasy'' at its General Assembly. He asked me for my ''credentials.'' ''Who authorized you to speak? To whom are you accountable?''
Those are fair questions. He went to a seminary and is far more qualified academically than I, who never went to a seminary. No one authorized me to speak. I am accountable to the newspapers who can cancel this column with only 30 days notice.
Ultimately, I am accountable to you, the readers.
I am a journalist who began my career 40 years ago as a reporter for small papers and was a TIME correspondent. In 1977 I began writing an economic and political column. While doing so, I heard a sermon in which my pastor asked, ''What are you doing to serve the Lord? Consider taking your talent and experience that makes you unique as a person to serve Him.''
That prompted me to consider starting Ethics & Religion. At first, I dismissed the idea because I had not been to seminary. Nor had I covered religion. It seemed arrogant to start a column with no training and no experience. But I had been a reporter covering complex national issues for two decades and I had gone to a good church, which inspired me to serve the Lord.
After 20 years, I feel qualified to judge apostasy. Webster's defines it as ''an abandoning of what one has believed in.''
This week, in a closed meeting with African-Americans, Mr. Bush asserted that Social Security was a bad deal for their race, repeating his earlier claim that "African-American males die sooner than other males do, which means the system is inherently unfair to a certain group of people." In other words, blacks don't live long enough to collect their fair share of benefits....
Mr. Bush's argument goes back at least seven years, to a report issued by the Heritage Foundation - a report so badly misleading that the deputy chief actuary (now the chief actuary) of the Social Security Administration wrote a memo pointing out "major errors in the methodology." That's actuary-speak for "damned lies."
In fact, the actuary said, "careful research reflecting actual work histories for workers by race indicate that the nonwhite population actually enjoys the same or better expected rates of return from Social Security" as whites.
Here's why. First, Mr. Bush's remarks on African-Americans perpetuate a crude misunderstanding about what life expectancy means. It's true that the current life expectancy for black males at birth is only 68.8 years - but that doesn't mean that a black man who has worked all his life can expect to die after collecting only a few years' worth of Social Security benefits. Blacks' low life expectancy is largely due to high death rates in childhood and young adulthood. African-American men who make it to age 65 can expect to live, and collect benefits, for an additional 14.6 years - not that far short of the 16.6-year figure for white men.
Second, the formula determining Social Security benefits is progressive: it provides more benefits, as a percentage of earnings, to low-income workers than to high-income workers. Since African-Americans are paid much less, on average, than whites, this works to their advantage.
Finally, Social Security isn't just a retirement program; it's also a disability insurance program. And blacks are much more likely than whites to receive disability benefits.
Put it all together, and the deal African-Americans get from Social Security turns out, according to various calculations, to be either about the same as that for whites or somewhat better. Hispanics, by the way, clearly do better than either.
|Reality Based||Delusion Based|
|Iraq: No WMDs Found||WMDs Found|
|Social Security is more sound than the budget||Social Security is in crisis|
|Evolution is a science||"Intelligent" "design" is a science|
|Global warming is real||Global warming is an enviromentalist fantasy|
|No link between abortion and breast cancer||Link between abortion and breast cancer|
|SpongeBob is a cartoon character||SpongeBob is the bearer of an "insidious agenda"|
|Making federal tax cuts permanent will cause deficits for the forseeable future||Making tax cuts permanent (and spending cuts) (and ignoring all expenditures for the War On Terror[tm])will halve the budget deficit in five years|
|Diverting Social Security taxes into private accounts will either bankrupt the program or require benefit cuts and only enrich Wall Street with management fees.
||Diverting Social Securty taxes will increase the benefits paid to retirees because the stock market always goes up.|
Under the Chilean program - which President Bush has cited as a model for his plans to overhaul Social Security - the promise was that such investments, by helping to spur economic growth and generating higher returns, would deliver monthly pension benefits larger than what the traditional system could offer.
But now that the first generation of workers to depend on the new system is beginning to retire, Chileans are finding that it is falling far short of what was originally advertised under the authoritarian government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
For all the program's success in economic terms, the government continues to direct billions of dollars to a safety net for those whose contributions were not large enough to ensure even a minimum pension approaching $140 a month. Many others - because they earned much of their income in the underground economy, are self-employed, or work only seasonally - remain outside the system altogether. Combined, those groups constitute roughly half the Chilean labor force. Only half of workers are captured by the system.
Even many middle-class workers who contributed regularly are finding that their private accounts - burdened with hidden fees that may have soaked up as much as a third of their original investment - are failing to deliver as much in benefits as they would have received if they had stayed in the old system.
Dagoberto Sáez, for example, is a 66-year-old laboratory technician here who plans, because of a recent heart attack, to retire in March. He earns just under $950 a month; his pension fund has told him that his nearly 24 years of contributions will finance a 20-year annuity paying only $315 a month.
"Colleagues and friends with the same pay grade who stayed in the old system, people who work right alongside me," he said, "are retiring with pensions of almost $700 a month - good until they die. I have a salary that allows me to live with dignity, and all of a sudden I am going to be plunged into poverty, all because I made the mistake of believing the promises they made to us back in 1981."...
Over all, Chile has spent more than $66 billion on benefits since privatization was introduced. Despite initial projections that the system would be self-sustaining by now, spending on pensions makes up more than a quarter of the national budget, nearly as much as the spending on education and health combined....
The problems have emerged despite what all here agree is the main strength of the privatized system: an average 10 percent annual return on investments. Those results have been achieved by the pension funds largely through the purchase of stocks and corporate and government bonds - investments that helped fuel an economic expansion giving Chile the highest growth rate in Latin America over the last 20 years...
Among the complaints most often heard here is that contributors are forced to pay exorbitant commissions to the pension funds. Exactly how much goes to such fees is a subject of debate, but a recent World Bank study calculated that a quarter to a third of all contributions paid by a person retiring in 2000 would have gone to pay such charges...
overnment officials like Mr. Larraín and Mr. Scolari acknowledge that "commissions are high and need to come down." They say that "more competition is needed" to foster lower fees. But existing regulations frustrate the creation of new funds - something that seems just fine to pension funds that have become a powerful political and economic force.
"The dynamic of the market," Mr. Larraín said, "is one of consolidation and concentration."
If you're going to call a book "The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History," readers will expect some serious carrying on about race, and Thomas Woods Jr. does not disappoint. He fulminates against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, best known for forcing restaurants and bus stations in the Jim Crow South to integrate, and against Brown v. Board of Education. And he offers up some curious views on the Civil War - or "the War of Northern Aggression," a name he calls "much more accurate."
The introduction bills the book as an effort to "set the record straight," but it is actually an attempt to push the record far to the right. More than a history, it is a checklist of arch-conservative talking points. The New Deal public works programs that helped millions survive the Depression were a "disaster," and Social Security "damaged the economy." The Marshall Plan, which lifted up devastated European nations after World War II, was a "failed giveaway program." And the long-discredited theory of "nullification," which held that states could suspend federal laws, "isn't as crazy as it sounds."
It is tempting to dismiss the book as fringe scholarship, not worth worrying about, but the numbers say otherwise. It is being snapped up on college campuses and, helped along by plugs from Fox News and other conservative media, it recently soared to No. 8 on the New York Times paperback best-seller list. It is part of a boomlet in far-right attacks on mainstream history that includes books like Jim Powell's "FDR's Folly," which argues that Franklin Roosevelt made the Depression worse, and Michelle Malkin's "In Defense of Internment," a warm look back on the mass internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II....
Most ominously, it makes an elaborate argument that the 14th Amendment was "never constitutionally ratified" because of irregularities in how it was adopted. This, too, is a pet cause of the fringe right, one the Supreme Court has rejected. If it prevailed, it would undo Brown v. Board of Education and many other rulings barring discrimination based on race, religion and sex. But Mr. Woods does not carry his argument to its logical conclusion. If the 14th Amendment was not properly ratified, neither, it would seem, was the 13th, which was adopted under similar circumstances, and slavery should be legal.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 - A coalition of major conservative Christian groups is threatening to withhold support for President Bush's plans to remake Social Security unless Mr. Bush vigorously champions a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The move came as Senate Republicans vowed on Monday to reintroduce the proposed amendment, which failed in the Senate last year by a substantial margin. Party leaders, who left it off their list of priorities for the legislative year, said they had no immediate plans to bring it to the floor because they still lacked the votes for passage.
But the coalition that wrote the letter, known as the Arlington Group, is increasingly impatient.
In a confidential letter to Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's top political adviser, the group said it was disappointed with the White House's decision to put Social Security and other economic issues ahead of its paramount interest: opposition to same-sex marriage.
The letter, dated Jan. 18, pointed out that many social conservatives who voted for Mr. Bush because of his stance on social issues lack equivalent enthusiasm for changing the retirement system or other tax issues. And to pass to pass any sweeping changes, members of the group argue, Mr. Bush will need the support of every element of his coalition.
"We couldn't help but notice the contrast between how the president is approaching the difficult issue of Social Security privatization where the public is deeply divided and the marriage issue where public opinion is overwhelmingly on his side," the letter said. "Is he prepared to spend significant political capital on privatization but reluctant to devote the same energy to preserving traditional marriage? If so it would create outrage with countless voters who stood with him just a few weeks ago, including an unprecedented number of African-Americans, Latinos and Catholics who broke with tradition and supported the president solely because of this issue."
The letter continued, "When the administration adopts a defeatist attitude on an issue that is at the top of our agenda, it becomes impossible for us to unite our movement on an issue such as Social Security privatization where there are already deep misgivings."
Some Senate Republican leaders were not optimistic on Monday about the amendment's prospects this year.
"I think if we had the vote right now we'd come up short," said Senator Rick Santorum, the Pennsylvania Republican who is a member of the leadership and one of the amendment's most vocal backers in Congress. "We'd like to bring it up when we have the best possible chance of getting it passed."
The members of the coalition that wrote the letter are some of Mr. Bush's most influential conservative Christian supporters, and include Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the Southern Baptist Convention, the American Family Association, Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich.
Several members of the group said that not long ago, many of their supporters were working or middle class, members of families that felt more allegiance to the Democratic Party because of programs like Social Security before gravitating to the Republican Party as it took up more cultural conservative issues over the last 20 years.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, declined to talk about the letter, but said, "The enthusiasm to get behind his proposals is going to require that he get behind the issues that really motivated social conservative voters."
Israel claimed Monday that in addition to Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Saudia Arabia are developing nuclear programs.
Meir Dagan, chief of The Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, made the claim as he delivered a review on the security of Israel to the country's Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Israel has made even more pointed charges against Iran, which it claims is deceiving the IAEA, and is building a nuclear reactor in Bushehr. Degan said Iran was receiving assistance from Russia...
International experts believe Israel itself is a world nuclear power but the nation with a population of 6.2 million refuses to discuss publicly its programs. Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and, as such, is not subject to inspections.
Mordechai Vanunu worked at Dimona Nuclear Power Plant in Israel from 1976 to 1985 as a technician and learned about Israel's secret production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. In 1985 Vanunu believed it was his responsibility to inform the citizens of Israel as well as the rest of the world that nuclear weapons were being built and stored in Israel.
On October 5, 1986, the London Sunday Times newspaper headlines boldly announced, "Revealed: The Secrets of Israel's Nuclear Arsenal." The startling story, based on interviews with Vanunu and the 60 photographs he provided showing Israeli plutonium spheres used for triggers in nuclear warheads, revealed that Israel was fast developing nuclear weapons.
In detail, Vanunu's data showed that Israel possessed over 200 bombs with boosted devices, neutron bombs, F-16 deliverable warheads, and Jericho warheads. The boosted weapons shown in the Vanunu photographs revealed a sophistication that inferred the requirement for testing. Vanunu revealed for the first time the underground plutonium separation facility where Israel was producing 40 kilograms annually, several times more than previous estimates. Photographs showed sophisticated designs which scientific experts say enabled the Israelis to build bombs with as little as 4 kilograms of plutonium. [Source: Farr]
Vanunu never saw the newspaper because five days prior to the release of the story he was lured to Rome and kidnapped there by Israeli secret agents.
One of Poland's best known newspaper editors has been fined $6,500 (£3,457) for ridiculing Pope John Paul II.
A court in Warsaw found Jerzy Urban guilty of insulting a head of state by writing a satirical article on the eve of the pontiff's 2002 visit to Poland.
Mr Urban, 71, said he was exercising the right to free expression.
Earlier, the press freedom group Reporters without Borders said a prosecution would set a "dangerous precedent" for an EU state.
In the early 1980s Mr Urban was spokesman for the last communist government of Poland, which cracked down on the Solidarity freedom movement.
He is now better known as the editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper Nie - "No" in English.
In his article, titled Walking Sadomasochism, Mr Urban referred to the Pope's frailty, describing him as "the Brezhnev of the Vatican" and an "impotent old man".
When published ahead of the Polish-born Pope's last visit to his homeland in August 2002 it provoked numerous complaints.
"The court has no doubts that intending to ridicule the church, Jerzy Urban ridiculed and derided the pope," the verdict said, according to the Associated Press.
Opponents of Mr Urban, who attended the trial, shouted "too little" when the fine was announced, the agency reports. Prosecutors had requested a 10-month suspended prison sentence.
Friends in America have sent me a number of the Chicago Tribune, dated Monday, January 13, 1896, which contains the report of your second Haskell lecture, delivered at the Kent Theater in the Chicago University. The subject is "Christianity and Buddhism," and I anticipated a friendly and sympathetic treatment of Buddhism at your hands, for I do not doubt that you desire to be just in your judgment. Your utterances are of importance because they will be received as an impartial representation of our religion, since you, having been Chairman of the Religious Parliament, are commonly considered to have the best of information about those religions that were represented at this famous assemblage. I was greatly disappointed, however, seeing that you only repeat those errors which are common in the various Western books on Buddhism. You say, "The goal which made Buddha's teachings a dubious gospel, is Nirvâna, which involves the extinction of love and life,as the going out of a flame which has nothing else to feed upon." Now the word Nirvâna means "extinction" and it means the eradication of all evil desires, of all passions, of all egotism, so that the flame of envy, hatred, and lust will have nothing to feed upon. This is the negative side of Nirvâna. The positive side of Nirvâna consists in the recognition of truth. The destruction of evil desires, of envy, hatred, extinction of selfishness implies charity, compassion with all suffering, and a love that is unbounded and infinite. Nirvâna means extinction of lust, not of love; extinction of evil, not of existence; of egotistic craving, not of life. The eradication of all that is evil in man's heart will set all his energies free for good deeds, and he is no genuine Buddhist who would not devote his life to active work, and a usefulness which would refuse neither his friends nor strangers, nor even his very enemies.
You say that "human life does not breathe, in Buddhism, the atmosphere of divine fatherhood, but groans under the dominion of inexorable and implacable laws." Now, I grant that Buddha taught the irrefragability of law, but this is a point in which, as in so many others, Buddha's teachings are in exact agreement with the doctrines of modern science. However, you ought to consider that while the law is irrefragable, no one but those who infringe upon it groan under it. He who understands the laws of existence, and especially the moral law that underlies the development of human society, will accommodate himself to it, and thus he win not groan under it, but in the measure that he is like Buddha he will be enlightened, he will be a master of the law and not a slave. In the same way that the ignorant savage is killed by the electric shock of lightning, while an electric engineer uses it for lighting the halls and streets of our cities, the immoral man suffers from the moral law, he groans under its inexorable and implacable decree, while the moral man enjoys it, and turning it to advantage glories in its boundless blessings.
This same moral law is the source of enlightenment and its recognition constitutes Buddhahood. This same moral law we call Dharmakâya, which is eternal, omnipresent, and all-glorious. We represent it under a picture of a father, and it was incarnated not only in Gautama-Buddha, but also in all great men in a higher or lesser degree, foremost among them in Jesus Christ, and, allow me to add, in George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other great men of your country. Allow me to add, too, that Buddha's doctrine, far from being skepticism, proclaims the doctrine that man can attain enlightenment and that he attains it not only through study and learning, which, as a matter of course, are indispensable, but also and mainly through the earnest exertions of a life of purity and holiness.
There are many more points in your lecture which I feel tempted to discuss with you, but they refer more to Christianity than to Buddhism, and may imply a misunderstanding of Christian doctrines on my part. I am anxious to know all that is good in Christianity and the significance of your dogmas, so that I may grow in a comprehension of truth, but I have not as yet been able to see that mankind can be benefited by believing that Jesus Christ performed miracles. I do not deny the miracles nor do I believe them; I only claim that they are irrelevant. The beauty and the truth of many of Christ's sayings fascinate me, but truth does not become clearer by being pronounced by a man who works miracles. You say that, "We can explain Buddha without the miracles which later legends ascribe to him, but we cannot explain Christ--either his person or his influence--without granting the truth of his own claim that he did the supernatural works of his father." We may grant that Jesus Christ is the greatest master and teacher that appeared in the West after Buddha, but the picture of Jesus Christ as we find it in the Gospel is marred by the accounts of such miracles as the great draft of fishes, which involves a great and useless destruction of life (for we read that the fishermen followed Jesus, leaving the fish behind), and by the transformation of water into wine at the marriage-feast at Cana. Nor has Jesus Christ attained to the calmness and dignity of Buddha, for the passion of anger overtook him in the temple, when he drove out with rope in hand those that bargained in the holy place.
How different would Buddha have behaved under similar conditions in the same place! Instead of whipping the evil-doers he would have converted them, for kind words strike deeper than the whip.
The fact is that race influences politics, society, and culture. The great explorations, scientific discoveries, inventions, literature, art, and architecture encompassed by Western Civilization have no rival anywhere in the world. The C of CC recognizes that European Christian heritage is essential for the survival of our standard of living and way of life. There is no superior replacement for the civilization that has evolved through the Greeks, Romans, Celts, and Anglo-Saxons.
The word racism was concocted by a communist ideologue in the 1920's. The purpose of racism was to instill guilt and shame in the minds of white people and to inflame racial hostility among blacks. This word play succeeded beyond all expectations. Of course, the word racism has no meaning unless whites react to it. Because racism defines nothing, but instead generates dubious connotations, the C of CC refuses to be held hostage by what the word implies at any given moment. It is normal for white people to be proud of their race and heritage. Is that racist?
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, issued a report last fall that said at least 38 current federal, state and local office holders in several states had attended CCC meetings since 2000, with most giving speeches to local chapters. It said 23 are from Mississippi.
State Rep. John Moore, R-Brandon, said he's scheduled to speak at the CCC gathering Thursday. He said he'll talk about issues to be considered during the current legislative session.
Moore said he didn't know anything about the group's position on race.
"If I find out for certain they are a racist organization, I am going to confront them," he said.
"You hear that the NAACP is racist, but that wouldn't keep me from talking to them," Moore said.
He said he had never looked at the CCC's Web site, but he sat with an AP reporter and scrolled through it. After looking at the question-and-answer section on race, Moore said: "I didn't get any indication from this that they were racist."
Like nearly everyone else in America, I have tuned in Johnny Carson after the following events:
A phone does not ring. The person you were hoping to hear from doesn't call, so you turn to the reliable voice in Burbank instead.
A door is slammed. Someone in your house is angry, maybe you, and you need a parental stand-in to calm you down.
A party is over. But the buzz lingers, and you need another party, someone else's party, to help you wind down.
A child cries inconsolably. Until the unexpected sound of late-night laughter chases the demons away.
On these nights, and on so many others for almost three decades, Johnny Carson has been the last man America sees before it goes to sleep. So why is he never in our dreams?
One other question, now that the end is near.
Is the "Tonight" show the last thing Johnny Carson sees before he goes to sleep
That's what set off Dobson, Focus on the Family and another right-wing group, prompting them to label it a "pro-homosexual video" that urges tolerance of different "sexual identity."
The video -- which begins, with unsettling inclusiveness, "Family, people, monsters, lions, bears, dinosaurs, mice, chickens, aardvarks all coming together. Let's sing together" -- never mentions sex. But it does refer to a tolerance pledge, elsewhere on the "We Are Family" Web site, saying, "I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own."
The pledge won't be included in the material sent to schools, but still, that's enough. After all, we all know what "respect" means.
Explained a Dobson aide, "we see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids. It's a classic bait and switch." Some people, of course, might not think excessive tolerance for differences -- among races, families and dinosaurs -- is the key problem for our kids.
(Also, in referring to someone who lives under the sea, there's a question of sensitivity in using the word "bait." Cartoon characters have feelings, too.)
But to Ed Vitagliano of the American Family Association, "A short step beneath the surface reveals that one of the differences being celebrated is homosexuality."
With the results of the last election, and certain groups' perceived roles in the Bush victory, Americans are in for a lot of these efforts at purification, aimed at figures animated and otherwise.
We'll especially hear from the rising power broker Dobson, who said of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., "I don't know if he hates God, but he hates God's people." Later, when asked about it by ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Dobson responded loftily, "George, you think you ought to lecture me on what being Christian is all about?"
...attempts at proselytizing are angering local Christian leaders, who worry that they could provoke a violent backlash against Christians in Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist country that is already a religious tinderbox.
Last year, Buddhist hard-liners attacked the offices of the World Vision Christian aid group and vandalized or threatened churches and pastors 75 times. They accuse Christians of using money and social programs to cajole and coerce conversions.
Most American groups, including those affiliated with religious organizations, strictly avoid mixing aid and missionary work. But scattered reports of proselytizing in Sri Lanka; Indonesia, which is predominantly Muslim; and India, with large Hindu and Muslim populations, are arousing concerns that the good will spread by the American relief efforts may be undermined by resentment.
The Rev. Sarangika Fernando, a local Methodist minister, witnessed one of the prayer sessions in Sri Lanka and accused the Americans of acting unethically with traumatized people. "They said, 'In the name of Jesus, she must be cured!' " he said. "As a priest, I was really upset."
The Americans in Sri Lanka belong to the Antioch Community Church, an evangelical church based in Waco, Tex. Two members of the church were arrested, and accused of proselytizing, by the Taliban in Afghanistan in August 2001. When the United States invaded the country several months later, pro-American Northern Alliance forces freed the women, who church officials say did speak with Afghans about their personal "relationship with Jesus."
...served six years in the Reagan White house as Assistant counsel, is a practicing attorney, law school professor, author, social commentator and political cultural junkie. Mr. Hewitt is the author of books "Christianity and Society", " The Embarrassed Believer", "Resurrecting Christian Witness in the Age of Mockery."
I just can't understand why more good conservatives haven't spoken out against the dangerous opinions of rabble-rousers such as Phyllis Lilly, Linda Robin and that R C Johnson person. Why does The Daily Independent print the degenerate views of poisonous Liberals who hate freedom?
As Mr. Scott points out, the glorious Constitution is there to protect the rights of Christians to profess their faith. This country was founded by good Christians and the Constitution guarantees our right to express our religion.
It just is completely beyond me how we have allowed Liberals to deny us this guaranteed right.
Oh, they raise ridiculous arguments like other (false) religions would be "upset" if they were forced to pray alongside the righteous in schools or council meetings.
Surely those others would appreciate the opportunity to be saved. As God's chosen people, we Christians have the right to express our religion and praise tolerant, patient and merciful God, and I don't want to read any more letters from Liberals suggesting non-believers should be allowed to express their superstitions just because we Christians can express ours.
In answer to Billie Miller's burning question "Why does The Daily Independent print the degenerate views of poisonous Liberals who hate freedom?" Allow me to explain the reason.
The Daily Independent prints everyone's views because the First Amendment to our great Constitution does NOT read " Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech except for those that in Billie Martin's opinion are the degenerate views of poisonous Liberals who hate freedom."
Billie Miller should be grateful that the DI is willing to print everyone's views. If not, I might not have had the pleasure of reading Miller's point of view that is so far right, it has made a complete circle to the left.
This is in response to Billie Miller's question "Why does The Daily Independent print the degenerate views of poisonous Liberals who hate freedom?"
Perhaps if you read the Constitution you should love you wouldn't need to ask the question.
It's conservatives like you that make me glad to be a liberal.
If we truly believe in our truest hearts that our way of life is morally superior to the way of life of other people, then do we not have the right or duty to suppress their way of life in favor of our own?
In a civilized society we have a responsibility to take care of our own needs so as not to be a burden on others.
... would then be invested in broad-based index funds with an objective of matching the overall rate of return for all investments in the United States. These funds typically have very low costs because they're not actively managed. That means there would be no windfall profit for stockbrokers in this system.
The campaign to privatize has not only been about ideology; it has also focused on Social Security's supposed insolvency. Moore's book calls Social Security a ''Titanic . . . headed toward the iceberg'' and a program ''on the verge of collapse.'' A stream of other conservatives have bombarded the public, over years and decades, with prophecies of trillion-dollar liabilities and with metaphors intended to frighten -- ''train wreck,'' ''bankruptcy,'' ''cancer'' and so forth. Recently, a White House political deputy wrote a strategy note in which he said that Social Security is ''on an unsustainable course. That reality needs to be seared into the public consciousness.''
The campaign is potentially self-fulfilling: persuade enough people that Social Security is going bankrupt, and it will lose public support. Then Congress will be forced to act. And thanks to such unceasing alarums, many, and perhaps most, people today think the program is in serious financial trouble.
But is it? After Bush's re-election, I carefully read the 225-page annual report of the Social Security trustees. I also talked to actuaries and economists, inside and outside the agency, who are expert in the peculiar science of long-term Social Security forecasting. The actuarial view is that the system is probably in need of a small adjustment of the sort that Congress has approved in the past. But there is a strong argument, which the agency acknowledges as a possibility, that the system is solvent as is.
Although prudence argues for making a fix sooner rather than later, the program is not in crisis, nor is its potential shortfall irresolvable. Ideology aside, the scale of the fixes would not require Social Security to abandon the role that was conceived for it in 1935, and that it still performs today -- as an insurance fail-safe for the aged and others and as a complement to people's private market savings.
If Osama bin Laden does, in fact, head a vast international terrorist organization with trained operatives in more than forty countries, as claimed by Bush, why, despite torture of prisoners, has this Administration failed to produce hard evidence of it?
- How can it be that in Britain since 9/11, 664 people have been detained on suspicion of terrorism but only seventeen have been found guilty, most of them with no connection to Islamist groups and none who were proven members of Al Qaeda?
- Why have we heard so much frightening talk about "dirty bombs" when experts say it is panic rather than radioactivity that would kill people?
- Why did Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claim on Meet the Press in 2001 that Al Qaeda controlled massive high-tech cave complexes in Afghanistan, when British and US military forces later found no such thing?
Master Dogen, addressing the assembly, said:
My late master, old Buddha (T'ien-t'ung Ju-ching), said, "The original face has no birth and no death, Spring is in the plum blossoms and enters into a painting." When you paint Spring, do not paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots, but just paint Spring. To paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots is to paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots - it is not yet painting Spring. It is not that Spring cannot be painted, but aside from my late master, old Buddha, there is no one in India or China who has painted Spring. He alone was the sharp, pointed brush who painted Spring. This Spring is Spring in the painting because it enters into a painting. He does not use any other power, but lets plum blossoms activate Spring. He lets Spring enter into a painting and into a tree - this is his skillful means. Because my late master, old Buddha, clarified the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, he correctly transmitted it to the Buddhas and ancestors who assembled in the ten directions of past, future, and present. In this way, he thoroughly mastered the eyeball and opened up the plum blossoms.
This was written on the sixth day, eleventh month, first year of Kongen, 1243, at Yoshimi Monastery, Yoshita County, Echizen Province. Deep snow, three feet, all over the earth.
Master Dogen is one of the spiritual giants of history and one of the greatest religious teachers of Japan. He was an incredible poet, mystic, and philosopher, compiling many of his major works while in his thirties. This translation of "Plum Blossoms" is another of the sections of his master work, Shobogenzo: Treasury of the True Dharma Eye...
"When you paint Spring do not paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots, but just paint Spring." What is Dogen talking about when he says, "just paint Spring?" What is Spring? He says that "Spring is in the plum branch covered with snow." In that withered-looking single branch sticking out from under the snow at thirty-below-zero, there is Spring. Why can't we see it? Why can't it be seen? "Even though the attainment of realization is immediately manifest, its intimate nature is not necessarily realized. Some may realize it and some may not." Just paint Spring....
At that time, Zen literature and koans were written in classical Chinese, which very few Japanese could speak or read. Also, the study of these koans required a profound understanding of Chinese poetry. So, Kamakura masters redid the koans to make them more Japanese, more understandable.
One of these koans is called "Painting the Nature." It deals with Ichu, a famous painter and Zen teacher, the seventh master of Jifuku-ji. One day Nambutzu, a great warrior, came to see him and asked whether he could paint the fragrance described in a famous line of poetry: "After walking through the flowers, the horse's hoof is fragrant." Ichu drew a horse's hoof with a butterfly fluttering around it. Then Nambutzu quoted the line, "Spring breeze over the river bank," and asked for a picture of the breeze. Ichu drew a branch of waving willow. Nambutzu cited the famous Zen phrase, "A finger directly pointing to the human mind; see the nature to be Buddha," and asked for a picture of the mind. Ichu picked up the brush and flicked a spot of ink onto Nambutzu's face. The warrior was surprised and annoyed; Ichu rapidly sketched the angry face. Nambutzu then asked for a picture of "the nature." Ichu broke the brush. Nambutzu didn't understand, and Ichu remarked, "If you haven't got the seeing eye, you can't see it." Nambutzu asked him to take another brush and paint a picture of the nature. Ichu replied, "Show me your nature and I'll paint it." Nambutzu had no words. There are test questions for this koan, including: How do you show the Nature? Come, see your nature and bring proof of it! Say something on behalf of Nambutzu!
In this koan, needless to say, the questions and the way the master responded to them are at a very different level of understanding than what Dogen refers to when he speaks of his teacher, T'ien-t'ung Ju-ching. "It is not that Spring cannot be painted, but aside from our late master, Old Buddha, there is no one in India or China who has painted Spring. He alone was the sharp, pointed brush who painted Spring." Painter, brush, canvas, image, subject - they are not many. The painter is the brush, the image is the painter, the subject is the object, the canvas is the paint. Those things only separate themselves when we separate them by the way we use our mind. Whether you are speaking of a painting, Mu, a tree, a Buddha, or a plum branch - how you see it, how you relate to it has to do with how you live your life, with the question of life and death itself. "To paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots is to paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots; it is not yet painting Spring." How do you paint Spring? "This Spring is the Spring in the painting because it enters into a painting. He does not use any other power, but lets plum blossoms activate Spring. He lets Spring enter into a painting and into a tree, this is the skillful means." How do you manifest the sharp, pointed brush that paints Spring?