Archive for: May, 2011

Americans Rejoice As Sarah Palin Doesn’t Come To Their Town

May 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Where’s Waldo? Where isn’t Sarah Palin.

The story isn’t where is Sarah, the story is where isn’t Sarah, and how happy are you that she’s not in your town.

Much of America is going on with their daily lives, even as CNN and others try to package Palin as a viable candidate. They will sell her to America, have no fear. You thought it couldn’t happen here, but it is. For proof of this, I give you the reports that Sarah Palin claimed she “cleaned up ethics in Alaska” . Any reading person knows this is factually inaccurate, and Palin admitted it in her own words just seconds later, by saying she quit over all of the “frivolous ethics complaints.”

But this was reported and left hanging in the air like low hanging fruit, ripe to be picked by real Americans who are too busy with their lives to read and hence, easily fooled. I thought Palin looked quite nice in that video. If I didn’t know what she really stood for, I can see myself liking her. Gosh, today she announced that she’s against energy subsidies! Did anyone think to ask her about AGIA? Noooo, I guess not. Maybe someone can start by asking her to define subsidy. Last I knew, she was all for subsidies for the oil and gas industry. But wait, is she going to run on killing ethanol subsidies before Iowa? Maybe no one will ask. Strike that. Even if she is asked, she will not answer in a comprehensive manner (this is Sarah’s oldest trick – just try to pin Waldo down!).

This obviously isn’t good for the country, but it’s quite good for the media, who stand to make millions if they can force an Obama v Palin 2012.

If the media want to go on this clown tour, fine.

But the majority of Americans don’t want to get taken on that ride. They are sick and tired, and I mean sick and bloody tired, of having this woman shoved in their faces every single day. She’s Britney’ed herself with the Blood Libel video, but the media will not give it up.

Meanwhile, Americans’ lives are going on, all the better because Sarah Palin’s media publicity tour didn’t roll through their town. They’re gardening, reading, working, spending time with their children (cough) – lot’s of things to do other than get “reeducated” by Sarah Palin about why you should love her, pay her, and vote for her if she does you the favor of running to restore this country from the black man who stole 2008 from her.

Post your story in the comment section and tell us why you’re happy that Palin isn’t in your town. Maybe we can create a safe area zone, to be used as a Palin sighting alert app. Make sure you don’t get taken in by a red herring, just because you see a big bus with a woman’s name all over it and the word “freedom!” being repeated logorrhea style doesn’t mean you’re having a Palin encounter. When you hear the words “the lamestream media” or “read our book ‘Going Rogue'” in response to any question, you’re gold.

I’ll start off with the fact that I am not a big fan of secessionists (and yes, I spy Sarah trying to change this narrative already with odes to “independent voters within her family”). How about you? Why are you happy she’s not in your town?

54 responses so far

Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Is A Wake Up Call for Election Fraud

May 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

City of Brookfield Ballot Bag Photo: Mary Magnuson

In spite of evidence that the Government Accountability Board did not even review the election irregularities noted in the canvass report uncovered by the Brad Blog, JoAnne Kloppenburg has conceded the Wisconsin Supreme Court race to Republican conservative (and Walker “complement”) David Prosser. In what can only be seen as an understatement, Kloppenburg warned that the recount should serve as a wake-up call to improve Wisconsin’s election process.

WisPolitics Election Blog reports:

“This recount should serve as a wake-up call to improve Wisconsin’s election processes,” she said.

Kloppenburg noted that votes were found to be miscounted in every county, more than 150 ballot bags were found to be torn, open or unsealed. She particularly trained her concerns to problems in Waukesha County, where the elections clerk divulged two days after the election that 14,000 votes from the city of Brookfield were not counted, swinging the vote total to Prosser’s favor.

“Waukesha County had twice as many torn, open or unsealed bags as every other county in the state combined,” she said. “In many cases municipal clerks in Waukesha testified the bags weren’t torn when they left cities, towns and villages so the security breaches occurred sometime when the bags were in Waukesha County’s custody.”

Kloppenburg is calling on the GAB to take steps to improve security, accountability and transparency in the election process. More resources and training are needed for clerks and election volunteers, she said.

In case you missed it, the Brad Blog has pictures of the “torn” ballot bags, and they look more like wide open bags. In fact, five of six bags in the first batch are wide open, and then there are duct-taped ballot bags and by ballot bags whose secure chain of custody can not be established due their labels being completely devoid of the “tamper-evident” plastic security tag that is supposed to be attached to the bags.

And then, in my favorite episode of “election irregularities”, Brad Blog found ballot bags with serial numbers that were never recorded on election night. Now, remember that clerk Nickolaus told us that these ballots weren’t “missing” they were counted that night, but she simply didn’t save them properly to her computer.

If she didn’t save them properly, but they existed, then where is the serial number that goes to this bag? Oddly, after all of these votes were counted during the recall, they added up pretty closely to the revised numbers Nickolaus announced days after election night.

So you may be asking yourself, what did the GAB rely upon to certify this election? We’ve heard that the GAB reviewed the ballots and this race is done, so how did they do it? In addition to hand counts, they used poll tapes. And what did the Brad Blog find, but election night poll tapes from Waukesha’s City of Pewaukee dated March 30th, seven days prior to the April 5th election. These were used to certify the race. They said they were going to do a handcount, and they did, but the problem is that they included all of the ballots whose dubious chain of secure custody and ripped bags would lead a reasonable person to investigate further.

Leading up to this “certification”, we had further odd behavior from the previously legally embattled Nickolaus, who never showed the canvassers the ballot bags during the original canvass, which she ordered earlier than normal. In fact, she never told them at all about the “found” 14,000 votes.

These facts were all documented in the minutes of the recount, but the GAB never reviewed the minutes before certifying the election, so all of these ballots with unexplained irregularities were counted.

Brad Friedman of the Brad Blog reports:

“Whether or not there was fraud remains to be seen. But at the very least, the procedures in Wisconsin are neither adequate nor adequately followed,” she says. “That is what has been verified by this recount, rather than the results of this crucial election.”

The G.A.B.’s certified results declare Prosser the winner by 7,004 votes, or 0.46%. That margin includes the results from thousands of ballots found to be irregular for various reasons during the count, objected to by the Kloppenburg campaign in each instance, and then included in the results nonetheless, without review by the state agency.

If just over 3,500 “irregular” votes for Prosser, out of the 1.5 million cast overall, might have been cast originally for Kloppenburg instead, that would be enough to change the outcome of the election, as called for by Wisconsin statutes.

JoAnne Kloppenburg would have won this race if it weren’t for the “found” votes in Waukesha County. Kloppenburg’s concession may have come down to money. As Friedman points out, since neither party supported Kloppenburg’s race, she simply may not have the money to challenge these results in court.

The problems in this election should give all Wisconsinites pause and cause for alarm. It is possible to have elections that do not have such blatant abnormalities, and ballot bags whose chain of secure custody can be established. This is the way elections are supposed to work, and while we can assume some degree of human error, when we add up all of the irregularities in this race, we don’t come away with the sense that justice has been served. And by “justice”, I do not mean a Kloppenburg win; I mean citizens’ votes being counted accurately and I mean a sense of trust in the electoral process. It’s bad for democracy when citizens doubt that their vote has an impact on the outcome of an election.

The GAB has also approved a July 12 recall election for GOP Senators Alberta Darling, Sheila Harsdorf and Rob Cowles, lest anyone automatically assume the GAB has partisan issues. If I had to guess right now, I’d bet that their actions in the Supreme Court race reflect a lack of money, a lot of pressure, and a wee bit too much trust, as this rather new board’s model has been praised by non-partisans in the past, but stranger things have happened. The GAB is still reviewing the recalls against the Democrats, due to “numerous factual and legal issues”.

With Prosser in and the Wisconsin DoJ pushing to have the Supreme Court overrule Judge Sumi’s killing of the collective bargaining bill due to violations of the Open Meetings Laws, we should brace ourselves for a possible quick reversal. However, the Republicans’ violation of the Open Meetings Laws were numerous and documented, and I’d like to believe that even conservatives like Prosser still have respect for the process of law and order. There is simply no way to get around the many violations of the OML, with access denied in numerous ways as well as legal time frame of notice not given.

But I may have put too much hope in Prosser’s integrity. He sure hasn’t conducted himself like a man of reasonable temperament, and for reasons other than the union killing bill, I fear his influence on the court is a bad thing for justice. As a woman, I sure as heck wouldn’t want to have to depend upon Prosser for justice.

Image: BradBlog

17 responses so far

Chasing Sarah: How The Media Got Suckered Into Palin’s Bus Tour Con

May 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Sarah Palin is managing to pull off her biggest media con job yet by her disguising her 2012 media strategy as a bus tour.

As Sarah Palin continues to pretend that she doesn’t want media coverage of her bus tour, all the while begging for the media to follow her, the Palins have chosen to hide behind Sarah’s Fox News contract as justification for why she won’t actually talk to the media.

When CNN asked Todd Palin if reporters were going to be allowed on the bus with Sarah, Todd answered,

Yet, Palin gave an interview to BFF Greta Van Susteren in a setting that looked oddly like a campaign bus.

Here is a video preview from Fox News. (One of these days it would be nice for Greta to disclose on the air that her husband is virtually running SarahPAC):

Notice how Palin discussed her whole media strategy for something that she claims is not a media event, “They want kind of conventional idea of we want a schedule. We want to follow you. We want to be brought along with you. I’m like a). I don’t think I owe anything to the mainstream media. I think that it would be a mistake for me to become some kind of conventional politician, and doing things the way it’s always been done with the media in terms of relationship with them. Telling them to come along and we’ll orchestrate this, we’ll script this, and we’ll basically write a story for you, media about what we’re doing every day.”

She admitted that she is creating her own story luring the media in, “No, I want them to have to do a little bit work on a tour like this, and that would include not necessarily telling them where every stop is going to be, you know. We’ll do a stop. We’ll do a lot of OTRs, off the records. We’ll meet a lot of great Americans, and then I’ll write about that at the end of the day. It’s not about me. It’s not a publicity tour…”

Make no mistake about this is all about Sarah, and this is definitely about publicity.

Some in the media had it partially right. This is a publicity tour, but it is also something else. The bus tour is a dry run for Sarah Palin’s 2012 media strategy. Palin wanted to see if the media would chase her around and play by her rules, and so far too many media outlets have taken the bait. For example, CNN is following Palin around like a love struck boy at the high school dance.

It isn’t polls that will make Sarah Palin viable, or whether or not she has a campaign organization. Sarah Palin’s viability is totally based on whether or not the media will cover her on her own terms.

The media is desperate for a star to emerge in the 2012 Republican field. They realize that they will never generate ratings with the current crop of announced losers running. A Sarah Palin candidacy would be THE story on the Republican side. The media would endlessly hype and hope for a 2012 general election match up between Obama and Palin.

Much of the media attitude towards Sarah Palin is that she is stupid. As Keith Olbermann says, “That woman is an idiot,” but she isn’t. Palin is a savvy manipulator of the media. She knows how to con them into covering her and chasing her, and by underestimating her, the media ends up giving her exactly what she wants.

Sarah Palin is running a con. The prize she seeks isn’t just publicity. Sarah Palin is trying to con her way into the Republican nomination, and if the media keeps happily playing along, she might be successful.

23 responses so far

Christian Conservatives Broaden Their War On Women

May 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

America is involved in two unpopular wars, and finally there are disparate groups aligning together to encourage the Obama Administration to withdraw our troops and bring the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to a reasonable end. The cost in lives and money has proven to be too much for most of the country, and with the death of Osama bin Laden, the original goals appear to have been met leading many in Congress to promote an accelerated end of the Afghanistan conflict. However, there is a war going on here at home that is escalating on a daily basis with no end in sight, and there are very few groups advocating to cease hostilities anytime soon.

In Congress and many state legislatures, social conservatives are waging vicious attacks on women’s reproductive rights and except for women’s rights groups, there is an alarmingly small number of people willing to take on the Religious Right that is the driving force and inspiration for the assault on women. The conservative Christians in Congress have  assailed women with H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” that is an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to restrict insurance coverage for abortion. Federal law already prohibits the use of Federal funds for abortion and the bill aims to eliminate access to abortion by using the IRS and the tax code by removing deductions for insurance plans if abortion is offered. Men though, can deduct expenses for erection-inducing prescriptions without restriction.

The war on women is not solely concerned with abortion rights and has at its basis a philosophy that women are “hyper-fertile wives and mothers in obedient service to God.” The bible-inspired characterization of women as slaves is at the center of the war on women and conservatives in Congress have made no attempt to conceal their support for such a misogynistic approach to dealing with women’s reproductive health. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has been at the forefront of the attack on women’s rights and characterized opponents as, “an arrogant corrupt Washington elite” that has “declared war on marriage, on families, on fertility, and on faith.” Bachmann’s statement is key to understanding that Christian conservatives are attempting to eliminate women’s rights and designate them as nothing more than birth machines and slaves to a man’s will.

In 2005, James Dobson wrote that men, “have ceded too much power to women,” and that “most men lack the guts – and the sensitivity – to stand up to them.”  Although Dobson penned those words 6 years ago, they portend the motives of conservative Christians’ desire to subjugate women and their rights. The “sanctity of life” argument being used as the reason for eliminating women’s reproductive rights is more about eliminating all forms of birth control to keep women in their place as defined by Christian fundamentalists, and one Texas lawmaker let the truth slip out in a statement to a reporter. Representative Wayne Christian (R) exposed the right wing’s attack on women and said it’s not only about abortion. The Republican Party is pushing to have total control over women’s reproductive rights and that includes contraception. When asked about the goal of Republican legislation to defund Planned Parenthood,  Christian said that, “Well, of course, it’s a war on birth control and abortions and everything. That’s what family planning is supposed to be about.”

Indeed, in some states pharmacists have refused to fill prescriptions for birth control for women and refuse to carry any type of contraceptive device whatsoever. There are Christian attempts to portray oral birth control as both ineffective and harmful. Michele Duggar is a Religious Right acolyte who said that oral contraceptives caused her to miscarry and that the incident led her to follow god’s will and forego contraception altogether.  Her response to  medical professionals that dispute her assertion that contraceptives caused her to miscarry was, “Our motto is obey first, understand later.” If people like Duggar believe and follow that line of flawed reasoning it is their right, but Christian conservatives are pushing various bills in state legislatures with the intent of denying all women the right to choose and use contraception.

There are some women in state legislatures who are standing up to the attacks on women but they are few and unfortunately, too late. In the Texas legislature a group of bipartisan representatives lashed out at attacks on women from men in power, but they are in the minority. State Rep Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston took umbrage with a group of men who used obscene flyers portraying women in an unfavorable light and launched into a tirade that included threats of violence. Representative Thompson said that if she caught up with the men responsible, she would “bloody their noses” and her rant on the floor of the legislature was captured on video.

It is curious that more women are not outraged at the blatant attacks on women’s rights, and if women think the current assaults are going to stop at a woman’s right to choose, they are tragically mistaken. In Congress and state legislatures misogynists have attempted to change the definition of rape to requiring proof that it was forcible, and in at least one state, women who are sexually assaulted are designated as “accusers” instead of victims. These not-so-subtle changes in the law are nothing more than attempts to punish women for not submitting to a man’s will, even if the man violently rapes a woman. It is important to remember that the bible commands women (Ephesians 22-23 ) to “submit to a man” in all things as they “submit themselves unto god.”

Christian women who subscribe to the bible’s notion that they are slaves to a man are casualties to their own flawed reasoning and are lost causes. It is extremely sad, but it is a fact of life. Their acquiescence to being slaves, although tragic, should not condemn all American women to the same fate, but that is what is happening in the war on women. The pertinent question is not where are the men who have mothers, wives, sisters and daughters that will suffer under the misogyny of Christian conservatives, but where are the women who will be enslaved to an ancient Stone Age ideology? If women are under the illusion that the patriarchal dominance will stop at denying women the right to use birth control, they are doomed to life as slaves unworthy of employment, the right to vote, and the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Scalia has already adjudicated that women are not covered by the equal rights guaranteed in the 14th Amendment and he speaks for conservatives from all sectors of American society.

The war on women has been under way for 30 years, and if women do not stand up for themselves soon, the war is lost. As Conservative Christians are wont to do, they will not stop until their demands are met regardless of the law. Now that Republicans have majorities in the House and many states they will continue to legislate women into the 1st century, and once laws are on the books, women will be hard-pressed to ever change them. Women cannot count on men who support the idea of submissive women who exist for sexual gratification and free housekeeping service, and they are also not getting support from women who are not evangelical Christians. The war on women is nearly lost and the blame lies with women, men and the male-dominated media that fails to report on the vile legislation being passed in Congress and state legislatures.

The Religious Right is laying a foundation in this country with assistance from Dominionists whose goal is theocracy, and the war on women all but guarantees that America is doomed. If the women in Congress like Michele Bachmann think they will be exempt from the wrath of misogynists because they supported the Christian conservatives’ war on women, they are going to sorely disappointed because the Religious Right will use any means to win the war.  Besides, the women supporting the Religious Right have already defined their own role as “hyper-fertile wives and mothers in obedient service to God,” and have proclaimed that their slogan is “obey first, understand later.” Apparently, they have no idea that by the time they do understand what they’ve done, it will be too late.


10 responses so far

Forget 1967, Says Klingenschmitt; Give us the Borders of 1500 BC

May 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Gordon Klingenschmitt

The Republicans and fundamentalists are furious with Barack Obama for mentioning the 1967 borders (as if they were a sudden departure from previous negotiations) Gordon Klingenschmitt,  a far-right Christian fundamentalist and a former Navy chaplain discharged for misconduct, does the “Oh yeah!” routine and says, “I”ll take your 1967 and raise you 1500 B.C.!

He demands that Israel’s borders be set as they were “in 1500 BC when God gave the nation of Israel and all of the land west of the Jordan River to Moses, to Joshua, and to the people that God gave that land to.” He added that God would put America on trial for failing to stand with Israel, a song and dance we are all by now well familiar with. Blah blah blah, yada yada yada. Let’s move on to facts.

For the record, this is what the Bible says of YHWH’s original land grant to Abraham:

On that day Yahweh made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates. (Genesis15:18)

Greater Israel?

This is an area that would include much of Egypt east of the Nile, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and a sizeable chunk of Iraq, as well as northwest Saudi Arabia. A modern-day observer can, I think, see the problems with such a claim. I guess we should be happy Klingenschmitt didn’t insist on this original deal.

In Numbers 34:1-13 YHWH’s land grant (to Moses this time, not Abram) is given a bit differently, a far more modest grant that would include Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon.

But these are not the only two divine land grants; there is Deuteronomy 11:24, to Moses after he had received the Ten Commandments. This one adds part of Iraq to the picture:

“Every place on which you set your foot shall be yours; your territory shall extend from the wilderness to the Lebanon, and from the river, the river Euphrates, to the western sea.”

There is also Ezekiel 47:15-20. We now come to another version of God’s land grant to Joshua.  God’s command to Joshua was simple:

“Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving them, to the Israelites. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory (Joshua 1:2-4).”

No Hittites in Deuteronomy but now we suddenly have Hittites to deal with! The plot thickens. And at the conclusion of Joshua’s campaign of ethnic cleansing:

Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to their ancestors that he would give them; and having taken possession of it, they settled there (Joshua 21:43).

Presumably, this includes some or all of the land grants noted above. It’s quite a muddle and one has to wonder if Klingenschmitt is aware of how much of a problem these conflicting biblical tales are for modern-day international politics. The situation if further complicated when you consider the actual historical landscape of the 15th century B.C.E.  At that time, the land of Hatti (the Hittites) occupied central Turkey.

It makes no sense God would give Israel land in central Turkey, on the other side of the Taurus Mountains that separate the highlands from the coastal plain (an area later known as Cilicia), especially with Hurrians and others in the way.  The Hittite royal annals certainly never mention the Israelites! Worse, we know that Pharaoh Ahmose, having thrown the Hyksos out of Egypt, pursued them into Palestine and made Palestine a province of the Egyptian empire. Ahmose did not apparently find Joshua or any conquering armies of Israelites there when he arrived.

In fact, nobody found any Israelites in Palestine until the 13th century B.C.E.

We do know this much because Pharaoh Merneptah, who reigned three centuries after Ahmose (c. 1224-1214), the son of Ramesses II, raised a stele at the end of the 13th century which speaks of a campaign he undertook in the lands of Canaan. Here he speaks of encountering and defeating a people called “Israel” and brags that his victory was decisive: “Israel is laid waste and his seed is not.” This is the first mention of Israel in history. Unfortunately, Merneptah gives us no information about the makeup or character of the country, its people, or its government.

So we have an Israel in the 13th century, evidently a minor and unimportant group of people and Pharaoh says he vanquished them along with all his other enemies. But even when the first Jewish states arose, Israel in the north and Judah in the south, they were not what the Bible claims they were.

The kingdoms of Judah and Israel were intimately part of the late Bronze and early Iron Age world of economics, religion, and geopolitics. Their economies were tied to one degree or another to the “world” economy centered on the Superpowers of their time, Hatti, Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt. Their religion was no different than that of their neighbors, being polytheistic, and their government was indistinguishable from that of the other Middle Eastern Bronze Age monarchies.

The covenant wasn’t even anything special. It was written in a form common to all Near Eastern kingdoms of the time known as a vassal treaty.[1] The Assyrians had one of those too, as we see from a plaque from Arslan Tash in Syria, an eternal covenant made not with YHWH but with Asshur: “An eternal covenant was made with us, Asshur made it with us, as did all the gods and the mighty of the circle of all the holy ones.”[2] Israel and Judah can now be seen for what they were; just two of those states, sharing what all shared as their common property.

There was no early united kingdom, no golden age of David and Solomon, no superpower stretching from Egypt to Mesopotamia on equal footing with the true superpowers of the day (1 Kings 4.21).  There were two states, not one, and they evolved independently though related in culture and language. The north developed statehood earlier, was more populous, richer in natural resources and had a more powerful economy and more economic and political ties to the wider world. If any power there was, Israel held it as a regional power, not a world power.

And Judah? The facts make the Old Testament accounts laughable. Comparison of the biblical with the archaeological record reveals the lie. The Jerusalem of David and Solomon as portrayed in the Bible did not exist. Archaeologists Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman assert that “[W]e have no hard archaeological evidence – despite the unparalleled biblical descriptions of its grandeur – that Jerusalem was anything more than a modest highland village in the time of David, Solomon, and Rehoboam.”[3]

Archaeologist Gideon Avni admits to problems with the traditional dating in Jerusalem, noting that “We have very minimal remains from both the 10th and the 9th centuries BC.”[4] David may have been little more than a tribal highland chief who had perhaps, with his band of outlaw Apiru seized control of Urusalim (Bronze Age Jerusalem), a highland stronghold ruled in the late Bronze Age by a king named Abdi-Hebra, who appears in the Amarna letters dated to the fourteenth century.  The facts as revealed by archaeology are striking, as Finkelstein and Silberman observe:

In Israel, regional administrative centers developed in the early ninth century. They were fortified and provided with elaborate palaces built of ashlar blocks and decorated with stone capitals. The best examples are found at Megiddo, Jezreel, and Samaria. Yet in the south, ashlar masonry and stone capitals appear only in the seventh century BCE, in smaller sizes, showing less foreign influence, and with lesser quality of construction. There is also a great difference in the layout and development of the capital cities. Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, was established as a large palatial government center as early as the ninth century. Jerusalem was fully urbanized only in the late eight century.

Israel then, was the regional power.  By way of comparison, Judah was “little more than Israel’s rural hinterland.”[5]

And the land of Hatti spoken of to Joshua? By the time it makes any sense to speak of Hittites in relationship to Israel, the great Hittite Empire had collapse and refugees occupied the coastal plain of Cilicia and are known to history as “Neo-Hittites” – but that too is not until the 12th century, because we know from Hittite palace archives that their western border did not even come under threat until then and it wasn’t until the end of the 13th century that they were swept away by the invaders.

The trouble with letting religion substitute for history in the world of international politics is that religion represents belief; history represents facts as we can know and understand them. These might change as new discoveries are made but holy writ is eternal and unchanging, not subject to the facts on the ground. The Bible presents one version of the past – an idealized version of history looking backward from a much later period. The Bible is not a history book. It contains history but it is history with what we today would call “a spin”. That is, as Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman note, “history as it should have been.”[6] Indeed, many Christians might be surprised to learn that there was in fact no “Old Testament” or Hebrew Bible during the so-called Old Testament period. It simply did not exist.

In fact there was no single version enshrined as canon, as the finds at Qumram have shown. Frank M. Cross has observed that the Dead Sea Scrolls date from “an era when local texts prevailed.”[7] This “local” era extends far into Israel’s past, and it was not until the second century of this era that it came to an end and there came to be an authoritative recension of the Hebrew Bible, a development that coincided with the establishment also of a Christian canon.

History can look backward, free of the constraints and requirements of belief, and see history not as it should have been, for no such thing exists outside of the requirements of ideology and religion, but history as it was.

It is all well and fine for Jewish and Christian conservatives to insist upon the biblical version of events but their claims are not backed up by history. We know from a variety of sources that no Israeli state occupied the stated territories in 1500 B.C.E.  We know this from archaeology, from epigraphy, and from the Jewish author Josephus, writing the history of his people in the first century of the Common Era.[8] There is simply no evidence for it.

We could do as Klingenschmitt demands and return to Israel her borders as of 1500 B.C.E., but I don’t think any Jews or any fundamentalist Christians would be happy with the result, because they’d end up with little more than a few scattered settlements in the highlands.

Greater Israel Map: Biblical Witness for Israel

Merneptah Stele Image from

[1] George Mendenhall  “Covenant Forms in Israelite Tradition” The Biblical Archaeologist 17 (1954), 58-60.

[2] John Day, “Asherah in the Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitic Literature”, JBL 105 (1986), 395.

[3] Finkelstein and Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts (2001), 158. cf. idem, David and Solomon (NY: Free Press, 2006), 126. Israel Finkelstein is Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University and director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology. He is also co-director of the archaelogical dig at Megiddo. Neil Asher Silberman is director of the Ename Center for Public Archaeology and Heritage Presentation in Belgium.

[4] Michael Balter, “The Two Tels: Armageddon for Biblical Archaeology?” Science 287 (2000), 32. Gideon Avni is Head of Excavations and Surveys of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

[5] Finkelstein and Silberman (2001), 159.

[6] Finkelstein and Silberman (2001), 249.

[7] Frank M. Cross, Jr. “The History of the Biblical Text in the Light of Discoveries in the Judaean Desert,” HTR 57 (1964), 286.

[8] Ben-Zion Rosenfeld, “Flavius Josephus and His Portrayal of the Coast (Paralia) of Contemporary Roman Palestine: Geography and Ideology,” The Jewish Quarterly Review (2000), 143-183.

15 responses so far

Late Night Snack: Cat Plays with Dolphins

May 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

A cat and dolphins play together! This video reminds me of Darwin’s theory that all living things on earth are related, like branches on a tree, also referred to as universal common descent. In On the Origin of Species, Darwin wrote, “There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one”.

There’s also considerable evidence to suggest that dolphins came from furry, four legged ancestors, which would explain why these two are playing like long lost friends or relatives…..Imagine what this means. Imagine

Imagine indeed, what the world would be like if we all accepted that we were related – one big family. There’s strong quantitative evidence to support this notion. Wonder when we’ll get it?

Happy Memorial Day to everyone, hope yours was as wonderful as mine.

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In DC Sarah Palin Curses The Media But Demands Their Attention

May 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

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America’s Troops: A Lesson To The GOP In Shared Sacrifice

May 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

As Americans commemorate U.S. military personnel who died while in service to our country, it is incumbent to honor the sacrifice all veterans make to guarantee the freedom of every citizen regardless of race, religion or socio-economic station. It is irrelevant whether or not service members were drafted into service or volunteered out of a sense of duty and commitment to protect the homeland and the American way of life. Americans are fortunate that in the modern era, the armed forces have not had to repel foreign invaders or battle an occupying army on American soil like so many countries in the world. The fact that American troops have battled aggressive regimes and oppression in foreign lands makes their sacrifice all the more significant and should remind Americans to honor the sacrifice of military families who support their loved ones from afar.

In recent months since the 112th Congress has been in session, there has been much rhetoric concerning “shared sacrifice” in regards to the economic morass the country is facing, and depending on which side of the political spectrum an individual finds themselves supporting, the term has entirely different meanings. It is becoming glaringly obvious that for Republicans, shared sacrifice is a unilateral proposition that requires 98% of the population to sacrifice tax dollars, homes and their health so corporations and the wealthy can continue prospering with no end in sight. The Democratic concept of shared sacrifice is for all Americans to contribute their fair share toward the common good of the population and the country as a whole. Unfortunately, for the past 10 years 98% of Americans have sacrificed everything and if conservatives have their way, the majority of the population will make the ultimate sacrifice and end up in abject poverty so a few hundred families can control all the wealth of the nation as well as the government.

During World War II, shared sacrifice truly meant all Americans gave up some measure of comfort and well-being for the war effort to halt the aggression of Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire. Millions of the country’s male population were pressed into military service or volunteered to fight in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific to bring peace to the world and protect America’s allies from being conquered by imperialists bent on ruling the world. At home, women who were able worked in factories, while children collected various materials for the war effort, and the elderly knitted socks and gloves for soldiers serving in cold-weather climes. Even entertainers went on tours selling bonds to fund the war effort or to entertain the troops at home and abroad. It was truly a time of shared sacrifice for the survival of the nation; except for wealthy industrialists who made fortunes supplying the military with hardware.

Republicans in Congress are promoting the philosophy of Ayn Rand that celebrates the virtue of selfishness instead of shared sacrifice exemplified by our military personnel. Amongst Republicans, Paul Ryan typifies the meaning of the Rand philosophy that every person should fend for themselves and that altruism is actually evil. Rand’s advocacy of self-advancement over the common good was proffered by Paul Ryan when he credited the right-wing philosopher with articulating the morality underlying his extreme economic philosophy. Ryan said that, “Ayn Rand more than anyone else did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism and the morality of individualism” that describes his budget proposal that gives massive tax breaks to millionaires at the expense of low-income families and the most vulnerable Americans.

Ryan’s Pathway to Prosperity is a testament to his belief that Ayn Rand’s philosophy of the virtue of selfishness is the ultimate expression of the morality of capitalism. In fact, Ryan’s budget implies that poverty and public safety nets are the marks of moral defects and his budget’s cuts to seniors, children’s programs, poor families, and Medicare are his twisted effort to eliminate defective Americans. Ryan’s way of rewarding the rich is to take funds from morally defective poor people and give them to those who need it least.

In a letter to a Catholic Archbishop explaining the merits of his budget, Ryan claims; “We believe human dignity is undermined when citizens become passive clients living on redistributions from government bureaucracies. Sustaining national moral character and human dignity have been our paramount goal in developing this Budget.” Ryan believes that making it more difficult for seniors, poor people, and struggling middle-class families to get health care and provide food is good for their moral character. He also believes that taking from the poor to give to the wealthy benefits the moral character of the richest 2% of Americans. Ayn Rand would agree that Ryan is morally right to use his position of power and office to reward the wealthy at the expense of the least powerful segment of society.

Paul Ryan believes the best way to help the poor is to give the wealthiest Americans more money with no strings attached and no obligation to society, and is his idea of shared sacrifice. It is hypocritical of Ryan to demean the poor and elderly as morally defective for taking entitlements because he collected Social Security benefits after his father died, and according to Ryan, qualifies him as being morally defective. He is also morally defective for taking taxpayer subsidized healthcare benefits, but according to Ayn Rand, is virtuous for being selfish.

Ryan typifies Republicans who expect the majority of Americans to sacrifice their tax dollars to give to the wealthy as entitlements. Instead of being morally superior, Ryan and his Republican cohorts are thieves who steal from Americans who paid into Medicare and Social Security during their working lives to give more to the wealthy. The wealthy and corporations are morally defective for taking entitlements in the form of extra tax breaks and subsidies, although in Ayn Rand’s ideology they are virtuous for being selfish.

At this time of year Americans acknowledge the sacrifice of service members, and regardless what anyone thinks of military service, it takes sacrifice to train, fight, and possibly die for the country and fellow soldiers. Republicans like Paul Ryan besmirch the sacrifice of service members by asking them and their families to continue making sacrifices for the wealthy and corporations. Republicans lauded Ryan as being courageous for his budget, but he is a coward for using his position of power to steal from working Americans, the poor, and seniors to give entitlements to the wealthiest 400 families in America.

Republicans could learn the meaning of sacrifice from veterans and current military personnel who give everything for their comrades and this nation. However, Republicans are morally defective for being thieves and taking entitlements in the form of corporate contributions and government-subsidized health care all the while demeaning 98% of the population as morally defective for expecting their tax dollars to be used for the common good.

Service members understand the importance of sacrificing for the common good, and most Americans comprehend that this country will only succeed and prosper through shared sacrifice by all Americans. During Memorial Day commemorations, Americans honor the sacrifice of all service members whether they made the ultimate sacrifice or served with honor and were discharged. Republicans shame the memory of service members because they are unwilling to make any sacrifice for the people of this country, and they dishonor what it means to be Americans; but Ayn Rand would be proud.

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American Exceptionalism Is Found In A Prosperous Middle Class

May 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

The conservative consistently beat the drum about themselves being the defenders of American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism is defined partly by a well-compensated middle class, yet I do not hear a word of defense coming from the right about this.

The entire essence and strength of our country and democracy depends on the strong, vibrant middle class. Just a quick look around the world and many of the revolts have been attended by oppressed middle class workers joining together to take down the regimes that are in bed with the very very wealthy.

David Brooks of the New York Times wrote an op-ed last week subltly celebrating the falling wages of America’s wages throughout this last generation. He said,

The Boston Consulting Group foresees a manufacturing renaissance as Chinese wages rise and workers in low-cost states like Mississippi find they can compete once again.

What Brooks is saying when he mentions “low cost” in Mississippi is wages also. So in review of his comments, what he means is due to increasing Chinese labor and lowering America labor employees in Mississippi can compete. Is this really worth celebrating?

Here is a little dose of reality for those who believe that lowering wages in America to bring jobs back here is a benefit to the country, as stated by the Alliance For American Manufacturing.

1. No one should envision or hope for a low-wage U.S. manufacturing workforce. That would mean a further nail in the coffin of the American middle class.

2. It is illegal dumping, subsidies, and currency manipulation that give China’s manufacturers a price advantage over U.S. firms, not the well-deserved wages given to the skilled men and women who keep our factories running.

Here is a link for 2002-2009 Chinese subsidizes and also 2004-2008 subsidizes.

The only type of American exceptionalism conservatives in both parties, Democrats and Republicans celebrate is the exceptionally large disparity of income in this country.

The race to the bottom that was kicked into high gear with President Reagan must be stopped. We need politicians that will stand up for a good wage and benefits and denounce trickle-down economics.

Wages, not profit, is the primary driver of demand and by devaluing labor you undermine your own economy.

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Patriotism: It’s Not A Political Thing

May 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

During discussions about war, I often hear from Conservatives that Liberals do not support the troops and therefore are not patriots. I wonder where Conservatives get these notions. Do they really believe this or are they mere talking points designed to inflame the opposition?

In speaking with a Conservative friend of mine (and yes I do have Conservative friends and yes reasonable, respectful, rational discussions between people with differing ideologies is possible) she said not all Conservatives believe Liberals do not support the troops and are therefore unpatriotic. I then realized my mistake, I did exactly what a lot of Conservatives do – lump a “some people” think into the “whole of the group” thinks thusly. And so, while I cannot speak for all Liberals I feel safe in opining that while Liberals may have differing viewpoints on war and conflict in the global arena than Conservatives, I’m sure everyone supports our Troops.

Most of the world no longer lives in tribal villages where wars over land and raiding each others’ livestock made sense at that time and villagers rarely saw strangers and mingled with other villages only on a few festival days per year. We now live in a global economy, with a global information and transportation system, and where the actions of one nation have consequences in all the other nations. The problem, I think, rests in the fact that not all of humanity is playing on the same field, ie, not all of us have economically, sociologically, and technologically advanced at the same pace – stir in religious ideology and the global “village” is soon boiling over in conflict. It is how we react to and deal with the conflict that often heats up or cools down the political pot.

Patriotism is defined as “–noun devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.” It’s clear the two ideologies conflict about the definition of defense because where conflict is concerned, most Conservatives seem quick to pick up a weapon while most Liberals seem quick to want to find a non-violent solution.

I’m a bit astonished some Conservatives think they have the corner on the patriotic market, that throwing a flag over your face and yelling USA USA USA is the only way to express patriotism. I’m as patriotic as the next guy but I express it differently. By way of example, my neighbor may have express their patriotism by tying an American flag on their automobile aerial and mounting a gun rack in the back window while another neighbor may express their patriotism defending this country and it’s people in speech, writing, or debate.

Are either of those ways better than the other? Depends on your perspective perhaps but patriotism is patriotism and on this Memorial Day let us remember how we got here. Let us pay our respects, on not only Memorial Day but everyday to our fighting men and women. If moved to so, adopt a soldier through Soldier’sAngels or HeroBox and let us remember the millions of lives lost for freedom and our way of life, remember them, remember their stories, their families.

As we honor the fallen and those currently serving our country, in whatever manner we choose to honor, know that we are all equally patriots, all equally Americans, all equally human and all equally a resident on this Earth and as such we all depend on one another.

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