Working For Peace, Justice, and A Sustainable Environment
Online Edition: November, 1999 Vol. XI, No. III
MODESTO PEACE/LIFE CENTER
Peace Essay Contest 2000
Mud Pies and Purple Onions
The top 10
list local environmental concerns
Alternative Nobel Prize goes to Cuban group promoting the Organic Revolution
Free new bike racks for downtown Modesto businesses
Recipe of the month: Mushroom stew
CALENDAR --CURRENT & COMING EVENTS
Masthead and Back Issues
Shame on them
By ANN BRIARCLIFF
This past week the Senate of this country brought much shame to themselves in the eyes of citizens and the world by not ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Strictly along the lines of Republican vs. Democrat in the Senate, the die is cast into a new era of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The United States cannot now hold its collective head up and look other countries in the eyes and demand they ratify this treaty if it does not.
For those of us who lived in the fifties and sixties with the threat of nuclear war at every minute, the terror of those days returns in full force. Fewer than sixty individuals have wrought this upon the country once again. They do it without remorse, without representational conscience, and without deliberation of its consequences because they wish to show another single individual their collective backsides. What they have succeeded in doing is showing their collective shamefulness.
Where were they when we demonstrated for peace three decades ago? Where were they when we demonstrated against nuclear weapons? Where were we when they took this vote? Were we still telling them to stop nuclear proliferation, or had we reneged on our citizenship duty to keep telling them we do not want nuclear testing in this country or in the world?
An election is nigh. Speak with your ballot clearly. Speak with your voice daily. Speak with your pen weekly. At the end of the day let your conscience be clear and your duty be done. Senators, Congress persons and Assembly persons, and all other elected people, put on their shoes one at a time, just like you and me. Tell them what you think about their action, and demand that they reverse it.
Mountains of tires: they wont go away by themselves
By MYRTLE OSNER
Our local and state newspapers have done a very good job of covering the mammoth tire fire in the canyon above Westley, California. Certainly we all have been concerned about the air and water pollution for the entire Central Valley and beyond.
When the similar sized pile of tires ignited near Tracy and spewed smoke all over us, the answer of the authorities was "Let in burn", and indeed it has continued to burn for more than a year. Contained as it was in a gravel pit, we dont really know whether that fire is polluting the ground water or not. It does seem curious that this fire, which might have served as a warning for things to come, did not receive nearly the press coverage that weve had over the pile owned by Ed Filbin.
Perhaps this is at least partly explained by the massive reaction of the citizens on Stanislaus Countys West side. We can thank those citizens and particularly some of the leaders such as Karen Cox for keeping it on the front burner and not taking no for an answer. And perhaps the county government of Stanislaus is a bit more responsive than that of San Joaquin. I at least was impressed with our county health officer, who responded to questions for health information in a very forthright manner when I attended one of the public meetings in Patterson.
Putting daily reports and health information on the web site is helping those who have access, but that is better than nothing. One could wish that the authorities were more concerned with getting information to the workers in the fields who are directly exposed to the smoke. After all, this is the height of harvest season.
The blame for this latest fire should be put squarely on Ed Filbin, who for more than 20 years has flouted orders from both the county and the state to get rid of the tire pile. However, we ourselves are at least indirectly responsible for this situation. Californians are notoriously wedded to their cars, and each car wears out tires four at a time. They must go somewhere, but not to the illegal tire piles which apparently abound all over the state.
It behooves us to think of new uses for old tires. For instance, I have heard that Hawaii shreds all its old tires and makes roadway of them. Why dont we do that here? Why dont we use more of them for playground pads? Can we make something else useful with them? Another use that has been very successful has been the tire burning plant near Westley. As a fuel, tires are equivalent to oil: it would be wasteful not to use them for that purpose. However, when calling for a shut down of the tire burning plant, the residents dont seem to understand that this facility has been a clean burning plant and has produced a sizeable amount of power for us. Obviously, the residents are upset because the tire pile and the tire plant were in close proximity. But they should not be equated as equally bad
I discussed the possibilities with the Modesto Recycling Coordinator. She informs me that the City of Modesto had a "Tire Amnesty Day" recently, at which 38 tons (about 2500 tires) were collected. There will be another collection for city residents only in April. The tires went to Golden By-Products in Ballico. This firm shreds the tires. Most of the shred went to Stockton to the co-generation plant there. Tire shredding also produces "crumb," smaller pieces which are suitable for use on playgrounds and is also used in the rubberized asphalt process. Some is used to mix with soil to fortify levees in the Sacramento Delta area. And then, remember the old sandals that had rubber soles? Indestructible, werent they? Worth a try, but probably only a drop in the bucket of the sea of tires.
It is time for the State Solid Waste Management team to start researching these possibilities. And it is time for the state legislators to begin subsidizing the use of old tires in any way possible. Without this action the tires will just keep on piling up. Even shredding them and dumping them in Kettleman Hills, as we hear Fresno County is doing, is not a solution. It just makes them a little less susceptible to burning, a halfway response at best.
If you have any ideas, feel free to write us a letter. For more information:
Tire Fire WebSite--netfeed
Official Stanislaus County Tire Fire WebSite
Diablo Grande controversy: What is the next step?
By MYRTLE OSNER
A tangled web of suits and counter suits over the past few years was brought to some resolution in October with Judge Donald Shavers rulings. In ruling that the Environmental Impact reports were not properly done, Judge Shaver temporarily brought the project to a halt. In a later ruling, however, he seemed to be saying that the first phase could go forward only if a sufficient water supply for the first phase was found.
A clear understanding of the California Environmental Quality Act reveals that CEQA says: Look at the impacts of the whole project first. Before any of the parts may proceed, the whole must first be approved. This has not been done, since the developers have not identified water sources for the entire project, only part of it.
Diablo Grande is projected to cover 29,500 acres, nearly the size of the city of Modesto (33,000 acres.) It would require the same amount of water that the city of Turlock does, providing far less homes, none of them affordable in the current meaning of the word. It does not relieve the growth pressure in the valley, which is for much more modest homes than are projected for Diablo Grande.
Water from the Berenda Mesa Water district has been said by the developers to be available. One can presume that the farmland which is now being watered by Berenda Mesa will go out of production when its water is sold away from the district. (This district is in Kern County and receives its water from the State Water Project canal). If this water is "guaranteed" to Diablo Grande, the State Water Project would have to deliver water even in drought years, because state law prohibits denying delivery to urban areas. In contrast, Berenda Mesa is a Class II district, which is only guaranteed water in 8 out of 9 years. If there is a drought year, in other words, farms dont get water but golf courses and houses do.
The lawsuits brought against Diablo Grande challenged Stanislaus Countys approval of this project. They were brought by POW (Protect Our Water), The Farm Bureau, and two others. (Earlier law suits were brought by Ecology Action and the Sierra Club and others.) The basis was that the County has not followed proper California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) procedure. Both lawsuits addressed the lack of adequate analysis of a long-term water supply. In several previous judgements, judges have repeatedly ruled against Diablo Grande.
In an earlier article, activist Steve Burke said, "The fault lies not with the courts, the Farm Bureau, or the environmentalists. It lies with the County for not adequately enforcing CEQA. The developers have shown a lack of respect for required planning laws and have attempted to circumvent and ignore whatever requirements they thought unnecessary."
With regard to the water issue, it has been pointed out numerous times by such publications as World Watch and the Co-op America Quarterly that golf courses have a very detrimental effect on the environment which should concern all of us.
The sheer quantity of chemicals used on fairways can be astounding. Pesticides sprayed on golf courses total seven to eight times the amount used on a typical farm field. These chemicals harm humans when the runoff from golf courses gets into the local water resources for the area, either by flows into streams or seepage into the ground water table.
Although some golf course managers are pursuing integrated pest management solutions, this has been a long time in coming and is not being used extensively as yet.
Environmental Principles for Golf Course in the U.S. has been endorsed by Audubon Society, Friends of the Earth, National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, and others. If you are a golfer, you can ask your golf course manager if he knows about this and is using the principles on the golf course you play.
In addition, golf courses take huge amounts of water compared to the needs of farming and houses. Diablo Grande plans five gold courses. The bottom line in all the rulings of all the cases so far with regard to Diablo Grande is: Where will the water come from? Until that question is answered definitively, the project must not go forward, according to California Environmental Quality Act rules.
Sister Cities "World on a String"
International cuisine prepared by Stanley Dimond, executive chef for Mallard's Restaurant, will be featured at "World on a String", Modesto Sister Cities Committee's second The event will be held November 4 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church Hall, 1528 Oakdale Road, Modesto, beginning with a social hour at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Orage Quarles III, publisher of The Modesto Bee, will serve as master of ceremonies. Entertainment will be provided by Ricardo Campero, tenor. Modesto's Sister Cities include Aguascalientes, Mexico; Khmelnitskiy, Ukraine; Kurume, Japan; Vernon, Canada, and Vijaywada, India.
ACTION: Support the Modesto Sister Cities program by attending the event. For tickets or information call 522-4266.
Paul is a musician, writer, activist and organizer, originally from Britain, who is now living and working in La Primavera, one of Managua's shanty towns. He has recently been named as Nicaragua staff person of the Nicaragua Net-work Environmental Task Force.
Through music, slides, and stories Paul will present an update and analysis of the political, social, and economic situa-tion in present day Nicaragua in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch.
Questions, discussion, and refreshments will follow the presentation. A $5.00 donation will be collected at the door to defray travel expenses and to help Paul's work in Nicaragua.
Alternative Faire helps us focus on community and world
By MARY BAUCHER
The 9th Annual Alternative Faire at the Modesto Church of the Brethren will be on Sunday, November 28, from 12:15 to 2:00 p.m. A light lunch will be served until 1:30 (please note the time for the end of the meal). This event is open to the public so you are most welcome and may invite friends. The church is located at 2301 Woodland Avenue.
The purpose of the Alternative Faire is to provide money for relief of suffering around the world and in our community. Rather than purchasing more THINGS for friends and loved ones, the faire gives opportunity to make contributions to various non-profit agencies in the name of those friends and loves ones. There will be some T-shirts, cards, books, handcrafts to purchase, but even the proceeds from sale of these items ultimately reach out to help folks in need. The joy of this kind of Christmas giving is knowing that each item you "buy" becomes TWO gifts for your investment! One is to bring pleasure to your friend and the other to help bring Gods love to a hurting world.
Some of the agencies participating in the Faire are: Church World Service Blanket Program, Modesto Peace/Life Center, Heifer Project International, Habitat for Humanity, Somoto/Merced Sister City Project, Inter-Faith Ministries. In addition, the SERRV International Gift Shop will be open in room 4.
If you have questions, call Lenore at 522-6497 or Mary at 523-5178.
ACTION: See you at the Faire November 28.
Meaningful Thanksgiving offered at Inter-Religious Celebration
All faith communities are invited to come together for the annual Inter-Faith Resources Inter-religious Thanksgiving Celebration Monday November 22 beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Church of the Brethren on Woodland Avenue.
Once again members of a broad spectrum of faiths will offer readings, music and dance to celebrate this Thanksgiving season and the United States of Americas commitment to freedom of religion. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Bahais, Mormons and more will be on hand to guide area residents through cultural and spiritual traditions of giving thanks.
ACTION: Come together with others of the Stanislaus faith community at the celebration. Call Inter-Faith Resources at 577-0864 for more information.
Facedown in a quiet field, Shouts and shooting stilled, Sound waves rolled away, And rolling still, Grass leaves, giants near my eye, Green, dark and wet, Rooted to the dizzy world, A tiny bug on a blade of grass, Barely an ant to an ant, Doesn't know I'm here or why, His only day a blur of life's necessities, While many miles and years, And choices made by chance brought me here, To fall in the field for which I fought, To find this bug to whom it belongs, To share this last blessed day, Both his and mine, And to see we both came and went, Our lives contained in separate frames, Each with its own measure of meaning.
--J. JASON GALE
BOOK REVIEW: "No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America"
The Legal Gladiators: how corporate America protects profits at your expense
Myth: The genius of American capitalism is that corporations compete in a free market environment designed to favor the companies that are most efficient at giving consumers what they want.
In reality, corporate power over consumers and the entire society is increasing at an alarming rate. One form of power is pushing costs of doing business onto taxpayers, such as when utilities shift the costs of managing radioactive waste to governments, "a kind of lemon socialism," write Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith in No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America. Another form is the creation of private governments. "The Walt Disney Companys 22,000 acres near Orlando, Florida, are a private government with taxing, police, and zoning powers over a territory as large as San Francisco. The private corporate domains, such as giant shopping malls, business improvement districts, and their counterparts in the housing area, the so-called gated communities, continue to break legal ground, stretching corporate sovereignty and shrinking public places," the authors write.
This problem is made possible by the legal hired guns who are essential to preserving corporate power. Just how old is this practice? Consider this admonition:
"Instead of holding a position of independence, between the wealth and the people, prepared to curb the excesses of either, able lawyers, to a great extent, allow themselves to become adjuncts of great corporations and have neglected their obligation to use their powers for the protection of the people. We hear much of the corporate lawyer and far too little of the peoples lawyer."
It sounds like a warning from Ralph Nader, and it is quoted in his book. But its actually an insight made by then corporate attorney, Louis D. Brandeisin 1905!
Picking up on Brandeiss insight to show just how corporate lawyers do it, the authors reveal a full bag of tricks. Consider the emblematic case of Lloyd Cutler, famous for serving as the White House lawyer under Clinton.
Corporate lawyers weaken the regulations responsible for ensuring public safety. "In 1966, the major U.S. auto makers hired Cutler to gut the proposed motor vehicle safety legislation. More than 100,000 Americans lost their lives and many more were seriously injured while Cutler masterminded years of delay for his auto industry paymasters to keep air bags out of any federal safety standards." Cutler even represented the Ford Motor Company in the early seventies against air bags when General Motors, however briefly, was touting the devices. In another example of efforts to weaken regulation, his firm has also lobbied to weaken the Drug Safety Act of 1962.
Lawyers defend corporations accused of conspiring to minimize competition. "Representing the Automobile Manufacturers Association back in the late 1960s, Cutler persuaded the Justice Departments antitrust division to drop a pioneering criminal prosecution of the automobile industry for product fixing namely, conspiring to restrain competition by agreeing to freeze technological innovations related to vehicular smog controls," write Nader and Smith.
Lawyers also work diligently to protect profits, even when it means denying life-saving drugs to poor patients who cant afford them. "Earlier, in the sixties, Cutler represented the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of Americas (PMA) drive to block the McKesson and Robbins Companys agreement to sell the government of Colombia lower-priced generic drugsfrom 80 to 90 percent cheaper than the brand-name medicines for some important antibiotics. Senator Nelsons investigator, economist Benjamin Gordon, believed that the effect of the PMAs opposition to generic drug marketing would be to deny necessary medicines to large numbers of impoverished people in South America," they write.
Corporate lawyers are indispensable in procuring corporate welfare. "Cutlers recent Canadian client is Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc., which located $10 billion worth of gold on federal public land in Nevada. Prior to joining the Clinton administration, Cutler pressed Bruce Babbitt, Clintons secretary of the interior, to sell the land above the gold deposits for the tiny sum of $9,765a price of about five dollars per acre, authorized by the antiquated 1872 Mining Act. Babbitt denounced the giveaway of the peoples gold and urged passage of pending reform legislation in Congress to give the government a more realistic value for such lucrative public properties. But Congress did not act and, while Cutler was serving his dual roles as White House counsel and attorney with [the firm] Wilmer, Cutler, Secretary Babbitt had to sell the billions in gold to Barrick Goldstrike at lower than fire sale prices."
Looking at the larger picture, the authors write:
"With relentless focus and resources, the Lloyd Cutlers of the legal world work to indenture government and the people to large corporations, to have government subsidize in many ways entire industries, to compromise the arms-length relationship between government and business by systematically undermining the rule of just law that is supposed to protect wronged or harmed citizens. By complex means, public assets, from natural resources to medical research and development, are given away to private monopoly ownership and/or control.
"Attorneys like Lloyd Cutler [including his many imitators] matter intimately and often adversely to the health, safety, and economic well-being of many people here and abroad. They matter to the quality of the air, water, soil, and food. They matter to the state of our democracy and the integrity of the law and its enforcement. They matter to future generations, who will inherit the harmful results of their labors."
For more information: http://www.commoncouragepress.com/nocontest.html
This article is part of the free Political Literacy Course from Common Courage Press: http://www.commoncouragepress.com.To subscribe for free: mail to:
New voices needed in coverage of budget politics
By NORMAN SOLOMON
After weeks of bitter partisan wrangling over budget issues, the federal government recently began its new fiscal year. Such political confrontations have become regular events in Washington. As strategists worked overtime around the Oct. 1 deadline, news accounts routinely provided us with ping-pong journalism informing the country about the latest shots that top politicos have slammed across the net.
Lost in the medias play-by-play are some grim facts. While leading Democrats and Republicans fire off more rhetorical salvos, neither of the warring parties wants to preserve even the current (woefully inadequate) level of social spending. Neither party even has the decency to insist that federal programs for low-income Americans be adjusted for inflation.
Meanwhile, the nations military tab already exceeding three-quarters of a billion dollars per day is scheduled to rise by more than $100 billion over the next five years. On Capitol Hill and in the news media, there are some heated debates over exactly which jet bombers, battleships and missile systems to build. But few journalists probe why Congress and the president are so determined to fatten Pentagon pork while slashing domestic programs.
From all appearances, the current beating of plowshares into swords hardly causes a ripple of concern in the national press corps. Instead, corporate-oriented policy wonking is so pervasive that journalists and government officials seem pleased to be speaking the same jargon while winking at the same assumptions.
But when it comes to focusing on federal budget priorities, what would happen if mainstream media outlets pulled themselves out of timeworn ruts moving beyond the usual discourse among elites and opting instead for some semblance of democratic debate involving the country at large?
In this hypothetical media world, it wouldnt matter how much big money was arrayed behind the advocates of certain policies. Reporters, editors and producers would conduct themselves as facilitators of democratic discourse not mouthpieces for the most powerful institutions clustered along Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street. To media professionals, the human voices representing grass-roots constituencies would matter more than any big-money amplification system.
"Dream on," you might say. Agreed, its hard to imagine political media coverage tilted by civic participation rather than capital accumulation. But lets try.
In the midst of an intense national debate over federal budget priorities, TV networks could broadcast live from food stamp offices, emergency rooms at public hospitals, day care centers, school breakfast cafeterias, drug rehabilitation centers and nursing homes for elderly Americans on fixed incomes. Speaking as participants in national policy debates rather than as subjects of fragmentary feature stories, people could talk about how their lives are directly affected by Washingtons budget crunchers and political calculators.
Instead of merely airing the conventional perseverations coming from pundits like George Will, Cokie Roberts, Mark Shields and Paul Gigot, the networks could bring us the views of Americans who are working longer hours under more stressful conditions to make ends meet.
The new commentators wouldnt be old hands at sitting in TV studios. But they could talk about what its like to be a worker whos paying higher and higher health-care premiums for deteriorating medical coverage. And they could discuss many other daily manifestations of economic inequities.
The fresh policy analysts would have more than fleeting interest in assessing the huge gaps between Americas rich and poor. So, it wouldnt be a one-day story when updated figures from the Congressional Budget Office supplied more evidence that Americas prosperity has been hijacked for the wealthy.
Last month, the budget office provided some telling numbers. Since 1977, the 1 percent of Americans with the highest income have boosted their incomes by a whopping 119 percent. But when we look downward on the nations income ladder, the gains dissipate and then actually turn into losses.
The one-fifth of the population with the highest income gained 38 percent since 1977. The middle one-fifth lost 3 percent. And the bottom one-fifth the people least able to afford setbacks actually lost 12 percent of their incomes in real terms.
To the vast majority of the famous journalists who tell us the meaning of the latest budget maneuvers in Washington, such figures are not of great consequence. The renowned pundits are good at echoing themselves. Most of the rest of the country is left out of the discussion.
Federal budget: whats in it for us
BY MYRTLE OSNER
We received, via friend Phyllis Harvey, the accompanying information and graphics from the Center for Defense Information, and the Friends Committee on Legislation. Then, reading Molly Ivins column Monday Oct 11, as well as the Church Women United publication Inform and Act, Im finally moved to comment. Of course I cant do it nearly as well as Molly Ivins, with her wonderful sarcasm and sense of humor. And the Federal Budget isnt the sexiest of topics. But here goes, anyway.
I dont suppose that the average American has noticed that the Congress is working on what they call a "balanced" budget. Balanced by whom? Well, of course, it will take away from the poor and give to the rich, the opposite of Robin Hood tactics. For instance:
Student loan borrowers will have their fees increased.
Medicare recipients will receive less medical coverage.
Children of low-income families will no longer receive child care support.
Senior citizens who receive meals on wheels will no longer be fed.
Ditto for school children who are on the low-income lunch or breakfast program. This is just a small example of how the federal budget will touch the poorest of our society.
And who will get the benefit of "tax cuts" which are being trumpeted by Congress?
Guess: 81 percent of the tax cuts will go to the top 20 percent of households, while the bottom 60 percent of households would receive only 9 percent of the benefits. More than one tenth of the tax cuts are new corporate subsidies. For instance, Georgia Pacific will be able to claim expanded tax credits and deductions for investing in clearing land and planting trees for timber production. Lockheed Martin will get tax exemptions for a portion of the profits they make selling weapons to foreign countries. But why go on?
The military budget is the most bloated ever. Items that the military hasnt even asked for are already being added. This is the height of pork barrel politics. As Molly Ivins says, the Navy doesnt even want one ship to be built at a cost of $1.5 billion in Senator Trent Lotts district in Mississippi. Dept. of Defense requested one C-130 transport for 1999. Congress authorized seven. The Navy wants to retire four of its eighteen Trident nuclear submarines. The savings would be between $4 and $5 billion. Congress ignores the navys request. I can remember years ago when the peace community was demonstrating against these submarines, yet they are still with us. The military budget already accounts for more than half of all discretionary spending in the Federal Budget. And WE are paying for all this.
Does it sound outrageous to you that military spending for fiscal year 2000 will be almost $290 billion, and all other domestic discretionary spending will total $246 billion, the biggest disparity in modern times.? We DO NOT have a budget surplus. If military spending continues at the present rate, we would have to cut everything else by 20 percent: education, the FBI, highways, parks, agriculture, job training, housing, Amtrak, Medical research, environmental programs, Head Start, etc. The only thing that wouldnt be cut, according to Congress, that is, would be Social Security . If you believe that, I have a bridge Id like to sell you.
ACTION: Write your Congressman and Senators. The Senators are Diane Feinstein(email) and Barbara Boxer(email), Hart Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Our Congressman is Gary Condit(email), here in Modesto at 920 16th St., 95354, or Rayburn Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20515. Email addresses can also be found on Facts for Voters, a flyer available at any library or from the League of Women Voters.
On herding cats
By WILLIAM E. BISHOP
One of the primary pastimes of our New Populists is the bashing of others those who are not "one of us." These bashing sessions follow a very rigid format: the leader of the session, who will be regarded as a deep-thinking pundit, begins by disavowing any knowledge or familiarity with the group under attack. The approach taken here follows the "I dont know anything about art, but " form. In essence, the basher announces beforehand his or her complete ignorance of the subject at hand. This is code: the essential ignorance having been established, the bashing that follows will be a sharing of fear, hatred, ignorance, misinformation and outright lies. And anyone looking for a balanced discussion of truth or factuality will be very quickly reminded that "if you arent one of us you dont belong here."
One of the favorite victims of these Populist bashing sessions is the so-called "liberal intellectual." (a show of hands here is anyone surprised?) Usually the bashers dont even bother to specify liberal any intellectual is suspect, even my own favorite, William F. Buckley. Since these people reject intellectuals, preferring to espouse the Populist tradition of ignorance, I suppose it is only proper to suggest the resurrection of the term Ignoramus to refer to this elite leadership corps of the ignoratti.
One writer of a column recently published in the daily paper delivered an opinion which was a classic example of the "black is really white" big lie that only the truly ignorant excel at. I would consider this writer an "Ignoramus", since the writer was bashing intellectuals and clearly would not wish to be considered one. The lie as stated was: " the prevailing view of Americas self-professed intellectual elite and the left-wing radicals who control the Democratic Party ." "Self-professed intellectuals?" Hows that again? When was the last time you heard someone say, "Hey everybody, listen to me, cause Im an intellectual!" When was the last time you heard anyone lay claim to being an intellectual for any reason? In my circles, the term intellectual is an honorific to be bestowed upon one by others. Or a pejorative, depending upon your political agenda. And while Im on the subject, just what exactly is an intellectual, anyway? And to suggest that a group of them might become organized is to speak of the practicality of herding cats. On the other hand, I think that one is much more likely to meet a "self-professed Christian" than a "self-professed Intellectual."
There is a fair amount of information that can be extracted from a lie such as this. Consider what happens to the lie if we reverse the polarity of the statement: the prevailing view of Americas self-professed Christians and right-wing radicals who control the Republican Party. . This modification gives us a more realistic view of the status quo, but we already knew this. No surprises. But if we then change it to make a statement about the Democratic Party, what now becomes apparent is that the self-professed Christians and right-wing radicals have not gained control of the Democratic Party yet . (Logic is such a wonderful thing!)
Unfortunately, this brief glimpse into the writers personal agenda was not the only nugget to be found in the column. The second part of the writers lie is truly grim. Writing of the "two basic reasons" behind the attempt to separate Church and State (neither of which, apparently, is the Constitution), we are asked to believe that "the second reason for outlawing religion derives from the lobbying of those who wish their sins declared virtues. They seek the validation of the law, in the futile belief that the legal right to be wrong makes wrong right."
It would seem that the writer is engaging in what we learned to call "projection" in Psych 1A. Isnt it right-wing Christians who are lobbying mightily to undo the Constitutional separation of Church and State? Is it not some right-wing Christians who are attempting to subvert the Constitution in every way they can?
If the new unholy Christian Constitution becomes ratified, are there any doubts that the hypocrites among us will labor and lobby hard to have sin criminalized? This hint of things to come under the New Christian Tyranny is not at all appetizing.
Maybe the Ignoramus quoted here really believes all this tripe. I could accept that the writer really believes that "liberal intellectuals" are still pushing for a socialist coup. But to believe this is to be egregiously out of touch with reality. Do we dare disrupt this reverie to point out that socialism is no longer at the cutting edge of intellectual thought? And do we really dare to point out that "liberal intellectuals" (if any there be) have moved on to far more insidious and mind-rotting schemes such as medical care for the poor? Heaven forfend!
DEADLINE TO SUBMIT ARTICLES TO CONNECTIONS.
Tenth of each month. Submit peace, justice and environmentally friendly event notices to P.O. Box 134, Modesto, CA, 95353, or call 522-4967 or 575-4299, or email to email@example.com. Free listings subject to space, availability and editing.