9/25/2007

Democrats Admit: Democrat Voters are Stupid

The article referenced above (click on the headline) is about the Supreme Court hearing a case, but to me the arguments against the law are telling a very interesting story.

Lawyers say that a law requiring photo ID for voting will hurt Democratic candidates more than Republican candidates, because it is a hassle for the "elderly, poor, disabled or homeless." What they are saying is that these people who normally vote for Democrats (I suppose because Democrats promise them free stuff) are not smart enough to get a state-issued ID card. Or perhaps they are saying that this group is not capable of keeping such an ID card.

Of course, it would make voting by the dead much more difficult too, which is often a factor in Democratic victories.


Here is the text of the article, just in case the link goes bad:


Supreme Court to decide photo ID voting law
Tue Sep 25, 2007 11:22am EDT

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court said on Tuesday it would rule on whether U.S. voters must show a government-issued photo identification at the polls, a divisive issue ahead of next year's national elections.

The justices said they would review a U.S. appeals court ruling that upheld an Indiana law considered the most restrictive in the nation requiring voters to present a photo ID issued by the state or federal government, such as a driver's license or a passport.

The 2005 law, which applies to both primary and general elections, has been challenged by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Indiana Democratic Party for imposing an unfair burden on the right to vote, especially on the elderly, poor, disabled or homeless.

Indiana was one of a number of states to enact such laws in the wake of voter fraud allegations in Florida and elsewhere during the closely fought 2000 elections.

Before 2002, few states had voter identification requirements and no state required photo identification. Now, 26 states have some form of a voter identification law, and six states require photo identification at the time of voting.

The only exception to the proof-of-identification requirement in Indiana is if the person lived in a state-licensed facility, such as a nursing home, and voted there.

MAY DETER DEMOCRATS FROM VOTING

The Indiana law was one of 17 cases the Supreme Court agreed to decide during its upcoming term that begins on October 1. The justices met on Monday to review some 2,000 appeals that piled up during its three-month summer recess and selected the 17 cases to decide.

Attorneys challenging the Indiana law urged the Supreme Court to resolve the law's constitutionality, calling it an issue of great national importance ahead of the 2008 presidential and congressional elections.

The appeals court upheld the law, even though it acknowledged it would deter some people from voting, and that those deterred are more likely to vote for Democratic rather than Republican candidates.

The lawyers challenging the law said the appeals court's decision undermined the fundamental right of individuals to vote.

Indiana officials opposed the appeal.

State Solicitor General Thomas Fisher said granting Supreme Court review of the issue now would likely prompt a spate of lawsuits across the nation that would disrupt the 2008 presidential primaries and create new uncertainty over the validity of all voter identification requirements.

He said the justices should wait for another case after the 2008 elections.

But the Supreme Court rejected that recommendation. It is expected to hear arguments in the case early next year, with a decision due by the end of June.



© Reuters2007All rights reserved

Who values the truth?

By Dennis Prager

There are conservatives who lie and there are liberals who lie. Neither blue nor red has a monopoly on truth-tellers.


However, unless one denies that there are distinctive values on the right and on the left - a proposition that no serious liberal or conservative would deny - how much truth is valued may be different for the right and the left.


In the hierarchy of leftist (as opposed to traditional liberal) values, truth is below other values, such as equality, opposition to war, the promotion of secularism and a number of other highly regarded values on the left.


This does not mean that the number of truth-tellers among individuals on the left is necessarily smaller than the number of individual truth-tellers on the right. It means that truth-telling is not high on the left's list of values.


Since this is, obviously, a generalization, and a negative one at that, anyone who makes this generalization is obligated to provide arguments and examples.


The first example is what is known as political correctness. Leftist denial of what is true is so widespread that we have a term for it, political correctness. There is no comparable right-wing political correctness, i.e., denying truths so as not to offend right-wing values or certain groups.


For example, among many on the left, especially academics, it has been almost impossible for decades to tell the truth about the innate differences between men and women because of the leftist dogma of innate similarities between the sexes. So deep is the left's hostility to truth regarding the sexes that a president of Harvard University was forced from office after suggesting that men's and women's brains process math and some science differently.


Similarly, many leftist professors at Duke University used the false rape charges against three white lacrosse players to reinforce the left-wing belief (itself not true) that America is racist. The truth was not nearly as important to them as proving how racist whites are.


Textbooks. A prime example of the left's view of truth is its changing the goal of high school American history textbooks from telling truth to promoting self-esteem among minority and female students by depicting more women and more non-whites in American history textbooks.


"Bush is a liar." Currently, the most widely repeated lie of the left is that President George W. Bush lied about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. It is repeated so often ("Bush lied, people died") that many Americans now believe this. But it is not true. There were valid reasons for anyone to believe that Saddam Hussein had WMD. Saddam had used them in the past; he refused to allow unfettered inspections; he was the major foreign sponsor of Palestinian terror; and most important, virtually all Western intelligence agencies believed Saddam had WMD.


Nor did President Bush lie, as the left frequently charges, about Saddam seeking uranium in the African nation of Niger. The president said in his 2003 State of the Union address that "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." That was exactly what British intelligence reported, and the British intelligence is now widely believed to have been accurate. It is a left-wing lie that President Bush lied when he spoke those now famous 16 words.


Callling liberals "unpatriotic." Another lie of the left is that Republicans and conservatives regularly label opponents of the war in Iraq "unpatriotic." Thus, during the CNN/YouTube debate, Sen. Hillary Clinton claimed that "I asked the Pentagon a simple question: 'Have you prepared for withdrawing our troops?' In response, I got a letter accusing me of being unpatriotic." That is - and this is not said easily - a lie. Anyone who reads the Defense Department response to Sen. Clinton will see that what she claims is entirely untrue. Her patriotism, or lack of it, was not even hinted at. Moreover, it is rare almost to the point of nonexistent for mainstream Republicans or conservatives to call any liberal critic of the Bush administration "unpatriotic."


The homeless, heterosexual AIDS and rape. For years, mainstream liberal news media purveyed false information supplied by Mitch Snyder, the major liberal activist on behalf of the homeless. Likewise, we were told by gay and AIDS activist groups that AIDS "doesn't discriminate," meaning that heterosexuals in America were as likely to contract the HIV virus as homosexuals. It was never true in America (Africa may be another story for other reasons). Feminist groups have offered statistics on rape and sexual violence that are patently false.


Few liberal activist groups tell the truth. Not because their members are liars - in private life they may well be as honest as anyone else - but because whatever the left advocates it deems more important than truth.


This does not mean the right is always honest. For example, conservatives who say that "pornography causes rape" are doing what the left does - putting their agenda, in this case a loathing of pornography, above truth-telling. I have seen no credible statistics linking the proliferation of pornography with increased rape.


But when the left ceaselessly repeats the mantra "Bush lied," it may simply be projecting onto George W. Bush what comes quite naturally to the left - when it offers false Iraqi death statistics, false homeless data, false rape statistics, false secondhand smoke statistics, false claims about the percentage of gays in the population, and false claims of just about everything else the left cares about.

9/21/2007

George Soros

George Soros: The Man, The Mind And The Money Behind MoveOn

INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY

Posted 9/20/2007

The Left: The smear ad published against Gen. Petraeus has drawn attention to its sponsor, MoveOn.org. But the fingerprints of the group's chief financial backer, George Soros, were all over it. Who is this man and what is he up to?

To read Soros' own spun story, he's a Jewish survivor of Nazi-occupied Hungary who pulled himself up by his bootstraps, studied economics in England, became a U.S. citizen in 1961 and made a multibillion-dollar fortune as a financier who pioneered hedge funds.

Over the years, Soros has written books giving his philosophical take on global affairs and acquired a reputation as something of a "stateless statesman." He calls himself a philanthropist and has given away $5 billion of his now $8.5 billion fortune through his principal vehicle, the Open Society Institute. The institute, in turn, has passed cash on to far more radical groups, such as MoveOn.org.

But Soros is no hands-off donor. According to the Open Society Institute's Web site: "Despite the breadth of his endeavors, Soros is personally involved in planning and implementing many of the foundation network's projects."

Soros says he gives away about $400 million annually.

It's an admirable picture, but "philanthropy" may be the wrong word. Unlike, say, Bill Gates, who really does put the bulk of his charity into helping the world's poor through medical services, Soros tends to fund pressure groups and foundations he misleadingly characterizes as promoting "civil society" and "democracy."

The image gives him moral cover to manipulate democracies whose voter verdicts he opposes.


Tearing Down America


The first groups Soros supported back in the 1980s did play a role in undercutting the rickety communist regimes of Eastern Europe. But his motives seemed less than idealistic. All Soros groups tend to tear down tyrannies rather than build up democracies.

And since 2003, tearing down what he views as the "fascist" tyranny of the United States, as he has put it, is "the central focus of my life."

Through networks of nongovernmental organizations, Soros intends to ruin the presidency of George W. Bush "by any legal means necessary" and knock America off its global pedestal. "His view of America is so negative," says Sen. Joe Lieberman, who, like Gen. David Petraeus, has been a target of Soros' electoral "philanthropy." "The places he's put his money are . . . so destructive that it unsettles me." Soros' aim seems to be to make the U.S. just another client state easily controlled by the United Nations and other one-world groups where he has lots of friends.

Best known among these groups is MoveOn.org, a previously small fringe-left group to which Soros has given $5 million since 2004. Bulked up by cash, the group now uses professional public relations tactics to undercut the Iraq War effort, with its latest a full-page New York Times ad that branded Gen. Petraeus "General Betray Us."

It ran Sept. 10 in the New York Times, the same day Petraeus delivered his progress report on the surge in Iraq.

MoveOn.org previously put out ads depicting Bush as a Nazi, something that certainly echoes Soros' sentiment.

"We have to go through a certain de-Nazification process," he told this year's Davos conference in Switzerland.


Moving On To The Far Left


MoveOn.org was also pivotal in getting Howard Dean elected chairman of the Democratic Party in a bid to push the party to the far left.

Soros acolyte Arianna Huffington is on record as advocating that outcome. Berating Democrats for their electoral losses in 2004, she wrote: "Have these people learned nothing from 2000, 2002 and 2004? How many more concession speeches do they have to give - from 'the center' - before they realize it's not a very fruitful place?"

Soros also has financed spin outfits such as Media Matters that specialize in providing distorted conservative political statements as grist for leftist politicians and media.

Media Matters (and MoveOn.org) succeeded last year in denying incumbent Lieberman the Democratic nomination for Senate in Connecticut and effectively drove the moderate out of his own party. Net result: Fewer Democrats, including today's crop running for office, are willing to challenge any Soros-financed pressure group.


Money & Elections


Soros' efforts go beyond spin. He has also bankrolled groups involved in the manipulation of elections, an activity that has increased since his money came into the picture. Two groups - Americans Coming Together and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - were sanctioned recently by the Federal Election Commission for fraud.

Soros pledged $10 million to ACT, which has since been fined $775,000 for illegally funneling $70 million set aside for voter registrations to Democratic candidates.

He also gave at least $150,000 to ACORN, the left-wing group best known for pushing minimum-wage hikes, marching for illegal-immigrant amnesty and harassing Wal-Mart. ACORN has been accused of voter fraud in 13 states since 2004 and was convicted of falsifying signatures in a voter registration drive last July, drawing a fine of $25,000 in Washington state.

Soros says he has ended funding to voter-drive organizations, but he still heads a secretive rich-man's club called "Democracy Alliance" that has doled out $20 million to activist groups like ACORN.

It's also noteworthy that the Soros-funded MoveOn.org advocates "paper-trail" electronic voting in the U.S., the same kind used in Venezuela, where allegations of electronic fraud and ballot secrecy violations have ended confidence in the system and sealed Chavez's dictatorship.


Terrorist-Friendly Groups


Soros additionally finances groups best described as helpful to terrorists. Since 1998, he has given the American Civil Liberties Union $5 million to empower criminals, including lawsuits on behalf of terrorists' "civil rights."

Soros' Open Society Institute gave $20,000 for the legal defense of radical attorney Lynne Stewart. She was convicted in 2002 of abetting jailed terrorists after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Soros is also involved in the financing of a 9/11 memorial at ground zero, the World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex - which critics say blames the U.S. for 9/11.

"Bush says (the terrorists) hate us for what we are, not what we do, and I think that's false," Soros told an audience at UC Berkeley last year.

He has handed $3.1 million to the left-wing Tides Foundation, which funds organizations, such as the Sea Shepherds, Earth First! and the Ruckus Society, that have condoned or engaged in eco-terrorism.

On the international front, Soros-backed groups have undercut important U.S. allies, including Israel and Colombia, which have aligned with the U.S. rather than the U.N.

Both see their sovereignty as non-negotiable, view victory over their enemies as an absolute good and refuse to become failed states - all anathema to the thinking of Soros. His Human Rights Watch repeatedly attempts to portray both nations as pariah states.


One World Government


Soros additionally finances groups supporting the interests of one-world government. While he has criticized the United Nations occasionally, he favors U.N. dominance in world affairs, sees the European Union as a model for "open society" and has called for a global central bank.

Anyone who doesn't agree with this vision, or who doesn't fit cozily into his multilateral model, gets a visit from Soros-backed groups.

MoveOn.org, for example, led the charge to keep John Bolton out of a permanent seat in the U.N., and Bankwatch piled on to topple Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank.

In fact, pick any cause that seeks to weaken the U.S. and it's hard not to find Soros' name on its list of financial backers. Most of these causes are financed by relatively small amounts, but that's all that's needed to make trouble.

And without the cash, countless bad ideas would have no presence in American political debate at all.

What keeps these groups on cue, and Democrats in line, is the prospect that any funding from Soros can be stepped up to massive levels. It's probably no coincidence that Soros was a big backer of campaign finance reforms that have allowed nominally nonpartisan groups like MoveOn.org to strike with the kinds of tactics they are using.

Soros usually doesn't offer up or endorse specific candidates for office. His chief aim seems to be tearing down Bush, driving the Democrats to the far left and enforcing party discipline through fear. In fact, he seems to like keeping Democrats guessing whether or not he's offended.

The strategy seems to be working. No Democrat had the courage to cross MoveOn.org after its libelous Petraeus ad. On Thursday, a symbolic vote in Congress censuring MoveOn.org for the Petraeus ad passed, but with the notable absence of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Election looming, neither wants to cross Soros' MoveOn.org.

Soros himself does not believe in victory in Iraq and wants to keep America from achieving it.

"The war on terror cannot be won," he has said.

More on NY Times Re: Moveon.org Ad

Subsidizing Sedition

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, September 13, 2007 4:20 PM PT

Media: The New York Times gives moveon.org a discount on a full-page ad smearing Gen. David Petraeus.


Does anyone think for a minute that the Times would grant a similar discount for a group backing Petraeus?

This being a nation where speech is - or should be - absolutely free, moveon.org has every right to express its opinions. And the New York Times has just as much right to publish any opinion it wishes.

That said, there's an ugliness about this moveon.org advertisement that many Americans recognize immediately. And they no doubt agree with Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch who, in unusually blunt language on the Senate floor this week, said of its sponsors:

"These people are nuts."

The screed below the photograph of Petraeus isn't the work of a rational person or group making a cogent argument. It reads like the unhinged scrawling of someone suffering acutely from Bush Derangement Syndrome - the condition that has rendered much of the Democratic Party and most on the left incoherent.

Whatever President Bush supports, they oppose. To them, the man Americans trusted enough to elect twice is nothing but an imperialist monster who stomps on civil rights.

The Sulzberger family that owns the Times should be ashamed for allowing the ad to run at all. No one would have faulted them for turning it down for reasons of taste and/or an unwillingness to be associated with such an extreme, hate-filled group.

But they not only took the ad, they subsidized moveon.org's vitriol by cutting its usual price for a full page from $181,692 to $65,000.

But then, what else should we expect? The ad, which was timed to coincide with Petraeus' congressional testimony on the progress of the war in Iraq, fits nicely with the Times' own view of the war.

To paraphrase moveon.org, the Times has been at war with the war in Iraq and the global war on terrorism for years, and it seems to be intent on undermining U.S. efforts to win both. At least three times in 2005 and 2006, America's newspaper of record published reports revealing details of secret security programs designed to foil terrorists. How much damage that did to our war effort we may never know.

The Times is not alone, however, in fighting its war. Others in the mainstream media have also done their part - even to the point of refusing to run ads in support of the war effort, as was the case with CNBC and MSNBC last month. NBC tried to explain away the rejection by citing network policy to reject ads from groups that touch on controversial issues of public importance.

Never mind that organizations such as the conservative Move America Forward, the political American Medical Association and the nonprofit Save Darfur Coalition have aired their commercials on the NBC network.

With its supposedly clever wording, moveon.org's ad suggests that General Petraeus - or General "Betray Us," as the headline says, is a traitor to his nation. But it's moveon.org - not the man who's trying to protect our safety - that's flirting with treason here.

This is an organization, after all, that in 2004 allowed a video comparing Bush to Adolf Hitler to appear on its Web site.

That's not sedition, but it clearly illustrates the sort of twisted thinking that animates the group and its followers. No one should be surprised to find elements within moveon.org who might think toppling the U.S. government - at least one headed by George W. Bush - is not such a bad thing.

9/18/2007

Iranian Slaves Forced to Protest Against France and USA


Just click the title for the story. The picture says it all, though, really.

I'm sure the women of Iran are really happy that the Shah was deposed and they were restored to their rightful place in society according to Islamic law... slaves in clown suits, without the right to even think on their own.

9/16/2007

France Finally Grows a Backbone

France warning of war with Iran

French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner says the world should prepare for war over Iran's nuclear programme.

"We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war," Mr Kouchner said in an interview on French TV and radio.

Mr Kouchner said negotiations with Iran should continue "right to the end", but an Iranian nuclear weapon would pose "a real danger for the whole world".

Iran has consistently denied it is trying to acquire nuclear weapons but intends to carry on enriching uranium.

Mr Kouchner also said a number of large French companies had been asked not to tender for business in Iran.

EU sanctions

"We are not banning French companies from submitting. We have advised them not to. These are private companies."

"But I think that it has been heard and we are not the only ones to have done this."

He said France wanted the European Union to prepare sanctions against Iran.

"We have decided that while negotiations are continuing to prepare eventual sanctions outside the ambit of UN sanctions. Our good friends, the Germans, suggested that," he said.

Until now the Security Council of the United Nations has imposed economic sanctions on Iran, but did not allow for military action.

The United States has not ruled out a military attack against Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

9/14/2007

Blogger gets 4 years for insulting Islam

Thursday, February 22, 2007 • Last updated 9:28 a.m. PT
By NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt -- An Egyptian blogger was convicted Thursday and sentenced to four years in prison for insulting Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and Egypt's president, sending a chill through fellow Internet writers who fear a government crackdown.
Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 22-year-old former student at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, an Islamic institution, was a vocal secularist and sharp critic of conservative Muslims in his blog. He also lashed out often at Al-Azhar - the most prominent religious center in Sunni Islam - calling it "the university of terrorism" and accusing it of encouraging extremism.
His conviction brought a flood of condemnations from Amnesty International and other international and Egyptian rights group and stunned fellow bloggers.
"I am shocked," said Wael Abbas, a blogger who writes frequently about police abuses and other human rights violations in Egypt. "This is a terrible message to anyone who intends to express his opinion and to bloggers in particular."
Judge Ayman al-Akazi issued the verdict in a brief, five-minute session in a court in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. He sentenced Nabil to three years in prison for insulting Islam and the prophet and inciting sectarian strife and another year for insulting President Hosni Mubarak.
Nabil, wearing a gray T-shirt and sitting in the defendants pen, gave no reaction and his face remained still as the verdict was read. He made no comment to reporters as he was immediate led outside to a prison truck.
Seconds after he was loaded into the truck and the door closed, an Associated Press reporter heard the sound of a slap from inside the vehicle and a shriek of pain from Nabil.
His lawyer, Ahmed Seif el-Islam, said he would appeal the verdict, saying the ruling will "terrify other bloggers and will negative impact on the freedom of expression in Egypt." Nabil had faced a possible maximum sentence of up to nine years in prison.
Egypt arrested a number of bloggers last year, most of them for connections to Egypt's pro-democracy reform movement. Nabil was arrested in November, and while other bloggers were freed, Nabil was put on trial - a sign of the sensitivity of his writings on religion.
Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a pro-reform blogger who was detained for six weeks last year, said the conviction for insulting Mubarak will "have a chilling effect on the rest of the bloggers."
"We (the Egyptian people) are enduring oppression, poverty and torture, so the least we can do is insult the president," he said.
Amnesty International, the New York-based Human Rights Watch and the France-based press rights group Reporters Without Borders - along with a string of Egyptian rights group - warned that the ruling would hurt freedom of expression in Egypt, a top U.S. ally in the Mideast. Amnesty said it considered Nabil a "prisoner of conscience."
Nabil, who used the blogger name Kareem Amer, was an unusually scathing critic of conservative Muslims - and his frequent attacks on Al-Azhar, where he was a law student, led to the university expelling him in March. Al-Azhar then pushed for prosecutors to bring him to trial. His writings also appeared on a Arabic Web magazine called "Modern Discussion."
The judge said Nabil insulted Islam's Prophet Muhammad with a piece he wrote in late 2005 after riots in which angry Muslim worshippers attacked a Coptic Christian church over a play put on by Christians deemed offensive to Islam.
Egypt arrested a number of bloggers last year, most of them for connections to Egypt's pro-democracy reform movement. Nabil was arrested in November, and while other bloggers were freed, Nabil was put on trial - a sign of the sensitivity of his writings on religion.
Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a pro-reform blogger who was detained for six weeks last year, said the conviction for insulting Mubarak will "have a chilling effect on the rest of the bloggers."
"We (the Egyptian people) are enduring oppression, poverty and torture, so the least we can do is insult the president," he said.
Amnesty International, the New York-based Human Rights Watch and the France-based press rights group Reporters Without Borders - along with a string of Egyptian rights group - warned that the ruling would hurt freedom of expression in Egypt, a top U.S. ally in the Mideast. Amnesty said it considered Nabil a "prisoner of conscience."
Nabil, who used the blogger name Kareem Amer, was an unusually scathing critic of conservative Muslims - and his frequent attacks on Al-Azhar, where he was a law student, led to the university expelling him in March. Al-Azhar then pushed for prosecutors to bring him to trial. His writings also appeared on a Arabic Web magazine called "Modern Discussion."
The judge said Nabil insulted Islam's Prophet Muhammad with a piece he wrote in late 2005 after riots in which angry Muslim worshippers attacked a Coptic Christian church over a play put on by Christians deemed offensive to Islam.
-----
Abdel-Kareem Nabil's blog, in Arabic:
http://karam903.blogspot.com/
Nabil's writings on the Modern Discussion site, in Arabic:
http://www.rezgar.com/m.asp?i432
-----
AP correspondent Maggie Michael in Cairo contributed to this report.

Wild CIA tale scams 22 out of almost $1 million

La. woman faces prison for making claims involving satellites and spies

Updated: 7:59 a.m. PT Jan 22, 2007

SHREVEPORT, La. - She claimed to be a CIA agent who could have satellites scan people’s bodies for disease, then have CIA agents administer secret medicines to them while they slept.
As far-fetched as her story was, Stacey Finley convinced 22 neighbors, in-laws and friends in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi to pay her nearly $1 million over the past six years.
The 34-year-old Farmerville resident will be sentenced May 7 on one charge of wire fraud. Until then, she is under house arrest, U.S. Attorney Donald Washington said.
She pleaded guilty Tuesday and could get up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000. As part of her guilty plea, she acknowledged that the judge must order her to repay the money, and that she defrauded her victims of $989,898.
She is “a predator who preyed on basic human fears,” and deserves the maximum, Washington said. However, the guilty plea calls for some consideration that her guilty plea allowed the government to avoid the cost of preparing for trial.
Prosecutors described the victims as “solid, middle-class, educated citizens” who ranged from young adults to elderly. Most were friends and relatives of Finley’s husband, authorities said.
“She can be best be thought of as a cult-like, charismatic personality who could convince the victims this scam was real,” Washington said.
Husband not charged
According to investigators, Finley claimed she could arrange a satellite scan of her victims’ bodies, detecting hidden medical problems, and that CIA agents would then enter their homes while they slept and administer secret medicines that would prevent serious health problems and hereditary diseases
Some of the victims depleted their savings, pensions and life insurance to pay her, authorities said.
Authorities said Finley used the money for living expenses, mortgage payments and clothes — although she and her husband had five vehicles. Most things were paid for with cash.
The husband has not been charged. Washington would not say if he is being investigated.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

9/13/2007

Sam Harris on Morality

"religion remains the only mode of discourse that encourages grown men and women to pretend to know things they manifestly do not (and cannot) know"


In his essay, "Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion, "Jonathan Haidt worries that the "new atheists"-Dawkins, Dennett, and I-may be "polluting the scientific study of religion with moralistic dogma and damaging the prestige of science in the process." According to Haidt, Dawkins becomes the Grand Inquisitor whenever the topic of group selection is politely raised; Dennett has misinterpreted the literature on religion and morality for reasons inscrutable; and for my part, I am merely waging war with straw men. As luck would have it, Haidt comes to this debate in the guise an increasingly familiar "straw man"-that of the liberal, atheist scientist who would deliver us to the threshold of moral relativism, if not across it, with the best of intentions.

Haidt concludes his essay with this happy blandishment: "every longstanding ideology and way of life contains some wisdom, some insights into ways of suppressing selfishness, enhancing cooperation, and ultimately enhancing human flourishing." Surely we can all agree about this. Our bets have been properly hedged (the ideology must be "longstanding" and need only have "some" wisdom). Even a "new atheist" must get off his high horse and drink from such pristine waters. Well, okay...

Anyone feeling nostalgic for the "wisdom" of the Aztecs? Rest assured, there's nothing like the superstitious murder of innocent men, women, and children to "suppress selfishness" and convey a shared sense of purpose. Of course, the Aztecs weren't the only culture to have discovered "human flourishing" at its most sanguinary and psychotic. The Sumerians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Canaanites, Maya, Inca, Olmecs, Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, Teutons, Celts, Druids, Vikings, Gauls, Hindus, Thais, Chinese, Japanese, Scandinavians, Maoris, Melanesias, Tahitians, Hawaiians, Balinese, Australian aborigines, Iroquois, Huron, Cherokee, and numerous other societies ritually murdered their fellow human beings because they believed that invisible gods and goddesses, having an appetite for human flesh, could be so propitiated. Many of their victims were of the same opinion, in fact, and went willingly to slaughter, fully convinced that their deaths would transform the weather, or cure the king of his venereal disease, or in some other way spare their fellows the wrath of the Unseen.

What would Haidt have us think about these venerable traditions of pious ignorance and senseless butchery? Is there some wisdom in these cults of human sacrifice that we should now honor? Must we take care not to throw out the baby with the bathwater? Or might we want to eat that baby instead? Indeed, many of these societies regularly terminated their rituals of sacred murder with a cannibal feast. Is my own revulsion at these practices a sign that I view these distant cultures with the blinkered gaze of a colonialist? Shall we just reserve judgment until more of the facts are in? When does scientific detachment become perverse? When might it be suicidal?

Despite Haidt's suggestion to the contrary, it actually matters what people believe. Most religious practices are the direct consequence of what people think is actually going on in the world. In fact, most religious practices only become intelligible once we understand the beliefs that first gave rise to them. The fact that some people have begun to doubt these doctrines in the meantime, while still mouthing the liturgy and aping the rituals, is beside the point. What religion, after all, is best exemplified by those who are in the process of losing it?

Haidt draws comfort from the fact that even biblical literalists occasionally yield to common sense and ignore their holy books. Of course they do: their holy books are not only bursting with ancient ignorance-they are actually self-contradictory. Is Haidt suggesting that there are no real religious fundamentalists out there at all, or that their numbers are negligible? According to a recent poll, thirty-six percent of British Muslims (ages 16-24) think apostates should be put to death for their unbelief. Just how much exculpatory sociology is Haidt inclined to do in this area so as to get Islam entirely off the hook? When is a belief system not only false, but so encouraging of falsity and needless suffering as to be worthy, not merely of our understanding, but of our contempt?

Haidt offers us a choice between "contractual" and "beehive" approaches to morality-the first is said to be the province of liberals like myself, who care only about harm/care and fairness/reciprocity; the second represents the social order imposed by conservative religion, which incorporates further concerns about ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. The opposition between these two conceptions of the good life may be useful to talk about, and the data Haidt presents about the differences between liberals and conservatives is interesting, but is his interpretive scheme correct? I have my doubts. It seems possible, for instance, that these five foundations of morality are simply facets of a more general concern for harm/care.

What, after all, is the problem with desecrating a copy of the Qur'an or taking the Lord's name in vain? Well, if a person really believes that the Qur'an is a sacred text or that God is listening, he almost surely believes that some harm could come to him or to his tribe as a result of these actions-if not in this world, then in the next. Examples of this sort of thinking should come so readily to the reader's mind as to make any examples I provide superfluous (AIDS as a punishment for the sin of homosexuality? The Asian tsunami as repayment for idolatry? September 11th as the result of too little faith and too much tolerance for abortion and gay shenanigans?). A more esoteric reading might be that any person who blasphemes or desecrates will have harmed himself directly thereby: a lack of reverence might be its own punishment, dimming the eyes of faith. Whatever interpretation we favor, sacredness and authority have collapsed to the harm/care axis just the same. Perhaps Haidt's thinking on this subject has been powerfully distorted by his own atheism, as he seems incapable of seeing the world as the faithful see it. We might well wonder, at this juncture, just which of us atheists are in danger of "misunderstanding religion." At least Dennett, Dawkins, and I have made some attempt to understand what it might be like to actually believe what people of faith say they believe.

The same point can be made in the other direction: even a liberal like myself, enamored as I am of my two-footed morality, can readily see that my version of the good life must be safeguarded from the aggressive tribalism of others. When I search my heart, I discover that I want to keep the barbarians beyond the city walls as much as my conservative neighbors do, and I recognize that sacrifices of my own freedom may be warranted for this purpose. I even expect that conservative epiphanies of this sort could well multiply in the coming years-just imagine how we liberals will be disposed to think about Islam after an incident of nuclear terrorism. Liberal hankering for happiness and freedom might one day yield some very strident calls for stricter laws and tribal loyalty. Will this mean that liberals have become religious conservatives pining for the beehive? Or is the liberal notion of reducing harm flexible enough to encompass the need for order and differences between in-group and out-group?

Even if we accept Haidt's "new synthesis" without caveat, we can ask whether any given culture is raising its children to have "bad" moral intuitions and to be incapable of the sort of moral reasoning that might lead to a more enlightened outlook. Are certain conceptions of morality especially good at binding a community together, but incompatible with modernity? What if certain cultures are found to be relying upon moral codes that look terrible no matter how we squint our eyes or jigger Haidt's five variables and four principles? What if we find a culture that is neither especially sensitive to harm and reciprocity, nor especially cognizant of the sacred, nor especially conducive to human flourishing, nor especially astute in any other way? Would Haidt's conception of morality allow us to then demand that these benighted people to stop abusing their children? Or would that be unscientific?

Finally, I should mention that Haidt fails to acknowledge the central point of "new atheist" criticism. The point is not that we atheists can prove religion to be the cause of more harm than good (though I think this can be argued, and the balance seems to me to be swinging further toward harm each day). The point is that religion remains the only mode of discourse that encourages grown men and women to pretend to know things they manifestly do not (and cannot) know. If ever there were an attitude at odds with science, this is it. And the faithful are encouraged to keep shouldering this unwieldy burden of falsehood and self-deception by everyone they meet-by their coreligionists, of course, and by people of differing faith, and now, with startling frequency, by scientists who claim to have no faith. Even if Haidt's reading of the literature on morality were correct, and all this manufactured bewilderment proves to be useful in getting certain people to donate time, money, and blood to their neighbors-so what? Is science now in the business of nurturing useful delusions? Surely we can grow in altruism, and refine our ethical intuitions, and even explore the furthest reaches of human happiness, without lying to ourselves about the nature of the universe. It is time that atheist scientists, above all people on this infatuated planet, acted as if this were so.

NY Times Shows its Extreme Liberal Bias

From the New York Post:

TIMES GIVES LEFTIES A HEFTY DISCOUNT FOR 'BETRAY US' AD

By CHARLES HURT Bureau Chief

September 13, 2007 -- WASHINGTON - The New York Times dramatically slashed its normal rates for a full-page advertisement for MoveOn.org's ad questioning the integrity of Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.

Headlined "Cooking the Books for the White House," the ad which ran in Monday's Times says Petraeus is "a military man constantly at war with the facts" and concluded - even before he testified before Congress - that "General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us."

According to Abbe Serphos, director of public relations for the Times, "the open rate for an ad of that size and type is $181,692."

A spokesman for MoveOn.org confirmed to The Post that the liberal activist group had paid only $65,000 for the ad - a reduction of more than $116,000 from the stated rate.

A Post reporter who called the Times advertising department yesterday without identifying himself was quoted a price of $167,000 for a full-page black-and-white ad on a Monday.

Serphos declined to confirm the price and refused to offer any inkling for why the paper would give MoveOn.org such a discounted price.

Citing the shared liberal bent of the group and the Times, one Republican aide on Capitol Hill speculated that it was the "family discount."

"I'm surprised they had to pay anything at all for the ad," the GOP staffer said. "They could have just asked the editorial page to run it and it wouldn't have cost them a cent."

churt@nypost.com

9/12/2007

Concerned Citizen Seeks to End LOL Abuse

In response to my friend's email, in which he used the phrase "LOL" (which means Laughing Out Loud for the web-illiterate), my friend received this:

I have to start off by asking you if you actually LOL’d there, or if you are just typing that for the sake of typing it? Too many times in life people type LOL when they didn’t really LOL. Those three letters are losing all of their meaning because people just throw them around with no thought to the damage they could be causing. People type LOL for things that aren’t funny. Then you have a bunch of people going through life thinking they are funny, when in reality they aren’t funny. Someday when they actually meet face to face with a person who has been typing LOL to them in emails and text messages, they will say something that they think is funny, but the person won’t LOL. So the person will try harder to get that LOL, but lets be honest, when you try for the LOL all you get is worse jokes. So he doesn’t get the LOL, and he goes home wondering if maybe just maybe he isn’t as funny as he thought he was. If he isn’t as funny as he thought he was, are there other things in his life that aren’t what they seem? Suddenly he is questioning everything in his life. Maybe the receptionist didn’t really like his tie? Maybe his boss didn’t really like his idea? Maybe his girlfriend wasn’t “just out with the girls” last night? Suddenly he is drinking, loses his job, and winds up selling oranges on the corner of a freeway off ramp in downtown LA. All because someone carelessly threw around three letters. LOL indeed!

I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not accusing you of doing anything wrong. It is entirely possible that you actually LOL’d there and that’s perfectly acceptable. If you LOL by all means feel free to type that LOL there. Who am I to try and stop a man from LOL’ing if they are actually LOL’ing? That wouldn’t be right… However I hope that if you didn’t LOL, that at the very least, the next time you go to type those three letters, you think about how much of an impact those three letters can have on a person’s life. If you are going to LOL, at least LOL.
...

(Used with permission)

The Russians Are Coming

Britney Spears Fan Doesn't Like Critics

(Apparently) Britney's biggest fan:


Here's Britney's latest performance:

Muslim Thugs Continue Rampage of Destruction


BBC News
September 12, 2007

Attack on giant Pakistan Buddha

The Buddha at Swat was only slightly damaged
Suspected pro-Taleban militants have tried to blow up an ancient carving of Buddha in north-west Pakistan.
The statue, thought to date from the second century BC, sustained only minimal damage in the attack near Manglore in remote Swat district.

The area has seen a rise in attacks on "un-Islamic" targets in recent months.

This is the first such attack in Pakistan and is reminiscent of the Taleban's 2001 destruction of the giant Buddhas at Bamiyan in Afghanistan.

Dynamite

Officials and witnesses in Swat said armed men arrived in the area on Monday night.

"Militants drilled holes in the rock and filled them with dynamite and blew it up," provincial archaeology department official Aqleem Khan told Reuters news agency.

"The explosion damaged the upper part of the rock but there was no damage to the image itself."

An eyewitness, Shahid Khan, told the BBC that because of its location on a steep ridge the statue had been only slightly damaged. It is carved into a 40m (130-foot) high rock.

Local archaeology expert Professor Pervaiz Shaheen told the BBC that the Buddha statue in Swat valley was considered the largest in Asia, after the two Bamiyan Buddhas.

He said it was 2,200 years old. Swat valley is a centre of the ancient Gandhara civilization.

"They constructed similar smaller statues and figurines, dozens of which are still present in the area," Prof Shaheen said.

Swat has seen increased pro-Taleban activity in recent months, with the re-emergence of militant group Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) under new leader, Maulana Fazlullah.

Last week, militants blew up about 60 music, video and cosmetics stalls at a market in the valley after stall owners ignored warnings to close businesses deemed un-Islamic.

The world watched in shock in March 2001 as Afghanistan's then rulers destroyed the 6th-Century Bamiyan Buddhas. The Taleban said they were offensive to Islam.

9/11/2007

Kathy Griffin Wins Emmy, Gets Censored for Jesus Remark

The TV Academy and E! announced today that they would not air remarks made by comedian Kathy Griffin upon her acceptance of an Emmy for Best Reality Program.
Griffin's remarks were classic Griffin:
"A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus...Suck it, Jesus. This award is my God now."
Following the remark, Catholic League President Bill Donohue called on the TV academy to "denounce Griffin's obscene and blasphemous comment" which he then thanked them for doing.
He still demands Griffin apologize: "The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences reacted responsibly to our criticism of Kathy Griffin’s verbal assault on 85 percent of the U.S. population. The ball is now in Griffin’s court. The self-described ‘complete militant atheist’ needs to make a swift and unequivocal apology to Christians. If she does, she will get this issue behind her. If she does not, she will be remembered as a foul-mouthed bigot for the rest of her life."

U.S. Troops Stealing Iraqi Babies Out of Trash Piles

(humor)

You can now add kidnapping to the list of heinous crimes our troops have committed against the peaceloving Muslim peoples. Just when I thought I'd heard it all, a group of American G.I.'s confessed last week to snatching an Iraqi baby right out of a pile of garbage.

I don't know what compelled them to do it, or why they even thought they could get away with it, but steps must be taken to insure that they don't bring their newly acquired bad habits home with them. After all, we have a thing in this country known as a Woman's Right to Choose. That baby was placed in the dumpster by a woman who made a conscious choice to put it there. It probably wasn't an easy choice, but it was her choice just the same and she doesn't need a bunch of neanderthal pro-lifers rooting around in her garbage and invading her privacy. Steal some credit card statements out of somebody's trash can, and they'll throw the book at you. Pluck a baby out of a dumpster, and they'll hail you as a hero. That's a huge legal loophole that must be closed and quick. Federal funding must also be increased for Iraqi reproductive health centers, such as Planned Parenthood of Bagdhad. More abortions means less babies for G.I.'s to abduct.

I feel for our troops. I really do. They're overextended, overdeployed, overworked, and all that rigamaroo. It's no wonder they're starting to act a little loopy. But that by no means gives them the right to launch a shock & awe assault on Roe v. Wade.

9/10/2007

I like toast

An Atheist Responds

By Christopher Hitchens
Saturday, July 14, 2007; Page A17

It's uncommonly generous of Michael Gerson[" What Atheists Can't Answer," op-ed, July 13] to refer to me as "intellectually courageous and unfailingly kind," since (a) this might be taken as proof that he hardly knows me and (b) it was he who was so kind when I once rang him to check a scurrilous peacenik rumor that he was a secret convert from Judaism to Christian fundamentalism.

However, it is his own supposedly kindly religion that prevents him from seeing how insulting is the latent suggestion of his position: the appalling insinuation that I would not know right from wrong if I was not supernaturally guided by a celestial dictatorship, which could read and condemn my thoughts and which could also consign me to eternal worshipful bliss (a somewhat hellish idea) or to an actual hell.

Implicit in this ancient chestnut of an argument is the further -- and equally disagreeable -- self-satisfaction that simply assumes, whether or not religion is metaphysically "true," that at least it stands for morality. Those of us who disbelieve in the heavenly dictatorship also reject many of its immoral teachings, which have at different times included the slaughter of other "tribes," the enslavement of the survivors, the mutilation of the genitalia of children, the burning of witches, the condemnation of sexual "deviants" and the eating of certain foods, the opposition to innovations in science and medicine, the mad doctrine of predestination, the deranged accusation against all Jews of the crime of "deicide," the absurdity of "Limbo," the horror of suicide-bombing and jihad, and the ethically dubious notion of vicarious redemption by human sacrifice.

Of course Gerson will -- and must -- cherry-pick this list (which is by no means exhaustive) and patter on about how one mustn't be too literal. But in doing this, he makes a huge concession to the ethical humanism to which he so loftily condescends. The game is given away by his own use of G.K. Chesterton's invocation of Thor. We laugh at this dead god, but were not Norse children told that without Valhalla there would be no courage and no moral example? Isn't it true that Louis Farrakhan's crackpot racist group gets young people off drugs? Doesn't Hamas claim to provide social services to the downtrodden? If you credit any one religion with motivating good deeds, how (without declaring yourself to be sectarian) can you avoid crediting them all? And is not endless warfare between the faiths to be added to the list of horrors I just mentioned? Just look at how the "faith-based" are behaving in today's Iraq.

Here is my challenge. Let Gerson name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever. And here is my second challenge. Can any reader of this column think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith? The second question is easy to answer, is it not? The first -- I have been asking it for some time -- awaits a convincing reply. By what right, then, do the faithful assume this irritating mantle of righteousness? They have as much to apologize for as to explain.

Essentially conceding that philosophy and secularism do not condemn their adherents to lives of unbridled selfishness, and that (say) the Jewish people did not get all the way to Mount Sinai under the impression that murder and theft and perjury were okay, and also that we could not have evolved unless human solidarity was in some way innate, Gerson ends weakly by posing what is a rather moving problem.

"In a world without God," he writes, "this desire for love and purpose is a cruel joke of nature -- imprinted by evolution but designed for disappointment." Again, he substitutes the wish for the thought. We very probably are, as he admits, not the designed objects of the Big Bang or of the process of natural selection. But this sober conclusion, objective as it is, is surely preferable to the delusion that we have been created diseased, by a capricious despot, and then abruptly commanded to be whole and well, on pain of terror and torture. That sick joke is one that we can cease to find impressive, that belongs in the infancy of our species, and gives a false picture of reality that we would do well to outgrow.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author of "God Is Not Great."

What Atheists Can't Answer

By Michael Gerson
Friday, July 13, 2007; Page A17

British author G.K. Chesterton argued that every act of blasphemy is a kind of tribute to God, because it is based on belief. "If anyone doubts this," he wrote, "let him sit down seriously and try to think blasphemous thoughts about Thor."

By the evidence of the New York Times bestseller list, God has recently been bathed in such tributes. An irreverent trinity -- Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins -- has sold a lot of books accusing theism of fostering hatred, repressing sexuality and mutilating children (Hitchens doesn't approve of male circumcision). Every miracle is a fraud. Every mystic is a madman. And this atheism is presented as a war of liberation against centuries of spiritual tyranny.

Proving God's existence in 750 words or fewer would daunt even Thomas Aquinas. And I suspect that a certain kind of skeptic would remain skeptical even after a squadron of angels landed on his front lawn. So I merely want to pose a question: If the atheists are right, what would be the effect on human morality?

If God were dethroned as the arbiter of moral truth, it would not, of course, mean that everyone joins the Crips or reports to the Playboy mansion. On evidence found in every culture, human beings can be good without God. And Hitchens is himself part of the proof. I know him to be intellectually courageous and unfailingly kind, when not ruthlessly flaying opponents for taking minor exception to his arguments. There is something innate about morality that is distinct from theological conviction. This instinct may result from evolutionary biology, early childhood socialization or the chemistry of the brain, but human nature is somehow constructed for sympathy and cooperative purpose.

But there is a problem. Human nature, in other circumstances, is also clearly constructed for cruel exploitation, uncontrollable rage, icy selfishness and a range of other less desirable traits.

So the dilemma is this: How do we choose between good and bad instincts? Theism, for several millennia, has given one answer: We should cultivate the better angels of our nature because the God we love and respect requires it. While many of us fall tragically short, the ideal remains.

Atheism provides no answer to this dilemma. It cannot reply: "Obey your evolutionary instincts" because those instincts are conflicted. "Respect your brain chemistry" or "follow your mental wiring" don't seem very compelling either. It would be perfectly rational for someone to respond: "To hell with my wiring and your socialization, I'm going to do whatever I please." C.S. Lewis put the argument this way: "When all that says 'it is good' has been debunked, what says 'I want' remains."

Some argue that a careful determination of our long-term interests -- a fear of bad consequences -- will constrain our selfishness. But this is particularly absurd. Some people are very good at the self-centered exploitation of others. Many get away with it their whole lives. By exercising the will to power, they are maximizing one element of their human nature. In a purely material universe, what possible moral basis could exist to condemn them? Atheists can be good people; they just have no objective way to judge the conduct of those who are not.

The death of God has greater consequences than expanded golf time on Sunday mornings. And it is not simply religious fundamentalists who have recognized it. America's Founders embraced public neutrality on matters of religion, but they were not indifferent to the existence of religious faith. George Washington warned against the "supposition that morality can be maintained without religion." The Founders generally believed that the virtues necessary for self-government -- self-sacrifice, honesty, public spirit -- were strengthened by religious beliefs and institutions.

None of this amounts to proof of God's existence. But it clarifies a point of agreement -- which reveals an even deeper division. Atheists and theists seem to agree that human beings have an innate desire for morality and purpose. For the theist, this is perfectly understandable: We long for love, harmony and sympathy because we are intended by a Creator to find them. In a world without God, however, this desire for love and purpose is a cruel joke of nature -- imprinted by evolution, but destined for disappointment, just as we are destined for oblivion, on a planet that will be consumed by fire before the sun grows dim and cold.

This form of "liberation" is like liberating a plant from the soil or a whale from the ocean. In this kind of freedom, something dies.

Christopher Hitchens on Michael Moore

Unfairenheit 9/11
The lies of Michael Moore.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, June 21, 2004, at 3:26 PM ET


One of the many problems with the American left, and indeed of the American left, has been its image and self-image as something rather too solemn, mirthless, herbivorous, dull, monochrome, righteous, and boring. How many times, in my old days at The Nation magazine, did I hear wistful and semienvious ruminations? Where was the radical Firing Line show? Who will be our Rush Limbaugh? I used privately to hope that the emphasis, if the comrades ever got around to it, would be on the first of those and not the second. But the meetings themselves were so mind-numbing and lugubrious that I thought the danger of success on either front was infinitely slight.

Nonetheless, it seems that an answer to this long-felt need is finally beginning to emerge. I exempt Al Franken's unintentionally funny Air America network, to which I gave a couple of interviews in its early days. There, one could hear the reassuring noise of collapsing scenery and tripped-over wires and be reminded once again that correct politics and smooth media presentation are not even distant cousins. With Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, however, an entirely new note has been struck. Here we glimpse a possible fusion between the turgid routines of MoveOn.org and the filmic standards, if not exactly the filmic skills, of Sergei Eisenstein or Leni Riefenstahl.

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.

In late 2002, almost a year after the al-Qaida assault on American society, I had an onstage debate with Michael Moore at the Telluride Film Festival. In the course of this exchange, he stated his view that Osama Bin Laden should be considered innocent until proven guilty. This was, he said, the American way. The intervention in Afghanistan, he maintained, had been at least to that extent unjustified. Something-I cannot guess what, since we knew as much then as we do now-has since apparently persuaded Moore that Osama Bin Laden is as guilty as hell. Indeed, Osama is suddenly so guilty and so all-powerful that any other discussion of any other topic is a dangerous "distraction" from the fight against him. I believe that I understand the convenience of this late conversion.

Fahrenheit 9/11 makes the following points about Bin Laden and about Afghanistan, and makes them in this order:

1) The Bin Laden family (if not exactly Osama himself) had a close if convoluted business relationship with the Bush family, through the Carlyle Group.

2) Saudi capital in general is a very large element of foreign investment in the United States.

3) The Unocal company in Texas had been willing to discuss a gas pipeline across Afghanistan with the Taliban, as had other vested interests.

4) The Bush administration sent far too few ground troops to Afghanistan and thus allowed far too many Taliban and al-Qaida members to escape.

5) The Afghan government, in supporting the coalition in Iraq, was purely risible in that its non-army was purely American.

6) The American lives lost in Afghanistan have been wasted. (This I divine from the fact that this supposedly "antiwar" film is dedicated ruefully to all those killed there, as well as in Iraq.)

It must be evident to anyone, despite the rapid-fire way in which Moore's direction eases the audience hastily past the contradictions, that these discrepant scatter shots do not cohere at any point. Either the Saudis run U.S. policy (through family ties or overwhelming economic interest), or they do not. As allies and patrons of the Taliban regime, they either opposed Bush's removal of it, or they did not. (They opposed the removal, all right: They wouldn't even let Tony Blair land his own plane on their soil at the time of the operation.) Either we sent too many troops, or were wrong to send any at all-the latter was Moore's view as late as 2002-or we sent too few. If we were going to make sure no Taliban or al-Qaida forces survived or escaped, we would have had to be more ruthless than I suspect that Mr. Moore is really recommending. And these are simply observations on what is "in" the film. If we turn to the facts that are deliberately left out, we discover that there is an emerging Afghan army, that the country is now a joint NATO responsibility and thus under the protection of the broadest military alliance in history, that it has a new constitution and is preparing against hellish odds to hold a general election, and that at least a million and a half of its former refugees have opted to return. I don't think a pipeline is being constructed yet, not that Afghanistan couldn't do with a pipeline. But a highway from Kabul to Kandahar-an insurance against warlordism and a condition of nation-building-is nearing completion with infinite labor and risk. We also discover that the parties of the Afghan secular left-like the parties of the Iraqi secular left-are strongly in favor of the regime change. But this is not the sort of irony in which Moore chooses to deal.

He prefers leaden sarcasm to irony and, indeed, may not appreciate the distinction. In a long and paranoid (and tedious) section at the opening of the film, he makes heavy innuendoes about the flights that took members of the Bin Laden family out of the country after Sept. 11. I banged on about this myself at the time and wrote a Nation column drawing attention to the groveling Larry King interview with the insufferable Prince Bandar, which Moore excerpts. However, recent developments have not been kind to our Mike. In the interval between Moore's triumph at Cannes and the release of the film in the United States, the 9/11 commission has found nothing to complain of in the timing or arrangement of the flights. And Richard Clarke, Bush's former chief of counterterrorism, has come forward to say that he, and he alone, took the responsibility for authorizing those Saudi departures. This might not matter so much to the ethos of Fahrenheit 9/11, except that-as you might expect-Clarke is presented throughout as the brow-furrowed ethical hero of the entire post-9/11 moment. And it does not seem very likely that, in his open admission about the Bin Laden family evacuation, Clarke is taking a fall, or a spear in the chest, for the Bush administration. So, that's another bust for this windy and bloated cinematic "key to all mythologies."

A film that bases itself on a big lie and a big misrepresentation can only sustain itself by a dizzying succession of smaller falsehoods, beefed up by wilder and (if possible) yet more-contradictory claims. President Bush is accused of taking too many lazy vacations. (What is that about, by the way? Isn't he supposed to be an unceasing planner for future aggressive wars?) But the shot of him "relaxing at Camp David" shows him side by side with Tony Blair. I say "shows," even though this photograph is on-screen so briefly that if you sneeze or blink, you won't recognize the other figure. A meeting with the prime minister of the United Kingdom, or at least with this prime minister, is not a goof-off.

The president is also captured in a well-worn TV news clip, on a golf course, making a boilerplate response to a question on terrorism and then asking the reporters to watch his drive. Well, that's what you get if you catch the president on a golf course. If Eisenhower had done this, as he often did, it would have been presented as calm statesmanship. If Clinton had done it, as he often did, it would have shown his charm. More interesting is the moment where Bush is shown frozen on his chair at the infant school in Florida, looking stunned and useless for seven whole minutes after the news of the second plane on 9/11. Many are those who say that he should have leaped from his stool, adopted a Russell Crowe stance, and gone to work. I could even wish that myself. But if he had done any such thing then (as he did with his "Let's roll" and "dead or alive" remarks a month later), half the Michael Moore community would now be calling him a man who went to war on a hectic, crazed impulse. The other half would be saying what they already say-that he knew the attack was coming, was using it to cement himself in power, and couldn't wait to get on with his coup. This is the line taken by Gore Vidal and by a scandalous recent book that also revives the charge of FDR's collusion over Pearl Harbor. At least Moore's film should put the shameful purveyors of that last theory back in their paranoid box.

But it won't because it encourages their half-baked fantasies in so many other ways. We are introduced to Iraq, "a sovereign nation." (In fact, Iraq's "sovereignty" was heavily qualified by international sanctions, however questionable, which reflected its noncompliance with important U.N. resolutions.) In this peaceable kingdom, according to Moore's flabbergasting choice of film shots, children are flying little kites, shoppers are smiling in the sunshine, and the gentle rhythms of life are undisturbed. Then-wham! From the night sky come the terror weapons of American imperialism. Watching the clips Moore uses, and recalling them well, I can recognize various Saddam palaces and military and police centers getting the treatment. But these sites are not identified as such. In fact, I don't think Al Jazeera would, on a bad day, have transmitted anything so utterly propagandistic. You would also be led to think that the term "civilian casualty" had not even been in the Iraqi vocabulary until March 2003. I remember asking Moore at Telluride if he was or was not a pacifist. He would not give a straight answer then, and he doesn't now, either. I'll just say that the "insurgent" side is presented in this film as justifiably outraged, whereas the 30-year record of Baathist war crimes and repression and aggression is not mentioned once. (Actually, that's not quite right. It is briefly mentioned but only, and smarmily, because of the bad period when Washington preferred Saddam to the likewise unmentioned Ayatollah Khomeini.)

That this-his pro-American moment-was the worst Moore could possibly say of Saddam's depravity is further suggested by some astonishing falsifications. Moore asserts that Iraq under Saddam had never attacked or killed or even threatened (his words) any American. I never quite know whether Moore is as ignorant as he looks, or even if that would be humanly possible. Baghdad was for years the official, undisguised home address of Abu Nidal, then the most-wanted gangster in the world, who had been sentenced to death even by the PLO and had blown up airports in Vienna* and Rome. Baghdad was the safe house for the man whose "operation" murdered Leon Klinghoffer. Saddam boasted publicly of his financial sponsorship of suicide bombers in Israel. (Quite a few Americans of all denominations walk the streets of Jerusalem.) In 1991, a large number of Western hostages were taken by the hideous Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and held in terrible conditions for a long time. After that same invasion was repelled-Saddam having killed quite a few Americans and Egyptians and Syrians and Brits in the meantime and having threatened to kill many more-the Iraqi secret police were caught trying to murder former President Bush during his visit to Kuwait. Never mind whether his son should take that personally. (Though why should he not?) Should you and I not resent any foreign dictatorship that attempts to kill one of our retired chief executives? (President Clinton certainly took it that way: He ordered the destruction by cruise missiles of the Baathist "security" headquarters.) Iraqi forces fired, every day, for 10 years, on the aircraft that patrolled the no-fly zones and staved off further genocide in the north and south of the country. In 1993, a certain Mr. Yasin helped mix the chemicals for the bomb at the World Trade Center and then skipped to Iraq, where he remained a guest of the state until the overthrow of Saddam. In 2001, Saddam's regime was the only one in the region that openly celebrated the attacks on New York and Washington and described them as just the beginning of a larger revenge. Its official media regularly spewed out a stream of anti-Semitic incitement. I think one might describe that as "threatening," even if one was narrow enough to think that anti-Semitism only menaces Jews. And it was after, and not before, the 9/11 attacks that Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi moved from Afghanistan to Baghdad and began to plan his now very open and lethal design for a holy and ethnic civil war. On Dec. 1, 2003, the New York Times reported-and the David Kay report had established-that Saddam had been secretly negotiating with the "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il in a series of secret meetings in Syria, as late as the spring of 2003, to buy a North Korean missile system, and missile-production system, right off the shelf. (This attempt was not uncovered until after the fall of Baghdad, the coalition's presence having meanwhile put an end to the negotiations.)

Thus, in spite of the film's loaded bias against the work of the mind, you can grasp even while watching it that Michael Moore has just said, in so many words, the one thing that no reflective or informed person can possibly believe: that Saddam Hussein was no problem. No problem at all. Now look again at the facts I have cited above. If these things had been allowed to happen under any other administration, you can be sure that Moore and others would now glibly be accusing the president of ignoring, or of having ignored, some fairly unmistakable "warnings."

The same "let's have it both ways" opportunism infects his treatment of another very serious subject, namely domestic counterterrorist policy. From being accused of overlooking too many warnings-not exactly an original point-the administration is now lavishly taunted for issuing too many. (Would there not have been "fear" if the harbingers of 9/11 had been taken seriously?) We are shown some American civilians who have had absurd encounters with idiotic "security" staff. (Have you ever met anyone who can't tell such a story?) Then we are immediately shown underfunded police departments that don't have the means or the manpower to do any stop-and-search: a power suddenly demanded by Moore on their behalf that we know by definition would at least lead to some ridiculous interrogations. Finally, Moore complains that there isn't enough intrusion and confiscation at airports and says that it is appalling that every air traveler is not forcibly relieved of all matches and lighters. (Cue mood music for sinister influence of Big Tobacco.) So-he wants even more pocket-rummaging by airport officials? Uh, no, not exactly. But by this stage, who's counting? Moore is having it three ways and asserting everything and nothing. Again-simply not serious.

Circling back to where we began, why did Moore's evil Saudis not join "the Coalition of the Willing"? Why instead did they force the United States to switch its regional military headquarters to Qatar? If the Bush family and the al-Saud dynasty live in each other's pockets, as is alleged in a sort of vulgar sub-Brechtian scene with Arab headdresses replacing top hats, then how come the most reactionary regime in the region has been powerless to stop Bush from demolishing its clone in Kabul and its buffer regime in Baghdad? The Saudis hate, as they did in 1991, the idea that Iraq's recuperated oil industry might challenge their near-monopoly. They fear the liberation of the Shiite Muslims they so despise. To make these elementary points is to collapse the whole pathetic edifice of the film's "theory." Perhaps Moore prefers the pro-Saudi Kissinger/Scowcroft plan for the Middle East, where stability trumps every other consideration and where one dare not upset the local house of cards, or killing-field of Kurds? This would be a strange position for a purported radical. Then again, perhaps he does not take this conservative line because his real pitch is not to any audience member with a serious interest in foreign policy. It is to the provincial isolationist.

I have already said that Moore's film has the staunch courage to mock Bush for his verbal infelicity. Yet it's much, much braver than that. From Fahrenheit 9/11 you can glean even more astounding and hidden disclosures, such as the capitalist nature of American society, the existence of Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex," and the use of "spin" in the presentation of our politicians. It's high time someone had the nerve to point this out. There's more. Poor people often volunteer to join the army, and some of them are duskier than others. Betcha didn't know that. Back in Flint, Mich., Moore feels on safe ground. There are no martyred rabbits this time. Instead, it's the poor and black who shoulder the packs and rifles and march away. I won't dwell on the fact that black Americans have fought for almost a century and a half, from insisting on their right to join the U.S. Army and fight in the Civil War to the right to have a desegregated Army that set the pace for post-1945 civil rights. I'll merely ask this: In the film, Moore says loudly and repeatedly that not enough troops were sent to garrison Afghanistan and Iraq. (This is now a favorite cleverness of those who were, in the first place, against sending any soldiers at all.) Well, where does he think those needful heroes and heroines would have come from? Does he favor a draft-the most statist and oppressive solution? Does he think that only hapless and gullible proles sign up for the Marines? Does he think-as he seems to suggest-that parents can "send" their children, as he stupidly asks elected members of Congress to do? Would he have abandoned Gettysburg because the Union allowed civilians to pay proxies to serve in their place? Would he have supported the antidraft (and very antiblack) riots against Lincoln in New York? After a point, one realizes that it's a waste of time asking him questions of this sort. It would be too much like taking him seriously. He'll just try anything once and see if it floats or flies or gets a cheer.

Indeed, Moore's affected and ostentatious concern for black America is one of the most suspect ingredients of his pitch package. In a recent interview, he yelled that if the hijacked civilians of 9/11 had been black, they would have fought back, unlike the stupid and presumably cowardly white men and women (and children). Never mind for now how many black passengers were on those planes-we happen to know what Moore does not care to mention: that Todd Beamer and a few of his co-passengers, shouting "Let's roll," rammed the hijackers with a trolley, fought them tooth and nail, and helped bring down a United Airlines plane, in Pennsylvania, that was speeding toward either the White House or the Capitol. There are no words for real, impromptu bravery like that, which helped save our republic from worse than actually befell. The Pennsylvania drama also reminds one of the self-evident fact that this war is not fought only "overseas" or in uniform, but is being brought to our cities. Yet Moore is a silly and shady man who does not recognize courage of any sort even when he sees it because he cannot summon it in himself. To him, easy applause, in front of credulous audiences, is everything.

Moore has announced that he won't even appear on TV shows where he might face hostile questioning. I notice from the New York Times of June 20 that he has pompously established a rapid response team, and a fact-checking staff, and some tough lawyers, to bulwark himself against attack. He'll sue, Moore says, if anyone insults him or his pet. Some right-wing hack groups, I gather, are planning to bring pressure on their local movie theaters to drop the film. How dumb or thuggish do you have to be in order to counter one form of stupidity and cowardice with another? By all means go and see this terrible film, and take your friends, and if the fools in the audience strike up one cry, in favor of surrender or defeat, feel free to join in the conversation.

However, I think we can agree that the film is so flat-out phony that "fact-checking" is beside the point. And as for the scary lawyers-get a life, or maybe see me in court. But I offer this, to Moore and to his rapid response rabble. Any time, Michael my boy. Let's redo Telluride. Any show. Any place. Any platform. Let's see what you're made of.

Some people soothingly say that one should relax about all this. It's only a movie. No biggie. It's no worse than the tomfoolery of Oliver Stone. It's kick-ass entertainment. It might even help get out "the youth vote." Yeah, well, I have myself written and presented about a dozen low-budget made-for-TV documentaries, on subjects as various as Mother Teresa and Bill Clinton and the Cyprus crisis, and I also helped produce a slightly more polished one on Henry Kissinger that was shown in movie theaters. So I know, thanks, before you tell me, that a documentary must have a "POV" or point of view and that it must also impose a narrative line. But if you leave out absolutely everything that might give your "narrative" a problem and throw in any old rubbish that might support it, and you don't even care that one bit of that rubbish flatly contradicts the next bit, and you give no chance to those who might differ, then you have betrayed your craft. If you flatter and fawn upon your potential audience, I might add, you are patronizing them and insulting them. By the same token, if I write an article and I quote somebody and for space reasons put in an ellipsis like this (...), I swear on my children that I am not leaving out anything that, if quoted in full, would alter the original meaning or its significance. Those who violate this pact with readers or viewers are to be despised. At no point does Michael Moore make the smallest effort to be objective. At no moment does he pass up the chance of a cheap sneer or a jeer. He pitilessly focuses his camera, for minutes after he should have turned it off, on a distraught and bereaved mother whose grief we have already shared. (But then, this is the guy who thought it so clever and amusing to catch Charlton Heston, in Bowling for Columbine, at the onset of his senile dementia.) Such courage.

Perhaps vaguely aware that his movie so completely lacks gravitas, Moore concludes with a sonorous reading of some words from George Orwell. The words are taken from 1984 and consist of a third-person analysis of a hypothetical, endless, and contrived war between three superpowers. The clear intention, as clumsily excerpted like this (...) is to suggest that there is no moral distinction between the United States, the Taliban, and the Baath Party and that the war against jihad is about nothing. If Moore had studied a bit more, or at all, he could have read Orwell really saying, and in his own voice, the following:

The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States ...

And that's just from Orwell's Notes on Nationalism in May 1945. A short word of advice: In general, it's highly unwise to quote Orwell if you are already way out of your depth on the question of moral equivalence. It's also incautious to remind people of Orwell if you are engaged in a sophomoric celluloid rewriting of recent history.

If Michael Moore had had his way, Slobodan Milosevic would still be the big man in a starved and tyrannical Serbia. Bosnia and Kosovo would have been cleansed and annexed. If Michael Moore had been listened to, Afghanistan would still be under Taliban rule, and Kuwait would have remained part of Iraq. And Iraq itself would still be the personal property of a psychopathic crime family, bargaining covertly with the slave state of North Korea for WMD. You might hope that a retrospective awareness of this kind would induce a little modesty. To the contrary, it is employed to pump air into one of the great sagging blimps of our sorry, mediocre, celeb-rotten culture. Rock the vote, indeed.


* Correction, June 22, 2004: This piece originally referred to terrorist attacks by Abu Nidal's group on the Munich and Rome airports. The 1985 attacks occurred at the Rome and Vienna airports.

Britney's Comeback

By DAN AQUILANTE, [New York] Post Music Critic

(Excerpt)

"Spears was stuffed into a spangled bra and hot pants and jiggled like Jell-O as she sleepwalked through the song.

She didn't seem to care that she danced like she had a pantload, that her lips weren't synched with the song, and that the tune isn't all that great.

At the start, Britney vamped, "If you're looking for trouble you've come to the right place." She's never been more right in her life."

Etc.



Judge for yourself:

9/09/2007

The Sacrifice of Reason

Sam Harris

Best-selling author of Letter to a Christian Nation

The Sacrifice of Reason
Humanity has had a long fascination with blood sacrifice. In fact, it has been by no means uncommon for a child to be born into this world only to be patiently and lovingly reared by religious maniacs who believe that the best way to keep the sun on its course or to ensure a rich harvest is to lead him by tender hand into a field or to a mountaintop and bury, butcher, or burn him alive as offering to an invisible (and almost certainly fictional) God.

In many ancient cultures whenever a nobleman died, other men and women allowed themselves to be buried alive so as to serve as his retainers in the next world. In ancient Rome, children were sometimes slaughtered so that the future could be read in their entrails. The Dyak women of Borneo would not even look at a suitor unless he came bearing a net full of human heads as a love offering. Some Fijian prodigy devised a powerful sacrament called “Vakatoga” which required that a victim’s limbs be cut off and eaten while he watched. Among the Iroquois, captives from other tribes were often permitted to live for many years, and even to marry, all the while being doomed to be flayed alive as an oblation to the God of War; whatever children they produced while in captivity were disposed of in the same ritual. African tribes too numerous to name have a long history of murdering people to send as couriers in a one-way dialogue with their ancestors or to convert their body parts into magical charms. Ritual murders of this sort continue in many African societies to this day.

It is essential to realize that such impossibly stupid misuses of human life have always been explicitly religious. They are the product of what certain human beings think they know about invisible gods and goddesses, and of what they manifestly do not know about biology, meteorology, medicine, physics, and a dozen other specific sciences that have more than a little to say about the events in the world that concern them.


And it is astride this contemptible history of religious atrocity and scientific ignorance that Christianity now stands as an absurdly unselfconscious apotheosis. As John the Baptist is rumored to have said upon seeing Jesus for the first time, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). For most Christians, this bizarre opinion still stands, and it remains the core of their faith. Christianity amounts to the claim that we must love and be loved by a God who approves of the scapegoating, torture, and murder of one man—his son, incidentally—in compensation for the misbehavior and thought-crimes of all others.

Let the good news go forth: we live in a cosmos, the vastness of which we can scarcely even indicate in our thoughts, on a planet teeming with creatures we have only begun to understand, but the whole project was actually brought to a glorious fulfillment over twenty centuries ago, after one species of primate (our own) climbed down out of the trees, invented agriculture and iron tools, glimpsed (as through a glass, darkly) the possibility of keeping its excrement out of its food, and then singled out one among its number to be viciously flogged and nailed to a cross.

The notion that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that his death constitutes a successful propitiation of a “loving” God is a direct and undisguised inheritance of the scapegoating barbarism that has plagued bewildered people throughout history. Viewed in a modern context, it is an idea at once so depraved and fantastical that it is hard to know where to begin to criticize it. Add to the abject mythology surrounding one man’s death by torture—Christ’s passion—the symbolic cannibalism of the Eucharist. Did I say “symbolic”? Sorry, according to the Vatican it is most assuredly not symbolic. In fact, the opinion of the Council of Trent still stands:

I likewise profess that in the Mass a true, proper and propitiatory sacrifice is offered to God on behalf of the living and the dead, and that the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is truly, really, and substantially present in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist, and that there is a change of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into blood; and this change the Catholic Church calls transubstantiation. I also profess that the whole and entire Christ and a true sacrament is received under each separate species.

Of course, Catholics have done some very strenuous and unconvincing theology in this area, in an effort to make sense of how they can really eat the body of Jesus, not mere crackers enrobed in metaphor, and really drink his blood without, in fact, being a cult of crazy cannibals. Suffice it to say, however, that a world view in which “propitiatory sacrifices on behalf of the living and the dead” figure prominently is rather difficult to defend in the year 2007. But this has not stopped otherwise intelligent and well-intentioned people from defending it.

And now we learn that even Mother Teresa, the most celebrated exponent of this dogmatism in a century, had her doubts about the whole story—the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the existence of heaven, and even the existence of God:

Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone ... Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?

— addressed to Jesus, at the suggestion of a confessor, undated

Teresa’s recently published letters reveal a mind riven by doubt (as it should have been). They also reveal a woman who was surely suffering from run-of-the-mill depression, though even secular commentators have begun to politely dress this fact in the colors of the saints and martyrs. Teresa’s response to her own bewilderment and hypocrisy (her term) reveals just how like quicksand religious faith can be. Her doubts about God’s existence were interpreted by her confessor as a sign that she was sharing Christ’s torment upon the cross; this exaltation of her wavering faith allowed Teresa “to love the darkness” she experienced in God’s apparent absence. Such is the genius of the unfalsifiable. We can see the same principle at work among her fellow Catholics: Teresa’s doubts have only enhanced her stature in the eyes of the Church, having been interpreted as a further evidence of God’s grace.

Ask yourself, when even the doubts of experts are thought to confirm a doctrine, what could possibly disconfirm it?

www.samharris.org

Talk like Jack Bauer day - January 15

(humor)

How to act on Talk Like Jack Bauer Day

-Make sure to yell very simple requests.
-Take a helicopter to work.
-Issue threats that involve family members and/or body parts.
-Always mention that you're running out of time.
-Carry a manpurse. Wear aviators. Don't do drugs.
-Carry around zip ties and a pair of pliers (because you never know).
-Keep a car battery and some jumper cables on your desk.
-Use your cell phone as much as possible. If the battery dies, just pretend it's still working.
-Use at least 5 exclamation points in every email!!!!
-Ask "Who are you working for!?" to as many people as possible.
-Throw out a "Dammit" during the day, just for the hell of it.
-Drink each time you hear a co-worker say "Dammit".
-Make a mistake at work? Blame Nina Myers.
-Request everything be sent to your PDA (works best if you don't have one).
-Accuse co-workers and/or children of being moles.
-Make sure to let your co-workers catch you looking at Google Earth maps of their houses. When they ask why, tell them that you've tracked a terrorist cell to that location.

Samples
Co-worker: How was your weekend?
You: damnit Bob, we don't have time for simple questions.
Co-worker: I just asked about your weekend.
You: Dammit. Who are you working for?
Co-worker: Never mind, forget I asked.

Co-worker: Hey man. Did you already get breakfast?
You: I've killed 3 people today and no I've yet to eat breakfast. Dammit!
Co-worker: Is that a threat?
You: That's not a threat, that's a fact.

Boss: Hey, where are the reports I asked for?
(pull out stapler, move towards boss)
You: I think the question you should be asking is how are you going to read the reports after I staple your eyelids to your desk!

(If a co-worker tries to talk to you while you're using the urinal, finish up, flush, walk over to the sink, wash your hands, and remove a paper towel from the dispenser.)
You: You probably don't think that I can force this towel down your throat. But trust me, I can. All the way. Except I'd hold onto this one little bit at the end. When your stomach starts to digest it, I pull it out. Taking your stomach lining with it. For most people it would take about a week to die. It's very painful. (Reference)

Co-worker: Hey, can you cover for me? I need to run an errand.
You: Let's get one thing straight: the only reason you're still conscious is that I don't want to do your work for you.

Finally, remember that for the whole 24 hours of Talk Like Jack Bauer Day, you cannot go to the bathroom or charge a cell phone. Also, it should only take you a maximum of 3 minutes to get anywhere you are going.


More at http://blogs4bauer.blogspot.com/2007/01/talk-like-jack-bauer-day.html