State of Disunion

So al-Qaeda’a bin Laden and al-Zawahri have both released videos essentially taunting Bush and the U.S. just prior to the State of the Union address. Coincidence? Doubtful. As most of the press is saying, al-Qaeda is pretty savvy about the timing of their messages, and these two are no exception. But to what end? What does al-Qaeda hope to accomplish with their messages? To my knowledge, the press hasn’t provided much analysis of that.

My take is that these messages are nothing short of an endorsement for the Bush administration. After all, it’s no secret that al-Qaeda has been the unabashed raison d’etre for Bush. His entire rationale for nearly every action taken is 9-11 and terrorism. al-Qaeda is “lurking”, and he is the minister of fear. The recent videos will doubtless play prominently in the upcoming State of the Union. Bush will use the videos to remind us all that we are still at war and in danger, and that his way is the only way to safety.

But why would al-Qaeda wish to endorse Bush? Let’s face it. He’s been the best thing that ever happened to them. He put al-Qaeda on the map and made bin Laden and al-Zawahri household names. He created the greatest recruiting environment and low-investment target practice range the terrorists ever could have asked for in Iraq. His push for democracy in the Middle East has ushered in the rise to power of religious sects in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and the rise of Hamas in Palestine.

Muslim extremism has flourished under Bush. And Bush has flourished with their rise as well. This is nothing short of a symbiotic relationship. And I think they both realize that while they are mortal enemies, that cannot survive without each other.

It is more than a little ironic that al-Qaeda is coming to Bush’s rescue and trying to prop up popular support for his policies to wipe them out.

Poppin’ Pills

My little one was pretty congested this morning and it didn’t seem as if it was going to loosen up much. I told him if he could swallow a pill that I could give him something that would let him breathe all day. He said that he still had never tried that, but was game. Unfortunately, it was one of the larger capsule shaped things so I thought that might make it harder.

So I gave him instructions and walked him through it, then down it went. First attempt. This, from the kid that gags on potatoes. Maybe I should have him swallow potatoes whole?

Bump & Grind

It was a good day in the shop today.

It all started because the cub scouts have a “raingutter regatta” coming up. They all need to build small sailboats and huff and puff them down a race course. Whichever dad’s kid puffs his boat true and quickest, wins.

But it’s not just about the boat. The boats are displayed at the event, and with the keel and rudder under them they need a stand to look their best. So the boys and I spent today designing and building parts so our den’s boys could build some cool industrial looking metal boat stands next week.

It was cool as both boys were engaged in the process. They learned to cut, bend, and grind metal. They learned how to use new tools, and they seemed to really enjoy it.

No fingers were lost in the process, but Douq did get a head lump from standing up under a door. He took it well. However, I am blaming the whack on the head for him calling the bench grinder the “wheel thingy mcbob”.

So I guess there’s still work to do…

Can You Hear Me Now?

There’s a couple of things I don’t understand about the White House wire tap scandal/policy. There’s been a strong defense offered by the administration regarding how they are trying to protect us from terrorists. That’s not a surprising spin from the group that has based most of its reign on 9/11. It’s also a reasonable claim, to a point. At the speed of the world today, burdensome bureaucratic processes are only suitable for running large corporations (but that’s a different story). But the establishment of the FISA court provides for the approval of wire taps in under 45 minutes if necessary. There are even provisions to retroactively file with the court after the fact. Yet they want us to believe this process is too cumbersome. Could we really be short of people in the government capable of filing forms?? There hasn’t really been any useful attempt to explain why this process is such a problem.

And another thing, they are claiming repeatedly that if this eavesdropping capability existed pre-9/11, that the attack might have been prevented. These are the people that ignored a White House briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack within the U.S.” because it wasn’t specific. Do we think they’re really able to piece together plans from thousands of veiled conversations??

And one last point, ultimately they are asking us to trust them that are only spying on the bad people. Yet not only is history littered with examples of good people who took well intentioned eavesdropping to the point of persecuting innocent citizens, but this administration in particular has a history of twisting the truth and being flat wrong. Have they earned that trust?

No one is asking that they publish a list of who they are listening to on the web. Just let another branch of government in on the secret so that the checks and balances which form the core of our democratic system can work as they should.

That doesn’t sound so very un-American, does it?

Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

If ignorance is really bliss, then today’s guest blogger is one of the truly happiest people on Earth. Avril Blackwood of Greece, NY contributed the following letter to the editor of the local paper.

Liberate U.S. from Christianity

Let’s adhere to the statement “separate church and state.”

Liberate us from all aspects of Christian principles derived from the Christian resource, the Bible.

No more Christmas, a Christian holiday.

Truth is a Christian principle. Let us be free to lie.

Not to steal is a Christian principle. Free those convicted of stealing.

Not to murder is a Christian principle. Free those imprisoned for murder.

Helping others is a Christian principle. No more donations to help the less fortunate.

Did you know that to not offend someone is a Christian principle? Offend!

Expose the many hidden Christian principles within our society and be rid of them.

No more Golden Rule, trust, love, faithfulness, etc. These are all Christian principles.

Wake up, America.

Separate church and state?


It would be easy to dismiss Avril’s tongue-in-cheek point of view as the well intentioned rantings of a singular ill-informed soul, but unfortunately Avril is not alone. The most recent evidence being that this newspaper does not typically publish rantings from fringe individuals or points of view they do not believe will at least resonate with a good part of their readership. More historically, this is the logic the Christian right has been using to insert Christianity into government and other secular institutions.

The logical fallacy in Avril’s viewpoint is that rejection of Christianity is the rejection of everything Christians believe. If you’re not with us, then you must be against us. While this sort of rhetoric is useful in delineating “us” vs. “them” when you’re rallying your people for war, it is still clearly lunacy. To dwell on just one of the points above, Avril is saying that to reject Christianity is to allow murder to be permissible. Yet, despite two-thirds of the world being non-Christian, murder is pretty much universally frowned upon. Gee, why would that be?

Obviously, the point is that Avril’s so-called “Christian principles” are also Buddhist principles, Muslim principles, Jewish principles, Secular Humanist principles, and pretty much principles held by good people everywhere regardless of their religion or lack thereof. The vast vast majority of non-Christians do not reject the message of Jesus, they only reject his divinity. Curiously, so did many Christians until around 300 AD when the Council of Nicea declared once and for all that Jesus was one in being with the Father, that Jesus was God.

Ironically, opinions like Avril’s stem largely from the separation of church and state in this country. U.S. Christians in are largely ignorant of other religions in the world, or even in their neighborhood. Schools teach almost nothing about the history of religion or of comparative religions. And churches are clearly not the place to learn about other religions. This ignorance, coupled with the natural tribalism of humans results in a fear and a casting out of non-Christians.

Time and again history has shown that people and cultures are more similar than different. Once people gain knowledge and understanding beyond the stereotypes, they learn to accept and befriend those who started as “others”. This attitude of cultural assimilation has helped the U.S. to increasingly accept African Americans, gay people, etc. Diversity concepts are taught and even enforced in schools, government, and business. Is it so very hard to extend those Learn and Let Live principles to religion?

Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s no excuse.