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Apparently, if you let one administration off the hook for war crimes and for violating our constitution and laws, the next guy to occupy the White House gets to thinking that it’s okay to issue an assassination order against an American citizen.

Hey, it’s not as bad as lying us into a war, right? Or torturing people to force false intel out of them to support a personal vendetta against Iraq. Or killing thousands of Iraqis or Afghanis or Pakistanis (and we’re not even at war with Pakistan!)…It’s just one guy. One American guy.

Apparently, Obama has gotten the impression that presidential performance is graded on a curve, and that as long as he does better than the previous guy, he’s cool.

Except that’s not the way it works. Or at least, that’s not the way it’s supposed to work…

For those who don’t obsessively follow the news but somehow do follow this blog (probably a null set, I will concede), the New York Times reported today:

The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.

The article goes on to remind us that al-Awlaki has been linked to both Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman in the Fort Hood shooting last year, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the famed “underwear bomber” from last Christmas. Clearly, from an American perspective this dude is not on the side of the angels (speaking metaphorically, because hey, buddhist here). He may even be guilty of treason.

Does that mean it’s okay for an American president to order his assassination?

Hell no.

Let me remind you, no matter what activities this guy is guilty of, he is an American citizen. Like all of us, he should be held accountable for his crimes. I am not arguing against accountability.

What I am doing is arguing in favor of the rule of law. Remember, that concept – that fundamental principle of our system of government – that Obama campaigned on returning us to?

In taking this action, the Obama administration has started us down a very dangerous slippery slope. If we’re allowed to assassinate Americans overseas for engaging in terrorist activities, why not assassinate them domestically, as well? So much neater than actually trying and convicting them, after all. No chance they will be released because the prosecution dropped the ball.

But then, why stop there? Why not go after anyone who encourages others to rebel against the government? Again, if someone is truly inciting others to violence, we can lock them up (something Glenn Beck would do well to remember, as some of his rhetoric seems to be skating closer to the Brandenburg standard by the day). But they might beat the charge. A bullet or two would solve that problem right quick.

Sure, we might fuck up occasionally, and kill someone who didn’t deserve it, but it’s all to keep the country safe, right? Just call the innocent victims collateral damage and move on.

What led the Obama administration to believe it could get away with deciding to act to deprive this al-Awlaki character of life without due process of law?

I would argue that it is Congress’s failure, during and since the Bush administration, to rein in the power of the executive branch of government and reassert itself as a check on the authority of the president.

If our national political system were working the way it ought to, Bush and/or Cheney would have had to face the consequences of their various illegal and unconstitutional acts. At a minimum, following the last election, Congress would have imposed new constraints on the executive, or at least increased its oversight activities.

It’s what happened after we got rid of Nixon. It’s what should have happened in 2008. Actually, it should have happened by sometime in 2002 or 2004, but no use crying over spilled milk…

But a curious thing happened in 2008: voters were so fed up with the Republicans after eight years of Bush malfeasance and misfeasance that they voted in powerful Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress as well as the White House.

As a result, Congress apparently perceived very little need to rein in the executive branch. They were all on the same side, after all…the side of the angels (there they are again)…right?

Riiiiiiight…

It is a simple fact of political power dynamics that almost no one in a position of power will voluntarily relinquish that power to another official or branch of government unless forced to do so. Why would they? Even if they don’t intend to use the power to do some specific act (say, torture detainees, or hold them without trial) right now, well, there’s no telling whether circumstances might arise in the future where they would want to be able to do so.

Which is why we haven’t seen some changes that we were promised when we voted for Obama.

Remember habeas corpus? Yeah, I don’t either. Seems like we should have gotten that back by now, though, doesn’t it?

How about basic privacy protections? Like being able to trade e-mails or IMs or texts without thinking about how some computer was storing the information just in case someone got it into his head to use that information to build a federal case against you. Or maybe sell it to the tabloids. Whatever.

Remember how President Obama talked about Due Process back when he was candidate Obama? I miss that.

I could go on. And on. About the powers that Bush 43 grabbed that Obama hasn’t relinquished. About how wrong it is for our government to be targeting American citizens for assassination, no matter what those individuals are accused of doing. About what a freaking disappointment Obama is for progressives (no matter how much the Republicans may scream “Socialist!” about the man).

I could. But as usual, Glenn Greenwald has done a much better job than I could of explaining just how fucked up the whole thing is. Spencer Ackerman has some good thoughts on the subject, too.

Seems like this would be a good time to flood the White House e-mail servers with messages expressing concern about this change in policy.

We need to remind the Obama administration that if Congress won’t hold him accountable, we will. That we voted for him based on certain claims about what he would do if and when he was elected, and we can vote him out if he doesn’t at least try to live up to the hype. That he works for us, and has a duty to uphold the laws and constitution. And not some convoluted John Yoo interpretation of same, but an interpretation that would likely persuade a few Supreme Court Justices if it ever came down to that.

Speak up. Speak out. Do something.

jane doe


I don’t usually venture into matters metaphysical in this blog, but I couldn’t resist posting this:


Just what are they preaching in evangelical churches these days?

A recent study by the Pew Research Center reveals that evangelical Christians are the most likely to support torture. The more often they go to church, the more likely they are to support such tactics.

Now, I don’t claim to be a biblical scholar. Because, hello? Buddhist. But I’m pretty sure Jesus would not be down with waterboarding.

Wasn’t he all about turning the other cheek? Treating others as you would have them treat you? Compassion? Letting he who is without sin cast the first stone?

And yet, that is the result of the survey. Regular churchgoers at evangelical Christian churches are more likely to support torture than any other group.

Questions? Comments?

jane doe


I missed this from the Denver Post last week because I don’t subscribe to any Colorado newspapers (I have no bird cages and thus no use for the local news), but I saw a post about it in my new favorite blog, No Blood for Hubris (another Buddhist blogger – yay! plus, gotta love the title). It’s the account of a protester who was arrested last week by the Denver PD for exercising his first amendment rights. A quick exerpt:

“The first thing I really noticed was at Civic Center Park when I was in the ‘Food Not Bombs’ area. The police seemed to be ready for conflict. They walked through the ‘Food Not Bombs’ crowd, which was a peaceful group, holding their weapons out and looking at people, really intensely, trying to intimidate everyone. It made us all a little worried.

“I was planning to march with the group that night. We all had different reasons for being there. I was marching to make people aware that they should be worried about our civil rights being stripped systematically right now, and show people that habeas corpus is six feet under. I just think the time we live in has so many deep-rooted problems that I don’t understand how people can NOT protest. I’d never been arrested before, and I have no criminal record or significant run-ins with the law.

“Everything happened really fast. We knew there were police behind us, and that presence was growing larger, with more police, but then suddenly there were police in front of us at the other end of the block. Shortly after that, the police encircled us. A lot of people were able to escape before they closed the circle, but the rest of us were inside, along with a journalist from Brooklyn, and a woman who started writing on her laptop about what was happening, and some photographers. There were many people who weren’t protesters, just citizens, who were in the encircled group.

“We moved to the sidewalk – a few people stayed in the street – because we didn’t want a confrontation, but it didn’t matter.

“People started pleading: ‘Let me go,’ ‘I want to go home.’ The police started using the pepper spray. Some of the police on horses were whacking people with their batons. I was told later that the police were telling us to disperse, but I didn’t hear them say that. And where would we go? The police were all around us, not letting us leave.

So it’s not just the St. Paul police, though obviously the SPPD have been much more…what’s the word I’m looking for…brownshirt-ish?

It’s a curious thing, though.

In St. Paul, the police seem to be sweeping up everyone who looks at them cross-eyed, without regard for group affiliation, and it looks like the Denver PD had its moments with the lefty-leaning protesters, as well.

But both days that I was in downtown Denver during the convention, I saw groups protesting against gays (and the whole GLBT spectrum) and against abortion, right on the sidewalks where people were trying to walk. These protesters were a little intimidating and in-your-face (because, after all, they were telling everybody else on the street that they were going to burn in hell).

And all the Denver PD did was keep people out of the street. That’s it. No arrests. No intimidation tactics. No hassling the right-wing protesters.

Who do they go after?

Not the anti-abortion people, in spite of the violent tactics often associated with their movement. Not the people preaching hatred and intolerance.

They went after the peace activists. The journalists. The bloggers. The people calling for health care reform. The people calling for economic reform. The people who usually make a point of being non-violent in their protests. Sure, they’re uncooperative, but they are not violent or destructive.

And yet the police are treating them as if they were throwing bricks and molotov cocktails.

America is getting scary.

Make no mistake about it, my friends. We are now living in a police state.

And the worst of it is that the people who are running the show don’t seem to understand that they are creating the conditions that are more likely to lead to open revolt against the status quo.

If you allow people to protest, they tend to think, “Okay, things are fucked up, but at least we can still say that they’re fucked up, and protest, and march, because we have our constitutional rights to free speech and assembly. We can work with this.”

But when you stifle dissent…well…

In a way, society is like a pressure cooker. You need a way to vent pressure when it starts to build up to dangerous levels. Right now, certain factions within our society are trying to tighten the lid on the cooker, to prevent that venting from occurring. Protests are the steam valve that allows some of the pressure to bleed off.

Oppression breeds subversion. Rebellion.

Revolution.

Just sayin’…

jane doe

Update: I edited this post to give the source for the quoted text (the Denver Post).


…that if certain people on the Christian right are going to claim that natural disasters are their god’s way of punishing certain groups in our society for immorality, they must at least do so consistently?

Say, when not one, but two hurricanes are scheduled to make landfall in predominantly red states during the Republican national convention?

Just asking…

jd


At any given moment, I am probably part-way through a half dozen books or so. I tend to fill many of the hours that I don’t spend working or writing with reading, and always have.

Lately there is one book that I keep going back to, though. It’s called Defying Hitler. It’s a memoir by Sebastian Haffner, who was a boy in Germany during World War I and the chaos that followed in that country, and who grew to manhood over the time period when Hitler was rising to power.

The book, or at least large portions of it, was actually written during just prior to the start of World War II. It starts with a look back over the Germany of the author’s childhood and young adulthood, focusing on the conditions in German society and the German psyche that ultimately allowed a madman like Hitler to come to the fore. It’s a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it.

It’s been said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Reading through this book and others, one cannot help but be struck by the parallels that exist between our world here today in the United States and pre-World War II Germany. Certainly, some aspects of it are different, but the similarities are there for those who would see them:

  • The increasingly authoritarian central executive who keeps stealing away our civil liberties in the name of protecting our “freedom”.
  • The demonization of liberals by pundits and in the press.
  • The mindless nationalism and bigotry, in which the immigrants who made this country what it is today are shunned as dangerous outsiders, and in which true patriotism and loyalty to the founding principles and laws of our nation are replaced by mindless loyalty to the flag and the president.

I could go on, but it’s late and I’m tired.

The point is, that the parallels are there for those who wish to see them. Oh, they take a slightly different flavor here in America – certainly the positive emphasis on Christianity, particularly of the evangelical variety, rather than the more blatant negative emphasis on hatred of Jews and other minority groups that was seen in Germany, is one example (though one cannot help but infer at times that the fanatic proclamation of one’s love for Jesus is really a thinly – or even not so thinly – veiled expression of disdain for those of other faiths, or of no faith).

All of it has me wondering, as I look at current events, is it fascism yet?

I’m not alone in raising this possibility. In Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here, he famously suggested that, “When fascism came to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.” More recently, Joe Conason’s It Can Happen Here (another book I am halfway through) points out the troubling rise in an authoritarianism that is based in corporate power and and religion. Chris Hedges makes a similar case in American Fasicists: The Christian RIght and the War on America (yet another book on the partially read list). And earlier this year, Keith Olbermann called our alleged president a fascist, subject-verb-object.

Is it fascism yet?

I don’t know the answer to this question. Part of the trouble is coming up with a good working definition of what constitutes fascism, what its defining characteristics are. There seem to be as many definitions as there are authors writing on the subject – witness the laughable Liberal Fascists by Jonah Goldberg if you doubt me on this. Perhaps this is the inevitable result of too many years of labeling one’s opponents as fascists or Nazis in arguments and debates: the terms have lost any real concrete meaning.

Is it fascism yet? Will we recognize it when it is?

Perhaps I will explore the subject a little more fully another day, or at least at a more reasonable hour. For now, I will leave you with this troubling thought:

Regardless of whether we have yet crossed the line into fascism yet, it cannot be doubted that our government, particularly the central executive, has become increasingly authoritarian. We have a president who does not feel bound to enforce or obey the laws passed by Congress or the decisions handed down by the Supreme Court. And we have two candidates who are running to succed him: one who seems determined to continue the current president’s failed policies, and one who has built a grass-roots movement centered around change, hope, and the power of the American people.

There will be a period of nearly two months between election night in November and Inauguration Day in January.

A lot can happen in two months.

Are we certain that, if the voters do not choose McCain to succeed him, Bush will step down on the appointed day? That he will not find some pretext, some emergency, that requires him to stay in control in order to ensure “continuity” in government policy? In the name of protecting us from terrorists, and preserving our ever-dwindling liberties?

And if he does not step down, will we step up and say that this is not our way? Or will we keep our heads down, not make waves, and assume that someone else will put a stop to the madness?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, and, as it is now approaching 4:00 AM here in Redstatesville, I am frankly too tired to delve into the matter at the moment.

But I still think Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached now, rather than taking a chance.

jane doe


I really ought to check my e-mail more frequently. Blogger Blue Gal has been hosting a blogswarm against theocracy for the past few days, and I almost missed it. If you are a blogger, you can find out how to participate here.

What to say? Recent years have seen a powerful effort by members of the Religious Right to erase the line between church and state at all levels of government. We have also seen certain politicians use religion as a tool to manipulate voters. Both of these movements are very troubling.

While I will defend until death the right of all Americans to hold those religious beliefs that they may choose, I would remind them that the right to hold those religious beliefs is rather related to the right to swing your fist — it ends at my nose. Believe whatever you want, believe in God, or Jesus, or Allah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster if you prefer (I’m actually rather fond of the Pastafarians), but don’t try to force your beliefs down my throat.

And I know there are those who try to assert that science is a form of religion, and that if you are going to teach scientific theories like evolution in schools, you ought to teach other theories, like creationism — sorry, intelligent design — alongside it. I reject that argument. Scientists talk about theories and the scientific evidence supporting those theories as such because they recognize that further evidence may be discovered at a future date that forces a revision of those theories. What is taught as science is always our current understanding based on the best evidence currently available. Nothing more, and nothing less.

Thus calling evolution a theory is not an admission that there is no evidence to support it (there is, in fact, a wealth of such evidence, and we know for a fact that evolution and natural selection take place in modern times because we have documented evidence of the process occurring — that is what Darwin was writing about, after all, when he was in the Galapagos studying finches), but merely a recognition that at some point there may be a scientific discovery that forces us to reconsider and revise the theory of evolution in some respects. In other words, scientists (unlike many religious leaders) try to remain open to the possibility that they may be wrong about things.

Creationism or intelligent design, in contrast, is merely looking at everything and saying, gee, it’s all really detailed and complicated, therefore there must be some designer or intelligence behind it, which is god — and is thus a way of introducing religion into classrooms.

Now, there may very well be some intelligence at work in the universe, in the way that physics and genetics and evolution and other similar forces work. That intelligence could even be the god that various religions speak of. There is certainly plenty of room at the edges of what we know about science and astrophysics for such a god. Or it could be the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The point is, that whatever it is that is out there beyond the edge of scientific knowledge is, by definition, not science, and it should thus not be taught as science in our public schools. It is something more properly belonging in the realm of faith, until such time as proof becomes available, and thus best left for individuals to seek in houses of worship, not in public schools.

But enough of my intelligent design rant. On this, the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I would call on all Americans to remember that many of our founding fathers came to this country to escape religious oppression in their countries of origin. In the years since our country’s founding, many others have come here for the same reason — my own family tree is riddled with such individuals. But the only way to ensure that America remains a land where people can escape the horrors of religious intolerance as our forefathers intended is by ensuring that we maintain some separation between church and state.

That is what the framers intended by the First Amendment to our Constitution: that America would remain a place where the government neither interfered with the free practice of religion (including the right to practice no religion), nor became the instrument of any religion or religious organization.

And although it has nothing to do with the rest of this post, and despite the fact that I have already said it twice today in this blog, I really think that Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached.

jane doe


So apparently Jerry Falwell has shuffled off this mortal coil and gone to join the choir invisible, or whatever. An intolerant, fearful, hate-filled, small-minded man has gone on to his great reward, whatever that might be…

I get this vision of the good Reverend wandering around the afterlife and encountering gays, feminists, people who lost their lives to AIDS, all the people he used to rail against in life, all in heaven. Wouldn’t it be nicely ironic if there was an inclusive, welcoming heaven that accepted all people of good intentions, whatever their beliefs, and that heaven turned out to be Falwell’s personal hell?

jane doe


I am in despair tonight, and I should apologize upfront because this is going to be rambling and far less focused than my posts usually are, but I feel a need to vent.

Our country is in a sorry state, and most people seem to feel like it is someone else’s problem to fix. Perhaps it is beyond fixing. I don’t know. It just seems that everywhere I look, I see mounting problems, with more problems lining up behind them. I find myself laughing in that nervous, slightly insane way that is nevertheless preferable to screaming at the existential horror of it all. I literally pull my hair and bang my head against the wall, and I lie awake at night wondering whether our country will survive another 686 days with George W. Bush in the White House.

Why do I feel such despair, you may ask? I hardly know where to begin.

First, above everything, we have the war in Iraq. The war we shouldn’t be in. The war our alleged president manipulated intelligence, manipulated public opinion, and flat-out lied to get us into. It will be George Bush’s legacy to our country, to his and our everlasting shame. Support our troops by sending more of them over there to die, that makes sense.

From this problem stem so many others. Our executive branch’s apparent abrogation of the Geneva Convention (and large portions of the Constitution), the effective elimination of habeas corpus, the torturing of prisoners of war — sorry, unlawful enemy combatants — these are not steps the president should be taking in our names. Once America stood as the bastion of freedom, honor, and human dignity. It was supposed to be a place where all men and women stood equal before the law, where all were treated with respect and one was innocent until proven guilty. That no longer is the case. Instead our officials are resorting to the means and methods of petty dictators, while still trying to claim the moral authority we once had.

Remember those civil liberties that we were always told set our country apart from other, less worthy nations? The liberties politicians say they are protecting when they send our military men and women off to war — in Iraq, in Afghanistan? Gone now, many of them. Fourth amendment right to be “secure in [your] persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”? Gone. Gotta fight them terrorists. Feel like exercising your first amendment right to speak up about that? You’re emboldening the terrorists, you traitor. We must fight the terrorists overseas so we don’t have to fight them here, and the only way to save our democracy is apparently by turning it into an authoritarian dictatorship.

And don’t get me started on the growing intolerance in this country. I want to cry when I hear Christians claiming there is some sort of war against Christianity in this country, just because some people think the ten commandments don’t belong in government buildings. The reason I want to cry is because I am a practitioner of a non-Christian religion, and I feel like I am regularly hit in the face with Christianity everywhere I look these days. Don’t get me wrong — I think people should be able to practice whatever religion they want. And I am cool with the fact that the majority religion in this country is Christianity so they get their holidays as official days off work, even though the rest of us don’t. But I am terrified by people who think they should legislatively impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us. And yes, if you think that stem cell research is immoral, that Intelligent Design should be taught as science, and that park rangers at the Grand Canyon shouldn’t be able to talk about how long it took for the river to carve the geological formations there because it contradicts the biblical timeline for creation, I am talking about you.

Of course, with the war, and all the money that is going straight from the IRS to Halliburton’s coffers (with a little bit trickling out the other end to rebuild Iraq and, oh yeah, New Orleans, remember them?), the economy is now going into the shitter. Market correction, my ass. If China is getting nervous, we all should be putting aside some danger money right now. The corporations have been having their way with our economy for years now, and particularly the past few years with Incurious George in the White House, and we are all screwed.

And the mainstream media, well, now, that’s just another bunch of big corporations, right? And not a very big bunch, either, getting smaller by the year, as mega-corporation merges with mega-corporation. Certain right-wing blowhards like to talk about the alleged liberal media, but it’s mostly a myth. With a few notable exceptions. what you have is the centrist media, which genuinely tries to just report the facts, and the right-wing media like Faux News and talking heads. Yes, there are a few liberals, and thank the deity of your choice for people like Olbermann, Stewart, and Colbert, but for the most part the mainstream media is as conservative as the large corporations that control it. Fair and balanced? Ha!

Our education system is falling apart, teachers are paid a pittance, and yet right-wing pundits act like the education lobby is some scary, fascist organization. You want to know how to fix education? Here’s a start: pay teachers enough money that all the brilliant people who would love to teach but want to earn enough money to own a house and send their children to college can actually do so by becoming teachers instead of going to law school. This country needs more teachers and fewer lawyers.

How about healthcare? Our country is facing a major crisis, in part due to the fact that we have so many people without access to health care. We are going to have a major influenza epidemic (bird flu, anyone?), and millions of people are going to die because when you have large numbers of people without access to healthcare the conditions for an epidemic flourish. Creating tax incentives for people to buy their own health insurance isn’t going to do the trick, because the people who are most likely to be uninsured through their employer are also the least likely to benefit from tax deductions, or even tax credits, because they have the lowest incomes.

Ooh, and speaking of healthcare, and getting back to the supporting our troops meme, how about supporting our troops after they come home? Giving them real healthcare and psychological services, and not make them wade through some sort of managed care phone tree to get treatment approved? These men and women are literally putting their lives on the line for this government’s policies. The very least the bastards in the White House can do is give them the red carpet treatment when they get back stateside and need care. That is how you support troops, Republican Party — by giving them the services they need, not by putting some magnetic American flag on your gas-guzzling SUV.

Which, of course, brings me to the environment. Sure, in the Midwest, in mid-February, global warming seems like a great idea. But come August, not so much. And I don’t imagine the polar bears are very happy about it, either.

And now we have our president, the one who lied to get us into Iraq, making a lot of scary noises about Iran. Pardon my French, but what the fuck? We don’t have the troops, we don’t have the money, and, hey, by the way, we don’t trust anything you’re saying anymore, Georgie-Boy. So just knock it off. We’re not going there. Got it? Let me repeat. We. Are. Not. Going. There.

Of course, he probably realizes we don’t have the forces to do that. That’s why he keeps making all the scary talk about nuclear — sorry, nucular — weapons. How low have my expectations for our government gotten if I say that I will be ecstatic if we can just get through the remainder of the Shrub’s term in office without him exploding a nuclear weapon somewhere in the world?

But really, all of this is only part of the cause of my despair. My real reason for being in despair is because it seems like the reaction of the vast majority of Americans to all of this angst-producing stuff is “Meh. Yeah, it sucks, someone should do something about that.”

Yes, I know, there are demonstrably lots of people out there trying to do something about all that. The blogosphere is full of people who have not for one second turned a blind eye to all the nonsense that is happening (and may the deity of their choice bless them all for that), and there are loads of people all over the country writing letters, sending e-mails, calling their congressional representatives, marching in the streets, what have you. But there are far, far more who aren’t doing a thing, who figure that it is someone else’s problem. ‘

In other countries, if the governments did some of the stuff our alleged president and his minions have done over the past few years, people would be rioting in the streets. Entire governments have been brought down for less. Hell, Bill Clinton got impeached over a blowjob, yet Nancy Pelosi says that’s not on the table right now in spite of all of Bush’s documented crimes against the Constitution, the American people, and — dare I say it — humanity. And we are all going about our business, saying “Yeah, someone should do something about that.”

And tomorrow morning, I will get up, and brush my teeth, and head to my office, before I go to classes in the afternoon. And I will think to myself, I should be doing something more. And I will come home in the evening, and watch Countdown, and The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report, and get my righteous indignation on, and then I will do my homework, and lie awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, and worry about all of this some more. And I will fall asleep, only to wake and repeat the whole cycle again. Maybe I will send an e-mail urging my senators to take some urgent action, to be logged and dutifully ignored by some senate staffer. I toy with the idea of starting a guerrilla political theater group on campus — maybe in the fall…

I know that I have broken no new ground with this post. Everything I’ve said here, has been said elsewhere, probably better than I could, already. But I needed to get it out of my system. If only so I can sleep a little better tonight.

So what’s the deal with the title of this entry? It’s from a recurring nightmare I had when I was younger. I was trapped in my house, which was full of spiders. Thousands of the eight-legged menaces, everywhere you looked — they spun their webs across the doors and on chairs, so you had to cut a web if you wanted to sit down, or go into another room, or do anything. And I would, understandably, be freaking out about the spiders in the dream, but I would be the only person who was. Everyone else just took them as a given. “Well, of COURSE there are spiders. Why are you letting it get to you?” And I wonder, is this — everything I’ve written about in this post, everything that’s troubling me about our country right now — the same sort of thing?

Questions? Comment?

jane doe


Oh, Tom DeLay, you disingenuous man. You are deliberately missing the point in all the outrage over evangelical Christians in the military. No one is outraged about the presence of Christians, even evangelical Christians, in the military. While the old cliche that claims there are no athiests in foxholes is demonstrably untrue, I don’t think anyone would argue against allowing members of the military to practice Christianity. What is troubling is that there is evidence that some in the military hierarchy may be using their positions to proselytize or, even more troubling, to condition advancement upon espoused religious beliefs. More specifically, espoused beliefs in evangelical Christianity.

What you seem determined to ignore is that America was founded in part by people who came here hoping to escape persecution for their religious beliefs. Countless immigrants over the past two centuries have moved here hoping to be able to practice their religious beliefs free of outside interference or coercion.

Thus it understandably is upsetting to many people, including many Christians, to hear that men and women in the military may be experiencing pressure from their superiors in the military hierarchy to adopt or espouse certain religious beliefs that may be in conflict with their own beliefs. It is particularly troubling when one hears that careers may be damaged by failure to adopt those beliefs.

Tom, I know you’ve said your religious beliefs are deeply important to you. I will not question your sincerity. Instead, I ask you to consider an alternate reality, in which your religious beliefs, the beliefs you were raised with and hold dear to your heart, are not substantially the same as the majority of your countrymen — think of a Christian living in a predominantly Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu country. Now imagine that your superiors at your place of employment (I know you wouldn’t be in the military, since it appears you’re part of the chickenhawk brigade) pressured you to adopt their views, or made it clear that your advancement at work was dependent upon you converting to their beliefs.

How would you feel then, Tommy Boy?

jane doe

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janedoe.tcm [at] gmail.com or follow me on Twitter: @janedoe_tcm
April 2017
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