Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Live blogging election 2006

Liberalprogressive is calling it a night.



MSNBC is predicting that the Democrats take the house!!

In the morning, well, later in the morning, I will update the last three Senate Races, MO, MT and VA.

VA is looking pretty good for Dems, but may be a recount.
MO is looking pretty good for Dems.
MT is looking OK for Dems.

All of these races are still too early to call. Democrats need all three of these to win majority in Senate as well as the House.

Dems gain 3 in Senate!! (3 to go)

OK, early returns (From msnbc.com and AP):


MT-Too early to call
VA-Too early to call
MO-Too early to call
OH-Brown-D ----Breaking News!!!
PA-Casey-D ----Breaking News!!!
RI-Whitehouse-D ---Breaking News!!



Other notes from MSNBC.com's exit poll results:

  • majority of Americans see this as a national election
  • majority of Americans are dissatisfied with congress
  • majority of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction
  • majority of Americans are unhappy about the war


OK, I posted my desire for people to get out and vote today before I even went to the Polls this am and I just wanted to share my experience.

I had no problems voting at all, but the lines in my district in Northern VA were long. I waited over an hour to vote at 8:00am.

People were calm and waited patiently and everyone seemed in a pretty good mood. Now, there were probably 8 people outside handing out Democratic campaign literature and sample ballots and 1 republican representative. There were probably 60-80 people in line.

I saw only 4 people with the peach colored republican sample ballot. Everyone else had the Blue Democratic sample ballots. I thought that was kind of telling, but I do live in the blues of blue precincts in a very red state.

I am also going to try to live-blog the election results as well.

Some early poll information that may be telling:

On MSNBC.com's live broadcast, Charlie Cook said it could be a huge gain for Dems in the House and he would be surprised if they didn't make big gains in the Senate as well.


Well, today is it, election day in the 2006 mid-term elections!

I really feel that Democrats have an excellent chance to take both the House and Senate. People are really motivated and will be out voting today. I did some phone banking for Move-on.org's call for change, and I can tell you, people are motivated and excited about today.

But the work isn't done. The job today is getting people out to the polls. Many people often plan to vote and then on election day, life gets in the way. Kids, shopping, work, school take up so much of our time and attention and before you know it, the polls have closed and another election day has gone by. But voting today is every bit as important as everything else on your 'to do' list.

Imagine how you will feel tomorrow if you didn't vote and the republicans retain control of either the House and Senate or both.

What difference could have been made if you and millions like you would have made it to the polls?

Who will be responsible when the next hurricane or natural disaster hits and the republicans still have no disaster relief plan?

Who will be responbile for doing nothing to improve the situation in Iraq?

Who will be responsible for not fixing our failing health care system?

Who will be responsible for not fixing the Medicaid prescription drug fiasco?

Who will be responsibile for not raising the minimum wage?

Who will be responsible for not checking the president when he seeks his next war in Iran? North Korea?

Who will be responsible when the next republican corruption scandal breaks?

If you do not vote today, you have only yourself to blame.

The midterm elections are every bit as important as the presidential elections, and this time around, perhaps more so.

So, the choice is this:

We can either stay the course with the president's failed policies in Iraq, Katrina, jobs, health care and allow them to further their policy of corruption.


We can choose something differnt, something better.

My sense, is people are ready and hungry for change and motivated to make that change happen!

Be the change you want to see in the world!


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Grand Old Pedophiles---To Catch a Congressional Predator

Remember the 90s? That idyllic time when the Christian Right held the moral sway of the country in the palm of its hand? Remember the righteous moral indignation of the republicans in congress? Remember how they lambasted Clinton, a democratic president, for a sexual tryst with a 20 something intern? Remember the words abuse of power? Liar? Coverup? Impeachment? Remember the blue dress? Linda Tripp? Monica Lewinsky? Remember how national politics came to a screeching halt so that congress could put all of this on trail to impeach this president for purportedly lying to a grand jury? Remember that this was considered a national travesty that put the Watergate scandal to shame? Remember how the 2000 presidential election was all about bringing morality and dignity back to the White House?

Well, take a good long hard look at yourselves in the mirror, my republican friends. All of the things you loathe and attribute to liberals, democrats and the left can be found deep within the soul of your own party.

My mother has this saying. She always told me to take a good long look at the people you hate because what you hate about them is what you hate in yourself and cannot face. Pithy, I know, but apropos nonetheless. Not that I am going on record saying that my mother was right, because god knows, I would never do that, but some truths simply are, whether you like it or not.

The truth of this scandal isn't that Foley is gay and had sexually explicit conversations with male lovers via the internet. The truth of this scandal is complex. It is not complex because people are somehow confused over whether what Foley did was right or wrong. It is complex because this scandal is not about one person. This scandal encompasses the entire republican caucus in congress, some of the very same republicans, in fact, who saw fit to shout from the rooftops about the national travesty of Clinton's blow-job from an intern.

The truth of this scandal begins simply with the acts of one man, the acts of Florida Republican Mark Foley. He had sexually explicit conversations via the internet, not with gay men, but with children, teenagers involved in the congressional page program. It doesn't matter whether those minors were boys or girls. It may matter to the religious right because they loathe all things homosexual. However, his homosexuality is not the issue. His penchant for sexual conversations with children is. Homosexuality and pedophilia are not the same thing. To suggest that holding him to account is akin to gay-bashing is a complete fallacy. The extreme religious right wing of the republican party is not afraid of gay-bashing. They are trying to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay people from marrying. In 2004, they saw to it that anti-gay legislation was on the ballots in many states to motivate their base to vote. That is gay-bashing. Removing a pedophile from office and initiating a criminal investigation into his behavior to protect the youths involved in the congressional page program is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

Another truth in this scandal is the congressional republican cover-up. The republican congressional leaders knew about Foley's behavior. In fact, there is ample evidence to suggest that they knew about it for years. And they did nothing about it. In addition to doing nothing about it, they actively covered it up, kept the information from congressional democrats and protected this pedophile over the well being of teenage congressional pages. As part of the page orientation, the pages were warned to stay away from Foley because of his sexual proclivities. We also know that Hastert and other republicans were given written copies of at least the e-mail correspondence between Foley and one of the teens. We also know that instead of taking action to stop Foley, the republican re-election campaign committee was given the information. When faced with the choice of protecting children from a sexual predator and protecting their own majority in congress, they chose the latter. They are not interested in protecting the well-being of minors if it is not politically expedient. They treated this cover-up as a campaign issue instead of an issue of right and wrong.

Another truth is that Foley was not just any republican congressmen. He was chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. Basically, he was charged with overseeing the laws that are written to protect children from crime, including internet sexual predators. Ew. Ironically, he was charged with protecting our nation's children from people like himself. An article on MSNBC is suggesting that as vile as his actions are, he may not be charged with a crime. Apparently, it is not a federal crime if you simply talk about sex and make sexually suggestive remarks to minors, but only a federal crime if you use the internet as a medium to solicit a physical sexual encounter with a minor.

If what he did is not considered a federal crime, my question is this: Did he write the laws so as to exclude from federal criminality the behavior in which he, himself, participated or did he simply know enough about the laws to keep his behavior within the legal letter of the laws while clearly flaunting the moral spirit behind them?

If he had the laws written to exclude his own behavior, that puts him in a category all his own. Because unlike the plumbers, school teachers, doctors and otherwise average people we see weekly on NBC's "To Catch a Predator" series, Mr. Foley had the unique position of being able to construct the laws in such a way that it keeps him out of jail. This is a privilege that other sexual predators do not have. I think that makes him MORE criminally negligent than the run of the mill sexual predator, not less.

Now, of course, that is all simply my own speculation. Through the course of investigations, proof may surface that Foley did in fact use the internet to solicit sex from these minors and he may be brought up on federal charges. Or maybe not. Maybe he only used the internet to engage in sexually explicit conversations and make dinner plans with these kids. But in either case, I think those laws ought to be re-examined and, if changed, made retro-active to include Mr. Foley's behavior.

Now, the republicans could have staved off much of this criticism. They could have dealt with Foley a long time ago. Of course, they were not inclined to do so in the 90s even though pages have come forward to say that they knew in 95 about Foley's sexual proclivities. The reason being they were too busy going after Clinton. How could they make the claim of moral superiority if they had a sex scandal with a pedophiliac in their own midsts. Even if they waited until after the 2000 election, they could have dealt with Mark Foley. They could have expelled him from congress, censured him, removed him from the committee chairmanship, investigated him and held themselves up as morally superior because they wouldn't allow this sort of behavior from one of their own. Instead, they brought him into their embrace and condoned his behavior by granting him the protection of a cover-up. And allowed him to continue to have access to the children who were brought to Washington as pages.

Now, the republicans have been screaming from high heaven that the Democrats are trying to politicize this issue. Really? The republicans hid Foley's problem from congressional Democrats for what, 11 years? They ran the spin from the re-election arm of their party and Democrats are making this a political issue?


The republicans made this a political issue a long time ago. Now, today's Washington Post had a great article about how this should have been handled and was handled in the past, under a Democratically controlled congress. Basically, the Democratically held congress assigned an independent counsel to investigate rumors of sexual miscondut in the House. They set up an open flow of information between the attorney general, who had been appointed by republican president Ronald Reagan, and that independent counsel so that there would be no chance of a cover up, and they gave that counsel subpoena power so that he could compel testimony. Engaging in this kind of behavior would have been a good start from the republicans to keep this from being a partisan political issue.

If it had been found out that a Democratic member of the House had sexually explicit e-mail and instant message conversations with a minor in the page program and that the Democratic leadership had covered it up can you imagine the outrage? A device has yet to be created that could measure the thunderous roar of outrage from the right. The day they found out would be the first day of their campaign to expel every Democrat from office. Don't tell me, the Democrats are making this a political issue. If you ask me, they haven't gotten even close to being political enough or angry enough over this issue.

What these men, and I use the word lightly, did was reprehensible. The hipocricy of these people is what sickens me. They treat every single issue as if they have the moral authority to dictate right and wrong. And we're supposed to accept they are the party of family values? Well, they come from some pretty sick families if they think covering up for a pedophile is a value to cherish.

Can you imagine if an average joe, a plumber, doctor, teacher engaged in sexually explicit e-mail conversations with your child and said, its because I'm an alcoholic and I'm gay as if that answer is enough? Would you accept that explanation from the truck driver down the street? A garbage man? A nurse? No, of course you wouldn't.

So why should we be expected to accept that as a valid explanation from a congressman, especially one whose party thinks they own the moral conscience of America? Clearly, their hypocrisy knows no bounds because this much at least is clear: The very same people who were out to crucify Clinton for his sexual misconduct, used their power as congressmen to protect themselves and their own stranglehold on power over the protection of American children.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rove NOT Indicted

Obviously, I feel that I have to respond to this news since I so gleefully wrote about Rove's potential indictment a few weeks ago.

A couple of weeks ago I very excitedly posted that Jason Leopold at Truthout.org reported that Karl Rove was indicted by Patrick Fitzgerald for perjury. Yesterday, Leopold reported that there was a sealed indictment out there and he speculated that it was potentially a Rove indictment. Today, Rove's attorney announced that he was informed by Fitzgerald that Rove would not be charged in the Valerie Plame case.

When Leopold first wrote his story, he said that he would out his sources if it turned out not to be true. Today, he seems to be backpeddling a bit on that statement. He took a lot of flack at the time for reporting the story when no one else in the mainstream media was reporting it. Needless to say, today he and Truthout are both being heavily scrutinized and critcized for their reporting of the original story.

I listened to Jason Leopold himself on the Ed Schultz radio show today and he and Truthout are standing by the original story. Jason says he is not going to out his sources, that it was a professional decision that was not made alone. And he is saying that just because Rove isn't being indicted now, doesn't mean there wasn't an indictment out there and that something has changed to change Rove's status and that maybe the indictment may have been used to broker a deal.

Here are my thoughts. No one, outside of Fitzgerald, the grand jury and possibly Rove, really knows what has happened. And Jason Leopold did have one valid point, Fitzgerald hasn't announced anything. I'm not trying to imply that Rove's lawyer is lying or that there is a possibility of a future Rove indictment. I'm just saying that regardless of what Leopold has said or what Rove's lawyer has said or what any republican or Democratic pundit has said or will say, the captain steering the ship has remained silent.

So, until such time when Fitzgerald holds a press conference and announces his results of the investigation into who outed Valerie Plame, I'm going to reserve judgement on the whole matter. I am interested in what Leopold and Truthout will eventually do with their source or any other information they may dig up, just as I'm interested in the outcome of this whole story. This is just one chapter in the investigation of who outed Valerie Plame.

I, for one, hope that Fitzgerald actually uncovers the real story behind who outed Ms. Plame and why and indicts everyone involved.

Friday, May 19, 2006

4th Amendment Redux---Again

OK, I was listening to Al Franken on Air America Radio and he played a clip from Hayden's hearing testimony during his show's game, 'Wait! Wait! Don't lie to me!' I'm not sure if it was from his testimony from yesterday and today or if it was from a 2002 testimony. I will go ahead and research this tonight and try to find the video feed on the C-Span website. (I'm at work right now and do not have spare hours to pour over this testimony, although I do think that his testimony is important) But apparently, Hayden doesn't think that the 4th amendment of the US Constitution says anything about probable cause. He recognized that searches of citizens' homes, papers and persons cannot be conducted without warrants, but didn't think that the probable cause was necessary. He even went so far as to say that the NSA is very familiar with the 4th amendment and this is something of which he's very sure.

Well, for his benefit, for the benefit of the Congressman who asked him that specific question and for the benefit of anyone who stumbles across my blog, here AGAIN is the text of the 4th amendment. I bolded the part regarding probable cause.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I find this really scary. They want to put him in charge of all of the country's intelligence? I know that I may not have a Master's Degree in Modern American History from Duquesne, and I may not have spent half my life in the military or in government, (or any of it for that matter). I only have a measely bachelor's degree from a state college that took me 14 years and thousands in student loans to get, but I did learn two things in my life of which I am sure: How to read and how to reason.

The constitution clearly says that the government needs a warrant AND probable cause to surveille us. The combination of a warrant and probable cause before searches are conducted is what keeps tyranny from ruling our country. This is how our right to privacy is guaranteed.

I think the fact he doesn't know this makes him singularly disqualified for the job.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Breaking News! Possible Rove Indictment

Jason Leopold at Truthout.org is reporting the Patrick Fitzgerald has indicted Karl Rove for lying to federal investgators and perjury, although it is unclear whether he has been charged with obstruction of justice.

On a second note, the Huffingtonpost.com has linked an article from Msnbc.com that the federal prosecutor has evidence that Dick Cheney had a copy of Joe Wilson's 2003 article with Cheney's hand written notes in the margin.

Could these two events mean that Fitzgerald is really focusing on linking Libby's and Rove's actions to the Vice President directly? Can we expect more indictments stemming from the original issue at hand? I think its too early to tell, but reading from records filled in connection with Libby's indicment is very telling. Below, I have copied some of that text from the msnbc.com site:

The annotated Wilson Op Ed is relevant and admissable for two principal reasons. First, the article itself lies at the center of the sequence of events leading to the defendant's alleged criminial conduct. The article, and the fact that it contained certain criticisms of the administration, including criticisms regarding issues dealth with by the Office of the Vice President ("OVP"), serve both to explain the context of, and provide the motive for, any of the defendant's statements and actions at issue in this case. In particular, admission of the Wilson Op Ed is necessary to assist jurors in understanding how, beginning on July 6, 2003, and continuing through the following week, the attention of the defendant, his colleagues, and the media was heavily focused on responding to the issues rasied in the article. Although the substance of the Wilson Op Ed is relevant and admissable to establish the issues to which the defendant and others with whom he worked believed a response was required, and to provide context for the defendant's statements and actions, the government will propose an instruction to the jury that the statements made in the Wilson Op Ed may not be considered as proof of the truth of the matters asserted, but rather may be considered solely as evidence tha the statements in the article were made and published, and may have caused others to take action in response.


The second principal reason for the admissibility of the annotated Wilson Op Ed lies in the annotations placed on a copy of the article by the defendant's immediate superior, the Vice President. Those annotations support the proposition that publication of the Wilson Op Ed acutely focused the attention of the Vice President and the defendant - his chief of staff- on Mr. Wilson, on the assertions made in his article, and on responding to those assertions. The annotated version of the article reflects the contemporaneous reaction of the Vice President to Mr. Wilson's Op Ed article, and thus is relevant to establishing some of the facts that were viewed as important by the defendant's immediate superior, including whether Mr. Wilson's wife had "sen(t) him on a junket."

I don't know if this means that Fitzgerald is trying to build a case against the Vice President, but I think it is becoming increasingly clear that there was an organized focus on discreting Wilson by attacking his wife followed by a cover-up to the federal investigators. Its the cover-up for which Libby and possibly Rove are indicted.

I think at the very least, it begs the question, if they had nothing to hide and had done nothing wrong, why did they lie to federal investigators?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Presidential Power Redux

OK, so apparently the president of the US does not read my posts and clearly did not benefit from my constitutional history lesson a few weeks ago. That really is a shame because he clearly could use the lesson.

Here is the 4th amendment to the constitution again:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

That seems pretty clear to me that a warrant and probable cause are required before the government can invade our privacy.

Our founders were no dummies and neither were they wimps nor victims. They knew what tyrrany was, having just fought for their own liberation from Britain's monarchial rule. In England, the King was the law and the King could make or break those laws to suit his own purposes. Our founders did not want that sort of rule here, in our new democratic republic. They wrote the constituion to preclude the possibility of kingly rule. They made the president subject to the rule of law, not the citizens subject to the rule of the president. In the United States, the president is not the law. The law is the law and even the president is bound by that covenant.

Now, I know you're saying, 'Yeah, but in the age of terror, we have to have the tools to track terrorists, and maybe forgoing a few civil liberties is necessary. I don't mind if the government listen's to my calls. I have nothing to hide."

But that's not really the point is it? Do you really want to live in a society where the government monitors the moves and lives of its citizens to make sure that they continue to have nothing to hide?

Ben Franklin is attributed with saying "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

It doesn't matter that you or I have nothing to hide. The point is it is illegal and unconstitutional. Even the telecom companies recognized this before they violated the law:

The concern for the customer was also based on law: Under Section 222 of the Communications Act, first passed in 1934, telephone companies are prohibited from giving out information regarding their customers' calling habits: whom a person calls, how often and what routes those calls take to reach their final destination. Inbound calls, as well as wireless calls, also are covered.

The president has the authority to go through the FISA court with probable cause to get a warrant. And since the passage of the Patriot Act, he now has 72 hours to do what he wants before he even advises the court of his activities. And out of the thousands of requests that the FISA court has received since the late 70s, they have only refused a small number of requests.

Yesterday on Hardball, Chris Matthews postulated that the government could have stopped the 9/11 attacks if they had this program in effect before 9/11.

MATTHEWS: Well, here‘s where the tire hits the read, Senator. Suppose our authorities had broken up 9/11 the day before because they noticed telephone traffic which suggested 19 people were about to grab four planes and take them in to buildings. Would that have justified the program if that had happened?

Really? The government was already aware of several of the hijackers and some of their activities, where they were, who sent them here and the fact that several of them had taken flight lessons. They were already on the government's radar and the government could have gone to FISA and gotten the OK to surveille their calls. Not to mention, a yet to be translated communique was sitting on Hayden's desk on September 10th that said something like 'tomorrow is zero hour'. Let's not forget the ever famous PDB with the title "Bin Laden determined to strke US." And that Moussaui character who just received life in prison and his infamous laptop. Yet they had not been unable to uncover the 9/11 plot with all of that information. But if only they had the ability to illegally and unconstitutionally surveille the calls of 200 million Americans, that would have done the trick. Um, right.

That's right. Two Hundred MILLLLLLIOOOOON people.

Now, back when they were supposedly monitoring only international calls that were coming in and out of the US---because as Bush said, 'if you're talkin' to a terrorist, we want to know about it---Bush claimed that the government was only monitoring people with suspected ties to terrorists. Here is what ABC News reported yesterday:

Bush said any intelligence activities specifically target terrorists. "Our intelligence activities strictly target al Qaeda and their known affiliates," Bush said. "We are not mining or trolling through the personal lives of innocent Americans."


About 200 million people have had their call records monitored, Cauley said. This means the NSA keeps track of the outgoing and incoming calls, but not the callers' Social Security numbers or addresses.

Specifically targetting terrorists? Do you really expect us to believe that there are 200 million potention terrorists in the US?

According to the US Census Bureau, there are 298,722,674 residents in the US. So, that means the government is surveilling better than 2/3 of the American population as potential terrorists. This is not a limited program as the president has previously explained. This is a bold invasive program aimed at tracking average American citizens' calling patterns.

USAToday reported yesterday that this is the largest database ever created in the world and its purpose is 'to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders,'.

When the government goes about collecting and storing data on nearly every citizen, we have to be concerned. Our founders limited the power, the scope and the reach of presidential authority because the potential for abuse of power is too great. This is a presidential power grab that cannot be tolerated. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This issue is neither Democrat nor republican, left nor right. This is the basis upon which our country was founded and we should stand united together against acts like this. Here is what some of our congressional members on either side of the aisle have been saying:

Though he did not acknowledge particulars, the president complained that any leak about "sensitive intelligence" methods "hurts our ability to defeat this enemy." Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who said he has been briefed on "all aspects of the NSA's activities," likewise said he is "increasingly frustrated with the release of sensitive data regarding our nation's best


"The big deal is that now we know that the administration -- I'll say "apparently," although if the report were untrue I think the president would have denied it -- is keeping track of the phone calls of millions of citizens who have nothing at all to do with terrorism. Bush has tried to convince us that the overwhelming majority of Americans are not affected by domestic
surveillance, but now we know that the opposite is true: The overwhelming majority of us are ."

"Shame on us, in being so far behind and so willing to rubber-stamp anything this administration does,' said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). He was referring to the Senate, but he could have been speaking for the entire nation."


Are you telling me tens of millions of Americans are involved with al-Qaeda?" Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, railed at a morning hearing. "These are tens of millions of Americans who are not suspected of anything."

All Americans agree that we need to be able to use all of the legal tools necessary to track and stop terrorist attacks. Americans are united on that front. Bill Clinton did it. At least twice that I remember. He stopped the bombing of the Los Angeles airport and he stopped New Year's Eve terrorist attacks here in the US. And he did it without creating a massive database to track US citizens. We cannot allow our Democracy to be lost because we have allowed our leaders to erode our liberties through fear-mongering. If freedom is worth the cost of the war in Iraq ---and make no mistake, I am no fan of this war---as the president continually proclaims, then it is worth protecting at home.

One of my heroines, Arundhati Roy, once said in a speech that 'once we surrender our freedoms, to win them back will take a revolution.'

Shame on us if it ever comes to that here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Controversy

I'm going to diverge from my usual topic and talk about the book The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and the movie of the same name that is to be release this month. I know that there are much more pressing and potentially exciting topics to write about, but I miss writing and I haven't had the energy to rant and rail every day about the failings of the gop and this administration. So many other people are doing a much better and more consistent job than I and I feel like talking a little fluff today.

I'm in the middle of reading this book, The Da Vinci Code, and I have to say that it is fairly exciting. I can see the appeal. Brown is hardly the first author to pose that Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus and had children. He was, however, able to create an exciting story full of conspiracy, intrigue and action around the notion that there are descendents of Jesus alive today.

I admit, it is a compelling an idea. Almost as compelling as the story of Jesus as the son of God come to earth to save the human race. And the fact that Brown has weaved into his story real historical documents and real secret societies (at least one anyway) to create the penultimate conspiracy theory has brought a lot of controversy and attention to this book.

Do I think the story has any based on facts?


I was reading an article on MSNBC.com today about the Vatican and the fact that it is trying to urge Catholics to boycott the film. Why on earth does the Catholic Church even care?

Why? Because the Church is afraid that people will think that the story is true. This really ticks me off. It makes me angry because the Catholic Church operates from the false presumption that people are stupid and cannot discern fact from supposition, which if the Church had been doing its job properly the last 2000 years about educating people in their faith, would not be an issue.

I understand that its nice to think that history has progressed in a clean even line with easily documentary facts and that the agreed upon version of events is the absolute truth. This is hardly the case. History is messy. History is the story of human interaction and the events that result from that interaction. There are somethings that are based on documentary facts. The dates people are born and died, where and when there is available documentation; the dates treaties are signed; census data; court documents, scientific data. All are some of the ways historians can find 'facts' and use those 'facts' tell the history of humankind.

The compilation of events into stories can be highly controversial. Example, everyone agrees that in the mid 19th century America had a Civil War where the southern states seceded from the union. But ask the question why the seceded and the answer is not so clear. Most people agree that the war was fought over slavery, but there are people who contend that the war was fought for state's rights, or to protect a genteel southern lifestyle. And to this day, the question of 'why' is still hotly debated.

The assembly of the Bible and establishment of Catholic Church doctrine is equally controversial, although people don't like to recognize that. Many people believe that the Bible is the direct word of God; that the person(s) who wrote the texts had God writing through them. The fact is that there were many 'gospels' circulating in the first few centuries after Jesus died. The men who assembled the Bible had the daunting task of trying to discern for themselves what was true and what was fabrication. Does that mean the versions they chose are the absolute truth? Many people think so.

There has been much controversy in recent history because of the discovery of ancient texts, The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Gospel of Judas, the Gnostic Gospels and so on. These gospels paint a much different picture of Jesus than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Do these newly discovered gospels invalidate the gospels in the Bible? Do they offer us any new information about Jesus and the formation of the Catholic Church and the Christian religion? Is this evidence of a Church conspiracy to cover up the truth about Jesus?

I'm not sure that these are questions that can be easily answered with a simple yes or no. Except the last one, actually. I don't think that there was an open consirpacy to cover up the truth. I am inclined to believe that there was an earnest effort to preserve as much of the truth as possible. Were mistakes made? Probably. Does that make Jesus's story and his message any less relevant or inspiring? Absolutely not.

I actually think that these other texts are very interesting and can teach us a lot. Mostly, I think they can teach us a lot about the people who wrote them and what people at that time were thinking. Why they were buried or hidden away. I find those 'gospels' facinating from that perspective. This says to me that Jesus was such an inspirational and enigmatical figure, that people were writing about him and talking about him all over the Roman Empire and beyond, long before an 'official church' was created. His story touched a lot of people's lives in a very personal way and they went so far as to write those stories down and try to preserve them from destruction by those who thought those stories heretical. The knowledge that these texts exists or what they have to say does not diminish my faith. On the contrary, I think the existence of these texts can only strenghthen it.

What upsets me about the Catholic Church campaigning against this book is that it clearly has no faith in the people, from whom they expect absolute faith. Here are some snipets from the MSNBC.com article about what the Vatican representatives have said:

Amato, addressing a Catholic conference in Rome, called the book “stridently anti-Christian .. full of calumnies, offenses and historical and theological errors regarding Jesus, the Gospels and the Church.” He added: “I hope that you all will boycott the film.”


Amato said the book, written by Dan Brown, had been hugely successful around the world thanks in part to what he called “the extreme cultural poverty on the part of a good number of the Christian faithful.”


In his address to the group, Amato said Christians should be more willing “to reject lies and gratuitous defamation.”

He said that if “such lies and errors had been directed at the Koran or the Holocaust they would have justly provoked a world uprising.”

He added: “Instead, if they are directed against the Church and Christians, they remain unpunished.”

Unpunished? Dan Brown and anyone who reads this book needs to be punished? Come on, what vile and hateful rhetoric from an organization whose main premise and message is supposed to be one of love and redemption.

I don't have a problem with people reading fiction, even if it may attack long held ideas. I, quite frankly, think that people are smarter than to be swayed by a work of fiction.

I was raised Catholic. I went to public schools until I was in 6th grade and went to CCD classes during that time. I switched to a Catholic school after 6th grade and continued going to Catholic schools until I was a sophomore in college. I then graduated from a public university. And let's not forget the requesite Vacation Bible School (VBS) during the summer until I was 13!

During my lifetime, I have learned a lot about Catholicism, Christianity, Jesus and the Bible. I remember at a very young age that when God created Adam and Eve, he wanted us to choose to love him. Because God doesn't want blind allegiance. He wants us to choose to have faith.

HE wanted us to CHOOSE. What does that mean? To choose---a choice---to elect---to decide---to resolve---to arrive at a conclusion---to make up one's mind---to judge---to determine---to conclude.

To me, that means using one's mind to reach a reasoned, intelligent conclusion based on knowledge and facts and inspired by faith.

An example of this might be one's choice to go to college. Statistics show that people who go to college earn more money. Not everyone who goes to college accumulates wealth. And not everyone who chooses not to attend college will be poor. But the fact is, you stand a better chance of getting a good job if you go to college. So you look at the facts and choose to go to college and have faith in the fact that you will graduate, get a good job and make a good living. Nothing is guaranteed, but the hope of a good future gives you faith.

So, I see nothing wrong with people reading a work of fiction that questions Catholicism, Christianity or the Catholic Church.

Now, I know as a Catholic, I'm supposed to believe that the Pope is infallible. Blah. Blah. Blah. But if he really is infallible, why does he allow his spokesmen to have such little faith?

But I digress...

As far as Dan Brown's book goes. I'll finish it and put it on my bookshelf. I'll even go see the movie. I think it's a good story and very exciting. A real threat to Catholic doctrine or even anything approaching truth? Eh, I doubt it.

« Liberal Blogs »
Blogarama - The Blog Directory this is a Proud Liberal Site