Friday, December 23, 2005


Leonard Pitts Jr.
Sacramento Bee

Let me begin by speaking the forbidden words.Merry Christmas.

There, I said it. So did the sky crack? Did the oceans turn to blood? Is a horde of angry Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and atheists storming the gates, demanding a retraction? Or does the world look much the same as it did before? I'm betting on the last.

So forgive me if I don't take up arms in the so-called War on Christmas. In case you hadn't heard about it -- in other words, in case you have a life -- let me bring you up to speed.
Recently, conservative and evangelical observers have been loudly complaining about what they call a campaign to de-Christianize Christmas, to unmoor it from its origin as the birthday of Christ.

They have a litany of complaints, but seem particularly vexed by word that some retailers have been instructing their sales people to greet customers with "Happy holidays" as opposed to "Season's greetings." This, as a way to avoid excluding people of other faiths and no faith at all.
It's been a heated battle and the complainers have not been guilty of understatement.

"A secular and atheistic jihad," cries a guy named David Huntwork on the GOPUSA Web site.

"Frightening," declares a traumatized Bill O'Reilly.

"A war on Christians," claims John Gibson, who wrote a book on the subject.

And a writer on the WorldNetDaily Web site warns of the possible "persecution and outright criminalization of Christianity."

Well, gee golly. They're putting so much energy into defending Christmas that one feels downright churlish for pointing out that no one's attacking it.

All we're seeing here is an ever more pluralistic society struggling to balance the faith of the majority with the rights and feelings of the minority.

Is it an imperfect process? Believe it.

For instance, in recent years the 80-foot decorated spruce erected at the U.S. Capitol in early December has been designated the "holiday tree." That's stupid. It's a Christmas tree. And if -- big if -- it's true as some conservative groups claim, that a Wisconsin elementary school rewrote the lyrics to "Silent Night" to make them secular, somebody should be poked in the eye with a candy cane. That's stupid, too.

On the other hand, the American Family Association is boycotting Target stores to force them to say "Merry Christmas" and that's hardly a sign of intelligence. How is the cashier supposed to know whether a customer is Christian or not? Will there be a questionnaire?

More to the point, why is pluralism so hard for these people? Why does it make them feel so put upon? Am I the only one who sends "Merry Christmas" cards to his Christian friends and "Happy Holidays" cards to his other friends and doesn't find it especially taxing?

What's offensive here is not the imperfect balancing of minority and majority. What's offensive -- also surreal and absurd -- is the notion that Christianity, a faith claimed by 76 percent of all Americans, is somehow being intimidated into nonexistence. Some of the earliest Christians were stoned for their beliefs. In some parts of the world today Christianity is a crime punishable by death. And the American Family Association is feeling persecuted because a salesclerk says "Happy holidays"? That's not persecution. It's a persecution complex.

And it trivializes what Christians claim to uphold: the baby born of a virgin's womb.

Of what importance is a salesman's greeting if you're one of the 76 percent who believe that? The greeting that matters was spoken by angels. The book of Luke says they appeared before shepherds in a field: "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord."

Linus said it best. "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Snave's note: I will not claim to be a Christian, but I would agree that making something out of nothing (i.e. claiming there is a "War on Christmas" or even a "War on Christianity" here in the US, for that matter) is absurd, and that it maybe just trivializes the faith more than just a bit. I see nothing wrong with being inclusive of all faiths, even if 3/4 of Americans claim to be Christians.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I added the captions to these pictures at . They don't have very many pictures there, but it's definitely a fun place to check out!


NY Times Editorial
December 20, 2005

After five years, we're used to President Bush throwing up false choices to defend his policies. Americans were told, after all, that there was a choice between invading Iraq and risking a terrorist nuclear attack. So it was not a surprise that Mr. Bush's Oval Office speech Sunday night and his news conference yesterday were thick with Orwellian constructions: the policy debate on Iraq is between those who support Mr. Bush and those who want to pull out right now, today; fighting terrorists in Iraq means we're not fighting them here.

But none of these phony choices were as absurd as the one Mr. Bush posed to justify his secret program of spying on Americans: save lives or follow the law.

Mr. Bush said he thwarted terrorist plots by allowing the National Security Agency to monitor Americans' international communications without a warrant. We don't know if that is true because the administration reverts to top-secret mode when pressed for details. But we can reach a conclusion about Mr. Bush's assertion that obeying a 27-year-old law prevents swift and decisive action in a high-tech era. It's a myth.

The 1978 law that regulates spying on Americans (remember Richard Nixon's enemies lists?) does require a warrant to conduct that sort of surveillance. It also created a special court that is capable of responding within hours to warrant requests. If that is not fast enough, the attorney general may authorize wiretaps and then seek a warrant within 72 hours.

Mr. Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales offered a whole bag of logical pretzels yesterday to justify flouting this law. Most bizarre was the assertion that Congress authorized the surveillance of American citizens when it approved the use of "all necessary and appropriate force" by the United States military to punish those responsible for the 9/11 attacks or who aided or harbored the terrorists. This came as a surprise to lawmakers, who thought they were voting for the invasion of Afghanistan and the capture of Osama bin Laden.

This administration has a long record of expanding presidential powers in dangerous ways; the indefinite detention of "unlawful enemy combatants" comes to mind. So assurances that surveillance targets are carefully selected with reasonable cause don't comfort. In a democracy ruled by laws, investigators identify suspects and prosecutors obtain warrants for searches by showing reasonable cause to a judge, who decides if legal tests were met.

Chillingly, this is not the only time we've heard of this administration using terrorism as an excuse to spy on Americans. NBC News recently discovered a Pentagon database of 1,500 "suspicious incidents" that included a Quaker meeting to plan an antiwar rally. And Eric Lichtblau writes in today's Times that F.B.I. counterterrorism squads have conducted numerous surveillance operations since Sept. 11, 2001, on groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Greenpeace and the Catholic Workers group.

Mr. Bush says Congress gave him the power to spy on Americans. Fine, then Congress can just take it back.

Snave's note: If that of which Eric Lichtblau writes is true, then it's definitely time to take action against the Bush administration.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Thanks are in order to Republican Senators who joined the Democrats in voting down the ANWR drilling proposal. The vote was 56-44, short of the 60 votes necessary to avoid a threatened filibuster. Now maybe the Senate can get down to the business of getting the funding approved for our troops in Iraq, relief for Katrina hurricane victims and help for low-income families to pay energy bills. They can do this quickly, by withdrawing the legislation so it can be reworked without the divisive ANWR language. I think Democrats rightly accused Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens of holding the spending bill hostage by attaching something contentious and unrelated... I think this makes the Republicans look like they care more about oil than about our troops, our hurricane victims, and Americans who can't afford to heat their homes. Despite feeling good about this turn of events, I feel this is just another temporary reprieve... We still have three more years of Bush, and he will do his damnedest to get approval for drilling in the ANWR... but for now, I'll savor a sweet victory for common sense over one man and his party's selfish motives.


Blackfield – Blackfield: Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson gets together with Aviv Geffen from Israel, and they cook up a beautiful album. There are lush vocal harmonies, pleasant melodies, and a feeling of melancholia throughout. This is easily one of the best rainy-day albums I've heard in a long, long time. The songwriting is beautifully done, and sad/dreamy cuts like "Glow" and "Scars" evoke a sense of longing.

Porcupine Tree – Deadwing: I love just about everything Porcupine Tree does. They are hard to categorize, as they move effortlessly from metal-influences to prog-rock to art-rock to pop. My favorite cuts are the album's two longest: the title track and "Arriving Somewhere (Not Here)". PT leader Steven Wilson enlists Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth and King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew to help with these tracks. While not as intense as its predecessor (the amazing "In Absentia"), "Deadwing" is nonetheless an interesting album, one that includes enough styles under one tent to draw in many listeners.

Opeth – Ghost Reveries: This Swedish "death metal" band continues to define the genre. At times, Mikael Akerfeldt's amazing voice sounds tender and haunting, and at others he sounds like a lost soul riding the cold, howling wind of death. Opeth blends acid rock, metal, art rock, and prog rock into something truly amazing. They do not deal in excessive bombast; they keep things tasteful. I believe they are truly representative of how appealing "metal" can be when played by the right people... and Opeth are those right people.

Sigur Ros – Takk…: This band seems to be abandoning its epics for songs that are shorter, more compact, and more structured. There is less of an ominous tone, and more of a feeling of playfulness than on their previous releases. Whereas earlier Sigur Ros purveys a sense of stark beauty, tending to evoke glaciers, ice, and coldness in my mind, "Takk..." makes me think of meadows, flowers and bright yellow sunshine. Every Sigur Ros CD is a work of art, and "Takk..." is no exception; it just shows us a side of this band we haven't heard until now.

Dandy Warhols – Odditorium or Warlords of Mars: This is a disc which has been bashed by a lot of folks, but I think it's unfair to bash it, especially if the bashers do so just because it is a different kind of record than expected from this band. The Dandies reinvent themselves with each CD, and this time they appear simply as... themselves. This record has a very loose feel, and I think it is a snapshot of a band that believes it owns the rock and roll world. While some of you probably don't like that kind of cocksure attitude from a band, I find it refreshing in this case. They seem to be telling us they know they are good, that they're going to relax and goof around a bit, and that listeners who don't like it can f*ck off! My standout "Odditorium" tracks are the acoustic-guitar-driven "Holding Me Up", the dense wall-of-sound stoner-symphonic "Love Is The New Feel Awful" and the final track "A Loan Tonight", on which singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor sounds like XTC's Andy Partridge on large doses of quaaludes. This is a masterfully druggy album, and it's a great one to kick back with.


M83 - Before the Dawn Heals Us: This is excellent atmospheric electronica, highly evocative, the kind that pulls all kinds of emotional strings in yours truly.

Coldplay - X & Y: I think it's unfair to criticize this CD because it isn't "A Rush Of Blood To The Head"... I think very few albums could ever match up with that one as far as overall consistency of excellence. I believe that on its own merits, "X & Y" is a very good record. I think the title cut is absolutely outstanding, and I also like "White Shadows" and "Talk".

Beck – Guero: stoner electronic/guitar rock at its finest. Check out the highly atmospheric "Scarecrow"... actually pretty edgy to listen to while driving along a dark highway!

Arcade Fire – Funeral: possibly not deserving of so much hype, but still a very solid alternative rock album. The vocals may be an acquired taste; the instrumental arrangements are interesting, not run-of-the-mill. This is a band with lots of potential.


My Morning Jacket – Z: Even though I was disappointed with this one, I still think it is a good CD. Like trying to compare Coldplay's "X & Y" with its predecessor "A Rush Of Blood To The Head", it is almost unfair to compare "Z" with MMJ's last one, "It Still Moves". "Z" seems to be more on the surface to me, that is, it doesn't have as much depth of emotion as their last one... but I still return to it, mainly for "Gideon" and "It Beats 4 U".

U2 – How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb: I was just about totally disappointed with this one. Before it was released, Bono was hyping it by saying "This is our first rock and roll album." My thought was "Wow, maybe they're regaining some of the fire from early in their career!" Alas, there were not a lot of moments here that could be considered "rocking out", and I prefer hearing The Edge playing in a more stripped-down manner than hearing him overdubbed dozens of times. I love "Vertigo", but I find the rest of the tracks on HTDAAB to be quite unmemorable.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sunday, December 18, 2005


In order to keep my own sanity and to immerse myself in a greater variety of interesting things, I plan to deviate from politics periodically. The previous four posts are illustrative of this trend. Of course I will not become politically inactive, or cease posting leftist political items... but even an ardent political afficionado such as myself gets a bit burned out on the negativity after a while. Besides, I simply felt this blog was becoming entirely too predictable...

So, enjoy. I will try to keep things as interesting as I can, and I promise I won't desert politics altogether. And finally, I apologize in advance for the repulsive nature of some of the upcoming articles and observations! (snicker)



And the coolest soda company website: ! They are a very people-friendly company, and their sodas taste good. My favorite is Fufu Berry, and my kids like the Green Apple.

But this company goes beyond the normal in a very cool way. Seriously, where else can you find soda flavors like Turkey and Gravy, Corn On The Cob, Broccoli Casserole and Smoked Salmon Pate (those are in the "regional" holiday edition), and these other flavors in the "national pack": Brussels Sprout with Prosciutto, Cranberry Sauce, Turkey & Gravy, Wild Herb Stuffing, and Pumpkin Pie. Also included in holiday packs are a serving spoon, moistened towelette, and wine list. Whichever edition you get, it's a complete holiday dinner:

I have some ideas for soda flavors, but if I sent them to Jones, I don't think they would use them.

What other soda company solicits photos from customers for possible use on their labels? Take a look at some of the submitted photos here: .

The company is also quite charitable. You can look on their site and see some of the causes to which they have contributed.

Jones Soda Co. is located in the Pacific Northwest.

I have to love their slogan: Run with the little guy... create some change!

Saturday, December 17, 2005


From david/dwe002/dwe00232.htm :


Only use modern medicines or 'home cures' that you are sure cannot damage the eyes.

One modern medicine that should not be used often, and only with great caution, is corticosteroid eye ointment. Some doctors and health workers prescribe it for almost any eye irritation. This is a dangerous mistake. If the irritation is caused by a virus (tiny germ), this ointment could make the infection worse and lead to eye damage or blindness!*

Some 'home cures' for eye problems are safe and effective. For example, in Mexico when villagers get a small piece of dirt or sand in the eye, to remove it they put a wet chia seed under the eyelid. The smooth seed has a layer of sticky mucus on it, to which the dirt sticks. Then they remove the seed. This is a safe, good home cure.

Some home cures are dangerous. Some villagers try to treat 'blurred vision' by putting human feces (shit) around the eye. This is unsafe and does not help. It could lead to dangerous infection. It is also dangerous to put lemon juice, urine, pieces of abalone shell, or Vicks ointment in the eye.

*Note: Corticosteroid drops or ointment are important medicine for preventing blindness from iritis (see "Arthritis" and "Leprosy"). But tests with 'fluorescein' should be done first to be sure there is not a virus infection. Get medical advice.


By Cyrus Farivar Also by this reporter
02:00 AM Jul. 16, 2005 PT

Imagine eating food that was cooked using natural gas generated from your own human waste. Thousands of prisoners in Rwanda don't have to imagine it -- they live it.

Prisoners' feces is converted into combustible "biogas," or methane gas that can be used for cooking. It has reduced by 60 percent the annual wood-fuel costs which would otherwise reach near $1 million, according to Silas Lwakabamba, rector of the Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and Management, where the technology was developed.

Last month, the Rwandan prison biogas facilities received an Ashden Award for sustainable energy. The award, which comes with a prize worth nearly $50,000, is given by the Ashden Trust, a British charity organization that promotes green technologies.
"It's turning a negative social situation in terms of the Rwandan genocide into something that can benefit local people in the local area," said Corrina Cordon, spokeswoman for the Ashden Awards.

Many of Rwanda's 120,000 prisoners are incarcerated because of the genocidal campaign. The prisons are overcrowded by a factor of 10, Lwakabamba said.

He added that prison overpopulation has created a situation where the facilities have significantly increased energy needs. The overcrowding also leads to large amounts of human waste that the prisons cannot adequately process.

Lwakabamba said that prior to the construction of biogas facilities at a prison situated atop a hill at Cyangugu in southwestern Rwanda, some human waste was being thrown down the hill, near natural bodies of water such as Lake Kivu.

"It got started when we went to these prisons and we realized that so much human waste was going into these rivers and we had to try something," he said.

The university rector said that the Rwandan biogas facilities, which are currently in half of the 30 prisons around the country, now contribute half of the energy needs for cooking and lighting in each location.

Rwanda's biogas facilities are among the most ambitious in the world, given their size and scope. They range up to 1,000 cubic meters in something resembling a beehive shape.

The process requires putting a given amount of human or other animal waste into a "digester," which ferments it using bacteria to release methane gas that can be captured and then burned as fuel. Attached is a "compensating chamber" that replenishes the supply of bacteria to keep the operation self-sustaining.

The lead engineer on the project, Ainea Kimaro, says that within four weeks, 100 cubic meters of waste can be transformed into 50 cubic meters of fuel.

Biogas is being used around the world, including in homes in Nepal and to power trains in Sweden.

Kimaro said that while waste smells bad initially, the biogas that is produced has no foul odor. He added that the Rwandan prisoners are not put off by the idea of using the byproduct of human waste to cook.

"Our people are very adaptive," he said. "They see it working; they want to use it."
Once the methane is produced, the remaining waste is used as an odor-free fertilizer for the gardens at the prison.

Martin Wright, an Ashden Awards judge who traveled to Rwanda and visited the prison at Cyangugu, got down on his hands and knees to take a whiff of the manure.
"I've sniffed the residue and there is no smell at all," he said.

As remarkable as the odorless fertilizer is, Wright said that he was even more impressed by the idea that the new energy project involves people being held on charges of genocide in Cyangugu, just across the border from the volatile civil war raging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"(That) they've become the site for this amazing pioneering project means that you're taking something that's a consequence of human misery and producing something hopeful out of it," he said.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (from Monty Python)
words and music by Eric Idle

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...
If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...
For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin -
give the audience a grin
Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death
Just before you draw your terminal breath
Life's a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show
Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the right side of life...
(Come on guys, cheer up!)
Always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the bright side of life...
(Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
Always look on the bright side of life...
(I mean - what have you got to lose?)
(You know, you come from nothing -
you're going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!)
Always look on the right side of life...


photo from BBC Jersey

John Cleese's fame preserved — via lemur!

Swiss scientists name Madagascar species after Monty Python actor

John D Mchugh / AP
Nov. 11, 2005

ZURICH, Switzerland - Most people know him as the Minister for Silly Walks on “Monty Python” or as Q in James Bond films. But John Cleese will also go down in history for another reason: lemurs.

Researchers from the University of Zurich have named a newly discovered species of lemur — one of the most primitive and endangered primates in the world — after the British comedian in honor of his work with the animal.

The avahi cleesei, which weighs less than two pounds and eats leaves, was discovered in Western Madagascar in 1990 by a team led by anthropologist Urs Thalmann and his colleague Thomas Geissman of Zurich University.

The name is a tribute to Cleese’s promotion of the plight of lemurs in the movie “Fierce Creatures” and documentary “Operation Lemur with John Cleese,” the university said in a statement. A lemur even appears next to Cleese on his Web site.

The lemur’s long legs are the only physical attribute it shares with Cleese, Thalmann told New Scientist magazine. “Woolly lemurs can’t really walk — but they do enjoy silly jumps,” he said.

Friday, December 09, 2005


I find the following article to be very interesting. It comes from Free Inquiry, a magazine to which I subscribe. Please read this, and then let us discuss our thoughts.

Facism Anyone?
By Laurence W. Britt

Free Inquiry Magazine, Vol 22 no 2, [15 July 2003],

Free Inquiry readers may pause to read the Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles on the inside cover of the magazine. To a secular humanist, these principles seem so logical, so right, so crucial. Yet, there is one archetypal political philosophy that is anathema to almost all of these principles. It is fascism. And fascism's principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.

We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist1 regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.
Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.

For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Francos Spain, Salazars Portugal, Papadopouloss Greece, Pinochets Chile, and Suhartos Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible.
Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the peoples attention from other problems, to shift blame forfailures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choicerelentless propaganda and disinformationwere usually effective. Often the regimes would incite spontaneous acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, andterrorists. Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.
5. Rampant sexism.
Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.
6. A controlled mass media.
Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes excesses.
7. Obsession with national security.
Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting national security, and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elites behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug.
Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the godless. A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.
9. Power of corporations protected.
Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of have-not citizens.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal.
Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. Normal and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or traitors was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.
14. Fraudulent elections.
Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating an disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.

When facism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the American flag.
- Huey Long

Snave's notes: I have to admit that one criticism of this article I have read is a fair one: this looks like it has been written by somebody who has seen things going on that he doesn't like here in the United States, and he has compared those things to what he saw in his research of fascist regimes, i.e. he is comparing the United States of America's current administration (or regime, if you will) with those past regimes by looking for similarities, in order to imply that the USA is a fascist nation. I feel this may tend to make the above article a bit simplistic or even ingenuous or fallacious in its approach, although I will admit I can see where some of the comparions may indeed be vaild. Whether or not our current right-wing leaders are fascists is a matter for debate, but I lean toward the belief that under our current administration we are closer to being a fascist nation than we have ever been.

I will print another article on this subject in the near future. It is a good one by Umberto Eco, a little more philosophical in nature than this one.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I wrote the following as a comment at Joseph's weblog, "The Independent Liberal" (see link below). It has been edited slightly. If you disagree and want to flame me, my asbestos suit is on:

I thoroughly enjoyed Dan Brown's novel "The DaVinci Code", and I eagerly await the release of the movie. I hope it does well at the box office and spurs lots of people to examine and re-examine their Christian faith. When I used to attend a fairly liberal Methodist church regularly, for quite a number of years, I was always taught that one gains strength in one's faith by questioning it... so I appreciate what Dan Brown has done by writing his book. If it causes people to examine their beliefs, so be it. I think that is why many Christians, especially Christian leaders, may be critical of the book and what it suggests, mainly because they fear that if their followers think too much they might not be as easily controlled. But that's just my opinion. Sure, "The DaVinci Code" is fiction, but there is no denying it portrays a path of thought about Jesus and Christianity that those who are comfortable in that faith may fear to tread... it's the old question "What if...?"

I don't have trouble with people having faith in Jesus and believing in a god as portrayed in the Bible. Whatever turns them on, gives them comfort, helps explain the world to them, whatever energizes them! What I do have trouble with is the kind of blind faith that tends to put blinders on a number of people or makes them so obsessed with their religion that they become addled by it, especially when those people rise to the top. I believe our president is a prime example of the problems this can cause. If he is arriving at critical decisions because "God told him to", or even simply due to his gut feelings or instinct rather than through a thoughtful examination of evidence, then we are truly in a world of hurt.

If Bush truly believes God told him that war in Iraq was the way to go, I believe he is delusional. If he truly believes he is chosen by God to lead the war on terror, I will again state that belief: he is a delusional man.

At this time in the history of the world, I do not believe the most powerful nation on Earth should have a delusional leader. From whichever political party our next president comes, I hope Americans have the wherewithal to choose someone possessing a rational mind. And that CAN be someone who has faith... but I would like to see this particular someone, faithful or not, have the skills of listening to others, of examining issues from various points of view, and of respecting faiths that are different from his or her own. Making snap decisions? That might not allow the time for weighing various factors, but feeling good about our leader not being addled or delusional would make me feel lots better. Was the decision to go to war in Iraq a "snap decision"? I don't think it was... I believe the war had been in the planning stages for years.

I don't believe this is the kind of rational person we have running this country at this time. I am not saying Bush is addled or irrational because he is a Christian. I am saying he is addled or irrational because of the extent to which he places blind faith in his beliefs, without taking the time to examine things around him. I believe he has proven to be an incurious individual who has an entirely too narrow view of the world around him.

What about you? How much does it matter to you whether or not our president has faith in a Christian God? Should that even be an issue when it comes to electing somebody? Has it been made into an issue in our country as a way to control large blocks of fearful voters, or to lure fundamentalist Christian voters?

I will be involving myself in the necessary processes for ridding the White House of what I view as flawed thought processes or even a lack of rational thought, as demonstrated by Bush and his administration. If I was the praying type, I would pray that our country makes it safely, intact, through to the next presidential election. I have to wonder sometimes if it will... Is sending good vibes to the United States and to the White House the same as praying? Maybe it is. Anyway, that's what I will be doing. Praying that our president finds wisdom might prove to be a fruitless proposition, but we can always hope.


From the wonderful website , Woody speaks to the misery within us all:

As the poet said, 'Only God can make a tree' -- probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.

Eighty percent of success is showing up.

Eternal nothingness is fine if you happen to be dressed for it.

His lack of education is more than compensated for by his keenly developed moral bankruptcy.

How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?

How is it possible to find meaning in a finite world, given my waist and shirt size?

I am at two with nature.

I can't listen to that much Wagner. I start getting the urge to conquer Poland.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve it through not dying.

I tended to place my wife under a pedestal.

I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.

I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.

I'm astounded by people who want to 'know' the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.

If it turns out that there is a God, I don't think that he's evil. But the worst that you can say about him is that basically he's an underachiever.

If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name in a Swiss bank.

Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought-- particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things.

It is impossible to experience one's death objectively and still carry a tune.

It is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off.

It seemed the world was divided into good and bad people. The good ones slept better... while the bad ones seemed to enjoy the waking hours much more.

Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable.

Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering - and it's all over much too soon.

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.

More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

Most of the time I don't have much fun. The rest of the time I don't have any fun at all.

My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.

Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends.

On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done just as easily lying down.

Organized crime in America takes in over forty billion dollars a year and spends very little on office supplies.

The government is unresponsive to the needs of the little man. Under 5'7", it is impossible to get your congressman on the phone.
Woody Allen

Friday, December 02, 2005


I found it at (and stole it from) Shakespeare's Sister at via Brother Kenya (see my links below).

This is for getting your elected representative to support HR 550.

To that end, we owe a debt of gratitude to Congressman Rush Holt, who has introduced House Resolution 550, The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005. The measure:

would require all voting machines to produce an actual paper record that voters can view to check the accuracy of their votes and that election officials can use to verify votes in the event of a computer malfunction, hacking, or other irregularity. Experts often refer to this paper record as a “voter-verified paper trail.”“Anything of value should be auditable,” said Holt. “Votes are valuable, and each voter should have the knowledge—and the confidence—that his or her vote was recorded and counted as intended. Passage of this bill will be a big step in restoring that confidence, which is the very foundation of our democratic republic.”[…]Key provisions of the bill include:
~ Strengthening the HAVA current audit trail requirement – “a permanent paper record” – by requiring that the voters have the opportunity to verify the accuracy of the recorded vote.
~ Requiring that all voting systems produce a voter-verified paper record for use in manual audits, commencing in 2006 in accordance with HAVA’s original deadline. (Funding of $150 million is authorized to help states meet the cost of implementing this requirement.)
~ Preserving HAVA’s existing access requirements for voters with disabilities; clarifying and enhancing the security requirements demanded of systems to be used by voters with disabilities; and adding the requirement that an accessible voter-verification mechanism be provided.
~ Banning the use of undisclosed software and all wireless and concealed communications devices in voting systems, and prohibiting the connection of any voting machine component to the Internet.
~ Requiring random, unannounced, hand-count audits of the voter-verified paper records (conducted by the Election Assistance Commission) in 2% of all jurisdictions, including at least 1 precinct per county. Such funds as may be necessary are authorized to fund the expense of the audits.
~ Require manufacturers and election officials to document the chain of custody with respect to the handling of software; prohibit the use of software or software modifications that have not been certified or re-certified; and prohibit political and financial conflicts of interest among manufactures, test laboratories, and political parties.
~ Expands on HR 2239 (the version of the bill in the 108th Congress) by establishing procedures to be followed if there is a discrepancy between reported results and audit results, and preserving the rights of individuals and the Attorney General’s authority to pursue legal resolution of the discrepancies.

You can find additional information about H.R. 550 here.

Currently, H.R. 550 has 159 co-sponsors in the House, 9 of whom are Republican, and has been strongly endorsed by the bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, but it has been sitting in the House Administration Committee since it was introduced in February. The Committee is chaired by Bob Ney, who is currently facing a major ethics scandal for his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff and evidently has no interest in fair elections, either. It’s up to us to make sure this resolution gets the attention it deserves so it can make its way out of committee.

This isn’t a partisan issue—everyone should be interested in fair elections with accountability.This post is part of blogswarm launched today by DBK of Blanton and Ashton’s. His post is here. I encourage you, if you have you own blog, please participate in this important blogswarm, even if it’s just linking back to this post. And I encourage everyone to sign the petition in support of H.R. 550 here.

Again, that link is:


(Peaceful Sunset in Havre Boucher Photo from Mirrorlock Photography )

These are some of my favorite "Deep Thoughts" from the inimitable Jack Handey. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, his material has appeared on Saturday Night Live. Imagine these quotes being recited in a thoughtful voice while beautiful scenes are shown and new-agey music plays. Enjoy!

It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.

If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is “God is crying.” And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is “Probably because of something you did.”

Better not take a dog on the Space Shuttle, because if he sticks his head out when you’re coming home his face might burn up.

Laurie got offended that I used the word "puke." But to me, that's what her dinner tasted like.

Children need encouragement. If a kid gets an answer right, tell him it was a lucky guess. That way he develops a good, lucky feeling.

The crows seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw.

I believe in making the world safe for our children, but not our children's children, because I don't think children should be having sex.

It's true that every time you hear a bell, an angel gets its wings. But what they don't tell you is that every time you hear a mouse trap snap, and Angel gets set on fire.

If you're in a war, instead of throwing a hand grenade at the enemy, throw one of those small pumpkins. Maybe it'll make everyone think how stupid war is, and while they are thinking, you can throw a real grenade at them.

I hope life isn't a big joke, because I don't get it.

The next time I have meat and mashed potatoes, I think I'll put a very large blob of potatoes on my plate with just a little piece of meat. And if someone asks me why I didn't get more meat, I'll just say, "Oh, you mean this?" and pull out a big piece of meat from inside the blob of potatoes, where I've hidden it. Good magic trick, huh?

We used to laugh at Grandpa when he'd head off and go fishing. But we wouldn't be laughing that evening when he'd come back with some whore he picked up in town.

As I bit into the nectarine, it had a juiciness about it that was very pleasurable --- until I realized it wasn’t a nectarine at all, but a HUMAN HEAD!!

Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he’s carrying a rose in his beak, and also he’s carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you’re drunk.

I guess of all my uncles, I liked Uncle Cave Man the best. We called him Uncle Cave Man because he lived in a cave and because sometimes he’d eat one of us. Later on we found out he was a bear.

The memories of my family outings are still a source of strength to me. I remember we’d all pile into the car --- I forget what kind it was --- and drive and drive. I’m not sures where we’d go, but I think there were some trees there. The smell of something was strong in the air as we played whatever sport we played. I remember a bigger, older guy we called “Dad”. We’d eat some stuff, or not, and then I think we went home. I guess some things never leave you.

I can still recall old Mister Barnslow getting out every morning and nailing a fresh load of tadpoles to that old board of his. Then he’d spin it round and round, like a wheel of fortune, and no matter where it stopped he’d yell out “Tadpoles! Tadpoles is a winner!” We all thought he was crazy. But then, we had some growing up to do.

The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.

If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I’d say Flippy, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong though. It’s hambone.

Most people don’t realize that large pieces of coral, which have been painted brown and attached to the skull by common wood screws, can make a child look like a deer.

The sound of fresh rain run-off splashing from the roof reminded me of the sound of urine splashing into a filthy Texaco latrine.

I'd like to be buried Indian-style, where they put you up on a high rack, above the ground. That way, you could get hit by meteorites and not even feel it.

I bet one legend that keeps recurring throughout history, in every culture, is the story of Popeye.

I don't think I'm alone when I say I'd like to see more and more planets fall under the ruthless domination of our solar system.

Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.

Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: "Mankind". Basically, it's made up of two separate words - "mank" and "ind". What do these words mean ? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.

I hope if dogs ever take over the world, and they chose a king, they don't just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with some good ideas.

To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And, at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some things I can’t remember, all rolled into one big “thing”. This is truth, to me.

You know what would make a good story? Something about a clown who makes people happy, but inside he’s real sad. Also, he has severe diarrhea.

I think in one of my previous lives I was a mighty king, because I like people to do what I say.

To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other.

Probably the earliest flyswatters were nothing more than some sort of striking surface attached to the end of a long stick.

I think someone should have had the decency to tell me the luncheon was free. To make someone run out with potato salad in his hand, pretending he's throwing up, is not what I call hospitality.

I'd like to see a nude opera, because when they hit those high notes, I bet you can really see it in those genitals.

Anytime I see something screech across a room and latch onto someones neck, and the guy screams and tries to get it off, I have to laugh, because what is that thing.

As the evening sun faded from a salmon color to a sort of flint gray, I thought back to the salmon I caught that morning, and how gray he was, and how I named him Flint.

One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, once I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-down warehouse. “oh no, I said, “Disneyland burned down.” He cried and cried, but I think that deep down, he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.

I bet for an Indian, shooting an old fat pioneer woman in the back with an arrow, and she fires her shotgun into the ground as she falls over, is like the top thing you can do.

We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can’t scoff at them personally, to their faces, and this is what annoys me.

I hope that in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick “Americans” as their mascot.

It makes me mad when people say I turned and ran like a scared rabbit. Maybe it was like an angry rabbit, who was running to go fight in another fight, away from the first fight.

What is it that makes a complete stranger dive into an icy river to save a solid gold baby? Maybe we’ll never know.

Instead of having “answers” on a math test, they should just call them “impressions,” and if you got a different “impression,” so what, can’t we all be brothers?

Too bad when I was a kid there wasn't a guy in our class that everybody called the "Cricket Boy", because I would have liked to stand up in class and tell everybody, "You can make fun of the Cricket Boy if you want to, but to me he's just like everybody else." Then everybody would leave the Cricket Boy alone, and I'd invite him over to spend the night at my house, but after about five minutes of that loud chirping I'd have to kick him out. Maybe later we could get up a petition to get the Cricket Family run out of town. Bye, Cricket Boy.

I guess I kinda lost control, because in the middle of the play I ran up and lit the evil puppet villain on fire. No, I didn't. Just kidding. I just said that to help illustrate one of the human emotions, which is freaking out. Another emotion is greed, as when you kill someone for money, or something like that. Another emotion is generosity, as when you pay someone double what he paid for his stupid puppet.

Many people think that history is a dull subject. Dull? Is it "dull" that Jesse James once got bitten on the forehead by an ant, and at first it didn't seem like anything, but then the bite got worse and worse, so he went to a doctor in town, and the secretary told him to wait, so he sat down and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and then finally he got to see the doctor, and the doctor put some salve on it? You call that dull?

I scrambled to the top of the precipice where Nick was waiting. "That was fun," I said. "You bet it was," said Nick. "Let's climb higher." "No," I said. "I think we should be heading back now." "We have time," Nick insisted. I said we didn't, and Nick said we did. We argued back and forth like that for about 20 minutes, then finally decided to head back. I didn't say it was an interesting story.

If they ever come up with a swashbuckling School, I think one of the courses should be Laughing, Then Jumping Off Something.

When you're riding in a time machine way far into the future, don't stick your elbow out the window, or it'll turn into a fossil.

Once when I was in Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, I met a mysterious old stranger. He said he was about to die and wanted to tell someone about the treasure. I said, "Okay, as long as it's not a long story. Some of us have a plane to catch, you know." He stared telling hes story, about the treasure and his life and all, and I thoug
ht: "This story isn't too long." But then, he kept going, and I started thinking, "Uh-oh, this story is getting long." But then the story was over, and I said to myself: "You know, that story wasn't too long after all." I forget what the story was about, but there was a good movie on the plane. It was a little long, though.

I bet a fun thing would be to go way back in time to where there was going to be an eclipse and tell the cave men, "If I have come to destroy you, may the sun be blotted out from the sky." Just then the eclipse would start, and they'd probably try to kill you or something, but then you could explain about the rotation of the moon and all, and everyone would get a good laugh.

Perhaps, if I am very lucky, the feeble efforts of my lifetime will someday be noticed, and maybe, in some small way, they will be acknowledged as the greatest works of genius ever created by Man.


The link to an article about the above is . It's kind of interesting... here are some excerpts:

“A free and independent press is critical to the functioning of a democracy, and I am concerned about any actions which may erode the independence of the Iraqi media,” said the committee chairman, Sen. John Warner, R-Va.

Military officials in Iraq say the program is necessary.

“The purpose of this program is to ensure factual information is provided to the Iraqi public,” Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman, said in Iraq.

The program came to light just as President Bush released his strategy for victory in Iraq. It includes the need to support a “free, independent and responsible Iraqi media.”

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., characterized the program as a scheme that “speaks volumes about the president’s credibility gap. If Americans were truly welcomed in Iraq as liberators, we wouldn’t have to doctor the news for the Iraqi people.”

Snave: On this point, I have to agree with Teddy.

I guess that if one of the Bush administration's goals is winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, it would be fitting that the Bush administration wouldn't necessarily feel that sticking to the truth would be of paramount importance. They might also not really care whether or not Iraq has a free media. If paying pundits to support the administration has worked here, why shouldn't it work in Iraq?


Thanks to friend Joe for the cartoon and the following article!

Conservatives Becoming Unglued
George F Will
Sacramento Bee 11-17-05

The storm-tossed and rudderless Republican Party should particularly ponder the vote last week in Dover, Pa., where all eight members of the school board seeking re-election were defeated. This expressed the community's wholesome exasperation with the board's campaign to insinuate religion, in the guise of "intelligent design" theory, into high school biology classes, beginning with a required proclamation that evolution "is not a fact."

But it is. And President Bush's straddle on that subject - "both sides" should be taught - although intended to be anodyne, probably was inflammatory, emboldening social conservatives. Dover's insurrection occurred as Kansas' Board of Education, which is controlled by the kind of conservatives who make conservatism repulsive to temperate people, voted 6-4 to redefine science. The board, opening the way for teaching the supernatural, deleted from the definition of science these words: "a search for natural explanations of observable phenomena."

"It does me no injury," said Thomas Jefferson, "for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." But it is injurious, and unneighborly, when zealots try to compel public schools to infuse theism into scientific education.

The conservative coalition, which is coming unglued for many reasons, will rapidly disintegrate if limited-government conservatives become convinced that social conservatives are unwilling to concentrate their character-building and soul-saving energies on private institutions, and instead try to conscript government into sectarian crusades.

But, then, the limited-government impulse is a spent force in a Republican Party that cannot muster congressional majorities to cut the growth of Medicaid from 7.3 percent to 7 percent next year. That "cut" was too draconian for some Republican "moderates." But, then, most Republicans are moderates as that term is used by persons for whom it is an encomium: Moderates are people amiably untroubled by Washington's single-minded devotion to rent-seeking - to bending government for the advantage of private factions.

Conservatives have won seven of 10 presidential elections, yet government taxes, with per household federal spending more than $22,000 per year, the highest in inflation-adjusted terms since World War II. Federal spending has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Clinton, 65 percent of it unrelated to national security.

Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation reports that Congress responded to the Korean War by cutting one-fourth of all nonwar spending in one year. This is today's ambitiousness: attempting to cut government growth by $54 billion over five years. That is $10.8 billion a year from five budgets projected to total $12.5 trillion, of which $54 billion is four-hundredths of 1 percent.

Gerard Alexander of the University of Virginia wonders whether conservatives' cohesion is perishing because it was a product of the period when conservatives were insurgents against dominant liberals. About limited-government conservatism, he says: "Perhaps conservatives were naive to expect any party, ever, to resist rent-seeking temptations when in power. Just as there always was something fatally unserious about socialism - its flawed understanding of human nature - is it possible that there has also been something profoundly unserious about the limited-government agenda? Should we now be prepared for the national electoral wing of the conservative movement - congressional caucuses and executive branch officials - to identify with legislation like the pork-laden energy and transportation bills, in the same way that liberals came to ground their identities in programs like Social Security?"

Perhaps. But if so, limited-government conservatives will dissociate from a Republican Party more congenial to social conservatives. Then those Republican congressional caucuses will be smaller, and Republican control of the executive branch will be rarer.