Is that like the Nicene Creed? —

Southern Baptists are being encouraged to withdraw their children from government schools, en masse, in order to home school them or enroll them in “private Christian academies.”

In an essay published last week at, (Bruce) Shortt wrote, “Government schools are converting our children to alien creeds and infusing them with false and destructive values.” Pinckney added, “God gives the responsibility for education of children to the parents, not the government.” Indeed. And it has been the decision by too many parents to allow government to shape their children’s worldview and values that is responsible for spiritual and intellectual disorder that now inhabits the souls and minds of too many offspring of Christian parents.

A friend sent the link (thanks, A.). I am a product of these so-called government schools, which I guess explains how I came to be infused with false and destructive values, but I don’t remember reciting an Alien Creed. Now I want to write one, though.

Biz Stone, Smart *ss —

But, perhaps because I am infused with false and destructive values, he made me laugh.

“Get mad” —

A choice segment from Bill Moyers’ keynote at the Inequality Matters Forum:

There’s no question about it: The corporate conservatives and their allies in the political and religious right are achieving a vast transformation of American life that only they understand because they are its advocates, its architects, and its beneficiaries. In creating the greatest economic inequality in the advanced world, they have saddled our nation, our states, and our cities and counties with structural deficits that will last until our children’s children are ready for retirement, and they are systematically stripping government of all its functions except rewarding the rich and waging war.

And they are proud of what they have done to our economy and our society. If instead of practicing journalism I was writing for Saturday Night Live, I couldn’t have made up the things that this crew have been saying. The president’s chief economic adviser says shipping technical and professional jobs overseas is good for the economy. The president’s Council of Economic Advisers report that hamburger chefs in fast food restaurants can be considered manufacturing workers. The president’s Federal Reserve Chairman says that the tax cuts may force cutbacks in social security – but hey, we should make the tax cuts permanent anyway. The president’s Labor Secretary says it doesn’t matter if job growth has stalled because “the stock market is the ultimate arbiter.”

You just can’t make this stuff up. You have to hear it to believe it. This may be the first class war in history where the victims will die laughing.

But what they are doing to middle class and working Americans — and to the workings of American democracy — is no laughing matter. Go online and read the transcripts of Enron traders in the energy crisis four years ago, discussing how they were manipulating the California power market in telephone calls in which they gloat about ripping off “those poor grandmothers.” Read how they talk about political contributions to politicians like “Kenny Boy” Lay’s best friend George W. Bush. Go on line and read how Citigroup has been fined $70 Million for abuses in loans to low-income, high risk borrowers – the largest penalty ever imposed by the Federal Reserve. A few clicks later, you can find the story of how a subsidiary of the corporate computer giant NEC has been fined over $20 million after pleading guilty to corruption in a federal plan to bring Internet access to poor schools and libraries. And this, the story says, is just one piece of a nationwide scheme to rip off the government and the poor.

Let’s face the reality: If ripping off the public trust; if distributing tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the poor; if driving the country into deficits deliberately to starve social benefits; if requiring states to balance their budgets on the backs of the poor; if squeezing the wages of workers until the labor force resembles a nation of serfs — if this isn’t class war, what is?

It’s un-American. It’s unpatriotic. And it’s wrong.

But I don’t need to tell you this. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t know it. Your presence at this gathering confirms that while an America with liberty and justice for all is a broken promise, it is not a lost cause. Once upon a time I thought the mass media — my industry — would help mend this broken promise and save this cause. After all, the sight of police dogs attacking peaceful demonstrators forced America to recognize the reality of racial injustice. The sight of carnage in Vietnam forced us to recognize the war was unwinnable. The sight of terrorists striking the World Trade Center woke us from a long slumber of denial and distraction. I thought the mass media might awaken Americans to the reality that this ideology of winner-take-all is working against them and not for them. I was wrong. With honorable exceptions, we can’t count on the mass media. What we need is a mass movement of people like you. Get mad, yes — there’s plenty to be mad about. Then get organized and get busy. This is the fight of our lives.

“And the world yawns.” —

When Nicholas Kristof isn’t trying to placate conservatives and concentrates on his reporting from Africa, he is at his best. For months he has been making an urgent case for US intervention to stop the genocide in Sudan (see here, here, here, and here, for examples). (You might also want to see this Mother Jones story, not by Kristof, for additional background). Coincidentally, I am currently reading Samantha Power’s A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, and just finished the lengthy section on the tireless work of Raphael Lemkin to officially coin the word “genocide” and then create an international law banning it. One sadly foreseeable outcome of his effort is that governments now spend precious months studying situations and looking for ways to avoid using the word “genocide,” for under Lemkin’s law, declaring genocide obligates intervention. The lowest, darkest period of the Clinton administration was its deliberate refusal to call the Rwandan Hutu slaughter of the Tutsi minority genocide, and worse, their obstruction of UN efforts to intervene (see We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families for more disappointing revelations about the tactics of then-President Clinton and Madeline Albright during this holocaust). If Bush Co acts quickly on Sudan, it would actually mark a high point for this administration — and a departure from a long, shameful national and international tradition.

Anyway, here is Kristof’s current NYT piece. And here is an opportunity to take action.


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