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Anno Dom' (The War on Terror) [R]


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O God, O God, O God,

get your blessed head out of the clouds

and look down here below, or else

give a final dumb paternal nod

to idiots speaking in Your Name!


Hindus and Muslims share the blame

of birth, brought up outside the empire

of our great cathedrals: here the stamp of grandeur

establishes holiness, in a place where shame

is thrown upon women, upon the weak,


and with contempt: the dark thick mud of centuries,

the long long generations of living in darkness.

Suddenly, O, such soaring music!


We are told to turn the other cheek

but never do. We engage in warfare,

unceasingly, with better and better weapons,

pretend all the while we are mild and meek,

kill people in their thousands.


Not Christians. No, no, given up on that:

now it's them dark and foreign fuckers.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Powerful message. And the tone is appropriate.


God doesn't take lightly religious hypocrisy. Israel paid twice over this. Jerusalem was destroyed, first by Babylonians, then by the Romans, with God's permission. So says the holy book.

"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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There's more to it than meets the eye, and that's precisely why I look with disdain upon organized religions. They are but instrumentalities of nefarious political interests. For example, in America, "churches" are 501[c][3] tax exempt steepled corporations; their leaders are muzzled, and they preach the word of God according to the government's rules ... or risk losing their corporate standing and other benefits! I'm not saying they don't do good deeds, but so do other charitable organizations. So, what is there to differentiate the "churches" from other government approved charities? Nothing. "Where two or more are gathered in my name" there where religion is suppressed and believers are persecuted is where the rubber meets the road. This may sound harsh, but I hold "churches," especially in places where liberty still exists on paper, to a higher standard.



Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Hi again,


I think there's a very close parallel between churches, or any kind of dodgy religious institution, and laws governing pornography. What I mean by this is where do you draw the line? Separation of Church and State, in its original sense, is one of the best things the American Constitution ever came up with: like every constitutional right (not a concession grudgingly allowed, but a right that goes along with citizenship) the Homeland Security thing is trying to take it away. As a citizen


1. You have a right to a passport and freedom to travel: the government may issue but cannot withhold a passport!

2. You have a right to free association, at home and abroad

3. You have a right to free expression, no matter what the FBI, your boss and the neighbours say

4. You have the right of habeas corpus, in case of arrest, and a free and open trial by your peers


These are not little perks, little favours to be given and taken away by local or national authorities; simply being born in America, a fat squalling little baby, ensures you of these rights.


Like everything else that matters, hang on to them and never abuse them.


In some ways, life in Ireland can be more free than that of the USA. We have all of the above laws, and even tighter laws about keeping your home and property; we have no restrictions on our passports (check out the countries you are not allowed to visit, starting with Cuba); and we don't have to carry any kind of personal ID. If the cops stop you as you're weaving home from the pub you can tell them your name is Mickey Mouse and you live in an igloo and there's not a damn thing they can do ... unless you take a swing at them. But we don't have an effective Army or Air Force, so we're kind of depending on the fact that nobody really wants to invade and take us over!


Take care, pal


Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is one that is often misunderstood. The clause says that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ... [emphasis mine]" Without getting into a discussion about censorship, I will say that the clause does not forbid local people from setting up a nativity display in the town square or establishing community standards for obscenity. From there is where the ambiguities and controversies centered around pornography and religion have usually arisen. Those who favor "anything goes" when it comes to obscenity point to the prohibition laid out for Congress in the Constitution. Interestingly, those champions of free speech (when it comes to obscenity) usually point to the same clause when they want to restrict speech ... when it comes to religion.


As for Cuba, I'm not sure, but I don't think travel to there is forbidden. If I remember correctly, it's restricted in the sense that the US does not have a consulate there, and the State Department cautions people not to look to it for help if there is a problem while vacationing there. I think doing business with Cuba might be illegal for Americans. But don't rely on what I've typed here about Americans and matters of Cuba. I don't really know. That's just what I want to believe.


Yes, in America, citizenship is a birthright, but I will make a fine point about the rights that come along with it which we as Americans can choose to exercise. Our constitutional rights are God-given natural rights that the framers of our Constitution just happened to enumerate in that document, the supreme law of the land. They are not government given rights that can be bestowed and taken away. They exist anywhere and everywhere.


Two of the most important rights enumerated in our Constitution are the right to keep and bear arms and the right to a trial by jury. Without the right of we as individuals to keep and bear arms, we can talk all day about rights but would have nothing to back it up. The provision in the Constitution that guarantees this right, the second amendment, guarantees all the rest. It wasn't put in there by the framers to guarantee the right to hunt; it was placed there as a safeguard against tyranny, as the right to rebellion.


The right to a trial by jury is the second safeguard against tyranny. If idiots in the legislature make an unconstitutional or otherwise unjust law, the people can peaceably render that law ineffective. How? With jury nullification. For example, if Brendan is hauled in to court for wearing blue on Monday, and I am on jury and presented with the evidence (pictures of Brendan in a blue shirt), I, as a juror and one of Brendan's peers, will vote "not guilty," and Brendan will go home and not to jail for violating the unjust law. When this keeps happening, over and over, the government becomes frustrated and ceases to prosecute people for the "offenses" even if the laws remain on the books. This is precisely what happened with laws during prohibition. The bad laws became effectively nullified.


Government and the legal establishment routinely try to conceal jurors' powers from them. They tell jurors that they must render a verdict based solely upon the facts of a case as presented to them by the court, that the way the jurors feel about the law doesn't matter. These judges and other lawyers are lying. The juror can and should vote his conscience. The juror has the raw power to vote not guilty, and there's nothing the judge or anybody else can do to change that verdict. Judges can change guilty verdicts to not guilty to thwart an injustice, but never the other way around. Jurors are not there to rubber-stamp whatever the government decides. If jurors were not able ("allowed") to vote their consciences, we would have a trial-by-government and not a trial by jury.


But this all presumes that the people are moral. I don't advocate using jury nullification to allow perpetrators of violent crimes to go free. Pundits will point to the O.J. Simpson case and criticize the jury system. But what happened there is far less likely to happen compared to the amount of people who are convicted of victimless "crimes" every day. But even in cases of violent crime, if there is reasonable doubt, I subscribe to the notion that it's better to let ten guilty people go free than to convict one innocent one.






Some Quotes from the Founders



If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom — go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen! --Samuel Adams



Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. --Samuel Adams



It is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights ... If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave. --Samuel Adams



The tree of Liberty needs to be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. --Thomas Jefferson



All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. --Thomas Jefferson



Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government. --Thomas Jefferson



Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies. --Thomas Jefferson



I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind. --Thomas Jefferson



Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state. --Thomas Jefferson



Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories. --Thomas Jefferson



Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny. --Thomas Jefferson


He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money. --Ben Franklin



We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. [emphasis mine] --John Adams

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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An additional point: in America, there is no ID requirement. Police can demand driver's licenses, and operators of motor vehicles may be required to produce them upon proper demand, but no one can be forced to obtain a license or any kind of government issued document for identification purposes. Though it may be illegal to lie to the police, when a police officer asks a pedestrian for an ID, the pedestrian can refuse to provide one (perhaps he doesn't even have one on his person) or even remain mute! There's a movement to make driver's licenses a sort of defacto national ID (since they're so widely used -- almost everyone has one) but there is no requirement. I know quite a few people who have no license or any other kind of ID. I resist all national ID schemes; they are anti-liberty. (Your papers, please!)

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Aha ... I have pushed a sensitive button, Tony! It happens to be my button, too. Liberty is not something afforded by the State (grudgingly and in small doses) but a birthright. Unfortunately most of the history of the world, and particularly in the 20th century, ran counter to this view with the unabashed exercise of totalitarian powers. The central essential component of any free country is the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. Any country on the planet today that does not have an independent judiciary is essentially ruled by political expedience.


America, in many ways, shone a light of liberty in the 18th century ... a challenge to the hierarchical structures of Old Europe, which were still based on monarchical principles with (in England, anyway) some adjustments. Britain discovered in the interwar period and dramatically after 1945 that it was not possible to maintain a constitutional republic (in all but name, the monarchy having been firmly but politely sidelined) while trying to run an empire overseas. With much pain and lingering nostalgia, it chose to divest itself of empire in order to bolster democracy at home. Much was lost in terms of prestige and glory -- not to mention hypocrisy -- but the integrity of the nation was preserved.


I think America is facing the same impasse today and doesn't know how to handle it. As 9/11 and its aftermath have shown, there is great confusion and bitterness in the country, and the federal government has become more and more intrusive. While maintaining the rhetoric of republican values, it seems to be drifting closer and closer to the military expedient of control which is a feature of imperial rule.


Americans (notoriously monolingual and not big on travel) seem to be sinking into the resentful belief that the whole world hates them ... after all we've done for you ungrateful bastards! The firestorm of hatred against the French, for example, doesn't make much objective sense. The French are behaving pretty much as they always do, pissing off everyone, including their European neighbours. I don't think it's true that people hate America, not in the non-Islamic world, anyway. What we want is more cooperation and less unilateral leadership from governments, it has to be said, who don't seem to understand what is actually going on outside their own country and their spheres of wishful thinking.


I grew up during the Vietnam War when everything America did, viewed from Europe, was bad. Then I went to college in America -- Texas, of all places -- and I loved it. I thought it was great; it was so free! So I still have this good impression of Americans in America. Once you put them in uniform and send them overseas something strange seems to happen. I can even see it here in Japan, even the ones without uniforms. Everything local is crap and there's only one way to do things, and that's the American way. These attitudes may be honestly and naively believed but they don't go down very well.


This is becoming an essay. It could easily go on for a further 2-3 pages. It's supposed to be a comment on a comment on a poem. I'm always ready for the resumption of an interesting discussion, but maybe this is not the place for it.


All the best,


Edited by dedalus

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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O God, O God, O God,

get your blessed head out of the clouds

and look down here below, or else

give a final dumb paternal nod

to idiots speaking in Your Name!


Wonderful opening for a poem, Bren. I loved how this poem reads from the beginning to the end.

I would say that the world has turned into something that God didn't intend. But unfortunately, I think that has to do with the nature of mankind itself.


Your poem presents very truthful points and facts, as always. You are a very direct writer without any strand of hair on your tongue (expression of ours, for a an orator :) ). And I love that in you.

I will put R in the title just to keep in line with the rules.


About the end, I would say it's very powerful with a bit of controlled anger

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia



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