Thursday, March 18, 2010

With Their Lips …1

(OR Why it is TIME to abandon the Republican/conservative “read my lips” allegiance)

Note: This is not a back-hand endorsement of liberals or Democrats. They have their own endangering (and often similar) failures. Rather, this is a voice of warning concerning those who present themselves as the last-gasp “saviors” and “guardians” of liberty and the American Constitution. Their rhetoric is full of “freedoms” and “values,” but by their actions, they repeatedly violate those very freedoms and values. Consider:

With their lips—they claim grounding in rational economic and Constitutional truths, but manifest a reflexive, emotional devotion to words over realities, seemingly unable to acknowledge the colossal inconsistencies between their words and their deeds.2

With their lips—they espouse the virtues of small government and fiscal conservatism, yet preside over massive government growth and ballooning debts and deficits.3

With their lips—they claim the moral high ground and divine endorsement, yet espouse and implement policies that foster and sustain economic darwinism (survival/enrichment of the richest and most powerful).4

With their lips—they ennoble the sacrifices of the military, yet denigrate the service and opinion of soldiers, veterans, or family members who oppose war or criticize the conduct of war.5

With their lips—they denounce central, planned economies, yet cater to the centralized, planned economies of multinationals and bow to the “invisible [deterministic] hand” of (fictitious) free-markets and -trade;6

With their lips—they venerate justice and equity, but preside over egregious injustices in pursuit of American and business hegemony.7

With their lips—they scorn the follies and corruptions of their opponents, yet turn a blind eye to their own.”8

With their lips—they advocate the rule of law, yet justify “executive” powers that enshrine the “opinioned” rule of presidents.9

With their lips—they claim to be defenders and promulgators of freedom, human dignity, and the Constitution, yet foment uprisings against democratically elected governments in foreign countries that do not bow to the Washington Consensus; sanction torture and assassination; suspend habeas corpus; deliberately deceive citizens and “uncooperative” officials; turn a blind eye to human rights violations in favored nations; foster the aggregation of power and wealth to the detriment of individual citizens, etc.10

With their lips—they denounce extremists, yet wildly applaud Barry Goldwater’s infamous “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”; and champion the bombing of enemies to manifest toughness.11

With their lips—they advocate free-markets, yet subsidize big-business; bailout corporations; award no-bid contracts; cater to lobbyists; legislate private agendas; sell off public assets; etc.12

With their lips—they claim to speak truth, yet continually neglect/refuse to fact-check or correct themselves.13

With their lips—they advocate individualism, yet favor private corporate collectives and reward compliance to authoritarianism.14

With their lips—they denigrate government, yet spend their private fortunes in pursuit of its power, privileges, employment, and (where politically possible) earmarks.15

With their lips—they speak of moral and family values, yet pursue pro-war agendas that tear families apart, exacerbate moral decay, and shatter minds, hearts, and bodies.16

With their lips—they claim to honor free speech and democratic values, yet vilify voices that question their ideology, “facts,” opinions, worldview, etc., especially attacking journalists, professors, researchers, historians, dissenters, anti-war advocates, scientists, philosophers; in fine, anyone who does not “see” as they do.17

Note: I do not concur with all that is claimed in the recommended reviews (RR) below, but there is much to consider, reconsider, and research in going beyond the “speed-of-knee-jerk” rejection characteristic of too many right and left ideologues. Both right and left have positives, but both have become enmeshed in the negatives of money, power, and ideology. Thus, we are increasingly presented with two unacceptable alternatives. But, the reason I find the right even more dangerous than the left, is their increasing abandonment of honor and justice as they pursue and justify the extremes of “individualism,” nationalism, and the primacy of the market-place.

1. “With their lips do honor democratic principles, but their actions are far from it.” Variation on a theme: Old Testament: Isaiah 29:13; New Testament: Matt. 15:8; Mark 7:6; Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 27:25
2. RR: Conservatives Without Conscience by John W. Dean; The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism by Andrew J. Bacevich; hyprocrisy segments on The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC)
3. RR: ; ; ; ; The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too by James K. Galbraith; Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy by Will Bunch; government statistics of relevant periods
4. RR: Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill) by David Cay Johnston
5. Remember: John McCain 2000; Max Clelland 2002, John Kerry 2004, “Swiftboating” tactics; Pay attention to how they profile veterans or family members who oppose war
6. RR: The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan; One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism by William Greider; The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy by William Greider
7. RR: Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer; Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy by Noam Chomsky; Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic by Chalmers Johnson; Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins
8. That is, all liberals are evil, but errant conservatives are an infrequent aberration—“a ‘few bad apples’ in a gigantic barrel of goodness.” Observe political discourse; review ; check in on occasion with The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC)—hyprocisy watch; suspend emotion in order to assess facts
9. Aka: government by legal memo; Also read John Yoo, et al.
10. RR: The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Ruined Government, Enriched Themselves, and Beggared the Nation by Thomas Frank; Torture Team: Uncovering War Crimes in the Land of the Free by Philippe Sands; see also RR at #7
11. 1964 speech: ; other Republican Conventions: 1984, ; 2000 or 2004
12. RR: see RR at # 4 & 6
13. Listen to both conservative and liberal newscasts. Reference
14. RR: see Johnston at #4; and Dean at #2
15. Listen to faux-rogue candidates from McCain/Palin past Romney to Reagan; observe the realities of politicians in power
16. See Republican Convention 2004, 2008; observe the “tough on terrorists/extremists” talk by GOPs such as Sarah Palin ( ) and the repeated accusations of liberal softness—of liberal wimps. Do they forget that republican Reagan actually talked to Gorbachev of the “evil empire”? Do they forget that Democrats have taken America into more wars than Republicans? Not an accolade for either side! The tendency to romanticize war is a national shame. We can be grateful for the sacrifices of service men and women and their families, but do not pretend that war is not attended by moral degeneracy and terrible, lifelong consequences. Also see
17. Observe political discourse; pundits commentators, etc.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Clever Decoy—a Fearful Deception

(Excerpt from “Three Degrees of Righteousness from the Old Testament,” speech by Hugh Nibley, November 1982)

At the dedication of the Manti Temple [site, April 25, 1877], the Prophet Brigham Young offered this prayer: "We ask Thee that Thou would hide up the treasures of the earth, . . . preserve thy people from the inducements which these perishable things offer, which are liable to decoy the minds of Thy saints." We don't want to discover the gold around here, he insisted, and this just after George Albert Smith had reported discovery of a great gold vein. "And cause that these things may not come in their path to tempt them." The wealth of the earth is a clever decoy;52 "it is a fearful deception which all the world labors under, and many of its people, too." 53

This is one of the last speeches Brigham Young gave: "Many professing to be saints seem to have no knowledge, no light to see anything beyond a dollar or a pleasant time, or a comfortable house, or a fine farm." These have their place, but what do we enjoy? "O fools, and slow of heart to understand the purposes of God and his handiwork among his people."54

Go to the child, and what does its joy consist in? Toys, we may call them, . . . and so it is with our youth, our young boys and girls; they are thinking too much of this world; and the middle-aged are striving and struggling to obtain the good things of this life, and their hearts are too much upon them. So it is with the aged. Is not this the condition of the Latter-day Saints? It is. What is the general expression through out our community? It is that the Latter-day Saints are drifting as fast as they can into idolatry.55

This was all Brigham Young could preach in his last year: "fast into idolatry, drifting into the spirit of the world and into pride and vanity."56 "We wish the wealth of things of the world; we think about them morning, noon and night; they are first in our minds when we awake in the morning, and the last thing before we go to sleep at night."57 "We have gone just as far as we can be permitted to go in the road on which we are now traveling. One man has his eye on a gold mine, another is for a silver mine, another is for marketing his flour or his wheat, another for selling his cattle, another to raise cattle, another to get a farm, or building here and there, and trading and trafficking with each other, just like Babylon. . . . Babylon is here, and we are following in the footsteps of the inhabitants of the earth, who are in a perfect sea of confusion. Do you know this? You ought to, for there are none of you but what see it daily. . . . The Latter-day Saints [are] trying to take advantage of their brethren. There are Elders in this Church who would take the widow's last cow, for five dollars, and then kneel down and thank God for the fine bargain they had made."58 This is the great voice of the economy of Babylon. It does not renounce its religious pretensions for a minute. Many in it think they are identical with a pious life.

Now to Brigham's final word—his last speech, as a matter of fact:

"Now those that can see the spiritual atmosphere can see that many of the Saints are still glued to this earth and lusting and longing after the things of this world, in which there is no profit. . . . According to the present feelings of many of our brethren, they would arrogate to themselves this world and all that pertains to it. . . . Where are the eyes and the hearts of this people? . . . All the angels in heaven are looking at this little handfull of people, and stimulating them to the salvation of the human family. So also are the devils in hell looking at this people, too, and trying to overthrow us, and the people are still shaking hands with the servants of the devil, instead of sanctifying themselves, [given a choice between the two]."59

We are being pulled in two directions, he says; all the powers of heaven are looking to us, waiting for us to perform our mission; the devils are looking at us to fail in it, and we are shaking hands with them, instead of the other way around. "When I think upon this subject, I want the tongues of seven thunders to wake up the people."60

We see clearly the three economies. There is such a thing as a celestial economy. After all, Mormons believe in cosmism. Some churches still say that the greatest vice of the Mormons is that they look upon the physical universe as having some relationship to the gospel. We say it's all physical—there are universes we know nothing about; there is matter of a nature that we can't perceive at all. It's all real—what's on the other side of the black holes, or wherever it may be. This is part of the celestial order, and we have been given the great honor. The Lord has flattered us to the point of revealing to us this particular order. This is what has worked in ancient times, he explains. In the time of Adam I did it; in the time of Noah I had it. In the time of Moses I tried to introduce the people, but they wouldn't take it. In the time of apostles, I restored it. The Nephites had it for two hundred years, and you could have it too. I want you to have it. It's the only thing I will accept from you. And meanwhile, you will live by these rules and work your way toward it, but for heaven's sake, don't let yourself be decoyed and sucked into this third order, which becomes dominant. This picture of Babylon is so very striking, it's overpowering. It meets us everywhere. Today's newspaper is like a commentary on the whole scriptures. You could find in it a hundred items that are completely relevant on this subject, which makes us wonder how far along the way we are, and what the Lord is doing in these things otherwise.

Brigham, the greatest and certainly the most able economist and administrator and businessman this nation has ever seen, didn't give a hoot for earthly things: "I have never walked across the streets to make a trade."61 He didn't mean that literally. You always do have to handle things. But in what spirit do we do it? Not in the Krishna way, by renunciation, for example. I have never visited Calcutta, but the reports are utterly heartbreaking. If you refuse to be concerned with these things at all, and say, "I'm above all that," that's as great a fault. The things of the world have got to be administered; they must be taken care of, they are to be considered. We have to keep things clean, and in order. That's required of us. This is a test by which we are being proven. [Emphasis added.] This is the way by which we prepare, always showing that these things will never captivate our hearts, that they will never become our principal concern. That takes a bit of doing, and that is why we have the formula "with an eye single to his glory" (Mormon 8:15). Keep first your eye on the star, then on all the other considerations of the ship. You will have all sorts of problems on the ship, but unless you steer by the star, forget the ship. Sink it. You won't go anywhere.

This is the important thing: we must keep our eye on the principles of the gospel that have been given us. The Lord has given us great blessings in these things, and great promises; and because the spirit of the Lord is stirring in the church today, I am sure we all feel it in various ways. The interesting thing is how we all operate in different areas. I don't suspect for a minute either the burdens, or the trials, or the troubles, or the privileges of the capacities of any other person in the world. I am sure that if I were to start to analyze and describe them, I would be completely wrong, so I just forget it. Here we are, all relating to our Heavenly Father, and as such, related to each other as brothers and sisters. He's the one we go to; he's the one we keep in mind. So we are not concerned to lay down the law to each other, saying, "This is the way you have to do it. That is the kosher way." Let us each go to the Lord, who will reveal these things to us. May he inspire each one of us with understanding and the good sense and the faith and devotion that we need in order to live by the laws of the kingdom, …. [end of quote.]

(Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 333-7.)

JD=Journal of Discourses
MS=Millenial Star

52. MS 39:372.[See # 24, June 11, 1877: "Prayer offered by President Brigham Young"]
53. JD 10:271.
54. Ibid., 8:63.
55. Ibid., 18:237, 39.
56. Ibid., 18:239.
57. Ibid., 18:238-39.
58. Ibid., 17:41.
59. MS 39:118-19. [See #8, Feb. 19, 1877: "Dedicatory Services at the Temple of St. George, Utah Territory, Jan. 1, 1877"]
60. Ibid., 39:119.
61. JD 12:219.