Monday, March 21, 2005


"It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live."

- Marcus Aurelius


There are some things that make me profoundly sad.
This is one of them.

Ted Honderich: The Principle of Humanity

Ted Honderich: The Principle of Humanity

I've been reading a book on free will and determinism by Ted Honderich. A fascinating philosopher, Honderich speaks of the series of causal lines which create our life narratives. I've been thinking about one particular point he made. He says that your own inner world, it can be argued, is no less "real" than the perceived part of the physical world. If the latter is not to be made into "mysterious stuff in the head" by its dependence on PERSONS generally, then why should your world of perceptual consciousness be degraded into such stuff by its dependency upon YOU?

While it seems that some people are "living in their own head", it's far too easy to consider them anti-social eccentrics (some call them 'geeks'). Think about the wisdom they could impart, by their (admitted) hyper-dependence upon their own neural system versus reliance upon persons, generally. Who are we to judge which is of more value - to that individual and what could be of value to the physical world by that person's very neural existence?

Since I cannot send you the entirety of his rather complex book "How Free Are You?", I thought I would share an online paper of Professor Honderich's, which is a politics-related philosophy. In it, he provides us with 10 observations about familiar principles, rules, maxims, and propositions mentioning equality, of which he says are reflective of "ordinary enlightened convictions and feelings."

He says:
The fundamental question to which liberalism, conservatism and other such things give answers - or should give answers - and arguments for the answers, is sometimes called the question of justice. It is the question not of what laws there are, but of what laws there ought to be, how societies ought to be. Better, it is the question of who ought to have what.
An answer needs first to decide on a prior question. Of what ought who to have what shares or amounts? My answers are given in this paper.

The first, to the prior question, has to do with our great desires, and the wretchedness or other distress of having them unfulfilled. Other answers have to do with bad answers to the main question, and then the right one. Morality has a majesty. Despite ourselves, and yet to ourselves, it stands over the rest of our existence, in particular over our self-interest in its various forms.

To my mind it is the Principle of Humanity above all that has that majesty.

Happy reading, should you decide to take the dive into Honderich's world of ideas.


Other recent references from the reality-based philosopher:
Counterpunch- On Being Persona Non Grata

The Need for a New Disrespect:
"Murdoch of The Sun in England [and FOX News] has a thousand or ten thousand times greater control over the alternatives scheduled for debate and decision in a national election than you do. He is about that much more free to get what he wants for himself and the people with whom he identifies. You can safely say that they, some millions of them, are at least 100 times freer than the rest of us."

Iraq - The 2nd Anniversary from Azania's View

Iraq - The 2nd Anniversary from Azania's View

Helioith has a downloadable MP3 of a radio broadcast by Azania Al-Shabazz, a 6th grader at Crossroads Middle School in Harlem, New York. As part of the Radio Roots series, this particular segment deals with the child's own thoughts and the thoughts of his community members about the war in Iraq and its affect upon the community.

Archy's Liberal Coalition Blogsketches

Archy's Liberal Coalition Blogsketches

Hmmmm- just what does an Iddybud and a Scrutiny Hooligan look like?
Check out some of John's groovy blogger-sketches.

Stribley on Quashie

- from the O.J.Simpson Coloring and Activity book, downloadable here.

Stribley on Quashie

At Hitched to Everything, Robert Stribley talks about meeting artists Colin Quashie and Colbert Mashile at Charlotte's McColl Center for Visual Art.

Your Vote: Worthless in the Eyes of Media

Your Vote:
Worthless in the
Eyes of Media

Judging from the lack of news media coverage, you probably haven't heard about today's House Committee hearing

"There's reason to suspect that our 2004 election was stolen."

That's a strong accusation. Daring to utter such a statement has gained citizens little more than a label of "paranoid conspiracy theorist". The news media has shied away from talking about it, apparently afraid to be seen as "liberal media" and having a massive advertising-boycott campaign mounted against them by right-wing activists.

In January, Senator Barbara Boxer (D CA) stood up to vote against the certification of the Ohio Electors. In the House, Republican Representatives accused her of aiding terrorism and betraying our troops in Iraq.

Recent developments will show you that this is not a matter which revolves around delusion, nor does it indicate antiAmericanism.

A House Administration Committee field hearing will be held today in Columbus, Ohio. You can access information about it online: "Committee to Continue Oversight on Election Reform with a Field Hearing in Ohio on Monday."

The committee is chaired by Rep. Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio. I have my doubts about the progress that will be made by this committee, having already read Rep. Ney's comments about the 2004 election:
Despite the formidable challenges faced by election administrators and notwithstanding the predictions of the skeptics, the 2004 election was a tremendous success and there is growing evidence that this was due in large part to the bipartisan Help America Vote Act. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the rumors of the demise of the American election system were greatly exaggerated and those who still continue to insist otherwise are not only wrong on the facts, but their baseless criticisms are a disservice to the thousands of state and local election workers who did a very good job.."

There are currently TWO (2) stories about the Congressional field hearing available on Google search.

It would appear, if you look at the media coverage, that no one cares about the integrity of our electoral process. Yet, I know that is not true. In an Annenberg poll taken on election eve, only 62% of voters felt that they could trust the integrity of the process. (*And voters committed to Bush were far more confident).

When - and why - did news-reporting about the fight for the right to vote leave the forefront?

At Daily Kos, a diarist named 'Freedom' has said that all the problems we see in America and the world today will mean "NOTHING if, come next election, the people are not given the means to exercise their right to vote."

At the Common Ills blog, there is disappointment and frustration at the lack of media and blog coverage. They report that was one of the only online information outlets that cited the hearing in an Associated Press story in yesterday's New York Times ("Counting of 2004 Provisional Ballots Varied Widely, Study Finds").

I think it's high time we started talking about this. We need to pressure the news media to talk about it as if it means something - because it means everything.

As it just so happens, the front pages of most of today's newspapers are slathered with heartstring-twanging news about Terry Schiavo and the fight to save what little life she has left in her. Meanwhile, the life of our democracy is nearly as fragile and brain-dead as Mrs. Schiavo. I cannot help but think this is a very convenient way for the mainstream news editors to avoid giving too loud of a voice on news that is material to our most important right as citizens - the right for our voice to be heard through our vote in elections we can trust.

The media's negligence allows people like Ohio's Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell to virtually thumb his nose at concerned citizens. In the recent past, Blackwell
- has refused to be deposed about the Ohio election,
- has refused to appear before Congress ( Lawmakers were frustrated with Blackwell when he did not attend a Feb. 9 hearing in Washington, especially when they discovered that he was in the area that day)
- has refused to answer questions from members of the House Judiciary Committee who have been investigating allegations of election fraud.

Even today, Blackwell is expected to defend Ohio's electoral process and try to slink away with nothing more than a simple accusation of partisanship.
From the Beacon Journal:

A report prepared by the Democratic staff of the House Judiciary Committee accused Ohio election officials of disenfranchising minority and Democratic voters by misallocating voting machines in their districts and restricting the use of provisional ballots. Blackwell's order that registrations must be on a certain weight of paper also drew fire in the staff report.

Blackwell has denied the staff's allegations.

"It was a stunning and disgraceful display demonstrating that there are those in Congress who are very willing to cast aside the Constitution and the lawfully certified vote of the people to wage a nasty and disingenuous partisan attack," Blackwell said in his testimony.

Political writer Christopher Hitchens has a new article in Vanity Fair entitled "Ohio's Odd Numbers." The lead-in states
"No conspiracy theorist, and no fan of John Kerry's, the author nevertheless found the Ohio polling results impossible to swallow: Given what happened in that key state on Election Day 2004, both democracy and common sense cry out for a court-ordered inspection of its new voting machines."
Hitchens forwards the belief that the thinking-caps Democrats have been wearing are not composed of "tin foil":
"..there is one soothing explanation that I don’t trust anymore. It was often said, in reply to charges of vote tampering, that it would have had to be “a conspiracy so immense” as to involve a dangerously large number of people. Indeed, some Ohio Democrats themselves laughed off some of the charges, saying that they too would have had to have been part of the plan. The stakes here are very high: one defector or turncoat with hard evidence could send the principals to jail forever and permanently discredit the party that had engaged in fraud.

I had the chance to spend quality time with someone who came to me well recommended, who did not believe that fraud had yet actually been demonstrated, whose background was in the manufacture of the machines, and who wanted to be anonymous. It certainly could be done, she said, and only a very, very few people would have to be “in on it.”

Some additional background information and news:

Twenty three House members have endorsed a vote-tabulation devistiture campaign known as the Velvet Revolution. The House members signed on to Waters/Conyers' letter to voting machine companies, which have been given until April 15th to reply. Members vow to withhold HAVA funding from companies who do not comply with standards set forth in the campaign. Click here for list of signers, the full letter to the voting companies, and a letter to VR from John Conyers. Brad Friedman, founder of the campaign, says that he expects to gain support from some "big names" in the Senate.

Last week, David Cobb, who was the presidential candidate for the Green party, sent a letter to the voting machine companies of America, formally endorsing the Velvet Revolution's campaign. Mr. Cobb's attorneys, along with Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, have jointly requested a Ohio election recount. The case is still pending in the Eastern Division of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, before Judge Sargus.

John Kerry and John Edwards, through their Ohio attorney, have filed a one sentence statement with the Judge which supports the Cobb and Badnarik position. John Kerry's attorney has also filed a short, two page summary charting inconsistencies observed by Democratic Party witnesses to the recount.

Additional information about the recount and the entire 102 page report by the House Judiciary Committee's Democratic staff can be found at

When four attorneys in Ohio sued that state to discover details of how voting was conducted in that state, they report they were slapped with a massive and expensive lawsuit engineered by Ohio's Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell (also co-chair of the Ohio Bush For President campaign) and Ohio Attorney General, Republican Jim Petro. The Ohio lawyer/activists have launched a legal defense fund (information available at to help them fight both for an exposé of Ohio irregularities and to defend themselves against this attack by the Republican officials who control the voting systems in that state.

There's logic and reason behind the suspicion that our election was hijacked again in 2004

Sometimes it seems like we're living in a world I like to call Bushworld - a topsy-turvy rightwing-heavy universe where everything that truly matters is given the lowest priority. Our elections mean everything to the survival of our republican democracy. The Washington Times has given a big megaphone to Ferrell Blount, Republican North Carolina state chairman, who is whining about John Edwards getting some free "visibility" at Chapel Hill, but stop a moment to listen to their deafening silence about John Edwards' "media-invisiblity" in relation to today's Congressional Committee investigation about the state of the American electoral process.

"There's reason to suspect that our 2004 election was stolen."

This is our trust in the right to vote we're talking about, people.

Our one and only vote.

Pay attention to what's happening today in Columbus, Ohio.

- Jude