Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fragile Hope

The President, and collectively, the House of Representatives and the Senate, have failed in their duty to uphold the Constitution. They now have a law - specific horrors as outlined in the NYT editorial are given below - that violates the Constitution in two significant ways.

First, it takes away our liberties.
Second, it undermines the system of checks and balances, by giving the President an unchecked power, unchallengeable in the courts.

There are two slender reasons for hope. They are extremely fragile, but they are all that are left.

First, the electorate may speak this November, and entirely redo the Congress; and the Congress will, on reconvening, rework this law. However, it is unlikely that the majority of the electorate will exhibit any such wisdom. The discontent they have exhibited in opinion polls so far is that of cattle in a cattle car that has jumped the tracks. They are not sure of the competence of the driver. But they have no discomfort with where the train was headed. Second, even if the Congress changes hands, it is not clear that the Democrats will try to change this law.

The second hope, slender in the extreme too, is that the Supreme Court will throw out this law.

Clutching at straws, I am really.

Here is what the NYT editors have to say:

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.


Some of the Senators have spoken well about why this law is so bad.

Monday, September 25, 2006

KO scores a KO

I think, like Mike Lupica, quoted in a post below, Keith Olbermann began as a sports commentator.
Very clearly, this kind is not afraid of speaking their mind.
We can only cheer!

Transcript and video

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Via, sports writers see the need for a change in President.

There is a steroids scandal in baseball. Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams of the San Francisco Chronicle helped break the story. They're headed to jail because they won't reveal the names of the person or persons the government says leaked them federal grand jury testimony. Bush is against a federal shield law for reporters.

Mike Lupica reminds us of Ted Olsen's words:

" "One of the most vital functions of our free and independent press is to function as a watchdog, working to uncover stories that would otherwise go untold. Journalists in pursuit of such stories often must obtain information from individuals who, for fear of retribution or retaliation, are unwilling to be publicly identified."

He writes:

"A federal shield law was originally proposed by Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a Democrat, and Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana. Specter got into this earlier this year, with modifications that specifically exclude shield rights in cases dealing with national security or terrorism.

Only in the current political climate is no distinction drawn between a pusher of steroids like Greg Anderson, Bonds' former trainer, and reporters out to tell the truth about people like Anderson. And like Bonds.

Fainaru-Wada and Williams were not threats to national security, just to some drug cheats in baseball. The idea that they must go to jail to protect the rights of those cheats is an outrage.

Sen. Specter has identified the real threat here. It is against a free press. In the America of this President, you need more than a shield law to protect that. You need a new President."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Death of the Republic


"Here is the latest version of the Military Commission Bill, including all of the compromises agreed to by the Administration and Senators McCain, Graham, and Warner. The worst parts begin on p. 81, eliminating the writ of habeas corpus, denying anyone the right to invoke rights guaranteed by Geneva in judicial actions, prohibiting the use of any foreign sources in construing the meaning of the Geneva Conventions, proclaiming that the President is the authoritative source of the meaning of Geneva with respect to the War Crimes statute, amending the War Crimes statute with language that allows the President to continue to engage in torture-lite (after all, he is now the authoritative source of its meaning), and finally, making all these amendments retroactive to November 26th, 1997 (i.e., well before September 11th, 2001. I wonder what led to this particular change?)"

Compact with Evil

Chris Floyd says exactly what I want to say this morning, and so I need not compose it myself.

Some quotes:

"But the demented psychology of this sad little shriveled-up nothing of a man {Bush} is of slight import. What matters are the actions and policies that are being carried out by the junta operating in his name – and the countenancing of this gang's crimes by the United States Congress. And that is what we have seen today: the countenancing of torture and kangaroo courts by some sad sacks of shinola lauded by the media as "men of principle." This is what we've come to, this is where are today: sick bastards and cynical bastards openly and eagerly gutting the very core of American law."

"And let us make one other point – and in a most impolitic way, for the truth is often an impolitic commodity: John McCain is a goddamned liar. Yes, he himself suffered torture, yes he came through it, yes, we all admire his fortitude during that ordeal in his youth: but his record in later life, in politics, is that of a moral coward with good PR skills. (Not that it takes much skill to wow the poltroons who squat on the commanding heights of the corporate media world today.) And today, he has opened his mouth and emitted a damnable lie, to wit: "the integrity and letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved.”

"And let's put this other point plainly one more time: the American government has always been able to capture, detain, question and try terrorists. Always. The American government has for 28 years had the power to eavesdrop on anyone in the world or in the country whom they suspected even slightly of terrorism or terrorist connections. And they could and can do that instantly, without waiting for a court order or jumping through any bureaucratic hoops, under the long-existing law. Everything that Bush says his clearly illegal surveillance programs do can already be done within the law. Therefore, it is clear that the whole raison d'être behind the illegal programs is to establish the principle that the president is beyond the law. (And also, almost certainly, to perform illegal surveillance that has nothing to do with terrorism.)

"What we have seen today is no "grand compromise," no "great debate," no "act of principle" and certainly no "preservation" of the Geneva Conventions. What we have seen instead is a small group of rich, cynical, power-hungry old bastards belch forth lies in the service of torture and tyranny. And if you're not angry about that, if you're not "shrill" about that, then by God you are one piss-poor American citizen. You shame every man and woman who have fought and died and marched and worked and dreamed for our freedom."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Truth is more important than partisanship

Half a dozen tries after trying to respond on itself and failing - maybe it doesn't like long comments?
here are some facts about whether the Landrieu amendment was for body armor or not.
See for the context.

The Congressional Record, March 20, 2003, shows how Sen. Landrieu wanted the $1 billion allocated.  No body armor.  Mediamatters may have a case with the later Dodd amendment.  But is right on the Landrieu amendment.  Here is specifically what she asked the Senate to vote for; what press releases say doesn't compare to the very specific stuff she told the Senate.



Air Force Reserve  

WC-130J Radar--Upgrades Reserve Radar to specifications needed by Active forces  

F-16 LITENING II AT Upgrade Modification--Provides Reserve Tactical Fighters with same radar upgrades as active forces; reserve fighters flying same missions  

F-16 LITENING II AT Pod Procurement--Provides Reserve Tactical Fighters with same radar upgrades as active forces; reserve fighters flying same missions  

A-10 TARGETING PODS--Provides Reserve Tactical Fighters with same radar upgrades as active forces; reserve fighters flying same missions  

B-52 TARGETING PODS--Provides Reserve B-52s with same radar upgrades as active B-52s; performing same missions  

TACTICAL RADIOS--Provides radio upgrades for interoperability with active forces  

Land Mobile Radio Infrastructure  


Navy Reserve:  

VAW-78--EC-2 Squadron--Funding Prohibits decommissioning in FY05 of this currently deployed unit  

VFA-203--F/A-18 Squadron--Funding prohibits decommissioning in FY04 of this currently deployed unit  

Littoral Surveillance System--Procures one additional system to upgrade port surveillance by Navy Reserve  

F/A-18 Advanced Targeting FLIR--Procures radars for 5 squadrons to make compatible with Active Navy  

P-3 Aircraft Improvement Program (AIP)--Would upgrade 28 of 42 Reserve P-3s to have same capabilities as Actives; AIP allows P-3s to better operate against surface combatants and improve surveillance and targeting  

P-3 Block Modification Upgrade Program (BMUP)--Brings all Reserve P-3s into compliance with each other, not Actives--gives all Reserve P-3s similar computers and acoustics sensors  

F/A-18 ECP 560 Precision Guided Munitions Upgrade--Provides 1 Reserve F/A Squadron with precision guided munitions similar to Active F-18.  

CBR-D Equipment Storage and Logistics--Funds shortfall of 10,000 bio-chem suits for Navy Reservists  


Army Reserve:  

High Frequency Radios (Interoperability for Special Ops Reservists)  

M-4 Rifles  

M-16 Rifles  

Tactical Electrical Power (5-60KW)TQG  

Tactical Electrical Power (3KW)TQG  

Truck Tractor Line Haul  

Improved Ribbon Bridge  

Truck Cargo PLS 10X10 M1075 (T40999)  

Trailer PLS 8X20 M1075 (T93761)  

Spreader Bituminous Module PLS 2500 Gal. (S13546)  

Mixer Concrete  

Dump Body Module  

Engineer Mission Module Water Distributor  

Airborne/Air Assault Scraper (S30039)  

Distributor Water Self-Propelled 2500 Gal.  

Truck Transporter Common Bridge (CBT) (T91308)  

Truck Dump 20 Ton  

Generator Smoke Mechanical  

Tent Expandable Modular (Surgical)  


Army National Guard:  

Black Hawk Helicopters  

SINCGARS (Radio Systems)  

Air National Guard:  

F-16 Targeting Pods  

A-10 Targeting Pods  

C-130H2 AN/APN-241 Radar  

F-15 AIFF/IFF (Data Link Systems)  

F-15 220E Engine Kits  


Marine Corps Reserve:  

Reserve Training Center Vehicle Maintenance Facility, Mobile, AL  

Reserve Tank Maintenance Facility, Columbia, South Carolina  

Reserve Training Center Vehicle Maintenance Facility, Camp Lejeune, NC  

Uniform and Equipment needs  

Weapons System Repairs  


Grand total  

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Advaita and Superstring Theory

I should say a million times, that Advaita is not physics. Especially after the publication of such books as "The Tao of Physics" and the endless Deepak Chopra stuff there is a great danger that what I have to say here will be misunderstood.

Superstring Theory says that everything in the universe and the space-time within which everything in the universe exists is a manifestation of superstrings.

In this sense, string theory is a monistic theory.

The only reason to mention string theory is to remind people that they are familiar with monism, even if they didn't know it.

Advaita is a monistic philosophy. It however takes consciousness to be the root of everything, not strings. In a physical theory like string theory, consciousness is a side-product of sufficiently complex agglomerations of matter, like our brains and accompanying bodies. In Advaita, space, time, matter are side-products of consciousness.

Advaita cannot be a theory of physics, nor be mathematical.

The last thing to mention is that as per Advaita, this insight into the nature of things is available directly to the awareness. It does not require mathematics, or particle colliders to confirm this, as per Advaita, it takes a prepared mind.

A whole system of ethics and an entire culture flow from the (Hindu) accretions around this core idea. However, Hinduism is much more than Advaita and includes denials of the core idea as well.

Note that just as one could have and does have several religions around the transcendent personal god of Judaism/Christianity/Islam, one could have several religions about this absolute monism. The "religious" component of Advaita comes from the specific practices and traditions that it has bound to itself from Hinduism.

So is my current understanding. It is of course, subject to revision, upon greater understanding.

Is Advaita true? Fortunately, it doesn't matter. Yes, I know I have made an extremely provocative statement. The point is that there is no value in belief or non-belief in Advaita, what matters is what you do. Following the golden rule ("do unto others as you would have done unto you") is an excellent starting point, for instance. There are many "derivations" of the golden rule in different cultures. In Advaita, the derivation is that the others **are** you. You have to see this directly, and making a habit of the rule helps, supposedly.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Tirupathi Declaration

According to Swami Dayananda Saraswatiji there are far too many powerful people, even in India, in whose mental landscape there is no place for Hindus, and that unless Hindus act, Hinduism is finished. These forces include the Communists and the current ruling parties in India.

My comment - part of the problem is that secularism in India applies not to Hinduism - the government does not have any right to interfere in minority institutions, but runs and milks the manifold Hindu religious establishments.

Anyway, here is his declaration, and he hopes it catches the spirit of the people like the Quit India, 1942.

July 15, 2006

We Hindus assembled here declare
that we do not support, directly or indirectly,
any group, institution, religion, media,
or political force, which preaches, practices
or works against Hindu Dharma
in this country.

We appeal to all the Hindus
in this country and elsewhere
to subscribe to and support
this declaration,
the Tirupathi Declaration.

We want all the Hindu religious endowments
to be managed by Hindu bodies,
and not by the government.
We want the secular government
to release all religious endowments
from its hold.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Why are we afraid of these morons?

Read this

Falafel vendors in Baghdad - falafel is a dish made of fried chickpeas - have been shot dead ostensibly because there was no falafel in the Prophet Muhammad's time. The ice merchants have been similarly threatened.

One does not wage a "global war on terror" on lunatics; one finds them and confines them in institutions. One brings them before a judge and gets them committed.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Action and Reaction

The Pope was somewhat critical of Islam. Veteran Pakistan watchers expect the Karachi KFC outlet to be torched.
(KFC = Kentucky Fried Chicken).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What is he winning?

From TomDispatch:

"Five years later, according to Emily Gosden and David Randall of the British newspaper, the Independent, the Bush administration's Global War on Terror has resulted in, at a minimum, 20 times the deaths of 9/11; at a maximum, 60 times. It has "directly killed a minimum of 62,006 people, created 4.5 million refugees and cost the US more than the sum needed to pay off the debts of every poor nation on earth. If estimates of other, unquantified, deaths -- of insurgents, the Iraq military during the 2003 invasion, those not recorded individually by Western media, and those dying from wounds -- are included, then the toll could reach as high as 180,000."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Al Biruni and the Bhagavad Gita

There is a theory in certain quarters that the Bhagavad Gita was mostly forgotten in India until the British recovered it in the eighteenth century. In this regard, the early 11th century testimony of Al Biruni, a courtier of Mahmud of Ghazni, may be of interest.

The sources are the E.C. Sachau translation of Alberuni's Tarikh-ul-Hind and a modern book:

Alberuni's India
Translated by E.C. Sachau
ISBN 393 00568 2

The Living Gita : The complete Bhagavad Gita and commentary.
Sri Swami Satchidananda
ISBN 0-8050-1400-4

Some preliminaries from the Sachau translation of Alberuni :

(page 14) :

"The following passage is taken from the book Gita, a part of the book Bharata, from the conversation between Vasudeva and Arjuna :-- ...."

(page 64) : [discussing Indian literature ]

"Besides they have a book which they hold in such veneration that they firmly assert that everything which occurs in other books is found also in this book, but not all which occurs in this book is found in other books. It is called Bharata, and composed by Vyasa the son of Parasara at the time of the great war between the children of Pandu and those of Kuru. ....."

"Vyasa asked Brahman to procure him somebody who might write for him the Bharata from his dictation. Now he intrusted with this task his son Vinayaka, who is represented as an idol with an elephant's head, and made it obligatory on him never to cease from writing. At the same time Vyasa made it obligatory on him to write only that which he understood. Therefore Vyasa, in the course of his dication, dictated such sentences as compelled the writer to ponder over them, and thereby Vyasa gained time for resting awhile."

(pages 200-203 give a brief outline of the story of the epic that we have today. )


The following is all that I could find in Alberuni's Indica that refers to the Gita, then I give the chapter:verse number of what I think are the verses referred to by Alberuni; the translation of the verse is from Swami Satchidananda.

Page 14 :

The following passage is taken from the book Gita, a part of the book Bharata, from the conversation between Vasudeva and Arjuna :--

"I am the universe, without a beginning by being born, or without and end by dying. I do not aim by whatever I do at any recompense. I do not specially belong to one class of beings to the exclusion of others, as if I were the friend of one and the enemy of others. I have given to each one in my creation what is sufficient for him in all functions. Therefore whoever knows me in this capacity, and tries to become similar to me by keeping desire apart from his action, his fetters will be loosened, and he will easily be saved and freed."

From the Swami Satchidananda translation of the Bhagavadgita :

{"I am the universe..." is scattered across the Bhagavad Gita. For example : }

The truth is that I am eternal; I am not born, I never
die and I am the Lord of everything....

Apart from me, there is nothing whatsoever. The entire
creation is strung out on me like a necklace of precious

Look at my body, Arjuna. You will see the entire universe
there -- all that moves and all that [seems to be] unmoving,
as well as anything else you wish to see. And all are part
of the same, which is me.

{"I do not specially ...." }

I am the same toward all beings. Before me, no one is
hateful and no one is more or less cherished. However,
those who lovingly worship me will realize that they are
actually part of me.

I am unaffected by all actions, nor do I desire any results.
Whoever experiences this quality in me is also free.

{"I have given to each one in my creation .... : I have no satisfactory match. }

This passage reminds one of the definition of philosophy as the striving to become as much as possible similar to God.

Further, Vasudeva speaks in the same book :--

"It is desire which causes most men to take refuge with God for their wants. But if you examine their case closely, you will find that they are very far from having an accurate knowledge of him; for God is not apparent to everyone, so that he might perceive him with his senses. Therefore they do not know him. Some of them do not pass beyond what their senses perceive; some pass beyond this, but stop at the knowledge of the laws of nature, without learning that above them is one who did not give birth nor was born, the essence of whose being has not been comprehended by the knowledge of anyone, while his knowledge comprehends everything."

Good people worship me, Arjuna, for four basic reasons :
to be relieved of suffering, to understand life, to rise
from poverty to wealth, and just because they are wise

Foolish people don't look beyond physical appearance. Thus
they overlook my true nature which is Lord of everything.

Most people fail to look beyond the three qualities of my
prakriti. People see only these changing qualities and
don't see me, the transcendent One. In the midst of all
that changes, I am what doesn't change.

Not everyone can see me as I truly am, because I veil my-
self in maya. Thus deluded, the world does not recognize
me as the one who was never born and never changes.

Arjuna, I know all about every creature in the past ,present
and even future. Yet no one knows all about me.
Among all people, whoever recognizes me as the unborn and
beginningless lord of everything, knows the truth and frees
himself from wrongdoing.

Page 19 :

Regarding the whole creation, they think that it is a unity, as has already been declared, because Vasudeva speaks in the book called Gita " " To speak accurately, we must say that all things are divine; for Vishnu made himself the earth that the living beings should rest thereupon; he made himself fire and wind in order to make them grow; and he made himself the heart of every single being. He presented them with recollection and knowledge and the two opposite qualities, as is mentioned in the Veda."

{While the divinity inherent in all things is one of the themes of the Gita, this kind of specific statement I do not find. The "two opposite qualities" is in better shape :}

By animating my prakriti, I repeatedly create the infinite
varieties of all beings which are subject to the rule of my

People are deluded by attraction and aversion, which spawn
all the pairs of opposites. These dualities, Arjuna, subject
all to maya at birth.

The Vedas discuss the three gunas, Arjuna, transcend the
three gunas and you will be free of the pairs of opposites --
ever-balanced, free of wanting ......

Page 25 :

Vasudeva speaks to Arjuna instigating him to the battle, whilst they stand between the two lines : "If you believe in predestination, you must know that neither they nor we are mortal and do not go away without a return, for the souls are immortal and unchangeable. They migrate through the bodies, while man changes from childhood into youth, into manhood and infirm age, the end of which is the death of the body. Thereafter the soul proceeds on its return."

There never was a time when I did not exist, nor
you, nor any of these ruling princes. And neither
will there ever come a time when we cease to be.

That which is embodied experiences the body's childhood,
youth, and old age, and also in time acquires another body.
This does not disturb one whose mind is calm.

Further he says : "How can a man think of death and being killed who knows that the soul is eternal, not having been born and not perishing; that the soul is something stable and constant; that no sword can cut it, no fire burn it, no water extinguish it, and no wind wither it ? The soul migrates from its body, after it has become old, into another, a different one, as the body, when its dress has become old, is clad in another. What then is your sorrow about a soul which does not perish ? If it were perishable, it would be more becoming that you should not sorrow about a thing which may be dispensed with, which does not exist, and which does not return into existence. But if you look more to your body than to your soul, and are in anxiety about its perishing, you must know that all that which is born dies and all that which dies returns into another existence. However, both life and death are not your concern. They are in the hands of God, from whom all things come and to whom they return."

Whoever truly knows the Self -- indestructible, eternal,
birthless and changeless -- in what way would such a person
kill, Arjuna ? Who would be killed ?

Weapons do not affect the Self; fire does not burn
it, water does not wet it, and wind does not dry it.

The Self cannot be pierced or cut; it cannot be
burned, moistened or dried. It is endless, all-
pervading, stable, immovable and everlasting.

Just like casting off worn-out clothing and putting
on new ones, that which is embodied casts off worn-
out bodies and enters others that are new.

Even if you imagined Atman (the Self) continually
taking birth and dying -- even then, mighty Arjuna,
there is no reason to grieve.

Whatever is born will undoubtedly die; whatever is
dead certainly will be born. You should not mourn
what is inevitable.

Arjuna, beings originally are all unmanifested. At
midstate they're manifested; and unmanifested again
at the end. What is the point of lamenting ?

{I'm not happy with the last three lines. Perhaps they are a paraphrasing of :}

The blessed Lord said : I am all-powerful time, destroyer
of the worlds and now I have come to devour this world.
Whether you fight or not, all the warriors of the opposing
army gathered here will surely die.

Page 26 :

In the further course of conversation Arjuna speaks to Vasudeva : "How did you dare thus to fight Brahman, Brahman who was before the world was and before man was, whilst you are living among us as a being whose birth and age are known ?"

{I'm confused by the above. "Fight Brahman" is almost certainly a mistranslation.}

Arjuna asked : You were born long after Vivasvat. How
is it possible that you taught this in the beginning?

Thereupon Vasudeva answered : "Eternity (pre-existence) is common to both us and to him. How often have we lived together, when I knew the times of our life and death, whilst they were concealed from you ! When I desire to appear in order to do some good, I array myself in a body, since one cannot be with man except in a human shape."

Lord Krishna said : You and I have taken many births,
Arjuna. I know them all but you do not.

The truth is that I am eternal; I am not born, I never
die and I am the Lord of everything. Still, by control-
ling the elements of my nature (my prakriti), I appear
to take births by my power of illusion (maya).

When righteousness is lost and wickedness prevails, I
appear on earth in bodily form.

Age after age I take birth to protect the good, destroy
the wicked and establish virtue.

Vasudeva says : " He who hopes for salvation and strives to free himself from this world, but whose heart is not obedient to his wish, will be rewarded for his action in the worlds of those who receive a good reward; but he does not attain his last object on account of his deficiency, therefore he will return to this world, and will be found worthy of entering a new shape of a kind of beings whose special occupation is devotion. Divine inspiration helps him to raise himself in this new shape by degrees to that which he already wished for in the first shape. His heart begins to comply with his wish; he is more and more purified in different shapes, until he at last obtains salvation in an uninterrupted series of new births."

Arjuna asked : Krishna, what happens to someone who has
sincere belief, but cannot yet control the mind, or someone
who falls away from these practices before achieving per-
fection through yoga ?

Then the blessed Lord said : Do not worry, Arjuna. There
is no destruction -- either in this world or in the next --
for anyone who has embarked on the yogic path. O my son,
know for certain that anyone who does good never comes to
a bad end.

Whoever embarks on the yogic path -- and leaves his body
before reaching his highest goal -- attains the heavenly
state of the virtuous. He stays there a very long time
and then takes birth again in this world in a home of the
pure and prosperous in order to continue his quest.

Or he is reborn into a family of wise yogis. Such a birth
in this world is rare indeed.

In this environment, Arjuna, he soon recalls the knowledge
gained in previous births, and strives for realization even
more earnestly than before.

By earnest and persistent effort -- even over many lifetimes --
a yogi becomes completely purified of all selfish desire and reaches
the supreme goal of life.

Further, Vasudeva says : "If the soul is free from matter, it is knowing; but as long as it is clad in matter, the soul is not-knowing, on account of the turbid nature of matter. It thinks that it is an agent, and that the actions of the world are prepared for its sake. Therefore it clings to them, and it is stamped with the impressions of the senses. When, then, the soul leaves the body, the traces of the impressions of the senses remain in it, and are not completely eradicated, as it longs for the world of the sense and returns towards it. And since it in these stages undergoes changes entirely opposed to each other, it is thereby subject to the influences of the three primary forces. What, therefore, can the soul do, its wing being cut, if it is not sufficiently trained and prepared?"

{I am not very satisfied with the following : }

The qualities of nature (calmness, restlessness, inertia)
do all that is done. But because the mind is clouded by
ego, a person thinks : I am the doer.

Those still deluded by nature's qualities become attached
to nature's functions. But the one of perfect understanding
should not disturb the mind of someone who does not know

....Though they may have been meticulous in religious
observances, if they still want something, they are caught
in the endless chain of personal desires, and thus must
continue to take birth after death.

Vasudeva says : "The best of men is the perfectly wise one, for he loves God and God loves him. How many times has he died and been born again ! During his whole life he perseveringly seeks for perfection till he obtains it."

After many life times, a person grows wise and takes
refuge in me and nothing else. Then he realizes that
I am all that is. Such a great soul is rare indeed.

Page 35 : [ a discussion of moksha and the paths leading to it ] :

In the book Gita we read : "Man is created for the purpose of knowing; and because knowing is always the same, man has been gifted with the same organs. If man were created for the purpose of acting, his organs would be different, as actions are different in consequence of the difference of the three primary forces. However, bodily nature is bent upon acting on account of its essential opposition to knowing. Besides, it wishes to invest action with pleasures which in reality are pains. But knowledge is such as to leave this nature behind itself prostrated on the earth like an opponent, and removes all darkness from the soul as an eclipse or clouds are removed from the sun."

{This is a complete mystery to me. }

Now we return and continue our quotation from the book Gita.

"Likewise the other organs of the senses serve for acquiring knowledge. The knowing person rejoices in turning them to and fro on the field of knowledge, so that they are his spies. The apprehension of the senses is different according to time. The sense which serve the heart perceive only that which is present. The heart reflects over that which is present and remembers also the past. The nature takes hold of the present, claims it for itself in the past, and prepares to wrestle with it in the future. The reason understands the nature of a thing, no regard being had of time or date, since past and future are the same for it. Its nearest helper are reflection and nature; the most distant are the five senses. When the senses bring before reflection some particular object of knowledge, reflection cleans it from the errors of the functions of the senses, and hands it over to reason. Thereupon reason makes universal what was before particular, and communicates it to the soul. Thus the soul comes to know it."

{ Where is this from ? }

Page 36 :

In the book Gita we read : " How is a man to obtain liberation who disperses his heart and does not concentrate it alone upon God, who does not exclusively direct his action towards him ? But if a man turns away his cogitation from all other things and concentrates it upon the One, the light of his heart will be steady like the light of a lamp filled with clean oil, standing in a corner where no wind makes it flicker, and he will be occupied in such a degree as not to perceive anything that gives pain, like heat or cold, knowing that everything besides the One, the Truth, is a vain phantom."

When you have your mind well trained so that it
rests solely in Atman, without wanting anything,
then you are established in Yoga.

The well-trained mind of a yogi, concentrating on
the Self, is as steady as a flame in a windless

Once you are established in this (reality), there's
absolutely nothing else to achieve, nor will any-
thing ever shake you again -- not even the worst
possible affliction.

Yoga is a means to disconnect your identification with
that which experiences pain.

In the same book we read : "Pain and pleasure have no effect on the real world, just as the continuous flow of the streams to the ocean does not affect its water. How could anybody ascend this mountain pass save him who has conquered cupidity and wrath and rendered them inert ?"

{While the ideas are Gita-like, the specific similes of the streams entering the ocean, and the mountain-pass I miss. The stream-ocean analogy that I found is :}

Someone with personal desires will not experience true
peace. But when all desires merge, like different rivers
flowing into the vast, deep ocean, then peace is easily

Page 37 :

The book Gita says : "All that which is the object of a man's continuous meditating and bearing in mind is stamped upon him, so that he even unconsciously is guided by it. Since, now, the time of death is the time of remembering what we love, the soul on leaving the body is united with that object which we love, and is changed into it."

If you are thinking of me at the time of physical
death, you will leave your body and come directly
to me, there is no doubt about it.

A person goes to whatever he is thinking of at the
time of physical death, Arjuna, because his mind
established that direction.

However, the reader must not believe that it is only the union of the soul with any forms of life that perish and return into existence that is perfect liberation, for the same book, Gita, says : "He who knows when dying that God is everything, and that from him everything proceeds, is liberated, though his degree be lower than that of the saints."

{The idea again is one of the themes of the Gita, but the specific language? Also see 8:5, 8:6 above. }

The same book says : "Seek deliverance from this world by abstaining from any connection with its follies, by having sincere intentions in all actions and when making offerings by fire to God, without any desire for reward and recompense; further by keeping aloof from mankind."

{This is generic Gita. }

Page 38 :

The book Gita says : "He who mortifies his lust does not go beyond the necessary wants; and he who is content with that which is sufficient for the sustaining of life will not be ashamed nor be despised."

The same book says : "If man is not without wants as regards the demands of human nature, if he wants nourishment to appease thereby the heat of hunger and exhaustion, sleep in order to meet the injurious influences of fatiguing motions and a couch to rest upon, let the latter be clean and smooth, everywhere equally high above the ground and sufficiently large that he may stretch his body upon it. Let him have a place of temperate climate, not hurtful by cold nor by heat, and where he is safe from the approach of reptiles. All this helps him to sharpen the function of his heart, that he may without any interruption concentrate his cogitation on the unity. For all things besides the necessities of life in the way of eating and clothing are pleasures of a kind which in reality, are disguised pains. To acquiesce in them is impossible, and would end in the gravest inconvenience. There is pleasure only to him who kills the two intolerable enemies, lust and wrath, already during his life and not when he dies, who derives his rest and bliss from within, not from without; and who, in the final result, is able altogether to dispense with his senses."

{I'm not happy with this either. I think here Alberuni or his translator reveals his limitations. I think what was meant is the following : }

To practice meditation, fix up a clean meditation place
with your seat neither too high nor too low. Insulate the
seat with a grass mat, then a deer skin and over those a
clean cloth.

Then sit and calm the mind the senses by concentrating on one
thing; thus you practice Yoga for self-purification.

It is impossible to practice Yoga effectively if
you eat or sleep either too much or too little.

But if you are moderate in eating, playing, sleeping, staying
awake, and avoiding extremes in everything you do, you will
see that these yoga practices eliminate all your pain and

{The last lines are generic Gita ideas. }
While still in a human body, if you can stand fast amid
the forces of desire and anger, then surely you are a yogi
destined for happiness.

The yogi who discovers happiness and joy within is also
illumined solely from within. That yogi becomes one with
God and marvels in the ecstasy of God.

Vasudeva spoke to Arjuna: "If you want the absolute good, take care of the nine doors of thy body and know what is going in and out through them. Constrain thy heart from dispersing its thoughts by thinking of the upper membrane of the child's brain which is first soft, and then is closed and becomes strong, so that it would seem that there were no more need of it. Do not take perception of the senses for anything but the nature immanent in their organs, and therefore beware of following it."

{Here again, Alberuni or his translator reveals his limitations. Almost certainly what is meant by "thinking of the upper membrane of the child's brain" is the chakra at the top of the head. Verses dealing with the nine gates are : }

By mentally renouncing the fruits of his action, the yogi's mind
becomes disciplined. Thus, he knows himself to be Atman, happily
abiding in the city of nine gates (the body). He knows he is not
the doer who acts or causes to act.

This is the effective yoga technique :At the time of leaving the
body, mentally withdraw attention from the gates of the body into
the heart area, and from there direct the prana into the head.

When the light of wisdom shines through all the gates of the body
this is a sign that sattva is dominant.

{The last line about sense perceptions may be : }

Arjuna, one may intuit the relationship between nature's qualities
(gunas) and action (karma). Whoever does so knows that nature, as
the senses, merely abides with nature, as the sense objects. He
identifies with neither, and thus does not become entangled.

The book Gita says : "Men err in what is ordered and what is forbidden. They do not know how to distinguish between good and evil in actions. Therefore, giving up acting altogether and keeping aloof from it, this is *the* action."

Even the sages are sometimes confused about action and inaction ...

Distinguish between right action, wrong action and inaction. The
way of karma is nearly impossible to understand.

The same book says : "The purity of knowledge is high above the purity of all other things, for by knowledge ignorance is rooted out and certainity is gained in exchange for doubt, which is a means of torture, for there is no rest for him who doubts."

{Any ideas about the above ?}

Because of ignorance, some people have no sincere
belief and are constantly skeptical; they are
ruined. A mind like that is unhappy in the present
and the future.

The author of the book Gita distributes the duties of worship among the body, the voice, and the heart.

What the body has to do is fasting, prayer, the fulfillment of the law, service towards the angels and the sages among the Brahmans, keeping clean the body, keeping aloof from killing under all circumstances, and never looking at another man's wife and other property.

These are the physical disciplines (tapas) : serving
God, the twice-born, spiritual teachers, and the wise;
staying pure, virtuous, continent and practicing non-
injury (ahimsa).

What the voice has to do is the reciting of the holy texts, praising God, always to speak the truth, to address people mildly, to guide them and to order them to do good.

These are the disciplines of speech : speaking truthfully,
pleasantly and kindly with words that do not excite others
and reading scripture (svadhyaya).

What the heart has to do is to have straight, honest intentions, to avoid haughtiness, always to be patient, to keep your senses under control, and to have a cheerful mind.

These are the mental discipilines : tranquility, gentleness,
goodheartedness, silence, self-control and purity of thought.

Page 42:

...Arjuna asks, "What is Brahman like in the world ?" Whereupon Vasudeva answers "Imagine him like an Asvattha tree."

This is a huge precious tree, well known among them [Hindus] standing upside down, the roots being above, the branches below. If it has ample nourishment, it becomes quite enormous; the branches spread far, cling to the soil and creep into it. Roots and branches above and below resemble each other to a degree that it is difficult to say which is which.

{Alberuni here describes the banyan tree, the vata or nyagrodha; but the Gita talks of the Asvattha, or pipul tree (as do the Upanishads ).}

"Brahman is the upper roots of this tree, its trunk is the Veda, its branches are the different doctrines and schools, its leaves are the different modes of interpretation; its nourishment comes from the three forces; the tree becomes strong and compact through the senses. The intelligent being has no other keen desire but that of felling this tree, i.e., abstaining from this world and its vanities. When he has succeeded in felling it, he wishes to settle in the place where it has grown, a place in which there is no returning in a further state of metempsychosis. When he obtains this, he leaves behind himself all the pains of heat and cold, and coming from the light of sun and moon and common fires, he attains to the divine lights."

The blessed Lord said : The wise speak of an eternal Asvattha tree
(sacred fig) with its roots above and its branches here in this world.
Its leaves are the Vedas (holy scriptures). Whoever understands this
tree knows the most sacred wisdom.

Nourished by the gunas, its branches spread above and below. It buds
forth all the sense objects, and its roots reach down to this world,
binding people to one action after another.

The true nature of this tree -- its form, origin, end and even pre-
sence -- is not perceived at the level of worldly awareness. Just
cut down this deep-rooted Asvattha tree with the sharp sword of non-

There is a place from which none ever returns. That is the goal. Seek
it by vowing : I take refuge in the original Purusha, who is the lord
and source of all, the Absolute, from which streams forth the eternal

Fortunate are those seekers who are no longer deluded (by that tree)
and thus are liberated from pride. Because they have conquered personal
attachment, they ever abide in their true identity, which is the Self.
No longer disturbed by personal desires, which have completely abated,
or the pairs of opposites, such as pleasure and pain, they attain that
eternal goal.

THAT is beyond the light of the sun, the moon or fire. That is where
I am. When you reach this goal, you will never again fall back to a
feeling of separateness.

Page 50:

Arjuna asked about the nature of the four castes and what must be their moral qualities, whereupon Vasudeva answered :

Indeed, Arjuna, the qualities in one's own nature determine
the appropriate role and duties for each person -- whether
scholar or priest (brahmin), leader or warrior (kshatriya);
tradesperson (vaisya), or laborer (sudra).

"The Brahmana must have an ample intellect, a quiet heart, truthful speech, much patience; he must be master of his senses, a lover of justice, of evident purity, always directed upon worship, entirely bent upon religion."

By nature the priest or teacher (brahmin) is inclined
toward serenity, self-control, self-discipline, purity
and forgiveness, as well as virtuous behavior, learning,
Self-realization and faith in the eternal.

"The Kshatriya must fill the hearts with terror, must be brave and high-minded, must have ready speech and a liberal hand, not minding dangers, only intent upon carrying the great tasks of his calling to a happy ending."

The leader or warrior (kshatriya) is naturally inclined
to courage, vigor, firmness of mind, resourcefulness,
generosity, leadership and the resolve not to flee,
but to persevere in the midst of battle.

"The Vaisya is to occupy himself with agriculture, with the acquisition of cattle, and with trade."

"The Sudra is to endeavour to render services and attention to each of the preceding classes, in order to make himself liked by them."

The tradesperson (vaisya) is naturally inclined toward
farming, dairying, and other business trades. And working
people by nature are inclined toward service.

"If each member of these castes adheres to his customs and usages, he will obtain the happiness he wishes for, supposing that he is not negligent in the worship of God, not forgetting to remember him in his important avocations. But if anybody wants to quit the work and duties of his caste and adopt those of another caste, even if it would bring a certain honor to the latter, it is a sin, because it is a transgression of the rule."

Anyone can attain perfection by devoting himself to the
work that comes most naturally. I will explain how.

When you do the work that by your nature is your calling,
you are worshipping the creator of all beings who is
omnipresent, and thus you attain perfection.

It is better to do your own dharma imperfectly than to
excel at another's dharma. Whoever accepts the duties
of his nature is free from sin.

It is better to do your own dharma even imperfectly, than
someone else's dharma perfectly. Even better to die in
your dharma than in another's, which brings great fear.

Further, Vasudeva speaks, inspiring him with courage to fight the enemy :

"Dost thou not know, O man with the long arm, that thou art a Kshatriya; that thy race has been created brave, to rush boldly to the charge, to care little for the vicissitudes of time, never to give way whenever their soul has a foreboding of coming misfortune ? for only thereby is the reward to be obtained. If he conquers, he obtains power and good fortune. if he perishes, he obtains paradise and bliss. Besides, thou showest weakness in the presence of the enemy, and seemest melancholy at the prospect of killing this host; but it will be infinitely worse if thy name will spread as that of a timid cowardly man, that thy reputation among the heroes and the experienced warriors will be gone, that thou wilt be out of their sight, and thy name no longer remembered among them. I do not know a worse punishment than such a state. Death is better than to expose thyself to the consequences of ignominy.
If, therefore, God has ordered thee to fight, if he has deigned to confer upon thy caste the task of fighting and has created thee for it, carry out his order and perform his will with a determination which is free from any desire, so that thy action will be exclusively devoted to him."

Furthermore, looking at your own duty, you
will see no reason to waver. For certainly
there is nothing higher for a Kshatriya than
a righteous war.

Happy indeed are the Kshatriyas, Arjuna,
called to fight in such a battle that comes
of itself -- like an open gate to heaven.

If you are killed, you will gain heaven.
If you are victorious, you will enjoy the
earth. Therefore, rise up, Arjuna, resolved
to fight !

But if you don't fight when its your duty
to do so, you lose your honor and incur sin.

People will continually recall your shame.
And for one who has been honored, dishonor is
worse than death.

The great charioteers will suppose you withdrew
from battle out of fear. Those who thought so
highly of you will take you lightly.

And your enemies will deride your strengths and
slander you. What could be more painful ?

Seeing the same in pleasure and pain, gain and
loss, victory and defeat, in battle -- just for
the sake of the battle -- then you will be

Dedicate all your actions to me. (Then) your
mind will rest in the Self (Atman), free of
the wishing and selfishness fever, and you
can engage in battle.

.... This view [that liberation is common to all castes and to the whole human race, if their intention of obtaining it is perfect ] is also based on the fact that Vasudeva was a descendant of a Sudra family and also on the following saying of his, which he addressed to Arjuna : "God distributes recompense without injustice and without partiality. He reckons the good as bad if people in doing good forget him; he reckons the bad as good if people in doing bad remember him and do not forget him, whether those people be Vaisya, or Sudra or women. How much more this will be the case when they are Brahmana or Kshatriya."

I am the same toward all beings. Before me, no one
is hateful, and no one is more or less cherished.
However, those who lovingly worship me will realize
that they are actually part of me and that I live in

No matter your birth, race, sex or caste -- even if
you are scorned by others -- if you take refuge in me,
then certainly you will attain the Supreme Goal.

Page 59 : [about idols]

Therefore the book Gita says : "Many people try to approach me in their aspirations through something which is different from me; they try to insinuate themselves into my favor by giving alms, praise and prayer to something besides me. I, however, confirm and help them in all these doings of theirs, and make them attain the object of their wishes, because I am able to dispense with them."

In the same book Vasudeva speaks to Arjuna : "Do you not see that most of those who wish for something address themselves in offering and worshipping to the several classes of spiritual beings, and to the sun, moon and other celestial bodies ? If now God does not disappoint their hopes, though he in no way stands in need of their worship, if he even gives them more than they asked for, and if he gives them their wishes in such a way as though they were receiving them from that to which they had addressed their prayers -- viz. the idol -- they will proceed to worship those whom they address, because they have not learned to know him, while he, by admitting this kind of intermediation, carries their affairs to the desired end. But that which is obtained by desires and intermediation is not lasting, since it is only as much as is deserved for any particular merit. Only that is lasting which is obtained from God alone, when people are disgusted with old age, death and birth (and desire to be delivered therefrom by Moksha)."

Others still allow personal desires to lead astray
their good judgement. [Thus] they follow their
lower nature and worship lesser gods for their

A devotee may select any name or form as
the object of his worship. But if he has
sincere belief (shraddha), I make his faith
strong and steady.

Then when he worships with steady faith the
form he has chosen, he gets what he wants.
But actually, I am the one fulfilling his

However, those of limited understanding
obtain limited satisfaction. Those who
worship the devas go to the devas; my
devotees come to me.

Because their understanding is still shallow,
many still believe that I, the unmanifested
one, am limited to one particular manifestation.
They have not yet seen my true nature which is
unchanging and supreme.

Page 271 : [about caste inequities]

...All these things originate in the difference of classes or castes, one set of people treating the others as fools. This apart, all men are equal to each other, as Vasudeva says regarding him who seeks salvation : "In the judgement of the intelligent man, the Brahman and the Candala are equal, the friend and the foe, the faithful and the deceitful, nay even the serpent and the weasel. If to the eyes of intelligence all things are equal, to ignorance they appear as separated and different."

{The ones close to this are : }

A person stands supreme who has equal regard for
friends, companions, enemies, neutral arbiters,
hateful people, relatives, saints and sinners.

Those who have realized the Self see that same Self
equally in a humble scholar, a cow, a dog or a dog-eater.

Vasudeva speaks to Arjuna : "If the civilization of the world is that which is intended, and if the direction of it cannot proceed without our fighting for the purpose of suppressing evil, it is the duty of us who are the intelligent to act and to fight, not in order to bring to an end that which is deficient within us, but because it is necessary for the purpose of healing what is ill and banishing destructive elements. Then the ignorant imitate us in acting, as the children imitate their elders, without their knowing the real aim and purpose of actions. For their nature has an aversion to intellectual methods, and they use force only in order to act in accordance with the influences of lust and passion on their senses. In all this, the intelligent and educated man is directly the contrary of them."

{ Another puzzle here. The only verses that come anywhere close are : }

Whatever a great person does is followed by others who set
their standard by his or her example.

Arjuna, there's nothing in the three worlds that I ought to
do, nor anything for me to achieve that I have not already
achieved -- yet I continue doing things.

If I ever stop doing my continuous work, Arjuna, everyone would
follow my example in every way.

If I stop doing, the worlds would perish; I would confuse all
the species and cause the destruction of all creatures.

The unenlightened do things with attachment (wanting some results
for themselves). An enlightened person does things with the same
zeal, Arjuna, but without attachment, and thus guides others on
the path of selfless action (Karma Yoga).

Page 283 : [about cremation]

The belief of the Hindus on this head was confirmed by the words of Vasudeva, which he spoke regarding him who is liberated from the fetters (of bodily existence). "His death takes place during uttarayana (i.e., the northern revolution of the sun from the winter solstice to the summer solstice),
during the white half of the month, between lighted lamps, i.e., between conjunction and opposition (new moon and full moon), in the seasons of winter and spring."

If a yogi who knows reality leaves his
body during the six months of the northern
passage of the sun, which is the path of
light, fire, day, and the bright two weeks
of the moon, he goes directly to Brahman
(absolute oneness).


Friday, September 01, 2006

The Republic ripostes

Reproduced in full from

Feeling Morally, Intellectually Confused?
by Keith Olbermann

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril—with a growing evil—powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the “secret information.” It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s -- questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all — it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscient ones.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their “omniscience” as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have — inadvertently or intentionally — profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes?

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The confusion we -- as its citizens— must now address, is stark and forbidding.

But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note -- with hope in your heart — that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a “new type of fascism.”

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed: “confused” or “immoral.”

Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”

And so good night, and good luck.

Comments? Email KOlbermann@msnbc.comWatch “Countdown” each weeknight at 8 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV