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Biblical fabrication?

I saw a posting on The Other Side of Kim about San Francisco Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s Earth Day statement. The Patriot Post says the biblical quote in her statement, or anything resembling the quote, doesn’t actually appear in the Bible.

Despite my self-professed atheism, I do have a Bible. It doesn’t even burn when I touch it! Whenever a biblical quotation appears in a book, movie, or television show, I look it up. Typically, the quotes are the result of creative editing. It’s interesting to see what the writer has left out as well as the context.

Pelosi doesn’t offer a citation in her press release so I resorted to the web to search for the quote she used. I found nothing. Perhaps she paraphrased liberally? I asked:

From: “Rick Pali” <rpali@alienshore.com>
To: sf.nancy@mail.house.gov
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 13:02:06 ‑0400
Subject: Regarding your Earth Day statement

Congresswoman Pelosi,

I came across discussion of your statement celebrating Earth Day, and in particular, this passage:

“The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, ‘To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.’ ”

I’ve been unable to locate this passage. Perhaps you’ve paraphrased, or taken it from an edition of the Bible I’m not familiar with. Could you please provide a citation? I’m interested in seeing the context of the quote.

Rick.

I noticed an interesting notice on her site’s contact page. It says:

Please note that the rules of Congressional courtesy prevent Rep. Pelosi from replying to e‑mails if she cannot determine that you are a constituent, so remember to include your full name, address, and zip code.

The emphasis is not mine.

So I shouldn’t expect an answer, I suppose. I can understand that a congressperson doesn’t want to be bothered with questions about how she’s handling issues affecting her constituents if the question is from someone other than her constituents. On the other hand, she issues statements to the public and should be responsible for what she says because her words can indeed have an effect outside her constituency. What it boils down to is the politician not having a moment for anyone who isn’t able to vote for/against them.

For example, during the English leadership debate for the 2005 Federal election, Liberal leader Paul Martin said Toronto’s mayor said stolen legal guns were killing people. I quoted Martin in my January 10, 2006 entry. Wanting to find out the details, I wrote Mayor David Miller and received a form letter response directing me to the Toronto Police. I wrote the Toronto police and they didn’t see fit to respond. Certainly Toronto’s mayor and police don’t feel beholden to me, but in this case what they said does affect me.

In Pelosi’s case, I’m forced to assume she’s not being truthful. If she’s okay with this, who am I to argue?

Totally obliterate

A Reuters article starts with this opening paragraph:

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton warned Tehran on Tuesday that if she were president, the United States could “totally obliterate” Iran in retaliation for a nuclear strike against Israel.

I’m surprised to hear the left speak this way, with all the talk about trying to understand our enemies.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the course of action she describes would be the the right one, but I wonder about putting it out there in such plain terms.

People and countries say many things, and comparatively few of them follow through. It’s extremely important to follow through on your words if you want to be believed. On the other hand, you’re far less predictable if you do not broadcast your intentions in advance. This also has the advantage of not committing you to a course of action you may not want to take.

Faces stern and glowing

Kym sent me a ridiculously interesting article from the Ottawa Citizen about where many of the modern Olympic traditions came from. It’s called “What the torch symbolizes” by Dan Gardner. Remember how I was saying that the modern games have a long history of being used for political ends so it’s laughable when people say the Olympics shouldn’t be used for political purposes? It’s worse than I thought.

In an interesting parallel, trouble broke out on the Bulgarian-Yugoslav border when the 1936 Olympic torch relay passed through, not unlike what we’ve seen in the last few weeks. Protesters tried to disrupt the torch run while supporters of Germany tried to disrupt the protests.

Gardner’s article quotes historian David Clay Large’s book, Nazi Games,

Realizing that the Vienna demonstration could undercut Germany’s deeply disingenuous official stance that the 1936 games stood ‘entirely above politics,’ propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels ordered the German press not to play up the Austrian demonstration and to comment that ‘the use of the Olympic flame for political purposes is exceptionally regrettable.’

Seventy-two years later, same as it ever was.

One World One Dream, my ass

I’m amazingly ambivalent about those people who feel it’s necessary to go beyond simple protests and actively interfering with the Olympic torch relay.

On one hand, it smacks of the type of “hey look at me” hooliganism that doesn’t actually do anything to address the problem. Greenpeace is the example I point to for this type of behaviour. Greenpeace is the master however, easily surpassing “hey look at me” with “hey look at me masturbate.”

On the other hand, the continual attempts by China and the IOC to whitewash what this is really about is ridiculous and insulting.

IOC vice-president Kevin Gosper said, “We’re very disturbed and disappointed that there are people who want to disrupt the process. We understand peaceful protests. We understand that in many democracies. But we don’t condone people who want to disrupt and be violent and run the risk of injury.” When I read this, I get an undercurrent of “Who? Me? I didn’t do anything!” from his words as if the IOC are a bunch of selfless organizers who are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. I believe this like I believe in the Easter bunny.

Then there are those who claim the games aren’t political. The modern games have been used to promote all sorts of ideologies under the cover of sport. I’m no Olympic historian but even I know Hitler planned to use the 1936 games to show the superiority of the Reich and its people. Granted his plans didn’t work out, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. Not political? Don’t be naive.

I heard two Canadians who were originally from China interviewed on the CBC. They said these protests are overblown and instead of escalating to violence, the protesters should have their say and then go home. I’d suggest that if the Chinese and Tibetans had the option of speaking their minds, there wouldn’t be such a big problem.

Others say having the Olympics in China will work toward liberalizing human rights and freedoms in the country. I’ve yet to hear the mechanism by which this will occur. Part of China’s agreement with the IOC involves opening up access to the Internet during the games. Some have complained that many sites on the Internet are still censored. The government’s response has been that the games haven’t started. I fully expect they’ll block sites they deem sensitive after the games, and if they’re called on it, they’ll say the games are over.

This said, I do believe freedom will come to China. It will come through the efforts of its own people rather than from an outside agent. The slow fuse is simply knowing freedom exists elsewhere and is possible. Once the general populace learns this, the rest is inevitable. The government can use the whip and propaganda, but it’s just a matter of time.

Take this impassioned speech was by G’Kar, a character in J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 series:

No dictator, no invader, can hold an imprisoned population by the force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments, and tyrants, and armies can not stand. The Centauri learnt this lesson once. We will teach it to them again. Though it take a thousand years, we will be free.

While it drips with optimism, I also believe it’s largely true. Show people what they might have, and they’ll do their best to get it, even if it takes time.

What I don’t like about the Chinese government could fill volumes. Granted many of these things are common across most governments, but China is different from the many others in one way. Their government somehow manages to appear very childish. They call people names or use cutesy labels. They attempt to restrict the flow of information, despite being doomed to fail. They’ll try to hide an embarrassing fact, even at the risk of their own people’s well being. They’ll try to spin the news, but their efforts come across as hopelessly clumsy. I have no idea why the Chinese government operates this way, but their government acts very much like an insecure child afraid of being embarrassed.

Absolut weirdness

V&S Absolut Spirits has had a number of clever and interesting advertising campaigns for its Absolut brand of vodka going back to at least the eighties. One of the ads for the current In an Absolut World series of ads has raised some eyebrows, however.

This ad appeared in Quién, a Mexican magazine. I’m curious whether this ad is the result on an independent campaign put together by the local Mexican Absolut division (if there is such a thing), or direct from the corporate headquarters in Sweden. I’m assuming the former because the latter seems like a remarkably poor business move.

The 109 million Mexicans are a significant consumer population. No doubt about it. At the same time however, would you try to sell to them in such a way that could very well piss off the United States, with three times the population and four times the per capita wealth (based on per capita GDP)? Of course this assumes they’ll find out, and of course they have.

I found the ad on Laura Martinez’s blog. At least I think that’s her name, because while it appears in the URL, I couldn’t find it in the blog itself. She says:

…in an “Absolut World,” wonderful things can happen, including getting the U.S.-Mexico border straight once and for all

I was going to suggest that they try and make the map a reality, but it occurs to me Mexico already is doing this, just in a different way. Unfortunately, the United States, by and large, seems content to let it happen.

A tip of the hat to Kim at The Other Side.

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