Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ching chong, it means I love you

My life has recently been filed with violence and the rationalizations for it – er, well in a rhetorical sense. I have been bemused by many of my fellow Buddhist friends who believe that one can act aggressively if one does so out of compassion. At least they recognize there will be consequences for such action and there are actions to take to mitigate the karma created.

But I’ve also been reading an anthology of articles that examine how Buddhism carries and Buddhists practice a violent doctrine. It completely befuddles me that there are some who believe in “compassionate retaliation.” Intervening to stop violence or aggression is one thing, but engaging an aggressor on equal terms is simply more violence. That’s my view. If you truly have compassion, you would be unable to respond with aggression, no matter what the outcome.

I began to wonder if my point of view was just a bunch of Pollyannish hokum until I heard an interview with Jimmy Wong on NPR, and then saw a video of him being interviewed on MSNBC. The MSNBC video is below.

This bright young man realized that his initial response to the “Asians in the Library” video was infused with anger. So he waited to craft his clever song, which has become a viral hit just as much as the offending video that started it all.

I guess my point is retaliation doesn’t change anything. All it does is make us feel better for the moment. So maybe a bullied person finally gets fed up and retaliates. The bully stops bullying that person. But did punching out the bully change the bully? Will the bully stop bullying others? Not likely. All the aggressive response did was make the bullied person feel better. And a person who in the past would not act violently suddenly has. An unskillful condition that did not exist now exists. Remember the Four Right Efforts?

For me, it recalls the opening scene from the Daniel Craig version of “Casino Royale.” You know, when the bad guy tells Bond that killing a person gets easier the second time, and Bond replies, “Yes, considerably.

Here is the original “Asians in the Library” video that created the stir.


And here is Jimmy Wong’s reply.


Thank you Jimmy for a wonderful video and a wonderful song. And gawd, is he ever cute!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Buddhist Warfare, Chapter 1

In the song, “With God on Our Side,” Bob Dylan sings of how peoples and nations rationalize war against each other, that their aggression is necessary and justifiable because they have God on their side. This notion of having God on your side is an important concept when looking at the first essay in “Buddhist Warfare,” a piece written by Paul Demiéville titled “Buddhism and War.”

Demiéville correctly points out how the Dhamma has been rationalized throughout the centuries following the Buddha’s death. One of the simplest rationalizations, he notes, is that life is suffering and if killing ends life, then it also ends suffering. This rationalization, Demiéville shows us, is at the heart of many Mahayana traditions that largely developed in China where a militaristic culture already existed and which was ready to co-opt Buddhist doctrine to lend legitimacy to its politics (kind of sounds like the Republican Party in the U.S.).

The author points out how China, Japan, Korea and other parts of East Asia already had well-established warrior cultures that were largely supported by Confucian thought. The rulers and warlords adopted Buddhism to gain a military advantage, rationalizing and altering the teachings to show that their actions were right and good and their enemy’s actions were wrong and evil. At the same time, Buddhist monks were looking for political favoritism and weren’t shy about re-interpreting the Dharma to please their kings. Even the Buddha walked a delicate line regarding this issue (which is covered a bit more in the next article in the book).

During the first thousand years CE in China, for example, we see may Buddhist cults arise each with militaristic behaviors and practices led by charismatic monks who professed to have supernatural powers. This made these monks very attractive to the rulers and warlords who saw befriending and supporting such monks and their followers as politically astute.

However true this may be, I am troubled by the way Demiéville portrays these histories as being “Buddhist,” laying the groundwork for the assertion that Buddhism itself is at fault for the arising of these warlike doctrines. These histories are no more “Buddhist” than Cromwell’s attacks were “Puritan” or even “Christian,” despite the fact that religious beliefs and doctrines played a key role in Cromwell’s war mongering. Demiéville’s citing the rise of the Shaolin and other warrior monks is not evidence of “Buddhist violence,” but rather evidence of people who identify as Buddhist being violent.

Demiéville also makes a few really weak assertions by drawing connections so vague as to be rightly ridiculed with uncontrolled laughter. For example he writes: “We know that the Boxers who rose up against foreigners at the end of the nineteenth century, and besieged the Peking delegation in 1900, were part of a secret society with more or less Buddhist origins.” Italics are mine. When I read that, I was like, WTF?

What I really found interesting was Demiéville’s mentioning of Yi-hiuan, a ninth-Century Chinese monk who is credited with the ubiquitous phrase, “Kill the Buddha.” It was revealing enough that he would cite the founder of the Lin-tsi sect to lend credence to the concept that Buddhism inherently lends itself to the arising of violent doctrines; but what really caught my eye was all the attention this part of the book garnered on the Internet. When you Google “Yi-hiuan” the results are dominated by a review of “Buddhist Warfare” by Katherine Wharton. Her referencing this particular item in Demiéville’s article was in turned referenced multiple times by many others, including an article by Marin E. Marty in The Christian Post, whose comments also get reprinted all over the Web. Kyle at The Reformed Buddhist had plenty to say about Wharton’s review, thanking Barbara O’Brien for her dissection of Wharton’s review and sophomoric conclusions.

I found this discussion interesting because of how it reflects something the Buddha warned Ananda about just before his death. Ananda asks the Buddha who will lead the Sangha after the Buddha dies, to which the Buddha replies that there will be no successor because there is no position to be succeeded. He directs Ananda and the others to be “islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge…”

It is worth pointing out that transmission of the Buddha’s Dhamma was initially oral. The Buddha knew that writing down the Dhamma would present problems and he cautioned against those that would come in the future and change his teachings. And when things get written down, they can suddenly take on an undeserved credibility.

This seems to be what happened with Katherine Wharton’s review, which if you read it closely seems to suggest that the only part of “Buddhist Warfare” that she read was the chapter penned by Demiéville. Her words get picked up by others, such as Marty, and are spread about the Web and get read widely despite the suspect nature of her conclusions.

Even Demiéville shows how this happened with the development of Zen in Japan, which began as a very well-cultured and educated school of Buddhism that required strict discipline in the practice. These very traits were used by militaristic individuals, including Zen priests, to train soldiers in the correct use of weapons. This is cited as another example of the alleged warlike nature of Buddhist doctrine. These elements of Zen were in turn bifurcated into other schools and doctrines. Ryogen encouraged the preservation of the “real law,” or Mahayana, against the lesser counterfeit laws of the Lesser Vehicle, or Hinayana, that of the pratyeka-buddha, which he likened to be weed-like akin to underbrush that cannot rid itself. Nichiren advocated ignoring the precepts because if an action is protected by the Greater Vehicle, it was justified. Ergo, we see the development of the line of thought that killing and war can be justified as means to reach a higher, nobler end.

In the end, what Demiéville demonstrates are numerous fine examples of how individuals twisted the Dhamma to create their own lineage and to justify the elimination of enemies. These efforts were rewarded and protected by the rulers and the powerful of the times. But to use these examples to support the assertion that Buddhism condones violence, that it rationalizes violence, is in my opinion just plain wrong. Yes, there are “teachers” and those who founded new schools of Buddhism long after the Buddha’s death that advocate, condone and rationalize violent behavior, but to suggest that these new lineages are correctly interpreting the Buddha’s guidance on such matters is weak.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Yes Virginia there is right and wrong

Within Buddhist circles, you eventually hear someone say that there is no right and wrong, that these terms merely represent a dualistic form of thinking that creates imaginary categories that are empty.

On one level, I believe that to be true. On another level, I believe such talk is total nonsense. And it is this type of Wrong Thinking that in my view leads others to conclude that Buddhism is amoral.

There is right and wrong in Buddhism. In fact, the Buddha made a list to show us that there is right and wrong. He called this list The Noble Eightfold Path. Because in order to have Right View, you must abandon Wrong View; if you want to develop Right Intention, you must abandon Wrong Intention; if you want to develop Right Speech, you must abandon Wrong Speech; to develop Right Action, you must abandon Wrong Action; to engage in Right Livelihood, you must abandon Wrong Livelihood; to develop Right Effort, you must abandon Wrong Effort; to develop Right Mindfulness, you must avoid Wrong Mindfulness; and to achieve Right Concentration, you must abandon Wrong Concentration.

That’s the Buddha’s rap folks – there is Right and Wrong.

These items in The Noble Eightfold Path are further categorized by the Buddha pertaining to how an item in the path relates to one of the three basic elements of the Buddhist practice: Panna, or wisdom; Samadhi, or concentration; and Sila, or virtue. That’s right! Virtue is a key element of the Buddhist practice. It’s what following the Five Precepts is all about – developing virtue!

Where the confusion arises is in the way we Westerners tend to view these terms right and wrong. While these terms are synonymous with “correct” and “incorrect,” when speaking about human behavior, these terms are generally imbued with moralistic tones that derive from our shared monotheistic background. Something is morally right or morally wrong because an action is considered morally right by the assertion that it is a directive from a higher power or that it pleases a higher power, and if an action is contrary to that higher power’s directive or displeases that higher power, then that action is deemed morally wrong.

But that’s not the way these terms work in Buddhism. Whether an action or other phenomenon can be consider “right” or “wrong” is not determined by a third-party entity, but rather by the results created by that phenomenon. The phenomenon is “right” when it results in the alleviating one’s own suffering, the suffering of others, or one’s one suffering and the suffering of others. The phenomenon is wrong when it results in increased suffering for self, increased suffering for others, or increased suffering for both self and others. And yes, the Buddha also spoke of morally neutral actions, actions that neither alleviate nor cause suffering for self or others.

Results are not always just immediate. We can engage in actions that bring us the immediate result of diminishing our own suffering. But actions set in motion many things, and there may be later results that lead to us suffering more. So while an action may look “right” in the short term, that same action may later be revealed to be quite wrong.

It’s not that difficult to grasp. The Buddha taught his son Rahula this when the boy was just 7 years old. But again and again, discussions about morality veer way off into the very highest limbs and the remotest leaves of the tallest simsapa trees.

Now granted, it is important for us to understand why a wrong action is a wrong action. It’s important to understand why it’s wrong so that we can stop committing that action. But not understanding why something is wrong should never hinder us from stopping that action. And even if I never fully understand why something is wrong, if I’m convinced it is by other reasons, then I am doing something very skillful by ceasing that action. I will get good results regardless of whether I understand why a former action was wrong. And for many people, that’s good enough.

While Buddhism is pretty simple, it is also quite subtle. While a wrong action will often bring immediate or near term bad results, the Buddha taught a theory of karma that diverged significantly from the dominate theory in India at the time. Despite the fact we may commit a wrong act in the present, we have the opportunity to diminish its continual negative influence over time through engaging in Right Action. While the Buddha, for example, told soldiers that by developing proper mental attitudes during battle would reduce the karmic impact of their actions – killing people – he was quite clear that the soldiers would never escape those karmic consequences. With the simile of the salt crystal, the Buddha explains if we’re lucky enough and have enough time, we can correct and change future outcomes for previous bad acts. He says this also to Angulimala when he tells the former robber and murderer to quit his whining: by suffering now Angulimala can avoid the torment of eons in a hell realm.

This is why I have lately said that there is no moral right to do anything, but there are consequences for everything. We may feel that we “deserve” to react to someone or something in a particular way, and we may opt to follow on our impulse or belief. As Clint Eastwood classically said in “The Unforgiven,” “Deserves got nothing to do with it.”

But no matter how we rationalize our action later, no matter how vehemently we seek to justify our action, our action creates consequences, both short and long term. We could, for example, feel great at the moment, but later feel remorse and guilt for years. Do what you will, but you shall reap what you sow. You are where you are because you went there.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Buddhist Warfare, the Introduction

A little more than a year ago I shared my knee-jerk outrage over a book of articles collectively titled “Buddhist Warfare.” My first blog post on the subject was prompted by the cover image on the soft-cover edition of the book, which I have scanned and provided with this post. I followed up with a second post further explaining my reaction to the book while at the same time admitting that I had not read the collection: rather, I had only read blurbs about the book as well as a description written by one of the editors.

I wrote the following in my first post: “The author (Michael K. Jerryson) states that the West has a faulty perspective of who Buddhists are in Asia and the daily struggles they face, and in response to these struggles, sometimes violence is employed by even the most meek.”

How interesting that a Westerner points out that the West has a “faulty perspective” about Buddhism in Asia, and that he and other Westerners are setting out to correct this “faulty perspective,” because by gosh, they know what they’re talking about. While one cannot be absolutely positive of one’s ethnicity based upon one’s surname, of the 11 writers contained in this anthology only one appears to be Asian. So what we have in this book is what is so common with European Anglo scholarship – white folk telling us how to understand the yellow folk’s culture and religion, all from a white folk perspective.

I accepted the not-always-so-subtle suggestions by some that perhaps I ought to read the collection before lambasting it and I vowed that I would. And I am. My intention was to write one post as a follow-up, but it’s become clear that, in my view, the content of this publication is much more complex than I originally surmised, so I’ve opted to write a post on each chapter. Having said that, I remain deeply troubled by the packaging and the presentation of this volume, a feeling reinforced when I saw the quote at the top of the first page of the introduction.

That’s right: I couldn’t even get past the first page of the introduction without heaving a great sigh of frustration.

In reading the first article in this book I realize that there is some extraordinary history that I am quite certain most Buddhists – whether Western, Asian, white or whatever – are simply unaware of. There’s good stuff here. But it’s beguiling because packaged together like this, one might reach the very unskillful conclusion that what passes as Buddhist doctrine today – or even hundreds of years ago during post-Buddha periods – is a bunch of hooey. And frankly, a lot of what does pass as Buddhist doctrine today is complete bullshit. Maybe that’s why I prefer to follow the so-called “lesser vehicle” because it is often the purveyors of the alleged “greater vehicle” who are handing out the most bullshit.(Don't misunderstand my bitch here. There's plenty of bullshit to go around)

I Tweeted recently that “I went seeking bullshit and I found bullshit, but the bullshit I found was not the bullshit I sought.” So it is with many things.

I frankly admit that headed into this venture I had a bias just as profound as what I accuse the authors’ of having. And I readily admit that these erudite ladies and gentlemen have spent a great deal more time in scholarly study of Buddhist texts and Buddhism, as well as Asian culture, than I have. Compared to their academic stature, I am a nobody. But one does not become a Buddhist merely by reading about or studying Buddhism, just as one does not become a surgeon by reading books about surgery. One is a Buddhist by practicing the Buddha’s teachings, and warfare is not among the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths, nor the Noble Eightfold Path. It’s simply not part of the practice. And yet, that does not protect the Dhamma from the Wrong View of others. So here goes.

Title and cover image

My first issue is with the title, “Buddhist Warfare.” Titles to any composition are important; they should reflect what the content is about. In this case, “Buddhist” is an adjective. By placing “Buddhist” ahead of “warfare,” it becomes the modifier of “warfare.” In other words, this isn’t about any type of warfare, but specifically about “Buddhist warfare.” This implies that “Buddhist warfare” is different from other forms of warfare in the same way that nuclear warfare is different from conventional warfare, that there is something about this type of warfare that makes it Buddhist. But when you read the contents of the book, you realize that is not what the book is about; rather it’s about Buddhists engaging in warlike activities, and how Buddhism has been corrupted to justify acts of violence. That makes the title inappropriate. “Buddhists At War,” or “The Violating of Buddha,” would have been much more appropriate, because such titles would also be connected to the general thesis of the works within the book, and that is to dispel the misconception that all Buddhists are pacifist; that a variety of Buddhists have twisted the Buddha’s teachings to justify violence and war, or merely to glorify their own knob.

My next issue is with the image on the soft cover edition. It depicts a novice holding a pistol. To me this is an obviously staged photo. The novice isn’t even holding the pistol properly. One could interpret from the image that the novice is in fact uncomfortable holding the weapon. But the photographer, one can easily presume, more than likely asked the novice to hold the gun for a photo. With the photo in hand, the publishers now have a “shocking” image to place on the book’s cover. I find such a scenario completely reprehensible. If I am incorrect in my conclusion, I would hope the photographer Brenda Turnnidge would clarify.


The introduction opens with a quote from 1891 attributed to Dutch Sinologist J.J.M. de Groot (A couple of brief bios about him can be found here and here). The problem with this quote is twofold. First, de Groot, like many 19th century European Christian ethnographers writing about Eastern religions, uses the Christian vernacular to describe Buddhism referring to the First Precept as a “commandment,” the violation of which constitutes a sin.

The second problem is with the quote’s context. De Groot comes off speaking as if he is revealing a dastardly lie of Buddhism in that despite the First Precept, there are Chinese texts that speak about monks who engage in warfare and killing, “leaving no room for doubt that warfare was an integrate part of their religious profession for centuries.”

It is reasonable for a reader to view these opening quotes as providing a sort of synopsis or insight regarding the theme of the chapter – what the point is. So it is reasonable to presume that with the introduction, the writer (in this case one of the editors) is laying the groundwork to show that Buddhist teachings make room for violence and condone it. This is evidenced by the two questions the writer establishes as critical to how a reader interprets the contents of the book: “How can Buddhist scripture be interpreted for warfare? And how is it interpreted for warfare?”

This, in my view, qualifies as a set of unskillful questions, questions that the Buddha would refuse to answer because attention to them diverts one from understanding the truth. It’s akin to describing one of those Texas or Louisiana Baptist snake cults and calling them representative of Christianity.

The writer I think astutely begins to speak of “Buddhisms,” recognizing that Buddhist traditions are quite varied and often incorporate rites and rituals indigenous to whatever region a particular variety of the “Buddhisms” arises. Understanding this regional variety is important, but what the author fails to impress upon the reader is that these various rites and rituals found in different geographic locations and which vary according to ethnicity of the practitioners isn’t Buddhism. In fact, the Buddha mostly ridiculed rites and rituals, approving of them only as a means to maintain social order and to develop mindfulness. On their own, rites and rituals are superfluous to following the path.

The author next brings up examples of how “Buddhisms” are involved in creating and fighting wars. But what is really being described here is Buddhists at war, not Buddhism causing or creating war. While there are many examples in Asian history of Buddhists fighting wars, most of these wars reflect ethnic and religious chauvinism, a state of mind that existed in those who wage the war, not a quality found within the religious system itself. (The obfuscation of what is really going on in Bangladesh recently is an excellent example of how religion is incorrectly identified as a causal factor for the current strife) If it is, it was added later by the particular group and does not represent the Buddha’s teaching. As the Buddha warned, unenlightened minds would corrupt his teachings. Just because an unenlightened Buddhist rationalizes an unskillful act doesn’t mean Buddhism justifies the act.

The example used by the author of how Aum Shinrikyo found inspiration in the Lotus Sutra to release poison gas in a Tokyo subway, killing many people, is suspect as well. Such a perspective would divert personal responsibility away from the actors and place it on the scripture; it would be like blaming the Beatles for Sharron Tate’s murder.

Despite this introduction and the apparent overall premise of the book, the individual articles are really interesting. However, they contain what I consider significant flaws as well. Which is why I will periodically address each chapter individually.

If you’ve read this book, I would welcome your comments, but please stick to the specific chapter I am writing about.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What matters more?

I’ve been visiting Boston and on Monday, I was hanging out in a Starbuck’s on Central Square drinking coffee and reading “Buddhist Warfare,” about which I will soon be blogging. I found a spot by the window and settled in to read and jot down notes. A few seats over was a young woman reading the Bible and jotting down notes as well.

She eventually initiated a conversation with me, asking whether I was “studying” Buddhism. She was interested in Buddhism and wanted to know more. I said that I was studying the book I had because I needed to know what was in it so that I could be fair in criticizing it.

“But, yes I am Buddhist,” I told her.

She appeared somewhat surprised and asked me how long I had been Buddhist and when I answered, she then asked what had brought me to Buddhism.

“Pain,” I replied. “Seeking a way to end suffering.”

She nodded and said, “I see.” She agreed there was a great deal of suffering in the world. I realized my response came off as a bit vague and esoteric, so I went on to say that “suffering” in the Buddhist sense covered a lot of territory, and included things like when we’re happy, it doesn’t last, or that we try to avoid feeling unhappy, we try to avoid people we don’t want to be around, etc. That, in short, life was a ride of sorts filled with ups and downs and in general was unsatisfactory. “We desire things and even when we get them, we want more, we’re never satisfied.”

That seemed to make a bit more sense to her, and she answered with how her faith – she identified as being Seventh Day Adventist (I think I threw her off as well when I said that I knew what a Seventh Day Adventist was because I had dated a man in the past that was one) – helped bring her hope, that the Bible stories filled her with awe and wonder. That was her remedy, it seemed, for suffering. So I asked her, “What if you avoid doing things that cause suffering or pain in others? Would your own suffering be lessened?”

A puzzled expression immediately occupied her face. “I’m not sure what you mean by that?” Well, I guess I’m not as clever as the Buddha, I thought. So I explained that the Buddha taught that we create most of our own suffering through our actions, often by adding to someone else’s suffering. So if we avoid doing things that bring suffering or pain to others, would that not in turn reduce our own pain and suffering? “If I go outside and call someone and awful name, that person might hit me, right? There are consequences to our actions.”

“Oh yes, there are consequences,” she said. “In fact, sinning brings us death.”

I knew where she was going with this, so I played dumb. “How does sin cause death?

She started flipping through her Bible and I could see she was in Romans (do I dare tell her I think Paul was a misogynistic kook?). She asked if she could read something to me, but I said why does she need to do that? I was very familiar with the Bible, having read several versions, everything from the King James to the NIV. “I’ve also read the Book of Mormon. Although I’m impressed that you’ve read some of the Koran because I am very ignorant of Islam.”

I could tell she was disappointed that I didn’t want her to recite the Bible to me. I said that I knew the passage she was looking up, that it was about “the wages of sin is death.”

“But what if I said to you that birth is the cause of death?” Again, that puzzled look. “Surely you can agree if one is never born, they will not die. So being born causes death. After all, there are people who do not sin, and yet they still die.”

“Hmm, there are people who do not sin but still die,” she murmured. “That’s interesting. Can you name some?”

“Sure, how about Jesus? And what about Mary? They were without sin, weren’t they?”

I’m surprised she didn’t bring up the notion of Original Sin. Instead, she asked whether I believed that Jesus had really lived. Of course, I said, I believed that he lived and he was an important teacher. That, in fact, there are parallels in what Jesus taught to what the Buddha taught. But I also believed that much of what Jesus said was manipulated by others for political reasons. “They needed someone like him, because they wanted to get the Romans out of Palestine.”

I also told her I had a great deal of respect for the Gospels, although the rest of the Bible I considered fantasy. Oh, but the Old Testament was filled with examples of prophesies coming true, she said. An old trick, I replied. Anyone can write a history hundreds of years after an event and make up connections and quotes to show that someone “saw it coming.”

I thought she would counter me with the belief that the Bible was written by God and therefore could not contain factual errors. Instead, that frown of confusion returned. She did in a round-about way ask whether I believed in God.

“It’s not important,” I said. “If I live a moral life and behave well toward others, I will ease my own suffering and the suffering of others, I will increase my happiness right now. And when I am about to die, I won’t fear death over things I might have done in the past, so my dying will be with ease. And if there is an afterlife, I can be assured of a pleasant afterlife because I behaved correctly right now. But believing in the afterlife won’t make it happen on its own. What matters is how I act right now, because that sets up what will happen to me next. So if there is an afterlife, I’m OK. And if there isn’t one, I’m still OK. I don’t need to believe in a heaven. I don’t need to believe in a God. What matters is what I do right now.”

Again, that pondering frown. I was prepared for a reply about facing the wrath of God if I was wrong about whether there was a god. Surely, I would say, her god was a bit more emotionally stable than a spoiled 4-year-old. Instead, she returned her focus to her mini laptop to look something up. The conversation was over. Just like that.

Later I began to wonder why she closed up. Had I created doubt within her about her own beliefs? No, I don’t think that was the case. My conclusion is more cynical. I believe she viewed me as a waste of time. Her interest from the start was more likely to evangelize, to convert me to her way of thinking. When she saw she would fail, she merely stopped engaging me. There was a time when she asked me what type of Buddhism did I follow; I told her the Thai Forest Tradition, or Theravada. She asked me to spell that and she did a Google search. Lord knows whatever she might find in her search results, but at least I can count on the Access To Insight website showing up in the top.

When I left Starbuck’s, I told her that I enjoyed our discussion and hoped the rest of her day went well. Our discussion was pleasant; whether I was skillful I’m not certain. But I always think that it’s a good thing when I don’t piss someone off and they don’t piss me off.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

We're running out

Adam over at Fly Like a Crow has an excellent post that is mostly political in nature in that it deals with Republican efforts in Congress to gut existing environmental law. But he also shrewdly points out that the assertion that Republicans merely want to reduce government spending is a specious one. But then again, when hasn't the GOP been specious in its talk and pandering in its agenda?

As a break, I thought I'd post the following Scissor Sisters' video of them performing the song "Running Out" from their new album. I chose it because it seemed fitting to what Adam was saying, that we are running out of things like clean air and clean water. And these are things worth preserving.

And besides, I'm really excited that I am going to see Scissor Sisters with Lady Gaga next week in Boston!

God, I sound like such a fag.