Sunday, February 06, 2005

Holy Moron Emperor; Or, The State Of Theocracy In America

I don't have time to do justice to the links I've collected, but still want to somewhat keep my promise to blog about the religiosity -- or sacrilege, depending on your perspective -- injected by Bush into his self-coronation speech.

But it's so late in the day, and I'm overwhelmed by crap (Ayn Rand's birthday, Hitchens's bizarre and mendacious argument that 60s hippies were conservative, James T. Kirk being a "neocon", Ward Churchill, and Cornertard hijinks) that I'd rather blog about that I can't be bothered with this anymore. Also, I need to start writing a paper for school this weekend. Time is precious, and it takes me far longer than it should to compose these things anyway.

So you'll have to imagine what (hopefully witty and literate) insults I'd inject between links if I had the time -- or, to be frank, the inspiration.

General Glut and Rodger A. Payne do the substantive forensics, the latter taking an interesting diversion into what Bush means by "freedom". I think -- hell, I know -- Payne's right about this:

Bush's freedom emphasizes individual liberty, opportunity, and especially ownership, rather than some kind of collective obligation to one other. He's not talking about community. John Locke, Friedrich Hayek, and Herbert Hoover would have been pleased as Bush is talking about possessive individualism:

"I own, therefore I am" is the paradigm of possessive individualism. Possession and possessing make the man; they also make him free. Such a person cannot conceive of existence apart from possession or the striving after it. Because ownership is the core of self, the person is not himself but what he owns.

Frankly, this is not an especially rich view of freedom. But I digress...

I like the puncturing understatement Payne employs, but au contraire, Bush's view is especially rich, just not especially broad. I know that's what Payne meant, I just thought "rich" was humorous and ironic. But, yes, this explains the cognitive dissonance of wingnuts in the sense that they think -- and apparently believe -- that Bush is for democracy when in reality he is, like the Chinese dictatorship, only interested in property rights, and is hostile to legitimate democracies (scroll down, though the entire piece is excellent) which do not hold that property rights trump human rights.

But, anyway, religion and Bush's renewal of what used to be called Manifest Destiny, the belief that God endorses American unilateralism, which was first promulgated to excuse the genocide perpetrated on the Native Americans, and then to excuse the blatant land theft that was the Mexican War. As such, Manifest Destiny is the mystical corollary to the credo of American Exceptionalism, which is of course the familiar argument by which American reactionaries, bigots, and the worst sort of nationalists try to weasel around ethical and practical objections to their glaring double standards.

Payne convinces me that George W Bush is actually a polytheist. Secretly he serves the God Milton Friedman; publicly and privately he thinks he serves Jesus Christ. Why, he's said so! And so the Bush legions, the freepers and Rapture-mavens, buy the whole stinking sacrilegious fraud -- a not so unpredictable phenomenon when one considers that they often buy Tim LaHaye's and Pat Robertson's (and Jim Bakker's and Jimmy Swaggart's) because all that Jesus talk is music to their ears. And it's not like Bush hasn't delivered for them either, so it's talk and action, too...

Now it's no secret that many -- Clarke, Sagan, Dawkins, to name just three off the top of my head -- have come right out and explicitly said that religious devotion is a form of insanity. I'm inclined to agree, but one is not required to do so to grasp an essential point: that there are religious people, and there are batshit fundamentalists. The latter are more numerous than commonly supposed, which should be obvious enough even if they were homogeneous, but even more so considered their tendency to sprout Cocoa Puff-crazy super-sects or what could better be called groupuscles:

A bizarre mental syndrome that has seen scores of visitors to Jerusalem become convinced they are characters from the Bible is the subject of a new art exhibition, reports the Scotsman.

The subject of the new exhibition by artist Nathan Coley is Jerusalem Syndrome , a psychosis affecting people obsessed by the city who start to preach and behave as biblical characters, from King David to John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary and Jesus himself.

Some start preaching in the streets of the city. Others display more bizarre behaviour.
(Via Hairy Fish Nuts.)

And to think that method acting used to be the exclusive province of godless-pinko-homo folks in Hollywood. Not anymore. And wasn't method acting's creator a commie-sympathiser and thus its practice is a sort of heathen ritual that one would think modern puritans would like to expunge from their faith? Oh well. But there's more things for the modern batshit fundie to pick and choose from on the Hollywood shelves: Braveheart-ness.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Movies like "Braveheart" and "Legends of the Fall" are on the viewing list for men in a growing Christian movement that calls for them to throw off their "nice guy" personas and emulate warriors.

The book which inspired the movement, John Eldredge's "Wild at Heart," has already sold 1.5 million copies in English and been translated into 16 languages, most recently Korean.

Eldredge believes many Christian men have become bored, "really nice guys" and invites them to rediscover passion by viewing their life's mission as having a battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beauty to rescue.

"The modern era has brought up immense conveniences but at what price. The human heart is desperate for something more than a quicker serving of popcorn," Eldredge said in a recent interview.

Eldredge calls on men to be prepared to take risks and rediscover their dreams but does not provide a specific route to find, for example, an adventure to live. Career, marriage and family become heroic quests rather than chains which bind.

He focuses on how men can become less passive and "engage" those around them, particularly their wives and children.

Oh Dear God. I have this nice memory of David Bowie, in front of a strobe light, singing along to Brian Eno's spacey synth. But oh no, these fucktards had to ruin it, and now I imagine it's Ned Flanders, decked out in a kilt and a cheap flea market sword, belting out in shrill falsetto "We can be heroes/ just for one day".

But they don't have to be as crazy as all that to fuck up politics in America and the world; they can simply believe in the Rapture:

They are the people who believe the Bible is literally true - one-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup poll is accurate. In this past election several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in the rapture index.

That's right - the rapture index. Google it and you will find that the best-selling books in America today are the 12 volumes of the "Left Behind" series written by the Christian fundamentalist and religious-right warrior Timothy LaHaye. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans.

Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre (the British writer George Monbiot recently did a brilliant dissection of it and I am indebted to him for adding to my own understanding): Once Israel has occupied the rest of its "biblical lands," legions of the antichrist will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon.

As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture. True believers will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to Heaven, where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation that follow.

I'm not making this up. Like Monbiot, I've read the literature. I've reported on these people, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you they feel called to help bring the rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That's why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers.

Here is Monbiot's essay which so moved Moyers. Moyers and Monbiot both expose the simple insanity of so many Bush supporters, yes, but they also point to the bizarre political alliance the Rapture has inspired: that of far-rightwing American Jews and Born-Again Christians. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I went to Volokh's awful site for another subject (if you must know, I was certain that he or one of his creeps would defend the naked Nazism of this essay; after all it's definitely the sort of thing that warms his heart), but was surprised, though I should not have been, to instead see many bytes wasted with a rhyme game and Volokh co-conspirator (aren't the Watergate images so apropos there?) David Kopel tearing his hair out in a fit of apoplectic rage over Moyers's argument:

In brief, Moyers argues that the American government has been taken by right-wing Christians who believe in the imminent Rapture, and for that reason look forward to environmental catastrophe... according to Moyers, right-wing Rapturists actually promote policies which they intend to harm the environment, since destroying the environment will hasten the Rapture.

Well, first, while there are plenty of leftwing Christians, there are no leftwing Rapturists (even though not all have such a Fuck The Environment mindset; just most of them). Indeed, this batty clique is exclusively rightwing, which to be blunt is at least partly the reason for Kopel's wrath, the embarrassment that comes with knowing that the clinically and criminally (at least in the ethical sense) insane are the reason why Dear Leader and the Republicans are in power -- and for that matter, that Dear Leader more resembles them than he resembles slightly more refined types like Kopel.

Second, Moyers is not without proof. He cites Fmr Secretary of the Interior James Watt, the political prototype for the new Rapturist status quo, who actually said "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back." But of course Kopel was too rodentine to acknowledge the point, and it only gets worse from there.

Kopel, being a perfect weasel as well as a tenth-rate debater, neglects to mention Moyers's sources including the afore mentioned Monbiot as well as an excellent and chilling article by Glenn Scherer entitled The Godly Must Be Crazy, which, among other things says this:

To understand how the Christian right worldview is shaping and even fueling congressional anti-environmentalism, consider two influential born-again lawmakers: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair James Inhofe (R-Okla.).

DeLay, who has considerable control over the agenda in the House, has called for "march[ing] forward with a Biblical worldview" in U.S. politics, reports Peter Perl in The Washington Post Magazine. DeLay wants to convert America into a "God centered" nation whose government promotes prayer, worship, and the teaching of Christian values.


Neither DeLay nor Inhofe include environmental protection in "the Lord's work." Both have ranted against the EPA, calling it "the Gestapo." DeLay has fought to gut the Clean Air and Endangered Species acts. Last year, Inhofe invited a stacked-deck of fossil fuel-funded climate-change skeptics to testify at a Senate hearing that climaxed with him calling global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

DeLay has said bluntly that he intends to smite the "socialist" worldview of "secular humanists," whom, he argues, control the U.S. political system, media, public schools, and universities. He called the 2000 presidential election an apocalyptic "battle for souls," a fight to the death against the forces of liberalism, feminism, and environmentalism that are corrupting America. The utopian dreams of such movements are doomed, argues the majority leader, because they do not stem from God.

"DeLay is motivated more than anything by power," says Jan Reid, coauthor with Lou Dubose of The Hammer, a just-published biography of DeLay. "But he also believes in the power of the coming Millennium [of Jesus Christ], and it helps shape his vision on government and the world." This may explain why DeLay's Capitol office furnishings include a marble replica of the Ten Commandments and a wall poster that reads: "This Could Be The Day" -- meaning Judgment Day.

DeLay is also a self-declared member of the Christian Zionists, an End-Time faction numbering 20 million Americans. Christian Zionists believe that the 1948 creation of the state of Israel marked the first event in what author Hal Lindsey calls the "countdown to Armageddon" and they are committed to making that doomsday clock tick faster, speeding Christ's return.

In 2002, DeLay visited pastor John Hagee's Cornerstone Church. Hagee preached a fiery message as simple as it was horrifying: "The war between America and Iraq is the gateway to the Apocalypse!" he said, urging his followers to support the war, perhaps in order to bring about the Second Coming. After Hagee finished, DeLay rose to second the motion. "Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "what has been spoken here tonight is the truth from God."

With those words -- broadcast to 225 Christian TV and radio stations -- DeLay placed himself squarely inside the End-Time camp, a faction willing to force the Apocalypse upon the rest of the world. In part, DeLay may embrace Hagee and others like him in a calculated attempt to win fundamentalist votes -- but he was also raised a Southern Baptist, steeped in a literal interpretation of the Bible and End-Time dogma. Biographer Dubose says that the majority leader probably doesn't grasp the complexities of dispensationalist and reconstructionist theology, but "I am convinced that he believes [in] it." For DeLay, Dubose told me, "If John Hagee says it, then it is true."

Obviously, Kopel hopes no one reads that. But back to his loony defense:

After a lurid and hostile description of the beliefs of Christians who think that a Apocalypse/Rapture might occur soon,

Nothing less than lurid and hostile beliefs deserve.

Moyers declares, "we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election - 231 legislators in total and more since the election - are backed by the religious right."

Moyers falsely conflates "being backed by the religious right" with believing in imminent rapture. This is nonsense. To cite just two examples, plenty of the "religious right" voters and leaders are Catholics and Orthodox Jews who are against abortion and gay marriage, and who rarely if ever think about the Apocalypse.

Like DeLay and Inhofe? The point, which Kopel surely knows but is too dishonest to admit, is that even in his "just two examples" (which are the only two examples, and even then he doesn't name names), the theoretically "moderate" politicos still owe their allegiance to however many Rapturists voted for them; Scherer estimates there are 50 million of them. Kopel would have one believe that the hardcore anti-environmentalism of people like Delay and their RR approval ratings have no relationship, that the campaign contributions and activism of Rapturists have no relation to the policies of the men they support in government, that the Rapturists would not elect one of their own. Scherer can set the record straight:

A good fundamentalist, Inhofe scored a perfect 100 percent rating in 2003 from all three major Christian-right advocacy groups, while earning a 5 percent from the League of Conservation Voters (and a string of zeroes from 1997 to 2002). Likewise, eight of the nine other Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee earned an average 94 percent approval rating in 2003 from the Christian right, while scoring a dismal 4 percent average environmental approval rating. The one exception proves the rule: Moderate Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.) last year earned a 79 percent LCV rating and just 41 percent from the religious right.

Scherer admits that there are other influences in the anti-environment stances of the Rapturist legislators, but pity for poor Kopel, he can't cite them because they are equally as odious:

James Inhofe might be an environmentalist's worst nightmare. The Oklahoma senator makes major policy decisions based on heavy corporate and theological influences, flawed science, and probably an apocalyptic worldview -- and he chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

That committee's links to corporate funders are both easier to trace and more infamous than its ties to religious fundamentalism, and it's true that the influence of money can scarcely be overstated. From 1999 to 2004, Inhofe received more than $588,000 from the fossil-fuel industry, electric utilities, mining, and other natural-resource interests, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Eight of the nine other Republican members of Inhofe's committee received an average of $408,000 per senator from the energy and natural resource sector over the same period. By contrast, the eight committee Democrats and one Independent came away with an average of just $132,000 per senator from that same sector since 1999.

Well isn't that sort of thing familiar to a Bushie? But then,

the influence of theology, although less discussed, is no less significant. Inhofe, like DeLay, is a Christian Zionist. While the senator has not overtly expressed his religious views in his environmental committee, he has when speaking on other issues. In a Senate foreign-policy speech, Inhofe argued that the U.S. should ally itself unconditionally with Israel "because God said so." Quoting the Bible as the divine Word of God, Inhofe cited Genesis 13:14-17 -- "for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever" -- as justification for permanent Israeli occupation of the West Bank and for escalating aggression against the Palestinians.

Inhofe also openly supports dispensationalist Pat Robertson, who touts every tornado, hurricane, plague, and suicide bombing as a sure sign of God's return; who accused both Jimmy Carter and George Bush Sr. of being followers of Lucifer; and who makes no secret of the efforts of his Christian Coalition to control the Republican Party, according to Theocracy Watch.

Alas, there's not much "Bernie" Kopel can do with this; it's too annihilating to his silly argument. So he gnaws in a different direction:

Moyers rails against the 59% of Americans who believe that "the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true." But thinking that all the prophecies in the Bible will come true--eventually--is hardly the same as believing that all the prophecies will be fulfilled in the next few years, or in one's lifetime.

Perhaps unable to overcome theocratic pride, he doesn't dispute the 59% percent. His next point is fair as far as it goes, but it begs the question, yes, but if they believe it, wouldn't it make sense to speed it up? Of course it would, and Kopel doesn't want to get into this for obvious reasons and not so obvious ones, which I'll come to shortly. So, instead, Kopel plays his trump card:

Moreover, at least some of those Americans who believe in the prophecies have actually read the "Book of Revelation." I suspect that Moyers did not bother to do so before writing his screed against "delusional" Bible-believers--or else he would not have twice given the book the incorrect title of "Relevations."

This is unintentionally hilarious on many levels. For one, Moyers need not have read Revelation to know that it's idiotic and evil for people to destroy the environment because of their interpretation of it. For another, I was raised among fundamentalists and I often heard "Revelations" used as an acceptable shorthand for the last book of the Bible. Kopel's quibble would even get him laughed out of the churches of the very people he's trying to defend. Of course since it's such a minor point, and he has little else, he inflates it:

Would you trust a writer who couldn't even give the correct title of the book he was denouncing? A writer who complained about Muslims who believe in the "Koan" or Jews who believe in "the book of Jobs"?

This is equivalent to a banjo hitter celebrating after a bloop single off of slowpitch softball hurler. Pathetic. So, his confidence sky-rocketing, he tries again:

Moyers writes: "The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who recently quoted from the biblical book of Amos on the Senate floor: 'The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land.' He seemed to be relishing the thought." To put things bluntly, it appears that either Moyers lied, or he made the claim about Miller without bothering to check if it were true.

Miller did quote Amos--on Feb. 12, 2004--not "recently."

So Moyers lied because he said "recently"? Okay, then. If this were actually a big deal, Kopel would try to put the "error" on Scherer, whom Moyers got the information from. I suppose he'd rather go after the more well-known writer -- and therefore the bigger fish -- but I suspect it's more because Scherer's work is so much more detailed and therefore damning.

To be precise, Miller was quoting Martin Luther King quoting Amos. Miller was lamenting a metaphorical "famine" of moral values. And so was Amos, in the original. As quoted by Miller: "The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land. Not a famine of bread or of thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord."

Miller (like Amos) was complaining about a decline in moral values. The words used by Amos (and quoted by King and Miller) have nothing do with a literal famine (or any other environmental issue). No reasonable person could read Miller's speech as pertaining to an imminent, literal, environmental famine.

Funny Kopel doesn't, so far as I can tell, link to the speech the context of which he's so certain of and is so important to his minor point. Zell Miller quoting Dr. King, huh? Really? If you say so, Bernie.

Kopel's triumphal conclusion is wrought with attempted snark which inspires several crickets to chirp.

I know I said I'd be brief but then I suppose like Bill Moyers, I'm a "liar".

There's one more reason why the co-conspirators at Volokh's were bound to come out with guns blazing at Moyers and indeed potentionally at any other writer who might take on the subject of the Rapturists. It, too, is one of embarrassment. It's that bizarre political alliance I mentioned above, between a small number of exclusively far-rightwing American Jews and Rapturists. I mean to say, of course, Likudiks, who are a small loony minority in their ethnicity; the vast vast majority of American Jews, unlike Likudniks, do not want Israel to be more reactionary, more expansionist, more theocratic, and more "Apartheid-lite" in its treatment of the Palestinians.

How could this happen? "Politics makes for strange bedfellows" is the well-worn cliche, but both at cursory glance and at long consideration, this relationship is too too much. Just a generation ago, "Christ-killers" was the first name a fundamentalist Christian would think of openly calling Jews. Nowadays it's not so out-front. But who would say after the year of The Passion that the feeling's not still there? It's just driven underground out of necessity, presumably until Jesus comes. As such, this bizarre alliance is not so much like, say, a (theoretical) SCLC-KKK coalition, but more like if Farrakhan's Nation of Islam joined up with the Sons of the Confederacy. Plainly, there's some overriding concern here that trumps history. Brian Urquhart's latest in the NY Review is helpful:

Critical discussion of Israel's record and its behavior toward Palestinians is often presented as an assault by members of the malignant, anti-American, anti-Semitic international community, symbolized in the hated UN. Such a presentation strengthens unconditional support for Israel among most evangelicals, regardless of Israel's policies and actions toward the occupied territories.

This point of view has become a matter of fundamentalist religious belief. Lieven quotes Jerry Falwell as saying that "to stand against Israel is to stand against God." The Christian Zionist movement, of which the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, is a leader in Washington, is "a block of conservative Republicans whose strong support for the Jewish state is based on their interpretation of the Bible."[2] Such beliefs, which disregard international law, generally recognized rights, rational discourse, or serious negotiation, fit conveniently with the kind of neoconservative thinking to be found in the now famous 1996 position paper "A Clean Break," written by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, among others, which advised the Likud government to insist on "permanent control of the occupied territories," as Lieven puts it. They do nothing to encourage moderation among Arabs and Muslims. After DeLay's visit to Israel in 2003, during which the Texas congressman told Israeli legislators that he was "an Israeli at heart," Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian legislator and negotiator, commented mildly that DeLay was not helping the cause of peace by "being more Israeli than the Israelis themselves."[3]

Scherer is already quoted above on DeLay's ultra-Israel stance but is again helpful in ascertaining how zany these people are:

So weird have the attempts to hasten the End Time become that a group of ultra-Christian Texas ranchers recently helped fundamentalist Israeli Jews breed a pure red heifer, a genetically rare beast that must be sacrificed to fulfill an apocalyptic prophecy found in the biblical Book of Numbers. (The beast will be ready for sacrifice by 2005, according to The National Review.)

It can be difficult for environmentalists, many of whom cut their teeth on peer-reviewed science, to fathom how anyone could believe that a rust-colored calf could bring about the end of the world, or how anyone could make a coherent End-Time story (let alone national policy) out of the poetic symbolism of the Book of Revelation. But there are millions of such people in America today -- including 231 U.S. legislators who either believe dispensationalist or reconstructionist doctrine or, for political expediency, are happy to align themselves with those who do.

Aww, a sacred cow. These people are so batshit they make Raelians or even the devotees of Ramtha seem traditionalist. But, anyway, the overriding concern is an aggressive Israel, an altogether other sacred cow; far more Apis than Daisy. Watch, for instance, how the co-conspirators try to sink their fangs into Juan Cole. Slightly more sophisticated than Norman Podhoretz who coined the smear-tactic formula that either one blanketly support Israel or one be anti-Semitic, the Volokhian instead uses other devices that should be apparent to anyone who reads the hachetry; regardless, his aim is decidedly Pod-like, despite how he titled the entry. At any rate, who are the moral criminals here? The American Likudniks have made common-cause with the fundamentalists, the Rapturists, who comprise the most anti-Semitic bloc in America that still has any political capital. That they do this, as well as frequently fling the smear of anti-Semite to leftists who expose their bizarre and nasty alliance, in fact actually trivialises anti-Semitism. Though I'm goy as far as I know, if I remember correctly, the Jewish equivalent of the black "Uncle Tom" is an "Uncle Sal", which the Likudniks have managed to become in the largest way possible. For the sake of Israel, Likudniks are willing to be used by anti-Semite fundies and Rapturists who are convinced that when their payoff comes, their Likudnik comrades will accept Jebus or die. The result can't explain the decision for Iraq War wholly, but can explain some part; it can, however, wholly explain the support for it.

So the self-coronation a few days ago is not just that of the Holy Moron Emperor (making Ariel Sharon, I suppose, a Doge) but of a Dear Leader whom many of his constituents hope will bring the Rapture and midwife the birth of baby Jesus who of course cries when Rod and Todd lie but more importantly is coming, in peace, to kill all non-believers including the Likudniks who are helping Jesus's pals hasten His arrival. Holy Moron Emperor (who at least looks as inbred as the average Hapsburg) will preside over an unprecedented attack on the environment, will dutifully follow the anti-U.N. joint sentiment of the Likudnik-Rapturist Pact (one because the U.N. doesn't care for Israel's apartheid, the other because the U.N. is the anti-Christ; in stereo with a shrillness that a Montana Militiaman only wishes he could manage), and make way for protection of Western property -- forget real democracy -- and then, presumably, Armageddon in the Middle East.

It is all, manifestly, a perfect fucking mess. But it need not -- must not -- be our destiny.

*Edit -- Whew. It just rolled out. But I really didn't mean to make an effort. Anyway, since I went that far, I might as well mention that the speech itself was written by well-known hacks who then praised it -- yes, to high heaven -- without mentioning that they'd help write it. See here, here, here, and here. This is an old trick, of course, first played by the quintessential nerd George F. Will in the early Reagan era. But naturally no one in the media pays attention, and these rightwing nutcases have the temerity to accuse Kos of being an unethical blogger.

I cleaned up a sentence and reworded a clause for clarity.

Also, I edited-in the NYR link and except, which I'd overlooked in my notes.

And corrected some spelling and typos screw-ups.

AND yet another edit: took out an unnecessary "the", and added an adjective.