Amid All the Eulogies, a Sobering History

mandela-carousel-use-only-story-topNelson Mandela, died a couple of days ago, and the airways have been filled with tributes and analysis of his impact on the political landscape. Indeed Mandela stands forth with a handful of others of the 20th century whom we can look up to as real fighters for freedom and justice. His name is equal to that of Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Caesar Chavez, Lech Waleza in the pantheon of people we adjudge as heroes.

Mandela started as a peaceful revolutionary and democratic socialist in South Africa. The massacre at Sharpeville was said to have radicalized him and led to a more militant Mandela and a upturn violent activities. He co-founded the MK in 1961, becoming ultimately the ANC’s armed wing. He sought help from Casto and other Communist states in his struggle to help his people. After his conviction in 1964 for treason and his incarceration, he developed the present philosophy for which he is noted, and upon his release from prison in 1990.

He went on to become the president of the country in 1994, and today South Africa stands as a model of reconciliation between black and white citizens. Of course that doesn’t mean that all is well there by any means, but Mandela set the tone of forgiveness which allowed the country to move forward instead of devolving into a bloody war.

But most all of this is common knowledge. Today, the US, like countries around the world, are paying tribute to this freedom fighter. Yet it was not so very long ago that things were quite different here as regards this individual.

It is clear that there was no real desire in this country to come to Mandela and Black Africans in general initially. As was true in the 60′s as regards the Vietnam war, the impetus for change came from university campuses across the nation, as students challenged their schools financial investment in the rich industries of South Africa. Local governments in some cases followed suit.

Finally a coalition of Democrats and liberal and moderate Republicans passed a comprehensive bill called the Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986. The near-god of the Right, Ronald Reagan, promptly vetoed it. Back it went to the Congress, where people like Jessie Helms claimed that Mandela was nothing more than an ungodly communist aligned with the Soviet Union. In fact old Jessie led a filibuster against the law.

Other well-known Republicans who voted no to over-riding the presidential veto. Among them were: Phil Gramm, Joe Barton, Dick Cheney, Ralph Hall and Howard Coble and Hal Rodgers. Rodgers, Barton, and Coble  had the gall to commemorate Mandela after his death, making no mention of the fact that they had tried to stop the imposition of sanctions against South Africa to end apartheid and his very imprisonment. Present members of the senate who voted against the bill are: Thad Cochran, Orrin Hatch, and Chuck Grassley.

For the first and only time in the 20th century, a coalition of Democrats and Republicans over-rode the President’s veto and the bill became law. The rest is history.

No doubt before long, the tea party will “adopt” Mandela as one of their own, much as they have laughingly tried to do with Martin Luther King, Jr.

But we remember that the Republicans again, in very large numbers were on the wrong side of history back in 1986. Cheney of course says his vote was proper and that Mandela has “mellowed” since then.

Indeed, some Democrats were as well. Mandela was not taken off the “terrorist watch list” until 2008.

Some “modern” wannabe leaders are finding the going a bit tough in praising Nelson Mandela. Ted Cruz gave the obligatory tribute and was vilified for it by his cadre of insanely crazy followers.   It’s best we don’t forget that either.

 

Sins of the Fathers

racismMany years ago I was sitting in a college cafeteria at a table with an older woman who I shared a class with. She was German, and a good twenty years my senior. She had come to this country some years after the end of the war.

I asked her what it had been like living in Germany during the war years under Hitler. She responded, “we knew nothing of any of that political stuff. We were merely trying to survive, spending our days looking for food.” She changed the subject.

Little did I know in my naiveté that this was the “answer” all Germans who lived in Germany during the war years would automatically reply with. It was the mantra of “I didn’t know about all that awful stuff done to the Jews. Don’t blame me.”

Why do I bring up this story in a post about racism? Because we are still in our own mantras regarding race in America, at least some of us are.

If you talk to people on the far right,  what was once denoted as the “moral majority”, and today is surely the Tea Party, more or less, you almost invariably get this: “There is no racism in America today. Everyone has equal rights under the law. I have never personally done anything to a black person. That’s behind us. I don’t have any share of what was done ‘back then’. The only reason black people keep bringing it up is because they want to get something for free. I judge a person by the content of their character like King said we should. He was a REPUBLICAN too, or did you forget that? And it was Republicans who freed the slaves. It was the DEMOCRATS who didn’t want civil rights.”

My, such a collection of truths, half-truths and outright lies.

Racism is just not the province of those who did the actual acts that we judge as evil. And that brings us to Germany and what we can learn from a country that has intimately struggled with the evils of Nazism and all that that entailed. Germany has had to come to grips with those that bear the burden of actual guilt–Nazi and Nazi sympathizers–plus the millions who chose to look the other way, and pretend that they “didn’t know.”

Germany has had to work through the difference between actual guilt and responsibility. And it continues, no doubt to struggle. It has passed through the stages of children who must face and confront their parents and elders direct guilt, and how that impacts them as the next generation. The next generation must then confront how well that was attended to, what more and how to structure the country going forward.

Certain elements (the far right) wish to avoid all that. To be sure, it is in large part not motivated by an intellectual determination that “that was not my fault”. It is, I would argue, more motivated by the desire to eliminate all sorts of programs that they imagine costs them tax monies. It certainly motivates their desire to eliminate affirmative action which they see as impinging upon their ability to get the plum jobs that would otherwise come their way were it not for the “less qualified black” that steps in front of them, demanding the job to “atone for the past”.

That is as they see it, or choose to see it. Affirmative action is quite something else, but that’s another story.

There is a certain irony in their argument that guilt dies with the operative generation. Given that most of them are card-carrying members of the fundamentalist religious right as well, it is ironic indeed. If indeed the bible is the ACTUAL word of God, then of course, they seem to have neglected those times when “God” told them that the sins of the fathers would be visited upon up to the third or fourth generation. (If you propose that that all ended with Jesus, who fulfilled the “old testament”, then perchance you can quit citing Leviticus for the proposition that God hates gays!)

Manzanar-Neighborhood_blogThere is in fact a thing called “collective responsibility” and it is something not so easily swept away with cries of “not my problem.”

If we are Americans and that means something, then surely our responsibility for wrongs done in the past that have proven to have a lasting impact on a great number of others, does not end and did not end with those who wielded the whips, raped the house servants, denied the vote, and threw the hangman’s noose over the tree.

And we, or they (the hard right) do think that being American means something. They dare not deny that as they scream about how exceptional we are, and how God is specially favored toward us as that beacon on the hill. No you can’t have it both ways here. In for a penny, in for a pound.

To say that everyone has equal rights, is a nice legalistic phrase, holding almost no truth of course. Not when a Rand Paul, championing his white, right-wing version of libertarianism says he’s not quite sure that the individual business owner doesn’t have the right to serve whom he pleases, meaning that all those diner sit-ins would have been illegal in his world.

What exactly constitutes discharging one’s responsibilities for the past is of course the rub. We can and should argue about that. Germany certainly has. But Germany, lo these many years later, erected the Holocaust memorial, smack dab in the center of the city, reminding every one of what responsibility means.

200px-Holocaust_memorial_treeMore inspiring may be the “Stumbling stones” placed in towns and cities throughout Germany by the artist Gunter Demning. These paving stones, with the names and dates of deportation of Jews, placed in the pavement in front of the places they lived, are stark, and gut-wrenching.

220px-Stolpersteine_Frankfurter_Allee,_BerlinDo we have anything comparable to this in the US to remind us of our past? Toward the slaves? Toward the Native Americans, victimized by white genocide? Toward the Japanese?

Our list might indeed by very long.

Does a watching of the TV-movie mini-series Roots, amount to a proper “confrontation” with our past?

It seems accurate to conclude that we avoid really confronting our past in the ways that might lead to deep reflection, and thus result in actions that might be aimed at insuring that such never happens again.

Philosopher Stanley Clavell tells us:

if we are to acknowledge, and not merely know, the extent of our nation’s crimes, some degree of traumatisation must take place. Facts are insufficient, and numbers often make them worse.

We wish to “move on”. We wish to bury our heads in “it wasn’t me” mentality, because it conflicts with our current agenda. It’s not “productive” we are told. Ironically, the mere mention of race by our very own president, elicits cries of “I hate him because he has divided us by race”.  How acutely warped a remark, let alone the idea that someone actually believes it. It is testimony to the fact that deeply imbedded within the psyche of so many remains such seeded “other” hatred, that a African-American man cannot mention the word race without screams  of “cease and desist” and worse, “he’s only half-black”. What that means is almost too frightening to imagine, and not a single person who has said it that I have confronted has been willing to tell me what they mean by that.

We are and remain a deeply racist society. That discomfort for many, and outright hatred by some extends to all the “not white” among us, whether they be Native American, Hispanic, Black, Asian. It extends to gays, and yes, still women who have the temerity to stand up and demand the right to determine their own physical future. To deny it is merely to announce something ugly within yourself.

0602_teapartywhite historyDo read History and Guilt in Aeon. This site is simply amazing. Some of the best articles I’ve seen in a long while. If you read it you will see how much I drew from this for this post. Read it!

Meet the Original Libtards!

ConstitutionOur friendly Tea Party “Patriots” often tell us that they love the constitution. In fact it takes second place only to that timeless book, the Bible–the one God wrote to tell us how to behave. Probing, (as I am always wont to do), I discover that it’s not only the constitution that is revered, but of course the “founding fathers” who, as you know, among other things, brought us the constitution.

That always amuses me ever so much.

Sadly, it seems common to the PayTREEots not to dig too deeply into the mantras they are taught by Fox and people like pseudo-historian David Barton. If they did dig a bit they would find that their adulation is ironic to say the least. Barton of course would have them believe that the FFs were all deeply religious men and that they basically made the Declaration and Constitution tracts which God hopefully would  approve of wholeheartedly. The truth of course lies quite a ways left of Mr. Barton’s imaginative ramblings.

We all know that many of the founders of our fair republic were anything but religious in their leanings. Jefferson is notable for his refusal to believe in the truth of any of the bible’s miracle stories, actually editing them out of his personal bible. (You can see his bible with all the little cut-outs somewhere, probably at Monticello). The other giant, Franklin might be defined as a deist at best.

This should not be surprising since all the FF were the rich elites of their day, and were well read. And what they read and what inspired them (oh you must remember this from high school) were the likes of Locke, Rousseau and Voltaire. All were “men of the enlightenment”. You could easily add Isaac Newton and Spinoza to the mix as well. They were men who started to see that the world could be explained through normal observation and reasonable deductive conclusion. Some, like Newton, were men of science, who were uncovering the physical laws that governed the universe.

In all cases, they were the heretics of their day as well, rejecting the church’s claims that the bible was the only resource needed to explain the world. Some professed a belief in God, but not in the traditional sense of their day.

The explosion of new thought spread across Europe and Britain, and eventually to America where it inspired Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and others to reject the “god-given” circumstances of both colonialism and monarchy. They were “enlightened” to perceive the world differently and their place within it differently. They could finally conceive of themselves as in control of their own destinies.

They formed a government based on enlightenment principles of freedom, democracy, and most of all reason as the basis for rule. They ushered in the concepts of capitalism, markets, the scientific method, religious tolerance (read tolerance to practice what YOU believed, or be free to believe nothing). It was a movement based on equality and commonality and shared responsibility.

In effect, they were the liberals of their day. They were the heretics to the religious right with all their talk of reason and science. They brought forth a new type of government.

The conservatives of their day? They were Tories.

It thus is so very ironic to think of Tea Party adherents touting their love and admiration for our Founding Fathers, today. In the time of our founding, such people would have been sending their sons to stand with King George III.

But of course Tea People never think that deeply.

I can see why.

It is just too embarrassing.

Reading Between the Lines

 

 

The Contrarian often accuses me of being too partisan. Well, maybe I am, but frankly it’s very hard not to be. The clear and unadulterated fact is that all politicians mislead. The Democrats do it from time to time. The Republicans, on the other hand, do it as a matter of course. They seem so sure that their true intentions are so out of line with what any human would agree with, that lying is the only way to get us to “take our medicine.”

And believe me, medicine is what they are offering from their strange world view. I think it goes something like this–Rome fell in part because it let every Tom, Dick, and Harry become a citizen. They then fed them free of charge. They became entitled from their point of view. Rome became lazy and bloated with a welfare mentality and was ripe for the picking.  And they were picked.

They would claim that the US is falling behind in everything because the government and Democrats want to grow a nanny state, which is what Europe did, and look at the mess they are in, powerful and mostly bankrupt. We are too lazy, and we expect the government to provide for us, so why bother?

Okay, the medicine. Drastically reduce all controls on business and let it be a free system where the successful will rise to the top and the not so successful won’t. When business has freedom to do what it wishes, the economy will flourish, employment will rebound to  offer a job to all who wish one. Those who don’t wish one–not their concern. All government programs that support the poor? Slashed drastically or gutted completely. The only safety net is temporary and for those who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own.

Religion by the way, will pick up the slack for the truly poor who are unable to work permanently. That’s called charity and you should be damned glad we just don’t throw you into the furnace.

Of course, such a plan is silly, and misses the biggest ingredient of all–GREED. It depends on the good intentions of the business community, and frankly we see way too little of that these days.

Anyway, that’s my take on what they want to do and why. And that it sucks is why they lie about everything and try by hook and crook to win the day rather than tell the truth and let average people decide.

Take one idiot–Joe Walsh–a name not to be bandied about for long, since he is surely to lose his seat in Congress come November. His pronouncements become more outlandish every day. He sees Al Qaida behind the recent shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin. He calls the President “boy” and claims that Jesse Jackson wants to return all African-Americans to the plantation–which if you didn’t know, is code, for “he’s an uppity Negro”.

Just read that our favorite pseudo-historian David Barton, has had his book pulled off the shelves and all publication stopped because the publisher became “aware” that it was full of errors.

His newest book, Jefferson Lies, turned out to be just chock full of them.

Irony is sweet at times doncha think?

Aww, and Barton is always saying that the only people who disagree with his books are dirty liberals.

Speaking of crazy out of this world lunatics, consider Dick Morris, mouthpiece of Foxy Noise who is almost always wrong in his predictions but enjoys the drama so much.

Morris has a new book out called Here Come the Black Helicopters which he claims is code for attacking Washington. In this case he means Obama, who he claims will impose a world government through the UN if re-elected.

Remember that crazy guy who predicted the end of the world recently? I think he should pick the day after the election, cuz Republicans sure say a lot of bad stuff is gonna happen should the Prez be re-elected. Hang onto your hats–and guns!

Another paste eater as a kid for sure.

One could go on.

Endlessly.

Until the sun implodes and becomes a white dwarf.

Until Ying meets Yang.

But I have a Cobb salad to make for dinner, so that’s all for now.

 

 

 

Somebody Needs a Bifocal Adjustment

It always starts out the same way. The way? I was minding my own business.

As is usual, in the early morning, MSNBC was on. I was busy with house stuff (I spend all the day cleaning and cooking as a good housewife should).

The Contrarian was sitting and watching Chuck Todd. Well, more to the point, he was reading the “crawl”.  Suddenly this:

“My God has California lost its collective mind?” he shouted.

I set down my pail and mop, wiped my weary brow with the back of my hand, dried my hands on my apron, and tucked a loose curl back under my kerchief.

“What has California done now?” I asked in the usual innocence I maintain, hoping against hope that the response will be sane.

“Why, they’ve banned miners from using tanning beds! Can you believe that?” he screeched.

My brain went into overdrive as I tried to fathom what, why and, well, how this impacted my life, and where was the sense in all this.  “Huh?” I managed.

“My God woman, those people spend the vast majority of their existence underground! To prohibit them from getting the vitamin D they need, in a relaxed environment seems draconian at best and downright evil. The TeaBaggers are right, we are turning into a nanny state!”

I hoisted myself up off my knees, shaking my head, and making my way to the living room, where his Highness sat in regal glory with remote control in hand. “What in the world are you talking about? This makes no sense.” I sighed.

“Here it comes again, read the crawl. See?” he smartly pointed.

I looked at the bottom of the screen. Sure enough I saw it. “California bans minors from using tanning beds.”

“You damn fool, it says MINORS, M-I-N-O-R-S, not MINERS! I should have known. Only you could misread it. Now let me get back to dinner. It’s Chateaubriand tonight, you lucky dog.”

Ya gotta laugh. All the GOP candidates pretty much say the same thing. God called them to run for President. They resisted, they were noble in recognizing their own unworthiness. But God persisted, God will have his choices against all odds. Just ask Moses, or David, or any of the other poor Israelites who protested, “Not me Lord, you can’t mean me?”

Herman Cain is but the last to “answer the call.

I said all the candidates. I was wrong. One has never claimed God called him. Mitt, he still just wants it. He wants it so bad that it really makes you feel a little sick to your stomach watching him pander and plead. “Will ya like me now?” he asks as he wanders about the land, changing positions on everything, looking for “clear reception.”

Aww, dang it. Can’t they let our heroes be?

Alexander the Great? Well, yes, he didn’t get the appellation “Great” for being a pizza delivery boy ya know.

Silly historians, always doing stupid things like research and changing what I thought I knew about something and somebody. Geesh.

I mean Alex was tutored by Aristotle for goodness sake.

Anyway, a delightful review of the books recently out on the Macedonian wonder. Or was he?

The Grio jumps in with a good piece on Herman Cain, who is doing the bidding of the GOP, by adopting their racist rhetoric. Cain now claims that there is really no racism in America, sufficient to inhibit anyone of color who works hard.

There is a certain type of black American who actually believes this crap, they need to believe in their “self-made” status. Herm may be one of them, though it’s mighty hard to believe he can believe his own garbage.

Wearerespectablenegroes continues to probe the psyche of Herm. Not a pretty thing no matter what your conclusion.

Slogans are fine things. They are usually easy to remember, and make fine rallying-round points. But when slick, easy to remember slogans are used to address serious and massive problems, like the economy, you can almost be sure they mask a lot of really bad thinking.

Take Herm’s 9-9-9 plan for the economy. Please take it! Oops, sorry, I was channelling Henny Youngman for a moment.  Anyway, Think Progress lays out the real real downside of Herm’s simplistic panacea for our economic woes.

Hint: flat taxes almost always hit the poor the hardest. This one is no exception.

Talk about Occupy Wall Street. We got our own Occupation here in Iowa. That Woman won’t leave! Who? Michele (falling like a rock) Bachmann is desperately trying to remind everyone that SHE won the straw poll a few weeks ago.

In polling today, Crazy-Eyes is coming in a distant four or five. It’s creepy. She won’t leave. I can feel the state dumbing down by the minute. Somebody pry her cold dead hands from a microphone and send her back to Mina-SOTA.

 

Color Me UnPatriotic

If I was to run for public office, I would be accused of being unpatriotic.

No flag pins for me, and certainly no waving of same. I detest “American exceptionalism” claims, and the Fourth, well, it’s just a day for making a picnic meal.

If I ever was left all tingly by the militaristic fervor, it ended when I read Norman Mailer’s, The Naked and the Dead. Nothing noble about foot rot and malaria and dying in dirt and swamps.

Of course the first proclamation to this kind of analysis, is “well, where would we be if somebody didn’t agree to man up and join up and gung-ho it to Hanoi, or Baghdad, or Berlin?”

My response is, “Peace, you damn fool.”

They say I am unrealistic, and I suppose I am.

I listen to Medal of Honor winners (winners?), and I cringe. I hear the same story of valour, risking of life and limb, against the odds, furiously defying logic and common sense to effect usually a good end I guess–the saving of some of ours at the expense of some of theirs.

The cringing part comes from the same explanation for deliberately ignoring man’s first basic instinct–survival. The explanation is always said in a voice that suggests that this should all be self-evident. “Why, because we are brothers, and you don’t leave a brother,” or words to that effect.

I have no doubt that this little gem of military “truth” is drummed into raw recruits from day one, and continues in an unrelenting barrage until the unfortunate soldier hears the first bullet flying in his direction. Nothing matters in all the world, not mothers or husbands, children or dreams; it’s all reduced to sacrifice for the other poor slob in the foxhole no matter what.

I understand why the military does it, but I wonder how it is that grown adults buy it. Do they not see the manipulation? I mean the military can’t have everyone out there putting self first. And guess what? The other side does the same.

And wars are made, practiced, and as I always say, they set the tone, and foundations for the next one down the road. And good men and women die, and lousy men and women get rich, and mostly average folks, cheer our “brave fighting forces” from the sidelines, doing their “patriotic duty.”

And I just refuse to play.

This all came about by catching an article written about the enduring book Catch 22. Heller wrote it and published it in 61, after Korea and before Vietnam had really lit up. It no doubt was the book of the Vietnam protestor. It summed up the futility, the inanity, and the basic dishonesty of war.

I remember well the play by Aristophanes, Lysistrata, written in 411 BCE. The women, in an attempt to stop the wars that were killing their men, go on sexual strike. I remember seeing that play performed at an anti-war demonstration in  ’69 or ’70.

I was a child of the ’50′s and early to mid ’60;s, when we in our infancy never knew when the world might just go kablooey. We literally learned to duck and tuck and cover and wait for mushroom clouds. We lived for a few days with a knot in our stomachs as Kennedy and Khrushchev decided who would blink first, or if it was easier to end it all with a push of the button.

At least the Cold War seemed to my naive eyes, a noble cause. We wanted no part of the dark, cold, and soulless life under Soviet tyranny. But then Vietnam came along with silly domino theories and fighting in rice paddies when who was enemy and who was not, was not very easy.

It was far away, and the people seemed not like us, and not wanting to be like us, and people were dying by droves, and busloads, and it was all awful. And we began to see Heller as having explained it all, and war was well, hell.

And the more we read, and the more we saw, the more we knew he was right. It was all stupid, and it was the every-day kinda kid who was yanked from his bed in Iowa, where the breeze carried the smell of hay and humid soil, and the sounds of crickets and bees, and the views of rabbits and does leading fawns along the skirts of fields.

 He was yanked from life and thrust into death, and told to shoot other people because (fill in the blank with your favorite stupid reason), and he was scared, and dirty, and missed his 67 Ford truck, and his girl, and his mother’s cherry pie.

And he was told to forget all that and offer his not-yet-lived life for the poor kid next to him, who was fearing and missing the same things. And they barely knew each other, and they came back in boxes to be cried over by towns and families and it all just sucked.

At it’s been that way since recorded history.

And the candidates, and the politicians all wave the flag, their stupid pins, and “honor the dead” and demand that our vets (who are so fucked up most of them never are really sane again) get whatever they need, and they feel great about all that, and go on with their miserable sanctimonious lives.

And I’m the one who is unpatriotic.

Here’s Yawning at You

It’s Saturday. Did you know that?

It’s cloudy, and gonna get really warm and not too much chance of any rainstorms. I’ve been up since the crack of dawn.

Crack of dawn. What exactly is a crack of dawn? Does that mean when the first itsy bitsy sliver of the sun crosses the horizon? If so, then I wasn’t. I have a hill to the east of me, so at best I can say that it was grey outside, lightening.

Okay, that doesn’t matter. I got a lot done already. Did a load of wash, folded and put away, changed the sheets, did dishes, and made 23 ( i do hate uneven numbers) crab rangoons which are freezing in the freezer (what else?).

I’ll let you know about the recipe when I fry up some in a week or so for some stir-fry. If they are good that is. I’m thinking I might try spring rolls next. The problem is, there are tons of this stuff in the freezer section of the supermarket, but so far the crab rangoon in every variety just sucks, and the spring rolls aren’t much better. So thus, the doing them at home. I shall, keep you posted.

I was going to link up with a number of stories from Infidel753, but after reading down his roundup list, heck just go see them all. There are at least about eight that I would like to go read in full. He does an excellent job and you should have him on your reader anyway. He covers an extraordinary amount of material of all persuasions.

Don’t know if you saw it, but Jon Stewart had Mikey the Huck on the other night, and grilled him rather well on his endorsement of pseudo-historian David Barton. According  to the Huckster, Barton, documents all his claims, so of course they must be true. Huck apparently isn’t aware that most any thing in the world can be documented. The trick is in how much validity you can give the source, and moreover whether you are taking sentences out of context (something that Barton does to excess).

Barton is all about the business of justifying a theocratic rule in this country, and at least PoliticusUSA suggests that he wouldn’t be opposed to a return to slavery. Barton’s colleagues endorse a form of slavery known as biblical slavery, and it is just as vicious as that perpetrated in this country pre-Civil War. A good read.

Everybody’s got an opinion on the deal struck by the Congress over the budget. Most think the Dems got the worst, but I’m not sure. Others suggest that Obama masterfully got the better of the deal, protecting the EPA and PPH and NPR from proposed cuts. I’m not sure where I come out on all this yet.

I’m similarly distressed with the Middle East. We must agree, it seems to me, that we have failed in Iraq, failed in Afghanistan and frankly, we aren’t doing anything much right in the rest. Bahrain and Syrian continue to kill protestors, Egypt is in turmoil as the military tries to control the revolution. There is no end in sight in Yemen or Libya. Some days I think we should just come home and realize that whatever these people want to do, they must do it.

But then I reflect, that we may well not be us, had not the French helped us out in the Revolution.

I’m just so tired of strife and war and some days I just want to lament: “Can’t we all just get along?”

A very interesting post at Eurozine about Yuri Gargarin, the first human to enter outer space. Believe it or not, on April 12, it will be fifty-years since that momentous event. This article traces Gargarin’s life and death, and how the Russian space mission has changed over the years, and how Gargarin has faded from memory.

Roger Ebert weighs in on the one-percenters, those lucky few in America who have all the money, while the middle class merges into the working class, and those in the poverty column continue to grow. Worth a look at for sure.

What’s on the stove: hamburgers, french fries, and coleslaw. It’s Saturday!