The Conversation We Need on War

Refugees Fleeing ISIS Offensive Pour Into Kurdistan This is not a post I wish to write for a lot of reasons. Mostly it has to do with the fact that I recognize that my opinions here are not in line with the average American and that I have loved ones and friends who will and have disagreed with me in part or in whole. I don’t wish to insult, cause pain, or infuriate those I care about, but important issues do not benefit from pretending they don’t exist.

This all started, or should I say restarted for me with an editorial I read in the NYTimes yesterday which I urge you to read carefully here. It refers to the fact that some veterans really don’t appreciate being thanked for their service and that opens a whole can of worms for me.

Because this promises to be long, and you deserve to understand from whence my opinions germinated, let me go back to the beginning.

War is not something new of course but is as old as human relationships. As we gathered into groups, we inevitably? found war as the way to solve issues between groups. I question the word inevitable since the jury is still out as to whether we are innately prone to solve our problems this way or not. Suffice it to say, we’ve taken the easy way out, the simplistic approach since we began to record our lives as “civilized”.

I am of that generation whose grandfathers were eligible to fight in the “war to end all wars” and our fathers fought in the conflagration known as WWII. Those were both “righteous” wars by all accounts, fought from a necessity we all accepted. My father was a WWII vet and so was my closest uncle. I assumed, without actual knowledge that all of my friends fathers were veterans too. I to this day don’t know which were and which weren’t.

The generation of my father did not talk much of war, it was indeed their overarching psyche not to. My father did not belong to veterans groups for the most part. But the country did take its responsibility to take care of its vets very seriously. The GI Bill followed quickly at the end of the war, and that was accompanied by a social security law that ensured a decent old age. Unions rose dramatically in the years following and with them came salaries that paid a living wage, and pensions to bolster that social security. Veterans once in positions of power made sure their health care needs were met with Medicare in the sixties.

These efforts, directed at least in large part to show our thanks to veterans was shared by most people and embraced. Republicans lagged behind in these efforts, but even they soon were loath to not support them as well. Such happens as the result of righteous wars.

This is what it meant to “support our troops” back then.

I grew up watching war movies, at least until about the age of 15 or so. I had no particular feelings about war other than that they were sometimes necessary and that that men did some scary stuff that I was glad not to do.

Vietnam was “my” war in that I came to adulthood during it. Quickly we came to realize that it had none of the clean lines of demarcation. From the beginning it was mired in questions. It would take years if not decades before we saw it clearly. America had been on the wrong side. Ho Chi Minh was in fact the hero, and America had been propping up a corrupt puppet government that as usual was supported for “doing our bidding.”

We would go on to do similar if less costly (to us) interventions in South America.

I ended up by the time I was nineteen or so supporting draft dodgers and draft card burners and marching on an occasion or two to stop this war. I read books about war, Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead, and Aristophanes Lysistrata. Later I read Colonel David Hackworth’s About Face: The Odyssey of An American Warrior.

I was forever changed in my opinions regarding war. I see them today as but temporary fixes that contain the seeds of new wars, and that this posture is endless. I see them as the easy solution when we are not brave enough nor thoughtful enough to do better.

I don’t pretend to be a total pacifist for I recognize that unbridled naked aggression must be met with more than words. But at the same time I’m not sure what the standards should be for determining “just” war. I do believe it should be the last resort rather than the first. I recognize as well that no soldier can hide behind “orders” to justify his/her behavior in a war theatre and thus don’t buy the “war is hell, never question what they did.”

We live in a polarized time where some try to reserve patriotism to themselves. They do this by defining some rather strange things as patriotic. It ends up being words more than behavior in my opinion. Sarah Palin explained to us that people who don’t wear flag pins aren’t patriotic. That is surely an opinion I suppose, but hardly one I want to identify with.

Politicians all wear flag pins, and often spout the words “support our troops”. Plenty of people fly flags as if this is patriotism. If you know me you know I do not relate to any of this.

Borders seem artificial constructs of humans designed to preserve resources mostly. In my view, the future can only result in a remove of such artifices and the institution of policies that favor use of shrinking resources for the benefit of all humanity. World government must inevitably replace nation states.

Thus to me, reliance on archaic terms such as national pride and homeland and so forth serve only to point out our differences rather than seek our commonality. Supporting our troops, more the banner of the politician, ends up being nothing more than a call for a larger army with more armaments. I find it all decidedly unhelpful in a world that shrinks daily and becomes more intricate.

During my war crisis (Vietnam) we knew that most of the boys sent to fight the designated enemy were not there by choice. The draft is no more, at least not now, and so perforce I must admit that all soldiers are soldiers by choice today.  But they are far from being all the same.

Some are there through a genuine desire to “fight for our way of life and to avenge those who kill Americans.” I can appreciate their actual belief, however short-lived it may be, as heartfelt. One can, I suppose, thank them for their belief, however wrong it may be to some of us.

Some are there because life circumstances offers them little in terms of a future. Poor boys and girls find themselves with few options to a better life, and the service has always held out that carrot of education and training as a way out of poverty.

Some were raised in the tradition or not, but feel that all things being equal, this is a good career choice. And that of course is their right.

Others are there because the other option was jail.

I am told, but do not know, that in the midst of battle, soldiers fight not for country or “so that you don’t have to” but solely for each other, as the series Band of Brothers pointed out so well. Such emotions are no doubt noble and right to those who face death.

But since I am not of the persuasion that most wars are necessary, and certainly not these wars of late, I find myself in some quandary about what this thanks is for. Why should I thank the one who deliberately chose to do this thing that I do not agree with? For in the end, wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq arguably have made life here in the US more dangerous rather than less so. Simply the number who hate us has grown exponentially.

There is a movie I believe called What if They Gave a War and Nobody Came? It became a popular slogan during Vietnam. One must ask, what if? It might be that the government would re-institute the draft, but Vietnam proved how powerful a populace can be when it sets its mind against the will of a warmongering government. So is it not legitimate for me to argue that you have no right  to expect my thanks for doing what I deem ultimately doing more harm than good, both to my country and to untold other human beings?

Why should I thank you for doing what you chose to do for your own interests (which I may or may not sympathise with) and which harms what I perceive as legitimate goals of this country?

And who are you to complain of me? The ones who will most vociferously are those who wave flags, wear pins, and speak of supporting our troops. You are also the same ones who support your local congressperson in voting no for food stamps, improvements in the VA and veterans benefits and unemployment benefits. Yet, significant percentages of veterans need food stamps, and they comprise something like twenty-five percent of our homeless. The VA is unable to adequately care for the tens of thousands who return wounded or who like my husband retain injuries not obvious to the casual observer. Yet you do not “support” them in these tangible ways.

So please save your criticism and look in the mirror at your own failings. As the writer of the NYTimes editorial said, you can’t get off the hook for you utter lack of being involved in war by such a simple trite means. Face the fact that unless you or yours was an actual soldier, you haven’t suffered one second for all this killing, and you haven’t thought about it either, other than to issue forth your platitudes.

Some of us bewail this killing, and the victims are not only Americans but Afghanis and Iraqis just for starters. The list gets longer as we have to also bear some responsibility for the killing done by Middle Eastern peoples to each other because of our meddling throughout the region. And we sit in our homes and schools and places of work and dine on steak and watch football, and all the other niceties of life in America while millions suffer for what is being done in our name and in the name of those we support.

We have reaped the whirlwind and now face a group of men and women who have no fear of dying to bring about an ideology they believe in no matter how insane it actually is. And if we don’t come to some equally compelling ideology to counteract it, we will find ourselves ill-equipped to save humanity from itself.

It is clear what the war hawks are selling. It’s what they have sold since the days of Thermopylae.  The question is will we ever see beyond the spear, the catapult, the tank, the bomb and the sniper?

I’m not asking you to agree with me. I’m asking you to dialogue. This is the human conversation that needs to be  held. I am offering no solutions because I don’t have them. But I do believe that we owe it to our children and their children to make the attempt.

All I can do is promise a veteran this: I will honor every dead man and woman killed by war. I will vote for every improvement in VA services and benefits. I will do my best to find real solutions to hunger and housing, and will vote AND PAY TAXES to support public assistance to all in need. I will vote in elections to support peaceful solutions over war. And I honestly truly am deeply sad for your suffering whether it is apparent to all or hidden in the recesses of your mind. I will be a voice for the voiceless. I will seek to help make all boats rise.

We are better than this. We have to be.





The New Black Man on the Block

Dr.BenAnybody who knows me knows a couple of things about me. One, I believe education is the only sound way to move humanity forward, and two, education need not necessarily be formal to produce an educated person. Plenty of folks have done it on their own, and while harder and somewhat precarious, one who is determined will be educated.

One of the things that was indelibly imprinted upon my cerebral cortex around the time I was in law school, or perhaps after that hellacious thing called “the bar exam”, was the realization that some people can matriculate fully through nearly the hardest subjects imaginable, and be dumb as the proverbial rock. When I got to know lawyers who were stupid, I immediately concluded that there were an equal number of stupid doctors, physicists, and psychiatrists. An important object lesson when you contemplate handing over your gotten gains to an investment counselor.

As everyone who is anyone knows, Ben Carson, neurosurgeon extraordinaire, and compelling story of rising out of poverty man supreme is the new darling of the excruciatingly insane right. When Alan Keyes, Allen West, and Hermie Cain have stumbled while carrying Confederate dreams, Ben has jumped forth willing to sacrifice his integrity and soul for a chance to be “somebody” nay, the only-body with dark skin in the white party of the GOP.

I read about Carson well more than twenty-five or thirty years ago when I was a fledgling lawyer in Detroit and indeed I was impressed with his story of being raised by a single mom in Detroit. He was indeed a stellar image in the tarnishing mirror of inner-city poverty. So I don’t come to the party late as it were and as so many of my rather uninformed, Patriotic platitudinous Tea Imbibing acquaintances  have.

To hear them talk, Ben discovered both sliced bread, the true Ark and by virtue of his status as real honest-to-goodness hero, he has the creds to talk with authority on any issue at all. Being smart means you can be an expert on everything.

But alas, our Ben is but what used to be referred to as an idiot savant–supremely gifted in one area (brain surgery) while he is at best equivalent to a seven-year-old on most any other subject.

This is a man who, given all his education part of that being in BIOLOGY FOR GOD’S SAKE, insists that evolution is false. This is a man who equates health care for the poor to being “next to slavery, the worst thing that has happened to the Black community.” This is a man who today attacks the AP standards in American History suggesting that they more likely train the next generation of ISIS fighters.

Proving that he has not read the material at all, he falsely claimed that there were two paragraphs about George Washington and none about Martin Luther King. What really incensed him is that the material devoted time discussing the behavior of Americans toward Native Peoples, the internment of the Japanese during WWII and the vileness of Jim Crow. I mean seriously folks, teaching truth is so wrong when you are trying to build a nation of sheep who will OBEY their betters.

The fact that Carson has learned so well to obey his, is apparently his proof that everyone should be like him, so that, should some poor person have a certain gift, they too can aspire to be the puppet paraded around the circus ring to “prove” the Good Old Party of white indeed is an equal opportunity exploiter.

All of this matters naught to the empty-headed faux patriots out there who say they are just itching to vote for Carson for President. He tells them what they want to hear after all, and that’s always much better than the truth. One can only hope that one dies the sweet death of delusion before the house comes crashing down.

Of course, Ben, like all the others who pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, forgets all that guv’mint help they got along the way, as they dance the NO SOUP FOR YOU tap for the pleasure of their white betters who coo at them like the house pets they are.

Ben won’t be going far, though he is part of the dream ticket, I’m told. With Cruz as President and he as VEEP, the GOP can probably get away with at least 60-1000 years of never having another candidate of color in their midst. Sarah had her chance, so that’s one bird down and two to go.

The kids at Jefferson County Colorado who are trying to prevent their school from dumbing down and patriotizing up their curriculum have no idea just how wonderful they are. They shame millions of adults who should know better.

I Kinnah Unnerstan Thees Pepal

jesus_with_dinosaurGod knows I try.

But it seems an impossibility. It’s like Jesus is said to have said, to gain your life you gotta lose it.

To understand the Tea Party People, ya gotta lose your mind.

It’s not that I’m such a great student of history, though I know my fair share. Not so much the dates and stuff, but the general threads of causation. I get the big picture.

The Tea Party is filled with deliberately false history. I mean that. It’s “history” designed to support the meme of the party, however that might be defined.

Let’s start with the “tea party” label. Who is a tea party person?  Well, the Koch’s envisioned a “populist” groundswell of people who hated government. Why would they do that? Oh because they are struggling economically and paying taxes has never been popular. So the Koch’s lassoed that common feeling, and then fed the flames that most of the taxes were going to the wrong places: i.e. poor “takers” who were not pulling their weight because the Democrats had found an endless supply of voters by giving them “stuff”–like food.

The Koch’s were willing to accept that a lot of these angry folks brought a lot of ideas of their own about how things should be run, and since the Koch’s vision doesn’t include them every running anything, they allowed for their anti-gay, anti-free choice, anti-immigrant, anti-not-white, pro-fundamentalism stuff to play in the mix. The Koch’s themselves? Who knows what they think beyond accumulating all the money in the world.

So basically the Tea Party contains a collection of economic super conservatives and/or social super conservatives. They can be all one or the other, or some mix of both. A bunch of grifters always rise to the occasion when they smell a mark. And the folks like David Barton step up and decide they will now call themselves “historians” and rewrite it to suit their new audience of gullible angry people.

We all know from a lot of studies that have been done, that to a degree, one is kinda born conservative or liberal. The latest entries in this growing body of work are Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us, and Predisposed: Liberals and Conservatives and the Biology of Political Differences. No doubt these predilections are not written in stone, and environment probably has much to do with it as well. However, it does mean that we enter the world with a certain “world view”. If we get the “liberal” gene we are predisposed to be curious about the world, open to new things, willing to explore changing our minds and our way of doing things. If we get the conservative gene, we are more frightened of the world, see it as dangerous, think it’s best to stay with what has proven good in the past, and stick with our “own kind”.

When the extreme Right decided on adopting a logo and meme to describe who they were and are, it was no doubt comforting to align themselves with the history of the country. Yes, it made sense to see themselves as much like those brave souls who gambled everything to stand against the Mother country and strike for independence. They became Tea Party Patriots, self-described. They took to wearing three-corner hats dripping with tea bags as their costume.

Although studies do show that overall, those who identify as Republicans are a bit more educated than Democrats, this has little to do with intelligence if anything. It merely suggests that to a slightly greater degree, Republicans in general have more education. They also tend to be grossly more white, and older.

Clearly it seems to education has not served them well as regards the history of their own nation. One has but to remember Sarah Palin’s famous explanation of Paul Revere’s ride:

“He who warned uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh by ringing those bells, and um, makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed.”

While Palin was sorta right about warning the British (Revere was actually stopped by the British, and had his horse taken from him, and he did tell the British that they would make a mistake if they marched on Lexington, he this was not the purpose of his “ride”.), she added in ringing bells and warning shots, which have nothing to do with the story.

Similarly, Michele Bachmann helped us understand our founding by explaining our “founding fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery” and that our “founding father John Quincy Adams would not rest until he had eradicated it.”

Of course this was not true. Slavery was written into the Constitution, several of the Founding Fathers owned slaves themselves, and John Quincy Adams was a mere child at the time of the revolution, was not a founding father, and died well before slavery was abolished.

No matter that this sort of thing is common with the Tea Party, they also as we have said, claim to be of the same genre as those patriots. And this is odd indeed.

For if one were to conclude anything from studying that period of our history, one would conclude that the men who pursued independence for this country were anything but conservatives. They were men who were well read in the new theories sweeping Europe based on the writings of John Locke, Montesquieu,  and Voltaire, and scientists such as Isaac Newton who brought us to a new way of understanding the world around us. These men were not conservatives, but just the opposite, they were men of the Enlightenment, that amazing time when there was a burst of new ideas and new thinking.

One of those new ways of thinking was a serious questioning of theocratic and monarchical forms of government. Britain represented both, and those soon-to-be Americans who supported the conservative position were holding with the Brits were called “loyalists” or “Tories”. They were the conservatives of the day, while Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Franklin and those who declared for independence were liberals.

Our Tea Party adherents are not in any way aligned with the kinds of thinking that motivated the Founding Fathers. To claim such a joining is simply intellectually indefensible. Frankly I suspect the average Tea Bibber of today has no clue, has never thought seriously about any of this, and would be shocked if you tried to explain it. They seem to be satisfied that their willingness to argue against taxation automatically puts them in league with the Founders.

That might work if we didn’t have pages of subsequent history to prove otherwise. Those who decided to bring armed rebellion against the new country in the form of the Whiskey Rebellion soon found that the 2nd Amendment was used, not to insure their private right to bear arms against the government, but for the government to put them down as an illegal rebellion against a duly passed law.

I suspect this is all too confusing for the average Tea Bagger. It’s just feels better to wave “Don’t tread on me” flags and feel that you are in the tradition of such great men. Alas, that ship won’t float.



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.


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.