Sunday, October 26, 2014
Okay, I give up. Some people are already planning how secession would work, such as Douglas MacKinnon, a conservative columnist and former Reagan administration aide who has written a new, book, "The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country...Now."
In the book, MacKinnon describes his vision for a new country that will consist of southern states breaking away and establishing the Religious Right’s political agenda as the law of the land. This country would be named, at least for now, Reagan. (Huh? Imagine that!) The new country of Reagan would consist of: South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. (Sorry, Texas, you're not welcome....too many Mexicans - ha!ha!)
I'm finally ready to accede to the desire of so many conservative Americans to secede from the union. I'm so tired of their threats and hate and meanness. Let them try it their way. More power to them if they can make that work for them.
My final capitulation to breaking up the union came with a Facebook post by one of my oldest and dearest friends. It was one of those - "Obama is destroying America, it's time to take up arms to take our country back" posts.
I responded by pointing out that we'd been friends for over 30 years. We've helped each other through tough times, confided in one another, shared food and laughs and tears. I found it exceedingly sad that if this revolution she desires comes about we'd be on opposite sides. She agreed that would be sad but necessary. I don't think she believes I am a deliberate traitor, more like an inadvertent one, because I just refuse to see the president for what he really is.
It is Douglas McKinnon's belief that the South should have been allowed to secede peacefully the first time and Abraham Lincoln illegally and unconstitutionally declared war to stop them. He thinks that couldn't happen now because in our modern era, the world would know about it and the government wouldn't dare. (Like the world doesn't have problems of it's own and would give a damn).
Of course, I doubt if the new country would long be content with only three states. Reagan may not want Texas but I expect Texas would want Reagan. My own state of Indiana would probably throw in with the secessionists. Soon, all the red states would be clamoring to secede. Us too! Us too!
I haven't read MacKinnon's book so I don't know all the details about how this would work but I listened to a long radio interview with him and he foresees Reagan as a theocratic conservative fundamentalist nation. I expect all the gays would feel compelled to move to the good old tolerant U.S. And all the women who want to take contraceptives and control their own reproductive destinies. And certainly, all the Muslims in Reagan would probably want to relocate and maybe most Latinos. Blacks, too. And agnostics and atheists.....and scientists. I don't know how Reaganites feels about Jews. They certainly love Israel so maybe Jews would be okay, although they were the ones who crucified Jesus.
They could get rid of welfare. The lazy bums who don't want to work could be transported and left inside the boundaries of the pussy original America. All their schools could be voucher schools. Going to church on Sunday would be mandatory. Men would be declared the Heads of the Household. Everyone would carry a gun although maybe they wouldn't need so many guns with a government they agree with.
What would the citizens of Reagan have to give up? They surely don't expect to keep their military bases and the soldiers that go with them do they? Those military people signed their oath to the United States of America. And the tax money they get over what they pay in to the feds (as is the case with most red states), that would have to end. I guess they could frack and pollute and drill and de-top mountains to their heart's desire. If they ended welfare and public schools and medicaid and school lunches and Head Start, oh, yeah and Social Security and Medicare, hell, maybe they wouldn't have to pay any taxes at all!
I fought the very idea of America breaking up for a long time. But then I began to see how unsatisfactory it was to have a large group of people who had given up on democracy and came to believe that if they don't get their way in every election, the answer is to obstruct and destroy and overthrow. That's not the America I remember or the America I want. So now I'm ready now to say, "go, then, if that's what you want to do." Better that than having or shoot one of my best friends or her having to shoot me.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Columbus Day or Indigenous People's Day?
Ah, good old Christopher. He sailed off into the vast unknown looking for a shorter route to the Indies, not realizing that two huge continents barred his way. Though it is a falsity that people in his time still believed the earth was flat, no one can deny that it was a courageous thing to do. Whether he was driven by the hope of a path to riches, the spirit of exploration, or both, he deserves credit for bravery and for sort of accidentally bringing America to the attention of the "civilized" world. He was a product of the culture of his time and tended to see natives as not really human or deserving of respect. As a matter of fact, he was equally as cruel to his crew. Most of our most famous explorers treated the people they met along the way with one degree or another of brutality.
Having said all that, if you think I'm an apologist for Columbus, you're wrong. I believe the states and cities that are changing Columbus Day to Native American Day or Indigenous Peoples Day are doing the right thing. Sometimes, political correctness actually is correct and now that we've had our consciousnesses raised about the horrors that Columbus' travels brought to the people who already populated America, I just don't see how we can continue to revere him as we have in the past.
In the 1400's and beyond, Europeans believed that they were favored by God so if they "found" a land, they naturally owned it. The natives, being godless heathens, were beside the point. If those natives resented their treatment and fought back, well, then, they had to be eliminated and/or rounded up and kept in what we would call today, concentration camps (always placed in what the white people of the time considered the most valueless parts of the country, of course). Genocide? Well, hey, they brought it on themselves by not acknowledging and bowing before the superiority of their betters.
That's how we felt then but surely, we can recognize now how wrong we were, how immoral we were. Surely, we can take steps to correct those ugly beliefs and actions now. It's far too late for apologies, none of us alive today had any part of it anyway. But it isn't too late to honor Native Americans with their own day of celebration for the contributions they made to this land....long before Columbus and his crew boarded the the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
I jump on lots of political posts on Facebook and argue with conservatives about many different subjects but if I had to pick one issue that epitomizes the difference between the two sides of the political spectrum, it would be gay marriage, as illustrated by these two pictures.
Liberals tend to be inclusive, content to allow people to live their lives as seems best to them. Liberals don't care if men love men and whites love blacks, as long as love and respect is present in the equation. Liberals don't use the Bible to beat people into the ground. Even when liberals disagree with conservatives, they tend to do it somewhat gently. (And, yes, I know if you search worldwide web, you can find some exceptions, but they'll only prove the rule).
Liberal Christians don't think Jesus would approve of carrying a sign that says - "Death penalty for fags" to promote his philosophy of peace and love. They are more into the "judge not, least ye also be judged" side of things, believing that it is God's responsibility to judge, not ours.
Even if conservatives sincerely believe that God hates homosexuals (or, to use their favorite term, fags) and homosexuality and it's their Christian duty to show people the light, hateful statements like the ones above are probably not the best way to go about it.
Conservatives use the Bible as a blunt weapon. They pick and choose among chapters and verses to highlight what they want to force the rest of us to believe, while ignoring others. While they rant about homosexuality, they leave adultery and eating pork and wearing clothing of mixed materials strictly alone. In fact, you can be an adulterer and they will elect you to Congress. Hey, the R in front of your name is more important than the purity of your heart, right?
Liberals don't believe gayness is harmful in any way. Most of us love someone, or maybe several someones, who are gay. We don't believe gay marriage affects us in any negative way and in fact, more caring in this often ugly world is a net positive.
We shake our heads at conservatives who believe it is anathema to be forced to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, when baking cakes is what their business is all about, I co-owned a pizza business once but we didn't vet everyone who ordered a pizza to see if their morality coincided with ours.
Children who are adopted by loving gay couple are better off than before they were part of a family. And why are they waiting to be adopted anyway? We know they are all a product of good old heterosexual sex and many were born to couples who had no more business having a child than the man in the moon. Perhaps they were abusive or addictive or neglectful or simply didn't want their children and thank God, someone stepped in to take up the slack.
And yes, I know there are gay pedophiles and gay murderers and gay alcoholics. They should be treated the same way straight pedophiles and murderers and alcoholics are treated.
Conservatives' attitudes about gay marriage fall right into line with their attitudes about other issues. Conservatives seem to live their lives in fear. Not only are they afraid of homosexuals but they are also afraid of immigrants and Muslims and African-Americans (all of whom they tend to see as thugs unless they are sanitized like Allen West and Dr. Ben Carson, Condi Rice or Clarence Thomas. (Colin Powell used to be one of the favored few until he stepped over the line into independent thinking).
Conservatives appear to expect to be attacked by these hordes of scary people at any moment. After all, they've already forced us to press "1 for English", can Sharia law be far behind?
Oddly, it is the conservative Christians who most often post inspirational messages on Facebook - like, "let go and let God" and "trust God, he knows the way" and "Put your faith in Jesus". So, why don't they, I wonder?
In the end, none of this is going to matter. When the Supreme Court declined to hear any of the recent suits regarding gay marriage, it let the lower court rulings in those cases stand. That means tens of thousands of gay couples will be getting married in 30 states (including my own backward state of Indiana - hurray!) And I say - onward and upward to 50.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
My husband did not come back from Vietnam a gung-ho military patriot. In fact, what he told me about Vietnam was: "It's all fucking bullshit, Vic." He also said that if he ever had any say in the matter, he'd never agree to a son of his (and of course, back then, it was just sons) going to war for a bunch of ego-driven old white men in Washington (and of course, back then it was just white men).
As it happened, that was a moot point because our son reached his adulthood between wars, so to speak, because I don't count Grenada as a war, do you? Although I guess we would be justified in referring to it as an invasion.
Of course, we've always kept our fingers in lots of pies, providing weaponry and training to various rebel groups in places like El Salvador and Nicaragua, assassinating the stray president. We helped the Afghans oust Russia and they appreciated our assistance so much, we became firm friends....no wait, I'm dreaming. Actually, they turned the weapons we gave them on our own kids.
Since Vietnam ended, we've gone to war in Iraq (now for the third time) and Bosnia and Somalia and Afghanistan (our longest war so far and no end in sight) and at this point, we have to include Syria. Not all of these were full-fledged wars but they all sent our soldiers into harm's way.
If we have to fight a war, and sometimes we do, we should let the original George Bush or Bill Clinton be our role models - in with superior force, accomplish the mission (getting Iraq out of Kuwait - ending the genocide in Bosnia) and out again.
I had no quarrel with going to Afghanistan - to try to get Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda- but it never occurred to me that we would still be there 14 1/2 years later, long after Osama was dead and al Qaeda was decimated. (Will we ever be rid of it entirely? No, and it seems that those who pop up to take its place are ever more barbaric and lethal.)
I honestly could never figure the rationale for Iraq 2.0. The justifications kept changing and as we learned that each new reason was false, it morphed into something else. Saddam allied with Al Qaeda - nope? Weapons of mass destruction - nope? Bringing freedom to a country ruled by a repressive dictator? Going by that we'd have to liberate half the countries of the world. Best conclusion that I could come to was that we'd elected a man (Bush) with a Daddy Complex and another man (Cheney) who with a Power Complex.
And yet, look what happened when we tried to elect a president we thought was different, not one of those old white egotists my husband described but a black man we thought would require the most extraordinary of circumstances to consider taking us to war again. After getting us out of Iraq (per the requirements of the Status of Forces Agreement signed by George Bush and Hamid Karzai in 2008), we're right back again. We're still in Afghanistan 6 years into his presidency (and we're going to stay there for at least 10 years) and now add Syria to the mix.
Can presidents really not help themselves? Can they simply not "just say no" to war?
And what is the justification? If the countries of the Middle East are really so worried about ISIS invading their territory, then let them form a joint coalition to fight them. Several of them have armies and air forces and sophisticated weaponry of their own and sure, let's give them even more....to fight their own battles.
Is it the brutality of beheadings? Yes, this is a particularly ugly way to kill someone but what the hell, killing someone is killing someone whether it be by hanging or shooting or throat-cutting. Our own methods of carrying out capital punishment sentences here at home are not all that humane and we don't seem to worry overmuch about it.
Sometimes, wars work. I would have to say World War II worked. Despite the massive loss of life on all sides, we are now staunch allies with Japan and Germany. More often than not, wars don't work. It took peace and trade to finally become friends with Vietnam. It took peace for England and Northern Ireland to lay down their arms. After centuries of fighting and rebellion, when the Scots had a chance to vote for independence under peaceful conditions, they chose to lay old animosities aside and to stay a part of England.
And when you add the particular antagonism between disparate religions, the hatred becomes even worse. If we ever win the hearts and minds of the middle east, it won't be through bombings and invasions.
Best thing we could do there is to advise every American to get the hell out and then, let the Arabs figure it out on their own.
My husband died 1989 (of lung cancer contributed to by Agent Orange) but I'm pretty sure I know what he'd think about our latest batch of wars.
Monday, September 22, 2014
And my all-time favorite -
Most people who know me think I'm a fairly even-tempered person. I'm slow to anger and rarely hold a grudge. Oh, I love to dive into a good political debate and I don't mind if things get a little rough. I'm usually ready to shake hands when it is over though. My line in the sand is so far in the distance I can barely see it but it does exist. And I think the Republicans/conservatives have finally crossed it.
I lose all sense of self-preservation when I reach this point. I once voted to strike even though the company told us they'd close the plant if we did not approve their insulting contract. They'd played such devious, hateful games with us before that vote that there's nothing they could have done that would have made me put my check mark in front of the "yes". My attitude was - "then go ahead and shut the son-of-a-bitch down". Cooler heads prevailed and the contract was agreed to (although management later closed the factory anyway).
I was almost there when the Republican impeached Clinton. I thought that impeachment was nothing more than a vindictive, vengeful attempt to destroy a Democratic president just because they were pissed that they'd lost. So much for democracy.
And then there was the Bush V Gore fiasco in which the Supreme Court got to name the president who didn't get the most popular votes.
But still, even after all of that, I tried look beyond it to be a loyal American. I thought that election was so divisive, the country really needed us to pull together as a united people. I thought, however it happened, George Bush was my president and it was important to respect the process and the office.
In the next eight years, I disagreed with and disapproved of so many things Bush and the Neo-cons did. I wrote blogs and columns criticizing them. I expressed my opinion in all the ways that were open to me. But I did not want to impeach Bush. I did not want the Democrats to get caught up in an endless round of grandstanding bullshit hearings designed simply to punish him because he, not we, had gained the presidency. I think not want them to try to tank the economy just to make him look bad. I did not want them to refuse to confirm his nominees to important posts out of petty spite.
In my life, I've had a few bumper stickers on my car but as far as I can recall, they have always been for something or someone, not against them. In the eight, in my opinion, disastrous years of Bush/Cheney, I never put a bumper sticker on my car that accused my friends and neighbors who voted for Bush of being stupid.
So, finally, those long eight Bush years were over and we Democrats were back in the White House. Granted, we were still at war in two places (that we weren't paying for) and the bankers had almost destroyed the economy and the deficit was still growing and we were still losing jobs but the party of grown ups was back in control so things had to get better and they did. We began to create jobs, the deficit began to go down, the stock market began to go up, foreclosures began to slow, one war was over and another would be soon, It was a slow process but all signs pointed up.
And what have we had from the Republicans during this time? Millions of dollars spent on worthless hearings, most particularly their Benghazi Obsession. Millions of dollars spent on 63 hopeless votes to repeal Obamacare. Government shutdowns, fiscal cliffs, threatened default, debt ceilings, sequester, a record-setting number of filibusters, a refusal to confirm even the most eminently qualified nominees, leaving us without ambassadors in critical countries like Guatemala, Syria and even RUSSIA, for God's sake! An unwillingness to cooperate on even such matters as freaking crucial as immigration, war and climate change.
And running counterpoint to all this congressional obstruction were the poisonous assertions about the president not being an American, not being a Christian, being a Muslim sympathizer, being a traitor and the implication that those of us who voted for him must be traitors and/or morons, ourselves. And impeachment, yes, impeachment again. Not having learned their lesson with Clinton, they seem bound to do it again with Obama and I believe they will impeach him if they win the Senate in 2014.
Always before, I've been of the belief that we couldn't let them drag us down to their level. We couldn't retaliate in kind. Jesus, what would happen to the country if both parties threw themselves on the floor in a tantrum and held their breath until they turned blue? No, we had to continue to be the people of commonsense and concern for the common good.
But I'm not really sure I can do that anymore. I may have passed my point of no return. The next time a Republican is elected president (and I assume they will eventually win another election), maybe I'll put vile bumper stickers on my car. Maybe I'll encourage my representatives to stonewall him (or her) at every step, even if I think the proposed policies might be positive ones. Maybe I'll post nasty cartoons on Facebook showing "their" president as a dog turd. Maybe I'll tell my friends and neighbors that they are imbeciles if they voted for the Republican, or even worse, traitors. Maybe I'll object to every nominee he puts forth, even the honorable ones who deserve to be confirmed.
I think they count on us to always be the level-headed ones but I don't feel very level-headed right now. I think I'm in the mood to strike even if that means shutting the son-of-a-bitch down.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I don't see how anyone who pays any attention to the world around them could not be a manic-depressive.
I just watched the most incredible National Geographic video - beautifully illustrating some of the myriad wonders of this earth. How could human beings not consider themselves unbelievably fortunate to live on this awesome planet? How could they not work tirelessly to protect it and its creatures from harm? When I see things like this, I'm amazed and joyful.
But then I move on to the news of the day and I see how taking care of the earth is really the least of mankind's concerns. We are more caught up in war and hatred and killing as we have been since our arrival on this planet, whenever that was. And this is so even though we've seen that past wars and hatred and killing have solved nothing.
We are obsessed with profit and cheap energy even at the risk of destroying our own environment. Climate change? Pretend it isn't so despite 97 percent of scientists declaring, ever more urgently, that it is. Giant pipelines of sludgy oil crossing under our lands and over our aquifers? Fine. Drilling in sensitive ecologies like the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic? Fine. Fracking despite earthquakes and despoiled water? Fine. Bulldozing down whole mountains to get at the resources they contain. Fine. Driving wolves and wild horses from their habitat because we want it? Fine.
It always seemed to me that our Creator, if there was a Creator, and the Earth and the solar system and all the solar systems argue with the perfection of their symbiosis that there must be intelligence behind them, was on a roll until he/she/it created man. That was one step too far.
Yes, there are the rescuers and the sacrificers and the caring but they are over-shadowed by their opposites. We who want to save the rain forests and the tigers and the whales and yes, the spotted owls and snail darters too (because who knows what purposes they serve in a Creator's eye?) are always fighting a rear guard action. We try to rescue a few dogs and cats out of the millions that are sent to shelters to be euthanized. The Rainbow Warrior is a feeble force defying entire governments owned by the rich who profit from killing whales. The Native Americans who are protesting the Keystone Pipeline coming through their lands don't stand a chance against the Koch Brothers and their ilk.
And meanwhile the wars go on unabated - Jew against Palestinian - Shia against Sunni - African tribes whose names I don't even know again other African tribes whose names I don't even know - bitter Russia against its former satellites. Conservatives against Liberals.
The world is filled with refugee camps, the human detritus of our loathing of one another. And speaking directly to America, the kindest and best country on earth, as we think of ourselves, what do WE do when faced with refugee children from gang and drug and war-torn countries? Many of us stand beside their buses with signs and screams saying, "go away, you're not welcome here!"
We humans cannot only not get along with our own kind, we cannot get along with our own families. (See: NFL for the most recent examples). Both governmentally and personally, as a country, our weapons are our most prized possessions, even above our children.
We think our religions, our morals, our ethics raise us above the animals and yet no other species comes close to being the monstrous plunderers, pillagers and predators that we are. Even many of us, who would never rape and maim and kill ourselves, stand silently by as others do it in our name. If our clothes are made by slave labor in China, well, hey, that shirt was a dollar cheaper at Walmart. If many of our farm products come from factory farms that keep livestock in horrendous conditions, as if they weren't living creatures of blood and bone and muscle that can feel pain, it's just the way it is, I can't do anything about it.
And that's the point. No, you can't but we can. United, we could stop it all if we cared enough. I'm 68 years old and I've always wanted to believe that man is on an ever evolving upward path. Progress might be slow but it exists. But looking around the world today, I think I might have been wrong.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Even now, with Russia invading Ukraine and ISIS beheading American journalists, the Republicans can't force themselves to present a united American front if it means standing with Barack Obama. While the president bombs and send air strikes and extends sanctions and meets with foreign leaders and NATO to try to devise the best possible strategy for coping with the increasingly violent goings on in Europe and the Middle East, Republican leaders, and I use that term very loosely, sit in their districts and twiddle their thumbs....unless, of course, they are on the Sunday shows complaining about what Obama is doing without offering any plausible ideas of their own.
Rand Paul now thinks (after much willy-wawing on this issue) that we must destroy ISIS: “If I were President, I would call a joint session of Congress, I would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily.”
So far as I know, there is nothing to prevent the leadership of Congress from getting together and calling themselves into a joint (or extra) session if that's what they want to do. But do you sense them chaffing at the bit to take a vote on giving the President authorization to "destroy ISIS militarily"?
No, what they really want is for Obama to go ahead and do it, then they can scream that he made the decision extra-constitutionally and crucify him if it doesn't work out perfectly (which, of course, it wouldn't because war never does.)
John McCain and Lindsay Graham wrote an op-ed in the New York Times. Well, they would, wouldn't they? They've never not put their 2 cents (and that's about what their opinions are worth) in on any issue. They want to go to war in both Syria and Iraq but those are easy decisions to make when they are just words in a newspaper. And it's safe for them to say whatever they want because no one ever holds them accountable for all the wrong predictions they've made in the past. Has John McCain really thought out that he'd be going against some of the old buds he urged the president to arm in the not-too-distant past. Old buds like some now in ISIS.....like these guys?
Not to worry. I'm sure he'll remain the pet of the Sunday talk shows.
Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, recently said - “I am in support of going in and not sitting back, but creating a strategy of where we go, And if the president won’t act, I think we have to take some action to move forward.”
Good, Kevin, because I think Obama would love for you to do just that and give him some cover, just the way our laws state that it should work. You know, the Executive and Legislative branches being a partnership and all when matters of American security are involved.
Sen. Ted Cruz rallied the conservative faithful at the Defending the American Dream Summit in Dallas on Saturday, saying that the U.S. should bomb the Islamic State (ISIS) "back to the Stone Age" for beheading American journalist James Foley.
He illustrated Putin's influence another way at the start of his speech: "Back in Washington, there's a diet that is now very, very popular. It's called 'The Obama Diet.' It works very, very well. You simply let Putin eat your lunch every day."