Sunday, October 26, 2014

Secession, Yes!


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

Sorry, Chris, Your Day Has Passed.


 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

Put Your Money Where Your Mouths Are, Conservatives


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

When Will We Ever Learn?

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 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 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.