Archive for August, 2012

Washington beltway blinders

August 29, 2012

We all have blinders on, of some kind or other. We cannot discern what our individual or cliquish blind-spots really are, because they are, you know, blind spots. Today I have understood, more completely, the myopia of the  “inside-the-Washington-beltway” crowd and its politically-obsessed culture. Americans out in the heartland do not view our national agenda the same way that Washington insiders see it.

I greatly appreciate Diane Rehm, and her very informative roundtable discussions, which are broadcast through NPR from WAMU in Washington. Almost every day, I gain helpful perspective and insight while listening to her wonkish guests as they analyze timely topics. I enjoy the show.

http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2012-08-29/update-republican-convention

But this morning was a rude awakening when I compared her selected panel’s discussion to what I had seen and heard the previous night night on CNN’s straight-on, commentary-free, online live coverage of the speakers at the Republican convention.

Tuesday night’s convention session was the night of speeches by, among many notable presenters, Ann Romney and Chris Christie. I was deeply moved by watching/ hearing the personal messages of each and every uniquely passionate speaker.  Their collective, carefully-coordinated message of personal responsibility and energetic small business exuberance is absolutely what our lethargic, government-dependent society needs to hear.

But on the next day– this Wednesday morning– Mr. Elving, Mr. Rothenberg, and Mr Cilizza displayed, in their morning-after commentary, a perfect example of the jaded inside-the-Washington-beltway mentality. It is an habitual mindset that offers precious little comprehension of the real problems with which our citizenry grapple every day.

The panelists’ beltway tunnel vision limits their banter to an obsessive superficiality, centered on who is catching the most of the political limelight.  The so-called “horse-race” of party luminaries is their focus, instead of actual comprehension and reporting on what message is being conveyed.

So I will tell you, in case you missed it, what the Republicans said, very convincingly and collaboratively, on Tuesday night:

We Americans do not define ourselves in terms of our relationship with a government that has “built” the USA. The government has not “built it.”  Rather, We the People of the United States, have built it, and every thing in “it.” The government is the servant of all, not the master. Our identity is tied deeply to our own initiative. Our sustainability is intimately linked to own resolve to accept, and master, the challenges of our age. Thus do we invent, design, define, perform and manufacture products/ services necessary to meet the demands of American excellence and prosperity.

And most important of all: God bless America.

Glass half-Full

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We Built It

August 28, 2012

We built it.

We are still building it.

We will build it: United States of America

Glass half-Full

Show me a Man with Courage

August 22, 2012

. . .And I’ll show you Todd Akin.

Show me a man who is willing to let the people of his home state render a verdict on his leadership potential;

show me a man who refuses to be bullied by power-obsessed politicians of both parties;

show me a man who is not intimidated by manipulative nitpicking media wonks;

show me a man who is humble enough to publicly apologize;

show me a man who is a little bit naive, a man who still has, like me and thee, a few lessons to learn;

show me a man who can gracefully accept those lessons while serving the people of his constituency;

Show me a state of people who will elect a Senator who rejects the dodgy, sound-bite-spurting equivocation of most politicians,

and I’ll show you Missouri, home of Harry Truman and Todd Akin.

O Missouri! show us a man of courage!

And another thing while I’ve got you here. . .

Show me a man that’s got a good woman

(http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xcz2o5_joe-tex-show-me-live_music)

and I’ll show you a man who loves his woman instead of rape crimes.

 

Glass half-Full

Who’s got the Work?

August 15, 2012

In the predictable dialectic of American politics, the federal outcome is a burgeoning synthesis of the two parties.

Republicans like to trickle wealth down from the top, while Democrats prefer to spread it broadly from the bottom up. I think the GOP strategy is more consistent with the habitual, historical inclinations of the human race, and is therefore probably more effective. Whereas the Demo approach requires more social engineering and bureaucratic effluence.

Affluence vs. effluence is what we’re talking about here in America.

Whether the statist Dems win the day in November, or the individualist Repubs gain the advantage, there is only so much that either administration can do to make an impact on the way things happen.

Our great ship of State is so massive that it just about takes three or four years to get the thing directed in a different direction from where it was headed before all the elocutionary hoopla.

So whether the Repubs or the Dems prevail in November, I’ll work along with the victors, and try to do what’s best for me and mine, by whatever resources are sent down the pike, or up it, as the case may be.

I of plan to vote for Romney/Ryan, because I want to see our great vessel veer toward less interference for people who are trying to earn a living in this difficult economy. The sad state in which we find our great economic machine is, by the way, nobody’s fault. It is what it is, a function of  both our collective genius and  habitual dysfunction.

I want to see in the days ahead an official encouragement for those of us who are inclined toward less, not more, dependence on the obese nanny state. This is what I think we need just now.

Nevertheless, We the people will choose in November which way this barge lollygags through the next four years. After the dust settles, what’s most important is that we pull together as Americans to get this beached barge back out into the channel of commerce. It could be that the very survival of our nation depends mightily on us working together, with emphasis on that word: working.

What is “working” anyway?

Working means you and me finding finding something that needs to be done and doing it, or finding something that you can do well, and doing it, whether or not you are being paid what you think you are worth, because times are hard.

Therefore I say, to all ye citizens of this great United States of America, certainly don’t forget to vote. But more importantly, find something to do that will benefit you, your family, or your community. If you are unemployed, or if you are underemployed, you will do yourself and all the rest of us a big favor by doing something productive today, instead of languishing on the couch with a video or a six-pack or a jagged little pill.

You got to go out and git it; it ain’t gon’ come to you, as my friend Stacey says.  Don’t wait for the government of anyone else to lay it at your doorstep.  Stay busy, and together we’ll get this thing up and running again.

There’s only so much the politicians and the corporatists can do for you. Really, when you get right down to it, the future of this nation depends on you, and me.

So get busy.

Glass half-Full

To the neo-nazis and other hatists:

August 9, 2012

Listen to this:

“Blessed are the gentle; for they shall inherit the earth.”

“Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called sons of God.”

On this basis, the followers of Jesus, such as I am, can know with surety that our Redeemer will never endorse– nor will his faithful disciples ever rightfully defend –the murderous acts of neo-nazis and other hateful pretenders who, being deceived by the devil, claim allegiance to some mythical, self-appointed  “white Christian nation.”

For the Lord of our created life has redeemed: homo sapiens of every tribe, of every language-group, of every ethnicity and every nation.

So therefore we, gentle, peacemaking followers of Christ, say– as our Lord spoke when He taught us:

“Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted.”

This blessing goes to  the Sikhs in Wisconsin who mourn their slain loved ones.

This Christian mourns with you.

Know that our God will judge those who claim to speak or act in his name, but do not know Him.

 

Glass half-Full

Ghosts of Civil War, Spain 1936

August 5, 2012

My current study of history during the years 1936-1938 has revealed an alarming similarity between the Spanish Civil War of that era and the present civil war in Syria today.

During the 1930s, the nation of Spain was dragging itself out of its deep, dark past, into the perilous, polarizing politics of 20th-century Europe. But the two main ideological forces of that era were not content to let Spain work its own bloody identity crisis out.

International Communists, propelled by Bolshevik revolutionaries in Russia, and led by Josef Stalin, were strategizing for control of Europe; their struggle was directed primarily against the Fascist/Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler in Germany and Benito Mussolini in Italy.

Neither of these two ideological poles were content to let Spain work out its own destiny. Rather, both the Communists and the Fascist/Nazis strove to manipulate and control Spanish political/cultural factions.

In 1936, as General Franco’s armies mounted rightist insurrections against the leftist Popular Front government, Mussolini, the Italian dictator, began providing serious military support for Franco and the Spanish fascists. This provoked Stalin and the Moscow communists to bolster the Spanish government in Madrid with armaments to resist Franco’s military campaigns.

As military capabilities and clashes became bloodier and more atrocious in Spain, the mercantile-minded democratic nations found themselves having to make unpleasantly complicated decisions about how to neutralize the two warring sides of Spanish bloodletting.

So Britain, United States, and France found themselves, inconveniently having to take a stand one way or the other.

The solution they arrived at, in August of 1936, was a non-intervention pact, designed to prevent further transferral of armaments into bloody Spain.

This did not work, because Hitler and Mussolini violated the non-intervention agreement by continuing to supply weapons, and even soldiers, to the fascists in Spain. Consequently, Largo Caballero, Prime Minister and leader of the Popular Front government of Spain, was required to cultivate more radical leftist, specifically Russian Communist, support in order to sustain the Spanish government against General Franco’s fascist insurgency.

In the midst of all this contention, both political and military, neither side was merciful. Slaughters and atrocities were happening at various hot skirmish points across the countryside and cities of Spain.

Douglas Little, in his 1985 book, Malevolent Neutrality, (Cornell University Press), wrote on page 248:

“Ironically, the British and American arms embargoes had ensured the very thing they were designed to prevent: the expansion of Soviet influence in Spain.”

Business and political leaders in Britain and U.S., noticing the leftward drift of Caballero’s Madrid government, unwittingly facilitated the surreptitious Fascist/Nazi domination of Franco’s militarism in Spain. The Spanish Civil War, as it subsequently erupted during autumn of 1936 and onward, became a training ground for Mussolini’s  fascisti ground troops, and Hitler’s luftwaffe air force.

As it turns out then, history demonstrates that military neutrality can prove disastrous in the convoluted treacheries of world politics.

In Syria today, rebels are storming the gates of Damascus and Aleppo, fighting to overthrow the oppressive regime of Bashar al-Assad.

But the insurrection boot is, this time, on the other foot. We democratic nations want to believe that the rebels represent possibilities for future democracy and popular government. But do we know this?

We don’t know. We don’t know for sure. Meanwhile, the two principal bully-states (bullies toward their own citizens) of the civilized world, Russian and China, refuse to permit international support for the Syrian rebels against the al-Assad regine, itself an oppressive bully-state.

It could be that this armed struggle in Syria is, as I heard a caller say recently on a radio talk show, “the Spanish Civil War of our age,” in which the political/military forces, striving to align themselves, establish a deadly framework for larger eruptions of militarism yet to come.

If it is true that ignorance of history dooms us to repeating history’s mistakes, then we may be stumbling toward another vicious tarbaby of world war. On the other hand, maybe the supposed awareness of strategic options that arise from history’s lessons  is nothing more than a naive fallacy.

I don’t know whether historical intelligence can be truly beneficial for mankind or not, but then I, like most folks, am not in a position to do much about it anyway.

However, I am writing a novel, Smoke, that pertains to these issues as they existed in our world in 1937. And I hope that history does not repeat itself.

August 2, 2012

It was a defensive strategy, a collaborative act of popular protective custody.

Yesterday in my hometown, Boone, North Carolina, hundreds, possibly thousands of people ate chicken at Chick Fil-A.

We gathered and ate there in defense of:

~Dan Cathy’s constitutional right to exercise freedom of speech by expressing his opinions

~Marriage, a sacred right and institutional rite acknowledged since the dawn of civilization as a union between one man and one woman.

~Children, lots of children, and their privilege to receive moral instruction from their own God-given parents

~The reasonable privilege of a private company to prosper by marketing a popular product in a free country

~The constitutional right of the people to peaceably assemble.

And peaceable it was. I noticed this while enjoying lunch there yesterday, August 1, 2012.

The gregarious crowd reminded me a herd of cows– contented, spotted cows. Moving patiently in long lines, we spoke amicably. I think I even heard a moo or two. We waited with hungry expectation and shared tasty food. A jovial ambiance of procreative celebration prevailed in the order lines, the packed dining room, the crowded parking lot and drive-through outside, and the half-mile or so of stopped traffic on the highway. The place was about the same later in the day when Pat and had dinner there after work, but without the stacked traffic.

This collective mood was quite different than I had experienced at Occupy Seattle and Occupy Vancouver last fall. The Occupiers, as an identifiable group, are not like cows at all; they are more like hawks, with an edgy, confrontational air about them that demands social justice, and yearns for enforced equality.

My belief is that it takes both kinds to occupy and sustain a healthy, free nation. To each his own, as the sage hath said. And to each identity group their own way of expressing what they believe to be necessary and true, as long as they are peaceably assembled.

I  suppose  the ambient difference between these two movements is like the difference between being well-fed and happy, or forever carrying (as Shakespeare’s Cassius) the lean and hungry look, which pleads for enforced equality and demands social justice.

Now for the Chick Fil-A set, the statement is: let us marry, have children, and eat chicken joyously.

And let  the LGBTQs have their civil unions.

Don’t mess with marriage. That’s the message.

Glass half-Full