"We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.
As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government." President Obama, Democratic National Convention, Sept. 6, 2012.
Forty four years ago I met George Dunn. I lost my dear George just a few days before President Obama delivered his acceptance speech uttering those elegant words in Charlotte, North Carolina. Though George had stage four lung cancer, we were both certain that we would be sitting together watching the election returns in November. It won't happen. I am sad.
The tall, good- looking, bright, young man from America's heartland whom I met in the fall of 1968 was the iconic American. He was certainly not anything like me, a 5'9", 140 pound Jewish kid raised in a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. George was a big man, a handsome man, well over six feet and 200 pounds, with a deep radio announcer voice. Born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana, he successfully battled polio as a child; his dad owned the local Dr. Pepper bottling plant. His mother was a "Seward" a pioneer Bloomington family. George graduated from Indiana University where he played center on the football team, was a "Young Republican ", read Ayn Rand, and was a member of ROTC.
A burly man dons a soiled vest emblazoned with Confederate flag. He foists a banner declaring, "God Hates All Fags”. I am sickened; I am angry, but my
systolic and diastolic readings remain steady. I errantly tune to FOX NEWS; the face of Sean Hannity despoils the screen; I grimace; I grab the remote, but I don't suffer an intracranial bleed.
Yet, I become apoplectic when a racist remark emerges from the lips of Uncle Bill, Aunt Phyllis, or best friend Bob. Temporal veins throb and engorge when Cousin Roberta states our cultural group has been endowed by the lord with unparalleled skill, learning, and righteousness. Inner rage and anger threaten to erupt when people I love support superstition over science. Time to take a walk and get some Prozac.
In the very near future I shall be attending a family reunion. My wife, who knows my passion for politics, warns me, "You must be respectful; they are family; they are good people." I know they are good people; they are our family. I get similar warnings when we go out to dinner with friends. My close friends are good people too, or they wouldn't be my friends.
Truth be told, I know I am limited when it comes keeping my cool, and modulating my voice when political and religious debate erupt among people I care about. The simple fact is that I expect people I know and care about to share my most dearly held values. Sometimes those expectations are not met. My own dad became a Reagan supporter. How could MY dad be so dumb?
It takes little effort to remain calm when it comes to non-value issues. I don't become crimson when we disagree about sports, or Apple vs. Microsoft. I am fully capable of speaking softly when disagreeing on some political issue like whether the Supreme Court erred in its Citizens United decision, or should the nation revise its tax code.
This year, if you are a dear family member or friend, and you are a Republican, I think we had better avoid politics. I know that you and I have led a life of relative privilege; you are educated; you are not ignorant, hateful or intolerant. I fully trust that you believe in that "do unto to others" thing. I know that greed and avarice are not your motivators. I cannot fathom your believing that the mythology of religion trumps good science. Thus it is terribly frustrating and downright painful that you could be a supporter of party antithetical to all I believe in. You are my friend; you are family. You have to know better.
It is in-your- face-apparent that the 2012 Republican Party tramples on the rights of minorities, devalues women, and treats LGBT people as less than equals. It panders to bigots, haters, gun-nuts, science deniers and the religious zealots. It employs miscreants like Rush and Hannity to garner political momentum by spreading hate and falsehood. It is either a party of greedy puppeteers playing on fear, hate and ignorance, or it is an amalgam of ignorant bigots. Either way, it is a threat to me, our relatives and the ones I love. It is a threat to all of us. It deserves my wrath; it should raise my blood pressure. The thought of these people leading my country is terrifying.
So to my friends and relatives, please don't expect me to accept any reason for your support of, or voting for, Republicans this year. Please, for the sake of your relative's and friend's circulatory health, take off the Romney button in my presence, and let's stick to discussing the Cubs or how cute Aunt Myrtle's grandbaby is.
Several years ago I saw a film about two hotel maids. In this film, whose name is beyond my recall and my googling ability, one young maid asks the other, “What are rich people afraid of?” Her friend, and fellow housekeeper responds, “Not being rich.”
Perhaps, that is the problem. The super-moneyed of this nation are just insecure. The oil baron Koch brothers are frightened. Billionaire casino owners, Wall Street manipulators, and those incredibly affluent CEO’s of the US Chamber of Commerce are terrified. That’s it. That’s why they spend their waking hours and hard earned millions on electing and influencing office holders. They are protecting their stuff. And their tactics seem to be working.
GingRich blames the poor of this country. Fraudulent mortgages, and concocted derivatives were not the culprits. The financial instruments that caused our country's economic chaos were food stamps. Ya see, it’s simple, there are just too many poor folk (aka Blacks) who love to get something for nothing. That S.O.B. Obama is taking our money, giving it to those greedy bastards (his people), and they are using food stamps to buy cheese for their kids. That’s the problem; it’s those people of color using food stamps. It’s obvious and it’s intolerable!
Romney (did you ever notice that 83% of his name consists of M-O-N-E-Y?) , a man with a net worth of hundreds of millions, who is building a twelve million dollar home so his grandkids can comfortably visit, pays an effective tax rate of 15% , yet audaciously accuses Obama of inciting the “bitter politics’ of envy.” My God, (Santorum’s advisor) that lying Obama has the chutzpah of making food stamp users envious of hard-working, job-making billionaires. The envy should be in reverse. Go ahead, name a billionaire CEO, who, given the opportunity, wouldn’t gladly give up his/her busy, mind draining day to live in the urban slum, have no worries and live off food stamps.
Those maids were so correct. It is exhausting to unceasingly plot, bribe, cajole, influence and lobby day after day to protect your billions. Guarding your wealth demands that you call for an end to the EPA and its regulations. The compulsion to protect your bundle demands sacrificing the future health and safety of your children and grandchildren. Your station in life demands this sacrifice. Jesus, (Rick Santorum, again) what a terrible drag.
And to top it off there are no guarantees. It is core rattling to think that the Romanovs of Russia had it all, and then, lights out. The Bourbons of France masterly had all working smoothly when, in a flash, they lost it all, including a couple of heads. They labored and toiled. They controlled the government, the courts, the religious leaders and whap, gone in an instant. Is there no security?
Romney’s, GingRich’s and Santorum’s puppeteers pull the strings; they own FOX and the Wall Street Journal. Yet, there is no guarantee of keeping the wealth. Add in the pesky Internet with its capacity to inform, and mobilize, and your really have tsouris.
The Koch’s of the world have choices. (I know; last week, I said there was no free will, but I can’t help myself) They can purchase armed guards, razor wire, and politicians while simultaneously despoiling the world and manipulating the people of few means to blame those of no means, or they can use their wealth and its concomitant power to make this a better and safer world; they can invest in the future, not plundering, but building. If they do the latter, my guess is they will still have a pretty nice lifestyle; of course, they would still have to do without those food stamps. Matt 1/19/2012
The hiatus is over. I have returned from celebrating July 4th. Yes, this liberal loves fireworks and Sousa. I now sit less joyously at my keyboard exercising my right of free speech. Truth be told, (I hope that expression shall always be the guiding light of this blog) I am saddened by the state of our nation. It appears Michelle Bachman, who wants to take this country "bach” to 1776, is seriously running for President and is likely to win the Iowa Republican Caucuses. The Republicans are holding our republic hostage, threatening to destroy the U.S. economy by obstructing the raising of the debt ceiling unless our capitulating President cuts Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and withdraws his threat to increase tax revenues from those most able to afford it (can’t get Grover Norquist pissed). Could the end of our democracy be near?
By coincidence, a conservative friend sent me a terrifying email warning that the end of democracy is just around the corner. Respecting my friend’s privacy, I shall call him Joe. Joe is a good man; he is a veteran, a good dad, a good husband and a good grandpa. The intent of this column is not to attack Joe, but rather to reassure Joe that democracy will not end due to the misinformation in his forwarded email. He is worrying about the wrong threat.
I know your lives are busy and your Ipad is demanding attention, but take a few minutes to quickly scan Joe’s message.
In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of
Edinborough, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some
2,000 years prior:
"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a
permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until
the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts
from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes
for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public
treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over
loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship."
"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning
of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these
nations always progressed through the following sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage."
The Obituary follows:
Born 1776, Died 2012
It doesn't hurt to read this several times.
Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul ,
Minnesota , points out some interesting facts concerning the last
Number of States won by: Obama: 19 McCain: 29
Square miles of land won by: Obama: 580,000 McCain: 2,427,000
Population of counties won by: Obama: 127 million McCain: 143 million
Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Obama: 13.2
Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory McCain won
was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country.
Obama territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low income
tenements and living off various forms of government welfare..."
Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the
"complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of
democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already
having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.
If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal
invaders called illegal's - and they vote - then we can say goodbye to the
USA in fewer than five years.
If you are in favor of this, then by all means, delete this message. If
you are not, then pass this along to help everyone realize just how much
is at stake, knowing that apathy is the greatest danger to our freedom.
This is truly scary! Of course we are not a *Democracy*, we are a
*Constitutional Republic* . Someone should point this out to Obama. Of
course we know he and too many others pay little attention to The
There couldn't be more at stake than on Nov 2012.
Thanks, I hope you are not too terrified and have a few minutes left to devote to my ramblings. The original plan of this blog entry was to take apart this apocalyptical warning; pointing out its inherent lies. With that purpose in mind, I began to compose my article, but as I wrote, the email seemed stupider and stupider, leading me to Google “Alexander Tyler of the University of Edinborough (why can’t rumor mongers spell?). Of course, I was directed to Snopes http://www.snopes.com/politics/ballot/athenian.asp and unsurprisingly, discovered that 90 percent of this fear inducing message was bullshit.
If you made that visit you now know that the statistics presented were never generated by any known professor; Alexander probably never wrote what is quoted. This same warning with the same statistics was used in the 2004 election, and what the hell does land area won have to do with ones legitimacy as President?
So the question is why do bright, educated, well meaning people believe illogical crap? What motivates good people, people with functioning brains to readily accept misinformation? What makes a considerable portion of our country vulnerable to propaganda? Liberals often label these believers as racist, evil, or laugh at the naivety of the Joes of this country.
Instead of laughing at the consumer of these blogs, we should be recognizing the genius of this disseminated stuff. Its composers understand their readers and know the power and efficacy of scapegoating. It is to our peril to laugh at these emailed messages or write them off as utter nonsense.
Look carefully at Joe’s warning. The piece is saying that lazy, apathetic, violent, illegal, welfare sucking inhabitants of urban crime ridden areas of his beloved America are on the verge of putting him, the industrious, patriotic, peace loving, hardworking, middle class inhabitant of a peaceful neighborhood in “BONDAGE. ” He will become the slave of these non-God-fearing vermin. And now he is even in more peril with Obama, a black man in charge.
This type stuff works, it scares people. Scared people close their eyes, yearn to go “bach” to the good old days when rich people signed their paychecks and people of color knew their place. Most importantly scared people are ripe for manipulation and misdirection. FOX knows this, the Koch brothers know this, and Governor Walker knows this. The poor, the migrant, the welfare mom, the union worker, become the target. And it is working. Remember, Joe votes
We all get this stuff in our INBOX; don’t just hit “Delete;” don’t just laughingly share it among your friends. Instead, hit “Reply All” and open your mouth, confront and educate the senders of this stuff. To remain silent makes you a collaborator.
"In fact," Broun continued, "Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent his advisers, his close friends, his Cabinet people to go visit with Stalin in communist Russia to study what he was doing, what Stalin was doing there, so that FDR could replicate it here in the United States. And he did everything that he possibly could to do so."
I am sorry. I am trying to cover serious issues important for our country. But I had to do this. Because idiots are a serious threat to America. And they are multiplying!
Why do my compatriots do what they do?
It is sad! A sad feeling when I listen to the Russian radio, read Russian newspapers and read my Russian relative's and friend's e-mails.
What is it? Total selfishness or fear? Inability to adapt to a new, free society? Nostalgia for older simpler times, times when everything was clear? The Party told us who was a friend and who was an enemy, we were taught at school who was a positive and who was a negative hero in the books. Is it fear for something new, different, a fear of change?
Seemingly smart and educated people are panicking in fear of the possibility of this “black Muslim terrorist sympathizer” becoming the President of our country - the USA.
I remember people crying when Stalin died, asking each other what are we going to do, who will protect us, who will tell us what is right and what is wrong.
Look at where we are today as a country:
A deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, a very real possibility of being kicked out of Iraq. Iraq’s closest ally is Iran, not the United States – the "liberator".
Our country is broke financially, health care is in crisis, the country is more divided than ever before, the middle class is in trouble.
And what are Russian immigrants concerned about? He is black! He is a terrorist sympathizer! He is a Muslim! He supported 9/11! He was not born in United States! Jessie Jackson supports him (the same one that wanted to cut off Obama’s balls)! He is a bandit that will destroy Israel! Kaddafi is his best friend!
It seems to me that the moment Barack Hussein Obama is elected, some of these terrified Russians will hide in their basements with their families because they do not want another Soviet Union.
Let's see - Soviet Union.
No freedom of speech, a stagnant economy, an over-sized military, Afghanistan disaster, exporting the Soviet system into other countries, one-party political system, constant surveillance of all their citizens. Did I miss something?
Now - USA. 10 years of Republican Party rule and 8 years of W. leadership.
Freedom of speech (if you disagree with us, you are against us), an economy in ruins (are you better off now than you were 8 years ago?), how are we going to pay a 14 Trillion dollar debt?, an over-sized military (we spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined), wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no end in sight, we screwed up the war in Afghanistan because we were bringing “democracy” to the Iraqi people, unauthorized surveillance of US citizens (but “we have nothing to hide”). Did I miss something?
But we do not want another Soviet Union here!!!
So, let’s keep Republicans in power! One wonders were the logic is!
No logic, just pathological fear and hatred! Fear of anything new and different and hatred of those that disagree.
And many of these people came here as "dissidents".
Nice going Soviet dissidents!
Not about healthcare.
Our country is being pulled apart. Part of the country is trying to shake off the old wild-west mentality and join the civilized world. The other part is trying to pull us back into the past to militant individualism, into the dog-eat-dog mentality.
And I constantly keep asking myself why some people get so angry when our society is trying to help people who need help. The slogans are flying: socialism, fascism, and so on. And most of the people who keep throwing those words do not really know what they mean.