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Some of my liberal friends say they have lost all hope for American democracy, and a great many others act as if they had. They see that Big Money is wresting power from the people and, with the help of the Supreme Court, making it ever harder for the people to retrieve what has been taken from them. They see that one of our two major political parties is systematically blocking Congress from implementing solutions to our nation’s problems.
the natural world
My spouse of fifty years has a quirky brain. It looks for things that aren’t there. Which is probably why one of his favorite poems is Antigonish or “The man who wasn’t there,” by Hughes Mearns.
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d go away…
The the destructive force that has arisen on the right is only one side of America’s present national crisis. The other side is the weakness of the response from Liberal America to this profound threat to our nation’s well-being. I’ve described President Obama’s failure to wage the battle that must be waged. But the problem of liberal weakness – and of its blindness – is not confined to the president. These defects were evident among Democratic leaders before Mr. Obama assumed the presidency, and they are manifested, I would assert, by Liberal America taken as a whole.
I’ve undertaken to present this “Press the Battle” series because, believing it might make an important contribution, I feel a moral obligation to do so. At the age of 68, and after a whole decade of fighting against this ugly force that’s taken over the right, I’m certainly not doing it for fun.
Maybe now is a good time to explain why I think what I’m presenting here might just possibly help turn the tide of battle. A reader recently wrote me privately wondering when I was going to stop the preliminaries and explain what I’m proposing to do…
The American electorate is probably about to give more power to a party of traitors. This statement, though shocking, can be verified by these steps (many of which are substantiated here):
- The Republican Party (“the Party of No”) has chosen to prevent anything from being accomplished.
- To choose across-the-board obstructionism is to knowingly hurt the nation.
- The Republicans’ motivation for obstructionism is to regain power…
“If the planet dies, all causes are lost causes.” — Anonymous
Humanity’s fate hangs on a tight race between two tipping points: a scientific one and a cognitive one. Scientists use the term “tipping point” to refer to a runaway feedback loop that, when triggered, abruptly and irreversibly changes the behavior of a system, such as the climate. For example, when permafrost melts, it releases methane, 50 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Thus: global warming, melting permafrost, more atmospheric methane, more global warming…
problems, not targets
Six years ago, President Obama was all for bringing our troops home from far-off wars. Much of that has happened. Now new threats to world peace are prompting some war hawks to push for “sending in the troops,” no matter where the trouble is brewing.
Good thing our military is controlled by a civilian Secretary of Defense. The military men will always advise on sending in the troops. They are trained to recommend no other way.
Hey, Mr. President. Why aren’t you out there on the hustings talking to the American people? There’s an election coming up, and the American political system is more dysfunctional than it’s been in generations, maybe ever. What does it mean that you, as president, are not using this last opportunity of your presidency to talk to voters about what’s gone wrong with the system and what voters can do now to get back a government that does the people’s business?
I always knew politics smelled funny but I never know how much until now. Seems a couple of braniacs led by Brown University political scientist Rose McDermott have conducted a study showing that we can sniff out like minded people just from their body odor. So it ain’t only dogs that can find their friends with their noses, you can too. I won’t get into the ugly details, but essentially people from one political persuasion smelled body parts and bodily fluids of people from other political persuasions to determine if they were simpatico.
If Barack Obama had become president at a time of normal politics, with a normal opposition party, there’s no telling how much he could have accomplished. On many issues, President Obama has strived to move the country in wise and beneficial directions. He might have become the transformational president he aspired to be, and that many of us hoped for when we elected him in 2008. But it is his misfortune to be President when our politics is far from normal, and to have faced a Republican opposition more dishonest and destructive than anything ever before seen…
It’s fair to say that the South and Scotland go back a ways. For example, the cult of the “Lost Cause” that sprang up in the aftermath of the South’s failed fight for independence had something of an antecedent in the fabled “lost cause” of the Scottish Jacobites whose four-decade struggle to restore to the Stuart monarchy of Scotland to its rightful seat on the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland was heartily romanticized in the novels of Sir Walter Scott…
letter to the editor
Over the years of my political seething I have cooled myself off some by exercising an art form, the letter to the editor (LTE). I even got one in the New York Times once. Mostly though they go to Atlanta’s daily or weekly rags, or when I’m visiting Michigan, their daily. Sometimes I might browse a monthly magazine, a business-oriented one recently. They did an interview with Georgia Power’s new president and I couldn’t let him get away with his greenwashing, not when they’re engaged in a huge con, bilking the ratepayers, ignoring clean alternatives like wind and solar and building dangerous nuclear reactors.
A friend of mine, who is liberal, told me recently, “Having grown up in the South in the 1950s, I know something about how it feels to be part of a group you’re told is superior. It feels really good. It’s a feeling that shouldn’t be under-estimated.”
That got me thinking about the anger of many white men, and why they’ve lent the force of that anger to the political right.
In the conduct of today’s Republican Party, we can see a pattern of destructiveness. It displays an insatiable lust for power and wealth, an impulse to prey upon the vulnerable, a preference for conflict over cooperation, a persistent dishonesty, and a willingness to sacrifice the greater good for selfish advantage. Putting the pieces together, we see that our national crisis is not just at the political level, but goes deeper to the moral and spiritual levels.
I have a message and a plan to help turn back this force. To succeed, it will need the help of many.
In America right now there’s a battle that needs to be fought and won in our political arena. It’s a battle over what kind of country, and what kind of planet, our children and grandchildren will live in. Although some people like waging battle — some even insist on it — most liberals I’ve known are capable of living richer, more balanced and fulfilling lives. Most of us liberals would rather lead those better lives than focus on political combat. But over the past decade or two, while we’ve been living our fuller, more rounded lives, we…
That hawkish Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have once again blasted President Barack Obama for an insufficiently bellicose foreign policy barely qualifies as news. Of course they did. That is what they do. The scorpion always stings the frog halfway across the stream. What is worth noting is the rationale offered they present for a much riskier American foreign policy.
de facto heresy
“… if you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in man-made global warming … You must be either agnostic or atheistic to believe than man controls something he can’t create.” – Rush Limbaugh
Conflict between faith and science is as old as science itself. In 1543, Copernicus’s great work, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, laid the groundwork for a new model of the cosmos, with the sun, rather than the Earth, at its center…
handmaiden of segregation
Why do we care what happens in Ferguson, Missouri? Because on some level we recognize that if any one group or community can be officially deprived of their human and civil rights without restraint, then it can happen to any other group or neighborhood. Sea Island, Georgia is proof. Sea Island, Georgia has been turned into an exclusive neighborhood. Random visitors are turned away at a guarded gate and even residents driving off the island must pause and wait for the barricade to rise and let their vehicle pass unscratched.
not a spectator sport
That’s how the attendees at the Glynn County Democrats’ Annual Dinner want everyone to think about our state. Georgia is a democratic state. Republican rule is just a blip, the result of Democrats being too generous and thinking the other side ought to have a chance to win.
That, in a nutshell, was the message from the five candidates and two surrogates who showed up for the Glynn County Democrats’ Fish Fry last evening. They obviously weren’t expecting 240 people and the catering service took some time catching up. But they did and everyone was satisfied. There wasn’t room for the key lime pie, anyway.
better angels of both parties
“Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” — Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert
When was NASA’s finest hour? Most would say, “The Apollo moon landing.” As a bit of an insider, I have a different take. NASA’s finest hour, hands down, was the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. Two and one-third days into the nominal nine-day voyage, a ruptured oxygen tank left the spacecraft crippled, the mission in shambles, and the lives of three astronauts in jeopardy. Mission controllers, engineers, technicians and astronauts worked around the clock to stabilize a dire situation and work the impossible, bringing Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise home alive.
unfit to eat or drink
Too little too late? Georgia is one of those states where there is much bruiting about “local control” and how the people who live there know better what’s good for them. This editorial from the Brunswick News lays it out nicely: “In this country there are laws against stealing land, but that doesn’t stop the federal government and its oversized bureaucracies from doing it. They accomplish such thievery simply by changing the rules whenever they get a hankering to do so.”
in the name of balance
I have claimed that America now faces one of the most profound crises in its history, but unlike with the other major crises, this time our national conversation has not focused on discussing what’s gone wrong and how it might be set right. If I’m right, what does that say about the performance of the press? Our founders instituted special protections for the press not because they had a love for journalists, but because they recognized that a free press is necessary for the maintenance of a free society.
united we stand
At first blush, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street appear as bookends: opposing grass-roots movements on the political right and left, respectively. At second blush, the Tea Party seems the more successful. In the 2010 mid-term elections, one-third of Tea Party-backed candidates won, reclaiming the House for Republicans. And an unknown Tea Party libertarian just defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s GOP primary. Occupy’s one obvious success is searing the 99 percent meme into the national consciousness. But a look under the hood of each is instructive.
u.s. media coverage
Listen to those defending Israeli violence against the Palestinians in Gaza and what you hear is denial. They cannot deny the facts and instead deny their emotional and moral significance. They agree that the Israeli military is bombarding Gaza and that thirteen hundred have been killed as a consequence. Rather than admit that the bombardment constitutes a humanitarian disaster and heinous war crime, however, they leap to the rhetorical devices of blaming the victim and condemning the condemner.
There’s a simple reason why small turnouts at elections bother me. Simply put: Low turnouts run the risk of having a small pinch of the electorate choosing our public officials. With a small number of people voting, splinter and fringe groups can dominate the election. This can produce elected officials representing these way-out views, often not in step with the main-line, middle-of-the-road process it takes to let our government function best. It doesn’t matter is the electorate if one third right, one-third left, and one-third in the middle or independent.
blither v. dither
There is a gathering storm of American voter unrest from citizens tired of having to chose between the party of blither, Republicans, and the party of dither, Democrats. The former jabber endlessly, making no sense, spouting nonsense and being outraged when sensible people point out these failings. On the other hand, the ditherers believe they have a winning strategy in simply not being the other guy. Who can blame them? President Obama was awarded what had previously been the most prestigious prize on the planet, the Nobel Peace Prize, for the achievement of not being George W. Bush.
On Tuesday, July 22, Glenn Beck spoke from some 700 movie screens to Americans who paid admission to hear him attack the “Common Core.” The “Common Core” consists of standards, offered to the states, defining the knowledge and skills that American school-children should learn at each stage of their education. Beck’s move here reminded me of “The Music Man,” the con man in the musical of that name who comes to an Iowa town to fleece the good people there. What Beck and the con artist in “The Music Man” have in common is that to accomplish their own hidden aims they tap into the anxieties that parents have regarding their children.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
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It is not just the criminal justice system that needs fixing. Over two decades ago I first wrote an Op Ed piece on the value of a human life. The focus was that in this society we continue to value a human life on a sliding scale with white males at the top and black males at the bottom. Yes, our societal norms have changed over the centuries since the first Africans were brought to the shores of the Americas, but have our values, especially in terms of valuing human life, changed. If you look at what is taking place today, Read on →
Early Sunday I walked outside to dump the compost and ran smack dab into one of those perfect December mornings—the world awash in new yellow light, deep blue sky through leafless branches. My anxious mind was reassured: It’s still here. I can still touch it. I poured myself a cup of coffee and settled down with my e-paper, only to read that America’s nuttiest nutbar, Wayne LaPierre, is still on the loose. Talk about transcendencekill. Not to blame the messenger, but it was the AJC’s Alan Judd who took the opportunity—two years after the Newtown shootings—to analyze the NRA’s confusing attitude toward the mentally Read on →
What kind of idiots shell out, or commit themselves to borrow, two hundred thousand dollars for a row house and then sign on to a "warranty" that warrants nothing other than their responsibilities as buyers and owners? Rubes from the hinterlands of Georgia, mostly, but also a bloke in New South Wales. Imagine! I have written earlier about the mortgage notes that condition a loan on the buyers of property ceding their civil rights to the financier--e.g. on a standard Georgia form the borrower: (2)Waives all rights which Borrower may have under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United Read on →