Tuesday, August 31

Well? Which is it? Winnable or Un winnable?

The "War on Terror" can now be put on a shelf next to the "War on Drugs" and the "War on Poverty." Right? Just this week, Bush commented that a war on terrorism is un winnable. I tried to suppress the glimmer of grudging respect for Mr. Bush and reminded myself that this show of wisdom was probably a campaign ploy to show, ummm, something, can't think what.

I've always thought that warring against the result of a problem rather than its cause is pretty hard going and that more enlightened and communication-oriented approaches would better serve the global community in the 21ST Century. Rather than an isolationist, hard line, warrior approach, it's time to embrace an inclusive, more open and diplomatic approach to finding and eliminating the root causes of "terrorism", drug and alcohol addiction, ignorance and poverty in the world. Even though Mr. Bush's opponents might rightly point out this "flip flop" I was hoping they'd just say Bush finally wised up, 'bout time, blah blah blah.

John Edwards got his licks in with backhanded compliments about Bush's sudden "flip flop" and I normally would cheer, but instead became wistful and started dreaming of a two party political system in America filled with balanced and reasoned debate and wise decision making. *sigh* It's beautiful!

WHAM! Bush has flopped his flip or flipped his flop, or recovered from his RNC beating and now says America will win this war on, hmmm, bad people, places and things - "terror".

I'd love to work up a really snide laugh, but I like that dream of American political team work, unity and, ah hell, I guess there really is no Santa Claus and Easter bunny. If we don't keep this dream of unity alive, though, I think we'll have another terror to worry about over the next four years. We're looking at the terror of unbridled and hideous muck raking unlike anything we've ever seen during the Clinton years or at any other time. I have already canceled my newspaper subscription, rarely watch TV and am now afraid that Internet news is next. Maybe I'll write my own news stories according to my own view of reality and avoid the awful truth.

I can almost understand why Bush doesn't read the papers or follow the news at all. Most of the time it's best to be the boy in the bubble, except this time. I guess the bubble boy's speech writers forgot to check with Rove or Poindexter or whoever feeds the President the spin of the day, and now we have a frickin, flip floppin mess!

Merriam-Webster says "flip-flop" is the sound or motion of something flapping loosely.

Seems about right.

Friday, August 27

The Bush Economy: Tax Cuts + Deficit Spending = Third World Reality

While American standards of living decline, the Bush administration has orchestrated an orgy of political mud wrestling for our consumption. With the help of it's ever faithful imperial guardians of news, the mainstream media, we get treated to Swift Boat vets tearing open the wounds of Vietnam Vets. Blood, gore, screams of outrage, broken lances galore! Yay!

We don't have to think about a thousand body bags from Iraq and Afghanistan, or about exhausted National Guardsmen many of whom have become more fodder for the Abu Graib mud wrestling matches to come. We don't have to think about the beatings and humiliations coming up for us in the job market as our paychecks shrink against the rising costs of living and our benefits dwindle, if we're lucky to have a job that hasn't been "outsourced."

Why do Americans still support the Bush administration? This is a scary mystery and I haven't gotten any kind of reasonable response from their supporters. It reminds me of a movie that I loved but hated called, "I Love You To Death." It featured a great cast and starred Kevin Kline, Tracy Ullman and Joan Plowright and it came out around the time of another media scandal fest, the Joey Buttafucko (sp?) affair. Ullman's the wife who gets sick of her husband's cheating and tries to kill him in every disgusting way possible. **SPOILER** She fails, goes to jail, her husband takes her back and they live happily every after! The most amazing thing about this movie is that it's based on a true story. The man, Joey Boca,was almost murdered by his wife and he continues to love her, make excuses for her psycho behavior and, and, ....!!

Maybe there are a lot of people like Joey Boca who think they deserve to be destroyed because they're guilty of living the good life during the Clinton years, or of cheating on their taxes, or cheating on their wives or husbands? It is really a mystery.

I wonder what these same people would do if they employed someone like Bush. If he was a middle manager of a construction firm and had to defend his poorly devised, poorly constructed projects against obvious failure, would the Joey Boca's of the world fire him? Despite Bush and those that promote the economic "trickle down" theory, the American economy will survive and thrive. Meanwhile, millions are slipping into poverty and the gap between the rich and poor in America is widening.

Recently, someone said I shouldn't be so critical about the President because I couldn't do a better job. Ordinarily, I'd agree immediately, but now I pause and wonder.

Wednesday, August 25

Speak the Word

“Friends believe that we are called to speak the truth. A single standard of truth requires us to conduct ourselves in ways that are honest, direct and plain. It follows that we object to taking an oath, which presupposes a variable standard of truth. Be true to your word.”

From “Advices and queries” - Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

A few weeks ago, I was channel surfing, looking for something well made and uplifting on satellite TV. I've always been a fan of old Hollywood movies and I got lucky. "Friendly Persuasion" featuring Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire and Anthony Perkins had just started and I was sucked into the cinematography, the dialog and the sweetness of this movie about a conflicted Indiana Quaker family during the American Civil War. Link

For some reason, I am reminded of this movie lately and I wonder about the legacy of simplicity and non-violence that Quakers have given America and the world. The movie showed a way of life centered on self realization and thoughtful contemplation. Gary Cooper was the perfect actor to portray the complex, flawed and strong Quaker farmer. Dorothy McGuire was great as the dogmatic and caring Quaker mother. Anthony Perkins was terrific and so believable as the teen age son driven to bear arms in defense of his home. The characters were bound by the Quaker ways which taught against pride, vanity, aggression and hate. Each character's struggle to supress, overcome and accept these human flaws makes the movie great. As a family and as individuals they transcended the violent times and their weaknesses with their love for each other.

The movie reminded me of a neighbor I knew when I was in grade school. Her name was Doris Putz and she was a German immigrant married to an American soldier turned banker. She made the best pastries and I always looked forward to baby sitting for her daughters because of the treats she'd have for me. She had a special soft-spot for my Dad because he enjoyed her baking so much and she'd often give me bag or basket of goodies to take back home for him.

One evening, I was supposed to babysit and my Dad and I walked across the alley to the Putz house a little early. He was talking to her husband, Dick, in the kitchen while snagging her latest confections and I was watching TV in the living room. The youngest was crying and didn't sound good.

"Very fussy she is," said Doris as she hurried into the kitchen.

"Dick, come and look at the baby. She is not right," and they both went into baby Keri's room. Dad and I could hear the commotion and finally they both came back and said that Dick would go and Doris would stay because the baby was sick. Dick left and Dad and I started to leave.

"Wince, please eat a pastry and have a cup of coffee before you go. Keri is sick but she will sleep soon."

We hung around and then Dad coaxed Doris into talking about her life in Germany. I recall that she was from somewhere around Mannheim and had been a child when the Nazis took over Germany.

"My parents thought he was just another politician and we didn't worry about Jews and wars. We worried about our shops and going to church and the shortages and how expensive things always were." She stopped and listened for Keri.

"Ah, she sleeps now," she said.

"The Germans are not bad people. We didn't know how terrible the Nazis were and then the wars started. Bombs, more shortages, and finally nothing. My mother and I lived in a bombed out basement for more than a year. So many people starved or were killed by the bombs. The only help we could get was from the Quakers. They saved our lives in my town. There was no one else and they never said a bad thing about anybody. Then the Americans came and Dick found me. " She smiled and offered my father another homemade donut and some coffee.

Over the years, I've forgotten much of this conversation but I remember how Doris almost cried thinking about the kindness and support of the Quakers after World War II. The American Friends and British Friends Service Committees were recognized for their outstanding refugee work during World War II and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947.

What seemed to amaze Doris about the Quakers was that they did not blame, shame or condemn her and her people. They gave food, blankets, refugee assistance and much more with love and no lectures. They didn't try to convert anyone either. They are still doing good work in the world in Iraq and Afghanistan and anywhere the message of unconditional love and peace on earth is needed.

I compare the works and words of these non-posturing and quiet American patriots with the words and works of the Swift Boat Vets. It's really an unfair comparison, though, since Quakers are non-partisan and the Boaters are partisan. The one thing that is common to both groups is that they recognize the power of words.

The Quaker belief encourages people to value words and recognize their power for good or harm.

The Swift Boaters devalue words and manipulate them for political gain.

The Boaters junk up the collective conscious with distortions and false connections because they want their leader to continue to lead American. They put the words, "Kerry is not to be trusted," out into the air waves and they use the defining moments in their lives to tear down one man at the expense of millions who survived Viet Nam and have worked for thirty years to put that disaster behind them.

I think of Anthony Perkin's character in "Friendly Persuasion" and how much he agonized about the thought of killing another person to defend his own home. The act of killing was painful and personal in this film and it endangered a person's soul. Simple. No special effects or nonsense. People who killed and were killed were not heroes deserving of medals nor were they deserving of ridicule for not being the perfect killing machine. They were human beings loved by their families and deserving of life.

Kerry and his associates are criticized because they thought about killing the enemy and thought about ways to stay alive. Kerry and his associates are criticized for accepting medals. Kerry and his associates are condemned for reporting the war atrocities they'd seen and heard about and for becoming activists against the war. Kerry was not the only vet who volunteered and served and came to realize that the reasons for the war and effects of the war in terms of atrocities needed to be challenged. The Viet Nam War was the most criticized and protested war on the planet and the most devastating to the US in terms of lives lost and values challenged. It was a horror show and needed to end.

The SBVT are bullshit artists and everyone should recognize this by now. Daily headlines scream another direct connection between these gutless, slime merchants and the Bush campaign. The FEC forbids such connections, but the Republicans don't care. They own America and in some respects, the world. They have created their own dictionary of "doublespeak" to justify their actions and convince the unwary that they know the "truth" while decapitating their political opponents.

They simply speak the word (e.g., patriotism, terrorism, homeland, evildoer) and either challenge its true meaning if necessary or bludgeon their opponents with a revised version of it. The patriotism of activists for peace is a threat to the powers that be these days. Kerry is now suddenly the anti-patriot because he spoke out against the evils he had seen and heard about. Democrat lawmakers are shut out of committee meetings, shunned, or punished for their opposition just as Ted Kennedy was when his name suddenly appeared on the airlines terrorist lists.

Dissent, debate, patriotism, diversity, compassion, tolerance, are powerful words with precise meanings that have undergone the Bush administration "doublespin" revision. Maybe it's time to examine the true meaning of fascism before it becomes something "necessary" for our "security."