Beneath the fleuron is an editorial comment taken from the Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph dated 24 April 1865, ten days after the actual event. It would seem that not much has changed in 150 years - especially in the place this was published:
Thomas Jefferson got railroaded out of Texas history books for his positions on the place that religion has in politics. Factual historical evidence that demonstrates the damage inflicted on citizens by religious incursions into government activities has been redacted from our education system. The lessons of today's Taliban, ISIS and even when one leader props themselves up as a jingoistic paragon of a nation's people (such as Putin), seem to fall on deaf ears and rare is the written anecdotal account of someone who successfully escapes the self-inflicted mental prison of religion-based political dogma.
I found this article in Salon to be very gratifying - not simply because it served to confirm what I've suspected for the last 45 years as the basis for this country's spiraling travels down the swirling waters of history's failed nations - but also because of it's author and his recent contemporary influence on the current state of right wing "philosophy".
By all accounts (both subtle and obvious), folks, we're in for one hell of a ride for the next two years: it might go either way... either reason and true democracy based in the best of human aspirations will prevail, or else the money changers will destroy 230 years of sacrifice, blood, toil and treasure for the enrichment of the few. You be the judge and act according to the conviction of your principles.
Anybody paying the slightest attention to the past 6 years of the Obama presidency likely has, on more than one occasion, given pause, straining to remember what was spoken so eloquently in any number of his speeches as a matter of policy during his 2 year-long campaign before his election to office and then attempted to match up those words with his current policies and actions... which, more often than not, resulted in either a complete 180 degree reversal or else a back door approach that more strongly resembles something that Gerald Ford or GHW Bush would have done.
As an independent progressive, I confess to having ground my teeth on all too many occasions as I learned how Obama reacted real time to most issues: from bailing out the criminal behavior of the banking system while doing little more than throwing a thin soup bone to the Middle Class stuck with underwater mortgages; the "Affordable Care Act" that SHOULD have been single payer Medicare for everyone; the indiscriminate use of drones; the ongoing foot shuffling over the tar sands pipeline; the still-on-the-table Pacific Rim trade agreement... the list goes on and on. And to be sure, as I discussed these things with both fellow progressives and Democrats, I've received a healthy dose of dunning and criticism for my position in calling out the President for how he legislates: as a closet Republican. (Given the current urgency of the situation, I never would have imagined that someone claiming to be a Democrat would have a worse record on the environment than Richard Nixon)
I know, I know... the argument that Boehner and McConnell have led an obstructionist movement against this presidency from day one is true - but Roosevelt had to deal with the same kind of resistance during the 30s and he still managed to get nominees confirmed, put people back to work and got legislation passed that helped the Middle Class more than the wealthy elite.
But now, it turns out that even the American Conservative agrees with me. Although the below - referenced article is somewhat lengthy, it barely contains its' exuberance for Obama's performance in office in the pursuit of conservative positions and does a very good job of outlining the most notable among them specifically. (Before the dunning remarks begin and the pitch forks and torches arrive at my door, please read the article. It also has a few compliments for Hillary - surprise...)
This, from people who once declared Obama to be, "... the most LIBERAL man in Congress." (Come to think of it, given his contemporaries in Max Baucus and Diane Feinstein, that might have been an accurate assessment at the time...)
Yes, it hurts. I was among the millions who bought into the "hope and change" tag line. And it's true: lord only knows how far down the sewer of history's failed states we'd have been had either McCain or Romney prevailed. But in Obama there was an expectation - one that turned out to be unrealistic - that was unfulfilled and it left many of us with the notion that we were betrayed. Maybe so... or, perhaps maybe not: after all, this is 21st century America, where one should wisely start out assessing everything with low expectations and then not be surprised if nothing really materializes.
My hope is that - basing future selections on past performance, voting record and depth of intellect - progressives will be far more circumspect in their upcoming choice for a presidential nominee as well as other candidates. Gender, race or any other physical characteristic should never be used as a litmus test for the direction of leadership or the philosophical positions of any candidate ... and cargo containers full of money do not necessarily win elections.
Once upon a time - after a ten year-long struggle to repair the damage from the Depression created by republican oligarchs - American resolve, industriousness and grit fought a world war on two fronts and won; Under the constant threat of nuclear war and Soviet hegemony, Americans designed the fastest aircraft ever built in the late 1950s and a short time later figured out how to send men to the moon and explore it - in person - within ten years... using SLIDE RULES.
We built dams, canals and bridges, wired an entire country for electricity, created what used to be a world-class entertainment industry out of nothing and built an interstate highway system - ditched vacuum tubes for integrated circuits - morphed from black and white to color - even left desktop computers for smart phones. Today we can't even agree on money to fix the damned pot holes in our streets.
We used to be fearless, aggressive and strong in the pursuit of progress. We used to at least PRETEND to care about one another, even if it might have been out of convenience. Today, we have a majority in government that not only despises anyone who earns less than a quarter million dollars a year, they're actually proud of it and brag about it - listen to anything that comes out of Romney or Palin and you'll get a great cross-section of the wealthy elite that has become American leadership - live and direct from corporate boardrooms to the halls of Congress.
We used to legitimately pride ourselves in our standard of living and quality of life with a robust Middle Class that fueled the world's most powerful economy based on demand; today's business models rely on increasing "stockholder value" by lowering America's workplace standards and eliminating benefits and retirement options, sending jobs to countries formerly regarded as enemies and matching workplace conditions and security with those of third world countries and the wealthy elite's Communist business partners in the Far East.
We refined x-ray and CT scan technology, developed medications and treatments for illnesses that used to be fatal, created medically useful magnetic resonance imaging and provided the bulk of research that cracked the human genetic code. But today, while Americans kill themselves by the tens of thousands from drunk driving and tobacco, the majority in government prefers a "laissez-faire" approach to the carnage; and yet one American dies from Ebola in a Texas hospital and the nation almost literally shutters it's windows, locks it's doors and trembles in a fetal position in the corner of a darkened room. The President appoints a "tsar", the media provides 24/7 updates and the neocons carve another notch on the club they use to browbeat the few of us who recognize this for the farce that it is - all this from the same people who regard the idea of national health care as a Marxist step towards socialism.
Jacques Cousteau and, 2 decades later, Al Gore were out there warning us about what we were doing to our environment by not carefully regulating our civilization and its consumption of natural resources, migrating to new sources of energy and managing our waste. All these years later there are still people in responsible positions of high authority who are doing everything they can - financially and legislatively - to prevent efforts to stop environmental cleanup and move from coal and petroleum to cleaner sources of energy - all for the sake of profit.
And my point? None of the people taking the country down this regressive path of neoconservative destruction could have been elected without the "... advice and consent" of the American People.
Just what the hell happened to us as a country? Greed can't possibly be the only reason... our history has several examples of greed being defeated by the will of the People when the powerful wealthy elite attempted to financially enslave the Many. And 9-11? Nobody shuttered their windows and locked their doors when Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. (I remember that the neocons didn't have much to say about that one - after all, McVeigh was being "anti-gubbermint" and "...exercising his First Amendment 'rights'...", as Limbaugh put it back then).
Too much inbreeding? Too many reruns of "Married With Children"? People decided to stop thinking when they cancelled the "Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Hour"?
It's inconceivable to me how today, in this modern age of mass access to information, people like Scott Brown, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindall, Paul Ryan, Saxby Chambliss, Michelle Bachmann and their kind consistently manage to get elected to high positions authority - Kochs or no Kochs - unless the American people genuinely don't care what happens to this country or, for that matter, their own world anymore.
I published this little rant of mine right here on Daily Kos last year around this time, and I republish it again this year only because it's gotten worse. I saw one local store putting out Christmas wrapping paper in late August, and it's taken this long for me to react publicly without profanity.
I live in an extremely diverse ethnic locale, and nowhere to be seen are strings of Vishnu house lights, multi-colored glowing Buddahs strung on palm trees, large inflatable glowing plastic Muhammads for your front lawn or even pagan battery operated LED candles. But walk in to any Target, Home Depot or Lowes today, and it might as well be December 1st.
As was the case last year, I offer my apologies to the gentleman who made this particular meter of poetry famous.
After listening to the news and reading almost identical headlines throughout the media for the last 2 weeks, I thought I'd do some basic statistical research in a personal attempt to achieve some meaningful perspective.
I also remember many decades ago in my youth when I was studying Buddhism, as I meditated each evening, I used to ask for enlightenment and understanding why people did the things they did to others. As I grew older and gained that enlightenment and understanding, I stopped asking - because the truthful answers I received were making me angry and turning me into a jaded, bitter man. Age has mellowed me somewhat, but this particular exercise brought back some profound emotions and rekindled some latent anger.
So below the stylized Nematomorpha, I present my findings; as an old mentor of mine told me a long time ago, "If the truth hurts, then it probably should."
Almost 30 years ago, on Christmas Day, just before I left the East Coast for good, I finally mustered the gumption to visit the (then new) Vietnam Memorial in DC. I figured nobody would be there, and I was right... it was cold as hell- that kind of humid, icy cold in the low teens that slices through your sinuses and burns the lungs with each breath. As light snow flurries slowly began to fall and while the rest of the city was opening their presents, sipping their toddies and enjoying their morning festivities, I leisurely walked toward the monument, trying to kill a few hours before my flight for California took off from National.
I hadn't been entirely sure how I'd react - a part of me wanted to turn around, get back on the Metro and wait in the warm comfort of the terminal, but something drew me there anyway. I couldn't have anticipated what would happen as my trudging feet left dark footprints on the light dusting of snow....
“Freedom!” scream the Tea Party people when they gather to fly their confederate flags, shout epithets at gay people, mock the elected leader of the Free World for his color and co-opt a Constitution that few of them have ever taken the time to read - if indeed they know how to read at all. “Freedom!” they cry as they and their neocon fringe groups plan an armed insurrection in Washington, DC this upcoming May after their “success” in Nevada against those Evil Federal People in the Bureau of Land Management who were attempting to - wait for it - here it comes: ENFORCE THE LAW.
At times I’ve wondered about the very definition of “freedom” anymore, given the latest supreme court opinions, the nature of this country’s corporate oligarchy and the apparent indifference of Average America to the slow, anaconda-like suffocation of our country with voting rights roll-backs, legalized corporate tax evasion schemes and the financial elite becoming exempt from criminal prosecution for their blatant rape of the Middle Class. Now we have the bottom feeders armed with weapons of mass destruction planning to oust a legitimately elected President via mob uprising, fanned by right wing media and the Koch reich.
Among the gifts my father in law left me after his passing was the complete works of Winston Churchill. Now there was a “conservative” for you….about as right-wing as any politician could get… or so we were led to believe. After considering the context of the times, I find it amusing to recall that in 1939 and 1940, the United States Republican Party openly hated Churchill with a fierce, rabid passion: they called him a “war monger” for requesting assistance from the United States while Germany was bombing the hell out of London - and nearly succeeded in destroying England as a nation. “Don’t get involved in foreign wars!” they screamed - as if ignoring the Nazi juggernaut was as simple as treating the Gestapo like impertinent children by ignoring them in order to make them go away. The simple fact is that had the Republican Party been running this country back then, the Third Reich would still be with us today in an expanded role of world dominion, Imperial Japan would control all of Asia and the Pacific Rim under the brutal heel of a Bushido military dictatorship and the Jewish religion would have become a tragic, bloody memory consigned to the dustbin of history.
Read on as the disparity between an oligarch and a statesman is laid bare.
On occasions where I participate in discussions with people regarding what has happened to our country during these first years of the 21st century – especially considering the mindset of conservatives, neocons, republicans, “Tea Party” fanatics and the rest of the intellectual bottom – feeders; then there’s the Kochs, the politicians they own and the regressive vision they have for this country - the inevitable questions seem to consistently arise: “With all this technology and media at our disposal, why can’t people simply accept facts for what they are without resorting to revisionism?” Or, “Faced with the reality of the facts, why aren’t the American people motivated to leave their comfort zone and act on them?” Or, “How can those people be so completely out of touch with humanity?”
Instead of trying to draw from my personal life’s experiences which seem pathetically insignificant and tame in comparison to the murderous character of the current political mindset, I instead chose to look to history and study some documented cases of what ideological subversion’s effects have on people who willingly bypass critical thinking and blindly accept the convoluted fallacies of a herd mentality hook, line and sinker. Then, as I was rereading a book I had last put down 35 years ago, the following passages flew up in my face like voices of the damned screaming from the grave.
If you’ll read on and put those words in the context of today’s average mindset, perhaps you’ll have a similar reaction to mine…
For a time, about 35 years ago, the region that dubbed itself "Silicon Valley" - the greater southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area - had an ethos different from the rest of the country. Various attempts to describe it populated with "entrepreneurial libertarianism", "garage millionaires”, “visionaries” and other snappy tags intended to dazzle and bewilder were thrown out there by the media to offer some way for the outside public to get their heads wrapped around what this place was about. To be sure, the legacies of people like Mssrs. Hewlitt and Packard, Mr. Jobs and Drs. Warnock and Geschke are well known and what they did pretty much touched the lives of every modern human being in some way. Back then, even corporations could be fallible: most of the technology we rely on today had its genesis in the halls of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center by the graces of C. Peter McCulloch, a visionary who saw the value of turning creative minds loose in an environment free of distractions to dream and create a few blocks south of Page Mill Road - and instead of having the vision to understand, commercially develop and market their genius, they essentially ignored it or gave it away in favor of a conservative decision to continue the pursuit of their tried and true business model: copiers. That conservative decision cost them billions, if not trillions of dollars. Since then, business has managed to manipulate America’s laws into privatizing profit while making the public absorb their losses. Below the fold, I explain what this has to do with why it’s so important that Congressman Mike Honda is reelected and his opponent needs to be defeated in a very big, convincing way.
Warning: This is a long post.
My purpose here is twofold: first, to provide insight directly relating to a recent diary demanding the release of the much-discussed “Torture Report”; and second, to demonstrate the level of credence currently given to citizens who have grave concerns about the behavior of their government and express them to someone they are led to believe will hear their grievances in a high position of authority.
It needs to be clearly understood here that no immediate direct action was ever anticipated as a result of the letter you are about to read; but what was surprising was not only the wording of the response, but the character of its generalizations that deliberately avoided any direct commitment to a remedy - however small - from someone who only months before had offered himself as a champion of American Ideals and justice. So below the fold we go:
This upcoming February 6th marks the 103rd anniversary of the birth of Ronald Wilson Reagan. Conservative luminaries will once again memorialize this man and his memory in reverent, hushed tones; others will speak of him with the kind of zeal usually reserved for deity in an old fashioned Sunday “go- to- meeting” tent revival as they espouse his philosophies and quote him freely with supplications for the “good ol’ days” of his presidency.
It’s no accident that the general Body Politic continues to bestow a kind of benevolent fondness for Reagan nearly 3 decades after he turned over the White House keys to Bush 41. Notwithstanding any “nostalgia” attached to that era, it would be counter-intuitive for contemporary American broadcast media - the majority of which is owned, operated and scripted by conservatives - to willingly admit to the ongoing effects of Reagan’s presidency all these years later: the work of a man who spent the greater part of his time in elected public service deliberately unravelling the structural fabric of a modern America that had been carefully woven at a terrible cost of blood and treasure for the 204 years that preceded him. As it is, the media pundits’ rosy embellishment of the influence Reagan has had on the soul of this country obscures a contrived decades-old endemic propagation of situational morality and disregard for facts. That his “legacy” has changed America is certainly beyond all doubt. However 26 years after his departure from the White House, that legacy continues to tear this country apart.
And so below the fold I present a detailed retrospective as seen through the eyes of someone who has been fated to survive in Reagan’s America for nearly half of my lifetime with all the trappings and implications that his policies and influence created.
Warning: it isn’t pretty.
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