The questioning of prospective Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel by Republican Senators was startling in its ferocity. Thoughtful answers were interrupted with demands of "Yes or No." Gotcha questions of the when-did-you-stop-beating-your-underaged-illicit-lover type were pursued well past any dead end.
You can expect today's Republicans, fresh from what to them was a surprising and emotionally crushing defeat at the ballot box, to take a harshly partisan tone whenever the opportunity presents itself. A habit that began on January 20, four years ago, will hardly end right away. And there is an element of fear of the Republican base at work. We saw this in the Benghazi rage, with one Senator a few days ago speculating that the Secretary of State had gotten away with murder. Lindsey Graham seemed quite sincere about that, as he made his murder charge on Fox News Monday evening.
But the questioning of Chuck Hagel was personal. The anger was palpable. And there was a measure of outside power behind it. It is reflected by some of the big money running anonymous ads from "liberals" who say they will remain nameless out of fear of retribution from the ruthless Obama administration. Uh huh. I suppose there is someone, somewhere, who believes the television ad campaign is not financed and run by well heeled conservatives, with a well known Republican agency funneling the money. I confess to a degree of suspicion about that.
As late as 2000, then Senator Chuck Hagel was known as a reliably conservative Republican from Nebraska. He was co-chair of John McCain's campaign for President in 2000. McCain, during that campaign, spoke warmly of Senator Hagel as his own prospective Secretary of Defense.
What happened between then and now? What caused not just the opposition but the snarling junkyard dog level of white hot hostility?
It seems obvious to me it was Hagel's lukewarm endorsement of the Iraq invasion, followed by his increasing criticism. It is true that Hagel was long, long ago critical in retrospect about the Vietnam war as well, the war in which he was a combat hero. But by the time he revealed his feelings about that conflict, pretty much everyone had tired of defending a war that turned out to be such a disaster. Nobody resented Hagel for that, because pretty much everyone, even blowhard rightists had long ago decided that the best thing about Vietnam was that it was a model of what to avoid in the future.
Most everyone, by now, has decided the same about Iraq. The war was sold to us by fraud and misdirection. Some sources were secretly known by insiders to be making it up. Torture was used in the hope of extracting "evidence." Pressure was brought to bear on intelligence agencies to find an atomic link. All this has become more or less known to most everyone, with the obvious exception of devout Fox viewers.
But Hagel was skeptical from the beginning. Then he became more critical when most conservatives still embraced the cause.
It reminds me of another war hero. When John Kerry was the Democratic nominee in 2004, a few Vietnam veterans were recruited by big money to deny that he had exhibited any sort of bravery under fire. The recruited stories turned out to be documented as falsehoods. But the anger on the part of the televised vets was genuine. Nobody could be that good an emotional actor.
Vietnam was a travesty. We went in under false assumptions about a monolithic worldwide conspiracy controlled by the occupants of a few rooms in the Kremlin.
But, like Chuck Hagel, John Kerry had come out against a war before most of America came to that conclusion. The fact that the war later became unpopular even to conservatives was beside the point.
Sometimes those who find the truth first get trampled.
In the late 1930s, volunteers flocked to Spain to aid those fighting for the Spanish Republic against General Francisco Franco and the general's allies, Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy. The volunteers lost that fight. Those who came from the United States lost more. They became suspected security risks. They were denied promotions. They were investigated by hostile Congressional committees.
They were known by the FBI as "premature anti-fascists."
The smears and falsehoods against Kerry have faded with time. He is thought to have overcome the campaign against him. The passage of years and his diligence in his role in the Senate has redeemed him.
The sort of anger by a few recruited veterans toward Kerry in 2004 is now repeated by a few Senators against Chuck Hagel. But the tradition of stomping on those who see truth too soon goes back for generations. It lived decades ago, targeting those called Brigadas Internacionales, the brigade of volunteers fighting a Nazi-backed tyrant on the Iberian Peninsula.
Like Kerry before him, and the premature anti-fascists before that, nominee Chuck Hagel is guilty of being right too soon.
In response to Comments on Burr Deming's
Cameron, Gun Safety, Social Security, Abortion, Palin
Nazi Germany did not arise from a vacuum, but from a set of circumstances that we do not face today in our country.
- Ryan, January 26, 2013
While America today is not like Nazi Germany of the 1930’s, there are increasingly similar circumstance that are developing. After losing WWI, Germany was in an economic mess. Hitler came to power with his national socialist party (Nazis) to restore economic prosperity. He blamed much of the economic woes on the Jews. Today, we have wide-spread (and horribly under-reported) unemployment, multiple rounds of quantitative easing which will eventually create horrible inflation, and a national debt that exceeds the entire GDP of our nation. We are inching ever closer to economic collapse. Many progressives in elected positions are blaming this on the rich that refuse to pay their fair share, hence all of the Occupy protests, which at times turned violent. If economic collapse does come, it is very likely that martial law and restrictions on our constitutional freedoms will indeed be mandated. The fact that you don’t think it can happen when the foundation for such catastrophe already exists shows that you are either not paying great attention to history, or you have far greater faith in our government and people today than I do.
Your AR-15 doesn't stand a chance against a drone or, if it came to it, a nuclear strike.
- Ryan, January 26, 2013
First, the likelihood of a nuclear strike, even during a widespread revolution is exceptionally unlikely, so I won’t even bother with that argument. As for drones etc. you are correct that a single person with an AR-15 is hardly a match. That said, if there are lots of like-minded people with such firearms, the possibility of survival is definitely improved. Ask the rebels in Syria fighting against the cruel and repressive regime under Bashar Assad if they wish they could all have AR-15 style weapons, or would be okay with only five shot revolvers. Regardless, I am not advocating nor anticipating having to engage in armed conflict against our government. I am simply exercising my 2nd amendment right in a prudent and safe manner.
...being armed is by no means a sufficient condition for effective resistance against our government.
I just acknowledged this to be true. That said, being unarmed or armed with only revolvers is even less likely to help ones’ cause in such a case.
Does one really need an assault rifle or grenade launcher to fend off a thief? Isn't a handgun sufficient?
I last qualified in the military as an expert shot with a rifle and as a sharpshooter with a handgun. That said, a pistol is something that you place in your night stand safe to provide you the time necessary for you to be able to get to your rifle in the case of an emergency. The technically inaccurately named assault rifles are deemed such by IDIOTS like Senator Feinstein because they can hold more than ten rounds, or have a removable magazine, or have a flash suppressor on the muzzle, or any of a number of other arbitrary characteristics that evidently “scare” her. A true assault rifle is a fully automatic weapon. They have been illegal to the general public since the 1930’s, if I am correct. A grenade launcher is not needed to stop a thief, but a shotgun with six rounds in a magazine and a forward grip to ensure accuracy sure would do the job, except those are proposed to be banned by Feinstein’s legislation too.
Unless you think that people should be allowed to carry assault rifles around with them in public (what, over their shoulder for all to see?)
Do you mean like this guy in my state that walked into a JC Penny’s with his AR-15 on his shoulder did in order to exercise his 2nd amendment right a few weeks ago? (He called the cops ahead of time to inform them what he was doing, even though by state law he was well within his rights to do so.) Most people in Utah were very supportive of him.
...it is a legal argument that has already been rejected by the Supreme Court.
Actually, the SCOTUS just affirmed again in 2010 that the second amendment is an individual right and guarantees average Americans the right to keep and bear arms regardless of bans and restrictions placed on citizens by the states or cities.
If you have a gun, everybody in your home is more likely than your non-gun-owning neighbors and their families to die in a gun-related accident, suicide or homicide.
- Jerry Critter, January 26, 2013
Not in my household. The only one more likely to die there is the uninvited criminal breaking in to my home. I have seen many such discredited studies, sir. If someone purchases a weapon and has no idea how to operate, clean, and store the weapon and ensures that all members in their household are appropriately trained, then I suspect the chances of accidents are indeed much greater. That said, I am a military veteran that is very familiar with my weapons and keep them secured where no one else can get to them except my wife and me. She is similarly trained, is a great shot, and was raised with guns since her father was a deputy sheriff. In other words, if a person acts responsibly, the chances of an accident is not very likely. The same could be said with owning a car. I would hope most drivers are trained and act responsibly there too, but based on my morning commute today, I am not certain that this is the case. Perhaps we need to ban automobiles for the average Americans next.
T. Paine, a frequent contributor, owns firearms and an automobile, and is trained in the use of both. He also writes for his own site, where neither is banned.
Please visit Saving Common Sense.
The question occurs to me pretty much every time I bump into the current major conservative conspiracy theory. Why would anyone want to confiscate all guns from every American? But this sort of motivation is projected onto even the mildest of safety advocates. Those who want to take obvious moves to save lives are thought to be predatory, looking to take away all weapons.
That is the message of the NRA. The slippery slope is the basis for nearly all NRA arguments. Gun safety sounds sensible. But if you surrender your assault weapon, the semi-automatic firearm with a magazine that allows you to spray dozens of bullets without reloading, then they'll soon come after your hunting rifle, your target pistol, and pretty much everything.
Why? Because those anti-gun people just hate guns, all guns, every gun, without exception. Why would they just hate all guns? Well, they just do, that's all.
Every once in a while, we do hear an argument that goes beyond the "that's all." Sometimes it involves Bambi lovers whose imagination is held captive by Disney animation. More often it involves the obligation of government to safeguard the future right of conservatives to wage a war of revolution on the rest of America.
It is true that a weapon that can mow down little kids in a classroom can also be used in the future envisioned by some conservatives to kill dozens of police officers and US troops. Conservatives seem unnerved by the the lack of enthusiasm on the part of most Americans to that planned uprising and the mass killing that will accompany it.
Apart from objections to the planned uprising, apart from those mythical anti-hunters who are horrified at killing Bambi, what reason could anyone have for wanting to ban and confiscate all guns?
I can't imagine it. Neither can most conservatives.
What conservatives can offer is evidence that a prominent Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, for her own elusive reasons, has said that the only thing holding her back from universal gun confiscation is that she doesn't have the votes . . . yet.
In fact, they can point to a video of an interview conducted in 1995. There she is, eighteen years ago, stating her goals straight out:
"If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren't here."
Wow. Confiscate all guns. Clear as day.
The problem with that argument is the original 60 minutes segment is available on line. It is an exploration of why rapid fire assault weapons could be used in the Columbine massacre, even though such weapons were temporarily banned in 1995. The actual interview was conducted by 60 minutes in 1999 - conservatives sometimes get dates wrong. You can see the Feinstein interview as a major part of the segment beginning at about the 3:15 mark.
The answer to the 60 minutes question, the question of how an assault weapons ban could have allowed a tragedy like Columbine, is quite simple. The ban was only on new assault weapons. Weapons already in circulation were unaffected, and so children died.
Human nature sometimes dictates that the truth shouldn't interfere with a good story. The conservative rage machine takes that directive seriously, stretching it as far as elasticity can go. Run a Google search, and you can get a picture of right wing blogs: Dianne Feinstein wants to take your guns. All of them.
Theintelhub.com shows the hypocrisy of Senator Feinstein stating in 1995 that she has a personal carry permit, and yet a video from 60 minutes shows she wants to take all guns from everyone.
"Dianne Feinstein Assault Weapons Ban Could Be the Start Of a Total Gun Ban" is the headline at policymic.
"Here is video," says Free Republic, "of Dianne Feinstein from “60 Minutes” in 1995, saying she wants guns confiscated."
Even our own T. Paine, a conservative who is pathologically truthful, is taken in.
Her interview on 60 minutes back in 1995 reveals exactly what her agenda is: disarming the American people. Feinstein is heard to say, “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States, for an outright ban, picking up every one of them (every gun) Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in. I would have done it.” So what kept her from doing it? She didn’t have the votes. She likely does have the votes in the senate this time, if not the House… thank God.
Why do so many - not all, to be sure - conservatives feel the need to slice and dice the truth into falsehood? I suspect it is for the same reason so many want to rig elections, making it hard for legitimate voters to cast ballots, trying to make their votes count for less.
They have come to realize they cannot win a fair election. So they need to rig elections to protect voters from wrong choices.
They cannot win a fair argument. They need to help the truth along, when the truth, all by itself, does not support them.
In their lack of confidence, they have hit upon a sad, sad fact. Cutting corners is the only way they can win.
You would think that one of the easiest, no thought necessary here, issues that ever could have been would be whether to oppose apartheid in South Africa. In 1986, Congress passed economic sanctions against South Africa over the oppression of black subjects. President Reagan vetoed the sanctions.
So both houses in Congress voted to override. Almost all Democrats voted for the sanctions. Most Republicans did, too. Only 86 members of the House voted to sustain the veto.
One of those voting against sanctions was future Vice President Dick Cheney. At the time, he said he just didn't believe in the effectiveness of economic sanctions. Most observers saw economic sanctions as the main cause of South Africa ending apartheid and, more important, going on to majority rule.
The argument about apartheid in those days concerned whether black people in South Africa were ready for democracy. Conservatives argued that black people, coming from a tribal tradition, were institutionally unprepared and culturally backward.
The history of American conservatism has included a heavy dose of resistance to democracy. Most of it has been tied to race.
Years ago, we were taught in school that the electoral college was designed to protect small states from large states, to protect political minorities from the "tyranny of the majority."
"Tyranny of the Majority" is an important idea. Certain basic rights should be protected against majority votes. With apparent approval of the majority, descendants of Japanese Americans were rounded up and shipped to camps after the Empire of Japan launched their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Majority didn't make it legally right.
But we were, not to put too fine a point on it, taught lies. Textbooks in the mid-20th century were based on historical research begun during a long, long post-reconstruction era in America, when "Birth of a Nation" films reinforced a national narrative of reconciliation. This reconciliation came at the expense of descendants of slaves, and the lies were part of that reconciliation. Actual accounts of constitutional debates make pretty clear the electoral college was designed to protect slavery from those who might, in the future, succeed in convincing a majority of voters to abolish ownership of one person by another.
In the segregated south, black people were ostensibly allowed to vote by constitutional amendment. So a series of thinly disguised workarounds were devised to prevent the exercise of voting rights.
This effort of disfranchisement has been reinvigorated by those conservatives who find themselves in a majority in traditionally blue states. The effort to keep minority voters from casting ballots has, up to now, been aimed at the working poor. Those who use public transportation to commute to and from work don't have drivers' licenses. Requiring photo IDs, rather than traditional identification, then making it especially difficult to get those non-driving IDs, has been justified as a measure to prevent non-existent voter fraud.
Now a new scheme has been launched to rig the Presidential election. The idea is to put into Democratic states, and only Democratic states, a division of electoral votes by gerrymandered congressional districts. Thus, even a landslide in favor of a Democrat would result in a Republican President.
The traditional attitude of Americans apart from conservatives has been pro-democracy. If my side loses an election, I will work to convince voters in the next election. There is always a next election. This universal respect for democracy seems no longer to be universal.
Republicans, quite simply, quite accurately, have no confidence in themselves or their arguments.
I think back to Cheney era hostility toward black equality and majority rule in South Africa. I remember the arguments about black people, that they were institutionally unprepared and too culturally backward to sustain a democratically elected government.
South Africa elected Nelson Mandela, who was followed by a succession of democratically elected leaders. It turns out they were indeed institutionally prepared and culturally advanced enough to sustain a democratic tradition.
In our own country, it appears democracy may falter. It seems conservatives are captives of an ethic that values country less than ideology, that their political party is institutionally unprepared, that they are too culturally backward to sustain a democratically elected government.
It used to be easier to talk about the legal status of abortion. We mainly had to demonstrate absurdity. The debate involved drawing lines where there were no sensible lines.
If we talk about when life begins, we fall into an endless loop. Life begins several billion years ago. It is a continuum. Before an egg and sperm unite, they are both alive. After they unite, the resulting zygote will not survive unless it becomes attached to the wall of the uterus around a week or week and a half later. Even that is a process that begins several days after conception when the blastocyst hits the wall and completes several days after that. Viability, the point at which life is self sustaining, happens about 5 months into the pregnancy. It is sometimes earlier, sometimes later.
So do we define the beginning of life as happening at birth? How about the most common popular definition, the ever shifting point of viability? Does the medical definition of pregnancy, the attachment to the uterus, work? Even that is a little ambiguous, since it takes a few days of work on the part of the zygote. How about what most anti-abortion folks want, the moment the sperm collides with the egg?
How about the true definition of life, well before the great-grandparents of the parents were born?
Applying religious teachings isn't a big help. For one thing, how far must we go in imposing a set of religious principles on an unwilling subject? A bigger problem is that God has been remarkably silent on the subject. There is no direct mention of abortion in the Bible. A few friends, from time to time, bring up scriptures that talk about identity. For example, David talks about how he was "conceived in sin." Aha! He didn't specify that he meant to refer to his fetus that later developed into himself, that it was the fetus that was conceived. Should King David have elaborated in order to forestall confusion thousands of years later? That awkward rhetorical responsibility seems a heavy burden to place on an ancient King. There is some biblical discussion about God knowing us before we were born, an expression of divine knowledge which you would think might go to the beginning of time. God knew each of us before humans walked the earth, right?
That is not to say the termination of pregnancy isn't mentioned at all. Exodus proscribes death as the penalty for killing someone. But a culprit guilty of injuring a pregnant woman to the point of miscarriage is forced to pay a fine, a distinction that would seem odd if the same laws advocated by anti-abortion advocates were in force back then. Such implied definitions of the value of life are not firm, though, are they? The more ancient of the scriptures also endorsed slavery. Authors, even when inspired, are limited by the wisdom of their times.
The real question is not when life begins, but rather when abortion should be illegal. This practical application, and the necessity of severely restricting women, is what produces a hard obstacle for anti-abortion activists.
Criminal law demands fixed lines. Otherwise the law becomes only advisory. Determining fixed lines on the basis of when life begins leads us into territory that ranges from absurdity to oppression.
I suspect it is the attempt to resolve religious ambiguity into religious certainty that pushed some political conservatives into self-destructive rhetoric. Humans have an abhorrence to injustice that runs deep. Sometimes it motivates us to act against injustice. Sometimes it drives us to deny that injustice exists. Every once on a while, Fellowship Hall discussions in the occasional house of worship fall into denial. Should we really punish rape victims if they seek abortions. Oh, that never happens with legitimate rape. If she looks for an abortion, she is evil. If she is evil, she must have been asking for it. And pregnancy can't happen unless the sin of sex is voluntary.
And so a candidate goes down in flames and "legitimate rape" becomes the talk of the nation.
The truth that God creates life even before sperm meets egg, knowing and loving us eons before, can lead some to a prohibition of any contraception at all. Contraception was indeed forbidden for a long, long time. It still is for some religious folk. The problem is the logical next step that is almost never mentioned, that God might regard pregnancy, even from rape, as a gift not to be tampered with. The step after that would see resistance to rape as immoral, but nobody goes there. Thank God.
So another candidate sinks beneath the waves and rape pregnancy as a "gift from God" gets a national airing.
Where to draw the line of prohibition, when we endow developing life with the protections and rights as developed life, becomes a problem when the implications are confronted. One of the most uncomfortable questions that anti-abortion advocates try to get out of is one of penalties for women seeking abortion. How long a prison term should be imposed on a woman? How about in cases of rape? How about incest? How about danger to a woman's life?
Should miscarriage be investigated as a possible homicide? Many zygotes do not find a uterine wall. Should a woman have to answer to authorities on whether she took a morning after pill to prevent uterine implantation?
The early abortion debates: those were the good old days.
Now the theoretical reduction of anti-abortion laws to silly standards - how long should prison sentences be on women - is no longer an uncomfortable hypothetical issue.
This is a bill introduced by Republicans in New Mexico that makes it a felony for a raped woman to get an abortion. The reasons? Well look (pdf):
Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.
Yeah. The Republican bill, if passed, will regard an abortion following rape as a felony. The rape victim will be prosecuted for tampering with evidence.
Those absurd hypothetical questions are becoming real, existential, facts as the attack on abortion takes the necessary leap into an attack on women.
Introduction, Traditional Service,
9:00 AM, January 27, 2013
St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Florissant, MO
We pray, in this house of God,
in this hour of worship.
And in this hour of prayer,
we pray the prayer we hold in our hearts
each moment of our lives.
We pray for the wisdom to look inward,
to the gifts we have been given.
We pray for the vision to look outward
to our part in God's unfolding plan.
We ask to do our part
to reach out to all God's children
with a message of promise and hope
with acts of compassion and love.
This is God's hour.
This is our prayer.
Found on Line:
"Sweet Hour of Prayer"
Back In Business
Infidel 753 notes the verbal assault by British Prime Minister David Cameron on those controlling the European Union. Infidel sides with Cameron. I suspect Cameron's attack would not resonate if the EU had not embraced the austerity policies that Cameron actually seems to like. Those policies just don't work during a recession.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite fame finds CNN promoting "balance" by uncritically embracing the NRA argument that the problem with assault weapons is their image rather than that their function is to kill huge numbers of people in seconds, and that those people are sometimes little kids.
The Heathen Republican once more invents arguments he opposes, like "if no one has a gun, no one can commit gun violence" which nobody advocates. He then objectively examines counter arguments like "if more people own guns, there will be fewer people for criminals to target and gun crime will go down" to oppose the anti-gun goals that he invented that nobody advocates. He does this by quoting discredited studies by John Lott. Did you know that gun safety advocates exploit massacres of little kids in classrooms to promote their evil agenda of preventing massacres of little kids?
T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, finds a military recruit who agrees with his anger about the gun safety issue. Seems gun safety is an insult to gun owners because it assumes someone is a threat to a lot of people just because that person assembles a huge arsenal of weapons whose only use is to kill a lot of people in an instant. Just because such a weapon is used on a classroom filled with little kids is no reason for such a derisive concern.
S.W. Anderson at Oh!pinion seems to disagree with the current Republican campaign to prevent future Social Security cuts by slashing Social Security now. On the other hand, why put off for later what you can slash today?
Chuck Thinks Right blasts Leonardo DiCaprio for traveling about using fossil fuels as he advocates for the environment. It's an argument we sometimes hear from conservatives. We don't have the moral right to speak or work or vote for environmentally safer technology unless we adopt the spartan lifestyle of the Amish. It's the love-it-or-leave-it sentiment applied to global change.
Republicans have a problem with minorities, which used to be the black vote, then the block vote, now the urban vote. Whatever the euphemism, voter suppression schemes haven't worked so far, although the day ain't over yet. Reducing hours didn't work, at least not enough to keep Obama from re-election. The anti-democratic, slavery preserving, electoral college wasn't enough. Max's Dad reviews the latest scheme: changing election laws so only a Republican can become President, no matter what voting totals show. My take is here.
Kent Pittman, writing from Open Salon reacts to the watering down to uselessness of filibuster reform. Exposing it to light may dispel the "Senate Failed to Act" headlines with actual televised talking and talking and talking.
RANDOM THOUGHTS links the leadership of President Obama to the dream expressed half a century earlier by Martin Luther King.
- Although PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, tends to lump all Christians together, he does discover examples that straddle the line between repulsiveness and camp, as does this analysis of feminism.
When Henry Lavanda Marsh, Jr. was growing up in Wadesboro it wasn't all that easy for a black kid to get an education in North Carolina. Desegregation was considered an ultra-liberal dream, and "separate but equal" was a useful euphemism. Everybody knew that only the "separate" part was a reality. Euphemism has been the tool of choice in race relations ever since the Civil War era amendments made it a legal workaround against equality.
There was no high school in that part of North Carolina that would allow black children in. So Henry left home to find a school in another part of the state. As a young adult he met Lucy Phillips. They got married and started a family. The oldest of their four children was just six when Lucy died. Henry was working as a waiter and had to break the family up. There just wasn't enough to live on.
The second oldest was Henry III. He went to live with an aunt and uncle in a rural area. There was just a one room schoolhouse and one teacher for 78 black kids of all ages, but at least it was a school. That's where young Henry went to get an early education. He was 11 when his father was able to get the family together again.
The value of education was drilled into them. Henry the father went back to college, working a full time job, studying, going to class, and raising his kids.
Henry III took that lesson to heart. He followed in his father's footsteps to the extent of graduating college. Then he went on to get a law degree, then served his country in the army.
He became an early advocate for civil rights.
In the early 1950's, conservatism got a big setback when the euphemism of "separate but equal" was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Racists in Virgina organized under the banner of "massive resistance." They would fight back with any legal means at their disposal. School desegregation was held up. Only when the issue was forced in court and federal law enforcement was invoked would they go along, and then only as far as they were forced.
Henry Marsh was still in college when he testified before a hostile audience of state legislators in Virginia against massive resistance by white racists. Public advocacy of any sort by black people was a dangerous thing in states that had composed the Old Confederacy. Henry Marsh was making a name for himself.
He was elected to the city council in Richmond. Eventually he became mayor, then went on to the state legislature.
In the early days, voting rights were attacked in the massive resistance movement. Politicians were frank, at first, in attacking "the black vote." But, as Strom Thurmond campaigned for President as a segregationist Dixiecrat, it eventually became a campaign against "the block vote."
The block vote was resisted by telling black voters they had to pass complex literacy tests, reciting the Bill of Rights by memory, or guessing the number of jellybeans in a bottle. The "block vote" was the term of choice through the 1970s, in some parts of the Old South. It later became known as the "Urban Vote."
The "Urban Vote" is a newer theme, still used by conservatives as the new, socially acceptable, term for people that many kind of don't like. In several states, photo ID laws that discriminate against those who do not drive automobiles, restrictive voting hours, and other impediments are used to hold back "the urban vote."
The electoral college itself, originally set up to keep slavery in place, is often justified as a counter-weight to "the urban vote." As voting patterns have changed, the electoral college does not carry the conservative weight it once did. In fact, some speculate that the system may soon reflect an advantage to Democrats.
Rather than move toward the popular vote, conservatives are pushing to move the system even further from democracy. There are moves to distribute electoral votes by congressional district. With what is called the "urban vote" more concentrated in fewer districts, this would enable conservatives to win the Presidency, even if voters cast ballots overwhelmingly for Democrats. Barack Obama, who won decisively last November, would have lost to Mitt Romney if the decision had been made by Congressional district.
But even this is not enough. Conservatives want this change to voting for President by Congressional district to apply only to states that tend to go to Democrats. One state that is the center of this effort is Virginia. State Senator Marsh has been in the center of the battle in favor of equal votes for all and against that type of Presidential gerrymander.
Throughout these battles, Henry Marsh III has served in the state senate, quietly pushing for voting rights, education, and economic development. Racial equality has been a constant theme.
On January 21 of this year, Henry Marsh, now 78, journeyed to Washington, DC, to see the second inaugural of President Barack Obama. It was a reminder of how far the country has come from the days of Jim Crow and massive resistance.
While he was gone, conservatives used his absence to sneak through a bill to reorganize the state Senate to re-gerrymander seats to get more conservatives elected. They also pushed forward with a law to cast Virginia's votes for president by Congressional district. With Marsh spending the day in Washington, Republicans had the one vote majority in the state senate to do it.
As the sponsor of the surprise move explained it:
"It comes down for me, as a rural legislator, to a fairness issue. I’m making sure the people of my district are represented."
It was was a reminder that massive resistance to equal voting is still alive, under a new name.
Conservative Republicans yesterday expressed their outrage at the death of Hillary Clinton's colleague and friend, Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and three others. At separate times, they accused her of indifference, neglect, and of generating false information about the death of her friend.
"Had I been president at the time ... I would have relieved you of your post. I think it was inexcusable," said Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who has proposed cutting the Department of State Budget, including security measures, by 71%. Rand Paul is hoping to be in the position of firing more future security administrators, having said he is interested in running for President in 2016.
He was especially disturbed that Clinton had not reviewed memos recommending increased security at the American Embassy in Libya. The American Embassy in question is located in Tripoli. The attack happened in Benghazi, 400 miles away from the requested security.
Secretary Clinton may also have delegated details of security arrangements at 400 other embassies and consulates, as well as thousands of diplomatic installations, to various military specialists, rather than making personal security decisions on each one.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), who voted on November 17, 2011 to cut back security and intelligence at US Embassies around the world, was critical of the lack of accurate information. "We were misled that there were supposedly protests and something sprang out of that, an assault sprang out of that and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact."
The heated exchange between Senator Johnson and Secretary Clinton provoked headlines. Clinton repeated previous testimony by intelligence leaders that information revealed to the public was consistent with what was known at the time. She said she was less concerned with the motivations of the attackers than the fact that they were able to conduct a lethal attack at all. "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator."
Earlier in the day, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who had voted on Sept 25, 2010 to cut back funding for embassy security, attacked Clinton for not being better prepared for possible violence at US embassies.
Later, after the Senate hearing, Representative Jeff Duncan, who had voted for a total elimination of $296 million from embassy security in the last two years accused Secretary Clinton of what he called "national security malpractice." He said she personally had let the consulate in Benghazi "become a death trap." Representative Duncan had also voted to de-fund other embassy security accounts.
A year before the attack, Secretary Clinton had warned Congress that proposed cuts in security by Republicans would be "detrimental to America’s national security." Republicans rejected those warnings as unjustifiable.
Others joined in the attacks on Secretary Clinton, accusing her of ignoring security shortfalls that were clearly evident.
It is obvious she should have known. After all, her critics did.
Every once in a while in the years following the incident, some odd news story would appear about her. After the divorce, she had a couple of unfortunate relationships involving domestic violence. Her stories were suspect, and it's hard not to think she was the violent one. One boyfriend ended up protected by court order.
A series of vehicular accidents was interspersed with several strange reports to police. She was attacked by a group of men organized by her ex-husband. She narrowly escaped kidnapping by a bushy-haired man. She was attacked in her home by masked men. She saw five intruders with guns attempting to steal her truck. She saw them hide rifles on her property. Eventually she told a neighbor she was seeing small animals the neighbor couldn't see. The neighbor, fearing for her safety, called police.
I was thinking of that unfortunate woman as I read about the latest political news from Virginia.
The election last November left the state Senate equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. Each has 20 seats. When one of the Democrats took the day off to travel a few miles up I-95 to Washington DC for the inaugural, Republicans suddenly used the absence in an unusual way. They brought in a bill to redo the 2010 redistricting, which had already been gerrymandered in favor of the GOP in Congressional districts. Republicans extended gerrymandering to state offices to get more seats in the legislature.
In Virginia, it already took almost three times as many Democratic votes to get a Congressional representative elected as it took Republican votes. Republicans and Democrats running for Congress in 2012 almost split the popular vote. Republicans got a hair more than Democrats. But Republicans did not get half the seats in Congress from Virginia. Out of 11 seats, Democrats ended up with just three.
The latest sneaky, unannounced move to redo the 2010 redistricting while one Democrat, a veteran civil rights leader, was watching The President get sworn in, will replicate that pattern on a state level. That's if Republicans in the house chamber of Virginia and the Republican governor agree.
Republicans have known for a while that their party is shrinking. There has been some noise about appealing to more voters. But the hard core conservative base is having none of it.
So Republicans have been trying a new strategy, one that didn't work so well for them in 2012, but may in the short term future. They are employing a variety of tactics to make it harder for voters in urban areas, minority areas, on college campuses, to vote.
Requiring non-drivers to produce photo IDs was only the start. Making it progressively harder to get those photos came next. State workers were ordered not to offer information to those looking to get IDs. One, in Ohio, was fired for protesting the order for silence.
Offices responsible for examining the additional documentation and issuing photo IDs to non-drivers were closed down, consolidated into areas far distant from those who would need to follow the new rules. Hours were curtailed, forcing loss of work days for those wanting to re-register, but who ride buses.
In Ohio, the Attorney General filed suit, lost, then filed appeals. His argument was that, when polling officials gave wrong directions to legitimate voters on everything from which boxes to check on questionnaires to which booth to use for voting, the voters should have their votes rejected.
Then hours and days for voting were reduced. In Pennsylvania, there was actually a move to reduce hours only in Democratic areas. The extreme amount of time voters in urban areas were required to wait in line has become a 2012 legend. This legend is actual factual.
Now there is something really new.
National Republican officials have endorsed the idea of taking the electoral college a few more steps away from majority rule. The national system now allows a candidate with fewer votes to be elected President. That happened in 2000. Al Gore got the votes. George Bush became President.
Republicans are ever creative. Now a move is underway to divide electoral votes in some states, rather than the current winner-take-all system: But Republicans are pushing this only in those states that tend to go Democratic. Republican states will stay winner-take-all.
Some say the tactic of blocking voters from the ballot box, making it harder to vote, making some voters essentially register more than once, is merely a partisan tool: to be favored or not depending only on whether you are a Republican or Democrat. But that view regards voting rights only as the right of politicians to their totals. Anyone who sees voting as a right for voters themselves will oppose abridgement of that right as a matter of principle.
Republicans are in a box. The Republican Congress is now ranked in one credible poll as lower than cockroaches and head lice. No kidding. They actually asked whether respondents approve of cockroaches, whether they like head lice, in the same poll in which they asked about the Republican Congress.
Republicans find it unpalatable to expand their appeal to those who now regard them with skepticism. They have lost all confidence in themselves and their arguments. So they seek to rig what they perceive to be a game.
It is a loser's strategy. And it reminds me of that sad woman in decline.
For her, it all began on ice.
The stories accelerated with time into a sad spiral downward. The descent was public. The humiliation had to be multiplied with each sad layer.
But nothing equaled the public notoriety Tonya Harding experienced as a result of the physical attack on her main figure skating competitor. Harding's then husband had joined with her bodyguard to hire a thug to track down and break the leg of Nancy Kerrigan. He stalked her from Massachusetts to Michigan and finally caught up with her in Detroit. His attack with a tire iron was caught on video. He only bruised her, but the wound was severe enough to force Kerrigan to withdraw from a competition that Harding then won.
Tonya Harding's husband was caught and testified against her. She eventually pleaded guilty to covering up the incident.
We remember Tonya Harding,those of us who do, mainly for that video. A strange man sneaks up on Nancy Kerrigan, clobbers her leg with a tire iron, and runs away.
Like poor Tonya, Republicans see themselves as perpetual losers. And so they follow her example.
Appeal to minorities? Find paths of opportunity for young people? For the middle class? For those on the arduous journey out of poverty? For the working poor?
Republicans, instead, look to the tire iron.
So I often go to various sites and blogs on the interwebs. Redstate just happens to be one site I go to from time to time. I always like to see what's echoing in the chamber. Well, yesterday, I noticed this diary post by the Erick Erickson of Red State.
What I found interesting about it is that Erick, who rose to 'net fame fanning the fires of Right-Wing Crazy, pleads to his readers to not be crazy. Now I was surprised by that post but I was even more surprised by the comments section.
It seems like Mr. Erickson's sentiments weren't well received by the attitudes he helped to foment.
|by John Myste|
In Response to Burr Deming's Effect of Anti-Gun Safety Rhetoric
Myste, in 1774 England banned importation of muzzle loaders to the American colonies. In 1775 they attempted to confiscate privately owned guns. We all know what happened in 1776.
- F&B, January 21, 2013
You do know, do you not, that Obama is not trying to ban muzzle loaders? You do know, do you not, that the Obama favors the Second Amendment? You do know, do you not, that the American Revolution was not about gun control? Except for those three facts, however, your point was pretty good.
Civilization in a form that we would clearly recognize as such has been around for roughly 8-10,000 years.
Holy crap! That’s a long time.
“It has been about 250 years since the American Revolution. We haven't changed that much.”
I was just telling my slave that same thing yesterday. After that, I whipped him for dropping the scoop in the well again and then I blew out the candle and told my wife she would get just as good if she burns that coon again.
Revolutions and Civil Wars happen around the world continuously.
It’s because of gun control.
I do not believe the eventual need to defend our constitution is beyond the realm of possibilities.
You should get your muzzle loaders and other assault weapons now, while supplies last. They will work well against heat-seeking missiles and drones.
The intent appears to be that the Federal government will not attempt to control what types of weapons citizens may own.
Where did you get that idea? Did you make it up or do you just sense that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would have wanted the people, whom they felt superior to in most respects, to own nuclear weapons?
There is no indication that the Founders would have limited any weapons that we have today.
What were Thomas Jefferson’s exact words about nuclear weapons?
As usual, the Constitution was meant to limit the power of the Federal government, not to limit the power of the People.
What the Constitution was “meant” to do, depends on which Founder you talk to. Madison did not even want a Bill of Rights. Alas, you do not get to choose the Founders’ intention, Blessed be His Holy Name.
John Myste frequently participates in discussions across the internet. His contributions here are always appreciated.
THE PRESIDENT: Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice,
members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. (Applause.) The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.
And for more than two hundred years, we have.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.
People tend to look at New York as one big city. Sometimes the image includes some brief glimpse of suburbs. In reality, upper New York State covers a lot of rural territory, miles of farm country. I was born about halfway between Syracuse and Rochester. I never saw New York City until I was in my late teens. That visit was part of a college activity.
One thing I noticed was how people in New York City crossed the street. It was a different game than almost any other place I had lived. In later brief stays I noticed the same thing.
In busier parts of the city, there is a constant contest between pedestrians and drivers. It is a little like a game of chicken. Motorists are motivated. Those in a hurry get impatient at waiting for lines of those on foot to get clear of an intersection. They often try inching through the sea of those walking. If they can make it through, they can shave precious minutes off a commute. They just don't want to hit anyone.
Pedestrians have an incentive as well. They know that if one car gets through, those inching behind will feel safe in following, if it can be done before the tide of humanity-in-a-hurry closes in. And then there will be the next car, then the next and the next. But if those walking in the crosswalk can make it through without getting blocked by that first driver, they can get to work on time.
And so it goes. Drivers try to get through quickly without hitting someone and pedestrians try to get through quickly without getting hit.
If things go right, one side loses, the other wins. If things go wrong, everyone loses. Pedestrians lose life, the drivers lose liberty, and both lose happiness.
I got interested in who wins and who loses if things go right.
Pedestrians have more to lose, right? But they usually, not always, but usually, win.
Pedestrians win by looking the other way. Most don't do that immediately. They gauge the situation through surreptitious glances and judging the movements of others on foot. But they make sure all the driver sees is someone determined not to see any danger. Not seeing any danger, once they know the driver is looking, reduces their danger, the danger they are determined not to see.
Every once in a while I did see someone on foot lose. Maybe these were out-of-towners. Maybe they came from upstate, like me. Maybe they were simply unskilled in this type of anonymous negotiation. Their common weakness was that they paid attention. And they could be seen to pay attention. The nervous looks let drivers know they could win by pushing on ahead.
If pedestrians could see what was happening, they would jump out of the way, and a driver could break through. If they were obviously committed, looking the other way, what was a driver to do, except wait?
In all but the last year of President Obama's first term, Republicans did what no Congress ever did before. They threatened the American economy, holding the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to their demands. The administration, like out-of-town visitors to the big city, worried aloud about the consequences. They offered concessions and promises of more concessions before negotiations started.
And Congress pushed ahead.
Things began to change last year. Obama began pushing back. Republicans demanded a postponement of sorts. They constructed a fiscal cliff that included dramatic tax increases and cuts to programs. The cuts attacked the elderly, little kids, the disabled, and the Department of Defense. Republicans hated the increase in taxes, at least those that would hit the very rich. And they hated the cuts in military spending.
Defense spending has gotten a little insane. The US spends more on military armaments than the rest of the world combined. We are prepared to fight a war against every country in the world simultaneously, including countries that have always been our friends and always will be. That's kind of crazy.
But Republicans are largely funded by military contractors who build weapons systems to conduct an arms race with the USSR, a country that has not existed for over twenty years.
Republicans kind of liked attacks on the elderly, little kids, and the disabled. They didn't much mind tax increases on the working poor and the middle class. But military reductions and tax increases on the wealthiest Americans were intolerable.
So the plan was to create consequences that would be intolerable for everyone. Then Republicans could hold the economy hostage after winning the Presidency and the Senate. If they were negotiating with President Romney, all would be well.
The plan got a little screwed up by an unexpected election loss. President Obama won big. Democrats increased their Senate majority. Republicans lost house seats. Even though Republicans kept a majority of seats, they lost a majority of votes. They won by gerrymander. Democratic candidates got about a million votes more than Republicans did.
So President Obama won the fiscal cliff negotiations. That left the "debt ceiling" which was actually a vote on whether to pay our bills.
That's when the President got bolder.
He declared that Republicans holding the economy hostage to put into place policies Americans had rejected was not going to happen. There would be no negotiations.
Now Republicans look to be retreating on paying our bills. They have gotten the worst of all worlds. They are, in front of God and Country, attacking the middle class, the poor, the disabled, the elderly, and little kids. So they look evil. And even worse, they are losing. So they look like evil losers.
Improbably, the new plan is to pay our bills only for three months. Then Republicans will approach the same intersection. Again. Using the same tactics. Again. Attacking the same targets. Again. The President continues to insist that he will not negotiate on paying bills already incurred. If the Republican House damages the economy, it will not be as a result of negotiation. They will make that decision on their own.
The President is winning. He is winning the way New York City pedestrians have been winning since automobiles were invented.
He is looking the other way.
Introduction, Traditional Service,
9:00 AM, January 20, 2013
St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Florissant, MO
We have faith in a heaven,
and we pray for an earth, full of God's Glory.
We pray for vision to unite us and light our way.
We pray for hope
that will make that vision real for us.
We share that hope with all the world,
with every child of God.
Our faith is faith in action.
Our faith is with the One
who comes in the name of the Lord.
We pray to that Lord,
the God of power and might.
We are community.
We come together in search for a new direction.
We come together in search for transformation.
We come together in search for a miracle.
Found on Line:
The 10th movement from AMASS by Jocelyn Hagen
The Singers - Minnesota Choral Artists
Directed by Matthew Culloton
First Lutheran Church
Columbia Heights, MN
February 12, 2011
|Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,||Holy, Holy, Holy,|
|Dominus Deus Sabaoth.||Lord God of Hosts.|
|Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.||Full are heaven and earth of thy glory.|
|Hosanna in excelsis.||Hosanna in the highest.|