If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

~ Emma Lazarus


Today’s headline: “Bikinis to blame for sex crimes on Goa’s beaches, says minister. India state minister on rape: ‘Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong'”

Senate Republicans would love him . . . All righty then . . . here goes . . .

This is how you do it:

Late night tumblr musings:

My life:

Oh those Texans . . .

The horror!

So true. Just ask anyone who knows me.

Nice try though

O. M. G. Nailed it.

Trading insults with Cersei Lannister? Oh, I don’t think so . . .

Someone has a sense of humor:

Me, every single time I take a bath . . .

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

Hope that everyone had a safe holiday. Sorry the good wishes are a bit late . . .

“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.” ~ James Bryce

   

Happy Independence Day Wherever You Are!   

    

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” ~ José Narosky

With the number of people calling for a second American revolution  increasing, I felt it important to remind everyone of the very real cost of war. I visited several sites to try to get the most accurate information possible.   

Operation Iraqi Freedom

American Deaths (from antiwar.com)
DATE TOTAL IN COMBAT
Since war began (3/19/03) 4409 3491
Since “Mission Accomplished” (5/1/03) (the list) 4270 3382
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03) 3948 3184
Since Handover (6/29/04) 3550 2857
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09) 181 86
 
American Wounded Official Estimated
  31,865 Over 100,000

     

Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan):   

It’s a bit harder to find an exact figure for total US casualties in and around Afghanistan (includes Pakistan and Uzbekistan) since 2001. Once source (icasualties.org) listed 1,073 as the total number of US fatalities. The Washington Post lists 1,125 as the total number of US service members who were killed (as of June 27, 2010). Antiwar.com lists the total number of US fatalities as 1,149. But all sources agree that June 2010 was the worst month for US casualties, and 2010 has been the worst year to date in Afghanistan. In 2009, the total number of US casualties was 317; to date in 2010, the number is 203.   

The United States has been in a state of war since 2001. Aside from the financial burden, the emotional toil has been vast. The numbers I listed above do not include civilian casualties, Iraqi or Afghani casualties, coalition casualties, or casualties in the Press.   

“It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passions, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace.” ~ André Gide, Journals, 13 September 1938

Those who are alluding to and openly calling for a revolution in this country have no idea as to what it is they are condoning: armed resistance that would result in the dissolution of this 234-year-old democracy, increased acts of domestic terrorism, possible military rule, deaths of countless Americans—those are just the most obvious expected results.  Without fail, the people who condone this action cull sections from the  Thomas Jefferson quote about tyranny:   

“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty . . . . And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”   

Lest you think I am being an alarmist. Here are some verified instances in which people are calling for armed resistance to the government:   

  • A new billboard off Interstate 70 in Missouri provides a short “citizens guide to REVOLUTION of a corrupt government” and issues a call to “PREPARE FOR WAR.” It reads:
    1. Starve the Beast. Keep your money.
    2. Vote out incumbents.
    3. If steps 1 & 2 fail….
  • Bob Basso, a former actor, is making a name for himself by dressing up in period costume and calling for a second America revolution. His videos have gone viral:
  • ResistNet.com posted the following in October 2009: “In 5 months, we will STOP working at our jobs, paying our bills, watching tv, buying things, and otherwise supporting the Empire of the United States (note the flag with gold tassle trim) that is, the bankers, corporations and politicians which have taken over our once free republic. They’ve replaced it with a socialist/fascist, taxing, warring, credit-based, fake-money regime which has taken most of our American freedoms and liberties away. We will gather in Washington indefinitely, to insist our government provide us with real homeland security by: repealing the Federal Reserve Act, regaining control of our monetary policy and economy, returning to non-interventionist foreign policy, and recalling our troops from so many war-ridden places in the world.” That was nine months ago . . .
  • Sharron Angles, republican nominee for Congress (Nevada), has said, “I hope that’s not where we’re going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, My goodness, what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”
  • Speaking to the Reno Gazette in May of this year, Angles said, “The nation is arming. What are they arming for, if it isn’t that they are so distrustful of their government? They’re afraid they’ll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways? That’s why I look at this as almost an imperative. If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?”
“Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world’s ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all.” ~ John W. Gardner
  • In a March interview, Rep. Michele Bachmann said, “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people—we the people—are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.”
  • In Glenn Beck’s War Room broadcast of February 23, Beck and friends discussed a potential future (2014) in which there has been a complete financial meltdown, taxes are near the 95 percent rate, rampant crime has made cities uninhabitable, and civil liberties have been trashed. Says Beck, “Some people will listen to the government, but others—and I’m seeing it already—they know the Constitution. They know the writings of the founders, and they feel that the government, or they will in this scenario, and I think we’re on this road—the government has betrayed the Constitution. And so they will see themselves as people who are standing up for the Constitution . . . This is the scenario that would tear this country apart, and spiral us into something that maybe we have never even seen before, including the civil war.”
  • At a How To Take Back America Conference last September, conservative speaker Kitty Werthmann (right hand to Phyllis don’t-ever-call-me-a-feminist Schlafly) had this to say: “If we had our guns, we would have fought a bloody battle to the last person. So, keep your guns, and buy more guns, and buy ammunition . . . Take back America. Don’t let them take the country into Socialism. And I refer again, Hitler’s party was National Socialism . . . And that’s what we are having here right now, which is bordering on Marxism.”
  • And finally, there are the Oath Keepers, one of the fastest-growing “patriot” organizations on the right. Founded last April the group has established itself as a hub in the sprawling anti-Obama movement that includes Tea Partiers, Birthers, and 912ers. Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and Pat Buchanan are among the well-known names who praise the group, which consists of men and women in uniform, including soldiers, police, and veterans. Members have vowed to disobey “unconstitutional” orders from what they view as an increasingly tyrannical government. In the belief that the government is already turning on its citizens, Oath Keeper members are recruiting military buddies, stashing weapons, running drills, and outlining a plan of action.
“At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.” ~ Aldous Huxley
  


      

You may wonder what this post has to do with the 4th of July, Independence Day. Two things: Many patriot groups plan to use this day to speak about their perceived current state of affairs, one in which President Obama is planning a coup sometime in the future, and we (American citizens) are at risk of losing our civil liberties.   

My other reason for focusing my post on this idea of a second revolution is that too many people dismiss this kind of talk as “ranting,” or “crazy talk,” or “posturing by right-wing crackpots.” Just remember, the founding fathers, who first began to make noise when England thought to extend its arm to her colonies as a source of revenue, were considered traitors, their actions treasonous. This is the exact comparison that many of the individuals involved in this movement love to bring up when justifying their ilk.   

I, myself, often dismiss people like Bachmann or Palin as being loony and think that no one out there could possibly take either of them seriously. This is a mistake. None of us should ever forget that hate speech and rhetoric, if left unchecked, can blossom into violence. Eugene Robinson, columnist for The Washington Post put it this way in a March 2010 column:   

For decades now, the most serious threat of domestic terrorism has come from the growing ranks of paranoid, anti-government hate groups that draw their inspiration, vocabulary and anger from the far right . . . It is disingenuous for mainstream purveyors of incendiary far-right rhetoric to dismiss groups such as the Hutaree by saying that there are “crazies on both sides.” This simply is not true  . . . There has been explosive growth among far-right, militia-type groups that identify themselves as white supremacists, “constitutionalists,” tax protesters and religious soldiers determined to kill people to uphold “Christian” values.   

The vitriolic, anti-government hate speech that is spewed on talk radio every day—and, quite regularly, at Tea Party rallies—is calibrated not to inform but to incite. Demagogues scream at people that their government is illegitimate, that their country has been “taken away,” that their elected officials are “traitors” and that their freedom is at risk.   

Crazy, paranoid, fringe, or whatever—these people have a right to speak, but they do not speak for me. My own failure to at least acknowledge that the threat is real would be foolish. This movement is real. How much momentum it gains depends upon those of us who look on but do not take sides, hoping that it will dissipate on its own.   

It won’t. At least not while so much hatred, bigotry, racism, and animus continues to pervade those vocal segments of our society, the ones among the gathering storm. Jefferson’s quote can be read in two ways: the perceived call to arms, or the admonishment not to sit idly by in silence while things around you are going to hell.  

More later. Peace.   

Music by Simon and Garfunkel (Concert in Central Park), “American Tune”   

The New American Dream: Barack Obama’s Speech to the DNC

I watched the Democratic National Convention last week with a sense of nostalgia. I hadn’t seen the Dems this pumped since Clinton/Gore. For the first time in a long time, the party actually pulled it off: Hillary and Bill got on board; Kerry delivered the speech he should have delivered four years ago; Al Gore was polished, but he should have paused just a bit more. But Biden, Biden delivered big time for Barack Obama and set the stage for the Thursday night speech that ran 42 minutes and left this full-time cynic actually willing to believe again. More people tuned in to watch this man speak than watched the opening of the Olympics, and that alone should tell you something. The first outdoor acceptance speech since JFK was predicted to be light on substance and heavy on political rhetoric, in other words, dream-filled and abstract.

Obama’s speech was packed with proposed policy details, specifically the country’s current economic crisis. It was bold and liberal and unifying. His speech contained strong statements such as this: “We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe.” I actually got chills. Remarkable. In a less effective speaker’s hands, the words would not have had such a dramatic effect.

The man is a born orator, the kind this country hasn’t seen since JFK. He knows how to reach beyond rhetoric and touch the hearts of the common man and woman who are aching to hear something that will give them something to cling to. Like this: “America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this . . . We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.”

I know that I want to be part of a better country than the American of these last eight years. I know that I do not want another four years of the same, no matter how honorable McCain is as a person. We need more than a man who is respected by many people because of his past deeds but who believes that America is on the right track. And Obama was clearly aware of this difference by targeting McCain’s policies in his speech, but never attacking the man himself.

And for those who still want to believe in some type of American Dream, hold on to this:

“You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

“We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put away a little extra money at the end of each month so that you can someday watch your child receive her diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President – when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

……….

“And I will restore our moral standing so that America is once more the last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.”

The American Dream may have been lost for a while. We may have forgotten how to dream because we were so busy just trying to make do in this harsh reality that has been our lives–the lives in which milk costs $6 a gallon and bread almost $2 a loaf; health insurance is a luxury for many, and dental insurance is completely out of reach. City public schools have classroom sizes of up to 40. A college education without assistance for most families is not possible. The infant mortality rate for the U.S. still ranks with some third world countries. Some of our warriors are on their third tour of duty in Iraq. Foreclosures on homes continue to rise, as do the number of bankruptcies. Families in which both parents work, forcing more latchkey children, continue to become the necessity, not the exception. Three years after Katrina, we still have people who have not been helped. So tell me, is it any wonder that our dreams have taken a back seat? The have-nots far outnumber the haves, yet those who continue to live with platinum parachutes and bypass paying taxes through loopholes don’t have to wonder about the price of gas, bread, or milk, and health insurance is hardly a concern.

Yet the intrepid doers still hold on. We still put out our flags on Memorial Day and the 4th of July because something in us continues to believe in this country of ours. And with luck, perhaps more people than ever will exercise their right to vote this November, instead of taking that right for granted. I don’t care if they are voting because they don’t want a black man as president or a woman as vice president. At least they are participating in the process, and that is their right, whether or not I agree with their choice.

But dammit, at least they have that right, and with any luck, maybe they’ll have a taste of a new American Dream, or at least a remembrance of the old one. We deserve that. We all deserve that. It is not too much to hope for. I refuse to believe that.