“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”   

“You simply cannot make more (reefs), unless you have a few thousand years to wait.” ~ Doug Rader, chief ocean scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund

  

Laughing Gull Coated in Heavy Oil

  

“The insufferable arrogance of human beings to think that Nature was made solely for their benefit, as if it was conceivable that the sun had been set afire merely to ripen men’s apples and head their cabbages.” ~ Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, États et empires de la lune, 1656
Oil-Coated Brown Pelican Floating Near Grand Terre Island

Forty-five days ago (April 20, 2010), a catastrophic explosion at Deepwater Horizon set into motion this country’s worst environmental disasters. I have yet to write about the oil spill not because I do not care about what is happening, but because I am so enraged that I cannot gather my thoughts into a cogent post that is nothing more than ranting. But I suppose what really set me off and got me to post finally is the latest from Sarah Palin on the spill. With her usual flow of illogic—which I have stopped trying to analyze—Palin blames extreme environmentalists for the massive spill:  

With [environmentalists’] nonsensical efforts to lock up safer drilling areas, all you’re doing is outsourcing energy development, which makes us more controlled by foreign countries, less safe, and less prosperous on a dirtier planet. Your hypocrisy is showing. You’re not preventing environmental hazards; you’re outsourcing them and making drilling more dangerous.  

Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country’s energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas. It’s catching up with you. The tragic, unprecedented deep water Gulf oil spill proves it.  

That’s right, Palin. It’s the environmentalists, you know, the same ones who claim that there is global warming. Preposterous, right? I mean, it did snow this past winter, didn’t it?  

“I do not think there should be a limit on the rig’s liability, because they are sitting on top of unlimited amounts of oil, and thus, there could be an explosion occur that could do untold damage . . . The amount of damage that an offshore oil rig can do is infinite.” ~ John Chafee, Senate Floor Debate (3 August 1989)
Dying Young Heron Amidst Oil in Barataria Bay

Stinking statistics and ridiculous rhetoric related to Gulf oil spill:  

  •  U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt recently stated that two separate teams of scientists calculated the leak to be between 504,000 and more than a million gallons a day. Original estimates were 210,000 gallons a day
  • Picture this: If 39 million gallons of oil has spilled, the oil would fill enough jugs to stretch from the Louisiana marshes to Prince William Sound in Alaska. That’s where the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989, spilling nearly 11 million gallons.
  • According to a report by the Interior Department’s Inspector General, Mineral Management Service Employees, those tasked with oversight of offshore drilling,  allowed industry officials to fill in their own inspection reports, accepted gifts of meals and tickets to sporting events from oil and natural gas companies, and viewed porn on government computers. Not surprisingly, Minerals Management Service Director Elizabeth Birnbaum stepped down from the job she has held since July 2009.
  • According to BP CEO Tony Hayward, “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”
  • Also from Hayward:  “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest.”
  • And of course, there’s the pity card: “What the hell did we do to deserve this?” and then this gem: “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back.” Oh. Poor baby.
  • Spill workers have been falling ill with flu-like symptoms, which has led to concerns about hazards and whether or not the workers may be affected adversely because they are not being provided with enough protective equipment, as many in the Gulf have been spotted without goggles or respirators.
  • In response to the hospitalization of seven workers, humanitarian Hayward questioned the cause of their sickness: “I’m sure they were genuinely ill, but whether it had anything to do with dispersants and oil, whether it was food poisoning, or some other reason for them being ill.”
  • In the Florida panhandle and on nearby Alabama beaches, waves of gooey tar blobs have been washing ashore
  • On the too obscene not to be true, a website has gone up so that people can bet on which species become extinct first. No. I’m not providing the link.
“Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.” ~ Henrik Tikkanen

Perhaps the most gut-wrenching aspect of this whole thing is that even when BP finally manages to stop the oil flow, the ramifications will continue for years. Economically and environmentally, this spill will wreak havoc for decades. Need proof? A 2001 survey by NOAA surveyed 96 sites along 8,000 miles of coastline and found that a total area of approximately 20 acres of shoreline in Prince William Sound are still contaminated with oil. This was 12 years post Exxon Valdez spill.  

  

River of Crude Oil Floating atop the Gulf (aerial picture 6-2-10)

  

I had wanted to include an incredible slide show that I found on Huffington Post, but could not figure out how to get that show into this post. The best I can do is to offer the link: Gulf Oil Spill (PHOTOS): Animals In Peril.  (If anyone knows how to embed a slide show, directions would be lovely.)

Oh. And just because, I must include that “Drill Baby Drill” mantra that Palin loves . . .

Ignorance must indeed be bliss. I can think of no other reason why this woman smiles so much.  

That’s all for now. The Internet is acting up and may be getting ready to go away. I just wanted to get this post up tonight.  

More later. Peace.  

Music by Cyann & Ben, “A Moment Nowhere”  

“Stupidity is better kept a secret than displayed.” Heraclitus of Ephesus

Fire and Smoke Chugach Foothills Anchorage by JJ

Smoke Blankets the Anchorage Bowl (Chugach Foothills) by Janson Jones

One can realise a thing in a single moment, but one loses it in the long hours that follow with leaden feet.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” ~ Confucius

Today was a pain doctor day: Only 10 shots in my neck, shoulders, back and other places. Not too bad, especially since I wasn’t feeling that bad. Kind of a weird statement, I know: Only 10 shots! Came home and crashed for several hours. What is up with my tolerance and my body? I am not liking the way that I have felt for the past two weeks or so. Absolutely no energy. Feels like someone comes into my bedroom at night and walks across my body. Okay, so maybe that’s just the dogs, but I have been just useless as far as accomplishing anything, and I really hate that.

j0395964Not that I’m the Tazmanian Devil on my best days, but feeling and reacting like Elmer Fudd is kind of a downer. Seems like I don’t really get good sleep until about 8 in the morning after the dogs have decided that I’m not going to get out of bed anymore for a while. Bizarre, totally bizarre.

My doctor says that someone in his group received funding for trials on a new pain med, wanted to know if I was interested. Sign me up. I’ll try pretty much anything at this point. Short of wearing patches all over my body to lessen pain and improve cognitive abilities, I seem to be at a standstill.

I had planned to write about something else today, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what it was. Perhaps it will come to me sometime tonight, or maybe never. It’s not exactly ennui that overshadows me, something less debilitating but still keeps me from being able to puncture this thought bubble that leads nowhere. Oh well.

Heard but Not Seen:

So in the meantime, I thought that I would just throw out a few quotes from people who have been in the news lately. There has just been too much going on to pass this up, what with the governator resigning and politicos cheating and a Supreme Court nominee, who can choose? I know that I’m not quite current in my selections, yet, these little gems were just too good to let go without at least a little nod from Lola.  

“Americans will respect your beliefs if you just keep them private. Keep it private.” ~ Bill O’Reilly, Fox News

Brian Kilmeade on “Fox and Friends” had this to say recently when discussing a study dones in Finland and Sweden that shows that people who stay married are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s: “We are — we keep marrying other species and other ethnics and other . . . See, the problem is the Swedes have pure genes. Because they marry other Swedes . . . Finns marry other Finns, so they have a pure society.”

Okay. Well, other species huh? Woman marries jackass? I don’t think that that’s exactly what Kilmeade had in mind, but who can decipher exactly what this braniac had in mind when he plummed the depths of interspecies marriage. Maybe he’s been watching a little too much Star Trek, or maybe no one ever bothered to explain the term eugenics to Kilmeade.  Maybe Brian should have listened to sage Bill O’Reilly. Things that make you say hmm . . .

“Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.” ~ Oscar Wilde

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford on his relationship with Maria Belén Charpur: “This [relationship with Chapur] was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story. A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day.”

Gee governor, I’m sure that your spouse is delighted to hear that your illicit affair with the Argentinian woman was a “love story.” That makes what you did so much easier to accept. You and John Ensign should get together to discuss how to humiliate your spouses, families, and party, especially since both of you have been so openly critical of others who misstepped on the moral line, like Larry Craig, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, to name but a few. Just glad that neither of your wives joined you for your mea culpa speeches at the microphones.

“It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful.” ~ Anton LaVey

Dorothea Lange photo
Photograph by Dorothea Lange, Great Depression

Missouri State Representative Cynthia Davis stepped into the national spotlight with her finely crafted logic regarding the state’s summer food program: This one was so good that I thought that I would include most of the State Representative’s motivational message:

Who’s buying dinner? Who is getting paid to serve the meal? Churches and other non-profits can do this at no cost to the taxpayer if it is warranted . . . Bigger governmental programs take away our connectedness to the human family, our brotherhood and our need for one another. Anyone under 18 can be eligible? Can’t they get a job during the summer by the time they are 16? Hunger can be a positive motivator. What is wrong with the idea of getting a job so you can get better meals? Tip: If you work for McDonald’s, they will feed you for free during your break.

You go woman. With logic like this, I see a position in Congress in your future. Abolish those frivolous programs that give food to the hungry. Who needs them? Only one in five children in your state, but what the hell? I see your point. I really do. Let those poor people huddle around the table at dinnertime and dine on their togetherness. The arid taste of nothing on the tongue is akin to sweet, sweet honeydew if a little bit of imagination is applied.

I simply cannot wait to hear your reasons for abolishing state-supported programs for providing heat for the poor during the winter: Hypothermia can be a great motivator for physical fitness. Two hundred jumping jacks can produce enough body heat to sustain an individual for an hour. Disabled? Crippled? Pshaw. Use those walkers as weights.

By the way, Ms. Davis, when did you last go without a meal?

“I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is.” ~ Sarah Palin

Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska: Where to begin? At the beginning? Nay, too much fodder for this little forum. Let’s just pick up where she left off on her Facebook page: “How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it’s about country . . . Though it’s honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make.”

Far be it from little me to question the decision of Palin to leave her term in office with 17 months to go, but I’m having a little bit of a problem in understanding exactly how her resignation is “about country,” that is, unless Sarah the Obtuse has finally realized that going far, far away would be good for her state and the country. But this “higher calling” business really has me perplexed.

Is her higher calling to join a seminary? Will she, too, learn how to cast out demons as her pastor has done? Is her higher calling to join “Fox and Friends” as a pundit? That might work because I believe that there is a wardrobe allowance for Fox’s motley cast of characters, and we all know how Palin loves her clothes. Or maybe she’s taking time to regroup and write her memoirs.

I can see it now: I Was Robbed in 2008 Because the Liberal Media Didn’t Understand Me. Of course, since Palin is so well-read and a Constitutional scholar to boot, there won’t be any ghost writing for her. No sirree. She’ll just use that can-do spirit of hers to churn out those pages. Perhaps she could take a tip from Cynthia Davis and forego eating while writing. That way, Palin will be super motivated to dissect her interview with Katie Couric.

(Do you think the publishers will be able to include pop-up pages showing Palin winking at key points? Just a thought.)

“People before the public live an imagined life in the thought of others, and flourish or feel faint as their self outside themselves grows bright or dwindles in that mirror.” ~ Logan Pearsall Smith  

I’m not going into the hinterlands of the whole Michael Jackson may or may not have been murdered/abducted by aliens/followed in the footsteps of Elvis. Too much there, and too many people are way tooo serious about it. King of Pop. Boy who would be man. Pedophile. Jacko. Doubtless, we will be pulled into the morass that may or may not have been Jackson’s true story for months, nay years to come.

Books from those who purport to have known the real Michael Jackson. Tell-alls in the National Enquirer by his housekeeper, his nurse, his pool man, his Neverland gameskeeper. It’s all so tawdry, and really, really beyond the pale. He was an entertainer not a god, a singer who reached his artistic apex with Bad and Thriller. He was a man who was obviously plagued by such incredible insecurity that he completely changed his physical appearance over the years. What he did or did not do to himself, to others, we will probably never really know.

Andy Warhol Artificial by Billy Name
Andy Warhol by Billy Name

Anyway, the real tragedy here, folks, is how we continually put people onto pedestals, raising them to greater heights than perhaps they ever wanted or maybe they ever deserved. Lest we forget:

“Celebrity-worship and hero-worship should not be confused. Yet we confuse them every day, and by doing so we come dangerously close to depriving ourselves of all real models. We lose sight of the men and women who do not simply seem great because they are famous but are famous because they are great. We come closer and closer to degrading all fame into notoriety.” ~ Daniel J. Boorstin

Well, I’m sure that there are others who I have missed in my latest Heard but Not Seen compilation. I hope that they won’t be too terribly put out that they didn’t garner a mention this time. Never fear, though. There will always be another.

More later. Peace.