Tue, 23 December 2014
Rudy Giuliani has found a theme in public statements by President Obama. It is that everybody should hate the police.
It occurs to me that a simple sense ethics will compel Mr. Giuliani to hold others to similar standards. It has to. His well known level of integrity demands it.
Tue, 2 December 2014
Not quite buried in news accounts of protest, violence, and frequent missteps of authorities, was an incident that should have enraged pretty much everyone on every side of every aspect of Ferguson events. The New York Times published the home street and town where Officer Darren Wilson lives, along with the name of his new wife.
It reminds me of another incident from years ago. It is especially interesting to me how reactions have shifted.
Tue, 30 September 2014
The unraveling of the Secret Service protection of President Obama is a scary thing for those of us who remember the most painful moments of the 1960s, or the near murder of another President almost 20 years later. It now appears that two demented individuals came very close to repeating searing events, not while our President was on a sidewalk or in an automobile. They both came closer than we knew at the time, both violating the People's House. The White House is where the President and his family live, where the first couple sleep at night, where their children have played while growing up.
Gunshots have broken a window in the family living quarters. A man carry a knife came very near. Had the first family been delayed even a few minutes in leaving on a trip, and had the intruder turned left instead of right at a critical juncture, tragedy might have struck again.
In a literal sense, it hits close to home.
Thu, 29 May 2014
There really are a small number of activists so devoted to ideology they cannot find within themselves any sympathy for the families of the Sandy Hook children. Some parents of those little kids still report anonymous messages of hostility.
And this newest tragedy carried with it yet another stunning reaction. The open letter on a conservative website targeted the grieving father who had appeared on television.
Sun, 25 May 2014
We got news reports of the attacks on the base, and Marine fatalities, just as his messages suddenly stopped. We realized that electronic communication would not be possible during transport, but as days dragged on, fear bore down a little harder. I had private talks with God that were a little harsher than usual. Of course, we feared the worst.
He eventually was able to let us know he was safe.
I occasionally think back on that time, and on the prayers. We still carry the relief that came when we heard from him. I also carry the inherent selfishness, the zero-sum nature of my talks with God. Please, Lord, let it be other families who get the bad news.
Mon, 12 May 2014
Cliven Bundy started as a conservative cause célèbre. He was surrounded by a small, brave, band of patriots standing courageously against federal tyranny.
Then came this:
"I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro."
Followup televised clarifications haven't helped him, but the very first interview endowed him with the green glow of conservative kryptonite.
Even the wingiest of wingnuts have scrambled for lead shields. The gleeful aiming of firearms at fleeing workers from the Bureau of Land Management has gone from the subject of bombastic boasts to the subject of FBI investigations. Members of Cliven Bundy's well armed band of brothers are now the keystone cowboys.
Racial suspicion remains the undercurrent of American politics. But recognizable, overt, in-your-face, racism strikes a painful nerve. Conservatives have nurtured the myth that racism is over, that the only remaining racism lies within those who perceive racism.
Thu, 8 May 2014
North Carolina's new Republican nominee for the United States Senate, Thom Tillis, is Speaker of the State House of Representatives. He has worked tirelessly to cut back Medicaid in North Carolina. Folks in Thom Tillis' state who are seriously ill or disabled, and who cannot afford medical insurance, are blocked from receiving federal help.
Speaker Tillis refers to objections to the restrictions as "whining coming from losers." He is on video describing to an appreciative audience how he intends to appeal to those losers.
Wed, 7 May 2014
Senator Lindsey Graham summarizes the memo, but he relies more on what he knows in his heart about motivation than he does on actual content.
Bill O'Reilly provides a motive for the conspiracy.
It really is the coverup, isn't it, that implicates more than the crime that's being covered up?
The conspiracy theory does have a major flaw.
Sun, 27 April 2014
Professor Ian Morris of Stanford University knows how to sell his work. He has just published a book the central thesis of which is that war, over the long range, is good. The implication is that we should want more of it, because war brings peace.
He has written the short version in an article published by the Washington Post last week. His logic isn't hard to follow. War leads to to expansion, which leads to empire, which leads to law, which leads to order, which is ... well ... peace. What holds it all together is economic interest.
Empires were established to enrich those who ran the base countries. Romans wanted to tax dominated subjects. It was messy, but it worked. They put taxing franchises up for local bid in the conquered provinces. Those individuals who paid enough for the privilege were given their quotas. At tax time, they sent the required amount to Rome. If they collected more, they were allowed to pocket the difference.
That pretty much explains how tax collectors are viewed in the New Testament, and why the fact that Jesus would occasionally commune with them was a potent accusation. Tax collectors were not popular people.
But empires also benefited from trade. Trade routes were protected from lawlessness. Trade had the unintended effect, from the viewpoint of the rulers, of benefiting both sides of each bargain. The Empire was enriched, and so were those in conquered territories.
Sun, 23 March 2014
The dictabelt recording is filled with clicks and a consistent background hiss, but the voice of Richard Nixon is audible.
I was a college student, a participant in anti-war activities, when I heard about the incident.
The turmoil of those days is painful to recall, even four decades later. The expansion of the Vietnam war into Cambodia had been announced a week earlier. Then four protesting students were killed at Kent State by National Guard troops. We didn't know then that more students would be killed soon after at Jackson State University in Mississippi.
A restless President had been roaming through the White House as late Friday became early Saturday. At 1 AM, he telephoned Nancy Dickerson of NBC, waking her at her home. At 4 AM, he put on loud music in a sitting room. A sleepy employee wandered out to see what was going on. President Nixon invited him on a late night excursion.
A few months ago, news outlets ran retrospective stories as a Nixon private recording was made public. Richard Nixon had dictated his account of that restless night. Students against the war were camped nearby at the Lincoln Memorial. The President seemed to think of himself as bold, even a bit heroic, as he traveled that short distance to convince the young protesters of the error of their position.