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Archive for the ‘war’ Category

#BostonMarathon

Been thinking about this since I got off a plane from vacation today.   Tonight I came home after dinner to NBC News doing a special on what this recent bombing at the marathon means for public events in America.  How trite.

Are we all still asking these trivial questions like this in the global community?  We are the last country/culture to deal with all of this reality.

A couple of thoughts:

  • American communities have FAR TOO MANY anniversaries and “never forget” events.  We celebrate our victimhood and wonder why other people (in and out of this country) hate us to the point of wanting to kill us.
  • Executing mass violence in America is a trivial exercise.  Not because we lack security infrastructure but because our culture celebrates violence and thinks we should always exact justice always.  It’s so 1850s Cowboy bullshit. And hasn’t it always been this way in this country?
  • We focus on “event protection” as opposed to a THOUGHTFUL, REFLECTIVE CULTURE.   Our culture is about immediate reaction instead of reflection and consilience.  We glorify the act.  We spectate and consume the adrenalized moments.
  • We consume far more than we give.  This has consequences.  We haven’t learned this yet, not nearly enough.
  • We spend far more money on checking my shoes for bombs at the airport than on making sure everyone has access to the Internet and life changing literature.
  • Praying does nothing.  It’s self serving.  Try reducing violence through education, arms reduction and/or other real ways.  God doesn’t exist so lets stop pretending he/she/it does and wasting precious time and energy on God.
  • I have no idea who did this, why they did it. I almost don’t care.  This will keep happening until it doesn’t.  And I really don’t know how gun violence and bombing and wars are going to stop.  It’s probably more likely to happen once we stop trying to own every thing, every person, every idea and we stop lying to each other about how it all works.   Religion is crap and false.  Most things we push unto children and our cultures isn’t about truth or love but instead is about making sure certain people stay in power and amass riches.    Try really investigating and learning about animal / human behavior and the other bodies of knowledge that help us get closer to getting it and maybe we can all have a real dialog.  For now this is getting really fuckin old, all this killing people for ridiculous reasons and in cowardly ways here and abroad

I’m saying to myself tonight. Get involved.  Make this world better in non-violent ways.

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I rather like this tight piece on the history behind labor day.

With that in mind, it is worth recalling President Abraham Lincoln’s words during the dark early days of the real Civil War. “Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed,” he told Congress in December 1861. “Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration,”

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By Ron Williams – citizen, contributor and patriot – 8-22-10

[Ron Williams is a retired attorney living in The Woodlands, TX and a welcome guest contributor to Social Mode]

There can be no question but that there are serious issues surrounding illegal immigration into the United States.  The most pressing concern revolves around illegal immigration from Mexico.  It is interesting to note however that most people, and most particularly right-wing Republican Tea Party, are reluctant to recognize that the real issue is that illegal immigration from Mexico, which means primarily Mexicans, which causes an uncertain relationship with American citizens with Hispanic heritage.  It should not create a problem to talk about an immigration problem involving Mexicans.  After all that is the border we share where most of the illegal immigrants are entering the United States.  It is sort of like talking about a race problem in the United States and not admitting that the primary group impacted by this issue is African-Americans.

It is thus, a double whammy to watch Republicans dance around the issue of Mexican illegal immigration, when that is the very issue with which they are concerned.  The first “whammy” involves a hypocritical failure to acknowledge that the primary target of their ire is directed at Mexicans.  The second “whammy”, which I will address in a moment, is the right wing Republican constant claim of their defense of the quote “original” constitution and the claim that liberals want to change it.

Returning to the topic of illegal immigration, it is not illegal immigration from Canada that the right wing is concerned about.  It is illegal immigration from Mexico. Arizona, for example, recently passed legislation allowing its police to stop anyone they believe is an illegal immigrant.  Once stopped, that person must provide evidence that they are a legal immigrant or a US citizen.  Arizona Republicans insist that this legislation is not deemed to target Hispanics.  But just who can we imagine the police are going to be stopping, blue-eyed blondes who look like they have snuck in the country from Denmark?  No, Hispanics.

It is hypocrisy of the right wing to assert otherwise.

Thus, I believe it is not hard to make the assertion that it is because the illegal immigrants are Mexicans that the issue has gained so much prominence.  I believe that the issue of race or “racism” is at the heart of the illegal immigration controversy today.  If we had Canadian citizens flooding into this country in numbers comparable to the current influx from Mexico, I really do not believe that there would be the same cries for fence building and citizenship-checking laws being made by the conservative right wing.

In fact, it is my position that the majority of Republicans know no bounds to their hypocrisy.  Many of the Tea Party group are now pushing for an amendment to the 14th Amendment so that babies born presumably to illegal Mexican immigrants will no longer be granted automatic United States citizenship.  As being proposed, the revised 14th Amendment would provide that in order to be deemed a US citizen; you must prove that you were born of parents who were US citizens.  I don’t know about you, but I might have a hard time proving that my mother was a US citizen because I might have a hard time proving that her mother was a US citizen and so forth.  How about how you?

In fact, what sort of documentation would you have to provide in order to prove that your parents were legal citizens at the time of your birth, or even their birth?  Again, I note that this was not a problem when immigrants entered the country from England, Italy, Ireland, or even Cuba.  It’s still not a problem for anyone sneaking in from Canada.  It’s those pesky Mexicans who are creating the problem.  But the Tea Party members are too hypocritical to say the truth.  And it is also a very short step to say that racism is the driving force behind the conservative right wing Tea Parties move.  They want to prevent those Mexicans from gaining US citizenship.  The fewer Mexican heritage voters created the better.

This is even more disappointing when we have to constantly listen to Tea Party members talk about their belief in the Inviolate Constitution and their speaking with utter dismay about how liberals constantly want to reinterpret the Constitution.  The right wing does not want to “reinterpret” the original document.  They just want to change the Constitution’s actual written the language to fit whatever they believe ought to be the current end result.  Again, this is the height of hypocrisy.  For example, we can see very clearly that the “conservative” judges appointed by Republicans to the Supreme Court have been busy reinterpreting long-held legal principles in a new way to fit their Conservative views.  One would have to call these judges “activists” despite Republican claims that they are just interpreting the Constitution in its “original” understanding.  Republicans now have the nerve to claim that the two President Obama appointments to the current Supreme Court are activist judges.  Hypocrisy in Its finest form.

I have a suggestion for my Right Wing Republican Tea Party counterparts.  If we are going to open up the Constitution and revisit the 14th Amendment, let me suggest that we take another look at the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution regarding the right of the people to bear arms.  There have been some questions as to whether this amendment applied to the state militia i.e. the National Guard, or to an individual’s right to keep a handgun or even an AK-47.  If you are going to start to change the Constitution to address current issues, let’s address the question of whether we should allow individuals to own all sorts of weapons.  After all, when the 2nd Amendment was drafted we didn’t have machine guns or 15-round hand guns or 50 caliber sniper weapons.  When the Constitution was written and the amendments added, we didn’t have the large-scale drug problems or the gang wars associated with guns.

Maybe it’s time we revisit the 2nd Amendment to address these gun issues.  Somehow I bet the strict construction right wing Republicans will not be so open to revisiting the 2nd Amendment with the idea of having individual gun use restricted.  But, why not?  If they believe it’s time to revisit one of the amendments, why not start to think about taking a look at revisiting some of the others.  What about the 1st Amendment and right to free speech?  See the problem?  I’m sure that those of you reading this can think of one or two of the other amendments you believe it might make sense to revisit today.

I, for one, do not believe it is necessary to revisit any of the amendments to the Constitution.  The Constitution is broad.  It welcomes new interpretations that encompass new issues.  What is so wise about the way so drafters wrote the Constitution and its amendments is that its guiding principles provide a roadmap for addressing modern problems.  What I recommend is that my right wing Republican Tea Party friends take a deep breath and give careful consideration to what they’re really asking when they began to recommend re-writing the Constitution and its original 14 Amendments.  I really believe we would be on any dangerous course should we begin to start rewriting this important and very wise document.  We can undo the very nature of this country.  And that would be a very sad thing to do.

Finally, we must come to the conclusion that the Tea Party conservatives in fact have little use for the “real” Constitution.  They will quote its virtues to you when it suits their needs, but it will push to change its very language wind that would suit their purpose.  I believe it is the height of hypocrisy.  No more than that, I believe it shows their immorality.  And such immorality is dangerous.  Therefore, we must fight against the Tea Party conservatives because if they were to have their way, the very fabric of this country will be destroyed.  And that is not something I would like to see happen.

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Pressler in his NYT article of May 18th 2010, takes a stab at explaining why Connecticut’s attorney general, Richard Blumenthal and other unnamed people in the lime-light say and perform in corrupt or dishonest ways to get ahead can be accounted for as “rooted in the dishonesty that surrounded the Vietnam-era draft.”

If only life was so simple and had a list of absolute causes and values as he posits.  His argument is flawed; No, not in the straw-man ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ sense.

Just because he lived in the midst of the Vietnam War changes doesn’t give him or his generation any special knowledge [as implied] of that period he calls the “The Technicality Generation”.

“… many in my generation knew they were using a broken (but legal) system to shirk their duty. They cloaked themselves in idealism but deep down had to know they were engaging in a charade. (I, too, was against the Vietnam war and felt that people should protest, but not dodge their draft responsibility.)

The above quote shows that what Pressler valued, others didn’t, be it the system, the War, the ‘duty’ to serve, and so on.  It also points out a more insidious case that (1) fear of consequences is a pervasive driver of behavior and (2) we [Homo sapiens] don’t have the slightest understanding of why we do what we do and don’t do what we don’t do.

The latter point (2) is the point of this response to his article.

Pressler has confused the causes with some effects — in his castigation of others in his article. It is not BECAUSE of the Vietnam War, but having an understanding of what you value was up for assessment in the 60’s.  Rules of life were changing.  More and more people were seeing patterns that didn’t make sense.  More and more people were questioning the basis of past rules in the context of their 28,500 days on earth.  They were questioning the basis of past antecedents linked to how they were supposed to behave as well as the expected consequences for that behavior.

The fact that “someone poorer or less educated, and usually African-American, had to serve” when others didn’t, is one of those consequences in life, not just for Vietnam, but for life in general.  As a Rhodes Scholar Pressler might want to review history, contingencies  management, and factors modulating individual behavior.

Besides finances and education, many of those who served were also culturally separate, had different histories, had different contexts and had different prospects for the immediate futures than those who didn’t.  Yes, there were a large number of African-Americans.  There was also an abundance of other minorities as well, just as it is today in a volunteer armed services world.  This ‘abundance’ has an abundance of causes.  None of those minorities had exactly the same set of values [learned rules in cultural – community] for enlisting, serving or NOT serving and avoiding Vietnam.

This Pressler logic implies that everyone who used the law, their circumstances, etc., and didn’t go to Vietnam had similar values and everyone that did go to Vietnam had a different set of values – like those aligned with Pressler himself which he contends were the correct values.  As if Pressler himself or his generation invented functional dualism, Pressler then castigates others for not doing what he did concerning his definition of “basic responsibilities.”

“Once my generation got in the habit of saying one thing and believing another, it couldn’t stop.”

Please!

If all that happened in the 60’s hadn’t happened as it did, things would be different today than they are.

His contention is that things would be better.  I maintain that he has a long way to go to show any such reason for that conclusion. If anything he has shown that ‘the system’ that he and others fought for, works…  including catching up to Mr. Blumenthal’s and having the consequences of his betrayal of constituents, state, friends and family come into play.  Maybe due to the thorough level of vetting of individuals Pressler’s article should more poignantly have been titled:  “FROM THE VETTING GENERATION: WELCOME!”

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Seemingly random attacks and a shadowy, mysterious enemy are the hallmarks of insurgent wars, such as those being fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many social scientists, as well as the military, hold that, like conventional civil wars, these conflicts can’t be understood without considering local factors such as geography and politics. But a mathematical model published today in Nature (see Nature 462, 911–914; 2009) suggests that insurgencies have a common underlying pattern that may allow the timing of attacks and the number of casualties to be predicted.

A couple of issues to consider:

Say these researchers are “right”, what would we do then with a prediction of insurgency?  How would we prevent attacks and under what justification?

Does the data consider all failed or near insurgencies?

Are Nature and the authors beyond the scope of scientific research make an assertion that a model for human insurgency has been found before any real verification?

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