What I Wish I'd Said to the Democrat-Basher

So I need to mail a package and I've arrived at the post office pretty near closing time, and I'm hoping the line inside won't be too long.  On the corner, a young woman with a friendly smile and piercing eyes holds a newspaper out to me - a Socialist rag.  "It's one dollar, if you could," she says, "to cover the cost of printing." I say sure, hand her a buck and stuff the paper into my backpack.  Seems like the decent thing to do.  I'm just glad that little transaction was quick, so I can get back to the task at hand.   Unfortunately, she must have been trained to try to engage people.

"So what do you think about what we're doing in Iraq?" she says.

I've just purchased a Socialist newspaper and she wonders what I think about our occupation of Iraq?  I'm sorry, but this strikes me like one of those Internet advertisements that pretends to be a poll:

Do you support Bush? [Yes] [No]

But, of course, with this question about the war floating in the air right in front of my face, she's got me feeling guilty.   To be a decent human being, I must now say something.  I can't be too busy to say one word about THE WAR, can I?

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Bill Moyers, Cleaning Up Washington

Born on this day in 1934

America's corporate and political elites now form a regime of their own, they're privatizing democracy. All the benefits, the tax cuts, policies and rewards flow in one direction: up.
Bill Moyers

I happened to be reading Moyer's Blog early this morning looking for his interview with Public Citizen's Joan Claybrook which I missed when it aired on PBS last Friday on "Bill Moyers Journal."

The subject of the segment was lobbying and lobbyists and their pervasive influence on our political system.

I have a large measure of respect for both Moyers and Claybrook and an enormous loathing for lobbyists and their destructive influence on MY country and I was disappointed to have missed the program.

Fortunately for me I learned from Karl Rove that Al Gore invented the internet a few years back, and that invention led to the discovery of You Tube where I found a clip of the segment and I feel very good about the modern world this morning.

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Tell theTruth: Are You A Liar?

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The topic below was originally posted in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

So when did you first realize our country was led by liars? Was there a particular incident, campaign or speech resulting in an epiphany? Did a cynical role model let you know our country's decision makers could not be trusted to tell the truth?

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Is Gore the modern Jefferson?

I saw "The Inconvenient Truth" and then read several hatchet articles by right wingers that attempted to refute it, they failed to do so. One even went to far as to say that Gore was trying to be a biblical prophet since he was predicting vast worldwide flooding if the present trend isn't reversed. Utter nonsense.

The one thing that impresses me about Al Gore is that he is a man with an open mind, he is willing to think as Thomas Jefferson did, not close his mind as George W. Bush has done. Does this get him into trouble, probably, but he is willing to step back up to the plate and take another swing towards a different direction if required. Unlike bulldozer Bush who only knows "stay the course", and who believes in the words of Adolf Hitler, "What luck for rulers that men do not think."

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'Twas The Night Before Christmas, 1967

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post

On Christmas Eve, 1967, Lyndon Johnson landed in Washington after one of the longest days in presidential history. His plane departed Australia for Thailand, then Vietnam, and on to the Vatican to discuss the war with Pope Paul VI. Finally, the weary President returned to the White House to draft a Christmas message.

With exhaustion evident in his words, he told of his journey.

Now, on the airstrip at Camranh Bay, your sons and I exchanged "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year." I told them that I wished I could bring them something more -- some of the pride you feel in them, some tangible symbol of your love and concern for them.


I decorated 20 of them for gallantry in action. Their faces seemed more grave than the others -- preoccupied, I thought, with the savage experience of battle they had endured.

In the hospital, I spoke with those who bore the wounds of war. You cannot be in such a place, among such men, without feeling grief well up in your throat; without feeling grateful that there is such courage among your countrymen.

That was Christmastime in Vietnam -- a time of war, of suffering, of endurance, of bravery and devotion to country.


Now that the Holy Day itself has come, I wish each of you a full
measure of happiness. I hope that all of you may remember this
Christmas, the brave young men who celebrate the Holy Season far from their homes, serving their country -- serving their loved ones -- serving each of us.

I hope, too, that your hearts may be filled with peace within, as your country seeks peace in the world.

It was a somber Christmas message from a deeply conflicted man. Perhaps Johnson saw his own folly: escalating violence in the search of peace. In doing so, he found "neither peace within nor peace without."

This search for peace was the basis of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sermon that Christmas Eve in 1967. He said, "Let us this morning think anew on the meaning of that Christmas Hope: 'Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men.'"

At his home church in Atlanta, Georgia, King spent his last Christmas urging the President, the country, and the world to see that peace cannot be borne from violence. That night, he spoke of how the distant must be our dependents (and we, theirs), how the hateful must be our loved, and how our ends must be our means.

King spoke of the suffering he'd witnessed at home and abroad. A great mass of humanity was going hungry -- without peace within -- in a world that had mountains of surplus food. Neglecting them, he thought, would be to neglect our peace.

Because we would not find peace, King said, until we came to the realization that we are all brothers and sisters and that "as nations and individuals, we are interdependent." Today, in the age of terrorism and globalization, we can see more clearly how our interdependence underlies our peace.

And even more today, in our world of polarization and hatred, we must come to a new understanding of love, just as King suggested some 39 years ago. This love "is more than friendship," it is "understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill toward all men."

This is what Jesus meant when He said, "Love your enemies." And I'm happy that He didn't say, "Like your enemies," because there are some people that I find it pretty difficult to like. Liking is an affectionate emotion, and I can't like anybody who would bomb my home. I can't like anybody who would exploit me. I can't like anybody who would trample over me with injustices. I can't like them. I can't like anybody who threatens to kill me day in and day out.
Here King spoke of violent racists, but it applies today in our struggle against extremists, of any sort. We cannot allow others' hatred to destroy what is best in us. As King put it, "We must never let up in our determination to remove every vestige of segregation and discrimination from our nation, but we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege to love."

And to all those seeking peace -- and as if in reply to Johnson's anguish -- King said,

[W]e will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process, and ultimately you can't reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.

... Every time we drop our bombs in North Vietnam, President Johnson talks eloquently about peace. What is the problem? [He is] talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.

A conclusion that escapes those in power, still today.

Increasing violence had failed President Johnson that Christmas Eve, yet he chose escalation, upping 1968's draft call by 720,000 less than a month later. Now, another Christmas Eve, another war, and seemingly another escalation.

It's likely King knew his idea was still a distant dream. Because that night, he closed his sermon with another famous dream -- the one he shared on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial -- adding to it,

I still have a dream that with this faith we will be able to adjourn the councils of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when there will be peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

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