Why do we as a people accept and permit one occupational group to initiate killings of other human beings on a national scale but nearly all other occupational group members, who might carry animosity against others, are penalized up to the death penalty should they kill only one person? It might sound preposterous, yet that is exactly the duality we accept as normal–that politicians at national levels especially may lay waste to others and that is simply part and parcel of “diplomacy” and the “laws of war”. Yet if an ordinary citizen dislikes his neighbor so bitterly the act of stepping on his property alone may send the citizen to jail. The animosity and will to retaliate is the same, but the domain and system of accountability could not be more vastly divergent.
The stem of this license to instigate homicide at a permissible level by national leadership has been endemic in human history to such a perverse degree, people today have come to regard the killing of others by these leaders as normal human interaction, that wars are inevitable, and that lives and societies will be upheaved.
One aspect of American politics I find particularly disappointing is the lack of substance inherent in political platforms of both the Republican and Democrat parties. Since most voters in the United States have only experienced the politics resident in our country, I thought in light of this year’s election it would be worthwhile to experience another point of view that is removed from our current political ideologies.
It seems unfortunate that most of what we see today are mere soundbites of half a dozen topics considered to be of utmost importance to each of the parties — seemingly only designed to inflame emotions and provide the voter with very little information which can be ambiguous at best.
I originally had a guest blog planned for today on a completely different topic, but I ran across an article in Friday’s Huffington Post, that changed my direction. Since I was a youth I have been aghast at the fact that I grew up in a country where such things as homosexuality and abortion were prohibited by law. It seemed like this was too personal an interference by the State into the personal affairs of people and that this interference often ruined people’s lives. Then too, I grew up in New York State, where for so many years divorce was unobtainable leading to such ridiculousness as Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s wife having to establish Nevada residence in order to obtain a divorce from him. It seemed to me then, as it seems to me now, that religious dogma had no business invading our legal system.
Although there were many prior years of a movement building up in support of abolishing Abortion Laws, the decision of Roe vs. Wade in 1973 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade was a breathtaking and welcome surprise. Immediately after, however, there started the blow-back against that decision that almost forty years later continues with fervor and intensity. The opposition cites “The Bible” as the source of their angry opposition and claims that their religion, as encoded in “The Bible” describes abortion as murder, with the life of the child beginning at fertilization. When they quote “The Bible” of course they mean the “New Testament” and what they call “The Old Testament”. Jews actually don’t recognize the term “Old Testament”, to us it is called the “Torah”, since Jews believe that their “Torah” was never replaced by a “New Testament”. The anti-Abortionists need to cite the “Torah” for their beliefs, since the Gospels don’t discuss the abortion issue. Like much that exists in Christian Dogma today, there is a need to cite the “Torah” for their beliefs since there is no evidence in the Gospels that Jesus ever spoke on some matters. Christian “Torah” citation though is haphazard in that they choose what portions to recognize and what portions to ignore. The sentiments of those Christians against abortion are based in the “Torah”. What if their citation of this venerable book stemmed from an incorrect translation of it many, many centuries ago? If they cited it incorrectly in the first instance, doesn’t that destroy their whole argument that abortion is murder in God’s eyes, especially if the writers of the “Torah” never understood abortion to be murder? This is what I’d like to discuss. Continue reading “The Specious Roots of the Anti-Abortion Controversy”→
Some comments in the ongoing debate regarding the candidacy of Elizabeth Warren got me to thinking about our political system and people’s reactions to it. Warren is criticized by the Right for obvious reasons, given her strong stances on managing the economy and controlling the excesses of the Corporate Culture. In a sense she offends their sense of political purity, but then that is but a given because she is a Democrat. We have seen though on the Right that such conservative stalwarts as Richard Lugar have gone down to primary defeat because he failed the Tea Parties test of what a “true” conservative should be. Richard Lugar failed the “purity” test even though his conservative history is impeccable. In my conception political purity conforms to “party line” thinking, punishing those that fail to adhere in all respects to the standards of a given faction’s concept of standards their candidates must adhere to in order to retain enthusiastic support. I use “faction”, rather than “party”, because our two party political system actually represents an amalgam of various factions imperfectly coalescing under the rubric of a “Political Party”.
From a Left, or even Centrist perspective, there has been both amusement and trepidation about how the “Tea Party” faction has exerted control over the Republican Party. Then too, there is the same reaction to the power exerted by Fundamentalist Christians, a group that at some points overlaps with the “Tea Party”. A human trait is to see the foibles of groups we define as “other”, while being oblivious to the idiosyncrasies of the groups we are aligned with. Liberals, Progressives, Radicals and even Leftist Centrists like to believe that they are immune from the turmoil that they see in their Right Wing opposites, yet the “Left” and even the “Center” also routinely define people in terms of litmus tests of political purity. This was highlighted by certain comments on the Warren thread where people who were seemingly in tune with her domestic policy views, disliked her positions on the Middle East and appeared to hold them against her. This has definitely been true with many progressives and/or civil libertarians in viewing this current Administration. My purpose here is not one of castigation for anyone’s perspective; rather I’m interested in exploring the phenomenon of the belief that political figures need to meet all of our expectations in their positions, or be unworthy of our support. My own perspective is that tests of political purity are self defeating because it is impossible for any particular political figure to be in perfect agreement with all that any of us individually believe and politics becomes oppression without the ability to negotiate. The process of real negotiation requires compromise. What follows is why I believe that is true. Continue reading “The Pursuit of Political Purity”→
When you contemplate all of the problems that beset us in this election year it is hard not to feel daunted by the task of finding solutions. Many millions of American’s are without jobs, with the prospect of future employment seeming illusory. The top 1% of the American population controls vast amounts of the country’s wealth. http://www.businessinsider.com/15-charts-about-wealth-and-inequality-in-america-2010-4?op=1 Wages of average Americans have stagnated for the past 40 years to such an extent that our middle class is shrinking rapidly. The housing boom of years past has become a bust of monumental proportions and foreclosures are destroying formerly viable neighborhoods. Our once barely adequate “safety net” has been shredded and there are attempts to destroy both Social Security and Medicare as we know it. Despite a weak attempt at Medical reform millions of Americans find health care unaffordable, with many dying and others forced into bankruptcy to stay alive. Due to lack of money America’s once magnificent infrastructure is rotting and solutions are not on the horizon.
The collapse and bailout of our banking industry has cost us trillions and appears to have been brought about by fraudulent practices on the part of the industry, yet no one has been indicted. In fact the remuneration of top executives in this duplicitous industry has actually increased. Efforts to impose stiff controls ensuring that these artificial crises don’t happen again and that these huge financial entities do business ethically, have failed to pass the Congress. We see that the fallout from the American banking crisis has undercut the world’s economy and that economic crises in other industrialized nations appear regularly. Please notice I’m only referring to the economic problems we face and only producing a partial list of those economic problems.
We have seemingly come to the conclusion of an unnecessary war in Iraq, where trillions were spent and perhaps a million were killed, yet the withdrawal of troops is to bases that surround Iraq. We are leaving about 40,000 Americans in country, many as mercenaries (contractors is a euphemism) as we support the largest diplomatic infrastructure in any foreign nation. The war in Afghanistan still rages in a land that has never been significantly shaped by any outside empire, this despite the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the virtual destruction of Al Qaeda. Hundreds of billions are being spent and the lives of our troops are put in danger, in an exercise with little hope of success. Billions are going towards building Afghanistan’s infrastructure as ours is falling apart. Yet these instances fail to raise the broad spectrum of the military/foreign policy problems continuing to plague us. These issues include a military budget that far greater than that of all other nations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures
However, these three paragraphs still do not encompass the broad range of problems we Americans face. There is more to be touched on before we come to the conclusion that I’ve reached, that there is one problem that not only transcends all of these, but its need for immediate solution supersedes any of the others in importance. Continue reading “America’s Transcendent Issue”→