Here’s to a great 2015! | MoveOn.Org | Democracy In Action. – Happy New Year! Finally emerging from the long year that was 2014 feels wonderful! Things were still accomplished, though. In this video Robert Reich shows that even in the dark days of a year like 2014 progressives working together made strides. This should remind us be undaunted by setbacks and energize us to keep our heads up and make even more progress this year! Despite the “GOP” takeover of the U.S. Senate (and gain of governorships) 2015 can be a great year
Today is Veterans’ Day. Today we honor those who have risked and/or given their lives in war. We honor them with ceremony. We honor them with commemoration. They have more than earned it. We should, however, honor those still fighting by bringing them home.
They go off with the mission of defending this country, but in all but three instances (The American Revolution, the War of 1812, and World War II) the conflict was unnecessary. War seldom is necessary. War is more often the result of the choice of politicians, who sell the conflict to their constituents.
President George W. Bush sold a mercenary war with Iraq to the public mostly on a phony assertion that dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction ( he obviously did not). He sold the invasion and Occupation of Afghanistan on the basis of the need to destroy Al Qaeda, which were being harbored by the then-ruling Taliban.
Al Qaeda and many of the Taliban fled to Pakistan, where the Taliban actually came from and enjoys the most popularity. The invasion and the much touted destruction of the caves Al Qaeda were hiding in were therefore as ineffectual as the bombing ordered by President Clinton after the suicide attack on the U.S.S Cole. The damage and casualties caused by the ground war and drone strikes have only made the Taliban more popular in both Afghanistan and Pakistan (and increases dislike of this country). U.s internation has only intensified the conflict between the north and the south in Pakistan.
Invasion of Iraq causes Sunnis and Shiites who had been living together in peace to fight each other. The Shiite government left behind by the bush Administration, bitter over Saddam Hussein’s favoring Sunnis during his reign, mistreated the Sunnis, causing them to support the evil Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL).
In short, U.S. Intervention has only made things worse. In Iraq it has cussed a civil war. in Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers are caught in the middle of a civil war this country should never have intervened in, as they (mostly another generation) were in Vietnam. Many soldiers and civilians have died.
This carnage must end. People should not become sacrificial offerings to politics. Civilians should not become “collateral damage” and soldiers should not be subjected to unnecessary wars. Some have fought this miscarriage of justice.
These are the real heroes, people who most deserve to be celebrated today. People like Ron Kovic, who volunteered during the Vietnam War in a patriot fog, and through being shot, accidentally shooting a fellow U.S. soldier, witnessing. Mai Lai-style massacre, and receiving poor medical care, realized that the military had lied to him and became noted anti-war protestor. People like Gainesville’s own Scot Camil, who, after being drafted and serving a stint in Vietnam, became a war protester, testified in the Winter a Soldier investigation and has led the Gainesville chapters of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace. People like the late Thomas Young, an Iraq veteran who passed away yesterday after repeatedly and powerfully speaking out against the Iraq war despite suffering horribly from his combat injuries.
These are the people I celebrate today.
As the wonderful picture I got on Facebook from a post by my friend Jack Kulas indicates, today is Juneteenth. Juneteenth, which occurs on June 19 every year, celebrates the anniversary the first freeing of slaves under Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation by Gen. Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865. This holiday is as important as Independence Day. The former is the day African-Americans legally began to enjoy the freedom promised in the latter.
Another Christmas has come and gone. Despite fanatic claims of a war on the holiday, we are at peace in that respect. Christmas is wonderful in three ways. First, it is a time when people get together with family and friends to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate. Second, it is a time when people traditionally express their wish for peace on earth. This is important to think about when we are fighting to wars ( and chasing terrorists around the globe), Syria is torn by a horrible civil war, and the Palestinian- Israeli conflict is worsening. Third, it is holiday that actually unites three traditions.
The name , of course, reflects the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ. The root of the holiday, however, is pagan. The winter solstice was originally celebrated around De. 25. This occurrence was the happiest day of the year, in Europe at least, because it was the date that the Sun stopped moving down ward in the sky every day and reversed directions. The ancient Roman empire, after it had become Christian, made this day, known then in Rome as Saturnalia, the date of Christmas to facilitate in the conversion of pagans.
Finally, a secular tradition centering around the myth/legend of Santa Claus developed in Europe and was brought to this country by Unitarians (now Unitarian Universalists). This tradition has two problems. One, Santa has always been a white man. The idea of a black version has finally been articulated this year. hopefully this is only the beginning. The idea that such a ubiquitous fantasy character should always and only be a white male is inane.
The second problem is that the whole Santa Claus thing is overtly commercial, serving to sell a myriad of products. In fact, Rudolph, the most famous of Santa Claus’s reindeer, was invented by a department store. As with all things, we must take this in moderation. Besides, in a time when a horde of reverse santas (the Republican majority in the U.S. House, Republican rogue governors, Walmart, McDonald’s, etc.) are sucking up money from the poor and funneling it to the rich, imagining a benevolent Santa Claus is slightly refreshing. It also serves to remind us to turn the reverse santas out of office next year.
Halloween season has been in progress for weeks now. I have taken to long to post on it, but better late than never. I will start with my favorite horror genre of all time. When I was growing up I never idolized superheroes. The only heroes fictional heroes I ever had were Atticus Finch and Karl Kolchak.
iI consider Kolchak to be a progressive hero. He fought the establishment and in one episode, “Primal Scream”, he fought an oil company. Instead of fists he used his brain, writing ability ( the pen is indeed mightier than the sword), connections in low places, and more courage than I or most people have.
I was introduced to him a birthday party 38 years ago where we watched the above- mentioned espisode of ” Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” I fell in love with the show immediately.
I later found out that, of course, the series was preceded by two TV movies. The first of these, “The Night Stalker”, was broadcast on ABC in 1972, and was the most watched TV film ever up to that point. It is definitely a classic, what one critic one called a brilliant combination of comedy and horror, one that I watch every year. This unique drama is food for thought, especially for a progressive activist.
Without further ado, here is “The Night Stalker”
Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. May you have a magnificent day enjoying the love and respect you richly deserve.