"The latest liberal crusade is against the Wal-Mart stores," Sowell writes. Informed
of an employee who said he was not making a living wage, Sowell asks, "How is he living, if he is not making a living wage?"
Why, taxpayers are keeping him alive, Mr. Sowell. As Media Matters explains, an
unusually high percentage of Wal-Mart employees depend on government programs--food stamps, subsidized housing, Medicaid--than
is true of employees of other retail businesses.
But here is the best part, IMO:
Are they [Wal-Mart employees] supposed to be subsidized by Wal-Mart's customers
through higher prices or subsidized by Wal-Mart's stockholders through lower earnings?
Subsidized? Subsidized? Does
Mr. Sowell think the company's "earnings" are generated by the Profit Fairy? Is it not true that those earnings
are made possible by the labor of the employees? And since Wal-Mart workers receive on average
$2,103 per year in federal subsidies alone--many receive state subsidies also--is it not true that we taxpayers
are subsidizing Wal-Mart?
And why would I want to do that, Mr. Sowell?
This rightie blogger criticizes the Paul Krugman column I discussed in the last post (the italics text is a quote from Krugman):
The policy model seems grounded in these words:
The average full-time Wal-Mart employee is paid only about $17,000
a year. The company's health care plan covers fewer than half of its workers.
True, not everyone is badly paid. In
1968, the head of General Motors received about $4 million in today's dollars - and that was considered extravagant. But last
year Scott Lee Jr., Wal-Mart's chief executive, was paid $17.5 million. That is, every two weeks Mr. Lee was paid about as
much as his average employee will earn in a lifetime.
Over and over the message of excessive CEO salaries is repeated, as
if this proves redistribution is a viable (dare we say it -- sustainable?) means of reestablishing a deteriorated
safety net. As if this proves ideologues won't wind up taxing all the better-off workers in order to support their less-well-off
The rightie misses the point. We're
not talking about "redistribution" of wealth. In fact, a chunk of my "wealth" is already collected in taxes and used
to support Wal-Mart company profits, but never mind that. The whole "trickle down" myth is that if we take tax and regulatory
burdens off the backs of business, and businesses become more profitable, that wealth will "trickle down" to everyone
else. Well, guess again. Businesses become more profitable, but those earnings aren't trickling down. Instead, workers
are told that since times are bad they're supposed to suck it up and not be whiny, while the CEOs "redistribute"
more and more wealth to themselves.
Although the wages of workers have been stagnant or declining since the 1980s,
the wages of corporate chief executive officers (CEOs) have been soaring. The average compensation of a CEO at a major corporation
in 1995 was $4,367,000 (Mishel, Bernstein, and Schmitt 1996). This compares to average CEO compensation of $971,000 in 1965.
(Both numbers are in 1995 dollars.) The ratio of the compensation of CEOs to that of an average worker increased from 39.5
to 1 in 1965 to 172.5 to 1 in 1995. CEOs in the United States receive far higher compensation than CEOs anywhere else in the
world. Even before counting the value of stock options and bonuses, which account for the bulk of CEO pay in the United States,
CEOs in the United States on average received pay that was more than twice as high as the average of other industrialized
nations. Factoring stock options and bonuses would make the CEOs in the United States appear even more highly paid.
The reality that CEO compensation is much higher in the late 1990s in the
United States than it was in the recent past, or in comparison to other industrialized nations at present, should raise serious
questions. Have CEOs become so much more productive relative to other workers over the last quarter century? Are U.S. CEOs
that much more productive than CEOs in Europe and Japan?
There is no evidence to indicate that this is the case. In fact, numerous
studies have examined whether there is any link between CEO pay and corporate performance. These studies have looked at the
simplest measures of success, such as the increases in share prices and the growth of profitability. Studies cited found little
or no link between CEO compensation and corporate performance (Barkema and Gomez-Mejia 1998; McGuire 1997).
The fact is, for the past several years worker productivity has risen
much faster than wages (see, for example, these comments from Brad DeLong). The fact is, the wealth generated by the labor of workers is being redistributed to those with the power to do the
distributing. We all appreciate that people who take the risk and the initiative to create and grow a business should
be rewarded, but where does rewarding end and exploitaton begin?
Theodore Roosevelt had something to say about reward and exploitation. Here TR is quoting Abraham Lincoln (emphasis mine):
"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only
the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves
much the higher consideration."
If that remark was original with me, I should be even more strongly denounced
as a Communist agitator than I shall be anyhow. It is Lincoln’s. I am only quoting it; and that is one side; that is the side
the capitalist should hear. Now, let the working man hear his side.
"Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights.
. . . Nor should this lead to a war upon the owners of property. Property is the fruit of labor; . . . property is desirable;
is a positive good in the world."
Nobody is talking about rounding up the capitalist running dogs and sending
them to work in rice paddies. But we're out of balance. A powerful few are able to reward themselves with more and more riches,
because they can, whether their companies are even profitable or not; but the workers who generate the capital are
slapped down and told they are being selfish if they ask for more.
At many stages in the advance of humanity, this
conflict between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess is the
central condition of progress. In our day it appears as the struggle of freemen to gain and hold the right of self-government
as against the special interests, who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will.
At every stage, and under all circumstances, the essence of the struggle is to equalize opportunity, destroy privilege, and
give to the life and citizenship of every individual the highest possible value both to himself and to the commonwealth.
TR's "New Nationalism" speech is well worth reading. Some of
you might appreciate this part--
The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and
we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation.
But back to "redistribution." One of the reasons communism never
caught on in the U.S. is that as the Communist movement was growing around the world, we in the U.S. had the Progressive
Era and labor unions and the Square and Fair Deals, which blunted the hard edges of capitalism. Most people would rather make
their own way and own their own stuff, and capitalism combined with progressive government makes that possible. But capitalism
without progressive government means most of us get screwed, and the wealth we create with our labor gets "redistributed"
into fewer and fewer pockets.
I realize that many people will disagree that American workers can no longer count on the private sector for economic security, but the evidence says otherwise. The Financial Times says that "Real wages in the US are falling at their fastest rate in 14 years." (For more about real wages and why we
should be worried about them, see Stirling Newberry.) Pensions are at risk. Our health care system is in crisis.
I don't believe the general public is yet fully aware of the danger we're
in. Of course, many people will not see the danger as long as the system is working for them. They're like sunbathers
on a beach watching a tsunami roll in; as long as they're still dry, no problem. I think increasing numbers of people sense
that something's going wrong, but many are still in "it must be my fault" or "this is just bad luck" or "maybe it'll turn
around soon" phases. And their employers and political leaders are not explaining the danger with true words. Instead, they're
offering excuses and empty promises.
People don't yet see that what's happening is a systemic
change. It's not going to turn around unless action is taken to make it turn around.. And there will be no action until the
public demands it.
The U.S. auto industry, Krugman writes, is "weighed down by health care costs for current and retired workers, which
run to about $1,500 per vehicle at G.M." Other companies are going the Wal-Mart route. Krugman writes that while General Motors
Today, Wal-Mart is America's largest corporation. Like G.M. in its prime,
it has become a widely emulated business icon. But there the resemblance ends.
The average full-time Wal-Mart employee is paid only about $17,000 a year.
The company's health care plan covers fewer than half of its workers.
Note that many Wal-Mart employees rely on Medicaid, which of course is facing massive
For years the right-wing mantra has been that the private sector can provide economic
security for all more efficiently than government, and government safety-net programs were wasteful "entitlements." Well,
folks, the Right is wrong. Maybe the private sector could provide for the economic security of its workers, assuming our
health care crisis is resolved, but it won't without government regulation.
But regulation is, the Right says, an evil liberal plot to destroy America. You've
heard the one about government being the problem, not the solution, right? Truly, as long as the American public believes
this, we'll remain on the Road to Penury.
What kind of an America do we want to be? Do we want to become a government that
offers benefits and breaks for the rich but does not use its collective power to support working families? Yes, we value fiscal
responsibility, individual responsibility and efficient spending, but does that have to lead to an America that leaves children,
the elderly and the sick to fend for themselves? I think not.
As Americans, we value our integrity as a nation and our commitment to democracy
more than that. We believe there is a point of compromise where economy meets justice, where careful spending enables fairness.
What kind of America do we want to be? Over the past 50 or so years the
Right has persuaded much of the American middle class that "entitlements" and "safety nets" amounted to taking money away
from virtuous working people to support a parasitic underclass. The middle class took its own safety nets for granted.
Well, folks, sometimes you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.
We value work, initiative, and self-reliance. But government is necessary
to maintain a system that rewards work and initiative and facilitates self-reliance. Left with no government
oversight, our corporate overlords would soon turn America into a place where labor is ruthlessly exploited, and in which
people who depend on a paycheck are crushed into hopelessness.
Welcome to Sharecropper Nation.
Congressman Lewis writes,
Conservative Republicans want to do away with that middle-class support system because
they believe it costs too much. They believe corporate America and the rich have to pay in too much of their profit to support
programs that have benefited so many citizens — student loan programs, teacher enrichment programs, gifted and talented programs,
Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, just to name a few.
In the name of "individual responsibility" and "shrinking big government" they are
reshaping the lives of millions of middle-class Americans, not just the poor. Most of us do not even realize it is happening.
No, I don't think most even realize it is happening. But I do think the realization
that something is very wrong is nagging at the edge of public consciousness. If we can find a way to reach the public
with true words, I think now the public will listen.
"Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor
laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of
course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are...a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician
or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
Recently Vladimir Putin claimed that the Soviet Union "liberated" eleven
European countries in the final push against Hitler's Germany in World War II. This was an outrageous thing to say, considering
the oppression these nations suffered under Soviet occupation.
Although perhaps Putin was using the word liberated in the sense of "to
overrun another country and occupy it with one's own troops." A lot of that going around.
The Nabob's provocative ideas always provoke deep and probing questions,
like "WTF?" In this case, Buchanan says that if only western Europe had just allowed Hitler to take Poland
without objection, then Hitler wouldn't have invaded France or Britain, or anywhere else in western Europe. And since Poland
was screwed anyway, what was the point? Pat asks,
If Britain endured six years of war and hundreds of thousands of dead in
a war she declared to defend Polish freedom, and Polish freedom was lost to communism, how can we say Britain won the war?
I like this part:
In 1938, Churchill wanted Britain to fight for Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain
refused. In 1939, Churchill wanted Britain to fight for Poland. Chamberlain agreed. At the end of the war Churchill wanted
and got, Czechoslovakia and Poland were in Stalin's empire.
How, then, can men proclaim Churchill "Man of the Century"?
Winston Churchill started World War II. Who knew?
Curiously, the Nabob gives grudging approval to Neville Chamberlain, who in
1938 had attempted to appease Hitler from warmongerng by allowing Germany to take a section of Czechoslovakia called the Sudetenland.
"At least the Sudeten Germans wanted to be with Germany," the Nabob says, although no one seems to have explained that to
Chamberlain's policy of appeasement worked so well that in 1939 Germany (which had
already "unified" with Austria) attacked and occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia in March and Poland in September.
But the Nabob thinks more appeasement would have been just the thing.
Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and on September 3, Britain,
France, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany. Canada declared war a few days later. The Nabob says this
was a big mistake.
True, U.S. and British troops liberated France, Holland and Belgium from Nazi
occupation. But before Britain declared war on Germany, France, Holland and Belgium did not need to be liberated. They were
free. They were only invaded and occupied after Britain and France declared war on Germany – on behalf of Poland.
When one considers the losses suffered by Britain and France – hundreds of
thousands dead, destitution, bankruptcy, the end of the empires – was World War II worth it, considering that Poland and all
the other nations east of the Elbe were lost anyway?
The Nabob believes that at some point Hitler would have been satisfied and would
have stopped invading other countries. The Nabob would have sat on his hands while German territories and resources grew,
figuring Hitler would be sated eventually and stop invading people. Remember that in the spring of 1939 German signed
a "Pact of Steel" with Mussolini's Italy (which was much admired by the American Right at the time). In April 1940 the Nazis invaded Denmark and Norway, which (I'm pretty sure) had not declared war,
but that doesn't seem to bother the Nabob. Hitler would have stopped on his own. In spite of the fact that Hitler's biographers
say unanimously that Hitler was largely driven by resentment of the way France and Britain had treated Germany after World
War I, it never would have occurred to him to invade Fance and Britain.
Of course not.
The Nabob doesn't mention it in his current World Nut Daily article (linked above),
but in the past he has made much of the Hossbach Memeorandum of 1937, in which one of Hitler's generals says France and Britain should not "appear in the roles of our enemies"
while Germany was taking over Austria and Czechoslovakia. If Hitler wasn't planning to invade Britain and France in 1937--or
wasn't admitting to it, anyway--then he wouldn't have done it once his conquest of eastern Europe was complete, huh?
The Nabob has also argued, elsewhere, that the United States should not have gone
to war with Germany after Pearl Harbor. This ignores the fact that Hitler declared war on the United States before the U.S.
declared war on Germany. Further, from the beginning of FDR's Lend-Lease Program, which played a large part in keeping Britain from falling into Nazi hands, there was escalating hostility between the U.S.
and Germany. German U-Boats began to attack U.S. Navy ships; the destroyer U.S.S. Reuben James was sunk by a U-Boat on October 31, 1941, more than a month before Pearl Harbor. Of the 160 crewmen, 115 were lost, including
I suppose the Nabob could argue that we could have let Britain fall to the Nazis.
Of course, once the Nazis had established air bases in Britain, bombing runs to the U.S. eastern coast would have been a breeze.
Maybe we could have appeased Hitler by letting him have Maine.
As for the Nabob's and Bush's criticism of the Yalta Conference, I'll defer to David Greenberg. He explains it nicely, IMO.
Winston Churchill wanted to stop Hitler after the invasion of Czechoslovakia
because he realized that Hitler was a crazy sumbitch who would not be appeased. And Churchill was right. History is full of
ambiguities, but this is not one of them. And Britain won because there still is a Britain, and because there is no warmongering
fascist German state sitting smack in the middle of Europe today.
So how senile and/or crazy does one have to be not to understand this? Good question!
Let's shove the Nabob into a petrie dish and run some tests!
In 1963, Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique argued persuasively
that 1950s American culture had robbed women of their identities as individuals. Immersed in a society that defined her in
rigid, limited way, the American woman ca. 1960 had lost herself. Second-wave feminism was born of the efforts to uncover
the unique, individual selves of women that culture had buried.
I think something like that happened to liberalism. We know that the
"L" word has been demonized and distorted by the Right, but more pernicious is the fact that liberals themselves lost touch
with the foundation principles of liberalism. Attempts to side-step the "L" word and call ourselves progressives
did not help, since progressivism and liberalism are not synonyms. Although most liberals are progressive, IMO
progressives are not necessarily liberal.
Liberals believe our common humanity endows each of us, individually, with
the right to freedom, self-government, and opportunity; and binds all of us, together, in responsibility for securing those
Can someone can tell me why that wouldn't work
as a motto for the AEI??
This falls into the category of "what were they thinking?"
Look. Liberalism is about using the power of government to make
sure that the powerless get a fair deal. There's obviously a useful and important set of arguments to make over what "fair"
looks like. But if this - combined with laughable Lakoff-ian attempts at rhetorical devices - are what the Democrats plan
on running under, I'm wondering exactly how old I'll be before Democrats start winning national races again.
Judging by its blogroll, Winds of Change is hardly
a liberal site. And as for how the TAP definition parts company with the American Enterprise Institute, that's easy. When
AEI talks about freedom and rights, they don't really mean "freedom" and "rights," exactly, but about things
that might pass for freedom and rights within a narrow spectrum of behaviors and conditions as set out by AEI. And
some restrictions may apply.
I suspect TAP uses the words freedom
and rights to mean "freedom" and "rights." Radical stuff, these days.
"Using the power of government to make
sure that the powerless get a fair deal" is progressive, certainly, but it leaves out an essential element of liberalism.
That element is contained in what I call the "forgotten clause" of
the Declaration of Independence. You know that every rightie loves to recite this part:
We hold these truths to
be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;
But righties never go on to the next line:
that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;
This goes to the heart of what the American Revolution accomplished.
When Jefferson wrote these words nearly all of Europe was ruled by monarchs. There were republican governments in The
Netherlands and in the city-states of Italy and Switzerland, but conventional
wisdom of the time said that republican governments were weak and unstable, and downright untenable in a large nation.
What Jefferson and his buddies set out to prove was that a people in a nation could govern themselves--without a King, without
a dictator, without an oligarchy or committee or party or any other Other. We, the People, govern ourselves. Government of
the people, by the people, and for the people. Government 'R' us.
of government is essential to liberalism. It's possible, I suppose, for a government that takes its authority from something
other than the people to be as progressive as all get-out, but it would still not be a liberal government.
In the past
several years, the Right has worked mightily to make us forget about government of the people, by the people, and for the
people, except as an empty phrase. They say they believe in such government, but some restrictons may apply. Void where prohibited.
And it depends on what you mean by "people."
is not the solution, it's the problem," hammered home the meme that "the government" is an alien beast clinging to the Atlantic
coast, not "of the people," or "by the people." Further, government can't be expected to do anything "for the people."
More recently, rightie pundits chirp ceaselessly that rights come from "the Creator" and not from government, and therefore
people don't need government to secure their rights. God will secure them for you. Next time the Right wants us to liberate
another nation, maybe we should just send God. But if an omnipotent God secures human rights, why would anyone need to be
Are we being
set up, do you think?
Is the Pope
My shorthand definition of liberalism is "the belief that people can live
as equals and govern themselves." And by governing themselves I mean in a collective sense, through representative government.
The word collective sets off alarm bells these days, I know, but the fact remains that republican government
is a collective enterprise. It's something we all do together. Or it should be, anyway.
The biggest distinction between liberalism and libertarianism--both of which value
liberty--may be that liberals believe government can legitimately be used to secure the rights of citizens, whereas
libertarians seem to think that if only government would butt out, there would be no oppression and no need to secure
rights. A ten-second glance at human history shows us that oppression can come from all kinds of places beside government,
however. And I wonder if atheist libertarians believe rights are secured by the Human Rights Fairy? Just askin'.
Over at Altercation, Eric Alterman is starting up a dialogue on what liberals believe. The great thing about the Blogosphere is that we liberals, finally, can reach out to each other and have these conversations.
I've been thinking about how it is liberalism lost itself, and one of these days I want to write about that. In the meantime,
however, please join in the effort to bring liberalism back home.
Retired Senator George Mitchell (D-Maine), a former majority leader of
the Senate, writes in today's New York Times:
I am reminded of the words spoken 55 years ago by Senator
Margaret Chase Smith of Maine in her famous "Declaration of Conscience" against the tactics of Senator Joe McCarthy, a member
of her own party.
"I don't believe the American people will uphold
any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest," the senator said. "Surely we Republicans aren't
that desperate for victory. While it might be a fleeting victory for the Republican Party, it would be a more lasting defeat
for the American people. Surely it would ultimately be suicide for the Republican Party and the two-party system that has
protected our American liberties from the dictatorship of a one-party system."
Then, addressing the "nuclear option" to change filibuster rules, Mitchell
In 1968 Republican senators used a filibuster to block voting on President
Lyndon B. Johnson's nominee for chief justice of the Supreme Court. During the debate, a Republican senator, Robert Griffin,
said: "It is important to realize that it has not been unusual for the Senate to indicate its lack of approval for a nomination
by just making sure that it never came to a vote on the merits. As I said, 21 nominations to the court have failed to win
Senate approval. But only nine of that number were rejected on a direct, up-and-down vote."
Between 1968 and 2001, both parties used filibusters to oppose judicial nominees.
In 2000, the last year of Bill Clinton's presidency, Republican senators filibustered two of his nominees to be circuit judges.
They also prevented Senate votes on more than 60 of Mr. Clinton's judicial nominees by other means.
So much for the assertion that filibustering to prevent votes on judicial
nominees is a new tactic invented by Senate Democrats.
Yeah, so much for that. But you know the righties will continue
to repeat the lie, anyway. You can wave facts and data and empirical
evidence in their faces all day long, and it will do know good. The designated talking points will be honored.
I remember reading that Joe McCarthy used to get around confrontations with truth
through use of local news media. He'd tour the country and give speeches to local chapters of the Lion's Club or VFW,
and these events were written up glowingly in the home town newspapers by reporters whose previous Big Story was about the
new highway that would bypass the old business district. And if anyone noticed McCarthy's facts were unsupported or his
numbers didn't crunch, by then he'd have gone on to another Podunk in another state. A few Washington-based reporters caught
on to McCarthy's scam, but most folks didn't read the Washington newspapers. Truth didn't catch up to McCarthy until
the Big Gun, Edward R. Murrow, exposed McCarthy on national television in 1954.
If you think about it, the righties are using the same tactic today. The only difference
is that "local" is determined by ideology and not by geography. The right wing can repeat the same old lies to
Wolf Blitzer or Chris Matthews or anybody on Faux News without fear of contradiction, and the lies will be picked
up and repeated as gospel by sycophant bloggers, and if one repetition gets smacked down by facts, nine more repetitions will
get straight through to public ears unhindered.
But I digress.
E.J. Dionne writes in today's Washington Post that what the GOP really wants to do may be less nuclear than, um, surgical. He quotes
"Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority
status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans," he told Richard Leiby of The Post. "Any farmer will tell
you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant. But when they've been 'fixed,' then they are happy and sedate. They
are contented and cheerful."
"Republicans are seeking to establish themselves as the dominant party in American
politics," Dionne writes. "Essential to their quest is persuading Democrats, or at least a significant number in their
ranks, to accept long-term minority status." And they'll do whatever it takes to make that happen. The surgical option is
just part of the plan to establish one-party rule.
Yesterday, President Bush issued a statement from Europe demanding an
"up-or-down vote" on Priscilla R. Owen and Terrence W. Boyle for seats on appellate courts. Jim VandeHei and Charles Babington
write in today's Washington Post,
The president, who initiated the conflict by renominating judges whom
Democrats had blocked during his first term and demanding new votes this year, is essentially guaranteeing a showdown that
is as much about the power of the presidency as Democratic obstinacy, according to numerous government scholars. The result
could be a more powerful White House, a weakened Congress and the possible erosion, if not end of, the most powerful tool
available to the minority party, the filibuster, the scholars said.
"This is being done to . . . help a president achieve what he
wants to achieve," said former representative Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.), now a scholar at the Aspen Institute. "It's a total
disavowal of the basic framework of the system of government. It's much more efficient [for Bush], but our government was
not designed to be efficient."
Bush's recent trip to Russia provided imagery that was beyond ironic.
Back in the old Soviet days, every year on May Day the Kremlin leadership, pasty-faced men in overcoats, would stand
in line to review the troops. These men were the ultimate leaders of the Soviet Communist Party, and the composition of the
line, including who was standing next to whom, provided a glimpse, a fleeting moment of near-transparency, into Kremlin
power struggles. This year, albeit for a slightly different event, an American president stood in that line. And back
home, his surrogates struggle mightily to establish one-party rule.
President Bush speaks passionately about the importance of spreading
democracy around the globe. Meanwhile, Putin speaks wistfully about the Soviet Union and continues to consolidate power in
what is looking more and more like a return to autocracy.
Yep, these two guys are very different. Putin, at least, means what he
I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite as odd as the right wing's insistence
that global warming does not exist. I'm not a climatologist, but I can read what they're saying. In fact, they're screaming
it. Rush Limbaugh is not a climatologist, either; nor are any of the rest of these pinheads who seem to think the whole thing
is some figment of liberals' imagination.
There's nothing liberal about global warming. It's science. There seems to
be some element of childish spite in the refusal to recognize it -- "Boy, we can drive the liberals crazy by pretending it's
not happening, ha-ha-ha."
If you read right-wing blogs, you find a kind of Beavis-and-Butt-Head attitude
about the subject, a sort of adolescent-jerk humor. What's astonishing is finding the same attitude among members of Congress.
Head-militantly-in-sand is not a solution.
Please, look at what the righties are saying. Then look at what the lefties are saying.
Notice the difference in the quality of the arguments. Lefties write long posts full of data and figures. Righties link to
the columnists they want to agree with, then say yeah, see? What he says. Democrats stink.
As we all know, the purpose of right-wing think tanks is to think up excuses for
pernicious rightie policies. And the purpose of rightie columnists is to tell the faithful what they want to hear. Essentially,
the think tanks mix the Kool-Aid, the columnists fill the cups, and the rightie bloggers line up to drink.
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the
president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is
morally treasonable to the American public." --Theodore Roosevelt, 1918
The War Prayer
I come from the Throne -- bearing
a message from Almighty God!... He has heard the prayer of His servant, your shepherd, & will grant it if such shall be
your desire after I His messenger shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say its full import. For it is like
unto many of the prayers of men in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause & think.
"God's servant & yours has prayed his prayer. Has
he paused & taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of
Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken & the unspoken....
"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered
part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you
in your hearts -- fervently prayed, silently. And ignorantly & unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these
words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is completed into
those pregnant words.
"Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also
the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our
hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved
firesides to smite the foe.
"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody
shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown
the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire;
help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their
little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the
sun-flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of
the grave & denied it -- for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter
pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded
feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge & friend of all that are sore beset,
& seek His aid with humble & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord & Thine shall be the praise & honor
& glory now & ever, Amen."
(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire
it, speak! -- the messenger of the Most High waits."
· · · · · ·
It was believed, afterward, that the man was a lunatic,
because there was no sense in what he said.