Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Guest Post: The Costs of War

Mike Bock's Take on
the Cost of the War in Iraq

Our dear friend, Mike Bock, visited for a couple of days last week. As we talked about the tragedy of the hopeless situation in Bush's war in Iraq, Mike brought up the huge monetary cost of the war. As a result of our conversations I wrote a post called "The Cost of War". Mike wrote a long response today. I repost it here.


Thanks for the opportunity -- via your Blog -- to do my own rant. You've hit on a topic that I've been giving some thought to.

A few years ago there was much worry about national debt. I'm wondering why now -- with the national debt skyrocketing like no other time in our history -- the national debt is no longer a matter of media discussion. Why isn't this topic burning up talk radio?

Rather than making war with Iraq, how could the US have better spent $250 billion? How could such vast sums been spent to make the US safer? How could money have been spent to more effectively deal with radical Islamists? How could money have been spent be better educate the youth of the world in ways that would enhance the possibilites of future peace? How could this money have been spent to better give the dispossessed, desperate and easily radicalized a greater stake in pursuing peace? There was never a sane discussion of any possible choices as how to best spend resources. (And though I am speaking of monetary resources, of course, the most important resource is human life.) There was no sane analysis of cost/benefit ratio of spending options. Wouldn't such an analysis have made a fascinating discussion? War was given as the only option. There was really no discussion of merit of the war option as compared to other options. War -- the only option. The Military Industrial complex had its way.

But when it comes to the other two-thirds of the "axis of evil" -- N. Korea and Iran -- guess what? War is not seen as the only option, because of the obvious reason that N. Korea and Iran are simply too powerful. N. Korea and Iran are, in fact, more of a threat to the US than Iraq ever was, but, we will do everything possible to avoid war with N.Korea or Iran. We know that the consequences of war with either of these nations would be severe. And so, fearing consequences, the US will try every avenue to avoid war.

But pursuing war was argued as the answer for Iraq because Iraq was seen as weak -- an easy military win, where we could quickly boast, "mission accomplished." Isn't it telling that, under the direction of George Bush, in dealing with the weak, war is the only option, but in dealing with the strong, war is avoided. Isn't this how schoolyard bullies behave? Is it any wonder that the US, throughout the world, is more and more perceived as a bully?

Our choosing war in Iraq, I would like to believe, is an aberration, not truly reflective of our national character. Choosing war in Iraq, it seems to me, is reflective of the machismo affectations and fears of our don't-mess-with-Texas president -- not reflective of our character as a nation.

But then, what is our character as a nation? Our character as a nation seems a matter that is up for grabs.

- Mike Bock

Who are those 34 out of 100 People?



“You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.”

- George W. Bush

"It Didn't Work"



One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed.
- William F. Buckley

Read the rest of what the Grand Poohbah of American Conservatives now says about Bush's war.

Update 2/28
More from Mr. Buckley: Next Step

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Cost of War

What a Tragedy.

The financial cost of the War in Iraq is nearing $250 billion (that's $250,000,000,000). There are about 26 million souls in Iraq.

Dear reader, with $10,000 to spend for each man, woman, and child in Iraq, could you have found a more effective scheme to solve the problem of an impotent little tinpot dictator named Saddam?

Stated another way, this incredibly stupid, useless, counterproductive war, has cost close to $1000 per each man, woman. and child in America. That cost is not being paid by us, however. It is being passed along for our children to pay. The vast majority of us have continued our daily lives pretty much unaffected by the tremendous (sometimes ultimate) sacrifice of our brave soldiers and their families. While a war rages our President calls for tax cuts. There is something obscene about such a "painless" war.

Think of the possible real security measures $250 billion could have bought, like hunting down the Al Qaeda, securing our ports and our borders, and solidifying our war gains in Afghanistan. Instead we have squandered $250 billion and weakened our security and lost many allies and sullied our honor with torture and compromised our Bill of Rights.

And the cost continues to grow in dollars and national spirit and international prestige and lost years for young American families and mangled bodies and lost lives.

What a tragedy.

What a shame.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Here I post. I can do no other.

Defending A Previous Post

[I wrote this post almost three months ago and kind of lost track of it. In light of the sectarian clashes in Iraq this week, the added discord of the "cartoon war", and the continuing insurgency, I think it is perhaps more apropos than when I wrote it.]

I actually am a little unnerved, tacking my theses on a blog for the world to see. It is scary given the fear abroad in our country. I can see some readers seeking to shush me or embarrass me if they think I am un-American, as some would. On the other hand it is nice to be able to express my views with less likelihood that someone will misinterpret my words as personal attacks. They are addressed to the internet. No one can feel that I am forcing my opinions on them: they don't have to read it. It has been good for me to have to research and support my opinions. It has helped me clarify them to myself and I have changed some of my opinions in the process.

Some folks were a little taken aback at a post a while back comparing Bush to McCarthy. I'm not sure that the McCarthy blog was quite ready. But I stand by the basic tenets in it.

The post came about because I looked up McCarthy on the internet when I was researching for an earlier post. I was just dumbfounded by how similar the words of McCarthy and those who supported him were to the people that I think are just as foolishly following the line of the neo-conservatives after the attacks of 2001. Everywhere, the people I admire are called "Anti-American" or Un-American". It is possible we are wrong, I don't think so. But right or wrong we are not anti-American any more than Truman was, or Marshall, or Edward R. Murrow, or the actors, poets, artists, civil-rights workers, union leaders, and others who were smeared as un-American by the McCarthy era right-wing. Michael Moore is not anti-American. He has not always been right, but he loves his country as much as the rest of us. I challenge you to read his words. He wants what he believes is best for America, just as you and I do.

I have virtually no respect for George W. Bush. I believe he sold his soul to become president. I think he is shallow. I think he is horribly mistaken and unwilling to face his own errors. I think he surrounds himself with yes-men and refuses to listen to contrary views. I think he is an insecure man who covers his frailties with bluster and swagger. But I don't accuse him of being anti-American. I have to believe that even that little man loves his country and hopes that his mistaken policies will work out for the best for America.

I think there are very real similarities to the McCarthy era. I remember being terrified of nuclear annihilation as a child. I sometimes had difficulty sleeping. I wondered seriously if I would live to grow up and if there would be a society worth living in if I did. Once Russia got the "Bomb" Americans were very frightened of Communist designs on the world. It was a legitimate fear. There was real war going on, in Korea, during a big part of that time. And the new "Cold War" was even more terrifying in some ways. And there is ample evidence that there were lots of frightened Americans. Nixon used the "Red Scare" to get elected Senator from California. McCarthy used it to stay in power when it looked like the folks in Wisconsin were going to send him home. Then, as now, the biggest fear was the nuclear threat.

I am trying to wrestle with what I believe should be done in Iraq, given the quagmire that Bush has given us. I'm not completely sure yet. I don't think denying the truth helps. I do not believe we should "cut and run". But if the situation has gotten to the point that John Murtha believes we need to leave sooner rather than later, I have to believe that is right. Even our own generals have admitted that our presence fuels the insurgency. There is no legitimate argument that so many terrorists would be in Iraq without us there. I suspect that we should not set a hard and fast schedule of a drawdown but rather a withdrawal plan tied to benchmarks of Iraqi and/or Arab replacements. I suspect we will have to keep "over the horizon" forces available for a longer time. But I am happy for those to the left of me to keep up the pressure on Bush. He has already moved a little. Even he can see the mess we're in, whether he admits it or not. I think the Iraqis need to know that we are leaving and leaving soon. That will force the Iraqis to get ready for self-government and it gives the would-be terrorists less reason to blow themselves up to get us out.

In 1991 Dick Cheney understood the hazards in Iraq:
"I think that the proposition of going to Baghdad is also fallacious. I think if we were going to remove Saddam Hussein we would have had to go all the way to Baghdad, we would have to commit a lot of force because I do not believe he would wait in the Presidential Palace for us to arrive. I think we'd have had to hunt him down. And once we'd done that and we'd gotten rid of Saddam Hussein and his government, then we'd have had to put another government in its place.
What kind of government? Should it be a Sunni government or Shi'i government or a Kurdish government or Ba'athist regime? Or maybe we want to bring in some of the Islamic fundamentalists? How long would we have had to stay in Baghdad to keep that government in place? What would happen to the government once U.S. forces withdrew? How many casualties should the United States accept in that effort to try to create clarity and stability in a situation that is inherently unstable?

I think it is vitally important for a President to know when to use military force. I think it is also very important for him to know when not to commit U.S. military force. And it's my view that the President [Bush 41] got it right both times, that it would have been a mistake for us to get bogged down in the quagmire inside Iraq."
-Dick Cheney, Soref Symposium, 4/29/1991

If you believe the polling, a huge majority of Iraqis want us out and almost half don't blame the insurgents for fighting us. It reminds me of the common refrain among Southern soldiers during the Civil War when Yankees asked them why they were fighting: "Cause y'all are here!" Southerners were far from unified in the desire for secession, but they were almost unanimous in fighting to defend themselves against invaders, even when they agreed with the politics of the invaders. Nobody wants their country overrun by foreign troops even if they speak the same language and have similar customs. Iraq is occupied by soldiers who speak a different language and have repulsive (to them) personal habits and personal morals and who have little or no appreciation or respect for the Iraqi culture and traditions and religion.

I agree with the 1991 Dick Cheney: there is just no good outcome to this mess, and that was obvious, to me, before we went in. I wish Kerry, Clinton, and others had been less supportive than they were. But voting to give a President authority is not quite the same as using that authority prematurely, as he did. And they did not "hype" the war, as he did, by subtly linking Iraq to the 2001 attacks to the extent that a big majority in polls said there was a connection that even Bush admitted there wasn't. Kerry & Co. didn't use discredited "intelligence" to mislead the public, Bush did.

Whenever we leave there will be a period of chaos in Iraq. As Cheney intimated, the Sunnis hate the Shi'ites, the Shi'ites hate the Sunnis and they both hate the Turks, the Kurds, the Jews and the Christians. Minorities in Iraq are in for continued persecution. I certainly wish someone had stopped the Vietnam War sooner. I don't think it could have ended worse, ending sooner.

Our nation will continue, I hope, when we are out of Iraq, whether we leave in 2006 or 2012 or 2018. I hope Iraq will be peaceful then. My primary concern, however, is for what kind of country WE will have. Bush acted foolishly, at best. We need to make sure that this time a lesson is learned, and we stay out of similar messes in the future. We need to rebuild our alliances, restore trust in our government, bring a modicum of unity to our people, and protect ourselves from the new terrorists Bush's policies have created.

----

[You may be interested in reading Sen. John Kerry's opinion of what to do in Iraq from a speech last October.]

Five for Friday



The Friday Five!

1) When does liking someone a lot become loving that person?

As those of you who have known me for a while have no doubt. I have strong opinions on this topic. What an opening.

Love is commitment.

Lust is not Love.
Warm and fuzzy feelings are not Love.
Emotional dependence is not Love.
Admiration is not Love.

To answer the question:

Liking someone a lot becomes love when the two of you make a mutual commitment to love.


I have, of course, waxed eloquently (wink) upon this topic in the past.

2) Is there a job you would do for free, and is it your current job?

Yes and No.
I would (and do, often) act, sing and tell stories for free. I'd love to be able to support my family doing those things.
Although I enjoy teaching and would probably do some educational volunteer work in retirement, I'd love to be able to devote the next few years of my life to acting, singing and storytelling.

3) What is one person/thing that inspired you to take action of some sort?

Erich Fromm, through his book The Art of Loving, inspired me to ask Sheila Matthews out again. There are many other examples, but I'll pick him right now.

4) Though you might not believe in it, would you like fate to exist?

No way. How fatalistic. I have never understood why we humans romanticize fate. Our souls and minds and reason separate us from the amoeba. How much more romantic for a fully conscious, soulful, rational person to choose to join me, of all people, in a lifetime commitment. Wow!

5) What's the kindest thing that anyone has ever done for you?

Sheila's continuing acceptance of me despite my glaring faults and deficiencies.


*****

I discovered The Friday Five through Mike at Musings and Meanderings. Today's questions were right down my alley, as you can see. I enjoy Mike's blog. Check it out.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

TT: 13 Great Posts


Thirteen Great Posts

A hodgepodge of blogs and other web posts that I have found interesting, inspiring, enlightening, or otherwise extraordinary. Check 'em out.
  1. The Questing Parson Visits A Pianist.
  2. Leonard Pitts On The Frightened Right
  3. Ben Witherington On Trading Rights For Security
  4. A Tribute To A Very Special Mother - Mine
  5. 83 Tributes to My Mother
  6. Freedom Of Speech/Respect For Religion
  7. Imagine!
  8. Mike's Memories
  9. Test Your LQ Here (BTW I Flunked)
  10. A Favorite 13 for Thursday
  11. Washington's Pants (Scroll Down)
  12. And Why In the World Do Men's Pants Have Flies? (Scroll Down)
  13. Once people make your story, their story,
    you have tapped into the powerful force of faith.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Four: The Meme

Four
Sister Joan at Daddy's Roses tagged me with this meme. Go over and read hers. Also check out these bloggers who have done this list: Cozy Reader, The Median Sib, Ladybug Crossing, Killired, and Yellow Rose's Garden.

4 + 18 jobs I've had
  1. Shoe polisher and Errand-runner, Grady's Barber Shop, Milstead GA
  2. Bottle collector and Deposit-redeemer, Griffin GA
  3. Lawn mower and weed puller with partner Herbert Leach, Griffin GA
  4. Sacker, Egg-carton-loader, shelf-loader, Red Dot Super Market, Ellijay GA
  5. Sacker, truck-unloader, shelf-loader, cashier at Kroger, Rome GA
  6. Fuller Brush Salesman, Rome GA
  7. Cart-pusher, sweater, Inland Container 2nd Shift, Rome GA
  8. Cookware salesman, Wilmore KY
  9. Library shelver, Asbury College, Wilmore KY
  10. Custodian, Asbury College, Wilmore KY
  11. Cafeteria worker, Asbury College, Wilmore KY
  12. Worst-short-order-cook-in-the-history-of-American-diners, waiter, The Dine-O-Mite, Wilmore KY
  13. Teacher Corps Intern, Putnam County Schools, Bancroft and Liberty WV
  14. Teacher, Assistant Principal, McHenry School, Rome GA
  15. Newspaper publisher, Rome GA
  16. World book Encyclopedia Salesman, Rome GA
  17. Teacher, Pepperell Elementary School, Rome GA
  18. Teacher, Kaleidoscope Gifted Program, Rome GA
  19. Owner/Operator, Shaw LaserPress, Rome GA
  20. Freelance singer, actor, storyteller, Rome GA
  21. Workforce Development Director, Human Development Services, Cave Spring GA
  22. Teacher, Armuchee Elementary School, Rome GA

4 movies I can watch over and over

I love movies! I can watch bad movies a second time just to enjoy criticizing it again. Four just ain't enough. I there challenge authority again and present several categories.

Christmas
  1. It's a Wonderful Life - I've watched it at least once a year for many years.
  2. Miracle on 34th Street - This is not my second favorite flick, but since we also watch it every Christmas it belongs here.
  3. White Christmas - Lil and Bran have watched this video so many times it's a wonder the tape hasn't disintegrated. "Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters..."
  4. A Christmas Carol
Oldies
  1. Arsenic and Old Lace - It still cracks me up!
  2. The African Queen
  3. The Philadelphia Story
  4. His Girl Friday
Animated
  1. Beauty and the Beast
  2. Mulan
  3. The Lion King
  4. Aladdin
From my adolescence
  1. The Sound of Music
  2. Butch Cassity and the Sundance Kid
  3. Wait Until Dark - I know what's coming and still I jump!
  4. In the Heat of The Night
With Sheila
  1. Star Wars - We sat through it twice at the Desoto the first time we saw it.
  2. Sleepless in Seattle
  3. You've Got Mail
  4. Jaws
Oddball Favs
  1. The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming
  2. Family Plot
  3. Tales of Manhatten
  4. The Gazebo
Suspense (excluding Wait Until Dark)
  1. The Jagged Edge
  2. Rear Window
  3. North by Northwest
  4. Charade
And I didn't even mention
  1. Casablanca
  2. Shenandoah
  3. Fiddler on the Roof
  4. An American in Paris
Or
  1. When Harry Met Sally
  2. The Conversation
  3. Mr. Holland's Opus
  4. South Pacific
And how could I leave out
  1. The Lord of the Rings (I, II, & III)
  2. Harry Potter (I, II, III & IV, and the three to come)
  3. The Chronicles of Narnia (One down, six to go!)
  4. Anne of Green Gables (I, II, & III)
4 + 9 places I've lived
  1. Milstead GA
  2. Wilmore KY
  3. Duncansville OH (weekends only)
  4. Mackville KY
  5. Junction City KY
  6. Griffin GA
  7. Ellijay GA
  8. Rome GA
  9. Fairburn GA
  10. Huntington WV
  11. Buffalo WV
  12. Eleanor WV
  13. Cave Spring GA (Chubbtown Community)
4 TV shows I love
We went years without access to broadcast or cable TV. During that time we watched many, many videos. There are bunches of shows I love, however, as noted in a previous post. But here are some all time favs:
  1. Andy Griffith
  2. Mary Tyler Moore
  3. All In The Family
  4. Rockford
4 places I've vacationed
One of my regrets is that we have not traveled as much as I would like. But here are my four favorite vacations:
  1. 31 Day Amtrak tour of the US - 1979
  2. Christmas in New York - 2004
  3. Beach vacations with my extended family
  4. Mountain vacations with Sheila's extended family
4 of my favorite dishes
With a very few exceptions, I love food. These are four dishes I love. There are many more!
  1. Booger Hollow Blackberry Cobbler with Ice Cream
  2. Joan's Empress Chili
  3. Mama Shaw's Chili Soup ala Mama ala Sheila
  4. Good bread and cheese with a few nuts from a knapsack by the Pacific after a long walk shared with good friends.
4 blogs I visit daily
  1. - 4. I read my daughters', my sisters' and my mother's blogs every time they post. I check Jane, Andy, Charmaine and Jack almost as often. There are no other blogs I visit every day.
4 places I'd rather be right now
  1. (Censored) ;-)
  2. On stage
  3. Winter Haven FL (with my eldest)
  4. (as long as we're dreaming how about:) Cape San Blas Florida August 8, 1971

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Secret Garden

Here's a link to a page of pics that I didn't know were there. They are from the production of The Secret Garden 1n 2004.

The Secret Garden

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Thirteen Hills/Rivers/Colleges
Of Rome, Georgia


I need a quick thirteen, so I thought 13 Rome, Georgia facts... well, here goes:


  1. Clocktower Hill - crowned by the 1871 water tower and clock that has become the symbol of our fair city. Some citizens opposed building this water tank for fear the water pressure resulting would knock the bottom out of a teacup. I can see the illuminated tip of the tower out our den window as I type these words.
  2. Old Shorter Hill - the original site of Shorter College, this hill nestles some of Rome's loviest homes including the original Shorter College president's home. That home and a few metal steps are all that remain of the old school. After Shorter moved across the river in 1911, the beautiful college buildings became home to Rome High School. Soon gables, cupolas, and gingerbread began to disappear, and eventually the muddled old buildings were removed altogether.
  3. Lumpkin Hill (Oak Hill) - This hill holds Rome's oldest City Cemetery and was the site of the original St. Mary's School. But when Turner-McCall Blvd. was built in the late fifties, major parts of the hill were bulldozed and moved across the river to give the new Holiday Inn (later the Ramada) a base next to the fourlane bridge. What is left of Lumpkin now hosts the Days Inn, Village Theaters, Appleby's and KFC.
  4. Myrtle Hill - In the 1850's the city fathers claimed this hill hard by the south bank at the confluence of the rivers as a cemetery to replace the Oal Hill cemetery. This beautiful burial ground is crowned by the Confederate Memorial. At its base is Veteran's Plaza which includes the national Tomb of the Known Soldier, the lovely Monument to the Women of the Confederacy, and the Monument to Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest "The Savior of Rome". Myrtle Hill includes row on row of Confederate graves, some stones nearly swallowed by tree trunks, and a few Yankee graves. Ellen Axson Wilson was buried here while her husband was serving as President of the United States. rom this hill the boys and old men of the Confederate home guard tried to pick off Sherman's men as they headquartered in Rome in May of 1864 preparing for the Atlanta Campaign. Through the turn of that century paddlewheel steamships tied up at the base of the hill.
  5. Mount Aventine - Beyond Myrtle and overlooking the Etowah is Mount Aventine. A Jewish Cemetery crowns this hill with meandering lanes of modest homes.
  6. Blossom Hill - Once home to peach orchards, Blossum was and is largely an African American neighborhood north of Jackson Hill. It still has large wooded areas and is home to Rome's water treatment plant.
  7. Jackson Hill - Between Blossum and Lumpkin and overlooking the Oostanaula is Jackson Hill, site of major fortifications (Fort Norton) during the War Between the States. The hill is largely wooded and city-owned. Rome's old waterworks, small Civic Center, Tourist and Convention office and Welcome Center are here. There are plans to eventually restore and preserve the earthworks of Fort Norton. The Noble Lathe, still bearing the scars of Yankee efforts at detroying it, is dispalyed on this hill.
  1. The Oostanaula - From the roof of our 1870 Victorian house you can peer over the levee and its walking path onto the Oostanaula River very close to the spot where John Ross, famous Cherokee leader operated a ferry. Rival leader, and signer of the notorius Treaty of New Echota, Major Ridge operated a ferry just upstream. The Ridge home, Chieftains, is a museum. The Oostanaula is the combined mountain waters of the Conasauga and the Coosawattee draining the hills of North Central Georgia. The Coosawattee valley is flooded by Carters Lake. James Dickey embellishes that story in Deliverance.
  2. The Etowah - Starting out crystal clear Appalachian water, the Etowah has its origin in Blue Ridge Hills farther east. It is dammed for flood control near Cartersville into the huge Altoona Lake. It has been cleaned up a lot in recent years: I remember the Etowah as the muddy one. There are many Indian fish wiers still noticeable at low water in this river between Cartersville and Rome.
  3. The Coosa - The confluence of the Etowah and Oostanaula at the foot of Myrtle Hill forms the Coosa and the raison d'etre of our fair city. Between the rivers lies Broad Street and our downtown. Head of Coosa, as it was called, was home to Cherokee leaders before the land was stolen by the Georgians in collusion with Andy Jackson. The Mississipian mounds that once stood at the confluence mean these river-roads were important before historic times as well. The Coosa flows on into Alabama to eventually join the Tallapoosa at Montgomery to make the Alabama River. The Tombigbee joins and it becomes the Mobile River before it spills into Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Steamships used to carry Northwest Georgia's cotton down this river system to the world.



  1. Georgia Highlands College - Youngest of our three colleges is this two-year part of the University of Georgia system. It began life as Floyd Junior College. It lost the "junior" many years ago and was renamed Georgia Highlands last year.
  2. Berry College - Born as a Sunday School on the Thomas Berry plantation, the school for poor mountain boys founded by Martha Berry has grown into a highly-respected coed liberal arts college located on the world's largest, and a very beautiful, college campus.
  3. Shorter College - founded in 1873 as Cherokee Baptist Female College, Shorter College has become in recent years one of the fine small college musical theater programs anywhere. Best of all, my daughter graduated in musical theater there.
And ...



Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Why I am A Democrat

Still Democratic After All These Years

My party is held in a big tent with no burly security guards at the flap. I am a Democrat because my party looks like America. It is not crowded with one race, ethnic group, religion, etc. You don't need an expensive ticket to get in. Everyone's invited. There are some there I won't ask to dance. There are some who are a little too wild for my tastes. There are some who dance with Democrats but, you can tell, are really just slumming: they'll sip champagne with the fat cats next week. There are some who begin as the life of the party but end up hogging the hors d'oeuvres or even robbing the cloakroom... er, the table in the corner piled with coats and purses. But I find the revelers here, in general, more congenial to my beliefs and inclinations than those corvorting at the country clubs. And ours are much better dancers.

Admittedly, I have some negative reasons for my party choice. I am a Democrat because I believe there are, among the other guys, more politicians who are rotten guys. McCarthy, Atwater, Schlafly, Limbaugh, Nixon, Agnew, Bush, Cheney, Starr, Rove, Ashcroft, Coulter, Robertson, Chambliss, Delay, Falwell. Those who look to the worst in human nature. Those who are greedy and arrogant. Those who see themselves as intellectually superior and therefore more deserving. Those who think that those worse off than themselves are deservedly so. Those who are dismissive of, unconcerned for, arrogant toward people of lesser wealth, lesser ability, lesser intelligence. Those who have little or no respect for honest laborers. Those who trust the free enterprise system to cure all ills. Those who demand self-sufficiency from the poor but welcome government perks themselves. There are, of course, many at the other party who do not fit those negative stereotypes.

My choice is primarily a positive one, though. I am a Democrat because I believe my party has, over the the years, most closely supported my political ideals: civil rights and equality of rights, collective stewardship of the environment, strong public schools, separation of church and state, a role for the government in promoting the general welfare of all its citizens, a strong, sensible, diplomatic foreign policy.


I am a Democrat because, as I review my life, I find that my votes have proven right much more often than not. My party adopted the civil rights movement that is accepted as the correct position by almost everyone now, even some who fought it tooth and nail 40 years ago. It was primarily members of my party who led opposition to the Vietnam war and virtually all Americans eventually came to see that war as the mistake that it was. Democrats saw Richard Nixon for the fraud he was when he was the darling of the Republicans. My party opposed Ronald Reagan’s economic policies and those policies nearly bankrupted our nation. Many in my party told America that George W. Bush was the blustering little bully he has turned out to be. They told America his policies would divide us, derail our economy, lose us our allies, and make the world a more dangerous place. They were right.

I am a Democrat because I revere so many of our party leaders of the past and present: Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J.Q. Adams, Jackson (blemished though he was), Cleveland, Wilson (warts and all), FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, Truman, Stevenson, Marshall,
Humphrey, JFK, LBJ, (despite Vietnam)
Russell (warts and all),
Ellis Arnall,
Charles Weltner, Fulbright, Scoop Jackson, Robert Byrd, John Lewis, RFK,
McGovern, Nunn, Carter,
Andrew Young, Christopher, Mondale,
Wyche Fowler, Kerry,
Al Gore, Bill Clinton (warts and all),
Hillary Clinton, Allbright,
John Edwards,
Obama, Warner,
Bayh, Bo Ginn
(despite the mistakes of his last years),
Rockefeller, Cleland,
Buddy Childers,
Mildred Greear...

Not that our Democratic heroes don’t have faults. We have our share of charlatans and lechers. But in general I prefer our flaws to those of the opposition. I recognized Bill Clinton as the blemished genius he is. I was not surprised that he disappointed us in his personal life (he is a member of the sexually undisciplined baby boom), but his public decisions and appointments were right on target. It seems that, in our history, those who make the most show of public piety often turn out to be rats, while those who acknowledge their sinful natures often have the most saintly public records. I’ll take Cleveland over Blaine. And I’ll take the lustful Clinton over the surface piety of Bush any day.

It seems to me that our forefathers understood that it is perfectly legitimate for us to covenant together as a society to do things for the common welfare. My party understands that. These days it is in our interest as a nation for all our citizens have good opportunities for education and good medical care. We need to have opera, art, folk music, storytelling, serious and civilized radio and TV discussion: none of which will survive a “free-market” that prefers sentimental, or sexy, or “reality”, or flamboyant programming. It is important to have a reasonably intact passenger rail capability, even if the market won’t support it in the short term. It is in our national interest that big business be regulated; that laborers receive a fair wage; that the difference between the rich and the poor not be so extreme that it foments hatred and revolution. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet deserve to make good profits from their hard work, and smart investments and should not be so severely taxed that they do not want to keep building the economy; but no one “deserves” the money those guys make as long as poverty exists in the world. A progressive tax is NOT unfair to those of us in the top twenty percent of the household income scale. We are incredibly fortunate to have been born with the brains, energy, health, sanity, emotional stability, connections, and luck to have climbed over more than 80% of the population.

I chose my party carefully and I have never been sorry for the choice. The choice has never been clearer. It is the right one for me. I am clearly, proudly, plainly, undeniably, comfortably, to my yellow-dog marrow, a Democrat.



Postscript:

I would argue that most, if not all, the views I have expressed are majority opinions in the United States. On the Liberal Quotient scale, I couldn't be more than one standard deviation above the norm. Maybe a 115 L.Q. or so. (I realize that there are those among my readers who would prefer to express this as 85 C.Q.) Therefore I will continue to lay claim to the label of moderate. I have liberal friends whom I admire, and there is no disgrace in that label, but I don’t think I qualify for it. But I’ll save that discussion for another post. By the way, here is the thesaurus's take on "liberal". So if liberal is the label you, dear reader, want me to don, I'll wear it with pride.

Valentine Roses for the Women in my Life


These five gorgeous roses were created for my sister Joan of Daddy's Roses by her granddaughter and my Very Grand Niece. I borrow them on this St. Valentine's Day to celebrate the women in my life, including my five wonderful sisters. (Joan, would you ask my VGN her fee for the electronic use of the roses?)

Since I have waxed sappy on more than one occasion about my Supreme Valentine and my Two Darling Daughters and my Marvelous Mama, I'll stop with:

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Surveillance Under Carter



Flying like dandelion fluffs through the blogoshere are allegations that Bush's unwarranted surveillance has precedent in the Carter administration. Once taking root as truth in one blog garden it spreads like Kudzu to other right-wing plots and soon gazillions are munching on the bushy accusations.


In fact Carter did authorize needed surveillance (as Bush has every right and the responsibily to do) but specifically instructed that it be done in strict adherance to the FISA law. Carter did exactly what I believe Bush should have done. By the way, reasonable Republicans in the Senate are also pressing for the Bush White House to follow the law.

Here is Carter's specific order:
http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/eo12139.htm

Excerpts with my emphasis in red:
1-101. Pursuant to Section 102(a)(1) of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1802(a)), the Attorney General
is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign
intelligence information without a court order, but only if the
Attorney General makes the certifications required by that Section.
1-104. Section 2-202 of Executive Order No. 12036 (set out under
section 401 of this title) is amended by inserting the following at
the end of that section: ''Any electronic surveillance, as defined
in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, shall be
conducted in accordance with that Act as well as this Order.''.

1-105. Section 2-203 of Executive Order No. 12036 (set out under
section 401 of this title) is amended by inserting the following at
the end of that section: ''Any monitoring which constitutes
electronic surveillance as defined in the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act of 1978 shall be conducted in accordance with that
Act as well as this Order.''.


Now, as someone who has watched Carter since 1966, I trusted that he would not have criticized the Bush order if he had done the same. He is too smart and too detail oriented, not to mention too honest, to let that happen.

President Carter's Remarks

The hysterical right wing is blathering about Jimmy Carter again. Here are his complete remarks from the Coretta Scott King memorial service. Can someone please explain to me why any sane person would find these comments inappropriate? Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King were fighters for equal rights, justice, and peace. All of the following remarks seem appropriate to the occasion to me. To my right-wing blogger friends: get a life!

Remarks by Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
at the Coretta Scott King Funeral


By Jimmy Carter
10 Feb 2006


Lithonia, Georgia
February 7, 2006

Since we left the White House, my wife and I have visited more than 125 nations in the world. They've been mostly nations where people are suffering. Almost 45 of them are in Africa, and we have found in those countries a remarkable gratitude for what Martin and Coretta have meant to them, no matter where they live.

It's interesting for us Americans to realize that we do not have a monopoly on hunger for democracy and freedom. We'll soon be going back to India again, the largest democracy on earth and a Hindu nation. My wife and I have helped to have democratic elections in Indonesia, the fourth largest nation on earth, the largest Muslim country in the world committed now to democracy.

And, of course, we have a country here with a diversity of religions, but predominantly Christian, which is also a democracy. So we don't have a monopoly on achieving the greatest aspects of human nature.

It's not easy for us to realize what is the essence of human ambitions that bind us all together in all those countries in the world that admired the King family and what they meant.

Coretta and Martin and their family have been able to climb the highest mountain and to realize the essence of theology and political science and philosophy. They overcame one of the greatest challenges of life, which is to be able to wage a fierce struggle for freedom and justice and to do it peacefully.

It is always a temptation to forget that we worship the Prince of Peace. Martin and Coretta were able to demonstrate to the world that this correlation was possible. They exemplified the finest aspects of American values and brought upon our nation the admiration of the entire world.

This beautiful and brave woman helped to inspire her husband and has been a worthy successor in carrying forward his great legacy. They led a successful battle to alleviate the suffering of blacks and other minorities and, in promoting civil rights in our country, they enhanced human rights in all nations. At the same time, they transformed the relationships among us Americans, breaking down the racial barriers that had separated us one from another for almost two centuries.

My life has been closely intertwined with that of the King family.

Our first public ceremony together was in 1974 when, as governor, I dedicated Martin's portrait in the Georgia capitol-Joseph Lowery and others were there-which was surrounded outside with chanting members of the Ku Klux Klan, who had too much support from other Americans. The efforts of Martin and Coretta to change America were not appreciated even at the highest level of our government. It was a difficult time for them personally, with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the targets of secret government wiretapping, other surveillance, and, as you know, harassment from the FBI.

When Coretta and Daddy King adopted me in 1976, it legitimized a Southern governor as an acceptable candidate for president. Each of their public handshakes to me was worth a million Yankee votes! In return, they had a key to the White House while I was there, and they never let me forget that I was in their political debt. They were not timid in demanding payment-but always for others who were in trouble, never for themselves.

In 1979, when I was president, I called for making January 15 a national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta was by my side. And the following year, we established the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.

When I awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, Coretta responded to this honor for her husband, and I quote, "This medal will be displayed with Martin's Nobel Peace Prize in the completed Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Social Change, his official memorial in Atlanta. It will serve as a continuous reminder and inspiration to young people and unborn generations that his dream of freedom, justice, and equality must be nurtured, protected, and fully realized, that they must be the keepers of the dream."

Years later, in Oslo, I said, "The Nobel Prize profoundly magnified the inspiring global influence of Martin Luther King Jr., the greatest leader that my native state, and perhaps my native country, has ever produced. And I was including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and others.

On a personal note, I added in my talk, "It is unlikely that my political career beyond Georgia would have been possible without the changes brought about by the Civil Rights Movement in the American South and throughout our nation."

This commemorative ceremony this morning and this afternoon is not only to acknowledge the great contributions of Coretta and Martin, but to remind us that the struggle for equal rights is not over. We only have to recall the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi-those who were most devastated by Katrina-to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans. It is our responsibility to continue their crusade.

I would like to say to my sister, Coretta, that we will miss you, but our sorrow is alleviated by the knowledge that you and your husband are united in glory.

Thank you for what you have meant to me and to the world.

Friday, February 10, 2006


The First Thirteen Enjoyable TV Shows
That Come to Mind (A Little Late)

I'll do this again sometime: I've only scratched the surface.
  1. MASH - I liked the movie too, though it was a whole 'nother animal. Like most of these shows, the characters became fancied friends, who sometimes drove me up a wall, but still I loved 'em.
  2. All in the Family - My favorite bigot.
  3. The Andy Griffith Show - a smart, heart-warming show.
  4. The Actors' Studio - I'm an acting nerd. What a treat to have a intimate interview with Robin Williams. To watch that genius totally unpluggled like that is sheer joy.
  5. L.A. Law - My stomach still turns over when I think of that elevator plunge. Maybe we should do Thirteen Classic Character Final Exits.
  6. Crossfire - For a political junkie who has put up for years with the over-abundance of conservative pundits on talk radio and TV, what a treat to watch Michael or Paul, so politely, destroy the blow-hards.
  7. Prime Minister's Questions - I like our system, but wouldn't it be great to watch, occasionally, the Shrub squirm were he to face real grilling by the opposition.
  8. Law and Order - Sheila got hooked and soon I was a fan of Lenny and Co. too. We even have the book!
  9. The West Wing - A lifesaver since 2001. I am in love with C.J. and Donna. Don't tell Sheila.
  10. The Popeye Club (Officer Don) - I saw two live Officer Don shows, one in Griffin and one in Ellijay.
  11. Fury - I never missed Fury on Saturday mornings.
  12. Tenspeed and Brownshoe - Didn't last long but Jeff Goldblum and Ben Vereen had great chemistry. It should have been a hit. What talented actors. Does this show ever re-run?
  13. The News (Huntley-Brinkley/Cronkite/Today Show/CNN/C-Span) - I've always been a news junkie.
I got this idea from:
Cozy Reader



Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Rant Time

What if it were President Gore?

Can you imagine how quickly articles of impeachment would have been drawn up by Congressional Republicans if President Gore had authorized domestic spying WITHOUT EVEN the available RETROACTIVE WARRANT and in direct contravention of expressly written law?

Well, it's my country, too, and even I have to get serious sometimes. W., Karl, Tom, Dick, Alberto, et al ignore the law and the truth and basic American principles when it serves their purposes.

Feel free to reply with your arguments, O Disciples of Shrub, but if you want my respect, don't you set up strawmen by saying things that indicate those of us who oppose Bush on this issue are not concerned about terrorism. We believe Bush has the tools to monitor the communication he SAYS he is motivated to monitor. We are not so stupid as to trust this miscreant, however, with dictatorial power and, even if you do trust this little man -- the guy who told Mr. Dirty Politics, Lee Atwater, to get dirtier; the guy who made thousands of "push-poll" phone calls in SC to label John McCain a race-mixer; the saint who panders to the evangelicals with same mouth that gushes obscenities elsewhere -- he will only be President for 1080 more days (barring another coup), you certainly should not trust his unknown successor.

Is there a reader who does not know in his/her heart and mind, with absolute certainty, that the present Republican Congress WOULD draw up articles of impeachment if a President Gore authorized domestic spying WITHOUT EVEN the available RETROACTIVE WARRANT and in direct contravention of expressly written law?

The Republicans are the strict constructionists? Give me a break.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Five Questions for the Lord



A First Interview with the Lord
On Arriving in Heaven


OK, Lord, you know what a shock this is to me. You really must be Love to allow a rank wretch like me up here. So I gotta catch my breath before I ask the first question...

Here goes Lord...

1. The platypus - it was your little joke, right?

2. Mosquitoes, cooties, fire ants, ...Republicans, for Heaven’s sake?

3. Time? What the heck is it? How do I comprehend this new existence without it?

4. Women? Lord, Mama is one. I have five sisters and two sisters-in-law. I married one. We have two daughters. I have spent 27 years working in elementary schools. And I still don’t understand women. I’ve been told, “We’ll understand it all by and by.” Well, isn’t this “by and by”? Could you take an age or two and just go ahead and explain?

5. Finally, Lord, Sex. Is it another little joke, Lord? I’m not complaining -- you KNOW I’m not complaining -- but why in creation did you make so-o-o-o-o absolutely ridiculous a behavior so central to our psychology and essential to our survival? Couldn’t things have worked out better for humanity if such ecstasy were brought on by, say, truth, beauty, good works, cleanliness, punctuality, mercy, really good music, or even neat underwear drawers?

Thank you Lord for taking the time -- well, whatever you’ve taken here -- to listen to my questions. I’ve got a bunch more, but at orientation they said we had to keep it to five for now.

Oh, uh, Lord, ...I wonder, ...uh, could I maybe ask, ...uh, just a follow up to number 5 -- what are your policies on being -- you know, just occasionally, ...uh, a little ridiculous up here?
-----------
(I found this meme on my sister's blog, Daddy's Roses. I hope my light-hearted response offends noone. I did a semi-serious one... but it soon turned silly and I just couldn't help myself! The Devil made me do it?)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Terrell's Thurday Thirteen


Thirteen Questions/Assignments
Here's my own answers to my little Thursday Thirteen meme. You, dear reader, are welcome to copy it at will, substitute your own responses and spread it far and wide as long as you include my link. I'd like to see what the blogoshere comes up with as a result -- especially for number 12 and number 13. Here we go:
  1. What is your earliest memory? I have several vague memories of my first three years as a toddler in Milstead, Georgia, any or all of which may be colored by time, retellings, and relatives' stories. I remember walking with my two older sisters to take my Daddy his lunch at Calloway Mills. I also remember seeing an old flat-bed truck loaded with a dozen or more dead dogs during a rabies epidemic, a very graphic memory that may have been a dream instead, I don't know.
  2. What was your longest hike? The walk from Mrs. Knight's sixth grade classroom to Mr. Beaver's (the principal) office, comes to mind. Also several walks to the back yard and back for switches. Literally, a two-day hike in the Cohuttas, I guess.
  3. When were you most alone? Several occasions during my bachelor days in West Virginia, 1969-70, felt mighty lonesome. Once in Christman's Cave in Kentucky, I was stuck without a light for a few minutes while some friends explored a side cavern and I meditated in the blackness... absolute dark is lonesome.
  4. Describe a carefree moment of your life: Our honeymoon in 1971. We paid a ridiculously tiny fee to rent the only tiny cabin at St. Joseph's State Park on Cape San Blas, and had 15 miles of beach to ourselves in the evenings when the park was closed. The future looked absolutely blissful and opportunity-filled and I was hopelessly, toes-to-topknot, in love.
  5. What has been your most daring moment? When I walked into the Superintendent's office in 1988 and asked to be released from my teaching contract so I could attend my growing little business full-time. Climbing up and rappelling off a high cliff in West Virginia was a rush, too.
  6. Describe what you admire about someone you consider a personal hero/heroine: I have lots of candidates: My mother, my wife, my daughters, my granddaddy, etc. etc. But since this is "Alone on a Limb" I think I'll pick one of my political heroes. Jimmy Carter is a hero of mine: for his intelligence; his practical and ferocious political skills; for his determination to govern as the President of a country, not a party; for his resolute, consistent choice of right over political expediency; for his stubbornness, in defeat, to continue to make a positive difference for his country and the world.
  7. What is your most interesting/outstanding talent? I love to sing, act, and tell stories. Some folks seem to like to hear me.
  8. You have won a free seven day airfare to the destination of your choice. Where and why? This is a very difficult choice. Probably England. I've never been to Europe. With only seven days I think London would give me an opportunity to see some great plays and visit interesting sites. On the other hand I might get greedy and visit the most-expensive-to-get-to-place (China?, Japan?, New Zealand?) and save London for a trip on my on. I'd have a ball, regardless of the destination!
  9. Climb aboard my time/space machine. You get one turn and must return after the equivalent of a week's visit. Where, when, and why? The Constitutional Convention, maybe? I revere the folks involved and would love to ask them for their views on current issues. Or, more likely -- push coming to shove, Daddy Shaw's barber shop in Milstead, Georgia, about 1955, with all the Shaw boys (and Trouble, the Boston Terrier) in attendance with a side trip down to Porterdale to see Mama Baird, Aunt Mary, and all the Baird Clan.
  10. You have been appointed executor of my $10,000,000 charitable bequest. How will you use it?
    I would set up a Terrell & Sheila Shaw foundation, proceeds of which would be used to fund regular donations to:
    - the Carter Center
    - Democratic candidates of my choice
    - a new Rome Theater Alliance to provide: building maintenance/acquisition monies for Rome Little Theater/RTA; an endowed guest director fund for RTA; a full-time community theatre director and support staff to coordinate joint projects and joint promotion for all willing alliance participants (RLT, Stars, Icon, Antidote, R.O.M.E., Darlington, Rome High, GHC, Shorter, Berry, etc.)
    - a Bill of Rights Education Foundation
    - and charities such as Trinity United Methodist Church, the Open Door Home, Methodist disaster relief efforts, etc.
  11. What is your proudest accomplishment? Brannon and Lillian, they are both ethical, caring, creative, independent, intelligent, and thoughtful. No father could be better pleased with his offspring.
  12. What question/assignment would you add to this meme? (Let me know!) Look, I came up with twelve! Somebody else can handle this one.
  13. Write a seven line poem (diamante) about a person, place, or thing this meme has brought to mind. Use this form:

Cave,

bewildering black,
listening, sniffing, feeling.
Strain ears! Stretch thought!
Wondering, guessing, searching
beyond forever.
Alone.

Diamante diagram taken from this website:
http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/content/3341/mythicmirror/pattern.html

Please link your response to Alone on a Limb.
www.aloneonalimb.blogspot.com

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Median Sib's Queries

Carol at The Median Sib posted this question sequence and requested that some of us respond.

1. What were your favorite childhood games?

Digging Holes, Bedevil the Sisters, Yard Football, Tree Climbing (Mulberries at Griffin, Chinaberries at Porterdale, Catalpa at Ellijay), Varieties of Yard Baseball/Kickball, Hide ‘n’ Seek, Bike Riding, Digging More Holes, Constructing Hideouts, Digging Holes to Bury Treasure, Performing Funerals for Assorted Departed Animals -- then Digging A Hole to bury them in.


2. What is the best thing about being you?

That’s easy: Sheila, Brannon, Lillian.


3. What is your favorite meal of the day and why?


The one in front of me. I love to eat. Maybe breakfast, but not cereal and milk. Give me the whole spread -- eggs, bacon or ham, buiscuits or pancakes, hashbrowns, honey or maple syrup.... I think I’ll go have some more breakfast now!

4. Would you rather be exceptionally smart or exceptionally good-looking?

Having no experience with a deficit in either category it’s hard for me to say. :-)
(I’d definitely take the smarts, given the stark choice.)


5. How would you describe your underwear drawer?

Do you mean to tell me I’m sposed to have a drawer solely dedicated to my underwear?!! I just let it hang out of which ever drawer it will. (I wish I had gotten a neat gene. I musta been off digging a hole when the Lord passed those out!)