Who Should Stand in Judgment?

Who has the right to decide the fate of man? Many would argue that only God has the right to decide the course of life, others would argue that there is no 'God' and that man determines his own course. So where does that leave the fate of Saddam Hussein? Was Saddam an evil man? I would think that under the criteria and moral compass of modern man, few would argue that point. History will undoubtedly categorize him with the likes of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, & George W. Bush. Who of the previously mentioned is not responsible for the death of thousands of men, women, & children? But we will let the esteemed pseudo-president have a day off today, as he is not the focus of this entry & will only be referenced in connection with the fringe right-wing whackos that he represents.

The philosopher Marcus Aurelius often reflected upon the role that man played on his environment & the natural course of life played by man therein. Aurelius said, "The longest-lived and the shortest-lived man, when they come to die, lose one and the same thing." (II, 14) On a day as today where the mob will celebrate death, it may be worthwhile endeavor to give the issue a bit more thought.

Is the world a better place now that Saddam Hussein is out of power? For the majority of people in Iraq, the answer is yes. His removal from power and the imperial self-indulgence of the United States are more challenging questions that deserve their own discourse. It is enough to say that most people are amenable to the suggestion that the pseudo-president & his 'men' intervened in others affairs--at the cost of thousands of lives & billions of dollars (but george got his man)--and that the world is a far worse place than it was before. Still, beyond the obvious, there is the question of just & justice.

Was the United States 'just' in their actions? Do the ends always 'justify' the means? george's boys Hitler & Stalin would agree with that premise but maybe we shouldn't. Will Iraq ultimately be better off without a mad dictator in power; the answer to that question is probably, depending upon whether or not the pseudo-president is removed from the office (he never rightly possessed) and imperial powers leave the region, but I digress. Justice...if one accepts the premise that bad people should be removed from positions of power so that they cannot hurt others, than two questions should become immediately apparent:

  1. Is it necessary to kill an emasculated & powerless person regardless of his previous actions?
  2. Why is the pseudo-president still in a position of power in the United States?
The latter question has been addressed in part & will be given its own consideration at a later date, while the former begs query.

There are many justifications behind the concept of capital punishment. Hammurabi's Code suggested--at least in principle--which what one does one should expect to receive. Most mainstream religions suggest something to the effect of doing onto others as you would have done to you, and modernists believe that simply removing the danger from society is not enough.

It is this last notion that applies to Saddam. Obviously he is no longer a threat to the people of Iraq or the world at large. Furthermore, his removal from power was supposed to be the first step towards imposed democracy. But what does his death accomplish? Did a noose around his neck bring back the thousands he killed, had killed, tortured, etc? If you accept that the
Nuremberg trials & executions were done to deter future atrocities, then explaining the rise of Saddam, Bosnia, Africa become somewhat more complicated. If administering death were the key to preventing it, then the pseudo-president's "home" state would be murder free. Unfortunately for Bible-thumpers & natives of Grand Rapids, the empirical evidence simply doesn't support the theory.

The truth, as it pertains to the administration of death, is that it makes its administrators feel better. The United States put Saddam in power, supported him in office, & when American policy goals changed, so too did American support. The United States disregarded Hitler b/c the govt felt that Hitler could be a good buffer against Stalin. Nations act for the sake of self-interest & policy. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging this truth at the core of all nation-states. But when a nation supports a policy, say Osama or Saddam, it becomes incumbent upon the nation to stand by their actions, regardless of the outcome. The noose the Americans placed around the Nazi's is the same as the one that gripped Saddam. Yet the noose is not what the key ingredient that Nazi's and Saddam had in common; it was American Complicity.

To the victors go the spoils & the right to write history; I am sure that the view of America will differ thirty years from now, but what of the truth? The world is better off without the 3rd Reich and Saddam Hussein. Yet I think the world would be better still if American Imperialism would revise its policy & be accountable for its policies.


The Logic of Interest Rates

Ok, I get it, you are supposed to pay your way through college; this sentiment makes about as much sense as the notion that everyone should go to college. The question surrounding these two statements is which one is more ridiculous?
As a teacher, it was school policy to tell every child (high school mind you) that they could go to Harvard, land on the moon, do anything that wished to. Of course, this statement was typically followed by "no, on the map, Mexico is the country that is below the United States...Canada is above the US. My point? Not everyone should have a liberal arts education, some people are meant to be mechanics, hairdressers, etc. As a teacher I stressed that these were good fields; they paid better than working in education, that's for sure.

We have no qualms about telling the fat kid that it's not realistic for him to expect that he can be a male model or the next Michael Jordan, but we cannot tell a kid with average intelligence that he should go the vocational route? Our fearless Idiot...I mean leader speaks of 'no child left behind' which is a nice phrase with no practical application. WHY? WHY must every child excel academically? Most adults specialize in certain areas...the ones who are good at writing are not so hot at applied physics. Doctors are not typically the greatest literary critics. Yet that is ok for adults but not for children?

Let us not forget that the "Un-elected War-Monger who stole the Presidency" is not exactly what one would call a thinker, leader, reader, or academic. But for the family legacy, he would have been lucky to get a degree from www.icannotgetadegreeanywhereelse. com. (For my Red State Viewers...and everyone from Texas & Georgia, that is not a real site) If this 'man' has his way, schools with challenged students who fail to perform at the level of their well off peers, will be financially punished as a means of 'encouraging them to improve academic performance. Here's an idea brainiac...
first...try going into a classroom (w/out being high) and seeing what real people do for a living.
Second...try to grasp the concept that people learn differently & at different paces & that schools are supposed to help them, not label & hinder them.
third...work really hard on grasping the concept that poor people who do not have educated families & environments tend to have a more challenging road to academic achievement...hint...don't take funds away
Fourth...how about paying teachers a decent wage...like one greater than the cost of daycare...who knows...if the government supports education & pays its teachers, then there may be an increased chance of getting qualified people in the schools.

I know that I am just spit-balling, but maybe better teachers, better programs, & an environment where all children can succeed seems like a good plan to truly leave no child behind & a way to improve our nation. In bushspeak...we would have smarter & happier kids that you could send off to die in foreign nations for no reason.

Now, just a brief bit about loans...after sending legions of kids to college who shouldn't be there along with the smaller percentage who should, the question of finance always pops up. So we all take out loans...again...not good for teachers b/c they never really make enough to pay back what they borrowed...but I digress....so loans, loans, loans, & now here's a good bushism...raise the interest rates...
I KNOW, I KNOW, 'freedom is hard work...we got to bomb the crap out of 3rd world countries for no reason, make everyone in the world hate us, spend millions doing it, then spend millions more rebuilding them. Never mind the fact the gulf coast is still swimming in its own sewage, never mind the fact that the middleclass is going under, all that matters is that bush has his fun. But I do like his idea...fund the war by raising interest rates on student loans...why not take more from those who can least afford it? Why not guarantee that they can never buy a house or plan for the future...good idea george...no need to end a senseless war or charge the wealthiest 1%.


Wilfred Brimley, Friend, Foe, Living in Grand Rapids?

Some say his career is over, some say he is grumpy, He says he's got Diabetis...I just know that he holds a special place in my heart

An Alternative Presidential Action

The Thought of the Day
What would 'w' do if he wasn't destroying our economy & invading countries?

This Is Just to Say

by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

' I like cold, kinda different than hot, like the fire we make when we smoke them terrrorrrist out of der hole..heh, heh, heh
'I actually like plums though, don't think we grow em in Texas; maybe I'll ask Dick about invade'n some country that does grow plums...call it Operation Plum Freedom, heh, heh, heh,...kinda kidd'n though, Laura gets real mad at me when I eat all the plum...like my daddy says...'if she ain't happy, invade Iraq' heh, heh, heh.


A Military that Kills & the Culpability of Citizenry

It's hard to imagine that any person could slaughter unarmed children in the Haditha Massacre. Yet who is really to blame? Obviously, you blame the soldiers who fired the weapons & made the choice to bring death upon civilians. But why should our government or our citizenry receive a pass.

Everyone knows that 'w' stole the 2000 election & has enjoyed power, money, clout, & infamy through nefarious means but why didn't we stop him? 111 million Americans voted in 2000, that was around 60 % of the voting population...what if the America had pretended it was an American Idol vote rather than a vote to determine the future of the nation? I suspect that the results would have been markedly different, although there is probably a disproportionately high number of 'red staters' who adore Ryan Seacrest. Anyone who considers himself/herself educated &/or a 'liberal blue stater' had then & has now an obligation to vote. If nothing else, through voting, you earn the right to blog about what a disaster our nation has become.
Think about it, in the last eight years, the fate of the world, thousands of lives, and billions of dollars have been shaped & directed by Ohio & Florida. I have lived near both of these backward cesspools & I should think a bit of a stretch to even call them states. Ohio's population would give any third world nation a run for its money in potable water, hygiene, & literacy. Florida...Florida...well let's just say that any state that is run by nascar & the aarp speaks for itself. Still, because America is an equal opportunity nation, these territories were allowed to vote & due to intellectual negligence, allowed to be decisive. But how do the failures of the intellectual elite or blue states equate to the Massacre of Haditha?
A cause & effect lesson will illustrate the point. Imagine that you buy an apple & you son decides to raise a pet worm. Your son is two & while having a slight intellectual advantage over the current American president, is still only two. If you fail to set limits and enforce rules, then inevitably the worm will find its way to the apple. Our troops are largely kids. Students who were recruited in some of the most impoverished areas of our nation & sold a defective product. As a teacher I dealt (monthly) with recruiters who did what was necessary to meet their quotas. Most of the high school kids that I came into contact with struggled to find Mexico & Canada on a map; so one can imagine their knowledge of Iraq & Afghanistan. Their lack of money, education, & viable vision of the future made them the perfect fodder for the instrument of implementation for the bush worldview. But I digress...cause & effect...in essence, we have a functional--but mean--toddler running the country. He is running the country b/c our intellectual elite or liberal blue staters failed.
We failed to vote in sufficient numbers, failed to mobilize our base, & failed to stop a mad man before he could act. We allowed ourselves to be lulled by the comforts that the previous eight years had afforded us. We allowed fox news to be created, we allowed our kids to go to a land that few of us know much about. Apathy ruled the day and we are all paying our dues now. The kids...I mean soldiers...in Haditha are victims of their own judgment, madness, and a government that put them in an impossible situation. They've endured three tours of a hell that none of us dare imagine & they cracked. But imagine, if the toddler was taught to keep the worm in a jar, if the President of the United States was President Gore, not president bush...those kids wouldn't have murdered people in Iraq, they would be in college or working.
The Massacre of Haditha is a dark point of emphasis in an incredibly dark era. The US Military is one of the best & most disciplined the world has ever known, still, their alleged acts of some of their soldiers were horrific & despicable; the governmental & military cover up is inexcusable. However, the complacency, apathy, & general disinterest of thinking Americans created an untenable situation. Honestly, if you toddler drives your car into a building, is it really his fault. We allowed a functional idiot & his goons to take the wheel of a powerful vehicle, we allowed our kids to ride in the car with him, & at this point, unfortunately, we have no choice but to deal with the wreckage created.


The Republican Virtue

Imagine two brothers, dedicated to political reform, improving the life of the Plebeians of Rome; they were men who dared to challenge the political establishment & suggest that the status quo was not good enough. These champions of Rome even dared to suggest that the Roman Senate & its citizenry should hold off on invasions of foreign nations & concentrate on improving the lives of all Romans. How did their government & nation repay them, they were repaid in blood. While existing serving as tribune a decade apart, the brother Gracchus embodied the hope of Republican virtue & the death of the Republican ideal.

But what am I talking about, what possible lessons looking at 2000-year-old Romans could learn? I mean it is not as though we live in a nation that is ripe with domestic strife, poverty, racial hatred, & inequity. The United States is not a nation that feels the need to govern others--against their will--and impose its own special brand of 'culture' upon others, right? It is not like the United States ignores the will of other nations, sets aside international law when they deem appropriate, and invade nations under false pretense.
Furthermore, I must be way out of bounds to suggest that the nation's highest officials could ever conceive of setting aside national law, its constitution, political norms, or the will of the people for the sake personal/professional agenda. It's not as though the United States has a President who stole the office, lacks integrity, is a 'recovering' drunkard, bends the laws of our nation--or simply ignores them at will--and sends 2,500 kids to their death for the sake of vengeance & the right to line the pockets of his friends.
Wait, now that I think about it, maybe there are some similarities b/w the Ancient Roman Republic & the 'Bush States of America'...maybe, just maybe there are some lessons that we could learn from our past. Fortunately for us, the president cannot really be described as a reader, so there is no danger of him actually learning anything. Besides, when someone can manipulate the laws & principles that govern, how can he be wrong?
In the end, maybe the Ancient Roman Republic was a better place than the current incarnation of the United States; the Romans at least had a few men like the Gracchus who were willing to try to bring about change, even if it meant their lives. Today however, bread & circus is more than enough to keep the average American happy.


Isn't this country great

Isn't it great to live in a country of free enterprise? How many other nations have wonderful businesses like Sears; the store that will sell you an appliance, charge you to "fix"it, & try to charge you again to actually complete the task. I shouldn't be too hard on them, but for Sears, illiterate unemployable rednecks would be left to their own devices. Fortunately for the Kentuckians of the world, there is Sears repair, able & willing to employ anyone who is willing to do a poor job, avoid promptness at all costs, & implement inflated prices whenever possible.

When one couples this wonderful specter of capitalism with a sagging--if not dead economy--endless financial predators, and a government determined to spend money everywhere but where needed, fight wars for no reason, and reinstitute "God" into everyone's life, how can we not be thankful. I don't think I've been this happy since the Reagan years...of course Nixon was nice too...well ya gotta love 'Bush the Elder'...All I can say for certain is that a little intern & cigar action seems pretty damn good these days.


Staying at Home with Nothing to Do

Anyone who feels that staying home with children is not a job has never done so. One toddler is enough to exhaust the most stalwart of souls but staying home with a toddler & an infant is be enough to make one recognize that life's little challenges really are little. Fortunately, being a stay-at-home-dad is primary a thankless job; it does come with the benefit of quizzical looks, rude comments, old people telling you that you are not a man, & buddies who snicker.
I thought that I took a lot of ribbing when I was teaching..."those who can do, those who cannot teach," or "you get paid alot for part-time work." Now I get the double look..."oh you stay home with the kids, how nice, what did you do before...oh...you were a teacher, how noble. Hello, have you ever tried to spend your days in a classroom? Have you ever tried to raise a child, to stimulate development & give them all of the childhood that you wanted. It's easy to look down on someone...to say "a baby just needs to be fed & changed, it easy." Anyone can comment but few can actually do.