Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In a Way I Can Sort of Feel for Haley Barbour...

I just don't remember it as being that bad." He goes on to talk of standing "at the periphery"

Yes, not exactly the most enlightened approach to race relations, when one is looking for a Presidential run. Especially when the defeat of the originally Republican sponsored DREAM Act just failed to pass muster.  And on the coat tails of a whole lot shaking going on with charges of racism within the GOP, and much finger pointing and revisionism on the part of lots of folks on both sides of the aisle, it is maybe not the most politic time to choose to defend the White Citizens Councils, and then incite a media that is already looking to sharpen their teeth in preparation for the Presidential race to come.

Unlike the Slate article above, and the assessment that Barbour is looking to white wash his past--which is not entirely inaccurate given the current level of revisionism that is going on by many in this political climate--is, I think, simplistic, but I can feel for the man in a way.

I grew up an Army brat. By the time I was in second grade, I'd been to Okinawa, California, Texas, Maine, and South Carolina. In second grade, I lived with my Grandmother, a grand KC lady who worked at the JP Regal plant outside Whitmire. We moved to Whitmire because of my Grandmother's transfer--my father was once again on the move, and it was far more stable for me to be with my Grandmother post his recent divorce.  I was already a bit of a rolling stone.

Whitmire was a grand little town.  It sits right near one of the largest tracts of logging land in South Carolina.  The folks who own a good sized chunk of it, and whose ancestors helped found Whitmire were our landlords and neighbors.  The Bakers moved to a single level ranch that they'd built so Senior didn't have to go up and down stairs, and they put up their old family home for rent.  The sons were likewise our neighbors across the highway, and in the fall, they'd give away the corn they grew to whoever wanted to pick it.  They were ardent churchgoing folk.  Giving, and kind, the Bakers showed my Grandmother every courtesy, and the ragged and gangly boy that came in tow as well.

Growing up in Whitmire was as close to the American Dream as I've ever seen.  I rode my bike up and down streets with real white picket fences.  I chased snakes and lizards through wet country, and I chased, and was chased by dogs of all shapes and sizes.  In spring, I joined the throng of kids on the playground for the honeysuckle, I went to the drug store for the soda fountain, the magic tricks for a dollar, the 35 cent comics, and the Matchbox cars on a rotating display.  We attended the Methodist church in town--and despite the recent assessment by the TEA Party that the Methodists are Godless Commie/Soshulists, I found them to be good and accepting people--and even the Baptists and Catholics were friendly all around.

I have many fond memories of Whitmire.  It was a grand and glorious time to be a kid.  Deep in the South, it gave me a love of that country, the sound of the katydids and frogs in summer, the sight of a water moccasin sunning itself on a log out back before it got up the gumption to go kill something, the sight of my Great Grandmother running a lawnmower over a nest of copperheads and then passing out in the middle of the yard after the explosion of snake parts across it.  I was baptized there.  I went to Sunday School, I met a girl that I suspect was my first crush but didn't have the words for it at the time.  I made great friends.

It wasn't until years later that I began to have some disquiet about those years.  Because it wasn't until I was in high school that I realized something.

I was an Army Brat. I attended more schools than I attended grades.  A year was a luxury in a lot of cases. I got to make friends fast, and on base schools, or at least schools with bases near by, the military brats need that skill.  Because of that upbringing, I was used to all sorts of kids.  I had a Puerto Rican/Filipino babysitter who pretty much laid out what I consider attractive--my father dated, but I didn't really have a single "mother" figure, so I blame Isi for my love of dark girls with cobra black hair, and Catholic school plaid skirts.  Black, brown, yellow, sallow, pale, mixed up kids with even more complicated backgrounds than my own German-Irish-Japanese heritage were more the rule than the exception.  I didn't really think on it much until later years--and when I realized that my Grandmother was a little bit racist, in the sort of institutional way that many of her generation were.  Pickaninny was just how she said "cute black child."  She didn't mean anything disparaging, but that was how she was raised.  She got over it in later years, but it was a revelation to me when I remembered some of the things that she'd say.  She was my Grandmother after all, she helped raise me, after all.  But, I realized, even at a young age, that we saw people in very different lights.

Whitmire was, as I said, an idyllic town.  It was a slice of Apple Pie America.

I don't remember one black face in my school.  Not even a janitor.

Mind you, this is in the Deep South.

There were plenty of black folks working at the plant. Plenty in Newberry, Clinton, and Greenwood.  But not one dark face in my school. Not one.  Which, in second grade, I didn't really notice too much.  The previous few years had been busy with moving and a divorce, and all sorts of things.  I was just glad that the teachers smiled, they dealt with my restlessness and precocious energy, and treated me gentle.  It wasn't until later that I realized that something was odd there.

As I said, these were folks who had an enormous capacity for kindness.  The church did all sorts of outreach to the poor around Whitmire.  The Bakers were deeply involved with all sorts of charities, and giving to the community.  Personally, I've never felt safer than in that town--everyone knew everyone, and they all looked out for one another. This is, of course, through the skein of eyes from a second to third grader, but that is how I remember Whitmire. Safe, kind, and so much the sort of place that so many Americana bands like to invoke.

But, there still wasn't a single dark face that I remember in that Methodist Church. Or in my school. Or in our neighborhood.

I can understand a certain degree of insulation on the part of Governor Barbour.  I experienced it myself. A separatism that isn't so much institutional, as much as it is social.  I can't imagine Mrs. Lemon dealing with any child without love and kindness.  She was a grand little woman, with a huge heart, and easy smile, and she managed our classes with wit and humor, and nothing but affection for her students.  The Bakers were equally kind.  But, that doesn't change the equation, that in many places, such separatism is normalized. Not overt, not handed down by night stick or threats, but still, houses don't come up for rent, jobs dry up, and heck, John at the plant knows a guy who can get your wife a job over in Newberry, and I know a guy who has a great place on the other side of town that would be a damn sight closer for both of you...

Not mean spirited, but folks seem to know where folks stick to their own kind.

I understand the world that Barbour grew up.  Mind you, the White Citizens Councils may have put on a nice face for young folks, but their purpose was hardly the soda fountain world that I grew up in, in Whitmire. And mind you, my experience in the South was twenty years removed from the pains of desegregation.  Which, in some ways, makes the whole thing more insidious as I have grown older.  Barbour wants to paint an ideal for the voters--because many don't want to confront their own prejudices, and their own history.

The South is impossible to put into perspective without the context of slavery, the War Between the States, and the Reconstruction.  It is a land rife with beauty, and pain, and joy, and all wrapped up together.  It is much like watching that water moccasin sunning itself in the morning.  There is beauty there, and respect for the danger, and the threat of very real violence and death, but that's all wrapped up and bound up with beauty and a love for the land and the people around you too.

Even the racist ones.  Like my Grandma, who was a little bit racist.  She was my Grandma, and I love her, but I also learned from her mistakes.  And I'm glad that my father did as well, and raised me up to not care so much about color as character.  Well, that, and for that babysitter who set me on the path for dark haired, dark eyed girls who like tartan.

Barbour made a decision to paint events in the best possible light.  He did so out of his political ambitions, and to try to appeal not so much to the voters in the North, or the Mid-West or the West, but to appeal to those who don't like to admit that they were deep in a movement to restrict rights.  They tried to prettify it up by calling pride, calling it keeping neighborhoods safe, protecting their own or whatever excuse was used, but in the end, it was about keeping folks out and down.  His sin, wasn't that he white washed, but that he was trying to protect the honor of folks who had little.

But I understand that sin.  Because I grew up in the South.  I grew up with a kind teacher, and a minister with an endless capacity for questions from a child raised up a Buddhist, and who let the kids out of Bible School early to go berry picking.  The South is rife with all sorts of contradictions and duality.  While Barbour is going to have to face the distortions that he's made over the years--and as a politician, it's sort of expected--I can understand his desire to protect the folks that he grew up with, his own heroes.  The difference is, many Southerners come to grips with that Dame Bitch Duality, in love of place, and full knowledge of history.

The problem is, that when we look to revise history for the comfort of those around us, we forget the words of George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." And if anything, the history of the South screams for remembrance.  Not just for slavery, not just for Jim Crow, not just for lynching and the institutionalized racism that became so endemic that it stains the character of the South today, but the carpet baggers and the sins of the Reconstruction that helped fuel that anger and focus it on the faces of those freed slaves as a symbol.  While many in the GOP are using Barbours remarks to try to paint the Democrats with the brush of the 50s--and it is likewise damn foolish for Democrats to try to forget Robert Byrd's own history.  Or that Strom Thurmond started out as a Democrat, and changed party in 1964.

It's not simply a sin of trying to spare feelings--and that I understand--but the real sin is trying to spare feelings that NEED to preserved.  We need to understand the hurt. We need the context, and that is the real sin here.  We need that pain, to remember it, so that we don't let it happen again.

Already, we have folks who are clamoring for controls on Muslim Americans. Forgetting the lessons that my mother's people faced with the Internment.  We cannot simply pooh pooh on history that doesn't fit narrative.  We need it.

I understand the discomfort, and I understand the desire to protect ones' own.  I get that portion of the show. To preserve honor and dignity for those you love.  But some things, we can't just wash away.  Some stains need to stick around, so you learn from them.

**As an aside, I suggest a small side jaunt from Governor Barbour and his bending of the truth. 

Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension in American Racism.

I found it fascinating, and it reminds me a bit of some of the intentionally segregated gated communities in Atlanta, as affluent black couples move back to the South, and form their own communities, which likewise shut out not just pale faces, but dark faces who were born in ATL as well...

Crossposted to The Motley Moose"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh Spam Folder, How Do I Love Thee

Today I cleaned out the Spam folder.  With Gmail, that's not such a big thing, but since I'm waiting on a phone call or two, I figured I'd poke around a bit.

There was the usual tripe. Newsletters I've never gotten around to canceling, great deals on flowers, much Viagra and other products to enhance the male physique. Some interesting attempts to Phish for my credit information.  But the real gems this go around were from a couple of lovely ladies.

First was Mrs. Lilian Jones. Hers was a tragic tale; esophageal cancer, living in Dubai, a very Christian woman whose only joy in these last few months of her life are to distribute her great fortune that she has collected for charities, but her bankers are not trustworthy, or so it seems. All she needs is a little assistance in getting the funds to collect the funds to be dispersed.  Luckily, she did have the name of her trusted attorney, an understanding soul by the name of Joe Benson, and apparently, he was more easily contacted than Mrs. Jones. She blessed me several times in this missive.

I very nearly wept. Dying of cancer, and she blesses me?  I needed a moment.

Next though, was a lass by the name of STORMY.  I was drawn to her note, because she asked that Let's make it Working.  With English skills so polished, how could I resist?  And upon opening the missive, there were attachments!  Apparently STORMY was an attractive girl, nubile and maybe 20.  She was apparently looking at my email address, and thought that we should strike up a conversation.  To commemorate our friendship, she sent two very steamy little attachments, that in all modesty, I didn't feel appropriate to open. A gentleman doesn't save trophies from egirls who send them unsolicited photos, it's rude and improper.  What if I were the sort of brute who would do things while looking at said pictures?  It was a sordid scene in my head, and while I could appreciate a random hottie with photos from what appeared to be two different girls in states of undress, asking me to download her pics, and then mail her begging for more, I feared that this naive girl would soon be taken advantage of.  I didn't want to lead her on, after all. I've been hurt before...

The women put me in a mood though, and with a slightly depressed mind and soul--one so ill and so concerned for the welfare of others, and the other so naive to reveal so much of herself online--I scrolled down further. There was a shining jewel of hope, in amongst all these attempts to Phish for information, or sell me blue pills.  One Miss Louise Boss sent me a message that I was a lottery winner, one from Amsterdam. I don't even remember entering and I was going to scroll down, when I saw a Big Red Banner through the mail! It was a warning!  That THIS mail might not be who it claimed it was from! How very shocking!  BUT, lucky for me, the folks who inserted this clever banner into Miss Louise Liar's mail, they were offering their services to clean my computer of malicious malware that just LOOKING at these sorts of emails could infect a computer with. All I had to do to cleanse my computer--and my soul--was to click the handy link on the banner, and their automated process would cleanse me, and send me back into the fray. Finally, someone who was just looking to do a good deed.

Truly, one can feast upon the milk of human kindness when one opens one's Spam Folder. It heartens me that there are some decent souls who seek only to do good in this world.  Now then, if I just right click--->open new tab, that should do it...

++++**NO CARRIER**++++ 


Friday, November 26, 2010

Lance Henriksen can make it better...

My premise is simple. The inclusion of Lance Henriksen can make even the most unpalatable of projects better. 

It is a corollary to my theory that Kate Beckinsale is the Anointed Bhodisattva of Suck. I posit that Kate is a karmic test for directors. If they can resist the siren call of her sweet looking self, and the hordes of fans that will show up to see her dressed in something skimpy, torn, wet, or otherwise revealing, or the possibility of such an occurrence, then they have an even chance of making a decent film. I have only the Underworld films, Pearl Harbor, The Aviator, or even Van Helsing as my proof.  Directors who had some track record, some success, and blew it by the addition of The Flavor of the Month.  Well, I take that back, Underworld was directed by her boyfriend who had no directing chops under his belt, but damn those were poor films, and I stand by her being a karmic test.  Kate Beckinsale can take even gifted directors down the road for a poor film.  The notable exception being Kenneth Branagh who cast  her in an ingenue role.  He was spared in Much Ado About Nothing, for she had not yet assumed her great role in the Universe's balancing. 

The Universe is perhaps not kind--the Long Dark between solid bodies will kill us all without a shed tear, and with little fanfare with a cast of radiation from a wandering body bursting with light and energy or smash us all and leave the world to the insects and squid to rise as the next species batting for intelligence--but it is fair. In that cosmic fairness, for Kate Beckinsale, we have been gifted with an actor of the likes of Lance Henrikson.

Lance grew to fame in geek circles with his role as Bishop in Aliens. Though, to be fair, he was in The Terminator long before that. And let us not forget Pirhana Two: The Spawning. And Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Right Stuff--you know, little art house stuff. But after Aliens, Lance's career took an odd turn. Not as odd as, say, Tim Thomerson, who gifted New Moon Cinema with scintillating performances like Doll Man, but Lance has made an impressive number of B-Pictures. His IMDB credits are longer than many actors have had lines. Mind you, he hit B-Films in what was a new Golden Age for B-Movies. Near Dark. Pumpkinhead. Excessive Force. Knights. Here was a man who could seamlessly go from calling up a hillbilly vengeance demon, to cop, to secret agent, vampire, to corrupt sheriff, to a blood sucking cyborg, to voicing cartoons, and back to serious roles, and then mainstream television, even voice parts for video games. It didn't matter, since they all paid with coin of the realm, and Lance gots kids to take care of. And a couple of ex-wives too. There are few actors who have had as varied a career as Lance has had. And, I posit, that he is the reverse of Kate Beckinsale.

Now then, let's not get it screwed up that Lance has not been involved in some films and series that did, shall we say, less than well? But, his films have something that a great many of the straight to video crowd didn't have: Lance Henriksen. As a presence on film, he is the sort of actor that demands a certain amount of respect. Much like Keith David. He has a gravitas on screen, that means he can be spitting up what looks like a mix of corn starch and heavy cream, and still, folks are riveted by that gravelly voice, and it gives weight to a film. Even a bad film. Even Pirhana Two: The Spawning.

Or Knights. Here is a film that should have been gawd awful. Kathy Long was a female kick boxing champ. She was known for being a damn determined fighter, if not just a little on the mean side. She was also moderately pretty. Which in the 90s was more than enough. Cyborg had made a ton of cash on video with the Van Dammage. There were a ton of new martial arts movies all over the place, and not a lot of women in leading roles, so I can see the pitch for this film being made, and let's face it, Albert Pyun, directed Cyborg. Nemesis. The above mentioned Dollman. Heck, Kickboxer 2 and 4. He was THE guy to go to make a cheap movie with asskickery. So, Kathy Long is cast as our heroine, a naive girl taught to fight by Kris Kristofferson to battle blood drinking cyborgs. That's right Kris Kristofferson. AND Lance Henrikson. In a cyborg vampire movie.

And it was pure gold. Didn't make a ton of cash, but the movie should have had everything against it, and yet, it is funny, the action isn't bad, Long is a terrible actress, but you didn't watch the movie for her emoting, but to see her touchis in skimpy clothes, and her beat the hell out of guys. And then, out of the blue, you have Kris Kristofferson AND Lance Henrikson having a great time. For those who watched the movie, or plan to, you can see where Kristofferson stole a lot of his character for the Blade movies from this one.

It's a movie that should have been terrible. Just cringe worthy, but somehow, it pulls it out. And I leave that up to Lance, who tore up the screen with equal parts camp, and gravitas. His voice rolls out and you have to smile.

And that's how it is with much of his work. Horrible films are made palatable by the inclusion of Lance Henriksen. Even in cameos, like in Aliens3. Or Hellraiser: Hellworld. Or The Mangler 2--yes, Virginia, they made a sequel. Lance makes even terrible films watchable by his presence. He may not be able to turn them into gold, but he can mitigate even a terrible script to palatable. Put him in a video game, and you have legions of geeks smiling when they hear him. He, like Keith David, is a mark of quality, and part of that is his strong presence, and part, the fact that folks know he's put in his dues. He's no shrinking violet or tantrum throwing star, he's a guy who will throw up Karo and be chucked into a set to appear as a torn up android on command. He doesn't have a huge amount of pride to keep him locked in his trailer, she's a trouper, and folks know it. And that shows on screen. God Love him for it too, because his presence has made a ton of films that could have been absolutely horrible, into gems that maybe didn't bring in bank, but they certainly made folks smile.

Lance Henriksen. The Savior of B-Film. I salute thee, sir. I salute thee.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Patchwork Nation

One thing that has been driving me insane over the last few years is the driving home of this Red State/Blue state "wisdom."  The idea of Real America vs a Faux-America, and the resultant polarization of our politics in the idea that you're "with us" or "against us."

And in that feeling, we have this idea that we are divided nation, who either loves or hates the country depending on what button you push at the polls, or which circle you fill on the ballot.

Dante Chinni and James Gimpel have proposed a new model for looking at the nation, beyond the simple Red State/Blue state idea. After two years, journalist Dante Chinni, and professor of government a the University of Maryland, James Gimpel, PH.D, have worked on The Patchwork Nation project. It has proposed a new way to look at the nation, beyond just the regional work of Joel Garreau's Nine Nations of North America.  Based more on the work of urban theorist Richard Florida, and journalist Bill Bishop--whose The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded Americans is Tearing Us Apart is a fascinating read when you have the time--they examine the socio-economic and cultural divides that have sprung up in our society, and how communities across the web of counties across the nation more resemble one another than just the rubric of Red State/Blue state polarization would suggest.

For Chinni and Gimpel, they examined all 3,141 counties across this nation. With some statistical analysis of median age, income, ethnic make up, growth, housing, and cultural influence, they created a model that breaks counties down into twelve types.

Boom Towns--384 counties, with 59.3 million people. Wealthy and growing, like Eagle, Colorado. Lavish before the economic downturn, and rapidly growing communities invested heavily in construction and growth.

Campus and Careers--71 counties, with 13.1 million people. Clustered around college campuses and heavily invested in the industries that their universities are sponsoring, and emerging technologies.

Emptying Nests--250 counties, with 12.1 million people. Where Boomers and retirees are settling for their sunset years, sometimes with fixed incomes.

Evangelical Epicenters--468 counties, with 14.1 million people. Full of young families, often poorer than the national average, but with great faith, often in clashes with the other religious tribes in their midst.

Immigration Nation--204 counties, with 20.7 million people. Mostly in the Southwest, with high Hispanic populations, lower than average incomes, and a higher than average poverty.

Industrial Metropolis--41 counties, with 53.9 million people. Bastions of industry, densely packed, younger, more diverse than average, and packed with neighborhoods that are often as different as night and day.

Military Bastions--55 counties, with 8.4 million people. Packed around our nation's military bases, with middle income families of soldiers, and those who service our bases, and deeply tied to the deployments and families of those who are left behind.

Minority Central--364 counties, with 13.5 million people. African American and Native American populations mark these communities, and often lower income and high poverty rates, with often very divided communities where race is concerned.

Monied Burbs--286 counties, 69.1 million people. Higher than average education, higher than average income, and often evenly split between parties, and opportunities for dropping relative wealth here and abroad.

Mormon Outposts--44 counties, 1.7 million people. Mostly in the Mountain West, heavily Mormon, and often rural and sparsely populated.

Service Worker Centers--663 counties, 31 million people. Centers of tourism or mid-sized towns, where employee benefits are often sparse, and folks are often only seasonal.

Tractor Country--311 counties, 2.3 million people. Farming and agribusiness rule these counties' economic base, and often white, rural, and remote.

The one problem that I've always had with Garreau's Nine Nations, was that Northampton, Massachusetts shares more in common with Durango, Colorado, than it has in common with Boston or even the Cape. Yet, there is a tendency to throw NoHo in the same category as Boston because of the locale. While Mainers share many traits, Portland is a far different place than Skowhegan. And their voting history are far different as well, and the economies and culture are far removed.  The communities of the Finger Lakes are a far different lot than the folks living in New York city, and the breakdown that Chinni and Gimpel have worked out, while some may argue is arbitrary, gives us a wider picture of the forces that work on disparate communities that often share demographics, employment and income figures, and mores. Economics, politics and culture play a role as well. While Presidential elections hinge on the electoral fall of the chips, the Chinni and Gimpel model is a tool that may become increasingly useful to help folks strategize their approaches to elections, and gives us a more complete picture than the simplicity of Real America vs the Fake America that divides and dumbs down the national debate.

Chinni and Gimpel traveled to each county across the country to gather not just data, but to talk to folks in each of these communities. Those anecdotal stories are without irony, and build up a picture of each representation, the people within, and the challenges that they face. While the simplicity of thinking of the country as just Red or Blue makes for easy graphics in the news, it does us a grave disservice, even for those of us who are still invested in Party.  Republicans from Boston are a bit different than Republicans in Nixa, Missouri. While Palin's political base can draw from Evangelicals, it often alienates her from those in the Industrial East. And understanding these differences, and how disparate communities across the nation can share values and mores, as well as similar economic challenges can bring us, as a nation, closer together.

If you haven't looked at the Patchwork Nation project, I urge you to at least peruse it, as a better tool, or at least as a springboard for thinking about the nation less as polar opposites. It is a project that helps bring into focus better the disparate nature of the nation and her communities, as much as Strauss and Howe brought lifecycle influence better into focus with Generations and their cyclical model of generations in this country.

Crossposted to the Motley Moose.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Forgotten Pledges...

From Newest Farkstuff

Been a while since I posted, but given the recent flap with Carl Paladino's speech on the dysfunction of homosexuals, the flap over the "Ground Zero Mosque" and the upcoming upcoming trial of Ahmed Kalfan Ghailani, I thought it was important to remind folks of pledges made some time ago.

Most Americans of an age, started their school days with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. I have no doubt that most American reading this can recite the Pledge from memory, and without really thinking on it too much. Announcements, turn to the flag, find out what's for lunch in the cafeteria, discover that the football team is getting out early for a game, and realizing that means all the cheerleaders will be leaving too. Which was, perhaps good news for some, and heartbreak for others who pined for the lovely ladies with the short skirts and pom poms, or the strapping young men destined for the gridiron later that day.

We have said these words, over and over again. Automatic response, hand over heart, eyes often vaguely glazed. In repetition, we grew familiar, and reflexive. And the words, and the oath lost its power.

There is debate over the place of the Pledge of Allegiance. It's language, its purpose, the use of God and the separation of church and state, but that debate can be set aside for a moment, when you have to ponder how often folks in power, as of late, have forgotten the promises made, and that we made daily.

For all the jingoist patriotism that has been bandied about in the last election, and now as we hear condemnations against so much, and this particular Administration, I thought it wise to bring up the Pledge. Especially for the brand of patriots who want Americans to regain their pride, to resist the siren call of Socialism, the homosexual agenda, the rising threat of Islam and Sharia law in this nation.

These fair weather patriots have forgotten their basic and oft repeated oath.

I Pledge allegiance
To the Flag
Of the United States of America
And to the Republic for which it stands
One nation
Under God
With Liberty and Justice for all

You will note, that in that pledge and promise, that we have sworn, over and over again, thousands of times over the course of our lives, that our nation is a Republic, that we've sworn our loyalty and faith to that system of governance. Not just to one party, but to the nation as a whole. One nation. Not simply "Real America" and the heck with those faux Americans who live in the original Thirteen Colonies, with their fancy book learning and where the history is kept. To not contemplate the division and secession of parts because we don't like what our neighbors are doing. That we are united as a nation. Single and indivisible. Not Red states vs Blue states. Not just America until the gub'mint does something to piss me off.

You will note, the last portion. "With liberty and justice for all."  That part is more telling. More important. That is the promise of our nation. Liberty and justice for all. Not just Christians. Not just citizens. Not just straight people. Not just those with money in the bank, or property. But all.

It is a shame that so many have forgotten their oaths.  That so many seem to think that the Fourteenth Amendment is inapplicable today.

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

I have bolded the important parts of Section One. The parts that folks who've sworn their allegiance to the Republic, and the basis of our law and citizenship.

You will note, that Section One doesn't say, "Any persons but the homos" or "Any person but dirty Muslims" or "Any citizen" even. But simply "any persons."  Equal protection of the law. Equal. Not just a little bit, but equal. As in the same protection of the law.

We have repeatedly sworn to uphold the Republic. Using the flag as symbol of that Republic, we have sworn to uphold her promise of liberty and justice for all, and it is a shame that so many who claim to love this land, this nation, have forgotten their oath. To uphold liberty and justice for all, and then tirelessly work to limit the rights of homosexuals, who should have equal access and protection under the law to marry and live their lives with dignity, to be the same as all others. To try to demonize and limit the rights of Muslims to practice their faith, to build and prosper within the communities that they live in.  To cry and wail on the right to a speedy trial, and work to limit and even deny folks the right to a trial.

It is a shame that so many, who claim to love their country, have forgotten their oaths, and we are damned by this lack of faith, and this lack of vigilance to to uphold the ideals of our nation, that we have so often sworn to.

I ask that maybe it's time to remind folks what they pledged to do, over and over again, and to remind them of what it means to be Americans, and what we hold most dear and precious. Because it seems that a lot of folks have forgotten that oath, and our values.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Positive Side Effect

One positive side effect of the recent financial debacle, and the drying up of credit, is that America may get back to a something we've not done in a while: exercise fiscal restraint.

With the easy credit markets, and many financial institutions and businesses living essentially in their overdraft protection, constantly servicing debt, as opposed to paying down principle, and taking out loan after loan to fuel expansion for the sake of, on paper, to "grow" while only spiraling further and further into new conditions of debt. While old loans are refinanced, the principle and the level of debt continues to weigh companies down. While conditions improve in the short term, many firms both small and large have been carrying what George Cloony's "Ryan Bingham" called his "backpack" and those backpacks being chock full of obligations that created decision trees that were predicated on carrying debt with them, and only looking for resolutions that kept them solvent, and what many called a "discipline of debt."

Now, we are faced with a "discipline of cash." Oddly enough, living within our means, and making decisions based on what we actually earn, and to think twice about our decisions about the long term consequences of spending. Instant gratification that our "easy credit" markets created led to decisions that were based on the assumption that we could just "roll over" our debt and come out without consequence.

And that led us far from the fiscal restraint and good fiscal decision making that created that boom in the first place. Credit, and easy access to it, made our businesses agile and quick to adapt to new markets.  Likewise though, we are now adjusting to a new reality where cash is king, and your business will grow only when you can afford to do so, not when you can "afford" a new loan, and hope to keep it serviced.  Call it restraint or austerity, but it means a firmer foundation for our businesses, and our investments. Or at least for a majority of the small businesses and the lesser sized companies.

The largest customers, they are still looking for new conquests. But from a economists' standpoint, the give and take, and relative lack of growth can be seen as a positive thing: stability for our markets. People living within their means, and only incrementally growing makes for a lousy return for speculative investments, but it is that very stability that can make for long term investments based on sound and thoughtful business practice.

It does go against the "Boom-Bust" cycle that the American economy was slaved to for most of its existence. Which wiped out many a fortune until finally measures were taken to enact protections that many firms have been fighting against, and looking for a lookey-loo around for some time.

It does mean that growth will be slower for some time for many. It means less opportunity to grow hard and fast, but living within one's means brings a stability that encourages confidence, and public confidence means a less rambunctious and less radical investment schemes.

Cross-posted to The Motley Moose

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kangbashi--Ghost Town

The Kangbashi district of Ordos City in Inner Mongolia illustrates the exact reason that the US has little to fear from China's saber economic saber rattling.

While the US housing and banking markets are recovering, with the Chinese holding a fair amount of US debt, and many fearing the day when the Chinese start demanding bills come due, we have to remember the symbiosis that our markets and the Chinese now exist in.

Ordos City was established to be prefecture seat, and a highlight of the economic boom that the Chinese have lashed themselves to. Inner Mongolia bloomed with a thoroughly modern city, created from scratch. The Kangbashi District is its jewel, with high rises, daring architecture, and lavish infrastructural amenities that rival many Western cities, it is also damn near empty and unused.  Of the 1.3 million or so residents of the city, most are the workers actually building this marvel in the Mongolian desert. 

The Ordos Museum is an impressive structure, a marvel of the new style of Chinese public buildings, designed to wow the rest of the world, as well as impress and instill pride in the residents and their countrymen. It is also rarely visited, save by those who are putting the finishing touches on the structure, and to take photos for promotions to try to lure folks to the Mongolian desert. 

The real estate bubble in the West was devastating.  The housing bubble here in the US was dotted with developments that were bought to be flipped, and fueled by rampant speculation. We were, however, amateurs to the scale that the Chinese have invested in their own real estate bubble. While neighborhoods were fabricated for growing cities, the Chinese were betting on creating whole cities whole cloth, and it is this very reason that, while the amount of US debt in Chinese hands is a matter of some concern, we have little to fear from the Chinese rattling economic sabers. While indeed they own a fair amount of our debt, they need that interest at this point just to survive, and we exist now in a form of economic symbiosis that neither the US nor China can even think about extricating ourselves from any time soon. 

The boundless optimism that dominated the last several years, with dreams of nothing but wealth spiraling upwards wasn't just a Western conceit.  While there may have been the clucking of tongues at the waste and recklessness of US regulatory bodies with our own investment in financial fictions, at the same time, our economic partners were using the wealth that they were skimming from our loan structures, and their own investments in ways that were both impressive, and in their own way, filled with as much hubris and and fiscal hallucination. 

While there are economists who are worried what the real estate bubble in China looks like, with such a huge investment by the Chinese government into what amounts to ghost towns, it only illustrates that the Chinese are going to need our interest payments for some time, and while there may be hardliners who may think about trying to squeeze a bit, ultimately, our interests and the Chinese are interlinked.  Our debt, and the servicing of that debt, may be the only thing that can save the Chinese from economic implosion. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why Does Liz Cheney Hate America So Much?

There has been a fair amount of push to derail the Justice Department from doing their job. And one of the culprits of this idiocy has been Liz Cheney. Her latest efforts to keep her father's involvement in less than savory practices during the last Administration has come from a web based attack on our own Justice Department.

Keep America Safe is ironically named, because its rasison d'etre is to keep American justice from playing out. By targeting attorneys doing pro bono work and providing the legal counsel that is every accused's right in this country, she condemns not only these attorneys, but our entire system of justice. 

I am hardly the only Republican who thinks her witchhunt is a bad idea. I join Ted Olson, Bush's own Solicitor General, former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, David Rivkin, Lee Casey, and even Kenneth Starr.

"I of course think it’s entirely appropriate for members of the legal profession to have provided legal services to detainees. It is a part of the responsibility of lawyers and in the finest tradition of the profession to represent unpopular persons who are caught up in the criminal justice system or even in the military justice system. I think that people who do so, do so honorably.” 

“But I also think that some of the people being highly critical now of the criticism of the lawyers in the Justice Department, have been completely silent when it came to attacks — vicious attacks — on lawyers in the Department of Justice and the Defense Department who were providing legal assistance and advice to the United States of America during the last administration in connection with the attacks on the United States by terrorists.

“So lawyers should be encouraged to provide legal advice conscientiously to their clients. And that goes for people in the Bush administration and the Obama administration." 

Mind you, Liz Cheney is hardly alone in this effort, and her partner in all this, Bill Kristol, has long been an opponent of reason, or justice. Sadly, Bill Kristol has best been summed up in his career as of late by Jon Stewart: "Oh Bill Kristol, are you EVER right?"

Inherent to our justice system is the right to counsel. Even the worst has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. That is how our system of justice works, it is that assumption that is the cornerstone of our courts. While the public, and those in the military, and even our own agents may know and have witnessed folks doing horrible things, even the worst get their day in court.  At least, that is the promise that we have made to ourselves.  That we will apply justice fairly and evenly, and that the attacks on attorneys who are providing defense for those accused is very much in keeping with the tradition of our courts. Even going back to our Revolutionary days, when John Adams defending British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre. 

What bothers me about this idiocy, isn't that Liz and Kristol and the rest of her band of insincere asshats think that folks are guilty--they may very well be--but that they wish to interfere with the justice process, and short circuit it. 

"They hate us for our freedoms!" is a common tirade for our War On Terror. The problem being, when we short circuit our system of justice for short term gain, we lose any hint of a moral or ethical high ground, and it only proves that terrorists can cow the greatest nation on Earth. When we pull back from the principles that this nation is founded upon to tuck our tails between our legs out of fear--or worse, out of expediency--we only give those enemies ammunition for their cause. 

Moreover, that Liz Cheney's involvement is a thinly veiled attempt to shield her own father's possible malfeasance and to throw folks off the trail to track down how badly our own legal and ethical standards were skewed in the capture of many of our detainees is not lost. The raft of appearances to shed investigations and introspection at the policies that have ballooned Gitmo, and other holding facilities, and often without the process of law place the Cheneys and their supporters at the AEI on not only the wrong side of the law and history, but against the very foundations of our rule of law. 

Liz: why do you hate America so much?

Crossposted to The Motley Moose

Friday, March 12, 2010

Conflation is not causation

Let's just get this out of the way: Jonah Goldberg is a fatuous, disingenuous ass that wouldn't know decent scholarship if it came up and punched him in the face. And decent scholars should be doing that for the idiocy that he has poured into his pean to appease those who don't like the current trend that sections of the GOP are taking, Liberal Fascism.

I pop the pic up early, to just get that out of the way. Whether or not the current NeoCons like it or not, their policies have a certain ring. By using a tool like Goldberg, and conflating ideologies and political systems that were long in opposition to one another, our beamish boy tries to swing a semantical bat to knock Fascism and Communism, and Socialism all into the same vat. Revisionism is nothing entirely new, and the push to cast Nixon as a Fallen Hero, or Reagan as a fiscal Conservative is just part of the push to try to lionize the past, and ignore the fallout of failed policies, while demonizing opposition who just plain pantsed you in the last election.

Thinking people would, you might assume, take inventory after a loss like the last one. Losing the House and Senate should have been a wake up call, but instead, it was a signal to turn up the Wing Nut Brigade to higher decibels and damn the torpedoes, it was straight ahead. And McCain's campaign foundered on those rocks. Rather than take that as a sign, that perhaps a change in policy might be in order, the GOP leadership has instead invested in simply revising the past and "changing the tone" again.

By investing in revisionists to recast the past in a new light, and simply excise the parts that might be embarrassing--like supporting Saddam in his fight against Iran, forgetting the USA's part in toppling the democratically elected government in Iran in the 50s, which set the stage for the rise of Fundamentalist Islamic Statists, or Reagan's profligate spending--and write a new "narrative."

For the record, I really hate the new term "narrative" at least in the context of public relations. It does show how removed folks are from reality in that they figure that they can simply spin a tale out of cherry picked facts, and ignore those that simply are inconvenient. The revisionists are looking to recast their tired and trite ideas that failed, and poison the waters for those who oppose them. The push to turn "Progressive" into a conflation with "Liberal Commie Scum" and likewise to push the idea that Commie-Pinko Scum are actually Fascists too, is a trite attempt to turn charges away from themselves--and after support of US PATRIOT and other attacks on personal liberties it's ironic to try to level the fascist bar against others.

Worse, you have an incestuous circle of folks who pat one another on the back for "exposing" this insidious plot to plant ideas into our youth and culture. Beck exposes the horrible plot to weave Progressive/Liberal/Fascist lies into music. You have Krauthammer pounding away at his own disingenuous drum, and Kristol and Goldberg hitting their own notes to try turn the ship of state from its disastrous course away from shooting people up across the world, and getting our economy back on track. And what bothers me about all this, is that it is an attempt to turn the GOP, and the country, away from saner voices.

The conflation to paint Progressives and Moderate voices of the GOP into monsters, and the gross revisionist plays at rewriting history, even only years ago to ignore inconvenient facts, is desperation in the face of failures, and rather than admit that the Neoconservative policies have failed both our security and our economy, they are doubling down on stoopid, and hoping that the American public is dumb enough to fall for it. And that right there shows the lack of respect that these tools have for the American people. That they have to resort to semantic slight of hand, and gross revisionism to work their way out of a corner, as opposed to simply letting the weight of their ideas carry the day, shows that they're out of gas. Out of ideas. Out of anything looking like intellectual integrity.

When Beck and others who try to paint Progressives as Liberal/Commie/Fascists who come for your liberty and your freedoms, this is who they fear. The following is their real boogeyman, because he represents all that the GOP can be, and should be, and idiots like themselves are too cowardly and intellectually bankrupt to strive for any longer...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oath Keepers

While I have, I will admit, explored options in dumping my party affiliation, in light of the GOP's shenanigans as of late--looking at the Modern Whig Party as a possible alternative--and questioned the political process as a whole in the face of our Congresscritters patently going off the rails in droves, on both sides of the aisle, I can't say that I've thought about going so far as these folks.

I was in Maine when Clinton was in office, and the modern militias got a fair amount of press. I knew folks who were in one, and I have to admit, I was impressed by the refurbished tank that they trotted out on occasion for events.  The guns were defunct, but with the know how to get the old Russian girl back up to snuff, I had little doubt that they could swap out functional weapons with little notice.  Even still, most of folks involved were retired vets, and young men and women who they trained.  In a similar fashion to a few skinhead groups that train up in the woods, though without the blaring music and probably 95% less race hating.

Justine Sharrock's article struck me, because the Oath Keepers are often serving members of our military.  Their very name illustrates their love of nation, recalling Reza Aslan's words of Flag as totem.  What I find interesting is that many were less concerned with a growing list of intrusions on privacy and other rights during the last Administration, and the Bush Administration's own recommendations for putting militia groups on higher watch status, than the current one.

Mind you, while racial politics does play into the equation a bit, I think that it has far less to do with the narrative that gets promoted.  I have little doubt that the Oath Keepers would have congealed in the face of a Hillary Clinton Presidency--something that Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes wrote vociferously against during the run up to the election last year.

In the face of things, the Declaration of Orders We Will Not Obey is not entirely a bad thing.  Rhodes is entirely correct that if the German military had refused orders, the Holocaust would not have happened.  A principled military that refuses to march against its own citizens or deny them their rights is a key to preserving our republic.  What is interesting is who ire is directed towards.  The fear of the Fed coming down like a hammer is one that has been fostered for quite a while in the paranoiac fantasy life of the likes of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.  Democrats have been cast as jack booted thugs and you have revisionists like Jonah Goldberg trying to cast the Commie-Pinko Liberals in the role of Fascists as well. It is an interesting mix of pejorative that are leveled against the Democrats--and as a former resident of Massachusetts and with friends in Chicago, I have seen and certainly know of Democrats who have borne their share of strong arm politics--but I am impressed that at the same time in trying to cast Democrats as New World Order--forgetting apparently who actually used the phrase to begin with--thugs, and limp wristed ineffectual elitist intellectuals without a shred of real world experience, that some sort of cognitive dissonance hasn't penetrated.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. And on one level, I have to applaud the idea that it is the Constitution, stupid.  The problem, unfortunately, with many of the grassroots movements, is that they are pointing their ire and anger and outrage perhaps in the wrong direction.  Fear of the other, fear of losing ground, and stoked by pundits and politicians alike who increasingly cast their opponents as figures bent on destroying the fabric of America, we see the politics of fear warping legitimate concerns into armed camps and ratcheted up rhetoric that tend to ignore history.  In casting Democrats--who, to be honest, I've yet to see much of anything as effective as the mythologized FEMA camps materialize--as despotic thugs, it robs our process of what we desperately need.  Real debate.  In the move for an all or nothing sort of politics, we not only rob ourselves of the opportunity for discussion and consensus, we push those who are most fearful and most vulnerable towards those who would use their fear against their opponents, and without care or responsibility for the fear and suffering that they engender.

Crossposted to The Motley Moose

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Play Date

I somehow survived the weekend trip to New York to visit my daughter, and the heaviest of snowfalls that Canandaguia has received this year.  Not quite Snowmaggedon, but it was close. 

Dug the ex-wife out of a driveway of the white stuff, got the snow blower out to take care of the drive so she could get some friends into the house for a while, and above all, got to hang out with the best kid in the world. Mine.

We did a lot this weekend.  Got me acclimatized to her mother's birds: and African Grey with feather plucking issues, a pair of mated Cockatiels who she's rehabilitating, and a fairly sane and sweet little Cockatiel who hops on shoulders and then nuzzles.  There were also several cats to be introduced to.  And I got to see some of my old stuff again.  OK, it was our stuff once upon a time, but Laura got our old bed, I was amazed at how comfy the old girl was when I found it in the guest room.  Gabe challenged her old man to several games of Clue, only to discover that Daddy is a Zen Master at Clue, and when we got down to a three round butt whoopin' in the Conservatory, with the knife, and Mrs. Peacock off in chains, she decided it was time for a new game.

There was a fair amount of goofing around, but the highlight for me--beyond being able to make my girl breakfast--was the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester.  

A museum for kids that encourages them to race around like wild monkeys and touch just about everything.  How cool is that?  Plenty to do, plenty to see, nooks and crannies filled with books and toys, and you can go there three days a week for a month and still find more neat stuff.  Yes, the Hall of Fame is a little odd: ball is apparently in the Hall of Fame. Ball. The ball. Yes, I think they were trying too hard with that, but still, there are a ton of great old toys--my old GI Joes with the kung fu grip were in there.  For the history buff, it's a great place to see the amusements of yore, and for kids, it's great to see that fun has a history.  

If you get out to Rochester, and you've got a day to kill, I can't recommend the Museum of Play stronger.  Though, I would watch out for the gift shop.  Gabe discovered the very creepy fun of Stretchy Arms Gorilla and Squeezy Frog...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Only Way to Win, Is Not to Play

I took the weekend to skip off to New York to visit my little girl, and for the ride, I picked up a little light reading.

Reza Aslan's How To Win A Cosmic War asks fundamental questions on not just our own War on Terror, but at the success of globalization over secularism and nationalism, and the somewhat bitter fruit it has borne.  

In particular, he traces the rise of Jihadists and compares their rise to the Christian Fundamentalists, Christian Nationalists, and Zionists. How Jihadism grew from fairly liberal religious nationalists in Egypt, and its eventual radicalization and exportation across the globe to a new transnationalist agenda. In part, because globalization has shown folks that even if they fail in effecting local change, that they can still have a great cause, and by framing it the context of Jihad, it is a grand site easier than the actual nitty gritty of running a state, and movement based on actually looking at issues that are often difficult, but lack the panache of tilting at the windmills of the West.  

Out of an intellectual and political movement, Jihadists--and likewise Christian Fundamentalists--have learned to cut to the chase, and get to an easy to digest framework as a movement. Duty to God over nation.  

Out of an intellectual movement based on effecting local change, the Jihadists--and others like our Christian Fundamentalists--frame perceived injustice with a great degree of sophistication. First identifying situations of injustice, assigning blame for those "responsible", and then connecting that injustice to a larger framework. Likewise, we see the deployment of aligning that framework to create "In" groups and "Out" groups to help identify their enemy, and then work to make bystanders sympathetic or antagonistic to these groups, compelling them to take sides, and thus open the doors not just for collective identity, but for collective action.  

Convenient is that the rhetoric is similar and compatible for discussion across the globe, when you compare Jihadists, Christian Fundamentalists, and Zionists. America, we are not so oddly drawn into this, not just in our foreign policy, but by our own roots as a form of America as seen as a brand of Christian Zionism. Our own history is replete with imagery of an Exodus to the New World. From Reverend Edwards' "New Caanan" to Melville's "Israel of our time." And today, carried further by the likes of RJ Rushdoony's own visions of a Messianic America. We are, as Reza Aslan puts it, in the midst of "Patriotism as religious devotion. Flag as totem." And we have those who see the Constitution, not as the basis of our law and nation, but as Covenant with God and his new Chosen People.  

Modern Evangelicsm, and its kissing cousin and paternal Fundamentalism came from a place where faith was under fire. From Darwin. Feminism. Scientific revolution. Literary criticism of the Bible itself, and the rise of a Christian liberalism that sought to reconcile tradition with social and scientific process, and the rise as well of modernization and growing secularism. The virulent Fundamentalism that grew from a backlash of these "threats" to God's America was toned down by folks like Billy Graham, whose brand of Evangelicism was far more inclusive and much less fiery, but still defined by a population that saw itself as under siege. And a trait that it shares with many Jihadists.  

Evangelicals and Jihadists can trace their journey, and often prejudices, and feed one another. Many Evangelicals don't recognize Mormons or Catholics as Christians. Jihadists make declarations of takfir to declare other Muslims who disagree with them as infidels. Their own actions feed one another--with the infiltration during the last Administration of Evangelicals into the Air Force Academy, and US troops proselytizing in the course of their duties to a population under US guns, both the Jihadist and Evangelical agendas are advanced, and the feedback between the two--America and God under fire, as well as yet another Western Crusade against Islam.  

Added into the mix, you have the Zionists who began their quest for a state late in the 19th Century. Sadly, there were people already living in that land, but that didn't stop a campaign to de-emphasize the ties to the land by many, and aggressive campaigns in both intellectual circles, and politically, to foment the idea of a paired religious nationalist movement to "recapture" the Holy Land. A vision that was both glorious as it was inventive, and based entirely on the idea of expropriating the natives from their property and land--and de-emphasizing the ties of nationhood of the Palestinian people. While Aslan attributes much credit to Theodor Herzl for the intellectual groundwork for the state, David Ben-Gurion cut to the chase in a letter to his son in 1937: "The Arabs will have to go."  

Jewish nationalists began to frame their narrative. Palestinians weren't a distinct nationality nor people. Not a national identity, but part of a larger "Arab nation" and thus had no claim to the land.  

The problem is, that this rhetoric has been a two edged sword. Not only have the Palestinians congealed now into a cohesive people, but it likewise has framed the conflict beyond just the confines of borders. And it likewise prompted an evolution of thought on the very nature of such conflicts, and paved the way for the transnationalist movements that now plague not just Israel, Afghanistan, Dubai, Chechnya and others, but also spurred nationalist movements of their own. Israel in many ways created a Palestinian identity in the face of denial of its very existence.  

Further, it has become an emblem and totem for a new breed of Islamist, in the face of an enemy that cannot be easily defeated. Conflict now with not just Israel, but the US who backs her, and the fears of what globalization will mean to religion and states as the West's influence grows.  

The radicalization has not just claimed lives in America or Europe, or Israel, but has killed far more Muslims as well. One tactic that the Jihadists have perfected not just a refutation of the admonitions against suicide in the Koran, as well as exhortations to not kill women, children, the elderly, or other Muslims. The practice of takfir--declaration of Muslims as infidels--has become a the best way to justify taking lives of their neighbors. They weren't really Muslims, so killing them is just.  

Never mind that over 170 Imams and religious scholars declared a Fatwa denouncing the practice, and denying its validity. No Muslim can declare another apostate has been the finding, and oddly enough, Jihadist instantly declared all 170 of these clerics and religious scholars immediately infidels and in the pocket of the West...  

Consider, that Bin Laden had no formal training as an Imam, or law or theology for that matter. The global Jihad is not just anti-intellectual but anti-institutional, and unable to compete intellectually, it finds it far easier to undercut and deny the authority of those who stand against them. In much the same fashion that many Christian Fundamentalists and Evanglicals deny the authority of a government, or fetishsize those in government who agree with their Messianic message.  

And meanwhile, religious Zionists seek to use the strife that they, in part, helped to cause, to further call for more stripping of those from their lands--and use the very acts of defiance against their own actions as justification and the whole mess continues round and round, and round, and round, and round again. It isn't too far from the rise of nationalist movements in Britain as a reaction to a growing Muslim population in Europe and Great Britain. Cracking down on the Muslims only begets more strife, which feeds both the Jihadists from the rich ground of European born and bred Muslims, and their actions only feed these nationalists who wear their xenophobia as proud badges. The system gains energy from both sides egging one another on.  

And that is really the question that Aslan raises: who do you fight a Cosmic War? How can you combat the rise of these groups who tangle not just with the secular governments that they are rejecting, but one another and see both as their enemy, and count on push back to feed their cycle and narrative?  

The best way, is to not feed the cycle. Not to play the game...

Crossposted to The Motley Moose