Starry Eyed…

Refuse to be EnemiesI know many think of me as one of those starry eyed liberals who doesn’t have any sense of reality. With this post I will probably cement that vision with many of my more conservative friends. But what would happen if we just refused to be enemies with those our leaders dictated us to hate.  What would happen?

Let’s look at maybe the worst leader in that regard in the twentieth century. What would have happened it the German people had refused to invade their neighbor in 1938? Would Hitler’s power have been erased?

What would have happened if people had refused to hate everyone except other white folks? Would the KKK have had the power they did?

It is a well known fact that all of the people we in the U.S. have been told to hate now are our friends in one degree or another.  What if we had refused to be enemies in the first place.   All of the lives lost being enemies with German, Japan, Italy, Viet Nam, and even USSR would have been saved. How many Einsteins or Edisons, our Curries were lost in those wars.

Many say that almost all the wars we have fought in the world’s history has been religious based in one degree or another.  But as I read about religions one of the most common foundations is to love one another.  What if we were spiritual first and political/social second? What if we all lived by the religious beliefs we say we cling to?  If we actually listened to God we would have many more plowed fields than buried soldiers.

I have to admit that this post is pretty starry eyed. It seems impossible for any of us to truly live by the spiritual principles we go to war over.  And that is a very sad thing….

The War To End All Wars….

Peace III“[War] won’t stop till there is as much brains and scientific study put to aid peace as there is to promote war.” – Will Rogers, 1 June 1929

Of course these words were spoken not long after World War I which was inaptly titled the “war to end all wars”. Of course it didn’t accomplish that noble task. President Wilson tried his best to put together the United Nations to insure no more world wars but like these times there was just too much Republican bravado going on to prevent that from happening.

I wonder what the world would be like today if he had managed to assemble a world organization with some teeth to collectively deal with rogue nations such as North Korea or Iran. If that had happened maybe we would have some money to spend on how to aid peace. Sadly we will never know as that was like so many other things a missed opportunity.

About The Debt…

We are three billion in the hole and will be three billion more next year, and not a Congressman has got the nerve to ask voters to pay part of it.  —  January 29, 1933    Will Rogers

Obviously this quote was said long before even Grover Norquist’s parents were born but it is equally true today as it was in Will’s time. The fact of the matter is up until President Bush, taxes have always gone up to help pay for our wars. But when so many  from the GOP crawled up to the altar of Mr. Norquist with their pledges to NEVER raise taxes this tradition was very unwisely flushed down the toilet. When will we ever learn to never say never? Sometimes it seems that those guys in congress love their party more than the love their country. I don’t know; I’m just a simple guy but it seems that way to me.

Here is some now insightful words from 2007:

Source: Bush Breaks 150-Year History of Higher U.S. Taxes in Wartime – Bloomberg.

Republican Senator John McCain said that while he’s “not averse to asking for more sacrifice,” he rejects a tax increase, even one on wealthy Americans, to help pay for the war. “I’m not sure what the point would be,” said McCain, who supports Bush’s troop buildup and may run for president in 2008. “I would ask them to make other sacrifices, but I’m not sure I would want to raise their taxes just because we’re in a war.”

Unlike apparently Mr. McCain I am a history buff and I firmly believe in learning from the past in order to keep from making the same mistakes over and over again.  The sharpest rise in the national debt in the last sixty years came as a result of taking President Bush’s wars “off the books”. It is the primary reason we are where we are today.

As Will says their  doesn’t seem to be a congressman, especially those of the GOP variety, who have the nerve to ask  at least some of the voters, especially those who have profited greatly during these times, to help pay for these wars.

It seems pretty simple to me that if wars are necessary then asking citizens to pay for at least part of them is the right thing to do. But maybe the problem with this one, and in fact most of them in my lifetime, is that none of them were really necessary.

When we get into hard times in this country we have always asked those who are much better off than the rest of us to chip in a little of their wealth to help out and in the past they have for the most part gladly done so.  There is a bible verse that goes something like this, “For those who have gained much, much is expected”.  When will we start living by that code again?

Amber Lights…

 

But every one of us write our own history. If it sounds better the way we want it than the way it might have been why that don’t stop us any more than an amber light. – September17, 1933  Will Rogers

Will’s quote here is still pretty much true today except to maybe change the word amber to red. The number one cause of accidents now are people running red lights.

Being a senior citizen I have lived in historical times. I personally saw the Civil Rights marches not in person but on TV.  I was a naive teen during much of that time so I couldn’t understand why people were treated so badly just because of the color of their skin. I heard the inspiring words of Martin Luther King but somehow didn’t really take them to heart until sometime later.
I have lived during more wars than I really care to remember.  The Vietnam war was the war of my generation. My hearing impairment was severe enough even then to keep my out of it but I did lose several good friends that were forced to go. We seem to always be in a war with someone who just a few years before were our friends and a few years after the war they usually are friends again. Why do we spend some much of our money and our young people on wars?

I also lived in the time where our congress was functional and the people there came together for the common good on many issues.  I can remember when Republicans and Democrats came together for the common good of the country. I can remember when even the rich among us were willing to do their inordinate share for those less fortunate. I can remember, prior to Grover Norquist, when taxes were something that was necessary to maintain our government and the country’s safety net.

There are various way to look at these and many other related events. It just depends on what your life experiences and yes what your prejudges are. Many whites in the south saw the Civil Rights times very differently than I did. Many enthusiastically waved the flag during each or our many wars. Many now see government as an evil that needs to be abolished.

So, as Will said each one of us writes our own history.

I am War Weary…….

I saw a statistic  somewhere that said that 68% of U.S. citizens are war weary.  I am certainly one of them.  Neither party seems to shy away from sending our kids and/or our dollars to fight in this or that conflict. After twelve years of constant war costing us thousands of our kids and $trillions I am war weary. Do we really need to be the policemen of the world even if it bankrupts us? Our war machine has cost us enough! Read more

RJ’s Doctrine….

Tonight is, thank heavens, the last debate for this presidential season. It will be on foreign policy. I can tell you in advance what will happen. Each side will tear into the other saying their opponents foreign policy will assure the total destruction of the United States. There will be little of anything but put-down and counter-put-downs.

If I were running for president I would give you very clearly what I would proudly call RJ’s Doctrine: Read more

How About Some Changes….

I guess I am still fixated on the post from yesterday about how so many very sparsely populated States in the U.S. now have so much power. It seems that our country is quite out of balance right now as a result of past decisions.  Maybe it is time to revisit some of that stuff.  Being that I am the fool who rushes in where angels fear to tread I will take a stab at this. If you want to call this the Walters’ Doctrine go ahead. I will take the blame for all of it. Here is my list of things that need to change:

  • Corporations are not people — I know the Supreme Court recently decided otherwise but it just doesn’t make any more sense than deciding that trees are now people.
  • My Vote should count for who becomes President — Since I am a progressive living in a solidly red state my vote seldom counts when it comes to electing our president.  The President should be elected by the people not by geographical areas.  I know the electoral college was necessary in the horse and buggy days but in the age of the Internet it is totally senseless.
  • Everyone should be allowed to vote — My mother, God rest her soul, was not able to vote in 2008. The reason for that is that she no longer had a driver’s license and the State of Indiana as a result pulled her name from the polling list. Since most of the people who don’t have driver’s licenses are elderly or low on the economic scale it excludes them to the advantage of the Republican candidates. Yes, my mother could have stood in an hour-long line to get her “license” and poor people who can’t afford a car could take a day off without pay to do the same but there needs to be a better way to do this.
  • We should not be able to get into another war until we have paid for the last one  —  I have to admit that I am “borrowing” this one from my hero Will Rogers. If Mr. Bush had paid for his two wars we would not be in nearly as much trouble as we are now. Since most issues that get attention now days are “pocketbook” issues let’s make war one of them.
  • Eliminate the Filibuster — allowing less than half the people to stop basically all legislation is just not right.  If, like in the past, it were used on a very rare basis that would be one thing. But to allow it to be used more in three years than in the last one hundred means that it is being severely abused.  That needs to end.
  • Stop all the foolishness about “death taxes” — One of the bedrocks of our country has been to prevent a U.S. aristocracy. We did that by imposing a significant inheritance tax on those who are absurdly wealthy.  Up until recently the inheritance tax has been a major source of income for the country. As a matter of fact before income taxes it , along with import/export taxes, was the main source of income.  People like Mr. Romney don’t need to give each of his five kids a $50 million tax free head start. $25 million should ruin them just as easily. If nothing else restrict the inheritance taxes collected to pay off the deficit. We would probably be amazed at how quickly our debt would disappear.

I’m way over my self-imposed five hundred word limit for posts so I will just stop here. Besides with all this brainy stuff spewing off the top of my head I need to stop and let it cool off……

Do Members of Congress and candidates know what you think???

Source: Recent email from FCNL (Friends Conference on National Legislation – Quaker)

Do your members of Congress and candidates know what you think about Pentagon spending cuts? What they hear from you now could influence their decisions this December and into next year. Urge them to support Pentagon cuts of $1 trillion over the next 10 years, as recommended by experts from across the political spectrum.1 39 cents out of every one of your federal income tax dollars is going to feed the Pentagon and its contractors, and the Pentagon budget has nearly doubled in the past decade. This is a bad investment for our country, no matter what angle you look at it from.

I always welcome information from my Quaker friends. They are about the only ones who have shown a centuries old commitment to peace.  As shown above we spend 39 cents of every dollar of the taxes we send to Washington on our war machine. No other country in the world spends more than 5 cents and most spend less than 2 cents!  If you wonder how we got so far into debt just look at the off-books wars we spent the first decade fighting.

Let’s stop being the super-cop of the world and let others take back some of their responsibilities in that area.  It makes no sense for us to have thousands of our young men stationed in almost every country in the world. It not only put their lives at risk it costs us a fortune that no other country is burdened with. Do we eventually go down in flaming ashes or do we sensibly get out of this suicidal spiral of spending?

Historic battleship USS Iowa to become museum in Los Angeles

Source: U.S. News – Historic battleship USS Iowa to become museum in Los Angeles.

“There’s no more ships like this in existence in the active navies anywhere in the world,” said Robert Kent, president of the Pacific Battleship Center.

Thank the Lord there are no more ships like this in existence.  When you take a massive explosive shell and launch it from up to twenty miles away there was little chance that it will hit exactly where you intended. It could just as easily hit a small town of 800 as it would a military complex.

Anyone who has read much of this blog knows that I am a peacenic. I utterly disdain all the wars we have managed to get ourselves into here in the U.S. They say that the 20th century, which I lived in more than half of was the bloodiest one of our existence.  We seemed to be constantly in a war with someone for a number of different reason and as the years went by we honed our killing ability more and more.

We are to the point now that our soldiers don’t even have to leave their community and can still kill the “bad guys” remotely and be home for dinner.  But at least we don’t have anymore Battleship Iowas that cause so much collateral damage. Now we have million dollar smart bombs released from remote-controlled aircraft to do our dirty work.

I can only dream that there is someway to make the 21st century less deadly than the previous one. Blessed are the peacemakers. Maybe some day we will actually take that lesson to heart.  Goodbye Battleship Iowa. I am so glad to at least see you go…..

Military Expenditures by Country…

Here is a rather straight forward graph showing military spending by country. Are you like me and see a very basic problem here? If we look at is per citizen it is even more skewed.

No wonder our budgets are in so much trouble. No wonder the world always comes to us to solve their problems. We are taking on massive debt to be the policemen of the world. When will it end????

War and Peace….

‎[War] won’t stop till there is as much brains and scientific study put to aid peace as there is to promote war. – May 31, 1928  Will Rogers

Here we are one world war and dozens of other wars later and still we can’t understand what Will was saying almost one hundred years ago.  Except for a brief period during the Clinton years we have been in constant wars throughout my sixty-some years on this earth. Our soldiers are getting way beyond weary as evidenced by the recent massacre in Afghanistan by a four tour American soldier. Our national debt is increasing beyond imaginations to pay to keep all our wars going. And now we seem to be adding insanity on top of insanity by wanted to go to war with yet another country in the Middle East!

Most of our reasons for these most recent wars stems from our needs for oil. Why can’t we move beyond the one hundred plus year old gasoline engine to something that doesn’t require our young people’s lives to maintain it.

This greatly saddens me.  I need to lighten up some so this dark world doesn’t drag me down. Enough said…

The Uncounted Deaths of War…..

Source:  NYT: Risks of Afghan war shift to contractors – World news – The New York Times – msnbc.com.

This is a war where traditional military jobs, from mess hall cooks to base guards and convoy drivers, have increasingly been shifted to the private sector. Many American generals and diplomats have private contractors for their personal bodyguards. And along with the risks have come the consequences: More civilian contractors working for American companies than American soldiers died in Afghanistan last year for the first time during the war.

American employers here are under no obligation to publicly report the deaths of their employees and frequently do not. While the military announces the names of all its war dead, private companies routinely notify only family members. Most of the contractors die unheralded and uncounted — and in some cases, leave their survivors uncompensated.

So from this article we find that the there are more than twice the U.S. citizens death in Afghanistan than are reported by the military. Some how or another the military finds it unnecessary to report the private citizens they hire who are killed in that war.  Of course there are also many many people killed as “collateral damage” meaning innocent citizens of Afghanistan who are killed while our soldiers go after the “bad guys”. This ten year war just keeps getting sadder and sadder. When will we have enough sense to get out of it?

Early Christians and War….

During my extensive three-year study of Christianity one of the things I learned was that during the early years of Christianity when a Roman soldier wanted to be a Christian the first thing he had to do was to find a new occupation. Early Christians believed that the collected words of Jesus, their founder, and being a warrior were not compatible. There are many places in the Bible where Jesus commented about soldiers. The most prevalent one was “Those who live by the sword die by the sword”. Jesus just did not condone violence in those around him. I know there are many Christian “hawks” out there who will pull up numerous places in the Old Testament where God supposedly condoned war and even vicious violence. But they will not find it in the new covenant that Jesus brought with him to this earth.

Studying beyond the early Christian era to those times after Constantine in the 4th century violence and war once again crept into the church. The Holy wars were the most glaring example of this fact. What happened between the time of the early Christians, that is the first two to three hundred years and the Holy wars?  When Constantine brought the political process into the church he brought false teachings with it.

Today many of the most fervent supporters of our military are found among the “Christian Evangelicals”. They not only accept war but they encourage it and even celebrate it. To me I align with the early Christian and therefore Jesus’ thoughts of war. Celebrating war and being a Christian is the same as oil and vinegar; they cannot be mixed. Jesus told us there are only two basic commandments from God in his new covenant and that is to love God and to love your fellow-man.  Giving life totally comes from God and when it ends must also come from God. When we kill our fellow-man for any reason we are actually killing a piece of God himself; love has nothing to do with that horrible condition.

Stopping wars….

I have a scheme for stopping war. It’s this – no nation is allowed to enter a war till they have paid for the last one. Will Rogers

This goes in line with a previous post about paying for wars. We seem to always be ready to point out other countries problems to them and part of our solution is to teach them how to do it right. Bullets seem to be our most frequent teaching aid. It is widely acknowledged that we have spent over $1 trillion on our latest wars.  The way Mr. Bush funded them was to put them on our credit card for our kids to figure out how to pay off. Mr. Obama at least saw the errors of Mr. Bush’s way and put them in the budget. But that got him in trouble for adding to our budget problems. There just doesn’t seem to be a good way to pay for our wars. And it my mind there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason for any of them in the first place.

Let’s call this the Rogers doctrine.  We need to get out of our current two wars and not be allowed to get into another one until we have paid the trillion dollars for these two.  That should keep us out of trouble for quite a few years especially since the Republicans can’t see clear to ask their fat cat donors to pony up a little more of the fortunes to pay for anything let alone for war.  Let’s start a ground swell for implementing the Rogers doctrine.

But what do I know…

One Minute for Peace…..

If Only we in the U.S. spent even a minuscule amount of  what we spend for our wars to promote peace…

I want to direct you to a website promoting peace instead of war.  OneMinuteForPeace.org from the American Friends Service Committee. As the site states in the previous year the United States has spent over $1 trillion of military spending. That comes out to almost $2,000,000 every minute! It is sad to say but we spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined and many many times more to fund our wars than we do to promote peace.

 

The graph above from their website shows the total U.S. discretionary spending. It is shameful that our war machine takes up so much of our spending.

The AFSC is part of the Quaker faith tradition and is world famous for their peace initiatives. In fact they have received a past Nobel Peace prize for their activity. They go throughout the world helping those who are destitute and/or ravaged by wars. They are trying to raise the amount of just one minute’s U.S. military budget for those initiatives. Please consider giving them some of your resources. It is too bad that small organizations like the AFSC must do the bulk of the peacemaking work when so much is spent of war and destruction.

I find it amazing that many in government say we are spending our grandchildren into poverty while at the same time putting the biggest budget item in the “no cuts” category. It saddens me more to know that so many people who call themselves Christian seem to celebrate that fact. If only we in the U.S. had even a small fraction of our passion for peace that we seem to have for war we could indeed call ourselves our brother’s keeper.

And the journey goes on….

War is not the answer for ANY question….

 

I recently read an article that proudly made the point that the U.S. military is the largest minority employer in the country. It went on to argue that if our military complex were proportioned like the rest of the world there would be many more people without jobs. The United States which makes up four percent of the world’s population maintains over 60% of the worlds military complex! Another way of saying this is that each U.S. taxpayer pays more taxes for military expenses than thirty people in just about any other country in the world. Is it any wonder that we have the highest deficits in the world?

I personally think it is kind of lame to spout the military complex as the savior of minority employment. It seems like we could use our young people for more productive things than to carry a gun in some far off country. How about promoting peace instead of war. Our first answer to any world problem is to send in our military. If we put as much effort in promoting peace what would the world look like today. It seems that we poke our noses in where they don’t belong and our simple presence in a region is much the reason for the continuing conflicts that result.

I was one of those young men who our government wanted to send to Vietnam to kill in the name of freedom. Fortunately I was not required to go but I did lose several good friends to that war. And of course there are even to this day thousands of men my age who are still living on a daily basis the horror story of their time there. As it turns out now more than thirty years later Vietnam is no better or worse than any other country in the region. If we look back to World War II most of our enemies of that time are now some of our closest allies. It greatly saddens me that humanity continues to send it’s young men, and now young women, to die in wars that have little or no long term consequences. I believe that we should take Jesus’ words to heart and yes, even love our enemies…

If we were to do a radical thing such as letting the rest of the world take care of their own business and proportioned our military complex to be similar to the rest of the world I believe there would be much more peace in the world. Not to mention a huge drain off our personal taxes. We don’t need to be the world’s policemen! Let’s turn most of that responsibility over to the countries that are in the region of the conflict. We still have thousands of our military personnel in Germany, Japan, Korea, and scores of other countries. Why??

The picture here is of a very good friend of mine who lost his life in Vietnam. He was drafted soon after college graduation and was killed almost immediately upon arrival in the country. He left behind a pregnant young bride and a future son who would never know his father. He was the first friend I lost to a war but he was not by any means the last. This also saddens me greatly

….And the journey goes on…

Nonviolence


I was eight years old when I gave my best friend a black eye over some dispute that I can’t even remember. Immediately after that incident I was totally devastated over the violence I had done. I promised myself that I would never strike or injure another person in that manner. I have lived up to that promise in the fifty odd years since then.
Along these same lines I have always felt that the various wars we have been involved in were totally against God’s will. The Quaker belief that God is in each of us and therefore if you kill another person you are killing God also. Through some pretty diligent study of Quaker practices I have found that I am very much aligned with many Quaker belief. Being a nonviolent person is not something that I suddenly decided to do; it is instead a vital part of my very being.