What do Baltimore, Muskogee, Josh Duggar, the Family Research Council, Ferguson, and Waco have in common? Is it the lack of oxygen in the vacuum of moral superiority? Is it the total detachment from reality that can only be borne from ignorance combined with an extraordinary talent for ignoring the world? Is it the world as described by the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, “I know a lot of people without brains who do an awful lot of talking?” Or is it, as you suspect, all of the above?
After the unrest in Baltimore, blame was being apportioned in heaping helpings by the increasingly righteous Right. For example, John Nolte, of Breitbart.com wrote, “Baltimore is what happens when you replace the two-parent family with a welfare check and union-run public schools.” Or Laura Ingraham, the talk-show host, “No fathers, no male role models, no discipline, no jobs, no values equals no sense of right and wrong.” Or Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review, “Baltimore is a Great Society city that bought fully into the big-government vision of the 1960s, and the bitter fruit has been corruption, violence, and despair. This is a failure exclusively of Democrats.”
Or from The Wall Street Journal, never shy about trafficking in baseless blame on its editorial page:
Let’s not forget who has run Baltimore and Maryland for nearly all of the last 40 years. The men and women in charge have been Democrats, and their governing ideas are ‘progressive.’ This model, with its reliance on government and public unions, has dominated urban America as once-vibrant cities such as Baltimore became shells of their former selves.
But what about rock-ribbed communities governed by the pure hearts, virtuous minds, and never idle hands of conservatives? That is the question asked by Thomas Edsall in a wonderful essay well-worth the read. Mr. Edsall compared Baltimore and Muskogee, where the Okies “don’t smoke Marijuana, don’t take trips on LSD, and don’t burn their draft cards.” It seems as though, times they are a’changin’.
As Edsall points out:
Today Muskogee, Okla., a city of 38,863, has nine drug treatment centers and a court specifically devoted to drug offenders. A search for “methamphetamine arrest” on the website of the Muskogee Phoenix, the local newspaper, produces 316 hits.
Comparing both cities, the violent crime rate has fallen over the past decade, just as it has nationwide, although the 22.3 percent drop in Baltimore is four times as large as the 5.6 percent decline in Muskogee.
On an even larger comparative scale, the highest rates of white teenage pregnancy in the 30 states with available data are all in the reddest of red states. While the national white teenage pregnancy rate in 2010 was 38 per 1,000, white rates were at least 10 points higher in nine states: Oklahoma (59), West Virginia (64), Arkansas (63), South Carolina (51), Alabama (49), Mississippi (55), Tennessee (51), Kentucky (59) and Louisiana (51).
These mysterious things are called facts and you never hear them when blame is being preached or sin is being apportioned. Such factual heresy brings me to Josh Duggar and the Family Research Council. Duggar was the Executive Director at the FRC before that “awful, dreadful episode of teenage exuberance” came to light before a judge got around to ordering the police records destroyed. Neither Duggar nor the Family Research Council has ever shown a whit of reticence when it comes to apportioning the ills of the world upon anyone not sharing their world view.
In this case Mr. Duggar, as a juvenile of 15 or 16, he sexually abused a series of girls and was never charged. In fact, his egotistically fertile father and mother kept the crime a secret as self-described “good God-fearing parents” because who would ever want to air the family’s dirty laundry. To the best of my knowledge, suborning criminal prosecution is not a biblical commandment — it is a crime, but under the Duggar crime-o-meter, only a crime for those whose morality falls outside the contortion of the fun house mirror of self-delusion.
And then we have Ferguson and Waco – one a community where an unarmed, young black man is gunned down in the street and the other where nine were killed and eighteen wounded in the parking lot of a “breastaurant”. In Waco there were at least 153 OMG (Organized Motorcycle Gang) members taken into custody in what looked to be a relaxed atmosphere of extreme tolerance and good humor on the part of the local police. In Ferguson, demonstrators were met with armored personnel carriers and swat teams in full Fallujah-wear.
What struck me as noteworthy is how easily the word “thug” tripped off the tongue of those describing Ferguson. Inexplicably, thug was never once used to describe the Bandido or the Cossack gang members even though the FBI describes the groups as “criminal enterprises involved in running drugs and guns”. Obviously, a thug is not a thug when any other name is available for white, gun-running, motorcycle-riding drug dealers.
My reason for exhaustively detailing these examples of hypocrisy is that too often we “libruls” accept all the smears being thrown our way. Whether it be from a desensitivity to being blamed for the world’s ills or plain old liberal guilt, for the last thirty-five years we have rarely taken the time to question those who fling such accusations. It is time that changed.
In the long run it’s a fool who persists in trying to adapt the world to his philosophical whim and circumstance. The future belongs to those leaders who reasonably adapt themselves to a world with an ever-changing course – that is an inheritance we need to pay forward.
Here’s hoping your Wednesday is a good one and please take the conversation in any direction you may desire.
It’s Memorial Day, Widdershins, and my thoughts are turning to those who have fought, suffered, and died for our country’s many military endeavors. The last “good” one, by most lights, was World War Two. Since then we have intervened in many a country’s affairs, including Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and others we don’t even “officially” acknowledge. None of these interventions have gone well for us, and I expect that the current efforts against ISIS will be similarly ineffective. Let’s face it – non-state actors, nuclear and chemical weapons have made traditional war obsolete. But our society, globally speaking, is too addicted to war and violence to think of any other way to run things. And I think there’s only one way to change the way things are, and have been for thousands of years.
It’s the only thing we haven’t tried…putting more women in charge. And who better to start this trend, than Hillary Clinton?
But but but, Hillary voted for the WAR! I hear the “progressives” moan. Oh yes, she voted for the AUMF…but if she were President, does anyone think she would have invaded Iraq after 9/11? Would she really have believed an intelligence agent nicknamed “Curve Ball” and a pathetic story about yellowcake uranium? Are people so blinded by that vote that they think she is as bloodthirsty as Bush? Or even, as bloodthirsty as Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has made death by drones infamous?
The wars men wage are, basically, over resources and religious fanaticism; sometimes both. I would argue that one causes the other, or at least influences it. The vicious cycle of neo-conservative, Project for the New American Century “American Exceptionalism” will continue until we change our modus operandi. And to change the way we work, we need to change the way we think. It has been proven that women think differently and lead differently, and I think we need that difference in order to break that cycle.
The opposite behaviors that stem from the different wiring of men and women can be seen in the way they lead. One style of leadership is not better than, or more correct than the other – they are just different. Although their styles differ, they are complementary and valuable at work. The table below shows the leadership styles generally attributed to men and women.
I truly believe the world is out of balance. We need women to join male leaders in equal partnership, to become a powerful force for peace. What else is all this really about? The stunning impact of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In;” the ever-increasing pressure on corporations and governments to have at least 30% female representation on boards and in governing bodies; the UN’s “He for She” movement…it’s about global, transformational change. And believe me when I say, as a woman who has read hundreds of articles on this topic, the need for women leaders is a wave saturating the collective consciousness of powerful nations and corporations everywhere.
The Bible says, “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares…neither shall they learn war any more.” I hope we live to see it happen, with the help of our sisters and brothers everywhere…starting with Hillary Clinton as President in 2016.
This is an open thread.
Happy Friday, Widdershins. And has this not been a fascinating week? The news has been grim – biker gang shootouts in Waco (what is it about Waco that gives so many iterations of Waco Wackos to the world?), worsening news in the Middle East (while democracy is messy, this is way past messy), while Jeb Bush looks like he has never even run for President of the Stamp Club. Fascinating though it might be, I’m ready to leave it all behind and spend the weekend listening to music.
Last week we made many helpful suggestions for campaign music to the Republicans, and today we should give equal time to the Democrats. To be completely fair, the Democratic nomination is not a done deal. Feel free to post suggestions for Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, as well as your thoughts for Hillary Clinton in this open thread.
(1) To Martin O’Malley, former Mayor of Baltimore/Governor of Maryland: This Is My Town, by Montgomery Gentry
(2) To Bernie Sanders, Senator : Share the Land, by The Guess Who
And now, for Hillary Clinton:
(3) Roar, by Katy Perry (suggested by the artist herself)
(4) What Doesn’t Kill You, by Kelly Clarkson
(5) I Am Woman, by Helen Reddy
Sunday evening was the final installment of Mad Men. I admit to being an aficionado of the show and the era, but mostly of the women portrayed. Peggy and Joan were the only characters who passed the beer test for me – people with whom I would have liked to spend time. Their success was never doubtful, both professionally and more importantly, personally.
Those are two things you can’t say about any of the male characters. Peter Campbell would have looked good strapped to a Firestone test tire on a very fast car. Roger Sterling, as glib and entertaining as the character was, put the “d” in debauchery and was morally agnostic except when it came to his personal pleasure. Bert Cooper’s grandfatherly facade hid a heart only stirred by the aroma of cold, hard cash.
And then there was Don Draper – an amoral drunk whose behavior described the term “man whore” before there was such a term. Don’s efforts at being authentic were defined around his success at being a fraud. Whether as a father, husband, soldier, or just an average human, Don’s endeavors at being genuine were merely artifices of fraud.
There’s a learning there and I’m reminded of what John Lennon said, “I don’t want to be a loud-mouthed, poet musician, but I can’t be what I’m not.” This has always been a hard lesson for me particularly when it is a teaching tenet in leadership development. Translated, the rule means: Be authentic even if authenticity is grossly unappealing. Being inauthentic fools no one and is just one colossus waste of energy. You can’t be what you’re not, even if what you are is a fraud.
That lesson came to mind with the difficulty the Republican candidates are having with what ought to be the simple question of, “If you knew then what we know now, would you have authorized the Iraq invasion?” A question first posed by Fox – not exactly a forum for Republican “gotcha questions”.
Invading Iraq has been soundly rejected by conservative opinion leaders like George Will as the single worst foreign policy decision in the history of the nation, but there are others who believe, like Bill Kristol, the Iraq invasion was the right thing to do. Both Will and Kristol can’t be what they’re not – one grasping at logical congruence, the other unable to admit one of many, many errors about – well, just about everything.
Jeb Bush, at first in answering the question, couldn’t be disloyal to his brother, Marco Rubio couldn’t be disloyal to his potential billionaire funder, and Rand Paul, the only candidate on the other side of the Iraq War issue, would never disregard his father’s philosophy – unless it was first politically expedient to do so. They can’t be what they’re not – Jeb, a loyal brother stained with the taint of family, Marco, a pandering, political man-child looking for a sugar daddy, and Rand, the inheritor of basement-dwelling anarchists pining for the chaos libertarianism would loose on society.
Then there’s John McCain who never saw a war that didn’t titillate or Lady Lindsey who parrots him with great pleasure and almost a genetic consistency, “me too John” – they can’t be what they’re not.
For these people and others like them, authenticity means ignoring the lessons of thirteen-years, trillions of dollars, and the utter waste of hundreds of thousands of lives from the Iraq folly of conservative adventurism masquerading as foreign policy. Being genuine for those romanticizing American colonialism is an exercise in disguising the motives of their foreign policy advisers, many of whom were the architects masterminding the Iraq War – resurrected like cicadas awakening to again plague us with their very existence.
As much as we would like to believe the Iraq War and the new threat of ISIS is purely and exclusively attributable to Republicans, no one in the world-at-large draws such a fine distinction. The scourge of the Iraq War is an American badge of dishonor and failure — equally shared and worn by all of us for what was done in our name.
Of this I’m sure: There is only one thing worse than being lied into a war and that is ignoring the truth when someone says they didn’t learn anything from it and they would do it all over again — only this time in Iran. They just can’t be what they’re not.
Have a great Wednesday and take this conversation in any direction you might like.
Good Monday, all! The Republicans likely to run for President were in rare form this weekend. The American election cycle is clearly too long for them; it allows their limited brainpower and unlimited egos multiple opportunities to open mouths, insert feet.
Witness what happens when unpopular union-busting Governor Scott Walker attempts to make an argument for why Americans should elect him President of the United States.
After noting that Walker had recently visited Israel, a trip partially paid for by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Schieffer wondered what made the Wisconsin governor qualified to lead the county’s foreign policy.
“As a governor, I’ve been, just recently in Germany, in Spain and France,” Walker explained. “Earlier in the year, it was the United Kingdom on trade related missions. A few years back in China and Japan. So, that’s probably the most of any governor of either party has is that experience in terms of trade relations.”
Well, uh….I do appreciate the weasel words about “governors” of either Party, but…does Scott Walker really think that people are going to forget Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, and be impressed by his measly six trips on “trade-related missions,” whatever those were? (Another notable set of weasel-words, Scottie boy).
Happy Friday, Widdershin! The end of the week is upon us, and that means that it’s time to escape reality and bury ourselves in nicer things. I propose that we spend the weekend trying to assist the Republican candidates – and there’s a busload from which to choose – with a suitable theme song. After all, look how far Jay-Z and “99 Problems” took Obama in ’08.
You can find an exhaustive list of candidates here. No, I have never, ever heard of some of these people, either. Feel free to chose any/all of them to gift with a proper background song, and please feel free to select any of my choices to better with one of your own.
It took all of 15 minutes for me to find suitable tunes, and y’all are younger, smarter, faster, and undoubtedly much better with computers than I. So post your favorites here, along with anything else that you might like to discuss in this otherwise wide open thread.
* A quick memo to the aforementioned candidates: Please remember to ask the artist if you can use his song before adopting any of the wonderfully helpful suggestions that you may find here.
(1) To Jeb Bush: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother by the Hollies
(2) To Marco Rubio: New Kid In Town by the Eagles
(3) To Rand Paul: My Father’s Son by Joe Cocker
(4) To Ted Cruz: Hello, Calgary (unknown vocalist)
(5) To Chris Christie: Friends In Low Places
(6) To Carly Fiorina: Sheep, by Pink Floyd
While I’m relatively certain with a 99.9999999% assurance factor the writers for The Daily Show have not yet discovered our little Widdershin world, their writing and video selection could not have been more apropos as a follow-up to Tuesday.
This video lays bare the philosophical quagmire associated with the “zero-sum” thinking. Jon Stewart calls it out with the simple words of believing being poor is not a condition, but character. In other words, being poor is attributable to a lack of character and if just the poor had more “character” they would no longer be poor.
Contrary to all the inflammatory rhetoric nine-tenths, that is 9/10, or 90%, or 9 out of 10 people receiving benefits are elderly, disabled, or working households. This whole crap-fest began after the Georgetown University poverty summit when the President, in a twenty-second throwaway comment about Fox, made mention of the demonizing of the poor. It’s not like the conservative viewpoint wasn’t represented since right there on the stage was a conservodroid from one of the “shrink tanks” in DC.
This demonization of the poor isn’t new, but it has been particularly potent of late:
There’s a deep tradition in America of agitating those who aren’t well-off against people who have it even worse (picture poor whites in the pre-Civil Rights South directing their ire at blacks who had even less).
Whatever the cause of this resurgence of poor hatred, be it the Tea Party or political wedge-driving, Jon Stewart perfectly captured it last evening. The video might not embed, but follow the trail, it is well worth the effort:
What are we going to do without Jon Stewart? Who will subject themselves to Fox in order to demonstrate their rank hypocrisy?
Take the conversation in any direction you might like.