ATLANTA (Oct. 27) – Water problems abound in Georgia, leading to $1,000 fines and jail terms for people who’ve watered their lawns at night, as well as this toon from my dad.
A Guest Commentary
by Michael Ford
CROSSETT, Ark. (Sept. 20) – With incidents like the recent ones in Jena, La., the South deserves its reputation as being the most racist region of the United States. Any white person that hangs a noose anywhere should face prison time. The white students responsible for the nooses at the Jena high school didn’t even get expelled, but merely suspended for three days. I got suspended for five when I skipped a day of school in junior high.
If it was up to me, it would not only be illegal to hang nooses, but to fly the confederate flag. I hear Southerners ramble on about the importance of their heritage. It’s unfortunate that said heritage consists of close-minded, racist bigotry that any decent person should be ashamed of. Instead of admitting such and trying to improve upon the ignorance of their ancestors, many Southerners celebrate it, tricking themselves into thinking it’s something to be proud of.
Blind allegiance, patriotism, etc., is the root of all evil. We should be striving to improve upon the ways of those who came before us, not mimicking them in a celebratory fashion.
For those unfamiliar with the story I speak of, I submit to you these videos:
A Guest Commentary
by Michael Ford
CROSSETT, Ark. (Sept. 15) – A study published this week in Nature Neuroscience and reviewed in Slate Magazine verifies something most intellectuals already knew: Liberals are smarter than conservatives.
“In a rapid response test—you press a button if you’re given one signal, but not if you’re given a different signal—the authors found that conservatives were ‘more likely to make errors of commission,’ whereas ‘stronger liberalism was correlated with greater accuracy.’ They concluded that ‘a more conservative orientation is related to greater persistence in a habitual response pattern, despite signals that this response pattern should change.'”
Does anyone really find this surprising? A habitual response pattern merely indicates someone who is strongly resistant to change, or as they like to call themselves, traditionalists. It still bothers me that the word tradition has positive connotations for most people. For me, tradition has always meant “refusal to evolve.” Shouldn’t we all be constantly looking for new, improved ways to do things, rather than repeating ourselves, calling it tradition and tricking ourselves into believing it’s a good thing.
America still practices quite a few traditions that any decent, open-minded person should be ashamed of, such as only allowing opposite sex to marry, not giving women the right to choose, selling anyone a gun, mistreating immigrants and, of course, invading third-world countries to obtain a finite resource while ignoring genocides. Conservatives would suggest we do those things simply because, well, it’s tradition. However, at one time, slavery and not allowing women to vote was also American tradition.
That said, you would think everyone would conclude that change is good and tradition (or habitual responses) is bad, but, unfortunately, that’s not the case. Back to the study …
“‘Liberals are more likely than are conservatives to respond to cues signaling the need to change habitual responses.’ The study’s lead author, NYU professor David Amodio, told London’s Daily Telegraph that ‘liberals tended to be more sensitive and responsive to information that might conflict with their habitual way of thinking.'”
When I think of habitual responses, I think of the response I get when asking conservatives why they still support President Bush: “He’s a good Christian man that’s against abortion!” The irony in such a response is staggering considering the president is responsible for thousands upon thousands of deaths. If I was going to support Bush, I would at least come up with a more believable reason, such as his contributions to the English language.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.
– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, about the era of the French Revolution
It was the worst of times, the best of times, but now it’s over. Thank dog for the passing of August, 2007 – the hottest month on record in much of the United States and Alabamaland.
The dead leaves from the drought-ravaged trees in the area are already falling and the fall bird migration has officially begun.
But while August was a rough month to take in many ways, let’s not forget some of the best political news of the past seven years. President Bush’s amoral political aide Karl Rove and his incompetent but loyal Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have left the building – the White House that is – and slunk back to Texas in disgrace.
Senator Larry “I am not gay” Craig announced his resignation yesterday, helping to bring the Log Cabin Republican story out of the closet before the masses and the mass media.
Not since Monica Lewinsky’s stained blue dress have so many media organizations struggled with where to draw the line in talking about sex and politics in the same breathless sentence.
It just makes my heart sing when truth and justice are actually in evidence in the good old US of A.
But there’s more work to do to right the ship of state that has been careening toward the abyss of history since the Bush gang decided to invade Iraq in the wake of 9/11.
If things go as planned, North Alabama lawyer Jill Simpson of Siegelman affidavit fame will be heading up to Washington in mid-September to brief the House Judiciary Committee staff on what she still sees as an injustice directed from the White House in that political prosecution.
While the Alabama Democratic Party and even Siegelman’s own lawyers still don’t seem to get this story, it is one of the most important narratives going in the drive to set the ship of America back on an upright course.
There are no guarantees yet that the Democrats in Washington will be able to grasp this information and seize the day to turn this ship around. But at least it’s worth a try.
On September 15, we are told, there will be a large mass anti-war march in Washington on the same day Bush’s general in Iraq is supposed to report back on the progress of the troop surge. We will be there to cover it.
According to several early stories about that report leaked to national newspapers, the news will not all be good. But since those stories have been out there, the report seems to be changing, at the direction – surprise, surprise – of the Bush White House.
According to all the TV punditry on the Sunday morning talk shows today, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus may now have more so-called “good news” to report, although it will still set off a contentious debate in Washington over what to do about the debacle over there.
If the talking heads are to be believed on “Meet the Press” and the newer Chris Matthews show on NBC, Bush is so politically savvy that he will turn the political debate over the war around and the Republicans will stand by their man and not help the Democrats do anything to de-fund the war or force the beginning of troop withdrawals from Iraq.
I think they are totally wrong from a political point of view and certainly in terms of what is right for the country. Apparently, however, establishment Democrats are still such a part of the Washington taint that they do not have the guts to take the fight to Bush all the way to ending the war and impeaching Bush.
Sources tell us that the Republicans have the dirt on every Democrat in Washington, including Rep. John Conyers of Detroit, Michigan, who was seen in Africa with Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana – the guy who got caught with a bunch of tainted cash in his refrigerator.
Before the 2006 mid-term election, Conyers was holding hearings in the Capitol basement and pounding the minority gavel saying if the Democrats regained control of Congress, he would move to impeach Bush, one of the worst presidents in American history and whose administration has been riddled with one scandal after another from Katrina to torture to spying on Americans.
Since the Democrats took back Congress, however, there has been very little talk of that, except from Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who is running for president but does not have an angel’s chance in hell.
A few weeks ago, there was a lot of talk about impeaching Gonzales. But he did the Washington two-step and got out of town while Congress was on vacation in August, right after Rove announced his resignation and just before Larry Craig announced his. The result? A buried story.
And now it’s football season, so the masses are paying even less attention, especially in Alabamaland.
Nick Saban seems to be on the right track with the Alabama Crimson Tide’s 52-6 season opening victory over Western Carolina, but let’s face facts. The Hoover High School football team could have beaten Western Carolina. It was no true test.
Let’s just hope the worst of times are over and that the best of times are still ahead. I don’t have much faith. But you’ve got to hold out some hope in life.
At least we’re all not dead yet. And as I often like to say, “you can’t win if you don’t play.”
So let’s take the fight to them! What do you say?
A Guest Commentary
by Kevin Sims
NEW EDINBURG, Ark., July 21 – I’ve been holding off blogging on this subject, not for any personal feelings or research purposes, but because of my work schedule. I came to the conclusion that interns are the immigrant workers of the professional world.
If you are a sports fan, even just a very casual one, you have heard something about the subject of my blog. It’s been in the news for months, but it just picked up a lot of momentum. I’m talking about the Bad Newz Kennels, Michael Vick’s dog fighting business.
For heading up a dog-fighting ring, the federal government indicted Vick. This would be news worthy enough to blog about, but I want to talk about the grisly details that were published about it.
I’m no PETA supporter or any type of animal activist. The closest confidant I have while I’m struggling to become a writer is, and I respect the hell out of him. We don’t see eye to eye on most things, but I respect his opinion. That being said, you don’t have to even like animals to be completely disgusted about the situation.
Dog fighting is bad enough. You train a pit bull to fight other pit bulls, sometimes to the death; by abusing the hell out of it till it’s the meanest son of a bitch that ever walked the earth. Once a fighting dog, it can never be anything else. It’s trained to kill and it will.
Let’s just say dog fighting is legal and ethical for a moment. Let’s call it the animal equivalent of Ultimate Fighting. When a Bad News Kennel dog lost a fight, the people who run the kennel would kill it. Lets say hypothetically that is legal and ethical too.
But it is how they killed them that makes me sick to my stomach.
These sick fucks didn’t euthanize the dogs; they tortured them to death. A quick shot to the head I would even be cool with. No these low lifes strangled the dogs, hung them with a noose, drowned them or shot them to make sure they suffer. When they felt really creative they hosed them down with water, brought out a pair of jumper cables and electrocuted the dogs to death.
I may be a little off base, but I’m pretty sure torturing animals is like the first sign of being a psychopath.
You can argue all you want about how cows and chickens are mistreated when they are slaughtered for food. You can argue that hunting is unethical, and keeping wild animals in pens is wrong. At least they have purpose.
What’s the purpose of building a miniature gallows to watch a dog strangle to death? It serves no purpose and who ever does that deserves to be punished at the fullest extent of the law.
Now I’ve heard every argument someone can make on Vick’s innocence. I don’t care if he wasn’t the one fighting the dogs. I don’t care if he didn’t put the cement slippers on Fido. He owned the house that the animals were kept, where his friends who ran the business lived and the land that these heinous acts were committed. His property has a dog fighting stadium on it.
You cannot tell me he didn’t know what was going on. I don’t live in or own any of the houses my friends and family live in, but I would know what was going on if they had 50 pit bulls penned up. I would know if they got off for torturing cockroaches.
If a man knowingly owns a building that is a whorehouse, he is just as responsible for prostitution as the pimps and whores or the people that run the business.
The only way Michael Vick is innocent is if Bad News kennels is just a breeding business or these heinous acts weren’t committed on his property. Convicted or not, unless they prove what I just said, he is a piece of shit and the NFL should punish him.
I’ve heard this was a race issue. Being black doesn’t make dog fighting or torturing animals acceptable. I don’t care about his upbringing or race; he is still a worthless human being. Seriously, that argument is saying that by being black you a genetically programmed to torture animals. Do you really want that associated with your race?
I’ve heard it argued that it’s a regional thing and it’s acceptable in the South. No; it’s not. I’m as Southern as it gets and if someone asked me if I wanted to go with him to a dog fight I would kick him in the nuts and beat the crap out of him for exploiting man’s best friend.
I’m can’t claim to be an animal rights activist but I’m an avid dog lover. I didn’t know how much I loved dogs till I got Saban, an ugly yellow mutt whose only true talent is meeting me at my car everyday for the past year and a half every time I pull up from either school or work as happy to see me as anything could be. I don’t care how bad my day was, when I pull up and Saban meets me, I can’t help but feel better. It is so wonderful a feeling to know you have something in life that can never disappoint you and will literally pee on itself with excitement to see you.
I know killing and torturing dogs are not as bad as killing and torturing a human. I never claim that it is, but it’s close.
A dog didn’t get the nickname “Man’s Best Friend” just cause it sounded cute. Nothing that exist is as loyal, affectionate and personally absorbed as a dog. No human can be these things to another human as a dog is with its owner. I don’t care if you’re in the greatest relationship ever with the perfect mate, they are not happy to see you every time you open the door. I don’t care if you are the most loving parent in the world, your life will never be as completely centered around your child’s life as a dog is to its owner, if they are treated right.
You maybe a cat person or some other kind of animal person, your relationship with your animal fails in comparison with what a dog has with its owner. Not even close.
To get this kind of affection all you have to do is get a puppy, keep it fed and scratch its ear every now and then. It will worship you. That’s all it takes.
Torturing any kind of animal for the pleasure of torture is wrong. I actually commend PETA for protesting outside of the NFL office hoping to inflict some sort of punishment to Vick. I really hope it’s not just PETA. I hate that organization, but I’d picket with them if I could.
You know it is a horrible situation when an avid deer hunter sides with PETA. That’s just how horrible a person Vick is.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., June 10 – There is a famous story about editors at the New York Times I learned while working with the elite of the elite a few years back.
Reporters who make the big leagues of American journalism hear this story and learn to deal with it in their own way.
As the story goes, when an editor calls a reporter in the field in a place like Birmingham, Alabama, and asks: “Is the community torn asunder down there?” The reporter, if he wants to keep his job, is supposed to not only answer, “yes.” You are supposed to provide direct quotations from people in the community who will corroborate the premise of the story, to back up the lede, so to speak.
There have been many situations when my own instincts and the facts on the ground did not support the premise, and in fact, the opposite, counterintuitive truth is often the case.
And since I am in the business of calling it like I see it and telling it like it is, I often reported the truth on the ground and to hell with what a bunch of editors in New York think.
But today, in the story I am about to report, I think it is safe to say that this community is torn asunder. It’s just that in this case, the editors in New York could care less. Why? Because the story does not involve Paris Hilton or the Red State-Blue State, Conservative-Liberal, Democrat-Republican divide.
The story involves a little old man named Clay Blake, 78, who lives right down the street from here.
This past Tuesday afternoon around 1 p.m., in what we like to call “broad daylight,” Mr. Blake was unloading some groceries from his pickup truck. And up walked a mixed up young man – who should never have been in the possession of a hand gun – and held up Mr. Blake. He forced this little old man who never hurt anyone in his life into the house he has lived in for the past 40 years.
Once inside, this young man, of the African-American persuasion, tied little old Mr. Blake up with the power cord from a vacuum cleaner. He then kicked Mr. Blake in the face, rendering him unconscious.
When Mr. Blake came to, he discovered his wallet and a couple of pistols missing, and then made a phone call and had himself checked into the hospital at Medical Center East.
The neighborhood was all abuzz about this dastardly dead after the crime brief hit the Birmingham News on Saturday.
What this mixed up young man who committed this crime does not understand is that his already sad and pathetic life is about to take a drastic turn for the worse. Maybe the money he stole went to purchase some food and bought him another day of life on this planet. Or maybe it just went for some crack cocaine to make him fell better about himself for a few measly minutes.
Either way, this young man is about to be found out and turned in to authorities in ways he will never comprehend. And he will either end up in prison or dead.
Maybe he would be better off dead. Or maybe he should never have been born in the first place, if his mixed up single mama had been told by someone cool that there is a such thing as a condom – and that there is no shame in using one.
Now here is where the politics and sociology of the situation get interesting beyond the basic facts about the crime. If only she had been told that this is a black and tan world, not a black and white world, maybe none of this would ever have happened.
What do I mean by that?
It’s like this. There are some racist, conservative members of this community who would like to hang this little shit up by his toes and torture him to death for his crime. But these are the same Republican voters who oppose birth control – and taxes for prisons. It is just bad public policy to think you can have it both ways.
When the church and the state both advocate unworkable policies and try to tell teenagers to “abstain” from sex, and deny them a real education about sex and intelligent alternatives to unwanted pregnancies and the spiraling down nature of poverty, what kinds of bad decisions can we expect in our communities?
And this is particularly acute in a town like Birmingham, where both races still suffer from the sting and distrust of segregation.
At least in a place like New Orleans, the races lived in relative proximity of one another and in relative harmony for 300 hundred years. It is different in Birmingham, where the clash of the races in the newer, sprawling suburbs comes into specific relief every time an incident like this one is reported.
The African-American community in and around Birmingham will never trust white people, and the whites will keep trying to escape these kinds of crimes by moving further and further out into the country toward Blount and St. Clair Counties.
Meanwhile, nothing is done to try and bring people together and get them to understand the larger facts on the ground. And this serves only the politicians on the right and the left who get themselves elected by using the great divide to scare people and keep them down.
If only people could understand that there is no such thing as a simple, black and white world. There are an abundance of shades of gray out there.
What we need is a government that tackles practical solutions to real problems. One real problem that is leading to the current crime wave is the growing divide between the rich and the poor, fed by a mostly Republican effort to keep wages down so large corporations can make more and higher profits for mostly white stockholders.
This is an unsustainable world where all the problems in society are going to get worse, not better. And for every conservative who listens to talk radio and Fox News who likes to say, “that’s the American way,” here’s a fact for you.
The founding fathers of this democratic republic had in mind an egalitarian society with a large middle class with equal opportunities for all. They DID NOT envision a so-called “Christian” nation modeled after the Monarchies of Europe.
You can say it all day long every day. But that does not make it true.
And what is so Christian anyway about a society that discriminates on the basis of race and class? Nothing.
So show me a Democrat or a Republican politician who understands these things, and he or she will get my vote, black or white.
Now call me a liberal and dismiss what I have to say – you idiot so-called conservative lurkers.
We say there is a two-word phrase for anyone who plays that game. In the perfect, fictional world of Locustforkland, where the river runs cold and true, the great blue herons dance like Elvis and the people like to shoot the breeze (and they are usually right), we like to call you “Alabama dumbasses.”
And of course we are right.
As I woke up and smelled the coffee this morning and consulted the wires, the polls and Krystal Ball, it became obvious already what’s going to happen in the Presidential election of 2008.
So you may as well go ahead and place your bets now at PaddyPower.Com, or take us up on the Yuengling odds.
Krystall Ball has been a tad fuzzy on ’08 so far, since it’s WAY to early to be talking about a presidential election that is more than a year and a half in the future.
But now, with Tennessee actor Fred Thompson’s announcement that he is “testing the waters” and will jump into the race by July 4, it is fairly obvious how this whole thing is going to play out.
It’s Sen. Fred Thompson vs. Oscar winner Al Gore in ’08.
What’s Krystall Ball’s reasoning?
Up to now, the Christian Right really hasn’t had anyone in the race to vote for.
Rudy Giuliani of New York, with his pro-abortion and gay rights record, would never have cut it in the conservative Republican primary.
And Sen. John McCain’s numbers have been way down in part due to his push for more troops in Iraq and in spite of his foray to the Falwell mountaintop.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could never carry the day, because the polls show the Christian Right will never vote for a Mormon. Sad but true. That’s the problem with this religious voting issue in the U.S.
Watch for the Karl Rove political machine, with the Bushes out of the way, to start painting Thompson as the next Ronald Reagan. He is a well-known Southerner from his days of playing the president in movies and a lawyer on TV and he has amassed a solidly conservative voting record in the U.S. Senate.
Hillary might have been able to beat Giuliani or even John McCain. But she hasn’t a prayer against Thompson. Sorry Bill.
As for why Al Gore will run, Krystal Ball says she doesn’t believe Gore when he says he is not running. He may not be in the race yet.
But when it becomes obvious from the polls that Hillary or Obama or even Edwards won’t be able to out-celebrity Thompson, the liberal bloggers will draft Gore and the Democratic Party hierarchy will have to go along or face losing in ’08 – which could bring back talk of the party’s demise at the hands of Karl Rove.
Another interesting question is: Who will get the nod for Veep on the Democratic side?
Krystal Ball says it will most likely be Barack Obama, the popular black senator for Illinois, since chances are, Hillary would not be interested in being the first woman vice president without having Bill living in the White House as first hubby. Obama is young enough and new enough in American politics to take the Veep slot to position himself to run for president in the future.
But don’t place your Yuengling bet or Irish political bet on this one just yet. Krystall Ball needs to wait and see how everyone reacts to Thompson’s announcement around Independence Day.
The one other calculation is: Who will win in ’08? Krystall Ball says the Democrats will still pull it out in a squeaker. It won’t come down to hanging chads in Florida this time or a few thousand stolen votes in Ohio. It will all come down to Louisiana, which will go Democrat no matter what due to the Bush administration’s handling of Katrina.
Bet against us if you dare. But the Thompson v. Gore match-up is a one Yuengling bet right now. It should be up to a six pack by the Fourth of July, when Thompson formally makes his announcement.
And that’s the word from Locust Forkland, where the river runs cold and true, the great blue herons dance like Elvis and the people like to shoot the breeze (and they are usually right).
Connecting the Dots
by Glynn Wilson
TUSCALOOSA, Ala., May 27 – If it is too hot to paint here on the verge of what promises to be a classic global warming summer of heat waves, droughts and forest fires, imagine how it must feel in the deserts of Iraq trying to fight an unpopular, unwinnable war.
And think of how hot it must feel in Washington, D.C. for those trying to find a way out of the war and get Americans to pay attention to the news on global warming and stop driving gas guzzling SUVs everywhere they go.
A recent study showed that only when gas prices reach $4.48 a gallon will a change take place in the U.S. car culture.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans do not pay much attention to politicians or the media. And you almost can’t blame them, considering the double-sided bullshit that passes for knowledgeable information pumped out by PR men everyday.
Rather than paying attention to serious news, many Americans do seem to pay attention to TV shows like “Family Guy” on Fox, a show that makes fun of their nuclear family lives.
“Family Guy” is an Emmy award winning animated television series about a family in the suburbs of Quahog, Rhode Island, created by Seth MacFarlane in 1999.
It holds the distinction of being the first cancelled show to be resurrected based on DVD sales in 2005 after it was canceled in 2002.
Most episode titles of the show are parodies of movies, popular slogans and television shows, and for the first half of the first season, the writers tried to work the words “murder” or “death” into the title of every episode to make the titles resemble those of old-fashioned radio mystery shows. They quit when it became too hard to keep up with the limited range of titles.
TV critics panned the show, and for good reasons, Not the usual family-values based reasons of too much gratuitous violence, sex or profanity.
Entertainment Weekly seems to have an ongoing war with the show, leading to an episode in which the main character and dysfunctional dad Peter wiped his ass with a copy of the magazine when he ran out of toilet paper.
In another recent episode, a big, fat woman flirts with Peter at a party and says, I kid you not, “Do you like my ass? Would you eat cake off my ass?”
We know President George W. Bush doesn’t watch TV news, but if he had time to watch TV at all, I bet he would laugh at that joke and maybe think to himself or tell Condi, “Hey, that’s a great line. Think I’ll use it. Let them eat cake off my ass. Ha. Ha.”
The show has also been panned using premises and humor very similar to “The Simpsons,” where the writers have taken their own jabs at “Family Guy” on the same network. The show was mocked in a two-part episode of South Park. The cast called “Family Guy’s” jokes interchangeable and said their frequent “cutaway gags” had no place in the storyline.
The show is at its best when it makes fun of politicians, the media and even the Fox network.
In a recent show, a character resembling George Bush falls off the wagon, gets drunk and runs around naked on a putt putt golf course. In the season finale, the character Death tells Peter he has had a busy day: “Dick Cheney, the president of Haliburton, shot Justice Scalia in a hunting accident and the bullet went through him and killed Scooter Libby and Tucker Carlson.”
In the 400th episode of “The Simpsons,” little Lisa tried to get people to understand the contradiction between the conservative Fox News and the often irreverent Fox TV.
“They just don’t match,” she said.
Which is much like a lot of real family life in the U.S. It is sometimes hard to understand the disconnect between people’s “beliefs” and “actions.”
But maybe that’s why it seems too easy for the mass public to be manipulated by lying politicians, who toy with the line between belief and action all the time, and crass commercial capitalists, who make billions fooling some of the people enough of the time.
Beliefs don’t mean shit. It’s what we know that matters.
It’s just that you can’t get away with saying it on the stump or in the news. Sometimes you can only find the truth in satirical animated TV shows – or maybe on blogs these days.
But there are some things you can’t even get away with on a blog. Does anyone doubt that the Bush-Gonzales Justice Department would spring into action if one were to suggest that Cheney AND Scalia should be shot?
Just kidding Alice. When I say shot, I mean with a camera, not a gun.
The spring bird migration seems to be over now, the grosbeaks have moved on north and the mosquitoes have finally arrived, along with the dreaded need for air conditioning – a great invention that allows us in the South to live in these climes year around but fuck up the planet at the same time.
The news is not so interesting these days, although the scandals still pile up in Washington. It’s not a bad time to reflect on another Monarchical time – thanks to Showtime.
If you have not been watching the new series on the young Henry VIII, you may want to catch up with the action as young Henry is about to figure out a way to marry the vivacious Anne Boleyn and split from the Catholic Church to form the Church of England, an event that led to the beginning of a great flight of Europeans to what became the United States of America.
The series shows just how corrupt and sick ruling elites can be in a Monarchy. It’s something Americans should beware of considering our current political predicaments. If the Bush’s had their way, we would be headed – or beheaded – in that general direction politically.
One point you should understand right away. The cardinal is the king’s pimp.
That is more or less an accurate depiction of what the mix of religion and state can produce when the leader of a people is said to get his power from a divine source. They called it the “divine right of kings.”
We did away with that shit in the American and French revolutions, and it would be a shame to see something similar return to public favor on Earth.
One of the more important and interesting characters being depicted is Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), also known as Saint Thomas More, an English lawyer, author, and statesman. During his lifetime he earned a reputation as a leading humanist scholar. He was a man of great honesty and character, apparently, which makes him rare in this tale.
More coined the word “utopia,” a name he gave to an ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in an influential book called Utopia published in 1516.
I red this book a long time ago, but lost my Book Club hard bound copy along with all my Aristotle, Plato and Socrates on my move from Gulf Shores back to the Southside of Birmingham in 1992.
Utopianism or “no place” refers to an imaginary island depicted by Sir Thomas More as a perfect social, legal, and political system. Various social and political movements, and a significant body of religious and secular literature, are based upon the idea of a Utopia on earth.
Utopia is largely based on Plato’s Republic. It is a perfect version of Republic where equalism (egalitarianism) and pacifism flourish throughout human society and where poverty and misery are eliminated. It is a place where private property does not exist and religious toleration is practiced. It has few laws, no lawyers and rarely sends its citizens to war.
Utopia is often seen as the forerunner of the Utopian genre of literature, in which different ideas of the “ideal society” or perfect cities are described in varying amounts of detail. It is a typical Renaissance movement, based on the rebirth of classical concepts of perfect societies as set out by Plato and Aristotle, combined with the Roman rhetorical finesse of Cicero. Utopianism continued well into the Enlightenment Age.
Many commentators have pointed out that Karl Marx’s later vision of the ideal communist state strongly resembles More’s Utopia, especially on the issue of individual property, although Utopia is without Marx’s atheism.
Apparently Henry VIII employed More’s exceptional intelligence and grasp of the law and religion to write several treatises in defense of the Catholic faith against European reformers, notably Martin Luther.
But after young King Henry split from the Catholic Church, which would not grant him a divorce, and after he formed the Church of England, More came to believe that the rise of Protestantism represented a grave threat to social and political order in Christian Europe. As with many of Henry’s enemies, he was charged with high treason for denying the validity of the Act of Succession and sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered – the usual punishment for traitors. But the king commuted his sentence to execution by beheading.
We suspect if Bush had his way, he would be allowed to do that to his enemies. Instead, these fuckers just set out to ruin people who criticize them via rumor, innuendo and secret dossiers passed around over the “Internets.” Sometimes the bastards employ a car crash that looks like an accident. Yes, we could cite specific examples and document them.
But it’s late. And afterall, how many scandals does it freaking take to get rid of these corrupt swine?
I’m far more interested in getting past these royal assholes and getting onto more productive pursuits, such as later versions and theories of Utopia. Maybe a scientific approach, something like the one founded by the Global scenario group, an international group of scientists led by Paul Raskin, which uses scenario analysis and backcasting to map out a path to an environmentally sustainable and socially equitable future. Its findings suggest that a global citizens movement is necessary to steer political, economic and corporate entities toward this new sustainability paradigm.
But apparently we’re going to have to re-fight the American and French Revolutions, at least in the political realm, before we can get on with that paradigm shift. We always seem to repeat the mistakes of the past, perhaps because people don’t remember the past in an educated way.
Get on top of things people. Don’t just watch The Tudors.
And let’s stop it from happening all over again…
Under the Microscope
by Glynn Wilson
It should be no secret that I would rather be photographing birds from a canoe than covering politics.
Unfortunately, the state of American politics and the press is in such bad shape that I feel I have no choice. It’s that important.
While there are about a zillion places on the planet I would rather be than Highway 280 south of Birmingham, I headed over to the Cahaba Convention Center Friday night to meet former president Bill Clinton.
Now here is where Web coverage gets a little different than the mainstream press. The idea here on a blog journal is to create a more conversational style for readers who are tired of the formalism of balanced journalism.
|Photo by Glynn Wilson|
|Former President Bill Clinton campaigns for Hillary in Birmingham, Alabama.|
If I had been covering the event for a newspaper such as the New York Times or the Christian Science Monitor, I would have remained at arms length from the politician and written a more formal news feature on the event, complete with background information and political analysis all wrapped up in the pretty language of a literary feature.
Instead, I concentrated mainly on getting some serviceable photographs in the bad light of the big HealthSouth hall, then passing on the key points of what Clinton said.
As it turned out, I was right down front at the end of Clinton’s address. He walked right toward me to shake some hands. What was I to do?
Perhaps I should have asked a tough question in that rare moment in today’s over-handled PR world when you get to meet an American president up close and personal. But quite frankly, I wasn’t in the mood to be a tough reporter in that moment. I’m sure meeting George W. Bush would be different.
So instead, I scanned my brain quickly for something to say during that brief handshake. Here’s what I came up with, which I think he will remember.
As I grasped that infamous hand and looked Bill Clinton in the eyes, I said, simply: “You were the best president ever – no matter what they say about you.”
He smiled that humble smile of his and said thank you, then turned to state Sen. Roger Bedford, D- Russellville, to shake his hand and continue working the room.
I also had a word with former Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley at the event. She suffered a stroke not long after losing the race for governor last year, but she didn’t want to miss the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, which drew about 1800 people this year and raised about $350,000 for the Alabama Democrats.
I also got a hug from my old source and friend Nancy Worley, our former secretary of state who is being legally harassed by certain Republican forces in this oh so conservative state.
When I told some of my Democrat friends in Birmingham about the Clinton meeting, they were very interested, since they consider Clinton not only to be the best president ever.
“He is the only president we’ve ever had,” said one Democrat from Clay, Alabama.
I’m sure all those Republican birders out there would scoff at that statement. But that is what the world looks like from over here whether they like it or not.
Thier man Bush has been the worst president in American history bar none. I would bet the whole Yuengling 12-pack that historians will come to that conclusion when all is said and done.
Except for being defeated by the big, corporate insurance companies on creating a national health care system, cowtowing too much to corporate America by supporting the NAFTA free trade agreement, and that little matter of oral sex with a flirtatious intern, it was great to be alive and covering science with Bill Clinton in the White House.
The federal government actually worked for the first time in my lifetime, and the economy was on such a roll I spent most of the 1990s in grad school studying science and communications.
Unfortunately it all unraveled when the U.S. Supreme Court handed Bush the election of 2000. After the attacks of 9/11, I knew I wanted back in the news business covering politics.
I never imagined I would meet Bill Clinton on Highway 280 in Birmingham, since that’s rock solid Republican territory. I think Republicans must like suburban sprawl and driving gas guzzling SUVs in rush hour traffic.
Me? After a fine Sunday breakfast on a beautiful spring day, I’ll be putting the canoe in the water this afternoon, searching for some birds to shoot – with a camera of course.
And unlike all of the Republicans and most of the Democrats on the TV talk shows today talking about the shootings in Virginia, I’ve been in favor of stronger gun control laws for a long time. Give me a camera over a gun any day…
Postscript Note: Notice our lead story on the Locust Fork News page today. The New York Times didn’t have it. The Washington Post didn’t either, and neither did the Birmingham News.
Just another great reason to check LocustFork.Net every day and make it your home page. Why support the corporate media?