H2O ManH2O Man's Journal
"We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
-- John Kerry; April 22, 1971; Vietnam Veterans Against the War, testimony to Congress
Scientists are not entirely sure about the memory capacity of goldfish. Most think that it likely depends upon the amount of stimulation they find in their home environment. Is it a day? A week? Perhaps a month? One can never know for sure, although the leading theory is that their memory is somewhere between two to ten times greater than that of the common republican homonid found in the United States of America.
I do not expect people under the age of fifty to think of John Kerry's famous presentation to Congress in 1971. But I find it curious that some people of my generation -- including republicans, and a variety of media "experts," among o0thers -- to be able to draw a line between the end of the Vietnam war and Afghanistan. I know that it would be best to set the bar low, even on the gound itself, yet it seems to have been buried six feet below the ground. The expectation of the human variety of goldfish are totally unaware of what takes place when a country loses a protracted war.
Why, my good friend who is 50% informed and 50% misinformed asked me, didn't President Biden immediately provide visas for the Afghan citizens who would undoubtably need to leave their country when the US withdrew? I mean, it's not like leaving Grenada after the noble invasion in 1983 to prevent the construction of an airport run way that would have been almost as long as the one in my home town, population 3,500. That was our nutmeg, after all.
I reminded him of Stephen Miller, a man that even my friend finds toxic. And how Miller, who does not believe the citizens of Afghanistan or Iraq are equal in human value to Europeans -- specifically, white Europeans -- did his best to stop the process of visa applications. It is not as if Joe Biden was landing on firm ground when he took office.
But the thing that best defines the Trump cult, at least in my opinion, came when my second-cousin was talking to a woman who had a multitude of Trump yard signs and flags on her lawn, on the street he lives on. He recently mentioned the possibility of her taking them down. She asked why? He said because Trump was too much like Hitler. She asked who Hitler was? He stared in disbelief, until she asked, "Oh, was he the guy that killed those people?"
I do believe that everyone has the right to vote. But it seems odd that the vote of a goldfish counts as mych as mine.
Things are strange. Tucker interviewed Glen Greenwald, who attacked President Biden. Both CNN and MSNBC have featured similar slightly mutated narratives. Chuck Todd does a mean impression of Chicken Little. Such routines do, it must be said, create an audience of anxious, angry viewers, sure to be watching, and thus increasing commercial revenue.
Fights at school board meetings, which despite the whimpering of a republican guest on CNN, always show the anti-mask crowd initiates the hostilities. It would be strange indeed for a masked person to confront and slug a drooling anti-masker in the mouth, and risking the spread of the virus. I haven't believed in slugging people any how ..... it's been a long time since I boxed. But watching the news, at times I question the efficacy of a slap -- specifically when I hear the name Sean Hannity.
Have I become one of Ivan Pavlov's dogs? Perhaps an old, feeble, grumpy dog, chained by old age, that growls once per day. But not always. I recognize that there are things to do, based upon values. Last week, my late brother's oldest daughter and his grandson visited me, from out of state. In my family, if a brother died, one fills in as a parent and grandparent role.
When he came into the house, the little boy said I looked "95%" like my brother. I asked how old he is? Eight. How old do you think I am? "Oh, eighty or ninety." I assured him that I'm planning my 100th birthday party, and that he is invited. He had brought me two fish for my pond, and so we added them to the pond's population, fed the fowl, played with kittens, and discussed fossils.
I was reminded of how my uncle served as my daughters' grandfather after my father had died. He would make a 4-hour round trip to watch the girls' sports and graduations. Cards, calls, and presents on birthdays and holidays. This Marine, who became a NYS BCI Senior Investigator, private investigator, and justice of the peace, was bigger than life. My daughters considered him "a great big Teddy Bear."
The next day, I was going to his burial ceremony at a national cemetery in upstate New York. A few hours before I planned to get to sleep, one of my sisters called to say that our mother had died. I notified my children and another family member. It's been a strange uear, with the deaths of my mother, brother, an aunt, and three uncles.
It's difficult to sleep some times, so I sit in a rocking chair. There are pictures of my grandfather as a youth, several years after his father brought the family to this country in the late 1870s, hanging on the wall. This is a portrait of him with his family. His parents display no emotion, while my grandfather and his numerous siblings look like happy children. There are also pictures of his father's siblings, who had come in an earlier wave of immigration.
The following night, my late brother's middle daughter contacted me. I had run into her in a parking lot a week before, and she broke down crying at the site of me. She tried to apologize, until I said my face often makes both children and adults weep. She said it was because it was "creepy" that I looked so much like her father. She has been having a difficult time since her father's death, and now her grandmother's.
I talked about those pictures, and how every generation gets its opportunity. We all get a turn on this living planet. Some are long, some are short, and most are medium in length. Whatever the length, we deal with the realities of our era, and experience the eternal "Now."
I lay down, but can't get to sleep. My mind is focused upon the reality of "Now." For "Now" is the time that a healthy and sane society would be investing to make sure little innocent ones have a safe childhood, even if it means wearing a mask in school. Elderly people would get quality care ate the other end of life. Human beings wouldn't be kept in cages at the southern border. Parking lots would be safe spaces to park an automobile.
Now is the exact time to work for those outcomes. And the Democratic Party is the only way that we might get there.
Malcolm X used to teach that there is no shame in saying that you used to be a drunk. But there is shame in saying you continue to be a drunk. There's no shame in saying that you used to be a thug, but there is shame if you continue in your thug life-style. I'd hope that most people would tend to agree with Malcolm on that. Yet there seems to be both confusion and diagreement when it comes to the United States.
I fully agree with, and support, President Biden's decision to get us out of Afghanistan. More, I understand that there is no good way -- much less a perfect one -- to withdraw from that distant land. I do not like that people will suffer and die, no matter what route Joe Biden decided upon. But I trust that he, knowing far more significant details than any of us, will do his best to lessen that sad reality.
I do not necessarliy trust some others who were profitting off the war. That does not include the military itself, as any thinking person knows there was never a "military solution" to making Afghanistan a liberal democracy. But there was a potential military solution as far as the initial response -- going after the people responsible for 9/11. A combination of bombing Tora Bora while sending Special Forces to prevent Usama bin Laden from walking into Pakistan would have been good, at least compared to Bush & Cheney taking their attention off of that. Thanks, Donald Rumsfeld. Thanks, industrial complex.
The Bush-Cheney administration was intoxicated on power. They were drunken thugs. Twenty years ago, they behaved in a reckless manner that not only damaged Afghanistan and Iraq, it damaged this country. That shame belongs around their necks. But the United States should have ended this horror long ago. Presidents, the Senate, and the House should have recognized it as an infected wound that would not and could not heal so long as we were there.
This wound cannot heal so long as we limit our thinking to only viewing situations from a western point of view. While some of Afghanistan's people want to live like Americans, it is obvious that not all of the others share our values. In some cases, that creates problems for segments of the population, most obviously women and girls. That's terrible, but it is not the reason we invaded Afghanistan. But other than the US military being there another 79 years, that won't change this century.
I've seen some Good People saying Biden gave the Taliban "legitimacy." This is an example of not understanding the reality beyond from a USA egocentric level. No one can give you legitimacy, they can only try to take it away. No one can give you human rights -- you are born with them -- although they can certainly try to take them away. Watch Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," with Bush hosting the Taliban, and get back to me on how President Biden gave them legitimacy.
Likewise, we hear that the Afghanistan military didn't want to fight. Gosh, I hear an echo from comments on South Vietnam's army didn't care to fight. There is a lesson there that we should have learned decades ago. The Taliban, however, shows a legit willingness to fight, not unlike happened in Vietnam. Neither recognized the authority of the corrupt governments that we attempted to impose. In both wars, only our military industrial complex made out like bandits, off the fighting, killing, suffering and death of the men and women sent to fight a prolonged war.
It was Trump who began the process -- not that his word would be worth any more in an international agreement than his daily pathological lying. But I dare say that President Biden will take a sober approach to a tragic situation that we created 20 years ago.
On Wednesday, Mike Lindell (aka the Pillow Guy) said that today, August 13, 2021, Donald Trump would be globally recognized as the rightful president, and re-take the White House. Does anyone know what media sources will be providing live coverage?
Also, if the world did come to an abrupt end in 1844, is this the promised second coming?
"I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."
-- Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA); September 6, 2005
Last night, my son and I watched a documentary on Hurricane Katrina. It was made by a fellow who had the misfortune of getting stuck in the storm, but was lucky enough to survive. The film featured the awesome power of nature, the utter destruction of buildings and properties, and the suffering endured by human beings.
During the film, my son commented that people who dismiss that human suffering by saying, "It's their own fault. They should have left," should watch and see why leaving was not a choice for everyone. Indeed, there was a wide range of reasons that so many people could not simply leave. Today, I did an internet search, so that I could find the exact quote of former senator and self-righteous christian Rick Santorum (at top), who recommended "tougher penalties" for those suffering people.
Nature is a curious thing, and certainly the environment has played a crucial role in the cycle of new life forms and extinctions for far, far longer that modern humans have walked the earth. More, in the relatively brief time we have inhabited this living planet, changes in the environment have influenced how -- and where -- we live. This includes natural disasters that arise quickly, as well as changes that take place at a slower pace and are associated with the fall of some of human history's greatest empires.
The most significant factor in human survival has been our specie's ability to adopt to threatening changes. Human beings, by nature, are flexible, with the ability to adjust to change. That ability to respond to rapid changes, such as Katrina, is reduced by factors directly associated with social stratification -- although that alone does not account for every tragic event in human history.
The other important factor is surviving these events is empathy, the ability to grasp the feelings of others in need, and to respond. This includes helping those who are very different from us, something the prophet Jesus highlighted in his parable of the good Samaritan. There have been numerous times in this country's history when, as individuals, groups, and a nation, we have responded to domestic and global crises in this fashion. It was fifty years ago today, for example, that ex-Beatle George Harrison headed the Concert for Bangladesh.
In the half-century since then, there have been significant changes in the environment. By no coincidence, science shows conclusively that human activities have accelerated these changes. And there is little evidence that we are currently serious as a species to adopt to these changes, when we consider politicians, corporations, or individuals in the United States. To illustrate this, consider the discomfort many experience when a storm knocks out the internet and/or electricity for a couple of hours. Yet we are witnessing an increase in environmental crises around the planet that cause severe, long-term suffering.
Five years ago, Trump was ranting about building a wall. As stupid as the man is, it is important to recognize that he was thinking this would provide long-term protection for "his people." Don't be Donald Trump, for those walls will come tumbling down. Don't call yourself "religious" if, like Rick S., you want to punish others for suffering, rather than being a good Samaritan.
We can't all be one of those musicians who took the stage fifty years ago today, but we can all be one of the audience participants.
There's a storm coming.
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