Northern Valley Beacon

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005


God Bless Oceania. Oceania the Beautiful. And so on.

We hear the world "Orwellian" raised much since the democratization action in Iraq. Some, well most, I think, who never read Orwell tend to think "Orwellian" refers some doctrine he advocates. It refers to the totalitarian trends he portrayed in his novels and analyzed in his essays. Here is his distinction between the words "nationalism" and "patriotism" that he wrote in May 1945 in the essay "Notes on Nationalism."

I will probably repost this passage frequently.

By "nationalism" I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled "good" or "bad." But secondly -- and this is much more important -- I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By "patriotism" I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseperable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.


Minnesota bucks the trend toward poverty

Minnesota tops the nation for the standard of living it provides its people, according to the report on poverty, medical insurance, and household income released yesterday.

Minnesota was the only state to rank first, or in a statistical tie for first, in all three key measures released Tuesday. It had the lowest percentage of poor people, the highest average household income and the lowest rate of residents without health insurance.


Forget Katrina and Al Qaida. The communists are coming.

According to the Post-ABC poll released this morning, President Bush's approval rating is at an all time low with only 45 percent of the respondents approving of the job he is doing.

The problem is that as Bush's approval rating slips, the rightwingnuts start their incessant howling about people who don't approve of his performance being unpatriotic, emboldening the enemy, and, of course, being communists. That last charge was hurled by author John J. Tierney who said, in reference to Cindy Sheehan's protests, that the anti-war movement is orchestrated by communists. Anyone who does not endorse stupidity and venality as the great American virtues is labeled a communist. Anyone who thinks freedom, equality, and justice should apply to everybody and honesty and competency in government are desirable things is a communist.

If anyone is making communism a threat, it is George W. Bush and his rightwing base. They consistently are coming down against civil rights, civil liberties, and individual privacy. They have used 9/11 as the pretext to launch a war on Iraq which is supposed to throw the populace into a patriotic fervor which makes the country easy to control. However, 55 percent of the populace are not buying it at this point.

And so we have people like Tierney out there calling any dissenters communists. Old stupidity never dies, it just gets reborn in the rightwingnut mentality.

You have the wingnuts out there denying hard facts, such as the fact that the poverty level has continued to rise during the past four years and, despite claims of a strong economy, has hit 37 million people. In addition to the screams about communism, you are assailed by people trying to show that the additional 1.1 million people added to the poverty roles last year are lies created by the progressives.

The real danger from communism is that if our country continues to dismiss 37 million people as inconsequential and irrelevant to the wonderful designs of Bush and the rightwingnut base, communism may seem like a viable alternative to the repression and hopelessness that those designs are imposing on an increasing number of Americans. More and more, the basic tenets of fascism are being articulated as the foundations of the "conservative" base.

Calling Cindy Sheehan a communist is an expression of the derangement that possesses the faction in power. The hope is that 55 percent of the population is dissatisfied. It is time for the Democrats--or somebody--to provide a way out of the fascist sinkhole into which the country has been slipping.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Saving John Thune

After the BRAC Commision voted to keep Ellsworth Air Force Base, there was a brief flurry of make-nice and smarm about what a non-partisan, team effort went into making the case. Senators Johnson and Thune even collaborated on a "ain't-cooperation-wonderful" column in the local newspaper, or whatever that journalistic atrocity is. Over the weekend, the gag reflex had quite a workout.

Relief came quickly. Soon the media and, of course, the web logs began their crowing about John Thune returning to the world of the political living. They have assigned him all sorts of important offices such as leader of the Republican Senate Committee to Get Even More Duds in Office, vice president, and even president. The wild humor of John Thune in that latter office was an effective antidote to the smarm.

However, there are all sorts of fictional and semi-creative accounts of how Thune saved Ellsworth. We have no doubt that John Thune worked diligently and strenuously to save Ellsworth. For John Thune, much more than an Air Force Base and 4,000 jobs were at stake. His political ass was on the line.

There are no accounts of what other people did, the contacts they made, the work they and their staffs did to contribute to the Ellsworth effort. Work on the Ellsworth issue began long before the election of 2004. After the election, work began in earnest. People knew that it would be placed on the list for closure. The arguments for its closure had been made ten years previously. They came up again. And they had behind them the additional impetus of the administration and the Republican Peevish Commmittee to discredit anything Tom Daschle ever did. In the end, it was the weakness and the underlying political motives behind the 2005 closure recommendation that saved Ellsworth. The BRAC Commission didn't buy it, and the heavy work in saving the base was in exposing the shaky arguments and peevish motives. At a county party meeting in March, two months before the closure list was released, the reasons that Ellsworth would appear on it and the arguments that would be advanced to support its closure were discussed and analyzed. The forces of support for the maintenance of the base were already at work to insure that the merits of the base would not be submerged by arguments based upon partisan and vindictive motives.

Ellsworth has been reprieved for another ten years, at least. However, as new weapon systems are developed, the B-1 bombers will most likely be retired and Ellsworth will most likely see a phase-out of its mission. The economic circumstances of West River are not necessarily stabilized with the reprieve of Ellsworth.

Nor are the political fortunes of John Thune.

Former Daschle campaign manager Steve Hildebrand made the comment after the Ellsworth reprieve that Thune will have to watch his back. There are people who will not let the temporary relief from the closing of Ellsworth obscure the intensity of their opposition to John Thune. He still has the campaign of 2004 to account for.

As part of a group that canvassed for Tom Daschle, I was struck by the intensity of the hatred that had been fanned against him. When we probed for the reasons behind the hatred, we often got reasons that did not justify the intensity of the hatred. The reasons given were largely untrue. We realized we were dealing with people whose own sense of identity requires that they have someone to place the blame on for all the ills of the world and to passionately hate--whether it be a race, a social class, or a politician who has gained the prominence of Tom Daschle. We give the Republican propagandists credit for providing the chronic haters with a focus and herding them into their voting ranks. They are a dependable part of the Republican base, and the Democrats are loathe to appeal to this segment of the population, which seems to be gaining in numbers.

When it comes to our dislike of John Thune, we suppose hatred is involved. The old cliche about hating the sin and not the sinner comes to mind, but that begs the question of holding the sinner responsible for the sins he commits.

For people in northeastern South Dakota, there is plenty of reason in Thune's record to oppose him. Initially, he did not think the region important to have a Congressional service office. Members of his party changed his mind on that. He opposed the expansion of the four-lane segment of U.S. 12 over to I-29 and the U.S. 281 by-pass around Aberdeen. He said that they were matters of Democrat tax-and-spend schemes and the government could not afford the pork. We recall the public dressing-down he took on that from the committee in charge as they explained that northeastern South Dakota was in the throes of an economic downturn and outmigration of people and needed to bolster its infrastructure to remain viable. He did not belong to any agricultural caucuses in Congress until a poltical opponent asked how he could represent a rural state when he was not involved in the study and discussion of rural issues. He was oblivious to the Lewis Clark water development project and the need it is designed to serve. John Thune's service in the House was as a partisan claque who would do as he was told and echo the party-line cant. He didn't appear to be doing any real harm, but he certainly did not represent the interests and needs of his state.

But his record of fecklessness is not the source of our intense opposition. His campaign of 2004 was. We have often repeated the observation that the Thune campaign of 2004 was as unprincipled, malicious, defamatory, and dishonest as the Saxby Chambliss campaign was against Max Cleland in Georgia. We read a recent defense of the Chambliss campaign by a Thune supporter. That defense detailed how to take an ostensible fact, such as a vote on a particular issue, and contort and pervert it into a lie intended to do damage. The defense was a manual in how to create Newspeak misrepresentations of fact and character. Rather than refute the fact that the Cambliss campaign was based upon totally malgnant personal attack, the defense demonstrated how it is done. And what it demonstrates is what was done to Tom Daschle.

All the Ellsworth-type efforts John Thune can muster do not redeem him from the vicious and cynical denials of basic democratic values he exerted during the campaign of 2004. Our opposition to John Thune is simple: the debased and vicious campaign he conducted makes him morally and intellectually unfit to represent us.

He and those who subscribe to his values and methods have much to account for. The Ellsworth episode does not exempt them from that accountability.


Poverty rate and those without medical insurance just keep growing

The number of Americans without medical insurance rose for a fourth straight year to a record and the poverty rate climbed, a government report showed.

The U.S. Census bureau said 45.8 million Americans lacked medical benefits last year, compared with 45 million in 2003. The number of people living in poverty last year rose by 1.1 million to 12.7 percent of the population from 12.5 percent in 2003, according to a report today.

Monday, August 29, 2005


What's in your wallet?

South Dakota is given a leadership role by a Washington Post article among the states making it more difficult to get access to an abortion procedure.

South Dakota has been among the most active states, passing five new laws, including a "trigger" law that would impose an immediate abortion ban after any Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade .

Last year, "there was an attempt to engage in a full-frontal assault of Roe versus Wade " with an outright ban, said Brock L. Greenfield, a state senator who is director of South Dakota Right to Life. But similar bills have been found unconstitutional, and Gov. Mike Rounds (R) vetoed the bill on technical grounds.

"This year, the pro-life forces united in order to pass some legislation," Greenfield said. The other measures include stricter parental notification requirements and a provision adding an "unborn child" as a distinct victim to the state's criminal code for charges of murder in the first and second degree.

In its new informed-consent law, South Dakota requires physicians to tell women seeking an abortion about the "existing relationship between a pregnant woman
and her unborn child," and that all abortions "terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being."

The language in that law was written with the expectation it could be used to "help tear down the wall put up by the Roe versus Wade decision," Greenfield said.

For the small and dwindling number of physicians providing abortions, it has been frustrating to encounter new regulations dictating non-medical requirements such as the width of doorways and the size of hallways, said Steven Emmert, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers.


While tropical storms assail the homeland, there is always Iraq

Anytime people express opposition to the war on Iraq, the right wing says they are encouraging terrorism and ignoring Saddam Hussein's acts of oppression and genocide. They call this defining the opposition. Of course, their definition of the anti-war people is straight out of George Orwell's studies of how oppressive regimes get the cowardly and less-than-sentient to believe so fervently that the lies told them and the dishonesty they are asked to overlook are in their best interests. Such regimes label any criticism and opposition to a war prepared by the Lord of the Dings as unpatriotic and encouraging to terrorists and athlete's foot.

Then they like to chant that those in opposition to the war have no policy. They do have a policy. It is phrased in the question, "Do we really have to be this stupid?" Of course, the answer is a resounding, "Yes. If you want to be patriotic."

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark is among the critics of the war who has laid out the framework of a policy.

President Bush and his team are repeating the failure of Vietnam: failing to craft a realistic and effective policy and instead simply demanding that the American people show resolve. Resolve isn't enough to mend a flawed approach --
or to save the lives of our troops. If the administration won't adopt a winning strategy, then the American people will be justified in demanding that it bring our troops home.

Clark's entire statement is available at the Washington Post.

He will be hosting a round table at the TPM Cafe beginning today.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Ellsworth down, Homestake to go

Anyone who has been involved in efforts to bring new enterprises to South Dakota gets disheartened. People who are approached about coming to South Dakota snicker a lot. When South Dakota got the idea to get in the running as the site of the SuperConducter SuperCollider, which never did get built, the snickering was humiliating. The selection committee made comments about the families of scientists and technicians needing something to do and first-rate educational facilities to attend and that there should be a labor pool qualified to work in small particle physics. Some guy from Brookings turned their snickering into an ear-shattering guffaw when he said that our technical schools could train physicists to work on the collider.

One of the successful things about getting Ellsworth off the closure list for a time was the fact that very few truly stupid comments got into the record. Ellsworth had been built into a facility that carries out its mission with great efficiency and a sense of purpose. The people involved in making presentations before the BRAC Commission had years of solid work to support their arguments. Contrived and silly arguments, which are generally fatal, were not made.

But one of the big factors in the saving of Ellsworth is that people trained in high technology will not be leaving the state anytime soon. Keeping people who know and and can work with complicated technology is a key to an economy that keeps pace with global developments.

South Dakota has another opportunity to build on technology in West River. The Homestake Goldmine is one of the two finalists as the site for a National Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory. It got a suprising reprieve to compete for that lab.

When a national underground lab was first proposed, Homestake, at which some independent experiments had already been done, was a natural choice. The nation's most prominent physicists quickly put their names on a list in support of Homestake. The features that they needed for their science were already built into the mine.

But then entered the mine owner, Barrick Gold. The gold company wanted to be exempt from potential environmental liabilities if it gave the mine over to government agencies for scientific purposes. It blackmailed the government groups by threatening to turn off the pumps that keep the mine from filling with water if its demands were not met. It did just that, and nearly all the scientists who had supported the Homestake proposal backed away and turned their efforts to other locations for an underground laboratory.

Nothing ruins good science as much as the involvement of a corporate bureaucracy. Academic bureaucracies are bad enough as personalities vie with each other, often, instead of advancing science. But in corporate bureaucracies, the bottom line and personal status are the sole objectives. Good science is scarcely a possibility. And so, the scientists defected.

But the inherent features of Homestake kept it in the running as the site of the NUSEL. Even while filling up with water, its potential won out over many other possible sites throughout the nation. Now it is down to Homestake and the Henderson Mine in Colorado. The National Science Foundation has given each place a half million dollars to come up with final proposals.

If Homestake is chosen, the Black Hills and South Dakota could be on track for finding a place in the post-industrial global economy. The Ellsworth experience could be a pattern for the Homestake proposal. An earnest, credible, and reliable presentation of the facts and potential could make Homestake, which already has an edge, the home of the National Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Demoted General on U.S. Army in Iraq: "Sgt. Bilko meets Catch 22"

Janis Karpinski was the only woman general in Iraq. She was in command of the troops that ran the Abu Ghraib prison. In a book about her experiences, One Woman's Army, she tells stories about how the prisoners lifted the cell doors off the hinges because they were installed on the inside. She tells of a sergeant using the machine gun in a guard tower to amuse himself by shooting sheep. And she tells, mostly, about the dysfunction of the U.S. Army because of poor training, poor planning, and poor administration.

A review of her book is in the Washington Post.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Sometimes it pays to ask the people with brains who have done things successfully

Retired Gen. Wes Clark has some ideas about what kind of winch (not wench, you idiot) can pull us out of the quagmire in Iraq. He says:

"In the old, familiar fashion, mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq have mobilized increasing public doubts about the war. More than half the American people now believe that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. They're right. But it would also be a mistake to pull out now, or to start pulling out or to set a date certain for pulling out. Instead we need a strategy to create a stable,
democratizing and peaceful state in Iraq -- a strategy the administration has failed to develop and articulate."

For all of his comments follow this link, which I am not hyper-embedding, because the hyper-embedder ain't working for some reason.


Elegy on the occasion of reprieving Ellsworth

Today was a day of elation for South Dakota. The reprieve of Ellsworth from the chopping block, assuming that any Pentagon rebuttal to the BRAC vote does not succeed and that the President goes along with the vote, means we will not have to watch another community in South Dakota begin that deadly atrophy that has turned so many communities throughout the state into graveyards.

As an old guided missile crewman, I still have not gotten over the closure of the missile bases in the Dakotas. While the Cold War seemed to obviate the need for them, the unrest in the Middle East and the known efforts of some nations and some militant groups to get weapons of mass destruction and means of delivering them seemed to make the total abandonment of the missile network hasty and premature. The sites of offensive weapons would have been the logical places to set up the defensive apparatus. For a long time, places in North Dakota, while abandoned, were maintained for the possibility of a new role in security. No one even talks about that possibility anymore. The widely accepted assumption seems to be that we need a suitcase defense, not an air defense.

Today was also a day for our current political culture to show how incredibly inane it is. Oh, there were many obligatory comments about how the Congressional delegation and the Governor's office and the Ellsworth Task Force worked so hard together and should all share credit. Then, some turned around and touted John Thune as a hero, as if the reprieve of Ellsworth, however temporary it may be, was all his doing. Nothing makes one want to avoid all politics more than being exposed to the truly assinine.

One of the more incredible arguments was that Rapid City seems to have obtained an economic reprieve, but should now get down to business and replace that government-based part of the economy with private enterprise. It wouldn't be so dependent on the government for the livelihoods it provides. For people from Aberdeen, where Imprimis left 800 people out of work, or Huron where Smithfield Foods left almost 1,000 people without jobs, the assumption that private enterprise is somehow more stable than the government simply does not wash. In fact, the history of the U.S. in recent decades is a history of job losses throughout the country.

And then we have the heartening examples of Enron, Worldcom, and so on. They certainly lent economic security and stability to the people they have touched.

The successful arguments for maintaining Ellsworth were based on hard, convincing data assembled and presented through hard work. We hate to see that fact nibbled and eroded away by all that niggling crowing about who saved Ellsworth. The facts and people who listened to them and understood them saved it.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Erin calls MetaBank into account

Yesterday we posted the news that the Iowa Attorney General had obtained an agreement with MetaBank to reduce interest rates on loans for cars that consumers had bought from the Dan Nelson Auto companies. If you pursue the Iowa AGs link at the end of the post, you can inspect all the provisions of that agreement.

However, Erin of Iowa who has tracked the court actions against the Dan Nelson Auto firm and those taken in behalf of customers has posted a comment stating that MetaBank made its loans to Dan Nelson Auto when it knew the company was in serious financial trouble. [Scroll below and read her comment.]

The Iowa AG states that the agreement to provide consumers some relief from exorbitant interest rates and loan terms that are fraudulent will not mitigate the actions he has taken against Dan Nelson Auto.

The implications of MetaBank in this affair reaches deep into a part of the South Dakota economy. The state is referred to by some sardonic observers of the financial community as the Usury Capital of the World. The state made it very attractive and comfortable for lending institutions to conduct their operations in South Dakota.

The relationship of banking institutions and state officials is cause for suspicion. The state put some of its funds into banks and refused to inform the state treasurer how much was in the funds and where they were. Go figure that one out.

Then when state officials had reason to investigate some corporate doings within the banking industry, other officials very quickly passed a "gag law" which made it a crime for any state official to inform the press or the public about any investigations being made into corporate businesses. Our current governor while serving in the legislature led the charge to make sure any news of financial hanky panky was effectively suppressed. While that "gag law" has been modified somewhat, it still remains on the books.

In the meantime, the public has no idea of what kind of transactions and what kind of business dealings the banking industry is supporting in South Dakota.

From the Iowa Attorney General and Erin, we have information about how business practices were investigated and responded to in Iowa.

In the meantime, South Dakota is more interested in protecting its banking cronies than it is in keeping consumers from being ripped off.

I hope Erin keeps us posted on developments in this matter. We need some tips on how to run a government for the people.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Northwest Airline mechanics strike is a perilous tactic

Roberta Lynch, an Illinois union official, takes a look at the Northwest Airlines mechanics strike. At a time when unions need to employ all the strategies and resources they can muster, this strike could affect the nation's labor movement deeply. Ms. Lynch says,

The Northwest Airlines mechanics strike represents a perilous moment for the labor movement. If AMFA succeeds in this risky venture, it will be only by the skin of its teeth and won’t likely provide any great boon to the fate of workers in the airline industry. But if it fails—oh, if it fails—that’s a sonic boom that will be reverberating for a long time to come.

The entire piece is at the TPM Cafe.


MetaBank reduces interest on Dan Nelson Auto loans

After a strange episode of accusations in some blogs a few weeks back on the John Thune-Dan Nelson-Metabank connections, we have not heard anything about the matter. Here is an AP story out of Des Moines that reveals how attorney generals who work in the public interest go about their work.

Bank to provide better loan terms to Dan Nelson Auto customers

Associated Press
DES MOINES, Iowa - About 1,400 customers of a former car dealership may get a better deal on their loans, including a lower interest rate, the Iowa attorney general's office announced Thursday.

The complete story is now printed in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
We ran the complete story off of a feed. As the story is copyrighted and restricted by the AP, go to this link to read the entire account:

On the Net: Iowa Attorney General:


Italian Red Cross hides Iraqi combatants from U.S.

The Chicago Tribune features a story today about the Italian Red Cross smuggling Iraqis through U.S. checkpoints and treating them in a hospital in exchange for the freedom of two Italian journalists who were kidnapped in Iraq.

To link to the story, click on the headline above.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Wimping down America: Democrats without testicularity

The war on Iraq is simply one of the most incredibly stupid episodes in human history. There are a lot of such episodes, because humankind has a near-infinite capacity for stupidity. That's one of the reasons we have public education. Americans used to believe that education could give people the basic reasoning and communications skills that would enable them to participate in their governance of themselves. But Democrats have retreated behind the Bushes (yes, pun intended) to sodden their pants.

One of the reasons Tom Daschle got turned out of office was because he did speak out about the mindless rush into war on Iraq. The Republican opposition joined together in sneering rage that the Democratic Leader would dare to say on the Senate floor that he was saddened by the mental and moral failures that allowed this country to get shoved into the slough of ignominy--despite what we had learned in Vietnam. The American people wanted to believe that what we were doing was right and was being done in the right way. Working toward the removal of Saddam Hussein and the threat he posed was right. But we blew it. We blew it because the loyal opposition to stupid and obscenely atrocious war let the stupidity factor prevail. The culture of instant gratification likes immediate acti0n and, to generations trained to play with action heroes, that means war. The long and tedious and arduous process of weapons inspections and convincing other countries to devise and support effective sanctions tests the patience. And the brain power. Democrats cowered among the bushes out of fear of being called weak. And of losing an election that they lost anyway.

This is a point that many people do not get about losing elections. The fear of losing so gripped the Democrats that they began making concessions to George Bush's great bungle. They feared being called soft on security, so they joined in the phony patriotism parade. Real patriots would challenge the patriotism of wasting lives, maiming bodies, blowing away billions and billions of dollars, and letting Halliburton and its sub-contracting war profiteers become the major shapers of our policies.

The number of people who see the war as a huge mistake is approaching the 60 percent mark. They see it as a hopeless quagmire that can only result in the slaughter of more of our troops, in escalating the terrorism, and in wasting more of our resources down the toilet of Iraq that is totally our invention and of our construction. The war mongers and profiteers have trotted out their favorite strategy of calling those who finally see the ultimate stupidity of the war defeatists--among other inanities. Gary Hart in the Washington Post voices the need for Democrats to stop cowering before the insult and abuse and make some clear statements of principle:
The real defeatists today are not those protesting the war. The real defeatists are those in power and their silent supporters in the opposition party who are reduced to repeating "Stay the course" even when the course, whatever it now is, is light years away from the one originally undertaken. The truth is we're way off course. We've stumbled into a hornet's nest. We've
weakened ourselves at home and in the world. We are less secure today than before this war began.

Who now has the courage to say this?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Top Causes of U.S. Military Fatalities in Iraq

A graphic from The Onion.


Robert Novak and John Thune join cast of Desperate Housewives

Political Designs, intelligent and otherwise, seem to be the agenda of the day from Robert Novak, Pat Robertson, and all those flowering derangements. Here is a reading of the Novak business.


Here comes the old race draft-card again

When it comes to the really nasty parts of war, as it affects people in the homeland, the nation undergoes massive memory suppression. We forget the Ivy League white boys during the Vietnam War who threw their urine samples in the faces of Army sergeants at the induction centers. We forget that the draft in effect at the time inducted a huge majority of minority young men. And we forget what happened when those young men realized they were regarded by their friends and neighbors as nothing but expendable sub-humans to be sacrificed in war games devised by demented old white men. When the troops themselves questioned and protested the war, the country and its leaders decided it might be better to withdraw from Vietnam than risk the warfare that was shaping up on our own streets.

Here we go again. Just as we expected, the war on Iraq is something that affluent white folks support--as long as their kind don't have to fight it. Nice white folks of means are steering their children away from military service. Military recruiters are finding this a major reason why they can't meet their quotas of enlistees.

Here is an excerpt from a column by Terry Neal in the Washington Post.

The writer of the Post-Gazette article, Jack Kelly, explored this question in his story that ran on Aug. 11. Kelly wrote of a Marine recruiter, Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, who went to an
affluent suburb outside of Pittsburgh to follow up with a young man who had expressed interest in enlisting. He pulled up to a house with American flags displayed in the yard. The mother came to the door in an American flag T-shirt and openly declared her support for the troops.

But she made it clear that her support only went so far.

"Military service isn't for our son," she told Rivera. "It isn't for our kind of people."

Sunday, August 21, 2005


More of the great things we are doing

Four GIs Killed by Bomb in Afghanistan

The Associated Press
Sunday, August 21, 2005; 9:03 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers and wounded three Sunday as they were patrolling in southern Afghanistan, the deadliest attack on American forces here in nearly two months, the U.S. military said.

Also Sunday, a roadside bomb exploded near a convoy of U.S. Embassy vehicles, wounding two American officials, an embassy spokesman said. Police officials said the blast occurred on the western outskirts of Kabul.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Colin Powell was "Dead Wrong" on Iraq

A former aid to Colin Powell says that Gen. Powell's WMD speech to the U.N. was the "lowest point of my life." The massive intelligence failure behind the speech is chronicled in this story. A documentary, titled "Dead Wrong" will be broadcast over CNN Sunday night at 8:30. Previews of the program are being shown throughout the day with statements by officials who are unequivocal about going to war on false pretexts.


Winners, losers, and cameltoes

Web logs are not suitable places for posting complex sentences or associative paragraphs that pose ideas from varying perspectives. And they sure as hell are not places for irony. Electronic media have a deleterious effect on coherence. They are more designed to condition brain cells into performing predetermined tasks than they are posing ideas in relation to other ideas. I keep forgetting that. Until, that is, I see things I have written parsed out into isolated quotations where the text is removed from the context. Such is the hazard of web logs. They simply are not instruments of coherence.

The blogosphere is a Skinner box. A Skinner box is a device into which white rats are placed and trained to do tasks. When they do the tasks properly, they are rewarded with food. When they do them improperly, they get jolt of electricity in the ass. A Skinner box is an operant conditioning device. For the most part, so is the electronic media. They are more about getting you to buy things than getting your brain cells into a self-generating mode.

What occasions these remarks on how media shapes messages are the responses to the previous post which posits that winning elections is not as important as keeping alive our last best hope. ("Last best hope" is Lincoln's description of the the role America plays in world history.) Some responses are available on blogs. Others came in through e-mail. Some acknowledge the context of the post. Most don't. There is a great deal of bipartisan agreement that Newquist's contention that winning elections is not of primary importance in politics is nuts. Well, yes it is nuts. From a political perspective.

Let me see if I can recap the point in blogese. Some commentators have expressed puzzlement at the people selected for the organizing and communications jobs that the DNC is paying for at SDDP. Others of us are just as puzzled, but expect that introductions and explanations will be forthcoming. I expressed some interest in the fact that Republican commentators seem more interested in who the new hires are than Democrats are. And then I noted that Republican commentators are not at all reticent about telling Democrats what they have to do to win elections. I did not ask why the Republicans want Democrats to win elections, but the question is implicit in the situation. Also implicit in the situation is the question of whether Republicans would give Democrats valid advice on winning elections. I mean, if it is all about winning, why would you give advantages to the opponents? Or could it be that the Republicans are telling Democrats how to be Republicans? That they are telling Democrats to drop those positions that oppose Republican stances? Of course, they are.

I also pointed out in the post and in previous ones that Democrats are also discussing what they have to do to win, and this discussion often addresses the issue of what the blue party has to do to get votes from the red party. Some conclude that to win elections you have to reconcile with and adopt red party values.

Here essentially is my point. As Christ said, what does it profit a man to win the world and lose his soul? My question is, what does it profit a political party to win elections if it compromises away its reason for being to do so? What difference does it make if the Democrats win elections if they have betrayed their identifying principles? I say it is more important to keep alive the liberal values than merely to obtain political power.

Those liberal principles, which no one articulated better than Lincoln, are expressed in the New Testament. They are expressed in the words of Christ under the rubric "Judgment of Nations," Matthew 25:31 following.

People like to see the political parties they support win. But when the political parties they support no longer represent their values, they will look for people to represent them who represent their values.

I was involved in the last campaign and saw Tom Daschle portrayed as a cohort of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. I read an advertisement signed by John Thune that called Tom Daschle a wife dumper. I saw the damage it caused his family. I saw the silliness over a house in D.C. that is modest compared to some being built in Aberdeen by those who protested the Daschles Beltway ostentation. I saw the political process brought down to the level of degraded insult, abuse, and personal attack irrelevant to any democratic value. I was there when the word came down that the Daschle campaign would not respond in kind--even if it meant losing the election. We lost the election. But integrity and the dignity of principle survived. And if necessary, that integrity and dignity can be carried to a different party.

That is exactly what Lincoln did when the Whigs began to waffle on essential issues of freedom, justice, and equality.

And thanks to those, in response to a previous post, who e-mailed me pictures of cameltoes. I still says it is a real stretch to make the resemblance. We don't even agree on that.

Friday, August 19, 2005


It's not about winning; it's about keeping the last best hope alive

The scuttlebutt at the Brown County Democrats' booth at the fair involved the new staff members hired by the state party. Other booths nearby have computers hooked up to the Internet. People go over to them and look at what's on the news and the political web logs. The people who reviewed the blogs this morning said that none of the Democratic blogs have mentioned the new staff members for the SDDP. But the Republican blogs have an inordinate interest, and the blogs shown to me have greeted the new staff members with what can only be described as belittlement. In politics today, the idea seems to be to damage the goods before it can see the light of day. It's called winning by some.

I know nothing about the new staff members. I know quite a few people with strong backgrounds who applied for the jobs, but were passed over. Some are close personal friends, and I was, of course, disappointed for them. I have not the foggiest idea what criteria were applied in the selection process, although a quick look at the backgrounds of the successful applicants makes a strong suggestion as to the strategy in mind. And I am sure we will be informed in good time.

It is not insignificant that the Republican side spends so much time and effort discussing what the Democrats should do to be a viable party. This discussion is going on in the party internally, too. However, the election statistics indicate that the Democrats are viable. Forty-eight percent of the vote does not signal the death throes. And the Democrats are a complex bunch with a wide range of poltical perspectives that come into conflict with each other. But, I have no interest in discussing the internal workings of the Republican Party and I know no Democrats who have such an interest. The inordinate interest by Republicans in the Democratic staff illustrates the distinguishing approach to values and attitudes between the two parties.

Democrats are interested in finding ways to let people live their own lives. Republicans appear content to let people live their own lives as long as they live them like the Republicans do. But they reserve the right to blackball people. And apparently they extend that right to hires of the Democratic Party. Actually, the process of contriving and broadcasting the faults of other people is fundamental to village life, and it is a primary motive for the revolt from the village that has been the dominant factor in small town life for a century. This process is why red states and population concentrations are rural and blue states and population areas are urban. The strategy of the town cafe gossips is not to assassinate character, but to erode it down by the constant wear of belittlement and patronization.

The denizens of the town cafes can't seem to grasp that their niggling assaults on personalities define the character of the town and are a big motive for moving away. Blogs tend to follow the discussion customs of the town cafes, and people with more generous attitudes towards others eventually avoid them. As for the new SDDP staff members, they should be reassured that the silence of Democratic blogs means that the people for whom they will be working will not pre-judge them and will let them begin their work free from clouds of prejudice and niggling fault-finding. What the other side thinks and discusses does not matter. They certainly are not wishing for Democratic victories.

That leads to the main point of discussion within the Democratic Party. That point is the war on Iraq. Despite the experience of Vietnam, our country has been bamboozled into a war that has no moral justification and no realistic objective. We went after dictatorial regimes of genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo and succeeded by maintaining the help of our allies and without the needless slaughter of our own troops and the massive killing of noncombatant civilians. Many Democrats think the war on Iraq is the moral lowpoint in the history of our country. They thought that the 2004 election campaign should have confronted the moral issue of this war--win or lose the election. The moral point lost its edge when people feared being labeled unpatriotic, soft on terror, and even treasonous. The salient record of the war on Iraq is not one of removing weapons of mass destruction, of subduing Al Qaeda, of implanting democracy, or of rebuilding an infrastructure that supports the people. It is a record of fabrications and bungles, war-profiteering, prisoner maltreatment, lives sacrificed to political expedients, and a betrayal of the trust of the American people.

Democrats who have tried to accommodate Republican motives and philosophies have found themselves mired in ignonomy. The Republican yammerings about what Democrats need to do are irrelevant and inane. Winning elections are not the issue. Keeping the world's last best hope alive is the task. And the regime in power is killing it. So let the new hires of the SDDP get to work on that task. If America's perceptions of the war continue to sharpen, we will win elections along the way.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


How to be a Democrat when the Democrats suck

That's the headline of a post by jgmallory over at TPM Cafe.

A lot us think that the Democrats have defected from their intellectual and moral principles to find peace in an earthworm colony. Or they let the Republican national trait, mindless belligerence, scare them into an endemic weakness of the bladders. So, we have lost some recent elections. Does that mean we should give up on America?

Then look at Gary Hart's take on the issue at Huffington Post. American democracy went out of fashion with the election of George W. You want it to be something more than a nostalgia item, you may have to do something other than make nice to the folks who think that by turning the c0untry over to oil companies, who they think will run the country better than the government ever did, we will save babies, keep ourselves secure from pissed-off Islamics, and establish Rush Limbaugh as mother superior of family values.

Oh, dear Democrats, if you think there is something in America worth saving, you had damn well better do something to save it . And that is find a little backbone.


Report from the booth at the fair: no mood for compromise

While politicians travel their home territories during the month of August on listening tours (who is covering Tom Daschle's old route, by the way?), we station ourselves at the booth at the Brown County Fair to do our major news gathering. There are people in the county we get the chance to talk to only at this time, as our schedules and lives keep us on different tracks.

Our chats are not just about politics. A Republican bratwurst connoiseur asked me yesterday if I knew where the Frohlings from Hecla had their food stand that served their award-winning brats. He explained that he and his friends liked to buy a bunch of brats and run over to the Clubhouse so they can eat them with the appropriate beverage, an ice-cold brew. And a woman asked me if my children had entries over at the bunny barn this year. I wish they were still at that age. My son is off at the marching band camp these steamy mornings and my younger daughter is fretting over a boy friend who is in basic training at Ft. Benning and is scheduled to be sent to Iraq by year's end. My oldest daughter is in Denver trying to get into some closed classes so that she can graduate from college next May. I long for the days when my job was to explain to them that bunnies make pellets and their job was to keep the water bottles and food dishes full so that the bunnies could make more pellets so that they could remove said pellets at frequent, regular intervals.

On the political front, the chats have an ominous quality. One booth worker reported that a man asked him how he could be a Democrat and call himself a Christian. The war on Iraq is an issue on which the sides are clearly hardening. Many people, particularly the elders who offer opinions at the booth, are frustrated that the Democrats have not resisted what they regard as a contrived and useless war with more resolve. They resent being played for fools with the argument that the war on Iraq is part of the war on terror resulting from 9/11, and they resent being told that the media reports only the bad news and none of the news about the rebuilding of Iraq's infrastructure and instituting democracy. The intensity of their resentments bodes some contentious and angry times to come.

The next most rancorous issue is abortion. The vast majority of people are opposed to abortion, but also opposed to taking away choices in the handling of problem pregnancies. The refrain that pro-choice people are participating in the mass execution of babies has had its effect. There is little mood on the choice side for accommodating the people who cast that accusation. Most people who stopped by the fair booth have abandoned the possibility that the conflict can be resolved through dialogue and compromise. The predominant attitude is not that they approve of abortion. It is how strongly they disapprove of those who label them baby-killers.

One woman said it is impossible to talk about these issues anymore. She said the nation is not only divided into camps, but those camps are hardening in preparation for a vicious fight in which politics will have no part.

One point where compromise and cooperation is working: Democrat Senator Jim Hundstad was soliciting signatures for Bill Napoli's effort to base property taxes on individual sales prices, not generalized evaluations of real estate property.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Culture Wars: the great American tradition

The term "culture wars" gained currency in 1979 with the publication of a book titled The Tribes of America by Paul Cowan. Its pre-publication chapters were the discussion topic for a month at the Sunday morning study sessions at a Lutheran Church attended by many of the professors and their families from the nearby Lutheran-affiliated college in Rock Island, Illinois. Theologians from a prominent seminary on the University of Chicago campus came to town to participate in the discussions. That's where I first heard the term "culture wars." The book was re-reviewed late last year in The Columbia Journalism Review.

Cowan, a writer for The Village Voice was getting restive over the smarm and pretentions of the super bourgeoisie that was camping out on the left. A story in West Virginia caught his attention. Some parents were battling their local school board over the selection of textbooks for their children. They blew up a wing of the school district office with dynamite, planted more bombs at schools, and took shots at school buses. They posted a sign regarding the text books that said "Jesus Wouldn't Have Read Them." [Poor Jesus. Does anyone in our age read, listen to, or know what he said?] Cowan went on a journalistic venture to find out just what the motives and stories were behind the insurgents in West Virginia in the early 1970s.

It was a story of class war. When "class war" is mentioned, writers gloss over the patronization and insult that motivates and results in the acts of actual violence. The story Cowan uncovered was one of presumptuous and snotty people imposing on people of economic and educational disadvantages the stuff that could lead to their inclusion in our "democratic melting pot." These presumptuous people were belittling the culture they looked down upon, imposing their bourgeois values on it, and, in the process, supplying reasons and motives for violent reactions against them. Umberto Eco would have termed them the bearers of the banners of neo-fascism. Well, he would have used the term "Ur-fascists." [When we get time, we will post our e-mail essay "Why we call some Republicans and Democrats fascists" and Eco's observations on this web log.]

Yes, we have self-inflating, ego-bound souls on the left who do not understand that patronization is, to use Hawthorne's term, "the unforgiveable sin." But, then if you dare venture into the blog prose on the other side, you are aware that liberals can lay only minor claim to the mantles of self-absorbed presumption. It is a bi-partisan trait. It does not have to do with actual class. It has to do with presumptions of superiority--which is the main thing my ancestors left the Old World to get away from.

The class wars, or culture wars, if you will, are not matters of Democratic and Republican beliefs, of liberal and conservative doctrines. They are matters of people throughout the political spectrum not understanding how their personal demeanor and displays of attitude cause animosity and seething anger that erupts into violence.

Before Democrats get all tied up in the role assigned them as combatants in the current form of culture wars, they would benefit from understanding where the term comes from and what facts and narratives define it. Then we need to find a Cowan (he died in 1988) to go to Iraq and see if the motives behind the IEDs are the same ones that blew up schools in West Virginia.

And then read The Beatitudes. Or does that suggestion foment more culture wars?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


You can do more things with wind than pee into it

Ethanol gasoline is selling for $2.50 a gallon--$3 in some parts of the country. Energy costs are up generally, and the prices of housing, food, and clothing are edging up. A major part of the added costs involve the energy used for transportation and manufacturing, but other factors are driving costs up, also. The profit statements from energy companies are phenomenal. Yet, people tend to believe there is nothing that can done. They accept the consolidation of the energy companies and the soaring prices as if it's a tsunami, an act of nature that cannot be controlled or influenced.

Instead of listening to the real conservationists of the past few decades, the people have dismissed people with energy plans that can make the country and individuals independent as tree huggers and prairie dog lovers. The fog of political rhetoric has obscured the serious issues about energy and the environment.

Other countries are far outdistancing the U.S. in the generation of electricity through wind turbines. Energy companies are organizing that source of electricity so that it must be distributed and controlled through their grids. While companies like Deere & Co. envision a network of individual farmers with wind turbines that feed into a cooperative grid, most of the rules and laws being passed to facilitate wind energy favor the corporations. In ecology (the study of the house) and economy (the management of the house), the principle is that the more producers you have, the more stability and dependability. We are down to three global megacorporations controlling the oil supply, and similar consolidations have been taking place with other energy companies.

We have already forgot Enron. But the mega-oil companies have not forgot OPEC, who keeps a floor on the price of crude oil by placing productions limits on it. If the manipulation of supplies works with crude, why not with the refined product? So, the oil corporations have not increased or updated their refining capacity and we know the result of this attempt not to meet the market when we go to the gas pump.

The new energy bill goes to great lengths to let the mega-corporations maintain control of energy. Numerous, independent producers of alternative energy are effectively ignored in the bill. Consquently, few people who could help make energy independent and inexpensive again are included in the scheme of things.

Farm organizations and cooperatives, which already have the organizational structure to lead a resurgence of farm-produced energy, are looking to corporations to lead the way, rather than launching their own ventures and marketing systems. They have also forgotten the lesson of the Non-Partisan League in the Dakotas when independent farmers banded together to put their lives in their own hands, rather than the hands of corporations.

In recent weeks, I have been traveling the Dakotas and find the defeatist attitude on the farms dismaying. Farmers have the attitude that their future depends on being part of the consolidated agriculture in which their operations will be managed from corporate offices.

This is one of the biggest political issues in the Dakotas, but I hear no real leadership in advancing proposals that revolutionize agriculture and the production and distribution of energy.

The Democrats seem too busy trying to reconcile their beliefs to red state dicta to focus on the possibilities for a new freedom from foreign and corporate domination.

Monday, August 15, 2005


A burning bi-partisan issue

Okay. Begin with the fact that I am a scholar of the English language. The origin of words and how they are used to name certain things are an important part of the profound work I do.

Something has bothered me for some time. El-spousarito and daughters have asked me to provide my perceptions when they venture out in jeans that may be too tight. They ask if the jeans fit, but they are really asking if the jeans are too tight and if certain topographical features are in evidence. My usual reply is, if you're worried about that, wear a %*$^ing skirt.

A certain term describes the feature that they are asking for evidence of. It came to mind today as I made my near-daily visit to The Onion. It occurs in one of their faux advertisements.

I realize that 9/11 has intruded Arab culture into the American lifestyle in ways that the bomb jockeys never imagined. I have also been a great observer of phenomena, natural and contrived. I am well versed in the making of metaphors and similes. I have visited zoos to make the necessary scientific observations to trace the root of this word. I am befuddled, I think. But this is a problem that needs the collective brain-power from both sides of the aisle.

Why is it called cameltoe? And who is responsible for naming it?


A little obstruction of the Bush anti-union efforts in the Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security, after more than two years of work on new workplace rules, may have to scrap the plan after a federal judge questioned whether it protects union and employee rights.

Union members in the Department of Homeland Security who were expecting the Bush administration to stick it to them in the shorts may have to wait a while before they get it. Click on the headline above for all the details in the Washington Post.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Is dropping out the way to become inconsequential?

We recently noted and sort of admitted to an inclination to drop out of the current political morass [No, Siblings, this is not the name of an exotic dancer.] rather than participate in its indignities. A loyal reader forwarded us a post from TPM Cafe and suggested we see if we can insert it into our morass.

NickDoe asks, "Are Some Voters Irrelevant and Proud of It?"

He writes:

By declaring their unwillingness to compromise and moderate some clearly unpopular views, they basically state they’ll only vote for candidates certain to lose. What politician will even bother with even a token gesture to court that vote? That makes their political relevancy zero. Nothing could be worse.

NickDoe makes a good point. We'll ponder it while we try to remove our head from the morass.


U.S. Lowers Sights on What Can Be Achieved in Iraq

A Washington Post story today states that the Whitehouse has abandoned its vision of Iraq as a model new democracy, as a country with a self-supporting oil industry, or as a society free of threatening security problems and economic oppression for a majority of its people.

Click the headline above for the full story.


The rinktums* are in bloom again

South Dakota gets bad press everyday. That's mostly because the press hires children as writers who should have been left behind. South Dakota, and North Dakota, too, are in the business of taking down rest area facilities along its highways without any thought about the fact that they are removing outlets of expression for natural-born hacks. Back when concrete vault facilities held places of prominence at rest areas along U.S. 12 near Webster, Bath, and Bowdle, the creative urges, among others, could be relieved with a stroke or two of graffiti on the walls. Now these budding anti-artists have no place to work except in the South Dakota media. The local newspaper hires more than its share.

After a few days of travel throughout the Dakotas, it was nice to be home on Sunday morning and sit down in a chair that is not moving to sip coffee and catch up on the news--until I opened up the Sunday paper. It gave me pangs of nostalgia for the illiteracies painted on the walls of those now-demolished vault toilets. At least the stupidity of those outhouse texts had some redeeming value in that they supplied reading matter at places where The New York Times was not usually available. And one knew that the inanities and nasties were permanently affixed to walls that would never invade the sanctity of one's automobile or home. I mean, one knew that until one opened the Aberdeen American News one Sunday morning.

For more than fifty years, I have worked as a "writing coach." For some reason, editors and managing editors sought me out when some writer turned in some problematic copy. At first, I took it as a compliment when a managing editor stopped by my desk and said, "David, would you have a few minutes to go over some copy with Anna Marie Snarltooth here?" Then I realized that they were shoving off on me one of the more odious jobs of being an editor. I discovered one of the facts of literate life: Incredibly stupid people have an identifying trait. They all think they know all about writing.

As an editor I learned that the best antidote for bad writing is to fire its authors. I moved on to teaching in college, and found myself immersed even more in attempts to provide corrective influences on bad writing. Even then, sometimes the only way to correct bad writing is to flunk bad writers--unless they have uncles on the Board of Regents.

That brings us back to the morning paper and the winners of the Anna Marie Snarltooth Awards for the day.

We have made posts in recent days about the anti-union attitude that faces workers in South Dakota. Today's paper had an otherwise decent story about the members of the stagehand's union that come up to the Brown County Fair and work the stages for the entertainment acts. Now, most people know that most unions are also trade guilds that transmit knowledge of their crafts through apprenticeships and grant full membership into the union only when the workers reach journeyman level and can be relied upon to perform with great competence and responsibility. Most people, except in South Dakota.

So in extolling the virtues of the stagehands who work the Brown County Fair, the writer wrote: "It doesn't matter to Gerlach [the fair manager] that they are union members."

We do applaud Mr. Gerlach's efforts at affirmative action, despite the fact that union members are known to stink when they sweat, and steal and cheat, and take unauthorized naps, and make sexual comments to other men's wives.

The next Anna Marie Snarltooth citation goes to the writer of today's editorial. It is on the No Child Left Behind Act. One remarkable aspect of the editorial is that it avoids mentioning any of the real problems involved in applying the provisions of NCLB, such as the massive fabrication of test scores and the soaring dropout rate in some school districts. The piece is a model for showing how to avoid anything cogent in 1,200 words or more. But this sentence says it all:

"In fact, the importance of raising these students to these uniform levels should be striven for at almost any cost."

And then there is a column about the columnist and her husband going to a movie at a time when no one else is in the theater. The couple takes advantage of the empty theater to occupy the choice seats smack-dab in the middle in front of the screen to get the full effects of sound and sight. Then, the author relates that three teen-agers came in and had the audacity to sit down right behind the couple. Said author then describes the histrionics she went through, such as glaring at the teens and shifting her stare to the many empty seats in the theater. Author says the teens did not get the hint. [May we humbly suggest that the teens may have thought she was having some kind of seizure?] Said author did say that the three teens caused no disruptions or distractions from the movie.

We have not, and will not, check the facts to determine if the teens paid for their tickets and, perhaps, thought it would be nice to sit smack-dab in front of the screen, too, as the occasion allowed? We have not, and will not, check to see if buying a movie ticket gives one the right to sit anywhere one damn pleases in a theater and there is no rule of decorum that says in an empty theater one shall not sit near anyone else. When tomcats don't want other cats invading their territory, they spray musk to mark it. However, theater owners may consider it an act of vandalism should movie-goers come early to the theater and spray their offenses about so that no one will sit near them. We won't check on that, either.

As Anna Marie Snarltooth said as we gave her the final paycheck and escorted her to the door: "You have to really work at it to write like I do."

Reading the newspaper on some Sunday mornings is like breathing the air when the rinktums* are in full bloom.

* See William Faulkner

Friday, August 12, 2005


Find the liberal town of your dreams

In our ever vigilant efforts to match people up with cities compatible with their political preferences, we print below the 25 most liberal and 25 most conservative cities. You can read the whole report and a lot of stuff that takes the fun out of it at the Bay Area Center for Voting Research. Hecla, South Dakota, came in as the 26th most liberal.

America’s 25 Most Liberal Cities
(in descending order)

1 Detroit, Michigan
2 Gary,Indiana
3 Berkeley ,California
4 Washington, D.C. Dist. of Columbia
5 Oakland, California
6 Inglewood, California
7 Newark,New Jersey
8 Cambridge, Massachusetts
9 San Francisco ,California
10 Flint, Michigan
11 Cleveland, Ohio
12 Hartford, Connecticut
13 Paterson, New Jersey
14 Baltimore, Maryland
15 New Haven, Connecticut
16 Seattle, Washington
17 Chicago, Illinois
18 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
19 Birmingham, Alabama
20 St. Louis, Missouri
21 New York, New York
22 Providence, Rhode Island
23 Minneapolis, Minnesota
24 Boston, Massachusetts
25 Buffalo, New York

America’s 25 Most Conservative Cities
(in descending order)

1 Provo, Utah
2 Lubbock, Texas
3 Abilene, Texas
4 Hialeah, Florida
5 Plano, Texas
6 Colorado Springs, Colorado
7 Gilbert, Arizona
8 Bakersfield, California
9 Lafayette, Louisiana
10 Orange, California
11 Escondido, California
12 Allentown, Pennsylvania
13 Mesa,Arizona
14 Arlington, Texas
15 Peoria, Arizona
16 Cape Coral, Florida
17 Garden Grove, California
18 Simi Valley, California
19 Corona, California
20 Clearwater, Florida
21 West Valley City, Utah
22 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
23 Overland Park, Kansas
24 Anchorage, Alaska
25 Huntington Beach, California


Abortion rights group withdraws anti-Roberts ad

Click the headline for a complete Washington Post account.


The culture wars come to the county auditors

Todd Epp changed his political party registration from Democrat to Independent. I have thought of doing it for some time, particularly since the 2004 election. We are by no means unique in our time. And it would not be the first time for me. I changed my registration when I came to South Dakota. In Illinois, I was a registered Republican. I identified with a faction of the party that referred to themselves as Lincoln Republicans. When I became old enough to vote, the party of segregation and oppression of minorities and of people in the lower economic categories was the Democratic Party. The Republican Party offered sound moral grounds for opposing it.

My parents were born 30-some years after Lincoln was assassinated. They grew up immersed in the politics of Abraham Lincoln, and they transmitted their deep admiration and appreciation of Lincoln to their children. They kept a bust of Lincoln on a lamp table in our living room.

The veneration of Lincoln is a deep and complex matter. The Lincoln Republicans were more a cultural group than a political one. There were Lincoln Democrats, too. Scholars from the small liberal arts colleges in the region, such as Knox College in Galesburg, Grinnell in Iowa, Augustana in Rock Island, Nothern Illinois in DeKalb (it is now a huge university) made the study of Lincoln and what he stood for a force in the region that could not be defined by party affiliation. During the 1950s and 1960s when the civil rights movement took form, the Republican Party that descended from Lincoln was the major intellectual force against segregation and racial and class oppression in that part of the world.

By 1964 when Barry Goldwater challenged Lyndon Johnson, the Republican Party in Illinois had been taken over by the industrial conservatives. During that campaign, the Illinois Manufacturers Association held rallies with its affiliated business groups that preached the message that if something was not done about "those people," they would take over the country. I lived in a heavily Democratic district with the laboring people who worked for the five manufacturers of agricultural equipment that had huge plants in the area. However, the district elected a Republican congressman, a graduate of Grinnell College, whose Lincoln-like philosophy pulled together the labor, farm, and small business vote. He saw the necessity for taking measured but definite steps in bridging the racial divide in the nation.

The congressman did one thing during his time in office that made him a target of the Republican hierarchy. He was on the House Judiciary Committee and voted to impeach Richard Nixon. The corporate Republicans never forgave him and worked to displace him. The district has had a Democratic congressman ever since.

That background provides some motive for my changing parties. The other motive was a speech by Bill Janklow that I heard on the car radio as I drove to South Dakota to begin a new job. From that speech, I realized that the Republican Party of South Dakota was not something for which I could have any intellectual or moral tolerance. At that time, a young congressman, Tom Daschle, represented an active opposition to the Republican policies for which I have thorough disapproval. The Brown County Democrats also had a history of leading the state in progressive politics. It was one of the few areas in the state that lent active support to the old Non-Partisan League's struggle to give control of Dakota politics to the people. There were other factors, such as Vietnam, also, and so I registered as a Democrat.

The old line Democrats in Brown County are getting thin in numbers. Their children, for the most part, have been part of the vast outmigration from this 14-county region that has led the nation in the numbers of people leaving the area. For people with a historical perspective, it is hard to miss the fact that the state is being taken over by that political philosophy of the railroad barons of old, of the grain dealers who ruled poltically from the state house in St. Paul, of the corporate schemers whose ways of doing business caused the massive failure of the agricultural economy in the mid-1980s.

The politcal party now in power is governing according to a play book that is cribbed straight out the writing of George Orwell. His descriptions of totalitarian regimes and their tactics have been replicated in our country. The Republicans are masters of electronic propaganda that conditions people to thinking that they will have security by giving up civil liberties, they have instituted an apparatus of surveillance that can monitor every citizen (but it can't be used to find bin Laden), and they have conditioned the majority to regard any expression of opposition to the commanding party as unpatriotic, even treason.

An aspect of the propagandic subversion of free thought and free speech is buried in the term "culture wars." We live in a time when liberalism is portrayed as the political vehicle of moral decay. Conservative America is replaying the game of Savonarola of the Renaissance, who gathered up all the books, paintings, and other cultural items in Florence and burned them in huge bonfires. He thought the culture of his time was subverting people away from the faith. The extreme rightwing has declared war on the liberal culture as the enemy of faith. Democrats are being lectured both from within and outside the Party that they need to reconnect with the faith and values of the red state people.

When Tom Daschle spoke on the Senate floor against the mindless rush into the war on Iraq, the Republican propaganda machine portrayed this as a lack of support of our troops, an emboldening of the enemy, and an obstruction to the forces of right. Democrats did not rise up to denounce the cheap and mindless propaganda ploy and expose the essential dishonesty of the Republican message. They cowered in fear that they would be regarded as unpatriotic as we plunged into what must be one of the most obscenely stupid wars in world history. They join the war-mongers in putting yellow decals on their cars to honor the troops who would be best honored by trying to prevent their slaughter from an Islamic furor that the war on Iraq created. We live in an age of Orwellian absurdity and the people seem too wimped down by false accusations and false patriotism to mount any kind of a resistance.

A majority of Americans now disapprove of the war. A majority do not think George Bush knows what he is doing or is good for the country. A majority is looking for a coherent plan of leadership that can lead us out of the demoralizing morass we find ourselves in. Republicans and ill-informed Democrats are trying to find compromises that will bring Democrats into the Republican fold without having to change parties. Some Democrats are buying the message that we have to follow the Republican lead in appealing to the red state voters. Other Democrats feel that such nonsense is a gross betrayal of the principles that they support the party to uphold.

The lines at the county auditors offices may be growing as Democrats withdraw their support from the party that is betraying them. But most people will not bother to stand in line. They simply will not vote. Why vote when no one on the ballot represents you? Time and effort is better spent looking for a place where America seems to be working in the way it was intended.

The Democratic Party may have lost elections, but it also seems to be losing its intellectual and moral reason for being. The fight is for freedom, equality, and justice for all. The Democrats are giving up that fight in order to make peace with those who portray, as Savonarola did, all liberalism as decadence.

Those Democrats who are so fearful of being called traitors and agitators for speaking up for our democratic principles should not expect much but contempt for their betrayals. Those who have not supported the people who have spoken out against the wash of totalitarianism closing over us under the name of War on Terror should not expect much sympathy for their loss of freedom, equality, and justice. The fighters for those qualities of democracy will be trying to bring democracy to America, not condemning fellow citizens to death in Iraq.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


This is another thing Democrat-affiliated organizations have to stop doing if they want to keep their base

During the 2004 campaign, we grew tiresome to many people with our constant refrain that Democrats need to rely on fact-checking and exposing rhetorical fallacies of the other side, and make damned sure Democrats do not commit the same propagandic sins. But the campaign advisers kept looking at what was winning elections and followed the Republican tactics that nearly unseated Tim Johnson and did unseat Max Cleland in Georgia. Well, some groups still are following that bad advice.

Jason Spitalnick, a second year law student at Harvard, has this post at TPM Cafe. Hey, Democrats, this kind of rhetorical shysterism is what we so soundly condemn in the other party. We vote for

NARAL Pro-choice America is running an anti-Roberts ad that accuses John Roberts of filing a brief in support of abortion clinic bombers., a non-partisan project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, claims “the ad is false.”

The key passage:

The ad uses the classic tactic of guilt by association, linking Roberts with "violent fringe groups" and a "convicted . . . bomber" because he made the same legal arguments as they did in the case. But, contrary to the ad's message, Roberts didn't argue in favor of them or their actions.”


Meditation for Labor Day: A great place to run a sweat shop, but a lousy place to work

Our local newspaper loves to run reports of those "surveys" by business magazines that rank South Dakota as having the best business climate in the U.S. Of course, the newspaper never addresses the question of why, then, more thriving businesses do not come to the state.

What is meant by a "good business climate" are precisely those factors that make the state a lousy place to work:

The anti-labor bias is one that shares bipartisan support. People in both major parties and the minor parties, too, do not think workers should have equity in their jobs or any voice about the terms of their employment. If you go through the legislative record of the many anti-labor provisions in the South Dakota Codified Laws, you will see that Democrats supported the measures with fervor equal to the Republicans. People in South Dakota identify with farmers, and while farmers supply the labor on their own farms, they think of themselves as managers. And they are. Often when they do have to hire things done, whether through private arrangement or contracts with custom services, they do not have good experiences with some of the people who come to work on their farms. The attitude they develop is that you have to watch hired workers every moment and tell them every move to make. It becomes a mindset: hired labor can't be trusted.

This mindset translates into law, eventually. But it goes further. Once it gets into the town cafe-like cloakrooms of Pierre, it gets translated into a criminal code. If laborers can't be trusted, they should not have rights. Someone should keep them on perpetual parole, the thinking goes. And it would be stupid to give them any kind of voice about the work they are hired to do. Instead, they should be forever grateful that they are allowed to live and that there are people who give them opportunities to earn a dollar here and there for their own upkeep. South Dakota has the lowest average wage in the nation.

This attitude does not just apply to the drivers for custom harvesters who take out farmers' gateposts with their combines and grain trucks. It applies to anyone who fits the role of employee, including people in professions and middle management positions. People in occupations that require extensive education and professional training are represented more and more in collective bargaining. That statement may seem to run counter to the decline in union membership, but engineers, teachers, professors, medical personnel, and researchers are moving into collective bargaining as a way to establish fairness in wages and adequacy of working conditions. Wal-Mart has launched a vigorous campaign to discourage its employees from organizing into unions because many employees are looking at the way a major competitor, Costco, treats its employees and they want that kind of system for themselves.

With the decline in overall membership, unions are experiencing turmoil among themselves. Old-style union tactics do not work very well today. Unions that represent educated workers in a global market need think tanks and information analysts to formulate policy and workable solutions. For example, there are no hard statistics on how much of the decline in union membership results from the elimination of jobs. People get fired and end up taking jobs where there is no union representation. In looking at the airline industry alone, we find that job elimination accounts for tens of thousands of jobs and union members lost. As people take lesser jobs, they will also be looking for collective bargaining representation that is more effective and innovative than what presided over their lost jobs. They are also looking for a union watchdog role on their pension funds. People who conclude that the factional disputes within the union movement are signs that it is faltering do not see the issues. Workers are looking for more powerful and effective unions that can deal with the contemporary job marketplace.

All this provides a context for South Dakota's 19th century labor laws. Some professional unions that provide job-listing services caution applicants about South Dakota. They point out the perennial low pay, sub-standard benefits, and work rules that do not include basic employee rights.

At times the struggle to obtain some reasonable equity for workers in South Dakota seems hopeless. One target that employee groups have worked for is binding arbitration. When contract negotitions reach an impasse for public employees, South Dakota law permits management to impose a contract. This happens often. Binding arbitration would require that conflicts in contract proposals be resolved by a third party. Instead, the management side can impose a contract that rejects and ignores any employee benefits. A case in point comes from the county commissions of Bon Homme and Kingsbury Counties.

These counties declared impasses in their negotiations with their unions, locals of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipals Employees. The law governing unions of public employees states that organized employees have the right to bargain wages and working conditions. The contracts imposed contained "management rights" provisions that took away any employee rights to engage in collective bargaining--the entire purpose of a union--and gave the counties total and arbitrary control over employees in statements that sound like definitions of slavery. The matter ended up in the state Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court rejected the imposition of the contract, but not on matters of the injustice of county commisions attempting to revoke rights that are given to employees by law. When a side in a negotiation rejects a contract, it is required to supply a rationale for doing so. Usually, the rationales are inadequate, but fit the definition in a superficial way. In this case, the rationales were too absurd even for South Dakota. The court opinion stated, "These statements lack any legitimate or precise rationale for the provisions desired." The Court noted that the requirement that both parties "negotiate in good faith" was a fluid and ambiguous statement. It said the law did not justify its addressing the concept that a right given by that law could be taken away by the management side of the negotiations by imposing a contract.

This is just one provision in a set of labor laws that reduces employees to the status of serfs who have no rights and no opportunity for justice in their roles as employees. Binding arbitration provisions, on which Democrats have taken a beating over the decades, might be a step toward creating a better workplace for people who work, but the entire set of laws has so many loopholes that it is a piece of legal Swiss cheese.

Why does South Dakota have such defective laws? The dominant party in the legislature represents constituents who do not want workers to have any rights. They want to keep South Dakota an "at will" state, which means employers have the right to do anything they damned well please. Democrats, with their rural mindset about hired help, have been tepid, at best, in their efforts. Only a few legislators see the problems in the current labor laws.

What no one examines is the impact that the laws and the attitudes have on the South Dakota workforce. The reason there is such a massive brain drain in South Dakota is because there are no jobs commensurate with the intelligence and education of high school and college graduates. The reason there are no such jobs is because the state openly caters to businesses that do not offer good jobs. The state thinks it is an achievement when it lands a company that offers $12-an-hour jobs. That is less than $25,000 a year. That salary is not a reason to stay in or come to South Dakota. Simple.

Another factor is that people who do take high-skill jobs in South Dakota engage in a constant search for better pay and better status, and use their South Dakota jobs as launching platforms to better opportunities elsewhere.

This Labor Day, it might pay not to offer smarmy tributes to the workforce. It would be more realistic to list the many reasons South Dakota is a lousy place to work for most people who must work for living.

{Here is the full link for the South Dakota Suppreme Court opinion issued June 15.}

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Didn't your mother ever tell you to go to your room if you want to do that?

Warning: If you are not patronizing and/or presumptuous, do not apply this to yourself.

One thing Democrats believe in is full and open discussion. They believe that for democracy to work, there has to be a process of gathering all the ideas and perspectives possible together and to forge from them policies and laws that deprive no one of freedom, equality, justice, and opportunity. Democrats adhere to the basic definition of liberalism: a belief in natural goodness of humankind and autonomy of the individual, in civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority. It also favors free intellectual inquiry and resists the imposition of dogma.

The old cliche is that sausage may be good, but you don't want to see how it's made. Democracy is often likened to sausage-making. Democrats tend to do their sausage making in the open. This complicates their political dialogues, because the kibitzers stand around making inane comments and offering incredibly stupid advice. On occasion, Democrats can be stupid enough by themselves; they don't need any help from the outside--however much more qualification and experience the kibitzers may bring to the task.

Democratic blogs of late have revealed some of the human frailties and problems that are involved in political lives. They have witnessed the breakup of a relationship with a record of accusations, recriminations, and an astounding incoherence. We have seen bloggers take down their sites because the of the climate of malevolence that incoherent and unprinicipled dialogue creates around them and their families. And we have learned of one prominent blogger taking a hiatus to deal with family matters that take priority--and Todd, as Democrats tend to be, was frank and open about the nature of those matters.

And here come the kibitzers. They offer fatuous advice on what the Democrats need to do. They trot out their inventory of platitudes and presumption, all delivered in the most patronizing of manners. No one ever told them that patronization is the most serious form of insult. Blogs need the intellectual equivalent of barf bags on airplanes for those who wander into the turbulence of their presumption.

Did it really never occur to them that

We realize that most punditry and blogging today is ego-based. It provides a means through which those who think their organs of intellectual procreation are so precious that they are moved to massage them in public. They constantly promote themselves as luminaries while casting dark clouds of self-service over the spectrum of ideas. And they constantly moan in orgies of self-adulation. And it never occurs to them that no one wants to be party to anyone's acts of self-gratification.

We fully believe that if internet dialogue is to be useful and productive, it must be done free from the spatters of self-inflated egos and stick as much as possible to the discussion of facts, critical ideas, and real solutions. We do not think that dirty politics is acceptable or workable because that is the way they have been done.

Yes, the Republicans have been winning. Yes, there are things we need to know and can learn from. But the issue is not to remodel the Democratic Party so that it betrays the liberal principles. Who wants to win an election by compromising away the freedom, the equality, and the justice that does not make race, creed, class, and sexual orientation a determining factor in its dispensation? Who wants to win elections by submitting to values that in the liberal view are oppressive and anti-democratic?

Over the years, we have noted that the country is dividing itself into liberal and conservative regions. Nothing rankles South Dakotans like the observation that some people find the state's political climate regressive and repressive. Their votes are cast with their feet. They move away. The question facing many Democrats is whether it is worth the fight to stay in South Dakota or if efforts in behalf of Democratic ideals are better invested elsewhere. In looking at the voter registration data in our neck of the prairie, we find this may well be the biggest issue. For people who think they can build better lives for themselves and their children by building a better democracy, mobility and finding a place that offers such a democracy is more vital than winning elections in South Dakota. And that is one of the problems Democrats are grappling with.

We wonder if the other side can offer any words of wisdom on this other than its usual: if you don't like it, leave it?

But, please, tell them to do the kibitzing in the privacy of their rooms.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Larry the Cable Guy and I apologize to Erin and the Hildebrand Boys

Larry the Cable Guy does a bit where he claims he has a brother who is stone deaf. The brother, Larry says, is a prolific song writer. He asks if the audience would like to hear one of his songs. And he then proceeds to deliver some tortured, tone-deaf, unarticulated sounds in imitation of a totally deaf person trying to vocalize.

When I saw this bit, my teen-age children were watching Larry on television. As a proper parent who dissuades children--and anyone else--from making fun of those with disadvantages, I tried to respond with stern indignation at Larry's poor taste and cruelty. But my hand covered my mouth in an attempt to hide an involuntary smile and suppress a laugh. When Larry looked down at the floor in mock humility and said, "I apologize" and then went through a liturgy of confession and a prayer for strength, there was no use in pretending not to laugh.

It was funny. It was funny because of the outlandishness of someone claiming creative talent in an area in which he has no ability whatever. It was funny because the joke harks back to our own adolescent years when good taste and sensitivity were not the standards on which we based our behavior. And it was funny because it struck at a ridiculousness that we proper adults may find amusing inside but would never respond to overtly.

We apologize. May the good lord accept our confessions of bad taste and give us strength not to repeat such laughter--until the next time. Here is our confession. It has to do with what has become known as the story of Erin and the Hildebrand Boys. We apologize for the smart-ass things we have said in e-mails and postings. We apologize for:

Suggesting that Todd Epp start a new blog called "Pandarus' Box." We apologize for the fact that unless you are a literary type who has read one of the many versions of Troilus and Cressida, the joke is lost.

Asking who owns the intellectual property rights to the threads on web logs, and pointing out that the Erin and Hildebrand Boys saga has the potential to move Desperate Housewives into the deep shadows of television obscurity.

Finding it funny that the threads among the participants are absolutely incoherent, and the longer they go on and the farther they spread out, the more incoherent they are. We apologize for suggesting that it proves what kind of story will be produced if an infinite number of monkeys are given an infinite number of typewriters and their work is assembled into some kind of opus.

Finding it hilarious that certain blogs are taking this up as some great revelation of political truth as they trot out their favorite cliches and propaganda slogans. We apologize for comparing them to Larry the Cable Guy's brother.

Making the comment about new bridges being built in Madison County. (A story set in Iowa, folks.)

Looking forward to new episodes that could put Deadwood on the cancellation list.

We apologize for laughing. But, damn, we needed it.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Throwing out the mullahs, and the violation of hospitality

With the exception of Northern Ireland, you don't hear about Christian terrorists. If anyone pays close attention to the Bible, there are proscriptions against doing bad things to innocent people. In the New Testament, there are proscriptions against doing bad things to people who are not innocent. The basic theological premise in Christianity is that it is wrong to do anything but nice things to other people. Christianity is by no means the only brand of theology that asserts that it is wrong to kill and hurt people.

When we use the term "Islamic" today, it is almost always followed by the word "terrorist." We Americans who are proud of the fact that people in our country are free to practice any religion they choose get in a bluster about "Islamic terrorists" and quickly follow up any use of the term with the disclaimer that the Muslim religion does not tolerate or advocate atrocities against other people. We like to believe that all religions, if practiced with integrity, promote beneficence toward others.

And we get very agitated and nervous when it is suggested that the current attacks by Islamics against the western world are a resurgence of the medieval Crusades. The hard fact that we are so anxious to avoid is that terrorism against the West and anyone else who pisses off the mullahs is advocated, organized, and perpetrated by Islamics under the justification of holy sanction. Gatherings of Muslim clerics who pronounce that their theology prohibits terrorist acts get blown aside by 9/11, the Madrid bombings, the London bus and subway bombings, and the daily carnage in Iraq. Islamic terrorism is just what Osama bin Laden and his followers and allies say it is: it is an Islamic campaign of atrocity against the west based upon the belief that the jihad is a sanctified mandate from Allah.

The British have had enough. Tony Blair has announced plans to deport and banish any people who come into Great Britain, take advantage of the freedoms and hospitality offered there, and teach and organize atrocities against the people. Sedition and the violence it preaches will not be tolerated. Anyone coming into the country to engage in those activities will be deported. Any congregation of people gathering for that purpose will be banned. One of the goals of the Islamic terrorism is to erode away the freedoms and privileges that western democracies enjoy. The Islamic terrorists have succeeded in forcing the west to consider the need to put limits on religious freedom. Government has been forced to intrude itself into what is being taught in mosques. And, of course, that raises concerns about what it will tolerate being taught in other churches.

The clerics who have come to America and England to preach mass murder and atrocity against their people have violated a rule that is shared by most religions and cultures: the rule of hospitality. In America the rule of hospitality is known in popular culture as the Cowboy Code or the Frontier Code. However, it is by no means limited to those circumstances. It is a tacit rule that requires hospitality to be offered to strangers. If someone offers hospitality for devious purposes, such as to harm or steal from a stranger, that person may be punished as the victims see fit. If a person who is provided hospitality abuses it to steal from or harm the host, the host may take measures of his/her choosing in retribution for the violation.

The Islamic terrorists have violated one of the basic foundations of human trust. They have betrayed those who have given them hospitalility and privileges. When deportation and the ban on groups that preach sedition and violence is examined from the standpoint of betrayal of hospitality and trust, they can be construed as protectors of those creeds and philosophies that value the rule of hospitality, which is, in fact, based upon concepts of equality, justice, and liberty.

The democratic West is being forced to adopt measures that it has avoided for good reasons. During the last election campaign, Sen. Daschle was accused by his opponents of giving comfort to the enemy and of being a traitor. He was pictured in one newspaper ad along with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. People who oppose the slaughter of our troops by improvised explosive devices and attacks by insurgents are called unpatriotic and allies of the terrorists. Once a country adopts measures that can take actions against its betrayers, then people get busy applying the labels of betrayers to anyone they disagree with. But if the rule of hospitality, not the expression of dissent, is made the touchstone for dealing with the violators, the basic concept of respect and dignity in the spirit of equality, justice, and liberty is not in as much danger.

But we have a powerful strain of intolerance for disagreement in our political system. The charges of treason and sedition are likely to be made again, should our country adopt measures against those who preach and organize for the destruction of our country. The British scheme of deportation of those who violate their hospitality is a solution that seems like a necessary one at this time. And it does limit its focus to outsiders who come in to violate the sanctity of hospitality.

We live in dangerous times. The biggest danger is that our reaction to terrorism can set up the conditions of our own demise. Not everybody subscribes to the code of decency expressed in the rule of hospitality.


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