Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Flag is Out Today

This is another older post, originally published July 4, 2007, while I am on sebbatical until the Inauguration.

The art work at right is from and is a great visual representation of our two national symbols. Kudos to the artist.

When I was a lad, my family never flew the flag. I suppose that was because of the war that had just ended and our German heritage. Rather than flying the flag, my father sent CARE packages to our relatives in Heilbronn and Koblenz, both heavily bombed cities.

Just yesterday my daughter in Cleveland called and told me that they bought a flag for their new home, "Just like you and mom did," she said. Our son in Toledo flies the flag too.

I flew the flag right after 9-11 day and night, feeling the pride of community, as all Americans joined together in common grief and shock. Flag-waving.

As I recall, we put our flag away during the Nixon Watergate scandal, not unveiling it until Ford took office. In the run-up to George Bush's attack on Iraq my flag remained inside my garage. I did not want to think that I was caught up in that zealous patriotic fever that swept across this land initiated by "WMD's" and "Mushroom Clouds." I could see right through that propaganda bunk. Emerson's famous line tempered my enthusiasm: "When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart."

Our hearts have not been pure and neither our hands. Patriotic fever allowed many here in America to be duped by the propaganda spewing from the White House into their living rooms, unfiltered by thoughtful and wise members of the media. Thomas Jefferson warned in 1787, "...were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

America is paying the price for wild patriotic fever: 3,500 dead military men and women and 30,000 wounded. Three-quarters of a trillion tax-payer dollars down the drain [and into the coffers of Halliburton.] Why were we so badly duped? Why did so many fall for the propaganda? Had it been to long since we learned the lessons of the German people in 1939?

The eagle as our national symbol ought to be studied more closely. She is powerful yet cautious. She observes well and is prudent in her actions and seldom misses her target. The recent actions of our nation are more akin to a pigeon than an eagle.

My flag hangs out today. Not in some knee-jerk patriotic reflex. Rather, as a symbol of what this nation could and ought to be. It is not a symbol of warmongering, but of hope. Emma Lazarus' famous words, "Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Lady Liberty in the New York harbor holds a torch, not a gun. A torch to light the way, to welcome those for whom 'liberty' is only a dream.

My flag is out today.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Reprise:Lee Iacocca: Where have all of the Leaders Gone? Part 1

Originally posted in June 2007:

On Father's Day, my daughter gave me a copy of Lee Iacocca's new book, Where have all of the Leaders Gone? This Border's link gives some excerpts from the book. My daughter shares my anger with the current administration in DC; she and I, along with my wife and son, are very worried about our Democracy. Something has gone terribly wrong. My children worry about my grandchildren as do I: they know that, unless something drastic happens, the America that they grew up in will be only a memory. WE, as a people, are in terrible trouble.

Mr. Iacocca is also a grandfather and in the introduction to the book, he says what others have suggested to me.

My friends tell me to calm down. They say, "Lee, you're eighty-two years old. Leave the rage to the young people." I'd love to—as soon as I can pry them away from their iPods for five seconds and get them to pay attention. I'm going to speak up because it's my patriotic duty. I think people will listen to me. They say I have a reputation as a straight shooter. So I'll tell you how I see it, and it's not pretty, but at least it's real. I'm hoping to strike a nerve in those young folks who say they don't vote because they don't trust politicians to represent their interests. Hey, America, wake up. These guys work for us.

Exactly. I've been saying that for years. My family and friends and I understand the cry, 'Wake UP America!' I am one lone voice, but Mr. Iacocca voice adds thunder to our message. Perhaps after reading the book, other voices will be raised in anger and patriotic fervor.

I am going to discuss the salient points of the book as I read it. This morning I'm on page 35, but what a powerful 35 pages! The man knows the problem and tells it like it is. Here's his opening volley to set the stage:

Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."

There it is. Clear enough? By the way, where IS the outrage? Where are the hordes of people in the streets with signs shouting? Not in Toledo. Well, a handful each Sunday at least. The Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition continues its patriotic protest every Sunday since 9-11, urging the citizens passing by to raise their voices in protest, in protest against the war and in protest against the fascist government now running our nation. Some passers-by honk and wave, and there is an occasional middle finger salute by some right-wing punk. This is a great improvement over the 'reaction' they received at the onset of Bush's War on Iraq. Fingers, spit, and hateful remarks greeted these same people then. They were called 'unpatriotic communists' by many passers-by. Not so much these days. Folks have wised up some.

So where's the outrage?

Are we sheeple? Have we been drugged? Thoroughly propagandized? Or don't we realize what is happening to us?

Some of each, I suspect. It's the frog in the pot. You know the old story: if a frog is put into a pot of cold water, it will stay there as the water heats up because it can't detect the difference in temperature. It gets cooked.

Middle America is being cooked, slowly cooked. And, like the frog, most don't know that the pot we are in is being heated. The frog never jumps out; we can.

Gasoline is $3 a gallon; milk is $3.59. Americans still buy both as if there was no other choice. Sheeple. Many are still 'buying' the War in Iraq as a war on terror. Propaganda. Our wires are tapped, our civil rights are taken away, our nation tortures and we keep on watching Dancing With the Stars.

We spend a billion dollars every two days in Iraq, but can't fund our neighborhood schools. Our states are choking on debt, yet Congress doles out money as if it were candy to corporations for political payback. Congress would rather tussle with gay marriage and stem cells than alternative energy research and environmental stabilization. Health care reform? Of course not. Building a fence on our southern border is more important and so this week, Congress will use up one of its precious weeks discussing that rather than the public health of its citizens.

And the American people watch the ball game and eat themselves into obesity.

What will it take to awaken the citizens? Will the 'pot' need to get steamy before they wake up and jump out?

Or will their obesity weigh them down so much that they can't escape?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reprise:Master Mural Painter and Urban Artist

A post from June 2007 revisited while I'm on sabbatical.

An old mall in Niagara NY before Eric Grohe was commissioned to enliven it.

Below is the same wall.

He and his wife Kathy transform plain, drab walls into works of air. Here is Eric 30 feet above the ground, working on another wall.

Grohe, 62, is a gentleman. Born in New York City, he served a tour of duty in Vietnam and eventually made Seattle his home — more or less. Most of the couple’s time is spent on public projects throughout the United States, and as far away as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Below is the before and

after photo of the same wall.

The wall is flat, but through his

artistry, it appears to be 3-D.

You can read more about Eric and his wife on their website

Click on the 'Projects' link to see other pieces he has created, including one in Bucyrus, Steubenville, and Massilon Ohio.
Here is a cement block wall in Bucyrus.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reprise: Reason Magazine: The Aquarians & the Evangelicals

Here is  another old post [June '07] while I am on sabbatical until the Inauguration.

The July cover of Reason Magazine portrays an image of Jesus behind a tie-died shirt, opening the discussion: did left-wing hippies and right-wing fundamentalists create the Libertarian Party?

It is an interesting read and gives some solid arguments that the far-left and far-right in the American political spectrum cancelled each other out and made room for the middle-thinking libertarians.

The author, Brink Lindsay, is from the CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank. Lindsay makes an interesting comparison regarding 'religion' which strikes me as sensible. He argues that the so-called Hippies, Peaceniks, Environmentalists, and Civil Rights Workers on the 'Aquarian' end were just as religious and zealous as the Fundamentalists on the right. The difference is only in interpretation.

He could be right. Fundamentalists and Pentecostals, now preferring to be called Evangelicals, hold to a belief system based on God, Jesus and the Bible. Yet the Aquarians also cling to a belief system just as arduously, without the interjection of a Deity and a book of writings. it all depends on the meaning of 'religion.'

How libertarian ideals will become recognized in the grand political arena is another question altogether. A third party in American politics never does well. Is this the year for such? Who will run in local and state elections on the 'libertarian' ticket?

Questions to be addressed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Reprise: Star of Wonder: What is Truth?

As I am on a self-imposed hiatus until after the inauguration, I thought I might republish some pieces from the past. We have, in fact, received our first Christmas cards and, indeed, the 'star' appeared thereupon...

[originally posted Dec. 2, 2007]

Star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright, Westward leading, still proceeding...

No doubt we will receive several Christmas cards this season with the famous Star of Bethlehem scene, based on Matthew 2:1-11.

Today's bible study scriptural reading is from John 8: 25-47 which has the famous quote from Pilate, 'What is Truth?' during the supposed conversation between Jesus and the Roman governor of Judaea.

The Sadducees ruling the Temple at that time were quite the literalists, basing much of their interpretation of the Law in Leviticus. They often clashed with the Pharisees in which law to follow. The classic example of this difference between the two is in the adage, 'An eye for an eye...' The Sadducees demanded an actual eye-plucking. The two disagreed about resurrection as well.

Enter the modern-day Christian who may ask, 'What is truth?' or 'what is the truth?' The fundamentalists hold fast to the literalness of the Bible, rejecting any suggestion of myth or other literary styles which may call into question actual events. The 'truth' however becomes very fuzzy at this time of the church year.

Of the five major canonical New Testament writers, just two write of the birth of Jesus and each story differs greatly. Only Matthew mentions the star. So today's Christian must ask, 'was the star literal or figurative?' What is the truth? Are we more Sadducee or Pharisee?

We will forgive the Greek scholar who spoke of the star in the East leading the wise men of the East as they travelled west. Yet we cannot be so generous with this part of Matthew: "and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was." That little tin star that we hang above the manger scene is appropriate in size according to this text. Only this size 'star' could pinpoint the particular spot as accurately as the GPS does today. Were it an actual star or comet, it would illuminate the entire continent.

Thus, today, we are left with that same question that Pilate supposedly asked regarding 'truth.'

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