Blogs ... 2007

11-17-2007 The rich get richer. Tom Perkins is a reason for revolution.

He was born in 1932 so by now he should know better, but he doesn't and that is for sure. M.I.T. should delete him from the roster of "distinguished alumni." Like his giant yacht, The Maltese Falcon, he leaves a wake of distaste in the waters behind. Epitomizing entrepreneurship and capitalism at its worst, he does not apologize for a $100 million-plus (some say $300 million-plus) personal yacht, the largest ever built. Three masts, each weighing 26 tons. 289 feet long. It can be sailed efficiently by one person, but has a permanent crew of 18 for all the amenities. A statement of astounding self-indulgence.

He made his money in venture capital which basically either takes over companies and sucks them dry or encourages others to do the same. The robber barons of the 19th century were small potatoes to this guy. Those ancients simply exploited the work of impoverished laborers and held them in a sort of servitude that increased profits; or they did that plus they built criminal monopolies that forced prices up and stole the savings and futures of many, many helpless victims. Like the barbarians of old these new robber barons use brute force (make no mistake), cunning, and hyper on-steroid "competitiveness" to make money from others and then live in extravangant ostenstaciousness for all to see. Acquisitions like the Maltese Falcon are merely symbols of their self-perceived superiortiy and instruments of display avariciousness. Astor, Carnegie, Cooke, Drew, Gates, Morgan, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt ... all did things that live on, to be sure. The buildings , instututions, and charities that bear their names survive long after the bouncing rubble of their means to their ends has been bull-dozered under and parks built over the lives they ruined, the futures they dashed. Antitrust legislation created a mere pause in the onslaught of the coming epochal greed of our time, the tornado of capitalism which, at its Adam Smith core, mirrored the promise of democracy in the 1700's. But who knew that not only would the rapacious avarice of these solipsists overwhelm even history's and humanity's greatest hope of some day setting free the universal spirit of equality and liberty? These "concepts" are swept aside as mere flotsam in the passage of these ego-behemoths now roaming the Earth.

Perhaps there is, some say, no hope to ever alter this dark side of human life. But I still hope there is.

There are still (thank heavens) two kinds of people: those who put themselves first and those who put others first. It is the prayer, the fervent desire of all of the later, that some day all of the former will see the light and in the illumination that all selfish greed and aggressive avarice will go the way of other species- destructive perversions: all reasonable people distesting them. Because in the end that is what the Tom Perkins of the world want the most ... other people's envy. When we detest wanton wealth and greed without an ounce of envy, then the poet's dream will be finally be realized: "An honest man is the noblest work of God."

7/4: Why Americans wanting the war to end immediately IS the ultimate patriotism.

Patriotism is synonymous with questioning authority and the habit of questioning authority even when they are absolutely right is so essential to democracy that the more the better. When a leader says that someone who questions his policy is

"not supporting the troops" it's ironic inversion of the plainest sort. Leaders who do not want to be questioned should be questioned more than ever. Far from casting shadows on the flag, those who doubt and worry about our nation's path are the sunlight of our freedom and those leaders who cast aspersions are the storm clouds warning of more bad on the way. It's one thing to festoon your car with flags and bunting and drive waving through the streets, and another to insist that that austentacious show of nationalism, the downfall of mankind over the years, is what everyone who is "patriotic" must do. I have a friend who will not discuss his time in uniform. If you didn't know him you would never know. He says it his way of honoring them, and I know what he means. Those pressed-white and crisp-green popinjays who strut and fret on the stage are perhaps also bearing their gifts of gratitude to the dirty fallen dead in heaps, covered in blood and cordite and the dust of history after history, but somehow I doubt it. The glorification of war is a slippery slope, and trying to get a purchase in the slime are many who are going down and down. To say these young men died for something is not to say they did not die uselessly. For in the end there is always another war is there not? And if war after war comes marching down main street leaving our best buried in the back graveyard then what has been won but a moment and another speech of victory with greater and greater disaster and more speeches ready to spew? If you don't want the war to end immediately then you are insane or a politician on the make. If you don't speak up and question those deaths for obviously nothing long term and dubious things in the short term to say the least, when life could have gone on with babies and houses to buy and lawns to mow even with the enemy lurking on the edges of our imaginations or even in reality for there is always another enemy is there not? To those who question this historic fallacy no matter how beautifully and neatly wrapped it is thrown over us I say, "Happy Independence Day to you!" It's not the Fourth of July, that's just a day like the Fifth of July, but rather today is Independence Day and let's include, at least, in our celebrations those who actually have a little independence in them. Let's include the Cindy Sheehans and the Michael Moore's and even those who don't always speak out but always do think independently. It used to be the spirit of America, independent thinking; it used to be the American way. It used to be the gateway to the American dream. I suppose, though, it depends on where you want to go.

6/12: Paris Hilton is America's Princess Diana. She was born February 17, 1981. She was born July 1, 1961. She is unmarried and in jail. She was married and in jail, and is now dead. She was born really rich. And she was also born really rich. Paris rose to fame by hanging out with the wrong guy and via a home-made sex film that was leaked by her ex-boyfriend for money. Diana rose to fame by marrying the heir to the British throne, which for her was a lot like hanging out with the wrong guy, too. Paris became an mainstream actress in an extremely popular reality sitcom, The Simple Life and then in a popular horror movie, House of Wax. She also released an album that did well, Paris. Diana spent most of her adult life within the confines of the British aristocracy. Once her two sons, William and Harry, were established she campaigned against land mines and to help AIDS victims. Diana represented the hushed-denial of the British people with her outward grace and sophistication and, as well, with her deep inner turmoil and dissatisfaction. Paris is a perfect manifestation of America's psyche: selfish, indulgent, basically good, confused and clueless, capricious and vulgar, innocent and directionless. Diana was killed being chased by her demons. Paris is in prison, manacled by her demons. The British empire died being chased to ground by the very demons it created. America is held hostage by the demons we indulge. What clearer statement could possibly be made than Paris Hilton is our Diana. We should embrace it. Paris is crying in prison and some of us callously say, "F--- her!" Some of us see a sadness that needs consoling and direction, friendship if you will. Americans are of two colors, to be sure: red for anger and aggression; blue for forgiveness and compassion. Paris extravagantly evokes both colors explosively, as also most certainly did the hapless Diana Frances Spencer who lies in her grave. When Britain fully understands what the life and death of Diana really meant, and atones for it, the British flag will again wave inspiringly for all freedom-loving people. When America understands what Paris Whitney Hilton really is, and what her life and times could really mean for our nation, when we see the opportunity, not just the excess and wasteful foolishness, then as a nation we may actually begin to address the issues that are derailing us. To let Diana fade out of memory in her grave would be a loss of golden opportunity. To allow Paris to fade out memory in her grave of avarice and irresponsibility would also be a loss of golden opportunity. When we realize that we are ALL in this together and rise and fall, live and die, laugh and cry ALL together, then and only then will we begin to fulfill the promise of each human birth. Criticizing, condemning, dividing, denouncing and all the other ways of saying "I am better than you," will never, ever make it true. We are one. We are the world. We are Diana and Paris. We were all in that car in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel and we were all in the sex film, One Night in Paris. We are all lying in the grave on the Oval of Althorp Park's garden near Great Brington and we are all in the Men's Central Jail of the Twin Towers Correction Facility in Los Angeles. When we truly understand that, Diana and Paris will both be free, and so we will we.

5/1/07: Should George W. Bush be impeached? Secret spying, deceptions in leading the nation to war, reckless indifference to the lives and welfare of American troops, torture violations, violations of International law, holding prisoners without formal charges or legal representation, illegal use of public funds for political purposes, negligence in response to Katrina, contempt for the U.S. Constitution, war crimes ... these are all impeachable offenses if proven. Impeachment is the act of calling someone's honesty and credibility into question, as in "impeaching the testimony of a witness." It's also the constitutional process whereby the House of Representatives may "impeach" charge or accuse federal government officials of misconduct which may or may not involve criminal wrongdoing. The Senate then convicts or acquits the impeached official. What exactly is a "high crime or misdemeanor" -- the grounds for impeachment as provided in the US Constitution? This is a subject open to interpretation. There are two schools of thought. Bush is impeachable under either formulation. The first is that a High Crime was a term describing crime committed by a person in high office, not a "serious crime." A misdemeanor is literally any wrongful, unethical act -- even if not a crime. The second view holds that the founders reserved impeachment only for the most serious misconduct while in office. Bush's established pattern of abuses of power and perjury in matters domestic and war-related constitute serious misconduct in the office of the presidency. So, yes, he should be impeached.

Will Bush be impeached? There are a number of ways this could easily happen: (1) by charges made on the floor by a member of the House (Dennis Kucinich has already done this in an initial way); (2) by charges preferred by a memorial filed by a House member; (3) by charges contained in a Resolution introduced by a House member; (4) by a message from the President (this is unlikely to occur); (5) by charges transmitted by a State legislature (Vermont, Illinois, and California are already doing this), or a grand jury; and (6) by facts developed and reported by an investigating committee of the House. So, with 639 days (as of today) left in his term, it is likely that George Bush will actually be impeached by the House of Representatives.

Will Bush's impeachment result in his removal? The Senate decides by a two-thirds vote with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding. The removal of President Bush from office after impeachment by the House is, at this time, highly unlikely.

So, in the end it comes back to the voters. We elected him (well not me, but the "we" of the voters of America). In a democracy we always get the leaders we deserve, so with that in mind, removing President Bush (in the timetable of impeachment) just months before he is out of office anyway would in no way be as palpable a punishment to the Republicans as a rout at the voting booth would be. If George Bush's legacy is the lost of both houses of Congress, the White House, and the rebuilding of a fair Supreme Court, all because of his total failure, then that would be a result to hope and work for.

It will be a lot of work, but, America, you're worth it.

4/18/07: Virginia Tech -- Why and How. The two questions, How? and Why? need both to be answered but they never really are. Like scientists who can explain birth once it shows up but are lost in the mystery of what causes it -- its genesis -- we look at Virgina Tech and see all the easy answers. He was a loner, but so are many others. He wrote a lot of scary things, but so do many others, some earning millions and millions. He blamed others for his shortcomings, but so do you and I, at least sometimes. And, then when all else fails, we say "He was a crazy person," and so it is, he was. But there are many others, are there not? So what is it that makes one person kill 32 others in methodical callousness and so many others just limp along in quiet desperation harmlessly? Well, for me it's the complete loss of faith. Or, in contemporary terms, giving up. Cho Seung-Hui fatally gave up. Giving up is now the modern definition of insanity. In a world of options innumerable, and where it can always get worse, giving up can generate immediately violent events, sometimes of shocking proportions. It used to be that a person who kept doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different result was deemed the definition of insanity, but now that cycle of ineffectiveness seems brightly lucid in a dark-side world of astounding self-destructiveness. It's not enough to just commit suicide today, one must go out with a bang or it's meaningless, apparently. And in our world of season-finales, what would you have thought would happen? In a world of 15-minute fame, why not grab yours on the way out? You're going anyway. Who the hell cares? But all of that is in the "how" portion of the two-questions-that-need-be-answered formula of the socio-forensic equation that in turn needs to be finally puzzled out. The "why" portion, where "x" equals something, is like the lepers of old, or AIDS, or Darfur or all of the "untouchables" of our world. Look away, look away, look away Dixieland.

The truth of course is that there is an answer "why?" But we won't and don't like it. Like a chain with a flawed link, we are only as strong as the Cho Seung-Hui's among us. Until we come to grips with that there are no prisons big enough and strong enough to hold us. There are no quiet colleges too beautiful enough to be immune. No election will be honest and no marriage will be safe until we come to the realization that we really are, always have been and forever will be in this together. Until we care more about helping others than helping ourselves or punishing others; until we see that conceit and superiority are harbors of the deepest disease known to mankind; and until we realize that our only possible reason to exist is to help one and other without judgment and condemnation, without fear, that giving is not only more blessed than receiving it is the only way we ever move forward, and finally -- and this is the hardest of all -- that loving is giving, not taking, then and only then will the literal and figurative massacres of humanity finally cease. In the words of the old song, written by Sy Miller and Bill Jackson:

Let There Be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me.
Let There Be Peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be!
With Love as our guide, brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now.
With ev'ry breath I take, let this be my solemn vow;
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally!
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!

The implications of forgiveness and unselfish love as a world organizing system may now seem a fantstic flight of fancy, but try it in your own life today, in the next few seconds, and witness the wonders of the world that suddenly unfold like a child's dream in front of you -- almost like magic. Give unselfish love without expectation and stand in awe of a world you may only have dreamed of. Then tell me ... Why? Like a student who solves the alegbra equation at the blackboard, the answer now obvious, you will see the world that never was and now you know why and how.

3/28/07: Pat Tillman and America. He was born on November 6, 1976 and died on April 22, 2004. He was a professional football player at the time he volunteered to go to Iraq and fight to avenge 9/11. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 2002, just eight months after the attack on the World Trade Towers. Both Pat and his brother Kevin enlisted. In 2003 both brothers were part of the invasion of Iraq. Past was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. But, authorities made up a story about how he was killed in action and for a while Tillman became a national hero as we were all astonished that he gave up a multi-million dollar career in the NFL only to be killed in war. We were bewildered by this. But as it turned out, we were lied to and, worse, his family was lied to. He was actually killed by "friendly fire," and, again, even at the first lie was discovered, the authorities lied again. They belatedly assented that he was killed by friendly fire, yes, but that the situation was greatly aggravated by the intensity of the ensuing firefight and the "smoke of war." Well, that was wrong as well of course. There was actually no hostiles present and two allied groups were firing ignorantly at each other in confusion. This is a sad story. But what if it is really an analogy of a much bigger, much sadder story? Imagine what it must have been like to have been fooled into a patriotic fervor, and then riding the wave of that you rushed into war? You believed it all. Then you went through the learning about war and then saw it all in an aggression unmatched in our history. And then what must it have been like to have lost everything there in a battle that meant nothing at all?

America is still going through the exact same experience. We were whipped up, we bought it all, we voted for it, we watched and learned and now we are still in the battle that never needed to happen but will bring disaster and more disaster upon us, wrought not by some enemy, but wrought by ourselves. We killed Pat Tillman and over 3,100 others, we have maimed 24,000 plus of our young men and women, and mentally destroyed many others. We have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and displaced countless families, destroyed countless homes. And for what? In Vietnam we lost 58,253. Today the same regime we fought in those days is running Vietnam but our State Department recommends that country as the number one tourist and commercial development destination for Americans and U.S. business. The same regime is still in power.

We are all Pat Tillmans now. Dead in the dust of our government's lies. I know that's hard to hear. But as a Vietnam Veteran, I believe that still the truth should be said no matter how hard it is to hear. They may still bend us to their will with new crises and emergencies caused by "the enemy," even now this is happening. But when will we turn a deaf ear. Pat Tillman can't hear them anymore. The government doesn't care about him anymore either. When America was founded the government was to serve the people and not the way we serve hamburgers at a barbecue either. It was meant to serve the way Pat Tillman served our nation. If only our leaders could learn to be more like Pat. His legacy is not about dying uselessly, it's about putting others first, self-sacrifice and undoubtable courage. That this nation wasted all he offered us, that is the tragedy and the travesty. That they tried to hide their duplicity, that is the crime. That we let them continue to do it, that is the treason.

3/25/07: Gratitude: Imagine that other people see the good in you. Think of the clothes in your closet. Think of friends who have been like family to you. Think of the kindness you have seen people do for others. Think of the Internet. Think of the feeling you get when you pick a perfect present for someone. Think of waking up to the ground covered in white, fluffy snow. Think of flowers. Think of a warm crackling fire on a wintry night. Think of warm cookies. Think of people who trust you. Think of the family member who always takes pictures at holidays and gives you prints. Think of all the things you can do with your hands. Think of a star-filled night sky. Think of remembering your grandmother. Think of taking a nap. Think of all the gifts you have received. Think of our soldiers and how hard they try. Think of babies joining us. Think of a stranger who gives you perfect directions when you're lost. Think of someone who warms up your car for your. Think of a great haircut. Think of a friend who confides in you. Think of your mom's best recipe. Think of being home for the holidays. Think of your faith in prayer.

2/8/07: The War of the Worlds. There are two. The first world is people living. The second world is governments and religions. In the first world freedom is everything. In the second world restricting freedom is everything. In the first world getting along is everything. In the second world not getting along, fostering prejudice, elitism and hatred are everything. In history the bridge over this anthropological ethnographical dichotomy has only been achieved interpersonally and relationally, that is person to person. In Soviet Russia it was called samizdat, which was a group of intellectuals publishing works beneath the totalitarian shroud. And samizdat, in myriad forms and incarnations, has always and will always exist. It's the species-manifestation of thinking for one's self. No matter how they try, so far anyway, we are still free within our own thoughts. One new high velocity freedom accelerant that has appeared in the first world since around 1995 is driving the second world crazy go nuts. The Internet. Every element of the second world is working on attempting to control it. And every element of the first world is working on all cylinders to set it more and more on a course of total uncontrollability. Which world will win? In 1995 there were quickly 16 million users. (In future histories these people will be called the pioneers.) As of December 2006 there were 1.093 billion users. That's a swift (though somehow disappointing) movement from .4 percent of the world's population to 16.6 percent of the world's population. But, to be more exact those percentages are of the first world's population. 100% of the second world's population are Internet-active. I didn't use the term "Internet users" for the second world because "user" in true Internet language means one who adds to the Internet. Second world users are active on the Internet for reasons other than to "merely" add. Another interesting inside fact about this using statistic is that while the first world usage has grown by over 1600 percent, the active participants in the second probably has remained pretty static. There are not really very many new governments or religions being formed, especially in the last ten or so years. Changes occur to be sure, but nothing significant in the number of individuals involved in the "leadership" of the second world. The population of the second world has declined over that period despite the best efforts of that leadership. And by "best efforts" I mean war, censorship, repression, hate-mongering and executions (mass and individual), which, sadly are the ony tools they use. The first world, despite setbacks, seems irrepressible in the long run. That's really good news. If you've read this far I wonder which world you are in. First worlders are probably too busy to read the 462 words so far to this point. And if you are a second worlder, I wonder if you are longing for something better, something nicer, something more loving. On the other hand you could easily be a first worlder free and happy with the time to enjoy your life as life was meant to be. Again, it's a dichotomy. No overlap, you know. And it's just a matter of free choice no matter what they tell you. With no change in speed of growth, 68.9 percent of the first world will be accessing the Internet in another ten years. But that is absolutely inaccurate. The Internet is learning, and like all living things, as it learns it keeps learning faster and faster. And the accelerant mentioned above may not actually be the Internet itself, although it looks like it at first glance. The Internet is us. So, the accelerant is also us. As more and more join, the speed will increase. When will it reach 100 percent? A friend of mine working in the Peace Corps on remote island in Fiji was involved in an accident. Peace Corps volunteers with satellite access used it to save her life. Natives were watching the screens and looking at the video cell phones. My guess is that awareness of the Internet is already nearing 100 percent of all people alive (and, incidentally, more than half of all the people who have ever lived are still alive today). The spread of the Internet has already won the war of the worlds, but like all successful invasions winning the peace is always the hardest part.

2/1/07: Workers of our world Unite! The rich have gotten richer, and the middle has gotten more middling, meaning of course less important. In a survey of today's fourth graders the answer to the age-old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" is now (1) rich and (2) famous. The third response should be "Not a pipe dream. I don't want my life to be a pipe dream that I wake up from at forty with nothing in front of me but drudgery at a job I despise." But work today has taken a drive-by shooting that left our homes riddled with holes and with our children looking out through them to a world on television of the rich, famous, and fascinating. When in truth the rich details of life are not in ridiculous and calamitous sexual affairs and high action killings with lots of explosions, but in the quiet joy of waking up in a quiet home with someone you've loved for as long as you can remember. Work today has become the new leprosy. To look out of those bullet holes and see a life of working every day is a shunned vision; like seeing a hideous disease and shuddering inside, for fourth graders at least apparently. And they shall inherit the world. Last year corporate bonuses so exceeded wage increases in America that the story almost went unreported for fear of what might happen if people knew the truth. Wages increases nationwide equaled 1% of the total reported corporate bonuses. There are few sentences that you will ever read that hold the potential impact of that last one. Revolutions have burst forth for far less than that. The American Revolution for one occurred in relative prosperity and was fought over unjust laws that were never fully enforced anyway. The current law of the rich getting vastly richer is being enforced by unjust laws now on the books for almost six years. During the holiday season in 2006 the highest end stores did extremely well, while the merely high end and regular stores did very badly. So, those children who all want to be rich and famous saw that their parents' middle class ethic of hard work and diligence paid off with a "middling" Christmas at best. Television continued to pound away at the idea that work is an irrelevant activity to create opportunity for sexual misadventure or merely a vehicle to ride into high adventure. There are, sad to say, no Archie Bunkers out there on the channels who march off to work each day, come home to family foibles and flusters, who find joy in the little things like a chair to sit in. And yet, 95 percent of Americans of working age work every day. The vast majority of Americans are working Americans. And last year their slice of the pie was mighty thin. So why don't the workers of our world unite? America is divided into two groups: The have-to-works and the don't-have-to-works. The Haves To's and the Don't Have To's. And where do you think the Don't-Have-To's get their money? Correct. From the Have-To's. If the workers united for even one day and didn't; it would change everything forever. Just one day. I suggest one day in August. August is the only month with no holiday. The largest action in our Revolution occurred in August 1776: the Battle of Long Island. The British captured New York City and nearly George Washington, too. The bad guys took over. Sound familiar? How about the third Monday in August? It should disrupt the corporate fat cats' late summer plans and maybe even chew up some of their rapacious profits or bonus reserves as they think of them. Anyway, why not unite, workers? We have only our chains to lose, as the saying goes.

1/4/07: And the New Year? Scheming schadenfreude. Predicting the future is like herding cats, as the saying goes. It can be done, but it is essentially unmanageable, capricious, and only vaguely directional. The future can be predicted as in "We will get there," but how and when exactly are two components that while absolutely integral are so infused with variable influences that it's really only fooling ourselves to think that we control them in anyway whatsoever. The generals always refer to the "smoke of war" as the cover for the unpredictable. In Vietnam we knew that when you pull out a gun all bets were off. Any sort of decision is exactly like that. Up until a decision is made predictions seem logical and events predictable. But once a decision is made then all the myriad options that were implied in your indecision kick into high gear. "Well, okay, if that's what they want then this is what I'll do...." It's a game of obfuscation and diversion. It's scheming schadenfreude. It's planning monkey wrenches unawares. It's part of human nature to want to secretly screw things up. So what is the future? If you look at The New York Times on the day of your birth and then at today's New York Times you will see a striking similarity: the actions, reactions and manipulations of people in the news. Oh, to be sure, for example, in 1947 things were different, but how amazingly the same were they? Energy issues were at the top of the page as Britain nationalized its coal mines. And today energy companies reaping vast and unconscionable profits again top the news. Romania and Bulgaria rejoining the free world in 1947 and hey, didn't they just join the EU? The Soviet Union was causing problems around energy control and then again today Russia is threatening Belarus with withholding natural gas. India and Pakistan are at odds but trying to get along. That was the headline in both newspapers (1947 and 2007) this week. Okay there are differences: a three cent first class stamp, Doris Day was the nation's most popular singer ("Confess"), Woody Woodpecker was making Americans laugh hysterically, and some guy named Percy Spencer had just invented the microwave oven (the size of a large refrigerator). But when you read the stories, that cat-herding stream of human actions, reactions, and manipulations are there like skyscrapers across time's cityscape. Governments and religions live in the future and the past, but people live in the moment. The former attempt to predict and record, the latter merely make it through the day. In those nooks and crannies of our lives are the only pleasures allowed us. For some it's about giving and for some it's about taking. Which of these two human approaches has sway in the world at any time will determine the future, the New Year, if you will. It would be nice to see a world evolving that is populated by those who put others first; would it not? And just how do we herd our cats to that destination? Well here's my first prediction for the new year: if you put others first you will have a wonderful year full of pleasant surprises; if you put yourself first you will have a horrible year full of unpleasant surprises. Most likely you will do both of these and have a year where very little, of real substance, changes. Here is my second prediction for the new year: that's what you really wanted anyway. Have some fun along the way and pay closer attention to what really makes you happy. If you do that you will herd your own cats in a better direction and that's progress even if it is infinitesimally small progress. Progress is a cumulative concept that sneaks up on us almost like magic. "Hey, how did that get there?" The only progress we ever really make happens when we are not really looking. All true human progress is unintentional. So, with that in mind why not have a Happy New Year?

1/26/07: The Pledge of Alligiance. The original Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, in August 1892. "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." In 1924 the National Flag Conference, under the leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution changed the words, "my Flag," to "the Flag of the United States of America." Reverend Bellamy disliked this change but was ignored. In 1954, a conservative Republican Congress, after a strident campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, "under God," proclaiming the pledge to be both a public oath and a public prayer. Bellamy's family said that he would have also not supported this addition. He stated in his writings that the true reason for the pledge of allegiance to the flag was "the republic for which it stands." Currently there are additional changes pending "strident" campaigns by various groups: "with liberty and justice for all, born and unborn" and "one nation, indivisible, with equality, liberty and justice for all."

Personally, I favor the original. It really covers everything very succinctly. The argument today, is not about whether or not we should say the Pledge in schools and in public assemblies, it just about whether we will say the original or the one rewritten to include a public prayer phraseology. I like to pray in private, not publicly. So, when I say the Pledge I silently pray "under God" but only say out loud the original Pledge. If I had been taken prisoner while I was serving in Vietnam, that's still what I would have done. People who position this debate as one between people who want to say the Pledge and people who do not want to say it, cannot find anyone who "doesn't" want to say the Pledge. There are only some people who don't like the public prayer addition of 1954, after 62 years of the original including all of the soldiers of the Civil War, World War I and World War II who said, and knew, only the original: "one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."

But some politicians will do anything to get attention and to get elected. I know I was one for 30 years.

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