Peace, Love, and Rock-n-Roll from a proud Lefty, Liberal, Socialist Hippie

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Required Viewing

I spent the past weekend doing a marathon viewing of the 7 episode Ken Burns documentary, "The Roosevelts - an Intimate History" on PBS on Demand. First off, Ken Burns is an American treasure and deserves every accolade which can be bestowed upon him. More importantly in this case, this documentary should be required viewing for every Democratic Party organization and by every group that would claim to represent progressives in this country. Every county organization should purchase the entire documentary and set up viewings during the run-up to every election cycle. Local progressive organizations should acquire a copy and set up viewing nights.

As much as I believed I remembered from my history and government classes, the Burns style of story telling - with access to the writings and speeches of not only the primary subjects but also their friends, families, and contemporaries, brought me so much more clarity of and appreciation for the Roosevelt legacy. It reminded me of why I have always been a Democrat and reinforced my disdain for the current cabal that would call itself  Democratic leadership.

It is Ken Burns' methodology to place you in the time and space of the people he is bringing to you through photos, video, and narration of expertly selected actors and, where possible, actual players in the story you are being told. In the case of the Roosevelts, he (and therefore, we) was blessed by the fact that Teddy, Franklin, and Eleanor were prolific diarists. Watching this documentary, you learn about Teddy's love and appreciation for our shared natural resources and how he fought to preserve and protect them from the corporations who would chop and drill and dig and pave over the vast wilderness and plains and mountain ranges and the politicians who served those interests. You feel the pain of average Americans who are being devastated by the greed of banks and corporations and austerity policies of a pro-business Republican Party. Yes, we are also reminded of the global interventionist bent of the Presidents Roosevelt, however, in the case of Franklin Roosevelt at least, it can be argued that he did wait for a congressional declaration of war before he simply sent troops around the world on a whim.

Now so many Democratic Party "leaders" will tell you that they are firm believers in the progressive reforms the Roosevelts brought us; yet when we ask today's candidates where they stand on single payer healthcare for all and income inequality, we are often reprimanded by these same leaders for demanding "purity."

I think Burns has done us all a great service by bringing us this story before the mid-term elections and, certainly before 2016. If you care about progressive ideals, demand that your party organization schedule a viewing of this excellent documentary.


Chad (The Left) Shue

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Feel Good War

And the feel good president who rocks no boats (all boats?) has once again extended the never ending military intervention in the Middle East by telling us that we are ending our combat role there - except for this one last thing on our way out - but it won't really be combat. Yes, President Obama has a strategy for destroying ISIL/S (?) and no one will be hurt or inconveniened except the bad guys. That's right, even though there will be troops (with guns we assume) they will not be "combat troops" nor will they engage in combat activities.  I guess, when the shooting starts,  they will simply excuse themselves from the area;  explaining that they are only there as "advisors." Oh, and the pilots will certainly have exemption from anti-aircraft fire. What absurd nonesense! I want to scream!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Defending America's "Vital Interests"

And so, in keeping with my most recent post, it would appear that the majority of Americans believe that a group of religious fundamentalists in the Middle East pose a threat to the "vital interests" of the United States and, therefore, we should increase our military interventionism in both Iraq and Syria. According to a ABC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, 59% of those asked said they viewed the group known as ISIS or ISIL (depending on who is doing to the talking I guess) pose a "serious threat" to our "vital interests." A whopping 71% support continued air strikes in Iraq (My God it's hard to imagine there is any stable ground or buildings left standing in that country after almost 3 decades of American air strikes against someone or another there!) while 65% support expanding our air strikes into Syria.

I have a few other questions. Like: who is defining "vital interests"? I mean, before you can say someone poses a threat, don't you need to know what they pose a threat to? Why do we even know who ISIS/L(?) is? What we know is that they are made of members of the Sunni tribal faction - the same group who were removed from power in Iraq when George W decided we should remove Saddam Hussein and replace him with someone form the Shiite faction of the population. They very much dislike the United States. Of course, if we were not there, there is really not much that they can do to us - AS THEY HAVE NO AIR FORCE OR NAVY WITH WHICH TO ATTACK US. They like to use the barbaric tactic of beheading their captives to stir up the emotions of their adversaries but it seems to me I just read where our dear friend and ally in the region, Saudi Arabia has beheaded some 19 people in the last year for one crime or another (including sorcery). Shall we launch air strikes against them?

After 9-11, Osama bin Laden taunted us to send troops into the Middle East; onto his playing field. And like a good lackey, W and his cronies took the bait. Oh they said this would not be another Viet Nam but the only difference I can see is that we actually got out of Viet Nam while we are STILL in the Middle East; looking for anything we can call a victory. President Obama likes to say that he declared victory when he brought home the "combat troops" from Iraq on Bush's time table. Of course we are supposed to ignore that fact that we have more troops there guarding the world's largest embassy than we do at some of our official military bases - AND WE ARE SENDING 100 MORE. He likes to claim victory because he ordered the raid that supposedly killed Osama bin Laden. Seen a body? Did Al Quaida go away? Our Whack-a-Mole policy has had us supporting Saddam Hussein against Iran, to deposing Saddam for lying about WMD (which in turn helped to create ISIS); from arming the "rebels" in Syria who are trying to overthrow Assad (of course those "rebels" are now known as ISIS/L?) to now wanting to launch air strikes in Syria which will help to keep Assad in power.

No "boots on the ground" seems to be the cover most are taking for their support of more air strikes. No boots on the ground? What of the pilots and support crews for the planes who are at risk every day? We certainly have provided these "rebels" with surface to air missiles to take down a few aircraft. I guess that is a risk worth taking if you have no problem with the financial costs and the "collateral costs" of more dead Iraqis and Syrians. Financial costs? You better believe that those bombs and the fuel for those planes (and the support personnel and the infrastructure necessary to house and launch those planes) cost the US taxpayer some pretty big bucks; enough to build countless schools, roads, bridges, power plants, and other items of "vital interest" to the United States. And what of the human costs? How many more "terrorists" are we willing to create in our seemingly never-ending quest for .......? I'm sorry, I don't know what our quest is for in Iraq/Syria/Lebanon/Somalia/Afghanistan, et al.

At some point we will either have to reign in the Military Industrial Complex and the corporations who control it (and our current government structure) or we will just need to accept that we are a nation of perpetual war with no goal or end game. I would like to think that America can be better than this but my hopes keep taking a beating against the wall by polls that keep telling me my neighbors like war.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Setting the Record Straight

Face Book just isn't enough. Nor, is it the correct place to say the things I believe I need to say. And so, I am back.

It's been almost two years since I last posted as The Left Shue. Sadly, not much has changed. But then I didn't really expect much to change because, to a large degree, the same folks have remained in charge and the average person's interest can still be bought with slogans and louder voices. Well let me yell this:


Oh, I am sure that many who have and do wear the uniform of our country's armed forces believed or possibly still believe that they went into battle in Korea or Vietnam or somewhere in the Middle East to defend the freedom and liberty of U.S. citizens. But here is the thing: to believe this is to ignore that fact that none of the so-called enemies in those conflicts had ever specifically attacked the United States or even had the means or stated desire to do so  (unless and until we had already invaded their home land). In both Korea and Vietnam, we chose to step into another country's civil war (the merits of which may certainly be debatable) while in the Middle East we have continually played a sad game of "Whack-a-Mole"; slipping back and forth from side to side as we do our best to allow for the least fettered access to resources that ultimately enrich global corporations. I guess there will be many who say that enriching American corporations makes American lives better and, therefore, there is an equivalency between rich corporations and our liberty and freedom but there simply isn't enough Koolaide to allow me to swallow that line.

Oh yes, 9-11 did happen but, as I asked on that very day, what was really under attack? I mean, did those that flew those planes and killed so many target a major shopping center where as many or more people might have perished? Did they target a major sporting event where certainly more people would have died? Did they target Hollywood; long accepted as the center of America's decadence and decay? No; instead they attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; the very institutions that have been at the heart of American intervention into the affairs of the sovereign nations of the Middle East. The very actors who have made it America's policy to create instability and unrest in a region of the world where he who controls the production and distribution of crude oil rules the nest. This is not to say that all who died on that day or as a result of those attacks were directly responsible for American policy but the targets of the assaults no more represented American freedom and liberty than Wall Street represents Main Street. Remember, it was George W Bush and "the government" who claimed that the "terrorists hate our freedom." In point of fact, no group has ever made that claim; only that they were intent in knocking out the financial and military institutions that were responsible for meddling in the affairs of their home lands.

I am dumbfounded these days by those who argue over the "intent" of the Founding Fathers. All of the folks who decry "large government" and yet would gladly accept an even larger "defense" industry because they have accepted that their liberty is at risk have me shaking my head in disbelief every day. These same people simply brush aside that fact that the overwhelming consensus of the Founding Fathers was that a standing army in times of peace was abhorrent to liberty and freedom; an instrument to be wielded and abused by a tyrannical government. Leaving office, President Dwight Eisenhower, no pacifist, warned the American people about the establishment of such a standing army and the self perpetuating Military Industrial Complex. Today, it is widely known and accepted that there is some form of military armament or munitions factory in every one of the congressional districts in this country; making it politically impossible for any member of congress to vote to cut back on spending or even military interventionism because of the potential of lost jobs in their district.

Do I appreciate our military? Of course I do. A country as large as the United States with our vast agricultural and mineral resources would be foolish to be less than vigilant in providing security for our people and our resources. That fact that we have brave young men and women who would sacrifice themselves to provide that security is beyond simple commendation. However, to not recognize that our government, working at the behest of the monied elite and corporate masters, have simply twisted the role of our military into that of corporate mercenaries is to do an utter disservice to those where wear the uniform and fight and die under our flag. To those who serve and those who have served before (especially those who have given their last great measure of devotion) I say thank you with a sincere heart. I do not question your motive or your heart. However, to those who have abused the power entrusted them by the citizens of this country by lying to the service members and their families; telling them that somehow killing an innocent family thousands of miles from our shores because they have chosen to protect their home from foreign invaders wearing American flags on their shoulders they have "defended our freedom" - damn you!

Chad (The Left) Shue

Monday, January 21, 2013

Will Obama be a lame duck liberal?

I just read an interesting piece, entitled "The president liberals were waiting for is (finally) here." by Chris Cillizza over at his blog (The Fix) at the Washington post. Now, to be honest, I didn't listen to today's inaugural address (don't yet know if I will when I get home). I have heard years of Obama's oratorical art and, as most, have found it eloquent and moving. The thing is, I have also witnessed his actions and, for the most part, have found them to be lacking.  And here is where my problem with Cillizza's conclusion (and he is far from alone) comes to bear. Cillizza writes,

"Couched in rhetoric about the need to come together as a country was a strong — and surprisingly pointed — invocation of a laundry list of progressive principles: gay rights, voting rights, climate change and the inherent value of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security...

...The question going forward is whether President Obama will make good on the progressive agenda he outlined today. Does he push hard on climate change or some sort of broader energy policy? Does he cut a deal with Republicans on immigration reform or go it alone believing they will follow? On guns, will he accept a smaller-bore version of the legislative proposals he outlined last week or go for the whole enchilada (or something close to it)?

Those questions are, at the moment, impossible to answer. What we do know: In his second inaugural speech, President Obama forcefully embraced the sort of progressive agenda for which liberals — and Democrats more broadly — have long pined."

Now it's not that I don't think these things are of important to progressives/liberals but whether he mentioned them directly in his first inaugural address or not, he certainly ran as a candidate claiming full throated support for them in 2008 and yet here we are in 2013 still waiting to see if he will stand firm on these values and many others that are also of equal importance to liberals.

Where in today's speech was there mention of a return to full civil liberties for ALL Americans; an end to domestic spying via phone taps or other means, an end to undressing to board a plane? Where was the talk of ending drone warfare and presidential kill lists? These are also things liberals "pine" for. Was there talk of universal healthcare like every other industrialized country in the world?

Cillizza says that President Obama spoke of the "inherent value of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security." Did he actually say that he would not allow these programs to be "on the table" in any talks having to do with defict reduction or budget balancing? When he called them "entitlement programs" did he say it in the context of those who would do these programs harm or did he remind folks that these programs are paid for by the recipients who are indeed entitled to the product of their payments?

A half hour of rhetoric about gay right and voting rights - which should have already been decided by this president's 1st term Justice Department - and climate change still does not show me anything. Oh I want him to succeed and I do want him to move forward with a liberal agenda but I certainly am not holding my breath. Let's see where we are in a year's time and then decide whether our liberal president is (finally) here.