Tom's Thoughts

Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Iraq and Vietnam

Finally, Bush admits that Iraq is like Vietnam, only he misses the point of the analogy.

Because Vietnam was such a quagmire, they have been resisting the comparison, not wanting to admit that Iraq is a quagmire. But in front of the VFW, many of whom are Vietnam vets, Bush, who got out of Vietnam by leaping over 120 others to get into the Air National Guard and then went AWOL when they started drug testing, tried to get support for his Iraq fiasco by comparing leaving to his imagination of what happened after we left Vietnam.

Let's look at the parallels: Vietnam was started by lies the President told about American ships being attacked in the Tonkin Gulf.

Iraq was started by lies told by the President about Saddam Hussein being linked to the 9/11 attacks on America and the fictitious threat his WMD's posed. He cut and ran when he had Osama bin Laden surrounded to go start this unprovoked war on Iraq.

American troops went into Vietnam based on a resolution Congress passed authorizing force in retaliation of that specific attack.

American troops went into Iraq based on a resolution Congress passed authorizing force against Saddam Hussein if he didn't let the inspectors rid his country of WMD's.

In Vietnam we propped up a corrupt dictatorship which was the ruler of one side in a civil war.

In Iraq we are propping up an ineffective government which can't bring a settlement to its civil war.

In Vietnam American troops became demoralized by the lack of leadership and no clear definition of victory, only vague assurances of "light at the end of the tunnel" and distorted emphasis on a few pockets of seeming success.

In Iraq, according to an op-ed written by seven soldiers and NCO's, American troops are demoralized by a lack of leadership and no clear definition of victory, only vague assurances that things will soon get better and distorted emphasis on a few pockets of seeming success.

In Vietnam, there was no way to tell who was an ally and who was an enemy; someone who shined your shoes in your camp by day may be shooting at you at night.

In Iraq, there is no way to be sure who is an ally and who is an enemy; someone who you train as a policeman or Iraqi soldier today may be planting an IED against you tonight.

In Vietnam, troops were so frustrated that they took out their anger on civilians, and defined any dead "gook" as a dead Vietcong.

In Iraq, troops are so frustrated that they take out their anger on civilians, and perpetuate the torture at Abu Graib Prison that Saddam Hussein started.

In Vietnam, war profiteers from the oil companies and others secretly wanted the fighting to continue to improve their profits.

In Iraq, war profiteers are running the show, serving our troops outdated food, housing themselves in four-star hotels while our troops suffer in insufficient tents.

In Vietnam, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong captured and tortured American troops.

In Iraq, the Americans are rounding up citizens who are sold to the Americans for a bounty and torturing them.

I asked in Vietnam, and I asked in Iraq: If what our enemies do is so horrible, why are we trying so hard to emulate them?

Good place to conclude, but something else Bush said need refuting:

He said Vietnam gave us phrases such as "boat people" and "killing fields."

I would also remind him that Vietnam gave us "We had to destroy the village in order to save it," and "fragging."

Also, the killing fields came about in Cambodia, when the Americans didn't support Prince Sihanouk and the Communist regime of Pol Pot took over. And it was the Vietnamese who won the Vietnam war that overthrew the Pol Pot regime and stopped the Cambodian killing.

And while we're at it:

All the predictions the Bushites and their disciples in the corporate-owned media made turned out to be wrong, just as the predictions about Vietnam proved false.

Nixon promised that as the Vietnamese took over their own fighting the Americans could withdraw, just as Bush has said repeatedly: "

They predicted that if Vietnam fell to the Communists, so would Laos, Thailand, etc., etc. till they came to America's shores. Well, it didn't happen. Vietnam became a trading partner of the U. S. and China became our largest creditor. Cambodia fell before we left Vietnam, and the Communist Government of Vietnam straightened them out.

They predicted that American troops would be greeted with flowers and hailed as liberators and that democracy would flourish there and spread to the region. Didn't happen.

They predicted that it would be over soon and wouldn't cost more than $50 billion. HAH!

They predicted that Iraq's oil revenues would pay for the war. Unh uh.

There are a lot more parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, but I think I've made my point.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Continuing what I started Yesterday

It is government's job to protect us: Protect us from military threats from abroad, from criminal acts from within (and, in the case of terrorism, from within and without, e.g. 9/11), and from those who would threaten our rights as Americans, such as the Bush Administration.

Among the rights we have as Americans is the peaceful enjoyment of our homes and our public lands. Such a threat is materializing now on Wilson Creek in my county here. A developer wants to put up a gated community which will destroy the view for the rest of us. We have the right to enjoy our wilderness areas without our view being spoiled by a bunch of ticky-tacky houses or McMansions, either one. Yet our County Commissioners are likely to be in sympathy with the developer, and once the opportunity comes to vote them out of office the damage will have been done. And once the election comes, who will run against them but more thralls to the moneyed interests?

Ever since the Reagan Administration, those who control the terms of our national debate have painted *ALL* politicians as corrupt, sub-human, etc. so that no decent person is willing to run for office lest he have his every mistake plastered all over the media.

How long will it take to change a country's mind-set?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ramblin' Thoughts

What is your idea of the function of government?

For me, as for Thomas Jefferson, it is to ensure I can exercise my rights as a citizen.

For example, if I want to operate a business, it is government's role to ensure that I am able to compete fairly, without being forced out of business by behemoths like Wal-Mart; if I want to operate a farm, I won't be forced into poverty by agri-monsters like ADM. Also, since I work for someone else's profit, if I want to join with my fellow workers to form a union so we can be treated more fairly by our bosses, then the government is the only advocate I have that is strong enough to ensure that I can.

I can't prosecute those who pollute my air and water for trespassing. My government has to do it for me.

I am part owner of the national parks, national forests, and other public lands. I have to rely on the government to manage them so that people like me can have the full benefit and enjoyment of these properties.

I believe we are all in this life together, the way the Old Testament prophets from Amos to Zechariah said, and whose teachings were brought to fulfillment by John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. Therefore, we have a government to make sure we are all able to take care of each other.

For other things, government has no business interfering: If I want to write a peaceable letter or e-mail to someone I know, government has no right to snoop into what I'm saying. Government has no say-so in who shares my bed, when, or what goes on there, as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult and not under any kind of coercion.

On the other hand, government does have an obligation to help protect our children from those who would exploit them for sexual or economic reasons. This includes ensuring monogamous marriages so that children can have the best advantages of a two-parent household.

Also, government has an obligation to see that my wife, or other person whom I designate, has every right to my person and estate, the right to visit me in the hospital or wherever else I may be, and the right to make decisions for me when I am unable to take care of myself.

I think it would be best if government got out of the marriage business. If two people want to share their lives, then they can get a certificate from the government affirming that, and if they want to dissolve that partnership later, then the courts can grant them a divorce. But if they want to call it a marriage, then leave that up to the churches, or whatever faith system the people involved may share. Churches should be free to recognize whatever marriages they choose, and not be obligated to recognize marriages that are not in accordance with the churches' creeds.

Ronald Reagan came to the White House proclaiming that "big government" was the enemy of the people rather than its advocate, so ever since then, government has stepped aside while big corporations have exploited the people. This is a violation of the Constitutional duties of the government, and it's time we got things back into the proper balance.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On the DLC

Harold Ford should know better.

He is the head of the Democratic Leadership Council, the "centrist" group that has been running the Democratic Party since at least 1988, and consistently losing elections along the way.

Their philosophy is to go after the "undecideds" in the "center." They take their base for granted while trying to appeal to the (supposed) Republican leanings of the center voters. Thus, we get Bill Clinton confronting Sistah Souljah, and the general tone of the 2004 campaign, "Yeah, me too, but I'd do it better."

The thing is, this doesn't work,

These tactics don't encourage black and Latino voters to come out. Voters like me will vote for whoever we can to come closer to the change we want, but less motivated--or more idealistic--voters won't bother.

Meanwhile, the Lee Atwater approach, continued by the unlamented Karl Rove, was to appeal to the base and paint the other side as the extremists.

The DLC response is to try to argue the situation on the Republican terms. But the Republican tactics are to rely on bumper-sticker slogans to set the terms of the debate. Thus we get such groaners as "death tax," "socialized medicine," "welfare cheats," etc.

The puny DLC approach is no match for that, so as a result, the Democrats LOST the 1988 election for the White House and control of the Congress in 1994. They won the 1991 and 1996 presidential elections (by a plurality only) by nothing more than the strength of Bill Clinton's personality. Meanwhile they FAILED to win back the Congress in 1998, 2000, and 2004, and FAILED to win enough votes in 2000 and 2004 to overcome the vote fraud, cheating, and outright theft of the elections by the Bush people.

Meanwhile, the corporate-owned media and their pampered, millionaire anchor people won't raise any fuss about the situation, because the status quo leaves them sitting pretty.

And the DLC approach is to keep them sitting pretty, while losing elections and claiming theirs is the only way to win.