In the Humble Opinion of LittleBill, Socialist, Atheist, and Humanist
New and Old Odds and Ends-Part Two

A favorite platitude of all politicians, whether American or any other nationality, is to say that the American (or Iraqi, or Israeli, or Afghani, or Pakistani, etc., etc. people) are intelligent people in aggregate who know what is going on and how things should be. They say these words especially when they are running for elective office. I doubt very much that this is true. Intelligence depends for humans as a whole on education, and beyond that, on what your education was and the time and place in which you received it.

Some of my family, for example, are well educated, while other close members were or are not. My father, who did not finish high school, was a thinker. My mother, who had a college education, was not. My two children were hippies who went off into lala land for a year or two when we lived in the Bay Area, then individually and on their own earned degrees – one as a successful landscape contractor, and the other as an accomplished printer. It took me until I was 42 to earn a master’s degree.

My family moved to Wyoming during the Depression of the 30’s, where my parents bought a cattle ranch. But it was his foreman, Elmer, who ran it. I don’t know what his formal education was, but his true education was in running a ranch.

What I’m getting at is that the time (Depression) and place (a sparsely populated community) as well as an era (before communication came of age), are of tremendous importance. There was a 5 or 6 page local newspaper, there was no world news except for the Newsreels in the theaters, and radio news did not appear until WWII. So you can see education depends on who you are, where you are, what’s available, and what you do with it.

And so, if you were an Iraqui or Afghani farmer either farming or tending your herd in a land of vast spaces, what must have been your reaction to our invasions of those countries? Did you know what led up to those invasions? What did you think when our forces destroyed your crops, your animals, and your families? And didn’t we see film on TV of many of those men being rounded up and sent to Guantanamo as terrorists, though, to date, very few have been charged? If any of them fought back, would you have done the same in their place?

Unfortunately, education continues and will continue to shape human beings. If you watch the quality, or lack thereof, of entertainment and information available to the average person today, and if you have contact with them which reveals how and what they think, you find a vast area of difference in the educational background of the individual and the use he or she has made of it.


New and Old Odds and Ends

Bloggers tend to be thinkers, and thinkers tend to think about the larger subjects going on involving mankind and the world. We do not all agree, which should be appreciated as a most important teaching aid to each of us individually and to human progress throughout our past and into our future on this earth.

If you’re a thinker, life as you conceive it, probably tends to go on pretty much the same, but the way you think old thoughts often changes as well, so that you feel even more strongly about a subject, or you find yourself looking at it through a newly opened door or without the hindrance of a fence or wall that used to be there. So that’s what I will be writing about, and I may find myself hopping around from one subject to another, and then back again.

The thing that continues to bother me above all others is Bush’s motivation for his war on Iraq. As far as I can tell, the events of 9/11 were the start of it all. I distinctly remember that after Bush finished reading the upside down book to the children’s class, he rushed to New York City, as he should have. However, that famous photo of him bounding to the top of a pile of debris and putting his arm around a fireman for a photo-op was a picture of a changed man. He wore his famous smirk, and the letters EGO appeared to hang in the air above him. From that day to this, he has reminded us that his main job is to protect the American people.

In order to protect someone, you have to have enemies, and up until then, he didn’t even know for sure who the enemies were. So he made some up—Iraq. And now we are their enemies too. And the way to make sure that we have enemies is to continue to make enemies of them. After all, you can’t be victorious and a hero if you don’t continue to vanquish them and then show how magnanimous you are by deciding what kind of government they will have in the future. (That might be difficult, but be sure you at least carry it out till the end of your time in office. In that way, you can ride off into the sunset as the victorious hero who has protected his people. Although, if it goes badly enough, you might decide to sacrifice your deserved retirement in the service of your people and declare that you will spend another four years in office, in much the same way in which you have negated the wishes of Congress through signing statements appended to their legislation.)

So now, we have lots of enemies, many of them Americans who were born here and still live here. And, because many of us who are native-born have grown to at least no longer feel proud of our country as we know it now, we have become known as unpatriotic enemies too. Add to those the people who came here illegally, even if they love the world of Bush and his crew, and we have a whole slew of people who hate, not only our enemies abroad, but also a slew of enemies here at home, already at each other’s throats.

The Transportation and Mortgage Messes

After reading an article in the Washington Post about public transportation and toll roads, I have decided to give the subject a stab.

Starting with toll roads, their main purpose apparently is to make money from owning and operating them. The very essence of free trade.

The aspect that I didn’t see addressed is that they encourage the good old American caste system. If you’re rich, or at least fairly well-off, who cares about spending a little more to make a faster trip on a less crowded toll road, especially if it is to get to work from a suburb to the city? On the other hand, if you can’t afford the extra change, it takes you longer to get the same distance on a slower and less comfortable means of travel. So the poorer people have to get up earlier and take longer to get to and from work for less.

It was Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko who uttered the famous American motto, Greed is good!, There was a time when it should have been considered as the national motto for the 21st century, but Bush hasn’t finished yet. His spirit-lifting encouragement following the tragedy of 9/11 and the start of WWIII was to urge us to go out and spend money. His leadership has made wealth appear within the grasp of all.

And so, people who cannot possibly afford expensive homes have patriotically rushed to his call and, with the help of a whole lot of crooked realtors and money lenders, have “bought” expensive homes from which they are now being evicted.
In fact, as I write, Bush is reassuring all of us that our economy is “vibrant and moving forward,” due to the fact that he and his advisers have been on top of the current downturn from the very first signs of trouble.

But there actually is a bright side to these tragedies, and it will not come from God. All we have to do, and I do mean ALL of us, is begin to use our heads and think about what our role on this Earth has been and should be. What has happened has been done to us by ourselves. We must come to the realization that greed is not good and the Earth and all its creatures, and all of its resources can only survive if we care for each other. (Isn’t it odd that when there start to be too many animals, the solution seems to be acceptable that we have to go out and thin them by hunting? We are doing the same thing with war, though few people seem to recognize that fact.)

It is incumbent upon EACH of us to start thinking of those things we have that we don’t need (or do) and stop acquiring any more, as well as sharing with others what could make their lives more bearable.

Interesting Replies to Spitzer Tragedy

When I compose a post to my blog, I also send it as an email to friends and family. I have received replies from each end of the spectrum, one pornographic, and one wondering why I don’t spend more time thinking about the lovely things in life. The porno answer is easy to dismiss, after mentioning it as an illustration of what my blog was about.

The email answer was more interesting because it goes to how I think and why I wrote about this still-ongoing story in the news. I don’t have to look for the story, it comes looking for me on all of the news media.

The email responder may not have understood where I was coming from when I said I longed to get back to my rage and fear. If I didn’t care so much for the beauty of the earth and the fragility of its innocent creatures – be they animal or human - I wouldn’t be so full of my muses, rage and fear.

Back in my birdwatching days, there were numerous days when we came upon dogs or cats that had been abandoned in the country. It was not in my character to say to myself that they were someone else’s problem and it wasn’t up to me to stop bridwatching in order to try to save them. To the contrary, that is how I got at least 2 of my cats and 7 of my dogs. On the other hand, I made the mistake of going to Monterey to go whale watching in a friend’s car. We passed a dog trotting down the freeway far out in the country, and my friend refused to stop. I have never gotten over that, and I have never let another person drive me anywhere since then. She, on the other hand, was thinking only of a lovely day on the ocean.

I hope this will explain why seeing the Spitzer family abandoned on the freeway of smut so that the rest of us could go on with our trips to the shore is just not in my character.

Things Have Changed

The world I see today is not the same as the world I saw three days ago. Before, I was just terribly depressed at life and death and terror for so many millions of people. And I was frightened more than I have ever been for the future of this Earth. Nine more months of this man and his cohorts seems like an ever expanding eternity which we cannot hope to interrupt.

But the past three days have obscured these feelings, feelings that I admired in myself, of outrage that I could vent through my blog and into the ether. Feelings that would bring me either friends or enemies.

The mood that overwhelms me now is one of being unable to participate, of having no level ground on which to meet either friend or foe. For the past three days I have been walking up to my neck in a pool of slime, my feet unsupported by the deep mud underneath. I want to wipe it off my arms and back into the pool.

This sex story is everywhere, on all TV news, on the front pages of most, if not all, newspapers, and on talk and comedy shows. It has engulfed me by its very presence everywhere, and I cannot find my way out of the swamp. There is nothing about it that threatens me, so I cannot defend myself. As I said on my previous blog, my heart aches for the families involved, but I have no weapons with which to protect them or salves to soothe their souls.

The obsession of those who feed their basest instincts through tales of the troubles of others is too overwhelming to overcome in this age of information, and by their numbers they rule.

Oh, God, I wish I could go back to my days of rage and fear! I want to put myself out there on my blog and say, “Here I am! Come and get me!”

True Tragedy

I wasn’t going to say anything about Governor Eliot Spitzer, and I’m still not going to say anything about him, except as he has affected others.

If you have watched TV for the past two days, you have watched his wife Silda change from a very attractive, vivacious middle aged woman to an old, old woman for whom the future can only be too long.

You have not seen his three TEEN-AGED girls since you saw them smiling with joy and pride at their father’s inauguration. Do you think you would recognize them now?

And, if you noticed his parents in the background at the inauguration, you saw that they were very old and extremely proud of what their son had accomplished (and might accomplish) during the rest of his life. His mother was tiny from age and illness, but made strong enough to be there for the occasion by its very meaning.

When the governor announced his resignation today, it was short, but left enough time to remind the public of the great things HE and the people he had worked with had accomplished over his time in office, and he said that the work would continue on after he left. Somehow, it seems to me that this particular occasion called for recognizing the great work THEY had done without including himself in a self-serving reference.

But he is not the only person who has transgressed. CNN announced today that the comedy shows would be in heaven tonight and into the future with all of the material which the governor has provided for them. (To those of you who will tune in and be amused, this tragedy has descended to your level at last.)

Old Timey Info Just for the Helluvit

The title I gave to one of my two posts regarding the turning point soliloquy of Hamlet was, oddly, “Close, But a Hand-rolled Cigarette.” I am late getting to bed and at that point in time when I feel compelled to share my vast wealth of knowledge with the rest of you.

Back in the olden days, as we say, when I was young, carnivals were a great source of entertainment. One of the most popular booths was the shooting gallery, especially for men wanting to show off for their girlfriends. (I haven’t been to a carnival in a long time, but it may still be true today.) There was a constant line of little animal figures running across the background, and their attempt was to shoot down as many as possible, with the prize being a cigar. If they missed, the barker would call out “Close, but no cigar!”

With that explanation, back to Hamlet and my title. You can probably deduce that I felt my incomplete rendition of my memory of that great work was not too bad after all these years.

I am perfectly happy to share these morsels of intellectual expertise with the rest of you, at no charge, you will be happy to note.

And so to bed.

Atheistic Apologies to Those in Need

On my most recent addition to my blog, I ended it with a question I have increasingly grown to find appropriate for the times, “Do they teach you this stuff in church?” My niece emailed me back that I should go lite on questions like that, lest I, an atheist, become as bigoted as those to whom that sentence is addressed. So I decided this was a good time to go back over the religion controversy and explain to one and all why I say things like that.

First of all, I have great respect for the various religions and people who practice them as they should, without impinging on the beliefs of others. One of my dearest friends is a devout Catholic, and she has told me that she prays for me. I consider that the loveliest gift she could give me because she doesn’t ask me to change and her prayer means so much to her. I reviewed an earlier article by me on that subject and mentioned John Kennedy, but failed to quote him. When he was asked if his Catholicism would affect his administration as president if he were elected, he replied (my words) “My religion is between me and my God alone.”

The people to whom my sentence is addressed are those whose self-assurance is so great that they feel, not only entitled, but called upon to force their beliefs on others. The current election process is rife with warnings to all of us, even other religions, that we face religious warfare the likes of which we have not seen. Preceded by the Bush administration, the Christian right is determined to take away the right of gay people to marry and the right of women to determine what shall happen to unborn children. Both rights should be basic rights and should concern no one else other than those close to them. It amazes me to hear them say that “every single human life (born or unborn) has a God-given right to life,” while at the same time this country, under this president, is slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world, born and unborn, innocent as well as guilty.

My sentence is directed only to the people mentioned above, not to those who respect my agnosticism as I respect their religion. Feel free, friend and foe alike, to let me know how what I say is understood by you.

In the meantime, depending on your responses, I shall ask at least once again, “Do they tell you about this stuff in church?”

Humiliation, the Cost of Courage

By coincidence, at the same time I posted my quotation from Hamlet on my blog, a tabloid outed Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne. They are connected.

The quotation from Hamlet was about an army, “led by a delicate and tender prince” on their way to give their lives in a battle motivated by honor.

Prince Harry had insisted, over the objections of his family, on going to Afghanistan with his men. He had already been there for several weeks, facing the same dangers as his men, including going on patrol with them, when the tabloid printed the story, complete with photos which could have revealed clues as to his whereabouts.

That article was taken up by most, if not all, of the media worldwide. It is s-o-o-o tabloid and s-o-o-o American values that we maintain the right to know everything, even if it’s just for our entertainment.

Prince Harry has been called back home so that neither he nor his men will be targeted.

So that’s how a man with everything in life was stripped of the thing that mattered most to him, recognition as a noble human being, and reduced to returning to a life of luxury, protected by others, for all the world to see.

Do they teach you about this stuff in church?