Texas Liberal

All People Matter

The Big Issues In The 2012 Presidential Debates—Who Am I? Why Am I Here? What Is Reality?

The first debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will be held this evening.

Voters merit discussion of the most important issues.

Above is a short clip of Vice Admiral James Stockdale asking the most essential questions of “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?’ in the 1992 Vice Presidential debate.

Admiral Stockdale—A Vietnam War hero—was the running mate of Ross Perot in 1992.

People made fun of Admiral Stockdale, but I’m not sure what questions are more central to how we should conduct ourselves in life. Admiral Stockdale spent seven years in a Vietnamese prison. For much of that time Admiral Stockdale was in solitary confinement.  I’m certain he had plenty of time to think in his years of confinement.  It is no surprise that a reflective leader such as Admiral Stockdale asked the most relevant questions I’ve ever heard in a politcal debate.

The excellent New Scientist  magazine has a series of articles in a recent edition that discuss the nature of reality. (You have to register with the website to read the articles.)

I think a discussion on the nature of reality would be a fine topic for the debate tonight.

In any case, after you hear the prepared answers to the predictable questions in the debate tonight—Be sure to recall that the work of freedom and creativity and of an open hopeful society is up to each of us.

Your conceptions of the work to be done will surely be informed by your ideas of who you are and what your purpose is in the world.

Everyday people are fully capable of figuring complex stuff for themselves. This is the case even though we so often seem to forget this fact in our often silly and mean-spirited society.

Everything we need to understand the world is around us and is accessible with discipline, imagination and some luck. 

Don’t let prepared answers to predictable questions define what you are going to do with your life.

If we allow our lives to be defined by prepared answers to predictable questions, we will end up cheating ourselves out of our abilities and out of our own understanding of the world.

October 3, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

John McCain—Sick With Violence In His Heart

The following is from a Nation Magazine article in 2001 written after the disclosure that former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey had taken part in the massacre of civilians during the Vietnam War. ( Here is the full article.)

….. Senator John McCain, …writes with the authority of a former POW who was tortured during a long period of captivity in Vietnam. For McCain, despite the disclosure of the deliberate killing of civilians in the village hamlet of Thanh Phong back in February 1969, Kerrey remains “a war hero” who should be understood as having done what needed to be done in the sort of war being fought in Vietnam. Most disturbing, McCain argues that Vietnam was the kind of war that required its participants to hate the enemy, and he unabashedly makes a combat virtue out of hate. In his words: “I hated my enemies even before they held me captive because hate sustained me in my devotion to their complete destruction and helped me overcome the virtuous human impulse to recoil in disgust from what had to be done by my hand.” It is bad enough when a pilot holds such views, but when hatred informs the spirit of a ground war carried on in the midst of a densely inhabited civilian society, it is worse. It should not be surprising that atrocities became indistinguishable from normal battlefield practice, and not some anomaly that occurred on a single occasion at My Lai, or perhaps twice, counting Thanh Phong.

Here is an excerpt from a Smirking Chimp post (Here is the full post) about Senator McCain’s service in Vietnam written by author Ted Rall

An impolite question: If a war is immoral, can those who fight in it-even those who demonstrate courage-be heroes? If the answer is yes, was Reagan wrong to honor the SS buried at Bitburg? No less than Iraq, Vietnam was an undeclared, illegal war of aggression that did nothing to keep America safe. Tens of millions of Americans felt that way. Millions marched against the war; tens of thousands of young men fled the country to avoid the draft. McCain, on the other hand, volunteered.

McCain knew that what he was doing was wrong. Three months before he fell into that Hanoi lake, he barely survived when his fellow sailors accidentally fired a missile at his plane while it was getting ready to take off from his ship. The blast set off bombs and ordnance across the deck of the aircraft carrier. The conflagration, which took 24 hours to bring under control, killed 132 sailors. A few days later, a shaken McCain told a New York Times reporter in Saigon: “Now that I’ve seen what the bombs and the napalm did to the people on our ship, I’m not so sure that I want to drop any more of that stuff on North Vietnam.”

Yet he did.

“I am a war criminal,” McCain said on “60 Minutes” in 1997. “I bombed innocent women and children.” Although it came too late to save the Vietnamese he’d killed 30 years earlier, it was a brave statement. Nevertheless, he smiles agreeably as he hears himself described as a “war hero” as he arrives at rallies in a bus marked “No Surrender.”

Democrats can’t allow themselves to be pushed around by this bully McCain as he talks about war and violence and terror for the next nine months.

The choice is clear no matter who wins the Democratic nomination–Is it going to be more war and endless violence or are we going to live our lives as full human beings who react to something other than hate and fear.    

February 16, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Politics | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Texas Observer Endorsement Of John Tower & Snubbing Of Hubert Humphrey

  

In May of 1961, The Texas Observer, a liberal magazine of politics in Texas, editorialized that its readers should vote for conservative Republican John Tower (Above with LBJ) for the U.S. Senate in the 1961 Special Election. This race was to fill the seat left vacant by Lyndon Johnson winning the Vice Presidency in 1960.

The source for this post is the book  Fifty Years Of The Texas Observer.  

The Democratic incumbent was William Blakley. Mr. Blakley had been appointed at the beginning of 1961 to fill Vice President Johnson’s seat.

The Observer maintained Mr. Blakley was a Dixiecrat and that in any state outside the South he would be a Republican.  The Observer said that both liberals and conservatives had reasons to see Mr. Blakley defeated.

For liberals, forcing the Dixiecrats into the Republican Party would give the left a chance to run the Democratic Party. For conservatives and Republicans, it gave the Republican party a chance to become a real power in Texas.

And, with a strong Republican Party, Texas would finally become a two-party state consistent with modern Democracy.

(The Texas legislature is not yet a real two-party body in the sense of a having a majority and minority leader and a Speaker voted on by strict party line vote. In 2007, this is nearly beyond the conception of any thinking person)

Said the Observer—” It is to be granted, since politics is a game of risks, that when the Republicans have finally accomplished their formidable task, liberals may well be defeated for Governor and the state legislature. But they are being defeated anyway by pseudo-Democrats…..”

Mr. Tower beat Mr. Blakley by a margin of 50.4% to 49.6%. So it could be argued the Observer made an impact in this election.

While the liberal ascendancy has yet to arrive in Texas, I believe I would have supported the Observer in this debate had I been around in 1961. 

In 1968, The Observer wrote an editorial called “Humphrey Must Be Defeated to Save the Democratic Party.”

In this case, The Observer did not advocate voting for Republican Richard Nixon. Instead they suggested a write-in vote for defeated Democratic primary candidate Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota.  

While acknowledging that Vice President Hubert Humphrey was clearly a better candidate than either Mr. Nixon or third-party contender George Wallace, The Observer said  Mr. Humphrey’s support of the Vietnam War and his tacit acceptance of Mayor Richard Daley’s brutal police tactics against demonstraters at the Democratic convention in Chicago made him unacceptable.

From the editorial —

“The aim of those on the left and in the center who seek a Humphrey loss…is the restoration of the Democratic Party as the key progressive force in American life. We cannot rely on the Republicans….but right now we cannot rely on the Democrats for progress either; so committed to this disaster of a war is that party that social reform so desperately needed here at home is a fiscal and psychic impossibility…..a Humphrey defeat will restore the party to control of it’s better elements….”

Not being old enough to recall the Vietnam War and 1968, I can’t know what my feelings would have been. The question of voting for Mr. Tower was a tactical question of party politics I can more easily imagine. I think the Humphrey question was one of those things you had to be there for.

Mr. Humphrey carried Texas in 1968 with 41.1% of the vote. Mr. Nixon won 39.9% and Mr Wallace ran third at 19.0%.    

November 13, 2007 Posted by | Books, Political History, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments