Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
Another dubious little war
Have you been hearing a hollow clanging in the middle of the night? Faint, but growing louder in that gathering twilight before the fitful dreams of midnight's slumber? Could it be the sound of the dark lord himself, Darth Cheney, frenzied with blood lust, beating his bionic breast like a reborn King-Kong as the indelicate stench of unrequited war teases his flared nostrils?
It's back to golden Babylon, boys! Black gold, that is. Bubbling crude and Blackwater mercenaries. Halliburton. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, where our grand inquisitors and their neocon apologists once peddled tortured euphemisms for the enhanced terrible things we did to those ungrateful Muslim wretches.
We are furiously revving up for yet another dubious little war. To ape the memorable mediocrity of Saint Ronald of Hollywood, here we go again. A chorus of screeching castrati is giddy at the prospect of a new, unholy crusade to the so-called holy land. Even our reluctant president is seduced by the siren call of the same "I told you so" liars of the last administration, warmongering ghouls urging him to reclaim lost machismo with his very own misadventure in the minefields of the Middle East.
Have we learned nothing since that blue-sky day in September 13 long years ago? Are we still so easily terrorized by some really bad guys on the other side of the world, who butcher humans and share their butchery online? Are we so much like frightened sheep that we will eagerly shed a decade of war weariness and once again send our legions off to kill and die in some faraway, forsaken place?
Perhaps we need some perspective on the (un)Islamic State's admittedly gruesome tactic. Remember the Tower of London? The last beheading there was in 1747. The Swedes finally quit beheading in 1890. The Germans were chopping off heads as late as 1935. The French used Dr. Guillotin's invention right up to 1977. And, of course, our dear friends in Saudi Arabia still do it for all sorts of crimes, including apostasy and sorcery.
Even we civilized Americans, once upon a time before we managed to pry church and state apart (ever so slightly), had a penchant for calling people witches and burning them alive. But that was us then and this is them now. If nothing else, we Americans are very tolerant of our own double standards. It's all part of being exceptional. God will be on our side, unless she's not and Matthew 5:9 is just a bunch of hokum.
Have you heard that distant clanging in the middle of the night, from deep within our restless national nightmare of unanticipated consequences? We have sown the wind. What will we now reap in the harvest to come? In 1940, Ernest Hemingway famously borrowed a line from a 1624 poem by John Donne. "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." Ding. Ding. Ding.
I am not an ideologue aligned with either party. I study the facts on each public policy issue and make up my mind as to the best solution. Sometimes that is a "liberal" position, sometimes that is a "conservative" position, more often it is neither. Also more often than either party would like one to believe the two parties' positions on issues are nearly indistinguishable.
One of the larger problems facing the state of Arkansas is prison overcrowding. One obvious policy that would help to alleviate this problem would be to decriminalize/legalize marijuana. I would rather see one violent criminal in jail than 1,000 marijuana offenders. Tell me which candidate for governor or, for that matter, the federal candidates for Senate support this or, for that matter, even mention this? I am also a colon cancer survivor who would like medicinal marijuana available as a choice to me, especially given studies showing it can have a chemo-preventive effect (prevents recurrence). Who represents me?
I am an atheist and don't want my politicians making policy decisions based on an imaginary man in the sky. Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor told Bill Maher in his movie "Religulous" that he could believe in Young Earth Creationism, which is demonstrably and factually impossible. The Republican candidate for governor is a graduate of Bob Jones University and presumably is also a Young Earth Creationist, as that is a tenet of their teaching. After a Tom Cotton comment during the campaign, he and Pryor spent the better part of two weeks essentially arguing over who is more religious — it made me want to lose my lunch. Who represents me?
One of the things that most concerns me is the unprecedented dismantling of the Fourth Amendment that began with the war on drugs and has accelerated with the war on terror. The Edward Snowden disclosures are shocking, yet I have not heard either candidate for the Senate pontificating on the need to rein in this surveillance. In fact I am quite certain both are just fine with it. Who represents me?
I am 53 years old and the United States has been at war for just about my entire life. We spend more than the next 12 countries combined on defense and most of those countries are our allies, but neither senatorial candidate calls for significant military spending cuts. Who represents me?
Our seeming need to control the internal affairs of other countries never fails to backfire (Iran, Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan to name a few) but never seems to abate ,either. As of today both parties are rushing to support more military action in the Mideast against ISIS — because, you know, you can kill an ideology with bombs. Neither party dares state that the underlying problem is Muslim fundamentalism, too politically incorrect and may cause a tougher look at Christian fundamentalism in our midst. Mark Pryor is a member of "The Family," an organization that was instrumental in pushing the Ugandan law that called for the death penalty for homosexuals. Who represents me?