Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “military”

Pope Benedict XVI and Politics – Tom Rossi

It was just announced that Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down, due to health concerns. And while he’s certainly no John Paul II, he’s a decent guy (although he didn’t resolve the molestation issue to anyone’s satisfaction, to say the least) and I hope he isn’t suffering too much from his arthritis and whatever other afflictions he may have. However, in thinking about his tenure as Pope, I couldn’t help but think about how involved in politics he and the Catholic Church have become (again) lately.

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The Catholic Church was, for centuries, the beginning, the middle, and the end of the political story in Europe. But in more recent times, the church had actually settled in to look more like, well, a church. But during the term (as it turn out) with Pope Benedict XVI (formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) as the leader of the Church, politics have again come to the forefront, even if to a lesser degree than in the Middle Ages.

Of course,the Catholic Church is far from the only large, religious organization playing politics (while enjoying tax-exempt status) – the Southern Baptist Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) are also well known in the political arena.

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What these groups (and many others) share, is the desire to impose their brand of morality on others. For example, it’s not enough that Catholics and Southern Baptists and Mormons be prevented from entering into a same-sex marriage, they don’t want anyone in a same-sex marriage. These same groups often work for the suppression of science, also.

As I write this, as usual, I can’t help but think, “Well, how am I different?” I want people to follow certain rules of society. I want people to be polite and considerate. I want them to make tiny sacrifices in order to grease the wheels of a pleasant community. I’d sure like it if, when a driver sees a car in the next lane on the freeway put her turn signal on, he would let her merge into the lane unobstructed instead of speeding up to make it more difficult. I think I’ve uncovered the reason nobody uses their turn signal, anymore.

I’d also like it if, when someone goes through a door, he or she would make sure it’s not going to slam right in another person’s face. Life would be nicer if people were just nice to each other. And what if no country or group waged war on another? We could do away with the military altogether, and either keep our tax dollars or spend them on constructive things instead of things whose purpose is to blow up and disappear.Church-and-State

It would be great if owners of businesses paid their employees a fair, living wage instead of concentrating on making enough money to buy a new yacht. It would be great if nobody polluted our air and waterways in order to save the money it would take to clean up their messes the right way. It would be great if everyone just stopped whining and paid their fair share of the taxes that are needed (if sometimes abused) to keep our country running. It would be great if nobody littered the streets with their cigarette butts or Starbucks cups.

But these principles won’t really work (especially the war part) if only a part of the population adhere to them. It would be much better if everyone did.

So there it is.

I think my way is right or better, just like the various Christian groups think their impositions are perfectly reasonable, while the same phenomenon in Islamic nations is so terrible. But I wish people would ask themselves one thing before taking a political stand based on any kind of morality… Is this a principle that will improve our lives, or just some ancient custom that we superstitiously cling to as a proxy for actually understanding the world around us?

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Thanksgiving from the Mind of a Social Activist – Roger Ingalls

What are you thankful for? I’ve decided to take some liberties and put myself inside the heads of various characters, people and organizations in an attempt to say what is really on their minds. If retail giants can bastardize Thanksgiving why can’t I use it to make political statements? It’s all in good fun. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wall Street, “We’re thankful for gullible conservatives.”

Kardashians, “We’re thankful for Spanx.”

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, “We’re thankful for gifts from the Koch brothers.”

The Financial Industries, “We’re thankful we get to write the regulations that govern us.”

Walmart Executives, “We’re thankful Americans prefer cheap crap over worker’s rights.”

Westboro Baptist Church, “We’re thankful we’ve created God in our own image.”

Global Warming Deniers, “We’re thankful for data culling.”

California School Board, “We’re thankful kids make good propaganda tools.”

Kermit the Frog, “I’m thankful most Americans don’t eat frog legs.”

Smokey the Bear, “I’m thankful for wildwood flowers…out here in the deep forest where no one’s around, smokey has a whole different meaning.”

Prison Industry Authority (PIA), “We’re thankful incarceration is big business and criminalizing human behavior doesn’t concern us as long as we get paid.”

Pharmaceutical Industry, “We’re thankful the Feds still won’t allow people to grow their own cheap medicine otherwise we’d be obsolete.”

Republican Politicians, “We’re thankful Americans don’t understand that Military personnel are government employees otherwise they’d understand we’re responsible for the biggest increase in government spending.”

Factory Farms, “We’re thankful military explosives and chemical fertilizers are one and the same; it makes availability cheap.”

Insurance Industry, “We’re thankful people don’t understand that business practices dictated by Wall Street eliminate a free market economy.”

Banking Industry, “We’re thankful people don’t understand that business practices dictated by Wall Street eliminate a free market economy.”

Fossil Fuel Industry, “We’re thankful people don’t understand that business practices dictated by Wall Street eliminate a free market economy.”

And me, “I’m thankful for beer and cookies.”

War, Priorities, and Hypocrisy – Tom Rossi

The reasons that the Iraq war was probably the worst idea in 40 years or so just keep piling up.

There’s the trillion-plus dollar cost, there are the thousands of American lives lost. There are the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi lives lost. There’s the environmental damage, both in Iraq and through the global effect of burning many millions of gallons of needless fuel. There is the damage done to our relationship with the Islamic part of the world. There’s the damage done to our image – both in the eyes of the world and in our own eyes, as we have descended into the realms once reserved for those we ourselves termed, “war criminals.”

When people criticize the Iraq war, they are often ridiculed in a number of ways, including being called, “pacifists.” I’m not really sure what would be wrong with being a pacifist, but I’m not really one of those.

I think that peace should be the goal – always and in possibly every situation. I think that every measure should be considered and many of them tried with due diligence before military action is undertaken.

Sometimes, military action is actually called for. As I’ve mentioned before, World War II was an example of this. But because of the Iraq fiasco, we now have little credibility, on the international stage as well as with our own populace, when it comes to the use of force.

So, what if it becomes necessary to go into action? What if the baloney about Iran’s nuclear intentions actually comes true someday? And I’m not a big fan of the United States’ role as planetary watchdog, but what if we were to decide that we just can’t put up with state-perpetrated mass murder as we are seeing in Syria?

We have dredged the bank, the collective will of our people, and the depths of the credibility of our government and there isn’t much left. The result is that when the use of our military might could actually be appropriate, it will be extremely difficult to initiate and/or sustain. We have become, simultaneously, the prodigal son and the boy who cried wolf.

It angers me to no end that we’ve spent over a trillion dollars on Iraq, and now teachers and even cops are being laid off, while libraries and schools are closing for want of money. It also angers me that we pretend to be the world’s big brother, sending our military on mercenary missions while we ignore the deaths of many thousands in places like Darfur.

I’m not against the use of our military or even our government. I’m against hypocrisy, waste, and needless deaths.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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