Monday, September 24, 2012


I intended to write a different post.  I  had planned to lead off with the line "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."  I'm sure most of you have heard that before, and probably have heard it attributed to Sinclair Lewis, as I did.

It is my policy, however, before using a well-known quotation, to research it a little first, to see if it was actually ever said by the person it is associated with.  All too often, it wasn't.  Some previous examples: as far as I can tell,  Lenin never referred to "useful idiots," and Mussolini never said "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism...." among others.

It is entirely possible that those to whom these quotations are misattributed may well have agreed, in whole or in part, with the sentiments expressed.  I suppose this is how they often get misattributed in the first place;  they sound like something that person might have said.  Even so, in the end, they aren't quotations, and really shouldn't be used as such.  Unless we don't care.

Some people don't.

But anyway, though Sinclair Lewis might well have agreed with that line, it appears he never said it.  However, while looking into it, what I found was even more interesting, more telling, and certainly more appropriate:  

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

Many variants of this exist, but the earliest known incident of such a comment appears to be a partial quote from James Waterman Wise, Jr., reported in a 1936 issue of The Christian Century that in a recent address here before the liberal John Reed club said that Hearst and Coughlin are the two chief exponents of fascism in America. If fascism comes, he added, it will not be identified with any "shirt" movement, nor with an "insignia," but it will probably be "wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the constitution."

 - The Christian Century, Volume 53, Feb 5, 1936, p 245

Interesting.  We will leave aside, for the moment, the question of whether the word fascism itself has in fact, as Orwell argued,  lost all meaning beyond the simplistic "something bad."  Let's instead consider the "revised" quotation as it stands.  Personally, I find that more interesting, more telling, more appropriate.

Respectfully Yours, 


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Do The Math

I've held off for a long time in writing political posts.  It never makes me feel any better.  And I'm always left with the feeling that the people who need to read them won't and, if by some chance they do, they won't believe what it contains, so what's the point?

I've been following politics in the Middle East since the late 70s, when some close family friends were stationed in Tehran.  And I was fascinated, and sometimes horrified, by how much what we heard from them differed from what we heard on the news.

Now these folks were right in the center of the action.  One day, the father, a college friend of my own dad, came home and said to his family "Pack one small bag each.  We're leaving now!"  They did so, went to the airport, and bought four tickets on the absolute next flight out of Tehran, ending up in Mali.

A week or so later, most of America started paying attention to Iran, if you know what I mean.

So anyway, with the Middle East yet again front and center in the news, I'm going to answer the question that won't be asked or, if it is, won't be answered truthfully:

Q:  Why do so many people in the Middle East seem to hate America?

A:  Because of:

a)  Our "freedom."

b)  Our "Christianity."

c)  Decades of misguided foreign policy, promoted by both Democratic and Republican administrations, dictated by, and catering to the exclusive needs of, our "friends," both foreign and domestic, in d'awl bidness:  a little coup here, a little backing of  near-totalitarian but U.S. business-friendly regimes there, and a whole lot of arms-dealing everywhere

Which answer makes the most sense to you?

Now this does not address completely the rise of radical Islam, however, it does account for its appeal to a large number of otherwise average shlubs:  "These people have made your life worse;  we will make it better."  There is just enough plausibility to that to sell it.  And sell it they do.


A small digression:  Right-wing religious nuts are the same everywhere, whether they wear turbans or ties and regardless of what book they choose to thump.  Give them political power and this is what you get.

I saw Hillary on TV this morning saying "Religious tolerance goes back to the very founding of our country."  What?!?  Some of my ancestors founded this country.  They were Puritans: actual, witch-hunting Puritans, almost straight out of The Crucible.  Their only notion of religious freedom was to have the freedom to practice as they chose and deal rather brutally with anyone else.

On the Catholic side of my family, we have the Inquisition.  See?  Right-wing religious nuts are the same everywhere.


None of this addresses what our response ought to be to events in the Middle East.  To suggest that we can just let our people be killed is silly.  On the other hand, our response should be based in reality, as outlined in item "c" above.  That needs to be understood first.

You are welcome to interpret events differently, as long as you understand that any interpretation that does not take into account the points outlined in item "c" is fundamentally incorrect

Let's wrap up with a little math:

Number 1 oil-producing country:  Saudi Arabia
Number 2 oil-producing country:  Iraq
Number 3 oil-producing country:  Iran

Number of Saudis among the 19 hijackers on 9/11:  15
Number of Iraqis among the hijackers:  0
Number of bombs dropped on Saudi Arabia:  0
Number of bombs dropped on Iraq:  ???

Number of Saudi princes heavily invested in FOX "News":  1

Q:  In what country are the neo-cons itching to go to war next?

You do the math.

A final thought:  first, let's consider how well the war in Iraq went.  Now, let's consult an almanac (reality-based readers only.)  Roughly speaking, it appears that Iran has twice the population and three times the area of Iraq.

You do the math.

Very Truly Yours,



Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Presented without comment.  Click to listen.

Respectfully Yours,