Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year In Books

Apparently I finished nine books this year.  I started more like fifteen.  It was a funny year ...

The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy
of John F. Kennedy
, Larry Sabato

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,
Doris Kearns Goodwin

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, Robert A. Caro

One Nation Under Gods: A New American History, Peter Manseau

1453: The Holy War For Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West, Roger Crowley

A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, Neil Sheehan

Dissent: The History of an American Idea, Ralph Young

The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Letter to Editor

Here's my most recent letter to the editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.  After years of getting every letter I send in published (even though they hack them up sometimes) I've had my last two not see print.  And haven't sent one in two or three months.  But anyway, here it is:

I'm afraid I have to disagree with the main point of a Thursday letter (Pitts didn't address the whole problem).  He starts by missing the point of Pitts' analogy (fix what's obviously broken, then work on other issues).  The letter's point is that unless something is done about 'black on black' crime it will do no good to address the issue of biased law enforcement.  I suppose you could argue that black perpetrators aren't treated any differently by the police than white perpetrators but you can't really argue that even if they are, nothing should be done until 'black on black' crime ceases completely, can you?  There will always be black on black crime, as there will always be white on black, black on white, white on white, male on female, female on male, dog on cat (can I stop now?).  

The statement that Pitts finds fault with, 'All Lives Matter,' isn't wrong, of course, they do.  Were it to say All Lives Matter EQUALLY I think 'both sides' could agree.  Yes?  Or how about, Black lives matter TOO?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Well Here's a New Letter to the Editor (Imagine that) ...

Among the many 'discussion points' provided by the writer of the Sunday letter, Secular Left Has No Moral Authority On Abortion, it is his final question that I will address.

"How can a secular atheist logically question my morality when their worldview does not believe objective morality even exists?"

I can't even answer the question for him, as it rests on a flawed assumption, that 'objective morality' exists.  It doesn't; it can't.  If it did it would follow that somewhere there is an object that can be consulted when we have a question on whether or not something is 'moral.'  And further that we accept that the object can't be wrong.  No, if we wish to know whether something is or is not 'moral' we can only consult our fellow subjects.  Since no one of us is recognized as an ultimate authority we do the only thing that we can do.  We discuss, we argue.  Ultimately we decide.  Collectively.  'Morality' is subjective, as is all knowledge.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Here's My Latest

A letter Friday purports to address the failure of 'liberalism' toward 'Black America.'  It's short on specifics but it does have two bold statements which I take to be its main points.  First, "Black people in America have dug a hole they may never get out of by allowing liberalism to rule their lives."  If a hole was dug out of which 'Black people in America' may never get out, it was dug by slavery.  Yes, slavery in America ended 150 years ago, but its legacies live on.  Current wealth disparities between the 'races' can be directly traced to the fact that at the time America was expanding to its current geographic configuration and the real estate was being distributed, African-Americans weren't allowed to participate.  Add on 100 years of Jim Crow laws and de facto discriminatory policies in the northern states, when African-Americans were kept out of the 'good' neighborhoods and many of the best paying jobs and we come about to where the letter's second bold statement begins.

"The liberal Democratic Party has had its foot on the chest of black people for 60 years with promises that aren't kept."  What began sixty years ago?  Is this a reference to Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that racial discrimination in public education was unconstitutional?  Or the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was also resolved in federal court, with a ruling that racial discrimination in public facilities was also unconstitutional?  There were some promises made there, starting with equal access.  Those promises have been kept.  Or did the letter writer do the math wrong and he really meant 50 years, with the passage of The Civil Rights Act and The Voting Rights Act?  Two more kept promises. 

Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Spock, Logic, ... Conservative?

"Spock should become the mascot of the Conservative movement... 'LOGIC', not emotions."

This was somebody's comment on facebook today, on a post featuring a picture of Leonard Nimoy's Star Trek character Spock, with the word 'LOGIC' as a caption.  I didn't reply there because I don't know the person and don't know how she would react to my thoughts on the matter and I've learned over the years that I don't need to engage with everybody with whom I disagree, but I do want to say a few things.

First, I guess I have to assume some things regarding what the commenter means by the 'Conservative movement.'  Typically we hear calls for 'smaller government,' 'lower taxes,' fewer regulations on business, and sometimes an even broader interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.  Is favoring those things logical, and is opposing them therefore illogical?  I certainly don't see it but I'm willing to hear the case made, I guess.  What I tend to hear, though, is appeals to emotion.  This is true of 'both sides' in political debates, of course.  Humans are emotional beings and if you want to sway them an appeal to their emotions is generally quite effective. 

Would it be 'better' if politicians appealed to our logic more and our emotions less?  Maybe.  I know I would prefer it.  I recently referred to myself as 'a Spock, not a Kirk,' when suggesting what would be the best way to appeal to me.  Do 'Conservative' politicians appeal more to logic than their counterparts?  I certainly don't see it.  Does anybody?  Listen to the noise coming from CPAC these last couple days.  Is that anything BUT appeals to emotion?  Logic would indicate that compromise is the only way Congress can govern, in our system.  Do 'Conservatives' acknowledge that?  Which ones?  Jeb Bush?  You certainly don't win points at CPAC calling for compromise.

Fascinating ...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Here's a New One

My latest letter to the editor:

For probably the first time ever Charles Krauthammer, President Obama and I all agree on something (sort of).  Chuck and I agree that the President is 'ambivalent' about the 'war on terror.'  The President and I agree that ambivalence (at least) is the way to feel.  Because while we do despise terrorism and condemn the people and groups that practice it we also detest war.  How could we not be ambivalent?

So here's something I want you to consider.  It won't be the first time you've heard this, either.  Maybe (just maybe), after thirteen years and counting of a 'War On Terror,' with no end in sight, MAYBE we need to consider the possibility that 'War Is Not The Answer.'

You think?

Friday, January 9, 2015


We were talking about the upcoming Packers-Cowboys game last night and I shared my belief that the Packers could very well lose.  And the guy said to me, 'you sure don't have much faith.'

And I said well no, I suppose I don't. 

But why would I?  They're going to play Sunday.  One team will win, one will lose.  My faith or lack of same will play no part.  So it doesn't help them win.  Is it supposed to help me, so I don't 'despair' in the days before, maybe?  No need, I feel just fine.  I'll feel sad if they lose and I'll feel happy if they win but having 'faith' in the interim won't change any of that.

Am I missing something?

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 Book List

A list of the books I read in the last year:

The Beatles: All These Years Vol. One
Tune In

Mark Lewisohn

The Unfinished Odyssey of Robert Kennedy
David Halberstam

Under The Banner Of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Jon Krakauer

Remembering America: A Voice From the Sixties
Richard N. Goodwin

An Autobiography by Wilt Chamberlain
and David Shaw

In The Name Of God: The True Story of the Fight
to Save Children From Faith-Healing Homicide

Cameron Stauth

Nice Guys Finish Last
Leo Durocher with Ed Linn

And Man Created God: A History of the World
at the Time of Jesus,
Selina O'Grady

Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, Robert Caro

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent
Robert Caro

Coach: A Season With Lombardi, Tom Dowling

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate,
Robert Caro

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power
Robert Caro

The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
Rick Perstein

Marathon Man, William Goldman

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,
Reza Aslan

Brothers, William Goldman