Big Brass Blog is a group blog founded in February of 2005 by Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare's Sister). The mission of this collaborative effort is to stand as the premiere forum where strong, enduring voices of Progressivism provide what liberal politics has been missing: the unapologetic, unrelenting voice of liberalism in the darkness visited upon our world by Right-wing extremists, their ruinous policies, and their hypocritical beliefs.
She remembers the moment. The photographer took her picture. She remembers her anger. The man was a stranger. She had never been photographed before. Until they met again 17 years later, she had not been photographed since.
The photographer remembers the moment too. The light was soft. The refugee camp in Pakistan was a sea of tents. Inside the school tent he noticed her first. Sensing her shyness, he approached her last. She told him he could take her picture. "I didn't think the photograph of the girl would be different from anything else I shot that day," he recalls of that morning in 1984 spent documenting the ordeal of Afghanistan's refugees.
The portrait by Steve McCurry turned out to be one of those images that sears the heart, and in June 1985 it ran on the cover of this magazine. Her eyes are sea green. They are haunted and haunting, and in them you can read the tragedy of a land drained by war. She became known around National Geographic as the "Afghan girl," and for 17 years no one knew her name.
The mysterious Afghan girl whose direct gaze has intrigued the West for so long is Sharbat Gula. She lives in a remote region of Afghanistan with her husband and three daughters.
Sharbat was located nearly two decades after her picture appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985. She had no idea her face had become an icon, said Steve McCurry, the photographer who made the famous portrait for National Geographic in 1984, and who tried to find her again during many subsequent trips he made to Pakistan and Afghanistan. [snip]
When Sharbat agreed to have her picture taken for the second time in her life, she came out from the secrecy of her veil to tell her story. She wanted the people around the world who knew her face to know that she survived the refugee camp in Pakistan.
She married and had four daughters, one of whom died in infancy. She lives in obscurity, according to the customs and traditions of her culture and religion.
Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.
Robert Francis Kennedy
November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968
This is a Day of Affirmation -- a celebration of liberty. We stand here in the name of freedom.
At the heart of that western freedom and democracy is the belief that the individual man, the child of God, is the touchstone of value, and all society, all groups, and states, exist for that person's benefit. Therefore the enlargement of liberty for individual human beings must be the supreme goal and the abiding practice of any western society.
The first element of this individual liberty is the freedom of speech; the right to express and communicate ideas, to set oneself apart from the dumb beasts of field and forest; the right to recall governments to their duties and obligations; above all, the right to affirm one's membership and allegiance to the body politic -- to society -- to the men with whom we share our land, our heritage, and our children's future.
Hand-in-hand with freedom of speech goes the power to be heard -- to share in the decisions of government which shape men's lives. Everything that makes men's lives worthwhile -- family, work, education, a place to rear one's children and a place to rest one's head -- all this depends on the decisions of government; all can be swept away by a government which does not heed the demands of its people, and I mean all of its people. Therefore, the essential humanity of man can be protected and preserved only where the government must answer -- not just to the wealthy; not just to those of a particular religion, not just to those of a particular race; but to all of the people.
And even government by the consent of the governed, as in our own Constitution, must be limited in its power to act against its people: so that there may be no interference with the right to worship, but also no interference with the security of the home; no arbitrary imposition of pains or penalties on an ordinary citizen by officials high or low; no restriction on the freedom of men to seek education or to seek work or opportunity of any kind, so that each man may become all that he is capable of becoming.
~Speech at University of Capetown, South Africa
June 6, 1966
"Again, where the people are absolute rulers of the land,
they rejoice in having a reserve of youthful citizens,
while a king counts this a hostile element
and seeks to slay the leading ones,
all such as he deems discreet,
for he feareth for his power."
~Euripides, "The Suppliants"
"...it's very hard to ignore that Kent State thing. They were down there, man, ready to do it.
You can see them, they're all kneeling there, they're all in the kneeling position and they got their slings tight and they're ready to shoot.
And there's this kid, this long-haired kid standin' there with a flag, wavin' it...
I mean, I cannot be a man, and be a human, and ignore that."
~ David Crosby,
ROLLING STONE interview, July 23, 1970, pp. 22-23.
At Kent State University on May 4, 1970, I waved a black protest flag in front of kneeling, aiming Ohio National Guard triggermen during an anti-war confrontation under the noonday sun. Minutes later, when the "death squad" guardsmen marched away toward a campus hilltop, I was shot and wounded through my right wrist as I jumped behind an oak tree about 225 feet away from the shooters.
Four students were killed and nine of us were wounded during 13 seconds when 67 gunshots were fired into our crowd of unarmed anti-war students on the Kent State campus in Kent, Ohio. The killer guardsmen, armed mostly with powerful M-1 rifles, were ordered to shoot and kill. Then they turned and marched away from the bloody mayhem. The shooters got away with murder and never spent a day in jail.
"What lies behind us and what lies before us
are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
George W. Bush trotted into Washington in 2001 with a wagon-load of pledges, ranging from educational reform to the creation of a new bi-partisan spirit. As the sun sets on his second term —and history awaits the chance to get its claws on his legacy— the 43rd President unearths the list of promises that once made him, well, so promising.
In eight short years, America has gone from the world’s unchallenged superpower to a sapped, distracted combatant in two unending wars. How did it happen? Revisit the first draft of history with our huge archive of Bush-administration articles by world-class reporters, including Sebastian Junger, David Halberstam, and William Langewiesche.
Behind the debate over remaking U.S. financial policy will be a debate over who’s to blame. It’s crucial to get the history right, writes a Nobel-laureate economist, identifying five key mistakes —under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II— and one national delusion.
Farewell To All That: An Oral History of the Bush White House
The threat of 9/11 ignored. The threat of Iraq hyped and manipulated. Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. Hurricane Katrina. The shredding of civil liberties. The rise of Iran. Global warming. Economic disaster. How did one two-term presidency go so wrong? A sweeping draft of history—distilled from scores of interviews—offers fresh insight into the roles of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and other key players.
The White House is sending a two-page memo to Cabinet members “and other high-ranking officials” with official talking points meant to bolster President Bush’s legacy. The memo, obtained by the L.A. Times, is called “Speech Topper on the Bush Record” and looks at Bush’s presidency through distinctly rose-colored glasses:
Titled “Speech Topper on the Bush Record,” the talking points state that Bush “kept the American people safe” after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, lifted the economy after 2001 through tax cuts, curbed AIDS in Africa and maintained “the honor and the dignity of his office.”
The document presents the Bush record as an unalloyed success.
Bush has been working diligently to create a picture of a successful presidency, from a Karl Rove-directed “Bush Legacy Project” to a series of farewell interviews in which Bush has been unable or unwilling to admit a single mistake.
"One of the things important about history is to remember the true history."
~ George W. Bush, Washington, DC, June 6, 2008
When Japan attacked Pear Harbor, 67 years ago today, eighteen U.S. Navy ships were sunk or heavily damaged. The California, Nevada, West Virginia (which were rebuilt), the Oklahoma (raised but scrapped) and the Arizona were five, of the eight U. S. battleships in port, that sank.
Pearl Harbor commemoration to focus on U.S. response
Sunday's commemoration will feature a performance by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, morning colors, a Hawaiian blessing, a rifle salute by the U.S. Marine Corps and a recognition of those who survived the attack.
At 7:55 a.m., when the attack began 67 years ago, a moment of silence will be observed. The destroyer USS Chung-Hoon will render honors to the USS Arizona, which still lies beneath the harbor with its dead.
Almost 2,400 Americans were killed and nearly 1,180 injured when Japanese fighters bombed and sank 12 naval vessels and heavily damaged nine others on Dec. 7, 1941. The Arizona, which sank in less than nine minutes after an armor-piercing bomb breached its deck and exploded in the ship's ammunition magazine, lost 1,177 sailors and marines. About 340 of its crew survived.
Other major installations on Oahu, such as Wheeler Field and Kaneohe Naval Air Station, also were attacked.
'Never Forget.' As Pearl Harbor's Witnesses Slip Away The National World War II Museum Vows to Preserve Their Memories.
"Never forget." Those two words serve as both a remembrance and a call to action as America commemorates the 67th anniversary of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor this Sunday, December 7th.
The surprise air and submarine attack by Japan on the U.S. naval fleet stationed in Hawaii that early Sunday morning more than six decades ago shattered American neutrality in World War II. Pearl Harbor launched the country and its fledgling army headlong into a global conflict; it led to the invention of the atomic bomb; it created institutions, ideas and technologies that hold sway over us today.
It is impossible to overstate the significance of the "day that will live in infamy." [snip]
Though World War II was the most pivotal event of modern times, the memory of the valor and sacrifice of America's Greatest Generation grows harder to summon as the men and women who fought its battles both around the globe and on the Home Front are passing away. Veterans are dying at the rate of 900 a day, and vanishing with them: the personal stories of epic battles and deeds of sacrifice and heroism that museums and historians must keep alive.
Recognizing the importance of saving these stories for posterity, The National World War II Museum is committed to preserving veterans' histories. Museum historians have recorded more than 2,500 personal accounts from every branch of service and theater -- including more than 500 video accounts recorded in high definition. [snip]
The National World War II Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world -- why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America's National World War II Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front.
The intent to commit genocide at Washita is hidden in plain view, unless key elements are brought together. These are: that the Cheyenne were placed on land where they would starve while promises to avert starvation were broken; that George Bent observed how Civil War soldiers did not harm white women and children by a "code of honor," while Indian women and children were slaughtered; that Sheridan declared "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead;" and that the War Department did not differentiate between peaceful and warring Indians. Hence, the orders "to kill or hang all warriors." As the consequence, the intent was to kill all men of a specific race.
We’ll begin with Custer prior to the Washita Massacre along with the fact that the Cheyenne were forced onto land wherein they would starve. . .
One of the greatest speeches ever written was given after a battle that cost many Americans their lives.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Lincoln was wrong on only one point. The world did note and some of us will always remember what he said. Our job is to make sure that it wasn't in vain.
The acting was good, but the speeches were phenomenal. Culled from the history records. Now all we have is a shrub with a poor command of the English language and an inability to use it without sounding like an idiot. Every. Single. Time. He. Speaks.
If it was up to the current generations, we wouldn't be a Republic. Oops, my bad, we no longer are. I guess the truths are no longer self evident. Interesting how people are so adamant about protecting the Second Amendment and the other Amendments are just additions to an old piece of paper.
I'm reordering my Netflix queue so that I get the rest of the episodes as soon as possible.
"Nations, like men, often march to the beat of different drummers, and the precise solutions of the United States can neither be dictated nor transplanted to others. What is important is that all nations must march toward an increasing freedom; toward justice for all; toward a society strong and flexible enough to meet the demands of all of its own people, and a world of immense and dizzying change."
"People are selfish, but they can also be compassionate and generous, and they care about the country. But not when they feel threatened. That's why this is such a crucial time. We can go in either direction. But if we don't make a choice soon, it will be too late to turn things around. I think people are willing to make the right choice. But they need leadership. They're hungry for leadership."
"Men without hope, resigned to despair and oppression, do not make revolutions. It is when expectation replaces submission, when despair is touched with the awareness of possibility, that the forces of human desire and the passion for justice are unloosed."
"It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly. The future will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task."
"On this generation of Americans falls the burden of proving to the world that we really mean it when we say all men are created free and are equal before the law. All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity."
"The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of bold projects and new ideas. Rather, it will belong to those who can blend passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the great enterprises and ideals of American society."
"Moral courage is a more rare commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence."
"The future is not a gift: it is an achievement. Every generation helps make its own future. This is the essential challenge of the present."
"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and injustice."
"If we fail to dare, if we do not try, the next generation will harvest the fruit of our indifference; a world we did not want - a world we did not choose - but a world we could have made better, by caring more for the results of our labors. And we shall be left only with the hollow apology of T.S. Eliot: 'That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all'."
"I think that all of us have an obligation, we have a responsibility. If we don't do it, nobody's going to do it. If educated people don't do it, nobody's going to do it."
"President Kennedy's favorite quote was really from Dante: 'The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.'"
"Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world."
He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He will always be by our side.
Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust, or joy. But he was all of these. He loved life completely and he lived it intensely.
A few years back, Robert Kennedy wrote some words about his own father which expresses [sic] the way we in his family felt about him. He said of what his father meant to him, and I quote: "What it really all adds up to is love -- not love as it is described with such facility in popular magazines, but the kind of love that is affection and respect, order and encouragement, and support. Our awareness of this was an incalculable source of strength, and because real love is something unselfish and involves sacrifice and giving, we could not help but profit from it." And he continued, "Beneath it all, he has tried to engender a social conscience. There were wrongs which needed attention. There were people who were poor and needed help. And we have a responsibility to them and to this country. Through no virtues and accomplishments of our own, we have been fortunate enough to be born in the United States under the most comfortable conditions. We, therefore, have a responsibility to others who are less well off."
That is what Robert Kennedy was given. What he leaves to us is what he said, what he did, and what he stood for.
This is a reposting that was originally written in June of 06. Not much on the ground in Bagdhad has changed. Not really since Thucydides was writing either. I thought that this would be a nice revisiting.
dateline 431 BCE, Book III, the revolution in Corycea, describing the city and the people leading up to the rising of the city...
In peace and prosperity both states and individuals are actuated by higher motives, because they do not fall under the dominion of imperious necessities; but war, which takes away the comfortable provision of daily life, is a hard master and tends to assimilate men's characters to their conditions.
When troubles had once begun in the cities, those who followed carried the revolutionary spirit further and further, and determined to outdo the report of all who had preceded them by the ingenuity of their enterprises and the atrocity of their revenges. The meaning of words had no longer the same relation to things, but was changed by them as they thought proper. Reckless daring was held to be loyal courage; prudent delay was the excuse of a coward; moderation was the disguise of unmanly weakness; to know everything was to do nothing. Frantic energy was the true quality of a man. A conspirator who wanted to be safe was a recreant in disguise. The lover of violence was always trusted, and his opponent suspected. He who succeeded in a plot was deemed knowing, but a still greater master in craft was he who detected one. On the other hand, he who plotted from the first to have nothing to do with plots was a breaker up of parties and a poltroon who was afraid of the enemy. In a word, he who could outstrip another in a bad action was applauded, and so was he who encouraged to evil one who had no idea of it. The tie of party was stronger than the tie of blood, because a partisan was more ready to dare without asking why. (For party associations are not based upon any established law, nor do they seek the public good; they are formed in defiance of the laws and from self-interest.) The seal of good faith was not divine law, but fellowship in crime. If an enemy when he was in the ascendant offered fair words, the opposite party received them not in a generous spirit, but by a jealous watchfulness of his actions.72 Revenge was dearer than self-preservation. Any agreements sworn to by either party, when they could do nothing else, were binding as long as both were powerless. But he who on a favourable opportunity first took courage, and struck at his enemy when he saw him off his guard, had greater pleasure in a perfidious than he would have had in an open act of revenge; he congratulated himself that he had taken the safer course, and also that he had overreached his enemy and gained the prize of superior ability. In general the dishonest more easily gain credit for cleverness than the simple for goodness; men take a pride in the one, but are ashamed of the other.
Thucydides could be writing today. The places on the map may change, but as long as things are done by humans, with human natures, the results will be the same. When Athens (where they proclaimed loud and long about their love of peace while belligerently carving an empire) and Sparta (where the main focus of their military machine, considered the best in the world, was to keep the helots, greek slaves who dreadfully outnumbered the Spartans, from rising again to wipe out their brutal masters)wnet to war it was entirely avoidable. The Spartans, like Saddam were kept in a box of their own construction. They were loathe to deploy their vaunted army, because as soon as their backs were turned the helots would rise, fight, and maybe this time win. The Athenians, like the Americans, were vain, boastful, hypocrital, frivolous, and their own worst enemies. Thucydides was an Athenian general who was exiled after a victory. Over the next 28 years of warfare Athens would prove far more effective at beating itself by exiling, executing, or otherwise alienating its best and brightest military minds. Over and over they would return to demagogues like Alcibiades who would lead cavalry charges straight to ruination and defeat. The Scicilian campaign was disasterous for Athens but Sparta was in a poor position to capitalize. In the end, it was the Persians, financially backing one side, then the other, who were the real victors. Athens and Sparta never regained their pre-emininence in the world. They muddled through, both bruised and bleeding until first Alexander, then the Romans came in and took over.
I would not recommend tackling this history like a novel, but there are certain very critical parts to read.
Book 2, the funeral oration of Pericles. A classic example of an "us and them" deliniation. He also warns the Athenians that if they cease to follow the ideals that made them who they are, the Spartans win, regardless of any outcomes on the battlefield. I was reading this passage again and again during the NeoCon bullshitstorm trumping up our disasterous and idiotic Iraqi adventure.
The last gasp of the Athenians in Sicily Book 7, para 75 is heartbreaking. I read this and imagine a last stand in the Green Zone, or even worse, a disaster as they try to fight their way out of it.
Thucydides was the founder of modern historiography. He wrote in a personal style that focused on the nature of the events, and the results politically, spiritually, and economically. He was recording the death of the places and world he loved. Go, read him. Then read the papers today and tell me we have progressed much past the Bronze Age.
With the Iranian President visiting Bagdhad and being praised by Al-Maliki, look again to Thucydides and remember that the real victor in the war between Sparta and Athens was Persia. Gold and diplomacy accomplished for them what force of arms had failed to bring about.
I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)