Do NFL players have the right to protest perceived social injustice at a football game during the playing of the National Anthem? It’s an interesting question. Is there a “team” or “league” rule that prohibits such conduct? It doesn’t appear so. I guess the owners can fire someone if they want to; then it becomes an internal matter, and the NFL Players Union gets involved and law suits get filed. What does the US Constitution say about it? Is it a matter of free speech? Conduct, i.e., kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem, is considered an expression of free speech under the US constitution. As long as your conduct doesn’t involve harm to another human being it’s protected under the 1st amendment of the Bill of Rights to the US constitution. So it appears players do have a right to protest during the playing of the National Anthem. But some if not most people look at the issue emotionally not logically, which includes the legal definition of free speech as defined by the US Supreme Court. Emotions run high on this issue because soldiers have died to protect our freedoms. The irony is: protesting perceived social injustice either verbally or through conduct is an expression of free speech that those soldiers died to protect.
I wanted to write a book because I feel like I have a lot of time on my hands, and, in fact, I do; so today I got up as usual after a bitter fight with my wife the night before. I developed a gambling habit; started quite innocently and then escalated; now trying to stop before I lose some serious money. But not what the fight was about. There are always parallel arguments going on when married people engage in verbal fist-a-cuffs: the obvious and not so obvious. Now she wants to apologize. She said some nasty things; all at least partly true; anyway, I refuse to talk to her. I need some time to settle my thoughts. I feel as though I’m living in a surreal universe some of the time, if not most of it. Things happen, and I hear about them, and I go about my daily activities as though nothing happened. In 1982, I wrote a book of philosophy and poetry, “The Product of My Thought,” (to paraphrase the British philosopher David Hume), fell on deaf ears. I truly believed I said some profound things but failed to get public attention because it wasn’t packaged properly; too raw for the intellectual elite: just an opinion that came out of my ass. I have no evidence to support why my book was a failure. I just had a thought: Bush keeps saying we can’t afford to fail in Iraq. Failure is a tough thing to swallow; affects your whole life. Every action is determined by the effects of success or failure. If I were a betting man, I would say 90% of the people in the world, if not more, are failures. If you are starving in Zimbabwe, you are a failure for not having enough food. You understand the gist of it, don’t you? Life’s a bitch, and then you die. It always struck me that most things are “disparate patterns of energy culminating in God’s understanding”; a line from a poem I wrote, but it’s true: on the one hand, young, innocent children starving in Zimbabwe; on the other hand, the Queen of England wearing the crown jewels to some stuffy stately affair. Only God can understand this stuff.
It feels like extreme awareness: that you can expect the worst to happen, and it always will. I lived 62 years on this great planet; witnessed many historical events. I was 18 or 19, working a summer job, laying asphalt on the streets of Chicago; remember listening to the radio with the other guys on the crew; hearing President Johnson committing hundreds of thousands of troops to fight in Viet Nam; wondering if I would have to go. I also remember the 1968 Democratic National Convention at the International Amphitheatre which has long since been torn down; Yuppies throwing bags of shit at cops on the streets of Chicago. Senator Abraham Ribicoff, perched on the podium high above the crowd, saying, “With George McGovern as president we won’t have Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago.” Mayor Richard Daley, his face red as a beet, looking up from the convention floor, yelling, “Fuck you, you Jew son-of-a-bitch! You lousy mother-fucker! Go home!” Yes, those were the good old days. And how can anyone forget the Civil Rights Movement; the Kennedy and King assassinations; riots on the streets of Chicago; Mayor Daley’s shoot to kill proclamation; and so on and so on. All there, a historical montage of events that shaped our lives; and now, living through another historical drama: the Iraq War. I guess from a historical perspective one can argue this war isn’t as bad as Viet Nam because we have lost fewer troops, and if loss of troops is the barometer of success; we are more successful than Viet Nam. I guess with logic as a measure of things, you can come up with just about any conclusion on important questions affecting what is happening in the world. But if you look at it from a human perspective, it’s a lot harder to justify. Why is that? “Well,” said the professor, “humans have feelings and emotions of intense duration sometimes lasting many years, and if impacted negatively, their minds could be affected, if you know what I mean.” In fact that is what they are doing now: looking at things from a logical perspective: are we making progress in Iraq? You can argue both ways and they will, but how do you measure logically the human suffering and devastation this war has inflicted? Natural disasters cause suffering and devastation to millions of people all the time; it’s a fact of life. See, I told you; logic used both ways; come to two different conclusions using the same set of facts and be perfectly consistent. There is no way to win. We are lost; so tragically lost. It makes me want to kill myself just so these assholes don’t get the satisfaction of winning. There is historical precedent for that way of thinking: kill yourself so your enemy doesn’t get the satisfaction of killing you. But I hold on, life is so precious it’s hard to give up; anyway, I rather fight the enemy “head on”; there is always the chance I might get lucky and kill him before he kills me. But to fight these guys and win is a long shot. They have all the resources at their disposal; for every dollar you spend, they spend a million: just look at what they are spending in Iraq. So the odds are almost impossible to beat these guys. They run the show. You and I pawns in a game we don’t understand the reasons for or why we are playing. That is a hard nut to crack. Done before: i.e., the French Revolution; the 1917 Russian Revolution; the Cuban Revolution; the American Revolution: some good, some bad, less good, worse, better, less bad, etc.; caused great changes as revolutions tend to do, but in the end a revolution is unlikely; the country is too divided, so the individual is left to fend for himself; survive as best he can. Societies inevitably attempt to suppress the rights of individuals; it is part of their nature; better societies tend to suppress less: a question of degree. “Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”—Winston Churchill. A matter of degree, but that “degree” can become a matter of “kind” when the behemoth known as the federal government reaches out and touches someone. There’s no feeling like it; you are in for the fight of your life. Their aim is to annihilate you unless you cooperate and give up your integrity, and once they have broken your will, they have accomplished their purpose. They hate anyone who dares challenge their authority. Yes, the United States is the greatest nation in the world, or is it because we say it is? I often hear: this is the greatest nation in the world, always in the context of something bad happening. You know how it is bad to compare individual circumstances, so also to compare one nation to all the rest. Yes, we make mistakes, but we are the greatest nation in the world, so it is ok to make mistakes.
I decided this is more like a diary than a book.
September 6, 2007: as I peruse CNN world news home page, two bullet points hit me: one said, “Seven American soldiers killed in Iraq.” The other said, “Bush: ‘we are kicking ass in Iraq.’” The juxtaposition of two opposite concepts makes me think of the absurdity of life; that life is contradictions in terms, you know, like saying, I will live forever. One could argue that implicit in the concept of life is the concept of death. If that were true, the statement “I will live forever” would be a contradiction in terms. Of course, if the concept of death is not implicit in the concept of life, one could argue that the statement “I will live forever” is a perfectly plausible statement. I observe other people die; this makes me think that I too will die, but it’s not a necessary proposition. David Hume said: “That the sun will not rise tomorrow is no less intelligible a proposition, and implies no more contradiction, than the affirmation, that it will rise.” But the sun has risen for a long time and is a great thing to witness, although sunsets are more exciting; there’s something about watching the sun sink below the horizon, touching water as it descends that makes me think of timelessness. Bill Clinton wrote a book, “How Each of Us Can Change the World.” My first thought was: Why didn’t you change the world when you were president? I mean, if there ever was an opportunity that was it. There’s that dichotomy again; doesn’t matter who the character is–the dichotomy is always there. I’m sure if I read the book there would be good ideas in it, but I won’t, and I like skimming the surface anyway. On September 6, 2007, Bush said, “We are kicking ass in Iraq”; that same day four American troops were killed in Al Amber province.
Where will it end?
This madness we have begun
“Nowhere,” said the man in the sky
It’s too late for that
We will muddy through for a long time
It’s hard when thing don’t work out the way you want; you’re left with a situation you hate and nothing you can do to change it; all a part of life I guess, like losing a game of cards I knew I could win. “We will muddle through for a long time.” It amazes me that the decision makers never face the consequences of their decisions; it is left for others, like the young men and women fighting and dying in Iraq while Bush and Chaney, (two relatively unknown personalities that destiny bestowed favors on) live a lifestyle far beyond what their capabilities would have allowed. Jimmy Carter said, “Life is unfair.” I like what Buster Keaton said, “Well, it was a great life-sure it was.” Sunday’s talk shows: “Virtually impotent,” said Frances Fragos Townsend, Bush’s Dept. of Homeland Security advisor, as she referred to Osama Bin Laden’s new video tape that apparently demonstrates he is still alive. “With telephone and TV it’s not so much the message as the sender that is sent.”—Marshall McLuhan. Tough words coming from Mrs. Townsend; someone no one ever heard about. I mean, what have you done to warrant such media coverage except work for the Bush administration? And how does that qualify you to say anything about Osama Bin Laden? But then again, this is a propaganda war. Bush and his cronies know how to manipulate the media. It is a symbiotic relationship; you rub my back, I rub yours; that is how it goes in surreal land. “But this tape appears to be nothing more than threats. It is propaganda on their part,” said Frances Fragos Townsend. What about the propaganda from the Bush administration that got us into this war in the first place? That doesn’t count because it’s “are propaganda” and everyone knows “are propaganda” is better than theirs. Isn’t that right, Mrs. Frances Fragos Townsend? Propaganda neatly packaged.
US news and world report article posted 11/29/04 described Mrs. Townsend: “Petite, blond, expensively dressed, and telegenic to boot, Frances Fragos Townsend is a far cry from the rumpled suits and ramrod-straight law enforcement types who typically work the Washington terrorism beat.”
It’s like watching a beautiful woman give the weather report. “With telephone and TV it’s not so much the message as the sender that is sent.” And that’s what Bush did. He sent this petite, expensively dressed, telegenic blond to deliver a message: Osama Bin Laden is “virtually impotent”; and so it goes in surreal land, the truth is what you make it.
September 10, 2007: I make a prediction: after General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker testify before congress, nothing will change.
September 11, 2007: I was right, nothing has changed; the game is still on; the players want to win, not the war, but the public opinion battle; they know the war is lost; they are fighting to keep face so they don’t look like the assholes they are. It doesn’t matter how many soldiers die; how much money spent; what matters are their reputations. But the truth is, they have already destroyed what reputations they had, but the game must go on. They will never admit their mistakes. They will never take responsibly for all the pain and suffering they have caused. The truth has finally emerged from the shadows, we will be in Iraq for a very long time, and there is no end in sight. And they wonder why comparisons are made to Viet Nam. The shell game is over; the general and ambassador no longer center stage; now it is Bush’s turn to continue the fiasco from the oval office, (draped in the American flag; photos of his wife and kids; the Bold Eagle emblem at his side), telling the American people we need to stay in Iraq for as long as it takes to win the war; the war we already lost. It is so easy to hate this man, but that is a trap we can’t afford to fall into.
September 13, 2007 CNN World news: Soldiers who signed anti-war op-ed piece die in Iraq
STAFF SGT. Yance Gray and Sgt. Omar Mora killed in truck accident in Iraq
Soldiers in New York Times on Iraq war: “We have failed on every promise”
Another soldier who signed the op-ed was shot in the head but survived………….
How do you forgive him? That is the question, and it means everything. If we could forgive him, we could move on, but we can’t; stuck with him; feel the pain and hopelessness he feels; tied together because what he did is unforgivable. If we could forgive him, we could move on, but we can’t.
September 20, 2007 New York Times: Effort to Shift Course in Iraq Fail in Senate
“I endorsed it,” Mr. Warner said of Mr. Webb’s plan. “I intend now to cast a vote against it.”
There you have it, that dichotomy again: is that what life is all about? Is there no clear truth or understanding of anything anymore? Is everything a dichotomy? Can we posit nothing that is real? Do we really live in surreal land? I was watching a program about parallel universes: people in one universe don’t know what people in the other universe are doing, even though they are the same people. Maybe that explains what is going on, or is it simple a lack of balls by the people in charge: can’t agree because they don’t have the balls to do the right thing. A lack of courage while brave men and women die for their country; that would be unconscionable if true, but then again, we have established truth is unknowable. So what is the bottom line in the real world? Nothing has changed. The war will go on for as long as it takes, and no one knows how long that will be.
September 25, 2007 CNN World news: 24 die in Iraq peace meeting blast
“When will the madness end?” John D’Arco said upon reading the CNN world report headline. The President responded, “When we are confident the Iraqi government can fend for itself.” “And how long is that?” An innocuous reporter asked. “As long as it takes,” the President said. “And how long is how long it takes, Mr. President?” “How long is how long, is how long, is how long,” said the President. “OH! Now I understand,” said the reporter, “We will be there for a very long time.”
October 7, 2007: Bruce Springsteen wrote a song, “Last to Die,” subtitled, “Last to Die for a Mistake.” Who will be the last to die for a mistake? My wife and I were watching Springsteen interviewed by Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes. In response to a question, Springsteen said, “My intelligence lay.” My wife said, “It is lies not lay. You lay something down; my intelligence lies.” This was right after she was praising him for his anti-war stance. But his sentiment is in the right place, and I definitely like the title of the song. Just skimming the surface; nothing too deep; like Friedrich Nietzsche said, “They muddy the water, to make it seem deep.” Not Springsteen, not Pelley, not me, not you: then who? Who muddies the water, to make it seem deep? Those trying to hide the truth to protect their asses for some lie they told the American people to justify a war gone bad, that’s who, and we all know who that is. The game goes on; even democrats are saying there is no guarantee we will be out of Iraq by 2013.
October 16, 2007 CNN World news: IRAQ: My son and my wife were slaughtered
Ahmed, 20, was hoping to become a doctor, just like his mom and dad. But one month ago today, he was killed with his mom along with 15 other Iraqis in the Blackwater incident. Witnesses say Ahmed’s mom clutched him after he was shot, screaming, “My son! My son!”
I just can’t believe this is really happening. Ex-Supreme Commander in Iraq General Ricardo Sanchez said, “A nightmare with no end in sight.” I can’t believe this is happening.
November 6, 2007 CNN World news: 07 deadliest year for U.S. troops in Iraq/ Five U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq on Monday, making 2007 the deadliest year for the United States military in the Iraq war. According to a CNN count of Pentagon figures, 854 U.S. service members……….
Who will be the last to die for a mistake?