Hello readers! Today, it's Auntie's Odds & Ends - several
smaller items that have been floating around in the mailbag
Dear Auntie Pinko,
Lately, when I go into other forums (those where liberals
and conservatives debate), many conservatives have stopped
calling me a liberal and started calling me a socialist. Why
do you think they are calling me that now? How can I counter
I think they're calling you that because they have little
understanding of what 'liberal' means and less understanding
of what 'socialist' means. Auntie thinks it would be awfully
fun if, when they do that, you got a really pleased, surprised
look on your face and said "Really? Oh, thank you!!"
with obvious sincerity.
The ability of the right to demonize and stigmatize the
words "liberal" and "socialist" has been most distressing,
especially in how it indicates either an unwillingness or
(worse) an inability of the would-be demonizers to do sufficient
research to really understand what they're talking about.
(Incidentally, this goes just as strongly for the lefties
who say the word 'conservative' dripping with ignorant contempt.
Conservatism is a perfectly valid - and valuable - ideology
that makes an important contribution to a thoughtful public
debate and the evolution of public policy. No good purpose
is served by reducing these perfectly useful and neutral words
to the status of name-calling.)
Dear Auntie Pinko,
We seem to be in the midst of a great debate about taxes.
My question is how did the government earn its keep before
the great tax growth during the First World War? I seem to
remember something about tariffs which were very regressive
and destructive to certain groups of Americans.
As for me I really would prefer paying a tax that gets
divided among all the governmental bodies and is highly progressive.
Any chances of that?
While it is the wish of Auntie's heart to see the US tax
code reformed into a system that taxes both income and wealth
accrual fairly and progressively, for both individuals and
businesses, I am afraid I would have to say at this point
that the snowball's chances in you-know-where look much better.
Dear Auntie Pinko,
Often when I get into an argument with a conservative
person over something I see as unjust in our society, they
will bring out that classic, argument-ending trump card: "Well,
that's just life!" or "Life's not fair!" or worst of all,
"If you don't like it, why don't you just go to Canada or
something?" Now, I realize that I'm not going to be able to
pursue an intellectually deep conversation with these types
of people, but how should I respond to these "life's not fair/love
it or leave it" comments?
In one of Auntie's favorite films, "African Queen", the
character played by Humphrey Bogart attempts to excuse his
loutish behavior by saying to the character played by Katherine
Hepburn, "Aw, come on, Miss… It's just nature."
Ms Hepburn's character's response is "Nature, Mr. Allnut,
is what we are put upon this earth to overcome."
Auntie suggests that this exchange might offer you some
interesting insights into formulating a response to the above-referenced
Dear Auntie Pinko,
If there's one word I can't stand hearing it's "Patriotism."
If there's one phrase I can't stand hearing it's "Suppport
our troops." Why does everyone have to reaffirm their patriotism
before they say they don't support Bush? Am I the only one
in the world who thinks patriotism is just a manipulative
socio-political tool? Are not most wars caused and prolonged
through the concepts of nationalism/patriotism? (I think the
two words go together and nothing good every comes from either.)
Furthermore why does every anti-war remark have to start with
the preamble "I support our troops but..." Is it not ridiculous
to say you support the troops but are against the war? In
a sense are you not saying "I support the people who are killing
other people but I am against the war?" To me starting any
anti-war statement with "I support our troops" is merely an
appeasement to flag wavers and if you are trying appease flag
wavers are you any better than them?
While, as Mr. Samuel Johnson noted, patriotism may indeed
be the last refuge of the scoundrel (and it is true that much
evil is done in the name of patriotism), it is also a concept
that has helped humanity progress from a me-against-the-world
selfishness to the modest improvement of an us-against-the-world
selfishness. As such, it is not to be despised. Many sincere
and noble acts are inspired by patriotism. Don't let the scoundrels
tarnish that for you.
Auntie is herself strongly pacifist (I don't think there
are many human problems which cannot be solved by other means
than war.) I am also keenly aware of the value of self-defense,
which is represented in the larger social sense by those individuals
who are willing to place their lives between what they care
about and the carnage of war - even if, yes, that involved
committing some of that carnage themselves. In a system like
America's where the military is under the control of a civilian
government and commander-in-chief, they have little choice
about where and when they are sent to fight. They rely on
we civilians, through the government we control by our votes
and voices, to ensure that the sacrifice they offer is being
The fact that their sacrifice has been so frequently and
devastatingly abused in the last fifty years does not negate
its value to our continuing freedom. Since the troops have,
in fact, no say whatsoever over where or how they are sent
to fight, it is both logical and philosophically consistent
to make it clear that while one appreciates the sacrifices
they are making, one deplores the misuse of those sacrifices
that is being made by a civilian government. Wherein lies
the problem with this?
I appreciate your views. I live in SW Florida among the
conservatives. My problem is every time I open my mouth about
the Democratic Candidates these ultra-Republicans puff up
in criticism. I need a comeback. Will you present me with
concrete reasons to vote for John Kerry, Howard Dean, John
Edwards, Wesley Clark, Dennis Kucinich, and/or Al Sharpton?
At this time I am really impressed with Wesley Clark. Please
be brief as I find it very hard to get a word in edgewise!
Ft. Myers, Florida
The candidates all have one quality in common which should
induce anyone who cares about the quality of America's leadership
to vote for any one of them:
None of them is named "George W. Bush."
Do you have a question for Auntie Pinko?
Do political discusions discombobulate you? Are you a liberal
at a loss for words when those darned dittoheads babble their
talking points at you? Or a conservative, who just can't understand
those pesky liberals and their silliness? Auntie Pinko has
an answer for everything.
Just send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org,
and make sure it says "A question for Auntie Pinko"
in the subject line. Please include your name and hometown.