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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 09:50 PM
Original message
Last Graspland
I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against.
--Malcolm X

One of Malcolm's greatest teachings, in my opinion, involved two glasses of water one sparkling clean, and the other filthy. Place the two in front of a thirsty person, Malcolm said, and trust them to make the correct decision.

Another of Malcolm's recommendations was to read as much as possible. He said that he read virtually everything he could get his hands on, including the writings of his enemy. Malcolm said that this allowed him the opportunity to prepare mentally for those opportunities, when he could debate the enemy in a public forum. This, too, is placing a sparkling clean glass next to a filthy glass.

For this reason, I recently bought the book A Patriot's History of the United States, by Schweikart and Allen. The book is a right-wing republican attempt to counter one of my favorite books, A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn. And, of course, the Patriot's book is a filthy glass of sludge, compared to Zinn's wonderful glass of sparkling clean water.

The forward to the book of sludge includes an interview that Rush Limbaugh did with Schweikart to promote their by byproduct. In it, Schweikart refers to the book as a scholarly work, so well researched that no one on the political left could find a single error in its 900-plus pages. That claim was merely the first of many, many factual errors in the book.

Rather than list them in order, I'll start with a simple one: on page 686, the authors change the meaning of a quote by an individual they consider frighteningly left-wing, by misidentifying a murder victim from one of the 1960s most famous crimes. I am fully willing to accept that they researched every story they included in the book, and since I have never seen any other source and there were hundreds of books, magazine articles, newspaper reports, movies, and talk shows covering the crime in question I can only conclude that they purposely inserted this error. Simply put, they are purposeful liars, willing to replace truth with misinformation to promote their agenda. I wish that Malcolm X were alive today, to put them on the hot seat in a public debate. Their book is so weak that I am confident that I could spank the two of them even on Rush's show if that opportunity arose.

Unfortunately, it won't.

But what will happen is that there will be elections this fall, between democrats and republicans. In a few cases, these will be a clean democratic glass of water against republican sludge. In many more, it will be a somewhat dirty glass of a democratic candidate, against republican sludge.

I wish that I had an opportunity to vote for a candidate with the intelligence and character of a Malcolm X or a Howard Zinn. But I live in the United States, where unfortunately even the democratic party fails to put forth anything close. I could wander the streets of Washington, DC, in the manner of Diogenes of Sinopa, in search of such a politician. But I do not enjoy that luxury.

There have been a number of O.P.s and posts on threads here, complete with hand-wringing, dripping with an excess of distress, warning that if the left doesn't work as hard for democratic candidates this year, as in 2008, very bad things will happen. Sarah Palin will become president in 2012; slavery will be mandatory; and anyone caught with more than three-quarters of an ounce of Lonnie Anderson's hair will be executed on live tv.

Perhaps I should welcome these glasses of nonsense, to compare with reality. In truth, reality is surely bad enough. We need not subscribe to Schweikart & Allen's tactics of trying to sell bold-face falsehoods, nor morph into Chicken Little, and believe our own misperceptions.

I live in New York State. Recently, our Senate placed a moratorium on drilling permits, a victory for the combined efforts of the left in our state. The movement to stop frack drilling was begun by groups of progressive and liberal Democrats, Greens, environmentalists, and students. This temporary victory was accomplished by their ability to place a sparkling glass of water next to the industrial toxic sludge.

In this conflict, the majority of support came from liberal politicians. Quite a few of these politicians are minorities, who I suspect understand exactly what it is like for a community to have its resources exploited by outside interests. I'm confident that people from the left no matter if they are registered democrats or not will support these politicians whenever they seek re-election. Thirsty people will naturally choose the clean glasses of water.

Now, I'm a member of the Democratic Party. There's absolutely no chance that I will not be going to vote in any election. I always vote. I support our party's candidates, from school board to the White House. I think that is part of being a progressive democrat.

I also will participate in the campaign process. When it comes to our party's clean glasses of water, I'm always able to get some of our friends from the left Greens, socialists, etc to support them, by at least voting for them come election day. Yet the reality is that there are some murky democratic glasses of water these days. It can be difficult enough to get democrats out in an off year, unless there is a good candidate; it's simply impossible to expect the non-democratic left to rally around those murky glasses of water.

It might be a better investment of energy for those who scold the crazy left to pressure the democratic candidates to clean up their own glass. I am convinced that many of this year's elections are going to be very close, for a variety of reasons. Moderate and conservative democrats often say, without really thinking, that a third party cannot win. And, right now, a third party won't win much. But even a small group of dedicated citizens can decide the outcome of any close election. And anyone who chooses to think otherwise will certainly find that out this year.

Peace,
H2O Man
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L0oniX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 10:02 PM
Response to Original message
1. Exactly why attacking a handful of particular lefties is not a wise move.
Elections are lost over a handful of votes ....remember Florida.
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Land Shark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 10:11 PM
Response to Original message
2. K&R #5, off to the greatest page! n/t
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eilen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 10:18 PM
Response to Original message
3. Precisely
If you are getting sludge water from the well. Time to find a new well. We can try and fix it. However it gets disheartening when you find out the well owner is renting it out at night to the sludgemakers.

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MisterP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 10:40 PM
Response to Original message
4. conservative see, conservative do: they have 0 creativity, like C.S. Lewis's Hell
we have the 70s surge of investigative journalism, Earth Day, the Church Committee, detente, and pullout; they have the Powell Memo and the cancer of think tanks that gave us neoliberalism, anti-environmentalism, and the neocon warmongers

we have Nader and Erin Brockovich; they have Accuracy in Media

we have Zinn; they have Rush and Schweikart

und so weiter

we need a party that's not afraid to adopt policies that 70% of Americans want--real public option, pullout; and when people don't want something, they'll explain WHY they should support that position; it wouldn't purge or undermine a popular primary candidate because they were to the left of Richard Nixon or Oral Roberts, and then smirk and tell us that we should rely on primaries to Change the Party From Within. and it certainly wouldn't ever surpass the CPSU's Brezhnevites in levels of illegitimacy or cynicism
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 12:41 PM
Response to Original message
5. K & R
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 03:19 PM
Response to Original message
6. Apparently Some People Prefer A Dirty Glass
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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 03:40 PM
Response to Original message
7. What if both glasses are dirty?
I'll go thirsty rather than pretend and say to myself, "It is not what it is."

We are approaching the point of no-return for the planet, let alone democracy.

Thank you, H20 Man, for another must-grok essay. Readers are leaders and those who read your work are way ahead of that pack.
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 04:00 PM
Response to Original message
8. You are a better man than me
if you bought A Patriot's History of the United States and read it. I can't make myself do something like that but I suppose it gives one a perspective of one's opponent that can be achieved by not reading it.

Keep up your good work to make the world a better place.
Recommended.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 04:43 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. It's a painful read.
My family thinks I'm strange when I walk about, debating a book. Maybe I am.
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 05:42 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. I'm sure such a book pulls those debating skills out.
:) You can't fight nature.
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Scurrilous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 04:55 PM
Response to Original message
10. K & R
:thumbsup:
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robertpaulsen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 06:48 PM
Response to Original message
12. I've seen that title on the shelves of Barnes & Noble many times & thought, "Oh no they din't!"
Congratulations to you for your infinite patience in boring through that hunk of slaughtered trees. If they are going to spend all that time and energy (and trees) lying, then it gives me comfort to know that someone with your intelligence is willing to spend enough time to expose the details of their dishonesty. Thank you!
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a la izquierda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 07:25 PM
Response to Original message
13. K & R
As an historian, I thank you reading such trash. I couldn't do it!
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Bluenorthwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 08:08 PM
Response to Original message
14. Ah, there is some wisdom
Like you, most of the voters I can bring out come from the left, and it is not easy at times. We need those votes.
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Bluenorthwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 08:30 PM
Response to Original message
15. Pondering on the meaning of a word, a title..
Recently, I was in a conversation about the Zinn book, and I realized that I had been calling it "The People's History..." when the correct title is "A People's History..." and the difference between the words was a resounding realization, which opened a flood gate of possiblilities to me. The vs. A and that's all it took. Alan Ginsburg said that the most resonant line in all of Shakespeare comes from "As You Like It" a line of Rosalind's, she says "So this is the Forest of Arden." I think it does have more to it than it seems. More in fact than 'To be or not to be' and all that famous stuff....
I say this because arguing with a book is dignified when compared to arguing with a sigle word, and that the full and exacting meanings of the words we use by choice should be as understood as possible, in a language where a single letter can be a poem of great meaning.
For some reason, this post made me think of these things. So I posted them. Also, very cool about the drilling halt, a victory for NY, the people and the land.
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zeemike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 08:32 PM
Response to Original message
16. I share your commitment to voting....always have.
But no matter what the outcome of this election the GOP will tout it as a victory and say they have a mandate....then there will be more of the same until 2012.
The only thing that will shut them up is a loss in the house and the Senet....then and only then will they think about changing their ways.
Our best hope is for a massive voter turn out...and it must be massive because of certain problems we have with the counting of votes.

And I also agree with the strategy of reading your enemy's books....it can be very inlightening....but I skip most of the trash.
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Ignis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 08:59 PM
Response to Original message
17. K&R, but I strongly disagree with "clean up their own glass."
The letters "G" and "L" in the final word are entirely unnecessary.
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 09:14 PM
Response to Original message
18. Excellent topic, beautifully written. K & R nt
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 09:56 PM
Response to Original message
19. My wife encourages me to do the dishes and double-check that the glasses are really clean. Peace 2U
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democrank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-13-10 05:05 AM
Response to Original message
20. Eloquent as usual. Thank you, H20 Man.
Hope you are doing well.
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