Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

Category: Politics (Page 1 of 4)

Important Words About “Celebrating” The Confederacy

I have written here before about my heritage.  Some of my ancestors were Union enlisted men who fought and some died in the Civil War.  My family has always payed great homage to Abraham Lincoln and how he saved this country from those who would have destroyed this country because they wanted to own other human beings.  

Those who would argue that the Civil War was about “states rights” and not slavery should read the secession proclamations of the various Confederate states.  For example, Mississippi stated in the second paragraph of its declaration:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. 

Against this backdrop, some in this country have celebrated the Confederacy since the war ended. Much of this celebration of Confederate soldiers was actually directed at trying to rewrite this history.  Recently, many towns and cities across the south have finally decided that this rewriting of history and celebrating those who took up arms against the United States to defend slavery and human bondage can no longer be justified.  One of the clearest and most forceful statements about this legacy is the speech given this week by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.  Here is his speech in its entirety.  Bravo Mayor Landrieu!!!

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Can A New Sense Of Country Before Party Take Hold?

Among all the political and legal noise that was created last week, I think one thing that was sorely missed was this exchange between Gov. Kasich and Sen. Sanders.  I think both of these people have identified the important problems facing our country, and I agree much more with Gov. Kasich about what the solutions to those problems might be.  However, I, more than anything, appreciate the civil and intellectual tone that both take in this discussion.  This is what we need to get back to!

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More Words of Wisdom From A Past Leader

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Wisdom From Martin Luther King, Jr. For These Times

On 3 December 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered an address to the First Annual Institute on Non-Violence and Social Change in Montgomery, Alabama.  I read this again last week and found much that resonated in today’s world.  One section in particular speaks to politics today:

Another thing that we must do in speeding up the coming of the new age is to develop intelligent, courageous and dedicated leadership. This is one of the pressing needs of the hour. In this period of transition and growing social change, there is a dire need for leaders who are calm and yet positive; leaders who avoid the extremes of “hot-headness” and “Uncle Tomism.” The urgency of the hour calls for leaders of wise judgement and sound integrity–leaders not in love with money but in love with justice; leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity; leaders who can subject their particular egos to the greatness of the cause. To paraphrase [Joshua Gilbert] Holland‘s words:

God give us leaders!
A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts,
true faith and ready hands;
Leaders whom the lust of office does not kill;
Leaders whom the spoils of life cannot buy;
Leaders who possess opinions and a will;
Leaders who have honor; leaders who will not lie;
Leaders who can stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous
flatteries without winking!
Tall leaders, sun crowned, who live above the fog
in public duty and private thinking.

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A Great Man Honored

I think these two men have done a great job.  I don’t always agree, but you couldn’t find two finer men.

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Words For These Times

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

George Washington, Farewell Address 1796

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The Other Adult In The Room

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What If Everyone Was Carrying A Concealed Firearm?

I was talking to a friend today about gun control policies.  As a scientist, he was trying to think through how to formulate the problem of what is the optimal fraction of the American population that should be armed via conceal-carry permitting.  I should point out that my friend does not own a gun, and I believe his personal views are that the best fraction would be 0%.  However, he wants to analyze the problem as a scientist, because he knows his personal preferences do not decide public policy and may even not be correct.  I wish all our politicians had such an inquisitive mind and rational/analytical curiosity for applying the best techniques to deliberating about public policy. 

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Morality and Idealism Do Matter

The opening paragraph of Theodore Roosevelt’s book American Ideals: And Other Essays, Social and Political states the following:

In his noteworthy book on National Life and Character, Mr. Pearson says: ” The countrymen of Chatham and Wellington, of Washington and Lincoln, in short the citizens of every historic state, are richer by great deeds that have formed the national character, by winged words that have passed into current speech, by the examples of lives and labors consecrated to the service of the commonwealth.” In other words, every great nation owes to the men whose lives have formed part of its greatness not merely the material effect of what they did, not merely the laws they placed upon the statute books or the victories they won over armed foes, but also the immense but indefinable moral influence produced by their deeds and words themselves upon the national character. It would be difficult to exaggerate the material effects of the careers of Washington and of Lincoln upon the United States. Without Washington we should probably never have won our independence of the British crown, and we should almost certainly have failed to become a great nation, remaining instead a cluster of jangling little communities, drifting toward the type of government prevalent in Spanish America. Without Lincoln we might perhaps have failed to keep the political unity we had won; and even if, as is possible, we had kept it, both the struggle by which it was kept and the results of this struggle would have been so different that the effect upon our national history could not have failed to be profound. Yet the nation’s debt to these men is not confined to what it owes them for its material well-being, incalculable though this debt is. Beyond the fact that we are an independent and united people, with half a continent as our heritage, lies the fact that every American is richer by the heritage of the noble deeds and noble words of Washington and of Lincoln. Each of us who reads the Gettysburg speech or the second inaugural address of the greatest American of the nineteenth century, or who studies the long campaigns and lofty statesmanship of that other American who was even greater, cannot but feel within him that lift toward things higher and nobler which can never be bestowed by the enjoyment of mere material prosperity.

This is a fantastic statement about why character, moral example, and the art of language does matter in our political leaders.

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These Are Two Real Americans!

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