Civil Discourse

The short speech below comes with two caveats, the first being that Oliver Cromwell was a social and political disaster for England and the evolution of English democracy.  Secondly, there are no written records of his exact words 360 years ago when he dissolved the “Rump Parliament” by force a few months prior to being sworn in as Lord Protector for life of the new British Commonwealth.

That being said, Cromwell was by no means the first or last political character to use an eloquent tongue for personal, venal purposes.  Indeed, his skill in such matters made it all the easier to identify those same failures in others, and the recollections of several auditors of his remarks vary little.

Cromwell to the Congress on the conclusion of selfish, pointless strife April 20,1653:

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice: ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

“Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse: gold is your God: which of you have not barter’d your  conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

“Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

“In the name of God, go!”


Commentary and analysis talk shows shouldn’t necessarily be held to the standards of hard news where facts are supposed to be confirmed by two or more independent sources, but during a panel discussion of Weiner’s juvenile behavior, in the course of which similarly bad behavior by Elliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods and others was brought into play, the host (a woman I respect) signed off by noting that the philanderers and adulterers named were all men. 

By no means is bad behavior be excused, but the obvious inference to be drawn from the host’s statement – that women are faithful and men aren’t – was at best a value judgment wholly  unsupported by facts and as such of no value in advancing progress toward gender equality.  Indeed, unsupported statements easily become cannon fodder for conservative reactionaries.

There have been numerous reputable studies on the subject of infidelity beginning with the Kinsey Reports of 1948 (men) and 1953 (women).  Though primitive and highly flawed by modern research standards, the Kinsey Reports basic findings remain intact: men and women both wander from the nuptial bed in statistically significant numbers.  The reasons vary and men do indeed stray more often than women,  but the percentages are similar and women are catching up fast.

There are also wide discrepancies in how many individuals stray, but according to serious researchers it is in no case is it more than 25% and some studies maintain that a truer figure is around 6%.  Part of the difficulty faced by researchers is that by the very nature of the questions being asked it must be assumed that some of the subjects are lying.  There is no professional agreement on how much lying is involved or how to factor lying into statistical results.  (Psychology Today has an interesting article on the subject posted here and some relevant statistics from the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy can be found here.)

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As these words are written, Secretary of State John Kerry has announced agreement with Israel and the Ramallah government to restart peace talks, a Foreign Ministerial-level meeting is to be held shortly,

Ramallah continues both its condemnation of “Zionist atrocities” and reiterates its willingness to conduct negotiations on the basis of pre-1967 borders, Israel has said a return to pre-1967 borders – which would leave only 9.3 miles from the Mediterranean to  hostile Arab territory  – is out of the question but it will release 104 prisoners as a token of good faith.

Mahmoud Abbas, who in the past has said “We want the Israelis to leave. They want to leave – so let us let them leave” said on Monday in a briefing to mostly Egyptian journalists quoted by Reuters, less than a day after Kerry’s announcement, “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands.”

Hamas has reiterated its refusal to negotiate anything at all with Israel under any circumstances whatsoever.  Hamas may be the only honest player on the field.

Some things never change; if the talks do, in fact, take place they will fail as always.  As Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban said at the Geneva Peace Conference with Arab countries (December 1973), “[t]he Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”  However, Eban’s aphorism missed the fact, incomprehensible to reasonable minds, that these “failures” have been a deliberate policy from the start. 

Arab leaders in the West Bank and Gaza don’t want their own state, and never have except as a tactical feint to an overarching objective.  What they do want is the obliteration of Jews and Israel at any cost and under any pretext.

As PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein said in a March 31, 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw: “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people” to oppose Zionism.

Herewith, the Escher-Aiken Roadmap to Peace in the Middle East, a simple plan named for the late Senator George Aiken (R-VT) who, during  the turmoil over US involvement in Southeast Asia, said “the best policy is to declare victory and get out”, which, of course, is what finally happened, and  the Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher, renowned for drawing physical objects that couldn’t possibly exist.

The four points of the Escher-Aiken Roadmap:

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One Man’s Opinion”  is a liberal, progressive survey of contemporary society, culture, arts, and humanities.  Since controversial topics will be discussed at times, there are a few straightforward rules to be observed:

1:  Civility must reign at all times.  Argument and civility aren’t mutually inconsistent.

2:   Familiarity with the basic structure of the English language is expected.

3:  Facts are often open to interpretation. Disagreeing views are welcome.

Comments are a vital part of any active site.   I may occasionally offer a Comment to clarify a point or two but for the most part I ask that active participants carry on the discussion among themselves.  If you want to contact me directly without posting a Comment, please click HERE.

Thank you / P.B.Faoro

© 2013

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The principle explaining why a stopped clock is right twice daily explains why I sometimes agree with Kentucky’s new, wet behind the ears, Senator Rand Paul. His inner mechanism isn’t processing information but since he keeps talking it shouldn’t be a surprise that an occasional thought issues forth. Almost every time he opens his mouth, however, Rand Paul demeans himself, denigrates the Senate, and insults thinking people everywhere no matter their social or political stripe.One Man’s Opinion
I plead guilty to being a liberal progressive. I haven’t changed much since the 60’s and 70’s when my hair was below my shoulders, I marched against the war in southeast Asia, and smoked pot. Even then I still listened to what reputable conservatives had to say. Sometimes I learned something. (I still read National Review, but try to do so when nobody is looking.) Rand Paul could take a hint..

Back then, one of my heroes was the conservatives’ conservative, William F. Buckley, (who once unraveled a guest with the truly Churchillian put-down “I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting you actually believe what you just said.”) Buckley did his homework, knew what he was talking about, and put it in terms people understood. Limbaugh and his fellow travelers don’t come near the Buckley gold standard; George Will, whom I also enjoy regularly, has flashes of Buckley in him but can also be overly strident. Besides, he’d rather be Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Unlike our very junior senator and his adoring Fox News dweebs, Buckley was comfortable with guests to his political left on “Firing Line“, nor were they reluctant to come on the show; they knew they would be treated with respect. You might not agree with Buckley, but you could follow his reasoning. Rand Paul fails the follow-the-reasoning test in glorious fashion; one would suspect he’s proud of it.

Never mind that Junior made a fool of himself showboating during the Benghazi hearings, attacking Hillary Clinton without knowing Turkey was one of our few allies in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean. Much more disturbing is his oft-repeated but baseless “warning” that the US is headed in the same direction that led the German people to elect the Nazi monster, thus leading the German nation to utter ruin and launching a total war that nearly destroyed civilization itself. Despite his repeated denials that these allegations are directed toward the Obama Administration – which is patently untrue, and I think racist at bottom – the fact that he keeps repeating them is confirmation that he is deliberately using a variant of the “Big Lie” stratagem, an expression coined by none other than the Adolf Hitler Junior so gleefully warns us about.
The future Fuhrer first used the term in Mein Kampf, describing a lie “so colossal that no one could believe anybody would have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” In other words, make a lie big enough, and repeat it loudly and often enough that it becomes accepted truth. Sen. Neranderpaul is a Master of the Big Lie. Happily, few besides those who agree with him a priori are listening.
Facts are bothersome things for Junior and he probably shouldn’t do his homework or visit because either would demolish his fantasy world. The truth is that there are vast differences between the United States today and Germany in the early 1930’s, not the least being that Hitler was never elected to anything. Ever. Not even dog catcher. Nazi #1 was appointed Chancellor in a back room deal and used the position to destroy the already weak Wiemar government, replacing it with his dictatorship under the Third Reich..
Other facts the secondary Senator would dislike, simply because they are facts, include: although the German government in the early 1930’s was extremely weak it was nonetheless centralized. Germany had only a negligible history with democracy whereas by the time of the American Revolution, the Colonies already had a 300 year history of self-government.. The US is also one of the least centralized countries in the world with over 45,000 elective positions at all levels of government none of which are answerable to Washington. That number includes Congress, the judiciary, and state and local governments. US history is replete with instances in which Washington has been successfully told to go pound salt.
 Other inconvenient facts are that, despite sketchy records, the total German military in 1930, including paramilitary groups like the Gestapo, was approximately 23% of the total population, meaning Germany had around 2 active military personnel per sq. mile. In modern America the total military represents about 7% of the population including 40% in the Reserves and another 13% deployed overseas. The US averages one-third of a soldier per sq. mile. Even if the Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted to control the people they don’t have the manpower. Hitler did.
Or how about this one, senator: unemployment in 1930 Germany was 43%; in modern America the rate is 7.6% or one-sixth that of prewar Germany. The US rate is dropping, albeit slowly; in prewar Germany it was growing rapidly. How about inflation? We’ve all seen pictures of Wiemar Germans running to the bank with wheelbarrows full of worthless money (inflation was then 41% per day) hoping to get there before the Mark was devalued again; current US inflation is 2.0%.
About that dangerous direction in which we’re headed, sir, please tell us again where you see it.
I once saw a framed plaque in a lawyer’s office that said, “Ignorance can be fixed; Stupid is forever.” Rand Paul calls the first part into question.