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It is Easter. I am minded to let people know that I am still around.


Well our now not beloved Labour Government in the UK has introduced its latest budget and, like all its predecessors, taken the cheap shot of raising revenue by increased taxation of motor vehicles, cigarettes and beer. No wonder we are becoming a less sociable nation.

Whatever happened to progressive taxation and why do people accept flat taxation on purchases that ignore income levels and the ability to afford basic necessities on which this is charged?

I am a fan of taxation, properly constructed.  I have just paid the government something like $250,000 dollars inheritance tax. I don’t mind. I sadly shake my head when I hear my American friends abhor it. I know the health and social services it provides and the better society that it brings.

There is just one thing that irks me. I get a lot of correspondence from the Inland Revenue Services. It would be nice if just one of those letters said something like "Oh, by the way, we all here in the Cardiff office along with the Government just wanted to thank you for your last payment. You know we appreciated it".

On Blogging

According to emails that I receive, the perception is that the present malaise on our progressive blogs is a function of the primary wars. I am not sure that it is; I began to be switched off contributing on them long before the voting cycle began. The intolerance of ideas outside the tight boundaries of "conventional progressive thought" has become more and more marked.

For many, it is the nature of the attacks on Hilary Clinton that concern them, even when they share many of the same criticisms. Yet, who can ignore the much earlier vicious treatment of Nancy Pelosi, the enormously disrespectful response to Barak Obama when he last posted on DKos before the campaign began, and the intolerance of any broad views on economic matters? These are all indications that if you want discussion that goes outside simple polemic then you have to find it elsewhere.

There are only so many times before one can no longer go the well to draw affirmation for one's beliefs and after which what one reads becomes predictable, dogmatic and, frankly, boring. It is not the blogs’ fault that I am no longer a regular reader of their outpourings. I am simply not in their readership niche, nor am I intended to be. Fox News would take the same relaxed view about me not being one their viewers.

I guess we each have to find our own solutions. Me? I have taken up Correspondence Chess.


Although I am more sceptical than most, I truly want the judgement being exercised by many to be right that the "hope" speeches  of Barak Obama are more than just brilliant campaign rhetoric and evidence of first class marketing and promotional packaging.

I honestly do want this because I am reminded of the writing of a wise Irishman whose newspaper columns appeared many years ago under the simple initials "AE". He wrote:

The power of imagination in national life might be the subject of a great book. It is the despised faculty among the vast mass of people, who do not realise how much their whole life is ordered by imagination, a spell cast on them by some enchanter who raised up in their hearts the image of a nation, a civilization or social order"

I do want to believe that Obama will indeed be the enchanter who makes the imagined real.

That cynicism of mine? I suppose it displays itself when I read the speeches and find in them so many references drawn from elsewhere. Yet so many great leaders have done this in addressing their people, without harm and creating much good for them. I think it was Winston Churchill who said something along the lines that originality in a speech came from choosing those great statements of others that are least remembered. I guess I don’t care where the source of humane and caring inspiration comes from as long as the speaker has first taken it into his heart.

The Ultra Progressive Left

O.K. So the description "Ultra Progressive" is my own invention. It is handy, because we can all claim not to be part of such an extreme.

I use it because these seem to be the type frequenting our blogs more and more and dictating the type of discussion on them.

I am tempted at times to the viewpoint of that very English Englishman, J B Priestly,  expressed some fifty years ago:

Few people are so terrible as frustrated idealists, who begin to despise or hate ordinary human nature because it insists upon behaving like ordinary human nature. I dislike large-scale capitalism because it turns itself into a huge swindle. But even so, I would rather be at the mercy of cynical fellows, busy feathering their own nests, than find myself the victim of frustrated and finally merciless idealists"

The War in Afghanistan

This tends to get mentioned far more these days in official shenanigans because its motives are believed to be perceived by the British public as somehow "cleaner" than those in play in Iraq.

Alas, it doesn’t do much good. The majority of British people have little time for it. Indeed, much of their attitude is one of disinterest in what the military is getting up to "over there". It has become so bad that a special PR unit had to be set up to try and gain recognition for the fighting soldiers. I am afraid that Brits display little of the reverential gratitude that is expected in the States for those serving their country. "Thank you for your service" is seen as a comment of no greater importance heard from American politicians than the equally urbane but ritualistic "Have a nice day".

In its few months of existence, the military PR unit had its worse moment when it tried to arrange for a parade of returning vets during half-time at a soccer cup final. It got something of what we Brits call disparagingly "a rhubarb" from many, who demanded to know why they were being compelled to watch this when attending a totally non-related event.

The triumph, of course, was Prince Harry and his short secondment from his favourite night clubs to serve over there. It was a triumph because it was highly regarded by the public. I don’t think anyone really thought it was anything but a PR exercise, but we all thought it was a good one and we all like to believe a well-told fairy story.

More sombrely, On Film Four, UK TV, last night I saw the Russian film "Company 9". It was a docudrama based on a true incident surrounding a group of young Russian recruits being prepared for and then sent to Afghanistan - and, finally, their withdrawal from that country.

There is much to be learnt from the film that we see identically reflected in our own tragedy of these times. The same issues, the same ambiguities, the same patriotism, the same heroic commitment to an uncertain cause, the same tragic consequences in fatality, maiming and subsequent mental disorder.

We have learnt nothing from the Russian experience of fighting in that country. It was eerie to see the same Baghram air base, that we use, having been previously used to disembark the youthful Russian soldiers, to hear the same instructions being given about respecting the nature of that country, the same forewarnings about the nature of Islamic jihad.  More devastating still, was to see the same consequences.

I have no answer. Is the American way of dealing with these things better? Is it better to see the service of these young people as being special, different, undertaken for uniquely American values and for a uniquely precious nation? It is a respect shown to them for which I have a higher regard than the lack of recognition that we give our own over here. Yet maybe the Brits are making a statement about the nature of all conflicts on behalf of the patriotic ideals that we flaunt under the flags of our countries.

I ask only that we should show our love for all soldiers of all nations that we send so easily to war.

Correspondence Chess

And so back to I have not played chess since I was fourteen. I am having to learn openings, tactics and strategy as I go along. I am thrashing a young fella from the University of Oregon and slightly peeved he won’t resign. Alas, I am in difficulties with a more highly ranked player from Wisconsin.

I am thoroughly enjoying the chess by email over the Internet. "Five days for one move" is the sort of pace of life that I have long sought to achieve. It takes me back to the days of that great player and writer about chess, Lord Dunsany. One of the books in which he wrote of his experiences is called "While  the Sirens Slept" What a title for a book about chess! I liked his description of his single match against the great Capablanca in a smoke filled gentlemen’s club in London in the 1920’s. He gained a draw by his committing a blunder so awful that even Capablanca witnessing it never properly regained his composure in the match. I shall try it against Wisconsin in five days time.

Lord Dunsany also wrote a fine poem about chess:

One art they say is of no use;
The mellow evenings spent at chess
The thrill, the triumph, and the truce
To every care, are valueless.

And yet, if all hopes were set
On harming man played chess instead,
We should have cities standing yet
Which now are dust upon the dead

I hope that you are all having a peaceful and enjoyable Easter.

Originally posted to Welshman on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 03:03 PM PDT.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Written to say "Hi".. (39+ / 0-) the many on DKos that I have admired over these years.

    Absence doesn't make one forget the great diarists and commentators over the last four years.

    •  Cool. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Welshman, slksfca

      My Great-great-great-great grandparents were from Wales!  Landed at Philadelphia in 1826!  They never looked back!

    •  Well, (0+ / 0-)

      this is one kossack who always opens your posts. I lived in Okinawa for 3 years and because of that I love to get other views.

      As for Obama, many of us have fears about Obama. I never worry that he is simply a slicker politician, instead I worry that maybe he is the anti-Christ. I got "saved" in 72, an event that did accomplish it's purpose short term. Lord knows I needed a savior at the time. I got in on the ground floor of the Evangelical movement and got pumped full of info about the end times, a subject of endless interest to me. As this stuff is all stored away in my brain, our current need for a savior combined with Obama's likely worldwide appeal spooks me at times. I combat the fear with the fact that Jesus not only repeatedly warned folks that there are "wolves in sheep's clothing, who come to eat the sheep", he  also provided the key to spotting them; "By their fruits you will know them". Bush sold himself as a great guy who was a "uniter", but a good look into his history would have given a different impression in short order. Just the opposite happens the more you learn about Obama.

      Interestingly, as you can see, even though I no longer "believe", the only thing that calms these fears is the hair of the dog, so to speak.

      The point of all this? We all have fears because we learned long ago that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Obama in many ways, is too good to be true, therefore we are all easily spooked.

      The Preacher will doom him, they will kill him, the Clinton's will pull it off, he is the biggest fraud of all, he is the anti-Christ, or fill in the blank.

      We are all creatures of our past's - as Obama pointed out on Tuesday, and leaders like Obama are as rare as Unicorns. I just bought "Team of Rivals", and had hardly cracked the cover when I realized I wanted reassurance that guys like this really have existed.

      Hope is no easy accomplishment for many of us.  

  •  Hallo, Welshman! A happy and peaceable Easter to (6+ / 0-)

    you, too. I miss your diaries. Thanks for this one.

  •  Good to see you. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Happy Easter to you and yours.

    Before you win, you have to fight. Come fight along with us at TexasKaos.

    by boadicea on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 03:15:34 PM PDT

  •  Campaigns are not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    conducive to thought and earnest dialogue.  A Presidential campaign is centralized, brutal beast.  To be effective, it has
    to follow a ruthless Leninist model, no matter who the candidate is.

  •  been missing you! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caneel, Welshman, paige, Eiron, slksfca
    Lately my thoughts turn to who's not around these days -- so many usernames gone!  And I specifically wondered about you, welshman.  Please don't be a stranger.  Yes, the Great Orange Satan, as we're known elsewhere, is quite irksome of late -- except when it isn't.  I hope you'll join me in eschewing the chaff and keeping a sharp eye out for the wheat.  It's still here.  And while I'm a very irritation-prone person in real life, for some reason most of what I read in comments online rolls right off of me (unless the nasty reply is directly to me!).  So join me in skimming fast and moving on.  Cheers to other side of the pond.  Don't let your countrymen buy up all our real estate, ok?  ;-)
  •  Hi Welshman (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Welshman, slksfca

    Long time...

    I like your Hope segment. I find that as my years increase I've become less cynical and scoffing, in opposition to what I've always heard is the usual trend. I don't want a bean counter who waves laundry lists of policy positions, at this point in our country's predicament.

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 03:21:05 PM PDT

  •  Thoughts have been with you (0+ / 0-)

    A peaceful and Happy Easter to you also.

    We have missed you....


  •  Perfect Easter gift (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mnemosyne, Welshman, Purple Priestess

    for George and Dick -- a chess set.

    Missed your diaries, count me among your audience.

    Happy Easter, Happy Spring!

    One must dance every day with wildness ...

    in private
    or in public.
    Rapture must
    travel to tips
    of fingers
    and toes
    for full effect.
    Before or
    after meals.
    may ensue.

    -- Caneel

    Against silence, which is slavery. -- Czeslaw Milosz

    by Caneel on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 03:38:56 PM PDT

  •  Glad to see a post from you. (0+ / 0-)

    Your diaries are always well worth my time to read. Thanks!


    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. -Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 03:41:41 PM PDT

  •  Hi back (0+ / 0-)

    enjoyed your perspective and the diary..much food for thought.

    Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

    by ohcanada on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 03:53:30 PM PDT

  •  Was just thinking about you yesterday! (0+ / 0-)

    Back after dark to read, after my ordinary walk.

  •  Hi Welshman! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Common Sense Mainer, gdwtch52

    Happy Easter back!  Good to read you again--I could use some slow paced days--too much going on.  

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." ~ H.L.Mencken

    by PoliSigh on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 04:05:01 PM PDT

  •  Very Nice (0+ / 0-)

    to read you again Welshman.  It seems like a long time since you've visited.

    Happy Easter and peace to you and yours.

    "Nothing can stand in the way of the *power* of millions of voices calling for change" Obama

    by SherriG on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 04:24:07 PM PDT

  •  Happy Easter to you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and happy springtime, Welshman.

    Glad to hear from you. You are missed when you're not around these parts, and I've been wondering how you are.

    Can't offer any brilliant insights re chess, but I suspect the shift in attitudes on blogs may be part of the natural growth and leveling out cycle of all things.

    As for Hope, I noted elsewhere that what begins to interest me in Obama is that he seems to be talking about a politics of inclusion, not exclusion. The possibilities can grow from there. One hopes.

    The degree to which you resist injustice is the degree to which you are free. -- Utah Phillips

    by Mnemosyne on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 04:25:04 PM PDT

  •  I am often at a loss.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Welshman, Purple Priestess

    of HOW exactly to show appreciation for service that I do not want the troops to perform.  I send packages to several soldiers.  It is harder to write the letters to go with, as I am so anti-war and anti-imperialism that it is difficult not to let that leak into my letters.  Still, it is the only way I can see that I can help in the least, since our government has not asked us to sacrifice in any way for the great "cause".  Perhaps they suspected that many would tell them to bugger off...perhaps they are not that bright??

    What do you say, aside from "I'm so glad you are home safe!"  But chances are they will be going back for more of the same, if they are not maimed already.  I've thought of "welcome home, might I shoot you in the foot to prevent a re-deployment?"

    The Soviet movie sounds like it would be just the thing to show HS students.  A bit of history never hurts and could lead them to some wisdom or clarity about our position.

    If we want peace, why do we give weapons and call it "aid"?

    by gdwtch52 on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 04:30:02 PM PDT

  •  Coming in from an afternoon of working (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in my roses... this is nice.

    Though my words have been harsh to you in the past in my contriteness over rumors... I offer my apologies and send a sincere appreciation of your contemplations here.

    My chess playing was years ago... though I taught my sons and established/taught chess clubs and participated in the tournaments.

    I put the local university champ in chessmate after 5 hours of play, then was exhausted by the end of the second round and he beat me after 8 hours.  Haven't played much since.

    And... what will you do if Wisconsin is reading your diary today?

    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

    by bronte17 on Sun Mar 23, 2008 at 05:31:14 PM PDT

  •  Sad but true (0+ / 0-)

    Sad but true when it comes to taxation and blogging.

    So little resistence amonst Kos members when the burden of SCIP, a common good, was to be placed solely on the shoulders of working class smokers.  Progressives, indeed.

    As to blogging, frustration mounts as the left deals with the unreasoning resistence of the right and the pitiful response of the democratic political elite.  This frustration leads to dogmatism and intolerance on the left as well.  

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