Are the majority of Fairmont, MN residents dumber than sh-t?

Was it the columnist H.L. Mencken who said that a person would never know poverty by betting against the intellect of the average American? Well, regardless of who said it, one need look no further than the small city of Fairmont, Minnesota for an example of the collective idiocy sadly displayed here in America. It runs rampant particularly in those places known nostalgically as the “Heartland”.

I don’t want to upset the citizens of Fairmont. I suspect that they wont be bothered for two reasons: 1.) hardly anyone reads my blog 2.) I suspect based on listening to this story about the city’s reaction to the establishment of a U.S. Department of Peace, many in in Fairmont don’t bother reading at all.

National Public Radio did a fabulous job covering the fallout of the city council’s unanimous approval of a resolution supporting the creation of a Department of Peace. Nearly two dozen cities across the nation have done so, including Detroit, Newark and Chicago, so the small community in southern Minnesota was hardly breaking ground when, spurred on members of the Fairmont Peace Club, the city council passed a resolution supporting HR 808.

Two weeks after the resolution passed, the hue and cry of residents forced three out of five councilors to conciliate and rescind their votes on the non-binding and symbolic resolution supporting a bill that will likely never reach the floor of the House.

But why the furor over something that seems to be quite logical. After all, as Peace club member Judi Poulson pointed out to NPR, in a world of conflict, “peace is strategy, just like war…it takes a lot of hard work and skillful people that have been trained.”

 Turns out Fairmont residents such as Gene Hackett see it another way.

“I grew up under a time when my generation was involved with peace,” Hackett said to NPR. “The things that they stood for with that peace symbol were wrong. It was bad.”

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My issues with the anti-war movement

More than four years after the invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation of a formerly sovereign–albeit corrupt and dictatorial nation–the United States has lost more than 3,100 soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors in the conflict. Compared to the numbers of my father and grandfather’s conflicts, Vietnam and World War II respectively, the totals of American dead are much less. In comparison to the the combined combatant deaths of the American Civil War (1861-65), the amount of armed forces personnel is miniscule, less than 1 percent, in fact.

Taken into consideration that the total loss of American life in Iraq, which includes armed forces personnel, private contractors, public officials and journalists,  is relatively low, Americans who support the war tend to write off the sacrafice that is paid in life.

On their syndicated radio programs, both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have used the comparatively low armed forces deaths as a rebuke towards the anti-war movement.

Limbaugh cites scurilous statistics to conclude that an Army soldier is safer in Baghdad than he or she is in the streets of crime-plauged American cities such as Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Not only does this reasoning cheat Americans of a fair analysis of the War in Iraq, it is also wholly irrelevant. Our is a nation based upon the Enlightenment principles of reason and intellect, not simply emotion. Our joy and tears should take a back seat to the objective measurement of cost and benefit.

Wars are not fought with the consideration of the soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines fighting them, but of the compelling national interest that would motivate Congress to pay to send people into harm’s way–the Constitution in particular.

As long as a war in Iraq is fought the troops will and must be a consideration. The problem is however, that both sides treat armed forces personnel like children and until they stop doing that an objective analysis of the war and its costs will scarcely be considered.

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Inside the Company

A good friend of mine is clearing out his house before it is sold. Last weekend I grabbed a book that his father, long deceased, had collected in the 1970’s. It is Inside the Company by Phillip Agee. I’ve heard his name before, but I’m not sure where.

  I think this book might be an entertaining read. I’ll suspend the urge to read criticism of it, be it on the Web or excerpted from old newspapers or journals because knowing what I do about the book right now, it seems like reading it’s reception could really hanker with my enjoyment of it.

  So far, I’m 30 pages in. It’s a breeze of a read so far. Maybe there are 400 pages altogether in the hardbound first-print that I have in my possession.

  Agee’s title is misleading. If a diary is something of a chronological recollection of events from a person’s day-to-day life, than Dick’s book is anything but a diary. I keep a journal most days and I don’t touch it. Once it is written in that’s it. Someday should my nieces of nephews or grandkids or strangers read it, they’ll find out some embarassing things about me I suppose.

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Doomtown, huh…If you go there could you bring me back a latte?

I love reading Jack Chick’s comics. They have always been a source of inspiration and humor for me. Being a Roman Catholic, I certainly don’t agree with Chick’s fundamentalist version of Christianity (in Chick’s view I’ll be in hell unless I convert), but I do enjoy reading and collecting his comics, which are distributed by various churches and sidewalk evangelists.

An Albanian translation of Chick's seminal This Was Your Life

When I lived in Boston and went to Emerson College, there was a mentally disturbed guy (he was mentally disturbed, not simply on fire with the love of Christ) who used to stand outside of the main building on 80 Boylston with an End is Nigh sandwich board, proclaiming God’s Kingdom. He carried the tracts, which depending on how you order, range from about .10-.30 cents a pop.

That was my first introduction to the Chick tract, I think.

In the hot and sweaty summer of 2001, after moving to Brooklyn, my roommate and I would collect them, usually from subway trains, although there was a magazine store that sold them for irony value somewhere on the Lower East Side.

It was at See Here, the store, that I was introduced to some of the finest works in Jack Chick’s cannon: Death Cookie, Dark Dungeons, Reverend Wonderful, and Where’s Rabbi Waxman to name a few. No longer did I have to wait to be prostelityzed to, but could purchase them and so I did.

I’ll share with you some of my favorite Chick Tracts and I’d like to start with Doomtown.

Doomtown is of course a statement on homosexuality and if a fundamentalist cartoonist was going to get his point across, there’s no better way than this one, with it’s over-the-top (I suppose depending on where you live) depictions of homosexual men. They’re not so much fabulous as they are predatory. They’re the kinda guys either Chick feared running into in rest stop bathrooms or intentionally ran into in reststop bathrooms.

Let me share some frames:

I really love this one. You don’t get the best view of them, but if you look closely you can see Chick’s attention to detail.

Check out the guy who is six from the left. He looks as if he’s wearing a sleaveless dress and long earings with Coke bottle glasses. I like him even better than the one who is second from the right, with the policeman hat (more on that later).

Here’s another two frames I like. I mostly like it for the hairy bear with the leather and spikes and the policeman hat, but the guy with Bible is cool too. He looks a little like Charles Bronson.

This one on the right is amazing and speaks for itself. I love the permed queen with the Rollie Fingers stache and the hook earings making out with someone who is either sweating or has horrid moles on his face.

And last but not least is this one.

You know, because homosexuals molest kids all the time.

Now, all of the joking aside (I’m not sure anything I’ve written is actually funny), I think these comics are funny but speak to a horrible paranoia on the part of the artist or artists. I’m not sure Jack Chick actually drew this one but if he did you can see it is inspired by a deep fear, basically a phobia of gay life. I love the backhair on that one guy!

If you’ve never read a Chick Tract, I suggest you do now. I think they’re a lot of fun!

Well, if that's not just the happiest Bishop you've ever seen

I came across this picture today on the Internet. He’s not a real Roman Catholic bishop, but one in a splinter group called the Ecumenical Catholic Church. He rocks. 

 I’m a Catholic and will likely never leave the Church over social issues. The faith of the Church is enough for me.

I think that Catholicism is a great force in the world. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s also by no means a homogenous religion. There are so many different ways to apply the faith to the world and room for different ways to express Catholic life.

Catholicism is greatly misunderstood by  a lot of people, be them Christian fundamentalists or ultra liberal (and ultra obnoxious) people who lay blame on the Church for the poverty of the developing world.

I think I’ll stay with her though. I like being Catholic.

Just send 1,800 more Marines and they'll win this thing.

A neat column from the Web site antiwar.com encapsulates a lot of my feelings on Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Republican from Texas reaffirms his longstanding opposition to this affair and offers a good critique of the spending bill passed last week by the House, which added more than $120 billion in spending to the mess. Continue reading

Edwards may poll well in Iowa, but Hillary Clinton may have just scored her slam dunk

I’ll start by saying that despite my being a New York resident, and a Democrat, I have never and will never vote for our junior senator, Hilary Clinton.

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