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Non-Binary Approach to Politics on Blogs

There seems to be an unwritten rule in the blogosphere that you shouldn't discuss politics. Sometimes the rule is made more explicit by someone who acts like they are being idealistic. Actually though, they are probably more worried about scaring off eyeballs -- monetization of their Yoob Toob channel or their blog is really their main concern.

But in a way I agree with them. There is no point in offending people-who-disagree-with-you while boring people-who-agree. 

So we keep our mouths shut, and the System grinds along, unimpeded. This isn't 'idealism.' It is subservience and defeatism.

What we need is a third choice. Consider the current trend of the moment: non-binary attitudes toward sex. What if we were to take a non-binary approach to politics?

One such approach in a travel blog is to see juxtapositions along the road that surprise you -- they might even be bizarre. But if the juxtaposition is thought-provoking, it is good for something, especially if the blogger offers it without offering the reader too many conclusions. Let the reader reach their own conclusion. (That is the same advantage that allegories offer.)

This is the season to migrate to warmer weather. In the Southwest that might mean overnighting at a casino, going through Arizona desert rat towns, or buying supplies in stores full of Christmas shoppers. Here is a juxtaposition I encountered during one 24 hour period:

1. You can't buy a loaf of bread without being bombarded with elevator-rap versions of 'Frosty the Snowman'. My gawd am I ever reminded of how much I hate schlocky Christmas music! Does anyone actually like it? Why do they play it?

2. In the 'red' parts of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, you see bumper sticker slogans on cars that say, 'God Bless America.' 

3. Signs attached to street lightposts near Bullhead City, AZ, that show the face and name of a local veteran. I don't think they were wounded or killed veterans. They were just local boys and girls who were "serving" overseas, and therefore, worthy of hero-worship.

Very well then, I offer the reader a chance to explain this bizarre concoction of observations.


William said…
Well, KB, I see no one wants to take you up on your offer.

I always refrain from trying to correct your "wrong" political views when they creep in to your posts (more often than you realize, probably). At my age (69), I have learned it is almost impossible to change a person's political values, so I don't even bother. Which is why I don't read rants, unless real facts are employed to back up the statements. Thank you for trying not to rant about politics.

I have gotten the sense, over the years, that you don't love music. Musical tastes are subjective, so one person's love of rap/hip hop is another's dislike. You may spend more time in stores with music blaring than I, but I also have been in stores/restaurants where the loud, unpleasant (to me) music, makes me want to flee!

I just finished watching a Frontline program about Iran (Our Man in Tehran). Iran is officially a Theocracy, which I can only assume the God Bless America folks want to live in. I am so grateful to have been born in a country where citizens are constitutionally guaranteed to choose their own beliefs.

In Iran, they put up photos/paintings of dead soldiers everywhere. In one case, as shown in the documentary, the painting of a dead soldier filled almost the entire side of a 10 story building. They call them Martyrs and celebrate their deaths. One man interviewed, declared he was so happy his son died fighting in the Iraq/Iran war. For God and Country.

As an official Pacifist (Conscientious Objector status and 2 year Alternate Service, during the Vietnam War), I object to the militarization of our public spaces. The banners you mention, the memorial highways, the county/state declarations of support for Veterans.

I assume those government actions are to ensure the ready supply of men and women willing to die, when ordered to do so by our government leaders. I have long wanted to live in a country where the leader who decides to wage war, would be the first one to die.

I'll stop there. Nothing you or I could write, would change the minds of the people declaring our military is defending our country, instead of being the world's most invasive military force.

William, I did not know that Iran put up paintings of dead soldiers everywhere.

Agree with what you said about "to ensure the ready supply..." That seems particularly effective in inner cities and in Flyover America where there are few good jobs.

Once I was in one of "Little Texas" mountain towns of Colorado. I saw a large photograph of a son who died in one of the modern Perma-Wars in the Mideast. The photo and caption were taped to the back window of an expensive and ostentatious SUV.

So what exactly was the message? Did they want the general public's sympathy or understanding? Did it imply a pro-war or anti-war message? Or was having a son killed now just some sort of bourgeois status symbol in Texas?
Ed said…

You were in a very select group. There were 170,000 young men in the U.S. received conscientious objector deferments, and performed alternative service rather than going to the Vietnam War as soldiers.

If you don't mind telling, what did you do and where did you do it?

Peace Corps service was among the draft deferment options granted and very common. Peace Corps deferments are attested to by the fact that the number of volunteers serving during the Vietnam years was at its historical highest. It also had more men than women serving, in contrast to today’s female-to-male ratio of about 60% to 40%.

I did just the reverse. Served in Dominican Republic and Vietnam with the Army for 3 years. Then 30 years later served in Bulgaria with the Peace Corps. I honestly do not think I accomplished anything for my country although both experiences were good for me.


Anonymous said…


Will you say more about why you didn't feel the Peace Corps experience did anything for the country?

Ed said…

In summary the 'job' I was asked to do was impossible during the time I was there. I was tasked with providing capitalism economic/business advice to people that knew only the way it had been done all their life under communism. They economy was in tatters with raging inflation and an unstable government.

The short story may be found under OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS at You will need to scroll down just a little.

If you want the long story and can spend the time separating the wheat from chaff I suggest you read my Letter from Bulgaria starting with and then using the Next navigation button.

William said…
Ed, by the time I was drafted (1971), there were so many CO's looking for qualified Alternate Service positions, the Selective Service allowed any work that was with a not-for-profit organization.

I first joined the brand-new California Ecology Corps started by California under Governor Reagan, specifically to fill newly emptied minimum security prison camps with COs. California had decided that if a prisoner was safe enough to house in rural work camps, he could re-join the community he came from, under supervision, and save the state money. The camps did work for the state parks and public lands, and fought forest fires.

We replaced the prisoners and were paid the same ($15/month plus board and room). We were a demanding group compared to the prisoners, and within a year, the CEC was opened to any unemployed young man and the pay increased to minimum wage. In 1976, the name was changed to California Conservation Corps and still exists, employing young men and women. The camp I was stationed at, is now, once again, a prison camp (High Rock Conservation Camp).

I left after less than a year, and then worked as a janitor at the Oregon State Tuberculosis Hospital for the rest of my service.

George, I think Ed meant that his work overseas, in Vietnam and Bulgaria, didn't help our country in any way. Obvious for Vietnam, perhaps unappreciated in Bulgaria.