Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Watching the defectives (or, what the Republican Party’s candidates can tell us about politics today).

January 5, 2012

I’ve been watching the Republicans as they lurch their way towards selecting a nominee to run against Obama. Neither party has what could termed a clear process for selecting the person to hold down their top spot, but this year’s Republican race seems bent on setting a record for confusion.

The most glaring example was, of course, the Cain candidacy.  With it’s silly “9-9-9” tax plan and the huckster-like way the campaign was run, it made you wonder why anyone took Cain seriously. The fact that he was on top of the field for some time appalled me to no end, but in the end, he rather publicly ‘crashed-and-burned’.

Michelle Bachmann was another candidate that, when you paid even a little attention to her and what she stood for (or claimed to stand for), you had to wonder who would support her. Again, people did and she too was at or near the top of the field. Iowa seems to have put paid to her brand of silliness, and for that, America owes Iowa a debt of gratitude.

And now, as the saying goes, for the rest of the story.

What’s left ‘in the running’ is a field that has to have anyone with any reasoning ability scratching their heads. Perry is still in, even though he finished well down the standings. That he, a man who has a record in government that is far from  stellar, is even in the race should have people wondering. Gingrich has been complaining about attacks on his record, but his record IS crap, so why should he be allowed to ignore it? Santorum is a candidate who holds himself up as some sort of paragon of virtue, yet he too has a legislative record more spotted than spotless. Huntsman seem to be an honest, if uninspired, candidate who can’t get his own party to pay attention to him.

Then you get to the last two.

Romney has a record, and he seems to be very happy to run away from it just as Gingrich is trying to. His business record shows him to be a person willing to do whatever it takes to make a profit, with no concern what his actions do to the people in those companies he “turned around”. In politics, he has been a moderate……right up to the point where he started his presidential run. Now, he’s running as a conservative, painting himself with the same brush the rest of his party seems to favor. So far, many in his own party seem to be of the opinion that they need someone, anyone, to vote for instead of Romney. His change in political philosophy and, more important, his religion, have set large portions of the Republican base against him, making it hard to see him winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of his own party, let alone the broader electorate.

Last, but far from least, there’s Paul. He made a strong showing in Iowa, coming in close behind Santorum and Romney, which should worry anyone who cares about America. Paul is the standard bearer of the far Right of his own party, espousing things like a return to the gold standard and the abolishment of multiple “wasteful” government agencies. In his world, the government is the enemy, no matter how illogical it might be for someone to run to be the head of what they claim to hate. His foreign policy might best be described as ‘pull up the draw bridges and man the walls’. He draws large crowds, crowds that are eager to express their opinions….and who seem to almost worship their candidate. Many have compared the Paul campaign to a cult, and from everything this writer has seen, the comparison seems too close to the mark.

So, what does it all mean? If I had to make one observation, it would be that the Republicans have a serious, central problem: they bill themselves as “American’s party”, yet their core constituency is far more conservative than the bulk of Americans. This leads them to make a mad dash to the Right in the primaries……followed by an equally mad dash back towards the center in an effort to win the national election. Some have carried it off with panache. Others have ignored the need to appeal to the center and failed. Many have tried to make the run, only to run into their own positions on the way back, and fail. Until the center can be embraced, by either party, the candidates will be doing this same stupid dance, and the losers will be the American people. Because no politician who is willing to shift where they stand for the sake of votes can truly be trusted, and no politician who puts their ideology ahead of the good of the nation should be allowed to hold office.

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Hostages

August 31, 2011

This year has been a tough one for the US. We’ve seen tornadoes plow through population centers with devastating results. Snow falls that set records both for their totals and for the cost of cleaning up after them gave rise to floods that cause a great deal of damage. Large swathes of the Southwest, already hit hard by drought, saw huge and uncontrolled fires scorch tens of thousands of acres. Now, large areas of the East Coast have been hammered by Hurricane Irene. These disasters effect not just the areas that were immediately hit, but also the nation at large. So the federal government, largely in the form of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has stepped in to help those who have, in many cases, lost everything. The task of helping out has been huge, as has the cost, and therein lies the problem. With so many major event to respond to, FEMA has seen it’s emergency funds drain away quickly, and those funds are not infinite. The most recent figures give FEMA somewhere around $800 million left in its budget. That’s not pocket change, but when you look at the damage Irene has left in it’s wake, it’s an almost pitiful amount, because even current rough estimates run into the $3-4 billion range. Given the fact that many of these estimates are based only on what has been directly observed, and the fact that in many spots, officials haven’t even been able to get in and find out just how bad things really are, it is unlikely that those figures are going to go down.

There has been an effort to get FEMA supplemental funds, and that story is what I write about. The funding itself is nearly insignificant given the damage we already know of, roughly $1 billion. If the small size of the increase in funding weren’t enough (and given that this year still has four months yet to go, part of which is the peak for the hurricane season) that small amount finds itself tied up in Washington’s current fixation of “balanced” budgets. You see, the current increase comes from the House, where the “Tea Party” has written language into the bill demanding that, in order to fund this increase in emergency funding, offsetting cuts must be made in other federal programs first. Which programs, they are unwilling to commit themselves to for fear (I think) of facing a backlash from the victims of these natural disasters.

That their feet should be held firmly to the fire for even suggesting such an insane act goes without saying. Conservatives love to liken the federal budget to a family budget, but I doubt they’ll use that particular simile in this case. After all, how many families would worry about where to find the money to pay for a sick child before deciding to seek treatment? There are some things you pay for, then figure out how to find the money, that’s why we call them “emergencies”.

Holding help to people who have suffered through a natural disaster hostage to ideological ideals is just plain wrong, and the “Tea Party”, plus it’s allies in Congress, should be ashamed of themselves for doing so. This is a nation that looks out for it’s own, or it should be. By demanding cuts before any funds go out to help people who are often without even the basics of life, these people show themselves to be not only heartless, but blind to anything but their own agenda. Hopefully people will remember these shameful actions come 2012.

(addendum: as of tonight, estimates are that Hurricane Irene has caused over $12 billion in damages, lifting it into the ranks of the most destructive storms in history. Thanks for watching our backs on the economic front, Eric Cantor, nice to know money and ideology come before people.)

Living in the Land of Unreason

August 26, 2011

Last year, a small college in Indiana made a decision to change it’s traditions. You see, through it’s history, Goshen College, a small college founded by the Mennonites, had never played the national anthem at it’s sporting events. So when they decided to start playing an instrumental version of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, it was something of a shift for them, a shift that, it turned out, did not go down well. After a year’s worth of playing, the school had heard from many sources. The student body spoke up and gave it’s opinion. The alumni of the school also voiced their opinion. The input wasn’t unanimous, but the voices saying that the school should not have changed it’s traditions were much louder than those who thought the playing of the national anthem was something the school should be doing. The objections to “The Star-Spangled Banner” was simple and specific: it describes a battle, and the Mennonite faith is one based on pacifism. By playing a song that glorified a battle, it was felt the school was going against it’s deepest religious traditions. The school did feel that a song that spoke of pride in our nation was not out of place before sports events, so the decision was made to replace “The Star-Spangled Banner” with “America the Beautiful”.

All of this would amount to pretty much next-to-nothing in a world where reason prevailed. Unfortunately, we live in modern America, and as soon as the decision was announced, the conservative wing of American politics cranked up it’s venom machinery. I first read of this whole story in a story (which I didn’t bookmark and can no long find) on Yahoo. Like most online outlets, the story had an attached comments section, and the pure hatred and malice that was expressed by people on the Right was a shock even to myself, who’d seen it many times. All the traditional insults, “traitors” “anti-American”, “PC ‘liberals’”, you name it, it was there, along with much far worse. In their minds, this was an assault on “American values” and another sign of “what’s wrong with this country”.

But how is that so?

A group listened to it’s members, and the majority’s opinion was heard. That opinion was that the group’s religious beliefs should not be shunted aside to please others. So democracy, the will of the majority, standing up for one’s principles and beliefs, all these things are now “un-American”?

When a group can condemn another group for upholding the ideals it professes to hold dear, what does that say of us? Have we, as a nation, become so polarized, so set in our ideas of “Right” and “Wrong” that we can’t see when opinion leads people to stray into the absurd? If it has, then democracy, that most basic of our tenets, is dead, and it will have been killed by those who claim to hold it most dear.

Does anyone else see the irony in all this?

Posturing for the “Home Crowd”, or Republicans Fiddles while America Burns

July 15, 2011

There are times when it seems the only thing some politicians can do in the face of a crisis is find something else to think about. This was brought home very strongly to me recently by the actions of the House of Representatives.

The House is the source of much of the sound (and more than a little fury) over our budget deficit. Republicans there have all but demanded that Something Be Done, and soon! Their “something” has revolved exclusively around cutting spending on “wasteful” programs (read any program they don’t like), and, to an extent, the White House has agreed with them. Multiple meetings have been held, without any positive developments, but this isn’t what drew my attention. No, what caught my eye was how, while they cry out about how the ‘national edifice’ is in danger, they’ve been occupying their time with…….amending HR-6, the Energy Independence and Security Act.

HR-6 was originally passed in 2007. When it was originally voted out of the House and passed onto the Senate for their consideration, it garnered 264 votes in favor and 163 votes against, with 8 members not voting. 36 Republicans voted with 228 Democrats to pass the bill, and when the Senate had made it’s changes and sent the bill back to the House for final approval, 95 Republicans were part of the 314 members who voted for passage. Then-President George W. Bush signed the bill into law, and it was heralded as a major step on the road to making America more energy independent.

Like every bill these days, HR-6 had many provisions in it. One of these was a requirement that all light bulbs be at least 30% efficient, that is, that they waste no more than 70% of the power the consume in the form of heat. Given the amount of power that’s used in America to simply light things up, that makes a ton of sense. It also means the death of the “traditional” incandescent light bulb.

When he invented it, Thomas Edison was breaking new ground with his light bulb. Before then, if you wanted light, you either worked outside in sunlight, or you burned something, be it oil, kerosene, tallow, beeswax, or whatever; and used the light given off by that burning to light your work. Edison came up with the simple but brilliant idea that, if he could put a metal filament into a clear glass bulb, then suck the air out of it and apply an electrical current to it, the filament would reach a white-hot state. In that “incandescent” state, it would give off a bright white light that could be used for illumination. The problem was, what it was really doing was generating a lot of heat in order to produce a little light, with the most efficient incandescent bulbs never getting above 10% efficiency. So, if you want to cut the amount of electricity used to light things up, one of the simplest ways to do it would be to replace incandescent lights with newer, more efficient lighting technology. Simple, right?

Well, it’s simple if you’re not engaged in a bit of political posturing.

You see, in their ‘anti-Washington’ fervour, the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party decided that trying to cut the amount of energy wasted on lighting things up amounted to “government interference” in Our Daily Lives. So they decided, with the government on the brink of defaulting, that the best use of the House’s time would be to debate a repeal of the provision of HR-6 setting a minimum efficiency standard for light bulbs. The provision failed to pass, but there is already talk of trying to amend a bill currently making it’s way through the House to include much the same language.

No one engaged in this asinine effort is claiming that there is no need to cut our energy consumption. Nor, for that matter, is there anyone claiming that America shouldn’t be doing everything it can to make itself more energy independent. And no one is claiming that incandescent light bulbs are somehow vital to American ‘national interests’. No, we get the same tired ‘keep government out of our private decisions’ talk we hear from the same folks who want to ban abortions, outlaw same-sex marriages, and tell us all to believe America is a “Christian nation”.

So, here’s what I wish I could say (preferably in a loud voice, from about half-an-inch from their noses) is this:

There are more important things to worry about! So get your head out of your butts and get to them!”

A disturbing development.

June 7, 2011

Politicians are people, just like you and I. Given that, it is not a shocking idea that they might occasionally screw up. How they respond when they screw up says a lot about them. What’s more important, though, is how the folks who support them react. Take Sarah Palin as for instance.

As you know by now, while on her non-campaign bus tour, she in Boston, where someone asked her about Paul Revere. Almost everyone knows the poem, and many of us know the actual facts of what happened that night on the eve of Concord. Ms. Palin, though, either because she does not know, or because she suffered an all-too-human ‘brain cramp’, managed to make a total muck of telling what happened. All well and good, she proved she’s human and made a mistake. However, she made that mistake in front of a TV camera, and it was all captured for broadcast. Again, no big deal, politicians have shot their mouthes off in all manner of different and “creative” ways in front of cameras since, well, there have been cameras capable of capturing those foul-ups. What happened next, though, is the story that has to be remembered.

Ms. Palin, as you no doubt know, is also a television personality, specifically, a commentator on Fox. That means she has access to the media that a lot of former politicians would not have. That would be a great avenue for her to admit her mistake and explain how it came about. Instead, she has used her media platform to deny that she screwed up, and to insist that all the history books are wrong, that her version of “history” is, in fact, the real one. That she is so unwilling to admit error is a dangerous hint at what sort of mindset she possesses, and should give pause to anyone who’s watched these events unfold.

An even more disturbing outcome of this, though, has been the reaction of the people who support Ms. Palin and her political ambitions. There are confirmed reports that Wikipedia, the online information site, has seen numerous attempts to change it’s entry covering Paul Revere. Those attempts to rewrite history have, almost universally, been attempts to portray Sarah Palin’s telling of the story as the “true” one. What does it say about a group that it will willingly attempt to change the past so that what we think of as “truth” is merely a reflection of a politician’s mistaken pronouncement?

Hubris, that most dangerous of all afflictions that politicians can fall victim to, has brought many political careers to an end. By her actions, Sarah Palin is demonstrating that she is already deeply in the grip of hubris. That those who follow her are willing to do anything to make her look good speaks less of a political movement, and more of a cult. Which one is more of a danger to America and our body politic, I am not sure. That they are a danger to those institutions, I have no doubt whatsoever, because when any politician is placed above the truth, then we are all in danger.

Dishonoring Memorial Day.

May 30, 2011

Some folks can’t seem to deal with reality. I’m not talking about the folks you see in a big city, the unfortunate ones who wander the streets in something of a perpetual haze. No, I’m talking about the ones who seem to be willing to forget the world around them, and everything that happens, or has happened, in it.

One of the biggest culprits of this sort of self-delusion are the people who love to pontificate about how today, America is “paying” for all the various and sundry “sins” of what they often refer to as the “Me” generation. In their minds, America is wallowing in lassitude, governed more by some sort of desire for more and more for less and less work. It’s morals have supposedly deteriorated from some earlier, higher state; and unless we can “return” to those ‘higher’ values, we’re doomed.

What a load of crap.

I wonder how many of these fine folks have been to see a young man or woman come home from Iraq or Afghanistan in a metal box. None of them had to go and die, there being no draft to compel them. No, they, often held as symbols of the “failings” of our current society by these same ‘concerned’ folks, volunteered to defend their nation. In the end, they laid down their lives for that nation and put the lie to the idea of a generation of selfish do-nothings.

They aren’t alone. One of the things that stands, perhaps more than anything else, from this Spring and it’s savage outbreaks of tornadoes, is the willingness of people to help. In both Alabama and, more recently, Joplin, within as little as a day of the true scope of the damage was known, people have arrived, willing to help in any way possible. None of them is looking for a job or any sort of reward, they just saw some others who had suffered terribly and came to do what they could to help. They spend their own money, use their own vacation time, to do nothing more than help others. They too put the doom-sayers, the folks who deride the current society as somehow less than it was in some mythical past.

America’s not perfect, that is something I would never claim. The problem is, it never has been, and when people try to pick a past era as somehow representing a “more perfect” state of our nation and society, shows nothing so much as their own ignorance and willingness to engage in wishful thinking. The thing that is truly great about America isn’t our perfection, nor how we are ‘greater’ than any other nation. It’s how we can can rise above the imperfections present in us all and be something better, even, occasionally, something great.

A final sort of “pet peeve” in the vein of rewriting reality occurred today, and it truly pissed me off. I was flipping around, looking for something to watch on the TV, and I came up on the start of a baseball game. The Chicago Cubs were getting ready to start a game, and it being Memorial Day, they were in full ‘patriotic fervor’ mode. It wasn’t really over-the-top, or even very offensive…..until the announcer told everyone to stand for the national anthem. I do not know who the woman was who they has asked to do the honors, but someone should set down with her and have a good, long talk. You see, rather than answer that announcement by stepping up to the mike and opening with the stirring lines of “The Star Spangled Banner”, she decided to open with “God Bless America”, THEN she decided to actually sign our national anthem. I know, many conservatives these days want to do away with “The Star Spangled Banner” and replace it with a song that reflects (in their words and pathetic little minds) “our nation’s Christian roots”. Until they accomplish this idiotic task, I would hope they would have the decency to remember what song we all do rise to.

What’s unsaid.

May 29, 2011

I interact with a lot of folks online, and while some of them agree with me, some of them don’t, and some of them do both. It’s the usual interactions of humans everywhere, say something, express an opinion, have someone come back with a challenge, defend, counter…….the story of how humans have always interacted, write on the electronic media that is the Internet.

Recently, I got into a “discussion” that revolved around a story, posted on a ‘pro-life’ Web site, that Pepsi was working to develop a new sweetener for it’s line of products. It’s teamed up with a company that, according to the groups site, will use cells from aborted fetuses to produce said new sweetener. The individual who brought this to my attention, who is very “pro-life”, thought that this was the sign of absolute evil, that this was the worst thing that could happen, a major company ‘profiting’ off ‘dead babies’.

The problem is, the story on that site doesn’t tell the whole story.

You see, the company will be using a specific cell line, HEK293. It’s a line of kidney cells, and it is derived from cells harvested from aborted fetuses, but the line was developed in the 1970’s, in Holland no less. Here’s a little something on the subject:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HEK_cell

You see, the ‘pro-life’ Web site doesn’t mention this fact. It also doesn’t mention that these cells are, in all likelihood, going to be used to test how the new sweetener effects human kidneys, and not as part of the actual manufacturing process. Both of these facts underline an important truth about getting your information off the Internet: pay attention to who’s writing.

You see, the problem is, the ‘pro-life’ site didn’t lie in it’s story, but by not mentioning some things, and the way they worded their story, they produce a story that skates very close indeed to lying, without actually going over the line. It’s hardly a new thing. Organizations have been writing stories to make themselves look good, their opposition look bad, and generally fire up their base since, well, since people have been writing on such subjects.

That’s something important to remember, the next time you go surfing the Internet looking for the latest-and-greatest news story. Just because a site tells you something, and you want to believe what you’re reading, it might not be such a good idea to actually believe what that site says. Always be sure you look behind the curtain to make sure it really is a wizard who’s telling you the truth of the Universe, and not a fraud peddling their own version of “The Truth”.

Here ends the lesson.

Simple murder.

May 27, 2011

I read a lot, some of it in books, some of it in newspapers, some of it from on line sources. I recently ran across a story that stopped me in my tracks. It wasn’t the story itself, but the response people had to it, that really stopped me cold.

This is the story:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_pharmacy_shooting

The facts are simple: a pharmacist is working in a drug store in a “bad” section of town. Two teenagers walk in, one of them armed, and attempt to rob the drug store. The pharmacist has a gun behind the counter, which he pulls and shoots one of the would be robbers. The other robber flees while the pharmacist follows him to the door, then he returns to the counter. Now comes the part that changes the story. The remaining robber is now on the floor, unconscious with a bullet in his head. The pharmacist goes behind the counter, retrieves a second gun he has there, then come back around the counter. He then proceeds to fire five shots into the unconscious robber’s abdomen, killing him in the process.

When the story first broke, people hailed the pharmacist as a hero, he was seen as defending himself and his coworkers. When video surveillance from the store was examined by the police, they notified prosecutors, who charged the pharmacist with murder. The case was tried before a jury, who heard both the prosecutor’s argument that the shooting was murder, and the defense’s claim that it was simply a matter of self defense. The jury took around three and a half hours to decide that it was, in fact, murder; and to further recommend that the pharmacist be sentenced to life in prison.

It’s all pretty straight forward, the evidence was in no doubt what happened, and the jury would have been hard pressed to come to any other verdict. What amazed me was what I read when I scrolled down past the end of the story.

One after another, people had weighed in, denouncing the jury and hailing the pharmacist as a hero. The level of hatred, of anger, that most of those people expressed should be enough to make anyone shudder, if not openly blanch. It’s like once the kid walked in the door, he was fair game, no matter whether he was actively attacking anyone or not. It makes one wonder, what would these people have considered a response on the robber’s part that would have justified not shooting him. Would it have been enough if he’d been gasping out pleas for mercy? If he’d managed to get on his knees and beg for his life? When does a person cross the line from defending themselves to, as the prosecutor put it, becoming “judge, jury and executioner”?

For myself, I think the jury did the right thing. Shooting someone who’s actively trying to harm you is an act that isn’t hard to justify. Shooting someone who’s lying defenseless in front of you, that’s murder, plain and simple

The importance of paying attention.

May 18, 2011

The words “sex scandals” and “politics” are so closely linked to each other that they sometimes seem to be almost unavoidably so. But two recent high-profile instances make you wonder why anyone is amazed why that they happened, or should that be why they were allowed to happen at all?

The first case to hit the headlines was that of IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn. He is accused of sexually assaulting a maid in the New York hotel suite he occupied. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or DSK as he is often referred to, is no stranger to accusations that of sexual assault. A reporter for a French publication had stated that she had been assaulted by DSK. The incident occurred when she went to what she thought was to be an interview for a story. After the attack, the reporter refused to file formal charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is well connected politically. Since he was arrested in this country, other women have begun to come forward to relate similar tales of their treatment at the hands of DSK.

The second case involves now-retired governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. In this case, there is no doubt what Schwarzenegger did, because he has admitted to fathering a child on a former housekeeper. It isn’t as though Schwarzenegger had never been accused of going beyond what might be thought of as the normal boundaries of how he interacted with women either. During his years as a Hollywood ‘star’, several of his female costars had spoken out about Schwarzenegger’s behavior towards them and the unwanted sexual advances they had received.

These men share few political similarities, Schwarzenegger being until now a darling of the Republican Party, and Strauss-Kahn being affiliated with the Socialist wing of French politics. What they do share, though, are characteristics that they demonstrated many times, characteristics that were more often than not ignored by those around them. Both men were willing to use positions of power to allow them to take advantage of women who they had power over. Both men had been accused of abusing their positions to take sexual advantage of women. Most importantly, both men were allowed to get away with their bad acts without facing any sanctions.

Not every accusation of sexual misconduct is true. But having said that, when a person in power faces accusations that they are using their power to take advantage of others, those accusations should be, must be, investigated fully and openly. Schwarzenegger, at least, seems to have taken care of the child that resulted from his infidelity. Whether the past accusations of possible misdeeds will now be re-investigated more thoroughly remains to be seen. In the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a woman has had her life damaged, possibly destroyed, because no one would listen, or was willing to act, to stop a man who seems to have been slowly but surely spiraling out of control.

This IS unacceptable.

The police, the media, even ordinary people, MUST take seriously the need to keep this sort of thing from happening, and the only way to do that is to make sure when an accusation is made, it’s taken seriously. The innocent will be cleared if the accusation is false, and if it is not, someone will be stopped before they can do something to ruin another person’s life. No other course will work, no other way of dealing with this sort of situation will succeed.

The IRA’s shame.

May 17, 2011

Being part Irish, I try to keep up on what’s going on in Ireland. Right now, Queen Elizabeth of England is on a state visit to Ireland. She’s laid a wreath at the monument to the Irish who died fighting against English rule and planted a tree in a garden in Dublin dedicated to peace in that island nation. From early reports, it seems that more than a few Irish are quite happy to have her visit. That is not, however, a universal sentiment.

In the run-up to her visit, several IED’s were found scatted around Ireland, all of them linked to a group trying to ‘bring back the armed struggle for freedom’. Many of the members of this group are former IRA members who are dissatisfied with the current peace process. As to why they’re dissatisfied, I do not claim to know, but I would be willing to hazard a few guesses.

When English rule or ‘the North’ was at it’s worst, the IRA were heroes to most Nationalist for their actions against a government that was aimed very much at keeping them ‘in their places’. They were seen as ‘striking a blow’ for all the people who could do little to nothing to change things on the ground. Later, as the IRA began to move more towards bombings and other acts of more indiscriminate terror, those same people began to have doubts. Since the Good Friday Accord came into being, many people, on all sides of the Northern Ireland political scene, have begun to see that the time for violence has passed, that it’s time to find a way forward together. The main terror groups, both the groups sharing the IRA’s views and those who had fought against them, turned in and/or destroyed their arms and began to try to move back into society. By all accounts, while it hasn’t been an easy transition, it has been happening. The local government has come to reflect the make up of the community it represents, and the various parties have managed to work together to keep it that way.

And therein lies the rub.

When “The Troubles” were on, the people who were fighting were heroes, but now, no one cares. They’re having to accommodate The Others, the people they once fought against. Worst of all, the world they knew is changing. The comfortable old hates are no longer accepted. The “us versus them” split that once defined their world is disappearing. In other words, they’re in danger of becoming footnotes in history.

So, they lash out and try to bring the world they once knew back. No ‘peace’ with “The Enemy”. No fading away into obscurity. No more being ignored.

People like this are the worst cowards. That’s because what they fear is the future, a future that they don’t understand and will do everything they can to stop from happening. The saddest thing of it all is, the harder they struggle, the more violent they become, the more they’re likely to end up being despised by the very people who’s adoration they hope to regain. It’s what happens to people who try to ignore the future, they just become sad relics of a past no one want to remember.