For a significant portion of our nation’s history the United States’ populace was largely non-interventionist and isolationist, usually needing to be convinced through yellow journalism and intense propaganda to support a war. Our people were loath to enter World War One and, after its conclusion, we reverted back to an isolationist foreign policy. Because of major opposition within the country, the U.S. never signed the Treaty of Versailles or joined The League of Nations.

Our reluctance to intervene in other countries continued throughout the 23 years between the world wars. Then it took time, trickery (the Lend-Lease Program) and Pearl Harbor to convince Americans to support the Allies. Actually, there are some historians and documents that suggest our government had foreknowledge of the Japanese attack, but kept that secret so Roosevelt could use the attack to elicit public support for the war.

Well, those days are over and it’s time to ask why non-intervention and isolationism have been off the table since the end of World War Two. Instead we have stationed troops throughout the entire world on what has become essentially a permanent basis. Whether there is reason or not.

Worse, it seems our government hasn’t met a war it didn’t embrace. Can somebody please explain what Granada’s threat was to our national security? And while it’s true that Vietnam caused large scale protest, as did the two wars in Iraq, our government has kept the pedal to the metal, continuing to engage our forces anywhere and everywhere possible.

Even when war hurts our national security by destabilizing an entire region and radicalizing foreign hatred of our country, we march on. And we’re getting ready to do it again, using ISIS as our reason. Doesn’t it always start with “advisers” but no “boots on the ground?” Dime bags to hundred dollar bills, there will be boots on the ground.

And when there’s no war in which to engage, no matter, we simply stay on. Currently, the United States has military personnel deployed in about 150 countries which covers 75% of the world’s nations. (For a series of charts that attempts to pinpoint where our troops are specifically placed you can glance here. And while these charts are taken from Wikipedia, attached are some pretty solid references.)

And I don’t believe, though I’m not certain, the above covers our Special Operations Forces who are stationed in over 105 countries.

But other numbers are equally staggering.

ChartThe result: Defense spending accounts for about 20 percent of all U.S. federal spending.

Call me crazy but I see all this as completely insane. Especially if we actually want to protect ourselves. Conservatives are concerned with our national debt and see that as a major threat to our way of life. Despite all of NSA’s intrusions into our civil liberties, airport “security” is an ongoing joke, and virtually all of our internal terrorism is locally grown Nazi-like White Supremacists with but a few exceptions. Or look at our decaying infrastructure. Hell, cities don’t have enough money to shovel snow. Think some of that military money might help with any of these problems?

It might even be nice to have bullet trains, a middle class, and regain our desire to eradicate poverty and racism. Instead we station about 38,491 soldiers in Germany alone.

Now, I understand that embassies and consulates need protection. The world is a dangerous place and certain strategically placed military bases are necessary. But do we really need, or ought to have, 117,951 military facilities in foreign countries?

I don’t think so. I think we need to bring all our troops back home save for those deployed with the specific purpose of guarding embassies and consulates. Even there I would look carefully at each and every one of them in order to reduce the present number.

It’s not like we’ve really helped anyone with our warmongering since World War Two. (Ok, I *might* consider Korea. Though again, we’re talking about having engaged in a war on the other side of the world without any real threat to our national security.) We certainly didn’t rescue Southeast Asia. And the havoc we’ve wreaked in the Mideast is almost beyond comprehension. Why not let people in their own parts of the world decide for themselves how they want to live and who owns what. Only they’re not Americans so what do they know? But I can say, without fear of contradiction, that our military spending and wars have padded the pockets of the military/industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about. And it doesn’t do too bad for the arms trade and multi-national corporations either. War means money and other peoples’ resources.

What about the rest of us? Start with the troops who we’ve put in danger war after war. Agent Orange, missing limbs, PTSD, and at least twenty-two veteran suicides a day. And frankly, I believe the number is higher depending upon the sources you believe.

Can anyone think of any benefit they’ve received from either the wars or the massive number of troops and bases abroad? I know the argument that if we don’t fight terrorism “over there” we’ll be in danger here. If it’s true, why won’t the government prove it? Show us the facts that substantiate the claim. We can handle the truth. To top it off, it doesn’t look like we’re doing too well “over there” either. Every day I open the newspaper and read about large numbers of people who were blown up, murdered, or kidnapped. And often at our hand, as we add to the totals with bombs, drones, and infantry and call it “collateral” damage. Our belligerent policies have brought death and destruction to hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children throughout the world.

Now, I understand that bringing ’em home has absolutely no chance of happening. Nonetheless, it’s time to call for what we know to be right and to hell with just what’s possible. What we’re doing now is not only unsustainable and morally bankrupt, it threatens the very soul of our country.

3 penny

Post Script: I want to thank Kent Ballard who, during the past six months, graced this page with humor, intelligence, and wit. Although he’ll pinch-hit for me on occasion, I’m going to really miss reading him every other week. Thank you, Kent. Zach

The Great Asian Peace Offensive

by Kent Ballard


About a year ago North Korea announced it was suspending all non-aggression pacts with South Korea. They shut down the North-South hotline and closed the only shared opening in their border. They also moved two regiments of self-propelled artillery to the border and shelled an island belonging to the South.

They then announced their “right” to conduct nuclear first-strikes against the United States.

Technically, we were in a state of war with North Korea. Big deal.

We’ve been in a technical state of war with the goofy SOBs for sixty years now. They’ve been in a technical state of war with the entire United Nations for that time. They never signed a peace treaty, only a cease-fire. But they’ve become even more alarmingly insane recently, now that Russia, China, and the United States have all signed a United Nations decree forcing them to allow their ships to be inspected at sea by any naval force. They’ve had their assets frozen in many different countries, travel sanctions imposed on different NK government individuals and corporations, and suffer even tighter trade sanctions. This includes food, something the country consistently lacks.

China is their major trading partner. Pakistan runs a distant second. And that’s it. Those are the only trading partners they have besides very minor paper agreements. Also, China controls all of the oil going into North Korea, as well as much of its food. Beijing called in the North Korean ambassador just before NKs latest nuclear test and told him the Chinese were gravely concerned about a nuclear arms race on the Korean peninsula, further distancing of North Korea by governments all around the world, the potential for Japan to develop nuclear weapons in response, and last but not least, pissing off the United States.

North Korea ignored China’s warning. They detonated another nuke and then fired a cheap satellite off into an erratic and unstable orbit.

China then voted with us, the Russians, and the rest of the world to tighten the noose around North Korea’s neck even more after that.

A White House spokesman said the United States was perfectly capable of defending itself, which is true. But even in a fully conventional attack, we’d lose almost all ten thousand American soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen, plus our air bases and naval facilities in South Korea in the opening salvos of hundreds or thousands of conventional rockets. Seoul would fall within hours and be leveled in the process.

And that would piss off America. And Japan. The Russians would shit their pants. China would no longer be able to deter any response we countered with. The general consensus around the world is we’d go nuclear as soon as friendly voices quit answering the telephone in South Korea.

The family monarchy of dwarfs and hunchbacks who’ve been the North Korean dictators for the past sixty-some years are lousy poker players. They’ve bluffed, cheated, and been caught looking at everyone’s cards too often. They and Pakistan, our dependable allies in the Mideast, have been caught sharing nuclear weapons and missile technology illegally. If you don’t think the North Korean government is dangerously insane, keep in mind they’re the only nation with a scientific community who claims to have found unicorn breeding grounds. And they’re dead serious.

I was never a great fan of Bill Clinton. But I think he said it best when, on a tour to the DMZ in South Korea a reporter asked him, “What would happen, Mr. President? What would we do if the whole North Korean Army and Air Force came roaring over that border in the middle of the night?”

Clinton blinked at the reporter as if he was a very slow child, then replied, “Well, North Korea would cease to exist in about 30 minutes.” I think that was not only one of the most honest answers he ever gave, but possibly one of the most humorous if you like your comedy black.

At any given time, the U.S. Navy has at least one and often two missile submarines parked just off the North Korean coast. Missile flight times across the whole country would be in the neighborhood of five minutes or less. In a comic reversal of the threat in The Hunt For Red October we have kids sitting out there, listening to rock n’ roll, and conducting nuclear missile drills on them weekly while feasting on cheeseburgers and pizza.

China naturally wants a vassal state between it and the gaudy capitalists in South Korea. It wouldn’t do to have their citizens look across the Yalu river and see brightly-lit skyscrapers and a powerful capitalistic economic engine running 24 hours a day. But now even China is getting fed up with the screeching rhetoric coming out of that vassal state, and as crazy as the world is getting anymore they might just ask America to plant its nukes where the wind would not carry fallout over their country. The Chinese have now become gaudy capitalists too, in everything but name.

Shhh! It’s a secret. Don’t tell anybody.

Every government knows that the United States remains the only nation on earth to use nuclear weapons in anger. Most of them think it’s best to keep it that way. That would keep all the criticism off their backs, allow them to take the moral high road (which never existed in international politics anyway), and give them a good look at what we can and cannot do with all those expensive toys we’ve been buying over the years.

There is another possibility. China could act alone. There’s literally a giant pipeline running under the Yalu river between China and North Korea. There is a valve to that pipeline on the Chinese side. If it were to be shut off, one hell of a lot of North Koreans would begin freezing very quickly, and it’s damned hard to run a war on empty gas tanks. Sure, the NKs have military fuel stockpiles—but not enough to fight a full scale war for more than just a few days. China has seen to that already. They still want that buffer-nation between them and the South, but there is a limit even to their patience. After North Korea rebuked their warnings last year, Beijing hinted darkly at a possible “regime change” in that country. That’s diplomat-speak for Chinese Special Forces armed with sniper rifles.

From what I’ve read, there was an extremely unusual outbreak of common sense at the UN between America, Russia, China, the UK, France, and other nations. We all know that any serious squeezing we do to North Korea will simply starve more of their innocent people and the leadership will remain unaffected. The latest UN resolutions were tailored to put the heat on the leadership, not the peasants, although they will undoubtedly suffer even more now. Still, the United Nations is aiming at the head, not the feet of North Korea.

But I have a better idea.

A preemptive strike on North Korea using our stealth strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems.

A military mission even Gandhi would love.

If the B-2 bomber is as good as they say it is, we could overfly North Korean airspace without being detected. And we could pull off one of the craziest—and greatest—humanitarian stunts in history.

Load the bomb bays of a dozen B-2s with canisters, hundreds of them, containing cell phones, solar chargers, and miniaturized satellite antennas. Put a few laptop computers in each canister, along with every scrap of rice, flour, and powdered milk we can cram into them. Basic medicines, candies, and infant formula. Mix up everything in the canisters, a little of this and some of that. Send written instructions in Korean. No propaganda, not a single word of it. No American markings on the canisters or cargo or parachutes. Nothing that would clearly mark where these things came from—although everyone would know anyway.

Then on a moonless night at 3:00 AM local time, fly over North Korea and bomb the daylights out of the countryside with the means to communicate, to see and understand what’s going on in the real world. Bomb the population with medicines and rice. Keep everything small—even the food packets—and quick and easy to hide. Scatter those canisters everywhere in the country. When sent on conventional missions, those B-2 Spirits can haul eighty 500 pound bombs apiece. A dozen of them would have a payload of nearly half a million pounds. (You can be as critical as you want, but you can never say we bought second-rate bombers.)

Of course, the North Korean army would shoot anyone caught with anything that came from one of those canisters and confiscate whatever they could lay their hands on. The captured material would go up through the ranks—and probably a great deal of it would disappear before it got to headquarters. Would you trust a nineteen year old North Korean corporal—who only knew poverty and hunger his whole life—to turn in everything he found? Everything? What if his family, his little brother and sister, are hungry too? They almost certainly will be.

Regardless, some of it—maybe most of it—would remain in the hands of the peasants. Those who could read would explain to the others what all the instructions said. Enclosed pictographic instructions would do the rest. Communication links would begin to open with the world. The food would be eaten instantly, and the medicines would begin saving lives. The satellite antennas could be based on the kinds our troops carry with them in the field—pop open, snap shut. Yes, very many would make it to the people themselves, and they must certainly know how to hide things by now.

Think about that for a minute.

Sure, it’d cost a lot of money. But only a tiny fraction of what one battle in one war would cost. If we could get in and out without losing any bombers we could whistle and look innocent and tell everyone we had no idea what the North Korean government was babbling about this time. Everyone would know we were lying, but no one, allies or enemies, could prove a thing. We could even put out public international feelers, asking the Egyptians if they did it, or maybe Iceland. Maybe it was Bulgaria. Or Peru.

Crazy? Hell yes, it’s crazy! So crazy that many people simply wouldn’t believe it. And those who did and managed to put two and two together would think about it for a moment and then see the sheer brilliance of such a mission—using stealthy nuclear weapons delivery systems to drop food, communications, medicines, knowledge, and hope. And someday, after such a bombing mission, if the North Korean people changed their leadership by themselves they would almost certainly install a new government much more friendly to the United States than anything put in place by China.

What would China do? Rattle their nuclear sabers at us for doing such an imperialist thing like dropping food and medicine? Would Russia put its missiles on alert for dropping smart phones and hand-cranked radio receivers?

It would confuse the hell out of everybody. And when the confusion ended, I think half the world would burst out laughing and America’s stock would go up everywhere. Dropping bombs is an act of war. Dropping powdered milk…I don’t think the world has a response for that.






Something seemed strange when my eyes popped open. Not the recliner, used to it by now. Not even the shoulder pain after my recent surgery. Mornings always begin with that these days. But this time the ache seemed lighter and, for a moment, I wondered whether the painkillers were still working after seven hours.

Then it hit me. The pain was less simply because there was less pain.


Okay, then. Rather than automatically grabbing for my morning meds, I decided to see if I could skip that round and wait for the next. Sit at the table, have my coffee, read the paper, hell, take the fucking brace off for a while.

Big mistake. For the first time in what felt like forever, I actually understood what I’d been reading for the last few weeks. But on this particular morning I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, grabbed the past week of the Boston Globes and read them all. That’s when I realized I had awakened to a nightmare.

“Boots on the ground” in Iraq? Hadn’t we already done that with horrifying results? (Is there anyone anywhere in the world (other than Iraqi politicians who got rich and powerful) who actually imagines our decade long debacle was any kind of victory for anybody? Or even slowed the growth of terrorism in any way? And now our guns, drones, bombs, and warships are starting to point toward Syria as well as Iraq.

I’m a fucking usher at the same movie over and over and, regardless of the “new” situation, I know the ending will be the same. It always is and has been since the Second World War. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results?

Does anyone really expect a better conclusion to using our force in the Middle East? I don’t think so.

Except, I suppose, the military and those who control it. When you have the largest number of weapons ever accumulated throughout the entire course of history, the incentive to use them must feel irresistible. Kinda like having a naked sex partner in the other room. Sooner or later you’re going into that room. Probably sooner.

And make no mistake. For most politicians war is sex.

It seems apparent that our government—both Democrat and Republican—just can’t get the taste for blood out of their mouths. Could it be that if we stop being the cops of the world we’ll no longer have any identity?

We sure as hell don’t want to be known for the chart at the top of this column. And that chart doesn’t even mention the insane income disparity that currently exists. Did anyone reading this ever believe we’d be living in a country where financial inequality would be greater than during the Robber Baron era? Not me.

Truthfully, when I combine all that I read, see, and watch about our domestic and foreign policies, it doesn’t feel like a nightmare. It is one.

And I’m one of the swells. White, relatively healthy, have a home that’s paid for, work I usually enjoy, friends and relatives with little or no chance of anything other than ill-health or accidents waiting to occur. Call me crazy, but that’s just not good enough.

This isn’t the country I imagined and hoped it could become. I never thought we’d spend our lives simply enjoying the arts, never thought we’d totally eradicate poverty, or even live in communes where no one fought about whose turn it was to do the dishes. I did, however, believe that if people put their service shoulder (no pun intended) to the grindstone, time and effort would tilt all of us to a better place. A place where we wouldn’t have to sweat our children’s opportunities or our grandchildren’s lives.

Obviously I was wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s worse now for most Americans than it’s ever been. And you don’t even need that chart to see it.

Ask people you know. Ask the person who works in Walmart but has to receive food stamps to feed her kids.

Ask anyone who has children who couldn’t afford college how their job search is going. Ask if they’ve been offered anything other than part-time work with absolutely no benefits. Including health insurance–other than the half-ass Obamacare that tries to pretend it’s “healthcare for all.”

Last week Kent wrote about the way suicide sneaks up on people with bi-polar conditions. But I have a suspicion there is something I’d call “political suicide.” Do you really think the day Hunter Thompson shot himself he was more depressed than the days, months, years before? Does anyone believe that about Spaulding Gray the windy day he waded into the ocean never to return alive?

I have no doubts that a forensic psychologist could/would uncover a ton of personal reasons for why these two people took their lives. But I’ll go to my grave believing a serious slide into their descent was the realization that our society was going to get worse. Much, much worse.

They were dead right.

Now, I have no plans to kill myself because my country is the belly of the beast. I’ll continue to do as I’ve always done. Try to write about difficulties in human relationships (see Matt Jacob), about all sorts of wrongs through this column, try to find pleasure where possible—and even write about that too. Plus, I will continue to believe in my heart of hearts that innovations in technology will enable good, compassionate people throughout the world to communicate and create the potential to grow seeds of positive change.

But those seeds are still just “potential.” Now is now, and now it’s time to take my painkillers.

“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” ~ Edith Wharton


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

but most of the time, it seriously sucks.

A few weeks ago I wrote about experiences that make living enjoyable( but the past two weeks have left me a whole lot less enamored with the world I’m living in. Not simply because of the horrible Boston bombings and the incredible abrogation of civil liberties imposed upon our metropolitan area by the state, F.B.I. and myriad other agencies. This “shelter in place” (i.e. “lockdown”) had all the earmarks of martial law without being declared. And it makes no difference to me whether people were okay with it or not. Welcome to the rest of the world. Again.

I understand the need to capture bombers, the need to determine whether there are more explosives, whether there are more accomplices. All important, but important enough to run roughshod over people’s legitimate rights?  I don’t think so, but again, welcome to the rest of the world.

Worse, there were about eight murders during the manhunt totally unrelated to the bombs, but they only deserved a paragraph mention in the newspaper. No manhunt for those killers. No “shelter in place.” No 24/7 news coverage. No media trucks and hoards of reporters (finally, a good thing) surrounding the victims’ houses. Nothing.

Pick a day and just read the headlines of any newspaper, and what do you see? Pick a local news station and watch a compendium of who went psychotic and killed someone flash across the screen followed by a weather report and sports. Just your typical news.

But all the above is minor league shit compared to what we as a species do to each other every single hour of every single day. There are the drones blasting houses, bombs destroying villages, people fighting over whether or not countries ought to have the nuclear capability to destroy the planet.

We’re still negotiating whether it’s okay to have the weapons that can destroy the fucking planet!  Pick a continent, pick a country, pick a religion, pick a sect, pick an ideology, pick a people, and what do we find? Murder, mayhem, shattered lives, limbs, families. This is who we seem to be.

So this is why we sit on top of the food chain? To kill, maim, blow each other up and decide who can and cannot annihilate the world? Not content with simply slaughtering that which is supposedly on a lower rung, we aren’t satisfied unless we’re slaughtering each other. And we call this civilization? Sorry, we’ve left the realm of right or wrong, good or evil. Frankly, it all seems insane. Really, really insane.

And, for what? Sure, every war has its reasons, every religion a purpose to its blood-shedding, every ideology a leg to stand on, every invasion a rationalized reason, every country its enemies (well, maybe not Canada). So fucking what? Ultimately, is it really that important whose dick is bigger?

I haven’t even begun to list the atrocities our species has wreaked.

How a about a small sample of wars:

Index of Warfare


  Abyssinian War
Afghan Pakistan War
Algerian War
Alliance Afghanistan War
America Mexico War
America Spain War
Anglo Afghan War, 1st
Anglo Afghan War, 3rd
Anglo Boer War, 2nd
Anglo Dutch Wars, 1st
Anglo Dutch Wars, 2nd
Anglo Dutch Wars, 3rd
Anglo Iraq War
Anglo Spanish War
Argentina Uruguay War
Aztec War
Balkan Wars, 1st
Balkan Wars, 2nd
Balkan Wars, 3rd
Bishops War, 1st
Bishops War, 2nd
Boer War
Bolivian Guerrilla War
Bosnian War
Boxer Rebellion War
Brazil Argentina War
Bulgaria Serbia War
Burmese War, 2nd
Byzantine War
Carlist War
Castille Granada War
China India War
China Manchuria War
China Mongol War
China SE Asia War
China Taiwan War
China Tibet War
Christian Civic League
Congo War, 1st
Croatian War
Cyprus Genoa War
Dalriada Bernicia War
Egypt Crusaders
Egypt Iraq War
Eighty Years War
Ethiopia Somalia War
Falklands War
Flavian Emperors
French Indochina War
Grand Alliance
Gulf War, 1st
Gulf War, 2nd Gulf War, 2nd
Holland Sumatra War
Holy Crusades, The 1st
Holy Crusades, The 3rd
Holy Crusades, The 4th
Holy Crusades, The 7th
Huguenot Wars
Hundred Years War
Hungarian Insurrection
Hungary Byzantine War
Hungary Slovakia War
India Pakistan War
Jacobite Rebellion
Jenkin’s Ear
Korean War
Kosovo War
Leon Almohades War
Libya Chad War
Libya Chad War
Long War
Long War
Lothian Picts War
Magyar Invasions
Maratha War, The 2nd
Marcomanni War
Mercia Wales War
Mongol Hungary War
Mongol Hungary War
Mongol Khwarezm War
Mongol Korea War
Mongol Persia War
Mongol Punjab War
Mongol Samarkand War
Mongol Tibet War
Mongol Vietnam War
Moorish War
Muslim Rebellion
Mysore Wars, 1st
Mysore Wars, 2nd
Mysore Wars, 4th
Napoleonic Wars
Navarre Moors War
Nurachi Dynasty
Orange Dynasty
Paraguay Bolivia War
Peace Bureau
Picts Lothian War
Portugal Castille War
Portugal Moors War
Portugal Morocco War
Romania Moldavia War
Sand War
Scotia Bernicia War
Scotia Pict War
Scotland Ireland War
Scotland Scotia
Serbia Albania War
Serbian Uprising, 1st
Seven Years War
Sicilian Vespers
Sikh War, 1st
Sikh War, 2nd
Six Day War
South Africa Angola War
Spain Leon War
Spain Moors War
Spain Naples War
Spain Peru War
Spain Portugal War
Sri Lankan Civil War
Sudan War
Suez War
Suleyman’s West War
Syria Lebanon War
Taiping Rebellion
Ten Years War
Texan Civil War
Thity Years War,
Tripoli WarUganda Tanzania War
Uganda Tanzania War
Uganda Tanzania War
Valois Hapsburg War
Vietnam Kampuchea War
Vietnam War, 1st
Vietnam War, 2nd
Viking Invasions
  Visigoth Greece War
Visigoth Spain War
War Devolution
War Succession
War the Spanish Succession
World War, 1st
World War, 2nd
Yom Kippur War

And if wars don’t float your boat, well take a look at how we now live:

World Poverty Statistics

Total Percentage of World Population that lives on less than $2.50 a day 50%
Total number of people that live on less than $2.50 a day 3 Billion
Total Percentage of People that live on less than $10 a day 80%
Total percent of World Populations that live where are widening 80%
Total Percentage of World Income the richest 20% account for 75%
Total Number of children that die each day due to Poverty 22,000
Total Number of People in Developing Countries with Inadequate Access to Water 1.1 billion
Total Number of School Days lost to Water Related Illness 443 million school days
Child World Poverty Statistics
Number of children in the world 2.2 billion
Number of Children that live in Poverty 1 billion
Total Number of Children that live without adequate shelter 640 million (1 in 3)
Total Number of Children without access to safe water 400 million (1 in 5)
Total Number of Children with no access to Health Services 270 million (1 in 7)
Total Numberof Children who die annually from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation 1.4 million
Year Ratio of People at Poverty to Wealthy Level
1820 3 to 1
1913 11 to 1
1950 35 to 1
1973 44 to 1
1992 72 to 1

We as a species don’t give much of a shit about anyone or anything but ourselves. I have mine so fuck everyone else, the planet as well, what the hell. And if we can manage it, what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is also mine.

Yes, there were great acts of kindness and caring in Boston after the blasts.There were people who risked their own lives to save others, but we all love our cheap running shoes and cell phones—and don’t really think about their expensive cost to the people who made them. I’m not condemning individuals per se; this is a condemnation of our species’ conception of humanity.

There was a time when I thought the first fish that took a breath of air outside the water was a giant evolutionary step forward. Not so sure any more.

And now let’s return to American Idol.


Or do we?

Last week during the N.C.A.A. Men’s basketball play-offs, Florida Gulf Coast University became the first 15th seed in the history of the Men’s N.C.A.A. to eliminate a #2 seeded team in the history of the basketball tournament.

Major media eruption! Not simply sports stations, but national news, local news, and talk shows. You couldn’t turn on the television or radio without hearing about the “Cinderella” story. Florida Gulf became America’s darlings—despite annihilating most of the betting pools throughout the country. No matter, they were the little school that could and did. And when F.G.C.U. clawed their way to the Sweet Sixteen, the media frenzy was overwhelming. Which actually made me begin to think.

Why when it comes to sports do people really enjoy and support underdogs, but seem to despise them in real life? (Sorry my sports’ fan friends—games are only real life to those who play them or work for or own teams.)

Perhaps ‘despise’ is too strong a word. Ignore works and might be a better term. How much attention has any specific family whose house has been repossessed received from the media—other than the very few who have made a huge public stink? No water cooler conversations about the hard working underdog who was the victim of mortgage manipulations by banks and companies who are apparently “too big to fail.”

In fact, where is the public outcry about the term “too big to fail or too big to jail?” Those institutions are over-dogs and I’m not hearing much anger about their oppression of our fellow citizens, much less their slice and dice of the economy which affected us all. Hell, that makes us the underdogs and we aren’t even rooting for ourselves. (Senator Bernie Sanders excepted.)

How often do people sit around the dinner table chatting excitedly about the pay differential between white males as opposed to women and Blacks who work at the exact same job for the exact same number of years? Yes, there are organizations that raise the issue, but it’s a long spit between an organization’s agenda and public fervor.

Unemployment. From where I sit, the only time that receives much attention is when it’s tied to a politician’s aspirations. Unless someone has a friend or relative out of work, I haven’t heard much support for those millions of underdogs. In fact, despite the absolutely clear evidence with regard to the lack of available jobs, I keep listening to bullshit about “If someone really wants to work, there are jobs out there.” Only jobs I ever hear about are “Welcome to Wall-Mart” and just try to make a living doing that. Even the Federal Reserve talks about 6.5% unemployment as acceptable. Acceptable to whom? Surely not one of those 6.5% underdogs.

Homelessness? People to step over, around, and avoid. Yes, here too there are organizations and shelters. Which have to constantly beg for funds. Where’s the hue and cry for these folks? And there’s sure no outpouring of bequests from the over-dogs about this either. Indeed, what I hear is pretty much “fuck ’em.”

Hell, we even have a ‘fuck ’em’ attitude toward those who can’t afford healthcare. Even the minor reforms that Obama initiated which added coverage for three million people was met with hatred. And some states are even refusing federal funds to extend their Medicaid program for their own poor.

Truth is, there are no end of examples where we don’t root for underdogs, but cheer those who make life miserable for most of our population—to say nothing about the way our country bombs foreign villages in order to save them. (See Iraq). This, along with no complaints about our support of dictators whose feet have been stomping on the necks of their people—for decades or longer. We support underdogs?

The only sense I can make out of all this has to do with a huge number of our people who actually identify with the overlords. A belief that they too can wind up on the top of the pyramid, though all evidence is to the contrary. An inability to get their heads around the reality that 5% of our population owns or controls 90% of our wealth (give or take a few % points). I guess we believe the club is still open. Ha!

So Florida Gulf Coast’s run gave all of us our collective misconception that we actually love underdogs. And we do—just not in the real world.