The Redemption of Dr Seuss

Dr Seuss

One hundred and ten years ago today, Theodor Geisel was born. He is better known today by his pen name, Dr Seuss. And we all love him even if his book If I Ran the Zoo was cruel to give to young readers. Or maybe that’s just my complaint. But the fact is that he wrote and illustrated a number of great books and the world is a far better place for him having lived.

Now I’m going to tell you an adult story about Dr Seuss. But don’t worry, it has a happy ending. He was what Bill O’Reilly would call a “far left loon.” That is to say that Seuss was an actual liberal and not the faux liberals that are so popular today in America. He was early in his condemnation of the fascist movements in Europe. Related to this was an extreme anti-Japanese attitude during World War II.

He wrote uncharming things like, “But right now, when the Japs are planting their hatchets in our skulls, it seems like a hell of a time for us to smile and warble: ‘Brothers!’ It is a rather flabby battle cry. If we want to win, we’ve got to kill Japs, whether it depresses John Haynes Holmes or not. We can get palsy-walsy afterward with those that are left.” And it wasn’t just the Japanese who we were actually at war with. He didn’t seem to distinguish them from Americans who happened to have had Japanese ancestors, as you can see in the following disturbing political cartoon:

Dr Seuss Anti-Japanese Cartoon

It’s terrible and disappointing and all of that. But we all have vile tendencies. We are all less than we know we ought to be. What is best about humans is that we are able to change—some of us anyway.

After the war, Seuss visited Japan where our treatment of the people of that nation, including the nuclear bombings, caused him to change his opinions. As a result, he wrote Horton Hears a Who! which he dedicated to a Japanese friend.

The addition of “redeemed sinner” to Dr Seuss’ many great accomplishments only makes me love him more. A person’s a person, no matter how small.

Happy birthday Dr Seuss!

Source: Good Comics

Merciful God and Parasitic Worms

David AttenboroughMy response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that’s going to make him blind. And [I ask them], ‘Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child’s eyeball? Because that doesn’t seem to me to coincide with a God who’s full of mercy.

—David Attenborough
Wild, Wild Life

Republicans Support War Not Troops

Bernie SandersI haven’t given any attention to Bernie Sanders’ veterans benefits bill (S.1982), even though my Google+ account was flooded with information about it last week. I knew it wouldn’t go anywhere. But what ultimately happened says a lot about the modern Republican Party.

It was a simple bill: it allocated $21 billion over the next ten years to enhance veterans benefits, which is needed, given the huge increase in demand caused by our two recent very long wars. But it’s hard to get too excited about such things given that the Republicans are against doing anything out of principle. They wouldn’t want the president to have a “win.”

So I figured that like most widely supported bills, it would make it through the Senate and go to die in the House. After all, the Senate is filled with people like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, men who have never seen a war they didn’t like. Certainly these men who love talking about our brave heroes in uniform would be for supporting the former troops. But no. They both filibustered the bill. So it didn’t even get the chance to go to the House to die.

Of course, the Republicans who filibustered the bill would never admit to being against the bill. They claim to be all for extending these benefits. But this is always the way things work in Congress. This is one of the main points in Winner-Take-All Politics. Politicians will never admit to being against a bill in a general sense. They always come up with some minor reason why the bill is unacceptable. I lampooned this before regarding the minimum wage, “If we were raising it to $8.99 per hour, I would vote for it. But I just cannot support $9 per hour!”

We have the same thing with Sanders’ veterans benefits bill. The government has a floating fund for foreign wars—money that goes to pay for the Afghanistan War but is currently not being used to fund the Iraq War. The bill uses some of this money. Graham and the rest of the Republicans are using this as an excuse to be against the bill. He said, “That’s an illusionary pay-for. That’s not real money.” Of course, Graham was against pulling out of Iraq. So he was all for spending that money to create new disabled veterans. But using it to take care of those disabled veterans who already exist was not acceptable.

The bill was blocked by a procedural vote that required 60 votes to proceed, with a vote of 56-41. Only two Republicans voted for it: Dean Heller of Nevada and Jerry Moran of Kansas. Neither man is anything but rigidly far right, but in the context of the modern Republican Party, they are among the more reasonable people.

The whole thing is shameful, but not surprising. There is no doubt that under a Republican president, this bill would have passed with large bipartisan support. So the Republicans don’t seem to stand for anything if they might have to share the credit. What I wonder now is if Americans (and above all, the mainstream press) will continue to treat the Republican Party as though it is the party that is most supportive of the military. I’m not at all sure it will have any effect. For a long time it has been clear that the Republican Party isn’t pro-military, it is pro-war. Republican politicians are always in favor of war and that is not at all how one would act if one were interested in supporting the troops.