Dolce et Decorum Est…

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, 
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, 

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs 

And towards our distant rest began to trudge. 

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots 

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; 

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling, 

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; 

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling, 

And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . . 

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, 

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. 

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, 

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. 

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace 

Behind the wagon that we flung him in, 

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, 

His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin; 

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood 

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, 

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, 

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory, 

The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est 

Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen

Thought to have been written between 8 October 1917  and March, 1918

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The Ascendancy of Donald Trump

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So, Donald Trump has won in Nevada, and now he has won seven of the eleven Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses.. This is not surprising, actually. He has name recognition and he has a lead. There’s been ample evidence that, whilst Americans do love the underdog, it’s just not enough to help them win. Also, when your underdogs are people as personally unlikable as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, you’re honestly choosing between people who are going to be bad and worse for the country.

I unfortunately wasn’t able to watch the Republican debate on the 25th of February, but I’ve read enough to know that we shall not receive any actionable policy from anyone on the Republican side; it will be vitriol upon vitriol. Tonight’s debate will be no different.

What has the Republican party become? It would do no good to compare it to the Republican party of Abraham Lincoln, but to the party of Eisenhower. With each Republican presidency, the mix has become more and more astringent and difficult to swallow: war-obsessed, racist and xenophobic. It is no longer the fringes of the party that holds these ideals; the Republicans have chosen someone in Trump that holds all of these ideals. Despite the many conspiracies surrounding him (he’s a mole for the Democratic party, he’s only running as a commercial ploy, he’s a meme), Trump is winning votes and perhaps it is time to re-examine our American priorities.

Until next time, friends. – SDM

Photo by Thierry Ehrmann

On the South Carolina Primary

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I lived in South Carolina for two years. The Democratic party there is small but important. It was nearly non-existent in the city I lived in, but going to other places really surprised me with the amount of Democrats. Some were Yellow Dog Democrats, tried and true, and some were wildly progressive. South Carolina is a very religious, very conservative place, along with me very racist and quite misogynist. I drove daily on a road named for a Civil War general, and drove past Confederate memorials on that same road. It wore at me. I don’t miss the experience.

Hillary Clinton winning here is not much of a surprise. Democrats there are “conservative” in that they are not always progressive nor are they crazy liberal. So Clinton as a pragmatic Democrat was going to be popular in South Carolina. Most all Democrats would be considered Moderate or even right-wing outside of this weird fishbowl called America, and Clinton would be well at home among the blue Tories in the UK or even the Républicans in France. She is without a doubt the status quo. I wouldn’t call Bernie Sanders the equivalent to Jeremy Corbyn or Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, though. The United States has always been a fairly conservative place, even during the age of FDR, our most “liberal” president.

Clinton may well be on her way to becoming the Democratic nominee for the 2016 election. What this will mean for the Senate and House elections, that is a question. I have voted in advance of Super Tuesday, so I get to sit by the side and just watch.

The South may be Republican for the foreseeable future, but what might happen when we have whittled down our nominations to two? – SDM

Photo by Leslie Andrachuk

On Nevada and South Carolina

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I am not sure what I was expecting, honestly. Clinton, though she won and has a load of super delegates (people who are worth more than other delegates I suppose), she still isn’t smashing her direct competition into the ground. I am still undecided, though I did vote in advance. I feel that unless Clinton takes over half of the states on Super Tuesday, she will still have to fight.

Nevada is one of those ‘diverse’ states the news has been talking about; Clinton is supposed to be strong with minorities. Once more, the voting bloc of which I am a part is being told twice over that we must vote for Clinton: as a woman, I’m told I’m ‘going to hell’if I don’t support her, and as a black person I am told that she will be ‘best’ for us. I am tired of being told what to do, as a woman and a person of colour. It feels as if I am being treated as a toddler, and it is a bit patronising.

And in South Carolina, Donald Trump takes the lead over Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio by a full ten points. Having lived in South Carolina for two years, I am actually not surprised by this turn of events. South Carolina is a Conservative, fairly xenophobic state (with one exception, James Clyburn) and Trump is talking directly to those people who would rather have stayed pre-Civil Rights Act. But I am heartened by the fact that there is a strong progressive presence. It will take a very long time to destroy the shackles of Jim Crow, antebellum thinking, but perhaps we can get there.

I say this from Georgia, where I currently live. We have similar issues of xenophobia, of strong religious thinking, but where South Carolina has one Black Congressperson, Georgia has four, and our state has large centres of Democratic voting blocs: Atlanta, the capital; Augusta (Richmond County), the second largest city; Athens-Clarke County, the home of the University of Georgia; Macon, a largely Black city and, newly, Savannah. All of these places have enormous populations, but just not enough people vote to make a switch.

People are still guffawing, still disbelieving that a person like Trump could go on and win the nomination. The win in South Carolina is the first one that worries me, because it is the first indication of how the South may go for the Republicans.

The game continues on apace. – SDM

Photo by skeeze

On the Death of Justice Antonin Scalia

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When learning about the Supreme Court, they are always treated as a monolith. The separate justices were never really discussed, unless they were remarkable, or upon their deaths.

Obviously, this is not the case any more. Every Justice on the Supreme Court not only has a name, but some sort of recognisable personality…and sadly, an agenda. Growing up, I always felt that judges were imbued with extreme impartiality; the paragons of fairness. I figured that was the only way that they would have the ability to judge a situation.

The first time I was disabused of that notion was the struggle for Chief Justice Roberts’s position. I admittedly distrusted President Bush, so I would not trust any of his appointments. Chief Justice Roberts, while resolutely conservative, is more moderate than expected. Every other Supreme Court appointment has been a struggle of political proportions.

NPR plays a huge part in my interest in the Supreme Court; Nina Totenberg’s relaying of the arguments is one of my favourite things during All Things Considered and Morning/Weekend Editions. She reads the arguments, only changing her intonation when asking a question. I do yell at the radio when I am particularly incesed. Perhaps I should have been a lawyer.

That being said, I yelled a lot at Jusice Scalia’s arguments and questions. His most infuriating argument was during Fisher vs University of Texas, where he implied that black students weren’t intelligent enough to go to universities:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.

Not to mention his dissent of Obergefell v. Hodges, which decided the legality of same-sex marriage. Justice Scalia argued that because it would have been illegal during the time of the writing of the Constitution, it should be illegal today. Being homosexual would have been illegal during the writing of the Constitution, which is utterly ridiculous.

So, when one says one must not speak ill of the dead, I’m afraid I will have to keep silent on this Justice and his bigotry.

Until next time, then. – SDM

Photo by JC Fitz

On the New Hampshire Primary

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So, the people have spoken in the first primary of the nation. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, they have chosen two extremes. On the right, an unabashedly racist and proto-fascist blowhard. And on the left, America’s idea of what those crazy Europeans must be like, with their healthcare and their affordable universities.

I feel as though the reason Americans are so burnt out by the time November rolls around is because we begin this rigmarole two years before the actual voting and they honestly don’t care any more. I live for this sort of stuff, but it is punishing and can be repetitive.

Carly Fiorina has dropped out, and Chris Christie looks like he may do. This is when the winnowing begins! We still have way too many on the Republican side, but the game is still continuing apace.

There is obviously some debate, or some thought, that Bernie Sanders will do worse now that he is out of his ‘territory’ and onto more states that have a broader diversity of voters (more voters of colour, more women, etc). I feel like we are discussing people as if they are not autonomous, but huge swathes of demographic regions.

For my part, I will continue on with the watching. There are many things I hope for the United States as we continue forward.

It continues on. – SDM

Photo by Mark Buckawicki