December 22, 2009
To Senator Coburn and the People who Elected Him

This song is in response to Jerome Doolittle’s post from Ezra Klein about Tom Coburn and the death wish Coburn made for Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. It appears Senator Coburn inherited the genes of the people who lynched a a family in the hills of Okemah, Oklahoma many years ago, since their spirit lives on in Senator Coburn, as evidenced by his recent comment.

No wonder Woody Guthrie left Oklahoma. It appears that the genes of the killers who are revealed in this song are still around in the minds of at least one of the people of the Oklahoma hills and plains. My apologies to the good people of Oklahoma, wherever they may be. So let’s hear about that genetic background from an almost forgotten Woody Guthrie Song.

My apologies to my Democratic friends who might find this analogy disgusting, but I’m still disgusted about unnecessary attacks on Bill Clinton involving a prosecutor named Ken Starr and cigars and blue dresses and what was done to Howard Dean, and how John Kerry was treated and the many, many people who were dragged through the mud by Republicans in the years since Karl Rove and Lee Atwater arrived on the scene. People dragged through the mud for no good reason at all. All of the people involved in those episodes and many, many more are nothing but modern day lynchers of good men and women’s reputations. And one can make an analogy that those opposing the health care bill will likewise be killers of the babies and sons of young ladies like the one singing this song if the health care bill fails.

Furthermore, I offer my apologies to the people who unknowingly elected a person who carries around death wishes in his head; for you, I would offer the words of Christ: Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do. Maybe next time election time comes around they will think about Coburn’s comments about Senator Byrd when they cast their votes.


UPDATE: It appears that teabaggers from all over the country are now praying for Senator Byrd to die. One teabag caller on C-Span noted that Senator Inhofe was absent from the floor and wondered if the praying had “backfired” on them.

Think Progress has the story and a video and Taggan Goddards political wire also has a video post. Go there to watch the disgusting video. In light of these new developments, I am no longer letting Oklahomans who voted for Coburn off the hook and the teabaggers doing this praying are going to have God strike them or their relatives down sooner or later. Christians don’t pray for other human beings to die. The Ten Commandments demand that. Only pagans, people who have inherited lynching genes do. And there appear to be a lot of you among the teabagger, maybe all of you.

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Posted by Buck Batard at December 22, 2009 01:00 PM
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Buck, I have to say "genes" are a troublesome idea. So, OK, I say it as an American of mostly German descent and as the great-granddaughter of a Klansman, so consider the source. But, well, there's something extremely dangerous in the notion of inherited guilt. It's on a slippery slope that leads to the idea of an "enemy race" regardless of nationality or subjective allegiance.

As sometime defense lawyers, also, you and I both know the Constitutional and moral reasons why determinations of guilt should depend on an individual's acts rather than the individual's actual or purported membership in any particular social group.

Maybe we could speak in terms of a harmful tradition being passed down and not sufficiently questioned?

Posted by: Martha Bridegam on December 23, 2009 11:34 PM

Martha, you are so right, as always. I suppose I've lately been reading too much about genetics in the newspaper and the qualities that we do inherit. Unfortunately, all men and women are ultimately capable of unspeakable acts and perhaps that is something we do carry genetically, being part of the survival mechanism that is within us all, although a recent NY Times article which was written based on some scientific studies that have been recently carried out, that I don't have the link for says we are actually born with a genetic predisposition to help other people. This determination was made by observing the behavior infants and very young children.

So perhaps my first intuition is wrong and that custom and tradition, perhaps part of capitalism itself (as Allen Greenspan found out too late so recently and that we both knew a long time ago) can be a factor that contributes to selfishness and destructive behavior that can destroy a whole country and certainly do harm to many individuals within a society.

But custom, tradition and how we are taught to behave by our parents, our religion, if any, and how it is taught to us, our experiences in life and many other factors influence whether we engage in good or bad behavior in this life, and whether it is habitual or a rare occurrence. I do remember your comments here on another post regarding Hannah Arendt and her observations about what influenced good men to behave badly. And I would also note that Eric Hoffer's observations about those who become "True Believers" come to mind as well, which I perceive to be similar to what John Dean was talking about when he was discussing authoritarians and authoritarian followers.

For some reason I also associate what you're talking about with the movie and the book (which I haven't read but have watched on the screen) 2001: A Space Odyssey. I sometimes wonder if we're programming our computers and the systems of control over the internet with similar capabilities of bad behavior. Ultimately humans control such systems, but the machines are perhaps ultimately capable of taking on a life of their own as well, or so it seems to me sometimes.

On the other hand, this was a political post. And I think we can learn what that is all about from our old conservative friend Albert Jay Nock. But the Senator did deserve something like what I delivered for his egregious comment about Senator Byrd, at least from those of us who engage in partisanship and blog according, thus I decided to toss him a tough bone to knaw on, although I doubt he will ever even know about my post. I agree that the message may have been a little rough (which was intentional) and in the process I muddled up what I now realize may have sent the wrong social message in the process.

I do appreciate your comments though and this topic could serve as fodder for long discussions about human behavior and the capability of nations to destroy themselves. And that is something I worry about quite often these days. Although I realize that I'm wasting precious mental time by doing so, in that ultimately it is something that I have little control over other than just being one cog in a huge machine (or at least when I am thinking the way Kafka did in many of his books).

But I do appreciate your comment.

Posted by: Buck on December 24, 2009 12:37 AM

You have points.

But surely you agree that Senator Coburn bears full blame for his own sins, whether or not the founders of his home town were villains too, and he's the one who can refuse to repeat the old American crimes if he so chooses.

It's the notion of genetically inherited political leanings that set me off. Some similar things were said to justify the Japanese American Internment. As you know, roundups in general tend to follow from some collective ascription of indelible bad character.

I think we don't have determined inherited tendencies; what we have in countries, towns and families are traditions and patterns, either followed or resisted from one generation to the next. For example, there's hope that we can live down the use of bigotry for economic advantage, just as the children of alcoholics can with difficulty resist addictive life patterns.

In some horror movies (or maybe I mean Joss Whedon takeoffs on horror movies), there's a haunted house where the unquiet dead keep repeating a dreadful story to its dreadful yet unresolved conclusion, the same way over and over. To put the ghosts to rest, the heroes have to step into that painful story, resist the narrative being pressed on them, and retell or re-act the story toward a different, more satisfying ending.

We're like that as a country -- all countries are. We're still trying to retell the evil old stories toward some kind of ending that brings repose: the slavery stories, the lynching stories, the colonization stories, the sweatshop-boss and local-bully and abusive-parent stories. People who didn't commit the crimes of previous generations aren't responsible for them per se, but in keeping with the laws of gratuitous bailment, they assume guilt if they affirmatively choose to defend or deny or laugh off or profit from or repeat the crimes. When we try to ignore any unquiet dead instead of understanding them, they only become sublimated in new cruelties and defensive silences.

....OK, I'm trying out some ideas here from my own writing project, so apologies if they seem not entirely on topic. But maybe they are on topic. I would guess a man in Senator Coburn's position has a few unquiet dead and strange fruit looking over his shoulder. I don't believe in ghosts but I do believe that unacknowledged past wrongs have the power to warp human behavior in the present.

Posted by: Martha Bridegam on December 25, 2009 12:24 AM
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