Chickens come home to roost...

Three desperate ideas are running through my head today that somehow fit together like a jazz improvisation playing with rhythm, melody and context all at the same time.

+ First, are the comments made by Malcolm X shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. On December 1, 1963, when he was asked to reflect about the assassination of Kennedy, Malcolm said that it was a case of "chickens coming home to roost". He went on to say that "chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they've always made me glad." The New York Times went on to note that Malcom X added that the murders of Patrice Lumumba, Congo leader, of Medgar Evers, civil rights leader, and of the Negro girls bombed earlier in a Birmingham, AL were other examples of other 'chickens coming home to roost'."  At the time, most Americans were offended and thought Malcolm X was crude and cruel.  Today...?  Well, today the heart of his message has become more clear:  what goes around, comes around and we often reap what we sow in politics, love and family relations.

+ Second, a poem by the late Gil Scott-Heron called:  "Whitey on the Moon."  Brother Gil called it out free and clear long before the hip-hop world was even a gleam in its mothers eye.

+ And third, today's NY Times column by Nicholas Kristoff entitled:  Fantasy Nation. He makes it painfully clear that the logical consequence of the current Republican mania for cutting taxes, eliminating social programs like education scholarship and all assistance to the poor while increasing military spending is to make the United States more like Pakistan than "the land of the free and home of the brave."

With Tea Party conservatives and many Republicans balking at raising the debt ceiling, let me offer them an example of a nation that lives up to their ideals.
This society embraces traditional religious values and a conservative sensibility. Nobody minds school prayer, same-sex marriage isn’t imaginable, and criminals are never coddled.
It has among the lowest tax burdens of any major country: fewer than 2 percent of the people pay any taxes. Government is limited, so that burdensome regulations never kill jobs. The budget priority is a strong military, the nation’s most respected institution. When generals decide on a policy for, say, Afghanistan, politicians defer to them. Citizens are deeply patriotic, and nobody burns flags.

So what is this Republican Eden, this Utopia? Why, it’s Pakistan. (check it out @

Back when President Bush first invaded Iraq, Robert Bellah observed that we could not sustain our assertive foreign policy and military adventurism AND pursue cutting taxes.  The history of empire makes clear that it is impossible to both expand government and contract the tax base at the same time... or else something will collapse.  As Reinhold Niebuhr taught us not that long ago, one of the ironies of American history is that more often than not, those who drape themselves in the flag with the greatest fervor eventually become its most destructive enemies, too - often at the same time! It is now clear that what America will let collapse is not adventurism, but our social contract - civil society - the common good.  And in that Malcolm was right again: the chickens are coming home to roost.


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