A Harvard man
Like Tom Cotton, I have served in a war. I have four medals, none terribly important, to show for it. Perhaps he has more.
Like Tom Cotton, I have the distinction of having a degree from Harvard (HBS '58). Unlike him I cannot claim to be "a Harvard Man." That distinction goes only to graduates of the college.
I do have a good friend, however, a fellow naval officer, an important Republican (or at least he has been), who is "a Harvard Man." I hope he will not chastise me for sharing a recent email:
"Would it surprise you when I say that your new senator is a despicable piece of shit? It's too bad that Harvard doesn't revoke degrees. When I was an undergraduate, there was a common belief that not only can you be expelled but, in really bad cases, you could be expunged. All record of your existence at the college would be erased. Of course, that would not be possible now, if it ever was."
To expunge our junior senator would only bolster his bona fides for the Arkansas voters who voted against their self-interest to elect him. But it would make some of us in the Harvard community feel good.
"Support our troops?" Yes. Support someone who quite obviously joined the Army in order to add to his resume when running for election? No.
Since 1636, graduates of Harvard have aimed to advance the cause of freedom and republicanism (small "r") in America, some liberal, some conservative. Preserve us from one who may destroy the Republic. Arkansas deserves better.
An open letter to Tom Cotton
Congratulations on your election to the Senate of the United States of America. You may run for president someday, but I want to point out to you that you are not currently the president.
When you were elected I had no doubt you would embarrass the state of Arkansas, but I had no idea it would be this soon or that your actions would be so injurious to the security, power and prestige of the United States of America. Your unprecedented correspondence with the leaders of the nation of Iran is the most astonishing thing I have seen a member of Congress do. I am 65 years old and have seen a lot.
Not only are you wrong about your interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, you seem to be ignorant that what you did was illegal. By now I am sure you have had to read up on the particulars of the Logan Act, which criminalizes the actions of persons who attempt in any way to negotiate or effect the negotiations of the duly authorized president with other nations. In another copy of this letter, I am urging Attorney General Holder and his successor to fully investigate whether you and the 46 other Republican senators can be charged with the crime.
Your action in this matter is beyond arrogant. It is reckless, it undermines this and every future president by showing that this nation is no longer unified when it comes to negotiating agreements and treaties. It should not have required knowledge of the Logan Act for you to know that what you did was inherently wrong and un-American.
I have no hope or expectation that you will retract your actions. I do hope that the other members of Congress come to appreciate your reckless ambition and see it for what it is, so that you are never able to undermine this nation again for the remainder of what I hope is your final term in office. I also hope the Department of Justice will do its job.
Truth and abuse
I would like to make a few comments regarding Arkansas Times' coverage of the Justin Harris adoption story. This kind of story is heartbreaking, complicated and (aside from being high profile) not uncommon. I've worked more than 30 years as a therapist with abused children and see several cases each year where many months may go by before those involved begin to get a clear understanding of "what really happened." Sometimes things never become clear — typically as a result of little reliable information, too many conflicting stories and too much ambiguity. These cases always bring up strong unpleasant emotions and immediate urges to ease the resulting discomfort by quickly finding out what is "true" and "doing something." Simplifying things and quickly throwing in our lot on one side or the other brings some comfort. When we feel we have the truth we can confidently blast away at those on the other side who got it all wrong. Three or 12 months later more "facts" come out and, oops, it turns out we had it all wrong. I've been through this process dozens of times with my clinical cases and find myself going through it again as I follow coverage of this Harris adoption story.
What I find very pleasing, however, is the quality of journalism in the Arkansas Times. It is wonderful! This depth of coverage with an impartial tone is welcome and rare. The fourth estate at its best. Kudos to Benjamin Hardy! It is this kind of reporting that can, and I hope will, bring about real change that results in better care for the kids in our state's child protection system. There is a need for levelheaded policy discussions about the issues raised in these articles and some meaningful change, not just rolling of heads and passing of more knee-jerk laws.
Conservatism throughout history
The conservative mentality has a long history of being wrong and having to change its position, at least outwardly, in the face of scientific and social change. Consider the fact that Earth was once believed to be flat. Conservative church leaders went so far as to force Galileo to recant his findings on the issue or face trial for "heresy." A conservative church also thought once that mental illness was the work of the devil and disease epidemics were God's way of punishing wicked people for their sins. There was once a time when conservatives used the Bible to justify slavery, as well as the oppression of women. In all these instances conservatives have had to admit being wrong and change their stances. One might think a history of getting it wrong would make conservatives more cautious about continuing to apply the same mentality in more recent times, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Today's conservatives, primarily mainstream Republicans and Tea Party types, are still using the same worn-out arguments to justify their positions on issues like same-sex marriage, abortion, the death penalty, poverty and the "War on Drugs." If conservatives have been wrong so often in the past, why still hold on to this archaic approach? Is it possible that today's conservatives may have to change their stances on these hot-button issues? With most of the world, including a majority of Americans whether conservatives will admit it or not, becoming more progressive, they must change with the times. If not they will risk becoming a despised minority within their own country, and the GOP will be added to the list of failed political parties such as Whigs and Federalists.