thucythucy's Journal - Archives
was any kind of military genius.
As has been pointed out, his victories were all won against generals the like of McClellan, Pope, Burnsides. He was defeated, not only by Grant, but by Meade at Gettysburg--this after Meade had only had command of the Army of the Potomac for a few days.
Lee may have been outnumbered and outgunned, but so were the Vietcong, the American revolutionaries, the French/British on the field in 1914. All his victories were won on "home" soil, where he had the advantage of local support (providing intelligence as well as provision), and vastly greater knowledge of the local terrain. Whenever he was without these advantages -- Antietam, Gettysburg -- he lost, and only the timidity of McClellan and Meade kept those defeats from ending the war entirely.
Furthermore, as has also been pointed out, he seemed to have little or no concept of grand strategy, particularly in a defensive war. Gettysburg was the result not only of a tactical mistake (Picket's charge) but a huge strategic blunder. Longstreet, recognizing that the war would ultimately be won or lost in the west, suggested sending a corps from Lee's army to relieve the siege of Vicksburg. Lee opted for an invasion of the north instead.
By contrast, George Washington, who faced far longer odds than Lee, always had a clear vision of what he needed to win: namely, not to lose. His strategy during the revolution was that of a classic (albeit pre-industrial) insurgency. Avoid pitched battles in which your army might be destroyed. Avoid being trapped and besieged. Break your forces down when possible for quick, sharp attacks on favored terrain (i.e., Trenton) to keep the enemy off balance. At all costs, keep your army in being, and keep it mobile. Yes, it's less "glorious" than winning set piece battles like Chancellorsvile (in which Lee's casualties were staggering--making his decision to invade the north even more foolhardy), but at the end of the day you wear your opponent down.
Finally, one of the most important (and unlearned) lessons of the American revolution was that, even with Washington's brilliance, it might well have failed without foreign intervention. Southerners understood this--they fully expected the British and French to intervene. The Emancipation Proclamation didn't necessarily end that hope. All that southerners had to do to win foreign invention in January 1863 was issue their own emancipation proclamation. For me this is irrefutable proof that slavery and racism were at the heart of the confederate cause--no matter what revisionists today might claim. When faced with the choice of ending slavery or losing he war, they chose to lose the war. Not even the argument made by some of the top military command (not Lee, though) that win or lose slavery was dead, swayed southern politicians. Ditto the proposal to offer slaves who would fight for the south their freedom. As one southern newspaper put it
The cult of Lee masks all this, and more. Which is why it is so important that 150 years after the war began we still need to debunk it.
Sigh. Yet another right wing "libertarian" attacking the ADA without having clue one what it does or says.
The ADA would not require any business in a 2 story building to build "a $100,000 elevator" to accommodate an employee or a customer with a disability. The ADA requires "reasonable accommodation" for disabled employees--"reasonable" being defined on a case by case basis based upon the size of the business, the resources available, and the accommodation being requested. So a mom & pop antique store is judged by entirely different standards than, say, Bank of America. Similarly, the ADA doesn't require businesses or private entities to retrofit access if such a retrofit would be "an undue burden" or "an undue hardship." Where I live there are still plenty of small businesses without access. MacDonalds and Burger King, though, are accessible, because they've got the resources to do it without "undue hardship" (and in fact, since ADA, both have been actively soliciting disabled consumers. Message to all business owners: we spend money too, you know).
This is like the "King of the Hill" episode that claimed that under the ADA businesses are required to hire heroin addicts, or the Newt Gingrich story about some town somewhere having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars ramping "a nude beach." Pure BS.
Is it too much to ask someone running for the US Senate, who wants to attack the ADA, to at least read the bill before he mouths off?
That was a rhetorical question. The answer is painfully obvious.
Dear fellow DUers:
I thought you might be interested in a little discussed but very important part of the health insurance reform legislation President Obama signed into law on Tuesday.
For more information, contact:
Mike Oxford, (785) 224-3865
Bob Kafka, (512) 431-4085
ADAPT Celebrates Community First Choice Option in Health Care Reform
ADAPT, the national cross-disability grassroots group, today celebrates
the inclusion of the Community First Choice (CFC) Option and other long
term care-related provisions in the health care reform package passed by
the House on Sunday, March 21. These provisions bring people with
disabilities across America one step closer to home and community-base
supports and ending the institutional bias in Medicaid. Twenty years ago,
with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with
disabilities realized the beginning of a civil rights dream of access to
all levels of society. Today, ADAPT continues to fight to protect that
dream, re-committing to the enforcement of the ADA-based Olmstead Supreme
court case, which holds that no person can be forced to remain
institutionalized against their will.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its companion
legislation, the Reconciliation Act of 2010, together include several
items related to home and community based services. For example, starting
in October of 2011, the CFC Option will give states the choice of
providing home and community based services to Medicaid recipients instead
of simply forcing them into nursing homes. The federal Money Follows the
Person program will be extended until 2016. Provisions of the CLASS Act
are also included in the new legislation. States will have increased
federal funding matching incentives to fund community services. Yet while
passage of this legislation is a social landmark, much remains to be done.
ADAPT recognizes that ensuring community choice for all will require a
variety of efforts, from both the grassroots and the government. ADAPT's
Defending Our Freedom (DOF) Campaign seeks accountability for enforcing
Olmstead from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of
Civil Rights. DOF demands that the Obama administration aggressively
support legislation and pursue litigation that ensures Olmstead
enforcement across the country. Finally, DOF calls on grassroots people
with disabilities to document their struggles to secure home and community
ADAPT re-commits to fighting together with allies such as Senator Tom
Harkin of Iowa and other members of Congress towards the vision of
meaningful community integration for people with disabilities and seniors
across America. For more information, see http://www.adapt.org and
# # #
FOR MORE INFORMATION on ADAPT visit our website at http://www.adapt.org /
I received this in my in-box a few days back, and couldn't think of a more appropriate place to share this. It's a long but touching letter about how Senator Kennedy touched and possibly saved one life. It brings back memories of the good fight the Senator waged against Contra funding, the frustration and despair of those times of Reagan and Republicans in the ascendancy, and all the damage that was done then, and all the healing that has to continue today and beyond.
Best wishes to all,
The letter is as follows:
Back in the eighties I led a number of delegations to Central America. Usually they were for US church groups. some were for a human rights organization.
We always went to El Salvador and Nicaragua and a third country, which would change from year to year. This was during the days when the Reagan Administration was supporting the rebels against the government in Nicaragua and the government against the rebels in El Salvador. Our delegations would talk to human rights organizations, faith groups, government officials, displaced people, etc. and give people in the US a sense of what was really going on down there because the media seemed so baffling about it all.
On one of my early trips a social worker from Ponca City, Oklahoma, recommended that I write Ted Kennedy's office and ask him if he would send along a letter of safe passage, just in case we got in a difficult--that is, dangerous--situation. I hadn't thought about that, but I did write to him and weeks later I got a personal letter from the Senator saying "to whom it may concern" that Stan Duncan was a big deal and was traveling under his guidance and that I should be taken care of and treated with respect in any situation that might come up. It was great.
Every year after that, just before my trip I would write him again and every year dutifully he would compose the same letter. I never met him and he never met me, but we had a funny relationship. I was his pet project, the guy he would write the annual letter for and he always asked how I was doing and how the trips went. I'd always write back saying the trip was fine and all was well, but never much more than that. He was, after all, Senator Edward Moore Kennedy from Massachusetts, and I was just some guy from Oklahoma who was freelancing trying to save the world without getting killed while doing it.
I didn't need his letters all that often, but every now and then it felt good to have one with me just in case. I would take it out and show to a guard or official when they were getting a little testy or suspicious about our intentions. We were there as a church group, and that should have been safe, but every now and then we traveled into an area that we weren't totally certain about. It was important to me to do that to help North Americans get behind the scenes and look at what was really happening, because our tax dollars were paying for much of the carnage across the region. And the governments of many of those countries, especially El Salvador and Guatemala were not fond of our doing that at all.
There was one time, however--it was March, 1988. I was up in the Suchitoto region of northern El Salvador. Which was the center of the rebellion and all gringos, doctors, teachers, development workers and human rights representatives were ordered out. I had been living in El Salvador for about six months at that time, ostensibly doing research on economic development projects, but also still doing human rights documentation, this time with journalists from Australia, Britain, and Scotland. We were interviewing refugees from the villages that had been the scenes of bloody massacres by the Salvadoran military. We got into the region by bus, pickup, foot, and on one occasion hiding under bags of grain on a supply boat going up a river. We were able to get some good interviews, notes, and pictures, and I was very pleased about that, but on the way back government troops stopped our bus and took us in. They confiscated all of our bags (which included all of our documentation) and destroyed everything (including a Bible that had been given to me by my aunt when I graduated from high school). And they kept all of us in jail for three days. I don't know about the others--we were kept in different quarters--but I was terrified. The military guards working with me did not treat me badly, but they grilled me day after day about why I was there and what I was doing and who I worked for. I couldn't just say that I was there documenting their own human rights abuses, so I continued my line about doing economic development research.
That wasn't totally untrue. There were a number of re-population villages in the area that I had in fact been looking at--those were villages made up of people who had fled into Honduras from the fighting in El Salvador and were now coming back and "re-populating" new villages. They were a form of economic development model and I claimed I was there to study them. But they didn't quite believe it (and with good reason).
Finally after my third day there someone came to see me who could speak English. I think he had just arrived at the compound because I had not seen him before. He asked me all of the same questions all over again with an increasingly impatient, angry, ominous tone. This time, since he probably could read, I hauled out Teddy Kennedy's letter. He looked at it silently for a long time (I remember wondering if he was having trouble with some of the words). Then when he got to the end he grew even more angry. He tore it in half and threw it to the ground saying that this was nothing, it means nothing, it was irrelevant to their questing, and they still needed to know the truth about why I was there or I would never go home.
He turned and walked out of the room and left me alone. I picked up the pieces of the letter, folded them up, put them back into my back pack, and started to sit down, but before I could do that the door came open again and the guards that I had been interrogated by for the last two days came in and escorted me out of the compound and, without saying a word, pushed me into the street. I was free. Moments later, while I was still standing there trying to understand what had happened, my friends were pushed out the same door and there we all were.
We were exhilarated about being out and alive and through the ordeal. We jumped up and down screaming and laughing and decided to celebrate by going to a local bar and having a beer.
But unfortunately I never thought much about the letter after that. I've told this story a number of times to all of my friends, but one person I never told it to was Ted Kennedy. I have never written him to thank him for saving our lives.
It's true that he may not have. It's possible that we would eventually have been set free, after all back in those days the worst thing that the Salvadoran government wanted to be known for was killing off a citizen of the country that was giving it one million dollars a day in aid.
On the other hand, you never know. Our situation looked pretty grim for a while and who knows how many days would have gone by? Each day the guards were growing angrier and angrier at us and at our stone wall of silence about why we were there and what we were really up to.
There's a real chance that none of us would have made it home alive had it not been for that yearly letter that Kennedy sent with me, saying (incredulously) that I was an important somebody and that I was to be taken care of and treated with respect, with the implied threat that if I was not, then there would have hell to pay from the Kennedy office.
I never thanked him. I never saw him. I never called up or wrote or dropped by, and never told him that I might not be alive today had it not been for his help. After that trip I came back to the United State and moved to Boston and became a student again at Harvard. I started a new life and a new career and never remembered to express the gratitude I owed him for his help. And now I can't.
Except that in an improbable, unlikely, and slightly impossible way, it is just slightly possible that the big ball of life and fire and laughter and compassion and humor and drive and strength that he was for so many years might still be with us in another way and in another realm. Who knows? And if that is so, and if he is perhaps mysteriously or spiritually or cosmically listening in, then perhaps it is time to finally say thanks.
I never did that when you were alive, Teddy. I never thought about it until you were no longer alive. But the truth is, I may well be one of the hundreds of thousands of people across the country and the world whom you helped over the years in simple and easy, and sometimes heavy and profound ways. I wish I had said it earlier, but at least I'm saying it now. I might not be able to be here writing this had it not been for you.
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