and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
May #3

Cats, dogs, candidates:  Can't we all just get along?
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, May 22, 2008

-- Part 1 of 2 parts --

My cat Gilgamesh came home last month with a bloody ear.

Ozzie, the older male tabby who lives on the next street, recently had a wound in his back that got infected and required a visit to the vet.

I hope there is no connection between these two injuries. If there is, I hope my sweet Gilly didn't start the war.

Of course, I also wish that he hadn't brought a pigeon in through the cat door; I'm still picking feathers out of corners. The other night he brought in another mouse. As I tried to help it escape, I caught my finger in the storm door; and as I jumped around screaming in pain, I somehow stepped on the mouse and killed it myself. I'm glad I wasn't barefoot. I was wearing my crocs.

Gil seemed traumatized by the sight of his flat mousie and stayed away from my feet for a while. It seemed a good time to sit down with him and talk about nonaggression and peace.

"Gilly," I said, stroking his golden fur, "there is no reason to fight and kill. Ozzie was visiting our yard before you got here, and there is plenty of room for both of you to play in the sun. Neither of you has a reason to show off for a female cat. Why can't you just get along?

"I open two small cans a day, and there is also the eternal kibble dish; you don't have to eat a bird. You have rubber balls and catnip mice to chase around the house. Why must you attack other critters? Why can't you live and let live?"

Gilgamesh rolled over, purring, to let me rub his tummy. But somehow I suspect the conversation isn't going to change his nature; he is a hunter, a killer, territorial and very big though not as big as the coyote that Chip saw in the yard before dawn. Talking with the wild animal probably wouldn't do any good either; so Gil comes in at night, and just in case, Chip installed a kitty door in the porch. We hope the kitty can run faster than the coyote.

The world is fully of predators, Mr. Obama, and some of them are the animals called human beings. You might change a lot of things if you are elected, but you are not going to change that.

The controversy of the week occurred when President Bush, visiting the Mideast, told the Israeli Knesset that America understands the nature of the enemies of peace, and that appeasement is not on the agenda. When I heard this, I assumed he was talking about Jimmy Carter running around the world talking with anyone who will use him; but many Democrats assumed he meant Barack Obama, and attacked Bush for interfering with the fall election while on foreign soil.

Obama has said that he would talk, without precondition, with the Middle East leaders who are sworn to destroy Israel. I imagine the Knesset needed some reassurances, though it only gets them through 2008. Who knows what the next president will do?

The Bush people insist, accurately, that he has made the same anti-appeasement speech often. And, probably not so accurately, they insist that he wasn't referring to the Democratic candidate this time.

But why shouldn't he try to influence American's fall election anywhere he wants? Democratic leaders often criticize him and American foreign policy when they are on foreign soil.

I recall being asked in 1992, at an International Taxpayers meeting in Australia, if Americans ever consider that they are electing not just their leader, but the leader of the free world. I assured my foreign friends that we do not; that in fact most Americans pay very little attention to the rest of the world. In '92 we picked the cute and charming guy from a little town called Hope over the incumbent with foreign policy experience; this year we are voting feel-good "black is beautiful" and "hope" again.

This self-absorbed innocence is actually one of the things that has made America great. Our founding fathers warned against involvement in foreign wars, and for most of our history, geography made this possible; we focused on our Constitution, the opportunities of capitalism, and our generally positive spirit. An argument can be made that we shouldn't have entered World War I, and if we hadn't, it might not have been followed by the rise of Hitler in Germany.

However, wise leaders face the reality of their present time, and once Hitler rose, America responded. Talking with Hitler, and Chamberlain's effort to appease him, didn't help. Japan attacked us without preamble.

The destruction of those enemies saved us. We went to war, not as animals do, for food and territory; or as evil men do, for power and psychopathic need; but in self-defense through alliance with the non-appeasing Churchill.

This weekend we remember the veterans of World War II who kept us and Western Europe free. And we will pledge, I hope, to make that continuing freedom our priority as we choose our next president.

-- Go to Part 2 --

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.