Monday, December 25, 2006

Two Climates of Fear: In Jeff Jacoby's 12/24 editorial in the Boston Globe entitled "Climate of Fear" he berates the scientists for creating a "climate of fear." He says "there is always a market for apocalyptic foreboding." I think he is right if it's not one fear it's another. Both George W. Bush and he are so fond of telling us whom and what to fear as well. The only thing the Republican party wants to promote to maintain their power is fear.

The remedy for the global warming fear and the terrorism fear is ending mankind's dependence on oil. Getting us off oil and developing other fuels such as corn, sugar, wind, solar and the like would serve to extricate us from the quicksand of Middle East oil. Let's finally do something about a fear he and the Bush minions hype so often. Let's get rid of our dependence on oil. It just may cure global warming which I think exists and at the same time it just may erase our dependence on the Middle East thereby reducing that other fear ... terrorism. In that way we could cure two fears with one stone and save lives at the same time.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Response to Jeff Jacoby's Globe Editorial 12/20/06
Iran's promise

Jeff, on Iran and Israel we completely agree. This issue is where I part with the academic left and agree with you. If Iran and others say it will completely obliterate the Jewish state by nuclear weapons if necessary, the Jewish people have had too much experience with genocidal anti-Semitism not to take all of them at their word. There is no question about it you are completely correct.

However, where I think I part with you, is that I think American foreign policy since WWII has been nothing short of abysmal. The greatest victory in WWII was that it unequivocally showed US strength. Now since even Korea, certainly Vietnam and the worst debacle of all Iraq II because of its humongous regional consequences, the US has showed what the Middle East bloodhounds sniff and that is weakness. We are perceived as a weak country with the most moronic leadership by even our allies. That is, I believe, our nation's greatest threat and the greatest threat indeed to western civilization itself. No one ever gained anything through weakness. Nations gain prestige through strength.

How we arrive at a position of strength is the golden key. I believe we do not, as things exist today, arrive at strength through bombs. It is a new kind of world. A new policy for a new world order needs to be hewed. This requires the utmost brilliance and in depth understanding of international diplomacy and leadership. It is so very clear we do not have that in Washington today. I don't care if it is Republican or Democrat or the Martian party in power I am salivating for intellectual excellence especially in our executive branch. So far it is not to be found and our nation and world are at risk.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Exception to American Exceptionalism--A response to Howard Zinn:

Dear Prof. Zinn: I read your article “American Exceptionalism” you emailed to me. I do not dispute one fact in that. Of course you are right there have been centuries of brutal behavior by the American government as well as by the western Europeans.

I think what galls you, and me too, as I began to question US Foreign policy, is as you say "The idea that America is different because its military actions are for the benefit of others." It is the fact that we are given American history pablum almost since birth which is supposed to pass off as ultimate truth and upon which our policy both national and international is hewed. It has been responsible over centuries for the death of thousands. There is no question of that.

The problem is I do not possess the reality of what things would have been like IF US foreign policy had been different OR not at all that is even if the west had not colonized the Americas. What would it have been like if people simply left other people alone? What if the western European settlers came peaceably to trade or to live without denying those rights including the right to life to those who were here first? What would have happened if no slave ships arrived?

I think THAT is the apex of the continuing dilemma and conundrum I have had throughout the years. What would it have been like if things historical that were so were not? Would the Indians have lived peaceably, never attacking other tribes or maybe have advanced their culture so that the creature comforts we enjoy now they would have enjoyed as well? Would blacks have remained solely in Africa? How would things have been different?

This sounds perhaps ridiculous because we obviously can never know but I wonder often what things would have been like had the west not imprinted its culture on all those “innocent masses.” Would they have remained innocent? Would they have been benign? Would the world have looked all together different from what it does today if the US and the European west had not placed its hegemonic and cultural stamp on nations? Would Islam have reared its fundamentalist head? Would it have been so bestially violent? Of course, a subject near and dear to my heart: What would have happened to the Jews?

I think those questions are far from being ridiculous. That is why I cannot make a final judgment or assessment of US policy. I do not know what would have happened had the US not happened or if things had been different.

I have suspicions, of course, as I think I have stated in other emails. I believe in the dinosaurs. Watching the Science Channel devoted to the Jurassic and Triassic period looking at what dinosaurs were like gives me a fundamental truth. My partner sums it up by saying: “The dinosaurs stink.” I think that is true they did stink. They were eating and killing machines. I believe, though, they were more than that. I believe they show us a window into the human condition. I think our species is not all that far removed. Salt and pepper in a few million years of evolutionary development so that humans emerge and develop some ethical systems but, generally speaking, I think we still possess a reptilian core.

The program Sleeper Cell on Cable Showtime is riveting. It is about, as you may know, a terrorist cell within the US and the FBI’s never-ending attempt to foil its plots. It is violent indeed but it shows exactly what both sides Islamic and western alike are capable of doing. The brutality of both sides is horrendous. Both sides are two dinosaurs fighting in the same way for the same thing couched in lofty cerebral rationales. They fight brutally, maim, torture and kill each other for the shear acquisition and maintenance of dominance and power. I cannot see much difference between the brutality of yesteryear and the brutality today. The players are different but the reality of what we are in our core is the same.

Even IF all Americans saw the brutality of what our foreign policy has been would they want it to be different? I suspect not. Everyone wants to be on top and everyone is afraid to die. We simply want the other guy to die first. It is truly a tough world indeed. However, when I sleep at night the last thing I think about is I, a Jew, still feel fortunate that blind luck has determined that I live here and not in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, the Sudan, North Korea or Cuba. At least so far I have won the right to life lottery and have the ability to write my thoughts down in this format without fear of a knock at the door. I’ll put my money still on the US with all its faults and hope that the Age of US cultural hegemony will not go the way of the dinosaur but that Darwinian survival prevails.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My Ire Against Iran: Yesterday, the major news networks carried the story of Iran hosting a conference to determine the veracity of the Holocaust. I tried to keep my blood pressure down so I would not have a stroke. This story infuriated me beyond any verbal description. Iran's Ahmadinejad is holding that so-called conference, of course, because he wants to eliminate any rationale for the creation the Jewish State of Israel after the devastation of the Holocaust by validating his denial of it. Invited to this "illustrious" event in Iran was David Duke former KKK member and extreme right wing politico as were several ultra orthodox Jewish rabbis. Ahmadinejad probably let the rabbis attend because he wanted the news media to see how "fair" and balanced he is. Why the Hassidic rabbis chose to attend is beyond the outer limits of my imagination.

I cannot think of one -- not one -- event in human history that was as singularly catastrophic to the Jewish people and to the world as the Holocaust. The evidence for it is more than overwhelming. It has shaped every fiber of my being, every political view I hold and all that I am. I never go a day without thinking of it. There is no single event, in my opinion, which compares to it and the survival of the Jewish people despite it is, as far as I am concerned, the holiest of events. For anyone to desecrate it is more infuriating to me than I have words to describe. I am sure Ahmadinejad would love to hear that I am so angry thus I am trying to quiet my fury so as not to give him that satisfaction. I take a deep breath and know that one cannot deny truth when it is written in black and white for the entire world to see. If some do deny it, however, I am hoping that rational thought will prevail and few will believe what Ahmadinejad has to say about it and everyone will understand him to be crackpot he really is.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

ISG: Truth Between the Lines: Iraq is lost. If George Bush does not follow the ISG points which were excellently conceived and more than fair, he and his minions who lied about FACT in order to invade a country who did not invade us, should be impeached, convicted and tried for treason. If he does not change his "stay the course" insanity, Congress needs to cut off funds, gather our troops and workers as safely as possible, declare victory and leave. The presidency of George Bush is a disgrace, Iraq is insolvable and the best I hope for is that regional Middle East violence in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt or God forbid Saudi Arabia does not break out because our weakness is obvious. It is unimaginable that Vietnam could be repeated another time. OUR FORGEIN POLICY AFTER WWII NEEDS TO BE REASSESSED. The US has gone to war constantly, consistently over decades. There is NO truth that we want to make the world safe for democracy. Rubbish. We do things for our perceived national interest power, money and influence. That is what all states do. We dupe our electorate by telling them OUR wars are good wars. War is NEVER good but it is, admittedly, sometimes necessary. Because war is so brutal as well as phenomenally expensive, presidents of this country should NEVER be able to take this nation to war without declaring it as the Constitution requires and ALL of Congress BEFORE war is declared should legally have access to every single document available that offers proof that war is necessary. This is a tragic time for our country. I only hope it is not a fatal time for us all.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Gate to Paradise? Why is any nomination George Bush offers up is suspect by me? Why was I not fawning over Robert Gates for Secretary of Defense? Anyone, as Maureen Dowd, says including an axe murderer, would have looked good next to incompetent Rumsfeld. Still, I am not at first THAT impressed. I think his nomination like the Iraq Study Group is smoke and mirrors to make "W" LOOK as if he is doing something but in reality he will not. What about Iran Contra? No one asked Gates about that illegality he was a part of? What's so great about him that the Dems fawned and fell over backward for him? He is white bread vanilla ... just the type the Bush crowed salivates over and tries to protect their fortune with. It's back to 1950's future. Maybe the guy is smart and maybe he does have a resume -- well a Republican one. He's from Texas A&M? Doesn't that school have something to do with agriculture? Are they known for their foreign policy expertise? Why not pick someone with experience from Harvard, Yale or Princeton ... or BU? You know Yale, our cerebrally challenged president's alma mater. I'll bet that fact inflates Yale's admission applications. I digress. This is a cynical entry. I can't help it. The decision to invade Iraq was so utterly lied about and so wrong and so stupid and SO lost now I do not see how even God himself could extricate that mad crowd in Iraq which we put there. Malaki I believe will fall. Then what? TOTAL and I mean TOTAL civil war will ensue. Why prolong this misery? Declare victory and leave. Can't we say instead of creating democracy that we just wanted to topple Saddam? Well, we did that, so let's leave before 3,000 more troops have to pay with their lives. I can take defeat. I have many times. Like Bush's father, I am not afraid to cry especially if the rationale for crying would save lives.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Political Processes and Impeachment
I signed a petition to return to paper ballots which will ensure, I think, a fairer election and reduce the possibility of computer fraud. I will attach below a link to the site if you are interested. In my opinion, we need to prevent the Republican and other cheats from stealing elections again. Paper ballots would be one way to ensure they do not steal another as they did in 2000, 2004 and even some in 2006!

Thankfully, Democrats prevailed this time but we can NEVER give up, and must always be vigilant because these Republicans generally do not care about morality (except in our bedrooms) and will do ANYTHING to win. 2008 is a critical election yet again especially if a Bush clone such as Romney, God forbid Jeb Bush or anyone else tied to the coattails of the religious right, runs in some capacity. Even a vice-presidency made up of candidates such as they who will renew the Evangelical religious threat, its reemergence and assumption of power ensuring decades more of religious rule. The influence of this hostile takeover and threat to our fundamental structure in the separation clause of our Constitution must not be allowed to happen again. It has had disastrous consequences from Iraq and US foreign policy to global warming, privacy rights, a belief in science not superstition, stem cell research and many other things crucial to the survival of humanity.

I believe, too, in intense subpoenaed-under-oath-hearings in January, 2007 as to why Bush took us to war. Bush and his corrupt minions need to be held accountable for their murderous policies and above all lies. He should, in my opinion, if these investigations show (which I believe they will) he lied us into war, be impeached. In my opinion, too, he and his cohorts should be convicted, removed from office and prosecuted for manslaughter and crimes against humanity.
He has, I believe, been responsible for the murder of 3000 of our soldiers and the horrific life-long wounding of others because of his lies. He is responsible for COUNTLESS other deaths and injuries as well. He cannot talk about murders in Iraq when he lied his way into a war and committed his own murders which actually PUT more terrorists in Iraq who were not there before the invasion. He shattered a country and all the king's horses had no plan to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Al Quaeda is now in Iraq because HE put them there.

He is a liar, he is cruel, he is a coward who evaded the draft and he is a moron. He is an embarrassment to this nation for the world's eyes to see and he, above anyone else, should be held accountable under the Articles of Impeachment of the US Constitution. Clinton was impeached for so much less. SURELY Bush should be as well because his lawlessness has been so much more egregious, devastating to our way of life and much more unconstitutional. He has committed acts worse than anything committed by any other president (including Andrew Johnson who was the only other president in US history to face impeachment besides Clinton.) None has ever been convicted but I think Bush, et al should be.

George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney, through their administration's policies have breached US Constitutional Amendment I, Amendment IV, Amendment V, Amendment VI, Amendment VII, and Amendment VIII. What is worse then bringing a country to war under false pretenses, lying to Congress, torturing, unlawfully imprisoning and wiretapping our citizenry? These policies have cost unnecessary death, loss of physical capacities, expenditure of huge sums of monies, and the ruination of a sovereign nation state which had not attacked us and had no weapons of mass destruction. He created Middle East regional discord under false pretenses. The list goes on seemingly without end. He has threatened our way of life because he has opened up a hornets' nest of angry people in a part of the world that is one of the most violent areas on earth.

Send email, letters, faxes to prevail upon your elected representatives that you want national leaders to be held accountable for their policies and misdeeds. Send them so our leaders know they can never again take us to war lightly, preemptively without strong evidence and without a Declaration of War as stipulated in our Constitution. Our Founders gave us the tools. As Ben Franklin said when he was asked what kind of government our Founders gave the world he said: "a republic if you can keep it." I believe he would say the very same thing today.


Friday, December 01, 2006

A political rant: Forgive the rather lose phrasiology but this is a rant. A friend of mine sent me a petition to have paper ballots. I signed the petition! We need to crush those Republican cheats and paper ballots would be one way to ensure they don't steal everything like they did in 2000, 2004 and even some in 2006! Thankfully, we prevailed but we can NEVER give up, always be vigilant bec. they have no morality and will do ANYTHING to win. While I'm revved up, I believe in intense subpoenaed under oath hearings come January. Bush and his corrupt minions need to be held accountable for his murderous policies. He should, absolutely without question be impeached and in my opinion he should be convicted, removed from office and prosecuted for manslaughter. He has been responsible for the murder of 3000 of our soldiers through his lies and murders of COUNTLESS others. He cannot talk about murders in Iraq when he lied his way into a war and committed his own murders and actually PUT more of the murders in Iraq to begin with. If Al Quaeda is there HE put them there. He is a liar, a coward and a moron and he above anyone else should be held accountable under the articles of impeachment of the US Constitution. If they did it to Clinton they SURELY should do it to Bush who has committed the most EGREGIOUS acts much worse than anything any other president (including Andrew Johnson who was the only other one to face impeachment besides Clinton) None has ever been convicted but I think Bush should be. He deserves it. What is worse then brining a country to war under false pretenses?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Supreme immorality: It is truly amazing the train wreck the Bush administration has instituted upon our land. Clearly, our lives, our children's lives and our children's children's lives are at stake with respect to the EPA global warming case the US Supreme Court is hearing. Again, conservative justices appointed by Bush and sanctioned by Congress may subvert this necessary action taken by the states to ensure that the EPA deal with this looming threat. Because the global warming consequences will not happen at 12:00 p.m. tomorrow so called conservatives would rather side with the auto industry. If, however, the auto industry prevails WHAT will conservatives be conserving? The answer is nothing. They will have left their grandchildren a country that is non-existent and a planet that is ultimately doomed!

This following quote is from Alan Dershowitz. He responded to President Carter's new book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid." One may not like all Alan Dershowitz has to say but I think no one can argue his brilliance. I quote him because, in my opinion, he is the best most factually accurate debater FOR the State of Israel. There are too many, especially on the left, in my view, who do not see the plus side of the State of Israel. Why this is so staggers me as Israel is the only semblance of democracy in that ridiculously violent part of the world. They often never see its side of the quotient. Of course, there are times any state's policies are suspect and I do not always agree with Israeli policy but on balance I do believe the State of Israel has more pluses than minuses. Alan Dershowitz states the following to which I concur:

"I like Jimmy Carter. I have known him since he began his run for president in early 1976. I worked hard for his election, and I have admired the work of the Carter Center throughout the world. That's why it troubles me so much that this decent man has written such an indecent book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

His bias against Israel shows by his selection of the book's title: "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid." The suggestion that without peace Israel is an apartheid state analogous to South Africa is simply wrong. The basic evil of South African apartheid, against which I and so many other Jews fought, was the absolute control over a majority of blacks by a small minority of whites. It was the opposite of democracy. In Israel majority rules; it is a vibrant secular democracy, which just today recognized gay marriages performed abroad. Arabs serve in the Knesset, on the Supreme Court and get to vote for their representatives, many of whom strongly oppose Israeli policies. Israel has repeatedly offered to end its occupation of areas it captured in a defensive war in exchange for peace and full recognition. The reality is that other Arab and Muslim nations do in fact practice apartheid. In Jordan, no Jew can be a citizen or own land. The same is true in Saudi Arabia, which has separate roads for Muslims and non-Muslims. Even in the Palestinian authority, the increasing influence of Hamas threatens to create Islamic hegemony over non-Muslims. Arab Christians are leaving in droves.

Why then would Jimmy Carter invoke the concept of apartheid in his attack on Israel? Even he acknowledges--though he buries this toward the end of his book--that what is going on in Israel today "is unlike that in South Africa--not racism, but the acquisition of land." But Israel's motive for holding on to this land is the prevention of terrorism. It has repeatedly offered to exchange land for peace and did so in Gaza and southern Lebanon only to have the returned land used for terrorism, kidnappings and rocket launchings.

I don't know why Jimmy Carter, who is generally a careful man, allowed so many errors and omissions to blemish his book. Here are simply a few of the most egregious.

• Carter emphasizes that "Christian and Muslim Arabs had continued to live in this same land since Roman times," but he ignores the fact that Jews have lived in Hebron, Tzfat, Jerusalem, and other cities for even longer. Nor does he discuss the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries since 1948.

• Carter repeatedly claims that the Palestinians have long supported a two-state solution and the Israelis have always opposed it. Yet he makes no mention of the fact that in 1938 the Peel Commission proposed a two-state solution with Israel receiving a mere sliver of its ancient homeland and the Palestinians receiving the bulk of the land. The Jews accepted and the Palestinians rejected this proposal, because Arab leaders cared more about there being no Jewish state on Muslim holy land than about having a Palestinian state of their own.

• He barely mentions Israel's acceptance, and the Palestinian rejection, of the U.N.'s division of the mandate in 1948.

• He claims that in 1967 Israel launched a preemptive attack against Jordan. The fact is that Jordan attacked Israel first, Israel tried desperately to persuade Jordan to remain out of the war, and Israel counterattacked after the Jordanian army surrounded Jerusalem, firing missiles into the center of the city. Only then did Israel capture the West Bank, which it was willing to return in exchange for peace and recognition from Jordan.

• Carter repeatedly mentions Security Council Resolution 242, which called for return of captured territories in exchange for peace, recognition and secure boundaries, but he ignores the fact that Israel accepted and all the Arab nations and the Palestinians rejected this resolution. The Arabs met in Khartum and issued their three famous "no's": "No peace, no recognition, no negotiation" but you wouldn't know that from reading the history according to Carter.

• Carter faults Israel for its "air strike that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor" without mentioning that Iraq had threatened to attack Israel with nuclear weapons if they succeeded in building a bomb.

• Carter faults Israel for its administration of Christian and Muslim religious sites, when in fact Israel is scrupulous about ensuring every religion the right to worship as they please--consistant, of course, with security needs. He fails to mention that between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Hashemites destroyed and desecrated Jewish religious sites and prevented Jews from praying at the Western Wall. He also never mentions Egypt's brutal occupation of Gaza between 1949 and 1967.

• Carter blames Israel, and exonerates Arafat, for the Palestinian refusal to accept statehood on 95% of the West Bank and all of Gaza pursuant to the Clinton-Barak offers of Camp David and Taba in 2000-2001. He accepts the Palestinian revisionist history, rejects the eye-witness accounts of President Clinton and Dennis Ross and ignores Saudi Prince Bandar's accusation that Arafat's rejection of the proposal was "a crime" and that Arafat's account "was not truthful"--except, apparently, to Carter. The fact that Carter chooses to believe Yasir Arafat over Bill Clinton speaks volumes.

• Carter's description of the recent Lebanon war is misleading. He begins by asserting that Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. "Captured" suggest a military apprehension subject to the usual prisoner of war status. The soldiers were kidnapped, and have not been heard from--not even a sign of life. The rocket attacks that preceded Israel's invasion are largely ignored, as is the fact that Hezbollah fired its rockets from civilian population centers.

• Carter gives virtually no credit to Israel's superb legal system, falsely asserting (without any citation) that "confessions extracted through torture are admissible in Israeli courts," that prisoners are "executed" and that the "accusers" act "as judges." Even Israel's most severe critics acknowledge the fairness of the Israeli Supreme Court, but not Carter.

• Carter even blames Israel for the "exodus of Christians from the Holy Land," totally ignoring the Islamization of the area by Hamas and the comparable exodus of Christian Arabs from Lebanon as a result of the increasing influence of Hezbollah and the repeated assassination of Christian leaders by Syria.

• Carter also blames every American administration but his own for the Mideast stalemate with particular emphasis on "a submissive White House and U.S. Congress in recent years." He employs hyperbole and overstatement when he says that "dialogue on controversial issues is a privilege to be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and withheld from those who reject U.S. demands." He confuses terrorist states, such as Iran and Syria to which we do not extend dialogue, with states with whom we strongly disagree, such as France and China, with whom we have constant dialogue.

I hope President Carter will seriously consider addressing these omissions and mistakes. He begins his book tour soon and he will have an opportunity to correct the record."

In Defense of Dickens: I love English literature and am a member of a Dickens reading group. There has been occasionally criticism of the great master because of his lack of sensitivity to women and because of his his well known marital infidelity. I had some opinions on those issues:

Should we really condemn Dickens because of his infidelity and less-than-sensitive feelings toward the plight of women? Women in the US obtained the vote less than one hundred years ago -- a mere grain in the sands of time. Women, as we know, still have discrimination issues. Dickens was, I think, a product of his culture. The major phenomenon of his time was, in my view, the industrial age and the woes it brings to labor, children and the abysmal conditions of the lower social classes and labor. It was not women's rights as just as that cause may be. After all, Karl Marx published his famous work in 1848 the Communist Manifesto, an indictment of the economic system, the means of production and the ills it created.

As for infidelity, since the dawn of history that has been such a common occurrence especially by men and especially by them once they find a younger more reproductively attractive model. The evolutionary urge, of course, we know, is to pollinate as many as the male can. I have often thought we hand wring as a society about a biological urge which, to a large degree, is difficult if not impossible to control. Marital vows, while serving a distinct societal purpose protecting especially children and to some degree women too, in my opinion, has been historically so difficult to maintain because our biology overrules societal, religious and cultural dictates. Religion constantly imposes, in my view, unreasonable dictums. One's religiously and culturally inspired brake is saying no when one's biological imperative is saying yes. I think biology is the winner much if not most of the time. I'm giving Dickens a pass on his frailties and shortcomings. Just my opinion.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Slow Dance: This was sent by a friend of mine. I thought it worthy to post it on my blog and also post its response by me as well.

> Have you ever watched kids
> On a merry-go-round?
> Or listened to the rain
> Slapping on the ground?
> Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
> Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
> You better slow down.
> Don't dance so fast.
> Time is short.
> The music won't last.
> Do you run through each day
> On the fly?
> When you ask How are you?
> Do you hear the reply?
> When the day is done
> Do you lie in your bed
> With the next hundred chores
> Running through your head?
> You'd better slow down
> Don't dance so fast.
> Time is short.
> The music won't last.
> Ever told your child,
> We'll do it tomorrow?
> And in your haste,
> Not see his sorrow?
> Ever lost touch,
> Let a good friendship die
> Cause you never had time
> To call and say,"Hi"
> You'd better slow down.
> Don't dance so fast.
> Time is short.
> The music won't last.
> When you run so fast to get somewhere
> You miss half the fun of getting there.
> When you worry and hurry through your day,
> It is like an unopened gift....Thrown away.
> Life is not a race
> Do take it slower
> Hear the music
> Before the song is over.

Those are excellent thoughts. It would be so nice if we would do just that. Slow down and listen to the music. Thinking man was given, I believe, by some mystical roll of the dice, a chance ... a short chance ... to see and appreciate it all. Although animals, plants, insects etc. make the world live, probably no other animal except man possesses the capacity to absorb the wonder. The hectic, harried pace of our culture coupled with the technological disneyland and faceless CEO's that make things economically run (literally) make me feel I am in a cacophonous ice machine bolting a million miles an hour to nowhere for nothing except to make the faceless generally uncaring rich even richer. Although our world is certainly more comfortable (FOR SOME) and allows us to live and live and live and live growing old way beyond our natural DNA dictates, our fast-paced speed-of-light culture produces, I think, an anomie which freezes us and makes us miss the beauty that is all around, given by some force only to us.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Middle East Mess: What a mess the Middle East is! How did it come to this? I really do not know what to say about the Middle East anymore. It leaves me speechless and that is unique. What does one do when hopelessness ensues? From Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and Lebanon to Indonesia and Israel it is a dizzying array of issues and brutality. I could go on and on about the insanity of fundamentalist beliefs no matter which sphere those beliefs come from. True as I believe my words are, I’ve said that so often, I can’t say that anymore. People want their Gods and there is no arguing with that in the east, in the west, in the Middle East and everywhere in between no matter how irrational beliefs are.

It would seem to me that a fundamental law of nature would be survival and that laws are instituted among people to ensure that a society does not fall apart so chaos will not reign and they will survive. Everyone’s view of what society should be like differs but I would think the depth and the scope of a constant never-ending cruelty, brutality, death and lawlessness would take a back seat to one’s desire for compromise and the calm it brings. I would think that that would be a law of nature for human beings so the next generation could go on. There is no calm in the Middle East there is only a constant bestial violence and the destruction and death it brings nearly everywhere.

I do not know how people would want to face each sunrise, get up and try to live their lives every day. The risk of having your body torn to shreds is too great. I do not know what would be the use in living. Iraq is beyond bad. It is horrific. George Bush took a bat and smashed a beehive. Now the bees are frantic and we cannot get them back into the hive and worse there was never any plan to do so. Worse still, those bees are going to other hives and stinging everything in sight. Sadam Hussein, for all his inhumanity, kept that beehive in check. It is slowly becoming worse than even the violence Hussein visited upon his own people.

Who knew? Certainly George Bush did not know. George Bush has now shown to our enemies the limits of the power of the west and Europe has shown they will do very little to help. He has shown our enemies we are truly alone. George Bush wanted a unilateral war and he got it. Now, the bees in that beehive will never leave us alone. Heck of a job “W.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Kramer Considered: What a horrific diatribe Michael Richards spewed during his comedy routine because he was heckled. I cannot understand why someone would say something so filled with racist vitriol using the most profane racist language available potentially sacrificing his own occupational survival for a few seconds of anger relief.

I think this topic is worthy of discussion on different levels.

Anger is a powerful emotion. The other day I went to a fast food type restaurant. I asked for a cup of coffee and was directed to the coffee urn at side of the restaurant to get it. There were four urns and one was missing. It was the one I wanted. Initially, I got angry because the place was packed with people, I am disabled and I felt powerless. I thought the problem would not be rectified in quick order. I was very tired and very hungry. I stood there feeling that no one cared. My friend was waiting for me at the other end. I wanted to eat my dinner with someone and not alone.

I went over and spoke with a person behind the counter at the register whom I thought was so inundated with people that my problem would be cast aside. She assured me someone would come out to fill the urn. No one did. I stood there for about twenty minutes, went back numerous times to no avail.

Finally, someone delivered coffee. When I poured it into my cup it contained hundreds of coffee grounds. I had to throw out three cups because there were so many grounds floating it in. Worse, it was the wrong type of coffee. They put the wrong sign on it and, of course, the person who replaced the urn disappeared. I became angrier and angrier. When another urn was put down, I poured that but when I put milk in it, the milk container was empty. I became infuriated and slammed the milk container down on the counter. That was my violent act of protest in addition to the fact that I did not even thank, as is my custom, the person who finally delivered another urn and filled the milk container. What was at the heart of my anger?

The etiology of anger: I felt no one cared. I felt like a grain of sand in our global economy where I was a small microchip in a huge technological giant. I was not even part of that giant. I do not make the kind of money the corporate executives make, often, I think, at my expense. I spend money that is precious to me rather than make it and, ultimately, as I perceive it, give it to executives who do not need it. I feel angry, jealous and sad at my plight. Those can be explosive feelings.

I got back to my table finally, rather exhausted but also remorseful that I had slammed the milk container down and that I had not thanked the service person who probably is making minimum wage or less. I ate my dinner dejected and guilty. I did something usually alien to my nature.

Anger and racism: The feeling of powerlessness, inferiority and alienation or anomie translates into rage. Perhaps Mr. Richards is not violent but his words certainly were. Those were the most violent words short of BEING violent I have heard.

The racists in the south and elsewhere in this country, I submit, felt or feel powerless. They feel events swirling out of their control and their hegemony threatened. Historically, certainly, if they could not feel superior to certain men then who could they feel superior to?

Perhaps, since playing Kramer on Seinfeld, Mr. Richards has lost his notoriety and was relegated to a comedy club he felt beneath his stature. Black men were ridiculing him, Kramer, the object of the envy of yesteryear was now begging for laughs today – and, perhaps, not getting them. Worse he was heckled. Richards must have felt very demeaned, very powerless and VERY angry. The kind of speech he used comes from somewhere deep and goes beyond – way beyond – a few hecklers. It reaches into the depth of a person who feels SO bad about his life and his fate, his weapon of choice is his words used like swords to cut human flesh to ribbons and triumph over his perceived adversity. It often never works. Like my anger at the fast food restaurant, after the vitriol, one is left with an even greater anger towards oneself.

My experience, of course, was not racist in origin. It is though about anger. It did not rise to the level of the consequences Richards will have to face. He will experience not only the rejection of the comedy club but the loss of, potentially, his career and whatever stature he had left. All that he achieved before was dashed for a moment of emotional release. Richards really hurt no one but himself. Anger really hurts the individual feeling it. All of us need to realize our words have power and our actions carry consequences. I am sure today, Richards realizes just that fact.

The Audience Response: Both the black man and the Jew have suffered historically perceived threats to power by those who had all of it. Both were used by the favored to maintain their power and both were considered somehow threatening. Both endured centuries of psychological attempts to demean, humiliate and dehumanize them. Both groups have persevered and survived the attempts by those who had the power to crush or control those who did not.

It is amazing to me that those in the Richards’ audience did not react violently. It is a tribute to them that they did not. After centuries upon centuries of accumulated suffering, I believe, something is woven into the DNA tapestry of those who have been “the other” to rise up in anger and never let it happen again.

Racist words such as those uttered by Michael Richards or anyone are like weapons which carry with them the reminder of an arduous and difficult journey to the safety and security of simply being left alone. Those weapons carry with them an angry reminder that there are miles yet to go and that we are all still traveling that long difficult seemingly never-ending insecure journey home.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Borat, more than meets the eye: Generally I enjoyed the film Borat. I was glad it was not longer than it was. Once one dramatizes humor about cultural differences one, I think, can take it only so far. At the end I kept saying alright already I get it! Having said that, however, I think the film has something poignant to say which belies the prevailing humor of its content.

Some in the Jewish community, I have read, have refused to see the film because of its explicit and continuous anti-Semitism. Admittedly, some was hard to take. I am Jewish. I am extraordinarily sensitive to the history of anti-Semitism and the Jewish historical plight. It is because of that, I think, those who were offended by that element of the film miss the point of what the film was about. I think Sasha Baron Cohen, who is Jewish, was making a serious contention about cultural relativism. It doesn’t matter where one comes from, hatred and ignorance is what it is no matter how you dress it up … or down.

In part, I believe he was taking aim, too, at those in America who pride themselves as being an advanced western culture. Some in America have things in common with those in a seemingly backward country such as Kazakhstan. However stupid you may think those people are, there are those from an advanced society who will have many of the same attributes.

Eastern Europe, Russia and the west have had virulently anti-Semitic histories. Anti-Semitism, has existed, too, in countries which have not had a long history of it. Anti-Semitism and racism, in general, know no cultural boundaries. It merely takes on a different face. The Jew as “the other” has faced demonization nearly everywhere. Ancient canards about the Jew as the devil still incredibly prevail where people have not even met a Jew and where no Jews or few exist. A documentary film called “The Longest Hatred” about the long history of anti-Semitism once said “you do not need Jews to have anti-Semitism.”

Three positive characters exist in the film. Two were orthodox Jews and one was a black prostitute. This was not accidental. Sasha Cohen tried, I think, to say something to defend those whom the majority still often think – for the most irrational reasons –are the indefensible. People are still just people after all and one can find humanity in people and in places where you think none would exist.

If others who are not Jewish take away from that movie the idea that Borat and the characters he meets are right about their world view, then there is little hope for those of us in this world who would like to extricate ourselves from the sewer of its stupidity and ignorance.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The courts and the legislature: I disagree with the 11/14 editorial in the Boston Globe entitled "Gay marriage and legislative politics." While the examples Scot Lehigh gives such as abortion rights, healthcare and term limits could have and perhaps should have been allowed a vote by the legislature (although, I am not sure about abortion because the Federal Court has spoken) a legislative vote on gay marriage is not the same thing.

Term limits and even healthcare are not civil rights. They can and, perhaps, should be subject to popular debate. Marriage is a civil right. Our judiciary and third branch of government has spoken and ensured that a group of people have those rights no matter what anyone else thinks. That is our system of checks and balances. A court decision should not be up for a vote. The civil right aspect of marriage should, in my opinion, make it prohibitive of anyone to exclude and deprive a particular group of citizens that which is accorded to the rest of the populous. Moreover, the Constitution should be adding civil rights to it and not taking them away.

Even if a court ... a high court... makes a decision, for example, in Plessy v. Fergusson which erroneously, in my opinion, found separate to be in fact equal, that decision can be and was ultimately reversed. It was done through the court itself, albeit one hundred years later but nonetheless the court reversed itself. I am trying to be consistent when I say if the court decided against it then at some future date when the culture has progressed out of the Middle Ages that court might reverse THAT decision.

Brown v. the Board of Ed of Topeka did just that. Plessy I believe was reflective of that society and that culture at THAT time in our history. The Brown decision, one hundred years later, was met with anger and threats of impeachment of Chief Justice Earl Warren and others in the Warren court. The decision though stood despite great opposition of the populous particularly in the south but even elsewhere.

Once a decision is reached by the court it should be kept. If a petitioner desires that case to be reviewed, cases can still be brought before the court and the court ultimately may reverse itself. It did so in Bowers v. Harwick which held homosexuality was not protected under privacy rights but in Lawrence v. Texas nearly ten years later overturned that decision.

I do not like people putting those court decisions they do not agree with up for a vote simply because they do not like what the court said. If that happens why the have a court in the first place? The federal decision of 1803 Marbury v. Madison, in my opinion, established the right of judicial review. The founders established the courts as the third branch of our government for a reason. They did not often trust the electorate always to do the right and fair thing. I agree with our founders.

Our system, in my opinion, has been corrupted by religious belief. Our founders were men of the Enlightenment and possessed a questioning mind with regard to religion. Many were NOT Christians, some were deists and some as evidenced in certain of Jefferson's writings and Hamilton's Federalist Papers were downright skeptics and maybe, dare I say, atheists.

We have as a country, I believe, sold our soul to the devils of religious interposition. I hope some day this dark veil of the superstition of belief will be lifted and nullified by science and fact!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Letter to Lieberman: I listened to you on Meet the Press and I am VERY concerned. I am very concerned because when you were asked if there was the potential for you to move to Republican you said you did not deal in hypotheticals. That worried me. I thought your response should have been a clear “No.” Your response when reading subliminally meant that if Democrats do not kow tow to you, you may, in fact, leave. That to me is a threat and amounts voter and Congressional extortion.

As someone who supported you in your bid for the presidency on the Democratic ticket in 2000, the prospect of your going over to the Republican side is revolting to me. In my opinion, that would betray what you have historically been about. The Republican party has done more damage to our country including lying us into a war which incurred the deaths of thousands. How you could even leave room for the possibility of a switch is enigmatic. I hope and pray that the country is seeing its errors of its ways and that the inhumanity, horrendous corruption and lies of the Republican party will see its ultimate downfall. Republicans are not about humanity. They are about power and they are especially about money – corporate money – which they use to attain that power for them and the top 2% of the population. They are not about the middle and certainly not about the poor. They are about Machievellian politics in its extreme and they do not care how cruel or unethical they perceive they must be to anyone who threatens them. For you, a moral religious man, to be tied to the cesspool of what the Republican party has become would be egregious.

The Middle East, Israel and the entire world has a better chance to forge a possible peace certainly with a Democratic Congress and I hope ultimately with a Democratic president as well. Democrats will not commit the horrific crimes and unethical behaviors including shutting out the opposition party as the Republicans have done. For you to even think for one moment that it would be a possibility that you would switch is beyond my comprehension.

I am a person who originally bought what the Republicans were selling with respect to the war and the neo-conservative agenda. I was wrong. Iraq has been a HORREDOUS mistake which I believe history will judge as the worst foreign policy debacle the US has ever committed with George Bush at the helm. I implore you not to go down with his or the Republican ship because if you do you may take all of us with you into the deep.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Kudos to the Massachusetts Legislature: Bravo to the Massachusetts legislature for refusing to bring gay marriage up for a vote. The highest court of our state has spoken. We have three separate branches of government. The courts are one of those branches. The populous cannot willy-nilly attempt to overrule a court’s decision and vote to establish a constitutional amendment against what they do not like. The Massachusetts Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage is a civil rights decision. It should not be up for a vote. If it were possible, civil rights Supreme Court decisions of the past would have been nullified by constitutional amendments. That is not how this country works. Civil rights should be added to constitutions and not taken away.

The first Federal Supreme Court to establish the right of judicial review was the Marshall court in the case of Marbury v. Madison of 1803. The opinion written by Justice Marshall said: "The very essence of civil liberty certainly consists in the right of every individual to claim the protection of the laws, whenever he receives an injury. One of the first duties of government is to afford that protection. The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men. It will certainly cease to deserve this high appellation, if the laws furnish no remedy for the violation of a vested legal right." Justice Marshall was correct then and that Federal opinion should apply even to the states now.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Election Equation: The 2006 Congressional election was a repudiation of the policies and actions of George W. Bush and the policies and actions of a rubber stamp Republican-controlled Congress. It happened, as I see it, for some principal reasons. They are:

First, the war in Iraq: The public saw the mismanagement, lies, and deceit which took this country to war and which have been responsible for nearly 3000 American deaths, countless Iraqi deaths and has cost, so far, nearly one half trillion dollars inflating the deficit to new Olympian heights. It battered a country and a people who did nothing to us and exacerbated not limited the terrorist threat. The strategy, if one can call it that, was not working. The war from the beginning was mishandled. There was no oversight and there is no END in sight.

Second, the Katrina debacle: It was clear that again, lies, deceit and gross incompetence were responsible for the deaths of thousands in one of the most catastrophic disasters to hit this country in its history. Katrina uncovered the wizard behind the curtain and showed the emperor was not wearing any clothes. One could not hide the complete ineffectiveness and the incompetence of this government’s response to save its own people from the ravages of a storm.

Third, Corruption: The corruption of this Republican Congress and its utter disregard for ethics was another part of the election equation. The so-called party of ethics had none. Indictments on corruption charges were legion. This Congress had no oversight and, indeed, was power run amok. Leaders of Congress have been cast under a veil of suspicion that stretches far and wide including the huge Abramoff K Street lobbying scandal which swept so many Republicans into its black hole, has meant resignations of the Republican’s highest leadership and will include and has included jail time for many.

Fourth the Foley scandal: The extraordinarily anti-homosexual party, dependent on Evangelicals for their power, covered up a smarmy homosexual scandal of Internet sex with underage pages. Those pages, compounding Foley’s egregious behavior, were employees of the federal government. The Republican party leadership did nothing. The hypocrisy of that was overwhelming. Mixed into this brew was the behavior of Reverend Haggard, the head of the Evangelical Association, a 40,000 member ultra-religious organization. Haggard just happened to get his kicks from drugs and a male prostitute. Even though he was not a congressman, his denials rang hollow and his lies were obvious. Haggard got swept into the muck.

Balance of Power: Republicans and Democrats may differ on policy but most agree with the basics of what our Founding Fathers meant to do when they formulated this government in the 18th century. They wanted, in pertinent part, a check on power because they saw the potential corruption of it. This Congressional legislative branch (the first branch mentioned in the Constitution) did not provide that and became a rubber stamp for whatever policy the executive branch wanted, including torture, wiretapping, secret prisons and perhaps most importantly, the suspension of habeus corpus. I think many conservatives saw this as a blatant and radical departure from our country’s most valued principles. In addition, importantly, I think this election was a repudiation of the extremes of both parties. Eleanor Clift, Newsweek columnist and panelist on the McLaughlin Group, today has said politics is about listening to a variety of people with different political opinions and build a consensus. The Republicans have built in the past two decades, almost exclusively, a party of right wing extremists. Democrats tried this time to cross the divide.

Now both NBC and the AP are declaring Webb to be the winner in Virginia giving the Democrats control of both the House and the Senate. Hopefully some light is shining though. I again can love my country now that the fresh air seems to be blowing the wind in a new direction. I see endless possibilities beyond the horizon and perhaps, a new equation will prevail.