Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Live and Become -- a Film Review: I am amazed by the fact that this film did not get more advertising exposure. Perhaps, it is because it surrounds a theme particularly interesting if one is Jewish and even then the plight of the Falasha or black Ethiopian Jews is little known among the general Jewish population. Despite that, there is, I think, much in this film to which everyone can relate. It captured my soul and I was emotionally enmeshed in it. A black Christian Ethiopian young boy in a Sudanese refugee camp, because of the urging of his mother, pretends to be Jewish to get to Israel to escape the horrendous conditions he is in. It surrounds a dire conflict in Sudanwhich took place in the 1980's and the Israeli Operation Moses rescue which air-lifted those Ethiopian Jews caught in the middle of that struggle and brought them to Israel. It could, however, certainly be the Sudan that exists today, Iraq or anywhere the brutality of warfare occurs and the innocents who are swept up, enveloped, brutalized and killed by it. It centers around concepts of racism and man's inhumanity to man. It is also about love -- especially a mother's love for her child, a stranger's love and a love between two people which transcends race.

For those who are Jewish, I think, it is an especially poignant film as it is about what it means to be a Jew, who is Jewish and how that is determined. It reflects the diversity in Israel itself about those core, ever-present and debatable issues which determine Israeli citizenship. It is about the plight of the Falasha or Ethiopian black Jews in Israel who are refugees and allowed entry into Israel solely based on their being Jewish. Sometimes, the larger Jewish populous who consider themselves white have ambivalent and less-than-welcoming feelings about the Falasha. Clearly, worldwide, being a Jew is more than being religious and this work points that out insightfully and with pathos. I have no criticism of the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Scrupulosly Assessing Studds: I understand and agree, in part, with the October 17, 2005 The Boston Globe Op Ed opinion of Mary Breslaure regarding the late former Congressman Gerry Studs. There is no question he contributed much to his district and the State of Massachusetts. I support all gay rights legislative attempts.

Having said that, it still bothers me that a sitting Congressman had sex with a 17 year old page. The difference between former Congressman Foley and the late Congressman Studds was that Foley, in addition to committing unseemly acts with a page, belongs to a party that condemns the very essence of who Foley is thereby relegating the Foley act to the world's hypocritical archives.

The acts themselves, however, I believe, must be separated from the politics of the individual. In my opinion, actions of the late Congressman Studds and the former Congressman Foley give a black eye to a group of people who do not need it or deserve it. For everyone, a sexual liaison in the workplace -- most especially with an underage person --should be out of bounds period. Sexuality is not the issue but it becomes the issue because there are those who would like nothing more than to paint all homosexual people with the same brush.

Persons in positions of power because they are in the public arena whose decisions affect so many others, should scrupulously monitor the consequences of their actions. In my opinion, the late Congressman Gerry Studds, while a fine congressman on the issues, was forever tainted by an act he never should have committed. His censuring served only to reinforce the indictments about a group which was and is trying so hard to secure its rights but whose opposition for years has been trying equally as hard to crush those rights. Gerry Studds's actions had consequences for us all.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Witch Hunting Trip for Kolbe: I believe there ALWAYS is a hidden motivation for ANYTHING the Bush administration does. The fact that page investigations are being done by the Justice Department headed by Alberto Gonzalez, a Bush appointee, to me, is suspect. Having said that, of course, if anything improper was done by Kolbe, retiring congressman from Colorado, on his 1996 trip to the Grand Canyon with pages and an army of other people including his sister, it should be brought to light post haste.

Still, I cannot help but suspect that the Bush administration's goal for the Republican page scandal damage control now is to make sure that enough Republican gay men are witch hunted so that they can conveniently put the blame on the country's new and Republican fueled target -- all gays. I believe they would like to reinvent old suspicions about homosexuals and at least project a commitment to drumming gays out of the Republican party to save their so called "base." Why any gay person would ever even WANT to be in the Republican party is beyond me. Why ANY person -- especially middle class or blue collar person -- would want to be a member of this inept, corrupt, lie enshrined, Republican party is beyond me too!!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Passionate about Gibson: I wholeheartedly agree with Joy Behr of The View when she commented recently about Mel Gibson and his anemic apology for his drunken comments about Jews when he was arrested. I agree with her that Gibson should be drummed out of the industry despite his feeble attempts to extricate himself from his own quicksand. It galls me, too, as indicated by a letter which was written to The View, when Catholics or other Christians compare anti-Christian statements to anti-Semitism. There is NO comparison.

For 2000 years of tragic Jewish history, Christianity and later Islam have made a concerted effort to marginalize and then, ultimately, to try to exterminate the Jew no matter how small the Jewish population was or is. The Holocaust came out of somewhere. It has strong roots in the metamorphosis of Christianity and its view of the Jew as a betrayer of God popularized in the culture of the Middle Ages and continuing in contemporary times. That baton, like a relay race, has been passed to Islam. The Jews, small as they may be, are a constant never- ending target. 6,000,000 Jewish dead are not enough for anti-Semites, they have to make a film called the Passion of the Christ to rub the accusation of decide in a little further and to remind Christians (as if they had forgotten) of the accusation emanating from the Gospels that the Jews, through betrayal, were responsible for the torturing and killing of their God. She was absolutely correct that film was anti-Semitic but Gibson waited until he was dead drunk to reveal the essence of his true being. The Passion reflects that core. No one else made that film. He did and reaped millions in profits from it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Negotiate with N. Korea: Yes, the world has, indeed, gone crazy. Historically, though, it is no crazier than it has always been since our caveman origin. The stark difference, however, now of course, is the fact that nuclear weapons are a reality. Killing off millions of people by conventional weapons, horrific as that is, pales by comparison to the killing off hundreds of millions of people and even, perhaps, ultimately the entire human race in addition to stopping the ecological balance of nature itself by nuclear war.

This administration has been so horrific on so many of its policies and its actions, I could not even presume, unless I wanted to write a book, to list all of them. Perhaps the most egregious of its errors is its failure to at least TALK with an adversary. It is almost as if Bush and his minions WANT to go to war with Iran and N. Korea and his so-called "axis of evil" (as if our killing hundreds of thousands is not evil.) We KNOW he wanted to go to war with Iraq. The war in Iraq, of course, has cost us many things one of which is credibility. We have none. We have botched Iraq so badly it has emboldened Iran, made them the power supreme in the most volatile region on earth and should give us indigestion as to the potential for nuclear hand holding between the maniacs of Iran and the maniacs of N. Korea as well.

If the American public does not see the Bush follies from Iraq, to Katrina, to Foley, to corruption scandals, to lost billions, to Halliburton shenanigans, and now our refusal for one-on-one talks with Korea and hundreds of other egregious culture-shattering actions, then it never will. Can we not give this jerk Kim il Jong a phone call and make the guy happy? This administration's loathsome results of its actions are right in front of our faces for everyone to see. How the Christian Evangelicals, many of whom are poor, can even contemplate for one second a vote for Republicans and think that Republicans are in their corner is beyond me. The world sees the joke of this administration. The problem is the joke is on us!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's the Hypocrisy Stupid! It's now all Foley all the time. 24/7 that's nearly all that one can listen to. Discussion of it is on every news channel, every radio station, the blogs, and the Internet. It, of course, involves rather scummy emails and instant messages with graphic inappropriate sexual communications between a Republican 52 year old Congressman and teenage male Congressional pages. We are saturated with the issue. I'll bet the American public is sick of it and would like it to just "poof" go away. Of course, it won't, at least not for awhile.

Why do Americans have an obsession with sex? Americans and sex have always had a difficult time together. Religion, I suspect, accounts for much of the discord. Our Puritan past complete with witches and demands for repentance for even thinking about sex did not help. Hester Prynne, the heroine in Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, is forced to wear the mark of Cain in the form of the red letter "A," in Puritan New England because of her sin of adultery. This tells us much about the nascent American culture and its views of sexual sin.
Fast forward centuries later "banned in Boston" was the yardstick for profanity. The profanity that defined that era certainly is tame by the standards of contemporary American mores but D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover, nonetheless, was banned and his work indicted because of it's sexual content. Many other authors and their books suffered the same fate.

Our TV culture of the 1950's would not even allow Lucy and Desi, who were, of course married, to sleep in a double bed together. They could only share a room with twin beds as if they were roommates at NYU. Although the network scandalously allowed Lucy to appear pregnant she could not say the word "pregnant." Lucy was "having a baby" certainly she was NOT pregnant. Sex was extracted from the always-glorified family. June and Ward Cleaver of Leave it to Beaver fame never, of course, spoke of sex and , indeed, it seemed as if their sons Wally and Beaver were hatched. One could not have conceived (pardon the pun) of Ozzie and Harriet naked, locked in a passionate embrace while David and Ricky were in the next room or in any room for that matter. Sex in the 1950's and early 60's was vacuumed out of and extracted from the culture and a seemingly sexless milieu enveloped that era like a shroud.
This country, however, in the late 1960's freed itself, at least in theory, from the sexual tyranny it had known since its inception. Like an inmate being released from jail, America could not get enough of that which it repressed and wanted so badly. Suppressing the potent biological urge of sex is a nearly impossible thing to do. Just ask the Vatican and Catholic priests. Human hormones will not allow it. It is an urge so strong it simply will not be denied with ease. In addition, let's face it, sex is fun and it feels great.

Unfortunately a new found freedom was taken to excess. The late 60's along with the birth control pill freed up, especially, women. It ushered in, as I call it, The Age of Sex. It was everywhere and permeated everything -- music, literature, arts, TV, film, advertising and even sports. If it felt good it was done. It became unbridled and extreme. Because of that unwanted pregnancies, increased divorce statistics, STD's -- among them the lethal virus AIDS -- arose. The culture experienced a crudity not known before and still exists today. Steve Allen, the great comic, intellectual and man of letters talked about this in his book Vulgarians at the Gate. He observed in America a culturally crude licentious decline which brought with it sociological and psychological fragmentation. It was a hefty price to pay for a change of culture which seemed, at first, so benign and so natural.

Today the Christian right has seen to it that the Republican party is now the party of the so called "moral majority." To buy a ticket to enter the hallowed Republican sanctuaries one must buy into its reactionary sexual politics of denial, repression and suppression and hope that it will buy one a ride back to a seemingly simpler time. Indeed, allegedly, it could buy an entry into heaven itself. This is a delusion. The ideal families of June and Ward Cleaver and Ozzie and Harriet Nelson never existed. They especially did not exist if one was black or poor, and certainly did not exist if a member of those families was homosexual. Those "ideal" families did not exist either for people who were abused in marriage or tormented by an unhappy marital life.

Putting the sex jeanie back into the bottle and repressing our sexuality once again is not so easy. Discord between two people is ever present and sexuality remains a constant force. It always will. Nature meant that to be so. Republican, Democrat and Independent alike should recognize that and accept it because everyone is subject to it. Denial of self creates bad behavior in the form of violence, suicide and even possibly child abuse. They should accept their sexuality and conduct themselves appropriately, because it's the hypocrisy, stupid, that will get them into trouble every time!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What happened in Amish Country? Little innocent girls, sheltered from the winds of war and violence of our world were brutalized and some had their lives taken. They have been senselessly and bestially attacked and killed by, in my mind, the lowest insect that nature has ever in error created. To call him an animal is to give him an appellation much more than he deserves. Has our country gone insane? What is wrong with our culture, our country and our world?

Steve Allen the brilliant comic, commentator and man of letters entitled one of his books Vulgarians at the Gate in which he talked about the crudity that has enveloped this country that I think he thought never existed in more innocent times. After the late 60's cultural metamorphosis, our country saw this crudity and reacted. The Evangelicalization of America began. The Evangelical, religious and especially fundamentalist Christians ultimately put our present government in place. Since the era of Richard Nixon, they now have taken the Presidency, the Congress and even many of the Courts. They did so under the guise of returning America to a more moral majority. Politics has since then become the ugliest profession. We are divided like no other time except, perhaps, during the Civil War.

Since George Bush took office, we have experienced, 9/11, 2700 plus American deaths, thousands slaughtered in Iraq, multiple school shootings, world terrorist attacks galore, the Katrina debacle, sexual assaults, a Congressman's disgusting emails to a minor and its attendant cover-up to ensure a political party's power, unspeakable pedophilic crimes, corrupt politics, indictments of Congressmen, and so many more horrific acts too numerous to mention here. Hypocrisy abounds. It would appear unbridled religiosity uncompromising and extreme has not been the answer.

I do not know what the answer is. I do think, however, trying to become a more humane culture might be a start. I heard someone recently say that America is great if you are in good health and plan to work very hard. If you are not, however, do not come here because America has a kind of wild west mentality -- every man for himself.

Perhaps, all this needless, senseless, incomprehensible violence and cruelty could be averted if we nurture a softer core and if we begin to feel our government cares about what happens to its people. Until then, I suspect the violence by the alienated will continue. Those of us who lived the late 1960's were saying often a simple thing -- give peace a chance. We never did. Perpetual war begets perpetual violence. I suspect we need to try something else.

Monday, October 02, 2006

MONEY MONEY MONEY: Is EVERYTHING about money? Everything? The middle and blue collar class everywhere and I do mean everywhere in this country should realize Republicans are NOT I repeat NOT about them. Republicans are about the very very very rich and simply USE the so called "moral issues" as a smokescreen to co-opt the middle and blue collar vote especially in the red states.

Those people need to wake up and smell the cinnamon rolls. Republicans are about dough alright but not that kind of dough. They are about money and LOTS of it. They are about contracts in Iraq, tax cuts for billionaires, they are about money with respect to employers of illegal immigrants, they are even about money where the Foley scandal is concerned, securing our ports, voting machines and they are about oodles of money where the Abramoff and congressional influence pedaling issues are concerned. How much more evidence does the American public need? One would have to have just emerged from under a rock not to see it.

Democrats are not perfect but they are a damn site better than Republicans where money and influence brokering is concerned. The Congressional balance of power MUST be changed quickly or this nation will go absolutely broke, hit again by a terrorist attack or both!

FOLEY FALLOUT: Foley's conduct and the "investigation" of it is completely utter hypocrisy of the highest order and the most disgusting of politics. Now so the Republicans won't have to convene the Ethics Committee meeting they are putting this investigation in the hands of the FBI Justice Department headed by Alberto Gonzales? Talk about the fox guarding the proverbial chicken coop. They are doing this so that they can stall until after the elections and hope that the Foley sex furor dies down by then. What utter hypocrisy.

If this were between adults in the workplace it would still be egregious because it is in the workplace milieu but I would not be nearly as upset. If it is a consenting adult I do not give a hoot about what they sexually do. Let's face it sex is here to stay we are animals afterall. There MUST be limits and sexually grooming an obviously UNDERAGE page who is an employee of the US government is out of bounds. Worse hypocrisy, Foley's time was spent protecting children from Internet predators! These are the same Republicans that are the morality in everything advocates. These are the same Republicans who want to pillory gays and strip them of their human rights. This is simply dripping with hypocrisy it is hard to wrap one's brain around. To make matters worse, if that is possible, the cover-up was immense involving the House's highest leadership in Dennis Hastert and others.

All, absolutely all of those involved in passing the buck to save Republican skin, after knowing about Foley for over a year, to save the fall elections should resign forthwith. Gonzalez should recuse himself and a special NEUTRAL prosecutor should be appointed to investigate. They would demand nothing less of Democrats you can be sure of that. It should mean the same thing for them.