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.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Climbing Everest: The 2006 Congressional elections are upon us. The following is a stream of conscious enumeration of the legion of reasons WHY this Congress should be sent home. It is truly amazing to me that there are SO so so many reasons and yet it is like pulling teeth in many states to get these people out of Congress. What is the reason? I just don't know it is dismaying. Norway here I come.

A few reasons why this Congress is so putrid:

It is amazing in this country what the Democrats have to go through to win an election. Any one of the following reasons would be enough in my mind for people in this country to see that a shift is in order.

My first reason was the lack of response of this administration to the August, 2001 warning of an imminent terrorist attack which might involve planes hitting buildings. The president dismissed the carrier of the warning and did nothing. The botching of the warning for 9/11 was ridiculous and cost 3000 lives. There was nothing done with regard to security, nothing done in view of what happened to the USS Cole, and nothing done when our African embassies were blown up but a LOT was done to try to say it was Clinton’s fault. Well, if it was Clinton’s fault Bush NEVER followed up on the mistakes he thought were committed. At least Clinton TRIED to attack Bin Laden. Bin Laden was never caught. He was never caught because the real focus of the war was in Afghanistan where our attention was diverted to fight a never ending useless war, costing billions of dollars in Iraq.

The next reason is, of course, Iraq. The president and his cohorts have lied us into a war which they had preconceived notions of beginning even before 9/11 occurred. There were no terror ties to Saddam and 9/11, no training grounds for terrorists and, of course, there were no weapons of mass destruction. Although Hussein was a tyrant that country did nothing to us. It did not attack us. As a matter of fact he was a bulwark against Al Qaeda because he hated them and thought of them as a threat. After the absence of WMD’s the administration had to manufacture a motive and, of course, our tried and true historical rationale for most of our ventures was spreading democracy. If one wants to spread democracy through military action and force one would have to send a military to over three quarters of the countries of the world. Hussein was certainly not the only dictator. Worse after invading Iraq, killing thousands, there was no adequate planning for the invasion. Looting was allowed, munitions were lost and ended up in the hands of our enemies. Adequate troops were rejected by Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld was told he needed about 400,000 troops. He fired those who said that. The troops too were ill equipped with no armor and other necessities. Congress has allowed this debacle to happen. It has cost the taxpayer a half trillion bucks. In addition it has ruined the balance of power in that region and empowered Shites who will ally themselves with Iran our worst nuclear powered enemy. No congressional oversight ensued and no subpoena under oath hearings occurred.

The next reason for removing the Republicans would the fact this administration along with the complicity of the US Congress though lack of oversight, got away with treason. If the outing for political reasons of CIA operative, Valerie Plame, by this administration were not enough, try spreading the secretes of how to build a nuclear bomb complete with heretofore top secrete instructions of constructing the actual trigger on the world wide web. This was done by complicity and advocacy of two Republican members of Congress over the objections of the head of the NIA Negroponte. If Democrats had done that can you imagine the uproar? I hear no outrage from the American public. We executed the Rosenbergs for less in the 1950’s. Spreading that on the Internet could mean not only our soldiers’ lives but the annihilation of our populous or a great deal of it as well.

The next reason is Katrina. The complete and utter bungling of this administration which cost hundreds of lives of US citizens not to mention the uprooting of thousands, comes and complete with cronyism, lack of oversight and incompetent people in the highest positions of national emergency management which resulted in catastrophic suffering and loss of life. The do nothing president was not involved. He sat at his Texas ranch, had a party and did nothing for days. He tells us no less that “Brownie you are doing a heck of a job” what job? He was head of the Arabian Horse Club who had given lots of money to the Bush campaign so he got a job with no background and NO much required expertise. Worse Bush inserted a signing statement in a bill which specifically required experts to manage FEMA. This statement said he did not have to do that. This is mind boggling. It’s like putting a ditch digger at the head of National Institute of Health. Nothing wrong with ditch diggers but they don’t belong at the head of an institution which is responsible for saving lives and requires very specific expertise.

The next is shredding our constitution by making it legal to use torture, suspending habeas corpus the bedrock of our democracy, allowing thousands of signing statements attached to bills and investing the executive with huge amounts of power. Bush has used his veto only once against stem cell research and Congress did not override his veto.

The next reason is the ad infinitum scandals. Abramoff (who according to the White House hardly visited but looking at the White House logs visited 400 times), Delay, Ney, Safvaian, Duke Cunningham, the assistant to Karl Rove, investigation of Hastert, investigation of Frist for SEC violations to name but a few. This Congress has sold their soul to the “K” street lobbying project and did it with OUR taxpayer money. There are hundreds of illegalities attached to this scandal. The Congress abandoned the ethics committee chairman, an honest man and a Republican Joel Hefly because of his investigation of Tom Delay. Tom Delay put him there in the first place and fired him when Hefly did his job. The Congress never conducted the investigation into the K street project and influence pedaling of lobbyists that they said they would and had to be arm twisted to even investigate 9/11.

The next reason is huge numbers of contracts given to vendors who did not produce. No oversight was conducted by this Congress. Many billions have been wasted by giving no bid contracts to Halliburton and others in Iraq and many billions have been spent on local projects like the Alaskan bridge to nowhere and again it is our taxpayer money. This list of pork barrel spending of our money by Congress is endless.

Next reason is the Mark Foley scandal. It was a scandal which was egregious in and of itself because of the tremendous hypocrisy. Here is a homosexual page who voted for the Marriage Amendment, was against gay marriage and against homosexuality who was himself a flagrant homosexual and worse a pederast. Everyone knew it. Well, if everyone knew it how come no one else did? Oh yes, curiously enough the ethics committee won’t be able to finish their investigation until AFTER the election. People in the highest echelons of power knew full well about what Mark Foley might be doing, including Denis Hastert and including Karl Rove and they did nothing. In addition other Republicans knew about another Congressman from Arizona, Congressman Kolbe, who has allegedly done some egregious homosexuality with children. So much for family values. I guess the children they say matter so much do not matter at all. There have been cover-ups galore by many in Republican leadership and page oversight positions.

Stealing of elections by voter fraud, intimidation and Diebold (an administration supporter) voting machine fixing. Smearing of opposition by sleazy attack ads and false accusations. Everyone knew John Kerry did not mean his admittedly bad joke in the way he said they did but they smeared him anyway. Everyone knew that the ad that inferred a racial slur against Harold Ford, Jr. in Tennessee was just that racial. Everyone knows about Republican dirty tricks by the carload in places like Ohio, Montana, and Florida and elsewhere when Republicans inundate people with voicemail to vote for a certain Democrat until the person turns against that candidate because of the inundation. People know about the turning away of black and Hispanic voter through poll tax type ploys. No one does anything about it. The Republicans have bought the courts as well. These things are highly illegal and highly unconstitutional but no one cares.

Other reasons include lifting of air quality standards and rejecting the Kyoto Protocol which every nation has signed except the US so now we are more prone to cancer though air pollution. This Congress has had no investigations as to alternative energy sources which would take us away from oil dependence and dependence on the Arab world. Can you imagine how wonderful that would be. No efforts to stem GLOBAL WARMING. Scientific facts agreed by scientists were acutally altered. Those facts describe the dire threat. Someday because of this administration and this do nothing Congress New York City could be inundated with water. It will be destoryed this time not by terrorist but by our own incompetence. Stem cell research, who on earth could not be for the possibility of curing some of the most heinous diseases which happen to FULL TERM human beings. The majority of the American public is for this. Mostly Republicans are against it. Bankruptcy laws which favor huge corporations but if a single family has a medical catastrophe which uses up All their money THEY cannot claim bankruptcy.

For these and so many other reasons, this Congress should be given a swift boot in the ass. Will they? Incredibly, I doubt it.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Haggard and homosexuality: Someone interviewed on Keith Olbermann on Friday night said it best. Paraphrasing: This shows that the Evangelicals have it wrong. Homosexuality is not a choice it is deeply intrinsic to the human being. Obviously, someone of Haggard's stature with a wife and five children would never commit such acts if the desire was not overwhelmingly compelling within him. He had too much to lose.

There is to me, no question, that because of the difficulty of being homosexual, especially in our time, in most states, that homosexuality is clearly genetically predetermined most probably in the mother's womb before birth even occurs. It, in my opinion, has very little or nothing to do with the psychological conditioning of a child. Why this happens no one knows. Why does left handedness happen? Perhaps we will never know but it does happen and it does so in nearly every mammalian species that exists on the planet. Some day, God willing, religions will stop this horrendous persecution of people who are something that nature itself determines and will accord these human beings their rightful place in the family of man. When this happens maybe the Haggards of the world will not have to live a lie.

Friday, November 03, 2006

How to build an Atomic bomb revealed in New York Times: There is a front page headline on the New York Times today. It is the following and is making me literally nauseous. If the media does not make a HUGE issue of this it is totally in the pockets of those corporations who are controlled by Republicans. This is dire. If this isn't treason or at the least GROSS incompetence or the extreme of treason, I do not know what is: The New York Times front page says:

U.S. Web Archive Is Said to Reveal a Nuclear Primer

It goes on to say that 1991 documents recovered from Iraq -- including the blueprint to build a nuclear bomb -- were posted on a US government web site. Those documents released were 1991 plans for a bomb with parts we gave them for their war with Iran. It included the know how, IN ARABIC no less, to make the trigger device on a nuclear bomb which was the essential ingredient we are supposed to keep beyond top secret.

Now, when we're peeling skin off of our flesh from the burns and radiation we we can thank the trusty let's fight them there so we don't have to fight them here Bush administration and its wholesale political treason for enlisting two Republican senators to persuade Negroponte (who was against putting it on the Internet -- duuuh) for totally political purposes. They wanted that on the Internet not to have people "vet out" information from it but to convince people who didn't know better of their so called rationale for going to war. These papers were well known to the IAEA and were kept secret because part of it was information they did not want to hand on a silver platter to potential terrorists. This is the Republiican administration and Republican Congress at work. This administration does not care about you, they do not care about our country, they do not care about our system of government. They care only about themselves, their power and ultimately their money. Wake up America
! This is a HORRENDOUS story and I don't care who reported it. It's simply awful and is proof positive of this administration's incompetence and shear insanity. This headline is EGREGIOUS not for you not for me but for our WHOLE nation, the world and the planet. If those fools are not voted out of office we are indeed doomed. I give up. I'm moving to Norway. Even there a nuclear blast will not keep me safe!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dangerous Nation?: Dear Dr. Kagan: Although your talk on CSPAN was on fairly late for me in my area I forced myself to stay up to watch its entirety. I loved it. It was so interesting and you were completely well informed about the subject matter. I will eventually purchase your book "Dangerous Nation." I longed to have been at your discussion because I had so many questions to ask.

I have been interested in US foreign policy since the turbulent anti-Vietnam years in the late 60's at Boston Univ. Professors there, including Howard Zinn and others, were among those who had the most profound effect on me.

As years passed, however, I became more moderate and have spent many hours trying to figure out which side really owns the truth. Your discussion was on point with respect to many of the most perplexing questions I have about the why of US foreign policy entanglements.

Still, though, I vacillate. Prof. Zinn in his People's History indicts US academia and government nearly entirely for perpetrating on the American public fantasy history. He says American policy has occurred BECAUSE Americans do not know the truth of their history. He uses Columbus in the beginning and, of course, the slave trade as extraordinary examples of this. Columbus to us, as children, was an idealized historical figure but in reality, of course, if one reads further more in-depth and obscure accounts, he brought disease, famine, humiliation and a cruel death to those natives he encountered and whom he eventually subjugated and/or eliminated. In Gore Vidal's book Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace he too is consistently critical of American policy and characterizes America as an Empire which stops at nothing to attain great wealth and great power, running rough shod over the countries or peoples it invades. Prof. Zinn says there are PEOPLE on the other side of our bombs. When the bombs hit and kill people get angry. We, after all, are the only nation to have exploded the bomb. He says our government simply does not tell the truth. No wonder people hate us.

Literally we have probably killed hundreds of thousands since our country's inception. That is a far cry from all men are created equal and all the other platitudes we were given as children and young adults which gave a rationale for our military involvements. As you say, and I know, we have had a lot of military actions.

I realize things are not black and white. There are, indeed, shades of gray. I once wrote Prof. Zinn explaining my quandary about his positions. I said that the world is a dangerous place. It always has been a dangerous place. If we are not on top there are others certainly significantly more heinous that would gladly usurp our power and perhaps even our nation if they could. I call my theory the dinosaur dilemma. In the Jurassic Age of Dinosaurs in our evolutionary chain of life it is a survival of the fittest world. There, indeed, are those who wanted to destroy us from the Middle East before our Iraq invasion and, I believe, even if Israel did not exist they would still want to if it were possible. I think Prof. Zinn sometimes is naive.

In your opinion, where does this country sit among the other nations of history given the realities of our world? What SHOULD our policies have been through the last two and one half centuries and what should it be now? Is is possible to have had a more humane foreign policy? Could we do better to ingratiate ourselves in the eyes of the world? Where have we gone wrong IF in fact we HAVE gone wrong? Could another president smart and sagacious change things? In my opinion Iraq is a catastrophe and is lost. From your perspective in 100 years will what we have done there even matter? It seems to me since WWII something has gone wrong. We have not been on the side of the angels but rather have propped up incredibly vicious regimes in many countries of the globe including, and most, especially Iran but in many other countries as well. People have memories.

I fear now an angry Middle East and with the help of fundamentalist Iran terrorists will have access to Iraq. I think ultimately we will leave and Iraq will be under religious fundamentalist control giving them the opportunity work their mischief. I am more afraid now of nuclear devices getting into the hands of brutal people often religious fanatics because of our disastrous policies in history vis a vie the Middle East and elsewhere. How do you assess our foreign policy and is your assessment different from what an academic like a Howard Zinn and others on the left charge?

Thank you so very much for an enjoyable discussion on CSPAN. I look forward to buying your book.
Quizzical about Kerry: How is it possible that a seasoned politician such as John Kerry can say such a phrase six days before the most critical and positive election the Democrats have had in nearly 25 years? Can one inane stupid statement blur an election? I am hoping the American people will not fall for such a vile move by Republicans to cover up issues that literally mean life and death. If this is all it takes to do that then I give up or the Democrats must find a new way and change their message. Clearly the Republican way of doing things ruins us in foreign policy issues and does not do one thing for the blue collar class, the middle class and certainly Republicans do nothing for the poor.

This administration has botched every single issue known to man over the past six years which could have provided a better life for our people. They have single handedly created a multitude of disasters from FEMA and crisis management, global warming, air quality, to alternative fuel development, to health care or lack of it, to stem cell research which could actually cure people of heinous diseases, privacy rights, constitutional demolishment, treasonous activity, and wholesale corruption. Most importantly US foreign policy gets too many people killed. It alienates the public, the world and those who are attacked. We can no longer go to war over dubious issues. It cost us too much in lives, treasure and national pride. That is the message the Democrats must weave into a new policy of patriotism, pride and CHANGE!

We must give hope to a new century with new ideas and new values. Otherwise, it will be the same old same old and we will sink into an abyss that ultimately could mean the end of life as we know it in this country and on this planet.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Iraq reconsidered: I agree with most of Jeff Jocaby's November 1, 2006 article in the Globe entitled "Scenes from the jihad." All the countries he sites have significant problems with Islamic jihadists within and terrorism in general including ours. In the very beginning after 9/11, going against all the Democratic inclinations of my political beliefs, I supported the invasion of Iraq. I supported it for several reasons.

First, I thought the highest echelons of our government had significant evidence of Hussein's attempt to get -- or that he already possessed -- weapons of mass destruction. I thought he would sell them to the highest bidder or use them himself as he had done in the past on his own people.

Second, I thought Hussein was undoubtedly aggressive and, if given the opportunity, would invade countries wherever he could and spread those WMD's. I thought it was in OUR best interest to remove him from power. I did not care a wit if the Iraqis fell in love with democracy but I did care whether that regime was capable of doing harm to us in the form of another possible attack.

Third, I thought, in the future, Hussein or worse one of his psychopathologic sons would ultimately try to hurt us or certainly the west.

Fourth, I thought Republicans would plan for the peace. I thought they would know HOW to wage war. War means nothing if the peace is not secured. I thought -- and I am incredulous today that I even thought this -- that Republicans some how now would not perpetrate a second Vietnam. I thought that they, being who they are, would bring whatever American power was necessary, listen to the military especially, and do what had to be done to ensure an absolute and total victory for our country including and MOST especially securing the aftermath. I thought they would do it right.

I made a mistake and many of them. All my reasons and justifications for the president taking us to war were undeniably wrong. Thankfully, I am not the president. Bush is and had access to all the intelligence.

First, and importantly, because our rationale for war was WMDs, no WMD's were found and later I found out that the evidence that Hussein had none was discarded or lied about such as in Colin Powell's address to the UN.

Second, not enough troops were brought to the task. Rumsfeld's miscalculations were insane. He overruled or fired those who said we needed many more and who did not agree with him.

Third, our incurious and unquestioning president knew NOTHING about the history of Iraq and who its warring factions were. Our president did not know for centuries Shia, Sunni and Kurd hated each other and that we could not secure the peace easily because of possible civil war between the factions. He did not realize we could be quagmired and caught squarely in the middle. He did not plan for that and did not keep that important fact in mind.

Fourth, we disbanded the Iraqi military, sent them home with no job to do, and with their weapons which they would ultimately use against us.

Fifth, we allowed anarchy to rule after Hussein was brought down. We allowed looting which showed we had no control. We did not secure munitions and lost billions of military hardware which until this day haunt our troops. We also lost billions of US dollars.

Sixth, horrifically and unbelievably, we did not provide our troops with the proper equipment like armor. I remember sending a package to our troops which included a pair of sunglasses. I though the USA cannot provide sunglasses to our troops in an area with lots of sun? Something should have clicked that we were doing this half baked.

It started to become clear fairly rapidly that this adventure was SERIOUSLY botched and that the Republicans did not care about our troops and did not care about Iraq. What on earth DID they care about? I am supposing Bush cared perhaps about being Churchill, and was coaxed by neo-conservatives into thinking he could reform the entire Middle East and/or into doing what his father did not do. He did not possess the intellectual acumen to think through things on his own. Cheney perhaps cared about America avenging Vietnam, regaining a perception of strength and, because of his Nixon years, wanted to strengthen the power of the presidency. Rumsfeld thought he could create a streamlined military and just wanted to strike back after 9/11. It did not matter on whom. The Congress was interested in giving a blank check to Bush so they could give a blank check to themselves and maintain their power to make lots of money. If 3000 servicemen had to die for that and thousands horrifically wounded, well, I suppose it simply did not matter to them. Generally, it was not their sons and daughters who were doing the fighting and dying.

I am only guessing what the rationales were. All were misguided grandiose schemes which had no chance of success except for, of course, creating a presidency, with a Congressional wink and nod, which had unlimited power. Now WE do not even have the kind of democracy that we want to export.

It became crystal clear that the very thing we were so fearful of is exactly what has occurred. Yes, Iraq is a major front on terror now because WE made it so. Hussein it turned out was the least of our problems and actually kept radical Islam from proliferating in Iraq. He was secular. Afghanistan where Bin Laden is near to this day, was the real front on terror. It was generally abandoned for Iraq. There is no Bin Laden to be found unless his capture or death will be the so-called Rovian October surprise. The second front should have been securing Saudi Arabia from whence the heinous philosophy of Whabiism and fundamentalist Islam came. There were many other fronts that should have been the recipient of a sagacious foreign diplomatic policy such as negotiations with Iran and Syria with the insurance that other more moderate Islamic regimes remained safe.

Instead we dropped a tonnage of bombs on a people who had NOTHING whatsoever to do with our 9/11 attack by admission of our commander-in-chief. That makes people who are the recipients of those bombs very mad and involves us in quicksand from which we do not know how to extricate ourselves.

We have emboldened Islamic fundamentalists' horrendous cause to our great peril and soon I would predict Iraq will have a Shite religious fundamentalist power structure just as Iran does today. This is not what I had in mind. Iraqis I fear are not buying what America likes to sell -- copies of itself.

Bush's policies have been reckless and could doom us in the end beyond the time of his tenure. We are in, I fear, deep trouble. It is this president and his feeble attempt to invade a country, which did not deserve it and who erroneously calculated what it would take to actually win and sustain a peace which are among his most egregious errors. It is he who is responsible for this disaster.

Why anyone could not see the folly of what has been done (or has not been done) on his watch is beyond me. If he were a Democrat who in August, 2001 did not heed the simple warnings of 9/11 and an impending attack, lied about evidence to take this nation to war, his most trusted advisors revealing a CIA agent's name and his perpetrating a usurpation of executive power, those Republicans would be calling for his head and indicting him for treason and, I believe, he would rightfully be convicted.

I pray that the American public is smart enough to see through this, as the author Tom Ricks calls it, fiasco. If we are not smart enough then we get what we deserve -- perpetual war, unattainable peace or God forbid something far much worse!