Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Why We Fight": I recommend highly a great documentary film in rental called "Why We Fight" made by Eugene Jarecki. This is an ever-so-precise explanation of US foreign mis-policy post WWII. The centrifugal part of the documentary centers around Dwight Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation Jan, 17, 1961 where he presciently talks about, at that time, the fledgling military industrial complex which now has become the ubiquitous military industrial complex. The very entertaining film, of course, applies to contemporary events most especially Iraq and it evolves as such. A word Eisenhower wanted to put in his address but took out was "Congressional" so he wanted to say the "military industrial *CONGRESSIONAL* complex" but opted for a more politically prudent phrase of military industrial complex. Nonetheless he was unbelievably prescient for his time, considering his life long occupation and the fact he was Republican.

The documentary did include some comments by an aged Gore Vidal albeit very briefly. I wish I saw more experts like Vidal, Howard Zinn or the provocative Noam Chomsky giving commentary on more pop cultural formats such as Hardball, Paula Zahn, Larry King or Keith Olbermann. We need some truth tellers. I have all but given up. It is a hard thing when one approaches 60 (I'm only 58!) to start realizing we are not forever. I cannot envision a world without my favorite academics and personalities. Hell, I cannot envision a world without me. It is even harder for me to realize the limits of what we will see. At 20 something my hope was endless. Now, I really do not have much. It's sad to think that way but I do. No matter how vociferous those against violence as a method of foreign policy are it never seems to really matter. Now, this behemoth is bigger than any of us. A caveat symbolizing that is today the news is Cindy Sheehan is hanging up her protest sign. She said it has cost her her health, her money and that her son Casey died for nothing. That is symbolic to me of it all.

This documentary is on DVD and has excellent commentary especially the running commentary of the filmmaker and an expert.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day Memories: Two white haired quite elderly gentlemen wearing veterans' caps were sitting at a local supermarket with collection cans and handing out red poppies when they received a donation. I remembered vets doing that so many years ago when I was a child. These gentlemen were so sweet as they thanked and blessed me when I dropped a minuscule four quarters in their collector. I thought it a poor recompense for what they had endured. I thanked them for what they and others have given to the country and then I cried.

I was crying not only for the vets' sacrifice but also because the War in Iraq is a horrific mess and lost. I was crying for the waste of young life and because we are now considered by many to be the pariah of the world instead of its savior. When I was a child the vets with the poppies were usually WWII vets. I thought what a far cry Iraq II is from World War II. The two wars are light years apart not only in decades but are light years apart in the rationale for going to war. Iraq II has been one of the most divisive and, in my opinion, worst foreign policy blunder in US history. It has been based on catastrophic lies, incompetent mismanagement, inability to understand regional history and an absence of prescient planning. We attacked a nation which did not attack us. This war may have ultimately the most dire far reaching consequences for the US and, indeed, the world as nearly any we have waged. The argument now should be not whether we leave Iraq but how fast we should leave.

The mistake of Vietnam, I thought, was bad enough but the Iraq II venture really takes the blunder prize. In the brilliant film "Judgment at Nuremberg" one of the Germans, a former Nazi judge played by Burt Lancaster, accused of war crimes, finally admits to his complicity in the horrific Nazi atrocities. He ashamedly and ever-so-passionately asks the question "Where were we? Were we deaf, dumb, blind?"

I might ask the same thing of the people who not only conducted this war but the ones who were complicit in giving the permission slip. In the final analysis, someone put this president in office and someone voted yes giving him financial carte blanche to conduct a war under false pretenses which not many questioned. Perhaps, William Shakespeare said it best in Act I Scene II of Julius Caesar: "The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Three Questions: MSNBC is asking three questions on their web page. I have pasted in all three and answered all three one by one individually.

First Question: What issue facing our country today is most important to you or has the greatest impact on you, your family and neighbors?

The greatest importance to our country, I believe, is its security. However, to ensure our security and to make sure the country has funding for things that matter I believe we MUST change the direction of our foreign policy. Perpetual war does NOT bring perpetual peace. It brings the threat of more war and ultimately the possible extinction of humankind as we know it. The War in Iraq, which I initially supported, became, I believe a colossal error. It showed me that the US MUST reexamine how we conduct ourselves internationally. When Ron Paul, Republican candidate, for president said it matters what America has done in the past and our historical behavior often dictates present aggressions against us he was exactly correct. Why Rudolph Giuliani never heard an analysis like that I do not understand. Real security and the real safety of our military troops and personnel comes first with an extrication from wars we cannot win through military intervention. Each war for the US after WWII has been problematic. It is a different era. We must step up security which requires funding and we must wage peace. Money going to the Iraq war -- in many cases horrendously wasted -- needs to be spent at here home. We need to develop ties internationally over decades which will HELP the people of the Middle East not bomb them into submission. Bombing does not stop terrorism it creates it. Perhaps, that money we save by NOT going to war could be redirected and spent on ameliorating the planet threat of global warming, improving healthcare, education and ultimately ensuring the welfare and the security of our people.

Second: How does it affect you, your friends or loved ones? Tell us your story, and please be specific:

I am disabled. I am constantly worried specifically about healthcare. This country, the richest on the planet, in my opinion, should have enough resources to make sure someone like I do not spend the rest of my life worrying whether I will have the money to pay for the medications I take now or may need in the future. Aging strikes everyone. Most everyone will have to face the ravages of it at some point in their life. As medicine becomes more advanced life is extended. As life is extended more medical interventions will be necessary. Healthcare is expensive and not affordable to many. Wars sap billions and ultimately trillions of dollars which could be redirected and used to help people who cannot help themselves. Those are moral values too and, in my opinion, those are the ones that count above all the others. If we cannot breath the air, if we cannot afford healthcare, if we cannot pay for medication, if children cannot get the education that is available we all, as a nation, suffer. As much as I love the value of American individualism I also believe man is a social being and needs the group to ensure his survival. Our nation must attend to the needs of its individuals when those individuals cannot do that alone.

Third: What do you think should be done to "fix" this problem?

We cannot anymore utterly waste billions conducting unnecessary, purposeless, unsupervised and careless military interventions. While there is no doubt we must spend on maximum military preparedness, we must be prudent, too, and ever-so-cautious when we use it. It must be used only as a last resort. We most especially need to elect the most intelligent, articulate and communicative leaders who possess an understanding of history and who possess the diplomatic skills to know when to use force and when not to. Huge amounts of money, which has throughout recent decades, been wasted on ineffective wars, must be spent on the betterment of mankind and not on its destruction. Only then can we as a nation begin to recapture and show to the world, as we have in the past, the true genius of our system of government and the humanity of our people.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Farewell to Falwell: The Biblical story of Exodus tells us not to be joyful when another person dies even if that person is one's enemy. As the legend tells us when the Jews saw the Red Sea swallow up their enslavers God told them not to be joyful because after all those dying were His creation too. Try as I might not to be happy that Jerry Falwell is gone I fall short. I think the evil that man did by suppressing the rights of blacks, women, homosexuals, indicting them for 9/11, his suppression of AIDS research in the Reagan years resulting in the deaths of thousands, his views against stem cell research which create so much suffering as well as his contribution to the emergence of a money-oriented Evangelical movement and corrupt Republican machine is far more important to iterate.

Some people laud him by saying he was genuine and he was what he appeared to be. To me what he appeared to be was hateful, stupid and cruel. I cannot understand why are we spending so much time talking about him? I suppose the reality of how many he influenced commands that we do. Jerry Falwell created discord. He was a fanatic. He did not attempt to erase the nation's divisions but contributed toward them. I certainly will not mourn his passing but rather hope, probably to no avail, that no one of his ilk emerges in that movement to take his place.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Frontline -- The Religious right and the keys to the White House: I detest Pat Robertson and his ilk so much that I think I may not be able to watch Bill Moyers this Friday night as he examines the influence of the religious right in the White House and beyond. I felt the same way about watching its segment on Mormonism. I watched part of it in increments.

The threat of the subrogation of the state to religion -- any religion -- is, to me, like returning to the Dark and Middle Ages. Mankind has fought long and hard to plow its way from the torturous path of kingly and papal tyranny through to the Magna Carta, on to the Renaissance, to the Reformation, Age of Reason and Age of Enlightenment only to have all those centuries hard-fought-for rights, cultural and scientific advancement rendered worthless by the institution of a George Bush presidency. Bush, a cerebrally inept and incurious man with many psychological debilitations, has with much help, attempted to return humanity to its most repressive and intellectually bankrupt past. I can barely watch it happen. Pat Robertson's flock literally taking up residence in the White House is a sort of blasphemy to me except not of the religious kind but of an intellectual variety. It is almost more than I can endure.

Of course, to close ones eyes to its occurrence is to remove oneself from perhaps having some influence to prevent the backward motion of history. When three of nearly a dozen Republican candidates actually raise their hands to indicate they do not believe in evolution reflects the catastrophic danger these people present. Perhaps the law of historical gravity will prevail and present culture will not fall on the sword of the ignorance of drunken religious bliss. Perhaps, we will be saved this time by an intellectual messiah of reason rather than be sacrificed at the alter of stupidity.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Waging Effective War and Waging Effective Peace: Jeff Jacoby in his May 9, 2007 editorial in The Globe entitled "Israel's Deadly Stupor" says Israel should maintain a constant state of war readiness and not lose its fervor because its enemies will not lose theirs. It is, I think, impossible for a state to maintain that kind of fervor for constant, perpetual and never-ending war. I am sure he will say Israel's enemies and our enemies, too, will always be in the attack mode. One part of me knows that he is right and that radical Islamic fanaticism will never give up, never not love war, and will always attempt to kill us. My other part says war is not an answer. It is too costly in blood, treasure and carries with it the potential for nuclear annihilation. War alienates rather than befriends.

What can we do? If war is the only answer then for certain it must be waged better than Olmert and most certainly better than Bush waged it. Both men have wasted life and both produced the opposite of what they set out to do. We need sagacious leadership that finds its way out of this constant state of fear and war. War has done nothing but bankrupt states and made them hated. We, in addition to being war ready, need to create an arena where religious fanaticism and anti-US propaganda does not proliferate. War plays into our enemies hands. Building bridges, finding water supplies, establishing medical facilities, building schools and the like builds friendships which eschew Islamic anti-US radicalism and propaganda. We need to wage peace but if we must turn to war we must do so through effective surgical strikes only when absolutely necessary and certainly only when effectively planned!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Letter and question to the Department of Defense: I heard a panel on CSpan discussing the American political landscape. One questioner at the end asked a very important and poignant question perhaps the most grave question of the entire discussion. He asked what the answer is to the eventual thought by some, that WWIII in the Middle East was unavoidable. One commentator said that truly this is the question that absolutely no one in the military or in our government or even outside of our government has any idea how to avoid or what to do.

I recently caught part of a segment done by Ted Koppel which centered on the role for our military OTHER than the role of warrior. That is instead of waging war, we are waging peace. His reporting centered on some rather remote villages in Africa and elsewhere where the US has made incredible humanitarian inroads by providing medical, schools, water development and other humanitarian assistance to poor people in various parts of the globe. This has given the US such a positive image in those places which it assists and even foils the attempts of terrorists to gain a foothold. It seems to me part of the problem in Middle East countries and elsewhere is the people's feeling that somehow they were left out of the success equation of the western world and used by the west for primarily the economic reason of oil. That probably I suspect has some truth. Obviously, other religious and historical issues are involved but do not you think that what I have just described is one crucially pivotal way we can avoid a doomsday scenario? There must be an answer. I believe 9/11 was avoidable and surprised even the perpetrators as to how devastating it was but, of course, hindsight is 20/20. I believe another, God forbid a million times, event could be avoided IF we can get people around the Globe not to hate us but to appreciate us. That is how we were viewed after WWII. Something after that, I think, went askew. We must get that back again and I think that humanitarian and other assistance while OF COURSE maintaining our own security is one simple rather inexpensive effective answer to the most complex and poignant question of our age.
The DC mad Madam? I don't think so. Watch 20/20 tonight: It's not the sex stupid, it's the HYPOCRISY of course! These holier than thou Republican utter hypocrites are beyond belief. How anyone could even THINK of voting for them is beyond me. They are corruption not to mention stupid ad nauseum (30% of the Republican candidates did NOT I repeat NOT believe in evolution.) Why didn't Chris Matthews ask them if they tried giving previously effective but now useless antibiotics to cure a strep throat and just why they thought that happened? Did someone ask how many believed in gravity, a round earth with the sun as its center or maybe the tooth fairy? I bet they all believe in the tooth fairy but round earth not so much. 100% think full term human beings women should die at the hands of a quack dark alley abortionist rather that terminate their own pregnancy within their own body. There must be one Republican of intellect somewhere? Where?

Republicans want abstinence for all except them. What utter garbage. Read my lips: NO ONE but NO ONE can have an easy time denying sexuality. Just ask a few thousand priests if abstinence worked for them. God, if there is one, must shake his head in utter disgust. Of course, Democrats commit their own sexual indiscretions but at least that party does not base its very foundation on sexual morality wanting to deny women control of their own body, creating the virginity police or hoping that homosexuals would just die, be sent to prison or become their kind of Christian.

The Republican party needs to think very seriously about just what morality is. How about morality being about feeding the poor and, clothing the naked and not giving no bid contracts to Halliburton? How about clean government not dedicated to running rough shod over the little guy and not giving tax breaks to billionaires? Oh yes, and how about not bombing the living hell out of countries which did not attack us? Maybe that would gain us some friends and actually prevent another 9/11. Did ja ever think of that? Somebody, I forget who .. probably me, said "a little kindness in public and foreign policy goes a long way." I hope all these Republicans who have committed sexual hypocrisy not to mention the scads of other scandals they have perpetrated within the most corrupt administration in US history, get their due. Maybe then I will REALLY believe there is a God!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Indict Rove: How much is it going to take to place Karl Rove under indictment? He is, I believe, guilty of so much wrongdoing I have lost count. He was involved in the outing of the CIA agent, the firing of the US attorneys, he conducted political business from the White House on the people's time flouting the Hatch Act. 3 million emails between him and others concerning the firing of the USA eight have been oh so conveniently lost. It is staggering.

Yet he walks free with a Cheshire smirk on his face probably laughing every night about how he gets away with everything, frustrating the attempts of those who want honest government. The accusations and suspicions are alleged every day and nothing is done. The Democrats investigate and subpoena but they are ignored by this administration. It has, I think, become a waiting game until the most corrupt, politically and morally bankrupt administration in US history is finally out of the public domain. If all the egregious things that have been done by Republicans, including a laundry list of Republican congressional scandals, were committed by a Democratic administration you KNOW there would have been hell to pay. The Republicans impeached Clinton for SO much less.

Rove is symbolic of just how low and how immoral government can go. I need my faith in government restored. I want an indictment, trial and ultimate conviction of Karl Rove and the impeachment and conviction of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Richard Cheney and George W. Bush for the highest of unconstitutional crimes including most emphatically high treason by taking this country to war under false pretenses, murdering 3300 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, destroying a country, ignoring the Geneva Conventions through torturing, suspending habeas corpus, conducting warrantless wiretaps, outing a CIA agent and depleting this country of huge amounts of its treasure. It's time to hold those accountable for the perpetration of the most heinous crimes in US history so that future presidents and administrations will know there is a limit to their power!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Wolfowitz's World: I do not understand why justice almost never prevails. How do the rich and the powerful get away with so much carnage and unethical behavior so often and in plain sight? How are they allowed with ease to run rough shod over the weak and vulnerable? Reports now are that World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz did not consult the ethics panel of the World Bank according to the panel's former chairman, Mr. Melkert, before Mr. Wolfowitz set up his girlfriend with a sweet money package and job deal even though Mr. Wolfowitz said he did consult it. Could it be that Mr. Wolfowitz is lying? Is that possible? I jest, of course. The question: is anything else possible from a man who was one of the premier architects of the biggest military catastrophe, fraud, waste of life and treasure in the history of this country. That war we now know was based on lies ... often his lies and Neocon fantasy.

Mr. Wolfowitz -- supported by the Bush administration -- is telling the World Bank that he consulted its ethics panel. Mr. Melkert former chairman of the World Bank's ethics panel says differently. Waxing chicheish, in view of Mr. Wolfowitz's past behavior, I wouldn't trust Paul Wolfowitz as far as I could throw him. I'd put my money on Mr. Melkert's ability to tell the truth.

Paul Wolfowitz yet again has committed immoral behavior. He did it vis-a-vie Iraq. Why shouldn't he do it with respect to his unethical behavior at the World Bank? Character counts. Clearly he and his ilk have little. For once, could real morality, truth and justice prevail? Paul Wolfolwitz should be fired and the World Bank should never exonerate him!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"The Children of Men" -- a review: The more I thought about "Children of Men" the more I loved it. The DVD discussion by the director and others certainly helped to get a clearer understanding of the director's intent. It is a supremely Orwellian film, bleak and violent, which had much to say about the nature of man and culture. It is a film that begs for discussion. The somewhat simple story of the film cannot be divorced from the complexity of its landscape. Each would be nothing without the other and special attention should be paid to the movie's setting.

The movie takes place in the not-too-distant future making technological chaos a part of its surroundings. It centers on the world's inability to generate children, its lack of ability to understand why and the consequences this has for the disintegration of population, culture, history and life itself. The bleak surroundings of decay are omnipresent. It is testament, I think, to what happens when constant war and anarchy prevail. Society deconstructs. In society's vain attempt to perpetuate and sustain itself through repressive force it does neither. Stability is always elusive. One social and political philosophy is like another and the only thing left for the state to do is to perpetuate its media driven lies in some withering attempt to maintain order through tyranny. No one has the answer even though some think they do. The less powerful, of course, succumb to the Darwinian forces of nature. It is dinosaurian. If one force doesn't kill there is always another right around the corner which will. There is no rhyme or reason to it all. Humanity is prostrate before forces no one can control and man is at the mercy of other men and fate itself.

This movie poses many interrogatives. What happens to human society when biological or socially catastrophic events interfere with the natural orderly progression of life? How do humans adapt and survive or can they adapt at all? What happens when chaos reigns and people are in a constant state of war and anarchy? If social conflict is perpetual are human beings inclined toward constructing a totalitarian state? Who suffers and why? Is utopia a possibility ... ever? Is there hope?

This film, I thought, was phenomenally relevant to the world in which we find ourselves. Perhaps, it is a film for all seasons as well. It could apply to Nazi Germany to Bosnia, to Lebanon, Darfur and most certainly to Iraq or, indeed, to any place which is prey to biological and other catastrophic events which give rise to chaos. The author perceptively places this film in Britain. I think this says it could apply to western culture as well IF we do not stop those forces which are brewing a perfect storm of biological catastrophe and social fracture. The very survival of life as we know it on our planet is at stake.

This film, although it is quite starkly bleak, does offer some hope through the only woman in the world who is pregnant. Amid this primordial social ooze and against all odds she attempts, with the help of one man, to save her infant’s life. One must be patient and wait to see if there is an ultimate ray of light at the end of the tunnel. I recommend this film highly to those who want entertainment through serious thought provoking art.