Friday, February 29, 2008

The Jewish Question about Obama: I will support Barak Obama if he is the Democratic nominee. I am also Jewish. I have heard some in the Jewish community express to me some reservation about supporting Senator Obama because of the tangential support he has received from those like Louis Farrakhan who are thought to be anti-Semites. It, admittedly, too, gives me pause that Senator Obama was for twenty years affiliated with a particular church which employed Pastor Wright as its minister. Pastor Wright has issued gobs of praise for Louis Farrakhan, a man who called Judaism a "gutter religion."

I sometimes believe the organizations one joins tells me something about a person's character. The United Church of Christ, Senator Obama's church, generally is and has been, in my opinion, a force for good. Occasionally, though the more progressive churches have been, unfortunately, sympathetic to Islamic political causes, are anti Israel and by extension sometimes anti-Semitic. This, admittedly, bothers me.

However, I will take Senator Obama at his word which he gave in the last debate when he said he not only denounces Louis Farrakhan he rejects him as well. I cannot imagine Senator Obama would go back on what he has said. One can never be sure, though, of any candidate's policies once he is elected president and can do what he wants. Israel's position is precarious and its very existence is at risk. The Jewish people, a small but historically besieged minority in the world, are once again, it seems eternally, threatened. I am hoping Barak Obama if the nominee and if elected president will have more credence in the Arab world which, I believe, could actually help not harm the Jewish state.

I am always concerned about the true sentiments of the possible and, perhaps, probable next president of the most powerful nation on earth. I hope the Senator does not disappoint me. If Barak Obama is the nominee I will, of course, without question, vote for him. I trust his veracity but as a Jew history has taught that I be always vigilant.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Letter to Senator Obama


I am an Obama supporter and I am also Jewish. I have heard some in the Jewish community express some reservation about Barak Obama. I try to quell their fears. Having said that there is no question that any support whatsoever of a Louis Farrakhan would be problematic for me. I will take Senator Obama at his word which he gave at the last debate and even though he used the term "minister" Farrakhan, a term of respect, in reference to Louis Farrakhan, I believe Senator Obama when he says he not only denounces Louis Farrakhan he rejects him.

It is possible Louis Farrakhan wanted some press and took this opportunity to try to matter after being removed from the political scene for quite some time. The press, of course, because Louis Farrakhan is so controversial wants to stir the pot. It does make me a bit uneasy, though, that Senator Obama was for twenty years affiliated with that particular church which employed Pastor Wright as its minister. Pastor Wright has issued gobs of praise for Louis Farrakhan.

I sometimes believe the organizations -- or religious affiliations -- tell something about a person underneath it all. The United Church of Christ generally is and has been, in my opinion, a force for humanitarian causes and a force for good. Occasionally, though the more progressive churches have been, unfortunately, sympathetic to Islamic fundamentalist political sentiments. This bothers me.

I cannot imagine Senator Obama would go back on what he says but I am not assured of that even for Senator Obama once he is elected president. Israel's position is precarious and its very existence is at risk. The Jewish people, a small minority in the world, are once again, it seems eternally, threatened. I am hoping the Senator will continue to avidly support the State of Israel's existence and not only work for peace but actually achieve it. It is one (among many) reasons I support Senator Obama. I feel that he may have more credence in the Arab world which would actually help not harm the Jewish state.

My politics and my being have been shaped by the Holocaust. In my opinion, it is the single most important historical event of the 20th century, indeed, in all of history and certainly in the history of the Jewish people. Everything I am and everything I believe relates to it in some way so naturally I am concerned about the true sentiments of the possible and, indeed, probable next president of the most powerful country on earth. I hope the Senator does not disappoint me. If the Senator is the nominee I will, of course, vote for him without question. I trust his veracity but as a Jew I am always vigilant.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This was a response to a Beth Daley article on the benefits and draw backs to using florescent mercury laden energy efficient light bulbs:

I am on the side of green. I have used a few fluorescent (mercury laden) light bulbs but after reading your article, it is hard to fathom how advocates for using these bulbs think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The precautions one has to take if a florescent bulb breaks reminded me of something Homeland Security said to do if a terrorist uses poison gas. It made me think of duck and cover which we were told to do in the 1950's to safeguard ourselves from a nuclear blast. Those were ridiculous precautions that are laughable now. Now really, cutting carpet away, using rubber gloves, opening windows and using duct tape are some of the precautions one must take if a fluorescent light bulb breaks? Has anyone ever cleaned up after a glass has shattered? Cleaning up is not in slow motion. Do you think when we buy a light bulb anyone is thinking about using duct tape if it breaks? And what if a child breaks it and we do not even realize it's broken. All that time the child is inhaling mercury gas.

It's bad enough what we need to think about if there is, God forbid, another terrorist attack let alone using intense precautions cleaning up after a light bulb breaks. What if we happen not to have any rubber gloves, masks, duct tape or if we forget to open a window. My goodness it's a light bulb for God's sake.

Let me know when the geniuses who made these mercury-infused florescent light bulbs make one without mercury. Until then, sorry, no matter how green I am, it's the incandescent light bulb for me!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The McCain Mess: I cannot imagine the New York Times would put forward a story on John McCain of this magnitude which could potentially sink a nomination or derail an election without making darn well sure that it had the absolute proof positive truth that an affair and its attendant quid pro quo behavior existed. Then again I believed George Bush when he said the evidence is in about WMD in Iraq.

This NYT story if not true could be bad for a Democratic candidate as well, as the extreme right wing marches in lock step behind their Republican cause. If the NYT is seen by them as purposefully subverting the election of the Republican nominee it could, incredulously to me, force them to unite even behind a man they do not support. I doubt it will do that but it could. It is time for the New York Times to in some way show its hand and reassure its readers that they would not be so stupid as to report on something like this with spurious evidence!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Jeff Jacoby's editorial in the Sunday Globe talked about one of Barak Obama's (likened to JFK) campaign workers who hung a picture of Che Guevara in one of his campaign offices. Che, of course, was a violent revolutionary, Castro's philosophical mentor and cohort. JFK hated Che Guevara. Barak came out tepidly against the action of his campaign worker. Jacoby thought Barak's response was not emphatic enough. I wrote a letter to the Globe about it.


Jeff Jacoby's article "What Would JFK Do?" was thought provoking. He is right if someone in John McCain's campaign had a picture of David Duke or the KKK there would be hell to pay although I do remember someone named Santorum who proudly displayed the stars and bars. I remember working for a Republican State Committee in the late 60's. Curious to me at the time because I was an ardent Democrat, I met some wonderful people at the Committee about whom I still think fondly. Many were kind, loving and humane people who were very nice to me. There were others of the rank and file, though, whom I met who secretly harbored love of their right wing fascist heroes. One young man it was told to me threw a wreath upon the water during Hitler's birthday. How could such different types occupy the same group? The fact is each side of the political spectrum has its extremists.

Although the philosophical underpinning of extreme left wing politics is allegedly egalitarian and humane those who take power through violent means are often anything but that. Many such as Stalin, Che, Castro, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jong IL and others are/were brutal killers wrapped up in a Marxist blanket which is not warm and fuzzy. Why some of the left make excuses, look the other way and remain uncritical of them is something that is hard for me to fathom. Likened often to JFK, Barak Obama, while always defending free expression, should come out vociferously against a campaign worker hanging a picture of Che Guevara in one of his headquarters.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A reasonable woman: The interview of Susan Jacoby and the discussion about her book "The Age of American Unreason" was one of the most interesting in the Bill Moyers series. I believe the most serious issue our nation is facing is the utterly stunning mind numbing ignorance of our people. The film clip shown of American young people on a game show not knowing that the country Hungary exists at all or thinking that Europe is an entire country is staggering. The discussion illuminated that many in our country do not even know that there are nine justices on our own Supreme Court, still believe the earth is the center of the universe and that angels are truth made me both incredulous and want to cry. Not only should our people know there are nine justices on our highest court they should be able to name them and understand the political issues surrounding the Court's decisions. It it so serious because these are the people who elect those who would influence our country's policies. These are the people I entrust with my safety. These people are the present and the future of our country. I cannot fathom when presented with simple questions of geography, science or history how stunning the lack of knowledge is. How did this happen?

I believe this ignorance is not only the fault of our educational system but is endemic in our history. There has been and is a thread of anti-intellectualism sewn within the fabric of our culture. Although our Founding Fathers were men of intellect, much of our historical dialog has catered to men who were not. Whether in the historical populism of an Andrew Jackson, the fiery sentiments of a William Jennings Bryan or, in modern times, the mind boggling cerebral and expressive incapability of a George W. Bush, there has been a large strain in American politics and populism which appeals to ignorance. It has run through the course of nearly our entire history.

I almost cannot read the arguments touting creationism. It is like saying it is okay to think that spirits cause disease. Some may believe in the germ theory of infection but others think that a spirit causes infection so let's debate it. No, let's not debate it. Bacteria and viruses cause infection and spirits do not. Facts rule. The case should be closed but it is not.

Evolution is the very foundation of science. It is NOT contextually debatable within belief of creationism. If we do not accept or understand its truth our ability to find cures for cancer, the nature of immunological resistance to infection and, indeed, to understand the origins of our species is fatally diminished. We will be relegated to a mindless prison forever mired in a Middle Age like philosophy when it was in the interest of the religious authority to keep mankind ignorant so their own power which married church and state could prevail.

I believe nearly all the problems we face as a nation are etched in and can be traced to this mindless tyranny which does not allow reason to triumph. This is not only deadly for our country but for the entire world as one can see how man is stuck in belief systems which cannot be verified and which contain little truth. These beliefs and the lack of critical thinking of them are responsible for the divisions in our society and these beliefs are responsible for the ultimate massacring of millions. I hope everyone will find the time to read Susan Jacoby's book "The Age of American Unreason." Her views are rational, reasonable and prescient. I believe, they could save the world.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An article appeared in Newsweek entitled:
The Secret Haters
It posits the following question:

Some experts say that even the most politically correct among us may harbor unconscious prejudices against ethnic groups, women, gays and others. Can these dark impulses shape our actions?

I commented on their blog the following:




Generally, I think people are inclined to want to associate and imbue with power those whom they perceive to be a member of their own group. There are many preconceived notions which we learn about other groups who are not like we are. This, in fact, may be subconscious or even be woven into our genetic tapestry instructing us to do so. Having said that, however, it is not beyond the capacity of man, when he sees proof to the contrary, to invalidate or overrule a previously held belief because he knows those beliefs to be untrue. It helps to know that we are, each and every one, related to each other through a journey which began out of Africa. Our mitochondrial DNA proves that over and over again. The superficialities of skin color, sexual orientation, disability, sex or age in reality are small variables. Nonetheless, in the history of our species, they have loomed large.

In previous centuries everyone took for granted that the sun revolved around the earth. It still SEEMS that it does except science has categorically proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the earth and its celestial cousins revolve around the sun. We must override the error of our ways because in this era science more and more is proving our previous beliefs were just that ... beliefs. Facts tell us a different story. We should act accordingly even if it is ever-so-difficult to do.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Have patience: I wrote this on an HBO blog which is devoted to thoughts about its new excellent series called "In Treatment." If you haven't begun to watch this you should. It is fascinating programming. It involves one half hour psychotherapy segments of four different patients of Paul, a psychotherapist. It takes place every day from 9:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on HBO. There is limited glitz to this show but I think it is supremely riveting. If you missed episodes you can retrieve them by going to HBO Series and you can even concentrate on just one of the patients if you choose. I enjoy all of them. Each one is unique. You can concentrate on Paul too who has his own session with his own psychotherapist/supervisor/friend (and maybe intimate friend), played by Diane Wiest.This is a summary of my initial feeling when the question posed was who was the bloggers' favorite patient.

Paul is my favorite patient. This show brings up so many issues. The one that permeates my thoughts is the question of what is therapy. How does a therapist learn or develop technique and does the traditional form of uncovering layers of personality so the patient has revelatory experiences which are supposed to transform their life really WORK? Do patients feel better as the therapist guides them to that end?

When one goes to a doctor, for example, for diabetes there are ways of treating a patient that we KNOW work. This is not so for the biology of the mind. We know so little about how it works and why it is so different from other organs and DIFFICULT to treat to make people change their behavior or make them feel "better."

I never understood what therapy actually does accomplish and why SO many people feel so negatively about so many therapists and why so many therapists are SO bad. My guess is traditional therapy, as we have come to understand part of it, simply does not help much and maybe does some harm because many therapists (not all of course) do not know what in hell they are doing or what to say to make the patient feel better and may even make them feel worse. Therapy really is not a science.

In my opinion, the only thing that SEEMS to work a little better or perhaps somewhat more predictably -- even then it surely is not perfect -- is treating mental or emotional illness pharmacologically. This, however, is FRAUGHT with problems as medications are thrown into a hat and chosen wily nilly to see what works. Sometimes the medication(s) work, sometimes for only a little while and sometimes not at all. Sometimes, the side effects can be too much to bear and can even be fatal.

PBS radio broadcast a great segment interviewing an author named Jonah Leher who wrote a book entitled "Proust was a Neuroscientist." This book links the creative and emotional part of the brain with its biochemistry. It was fascinating and reinforced the complexity of our most mysterious organ and its emotional and artistic relationship to science.

I wonder in this program what Paul trying to do and does he even know what to do or say when his patients throw an emotional cacophony in his presence. His own life, too, is such a mixture of emotions which are diffuse and explosive. It's hard to know if HE or ANY therapist has their own house in order or if they do not how on earth they could help anyone else with theirs.

Having said all of that, for me, however, Paul, has become the most interesting character. His confusion and relationship with HIS own therapist/supervisor is absorbing as he has at least SOME insight and can talk about SOME of his feelings a bit more easily than his patients. Other times, though, he is similar to his own patients in that he simply will not face that which assaults his equilibrium. This makes for an interesting brew.

This show is EXCELLENT and presents an oasis of programming in a sewer of disgusting, irrelevant, stupid, inane, profane, and brutal television which occupies a large segment of time in so many lives. What a better nation we would be if many more switched from American Idol to this.



Paul is my favorite patient. This show brings up so many issues. The one that permeates my thoughts is the question of what is therapy. How does a therapist learn or develop technique and does the traditional form of uncovering layers of personality so the patient has revelatory experiences which are supposed to transform their life really WORK? Do patients feel better as the therapist guides them to that end?

When one goes to a doctor, for example, for diabetes there are ways of treating a patient that we KNOW work. This is not so for the biology of the mind. We know so little about how it works and why it is so different from other organs and DIFFICULT to treat to make people change their behavior or make them feel "better."

I never understood what therapy actually does accomplish and why SO many people feel so negatively about so many therapists and why so many therapists are SO bad. My guess is traditional therapy, as we have come to understand part of it, simply does not help much and maybe does some harm because many therapists (not all of course) do not know what in hell they are doing or what to say to make the patient feel better and may even make them feel worse. Therapy really is not a science.

In my opinion, the only thing that SEEMS to work a little better or perhaps somewhat more predictably -- even then it surely is not perfect -- is treating mental or emotional illness pharmacologically. This, however, is FRAUGHT with problems as medications are thrown into a hat and chosen wily nilly to see what works. Sometimes the medication(s) work, sometimes for only a little while and sometimes not at all. Sometimes, the side effects can be too much to bear and can even be fatal.

PBS radio broadcast a great segment interviewing an author named Jonah Leher who wrote a book entitled "Proust was a Neuroscientist." This book links the creative and emotional part of the brain with its biochemistry. It was fascinating and reinforced the complexity of our most mysterious organ and its emotional and artistic relationship to science.

I wonder in this program what Paul trying to do and does he even know what to do or say when his patients throw an emotional cacophony in his presence. His own life, too, is such a mixture of emotions which are diffuse and explosive. It's hard to know if HE or ANY therapist has their own house in order or if they do not how on earth they could help anyone else with theirs.

Having said all of that, for me, however, Paul, has become the most interesting character. His confusion and relationship with HIS own therapist/supervisor is absorbing as he has at least SOME insight and can talk about SOME of his feelings a bit more easily than his patients. Other times, though, he is similar to his own patients in that he simply will not face that which assaults his equilibrium. This makes for an interesting brew.

This show is EXCELLENT and presents an oasis of programming in a sewer of disgusting, irrelevant, stupid, inane, profane, and brutal television which occupies a large segment of time in so many lives. What a better nation we would be if many more switched from American Idol to this.