Monday, November 30, 2009

A New Psychological Malady: World Anxiety Disorder -- the Remedy? A Paradigm Shift: As if the world could not get any more precarious and anxiety ridden, follow closely the MSNBC news story "DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Dubai's main stock exchange dropped more than 7 percent and Abu Dhabi markets slid more than 8 percent on the first day of trading in the United Arab Emirates since officials went public that conglomerate Dubai World was struggling with its $60 billion in debts." This is completely worrisome for the entire globe. If that part of the world sneezes it makes me want to hide under the covers. It goes on to state: "The drop eclipsed the declines seen in world markets last week after Dubai officials on Wednesday announced that Dubai World, the emirate's chief investment and development engine for years, would seek a six-month delay in paying creditors. The news stoked fears that the conglomerate — and the emirate's — debt woes could be a symptom of broader financial instability elsewhere in a still fragile world economy."

This in tandem with a trillion other variables makes the Afghanistan decision loom in importance.

Moreover, in Uruguay a very left of center candidate won the election. His name is Mujica. Who cares about Uruguay? We should. It's in our own back yard and is another thermometer for where that part of the world with Venezuela (oil) and Cuba could lean ALTHOUGH Mujica seems like a different left wing variety as he claims to eschew the typical blabber of the left AND the right. He is very popular now. It can be a yardstick for how many South American countries will be vociferous and active against right wing dictatorships in that part of the world as we historically have just loved them.

We need, in my opinion, of course, a paradigm shift of values as a lot of handwriting is on a lot of walls. Our historical policies have often come back to seriously bite us as there are things we cannot control. We need to take note of the various canaries in various coal mines.

Again, Obama's greatest legacy, in my opinion, COULD be this paradigm shift of values taking great care as to the nature of the regimes across the world with whom we bed down.
The cause of 9/11?: Some historians have said that US misadventures in the Middle East have sewn the seeds of destruction. For example, and there are many of them, the US rid Iran of Mosadeq, a democratically elected leader because he wanted to nationalize Iranian oil and the US put the Shah in as his replacement. He was hated and overthrown hence the Ayatola Khomnei and radical Islam a true adversary and threat.

There are many instances of the US propping up corrupt governments such as Pakistan's Musharaf because that part of the world has our and everyone else's life blood...oil. We have bobbed and weaved a curious pattern. Some have suggested that 9/11 was a reaction to that i.e. an anger simmering for decades. It is a precarious balance of power and without being directly involved in state department politics it is hard to assess the true realities. I simply, often, admittedly do not know.

I am now reassessing my own opinion. In one of my opinions I talk about a path not taken which is sometimes irremediable. I do not know if this country MUST do what I think the President is going to tell us it must. I do not now really know. The President is entrusted with the awesome task of protecting the country which means all of our lives. I want to hear, of course, what he says Tuesday night addressing this life and death policy issue. I would not want to stand in his shoes and have such dominion over who shall live and who shall not.

Perhaps, there is no other way of protecting this nation AND MOST IMPORTANTLY the nuclear arms of Pakistan. THAT is the true worry as I see it. If the Taliban were to take over Afghanistan again they could have access to Pakistan's nukes as Pakistan is utterly fragmented since Musharaf stepped down, Bhutto was assassinated and her husband Zadari took over but is steeped in legal trouble.

It's a mess, upon a mess upon a mess which is why General Colin Powell said if you break it (meaning Iraq) you own it. The invasion of Iraq has destabilized the entire region. I suspect the President wants to keep a lid on a potential Vesuvian eruption in Pakistan and also keep Afghanistan from harboring Al Qaeda training grounds once again.

Monday morning quarterbacking is easy but I do it anyway. If I had the power to turn back the clock I would never want Iraq invaded as they posed a buffer power which hated Iran. I would as we almost did get bin laden in Tora Bora...we had him and it was stopped. Why? My suspicion based on no known fact is that Iraq was Bush's baby and he wanted it at all costs. Why again? There are many theories but suffice it to say he did.

Right in the beginning of the invasion of Afghanistan we rid it of the Taliban and had Bin Laden cornered in Tora Bora. Then he hid in the torturous region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. That ball was dropped to invade Iraq. To say that was bad policy is an understatement but what to do when we have to play the ball where it lies is the hardest decision of all.

Sometimes, existentially, there truly is no way out.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

War -- the Exception to American Exceptionalism: This is a response I sent to a relative who has a blog. It was a blog in which she stated our values must change so national health care can be a reality and so money is not wasted on our huge military. It was a very good blog. I sent the following response to her. It is not as well written as I would have liked but it gets, I think, the point across.:

What you say has truth and validity. I THOUGHT I was getting that with our president. I thought I was getting VALUES, human values and not just platitudes or speeches well delivered. I THOUGHT I was getting health reform and that the public option was imperative; couldn’t be health care without it. That’s what I thought I was getting.

The word on the street is that our president is committing 36 thousand more troops to Afghanistan. No shock he said Afghanistan was so much more important than Iraq. It was. Emphasis on WAS. Will that be enough? No OF COURSE NOT.. so then it will be 20 more thousand troops, will that be enough of COURSE NOT then it’s 40 thousand more troops until he hands off to the next administration if he does not win 2012 (which he may, in fact, not win unless Republicans stay divided as we hope they do) an Afghanistan of probably well over 100,000 troops. Sound eerily Vietnamish familiar? You BETCHA it does. How much will this cost until it stops IF it stops? Answer: TRILLIONS. If you ask an “average” American what he/she would want more health care or WINNING war I am so certain that the popular answer would be WINNING war IF honesty prevailed.

This country LOVES to win war. They don’t like to lose war or sustain casualties or look at flag draped caskets or look at the slaughter of innocents from our bunker busting bombs but they LOVE WINNING WAR. As long as the powers that be (Obama included) tell them that war is winnable, a light at the tunnel can be seen and it is oh so necessary and cannot be done ANY other way … NO PROBLEM here’s more money for more troops and more war. Congress worries about being labeled unpatriotic don’tcha know. Face it despite the shining city on the hill BS that we are fed from birth, despite the bull pucky of American exceptionalism, the true reason we go to war is why? Because we like it!

How many wars since WWII have we been involved? When you know this you will know why a public option will NEVER pass. We love war MORE MUCH MORE than we love healing our sick and our poor. It’s really as simple as that. Values? What values? At the risk of vulgarity: Values other than the value of more war is a load of horse sh*% . Here are the numbers of wars our country has been in since WWII:

Second World War (1941-1945)
Korean War (1950-1953)
Lebanon crisis (1958)
Bay of Pigs Invasion (1961)
Dominican Intervention (1965)
Vietnam War (1957-1975)
Operation Eagle Claw (1980)
Grenada Conflict (1983)
Beirut Confict (1982-1984)
Panama Invaison (1989)
Persian Gulf War (1990-1991)
Somolia: Operation Restore Hope (1992-1993)
Kosovo War (1996-1999)
Yugoslavia Conflict (1999)
War on Terrorism (2001–present)
War in Afghanistan (2001-present)
Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines (2002)
Liberia peacekeeping (2003)
Iraq War (2003-present)

The list prior to WWII is too huge to post here but you can go to the link below to find the answer to that. It MAY… I say MAY astound you. Change our values? What are you smoking?

Monday, November 23, 2009

I wrote to Neil Swidey in response to his article in the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine entitled "Where's the poetry, Mr. President?"

I have VERY mixed emotions about Obama so far. The glow has gone out of his presidency, in my opinion. I do NOT like what I am seeing and I am sorely disappointed on many fronts. Time will tell as to how inspiring his presidency will be and how historians will view it. It is surely better than the alternative but, sadly, I think I will never see what I have always wanted to see and what my parents did see -- an FDR (flaws and all). Here is what I wrote.

Mr. Swidey: I agree with your article in the Sunday, Nov. 22 Globe Magazine. I have been an ardent Obama supporter. I have been moved to tears by some of his speeches especially the ones to which you refered. His win after Iowa made me become an ecstatic supporter and what I felt I wrote in a letter to the NYT which was printed.

Throughout the year, however, almost from his inauguration which held some disappointments such as the invitation to Rick Warren to speak, I have been feeling that something is missing. Something seems not quite right. Your article seemed to hit the proverbial nail on the head. The poetry has gone out of his speeches and a dull prose has taken its place. I worry that he is not what I thought he was. What happened? What went wrong? Why am I feeling this way? Since the inauguration my response when people ask my opinion about him is I simply do not know. People say he is so bright, people say he is so deliberative and yet he is doing things that the Barack Obama I knew and loved I thought he would never do.

I take issue with his economic team, I take issue with his possible escalation of war, I take issue with his anemic support of those who were his most ardent supporters. Moreover, I have not seen him run strongly with the public option ball. As a matter of fact he downright waffled on what he said was the most important aspect of health care. Where is the dynamism, where are the speeches that left me breathless? Where was the FDR for whom I yearned in contemporary time. I was thrilled and inspired when at Grant Park after his victory the earth seemed to move. It seemed a new America was born; an America I knew and an America I loved. It seemed the long dark Bush nightmare was over and we had America back again. And then, it stopped. The Wall Street economic team was chosen, transparency took a back seat, no accountability for the most egregious Bush illegal acts occurred. To the contrary holdovers from the Bush administration were selected for cabinet posts, hands reached out to Republicans who would not reach back. We heard birthers, death panels and the most vicious white racism with wingnuts carrying GUNS to where a president was speaking. It all went unaddressed by the man to whom those vicious slurs were addressed. Barack Obama seemed to go silent just when our liberal causes needed him to be the most vociferous. Where is he? I don't know.

Maybe he works behind the scenes, maybe there is more to it then my eye far away from Washington can see. The light that was Barack Obama for me has dimmed. You are right to ask where is the poetry? I would love to know if you find the answer to that. Globe Magazine article below.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Deja vu all over again: If you have not already done so I suggest viewing PBS Bill Moyers Journal and the LBJ tapes as LBJ agonizingly wrestles with the decision whether or not to send more troops to Vietnam. The similarities of Vietnam to Afghanistan are staggering complete with other powers losing in that murderous terrain long before we arrived on the scene. The generals and the Pentagon thinkers do their thinking, the grunts do the dirty work and come back in coffins. Usually it is NOT the policy makers whose sons end up horrifically disabled or dead.

It is, in my opinion, a question of CHANGING once and for all the national psyche from a nation which, in its geographical isolation, loves war and loves winning war to a country that will declare war and wage war ONLY when absolutely existentially necessary. Our country from afar sees war like a football game but does not want to see the blood and guts hanging out of its soldiers during war or experience what it means to lose a war and what it does to the national will.

Our country is falling apart at home. We simply cannot afford more war. We have no money and no more national will to fight it. Our soldiers we do have are whipped serving sometimes four and five tours of duty which is bone crushing. We do not even have enough troops if we were, God forbid, threatened anywhere else including at home. If President Obama will not pull our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and send NO more I believe we are among the doomed. We will be in a state of perpetual endless war forever. We can never sustain that.

The man who should have been president, John Kerry, was 100% correct. Terrorism should be fought as a police action with intelligence and particular strikes with special forces at the right time and right place but NOT with thousands or hundreds of thousands of troops on the ground 7000 miles away in an alien place with no end in sight. The Iraq War was nothing short of devastating to our military at best and illegal at worst. Yet again, the American people fail to learn history, fail to understand the polices that emanate from the leaders it elects who never have to bear the burden physically or monetarily.

We won OUR own revolution because the British could not keep up a force across the sea fighting a group who knew the terrain and had the WILL behind their existential cause. It matters whether a fighting force has conviction or not. A draft would mean drafting men (and now women too) in a country which would never countenance that. It will NEVER be done, over time, successfully with simply a volunteer army ... EVER.

I only wish Bill Moyers could have convinced LBJ, within whose administration he worked, of the folly that was Vietnam and now I hope someone shows this segment to President Obama so history does not eerily repeat itself all over again!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obama's Afghanistan Objective: In my opinion, the main US objective for Afghanistan has absolutely nothing to do with Hamid Karzai. I do not give a whit about the Karzai regime or ANY regime that the tyrannical, corrupt and opium driven Afghanistan power structure can invent. I do not care about turning a tradition, steeped in thousands of years of tribal warfare, into a Jeffersonian democracy. That is an impossible task. I do not care about oil, I do not care about a balance of fragmented Middle East power, and I do not even care about the inhumanities inflicted on the Afghans by their own people including 1/2 of their population, women. I do not care about these things not because I am inhumane but because this country simply CANNOT do it all.

What I DO care about is the safety and security of the American people and that is the ONLY thing about which I have ever cared. If Obama were president on 9/11 his main effort would have been devoted to striking those who struck us, getting Bin Laden, which he would probably have done, and wiping out bases from whence the attack was nurtured and honed. It would not have been war with Iraq.

It is impossible now because of the wasted time in Iraq to wipe out the tidal wave of Taliban in Afghanistan, ensure the stability of a corrupt Karzai regime or to eliminate the opium trade that sustains the Afghan economy. None of that is worth ONE more American life. What is worth life is keeping a laser-like eye on the wells from whence Bin Laden or those like him could spring to launch another attack. This is true NOT only for Afghanistan but it is true all over the world. Committing thousands more American troops to Afghanistan or anywhere else will do nothing but erode our military even more than it is today and risk subjecting our country to endless, intractable, and permanent war which could propel us to ruin.

We need to regroup, use what we have now in our technological and intelligence arsenal, invent NEW technologies, secure our borders and stay out of visual presence in the Muslim world. We need to wage a smart war, removed from Muslim populations by using technologies and intelligence which can, already do and, in the future, will keep us safe without returning to another Vietnamesque quagmire with all of its collateral damage inflicted on innocents.

This nation cannot afford more war -- not in troops, certainly not in treasure, and not in the hearts and minds of our OWN people much less in the hearts and minds of most of the Islamic world.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lost in the Wilderness: Concerning MDN November 14 editorial response "Letter: GOP not lost in the wilderness." I submit both parties are "lost in the wilderness." It is not an anti-Republican party nor an anti-Democratic party but an anti INCUMBENT party which is catching on. Independents, some Democrats and many Republicans loath the way Washington runs its sluggish digestive system. It gets little done and is reduced to constant tugs of war between the culture warriors and earmark warriors with the stalemate of the archaic tyrannical FILIBUSTER in their arsenal. The stew has been thick with argument and indolence. There MUST be a better way to collect and spend the people's money so it is not subject to the waste, fraud, abuse and stalemate that has been Congress's legacy for decades.

There must be STRICT meaningful campaign finance reform taking the corporate pigs out of the trough swallowing our money whole and buying the entire congress with few exceptions. I want to know how come the bank CEO'S who put us into this mess got bonuses, did swimmingly and are now vacationing on yachts in Tahiti doing, according to Golman's CEO, God's work? I want to know why the president put Goldman Sachs graduates Geithner, Summers, and others -- the penultimate foxes who ate our chickens -- guarding the next chicken coup. How did Geithner who did not pay his taxes get to lord over TRILLIONS of our tax dollars? How come necessary strict investment bank regulation is pilloried by some and shot with loopholes in favor of, naturally, the banks? Until the congressional pigs are not bought off and in bed with the corporate swine making babies, the American public will continue to swap economically one similar party for the other.

Moreover, why are some of the most middle class and vulnerable people DUPED into thinking the Republican Party is about them? It's NOT. It is about representing billionaires and its driving force includes mean, nearly all white, exclusionary, irrational religious fanatics who are taking it to the brink of demise. It is choked by social conservative mostly religious view points which have been a controlling albatross around a Republican party's neck exterminating moderates within that party who have credible conservative viewpoints, including church/state separation based on rational thought, fact and not a dizzying array of mythological fantasy.

Both parties need to rid themselves of those forces holding the rest of middle America, blue collar America and jobless America down, and truly create a government FOR the people not against them!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I think I just fainted: Okay it's not marriage I know but still who would have thought the below link involving the Mormon church coming out (so to speak) against discrimination of homosexuals in employment and housing would ever happen? I had to rub my eyes and pinch myself to see if I was dreaming.

Victor Hugo: "Nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

I wrote this in response to the November 7, 2009 Boston Globe editorial.

A Speech Impediment: I am an unequivocal Obama supporter. Having said that the editorial in the November 7, 2009 Globe "Obama's delayed empathy" had credence. I watched as the events of Ft. Hood unfolded and waited impatiently for the president's response and words of comfort about it. I, too, was disappointed at the president's slow-to-issue remarks and surprised as the Globe editorial noticed the same thing. The moment I waited for, as he stepped to the podium of the Tribal Nations Conference, I thought, fell extraordinarily short. I, too, could not believe how long it took the president to speak directly to the grave Ft. Hood events.

In his defense, perhaps, the president thought he did not want to short change those attending a Tribal Nations Conference hosted by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs by making an American military issue more important than their own. It has happened that the American government has done just that and worse to native Americans throughout its history.

However, he is our president and I too picked up on what I thought was this gaping flaw in the president's speech. Barack, we hardly know ye. At times it seems I don't know you at all.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Response to Jeff Jacoby the Globe resident "conservative" about his column today on health care.

So Jeff, perusing your wonderfully humane article "An option of public: less government more choice," I had the stomach to read, one bold paragraph caught my eye: "De-link health insurance from employment."

You know for a second that sounded pretty good as I have always thought what a pain in the rear it is that I am stuck to a job just because they offer health insurance so your paragraph on first line read SOUNDS rather, well, cheery. It was a PHEW moment. Thank God I won't be stuck in THAT job for my health care. Then I begin to think. Dangerous thing thinking don't you think? My first question is what if you are not working and the income stops with which you pay for your own health insurance? What happens then? Where is the safety net for those who have no job which applies to so many in the Bush whacked economy right? Tearing down the state-to-state barriers is great BUT if you don't have a job it doesn't matter what state-select insurance barrier you jump! Hey that's a great name for it "State Select!" Just thought of that. I digress. From where will the money to pay for health care come? What do people do if they are out of a job and get sick? How can they pay for it? I know, Alan Grayson had the BEST IDEA...DON'T GET SICK and if you do get sick DIE quickly! Now THAT's a selection that captures my own heart. I think HE is on to something!
A better written letter than the last sent to various sources:

I URGE gay civil rights workers NOT to make a concession speech in Maine or anywhere else to this hateful group of mean spirited ugly anti gay civil rights activists as homosexuals attempt to gain their rights to equality. To make a concession speech you would be doing so to the Fundamentalist and other hypocritical churches, which should be the main object of the fury, because they have been the main financial force behind foiling human civil rights and often just barely. You should say, rather, you are really not giving a concession speech but making a pledge that the next time will be fought even harder. It was close in Maine and better each time gays try in certain areas of the country.

It is the religious fanatics who are the barbed wire imprisoning all of us. We need to stand tall and like black people in the 60's keep forging on. We MUST make sure to elect senators and house members who are Democrats to ensure that they do not do this again.

Maine, you put up a GREAT contest. When I went to bed the no vote was ahead. The country is split right down the middle like it is in every other way. This is what it has been about since the late 60's. Everyone who wants civil rights has to claw and scratch their way to the top whether it's civil rights for blacks, women's rights or gay rights. Some day at some perfect time at some perfect hour justice will prevail as it did for others. It took years and, for many, centuries. Maybe it won't be in my lifetime but it is significantly better than it was 35 years ago. It's just not perfect .. not yet.
I sent this to the No on Maine marriage referendum which was razor close. It is not well written because it's too early and I wanted to get my feelings out to them. This is what I sent and this is how I feel:

It's so early in the a.m. consequently I do not know if you made a concession speech but one of the gay newspapers online says you haven't. I URGE you NOT to make a concession speech to this hateful hateful group of mean spirited nasty excuses for human beings. To make a concession speech you would be doing so to the Fundamentalist and other hypocritical churches which should be the MAIN object of the fury because they have been the main financial force behind foiling human civil rights often just barely. You COULD say you are really not giving a concession speech but making a pledge that the next time will be fought even harder. It was close and better each time gays try in certain areas of the country.

It is the religious fanatics who are the barbed wire imprisoning all of us. We need to stand tall and like black people in the 60's keep forging on. We MUST makes sure to elect senators and house members who are Democrats to ensure in the more liberal states that they do not do this again.

Maine, you put up a GREAT contest. When I went to bed the no vote was ahead. The country is split right down the middle like it is
in every other way. This is what it has been about since the late 60's. Everyone who wants civil rights has to claw and scratch their way
to the top whether it's civil rights for blacks, women's rights or gay rights. Some day at some perfect time at some perfect hour we will win as our compatriots did. It took years and, for them, centuries. Maybe it won't be in my lifetime but my goodness it is a hell of a lot better than it was 35 years ago. It's just not perfect .. not yet.

You did a GREAT job. DO NOT concede anything! Just my opinion.