Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Metro West News letter writer, Lloyd Kaye, has written an editorial entitled: "Use Tax Dollars for Peace." It was well constructed and says the following:

I have seen many films and documentaries about wars. I remember seeing the first one back in 1968 in a large auditorium with about 700 other teenagers, watching a single B-52 bomber as its bomb bay doors opened and bombs started to drop on Vietnamese villages. From one bomber, not 10, not 30, not 70, not 85, but what I found out years later as many as 110 bombs from one B-52 bomber on one run.

I found, in that moment, that what we were doing as a nation was criminal; that bombing villages of woman and children and old men in their homes was a crime beyond the blood and burnt and melted flesh that resulted from it.

Yesterday at the Ashland Library I witnessed a documentary that went beyond that film. Watching a film about the children of Gaza was almost too much for me. It was too much to know my tax dollars are paying for shrapnel embedded in the brains of teenage Arab children; that Jewish and Arab children cannot live in peace and enjoy their lives because of selfish men with agendas and dreams based on blood and money and of empires of the past.

I have given my government too many dollars for too many lies, and too many children have died too many horrible, lonely destructive deaths since my own birth.
I'm tired of those lies. It's time to end the war machine and to spend those dollars on the great problems of today which are all easy to solve if we focus on building and cleaning our world the world of the 21st century.

Over and over, peace comes only after too many people have died for reasons that never legitimize those deaths. Too many have died in the Middle East and I'm not interested in the reasons any more. I have heard them all since sitting in Hebrew school in that same year of 1968, the year two men of peace were murdered and a president elected who lied to Americans and bombed Cambodians and Vietnamese by the millions. There is a peace in the Middle East, and it is attainable.

It's time to put my tax dollars to work for peace. I will do what it takes to stop these endless, illegal wars.


I gave his piece Another Look: It is hard to argue with anything Mr. Kaye has written. I understand and empathize with all of it. Documentary is a powerful journalistic tool to actually show what history and, in its specificity, war perpetrates. I, too, remember my first, my VERY first documentary about war. It was at age 10 shown at the St. George Theater in downtown Framingham. It was about, of course, since it was around 1958, what the Nazis had done and most specifically showed the dead bodies of the Jews of Auschwitz and Dachau. It showed HEAPS of skeletal remains of bodies upon bodies being bulldozed by Allied soldiers because of the stench and disease they posed. It also showed the ovens where Nazis, in their haste to get rid of the evidence, burned the bodies of my brethren. Multiply that and get six million so that that number becomes unfathomable and burns like a branding iron into the synapses of ones brain. As a ten year old, I became literally physically nauseated as I gagged and nearly threw up at my seat. I will NEVER forget that film because it introduced me to the history which was responsible for the horror.

Since that time I have honed my political beliefs and do, despite what some may think, place myself left of center. That single event would ensure I always remained so as I could see the right, had little humanitarian heart.

One must, I think, though, as Mr. Kaye says, play the ball where it lies and not return to the same tired excuses one after the other keeping a nation perpetually at war for the aggrandizement of a few. It is heinous thing.

Still, as much as I am opposed to war as a means of dispute resolution one MUST understand what is a real threat and distinguish that from what is not. I LOATH what happened in Gaza to the innocents. I wish it never happened. I wish for once, too, however, a documentary could be shown about the thousands upon thousands of innocents that fundamentalist religious brutality and immorality has perpetrated on old men, women, and children, sitting at mosques, walking on a street, attending a funeral, sitting in a school and hundreds of other benign locations where religious extremism perpetrates its dastardly deeds upon innocent others.

I say to Mr. Kaye I understand your feelings BUT you cannot be blind (or you can to your peril) to the depth and malicious destruction that the radical fundamentalist wants now to bestow upon our culture, our nation and even to the west at large. It cannot be denied. Our struggle has morphed. It does not matter what the US or Israel has done in the past.

What DOES matter is that if all the things for which you may want to indict the US and Israel did not exist do you think for one minute NOW that those who hate this country would cease and desist from what they want to do even IF it means exploding a radiological device or biological agent to kill and sicken millions?

I suspect not. If every Jew in Israel lived in Alaska instead of Israel do you think the Middle East would be a bastion of peace? I HIGHLY doubt it. To deny the murderous quality of the radical fundamentalists’ intentions is to place your head in the sand and risk your life as well as ours. They will NEVER stop no matter how much you protest because it now, for them, is a religious cause which gives meaning to their lives and madness to their hearts. We are in an existential nightmare and there is, as I see it, literally no way out.

I agree with ALL you have said, Mr. Kaye, and yet I ask this question: how many Islamic fundamentalists throughout the world would lay down their arms even IF we became the most peaceful non-violent nation on the face of the earth. My guess: FEW!
Do you Cindy take Helen?: I posted my opinion about a letter on another blogging news site which involved the topic of homosexual marriage. I wrote the following:

The entries about gay marriage on this site seem to be less negative. More are positive toward homosexual marriages and they do well articulating evidence to back up their opinions. I possibly am in error but I believe this issue is losing steam for a number of reasons: (1) there are many more important issues to address like the economy, war, and oil (2) the generation emerging is MUCH more accepting of alternative lifestyles and homosexuality in general because homosexuals are more visible. (3) The younger generation knows more gay people and more gays have come out within their own families than ever before. It is obvious homosexuality is a universal phenomenon. It appears in all cultures and in other species as well. It is a sexual variation NOT a pathology and through science the courts are able to see that the major ingredients in the successful raising of children are the LOVE, caring and support of them they receive in the home.

Many pathological heterosexual marriages spawn troubled, dysfunctional, and psychologically impaired children. Heterosexuality is NO yardstick for good parenting. In fact, because homosexuals have to go out of their way to have children, the children are wanted and are not simply conceived after frivolous activity. Moreover, I submit, while abuse exists among gays, it does so less often because the relationship between the partners is biologically more equal. Simply put, men are stronger than woman and easily can abuse them and do.

I will go out on a limb and say, generally, if one takes the factor of children OUT of the rationale for heterosexual marriage each sex has more in common with their own gender than they do with the opposite one. (Before anyone screams at me I KNOW this is not true for everyone.) One hears many women say I want a man to have the characteristics of my female best friend. She may not be attracted to women or want to sleep with them but women often like the qualities of other women better than they do the qualities of their own husbands or male partners.

The sexes are INTRINSICALLY and psychologically different and many would rather share, can share and do share those psychological intimacies with members of their own sex. The fact that heterosexuals are together is primarily biological for the making of children. Heterosexual reproduction reforms and evolves DNA weeding out the genetically mutant bad genes while keeping the good ones. It ensures biological variation and diversity of the species but it does NOT ensure the qualitative dimension of happiness.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Equalizer: This is a comment on a blog in Salon.com which I link below. The Salon article by Ashley Womble is about a woman who goes searching for her homeless brother who is schizophrenic. It is, indeed, a story of pathos and why we must try to do the best we can in the time we are allotted. I said:

My aunt used to tell me that life is a vale of tears and I know all too often for friends, relatives, and for me, too, it has been and is just that. My heart goes out to Ms. Womble. There but for the grace of God or fate go any of us.

I had a cousin who was institutionalized his entire life. His hell was Schizophrenia. He was an only child of a beloved aunt. After her husband died her son, after years of torment in mental hospitals of the 1950's where he suffered abuse, the loss of an eye, and the loss of himself, merciful death took him from a seizure before it took his mother. He was only 49. Later my aunt, well into her 80’s, ultimately joined her son, buried side by side in the family plot.

I grieve for her to this day, for the family often suffers as much as the victim did. In that era there was not even much medication to ease the mental disorder. Later, when I was a student in a psychology class, I saw my cousin in an institution for the mentally ill in which we did class field work. I went over to him and looked into his sad, staring eyes and introduced myself to him. I called him by name and said “I am your cousin.” He continued to stare and in monotone said "Oh." That was it "Oh." It was a metaphor for the sum total of his life. What a cruel disease Schizophrenia is. The mechanics of the body worked but the mechanics of his mind were a tangled web of dysfunction. He was dead BUT he was alive. That was the curse. Alzheimer's disease, which a friend’s mother has, does nearly the same thing. The mixed emotions are that we love them but can we love them like this? If one could bring my friend’s mother’s mind back to normalcy I hear her saying, in her own inimitable style: "Well THAT was just AWFUL!"

I am not Christian. Still, one can take profundities of other beliefs and use them to shape one’s own character. I hear Jesus saying: “If you do it unto the least of these my brethren you do it unto me” or “The first shall be last and the last first.” Why do humans fall SO short of living those beautiful words where the poor, the hungry, the dispossessed, the nation less, the rejected of family are loved and accepted DESPITE their shortcomings? I do not know why. Humans, we know, often fall short of what is good and right.

The Hebrew Bible tells us God instructs us to “be kind to the stranger for you were once strangers in a strange land.” The president in his Cairo speech said “the Holy Koran says ‘whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.’ ” Why do we not live the principles so continuously uttered from the instruction of our varied religious backgrounds?

I do not know. If I could waive a magic wand I would make the last first and the first last. Better still I would simply treat others as I myself would want to be treated. We all fall far short of what our best teachings instruct. In truth, through DNA we are all connected. Why often we cannot feel that connection I further do not know. Most try, I think, to do the best we can with our own sack of sorrows and at the same time lend a sympathetic kindness to another person who may be in need. In the final analysis that is all anyone can try to do and we should do it as time grows short, and we know, as no other animal does, in the end we will, each and every one of us, lie side by side as death, the great equalizer, awaits us all.

http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2010/07/27/my_homeless_brother/index.html

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Can't Let it Go: I have listened and am often critical of two supposedly left wing Sirius radio talk show hosts, Alex Bennet and Lynn Samuels. Most particularly Lynn Samuels is vitriolic in her hatred of Israel and often waxes nauseatingly anti Jewish EVEN THOUGH both of them ARE, in fact, Jews. Who would have thought it? I decided yesterday and today I had had enough and thought it imperative to address their views which I adamantly oppose.

Yes, I'm still listening to both Alex and Lynn at times. Often, your shows go on unconsciously to me in the background of my home. Occasionally I catch a clip that propels me to respond. The Holocaust is one such issue that does. It never ceases to amaze me when Jews themselves like you, Alex, or like Lynn Samuels MOST ESPECIALLY, speak about the Holocaust and will often say well we should not forget the others who were killed. OF COURSE, we should not forget the others who were the targets of the Nazi killing machine. How could one who has sensitivity about depriving anyone of the right to live not include in remembrance other groups among those who suffered the Nazi onslaught? We SHOULD and we DO. BUT and it is a big qualification: The Jew stands alone as the PRIMARY recipient of the horrors of the Holocaust. That does NOT ... let me repeat .. does NOT mean that one is insensitive to inhumanities directed against others even in our own time.

Often, when one says that the Jew should not claim the Holocaust's exclusivity, it is an EXCUSE to minimize that slaughter against the Jewish people singularly. It demeans it and makes Jews just another part of it like everyone else. I would even venture to say many who really are anti-Semites use a similar tactic as well as if it could somehow absolve them or maybe their relatives of anti-Semitic complicity in that horrific event or at least neutralize the slaughter against the Jew by making it universal and not specific.

Yes, it is the slaughter of the six million during the Holocaust that looms larger and more distinct for the Jew than any other group. The Holocaust did NOT come out of nowhere. You sit in your air conditioned offices, lead I am sure a relatively prosperous lives and thank God or fate or something that YOU, as Jews, did not live among the unlucky eleven million then who were targeted for extinction having committed no sin other than that of being Jewish. A Catholic, a homosexual or even a Gypsy could camouflage their being and did. Even some Poles were omitted from the Final Solution because they "looked" too Aryan. Others took up arms to fight against the Nazi menace. In Europe of that era a Jew could do none of those things. He had no weapons with which to fight and he could not cover up his identity by looking too Aryan. The Jew was always, without exception, ultimately condemned to death in the gas chambers and to the ovens of Auschwitz and camps like it. There was no get out of jail card for him. There was literally no way out.

Moreover, from Babylon to Greece and Rome, from western Europe to the Eastern European states and to the pale of settlement including Russia and, in modernity, in nearly all Arab states, the Jew was and is still hunted like a dog. He was historically killed when it served the political purpose of certain states. When it did not that state USED the Jew for his intellectual prowess, his financial expertise and his labor BUT we remained a separate entity and a world apart. The Holocaust did not simply magically appear. It appeared for a reason and you will have to look to Jewish history and even to New Testament text to find out why this was and is so to better understand how the monstrosity of the Holocaust against the Jew could ever have happened as well as why the Jewish experience is unique and different from all other groups.

Israel exists because of the historicity of these facts over millennium. Israel fights for its life EVERY day. Would Gazans care about the Jew? Of course, the answer is NO. Would they care about YOU? The answer is, again, NO. The Jew is NEVER free from attack and that includes you, Alex and Lynn who rail and pontificate against State of Israel. Lynn, in particular, uses the most disgusting bilious stereotypical epithets against the Jew as IF she is not one. She does not care WHAT she says and HOW mean spirited she says it and what credence it gives to anti-Semites everywhere. They love it when even a Jew is against Jews. It is shameful and SHE is shameless.

Israel will NOT die UNLESS every Jew there is wiped off the face of the earth. Apparently some surely do not care if Hamas prevails. Guess what? Both you AND Lynn could be swept up by such a horrendous possibility as well. You may deny it and with vituperative invective indict Israel all you want and worry about the poor Gazans whose Hamas they elected so they could lob thousands of rockets into Israel daily and kill Jews. You are FREE to say what you want but listen well: Jews fight for Israel's existential survival. The enemy of Israel is your enemy too as they surely would, IF they could, target you simply because you are a Jew. Gazans are NO different NO different from any other people during 5000 years of Jewish history of those who have tried to rid themselves of the Jew.

You, Alex, Lynn and I are among about ONLY 14 million others who are Jews. We will remain so as long as we live and there is NOTHING you can do about it. You should kiss the ground of the State of Israel because if its enemies have their way any who have a drop of Jewish blood flowing through their veins could feel their wrath no matter where we live. The hatred of the Jew is out there. It is all pervasive and it threatens all of us. Ask not for whom the state of Israel exists. It exists for you and for me and for all Jews if we need it because for centuries the world wanted us to cease to exist and it surpassed even its own wildest expectations by doing everything it could to ensure that fact. They got six million of us. Next time we may not be so lucky!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Poems and Profound Thoughts: I thought these poems and quotes both beautiful and profound as I think about the 96,000 secret Defense Department and Pentagon files which have been exposed and our delusional propensity to think war in this nuclear age is winnable.

The first is taken from the July 26, 2010 NYT: Rupert Brook -- "The Soldier " (about an English soldier days before he died on his way to Gallipoli during World War I in 1915) -- substitute Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan or the next sad endless weary war in a long line of wars yet to come:

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

and yet another on a Turkish Memorial. It is the Memorial of Anzac (Australian) Cove, commemorating the loss of thousands of Turkish and Anzac (Australian) soldiers in Gallipoli.

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
— Atatürk 1934

From Wikipedia about the Gallipoli campaign:

"The conditions at Galipoli, on both sides, were notorious. In the summer, the heat was atrocious, and in conjunction with bad sanitation, led to so many flies that eating became extremely difficult. Corpses, left in the open, became bloated and stank. The precarious Allied bases were poorly situated and caused supply and shelter problems. A dysentery epidemic spread through the Allied trenches in both Anzac and Helles. Autumn and winter brought relief from the heat, but also led to gales, flooding and frostbite."

This is the reality of war. This is why war should never be but, alas, seemingly always will be as it satisfies man's endless unquenchable thirst for human blood and the power that blood bestows. Jesus said to his disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come" Luke 17:1.

Woe unto to us as we are in a time where war ultimately can be neither won nor lost because in the end there will be no human beings left to fight it. Imagine man, the only animal we know of who does little to preserve the earth YET is the ONLY animal who can understand the earth and appreciate its majesty. Why, why, why would anyone not want their children to see its awesome splendor? I shake my head in disbelief that war is even thought an option. How many tours of duty in a dusty hellish place can a man take?

This country once so heroic and strong is diminished by its penchant for eternal war held hostage to the filth of oil and Wall Street avarice which cares NOTHING except stuffing their pockets with gold crafted by the sweat of others. "Eli, Eli (pronounced A Lee) (my God, my God), words spoken by King David in Book of Psalms 22:2-3- : "...My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me, and art far from my help at the words of my cry? O my God, I call by day, but Thou answerest not; and at night, and there is no end for me..."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The New York Times took a survey of opinion of decisions of this extremist right wing Supreme Court and included a section where we could post our general view. I stated the following:

Recalibrating the Scales of Justice: I am an ardent progressive on most issues. I think our nation is in the most dangerous condition since the 1896 malevolent Plessy decision much due, in pertinent part, to the extremist right wing activist judicial decisions the present-day majority of this court has handed down. It is reflected by the disgusting decision of Citizens United granting the same political contribution rights to multi-billion dollar corporations as it would to any other person no matter how poor they may be. That decision is not to be outdone by the many other mean-spirited decisions according rights to whites as IF whites were EVER denied those rights in our country in the first place. Whites, most assuredly, have suffered from NO lack of power.

Every day I pray that just one of the loathsome four so called "conservatives" -- Roberts, most ESPECIALLY Thomas, Alito or Scalia either resign for some reason or retire so that these horrific decisions sinking the egalitarian promise of our nation fade into obscurity. I hope some day that these corrupting decisions are reversed by an entirely progressive court. That is my dream however unlikely.

Thomas, our only African American justice stays mostly silent when arguments come before the Court. He has chosen to turn his back on so many with whom he should have been able to identify. It is HE who possibly may NOT have been in the position he is if it were not for the liberal decisions of the past which have tried to apply the equal protection clause of the Constitution to minorities and make up for the centuries of the nation's shameful discriminatory past. If not for affirmative action Justice Thomas probably would NOT have gone to the schools he did. He possibly would NOT even be married to the woman he is if it were not for the liberal federal decisions that overruled states which heretofore outlawed miscegenation. I dare say he even risked bodily harm by racist groups who took a DIM view (to say the least) of interracial dating MUCH LESS marriage. And yet, he has the unmitigated gall to vote as he does attempting to overturn all that has been gained for minority rights including his own personal rights.

Lives are in jeopardy as the activist court, conservatives SAY they are against, dismantles one by one those decisions which have helped people overturn racial discrimination against African Americans and other minorities. Other decisions which have helped equal the playing field for the middle class are at stake if they are not obliterated already. Moreover, the most fundamental right of a woman to control her own body is slowly being eroded in the extremist right's pathological hope to eradicate Roe v. Wade so women can die a painful needless death at the hands of quack doctors or pay inordinate amounts of cash, some cannot afford, to go somewhere else.

These four justices helped plant a festering sore on this nation. The sooner the nightmare they have perpetrated is over the better!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Sentiments Exactly: I thought of creating a blog on the Sherrod incident. Frankly, I'm tired of it. The right wing extremists through the capture of the media got their 15 minutes of fun and fame in their attempt to wrest power through lies and at any cost. Unfortunately, I think they want much more. I read, on Huffington, an editorial entitled: "What the President Didn't Seem to Learn from the Shirley Sherrod Incident" by Richard Eskow which states my sentiments exactly. Time marches on. I hope the president has a "learnable moment." As Jason Robards said to his Washington Post fledgling reporters Woodward and Bernstein in Alan Pakula's film "All the President's Men" about Watergate leading up to the Nixon resignation. "You better get this right. Only our lives, our country and the fate of the free world depend on it." I post the Escow opinion below for your reading pleasure.



http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/what-the-president-didnt_b_657307.html
The Not So Mad Alternatives to Mad Men: I loved Matthew Gilbert's article in the "G" Section of July 23, 2010 Boston Globe on Mad Men! I particularly enjoyed his drawing parallels to actors of that bygone era who COULD have played the Man Men roles. I could not disagree with many of them. However, Gregory Peck as Don Draper might not have worked as Peck usually played such good men -- too good for that part. Peck in my mind solidifies that goodness in Atticus Finch ("To Kill a Mockingbird") and Phil Green who writes on anti-Semitism by going undercover as a Jewish man in ("Gentleman's Agreement") and would not, I think, fit the dark side of Don Draper well although admittedly "Man in the Grey Flannel Suit" drew parallels. My pick: Laurence Harvey. Who could forget the intensity when he played the maritally unfaithful Westin Liggett opposite Elizabeth Taylor's courtesan Gloria Wandress in "Butterfield 8" or in his role in Somerset Maughum's "Of Human Bondage" playing the obsessed, tortured and smitten med student who falls for a woman beneath his social class.

I would LOVE to have seen Lee Remick as Betty. What a wonderful actress Remick was. She combined beauty with emotional heft as exemplified in one of the all time great films "The Days of Wine and Roses." January Jones is problematic for me to judge. In a way she is PERFECT for that role with her Grace Kelly lovely looks and a hint that something is going on behind those beautiful eyes DESPITE the less than good SNL appearance. She does portray some depth of an unhappy unfulfilled lonely woman and does so with a kind of silence Mr. Gilbert so correctly observed about the initial Mad Men. Kim Novak as well could have been perfect for that role as I remember her co-starring with Kirk Douglas in "Strangers When We Meet." She too like Betty played an unfulfilled lonely woman in her marriage and fell for a more exciting man to compensate despite the ever-present social taboo of doing so.

A wow goes to Ava Gardner as Joan but a definite NO to Jayne Mansfield filling that role. In life Mansfield was not dumb but she almost always played the dumb blond trying her best to mimic, quite unsuccessfully I might add, Marylin Monroe. Mansfield was too typecast as that for the role of Joan. Joan is exceedingly smart. Ava Gardner would have been perfect!

I might add one more possibility for the role of Peggy. I can see Lyn Redgrave and most especially Patty Duke in that role but I'd throw in a young Shirley Maclain too remembering her intense role in Lillian Helman's "The Children's Hour" and as the woman in love with a married man in "The Apartment." Maclain could play it funny or serious but whatever role she took on she was, I think, the consummate professional.

I LOVE this series and will be watching it without fail as my own life bridges the culture divide of the 1950's,
the mid-sixties and beyond. The series has much to say and, as I remember that time, does so brilliantly. People may not realize it but much of what we now think, say and do has its etiology in that era whether we like to admit it or not.


http://www.boston.com/ae/tv/articles/2010/07/23/remaking_the_cast_of_mad_men/

http://www.boston.com/ae/tv/articles/2010/07/23/with_season_4_the_removed_reality_of_mad_men_grows_unsettlingly_familiar/?page=2

Thursday, July 22, 2010

ELOQUENCE:

I listened, last evening, to Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment. It was THRILLING and true – all of it. You can, if you did not hear it, go to Keith Olbermann’s web page and through its Special Comment section listen to one of the most eloquent and fervent thoughts about this country’s historically racist past and present as it relates to the Sherrod incident. It is entitled “The witch-hunt vs. Sherrod, and those who made it possible.” I place the following link to it: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38353683/ns/msnbc_tv countdown_with_keith_olbermann/

I sent to him and posted my thoughts
:

Keith, last evening's Special Comment was, perhaps, among the best that I have ever heard you make. This comment WAS, INDEED, special. I am GLAD you apologized to Ms. Sherrod for ALL of us as the White House is often anemic in its response when it counts. It shamefully went along with and did not even take the time to investigate the fraudulent charges trumped up by right wing media against this innocent woman which led to her ultimate dismissal from the Department of Agriculture. Shame on the White House. And SHAME on the NAACP for falling for something against which they have fought for over a century. I am THRILLED you said it as adamantly as you did. Moreover, SOMEONE MUST talk about the nature of this country's mental illness and its HISTORICALLY deep roots of contemptible injustice to people of color.

There is NO question, no question whatsoever, that the screams of WHITE racism are utterly fabricated by Fox, Limbaugh, Hannity and all the other sick right wing media. It is the most ridiculously neo-Nazi like fraudulent cause this time uttered by the so called Tea Party having its roots in the Phillips "Southern Strategy" of long ago. It wanted, at all costs, to maintain white power not only in the south but anywhere else its appeal could take root among whites. Salt and peppering in, as they do, an occasional black person for the cameras is a RUSE for others who may have conservative sympathies but do not like the Tea Party's CLEARLY systemic and overt white racism. They want to keep white power EXACTLY has it has been since the country's inception EXCEPT that the hue of our population is changing and they are desperate. Fox News, with its nearly UNLIMITED fountain of cash, is the perfect vehicle for them to ride this white horse and try to regain the power which they thought they were and are entitled to posses. It is a DAMNABLE thing.

I wish the STRENGTH of your words would be shown and heard on right wing extremist media but, alas, they would not air what you say since they do NOT report the truth but twist it to fit their own sociopathic view. They are about lies -- BIG lies -- and could not countenance their viewers listening to people like you and Rachel Maddow because you both negate this mendacity with reality. The festering sore of powerful white racism -- slavery's cement --, The Southern Strategy of a bygone era and the Tea Party of this era are our country's curse and its INSANITY which pathologically and purposefully divides our nation. How can we EVER overcome this cancer eating away at our body politic?

You are the chemotherapeutic HOPE of this nation by doing what you so eloquently do providing us hope. You are, I believe, gifts to to our country and to those of us who really do believe in truth, JUSTICE and what we THOUGHT was the American way.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

THANK YOU! Just in case a viewer of my blog does not check the comment section I posted his comment which to me was sent in Chinese. Many times this Asian person comments on my blog. I should be posting the comments but since they are in Chinese I hesitated. I do now use "Google Translate" to understand them and this one was particularly nice: so it means in English: "Whatever we do, believe in yourself, do not let anyone steal, you down."

I want to thank him/her for that. It means a lot to me as sometimes I doubt myself and it is SO nice that a person a distance from me takes an interest. I thank you, sir (or madam) as I do not know them but I surely do appreciate support from wherever it comes and it is so nice of you to send it!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shanda: The incidents of child sexual abuse that have become illuminated in recent years, among mostly orthodox and Hasidic sects among Jewish males sicken me. The July 20, 2010 The Boston Globe front page article (Link below) about a child sex abuse case allegedly committed by a teacher and a rabbi within the employ of Maimonides, a prestigious Jewish day school, and elsewhere with its attendant details made me want to regurgitate my lunch possibly to purge this contemptible sin from our collective souls. Yes, I as a Jew feel a sense of shanda (shame) as if the abuse stains our entire Jewish community. I feel a sense of utter outrage at the abnormal abuser but I feel even more outrage at a community and educational institution whose hierarchy possibly did not want to BE aware or, if aware, looked the other way when this pathological behavior was perpetrated upon the innocent. We have heard this tune before, as the article points out, the all familiar refrain the Catholic Church sang, hoping a few years would dull its impact and make it go somewhere else or simply just fade away. A few years passing does NOT dull its impact. It, rather, in my opinion, makes its impact worse. The child is rarely rid of its deleterious impact on his psyche and will probably always have at least a part of this monkey on his back.

It is a fact that this deviant behavior is a part of the human condition and that a Jew who allegedly committed these horrible crimes surely does not mean all Jews should be indicted for it. MOST, I dare say, would never even THINK of doing such a thing. And yet I feel the sting and I feel ashamed that someone within our ranks, no mater what Judaic sect he occupies, may have done these dastardly acts and worse, still, that others may have known and could let such monstrous things happen without taking appropriate action. That it allegedly happened at the hands of a teacher at a Jewish school which is supposedly one of our finest Jewish institutions makes me sickened even more.

One must now act accordingly using the road map that the Catholic Church so courteously but inadvertently bestowed upon us which clearly shows how NOT to act when pedophile sex abuse happens within the walls of an institution. A child MUST be encouraged NOT discouraged to report it to an authority and the authority must NEVER be blind to its occurrence. The authority should contact local police and a proper investigation should ensue. This should be done secularly and NOT by the community within which the abuse took place. We live in a country of secular LAW which screams out to everyone justice, justice, justice!

Shame on you, Maimonides, if you knew about this crime and did nothing. You have committed a grievous sin against your god, against your people, against the state but most of all against the victims who will probably have to suffer the consequences of these rancid acts, sadly, for the rest of their lives.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/07/20/sex_abuse_case_against_rabbi_raises_larger_issues/

Monday, July 19, 2010

Yet another opinion worthy of consideration -- Rethinking Afghanistan, Islamic radicalism and us: Two people whose opinion I respect sent opposition to my post on pulling out of Afghanistan. They are smart, well read, and most of all thoughtful. This time a friend of mine offered his assessment and strong alternative view. Maybe Rachel Maddow, so many on the left and I who criticize US foreign policy do not really understand what is happening and are not seeing the forest through the proverbial trees. Honestly, not being in the echelons of power, I do not know.

Perhaps, we must play the ball where it lies and not think about or wish we had done something historically different which would have changed the course of our present day confrontation with fanatical Islam. I offer his point of view because I respect it and because our world and our very lives depend upon making decisions which will save both. What those decisions should be is, perhaps, more in the hands of luck than cogent policy. I do not know. What I do know is we must make the right decisions. Whatever decisions are made western civilization which brought us through the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment and modern times depends upon it. My friend stated -- disguising some of the more colorful words:

"I'm with your cousin on this one -- 9/11 wasn't the Gulf of Tonkin incident and Afghanistan isn't Vietnam. We have every right and obligation to be fighting the Taliban after 9/11, and I hope our troops are pounding the living s*&^ out of them -- the bloodier for them the better. You, I, Rachel Maddow and probably everyone we know are all dead meat if those Nazi bas*&^% take over the world."

It is a difficult opinion for me to take because I am, at heart, a peace-loving person but I continuously ask what if he and others who share his opinion are right. I have come out vociferously against orthodox and fundamentalist religion everywhere. It is uncompromising, extreme and most of all deadly. Survival is the first law of nature. What polices would be best to ensure our survival, for me, is often guess work. The noxious decisions of yesteryear we cannot change and sometimes we do not realize what we, in fact, do have. We shop, go to the supermarket, go to CVS, have prescriptions filled, medical care (albeit sometimes problematic) and enough food and water. We play our CD's, DVDs, go to the movies and to rock concerts, travel freely with our friends while taking most of it for granted. We turn on a television with 600 channels and think everyone does. Everyone does not. Many if not most around the world live without even the basic necessities of life and whose live at the whim of tyranny.

We in the west are a technologically advanced civilization who have the ability to discuss opinion -- however controversial -- freely BUT it exists at the whim of man and can be taken away in an instant. I am glad better minds than I possess are entrusted with our security. As another cousin said to me before he died "You better HOPE we win. The alternative is unthinkable!"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why Tevya and I Could Never Be Policymakers: I equate myself with Tevya which is why I could never be and never have been a policymaker. He is forever weighing arguments -- on the one hand, on the other hand, etc. He tries to see different facets of an argument. I do the same. If one offers me a cogent well-thought out rationale I can change my mind on a dime. At least Tevya, it seemed, could actually MAKE a decision but, alas, I often cannot. I am STUCK in the mire of ideas.

My cousin today emailed me a response to my reasons for wanting the US out of Afghanistan. He made some very good points and they are:

"What seems wrong (to me, of course) is Rachel Maddow saying we need to train and support but not have any war dead, plus she offers no alternative to what the President is already doing. I don't feel that my scenario is off the mark and that is what scares me. I can imagine something far worse that 9/11 happening if we did pull out, wherein we would have a body count in the millions instead of 3,000. If Al Qaeda were seen as successful in kicking us out, not only would Pakistan fall, but so would Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, the Emirates....I don't see any Arab states left standing. All those recruits to bin Laden with so many axes to grind against so many corrupt governments!"

Thankfully, I will never have to make those life and death decisions. I could not. I admit to my frailties. The one positive thing I, perhaps, can say about my efforts is that they are well though ABOUT. Often, though, I can lose my balance and be pushed off my podium too much like a fiddler on the roof.
"The Fiddler": Yet again Maureen Dowd proves her journalistic excellence. Who can say it better than she? No one can. Her Sunday, July 18, 2010 NYT editorial "Rome Fiddles, We Burn" is EXCELLENT. It speaks about the shameful depths to which the Catholic Church has sunk by electing the Neanderthal uber extremist Benedict as pope. He has, through his shameful inaction first as Cardinal Ratzinger and now as Benedict, with such effrontery, looked the other way when priests committed the egregious sins of child rape. He has helped perpetuate this crime within the church. Even worse, equating that sin with the ordination of women -- something which could help release this church from its dastardly milieu -- is nothing short of astoundingly sick. Her last paragraph which quotes The New Republic Garry Wills says it all:

"In The New Republic, Garry Wills wrote about his struggle to come to terms with the sins of his church: Jesus “is the one who said, ‘Whatever you did to any of my brothers, even the lowliest, you did to me.’ That means that the priests abusing the vulnerable young were doing that to Jesus, raping Jesus. Any clerical functionary who shows more sympathy for the predator priests than for their victims instantly disqualified himself as a follower of Jesus. The cardinals said they must care for their own, going to jail if necessary to protect a priest. We say the same thing, but the ‘our own’ we care for are the victimized, the poor, the violated. They are Jesus.”

It is the essence of this preposterous crime against children by priests which has run rampant, probably for centuries, in this most institutionally depraved Church. The best Rome can come up with now is putting the cardinal sin of child rape on par with the ordination of women? Who could postulate such an outrageous statement? Answer: Only an all male institution where they hold all the power could.

I paste the link to Dowd's editorial below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/opinion/18dowd.html?hp

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Is that what you really want?: The Newsweek headline "Rethinking Afghanistan" (link below) is interesting. After Rachel Maddow's trip to Afghanistan many who are worth anything intellectually (even the conservative George Will) are seeming to come to her conclusion. She was brilliant the other night summing up her trip to Afghanistan essentially saying: A NOBLE army attempting to do an impossible and ignoble task not worthy of one more -- not ONE MORE -- American life. I say here here. How long have I said that? It took awhile but A LONG time. The lefties seem to get our useless mind numbing wars right every time. They are agreeing with Michael Steele (as I did as well) that he was NOT wrong when he said it was Obama's war. It is. Yet ANOTHER reason for my disappointment. I'll just add it to my list which does NOT mean -- DOES NOT MEAN -- I want a Republican in office. Perish the thought. I simply want to get what I THOUGHT I bought. It is a right in tort law and it is my right as a citizen who voted on principle.

When will the American public get it? When will they elect people who really give a damn about human life? When will we elect leaders who do NOT commit American blood on foreign soil to die in UNDECLARED wars, for unworthy causes, in godforsaken countries in perpetuity? We are talking about the lives of young people who often have children. These soldiers are dying well before their time or suffering the most egregious injuries only to return to a life sometimes of meaningless depression, post traumatic stress, and even committing suicide in larger numbers than ever before. How long and what will it take for our leaders to STOP?

So much for my positive blogs. I say to HELL with my positive blogs as if I had any anyway. Not to see life as it really is by sugar coating it in pastry syrup is NOT for me. If those of you who cannot take it or do not like it I say isn't it wonderful the computer comes equipped with a Delete key. Use it if you are so inclined. I have become hardened to it but know that your children and your grandchildren, if you have them, will be possibly included as cannon fodder for the next great American fiasco. Is that what you really want?


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Positivity Did Not Last Long: I direct your attention to this important article by Simon Johnson, British American economist. He currently is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Sloan School of Management at MIT. He is, as I see it, EXACTLY correct about appointing the well qualified Elizabeth Warren to head the Financial Protection Bureau. I LOVE Elizabeth Warren and I loath Treasury Secretary Timothy Pay No Taxes Arm of Wall Street and Goldman Sachs Geithner. Warren SHOULD get the job hands down. Obama will lose his base at least the part of his base who understands how important this job is and how wonderful she would be for it. She has the American people's back when few in Treasury do.

I agree with Simon Johnson in his article "Treasury Makes a Mistake ...". He says it exactly as I would except that while he says this would be the straw that broke the camel's back, my camel's back was broken by the leak. Not choosing Warren would simply add to the spinal fracture. Read this article if you have time. It is not long and it is exactly correct. If you care about our country's economic security and YOUR economic security may I suggest sending an email to the White House in support of Elizabeth Warren as head of the Financial Protection Bureau? Its link is: http://www.whitehouse.gov/. Then hit the "Contact" drop down.

Simon Johnson's article below is well worth reading!

http://baselinescenario.com/2010/07/16/treasury-makes-a-mistake-claiming-they-are-not-blocking-elizabeth-warren/
Staying Positive: In my attempt to follow some of my friends/relatives' suggestions about trying to be positive, I came across this article on MSNBC. It is entitled Neuropsychology: Shift Your Brain Shift Your Mind by Dr. Rick Hanson. You may be interested in this too. Within the article he has a link called "Just One Thing" for more on his views.

I have seen some of what he suggests on PBS which has shown a number of other lectures entitled "Change Your Brain Change your Life" by Dr. Daniel Amen (yes, his name is REALLY Amen!).

Often I do not buy into much pop psychology or new agey philosophies but I suspect this is not that. Perhaps there is science behind it. Oh well, there is nothing to lose by reading some of it. :-) I can always return to my dour self!! :(

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rick-hanson-phd/neuropsychology-shift-you_b_648185.html

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ain't ain't in the dictionary--A FUN POST!: A relative and a friend of mine, too, told me perhaps I should "lighten up." My relative also wrote about poor grammar and syntax in our nation. So I added this to her blog. It's the best I can do at humor in these often serious times.

I am a stickler for proper syntax, grammar and speech. The mode of expression I think I loath more than any other is the so called “Valley Girl” speak. The word “like” is thrown into a sentence more than salt and pepper are thrown into spaghetti sauce. “Like it was totally this or that.” “I said to her like blah blah blah blah.” It’s HORRIBLE! What is that a substitute for? Perhaps like is used instead of a pause or “Uh or UM” I’d rather one be silent than use the word “like.” That being said, English is a difficult language. To me, it makes sense but to some it makes no sense. How often does one (yes “one” instead of “you”) hear “I coulda went” instead of “I could have gone” or “Him and me went to the store” instead of He and I went to the store OR me and Lassie went to the vet. Proper grammar always puts the other person first and the sentence writer or speaker second so it SHOULD be Lassie and I went to the vet. There is, too, little knowledge of cases i.e. the difference between the subjective and objective case. I gave the gift to HIM and NOT to he. “Him” is the objective case and pronouns usually take the objective case. “I” is always the subjective case. “I go to the store” Mari and I went out to eat. ME is the objective case often the object of a preposition. He gave the present to ME.

The grammatical, syntactic and punctuation fracturers of the English language in writing or speech, to me, are like fingernails on a black board. It is blatant, annoying and says something about the speaker or the writer. I pick up on it instantly. How have our schools erred SO badly (not bad but badly as it answers the adverbial question how)? When using verbs of feeling such as I feel bad about something, the correct word is “bad.” If one says I feel badly then it means that their sense of touch is out of whack!

Axed is OUTRAGEOUS to say instead of asked. When someone says that I want to take out an ax and say SEE THIS IS WHAT AN AX IS. You can cut down a tree with it. It is NOT the verb to ASK!

If I were interviewing someone for a job how WELL (not good) they speak in addition to the content of what they say would be the two most important yardsticks I would use when deciding to hire them. Perhaps, I might even say that the correct grammatical phraseology they use would be the first thing I notice.

Interview someone on the street and ask them to say something in multiple sentences. I am often AMAZED at what grammatically poor English they use and how little people know. It, I think, tells one something about the nature of our culture and it AIN’T — oops — it ISN’T good!

Oh yes, and they stopped the leak .... for now! :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Leak, Lies and War: Off the top of my head because I cannot believe what I hear and I have no time to perfect a well written blog:

First lie: Oh sure Bristol Palin broke it to mommy just today...right...believe that and she'll tell you another one. And if you think that Levi Johnston was doing it all in the name of loving his absolute love Bristol I have another one to tell you. The answer to this whole scenario is DOUGH, ray, me and MORE DOUGH. Levi sees dollar signs glistening before his eyes ... he hit the jackpot. Palin sees Johnson silenced. Keep your mouth shut, you will get plenty of dough for the kid and it will look better and sound better to my base....That's MY take.

Second lie: The leak: MY take: They stopped the new cap because there are MORE leaks and they KNOW it...it's all been baloney. The dispersant is a metaphor for the fact that they just tell you what they THINK you want to hear to cover the disaster up. My guess: They stopped because there are more leaks. What are the odds that it's just gushing from one spot? NIL and I am not an engineer just a person with 1/2 a brain. This will not fly. My bet is they KNOW there are more leaks and they face the threat of a HUGE blow out at the bottom. If that happens....Good night Irene. They KNOW it could so they are going slow...OH sure...tell me another one.

Third lie: The Wars: They lie and lie and lie and lie and lie INCLUDING our government. I am NOT a fool and NOT duped easily. I've been around too long as when LBJ said there is light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam...RIGHT another lie. Wanna hear another one? Afghanistan is working? OH SURE. This is all they can do is lie to cover up their rancid policies which get us killed."The game is rigged," as George Carlin said. " It's a club and guess what? YOU AIN'T IN IT!!"

If I'm wrong on any of it I will apologize. I suspect I am not but I have been wrong before.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

X Rated: Here is a UTube link below of the late George Carlin which Glen Greenwald embedded in his post. Carlin, of course, is saying things PERFECTLY in his own inimitable style. It's one of my favorite political diatribes from him and is about three minutes long. WARNING: He does NOT, if you know him, mince words. If you do not like a little bit of profane language do not listen but the guy got the nature of everything about our political beast completely correct and I personally am glad he used the phraseology he did.

This country is absolutely clueless sitting on its hands dumb struck, drinking a beer and watching HDTV, and soon to vote in the worst of the worst Republicans often teabaggers or Conservadems who DUPE their constituency. Many, if not most, simply do NOT care. Worse in emergencies it is every man for himself. There is NO help or impotent help as you can clearly see from Katrina and now the Gulf spill. Pass it on to those whom you know would appreciate George Carlin. I paste Glen's blog but to get Carlin you have to scroll down to the picture of him and click on it.

For my bedtime reading I began to read a little of Noam Chomsky's "Failed States." mmmm "Failed States" plus George Carlin ... no WONDER I can't sleep but hey it's reality and you cannot put your head under the covers and pretend it does not exist because when you do that you play into the hands of those who have rigged the game. If you can't click on it either cut and paste the link into your browser or Google "George Carlin The American Dream" and you will get it.

Oh yes, we were in the flood yesterday when we were in Cambridge at the Kendall Theater where we saw only 1/2 of the film "Winter's Bone" as the electricity was cut because of the storm flash flooding the cities. It is just another thing that reinforces global warming and if you cannot see the global warming horror then you are like the creationists believing a fantasy. Our catastrophic weather in the past decades is saying something. If you don't think so STICK AROUND it will be proven to you over and over again, if not to you then to your grandchildren if you have them. Wake up America before it's too late. Unfortunately, I suspect it already is.

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1vFO-2Q

Thursday, July 08, 2010

To Believe or Not to Believe that is the question: I subscribe to a Jewish newspaper. There is within it a section for questions. Here is a question and response from a Rebbetszin which is the wife of usually an orthodox rabbi. Why she is an the authority on issues I have NO idea but, I suppose, some think her as wise as her husband may be. Does she have academic credentials is anyone's guess. I had, naturally, a response to her response. The question and answer is as follows:

Question: My son recently took a class at high school on philosophy that made him question his belief in G-d. He now declares himself an atheist, much to my dismay, after raising him to be an observant Jew. I know that directly challenging him is exactly what he wants because he’s rebelling, so I don’t want to do that. Is there any way I can talk to him about honoring the Jewish tradition without causing a huge argument?

Rebbetszin's Answer: Don’t do it. Everyone has questions about G-d and has struggled with it, at least at one time or another.
If you have raised him as an observant Jew, then he has received the background and foundation that will stand him in good stead as he goes through the normal soul searching and questioning. Encourage him to read theological works written by other observant Jews who discuss the subject.

I took issue with her answer and sent the following to her:

Dear Rebbetzin: In my opinion your response to the woman who was upset about her son "coming out'" as an atheist fell short. It reminded me of parents, when their children come out as homosexual, telling them to read a book about sex between men and women and if the parents gave a solid heterosexual upbringing to the child they should not worry. I think your answer evaded the issue.

When an older child questions and then states that he/she is an atheist reading "theological works by observant Jews" as you suggest begs the entire question nor will the fact that the woman raised her son as an observant Jew address the issue either. In truth, in my opinion, NOTHING written by a theological scholar Jewish or otherwise will convince a non-believer that a god exists. Why? Because nothing anyone can say offers proof of that fact and usually contains personal observations such as the grandiosity of life and that there must be a "creator" for the created. Still, that those writers may believe that offers no proof to the non-believer because there is NO proof.

The substance of Judaism or for that matter ALL god-based belief systems have as their fundamental pinnacle FAITH and that is all they have. Faith and nothing but faith if one has a belief, will be the only explanation that child will find. I think you avoided the question like some parents avoid their children's questions about sex because they themselves find it UNCOMFORTABLE to talk about it.

I think you, as a believer, find that subject uncomfortable so you trivialize it by saying go read a Jewish theological book. There are, of course, many evolutionary biological texts based upon solid evidence which support Darwinian facts to explain the origin of life on earth and, indeed, the universe.

The value of Jewish tradition cannot be argued. It can be honed and rationally reinforced but an atheist, in my opinion, will find little persuasion or consolation in religious texts, modern or otherwise by great Jewish or other theologians which will persuade an atheist to believe in a god because there simply aren't any since FAITH is the operative religious word. Either one has faith and believes or one does not OR one can find co-existence with both religion and science -- two UTTERLY DIFFERENT entities -- living together side by side, decidedly separate, but in peace. Just my opinion.

www.natalierosen.blogspot.com

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Defeat from the Hands of Victory: I taped the Today Show. I both saw and heard Rachel Maddow reporting from Afghanistan. She did a WONDERFUL job. She tells it like it is and I do not have to worry that she is giving some kind of soft soap sugarcoated for-American-eyes-only report. She presented a frank and honest account. While she rightly gave great awestruck accolades to our American can-do troops she was forthright in saying that they are only 20% of what REALLY needs to be done in Afghanistan. The REAL challenge is establishing an Afghan government in Kabul linking Kandahar to it. THAT is the rub and that is EXACTLY why our mission there courts either eternal, expensive war or failure. The Afghan people must govern themselves and it is a HUGE tribal oriented, lawless and geographically difficult land. Once American troops are gone will the Afghan people be able to govern? Can they turn off the saturated endemic corruption which has as its life giving arterial sustenance the lucrative opium trade and unite diverse tribal peoples into one? I have my sincere doubts.

The time for establishing an Afghan government George Bush, one of the worst presidents in US history, let slide. We had kicked the Taliban in their posterior right after the 9/11 attacks and in late 2001 even had Bin Laden and Mullah Omar cornered in the forbidding tribal area of Tora Bora. We let them go and turned our attention to fighting nearly 2000 miles away in Iraq, a land which did NOTHING to us and we now know had NO WMD. It is, indeed, a shame and, in my opinion, even treasonous that George Bush did NOT give the order to kill or capture the 9/11 mastermind murderers when we could have and when he was asked to give that order by our special forces in the region. Only George Bush, the utter incompetent nincompoop president, could snatch defeat from the hands of victory. Victory now may forever elude us.

I both saw and heard Rachel Maddow reporting from Afghanistan. She did a WONDERFUL job. She tells it like it is and I do not have to worry that she is giving some kind of soft soap sugarcoated for-American-eyes-only report. She presented a frank and honest account. While she rightly gave great awestruck accolades to our American can-do troops she was forthright in saying that they are only 20% of what REALLY needs to be done in Afghanistan. The REAL challenge is establishing an Afghan government in Kabul linking Kandahar to it. THAT is the rub and that is EXACTLY why our mission there courts either eternal, expensive war or failure. The Afghan people must govern themselves and it is a HUGE tribal oriented, lawless and geographically difficult land. Once American troops are gone will the Afghan people be able to govern? Can they turn off the saturated endemic corruption which has as its life giving arterial sustenance the lucrative opium trade and unite diverse tribal peoples into one? I have my sincere doubts.

The time for establishing an Afghan government George Bush, one of the worst presidents in US history, let slide. We had kicked the Taliban in their posterior right after the 9/11 attacks and in late 2001 even had Bin Laden and Mullah Omar cornered in the forbidding tribal area of Tora Bora. We let them go and turned our attention to fighting nearly 2000 miles away in Iraq, a land which did NOTHING to us and we now know had NO WMD. It is, indeed, a shame and, in my opinion, even treasonous that George Bush did NOT give the order to kill or capture the 9/11 mastermind murderers when we could have and when he was asked to give that order by our special forces in the region. Only George Bush, the utter incompetent president, could snatch defeat from the hands of victory. Victory now may forever elude us as our cost in precious lives rises in concert with the price in our dollars going down the corruption hole.

This COULD have been avoided ten years ago and we could have declared victory and left with constant vigilance by covert action and special ops but instead this is the legacy George Bush has left us. Now indeed it is Obama's war truly in a few short years few will remember George Bush even existed but his life has been a cruel blow to so many. It is beyond me how anyone would want to sign up for this mission impossible. That is the true miracle that anyone even wants to try. If our world lasts a thousand years it would not surprise me if one could return somehow to Afghanistan one would find the same thing one encounters now -- nothingness. As Alice in Alice in Wonderland says: "It would be so nice if something made sense for a change." So far it does not.
He Who is Without Sin: The link below from CNN is about the imminent stoning of an Iranian woman who will be buried alive vertically up to her neck when stones will be thrown not large enough to kill her immediately but of a size that can inflict severe pain she will surely initially feel. After enough of them are thrown she will, of course, die. Her crime: adultery!

The Medieval-like treatment and punishment of women in the Islamic world is an abomination of the highest order. THIS staggers and confounds me as a progressive. One will hear little outrage from the world, the UN and certainly little to NONE from the Arab/Islamic world which should be rising in indignation at the barbarity of this act. Many on the left in the west, too, will remain silent. People should be screaming in the streets against this innocent Iranian woman's cruel and unusual punishment with its attendant inane torturous death for the most trivial offense.

Let Israel, though, trying to defend its very existence, commit a crime that includes the killing or maiming of those who are innocent and some who are NOT so innocent one hears screams ring around the planet. I do not understand it. Do I think Israel is always right in its course of conduct? NO, of course not but this kind of barbarity most especially levied on women of the Middle East (with the EXCEPTION of Israel) is addressed with anemic world protest.

Medieval draconian principles of punishment, torture, suicide bombings, and the brutal unequal treatment of Arab/Islamic women are a fact of life in the Islamic world. No one can say that is not true. One's eyes do not lie. If we are to condemn our own country and Israel, too, for actions that may include the killing of innocents then we can do NO LESS for the absolute SLAUGHTER in the Islamic world of its own innocents as well as the brutal oppression and suppression of its women. To turn one's head, as my left wing compatriots often do, is nothing less than hypocrisy of a crime against humanity. I surely say he who is without sin cast the first stone!


http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/07/05/iran.stoning/?hpt=T1&fbid=st5YEsiUWfP

Monday, July 05, 2010

Crying: FABULOUS editorial in the Huffington Post by Robert Kuttner. Kuttner says it ALL. Every single thing he wrote in this I have said at various times probably NOT as eloquently. I have, I think, never read an opinion that sums up the Obama presidency so far that is as well written as this and as, in my opinion, completely correct. Unlike, as he says MOST progressives are, I personally am NOT an optimist as those who know me understand.

I would like to take this editorial and hand it to Obama personally not that it would matter very much to him! Prediction: Obama is a one term president unless he changes his stripes and WE the people will suffer all the more for it while he will go off enjoy the millions from his book and the exorbitant fees for the speeches he gives. Where will the people's money come from? Not even the unemployment line. Good luck, America as China rises. Boy did we as progressives get this one WRONG! Read, the link and as Kutner says watch this accident in slow motion. As a progressive I will just sit here and cry!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-kuttner/my-private-obama_b_635289.htm

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Rethink Afghanistan: The short video below commands us on the 4th of July to THINK really THINK what our nation's wars against our terrorist enemies have done and continue to do. We, generally, as a people, do not understand just what dropping bombs on human being's heads REALLY means as we march patriotically down streets carrying flags and lighting fireworks. This country has been spared by its geographical good luck. As our enemies are patient and become more sophisticated someday for us, our children OR our children's children, I fear, our geographical isolation will mean nothing as it did not on 9/11. I fear our enemies ultimately will acquire the unthinkable weapons and not fail to use them.

Most of us sip our coffee in the morning and think not one second about what it is like for an innocent mother to be cradling the body of her dead young child, limbless, faceless and lifeless as an American drone does NOT SEE what it has done. War is about THAT and these wars are NOT keeping us safe. They are endangering us more as the enemy is a patient one who has NOTHING to lose by inscribing on the hearts of his children generation after generation a hatred of Americans for killing their INNOCENTS on their soil. It is what, after all the 9/11 bombers said was the rationale for what they did. That can be debated. What cannot be debated is the longer we are waging perpetual war the more our sons and daughters we commit to the grave, the more we expend HUGE costs and the more we will lose our country to unaffordable constant war sapping our will, our strength and breaking our bank so that we CANNOT afford to send people to school, provide affordable health care for the sick, fix our crumbling infrastructure or alter our warming climate. Ironically perpetual war WILL leave our country defenseless against nature and other men. The leak in the Gulf is a metaphor for those forces which man himself cannot stop.

This war is NOT winnable and it will be forever UNLESS we simply STOP IT by protesting it or supporting candidates that will PULL the funding plug. We must say NO MORE. NO MORE killing, NO more dying, NO more expenditures for wars without end. We have lost more Americans than we did on 9/11. Both economically and militarily we are looking into the abyss. STOP it by fighting terrorism with PRUDENT vigilance and not eternal war. STOP it before it is too late! The video is linked below.

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=410258247434

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Skin Deep: When I see a Frank Rich column I KNOW it's got to be good. He never disappoints me and this is no exception. Link below to his NYT article "Fourth of July 1776, 1964, 2010."

The US is a mixed bag. It's one half good and the other half .... well let's say LESS sometimes MUCH LESS than perfect. I am glad Niki Haley, the Indian-American former Sikh overcame the stupid and, it seems, salaciously false attacks on her character to win the S. Carolina gubernatorial primary BUT I do not like her politics. Lipstick on a conservative is still a conservative and the Republican party has become since Nixon ushered in his "southern strategy" and the so called "moral majority" the party which has a few tokens of color to send its message heretofore carried by the white Dixicrat haters.

The message, I believe, is still the same they just dress it up in a skirt, and give her skin a bit of a hue but not much changes. It is still the party of white power using code words like "activist" to mean they are against government giving the little guy, especially if he is black or Hispanic, a helping hand to ensure equality or "smaller government" to mean smaller just where the minority poor are concerned. Big corporate business, though, takes a BIG government helping hand no problem there. Exclusionary race, big corporate money and religious extremism are still the base of the Republican party and most of the old south. All one has to do is look beneath the surface to see the same old politics of exclusion and white Protestant male power!

The old south with its "conservative" politics of race and gender does NOT die an easy death. It's still in good condition and will live to see, I'm afraid, many more days. For the Democratic party it is obvious it is an eternal and vigilant struggle against the forces that dress a candidate up so they look good but are about policies which keep the monied power of mostly white men in the hands of a very few. In many parts of the nation the pretty picture is only skin deep!

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/04/opinion/04rich.html?hp

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Thoughts on the Late Senator Robert Byrd: A relative of mine wrote in a segment of her blog called “Kudos and Catcalls” of the mixed nature of Senator Robert Byrd. She iterated what was true that Senator Byrd, a man from West Virginia, was, indeed, long ago, a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He was, at one time, a Dixicrat segregationist and thus I have mixed emotions when I eulogize the man as well. The heinous KKK is everything my relative said and for Byrd to have joined it is the abomination she says it is. I am reminded of the Catholic Pope Benedict who has been excused from being a Hitler Youth because the entire social milieu during the Nazi period dictated that he sign-up. Too bad he was not a righteous Gentile.

Too bad Robert Byrd did not morph sooner into what he became AFTER 1965 as he surely morphed into a totally different man. I am reminded, too, of an apologetic George Wallace who said he was absolutely wrong to do what he did opposing integration and spewing his segregation now and segregation forever trash. Later he had a black man as his political right hand man (pardon the pun) to show for it.

The damage ALL of these people have done when they took up the mantle of the extremist racist right cannot be denied or undone. At least, though, in the 2000 votes Senator Byrd cast he voted AGAINST the Iraq War and even came into the Senate in a wheelchair to vote for the health care bill. He in an interview said if he had had it to do over he would have voted FOR the Civil Rights bill. This has to be judged commendable as does his gift for great oratory and his abiding love for our Constitution which he knew verbatim.

I am ALSO reminded of the “to err is human to forgive divine” quote IF the person is truly repentant. Byrd joined the Klan in 1949 a year after I was born. The south was segregated from drinking fountains to restaurants, from schools to voting booths, Jim Crow laws and literacy tests prevailed. We, I think, sometimes forget how difficult it is to change the social order. Even today the sentiment that gave life to slavery and all its attendant evils is still with us as those of us who are politically savvy well know.

It is easy for us to glow in our moral purity but as the Holocaust memorial in Israel of the Righteous Gentiles in Yad Vashem extols and praises those people who were the EXCEPTION to immorality because it truly, then, was the exception and not the rule. When I look deep into my soul am I able to say IF I were gentile in Germany at that time would my name be among those special few. The true answer is I don’t REALLY know. It took exceptional bravery and I am not very brave.

Some orthodox rabbis have said they may not like what the reform Jew does but they HOPE and, indeed, pray the Reform Jew will have a change of heart. They leave room that a person can change and morph into something different and, as they see it, better. On Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, all vows are null and void, the slate is wiped clean and we begin anew and TRY to do better.

It is somewhat how I feel about Senator Byrd. He did what he did when he did it so many years ago but the preponderance of his life in the Senate was, I think, an attempt to right that wrong. I ALWAYS like that some rabbis leave room for a person to change his mind and start over. A man, I think, should be judged by the sum total of his life and not by one part no matter how objectionable. After all, who of us is philosophical perfection in all phases of our life? I see Robert Byrd, in the end, as a righteous Gentile who, as his dear friend Teddy Kennedy said of his own brother Robert Kennedy, “… saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.” I will give a kudos to Senator Robert Byrd rather than a catcall.
Boehner the Boozer: The July 1, NYT article by Gail Collins "The Most Unhappy Fellow" talked about the enigmatic interview of minority leader from Ohio, John Boehner. I saw the interview of Boehner. I couldn't put my finger on it then but the man barely answered the questions, rambled and defined the greatest near collapse of the economy since the Great Depression as an ant. In addition, he got the issue of the Gulf leak totally screwy. He seemed lethargic, sleepy and mumbled as his words rather slurred aimlessly into one another. It was hard to understand what he was saying. Then again that is not so unusual from members of Congress especially Republicans so I dismissed it business as usual. But REALLY what was awry with Boehner? I thought maybe he was not feeling well. Then I read Gail Collins's article this a.m. in the Times (Link below). She explained my subliminal wondering to a tee – inebriation -- Boehner was possibly DRUNK. The reporter states it is known he is quite the drinker, starts early at 5:00 p.m. and does not work very hard except at fund raising. Now THAT is astounding isn't it? I say that in jest!

How many from both sides in Congress keep the bars humming? I only know Washington from what I read in my papers but I don't think I have to go too far out on a limb to think that the bars in Washington depend mightily on Congress for their life. Why? To be a Congressman/woman means one has a mountain of very complex minutia to sift through and at least pretend to understand. The subject matter and its attendant legalize is often boring, you have a bazillion requests and a dose of angry opposition from your constituency as well. Importantly, too, is that one is often away from home and family. The media focus on ESPECIALLY the leaders, even IF they are in the minority, is intense. Ohio’s John Boehner the tan man and his perpetual year round tan, neatly coiffed hair piece seems to indicate, to me, some attempt to, in vanity, hide something -- maybe his age, baldness or bags under his eyes. I do not think those bags under his eyes come from burning the midnight oil studying the issues intensely but rather they come from, perhaps, downing too many Chivas Regal shots at local Washington pubs.

Great, it's not hard to figure out WHY the Republicans are SO utterly out of touch awful. With Republican leaders like Boehner this country is, indeed, in a quicksand soup! Ohioans, CAN'T YOU DO BETTER THAN BOEHNER the Boozer? Try a Democrat. Even though they too can tip a few at LEAST the country might just get something accomplished to cure our potentially fatal disease malady malaise it cannot do with the uncompromising intractable opposition from the Republican Party of filibuster obstruction and No!

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/01/opinion/01collins.html