Monday, September 30, 2013

United We Stand--Democracy's Last Great Hope

What is happening today with the government shutdown ready to occur tomorrow and the very threatening debt ceiling debacle looming shows that Republicans are, as I see it, the biggest threat to our nation and to all of us. In the end I think ONLY about defeating them not only here but most especially all around the country when the 2014 midterms occur. I ask you devote your efforts to that too.

Mass. is blue Democrat. I do not worry as much here but I worry in places like Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan and many other states where Republicans are killing their own states and thereby a nation. It is HUGELY important to our country that we remain united and defeat this now extremist Republican menace. They are the real threat. To that end I have dedicated my efforts.

This scourge of racism, hate and stupidity of Tea Baggers and even most of the Republicans MUST be stopped. I fervently ask you, not only here but across the country through the technologies and by any other means legally non violently and necessary we have to defeat them and send a message of your fervent opposition to what they are doing and the insanity they are creating.
We need to take a page from our adversaries book and work tirelessly for Democrats here and around the nation. Truly, the life of this nation has not been so threatened since the Civil War. The people I know in the end will stand united against this Republican malodorous threat everywhere.

It is important to elect Democrats here and throughout the nation especially in 2014. Simply turn on your TV and see what they are doing to our president and in reality to ALL of us! If Congress does not agree on a budget AND ESPECIALLY if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling we are ALL of us a doomed democracy's last great experiment.

I trust in the long run the nation will survive but it will not IF we do not help it! Give what you can and work as you are able for Democrats everywhere, stand united for democracy's last great hope and run this Republican nightmare into history's ash bin abyss where, HOPEFULLY, they are heading.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Kissing the Ground

The next time one wants to critique the US or Israel as sometimes I admittedly do think on this story and, yes, kiss the US or Israeli ground upon which you stand as Phyllis Chesler did upon her return!

My life of hell in an Afghan harem

September 21, 2013 | 10:55pm
My life of hell in an Afghan harem
Phyllis Chesler, author of "An American Bride in Kabul," spent five months held prisoner in Afghanistan as a young bride.
Naive and in love, I married a man from Kabul — only to discover the horrible life of a fundamentalist Muslim wife.
Phyllis Chesler, 72, is a feminist scholar and a professor emerita of psychology and women’s studies at City University of New York. In her 14th book, “An American Bride in Kabul” (Palgrave Macmillan) out early next month, she shares for the first time the story of the five months she spent, as a young bride, held prisoner in a Afghan household.
I once lived in a harem in Afghanistan.
I did not enter the kingdom as a diplomat, soldier, teacher, journalist or foreign aid worker. I came as a young Jewish bride of the son of one of the country’s wealthiest men. I was held in a type of captivity — but it’s not as if I had been kidnapped.
I walked into it of my own free will.
It is 1959. I am only 18 when my prince — a dark, older, handsome, westernized foreigner who had traveled abroad from his native home in Afghanistan — bedazzles me.
We meet at Bard College, where he is studying economics and politics and I am studying literature on scholarship.
Abdul-Kareem is the son of one of the founders of the modern banking system in Afghanistan. He wears designers sunglasses and bespoke suits and when he visits New York City, he stays at the Plaza.
He is also Muslim.
I am Jewish, raised in an Orthodox home in Borough Park, Brooklyn, the daughter of Polish immigrants. My dad worked door-to-door selling soda and seltzer.
But none of this matters. We don’t talk about religion. Instead, we stay up all night discussing film, opera and theater. We are bohemians.
We date for two years. Then, when I express my desire to travel, he asks me to marry him.
Modal Trigger
The author Phyllis Chesler with her husband in 1959.
“There is no other way for us to travel together in the Muslim world,” he says.
Like a complete heartsick fool, I agree.
My parents are outraged and hysterical. They warn me that no good will come of this union. Little did I know then how right they would be. We marry in a civil ceremony in Poughkeepsie with no family present.
For our honeymoon, we travel around Europe with a plan to stop off in Kabul to meet his family. I did not know that this would be our final destination.
When we land, 30 relatives await our arrival. Among them, not one but three mothers-in-law. I am too shocked to speak, too shocked to question what these three women might mean for my future.
I learn that my real mother-in-law, Abdul-Kareem’s biological mother, is only my father-in-law’s first wife. Her name is Bebugul.
There are bear hugs and kisses all around. The family is warm and inviting — I try to forget about my husband’s glaring omission.
But before the caravan of black Mercedes-Benzes can leave, an airport official demands that I turn over my American passport.
I refuse.
Everyone stops. Both the official and my husband assure me that this is a mere formality. It will soon be returned to me, so I reluctantly relinquish it.
I will never see my passport again.
That means — I would soon learn — that I would not be able to leave Afghanistan at will. I am now subject to the laws and custom of Afghanistan, and as a Afghan woman, that means hardly any rights at all.
My husband’s father owns a compound comprised of numerous two-story European-style houses where the various families sleep with patios, expensive Afghan wool carpeting, indoor gardens, and verandas.
I am only 20, and I am now a member of this household, which consists of one patriarch, three wives, 21 children (who range in age from infancy to their 30s), two grandchildren, at least one son-in-law, one daughter-in-law and an unknown number of servants and relatives.
This is my new home. My prison. My harem.
Modal Trigger
The author’s Afghan passport, given to her after her American passport was taken. It did not allow her to escape.
Our arrival is celebrated with a feast of unending and delicious dishes. Because of my foreign stomach, the foods — kebabs, rice dishes, yogurts, nuts — are baked with Crisco instead of ghee, an evil-smelling, rancid, clarified butter that is loved by locals but wreaks havoc on a non-native’s stomach. The smell of ghee alone can make you throw up if you’re unused to it.
Abdul-Kareem comes alive during the celebration. He speaks Dari (even though I cannot) and leaves me with the other women.
I am unprepared for my first-ever Muslim prayer service. Suddenly, all the men drop to the floor on all fours, prostrating themselves. I had never seen Abdul-Kareem pray before.
When I awake the next morning, my husband is gone. I am completely alone. And I will spend every morning and afternoon that follows alone with my mother-in-law and female relatives.
As the excitement over our arrival wears off, so does my special treatment. The household meals are now only made with ghee. I can’t eat any of it. Secretly I stow away canned goods that I indulge on in the brief moments that I’m left alone.
Two weeks into my confinement and I have only left the compound twice — both times with a calvary of people guarding and watching.
I am bored, so bored.
One day, I decide to sunbathe on the private terrace that adjoins my bedroom. I don a pink bikini covered in purple polka dots. Then I hear a loud commotion that sounds like men yelling at each other.
“What are you doing? You have managed to upset all of Kabul,” my husband says.
He explains that a group of workmen a quarter-mile away caught sight of a “naked woman” and could not concentrate on work. A delegation had descended upon our house to demand that all women, especially I, be properly dressed.
I start laughing.
“Please, please just come in and put something on,” he says. “Rumors spread here quickly. By tonight, they’ll be telling their friends we are running a brothel.”
I do as I’m told.
Modal Trigger
Author Phyllis Chesler in 1959, the year she was whisked away to Afghanistan.
Later I write in my diary: “I have no freedom at all. No opportunity to meet anyone or go anywhere. His family watches me suspiciously. Am I getting paranoid?”
In fact, I have reason to be paranoid.
I discover that mother-in-law has instructed the servants to stop boiling my drinking water. Because the sewage system consists of open irrigation ditches that are used as public bathrooms and for drinking water, I contract dysentery.
Perhaps she thinks I am already “Afghan enough” to withstand any and all germs. Perhaps she wants me dead.
She then begins her conversion campaign. She gives me prayer rugs and prayer beads and urges me to convert to Islam.
If I don’t, I think, will she continue her campaign to sicken and kill me?
The next day she barges into my room with a servant and confiscates my precious hoard of canned goods.
“Our food isn’t good enough for her — she eats from cans,” she says.
I am her captive, her prisoner; she, my jailer, might treat me more decently if I find ways to please her. This is difficult for me to write about but I did it. I repeat the words: “There is one God, Allah, and Mohammed was his prophet.”
I am now a Muslim — at least in my mother-in-law’s eyes — but that still isn’t enough for her. When she is angry at me, she spits at me. She calls me “Yahud” or “Jew.” When I complain to my husband, he dismisses me as being dramatic.
I must escape.
Looking both ways, I walk out feeling like a criminal. I board a bus and notice that all the other women are at the back of the bus wearing burqas. I am horrified, slightly hysterical.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on me. I am without even a head scarf or a coat. In this country, a naked face is almost the same as fully bared breasts. I am lost and dizzy with fear. My husband is informed of my escape, and he finds me and brings me home.
But the desire to flee still nags at me.
“I have been here for three months and have been allowed out only five or six times,” I write in my diary. “Is this imprisonment meant to tame me, break me, teach me to accept my fate as an Afghan woman? I want to go home.”
Abdul-Kareem is fed up with my unhappiness. “He has begun to hit me,” I write. “Had I known something like this could ever happen, had I known that we would have to live with his mother and brothers, I would never have come here.”
I attempt a second escape to the American embassy. But once I arrive, I’m escorted away. Without a US passport, I no longer have any rights as an American.
I try twice more to escape — one with a return to the American embassy and another with the help of a friendly German expat. But before I can set any plans in action, I fall deathly ill.
My temperature climbs to 105 degrees, but I receive no sympathy from my family. After days of struggling — and falling into a coma—a local doctor is called. He diagnoses me with hepatitis, explaining there’s nothing more he can do.
This is my lowest point. I fear that if I die here I will be buried in a Muslim cemetery, forever forgotten.
I continue to fight for my survival and beg to see an American doctor. My family agrees, but only if I am closely guarded.
The doctor, however, manages to get me alone for a brief moment and tells me that I must return to the States for treatment. Then he orders a nurse to give me fluids. The next thing I remember is someone tugging at my IV line.
It’s my mother-in-law.
I call out and am rescued by a sister-in-law, who sits with me through the night. I tell my husband about his mother’s attempt on my life. He dismisses it.
But he now realizes that if I survive this disease, I will leave him. So he contrives a way to make me stay.
That night, a he climbs into my bed when I am feverish and sick and forces himself on me. I’m too weak to fight back. He is trying to impregnate me because if I am carrying his child, I will not be allowed to leave.
Slowly, I recover. But I have missed two periods.
I have to get out and it has to be now. I have only one card left to play: the royal card. I must appeal to my father-in-law, who alone has the power to return to me to my home. I send word through a servant that I would like to see him.
He arrives and almost immediately says: “I think it will be best if you leave with our approval on an Afghan passport, which I have obtained for you. You have been granted a six-month visa for reasons of health.”
He must have decided that he did not want a sick — or dead — American daughter-in-law who was trying to flee on his hands. Perhaps he never wanted a Jewish American daughter-in-law at all.
He already has the passport in hand: #17384. I have it still.
I feel saved; I feel graced. My husband grows incensed and begins to hit me and call me names. But I stand my ground. Even when I board the first plane out, he still believes that as a dutiful wife I will one day return to him.
When the plane takes off, I am filled with more fierce joy than my body can contain. And when I finally land on American soil, I literally kiss the ground.
I suffer a painful miscarriage shortly after my return. My body made that decision for me. I rush past any anguish, return to college, find a job and apply to graduate school. Two years after returning, I get my marriage to Abdul-Kareem annulled.
I’ve never told this story in detail before, but felt that I must now. Because I hear some westerners preach the tortured cultural relativism that excuses the mistreatment of women in the name of Islam. Because I see the burqa on the streets of Paris and New York and feel that Afghanistan has followed me back to America.
I call myself a feminist — but not just any feminist. My kind of feminism was forged in the fires of Afghanistan. There I received an education — an expensive, almost deadly one — but a valuable one, too.
I understand firsthand how deep-seated the hatred of women is in that culture. I see how endemic indigenous barbarism and cruelty is and unlike many other intellectuals and feminists, I don’t try to romanticize or rationalize it.
I got out, and I will never return.
 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Not about politics -- really -- AFTERLIFE -- Points to Ponder

This NYT article caught my eye as I wade through my political depression. The article is entitled "The Importance of the Afterlife -- Seriously" by Samuel Sheffler. I post it below and here. I urge you to read it.

I wrote to Dr. Sheffler a few thoughts ... naturally. I post my letter to him:


Dear Professor Scheffler. I enjoyed your article in the NYT tremendously. I happened upon it while perusing its online edition. My six decade existence has been consumed with the important questions of life. I seemed to be much more mature at 11 years old when I told my mother (who was consumed by a fear of death) that after all one gives life to children but one also gives them death. Well, perhaps I did not at 11 years old use the word "one." I digress. 

I have been consumed by not only death but religious thought and the "why" of it all. What could be a reason for all the suffering, illness and ultimately death interspersed with a few joyous moments? Why do we not only live life but why do we sentence children to this no way out existential conundrum?


My very smart partner has always thought the drumbeat of the generations after generations signifies a oneness with all humanity. I came up short in that I could not answer my own questions and still, the answers elude. Your article, though, puts a new perspective on my questions and, indeed, I will have to think on it more as the airwaves blister a cacophonous sound of people writhing in pain, screaming and our fellow man inflicting unspeakable torture and death upon innocents before many of those innocents even get a chance to see life or, as the great scientist and thinker Jay Stephen Gould called it, the non-overlapping magistaria of it all. 

Perhaps we keep life going because, well, it is so beautiful to see the grandeur of the planet and the miraculous universe around it. Perhaps we do it, too, as your article gives one pause to think, because we know whether we have children or not that life will follow into eternity or at least until the physical end of all of it. Therefore, what we say and do now has an impact on all that comes after us. It gives us purpose.


Despite not having children I have composed opinion taking a position on the political spectrum which does not center around the accumulation of gobs of money but tries rather to advocate for the poor, the disabled, the elderly and the powerless. Since I am childless why should I care? I am not sure except that I believe it is my gift, no matter how small, and my hope that future generations if they care to study our time come across my thoughts and in some small way I can convince others to be an advocate for those whom society oft discards. I have found MY purpose in that.

The philosopher Schopenhauer's centrifugal point when describing man is his will to live. I add to that a will to live a life that is kinder and gentler than what our parents bestowed upon us. That is the hope that sustains me.


Your article gives me pause for more thought. It is wonderful and magisterially done!
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/21/the-importance-of-the-afterlife-seriously/?hp&_r=1&

Monday, September 23, 2013

I'll Say it Again


Yes, I know most have heard my lament before. The situation in this nation is so bad with 30 million people needing life saving healthcare Republicans so cavalierly wanting to deny them so that people in essence die, it is so economically dire with 2% lopsidedly owning nearly all the wealth, the president insulted and obstructed by his near treasonous confederate white tea baggie critics so many times, the unconscionable Ted Cruzes of the country stealing the narrative so many times like the alcohol drenched evil Joe McCarthy before him, the gun insanity violence with it's all-about-the-money National Rancid Association (NRA) so completely insane, the situations emanating from horrific gun violence killing children pierces my heart so deeply that I simply for my good health must, for a while at least, retreat to old reruns of I Love Lucy, Columbo, Gilligan's Island, Dobbie Gillis and Howdie Doody because if I do not I personally will end up in The Twilight Zone. As a matter of fact maybe what I see destroying the nation is really a parallel universe of the twilight zone!

Progressives, GET A LIFE AND ACT!


Who knows how long I can go on retreat and I know I've said it before but I'm taking a break. 

Yes, Peter Finch said it all in the character of Howard Beal, news anchor in the "Network" I paraphrase:

I'm as mad as hell and CANNOT take it anymore!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We Not Only Can but We Must

I a little too hastily posted a like last evening of Iran’s President Housani because of his interview with NBC’s Ann Curry. Much to my chagrin I often wax enthusiastic especially about positive international issues when I should wait. I have a penchant for speaking and/or writing before I know more. Mea maxima culpa. I will rephrase my opinion if for nothing else but my own edification to get my rethought words on record.

I still like Iran’s President Rouhani much better than the previous Ahmadinejad. Moreover, President Rouhani did say it was “important that countries across the Middle East learn to peacefully coexist.” Kudos to at least that. BUT I will not acquiesce to his indictment of Israel for the explosiveness of the entire Middle East region. It is NOT an equitable statement and it is not, in my opinion, correct. One nation, Israel, cannot be held responsible for the tinderbox eruption-on-a-dime of that part of the world. One nation, Israel, cannot be held responsible for it all and is not responsible for it all. Further, those statements send paralyzing fear to most Jews who know the brutal and treacherous history of our people. Iranians are not responsible for the Holocaust but Iranians and others in the Islamic world must understand its impact on the Jew if peace is to prevail.

I do not ever discount the suffering of the Palestinian people nor deny the difficulty of everyday life for them. Every pour of my being wants there to be an equitable solution between Israel and the Palestinian people. But violence or terrorism by another name against Israel and the fear of a second Holocaust it engenders within most every Jew cannot stand again. It is an existential fear. Since President Housani said he does NOT deny the Holocaust then he MUST know its importance. Most Jews live every day with it and often despite its occurrence. The Holocaust is not a rationalization. It is, at its core, a truth and the reality behind the Jewish state. Israel has flourished in the desert since 1948 despite Europe’s best efforts literally at annihilating them.

Further, does President Housani, if he could waive a magic wand, think if Palestinians achieved everything they wanted that there would not be constant war between various Islamic factions fighting each other continuously to control that state or segments of it? This constancy of war in much of the Islamic world because of one sect's long-standing feud over another makes me think -- NO makes me KNOW -- what has occurred in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, the Sudan, Libya, Tunisia and elsewhere is exactly what would happen if the Jewish state were relinquished to a Palestinian majority. I shudder to think what all-too-familiar horrors would be visited upon the then Jewish minority itself in Israel.

The recognition of the Jewish state as a state must be resolved in the Islamic mind. Israel too must swallow its own bitter pill by relinquishing settlements and through negotiation on Jerusalem to achieve an equitable solution.

Still, other things President Housani said were good and I am NOT going to obviate it all. It is a beginning at least between Iran and the US which has not had relations in nearly 35 years. Iran is an admirable culture. It is as fascinating as it is ancient.
I personally know an Iranian Jew and a Palestinian man who are, to say the very least, wonderful human beings. If we can recognize that fact on a singular level we can IF WE TRY recognize it between nation states. We not only can try but we must!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Navy Yard, the Money and the Madness--a Country that Has Lost its Way

Kudos to those of humanitarian spirit who try to enact crucial legislation against horrific guns and those who own them wielding so much death and destruction on the innocent. This group who thinks the Second Amendment is Biblically untouchable is in error.  Our Founders did NOT mean it to be so.  It is more important for the murderous NRA hierarchy to urge everyone to own a gun than it is to care about all the senseless killing that occurs because of them when people who should NOT have a gun easily get one.  

Wayne LaPierre and his NRA lobby be accursed.  Our chant should be "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is for all people (except the police and the military) to have no assault weapons and magazine clips with bullets galore!"  Simple background checks everywhere should be federal mandatnot to be nullified by any state.

After yesterday's shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington I am at a loss for words which is a rare occurrence for me.  Sure, arm everyone what could possibly go wrong?  I am slowly losing my political passion for it all.  I need the incredible enthusiasm of my youth and the hope I once had for this nation to do better. The money and the madness that comes with it is the mirrored reflection of our nation.  It is too big and too powerful unless people of good will can roundly defeat its influence.  Add to the mix the malevolent cancer of racism in the marrow of country’s bones since its beginning along with years of death-wielding killer foreign policies with a volunteer military and it equals one gargantuan toxically violent nation armed to the teeth.

May God help us as it will take something much bigger than defeating the NRA and the rightwing extremist Tea Bag Republicans to redirect a country that has lost its way!

Monday, September 16, 2013

American Exceptionalism -- Another View

"America IS Exceptional And That Needs to Be Cured"

By Rob Kall of Op Ed News: 
(About the author)

Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and website architect of OpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), and publisher of Storycon.org, President of Future health, Inc, and an inventor. He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com
Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

He writes:

Russian head of state Vladimir Putin wrote, in a New York Times Op-ed,
"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,"

But the need to feel superior seems to be very strong, for many people. Throughout history, writers have spoken of ways that "man" is superior to all the other animals, or species. But primatologist Frans de Waal has said,   "humanity never runs out of claims of what sets it apart, but it is a rare uniqueness claim that holds up for over a decade." He has shown that primates demonstrate caring, sharing, fairness and many kinds of cognition that have been attributed to "only humans."

I asked him why people have the need to feel superior to animals. He didn't really have an answer. After all, he studies primates, not people. Of course, there's religion, which puts man ahead of animals, claiming that only man is moral. But de Waal and other researchers have clearly shown that, indeed, animals are also moral, that it's built into the DNA, not just of primates but of all mammals and even birds. Still there are probably hundreds of millions if not billions who feel they are superior to animals, more deserving of being treated specially.

Daniel Quinn wrote a best-selling novel, “Ishmael” that described leavers and takers. In my interview with him earlier this year, he described what they are:
"Leavers are people who leave the rule of the world in the hands of the Gods, and takers who've taken the rule of the world into their own hands."

Quinn points out that there have been religions, animistic religions that took that "leaver" approach, but they have not fared as well as religions that advocate that humans are superior, and deserve to be the "superior" "takers." He told me, in our interview,

"I have this theory that there have been hundreds of more religions than the ones we know about, and the ones that survived are the ones that fit in with our cultural mythology: that fit in with the vision of humanity as the most important thing in the universe, that endorses the idea that humans are here to rule the rest of the living community.  The ones that didn't, for example, Animism, which was the practically the universal religion of Leaver Peoples, and still is, wherever they are still found, does not support it [our cultural mythology], and so it is not one of our religions.  It's hardly known, but it doesn't say anything about that.  Animism is a religious world view rather than a religion, a world view that sees the world as a sacred place, and humans as belonging in a sacred place.  This is not an idea that fits with our culture's vision of the world and humanity, and so it doesn't appear as a religion to us."

I asked Quinn, who also wrote a book, “Beyond Civilization," Do you think there's a possibility that the next stage beyond civilization could be a spiraling evolution up towards another bottom up way of being?"

He replied, "It has to be.  Hierarchy is the disaster."

"Hierarchy is all about superiority in different forms, about power, wealth, and control. We live in a nation that celebrates hierarchy, supposedly based on merit-- a meritocracy. But Chris Hayes, in his book, "Twilight of the Elites," and other writers and thinkers, have torn that American claim to shreds.  It is an illusion and a fraud."

Perhaps the selling job that has been done for capitalism and consumerism has worked to get many Americans to have a greater need than other nationals to feel superior to the people of the rest of the world. I would agree with Putin that this is dangerous, particularly for the ninety nine percenter Americans who have bought into this view of America, tying it to their egos and identities.

Putin says, "There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too," he wrote.  "We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."

I've come to believe that American exceptionalism is bad for America. It creates a sense of privilege and a dangerous jingoism that American politicians, TV pundits and some religious leaders, in particular, seem to need to manifest.  (Emphasis added)

Putin is far from a saint. But his words are wise and worth heeding...
... Perhaps we could set some new exceptional goals-- to be humble, to be kind, and to treat all living creatures as deserving to live in a safe, ecologically healthy environment. There ARE visions out there, of equality and justice.

The fact is, the world has radically shifted, over the past two hundred some years from feudalism, monarchy and authoritarianism to democracy. Democracy its regulations and rules have been put into place not just to create fairness-- like Frans de Waal and other researchers have shown "lowly" animals demonstrate, but also to protect the majority of people in the world from the predators-- the psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists and paranoids who live to embrace hierarchy and rank, control over and domination.

We have progressed dramatically in the past two centuries. But that progress has always been fought by the top down powers, the "takers," as Quinn describes them, and in the worst cases, the psychopaths.

When it comes to Obama tapping that idea of American exceptionalism to sell his goal of an attack on Syria, he is drawing upon the darker side of America. Mythologists, symbologists and poets explore the "shadow," which we all have. The energy for American exceptionalism comes from America's "shadow." Wise, evolved, mature people get to know their shadows, and learn to manage them. America needs to do the same, starting with our leaders, instead of pandering to our shadows.

Still, there are American exceptionalism realities that we SHOULD face and talk about. There is American execeptionalism we should do something about.
We have more prisoners than any other nation-- and most of them haven't harmed anyone, but prosecuting and jailing them keeps them off the voter rolls in many states.

We have the largest military and largest military budget-- which means more money going to expenses that do not grow the economy or build the nation's inner resources and strengths.

We spend more on healthcare than any other nation, yet we are the only first world nation, the only member of the G-20 nations which does not provide health care for all citizens.

We are a nation that spends more on spying on citizens than any other nation.

We are a nation that uses more psychiatric drugs than any other nation.

We are a nation that sets the standard for voting corruptibility, with electronic tallying that is impossible to reliably recount.

The list goes on and on, and then there are all the other list items where we are low, like infant death rate, access to WIFI, educational skills...

There are people-- conservatives, liberals, Democrats-- who will say that we are the best country because of our freedoms, that we have the best medical system.

... Now, there are well over 100 democracies in the world, some with greater press freedoms, where reporters are not prosecuted for reporting the truth, or prosecuted for refusing to provide sources.

Most of the positive American exceptionalism claims apply to the one percent-- and yes, we do have more billionaires than any other nation, and we have some of the worse income inequality and inability to leave the income level you are born in, than other nations.

But most of the illusions of exceptionalism that conservatives think we have are easily disputed when cast in the light of reality.

Perhaps that's another one -- Americans are among the most duped and deluded people in the world-- by our politicians, our economic system and our mainstream media.

Putin is far from a saint. His treatment of gays and critics is abominable. His goals for writing his op-ed probably include protecting Assad and impeding Obama's efforts to support Assad's opposition. That doesn't change the fact that [some of] what he's written [has truth.]

http://www.opednews.com/articles/America-IS-Exceptional-And-by-Rob-Kall-American-Exceptionalism_Hierarchy_Psychopath-130915-856.html

The Telling Typhoon--the TRUTH of science. It behooves you to read this

This story below -- a typhoon (hurricane of the Pacific) -- is one of epic proportions and should be the lead story on every news broadcast in the world. It is yet another HUGE disaster in Japan, an already extremely compromised nation because of the Fukshima nuclear power plant explosion from the tsunami before it leaking thousands of gallons of radioactive water into the ocean. It is now affecting our shores and will affect us even more if the transparency of its horror is not shown to the people that will suffer from it -- ALL of us!


Nuclear power is unsafe at any speed and should be dead on arrival as an alternative to fossil fuels.  It cannot be made safe ESPECIALLY in our climate changed world.  Nuclear power is potentially just as destructive as fossil fuels if not more IF that is possible.
Waxing redundant the Japanese Fukishima nuclear power plant suffered one of the WORST nuclear power disasters this planet has ever seen if not THE worst. Ahuge typhoon now that is hitting Japan is seemingly catastrophic. IF the lamebrain know nothings who REFUSE to see the climate change handwriting on the wall then they are truly brain deadThe Colorado epic flood, too, is yet another nearly daily reminder that climate change is here and happening faster than anyone thought it would!  

What will it take for the religious right wingnuts to believe what science is telling them smacking all of us right in the face with its truth?!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/typhoon-man-yi-japan_n_3932634.html

Saturday, September 14, 2013

From our mouths into God's ears -- WE HAVE A DEAL!!!!

On this day when I first clicked onto the news from MSNBC and Huffington Post the headlines are below in BIG letters. I have not read the entire articles as I have just awoken but the headlines themselves sent a chill up my spine. Can I be so deliriously happy that we averted a major proliferation of war with a possibility of, if the major powers were involved, a nuclear war? I do not know but it's possible this is one of the greatest achievements in that violent Middle East neck of the woods.

I'd like to believe those in this country who said NO to war in profound numbers, those who called Washington, who wrote Washington, including this writer, prevailed. Maybe it is an abundance of things that fell into place--yes not only from the president and John Kerry but from Russia's Vladimir Putin as well.

Many good things could come of this. It says to me and I hope to many that negotiated settlements are possible even if the belligerents are the most intractable. Maybe this could lead, if in fact there is a solid deal, to more seemingly impossible situations resolved ... maybe.

This Yom Kippur day, the most solemn day for those Jews that observe it and even for ones who do not, perhaps our plaintive wail and our fervent hope between people who often had no hope can prevail. That is what I pray for on this day not for personal good luck but for ALL people to see with clarity that which unites us and not which divides us. As John Lennon wrote: "Give Peace a Chance" or as Jews say during this time of reflection L' shana tova -- A happy (and peaceful) new year and as my mother used to say "From your mouth into God's ears."


I paste the stories herehere and below.



and on Huffington: We Have a Deal

http://www.nbcnews.com/

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Plea for Caution From Russia What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria--I urge you to read this amazing piece

I paste here and below Vladimir Putin's letter to the American people in the Op Ed section of the New York Times.  I would say that it is amazing. I cannot wait to hear the talking heads tomorrow. Mr. Putin has a lot for which to answer as well but I believe the article is quite right. He must have been listening to Prof. Noam Chomsky on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" here or below one the most excellent commercial free news broadcasts on television today IF one can get it. 

Prof. Chomsky outlines a list over the last 70 years that makes the US exceptional all right -- exceptionally violent and lawless! And in my opinion it has been and is getting worse judging by the gun lobby's successful attempt to recall two state senators for wanting a small amount of gun legislation. I aver violence is in our body politic. It is the sinew in our tissues and the marrow is in our bones.  It is the wild west times 10 and it is to our detriment.

The news we get is tainted by the corporate structures that own most all of the stations even MSNBC which is the best, in my opinion, of a not so great lot. Local news is entirely fluff and the national news is well 15 minutes of pabulum. Naturally, the powers that own the nation to not want a well read questioning public. They want a stupid public that watches game shows, reality TV or sports and goes along with anything the powers that be want because most question nothing. Mr. Putin is quite correct to my sadness as it is not how I remember this nation as a child. I love my country but I think it can do better.  It not only can do better it must do better if we are all to survive on this planet together.

This nation along with Russia and others kept Nazi jackboots off our necks. I do not like all of Mr. Putin's policy but I will tell it like it is when I think he is speaking the truth.  And this time I think he is spot on correct!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How We Stopped the War by Alan Grayson

Alan Grayson is doing outstanding work as a congressman since his re-election last November.  Here is what he had to say.  Sorry my blog cuts it off.  Cannot seem to fix that.  Oh well you get the point.  Go to Alan Grayson.com to read it better.  He is a GEM. .. a price above rubies!

Dear Friends:

After three frenetic weeks, during which time Team Grayson was burning the midnight oil every night, it's time to take stock of what we've accomplished.


Here were the headlines in late August, just before we started our campaign against U.S. military intervention in Syria.


"Syria crisis: UK and US finalise plans for military strikes" - The Guardian, August 27.

"Syria strike due in days, West tells opposition - sources" - Reuters, August 27.
"Strike Against Syria is Imminent" -Reuters, August 27.
"Obama Will Bomb Syria" - Politico, August 26.
"U.S. military 'ready' to attack Syria, Hagel says" - CBS News, August 27.

And here are the headlines, now:


"Obama to explore diplomatic route on Syria," - Reuters, September 10.

"U.S. to Work Through U.N. on Syria Arms Proposal" - The New York Times, September 10.
"Obama Agrees To U.N. Discussion Of Putting Syria Chemical Weapons Under International Control" - Associated Press, September 10.
"Syria Will Sign Chemical Weapons Convention, Declare Arsenal, Foreign Ministry Says" - Reuters, September 10.

Let's go behind the headlines, to the numbers in Congress. Bloomberg News just came out with its own count of how every single member of the U.S. House and Senate would vote on war with Syria. In the U.S. Senate, which is institutionally designed to favor war and bailouts, the war vote is losing 34-22. That's shocking -the Senate is voting for peace?! In the U.S. House of Representatives, it's even better. House members oppose war by a 10-to-one margin. The Washington Posthas it at 26 in favor, 251 against.


In other words, we are winning. Peace is winning.


How did this miracle happen?


To answer that question, look in the mirror.


You did this. Your calls and e-mails. Your pressure. The military industrial complex, the neoconservatives like Dick Cheney, the foreign policy corporate-funded think tanks in D.C., the warmongers at the State Department - they wanted war, but you wouldn't let them. We stood up for peace.


Now, what's interesting is not just that we averted military action (so far). It's also what has happened, because we averted military action. We showed that successful diplomacy, shunted aside just a week ago as irrelevant, is actually possible.


Think about this. We are on the verge of a solution that:
  • Removes chemical weapons from Syria, preventing another attack and putting them out of the reach of both the Assad regime and Al Qaeda,
  • Does not require the use of dangerous military force by the United States,
  • Compels Syria to become a signer to the Chemical Weapons Convention,
  • Restores the role of Congress in matters of war and peace, and
  • Rejuvenates the United Nations as a platform for peace.
This happened only because of our work. To his credit, President Obama listened. He listened to Congress, to the voices of allies around the world asking us to pause, and most importantly, to We the People of These United States. But you spoke, President Obama listened, and now peace may bloom.

Of course, we may still go to war - the war lobby is fierce and relentless. Even as we speak, warmongers in Congress are writing new war resolution language, thinking that if they tweak this word or that word, making it an itsy-bitsy, teensy-weensy war, it can pass. To that, we say, "a big, fat NO."


We have shown that Peace can be more powerful than War.


And hopefully, one day soon, we will not be arguing about where to direct our bombs. If you and I keep working together, we will be trying to figure out what to do with the fruits of peace - the Peace Dividend.


Courage,


Rep. Alan Grayson

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Let's Make a Deal--Suspense in Syria


Syria Suspense: Is the president a master chess player? Will Assad agree to the deal and give up the chemical weapons he said he did not have? Wait he must have them or he could not give them up, right? Will Putin be a broker too and look manly? Did the president just make the deal of the century to avert war? Will he make Republicans look like crud (I surely hope so)? Is watching him like watching a genius at work? Am I going to have to eat crow? I dunno. It will not be the first time. Maybe I should stay out of the foreign policy assessing business and take up knitting?

Before we judge NOW I say watch and wait. What an amazing turn of events. Stay tuned.

Ask the Right Questions--the Potential Repeat Blunder of US Middle East Policy

I urge everyone who cares about war and peace, everyone who cares about this nation, everyone who worries about the future of their children to question mightily this latest potential destructive turn into bombing Syria. The link below is one to "Democracy Now." I saw part of the program today that broadcast Amy Goodman interviewing a Syrian woman opposed to US intervention in Syria.

Finally, Amy Goodman asked the right questions and listened to a Syrian authority talking about a rationale for US intervention into Syria. She talked about how much of a fig leaf humanitarian intervention is and what the history of this nation's intervention into the Middle East has wrought. 


As I have said in other posts war is rarely about humanitarian policy especially in the Middle East. It is about hegemony, power and money often oil and gas reserves. It is insane, given the US track record in the Middle East and Iraq to bring up yet again another WMD rationale for war. Who made this dastardly chemical weapons attack? Is it Assad who would have nothing to gain by using chemical weapons OR is it the rebels composed of some of the worst, most prolific and cruel religious extremists on the planet?  
This time the intervention COULD have dire consequences. The rebel groups wait in hopes of American intervention. The US would play right into their hands, including Al Qaeda, trying to force regime change even though US leadership says otherwise. I supported this president wholeheartedly through two election cycles. I loved him but this latest policy venture, frankly, has me stumped.

"Democracy Now" asks the right questions since she is not tied to corporate apron strings. Listen to her broadcast below and force your representatives and anyone else who will listen to bring up the points that "Democracy Now" illuminates.


http://www.democracynow.org/

Monday, September 09, 2013

30 Years of Failed U.S. Middle East Policy

The following is a Bill Moyers's interview of Andrew Bachevitz, Professor of History at Boston University, graduate of West Point and Vietnam War veteran. Writer of the "Limits of Power" and "Washington Rules -- America's Path to Permanent War." This interview is well worth your time to understand the issues of Syria given by a man who lost his son in Iraq.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Hegemonic Maintenance

Yet, again Mr. Charles Blow, a NYT editorialist in his opinion "Remembering All the Children" link here or below presents a very cogent and well written opinion remembering all the children killed each day all over the world including in our own country. I could not agree more. Moreover, I would go one place further and say that our 12 year wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and drone strikes in numbers of other Middle East countries kill many times over those who suffered the dastardly 9/11 attack. This country has killed thousands many of whom are women and children while creating millions of refugees and the US has successfully destabilized this tinderbox so we could what? Save it? Bombs do not discriminate. Collateral damage is everywhere. What could possibly go wrong with yet another shock and awe bombing this time in Syria? Further, I ask Mr. Blow to reflect on American foreign policy in general post WWII. War and unnecessary slaughter is a part of the American sinew.

Beyond that who can really say with 100% surety that the chem. attacks were at the hands of Assad as I have read rebels albeit crudely are provided with chem weapons of their own.
The sanctimonious reaction of this nation in view of its utterly bombastic history is hypocrisy of the the worst order. It is testament to the fact that not only is history written by the winners the press is complicit in the regurgitation of a mythical US that has never existed since the beginning of its history nor does it exist today. Our nation is nearly always in a state of perpetual war, constant and unabating just waiting for the next fig leaf of our humanitarian rationales and lies to strike our killing blows yet again in hegemonic maintenance.

World War III this time anyone? Say NO to the Syrian attack and YES to improving this nation's devastating problems. Say yes to the defeat and utter electoral annihilation of the Republican Tea Bag movement without which this nation would be well on its way to recovery since Republicans brought us to the economic abyss.












http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/07/opinion/blow-remembering-all-the-children.html?hp