Thursday, July 31, 2014


If Republicons take it all, seriously, I want to leave. I'll go anywhere but here. I cannot live in a nation like that that's not the nation I knew and not in 2008 thought it would become. My doc said to me as we were discussing politics "the world is nasty." He did get that one right.

I'm so sickened by everything. So many racists here, so many mean, cruel rotten fascistic like right wingnut bastards and the people of those poverty stricken southern and even some mid western states and even a northeastern one step on their own toes economically and vote them in! They get no health care and no jobs. They THINK they are sticking it to the president. Guess what? THEY ARE STICKING IT NOT TO HIM BUT TO THEMSELVES. Sickening beyond words.

Blacks, Hispanics, and everyone of color and of some degree of humanity, the poor and the middle class should vote en mass in November, 2014 to get Republicans out of state legislatures and OUT of our Congress. Democrats, REGISTER TO VOTE, take back the Congressional House, keep the Senate. Tons should vote everywhere November, 2014 to get Republicans out!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Why is the left silent?

My good friend sent me this: 

Facebook Post Sparks Deadly Violence Against Ahmadis in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A mob attacked and killed a grandmother and two children over a “blasphemous” Facebook post allegedly published by a member of their minority religious sect in Pakistan on Sunday. Police allege that Aqib Salim, 25, uploaded an “obscene and objectionable picture of the Kaaba [Islam’s holiest site] and a scantily clad woman" on the site.

One wonders where the humane left of center brigade is:

ere's the rest of the story

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Supporting Israel

I am a Jew and I have supported Israel always. I continue to but there is no question that the daily news media dose of the carnage I see in Gaza bothers me. I wonder, though, if the carnage were on the Israeli side would there be a vociferous group of Palestinians for peace or would they cheer as they have on so many occasions for any suffering inflicted by them on Israel and its Jews?

It is the fact I know that no amount of shelling by Israel on Gazans will make them think twice about their desire -- at least Hamas's desire -- to eradicate the Jew and the Jewish state. They are determined to do that and they say so all the time. So I at once cringe at the horrendous suffering of the Palestinian people, want a two-state solution and the silence of peace to erupt but I know the enmity of Palestinians against the Jew runs deep as that hatred has run deep all over the world for 2 thousand years. Jews without power were pilloried and now Jews with power are vilified.

Moreover, for me, my support of Israel includes the historical reality of the Holocaust -- the systemic murdering of the 6 million and, perhaps, even 10 million Jews. It always, sits in the forefront of my frontal lobes.  In the final analysis, the world still shows over and over and over again its affection for a "final solution" to its "Jewish problem."  One need only Google two headlines to know there is still the continual din and unrelenting ghost of the longest hatred: "France's Jews Flee As Rioters Burn Paris Shops, Attack Synagogue"
and "... German Protesters Chant 'Gas the Jews' in Anti-Israel Rallies." See links below.

It is why I do not join J Street or any other Jewish/Palestinian peace organization because I fear in my heart another annihilation of the Jew awaits on the horizon. A one-state solution would mean certain death for Jews and the Jewish state Hamas continues to state in its charter it wants.

When Jews fight to defend themselves, I admit, I like it and it is in no small part because of the Holocaust that I do!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


ISIS Militants Order Iraqi Females to Undergo Genital Mutilation

So my leftist friends keep supporting Islamic Fundamentalist states! How come I hear no outcry from you?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I am a Jew and I have supported Israel always. I continue to BUT there is no question that the carnage I see in Gaza bothers me. I wonder, too, if the carnage were on the Israeli side would there be a vociferous group of Palestinians for peace or would they cheer as they have on so many occasions for any suffering inflicted by them on Israel?

It is the fact that I know in my heart that no amount of shelling by Israel on Gazans will make them think twice about their desire -- at least Hamas's desire -- to eradicate the Jew and the Jewish state. They are determined, they say, to do that no matter what. So I at once cringe at the horrendous suffering of the Palestinian people, want a two-state solution and the silence of peace to erupt BUT ... there is always a BUT because I know the enmity of Palestinians against the Jew runs deep as it has run deep all over the world for 2 thousand years. Jews without power were pilloried and now Jews with power are vilified. Where do people like I gain the victory that peace would bring?

Moreover, the BUT also includes, for me, the Holocaust -- the systemic murdering and crushing of the 6 million and perhaps even more like 10 million Jews. Always, it sits in the crevices of my mind that in the final analysis the world has shown over and over and over again it wants Jews dead!

So, I do not join J Street or any other Jewish/Palestinian peace organization because I know in my heart another Holocaust for the Jew awaits on the horizon. A one-state solution would mean certain death for Jews and the Jewish state.

So, when Jews fight to defend themselves, I admit, I like it and it is in no small part because of the Holocaust that I do!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cold -- warm -- comfort

With respect to the Ukranian situation, for those who think the west is always at fault, I suppose Russia is not interested in hegemony, money and power control over everything. Most people are I fear critically unthinking.

Either the US and the west are all evil and want hegemony, wealth and power OR Russia and its allies are all evil and want only hegemony, wealth and power. Both assessments are wrong. National conflict has always been about attaining hegemony, wealth and power. The only question one should entertain is on which side vying for hegemony, wealth and power does one want to sit.

As dangerous as policy can be in this country, and I am very critical of it at times, try existing in Russian-backed states and see how existentially great life would be. This country and the west for all its faults are legions better than our adversaries for a plethora of rationales which are so obvious I need not enumerate them here.

If one wants to experience the truth of tyranny give up US citizenship and take out citizenship papers in Russia. Then write critical opinion on the Russian state. See how receptive the Russian state will be to that while one counts the minutes before one receives the nightly knock on the door wishing one a pleasant Siberian holiday in winter or worse.

Emphasizing my point, even Ed Snowden, it seems, thinks having a trial in the US just might be better than staying in Russia. No kidding, Snowden! Those who want to tear this nation down on the left or the right see no forest through the proverbial trees. If Utopia exists on planet earth anywhere I'd like to see it.

War, sickeningly so, has been man's historical state since time immemorial. The difference in our era, sadly, is the nuclear and WMD threat that can annihilate us all. It is exactly why we cannot and MUST not entertain a trigger happy response anywhere which truly can end in a Condoleezza Rician mushroom cloud but not from the nation, Iraq, she so mendaciously and erroneously said it could.

Not to worry though if man and his hegemonic testosteronized insanity does not eradicate all of us, man's inattention to climate change will! Is there cold -- I mean warm -- comfort in that?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Mistakes of Ukraine

I sent out an opinion which contained an error in English spelling. I said the following:
Yes, I do know that a projectile is missile and that a missal is a religious book.  Apologies for the oversight.  Why is this important to me?  Because language is important.  The truth is I wrote the short paragraph fast and spell check picked up the wrong word that sounds alike but is the incorrect word meaning something completely different.  I am not fond of homonyms that make the English language one of the most difficult to accurately learn.  But I make no excuses except to say I was tired and did not feel like going the extra mile to be scrupulously sure of word errors.  Mea culpa (Latin for my fault!)  That will teach me! Yes, I know this is unimportant when one measures it against the context of what has happened in Ukraine which is a huge tragedy of immense proportions. 

Whatever the spelling it appears as of now the Malaysian plane was shot down by a Russian made technologically sophisticated missile and was shot down by Russian separatists. 

Someone sent me another explanation by an expert in the field of Ukrainian politics, a Princeton professor, whom Amy Goodman had on her show, "Democracy Now."  You can Google it or scroll way down.  My thoughts now gleaned from the logic of Rachel's show are that the Princeton expert is, in my opinion, leaning wrong. 

If one looks at the site of Rachel Maddow's show of July 18 she explained it yesterday better than anyone I have heard or read yet.  She does it by deductive reasoning because we do not know for certain all the facts yet.  The link to her show is pasted underneath these paragraphs.  It is worth watching all of the show from the larger video.  There are 4 windows at the bottom of the main video in which she addresses the various aspects of the issue.

Rachel is a window into truth in politics!

-----Original Message-----
From: Natalie Rosen <>
To: natalierosen <>
Sent: Fri, Jul 18, 2014 7:41 pm
Subject: Another view

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Out of the Ashes

I love Israel and the Jewish people.  My humanitarian politics and the Jewish state were honed out of ashes of the Holocaust and the barbaric murder of the six million.  Even though I did not experience the Holocaust personally, it is in my blood from a very early age -- maybe age 10 -- when I first saw in one of our local theaters a newsreel of that era reporting on it showing dead mounds of Jews from the camps being bulldozed into pits as the Allies liberating the camps had to work quickly to bury the many corpses left. As a child I became nauseated at the sight of it and almost threw up!

It was from then on and later in the late 1960's when my politics developed, and like so many Jews before me, I became left of center.  I have criticized my compatriots on the left for not seeing the forest through the trees.  Does anyone believe that if the situation were reversed and Palestinians held immense fire power that they would let Jewish civilians know when they were about to bomb them or that Palestinians would not cheer if Jewish innocents were killed?  They cheered when they found out about the deaths of three Jewish teens that sparked this latest round of violence.  How can one look at so many Arab states and not see what Islamic fundamentalist behavior does, the kinds of tribal warring cultures they are, and how they crush, in Middle Ages fashion, even their own women and young girls?  This week in Pakistan a man and woman whose only crime was that they loved each other and wanted to marry but their marriage did not meet the families’ approval and so the families “honor” killed them by beheading them both.  We remember, too, Malala, the Afghanistan young girl who gained media notoriety because she was shot in her brain by the Taliban and nearly died.  What was her crime?  She wanted to learn.  Both are mind-numbing singular examples among many acts of Islamic extremist brutality but the left generally remains uncritical and silent.

I want the violence and constant killing to stop but I am proud of Israel and what a modern nation state it has created.  The Jews rose from the ashes to come back and because of the Holocaust have shown our collective strength and scientific brilliance all over the world.

No matter how critical now the world is against the Jewish state or when historically nations have been so lethal to the Jew when Jews fight back I like it.  I wish they had done so through centuries of being at the mercy of Christian state-sponsored murder of Jews, suffered the pogroms of Eastern Europe and the Nazi "final solution" to their "Jewish problem" by killing the 6 million.  I wish we had not marched to the camps like weak sheep to the slaughter.

Israel, however, now has the second strongest defenses in the world.  It fights for its life against those who would destroy it.  But I still worry that Israel’s enemies will not quit because they hate us so much.  So be it.  Who in history has not hated us?

I do pray in times of great peril for Israel to survive.  I am afraid, though, if compromise is not met, as Arab numbers increase and as they become more militarily sophisticated that Israel one day may cease to exist.  At the same time, I loathe, too, the endless suffering on both sides and fear a wider war including the use of nuclear and other WMD.  Ultimately, I fear man's eradication of himself. 

According to NBC News “Palestinian militants have fired more than 900 rockets at Israel. … But there has been as yet only one death on the Israeli side, in large part because of a new rocket-defense system (the Iron Dome) that has intercepted many of the incoming projectiles.”

When Jews are strong 2000 years of anti-Semitic Christ-killing lies and rationales of violence against us along with millions of vicious brutal slayings of us are avenged.  Yes, I am, in the final analysis, a Jew who loves the democratic state of Israel and I say Am Yisrael chai. (The nation of Israel lives.)  May it always be so!

Saving the Ship of State before it is too late

The ship of state is sinking and a lot faster than I thought it would. Racism seems to be permanently branded on the American soul and the president is the recipient of it. It is impossible for him to govern with the consent of Congress so he governs by executive order.

A Republican majority House wields power we never knew it could because there never has been such obstructionist, intractable and, in the end, racist control by the Republican Tea Party of stupid.  Tea Republicans swept to a House majority in 2010 forcing Democrats to ever-so-reluctantly hand over the Speaker’s gavel to the political hack John Boehner.  It is impossible for the president to get anything done in the face of all of their malevolence toward him with a sidecar of Republican and Tea Party lies.  Even Boehner, the politically pragmatic Speaker, cannot control them.  Democrats MUST take back the House.  There is no other way to make the system work for especially the middle class.  There has never been, in the history of this nation, such a wide disparity of wealth between the haves, the have littles, and the have nots.  That is not Marxian analysis it is statistical reality and Republicans want to maintain that in perpetuity. 

A Democratic president can do nothing without at least one conservative Court middle class eradicator and activist judge of the 1% either resigning or expiring when there is a Democratic president.  With a Democratic House, Senate and the overthrow a noxious Citizen's United reactionary Supreme Court majority the nation might have a chance to resurrect, repair its sagging infrastructure and put people back to work. Middle class survival will occur only when there is a progressive majority in both houses of Congress.  If governance of this nation is in Republican hands making no attempts to roll back climate change with an explosive volcanic Middle East and a chasm of division at home on every issue the continuous reality for this nation and the world at large spells doom.

There are things over which we have no control but the things we can control we should by using the system we have to perfect the changes we so desperately need.  Pragmatically, the only Party is the Democratic Party (not the one on the corporate take) that can bring that change.  Elect them before it’s too late!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dahlia Lithwick the Great!

Suggest you watch the video and soak up Dahlia Lithwick's and Linda Greenhouse's brilliance. Dahlia is one of my favorites and often on MSNBC as commentator. Her mind awes me and I think it should awe you too!

Climbing Everest

"The Exceptional Decline for the Exceptional Country" by Tom Englehardt is a brilliant article I paste below to which I dispute nothing.  The question becomes is our future that truly bleak?  Can this nation once the dream of many become the dream of even some once again?  We the people still have power BUT when we allow shameful dark money to control it all including us then truly the majority have nothing and only ourselves to blame. 

Yes, I know the two parties are Tweedledee and Tweedledum as the loathsome George the Segregationist Wallace once said.  He had a point ONLY on that though.  BUT it is what we have.  Use your vote as your ONLY source of power and forget ever on planet earth voting Republican.   No one lives forever.  Overturn Citizen's United by changing the Court when we can IF Democrats keep the presidency, keep the Senate, take back the House and make damn well sure the Democrats whom you elect do YOUR bidding and NOT the bidding of the corporate state. It is really that simple but remains seemingly an Everest mountaintop to climb!

An Exceptional Decline for the Exceptional Country?


The Empire as Basket Case

Cross-posted with

For America’s national security state, this is the age of impunity.  Nothing it does -- torture, kidnapping, assassination, illegal surveillance, you name it -- will ever be brought to court.  For none of its beyond-the-boundaries acts will anyone be held accountable.  The only crimes that can now be committed in official Washington are by those foolish enough to believe that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth.  I’m speaking of the various whistleblowers and leakers who have had an urge to let Americans know what deeds and misdeeds their government is committing in their name but without their knowledge.  They continue to pay a price in accountability for their acts that should, by comparison, stun us all.

As June ended, the New York Times front-paged an account of an act of corporate impunity that may, however, be unique in the post-9/11 era (though potentially a harbinger of things to come).  In 2007, as journalist James Risen tells it, Daniel Carroll, the top manager in Iraq for the rent-a-gun company Blackwater, one of the warrior corporations that accompanied the U.S. military to war in the twenty-first century, threatened Jean Richter, a government investigator sent to Baghdad to look into accounts of corporate wrongdoing.

Here, according to Risen, is Richter’s version of what happened when he, another government investigator, and Carroll met to discuss Blackwater’s potential misdeeds in that war zone:
“Mr. Carroll said ‘that he could kill me at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,’ Mr. Richter wrote in a memo to senior State Department officials in Washington. He noted that Mr. Carroll had formerly served with Navy SEAL Team 6, an elite unit. ‘Mr. Carroll’s statement was made in a low, even tone of voice, his head was slightly lowered; his eyes were fixed on mine,’ Mr. Richter stated in his memo. ‘I took Mr. Carroll’s threat seriously. We were in a combat zone where things can happen quite unexpectedly, especially when issues involve potentially negative impacts on a lucrative security contract.’”
When officials at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the largest in the world, heard what had happened, they acted promptly.  They sided with the Blackwater manager, ordering Richter and the investigator who witnessed the scene out of the country (with their inquiry incomplete).  And though a death threat against an American official might, under other circumstances, have led a CIA team or a set of special ops guys to snatch the culprit off the streets of Baghdad, deposit him on a Navy ship for interrogation, and then leave him idling in Guantanamo or in jail in the United States awaiting trial, in this case no further action was taken.

Power Centers But No Power to Act

Think of the response of those embassy officials as a get-out-of-jail-free pass in honor of a new age.  For the various rent-a-gun companies, construction and supply outfits, and weapons makers that have been the beneficiaries of the wholesale privatization of American war since 9/11, impunity has become the new reality.  Pull back the lens further and the same might be said more generally about America’s corporate sector and its financial outfits.  There was, after all, no accountability for the economic meltdown of 2007-2008.  Not a single significant figure went to jail for bringing the American economy to its knees. (And many such figures made out like proverbial bandits in the government bailout and revival of their businesses that followed.)

Meanwhile, in these years, the corporation itself was let loose to run riot.  Long a “person” in the legal world, it became ever more person-like, benefitting from a series of Supreme Court decisions that hobbled unions and ordinary Americans even as it gave the corporation ever more of the rights and attributes of a citizen on the loose.  Post-9/11, the corporate world gained freedom of expression, the freedom of the purse, as well as the various freedoms that staggering inequality and hoards of money offer.  Corporate entities gained, among other things, the right to flood the political system with money, and most recently, at least in a modest way, freedom of religion.

In other words, two great power centers have been engorging themselves in twenty-first-century America: there was an ever-expanding national security state, ever less accountable to anyone, ever less overseen by anyone, ever more deeply enveloped in secrecy, ever more able to see others and less transparent itself, ever more empowered by a secret court system and a body of secret law whose judgments no one else could be privy to; and there was an increasingly militarized corporate state, ever less accountable to anyone, ever less overseen by outside forces, ever more sure that the law was its possession.  These two power centers are now triumphant in our world.  They command the landscape against what may be less effective opposition than at any moment in our history.
In both cases, no matter how you tote it up, it’s been an era of triumphalism.  Measure it any way you want: by the rising Dow Jones Industrial Average or the expanding low-wage economy, by the power of “dark money” to determine American politics in 1% elections or the rising wages of CEOs and the stagnating wages of their workers, by the power of billionaires and the growth of poverty, by the penumbra of secrecy and classification spreading across government operations and the lessening ability of the citizen to know what’s going on, or by the growing power of both the national security state and the corporation to turn your life into an open book.  Look anywhere and some version of the same story presents itself -- of ascendant power in the boardrooms and the backrooms, and of a sense of impunity that accompanies it.

Whether you’re considering the power of the national security state or the corporate sector, their moment is now.  And what a moment it is -- for them.  Their success seems almost complete.  And yet that only begins to tell the strange tale of our American times, because if that power is ascendant, it seems incapable of being translated into classic American power.  The more successful those two sectors become, the less the U.S. seems capable of wielding its power effectively in any traditional sense, domestically or abroad.

Anyone can feel it, hence the recent Pew Research Center poll indicating a striking diminution in recent years of Americans who think the U.S. is exceptional, the greatest of all nations.  By 2011, only 38% of Americans thought that; today, the figure has dropped to 28%, and -- a harbinger of future American attitudes -- just 15% among 18-to-29-year-olds.  And no wonder.  By many measures the U.S. may remain the wealthiest, most powerful nation on the planet, but in recent years its ability to accomplish anything, no less achieve national or imperial success, has shrunk drastically.

The power centers remain, but in some still-hard-to-grasp way, the power to accomplish anything seems to be draining from a country that was once the great can-do nation on the planet.  On this, the record is both dismal and clear.  To say that the American political system is in a kind of gridlock or paralysis from which -- given electoral prospects in 2014 and 2016 -- there can be no escape is to say the obvious.  It’s a commonplace of news reports to suggest, for example, that in this midterm election year Congress and the president will be capable of accomplishing nothing together (except perhaps avoiding another actual government shutdown).  Nada, zip, zero.

The president acts in relatively minimalist ways by executive order, Congress threatens to sue over his use of those orders, and (as novelist Kurt Vonnegut would once have said) so it goes.  In the meantime, Congress has proven itself unable to act even when it comes to what once would have been the no-brainers of American life.  It has, for instance, been struggling simply to fund a highway bill that would allow for ordinary repair work on the nation's system of roads, even though the fund for such work is running dry and jobs will be lost.

This sort of thing is but a symptom in a country of immense wealth whose infrastructure is crumbling and which lacks a single mile of high-speed rail.  In all of this, in the rise of poverty and a minimum-wage economy, in a loss -- particularly for minorities -- of the wealth that went with home ownership, what can be seen is the untracked rise of a Third World country inside a First World one, a powerless America inside the putative global superpower.

An Exceptional Kind of Decline

And speaking of the “sole superpower,” it remains true that no combination of other militaries can compare with the U.S. military or the moneys the country continues to put into it and into the research and development of weaponry of the most futuristic sort.  The U.S. national security budget remains a Ripley’s-Believe-It-Or-Not-style infusion of tax dollars into the national security state, something no other combination of major countries comes close to matching.

In addition, the U.S. still maintains hundreds of military bases and outposts across the planet (including, in recent years, ever more bases for our latest techno-wonder weapon, the drone).  In 2014, it still garrisons the planet in a way that no other imperial power has ever done.  In fact, it continues to sport all the trappings of a great empire, with an army impressive enough that our last two presidents have regularly resorted to one unembarrassed image to describe it: “the finest fighting force that the world has ever known.”

And yet, recent history is clear: that military has proven incapable of winning its wars against minor (and minority) insurgencies globally, just as Washington, for all its firepower, military and economic, has had a remarkably difficult time imposing its desires just about anywhere on the planet.  Though it may still look like a superpower and though the power of its national security state may still be growing, Washington seems to have lost the ability to translate that power into anything resembling success.

Today, the U.S. looks less like a functioning and effective empire than an imperial basket case, unable to bring its massive power to bear effectively from Germany to Syria, Iraq to Afghanistan, Libya to the South China Sea, the Crimea to Africa.  And stranger yet, this remains true even though it has no imperial competitors to challenge it.  Russia is a rickety energy state, capable of achieving its version of imperial success only along its own borders, and China, clearly the rising economic power on the planet, though flexing its military muscles locally in disputed oil-rich waters, visibly has no wish to challenge the U.S. military anywhere far from home.

All in all, the situation is puzzling indeed.  Despite much talk about the rise of a multi-polar world, this still remains in many ways a unipolar one, which perhaps means that the wounds Washington has suffered on numerous fronts in these last years are self-inflicted.
Just what kind of decline this represents remains to be seen.  What does seem clearer today is that the rise of the national security state and the triumphalism of the corporate sector (along with the much publicized growth of great wealth and striking inequality in the country) has been accompanied by a decided diminution in the power of the government to function domestically and of the imperial state to impose its will anywhere on Earth.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs the Nation Institute's His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Price of Ignorance

Brilliant piece by former Senator Gary Hart (the man who should have been president!)

Ignorance of History, and Its Price

Posted: 07/07/2014 6:40 pm EDT Updated: 07/07/2014 10:59 pm EDT


"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it," is usually attributed to George Santayana. Harry Truman's version was: "The only new thing in the world is the history we have not learned." And, in the House of Commons in 1935, Winston Churchill observed: "...that long, dismal catalog of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong-these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history."

All this is brought to mind by the recent book Lawrence in Arabia, by Scott Anderson, a startling narrative of the events of the World War I in the Middle East that produced political chickens now coming to roost a hundred years later. It is a tragic tale of late colonial overreach by Britain and France, the worst kind of treachery, deceit, and diplomatic betrayal, and fateful political decisions based on misinformation, wishful thinking, and almost total ignorance of Arab culture and history.

All of it now rests on America's doorstep, a nation late to enter the World War I jungle of old 19th century European intrigue and guided only by a dreamy Wilsonian idealistic hope for the end of bloodshed and a liberated world safe for democracy. Even as they were secretly carving up the Middle East, his British and French allies scoffed at his naiveté.
It says much that one of the few Americans on the scene in Cairo and elsewhere was a young employee of the Standard Oil Company named William Yale who was taken on board as an adviser to the secretary of state simply because he had spent time in the region locking up oil concessions for his company. This is a predictor of the future of U.S. interests in the Middle East if there ever was one.

For, from 1941 onward, U.S. policy in the region was to keep Arabian, Persian, and Iraqi oil out of the hands of the Nazis and then the Soviets. It was, after all, our oil. We overthrew a democratic prime minister of Iran according to that logic and guess what that got us. U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia has been dominated by oil. And don't think for a minute that the invasion of Iraq wasn't guided in major part by access to oil reserves, though the clever invasion plotters somehow never found it convenient to admit it. (Their charade went like this: "Oil? Gee whiz, is there oil there?")

"All that is history" is the casual way of dismissing uncomfortable truths -- that is, until those truths come back to haunt us. It is a pity George W. Bush had not studied more history. But the lessons of history are best learned before, not after, becoming president.
Why did Santayana say "cannot" instead of "will not"? Will not is a failure of choice. Cannot is a failure of ability. Are Americans incapable of learning history? If so, our nation's future is not a pretty one. A mark of statesmanship is the ability to learn from history and apply its lessons to current conflicts and to skillful avoidance of future crises. But genuine statesmanship is in short supply. According to reviewers, a memoir by a recent secretary of state contains few lessons learned.

In part, we cannot learn from history because we are a pragmatic people. We make it up as we go along. Each new day offers a new experience and a new chance to try something different. It is refreshing, but it is also innocent and child-like. But there is little that is truly new and different and the circularity of human experience gives fate the opportunity to come back and bite us.

Had we known Vietnamese history, we would have known the guiding principle to its conflict was nationalism not communist ideology. Had we known Iranian history, we would have known the people wanted self-determination not an oligarchical shah. Had we known Russian history, we would have known the critical importance of Crimea's ports to Russia's access to the sea. Had we known Middle Eastern history, we would have known the deep territorial and theological divide between Sunni and Shia for more than 13 centuries.
Are there lessons in Chinese history that might guide us in understanding its offshore territorial ambitions? Are there further Russian history lessons that might help anticipate its maritime interests in the Arctic? Should we study Hindu-Muslim relations in the Indian subcontinent to prevent war between Pakistan and India?

Eventually, British duplicity undid the Arab revolt and denied Arab ambitions for self-determination in the region. But, T. E. Lawrence had studied Arabic and Arab history before riding his camel into the desert and eventually helping to kindle a semblance of unity among disparate Arab tribes to overthrow Ottoman domination and inspire Arab hopes. Based on his studies of history, he believed and helped inspire the Arab dream.

But what could he know? He was only 29 years old when his nation's senior statesmen and politicians betrayed him and the Arabs and left us with the bitter outcome a century later.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A New Suit--RepubliCON Subterfuge!

Due to hand maladies the sentiments are mine but not the written word sent by Rep. Wasserman-Schultz. 

Heed and forward to all you know and contribute when you can.  Suing the president -- INSANITY PLUS.  We MUST unseat these unpatriotic mendacious maladies from our midst and crush them in November, 2014 by signing EVERYONE up we can.

“I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something while they’re doing nothing.”
-- President Obama, 6/26/14
Dear Natalie,

Speaker Boehner has said that he’s going to sue the President for… well, he hasn’t said what he’s going to sue the President for, but he promises he’ll let us know soon.

John Boehner’s planned lawsuit is ridiculous. And it’s merely the latest example of Republicans wasting time bashing the President and playing Tea Party politics instead of actually doing their jobs.

As long as Republicans control the House, we can expect more of the same. That is why we need your help to push back -– so I can continue to call out the Speaker and the Tea Party for playing partisan politics instead of helping America’s middle class.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Deserving of No Less

The extremist "conservative" Supreme Court decided to allow a business, Hobby Lobby, the ability to impose its religious views on its employed as to contraception of all things. I thought contraception was settled law -- silly me.  I say go ahead, Republicans, DO IT and see how they alienate women, a vote they need, among numbers of other groups, to win elections.

Moreover, the issue of children on the US border foments a Niagara Falls of hate from Marietta, CA where nativists are spewing it. I maintain it is wonderful for Democrats.  It will and should sign up Hispanics as it should sign up ALL minority groups to vote Democratic.  Republicans, one can easily see, are NOT the Party of the 98%, this fact said so many times by me I repeat it in my dreams. 

In addition, Republican once presidential contender, Chris Christie, has refused to meet with the Sandyhook parents whose CHILDREN were killed by a senseless act of gun violence.  The fact that the killer could not get his extra magazine clips loaded in time and some children escaped the slaughter shows one how important it is, at the very LEAST, to limit the number of bullets the magazine clips hold!  Christie is against even that apparently fearing a rejection of him for the 2016 presidential Republican primaries as if Bridgegate were not enough to remove him from consideration.  SHAME on him and ALL Republicans for not embracing sensible gun regulations.  If Democrats are elected you will get that and it could save lives -- YOUR CHILDREN'S lives.

Yes, conservative hate runs deep. November should put that hate the Republican and Tea Party politics engenders where it belongs -- in the ash bin of history. REGISTER minorities, Hispanics, women, the disabled and the young Democrats or those leaning Democrat and even Republicans who want to switch over to Democrat because they cannot stand Republican Party politics anymore.  Sign Democrats up across the nation and do not forget what a right wing Republican religious fanatical extremist Supreme Court can do. We need Democratic presidents to obviate that. The mendacious Republicans possess no humane, ethical or moral scruples and possesses no thoughts of policy change.  How can they? They believe in a postage stamp size government. 

One simply has to hear the venom toward buses of CHILDREN needing refuge from certain death but instead are greeted with fuming American nativist right wing Republican hate in Mariata, CA. Lady Liberty says: "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." except NOT in Marietta, CA. Republicans need to be electorally crushed. They deserve no less. 


Saturday, July 05, 2014

Chalmers Johnson, Portrait of a Sagging Empire

I find this opinion eminently interesting.  I suggest you read it and click on its links to get more.  It is somewhat lengthy but, in my opinion, worth it.  It is prescient, eerily correct in most ways, and alarming because of that.  We can, as a nation, though, change course.  Will we is another question entirely.  In hope that we do GET OUT THE DEMOCRATIC 2014 VOTE -- immigrants, Hispanics, African Americans, women, youth, the disabled and the elderly ALL OVER THE NATION.  OUR FUTURE HANGS ON THE HOPE THAT WE DO. A Regular Antidote to the Mainstream Media
July 5, 2014
Best of TomDispatch: Chalmers Johnson, Portrait of a Sagging Empire
[Note for TomDispatch Readers: It’s summer and in this season my mind turns to Chalmers Johnson, "Mr. Blowback,” who died in November 2010 and who, each year around this time, I like to remember at TomDispatch. Certainly, given recent events in Iraq and Syria, I have to resist the eerie urge to pick up the phone, dial his number, and get his thoughts.  He was a towering figure at this site (and in my life) and recently, with that in mind, I went back and looked at the last piece he wrote for TD just months before his death.  “The Guns of August” he called it.  Perhaps sensing that the end was already closing in on him, he focused on the fogginess of the future and a particularly human inability to predict it.  (Just check out any Tomorrowland or past World’s Fair to see how far our visions of the future stray from the surprises reality holds in store for us.)  Yet he couldn’t help himself, as we generally can’t, our brains being prediction machines.  The urge may, for all I know, be hardwired into us.

So, in those last moments, having fessed up to all that, “Chal” still had the urge to peer decades into the future and imagine what the world he would never see might turn out to be like.  Rereading his piece almost four years into that fog of the future, I was not only moved, but struck by how on target he’s been thus far.  Nothing in it seemed, as yet, discordant -- not so surprising for such a canny observer of our disastrous world -- and so much of his essay remains perceptive and filled with wisdom.

I’ve left in place as well the introduction I did that August, a little look at how he and I first met “on the page” and a little tip of the cap to someone who I undoubtedly feared wouldn't be around that long.  This is the first of the summer’s “best of” pieces that will pop up from time to time.  I hope you enjoy going down TomDispatch’s version of memory lane.  The next new TD piece will be posted on Tuesday. Tom]

In September 1998, I was handed a submission for a proposed book by Chalmers Johnson.  I was then (as I am now) consulting editor at Metropolitan Books.  9/11 was three years away, the Bush administration still an unimaginable nightmare, and though the prospective book’s prospective title had “American Empire” in it, the American Empire Project I now co-run with my friend and TomDispatch regular Steve Fraser was still almost four years from crossing either of our minds.

I remembered Johnson, however.  As a young man, I had read his book on peasant nationalism in north China where, during the 1930s, Japanese invaders were conducting “kill-all, burn-all, loot-all” operations.  Its vision of how a revolution could gain strength from a foreign occupation stayed with me.  I had undoubtedly also read some of Johnson’s well-respected work on contemporary Japan and I knew, even then, that in the Vietnam War era he had been a fierce opponent of the antiwar movement I took part in.  If I didn’t already know it, the proposal made no bones about the fact that he had also, in that era, consulted for the CIA.

I certainly turned to his submission -- a prologue, a single chapter, and an outline of the rest of a book -- with a dubious eye, but was promptly blasted away by a passage in the prologue in which he referred to himself as having been a “spear-carrier for empire” and, some pages in, by this passage as well:

”I was sufficiently aware of Mao Zedong’s attempts to export ‘people’s war’ to believe that the United States could not afford to lose in Vietnam.  In that, too, I was distinctly a man of my times.  It proved to be a disastrously wrong position.  The problem was that I knew too much about the international Communist movement and not enough about the United States government and its Department of Defense.  I was also in those years irritated by campus antiwar protesters, who seemed to me self-indulgent as well as sanctimonious and who had so clearly not done their homework [on the history of communism in East Asia]… As it turned out, however, they understood far better than I did the impulses of a Robert McNamara, a McGeorge Bundy, or a Walt Rostow.  They grasped something essential about the nature of America’s imperial role in the world that I had failed to perceive.  In retrospect, I wish I had stood with the antiwar protest movement.  For all its naïveté and unruliness, it was right and American policy wrong.”

I was little short of thunderstruck.  I knew then -- and I think it still holds today -- that no one of prominence with Johnson’s position on the war and in his age range had ever written such a set of sentences.  At that moment, knowing nothing else, I made the decision to publish his book.  It was possibly the single most impulsive, even irrational, and thoroughly satisfying decision I’ve made in my 30-odd years as an editor in, or at the fringes of, mainstream publishing.

Though I didn’t have expectations for the book then, the rest is, quite literally, history.  After all, its title would be Blowback, a term of CIA tradecraft that neither I nor just about any other American had ever heard of, and which, thanks to Johnson, has now become part of our language (along with the accompanying catch phrase “unintended consequences”).  On its publication in 2000, the book was widely ignored.  In the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, it seemed nothing short of prophetic, and so, in paperback, stormed those 9/11 tables at the front of bookstores, and soared to bestsellerdom. 

That I ever edited Blowback or Johnson’s subsequent books was little short of a fluke, one of the luckiest of my life.  It led as well to a relationship with a man of remarkable empathy and insight, who was then on a no less remarkable journey (on which I could tag along).  Now, a new book of his, Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hopehas arrivedfocused on the many subjects -- from our empire of bases to the way the Pentagon budget, the weapons industries, and military Keynesianism may one day help send us into great power bankruptcy -- that have obsessed him in recent years. It’s not to be missed. Tom
The Guns of August
Lowering the Flag on the American Century
By Chalmers Johnson
In 1962, the historian Barbara Tuchman published a book about the start of World War I and called it The Guns of August. It went on to win a Pulitzer Prize.  She was, of course, looking back at events that had occurred almost 50 years earlier and had at her disposal documents and information not available to participants. They were acting, as Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara put it, in the fog of war.
So where are we this August of 2010, with guns blazing in one war in Afghanistan even as we try to extricate ourselves from another in Iraq?  Where are we, as we impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea (and threaten worse), while sending our latest wonder weapons, pilotless drones armed with bombs and missiles, into Pakistan's tribal borderlands, Yemen, and who knows where else, tasked with endless "targeted killings" which, in blunter times, used to be called assassinations?  Where exactly are we, as we continue to garrison much of the globe even as our country finds itself incapable of paying for basic services?
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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Common Humanity

Recently I composed a response to a friend on an article written by a Jew sympathetic to the Palestinian plight and indignities Palestinians experience every day just as devastating for Palestinian parents who lose children, too, as it is for the parents who now mourn the deaths of the three murdered Jewish teenagers.  The one thing we do know is this event will mean more war and more will die.   

My friend wanted to know what I thought of the article and so I print my opinion entitled "Common Humanity" below.

After my opinion I paste an article
"These murders reawaken Israel's deepest fears" by Anshel Pfeffer of the "Guardian" which I thought summarized the Jewish plight, conundrum and despair concerning the saga of bitter conflict and never ending hostilities between Palestinians and Jews.

Common Humanity

What can be said that has not been said before?  If the world were like we war would not be an issue but much of the world is not like we are.  I am truly glad I am not in a position of power and that I do not have to make the profoundly awful decisions sending the young out to kill and/or be killed. 

It is no secret to those who know me that Hitler's Holocaust of the Jews of Europe shaped my politics and it is no secret that honesty must dictate the admittance of my love for Israel as a Jewish state.  These are my, actually our
(my friend is Jewish), people who for 2000 years have suffered the onslaughts of a hell that cannot be described.  I cannot abandon my essence. 

Having said that that does not mean I am impervious to suffering and injustice anywhere it exists and that is no less so for the Palestinian people irrespective of the constant monologue of rationales from both sides for war.  My heart aches for all those who grieve because I know what the loss of those whom I love is.

It means, too, that I support a two state solution, and an end to the settlements but just because I do it surely does not mean those settlements will end any time soon.  In the mix are my thought and deep conviction that I loathe religious fundamentalism wherever it exists.  Fundamentalists are uncompromising, cruel, bestial and extreme and that pertains to Jewish ultra-Orthodox fundamentalism as much as it does to Islamic fundamentalism and Christian fundamentalism as well. 

In truth all fundamentalists would want me and those like me stoned to death.  Fundamentalists deny science, believe in the truth of myths and made up stories as divine, they eschew compromise, and, in the end, they negate the human decency that civilization has honed over centuries of uncivilized barbarity and brutality. Fundamentalists crush man's thirst for  knowledge through the questioning of everything and the advancement that new knowledge brings.

There are moderates everywhere and I surely hope they prevail.  It is, therefore, because of many realities that I support the Jewish state as a Jewish state but recognize the rights of Palestinians to live free and free from fear in their own state. 

In the final analysis, I abhor man's inhumanity to man wherever it exists because in reality it denies the common humanity of us all.

These murders reawaken Israel's deepest fears

By Anshel Pfeffer, The Guardian

For its citizens, the foundation of the Jewish state was meant to ensure their children would never again be taken away

Funeral for Eyal Yifrach
'To Israelis, this wasn't just another round of violence in a never-ending cycle; it was a national tragedy and the epitome of an ageless struggle.' Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA
In a small, close-knit society where family is everything, people are constantly glued to their mobile phones and trauma is an ever-present memory, the prospect of a child being kidnapped by Palestinians is an unspoken terror. And yes, a child in this context could also mean a 20-year-old soldier shouldering his rifle.

For Israelis, the nightmare of your son's phone ringing, unanswered, wipes away all the self-confidence that citizens of the Jewish state have built for themselves. That fear burrows into a national psyche that defines what Israel is about for its Jewish majority – a country that was founded and its entire military force built up so that no Jewish child should ever be captured and spirited away again. No other political arguments or realities apply. As far as they are concerned, that is Israel's core purpose.

That it is a technological superpower with one of the strongest militaries in the world doesn't matter. And neither do the rights and wrongs of its conflict with the Palestinians, the vast imbalance between a sovereign state and an occupied population suffering multiple injustices and humiliations. For the 18 and a half days between the abduction of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach and the discovery of their bodies north of Hebron, nearly every Israeli parent set politics aside and put him or herself in the place of those three mothers and three fathers.

Nearly every Israeli child and teenager imagined being in that car racing away through the night. Somewhere in their minds was the thought that this was just one more chapter in the long history of Jewish victimhood and the Palestinians are just the latest embodiment of the Jews' victimisers, as absurd as that may sound to an outsider.

Love or hate Israel, that is its core. You can't begin to grasp its society without understanding this. Israelis were deeply insulted by foreign media organisations which seemed to be downplaying the kidnapping, or, by describing the teenagers as "three settlers", to be putting them into a political context. To Israelis, this wasn't just another round of violence in a never-ending cycle; it was a national tragedy and the epitome of an ageless struggle.

Israelis are no strangers to the death and sacrifice of young people. But in many ways, the not knowing, the vulnerability of being at the mercy of anonymous captors, is worse than having to lay a soldier to rest. The Israel Defence Force has a standing order, the Hannibal procedure, that in case of a soldier being abducted, the fleeing vehicle must be shot at to prevent its escape, even if that endangers the captured soldier's life. Israelis can deal with a grave, but not with being at the mercy of those they see as cruel terrorists. That is why the capture and subsequent disappearance of airforce navigator Ron Arad in Lebanon, a mystery now in its 28th year, remains such a deep-seated trauma.

For British and American viewers, Homeland is an exciting television series about the war on terror, an upgraded and updated version of 24. In Israel, the original version – Hatufim – touched a deep nerve within its target audience, the yearning for the return of soldiers missing in action. This is why, three years ago, Israelis overwhelmingly supported the exchange of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for one captured soldier held by Hamas – Gilad Shalit – despite many suspecting that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had signed off on the deal, was doing so for cynical political reasons. They weren't prepared to have another Ron Arad disappear. While Shalit had been taken prisoner from within his tank, the slogan of the campaign pressuring the government to obtain his release described him as "the child of all of us".

The national outpouring of grief now unifying Israel, which may provide the platform for a new military offensive against the Gaza Strip, does not, however, necessarily mean a further shift among Israelis towards the nationalist right. Even during the first days following the abduction, questions were raised asking what the hell the three were doing hitchhiking at night in the West Bank? These queries were subsumed in the collective feeling of support for the parents. But in the minds of many Israelis, they continue to linger.

Polling has shown a gradual decrease in the support of the Israeli public for the settlers. For now, the national mourning for the three teenagers is heartfelt and real. But as time passes, more Israelis will ask why their government is doing nothing to try to end a situation where Israeli teenagers are at constant risk of disappearing. And they won't be blaming only the Palestinians.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

What's It All About Alfie

The very interesting article below by Professor Wilkenson in Huffington Post is I believe, very profound. The question is what can we do about it?  Elect progressive Democrats all over the nation in November, 2014 and in 2016.

Empire's Age-Old Aim: Wealth and Power

In his very excellent book, King Leopold's Ghost [My note: see summary of the book at]: ; Adam Hochschild registers a chapter-long lament near the book's end that even though in the preceding pages he has chronicled in an unprecedented manner the crimes against humanity of Leopold's Congo enterprise, so what? Such crimes were almost a concomitant of colonial empire. Britain, France, Germany, the United States -- all the so-called civilized colonial powers -- were guilty of such crimes. Whether murder and plunder in India, slaughter in Algeria, devastation in Cameroon, or torture and massacre in the Philippines, few western powers can rightfully claim innocence. And, perhaps most worrisome, their national myths mask or even convert most of the crimes, and what the myths don't eliminate or alter poor education and memory lapses do.
Surely, however, at this opening to the 21st Century, we have made some progress. Our constant rhetoric -- particularly from Washington -- asserts that we have. International criminal justice and human rights are pursued with relish, are they not?

Not according to the example of Richard Bruce Cheney. As has been the case since humankind began to organize itself, Dick Cheney believes that wealth and power -- his and his cronies wealth and power foremost -- are still the relevant strategic objectives of empire. King Leopold of Belgium is not dead, simply reincarnated in a more modern form. Torturing people is dependent on a nation's supposed needs, killing people on the expediency of policy, waging war on monetary and commercial gain, and lying to the people is a highly reputable tactic in pursuit of each. Leopold would love Dick Cheney.

Cheney even models Leopold: never in the dangerous fray himself (five draft deferments, e.g.), a master of bureaucratic manipulation and intrigue, in love to a fault with secrecy, willing to undertake any crime under the sun so long as it leads to profit, deeply relishing every moment of evil he is able to engineer, and a master of masking it all through adroit, politically-attuned public relations aimed at people too stupid to question him -- all while paying absolutely no attention to what his past clearly demonstrates he has done, thus thoroughly frustrating the decent folks all around him. Leopold to a "T."

This modern man, Cheney, however needs no kingship, no ornate palaces, no personally-owned colony like the Congo; Cheney's writ is the world. It is all of humankind that Cheney would torture, enslave, murder, or plunder if it were required. And Cheney is the ultimate arbiter of whether it is required. Take a look at that face as he tells the American people and the world in 2002 that "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

Now, wait a dozen years and envision the same face, somewhat leaner and -- if possible -- meaner, saying on the editorial pages of his Journal as Iraq implodes: "Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many." He is of course talking about President Obama, not President George W. Bush. Leopold, whom the American poet Vachel Lindsay, has "Burning in Hell...", must be yearning for Dick's arrival because no one, except perhaps for Leopold himself, would register such a claim in the face of such self-demeaning evidence to the contrary.

In the same chapter of his book referenced above, Hochschild writes: "The Congo offers a striking example of the politics of forgetting." He is right. But it is more than forgetting. It is an abject lack of political courage to hold people accountable [emphasis added.]

In King Leopold's case, Belgium and the wider world want to move on and not look back. Holding people accountable would mean holding themselves accountable. That central Africa is today still an unfolding tragedy of exploitation, commercial rivalries, and indigenous incapacity partly an inheritance of colonialism, matters little. The world moves on relentlessly to fulfill its oligarchies' desires for wealth and power. Suitable rhetoric is developed and delivered to keep the masses quiescent. The Leopolds and Cheneys of the world are privately lauded for their hard-headed realpolitik while appropriately tut-tutted in public. Presidents and prime ministers proclaim that it would be nationally disruptive to hold people accountable for their crimes and, besides, they are more concerned for the future than the past.

Which is why most people in America today live in the moment and in the moment alone. If they realized and cared about the past, if they used that realization and care to make the future better, they would not be able to live in the moment so well. In that respect, Leopold and Cheney are right: wealth and power is all that matters.

My NB: Burt Bacharach's/Hal David 1967
song "What's It All About, Alfie" Lyrics by Dionne Warwick says it all--Youtube sung by Dionne Warwick below.

Whats it all about Alfie
Is it just for the moment we live
Whats it all about
When you sort it out Alfie
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind
And if only fools are kind Alfie
Then I guess it is wise to be cruel
And if life belongs only to the strong Alfie
What will you lend on an old golden ruler
As sure as I believe there's a Heaven above Alfie
I know there's something much more
Something even non-believers can believe in
I believe in love Alfie
Without true love we just exist Alfie
Until you find the love you've missed you're nothing Alfie
When you walk let your heart lead the way
And you'll find love any day Alfie, Alfie, Alfie

Listen to it on Youtube:


* Lawrence Wilkerson is Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William and Mary. He was Chief of Staff to secretary of state Colin Powell from 2002-2005. He served 31 years in the U.S. Army.