Monday, August 31, 2015

Supreme Court Rules Against Kentucky Clerk in Gay Marriage Case

by Pete Williams

The U.S. Supreme Court late Monday rejected an appeal from a county clerk in Kentucky who said she could not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious objections.

Kim Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, "holds an undisputed sincerely held religious belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, only," her lawyers said in asking the court to block a lower court order directing her to issue the licenses.

But the Supreme Court denied her request without explanation in a brief one-line order. No dissents were noted, and the court acted without seeking a response from the state.

It was the first legal skirmish to reach the Supreme Court since it declared on June 26th that the Constitution guarantees gay couples the right to get married.

Immediately after that ruling, Kentucky's governor, Steve Beshear, ordered all the state's county clerks to comply with the decision and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Saying she did not want to discriminate, Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses — to both same-sex and opposite sex couples — in the days after the landmark decision. Two gay couples and two straight couples sued her, arguing that her duties as an elected official required her to act, despite her personal religious beliefs.
Rowan County Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis speaks to a gathering of supporters during a Religious Freedoms Rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort Ky., Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. Timothy D. Easley / AP

A federal judge ordered her to issue the licenses, and last week the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

"It cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk's office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court," the appeals court said.

Davis' emergency request was directed to Justice Elena Kagan, who referred it to the full court for action.

"She's going to have to think and pray about her decision overnight. She certainly understands the consequences either way," Mat Staver, founder of the law firm representing Davis, told the Associated Press Monday, hours before a court-ordered delay in the case expired. "She'll report to work tomorrow, and face whatever she has to face." 

 p.s. Thousands more emails of HRC have been released and NONE, I repeat NONE were sent to her marked "classified!"


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Parallel Universe

Like most I watched the murder on TV of the young journalists of WDBJ7, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, as they were gunned down by a former employee of the station in the middle of filming a benign Chamber of Commerce interview.  I was, like most everyone else, incredulous that one human being could commit such a heinous act to two innocents and ones who were at one time his co-workers.  The fact that Bryce Williams (the shooter) also seriously wounded a third person who was the person being interviewed should not be lost.

We can strum and drang all we like as we do after so many other bestial killings testament to man’s inhumanity to man to which our nation has borne witness or we can go deeper and try to figure out why our nation is stuck on channel haywire or is it?
The science of theoretical physics entertains the notion of living in a parallel universe.  The dual natures within the universe of our nation has been evident to me for quite some time.  I grew up in the “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” nation, gained maturity in “The Other America” and “The Autobiography of Malcom X one.  I further aged in “The Arrogance of Power” and “Why We Are in Vietnam” one and even further encountering Rachel Maddow’s book “Drift—The Unmooring of American Military Power” an indictment of the inaction of the electorate and the eventual thrust into permanent war fought technologically by just those few who volunteer.  Essentially the electorate has given war power over to few and the many who will never fight it acquiesce to its violence.

There are two national universes in my sight.  One kindly occupied by those who help elderly ladies across the street; the kind and benevolent one whose tears flow easily at tragedy and whose first impulse is to help.  The one whose president John F. Kennedy said so eloquently “to whom much is given much is required.” 

I come, though, to the never ending violence in our land, violence in our films, violence on our televisions, and violence in the plethora of war we see from the comfort of our living rooms but most never have to fight.  We see the violence of a malevolent NRA which even in the face of the murder of 26 CHILDREN fights hard for its almighty buck against even federal background checks as a prerequisite to owning a gun to stop at least some of the gun mayhem in our land of 310 million guns. 
Finally, I see a Donald Trump whose mouth invites the forces of hate to align with him.  He insults continuously the most powerless among us and our news media finds his spewing so much fun they cover him nearly 24/7 while the violence in our land increases still.  American Nationalists of the most extreme right wing stripe including some hate notables as former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and others gladly give him their support Trump says he does not want but I have no doubt he will take their vote.  It shows one just who loves Donald Trump and finds a home in the Republican Party.
Something violent is wrong in our nation but not everyone is at fault.  Let us harness what is kind, right and good in our nation, help those who cannot help themselves and defeat the powerful forces of violence and hate that has occupied so much of our history while we still have a remnant of democracy left.  We should do it before the hour is too late.

"Enough Is Enough" -- NYT by Charles Blow

When Donald Trump’s security escorted the Univision anchor Jorge Ramos out of a news conference on Tuesday, I decided that I was officially done.

Maybe I should have been long before that.

Maybe I should have been done the one and only time I met Trump and his first words to me were a soliloquy about how black people loved him, and he was the most popular white man among black people.

Maybe I should have been done when Trump demanded to see the president's birth certificate.

Maybe I should have been done any number of times over the years when Trump made any number of racist, sexist comments.

Earlier this month, Politico rounded up 199 of his greatest — and vilest — hits. Here are just a few from the magazine:

9. “I have black guys counting my money. … I hate it. The only guys I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes all day.” (USA Today, May 20, 1991)

23. “Oftentimes when I was sleeping with one of the top women in the world I would say to myself, thinking about me as a boy from Queens, ‘Can you believe what I am getting?’ ” (“Think Big: Make it Happen in Business and Life,” 2008)

32. “… she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” (ABC’s “The View,” March 6, 2006)

35. “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?” (Twitter, April 16, 2015)

117. “Rosie’s a person that’s very lucky to have her girlfriend. And she better be careful or I’ll send one of my friends over to pick up her girlfriend. Why would she stay with Rosie if she had another choice?” (“Entertainment Tonight,” Dec. 21, 2006)

121. Arianna Huffington is “a dog.” (Twitter, April 6, 2015)
Need I go on? (Thanks, Politico!)

Maybe I should have been done when Trump announced his candidacy this year with an attack on Mexican immigrants, saying:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best — they’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems … drugs … crime … rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

The Ramos episode wasn’t worse than these; it was just the last straw. A member of the media who dared to raise a truly substantive issue, even out of turn, was dismissed and removed. And yet the band played on. The live coverage continued. In that moment, I was disgusted at Trump’s contempt and the press’s complicity in the shallow farce that is his candidacy. Trump is addicted to press, but the press is also addicted to him, and the entire spectacle is wide and shallow.

(Ramos was allowed back in and permitted to ask his question. I had to see this later, because when he was ejected, I stopped watching.)

Yes, the Republican Party created this Frankenstein of hatred, hubris, narcissism and nativism, but the media is giving it life.

The never-ending, exhaustive, even breathless coverage of every outrage that issues forth from this man’s mouth is not news. Every offense and attack is not news. 

Every morning that Trump rolls out of bed and calls in to a news show is not news.

Covering a political phenomenon as news is one thing. See the coverage of Bernie Sanders. Creating a political phenomenon and calling it news is quite another. 

Trump's prominence is the direct result of the American media's obsession with the egotistical and bizarre personalities of our society.

If the "press" had a backbone, I would have expected all (or most) of them to have left the room along with Mr. Ramos in solidarity.

I reasoned in a 2010 column that Sarah Palin was no longer an elected official and wasn’t seeking elected office, and was therefore not worthy of constant attacks. But more important, the attacks were elevating her profile, not diminishing it. As I wrote:

“This is it. This is the last time I’m going to write the name Sarah Palin until she does something truly newsworthy, like declare herself a candidate for the presidency. Until then, I will no longer take part in the left’s obsessive-compulsive fascination with her, which is both unhealthy and counterproductive.”

I kept that promise. The only other time she appeared by name in one of my columns was in a passing reference to her speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2013. This column is only the second reference.

The same is true of Trump. The constant harping on him only helps him. He is different from Palin in 2010, however. He is not only running for office, he’s leading in the polls among Republican candidates. He can’t be ignored. But coverage is not the same as drooling over the daily shenanigans of a demagogue.

I will cover Trump as he addresses issues with specific policy prescriptions and details, like answers to the question Ramos asked.

Until then, this man is not worthy of the attention he’s garnering. We in the media have to own our part in this. We can’t say he’s not serious and then cover him in a way that actually demonstrates that we are not serious.

Is he an easy target for righteous criticism? Of course he is. But is he aware that criticism from the mainstream media is invaluable among certain segments of the political right? Of course he is. Is he also aware that he’s getting more free publicity for being outrageous than he would ever be willing to buy? Of course he is.

The media is being trolled on a massive scale and we look naïve and silly to have fallen for it, even if he draws readers and viewers. When people refer to the press as the fourth estate, it shouldn’t be confused with a Trump property.

Allow me to share one more of Trump’s quotes from Politico:

89. “My brand became more famous as I became more famous, and more opportunities presented themselves.” (, 2007)

Monday, August 24, 2015

"Irrational Man" -- A Woody Allen Film and Review

Okay, mea culpa, I love Woody Allen films especially his serious content ones. I just do and I am not going to let my moral indignation keep me from enjoying their content formed by a very brilliant man. Since morality is very much a part of this film I suppose comment on Allen's behavior is in order and what should be a penalty to him if any. I cannot say for sure that what is accused of Woody Allen with respect to molestation is true. I just do not know. What is true is that he left Mia for Sun Ye who was his wife's adopted daughter decades his junior. That screams out for moral indignation BUT is it worthy enough for me to stop what I enjoy -- his morality laced films. I'm going to compartmentalize my indictment of Allen and still view his films. As Pope Francis said "Who am I to judge?" I am not god.

This film has much and is now making me Google the existential philosophers I studied in college: Kant, Heidegger and Kierkegaard. What is life all about anyway Abe Lucas, an enigmatic to-say-the-least philosophy professor asks his students at Braylin College, a kind of Smith College or Mt. Holyoke clone. He is stuck in life in the quicksand of major doubt, depression, and alcoholism that seems somehow to make some women find him not only interesting but a sexually arousing challenge. My question is why?

What is the source of his lack of interest in life and what can pull him out of a morose philosophically tortured life mainly, it appears, of his own making. I suppose being a philosophy professor can do that as it lends itself to life's meaning inquiries. As one views life it does seem dark, nasty, brutish and short as Hobbs long ago said it was.

But is this the main reason for Abe's quagmire or is it something else that he needs to turn him on? To write too much about his philosophical and psychological mess and how the film resolves it would be to place too many spoilers in it.

I loved the acting and thought Emma Stone excellent as was Joachim Phoenix who plays brooding alcoholic characters so very well.

If you enjoy ruminating on the vicissitudes of life, the ability to create social change and your own psychological attitude affecting it all then this film should please. I gave it a 10 because I have thought about these questions of life all of my life. Abe attempting to find his purpose with answers to life's big questions and his own morality makes it so interesting to me. His resolution would not be my choice. Then again this film may not be everyone's choice either.

Is Donald Trump a Facist?

Just a few weeks ago, Donald Trump was a crank and joke, living proof that making lots of money doesn’t mean you have the answers and further proof that being a capitalist doesn’t mean you necessarily like or understand capitalism. His dabbling in politics was widely regarded as a silly distraction.

This week, he leads the polls among the pack of Republican aspirants to the office of president of the United States. While all the other candidates are following the rules, playing the media, saying the right things, obeying the civic conventions, Trump is taking the opposite approach. He doesn’t care. He says whatever. Thousands gather at his rallies to thrill to the moment.

Suddenly he is serious, if only for a time, and hence it is time to take his political worldview seriously.
I just heard Trump speak live. The speech lasted an hour, and my jaw was on the floor most of the time. I’ve never before witnessed such a brazen display of nativistic jingoism, along with a complete disregard for economic reality. It was an awesome experience, a perfect repudiation of all good sense and intellectual sobriety.

Yes, he is against the establishment, against existing conventions. It also serves as an important reminder: As bad as the status quo is, things could be worse. Trump is dedicated to taking us there.

His speech was like an interwar séance of once-powerful dictators who inspired multitudes, drove countries into the ground and died grim deaths. I kept thinking of books like John T. Flynn’s As We Go Marching, especially Chapter Ten that so brilliantly chronicles a form of statism that swept Europe in the 1930s. It grew up in the firmament of failed economies, cultural upheaval and social instability, and it lives by stoking the fires of bourgeois resentment.

Since World War II, the ideology he represents has usually lived in dark corners, and we don’t even have a name for it anymore. The right name, the correct name, the historically accurate name, is fascism. I don’t use that word as an insult only. It is accurate.

Though hardly anyone talks about it today, we really should. It is still real. It exists. It is distinct. It is not going away. Trump has tapped into it, absorbing unto his own political ambitions every conceivable resentment (race, class, sex, religion, economic) and promising a new order of things under his mighty hand.

You would have to be hopelessly ignorant of modern history not to see the outlines and where they end up. I want to laugh about what he said, like reading a comic-book version of Franco, Mussolini or Hitler. And truly I did laugh as he denounced the existence of tech support in India that serves American companies (“how can it be cheaper to call people there than here?”—as if he still thinks that long-distance charges apply). But in politics, history shows that laughter can turn too quickly to tears.

So, what does Trump actually believe? He does have a philosophy, though it takes a bit of insight and historical understanding to discern it. Of course, race baiting is essential to the ideology, and there was plenty of that. When a Hispanic man asked a question, Trump interrupted him and asked if he had been sent by the Mexican government. He took it a step further, dividing blacks from Hispanics by inviting a black man to the microphone to tell how his own son was killed by an illegal immigrant.

Because Trump is the only one who speaks this way, he can count on support from the darkest elements of American life. He doesn’t need to actually advocate racial homogeneity, call for whites-only signs to be hung at immigration control or push for expulsion or extermination of undesirables. Because such views are verboten, he has the field alone, and he can count on the support of those who think that way by making the right noises.

Trump also tosses little bones to the religious right, enough to allow them to believe that he represents their interests. Yes, it’s implausible and hilarious. At the speech I heard, he pointed out that he is a Presbyterian, and thus he is personally affected every time ISIS beheads a Christian.

But as much as racial and religious resentment is part of his rhetorical apparatus, it is not his core. His core is about business, his own business and his acumen thereof. He is living proof that being a successful capitalist is no predictor of one’s appreciation for an actual free market (stealing not trading is more his style). It only implies a love of money and a longing for the power that comes with it. Trump has both.

What do capitalists on his level do? They beat the competition. What does he believe he should do as president? Beat the competition, which means other countries, which means wage a trade war. If you listen to him, you would suppose that the United States is in some sort of massive, epochal struggle for supremacy with China, India, Malaysia and pretty much everyone else in the world.

It takes a bit to figure out what this could mean. He speaks of the United States as if it were one thing, one single firm. A business. “We” are in competition with “them,” as if the country was IBM competing against Samsung, Apple or Dell. “We” are not 300 million people pursuing unique dreams and ideas, with special tastes or interests, cooperating with people around the world to build prosperity. “We” are doing one thing, and that is being part of one business.

In effect, he believes that he is running to be the CEO of the country—not just of the government. He is often compared with Ross Perot, another wealthy businessman who made an independent run. But Perot only promised to bring business standards to government. Trump wants to run the entire nation as if it were Trump Tower.

In this capacity, he believes that he will make deals with other countries that cause the United States to come out on top, whatever that could mean. He conjures up visions of himself or one of his associates sitting across the table from some Indian or Chinese leader and making wild demands that they will buy such and such amount of product, or else “we” won’t buy “their” product. He fantasizes about placing phone calls to “Saudi Arabia,” the country, and telling “it” what he thinks about oil prices.

Trade theory developed over hundreds of years plays no role in his thinking at all. To him, America is a homogenous unit, no different from his own business enterprise. With his run for president, he is really making a takeover bid, not just for another company to own but for an entire country to manage from the top down, under his proven and brilliant record of business negotiation and acquisition.

You see why the whole speech came across as bizarre? It was. And yet, maybe it was not. In the 18th century, there is a trade theory called mercantilism that posited something similar: Ship the goods out and keep the money in. It builds up industrial cartels that live at the expense of the consumer.

In the 19th century, this penchant for industrial protectionism and mercantilism became guild socialism, which mutated later into fascism and then into Nazism. You can read Mises to find out more on how this works.

What’s distinct about Trumpism, and the tradition of thought it represents, is that it is not leftist in its cultural and political outlook (see how he is praised for rejecting “political correctness”), and yet it is still totalitarian in the sense that it seeks total control of society and economy and demands no limits on state power.

Whereas the left has long attacked bourgeois institutions like family, church and property, fascism has made its peace with all three. It (very wisely) seeks political strategies that call on the organic matter of the social structure and inspire masses of people to rally around the nation as a personified ideal in history, under the leadership of a great and highly accomplished man.

Trump believes himself to be that man. He sounds fresh, exciting, even thrilling, like a man with a plan and a complete disregard for the existing establishment and all its weakness and corruption.

This is how strongmen take over countries. They say some true things, boldly, and conjure up visions of national greatness under their leadership. They’ve got the flags, the music, the hype, the hysteria, the resources, and they work to extract that thing in many people that seeks heroes and momentous struggles in which they can prove their greatness.

Think of Commodus (161-192 A.D.) in his war against the corrupt Roman senate. His ascension to power came with the promise of renewed Rome. What he brought was inflation, stagnation and suffering. Historians have usually dated the fall of Rome from his leadership.

Or, if you prefer pop culture, think of Bane, the would-be dictator of Gotham in Batman, who promises an end to democratic corruption, weakness and loss of civic pride. He sought a revolution against the prevailing elites in order to gain total power unto himself.

These people are all the same. They purport to be populists, while loathing the decisions people actually make in the marketplace (such as buying Chinese goods or hiring Mexican employees).

Oh, how they love the people, and how they hate the establishment. They defy all civic conventions. Their ideology is somehow organic to the nation, not a wacky import like socialism. They promise a new era based on pride, strength, heroism, triumph. They have an obsession with the problem of trade and mercantilist belligerence at the only solution. They have zero conception of the social order as a complex and extended ordering of individual plans, one that functions through freedom.

This is a dark history, and I seriously doubt that Trump himself is aware of it. Instead, he just makes it up as he goes along, speaking from his gut, just like Uncle Harry at Thanksgiving dinner, just like two guys at the bar during last call.

This penchant has always served him well. It cannot serve a whole nation well. Indeed, the very prospect is terrifying and not just for the immigrant groups and foreign peoples he has chosen to scapegoat for all the country’s problems. It’s a disaster in waiting for everyone.

My own prediction is that the political exotica he represents will not last. It’s a moment in time. The thousands who attend his rallies and scream their heads off will head home and return to enjoying movies, smartphones and mobile apps from all over the world, partaking in the highest standard of living experienced in the whole of human history, granted courtesy of the global market economy in which no one rules. We will not go back.

Tucker asks that we describe him thus: Jeffrey A. Tucker is Director of Digital Development at the Foundation for Economic Education and CLO of This article first appeared on the Anything Peaceful blog on the FEE website.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Trumpet

I thought it proper to define the word trumpet when discussing the Republican primary’s latest unfathomable phenomenon, Donald Trump, because this illogical crackpot’s name is Dickensian like Mr. Talkinghorn in Charles Dickens’s “Bleak House”— a nefarious lawyer, whose interest was in himself even to the detriment of his clients. In Dickensian form the name describes the character of the person.

A trumpet is defined in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary as (a) a funnel-shaped instrument (as a megaphone) for collecting, directing, or intensifying sound and b (1) a stentorian (loud) voice (2) a penetrating cry (as of an elephant.) PERFECT!

Donald Trump’s person is, I think, Dickensian that is his characteristics resemble the definition of the noun trumpet whose mouth blows sounds out like the cry of an elephant (the GOP symbol) spewing nativist sludge often virulently racist against the latest immigrant group de jour, Hispanics, he calls “illegals” as if a human being – any human being – by his very existence should be characterized as such. He directs these bleating sounds to the selected audience this time southern white Alabamians he has purposefully selected to rope into casting a vote to make him the Republican primary front runner and ultimately the Republican nominee for the presidency.

Donald Trump is a trumpet, bleating out loud decibels working his audience up to a Hitlerian pitch in near orgasmic delight as he calls “illegals” mostly murderers and rapists although some, he says softening his insult, may be okay. He knows his audience and what to say to captivate them. His supporters are low information voters, uber nationalistic with often white supremacy animus who want to be led by a strong leader regurgitating patriotic myths, loyalty oaths with the omnipresent symbolic American flag by their side. The Republican primary southern voter – old and white – will not, question anything he says no matter how irrational or untrue as long as Trumpspeak is advocating the building of a huge (always huge) wall costing billions which he just knows Mexico will pay for – trust him he will reread his “Art of the Deal” to make it happen. He will keep “illegals” out by any means necessary even deporting 11 million human beings like Jews in a German boxcar despite the fact that “illegal” immigration is down to its lowest level in years and the president, to the chagrin of his supporters, in the first three years, deported record-high numbers of undocumented immigrants, removing about 1.2 million. (

Beyond that Trump includes in his immigration policy eradicating the Constitution’s 14th Amendment taking away the citizenship birthright of children (otherwise so kindly known by the right wingnuts as “anchor babies”) who were born here knowing no other place in which to be. Moreover, he says it can be done easily and fast – so much the better.

What is left? Perhaps as some in his movement have said shooting “illegals” or permanently indenturing those who found work to servitude if they are undocumented. Yes, that means to slavery. Where have I heard that word before? Perhaps, he too can repeal the 13th Constitutional Amendment of 1865 outlawing it. What happened to “compassionate conservatism?” It never really existed because to be “conservative” today means that the word compassionate is an oxymoron to it. It does not exist in its lexicon.

Nativist poison is not new to this nation. See Martin Scorsese’s film “Gangs of New York” to explain it. It has been known throughout human history and it has taken many forms. Perhaps, it has something to do with our tribal nature and a nation’s historical attitudes over time. Mostly, in this nation, it has taken the form of “no Irish need apply,” “no Jews or dogs allowed in the pool,” the Jim Crow south, the uprooting of the first Americans – the Indians –, the monstrosity of the African slave trade relegating persons of color to three fifths of a human being status and all the violence and segregation that goes with it. Now, the Hispanics are in the cross-hairs of the American Right of the Republican Party and Trump is taking full advantage of it.

In modern times right wingnut extremists in this nation have usually been relegated to the periphery of the Republican Party after the loss of Goldwater in 1964 when “extremism in the face of liberty is no vice” lost and the incorporation of the new south into the 1968 Nixonian initiative of Republicans capturing a heretofore all Democratic south appealing to the “silent majority” began. In the more recent 20th and 21st centuries the American conservative blather of the John Birch Society, White Citizens Councils, former KKK members, those who would weaken the Voting Rights Act and many other extremist hate groups have found a home in this Republican Party they never had before. Recently when Mr. Trump was asked about two white teenagers in Boston beating up and urinating on a homeless man because after all Donald Trump has a point. Trump’s response was his supporters are “passionate.” I’m glad they are passionate and so are we organizing to crush the Republican essence of malevolence and hate.

An addendum: Trump’s vision for Middle East policy is mind boggling. He will go back into Iraq (necessitating troops on the ground) and steal all the oil fields from them. I’m sure those who are in that neck of the woods would welcome our boots on the ground again and Mr. Trump, just how much would that cost the American taxpayer in more blood and treasure? He does not say. I thought we just played that tune with Bush and got Obama elected to stop it.

Today, we are in a democratic existential struggle with the forces of darkness, myth and hate of the Republican Party against the progressive forces of science and inclusion of the Democratic Party which sees the moral arc of the universe moving toward justice and not away from it. Who will win this struggle? I do not know but I do know it is up to you to stop the Republican Party’s descent into madness.

 The Bible conservatives and Trump love so much says many times:

Deuteronomy 10: 19 You shall love the stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:34 The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Luke 10:27 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

And finally Rabbi Hillel when asked to summarize the essence of Judaism said: “Do NOT do unto others that which you would not do unto yourself. All the rest,” he said, “is commentary.”

To that I say Amen!


Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Plague of American Authoritarianism

FABULOUS article by Henry Giroux and worth the time it takes to read it -- two pages with two more of footnotes. I read just the two pages of the opinion. It says it all!

My Blog Answer to Savannah on Trump

"Savannah Zimmerman, a 27-year-old registered nurse from Mobile,.. "I think he appeals to us Southerners because he tells it like it is and he has strong opinions. That is the way we are here in the South," she said"

Please, like nowhere in the country people do not have strong opinions. Sorry, Southern Savannah, that is just NOT the case. I'm in a NE state and I have STRONG very STRONG opinions--liberal progressive. You are praised for having strong opinions but just what are those opinions? If they are dump 11 million human beings and transport them then that sounds Nazi-like to me and I hate to use Nazi comparisons but in this case it's true. What could possibly go wrong with rounding up 11 million pieces of humanity and placing them where on trains? What like the Jews (I'm Jewish) just go along peacefully to a probable death? Just how is he going to do that with no opposition? How is he going to feed them, how is he going to provide sanitary facilities while doing that? He may be leading in the Republican polls but he has a VERY high unfavorable percentage as he should.

Why? Because he's mean, and a hypocrite. Undocumented workers are working at his hotels. Does he care? Not really because he never asked and they are a source of cheap labor. Worse if one replaces undocumented workers one must put another documented worker in his/her place for HOW MUCH MORE MONEY? There was a reason W. Bush did nothing on this issue because those owners who grow say tobacco would have to pay double to tend the fields and that means DOUBLE or triple in the marketplace.

Nothing wrong with being passionate but something VERY VERY VERY wrong not thinking issues through. Take slavery for instance. Do you think one of the slave holders had any foresight that some slave somewhere when society advances will revolt? The Civil War had passionate feeling everywhere and it got 600,000 people killed. THINK, Savannah, THINK and use what nature gave you -- a BIG brain for survival and that includes persons of color too. They are not stupid but you, however, I wonder. Trump is ugly in appearance and ugly in his heart!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Trump Just Stopped being Funny! by Matt Taibbi

Win or lose, Trump's campaign threatens to unleash the Great American Stupid

Donald Trump at a town hall in New Hampshire.
"The people that are following me are very passionate," Donald Trump said recently. Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty Images
So two yahoos from Southie in my hometown of Boston severely beat up a Hispanic homeless guy earlier this week. While being arrested, one of the brothers reportedly told police that "Donald Trump was right, all of these illegals need to be deported."
When reporters confronted Trump, he hadn't yet heard about the incident. At first, he said, "That would be a shame." But right after, he went on:
"I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that."
This is the moment when Donald Trump officially stopped being funny.
The thing is, even as Donald Trump said and did horrible things during this year's incredible run at the White House, most sane people took solace in the fact that he could never win. (Although new polls are showing that Hillary's recent spiral puts this reassuring thought into jeopardy.)
In fact, most veteran political observers figured that the concrete impact of Trump's candidacy would be limited in the worst case to destroying the Republican Party as a mainstream political force.
That made Trump's run funny, campy even, like a naughty piece of pornographic performance art. After all, what's more obscene than pissing on the presidency? It seemed even more like camp because the whole shtick was fronted by a veteran reality TV star who might even be in on the joke, although of course the concept was funnier if he wasn't.
Trump had the whole country rubbernecking as this preposterous Spaulding Smails caricature of a spoiled rich kid drove the family Rolls (our illustrious electoral process in this metaphor) off the road into a ditch. It was brilliant theater for a while, but the ugliness factor has gotten out of control.
Trump is probably too dumb to realize it, or maybe he isn't, but he doesn't need to win anything to become the most dangerous person in America. He can do plenty of damage just by encouraging people to be as uninhibited in their stupidity as he is.
Trump is striking a chord with people who are feeling the squeeze in a less secure world and want to blame someone – the government, immigrants, political correctness, "incompetents," "dummies," Megyn Kelly, whoever – for their problems.
Karl Rove and his acolytes mined a lot of the same resentments to get Republicans elected over the years, but the difference is that Trump's political style encourages people to do more to express their anger than just vote. The key to his success is a titillating message that those musty old rules about being polite and "saying the right thing" are for losers who lack the heart, courage and Trumpitude to just be who they are.

His signature moment in a campaign full of them was his exchange in the first debate with Fox's Kelly. She asked him how anyone with a history of calling women "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals" could win a general election against a female candidate like Hillary Clinton.
"I've been challenged by so many people," Trump answered. "I frankly don't have time for political correctness. And to be honest with you, the country doesn't have time either….We don't win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico….We lose to everybody."
On the surface, Kelly was just doing her job as a journalist, throwing Trump's most outrageous comments back at him and demanding an explanation.
But on another level, she was trying to bring Trump to heel. The extraction of the humiliating public apology is one of the media's most powerful weapons. Someone becomes famous, we dig up dirt on the person, we rub it in his or her nose, and then we demand that the person get down on bended knee and beg forgiveness.
The Clintons' 1992 joint interview on 60 Minutes was a classic example, as was Anthony Weiner's prostration before Andrew Breitbart and Chris Christie's 107-minute marathon apologia after Bridgegate. The subtext is always the same: If you want power in this country, you must accept the primacy of the press. It's like paying the cover at the door of the world's most exclusive club.
Trump wouldn't pay the tab. Not only was he not wrong for saying those things, he explained, but holding in thoughts like that is bad for America. That's why we don't win anymore, why we lose to China and to Mexico (how are we losing to Mexico again?). He was saying that hiding forbidden thoughts about women or immigrants or whoever isn't just annoying, but bad for America.
It's not exactly telling people to get out there and beat people with metal rods. But when your response to news that a couple of jackasses just invoked your name when they beat the crap out of a homeless guy is to salute your "passionate" followers who "love this country," you've gone next-level.
The political right in America has been flirting with dangerous ideas for a while now, particularly on issues involving immigrants and minorities. But in the last few years the rhetoric has gotten particularly crazy.
Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert proposed using troops and ships of war to stop an invasion of immigrant children, whom he described as a 28 Days Later-style menace. "We don't even know all of the diseases, and how extensive the diseases are," he said.
"A lot of head lice, a lot of scabies," concurred another Texas congressman, Blake Farenthold.
"I'll do anything short of shooting them," promised Mo Brooks, a congressman from the enlightened state of Alabama.

Then there's Iowa's Steve King, who is unusually stupid even for a congressman. He not only believes a recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage allows people to marry inanimate objects, but also believes the EPA may have intentionally spilled three million gallons of toxic waste into Colorado's Animas river in order to get Superfund money.
Late last year, King asked people to "surround the president's residence" in response to Barack Obama's immigration policies. He talked about putting "boots on the ground" and said "everything is on the table" in the fight against immigrants.
So all of this was in the ether even before Donald Trump exploded into the headlines with his "They're rapists" line, and before his lunatic, Game of Thrones idea to build a giant wall along the southern border. But when Trump surged in the polls on the back of this stuff, it caused virtually all of the candidates to escalate their anti-immigrant rhetoric.
For example, we just had Ben Carson – who seems on TV like a gentle, convivial doctor who's just woken up from a nice nap – come out and suggest that he's open to using drone strikes on U.S. soil against undocumented immigrants. Bobby Jindal recently came out and said mayors in the so-called "sanctuary cities" should be arrested when undocumented immigrants commit crimes. Scott Walker and Marco Rubio have both had to change their positions favoring paths to citizenship as a result of the new dynamic.
Meanwhile, Rick Santorum, polling at a brisk zero percent, joined Jindal and Lindsey Graham in jumping aboard with Trump's insane plan to toss the 14th Amendment out the window and revoke the concept of birthright citizenship, thereby extending the war on immigrants not just to children, but babies.
All of this bleeds out into the population. When a politician says dumb thing X, it normally takes ‘Murica about two days to start flirting publicly with X + way worse.
We saw that earlier this week, when Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson blew up Twitter by calling for undocumented immigrants to become "property of the state" and put into "compelled labor." When a caller challenged the idea, Mickelson answered, "What's wrong with slavery?"
Why there's suddenly this surge of hatred for immigrants is sort of a mystery. Why Donald Trump, who's probably never even interacted with an undocumented immigrant in a non-commercial capacity, in particular should care so much about this issue is even more obscure. (Did he trip over an immigrant on his way to the Cincinnati housing development his father gave him as a young man?)
Most likely, immigrants are just collateral damage in Trump's performance art routine, which is an absurd ritualistic celebration of the coiffed hotshot endlessly triumphing over dirty losers and weaklings.
Trump isn't really a politician, of course. He's a strongman act, a ridiculous parody of a Nietzschean superman. His followers get off on watching this guy with (allegedly) $10 billion and a busty mute broad on his arm defy every political and social convention and get away with it.
People are tired of rules and tired of having to pay lip service to decorum. They want to stop having to watch what they say and think and just get "crazy," as Thomas Friedman would put it.
Trump's campaign is giving people permission to do just that. It's hard to say this word in conjunction with such a sexually unappealing person, but his message is a powerful aphrodisiac. Fuck everything, fuck everyone. Fuck immigrants and fuck their filthy lice-ridden kids. And fuck you if you don't like me saying so.
Those of us who think polls and primaries and debates are any match for that are pretty naive. America has been trending stupid for a long time. Now the stupid wants out of its cage, and Trump is urging it on. There are a lot of ways this can go wrong, no matter who wins in 2016.

For your consideration: The Deal an opinion by Noam Chomsky

here or

Saturday, August 15, 2015


My cousin sent me a reasoned opinion written by Massachusetts Representative Scott Moulton (former Marine and Iraq War vet from Salem.) My cousin and I think, too, Representative Moulton's logic is impeccable, and we both do not get how Senator Schumer can be against it.

Further, in my opinion, Representative Moulton could be one day presidential material. Rep. Moulton is a wonderful person, Harvard smart and handsome to boot. I am glad he is in the US House and hope his visibility increases. His opinion:

Moulton: Supporting the deal is the “best course of action to prevent a nuclear Iran ”

Salem, MA - Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) released the following statement announcing his support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon:

“As a combat veteran who has seen fellow Americans killed in Iraq by the weapons and influence of the Iranian regime, I understand firsthand the threat Iran poses to America and our allies. The United States and the international community must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“After carefully reviewing the details of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, listening to my constituents including leaders in the Jewish community, and consulting with a wide variety of military and civilian experts, I have determined that the best course of action to prevent a nuclear Iran is supporting and implementing the agreement. It is not a perfect deal, and it is easy to point out the many ways in which it could theoretically be stronger. That being said, it is by far the best viable option before us.

“First, I believe the deal is sufficiently verifiable and enforceable. This is not about trust. Iran already has the knowledge to refine uranium and build a nuclear weapon. Therefore, limitations on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure are less important than how quickly and effectively we can catch Iran should its leaders decide to build a bomb. After attending both classified and unclassified briefings, I believe the inspections regime—while far from perfect—is comprehensive enough to be effective. Inspections will also give us greater intelligence on Iran than we have today.

“Second, the deal puts us in a stronger position both today and in the future than the alternatives, of which there are essentially two: taking military action or attempting to increase sanctions in the hope of negotiating a better deal some time in the future.

“Taking military action against Iran would only set Iran’s nuclear program back five years at most, reaffirm their pursuit of a nuclear weapon, and drive the program underground.

"Maintaining or increasing sanctions on Iran will only work if the sanctions coalition holds together. It is clear from a variety of sources that at least Russia, China, and India are unlikely to maintain sanctions if Congress rejects the deal. Getting a better deal requires more leverage not less, and the only way for the U.S. to unilaterally increase sanctions would be for us to sanction our allies when they try to do business with Iran, which is impractical at best. In the meantime, while we attempt to establish a new sanctions regime, Iran will have a far shorter breakout time than they would have under the agreement.

“Both alternatives, military action and sanctions, leave us worse off than we are under the terms of the deal.

“Even in a worst case scenario where the regime cheats and continues to pursue a nuclear weapon, the United States and our allies will be in a stronger position to take further action under the auspices of the agreement--both because of the credibility it gives us, internationally and domestically, and the better intelligence inspections will provide.

"Whether you believe the Administration could have negotiated a stronger deal is largely irrelevant at this point. We must make a choice based on the options before us. Moving forward, there are two critical things the United States must do:

“First, we should reaffirm, to our allies and adversaries alike, that the Iranian regime remains an enemy of the United States of America and our allies, especially Israel. Iran is a state sponsor of international terrorism, holds American hostages, and commits deplorable violations of basic human rights on a daily basis. It would have been a poor negotiating strategy to include any provisions on these issues in the nuclear deal as they would have necessarily watered down the nuclear limits. But we must now keep up the pressure on all these issues, which the United States can do under the deal.

“Second, we must reaffirm our commitment to our allies in the Middle East, and we must work to repair the relationships that have been frayed by this negotiation. Along with many of my Congressional colleagues, I am traveling to Israel this week and meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli officials. I look forward to discussing how we can repair and advance our historic alliance and ensure that our commitment to Israel is as strong and non-partisan in the future as it has been in the past.

“No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated among adversaries, but we must always act in our national interest and consider the facts as they exist today. This Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available in an ongoing confrontation with a great threat to world peace. For these reasons, I will support the deal when it comes for a vote in Congress and encourage my colleagues to do the same.”

Friday, August 14, 2015

States Try To Dig Up Planned Parenthood Violations, Fail Miserably Probes in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts and South Dakota have uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing.

TWO thumbs UP!!! yeeeha/ Republicrats try and try and try and try to do things that cost the taxpayer millions to investigate Democrats and come up with ZERO time and time and time again. One would think these paranoid pariahs would be careful of investigations that cost money and go nowhere since they allegedly care about the budget so much, of course, only when it helps the poor. The big corps not so much Republicons give them as much taxpayer cash as they need.

Good for Planned Parenthood and I hope the electorate is not so stupid as to buy the Republicrat tripe. Republicons are simply FOOLS. Sure try to legislate Obamacare out of existence, close the government, investigation threefold of Benghazi went NOWHERE, the IRS went nowhere, Voter sign up by ACORN was phony set up by conservative like James O'Keefe to take it down. They have ZERO on all of it and I'm going to put my money on Hillary that she would NOT ever be so ridiculous as to give these swine treacherous jerks any ammunition with which to take her down. These Republicans are SICK jackasses.


FINALLY. Cuba Libre?

FINALLY a restoration of the US embassy in Cuba and a restoration of diplomatic relations with that island 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

Is Cuba free? Many would say not entirely but the US albatross of its own making against the small Cuban island for not very much reason is finally coming off our necks.

I will comment later as I witness this wonderful historic moment of change, that only a Democratic administration could bring. Finally!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Republicans want a better deal but they do not say what it is. To not support this Deal is another ruse to goad the nation into yet another war -- this time a huge one with a big power, Iran! Does Iraq sound familiar with their oh so scary weapons of mass destruction which still cannot be found.  Republicans are trying to bang the drum beat for war with Iran as they did for the Iraq debacle.

Do NOT let them do it by rejecting the Deal.  Write your Congressperson especially in the Senate to tell them to NOT reject the Deal but to ACCEPT it.

Israel SHOULD want it too. Without it, Iran will keep doing what it is doing enriching uranium and ultimately Iran will get the bomb in short order with no room for inspections. Congress will concoct a reason to attack especially if there is a Republican president in office after Obama. It's called the "Bush Doctrine of Preemptive War."

Do you want another Middle East war with a power twice the size of Iraq and with a much more military savvy plus powers lined up against us then sink the deal? If you do that we all will have achieved is endless wars.  Like all other post WWII wars in which we engage, we will lose.

It is inadvisable for the US, inadvisable for Israel and inadvisable for the world to ruin this Deal. We will have no allies if we reject the deal as the P5 plus 1 want it. 

With the Deal, Iran WILL be monitored scrupulously and if they renege then sanctions will "snap back." Do not let Republican Neocons dupe you yet again.  No more Middle East Wars shedding our blood and our treasure for nothing.  

Tell your Congresspersons you support the Deal!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Tragic Darkness Behind Dr. Fredric Brandt’s Extreme Façade--A Comment

A "Vanity Fair" article entitled "The Tragic Darkness Behind Dr. Frederic Brandt's Extreme Facade" by Lili Anolink was interesting. The article was interesting because Dr. Brandt, a cosmetic surgeon, age 63, who had certainly fame in his field and fortune killed himself and, in the end, seemingly he was rather alone. It is posted here and below. I think it is worth a read.

I had never heard of Dr. Brandt perhaps because I am not a member of the elite, do not have the cash to change my appearance to the Fountain of Youth nor the desire to do so.

I do, however, have opinions which I write about incessantly. The suicide of Dr. Brandt was tragic, indeed, but as the article states so well, unknowable as to motive. One's impulse to suicide is speculative at best and unknowable at worst.

I was not upset when reading the article at the critics of Dr. Brandt though one could make a case for criticism of them nor was I critical of Dr. Brandt himself for doing what most people, even ones who suffer greatly in life, cannot or would not do.

What I am upset about though is our culture's brutal socio-pathology that has enveloped our humanity like a crustacean's hard shell. I do not exclude myself from this indictment as my liberal comments attack conservatives I think are my enemy but should not be. It is not a good, nor a kind nor a humane way to conduct one's life. Our Trumpian attacks of others knows no boundaries and the online life makes those attacks that much easier to inflict. We are a product of all we see, especially in media form, around us. It allows us to take liberties with the cruelty of criticism we hurl at others without an attempt to couch or soften those critiques. That cruelty and verbal profanity is everywhere and sometimes even emerges as physical violence.

The things we say, opinions we give, attacks we make on others too often know no humanity, do not care about feelings and simply lob cannons at everyone we think deserves them without thought about whom those cannons hurt, maim or even kill. Ferguson, gun violence, war and racism fall on our person like a load of cement that covers our veil of empathy for others, perhaps man's greatest gift for survival. In short, we often simply do not care who we hurt.

What is really the staff of life? Perhaps the Jewish Rabbi Hillel in the 1st century said it best: “Don’t do unto others what you would not want done to you – that is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary.” If we only could do as he instructs!

Monday, August 10, 2015

The good senator from New York may be voting with his conscience, but he’s got the facts all wrong.

Chuck Schumer’s Disingenuous Iran Deal Argument

What can be said of the role that the U.S. Congress has tried to establish for itself when it comes to foreign policy? At the risk of out-Dicking former Vice President Cheney himself on the subject of executive authority, Congress is a “branch of government” in precisely the same way that college basketball fans are a “sixth man.” We don’t let fans call plays, other than as some kind of preseason stunt. I am not particularly interested in congressional views about the Iran deal.

Could the debate in Congress be less dignified if the members removed their shirts, painted themselves red or blue, and started screaming like the Cameron Crazies?

Read more from FP on the Iran nuclear deal
How Israel could lose a generation of U.S. Democrats: If the Iran deal collapses, liberals will never forgive Tel Aviv.
Why America will never reset with Iran: The United States is about to squander a rare opportunity.
Pushing Iran towards the bomb: This is what will happen if Congress kills the nuke deal.
Inspectors in Tehran: Why Iran won’t sneak out under the nuclear agreement.

Which brings us to Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Schumer is one of the most powerful members of the U.S. Senate, which is not quite the same thing as saying he’s dignified. Back in the 1990s, when he was a congressman, his House colleagues had a phrase for waking up to find he’d upstaged them in the media: to be “Schumed.” Washingtonians have long joked that the most dangerous place in town is between New York’s senior senator and a microphone. The Washington Post’s Emily Heil has suggested we retire that hackneyed cliché, replacing it instead with this bon mot from former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine:

“Sharing a media market with Chuck Schumer is like sharing a banana with a monkey,” Corzine was quoted as saying in New York magazine. “Take a little bite of it and he will throw his own feces at you.”

On Thursday evening, right in the middle of the first GOP debate, Schumer reached back, took aim, and heaved a large one. He penned a long piece for Medium that some anonymous hack described as “thoughtful and deliberate.” Uh, ok. Maybe compared to Mike Huckabee’s outrage about “oven doors,” but good grief our standards for political discourse have fallen. Schumer’s missive came across a bit like your crazy uncle who gets his opinions from talk radio and wants to set you straight at Thanksgiving.

(I’m probably not the only one who thinks so. But then, I don’t have to pretend Schumer is some great statesman lest he put a hold on some future appointment or nomination.)

Consider how Schumer describes the inspection regime in the Iran deal.

Schumer starts by repeating the claim that “inspections are not ‘anywhere, anytime’; the 24-day delay before we can inspect is troubling.” This would be very troubling if it were true. It isn’t. The claim that inspections occur with a 24-day delay is the equivalent of Obamacare “death panels.” Remember those? A minor detail has been twisted into a bizarre caricature and repeated over and over until it becomes “true.”

Let’s get this straight. The agreement calls for continuous monitoring at all of Iran’s declared sites — that means all of the time — including centrifuge workshops, which are not safeguarded anywhere else in the world. Inspectors have immediate access to these sites.

That leaves the problem of possible undeclared sites. What happens when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suspects that prohibited work is occurring at an undeclared site? This is the problem known as the “Ayatollah’s toilet.” It emerged from the challenge of inspecting presidential palaces in Iraq in the 1990s, which — despite UNSCOM’s demands for immediate access — the Iraqis argued were off-limits.

Far from giving Iran 24 days, the IAEA will need to give only 24 hours’ notice before showing up at a suspicious site to take samples. Access could even be requested with as little as two hours’ notice, something that will be much more feasible now that Iran has agreed to let inspectors stay in-country for the long-term. Iran is obligated to provide the IAEA access to all such sites — including, if it comes down to it, the Ayatollah’s porcelain throne.

But that’s not all. The Iran deal has a further safeguard for inspections at undeclared sites, the very provision that Schumer and other opponents are twisting. What happens if Iran tries to stall and refuses to provide access, on whatever grounds? There is a strict time limit on stalling. Iran must provide access within two weeks. If Iran refuses, the Joint Commission set up under the deal must decide within seven days whether to force access. Following a majority vote in the Joint Commission — where the United States and its allies constitute a majority bloc — Iran has three days to comply. If it doesn’t, it’s openly violating the deal, which would be grounds for the swift return of the international sanctions regime, known colloquially as the “snap back.”

This arrangement is much, much stronger than the normal safeguards agreement, which requires prompt access in theory but does not place time limits on dickering.

What the opponents of the deal have done is to add up all the time limits, and claimed that inspections will occur only after a 24-day pause. This is simply not true. Should the U.S. intelligence community catch the Iranians red-handed, it might be that the Iranians would drag things out as long as possible. But in such a case, the game would be over. Either the Iranians would never let the inspectors into the site, or its efforts to truck out documents or equipment, wash down the site or bulldoze buildings, etc., would be highly visible. These tactics would crater the deal, with predictable consequences. (Schumer also takes a shot at the snap back. Say what you will about the probability of getting all parties to agree to re-impose sanctions, but agreements like this have never had such an enforcement provision before.)

Even if nefarious Iranian run-arounds could be hidden, these efforts, over the course of a few weeks, would not suffice to hide environmental evidence of covert uranium enrichment. Schumer even admits as much. But, he insists, other weapons-related work, like high-explosive testing without any nuclear materials, might go undetected.

This, too, is a specious objection. For comparison, opponents of this deal have spent enormous amounts of time demanding access to Iran’s Parchin facility, where precisely this sort of weaponization work appears to have place between 1996 and 2002. That was more than a decade ago. There is a certain tension between the claim that a few weeks is much too long, but that access to a site 13 years after the fact is absolutely necessary. A person might get suspicious that these arguments aren’t to be taken at face value.

The simple truth is, some aspects of weapons work are hard to detect — no matter what. So what’s the alternative? To not prohibit that work? To permit Iran to do things like paper studies on nuclear-weapons development because it’s hard to verify the prohibition? Again, that’s crazy. The Iran deal defines weapons work in far more detail than any previous agreement. That’s a good thing — and those of us who are skeptical of Iranian intentions should welcome it, not use it to attack the deal. The law insists that drug dealers pay their taxes. They don’t, but every now and again the feds put a gangster away for tax evasion. (Ask Al Capone.) Western intelligence services have shown considerable ingenuity in acquiring documents from Iran’s nuclear program. Even if it’s not guaranteed they would do so in the future, the prohibitions in the deal create additional opportunities to stop an illicit weapons program.

Some of us might think it good that the agreement puts defined limits on how much Iran can stall and explicitly prohibits a long list of weaponization activities. Opponents, like Schumer — apparently for want of anything better — have seized on these details to spin them into objections. A weaker, less-detailed agreement might have been easier to defend against this sort of attack, perhaps.

But let’s not be too critical of Schumer’s insincerity. Despite having repeated these and other arguments against the Iran deal, Schumer, despite being a member of the Democratic leadership, has gone out of his way to signal that other caucus members can vote their conscience. Congress has a long history of members voting against agreements while working to pass them. Sen. Mitch McConnell, when he was minority leader, openly opposed the New START agreement, while paving the way for a small number of Republican senators to cross party lines to secure its ratification. Schumer appears to be doing something similar in this case, stating his personal opposition but not whipping votes against the deal.

That might be something less than a profile in courage, but it’s how Congress works. And I think it’s a pretty good reason not to let these characters anywhere near foreign policy. But then again, I would have advised the president to veto the Cardin-Corker bill that established this farce of a process. But Obama signed it and here we are.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

My Conundrum -- A Letter to Glenn Greenwald

I responded to Glenn Greenwald's article in “The Intercept” entitled “To Defend Iran Deal, Obama Boasts that He's Bombed Seven Countries" both here and below.

My email to you sent yesterday said your article was brilliantly written and it was. Over decades, since the Vietnam War, I arrived at my left of center view on American foreign policy because of national events that influenced me to do so. While I consider your article brilliant and cannot stop thinking about it I always seem to put on the brakes as to whether I wholly accept what you say or not. 

When I first developed my political point of view I was attending and living at Boston University. I went there during those turbulent but wonderful-to-me days of the late 1960's. I was handicapped since age 5. Finally, something made me feel tall and strong perhaps stronger than most because my arc of conscience was turned to what I deemed a more important venue than getting pinned, engaged and married after college relegated to the kitchen, bassinets and babies. Left wing politics captured my soul.

I was given by one of my professors J. William Fulbright's book "The Arrogance of Power" to read. It changed my life. For the first time, I saw this nation with a different lens. The book propelled me to question everything I was taught about a white-hat nation which was supposed to be spreading freedom and liberty to all even, if necessary, through military force. I was struck by how much propaganda I swallowed as a youth. I questioned nothing my nation did or the truth of why it did it. I never thought before then that my nation was, in reality, often the aggressor and not the guy wearing a white hat riding in to save the day. This nation was actually aggressive moving in on nations, toying with their politics, perfecting regime change when regime change was not even a concept here about which one spoke. Sometimes the US changed good regimes like ones headed by a Mosadeq in Iran or an Allende in Chile into bad ones with fascist-like tyrannies. Sometimes our nation was intent on even invading small islands 25 miles from our Florida coast or in 1954 ones like Guatemala in Central America for primarily the United Fruit Company. Calling the US an imperialist nation was new to me. Often, upon further investigation I found it was true.

We were fed a line of propaganda we neither questioned nor opposed but we hook, line and sinker unquestioningly accepted it. The US was allegedly perfecting regime change for "democracy" and freeing the oppressed from the oppressor while in reality it steamrolled over nations, changing regimes along the way as long as those regimes were anti-Communist, pro-business even if many were often fascist totalitarian states like the Vietnam of Ky and Thieu. Worse the nation fed those who would die in those wars lies to reel into service the innocent.

The real metamorphosis of my political thought was an introduction to Howard Zinn, a professor of history at BU and a strident anti-war and civil rights activist. He said to always ask who does war benefit and why. I knew nothing until then about the Eisenhower-warned military industrial complex nor did I know that our young men were dying not for the principles of freedom and liberty but for corporate interests whose interests were not mine nor theirs.

 The struggle of persons of color in this nation to eat at desegregated lunch counters, against the racist laws of the Jim Crow south, against the denial of the right to vote, against literacy tests and poll taxes they could not afford or go to a theater and to sit where one wanted added to my outrage.

The two issues of foreign policy and black civil rights converged upon each other in that era and exploded onto the national scene with grass roots protest and violence. The indignities persons of color suffered for hundreds of years could never happen in this paradise of equality and fair play but it could and it did. MLK and Malcolm X really did tell the truth and were not Communist agents.

This nation cannot figure out why people hate us or why anyone would want to crash planes into buildings and kill us. They do so because we have killed hundreds of thousands all over the world especially in the Middle East and NOT for democracy but for oil, power and the money they engender. We kill because we can, plunder nations because we can, change regimes into more preferable tyrannies because we can and even use chemical weapons because we can. We are the only nation to have exploded a nuclear bomb that killed over 200,000 people in an instant and yet we demand other nations rid themselves of even the thought of obtaining one.

Those in this nation if they even realize what this nation has hostilely done to other nations accept it because our media is good at sending its national propaganda message. Even the media here is a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporations that stand to win the most through war. One will NOT hear debates on these issues during the 1/2 hour of evening news with Lester Holt nor on the Today Show with its stupid frivolity and giggly women in shoes that look like they should be worn on the streets soliciting business.

AND YET, the question for me has always been am I not seeing the world as it really is? Am I not seeing this life as nasty, brutish and short? Am I not seeing the necessity of brute force? Would our adversaries do to us what we do to them if they could because man is a corrupt, tribal and violent animal? Do we have to protect our power and balance that power in our favor at all costs?

I still do NOT know the answer to those questions. Western Europe not so long ago nearly fell to the barbarity of fascism. Even France , the bastion of culture and free thought , fell to Vichy fascism and anti-Semitism as did much of Europe. I always weigh everything because I know the world is filled with bad guys, robber barons, fascist and left wing tyrants or religious tyrannies who would subdue us if they could. If our soldiers were not there would their soldiers be here? Is the only thing standing between us and religious tyranny the US military?

What is the world really like, who wears the white hat and who is the most evil? It is still a conundrum for me. I simply still do not know.

Senate support grows for Iran deal By Burgess Everett


  • I damn well HOPE so, if the electorate wants to avoid another war twice the size of the quagmire Iraq. We would have NO allies on this one except Israel and it is wholly bad for them to reject this deal too. Don't forget too Pakistan has NUKES about which many of these Republicon jerks have no idea. So yeah let's ramp up a worse war than Iraq with Shites where the whole gd place will explode what is left of it anyway. Would Pakistanis lob a nuke? Who knows do you want to chance it? OR someone just may take out Israel's nukes or try with doses of complementary radiation everywhere. NOT accepting this deal is the STUPID of STUPID. It is in everyone's interest to SUPPORT it but the RepublCONS and their neoCON criminals that got us into Iraq are either delusional or suicidal except they bring us down with them! Another huge war will NEVER fly ever! 
  •  We will lose and the biggest loser will be the American taxpayer and Israel. 
  • This is about permanent forever war, helping no one but the corporatists that make a fortune off the blood of those who are ignorant of politics especially Middle East history. It is NUTS to reject this deal. If you want to get rid of money in politics then DO NOT VOTE THESE KNOW NOTHING REPUBLICON ratholes into office. It's that simple. GET THEM OUT OF THERE and then oh my god thousands of pounds would be off our backs! They will spin this into war. You can believe NOTHING they say. They are beholden to the corporations who do their bidding! Call or write members of Congress in the House and Senate, call or write those who do not support the deal especially Democrats who want your money. Tell them you will withhold contributions from them and help kick them out of office too! Write even those who are not your representatives. Tell them you will join others to get them sent home!

The article:

President Barack Obama’s Iran deal looks increasingly likely to survive a challenge from congressional Republicans after several swing Democrats said they would back the deal just as the Senate sped toward recess on Wednesday.

Minutes after Senate leaders locked in an agreement to begin debating the nuclear deal on Sept. 8, Independent Maine Sen. Angus King came to the floor to announce his support for the agreement. King’s decision will make it hard for GOP opponents to block the lifting of legislative sanctions when the Senate votes no later than Sept. 17.

“This is the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make,” King said. “But in the end I decided the terms of this agreement are preferable to the alternatives.”

In addition to King, Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Tim Kaine of Virginia also voiced support for the deal this week. Their support is invaluable for the White House: The trio of Democratic Caucus members were early backers of the review law that allows Congress to hold an up or down vote on the deal. And their support transforms the whip-counting operation for Republicans hoping to block the deal.

While there are technically enough undecided Democrats for the GOP to marshal a veto-proof majority against the deal, many are reliable allies of the administration and are expected to back the agreement. More skeptical senators like Chuck Schumer of New York or Robert Menendez of New Jersey could still end up voting against the Iran deal and bring some colleagues with them, but the battle for votes appears to be a race to 60 instead of 67.


If Republicans can get at least six Democrats to support their cause in the Senate to break a filibuster, it would still be a significant achievement for the GOP. Sanctions on Iran would stay in place for 22 more days as Obama vetoed the disapproval resolution and Congress voted to override a veto, and a 60-vote bloc is always difficult to build. But it wouldn’t be enough to block the deal.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) came to the Senate floor on Wednesday afternoon and sounded like he’d made a decision. But Flake, who Obama is aggressively courting to support the deal, still said he was undecided.

“I can only support an agreement that can endure,” he said as he left the floor with a long summer recess and a big decision ahead of him.

With senators antsy to begin their August recess after a mostly fruitless week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reached an agreement to start consideration of the Iran deal as soon as lawmakers return from the break. They also agreed on a process to finish a cybersecurity bill, but it could be months before that gets a vote in the Senate. 

McConnell has said he hopes that all 100 senators participate in the Iran discussion while at their desks and has suggested that all committee hearings be canceled during the deliberations.

Reid, in a rare moment of comity between the two rival leaders, said: “The debate we’re going to have in a matter of weeks, I want it to be … dignified, befitting the gravity of the issue of the day. This is a step forward.”

Locking in the debate before breaking for the recess was a necessity with Rosh Hashanah disrupting the few days that the Senate will be in session in September. Under the agreement, the Senate will have no more than seven days to debate the Iran bill before proceeding to a vote.

On Wednesday alone there were four planned briefings and hearings on the Iran deal, with an evening classified briefing between senators and State Department official Wendy Sherman and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz expected to cap off the summer schedule until September.

After several startling defections from New York House Democrats, like Steve Israel, Obama got some good news from the other side of the Capitol as well on Wednesday. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), who has a constituent held in Iran, announced he’d back the deal as well.

“No one has presented a credible alternative,” Kildee said.

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