Friday, October 09, 2015

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I am watching the PBS documentary Frontline about the Lockerbie terrorist bombing of Pam Am Flight No. 103 in 1988 over Scotland. It is looked at, in part, through the eyes of one of the brothers who was killed on that terrorist-struck plane.

I also took a trip down memory lane as I came across my high school year book from the Class of 1966. I read the principal's message and the message of the president of my class. Both messages were full of optimism and hope that our class would make a difference in the world for the better.

Everyone who was in the class with the exception of, perhaps, three were white. One of those three was an intellect and received no recognition for her brilliance. She ran for Secretary of the class and told me she would never make it because she was a Negro (the nice word in that era for persons of color.) I could not believe it then.

I looked at my own picture, of course, which described me as "openhearted and friendly. She will surely reach her goals." Well the openhearted and friendly part, perhaps, they got right.

Then I thought of our nation and how low it has sunk, how divided it is and how US foreign policy was Machiavellian in which political expediency is placed above morality more than it was humane and selfless as we, in our naiveté, were told it was. But I did not know all of those things then nor did I know anything about the Islamic world (or Moslem, the appellation of the time for Muslim) nor did I know anything about terrorism and how the two are so inextricably intertwined. I did not know those things then.

I wonder if the Holocaust had never happened and Palestine was shared or if the Jewish people did not create the Israeli state as a refuge for the millennia of anti-Semitism suffered by them that led to the murder of at least 6 million Jews, if the US had not financed a coup in Iran in 1953 deposing a beloved leader, Mosadeq, and put in his place, the brutal Shah with his murderous secret police, Savak, had not taken place, if we did not have to greet every single opposing nation with force, if Vietnam did not happen, if the burning of the Vietnamese country side with cancer-causing Agent Orange did not happen, if My Lai did not happen what would our nation – no what would the world look like now?

Are Muslims by nature simply beasts (see link below) no matter what another nation did to them? I wonder about all these things as I look at that brutal link entitled “The Islamic State (ISIS) Is Raping 8-Year-Olds. And the World Is Doing Nothing.”

Who would do such a thing to an 8 year old? Then again who would do such a thing as to bomb and kill doctors of neutral political stripe who save lives and risk their own in a war zone? Who would kill innocent patients bombed and burned in their beds? Who would do such a thing as to invade a nation like Iraq that did nothing to it and kill god only knows how many innocents? Who would do such things?

Those are the questions I ask. Could it all have been so different; so much better than the political decay we see before our eyes in our time?

Maybe if I write about this and send it to a newspaper it will give me another Warholian 15 minutes of fame. What if that, in the long run, will mean nothing and the world will keep on going on as it has for thousands of years and my principal’s and the class president’s messages were wrong? What if it all ends in a flash?

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Kevin McCarthy's Exit Came After Personal Threat Over Affair Allegations

Well I'll be damned! NOTHING surprises me coming from these utter hypocrites and utterly mean sicking Tea Baggies. AWFUL human beings. I am NO fan of Kevin McCarthy that is for sure but to hold an affair over his head by the extremist rightwingnuts of this putrid Republicon Party is DESPICABLE. But what can one expect of the Party of hypocrites and noxious anti-humans!  Only the fate of our nation they put at risk. Now the Party of many sins is floating Newt Gingrich to come in as speaker but Newt has had relationship problems of his own.  Hey, I know.  How about asking the Pope!

"Why not resign like Bob Livingston?”

In the hours before House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) abruptly withdrew his candidacy to be the next speaker of the House, he was sent an email from a conservative activist threatening to expose an alleged affair with a colleague. The subject line: “Kevin, why not resign like Bob Livingston?”
The email, sent just after 8 a.m. on Thursday, came from Steve Baer, a Chicago-based GOP donor known for mass-emailing conservative figures and Republican lawmakers. It was addressed to McCarthy and numerous others, including the personal account of Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), who conservative media sites have suggested is tied romantically to McCarthy.

McCarthy has brushed off the affair allegation. After announcing that he would not seek the speaker's post on Thursday, he was asked about Wednesday's cryptic letter from Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), which asked that "any candidate for speaker of the House, majority leader, and majority whip withdraw himself from the leadership election if there are any misdeeds he has committed since joining Congress that will embarrass himself, the Republican conference, and the House of Representatives if they become public."

"No. No. Come on," said McCarthy. His decision to withdraw, he said, was to ensure that fellow GOP members didn't have a tough vote. "For us to unite, we probably need a fresh face," he said.

But the existence of the Baer email, passed to The Huffington Post by a source, shows that there were personal threats being made prior to McCarthy's abrupt announcement.

In the email, Baer linked to a Washington Examiner story published earlier Thursday with the headline: “Specter of sex scandal injected into GOP leadership race.” The article referenced Jones’ letter in the context of Speaker-elect Bob Livingston abruptly resigning in 1998 following a sex scandal.

Baer urged McCarthy to spare his family and congressional colleagues the ordeal of the allegations being raised, and suggested that concealing an affair would be a national security risk because of the possibility of extortion.
Few news organizations have touched the affair allegations, beyond the Drudge Report and conservative media. Charles Johnson, the conservative provocateur behind, reported them back in January. (Johnson, who is currently banned from Twitter, took a victory lap Thursday on Facebook.)
The rumors gained more traction in the last week in conservative circles, perhaps partly due to Baer’s multiple emails over that time, sent to a string of high-powered Republicans.

RedState editor-in-chief and radio host Erick Erickson wrote Thursday that someone sent links to blog posts about the alleged affair a few days ago to 91 people, including members of Congress and “highly influential conservatives outside Congress.” Erickson added that “there’s no evidence of the rumor being true.”

Erickson didn’t name the email sender, but The Huffington Post has confirmed it was Baer.

In Thursday’s post, Erickson wrote that a comment by Ellmers in The Hill, in the context of the rumors, further hyped the rumor mill:
Even some natural leadership allies such as Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) expressed doubts about promoting McCarthy to Speaker, a job second in line to the presidency.
“He has not spoken to me personally for my vote, and Jason Chaffetz has, so that’s where I am right now. At this point I will be casting a vote for Jason Chaffetz,” said Ellmers, who is facing a GOP primary challenger. “I can’t vote for someone who doesn’t ask for my vote.
“I’m apparently not high on his priority list,” she added.
 Major media outlets often are reluctant to amplify such claims and famously ignored rumors of John Edwards’ infidelity during the 2008 election. While cable news was all over McCarthy's decision to withdraw from the speaker's race on Thursday afternoon, no hosts or guests on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News explicitly referenced the rumors.
Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin seemed to allude to them during an MSNBC  appearance, noting “there’s a lot of speculation” that McCarthy’s decision had “more to do with things outside of his professional life.”
A couple hours later, Halperin cryptically tweeted: 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

A Clarificaiton

Mary Beth Sheetz in the Metrowest Daily News commentary section further clarified my opinion appearing in the News and the confusion surrounding the alleged papal meeting with Kim Davis, the Kentucky head clerk, who went against a SCOTUS mandate allowing gays to marry.  It is worth noting what Ms. Sheetz said:

The NYTimes is reporting in more detail how a county clerk came to be in a receiving line at the Nunciature. The Pope was set-up by the conservative Bishop Vigano,he had exiled from Rome for mis-conduct. The attorneys representing the clerk have been associated by the Southern Poverty Law centers' list of hate groups. The US press is now full of reports the Bishop, scheduled to retire in January, will be gone from the Nunciature sooner rather than later.

I further responded to her:

Thank you, Mary Beith, for the further clarification. It is amazing the lengths some in hate groups will go to bamboozle others to get their message of hate delivered this time to the most prominent, influential and highest leader of the Vatican, the Pope himself.

Your further explanation just serves to reinforce my first notion of this Pope as good as if not better than even Pope John XXIII decades before him who initiated Vatican II and began the necessary changes in Church centuries-long doctrine among them indicting the Jews for perfidy. That noxious doctrine had profound implications for the hitherto weak opposition even silent resignation of Pius XII to Hitler's Europe and the Holocaust. Pope Francis continues what John XXIII began. Why does this Jew even care? I care because there are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world that make every word the Pope says important especially to the oppressed.

Moreover, admittedly, I am in search of a leader to love who, indeed, promotes love, forgiveness and not hate. Though change often comes from the bottom up we still need leaders who advocate for humane change from the top down.

The violent, mean and often ruthless forces that occupy this beautiful planet must be stopped and we desperately need a strong leader to help us stop it.


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Strike on Doctors Without Borders

The American media, it seems, when reporting on this American strike upon a Doctors Without Borders hospital make it seem it is in the hip pocket of the military behemoths and the corporations that make billions off eternal war. This was an ugly attack in Afghanistan on the Doctors Without Borders medical facility. In the many wars the US has fought so called “collateral damage” has happened many times but this was a Doctors without Borders facility which is recognized by the international laws of war as OFF LIMITS. Doctors Without Borders sent their coordinates to the Afghan and US forces allegedly many times. When the US bombing ensued burning human beings in their beds loud and desperate calls were made to the American military from Doctors Without Borders, a neutral party, to stop bombing their hospital. It went unheeded.

Doctors Without Borders treats EVERYONE – Taliban and Afghan forces alike – who may be in need of medical treatment. The wounded and the dying can get treatment from them. They make NO distinction between an enemy and others.

The policy of Doctors Without Borders treating everyone I have read was an irritant to the Afghan government who did NOT want them to treat the Taliban enemy at all and hence the bombing of them ensued by the US.

This strike, if it occurred by our military forces, on a Doctors Without Borders hospital killing many of the brave and humane doctors as well as their suffering patients is one of the most egregious war crimes committed by our military in a sea of war crimes in that theater of war.

I knew the questioning of Gen. Campbell by the committee set up to “investigate" this egregious action today would be questioning light and it was. The senators sitting on that committee should be pounding their fists asking WHY if the coordinates were given many times by Doctors Without Borders to the Afghan and American military, a request by Doctors Without Borders for a cease and desist order of the bombing of that hospital went unheeded.

If true, this is a huge black eye on the American prosecution of this never ending eternal war. It helps no one. War crimes should be levied against those most responsible for this utterly egregious act. Its action goes against the laws of war, is a crime against humanity and against the laws of human dignity that the Nuremberg trials against the war criminals of Germany mandated should be bestowed on everyone. When crimes like this go unpunished the words “Never again” is just a platitudinous phrase and means nothing.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Hillary in New Hampshire

Hillary this a.m. spent over an hour with voters in New Hampshire answering tough questions from Savannah Guthrie. One of the questioners asked her what her favorite book was. Answer: "The Brothers Karamazov" by Dostoevsky. Not only did she answer it she discussed it showing her gargantuan intellect. She was brilliant and some were asked later if they thought so. A resounding yes was heard even from those who were undecided or who were voting for a challenger. They changed their mind.

Now I ask you to compare and contrast that to ANY candidates in the Republican arena. Most especially compare it to the thank-God-she-did-not-win, Sarah Palin who could have been a heart beat away from an old man in the presidency. She could not even answer the question except she said "All of them" Yeah, right. Case closed!  Democrats are infinitely smarter.

The Republicans still have nothing. Out of 17 candidates none of them has the depth and gravitas no matter how many billionaires there are among them that Hillary Clinton has.

There is no question who is the most electable, has the most experience and is the smartest. I won't tell. You figure it out.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

‘Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS’ by Joby Warrick

Getty images/globe staff photo illustration
As its name makes clear, the Islamic State is after something far more permanent than its nihilistic, destructive methods might suggest. Over the past few years the movement has come terrifyingly close, confidently deploying modern tools of warfare and propaganda to establish a blood-soaked caliphate whose barbarity feels prehistoric. In his new book “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS,” Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick sets out to explain how a motley group of criminals considered too unruly by Al Qaeda transformed into the world’s most successful and savage jihadi group.

Warrick’s account centers as much on American missteps as it does on the jihadi long game to build capacity. He telegraphs his disgust with ISIS without turning his book into a two-dimensional jeremiad and takes pains to include accounts of the group’s thinking, evolution, and internal political disputes.

The Islamic State, better known here by the acronym, ISIS, swept into American consciousness about a year ago when it conquered northern Iraq and almost toppled the US-backed government in Baghdad. But ISIS didn’t come out of nowhere. Inhabitants of the Arab heartland had followed the steady entrenchment of jihadi groups in the region.

Since Sept. 11, America’s counter-terror establishment has been obsessed with kill lists, personalizing Al Qaeda and its offshoots as the fiefdoms of a few easily demonized leaders.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, Syria, and on computer screens around the world, a vast, well-funded network recruited legions of talented and capable individuals, learned from its setbacks, innovated, and built effective institutions to buttress a durable reign of horror.

“Black Flags” tries hard to explain how ISIS came of age and why so many supposedly moderate or conservative forces in the Arab world have been willing to stand with extremists.
Most bracing of all is Warrick’s historically-grounded corrective, which blames the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 as the single most pivotal factor in the organization’s creation.

Warrick spends plenty of time on a riveting and detailed biographical account of the man who founded the group that became ISIS, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian thug whose commitment to violent religious extremism was forged in jail. Blithe prison officials allowed jihadis free reign and then carelessly released them to curry political favor for the new king.

The US government made Zarqawi famous by naming him as the link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, part of the spurious grounds to justify the Iraqi invasion. America’s mistakes were a bonanza for Zarqawi, who hired from the ranks of newly jobless soldiers and intelligence officials and capitalized on the disenfranchisement of Sunni tribes suddenly in need of a new protector.

Zarqawi reengineered the parameters of violence — no small feat in a neighborhood where despots like Saddam Hussein and the Assad dynasty in Syria already had spawned a vast torture complex. He personally beheaded civilians on video; directed suicide bombs at targets that other jihadis considered off limits like the UN, NGOs, and Arab embassies; and struck Shia religious targets with the ultimately successfully goal of provoking a destabilizing Sunni-Shia civil war. Even Al Qaeda thought he was going too far, Warrick notes, but Zarqawi’s methods proved to have enduring traction long after his death in 2006.

His successors built ISIS into an organization determined to go much further than Al Qaeda and implement a brutal caliphate immediately. Today ISIS runs oil fields, banks, and a formidable military. The group’s executions grab our attention, but ISIS applies equal zeal to tax collection, education, and indoctrination — all good reasons to suspect that it may remain part of the scene for years to come.

There are a few missing pieces in this otherwise fine book. Warrick neglects the rich context of torture, abuse, and extremism fed by Arab governments and international patrons, including the United States, in the decades before Al Qaeda and then ISIS came to maturity. He mentions but does not delve deeply into the widespread sympathy for hardline Islamist ideas among the Arabian peninsula monarchies and many supposedly mainstream Sunnis.

Also some big questions remain at the end of “Black Flags,’’ including the mystery of the group’s technical achievements. How did ISIS refine its training, military tactics, and administrative abilities so thoroughly that it could control a nation-sized swath of Syria and Iraq? Warrick’s account fills in important conceptual blanks, but doesn’t explain why this time around the same old cocktail of takfiri jihad, Gulf money, and impressionable testosterone-filled volunteers yielded an army and government-in-waiting more effective than any of its regional peers.

Overall, however, Warrick’s book might be the most thorough and nuanced account of the birth and growth of ISIS published so far. “Black Flags’’ is full of personalities, but it keeps its gaze carefully focused on the wider arc of history.

Thanassis Cambanis writes The Internationalist column for Globe Ideas and is a fellow at The Century Foundation in New York. His most recent book is “Once Upon a Revolution: An Egyptian Story.’’

The Hidden Holocaust -- Sixty Minutes segment

This is one of the most excellent pieces of investigative journalism I have seen. It involves the most moral and righteous among nations, a Catholic priest Father Patrick Desbois, who made it his life's work to uncover Jewish dead about whom the Nazis wanted no one to know.

I knew that my grandparents who came here at the turn of the 20th century could not have known what would happen to their friends, family and neighbors who were fellow Jews in Shepatovka, Ukraine and they could never have known that had they not left they would have been among those killed and buried in mass unmarked graves courtesy of the Einsatzgruppen, German death squads dispatched to Eastern Europe to kill Jews -- all of them.

I knew in 1941 that most of them were shot and fell into the killing fields of Eastern Europe while many who were not Jewish stood by and watched. I urge you to watch it and the extra segments including the one on ISIS and NEVER forget!

Linked below.

A priest is determined to find forgotten victims of the Holocaust whose bodies lie in unmarked mass graves in the former USSR

Kee Slapping Funny -- Hillary on Saturday Night Live

Hillary Clinton Saturday Night Live.  Val the bartender!


I still do not think Bernie can win.  So I say Hillary 2016!!!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Pope Francis expected to fire the Archbishop who tricked him into meeting Kim Davis


After Pope Francis wrapped up a successful goodwill tour of the United States, he saw his that goodwill largely undermined when it leaked out that he had met with Kentucky marriage license clerk Kim Davis, who is considered by many Americans to be enemy number one when it comes to gay rights. This prompted the Pope to put out a statement clarifying that while the meeting took place, he in no way endorsed her agenda. And now he’s expected to go a step further, removing the Archbishop who set up the meeting.

Francis and the Vatican also made clear that while he was in Washington DC, the only official one-on-one meeting he had was with a former student of his, Yayo Grassi, who is gay. Instead they maintain that the meeting with Davis was part of a receiving line and that she was essentially slipped in by Washington Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. The New York Times says that he is now “likely to be removed at the first respectable opportunity.”

It’s not immediately clear how far such a move will go toward repairing the sudden damage done to the Pope’s otherwise largely stellar reputation. Some may skeptically view the Archbishop as a designated fall guy amid unexpected public relations fallout. But the Vatican is stressing that no one within its Rome organization was involved in setting up the meeting in any way, and that it was orchestrated solely by Viganò, who was presumably carrying out his own agenda.

What may be most remarkable is that Pope Francis, who technically answers to no one in his religious role, is going to such great lengths to explain himself and try to atone for the meeting. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that he’s not a supporter of Kim Davis’ agenda in any way, shape or form. Read more here.