Thursday, July 24, 2014

WHERE IS THE LEFTIST OUTRAGE?


ISIS Militants Order Iraqi Females to Undergo Genital Mutilation

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


http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/iraq-turmoil/isis-militants-order-iraqi-females-undergo-genital-mutilation-n163871

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BUT

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cold -- warm -- comfort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Mistakes of Ukraine

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

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

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

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

Rachel is a window into truth in politics!

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Out of the Ashes


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saving the Ship of State before it is too late


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

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

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

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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dahlia Lithwick the Great!

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

http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-is-the-supreme-court-out-of-order/

Climbing Everest

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

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




An Exceptional Decline for the Exceptional Country?



VETERANS AFFAIRS

The Empire as Basket Case

Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com

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

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

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

Power Centers But No Power to Act

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Exceptional Kind of Decline

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Price of Ignorance

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

Ignorance of History, and Its Price

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


GEORGE W BUSH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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