Bye-Bye Miss American Pie

I love pie charts!

They are so deliciously informative. A good pie chart makes statistics so digestible!

The short and sweet of it is this:

There are 400 incomprehensibly wealthy people in America who have more money and property than the 150,000,000 individuals in the bottom half of our population. The .000133% vs. 50%!

The now infamous 1% controls 43% of America’s vast riches. And their share is increasing daily.

By the way, I got the pie chart already baked and ready for consumption from an article that appears at the website for the Curry County Democrats based in Brookings, Oregon. You can read the whole article here, and I thank them for their tasty work.

Of course, unlike a lot of the social and political crimes against the average American by our corporate-government oligarchical junta, income inequality is no secret.

Elizabeth Warren has railed against it. Obama has thrown his expensive hat into the ring. Even the Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, has expressed alarm, a plea for sanity which was more twerking than real love.

From the people themselves, Occupy Wall Street created the most viral meme in modern history __ the 1% vs. the 99% __ but we saw how that ended up. The 1% brought some big guns to the skeet shoot and the clay pigeons turned to dust.

There is hope. But it’s down the road. The house of cards, aka the American economy, will collapse and the people at the top will have the furthest to fall.

In the meantime, we can expect more of the same. Which means more to them and less to the rest of us, the slobbering masses who amble idly like anesthetized sheep outside their gated communities and opulent private estates.

I will say this. The well-fed titans of economic tyranny at the top get paid well to stick it to the rest of us. As this graphic shows (sorry it’s not a pie chart but more of a stale cracker), the income ratios between CEOs and their worker-slaves in America is ridiculously out of sync and beyond excessive!

When looking at the obsessive hoarding and soul-numbing, society-gutting greed of our privileged patrons of profligacy, we have to ask ourselves: What is the point?

Yes . . . what is the point?

To paraphrase that classic song by Don McLean . . .

I remember when the music died
That was the day that I cried

R. I. P. . . . the American Dream.

Posted in Corporatism, Deconstruction, Democracy, Nihilism, Political Analysis, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Absentee Patriotism

It’s no secret that I am very critical of the policies of this administration, and the general direction America has been taking for the past three decades.

As a result, infrequently but uncomfortably too often, I get this remark from some rabid, myopic super-patriot who gets their understanding of our political system from the box that his hot glue gun came in . . .

“You don’t even live here. You have no right to criticize America.”

It’s one of those battle cries from desperately small minds which on the surface offers some common sense logic but with bare minimum scrutiny falls apart like stale Saltines.

Let’s imagine . . .

It’s 1938 and I am a Jew who has been living in Nazi Germany. I am getting increasingly uncomfortable with developments both locally in my village and nationally. So I leave and become an expatriate, a German citizen living in a foreign country.

While living outside the sphere of the Reich and its pervasive propaganda machine, I see that my discomfort was more than justified, that there are horrible things going on in my home country which threaten not only my fellow Jews, but threaten other individuals and the peace and stability of the whole European continent. I learn from other expatriates about the forced labor and concentration camps, and what appears to be a well-planned program being put in place for the extermination of millions of people. I learn of a massive build-up of military machinery which portends provocations of neighboring countries and promises massive military confrontation.

Are the people who question my now living overseas saying I would have had no right to warn people about the developments I had learned about? That I was disqualified by my foreign mailing address from speaking out against the policies of “my country”? That I would not have had the right to at least warn other Jews __ my fellow citizens __ and urge them to escape as soon as possible or face possible extermination?

I would argue that not only would I have the right to be critical of my country, I would have a moral obligation, a duty to do so, openly and aggressively.

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”  -  Edmund Burke

Am I making a comparison between today’s U.S. and Nazi Germany?

Yes and no. Of course, anytime anyone wants to provoke a hysterical public outcry on any matter these days, they just yell ‘Nazi’ or ‘Hitler’ or ‘holocaust’ and the knee jerk response is right there for the having. That’s not what I’m doing here. The U.S. is slowly descending into a form of autocracy, a totalitarianism quite unlike Nazi Germany in many respects. But I believe it is potentially as thoroughly and ultimately menacing.

We can fret and argue about whether that’s correct but that’s not the point I’m making.

The simple point here is that, regardless of where I live or choose to travel, I share with every other American citizen the duty to keep a watchful eye on what my government is doing in my name, and to speak out when and where I see objectionable plans, policies, declarations, or provocative acts towards other countries. It is especially incumbent on me __ it is my responsibility as a citizen __ to share from out here what is not available from within U.S. borders, because of what is clearly massive censorship of the news there by the government and main stream media, which have become Siamese Twins joined at the pocketbook.

It is particularly my duty to warn others in America who are not as I am in a position to live elsewhere, of developments which portend the worst and pose threats to them.

We all see the signs. Often we don’t know what to make of them. The incessant puerile prattle of politicians and pundits creates a constant stream of obfuscation and confusion.

But it is the duty of every single American citizen to try to make sense of our increasingly precarious situation, and to share their insights with their fellow citizens. It is our duty to call out the official lies, the gross imbalance of power, the horrific inequality of wealth, the ongoing and systematic efforts by our government to promote and prosecute in our names policies and initiatives, foreign and domestic, which if the public had full knowledge of, it would steadfastly reject.

It takes a lot of courage these days to speak out against the government, especially the current administration, which has done a phenomenal job of PR and spin, and certainly makes no secret of its intent to squash dissent in America.

Yet, despite massive surveillance of citizens by the security agencies, the watch lists, the no-fly lists, the kill lists, the persecution of whistle blowers, the beatings and arrests which the most peaceful demonstrators now endure at the hands of the police, the suspension of habeas corpus, gross abuses of the FISA Act and the National Defense Authorization Act, there are still many courageous individuals and organizations which continue the daunting but necessary battle to expose the deeply entrenched and dangerous corruption which now poisons our system of government.

I make no claims to be on the same level as these exemplary patriots, speaking truth to power under the threat of persecution, an unconstitutional repression of free speech and basic human rights, the whole of which is more and more is beginning to exhibit parallels with some of the more oppressive regimes in history.

Right or wrong, I’m just an ordinary citizen merely doing my duty.

Just like you.

I watch. I listen. I speak out. I vote.

I do what little I can.

I wish it were more.

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Starts With ‘C’ Rhymes With Dancer

I often get very frustrated with politics. So I  do understand why people prefer to look the other way, though indifference and ignorance lubricate the self-destructive mechanisms which I believe are taking us towards either World War III, economic collapse, social Armageddon . . . or all of the above.

At the same time, there is so much which is confusing, horrifying, nauseating, just plain stupid and wrong, it’s impossible to keep up with all of it. Most crises seem so far away,  not relevant to the day-to-day business of just trying to survive and keep our heads above water. ISIS, the Ukraine, China, Afghanistan, Palestine, all place a distant nineteenth to paying the mortgage, feeding ourselves, trying to put clothes on our backs that don’t disintegrate in the laundry, keeping the neighbor’s dog from pooping on the lawn.

Regardless of how consequential all of these international disturbances may ultimately be, the simple truth is they don’t hit home until they hit home. The primary reason Americans are now concerned about Ebola is their fear that it may spread in America, understandably so, though chances of infection are pretty remote. But until people started dying inside our own borders, it was just more bad news piled on bad news from “somewhere over there” where bad news seems to grow like mold on an old chunk of cheese in the back of the refrigerator.

Recognizing all of this, I am still very puzzled why people aren’t up in arms about things which are, without a shred of doubt, a clear and present danger to them, right now, right here in our own U S of A. I don’t mean unlikely, remote threats, like the prospect they will be hit by a drunk driver or be the victim of a swarm of killer bees. I refer to very real, very imminent hazards which have the potential to kill them, shortening their lives by many years! Who wants to die before they have to?

In my travels, people ask me why I left the U.S. in 2006. I have a straightforward reply . . .

The political climate and the food.

Both were toxic. Both were poisonous to my health and happiness.

Since I’ve already written over a hundred political rants, here let’s just talk about food.

The food in America is a death warrant.

Maybe not as poisonous as rat poison but ultimately just as lethal.

Some might think I’m being hyperbolic. I don’t think so. Americans are being slowly and methodically undermined by their diet. Meat is chock full of hormones, antibiotics, toxins, often tainted with fecal matter and  various parasites, both viral and bacterial pathogens. Vegetables are often laced with herbicides, insecticides, chemical residues, too often lacking any nutritional value, due to bad farming, and premature harvesting to accommodate supply chains that stretch over continents.

As if that weren’t bad enough, we fill our faces with so much fat and sugar, snacks, sweets, and fast food of every shape and color, it’s amazing the sidewalks aren’t littered with the carcasses of people who have just simply keeled over from the sheer glut.

Beyond all of that, which basically is either a matter of choice __ eating junk food __ or a lack of choice __ the prevalence of unhealthy and contaminated food staples at the market __ I want to focus on one specific issue which I see as emblematic.

How many people can say they haven’t had cancer directly impact either themselves or someone they personally know, perhaps even a close relative or friend?

If you said ‘no’ I would be shocked. According to the American Cancer Society: “In 2014, there will be an estimated 1,665,540 new cancer cases diagnosed and 585,720 cancer deaths in the US. Cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the US, accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths.”

There are certainly many causes for cancer. To whatever degree we can, we try to avoid exposure to carcinogens or anything which causes or encourages the growth of tumors.

But what do we do if we are not allowed to know about a potential source of cancer?

Monsanto has been very effective at suppressing any research findings about the health implications of both its highly lucrative herbicide Roundup and its expanding range of GMO products.

But reports are beginning to surface. This recent one on Roundup brings into focus how dangerous this extensively used, putatively harmless chemical killer is.

GMOs are the evil stepsister of Roundup. Most GMO crops are genetically altered to give them resistance to Roundup, so that the weedkiller can be sprayed on in copious amounts killing the weeds but leaving the edible plants intact and supposedly healthy.

Given the many reports __ here and here are merely a couple references __ coming out of research laboratories from around the world which are suggesting that these genetic modifications are extremely dangerous, posing all sorts of risks, first and foremost among them the promotion of grotesque and potentially cancerous tumor growths, people are requesting that at least the foods containing GMO products be labeled as such.

This is hardly an inconsequential concern. 88% of the corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. 93% of our soybeans are GMO. Because these and other food plants are the basis for the thousands of processed food products commonly included in the typical American diet, now “70 percent of processed foods in your local supermarket contain genetically modified ingredients.

Mind you, people are not demanding a total ban on GMOs __ though a case can be made for one, at least until it is determined with absolute certainty that these Frankenfoods are safe __ they just want it PUT ON THE LABEL, so they can make an informed decision.

Polls show that 93% of American voters want GMO labeling. 93%! This cuts across the entire political spectrum __ Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Party, liberals, conservatives, anarchists, Free-Tibet-Nuke-The-Gay-Whales Party of Patriotic Polemicists __ a historic and unprecedented consensus. And we can’t even get this done!

Our play-for-pay, follow-the-money, corporate lapdog politicians, from the President, all the way through the entire gutless reeking-with-corruption ranks of Congress, all beholden to the likes of Monsanto, refuse to stand up to the scumbags who put profit before people!

Uh-oh . . . I’m back to ranting about politics.

Sometimes it seems unavoidable, eh?

Anyway, let me wrap this up with a suggestion. While you’re munching away on that corn dog as you drive to your polling place on November 4th, you might want to ask yourself:

“Who should I vote for . . . and what the hell am I eating?!”

Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Food, Political Analysis, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will they put a meter on my peter?

Pepsico, Nestlé, Coca Cola, and several other major suppliers have frequently been caught bottling tap water and selling it back to the public under exotic and appealing monikers such as Ice Mountain Water, Aquafina, and Dasani.

Then there’s the former Nestlé CEO, Peter Brabeck making the surreal claim that water isn’t a human right but a foodstuff, claiming it’s just another item we must purchase from corporate profiteers, like padded bras and tennis rackets.

Why did this selfish, narrow-minded corporate manikin even get air time to spout this sort of self-serving nonsense? Why wasn’t he viciously mocked? Why wasn’t he discredited and shamed into hiding so we never have to look at his tanned, country club face as he explains how every aspect of human life must serve rampaging corporate greed?

The drive by corporations to own and monopolize everything is a classic case of . . .

To a hammer everything looks like a nail.

To a corporate CEO, everything is a commodity and an opportunity to make money.

So several giant multinational corporations have unilaterally decided that H2O, which happens to cover 75% of the Earth’s surface and comprises about 67% of the human body, is just another item in their catalog of products.

The heads of these monolithic corporate monsters, who are willing to cannibalize their own species just to make a buck, seem to have forgotten __ or probably never learned __ that in a self-determining system of government, if we decide that everyone has a right to water, then it’s everyone’s right!

Thus, many groups are actively fighting back.

The corporations, naturally, are putting a friendly face on their attempt at absolute control over the Earth’s most abundant single resource. They talk about spearheading and funding conservation efforts, trying to achieve minimum quality standards worldwide, and so on.

They promise profound improvements in the standard of living and the quality of life.

They always do, don’t they?

Corporations can spin it however they want, but having a corporation’s first priority __ the bottom line __ trump every facet, even the most fundamental aspects, of human habitation of the planet is an indisputable recipe for species extinction __ ours.

What can we expect if the corporate coup is tolerated __ even lionized as it is in today’s business press __ and we accept their dysmorphic portrayal of progress?

Will Monsanto file a patent claim on breast milk and every time a new mother wants to nurse her baby, she has to ante up?

Will Pantene trademark hair? So unless you are 100% bald every place on your body, you have to pay a licensing fee for your body hair?

Will GlaxoSmithKline convince the FDA that air should be a prescription item, so that if we don’t wish to suffocate, we’ll have to buy breathing tanks from our local pharmacy?

Will they put a meter on my peter, so that every time I take a wiz or make love to my wife, I have to pay a users fee?

Posted in Corporatism, Democracy, Food, Political Analysis, Political Rant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rod Serling Is Alive!

"Hi, kids! I'm your new English teacher. Let's talk about poetry."

Rod Serling is alive and well!

What’s my proof?

That’s easy!

It’s this article in Great Britain’s The Guardian reporting that:

“School police departments across the U.S. have taken advantage of free military surplus gear, stocking up on mine-resistant armoured vehicles, grenade launchers and scores of M16 rifles.  At least 26 school districts have participated in the Pentagon’s surplus program . . .”

If this isn’t the stuff of the Twilight Zone, I don’t know what is.

Maybe I missed something. But has common sense and asking obvious, quite reasonable questions been outlawed in America?

Take the grenade launchers. Do the geniuses who are arming our schools with weapons of war think that if some psycho is holed up in a classroom holding hostage a bunch of school kids, they’ll just lob some hand grenades in there to flush him out?

And how many kids fit in a MRAP? I know children are small but is it realistic to think you can put 250 elementary students in one of these?

Moreover, as everyone knows from way too many examples, usually the whole thing of killing a bunch of kids goes down in just a few minutes. How long will it take to get this monster truck fired up and out of the garage? Unless this thing is parked in the hall next to the school cafeteria, it’s not going to do the job these school administrators have in mind __ whatever that is.

Parallel to the point I made previously about militarizing our communities, if I were a psycho killer __ and really, I’m not, the many rude comments left on my Facebook page notwithstanding __ and I saw one of these vehicles coming at the school, my attitude would be: “Well, now I’m screwed. Guess I’ll have some fun while I can.”

Then I’d blow away every living thing in sight.

Of course, I don’t personally know Adam Lanza. Maybe if he had spotted a MRAP outside Sandy Hook Elementary School, he would have immediately hugged the kids he hadn’t killed yet, fallen to his knees and repented.

But I really doubt it.

And taking the long view, I just can’t believe that having kids go to schools filled with machine guns, grenade launchers, tasers, MRAPS, heavy artillery and the like, will give them a healthy, wholesome perspective on life. Their world will be so violent, so filled with relentless anxiety and apocalyptic paranoia, with every aspect of human interaction viewed through the lens of killing machines and conflict, their expectations so fatalistic and full of potential horror, their elders __ that’s you and I living in the regime of GWOT and SWAT and MAD and ISIS __ will by contrast look like carefree, frolicsome oompa loompas.

So, welcome to contemporary America, land of the free, the greatest, truly exceptional nation in history, where being totally insane can land you a high paying job running a public school.

Alright . . . I got a little off topic.

Seriously, I merely wanted to wish the best of luck to Mr. Serling on his new high concept reality TV show: Please Don’t Shoot Me, I Only Work Here”.

Keep up the great work, Rod!

Love ya, babe.

Posted in Deconstruction, Nihilism, Political Rant, Social Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Conscious . . . Conscience . . .

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, being ‘conscious’ means being “awake and able to understand what is happening around you.”

And ‘conscience’ is defined as “the part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions as being either morally right or wrong.”

People who have no conscience because they are unconscious due to no fault of their own can hardly be criticized for their lack of morality __ e.g. the brain dead, coma victims.

People who are fully conscious but have no conscience are often referred to as sociopaths.

People who are fully conscious but consciously or unconsciously destroy their conscience might be categorized as full-blown psychopaths.

My quandary is how do we deal with people who are fully conscious, basically stable and mentally sound, have a conscience, but who ignore what that conscience is saying to them.

# Vietnamese killed in unnecessary and unsuccessful Vietnam War:  882,000

# America soldiers killed in unnecessary and unsuccessful Vietnam War:  58,220

# innocent citizens killed by death squads of U.S. backed El Salvador government: 35,000.

# innocent citizens killed by death squads of U.S. backed Guatemala government:  60,000.

# innocent citizens slaughtered by U.S. backed Indonesian autocrat Suharto:  1,000,000+.

# dissidents killed by Chilean dictator Pinochet installed by U.S. backed coup:  Over 3000.

# Iraqi children starved to death by U.S. sanctions 1993-2000:  500,000.

# Iraqi citizens killed in illegal and unjustified Iraq War:  Over 460,000.

# Afghanistan citizens killed by our unnecessary war there:  At least 18,000.

# innocent citizens killed in illegal drone warfare (Pakistan, Yemen):  400-600

# innocent people killed (so far) in Eastern Ukraine by U.S. installed coup government, one which includes neo-Nazis:  Over 3500.

# innocent people about to be killed in Iraq War 3:  To be announced.

“No man is an island . . . ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Riiiiight!  No man is an island.  Great stuff.  Ha ha.  Totally!  I hear ya, babe!  Boo hoo hoo. Anyone with a violin up for playing “Hearts and Flowers“?

“Exactly what’s your point, John Rachel? . . .

. . . are you in the running for this year’s Bleeding Heart Liberal Award? Mother Theresa and all that cow poop. Maybe you and Bono can do tequila shots in the back of his limo.”

Hmm. What’s this about?

Oh, now I remember!

I’m not in a coma.

Posted in Deconstruction, Philosophy, Political Rant, Social Commentary, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Bully Pulpit vs. American Idol

I have long criticized Obama for not using the bully pulpit. When he had the vast majority of the country at his feet after his election in 2008, instead of laying out a positive vision for the country and leading the charge for rebuilding the nation, he embarked on a charm offensive directed at Wall Street, big banks, neoconservative empire builders, and became the Appeaser-In-Chief towards those responsible for the Afghanistan and Iraq disasters, a wink-and-nod apologist for the criminal bankers who crashed the economy in 2008, and a card-carrying member of the inside circle who continue to inflict our country with the fraudulent War on Terror.

It was all in the name of love __ the cuddly love Obama craved from the oligarchs, whose approval was more important to him than the enormous groundswell of support he had from the people. Remember them? The ones who have to work to make ends meet, the ones who see their kids off to school in the morning __ the same ones who flocked to the polls and elected our first black president, duped into thinking he was one of them, a man of the people with their best interests at heart.

In a fascinating analysis of Obama’s presidency that appeared in Truthdig, author David Bromwich discusses what a shallow and self-serving enterprise it has proved to be.

What an understatement.

There is no coherency to this president’s policies. In a clear attempt to promote image as a substitute for substance and apparently with an insatiable desire to be loved by everyone, President Obama often fashions positions totally at odds with one another.

Protect the environment vs. drill baby drill.

World peace vs. bomb bomb bomb.

Individual freedom vs. the NDAA.

Jobs for Americans vs. TPP and TTIP.

To add insult to confusion, in critical areas of leadership, we see policies diametrically opposite to the high sounding and noble words of Obama’s breathtaking rhetoric and crafted public image, offering inconsistencies, even outright hypocrisy and treachery.

You’ve got a Nobel Peace Prize winner who has become a drone assassin.

You’ve got an putative constitutional scholar who using his phenomenal intellectual gifts to trample on the Constitution, squashing dissent, and openly harassing journalists and undermining freedom of the press.

You’ve got a president who spoke eloquently during his first campaign about inclusive democracy and transparency in government __ promising to change the way Washington DC does business __ who has built upon the worst aspects of Bush’s nascent police state and now oversees a vast growing domestic surveillance complex spying on its own citizens. Mr. Openness is classifying record volumes of government documents, restricting citizen access to the workings of our government, conducting questionable military adventures often in secret, fostering aggression against the express will of the American citizenry who have made it very clear they are sick of war and the self-defeating politics of confrontation. Then to top it off he is prosecuting well-meaning whistleblowers at an unprecedented rate.

You got the self-declared “environmental president” who refuses to even attend the Kyoto summits, who is promoting risky East Coast and Arctic drilling, nuclear power, fracking for natural gas, so called “clean coal”, and now boasts about America being the number one oil and gas producer in the world __ so much for concern about climate change.

You’ve got a man who offered the world the outstretched hand of peace in the first months of his presidency, who has since bombed his way into creating more enemies and hatred for America than ever before in our history.

But we get what we pay for. Obama is just another brand, like Cheerios and StarKist Tuna.

We wanted a great president. We got a rock star.

We desperately needed leadership. We got self-aggrandizement.

I will say this. Obama talks a good game. He is incredibly articulate. Charming. Funny. Always gives an Oscar level performance at all of his public outings.

And he is beautiful . . . his wife is beautiful . . . his family is beautiful!

But when presidential elections are run as beauty pageants, talent contest spectacles, when making history is just more reality TV, we can’t expect real leadership. We can only expect a president who struts and works the audience, plays the judges, postures and poses for his fan base, puts on dazzling, crowd-pleasing shows, and soaks up the all the love he can get. We certainly can’t expect thoughtful, principled stands on the vital issues, responding to the greater needs of the country and serving the general welfare of the public.

There’s no business like show business.

And politics has become American Idol.

We no longer look for results. We look for good ratings.

What an epic disappointment. We certainly had high hopes, didn’t we?

There is one thing I will concede. Who can deny it? . . .

He sure looks great in a suit and tie!

Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Analysis, Political Rant, Social Commentary, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Proof! Putin Fighting in the Ukraine!

Obama and NATO have been claiming all along that Russia is behind the ongoing military conflict in the Ukraine. The above satellite images released just last week prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Russian troops and equipment are in the country battling the Ukrainian army.

But to say Russia is just a player in this mess is a vast understatement.

The fact is PUTIN IS ACTUALLY IN THE UKRAINE with the Russian troops!!

The undeniable truth was provided to me personally in an email from an anonymous State Department official. All of you commie-sympathizing, America-hating naysayers, cowardly skeptics, and Vlad-The-Impaler-Putin butt-buddy wannabees, just look at these photos and hang your sorry heads in shame.

The high-resolution imagery from American recon satellites is incredible . . .

On the front lines killing innocent Ukrainian soldiers! . . .

Putin actually put these on his Facebook page. How stupid can you get? . . .

Little known fact until now: Putin was even at the Maidan uprising in Kiev! . . .

I hope this will silence the mealy-mouth critics of the administration and we will no longer have to endure articles like this undermining the noble intentions of America and leveling attacks on our courageous, Nobel Peace Prize winning Commander in Chief.

Posted in Deconstruction, Nihilism, Satire, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

Russia Bad! America Good!

Did you know that Joseph Stalin proposed in 1952 that Germany be reunited as a single neutral country with free elections? The main condition was that Germany not be part of a NATO alliance, which it viewed as a military threat. Russia was under enormous pressure economically after being ravaged by World War II and wanted to reduce the growing tensions between the East and the West.

Of course, by ridiculing and ignoring this proposal it would take another forty years of Cold War hostility and posturing to reunite Germany, then as an loyal ally and military stronghold of the U.S. __ though interestingly Germany now is Russia’s most important European trading partner.

Did you know that prior to the 1963 Cuban missile crisis, Nikita Khrushchev for almost a decade proposed substantial reductions in offensive weapons? That while America was implementing the largest peace time military build-up in history, Russia was actually reducing its military capability?

Khrushchev finally became convinced, especially after the U.S. placed in nearby Turkey nuclear-tipped Jupiter missiles which could easily reach Russia, that America was bent on attacking the Soviet Union. That was the underlying reason for deploying nuclear missiles in Cuba, precipitating one of the most dangerous crises in history. Perhaps not the wisest thing to do, given the level of tensions the U.S. maintained with its constant “better dead than Red” fear mongering, nevertheless the missiles in Cuba were basically the Soviet’s attempt to achieve some sort of parity, at least a minimal acceptable level of mutually assured destruction with America.

Did you know that in 1983 the U.S. risked starting World War III with provocative and unnecessary probing of Soviet air defenses? This was purely a strategic and psychological maneuver intended to bolster support Reagan was soliciting from Congress and U.S. allies for his Star Wars missile defense system. Because at this same time the U.S. was deploying nuclear-tipped Pershing II missiles in Europe which only had a 5-minute flight time to key targets in Russia, Soviet leadership understandably viewed Star Wars not as a defensive system but as the means for establishing a first-strike capability. And it suspected the probing of its air space and testing of its defense systems was a prelude to an attack. Speculation about a first-strike nuclear attack on Russia continues to this day.

Did you know that both Reagan and Gorbachev in the end were quite sincere about totally eliminating nuclear weapons by the end of the 20th Century, that their verbal agreement during a summit in Reykjavik, Iceland to work toward eliminating the nuclear arsenals of both Russia and the U.S. was quite authentic? This was not posturing. Moreover, did you know that the whole idea for eliminating the entire nuclear arsenals of both countries was initiated by Soviet Premier Gorbachev in a letter to President Reagan January 14, 1986?   It was a his idea.

Did you know that Russia only has ten foreign military bases? This is in contrast to what many estimate to be over 1000 in at minimum 156 countries by the U.S.  A cursory glance at a world map shows that a substantial number of these bases form a ring around Russia. Even the most impartial observer would not view this as a coincidence and would at least appreciate why Putin and company see much of what America does as provocative, if not blatantly confrontational __ why some analysts on both sides conjecture that America is preparing to launch a “preemptive” nuclear attack on Russia, begging the question what such an attack would preempt other than the continuation of the human species.

Did you know that contrary to headlines which screamed foul in the American media, Russia never invaded Crimea? The simple fact is that there were 16,000 troops already stationed there, as per a standing treaty with the Ukrainian government. When the elected President of the Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych __ certainly corrupt and questionable in his own right __ was run out of the country by street thugs, understandably these troops were instructed to protect key physical assets in the region, as well as make sure that the many native Russians who were living there remained safe. There was no firefight, no resistance. After over 4/5ths of eligible voters demanded in a internationally-monitored referendum to rejoin Russia, the region which had been part of Russia going back to 1786, returned to Russian authority __ hardly an invasion by any stretch of the imagination. No troops stormed over the border. No shots were fired.

Did you know that far from being the instigator of the current crisis in the Ukraine, Putin has consistently played peacemaker and attempted to defuse the situation, even as native Russians came under threat from the new government in Kiev, and now are mercilessly being slaughtered in order to ethnically cleanse the Ukraine of all Russian influence? Neo-Nazis now comprise the shock troops rampaging through the eastern regions and assaulting Donetsk and Luhansk, the two strongholds of pro-Russian separatists.

Moreover, contrary to the narrative being pushed by the White House __ obviously the work of neocon lunatics still infesting the government in the State Department and think tanks within the beltway __ the evidence is quite clear that the entire coup was engineered and directed by the U.S., using agent provocateur NGOs, funded by National Endowment for Democracy. Senator John McCain and Asst. U.S. Secretary of State Victoria Nuland were even on the front lines during the demonstrations. This is, of course, not what you’re being told by the American press, which with the White House itself leading the charge continues to pin all of the blame on Russia and Putin.

Now am I making a one-sided case here? Of course not. There have for over six decades, extending right up till the present, gross deceptions and blunders on both sides. I bring   up the above examples because the collective memory of the American public seems to be very short. Or more likely, many well-meaning Americans may not even be familiar with these particular facts in the first place. Anything good about the Soviets __ and now the Russians __ tends to be overwhelmed and replaced by the firmly entrenched and much easier to embrace “black hat” characterization we now hear regurgitated over and over.

What I am saying is there has already been so much misunderstanding, miscalculation, and missed opportunities, that to compound our bleak and tendentious relationship with Russia with more misunderstanding, miscalculation, and missed opportunities, is courting disaster. It’s that simple. What’s been going on is not working. Time for a new approach.

And I am also saying that America lately bears more than its share of responsibility for the distortions, the slander, the disinformation, which has aggravated hostility toward Russia both by leaders in their official capacities, and now by American citizens, who never seem to run out of foreign peoples to fear, mistrust, even hate.

Let me throw something else into the mix here. This is probably the most important factor whenever we look at Russia and try to gauge her motives and intents.

The Soviet Union lost more than 21,000,000 people in World War II. Most were killed in the Russian homeland itself as a result of the overwhelming German Nazi blitz. Over a half million died in the Battle of Stalingrad alone.

That is why they are fearful of having troops and/or ballistic missiles on their borders __ as in the Ukraine or Georgia. They have been gritting their teeth as NATO has edged its way closer and closer to Russia __ contrary, by the way, to reassurances given right after the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany. America lost 420,000 soldiers during all of World War II, fighting on two fronts, in Europe and the Far East. If we had seen 22,000,000 Americans killed, the blood of the majority spilled right here on our own soil, how would we feel about having troops, nuclear-tipped tactical missiles, and ballistic missile defense radars and interceptors arrayed along the Canadian or Mexican borders? How would we read the intention of any nation insisting on putting these on our borders?

As they say, this is not rocket science.

What might require the intellectual aptitude of a rocket scientist is trying to understand what America’s strategic planners have in mind in promoting this agenda. It undermines any possibility of peace between the two great powers and risks thermonuclear war.

Am I a Russia lover?

An America hater?


I just think before we kill a few more million people or destroy the world, we might want to look at both sides of each issue, maybe mentally trade places, try to be fair and reasonable, give our all to try to understand exactly what is going on.

And a big part of understanding issues is knowing history, taking into consideration what has been occurring for decades, sometimes even centuries. To paraphrase Santayana: “Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes.”

It would be one thing if the feud between Obama and Putin were just some school yard scrap between two pubescent boys over the hottest girl on the cheer leading team  __ it certainly at times resembles that. But these are the heads of state for two major countries armed to the teeth with nuclear missiles, weighed with almost seven decades of bad blood between them, much of the bad blood alarmingly the product of gross misunderstanding. The price of more of the same aggravation and contentiousness is at best wasting valuable resources and energy which could be devoted to mounting crises __ climate change, the rapid destruction of the oceans, spread of antibiotic-resistant disease, depletion of water resources throughout the world, increasing risk of widespread famine, the urgent need to secure vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons from access by terrorists __ at worst an epic nuclear holocaust which puts the human race in a giant coffin.

Isn’t it time to put away the gang colors?

The black hats and the white hats?

Russia Bad! America Good!

Nothing is that simple.

Unless you’re simpleminded.

Posted in Deconstruction, Political Analysis, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Negotiating With A Rapist

I get this all of the time . . .

“You’re too extreme. Too inflexible. Democracy is about compromise. It’s about give and take.”

Well, I hate to break it to these weak, waffling ambassadors of abdication: Wake up! There are things which are not up for negotiation. Things which are so valued, compromise is never an option, values we don’t devalue and mark down at a discount.

An armed thug breaks into your house. He ties you up and has your wife and 13-year old daughter at gunpoint. The thug intends to rape them. You get to watch.

So . . .

You say to him:  “Listen, I’m opposed to your plans but let’s try to work something out. How about . . . “

You talk it over and come to an agreement on some acceptable amount of rape.

Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is.

What’s my point?

My point is that there are some things about which we don’t negotiate. There are some situations that are too abusive to the human spirit, too sick to contemplate, simply too offensive and just plain wrong, such that compromises __ any adjustments of degree or intensity __ are not and should never be on the table. There are policies, value systems, beliefs, individual acts, priorities, tactics, strategies, world views, which are so insidious, trying to find some ‘middle ground’ is not even a possibility. What exactly is an acceptable level of child molesting? Or slavery? How much torture is just about right? Or to bring up a current horrifying example, how much beheading nails the sweet-spot happy-medium for public beheading?

You get the idea.

Yet a lot of heinous acts, criminality, even outright sociopathic and psychopathic behavior, gets a pass these days, if not the implied imprimatur of our allegedly ineluctable, shared complicity. It’s a pandemic of wink-and-a-nod fatalism, succumbing to being “practical”, surrendering to the “realities” of our complex times, or conceding the inevitabilities of human nature and the practical limits of politics and social organization.

Talk about a cop-out!

Talk about intellectual laziness!

Talk about moral failure on a national scale!

Talk about failing our society, ourselves and our children!

Who decided that the best possible education for our children was no longer available?

Who decided that the best health care for American citizens was a privilege for the few, rather than a universal right __ as in the constitutional mandate to “promote the general welfare”?

Who decided that healthy drinkable water was not a basic human need, that we’d have to pay for such a “luxury”?

How did America become a nation which imprisons .5% of its population __ the highest incarceration rate in the world __ mostly the poor and people of color?

When did it become acceptable for the wealthy to be above the law and beyond being prosecuted for their crimes?

How did we become a nation which violates the Geneva Conventions, which tortures?

When did America become nation which starves hundreds of thousands of innocent children to make some incomprehensible political point?

When did it become okay for America to be run entirely by corporate oligarchs and ultra-wealthy profiteers?

When did America, allegedly a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people, decide its people should be kept in the dark about what its government is doing?

How did we become a nation which promotes chaos and fear across the globe?

How did we go from democracy to plutocracy in just a few short decades?

When did we as the citizens of the richest country in the world become unwilling to draw a non-negotiable line in the sand on these and other critical issues?

When did we decide that fighting for a decent life for ourselves and future generations was impractical or too much trouble?

The quick answer is that we made little compromises along the way __ bent a bit here, maybe a bit more there, made some “necessary adjustments”, showed flexibility, and all too often caved in outright when we knew damn well we shouldn’t.

The point is we shouldn’t have compromised at all.

Some things should not have been and still are not negotiable.

We need to learn from this pathetic record of equivocation and glib surrender . . .

Enough is enough!

We can’t redo the past.

But we can redo our country for the future.

No more than you negotiate with a rapist, you don’t negotiate and compromise with those who have proven to be deceptive, self-serving, sometimes malevolent fools who serve the selfish greed of the 1% at the expense of the vast majority of American people.

Most of us know what’s right and what needs to be done.

We need to stand our ground.

No apologies.

No excuses.

No fear.

Posted in Democracy, Political Analysis, Social Commentary, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment