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?

Neither.

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

Irony Deficiency Anemia

Our government has become oblivious to the ignominious irony of its policies and actions. Therefore, it blunders on, never questioning why often much of what it does produces the very opposite of either its stated or actual intentions.

Without intended irony, it arms the rest of the world to make it safer. Anyone with a checkbook can obtain weaponry from America. The U.S. is by a huge margin the biggest supplier of military hardware to the international community. We are then shocked when these same weapons end up pointing at us, now in the hands of bin Laden, al Qaeda and other militant extremists.

Without intended irony, it incentivizes corporations to export America’s jobs, reasoning that the healthier these corporations are, the sounder will be the economy of the country, evidence of spreading poverty and grotesque income inequality be damned. TPP and TTIP are the latest virulent initiatives toward transferring national sovereignty to multinational corporations, strengthening America by draining it of its self-determination and economic vitality. These so-called trade agreements are NAFTA on steroids. We just hope there’s an open seat at future Third World economic conferences and those countries don’t despise us for plundering their natural resources all these years.

Without intended irony, the President declares himself the “environmental president” while promoting the greatest surge in domestic oil and gas production in our history, including the use of fracking and opening up vast stretches of pristine land and fragile offshore sites to ruinous exploration and drilling. The U.S. still refuses to sign the Kyoto Treaty, only marginally participates in world conferences on the environment, and most certainly fails to provide much-needed leadership on issues like climate change and the rapid and dramatic decline in the health of the oceans. The only environment we have protected is a business environment which worships plunder for profit.

Without intended irony, America holds itself up as the beacon of democracy in the world while supporting ruthless despots and grotesque tyranny throughout the world, likewise tolerating the corruption of the electoral system in America itself. Welcome to a world where money buys politicians and the voice of the common citizen is silenced both by oligarchical monopoly of the national conversation and voter disenfranchisement.

Without intended irony, the U.S. promotes democracy in the Ukraine by encouraging the overthrow of an elected government and replacing it in a coup with neo-nazi thugs and plutocrats, who then rig the next election which they of course claim validates their rule, then training and supplying the neo-Nazi National Guard with weapons. As we should suspect, this is part of a bigger plan which has nothing to do with spreading democracy, and in fact reignites old antagonisms with Russia and puts us all at risk for World War III. Nice work, eh?

Without intended irony, the U.S. affirms its commitment to ridding the world of nuclear weapons by spending more now on upgrading our existing stockpiles and R&D on new more destructive nuclear devices, than we did at the height of the Cold War.  With over 4,800 nuclear warheads in its current arsenal __ enough to destroy life on Earth many times over __ we negotiate agreements with our allies to expedite the efficient use and deployment of our bulging arsenals of collective mass suicide.

Without intended irony Obama promised to foster transparency in his administration, yet has increased secrecy, prosecuted whistle blowers at a record rate, has fanatically clamped down on leaks, drastically curtailed freedom of the press by attempting to force journalists to reveal their sources, classified more government documents and communications than any president in our history, has overseen massive and intrusive surveillance by the NSA and other national security agencies of innocent Americans, foreign nationals and even heads of state of America’s allies, and continues to expand the capacity of government agencies to unconstitutionally monitor and record every interaction by U.S. citizens.

Without intended irony, it honors its “responsibility to protect” by attacking other nations, killing a lot of innocent people, creating fear and animosity in the rest of the world, and as a result it fails its responsibility to protect the people it is most responsible for, American citizens. With our cavalier use of military force, we are more feared, resented, despised than ever. Serious blowback is inevitable. How ironic, eh?

Without intended irony, we scold other countries, like Russia and China, for being bullies, while we ignore resolutions and concerted efforts of the United Nations, refuse to join the ICC or acknowledge its legal authority over us, reserve the right to use our military at any time and place of our choosing, skirt the Geneva conventions by using torture, harass and bomb countries we are not at war with using drones and special ops troops, and talk about needed cooperation among members of the international community while economically strangling with sanctions any country which does not bend to our unilateral dictates.

Yes, we fail to see the irony in all of this. We choose to turn a blind eye to the deceptions and self-sabotaging contradictions. This has indeed made our country sick, an anemic and feckless nation of sheeple, vis-a-vis the noble ideals we once held and now unconvincingly espouse. We struggle with buckling knees in an increasingly futile attempt to prop up the political house of cards we’ve built of self-deception and delusions.

No house of cards can rise forever. The longer we pile rationalizations and faulty logic on imperialistic hubris and sociopathic fantasies, the closer we come to its ultimate collapse.

It’s no longer a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’.

It will collapse.

Let’s hope it doesn’t take the foundations of our once great nation with it and we are still left with something upon which to rebuild.

Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Analysis, Political Rant, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

This Is War

1992 © Kenneth Jarecke (Contact Press Images)

Until recently, this photo was never seen in the U.S. It’s a soldier making a last desperate attempt at climbing out of a military vehicle after it had been hit by an incendiary bomb. This was during Desert Storm in 1991.

This is the side of war our leaders don’t want you to see. For us they want it to be all about waving flags, marching bands, grandiose speeches, stars-and-stripes lapel pins.

Remember Bush’s order that there be no reporting of coffins flown in from Afghanistan and Iraq containing the remains of our dead soldiers?

But this photo is what war is really all about. That scorched corpse could be your son or daughter, one of your grandchildren, an uncle, cousin, nephew or niece, that freckled neighborhood kid that used to ride by on a bike.

When our politicians speak about some new crisis that requires our military intervention, some challenge to our national interests or terrorist threat to the homeland, then with the appropriate somber expressions and deeply furrowed brows reel off patriotic slogans and chest thumping battle cries that beg for our bravado and self-sacrifice, they want you to imagine proud soldiers in clean pressed uniforms, glorious fireworks reflecting in the pool of the national mall, the flag majestically waving in the background atop the White House, they want you embracing that triumphant feeling of being a citizen of the greatest country in the world. They most certainly do not want you thinking about that photograph.

Sure, our leaders claim that they want to avoid at all costs sending our brave soldiers into harms way. They claim to value every young man and woman in uniform as they do their own children __ though for some reason their own kids never get sent into battle.

They claim the decision to wage war, even to commit our troops to “limited engagement”, is a very serious one, that putting “boots on the ground” is something we do only when every other conceivable option has been duly explored, considered, weighed, exhausted.

Warning! When you hear any of this talk about war as a last resort, be VERY AFRAID. Because it means the bombs are about to drop and the bullets are about to fly. Last resort is now pure cover, a charade, just one component of a PR game to tenderize public opinion, just more cynical role play to get people ready for the slaughter.

When our leaders say they hate war, be VERY ANGRY. Because their actions betray their love __ their worship! __ of military power.  Just look at their priorities.  Just look at the national budget. Just take out a world map and try to identify the 1000+ military bases the U.S. has in over 140 countries across the globe. If they really wanted peace, these would be Peace Corps camps, not military installations.

When they talk about “humanitarian war” and “R2P” __ responsibility to protect __ LAUGH, then CRY. Because any humanitarian concern is not about you. And when you’re getting your ass shot at, the only reason they want to protect you is so you can shoot back.

On the increasingly rare occasions, when our leaders do give their token nod to promoting peace in the world, be INDIGNANT __ be OUTRAGED __ at the blatant hypocrisy. Why, our Nobel Peace Prize winning president even used his award acceptance speech to make the case for “necessary wars”.

Let’s see . . . necessary wars. When I was in college, it was Vietnam. Commies would take over the world if we didn’t stop them. Then we had to stop Saddam Hussein from taking over Kuwait, even though 9 out of 10 American thought Kuwait was a tropical fruit. Then, of course, we had to bomb the shit out of Afghanistan to catch Osama bin Laden, though he strutted around the caves and continued to make threatening videos for the next eight years. Then, we really had to get Saddam Hussein, this time before he dropped an atomic bomb on Baltimore or Orlando, even if he didn’t have one and if he did had no way to lob it further than the Sea of Galilee. Then there was Libya because we had to get rid of that pesky Gadaffi. And Syria because . . . well, just because. And of course, we’ve been having  a regular hissy fit about Iran for decades now, so they’re high on the hit list. And now we have the Ukraine, for a lot of reasons, including Snowden, and Putin’s making Obama look like a warmonger, which frankly is not that hard, and the BRICS, and the abandonment of the dollar, and the deranged neocons running amok in the State Department, and the piles of military hardware which we’re bankrupting the country to buy __ after all, you can’t just leave that stuff laying around, because it’s dangerous, so it’s imperative we use it. Hell, let’s throw some ordnance at the Russkies, and the Chinese . . . and . . . and . . .

Whew! All these “necessary wars” are exhausting!

As anyone who reads my blogs knows, I have never recommended any organization and directed readers to support its activities. There are hundreds __ thousands __ of good, hard-working, well-meaning, probably extremely worthwhile groups out there trying to make a difference. My reluctance stems from observing that despite their best efforts, not a lot seems to be getting done.

But now, since time is running out and this might be our last best hope, I’m going to break tradition.

Please go to the website for World Beyond War. One of the founding members and its current director is a man I greatly respect and admire, David Swanson, who I’ve written about before. There is much more on the web site itself but here is a quick summary of their agenda:

  • Creating an easily recognizable and joinable mainstream international movement to end all war.
  • Education about war, peace, and nonviolent action — including all that is to be gained by ending war.
  • Improving access to accurate information about wars. Exposing falsehoods.
  • Improving access to information about successful steps away from war in other parts of the world.
  • Increased understanding of partial steps as movement in the direction of eliminating, not reforming, war.
  • Partial and full disarmament.
  • Conversion or transition to peaceful industries.
  • Closing, converting or donating foreign military bases.
  • Democratizing militaries while they exist and making them truly volunteer.
  • Banning foreign weapons sales and gifts.
  • Outlawing profiteering from war.
  • Banning the use of mercenaries and private contractors.
  • Abolishing the CIA and other secret agencies.
  • Promoting diplomacy and international law, and consistent enforcement of laws against war, including prosecution of violators.
  • Reforming or replacing the U.N. and the ICC.
  • Expansion of peace teams and human shields.
  • Promotion of nonmilitary foreign aid and crisis prevention.
  • Placing restrictions on military recruitment and providing potential soldiers with alternatives.
  • Thanking resisters for their service.
  • Encouraging cultural exchange.
  • Discouraging racism and nationalism.
  • Developing less destructive and exploitative lifestyles.
  • Expanding the use of public demonstrations and nonviolent civil resistance to enact all of these changes.

Is it naive to think that the human race can rise above its long history of savagery?

Noam Chomsky says we are a “strange species which attained the intelligence to discover the effective means to destroy itself, but __ so the evidence suggests __ not the moral and intellectual capacity to control its worst instincts.”

Let’s hope he’s wrong.

Posted in Deconstruction, Democracy, Political Rant, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments