Monday, December 31, 2007

An Ode to Good Women

And so what about good women,
And why I'm attracted to them?
Is it because they still teach us
Much more, it would seem, that most men?

The ones I love and admire
Accept aging with comfort and grace.
They are much more attentive to Life
Than their hair tint or lines in their face.

But that doesn't say it just right;
They enjoy still being attractive.
It's just that in pulling it off
They're so real while still being active.

And so what can I say about how
I can reach out again, perhaps now?
Is it really that simple, with my smile and it's dimple,
Trust a good woman, and bow?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Phat: Look it up as I had to. Try Wikkipedia has a piece called "How Phat conquered Palestine". The title of the piece itself got to me enough that I had to check it out.

Seems there's a Palestinian Hip Hop group who likes to make rhymes about politics in the region.

What really got my attention though was something I read on line that they are similar to a group in Israel with which they have had "scant" contact. Why scant, why not contact?

Could it be that there are those for whom peace and getting along, is the last thing they want to promote, because they only make their fortunes in conditions of conflict?

I'm going to leave this here for now, but I have a lot more to say about this.


Stuff like this punches a button in me, causing an eruption of a kind of psychological/emotional acid reflux, a regurgitation of my cynicism.

Peace in the Middle East might be difficult, but it is surely obstructed by those who have a stake in continued conflict.

Richard Ben Cramer published a book a couple of years ago entitled "Why Israel Lost". He identified himself as a Jew who was critical of what Ariel Sharon was doing vis a vis Arafat.

"If you don't understand something follow the money." I put that statement in quotation marks because it is, to my way of thinking, a universal truth. And also because Iwrote about that on another of my blogs, Lighthouse Keeper.

Richard Ben Cramer made a strong case that Sharon and Arafat had a kind of Faustian compact which ensured that both of them had power and control over the huge amounts of money involved in the selling by Israel to the Palestinians of all kinds of goods and services. Their plans and their goals were not motivated by any semblance of an altruistic nature.

Ben Cramer wrote that Sharon and Arafat made huge amounts of money from the skimmings, commissions, paybacks and payoffs they got(choose your own label) from arranging, facilitating and the greasing of skids, which resulted in the availability of basics which the Palestinians needed, and which the Israelis could supply.

As I have written many times, If you don't understand something, follow the money.

The essence of Capitalism, as a belief system, is its dependence and reliance on the reality of supply and demand in the free market for goods and services. The key word of course is "free", including the implication that it is also "honest", as opposed to "corrupt".

Here's what I'm thinking, (and I'm going to try my best to limit my Voice Crying in the Wilderness to issues of my own time, the span of years I've been alive, and which experiences and reactions to them have informed my view of life. However, as you read what I am "Crying in the Wilderness" about, I suspect that you will, if you have any sense of history, realize and come to understand that what I am crying about is only the most recent history of the problematic impact of humans on earth.)

C. G. Jung, a Swiss physician and a colleague of Sigmund Freud in the early 20th Century, introduced the idea of personality and temperament as important to any understanding of behavior.

How's that for an introduction? If you opted out at this point, I'd understand.

Since the end of WWII, two plus generations, supposedly adult humans, have continued to talk about, and profess commitment to, making peace on earth, but continue to make war on earth. They claim that their supposedly sophisticated inteigence, military prowess and diplomacy are all designed to optimize "our" chance to Make Peace on Earth.

The key word here is "Our".

Those who make money by supplying the instruments of war, want us to believe that they are only making and supplying those intruments of war for our benefit, and in our interest. They are skilled, talented and adept at using surrepticious devices to convince us that we should believe and accept their version of reality, what they want us to believe and accept as essential to our well being, when in fact it's their own well being they care about and are assiduously working on.

As Tonto said to the Lone Ranger, when he didn't agree with the plan, "What's this Me kemosabe?" (My phonetic attempt at spelling what Tonto said.)

In the Middle East, it seems that we have the current generation(s) embracing an African/American cultural phenomenon as a way to connect to and get the attention of their own people. Why have the contacts between the Palestinian version and the Israeli version been scant? Apparently because our current so-called adult humans block it.

It's my nature to ask why, or more to the point, what for?

I continue ask my friends why our American administrations have, since the end of WWII, which saw the establishment of the State of Israel, continued to play games with, and in, the region.(The games are not confined to Palestine; one can see the evidence of them all over the Middle East, going back at least to the late forties. And even before that the British empire was the inventor of games and their own rules in the region.)

It's important to acknowledge and understand, contrary to our wishes for fairness, that the one who choses to play games( the outcome of which is supposedly subject to either chance or the reality that the better team wins) defines and makes up the rules of the game, and even during the game, for their own benefit and advantage. (At the risk of adding even more to what I hope my readers will tolerate, I have come across some writings of people who were in school at Yale with George W. Bush, who related their experiences of him as one who, when faced with the prospect of losing, tried to renotiate the rules of the game.)

Dwight David Eisenhower tried to warn us.

He was the guy who commanded and led the allies, with his essential vision and skills, in the campaign to defeat the Nazis. He relied on, and benefited from the incredible response to the challenge and the ability of the combined efforts, dedication and people powered efforts in and of our country to provide him with what it took to overwhelm the enemy, warned us about the power and danger of that same military/industrial machine. The key word is Establishment. He was grateful to the machine, but was wary of it as an Establishment

James Carroll of the Boston Globe published a column in that paper last Sunday in which he detailed the rise of the Department of Defense(have you ever found a more euphemistic label?), compared to the Department of State. One little part of that article grabbed me as a way to grasp the significance of the huge disparity between Defense and State. Secretary Gates, of the Defense Department said that the State Department budget was smaller than the health care budget of the Defense Department.

So, let's go back to the beginning question.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Who Do You Want to Speak for You?

In small towns we can speak for ourselves in town meetings. At the national level we have a representative system. We can only speak for ourselves in the voting booth, and hope that the others who vote speak as we speak. One of those for whom we vote will emerge as the chosen one of the majority of speakers, voters, to represent them and their views in the process of governing.

For right now, I ask that you try to ignore, put aside and suspend your examination of whatever topic, subject or issue you might be considering and concentrate on your evaluation of those who deign to speak for us.

Here's an example of an exercise which might be helpful.

Compare and contrast your reaction to, and evaluation of, George Mitchell's message to us, the American people, on the topic of MLB players' use of drugs, to any presentation by George W. Bush and/or presentations of the current candidates for president. State why, and on what basis, you admire and prefer one or more of their presentations to those of others.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Romney's Speech on Faith, At Once Brilliant and Deceitful

Romney hit a home run for a lot of folks when he made his speech on religion; those who are easily moved by his endorsement of God, motherhood, country and apple pie, and those
who believe that our president should continue to be a white male who projects a so-called presidential image.

His speech writer is brilliant, even if he wrote it himself.

Brilliant, in this case, applies to the ability of a writer to compose a speech which moves people who want to be moved, and to get the attention of those who listened from a skeptical point of view and who were impressed enough to listen for more.

I found myself in the latter group for the first part of the speech.

At some point I began to feel uneasy, as one who is beginning to wonder if he is being had, spun, blind sided.

"The Music Man" came to mind, with it's seventy-six trombones to arouse and excite positive feelings, in contrast to the "Right here in River City" warnings designed to induce fear in the townspeople.

The genius here is that, in the process of alternating the message back and forth between the positive and the negative, the hopeful and the fearful, those who are on the receiving end of such manipulations can erroneously come to think that the one who sends out these messages has their best interests at heart, and come to believe in that one as trustworthy and one they look to to lead them out of difficulty and trouble.

I began to see the unstated implications of what he was saying; how he established points of view to which almost no one would object, but followed up by ascribing and attributing the source of those virtues to God; an anthropomorphic God who is in touch with our problems and intervenes on behalf of His(note the patriarchal implications) believers, and also condemns non-believers to the eternal fires of Hell.

He did an admirable job in his efforts to do a couple of things. He made an appealing statement for the benefit of what he hopes will be his Christian, Evangelical, Right Wing, Republican base.

He made a clear distinction between those who believe in God and those who don't.

Those who need the simplicity of that view of life were applausedly happy with what he said and which they wanted to hear.

He even went so far as to say that those who don't believe in God are trying to establish another religion, a secular religion, and said, "They are wrong!" The applause meter pegged out on this one.

It matters not to him that those who think of themselves as agnostics, if not atheists, have no use for organized religion. It matters not to him that such people reject organized religion as not only troublesome to humanity, but as actual causes of war and all manner of horrors.

This is a man who wants to be president, and as he has demonstrated publicly for all to see, is willing to say anything to get his way. He has redefined flip flopping.

He is likely to get away with this pandering to the Evangelical base because most polls indicate that a large majority of Americans say they believe in God, whether or not they regularly attend places of worship. Those who respond to polls on this topic by saying they are not religious comprise a very small minority in our population, a group of voters candidates can safely ignore, or at least not need to pander to.

But in our society it's not at all cool to say that one doesn't believe in God, and it remains to be seen what comes out of the voting booths next year.

I lived in Atlanta, GA when Lester Maddox, the axe wielding racist, ran for governor and won. Funny thing was that almost no one admitted to voting for him.

It was no accident that Romney chose to make that speech at the George H.W.Bush Library at Texas A&M University. He was photographed with Bush, Senior's arm on his shoulder, with a broad grin, and Barbara Bush looking up at Romney with approving admiration. (She, the out of touch woman of privilege, who said of those who were devastated by Katrina, the huddled masses yearning to breath free in the Superdome, that "It's working for them", since what they were enduring was no worse than the quality of their lives before the storm.

One would have to be completely clueless to not understand that this was the Bush dynasty anointing Romney with its imprimatur. I suppose some might not have gotten it unless Romney made that speech from the Rose Garden.

I have a friend who is as cynical as I about this topic. He has been predicting that Dick Cheney will step down as Vice President sometime in the coming months, for health reasons, if he doesn't do the right thing by checking out before then. President George W. Bush will then appoint Mitt Romney as Vice President, thereby giving him the upper hand in the 2008 election, the Vice who should be elected president, to continue the policies, positions, and "values", if you can stand the smell, of those who worship and practice social Darwinism, the economic version of the survival of the fittest.

That's their true religion; everything else is smoke, mirrors and light shows.

As the haberdasher said to the tailor, "Get out the blue light, the man wants a blue suit".

In my naivete I continue to hope that someone, without regard to political party, will emerge who can and will grab us with her or his authenticity, who believes in and values the idea that most folks want to do their best, hope to do what they can to be independent and able to support themselves, but who understands that there will always be a need for a safety net, when the boot straps we wanted to believe in and tried to count on, break.

Lighthouse Keeper

Thursday, December 6, 2007

No Religious Test for President

Romney stated the obvious today apparently, that there is no religious test for being president. I doubt any would disagree with that, but that doesn't stop voters from evaluating candidates based on personal and subjective preferences.

I have not read the Book of Mormon, but some have written lately, without being shot down, that a Mormon belief is that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri. Of course it's not. Everyone knows it's in Mid-Coast, Maine.

Perhaps Romney doesn't buy everything written in the Book of Mormon. In fact an awful lot of folks see that the truth in the Book of Genesis, is not in its purported statements of historical fact, but in its morality plays, revealing the flaws of both men and women.

But a psychiatrist named Amen(I kid you not) apparently thinks that candidates should have brain scans as a test for office. Now I can get behind that idea, however creepy it sounds. And also how about an IQ test?

I don't care what religion a candidate believes in, but I do care if they have some smarts.

Here's a question they might be asked: Where was the Garden of Eden? It's not a religious question, it's an IQ question. If one or more answered "Missouri", personally, I'd like to have that information before I voted, wouldn't you?

Collins and Cohen

Gail Collins on the born yesterday candidates, and Roger Cohen on Venezuela and the Americas are excellent pieces worthy of reading and thought.

I commend them to you.

Look for them in the NY Times op-ed page for Thursday, Dec 6. Easily found online.