Saturday, May 17, 2008

* Germany’s shame remembered ~ vigilance is not optional – May 10th marked the 75th anniversary when, a little more than 3 months after Hitler was appointed chancellor, students around Germany burned thousands of books deemed to be “un-German.” Marking this anniversary were remarks last week by Germany’s President Horst Koehler. “The destruction faced little resistance at the time and left room for no illusions about the way Nazi-run Germany was headed, coming after a boycott of Jewish businesses weeks earlier… It was only a small step from the ostracism of Jews to the burning of their books, and again a small step from the burning of books to the burning of human beings." Wishful thinking contributes to the hope that another Holocaust not be repeated. That is not the world’s reality. Holocausts have since occurred in places such as China, North Korea and Rwanda. More recently we have seen it in Darfur and this week it is evident in Myanmar as the ruling Generals of that country block and hoard emergency aid to millions of its citizens left sick, homeless, starving and diseased from the recent cyclone that devastated the country.

Man’s inhumanity to fellow man at times seems limitless. Man’s desire for power is always a threat to freedoms. It is imperative for a democracy that those who achieve power not be allowed to abuse it. Checks and balances on the three branches of the U.S. government was part of the genius of the writers of the U.S. Constitution. The Bush administration found loopholes in our system resulting in the centralizing of power, avoidance of oversight, broad expansion of domestic spying powers and the empowering of religious right orthodoxy in the political sphere. America is not on the verge of a holocaust but the seeds that have been planted are not organic to a free society. We all share responsibility to elect leaders that will take seriously the oath to protect the Constitution. The alternative is a continuation of this dismal era in American history.

* Candidate for Vice President? - Media coverage of John McCain appearances suggests that Joe Lieberman accompanies him almost as often as McCain’s wife Cindy. The former Democrat and current Independent has a Bush Republican mentality and voting record. Lieberman’s ties to special interests, his neocon position on the Iraq war and his being on the losing ticket as a Vice-Presidential candidate in 2000 make him the perfect selection as McCain’s running mate this year (sorry Condi). One senses that Joe Lieberman would dance the Hora for another chance at the Super Bowl of politics. McBush almost rolls off the tongue but, McLieberman? Oy vey!
~ Speaking of Cindy – Mrs. McCain was very busy this week selling over $2 million in business investments in Sudan because her holdings had become public. Yes, that Sudan - the one committing genocide in Darfur. It is believed that she disembarked the Straight Talk Express to give her broker a sell order.

* Ludicrous Lieberman – Joe Lieberman appeared on CNN, functioning as McCain’s attack dog. Lieberman implied that because a Hamas spokesperson would welcome the election of Senator Obama proves that McCain would be the better choice to protect America. When Wolf Blitzer pointed out that Obama also labels Hamas a terrorist organization, making his position the same as McCain's, Lieberman said, "that's true," adding that Obama "clearly doesn't support any of the values and goals of Hamas." And Lieberman clearly doesn’t support an honest discussion of the real issues. His attempt to disparage Obama by associating him with Hamas is typical of the hateful and divisive politics Republicans and closet Republicans have used to stain the political landscape in recent years. One reason why I want to see the Democrats increase their majority in the Senate is so that Lieberman is further marginalized, is removed from committee chairs and slithers away to oblivion with his fellow Republicans as America recovers from their devastating tenure.

* Supporting Breast Cancer Research – This past Sunday 45,000 people took part in the Philadelphia walk raising funds for the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The event included more than 6000 breast cancer survivors! Similar walks are taking place across America to fight a disease that affects one in eight women. Donations to the Komen Foundation can be made at this link. Another way to help women fight breast cancer is visiting The Breast Cancer Site. Just one click a day and there is no cost to you. Each day that you visit the site a contribution is made by advertisers to fund breast exams for disadvantaged women. It will make you feel in the pink.

* Media redefined – At one time if one were interested in in-depth news analysis major newspapers, news magazines and occasionally television were reliable sources. The corporate takeover/consolidation of media has led to agenda based news analysis and a reduction in quality reporting. Fortunately, the internet provides viable options. An excellent example of this is the quality work by various writers this past Sunday at The following were well-researched subjects worthy of attention: smintheus discusses George Bush’s recent secrecy directive ostensibly intended to protect sensitive information but in fact reducing government transparency; DemFromCT contrasts John McCain and Barack Obama on issues and their run to the white House; DemFromCT also does a study on the under-capacity of many of our hospitals to deal with current volume and the choices that will have to be made in the face of another Katrina or pandemic disease reaching our shores. The choices will include triage decisions to abandon the very elderly or the very critical; BarbinMD discusses the nuclear posture of the United States, paying particular attention to Hillary Clinton's recent remark about obliterating Iran and her repeated comparisons of today's foreign policy climate with the Cold War; DHinMI discusses how US miscalculations may be a factor in the possible eruption of a full-fledged civil war in Lebanon. Meaningful news analysis is still available but it requires more than a remote control.

* Media blackout – Bill Moyers is one of the best journalists in America today. Keith Olbermann interviewed him about corporate media, their biases and their ignoring critical issues and their influence in the general election. Moyers said, “I think it means for all of them (corporate media) that they won’t really get to the deep, profound structural problems that we face as a country. We’re not going to have a discourse in this campaign over the fact that the great American wealth machine is benefiting only those at the top. We’re not going to get to the fact that 10% of the people own 60% of the wealth and 70% of the people have no net worth. We’re not going to get to the issues of how do we rebuild the infrastructure, the sewer, the water, the highways, all that. We’re just going to be constantly in this battle of bumper stickers.”

* Media malarkey – We recently learned that supposedly “independent” retired military officers giving their views on the Iraq war and the U. S. military were in fact briefed by the Pentagon on what to say. These “experts”, many with ties to defense contractors, willingly regurgitated Pentagon propaganda. The website Media Matters for America studied the situation in more depth and reports that this problem was more widespread than initially indicated. “A Media Matters review found that since January 1, 2002, the analysts named in the Times article collectively appeared or were quoted as experts more than 4,500 times on ABC, ABC News Now, CBS, CBS Radio Network, NBC, CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, and NPR.” This link provides a statistical analysis of the 4500 appearances by these mendacious media darlings. It is not known whether the alphabet broadcasting networks knew their “experts” were compromised. It is telling that the outing of these “experts” received very little mention in subsequent broadcasts..

* Media consolidation ~ a victory for you and me –Bush’s Federal Communications Commissions (FEC) recently ruled in favor of big business. The FEC would allow media conglomerates to continue to swallow up local media. On Thursday night the Senate voted to throw out the FEC decision. The organization Stop Big Media considers this a major victory as the issue moves on to the House. At their web site you can find specific reasons why media consolidation is a bad idea for a democracy and what is at stake. Additional information is available at Common Cause has available a petition you can send to your Representative urging that the FEC rulings be nullified. Barack Obama’s comments concerning media consolidation and diversity are available at this link.

* Derriere Orifice of the Week ~ saving the world and ruining lives ~ no, not George Bush (okay, him too) – Meet Daphne Beasley. She is a Memphis, TN high school principal who is living proof that an education does not leave one idiot-proof. The website Consenting Adult brought this holier than Swiss cheese moron to my attention. On a web site Principal Beasley is outing her students that she “hears” are gay. The basis of her condemnation is word-of mouth from teachers and students. Proof is not asked for nor required. The consequences for the “outed” students have been teen bullying and ruined lives. The ACLU has involved itself in the situation. Shame should be shared by the Memphis School Board for not outing/firing Beasley and for the school’s faculty for their compliance. If they think that they are doing God’s work they should apply for unemployment.

* Intelligent federal legislation (this is not a misprint) – “Starting next year across the country, rape victims too afraid or too ashamed to go to police can undergo an emergency-room forensic rape exam, and the evidence gathered will be kept on file in a sealed envelope in case they decide to press charges.” One of the biggest obstacles to prosecuting rape cases is that a victim is so traumatized just after the attack that she does not press charges. If the woman waits for a period of time before accusing her attacker it is usually too late. “Beginning in 2009, states will have to pay for Jane Doe rape kits to continue receiving funding under the federal Violence Against Women Act, which provides tax dollars for women's shelters and law enforcement training.” Congratulations to Congress for this much needed support of victims of rape.

* Is Bush going out with a bang? – The end of the Bush presidency is on the horizon. There is no legislation or initiative that has been or will prove to be a high-water mark. These last months will continue to be a defensive posture marked by attempts to keep its over-reaching, dishonest and criminal actions from public view. The only deviation that could depart from this period closing with a whimper is Iran. And it could prove to be a big deviation. I have no illusions that Iran is one of the good guys. However, can America and its military afford another war front? The answer is a resounding NO. At best America can tread water until an adult takes over the White House and an intelligent multi-national approach to the Iran problem can be implemented. Yet, people connected with Bush continue to beat drums for attacking Iran. This week General Petraeus claimed that “Iran's involvement is the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq." The General failed to mention that within Iraq the sects hate each other and factions within the sects hate each other and that this hate is backed up with violent acts against each other and American troops. He also failed to mention that the corruption within the al Maliki government has undermined reconstruction, basic services such as electricity and potable drinking water and that the U.S. government has made every attempt to cover up this corruption. These are some of the realities that do not bode well for democracy in Iraq or for the safety and freedom of the Iraqi people. The organization provides a petition to congress that you can sign urging the passage of S. Res. 356 that states, "Any offensive military action against Iran must be explicitly approved by congress." Some may find this legislation unnecessary since the U.S. Constitution specifies that only Congress can declare war. Others will say it is necessary because the current President and Vice President of the United States do not feel compelled to follow the laws of the land.

* “The current perception I get from the evening news is that the world is dominated by human failure, crime, catastrophe, corruption, and tragedy. We are all tuning in to see how the human mind is evolving, but the media keeps hammering home the opposite, that the human mind is mired in darkness and folly.”
Deepak Chopra, Self Help Author

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

unusually eloquent, Stephen, as you dealt with the major themes of our times and indeed of every era since time immemorial. - Ruth Z. Deming of