Wednesday, March 31, 2010

31 March 2010 Weapons Of Mass Obstruction

31 March 2010 Weapons Of Mass Obstruction

It is related in Exodus that the “Children of Israel” left Egypt and the slavery they had endured there at the end of a series of plagues and other unpleasant events that came to be known as “ Pass Over.” The first born children of Egypt were slain by divine decree while those first born inside dwellings marked with smears of lamb’s blood on the door posts were spared; as the “Angel of Death” passed over. The resultant shock forced the hand of the Pharaoh, who finally decreed that the Hebrews could leave Egypt.

As anyone who can read can probably figure out, when a divine right ruler/deity frees a population of slaves while supposedly numb with grief; it is best to take advantage of that release immediately, before anyone has time to change their minds. And this is purportedly what took place. The Hebrews grabbed all they could carry, rounded up or rustled what livestock they could, and made their best speed getting out of Dodge. The legends tell us that they fled so quickly that they did not have sufficient time to allow the current batches of bread to rise before baking them. They left Egypt carrying brittle, flavorless, hard tack in sheet form. Thus was created the custom of eating matzah – unleavened near-bread – during the 8 days of Pesach.

Tradition is a huge factor in the maintenance and preservation of religion. If the founding generation of Aaronic priest wore special garments of a pattern handed down to Moses, all the Kohanim were expected to do so. And they most likely did, right up to the end of the 2nd Temple period. If roasted lamb was the prescribed meal on the night before the departure from Egypt, lamb will do nicely in celebrating that event and re-telling the tale. In fact, lamb is demanded in the official initial customs dictated to and by Moses.

Over the years as the distance from the original Pass Over grew and the Hebrews changed from a group of nomadic, war-like tribes bound on consolidating a kingdom, into a more settled populace of city and town dwellers collectively known for the tribe, Judah, the prescribed items to be used in retelling the Exodus tale grew in number and became ritualized.

The roasted lamb has vanished from many families’ Seder table and iss present only as a shank bone on a ritual platter. The various herbs, horseradish, and other ritual items also decreased in size and became only sample items on the platter to be used prior to the actual meal. But Matzah did not decrease in size or vanish; rather it increased in presence. Matzah became central to the holiday challenging generations of cooks to produce anything that doesn't taste like soggy cardboard or fried, soggy cardboard.

Most of the Ashkenazic holiday recipes, served after the ritual Seder, are heavy European type dishes. Matzah Ball Soup is the lightest traditional item and some families favor matzah balls that are heavy enough to survive being used in a tennis match. Add the kugels, matzah pizzas, matzah brie, and various bits of matzah used for snacking; and each member of the tribe is at grave risk of impaction. A box of matzah overpowers a box of prunes until the absolute most inconvenient moment in the day. There should be a warning label on each box of matzah.

Whether or not you believe in literal interpretation of the Torah, the bible, or any other sacred text, they do affect many aspects of our lives, from diet and digestion through ethics. And one thing is for certain, they can’t be any less truthful than the press releases put out by Sarah Palin.

Palin warns of a second Holocaust.

Speaking from her Face Book page, where she can post all manner of lies, half-truth, and innuendo without having to offer proof, Ms. Palin uses possible risk to Israel in order to attack President Obama.

“Palin argues that the Obama administration's actions have failed to rein in Tehran's nuclear ambitions, and that more than one year into Obama's presidency, his administration has made "no progress" on sanctions.”

Ms. Palin seems unable to recall that the threat of sanctions, the use of sanctions, and even the implied threat of attack by the Bush Administration failed to halt the Iranian march toward a nuclear arsenal. Obama is supposed to accomplish in one year what Bush and friends couldn’t do in eight? Well, reality is not Palin’s strong suit. Nor is truth, ethics, literacy, or a lot of other things desirable in a political leader.

I find Ms. Palin’s supposed concern for the longevity and well-being of Israel and its population to be absolutely false. Given her evangelical faith and her willingness to sit through sermons castigating Israel for not recognizing Jesus as Messiah; I have a very hard time believing she weeps anything but crocodile tears for Israel. After all, she and her fellow evangelicals only need we us Jews if they can convert us to their needs. If we fail to recreate “greater biblical Israel”, if Israel fails to line up and convert before dying; then somehow Palin’s 2nd coming/end of day’s scenario may be disrupted.

I’m somewhat amazed at the quality of the quotes coming from Palin’s FB page. Don’t misunderstand me; it’s not that good. But from past experience seeing what she has written as a farewell speech, from hearing her on stage, it is obvious that someone is writing her releases for her. While I know most politicians use speech writers, Ms. Palin should not. Politicians using such a service should be able to answer questions about such speeches. Ms. Palin needs that layer of disconnection because she is unable to answer questions on anything other than “which news network is out to hurt her family this week.”

She should have the courtesy to refrain from using Israel as a campaign prop. Her ultimate goal for Israel is to destroy it just as thoroughly as does Iran. She is no friend of Israel. Nor would she be willing to speak about growing anti-Semitism at the rallies where she stirs up an audience made up of Klansmen, militia members, and Christian fundamentalists.

Go home, Palin. We’ll send you a box of matzah to eat. Then you can write about that in your Face Book page.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

30 March 2010 An army of your neighbors?

30 March 2010 An army of your neighbors? 

“There's grievin' in the country

There's sorrow in the sand.

There's sobbin' in the shanty

And there's anger in the land.”

Peter, Paul, & Mary

Take a look at your home state

These are the hate groups and militias that are known to law enforcement and to monitoring groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Hutaree militia, currently in the news following the arrest of nine members is not in the list of groups in Michigan. They were either not known or not listed so as to avoid risk to the federal agents who had infiltrated them.

This is the link to a web page defending the various militias and hate groups and denying the findings of the SPLC. It includes a 2009 SPLC report which does list the Hutaree militia. I would be cautious of opening any links on the page. The UAFF bills itself as an “alternative news service.” That sounds rather like Fox News self defense language. In my opinion, this is a communications organ for an association of groups that are more or less violently opposed to the changes occurring in the United States. They collectively oppose immigration, social safety net legislation, and are racist and anti-Semitic in nature. The groups they defend, the groups denoted as dangerous by the SPLC are found scattered about the various states, often composed of your neighbors.

I have a relatively healthy degree of paranoia where such things are concerned. I grew up in Mid Missouri, delivering a newspaper that was owned and published by a founding member of the John Birch Society, 30 miles or so north was the headquarters of a militia type group calling itself “The Minute Men.” That name has now been picked up by the anti-immigrant groups that go out to watch our southern border at night. But according to information that was available in my youth, the Missouri group’s headquarters was cordoned off and searched by the FBI in the early 1960’s. A cache of automatic weapons was seized by the FBI. Also seized were, purportedly an anti-tank gun from WWII with ammunition, and containers of napalm. In those days I was uncertain as to the truth of the reports. The local SAC for the FBI lived on our block and he would not confirm the reports when we asked him. However, he did not deny them. You can draw your own conclusions. I think that my neighbor said a lot in his silence. Such weaponry is not nearly as noteworthy today. Large caches of semi-auto weapons modified for full-auto fire are often found in arrests around the nation.

There are many people expressing shock and surprise today after the national news crews show them video of the Michigan arrests. I’m not surprised. Nor am I surprised at either the institutionalized paranoia that drives such groups or the fundamentalist religion that is focal for so many of them. The Christian Identity groups are of particular concern to me. They have a large network of compounds and communities, often secured with barbed-wire, search towers, and armed guards. They have been implicated in murders in Colorado, Missouri, Arkansas, and other states. Eric Rudolph is a prime example of the indoctrination they instill in their children. They are not only obsessed with fundamentalist Christianity but are also racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-government. They seem to be the focal point where all the various hatreds flow together and are blended into hatred and a willingness to kill equal in depth to that of the most committed Moslem extremists. I’ve met some of them. They concern me greatly.

In case you can’t find enough idiocy in the world this afternoon, note the link below. Don’t open it yet. You may not wish to do so at all.

It seems that greed is rampant in the Minnesota GOP. Rep. Michelle Bachman is throwing a dinner function that will cost participants up to $10,000/couple. Should that not be enough cash outlay to make a couple feel they’ve helped Ms. Bachman sufficiently, for $10,000 they may have their photo taken with Sarah Palin. According to campaign laws, the Minnesota Post writes:

“The money donated will, per campaign finance rules, have to be spread among various committees. The first $2,400 would go to Bachmann's primary election fund. The next $2,400 would go to her general election refund. And up to $10,000 can go to the Republican Party of Minnesota.

That's not small change, especially for two pols who say they speak on behalf of real, working class America. “

I have to wonder how much of that will find its way into Palin’s PAC or her personal checking account. She has already demonstrated in the 2008 campaign her utter disregard for campaign financing ethics. And she’s not at all shy about asking for cash from anyone she gets near. So much for representing the common people! I wonder if the GOP’s main financial people have warned the Tea Party organizers to not let her near a clothing store with their credit card?

Now, you can open the link if you like or just hope they somehow both get caught violating campaign laws.

Monday, March 29, 2010

29 March 2010 Morning uprisings

29 March 2010 Morning uprisings

This morning brings reports of two separate subway bombings in Moscow. The bombers, the final people to wear these particular costumes of death, are believed to be women. This suggests that the women are surviving members of a family that has had previous encounters with the Russians while they were suppressing some sort of uprising in an Islam dominated former USSR republic. BBC’s coverage this morning, heard while on my way to class, called the bombers “jihadis.”

Russia has a moderately long and very violent history with Islamic separatists and other brands of bombers. The Soviets endeared Russia to several generations of Moslems in the “Stan” constellation of nations by trying to suppress the practice of Islam throughout their sphere of influence, just as they tried to suppress Christianity and Judaism. The region they controlled in the Caucasus and in Central Asia is so particularly hard scrabble, that often the only crop for the year is prayer of some bent. The political leaders who clawed their way to the top of the Soviet leadership hierarchy for any republic were almost always brutal to the extreme, and willing to obliterate entire cities for political advantage. Moscow Center had little problem with this. It had large formations of troops ready to use for suppression of civil disorder. If it took a few thousand lives to calm down the local religious fanatics, there were enough bullets to use. Russia has always been known for brutality in maintaining what passes for civil order. The Soviets, in their turn at bat, had no problem maintaining that reputation.

Their have been multiple bombings in Iraq as the election cycle winds down. The concept of religious martyrdom is heavily imprinted upon the Iraqi fundamentalists as well. There is sufficient left over high explosive material and enough hardware to use in making IED’s to keep Iraq exploding on a regular schedule for the next decade without any aid from Iran. The U.S. needs to strip the nation of any leftover ordnance and destroy it on site before leaving Iraq.

Afghanistan will come to the forefront in the next weeks as the Taliban and the various Afghanis warlords discover a need to remind the locals that they are still a viable force in arms and a continuing source for Jihadis willing to die for the faith while killing infidels.

Closer to home, and far more troubling:

The Southern Poverty Law Center is reporting a marked upswing in the number of domestic hate groups, “patriot” groups, and militias in the last few years. Six cops were killed by right wing extremists. Right wing talk show hosts and right wing politicians are increasingly using speech intended to further agitate hate and extremist groups in this nation. We are quite likely to see more acts of domestic terrorism, not just broken windows and hate speech. Our extremists, political and religious, are every bit as willing to hurt or kill others as those in Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Gaza. They may not want to claim a martyr’s mantle, but they need not do so in order to kill and maim fellow citizens and to attack the core values of this nation.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

28 March 2010 “You can lead Palin to a tea party, but you can't make her think.”

28 March 2010 “You can lead Palin to a tea party, but you can't make her think.”

An on-line, fly fishing acquaintance known as Yatahey is the source of today’s title.

Another long time acquaintance, Emerger, on the same forum asked the question:

What makes so many people on this board post threads about Sarah Palin and about what she thinks?

And a third opened the thread with the question:

“What makes Sarah Palin think that:

1) she and the Tea Party have lost this country; and,

2) they have any more rightful claim to it than the citizens with whom she and the Tea Party disagree?

In response to Emerger:

Ms. Palin is the epitome of the puppet politician driven by greed and lust for fame. She is poorly spoken, poorly read, incapable of constructing a grammatically correct sentence. She wants to make her fundamentalist faith the law of the land. She has no personal grasp of national or foreign policy, of history, and certainly no acquaintance with personal or political ethics.

She is remarkably unqualified for any political office at any level. She obviously felt herself to be outside the law when she carried out Alaskan business on a private web page rather than on the official state website.

She has chosen to front the Tea Party campaign, allowing her to continue the incendiary campaign rhetoric she employed during the 2008 campaign. She employs lies, misinformation, and innuendo rather than any actual concern for or acquaintance with factual information. Her use of speech and graphics intended to incite violence is unconscionable. She has attached herself to the lowest common denominator voter base, those who share her lack of intellect, education, and awareness of history. While they remain a highly vocal splinter party they may be able to influence some elections.

Because I consider myself a reasonably well educated, highly concerned voter; I feel that I am obligated to try to counter any lies and misinformation spread by Palin and her minions. I can only speak for myself but I hope that the other folks who congregate here feel the same.

In response to John, who offered the two questions:

I’m honestly distressed at the mob’s insistence that they have lost their nation. The borders are still mostly intact, the government sort of functions. All those people complaining about government spending still get their Social Security payments, disability payments if indicated, still have access to Medicare if eligible, and no doubt, some of them still receive unemployment insurance payments. Mail still arrives in a timely manner, and the various government agencies that they complain about still protect them.

What they have lost is a demographic situation where they are the numerical majority. In a short time the nation will have a majority of residents who claim Hispanic ancestry, who may speak Spanish, who are either Roman Catholic or evangelical Christian, and who reproduce at a higher rate than Caucasian citizens. Also reproducing at higher rates are those citizens of African-American ancestry.

The day of the WASP is behind us. Even more dislocating, the jobs that used to be filled by blue-collar workers are long gone and aren’t coming back. The mob has to face a future that has no steady income, that has them outnumbered by people with darker skins and different languages, and a future where they no longer control the social mores or morality from their protestant or evangelical churches.

The mob is largely white, unemployed or under-employed, under-educated, or lacking an interest in education. The mob does not like anyone who does not look like them, speak like them, or pray like them. The mob is insistent upon receiving continued federal benefits but does not want to pay a penny to benefit anyone else. The mob does not want to reform health care, education, banking, or deal with immigration. The mob wants to wave guns around, chanting bits of the 2nd Amendment but t is either too old to join our military or has no interest in sharing the duty of actually serving in uniform. It’s more fun to play at being a soldier on weekends.

The mob has lost the right to claim the patriotic symbols of this nation as their own. The flags they wave at their rallies, all too often not in compliance with U.S. Flag codes, fly over the graves of men and women of all skin colors who have fought and died for this nation. No one race or immigrant group own our national symbols. They want to push the social and legal structure back to the middle of the 19th century, whether or not they realize and/or admit it. Add a generation or two and the people migrating to the Tea Party mobs are the same people attracted to Nixon’s and Reagan’s southern strategy, the same mobs that followed George Wallace. They are afraid of change, afraid of being treated by others as they have treated those others. And they hate the thought that they might be asked to share anything with anyone else. They firmly believe that all people on disability are scamming the system, that they all can work but simply choose not to work. They will deny the GOP healthcare plank is “don’t get sick, but if you do, die quickly. Then they will suggest that anyone who can’t afford health care should not receive it. Their sacred writings preach charity. And they will contribute to missionaries to go overseas to heal and convert the “heathen,” while refusing to consider that their charity would be better spent in their own hometowns.

They have a rightful claim to the symbols of America. But they have the concomitant responsibility to use them in a manner that is consistent with the America that welcomed immigrants from all nations, that once had the best public schools, universities, and hospitals to be had, that once understood that a bible is not a national symbol, which once really believed the words, “with liberty and justice for all!” Until they use them in that manner they have no right to our nation’s symbols.

To them, I say: Please fold the flag carefully, put it down, and return to your junior high school civics classes. This time, pay attention. You’ve already failed the midterm.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

27 March 2010 Feel like we’ve been here before.

27 March 2010 Feel like we’ve been here before.

“In the faces of Tea Party shouters, images of hate and history
By Colbert I. King
Saturday, March 27, 2010 The angry faces at Tea Party rallies are eerily familiar. They resemble faces of protesters lining the street at the University of Alabama in 1956 as Autherine Lucy, the school's first black student, bravely tried to walk to class. “…

Mr. King goes on to relate his and others concerns and recollections of Little Rock, at a David Duke rally in 1991, of George Wallace rallies, and of the Tea Party protests in D.C. last week.

He’s right to be concerned. The GOP has embraced the politics of lies, bigotry, hatred, and Christian fundamentalism since the Nixon Southern strategy was put into place. It has since been used to elect Reagan and both Presidents Bush.

The levels of hatred, disinformation, and bigotry were ramped up by Palin and her handlers during the 2008 campaign to take advantage or the fact that Obama was the Democratic candidate. They hoped to recreate the Wallace mantra, railing against the three G's of government, Godlessness, and gun control.

Now Palin is milking the Tea Party mob for all it will contribute. And that mob hears her call for violence. A poster seen in D.C. last week read "If Brown [Scott Brown (R-Mass.)] can't stop it, a Browning [high power weapon] can." While mob organizers can claim that such signs are only rhetoric, while Palin can claim her admonition to “reload” is a metaphor, I know such disclaimers are lies. Those signs and on-line comments are used with the hope that someone will interpret them literally, as they are intended to be taken. We’ve reached the point where the right wing extremists and the mob they’ve created to do their public dirty work are ready to pick up weapons and harm others. So far this year it has been bricks, rocks, and bullets fired at windows rather than people.

Palin has no drive or call to serve the nation. Her drive is for money and a mob to shout her name. She has never stuck with any elected job, always quit, leaving her terms of office incomplete, leaving a mess for someone else to clean up. When the going gets hard, Palin quits.

Yet she attracts the lowest common denominator of voter, those who want to force their religion on others, those who can be swayed by physical come-ons that are so poorly delivered as to be off-putting to anyone who can read at third grade level and see beneath her makeup. She is quite willing to play to the gun lobby, the theocrats, and the poorly educated. She’s quite willing to incite hatred, spread lies, and to claim that only those who feel the way she is programmed to feel are “real Americans.”

Mr. King doesn’t label her as the newest incarnation of George Wallace, doesn’t depict her in white robes in front of a burning cross. Mr. King doesn’t have to. His readers know all too well the type of voter gravitating to the Tea Party mobs and to the Palin demagoguery tour.

I wore my nation’s uniform in combat. I still have shrapnel in my body. Ms. Palin wants to depict me as un-American because I don’t want this nation to become a theocracy ruled by bigots, racists, anti-Semites and anti-intellectuals. How dare she! And how dare the Tea Party mobs threaten to unleash murder and other violence against their fellow citizens who disagree politically with them! They have the temerity to call for harm to our elected leaders and then to describe their selves as patriots. They want to reverse a century’s advances in civil rights, women’s’ rights, and social safety net legislation, to hand over the nation’s treasury to corrupt corporate bankers and financial traders, and they want to rewrite history in order to eliminate the role of anyone who looks, speaks, or prays differently from them.

I believe we should have declared English our official language long ago. But no GOP Congress has done so.

I believe we should have clamped down on illegal immigration long ago. But no GOP Congress has done so. In fact, the sainted Reagan worsened the problem by declaring a huge amnesty for millions of illegals.

It amazes me how the Tea Party can idolize Reagan yet ignore his spending, his taxation, and his amnesty. I guess that lack of education that goes along with Tea Party mob membership helps overlook truth and reality.

I wonder how long it will be before some Tea Party fellow traveler is going to shoot a Congressman, a Senator, as encouraged by the extreme right demagogues. I wonder what the gunman will shout as justification for murder. And I wonder what Palin, Boener, Limbaugh, and the rest will shout to distance their demagoguery from political murder by the poorly educated minions who hang on their words as if they were handed down by a deity. I wonder how the GOP and Tea Party pro-life mobsters will justify murdering citizens whose only crime was to disagree with them politically and to vote accordingly

The fuse has been lit; we’re all in the theater now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

26 March 2010 militia act 1792 hoist by who’s petard?

26 March 2010 militia act 1792 hoist by who’s petard?

From a friend on a fly fishing forum:

“Congress approved the Militia Act of 1792, which was duly signed by George Washington, then the president and commander in chief.

Establishing state militias and a national standard for their operation, the Militia Act explicitly required every "free able-bodied white male citizen" between the ages of 18 and 45, with a few occupational exceptions, to "provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch and powder horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder.."

Within six months, every citizen enrolled and notified of his required militia service had to equip himself as specified above. There was spirited debate in Congress as to whether the state ought to subsidize the purchase of arms for men too poor to afford their own, so that everyone could serve his country. Subsidized or not, however, the founders saw no constitutional barrier to a law ordering every citizen to buy a gun and ammo.

Quotations and facsimiles of the Militia Act can be found on hundreds of right-wing blogs, of course, where it is often cited to demonstrate that the founders would have despised gun control. Few if any of these Second Amendment zealots seem to have realized yet how ironic it is for them to quote this venerable statute alongside their anguished protests against the constitutional validity of any federal mandate.

Or maybe Washington was a socialist, too. “

The political right has made a concerted effort to co-opt all the symbols associated with patriotism that it can. If they could copyright the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they would. The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution has become a battle flag for the right wing, with the NRA and various other gun groups trying to stake out a position that allows them sole use of this amendment.

Today’s most likely court battle will revolve around the 10th Amendment as the GOP attempts to have the Supreme court overturn the just-passed health care reform laws. They will argue that the 10th Amendment does not allow Congress to mandate the purchase of health insurance. Yet, in the opening excerpt, it is easy to see that Congress has previously mandated that all militia members must equip their selves for service at their own expense. This would seem to be a long established precedent that the GOP and other parts of the right wing have no problem accepting. If it were my privilege to sit in judgment on this matter, there would be no need for a lunch break.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves. I don’t see any way the GOP can win. If they claim that the militia act is not relevant, then they may anger the gun lobby. If they don’t, there is a clearly established precedent just waiting to defeat their case.

Get used to the sound of laughter, Boener. You’re going to hear a lot more directed at you and your partners in obstructionism.

Washington was not a socialist. Jefferson was not a socialist. Obama is not a socialist. The only socialists in US government are those Republicans willing to use taxpayer moneys to bail out the banking industry. They’re great believers in corporate socialism, making the taxpayer cover the financial industries losses while the taxpayers losses at the hands of the financial industry’s malfeasance is left to the taxpayer. Now it’s time to regulate the banks again.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

25 March 2010 Hey, want to have some fun with gun owners?

25 March 2010 Hey, want to have some fun with gun owners?

“Stev, i trust you on this stuff, and it scares the hell out of me.

What do you make of the 2nd amendment rallies this weekend? One w/o

weapons on the Mall, one WITH weapons at a national park in Virginia?

Can't they all just go duck hunting or something?”

Dwight, the march is slotted for 19 Apr, as far as I can tell. Looks like a "grass roots" analog to the tea party bus trips. At first glance, I don’t see any way I could support the this. But read on!

I don't belong to any of the gun groups so I don't normally get solicited for things like this. I think this is another GOP/ Tea Party/ Faux effort to make the admin aware of how many gun owners there are. The various gun clubs and militias that might show up are of different make-ups. There are gun clubs that consist of local folks who have joined in to buy property in order to build a safe and secure shooting range for target shooters and for wing shooters. These people are generally hunters although some may be competition shooters. In my experience they are not the rabid gun nuts. There are also still “militias,” groups of men with a few women who firmly believe that they are somehow going to be responsible for the armed defense of their states and the “real America.” Most of them attend some sort of meeting with emphasis on marksmanship and perhaps a bit of infantry drill provided by members who have served in uniform. They tend to be “states rights” 10th Amendment, believers who picture their selves as the last line of defense against the hordes of federal troops and agents who will somehow descend upon them and force a communist government upon them, simultaneously taking their guns.

There exists a sub populace of gun fanciers who really enjoy shooting and want one of everything they can afford. They can fall into any sub-group of gun owners. My neighbor is a Libertarian, a 2nd Amendment adherent to the point where it controls his voting patterns. He owns many guns, hunts, shoots combat simulation contests, and teaches basic gun safety for the NRA. He is moderately worried about gun control but is a law-abiding gun owner. He shoots air guns as often as cartridge guns, hunts with bow and arrow, and I would trust him with my life and Gloria’s. I’m not worried about him going berserk – it’s not in his make-up.

Also in the mix are the fringe gun nuts, the neo-Nazis, Christian Identity groups. Find here those who are beyond the Pale, Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh, and as yet unknown domestic terrorists. Here are the people who want machine guns, grenades, RPG’s and anything that might destroy people in large numbers.

After looking at a few of the forums that discuss the event there is some apprehension among gun owners about descending on D.C. with firearms as the local concealed and open carry laws will apply. The parent rally organization has published guidelines claiming it will be the sole responsibility of attendees to comply with local laws in D.C. and as they travel. The rally organizers want numbers but not responsibility.

Others gun owners apparently see this as a “fuck you" gesture to the Democrats and to the Obama Admin. For some of them there is a constant gnawing fear that they will somehow open the door to find ATF agents at the door with orders to seize their weapons. The chatter on these forums is centered around a “that’ll show them who we are and how many of us there are” attitude. There seems to be an assumption that by showing up with weapons they will terrorize the Democrats and energize the GOP so that no one will dare think of firearms legislation that might weaken the scope of the 2nd Amendment as interpreted by the more extreme gun fanciers and fanatics.

I've never subscribed to that fear as I've never subscribed to the thought that I might someday need a fully automatic rifle, machine gun, anti-tank rocket. I target shoot, hunt, and live in an area where rabid animals are possible intruders, where bears are known to rummage through trash cans, and where feral dogs and cats place my indoor dog at risk. Like farm and ranch owners, I have firearms as tools. I no longer participate in historic re-enactment events and thus, have no reproduction muzzle-loading guns.

Your question about hunting instead of rallying is only valid for some of them. Water fowl and game bird hunting is normally an autumn event. There is an exception for spring turkey hunts. (I watched wild turkeys mating in our back yard this morning). Deer and other big game animals are hunted in fall as well, after mating season. So hunting is really not a valid option. Target shooting, trap and skeet shooting only interest some shooters. As with music, there is no one gun fits all among shooters.

Personally, I can’t see the need for such a rally on the national mall. Nor can I see the need for one in VA. I don’t like crowds, I don’t like mobs, and I don’t like armed mobs. I would imagine that record numbers of police will be on duty that day and that there will be at least some MP units and Infantry units on call at need – National Guard units, that is; the logical descendants of the states’ militias described in the 2nd Amendment.

The one point I thought of immediately that I did not find in the forums I skimmed was this. If all these folks show up with their weapons and cluster up in a controlled area, they can easily be surrounded by troops and/or cops and disarmed on the spot. It’s rather like walking into an X-shaped ambush. If you do, you are well and truly fucked. There is no exit. If I were a gun owner, worried about gun control legislation, D.C. on 19 April 2010 is the last place I would be. Can we say “Agents provocateur,” boys and girls?

This alone makes me think that the purpose of this rally is to sell things to people who attend, to raise money for some lobbyist groups, and to establish another group of people willing to become cannon fodder for the theocrats and power brokers who are currently making money from the Tea Party mobs. All the sponsors on the website want money from attendees and from those who can be milked without offering anything but a membership card and an E-newsletter. None of them have anything to offer gun owners in terms of actually protecting gun ownership. They are the type of sponsors that set my teeth on edge, far more opportunistic and likely to spread lies and rumors than they are to deal with the 2nd amendment honestly.

This could turn out to be a real money maker for those who can scare others into contributing. “They’re coming for your guns any day now, men! Just like we said he would before the election.” Scary words if you are a marginally employed or unemployed white male watching the world change around you; seeing the nation’s complexion and accent change; seeing a black male in the White House; and not hearing the drum beats for war that mask the sound of the middle class’s jobs, homes, and money vanishing.

Despite the propaganda put out by the NRA, and other organizations, I truly believe the public sentiment is largely against gun ownership now. I would suspect that Glenn and I are the only gun owners now in this list. The urban populations see the aftermath of thugs and thieves using illegal guns. Few urban dwellers hunt any more, although many still punch paper. The use of firearms as tools and for feeding families is diminishing in this nation. We can blame PETA and other such agencies for that but we also must acknowledge changes in cultural behavior. (Fishing is going the same direction in many locations) However, I still support both long gun and hand gun ownership. Both Gloria and I are permitted to carry concealed side arms in TN and those states which grant reciprocity. We live a long way from the nearest law enforcement office or fish and wildlife office. Self defense is a valid concern in our neck of the woods. Any hypocrisy on my part is acknowledged and duly noted as part of the package.

I would expect that turn out for these rallies would be any greater in number than the Tea Party march on D.C. I could be wrong, but I’m hoping a mild degree of paranoia will keep many people from taking part.

Keep me posted on this as you run across it, and thanks for providing the central thought for my blog entry today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

24 March 2010 Time to tax churches and stop the war

24 March 2010 Time to tax churches

The churches in this nation need to be taxed. There is no reason to allow televangelists to dictate national policies, no excuse for any church to become involved in legislation over social wedge issues. There is no reason to allow any church to harbor illegal aliens under some pre-reformation concept of sanctuary. There is a civil war brewing in America and too many churches or religious sects are squarely in the middle of that war.

The separation of church and state demanded by Jefferson is based upon his and other founders’ first-hand knowledge of what churches with political power can do to a nation. We had the chance to escape the theocracies that repeatedly plunged Europe into wars. We had the chance to not become crusaders, to not have our daily lives sculpted and dictated by one faith or another. We had the best chance any nation has ever had to leave the religious nuts behind in the dust of the old world.

Now, we’re beginning to look like Latin America. We have a Catholic Bishops Council intruding into health care legislation because they are afraid that someone might have an abortion. It is no business of any bishop whether or not our health care policies are consistent with Vatican beliefs and policies. The last time I looked, the Vatican was surrounded by Italians. Most of the political and economic problems endemic to Latin America came over on boats with priests. The promise of an afterlife in paradise in exchange for a lifetime of careless reproduction, tropical diseases, involuntary servitude, and life-long third world status can be laid at the feet of the Roman church.

And if the problems the Catholic Church engenders aren’t sufficient we’ve our native English speaking Southern Baptists and other evangelical fundamentalists who are doing their best to replace the U.S. Constitution with the King James bible and morality police who exceed those of Saudi Arabia in viciousness and stupidity. I don’t care how they pray at home. I object intensely to them trying to make the civic world an adjunct church and I will resist for ever their attempts to replace the real freedoms of our Constitution with the lies, repression, and bigotry that springs from their insistence that all of us must obey the laws they think originate in their holy texts. They complain about the Afghani Taliban but never see the faces in the mirror.

These churches are also contributing to extreme civil unrest and polarization. Their unceasing demands that Roe v Wade be overturned, their repetitive incitement to violence, describing those who commit violence against abortion providers and supporters as “martyrs” will be at the root of more murders by self-described “pro-lifers.”

Abortion, abortion funding, homosexuality and the campaign to provide homosexuals with civic rights and rituals equal in nature to those in effect for heterosexuals, and keeping religious education out of public schools, along with immigration are the primary wedge issues in American life today. There is agreement and some degree of cooperation among all the Christian sects except on immigration.

Today’s news is gravely disturbing. Ten members of the House of Representatives have asked for extra protection. They have received threats against their persons, against their wives, children, and grandchildren. Offices have been vandalized. All of these members are Democrats but not all of them support abortion. This violence has been called for by tea party speakers, suggested by Republican leaders, and demanded by anti-abortion groups. Right wing demagogues are openly suggesting that Democrats be gotten rid of. They will claim they are calling for legal election campaigns but they would be quite happy if violence results. It will raise their ratings and revenues.

The threat of violence is real and growing. We’ve seen physicians shot and killed in the last two decades by anti-abortion activists. We haven’t seen any of our elected officials shot recently but the probability is growing daily. The NRA incited several ambushes where cops were killed by gun nuts afraid Obama would seize their firearms. The homicidally intentioned have gravitated previously to the GOP and now are likely converging on the Tea Party. The GOP leadership has not been strong or rapid enough in trying to tamp down the violence they unleashed via the Palin campaign in 2008. The Tea Party leadership has no desire to decrease the level of violence, potential or real. They continue to call for a revolution that they believe they could facilitate and win. In reality they would break and run but they hold the potential to harm many innocent people.

The call to violence has been sounded by the reactionary right after incitement by the churches. Death, if it happens, will be at the hands of people who want to stop abortion by anyone at any time. They are demanding that we consider a fetus to be sacred until it is born. Once born, they have no concern for its life. We are in a cultural war that should never have happened. The churches’ desire to meddle in the lives of non-members is squarely at fault. Tax them, keep them out of politics, tax them until they bleed.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

23 March 2010 The world still turns on its axis.

23 March 2010 The world still turns on its axis.

Despite the anguished howls that have been heard issuing from the GOP house and senate leaders, the sun broke the horizon as scheduled this morning. Buds have not fallen from the forest trees, birds from the skies, and insurance companies still possess sufficient resources that they will fund yet another GOP campaign to block any health care reform in these United States.

In monitoring my normal internet forums, I’ve visited one which is comprised of men who think Barry Goldwater was not conservative enough. On that forum, where Obama has routinely been referred to mainly by pejoratives and slurs, one correspondent claimed that the passage of health care reform was the demarcation of the demise of the nation, that it would soon be taken over by “socialists and communists,” as has been Obama’s plan since he was born. Yes, this same forum is filled with “birthers” who insist Obama was born outside our borders. Others who populate this forum are 10th Amendment proponents who believe that nearly everything should be relegated to the various states.

Well, we’ve let the states try their hands at running transportation, commerce, health care and education. What we wound up with was a tier of states in the South East that is renowned for its collective illiteracy. We have other states that seem to believe that the laws of physics can be abrogated by waving a bible at the physical universe. We have people starving or dying from cold because the former governor of our largest and most oil-rich state didn’t believe in helping the poor; but does believe in witchcraft apparently.

From the beginning of the Obama administration push to actually get a health care bill through Congress I have been astounded at the apparent lack of intellectual capacity demonstrated by the mobs sent out by the GOP or by Fox News in Tea Party gatherings. There has been constant misuse of the terms “Nazi,” “socialist,” and “communist.” The mob seems to be unable to understand what are the underlying principles of each “ism.” Such lack of political education is all too likely to become even more widespread if the Texas history re-writes are allowed to happen. It seems as if the theocrats and reactionaries are worried about having sufficient voters to return them to office in the future, and are therefore determined to breed their own pool of poorly informed and poorly educated voters.

The GOP protestors come equipped with commercially printed signs when the party wants to be openly involved. The Tea Party mob present, mostly, with pre-printed posters of Obama defaced in some vicious manner, and with hand-lettered signs of even more vulgar and poorly spelled nature. The signs are all designed to polarize, to display anger and hatred. A lot of them invoke some form of divine intervention in the present and even more predict such intervention at a later time.

Also highly evident in the Tea Party mob’s signage is an immense lack of knowledge as to how our own government works. There is widespread lack of information about Medicare and its place in the payment scheme. “Keep government out of my Medicare” is all too commonly seen and heard. Medicare has been around for 50 years now and is still misunderstood. Gloria just talked to a young woman who believed that the various components of Medicare are free to the Medicare insured. This woman, college educated and in her thirties should know better but like too many, has never been concerned with the mechanisms involved in providing health care to our disabled and aged populace. Think how much less informed our college and high school dropouts are about such matters.

Think of the distortions hung on quotes taken from the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, out of context, that are put on signs, screamed into bull horns, and splashed across television and computer screens. Twisting words from historic documents is easy when the recipient has never bothered to read the original document. All politicians and political parties manipulate truth and lie easily. The GOP seems to have mastered the art of removing any shadow of a conscience that the candidate for election or his campaign staff might have once possessed.

This is going to be a continuing litany as the GOP does everything possible to repeal the law Obama signed today. Already they have convinced the attorneys-general from ten states to file lawsuits asking to have the law overturned. It will not matter to the GOP leaders or rank and file that children will die of preventable diseases, that adults will die of treatable diseases as they lose coverage or have it denied. It will not matter that we have a health care delivery system that is less effective than any other industrialized nation except, perhaps, Russia and China. As long as the corporate offices that control insurance are happy and their occupants paid obscene bonuses, the GOP will continue to lick the boots of those that fund their re-election.

Keep screaming, Boener. The door between you and the unwashed masses has been kicked open. Your good little Republican boys and girls won’t attack you in your office. But those Tea Party idiots you’ve been inciting since you discovered that Palin could incite hatred all too well can’t read all that well. One fake tanned, politician looking like a used car salesman looks pretty much like another. The Tea Party mob isn’t picky. If they can’t find me in my home, they’ll be quite happy to attack you in your office.

Monday, March 22, 2010

22 March 2010 A small step in the right direction

22 March 2010 A small step in the right direction

Take that, Boener! Getting used to losing yet, GOP? How’s that Palin-driven bigotry and lies campaign working out for you?

I woke up feeling good today, not just because I woke up next to Gloria, always a reason to feel good; not just because I had a wonderful birthday yesterday; not just for a lot of reasons that make me happy to be alive.

No, today I woke up feeling good for an additional reason. Last night, the campaign of lies, distortion, deception, and religious hypocrisy that has characterized the Republican Party since Nixon hit a shoal in its course. It was gutted by the Democrats, most of whom finally remembered who their current party is descended from, what wonderful works for the public good it once proposed and implemented. The GOP’s lobbyist bosses are going to most unhappy with the good-ol’-boys who took their money and failed to deliver.

The American people won last night. They received a chance to obtain more affordable health insurance that won’t be ripped out from under them when it is needed most. But they won more than that. They we’re handed a GOP hierarchy that over-reached, got caught lying, and that openly exhibited the depth of the hatred they bear for anyone who thwarts their plans to sell out our citizenry to the highest bidder at every opportunity. They were handed a GOP that played its most powerful wedge issue, abortion, and still lost. They were handed a defeated coalition of lobbyists, fundamentalist/evangelicals, and the Catholic Bishop’s council all of whom have been calling the tunes for the GOP’s elected.

That’s a big win, America. I hope it sinks in quickly how much we’ve won back for ourselves. I hope it sinks in to the GOP that the alliance with theocrats, fundamentalist/evangelicals, and Catholic Bishops is a truly unholy one. This triad of bible thumpers has been making every effort to subvert our 1st Amendment. They all want some form of national religion to drive our government and our day to day lives. We left that religious control of government behind centuries ago. That is, we tried to. But the greedy control freaks that are the leaders of these groups want to remove the safeguards against them crafted by Jefferson and the others. They want all of us to live as if we were subjects of their religious hierarchy, serfs working for the Bishops, the preachers, the snake-handlers and witch hunters. And last night they were told, “No!”

So today we start to change our health insurance system. The bill stopped far short of what we needed, what I wanted, and universal nationalized health care. But it does pull the insurance companies’ hands a bit further from our pockets. Like the moon landings of the Apollo missions, small steps can get us started in the right direction.

And by the way, Ms. Palin, to you and all your Tea Party illiterrati, that “Hopey Changey thing” is working just fine. How’s that unemployment thing working out for you? Quit any other jobs lately?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

21 March 2010 62 and looking forward

21 March 2010 62 and looking forward

Today, I reach 62 years of age. I truly never gave much thought to obtaining such an age when I was growing up. I looked at people of this age as ancient, as did almost all my fellow young boomers. We expected to be, as Bob Dylan wished us, “forever young.” Yes, we fell into the same trap as every other generation before us.

Like most generations, mine had a war to help define it. I played my part in that definition, opposing and yet participating in it.

I am fortunate to have a mother who taught me to cook, iron clothes, replace buttons, do laundry, to appreciate music, and to appreciate learning. Those are good starting points.

I grew up with one set of siblings, a brother and a sister. In my fifties, I discovered another set of siblings, brother and sister.

Both brothers have died, one in an automobile accident, one of complications of Multiple Sclerosis. I never met the brother who succumbed to MS.

Both sisters are alive and well. One lives in Kansas City. Over the years we’ve gradually overcome the gap that 8 years between births creates. She’s a good sister, an interesting woman who works the KC board of trade, and I’m proud to be her brother. I have yet to meet my remaining sister. I’d welcome the chance.

The woman I am happily married to, Gloria arrived in my life at exactly the right time. She reminded me that music still plays, that I can laugh, and has been responsible for a series of remarkable birthday gifts.

So, to all of you, thanks for your contributions, your encouragement, your willingness to share knowledge, fun, and life. I’m looking forward to another good year.

Dinner tonight will be snow crab with cheese cake for dessert. I didn’t plan it; Gloria rustled the crab and the cheese cake.
To all of you following this on-line, I appreciate your support and interest. Watch for a return to regularly scheduled rants, tirades, and other evidence of approaching curmudgeonhood

Saturday, March 20, 2010

20 March 2010 a look Bach as spring arrives

We’ve been mired in Iraq for seven years now’ expending a fortune for military hardware, another for logistics, and worst of all, thousands of lives sacrificed or forever damaged.
For the worst part of the cost to our nation:

Thank you very much, Bush and Cheney.  You and your merry band of liars, theocrats, corporate robbers, and other assorted greed-driven sponsors will go down in history as the most corrupt and dishonest administration to ever grace the White House.  You planned a war against Iraq for reasons that had nothing to do with the security of the United States and much to do with enriching your corporate cronies and making up for lack of service in our armed forces when it was your turn to go. 

Your malfeasance and your selection of inept advisors ruined any chance of actually capturing or killing bin Laden at Tora Bora when some of our troops actually had him cornered.  Instead, your orders prevented our troops acting, even placed them under threat by Afghani forces which had no intention of capturing or killing bin Laden. 
Then you opened the war in Iraq, claiming that Iraq was developing nuclear, bio, and chemical weapons.  You siphoned off troops needed for a justifiable war in Afghanistan to fight for Halliburton's profits in Iraq.  You farmed out military roles to a Christian mercenary corporation and paid their guns for hire far more than we pay our actual uniformed armed forces.  You decided to wage two highly technical and expensive foreign wars without mobilizing the nation or increasing taxes to pay for these wars. 
While doing what you could to privatize our armed forces you also did your best to gut any regulation of the financial industry.  You did such a great job of deregulating that you nearly destroyed the global economy.  You put millions of families out of work, out of their homes, out of access to health care.
Your theocratic power base convinced you to abolish any real science and biology education in our schools.  Given that the feel-good school of educational theories was damaging, your contribution was to further decrease the level of instruction for nearly all students until we became no longer competitive with other industrialized nations.  We traded excellence in math, physics, biology, and other sciences for curricula that demand teaching the myths of fundamentalist Christianity. At the same time you gave huge tax breaks to the wealthiest U. S. citizens, directed no-bid contracts to corporations that you once directed, and convinced the increasing less intellectual GOP voter base that such machinations would create jobs because the wealthy would begin to bring back jobs they had previously off-shored and out-sourced. 
You left a political party so controlled by bigotry, racism, and anti-intellectualism, that your party’s VP candidate in 2008 ran a campaign based upon hatred.  She is so poorly educated, so steeped in fundamentalist Christianity that she believes  witch craft  can be used against her.  You’ve relied on the wedge issues of religious fundamentalism to obscure any real public awareness of how intrinsically malevolent your administration was. 
Well done, boys!  You’ve managed to obliterate a budget surplus, bankrupt the nation, deplete the armed forces, dumb down our educational system, and reduce much of America to the level of a third world nation. 
And like Nixon and Reagan, you’ve hired people to weave a mix of lies, half-truths, and fairy tales to make your voter base believe you were honest, honorable men with the nation’s best interests at heart.  It is truly a shame that when the opportunity to serve the nation was presented to you one last time; you weren’t too busy to turn it down as you did during the VietNam war.  How much better off the nation and the world might be.

Friday, March 19, 2010

19 March 2010 I never knew that the Holocaust was like that

19 March 2010 I never knew that the Holocaust was like that

Most of the industrialized world and all of the nations which claim Islam as their state religion have, once more, denied Israel’s claim to East Jerusalem. This, apparently now, includes the U.S. It fails to matter that Israel annexed East Jerusalem only after it was captured by Israeli troops in 1967. It matters not that Israel took the Old City and surrounds only after Jordan, which Israel had promised not to attack, chose to join the other Arab states and invaded Israel. And it matters not that Israel has the strongest historical and cultural ties to Jerusalem of any nation.

The question of settlements has been a continual problem since 1967. Israel has used them to secure land within the West Bank, often inappropriately or unwisely. But East Jerusalem historically belongs to Israel, culturally belongs to Israel, and is, in no manner, needed by the would-be-Palestinians to form their would-be nation.

In what appears to be yet another oil-driven policy, the Obama administration has shown itself to be much more willing to overlook long military, political, and intelligence gathering alliances with Israel in order to curry favor with the Moslem nations. They fail to recognize that no amount of appeasement will convince the Arab states or the Moslem fundamentalists to accept the existence of Israel as a permanent state in the Mid East. 62 years of history are apparently not sufficient to demonstrate that the long term goal of the Islamic world is the destruction of Israel. Obama fails to realize that there will be no negotiations in good faith by the would-be-Palestinians or the Arab states that have, to date, kept them stateless and used them as cannon fodder in order to scapegoat Israel.

As the time post WWII passes, the American populace has become less able to understand the need for the state of Israel, why it must defend its borders, and how much hatred and anti-Zionism exists in the Arab states. The lack of support for Israel among the American populace and in particular on college campuses is seriously frightening.

One reason I chose to take “History of the Holocaust” is to see how the event is presented on a small southern campus, and how the Holocaust is viewed by the students enrolled in the class. While I expected some anti-Semitism and a large amount of anti-Zionism, what I’m seeing is even more disturbing.

On a good day in this class, my fellow students sit there waiting to be spoon fed answers that can be plugged into a question on an exam. No one seems to be very interested in expanding their scope of knowledge. No one asks any questions that deal with the victims unless it has to do with money, valuables, or property. After all, we Jews are all filthy rich. On a bad day in class, if I ask a question designed to open a discussion or to bring the lecture around to the Holocaust as it actually relates to Jews, then and now; no one says a thing, no one seems to be curious about what happened to six million people who died because their families once prayed in the wrong manner.

Today left me at risk of verbally assaulting another student.

Fritz actually moved away from the German aspect and showed a segment of Schindler’s List dealing with the roundup and transportation of Jews from the Krakow ghetto. I knew it was a movie, that no one was actually being killed, and it was still difficult to watch. It hasn’t been that long ago that people related to me died in similar roundups or were sent by rail to death camps. It hasn’t been that long ago that men and women related to me wore this nation’s uniforms and stood against the evil that was the 3rd Reich. The scenes depicted in the movie are the things I’ve been trying to bring forward by means of questions.

As I looked around the room to gauge response on those faces I could see I happened upon something that infuriated me. A young woman in the next file of seats had her laptop open and was busily looking through photographs that appeared to be absolutely unrelated to anything coincident to the Krakow ghetto or anything else related to this class material. She was absolutely unconcerned about anything taking place in the movie that was the most important thing Fritz has brought up to date. She wasn’t offended, sickened, saddened, disgusted, or move in any direction. She simply did not care.

Yes, it’s not my class to teach, I’m not paying for her education (unless she has some sort of grant), and I lack any standing to upbraid her for her lack of concern. I have no desire to be dragged off campus for questioning her lack of concern for the six million in public. That must surely be unacceptable on today’s PC campuses. And of course, since I’m wishing I could demand concern for “those Jews” instead of the “would-be-Palestinians” who would like nothing better than to see what happened in Poland happen next in Israel; I would be the non-PC offender, supporting apartheid by Zionists.

I used to wonder how any college students could fail to understand Israel’s need for security, for intact borders, to prevent attacks upon its civilian population. I used to wonder how they could collectively swallow the PR put out by the Arab states and the would-be-Palestinians. I used to wonder why the U.S. government was suddenly taking a decidedly anti-Israeli vector and supporting the same groups of terrorists in Gaza and the West Bank that are killing U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those questions still need to be answered fully. But I imagine I can provide part of the answers.

When I was in university, the new and improved new left followed the lead of the socialists and communists in Europe, elevating the supposed refugees to hero status for their continuing murders of Jews in Israel. The Israelis had demonstrated their willingness and ability to defend their soil, and thus were no longer political underdogs. As the Arab states became Soviet clients, receiving Soviet armaments to proof against Israel, they and the Soviets launched a campaign to label Israel an apartheid state. The UN, voting largely in Catholic, Moslem, and Soviet blocs, hung slanderous labels on Israel which were picked up by the remaining leftists on university campuses. As political correctness grew in force, as Israel refused to pull back its borders or to give up Jerusalem, and as the religious right gained more political power in this nation, the sympathy for Israel among the young began to vanish.

Most people in my class, if not all, have no Jewish relatives; have never heard eyewitness accounts of Holocaust survivors, liberators, or even righteous gentiles. Most of them, if not all, have never talked with a Jew who recalls the days before Israel was reborn. If they’ve been to Israel at all, it has been with a Christian tour group. Israel and the Holocaust that preceded its rebirth are of no concern to them. WWII for most is as distant as the American Revolution and of as less consequence than the next basketball game.

They are almost all Christians, many fundamentalist &/or evangelicals. Jews will not convert so it must be that they are being “punished by God” once again.

The really frightening truth that I saw in her face today is an utter lack of concern for the people and nation of Israel, for the Jews here and there. It’s the same lack of concern that my family members saw on the faces of their neighbors on 1 Sept 1941 at Polonnoye as they were rounded up and marched out to be shot in the mass graves by the railroad forest.

That may seem a far reach or paranoid reasoning to you. I believe that it is true. We saw the re-emergence of anti-intellectual, anti- anyone not Christian politics in 2008. We can see it in the uglier tea party mob signs. One only has to look.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

18 March 2010 Let’s make it OK for NASCAR wannabee’s to run red lights during race week

18 March 2010 Let’s make it OK for NASCAR wannabee’s to run red lights during race week

“Sullivan official wants Kingsport, Bluff City to shut cameras off for race week”

By J.H. Osborne and Matthew Lane

Published March 17th, 2010

“BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County Commissioner Moe Brotherton wants the city of Kingsport to turn off red light cameras on Fort Henry Drive this week to prevent race fans from having a bad experience.

Brotherton, at the Sullivan County Commission’s meeting earlier this week, said he’d like for County Mayor Steve Godsey to ask the city to turn the cameras off for race week.

“I think we need to make every effort to offer the race fans a good time in this area,” Brotherton said. “I don’t think they need to be paying $70 or $100 (traffic) tickets on a four-lane road when it’s not necessary.”

Brotherton also requested Godsey approach Bluff City about “cutting off” the town’s speed cameras on Highway 11-E this week — and the city of Bristol, Tenn., about “fees for parking permits for campers and stuff.”

“I’m sure these places can do without that revenue for a week to get the race fans to have a good time,” Brotherton said.

The two major NASCAR race weeks for events at Bristol Motor Speedway each year generate over $1 billion in economic impact for the region, Brotherton said, and BMS is “trying every way in the world to sell out” this weekend’s events.”

This, in case you might happen to wonder, is race week in N.E. TN. The Bristol Motor Speedway will be packed with fans who think that sitting in open-air bleacher seating, drinking gallons of beer, while their ability to hear is compromised by the noise produced by cars being driven in an oval pattern, is the height of fun. Don’t think that beer will be the only beverage available on-site. There will be lots of sugar-laden liquid available for those who want it. And even more importantly, there will be an ocean of “sugar-free” liquid consumed by thousands of people who think that drinking those toxic blends will somehow offset the 5000 calorie snacks they will inhale between meals.

There exists a population of sorts that follows the NASCAR tour about like Dead Heads followed The Grateful Dead from venue to venue. Local news reports seem to indicate that fewer people are following their favorite driver around the country these days. But there are enough still touring to fill up local campgrounds, overload local roads, and help local lodging and dining concerns remain busy in a season normally not known for tourism.

Which brings us to the article above. Apparently the good commissioner is more concerned that nothing bothers the NASCAR tourists than he is that those who run red lights be caught on camera and fined. Left out of the equation is the safety of those who drive the local roads.

As red light cameras are put into service in local towns and cities, there is a loud and poorly informed group of people certain to claim their “constitutional rights” are being abridged or “stolen” from them in the interest of raising revenue for local municipalities. The conspiracy theorists are eager to claim that local leaders have sold out by allowing out of town companies to install and service the red light cameras for a portion of the fines collected.

I know of nothing in the U.S. Constitution which grants the right to drive a motor vehicle, to exceed posted speed limits in said vehicle, or to violate traffic laws and regulations by refusing to stop for red lights or other traffic control devices. I don’t work for any agency or corporation involved with such cameras and fines but I have no objection to an out of town corporation installing, servicing, and profiting from cameras.

The Constitution does contain the 5th Amendment, allowing us to refuse to incriminate ourselves in testimony. So while driving through a camera-monitored intersection might conceivably be regarded as self-incrimination; no one is required to violate traffic laws, no one is required to visit those intersections that are posted as camera-controlled, and no one is required to drive a motor vehicle. While a photo documenting illegal behavior can be considered incriminating, no one was forced to engage in self-incrimination. All self-incrimination was voluntary. I don’t see the courts supporting the claims that such cameras are self incriminating.

I don’t believe that municipalities shorten the yellow light period in order to create more violations by light runners. But the conspiracy theorists are all willing to swallow that rumor too. It wouldn’t matter if the yellow light period were lengthened, something the objectors often suggest. That wouldn’t deter those idiots who have no plan to stop anyway.

I don’t worry about the yellow light length. I watch the intersection and try to adjust my speed to the traffic flow while looking at the traffic building up on cross streets as I approach. If there’s someone tailgating me I make a point of slowing down. Of course, it annoys the tailgater but makes it less likely they’ll hit me from behind. These are all things that I’ve learned decades ago in driver’s Ed, or from road experience since then. No arcane or secret information involved.

Nor do I have any real worries about out-of-town companies profiting from fines levied against people violating traffic laws. I’ve spent long hours pouring scarce blood into innocent people injured by idiots who thought they had every right to run red lights and/or stop signs. I’ve watched people lose life and limb, seen families ripped apart, all because some idiot thought that traffic laws were for others but not him/her. A fine for being caught on camera running a light? Works for me.

In fact, most of the people objecting to having their transgressions captured by an out of town or out of state company might just as often turn up a political rallies demanding health insurance companies be allowed to sell policies across state lines. It seems they don’t care as much for “free enterprise” when the cross-border transactions are flowing into someone else’s pockets. Rather funny how that works out.

I normally trust governments very little, and corporations not at all, to look out for the good of the common citizen. But in this case, I’m quite willing to trust the combination of government and private industry to augment law enforcement. I’m not worried about being caught on camera. I’m not worried about government invading my private life via cameras in this instance. The people who would be most likely to use cameras to invade my personal life are the ones objecting most to the use of traffic cameras. I doubt they’ve learned anything from this but I hope they will.

I won’t be attending the races this weekend. I don’t care for crowds. I don’t care for crowds with beer. I want to save what hearing I have left for music, not for motor noises. I’ve seen cars driven in oval and circular patterns. Don’t need the t-shirt and there won’t be a book.

From the comments addressed to the paper (link above) most people who took the time to comment opted for public safety over removing the cameras lest race fans be upset by being fined. Even this close to the race track there is hope.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

17 March 2010 Let’s drink to ol’ Jim Bridger

17 March 2010 Let’s drink to ol’ Jim Bridger

One of the true heroes of westward expansion, Jim Bridger was remembered primarily for his tall tales rather than for his many contributions to the discovery and mapping of the American West.

Born in Virginia, he was apprenticed to a blacksmith in Illinois after his family moved. At the age of 17 he signed on with the Ashley-Henry fur trading expedition with intent of becoming a fur trapper. Henry had other things in mind and Bridger was relegated to smithy work. He was tasked to look after Hugh Glass and bury Glass’s body after Glass wound up in second place in an encounter with a grizzly bear in present day Nebraska. John Fitzgerald, also left to care for Glass, persuaded Bridger to leave before Glass actually died. They took all his remaining equipment, as they would have if he had already died, and left him to die. Glass survived in an epic adventure of his own. He managed to confront and supposedly forgive Bridger. Bridger spent the rest of his life trying to live down that one blemish on his character committed at 17.

Trapping with William Sublette, Jedediah Smith, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Bridger was involved in the discovery of South Pass, the primary immigrant wagon pass over the Rockies. He took a dare in camp, rode a bull boat down the Bear River and discovered Great Salt Lake. He was instrumental in pioneering the Oregon Trail, the route used by the transcontinental railroad, a better alternative to the Bozeman trail.

After working for the Ashley-Henry Company and Smith, Jackson, & Sublette, working up from trapper to Brigade leader, Bridger bought into the Rocky Mountain Fur Company just in time to see the fur trade collapse and to see Vanderbilt’s American Fur Company become the sole major fur trading company in the US.

When Bridger quit the fur trade and founded Fort Bridger on the Oregon/California trail, the days of the mountain men were over. Bridger was later forced to leave his fort by the Mormons during their war with the U.s. The fort was re-captured by the U.S. Army but never returned to its original owner. Nor was he compensated for it.

Rather than offer an array of opinions and facts, I suggest anyone curious to learn more about Bridger begin here:

My midterm exam for History of the Holocaust found its way back to me this morning. I racked up 93/100 points for completing three essays. Someone pulled down a 95/100. I don’t know who they are or which combination of questions they answered. There were three sets of two questions. We were to select one from each set. I’d like to have set the bar but for the first exam involving this type of output on my part since 1972, I’m not displeased. Still, that I should rank 2nd out of 40 students is somewhat disturbing. I didn’t feel the exam was terribly difficult. It just took time to lay out the answers carefully. I don’t believe that grades are posted by name on bulletin boards anymore as they once were. I’m sure that political correctness must have halted that practice. I can still recall one of my clinical rotation classmates scratching my name from an exam grade list after I outranked her.

Gloria and I managed to meet for lunch today. It was a very nice break in the day. I always enjoy sitting across the table from her and watching her smile.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

16 March 2010 Who cares what Texas wants

16 March 2010

It is time to establish national standards, time to establish national ID’s, time to establish national professional licensure.

The current practice of professional licensure requirements for Dr’s, RN’s Clinical Lab Scientists, other health care professionals, attorney’s, and a host of other professions that demand high degrees of education and/or instruction being left to the individual states should be done away with. The knowledge base for a properly educated RN does not change from state to state. Anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, biochemical analysis, medical microbiology, and other core and special knowledge and skill sets remain the same regardless of what state a practitioner is standing in.

Driving skills necessary to drive a vehicle safely are the same in all states.

The basics of hand gun and long gun ownership and use are constant even though the regulations controlling who may buy and use firearms differ widely as one crosses state lines and even zip codes.

As the amount of information about individuals by means of instant on-line data base access grows, so does the rationality for national licensure whenever possible. Such standardization of licensure makes a great deal of sense but is guaranteed to anger the “states’ rights” crowd.

While the concept of “states’ rights” was necessary to convince some of our original states to become members of the new nation, most of the reasons for states acting as semi-autonomous agencies no longer remain valid except in hold-over capacities from the foundation days of the nation. What remains has allowed the wide disparity of educational requirements that regulate education in today’s U.S. We have created a system that allows local school boards to determine curricula, resulting in huge knowledge gaps from location to location. Schools in the northern U.S. generally provide a better basic education than those in the south. This was true during the years I was involved with my children’s education. I can’t voice personal experience now but listening to the products of various local schools I see no reason to change my assessment.

We need to establish national curricula for all grade levels designed to bring all local schools into compliance with the standards required to graduate from the top schools in the nation’s public school systems. We need to demand all students be provided with education in sciences and mathematics; and that they develop and maintain fluency in English. All high school graduates who can handle the academic challenge should be provided with a university level scholarship, to be available after 2-3 years of national service.

We need to realize and act upon the fact that not all students are going to be academically capable and most certainly not academically equal. There is no reason to place students who cannot master math and English skills into classrooms with those students who can. While “mainstreaming” and pretending that all students are equal may have made many parents with less capable children feel better, it does a disservice to the students and to the school systems. We need to return to older practices, college prep tracking for the academically capable and vocational schools for those who can’t or who don’t want to master university level work.

The current efforts by Texas school board members to revise history as taught in Texas so as to reflect the political views of the board’s majority, point out the very real need for both national standards and the necessity of having those standards developed by people who are recognized experts in sciences, mathematics, and particularly history. There must be no opportunity for anyone to apply a political overlay to our national or world history as taught in this nation. A lot of our history is less than enviable. The same is true of any nation. But we must block attempts to alter what we teach for reasons of political correctness just as we must maintain accuracy despite political opportunism or political advantage. Texas can serve as a warning beacon.

The concept of individual states licensing professions, trades, and privileges serves only to keep us mired in the past. We are one nation comprised of 50 states. We need to present a unified set of trade rules and regulations to other nations. A high school graduate should have the same capabilities and skills whether he graduated from a wealthy Massachusetts town or a dirt poor Arkansas rural district. We have the chance to mend some of the mistakes we’ve allowed to happen as we have tried to make this a nation to be proud of in all ways. I can only hope we are smart enough to realize that we need to demand the best of all students and ignore those who want to retain a status quo that clearly has not worked.

Monday, March 15, 2010

15 March 2010 Ide Ide Ide I Ide Ide Ide O!

15 March 2010 Ide Ide Ide I Ide Ide Ide O!

We returned to class today. I asked a series of questions concerning the behavior of Jews from Shtetls and the more urban areas of the Pale. I mentioned levels of resistance and reasons why there was some resistance but no broad scale self-defense or revolt in Ukraine. I was hoping to shake loose questions from other students but no such luck. Fritz took off on another tangent and we spent another day hearing about the internal struggles within the Nazi party and government. He knows modern German history but so far there has been little Jewish history brought to light in this course. I think I’m going to ask “how the Jews wound up in the Pale, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and the Balkans.” There must be something that will raise some curiosity in these students. There must be something that will cause Fritz to actually talk about the Jewish aspects of the Holocaust. He put the Polonnoe material I gave him onto his on-line syllabus. But I seriously doubt any of the undergrads will bother to look at it.

This class is turning out to be a source of real frustration.

Supposedly, Julius Caesar met his end on the 15th of March at the hands of the Roman Senate. The Senate apparently feared Caesar was intent upon seizing control of the Roman government and proclaiming himself Emperor. Whether from fear of his lust for power or because of their own lust for power, a committee of his friends and acquaintances decided to remove him from the chain of command. The various daggers and swords carried to the Senate that day made a short, brutal, and bloody end to any plans he might have had to seize power.

The assassination is immortalized in literature and in song:

“I was present when they mopped up Caesar’s gore,

When the Senators were skating round the floor.

It was I, who swiped the crown that he foolishly turned down,

And I hocked it with a Jew in Baltimore.”

This verse from the “Bragger’s Song” may contain some kernel of truth. There were Jews in Rome at the time of Caesar’s demise. Baltimore was some centuries distant. But Jews also can be found in Baltimore.

With all apologies to Cab Calloway and William Shakespeare, some perversions of the language and literature are simply too much fun to ignore.

For those too young to recall, Cab Calloway is famous for, among other things, a song named “Minnie the Moocher.” It’s been covered by many people but his version remains the best. Danny Kaye’s comes in second, and the rest really aren’t worth ranking.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

14 March 2010 Herd enough yet?

14 March 2010 Herd enough yet?

“March 9, 2010

Report: Facebook to add location features

Posted: 04:27 PM ET

Beginning next month, Facebook may start telling its users not only what their friends are doing, but also where they're doing it.

The New York Times' Bits Blog says the popular online social network will announce this "location-based" feature at its upcoming conference, called f8. The conference takes place April 21-22 in San Francisco.

Site users, according to the post, will be able to add their locations to status updates on Facebook.

Similar location services are an emerging trend with online social networks. Some Web sites, like foursquare and Gowalla, are dedicated largely to telling your online friends where you are at any given moment. This is seen by some as a helpful way for friends to find each other and meet up in real life. It's also regarded as an advertising opportunity for businesses that can convince customers to post about their store visits on the Internet.”

Humans are social animals, engineered by genetics to gravitate toward group life.

The tendency to function as a pack was pro-survival in the generations when we existed as hunter-gatherer clans of often-inbred extended families. The most lethal genetic combinations became readily apparent and were usually excluded from the chromosomal heritage passed down to evolving clans. We managed to last long enough for families and clans to grow into tribes and city states. Our ability to create and use language as a tool allowed us to pass on ideas and concepts to other tribes and to eventually adopt what they would share. At some point in the early history of human kind we learned to cooperate to accomplish tasks. At another we learned that sometimes a leadership structure or hierarchy was essential in order to accomplish anything. City-States grew in size and power, spread out into larger territories, and ruling classes developed based upon various criteria such as physical prowess, property and/or land ownership, ability to communicate with local deities – or to make everyone else believe that one possessed such ability. Merchant, farmer, soldier, priest, and royal classes became part of the structure of every city-state.

Along with this growth in population came an evolution in how humanity communicated. From the rudimentary face-to-face grunts that were language we progressed to writing as a means of transferring information to people not present. We sent such messages by courier at walking or running speed. The domestication of horses provided greater speed of transfer; boats allowed information to cross water barriers, carrier pigeons could transfer a very limited message but were faster than foot powered transfers. Along with flashing mirrors, signal flags, and a few other mechanical methods people on foot or on horse essentially carried most information from the beginning of recorded history up to the invention of the telegraph. Then, suddenly, a lot of information could be transmitted very rapidly, once the wires between A& B were in place. Then, at the opposite end, the message quite often was delivered to the end recipient at pedestrian speed.

In the last decades the rapid development of relatively cheap and relatively reliable cellular telephone service has provided almost everyone in an industrialized nation with the ability to misuse the ability to transmit verbal messages from place to place and person to person.

What this capability to chatter endlessly has spawned is the existence of social packs that make up for their lack of ability to locate one another by sight, scent, or sound, by wireless connection. The youngest generations have become so in need of constant pack contact that they spend hours using cell phones to send text messages back and forth before making any decision or taking any action. The pack must approve whatever it is the pack member wishes to do. The pack must know what every pack member is doing at all times.

Social networking sites feed into this pack behavior. Millions of people log onto one or more such service at least once a day to “update status.” Among the younger generations this can become a constant practice unless someone actually pries the means of communication from their fingers. Then they are all too often lost.

Yes, I recognize the moderate level of hypocrisy involved in posting this entry on a social networking site. Yes, Gloria and I have cell phones. The only time I’ve ever used mine to send a text message was on our last night in Vancouver while trying to meet my son for dinner. Because of where we live and how we use telephones we still maintain a landline. Cell service is very iffy in the mountains of TN. Yes, posting this entry and similar entries is a form of “status update” but it is rarely more than a once a day event. The only person I regularly consult by cell phone is Gloria and I’m careful to avoid driving while talking. Almost everything we need to relate to each other can be related once we are both home and face to face.

After spending long years on call for one laboratory or another I don’t want to be in constant contact with a horde of people. I can decide what to eat, where to shop, what road to take without input from a dozen people. I do not need and do not want that same dozen or an even greater number knowing where I am every minute of the day. I want to see the younger generations learn to act as individuals, to operate a car or truck without simultaneously talking to one, three, or more people. I want them to appreciate what a wonderful tool they have been handed far too early in their lives.

CNN in the article linked above asks the reader if the practice of uploading one’s location constantly is a good thing. I don’t want to come to rely on a monitoring system that is not geographically viable for any safety concerns I might think justify the plan. While I can think of some reasons revolving around safety for others, which any criminal with half a brain can rapidly work around; my answer is a loud and definite, “No!”

Saturday, March 13, 2010

13 March 2010 Don’t wait for Texas to secede again

13 March 2010 Don’t wait for Texas to secede again

“Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change


Published: March 12, 2010

AUSTIN, Tex. — After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light. “

“Cultural Rewind » Texas Adopts a More Conservative Curriculum

Texas Adopts a More Conservative Curriculum

posted at 3/12/2010 6:08 PM EST



First post: 11/12/2009

Last post: 3/12/2010

Total posts: 43 Texas is at the center of yet more cultural controversy over the content of textbooks after the State Board of Education adopted new, and more conservative standards for the teaching of history and other subjects. Dozens of changes to the curriculum will emphasize the role of Christianity in the founding of America and downplay the role of Hispanics and other minorities, according to reports.

“As part of the new curriculum,” says the AP, “the elected board — made up of lawyers, a dentist and a weekly newspaper publisher among others — rejected an attempt to ensure that children learn why the U.S. was founded on the principle of religious freedom.”

What role should professional educators play in the creation of these standards, and how much should be left to elected boards? “

What a timely find in light of yesterday’s entry!

Sometimes the words don’t come easily and other times something hands them to you like a gift-wrapped package.

I’m reminded of the many papers, magazine articles, and books published in the period 1950-80 about the use of school curricula as a means of indoctrination by those organizations within the USSR and the Communist Party responsible for education. The term “revisionist” was hurled frequently and vehemently by the host of anti-communist authors. The idea that anyone would want to alter history for political purposes was horrifying. The thought of using schools to advance a particular religion was felt to be nearly criminal.

Fast forward from the Nixon southern strategy’s implementation to the present day. The GOP has encouraged a near theocracy for decades now. Those churches that are most militant in their desire to convert the world have fallen happily in line and now have heroes in their ranks who would happily subvert our Constitution, and its essential 1st Amendment to the proclamations of a poorly translated sacred book. This power base has brought us to the point where our schools are too often prevented from teaching a valid science-based curriculum but where individual teachers feel free to interject their particular religious mythos into classrooms with no penalty.

It seems to me that the good folk of Texas have elevated some from among their own to replace the commissars of the USSR. Texas schools, far from being bastions of educational honesty and accuracy, will now become mechanisms for distorting not only Texas but U.S. and world history. They will also become extensions of churches. We’ll be shelling out taxes that Texas will receive and then use to establish a state religion.

I’m certain that the good folks of Texas would object if tax revenues were somehow used to advance recruitment and instruction of Texas students by the Roman Catholic Church. Yet a sizeable number of them see no harm in public schools being used to force education by a protestant sect; or that the sect in question is twisting history, banning valid biological studies, and refusing to acknowledge contributions to society by anyone who looks or prays differently from that sect. Sounds very similar to the USSR’s programming to me.

Texas may have been convinced by a power base of theocrats that our founding fathers were all Christians. The founders I learned about in those more fortunate days when historical accuracy was somewhat more valued knew of the danger of theocracy only too well. To expunge Jefferson from history texts and to replace him with the likes of Phyllis Schafly and a rehabilitated Joe McCarthy is on par with the exclusion of the Torah from public libraries because of its Jewish origin. It won’t be long until young Texans are taught that a blue-eyed, 6’4” Jesus spoke English and chased Mexicans from the Alamo alongside Sam Houston. Once you start revising, why stop until there’s nothing left to revise? After all, Jesus will be so busy deciding who wins high school football games that he’ll need someone else to help run the government.

Maybe we should replace that white star on the Texas flag with a red star.

Perhaps it is time for Texas to secede. I’m sure that Mexico would welcome them back with open arms. Of course, we’ll have to move our space center and all those military bases and equipment that are there now. But I’m sure there are equally educationally backward states to absorb the bases and the space center would do well in Colorado, Oklahoma, or New Mexico.

Friday, March 12, 2010

12 March 2010 Survey this

12 March 2010 Survey this

Today’s mail brought on solicitation from some anti-Obama front for the GOP. I tossed it into the trash unopened. In the same handful of junk was a survey that the DNC would like me to complete about “how I feel Obama has done,” and what priorities I place on foreign and national policies and programs. Then there was a shorter prioritization section about what the DNC’s priorities should be. Lastly there was a too-short space for comments and a large section begging for money. I filled it out, stuffed it into the pre-paid envelope, and will hand it back to the USPS tomorrow so that the DNC gets the benefit of my thoughts.

I think Obama has done a “good” job with regard to the economy. We’re still deeply in debt, going deeper, but the system didn’t melt down. Between Bush’s last minute bailout and the immediate repeat that Obama’s people believed to be necessary, the government is still functioning and most nations have avoided a repeat of the Great Depression. Of course, not calling it a depression blunts the reality. It should be labeled the “Reagan-Bush not-so-great depression.” Perhaps that awareness will trickle down yet.

He gets poor marks for not immediately restoring the banking and financial trading oversight and regulations that allowed the current problems to happen. Until he recognizes the necessity for re-regulation and tells the banks to shut up and accept the return to regulation that prevents the world’s average citizens being screwed by the bankers and traders; he will continue to receive a “poor” rating.

He also gets “poor” marks for job creations. The New Deal showed the way. Put people to work picking up trash, clearing rubble, anything that can be done by the un-educated or under-educated people needing weekly paychecks. The private sector will never provide jobs until they are forced to provide them in order to have people buy their products.

Foreign policy? “Poor marks”

Forget N. Korea until they sell a bomb to someone or launch a bomb-laden missile. Then sink the ship or derail the train, take out the truck, as needed, before it leaves N. Korea.

Iran? Sanctions and timely strikes against their nuclear plants. No more attempts to talk with them. Remind them that the Persian Empire lost to the West. They need to sell oil even more than we need to buy it. Blockade their ports.

Iraq? We’re done there. Pull out all of our equipment. Leave nothing useful behind. Load it all on our trucks and drive it to Israel until we can transport it elsewhere. Let Iraq settle its own future. If they destroy what’s left, it’s their problem now.

Israel? Recognize Jerusalem as the Capital city of Israel. Support them as allies, tell them a two state solution is expected and insist they implement it. The would-be-Palestinians can find a new capital city. They were late-comers to Jerusalem. Gaza belongs to Egypt. Tell them so. Israel needs to stop building settlements in the West Bank and should remove all the ultra-orthodox settlers just as was done in Gaza. Leave the buildings for the would-be-Palestinians, who will, sadly, probably destroy them as was done with the infrastructure left in Gaza.

How the rest of the world views us is not worth the travel and speeches that have happened or are planned. Show them our intent from here.

Domestic policy? “Poor marks”

We need to focus on putting people to work.

We need to pass health care reform and implement single payer national health insurance. The GOP, Blue Dogs, and insurance company can collectively stand aside or be publically pilloried as opposing affordable health care for our citizens.

Immigration, seal the southern borders. We have enough people needing jobs, education, and housing without providing them to Mexican citizens. Jail our citizens who hire illegals. End the practice of cities and churches offering “sanctuary.” We left the Dark Ages behind.

Education? We need national policies and standards for all public schools with increased demands for all students focusing on mathematics and sciences. Football, basketball, baseball, and other athletic programs should be done away with. We need the money for textbooks, not stadia. Europeans pay to belong to athletic teams in their various communities. They do not waste education funding on athletics. Any student capable of earning an academic scholarship should receive national funding to continue his or her education in the sciences, mathematics, literature, and other disciplines beneficial to the nation. Local school boards no longer work. We have too many situations where bias, religion, and poverty have resulted in schools that do not teach. We don’t need any more examples like Mississippi and Alabama.

We need new energy resources. Nuclear plants need to be constructed and brought up on-line. We need wind farms where ever possible. We need to upgrade public transportation in our cities and between cities. Ethanol is not a solution; quit paying for it.

Mr. Obama, you hold a unique place in our history. Sadly much of our population is bigoted, poorly educated, and prone to following demagogues like Limbaugh and Palin. They will never like you or even accept you. Yet you have the power to make huge changes. You could achieve greatness as well occupy the place you already hold. Recognize that opportunity and risk it all! Earn the “Excellent” you are capable of earning. Tell the GOP to “Go to Hell” and do what the nation needs you to do.

As for the DNC:

You’ve already blown it. You came to power with an unheard of majority in Congress and you let the GOP spin lies and panic between truth and the public. You let your own divisiveness and lack of courage cost us the future.

We needed banking regulations, health care reform, and economic reform. You showed us spineless, divided, selfish men and women more concerned with re-election than with the nation’s needs. You all deserve to be swept from office. Only the unqualified greed and lust for power of the GOP prevents me from wishing that you all be defeated.

We need progressive candidates at grass roots, local, state, and national levels. We need people willing to remain free of lobbyist entrapment, willing to vote for the people, not corporate backers.

We need Obama to quit worrying about re-election and to act presidential.

We need to unseat the GOP as a bloc. Which means that all the elected Democrats need to actually forget about re-election and do what we sent you there to do. Carry out the business and needs of the citizens, not that of Wall Street and K Street.