Sunday, February 09, 2020

America 2020 – Year 244 Since the Birth of the Republic

This ship of state is heading towards disaster with a deranged captain at the helm. By his side a coterie of white men, pockets flowing over with the gold of the realm, are directing this ill-equipped leader to whatever egomaniacal whim of the moment possesses him and them. Their passion, the amassing of staggering amounts of personal wealth while many of the nation’s people starve, with its armies of the homeless and the desperate, with its prisons filled to capacity with the dark-skinned and the poor, with the old and enfeebled on long lines at the soup kitchen, with health care a privilege and longevity a gift to those who can afford it.

The corporate class in full possession of all the keys that gain them unfettered access to the riches of the State. The political capitol glutted with lobbyists and a stunning array of merchants of greed. Money feverishly changing hands, transactions abounding in the marketplace with a wealth of get-rich-quick schemes and a paucity of productive ideas for the furtherment of the well-being of the species. Without an iota of compassion or concern for the plight of the those who suffer needlessly, without even the telltale of evidence of shame and guilt that should haunt them, power drinks from the endless reservoir of the labor of others and wreaks havoc upon the natural environment on this planet – our only home.

Everything is to be exploited, everything up for grabs, all is on the menu in the glorious and insatiable interest of profit. Even the wondrous beauty of the world of nature has been subjected to the laws of commerce and accumulation of wealth. Even the health and security of future generations is up for bids. Even the very future of the species is placed in serious jeopardy.

I have been demonstrating and arguing for a nation aligned with true equality for all and a penchant for peace, social justice and for sanity for over fifty years. I have been an outspoken advocate for civil rights in the midst of the turbulent 60s and for a repudiation of the onerous impact of Jim Crow. I was deeply involved with the anti-Vietnam War movement and still feel a deep sense of remorse for the millions of innocent lives lost at the hands of the United States using insidious weapons of mass destruction for the sake of our benighted capitalist vision for the world’s people.

Tens of millions of innocents have been consigned to a premature grave on account of the many unnecessary wars and brutal violence we have inflicted in many regions on the globe. I was newly born when the United States obliterated the two functioning and viable cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with apocalyptic atomic weapons. I was born when an entire people, American citizens of Japanese descent, were forcefully evacuated from their homes, stripped of their livelihoods and placed in so-called “internment camps.” We have yet to take ownership of these horrific examples of our use of military force and political oppression to secure our objectives. I have taken to the street innumerable times for civil rights, against war, for homosexual rights, for women’s rights and even in support of science.

Progress has been made, yet the hatred and bigotry, small-mindedness and sheer stupidity remain a significant aspect of the national character. Yet the private ownership of guns and assault weapons continues to grow. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) lives under different covers and the idea of white supremacy thrives within the wasteland that typifies so much of the national landscape.

Progress has been made in many areas of social life in the nation, yet its history is replete with horrific episodes of immense brutality including the imposition of slavery upon Africans physically abducted from their country and culture of origin. This condition lasted for almost two-hundred and fifty years. There are those who maintain to this day that slavery was, in fact, not a “bad thing.” Later in the nation’s history, black males were repeatedly lynched by lawless mobs for mostly unjustifiable reasons. These “events” were happily witnessed by spectators consisting of men, women and even children. The grotesque corpses hanging from trees were mutilated and horribly disfigured and postcards depicting this savagery were mailed to others highlighting these “celebrations.” Race riots occurred throughout the nation over many years in many locales in which blacks and other races were indiscriminately slaughtered for no other reason than the color of their skin or the origin of their birth.

Americans so proud of their heritage live on lands stolen from the Native American populations that were annihilated to the very point of extinction. A bogus war against Mexico was used as a way to acquire territory that now comprises a significant portion of the nation’s landmass. All this unspeakable violence was perpetrated against peoples that were determined to be of little worth for the sole purpose of accruing wealth and power - often suggesting that god was on the side of such evil. Americans so enamored by this land of, “the free and the brave” reside in a country that defoliated some twenty-five percent of the Vietnamese countryside during the Vietnam War so as to expose the enemy to military aircraft using the same substance, Agent Orange, that was later shown to be the causative agent of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). This country used burning gasoline (napalm) against Vietnamese civilian populations that could literally burn the skin off of a human body. Americans so convinced of the seeming invincibility of their economic system live in a country that destroyed the damns in North Korea during the Korean War that held water to irrigate rice lands that fed its people so as to instigate mass starvation. In this same war, nearly every major North Korean city was decimated with American-built bombs dropped from above by American-made airplanes. In this same war, millions of Koreans were killed. Americans inured to convenience and comfort live in a country that systematically destroyed the infrastructure of the entire county of Iraq during the Second Gulf War that was an unprovoked invasion and occupation of that country leading to the immediate and protracted death of hundreds of thousands of human beings. Americans so convinced of the freedoms they think they possess live in a country that used anti-personnel weapons and landmines over huge stretches of real estate in the tiny countries of Laos and Cambodia that are still killing innocent people to this day. Has America ever “owned up” to these horrors, taken responsibility for these acts of unspeakable cruelty or made any attempt at restitution? The answer to this is a resounding no.

America 2020 is now feeling the full weight of this history that has fashioned, shaped and directed the national temperament. The collective weight of these horrors perpetrated against so many peoples throughout the world – usually the poor and people of color – has stripped this nation of any noticeable degree of compassion and any sense of caring. The cumulative impact of this history has led us to this place – where fear dominates the national temperament. Where hundreds of millions of guns and assault weapons reside in the homes of many Americans. Where periodic acts of horrendous violence are perpetrated by those living on the periphery of the culture. There is an insidious ugliness driven by hatred and bigotry, violence and fear that exists not far below the surface in American life.

America 2020 is impaled upon the wrath, ignorance, hatred, bigotry and greed of its own making. America 2020 is now occupied by two disparate worldviews. One that feels that America is a country meant only for those who are “deserving” i.e. with appropriate whiteness in the color of their skin and that express a total loyalty and fealty to both god and country. The other side longs for reforms that will embrace all with a spirit of equality and justice.

Yet neither of these divergent camps express any sense of remorse, or guilt, compassion or shame for the burden of the nation’s past. Without this recognition of the full impact of the way we have conducted ourselves in the world, there is little hope for any kind of meaningful change. Without our collective willingness to discover the true meaning of who we are as a people, there is little chance of avoiding the abyss of our further decline.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Aristides de Sousa Mendes

In 1940, Europe was at the very center of political turmoil created by the rising tide of Fascism from its epicenter in Germany. At this time, it became abundantly clear to many European Jews that their future survival was at stake. In order to protect themselves and their families from what they envisioned as a horrific future, many sought to flee from their homes and livelihoods. At that time, their options and possible escape routes were dwindling.

On November 9 -10, 1938 the State-sanctioned violent attacks of Jewish businesses and institutions perpetrated by the German SA – Sturmabteilung or Storm Detachment - paramilitary forces and civilians occurred throughout the country. It became known as the Kristallnacht – the Night of Broken Glass. This served as a sign to many European Jews of the existential nature of the threat to their lives and safety. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. This act of aggression was the effective beginning of World War II and in June of 1940, Germany, Italy and Japan declared war upon Great Britain and France. On May 10 of 1940 German forces entered France and by June 25 of that year fully occupied the country,

One of the possible escape routes for those Jews attempting to flee from France was to obtain a Portuguese visa that would allow them to obtain safe passage through Spain to Lisbon. From Lisbon, they could then find refuge in other parts of the globe. Although Portugal officially proclaimed itself to be neutral in regard to the ensuing global conflict, the country was under the rule of a dictator, Antonio de Oliveira Salaza, who was, in fact, a Nazi sympathizer. Under his auspices a directive, Circular 14, was issued to all Portuguese diplomats stating that Jews, Russians and stateless persons would not be allowed to return to their countries of origin.

In spite of the prohibition against granting Portuguese visas to those wishing to flee from their Nazi oppressors, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese consul stationed in Bordeaux, France, chose to defy this order and freely granted visas to many thousands hoping to find safety in other parts of the world. In his own words, Mendes stated that, ““I would rather stand with God against Man than with Man against God.”

For this rebellious act, Mendes’ diplomatic status was revoked, and he was forbidden from practicing law. This punishment severely impacted the economic well-being of him and his family. As a result, the family was in such dire economic straits that an organization financed by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee fed the Mendes family in its soup kitchen.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes died on April 3rd, 1954 in dire poverty at the Franciscan Hospital in Lisbon. In spite of all the suffering he endured for acts of extreme bravery and courage in direct defiance of unspeakable evil, he proclaimed that, “I could not have acted otherwise, and I therefore accept all that has befallen me with love.”

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Crisis in America – A Blunt Discourse

The Senate trial regarding President Trump’s impeachment will soon be underway. To any discerning citizen of the United States, his guilt in matters of his articles of impeachment, as presented by the House of Representatives, is quite clear. This is thoroughly reinforced by the fact that the Administration has refused to hand over any subpoenaed documents to the House in its deliberations and is now being joined by the Republican-led Senate that has, to date, refused to bring forth witnesses like James Bolton who has already volunteered to give testimony. This obstruction can only be explained by the fact that there is something significant to hide.

If the trial proceeds in this manner and in fact the charges against Trump are summarily dismissed, this will undoubtedly usher in a new political era. If this mendacious and disturbed personality is allowed to continue representing this nation and its people around the world and permitted to continue to undermine supposed American values as a Democratic Republic, we may as well concede that the American experiment in creating a government by and for the people has failed.

It would suggest that we are perfectly content having a thug in the White House without sufficient mental capacity to conduct the reasoned, intelligent and the law-abiding functioning of government. It seems that the gradual and ineluctable ascension of corporate power into the political arena is nearly complete as evidenced by the fact that important government agencies essential to the well-being of the people have been subsumed by purely corporate interests. Corruption in government has become blatant and may prove to be irreversible.

We currently have government subject to the arbitrary fiat of a tyrant whose ties to the white supremacist movement should be alarming in and of itself. We currently have a government that cares little for the future, for the health and longevity of the natural environment and for basic human rights. We need to take better care of our people – all of them – if we expect our descendants to live in an environment supportive of a meaningful existence.

The question remains – will we, as a people allow this sad progression of events to proceed without our collective voice being heard? If this reprehensible individual currently occupying the White House is permitted to remain in his position and, more importantly, chosen once again to be our President, then we are collaborators in our own demise as a free and democratic people.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Australia is Burning and We Contemplate War with Iran?

Australia is suffering the seemingly endless wrath of severe fires and their accompanying firestorms. Many residents of this continent are being rescued by ships undertaking a massive relocation effort. There is little doubt that this set of circumstances are a direct consequence of human-caused climate change. This represents a clear and undeniable object lesson for the entire species on this beleaguered planet. This is a crisis of major proportions that needs to be addressed on a global scale.

Given the momentous significance of this unprecedented event, the supposed leader of the free world has essentially declared war on Iran, its culture and its people. He has gone so far as to threaten the aerial bombardment of the country of Iran even boasting that some of the 52 sites targeted by the military include places of deep cultural significance to the peoples of Iran – a clearly delineated war crime as outlined by international treaty.

This, in my mind, points to the absolute collective insanity of human societies in the modern world. For, we would rather remain mired in the destructive ways of the past and cling on to the worn and bankrupt ideologies bound to cultural and national identities than come together to face and resolve the most pressing issues facing all of the humankind.

War is, after all, a reckless and dangerous paradigm that speaks of the narrowest of thinking and depends upon extreme violence to resolve issues that are often contrived and manufactured by the powerful in order to maintain the status quo. Modern warfare leaves nothing but monumental carnage and destruction in its path. War effectively undermines the capacity of peoples from divergent cultures to come together to use human ingenuity, resourcefulness, creativity and intelligence to solve the ills that beset us.

If this is the path that is chosen, given the precarious nature of humanity’s viability on this wondrous planet, then future generations of humans will ultimately pay a horrific cost for this absolute lunacy.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

On the Nature of Subjective Reality

It is easy to convince ourselves that the reality we perceive exists outside of ourselves. This, however, is only partially true. The Scientific progress that has been made over the course of human civilization is a reflection of our growing understanding of the nature of the physical and biological universe that we inhabit. The sum total of the inescapable properties that have been discovered and those that are being studied, is representative of what I refer to as the “reality principle.” This reality principle exists as a fundamental aspect of the cosmos and, as such, is ever-present and is not dependent upon human existence for its sustenance.

However, with the dawning of self-consciousness that appeared during human evolution and that was a natural product of the growth of the complexity of the human brain, came the capability of the individual not only to assess his or her natural environment but also to interpret its significance and come to some conclusions regarding its value. Together with this quality of being, came another capacity that was an absolute requirement for a sentient being to co-exist within a chaotic universe. That corollary function was the ability to organize the incoming information (data) into an intelligible and comprehensible universe by imposing an apparent order to the chaos. This inner world represents a subjective reality unique to each individual human being. This subjective reality is shaped by many forces including genetic inheritance, cultural identity, external values transmitted by the greater society, individual life experiences and natural proclivities.

This need for order transcends the individual life and also embraces communal life; for it is the commonly held values and beliefs among individuals in the larger society that serves as the medium through which order is preserved and human civilization is possible. These communally-accepted norms are often collectively referred to as intersubjective reality – without it, social order would quickly devolve into chaos. It is for this reason that human civilization is a fragile state of existence. As an example, the American political emphasis on the supremacy of the individual even to the extent of the apparent absolute right to the individual ownership and use of deadly weapons, threatens the cohesiveness of the social contract as evidenced by periodic episodes of mass shootings.

For humanity, the evolution of self-consciousness has been a mixed blessing. It has on the one hand resulted in great strides being made in regard to our understanding of the universe in which we reside. Concomitant with these gains, however, history has documented the rise and precipitous fall of many human civilizations. In my mind, the ultimate test for the human kind will be in its ability to effectively embrace a global solution to the current climate crisis; for, in order to do this, the severity of the problem and the need for a solution would need to be incorporated as a fundamental aspect of the intersubjective reality of the entire species.

Monday, December 02, 2019

The Dumbing Down of America

As a nation, we are indeed in the midst of very troubling times. The current resident of the White House has clearly shown himself to be a demagogue espousing white supremacy and an individual with an extremely troubling array of personality disorders including pathological narcissism. His delusional state of mind has led him to believe that he alone is capable of deciding what is good for the nation while systematically discarding and demeaning the inner workings of government that are so essential for the successful implementation of well-reasoned and finely crafted public policy. His total disregard of the kinds of advice that a leader in such a position of global responsibility requires and his apparent inability to comprehend the nuances of complex issues has resulted in policy positions that have no real credibility. His unhinged contempt for the fundamental values that have heretofore sustained this Democratic Republic has injected a level of chaos and misdirection that seems to have no real historic equivalent or precedent.

To date, the implementation of his uninformed, misguided and essentially destructive point of view has resulted in the following –

· A decision to opt out of the Paris accords around Climate Change with signatories including approximately 200 nations based upon his conviction that this global threat is, a hoax in spite of the extreme weight of scientific data in support of the reality of this global crisis

· The cruel and insidious separation of immigrant children from their families at the nation’s southern border placing them in a horrific imprisoned environment so as to purposely discourage people fleeing from unsafe and violent circumstances from seeking asylum in the US. The lack of a reasoned policy around the issue of illegal immigration is purposeful and reflects a bigoted and white-supremacist point of view. This outlook also extends to Muslims worldwide

· An abysmal failure to address domestic gun violence, a clear demonstration of support of the use of torture in regard to the treatment of political prisoners and the legitimization of extra-legal killing on the part of military operations abroad

· The implementation of a crazy-quilt and chaotic array of trade policies that amounts to trade wars against a growing number of our trading partners. This chaotic state of affairs is a wholly predictable consequence of making policy on the fly without integrating the suggestions and advise from those with the appropriate experience and professional working knowledge

· The promulgation of foreign policy decisions made from conclusions drawn from uninformed sources with a complete disregard of the advice offered by experts from both the diplomatic core and the military establishment. The implementation of these initiatives has invariably led to disruption and disarray on the part of the nation’s career professionals and the international community at large

· The issuance of executive orders designed to undermine the regulatory policies instituted by the Obama administration demonstrating a blatant disregard for the progress that has been made in improving the quality of the natural environment. Apparently this President does not seem to have any concern for the health and safety of the American people or the sustainability of the ecosystem on which life depends. It should be remembered that this President was the same person who freely admitted to having conducted a fraudulent and prolonged investigation into the birth credentials of Barrack Obama for the sole purpose of discrediting a Black man with incomparable intellect and intelligence

· An apparently endless stream of abusive commentaries, blatantly false accusations, outright lies and distortions of reality - obviously a product delusional thinking and remarkable small-mindedness

· Finally, the illicit use of executive power to promote purely personal political ends and overt obstruction in regard to Congress’ oversight authority to the point of resulting in articles of impeachment being drawn against him.

In spite of all the incriminating and unassailable evidence that will be ultimately be presented to the US Senators during the upcoming impeachment trial, the majority of jurors is more than likely to allow this President to continue in office. Therefore, it will ultimately fall upon the electorate in the upcoming election to exercise their judgement and due diligence in choosing the next occupant of this office.

This President has shown himself to be not only completely inadequate for the powerful position he holds, but also poses a significant threat to the safety, stability and viability of a nation built upon democratic principles, the rule of law and a well formulated system of government with a balance of powers that lies at the very core of the nation’s Constitution.

He has effectively dumbed down the country to the extent that there is an entire major political party and a significant segment of the population that actually relishes and applauds this kind of leadership. This reality is exceedingly troubling. For, in any sane democratic society where the rule of law and justice prevail and the populace is sufficiently educated to make thoughtful and judicious decisions, such a disturbed, intellectually challenged, mendacious, bigoted, cruel, criminal and unbalanced personality would never have been chosen to fill a position of such enormous power and authority.

If we are not careful, we may end up with this man as President for a second term - a demagogue who will feel empowered to exercise power without the constraints ordinarily imposed by the Constitution of the United States.  This would certainly represent a new reality with the possibility of irrevocably transforming this country with no clear path back to the kind of country that the inspired leadership of Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Barrack Obama had envisioned.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Rule of Law in Serious Jeopardy

The United States was conceived by its founders as a Democratic Republic with its political structure carefully delineated in the nation’s Constitution. This model has held up for 230 years weathering many difficulties including a devastating and debilitating civil war that a significant region of the country has yet to overcome. The nation is currently in the midst of a deep and corrosive crisis that has left the country dangerously polarized. This kind of internal schism has happened before over such issues as civil and minority rights and the Vietnam War. However, the rule of law has prevailed in the past and preserved the union. Civil society especially in a democracy cannot thrive without the bulwark that a system of law provides.

What is particularly onerous about the current political climate is that the rule of law is in serious jeopardy. The evidence that has accumulated regarding the actions taken by the President over the length of his administration to date has ineluctably led to the House of Representatives conducting an impeachment inquiry. This inquiry has shown, through the sworn testimony of impeccable witnesses from the government, especially from the State Department, that the President has acted counter to his primary function as protector and defender of the U.S. Constitution, and, as a matter of fact, has put his personal interest and political ambitions ahead of his duties as President, obstructed justice on his own behalf and went so far as to directly intimidate a witness in the midst of her testimony.

In spite of this incriminating data, the Republican Party has continued to defend his actions with the serious implication that his continued unlawful behavior is acceptable, and he should be allowed to remain as the nation’s President. It is clear, at this point, that the House definitely will go on to impeach him. The leadership of the Senate is now in the possession of the Republican Party and its leader has already suggested the outcome of the forthcoming trail regardless of the evidence that will be put before them. If this outcome transpires, the message is clear – The President is above the law and immune to any consequences of his illegal behavior. This is a path we should not go down as a nation and a people. Without the rule of law, civil society cannot function. In effect, we would have a totally corrupt government with no apparent accountability.

Should the above scenario occur, it would then be up to the electorate to voice their disapproval at the upcoming general election. In my estimation, should this man be re-elected, the nation we have assumed to represent our values and democratic sensibilities will no longer exist. It would have been successfully supplanted by something onerous and inimical to our future prospects as a sane and sustainable society. In such a corrosive environment, “a nation of, by and for the people” will no longer be extant.