Monthly Archives: October 2015

CAMPAIGN FOLLIES

In less than 100 days, the first primary voting takes place, to nominate two people, one of which will become the next president of the United States in November 2016. It’s the good old Iowa caucus, where a relatively small handful of people will kick off the voting season by giving a leg up to the winning candidates. I’ve written several times before about how a “caucus” is so bizarre that any third or fourth world banana republic would be too ashamed to employ such a method in choosing their elected officials. Essentially, a few people show up at a usually empty school house on a Saturday, and raise their hands in approval when their preferred candidate name is called. Or maybe they’re asked to stand in an area designated as their candidate’s space, and a head count is taken. Despite the fact that Iowa is a small state to begin with, and only just a fraction of that population bothers to show up and vote in the first place, obviously doesn’t dissuade the media from over-hyping the results of that odd-ball event. The winning candidates will gain “momentum” from this absurdity.

The interesting fact about the coming Iowa caucus, however, is that the latest polls show that Ben Carson has moved into the lead. Ahead of the bloviating, bellicose, bullying that has come to signify Donald Trump’s candidacy. So much for Trump’s supposed invincibility. The reason given by the media for Carson’s lead is that Republicans in Iowa are universally bible-thumpers. Ben Carson is a Seventh-day-Adventist, which is like being a Mormon on steroids. Seventh-day-Adventists make Southern Baptists look like secular humanists.

The Seventh-day Adventist movement started in the 1840s, when a Baptist preacher named William Miller predicted that Jesus would descend and sweep up into heaven those that were his faithful followers. Miller predicted the time and place where this event would occur, and urged those who were pure of heart to congregate at that location at that time. But the kicker was, that to prove one was pure of heart, he or she would have to give away all their earthly possessions, and arrive at the designated area, penniless. Several hundred people did just that, only to be bitterly disappointed when Jesus was a no-show. Seems he got caught up in a game of Texas hold-em with the arch-angels, and completely lost track of time. You know how compelling a good game of poker can become.

Not to be discouraged, a disciple of Miller named Samuel Snow, publicly stated that Miller was essentially right; but he had just miscalculated the time and place where this great ascendency was to transpire. Using more “scientific” methods, Snow gave a new, more precise time and location when the great schlep up to heaven would occur. This time thousands of people showed up at the designated spot, also after giving away all their earthly possessions. Only to be disappointed once again. Seems that Jesus had a rough night and failed to hear the alarm clock go off, thereby missing his appointment. But proving that nothing succeeds like failure, all these shenanigans gave birth to the Church of Seventh-day-Adventists, with about 2 million adherents in the U.S. and about 20 million world-wide. And explaining why Iowa holy-rollers have a great affinity for the Carson candidacy.

The trouble is, that while Ben Carson may have been a brilliant neurosurgeon, he has had no experience in the political arena and has some incredibly naive views of of how the world spins. He has equated Obamacare with the horrors of slavery in this country. He has stated that Jews in Nazi Germany could have avoided the Holocaust if Hitler hadn’t taken their guns away. The problem was gun control, not the darkest evils of Nazism, and Hitler’s fanatical hatred of Jews. Yes, if only the Jews had kept their pistols, they could have fought off the Nazi tanks rolling down their streets to pick them up and send them off to the concentration camps. It seems that every time Carson opens his mouth, more political gaffes come tumbling out.

The rest of the Republican field seems mired down in minutiae. Jeb Bush, who at the outset was supposedly the favorite to become the nominee, has seen his poll numbers sinking faster than my blood-sugar levels when I’ve gone too long without eating. His problem is that he has to keep defending brother George’s actions as president. Especially the whole invasion of Iraq fiasco, where we’re still sunk into that never-ending quagmire to this day. Carly Fiorina surged for awhile but has fallen back now that her record as CEO of Hewlitt-Packard has been exposed. The job she was eventually fired from because of some very bad decisions. Marco Rubio, who probably would be the most charismatic Republican choice, can’t seem to attract enough big money to engage in a viable, high-profile campaign. As I’ve said many times, in U.S. politics, the winner is usually the best candidate that money can buy. If one can’t attract enough big-money interests, their candidacy is done. The rest of the Republican field is comprised of pygmies usually polling at less than one percent. Such as Bobby Jindal, soon to be ex-governor of Louisiana, who is becoming more and more despised by the people of his own state.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton seems to pretty much have a lock on the nomination now that Veep Joe Biden is out of the picture. Bernie Sanders continues to put on a good show, but in the end, even Democrats are not going to give an avowed Socialist the nomination. The problem is, that with the FBI still investigating her email antics, i.e. putting classified, official government emails on a private server in her home, the Democrats could wind-up with a candidate that is under a Federal felony indictment. Now that would be a first in U.S. political history. Who would the Democrats turn to under that scenario.

So there you have. The latest version of the Ringling Bros., Barnum&Bailey Circus, better known as the American political landscape. Stay tuned, as the circus antics are just beginning.

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NEW VICTIMS…SAME OLD HATREDS

It is said that hate is so insidious, that it hollows out from the inside, the container it’s held in. Once a person invests his or her soul in hatred, it’s virtually a bottomless pit that one can rarely crawl out of. That person then becomes a mere shell of a human form, with his or her insides totally corroded and eaten away. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Mid-East, which has become an all-encompassing cauldron for the most deep-seated of hatreds and revenge-seeking. And it’s not just Arab versus Jew. It’s also one sect of Islam trying to destroy a different sect of Islam although both sects pray to Allah with the same level of devotion. For example, in Syria, almost a quarter of a million inhabitants have been slaughtered in an on-going 4 year old civil war pitting the Sunni faction of Islam against the the Shia faction. Yet both sects pray to Allah and generally follow the same Islamic trappings and customs. Similar mortal combats between Shia and Sunni are also occurring in Yemen, Iraq, and Libya. Sadly, when such hatred spills over the top of the vat, people are fated to die. Nowhere, however,  is the lust for hatred and vengeance more pronounced than in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Between Arabs and Jews. As we all know, this has led to an outbreak over the last few weeks of mostly young Palestinians mindlessly attacking  and killing Jews with knives and guns, and in turn, usually being shot dead by Israeli police. The attacks are mainly on civilians peacefully going about their business. So far the death tolls have been about 10 Israelis and 25 Palestinians; but there seems to be no end in sight. The attackers are sometimes as young as 15 or 16. Teenagers willing to so recklessly throw their lives away in an act of delusional fantasy about achieving vengeance against the hated Jews, and martyrdom before Allah. And why not? Arab children are brainwashed from their earliest age to despise Jews, and that their greatest glory would be to become martyrs by killing as many Jews as possible.

The head of the Palestinian territories, Mahmoud Abbas, recently stated that he cherishes every drop of blood spilt in Jerusalem. Arab children from ages 2 or 3 are taught that Jews are to be despised as beasts. That Hebrew rabbis seek to slit the throats of Arab children and drink their blood. That Jews are desecrating Arab holy lands by their occupation, and must be killed or otherwise be driven into the sea in order to re-purify those lands. That Allah’s greatest wish is for martyrdom to be achieved by spilling Jewish blood, and if these children succeed in that objective, a special place in heaven will be set aside for them. Virtually all Moslem political and religious figures throughout the Mid-East preach this same message; and it’s been ongoing since the end of WWII, when the state of Israel was created by the United Nations. Almost 70 years of pure, undiluted hatred and vengeance-seeking that has resulted in nothing but death, destruction and misery for both sides. Almost 70 years of a failed policy that Arab leaders refuse to disown.

The United States position in this long conflict has come to be known as the two-state solution. Have Israel give the Palestinians total control over the West Bank and Gaza, and let them form their own nation. The trouble with that premise is, that in this realm of pure hatred, it’s plainly unworkable. Israel did just that in the Gaza Strip and the result has been 3 wars and the loss of thousands of lives. As soon as Gaza was free of Israeli occupation, the people living there turned over the reigns of government to Hamas, a terrorist organization. Hamas’s first priority was to acquire thousands of rockets that could be launched against Israeli civilian population centers. As I said, they did this 3 times with the same resulting death, destruction and misery for both sides. Hamas’s second priority was to dig 30 mile long tunnels into Israel so their terrorist thugs could sneak across the border and murder Israelis sleeping in their beds. It would appear that there is just too much hatred for a two state solution to be a feasible option.

Nevertheless, the Obama Administration, with the most timid foreign policy objectives of any administration since WWII, continues to push for a two-state solution. It doesn’t seem to matter that under this administration, U.S. foreign policy objectives have been a total disaster. Obama’s failure to act in Syria, when Assad, the butcher, crossed Obama’s red line in the sand, has let to the loss of the 250,000 lives I mentioned earlier. It has led to Russian entry into that war, in behalf of Assad, with virtually no U.S. complaint. It has led to ISIS, Al-Qaida and other assorted terrorist organizations establishing an Islamic “caliphate” in huge chunks of Iraq and Syria, with the most minimal of U.S. counter-actions. To the most brutal and barbaric killings of innocents by these terrorists.To on-going civil wars in Yemen and Libya with no U.S. counter-action. To allowing Russia’s tyrant, Vladimir Putin, to slowly but surely chew up the Ukraine with hardly a peep from U.S. officials. To a deal with Iran that would supposedly prevent it from achieving nuclear bombs, in return for unfreezing about $150 billion of Iranian assets held by U.S. banks. A deal which looks more and more flawed with each passing day. And so it goes.

A two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinan conflict will never materialize because there is just too much hatred, rancor, despair, vengeance-seeking, etc. to allow such a solution. Over the next couple of decades a one-state solution may occur, with Israel absorbing the West Bank with its large Arab population. Jews would still have a narrow majority of the population in such a nation, but with Arab births exceeding the Jewish rate, that majority could easily slip away. When that happens, it would well behoove Israeli Jews to immigrate to the U.S., and move into the vast, unpopulated areas of Nevada, Montana, and other similar states.

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ODDS AND ENDS (THAT ARE MOSTLY ODD)

Pope Francis recent visits to the Americas and to the U.S. were considered overwhelming successes by most people in this country as well as those throughout the hemispheres. But there is a large contingent in the U.S., of mainly Republicans and other far-right-wing dingbats that were quite upset about many of the Pope’s remarks and, accordingly, bad-mouthed his actions. The Pope shockingly seemed to put all his emphasis on helping the poor, and his worst heresy was actually advocating to save the ecology of this planet from further desecration. My God, what was he thinking. Surely he must have known that that when Jesus walked the Earth he wore nothing but the finest silk robes embroidered with gold and expensive jewels such as diamonds and rubies. That he and his entourage would only stay in the most elite 5-star hotels. And that his preaching and sermonizing were almost always before corporate CEOs, Boards of Directors, and Hedge Fund Managers where he invariably advocated for trickle-down economics and tax cuts for the rich. No, you say? It was just the opposite? That he and his disciples wore mainly rags and slept in open fields or where some follower could provide them with sleeping quarters. That his sermons always seemed to focus on assisting the poor. Imagine that. It might explain why this pope (unlike previous ones) is so emphatic about identifying and being critical of the worst abuses of our capitalistic form of economics which so heavily tilts toward the rich. Who knows? Some people living outside of right-wing looney-tunesville might actually take his words to heart.

With yet the latest atrocity being committed at a rustic Oregon school by, once again, another deranged individual, the subject of gun control, as always, springs to the forefront. President Obama and other assorted liberals take to the podiums to, predictably decry our appalling lack of gun control legislation, while the National Rifle Association and other gun nuts say the problem is too few guns, and that any tightening of gun control laws would be a violation of their infamous Second Amendment rights. And, sadly, it’s the gun nuts that always seem to carry the day. But there is one set of statistics that need to be pounded into American heads if any progress is to be achieved. At 320 million, the U.S. comprises less than 5% of the world’s population. Yet more than 50% of all the guns that exist on this planet reside in the U.S. That explains it all. The U.S. is awash with guns so that the ensuing chaos that gun proliferation causes, comes as no surprise. A new book on gun control, just out, refers to this situation as the “wellspring of crazy.” It’s hard to top that phrase for imagery.

The main problem here is that the U.S. has a gun fetish. A fetish is a compulsion so strong, that most people that have them cannot rid themselves of it. For example, there are many sexual fetishes such as bondage, sado-masochism, spanking, etc. that are used in role playing. Most are harmless and rarely lead to adverse consequences. But a gun fetish is something else. It becomes a total exercise in fanaticism as shown in the expression of many gun owners that, “if they come after my gun, they’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers.” The American gun fetish probably began when the West was being settled, and the settlers had to often fight off Indian raids or outlaws. Those threats are now gone, but the fetish lives on.

Gun advocates like to point out that those jurisdictions that do have strict gun control laws, like New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago, often have the highest crime and murder rates to go along with those laws. They aver that no matter how strict gun laws are, the bad guys will always be able to get their hands on these weapons. But that argument is superfluous. It does little good for one place to have strict gun laws, if one can merely take a short ride into the next jurisdiction and buy all the guns he or she desires. If Illinois has strict gun control, a short hop over to Indiana will remedy that situation. To be effective gun control must blanket the entire country. One other oddity to those killings in Oregon. One of those murdered was a professor that had relocated to these Oregon boondocks from N.Y. City. I’m sure he felt he was getting out one of largest crime hubs of the country, into the safety of some backwater Rubesville. Funny how fate is always determined to play out the cards it’s holding.

One last item. In the on-going, never-ending war in Afghanistan, the U.S. has just bombed a hospital run by the humanitarian organization known as “Doctors-Without-Borders.” Over 20 people were killed in this brainless, mind-boggling act of ineptitude and carelessness. We could chalk it up to collateral damage, as the war advocates proclaim. I would sooner chalk it up to futility of war in general, however, and U.S. impotence in defeating the Taliban thugs and serial killers we’ve been fighting against-14 years later since we began that war. Although there undoubtably have been wars since the beginning of mankind, the first war recorded in history occurred over 4700 years ago. Not much has changed since then, except for maybe the weaponry.

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