Israeli-Palestinan Relations

HOLIER-THAN-THOU

In October 1994, 23 years ago, a woman in South Carolina became infamous due to inflicting one of the more significant atrocities of  that decade on the American landscape. Her name was Susan Smith and the heinous act she committed was driving her car into a nearby lake until it was submerged. Oh, did I fail to mention that her two baby sons, aged three and one, were strapped into the back seat of the car and obviously drowned in very short order. Susan, however, escaped the sinking car, uninjured. Imagine the devastated father coming home from work only to be confronted with this horror. It was a living nightmare that he could never escape from. This criminal atrocity made headlines across the country as the enormity of such a tragedy caught the public’s deep fascination for weeks, during which Susan was brought to trial, convicted of first degree murder, and sentenced to 30 years in prison. As of today, she’s still a guest of the South Carolina penal system.

But what was most interesting was Susan Smith’s motive for committing such an inhumane act. That she was deranged went without saying. It took awhile, but the source of this derangement was finally brought out into the open. It seems that her father, a pillar of the community, had raped her when she was a child. Her father, who was a church deacon, and who was prominent in Republican politics in S.C., turned out to be a rapist of the worst kind. Short of murder, a man couldn’t commit a more evil act than to rape one’s daughter, especially when she was a defenseless child. To make matters worse, the statute of limitations had long since expired on those heinous acts, and the rapist pillar of the community got off scot free. Hence, the ramifications of of what Susan Smith’s father did to her as a child, played out a decade or two later with the murder of two innocent babies. During which time, of course, her father maintained his religious virtuosity to its fullest extent.

Which brings us to the current political fiasco on-going in the state of Alabama. As I wrote last time, Roy Moore, who is the epitome of a right-wing, holier-than-thou, bible thumper, won the Republican primary for the open Senate seat in that state. Since it’s virtually automatic that the Republican nominee always wins the general election, (given the dismal state of the Democratic Party throughout the South), Moore was already buying his plane ticket for his swearing-in ceremony in Washington. Now, however, a glitch has suddenly arose. Two women have come forward to contend that Moore sexually molested them when they were teenagers, almost 20 years ago. Moore, it seems, who is still debating within himself whether homosexuals should be hung for their affront to God, got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Of course, Moore and his wife adamantly deny the accusations, as do virtually every prominent right-wing whacko throughout the country. From Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity to Jerry Falwell Jr., they’re all unanimous that such a fine specimen of “conservatism” could never have indulged himself in the manner that he’s being accused of. But one religious nut case put forth the best spin I’ve heard yet, regarding these accusations. He stated that that if Moore did have sex with those young women, it would be the same as when the “Holy Ghost” had sex with a teen-aged Mary in order to produce Jesus. Who knew that the “Holy Ghost,” one-third of the “Trinity,” could be put on trial for sex crimes. Although, since it happened 2000 years ago, I guess the statute of limitations has run out on that act too.

In any event it will be fascinating to see whether the wholesome bible-thumpers of Alabama will still elect Moore to the U.S. Senate. Even Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate Majority Leader and not exactly a paragon of virtue, has come out in defense of the women that Moore molested, stating that he believes their accusations are true. But while some sexual preditors such as Harvey Weinstein are ruined when the truth sees the light of day, others such as our illustrious president seem to thrive on accusations of sexual depravity. The best example of all is, of course, Donald Trump bragging on an open mic about grabbing women’s pussies, and his sense of entitlement when it comes to having his way with women. All that episode did was improve his poll numbers, and smoothen his road to the White House, especially with the evangelical, bible-thumping crowd. Hypocrisy is apparently limitless.

Many years ago, their was an off-Broadway musical farce called “Nunsense.” It featured a group of “Nuns” singing and dancing about their lives within the church. The closing number was called-“Holier-Than-Thou”- whereby each Nun, in song and dance, would explain certain acts she performed that made her more holy than her counterparts. Very amusing when it comes as part of a Broadway musical. Not so amusing when it’s ingrained into the very fabric of life in our society by our political and social leaders.

And by the way, if Roy Moore is elected, will we have a national debate about whether to hang gays? Stay tuned.

 

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Categories: A malfunctioning psche, Economics, Health Care, Obamacare, Huey Long, Franklin Roosevelt, Great Depression, The Kingfish,Donald Trump, human affairs, Isis terrorist attack in Paris,, Israeli-Palestinan Relations, politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

THE COST OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH

The American Civil Liberties Union has been taking a lot of heat recently for defending the free speech rights of Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other low-life scum in places and events such as the recently concluded uproar and demonstrations in Charlottesville VA. As far as the ACLU is concerned, the principle of every American having the right to freedom of speech, as embodied in the first amendment to the Constitution, is sacred and never to be “abridged” as the Constitution states, no matter how vile, vulgar or bigoted that speech may be. Of course, free speech rights are “abridged” virtually every day in common sense ways that the framers of the Constitution never envisioned. For example, try verbally threatening someones life, and see how fast you wind up in the clink should the cops overhear that threat. Or try crying out “fire” in a crowded theater when there isn’t one, and you will also accrue that same jail house experience. To say nothing of all the civil libel actions that could brought against you should you wrongfully defame someone’s character. Because of all the backlash received from the Charlottesville experience, even the ACLU may now be reconsidering its long-standing position regarding the sacredness of the first amendment. So let’s go back a century and see the consequences, end results and havoc that unbridled freedom of speech can lead to.

The year is 1919, and WWI has recently ended with Germany’s unconditional surrender in 1918. The Allies have inflicted harsh punishment on Germany, through the Treaty of Versailles, for instigating the war in the first place. One of the provisions of that treaty was that Germany would not be allowed to militarily re-arm without permission of the Allied countries. The German economy is a disaster as a result of that war, with a combination of rampant inflation and high unemployment. The Allies refuse to provide any economic aid to help Germany recover. A young German corporeal, (originally from Austria) who was wounded toward the end of the war, finds himself with little money and no job prospects upon being released from the hospital. Although he fought for four years, he could only achieve the rank of Corporeal whereas almost all other recruits in similar circumstances rose to at least the rank of Sergeant. In his younger days he fancied himself as an artist; but his paintings were mediocre at best and certainly not salable.

With no particular job skills, and virtually out of money, the ex-Corporeal, in desperation, visits an office of the German government’s bureaucracy in Berlin and practically begs for some type of work whereby he could earn a paycheck. At first he’s denied, but finally the head bureaucrat agrees to give him some work. He tells the ex-Corporeal that a fringe element of rabble-rousing morons, calling themselves the German Workers Party, is trying stir up unrest against the government because of the existing deplorable economic conditions. While the bureaucrat believes the movement is really too small for the government to be concerned, just to make sure, he would pay the ex-Corporeal to attend one of their meetings and report back his findings.

So ex-Corporeal Adolf Hitler agrees to sit in on the next gathering of the German Workers Party. There are less than 20 people in attendance. Various attendees give speeches about Germany’s dismal current state of affairs, but they all revolve around the same themes. Germany’s predicament was due to two major factors-the harsh treatment at the hands of the Allies through the Treaty of Versailles, and, of course, because of the Jews. The same Jews that constituted about 3% of the German population, and were almost all peaceful shopkeepers or teachers. The demonization of Jews throughout, not only Germany, but virtually all of Europe, had been a universal imperative almost since the crucifixion of Jesus, or for nearly 2000 years. While the speech-givers at that get-together were amateurs, Hitler liked what he heard. They jibed almost exactly with his own prejudices and deep-seated hatred of all Jews.

Hitler never did report his findings back to the bureaucrat that hired him. Instead he continued to attend meetings of the German Workers Party, and began making impassioned speeches of his own, castigating both the Allies and the Jews. Hitler found that he had a natural talent for speechifying and demagoguery. Soon, as word spread, hundreds of people and then thousands, began attending these meetings, to hear Hitler demonize the Jews and Allied powers. Hitler quickly rose to top party leadership, and renamed the German Workers Party as the National Socialist, or Nazi Party. And in a particularly brilliant public relations move, he found an ancient tribal symbol, and adopted as the insignia of his newly formed Nazi Party. It came to be known as the Swastika, and it began popping up everywhere-on armbands, flags, shirts, etc. Since Germany had a rich cultural history, especially in music, philosophy, literature, and education, most Germans considered Hitler a fringe crackpot during the 1920s. But as Swastika armbands and flags began showing up more and more in the public square, greater numbers of Germans began paying more attention to Hitler’s impassioned vitriol and demagoguery, and Nazi power and popularity exploded throughout German cities. For those that were unbelievers, Hitler had formed gangs of Nazi goon squads, called the brownshirts, that roamed throughout Germany beating up or other wise terrorizing any and all opponents.

By 1933, due to unbridled German political machinations, the former ex-Corporeal from WWI, ascended to the German Chancellory and within months used his power to become absolute dictator. And as the saying goes, the rest is history. Hitler broke every provision of the Treaty of Versailles, especially when it came to vastly re-arming Germany. The Allies, by comparison, stood by and did nothing. By 1939, Hitler felt he was powerful enough to initiate WWII which eventually would kill 60 million people on the European continent alone. About 6 million Jews died in German concentration camps during the Hitler-initiated Holocaust. Millions of American and other Allied forces were slaughtered on European battlefields. And it all began with the demagogic power of freedom of speech.

So the next time you hear someone defend the unbridled and unconstrained ideal of free speech, you might want to point out how that ideal led to the greatest slaughter, tragedy and misery in the history mankind. Germany, today, 70 years after the end of WWII, is a thriving democracy; but its constitution forbids the advocacy of Nazism in any way, shape or form. And yet, it seems to perform quite well, even with this constitutional prohibition.

Categories: A malfunctioning psche, Ben Franklin, The Constitution, Monarchies, Economics, human affairs, Israeli-Palestinan Relations, politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

THE UN-TRUMP

As the Trump Administration lurches from one pending disaster to the next, the latest being the ill-conceived firing of FBI Director James Comey, one would think that the Democrats would have at least several young, ambitious, potential candidates to challenge The Donald in the next scheduled mud-wrestling challenge. Sadly, the Democrats appear to be too demoralized and apathetic to even enter the arena. They’re truly in a state of shambles. There seems to be no Young Lochinvar to ride in from the west on his trusty steed to save the country from the machinations of a demagogic president and his henchmen. But if there were such a bold, brazen Democratic senator for example, he or she might want to pursue the following path to a likely victory come the next election. He or she could start out by visiting college campuses and deliver the following speech.

“Good evening fellow students of LSU. I say fellow students because I am an alumni of this fine institution, being an under-graduate not that many years ago. Let me start off by saying that I am the Un-Trump. I live in a state of reality and sanity, rather than in a parallel universe of delusional paranoia. I don’t indulge in pathological narcissism, and I don’t try to cover-up wrong-doings that might of occurred on my watch with serial mendacity. I don’t indulge, every other day, in Twitter tirades against perceived critics or enemies, with all the fervor of an adolescent teen-ager whose ego has been absurdly bruised. I would not continue on the campaign trail long after the election is over, in a pathetic attempt to boost my sagging poll numbers. I would not enlist the help of Russia or any other country to hack my opponents computers or otherwise spread false news to assist my election effort. I would not attempt to bar peaceful citizens of any country, or nationality or religion from entering the U.S. for legitimate reasons. And if I am elected your president, I would not have members of the Alt-Right white supremacist movement as my closest advisors in the White House. To the contrary, I would employ the strongest of civil rights advocates. As I’ve said, I am The Un-Trump.

“And one other matter above all else. I surely would never build that hideous 2000 mile monstrosity on the Mexican border that will become known as the Trump Wall, if it does become a reality. Erecting such a barrier would not only be the biggest boondoggle in U.S. history, costing tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money, its effectiveness in keeping out criminals or terrorists would range between negligible to non-existent. And that’s one of the reasons I’m appearing before you tonight. I need your help in assuring that the Trump Wall never becomes a reality. If, in fact, it appears that construction is about to begin on this fiasco, who among you will join me at the Mexican border to stand in the way of the tractors and earth-movers. In civil protest and disobedience, Ghandi-style. If a few thousand of us come down to the border and stand in the way of construction crews, this wall will not be built. Perhaps, if as many as 10 or 20 or 50 or even 100 thousand people show up to block construction, this hideous wall will never see the light of day. They couldn’t possibly lock up that many protesters. But remember, this would be an act of civil disobedience, with emphasis on “civil.” There can be absolutely no violence on our part, which would only serve to discredit such a protest. It must be 100% civil, the way Ghandi employed such tactics to free India from British colonial rule.

“In coming weeks I plan to visit more college campuses and other venues to elicit as much support as I can to block this impending insanity. So I ask, one more time, who will join with me in this act of conscience. Let me see a show of hands. Ahh, good. I see most of you are willing to support me in this crusade. It bodes well for the resistance. If it keeps growing, we can end all this craziness within a few short years. Remember, above all else- I am the Un-Trump.”

Alas, it appears, however, that there is no such young Democrat on the horizon that has that kind of energy and inventiveness. You might say Bernie Sanders; but he would be about 78 come next election, which really is too old. Elizabeth Warren is a possibility, but she’s not exactly a spring chicken herself. Lacking a Young Lochinvar, all you young people are faced with the bleak likelihood of enduring the Trump insanity for 8 long years.

One other thing. The crude vulgarity that Trump employed to fire James Comey was beyond comprehension, even for Trump. Comey had to learn about being dumped from a third party source as he was about to give a speech. It was obviously in retribution for the ongoing FBI investigation into the Trump team’s collusion with Russia to alter the final election results. The unceremonious firing was ironic also, since it was Comey that handed Trump the election victory on a silver platter. It was Comey, who 12 days before the election, stated that the FBI was re-opening it’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails processed on a private server in Clinton’s basement. If Comey had kept his mouth shut, Hillary would now be sitting in the Oval Office. And for that, the thanks that Comey received from the president this past week was to be sacked as if he was the janitor in the J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington D.C.

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A MASSACRE IN SYRIA

The recent chemical warfare attack that brutal tyrant Bashar al-Assad recently launched against his own people, that killed 89 and wounded hundreds more, is not the worst of the war crimes against humanity that Assad is responsible for. The Syrian civil war that started in 2011, almost exactly 6 years ago, to depose the tyrant from his throne, has led to horrific casualties on a massive scale. Over half a million Syrians have been slaughtered during this time, and millions more have been displaced. Some have been able to emigrate to the safety of Europe where they have been, by and large, accepted by various European countries, most notably, Germany, France and Sweden. A few thousand Syrian refugees have even made it to this country; but if Trump gets his way, that door will soon be slammed shut. The vacuum created by this civil war has also  allowed barbarian terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaida to flourish and perpetrate their own set of killing fields. There are hardly words to describe the on-going evil, and tragedies of events continuing to unfold in Syria. But suffice to say, it’s easily the worst holocaust of the 21st century.

Assad took over the reigns of power in 2000, when his father, who was the same type of tyrannical, despotic ruler, died. By 2011, most Syrians could no longer tolerate the brutality and lack of freedom, and an armed rebellion began to take shape. During the period of his dictatorship, however, Assad had accumulated a huge arsenal of chemical warfare agents. His total ruthlessness and lack of conscience showed that he would not hesitate to use that arsenal against his own people, and before long, he did just that. It should be noted that chemical warfare weapons were first developed during WWI and used against the Allies by Germany. But it was soon discovered that these chemical agents inflicted such anguished pain and suffering upon its victims before finally killing them, that it became unbearable for both sides of the war to tolerate. This led to an oath by all antagonists to ban the use of chemical agents as a weapon of war. Even Hitler didn’t use chemical agents during WWII. But obviously, Assad had no such compunctions when it came to combatting opponents of his regime.

The first time Assad used these horrific chemicals on his fellow Syrians, the Obama Administration supposedly strongly protested and threatened a military response. But Assad used them again, consigning more Syrians to a torturous death. To avoid military retaliation, a deal was worked out between the U.S, Russia and Syria. Assad would ship his entire arsenal of chemical warfare agents to Russia, so that he could never again use them again against Syrian rebel contingents. At the same time, President Obama warned that he was drawing a red line in the sand that forbade any further use of chemical warfare in Syria. Such use would surely invoke an American military response against the Assad regime. But guess what. Assad realizing that under Obama, the U.S. was really just a paper tiger, once again consigned more of the opposition to an agonizing death through the use of chemical warfare. Apparently all of Assad’s stockpile had not been shipped to Russia. And to make matters worse, the Obama Administration failed to invoke its promised military retaliation, even though Obama’s red line in the sand had been so recklessly crossed.

Interestingly, Trump, who at that time was obviously eyeing a run for the White House 3 years later, went on Twitter to warn Obama not to take any military action regarding Assad’s brutality against the rebels. Even then, his “America First” and the hell with the rest of the world philosophy was on display. During his presidency, Obama often stated that Assad must go before there could be any semblance of peace in Syria. But since Obama failed to hire any grown-ups to advise him on foreign policy, Obama’s weak indecisiveness led to a refusal to employ U.S. military forces when a world situation called for such a military intervention. Interestingly, it was the most extreme right-wing members of Congress such as Ted Cruz,  that applauded Obama’s failure to act. Assad had guessed right-the U.S. was a paper tiger.

Now that he’s been elevated into the presidency, Assad’s latest chemical warfare adventurism has shocked even Trump’s conscience, and that’s saying a lot. So last Friday Trump order his Navy to launch a cruise missile attack against the Syrian airbase that carried out the latest chemical attack. Unquestionably, it was better than any action Obama had undertaken during his 8 years in office. But it was still more of a token response since minimal damage was inflicted. No further U.S. military action is anticipated. What is needed is around-the-clock bombing of all of Assad’s air bases until his entire air force has been destroyed. It would send a powerful message not only to Assad, but to his Russian and Iranian sponsors and co-contributors to his despicable tyranny. Very unlikely to occur, however.

President Obama offered one very simple truth while he was in office. He stated that America “was the one indispensable country” on Earth. It’s time, however, for us to start acting that way. We, unfortunately, co-exist with an entire cabal of bloodthirsty tyrants that occupy much of the planet’s surface. There’s Vladimir Putin who rules Russia mafia-style and is responsible for the deaths of thousands in the Ukraine; the Islamic fanatics that control Iran and have murdered tens of thousands of Iranian dissidents; the nut case that reigns over North Korea and has also killed tens of thousands while turning that country into a giant concentration camp. The rulers of China are also not prizes and have blood on their hands. If the U.S. doesn’t stand strong against these forces of evil, the freedoms we take for granted in the West could rapidly begin to disappear. The world would then begin to resemble George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “1984.”

I’m an old guy, so I’ve had a life. But for all you young people out there, I don’ think “1984” is a world you would look forward to living in. What do you think?

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PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCES

Some time back, I wrote a piece called “Returning to The Days of Silent Cal.” It talked about the 6 years that Republican Calvin Coolidge was president of the United States, from 1922-1928, when the federal government did essentially….nothing. Outside of the State and War Departments and the Attorney-General’s office, there was little, if any, governmental expenditures. Coolidge, often known as Silent Cal for his taciturn image, who had inherited the presidency when Warren G. Harding died in office in 1922, often boasted that the federal budget was lower when he left in 1928, than when he first assumed the presidency in 1922. Coolidge was wildly popular because he served during the decade known as the “roaring twenties” when there was peace, prosperity and a booming stock market. Get-rich-quick schemes abounded everywhere, especially if they involved stock investments. Coolidge would easily have won re-election in 1928 but he decided not to run, stating that 10 years in the White House would have constituted the type of cruel and unusual punishment that’s forbidden by the U.S. Constitution.

Instead it fell to his hapless Republican vice-president, Herbert Hoover, to be the one sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office, when the roof finally caved in- big time. All the wild speculation on Wall Street, as we all know, led to the infamous stock market crash in October, 1929, and, from there, to the ensuing Great Depression of the 1930s. At the time, there was no Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) to put the reins on all the stock market manipulations and dishonest schemes that had abounded like weeds in an unkempt garden. Suddenly, as the Depression oozed across the landscape, tens of millions of Americans, who thought they would live out their lives in comfortable middle class existences, were plunged into dire poverty instead, begging for nickels and dimes on the streets, or standing in hours long unemployment lines. The Depression also resurrected a rather dormant Democratic Party, which swept Franklin Roosevelt into the presidency in a landslide in 1932. FDR then began the “New Deal” which, for the first time had the government spending large amounts of resources for “social welfare programs,” i.e., stuff that wasn’t related to fighting wars or other foreign affairs.

Under FDR’s New Deal, and in subsequent Democratic administrations, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs were enacted. The right for workers to organize into labor unions and the right for those unions to call a strike became law over 80 years ago, but has been fought every step of the way by conservative Republicans. And the Republicans seem to be winning their never ending battle against unions since membership is down to single digits in most unions still in existence. Also enacted by Democratic administrations were housing assistance programs, unemployment insurance benefits, disability benefits, healthcare insurance programs, and many other types of social welfare legislation. Of course, all these socials initiatives have helped balloon the cumulative public budget deficit to just under $20 trillion today, not exactly pocket change. Although it should be pointed out that it was conservative Republican Ronald Reagan that was the first president to spend like a drunken sailor, when he mushroomed the public deficit from $1 to $4 trillion during the 1980s. But his deficits occurred because of massive increases in military spending, which is fine and dandy in Republican mindsets.

So now we’re in 2017 with a fully Republican congress, and a Republican president promising to “drain the swamp” as well as “make America great again” among its many trite cliches. A large part of that effort will supposedly be to drastically cut back if not completely ax much of the social welfare initiatives enacted by liberal Democrats over more than 80 years. Perhaps taking us back to the days of Silent Cal, when the government essentially did nothing outside of defense and foreign affairs. And its not just about cutting expenditures. Its also about eliminating the many rules and regulations that govern much of the financial, business, banking, and Wall Street transactions that occur in our daily lives. Perhaps drastically reducing or eliminating the SEC so that would-be stock market shysters can once again flex their scheming muscles. In the end, it all comes down to philosophical differences concerning the size, scope, and involvement of government in the public square. It’s not only the amount of public expenditures, of course, but the level of taxes paid by the public as well. Republicans continually advocate for tax cuts for the rich, while Democrats are constantly trying to raise taxes on those wealthy that can well afford to pay the increases. Imagine that.

Not everything in government, however, is about spending money or creating oversight over financial transactions. There’s also the social side of the equation involving gay rights, abortion rights, and immigration. And there, strangely enough, conservatives and liberals appear to swap their philosophies concerning the extent of government involvement. Conservative Republicans demand strong government oversight to prevent gay marriage, deny a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, and not only prevent illegal immigration, but sharply curtail the legal kind also. So what if there are no migrants to pick the fruit off the trees in Southern California. And no matter how much those actions may cost. Liberal Democrats, naturally, campaign for just the opposite. A woman’s right to choose, a couple’s right to choose, and for peaceful undocumented immigrants to be left alone. Philosophical differences with an unbridgeable divide, seemingly wider than the Grand Canyon.

Right now it’s the ultra-conservative Republicans that are holding vitally all the cards. The Democrats are still shell-shocked over the loss of the election. So it should be interesting to see if a Republican president and congress can roll back the size and scope of government so it more resembles the administration of Silent Cal. Except, of course, when it comes denying gay rights, abortions, and the right for illegal immigrants to live and work in peace. Then the sky’s the limit when it comes to government involvement.

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FROM CIVIL RIGHTS TO THE ALT-RIGHT: A NATION’S MORAL DECLINE

It took less than 60 years, 56 to be precise, for the United States to go from electing a president that would champion the cause of civil rights for blacks and other minorities, to electing a president that intends to further the cause of white supremacy and privilege. In 1960, a young John F. Kennedy would squeak out a narrow win for the presidency over Richard Nixon. With brother Bobby as attorney-general, JFK set out to tear down the walls of Jim Crow segregation that had permeated throughout the entire South. A system whereby blacks had to attend separate schools from whites, drink from separate water fountains, sit at separate lunch counters, sit in segregated sections when attending sports events or movies, and on and on. Of course, blacks were strictly forbidden from living or buying property in white neighborhoods. And black people usually found it all but impossible to vote in public elections in virtually every district throughout the South. But the early 1960s were also a time when a young black minister named Martin Luther King Jr., with the backing of the president and the attorney-general, began organizing huge protest marches and civil-disobedience throughout the South to attack this system of second-class citizenry. A system of semi-slavery that had lasted 100 years after Lincoln had ended the existing system of formal slavery.

The peaceful protests and civil-rights marches of those days eventually achieved their desired results as the walls of Jim Crow semi-slavery began to crumble into dust. But not before a slew of both black and white civil-rights workers were murdered along the way by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists. And tragically, by 1968, both Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King were all dead at the hands of different assassins. And to be clear, racial hatred and discrimination didn’t exist only in the South. There was plenty of that in the North as well, minus a formalized legal system of Jim Crow segregation. But when Lyndon Johnson took over the presidency after JFK’s murder, and signed the civil rights act of 1964, black people were at least free to participate in U.S. elections without fear of reprisal. The tumultuous 1960s were also a time of massive protests and civil disobedience against America’s ill-fated entry into the Viet-Nam war. When that debacle ended in the early 1970s, and with the successes of the civil-rights movement, it seemed as if America’s worst days were behind it. Sadly, this was not to be.

Now fast-forward to 2016 where the winning presidential candidate, also by the narrowest of margins, is definitely not a civil-rights proponent. Instead he is praised by the KKK and other white-supremist groups as being their kind of guy. One of these hate groups is oddly referred to as the Alt-Right, presumably meaning alternative right wing. A rather benign sounding term to cover up its underlying racist intentions. A former leader of the Alt-Right, a man named Stephen Bannon, eventually became Donald Trump’s campaign manager, and will now sit in the White House on a daily basis as Trump’s co-chief of staff. A rather comforting vision to start off the new year of 2017, wouldn’t you say? So who, or what is the Alt-Right. Well, according to one of its current leaders named Jeff Schoep, their decision to dispense with using the swastika as its symbol was “an attempt to become more integrated and more mainstream.” An attempt to make racial hatred seem more like the norm. Their central belief is that white identity has become endangered by what they deride as this era of dangerous diversity and political correctness. But though they may no longer use the Nazi swastika as their symbol, the name of their game is still white supremacy over blacks and virulent anti-semitism.

When Trump, early in the campaign, promised to build a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants, whom he described as murderers and rapists, the Alt-Right raised its collective head to listen. One movement leader, a retired school teacher from Dallas, who grew up in a family opposed to desegregation, stated: “I’ve been waiting to hear those words from a mainstream political leader all my life. We don’t have any power, – but now we’re suddenly close enough to smell it.” After Trump’s victory, the Alt-Right held a conference in Washington under the leadership of its president, a 38 year-old man named Richard Spencer, who fashions himself as the coming American Il Duce. He wears his hair in an undercut style called a “fashy” as in fascist. “Race is real” he said “Race matters. Race is the foundation of identity.” Of course, this Alt-Right movement is supposedly distinct from old-line white supremacist fascists, bigots, race-haters and Jew-haters such as the KKK. But early in the election campaign, when David Duke, former grand dragon of the KKK enthusiastically endorsed the Trump candidacy, it took The Donald two days to eventually choke out an-“okay, I disavow the endorsement,” after repeated grilling by the media.

So, welcome to the world, circa 2017. The year 1961 stared off with a new president in the White House committed to achieving racial equality for minorities that were afflicted by Jim Crow prejudice, bigotry and segregation. The new president in 2017, about to enter the Oval Office, is a man seemingly adored by those very same bigots and haters. But that’s not even the most disturbing part about all of this.  Even more upsetting is the fact that candidate Trump figured out that there there was all this bigotry still in existence among the white population. Enough so that he could win by achieving such an overwhelming portion of the white vote, that it was more than sufficient enough to offset the minority voters opposition to him. And he was right. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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DRINKING FROM THE POISONED WELL

One of the acknowledged foreign policy failures of the out-going Obama Administration was its inability bring peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and with it, an independent, self-governing Palestinian homeland. It wasn’t for lack of trying, however. Early-on, Obama designated former senator and foreign-policy mediator George Mitchell to negotiate with both parties toward achieving that goal. But after nearly 8 years of fruitless negotiations, both sides are as far apart as they ever were. Which is primarily due to the continued unquenched thirst and resultant gulping of liquid from the poisoned well of bitterness, hatred, and acrimony by both Arab and Jew. And with virtually no prospects of any improvement in the foreseeable future. Thus, one of the hottest zones of instability and chaos on the surface of what we call Planet Earth, continues unabated.

One could go back thousands of years to the early biblical times of Abraham, who supposedly sired the beginners of both the Jewish and Arab nations, to search for the root causes of all this vitriol. Or, perhaps, a better starting point would be at the time when a Hebrew rabbi named Jesus walked the Earth, and Israel existed as a Jewish homeland, about 2000 years ago. That was also a time when Rome had conquered and occupied most of the western world, including Israel and the Mid-East. Which, in short order, caused the Israelites to become highly rebellious of living under the tyranny of a Roman dictatorship. Which, further caused the Roman Army to drive most of these rebellious Israelis out of their homeland, with the preponderance of Jews resettling in Europe. This, in turn, led to thousands of years of anti-semitic hatred and discrimination against European Jews, culminating with the Holocaust of the 20th century. It also resulted in the collapse of the State of Israel as a homeland for Jews. The void was filled by Arab Moslems who moved onto land formerly occupied by displaced Israelites.

After the horrors of WWII, including the slaughter of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, the United Nations, with the United States and Russia, who were still allies, leading the way, agreed that Jews world-wide, deserved to be given back their homeland, as a refuge from further atrocities. The U.N. voted to recreate the State of Israel on its historic lands where world-wide Jews could migrate to if they so desired. Most European Jews, who, somehow, miraculously survived the Holocaust, did immigrate to the new State of Israel. The problem was, however, that over centuries of the Jewish Diaspora, Arab Moslems had moved onto lands previously occupied by displaced Jews. Creating a homeland for the Jews meant displacing most Arabs that had lived on Israeli land for centuries. Most went to neighboring Arab states such as Lebanon where they were forced to live in poverty-stricken camps, mostly in tents, with the barest essentials of food and water provided to them. It seemed that most Arab countries, for all their outrage over Palestinian displacement, were not eager to allow these same Palestinians to assimilate into their general populations.

Anger and outrage ran rampant among surrounding Arab nations to the point that they decided to immediately go to war with the new infant state of Israel. Crush the baby in its cradle before it could grow. But again, another miracle. The infant survived and defeated its Arab neighbors. The hostility among Arab countries only continued to become more virulent, however. A second war broke out in the 1960s, and again Israel defeated its opponents which consisted of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. This time, however, Israel had captured the Arab occupied West Bank, which in the 1960s belonged to Jordan, and which had been discussed by world powers as becoming a separate Palestinian state, existing side-by-side with Israel. Yet a third Israeli-Arab war war was initiated in the 1970s, and for a third time the Arabs failed to crush the Jewish state. Finally, the Egyptian president at the time, Anwar Sadat, realized that enough was enough. Courageously, he made an historic trip to Israel, signed a peace treaty, and established diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. For his courageous peace initiative, however, he was soon assassinated by Islamic terrorists. Jordan, some time later, also made peace with Israel.

But peace within Israel was not to be. Palestinians sadly turned to terrorism in an attempt to drive the Jews out of Israel. The large number of serious attacks by Islamic terrorists against Israel and the resultant Israeli retaliations that have killed thousands and thousands of Jews and Arabs alike, are too numerous to mention here. They could fill an encyclopedia. Some of the more shocking ones were the murder of 11 Israeli athletes attending the Olympics being held in Germany in the 1970s, the murder of more than 30 school children in Northern Israel, the shelling of Israeli civilian population centers by the Hamas terror organization that controls the Palestinian Gaza strip, and quite recently, the murder of a 13 year-old Israeli girl by a young Palestinian that sneaked into her bedroom at night, and slit her throat while she was sleeping. The list goes on and on.

The Obama Administration’s diplomatic thrust for these 2 warring parties, has come to be known as the two-state solution. Establish an independent Palestinian state on the Israeli-occupied West Bank that would supposedly live in peace with Israel. But the reasons that just wouldn’t work could also fill an encyclopedia. First, Israel has established numerous settlements on the West Bank that house hundreds of thousands of Jews. They are protected by the Israeli Army. The Palestinians are never going to tolerate the existence of these Jewish encampments in their midst, and the Israeli government is disinclined to remove these settlers. Next, the Palestinians are insisting on the so-called right of return-the right of those Palestinians or their heirs, that were displaced in 1948 to return to their lands in Israel. That, of course, is also never going to happen. And so the beat goes on, as the stalemate based on out-right hate continues to dominate.

There is only one sane answer: a one-state solution combining Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza into one united country comprised of Moslems, Jews, and Christians. But, of course, that would require all parties to stop quenching their thirsts by drinking from the poisoned well of vitriol. To stop hating one another and start respecting the dignity of each others religious choices. A willingness to live in peace and harmony, instead of hate,  fear, and violence. Not likely to happen in the next succeeding generations. But perhaps through a process of evolution, it could occur over the next several hundred years. Or not.

Categories: Brexit, Donald Trump, Alan Greenspan, Economics, Israeli-Palestinan Relations, politics | Leave a comment

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