Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year!

To our families, friends and readers comes this salutation.
May everything good grace your life,
And may health, wealth and well-being fill yours days!


Friday, December 21, 2012

The Obscenity Called the NRA

By Daniel J. Perin
Friday morning, just one week after the massacre in Newtown CT, while the nation prayerfully stood silent in memory of those lost, the NRA gave us their response to the gun violence raging throughout the nation.  Their answer:  Get more guns into the hands of the public.  Indeed, put armed guards at the door of every school In the country and preferably, arm every teacher as well.  “The only way to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun.” – Wayne LaPierre

Wayne LaPierre has proposed the most ridiculous, Ill conceived and outrageous plan that one can only consider an obscenity and insult to the parents, relatives and friends of those slain in Newtown, CT.

I am so angry and my eyes still tear-filled that I can hardly form an intelligent thought about this so-called “meaningful response” from the NRA.  Has this man no decency, no common sense at all?  As far as I am concerned the blood of those children and teachers is placed squarely on his hands.  Arming more people would have the same result as falsely calling “fire” in a crowed theater.

I have no compassion for this man, nor is there any way for me to understand the blind devotion to the Second Amendment, written when it took several minutes to load a musket between shots.  It cannot in any way be meant to cover ownership and misuse of 100 round semi-automatic weapons that fire shots faster than you can see them, let alone count them.  There is NO ARGUMENT that justifies having such weapons in the hands of ANYONE other than duly enlisted military or police personnel.   People asked to give such a reason have never been able to do anything but redirect the conversation to other issues.

If we cannot resolve the abuse of the Second Amendment, mark my words, the time will come that the public rises up en masse to rescind that amendment and construct meaningful statutes to replace it.  I would expect such new regulations would allow proper gun ownership following background checks for ALL purchases including gun shows and re-sales, registration of ALL weapons, and proof of safety training that includes proper safe storage.  Additionally, I would support very strong punishment in fines and possible prison for those who are found guilty of allowing their children access to weapons improperly secured in their homes.

I have friends and family members who own guns.  Personally, I don’t want any guns anywhere near me for any reason.  I am comfortable, somewhat anyway, with people owning guns if they have satisfied regulations currently in effect.  I see a reason for sports enthusiasts to have guns, but I’m not convinced that having a gun “for protection” makes the owner or his loved ones safer.  Statistics appear to favor those without guns in the home are safer. May be debatable, but I’ll go with it.

I will not simply try to repeat all the arguments here.  My purpose here is to indicate my anger about the less than meaningful response of Mr. LaPierre and the NRA when it comes to offering anything helpful.  I suggest it would be better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.—Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Words Are Inadequate But Here Are Some Anyway!

This is one of those times that words simply fail to take meaningful form in my mind, let alone find their way to the keyboard of my computer.  It is not that there are no words.  It is that they are inadequate to in any way convey the brokenness of our hearts as a result of a week of horror.

We have been here before.  This is just the current story. This is not really a strange situation in that respect.  What seems strange to me in the face of the constant barrage of shootings, whether in the case of individual street warfare, or mass events such as the Newtown, CT first graders, is that as a society we briefly mourn and then go on about our business.

Oh, there will be the usual point/counter point arguments presented about guns and our “right” to own them, but in the end it is most likely we will hide in the shadows of our fear to speak out and act in a responsible way to do anything to change our maladjusted mentality that accepts this stupidity.

Unfortunately, I just find myself getting angrier as I write these words.  That is what I mean when I say words are inadequate to convey my utter despair.  Anger, like grief, often tends to dissipate over time.  When that happens we return to our “normal” lives.   Normal seems to mean we can ignore doing anything about the “past.”  You know, the “past” that was a few days ago.  Not good enough. 

There is a societal sickness that pervades much of our land.  There are many aspects to that sickness—economy, social insecurity, family breakdowns, and more.  But there are lights that shine in the darkness of these horrific events.  There are those we call “heroes.”  There are always the “helpers” present.  Mr. Rogers, is credited with telling how his mother told him to “look for the helpers” when something terrible happens.  Thank God for those who rise to the occasion against all personal odds.

What about the rest of us?  I am not against gun ownership.  I am against stupidity, which I find rampant in many of the arguments supporting the ownership of weapons of mass destruction like the multiple round assault rifles.  The fear that government will take away your guns has led to a massive increase in gun sales.  Sales often spike following a tragedy for no other reason that there is a fear a new law will prevent you from buying a gun.  Get over it!  We are not going to change the Constitution.  We are probably not even going to deliberate about ways in which to protect those rights and at the same time remove unnecessary weapons from ownership.

I hope I am wrong.  But a society that has to be allowed to take guns into schools, libraries, national parks and almost every other public place is definitely lacking in common sense or personal security. My goodness have we returned to the wild west where we don’t feel dressed without our Colt 45 (or Glock) strapped to our side?  Sadly, I am afraid I believe the need for bigger and more powerful guns simply represents penis compensation.  Go ahead, “Make my day!”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Follow Up To The Follow Up On . . .

The spoof email making the rounds regarding The Enlightened States Of America that I reproduced on this blog is gaining a life of its own around the globe!  It has surpassed, on my blog count, the Crabby Old Man spoof email that has been circulating for several years now and which I also reproduced on this blog.

It seems to me that these phenomena indicate a deep need in all of us to find something that truly sparks our emotional connection to our world.  Reality has overwhelmed us.  We know more about The Housewives of (fill in the blanks), Keeping Up With The Kardashians, The Bachelor (Bachelorette), Survivor, ad nauseam than most of us ever cared about.  So it is no surprise to me that we respond to these two very different appeals to our sentiments:  loving and caring about our seniors as with Crabby Old Man (Woman), and our political frustrations as with The Enlightened States of America.

There is something sad about a society that is more invested in “reality” TV than in reality.  There has always been escapism, a desire to get away from it all. It seems easier to escape into mock reality than to actually deal with what is going on in our lives that needs positive attention.  Certainly, there is nothing wrong with realizing one needs a break from the turmoil and frustrations that seem ever present.  But for anything to change we must eventually come back to our real world and apply ourselves to working through the problems.

I read just this morning in The Daily Kos about the citizens of Texas signing petitions to the White House asking for the right to secede from the United States! The White House apparently has a standard of agreeing to submit any petition with over 25,000  signatures in 30 days to the appropriate committee/person for an official response.  Talk about fantasy Vs reality!    I am not sure whether this represents the fantasy world or the real world where some think they are working through the problems.  Personally, I say let them secede, but that’s another whole issue!

I do not have the answer, other than the foregoing comments, which are not deeply reasoned out.  I am simply making an observation from my point of view.  I am guessing that because it is easier to take out our frustrations by angrily taking to task those with opinions (observations) different from our own that there will be reactions to this article.  I also guess that only demonstrates that someone has read it, which, after all, is one of the reasons I am writing it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Follow Up To The Enlightened States of America

Well, I certainly hit a nerve when I posted this article!  I have had well over 200 hits on it so far from all over the world and still counting.  I also had a long comment in response that took the opposite position.  I did not post the comment because I am reluctant to post anonymous comments (a personal preference).  I do not post to anyone’s blog or web pages anonymously because I am willing to stand behind what I believe and say, and to correct my writing if I am proven to misrepresent facts.  (We each have a right to our beliefs, but not to our own FACTS.)

It should be understood that the article is not original with me.  It has been around for quite awhile on other web sites and emails circulating.  As I said, that is how it came to me.  I did research its source before I reformatted and posted it on this blog.  It is obviously a caricature of the way things seem to be today in our political parties.  For the record, I am a registered Independent and for the most part don’t give a hoot about what the platforms of the Republican or Democratic parties are.  I AM concerned about the way politicians behave, however.  There is plenty of impropriety, ignorance and failure to represent constituents to go around.

I posted a response comment on my blog to the anonymously made comment and invited the person to identify the comment, which I would then post.

I for one hoped that once the election was over we could rally around the flag, so to speak, and try to get at solving the problems we face.  The sun had hardly risen before the obstructionist talk began again with Republicans.  What is it with you folks?  Is this country no longer worth working on to continue its excellence as “representative” government?  Even though each party has its own philosophy and priorities, our issues are not party oriented and should not be handled as if they were.  The problems are the economy, the social structure and the well-being of our citizens.  Positions can be stated and then the conversation can begin. Give and take is the only way we can successfully address these issues, and we better get at it NOW!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Enlightened States of America

I received the following item in an email from my friend and co-host of this blog, Lloyd Agte.  He received it from another friend.  While I have not independently verified the percentages quoted in the statements in this article, my gut response is that they closely approximate the facts as they are known. [1]  You can check the footnote for additional references.

Subject: Dear Red States (From New York forming a new country with the Blue States)

Dear Red States:

We're ticked off at your Neanderthal attitudes and politics and we've decided we're leaving.  "Legitimate rape" is almost reason enough!

We in New York intend to form our own country and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and the rest of the Northeast.

We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation and especially to the people of the new country of The Enlightened States of America (E.S.A).

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas , Oklahoma and all the slave states.
We get stem cell research and the best beaches.
We get Andrew Cuomo and Elizabeth Warren.
You get Bobby Jindal and Todd Akin.
We get the Statue of Liberty.
You get OpryLand.
We get Intel and Microsoft.
You get WorldCom.
We get Harvard.
You get Ole' Miss.
We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs.
You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue.
You get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families.

Please be aware that the E.S.A. will be pro choice and anti war and we're going to want all our citizens back from Afghanistan at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.

We wish you success in Afghanistan, and possibly Iran as well, but we're not willing to spend our resources in these sorts of pursuits.

With the Blue States in hand we will have firm control of 80% of the country's fresh water;
more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce;
92% of the nation's fresh fruit;
95% of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners);
90% of all cheese;
90 percent of the high tech industry;
most of the US low sulfur coal;
all living redwoods, sequoias and condors;
all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans and their projected health care costs;
92% of all US mosquitoes;
nearly 100% of the tornadoes;
90% of the hurricanes;
99% of all Southern Baptists;
virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson
and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite. Thank you.

Some 38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale;
62% believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws;
44% say that evolution is only a theory;
53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

We're taking the good weed too. You can have that crap they grow in Mexico.


Citizens of the Enlightened States of America

Monday, August 13, 2012

Is This The Last Round In the Test Of Our Democracy?

By Daniel J Perin
(WARNING:  Reading this article may cause you to experience depression, sleepless nights and a general malaise.  OR maybe you will wake up and smell whatever roses are left.)
Four years ago I was writing articles expressing my delight in the possibilities suggested by the election of a man who had risen through the challenges of being a man with a dark skin in a still predominantly white nation.  It was looking like we had really begun to turn the corner from a country still bound up in attitudes of prejudice and restriction to one that was opening up to the innate equality of humankind.  I really did believe in hope as I had not believed in a long time.

The swearing in ceremony of President Barack Obama was one of the most moving events of my life and it touched my deepest and innermost dreams of hope for change in the social dynamics for all of us in this country we love so much.  It seemed as though the ground swell of “yes, we can!” was going to carry us all into a period of economic recovery, social acceptance and a return to a developing middle class that would recharge the engines of our society and assure the future of our children.

There were bitter debates among not only the political parties, but also between families and friends.  I was ill prepared for the racist bigotry I was exposed to in emails, news stories, especially from cable outlets such as Fox News, and the instantaneous “true stories” foisted upon us from the new media, the Internet.  So-called “facts” swirled about the nation and world faster than you could blink your eyes.  These “facts” began to take root in the minds of those who feared what might happen if a person of color were to actually become our President.

The four years that have followed the high hopes many of us had for this new caliber of leadership have resulted in many disappointments to be sure.  For those who held strong reservations and racial biases it was easy to blame our problems on the fact that a black person just didn’t have the ability to do the job.  Never mind that the stated goal of Republicans, like Senate minority leader, Mitch O’Connell, was to deny the President any advantage and to block any effort to pass legislation that would allow for Congress to address even the smallest of problems.  The Republican goal was to make Obama a “one term President.”  This declaration had nothing to do with politics.  It was a purely racist political position by people who could not stand the idea of a black person leading the country.

Positions and policies that had historically been those of the Republicans were suddenly reversed because Obama, in an effort to lead in a bipartisan manner, had adopted many of those same positions.

Because after four years of his Presidency, we are still experiencing serious economic challenges many have forgotten how we got into the mess in the first place.  It was the Bush economics, including tax cuts to those making millions of dollars and two wars both of which were paid for by piling up huge debts to China.  There was a benign indifference to corporations closing manufacturing plants and sending jobs overseas. All of these actions sent us into trillion dollar deficits.

This time around heading into another presidential election I do not plan to write about what I see happening other than this piece.  I am so disillusioned by what I see in the continuing political dishonesty that I hold little hope for our democracy to succeed in solving our problems, at least in the near term.

First of all, if Obama is reelected, with or without support in the House and Senate, I expect he will have little opportunity to do things that most second term presidents are able to do because they do not have to spend time on getting reelected.  There is so much hate and distrust supported by a media that has become mostly a bunch of dishonest brokers, if not purely pathological liars, and millions of people who believe the crap they deal out that I see little hope for redemption.

On the other hand, if the Romney/Ryan ticket is elected you can expect not only a return to the devastating economic policies of the Bush administration, but also a full out assault on entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as well as programs for educational assistance.  There is no question entitlement programs need to be addressed and updated in order to assure their continued viability for our seniors and persons less able to provide for special care.  But to suggest those changes should be paid for by cutting the safety net that has worked quite well since its inception is short sighted and callous.

Then there is the whole question of military policy.  The country is fed up with America being the world police force (not to mention that a large part of the rest of the world would like us to stay out of their affairs).  Republican hawks are hot to go to war in Syria, Iran, North Korea and any place else they want to force the might of our armed forces on the world to show our “no-nonsense power.”  These old warhorses need to be put out to pasture as far from policy makers as possible.

To me there is no question that this election is about choice.  It is not about choosing a white or black President.  It is about which economic policy you believe best suits our need for recovery.  In my college business and accounting classes the professors were focused at that time on Keynesian economics, which briefly held that when the business community could not pore money into projects and products, it was up to the government to provide the financial backing that would allow infrastructure and manufacturing to gear up and create the jobs that would get the work done.  This is essentially the Democratic economic policy.  Such programs produced the WPA and the many projects that put people to work when the business community did not have the funds to put into venture capital.  Projects like the Bonneville Dam and others were the result of such programs.  Today programs like the assistance to General Motors allowed the government to put up the money for the company to reorganize and restore its manufacturing ability and to rehire laid off workers.  Romney would have put the company into bankruptcy making it vulnerable to vulture capitalists to take it over for cents on the dollar while increasing the number of unemployed workers in industries that provided parts for the auto industry.  The truth of the matter is that private industry did not have the money necessary to support the restructuring.  Only the government could do that job.

The Republican economic policy provides that if you give the richest Americans and companies more capital through tax reduction, they will use that capital to build America and provide jobs in industry, infrastructure and research.  The resultant increase was supposed to “trickle down” to lower levels of society.  History will show conclusively that that policy failed miserably to help any one except the rich.

I could go on and on with the differences in policy.  As a statement of transparency, I am neither a Democrat nor Republican.  I have been a registered Independent since returning to Oregon after my retirement and I have voted in the Independent Party primary.  I have voted in every election since I became an eligible voter.  If I vote in this election it may be for the last time.  I am seriously beyond the old saw that every vote counts.  It is clear that as the Republicans have successfully instituted laws restricting the voting rights of minorities, seniors and students, our votes really DO NOT COUNT any more.  We have become so used to accepting the lies that politicians of both parties dump on us that we do not recognize truth any longer and therefore cannot be counted upon to vote intelligently.

So, my friends, the choice is up to you.  If you have read this far in this article, I can only hope it encourages you to examine the options before you.  What kind of country do you want to live in?  What kind of leadership is acceptable to you?  What color is truth and honesty?  What does integrity really look like?  Are your opinions developed through flexible consideration of alternatives or set in concrete with no room for consideration of the interests of others?

Good luck in getting your priorities elected.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Iran 3: Looking at Iran Through the Israeli Psychological Cross Hairs

Where's the Threat?
By Lloyd Agte

 My "Iran 1" and "Iran 2" articles suggest, that "easy" oil (good crude, not too deep and easily pumped and refined) is the U.S. Empire's main interest in Iran (along its continuing imperial unipolar world power scheme).  But less clear are the reasons Israel is so eager to bomb Iran, arming for war and why the Israeli government is psychologically preparing its citizens for a first-strike on Iran. 

Yes, some hawkish pro-military groups in the U.S have been actively supporting a military strike against Iran since their 1979 revolution, but in the last year we have seen a concerted, organized campaign for a massive strike headed by Israel.  The March 19, 2012 NYT states, "In all, pro-Israel political action committees and donors affiliated with them have given more than $47 million directly to federal candidates since 2000, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group."  Granted, Israel has regional ambitions, a need for oil, and a desire to eliminate any country that opposes their illegal confiscation of Palestinian land, but there seems to be an irrational, psychological element in Israel's paranoia toward Iran, which this Iran 3 article explores.

Despite the fact that AIPAC and the Israeli government constantly use the phrase "existential threat" when referring to the continuing insecurity of the Jewish State of Israel, no country in the world poses an actual "existential threat" to Israel. Nevertheless, the U.S. chimes in that "Israel has a right to defend itself" (and backs it up with three billion dollars plus a year) leaving out the unanswered question: "from whom?"  (And why do we never hear: "Iran has a right to defend itself?")

Oh, yes, Iran's President Ahmadinejad  did say a few years ago (quoting the Ayatollah Kohmeini that the current "regime" occupying "Jerusalem" (not Israel itself) would one day be "erased from the pages of time," which was initially mistranslated as "wipe Israel off the map." And oh, how the Israeli government and American Zionists harvested that translation error--Netanyahu and the Neo-Cons are still recycling it. Forgotten (or disremembered) in the U.S./Israeli media's erecting Ahmadinejad as "The Great Holocaust Denier" is one of Ahmadinejad's previous speeches wherein he said since Germany created the Holocaust, why did not Germany give up part of their land for a Jewish homeland, rather than making the innocent Palestinians suffer by giving up part of theirs.  Furthermore, it is the Ayatollah Ali Khameni who currently calls the shots in Iran, not Ahmadinejad, so making Ahmadinejad the Evil Tyrant of Iran is an exercise in ignorance or lying.

There is no imminent military threat to Israel from any country, certainly not from the Palestinians who live in ghetto-like conditions as the Israelis steadily steal their water and lands and wall them in/out.  So what IS Israel's problem with Iran?  Israel allegedly has over 200 nuclear weapons, one of the largest armies and air forces in the world, nuclear subs (Germany's recent sale to Israel of a 6th submarine capable of firing long range missiles sparked Gunner Grass' controversial poem "What Must Be Said"), drones, laser guided bombs, over 100 jet fighter planes, high-tech ground vehicles, an "iron umbrella" over Israeli cities to knock down incoming missiles, and so on.  Furthermore, as Atzmon notes below, neither Iran nor any other state has openly threatened Israel (except in defensive retaliation).

Pre-TSD: They Want to Kill Us All

Clearly, Israel could overwhelm anyone who might attack them, which practically eliminates the danger of a first-strike by any other country   So why is Israel still paranoid?  As a possible psychological explanation, I defer first to Gilad Atzmon, and his 2006 article Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder--A glimpse into Israeli Collective Psychosis (9-18-2006).

"While many may find it heartening or amusing that even an Israeli right winger cannot see a ray of light at the end of the Zionist tunnel, it is rather disconcerting to read that Israelis are already seriously contemplating their next Shoah [Holocaust]. I would argue here that it is exactly this form of deadly meditation that turns Israel, Israelis, global Zionists and Neocons into the gravest enemies of world peace.

"Indeed, a growing number of people want to see an end to Israel, the ‘Jew Only State’. Yet, no one around expresses any murderous or terminal plans against world Jewry or even against their Jewish State. No one in the political or the media spheres is calling for a homicidal act against the Jews or their Jewish State. Thus the well-established Judeocentric tendency to interpret almost any legitimate political and ideological criticism as a perpetration of an upcoming Judeocide should be comprehended as a severe form of paranoia verging on collective psychosis, which I define as Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Pre-TSD).

"Within the condition of the Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the stress is the outcome of a phantasmic event, an imaginary episode set in the future; an event that has never taken place. Unlike the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in which stress comes as the direct reaction to an event that (may) have taken place in the past, within the state of Pre-TSD, the stress is clearly the outcome of an imaginary potential event. Within the Pre-TSD, an illusion pre-empts reality and the condition in which the fantasy of terror is focussed [sic] is itself becoming grave reality. If it is taken to extremes, even an agenda of total war against the rest of the world is not an unthinkable reaction."

So if government spokesmen keep telling a populace an enemy could annihilate them at any moment, it is reasonable to see how Pre-TSD could set in.  And if it is constantly preached (without evidence thus far) that Iran's legal and sanctioned peaceful nuclear power activity is actually a program to build a nuclear weapon to obliterate Israel, it is reasonable to see how a "get-them-before-they-get-us" syndrome would set in.

Conscious/Unconscious Conditioning

While the Atzmon essay seems quite a novel approach to Israel's motivations, and while PreTSD is a legitimate syndrome, it still seems a bit fanciful, almost a humorous exaggeration of Jewish "worrying" jokes (Jewish telegram: "Start worrying.  Details to follow").  But after examining Uri Avnery's article below, "Pour Out Your Wrath," it would seem that the syndrome is induced at least in some part by a religious heritage, an "indoctrination," he calls it, that does not fit the modern age.

Uri Avnery's piece on the spring season's Jewish myths and rituals he says comes from a Friday-before-Passover "reflections" he wrote in April of this year.  He first discusses the Haggadah, which tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt.  Then he discusses the rituals of the Sedar and its appeal to the senses and thus the repeated event's fond place in every Jewish family's memory. 

He says it is not a great literary masterpiece.  Nor does The Haggadah "have anything to do with real history."  For, he notes, "the Exodus never happened, nor the wandering in the desert, nor the conquest of Canaan."  The Egyptians were great chroniclers, he notes, and if 600,000 people fled, as the Bible says, or even 6000 it, would have been recorded by the Egyptians, not to count the failure of the annals to record the drowning of an entire Egyptian military contingent in the Red Sea; and furthermore, the Egyptians were ever alert to a possible invasion of Canaan and would have recorded such had it happened.  Furthermore, after the last hundred years of frantic digging in archeological sites in Israel and Palestine, no evidence has shown up of the conquest of Canaan, or of the Kingdoms of Saul, David, or Solomon.  While Avnery does not mention it, neither has any archeological evidence of an Egyptian exodus turned up in Israel/Palestine of Egyptian artifacts that the fleeing Israelites would have had with them: clothes, cooking ware, utensils, tools, jewels, art, etc.

For all this, Avnery is not disparaging the myth.  Rather he embraces it as something that "grips the human imagination, a myth that is the basis of great religion, a myth that directs the behavior of people to this very day.  Without the Exodus story, there would probably be no State of Israel today--and certainly not in Palestine."   In the next section, The Glory, he extols the power and beauty of the myth. He sees it as an inspiration "for all downtrodden peoples" and cites the U.S. Pilgrim Fathers as being inspired by it.

Then Avnery shifts to his next category: The Other Side. Without the "religious blinkers," he says, there is a whole different perspective.  Such as why were the entire Egyptian people punished because of the misdeed of a tyrant Pharaoh?  Why would God pollute their water with blood, bring on the locusts and destroy their food supply?  And what kind of god would send an angel to murder every Egyptian firstborn child?  Then on leaving Egypt they were encouraged to steal their neighbor's property.

On arriving at Canaan, Avnery notes, God told them to kill the people living there, commit genocide, and ordered the Israelites to totally eradicate the people of Amalek.  Avnery concludes The Other Side by putting the writings in historical context.

"Of course, these texts were written by people living in times long past, when the ethics of individuals and nations were different, as were the rules of war. But the Haggadah is recited - today as before - uncritically, without any reflection on these horrible aspects. Especially in religious schools in Israel today, the commandment to commit genocide against the non-Jewish population of Palestine is taken by many teachers and pupils quite literally."

Avnery's next section is Indoctrination, which he calls "the real point of these reflections."  I quote him at length so as not to distort his commentary.

"There are two sentences in the Haggadah that always had – and still have – a profound impact on the present.

"One is the central idea on which almost all Jews base their historical outlook: ‘In every generation they rise against us to destroy us.’

"This does not apply to a specific time or to a specific place. It is regarded as an eternal truth that applies to all places, all times. ‘They’ is the entire outside world, all non-Jews everywhere. Children hear this on Seder evening on their father’s knee, long before they are able to read and write, and from then on they hear or recite it every year for decades. It expresses the total conscious or unconscious conviction of almost all Jews, whether in Los Angeles, California, or in Lod, Israel. It certainly directs the policy of the State of Israel.

"The second sentence, which complements the first, is a cry to God: ‘Pour out your wrath upon the nations that do not know you…for they have devoured Jacob and desolated his home…Pour out your wrath on them! May your blazing anger overtake them! Pursue them from under the heavens of the Lord!…’

"The word ‘nations’ in this text has a double meaning. The Hebrew word is ‘goyim’, an ancient Hebrew term for ‘peoples’. Even the ancient Children of Israel were called a ‘Holy Goy’. But over the centuries, the word has taken on another meaning, and is understood to refer to all non-Jews, in a very derogatory way. (As in the Yiddish song 'Oy, Oy, Oy, / Drunk is the Goy.')"
Avnery then notes that the original text and its use "was written as a cry from the heart of a defenseless, persecuted people who had no means to take revenge on their torturers. To raise their spirits on the joyful Seder evening, they had to put their trust in God, crying out to Him that he should take revenge in their stead."

 Avnery in the final section, The Lesson, gets to the heart of his concern with the comforting yet dangerous lessons of the Haggadah:

"In the Diaspora, this craving for revenge was both understandable and ineffective. But the founding of the State of Israel has changed the situation completely. In Israel, Jews are far from being defenseless. We don’t have to rely on God to take revenge for the evils done unto us, past or present, real or imagined. We can pour out our wrath ourselves, on our neighbors, the Palestinians and other Arabs, on our minorities, on our victims.

"That is the real danger of the Haggadah, as I see it. It was written by and for helpless Jews living in perpetual danger. It raised their spirits once a year, when they felt safe for a moment, protected by their God, surrounded by their families.

"Taken out of this context and applied to a new, completely different situation, it can set us on an evil course. Telling ourselves that everybody is out to destroy us, yesterday and most certainly tomorrow, we consider the grandiloquent bombast of an Iranian bigmouth as a living proof of the validity of the old maxim. They are out to kill us, so we must – according to another ancient Jewish injunction – kill them first."

So Altzmon and Averney are not that far apart.  The former's collective psychosis and the latter's unconscious indoctrination are both convenient explanations for Israel's rabid eagerness to attack another non-threatening nation. 

Psychological Projection

Psychological Projection, according to Wikipedia is "a defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people. Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others originate those feelings." Since no one voices a call to throw the Israelis into the sea or to nuke them, one can argue that the Israeli inclination to blame Muslims and Arabs for holding murderous tendencies toward themselves might be understood in terms of projection.
"What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs," the head of an IDF rocket unit in Lebanon said regarding the use of cluster bombs and phosphorous shells during the war. Quoting his battalion commander, the rocket unit head stated that the IDF fired around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets." 
Of these approximately 500,000 remain on the ground unexploded.  Is there a way to live with such guilt other than projecting the evil onto others?
The Israeli mantra that the Arabs want to "drive us in to the sea" is a phrase I have heard constantly since about 1970 (and I accepted it on faith in those early days). According to a 2009 documentary on Link TV recently, Jaffa, The Orange's Clockwork (Palestine Film Foundation, 2009), the expression evolved from the1936-1939 Arab Revolt in Palestine attack on the port city of Jaffa during an Arab strike over the Jews (many recent immigrants) and the building a competing port at Tel Aviv to bypass the Arab port of Jaffa.  The British Army, according to one citizen who was there, fired 4000 artillery shells on the city of Jaffa, literally driving the Arab citizens into the sea, where they escaped in small and medium-sized boats. The Jewish community, according to the film, immediately seized their property.  According to a local resident interviewed in the film, the city of 150,000 Arabs (in 1918 census) was reduced to 30,000.  So is this another classic case of projection?  Is the vicious treatment of the Arabs in the British terrorist strikes on Jaffa, which drove the Arabs into the sea and resulted in Jewish confiscation of their property now projected onto the intentions of all Arabs' (past, present and future) to "drive the Israelis into the sea"?   Is that why the phrase now exists as a mythology of never-ending Israeli victimization of an ever-besieged Israel?  Extrapolating from this mythology, is it too much of a stretch to reason that many Israelis harbor in their hearts a murderous desire to crush and exterminate Persian Iran, which they project as being Iran's intention toward them?  Are they also ascribing their own evil intentions onto Iran?  And are they also projecting onto the Palestinians their own daily vicious theft of Palestinian water and land?

According to a March 17, 2012 New York Times article, there has been no evidence that Iran's is building a nuclear weapon.  This was corroborated in a March 23, 2012 Reuters report stating "The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran's nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead."  The National Intelligence Estimate in 2007 concluded that Iran had given up its nuclear program in 2003 (following the end of the Iraqi threat after the U.S. deposed Saddam Hussein).  What did change was Yukiya Amano, a U.S. sycophant appointed in to head the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2009 and who cooked the books in 2011 to make it appear that Iran was indeed building a bomb. The report has since been discredited, though it remains a handy rallying cry for Neocons and Zionists championing a war.

Israel's Shift to the Right

Unfortunately, official reports that there is no evidence that Iran is not moving toward building a bomb are overshadowed by the Israeli and U.S. right wing war drum beating, for an April 10 Washington Post survey found that 84% of the U.S. public believed that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.  41% favor bombing, but 53% were opposed, Republicans nearly twice as hawkish as Democrats.  In another survey by the Israeli Newspaper Haaretz, 62% of Jewish voters in the U.S. would vote for Obama whereas 30% would like to see a Republican candidate win. Only 4% list Israel as the most important issue influencing their vote.  90% see Palestine as Israel's major problem, whereas 83% think it is Iran. So clearly there is no solid "Jewish block" in the U.S.

But the above poll of American Jewish preferences also reveals how far the Israeli political establishment has moved to the right. For President Obama to say he will launch a war if Iran builds a bomb is a total shift in foreign policy, seemingly driven by the hawkish, extreme right wing Likud party in Israel. In the March 12, 2012 New Yorker magazine, Editor David Remnick documents this radical rightward shift in his editorial article entitled "Threatened," writing that starting with the occupation of Palestinian Territories and "the subjection of Palestinian men, women, and children--that has lasted for forty-five years," Israel has evolved such that it now has "a profoundly anti-democratic, even racist political culture that has become endemic among much of the Jewish Population in the West Bank, and jeopardizes Israel proper."

Remnik goes on to cite a catalog of evidence of Israel's movement to the right in politics. 

"Peter Beinart, in a forthcoming and passionately argued polemic, The Crisis of Zionism, is just the latest critic to point out that a profoundly anti-democratic, even racist, political culture has become endemic among much of the Jewish population in the West Bank, and jeopardizes Israel proper. The explosion of settlements, encouraged and subsidized by both Labor and Likud governments, has led to a large and established ethnocracy that thinks of itself as a permanent frontier. In 1980, twelve thousand Jews lived in the West Bank, ‘east of democracy,’ Beinart writes; now they number more than three hundred thousand, and include Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s wildly xenophobic Foreign Minister. Lieberman has advocated the execution of Arab members of parliament who dare to meet with leaders of Hamas. His McCarthyite allies call for citizens to swear loyalty oaths to the Jewish state; for restrictions on human-rights organizations, like the New Israel Fund; and for laws constricting freedom of expression."

It is with a sense of grief that Remnick continues his litany of atrocious political examples:

"Herzl envisioned a pluralist Zionism in which rabbis would enjoy ‘no privileged voice in the state.’ These days, emboldened fundamentalists flaunt an increasingly aggressive medievalism. There are sickening reports of ultra-Orthodox men spitting on schoolgirls whose attire they consider insufficiently demure, and demanding that women sit at the back of public buses. Elyakim Levanon, the chief rabbi of the Elon Moreh settlement, near Nablus, says that Orthodox soldiers should prefer to face a ‘firing squad’ rather than sit through events at which women sing, and has forbidden women to run for public office, because ‘the husband presents the family’s opinion.’ Dov Lior, the head of an important West Bank rabbinical council, has called Baruch Goldstein—who, in 1994, machine-gunned twenty-nine Palestinians at the Cave of the Patriarchs, in Hebron—‘holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust.’ Lior endorsed a book that discussed when it is right and proper to murder an Arab, and he and a group of kindred rabbis issued a proclamation proscribing Jews from selling or renting land to non-Jews. Men like Lieberman, Levanon, and Lior are scarcely embittered figures on the irrelevant margins: a hard-right base—the settlers, the ultra-Orthodox, Shas, the National Religious Party—is indispensable to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition."

Remnick ends by noting that Netanyahu knows that young American Jews are split, but that he cares only about the Orthodox community that supports him.  Remnick calls Obama a "philo-Semite" for his close relationship with Jews in Chicago and with a number of liberal rabbis. But Netanyahu, cares no more for Obama and the rabbis than he cares for the liberal U.S. Jews.   Israel, Remnick concludes, is in danger that its democratic dream is being deferred, perhaps "fatally."

Obama does not want to bomb Iran (though he is prepared to do so) and while he tells Israel that he has its back, he has made it clear he does not support a first strike by them.  Thus the U.S. has engineered rigid economic sanctions on Iran to force them to totally abandon even their peaceful nuclear program.  But as Julian Cole points out, an economic war with the world's third largest oil producer presents its own hazards.  As the beat of the war drums intensify, and when a greater world oil shortage is created by the sanctions, or if Israel in a fit of hubris makes a first strike on Iran, dragging the U.S. into WWIII, the estimated extra twenty-five cents a gallon we are now paying for gasoline due to the current Israeli/U.S saber-rattling over Iran will seem really, really cheap.  And if there is a military attack on Iran, the resulting global economic meltdown will make the economic meltdown of 2008 seem like a golden age of prosperity.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Iran 2-- Hegemony

By Lloyd Agte
Midway through the Jim Morrison 1967 song "When the Music's Over," he sings/chants the lyrics, "We want the world and we want it . . . "  Then after a dramatic pause quietly asks the question, "Now?" and answers with a screaming "Now-w-w-w-w."  And then presciently, his next line lines are:
Persian night babe, see the light babe
Save us babe, Jesus, save us babe.
How uncanny. Forty-five years after The Doors album "Strange Days," here in this Spring of 2012, an Iranian (Persian), night is steadily descending upon them.  Thanks to the greed looming in the hearts of the politicians, oil executives and neocons who have led us into crippling sanctions on their country, we are now being herded into bombing Iran into the dark, amoral heart of war. Is the chaos that currently floods wrecked and refugee wracked Iraq, who in the midnight gloom of their country is still in mourning over their million dead is not enough?  Must the United States and Israel shock-and-awe another Mid Eastern country into submission?
"We want the world and we want it now"--this mantra of the United States imperialistic foreign policy is altered a bit in the case of the Middle East to "We Want Your Oil and We Want it NOW."  The mantra, of course, is sung not on stage but only behind the curtain.  The smoke-and-mirror filled on-stage media presentation is a performance of talking-head retired military brass, government spokesmen, AIPAC and other Israeli think tank representatives, political office-seekers, political pundits and others, all singing about "creating democracy," "regime change," "nation building," "anti-terrorism," "humanitarian crisis," "stopping weapons of mass destruction," "demonic leaders," "anti-terrorism," "nuclear program," and, well, I could go on, but we all know the song routines by now. And let us not forget the Christian Zionists singing hymns and banging war drums in the lobby about when the Jews have re-conquered Zion and Jesus comes back to convert them, rescue the believers and throw the unconverted into hell, after which Christ begins a thousand-year reign.  Is that the music that Morrison is referring to?  If so, is it perhaps time we heeded the last line above and "see the light, babe?"
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines Hegemony as 1: preponderant influence or authority over others: domination: < battled for hegemony in Asia>
2: the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group.

Adding the word World to Hegemony creates the phrase "World Hegemony," a phrase that pretty much sums up the U.S. foreign policy aspirations following the collapse of the USSR in 1989.  The U.S. indeed had world hegemony after WWII-- for a few months or years.  But when the USSR began expanding its borders, insulating themselves with a buffer zone as defense against another attack on their homeland like the NAZI attacks which had cost Russia over 20,000,000 lives, then began our Cold War with the USSR over world hegemony.


With the collapse of the Soviet Communism in 1989, the U.S. psyche entered an era that in c. 1991 I labeled "Floating Paranoia."  When the cold War ended, I was looking forward to an interim of deserved peace, rest and prosperity.  But no. The neocons quickly dusted off some old grudges, drooled with lust and greed over Mid Eastern oil and gambled (correctly) in Gulf War I that Russia would not stop us from getting it. Thus began the plots to takeover of the Middle East.  President Bush 1's use of the phrase "New World Order" set the backwoods loonies on fire and their paranoia found a new home. Fear of a world-government takeover, of confiscation of personal fire arms, of control by the U.N., of a minority uprising, etc. inspired various vigilante groups, neo-nazis armed militias, and countless conspiracy theories (punctuated with exclamation marks by the murder of Denver D.J. Alan Berg by white supremacists in 1984 and the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal building by terrorist Timothy McVeigh in 1995).  The New Paranoia on the international level eventually settled on our old "enemy" Iran, a country which had the audacity in 1979 to overthrow one of the Palavi Shahs we helped install following the CIA overthrow of Iran's democratically elected Mossadeq in 1953, after he nationalized their oil.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, some of Bush the First's neocon pals were busy hatching plans to conquer the entire Middle-east, starting with Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Iran and so on.  Jeff Greenwald reports of a 1991 conversation General Wesley Clark had with Wolfowitz, a conversation that revealed the "plot" to take over the Middle East:

"He then recounted a conversation he had had ten years earlier with Paul Wolfowitz — back in 1991— in which the then-number-3-Pentagon-official, after criticizing Bush 41 for not toppling Saddam, told Clark: 'But one thing we did learn [from the Persian Gulf War] is that we can use our military in the region – in the Middle East – and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet regimes – Syria, Iran [sic], Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.' Clark said he was shocked by Wolfowitz’s desires because, as Clark put it: 'the purpose of the military is to start wars and change governments? It’s not to deter conflicts?'”

RISE OF THE NEOCONS: Project for the New American Century

Greenwald reports how in a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco Clark recalled the continuation of these neocon plans as they emerged ten years later, in 2001, a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks,  "He recalled encountering a Pentagon source who told him the Pentagon’s plan to attack Iraq notwithstanding its non-involvement in 9/11.  In a coup hatched by Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and what he called “a half dozen other collaborators from the Project for the New American Century”:
"Six weeks later, I saw the same officer, and asked: 'Why haven’t we attacked Iraq? Are we still going to attack Iraq?' He said: 'Sir, it’s worse than that.' He said – he pulled up a piece of paper off his desk – he said: 'I just got this memo from the Secretary of Defense’s office. It says we’re going to attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years – we’re going to start with Iraq, and then we’re going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.'” Wes Clark and the Neocon Dream" by Jeff Greenwald--
Ten years plus down the road (somewhat behind schedule, tsk, tsk) the score is three countries down (smashed, wounded or rendered dysfunctional) and four to go.  Iraq is a failed state, Afghanistan is coming apart (and it may yet be a "Last Helicopter from Saigon" ending), and Libya is shattered into an anarchic cauldron of gang, religious, sect and tribal warfare.  And now a plan is being carried out to get two birds with one stone--bring Iran down by bringing Syria down (an apparently recent [March 2012] shift in plans).  As the map of U.S. bases below illustrates, the U.S. military base power in the Middle East is aiding and abetting the fulfillment of the neocon's dream of a total Middle East coup. Map from Bruce K. Gagnon, "Remembering His-Story Iran Attack Next?"

Our Hegemonic thinking seems to be: the U.S. owns the world and all the countries located thereon; we can violate any border that we think poses a security threat to the United States of America (thank you, but WE will decide what is a security threat). That is unspoken U.S. policy.   As the map above illustrates, Saudi Arabia and Iraq and Turkey (in red) on the West and Afghanistan and Pakistan on the east (in red) flank Iran (in blue).  Iran has natural alliances with Shia Iraq (now in power thanks to Bush2), with Alawite Shia Syria and with the Shia in the oil regions of Saudi Arabia (which makes the Saudis very nervous).

It is no accident that of the 13 U.S bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, 7 are at or near the Iranian border.  And 4 bases are huddled in or adjacent Kuwait and the same number in and around Bahrain and Qatar with another 4 in Iraq.  All these serve the dual purpose of keeping the oil spigots flowing in and near the port cities while also surrounding and isolating Iran Now if Iran were brought to heel, singing the American and Israeli song, then a huge contiguous block of the mid-east would be under The U.S.-Western Europe-Israeli control. (Israel and the U.S. surely have a share-the-wealth plan already worked out behind the scenes).  Syria, called "part of Iran's heart," could also fall under U.S-Israeli-Western Europe dominance, which seems to be the emerging 2012 power game parallel with the "No Nukes for IRAN" power game that has been going heavily in 2011. (See Efraim Halevy's op.ed.,"Iran's Achilles Heel," NYT Feb 7-2012. Halevy, the director of Mossad from 1998-2002, here as a war hawk sees Syria's fall as key to crushing Iran.)


M-m-m-m-m, look at all that land and all that oil just under it.  Oil is money. Money is power. The Empire runs on Oil. "Hmm, how much taxpayer money could we rustle up to launch a strike on Iran, depose the Ayatollah and grab their oil?"  And, "Let's see, how would that sum compare to our buying million or billion dollar drilling rigs and trekking to the Arctic?"  So goes, no doubt, the conversation of top-level politicians and oil executives in their clubroom chats over cocktails.

One word is key to what is behind the U.S and Israeli fear tactic of lying to us that that Iran is making a nuclear bomb to attack Israel.  That word is OIL.  As Michael Klare recently reported on, "Why High Gas Prices Are Here to Stay," the "easy oil"--that which lies near the surface in large pools--has been mostly consumed--except in the war torn Mid East; and that which is to be harvested in the future--deep sea drilling, fracking, Canadian tar sands, Arctic oil--all will be considerably more expensive to find, capture and harvest.  We think gasoline is expensive now, but we probably have not seen anything yet.  The CEO of Chevron in 2005 warned that the era of "easy oil" is over and that future production would be considerably more expensive. Klare continues,

Further evidence for this shift was provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in a 2010 review of world oil prospects. In preparation for its report, the agency examined historic yields at the world’s largest producing fields -- the “easy oil” on which the world still relies for the overwhelming bulk of its energy. The results were astonishing: those fields were expected to lose three-quarters of their productive capacity over the next 25 years, eliminating 52 million barrels per day from the world’s oil supplies, or about 75% of current world crude oil output. The implications were staggering: either find new oil to replace those 52 million barrels or the Age of Petroleum will soon draw to a close and the world economy would collapse.
With the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, we have already seen the environmental downside of harvesting "risky oil."  No doubt the worst is yet to come.  Dismal news like this of course elevates the value of existing "easy oil," particularly that in the Middle East, driving commodity prices higher on the economic exchanges.  Thus, as the greed for the "easy oil" climbs, so does so does its economic value and so does the budget for military expenditures to preserve or to steal it, as the chart below of the 2012 increased Iranian military budget illustrates.

The above chart also shows how it is silly to look upon Iran as a serious world, U.S. or even regional threat. Compared to the U.S.'s military expenditures, Iran is a dwarf.  But given the lust and greed for Iran's oil, it is also easy to see why Iran would want to build nuclear defensive weapons for its own protection against the Oil Pirates, though there is yet no evidence they are doing so.  Sadly, for the current Republican Presidential candidates, bombing Iran is an open and shut case: (Romney; "As president I wouldn't hesitate to bomb Iran." Santorum; I'd bomb Iran on Election Day." Gingrich; "I'd bomb Iran on my first day in office.")

So to come back to the definition of Hegemony in the introduction, in the case of Iran (and now Syria as a means of toppling Iran), it means domination over the oil fields.  It means regime change to accomplish it.  It means oil is the lifeline for continuing the outdated U.S. consumption habits and fueling the global imperial expansion over the world's resources.


Morrison's lyrics immediately after he sings the title words, "When the music's over" are "turn out the lights, turn out the lights." Given our expensive, energy intensive interference in the Mid East, inspired by our greed and lust for oil, and given the rate at which oil is being consumed by our own and an increasing number of rising industrial nations, Morrison's instructions after the title may seem somewhat superfluous.  In a few decades, when the oil runs out, the lights will go out on their own.  Perhaps Jim Morrison is not a prophet after all.