Saturday, July 26, 2014

Losing sympathy for Israelis

I am losing my sympathy for the Israelis.  It's not just the slaughter of innocents in their recent attack on Gaza (latest count is about 800 dead Arabs and about 32 dead Jews).  I have finally opened myself to the points being made by the Palestinians in this ongoing struggle.

I think who you sympathize with is a function of where you focus your attention. 

If you focus on terrorist activity of Hamas, then you sympathize with the Israelis who have rockets being launched at them.  Of course, Israel's Iron Dome seems to render them pretty ineffective, with very few actual casualties.  But, nonetheless, we in America can imagine rockets coming at us and can agree that it is right to stop the terrorists launching them.  So we see the Palestinians as filled with hate for the Jews and dedicated to killing them and driving Israel "into the sea."

But, a funny thing happens if you shift your focus from the terrorist Hamas, and focus instead on the Palestinians themselves.  An Israeli Jew and son of a famous Israeli general who established the State of Israel, Miko Peled, focuses on the treatment of the Palestinians at the hands of the True Believer Zionists in charge of the Israeli government.  It is not a pretty sight, at all.  He make a very persuasive case that the Zionists, led by Netenyahu, see no place for Arabs in Israel, see no place for Palestine at all, and have been dedicated to pushing all Palestinians out of Israel since its founding in 1948.They do this by making life as miserable as possible for Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.  

John Judis of the New Republic makes the same claim making such points as:  Israel is essentially a colonial power occupying, ruling, and terrorizing the Palestinians; Israel builds settlements aggressively in the occupied territories taking more and more land from the Palestinians; Israeli settlers attack Palestinians with no real restraint from the Israeli government; Palestinians may not travel abroad without Israeli permission - what?; there are hundreds of roadblocks that hinder the movement of the Palestinians, but none for Jews; water supplies are cut off to Palestinians - wow!; Israel has cut back fishing rights for Gaza from 6 miles to 3 miles, severely reducing its fishing economy; I presume the list goes on and on.

It is certainly true that Hamas deliberately provokes Israel to commit barbarous atrocities as a response to Hamas's terrorism, so shame on Hamas.  But, you know, shame on Israel too.  

What to do?  Beliefs complicate it a lot.

First, right wing Israelis and right wing Americans both see the issue in a particular way, that is, it is a problem that can only be solved militarily - attack, defend, kill, punish, be Manly Men and show everyone Who's the Boss.  But, that has proven over and over to me that it does not provide a long term solution in many cases, and I don't see that as a way to do anything in Israel except create more and more misery, resistance, hatred, and terrorism in response the Israeli (backed by America) military killing and tyrannical rule.

Second, American politicians have all pretty well conceded that they cannot get elected if they don't show nearly full support for whatever the Israeli government wants to do.  What happens in Israel is not all that important to America or to American politicians, so rather than risk their careers they just go along with the flow and support Israeli tactics and strategies.  Even if those tactics and strategies fail over and over and over again.  In a sense, who in America really cares?

Third, there are about as many Jews in America as there are in Israel, and American policy is strongly influenced, and perhaps dictated, by American Jews.  And the political arm of the Jews in America seems to be pretty solidly fierce Zionists dedicated to the safety of Israel and see that as only possible by punishing the Palestinians.

Fourth, I can certainly understand that 70 years ago the world felt a terrible guilt about the Holocaust of the Jews in WWII, and wanted to give the Jews a homeland so they would have a place to be safe.  But, I think time has proven that they can only be safe if they make room for a safe and prosperous Palestine, fully empowered and prosperous side by side in the land that has been disputed for so long.  I know the common argument is that the Palestinians will not allow that and are dedicated to the destruction of Israel, but I no longer believe that.  I am starting to conclude that the attacks on Israel are a function of the Colonial and brutal rule of the brutal Zionists in charge of the Israeli government.

Fifth, the only real solution is for both sides to let go of the hatreds and cherished and nurtured grievances of the past and look only to now and to the future.  I am very hopeful that if the Israeli government shed the fierce Zionists who see their only means of survival as driving all Palestinians from Israel, and was run by a new brand of Israeli, like Miko Peled, who would treat the Palestinians with the same laws and ethos that it treats Jewish citizens, then the misery and thus the grievances of the Palestinians would fade away.

And then, people would not be mistreated and oppressed and would be able, and I think willing, to live in peace with each other.

It's all a question of who you focus on - the Israelis being attacked by the terrorists of Hamas, or the Palestinians being oppressed by the Zionists in charge of Israel.  

How about changing facts on the ground and have the Palestinians living in a state that gives them the same rights and treatment as it gives the Jews?

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Tea Party, Communists, and Utopianism

The Tea Party drove me out of the Republican Party some time ago.  They convinced me that they were right that I was a RINO (Republican in Name Only).  I have always been socially liberal, and for quite a while I was an economy and defense conservative.  But, W’s war and the financial collapse of 2008 made me rethink my politics and change my mind. The absolutism of the Tea Party sealed the deal.

I stopped believing in W’s war when I decided that we were creating more terrorists than we were killing, and that we were setting off a region wide Islamic civil and religious war that could consume the world.  I reluctantly conclude that the democratization of the Middle East by attacking it has been a big failure.

I stopped believing in Reaganomics when I had to admit that the lack of regulation, the cutting of taxes on the wealthy, the "Freeing of the Markets" by gutting the effectiveness of the government ended up gutting the prosperity of the middle class rather than unleashing a prosperity for all.  We need a new Teddy Roosevelt to restore the power of the government to crush the Oligarchs and free the markets back to competitiveness.

I believe it is no accident that one of the Tea Party’s guiding lights is Ayn Rand.  When I was 20 I read “The Fountainhead” and was totally captured by her image of a Truly "Masculine Man", Howard Roark – flawlessly self-sufficient, hard, tough, a real "manly man".  But, time passed and I grew up and that ridiculous caricature of manliness, a kind of comic book version of manhood, fell away, and I found that being a man was not about being chiseled out of stone, or being heartless, or denying any needs for other people. 

Fortunately, we are very human, flawed, and interconnected.   Indeed, the whole Survival of the Fittest notion needs to be replaced by the understanding of Survival of the Collaborative, that’s the way it is with wolves, bees, redwood forests, all of nature actually. 

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the high tech age that we live in, where all of the exponential advances come on the shoulders of last week’s exponential advances, and progress is made by collaborative teams rather than Lone Rangers riding in with Silver Bullets.  The idea of a future created by the hyper-masculine men dreamed up by Ayn Rand that so excites the imaginations of adolescent boys (of all ages) is best replaced by an idea of the future of synergistic collaborations of all the talents in the country and the world, men and women, young and old, all races, collaborative growth and change.

Back to Ayn Rand: she fled communism and started up her ideology of hyper-individualism.  But, temperamentally, she never really stopped being a communist.  That is, just as communism is based on an utopian view of a humanity that is unrealistically altruistic and caring, Ayn Rand’s hyper-individualism is based upon an utopian view of humanity that is unrealistically self-sufficient and independent.

Utopians become radicals who want to tear it all down so that their utopian notions of an ideal society populated by their utopian notions of ideal people can flourish.  Of course, the tearing down part is easy, makes the revolutionaries feel really important and powerful - they bravely would rather die than give in to compromise.  But the utopias never happen, they are always dystopias instead, and then we all have to live in the nightmares that they created. 

Communism is one failed nightmare, Tea Party’s super masculine individualism and fierce independence would be another.  But I expect that the Tea Party will destroy itself before it destroys the rest of us.  We can hope.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Now that the Supreme Court has given Corporations the status of personhood with religious beliefs, what next?

Now that the Supreme Court has given Corporations the status of personhood with religious beliefs, what next?

The Religious Right Wing of the Republican Party is very happy with the five justices that decided on the Hobby Lobby case.  They see it as a victory for religious freedom because the owners of Hobby Lobby are devout Christians who see some forms of birth control as actually being forms of abortion and thus a violation of the owners’ conscience. 

The odd part of the ruling, as I understand it, is that it grants personhood to the corporation itself, because the ruling says that the Hobby Lobby corporation cannot be forced to offer insurance coverage for birth control methods that violate its religious beliefs.  It’s not that the corporation can’t be forced to offer birth control methods that violate the beliefs of the owners, but rather the corporation can’t be forced to offer birth control methods that violate the CORPORATION’S religious beliefs. 

The Supreme Court gave the status of personhood to Corporations and endowed the newly “personhooded Corporations” with the power of having religious beliefs that cannot be violated.

This is a very big mistake, it seems to me.  When the five conservative justices made a ruling in accord with their own Christian religious beliefs, they did so in a manner that could have pretty bad future consequences.  I know they tried to limit this ruling to “only” contraception, but it’s the camel’s nose under the tent, it seems to me.

Christians are not the only religion in the United States.  There are Jews, Mormons, Native American religions, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christian Scientists, etc. etc.

Will Christian Scientist corporations eventually be able to deny any medical insurance because they don’t believe in medicine?  Will Jewish corporations eventually be able to insist on circumcision or keeping holy the Sabbath?  Will Muslim corporations be able to enforce Sharia law within their corporations – stoning adulterous women? Cutting off hands of thieves?  Genital mutilation of women?  Extreme examples, but it makes a point of the nonsense of granting personhood to corporations and honoring that “corporation’s religious belief.”

The whole idea of empowering corporations with personhood that includes having religious beliefs and giving that corporation the right to act on those religious beliefs seems to me to be a terrible step into a very unknown direction.  The law of unintended consequences can become pretty destructive. 

It is time for a big change in the Supreme Court.  These foolish men are hurting this country.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Supreme Court FIVE decides to force us all to obey their personal religions

It seems to me that all the sanctions and punishments by the Religious Right Wing around the area of sex are against women (and gay men too of course, who are seen as kind of like women).  The Religious Right Wing wants to prevent women from having abortions, and, oh yes, prevent them from using birth control, or, more to the point, prevent them from having sex (except in the case of marriage, but even then no abortions or even unapproved birth control methods are permitted, I guess).  Wow.  

Do you think that we will see the Religious Right Wing decide to sanction and "punish" men for this same sex that "bad" women are having?  (I think it does take two to "tango")  Let's see, how could they do that?  They can't force the men to be pregnant, maybe forcing men to marry the women they impregnate with no chance of divorce until the child has been raised to adulthood?  You know, paying the piper for the dance, so to speak?

I think we'll never see the male sex partner gone after the way the female sex partner is being gone after by these righteous folks.

So, for some reason, the Religious Right Wing thinks it is OK to force women to be pregnant and give birth against their will.  

Bible thump, bible infinitum.  I really do wish they would stick to trying to get people to join their religions rather than trying to force all of the nation to obey their religions.