Sunday, June 28, 2009

The idolization of Michael Jackson

The idolization of Michael Jackson has been and is a problem.

It seems the world’s attention has been focused on Michael Jackson’s life, his career, his death, and even a concern over his last will and testament …. Not only the tabloids, but also respected world news coverage have had a heyday over his passing. Everything Michael Jackson has been above the fold for three days now, and the focus will most likely continue ad infinitum. The accolades postulating his falsely arrived at contributions to our life will continue for many years, much the same way as Elvis Presley.

The adulation is an indication of some very deeply entrenched problems with the world. I witness this in my family, with my friends and acquaintances. The obsession is not only with Michael Jackson, but also with the reverence they pay to so-called idols. It’s readily observable in television programming, in movies, and in what reliable magazines and news broadcast are headlining. It’s reflected in our insatiable taste for schadenfreude and voyeurism, as exemplified in soap operas and reality shows.

Michael Jackson was a great entertainer. There is no question about that. It was newsworthy. However, that’s all. He was not a great musician, or father, and did not present a role model for life. I certainly would not want my children, grandchildren, or any human being to emulate their lives, other than that of an entertainer, after Michael Jackson.

Entertainment is an important aspect to human growth. It is important to our cultural evolution; but it has value only when that entertainment is of probity and represents good behavior. Entertainment is also an important divergence from the vicissitudes of life. However, when our lives become preoccupied by worshiping the Michael Jackson’s of our world, when we put more important issues that affect our well-being on a back burner, it, for me, becomes a very far-reaching and serious problem.

An exceptional article by Deepak Chopra, A Tribute to My Friend, Michael Jackson, is very good. It may seem to those reading his article that he is expressing a view contrary to my view, but he is not. It’s a view that I felt must also be included with this writing. I don’t think fundamentally that Dr. Chopra would disagree.
(to leave a comment click on comments )

Friday, June 26, 2009

Severe and seemingly insurmountable impediments to world peace.

The following video presentation is Very Disturbing!

Equally disturbing as Turning Soldiers Into Crusaders is The Cancer from Within.

All religion is a dangerous commodity, but especially when it's religious fundamentalism.

Not only religion, but patriarchy (hierarchial paradigms of organization), money-based economies, and militarism are collectively a deadly combination, and are severe and seemingly insurmountable impediments to world peace.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Campaign for Liberty: Ron Paul on Healthcare


I am in agreement with Ron Paul’s assertions that our current mess in medicine is a result of government failure; that less competition drives up cost; that inflation is one of the reasons for higher prices; that malpractice insurance drives up cost; that freedom is better than coercion; that some people come to the United States for the best medical care; and that as a result of the failure of government, medical care have been at the direction of pharmaceutical, health insurance, and health management companies.

Even though I am in agreement with many of Ron Paul’s assertions, I am, however, in disagreement with some of his other assertions, or, to be more precise, those assertions need to be modified to include some facts as I see them.

The most important fact, of which I agree with Congressman Paul, is that medical care simply costs too much. However, high cost is not totally a result of government intervention, and inflation, which occurs as a resultant economic condition to our American money-based economic system, but also is caused by the unquenchable drive for profit that spirals cost upward. All sectors of the health care industry – pharmaceutical, insurance, hospitals, physicians, and other health care management and supply services – are, on the whole, more interested in profit/meeting their bottom line than in the welfare of their patients: profits first, patients second. The many healthcare associations lobbying in Washington make sure things go their way by keeping competition from flourishing, and are responsible for increasing cost beyond what they need to be.

I am in deep disagreement with Ron Paul’s view that free market enterprise can deliver universally affordable healthcare. The fact is that in American style capitalism and American style free market they cannot. They, i.e. capitalism and free market, have had the opportunity to do that, and they have not. To enact legislation that would essentially leave mandates for efficiency and cost reductions to the same capitalism and free market that brought our economy and healthcare down to the “mess” we are in, or as President Obama has said, keep the status quo, would be very irresponsible. The fact is, in opposition to Dr. Paul, is that high cost are a consequence of not just government, but of a free market without regulation, as well. Our economic quagmire, including healthcare, is a consequence of unregulated, uncontrolled market forces whose only real interest is profit. The healthcare hegemony has coerced government to write healthcare policy that has been self-serving to meet their agenda and to drive profits up.

Government mandated managed care, which is any arrangement for health care in which an organization, such as an HMO, another type of doctor-hospital network, or an insurance company, acts as an intermediate between the person seeking care and the physician, is not regulation; it is more the creation of monopoly than anything else: it reduces competition and increases cost. And, as Dr. Paul points out, increased competition will bring cost down

The fact is that patient expectations are high and that is the way it should be, but that does not mean we should have a responsibility to meet those expectations other than to provide that which has a certain level of qualitative value, is affordable, and accessible to every American. Dr. Paul is correct, patients expect to be medically treated for every condition whether it is catastrophic or for a black eye, and they want immediate accessibility, which more often than not results in high cost emergency room care. As a result, there certainly is a lot of abuse in the system, but the free market is not going to solve that peculiarity and consequently cannot solve this problem of abuse. What will marginalize this abuse will be universal coverage, incentives, and enforceable mandates or regulation.

People come to this country for the best medical care. Ron Paul is absolutely correct, however, the fact is that they come to this country for the best medical care only if they can afford it. For example, King Hussein of Jordan came to America for treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He could afford it, but it is not affordable for every Dick and Jane in America.

Healthcare is tethered and intertwined in very complex ways with government, politicians, special interest groups, health insurance, healthcare providers, and businesses that provide healthcare for their employees. Complexity even takes place in the payment for healthcare through the multiplicity of entities to whom the payment of treatment and services are rendered. After medical care, which may include test, radiological services, laboratory services, operating fees, physician fees … I have personally receive billing statements from each and every one providing care, with billing statements that are not itemized in a clear, understandable way, and what seems to be duplication of charges. This inefficiency and duplication drives cost up. We need a single payer system for healthcare, which a public healthcare plan would provide.

The healthcare proposals that I have read, and of which President Obama supports, includes choice. It even adds to an array of private insurance choices to include a government run plan: so called socialized medicine. And, there is nothing in any of the proposals that talks about an insurance of one size fits all. There is no proposal that suggest equalizing it. The public plan only calls for universal coverage and not equal coverage.

If the United States can provide a tax credit for an individual’s insurance needs, as Ron Paul suggests, why can’t the government just simply provide free healthcare for all: it would be universal, there would be no need for insurance nor a tax credit.

Freedom and liberty are not just colloquialisms, they need not be syntactically used together in sequence for they are synonymous. We need only one word: Liberty. Liberty is an inclusive word meaning freedom, independence, autonomy, emancipation, and rights. Liberty in its essence means 100% liberty 100% of the time. In America, we never have had liberty, it may be more liberty than say China but it still is not 100% liberty 100% of the time. So for Ron Paul, another politician, or anyone else to use those two words in association with their argument for free (as in freedom) market as opposed to government control or socialism is disingenuous or simply faux-naïf. Neither American style free market nor American style socialism will provide liberty, or in any other system, no matter which way you cut it. Money intrinsically is coercive, it’s a tool of manipulation, and as long as we rely on money there will never be liberty.

As an aside, not addressed by Ron Paul, those who say healthcare is not a right, fail to understand the United States Declaration of Independence, which states that every American has an inalienable right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. In that statement, whose meaning many have attempted, and in many cases have successfully achieved, to blur, it is simply commonsensical that that declaration in its essence should include personal wellbeing. To that end, we in exercising our rights within our federal republic and through our elected officials, who we have elected to pursue those rights on our behalf, have no other choice than to consider wellbeing as an essential component to our inalienable rights, which includes healthcare.

Additionally, Ron Paul and all members of congress are not concerned over their personal healthcare benefit, for it is, as some have called it, the Rolls Royce of healthcare, as addressed in the following article:

Health Care for U.S. Congress
Politicians Receive the Country’s Best Care - at Taxpayers' Expense

An excerpt from the article:

While over 46 million Americans remain uninsured and millions more underinsured, members of Congress receive health-related services that many in the U.S. will never see.

Few would deny that a health care crisis looms large in the U.S. In a country with millions of uninsured and underinsured citizens, health care has become more a privilege than a right. Indeed, the United States remains the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t guarantee health care to all its citizens.

But this isn’t the case for members of the U.S. Congress. Representatives and Senators alike receive some of the best health care benefits in the country, much of it paid for with taxpayer dollars. Yet these same members seem unable - or unwilling - to extend similar protections to the rest of America.

Congress, our senators and representatives, in fact receive socialized medicine (meaning to place under government or group ownership or control.) The fact is that you and I pay for 75 % of their healthcare premium. It is with deep disappointment that they hypocritically complain about a public plan not to be in the best interest of America, and what it may cost the taxpayer. Healthcare insurance is costing Americans, the American taxpayer, a bundle now.

Those who say that a public insurance plan will put insurance companies out of business are simply being dishonest. The fact is that if our system of healthcare remains as it is, and individual and group policy choices essentially remain unchanged, the introduction, or increase of competition, of a public plan will benefit Americans. Americans will have a choice from the Rolls Royce to the generic choice of healthcare coverage. Americans will have the benefit of increased competition, which will reduce cost. The insurance industry will have to meet the efficiencies of a public plan by reducing cost to be in competition, which will benefit Americans; or if the public plan turns out to be costly and inefficient, the American style of free market will prevail and Americans will not opt for that choice. Either way a public plan option will only benefit Americans. Insurance companies are simply showing their true colors when they say, essentially, that a public healthcare plan will drive them out of business.

President Obama’s press conference of today, as well as every healthcare message he has delivered, says it all: healthcare coverage that is universal, accessible, and affordable. Is it socialized medicine.? Yes! But it’s not as if we don’t currently have de facto, if you will, socialized medicine, in that there is government intervention in healthcare as it exists today. Republican’s will opine that President Obama is moving towards socialism without realizing -- are ignorant of it, or are putting up a smoke screen when they rhetorically turn socialism into Marxism -- that America has always had its own unique form of socialism. Sometimes it takes the form of the democrat’s style of socialism, and sometimes it takes the form of the republican’s style of socialism, but either way it is still socialism.

Additional reading:

Health care as good as Congress gets? Well . . .
By John Barry, Times Staff Writer

Bleeding the Patient: The Consequences of Corporate Healthcare, by David Himmelstein M.D., Steffie Woolhandler M.D., M.P.H. with Ida Hellander M.D.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

De-Dollarization: Dismantling America’s Financial-Military Empire: The Yekaterinburg Turning Point

I realize that many are in disagreement with the premise of Chris Hedge’s article “The American Empire Is Bankrupt,” but what is supportive of Hedge’s argument, and as he recommended reading, is the essay by Prof. Michael Hudson: “De-Dollarization: Dismantling America’s Financial-Military Empire: The Yekaterinburg Turning Point.”

It’s an outstanding essay.

Moreover, if a country could destroy our economic infrastructure, it could make the U.S. economically impotent, then that country could conquer the U.S. without firing a shot. It seems to me that makes America more vulnerable than any weapon, nuclear or otherwise, our enemy might possess.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The American Empire Is Bankrupt

Other than financing personnel, supplies, and armament, all major international military writing is replete with the importance of economics in winning future conflicts. Much of it expresses the need to get a handle on information technology with a concentration on the ability to disable economic infrastructures as a viable winning strategy of engaging conflict by non-military means.

Under the new conditions of our times, safeguarding peace is in accord with the fundamental interests of our country. History has shown that mankind can not solve every dispute by going to war. Based on years of observation and study of the international situation of social struggle, Deng Xiaoping creatively put forward new ideas on international dispute solving through peaceful means. He has said that we need to have new ways to solve the various disputes in the world today. New problems need to find new ways. He pointed out that we should use peaceful means and not war to solve problems. It would be most proper to solve international disputes through peaceful means. For example, on the question of Nansha islands, we have proposed that on the condition of their recognizing Chinese sovereignty, we could have joint development with relevant countries. With regard to the political and economic problems in the world, we propose that a new international political and economic order be established. Creating new ways to solve problems-which normally are pursued but not necessarily solved through war-by using nonviolent means is, in Deng Xiaoping's words, quite unconventional and requires one to have strategic courage to make the suggestions. -- It will be possible to destroy important military and economic facilities of the enemy without contact with the enemy at the front, and make the enemy lose its ability to resist. [i.e. destabilizing economic infrastructures] Chinese Views of Future Wars by Michael Pillsbury. 1997 (1)

Chris Hedges article, The American Empire Is Bankrupt, predicting doom and gloom, may or may not be in the cards, but it should act as a wake-up-call for action. Logically, it certainly is plausible.

(1) Michael Pillsbury's biography can be viewed at

Friday, June 12, 2009

Request Justice for Phoenix, Dog Set on Fire - The Petition Site

In order for every human being to live in peace and security, we, all of us, must make every effort to marginalize violence, in any form, and to anyone, whether it is to that other animal we call an animal or to the animal we call a human being. Violence simply is unacceptable, and for anyone to stand to the side and encourage it or receive joy in its manifestations of pain and/or suffering or death should be held legally and morally responsible, as well.

The question always comes up as to whether online petitions are effective. To be legal and effective in creating change, of course, certain petitions need a hand written signature and verification that you are who you say you are. However, online petitions, where you can be identified through your email address, your URL, and have a name to whom the online message will be directed, and who, also, can be verified, do bring demonstrated concern over an issue and enlightenment to its existence. It does not have any legal importance, but do influence others that the issue is of public concern. So online petitioning does have some significance and importance. Email chain letter petitions, however, do not. This is not an email chain letter petition.

Moreover, change does not usually happen with a single action. It takes action on many fronts: print and visual media; blogging; talking it over with ones family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances; emails, letters and petitioning with pen and paper; online petitioning; and sometimes, through demonstration.

The Baltimore Sun news article is here ....

Please sign this petition:

Request Justice for Phoenix, Dog Set on Fire - The Petition Site

Shared via AddThis

Thank you

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Healthcare Reform: Money is the problem

The greater problems, if not all, we have in society, are caused in the pursuit of money.

America has all the resources necessary to provide accessible, high quality, and universal healthcare: with a non-monetary economic system, such as a resource-based economic system, we would not even be discussing whether or not our healthcare system should be private or public, or single payer. In the absence of money, we would be discussing authentic ways to find cures and keep people healthier with preventive care. Physicians and other healthcare providers, absent of the need for profit, making their career choices based on their passion for medicine and helping people rather than on monetary return, would have opportunities beyond their wildest dreams.

Without the influence of money, we would have a healthcare system completely free of Healthcare Inequality and Inequity: there would not be 48,000 uninsured Americans.

As Walter Tsou, M.D., M.P.H., Medical Director of the Montgomery County Health Department explains: There are various versions of how people interpret national health insurance. My vision would separate the delivery of health care [resources] from the role of financing [money]. Our current system puts the cart before the horse. Insurers determine how much they want to finance and then force providers to decide what can be provided on these dollars. In a resource-based economy, healthcare decisions would be made between the patient, doctor, and hospital, not with insurers, which in the end insurers are always acting in the best interest of their investors.

Capitalism in its pure form may be an outstanding system. I don’t know I have never experienced it. However, American Capitalism cannot cure the health care system. Reliance on free enterprise and capitalism, American style, has not worked. Our economic system in its present form is what got us into this quagmire in the first place.

The best vision of a healthcare system that is doable today, in our zeitgeist, is one expounded by Dr. Walter Tsou in his article Health care as public good. On Wednesday, June 10th, at a congressional hearing on single payer, Dr. Tsou gave an outstanding short presentation of his vision.

All of America’s and the World’s efforts must be directed toward an eventual resource-based economy. It’s the only way to solve the problem of money. Over time, we can accomplish this enormous task: it is very doable; it is very dynamic; it is extremely viable.

In the meantime, we are going to have to settle for, what seems by some, and it is in a money-based economy, socialized medicine (note: in a resource-based economy, the word socialism would not exist). For now, we will have to struggle with the problem of money. For now, in our zeitgeist, in our present stage of world evolution it is the only way. For America, this should take the form of universal health care and a single payer healthcare system, with an private insurance option for those who can afford the cost.

This, the most important domestic issue of our time, must be supported. Write, blog, speak, and take whatever action with which you are comfortable to get this legislation passed.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

War Is Sin

No one writes about the holocaust of war any better than Chris Hedges. This essay, “War Is Sin,” as well as his book, “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning,” is testimonial to that statement.

Mr. Hedges’ experiences as a war correspondent have given him extraordinary insights that most Americans who have never served can, nor I believe ever will, grasp. Despite America’s experience with war, especially with the Vietnam experience, Americans apparently don’t want to come to grips with the fact that the essence of war is death and destruction; that a soldier’s (any soldier) basic training and modus operandi is to kill.

The anti-war slogan of the Vietnam era, “make love not war,” is entirely relevant, and one the world should adopt for all time..

Chris Hedges’ credentials on the calamitous tragedy of war are unsurpassed.

War Is Sin
By Chris Hedges

The crisis faced by combat veterans returning from war is not simply a profound struggle with trauma and alienation. It is often, for those who can slice through the suffering to self-awareness, an existential crisis. War exposes the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. It rips open the hypocrisy of our religions and secular institutions. Those who return from war have learned something which is often incomprehensible to those who have stayed home. We are not a virtuous nation. God and fate have not blessed us above others. Victory is not assured. War is neither glorious nor noble. And we carry within us the capacity for evil we ascribe to those we fight.

Those who return to speak this truth, such as members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, are our contemporary prophets. But like all prophets they are condemned and ignored for their courage. They struggle, in a culture awash in lies, to tell what few have the fortitude to digest. They know that what we are taught in school, in worship, by the press, through the entertainment industry and at home, that the melding of the state’s rhetoric with the rhetoric of religion, is empty and false.

The words these prophets speak are painful. We, as a nation, prefer to listen to those who speak from the patriotic script. We prefer to hear ourselves exalted. If veterans speak of terrible wounds visible and invisible, of lies told to make them kill, of evil committed in our name, we fill our ears with wax. Not our boys, we say, not them, bred in our homes, endowed with goodness and decency. For if it is easy for them to murder, what about us? And so it is simpler and more comfortable not to hear. We do not listen to the angry words that cascade forth from their lips, wishing only that they would calm down, be reasonable, get some help, and go away. We, the deformed, brand our prophets as madmen. We cast them into the desert. And this is why so many veterans are estranged and enraged. This is why so many succumb to suicide or addictions.

War comes wrapped in patriotic slogans, calls for sacrifice, honor and heroism and promises of glory. It comes wrapped in the claims of divine providence. It is what a grateful nation asks of its children. It is what is right and just. It is waged to make the nation and the world a better place, to cleanse evil. War is touted as the ultimate test of manhood, where the young can find out what they are made of. War, from a distance, seems noble. It gives us comrades and power and a chance to play a small bit in the great drama of history. It promises to give us an identity as a warrior, a patriot, as long as we go along with the myth, the one the war-makers need to wage wars and the defense contractors need to increase their profits.

But up close war is a soulless void. War is about barbarity, perversion and pain, an unchecked orgy of death. Human decency and tenderness are crushed. Those who make war work overtime to reduce love to smut, and all human beings become objects, pawns to use or kill. The noise, the stench, the fear, the scenes of eviscerated bodies and bloated corpses, the cries of the wounded, all combine to spin those in combat into another universe. In this moral void, naively blessed by secular and religious institutions at home, the hypocrisy of our social conventions, our strict adherence to moral precepts, come unglued. War, for all its horror, has the power to strip away the trivial and the banal, the empty chatter and foolish obsessions that fill our days. It lets us see, although the cost is tremendous.

The Rev. William P. Mahedy, who was a Catholic chaplain in Vietnam, tells of a soldier, a former altar boy, in his book “Out of the Night: The Spiritual Journey of Vietnam Vets,” who says to him: “Hey, Chaplain ... how come it’s a sin to hop into bed with a mama-san but it’s okay to blow away gooks out in the bush?”

“Consider the question that he and I were forced to confront on that day in a jungle clearing,” Mahedy writes. “How is it that a Christian can, with a clear conscience, spend a year in a war zone killing people and yet place his soul in jeopardy by spending a few minutes with a prostitute? If the New Testament prohibitions of sexual misconduct are to be stringently interpreted, why, then, are Jesus’ injunctions against violence not binding in the same way? In other words, what does the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ really mean?”

Military chaplains, a majority of whom are evangelical Christians, defend the life of the unborn, tout America as a Christian nation and eagerly bless the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as holy crusades. The hollowness of their morality, the staggering disconnect between the values they claim to promote, is ripped open in war.

There is a difference between killing someone who is trying to kill you and taking the life of someone who does not have the power to harm you. The first is killing. The second is murder. But in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the enemy is elusive and rarely seen, murder occurs far more often than killing. Families are massacred in airstrikes. Children are gunned down in blistering suppressing fire laid down in neighborhoods after an improvised explosive device goes off near a convoy. Artillery shells obliterate homes. And no one stops to look. The dead and maimed are left behind.

The utter failure of nearly all our religious institutions—whose texts are unequivocal about murder—to address the essence of war has rendered them useless. These institutions have little or nothing to say in wartime because the god they worship is a false god, one that promises victory to those who obey the law and believe in the manifest destiny of the nation.

We all have the capacity to commit evil. It takes little to unleash it. For those of us who have been to war this is the awful knowledge that is hardest to digest, the knowledge that the line between the victims and the victimizers is razor-thin, that human beings find a perverse delight in destruction and death, and that few can resist the pull. At best, most of us become silent accomplices.

Wars may have to be fought to ensure survival, but they are always tragic. They always bring to the surface the worst elements of any society, those who have a penchant for violence and a lust for absolute power. They turn the moral order upside down. It was the criminal class that first organized the defense of Sarajevo. When these goons were not manning roadblocks to hold off the besieging Bosnian Serb army they were looting, raping and killing the Serb residents in the city. And those politicians who speak of war as an instrument of power, those who wage war but do not know its reality, those powerful statesmen—the Henry Kissingers, Robert McNamaras, Donald Rumsfelds, the Dick Cheneys—those who treat war as part of the great game of nations, are as amoral as the religious stooges who assist them. And when the wars are over what they have to say to us in their thick memoirs about war is also hollow, vacant and useless.

“In theological terms, war is sin,” writes Mahedy. “This has nothing to do with whether a particular war is justified or whether isolated incidents in a soldier’s war were right or wrong. The point is that war as a human enterprise is a matter of sin. It is a form of hatred for one’s fellow human beings. It produces alienation from others and nihilism, and it ultimately represents a turning away from God.”

The young soldiers and Marines do not plan or organize the war. They do not seek to justify it or explain its causes. They are taught to believe. The symbols of the nation and religion are interwoven. The will of God becomes the will of the nation. This trust is forever shattered for many in war. Soldiers in combat see the myth used to send them to war implode. They see that war is not clean or neat or noble, but venal and frightening. They see into war’s essence, which is death.

War is always about betrayal. It is about betrayal of the young by the old, of cynics by idealists, and of soldiers and Marines by politicians. Society’s institutions, including our religious institutions, which mold us into compliant citizens, are unmasked. This betrayal is so deep that many never find their way back to faith in the nation or in any god. They nurse a self-destructive anger and resentment, understandable and justified, but also crippling. Ask a combat veteran struggling to piece his or her life together about God and watch the raw vitriol and pain pour out. They have seen into the corrupt heart of America, into the emptiness of its most sacred institutions, into our staggering hypocrisy, and those of us who refuse to heed their words become complicit in the evil they denounce.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Lessons of Buchenwald and War: And, again, I ask, why not?

As part of President Obama’s itinerary to the Middle East and Europe, Elie Wiesel walked the hallowed and sacred ground of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany along with President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and another holocaust survivor, Bertrand Herz.

As a part of that highly emotional tour, President Obama gave a speech, “The Lessons of Buchenwald and War,” who then invited Elie Wiesel to make remarks. Although President Obama’s speech was good, and given in his familiar style, Mr. Wiesel’s words, in light of his experience, were more remarkable.

Elie Wiesel, when he was 15, was taken off with his family to the concentration camps at Birkenau and Auschwitz, where he remained until January 1945 when, along with thousands of other Jewish prisoners, he was moved to Buchenwald in a forced death march. Buchenwald was liberated on April 11, 1945, by the United States army, but neither Wiesel's parents nor his younger sister survived. (Wikepedia)

Elie Wiesel received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. When Mr. Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee remarked: [Elie Wiesel has been a] "messenger to mankind," noting that through his struggle to come to terms with "his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler's death camps," as well as his "practical work in the cause of peace," Wiesel had delivered a powerful message "of peace, atonement and human dignity" to humanity. (Wikepedia)

The following are excerpts from Mr. Wiesel remarks at Buchenwald:

The day he [his father] died was one of the darkest in my life. He became sick, weak, and I was there. I was there when he suffered. I was there when he asked for help, for water. I was there to receive his last words. But I was not there when he called for me, although we were in the same block; he on the upper bed and I on the lower bed. He called my name, and I was too afraid to move. All of us were. And then he died. I was there, but I was not there.

And I thought one day I will come back and speak to him, and tell him of the world that has become mine. I speak to him of times in which memory has become a sacred duty of all people of good will — in America, where I live, or in Europe or in Germany, where you, Chancellor Merkel, are a leader with great courage and moral aspirations.

What can I tell him that the world has learned? I am not so sure. Mr. President, we have such high hopes for you because you, with your moral vision of history, will be able and compelled to change this world into a better place, where people will stop waging war — every war is absurd and meaningless; where people will stop hating one another; where people will hate the otherness of the other rather than respect it.

But the world hasn’t learned. When I was liberated in 1945, April 11, by the American army, somehow many of us were convinced that at least one lesson will have been learned — that never again will there be war; that hatred is not an option, that racism is stupid; and the will to conquer other people’s minds or territories or aspirations, that will is meaningless.

I was so hopeful. Paradoxically, I was so hopeful then. Many of us were, although we had the right to give up on humanity, to give up on culture, to give up on education, to give up on the possibility of living one’s life with dignity in a world that has no place for dignity.

We rejected that possibility and we said, no, we must continue believing in a future, because the world has learned. But again, the world hasn’t. Had the world learned, there would have been no Cambodia and no Rwanda and no Darfur and no Bosnia.

Will the world ever learn? I think that is why Buchenwald is so important — as important, of course, but differently as Auschwitz. It’s important because here the large — the big camp was a kind of international community. People came there from all horizons — political, economic, culture. The first globalization essay, experiment, were made in Buchenwald. And all that was meant to diminish the humanity of human beings.

World War I, at the time, was hoped for as “the war to end all wars.” Then without an effort to make those words stand, World War II was embarked upon with war raging against the Japanese and Germans. On Saturday, the world observed the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944, when World War II Allied Forces stormed the beaches at Normandy, France, which was significant to the defeat of Germany’s Adolph Hitler. World War II finally ended against Japan and Germany in 1945. Over seventy million people, the majority of whom were civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history. Again, Word War II was so horrific the world declared it “the war to end all wars.”

Since then we have involved ourselves in wars in Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as other belligerent actions around the world. And, as Elie Wiesel point out, we still had the horrors of Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, and Bosnia.

Americans and most of the world say that they understand that war is heart-wrenching, horrific, a great evil, and a holocaust greater than any other, while at the same time, paradoxically, glorify war and believe it is the path of the true hero. War, unfortunately, remains the force that gives us meaning.

Presidents, historians, and scholars, say that history is a great teacher. They are correct, we have learned from history. However, instead from those experiences finding roads to peace, we have found better and more efficient ways to wage war and greater efficiency in the methods and means to kill each other.

People have not learned. America nor the world will never learn, grow, and evolve over time to a better place as long as Americans embrace a mindset that dictates peace as not possible; that dictates belligerence supersedes negotiation. When Americans call me, in a derogatory manner, a peace lover, and in doing so resign himself or herself to the belief that there has always been war and there will always continue to be war, which in so many words seems to always be there follow-through remark; when people think killing is better than talking, then we will never achieve world peace.

Robert F. Kennedy, U.S. senator and the attorney general in the administration of his brother John F. Kennedy, and who was assassinated during his 1968 race for the Democratic presidential nomination, famously said, "There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not." Why not, why can’t we, as Elie Wiesel has said, have a world “where people will stop waging war — every war is absurd and meaningless; where people will stop hating one another; where people will hate the otherness of the other rather than respect it.”

General Moshe Dayan, former Israeli Defense Minister, said, "If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies." And I ask, as does President Obama asks, why not? We must build paths to peace.

Will the world ever learn? Will there ever be a time when we say, never again, and actually mean it?

If Americans and the citizens of our world cannot dream of things that never were, envision a world at peace and ask themselves why not, why can't we achieve a world at peace, and take personal responsibility for it, the answer will continue to be no.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Commentary: AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA , by Lou Pritchett

You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.

President Barack Obama, on February 10, 2007, became a candidate for President of the United States. For over two years, he has been vetted and scrutinized by every politician, American voter, and media outlet in the United States. He has also endured the same critique by the people of other nations. Racist have chastised him. His character has been questioned. He articulates his views very clearly. Unless one simply doesn’t believe what he says, then it seems to me, we know a great deal about President Obama. Unless one can read minds, we will not know anymore. Those who claim they know nothing about him are being disingenuous, or they are ignorant and not capable of understanding or comprehension, or saying they know nothing about Barack Obama because of some unknown hidden agenda of their own.

You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.

Mr. Pritchett, you could have easily found the answer to that question on your own. That is if you really wanted to know. An explanation is presented in this video by no less than Fox News (well known for their conservative bias): School Days

You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.

Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter (1977-81), born in Poland; Henry Kissenger was U.S. Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, born in Germany; Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, was born in Austria. None of these patriots spent their formative years of youth growing up in America: would anyone argue that a part of these Americans culturally are not American. Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and raised, mostly in Hawaii, by his late mother and grandparents. The last time I checked Hawaii as part of the Hawaiian Islands was admitted as the 50th state in 1959.

You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.

I believe that very few, if any, U.S. Presidents have run a company or met a payroll. I believe that most major corporate executives, CEOs, have actually not run the “nuts and bolts” of a company or had direct management responsibility for meeting a payroll. Besides, the fact is that the President of the United States does not run a company: he is in a position of leadership, and as president, will never have to meet a payroll, per se.

You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don't understand it at its core.

Does Mr. Pritchett know that Dick Cheney, former vice president and Secretary of Defense, no less, who directed the United States invasion of Panama and Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East never served in the Armed Forces became eligible for the draft, during the Vietnam War, and he applied for and received five draft deferments.

Did you know that John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Grover Cleveland, William H. Taft , Woodrow Wilson although he served as President during World War I., Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Bill Clinton never served in the Armed Forces

Last, but not least, Franklin D. Roosevelt who served as President of the United States during World War II -- Commander in Chief of the mother of all of America’s wars -- never served in the Armed Forces.

The fact that President Obama had no military experience is of no practical importance; and is irrelevant.

You scare me because you lack humility and 'class', always blaming others

This statement is just simply not true. It is the subjective opinion of Mr. Pritchett.

You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.

Is this statement made because of the accusation by some that the President is at heart a Muslim? President Obama has persistently explained that he is a Christian. Perhaps you feel this way, Mr. Pritchett, simply, again, because you do not believe him.

On the other hand, is this statement made because McCain virtually accused Obama of being a terrorist for his limited association with William Ayers, and you align yourself with McCain. The President has said, The gentleman in question, Bill Ayers, is a college professor, teaches education at the University of Illinois,” “That’s how I met him — working on a school reform project that was funded by an ambassador and very close friend of Ronald Reagan’s along with a bunch of conservative businessmen and civic leaders. Even McCain said, when his terrorist remark against Obama got out of control, to one of his supporters, and I am paraphrasing No! No! He is not a terrorist, he is a decent man. He is a man I am running against that I simply disagree with.

To say that President Obama has aligned himself with radical extremists and that he refused publicly to denounce those who wish to see America fail is a false statement. Mr. Pritchett, if Senator McCain can recognize that he is not a terrorist or that the accusation is at its heart false, why can’t you.

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the 'blame America ' crowd and deliver this message abroad.

America has been wrong about many things. To deny that would be irresponsible. However, President Obama, in the sense this remark is made, is not a cheerleader for the blame America crowd. To try to convince others of this is also being disingenuous.

You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.

If you want to accuse the President of being a socialist, that’s fine. He is. Nevertheless, call it what it is. America has never been, in so many ways, anything but socialist. It may be America’s brand of socialism, but it is and always has been socialism.

You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government-controlled one.

Where have you been, Mr. Pritchett, America’s current system of health care is a failure. It is in desperate need of reform. The free market enterprise of insurance has not been effective in controlling cost or in improving quality.

You scare me because you prefer 'wind mills' to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.

Such a statement is deceiving. President Obama has talked about windmills as playing a role in his energy plan, but I have never heard him say that it is his preference.

You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg, which provides the highest standard of living in the world.

You can never kill something you never had in the first place. The end of capitalism cannot occur because it never began. True capitalism operates in an economic free enterprise environment with little or no government control, which in the United States is not happening nor has it ever happened. The United States has always operated within the Keynesian paradigm. It was this form of American capitalism -- the American capitalist -- and reliance on the free market enterprise system to regulate itself, which got us into our economic quagmire in the first place.

You scare me because you have begun to use 'extortion' tactics against certain banks and corporations.

If you mean by extortion the illegal use of one's official position or powers to obtain property, funds, or patronage. Yes, he has. However, he has not begun to use extortion tactics: Extortion and coercion is what governments do. President Obama is doing nothing more than another politician would do under the same circumstances.

You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.

Now, let me see if I have this right: $700B under the Bush Administration, or so, is okay to bailout Wall Street; it’s okay to spend $674B, or so, on the Iraq War, a war of Bush’s design; but $787B under the Obama Administration, or so, is not okay to bailout Main Street. Do you really think if McCain or any republican were President, or if it were a republican dominated congress, things would be essentially any different? How much less do you think the stimulus legislation would have been? No stimulus? Perhaps McCain and the republicans would do nothing and rely on their ideology that the American free market system is the best system in the world for creating wealth, it will self-regulate, and if left alone it would solve its own problems. That seems to be the republican mantra. This is simply not a solution. Reliance on American style capitalism and laissez faire economics has been the problem. It took close to a year before the financial folks and the republican administration would even acknowledge we were in a recession.

You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.

President Obama, more than any president in my lifetime, has personally expressed his desire and willingness, and has by example, to listen and consider opposing points of view whether they are intelligent people or not.

You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.

Mr. Pritchett, there is not one statement or example that anyone could point to where President Obama, outside of the political hyperbole, could be authentically accused of his belief that he is omnipotent and omniscient.

You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.

Again, a political hyperbolic assumption; I don’t find it to be factual. How about the Limbaugh’s, Hannitys, Fox News, O'Reilly's, Becks, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, and many other less known personalities? Do you really think Obama is getting a free pass from them?

You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaugh’s, Hannitys, O'Reilly's and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view.

President Obama has never, to my knowledge, demonized or by example indicated that he was out to silence the Limbaugh’s, Hannitys, O'Reilly's and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view. However, I personally do for their over the top, hyperbolic, uncivil, and abusive, and unnecessary diatribe.

You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.

To control is to govern. That act of governing is management at a higher level than just to be a manager. The process of managing is to plan, organize, direct, staff, and control. In my view, this is what I would expect President Obama to do. In the hierarchical paradigm within which America assesses power or domination as value, rather than leadership in and of itself, one could not expect anything different.

Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.

This statement is the most absurd, irrational, radical, distasteful, and insincere of all of Mr. Pritchett fears.

In conclusion: Mr. Pritchett, spreading unfounded fears, which ultimately leads to hate, is what really scares me: especially when it is done by someone that assumably should know better than to propagate fear.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Commentary: Did Bernanke and Paulson Commit Bank Fraud?

An article written by Thomas R. Eddlem

The answer to that question is an affirmative yes.

However, Mr. Eddlem’s contention that it is myth that unregulated “free enterprise” as a financial system failed under the Bush administration is simply a false argument.

The government’s financial leadership in Washington and Wall Street is untrustworthy at best and felonious at worst. Furthermore, that is not new; they are and have been for decades. That is why it is necessary for a system of checks and balances, oversight, and of regulation.

Not only did top government officials engage in fraud but also did many on Wall Street. Many investment firms, mortgage firms, and other free marketers deliberately practiced deception, swindles, and schemes in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain from investors. They include, for example, those who engaged in home flipping; loan officers who changed the personal income amount that a purchaser stated he earned in order to provide the purchaser the loan; manipulation of credit default swaps from what were essentially insurance contracts to investment contracts in order to circumvent the requirement of issuers to put up reserves and by doing so avoid the need to be licensed as insurers.

Those free marketers, believers in laissez-faire economics who invested with Bernie Madoff, certainly must have known what Madoff was selling them were “too good to be true.” For the most part, they were savvy investors. However, they did not care; all they were concerned with is in the creation of wealth, mostly for themselves, but for Bernie as well. They were willing to let Bernie take the greater part of the risk of being caught while they hoped to ride the wave as long as they could and then at he right moment jump ship. Their timing simply was poor. No one can tell me that most of those folks were unaware.

It makes me wonder: How many other Madoffs are still out there?

It is hard to believe that anyone today would believe that this happened totally because of government interference. For anyone to believe that is totally naïve and has his or head deeply buried in the sand like the proverbial ostrich. The human condition being what it is makes laissez-faire free enterprise impossible. Wall Street and free marketers have set the example that they do not have the suitable credentials and essential character to police and regulate themselves.

The real question to ask: Are there any real true and blue, authentic free market practitioners or economists with probity out there? The answer to that question is possibly yes, but you probably could count them all on one hand.