Friday, October 30, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

I have not viewed Michael Morse’s new film, Capitalism: A Love Story, in its entirety, but I have viewed its trailers. I have read the reviews, I have seen Larry King's interview on CNN, and have read other online interviews. I am familiar with Michael Moore’s previous work. His trailers now nor in the past have ever motivated me to purchase a ticket or a CD.

Completely in the style of Michael Moore, the movie seems to be too much spectacle for my taste, and it certainly would not add anything to my understanding of the problem that I have with capitalism. I agree with his message, but there is nothing new regarding capitalism in the film that has not been already incessantly hashed over in print or the electronic media. And as Luke Buckmaster describes the film in Capitalism: A Love Story film review: Moore American antiestablishmentarism it is loud, ballsy, instantly palatable and designed for the masses. Again, it does make me wonder whether or not Mr. Moore is in fact at heart a capitalist, since these films are clearly made for profit.

I agree with John Stossel in his post, What's Michael Moore Talking About?, where he says he's never clear about what capitalism means. In interviews, Michael Moore provides his own definition of capitalism as a legalized system of greed. But, of course, that is too simplistic and does not sufficiently describe capitalism. Again, it does make me wonder, because if he thinks that capitalism is all about greed, and since in his mind he is not producing film out of avarice, then he maybe under the impression that he is not a free market capitalist. But, in the film, Moore does make some salient points, and he is absolutely correct when he says capitalism has failed.

John Stossel is also correct when he says the real answer is a separation of state and economy -- stripping away Wall Street's privileges. In other words: Limit government's power. But Stossel is wrong when he says Let the free market work.

The problem is that a free market cannot be free from regulation, no more than our streets and highways can be free from traffic lights and speed limits, or that society can be free of laws and regulation. Free market capitalists cannot be left to their own devices. That’s exactly why we are in our current economic quagmire. Free market capitalist need to be regulated. When politicians, pundits, and others use the word freedom in their rhetoric, which is as American as apple pie, do they really understand that since the founding of our nation, America has never been free, in the authentic, essential sense of that word.

The real answer, for now, is to take profit out of all essential social needs, such as healthcare, education, safety, security, and also housing, for it does not live-up to America’s principles and is immoral to be standing-by and accept homeless Americans to exist, sleep and some even to die as a result of exposure, out-of-doors. The long-term solution to our problems is to evolve over time to a moneyless society.

One of the moneyless society criticisms I have heard is the claim that it is socialism, wherein all societal needs will be satisfied in an egalitarian way. However, they are wrong. One can use socialism, capitalism, or any other currently known economic system, only in reference to money-based systems, or some other value-based exchange system. In a moneyless society, those words have no meaning.

Wikipedia has a good overview: Capitalism: A Love Story
A review from RollingStone; Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dismantling America

A response to Thomas Sowell’s Dismantling America posted on

It is indeed troubling when ostensibly intelligent and well-educated people, like Thomas Sowell, from all appearances, do not seem to research the subjects of which they discuss or write. Is it that they don’t know how to read or don’t understand what they read? Of course, they know how to read and they do understand, and to say they don’t is ridiculous. They, in their writing and conversation, will read into, imply, obfuscate, mislead, misinform, or deviously use hot-button language that incites their audience because they want vulnerable Americans to get on the same page as they regarding the issues.

The issues in Sowell’s latest article have been long ago hashed out contentions. The article by Republican congressman Paul Broun of Georgia that Thomas Sowell has focused on was published almost a year ago, back in November 2008. President Obama had just been elected. For some reason people just won’t let go of these arguments even though they have all been resolved to the satisfaction of most reasonably minded people.

Sowell’s czar argument can be easily researched. It took me about a second to find the information for which I was looking. A very excellent answer to his argument and insinuations can be found at I am not going to address Sowell’s talk radio, death panel, or school children remarks because their falsity can be easily be determined with a simple Google search.

A list of so-called czars and number of czars compared with other administrations can be found here: List of U.S. executive branch czars.

Sowell’s statement that President Obama has already floated the idea of a national police force, something we have done without for more than two centuries is also being very disingenuous, and I believe Mr. Sowell knows it. Again, another very excellent explanation can be found at,

Sowell uses Fox News as a source, as in this statement, Any miscalculation on his part would be in not thinking that others would discover what these stealth appointees were like. Had it not been for the Fox News Channel, these stealth appointees might have remained unexposed for what they are. Fox News is now high on the administration's enemies list. Sowell’s credibility sinks into the abyss when he used Fox News, such as the programs of Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Bill O’Reilly, as a source to critique Obama.

Sowell states, Nothing so epitomizes President Obama's own contempt for American values and traditions like trying to ram two bills through Congress in his first year-- each bill more than a thousand pages long-- too fast for either of them to be read, much less discussed.

I believe Mr. Sowell is talking about healthcare reform and the stimulus bill when he remarks about two bills rammed through congress in his post. Mr. Sowell, as well as others, always use interesting language when they take potshots at President Obama, such as Sowell’s use of the word ram in the last quote. President Obama was not ramming (meaning to force) anything. Just because someone wants, appeals, or request something does not mean the intention is to achieve it by force. Any administrator is going to ask for or set due dates for projects, reports, or studies. It is axiomatic for a good manager to do that with his subordinates.

President Obama simply was citing his expectations that the House and Senate would have their versions of healthcare reform by the August break, so the bills can be unified in the fall. It’s only reasonable to expect that if a bill was to be passed this year that it would be necessary to do that.

As far as the stimulus bill is concerned, Thomas Sowell, in another article, claims the stimulus was rushed through Congress in two days. He claims the Obama administration was successful in rushing a massive spending bill through Congress in just two days — after which it sat on the president's desk for three days, while he was away on vacation. says this is false.

Monday, October 26, 2009

C-SPAN | Washington Journal

Representative Dennis Kucinich discussed his views on the war in Afghanistan, climate change legislation, and heath care. He responded to telephone calls and electronic communications.

Dennis Kucinich is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives and was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2004 and 2008 elections.

Dennis Kucinich is an outstanding congressman. I wish more in congress would follow his lead on the issues.

Obama's Vindictive and Personal War on Unbiased News

There are three reasons for writing this post. First, I read a post, Obama's Vindictive and Personal War on Unbiased News by Floyd and Mary Beth Brown. Second, quite coincidently, immediately following that reading, I so happened to listen to Sunday’s edition of Reliable Resources on CNN news where part of the discussion focused on the Obama’s administration controversial rejection of Fox News. Third, due to my fairness sensibilities, both of these presentations ruffled my feathers.

So, who is kidding whom? What planet do Floyd and Mary Beth Brown live on? To claim Fox News is unbiased is the most uninformed comment anyone could make.

Of course, not all Fox News is biased, but their flagship program hosts, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck certainly are. And, of course, it is precisely these programs that are in contention.

Fox News at one time gave the appearance at least of unbiased and fair coverage with the conservative Sean Hannity and the liberal Alan Colmes hosting the Hannity and Comes program, but for some unknown reason that ended. Why did Alan Colmes leave the show? Does anyone know?

Fox News chair Rupert Murdoch is fairly well known for his philosophy and style of delivering the news, particularly in the print media, but the electronic media as well. He is frequently criticized for lowering journalism standards by presenting news in tabloid format utilizing sensational material. Fox News’s slogan and disingenuous claim that they are fair and balanced, when they clearly are not.

It’s important to keep in mind that Rupert Murdoch declares himself a libertarian. He is a man who is only interested in profit. Like Limbaugh and some other talk shows, liberal or conservative, their rhetoric is only meant to serve the bottom line. Whether or not any of them really believe in what they are saying is anyone’s guess; until one can read the human mind no one will ever really know. All I know is that ratings are the most important mission they all have, and that means increasing profits, and. Fox News Ratings [are] Increasing tremendously. reports, Matt Gross, who left Fox News in March 2001 after working as a web journalist and editor, wrote to Romenesko about Reina's note: Let me just say that the right-wing bias was there in the newsroom, up-front and obvious, from the day a certain executive editor was sent down from the channel to bring us in line with their coverage. His first directive to us: Seek out stories that cater to angry, middle-aged white men who listen to talk radio and yell at their televisions. (Oh, how I'd love to stick quotation marks around what is nearly a direct quote.) To me, FNC reporters' laziness was the worst part of the bias. It wasn't that they were toeing some political line (though of course they were; see the embarrassing series on property rights from 2000), it was that the facts of a story just didn't matter at all. The idea was to get those viewers out of their seats, screaming at the TV, the politicians, the liberals -- whoever -- simply by running a provocative story," he wrote in October 2003.

Floyd and Mary Beth Brown wrote in their post: When Communications Director Anita Dunn defined Fox News as ‘a wing of the Republican Party’ then mocked and belittled it by saying, ‘But let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is,’ and continued by writing Illustrating just how thin-skinned our commander-in-chief is, he pronounced that Fox News is ‘operating basically as talk radio.’ The fact is, other than Barack Obama is thin-skinned, both statements are factual. Fox News centerpiece opinion programs are in fact in the mode of Rush Limbaugh’s radio talk show, and Limbaugh’s show is not a news program. They more than anything attempt to tell one how to think. This is in accord with the news presentation philosophy of Rupert Murdoch. Now, would anyone expect President Obama to be interviewed by Rush Limbaugh on his talk show -- no reasonable person would.

CNN’s Reliable Sources segment, White House v. Fox News, presented a very good discussion.

Although, and as I pointed out in my October 24th post, America’s Confluent Socialism-Capitalism: to be an American means accepting, to an extent, the blending-in of radicalism, diverse as well as congruent views, and even the wild, sometimes off-the-wall rhetoric of talk show host, and that of Limbaugh and Beck. This all-inclusive freedom of speech and democratic, cultural, religious, racial, political, social, and economic diversity is what makes America American. This convergence Americans should welcome and embrace. The inputs and infusions of ideas will always contribute to new ways of thinking and will make America progressively stronger, more knowledgeable, vibrant, and always challenging.

It’s un-American to deny free speech, but that does not mean one has to accept it as the gospel, that it’s unquestionably true. It should be treated only as input and the output from it should be collectively logical and reasonable.

Like a simple pendulum swinging back and forth from one course, opinion, or condition to another, at some point it comes dead center. It swings in accordance with the forces of gravity, and as the bob swings to the far left and then the far right as it collects all that is there, and as it swings, it sublates all propositions to a center point where it comes to some hopefully reasonable and logical conclusion; then the process is repeated. It goes on and on into infinity.

CNN Reliable Sources transcript
Fox News Channel Controversies
Fox News Ratings Increasing Tremendously"
Fox News Anchor Rebukes Dem Rep. For Mocking "Fair & Balanced"
Glenn Beck dives off the conspiracist deep end with nutty guilt-by-association game
Reliable Sources

Saturday, October 24, 2009

America’s Confluent Socialism-Capitalism


Politically, the hot button issue in America today is socialism.

From Limbaugh to Beck, conservative, republican, libertarian, and every other opponent of President Obama it seems posit President Obama as either a Marxist, socialist, communist, or Nazi.

The conservative media makes these accusations because they know how it riles up their listening audience. It incites them to listen and participate. Politicians use these incendiary words to denigrate President Obama and the democrats, again for the same reason, it riles up their base. Some Americans just simply parrot what they hear, and really don’t know what they are saying; they simply have been imbued with that it’s un-American. Therefore, the extraordinary usages of these expressions are not meant to describe any sincere political or economic position.

Beyond the disingenuous use of these designations is the tendency by many to group Nazism, Marxism, and communism all under the same umbrella as socialism.

The Britannica Concise Encyclopedia defines socialism as a System of social organization in which private property and the distribution of income are subject to social control; also, the political movements aimed at putting that system into practice. Because "social control" may be interpreted in widely diverging ways, socialism ranges from statist to libertarian, from Marxist to liberal.

From we have the definition: Socialism, like libertarianism, is an exceedingly vague ideology. The definition of socialism is founded on two fundamental maxims: Thomas Jefferson's, ‘All men are created equal," and Karl Marx's’ From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Problematically, socialists offer few practical details about how these two principles are to be realized.

Then there is Rush Limbaugh’s definition of socialism, which he defines well, but goes off message when he goes ballistic on his radio talk show. Rush is a commentator who knows the meaning of socialism, how it has been experienced and exists today in America, but uses it to rile up his listening audience.

All of these folks, in the talk and visual media, politicians and their interlocutors, are informed individuals who pray on the ignorance of Americans. They know that America is uniquely socialistic and capitalistic, and that there must be controls through regulation placed on the free-market.

Conservatives instill the belief in those who are vulnerable that President Obama is a radical, that he at heart is a Marxist, a communist, and do their best to tie those beliefs to socialism, even taking a step further by saying President Obama is a fascist, while those who are listening to this nonsense don’t understand that we already are a nation embedded with socialism. It may not be pure classical socialism, but it is socialism, never-the-less. It is socialism, but also capitalism and free market, the American way. It is 100% American, and there is no way in our democracy that it will lead to Marxism, communism, or fascism. Those who believe otherwise reveal their lack of confidence in America, our democracy, and in themselves as Americans.

We have had a long history of Socialism in America. Our brand of socialism has evolved since the founding of our nation. It is uniquely American. For example, as Terence Ball, professor of political science at Arizona State University explains: The ‘Pledge to the Flag,’ as it was originally called, was not descriptive of then current conditions, but it was aspirational: ‘One nation, indivisible’ invoked a nation undivided by differences of race, class and gender. And ‘with liberty and justice for all’ it envisioned a nation in which women could vote and African Americans need not fear rope-wielding ‘night riders’ of the KKK. The Pledge of Allegiance was written by C. Francis Bellamy, American Baptist minister; author of the original Pledge of Allegiance; brother of Socialist author Edward Bellamy, whose Socialist convictions Francis shared, costing him his pastorate in Boston in 1891 for refusing to hide his socialist convictions during the course of his sermons.

In America it has never been one size fits all. Libertarianism, conservatism, and liberalism have contributed to the America of today. Democracy needs a healthy balance between liberty, equality, and justice for all, and a dynamic tension between them in order for America to grow, to evolve into a better place and therefore to survive, paraphrasing Charles W. Dunn, dean of the School of Government at Regent University.

America calls itself The Melting Pot. A metaphor that symbolizes diverse cultures, religions, and races that form America’s integrated society. So, too, why shouldn’t it be with everything and anything American, including our politics, economics, and the way we govern ourselves. The Melting Pot includes the blending-in of radicalism, diverse as well as congruent views, and even the wild, sometimes off-the-wall rhetoric of talk show host, and that of Limbaugh and Beck. This all inclusive freedom of speech and democratic, cultural, religious, racial, political, social, and economic diversity is what makes America American. A very special and unique confluence of socialism and capitalism is part of what makes America viable. This convergence Americans should welcome and embrace. The inputs and infusions of ideas will always contribute to new ways of thinking and will make America progressively stronger, more knowledgeable, vibrant, and always challenging.

Americans are all on the same page when we challenge things; Americans are not on the same page when we accept the status quo, no matter how oxymoronic that may sound.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Are The Differences Between The Soul And The Spirit?

A friend wrote … had a kid ask me what the difference was between the soul and the spirit and struggled to find a concise answer, so I googled it and found this written by Mary Matthews: the human soul is what governs the human hardware -- the ‘software’ of... human existence, our very own ‘operating system,’ unique to each of us. The human spirit is the ‘electricity’ that animates us.

Colloquially the soul is often thought of in essentially material ways, such as in “The Soul of Jazz,” and in Mary Matthews quote: the human soul is what governs the human hardware -- the ‘software’ of... human existence, our very own ‘operating system.’ In a certain sense, these metaphors are true, but defining soul is much more complex, and profoundly deeper than that.

Spirit in the colloquial sense is thought of as one's charisma, exuberance, and outward expression of the love of life. That’s the sense metaphorically expressed with the word electricity in Mary Matthews’s spirit quote.

It’s easy to give concise meaning to phenomena perceptible by the senses, because they are observable in everyday terms expressed as a result of human experience: The Soul of Jazz, human hardware, software of human existence, electricity.

I once wrote in The Essence of Who You Are, The metaphorical soul of jazz is the essential, evolving, conscious soul of all life: ‘... finding who you are beyond form, beyond time,’ ‘the underlying essence of all life.’

But, beyond that, there is really no concise, factual answer to the question; it cannot be explained in a few clear or succinct words. In ways, it is ineffable. We yet do not have the knowledge to authentically define or explain the spirit or soul, which is so much a part of our life’s experience.

I believe, however, the soul and spirit are synonymous with consciousness. Therefore, I use the word consciousness to be inclusive of soul and spirit.

Additionally, one cannot talk about consciousness without including karma in the conversation, because karma is the source from which consciousness evolves.

So, I have a premise, a conjecture, a hypothesis, or theory, much of which is related to what has been learned -- and, written about as in Peter Russell’s The Spirit of Now -- from quantum physics.

Consciousness can be thought of in the same way as light. Light is made up of photons, which sometimes act as particles and at other times waves. Similarly, consciousness, and in particular its karma, the photons of consciousness, if you will, also, hold properties. Karma holds as properties a collection of all you experience, good/moral or bad/immoral. The law of karma describes the universe as an interconnected network in which every action causes a reaction to occur in the future. As is consciousness, light is isotropic, omnipresent and omnipotent, from which light’s properties allow humans to see. As light allows vision, consciousness allows us also to see, but not as in vision, but that to see in the metaphorical sense, something transcendent and beyond the bounds of our laws of physics, that which is beyond our natural world, beyond our three-dimensional world of objects. Consciousness works collaboratively with the brain to contribute to understanding, comprehension, and perception. It allows us to look at things objectively, but more importantly subjectively, as well. However, unlike the phenomena of light, consciousness is omniscient. It is the source of everything in this world’s dimension, including light. It is the nuts and bolts of that inner world of you, of what essentially makes you, you.

All of this happens within our laws of physics, biology, and chemistry, in our life’s particular dimension: The Anthropic Principle, the principle that requires the laws of nature to be consistent with the existence of intelligent life.

Humans gained vision via the evolutionarily development of their biology and chemistry, whereby reflections of light cause chemical reaction that permits vision. In the rod cells of an eye's retina, the light-induced change initiates a complex cascade of chemical reactions that transmit electrochemical signals that the brain perceives, resulting in vision.

However, in reality, there is something beyond those objects we see, beyond those electrochemical signals. Its essential essence is not what humans see as objects. It essentially is lacking form. It is beyond the ordinary range of perception; it is beyond the limits of experience and hence unknowable; it is above and independent of the material universe. It is an interpretation we make of that transcendent something, via the interaction of light with our eyes, electrochemically transmitted to our brain. Consciousness is only a part of a transcendent something. That transcendent something, for the lack of a better word, I simply call stuff.

I borrowed from the dictionary some phrases that describe stuff: stuff is the basic substance of essential elements that qualify a person for a specified role (in the form of objects, and spiritually as karma); and it has a special capability (we could call this spirit/soul/consciousness) from which things are or can be made (in the material sense as well as the spiritual sense). Stuff is the source from which all things in our world are realized: vision, hearing, smelling, tasting, and the sensation of touch. The source of all materiality. And, it is even the source of our sense that there is somehow something we call the soul.

Stuff, therefore, is the basic constituent of all things, which includes consciousness and its karma. Just as life evolves genetically, and in so many other ways -- culturally, memetically (meme) -- likewise so does karma evolve in consciousness. Keep in mind, consciousness is karma’s container; it is its essential element. Karma is that part of consciousness that is particularly yours.

It all works together in a collaborative way within our dimension and within all possible dimensions. It is believed by many that human consciousness originates in the brain, and is manifested especially in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination. However, I believe, consciousness is an out of body experience, even extraterrestrial, where the working of the mind is consciousness interacting with the brain. Consciousness should be, although an elusive phenomenon, regarded as the most authentic aspect of our reality. In essence, it is the fundamental reality. It certainly makes the concept of mind (antiquated usage, mind in this sense is the brain, made of matter), body, and soul (consciousness/spirit) more profound. Hierarchically, this concept should be expressed: stuff (the source of all things), consciousness (soul/spirit), brain (the CPU), and body (the mechanics of it all – the way in which it all is manifested).

There will come a time when science will be able to substantiate stuff and consciousness, show its connectivity and how it interacts with us individually, collectively, in our world, universe, and cosmos -- the totality of all existing things, its omniscience -- Our Omniscient God, which is essentially that inner world of you. You are it!

When that time comes, there will be substantial proof beyond theory that there are in fact other dimensions. At that time, perhaps, we will have come as close to discovering the Theory of Everything as possible. When humanity grasps its implications, we will have taken a giant step toward abandoning old ideas, we will have in fact taken a giant step toward world peace. For with this endorsement humanity should understand that we are all made of that same stuff, that which is beyond our current knowledge of physics, biology, and chemistry, that we are who we are, in the material sense -- i.e. as to whether we are black or white, pretty, beautiful, or not so beautiful, short or tall, etc. --, by random circumstance. Everything we know, all knowledge, and everything and anything we can perceive spiritually or materially comes form that stuff. Humanity will understand that objects -- our material world -- are erroneous perceptions of reality; that our obsessions with race and religious differences are nonsensical. We will have a different set of values. That our obsessions with schadenfreude, icons, celebrity, war, violence, guns, and the love of money are not just factors of life, or necessary to life, that everyone just needs to accept, but that they are in fact illusions, and what is necessary to life is peace, which is achieved through greater knowledge, understanding, compassion, and love.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Brief for Whitey

This post is a response I made to an email of a March 21st, 2008 Pat Buchanan blog post entitled A Brief for Whitey .

Pat Buchanan, a senior advisor to American presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan is a true-blue, hard-nosed conservative. He also has some very unacceptable racist views.

Buchanan says, White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to.... Well, white America has been heard from, from racist Americans like he, time after time, over and over again.

His comment America has been the best country on earth for black folks. Where is the gratitude? Really! I assume then that he has never read the history of the black experience in our country.

Pat Buchanan wrote a memo urging Nixon not to visit the Widow King -- his term for Coretta Scott King, Dr. Martin Luther King wife -- on the first anniversary of her husband’s assassination. Buchanan wrote that a visit would outrage many, many people who believe Dr. King was a fraud and a demagogue and perhaps worse.… Others consider him the Devil incarnate. Dr. King is one of the most divisive men in contemporary history.

Pat Buchanan said This has been a country built, basically, by white folks.

He has written America faces an existential crisis. If we do not get control of our borders, by 2050 Americans of European descent will be a minority in the nation their ancestors created and built. No nation has ever undergone so radical a demographic transformation and survived. Only whites have the appropriate “genetic endowments” to keep America from collapsing.

He has written no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the ' 60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream. Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks -- with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas -- to advance black applicants over white applicants. Churches, foundations, civic groups, schools and individuals all over America have donated their time and money to support soup kitchens, adult education, day care, retirement and nursing homes for blacks.

Buchanan says blacks should be thanking white people -- or should I use the word Whitey -- a racist word in-and-of itself -- for all the good fortune they have had in America. He says they should express their gratitude.

Buchanan speaks as if all those social programs are meant only for black people. Got news for you Mr. Buchanan, those social programs were put into place for the health, safety, and the well-being of all Americans who are or have become disadvantaged.

It was not white America that brought equality and justice for black men and women. It was folks like Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, the Little Rock Nine, Linda Brown, Ruby Bridges, Homer Plessy, and yes, Malcolm X and Jesse Jackson. It was events like Bloody Sunday, and the courage of people like little eight year old Sheyann Webb that contributed to the appeal to conscience in our Nation that resulted in various Civil Rights Act of the 1960’s. They and others, black and white, courageously pursued their ideals at very grave risk to themselves, and some even gave there lives in the pursuit of equality that not only benefit people of color but white (colloquially expressed as if white is not a color) as well. There are hundreds of others who are well known, as well as those who may be less known, who have all made contributions to a better world of equality and justice, as we know it today.

Pat Buchanan talks about America being a Christian Nation. This email states We are a Christian Nation and further states even if Mr. Obama says we are not.

It is simply mind boggling to me that there is such hypocrisy in the Christian Nation. I know that if I was to sit down at my kitchen table and have a conversation with Jesus regarding these issues that he would be appalled.

It’s appalling to me that Buchanan, and others like him, can claim themselves to be Christians.

Even to reject and degrade another race, or their nationality, culture, or their religious beliefs is not being a Christian, at least as I understand the tenets of Christianity to be.

Pure and simple, America is not a Christian Nation. To denigrate our nation by implying that we solely are, works totally against what our nation professes itself to be. To claim that we are a Christian Nation is simply being ignorant, disingenuous, narcissistic, and hubristic.

So, the content of this email, at least in my view, does not reflect any of the values that Christians or Americans say they hold dear in their hearts.

The fact is that we do have a Legacy of discrimination. It’s real and must be addressed where and whenever it raises its ugly head. The election of Barack Obama, or the enactment of Civil Rights Legislation, was not in anyway shape or form a cure-all for America’s propensity toward racial discrimination. This email certainly is testimony and a very good example of that.

And as with the email I received, and in fact with most email comes the obligatory: Will you pass it on?

Because I am for a better America, I have.a

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Very Deserving Prize for Peace

President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize because of his willingness for America to speak in a different language: a language of partnership and cooperation rather than the language of force, which is the only language America has ever seemed to know, and particularly has been true during the eight years of the Bush administration.

In a article, Nobel Prize for Promises by Howard Zimm stated, The Nobel committee said its decision to honor the president was motivated by Obama's initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee lauded the change in global mood wrought by Obama's calls for peace and cooperation, but recognized initiatives that have yet to bear fruit: reducing the world stock of nuclear arms, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future,
said Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Committee.

Former Noble Laureate, President Jimmy Carter said awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama was a bold statement of international support for his vision and commitment. The award shows the Obama administration represents hope not only for Americans, but for people around the world. The Nobel committee's decision Friday showed support for Obama's work toward peace and harmony in international relations.

Former Vice President Al Gore, who was another Nobel Laureate, called Obama's Nobel Peace Prize award extremely well deserved and an honor for the country. He said that what Obama has accomplished already is going to be far more appreciated in the eyes of history. He cited Obama's United Nations speech on abolishing nuclear weapons, his shifting of the missile defense program in Eastern Europe, and Russia joining with the United States and other countries to confront Iran on nuclear nonproliferation.

David Gergen on CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s 360 Degrees, in a complimentary yet cautionary statement said all my experience in the White House points to the idea that if an American president is popular in public's overseas, it strengthens it hand in negotiation and diplomacy.

But let me say this, it complicates it back home. In this sense, on Afghanistan, if he makes a decision now not to exercise the robust option, not to go for a big troop increase, he will immediately be attacked for playing to the European audience, for playing to a peace at any price crowd in Europe.

And that's going to further polarize and make the -- building a consensus here in this country on issues as tough as Afghanistan and Iran, I think more complicated. And in that sense, this is a great -- a boon to the president about this is also a burden for him here at home.

Accolades of this kind are satisfying in that it is one of the primary reasons President Obama received my vote. It was his views on how we should conduct foreign policy and his views of peace over war -- his willingness for America to speak in a different language: a language of partnership and cooperation rather than the language of force. In his nine month tenure as President, he has demonstrated that commitment and this deserved Peace Prize is in recognition of that.

A good conversation between Anderson Cooper, Fareed Zakaria, David Gergen, and others on CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s 360 Degrees, which aired on October 9th , underscored why President Obama received the prize, specifically the views of Fareed Zakaria.

ZAKARIA: Well, I think David Gergen points out something very crucial and something that's very dysfunctional in the American political system right now.

But I think these people would criticize Obama no matter what he did. I mean the idea that Rush Limbaugh is going to criticize this award and that this should come as a surprise is absurd. I mean these are outrage machines, they're sitting there every day praying, you know, for something that they can get worked up about and rile up this small audience.

This is like manna from heaven for them.

Fareed, it's interesting, internationally, people don't seem so surprised. But here in the United States, a lot more people seem surprised. Are Americans underestimating the impact President Obama has had internationally?

I think so. And I think in a sense it's an award to the United States more than it is to Obama personally. It's an award to the United States for re-engaging with the world, for casting away, if you will, eight years of George Bush and really for -- to Obama, personally for sticking with what he campaigned on which was a new start in the war on terror on issues like torture, Geneva Convention, winding down the Iraq war, reaching out to the Muslim world.

Is it political in a sense of being -- you said a repudiation of the eight years under President Bush, is it political in that sense?


Do you think this is a slap in the face for President Bush?

Absolutely. And Anderson, to your original point, in 2008, the President of the United States' approval rating in Great Britain, our closest ally -- very tough country, fights with us in every war -- was 17 percent. It is currently 82 percent. It's actually higher in France and Germany.

So there is a sea change. And some of it is Obama and his staff. But a lot of it is I think there is a real yearning in the world for a United States that is more willing to engage with the world that doesn't bully, that doesn't think it's, you know, it has the answer to every problem in the world.

And the fact that Obama represents this means he becomes the repository of this view.

COOPER: Do you agree that he's a weak leader?

ZAKARIA: No, no, that the award was given because he's a different kind of leader. Obama is making a pretty bold gamble here which is that, it is possible for an American president to talk about cooperation, multilateralism, engaging with the world and show Americans that this is a sign of strength. That it is a way to solve common international problems.

For 30 years, roughly since Vietnam, it has been political suicide to do that. And that's why Democrats have tended to always pretend to be very tough, or be very tough, or sound very tough. There has always been a hawkish definition of what it meant to be a strong international leader.

Obama is trying to change the terms of that debate and in doing that, the Nobel committee is I think rewarding him. I happen to think that you can't solve most of the global problems we face right now without a lot of international cooperation. We're in a different world, but it's a bet. And Obama and it may turn out that, you know, the American public is turned off by it.

A big problem with America is the illusion that one must talk and walk like George W Bush in order to be considered a strong President. A message to our foes that is rhetorically belligerent is considered taking a position of strength. If a President talks about corporation and negotiation as a way to solve conflicts it is thought of as appeasement, a word made famous by the English statesman Neville Chamberlain who was prime minister of Great Britain in the years preceding World War II, and associated with the policy of appeasement toward Nazi Germany that culminated in the Munich Agreement of 1938. The agreement signed by Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler has entered the English language as a synonym for weakness, and historians continue to debate whether it would have been wiser for Britain to risk war rather than to require Czechoslovakia to surrender the Sudetenland to Hitler. However, appeasement, which is the policy of granting concessions to potential enemies to maintain peace, is not at all the same as cooperation and negotiation to work out differences.

Too many Americans respond to the jingoistic rhetoric of folks like Limbaugh and Beck, which do not produce healthy attitudes for our nation.

So, very deservingly, He Won Because He Speaks of Peace.

Also, read: A Nobel for Defeating Cheneyism

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Commenting on a New Afghanistan Strategy

Torgny has left a new comment on the post "A Viable Afghanistan":

I support Obama in most issues of his politic, but not in this one. War is a strategy that usually proves being destructive, and can only be used for self-defence. Violence tends to create more violence, so we have to be very careful how to use it. The real war is in my opinion about winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. But American troops complain that Afghans don’t support them. Despite eight years of war, the war about the hearts and minds has so far been lost. Something must be wrong. You can’t say that we are helping others and they are only disgraceful to us.

I doubt that torturing Afghan people will provide any military help, but we can be sure that it has made the people in Afghanistan very hostile to USA. The frequent air-raids where many civilians are being killed. Imagine what reaction it would be in USA if Mexico sent air-planes to USA hunting drug-dealers and many American children were killed in these raids.

What is the purpose of this war? What is it supposed to accomplish? Why is USA losing the most important war in Afghanistan – the war of the hearts and minds of the Afghan people?

Torgny, I agree with you.

However, it’s irresponsible and even immoral to abandon Afghanistan again for the second time. We supported the Afghan mujahideen (known today, as that movement evolved, as the Taliban) in the Soviet–Afghan War from 1979-1988. In 1988, once the Soviets withdrew, US interest in Afghanistan ceased. The US decided not to help with reconstruction of the country and instead they handed over the interests of the country to US allies, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Pakistan quickly took advantage of this opportunity and forged relations with warlords and later the Taliban. And, so, we have the situation we are in today.

A new strategy with increased emphasis on soft power, involving more civilians from all likeminded countries participating in conjunction with NGOs, while diminishing hard power as the tribal areas become more secure, I believe is a winning strategy. If the United States and the world community ignore Afghanistan, yet another time, we will be fighting there again in some future war. I guarantee it.

I believe the following video from CBS’s 60 Minutes of Sunday, October 11 addresses your concerns, validates some of your concerns, and introduces us to some other concerns.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Viable Afghanistan

In terms of cost-effectiveness/cost-benefit: the United States has conducted war in Iraq for some six years, and in Afghanistan going into its ninth year. In that time, it does not seem we have accomplished much, if anything. America has certainly spent more in blood and treasure than was actually loss in blood and treasure on 911, which was the reasoning behind the invasion of Afghanistan and the preemptive attack on Iraq. It certainly doesn’t seem that it was economical for the benefits received on the money spent.

There may be associated additional undeterminable cost, and these numbers are arguable, but on the surface, the 911 attacks cost New York City about $95B; the repairs to the Pentagon cost $501mn. The total costs to date of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are in the vicinity of $915.1B Since we have been in Iraq and Afghanistan for sufficient and significant time without achieving their predicted success, it is abundantly clear that the cost-effectiveness of these wars has been extremely poor, if not zero.

Not only the dollar cost for both wars exceed the cost to repair the damages caused in the attacks, but also the casualties for both wars exceeds casualties as a result of the September 11th attacks on the United States.

In total 2,995 people, including the hijackers, were killed as a result of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Any numbers given for civilian casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan is a prediction and certainly arguable, however, since the U.S. and coalition attacks, based on lowest credible estimates At least 753,399 people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. This number includes U.S. , Afghan, and coalition troops; it includes Afghan civilians, contractors, and journalist.

Economist Edward Lotterman writes, The Germans [World War II] made the mistake of assuming that they had success in the bag on the Western Front and could allocate military resources elsewhere. That is precisely the mistake the Bush administration made in 2002 when, after having routed the Taliban government from power in Afghanistan, it decided to take a break from the war on terror and oust Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

The opportunity cost of concentrating military and nation-building resources on Iraq was that Afghanistan festered, the Taliban regrouped and in Afghanistan, the government wobbled aimlessly. Now, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, and other officials candidly admit, the situation in Afghanistan is highly discouraging. Seven wasted years have made the establishment of a successful government friendly to the United States problematic, indeed.

There is no way to place a dollar value on the benefits of deposing a dictator like Saddam or on the long-term costs of an Afghanistan, and perhaps a Pakistan, ruled by bitter enemies of our country. But I'll bet my money that future historians will judge the trade-off chosen by the United States in 2002 as bad a decision as that made by the Germans 88 years earlier.

We irresponsibly wasted our opportunity cost in Afghanistan in Iraq. Contrary to popular opinion, Iraq is not a success. What we have done is emboldened Iran.

In order to achieve success in Afghanistan, President Obama, therefore, has a critically important decision to make. If President Obama decides on the side of General Stanley A. McChrystal's call for a new Afghanistan Strategy, and, if my assessment of General McCrystal’s strategy is correct, it just may be successful. But will be a long haul.

The caveat or heads-up in all of this may be that the Pentagon and General McChrystal may be selling us a bill of goods, as Robert Scheer writes in A War of Absurdity: It is a prescription, as the Russians and others before them learned, for war without end. That might satisfy the marketing needs of the defense industry and the career hopes of select military and political aspirants, but it has nothing to do with fighting terrorism. In the end, it would seem that some of our leaders need the Afghanistan battleground more than the terrorists do.

Either President Obama decides on a clear and comprehensive new strategy that includes real concern and help for the Afghan people, or he should cut our losses and run. However, in doing so a lot of blood and treasure would have been lost in vain. The Afghan people would be left in the same situation as prior to 2001. They would be left with the menace of the Taliban, who are more ruthless, particularly with their impulsive punishments against women, than Saddam Hussein. Success to me lies in helping the people of Afghanistan. The ripple effect, over time, of that would be the establishment of a viable economy, a viable system of education, and a viable, efficient, effective, and non-corrupt public administration, which would marginalize the influences of al Qaeda and the Taliban so that they are left without influence, and severely diminish their viability and ability to harm any nation; with a viable national product other than cocaine; and with a military strong enough to repulse any threat or return of the Taliban or al Qaeda. Containing the Taliban and al Qaeda, the ability to manage their menace, is a better option than seeking to destroy them, which I believe is simply unachievable.

What we really need is new ways of thinking, a different mindset, in Afghanistan.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rush Limbaugh says it all … Oh, Really!

The rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh is more of a problem for America than it actually is a benefit. His rant does not offer any solutions. He has no intention of making any contribution to resolving issues, or creating understanding, only to stir-up controversy and create political polarity.

When Limbaugh in his appearance on the Jay Leno show says, I'm saying we've got enough mistakes the federal government's run. We don't need to compound it with more programs. I just believe the market will take care of it. Most of the people in this country are very happy with the health coverage, the health treatment that they get. There's no reason to turn it all upside down. And all this is being done -- Jay, I'll tell you what really worries me about it. Forget the intricacies of health care. If the government gets control of health care, that's the single best way that they get to control every aspect of our lives: what we eat, what we drive -- because it will all have impact on health care costs, their responsibility via our taxes, and it's just a mechanism whereby government grows and grows and grows and we lose liberty and freedom to it. And that's what the problem with nationalized health care is.

The market will take care of it, Limbaugh says. Well, he is wrong. Regardless of those useless arguments of government interference and the poor behavior on part of the consumer, it is government and free-market capitalism that got us into this quagmire in the first place. Yet he wants us to believe the answer to the problem is to leave it to the free-market capitalist to solve these problems. Market forces will make the corrections. At one time, I was naïve enough to believe that. We now have solid existential evidence that that is not the case

When Limbaugh says, Most of the people in this country are very happy with the health coverage, the health treatment that they get, he is being disingenuous. Some are and some are not happy with their healthcare coverage, but in almost every case Americans will say it is too expensive, and they cannot afford the coverage they would like or feel they need.

No one is trying to turn it [healthcare] all upside down. When he says, I'm saying we've got enough mistakes the federal government's run, does Limbaugh really believe that private sector enterprises are free from error? Is he aware of the fact that in the quest for profit if private enterprises screw-up it cost the consumer more. Government as well as private enterprise are capable of running things poorly, making errors, and in the end insidiously costing the consumer more; more for the products and services they purchase, but also the applicable taxes for those products and services.

Limbaugh apparently does not realize that the United States armed forces is a branch of government, and to most people they run the armed services brilliantly. Does he understand that when one joins military service one loses all of their freedoms and liberty, for when the government finds it necessary to have Americans kill on the government’s behalf, rather than to talk, no one objects to Americans losing their freedoms in order to do that. No one complains about the cost of waging war. He does not understand, apparently, we have already lost our liberty. Americans will say we have the most powerful military in the world. They say, the VA, albeit with all its faults, it is still an exceptional organization. However, the government will do a poor job at managing healthcare for its citizens?

The money people in this world already have control over every aspect of our lives. The methods of wealthy oligarchs is sophisticated and insidious. They are as dangerous, and perhaps more so than the state. If anyone should think that this isn’t so, then why are so many Americans fearful of the ramifications of Jekyll Island and the New World Order. For those who may not be aware, I suggest they read The Creature from Jekyll Island, by G. Edward Griffin.

Rush Limbaugh also said on the same Jay Leno show, No, no, it's not. If you believe in the capitalist system, then you have to erase from your whole worldview what does somebody need. It's not about need. Capitalism is not about need. It's about providing; it's about growing; it's about opportunity; it is about doing whatever you want to do.

I have read Henry Hazlet's Economics in One Lesson, Bastiat’s Parable of the Broken Window, Adam Smith’s theory of the Invisible Hand, Ludwig von Mises’s Human Action, and of Keynesianism I am aware, so I do realize the simpleness of the following paragraph, but it is the basis of our current day truth.

At one time, people had a need to have an equitable means of exchange; it meant just that: I gave you what you needed in exchange for something that I needed. Nothing more than that -- nothing-excessive -- no profit. In the case of paper money, as an equitable means of exchange, I gave you money so that you could buy and replenish what you sold to me, I satisfied your need, because in turn I have purchased from you that of which I needed or desired. What grew out of all of this was an obsessive quest for profit, something more than just a fair exchange for goods or services. The free-market capitalist unwittingly involved government when their criminal behavior and greed in pursuit of wealth got out of hand. They made it more complex than that simple equitable means of exchange. Today the free-market capitalist are not interested in the authentic needs of Americans, and in many cases they even create or drum-up a need through marketing. Their interest goes even beyond simple profit: they are more interested in gathering more and more personal wealth. The concept of fair exchange or equitability over time turned into the practice of wealth creation.

So, Limbaugh is correct when he says, Capitalism is not about need [he’s right]. It's about providing [true]; it's about growing [right again: wealth creation]; it's about opportunity [for more and more profit]; it is about doing whatever you want to do[if your wealthy].

Limbaugh, as well as Glenn Beck, et al, seem to be for many Americans the de facto spokespersons for the Republican Party, Conservatism and far right radicalism. For me, therefore, this Limbaughism, by which many people are unduly influenced, is the very crux of the problem, and is at the heart of the healthcare debate.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sounds like you really like O (O for Obama)

Recently a friend made that comment.

Well, I like O (President Barack Obama) much better than any other politician in my lifetime.

Most people when they criticize O need to understand that he is first and foremost a politician. That is the professional field of endeavor, good or bad, from which we elect our Presidents. A politician utilizes strategic and tactical political skills to accomplish change in a political environment, and so it only makes sense (unfortunately) that a politician would fill that role. Secondly, the opposition to O need to understand that in most every proposal or recommendation for change O has made he has qualified it as something that will have full effectiveness over time; change cannot possibly happen by 6:00 tomorrow morning. America’s obsession with immediatism and instant gratification is one of its major weaknesses.

In my view, America has three additional pervasive weaknesses: capitalism, narcissism, and militarism. American free-market capitalism is not an authentic form of free-market capitalism. However, even if it were pure, it would not solve the problems, particularly that of greed. It is not government intervention in the marketplace that creates greed and criminality. Of course, Socialism is not the answer either. The narcissist is obsessed with nationalism and patriotism, the need for immediacy, personal gratification, and it is all about me and to hell with you. Militarist are the warriors, gun owners, and defenders of violence. They believe that negotiation is analogous to appeasement. They are zealot patriots and nationalist, and the ones who believe that if we did not have a military we would not have a country.

One should not expect O to be the all -- everything -- for all people. They should not expect the man to bat 100 all of the time. One should not expect that no more than they should expect their favorite baseball team to win every game in every season and always to win the World Series. The Olympic committee rejection of Chicago as the site for the 2016 Olympics will provide a great example of this, because you will find the conservative right will (even though I have not yet witnessed it, but will be pleasantly surprised if they do not) pontificate what a loser O is.

I am an American. As such, I feel that it is imperative to participate in America. When it comes to making a decision on whether to cast my vote on any particular issue or person for office, I have the choice to vote or not to vote. I have made the decision (contrary to a prior belief that a not to vote decision would be meaningful as a protest vote, which I realized that in the end that that act would be an act of acquiescence) that not to vote at all is unacceptable.

I voted for O, not because I am a democrat, republican, independent, anarchist, libertarian, communist or socialist, but because I felt of all the candidates O addressed Americas strengths and weaknesses, challenges and opportunities, and the important issues with clarity, confidence, and with a view which was as close to my view as is possible.

He has liberal views, but then again no one who voted for him should have expected him to have a conservative view. However that does not make O a communist, fascist, or socialist, for conservatives are not lacking in their own particular kind of socialism, it just depends on ones bend as to whether they support the disadvantaged or the wealthy.

As far as O’s rhetoric and ability to convey ideas, unarguably there may not be many who can surpass him. It all comes down to whether you believe what he says is in his heart; I have no convincing proof that it is not. No one will ever know the essence of a person’s veracity until they acquire the ability to read minds. As with anyone’s rhetoric, I receive and understand it with that caveat in mind.

As far as those Americans who fear the condition of statism: since the founding of our nation every American should have been as concerned with those prospects, with every president since Washington, not just O. The reality is that we have progressively been governed under the evolved conditions set by our particular socialistic cast of state: an American style quasi-socialist state.

Short of revolution, it is imperative that the free-market anarchist and free-market capitalist come to the reality that we must work within our current systems to build improvements that benefit Americans, tweaking, changing, or improving existing systems where and when we can. To yield to America’s propensity for immediacy, to change a system hastily, would have disastrous results and would be irresponsible.

When O was inaugurated, in consideration of all that was headed into the abyss for our country, how can Americans expect anyone to solve the economic quagmire and the problem of two ongoing wars within a nine-month tenure in office? Furthermore, from my management experience, folks expect a manager to respond and have a proposed solution STAT even if an immediate solution may not be possible (i.e. not possible within existing legal, economic, political or operational conditions), and so many people have that very same expectation of the Obama administration. Such a view is not pragmatic.

Although he is not perfect in everyway, he does not do everything as I would like to have them done, my expectations are nevertheless very high. Yes, I do, at the end of the day, like President Obama.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Why NaturalNews opposes Obama's health care "reform" plan: a statement of principles

A very good article by Mike Adams.

He hit the nail on the head on so many of the issues. His position is unarguable.

However, without revolution, and as he stated, At the same time, you can't exactly blame Obama for all this. The current power players in the medical-industrial complex are so entrenched in Washington -- with thousands of lobbyists and billions of dollars to throw around -- that real reform is virtually impossible today. There's too much profit to be made in sickness and disease for any meaningful reform to happen. Even if Obama wanted to end the era of chemical medicine and unleash a new age of natural healing and health freedom (and maybe he wants to), it would be politically impossible for him to accomplish this in America today. Imagine the backlash if Obama announced that natural medicine would no longer be regulated by the FDA... the pharmaceutical lobby would have a fit, and Obama would be pressured by drug-pushing physicians to back off, we are for the time being stuck in this systemic healthcare situation. To acheive any improvement, no matter how small, it's imperitive that we work within what we do have or we will have no improvement at all.

As Dr. Andrew Weil has said, We need to take the profit out of healthcare.