By now I expect everyone’s aware of the next great American Mideast Blunder we are about to undertake. I, like most thinking, feeling humans, feel great compassion for the innocent people who are suffering at the hands of the criminal government in Syria, but at the same time, I can't see where we can do anything positive about it, especially if it involves more killing. It just doesn't work - when are we going to wake up and admit that?
I figure we should either nuke all of the government installations throughout that country – everything, I mean level it, obliterate it, and make those areas uninhabitable for the next 1,000 years, - in one big air strike, and be done with it, I’m sure they’ll get the message. Either that, or stay the hell out of their affairs! Nothing in between will work. And while I’m optimistic that the former option will achieve our intended (short-term) objective, I much prefer the latter. As soon as the government is taken out over there, the new group in power will act the same way, or it will degenerate into total chaos as each rebel faction goes to war against all of the others. That's just the way it is in those countries and there's nothing we can do to change that. Look at Iraq.
You can’t listen to the US government “leaders” in the hope of getting straight facts on the issue, so I urge all of my fellow Americans to watch these two segments from the is latest episode of Moyers & Company:
Phil Donahue is the guest host, and the two guests are military historian Andrew Bacevich:
and Deborah Amos, a Mideast correspondent for NPR who has visited the huge refugee camps in Jordan, and other countries surrounding Syria.
Having read Bacevich’s book The Limits of Power that addresses our Afghanistan and Iraq fiascoes, I find his perspective on America’s involvement in the Mideast probably the most intelligent and well thought out of anyone who has been analyzing it. And Amos’ report on the refugee camps coupled with the likely additional impact a strike by the US will have on the plight of Syrian civilians is something every American needs to listen to in order to realize that we need to stop this fiasco before President Obama goes ahead with it.
It's all been said before, it's all been tried before, but we never seem to learn from any of it.
Nobody's right when everybody's wrong. Buffalo Springfield
Meet the new boss; same as the old boss. The Who
How many deaths does it take 'till he knows that too many people have died? The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind. Bob Dylan.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, who probably knows more about international political affairs than all of Washington’s politicians combined, said it clearly in his book Strategic Vision: America must avoid direct intervention in the affairs of Mideast nations and instead use diplomacy and leverage with our allies to seek positive change over there. Sure, it may not work, but I can say definitively that American military action in Syria will certainly not work.
For all the faithful followers of this blog (all four of you), I have to apologize for hanging it up over the past several months. I published my last post on February 28 then dropped out of sight, and I’ll tell you why. For all of January and most of February, I was suffering from a nasty virus that was circulating and I got hit harder than most. This was uncommon for me – I exercise regularly and typically get over such illnesses quickly, but not this time. When I finally did get over the flu or whatever it was, I was left with almost no energy, and this went on for months. I went to every doctor imaginable and underwent a myriad of tests, blood tests, gastrointestinal tests, heart tests, and each showed there was nothing wrong with me. Go figure.
The heart doctor I visited finally told me I was suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is another way of saying “we have no clue what’s wrong with you.” My general practitioner came closest to the truth I believe when he said, “you know, we can’t rule out stress as a causative factor.”
I am one of the lucky middle class workers in this country, I have a steady job, benefits, and a good salary, but there has been a price to pay for this. Through the year running up to my New Year 2013 illness, I, like most Middle Class Working Stiffs, have been overworked in an office that is (perhaps intentionally) understaffed, having to deal with an enormous nit-picky bureaucracy that is generally typical of doing business in today’s world, and a barrage of deadlines that never end and tend to keep everyone in my office on edge. In short, my job burned me out, and I have to conclude that therein lies the culprit of my current health status.
I had to drop a number of activities from my agenda until I regained my strength, and the blog and two books I am trying to complete have been victims of the roll-back. Believing that the perpetual stress I am subject to at work is the root cause of my “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”, I have come up with a name for the illness: “Middleclassworkingstiff’s Disease.
Having been pretty much told by my doctors that there was no more they could do to help me, I decided to take matters into my own hands and revved up my bicycling (commuting, weekend errands, etc.), and while I am still fatigued much of the time, my body has become stronger and more toned than ever and I am actually reasonably healthy notwithstanding the fatigue. I decided it was time to get back into the center of the political and social chaos of this great nation of ours by starting up the blog again, if not because I’m feeling all that energized these days, but because with the looming Syrian War we are about engage in, I can’t keep quiet any longer.
So stay tuned, I may not be as consistent as I was back in 2012, but I’ll be posting as much as I can in the coming weeks and months.
Let’s face it, when it comes to America’s finacial matters, our elected officials are like a bunch of roosters strutting across the barnyard hoping to gain points with the chickens. Look at the so-called “fiscal cliff”, and now the “sequestration”, vague terms at best designed to scare the general public and get us to hang on their every word and watch all of their meaningless posturing.
I’ve got news for you, I’m not going for it because Congress’ antics hold no more significance than those roosters strutting across the barnyard saying “Look At Me!!” It’s all showmanship and nothing more. These guys could get together, come to a compromise and do something useful for Americans like me, but instead they’d rather just play make-believe. I’d like to see how long I’d have a job if I pulled that behavior where I work, and I make a whole lot less than they do.
Whenever we’re faced with another one of these concocted crises–and they’ve engineered it so that they pop up continuously one after the other-I‘ve developed the only logical way to deal with it. I don’t pay any attention while it’s playing out and only tune in on the day the axe is scheduled to fall on Middle Class Working Stiffs like me to see how badly I’m going to get screwed.
After all, what else can any of us do? I’m certainly not going to live in fear day after day watching them act out yet another melodrama that’s worse than one of those low-grade B movie that plays on the local TV station at 2AM. They want me to pay attention to them-they live for that-but I’m not going to give them the satisfaction. This whole situation has become so ludicrous that it’s embarrassing to me as an American and insulting to me as a thinking human being.
The next time another fiscal cliff rolls around, and I expect that’s going to be sooner rather than later, someone should consider throwing Congress off a nice tall physical cliff, because the country would be better off without all of their nonsense.
I’ve been out of commission for a while and I’ll tell you why. Round about holiday season last year, my company went into year-end push overdrive like most corporations do at year-end. You know, that’s when the work revs up three-fold in an effort to maximize profits for the year. But in an office that is understaffed to begin with, it only adds to the overwhelming stress of overwork that has become the normal way of life for most Middle Class Working Stiffs like me.
Enter the new year and it all caught up with me. I came down with that cold/flu/virus that was going around and wound up fighting it for over a month. Add to that a recent notice I received from the corporation that owns the townhouse I live in that my rent is going up $1,560 a year when my lease runs out in April, after having gone up $1,440 last year when I renewed, so now I am preparing to move. On a brighter note, I have also been working on the final edits for my second book, which I hope to have ready for publishing within the next few months. You can only juggle so many balls before you begin dropping them…
But let’s go back to the rent issue for a minute. I signed a lease two years ago to rent a 2-bedroom townhouse with the Irving Company–they pretty much own the entire town of Irving, California-because I took a job in Irving and wanted to be close to where I work. The rent was high but I figured I’d make out in the deal by not having to commute a long distance to get to work. It was all working out well until the good people of the Irving Company jacked up my rent at the end of the first year, and have now announced an even higher increase for next year. I brought the issue up to the people who manage the complex where I live, and both times they told me with a smile “It’s market value” without blinking an eye.
I said, “So what you are telling me is that it doesn’t matter that I am a quiet, responsible tenant who takes care of his place and always pays his rent on time? It’s just ‘Screw you, if you don’t like it move out and we’ll move someone else in’?” They looked at me like I had two heads ‘cause I just don’t get it.
Market Value… Isn’t that just a sugar-coated way of saying “Unbridled Greed”? I mean, come on, let’s call a spade a spade. This is in fact a perfect example of the cancer that is killing this once-great nation we live in-milk the middle class for everything you can get and show no loyalty to anyone (“That’s America, Buddy!”). And it’s sad, very sad, because it’s not going to go away until our country has been destroyed by this disease.
For now, though, I am going to concentrate on my new book, so I’ll apologize once more for not keeping up with my blog until I get the book finished.
Greed is NOT good; in fact,
To all my fellow working stiffs, I apologize for being out of commission over the past several weeks. Like most Middle Class Working Stiffs, I have been slammed at work to a point of mental exhaustion and could not find the energy when not at work to do anything but vegetate. Of course, the powers that be like nothing better than that when it comes to an upstart like me – it’s no mystery why the system is rigged against us.
In addition to the ideas I have been sharing with you regarding the politics of the day, I think it is about time for me to ratchet the thought process up a bit. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit over the past half year, on how to step back and begin looking at the bigger problem that we Americans – in fact we humans – face in the months and years ahead, problems that humans have never been confronted with on this level, i.e., global in scope, before this time, unless perhaps there had been a pre-historic global die-off of our species that we don’t know about.
Two occurrences have been, collectively, the catalyst for me to get on with it. The first was the Newtown CT massacre of those lovely, innocent children, and having to sit in disgust listening to our so-called “leaders” talk about the band-aids they propose to put on the wound instead of focusing on the underlying cancer that is causing this societal melt-down. And second, the article posted below that was sent to me by my dear friend and mentor Dr. Woody Sears.
Bear with me, it’s a bit long and uses some heady terms, but it’s well worth the read.
Cheers, and keep the up the good fight.
By Daniel Goleman:
Working with Emotional Intelligence
"Do you know the PDF of your shampoo? A 'PDF' refers to a "partially diminished fraction of an ecosystem," and if your shampoo contains palm oil cultivated on clearcut jungle in Borneo, say, that value will be high. How about your shampoo's DALY? This measure comes from public health: "disability adjusted life years," the amount of one's life that will be lost to a disabling disease because of, say, a liftetime's cumulative exposure to a given industrial chemical. So if your favorite shampoo contains two common ingredients, the carcinogen 1,4 dioxane, or BHA , an endocrine disrupter, its DALY will be higher.
“PDFs and DALYs are among myriad metrics for Anthropocene thinking, which views how human systems impact the global systems that sustain life. This way of perceiving interactions between the built and the natural worlds comes from the geological sciences. If adopted more widely this lens might usefully inform how we find solutions to the singular peril our species faces: the extinction of our ecological niche.
"Beginning with cultivation and accelerating with the Industrial Revolution, our planet left the Holocene Age and entered what geologists call the Anthropocene Age, in which human systems erode the natural systems that support life. Through the Anthropocene lens, the daily workings of the energy grid, transportation, industry and commerce inexorably deteriorate global biogeochemical systems like the carbon, phosphorous and water cycles. The most troubling data suggests that since the 1950s, the human enterprise has led to an explosive acceleration that will reach criticality within the next few decades as different systems reach a point-of-no-return tipping point. For instance, about half the total rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has occurred in just the last 30 years — and of all the global life-support systems, the carbon cycle is closest to no-return. While such "inconvenient truths" about the carbon cycle have been the poster child for our species' slow motion suicide, that's just part of a much larger picture, with all the eight global life-support systems under attack by our daily habits.
"Anthropocene thinking tells us the problem is not necessarily inherent in the systems like commerce and energy that degrade nature; hopefully these can be modified to become self-sustaining with innovative advances and entrepreneurial energy. The real root of the Anthropocene dilemma lies in our neural architecture.
“We approach the Anthropocene threat with brains shaped in evolution to survive the previous geological epoch, the Holocene, when dangers were signaled by growls and rustles in the bushes, and it served one well to reflexively abhor spiders and snakes. Our neural alarm systems still attune to this largely antiquated range of danger.
“Add to that misattunement to threats our built-in perceptual blindspot: we have no direct neural register for the dangers of the Anthropocene age, which are too macro or micro for our sensory apparatus. We are oblivious to, say, our body burden, the lifetime build-up of damaging industrial chemicals in our tissues.
“To be sure, we have methods for assessing CO2 buildups or blood levels of BHA. But for the vast majority of people those numbers have little to no emotional impact. Our amygdala shrugs.
"Finding ways to counter the forces that feed the Anthropocene effect should count high in prioritizing scientific efforts. The earth sciences of course embrace the issue — but do not deal with the root of the problem, human behavior. The sciences that have most to offer have done the least Anthropocene thinking.
“The fields that hold keys to solutions include economics, neuroscience, social psychology and cognitive science — and their various hybrids. With a focus on Anthropocene theory and practice they might well contribute species-saving insights. But first they have to engage this challenge, which for the most part has remained off their agenda.
“When, for example, will neuroeconomics tackle the brain's perplexing indifference to the news about planetary meltdown, let alone how that neural blindspot might be patched? Might cognitive neuroscience one day offer some insight that might change our collective decision-making away from a lemmings' march to oblivion? Could any of the computer, behavioral or brain sciences come up with an information prosthetic that might reverse our course?
“Paul Crutzen, the Dutch atmospheric chemist who won a Nobel for his work on ozone depletion, coined the term 'Anthropocene' ten years ago. As a meme, 'Anthropocene' has as yet little traction in scientific circles beyond geology and environmental science, let alone the wider culture: A Google check on 'anthropocene' shows 78,700 references (mainly in geoscience), while by contrast 'placebo', a once-esoteric medical term now well-established as a meme, has more than 18 million (and even the freshly coined 'vuvuzela' has 3,650,000).”
On Saturday, November 17, the Money Out/Voters In Coalition (MOVI) held a conference at UCLA to discuss the legal issues, remedies and strategies to get money out of politics, and the possibility of having an Amendment added to the US Constitution that would limit Big Money in political campaigns and would, in effect, overturn the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision allowing corporation money to fund election campaigns.
MOVI is made up of some of the leading organizations in Southern California and throughout the country fighting to limit the impact of big money and corporate influence in our democracy. Its members include the following organizations:
The lineup of speakers was impressive, not just a well-meaning group of activists, but corporate law experts, legislative lawyers with experience on the inside workings of Washington, distinguished professors of political science, in short, many high-level thinkers and doers who know how to get things like this done. And what impressed me is that there was no partisanship, not Democrat, not Republican, it doesn’t matter what your political leaning is. That’s because according to polls conducted during the 2012 campaign, they found out that three quarters of the American Public, regardless of party affiliation, are against big money funding elections and want the laws governing election funding changed. So it’s a non-partisan issue. And with three quarters of the citizens of this country seeking this change, that’s enough to over-ride both Congress and the Supreme Court. In other words, We the People have the clout to take matters into our own hands and get it done right.
Here is the link to MOVI: www.moneyoutvotersin.org.
During the conference, someone pointed out that there are about one hundred and thirty five separate organizations with their own web sites pushing for the same or similar changes at both the State and Federal level. Now that’s both invigorating and scary. I have been saying for years that the Internet is a blessing because it empowers people with access to enormous amounts of information, and at the same time it’s a curse because it disperses effort over a wide, incoherent spectrum as everyone scrambles off in his and her own direction, thus watering down what could be a solid bloc of power. Therefore, the challenge is to bring all of these disparate groups under one roof of commitment to amass their efforts as a single power to accomplish one single, well-defined goal that is achievable through the existing political system. It will be a tremendous challenge, but it’s do-able. And MOVI looks like the organization that can make it happen.
So, My Fellow Americans, GET INVOLVED! You don’t have to quit your job and spend your time marching down the streets of Washington carrying a sign. Thank God there are citizens in the country willing to do that-we need people like that, but most of us have jobs, families to feed, mortgages or rent to pay, and not much energy once we get home from work. The beauty of this effort is that there are experts willing to organizing it and to take care of the details, and all we Middle Class Working Stiffs have to do is pay attention to what’s happening, educate ourselves to the issues, and put pen to paper and/or click the appropriate button and send the appropriate e-mail when asked to do so in order to show our government representatives that we mean business. It’s as simple as that.
One speaker said it clearly when he pointed out that the Supreme Court justices are not going to try to defend their Citizens United decision if they know that three quarters of the American Public oppose it, and Congress cannot stop that large a majority from getting our way. Simply stated, We the People still have the power – if we want it.
I have been beefing up the America 101 Reading List– it’s up to about 35 recommended books, and I’m beginning to list the various web sites where you can get information and get involved in a way that suits your available time and desired level of effort. Check back from time to time because the list is going to grow longer. Feel free to suggest additional entries. And GET INVOLVED, dammit! GET INVOLVED!