Tag Archives: Israel

What Must They Think of Us? The Perplexing Human Species.

28 Jul

galaxy_universe-normalThe past few weeks have given me a great deal to reflect upon: the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by Russian separatists, the continued war between Hamas and Israel (apparently there are now at least over 1,000 civilian Palestinian lives lost), and the not so covert racism and homophobia here in the United States.  When I think about these events and activities in conjunction with the weight of other horrific moments in the world’s history, I am left wondering: What must any existing intelligent lifeforms in the universe be thinking of humans?

While I am not certain there exist other forms of intelligent life in the universe, I do think it is a bit arrogant to think humans are the only intelligent lifeforms.  Lately, I have been thinking how I would hate to be judged by  some of the awful actions of other humans.  I think about how we treat girls and women around the world; how we treat the LGBT community, and people of color. Every time a James Byrd, Jr. is killed, a Larry King is killed, we have painful reminders that only certain people are safe to navigate the world.

While humans have only occupied the earth for the tiniest fraction of time in the over five billion years the earth has existed, we have managed to wreak an amazing amount of destruction.  I can only imagine what one might think as an observer from far away.  I would hate to be painted with the same brush as  Chairman Mao and his agents of the “Cultural Revolution.” Nor would I care to be thought of alongside the triumvirate of Hitler, Stalin, and Franco, or even the 21st Century’s collection of agents of hate and terror. Certainly there have been many wonderful people who tried to improve the world, but history shows us more bloodthirsty crusades than productive, peaceful assemblies.

I still would like to believe that there are more basically good people in the world than basically bad. Sadly, our systems are increasingly set up to let the greedy and jealous grab and hold power. Millions are oppressed and marginalized, unable to use their voices for anything other than basic survival. Millions more are exhausted by longer working hours and horrific commutes, and then we seem to only be able to find some salve by being anesthetized by television.

If we want those hypothetical viewers from distant stars to think kindly of us, we need to engage. My hope is we can take time everyday to reflect on how we work to create relationship with one another. How can we use kindness and generosity of heart? How can we use empathy?

When the dinosaurs — the last great “rulers of earth” — were wiped out, it was by a cataclysm that their basic brains and inability to use sophisticated tools left them unable to reverse or remediate. What will be our excuse?

 

Mitt Romney: Around the World in 80 Gaffes

2 Aug

One of the nicer things said about this trip…

GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney wrapped up his three-nation overseas tour, demonstrating his usual diplomacy, tact, planning, and magical power to reinvent reality with every third sentence. After a disastrous visit to England and a speech in Israel that was elitist, anti-Semitic and racist all at once, Romney managed to avoid any major missteps during his brief stay in Poland. Well, except for the trip’s press secretary, Rick Gorka, telling a reporter “Kiss my ass — this is a holy site.” Now that’s a sentence you don’t hear every day! The most likely explanation for Romney himself not adding to #romneyshambles in Poland is that he is completely devoid of humor, thus being unable to tell any Polish jokes…

How did the Romney campaign respond to the rampant criticism of the trip? With an etch-a-sketch, a pointing finger, and what can only be called Bain logic of course! When asked about his famous line comparing Israel with Palestine — “culture makes all the difference” — good ol’ Mitt had this to say:

[I] did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy. That is an interesting topic that perhaps can deserve scholarly analysis but I actually didn’t address that. I certainly don’t intend to address that during my campaign.

Oh but you did, Mitt, you did. Just like your pro-choice, pro-gay, and pro-healthcare stands of yore, it’s a matter of record. Even your robotic arms can’t shake the world hard enough to make the facts disappear.  So of course he resorts to a new tactic: the problem lies not in our Mitt, but in our press.

I realize that there will be some in the Fourth Estate, or whichever estate, who are far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geopolitics, to the threat of war, to the reality of conflict in Afghanistan today, to a nuclearization of Iran. They’ll instead try and find anything else to divert from the fact that these last four years have been tough years for our country.

Um, Mitt, if you’re going to use “fourth estate” just use it. Don’t dither. And by the way, you haven’t addressed one single item on that list in your campaign either. You’ve nuked your primary opponents and tried to make people focus on the President, boldly ignoring the Republican administration whose mistakes he’s trying to fix and the Republicans in Congress who have spent “these last four years” obstructing progress for political gain. It’s the job of the press to tell us what a Presidential candidate is up to, just like it’s your job to convince America that you’re viable. So far, only one of you is doing your job.

But the trip was a success! So says Romney strategist Stuart Stevens, calling the least successful trip across Europe since Napoleon visited Russia “a great success, generally.” Wow! Now those are some inspiring words. Stevens also noted that Romney had answered “a lot of questions.” Well, to be fair, three questions outside 10 Downing Street is more than he’s answered clearly about his taxes or his time at Bain, but objectively it isn’t “a lot.”

Sadly, even the Republicans can’t spin gold out of this heap of bull-Mitt. Trying to put a brave face on it, party strategists and political consultants have come up with things like:

  • The question always is if you had to do all over again and get the exact same results, would you do it again? Well, in this case, no. But it’s not that big of a deal.
  • It comes under the heading “seemed like a good idea at the time.”
  • What they didn’t anticipate was how hot the media glare was going to be. They wanted to go over there and not make any news and they ended up making some.

Oh, poor Mitt! With friends like these, who needs an opposing political party. Of course the Democrats have assembled this handy clip reel so Mitt can remember his lovely trip. The more time Romney spends in front of the cameras, the clearer it becomes why the RNC doesn’t want W at the convention. The two are geting pretty hard to tell apart.

Mitt Romney: Mishegas in Israel

31 Jul

Magic Kippah?

Romney’s tour around the world is not turning out quite the way he had hoped.  Sadly, every time he opens his mouth he shows what a real shmegegge he is. His tour of the Olympics left many around the world skeptical of his ability to be an effective world leader.  Romney is not reducing that skepticism with his racist comments in Israel.

At a fundraiser in Jerusalem, he slipped into his rich-is-better routine and added a nice helping of ethnic slur.

Culture makes all the difference. And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things. As you come here and you see the G.D.P. per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the G.D.P. per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality.

Demonstrating a sense of world history and political realities that matches his compassion for the Middle Class, Romney overlooked the many factors involved in that discrepancy. (He also managed to overlook facts again, getting his figures wrong…)  Accusing Palestinians of somehow being innately inferior, not only smacks of blatant racism, but is also exceedingly insulting to Jews.  Has Romney no sense of history? No sense of form or timing? Jews know first hand what it feels like to be “othered” and made to be subhuman, and thus typically have great compassion for those who are marginalized in the same fashion. Of course, why should Mitt stand for civil rights abroad when he actively denies civil rights to Americans who can’t afford health care, to American women, to the entire American LGBTQ community?   Since our Mitt drank the “Tea” he seems to be spreading his hate and bigotry all over the world — proving he is NOT material for a world leader.

Startled by the outcry, including charges of racism from Palestinian and Israeli authorities and a charge of anti-Semitism from a prominent Rabbi, the Romney campaign went back on the defensive. Their excuses? First, that somehow a direct quote “mischaracterized” his comments. Second that what poor ol’ Mitt said was fine because he also compared the U.S. to Mexico and Chile to Ecuador. Really? This is the only defense his campaign can manage? “Look folks, he really is not that bad and at least he is just as bad in the United States!” Things aren’t looking up for that Latin American tour…

Women’s History: May 3

3 May

Happy Birthday, Golda Meir

May 3 is a big day in Women’s History. Today we will be celebrating Maud O’Farrell Swartz, Golda Meir, and Nellie Tayloe Ross.

Happy Birthday, Golda Meir.  Meir was Israel’s fourth Prime Minister, as well as being the first woman to serve in that office.  Meir served as Prime Minister during the very difficult Yom Kippur War.  I personally feel Meir showed great wisdom and restraint and true leadership during this war. It was only a few months later that she resigned at Prime Minister.  I’m not sure how world leaders survive any type of war–regardless of the circumstances, I can only imagine that any war scars the soul.  Hard to believe this Russian born-woman, later a teacher in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, would eventually become one of the key players in establishing the state of Israel in 1948.

Happy Birthday, Maud O’Farrell Swartz.  An Irish immigrant, Swartz became a suffragist here in the States. Swartz became a strong voice in the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) and in the labor movement.  Swartz served as president of the WTUL from 1922-1926, during a period when the organizing efforts declined in a business climate less friendly to unions–sound familiar?  Wisconsin and Maine must not be too familiar with history.

Finally, I would like to recognize Nellie Tayloe Ross.  Ross was the first female Director of the U.S. Mint, appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Quote of the day:

 It’s no accident many accuse me of conducting public affairs with my heart instead of my head. Well, what if I do? … Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.–Golda Meir

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