Monday, July 31, 2006

Infiltrated militia addendum

Monday, July 31, 2006

I would like to modify yesterday's BLOG in light of the Qana tragedy. To clarify the point I made yesterday, which focused on miltary and militia organization, operations and hierarchy. I still maintain that Hezbollah, IDF, or U.S. miltary forces have civilian locations for much of the defense infrastructure. I will, however, accede to the contention that Hezbollah, as well as Hamas and other Jihad-like militaries and militias DO locate rocket launchers adjacent to civilian populations. I do not approve of these strategies, but I do understand them.

This is a progressive development that should have been anticipated after our experiences in Vietnam and with guerilla forces there and elsewhere. Insurgencies are just a different breed of guerilla warfare and those involved view themselves as freedom fighters, rightly or wrongly...that is certainly the mindset of those involved and their supporters. Many an "ordinary" Lebanese citizen supports Hezbollah because they feel that Israel and it's puppet master, the U.S., have abridged their country's, ideologies, etc. Not all Lebanese hate the West nor Americans nor Jews...they hate the feeling of disenfranchisement they continually live with. They hate the endemic poverty. The same can be said for Iraquis, Iranians and most of the rest of the population in the region.

The hatred of Jews, Americans and the West, in general, is reserved to those few who embrace extremist ideologies. We do, however, run the risk for the growth of the numbers of extremists due to our policies and rhetoric. For example...our proxy U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, yesterday used the expression "barbaric" to describe Hezbollah. Pres. Bush used the language "axis of evil". We refuse to engage in dialogue with Syria or Iran. We refuse to participate in two party talks with N. Korea.

Our vitriol and bloviating diatribes, our cold shoulder politics, our "cowboy diplomacy"...these are a few of the factors that have led foreigners to dismiss the United States government and its policies as antithetical to world peace.

They do not hate Americans...they hate American political agendas.

So...when we learn of catastrophes like behooves us to look beyond the surface. Did our refusal to call for a cease fire earlier contribute? Did our arming of Israel factor in? Has our Mideast policy helped to make Hezbollah a viable force? Are we enablers?

Serious questions that demand serious consideration.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

Infiltrated militias

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The assertion that militias are hidden amongst the population in Lebanon, Iraq and other nations strikes me as patently disingenuous. I am neither supporting nor condemning those militias...just attempting to introduce a bit of reality. It must be understood that the reason these unofficial armies..Hamas and Hezbollah, for example, are found immersed within the general population is due to the fact that their essential natures have been bred by popular causes. In our own revolution, the ensconced miltias within the population base were completely analogous to what we find in the so called "terrorist" states in the Middle East.

Rather than arming ourselves with vitriolic diatribes, myopic reasoning and stubborn talking points, it would be of much greater value to examine and understand the etiology of these militias and quasi-official armies. This refusal to explore underlying issues has become a historical reality. Subsequent to 9/11, there was very little dialogue dedicated to understanding why predominantly Muslim nations dislike the West. Of course, the actions of Osama Bin Ladin were inexcusable and horrifying, but behind these extremist actions lies a mind set, a world view, that we have refused to analyse.

Terrorists and terrorism generally need fertile ground for their seeds of insurgency to grow. For example, it is generally agreed that the Treaty of Versailles created fertile ground for the development of a Hitler ideology couched in nationalistic fervor. We may find that similar treatment of Arab and Muslim nations by western powers may have had an effect on the growth of Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as upon other jihadic movements wherein the western powers, generally, and the U.S. specifically are held accountable by those groups and nations as perpetrators of what is also termed "terrorism".

Hezbollah is condemned for the fact that its leaders are "hidden" amongst the population. The same can be said for Tel Aviv, Washington D.C. as well as any other modern nation's capitol. The governments are situated in these cities as well as residences, businesses and a broadly distributed population of citizens. It stands to reason that Hezbollah's leaders are also found amongst the Lebanese civilians. Were Hezbollha to target Tel Aviv with the mission of taking out Israeli leaders, it is certain that there would be civilian casualties. The same could be said for Washington D.C.

It seems evident to me that we obfuscate the issue through over simplification when we resort to the rationale that these militias purposely use civilians as shields. For all that may be wrong with Hezbollah, it is certainly evident that it has provided for civilians consistently since its formation in 1982. It supplies the populace with food and medical needs. It is sensitive to community life and pressures and has been solidly involved in the day to day life of impverished Lebanese who reside in the southern (predominantly Muslim) regions. It is grossly inaccurate to state that they have manipulated and controlled the lives of those citizens. is not my intention to determine who is right and who is wrong. We all know that there is plenty of blame to be distributed amongst all parties. As an American Jew...I will always feel a kindred spirit between myself and Israel. But...over and above that...I am a citizen of the world...and...I see my world factionalized and rife with mis and disinformation. I see hidden agendas and cabals. I see corporatized governments who deify wealth and power and devalue people. What I DO NOT see is a concerted effort to understand, to tear down the walls that separate us, to promote tolerance and an affimation that our differences need not divide us.

We are at a crossroads, our world is, and we have the opportunity to determine which direction we, as citizens of Planet Earth, will choose to take. Will we choose shouting, name calling, divisiveness and war? Or...will we opt for dialogue, an attempt at understanding, a valuation of each and every living being?


Saturday, July 29, 2006


Saturday, July 29, 2006

I have just returned from a visit with my parents and wanted to share some of my experiences. My folks have been divorced for many years...Mom's second husband passed away 4 years ago, Dad has a girlfriend of some 10 years now.

This was the first time they had a chance to spend time with their "new" daughter and it was nothing short of amazing for both of them and for me. Mom, who has been my biggest supporter, was not when I first explained to her that I was transgender. But, over the course of time, she has grown in her ability to understand and accept and has now achieved what I would call a "second nature" appreciation of what it means to be transgender...that is...she has completely adapted and it is as thought she always had a daughter and two sons, not three sons. Mom lives in an assisted living community and regularly has dinner with a huge group of seniors. I was introduced, without fail, to each and every one of those persons, as her daughter. Mom still got caught up with the pronouns but unceasingly corrected herself. We went sightseeing, shopping, saw movies...all of these as mother and daughter events. I cannot even begin to describe the ecstacy I experienced or the feelings that often overwhelmed both of us.

My Dad had, prior to this visit, been virtually 100% antagonistic to my transition. He had suffered a heart attack 6 weeks before, had bypass surgery, and I had decided not to press the issue. Mom and I saw him about 5 days after I had arrived...we met at my Aunt's house as a neutral ground and went out for lunch. The unexpected was about to transpire...Dad was taken turns out that his biggest issue was my passability!! I had thought it had been the "what did I do wrong" paternalistic syndrome. Our relationship turned 180 degrees that afternoon. His fears were allayed, he embraced me, told me that he no longer felt that he would be unable to accept me, that he now felt comfortable. All this because he felt that I "looked" like a woman.

I will have to admit that I now have a new and different perspective regarding the "pasability" question. I still believe the degree of comfort to be most important for us, as those who are transitioning, but I now have a deeper understanding of the issue as it affects family and friends.

That's not Dad, who is generally not overly warm by nature, called up after our visit and informed both my Mom and me that he wanted to see me again before I left. He gave me a gift...something he had made himself...and...we now have plans to get together with my two brothers in October to celebrate the 80th and 85th birthdays of Mom and Dad, respectively.

Of course...I have been walking on clouds ever since. I feel so lucky to have a family that has embraced their new daughter and sister. One of the lessons I have learned is that patience is critical to the process. We must give our loved ones the time and space to assimilate our changes. They need to be able to transition just as much as we do and we must undersatnd that, just as we lived in denial, so may they have similar experiences. But...just as we have come to accept the way we are...they may come to accept that we are the same persons they have always known and loved.

That last word..."love"...that is, of course,the key. Where love resides, all things are possible. Love means not forcing change upon others, but allowing them the opportunity for a gradual understanding. Love is receive it, you must give it. It implies trust, respect and honesty. With and through the act of loving comes the strength to endure and the power to overcome any obstacles. Tests may come into all of our lives...transitions of all kinds are part of the territory. Our "transitions" are just one kind...and...still...we can succeed and find happiness if we live our lives with love, honesty and hope.

So...I continue along this path of self discovery..never sure of what I might find...hoping for the best. I work towards a day when our differences do not separate us but, rather, combine as all the colors in the rainbow do, to display their beauty and glory.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Medical Care

July 2, 2006

Last night I dreamed I was in the hospital with a life threatening condition. Of course, any dream of this nature would be distrubing. But, the worst part of the dream was that the hospital withdrew treatment as soon as the paltry funds in my bank account had been expended.

You see...I have no health insurance, just as a large segment of our population does not have coverage. Many of us are either unemployed or, like myself, self employed. We fall between the cracks. I do not earn enough to pay the exorbitant rates to which health insurance has climbed. So I, along with all the others, take my chances and pray to stay healthy. I try to eat sensibly and get daily exercise, all good things to do whether you have health insurance or not. But, for those of us who don't, good habits are an absolute must.

It pains me to ruminate on the fact that Bill Clinton, when he was president, opted to pursue NAFTA, a course of action he had campaigned against. His promise to us, his constituency, was that he would dedicate himself to revamping our healthcare system. I applaud his post-presidential work in the fight against AIDS but I believe he let us down during his presidency and many Americans are now paying the price.

If you think that we who are presently uninsured are the only ones at risk, think again. Seniors on Medicare face escalating drug costs that are, in many cases, beyond their ability to purchase. We are only too aware of the "donut hole' that comes into play after the first 2-3 thousand expended. That applies or will apply to a majority of seniors. And, as the baby boomers reach the critical era wherein they will stress the medicare system, it is anyone's guess as to what will happen to these so called "entitlements".

The other group who may find themselves in proverbial hot water with regard to health coverage are those who worked until retirement, gained pensions and insurance plans, only to see them amended and eroded because of insolvency on the part of the business for whom they worked.

In this regard, I can personally cite IBM, which, at one time, was considered to be THE employee's company. Nowadays, they continue to dilute their health benefits yearly.

I heard on a news broadcast that the cost incurred in administering Medicare is 2-3%. The same figure in the private sector is upwards of 25%. How can we not realize that , in the long run, a national system of healthcare would save America and Americans money. Yes...there are short run funding concerns which have been exacerbated by this administration's deplorable fiscal plan. Even omitting the Iraq fiasco, the pork that has been loaded into Congressional bills is staggering...more than any administration previously. Add to that figure the many billions of dollars spent in Iraq, many of them mishandled funds, and we can see the remnants of possibilities that might have been.

It is not only prudent for Americans to speak up, but crucial. The next 2 decades may be a case of "make it or break it". Can we really afford NOT to take action!!!


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Mid year rambling

July 1, 2006

Today is July 1...half of the year 2006 is past! Is this really posssible? As I grow older, the malleability of time never ceases to amaze me. When we are young, time seems to proceed at a lethargic pace and, with the aging process, seems to pick up speed until it is lightning fast.

Then, again, even when we are older...if an impending event tends to put us off...time can revert to its slow pace. The same situation transpires if we are performing tasks we do not enjoy. Conversely, when engaged in activities for which we have a passion, time is back to its mercurial speed.

Of course...this is all occurs within the realm of perception. A second is a second is a second. Nonetheless, it proves that both uniformity (the exact measurement of a second's duration) and relativity (the perceived duration) are coexistant. They are both "true".

By implication, the insight that apparently opposing measurement concepts can be compatible helps to partially elucidate the nature of contradiction and paradox. In this case, it is one of apparent contradicition and apparent paradox because it is more akin to an "apples and oranges" model. We are using two different metrics and trying to establish some kind of commonality.

There are, of course, paradoxes that defy this viewpoint accomodated resolution. But...the time example gives us a hint into the manner in which we may come to an understanding. We must throw away convention and apply other nonconventional techniques. There are instances wherein the moment we cease trying to understand is when we begin to see a glimpse of reality.

Life is maya, illusion, and what we perceive to be reality may not be real at all. is a matter of perspective and, if we have a limited perspective, than how would we even know that we were living in quasi-realilty.

I take these musings as fodder to fuel the fire of my search. Search for what? I really do not know. Yet, something spurs me on...maybe it is the indeterminate nature of time which can seem so fluid and so rigid simultaneously. Maybe it is the indeterminate nature of reality which defies our attempts to define and delimit it, to categorize and describe it. Perhaps Reality chooses to not be known as that would some how degrade or demean it. Or, perhaps, Reality wants to be pursued yet remain elusive, like the anticipation and not quite fulfilled desire of young lovers.

Perhaps it is the quest and not the goal that really matters.