Thursday, August 31, 2006


Thursday August 31, 2006

Before writing yesterday's BLOG, I had considered writing about this newly created word "Islamofascism". But, considering that it was the first anniversary of Katrina's landfall, I decided to put off "Islamofascism" until today. Little had I realized the prescience of my thoughts regarding this un-word. Yes, I had been hearing its and there...but...yesterday, it exploded upon the scene as the theme of the Republican Party and this administration. All of GW Bush's minions are now parroting this catch word with stern and weighty rhetoric.

Just what IS this word, "Islamofascism"? It is a term designed to drive fear into the hearts of Americans by recalling the pre and post World War Two hegemonistic designs on the world by Hitler and Mussolini. It is just another attempt to propogandize and brainwash the voters into returning this administration to power in the midterms. Does it not seem timely that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and all the talking heads are singing the same refrain, just 2 months before the elections? Next step will be a series of false, but purported to be real, alarms and elevations of the terror threat level to reinforce the campaign of fear that Karl Rove has engineered.

Fascism, historically, is NOT a religious movement. It is NOT generally associated with sectarianism betweeen religious factions. Fascism, historically, is a political agenda intended to subdue INTERNAL populations, first, through fear and intimidation...secondly adjacent nations. There is characteristically one central and charismatic figure who is, in reality, a despot and a tyrant. Yes...they do play upon nationalistic ideology but that would be the only commonality between fascism and neo-jihadism. We hear that this is a "war on terror". That, in itself, is nonsensical. Even if this WERE a war on terrorism, that, too, is not sensible. Terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy. It has been used by all oppressed people and nations throughout history, during the American Revolution, for example. Today's brand of terrorism is extreme in quality and quantity, but that is the nature of the world in which we live where dramatic efect is of utmost import.

To allege that Sadaam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and all other jihadists are part of a bigger "war of terror" is not an accurate assessment. They are separate and independent movements. Any similarity that exists is due to the shared experiences they have had with the West. And, to assert that there are massive movements at counter purpose to the U.S. is also grossly inaccurate. The vast majority of Arabs, Persians, Asians and Europeans, not to mention Americans, who practice Islam, are NOT terrorists, are NOT jihadists. But...our actions certainly serve to attract more people to the jihadist mindset because oppression, occupation and subjucation always radicalize the populace and force them into postures they might, otherwise, not assume.

It is this administration's policies that contribute to the radicalization of Muslim nations. Fascism has nothing to do with it whatsoever. Perhaps President Ahmaninejad has larger designs and perhaps he has a delusional belief that the holocaust never happened, but that does NOT make him a fascist. There was no evidence that Sadaam Hussein had designs upon the United States. The truth is that his imperialism in the region was fueled by U.S. arms and U.S. dollars.

I have seen the "Hitler effect" many times in my years on the internet. Arguments ensue, someone is invariably upset, and the last and most drastic step is the Hitler comparison...meaning that someone is employing despotic and tyrannical control over a group. It is obvious that, whenever a debate is reduced to Hitler metaphors, the dialogue has deteriorated past the point of acceptability. Such is the case today. The political rhetoric of this administration and its crones has reached a level where we, as intelligent human beings, must say..."No More!!!". On yesterday's news, I heard VP Cheney, Sec of Defense Rumsfled, Chairman of the RNC ken Melman and a myriad of talking heads...Neal Bortz and Frank Gaffney, for example, use the term "Islamofascism" repeatedly, with straight and serious faces.


As a familiar strain from "Network" went..."We're mad as Hell and we're not gonna take it any more"

If we allow ourselves to be affected by this partisan and stilted language whose intent is to provoke hysteria, we will suffer the consequences. The next step will be their decision to invade Iran and the fallout...pun intended...will be potentially more than we might have ever comprehended. These fear mongers must be stopped NOW. There is no later, as evidenced by their use of the Hitler metaphor.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Katrina Revisited

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Yesterday marked the first anniverary of Katrina's landfall. One might imagine, by the tone of this administration's rhetoric, that the Gulf Coast had all but recovered. The dedication foresworn to the people of New Orleans, the promises made in Jackson Square, the funds that are in the pipeline...a reader from Mars might be led to believe that much has been rebuilt and that, regardless of what else still remains to be done, our government has taken the necessary steps to ensure a complete recovery.

Alas, they would be mistaken. they would not know about the millions...nay...billions...of dollars wasted and frittered away through fraud and misappropriated funding . They wouldn't be aware of the no bid contracts wherein costs were doubled and often tripled for both labor and supplies. They would not know that many of the devestated areas of New Orleans were still veritable trash dumps, that there was, in many cases, a moratorium against new construction so long as the levees were not capable of protecting the city in the worst case scenarios. They would not know that almost half of the businesses had not reopened, that only three out of eleven hospitals were up and running, that the availability of functional schools with funding and teachers was drastically lacking. They would not know that as many as half of the citizens of New Orleans had not yet returned. The diaspora may be permanent, as long as our elected leaders refuse to address the poverty and class disenfranchisement that contributed to this horrendous tragedy.

There are those who remark that the recovery in Mississippi has far exceeded that of Louisiana and New Orleans. There are two facts they conveniently omit...that the Mississippi coast was essentially wiped clean removing the critical step of cleanup which is dramatically NOT the case in Lousiana. New Orleans devestation was more accountable to the levees that failed than to the hurricane itself. The other critical factor that goes unmentioned is that pesky problem of levee reconstruction which is under the auspices of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. More than one person has remarked on the bureauocratic shortcomings, the red tape, and the outright incompetence regarding the Corps. Until a bona fide plan emerges, new construction and reconstruction will remain on hold.

One other consideration regarding New Orleans must be entertained...the Mayor, Mr. Nagin, must carry some of the weight for the sluggish progress and for being more engaged with politics than with the recovery. His outlandish public statements, his obfuscation of blame and his mismanagement of city affairs have certainly not worked towards a positive end. He has NOT proposed a cogent and viable plan. One must concede that the empathy the public felt for the Mayor in the aftermath of the disaster has all but eroded in the face of his daily actions and antics.

A national television news station solicited ideas as to what the legacy of Katrina would be. One person remarked that we would hopefully learn not to build in unsafe areas. Another suggested that we should have more effective methods of weather prediction. The two most common responses, however, focused on two specific areas. The first is the incompetence regarding our ability to react to disasters, both natural and man made, at all levels of government...local, state and federal. Twelve months have elapsed and what have we learned? What changes have been made? A significant lesson we should have learned is the importance of communication. It would seem to be a no brainer that the ability for all first responders to communicate with each other should have been one of the major changes undertaken. This never occurred because those bandwidths are owned and administered by private broadcasting companies and both Congress and the executive branch are loathe to regulate those companies, probably for fear of losing financial support for political agendas. No changes have been made in this regard. We are no better prepared than we were on 9/11 or in the weeks during Katrina's devastation.

The other most commonly recognized legacy is the obvious disparity regarding race and class that still exists in this country. It was extremely apparent the days and weeks right after the hurricane but, as is often the case in the modern world...out of sight, out of mind. Our concern regarding this deploreable condition waned with each passing day. Unless something is put in our faces, we tend to forget or neglect or are consumed by revisionistic policies. matter how much we forget, or neglect, or revise...the problems will not go away. As a matter of fact, the more we ignore the situation, the more it festers until the inevitable happens. The end result is the suffering of the innocent and the concommitant struggles to end intoleramce, oppression, marginalization and disenfranchisement.

It must be our goal to remedy these inequities. We can go on and pretend that we ARE well prepared. We can proceed under the assumption that racial and class discrimination do not exist. We choose either of these paths, unfortunately, at our own peril.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Loss of Unity

Monday, August 28, 2006

This past weekend I attended Charlotte Pride as a representative of NCTG UNITY. We were one of perhaps 30 or 40 tables and the only transgender group represented. The concept behind NCTG UNITY is that we are an umbrella organization whose purpose is to provide a unified relationship between all the TG groups in North Carolina, but the truth is that this is the case more in name than it is in practice. Unfortunately, we have been unable to effect the reality of a combined and concerted effort towards a greater understanding of what it means to be transgender. Interestingly, however, this dysfunction is a microcosmic example of the situation within the GLBT community and, at a larger and more macrocosmic level, the relationship between all minorities in general.

It is difficult to imagine how we are to effect change in the world when we are unable to make the leap of faith that would enable us to walk in the shoes of those not so dissimilar from us. How much further it is to walk in the shoes of those whose lives are radically different. There is a lack of understanding amongst Gay and Lesbian individuals regarding the transgender experience. There is a disparity amongst the transgender community with regards to political correctness regarding appropriate language, behavior, etc.

I have always found it to be a strange phenomenon that, as groups achieve a modicum of acceptance, they are quick to manifest the elitist posture that works to exclude others whose goals may not exactly coincide. This is an historic truism that is obvious and evident in any so called hierarchy of minorities. It all boils down to allegations with respect to whose cause is more pressing, whose cause is more "right". Clearly, the truth of the mattter is that either we all achieve basic human rights or none of us is impossible for one group to claim that it has achieved acceptance while excluding another group and have anyone believe that this in any way approaches egalitarianism.

I raise this issue in what may seem to be a circular argument because of a conversation I had with one of the attendees to Charlotte Pride, who was, additionally, a representative of the Green Party contingent. He mentioned that a friend of his from Michigan, a post op transexual, had tried to become affiliated with the Green Party Women's Caucus and was refused admission because his birth gender was not correct. Once a man...always a man they maintain. It confounds me to grasp that another minority... a feminist group...would engage in exclusionary tactics and expressly deny involvement to one who chose to help further their cause. This is the epitome of self defeatism.

Amongst many Native Americans is a tradition known as "winkte"..."Two Spirits"...people born to one gender who, for one reason or another, express a variant gender presentation. In many cases, they are considered to be shamans. As such, they represent a bridge between two worlds. That someone like this would be a pariah in the Green Party Women's Caucus defies understanding. That someone who manifests the nature of Two Spirits would not be expressly suited to working for better communications and new ideas is inexplicable. That it would not be obvious that this person was in the unique position to construct bridges between conceptual worlds goes beyond the pale.

Until we affirm that we are all suffering from marginalization, and until we all work for the commonality of tolerance and understanding, none of us will be free and none of us will have equal rights. We must put aside any sense of partisanship and see the world in broader strokes. I call for an end to the self defeating quibbling between ALL of us who are the victims of disenfranchisement, marginalization and abridgement of our God given rights to equal treatment under the eyes of the law!


Sunday, August 27, 2006

John Mark Karr and Gender Reassignment Surgery...Fact or Fiction

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The story broke in the New York Daily News. John Mark Karr, living in Thailand, and, evidently obssessed with Jon Benet Ramsey, was due to have Gender Reassignment surgery. They, however, did not use that language. Rather, they appealed to sensationalist journalism by alleging that Mr. Karr was a "gender bender" and insinuated by the tone of thier article that this was just one more piece of evidence to make the case that John Mark Karr was a pervert, a sexual deviant.

It is a fact that Mr. Karr DID have facial hair removed. It is NOT a fact that he had consulted Dr. Dr. Thep Vechavisit, a surgeon at Pratunam Polyclinic, regarding GRS. There was no evidence that he had been undergoing hormone replacement therapy nor had he even begun to fulfill the requirement of living in the manner of his chosen gender presentation, i.e, as a woman and no evidence that he had intended to do so. Given these facts, it is a stretch, at best, to make the case for his intended Gender Reassignment surgery.

Stories such as this one, rife with sensationalism, are written with the intent to sell papers. Many other so called "newspapers" use the same tactics. It is, in my humble opinion, obvious that their interest in the bottom line may distort their ability to give an accurate portrayal of reality. The actual effect, however, on bona fide transgender individuals certainly does not advance our efforts to promote understanding and acceptance of who we are and what we seek in life.

For the most part, we are, other than our belief in gender diversity, just like anyone and everyone else. We come from all walks of life, all professions, and the vast majority of those seeking a fitting gender presentation that resonates with their psyches are expressly not sexual deviants nor are they pedophiles. They have no more of an identification with being a 6 year old girl than any other person would. Allegations which remain unfounded serve to further misinformation and intolerance and feed into the dogma of ignorance, fear and hatred,a syllogism that has become all to familiar to minorities of all ilks. The intent of this line of reasoning smacks of the Bailey "autogynophilia" thesis which is patently unproved, undocumented and backed by flawed scientific procedural evidence.

I respectfully request that those interested in this case do not let their imaginations run wild. Do not allow yourselves to become misguided. Keep the truth close to your hearts and strive to discover the actual facts, not those alleged "quasi-facts" which Mr. Colbert has so astutely called "truthiness". The best way to ascertain reality is to engage, in discourse, a transgender individual. Do so without preconceived mindsets and with no prior biases. Do so with the intent to educate yourselves and to broaden your horizons. You may find that the individual with whom you had opened a dialogue is more like you than you had realized.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Loss of Stature

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I am at the age where I no longer have personal "idols"...people whom I admire so much that I would try to emulate them. That is a sentiment best reserved for the young and not so useful as one matures. I do, however, have a number of people who I respect, people of stature, people who one might choose as a role model for one's children. They exhibit traits that are laudable and they inspire confidence, integrity and a kind of reliabilty. You might be confronted with a new idea or theory and, even though you would want to do your own investigation and flesh in all the details, you might rely on that person whom you respect to proffer an opinion that you might use as a starting point.

A recent one of these "role models, for me, is Randi Rhodes, who hosts a show on Air America and who can be seen on television broadcast news as an occasional contributor. I felt that she was a kindred spirit, that our political outlooks harmonized, and that I could trust her to give me an honest account of a an event or theory or historical tidbit with which I was unfamiliar. I thought I could trust her judgment.

My view, unfortunately, has changed. Yes...I still believe she has an excellent grasp on political agendas...and...yes...I will still listen to her insightful and often scathing analyses of political events and personalities. trust in her to be an open minded and compassionate human being is gone. My belief that she, as I, live life in accordance with the golden rule has been eroded.

Why have I changed my opinion in this regard? The first instance in which I lost faith was her remark concerning Anne Coulter. I am no fan of Ms. Coulter...I consider her to be a mean spirited, unfeeling and vehemently hateful and opinionated woman. Her self righteousness goes beyond the pale, as does her hypocrisy. Nonetheless, when I heard Randi Rhodes speculate, on air, more than once, that Anne Coulter was a man...just look at her adams apple...I began to wonder. As a transgender person, I have learned to have a relatively "thick skin" but Randi's assertion showed no understanding of the transgender community whatsoever. I understand the gist...Anne Coulter has the sensibilities of a cite her adams apple as proof, altho a feeble attempt at humor, could be extremely hurtful to members of the TG community who have not developed that thick skin, or who have just recently started exploring their gender issues and stand to be stigmatized by such remarks.

Nonetheless...I was willing to give Randi Rhodes the benefit of the was a joke...not meant to be hurtful...and...I DID get the point!! But...upon listening to the show of Tuesday, Aug. decision that Randi Rhodes could no longer be entirely respected crystalized. Her attacks on marijuana smokers exhibited vast ignorance and showed her to be just like all those others who make snap judgments and have built in biases that cater to elitism, self-inflated egos and an unwillingness to accept diversity. Equally distasteful was her attack on those women who do not feel driven to conform to what society considers "proper". So what if they choose not to shave their legs? Or under their arms? Ms. Rhodes condemns them as being less than proper women.

This attitude displays the same type of ignorance we see from George Allen and other less than enlightened Republican candidates. She has obviously NOT walked a mile in the other person's shoes. I used to be a regualr and daily pot smoker...I have left that behind me by some 2 years. Her sterotypes of behavior displayed by marijuana smokers is distorted, hackneyed and represents a caricature of reality. They are not dull witted, slow or stupid. They are not necessarily easily distracted. Their munbers include professionals of many ilks and the assertion that all of these people are social misfits is erroneous and deprecatory. Her zinger aimed at the Grateful Dead and deadheads is an example of the citing of a minority behavior and purporting it to be a majority behavior.

I have to wonder if Randi Rhodes has friends and acquaintances who took offense at these remarks. Once again, I understand her attempts at humor, but humor that belittles others is a facile kind of wit. Humor that belittles oneself helps to strike resonant chrods with listeners. And, in an allegedly political and socially relevant forum, one expects the host no to alienate her listeners through the use of uncalled for disparagement.

I pray that her remarks were all in jest and that she truly has the openmindedness, compassion and sensitivity for which I had originally given her credit.

Please Randi...restore my faith!!


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Are They Automotons?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Last night I viewed the segment between Paul Hackett and Van Taylor on Hardball with Chris Matthews.I cannot recall last time I heard such a littany of evasions, obfuscations and misdirections from a candidate running for office. Oh...I forgot...the last Presidential election!!

Van Taylor is the Republican candidate for office in the 17th Congressional District in Texas...George W. Bush's home district. He must have had some pre interview pointers from Bush's brain because it was evident that the Karl Rove theory of political strategy was being employed. Don't answer the questions, respond with one of your catch phrase talking points and avoid any statements that may come back to haunt you. Mr. Taylor managed to follow that advice to a tee...almost.

He replied to each and every one of Chris Matthew's questions with a stock Quaida did Quaida is responsible for all the violence in Iraq, al Quaida will fight us in the United States if we don't fight them in Iraq and, of course, the conflation that, somehow, Iraq was also complicit in 9/11.

Each time Mr. Hackett challenged Mr. Taylor, the candidate responded by repeating his talking points, avoiding the subject being cited, and continued to parrot the answers he was told to supply regardless of what he was asked. Van Taylor was NOT to contribute any independent and thoughtful material to the discourse, if it can be called a discourse.

An example of Mr. Taylor's distorted thinking was in evidence when he asserted that al Quaida was responsible for the sectarian violence in Iraq. Chris Matthews responded by asking the candidate if it was al Quaida killing Shi'a and Sunni...Mr. Taylor was unable to answer...he hesitated...then repeated his talking point that if we didn't get them there, we have to fight them here. Mr. Matthews asked how many al Quaida members were in Iraq and were they there before the conflict. Mr. Taylor responded that it doesn't matter at this point...all that matters is that if we don't get them there, we'll have to fight them here.

Both Mr. Matthews and Mr. Hackett called Mr. Taylor on the fact that his rejoinders were nothing more than a series of disjointed and non-responsive talking points meant to reinforce a strategy that Mr. Rove has laid out for the party, namely that Democrats cut and run and that Republicans stay the course. There was no mention of the al Quaida leader, Osama bin Laden because that is a sore point amongst Republicans following upon their failure to capture or kill him. Rather, they just repeat the same pap coming out of the White House. We all know that George Bush's assertion that "if we think things are bad now...just wait to see what will happen if we pull out" will be a new talking point as will the Ken Melman catch-phrase "Adapt and Win".

It is obvious that these Republicans have no stable platform, no cohesive plan for success, no understanding of what is really going on in Iraq, and that the American public has heard their policies and talking points ad nauseum and is no longer listening.

It is obvious to the American public that this administration and the candidates it supports for the mid term elections are inept, incompentent and unqualifed.

It is obvious to the American public that it is time for a change and a new direstion.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Confused Messages?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Stay the course...adapt and win...cut and run...

Just what is intended by this administration with regard to its message? That is anyone's guess. We can, however, judge the effect of this rhetoric upon the American public. For the most part, it is now falling on deaf ears.

Pres. Bush, Veep Cheney, RNC chair Melman...they each have their own set of talking points and we must point out that they don't match up!! The only talking point that IS consistent is that phrase cut and run which we have been deluged get the message...they have used this worn out cliche so many times that most of us just laugh when they resort to it again and again and again. Of course, Bush's brain is behind this specific talking point and one wonders if Mr. Rove has lost his's just not that effective these days!!

As to the other jingoistic catchphrases...which is it?? Stay the course or adapt and win? Mr. Melman asserts that they are actually one and the same...that by adapting we are maintaining. Well...this sure sounds like double speak to me...George Orwell would be writing in agony!! We know that the U.S. policy in Iraq, to be as gentle as possible, is not working, has not worked, and gives no apparent indication of working in the future. The truth is that we have made the wrong decision at each and every turn and one can only comment that this would appear to be the result of bad intelligence, recalcitrance and incompetence.

We hear, on the one hand, that commanders on the ground are aware of their needs and will tell Sec. of Defense Mr. Rumsfeld if they need additional troops. We hear, on the other hand, that even if they need troops, commanders on the ground will not second guess the policies set by the DOD and the Pentagon. Wow...this sounds like another case of it just poor communications skills??

Regardless of which mixed message one listens too, however, it is evident that this administration is clueless and forthright...a dangerous combination. We have no idea as to what we are doing or what will work...we have no concept of a winning or endgame strategy...but...we will push boldly ahead regardless of U.S casualties, Iraqi casualties or Iraqi infrastructural damage. We will forge ahead into the unknown even if we have a zero comprehension of Shi'a and Sunni mindsets.

It may be noted that we are the root cause of one of the most perplexing (to the U.S.) situations in the region. The Shi'a militias. After being abandoned by GHW Bush in 1991...after seeing thousands of their citizens massacred...the Shi'a have smartened up. They have resolved NOT to trust the U.S., based on previous performance. Hence...the existence of strong Shi'a militias which have infiltrated the police department and continue to aggravate sectarian violence.

I would suggest to the administration that adapt and win must be predicated upon intelligence, knowledge of the region and a modicum of common sense, none of which George Bush and his staff exhibit. I would further suggest that the adapting had best start in the White House, the DOD and the Pentagon before we expect to see anything happen in Iraq...that is...if it is not already to late (for both the White House AND Iraq)!


Monday, August 21, 2006


Monday, August 22, 2006

I spend so much time as a news junkie...watching, reading, writing and pondering. I often need to give myself a break and reflect on the GOOD things in my life. In that spirit, I have decided to devote today's BLOG to things that bring me joy.

First and foremost...spending time with my family. This was not always the case but I find that, as we grow older, the importance of family gains a greater spot in the hierarchy of my life and that my perspective has been vastly changed. I suspect that many factors have led to this new found realization, not the least of which has been my self discovery and my family's acceptance of what I discovered. This has increased our comfort level with each other and we are able to see the bigger picture and not get lost in the less important details.

I have found that working in my garden is a joyful event. I relish the observation of the growing process and marvel at the diversity of plant life one can grow. I enjoy both flower and vegetable gardening and find that ornamental gardening of all sorts appeals to my aesthetic appreciation.
Watching flowers bloom, new shrubs take root, and vegetables mature gives one a certain perspective on what it means to be alive.

Travel is a passion, although I have had to curtail that passion due to limiting factors. But, I will never lose the delight I feel in exploring new places. I even enjoy the feeling one gets when driving long distances in a car. The realization that movement along vast distances can change your spatial and temporal understanding of the universe is profound and often gives me the ability to "jump out of time and space". There is something akin to an ecstatic or mystical experience that happens in those moments. It's as though you were getting a glimpse of reality undiluted.

Hearing live music is another passion I have had to limit due to the same factors that have limited my desire to travel. Again, there is something highly liberating about absorbing the energies released by musicians when they ply their arts. I would speculate that it is actually physical in many respects and that it can open windows and doors to the world that otherwise might remain closed.

I am optimistic that this hiatus from travel and music is merely temporary and that I will, once again, have the pleasure of imbibing both. Often other priorities arise and one must give them their due.

Lastly, I will mention my passion for reading...fiction and nonfiction. That we can ceaselessly expand our horizons is something that always appeals to me and that I can benefit from something someone else wrote will always serve to stimulate me. It has been said that you can't teach and old dog new tricks, but I beleive that this is only the case when then dog no longer chooses to learn. For those of us who need the stimulation, however, we understand that we will NEVER stop learning and that the world and everything in and everything ever written will serve as guideposts along the path to expanded horizons.

I encourage all who read this to revel in those things that bring you joy and to not take them for granted. They are the things that add flavor and meaning to your life and help us to grow and develop. As Jung might have said, they are all aids in our quest for individuation, the quest to truly find out who we are.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Depleted Uranium

Sunday, August 20, 2006

One of the United States' most tragic policies during the Vietnam conflict was our use of Agent Orange, a powerful and prolific defoliant. The dirty little secret of the first gulf war was (is) the denial of Gulf War syndrome. The dirty little secret of THIS present conflict is depleted uranium and, as in the past, our military and DOD go out of their way to disavow any intelligent discourse involving this dangerous substance.

According to Deborah Hastings, an AP reporter, our government is sitting on 1.5 billion pounds of this stuff and it's cheap. She goes on to say that it is 60% as radioactive as natural uranium. We use this stuff regularly to coat bullets and projectiles and to coat tanks, etc. defensively. The therory is that it not only protects our armaments but that it helps the projectiles to pierce their targets.

What we neglect to mention is that radioactivity levels in Iraq have now gone through the roof...both in Iraqi citizens and in the environment. And, if that isn't bad enough, our soldiers are coming home showing the effects of radioactiviy poisoning and the VA's testing is so inept that very few correct diagnoses are being made. This stands to outdo Gulf War syndrome by a magnitude of 1000's considering how many troops have particpated in this conflict. We have no understanding of what the long term effects will be but suffice it to say that this could be a tragedy of epic proportions.

The long term effects upon the Iraqi citizenry and the Iraqi environment pale in comparison to what we are seeing and will continue to see amongst our troops. It is conceivable that an entire generation of Iraqi children may manifest a myriad of birth defects and it is impossible to determine how long this stuff will exist in the environment before breaking down.

There is no doubt as to whether this should be considered an atrocity of war and that we, the United States, are guilty of war crimes against a nation. Yet, this has been hushed up and covered up and, until this mornings AP article, I have seen a dearth of investigative reports that alluded to or cited outright our military's use of depleted uranium ammo.

Yes...there are some of us that have known that we were using this substance, but this knowledge remains a well kept secret regarding most of the American public. I extend my gratitude to Ms. Hastings for her comprehensive and scathing expose and can only hope that we will begin to read and hear much more about our regular use of depleted uranium.

One may also wonder if and how this should be reflected in nuclear non proliferation language. It is beyond doubt that we are using nuclear waste as a wartime weapon and it boggles the imagination that this would NOT be a violation of treaties we have signed. At the very least, it makes our argument against N. Korea, Iran and any other rogue state which aspires to possess nuclear weapons a farce at best and blatantly hypocritical in any event.

As citizens of this country, it is incumbent upon us to write our legislators and media representatives, to speak to our neighbors, and to support those troops returning home with allegedly indeterminate and undiagnosable illnesses. We cannot allow this practice to continue!!


Saturday, August 19, 2006

NSA wiretaps

Saturday, August 19, 2006

In light of this administration's incessant demand for increased executive authority, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling regarding illegal NSA wiretaps is a ray of sunlight in an otherwise gloomy outlook. Her decision was based on 1st and 4th amendment rights...freedom of the press and the limits of search and seizure. She also cited that the NSA had violated provisions of the FISA act. It would seem to be obvious that this administration HAS violated all 3 of these laws. The 1st amendment has been abridged in that one cannot exercise free speech with regard to correspondence overseas if the government is poised to intercept and read those communications. The 4th amendment provides protection against unreasonable search and seizure and the interception of the above cited correspondences without an appropriate warrant violates the law. And, in keeping with the provisions of those amendments to protect civil liberties, FISA was enacted SPECIFICALLY to enjoin the government from exercising unlimited executive power through secret wiretaps and other forms of surveillance. The Bush Admininistration KNOWINGLY and REPEATEDLY violated this congressionally enacted statute.

Our government has pushed the limits in every regard in its attempt to wage its illegal "war on terrorism". It has used the fear tactic incessantly, has illegally spied on its citizens and has illegally detained citizens with no just cause(see Rasul v. Bush, and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld). The provisions of the Patriot Act are draconian and are meant to severely limit our civil liberties. Even librarians have been up in arms after learning that they might be required to provide names and addresses and reading materials of their clients. The long arm of the law extends to ANY document transmitted much for doctor/patient or lawyer/client confidentiality.

It took but minutes for Mr. Bush to declare that the federal government would appeal this ruling. In the mean while, it has no intention of suspending its activities. As we get closer to the midterm elections, we can expect the Karl Rove strategy of fear and smear to be escalated. We will learn how no one but this government can protect us, how we will be attacked if the Democratic party gets Congressional control, and the incidence of raised terror alerts will rise exponentially.

One more glimmer of light...the American public is no longer buying the conflation of the war on terrorism with the invasion of Iraq. Equally significant, the American public does not seem to be as susceptible to these incendiary tactics as it previously was and we can only hope that the Rove/Bush diatribes fall on deaf ears. This may be imperative if the administration's advisors get their way and convince Mr. Bush to escalate the war on terror to include an invasion of Iran.

It is significant that the propaganda machine is breaking down. We must remain vigilant, and adamant, and hold this administration's policy of unrestrained executive authority in check until we can reinstitute congresional oversight which both the Senate and House have allowed to lapse. Only then will we have the accountability that has been lacking and the responsiblity that is so desperately needed.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Humiliation and Degradation

Friday, August 18, 2006

The words of Sen. George Allen this past week represent a glimpse into the mindset of this and other imperialistic and colonialistic regimes. It represents a habitual pattern of marginalization and disenfranchisement that has historically been used to maintain the superiority that conquerors always have. Kind of like that "Texas swagger" of our current president. It might seem obvious that such behavior can serve only to alienate and radicalize extant populations. This seems to be a lesson of history that perpetually goes unlearned.

Noam Chomsky has remarked that humiliation and degradation help to create a feeling of control as well as a sense of justification. Conquered peoples are "lesser people", not quite as intelligent by a measure as the imperialists, and need to be shepherded. Diminution is a way for the conquerors to still feel good about themselves while they abuse the indigenous peoples and exploit the resources or capitolize on a strategic location. Even though they purport to be benevolent despots, helping to introduce "civilization" to the "natives", to "help them to lift themselves up by their bootstraps", or to "bring democratiztion to the region", depending upon where in history the imperialistic regime locates itself, they are nothing more than self serving aristocrats with a distorted sense of entitlement.

They try to pass it off as paternalistic...we are only trying to "help you". But, in actuality, it is more patriarchal and authoritarian and pejorative. They use techniques such as divide and conquer, manipulation, and out and out lying to achieve their ends which, again, is blatant control over a foreign nation, its people and resources.

It would seem that the pattern of resorting to ridicule, humiliation and degradation would be self defeating with regard to their maintaining control. But, this is part of the hubris of the conquering and alleged patriarchal mindset. It fails to connect the wants control AND superiority and is, oddly enough, willing to sacrifice the former for the latter because of the need to prop up some kind of defective and collective ego.

The net result, however, is that people reach a breaking point...they refuse to tolerate the nasty epithets, the vitriolic diatribes that accompany the raping, pillaging and looting. It just becomes TOO MUCH and the onset of radicalization begins to materialize.

When a culture starts to manifest its superiority through such devices, one can tell that they have started to lose all touch with reality. They have begun to feel infallible, invulnerable and unassailable. Obviously, we can see this can have dramatic and devestating effects.

So...when elected officials like Sen. Allen start calling opposition party members "macaca", when VP Cheney calls all oppressed peoples terrorists, when RNC chairman Melman continually demeans a party by using such alienating phrases as "cut and run"...we can expect a backlash, particularly if an administration has been found to be manipulative, secretive, untruthful and incompetent.

Time is running out for this administration and its politics of divsion and polarity.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mixed Messages

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association is a professional association dedicated to gender identity disorder research and therapy. It has come to the attention of various and sundry gender acivists that a number of websites have appeared on the horizon...some new...some a bit older...that either blatantly distort the facts or couch them amongst truths and half truths so that reality is obscured. It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine if there a concerted effort to disseminate untrue information or if this is a case of ignorance. In either case, those who have acknowledged gender identity disorder (GID) in themselves and who are directed to these sites are becoming indoctrinated into a chorus of inaccurate and incorrect assertions.

Amongst these misnomers is the definition of "Intersex", which is an actual physical condition in which an individual was born with both sets of sexual organs, in varying proportions, perhaps one dominating the other. These websites purport to broadly assign the term "Intersex" to any individual experiencing GID. This is not only inaccurate but fully undermines the identity and treatment of those who ARE genuinely intersexed. The percent of the population which is classified as Intersex is smaller, by far, then the percentage of the population which has been diagnosed as having GID.

Perhaps even more frustrating is the conflating of such conditions as autogynophila and other fetishes, which are often concommitant with GID, with fetishistic dismemberment. This is not only absurd, but is a throwback to those hackneyed concepts that only those who are gay and have GID are bona fide transexuals. To disseminate such fallacious information is not only damaging to the community but persists in preventing a more tolerant and understanding posture from developing between the GLBTI communities and society at large.

We, therefore, advocate a more truthful approach, particularly when impressionable and previously uneducated researchers and self explorers, may go on to repeat these untruths or half truths and undermine all the positive work that has been and is being done to work towards a better understanding of gender identity dysphoria issues.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The lies keep comin'!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I was flabbergasted to discover that revisionism now takes place instantaneously!! I am certainly no Hezbollah supporter...altho...I think I do understand some of the issues that keeps them alive and well as an active player in the region. Nor do I condone much of the IDF reaction to Hezbollah's actions altho I do understand, I believe, the Israeli mindset with regard to their existential discomfort vis a vis Hezbollah. read the bombastic and fallacious headline that Israel won and that Hezbollah lost...this coming from President George Bush's own lips...absolutely floored me!!Are we to accept this kind of preposterous rhetoric as anything but pure misinformation...not even able to cut him some slack and call it disinformation.

I, for one, would be appalled if anyone accepted this as fact. There were clearly no winners in this conflict..only losers...mostly the Lebanese who lost citizens and neighborhoods, businesses and livelihoods.

And how did the U.S. comport itself?? We sent the Israelis weapons and arms and we sent the Lebanese relief aid. We discouraged an end to hostilities while we let the IDF run wild. We, according to Sy Hersh, as much as encouraged Israel to take out Hezbollah as a prelude for our designs upon Iran, the next domino in the George Bush/neocon "democratization" of the region. This so called democratization is just a fancy word for U.S. hegemony in the Middle East and U.S. control of oil.

There is no way we can trust a government that habitually lies about, misrepresents and obfuscates these vital issues. We can not let the Bush administration continue to play the fear card, to have carte blanch with this so called "War on Terrorism" or to regularly and consistently deceive the American public. is evident that we are not letting GWB play us like an old fiddle when he and Karl Rove and Dick Cheney resort to these same worn out and overused ploys.

Please continue to speak out against these policies...write your elected officials, refuse to be a automoton, get involved...

The future of the world may lie in our hands!!!


Monday, August 14, 2006

Conspiracy Theories

Monday, August 14, 2006

This administration has made itself the natural target of conspiracy theories. It's ultra-secretive demeanor, the refusal to accept responsibility and accountability, the cronyistic push for no oversight from Congress coupled with the unprecedented attempt to extend executive authority have had a chilling affect on many of us and present us with fertile ground for the development of conspiracy theories.

I suppose, within my lifetime, the JFK assasination and UFO investigations have been the two most notable sources for those who maintain covert government coverups. The Warren Commission report is still classified and it's anyone's guess as to the authenticity of claims regarding UFO's

But...the George Bush administration has made allegations of hidden agendas and secret cabals virtually an everday event. The deceit perpetuated by them goes beyond the pale of acceptability and one can only wonder if they are equally complicit in the dissemination of mis or disinformation in order to discredit the theories that abound.

Of course, at the core of these theories are the questions regarding 9/11, the neocon agenda, and government complicity in coverups, lies and half truths meant to put forward as rationale for U.S. hegemony around the world. We already know that the 9/11 commission's report is inaccurate, in many respects, and that softball questions were lobbed at many of the repondents. We know that no blame for action or inaction was levied against anyone. We know that George Bush fought against the existence of an investigatory commission and that he attempted to keep White House personnel from testifying.

Many of us whose instinctual alarms went off on the morning of September 11, 2001 fought against the assumption that, somehow, our government was involved. That was a direction in which we did not want to go. But..speaking for myself, there has always been a nagging suspicion that our government either helped instigate or, at the very least, ignored certain intelligence and that they were, somehow, directly or indirectly, responsible for the tragedy.

Yes...we know the state of the intelligence community was deplorable...but...there was ample evidence of reliable and consistent intel that should have alerted us to a potential terrorist threat. Are we really to believe that we were truly that ignorant?

Now we are seeing the questions about unsettling anomalies...the implosion of the World Trade Center, WT #7, the alleged sighting of 9/11 conspirators days after, the allegations of preferential treatment for the royal Saudi family. The press, who has been partially to blame for toeing the Bush party line, have made those who seek answers in these regards out to be lunatics, dupes and self deceivers. We can hear the echos of the RNC, Ken Melman and Karl Rove. Those who maintain that something fishy is going on are discredited, marginalized and ridiculed. The overwhelming sentiment, however, of those of us who feel that something is just not right, is that we just want to know the truth. I believe that to be Michael Moore's intent and look what the RNC and the press have done in their excoriation of him!!

It is my guess that there will be no answers in the near future...history may eventually reveal the sordid truth, but, just like the Warren Commission, it will be literally years, if ever, before the truth becomes public.

It becomes even more important, then, to keep up the pressure on this administration, particularly in light of the surfacing suspicions that the neocons would just love to invade Iran next. These midterms are critical in reestablishing a sense of oversight by Congress and helping to create a leash that will rein in George Bush and Dick Cheney, before they further instigate world hostilities and instability and do damage that becomes irreversible.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Connecticut's Primary

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

This will be a short entry today. I felt obliged to express my dismay upon learning that Joe Lieberman has decided to run as an independent. I believe this to be the crux of Senator Lieberman's disonnect with the state and people of Connecticut. That he considers his own self importance to be greater than his constituency is nothing short of arrogance and supposes that HIS interests supercede that of his state's and party's.

This is not the first time Mr. Lieberman has let his state down. The first was after his VP nomination for the 2000 Presidential election in which he insisted upon retaining his Senate seat concurrently. The next time he let his state down was after his endorsement of this administration's Iraq policy and his insistence upon maintaining that invading Iraq was the correct course of action.

The third time he let his state down was the Terry Schiavo case and the fourth was his endorsement of the administration's pork laden, subsidy filled transportation and energy bills.

Joe Lieberman may have worked for the poor and for minorities. He may have supported Women's and GLBT issues. As a Transgender person...of course I wholeheartedly endorse his positions in this regard. Nevertheless, he is beholding to his consituency and the betrayal felt by them is evident in their votes in the Connecticut Primary election.

That he would even consider splitting his party, which would be the obvious result of his running as an independent, is a furhter act of his state, his party and to freedom seeking Americans, in general, who view this upcoming midterm election as a critical step in preventing constitutional disintegration which has been the Bush Administration's agenda.

I call for Joe Lieberman to stand with his party, his state and with those who care about the original intent of the constitution and to defer from running for Senate this fall.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Tiger Woods

Monday, August 7, 2006

Yesterday I watched Tiger Woods win his 50th tournament as a professional golfer. To say that this was an astonishing feat would be an understatement. I would not say that Tiger woods is necessarily a hero...I reserve that title for actions that demonstrate a certain selflessness and sacrifice in the face of adversity or danger. Nor would I say, necessarily, that Tiger Woods is a role model. He may or may not be, but forcing athletes to be role models is unrealistic. His work with youth might qualify him for role model status but to say that, merely because Tiger represents a minority, that he must set an example for others.

I CAN, however, marvel at the fact that Tiger Woods consistently demonstrates humilty melded with confidence, a rare combination of assets. He has also combined raw natural talent with hard work and detailed and constant training which has skyrocketed him to premier status in his chosen sport. He may become the most accomplished golfer ever to play the game..his accomplishments to date have broken every record previously set.

Is he good for the game of golf? That's a no brainer. If someone like me who has rarely played the game can be drawn in by the Tiger magnet, just think what effect he has had on golf's popularity and the influx of new devotees to the sport...young and old. And, even though I was hesitant to accord Tiger the "role model" status, that he has opened the door for other minorities to be interested in a game that used to be the sole province of affluent, white men, is undeniable.

So...on this day after Tiger's 50th win...years earlier than anyone else ever before...I salute his prolific accomplishment and look forward to the day when I watch him win his 100th match!!


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Religious Fundamentalism

Sunday, August 6, 2006

My Sunday newspaper contained an op ed from John Farmer, writing for the NJ Star-Ledger. His thesis is that all forms of religious fundamentalism are responsible for the fiasco and conundrum in the Middle East. Crusaders, who could be described as fundamentalist Christians, initiated the Crusades which started the ball rolling for animosity between Muslims and Christians and has given modern Muslims the attitude of persecution at the hands of what they perceive to be an infidel faith.

The Sunni- Shi'a divide, he maintains, is an orthodox and fundamental schism that developed because of a lineage disagreement and, today, is responsible for untold numbers of deaths and sectarian violence that creates the volatile and unstable conditions in Iraq, specifically, and in the Muslim world generally.

He further goes on to say that Jewish fundamentalism can be cited as a cause for Zionist expansion into the West Bank, and for Jewish expansionism in general and that this has exacerbated the traditional Jewish - Muslim hostility that dates back to Abraham and legitimate descent.

Mr. Farmer is confident that, since political entities have been entirely ineffective in quelling Middle East hostilities, that, perhaps, religious institutions may be better equipped to inject a sense of sanity to the region. As much as I applaud his intial analysis, I am afraid that I perceive those organized religions to be equally ineffective in any attempt to stabilize the region. My thinking is that, far from employing a thoughtful and non- extreme philosophy, religious institutions are possibly more extreme, fundamental and reconstructionistic than ever.

The hatred is palpable and visceral and pervasive. Extremist Muslims preach jihad. Zionist Jews push for expansionism and holding onto traditional territories. American Christians have drawn an imaginary line around the region as the site of Armageddon and the impetus for the rapture. None of these represents, even remotely, a sane mind set.

I believe that only a small fraction of the world's Muslims, Christians and Jews, however, are responsible for this overwhelming fundamentalism. Their voices, however, are SO LOUD, that they sound like the dominant opinions. They have managed to drown out the voices of more moderate Muslims, Christians and Jews whose voices cannot be heard above the din.

It is these moderates who must work for peace, tolerance and an end to this seemingly perpetual hostility. They have the numbers and, as we have been taught, there is strength in numbers. The process works through discourse and education until overwhelming numbers of citizens insist that their governments and religious institutions get the message and initiate an end to the conflicts.

I call upon all you moderates to get involved. Engage your neighbors in dialogue, speak with your pastors, imams and rabbis, and write letters to the press and to your government officals, whether they are elected or not. Speak up and out and let your voices be heard!!


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Minimum Wage

Saturday, August 5, 2006

I just finished writing my NC Senator regarding his position on minimum wage. This is the second time I have corresponded with him regarding this issue and it served as a response to his letter to me explaining his position. His stance is that entry level positions will be reduced, that small and medium sized businesses will be unable to compete, and that the free market and tax reduction should be allowed to create any improvements.

Of course...I responded that those arguments just do not hold water. Below, you will find a copy of my letter to him.

Dear Senator Burr,

I want to thank you for your written rsponse to my query regarding your stance on the issue of raising the minimum wage. I was heartened to see that you did not take the bait offered by your party and that you refused to vote for a bill that coupled minimum wage and modifications to the estate tax. I cannot be certain as to your motives, but these are two separate and distinct issues and linking them together is sham politics.

Regarding the actual issue of the minimum wage, I take issue with your assertion that a raise in minimum wage would be disastrous for business. It has been shown that, in those states where minimum wage HAS been raised, that small and medium sized busnesses have not been forced out do to an inability to compete. In fact, our state, NC, has recently passed legislation that raises the minimum wage and we will be able to see locally exactly what the effects are.

It has been noted previously that Congress has not hesitated to give itself raises...not once, not twice, but SEVEN times!! Does it not occur to you that many citizens view this as a hypocrisy?

You also maintain that many "conservative" (you say bipartisan, but the majority who subscribe to this view are NOT liberals) institutions support the assertion that an increase in minimum wage will deter entry level jobs. I believe this to be disingenuous...those workers who have the least skills have, for the most part, lost their jobs due to outsourcing and they are facing a shortage of jobs that have been replaced by those very same ones that pay minimum wages...a wage that is well below the poverty line. Any job that has required training or schooling is, most likely, NOT offering entry level positions at minimum wage. Minimum wage is most often found in fast food and basic service jobs. These are NOT the fields of employment highlighted in those polls describing "entry level positions".

As I stated it now stands...the minimum wage rewards those workers who work full time with below poverty line incomes. We are NOT seeing a leveling of the playing field. Those workers cannot afford health insurance, college educations for their children, medical care or, as is often the case, even nutritional food for the table.

I urge you to reevaluate your position!! I am in school and have the opportunity to interact with many others from various and sundry walks of life and lines of work. Most of them agree with the need for increasing the minimum wage...and...most will be entry level applicants upon finishing their schooling. Again...most will be compensated at wages that exceed the minimum wage.

It should be noted that Mr. Burr did not take the Republican Party's "bait" to pass a minimum wage that had also provided for an amendment to the estate tax. That notwithstanding, however, I would say that his stance on minimum wage and poverty is nothing short of hypocritical in his support of corporatized America versus the rights of individual citizens, particularly because he has also voted in favor of his own Congressional pay raise.


Friday, August 04, 2006

Elimination of Israel

Friday, August 4, 2006

I have written about U.S. culpability in the Middle East and that the United States has been instrumental to Israel's policy. I do not want to let other aggressors off the hook. President Ahmadinejad of Iran certainly falls into that category. He has dismissed the historicity of the holocaust as an event that did not transpire. His avowed wish for the destruction of the state of Israel and the deaths of all those of Jewish descent is nothing less than abhorent and despicable. It can be safely presumed that he is involved in the strengthening of both Hamas and Hezbollah and ratifies there refusal to officially recognize Israel as a sovereign state.

The Human Rights Commission recently claimed that Herzbollah had instituted practices in war that go beyond human decency. The locating of rocket bases adjacent to civilian populations was cited as the reason. This is, of course, unacceptable behavior. Additionally, Hezbollah has decried the killing of Lebanese civilians but has revelled in the deaths of Jewish citizens,unlike the IDF which has lamented all civilian deaths.

The consistent devaluation of human life is antithetical to ever achieving peace in the region. It belies any sense of legitimacy Hezbollah, as a political entity, or Hamas, may be entitled to. It is difficult to take their concerns seriously as long as they maintain this double standard and insist upon their recalcitrant positions.

I implore the Muslim community to insist upon equality when it comes to human lives. A peaceful resolution between Arabs and Jews is critical for survival of either group and it must be obvious that anything or anyone that deters this goal must be held accountable.

It will never be possible for Western powers to distinguish between terrorists and nationalists until the rhetoric of hate has ceased. Legitimate concerns of Palestinians, Lebanese and Iraquis will go unaddressed unless this separation is made. It is my belief that the terrorists are few...that most peoples desire and will work for peace when their disenfranchisement HAS been addressed.

That things must change is a prescription not reserved only for the West and the U.S. It applies to all those who would choose continued violence as a method to achieve their ends, which one must assume cannot be peace if they have chosen violence as a vehicle.

It is my belief that most people in the Middle East who cry out for justice perceive the arrogance of neo-colonialisitic policy but that they also have a sense for peaceful coexistence. I further believe that they would opt for diplomatic solutions over conflict and war. Let peace reign in the region!!


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Long range implications for GWB policy

Thursday, August 3, 2006

At this juncture in time, it has become clear to many that the ramifications of the George W. Bush foreign and domestic policies will be significant. To focus on foreign is a foregone conclusion that we have all but alienated most of the world. At the very least, the United States is perceived to be arrogant, self serving and monolithic. At the very worst, we are seen as an occupying force, as terrorists and as neocolonialistic. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, but, regardless, we have abandoned any damage control and continue to forge ahead with our predictable myopia and tunnel vision.

The latest evidence of this self serving and myopic stance is our refusal to call for a cease fire between IDF and Hezbollah, despite the apparent hypocrisy the world has noted in that we are both supplying Israel with arms and weapons and are, concurrently, supplying Lebanon with humanitarian aid.

In keeping with this administration's refusal to accept responsibility for its actions and it's continued portrayal of a rosy scenario and imminent success, press secretary Snow continues to dish out the glowing predictions and denies what everyone deems obvious with regard to world opinion. It is no wonder that many in the press and not just a few citizens as well, question if the administration is, perhaps, living in a parallel universe. What we see and understand is so radically different than what Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Snow seem to see.

Cognitive dissonance notwithstanding, the wheels have been set in motion and one can only speculate as to the potential for reversabilty for many of the policies that have been enacted. Sectarianism in the Muslim world is not new. In fact, the roots go back to lineage squabbles after the Prophet's death and have been the source of infighting and dispute for centuries. Of late, we have seen it's escalation dramatically in Iraq. It is worth noting that George Bush was completely oblivius to the fact that sectarianism even existed in Iraq as recently as one month prior to the U.S. invasion. Evidently, neither Cheney nor his advisors had apprised him of the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish tripartite nature of the community.

Iran, a country which has become increasingly stronger and is on the verge of developing nuclear capability, is predominantly Shia. This faction is far more fundamentalistic and extreme and many of the jihadists are Shia Muslims. Iraq, on the other hand, was prediminantly Sunni under Sadaam Hussein. Despite the barbaric and heinous practices instituted and executed under his regime, his Sunni Islam was far more secular and was anything but extremist in its interpretation of the Koran. Iraq most certainly acted as a buffer and impeded the Iranian expansionist drive. Sadaam had been "defanged", so to speak, by the U.N. and international forces and agencies. Now we are seeing some kind of Shia (an extremist version) hegemony in the region.

Needless to say, this is a simplification of a much more complicated and complex situation. I am omitting some important details...such as our involvment in the arming of Sadaam Hussein, our collaboration with Bin Ladin...our support for the Shah of Iran which led to his overthrow and the extreme and fundamental brand of Islam extent there currently. I have not highlighted our continued and repetitive support for tyrants and despots around the globe. And, I have not mentioned the effects of a corporatized administration with roots in the oil industry and the collusion with Saudi extremists who have been recognized as some of the worst human rights violators.

I have omitted the details of falsehoods and faulty intelligence perpetrated by this administration, it's obfuscation of the 9/11 events and it's perpetual conflation of what happened on 9/11 with what happened in Iraq. The consecutive excuses for our need to invade, preemptorily, another country would be laughable were they not the results so tragic...over 2,500 U.S soldiers, sailors and marines dead, over 15,000 wounded, half of them severely (read that as multiple amputations, brain damage, not to mention the continual and ever-present traumatic stress syndrome). Estimates of Iraqi civilian casualties range up to 100,000. Damage to infrastructure is virtualy unestimatable at this juncture. Our costs have topped 350 billion dollars...much of this frittered away through malfeasance and mishandling of funds, not to mention fraud and waste. Oh...I almost forgot to mention the Iraqi civil war which the administration denies...rather, it is "unfortunate scetarian violence" spurred by non Iraqi provocateurs.

After all is said and is the long range implications that are scariest. No Sadaam to act as a buffer...a strengthening Iran which now feels unfettered and free to spread its influence. Conflict between Israel and both Palestine and Hezbollah which continues unchecked and which could very easily spread. Has the region EVER been this unstable? Can we EVER hope to put the genii (Iranian fundamentist expansion) back in the bottle?

The domino theory used to be popular amongst anticommunist hawks in the Vietnam era. Now...we have a new kind of domino theory and George Bush, under the guise of fighting terrorism, has set these dominos in motion. How many will have to fall before we can restore some semblance of peaceful coexistence? Newt Gingrich has even gone so far as to call this the beginning of WWIII.

It must be obvious that we are further along than at the juncture of two paths. We have chosen the wrong road and are pretty far along. Is it too late to turn back? This is unknowable. What IS knowable, however, is that to continue down this road is not feasible and to continue to inhabit this parallel universe in which the Bush administration dwells can have no constructive or beneficial purpose. The time for change is NOW.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Wednesday, August 2, 2006

I recently viewed Mitch Albom's film, "Five People You Meet In Heaven". Aside from the acting, which was superlative, I was extremely touched by the theme of this film. That each and every one of us is affected by a myriad of individuals and that we each, in turn, affect a host of others is a principle which has guided my life. Any success I may have had, any positive developments, all that I have learned...these can be credited to those individuals who have been there for me, who have taken an interest in my life.

I can only hope that I, too, have been and will be there to make an impact upon others whose paths have crossed mine. I believe we are best equipped to do this when we have made the determination to live genuine and authentic lives, when we embrace our individuality and when we are truly open to fulfiling whatever "destiny" may lie ahead of us.

The fact that we often have no idea as to whose lives we affect was a truly poignant theme in this film. Knowing who or how is not necessarily germane to the's one of those things that "just is". In some ways, it is akin to the concept that events often transpire "the way they are supposed to". This may sound fateful, but we truly do have free's a kind of paradox, and we know that paradoxical situations require an intuitive conceptualization. Even though it cannot be reduced to a rational interpretation, we intuitively grasp it's truth.

In this age of separation, distrust, war and violence...were we able to actualize our inter-relatedness,the so called "ties that bind"...were we able to appeal intuitively to a deeper truth...perhaps we could rise above the things responsible for the separation, the fear and the hatred which leads to hostilities and conflict.