Category Archives: Governance

Who Can Never be President (of the United States)

Well, we’re certainly making progress. If by “progress” you mean “a repeat of racist opinions time and again.” When JFK was running for president back in the late 1950’s the thought of the pope calling the shots with a Catholic in the White House was a huge obstacle to the Kennedy campaign.

I need not say much about President Obama’s ‘first African-American in the White House’ as the racist feedback loop, which started at first mention of his run, continues to this day. Conspiracy idiocy such as the Birther Idiocy and the Secret Muslim Drivel abound. Over a quarter of Americans (the shallow end of the gene pool) believe that one.

Now we have surgeon cum wannabe Evangelical Ruler Ben Carson picking up the stinking turdball of racism and xenophobia and trying to move it along with claims that America can’t have a Muslim president. Because the pope’s rule over America in the early 60’s was such a travesty. And the Black Man made a mess of the White (man’s) House.

Christians of different flavors have always been in the White House. Some, like President Lincoln, were cagey about their beliefs. President Jefferson was famous for his literal cutting and pasting of the bible, removing all references to miracles. And Episcopalians, who hie to the Church of England, are in the ranks of American Presidents (most puzzling, that one!).

The rumblings about possibly having a Jewish President (technically, Bernie Sanders is Jewish) hasn’t hit the airwaves, and I predict that even if he’s nominated to run on the Democratic ticket, it won’t be mentioned in polite company. After all, the American Jewish machine has inoculated American society for a massive immune system response to even the appearance of anti-Semitic slurs.

UntitledWhat we need now is a moderate Muslim political organization, one focused on Muslims in America, separate from the politics of the Middle East. Interfaith organizations have had success in building grass-roots connections, but Muslim leaders and, more importantly, Muslim politicians at all levels, must stand up now, make waves, and present the true, peaceful face of Islam, in a true, centuries-old American context, as Jewish Americans have done with increasing success since the founding of America.

Acceptance of the other, and a rejection of xenophobia brings a more honest peace than all the platitudes and treaties in the world. And in what the media have portrayed as an increasingly fractious American religious landscape, it’s worth non-Muslims helping such an organization to develop. And for American Muslims to accept that help, even if it comes from Jewish sources. (After all, Jewish and Muslims have worked well together many times in the past, including at the height of Muslim expansion and the Moorish Empire — sometimes referred to as the true Caliphate.)

Terrorism Has One Definition

The slaughter that has become a staple in the Middle East continues. DAESH grabbing civilians as more grist for its horror-show mill, Yemen’s quiet disintegration that’s turned into a Biafra-like famine situation in places. Dozens killed in car-bomb attacks while innocents are at market.

Translation: Price Tag (:) Revenge of the JewsIn Israel, a well-regulated state, a lunatic kills one and injures five at a gay pride parade — and garners more attention than Yemen for days on end. And the tragedy of a terrorist attack near Bethlehem makes few waves in the Israeli regime, where terrorists are not just people committing acts of violence to instill fear. Just Arab ones. For all the protestations of Netanyahu and his cabinet, there’s a (not) surprising silence from his sycophants and supporters. After all, it’s Jews who were involved in the “price tag” attack. “Hilltop Youth” (whatever their ages up through their 40’s), those frolicking on the hilltops that Arabs don’t use anyway. It’s just kids. They’re a fringe. And the Left is an evil “Greater than Hitler” (at least, that’s what the photoshopped images present). It reminds me of a similar time of whipped up frenzy. One that ended with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin by a nut-job who will probably rot in prison (while creating a huge family thanks to conjugal visits).

Back in America, the unmedicated masses made much hay of a yearly military exercise held across several states so the Army can train in real condition and over time and space. Politicians cynically whipped the frenzy up around the Jade Helm 15 exercise, resulting in the Texas Governor bringing Texas State Guard troops to “monitor” the Federal troops, just in case they’re going to invade the country.[more] When push comes to shove and citizens commit violent crimes against the government[1][2][3][4], however, they’re all treated to the same brand of justice.

The point: in functioning democracies the lunatic fringes, aided by freedom of speech, anoint the broadband with their nuttiness, and incite others to believe they’re right in violating the law. Violators of the law should be equitably punished no matter their race, color, religion, or any other factor. Israel loses credibility among its base throughout the work when it treats Jewish terrorists with kid gloves and acknowledging their justifications. Toss ’em in the same jails, use the same, broken judicial system to process them, and impose the rule of equal law.

Security Through Fear, Denial and Obfuscation

None provide security, any more than a blankie or stuffed animal do for a child. They share the idea of appeasing the rulers, keeping citizens focused on staying within the bounds. True security involves teaming with others: for kids, parents and peers: for teens, mentors. For young adults, mentors and thought leaders.

Americans guard liberty, privacy and independence. Terror seeks to eradicate all of these, replacing them, in DAESH’s case, with enslaving, intrusive and totally submissive populaces.

Total openness doesn’t work — security of the many requires a loss of privacy of the few.

The checks and balances of the American government, however we can warp them temporarily. keep us in a swaying balance, like the scales of justice. Guantanamo Bay is an example, as are the ongoing privacy violations of the NSA in communications and subverting American technology to make them more susceptible to covert surveillance — or control.

In the long run, however, liberty, and independence do provide security. even in a world changing as fast as ours. And, ultimately, it is all our world. Not DAESH’s, not Iran’s, and emphatically not the United States’.

Caliphatonoma

CaptureDAESH has sent recruiters to Afghanistan. It urges attacks in its name, and claims what it can in Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere. Where is this caliphate DAESH is so passionate to build? In the middle of the desserts and cities of Iraq and Syria? The desserts of Libya? In the desserts and cities of Tunisia?

Cartography doesn’t seem to matter much to them: it’s a nation-state with no intended borders. It’s a state of mind. Of terror. The comparison between cancer and terrorism is almost trite, but the damage of DAESH, the organization that styles itself as ISIS, is similar to the disease that’s killed several of my friends, and assuredly will kill more.

Cancer are body cells gone insane. Islam, nationalism, tribal pride, ethnicity, culture: all these have an honored place in defining a people in a place and at a time. Like the top of the picture, these are large numbers of people living in (relative) harmony with one another. Those self-same components of cultural or ethnic identity, removed of reason or rational breadth become the death not only of those healthy around them and, ultimately, all culture, ethnicity, nationalism and even tribal identity. Where people stood, persons act out, displacing the normative for the insane. And where DAESH walks, all but the conquerors cower. And the conquerors can come from any nation, culture, or ethnicity — so long as they can spread the disease of fanatical, fatal extremism in the name of selfish, personal power over others.

They must have been very scared when they were children. I wonder what would these men be had they been raised with love, peace, acceptance and cultural and family identity?

On Lies and Liars — and Truth

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu helped up his voting by doing what rulers across the world have always done before elections: scare the electorate right before the election, then walk their fearmongering back once they’ve got the mandate. The day before elections Netanyahu spoke of the Right being in danger, that “the Left” was busing Arab voters to vote. That so long as he was in power, there would be no Palestinian state.[1][2]

The day after the elections Netanyahu blithely and without any shame walked back that latter statement. While he might see this as something completely normal, it’s raised worries even among staunch Israeli supporters. As well it should: lies and fearmongering are a hallmark of a “sick” politican movement, one that believes it can’t rely on truth and facts to make its case.

Of course, in Israel, things are more complicated. While this author very much wants two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side, with _all_ of Jerusalem as their joint capital, currently this is not possible. Throughout the ’90s and 2000s any “moderates” in the Palestinian camp have been eradicated[3][4][5], leaving populists like Abu Mazen and non-negotiators like Hamas holding the reins of power in with West Bank and Gaza Strip. I don’t trust Netanyahu to act in good faith, but I certainly don’t trust terrorist groups who’ve vowed to destroy Israel to honestly participate in the creation of a two-state solution.

But the current situation should not be the basis for blanket statements, and Netanyahu, in making a blunt (and, for once for him, honest) statement about a two-state solution, showed his true colors. Even if an Abba Eban, a Mohatma Ghandi, a Mother Theresa were all to arise from within the Palestinian leadership, he would not reach out to create peace. An that is more dangerous to Israel and the entire Middle East than someone who is willing to honestly deal and honestly speak. Dancing the sidestep might look pretty in a movie, but a person’s word is their bond. Break that bond enough times and there’s not even an empty, angry suit left.

Tunisia & The Homicidal ex-Boyfriend

domestic violenceIf I can’t have you, I’ll beat/kill you so no one can have you. This is the insane rationale of men who beat or kill their ex-girlfriends (real or imagined). (If you are in a situation like this, please click here to get help.)

DAESH thrives on fear and chaos, believing their “order” would be preferred to the horrors of random violence.

Tunisia, and all normatively functioning countries, have an invested interest in creating a diverse market of products and services to generate foreign currency: tourism, agriculture, manufacturing. Even if the country is totalitarian, the need for money and trade is critical. The Filipino government depends on foreign remittances from their citizens serving in household and other endeavors in countries around the world. The Mexican economy depends in many parts of the country on those selfsame remittances from illegal immigrants to the United States, sending home money to support their families.

Broken and failed states are only interested in their self-preservation, inhabitants be damned. North Korea exports cohorts of slaves from its prisons (where “crimes” are frequently manufactured, and entire families are sentenced for the purported sins of a single family member) to work in Middle Eastern countries as construction workers. DAESH steals and loots from people that have run from their terror, extorts money for passage into, on, and out of its controlled territory and sells oil to the open market. There’s no real commerce, no industry: there’s only money into DAESH’s bloody pockets.

Depriving a country of legitimate revenue, like killings tourists, gives DAESH and other “angry boyfriend” terrorists a venue to increase their power. For where there is no economy, no markets, high unemployment, fear and anger, DAESH, like a lethal fungus, can take root.

Sunshine (transparency) and cleanliness (rule of law, fairness) are the cure for these situations. But it’s up to governments and rulers to invest in their people, in their businesses and industries, and schools to keep the population involved and interested in keeping the empty hatred of DAESH and its ilk at bay.

 

 

On Being the Will of the People

15 March update: Elections in Israel are less than a day away, and it looks like the Joint List with Meretz is an attractive alternative in the Israeli-Arab “street” to not voting, or joining a large party. Check out one of the charismatic candidates from Haifa in this CNN story.

Israelis go to elections this week. All Israelis have the right to vote (if they are in-country on voting day). I’ve always been proud of the fact that ballot boxes are sent to military bases, prisons and hospitals to sweep up every last vote. Israel’s parliamentarian system is amazingly imperfect, yet it is better, at this point, than even the American system. It’s easy to buy a politician: it’s a bit harder to buy a party, each with its own internally-ranked list of possible Knesset members. That said, the baldly stated positions of these parties need little camouflage to attract the money, in contrast to the amorphous “Republican” or “Democrat” label in America, which by virtue of the breadth of the label, makes indiscernible the true views of the politician beyond their carefully crafted, handled, managed, spun sound bites.

It’s an ugly election where the true views and opinions of its citizens are brought bare for a popularity contest. And given that there are voting percentage thresholds preventing tiny (and usually fringe) parties from getting in, the simpler and more populist the message, the better the chances of that party getting sufficient votes to represent its ideological constituents.

Gerrymander_fullThis means that Israeli Arabs, if they want any say in obtaining a legitimate portion of the economic pie, must lump themselves together either into an oleo of communist, religious Muslim and ethnically Arab proponents — and achieve much thrashing with little concrete, usable policy or power, or vote with one of the left-leaning parties, and hope that said parties won’t forget their Arab voters once they get a say in government. This is akin to the American concept of gerrymandering, without all the trouble of reapportioning voters to geographies. And Israeli Arabs will lose here, as they have in almost all previous elections. But the y have the vote, and access to the laws of the land, and their courts. And slowly, incredibly slowly, their representatives are able to bring the resources their constituents need home to them.

At least in Israel Christians and Muslims have the right to vote, and, on paper if nowhere else, are full citizens of the country. And that’s the point: the minority in Israel has rights courts have reaffirmed countless time.

A democracy isn’t required to be run with the will of the people: the Hussein dynasty ruling Jordan has done an incredible job of providing a place at the table for Arabs of all faiths and sects. And while there is a Parliament which ostensibly runs the country, the real power is behind the throne and the Hussein dynasty. King Hussein rules because he considers the will of his people, and at the very least acknowledges it.

But a country run by those ignoring the will of its weak people (demographically or politically speaking) is not a true country: it’s a swath of land where those with power rule, and those without bend, hide, or die. A place like DAESH’s ephemeral domain. Or Iraq. Or Burma. Or any number of Emir/Calif/Prince/King -ruled places.