Category Archives: Politics

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.)

The King is Dead… Why Was He a King?

FILE - In this photo provided by the U.S. Army on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2006, the most wanted Iraqi fugitive, former Saddam Hussein deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri , is pictured on the deck of cards put out by the U.S. military to help capture most wanted officials of Saddam Hussein's regime. Salahuddin province Gov. Raed al-Jabouri says soldiers and allied Shiite militiamen killed al-Douri early Friday, April 17, 2015 in an operation east of the city of Tikrit. A graphic photo issued by the government purports to be of al-Douri's corpse, but DNA tests are still pending. (U.S. Army via AP)

King of clubs was killed several months ago. Much happened since, but it’s still worth bringing up.

An aged Saddam regime bigwig, reduced to scuttling around the dessert, planning and plotting, was killed. When the US was arrogantly stepping into the marshes and deserts of Iraq, destabilizing the entire region, this man was dubbed the King of Clubs. Gamification, a buzz word for technology over the last few years, is, like most else in the geek world, merely a dusting off of old ideas.

 

Even back in the 17th century cards were used to “pillory” people. The power of media can’t be stopped, and it can teach, inform, and corrupt. And frequently, the second and third are intertwined.

Was this man guilty of crimes? Yes. War crimes? Yes. Should have been captured and brought to justice if possible? Absolutely.

In this case, the card went to the discard pile. But it’s far easier to attack a foe when they’ve been reduced to a face in the shuffle, the object of studied scorn.

Stepping Up, Stepping In

Available housing in Europe as of February 2014.

Today the pope called on all institutions under his control to accept refugees fleeing the ongoing horror in the Middle East. Notable in beating the pope to the punch are some EU countries, Germany at their fore. Equally notable in their rejection of refugees is the UK, battling their influx through the only land connection, the Chunnel.

us_wallThe United States, with a rather larger body of water separating it and a frenetic tempest around illegal immigration and religious ethnocentrism, is having little to nothing to do with the millions probably permanently displaced in the years-long battle to eliminate Alawite control over Syria, which has turned into a war against the cancer that is DAESH. To say nothing of Chad, Mali and other African countries where terrorism in the name of religion metastasizes as the ripples of America’s destabilization of a quarter of the world in 2003 continues. America’s avoidance of social responsibility for its previous actions not only shames it, but reduces America’s standing among the nations of the world. If it — we — want to make a difference, we need to be part of the solution to this wave of immigration, not just the instigator. And throwing money at immigration and relocation efforts, while a poor way to do it’s share, would at least show the America is part of the family of nations.

Germany isn’t just accepting newcomers out of the guilt of its post-Holocaust heart: it’s doing it because new immigrants work hard, provide a steppingstone for existing citizens to move up in their professions and generally make the economy larger.

french_ghettosFrance’s immigration experiment has failed for a number of reasons, including treating non-“true” French as outsiders for generation, creating ghettos that surround Paris and other major cities, and a cognitively dissonant government policy of acknowledging Christianity while vociferously suppressing religious expression. Combine the negative birth rate of “native” French and a social system exceeding every other EU country in payer to beneficiary ratio, France is ill-prepared for an influx of even more people of passion about their religion requiring all manner of basic services.

Italy… well, the pope has spoken for his domain, but it’s doubtful the Italians, whose government rivals that of Greece is some ominous ways, can take in massive numbers of immigrants and successfully integrate them into their society.

Which brings me to he most interesting EU country in terms of immigration: Spain. The country has an almost death spiral of rural population, with entire towns up for sale or even being given away as people flock to the cities. It has a very small population relative to the size of the country, and, with its Moorish history, makes it an interesting choice for fleeing Syrians. I propose that EU countries not willing or able to host refugees pay for their relocation, en masse, to parts of Spain, including the rural northwestern provinces. There’s an existing infrastructure, their culture shock can be ameliorated, it’ll be easier to provide social services and it is not the start of a ghetto: it’s a chance for people to start a new life in a less traumatic way. Sure, there are possible issues, but the tragedy of migrant deaths are more pressing than the longer, generational issues of integration of immigrant populations into society.

Housing is available throughout Europe: countries need to step up and bring in the next generation of future, hard-working citizens.

 

Dealing with the Devil: On Deals, Compromises and Hope

It’s been a couple of weeks since the treaty between… well, between Iran and the Western World. And it’s not a done deal yet, nor well appreciated[1][2] (although what could happen if it falls through is not good[1][2][3]).

Things to consider:

  • Countries make treaties with enemies. That way they can, in the future, just be agreements.
  • Iranians want the same material things the West wants. And with materialism, as the extremists in ALL religions say while gesticulating wildly, come “Western ways.” Which translates to a yearning for the freedom to pursue one’s passion.
  • I daresay that the ramblings of the religious in the United States as well as Iran sound amazingly similar.
  • Ten years is a long time. The Middle East has government-level issues that, by then, will make regional supremacy a different issue. Fighting over water, fresh water, will be critical. Israel’s water supply is already tapped. The Mediterranean Sea is nine times saltier than the Atlantic so it’s not a source. Power will be an issue to compensate for a much larger economy, and fortunately, Iran has all the raw material for making nuclear power plants. Which are far more attractive than nuclear weapons for Iran’s GDP, which, now that there looks to be a deal, will be important to them.

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.

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.