Archive for the ‘Fundamentalism’ Category

What’s going on in Venezuela?

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

For decades Venezuela rode the wave of oil profits, suffered through incompetent governments and dictatorships, and betrayed the vision of Bolivar. Under Chavez and his cronies, the ideology changed but the sins did not. Sr. Chavez excited all the wannabe Lenins in the U.S. and Europe, but what they got was a mini-Stalin, mini in the sense that Venezuela is a smaller country than the Soviet Union, so Chavez couldn’t torture and kill as many people! Now Mr. Maduro is simply an overripe plantain (what “maduro” usually means in Latin America), ready for the garbage heap of history, but he still continues his predecessor’s oppression without any pretense of ideology.  Moreover, as Bolivia, Cuba, and Venezuela have shown, communism has become a debunked ideology that offers no real solution for the poor and oppressed. Those who swallow this ideological gruel end up exchanging one set of exploiters for another.

Unfortunately many naïve people confuse communism and its “dictatorship of the proletariat” with social democracy. Note the juxtaposition of words: dictatorship v. democracy. Iberian and Latin American governments often descend into oppressive dictatorships led by caudillos. Venezuela is only one in a long lineup of countries following the model of Franco’s Spain. I restrict my historical focus to the 20th and 21st centuries—Portugal, Spain, and their colonies in the New World certainly have a long history of oppression. And sometimes Europe and the U.S. have encouraged that (the generals’ “Dirty War” in Argentina, Pinochet in Chile, even Castro in Cuba at first—he was on the Ed Sullivan Show!—and so forth).

The current low oil prices mean Venezuela has no real significant income beyond mom & pop enterprises that barely scrape by. Before the fall of prices, it could feed the greed and graft of its leaders with enough left over to satisfy the rest of the population. The graft and greed of the leadership still continues, but now many are without jobs and starving.

This is easily explainable. Oppressive governments are myopic. The focus is on satisfying the greed of an oligarchy, be they fascists or communists (in practice, they’re all the same) (any semblance to what’s happening in the U.S. capital is scary). There are no plans for improving the plight of the common citizen. When the economy fails, as it invariably does, the common citizen suffers while the leadership becomes even more oppressive as they try to hold onto power. Unrest becomes rampant. Sometimes the phoenix that rises out of the ashes is just another oppressive government. This was the case for Russia; it’s also often the case for Latin American countries. It was the case in Cuba. It is the case in Venezuela.

Caudillismo is a disease. Venezuela is suffering from it and is in its death throes. Other South American countries also suffer from it, like Brazil.  It’s sad. I love these people, their respect for family, and their enjoyment of life to the fullest. They deserve better. I don’t know if there’s any hope for that.

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And so it goes…

Irish Stew #63…

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

International

Trump’s Saudi policies. Saudi Arabia wasn’t on Trump’s list of countries whose Muslim immigrants, many escaping horrible situations in their home countries, are the targets of his bans in his executive orders, contradicting his belief that all Muslims are terrorists. And Mr. Trump negotiated a weapons deal with the duplicitous Saudis to make the military-industrial complex happy during his whirlwind tour in the Mideast.

The Saudis aren’t our friends. They’re not even the enemies of our enemies. They are the enemy. The majority of the 9/11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia because the Saudi royal family’s state-sponsored religious schools have a continuing policy of brainwashing young boys and men to hate the West. And they have continuously attacked Yemen where they are responsible for mass murders of innocents. They probably support ISIS too, because ISIS hates Shi’ites, and they’re the Saudis’ enemies.

Sad! Trump is supporting duplicity and murder. Guess he believes in that.

National

Malthusian politics? The CBO hasn’t published its financial analysis yet, but the Senate’s proposed healthcare bill is meaner than the House’s. They’re both an attack on the middle class and poor, especially those who don’t have any financial means and depend on Medicaid as a life preserver—elderly in nursing homes, people with serious disabilities, and very sick children. Too many without any other coverage.

Not just sad but doing the Grim Reaper’s work so the GOP can give tax breaks to the rich elites. These aren’t healthcare bills—they’re thinly disguised tax breaks. And Rand Paul thinks they don’t go far enough? This guy has no compassion at all. No wonder he was a failed doctor! Next thing we’ll see from the GOP? Maybe death ovens for the sick and infirm with Dr. Death running them?

Is Obama to blame? Not as much as the GOP and American media are saying! They’re still supporting the attack on the ex-president for not divulging what he knew about Putin’s personally directed attack on our electoral system. Why? It’s not “fake news” if they hide the real truth that Obama’s desire to secure bipartisan support to inform the American public was rejected by the GOP members of congress Obama approached. OK, maybe Obama was stupid to believe that HRC was a shoo-in, but Trump had been yammering all during the campaign that the system was rigged. What if Obama had decided to divulge all he knew? They’d have said he was unfairly supporting HRC! Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

For eight years the GOP practiced obstructionism against the Obama administration. And Trump dares to accuse the Dems and Obama of being obstructionists? Of course, I’m waiting for HRC to say Obama was responsible for her losing. Sad! You can’t trust politicians or the media these days.

Wild weather. Last Saturday morning NJ received a taste of Midwest weather. I saw my first tornado in Kansas when I was thirteen visiting my grandfather—an awesome sight even if it was off in the distance. Now we had two in Howell, NJ. A smack across the face from Mother Nature to wake us up to the problems of climate change? She should concentrate on Trump who believes it’s all a hoax. Hey Mother Nature, why don’t you go after Mar al Lago or one of his many golf courses—Bedminster would be a good start? Just give the innocents a warning.

Sports etc.

Cosby and Hernandez. I never bought into the theory that the ex-Patriot tight end committed suicide. He had just won acquittal for one charge and was going to appeal the conviction that put him in jail. Why would he be suicidal?

MA law says a conviction that is being appealed must be vacated. Sleazebag prosecutors want to change that law. They must be related to the DA prosecuting Bill Cosby.

DAs who are running for office or have nefarious agendas shouldn’t be allowed to prosecute anyone because they are just trying to win points for being “tough on crime.” Political campaigns interfere with objectivity. So do many careers in general. Of course, most lawyers, prosecutors or defense attorneys, aren’t known for objectivity or a commitment to the truth—they’ve sold their souls to the Devil for their clients.

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And so it goes…

Post-mortem of a speech to Congress…

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

In some dilating time machine or Mr. Trump’s parallel universe, ages have passed since he gave that speech to Congress. In real life, it was only a week ago—can you believe it? Everything he said is meaningless now, so dissecting that rambling rhetoric of a delusional man is anti-climactic. But let’s do it anyway because the president left the Twitter-sphere long enough to sound presidential and hide his narcissistic psychosis.

It’s curious that the media, after the president declared them to be the “enemy of the American people,” fell all over themselves to state that his “state of the union” (read: state of Trump’s parellel universe, that one that circulates among the dark energy and matter of his mind) set a new tone. Il Duce was even called presidential because he sounded presidential. But not for me—he’s not my president! He never will be my president, and isn’t the president of a majority of the American people.

What I heard was empty rhetoric reminiscent of Goebbels’s 1930’s propaganda in Germany—in other words, fascistic spin and appeal to populism playing on the fears of good Americans. His handlers, Bannon, Conway, and Miller, who take turns at the puppet strings—yes, he’s a marionette, even stringing himself along—carefully planned this atrocious display. If it was some crazy attempt to reach across the aisle, Dems won’t buy the snake oil from this charlatan, and didn’t—the thumbs-down from the Dem women in white were refreshing and evidence for their general mood—Trump the misogynist is women’s rights worst enemy. Narcissus the Wonderful shows no concern about women’s issues—we know he sees them only as objects—and on abortion, he’s as much a right-wing bigot as they come.

Let’s consider a few points. On trade, Trump might have sounded a wee bit like Sanders. There’s a huuuuge difference, though. Both men were born in Brooklyn, but the two are light years apart—Trump might actually live in one of those other multiverses where his marionette strings are tangled with those of general string theory. In particular, where Bernie was an earnest and honest champion for the working class, Il Duce doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about their plight—it’s all just show. He follows the time-tested fascist strategy of pretending to do so, of course—that’s how Franco, Hitler, and Mussolini came to power in the 1930s! U.S. workers should be wary about buying anything from this snake-oil salesman. Pay attention to his false promises at your own risk!

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Apocalypse redux…

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Redux = brought back, revived. We’re talking about the apocalypse again. Apocalypse is the event. While a dystopian society can cause it or be its aftermath, post-apocalyptic is reserved for the aftermath. There is a resurgence in these themes now. Everyone knows the reason: what’s happening in the U.S. right now as well as across the world has frightening parallels with 1930’s Germany, Italy, and Spain as well as with the darkest days of the Cold War. There’s nothing religious about this apocalypse.

Most dystopian, apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic tales in the past were associated with the two world wars or the Communist threat. Brave New World was dystopian; Ape and Essence was post-apocalyptic. Even The Time Machine was post-apocalyptic. 1984 and Animal Farm were dystopian. Later sci-fi novels like Not This August were post-apocalyptic. Many classics can be found in these subgenres. Many soon-to-be classics like Wool are too. They all are warnings about what could happen. It’s common that interest in books and movies in these subgenres reflect troubled times in the world.

The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed the world. As that hand on the Doomsday Clock inches toward midnight, these sci-fi subgenres become more popular. Some readers ignore them, burying their heads in the sand by reading schmaltzy romances and fluffy adventures that avoid most serious themes of any type. Which group is right? Beats me. I just tell stories. If one of them comes out apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic, so be it. Almost all my stories have serious themes, though, but not all of them are in the aforementioned subgenres.

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Irish Stew #59…

Monday, January 9th, 2017

International

Classic Putin? His refusal to expel U.S. diplomats in response to Obama’s retaliation for Russian hacking and inviting the diplomats’ kids to a Christmas party made me wonder if a bare-chested Putin would ride in to the party on a reindeer sporting the rest of Santa’s costume. Even without the latter, Putin’s response makes Putin look like a PR genius (can I hire his PR people for my books?) and Obama look like a chump. McCain rightly states that Putin is a murdering thug, though, and certainly not on Santa’s “nice list,” so maybe Trump’s chump for SecState won’t be approved by the Senate. Trump is swimming in dangerous waters! No one likes Putin except Trump and the narcissistic despot himself.

I’ve been very careful to separate the sleazy practices at the DNC exposed by the Russian hackers from the criminal actions of the hackers and the man who commands them, Vladimir Putin. Obama is right to say that we should be on the same page about Putin’s nefarious attempts to undermine the American election, now established by U.S. intelligence leaders—Putin is the enemy here. But I’m not alone in wondering if Obama and other Dems would give a rat’s ass about this if it had been the RNC that was hacked, or if HRC had won. Those who would say HRC lost because of the hack in spite of the findings from the intelligence community, and the continue to blame the FBI director, should just move on. Trump won, figure out why, and never let it happen again. Moreover, let’s work our butts off to keep this psycho Il Duce from destroying the world!

The art of the deal? To many one-percenters, war is a business. Either Trump wants to pander to these ghouls, or he wants a piece of the action. The U.S. sells more arms to the rest of the world than any other country and, of course, the Pentagon still wants their new and improved toys too. People get rich off war. Il Duce Trump, not content with the endowment Nature gave him, wants to extend it by forging new swords to brandish internationally. “Let’s have another arms race,” he says, “because we’ll have bigger and better bombs.” (OK, I couldn’t find the direct quote, but that’s the idea!). We have a recipe for disaster on an international scale. At the very least, I can see international conflagrations occurring as more bodies, Americans and others, are poured into the maws of Mars. Insane!

National

What’s with deifying Elizabeth Warren? This faux-progressive is becoming Mother Teresa and Joan of Arc for all HRC’s liberal faux-progressives licking their wounds after the presidential election. I can imagine “liberal Catholics” (now there’s an oxymoron!) proposing her for sainthood. Just remember, ye true progressives across the land, she campaigned for HRC in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the primaries instead of Bernie Sanders. Remember that guy, the one who could have beaten Il Duce Trump? Warren and the rest of HRC’s sleaze-team got what they deserved. And Warren is part of that crowd! She just announced she will run in 2018. I’m hoping there’s a true Massachusetts progressive candidate who will run against this faux-progressive in the primary.

Healthcare. Mitch McConnell says the first item on the agenda for the new Congress is to end the Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare. McConnell, Ryan, and others in the GOP are already talking about slashing Medicare and Social Security, and Medicaid is on the way out. Do the American people really want to turn back the clock to when health insurance meant insurance that you would die young? When insurance companies dropped you as soon as you contracted something serious? When millions of people’s insurance reduced to emergency visits to ERs?

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Irish Stew #58…

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

[Double billing today…don’t get used to it, but 2017 is starting out with a lot of news to comment on. Don’t be shy. Your comments are always welcome, even rants. Just keep them clean!]

International

Russia and Syria declare ceasefire. How nice of them! Who’s speaking for the rebels? We have an international refugee crisis in the area; Aleppo, Palmyra, and other cities are completely destroyed and their populations dead; and Assad and Putin are patting each other on the back and chortling about how many rebels they’ve killed. Maybe ISIS will regroup and refocus and go after Assad—he deserves it!

Team Assad/Putin are closing in on Stalin’s record for murders, and Papa Joe had a lot more years under his belt. If there’s a Devil, he has some good assistants who work despotic hand in skeletal hand with the Grim Reaper. So little time…so many people to kill!

Say goodbye to the two-state solution. Netanyahu doesn’t want it, Trump doesn’t want it, and the Arabs don’t want it because it works against their campaign to destroy Israel. The main problem in the Middle East? Everyone wants a scapegoat. Secondary problem? Saudi Arabia! Even with low oil prices, the Saudi royalty are still living the rich life. When their people reach the level of the long-suffering Palestinians, maybe something will change. By then Netanyahu might be begging for his life!

National

Media and public senility. Loss of short term memory, they say, is one indication of senility. Whether senility or just plain stupidity, the American media and public have become so focused on the Russian hackers that the big issue has been forgotten. Did Russian hackers help Donald Trump or hurt HRC? There’s a difference, folks, and not recognizing it is part of that senility or stupidity too!

Not to minimize cyberwarfare crimes perpetrated by pimp Putin’s hacker-whores, let’s deal with reality: there were sleazy crimes committed by HRC and her followers once Mr. Sanders entered the primaries, and they continued all the way through them, the convention, and the 2016 election. Here’s a Bishop Berkeley-like question: if illegalities are committed by a candidate, campaign, and political party, does it matter who exposed them?

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Abdullah bin al-Hussein…

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

He’s King of Jordan and not a terrorist.  (I almost chose that name for a terrorist in one of my books.  What a mistake that would have been!)  I’m not into monarchs and dynasties, not even political ones, but he and his country represent the one shining star of sanity in a very troubled region.  Sixty Minutes, that venerable CBS news program, started its new season with him, and justifiably so.  In the interview he spoke candidly.  I came to admire this man whom I now consider a hero for not only his country but all the sane Muslims of the world (they’re in the majority) who want nothing to do with the torturers and murderers who call themselves jihadists.  It’s a wonder he’s still alive.  The region has a bad rep for killing anyone who speaks out sanely against terrorism and those who practice it.

I feel he’s a brother who understands the same things I do about how the West’s counterterrorism policies are ill-conceived at best and downright stupid most of the time—we’re riding a train into a dark tunnel with destruction waiting at the other end.  Radical Islam is NOT a geopolitical problem involving a few countries here and there.  We can’t chip at it here and there and hope to ever win.  As an example, the King pointed out that ISIS was (and is) losing ground in Syria and Iraq, so they moved into Libya and began exporting terrorists to Europe.  Everywhere a local economy in the Muslim world is failing (including Jordan’s because it’s receiving and/or taking care of thousands of refugees while besieged on all sides), angry, desperate young men take up arms against their scapegoat, the West, stirred up by psychotic leaders who don’t give a rat’s ass about those young men’s lives or anyone else’s.  ISIS and al Qaeda know these men are open to indoctrination and training and go about doing it.  At the same time, they do their best to create the economic conditions where hatred and intolerance can flourish.

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International headlines…

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

[When I can’t wait to comment…]

Empty threats from the Saudis. Obama and the Saudis aren’t happy with the congressional override of the President’s veto.  The U.S. Congress did their job for once; Obama put another nail in the coffin of his legacy.  And, of course, the duplicitous Saudis are making threats.  Let’s do a search-and-destroy mission of two major ones:

(1) The Saudis threaten to sell off all their U.S. holdings.  Ho-hum.  It doesn’t take a Nobel Prize winner in economics to understand that such an action would hurt them more than us.  First, in the short term, let’s be generous and say they get 70 cents on the dollar.  That’s still a huge loss!  Second, in the long term, why do they have these assets?  They’re hedging a downturn in the oil market!  That’s already occurring.  The U.S. doesn’t need Saudi oil.  We’re even exporting to Venezuela!  The Saudis’s U.S. investments and elsewhere represent a life insurance policy for their 6th century kingdom.

(2) The Saudis threaten to taper off on their counterterrorism efforts.  Huh?  That’s laughable.  The duplicitous Saudis foment terrorism and spawn terrorists.  Their religious schools, where they teach the murderous form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, are the prime tool for their pro-terrorism efforts.  15 of the 19 9/11 terrorists, and my interpretation of Saudi royals fleeing the U.S. after 9/11, and the many hints in those infamous 28 pages Obama tried to keep out of the news, are enough to tell me the kingdom is guilty of aiding and abetting the murder of almost 3000 people.  The Saudis could contribute to the world’s counterterrorism efforts by getting rid of these schools, for a start.  And we have no business beefing up their military so they can kill Yemenis and whoever else they consider threats to Wahhabism.  We’d be more effective beefing up Jordan because King Abdullah actually is carrying the fight to ISIS while the Saudi royals sit on their fat you-know-whats.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Saudis were supporting them.  But maybe not—they already have their 6th century caliphate!

And what about Obama’s claim that Americans will suffer around the world. (1) Maybe they should, if they create mischief, mayhem, and murder. (Read Stephen Kinzer’s 2007 book Overthrow for background.) (2) The 9/11 is very specific.  No reasonable person can deny that.  The unreasonable ones, here or around the world, can go to hell!  Will they sue us when a Predator does the job the Saudis should be doing and takes out a known tourist.  Let them try!

Putin the Terrible. Tsar Ivan’s going to lose his nickname before long.  Tsar Putin is far more terrible, because he has a mighty police state and military machine behind him.  The SVR kills his regime’s enemies with impunity (watch for those umbrellas, folks!), the FSB makes the KGB and Stasi look like amateurs, and the Russia’s military-industrial complex feeds off unrest narcissist Voldya creates in the rest of the world.  Were you surprised when the Danes announced on Wednesday that Putin was responsible for the murder of 298 innocent souls on that Malaysian plane that dared to fly over Ukraine?  The case is iron-clad: the Russian-sponsored separatists asked for and got the deadly SA-11 antiaircraft system.  It was ferried in overnight and left the next day, and ever since Putin and Russia Inc. have been denying their complicity.  This, folks, is Putin the Terrible’s Lockerbie, and we can only hope that his fate will be the same as Qaddafi’s.

And so it goes…

Obama has a few days left to pass test #1…

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Obama will add a new nail in the coffin of his legacy if he fails the following test: He only has to wait until September 23 to pass up vetoing the bill that would allow 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia. For once, Congress threw partisan bickering aside and passed this bill in the Senate and the House by a margin wide enough to override his veto…if they stick by their guns. Of course, it might just be a ploy by GOP members to make Obama look bad, so Congress will have their own test to pass if Obama keeps his promise to veto the bill—Congress should override in that case.

Obama’s legacy isn’t something candidate Clinton wants to hitch her wagon to by any means. His efforts to give affordable healthcare to more Americans were doomed from day one due to his Faustian bargain with the insurance companies and Big Pharma. Obamacare’s woes continues as a consequence (hence the Bernie Sanders quote in yesterday’s “Words of Wisdom”). I’d always argued for a single-payer system (not even Medicare is single-payer, by the way, despite Sanders’s pushing it for everyone), so all I can say is, “I told you so!” On the international front, his push for TPP is a slap in the face at all American workers. And he was in charge of cleaning up Bush’s mess in Iraq and blew it, not Clinton, because he left a vacuum there for ISIS to fill.  So, maybe his legacy is intact after all, one similar to Pete Rose’s—no Hall of Fame for Obama either: Lâche, infame, je te blame!

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Deserving damnation…

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

The use of children as suicide bombers is on the rise. Children are sold by human traffickers, or even their parents, to satisfy the appetites of sexual predators and porn movie makers. Girls are blown to kingdom come because they dare to go to school. They are also murdered because their parents want only sons. The persons who perform these and other atrocities against children deserve to be damned by society and every religion on the planet worth its salt. Most of all, governments should not condone these practices; they should lock away such people for a long, long time. Or, practice some good Old Testament-style revenge!

Many prehistoric tribes and cultures sacrificed children to their gods. We tend to excuse that hideous practice as ignorance, but today the atrocities enumerated aren’t ignorance—they’re unconscionable and monstrous perversions. Is an ISIS father who sends his two sons off to be suicide bombers simply ignorant? This happened recently. No, that father is evil incarnate. Whether you’re religious or not, that’s what it is, and that father deserves to be damned for eternity. There should be some street justice applied too.

Human trafficking for the exploitation of innocent children is a theme in The Collector. The reality, of course, is much worse than what’s depicted in my novel. Again, the traffickers, their clients, and their buyers in turn who sexually abuse these kids deserve damnation, no question about it. Greed has many ugly faces, but this is one of the ugliest.

For some strange reason, even conservative Muslims who aren’t terrorists think girls should not be in school. I say strange because cultures who practice this discrimination are doomed—they can never compete with the West if their women aren’t allowed to contribute. These same cultures treat women as property, of course, so they have no rights. The ones that kill female children because they only want male offspring are even more stupid—the limiting case of that suicidal nonsense is a culture without children, a dying culture.

The exploitation, torturing, maiming, and murder of children must stop. Those who practice it must pay, the ultimate price if necessary, because it is a disease that must be eradicated. Such people don’t deserve to be called human, and they deserve eternal damnation if we can believe that Satan even wants them. They are really lower than pond scum, so the world should have no regrets about sending them across Styx.

We cannot know whether an afterlife exists or not, of course, no matter what our religions say. We only have evidence for manmade heavens and hells here on Earth, not in the afterlife. All we can do in  this mortal existence is prosecute these people. And, by prosecute, I mean by any means possible, without remorse or compassion. Innocent children cannot protect themselves from these monsters, only we can.

But I’m frustrated. I don’t know what to do. I see this going on and curse the people who do it. I can rant about these practices here, but that doesn’t bring them to justice. That latter is an indictment of how ineffective and uncaring our institutions have become. I’m pointing the finger. The cries of suffering and dying children are their judges and juries. Maybe the people in those same institutions deserve damnation too. ‘Nough said.

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And so it goes…