We are in danger in America. We need to give people some basic orientation and instruction about historical accuracy and objective journalism. This would require a huge infusion of cash and nationwide honesty. A national program of this scope would require immense amounts of capital. [Attention: Bill Gates and Warren Buffet]. If this does not happen, our democracy is in serious jeopardy.
If we do not get some sort of objective orientation of this sort, more and more Americans will draw their conclusions of great importance based on the extreme distortions of the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Murdoch, FOX, the Washington Times, etc. The stories told by the extreme right-wingers are being taken as accurate information and historical fact. In a democracy this is very dangerous. Adherence to human rights and justice are dependent on the populous having reliable information. In today's mass media, distortions and lies are receiving a bigger piece of the media pie because the owners of the media have their own selfish agenda (and it is not to have the populace be informed accurately about drugs, health care, the military, the budgets, etc.). And dispensing national distortions is open to this sort of marketing as never before. Shades of Goebbels and the Nazis.
We like to teach American history as though we have been a nation that prides itself on emancipation. We like to preceive ourselves as liberators and freedom providers. Let's pause and reflect on how the United States of America has been so reluctant in granting "others" emancipation and freedom.
From the time European explorers and settlers arrived in what would become the United States, our treatment of Native Americans [many prefer the term American Indians] has been atrocious. Mistreatment of American Indians continues to this day, but we simply destroyed these cultures, killed off huge parts of their population, subjected them to disease, and imprisoned them on inhospitalbe reservations. There has been almost no attempt to understand them or work with them to show respect for their cultures, habits, religions, way of living, etc. It is a horrible chapter in our history.
As we in America, western Europe, and most places outside of Germany make a big celebration about the dismantling of the infamous Berlin Wall in 1989, I reflect on my personal experiences in Berlin...
I visited West Berlin several times in the early 1960s. I had lunch in the newspaper chain Springer building right on the wall. Several stories above the ground I could see the East Germans with their sub-machine guns peering out from their guard huts and German Shepherd dogs roaming up and down "no-man's land" between East Berlin and the Wall. I spoke at a university in West Berlin. I had lunch at a stop on the commuter train, in a station-hut called Oncle Tom's Cabin. I met with Gunter Grass, Germany's most famous author of the 20th century. I taped an interview with Klaus-Schutz, the mayor of West Berlin. And I simply roamed the city. I was the guest at the Deutsche Oper to see "Der Rosenkavalier." However I had a dangerous and threatening meeting also...
Sitting alone in a rehab center is a military veteran. It is not pertinent to know his/her political perspective. Age, gender, color, ethnicity, religion have little bearing on how or why he/she needs you.
What kind of education or skill is required of you? A warm hand and humane voice will do.
With the decision on the strategy and objectives in Afghanistan to be presented by the Obama administration soon, there can be one thing for certain: he will be criticized no matter what decision he makes. He inherited a mess in Afghanistan. To complicate matters, he is receiving mixed signals from leaders who have some experience and understanding of the great importance of his decisions.
General Stanley McChrystal, in charge of the coalition forces in Afghanistan, says: we need 40,000 additional troops or we will lose.
Being a loyal American, I believe it is important for our democracy to have important issues receive a balanced consideration. The U.S. media thrives on war photos and coverage. It is presented as though there is no alternative to the "necessary" war we may be currently waging. There is rarely a peace alternative offered. Any hint of a peace alternative is greeted by cries of "traitor" by lots of non-combatants. Picture, if you will, Rush Limbaugh marching, rifle over his shoulder, in an army uniform. Please note in the quotes below those especially of U.S. Army generals.
"War, like any other racket, pays high dividends to the very few ... The cost of operations is always transferred to the peoople who do not profit." -General Smedley Butler [Medal of Honor, TWICE!]
From the time we are born, we are rarely given an opportunity to search for who we are. Through no fault of our parents and adult friends, we are herded into certain ways of thinking and acting. In nations, cultures, and families where there is a deep religious adherence, this formulaic upbringing is most intense. There are strict pathways to be led down. There are rules and regulations that are taught as universal truths, even though they may not be. We are not encouraged to ask who we are as individuals, as unique creations. We are programmed and never stop to ask ourselves who we are, who is this who now senses this moment, sees that tree, hears that bird, feels that breeze...each of it in the way that only we, as a unique entity, can experience it. Stop! Take a look and feel at who we are...who you are.
"Each second we live in a new and unique moment of the Universe, a moment that never was before and will never be again. And what do we teach our children in school? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are?
No matter how great sausage may taste, you don't want to watch it being made. Some nasty looking "parts" are ground up in the making. Imagine how horrible sausage would be if we were forced to watch it being made in front of us and its taste outcome was impossible to digest. Voila!, health care reform.
Our elected members of Congress each consider themselves expert health care reform sausage makers, with expertise in using too much pork. And some of the Congressional sausage makers have more sinister motives. These law-makers have as their primary focus to prevent any sausage from being made, good or bad.
...capitalists stole the farm. It was recently reported that the corporations receiving the most national bailout money paid billions of dollars in bonuses just before the bottom fell out. And some of these capitalists dumped their stock immediately before it crashed because they knew it would happen before the general public did.
Since Ronald Reagan became president there has been a concerted effort by capitalists and their lackies in Congress to de-regulate business and corporations. What happened is that the U.S. financial corporations sold a national Ponzi scheme to Americans. And we went on a drunken-sailor spending spree without saving much. It was made to appear that things would only go up, up, up. It was nirvana.
It appears President Obama will release his basic, long-term plan for Afghanistan in a couple days. It will probably include the addition of 30,000 to 35,000 military personnel. It will likely call for President Karzai to make quick and abundant moves to clean up his government. And it will make some sort of pledges to do more to rebuild the nation, provide more direct help for individuals, and stay the course.
Will this work? Probably not. We are still focused on highlighting our military might. We entered Afghanistan primarily with a military objective. Big mistake. And it was compounded by sending inadequate resources and military personnel to carry out the wrong objectives. Further compounding the problem was the failure to capture or kill Osama bin Laden when we had him trapped at Torah Borah. As was his penchant and that of his administrative staffs, President Bush had us strutting around Iraq and Afghanistan like a godsend military power. This alienated the majority of people. President Obama was left with a mess, a real mess.