Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I am not a fan of the air-headed it's-all-good mentality on display all over Twitter and Facebook. This mentality is noncommittal and infantile. It is the mentality of the spoiled and detached. It is the mentality of the rich and those who are self-perceived as invulnerable.

Armed robbery is not good, if you are the victim. Spousal abuse is not good. Child abuse is not good. Poverty really sucks. Stupidity can be lethal. That's not good for the dead person.

Much of the world is controlled by people who are not good. These people, mostly wealthy heterosexual men, are selfish and greedy. When this is combined with a propensity to violence, the results are ISIS, regimes which oppress, regimes which behead, regimes which promote disparity between the minority elite and the great mass of impoverished. This isn't good. It furthers violence, war, rape and social deterioration. 

Fighting violently with those who thrive on violence just fuels their justification for their violence. In the current case of ISIS, it drives those prone to violence into the arms of those who practice it. Protracted violence is self-defeating. It leads to a chronic cycle of violence. 

My experience as a health-care professional with violent mental patients in residential programs colors my opinions. My role included taking some punches. For instance, a young man once smashed me in the face with his fist out of nowhere while we were having a banal conversation while walking down a corridor. Another man once kicked my shins with steel-tipped boots when I asked him to stop smoking in a restricted area. I have been bitten, scratched and beaten with chairs. 

My role dictated that I not retaliate. My job was to distance myself, take a breath, call for help and subdue the violence, if it continued. The violent person was isolated and sometimes restrained until his/her impulsive violence subsided. When he/she could make verbal assurances of self-control, he/she was integrated back into the community. This process could take hours or days.

The current dithering our governments are doing concerning ISIS is the worst possible way to deal with extremism (mental illness). This leads me to conjecture that there are vested interests in the fighting at the power level, basically controlled by wealthy capitalists. Arms manufacturers are profiting greatly. Governments with apathetic or hostile constituencies have the perfect external enemy to promote fear in order to control people. The  Orwellian "1984" approach. 

If The West stopped fighting ISIS altogether and instituted criminal sanctions on suppliers of arms to the Middle East, it would effectively remove the fuel which gives ISIS growing strength. ISIS gains power by ending internal conflict in their zones. It makes a great amount of money by smuggling migrants to Europe. This is a win-win for them. They get rid of dissenters and make money doing it. If The West pacified much of the region by ending its own violence, ISIS would lose a major recruiting tool and income source.

If The West simply stopped ISIS in league with Russia with a wholehearted military incursion, those who are now involved with ISIS would be scattered or killed gruesomely. This could act as a deterrent to future would-be terrorist groups. It would rob ISIS of any power. The conquerors could do the type of post-war development which worked well after WWII, as opposed to the half-assed approach, riddled with corruption, taken in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent wars. Clearing out ISIS could be combined with washing out the other corrupt totalitarian regimes throughout the region. 

The current state of frozen indecision concerning ISIS seems based in Western economics and economic relations with economically powerful states in the region: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran. Perhaps the best decision U.S., Russia and E.U. could make from a practical political view would be to turn away from the region altogether and leave it in the hands of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and Iran, while devoting its  forces strategically to shield Israel and their own borders from the conflict. The current state of disorganized dithering is just prolonging fear and insecurity worldwide. It is distracting the rest of us from dealing with big issues of social and economic equality.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


At a time when Europe and the U.S. are reeling from terrorism at the hands of fundamentalist Muslims, President Obama sought photo-ops in Malaysia, a Muslim country. He visited a camp of Muslim refugees from Myanmar. The Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar claim discrimination from the Buddhist majority. 

Painting the Buddhists of Myanmar as religious bigots without knowledge of the effects of Muslim incursions into Southeast Asia is not an informed reaction. The ancient conquests by Muslims in India were repressive, vicious and bloody. The invading Muslims destroyed an established Buddhist culture which had evolved over centuries. They burned Buddhist monasteries, slaughtered Buddhist monks and destroyed Buddhist texts and artifacts. Indian Buddhism spread to the rest of Southeast Asia for centuries before the Muslim invasions. 

The Muslim invaders cut off a cultural link between India and its neighbors to the East. Buddhism was a civilizing force throughout Southeast Asia for centuries. It was a common thread of thought and practice, based in meditation and individual responsibility. While Buddhism did not bring generalized peace or justice to the region, it did provide a common language of diplomacy and cultural exchange. This was disrupted by Muslim invasions. The net result in modern times was seen in the violence associated by India-Pakistan partition in 1947. This is summarized in this quote from Wikipedia:

According to historian Will Durant, "The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history". By the estimate of Koenraad Elst the population of Indian subcontinent reduced by almost 80 million between 1000 and 1525.[108] In course of their conquests and rule in India, the number of Muslims in India increased through Immigration and Conversion. The Ancient Indian Kingdoms in Afghanistan and Pakistan became Muslim majority areas, as did the Eastern Part of Bengal. This would ultimately lead to the Partition of India in 1947 after the end of British rule.

My internal question is, "Why would an American President choose to push the Muslim agenda, fostered most vehemently by Saudi Arabia and Iran, in the face of religious violence against peaceful civilians in The West?" There is no widespread oppression of Muslims in North America and Europe. Civil disdain by non-Muslims for the religious trappings which symbolize the current insanity in Syria and Iraq is not hard to understand. 

That nonviolent disdain is not "persecution" or "phobia". And someone can have disdain for a belief system while also tolerating it. Our President has simply displayed, once again, his handlers' determination to suppress dissent and open discourse about ideas. And, among his corporate handlers, OPEC's Muslims are a very powerful force. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Finally, some state legislation which makes sense medically and psychologically. Surprisingly, this comes from the state of Tennessee, a Southern state of God and guns. The enactment of legislation aimed to curb pregnancies in drug addicted women is meeting with public support on both Liberal and Conservative poles of the political spectrum in the state. Why?

The legislation is wisely framed as defense of the unborn from bodily harm by its mother. The rate of fetal addiction in Tennessee has recently skyrocketed, as it has all around the U.S.. Babies born with addiction are often born with malnutrition and other challenges to their development. They have been harmed in utero by their mother. Now, in Tennessee, this will be a crime. Unfortunately, alcohol and cigarettes have not been included in the legislation as addictive substances. Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the most damaging impairments to a newborn. 

Some obstetricians are voicing fears that this legislation will impede the accessing of prenatal care by addicted women. They are in a minority. This makes sense, since an addicted pregnant woman is more likely out looking for her next fix, not shopping for the best ob-gyn. 

My hope is that this legislation leads to a pairing of birth-control services with addiction treatment services. Preventing pregnancy in the addicted population is a more humane path to reducing fetal addiction than trying to detox a pregnant woman after arresting her. However, Tennessee, being in the Bible Belt, may not be prone to make this more rational approach to reducing fetal addiction. Time will tell. 

In any case, as a person who sees each human being as born with the right to individual respect and the full support of parents to provide nutrition, shelter, education and security to adulthood, I see this legislation in Tennessee as a big step in the right direction. Babies are not accidents, pets or slaves. They are human beings, worthy of the full protection of society from full their fetal development in utero to subsequent birth and beyond.

Monday, November 16, 2015


Polish Foreign Minister-designate, Witold Waszczykowski

The Polish government has been resisting quotas of migrants from Syria. This is understandable from many historical perspectives. Poland has an ancient history of resistance to invasion by neighbors and from farther afield. Poland has been a buffer between religious rivalries for centuries. Its hardened Roman Catholicism is a symptom of this reactionary past, developed from frequent threats to its population's survival. Poles are not ignorant of what it means to be refugees. 

My maternal grandfather was born in Vilnius, Lithuania to ethnic Poles. My mother's primary education came from Polish nuns. I know a little about the Polish cultural mentality. While it can be xenophobic, it is also highly pragmatic. Poles excel in construction, engineering and science. The Polish diaspora in the U.S. and Europe peoples skilled trades. 

I recently suggested here that Syrian migrants, young people who are fleeing their homeland's plague of thuggery and violence, should be enlisted, restored to health and trained immediately with the highest level of military technology. Then they should be returned to Syria to win back their homeland as an organized peace-establishing force with the full support of those nations which really wish to help, rather than manipulate, Syria's future.

Apparently, the Polish Foreign Minister agrees. This makes sense. Migrants in interviews always proclaim their willingness to work for a better life. What better work than returning to claim their own homeland with the full support of the E.U. and NATO? 

Sunday, November 15, 2015


I am listening to a broadcast on BBC from Paris. The broadcast is from a private apartment where young people have gathered as a result of the terrorist attack on Friday evening. One of the people was present at the concert venue which was attacked. 

The most salient feature of the discussion is the lack of understanding of the roots of terrorism. Most of the people are relatively wealthy and in their 20's-30's. They are the children of the upper middle class. They proudly state that the attacks in Paris will not stop them from partying and living a hedonistic life in the world's capital of hedonism. They say they are all about "love".

I am old enough to have been alive during The Summer of Love in 1967. I was 17 and a sophomore in college. And, yes, for the wealthier members of that movement, the "love" of the times entailed taking drugs, having lots of sex and attending mass entertainment gatherings. The poorer members of our generation, of which I was one, were struggling to get through school to be able to get a job. That is, those of us who were fortunate enough to not be drafted and blown up in Vietnam. 

The anti-war movement which grew out of the hippy-dippy "love" movement of the privileged was peopled by working class young people as well as those from the upper classes. The ant-war movement, which helped to smash the vestiges of Western colonialism, was not gushy and vapid. It was not a movement geared to justifying hedonism. It was a movement inspired by military body bags and flag-draped coffins on TV.  It was a movement fueled by the remaining outrage against the overt racism of the the 1950's and 1960's in the American South. It was a movement inspired by the angry protests of Parisian students in 1968. It was a movement inspired by Black marchers. It was a movement inspired by bra-burning feminists. It was a movement inspired by gay/lesbian marchers. 

So, here we are again. The young and spoiled gush about "love" in the face of the hatred of those whom their very lifestyles oppress. Rather than taking in the depth of that hatred, based in social and economic oppression and inequality in the Middle East and Africa, those Parisian young people on BBC say they are determined to continue to "party, drink and make babies". 

The military involvement of France in Syria against ISIS is thought to have inspired these attacks in Paris. Rather than seeing that ISIS is an repressive movement which is a reaction to the oppression supported by the EU in its centuries of colonialism and capitalist exploitation of the region through support of oppressive regimes, these young people choose to interpret this as an attack on their fun. Really? 

Saturday, November 14, 2015


The barbarity of yesterday evening's attacks in Paris is less stunning than the ineffectiveness of the European authorities in preventing these attacks. Europe and North America spend trillions of dollars every year to maintain bloated security establishments: Military, espionage and police. Weapons production and sales to these corrupt bureaucracies constitute the lion's share of that taxpayer money. Where is the evidence of its worth today?

The military establishments of North America and Europe (NATO) have been ineffectual in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Their lack of effective action has led to a migrant crisis/invasion which will corrode whatever domestic security exists in Europe. By choosing to view Syria as a chess piece in a global game between Sunni and Shiite, Russia and The West, Saudi Arabia and Iran, our security establishments have failed our civilian populations. 

The cynicism of politicians is evident whenever we are told that many secret plots were foiled, and that is why we feel safe. This is political cover for corruption and the exemption of the middle and upper classes from military service. A military draft would quickly stir the public in The West out of their apathy and chosen ignorance of the threat of religious fundamentalism to all of us.