Wednesday, December 31, 2014

                                                               Starting over all over again

It's been 2,014 times since we officially started counting the number of times we've circled around our home Star. On another planet circling another star we could easily be twice as old or twice as young. We're a truly gifted species capable of leaving our home planet as none others have so far on this earth. We and our brother and sister species literally rose from the dust. We acquired means of locomotion, reproduced, made tools, organized, grew crops, smelted metal, built vast cities, discovered and tamed fire, electricity, and gravity.  We learned to communicate verbally and created alphabets for writing on paper, and electronically. We sang and made musical instruments, wrote poetry and works of literature. Movies, cars, trains, airplanes, rockets. We circled the earth in satellites and even landed on our Moon. What we've accomplished  is beyond the scope of anything that could be imagined in the wildest Science Fiction fantasy. Now all we have to do is learn how to get along with each other and make sure that everyone has food and shelter. We pray to mysterious Gods to understand our purpose and guide us- then kill each other in the name of those same Gods. We allow dictators to repress people. We allow the wealthy hoard the money supply  and we allow the weak to fall by the wayside.  Clearly our scientific achievements far out weigh our social achievements.
We can do better and we will do better. Let's make that our resolution as the new year approaches with the rising Sun.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

                                                                  Peace of Earth

Wouldn't it be nice if all of the leaders of world's religions developed a sudden case of  temporary insanity and came together to call for an end to all of the senseless religious warfare, hatred, and killings? Almost every war that we humans have fought since our species began to occupy this planet had some basis in religion.  It began with sacrifices to Gods to insure crops and guarantee the rising of the Sun. Seeing how easily we could be led to violence, generals and politicians began leading us to endeavors of conquest and mischief on bloody battle fields. Most generals and dictators, no matter how ruthless, soon learned the secret of seeking the blessing and sanction of their God before going to battle. Advances in weapon technology over the centuries  only made our wars more destructive and deadly. In modern times we've seen the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the burning of "witches" at the stake. Christians, Jews, and Muslims have been killing each other for centuries. Arguments about virginity, prophets, vengeance, chastity, head covers, circumcision, sin, the after life, heaven and hell, the devil, the word of God, The Holy Trinity, and idolatry, never end- nor will they ever end until we find less deadly ways to satisfy our instinctive need to seek and please a mysterious Maker. That instinct appears to be unique to our species and what a deadly instinct it has turned out to be when misused. If the worlds religious leaders aren't willing to lead us to peace our only solution is to refuse to partake in the insanity any longer. We need not wait for our leaders to put an end to the religious violence.  We have it within our power to end the violence today.  So let's make that our pledge as the new year rolls in. No more arguments, beheadings, or wars about religion. Pray if you must but pray for peace and acceptance not intolerance. Peace on Earth and Good Will to All!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


We're supposed to be the good guys- the ones in the white hats, the people who condemn forced confessions, beatings, and mistreatment of prisoners. We're the Country which has a Constitution giving everyone the right to a fair trial. We're the Country whose criminal justice system is based on Habeas Corpus- - preventing the government from holding prisoners indefinitely without  bringing charges.

Now we hear reports of systematic barbaric beatings and torture of prisoners being held in Cuba and other locations. Force pumping liquids into prisoners rectums is an act of sadistic perversion done by cowards.  The point is not whether this gross mistreatment of prisoners provided critical information (which it clearly did not). The point is that we're supposed to be a Country which provides international moral leadership around the globe. We're a Country that condemns war crimes and mistreatment of prisoners.

The actions of the CIA are little different from some of the brutal actions by the Nazis in their concentration camps during second world war. It's clear to any observer that our actions violate all international treaties with regard to the proper handling of prisoners of war. Our actions are war crimes by any definition and as such should be prosecuted in an International Court to the full extent of the law.

Dick Cheney convinced a rookie President Bush to invade Iraq and we've been paying the penalty in lost and ruined lives ever since. Our actions upset the delicate balance of  politics in the Middle East. We invaded Iraq on false pretenses with no plan to deal with managing the complexity of  political, religious, and social chaos that followed. Dick Cheney's company (Haliburton) made a fortune in Iraq working as a subcontractor for the Army and now he has the balls to claim that torturing prisoners and denying them the right to Habeas Corpus is justified? Cheney was a coward during Vietnam and managed to avoid getting drafted but he didn't  hesitate for even a second before sending our young soldiers into Iraq to have their arms and legs blown off.  If anyone should be convicted of war crimes Dick Cheney ought to be at the top of the list. He should be tossed in prison in Cuba with the other prisoners and left to rot. Congress needs to identify and bring the CIA employees who \tortured  prisoners to trial as quickly as possible before they can hide behind any applicable statue of limitations. I"m not certain that war crimes are covered by that type of statue. After all we continue to prosecute Nazis.

If we want to continue to be the good guys in the white hats we need to step up to the plate and confess our sins and take full responsibility for our actions.

Friday, December 5, 2014

                                                         Death by Cops

It's recently been suggested that many Cops are afraid of African American males and that a scared cop is a deadly cop. If true, this is a different slant on racial prejudice than we normally associate with prejudice and it may help explain why so many African American males are being shot by policemen. Fear could even explain why a cop recently shot a 12 year old boy who brandished a toy pistol within a few seconds of the  cop getting out of his squad car. Whatever the cause, the use of excessive force by cops needs to be brought to an end as quickly as possible. Too many black males are being killed unnecessarily. It's one thing to shoot an individual who is making an unprovoked attack with a deadly weapon. It's quite another to shoot someone who is unarmed and merely fleeing. Shooting someone who steals a few cigarettes, or shop lifts a beverage from a convenience store is an excessive use of deadly force and not warranted. Some police departments are reported to be instructing their patrolmen to never back down. That's the wrong message. Backing down and trying to reduce the tension should be the first priority. Killing should only be the choice of last resort when all else fails and a life in truly in danger.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

                               Compromise is a Universal Law of the Universe - Not a dirty word!

Anyone who was paying attention in their High School science classes probably remembers one of Newton's Laws which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.The same can be said for legislation. Every law designed to produce a positive benefit also produces a corresponding negative side effect. For example, if we spend tax money to help the needy there will be able bodied "dead beats" who take advantage of that program by applying for assistance- instead of getting a job and taking responsibility for their own welfare. Does that mean we simply ignore the needs of those who require assistance, or do we accept the fact that a certain lazy percentage of the population will 'scam' the system for their own benefit?

That's basically what compromise is all about and it's why our politicians on the Left and Right can seldom agree on anything. Neither side is willing to recognize and accept the side effects of enacting legislation which is designed to benefit of a particular group of citizens (or non-citizens as the case may be) while having a negative effect on another group of citizens. 

For example, a law requiring coal burning power plants to reduce their emissions helps the environment and cleans up the air that we breath while placing a financial burden on the owners of the power plant. That same law may reduce the number of coal burning power plants and cause unemployment. Yet at the same time it will reduce the number of workers who may die of lung cancer and it may help people who lose their jobs mining coal find new jobs fabricating solar panels.

Compromise isn't about giving up one's principals and it's not about winning or losing. It's about recognition of one of the basic laws of the Universe. If we going to make progress we have to accept the fact that there is a side effect to every social, moral, financial, and legal recourse that we legislate. The result is not "stalemate" but rather getting the maximum benefit with the minimum side effect.

When an Architect designs a skyscraper, or an Engineer designs an airplane, he or she searches for the most affordable materials with the greatest strength and flexibility and the least weight. Every step of the design is a compromise- an attempt to get the greatest benefit with the least side effect - whether that side effect is cost, durability, safety, availability or adaptability. The ability to learn to use compromise in a constructive manner is what's allowed our species to achieve so much. We must instruct our politicians to take a less rigid approach to problem solving. Recognizing that there are no perfect solutions entirely free of side effects- but there also will be no progress if they continue to cling to their "win at all costs" approach to legislating.

Monday, December 1, 2014

                                                          Driving while (fill in the blank)

For all of the hard fought energy and lost lives our Country has endured in order to rid ourselves of the demons of racism and the ugly shame of our national history of slavery, we've still got a long way to go before we can claim to be a  truly color blind Nation. It matters not whether people of "color" occupy the office of the President, move into white neighborhoods, inter marry, or become leaders in all fields of endeavor. No matter how hard we try to claim that racism no longer exists in America we can't hide the ugly truth. It still lives in unspoken attitudes, it lives in pockets of unemployment, it lives in substandard schools, it lives in neighborhoods, it lives in our speech patterns, in the way we walk, in our music, in the way we talk and the way we don't talk. It lives in what we do not say. It lives in our every denial.

 The conversation is not over. It's barely begun. The conversation won't be over until we share our tables and hearts with everyone of color- not just athletes and entertainers. It won't be over until every Ghetto is rebuilt, and every school is color blind, and every goverment agency and every police department and every University, and every school teacher, and every political body, and every Army and Air Force, and every Native American is completely integrated into the fabric of our society. We've got some work to do people. The first step is to look in the mirror of our society and purge every racial thought and prejudice from our very souls. It's a person by person process. It's a process of  opening our hearts to the unique individual beauty of each our fellow human beings. A person's value is not determined by the color of their skin, or their language, or their accent, or their manner of speaking. It's determined by what is in their hearts.