November 8

The Human Rorshach Test

This is not an original idea, as I have heard Thom Hartmann refer to Barack Obama as a human Rorschach test, but as a Social Psychologist who has been following the saga of Barack Obama, I would like to explicate on this idea.

I have never heard any person be described so variously and differently than Barack Obama. Surely, if he had been a plumber from Cleveland, a taxi cab driver from Chicago, or a sanitary worker from Seattle, the public would not be so intrigued by the question of who this person is and what his character is. Even if he were still a Senator, there would not be so much obsession over him. But the fact that he is President makes people scrutinze him, and project their hopes and fears onto him, like nobody else. Furthermore, the fact that he is "the first Black President" makes people do so all the more, in my opinion.

There are basically 3 different Barack Obamas that I have been exposed to, including 2 fictional ones and the real one:

1. There is the muslim Kenyan communist fictitious Barack Obama who is on a secret mission to destroy the United States, that a significant portion of conservative America believes in. That is the one that Randi Rhodes refers to as the Barack Obama who was manufactured by the right-wing media pundits and crackpots such as Donald Trump. He has become a projection of all "the angry white conservative man's" most paranoid fears;

2. There is the equally fictional in my opinion, turncoat Democrat who is a secret Bluedog Democrat or even a secret Republican, who promised us all kinds of progressive hope and change in order to get our vote in 2008, then promptly showed his true proclivities once he was free to be himself and boss everybody else around, as President. Something apparently happened to his magic progressive wand on the way to the White House. This is the Barack Obama that I keep encountering among disgruntled fellow progressives, many of whom were never in favor of Obama in the first place, and many of whom are inveterate pessimists. They find any continuation of the bad policies of prior administrations, no matter how little choice Obama has in the matter, to be matters of Obama's choice and signs of his rotten, or worse, character;

3. Finally, there is the real Barack Obama, at least in my opinion and apparently in the opinion of most knowledgeable voters. This is the Barack Obama who has faced stiff opposition like no President ever before has faced, yet accomplished much in spite of that. The Barack Obama that I see believes in compromise and working together, even with his opponents. He probably caves in too much to the right and may compromise with people who refuse to budge in their positions, but his heart seems to be in the right place. He has certainly continued some policies that I and others disagree with, but none of us are in his position, and don't know what sort of pressures and constraints have been placed upon him, especially as the "Jackie Robinson" of politics. He may be a moderate in many areas, but he certainly understands that "trickle down economics" does not work, and has proposed streamlining the military while cutting military spending, and raising taxes on the wealthy, which are exactly the sort of progressive things he needs to do. Meanwhile, he has given us a form of health care insurance reform, even if it's not the type of reform we will ultimately need. At least he is making changes in the proper direction, even if they are only incremental. He is a brilliant man who worked his way up from humble beginnings and a politically disadvantaged background as a "black" man, an iconic symbol of progress and a great speaker. For what he has gone through and what he has accomplished, when it's all over and done, his likeness should probably be on the side of Mount Rushmore next to Lincoln's. That is the Barack Obama that I, and I think a great many fellow Americans, see -- the Barack Obama that we re-elected on Tuesday.

However, conservatives will continue to assail him and try to turn him into some sort of ridiculous caricature of who he really is, and disaffected progressives who aren't patient enough to wait for the revolutionary changes they seek, and which could very well take place in the coming years, will continue to lump him together with all other politicians, except to label Obama as even worse because he promised to be something better. Well, as far as I am concerned, he is something better. However, there is only so much a President can do, especially without the support of the public. We need to keep pushing him to do more, to be more progressive. We must remember that a great deal of power has been delegated, without the consent of the people, to the corporatocracy of America and the world. Therefore, any President who wishes to act progressively, occupies a very uncomfortable position, with the power of the corporatocracy on one side, and the reading of the will of the people, on the other. What was Obama to think when progressives stayed home in 2010 and allowed a bunch of right-wing teabagger nutjobs to be elected to Congress? How is one to fight the corporatocracy in the face of such a passive-agressive, obstructionist assault? We need to elect a better Congress -- a more progressive one -- for our President, whomever he or she may be, to work with before we can expect better results. Otherwise, Obama will continue to be a human Rorshach test who looks like 3 completely different people, depending upon the angle from which one views him.

Fortunately, we made some steps in the direction of giving Obama a better Congress to work with, on Tuesday. However, the sad fact is that the majority of representatives are still Republican, and thus, we cannot expect much other than continued obstruction of anything progressive that Obama might try to do, and continued lousy legislation from the House of Representatives over the next 2 years. Our next chance to rectify that situation will be the midterm elections in 2014.

Although it may be too much to expect, let us hope that the House of Representatives over the next 2 years will start listening to the will of most Americans, and also, show a spirit of compromise. They cannot be worse than they were these past 2 years.


Alberto Ceras 6 years 40 weeks ago

Ah, Natural Lefty, your optimism has blinded you. I don't suppose you listened to Chris Hedges with Amy Goodman and other good people on election night. I don't suppose you will. I don't suppose you want to. But just in case I'm wrong, click on this web address, move the cursor over to 35 minutes, open your mind - listen.

But here's part of the transcript from that night, Chris Hedges saying on election night what should have been said much earlier - and by many:

AMY GOODMAN: You were—you live in New Jersey.

CHRIS HEDGES: Of course.

AMY GOODMAN: How hard hit were you?

CHRIS HEDGES: I lost power for a week, but I can’t complain, I mean, compared to what happened, the devastation along the coast, and what happened in Lower Manhattan. And the infrastructure, which has been, of course, neglected under both administrations, you know, wait 'til it begins to crumble. Wait ’til we—I don't think we grasp how fragile it is. I don’t think we understand that essentially the criminal class on Wall Street has been let loose to, in essence, harvest the country. That’s a business term. They are grabbing as much as fast as they can on the way out the door.

And neither Mitt Romney or Barack Obama has any intention of impeding that process, which is why, you know, I find it shocking, surprising, disturbing, that Barack Obama, who really did promise to the kind of change I think a majority of Americans wanted in 2008, was able to betray almost every single campaign promise he made, you know, to utterly sort of wipe his feet all over us and then turn around and ask for our vote. I think we have to begin new movements, new parties, because when this crisis hits, if we don’t have built some kind of a parallel structure to respond, what we’re going to get is the iron fist of the security and surveillance state, which Obama has cemented into place. His assault on civil liberties has been far worse than those under Bush, including of course the National Defense Authorization Act, Section 1021. I sued him and was joined by Noam Chomsky—

AMY GOODMAN: You sued President Obama.

CHRIS HEDGES: Yes, and we won, in Southern District Court of New York. And what was the response of the Obama administration? This was a section that permits the U.S. military, overturning 200 years of domestic law, to seize American citizens, hold them in military facilities, strip them of due process indefinitely. When Judge Katherine Forrest issued her 112-page opinion in our favor in September, she brought up the internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. And that’s what we have essentially permitted this president to do.

What was the response of the Obama administration? They asked for an emergency stay, which meant put the law back into effect, which Judge Forrest refused. They went—then went to the appellate court, asked for an emergency stay, which they got. Now, why? We knew they’d appeal. That’s because I think there can only be one conclusion, and that’s—that’s that they’re using the law, because if they were holding U.S. citizens, probably dual U.S.-Pakistani nationals in places like Bagram, without due process, then they would be in contempt of court.

The elites know very, very, very well what’s coming down, and they are preparing mechanisms to criminalize all forms of dissent. And the Obama administration has actually been more egregious, whether it’s the radical interpretation of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act as giving the executive branch the right to assassinate American citizens, the kill list, the FISA Amendment Act. You know, in the sort of inner sanctum in the National Security Council, they know what climate change and fiscal meltdown will bring. All we have to do is look across to Greece and Portugal and Spain to see what’s coming. And they’re preparing for it. And if we don’t begin to build movements and begin to carry out acts of civil disobedience that defy the formal structures of power, whether Republican or Democrat, we have absolutely no hope, and certainly we have, in essence, signed the death warrant for future generations.

And here's more from further down the transcript:

CHRIS HEDGES: Let me respond



AMY GOODMAN: Chris Hedges.

CHRIS HEDGES: I mean, all of the issues you raise are important. The problem is, what is it that empowers these proto-fascist, Christian-right, militia, nativist movements? And I can tell you, having lived through the war in Yugoslavia, it is the inability of the traditional liberal institutions to respond, because the longer that paralysis continues, not only are those institutions discredited, but the values that they claim to espouse are discredited. You saw the same thing in Weimar. And that’s the game we’re playing.

If Obama had come—he had a mandate in 2008 to bring about significant change across the political spectrum, across the economic spectrum. And, you know, he brought in Geithner and Summers, and kept the same defense secretary, and, as you just pointed out, has carried out far more egregious assaults both against civil liberties and the expansion of proxy wars and everything else.

And it’s the paralysis that frightens me, because I’ve seen what it vomits up. It vomits up very distorted and disturbing characters. And, you know, Dostoevsky writes about this. That’s what Demons is about. That’s what Notes from Underground is about. It was an obsession of Dostoevsky’s. The inability to respond, he called it "an age of moral nihilism." And he was nothing if not prescient. And we are a deeply violent culture about the consequences of that. And so, I think that those of us who care about those traditional liberal values, who care about justice, who care about gender equality and a fair distribution of wealth and all of that, by tying ourselves to an impotent Democratic machine, are discrediting those values—and I watched the same thing in Yugoslavia—and playing an extremely dangerous game.

AMY GOODMAN: Kai Wright.

KAI WRIGHT: Yeah, I mean, I just—I would absolutely agree at the 30,000-foot level, right? You know, but I think these things don’t have to be either-or, first off, right? Like this—that critique can be true, and there is very little debating, I think, the president’s record on many of these issues. He has not been a force for change, certainly. I can speak to the economy. I can speak to what he did on Wall Street, and not as well on some of the foreign policy stuff. Certainly he has not been a force for change.

That said, you know, if you lost your house—in the last four years, if you lost your house, lost your job, and watched your kid be in a school that was declared failing and turned into a charter school, and now they’re being tracked towards—towards special ed, that’s where you’re at, right? You’re not at Dostoevsky, and you’re not at Terror Tuesday. You’re at those kinds of issues. And I think that we do people a disservice if we don’t recognize that. And if we don’t engage them at that level, I think we do them a disservice.

CHRIS HEDGES: But Obama has accelerated that process.

KAI WRIGHT: Absolutely, absolutely.

CHRIS HEDGES: And so—and that’s the problem. And I think that

KAI WRIGHT: This is not an argument for Obama.


KAI WRIGHT: But I think it’s important to talk about, when we’re talking about change and talking about the people and what the people need to do and what the people are going to do, I think it’s important to acknowledge who they are and what they’re doing.

CHRIS HEDGES: Right, but the longer the formal mechanisms of power don’t respond, the more you empower the extremes. And there is no left in this country; it’s been destroyed. And so, the backlash begins to come, funded by the Koch brothers and others, movements that unequivocally can be called fascist. That’s what the tea party is. That’s what the Christian right is.

KAI WRIGHT: Absolutely.

CHRIS HEDGES: The celebrate the gun culture. They speak in the language of violence. They channel a legitimate rage and a legitimate sense of betrayal.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re an ordained minister, Chris?

CHRIS HEDGES: I’m not ordained. I didn’t get to go that far, but I did finish seminary. It channels it towards the vulnerable. That’s what fascist movements do. It’s what happened in Yugoslavia. Homosexuals, undocumented workers, Muslims, feminists—I mean, they have a very long list of people they hate. And that’s the game we’re playing. And by refusing to stand up, by essentially surrendering our voice and our passion to a Democratic Party and establishment that has sold us out, we are—we are inadvertently empowering the very forces that we have to fight.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 40 weeks ago

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back…" inexorably to the cataract.

In quotes thanks to Scott Fitzgerald.

Tavis Smiley, Cornel West on the 2012 Election & Why Calling Obama "Progressive" Ignores His Record

"As the most expensive presidential election in U.S. history comes to an end, broadcaster Tavis Smiley and professor, activist Dr. Cornel West join us to discuss President Obama’s re-election and their hopes for a national political agenda in and outside of the White House during Obama’s second term. At a time when one in six Americans is poor, the price tag for combined spending by federal candidates — along with their parties and outside groups like super PACs — totaled more than $6 billion. Together, West and Smiley have written the new book, "The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto." Both Tavis and Smiley single out prominent progressives whom they accuse of overlooking Obama’s actual record. "We believe if [Obama] is not pushed, he is going to be a transactional president and not a transformational president," Smiley says. "We believe the time is now for action and no longer accommodation… To be the most progressive means you’ve taken some serious risk. And I just don’t see the example of that." West says that some prominent supporters of Obama "want to turn their back to poor and working people. It’s a sad thing to see them as apologists for the Obama administration in that way."

Boldface mine: AC

Alberto Ceras 6 years 40 weeks ago

If I hear, or read, one more hand wringing, tearful lament about the "suffering middle class" I think I'll puke. The country's - the president's - attention might better focus on those who truly are suffering - the poor, those who would become the middle class given the opportunity, the means. But this president? This congress? This dumbed-down, self-absorbed public? Not bloody likely.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 40 weeks ago

Dang it, Alberto, I guess that puts the kibosh on my enjoyment of Obama's victory, the stupendously good show of confidence via the polls for Democrats, inlcluding some real progressives in the Senate, and the dwindling of the Republican advantage in the House, which, by the way, by all rights should now have a majority of Democrats, since more people actually voted for Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives than for Repubicans. Only the biased district lines drawn up by Republican-dominated state legislatures gave Republicans the majority in the House, because they engineered the districts so that Democrats would win as few seats as possible, but by landslide margins, while Republicans won a majority of races, but by small margins.

What a drag it is being such an optimist. I guess I need to ask you or Chris Hedges for advice. -);

I agree with you that we should focus on the truly poor. I can hardly go to the gas station anymore or the local shopping center without transferring my change to some homeless person who obviously needs help, but where I live has long been an economic basket case. I think this area is actually improving, but I do see more homeless people recently. Apparently, talking about the poor seems to be taboo among candidates nowadays.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 40 weeks ago

You could also ask Jeremy Scahill, Ralph Nader, Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, Robert Reich, Glen Ford, Kai Wright, and a host of others.

This is the man who kept Bradley Manning languishing in prison, deferring his trial until after the election, and why? Surely you understand why.

"Democrat" is not synonymous with "Liberal." That ought to be obvious. It isn't how many people voted for democrats but how many incumbents voters returned from both parties. And that after the "public" gave congress a 10 percent approval rating. That is stupid. You continue to give Obama credit for the flawed health care legislation. Obama stayed aloof from the fray until the final three weeks when it was already a done deal. Had he exerted leadership from the beginning, engaged fully in the debate, the country might now have a decent health care bill instead of the flawed and litigious one now on the books . He didn't.

Read some of this, most of it from around the time of the Health Care debate:

Obama's sell outs and why a normal person should be concerned this time around....

Back Room Deal with Hospitals to kill the Public Option from the NY Times

There are any number of villains in this story, but the real blame for the failure of health care reform can be placed at the feet of those who most favored reform. At the head of the line is President Obama who, while passionately well-intended in his efforts for reform, exhibited poor leadership strategies that constantly left the legislation on the critical list.

A sometimes aloof executive is not compatible with the role of president of the United States. That is why the hope and change promised in 2008 has yet to be delivered.

We need our presidents with sleeves rolled up, willing to fight for their policies. Obama should have personally engaged in the health care battle. He should have found Republican support for a less regulation-heavy final bill. He should have used his bully pulpit to talk down House Republicans who blocked a compromise budget deal brokered with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Obama should never have lost sight of why he was elected president.

Congressional Democrats Abandoning Obama Express Frustration Over Lack Of Leadership

in Economy, Federal Budget, Health Care, ObamaCare, Politics

Democrats in Congress say they have grown frustrated with Obama because of his lack of leadership in their ongoing battle with Republicans over spending cuts, but with nothing in Obama’s career to suggest that he is one for political rough riding, it is odd for Democrats to express dismay that Obama isn’t leading the charge.

During the bloody 14-month fight over ObamaCare, Obama opted not to fully engage until the final three weeks. Since Obama declined to take the lead when it came to a multi-trillion-dollar law that will forever be associated with his name, Democrats should know that he isn’t jumping into the fight over funding the government for six months.

But in Congress, Democrats, both moderates and liberals, continue to wonder why Obama is not doing more to resolve the current impasse on spending; and they are defecting from the ranks of the faithful. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin said it the most sharply last week when he charged that Obama had “failed to lead.” But we are hearing similar refrains from many of his colleagues.

One would think that by now Democrats would know how this works: Obama is above the fray and they, alas, are the fray.

On his health-care law, his stimulus spending plan, his energy policy, his debt commission and more, Obama has been very content to allow congressional Democrats to muck out the legislative stables before he gets his hands dirty. In each case, Obama had suggested a goal (such as universal health insurance, economic recovery, fees on carbon emissions, a balanced budget and the like) and then tasked Congress with delivering it. The strategy has given Obama some operating room and plausible deniability when Congress has failed (as in the case of global warming) or, more often, delivered something broadly unsatisfying (such as ObamaCare).

When Obama goes on the campaign trail for himself and bemoans the way people “in Washington” operate, Congressional Democrats should understand that he’s selling them downstream, because his brand relies on him staying aloof from all the political heat. However, Democrats learned the hard way in 2010, that there is a high price to pay for doing the dirty work of executing the Obama agenda. We will never know how many Democrats might have been spared defeat in November if the president had been more deeply engaged in the making of his own health-care legislation. Not only would he have been there to share the blame for a process that was widely seen as flawed, but his direction might have brought a swifter conclusion.

Instead, Obama let Democrats chase their tails on health care for so long they did not wrap up work on the highly divisive legislation until March 2010, not leaving enough time to separate themselves in the minds of angry voters.

Showing his courageous nature, Obama has worked hard to disassociate himself with some of the law’s unpopular provisions since the mid-term election. The Obama administration has freely granted waivers on some of the more onerous obligations imposed by ObamaCare and even offered states more time to try to wriggle free of expensive entitlement provisions. It must have seemed a cruel irony to some defeated House members when Obama compared his compromise on the extending tax rates in December’s lame-duck session of Congress to the health-care battle, chiding Democrats who were upset over his cave-in on a core campaign promise.

Obama accused his fellow Democrats of seeking “a purist position and no victories for the American people,” on taxes just as they had sought a government-run health insurance program. As if covered in Teflon, he said it was “the public option all over again,” even though it was his idea. Obama was the one who proposed the government-run program in 2008 and savaged Hillary Clinton for failing to include one in her 2008 campaign plan. But rather than fighting for it, he let his fellow liberals follow him out onto the “public option” limb and then sawed it off.

This is the guy who Democrats now expect to fight John Boehner tooth and nail over funding for National Public Radio and Planned Parenthood? Not gonna happen, folks.

Obama’s above-the-fray approach even extends also to international matters. He says that he is “tightening the noose” around Muammar Qaddafi, but the ones left dangling at the end of the rope are the rebels facing Qaddafi’s better-supplied military. As has consistently been the case, Obama’s words are empty rhetoric. Obama took a similar approach in Egypt during the populist siege of President Hosni Mubarak. In Egypt, things have so far worked out as Obama had hoped. In Libya, things are shaping up less attractively. Do not look for Obama to herald that “at every juncture” in the Libya that he was “on the right side of history.” Obama is not exactly a profile in courage.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 40 weeks ago

I am going on a trip for Veteran's Day vacation, and thus do not have much time to reply now.

I agree that many Democrats are not liberals. We have been stuck with an increasingly conservative government over these past several decades. In fact, that is one of my main points about Obama -- not that he is necessarily conservative, because I don't think he is, but the government he inherited is, far moreso than the public at large. Based on Obama's speeches in recent months, and current political trends toward more progressive Congress members and away from the conservative nutbags, I expect Obama to be somewhat more progressive in his second term, but not greatly so.

Speaking of good news, I found out that Mary Bono Mack lost her race to a Democratic contender named Raul Ruiz who is an emergency room doctor. She used to be the representative of this area until the redistricting of 2010, and is the widow of Sonny Bono. Her current husband, also a Republican politician, named Connie Mack, also lost. This region gained 2 seats in the House due to population growth, and went from having almost all Republican representatives to having mostly Democratic ones in Tuesday's election. Most of these Democrats are new members of Congress and seem fairly progressive. I think that's something to celebrate. In one local race, a new Democrat even beat an established Democrat for a seat in Congress.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 40 weeks ago

It may be a little premature to celebrate, NL. When the U.S. no longer kills innocent Pakistanis, Afghans, Iraqis, Yemenis, Bahrainis, perhaps Iranians and others, when the U.S. is no longer at war, when it no longer imprisons - even kills - its own citizens without due process, when Guantanamo's prisons are shut down, when Bradley Manning and other whistleblowers are released, when single-payer is on the books, when taxes are significantly raised on the rich, when Wall-Street executives' multi-million dollar bonuses have been eliminated, when Citizens United is only a memory and McCain–Feingold has been restored, when prisons-for-profit are outlawed, when the U.S. no longer uses its veto to protect Israel from legitimate sanctions, when charter schools no longer exist, when U.S. workers and U.S. products are protected from cheap imports...well let's say when Elizabeth Warren is president, maybe then we can celebrate.

"Obama Thumps a Gnat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 2012"

(Apologies to the late Ernest Thayer)

Oh, somewhere in a favored land the sun is shining bright;

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

But there'll be no joy in our land — inept Obama has won out.

nimblecivet 6 years 40 weeks ago

As you have noted, NL, Democrats may have a supermajority in the Assembly.So a lot of good things could happen in California. Really, I think Obama would have to make a serious effort to reach out to progressives for his endorsement or recognition to even be welcome. So far as I can tell, truly dedicated political activists are being sustained by a small minority of citizens who can't find a way to relate positively to the Obama brand. Clinton by contrast was also a neoliberal but had the sense to allow Gore to meet with citizen's groups whom he consulted regarding environmental issues.

Have a great weekend I'm sure you have been busy!

Alberto, you should check out this thread:

Alberto Ceras 6 years 40 weeks ago
Quote nimblecivet:

Alberto, you should check out this thread:

Thanks, nimblecivet, I just did and I added a comment. I pasted Chris Hedges' own words concerning this matter (also included above in my first comment to this blog of NL). Folks on that particular thread didn't seem to know the entire story.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 6 years 40 weeks ago

Excellent points, Alberto Ceras! And thanks for pointing me in the direction of that Chris Hedges interview...I have always enjoyed and agreed with most everything Chris Hedges has said. One point, though, I think you meant al-Assad (the lion? hear him roar! my kingdom for a horse?) in Syria instead of Qadaffi of Libya..who is quite dead, I believe.... Unless I mistakenly read that as present tense when you may have been referring to past tense.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 40 weeks ago

[quote=Palindromedary One point, though, I think you meant al-Assad (the lion? hear him roar! my kingdom for a horse?) in Syria instead of Qadaffi of Libya..who is quite dead, I believe.... Unless I mistakenly read that as present tense when you may have been referring to past tense.[/quote]

Thanks for your comment. Yes, I posted articles dating from the time of the health care debate to illustrate Obama's lack of leadership. The information was necessarily dated but was current at the time of the debates when the articles were published.

In common with other true liberals we are both Chris Hedges fans. Unfortunately many former liberals have sold out. Even worse, they don't seem to realize that they have. Thanks again for the comment..

Alberto Ceras 6 years 40 weeks ago

Once Again, Death of the Liberal Class

By Chris Hedges

The presidential election exposed the liberal class as a corpse. It fights for nothing. It stands for nothing. It is a useless appendage to the corporate state. It exists not to make possible incremental or piecemeal reform, as it originally did in a functional capitalist democracy; instead it has devolved into an instrument of personal vanity, burnishing the hollow morality of its adherents. Liberals, by voting for Barack Obama, betrayed the core values they use to define themselves—the rule of law, the safeguarding of civil liberties, the protection of unions, the preservation of social welfare programs, environmental accords, financial regulation, a defiance of unjust war and torture, and the abolition of drone wars. The liberal class clung desperately during the long nightmare of this political campaign to one or two issues, such as protecting a woman’s right to choose and gender equality, to justify its complicity in a monstrous evil. This moral fragmentation—using an isolated act of justice to define one’s self while ignoring the vast corporate assault on the nation and the ecosystem along with the pre-emptive violence of the imperial state—is moral and political capitulation. It fails to confront the evil we have become.

The boldface is mine. AC

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 40 weeks ago

Don't worry about me concluding "misson accomplished" so I can spend the rest of my life being a couch potato, anybody. Obviously you are correct Alberto, that the U.S. government still engages in many hideous practices. We have much work to do, but at least, we now know that we won't be stepping back into Republican world over these next 4 years.

Perhaps the difference in perspectives here is whether one sees things getting worse and worse, or sees the likelihood of improvement. People such as Hedges, seem to see a continual devolvement of our standards and ideals, where I see the likelihood of a rethinking of our standards and ideals in the coming years which should result in a better America. I could be wrong, of course, but that is pretty much what I see coming based on current trends and educated guesses.

By the way, I just saw this on my internet news:

I did see another article which said the election success of Democrats and progressives in the "midwest" this past week was not necessarily a harbinger of things to come, but I suspect that for the most part, it is.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 40 weeks ago

For me, NL, it isn't whether or not I "see" the likelihood of improvement (I don't) but whether there actually is improvement in the many instances that concern and greatly trouble Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky and me - and of course others. I have no confidence in Obama's commitment nor in his ability to effectively address these critical issues even if he were committed. And the greasy palmed U.S. Congress? You are kidding, right? Don't we have enough experience to understand that both democrats and republicans are obstructionists, that their votes on matters of national importance simply follow the money? And why not? If the voters keep sending them back, without regard to their records? Perhaps you Californians see reason to celebrate. I don't see your state's democratic majorities lifting the nation out of its foul, stinking gutter. Why, Californians couldn't even take the lead in legalizationn of marijuana.

Laborisgood's picture
Laborisgood 6 years 40 weeks ago

Nice post Lefty. No rational and intelligent person could honestly believe Obama is as described by Obama #1. The significant number of rational and intelligent people who do honestly seem to believe Obama is as described by Obama #2 does give me great concern. However, something closer to door #3 seems more plausible to me. Perhaps we ought to hold off on the Mount Rushmore project until after this fiscal cliff thing plays itself out. We will learn much about who the real Obama is over the next 2 or 3 months.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 40 weeks ago

Alberto, I thought I might see comments like that. What I meant to say is, that I am seeing progress with the expectation of further progress under Obama, even if it's not all that I had hoped for.

Yes, state legislatures in California now have a supermajority, so there could be real progress, although the budget problems act as an impediment to any changes that require spending.

It seems to me that in Congress, it is the Republicans who are the main obstructionists by far, but I admit a lot of Democrats do tricky things to avoid legislating at times.

Laborisgood, finally somebody speaks up who sees the Obama Rorshach Test pretty much as I do. Over the next few months we will find out more about where Obama really wants for America's future, and certainly over the next 4 years.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 40 weeks ago
Quote Laborisgood:

We will learn much about who the real Obama is over the next 2 or 3 months.

Four years wasn't enough time to divine the real Obama? Why not give him 20 years, 30? We could just go on learning while Obama just goes on stumbling, bumbling as the country slides deeper and deeper into the bottomless pit. Did you notice yesterday's UN vote to lift sanctions on Cuba? Only three nations voted against lifting the sanctions - the United States, Israel and a tiny US dependent. Here was a golden opportunity for Obama to do the right thing, to demonstrate his courage and independence from Congressional obstructionists. Obama didn't need Congressional approval - just a word from him to Ambassador Rice would have been sufficient.

Well, you know…

U.S. embargo on Cuba denounced in UN vote

Cuba calls U.S. policy 'inhumane, failed and anachronistic'

The Associated Press

Posted: Nov 13, 2012 6:29 PM

"The UN General Assembly on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to condemn the U.S. commercial, economic and financial embargo against Cuba for the 21st year in a row.

The final tally Tuesday saw 188 countries, including Canada, support the measure. Israel and Palau joined the United States in voting against the measure. The Marshall Islands and Micronesia both abstained. Last year's tally for the symbolic measure was almost identical, 186-2, with three abstentions."

Take time to read the article, and especially the comments to it. How does that old cliche go? ...smell the coffee?

Today's (Nov.14) Democracy addresses some of this:

Alberto Ceras 6 years 40 weeks ago

Now Obama has another opportunity this very month to display his progressive, liberal credentials. What do you suppose he will ask the U.S.'s U.N. ambassador to do? (Susan Rice, the current ambassador, is front runner for Hillary's job) Read this:

Palestinians stay firm on U.N. statehood bid

By Joel Greenberg,

Published: November 13

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Defying strong pressure from Washington, the Palestinian leadership is moving ahead with a bid to upgrade the Palestinians’ status at the United Nations to non-member statehood, with a draft resolution on the issue expected to be presented Nov. 29.


As a U.N. observer state, Palestine could join bodies such as the International Criminal Court, where it could bring cases against Israel and ask the court to investigate alleged war crimes committed on Palestinian territory.


Palestinian officials argue that the U.N. bid is an attempt to enlist international backing for Palestinian statehood after a prolonged deadlock in peace efforts, during which the Obama administration effectively withdrew from mediating a deal.

And on the home front, here's the Liberal, Progressive Obama administration in action:

Accused U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning has offered to submit a partial guilty plea on charges of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks in return for the government agreeing to pursue lesser charges. Manning is reportedly ready to admit to leaking the documents to WikiLeaks, but is refusing to plead guilty to the charges of espionage or aiding the enemy. Manning’s offer comes as a federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for his role in crafting policies that led to torture in Iraq. The ruling marked a victory for the Obama administration, which followed the Bush administration in seeking the lawsuit’s dismissal.

Boldface mine. AC

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 40 weeks ago

No Alberto, my wife and I at least, don't feel that 4 years has been enough time to see many of the effects of Obama's policies. Many policies take quite a few years for their effects to be clearly manifest. That "We gave Obama a chance" liine doesn't ring true to me, as I mentioned before -- not with the mess he inherited.

While you focus on U.S. politicies toward Israel and Cuba, which Obama may not have much sway in dictating for all I know, most of us here are looking at Obama's promise to fight for the middle class by raising taxes on the rich, on his plans for developing a greener economy, etc., whch seem like real progress from the dreaded Days of Bush.

But along with you, I do continue to call for an end to drone strikes, a less symbiotic relationship with Israel, a softening of stance regarding Cuba, and the dismantling of our nuclear arsenal and demilitarization of the United States.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 6 years 40 weeks ago

Thanks for clearing that up...mea culpa..I guess. Anyway..excellent posts! I think you hit the nail on the head...most do not see or understand the true situation and are easy to manipulate. Which is why our general well being..our jobs...our social programs...our very lives are being wiped out...drowned in a bathtub.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 40 weeks ago
Quote Palindromedary.: I think you hit the nail on the head...most do not see or understand the true situation and are easy to manipulate. Which is why our general well being..our jobs...our social programs...our very lives are being wiped out...drowned in a bathtub.

Thanks, Palindromedary. And Obama's policies aren't likely to change. I don't think that you and I are alone by any means. Please read my latest blog on Israel's war against the Palestinians and Obama's stated support for it. Also my blog "The Drone Wars."

Obama and Israel's Right

The Drone Wars

And this commentary:

The man who will govern… Jonathan Schell

Jonathan Schell is a Fellow at The Nation Institute and is a visiting fellow at Yale University. He is the author of The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger.


The dreams from his father were at an end, and he was left, as he only slowly realized, with the themeless pragmatism that has become the hallmark of his administration.

Unable to find common ground with the Republican opposition, he cut deals with the other powers that immediately surround the presidency: the military and security apparatus, big pharmaceutical companies, big banks, and big media. Perhaps more important was the permission that he gave himself for violence and suppression of rights: drone strikes that have killed children as well as terrorists, the futile “surge” in Afghanistan, the continued operation of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, reliance on military tribunals, an unprecedented campaign against whistle blowers, and the assertion of a right to order the assassination of foreigners and Americans alike at his sole discretion.

All this, too, stood behind the performance of the man on stage during the second two debates. And if he is elected, it is this man who will govern. The Obama of 2008 is not back. He is not coming back. He is gone forever.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 39 weeks ago

I would gladly accept Palindromedary's compliments, but I doubt they are meant for me.

As soon as we all find a politician, all of whose policies everybody agrees with, we can all vote for him or her (even you, Joyce W and Palindromedary) and everybody will be happy -- until the flaws of the policies become evident at least. But yeah, I think Obama needs to rethink his foreign and military policies and I think it's particularly necessary given their additive effect to the U.S. deficit.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 39 weeks ago

Your doubt is no doubt well founded, NL. And Obama's domestic policies? They're OK, no rethink necessary? Ask the chronically unemployed. the debt ridden university students, the evicted, those who have lost their homes, the incarcerated (the U.S. puts more of its people in prison....but you know that, right?), the privatization of schools, of prisons, the crumbling infrastructure, the unconscionable disparity in wealth, the harsh penalties (and imprisonment) of whistle blowers...well, maybe a little rethink here and there wouldn't be amiss. Not Obama's fault? Why, of course not. He wasn't elected to actually do anything, was he? It's all Congress' fault. As for the tooth fairy...

Does Oliver Stone have anything to teach us? The U.S. - its people - seemingly didn't learn anything from his anti-war movies. Well, maybe it did - how to use drones to kill from the comfort of an air conditioned "office" in Virginia.

Oliver Stone on the Untold U.S. History From the Atomic Age to Vietnam to Obama’s Drone Wars

The first episode of the series aired Monday night on Showtime.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 39 weeks ago

Well, if ignore history and think that the President is all-powerful, I am sure you would be correct, Alberto. I guess you also think it's my fault that I inherited my father's near-sightedness and glaucoma, and my mother's fused upper spine. Where I got my small mouth with only 24 teeth from, I don't know, but I am sure that's my fault, too, as well as my flat feet and the overbite which my parents spent so much money correcting. I am sure you were not born with any physical or psychological imperfections, nor was Obama. Whatever flaws his Preseidency has, they must have been of Obama's making, and his failure to undo them indicates his unwillingness to use his magic wand. What a grinch he is when it comes to that magic wand.

I know you are trying to make your voice heard, and have the proper emphases on what needs to change. I am doing the same thing in my own way, but I think a better approach than disavowing the government that we have, is to elect progressives whenever possilbe, and encourage those who are in government to show their progressive side by making positive changes, and I don't expect too much change too fast because that seems unrealistic to me.

norske's picture
norske 6 years 39 weeks ago

Lefty... rather than reply on the "women's Issues" thread... I'll attempt to address some of the points you made on your blog.

Quote Natural Lefty:The thing that I really find strange is that here on a site started by a progressive talk show host who supports Obama, I am finding approximately only 1/6 of the members who actually support Obama. Thus, approximately 5/6 of this site's members vehemently disagree with its leader and founder, Thom Hartmann.

I haven't really noticed people who "vehemently disagree" with Thom on most issues. Even with Obama... at least Thom holds him accountable when he goes astray. For many Democrats on this site... apparently Obama can do no wrong...

Quote Natural Lefty:Obviously, there is no requirement that a person agree with Thom in order to post here, but it would seem natural to have people who agree with Thom drawn to this site, as I was, and not for people who disagree with Thom to join this site so much.

Again... speaking for myself, Obama is one of the few areas I disagree on with Thom. Kind of discredits the "...disagree with Thom tto join this site so much" framing....

Quote Natural Lefty:In my estimation, however, about 1/3 of the members are self-identified conservatives, and about 1/2, progressives (at least they all present themselves that way) who feel betrayed, etc. by Obama.

Again, speaking for myself... I do not feel betrayed by Obama. He has only acted slightly worse than I imagined he would act. If anyone is disappointed in Obama, they simply weren't paying attention and ignored everything he had done in his past....

Quote Natural Lefty:I would think that if Chris Hedges or other well known progressive malcontents have a website, that is where these people would go.

"progressive malcontents"... sounds a lot like "Obama bashers"... Notwithstanding that such labeling serves to disenfranchise further dialog... since when does holding Obama accountable for his actions equate to "progressive malcontents" and or "Obama bashers"?

Quote Natural Lefty:Maybe no such website exists, though, or maybe if all the gloom and doomers got together on one site, it would be too much negativity for even them to bear,

That you also have a Ph.D and use such framing is disconcerting to say the least...

Quote Natural Lefty:Perhaps they need to hear from people such as us who have a somewhat optimistic nature and attutude in order to keep their heads up, or have somebody who actually finds positives in the Obama Presidency to bring their complaints to. I am not really sure.

That must be it... people who want to hold Obama to the exact same standards as Cheney/Bush were held to are simply "gloom and doomers" who need to be put back into the reality of 24/7 Obama sunshine by the optimistic people such as yourself....

With such framing of issues and questions... not surprising you engender some of the responses you do...

Further... and with all due respect... your three categories of Obama are severely wanting. Obama is simply acting as he has always acted. His behavior and his appointments reflect his true nature. Emanuel, Summers, Geithner, Bernanke, Immelt, Duncan, Clinton. etc. etc. etc. as well as refusing to prosecute the crimnals on Wall Street and the Cheney/Bush/CIA war criminals... drones, rendition, indefinite detention, torture... well... the rest of his problems could go on for pages...

I understand how difficutl it is when dreams are shattered... but continuing to defend that which is indefensible does you no honor. Which is sad since you seem like a decent and honorable guy....

Certainly Obama is somewhat constrained by the inequities and obvious limitations of the corrupt one party oligrachy which serves to highlight the binary aspects which are US politics... As long as the right/left. repub/dim, good/bad paradigm exists... not much will change. More illusions of choice, of democracy where there is none. Welcome to Inverted Totalitarianism 101...

Be well, and I wish you all the best...

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 39 weeks ago

"As long as the right/left. repub/dim, good/bad paradigm exists... not much will change."

Yes, I agree and we have the same objectives, Norske. My plan is to make the Republiicans irrelevant, to show them to be the party of losers that they are. Then, I want more liberal factions such as the Greens to take their place in our system. We also need electoral reform to get rid of this two party system and make it a more inclusive, multi-party one. When that becomes a reality, we won't need to have this conversation about the evils and similarities of "both major parties."

I am guessing we are not that far apart regarding our objectives. I see the constraints of the oligarchy on Obama as being greater than you do, and thus, Obama's role as much smaller than you seem to. I see some differences between the "two major parties" also, although there are far too many areas where they have reached an unfortunate consensus driven by the big money, conservative agenda. However, I think we both find such policies as the use of drones and other militaristic U.S policies, abominable, and the trickle down economy abomiable as well etc. and we both have the same objective of fixing or at least ameliorating these problems.

I wasn't singling you out, by the way, Norske. Actually, I have always had a positive impression of you, but over time, seeing your "they are all evil" type posts has become discouraging for me. I think you have taken the brunt of the anger of some members of this community, and that is not fair, given the many people who share your attitudes who post here, and that any animosity among fellow progressives who share the same goals, is counterproductive in the first place. I just tend to get frustrated at times with the misunderstandings and different approaches and attitudes I see among my fellow progressives.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 39 weeks ago

Thank you, norske, for your eloqent and reasoned thoughts. I only have one more thing to add to my previous comments. If I had been elected president after promising to shut down Guantanamo I would have - could have - shut it down in a matter of days or weeks. The president is commander in chief, generals obey him or they are cashiered (remember MacArthur?). If it would have meant a Guantanamo with neither prisoners nor troops, fine. Audacity has its place, as great leaders have demonstrated.

norske's picture
norske 6 years 39 weeks ago

Lefty... I posted my response on your blog to avoid the sophomoric and insipid comments that the gang mentality on this forum seems to cultivate. If I choose to engage in further dialog I'd appreciate it if it was kept within this blog... not revealed elsewhere. I get the need to believe and the desire to trust that Obama is something better than he has revealed. Sorry... the current system sucks...

You went the teaching direction while I stayed on the streets with the mentally ill, the disposessed and the disenfranchised. One isn't better than the other... just different...

Myself and others like me are not the enemy... from your writings we both want the same things. Do you think Thom agrees with Obama on torture, rendition, indefinite detention, drones, war criminals etc. etc. etc?

Thom believes in working within the system and changing the Democratic Party into something representing the people. I have stated on numerous occasions that that is a good thing. I don't think that it is realistic, but ii it works for him and others, good for them.

The Democratic Party is no better than the Republican Party... at least on the real susbstantive issues. Just depends on which 1% you want to rule over you...

Be well...

Alberto Ceras 6 years 39 weeks ago

Thanks again, norske. Yes, if NL is going to disparage me on another blog rather than here i wish he would at least use my name.

Here's the "middle east's only democracy" at work, Obama touring (sort of reminds me of Nero's fiddle):

Israel's forces continue their insane and bloody assault. One family of eleven, including five children and three women, have been killed in a strike in Gaza.

But. Hey, no sweat. Obama's on tour.

18 November 2012

Barack Obama has begun a tour of South East Asia, which will include a historic visit to Burma.

Mr Obama landed in Thailand's capital Bangkok on his first foreign trip after his re-election as president.

Meanwhile, Israel is busily "defending" itself with Obama's approving nod and with U.S. material and financial aid:

Seven Palestinian civilians were killed in air strikes Sunday, including five children ranging in age from one to 11, according to Ashraf al-Kidra, a Gaza health official.

Smoke rises after a strike by Israeli forces on Gaza City on Sunday. The Israeli military has widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers. (Bernat Armangue/Associated Press)

Two of the children, a three-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy, were from the same family and were killed by an air strike on a three-storey home in the town of Beit Lahiya. Hamas security officials said three missiles struck the house, owned by a Gaza family with links to militants' rocket squads.

It was not known whether any militants were in or near the house at the time of the strike. Another strike targeted a Hamas militant in his car outside his home in the Shati refugee camp near Gaza City, but also killed an 11-year-old girl passing by at the time, al-Kidra said.

The deaths bring to 53 the number of Palestinians killed since the operation began on Wednesday. Twenty of those dead were civilians, and more than 400 civilians have been wounded, al-Kidra said. On the Israeli side, three civilians have been killed and more than 50 wounded by rocket fire.

Do you suppose those children were on Obama's kill list? After all, every blessed one of today's "terrorists" was once a year baby. Get 'em while the gettin's good. Atta boy, B.O.! You're the man, Bebe!

norske's picture
norske 6 years 39 weeks ago
Quote Alberto Ceras:

Thanks again, norske. Yes, if NL is going to disparage me on another blog rather than here i wish he would at least use my name.

Lefty appears better than most... but the cheap pettiness and unhealthy gang mentality that perpetuates, encourages and reinforces further pettiness, cruelty and unhealthy behavior makes responding to many comments an experiment in futility... Better things to do than trade insults with people who should know better....

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 39 weeks ago

My apologies, Alberto. I went overboard in comparing you to Romney on the other thread. But blaming Obama for things everything that has gone wrong in his Presidency, including the loss of jobs at the beginning of his Presidency, was Romney's main tactic -- that, and of course, vague statements such as "I know how to create jobs," and "I know how to get the economy going."

Norske, I do think the large maority of us (other than conservative interlopers) have a good deal in common, especially in terms of having similar if not the same goals. Regarding your question of whether Thom agrees with those policies, I am sure that the answer is no (although be it noted that I don't get to hear much from Thom these days since his program was removed from the air waves in Los Angeles; however, I did recently discover how to listen to his show using my computer's newly upgraded capacities).

I agree pretty much with Thom in terms of working within the system to change it. However, my ultimate goal, and probably Thom's as well, is a revolutionary change of the system. There may come a time when open rebellion is called for, but I am not sure that is necessary and would avoid it if possible. I think OWS is a great thing, which challenges the system without causing bloodshed. I donated some food and materials to Occupy Riverside last year. You say that you don't think that working within the system will prove to be practical, and I cannot say whether that is correct or not. Perhaps working within the system will prove impractical, after all, but I remain optimistic in the great possibilities of the democratic process.

About the insipid thing, people often think of me that way. In fact, I have been accused of being sophomoric at times too. Whatever -- I continue to do my thing the best I know how and try not to let the reactions of others influence me too much, unless I see something really constructive in what others have to say.

I heard today about a psychologist who intentionally went homeless at the age of 65 just to help other homeless people. Needless to say, I was impressed. I don't know if your story is like that, but it sounds similar on the surface. I have never worked especially much with homeless, disposssed, disenfranchised or mentally ill persons, I must admit. I have worked with a lot of immature and mediocre college students, plus some very good ones and some older students, as well as some college track high schoolers, instead.

I will give a very personally relevant example of how I think the Democratic Party is not as bad as Republicans, and how I feel there is hope for pushing them into a progressive agenda. Obama's stimulus package includes a lot of monies allocated for developing "green energy" sources. As a result, solar companies took a sudden interest in a large land parcel my wife bought (with some help from me) near Blythe, CA in the Mojave Desert, in late 2010. We sold the land to the second company that made an offer on the land, but it was an "option" deal. As it turns out, the company has just opted not to complete payments on the land, because part of it is in an environmentally sensitive area with endangered species, and thus off limits to development. (They just found this out recently when an Environmental Impact Report was completed.) This is the topic of my latest post I just wrote this morning. As you can see, the situation is complicated, but the fact is, we would still be sitting here waiting for somebody to show an interest in the land if not for the Obama administration. We are now free to sell the land to somebody else, and the Environmental Impact Report will be available to potential buyers before they buy it, so no more nasty surprises. Perhaps environmental groups or universities will want the land, and solar companies may still want the northern half of the land, at least.

Even if the negatives overshadow the positives of the Obama administration in your view, there have been many other positive developments during his administration along with the negatives. I would say that his election in 2008 was almost a miracle, something unimaginable in previous generations. I would also say that the United States appears to have reached a threshold, both demographically and ideologically, which I suspect will result in propelling the country toward a more progressive path in the future. It will be very difficult for a conservative such as Romney to win a national election in the future, which should help to defang the conservative movement in the United States. In fact, I beileve that Romney would have won the election in the 1980s, but cannot come close to doing so now.

Alberto, I heard that Netanyahu and Obama don't get along well at all. Perhaps there is hope for the U.S. no longer wedding its policy to Israel's anymore.

By the way, perhaps you know the answer to this question although I am sure that I could easily look it up. Who votes in Israel? Only Jews? Only Jewish men? If so, how can the United States continue to tolerate this system. I say this because I have noticed that all the politicians in Israel seem to be Jewish, but I have heard that a around half if not more, of the population in Israel is Palestinian.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 39 weeks ago

Obama says he's 'fully supportive' of Israel

President Barack Obama Sunday strongly backed Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks by the Hamas, but said everyone should want a decrease in the violence that has erupted in the region for days.

Gaza death toll soars despite calls for truce

Number of Palestinians killed rises to 94 after sixth day of air raids, as UN secretary-general calls for ceasefire.

Three people, including two children, were killed and 30 others were injured in an air raid before dawn on Monday on a family home in the Zeitoun neighbourhood in Gaza City, medical officials said.

Gaza health officials said at least 23 children and several women have been killed since Israel's attacks from the air and warships began on Wednesday.

Hundreds of others have been wounded, and Palestinian hospitals are struggling to cope.

In the single deadliest attack of the Israeli operation so far, 12 civilians were killed in Sunday's air attack on a four-storey house in northern Gaza City, health officials said.

Two or three missiles fired by F-16 fighter jets reduced the house in the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood to rubble, witnesses said.

Five women, including one 80-year-old, and four small children were among the dead, Kidra said.

The Israeli military said they had mistakenly bombed the home due to a technical error while targeting a senior Hamas official, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

The report said the military admitted killing mainly "unarmed civilians, including children and infants", and that the source of the error was either the failure to paint the target of the attack on the correct site or that one of the munitions in the strike misfired.

Earlier, medical sources in Gaza said at least three children - including an 18-month-old infant - and two women were killed in an air raid east of Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 39 weeks ago

NL, if you truly want to know about Israel's supposed "democracy" you only need to search the Internet. Here're a few paragraphs from an essay by a direct descendent of one of Israel's founders that appeared in the New York Times. But you need to read the entire essay, not just the few paragraphs that I've pasted here. Following that I've pasted the web address for an essay from UK's NewStatesman. Read it, then continue searching the Internet. i've also pasted a couple more web sites, including one or two of activists from within Israel itself.

Israel’s Fading Democracy


Published: August 4, 2012

BUT something went wrong in the operating system of Jewish democracy. We never gave much thought to the Palestinian Israeli citizens within the Jewish-democratic equation. We also never tried to separate the synagogue and the state. If anything, we did the opposite. Moreover, we never predicted the evil effects of brutally controlling another people against their will. Today, all the things that we neglected have returned and are chasing us like evil spirits.

The winds of isolation and narrowness are blowing through Israel. Rude and arrogant power brokers, some of whom hold senior positions in government, exclude non-Jews from Israeli public spaces. Graffiti in the streets demonstrates their hidden dreams: a pure Israel with “no Arabs” and “no gentiles.” They do not notice what their exclusionary ideas are doing to Israel, to Judaism and to Jews in the diaspora. In the absence of a binding constitution, Israel has no real protection for its minorities or for their freedom of worship and expression.

If this trend continues, all vestiges of democracy will one day disappear, and Israel will become just another Middle Eastern theocracy. It will not be possible to define Israel as a democracy when a Jewish minority rules over a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea — controlling millions of people without political rights or basic legal standing.

This Israel would be much more Jewish in the narrowest sense of the word, but such a nondemocratic Israel, hostile to its neighbors and isolated from the free world, wouldn’t be able to survive for long.

Read this and do continue your research, NL. Surely you see the contradiction here, that a "Jewish State" cannot be a "Democratic State"?

Is Israel a democracy or an ethnocracy?

Defenders of the Jewish state have unwittingly kicked off a much-needed debate about national identiy

And yet another:

And from inside Israel itselfL

This compilation is from an Israeli activist group, Israeli citizens. Click on the arrow to move from one statement to another:

Alberto Ceras 6 years 39 weeks ago

And read this book:

Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy

Ben White (Author),Book Description

Release Date: December 20, 2011 | ISBN-10: 0745332285 | ISBN-13: 978-0745332284

Palestinians in Israel considers a key issue ignored by the official "peace process" and most mainstream commentators: that of the growing Palestinian minority within Israel itself. What the Israeli right-wing calls "the demographic problem," Ben White identifies as "the democratic problem," which goes to the heart of the conflict. Israel defines itself not as a state of its citizens, but as a Jewish state, despite the substantial and increasing Palestinian population. White demonstrates how the consistent emphasis on privileging one ethno-religious group over another cannot be seen as compatible with democratic values and that, unless addressed, will undermine any attempts to find a lasting peace. Individual case studies are used to complement this deeply informed study into the great, unspoken contradiction of Israeli democracy. It is a pioneering contribution which will spark debate among all those concerned with a resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Scroll down Amazon's page. Both the publisher's reviews and the customer's reviews could answer some of your questions.

NL, you once mentioned that you were thinking of writing a blog on willful ignorance. Might be an appropriate time.

nimblecivet 6 years 39 weeks ago

Ask and ye shall receive, lol. Thanks, Alberto. If we can't share what we each know then what's the point of this forum except to run around in the same circles over and over again. As you may have noticed, this is a webpage and therefore is "the internet."

I wouldn't make to much of this row over Obama. I think it can distract from a more substantive conversation. Yes, its true, the focus on Obama's ideological framework became evident rather quickly. And yes, there's a certain degree of complicity IMHO amongst Obanauts in "spinning" his presidency and making the case for voting for him or trying to get him to be the leader we would like him to be. But so what? Find any progressive campaign on any issue and there will be a substantial range of opinions on Obama which the people there have. But it makes no difference to the fundamental strategy necessary to advance that issue.

It is interesting from a psychological perspective though. I think a lot of disaffected Obama voters are playing the role of a child who is learning to challenge parental authority. A child will come up with all sorts of clever arguments to get what they want, and sometimes they are right in the first place. But while this is a challenge in a certain sense, its not a challenge to the fundamental authority of the parent itself. It is a challenge to the moral authority of the parent but not the parent's power. It is an appeal presented as a demand. Occupy too was little more than a temper tantrum. As far as I can recall wealth and income inequality were already subjects of "the national discourse."

But, at the local level there have been successes, so how do we recapture the energy that Occupy tapped as a mass movement and channel it into productive outlets? I think some sort of national level Congress of progressive groups is in order, even if only an exploratory committee acting without official sanction from any particular group or faction. But unfortunately I don't think I'm in a position to do that all by my lonesome. The Green Party, for example, could be seen as a potential umbrella to gather under, but actually would be only part of the delegation to such a congress which would include all variety and types of parties, campaigns, etc. The result in the end would have to be party politics, whether it taking the Democratic party out of the hands of the corporatocrats or forming a new party to challenge the Democratic party. I think reforming the Democratic party is far more realistic given the name recognition that its "supposed to be" the left's party (I vehemently disagree with Norske though I forgot if or when I changed my mind: left=democracy), with there only being a few races where the Democrat has the "safe" seat and can be challenged by a more lefter candidate.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 39 weeks ago

Hello Alberto, since I didn't see a direct answer to my question, I did some internet research, and found that a: Palestinians are more of a minority than I thought they were. Approximately 80% of Israels population is Jewish. Most of the rest are Palestinian Muslims, with some Christians and Druze. (I always wonder how they know what people really believe. Clearly, they are referring to people's ethnic background rather than actual religious beliefs). I also found that b: Non-Jews do have voting rights in Israel, and 8 members of the Knesset are Palestinian. However, those living in areas claimed by Jews are denied their voting rights. Also, the Israeli system has been compared to aparthied, with widespread discrimination against non-Jews in Israel not unlike Jim Crow laws in the U.S. despite every person's equal rights being officially guaranteed. Thus, the answer to my question is complicated.

Alberto, I also saw a liberal Jewish site that complained of Obama's recent support of Netanyahu's policies. However, Obama isn't always supportive of Netanyahu and probably won't be in Netanyahu goes too far. Perhaps a more liberal leader will be elected in the upcoming elections.

I agree with you Alberto, that the idea of a religious state seems incompatible with democracy. I have always felt that religion based government was a horrible idea: That includes any religion, including Israel's Jewish state, Muslim or Christian states, or any other.

I forgot about the willful ignorance blog post idea. Thanks for reminding me, although I don't know what reminded you of it. I should write it before too long in that case.

Thanks for your excellent comments, Nimblecivet.

I pretty much agree with you on everything in your post. It's interesting that you characterize OWS as a "temper tantrum." It seems to me that conservatives have had more temper tantrums in recent years than progressives, but our side finally has had one. Remember the conservative temper tantrum that got the sperminator elected here in California? I think that was the last hurrah for conservatives in this state. And of course, there was the Tea Party temper tantrum of 2010. I am guessing that will turn out to be the last hurrah of the national conservative-Republican movement. On the other hand, I think OWS represents a beginning -- part of a beginning, actually, along with the connectivity of the internet. I agree that OWS is about things that were already part of the national discourse. I think the role of the internet has been underrated as a political force, but nothing gets media attention like protesters in the streets.

I also agree that both the Green Party and the Democratic Party represent opportunities for progressives to insert themselves into the political process. We can work to replace Blue Dog Dems with more progressive ones, and I believe there is an organization which is involved in doing that, although I forgot its name, but it could always use more support. Meanwhile, supporting the Greens whenever feasible is a good option, perhaps the best one.

Just something to think about: I want to mention a couple of social psychological terms that I am often reminded of when reading posts on this site or other sites. One is called the fundamental attribution error, which refers to the tendency of people to attribute another person's actions too much to that person's character and too little to situational influences. That could apply to our perceptions of each other as well as to our perceptions of public figures. The other is stereotyping, which we have all heard of and are familiar with. Stereotyping means failing to take into account the differences between people and lumping a category of people together as all alike, as in all Black people/Jewish people/politicians are crooks.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 39 weeks ago

Nothing will change - no movement can hope for success - so long as the majority of the public remains uninformed. My objective has been to open a few eyes to what I perceive to be the true state of affairs. I'm not concerned right now with SS, medical care, climate change and other issues however important those issues may be. I'm concerned with the U.S.'s wars, its wanton slaughter, its extralegal killings of U.S. citizens, its destruction of whatever semblance of representative government remains. I am particularly concerned about the U.S.'s and Obama's unqualified support for Israel and I`m especially concerned about the plight of the Palestinians. I'm worrried that the Middle Eastern conflicts will escalate due to Israeli and U.S. actions. I'm concerned about the drones that Obama and his CIA send to Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and (???) that kill women, old people, children and infants under the guise of stopping terrorism. Israel and the United States are the world's only terrorist nations and until people understand this - and so much more - nothing of consequence is going to change. Direct answers? No answer is direct enough for a closed mind.

Robindell's picture
Robindell 6 years 39 weeks ago

Alberto Ceras is not an historical expert on Judaism, nor is he an expert on the historical and cultural problems that have created Muslim fundamentalist extremists and terrorists. If someone hates the United States, then why live in this particular country? Political ideology is not the same thing as scholarship and objectivity. I don't appreciate the self-righteous hypocrisy of these rather intemperate and not well-reasoned or well-thought-out comments.

Natural Lefty, if you were to consult with an actual historian, I think you would find that rewriting history is not how historians spend their time. Israel exists. Intensive hatred and bigotry directed toward one group and the subsequent killing of over 6 million Jews, as well as gypsies, Catholics, disabled people, Russians, Americans, and Germans who disobeyed Hitler, is that something that you as a progressive are willing to minimize or even overlook? I think you need to spend some time reviewing this chapter in history, because I personally believe that professional educators have done an inadequate job of teaching this and certain other tragic episodes and eras from the past to students, perhaps because some of the educators standing in front of the classroom are themselves not sufficiently well-read and knowledgeable about these periods and events. There have been cutbacks in education, and teachers may be unfairly blamed for the cultural circumstances that limit outcomes, but I don't think there are enough really good teachers out there. A program I recently saw on a local PBS station had a woman who apparently was an educator saying that she has been told by new teachers just starting off, on the first day in which they are standing in front of a class as full-fledged teachers, that felt that they were insufficiently prepared to know how to teach their students. Obviously, they were prepared by college professors supervising their training as teachers. In my state, there has been a decrease in the number of college students selecting education as their major.

It's one thing to disagree with certain decisions in foreign policy; it is a sign of immorality to justify and otherwise excuse the insanity of someone like the late Osama Bin Ladden as having been caused by the United States. This idea that the United States is the center of all that is evil is rubbish. Maybe that is not the intent; if so, find a better, more precise way of expressing what it is that you are trying to say. Israel is a small country and they don't have enough leaders who will put their foot down when needed but who are willing to compromise. Don't expect the Jews, however, to endure another Holcaust.

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Natural Lefty 6 years 39 weeks ago

Alberto, I agree that education is the key to progress. Educating people is one of the most important reasons that we are here on this site. However, people may still disagree about what is really going on, which complicates the matter.

Robindell, I was wondering what you were up to. I thought you might want to comment on the original theme of this thread, but as with all long threads, the themes have changed as it has gone on. I believe you are of Jewish extraction, are you not. I had a Jewish friend when I was a child (one of several Jewish friends) who had the same last name as you. (I saw it on your profile before.)

I don't think anyone other than a few Muslim fanatics perhaps, wants Jews to endure another Holocaust. I think a lot of Americans, Jewish or not, are frustrated at the continuing religious conflict in the region, however, and wondering why people in that area cannot learn to get along with each other. I think it's both sides' fault, and I think it also is a result of the idea of a "Jewish state" as opposed to simply having nations where Jews can feel safe and know that their rights will be respected. I think the United States is an example of such a place, as are some other nations. I also think it's a universal principle of culture and psychology that people become militant when they are displaced, whether it is native tribes in the United States, Jewish peoples or Palestinians. Perhaps that has something to do with why the Jewish-Palestinian/Muslim conflict lingers for so long. If Jewish refugees had gone to some large, uninhabited land where they could become established, we wouldn't be having this problem. Unfortunately, no such place exists nor has existed for quite some time on this planet. The peoples of the world will have to learn to get along with each other.

I too get frustrated with the idea that the United States/Obama/Israel/Whomever is the world headquarters of evil. That attitude is largely what I have been arguing with Alberto and others about on this thread.

My comments about the Fundamental Attribution Error and stereotyping in fact, are a gentle attempt to allay this type of thinking.

Robindell's picture
Robindell 6 years 38 weeks ago

I appreciate Natural Lefty that you are trying to bring some realism to the evaluation of our president. Let's just suppose for the sake of argument that prior to the election, the U.S. was again hit by some kind of attack which turned out to be carried out by foreigners of the Isalamic persuation. Imagine all the criticism that would have been directed toward the president, saying that such an attack would prove that he was weak on defense, or that not enough was done to protect us and to eliminate potential terrorists. The Republicans can get away with incidents involving attacks on Americans, be they military personnel stationed in the Middle East, as happened when Reagan was president and there was an attack on barracks housing U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, wasn't it, or the infamous 9/11 attacks early in Bush's presidency. Obama has had to bend over backwards to demonstate that he is doing a great deal to avoid another tragic incident involving Muslim extremists. As president, a major part of his job as Commander in Chief is to keep Americans and America safe. As a psychologist, NL is well aware that there are irrationale people in this world who are dangerous and are oriented toward violence. In fact, a recent discussion I heard on the radio about foreign policy concerns had one panelist who said that he thought that the Obama administration, in the future, will either stop or at least futher reduce the number of drone missions because the Pakistanis are upset and angered by them, understandably so, because of the collateral deaths of innocent civilians and the whole idea that the U.S. has to invade their air space to carry out the attacks. We will have to stay tuned to see what happens.

Regarding Obama's moderate views, I think it is difficult to present oneself as a progressive because of the Republican attack machine, including Fox News. A majority of people are in favor of raising taxes somewhat on the top earners of income rather than sticking it to the middle class, and polls previously indicated, when Congress was writing and debating the health care law, that a majority of citizens wanted to see a public, governmentally provided health insurance option.
One of the problems that any Democratic president would have faced is our huge national deficit and debt. The government is not in a good position to carry out its responsibilities, and the issue cannot be resolved quickly, because the amount that is owed and the shortfall of revenues to expenses are so great. Even though many economists argued in favor of even a larger stimulus than that which was passed, I myself am a bit more fiscally cautious and would have liked to see a smaller increase in the growth of federal spending, under the circumstances, during Obama's first term. At the same time, I would have wanted the government leaders to rearrange the spending priorities to find more money to help fund housing for the homeless. Homelessness must be the most neglected national issue and crisis that we have in this country. Smilely and West have criticized the overall electoral process and political system for almost entirely ignoring poverty. Did anyone see the recent PBS Frontline program called "Poor Children"? It was truly heartbreaking. The program mostly had the voices of children whose parents are poor.

Smiley and West have gone on poverty tours, coauthored a book on poverty, and have criticized the electoral and political process for ignoring the problem and potential solutions for poverty; they have certainly been controversial in Democratic circles for citing Obama for not being sufficiently progressive and on more than one issue.

I don't think the country is quite ready for someone who is more progressive. More public education on the issues is clearly imperative. Maybe NL can take a sabatical as professors often do and can become a kind of "Johnny Appleseed" and travel thoughout the West, South, and Midwest, bringing new information and ideas to parts of the country that are closed off from progress.

According to research that I did for a paper I once wrote on Israel in school, a majority of Israelis are not religious and are considered to be "secular Jews." The Orthodox formed a coaltion and managed to get laws passed requiring that the country keep the Sabbath by shutting everything down, including traffic, staring on sundown Friday nights. Many Israelis don't keep Kosher or follow the Sabbath other than the national laws that the Orthodox were able to have passed. In many ways, Judiam in Israel is more of a matter of heritage and nationality than religion. Of course, some observant Jews move to Israel from the U.S., Europe, or elsewhere so that they can worship with their own people. It is not always the safest place in the world, but at least they have a sense of belonging there that has been lacking for thousands of years for Jews in many places. There are some Orthodox American Jews who are against the existence of the State of Israel. They believe that the Jews are not intended or entitled to have their own country until the coming of the Messiah. That is the whole point, that the Messiah will make it possible for Jews to have their own country where they could then live happily everafter in peace. For the Jews, this is not the return of the Messiah, because they don't believe that Christ was the son of God. To answer your question from your post, I am the product of a mixed marriage. My mother was raised as a Presbytarian, whereas my father's parents were both Jewish. He was from a German city that now is in Poland and left Germany as a child to immigrate to America, entrying through Ellis Island, to get away from the Nazis. We had a lawyer in the family who helped facilitate the process. Later, another German lawyer was involved with the receipt of reparation money. All of the known, living relatives of each victim had to share one lump sum. I would imagine that both East Germany and West Germany had to pay into the fund, but I am not sure of the legalities of the settlement that the Germans had to follow after the war.

I choose the screen name "Robindell" pretty much by accident one day. I happened to be using a Dell computer, and thought of Robin Hood and combined the two when I was signing up for some Web site and needed a name. I liked the way it sounded, so I used it when I signed up here.

I somewhat resemble NL in appearence. I wear glasses, have dark hair, and a mustchache. I think you may be a little hefter and maybe somewhat taller than am I. I didn't know that you used to work in statistics at the University of California at Riverside. The reason I know these things is that I recently found your personal Web page and saw your picture and read your autobiographical description. I have difficult signing onto facebook, but I have a way of responding to mail they sent me, so perhaps I will be able to get on there one day and search for your Facebook page, also.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 38 weeks ago

I checked my statcounter recently and there was a person from Indiana on my blogsite. That must have been you, Robindell. I mostly use that site to store my blog posts, and organize them, actually.

Well, now I know the origin of the name "Robindell." Actually, I know a lot more about you now. In fact, Zenzoe, Nimblecivet, Dhavid (although he has sort of disappeared), and I are friends on Facebook and communicate there, too. Actually, I know all of their real names, as well. I think I told them my Facebook name on this site at some point. If you type my real name, you will probably get my namesake cousin or some other person with my name. I am not under Natural Lefty there, either. Try typing my wife's name, Zunliang on Facebook. I just did that, and it gives all the info you need to know in order to identify us, although there are 4 Zunliangs on Facebook.

I used to do a lot of statistical programming in the psychology department at U.C. Riverside, mostly for my graduate advisor. Nowadays, I seem to be widely recognized around Moreno Valley. Today is our 11th anniversary, so we went to a restaurant, and the gal who seated us is a former student and we recognized each other immediately. In fact, I think both she and her brother are friends of mine on Facebook as well.

That's an interesting story about your family. I am somewhat reminded of my good friend Simon Yee, who would appear to be a Chinese American, but his mother is actually a Japanese immigrant, so he is bicultural and speaks neither Chinese nor Japanese.

I am somewhat surprised that most Israeli Jews are non-religious. Somehow, one gets the impression that there is a lot of religious fundamentalism or fanaticism among Israelis. I understand the value of having a common culture and sense of belonging. Unfortunately, the world is not so simple as to provide unspoiled opportunities to create a new society in this day and age. Just about every land is occupied now other than Antarctica. Perhaps it will be habitable soon too, with global warming. I think an optimal outcome for the Israel situation would be one in which Israelis and other peoples including Palestinians learn to live harmoniously there under a secular, socialist democratic government -- where people of whatever background will feel safe and respected. It seems to me that a lot of people in the Israel region don't feel particularly safe, and some don't feel that their rights are being respected, either. Moreover, this small nation seems to absorb a lot of international effort and attention because of the constant tensions and conflict there. I am reminded that my college undergraduate friend from Pitzer College, Harold, moved to Israel and changed his name to a Hebrew name, not long after graduating from college. He was Jewish and very much into the culture. I forget what he even changed his name to and haven't heard from him in a long time, but I remember we went camping once, and the people in the campsite next to us just happened to be Israeli Jews.

Getting back to issues, you make a good point about the pressure on Democrats to present themselves as "tough" on foreign policy, a pressure which Republicans don't seem to share. I think women politicians also have this unfortunate burden in today's political atmosphere in the U.S.

You also make a good point about the difficulty of presenting oneself as a progressive in the current political atmosphere in this nation. The right wing attack machine has been very ferocious and claimed to represent the majority of Americans. However, I think it becoming clear that this is no longer true, if it ever was. I have great hope that politicians will realize in the coming years that the people by and large are well to the left of the political system, and that they will consequently move to the left, or we will elect a more progressive government, rather than politicians trying to move us to the right, or ignorning the will of the people.

There was another point you made about drone missions and Pakistan. I too hope the drone missions will be curtailed or eliminated in the near future, and I think it is quite possible. As I recall, Pakistan was about the only nation in which Obama's re-election was not welcomed.

People often say I look Jewish or Italian, which is strange because I am neither. I have some tanning capacity, hair and eye color characteristics from my maternal grandmother that give me this mediterranean appearance that I don't share with my immediate family members. My parents' caretaker, Mia, said she thought I didn't have a good appetite, which definitely isn't true, but my wife thought she must have said that because I am lighter than either of my brothers. That isn't saying much, though. My wife loves to feed me, which is part of the problem even though we eat a health conscious diet. I am of very average height, actually, 5 feet, 9 inches, but I felt tall at Thanksgiving yesterday since I was the tallest person there by several inches. I also felt tall when I was in Taiwan last summer, although there are a lot of tall young adults in Taiwan nowadays.

Robindell's picture
Robindell 6 years 38 weeks ago

In that case, I am a little taller than are you, by 2 inches. I think people all over the world except for certain native tribual cultures such as the Australian aborigines, are taller and heavier than were earlier generations. An auditorium in Chicago underwent a refurbishing several years ago, and they had to install wider seats to accomodate the larger audiences of today. Some environmentalists have complained that today's humans require more food to be satisfied than in the past, when people were physically smaller. My father came from a middle class family in Germany and so did not grow up poor, but he was fairly short, quite a bit shorter than me. His height, though, seemed rather common for Europeans, Jewish or non-Jewish alike, from that earlier time.

My father was poorly treated by a Jewish foster family who he lived with in Chicago. They considered him to be just a boarder and a second-class citizen, so he left the household after finishing school and stuck out on his own in America.

There are a lot of Jewish religious fanatics in Israel, but I am pretty sure that they are in a minority. My interest in Israel, for instances, is purely historical and cultural, not religious. Those of us who have a Jewish heritage tend to be a bit paranoid in the sense that there is still a deep awareness not only of the Holocaust, but of the history of Jews having to leave their home countries due to persecution and prejudice, of being forced to live in a ghetto, or even of having been enslaved by the Egyptians in Biblical times. People with Jewish last names, including me, at one time could not join country clubs in the U.S., and may not have been admitted to certain private schools and colleges or universities. I think the Israelis are mostly concerned with their safety, given the history of attacks and bombings. In the Knesset, my understanding is that there are non-Jewish, palestinian representatives who get elected to serve the people of their particular districts. There certainly are Muslims and Christians who live in the country. Israel is of interest because its complexity. It has a democratic parliamentary system. The Knesset was established in 1949.

To clarify what I wrote previously, I consulted a reference work, the Encylopedia of Judaism, by Sara E. Karesh and Mitchell H. Hurvitz (Facts on File: 2006, p. 275): "The system can give a disproportionate degree of power to small political parties, which are needed to form coalitions of at least 61 Knesset members. Critics say, for example, that the smaller parties affiliated with Orthodox Judaism have often used this power to maintain their control over certain features of religious observance in Israel, and to receive special subsidies for religious education, programming, and institutions."

My mother, who as I said was not Jewish, visited the library of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and found the names of my grandparents listed in a reference work on those who died at the hands of the Germans in the Holocaust. I also have visited the musuem and the library. It is located next door to the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving, where they print the Almighty dollar, which I found a bit ironic and funny, despite the serious nature of the museum. When I was there, the museum had a display on the first floor which discussed how the Nazis started off, even before they had the concentration camps, with dangerous and often deadly experiments which their doctors carried out on disabled children and adults. (As you know, several years ago, an anti-Semitic man entered the lobby of the building and fatally shot a security guard.) There are critics of the musem because it takes something that is really beyond normal human comprehension and turns it into a collection of exhibits which you can walk through in a few hours or less. I could see that trying to take something so vast and present it on a human scale could be construed as being objectionable by some, but I still think it is worth visiting the museum (as well as the library upstairs) to see their presentation of the facts and garner some of the mood that is being conveyed.

Despite the controversial nature of some Israeli military operations over the years, even among some Jews in Israel and among many liberal American Jews, the country is just so much more advanced and concerned with the rights of its citizens than any of its neighboring countries. Look at what is happening not only in Syria, which is upsetting Turkey now, but in Egypt, where their new president Morsi has seized powers for himself which has resulted in new political protests in that country. There have been attempts by artists at fostering peace. Classical pianist and conductor and former Chicago Symphony music director Daniel Barenboim, who was born in Argentina but later moved with his family to Israel, created an orchestra made up of both young Israeli Jewish and palestinian Arab/Muslim muscians. The orchestra tours different countries and has played nearby in Chicago. Israel itself has several professional orchestra, the most famous of which is the Israel Philharmanic, which made recordings with Leonard Bernstein and is conducted by other well-known conductors.

My mother was raised by her grandmother and step-grandfather in the South and had a lot of psychological/emotional difficulties. She was in the Navy during WWII and took up hair styling/beautician training, drawing, and some other fields without fininishing a complete training program or getting any degree. She sort of stuggled with having a purpose in life other than raising me and my sister. She took a course in ceramics and pottery at the local middle school (the town then only had one junior high school, but has grown and now has two). She had the same art teacher I had in school, who told me that my trees looked like telephone poles with sticks sticking out of them, and who picked up my ash tray, a work still in progress, asked the class, "Who's is this?", and promptly tossed it into the circular file. My mother really took to ceramics, and became a professional potter. In the basement, we had electric kilns, an electric pottery wheel, many tools used by artists, and many glaze compounds. Eventually, my mother with the help of me and outside consultants built a gas pottery kiln using special refractory bricks. She never got an art degree but studied independently at the Art Institutute of Chicago, and the art departments of Valpariso University and the University of Nortre Dame in South Bend. Our family went to many art fairs, and years later, for several years, my mother had her own pottery gallery in town. Outside of town in a rural location, there was an older woman who was a rather famous potter who had her own gallery where she made a living selling her ceramics. My mother knew her and many other artists, especially in the ceramics and pottery field. Art did not cure all of my mother's psychological problems, but it provided her with some income so she could travel and buy things that she otherwise would not be able to afford on my father's salary, and she said that it prevented her from having a complete meltdown by giving her meaning and purpose which she otherwise wouldn't have. She had always been good using her hands, but I was the typical Jewish stereotype, not being mechanically or manually inclined, although I did play the violin for many years, but was like Jack Benny, not that good. Jack Benny actually played better than he let on as a comedian, but he was not a great musician, no Hefitz, who incidentally lived in California and taught violin, at USC I believe.

We have a long way to go in the U.S., economically, politically, and culturally. I noticed that you have a new post on capitalism, so I will have to read that next.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 38 weeks ago

My mother also made a lot of pottery in the past. She had a potter's wheel and a kiln at home, and she sold pots at the Riverside Art Center. She didn't need the money, but she liked doing pottery. She also gave a lot of pots away I think, and kept a lot of them.

I am not that good with my hands, either. I am more like my father in that way. But I manage to get by to do what I need to do.

The increase in peoples' height and size is called the secular effect. It has been quite substantial over the past few centuries, but like the growth of capitalism, it has reached its limit, fortunately, except in primitive areas. Another secular effect is the decrease in age of puberty. It's a good thing that puberty has stopped getting earlier and earlier.

I forgot to mention I have a friend on Facebook whose father is Jewish but his mother grew up in a Protestant home. He is an out of work Psychiatrist, so he has been having some major problems. His family name is not recognizable to me as a Jewish one, though.

I too worry about what will happen in arab nations where people are protesting, The way Syria's government is behaving is abominable. I know that self determination is a good thing, but it won't do any good if tyrants end up being replaced by other tyrants, and Islamic fundamentalist governments which might be elected are a likely recipe for disaster. Nonetheless, I think we must support the democratic process and let the peoples of the region find their way, IMHO. Eventually, they should figure out how to avoid tyrants and extremist thinking -- the sooner the better.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 38 weeks ago
Quote Robindell:

If someone hates the United States, then why live in this particular country?

I have not lived in the United States for more than 20 years. It is a hateful country. Do you have, Robindell, one of those cute bumper stickers "Love it or leave it?"

Why am I at all interested in the U.S. and its policies? For reasons not unlike those of the relatives of the several hundred civilians killed by Obama's drones (see today's Democracy Now) and the parents of the 30 or 40 Palestinian children freshly slaughtered during Isarel's latest test of its U.S. subsidised armaments.

From today's (Nov. 26) Democracy Now

According to the New York Times, the United States has killed some 2,500 people in more than 300 drone strikes since President Obama took office.

From CNN this past September:

(CNN) -- U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed far more people than the United States has acknowledged, have traumatized innocent residents and largely been ineffective, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The study by Stanford Law School and New York University's School of Law calls for a re-evaluation of the practice, saying the number of "high-level" targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low -- about 2%.

There is, Robindell, a difference between Jew, Israeli and Zionist. The Zionists were - are - wrong, Israel is (as Turkey's prime minister Erdogan noted recently) a terrorist nation, a nation born of terrorism and a nation that continues to use it as a major constituent of its foreign policy. It is entirely possible I assure you, Robindell, to despise both Zionists and Israel while vehemently opposing intolerance of Jews (or any other race or group of people).

I wrote this some time back for DailyKos but it's still relevant, maybe even more so:

Today there are two terrorist nations that pose immediate threats to world peace, to the entire world’s safety and security - perhaps civilization’s very existence. They are Israel and the United States of America. Evil nations, both.
Israel, born of terror, has used (continues to use) terror throughout its brief history as the principal means of achieving its goals of territorial expansion and Mideast supremacy. If the nations of the world had a collective sense of morality they would not allow Israel’s bloody terrorism to continue. There are no innocent bystanders here.
Had there been no Israel there might never have been a 9/11, almost certainly there would not have been Mubarak’s 30 year oppressive, dictatorial reign nor would the peoples of Near and Mideast have been plagued by the several other cruel dictatorships that owe their very existence to the United States of America. There would not have been an Iraq war, nor the ongoing, seemingly endless war in Afghanistan. No Guantanamo, no Patriot Act, no renditions... well, the list could go on.
Israel, the nation, has no legitimate, moral claim to existence. It would be better to peacefully remove it. Absent Israel the U.S.A. might in time recover its sanity although I have doubts. Obama offers no hope at all and no charismatic leader of proven moral stature has appeared.
Those of you too young to remember Israel’s tragic, bloody birth but who would like to become informed might start with a viewing of Simone Bitton’s documentary, Palestine: Story of a Land. You can download the film, in parts and in French, free on the Internet. I can find no English language version for free download but it can be rented or purchased or even borrowed. Here below are sources. Don’t mistake Simone Bitton’s film for another by Tom Hayes that uses almost the same name. They aren’t the same. This is the one to see:
Palestine: Story of a Land. 2 parts each 60 min., 1993. This two-part video uses only rare archival and newsreel footage to recount the story of Palestine from the late nineteenth century through the Zionist movement, the creation of Israel, the first Intifada and the Madrid Peace Conference. Produced by Simone Bitton.

In English, 2 parts 60 minutes each, for rent or sale:
Free loan of the film may still be arranged through the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, The Mideast Center:
You may also be able to borrow the film from NYU’s Near Eastern Studies center (MIDDLE EAST AND ISLAMIC WORLD VIDEO COLLECTION):

Part I: 1880 - 1950
1993, 60 min., 2", Color, H,U,G.
Beginning with the earliest mass migration of European Jews to Palestine, this video guides viewers through the persecution of European Jews and development of the Zionist ideal, the early view of Palestine as "a land without people for a people without land", and post-WW II events leading to the founding of Israel. Explores with a critical eye the gradual displacement of the native population, their disadvantageous position in world politics, and illustrates how resistance to colonialism (beginning with the British mandate) was at the root of Arab resistance to a Jewish state. Valuable especially for 19th century photographs of Palestine and early footage shot by the Lumières and by a local Jewish filmmaker that reveal much about the way in which Palestine was viewed on the world stage and by Jewish immigrants. [AGF] Directed by Simone Bitton.

Part II: 1950- 1991
1993, 60 min., 2", Color, H,U,G.
Covering the period from the founding of Israel to the Madrid peace conference, the second installment introduces key figures - Arafat, Begin, Nasser, Rabin, Sadat, Shamir, and others - and traces their roles and the evolution of conflict between the Israelis, Palestinians and neighboring Arab countries. Close attention paid to Israeli government, Arab countries, and PLO stances over time grounds events in a political and historical context, and illustrates the range of attitudes among leaders. Video deals with terrorist acts, political strategies, and peace offers as they were acted out by Israelis and Palestinians. Note: Brief footage of bombings and torture are quite graphic. [AGF] Directed by Simone Bitton.
The site below has it In French - free - in some 13 or so parts:
Get you hands on a copy. Call in your friends and neighbors. Watch and discuss a significant part of history. In addition to this splendid documentary there’s Simone Bitton’s acclaimed film "The Wall" that I also recommend.

Robindell's picture
Robindell 6 years 38 weeks ago

I don't accept your comments about Israel or about your alleged tolerance. As far as I can tell, you are not Jewish. You don't really know your history.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 38 weeks ago

That's quite alright, Robindell. You needn't "accept" my comments. Truth trumps acceptance. If you find errors in my knowledge of history please point them out and correct them. Knowledge advances that way. No doubt many people view the world through familial, racial or other biases that do not allow them to make objective judgments. NaturalLefty may have studied this "circle the wagons" behavior - the unfortunate but altogether human tendency to create "the other."

Al Jazeera reports that forensic experts took samples from Yasser Arafat's body this morning. What will they discover? What debate, what anger, will their findings - or lack of them - provoke? Denials, press releases at the ready? How might it affect Palestinians' bid for non-member status?

Futile I suppose, but for those who may be interested I've pasted a few Internet addresses to visit. The first is an updated web address for Simone Bitton's "Palestine" film in French:

This interview of Bitton by Cineaste concerns a more recent documentary:

Although Bitton, a fifty-five-year-old Israeli citizen and ex-soldier who grew up in Morocco and divides her time between Israel and France, doesn’t attempt to mask her own antigovernment stance, she is never intrusive: she lets the evidence speak for itself. One example: the long gap in an official videotape of the incident just at the point the driver hits Rachel.

This web address offers a good many films and videos about the Palestine/Israel situation:

For example, this brief discription is just one of the several videos offered at that site: Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times

60 min. 2002. Video.

Power and Terror presents the latest in Noam Chomsky's thinking through interviews and talks he gave during the spring of 2002. As he has done countless times since September 11, Chomsky places that terrorist attack in the context of American foreign intervention throughout the postwar decades--in Vietnam, Central America, the Middle East, and elsewhere. Beginning with the fundamental principle that the exercise of violence against civilian populations is terror, regardless of whether the perpetrator is a well-organized band of Muslim extremists or a powerful state, Chomsky challenges the United States to apply to its own actions the moral standards it demands of others. tel: 800-876-1710; fax: 718-488-8642

Remember Nimblecivet's love, Arundhati Roy?

Arundhati Roy on Obama’s Wars, India and Why Democracy Is "The Biggest Scam in the World"

At the web address above you'll find, if you are sufficiently curious, past interviews from Democracy Now's archives. They might refresh memories.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 38 weeks ago

Alberto, Ronbindell is no raging Israel supporter, from what he has written on this site. But his father is of Jewish background although his mother is not, and he has studied Israeli culture and history quite a bit.

I have studied the "circle the wagon" phenomenon and many other related phenomena as well. Certainly, people tend to be stuck in their own perspectives. For example, the False Consensus Bias finds that people tend to overestimate the degree to which their views represent the norm. I think regarding the United States, Israel, and the middle east, the middle easterners have become the underdogs. They are at a tremendous disadvantage; at least the average middle easterner is, while middle eastern royalty lives it up on oil money. This tends to evoke sympathy for them, well meaning and justified when innocents become victims of the policies of more powerful nations. I don't think the United States or Israel is acting any worse, sadly, than middle eastern autocrats do. Look at what is happening in Syria with their kings campaign of violence against those who protest his rule. The saying about power corrupting people comes to mind, but personally, I don't think it needs to be true or is always true. Perhaps the problem is that power tends to attract the wrong sort of people. There are some uncorruptible politicians out there, though.

From where I sit, the United States must look very different than it does from where you are. I have a cousin from Texas who thought Romney was probably going to win the election, not because he was for Romney, but my guess is that was because in his social millieu, Romney was the clear winner. I saw in our recent election that real progress is being made, from my perspective.

Given the history of the holocaust, it is understandable that Jews feel on the defensive, although it is something I think they need to get over in order to create a more stable and lasting peace in Israel.

I don't think democracy is the biggest scam in the world: rather, I think religion is. I think that democracy is sometimes a scam, but not usually a total scam. In other words, the will of the people is usually an influence on politicians. Sadly, money, lobbyists and financial oligarchs are usually a bigger influence on them.

By the way, did you hear that Arafat's body is being exhumed to find oiut if he was poisoned with Polonium?

Alberto Ceras 6 years 38 weeks ago

NaturalLefty, there is no king of Syria. Al-Assad was elected as President of Syria in 2000 and 2007, unopposed each time.

You haven't read my comments carefully, NL, not that it surprises me. I'm occasionally guilty as well. We can get so eager to set down our own comments that we don't take time to read another's. If you read my comment just above your last one you'll see that I mentioned the exhumation of Arafat's body. I haven't much confidence in the results. Today's news reports state that it may take three to four months to complete the study. Also i read in the news that Polonium210 decays very rapidly consequently the "experts" may find no trace of it in Arafat's body. Experts, maybe some of the same ones involved in the exhumation, encountered no insurmountable obstacle in finding traces of it on Arafat's clothing. It could be that the world is being set up for more lies.

There's a dirty history associated with Polonium210. This in particular ought to be more widely known, providing as it does additional evidence of our government's humanitarian instincts:

The Atomic Energy Commission and the Manhattan Project funded human experiments using polonium on 5 people at the University of Rochester between 1943 and 1947. The people were administered between 9 and 22 microcuries of Polonium to study its excretion.

By mass, polonium-210 is around 250,000 times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide. Read the entire report here:

Po210 is an alpha emitter that has a half-life of 138.4 days, the longest half-life of naturally occurring polonium; it decays directly to its stable daughter isotope, Pb206. Although detection of Po210 in the human body presents major problems detection of its stable isotope may be even more difficult or, conversely, it might be easier. I don't know - maybe others here do. Whatever the case, I hope the scientists involved resist all political pressure - from whatever source.

Another minor correction, NL. I believe you've dropped a "c" in your title. Rorschach not Rorshach. Typo, no doubt.

I'm anticipating Robindell's response although he may need time to make his case. Maybe, though, he's just fed up with this blog.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 6 years 38 weeks ago

You are quite correct, Alberto. I must have had so much to read and such limited time that I didn't carefully read your posts. I do think I was eager to reply instead. I see now that you mentioned the exhumation of Arafat's body.

You are correct about the spelling of Rorschach, too. I should have known better. I am surprised it took so long for anybody to point out, actually. A few days ago, another blogger who usually has good spelling, mispelled the word "capitalism" as "capitlism," which another person pointed out. She had a long list in her post, which I pointed out had two sets of repeat items. She quickly removed the post and replaced it with the same post again, mistakes and all. Then I thought, "what's the use of replying again." I had some good things to say about her original humorous concept and her list, too, so it's a shame.

I can always change the title, so I will correct the spelling of Rorschach.

Robindell is a good friend of mine. He often writes very long, thoughtful responses that seem like they could be blog posts themselves, so maybe it takes him some time to respond. Sometimes, I think he is too busy with other activities to be on this site for a few days, too. The same thing happens to me.

Alberto Ceras 6 years 38 weeks ago

We all make spelling mistakes here, NaturalLefty. I thought you would like to change your title, as I see you have.

I'm curious to read Robindell's response, although lack of it may speak louder. If he responds I do hope he includes the history, the run-up, to the Balfour Declaratiion (,) also Israel's murderous attack on the "Liberty" and the U.S. response to that attack. Of course there's much more to the history. I can't help but think that one reason for the U.S.'s unwavering support for Israel has something to do with the origins of the U.S. itself, the displacement and slaughter of the rightful owners.

I've just finished reading Peter Carey's fine novel "Illywhacker" and was struck by how easily his account of Australia's history could be changed to reflect that of the U.S. Here's what he wrote:

"Our forefathers were all great liars. They lied about the lands they selected and the cattle they owned. They lied about their backgrounds and the parentage of their wives. However it is their first lie that is the most impressive for being so monumental, i. e., that the continent, at the time of first settlement, was said to be occupied but not cultivated and by that simple device they were able to give the legal owners short shrift and, when they objected, to use the musket or poison flour, and to do so with a clear conscience. It is in the context of this great foundation stone that we must begin our study of Australian history."

In what was to become the U.S.A. the founders didn't use poisoned flour but they did use the musket and poisonous alcohol. The idea - and the effect - was about the same. Did you know that the Island of Tasmania, just off Australia's southeast point, was methodically rid of its native inhabitants, bounties paid for the extermination? Within just a few short years not a single living aborigine remained. Not much different from historical events in what was to become the U.S.A.

For more insight into the U.S.'s true history, from the oppressed's - the dispossessed's - viewpoint, read Ward Churchill's "Acts of Rebellion."

Back to the subject of your blog, here's more on Obama's administration:

Family, neighbors of Yemeni killed by U.S. drone wonder why he wasn’t taken alive

When the dust settled, Qadhi and a companion were dead. The timing of the strike, less than 24 hours after President Barack Obama’s re-election, seemed to silence any forecasts that the U.S. administration would back off of its reliance on drone strikes in a second term. The location of the strike, the closest to the capital so far, led many to conclude that no area was off limits in the U.S. air campaign against Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, which American officials characterize as one of the most active branches of the terrorist network.

Read more here:

U.S. dilemma at UN – undermining Palestinian statehood may strengthen Hamas

Analysts say this “fundamentally flawed” U.S. stance toward the Palestinians would require a miracle breakthrough – such as a sudden shift in Israeli policy or an equally improbable U.S. rapprochement with regional player Iran – for the Obama administration to rejuvenate peace talks as a broker respected by all sides.

Read more here:

Michelle Obama shows White House Christmas cheer

Sources close to the family say that holiday drones launched from now to Christmas will be elaborately festooned with brightly colored ribbons, sparkling tinsel and maybe even a few energy-saving, blinking LED lights. Nothing like spreading a little Christmas cheer. (my words - AC)

Read more here:

More change you can believe in?

U.N. set to implicitly recognize Palestinian state, despite threats

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS | Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:42am EST

(Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly is set to implicitly recognize a sovereign state of Palestine on Thursday despite threats by the United States and Israel to punish the Palestinian Authority by withholding much-needed funds for the West Bank government.

A resolution that would lift the Palestinian Authority's U.N. observer status from "entity" to "non-member state," like the Vatican, is expected to pass easily in the 193-nation General Assembly. At least 15 European states plan to vote for it.

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