Monday, November 14, 2011

Veterans Day - 11/11/2011

I'm a veteran. I was in the Army, infantry, Viet Nam. I think Veterans Day has been subverted from it's original intent and is now just one more tool that is used to build the myth that the solution to conflict is military action.

I feel that the glorification of the military is so pervasive it has become part of our culture. "The few the proud . . .", "An army of one", highways dedicated to military units and organizations, fighter jet fly overs, POW-MIA flags, basketball games on war ships - the list goes on and on. What is seldom said is that military action is death and destruction. Therefore, all of these subtly add to the myth and glorify the act of killing.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 was when the killing stopped in WWI. In November of 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. He said this day should be used by America "to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations". On June 4, 1926 Congress passed a resolution that said we should observe the day "with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples."

I recommend that you use the eleventh hour of the eleventh day to research the most decorated Marine in history - two time Medal of Honor recipient General Smedley Butler. After his career he wrote a booklet titled, "War is a Racket". Reflect on General Butler, the trillions of dollars spent on war, the millions of lives lost and ruined, and the original intent of Veterans Day. Then, do something to promote peace and justice.

Monday, September 19, 2011


9/11/2001 was a crime, not an act of war. Four women from New Jersey, whose spouses had been killed in the Twin Towers, forced an investigation. Those in power fought the concept, and then stacked the Commission so that the toughest questions would not be asked.

The nation of Afghanistan was invaded and occupied. We were told to go shopping. The nation of Iraq was invaded and occupied. We were told that weapons of mass destruction were everywhere. Millions of people have been killed, maimed, displaced, and negatively effected by a decision to use violence vs. the rule of law.

On this tenth anniversary of the squandering of an opportunity to set a world example for non-violent conflict resolution, I recommend that you research 9/11 and then have dialogue on the options that could have been chosen.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Many people have been overwhelmed by the "business mind set" - if it works for business, it works for government. I believe this mindset is un-democratic and short sighted.

I'm a retired businessperson. I've worked for small companies, Fortune 100 corporations, and finished my career as a business owner. As I watch politicians try to cut their way to "strong" states and a "strong" nation, I find that there is much confusion between the purpose of business and the purpose of government.

The purpose of a democratic government is to provide the programs and structure that allow the people to be the best that they can be. The purpose of business is to provide products/services that generate a profit. Both share the need for efficiency. Both must generate revenue. Both must control their expenditures. However, their purpose, their reason for being, is very different.

A business can achieve its purpose by charging a price for its products/services, expanding its market and controlling its costs. A business can start up or close down at will. It can have products/services that are aimed at selective segments of its selective market.

A democratic government can achieve its purpose by listening to the people. It must decide what the people want/need. It must then raise the revenue to accomplish these wants/needs. It can't close down or start up at will. It must serve the majority of the people. It must look at the long term and assess its actions on future generations.

People in a democratic society - WE THE PEOPLE - expect to pay taxes and fees. We expect services. We expect efficiency. We expect fairness. We don't expect special treatment for the richest. We don't expect bribery in the form of "campaign contributions". We don't expect to be treated less fairly than the people who hold political office. We expect a government of, by and for the people - not just the richest people, not just the business people - all of the people. We are a state and a nation, not a business.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Memorial Day - 2011

Memorial Day - for some it's the start of the summer season and a holiday. For others it's a day to wave a flag and go to a parade. I’d like to see Memorial Day be a day for dialogue on issues that really matter for the future of our children and for this country as a whole.

There are many things that can be discussed. Here are some suggestions. Why do we have war? Why do we so proudly send our children to kill other children? Why are weapons our number one export product? Why do we have over 700 military bases in over 140 countries? Why do almost half of our tax dollars go to the war industry? Why do we cheer when the government chooses to assassinate someone instead of using the rule of law? Why do we ignore the Geneva Convention and the voices of experienced interrogators and use torture? Why do we allow those in power to demonize entire nations or cultures, or religions? Why do we think we are better than the rest of the people of the world? Why do we let the corporate owned media tell us what to think and do? Why are we so afraid of everything? Why do we read so little and watch TV so much? Why don’t we know our history?

So, while you’re grilling your hot dogs or standing at the parade, bring up an issue, get other viewpoints, engage in dialogue. The children and this country are depending on it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Elite "Rights"

I’m a father, retired business owner and a military veteran (Army, infantry, Viet Nam). I marvel at how well the elites have convinced us that they, the upper 5%, have the absolute right to rule our country. It reminds me of the feudalism that controlled Europe for 600 years.

The elites, via their media, and well-paid serfs, tell us that what is good for them is good for us. They branded the estate tax as a “death tax”. So, a tax that only effected the top 2% was eliminated. Billions were removed from our revenue stream. Income taxes are bad they say. So taxes on the richest are branded “repressive” and massively cut. Billions were removed from our revenue stream. Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country but universal health care is bad they say. So it’s branded “death panels” and never considered because the elites want to protect the billions they make from insurance and drugs. We have wars and our kids suffer and die, but the war contractor elite brand it “fighting for freedom” and make billions in profits from our tax dollars, and pay virtually no taxes.

No amount of program “cuts” will improve this nation. We need to expand programs to help the people, and thus we need more revenue. During the Eisenhower years the elites were taxed at 90%. They survived and the nation prospered.

We have, I believe, feudalism wrapped in red, white and blue and branded “democracy”.


Many, including myself, have a difficult time defining Israel. The word is wrapped up with nation, bible, Jews, apartheid, history, genocide, holocaust, Palestine, violence, loyalty oaths, destruction, international law, nuclear weapons, settlements, brutality, walls, guilt, suicide bombs, Germany, Holy Land, aggression, defense, God, hatred, media, Zionism, money, Muslims, anti-Semitism, pity, children, peace, middle east, oppression, one state/two state, murder, driven into the sea.
In November of 2007 I attended a lecture at Michigan State University given by Anna Baltzer. Her talk was titled “Life in Occupied Palestine” and included many photos from her visits. It was the first time I was shown what was happening. The visuals were powerful. I was in the infantry in Viet Nam, but this was much more than violence and war. This was systematic hatred.
I bought her book, “Witness in Palestine” and her DVD, “Life in Occupied Palestine”. Both are excellent. The book has five appendices that cover: what you can do, resource guide, brief history, myths and frequently asked questions, quotations from prominent figures. There is also a glossary.
Since 2007 I have attended many lectures, read a number of books, spoken with many people who have been to Palestine, and attended a seminar by the Hillel student organization where I was in a breakout session by the Israeli Defense Force – IDF. I continue to explore.
When defining any country, region, people, or belief system I have come to realize that generalizations are destructive to discussion. Thus I need to look at policies and actions. When it comes to governments, I have come to the conclusion that the people of a nation need to be viewed separately from the actions of their government.   People are pretty much the same the world over. They want to live a life without strife and concentrate on their well-being. The history of those in power - rulers/governments - is mainly about keeping their power, despite those they govern.
I have concluded that the government of Israel is immoral and extremists. To stay in power and to get support for their tactics, they have made the Jewish religion synonymous with Israel. This, I believe, is a travesty.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Let's Talk

Sounds simple. You speak, others listen, and visa versa. But talk/listen is mainly noise. To achieve communications - the understanding of others - requires an understanding of the process. Communications starts with thoughts. These thoughts are developed based on our experiences. The thoughts must then be converted into words. The words must then be spoken. The person spoken to must then hear the words, and based on their experiences, convert them into thoughts.

There is much room for error in the process. Errors can be reduced by the following: identify your assumptions about the speaker and suspend judgement, listen and focus on learning, respect differences, ask open-ended questions, express disagreement in terms of ideas, not personality or motives. If you or the speaker are tense, pause and identify the reason for the tension.

Let’s talk – with those we know, and with those we don’t. Let’s work to achieve understanding. We may not agree. If we disagree there is always a way to resolve a conflict peacefully. It may take time. It may take negotiations. It will take skill. It will take intelligence. But there is ALWAYS a way.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

National Debt

It should be no surprise that our nation has a serious financial crisis. Never before has this country gone to war without raising taxes to pay for it. The cost, in monetary terms alone, is currently over $3 trillion. It is being funded by debt. Yet, Congress only sees "cuts" as the way to pay for the war debt. As everyone knows, you can't cut your way to financial solvency. You also have to increase revenue. The top 25 hedge fund managers each made over $1 billion last year. Yet they paid little, if any, income tax. During the Eisenhower years these people would have paid 90%. Even at that rate, they'd still have $100 million left. Most of us could make it on that.

It's a myth that the richest create jobs. The richest typically send their money overseas for investments, or to hide it. Yet, the richest apparently control our government because they've convinced the politicians that they can't survive on $100 million.

If our politicians were truly for WE THE PEOPLE, they would listen to the 98% of us who aren't the richest. They'd not only roll back the Bush tax cuts for the richest, they'd roll back the Reagan tax cuts as well. They'd close tax loop holes, stop subsidizing corporations and stop giving tax incentives for moving jobs off shore. They'd look at the nation's income statement before going to war.

A country run on debt will soon be bankrupt, and like war, the people at the bottom will suffer the most.