Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I Weep for Sandra Bland Knowing that Slaves Got Better Justice Than Blacks Today Because they were "Valued Property"

Sandra Bland Found Dead in Jail Cell with Dashcam Tapes Altered
Slaves on southern plantations had a better chance of receiving justice than African-Americans do today if only because they were considered valuable property.  
Nowadays, we're target practice for every psycho, unhinged, macho-challenged cop, district attorney, prosecutor, and judge in America.  Don't get me wrong. I could never condone the most evil institution known to human history.  But I must say that America, for all the progress it has made in so many other aspects of civil rights, our nation has slid backwards in the criminal justice realm since the Emancipation Proclamation.

The question is why?  The answer is "value".   As a historian, I would like to set the record straight. Yes, slaves were whipped and beaten.  But not all of them all of the time.  That would have defeated the purpose of what was an extraordinarily profitable labor system for slaveowners.  According to Professors Louis Cain and Samuel Williamson, plantation owners paid slavetraders in 1850,  $400 for a slave, which would in today's dollars amount to $12,000. The slave's profitability to the plantation owner would then rise to over $80,000 in today's dollars. The psychology of the system was the "seasoning" of the rambunctious ones in order to teach the others a lesson about boundaries and power relationships.

So now we see that a young black woman named Sandra Bland died in police custody after having been stopped for not signaling a turn.  She was a civil rights activist, who had just moved to Texas to take a new job at Prairie view A&M University.  The Waller County sheriff insists that the young woman committed suicide.  His Department just released a video of Ms. Bland's arrest, in which the tape was doctored. Should we now be waiting for one of those famed American grand juries, whose gullibility and/or racism in cases of police brutality would probably have them acquitting Adolf Hitler, if they could get away with it? 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Greece and the EU: Can This Marriage Be Saved?

I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but the Greek bailout crisis, and the prospect of that nation being booted out of the European Union, popularly known as "Grexit" has me in a chokehold and won't let go.  My head bobbles up and down as the news updates are refreshed on my computer, although I've never even been to Greece. And I would have to admit that the European Union (EU) is not a sexy subject unless some official or another is caught soliciting poor African maids as prostitutes.  Oops, that was the International Monetary Fund (IMF). My bad! In any case,  I've never felt any emotional draw or fascination with Europe (except for an enchantment with Paris, of course). That is, until now. And I'm stuttering to find the words to express what I am feeling.

It's hope, fear, and bearing witness to the transcendent power of love. In a marriage it is two people struggling to grow beyond the boundaries of their narcissistic egos, to learn to see and accept one another unconditionally.  In the case of a continent, the process is actually the same. In Europe's case, love defines an idea, the European Union.  Most observers and pundits have for years been saying that the enterprise will fail.  Launching it made no sense to anyone but a bunch of folk, who believed that the continent that incubated two world wars could re-configure itself so that unbridled nationalisms never again ripped the world apart.  Embrace of an idea doesn't have to make sense if enough people come to honor it.

But I had never given the EU a moments thought before now. Or to the degree that I did, it wasn't organic, alive, breathing.  It was just a bunch of technocrats with rules and money.  What grabbed my attention at first was the sheer craziness of what was going on.  A week ago, the left wing government of Greek Prime Minister (PM)Tsipras held a referendum asking the public whether or not they wanted to suffer the austerity and sheer inconvenience of paying back the $240 billion they owed the EU from previous bailouts.  Tsipras campaigned for a "NO" vote, which won 61% support of the electorate. But wait a minute. After reading more details of the referendum it turned out, that the PM was actually saying that a "NO" vote would be used as leverage to help them stay in the EU. That assertion wasn't true and of course the referendum proved counter-productive.  It enraged the Germans, who held most of the debt and a number of other EU countries, signaling that the Greeks had no intention of paying them their money back. Greece ran out of money and had to close the banks. People could withdraw $67 a day from ATMs, that is, after waiting in line in the summer heat for three hours, if the ATM machine hadn't run out of cash. 
Greek man weeping outside closed Bank

Just because you think people are doing something idiotic or suicidal, doesn't mean that you don't have basic human feelings for their plight.  In short, I made the blunder of glancing at a news photo of an elderly man, sitting on the sidewalk next to a closed bank, weeping. I couldn't expel that image from my heart.   To make matters worse,  I read somewhere but can't find it now about a little girl sitting in class drawing Euros (EU dollars) with crayons on pieces of paper and passing them out to her friends. I broke down in tears. What touched me so deeply was the anxiety these families with young mouths to feed must be feeling and inadvertently passing on to their children.

Yes, Greece is a mess, with most of its problems self-inflicted. It has borrowed $240 billion from the EU, with most of the funds coming from Germany and now is broke.  As for where all the money went, the Greeks blame the greedy EU bankers for making speculative loans that the country had no way of paying, ever. Of course, the Greeks cooked the books in order to get into the EU in the first place, conveying its financial status in more solid terms than was the case. The EU does recognize serious structural problems within the Greek economy. The political structure operates on "clienteleism," whereby people are given comfortable civil service jobs, with age 50 retirements at 80% of salary, for supporting the political parties. Eighty percent of the population works in the civil service.   Government pensions eat up much of the money.  Tax evasion is a deeply-embedded cultural practice. There is no industry and most food is imported. Entrepreneurial Greeks leave the country because of the onerous bureaucracy involved in gettng anything done   

Even so, I don't want for its economy to collapse and have the country further humiliated by being tossed out of the EU. The BBC has an informative article: Can Grexit Be Avoided?    Economist Paul Krugman insists that Europe is strangling Greece.   And some intellectuals insist that the Greeks would be better off going back to printing their own money as a way of getting out of this depression.  This may be true.  But Greece is the fountainhead  of western civilization.  I don't want to see her tossed aside because she is having to learn through trial and error how a healthy marriage works. Of course the same should be said of the EU as well. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Historians Lied: The Confederacy REALLY Did Win the Civil War

As a historian I should know these things.  But in truth, I woke up this morning, my mind stumbling around in its own swampy miasma.  We all know the adage:  "the victors write the history".  So, why in the South, had the losing side in the Civil War re-written the history to lie about it's cause (states' rights rather than slavery), lie about its name (War Between the States rather than the Civil War) and even lie about its outcome (We Fought Tyranny and Won).

The truth struck me like a whip's lash across my bare back.  After being defeated in battle by the Union Army, the Confederacy went on to win the war in the South.  I won't bore you with all the sad and somewhat sordid details that ended the period of so-called Reconstruction in the South (See below).  But suffice it to say, that the only losers in this war were the former slaves.  There was no land redistribution for these landless peasants. They became instead impoverished sharecroppers.  Jim Crow laws were instituted to take the place of the social rigidity of slavery.  The Ku Klux Klan, white citizens councils and other white terrorist groups lynched blacks as a way of stoking fear. The former slaves were then removed from the voting rolls with new tactics such as grandfather clauses, poll taxes and literacy tests, forcing them back into a state of disenfranchisement as real as what they had been during slavery.  

It was the Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960s, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King, that finally began fighting back against the Confederacy's victory.  Not surprisingly it was in 1962, that the battle flag that now causes so much contoversy became the so-called emblem of "Southern heritage".If the North really did win the Civil War, when will it be time to show it?  Not only the Confederate flag, but its accompanying paraphernalia needs to be retired to museums or the trash.  And even more importantly, the minds of American children in the South should no longer be filled with a false  narrative of American History, so that a fresh generation of  twenty-one year olds can, like Dylann Root, take it upon themselves to murder blacks based on false historical narratives. 

A PBS essay written by RicharWorsmer describes in brief what went wrong after the Civil War:

Reconstruction generally refers to the period in United States history immediately following the Civil War in which the federal government set the conditions that would allow the rebellious Southern states back into the Union. (The precise starting point is debatable, with some prominent scholars arguing that Reconstruction actually began during the war.) In 1862, Abraham Lincoln had appointed provisional military governors to re-establish governments in Southern states recaptured by the Union Army. The main condition for re-admittance was that at least 10 percent of the voting population in 1860 take an oath of allegiance to the Union. Aware that the Presidential plan omitted any provision for social or economic reconstruction -- or black civil rights -- the anti-slavery Congressmen in the Republican Party, known as the Radicals, criticized Lincoln's leniency.  The goal of reconstruction was to readmit the South on terms that were acceptable to the north -- full political and civil equality for blacks and the denial of the political rights of whites who were leaders of the secession movement. The Radicals wanted to insure that newly freed blacks were protected and given their rights as Americans. After Lincoln's assassination in April of 1865, President Andrew Johnson alienated Congress with his Reconstruction policy. He supported white supremacy in the South and favored pro-Union Southern political leaders who had aided the Confederacy once war had been declared. 
Southerners, with Johnson's support, attempted to restore slavery in substance if not in name. In 1866, Congress and President Johnson battled for control of Reconstruction. The Congress won. Northern voters gave a smashing victory -- more than two-thirds of the seats in Congress -- to the Radical Republicans in the 1866 congressional election, enabling Congress to control Reconstruction and override any vetoes that Johnson might impose. Congress passed the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 that divided the Confederate states (except for Tennessee, which had been re-admitted to the Union) into five military districts. Each state was required to accept the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, which granted freedom and political rights of blacks. 
Each Southern state had to incorporate these requirements into their constitutions, and blacks were empowered with the vote. Yet Congress failed to secure land for blacks, thus allowing whites to economically control blacks. The Freedmen's Bureau was authorized to administer the new laws and help blacks attain their economic, civil, educational, and political rights. The newly created state governments were generally Republican in character and were governed by political coalitions of blacks, Northerners who had migrated to the South (called "carpetbaggers" by Southern Democrats), and Southerners who allied with the blacks and carpetbaggers (referred to as "scalawags" by their opponents). This uneasy coalition of black and white Republicans passed significant civil rights legislation in many states. Courts were reorganized, judicial procedures improved, and public school systems established. Segregation existed but it was flexible. But as blacks slowly progressed, white Southerners resented their achievements and their empowerment, even though they were in a political minority in every state but South Carolina. 
Most whites rallied around the Democratic Party as the party of white supremacy. Between 1868 and 1871, terrorist organizations, especially the Ku Klux Klan, murdered blacks and whites who tried to exercise their right to vote or receive an education. The Klan, working with Democrats in several states, used fraud and violence to help whites regain control of their state governments. By the early 1870s, most Southern states had been "redeemed" -- as many white Southerners called it -- from Republican rule. By the time the last federal troops had been withdrawn in 1877, Reconstruction was all but over and the Democratic Party* controlled the destiny of the South. 
The Dixiecrats

Southern "race voters" known as Dixiecrats switched en masse to the Republican party as the Democrats began to embrace the Civil Rights movement. In fact Lucinda's blog in the Topeka-Capital Journal has a thoughtful and insightful piece entitled "How the Dixiecrats Became Republicans."  I am excerpting part of it below:
I grew up and registered the first time into the old Democratic Party, which was a remnant of the old Dixiecrat Party. They hated blacks. They hated Jews. They hated Catholics. I grew up listening to it. I personally knew KKK members. In fact, a boy I dated had an older brother in the KKK (big time Democrats). That older brother's name is online in articles that talk about the Bogalusa Race Riots of the 60's. He had his white sheet on, with at least a half dozen other KKK members that worked for my father and were at our home a lot. He tried to pull a black man out of a car to beat him up and the black man shot him.
You certainly don't have to tell me about the old Dixiecrats. I lived amongst them.
Today those same people I knew who hated black people and Jews and hated everything about civil rights are all Republicans. They're not JUST  Republicans, they're far right extremists.
I get their emails almost daily - emails full of lies about Obama, with caricatures of Obama and his family - and so much more. Lies, hatred and ugliness that is hard to imagine that a person can carry around in his or her heart. . . Civil Rights laws passed in the 1950s and especially in the 1960s, were championed by NATIONAL Democrats, but caused splits in the Democratic Party. Many in the South switched allegiance to the Republican Party which was seen as more conservative. With Reagan the shift in the South was fairly complete.

 . . As long as your party harbors and gives sustenance to the old Dixiecrats (and they are, by far, no longer just in the south - Kansas is full of them) - your party is not going to win a presidential race, again. The Hispanics and the African Americans and the Asians have woken up. They know now how important a single vote can be. . . As a Republican, you need to ask yourselves, are you happy being a member of a party that rivals the old Dixiecrats and their Jim Crow laws and attitudes? If so, then stick with it all the way to the bottom, 'cause, my friends, you are going down.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Confederate Flag Designed to Send Out Two Messages To Different Audiences Simultaneously

I've begun to lose patience with those continuing to defend the Confederate flag  as though we're caught up in an issue of moral, cultural or constitutional complexity. What we're dealing with here is actually rather simple.  This flag has a dual function and always has.  It is meant to express Southern ethnic pride, among those of European ancestry. At the same time, it is designed to convey a terrorist threat to blacks.  "You had better stay in your place or else."

The role of the Confederate flag is not unlike that of the Nazi swastiki.  To Germans it meant ethnic pride, while to Jews it signified horror.  Even at the end of World War II, most Germans insisted that Nazism did not foment anti-Semitism and that the Jews were safe.  It was only after the allied forced initiated what came to be known as a deNazification program and forced German citizens to view photographs of the death camps, that the unspeakable crimes of the Holocaust began to seep through their layers of denial.

So lets stop pretending that we can't for the life of us figure out which side of the Confederate flag debate is valid.   It is both an emblem of Southern ethnic pride and a threat to do whatever is necessary to "keep blacks in their place," so that whites can thrive at their expense. Whether the social structure involves slavery or merely discriminatory labor and social practices, this is the unspoken heritage of the South.

This particular Confederate flag design emerged in 1962 to counter the successes of the Civil Rights Movement.  It was flown over the state Capitol dome to mark the centennial of the start of the Civil War. According to National Public Radio:
. . . many saw it as a reaction to the civil-rights movement and school desegregation. For nearly four decades, it continued to be a controversial issue in the Palmetto State. A 1994 nonbinding referendum placed on the GOP primary ballot found that three-in-four voters said the flag should keep flying. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The FOX News "Nigger Brand" Just Ensnared Itself in Obama's Trap

Smart racists do not use the word "nigger" in public discourse. They have cobbled together a sewer full of terms, images and foul odors that evoke racial hatred, and even more importantly contribute to violence against as well as the disenfranchisement of blacks. The racially obsessed FOX News refers to blacks as thugs, even inviting guests on its programs to refer to the first African-American president thus. FOX distorts all of its newscasts in such a way as to leave the impression that Barack Obama might be affiliated with terrorists, is probably a Muslim although he goes to a Christian Church with an obnoxious preacher, has usurped the presidency because he is actually a Kenyan citizen and instigated voter fraud to get re-elected twice.

Thus the FOX News propagandists bent on instigating racial dissension can pretend as they have for the past two days that what influences people like 21 year old Dylann Roof to murder 9 black people in a church, is not the racial venom they spew forth, but  ill-mannered people like President Obama who uttered  the n-word.

But alas, the American public is finally beginning to identify the symbols and sources of hate within our society. Now that a consensus is forming around removing the confederate flag from South Carolina's State House, momentum is building to excise the same emblem for the same reason from Mississippi's state flag. An energized public seeking to heal our society rather than rip it apart in race war will soon enough turn its attention to FOX News, whose rotting core will not survive the sniff test.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Why Accepting Rachel Dolezal's Flirtation with Blackness is Racist

What if I woke up this morning and decided to be a Jewish Holocaust survivor?  What is the likelihood that so many Americans would find my declaration of self-identity so "cute" that I would even be invited on the "Today" show to spout my pathological lies? People associated with this ethnic experience would be enraged as they should be. And why is that? I would have turned their experience into a gabble of meaningless lies and caricatures. Being Black is not a frizzy wig and skin bronzer. It is a lived experience. And quite frankly, given the loyalty and tenderness that black families show one another in the face of adversity, just watching the sheer ugliness and lack of love this Dolezal woman and her family display towards one another, would be
the penultimate tip off to the fact that she has never lived the Black experience.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Is a Eurocentric Paradigm Widening Ethnic Disparities in Health Care?

   African-Americans consume substantially less than the recommended daily intake of calcium and yet have the densest bone mass of any American ethnic group, and are at the lowest risk of osteoporosis, fragile bone disease and other calcium deficiency disorders. Studies have shown that this occurs because blacks have higher rates of calcium retention and greater calcium utilization efficiency than other ethnicities. So what public health message is given to black parents?  It is that their children suffer from calcium deficiency and should therefore be fed more dairy products in order to prevent osteoporosis. But what might the implications be of pushing high sodium, high fat dairy products on a population that is not in need of supplemental calcium but that is suffering from skyrocketing rates of juvenile obesity and salt-sensitive hypertension?  The medical response is that those ailments are probably caused by a calcium-deficiency as well. 

A Population Genetics (But Not Racial) Approach to the Etiology of Salt-Sensitive Hypertension in African-Americans

African-Americans suffer one of the highest rates of hypertension in the world. Psychosocial stressors such as racial discrimination and financial strain have been identified by some researchers, while others have sought the answer in biological traits. This article targets  genetics as the primary factor for this condition, while at the same time repudiating antiquated “racial” classification schemes.  The ancestors of African-Americans came from West Africa.  However, it was not from the coast, awash in ocean salt, but rather from sodium-deficient regions as much as 1,000 miles inland. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Is Dairy Causing Prostate Cancer in Black Males?

A growing number of studies point to an over-consumption of dietary calcium as increasing the incidence of prostate cancer. African-American males are among those having the highest prostate cancer rates in the world.  During the vigorous bone growth period of adolescence, this group consumes less calcium, but absorbs and retains more of it than other populations, leading to higher bone density, and lower rates of fractures later in life. This is so even though blacks have traditionally consumed the least amount of milk and dairy because of lactase non-persistence (lactose intolerance). In short, nature has provided a highly efficient calcium retaining mechanism for lactase non-persistent groups, who also happen to constitute 70% of the global population. But what are the consequences for a minority group possessing biological mechanisms to ensure sufficiency in calcium as they become more acculturated into the American mainstream?  Nutritional experts inform them that they are calcium-deficient by  Food and Drug Administration standards and should therefore consume more dairy products, and ignore symptoms of lactose intolerance for the sake of their health. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Duggars are (Inadvertently) Raising a New Generation of Bigots

What future are the Duggars preparing their children for?
The Duggar family of TLC infamy have enough problems just now without being accused of yet another moral failing.  But actually, I'm not suggesting that Jim-Bob and his fertility-goddess wife, Michelle, are racists.   I'm merely reflecting on the roots of racial bigotry.   Since the Duggars are discouraging their dozen and a half children from attending college, and are instead pushing the girls into early marriages in order to become baby factories,  one thing is clear.  Unless they all end up with reality tv shows, their views of the larger world will be limited as will their opportunities in life.

This family enjoys the advantages of "white skin privilege" now, but that won't always be the case.  The black middle and professional classes will continue to grow.  Whites with high school diplomas and nineteen or so mouths to feed aren't going anywhere.   And it will be their feelings of resentment that fuel the engines of racial hatred.  For the past two centuries, poor whites have ignored their class interests in order to identify with their wealthier counterparts.  It was easy to do so when most blacks were dirt poor share croppers.  But even African-American mothers on welfare today support education and encourage their daughters to achieve the economic independence that eludes them.  

Put another way, why do so many conservative White Christians despise President Obama?    After all, the nation has been saved from economic collapse; the unemployment rate is lower than its been in years.  Some of these Obama-haters are even enjoying the benefits of  the Affordable Care Act.  Their problem is not Obama's failings.  It is rather his successes, which are becoming too numerous to list fully.  Here is a Black man with a Muslim name, who is Commander in Chief of the United States, having been elected to the presidency twice.  His family is not involved in drunken brawls.  The teenage daughters are neither pregnant nor sneaking into after hour bars.   They are smart and college bound.  

In the meantime, the world grows more technological and the labor market more globally competitive, while a generation of White Christians  homeschool their kids in preparation for "the Rapture".  As they fall further and further behind, their feelings of entitlement will generate confusion and fear at being so ill prepared for life in the twenty-first century. This ugly mood's only outlet will be scapegoating of those minorities who are more successful than they.  

RELATED POST:  Did the Duggars Expose Their Kids to Pornography Ring?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Did Duggars Expose Their 19 Kids to Child Pornography Ring?

One possible reason why Arkansas Judge Stacey Zimmerman destroyed the court files of Josh Duggar was because the scandal that was about to be unleashed went beyond the teen molestation charge to something even more sinister -- a child pornography ring.

Psychologists have long noted that pedophiles are often made by having
been molested as children. Why didn't the Duggars make an effort to find the roots of their son's problem?

Apparently they were far too busy making more children. It doesn't seem to have occurred to them  that their daughters were being wounded by the son's behavior. But no counselling was offered to the girls.

The most bizarre piece to this family's dysfunctional saga was sending their son, who had been caught molesting his younger four sisters and a friend for counselling to State Trooper Joseph Hutchens?   This man is now serving a 56 year prison term for producing and distributing child pornography. Why hasn't anyone asked whose children were being used to pose for these photos?

And the most disturbing question of all: what did the father of a houseful of  prepubescent children have in common  with an out-of-control child pornographer, whom Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar initially identified as a family friend?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Is ISIS Infiltrating the American Jury System?

 I'm not a conspiracy theorist.  I often ridicule folks who come up with preposterous notions of men in black manipulating public perceptions of what's really out there. But what I am about to describe is the only interpretation of events that makes any rational sense at all.

Did juries acquitting policemen for executing unarmed black males (even children as young as 12) learn their "Christian values" from that Islamic caliphate beheading innocent folks in Iraq?  I ask this question because their modus operandi is so hauntingly similar. The only real difference I can see between the two are different methods of execution.

If you believe I might be exaggerating in any way, just note the recent acquittal of the policeman by a Cleveland jury for riddling the bodies of two unarmed blacks for the crime of having a car that backfired. And this is the same police force that several months before murdered a 12 year old black child for sitting on a swing with a toy gun.

Or maybe these U.S. juries in collusion with the police are merely competing with ISIS. The goal of both is to see which group can kill the greatest number of innocent people not belonging to their tribe in cold blood without batting an eyelash.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pamela Geller Orchestrated Muslim Attack at Cartoonist Competition

Pamella Geller
I doubt whether Pamela Geller was in direct contact with ISIS leaders, but she was behind the Muslim attack at the Muhammad cartoon competition in Garland, Texas, in which the two gunmen were killed.   There will be no "smoking gun".   This anti-Muslim fanatic is deranged and may actually be seeking "martyrdom" in the same vein as individuals who provoke the police to shoot them in what has come to be termed "suicide by cop".  According to Wikipedia:

The phenomenon has been described in news accounts from 1981,and scientific journals since 1985.The phrase has appeared in news headlines since at least 1987. It did not become common until the early 2000s. The phrase seems to have originated in the United States, but has also appeared in the UK, where a jury first determined someone committed suicide by cop in 2003.
The thought that Pamela Geller orchestrated this attack might not have occurred to me until I listened to the tape announcing the attack to the Geller crowd and heard the ecstatic tone of one of her supporters asking in the background: "Were they Muslims"?

The photogenic Ms. Geller is getting older and in ways that additional plastic surgery may not be able to repair.  She may as a consequence be suffering from a Marilyn Monroe type losing-her-looks fear.Whatever the case, this woman has become a public hazard, whose dark yearnings is very likely to get innocent people killed, regardless of what happens to her.  

Geller does not stand for "freedom of speech".  What she really stands for is making herself into a larger than life hero at the expense of innocent bystanders.    

Monday, May 4, 2015

Offering Condolences to Sheryl Sandberg, But Feeling Manipulated

Dave Goldberg and FACEBOOK exec wife Sheryl Sandberg
I am deeply saddened by the news that Dave Goldberg, the husband of FACEBOOK executive Sheryl Sandberg has passed away at the age of 47.  Money is no buffer from the pain of widowhood at such a young age and the challenge of being left to raise two kids without a father. Being a billionaire does, however, allow one in the midst of sudden tragedy to maneuvre the public into flooding the airwaves with condolences without being told what caused Mr. Goldberg's death.  But why should it matter?

The public's interest in knowing what precipitated the death of a prominent figure in the prime of life is a legitimate one. If he wasn't a public icon, then why all the news headlines and public expressions of condolences? Perhaps it was of natural causes, for which everyone seeing Dave Goldberg's photo might take heed in their doctors' orders to lose weight or reduce the stress in their lives.  Being one half of a power couple, both billionaires in their own right, might understandably be stressful.

This  lack of information about the cause of death of SurveyMonkey's CEO,  fuels darker speculation. Could the cause have been suicide, in which case stockholders in his Company would want to be alerted if there were serious business problems or even an impending investigation, which might  affect stock values.   Or might it even have been drug-related, which is not unheard of among Silicon Valley executives?

FACEBOOK executive, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote a noted but controversial book, Lean In, in which she declared that women could in fact have it all. Her husband figured prominently in the book's pages because she credited his support as being pivotal to her own success.  Might Ms. Sandberg have "tempted fate," as my grandmother might have opined, in getting women to believe in a carefully crafted lie rather than reality?  In any case, FACEBOOK has succeeded in part because it has chipped away at everyone else's privacy.  Dave Goldberg's widow has simply not earned the privacy she now demands.   And the mainstream media has just dropped one more notch in the public's estimation by going no further than printing uninformative press releases from the family's highly-paid PR consultants.

NOTE:   The New York Times just reported the following:

Dave Goldberg, the chief executive of SurveyMonkey and husband of Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, died of head trauma Friday night after he collapsed at the gym at a private resort in Mexico, according to a Mexican government official.
Mr. Goldberg, 47, was on vacation with family and friends at the Four Seasons Resort near Punta Mita, close to Puerto Vallarta in southwest Mexico, according to a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Nayarit State. Mr. Goldberg left his room around 4 p.m. on Friday, collapsed while exercising and died of head trauma and blood loss, said the spokesman. His brother, Robert Goldberg, found him on the floor of the gym at the resort at around 7 p.m., with blood around him. The spokesman said it appears “he fell off the treadmill and cracked his head open.”

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tsarnaev Gets Big Trial While Police Execute Blacks for "Looking Suspicious"

Boston Bomber Dzohkhar Tsarnaev on Trial
The longer this trial of Tsarnaev goes on the more enraged I become. Who are we Americans trying to fool with all this pomp and circumstance? Everyone knows that the man and his brother killed and wounded people in the Boston marathon. Are trials like this the way we Americans  deceive ourselves into believing that our criminal justice system is something divorced from the reality of psycho cops executing black males on the spot?

S. Carolina Cop Executing Walter Scott
This Tsarnaev trial has been going on in the shadow of police state savagery, where the number of black male killings seems even to have escalated. Whether the man gets the death penalty he should at least thank his lucky stars that he's not black. African-American males get executed on the spot for not having a license to sell cigarettes or missing child support payments, or being 12 years old, sitting on a swing playing with a toy gun. Let's stop using show trials like this Tsarnaev one to pretend that the American criminal justice system even knows what the word "justice" means.

Friday, April 24, 2015

U.S. Cannot Afford to Admit Turkish Genocide against Armenians: We Killed 50+ Million Native Americans with Nary a Word of Remorse

Who Has the Power to Describe What is and is not Genocide?
 Armenians mark the one hundredth anniversary of the genocide that killed 1.5 million of their people, and that  Turkey denies having perpetrated.  The term "Armenian genocide" is not in our nation's diplomatic glossary, in the same way that "climate change" has been excised from the state of Florida's policy statements.  Nevertheless, I've just had a sobering epiphany.  Now I can finally begin to see why China, Iran and everyone else wants to claw their way to superpower stardom.  Any misbehavior, act of genocide, mass murder, phony justification for invading other countries, even devoluton into a police state targeting black males for extermination, can just be swept under the rug. In academia, we call that the " politics of knowledge".  Knowledge is packaged, framed, manipulated in ways that narrate the story that those in power wish to tell.    Any and all atrocities committed by those in positions of privilege can be erased from the pages of history.

Of course Turkey committed genocide against the Armenians.  But President Obama seems to have enough political sense  to refrain from uttering an acknowledgement of it.  And this is as it should be.  Why should we be pressuring perpetrators to admit genocide, when the U.S. removed far more indigenous peoples from existence than the Turks did to the Armenians.

American historians use such terms as "population decline" to describe the fact that the indigenous population of the Americas went from a conservatively estimated 57.3 million in 1492 to half a million today.  Some historians even insist that death by the deliberate contamination of native peoples with measles and smallpox, to which they had no immunity should not be categorized as genocide.  Other historians opine that since we don't have full documentary and archaeological evidence of those times, "who knows" (throwing up their hands in fake exasperation) as to what became of all those people?  According to Wikipedia:
Scholars who have argued prominently that this population decline can be considered genocidal include historian David Stannard and anthropological demographer Russell Thornton,as well as scholar activists such as Vine Deloria, Jr., Russell Means and Ward Churchill. Stannard compares the events of colonization that led to the population decline in the Americas with the definition of genocide in the 1948 UN convention, and writes that "In light of the U.N. language—even putting aside some of its looser constructions—it is impossible to know what transpired in the Americas during the sixteenth seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and not conclude that it was genocide".Thornton does not consider the onslaught of disease to be genocide, and only describes as genocide the direct impact of warfare, violence and massacres, many of which had the effect of wiping out entire ethnic groups. Holocaust scholar and political scientist Guenter Lewy rejects the label of genocide and views the depopulation of the Americas as "not a crime but a tragedy".
Historians like Thornton and Lewy belong to what I call the waste-water-treatment branch of American history.  They were the same type of scholars, who ignored every last bit of empirical evidence to sanitize Thomas Jefferson's biography.  It was only with the addition of DNA evidence, that scholars acknowledged that the African-American slave, Sally Hemings, had been Thomas Jefferson's mistress, with whom she bore six children.

So why hasn't the United Nations gone after the U.S. for committing genocide?  It is because it is the largest donor and pays the bills for the organization's elaborate New York headquarters.  What does genocide even mean if only the powerless have to admit to it?


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Elizabeth Warren the Crusader Attacks Obama for Trade Deal but Supported Israeli Bombing of Gaza Schools/Hospitals

Senator Elizabeth Warren Credits: Tim Pierce
Elizabeth Warren is a crusader and all, but not when it really counts, not when "she has skin in the game" as they say.  The Massachusetts Senator is now attacking President Obama, claiming like the GOP that he is hiding vital details from the American public regarding the Asian trade agreement now in the process of being negotiated.  Maybe she's making so much noise because she wants to be president, or at the very least, Hilary Clinton's running mate.  But she is not doing it because she gives a damned about the people who will be affected by the trade deal.  How do I know? She stood  in front of a local Massachusetts town hall meeting and justified Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bombing of schools and hospitals in Gaza last summer.  If this woman can justify the killing of 1492 Gazan civilians, according to United Nations reports, including 551 children and 299 women, in retaliation for attacks by homemade rocks that killed no one, she could justify doing anything to anybody.

Should liberals celebrate the birth of a left-wing Margaret Thatcher, an American "iron maiden" coming from the other side of the political spectrum?  I hope the hell not.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Who Will Protect the Jews this Time from Growing Anti-Semitic Backlash?

Israel has gone rogue.  Its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has allied himself with the collapsing GOP. He has called President Barack Obama, "unAmerican" in public and is doing everything this side of dancing in black-face, to undermine the authority of the White House and demolish the newly negotiated nuclear arms agreement with Iran.  Meanwhile, public opinion in the Jewish state has repudiated the two-state solution, which would create a Palestinian nation for the four million Arabs currently living under Israeli military occupation.

Some members of the United States Congress are being showered by pro-Israel lobbyists with millions of dollars in donations (see New York Times: GOP's Israel Support Deepens as Political Contributions Shift)  and they just so happen to be the ones hinting at going to war with Iran. Neo-conservatives like John R. Bolton are even more blunt.  The headline of his recent column declared: To Stop Iran's Bomb, Bomb Iran.

 A majority of American Jews vote Democratic and according to recent polls still support the President,  However, it appears that virtually all of the major Jewish organizations in the U.S. are pushing the Netanyahu-GOP narrative.   Even the once highly-respected Anti-Defamation League has dismissed the bigoted remarks of Netanyahu about Arabs "going to the polls in droves" as well as his disavowal of the two -state solution as meaningless electioneereing.   

Most Americans find the notion of fighting another war in the Middle East detestable.   While they  cannot stop the moneyed juggernaut from paying off politicians, they can certainly resent it.  We all know that there are bigots who lurk in the shadows of our society, awaiting opportune moments to fling around their  vitriol.  And what ethnic group in particular do you think they will target with their fury?  I am addressing this issue in plain English only because everyone else seems to be pretending that nothing is amiss.  

RELATED POST:  GOP Prostitution Ring Uncovered in Congress

Sunday, April 5, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: In Dire Straits: Keeping Spirit Alive When the Wheels Come off by Jim Currie

I hadn’t picked up a memoir in years.  The genre had lost its luster after the author raised by wolves in Nazi Germany turned out to have grown up in the suburbs of Brussels and the half-black, half-native foster child surviving the toughest gang-banging ghetto of Los Angeles was, in truth, a middle class white woman.    In Dire Straits is, in contrast, not so much a memoir as it is a meditation on what the Zen Buddhists call “samsara”.  It is the twists and turns of fate that can turn an ordinary life into a dancing chiaroscuro of shadow and light.  This is what happens when the author’s grief at the loss of a beloved parent, triggers a crippling auto-immune disease, later diagnosed as psoriatic arthritis.

Jim Currie tells the story of sinking into the abyss and struggling to climb out,  only to find that his country has contracted its own auto-immune disease with the invasion of Iraq.  Nor can he gain a foothold or purchase on walls smeared both with the blood of soldiers who died for a meaningless cause and ecological toxins threatening to poison all life on earth.    

And yet, this is not a sad book.  The author writes with a keen intellect, spiritual vitality and humor.  He even finds companionship in the most unlikely of places, amidst a family of winsome (teddy) bears and a shape-shifting Buddha.

How Can Israel Make Peace with Neighbors Threatening to Annihilate It?

Israel has the strongest, diversified economy in the Middle East and brags about being the only true democracy in the region.  While the former claim is certainly true, the latter is a matter of how one defines "democracy."  But the reality is that at this moment in history, neither of the two aforementioned factors  matter. Israel is a magnet for chaos and regional instability, and its dominant political philosophy has evolved into a post-modernist version of fascism.

The re-election of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sealed the Jewish state's fate.  Neither he nor his supporters realized that the invisible laws of the cosmos imposed an existential deadline on making peace with their Arab neighbors.   That time has just about run out.  And rather than seeking to fit in to the Middle East neighborhood, Israelis have, in a bizarre twist of grievance politics all but dumped responsibility for the Nazi Holocaust onto the Arabs and two thousand years of Christian Anti-Semitism in Europe onto the Iranian mullahs.

But how do you make peace with people who at every turn threaten to annihilate you?  A state claiming to be based on spiritual principles should have figured that out by now, but since they haven't I'll try to offer some help.  The pivotal issue is neither diplomacy nor militarism.  It is attitude. For an educated citizenry to promulgate such foolishness as that the Palestinians are not a real ethnic group because the territory which became Israel was uninhabited before the Jews showed up is shameful and ludicrous,  Israelis remain just as clueless today as they were 70 years ago about the civilizations that flourished in the region before the Zionists showed up. They are incapable of even reading the literary contributions of these cultures, because the Jewish state considers Hebrew to be the only Semitic language worth learning.  How can you reach out to your neighbors when you have convinced yourself that they're irrational savages rather than real live human beings, as culturally sophisticated as you and with every right to feel aggrieved by your treatment of them?         

RELATED POST:  GOP Prostitution Ring Uncovered in Congress