Archive for March, 2006

The War in Focus

March 29, 2006

Introduction: As you peruse this commentary, keep in your hearts and mind our soldiers in the field. In this website—and other you will see Soldiers’ Angels click on this and adopt a soldier today—thank you.

It has now been about a week since the third anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, and my sentiment remains the same: Be patient America the “War on Terror” will end soon enough. How soon depends upon us. The message we send the planet during the course of it is dependent on how we face our past, present, and prescient legacy—and our taking responsibility for those “items” we deem laudable.

Dateline: March 20th, 2006, marked the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. What I mean is this: Although, the following may be a critique of American governmental foreign policy, this is not a direct criticism of the citizenry say for one, personal responsibility.

In the every day world of life, one’s duty ought to include the acceptance of consequences for ones action. A cliché – true enough, but accurate; in essence, to accept our own person’s action in how I, or we delegate our authority of subsistence to the government “we” portend to surrender the “rule of law” in order to organize rule. Of late, the citizenry, understandably, here in the United States, has been shrouded in shadows and fear. This darkness of emotion was and is the result of the one fateful day, September 11, 2001.

This day has sent the United States morale and self-esteem in the crevices of despondency. In so being that, emotionalism has charted the course of American policy. Ever since America and Americans (there is a difference) loss their sense of vulnerability; the sleeping giant had awaken into the world groggily, stumbling about the path of retribution. Initially, the “War on Terror” sought out those directly responsible for perpetrating the violation of our space and sovereignty. The mission was just and resolute. Then one day, certainly not over night, a mutation began in America and Americans angst and anger descended into paranoia.

Terrorists were seemingly in the dark shadows of every alley way. Alerts were sanctioned; our emotions palpable, uncertainty underscored the uneasiness of our nerves. Our fears were intangible and the lack of clarity shunted our most rational thoughts.

A new culture of fear permeated the skins of American hearts. Our leaders, albeit, for the sense of security, sowed the seeds of mistrust prior and after to the war in Iraq. By adjoining the “War on Terror” to the “War in Iraq” that Saddam Hussein and his regime were responsible for September 11th attacks. In addition to that, the drumming of fear set American against one another, suspicions turned to rumors, rumors turned to the authorization of laws, which restricted our participation to due process (see the PATRIOT Act as earliest example).

On the one hand, the message by our leaders advocated patience, tolerance and knowledge of those who were not our enemy. In essence, that not all “Arabs” or people who practice the “Islamic” faith were our enemy. In fact, they wanted to be free as well in their own variant definition of it, of course. But on the other, with tacit approval of our “governmental representatives,” by their silence and their implicitly announced similar faith, in that, and I paraphrase “It is all of Islam that is our enemy in this “War on Terror,” at least, this is the perception being present by the Christian fundamentalist.

photo by Lana

By tacit approval of “governmental representatives,” I mean that, and this is not direct criticism on the president’s faith, George W. Bush’s has been seen by the two perspectives: either as a comfort or as destructive. I find his faith both reassuring and also disturbing. In the sense that, my hope in his ethical, moral, and principals are guided by a worthy philosophy. My concern is the “orthodoxy,” the fundamentalism of it; essentially, the nature of it. It is, Christian fundamentalists, unwillingness to adapt, to change, or rather selectively change, or admit errors, in spite of facts being presented. It is the rigidity and dogmatism of the faith that can be oppressive at times (see the Catholic Church history; or, James Dobson).

Nevertheless, his focus, Bush’s, governmental policy has left the impression with public that all Islamic state (from their governments pundits view) or “Arab” states are at war with us (see Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and to some degree Saudi Arabia). So, it is not surprising when the public decries a “trading” relationship with another Islamic nation-state and wonders what the administration was thinking (see Dubai debacle). Thus, once again, appears that America, and more specifically Americans are fearful and intolerant.

Appearances, and images matter. It transmits the initial perception of reality. This perception or perceptions misshapes; and, represents the counter to what America is suppose to be. The shining beacon of liberty, in which, freedom, religion, expression, and choice are the rules not the exception. The ability of the minority to dissent, to have the right to argue, enables us to bring an idea, an experiment really, to reality. This is the message of America: individuals who are willing to be governed by the “rule of law” and in order to extend to those politically, ethnically, and racially equality for everyone that wishes to obtain them. In simple terms: “All men are created equal”; if you chose—people.

Unfortunately, this message has been lost in translation in the execution of this war, and according to some, this war was blundered from the start: materials, mission statement, and troops needed were bungled. First, it was eminent threat of “weapons of mass destructions”, “liberation of the Iraq,” and then, “democratization” of it—Iraq.

Now three years later, with supposed recriminations, abuses, and accusations of incompetence (see CIA faulty information) for the war in Iraq, and the “war on terror” (see border or ports issues) by the United States has dejected the morale of the American public (see recent polls) even more. Say for the administration’s core base—religious ideologues—the image of America’s has been tarnished and corrupted—even.

Americans are now apathetic. As a result of the screaming extremes, those in the middle, who believe that security is a necessity, desirable, but not at the sacrifice of our liberty, have been left wanting. Too much contradictory information bombards those who wish to determine the accuracy of our foreign policy for themselves, thus, the numbness Americans feel.

However, in the last three years—and for sure beyond, there is one certainty: our troops in the field from Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, South Korea, Germany, Dubai and so forth need our unconditional support. This is despite the competency of the leadership in office of the moment and their reflective foreign policy that sends them in harms way. Our soldiers are our children, our sisters, our brothers, our friends and their children, and of course, our extended family represents us around this vast globe yet small community. They are the make up and representative of the best of America and of humanity.

It is their concern for humanity, and all of us, we, the planetary citizens, that they sacrifice themselves. So, let us all support the soldiers in the field, here at home and those abroad. For they are the soldiers of the light, after all, when it is said in and done—it just another day in paradise for us in the land of milk and honey….


Sunday Afternoon Distraction

March 26, 2006

It has been a while since I had done something completely for myself. So, this will be it before I get to the task of my usual political commentary. Sometimes, I forget that there is something more than just grinding one's life into small arbitrary moments of sanity and rationality.

Some of you may have noticed in the side bar, that I have link called One Paradise View. This is a place where everyone is allowed to comment on the everyday mundane. Or, tell a story that is universal to a community. In this place, a virtual world can be created. This link, this page, will be diary, a narrative, a place to blow of steam. So, send me your emails, and add to the story, or whatever quirk of the day.

One final point, the rent-a-blog, also inside the side bar, is another form to be seen by other bloggers, and to givemore exposure on the Internet. I recently joined a site called, (BE), it is for everyone who wishes their blog was seen more. I will have a review/commentary on BE later in the week.

So, their you are folks, have great day! Here is the link,

One Paradise View

The Patriotic Voice

March 25, 2006

pictures by Lana

Talk radio, earlier this month, locally and nationally, had been in an uproar for a couple weeks, because of one teacher and one student: Jay Bennish and Sean Allen, the emotions of which had run high to highest vitriol and to the lowest of the bigoted haters.The controversy spewed through over the air waves on whether the teacher had the right to “banshee” an overtly bias political opinion to the “young” impressionable minds (they are high school students). In other words, when Jay Bennish, the teacher, in a seemingly endless tirade, in his high school geography, although, there is a question whether or not, if it was an advanced placement, or a simple elective high school curriculum course, have the right to use free speech. At any rate, the young idealistic teacher skewered the United States foreign policy, past and present, and likened George W. Bush, with over used Adolph Hitler comparison. His tirade began, in which some say, due to the prompting of his student Sean Allen, while the class writing down definitions from the blackboard.

This all began, when the topic of the State of the Union address came up. In the middle of his “instruction” trying to “illustrate” the folly of the United States government foreign policy error, he became animated, or at least his voice on the MP3 recording did.

This is how it began; Sean Allen recorded his teacher, Mr. Bennish, as he taught the Advance Placement Geography course, for the purpose of “studying notes,” at least that is what Sean says, as his teacher began to foment; and, now his teacher’s MP3 recorded voice echoes in the ears of conservatives. Sean and his father brought this teacher’s escapade to financial guru, sometime columnist, and fill in for Rush Limbaugh—Walt Williams—eyebrows rose but hardly a voice murmured.

Apparently, as this story was being posted on Mr. Williams’ website, Sean and his father were also in discussion with Mike Rosen, a local talk show host here in Denver, columnist, and also a sometime fill in for Rush, and they brought their MP3 recording to him.

A furor erupted, as Rosen serendipitously played sound bites of the “liberal” teacher’s rants. The disdain from Mike—and the folly from the other conservative hosts emanated with venomous glee.

Some said, and I paraphrase,

• “This is why we need vouchers!”
• “This is what we mean about the educational system!”
• “Liberal teachers indoctrinating our kids!”
• “Subversives!”

And then the hate and intolerance really began, one Jon Caldara, another local talk show host in Denver, advocated for Jay Bennish’s termination, never the mind the procedures to oust this “hater of America”. But he alas, Jon Caldara, surrendered to the fact that, it would not happen because of the apparent “corruption” of the educational system. Condemning the minutia of the educational system, the administrators, from the principal on up, in sweeping shrill emotionalism of apocalyptical dimensions. “He should be fired!” Jon Caldara emoted because of Jay Bennish’s overt disdain for capitalism (which is not a crime by the way) and politics. Caldara continued “The fact that these kids,” meaning high school students “are captive,” to “this teachers’ vitriol is abominable!” No doubt, this is partially true, because of the requirement of law.

However, a child is only captive if the parents allow them to be. In this go-go fast-paced world, parents are far too busy playing the role of keeping up with the “Joneses” than paying attention to what is going on in their own child’s school, PTA, or school board or with their own child for that matter (see the Columbine example). It is far too easy to blame the fanatic, than face our own capitulation, tolerance, and acceptance of values, in which we find divergent views from our own.

So, when the “conservative” attack jocks underscore the “miserable state of education” it fulfilled our a need to prostrate not only our own guilt—but also “enable” the continuation of the source of the distress and demonization.

The immaturity and imbalance of Mr. Bennish reminded the extremists, the conservative radio jocks of the right; correction, the shrill voice of the right that, they feel there is an indifference to their own inequity and inadequacy, and they felt, or “perceive” a lack of control of their child’s own interests.

The problem with this perception, however, is that the first educator of the child is the parent. Oh yes, there are Jay Bennish type teachers in school system, but it is the parent who has twenty four hour access, if they wanted to “indoctrinate” their own children of the legacy they wish to forward (see Pastor Fred Phelps of Kansas). And, if the child is lucky they have the quality “ideal” parents of Rob and Laura Petrie (The Dick Van Dyke show), or Howard and Marion Cunningham (Happy Days), or even the parents from the Cosby Show. It is the parents, some would say, responsibility, duty to teach their child discernment, or at least guidance to good judgment (before stepping a foot in school) so that they can understand the difference between right and wrong, and understand to some degree between to opine—and fact.

Picture by Lana

Fact, Mr. Bennish failure was and is his inability to see beyond his own intolerance—and to present a non-bias perspective of political discourse of American politics, in that, as his duty as an instructor is not be moralist or advocacy for or against a particular forum. In the case of Sean Allen, failure to foresee the consequences of his own actions (as a teenager one would expect him to know a little about this). For instance, he was repored as saying, Sean that is, “He did not expect the reaction from the media attention that received.” Hmm? Okay. An interesting comment, in that, this is from a young adult who wants to be a stand-up comic. His failure to see the brush fire of the moment only emphasizes his “turning in” of an “American hater,” “a liberal,” a “left wing nut” would not only explode but also implode on to him as well. Moreover, it seems particularly naïve with the present day environment of the “war culture” that Sean, and at least his parents, must have surely thought such a reaction to occur.

During such times, any contrarian opinions are “nuked” and considered treasonous even the messenger is shot. Sean—was the messenger. He might have been held up as the “hero of the day,” (for the right—anyway) but the political opposition will and sees him as a Judas and need to dissemble his voice. This is also true of Mr. Bennish as well; forever the two are tied together.

And then, there are Sean Allen’s parents and their failure to follow the rules, which is also a damning factor: accusations of failing to follow the chain of command only sullies their son’s “apparent” hero of the culture war of the moment (at least for the right anyway). And, the presumption of the father that the political fray would not dare touch his son in vile threats and repudiations was naïve, at the least. Sean Allen seemed far better equipped to handle the recriminations than his own parents (a masterful spin doctor he was). Ultimately, Sean Allen’s parents’ failure was their inability to protect, to participate, and to anticipate as well as counsel their own message for their son. Yes, the mother is a democrat, “a liberal,” and tried to defend her son aptly, while the father is a conservative, a conservative republican, and a party that stands for the “truth” (humph).

One other point, by participate I mean that the parents of Sean Allen, their own son seemed to make better choices than themselves. When listening to the MP3 recording Sean challenged his teacher, and critically thought out his questions. He seemed, Sean, to understand, at the least, perceptively, that the differing perspectives are essential to discourse. The question is, however, how much of this was his doing or his parents guidance, their overwrought emotionalism of Jan Bennish (or his father’s actually) rants seem to refute their credibility, and how much of this desire by Sean is to seek out fame.

And then there is the hypersensitive right and left shrills, and what my musings are really about: the patriotic voice. Lost in translation, in all the screaming, accusations, and finger pointing is the fact: the voice of dissent is drowned, demonized, and demoralized. To disavow one’s “obligation” as Roy Rappaport, the anthropologist from the University of Michigan might have said, to go against the ritual of “acceptance and conformity” to the hegemonic society (the majority of masses) is a betrayal of patriotism, God, and country—not necessarily in that order. To subvert any ideal of the majority is considered treasonous—and in this country, un-American. What is fascinating, however, is the “cognitive dissonance” that is America.

A country, the United States, born of individuality, of revolution, of independence—and pursuit of happiness—liberty that is, and yet our desire to suffocate, obscure, delineate—and yes, to destroy a differing perspective that is a necessary to our “free spirit.” Essentially, one must obey the “current” version of the “truth”; after all, truth is subjective; truth is what is defined by the hegemony, and the ritual of the moment. If it is in a “state of war” certain rules and principals are inviolate—and never to be “breached” (Rappaport) by the individual. If they do, these voices of dissent, condemnation to them with all the dispersion of Hell, “For they must have succumbed to an agent of madness; they are imbalanced and insane.” Needless to say, the damning of this individual is counter to our revolutionary past.

In the past, to dissent was one’s duty and meant to bring argumentation and rationality to the majority; the minority was a tempering a hand. This also is what means to be an American, or so we were told as children. But the conditions of war change the voice of dissent; it condemns it; it is not allowed. The concern, now with this war, is that this is not a “traditional” war being executed. The ending is ineffable, and the days of battlefield follies and traditional nation-states are gone. The hubris of “manned” terror-nations now reigns; and, to have a possible incredulous voice of dissent is to mean cowardice in the face of national pride. In spite of this conservatism, even liberals seem to desire (and have been relegated) to the formation of “acceptance” and “conformity” in order not to appear un-American, unpatriotic, and unworthy of citizenship—so in the early days of 9/11 they capitulated.

Now, the far left and right play politics and certainly betray the people they represent. Their disingenuousness and selfishness of gamesmanship that play into to the smallness of fear. Nevertheless, despite all these vessels and roads of separation, there is still time to set the course of conservation and pragmatism. This nation needs to return course of civility, and in spite of itself, it needs to “break” the “obligation” of the war mentally paranoia. Certainly discern, argue, dissent, and have well thought out rationality, but to be lost in emotionalism—no. After all, it is just another day in paradise, and this country is the tocsin and the beacon of humanities hope….

A Pragmatist View: It’s alRight to be Left

March 4, 2006

Traditionally, the Washington Post columnist are viewed as left leaning liberals that aim to demonstrate “error of our ways” with political correctness (Whew!). From some viewpoints they are ideologues whose motives must be suspected, because, after all, the Washington Post and their ilk are saboteurs to the American way of life. In so being that, the liberal left obfuscates and blinds Americans from the truth. In essence, papers such as the Washington Post, New York Times, and LA Times have agendas to shroud the public from its personal liberties, freedom of speech, and selfish intolerances; or at the least, that is what one is to believe.

So, when I see two diametrically oppose pundits virtually agree on the same topic, George Will and Richard Cohen and diatribe on the issue of free speech and to advocate for, in a fashion, David Irving’s oration and writings on the “faux” holocaust is tantamount to the mountain coming to Moses…Well, maybe not. But their points in their recent columns and their rationality within them are well taken. It is a mistake in a “free society” and I will add even during a time of “war” obscure liberties, such as “free speech.” To do so, is to defeat the example of our greatness and our inclusiveness. Admittedly, this may sound like a big tent moment, but it is not. Our democracy must not give in to our own insecurities, our greatest virtue and principle, the First Amendment, must not be relegated to the extremes of political correctness, from either side, it must be held up as our greatest asset.

By doing so, we must continuously live the example, if we are to maintain to be the “Golden City on the Hill,” we must stand proud and advocate with all fury that we shall overcome the hate, the desperation of fear. Fear makes us small. Fear places us in darkness. Yet, some would still excoriate and vilify those who questions our government’s secrecy, and its many faces of manipulation, or the laws that have been touted in the “people’s best interest.” In this “War on Terror,” I do not demonize, demean, or deny such critics, I applaud them. Why? Simply, because it takes courage to doubt, to challenge, to speak out, and not to succumb to one’s fear. Yes, some of their motives may not be virtuous, but in their suspicions, they have allowed us to examine and find the truth and to be on guard against the many demons of the fearful.

On the other hand, it shows our enemies, real and imagined, our resolve to control our own destiny. It also forewarns our government that, they must continue to earn our trust and that they may “execute,” with our blessing, “our” government, with the “rule of law.” And it is us, the citizen, and the citizen representatives that control, at our sufferance, the government. However, when we tolerate inane platitudes such as the restoration of speech on and off college campuses, high schools, or special corporate interest groups, then we are one step closer to the denial of the dream—of the freedom we have, seek, and desire.

Some of the capriciousness of this great experiment of freedom, which has evolved for more than 200 years, in which the preamble of civil discourse, argumentation was and is the allowance of the debate. It has grown into our symbol for humanity; we were argued into existence. And, such an experiment should not be vanquished into the realm of obscurity—but celebrated and held up as the enlightenment to the individual.

This is what I mean, I agree with George F. Will and Richard Cohen that the odious messages of David Irving, Ku Klux Klan, or a ranting liberal or social conservative must be heard. No to be obscured, to do so give them validation for those who wish to roll in the muck of ignorance and fear; we must as a civilization remain open with all our warts for all the world to see, in order to swallow the disarray and confusion of the majority of the moment. So, that not only the vast ocean of indifferences, of ignorance, can be stemmed—but their relevancies can be extenuated so that we can be there for our moments of pertinences.

These pertinences are for humanity’s aspiration, inspiration, and the continuation of the human condition’s better angels. In so being that, the grand leaders of our time, past and present, can act. These who were and are worthy would have had sacrificed in vane their messages and their lives (think Jesus, George Washington, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Ronald Reagan). Yes, even for persons such as David Irving’s denial of the Holocaust, Jay Bennish’s proselytizing, Ward Churchill’s intolerance, Pat Robertson’s condemnation, James Dobson’s demonizations for individual’s choices are examples of the cost of an open society, even in the minacious moments, such as 9/11. In fact, such moments should mettle our resolve. To sanction speech is to cower and to surrender to the enemy from within and to give into the enemy from the outside. Some of us may not always agree with our polar opposite, but it is alRight to be Left. And, lest we forget that, after everything is said and done, it is just another day in paradise. After all, we live together in the greatest city and we are the beacon for humanity and it is our burden to bear….