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Posted by on Jan 28, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 1 comment

Busting the Myth of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

 

 

Let’s destroy a myth right here and now.

“They’ve been fighting over there for centuries.”

We read and hear this canard all the time. Today, I’ve seen versions of the falsehood splattered all over social media. The saying goes — the Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting ever since biblical times.

Fact: No they haven’t.

The region was relatively peaceful until the creation of Israel in 1948 (actually the British mandate period after WW1 would be more technically accurate). Whatever one’s opinion of Israel and its “right to exist,” the territory today commonly known as Israel/Palestine was devoid of conflict from circa 1500 when the Ottomans ruled the land and peoples over four centuries until the 20th Century. While most of the world was engulfed in various land invasions and massacres, Palestinian and Jews lived and worked together side by side.

Pan-nationalist movements and religious extremism began to boil in the late 19th Century, coming to a neo-colonial “solution” with the Isreali state’s creation following WW2.

Sadly, the region has been a powder keg for nearly 70 years. I think most people, regardless of religion or politics or nationality would like to see peace. But let’s start the discussion with some facts and an understanding of actual history.

Next time you read some idiotic comment that goes: “They’ve been fighting over there for centuries” ……

…..perhaps you should mention they must be referring to EUROPE, which has been fighting for centuries, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions ever since the Crusades.

Yeah, I’m getting a little sick here of morally-superior acting Americans with absolutely zero knowledge of world history playing the “fighting for centuries” card when: (1) that is factually incorrect, and (2) most of our own origins have wallowed in bloodshed since the days of the Romans.

“They’ve been fighting over there for centuries” = bullshit.

One Final Thought:  I’m not a cartoonist, but I have a great idea for a cartoon that brings home this point. Have a Jew talking to a Palestinian in 1945 at the end of World War 2 and pointing at a map of the world and seeing Europe and much of Asian in ruins, and then one says to the other: “There’s no chance for peace. They’ve been fighting over there for centuries.”

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Posted by on Jan 27, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 0 comments

Starrfucker

 

 

Who was that hookworm who wiggled himself into the mighty chamber of United States Senate today, arguing in defense of the dark, venal, and incurable metastasis that is the Trump criminal presidency?

Who was that anti-constitutional parasite who once spent three years and blew $70 million in tax dollars investigating a shady old Arkansas real estate deal from more than a decade earlier — and then thousands of witnesses, truckloads of documents, and tens of thousands of billable legal hours later — ended up with the high crime and misdemeanor of ONE blow job?

Who was that scandal-plagued ex-college prez who resigned in disgrace only a few years earlier who now has the audacity to claim:

“The Senate is being called to sit as the high court of impeachment all too frequently…Indeed, we are living in what I think can aptly be described as the age of impeachment.”

It’s Ken Starr!

Wow.  What a past from the blast.

Twenty years ago, Ken Starr tried to argue an inappropriate sexual affair was grounds of impeachment and a guilty verdict in the U.S. Senate.

Today, the same Ken Starr slinked his way to the defense table, telling America with a straight face there’s been too much impeachment lately. Yes, the very same Ken Starr intent to bury Bill Clinton is now utterly dismissive of dirty deeds by THIS criminal president.

If Whitewater + Blowjob = Impeachment in Ken Starr’s legal universe…..can someone please compute his similar math calculation as to how: Abuse of Power + Obstruction of Congress = No Impeachment?

Hey, Kenny — I got another equation for ‘ya:

John Bolton = Monica Lewinsky.

Now, let me enjoy watching you try to unroll enough legal duct tape to keep Bolton’s mouth shut.

 

Note 1:  I was in agreement then and still agree now that Clinton should have been impeached for committing perjury.

Note 2:  “Starfucker” is the title of a Rolling Stones song from the 1970s.

Photo Credit:  Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald, via AP, File

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Posted by on Jan 23, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 1 comment

I Just Sent a “Contribution” to the Republican National Committee

 

Republican National Committee

 

I dropped this envelope in today’s mail. Yeah, Trump — I got your “contribution” right here.

Whatever flunky Trump toad opens the envelope is in for one helluva’ surprise.

Here’s the Backstory: I presume it’s social media pranksters who sign me up for pro-Trump fundraising and other Republican schemes. I get this kinda’ shit all the time. Usually, this junk mail goes straight to the trash can. But since I was personally invited to become a member of the “President’s Advisory Board” — for a FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION, of course — well, I had to read the offer.

The RNC sent me a survey, with laughably loaded questions. Survey questions like “Do you believe the Democrats’ impeachment proceedings against President Trump, who was duly elected by the people and has made America great again, is a politically-driven witch hunt?” You get the idea.

I had the option of joining the “President’s Advisory Board” at various levels of commitment. $25 makes me an “Associate Member.” $50 makes me something higher. $75 is the next step. $100 gets me “Inner Circle” status. For $500 or more, my name gets personally seen by the president who will write me a personal “thank you” (done with autopen, no doubt). It all sounds like a giant casino rewards program. All that’s missing is $15 in free slot play and the 2 for 1 buffet coupon.

Well, I had my own idea of a contribution. I’ll just leave it at that. Nothing dangerous or illegal, mind you. But, I want to make sure the Trump Republican fundraisers know that I took their solicitation very seriously. The “$100” handwritten on the outside of the envelope should ensure it’s opened and read by an actual Trumpster.

Please, RNC — send me more surveys and offers. I’ve got plenty more “contributions” to make.

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Posted by on Jan 20, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 0 comments

My Thoughts on Alan Dershowitz

 

 

MY THOUGHTS ON ALAN DERSHOWITZ

Alan Dershowitz has been picked to be on Donald Trump’s legal team in the U.S. Senate’s upcoming impeachment trial. Here are my thoughts on this high-profile legal celebrity.

I keep on hearing that Alan Dershowitz is a great legal scholar. Yet, what I’ve observed over the past 25 years is an artfully-crafted illusion, the concatenation of a media-obsessed subterfuge of publicity willing to argue *any* side of *any* legal controversy, no matter how ridiculous, so long as he gets to appear on television and reinforce his own mythology. I haven’t seen nor heard Dershowitz argue *anything* convincingly since the Von Bulow trial, and that fabrication four decades ago was spun by a movie.

First, let’s get one thing out of the way. I have no issue with any attorney taking any case to provide the best legal defense possible. I need not explain that to readers. If you don’t understand it or disagree, then please stop reading. We have zero common ground. What I take exception to, and hereby question is Dershowitz’s presumed commitments to justice when he’s so often been on the opposite side of is own arguments.  Moreover, I’m not casting aspersion to the legal defense of murderers and scumbags, rather — I’m stating Dershowitz has demonstrated an appalling lack of ability to persuade and be effective, despite countless opportunities to argue in dozens of settings and cases.

Dershowitz’s willingness to play the provocateur of persuasion is certainly good for theatrics. He’s a master ringleader of any political circus once he enters the big tent. Yet, he’s become so soiled with personal and professional contradictions, it’s now impossible to take him seriously, on anything. Especially anything with a political connotation. Go back and watch Dershowitz’s commentary on the Clinton impeachment during the late 90s, or his countless appearances in defense of murderer O.J. Simpson. They’re cringeworthy.

Do you want a better example of Dershowitz as a legal and political failure? I’ll give you three, each off the top of my head:

1. Years ago, ESPN did a mock civil trial on Major League Baseball and the battle between big-market and small-market teams. The question was on baseball’s competitive balance. It was a bold three-hour experiment on live television. Dershowitz argued on behalf of small-market teams, a view which I was vociferously in agreement with. Yet, Dershowitz was destroyed by opposing counsel Bruce Cutler. It was a major league ass-kicking. I had several arguments swirling in my head while watching, which Dershowitz failed to bring up. It was an embarrassing performance and the first hint that Dershowitz wasn’t nearly as smart or gifted as we thought.

2. Following the 2000 presidential election debacle (the Florida results went to the Supreme Court), Dershowitz wrote a book titled How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000. Entirely sympathetic to Dershowitz’s argument, I was seeking supporting material on my own for Gore’s case. So, I bought and read the book. Rarely has any text ever swayed me in the opposite direction, but somehow this legal scholar managed to do exactly that. This book, written for laypeople (non-legal people like me, was an appalling misfire. How does an author manage to defeat his own argument within his own text? I vowed never to waste $25 on another Dershowitz book again.

3. A few years later, Dershowitz wrote The Case for Israel, supposedly a defense of the Jewish state. Eager to expose myself to opposite points of view, I cracked open the book at a Barnes and Noble and spent an entire afternoon suppressing disbelief at how poorly-constructed Dershowitz’s written arguments were, both morally and politically. Any contributor to Foreign Affairs could easily have deconstructed and destroyed Dershowitz’s so-called “defense” of Israel. Once again, he managed to move a reader *away* from his side of the argument.

In fairness to Dershowitz, I’ve seen him debate numerous times (twice in person). Once, he debated Alan Keyes on the topic of religion in government. Predictably, Dershowitz took the secular side and mopped the floor with Keyes, which wasn’t exactly saying much. More recently, Dershowitz (I thought) won a heated debate about BDS (sanctions against Israel) against Dr. Cornel West, who appeared woefully unprepared in the back and forth. Those are the only two moments of Dershowitz’s lengthy career when he advanced his case in any way, and both wins were softballs.

Now, Dershowitz somehow gets pegged for Trump’s legal defense. Call me unimpressed.

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Posted by on Nov 22, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Politics | 0 comments

Dallas’ Darkest Cloud: Growing Up in the Shadows of the Kennedy Assassination

 

kennedy assassination

 

Writer’s Note:  Today marks the 56th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  Some 19 months before that tragic day, I was born in Dallas.  My family lived in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, where Lee Harvey Oswald also resided and was ultimately captured.  Today’s column reveals what life was like growing up in the shadows of the Kennedy Assassination.  A similar version of this article first appeared at this site in 2013.

 

I’m one of the few people alive who lived near the two most shocking tragedies in modern American history.  I say this with no sense of pride, but do wish to bear witness.

On September 11, 2001, I lived on the ninth floor of a high-rise condo building in Arlington, VA, across Interstate 395, directly overlooking the Pentagon, which became engulfed in flames that morning after being hit by a jet airliner in the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil.

Ironically, Arlington, VA is where John F. Kennedy’s body now rests.

On November 22, 1963, the Oak Cliff section of Dallas was my home, only a few miles from where President Kennedy was assassinated and an even shorter distance from where Lee Harvey Oswald was later caught by Dallas police at the Texas Theater on Jefferson.

I don’t remember anything about that tragic day in Dallas.  I was too young to have any memories.

But everyone from Dallas around that time developed a deeper sense of awareness than most of what the assassination meant.  Sometime later, we came to our own opinions about what had happened.  We carried around scars, lingering long afterward.  That terrible moment in our nation’s history even gave Dallas an inferiority complex.  It forced some of us to try and go out and prove to the world that we weren’t like the assassin at all (who was actually from New Orleans and even lived in New York City for a short time).  We weren’t “the city of hate,” as many suggested.

 

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The Oak Cliff section of Dallas lies just to the south of downtown, on the opposite side the Trinity River.  It’s considered the city’s stepchild.

Oak Cliff only a few miles away from the big banks, tall buildings, and giant office towers that eventually became Dallas’ trademark.  It’s only a short ride from far wealthier sections of the city — including Highland Park, University Park, and North Dallas.  But it might as well have been light-years from the rest of Dallas society — the privileged upper class who glanced across the Trinity River and the giant flood plain and looked at Oak Cliff as “the other side of the tracks.”

My mother and father divorced early in my life.  They mostly grew up in and around Oak Cliff.  So did many other famous people you may know.  For example, Stevie Ray Vaughn, the iconic blues guitarist, was from Oak Cliff.  Long before then, the notorious bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde hung out around the far western fringes of Jefferson Avenue.

For me, perhaps the most shocking common ground, however, is my parents’ connection to South Oak Cliff High School.  They were students at the same school where (now retired) NBA star Dennis Rodman later went and played high school basketball.  Pretty amazing to think my mother and father sat in the same classrooms as Dennis Rodman.

Today, Oak Cliff is just about all Black and Latino.  But back during the early 1960s, it was a vast melting pot of all ethnic groups.  Sort of a smaller Brooklyn.  No one seemed to have much money, but everyone got along fine.  We never had racial problems or the kinds of troubles associated with the Old South.  Although I moved away to Chicago and Albuquerque for a time (my father worked an air-traffic controller), we returned back to Oak Cliff again during the 1970s where I attended a half-White, half-Black school (T.W. Browne).  Race just wasn’t a big deal to us kids.  We even had lots of interracial dating.  Maybe the grown-ups thought differently about race than we did.

 

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I don’t remember ever seeing the actual house where Lee Harvey Oswald lived, nor do I know the exact spot where he senselessly gunned down a Dallas police officer named J.D. Tippet.  Oh, I probably rode my bike down those streets and later drove my car across the pavement where Oswald walked many times over the years.  But the passage of time is a giant eraser.  It tends to wipe out the things we don’t see.  Most memories fade slowly.

When I was a kid, I watched a number of movies that played at the Texas Theater.  One seat in the center of the auditorium was different than the others.  It was painted black.  That was the infamous seat where Lee Harvey Oswald was sitting when he was captured by police and tried to resist arrest.

Growing up, I also remember the tasty barbecue joint located next door.  It was called “Po’ Boys.”  That local dive served the tastiest sliced beef-brisket in the city, topped off with a spicy sauce, washed down by an ice-cold mug of root beer.  That was the best-tasting thing in the world when you’re 12-years-old, or 57-years-old.

Years later, I worked as a bartender at a restaurant downtown.  A husband-wife team waited tables where I worked and somehow managed to save enough money to lease the storefront where the old Po’ Boys had been and open up their own Mexican restaurant.  Their last name was — and I swear I’m not making this up — “Kennedy.”  Oh, the irony.

Whether it was watching movies or eating barbecue, no one ever brought up the name Lee Harvey Oswald, nor did we give much thought to the things that happened that awful day back in 1963.  No one that I around knew him, nor remembered him.  It was like he never existed.

 

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Some people think sports receives far too much attention in our society.  Perhaps they’re right.

But unless you’re around my age, or perhaps a little older, you will never be able to understand the significance of what the Dallas Cowboys football team meant to our city, and it’s people.  To most out there reading this who are from other cities and the fans of other teams, you have to try and imagine the terrible black eye Dallas suffered because of the Kennedy Assassination.

The worldwide anger directed at the city was (and is) completely unwarranted.  After all, the actual crowds that welcomed the President on that November day were friendly, even wildly enthusiastic.  Moreover, Kennedy wasn’t killed by a local right-winger.  He was murdered by an avowed Marxist who lived most of his life elsewhere.  The assassin also had no long-term links to Dallas, other than living in the city and its suburbs on two separate occasions.  At the time he killed Kennedy, Oswald had been living in Oak Cliff for about seven weeks’ time.

Yet, Dallas and its citizens were largely blamed as a whole for the crime of the century.

What happened in the aftermath of the Kennedy Assassination certainly didn’t help the city’s image in the larger court of public opinion.  Although the Dallas Police Department did a remarkable job at capturing Oswald quickly and linking the assassin directly to the crime with evidence that was overwhelming (within just hours), his shocking murder on national television only a few days later in the basement of the city jail by Jack Ruby, a strip club owner with ties to organized crime, made the world think of Dallas as an outpost in the wild west.

Fortunately, without intention, the NFL’s Cowboys came to deflect that image over the years.  They became good, very good in fact, at just the right time.  In 1965, the Cowboys began a record-setting string of consecutive playoff appearances.  To outsiders, they became a new symbol of a more modern city and a source of pride for everyone.  Much later, they even became known as “America’s Team.”  I think the adoration many people have for the Cowboys stems from people needing some sense of relief from the pain of those darkest days in the city’s history.  Back then, they were the shining star that allowed the city to heal from what happened.

 

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Growing up around where the Kennedy Assassination took place gives me a more sentimental attachment to the events of that day and the people who were witnesses of history.  But it doesn’t provide me with any special advantages as to suspecting who was really responsible.

After the Warren Commission Report was released, a cottage industry of conspiracies sprung up.  Some of the authors and investigators who penned various theories were well-intended, and even thought-provoking.  Others were total quacks.  In some cases, important questions were brought to light for the first time that needed to be asked, specifically about facts that weren’t covered in the Warren Commission Report.  Of course, the links between Oswald and Ruby to Pandora’s Box of possibilities — ranging from organized crime to the Central Intelligence Agency, to Fidel Castro, to the Russians — made for some entertaining speculation.

Now 55 years later, I think the evidence is overwhelming that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone — as did Jack Ruby when he shot his target in a moment of passion.  While plenty of other theories were worthy of consideration at one time, we’ve now reached the point when no additional information, nor final conclusive answers, are likely to be forthcoming.  Perhaps the real story of what happened in Dallas that day was just as it was initially reported.  That’s not the answer many people want to hear.  But the truth isn’t always the most interesting of possibilities.

That’s probably the saddest tragedy of all, that the leader of a nation could be gunned down and history could be forever changed — not by the hand of a grand conspiracy — but rather from a simple inexplicable act from a loner.

The streets in Dealey Plaza and around Oak Cliff where the assassination and its aftermath took place remain virtually identical today, just as they were 50 years ago.  But for all those who were around during that time and who remember, nothing is quite the same as it was, nor will things ever be the same again.

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