Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dignity for the Disrespected, What I Wrote 5 1/2 Years Ago, Middle East Mess in a Capsule and Dealing with B.I.G. Folks


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Dignity for Those Who Have Been "Disrespected"



The study of history gave birth to a group of offspring known as the Social Sciences. They include Political Science (sometimes called Government), Economics and Sociology.  Much more attention has been paid to the first two of these than has been devoted to the third.  Sociology is not, as some might believe, primarily a course of study aimed at training “social workers.”  Rather, it is the study of the groups which comprise our, or any, society. 

Changes in our nation’s social institutions, cultural values and most significantly, the “deindustrialization” of our economy have brought about a reshuffling of the groups which comprise our country’s society.  In a recent New York Times column, conservative pundit David Brooks suggests that the United States needs “a better form of nationalism, a vision of patriotism that gives dignity to those who have been disrespected..."  

The column, which you can read by clicking here, is about neither economics nor politics but rather, deals with sociology as it applies to what is going on in the United States today. "When people feel their world is vanishing, they are easy prey for fact-free magical thinking and demagogues who blame immigrants," Brooks points out.  Remember, we are electing a President in a few months!  Click on any blue lettering in this paragraph in order to  Read the column now!

Jack Lippman

                                                
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Los Descamisados Revisited

Back on December 12, 2010, about five and a half years ago, I posted the following piece on this blog.   In this year of a crucial, history-determining Presidential election, it is important that it be carefully read again today.

Los Descamisados

People without steady employment have difficulty paying for housing, be it rental accommodations or a mortgaged home, subject to foreclosure. They also have difficulty putting food on the table for their families. Unemployment benefits are a temporary help, but they are rarely enough to cover more than the basic necessities. When a search for a way of earning a living repeatedly hits a brick wall, public assistance (welfare) can be turned to, recognizing the sad fact that for the unemployed, once whatever savings they have are exhausted, poverty becomes a permanent way of life. Many Americans today lay awake at night thinking about nightmares such as this.



Here in beautiful South Florida in a county which advertises that it has “The Best of Everything,” almost 12% of families have incomes below the poverty level, more than 45,000 homes are in foreclosure and the unemployment rate exceeds 12%. The people are hurting. We close our eyes to much of this and watch American Idol or whatever NFL game is on TV. But the people are still hurting out there.


They were beginning to feel the pain back in 2008 when they elected Barack Obama to be our 44th President. But that didn’t stop the pain from growing worse. We have no guarantees that the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives will do anything to stop America from hurting either.

History teaches us that when situations like this exist, the people become restless and uneasy. They begin to wonder if they can do anything to allay their feeling of helplessness. In today’s world, Hamlet’s thought of taking “arms against a sea of troubles” is impracticable for them, even with our Constitution’s Second Amendment behind them. People in such circumstances will take rash actions, including following leaders who offer solutions, often radical ones, to their problems. This is the story behind the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. Without a “hurting” populace, neither would have succeeded. Robespierre and Lenin both offered solutions which included overthrowing and killing those in power. Despots in power today in Cuba and Venezuela got to where they are because the poverty-stricken people in those countries had nowhere else to turn. It was the same story in Argentina where Evita Peron gained the support of the “descamisados” (the shirtless ones) to put her husband, Juan, in power. 

Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have a true rapport with America’s increasingly large number of “descamisados.” 

    

Bill Clinton often said “I feel your pain,” but I doubt that he really did. The greatest danger in America today is that someone will come to power because of the people out there who are “hurting” and will turn to anyone to relieve their pain. The Germans did this in 1932, and didn’t know what they were buying into until it was too late.
JL (12/12/2010)
 

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The Middle East Mess

What do we do about the Middle East mess?  It's pretty clear that the Islamic State must be destroyed.  That is a given.  Another given is that we are not going to ask American families to send their sons and daughters to carry out that job.  The lessons of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have finally been learned.  We will, however, contribute our air power to destroy the roads throughout Syria and Iraq which are the pathways that tie ISIS's military movements together. Their troops should be forced to slog through pathless desert and rockstrewn wastes.  If a road is paved, we must destroy it.  As for bombing their nerve centers into oblivion, that is another story.  We don't like to kill civilians, and while we might destroy particular buildings in Raquaa, their supposed capital, leveling the entire place is something we will not be doing.  Too many innocent people live there.  We will have to count on Iraqi troops, trained by us if they are Sunni, and trained by Iran if they are Shia, to do the job.    


Once ISIS is destroyed, political and economic stability can only be established in the Middle East by the Islamic nations in that area.  That will be difficult, and impossible without the cooperation of both Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.  The interplay of animosities among the Saudis, the Iranians, the Syrians, the Iraqis, the Kurds, the Turks, the Jordanians and the Gulf States, all overlaid by the Sunni-Shia split will make this a lengthy process.  To begin it, Iran, Russia and the United States have to figure out a way to ease Assad out of power in Syria and replace him with a government acceptable to all of Syria's neighbors.  That's the first step.  I doubt if the job will be finished in the lifetime of anyone reading this. 


  Here is one idea for how a reconstructed Middle East would look, with Iraq disappearing.  This won't happen, but the map gives you an idea of the dimensions of the problem.  Its source:  "Blood Borders" - "How a Better Middle East Would Look"  -  Ralph Peters - Armed Forces Journal - June 2006.  This idea puts most of the oil in a newly created "Arab Shia State," encompassing oil sources presently in the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, all of which would object strenuously.

Once ISIS is destroyed, however, and even if the Middle East remains unstable, the rest of the world, Muslim and non-Muslim, will have to find a way to fight the ideology with which Wahabism (based in Saudi Arabia) has inspired Jihadists throughout the world.   Economically-deprived Muslims throughout the Middle East and elsewhere fall victims to this intolerant ideology.   Even without a base in an Islamic Caliphate, organizations and individuals will attempt to continue to foment terrorism, believing it is their only choice.  It will be an ideological battle, and one which will only end when Muslims rethink their religion's ideology in regard to jihad.  It has to start with individual Muslims.

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That struggle will be a very long one.
JL








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Bigotry, Ignorance and Gullibility



There are no other reasons for anyone to vote for a political novice, with no governmental experience whatsoever, and whose "successes" in the business world have often been at the expense of others, for the Presidency of the United States of America, the world's most powerful position, than those three words cited above in RED.

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That his likely opponent, possessing years of government experience, has a record which  cannot clearly be described as unblemished, is not a reason to vote for a totally unqualified candidate.  Secretary Clinton’s failings are far outnumbered by her strong pointsBut even those who, for a variety of reasons, would never vote for Clinton still have no valid reason to vote for Mr. Trump. He has no qualifications whatsoever for the Presidency ... None! 

(Which brings to mind the frightening question of who would really be running the Executive Branch, should he be elected.  Certainly, not Mr. Trump.)


 

That being said, it is extremely difficult to get this idea across to the bigoted, ignorant and gullible. 




For example, people who hate immigrants, Blacks and/or Latinos, probably because they feel that they threaten their jobs or don't want them in their neighborhood, cannot be called  “bigots” to their face.  It won’t change them.   

Similarly, the vote of someone who hates globalization, but is ignorant of the fact that without it most consumer goods would double or triple in cost, cannot be called “ignorant” to their face.  It won’t change them. 

Finally, the vote of someone who believes a “wall” or a religious test for immigrants would “make America great,” cannot be called “gullible” to their face.  It won’t change them.



The only way to attack bigotry, ignorance and gullibility is with facts, true facts!  Mexicans and Central Americans don’t come to this country to sell drugs and commit crimes; they come to work!  International trade agreements (like NAFTA and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership) keep consumer prices low in this country and contribute to job growth in new and growing areas.  And the ability to make business “deals” with builders and developers is no preparation for “dealing” with foreign nuclear-armed powers.
JL 

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