Monthly Archives: October 2018

ISIS is Innocent

For a long time I thought people  like Osama bin Laden and the leaders of ISIS were evil. That they fomented violence against the US. They should be blamed for 9/11 and other bombings and murders committed by their supporters.

By was I wrong.

I just learned that propaganda and words have no value. No influence. Mere words cannot be the cause of violence. Or even influence violence. The supporters of Trump have taught me that I was wrong.

Donald Trump has made a living calling for violence against his opponents. Calling the jailing of Hillary Clinton, implying that she is a criminal . Claiming that Barack Obama created ISIS, implying that he is a terrorist. Calling Mexicans and Guatemalan immigrants rapists and murderers. Claiming that CNN is the enemy of the people. The list goes on.

But none of the president’s words or claims or lies has any effect on his supporters. According to Trump and his team. And Fox.

When Trump supporters murder Jews or blacks or immigrants or gays, they are acting only on their own. They are not part of any racist movement. They are not part of any white nationalist agenda. They are not influenced by the President of the United States. Mr Trump can say whatever he wants and it has no effect on them.

So the Trump administration would have us believe. His words have no influence. He cannot be blamed for setting a tone. He has killed no one. He simply says stuff.

Which why I can now proclaim that Osama bin Laden is an innocent. He never flew a plane into the World Trade Center. He could not help it if some of his followers took his rhetoric too seriously. Bin Laden just said stuff. It had no effect on his followers.

And ISIS is innocent. Yes, they say Americans are evil. But it is not their fault that some wack jobs in the Middle East kill Americans to root out evil. Their words do not matter. They have no effect on their followers.

So, let’s stop criticizing racist speech. Let us rehabilitate Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin and the rest. They only said stuff. Like Mr Trump, they are innocent of any actions taken by their followers.

ISIS is innocent.

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Extreme Ithaca Liberals

My congressman, Tom Reed of NY-23, has once again started his biennial smear campaign against any candidate who dares run against him. Those of you who follow Mr Reed may remember his previous campaigns in which he simply outright lied about the political positions of his opponents. Or maybe you are familiar his lockstep support of Mr Trump. With most of his financing coming from out of the district organizations and PACs , and corporate organizations like ALEC, he is very successful in flooding the mailboxes with lies and half-truths. (97% of Reed’s money comes from PACs and large donors, 2.5% from small donors). It works.

This year one of his managers  has started a website devoted to the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals”, which is supposed to be an insult to his mostly  moderate, mainstream and slightly liberal opponent, Tracy Mitrano. Some of his supporters even show up at rallies with “Extreme Ithaca Liberal” banners.

I guess when you can’t run on your accomplishments all you can do is try to smear the other guy. To his credit, Tom Reed does have a couple accomplishments. He has voted to end the ACA a number of times, taking away health care from his constituents. He voted for the billionaire tax giveaway, to the tune of $1.5 trillion which I suppose does benefit a couple of his constituents here in the economically depressed western NY. And he wants to pay for that tax giveaway by cutting Social Security and Medicare. Fair enough.

But enough about Tom. Let’s investigate the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals“. Those of you not familiar with this part of the country may wonder why he uses the word “Ithaca“. After all, his opponent, Tracy Mitrano lives in Penn Yan, not Ithaca.

Well, “Ithaca” is a dog whistle for “highly educated”. Home of Cornell University. On that account Mitrano stands guilty as charged. She does have a BA, MA and Ph.D. from different institutions. As well as a JD from Cornell, (hence the “Ithaca” connection.)  While many would consider being educated a plus, I suppose to Reed and his supporters that may be a disqualifying if not terrifying quality in a lawmaker. Who knows?

But, I digress. Back to the “Extreme Liberal” part of the equation. Let’s look back over the years and see what “extreme liberals” have done for America. Or, as Tom would say, how have they destroyed America?

I offer a partial list of “extreme liberal” programs, all of which were opposed at the time by conservatives as being either “socialist” or “communist” or an infringement on “states’ rights”. I would like to see Tom respond to these extreme liberal programs and tell his constituents which ones he wants to do away with. Which ones made America a worse place to live? Here they are:

Social Security. Before the Social Security program was out in place over 50% of elderly Americans lived below the poverty level. And many more were just on the cusp.  FDR and the extreme liberals passed the program. At the time the opponents called it “communist” and predicted it would quickly lead to the downfall of America. Today, that number of elderly below the poverty level is 8%. Is that a bad thing?

Medicare. Before Medicare many elderly could not afford to purchase health insurance of any kind. The emergency room was their only option. Now all older Americans get preventative and necessary health care through Medicare. The extreme liberals made it happen.  Is that a bad thing?

Medicaid. Before Medicaid millions of poor Americans could not afford health care. Including millions of children. Now, the poorest of the poor can at least get basic preventative care and treatments. The extreme liberals passed this law. Is that a bad thing?

The ACA, (Obamacare). Before the ACA was enacted over 40,000,000 still had no heath insurance. They would get their health care at emergency rooms.. People with pre-existing conditions could not get insurance. Basic preventative care was denied to millions. Now, Mr Reed WAS able to get health care. Because of his obesity problem he and his doctor agreed to an operation.  He and his doctor thought that was the best treatment for him. Extreme liberals support that. Extreme liberals are happy that Mr Reed and his doctor were able to make that decision. Extreme liberals believe that all Americans should have access to the same quality of care. Is that a bad thing?

Social Security Disability. Before this program the disabled and children who lost a parent simply had to fend for themselves. When Tom was a little boy his father died. Luckily the extreme liberals had provided that his mother could get extra money for baby Tommy to help with the bills through the Social Security survivors program. Is that bad? Oh…by the way.. In 2015 Tom Reed  proposed a rule to stop funding the Social Security Disability program when it gets low. This has always been done by reallocating funds from Social Security. A fix that had been done under both GOP and Democratic administrations.  This rule would mandate the disability program  to cut benefits instead.

The Voting Rights Act. Many states, especially in the south, had laws designed specifically to keep African-Americans from voting. Poll taxes. Literacy tests. Grandfather clauses. Simply refusing to register blacks. The voting Rights Act changed that, trying to make sure all citizens can vote. The extreme liberals made that happen. Was that bad?  (Evidently so, since many states have re-instituted voter suppression laws now that the Supreme Court has overturned parts of the Act.)

Equal Accommodation Laws. After World War 2 men who fought and were injured fighting totalitarian governments came home. Some of them were told they could not eat in restaurants. Could not use the bathroom. Could not drink from the water fountain. Could not sit at the lunch counter. Had to ride in the back of the bus. Could not buy a house in this neighborhood. Could not send their children to the good school. Could not enter the university. The extreme liberals thought that was wrong and changed the law to prevent discrimination based on skin color. Was that bad?

I could go on and on and on, Food Stamps, Environmental Protection laws, minimum wage laws, worker safety laws, etc.  The bottom line is that most of the progress we take for granted in our daily lives was due to the “Extreme Ithaca Liberals” types.

So when Mr Reed’s supporters show up with signs and post websites about those “Extreme Ithaca Liberals” we might take a moment to ponder what our society would look like today without Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Minimum Wage Laws, the EPA, The ACA, Voting rights and a host of other programs we take for granted as normal.

Tom Reed would take those programs away if you give him the chance to do so. He is not an “Extreme Ithaca Liberal“.

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The Volunteers

(On October 9,2018 I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau.)

Part 1.

Walk Auschwitz.

Words cannot describe. I have seen photos and movies. Schindler’s List. Sophie’s Choice. I have read the accounts and read about the numbers.

Walk Auschwitz.

Jews. Poles. Hungarians. Children. Russians. Gypsies. Women. Englishmen. Priests. Elderly. Rabbis. Intellectuals. Homosexuals. Disabled. Mentally ill.

Walk Auschwitz.

Over 1,300,000 human beings. Gassed. Starved to death. Shot. Suicide by throwing themselves against the high voltage fence. Hanged. Loaned out. Experimented on. 1,300,000 human beings. A number so large it loses meaning.

Walk Birkenau.

Walking the same walk as the victims. Walking the same walk as the guards. Piles of suitcases with names and addresses written in bold. The pots and the pans. Brought by women to their new home. To cook for their families. The prayer shawls, clean and fringed.The hill of shoes. The room full of human hair. The hair. Long and brown. Flowing hair of a young women. Braids. The tight braided hair of a young girl. The hair. So much hair.

Walk Auschwitz.

If you can walk through Auschwitz and Birkenau and not be sickened, there is something wrong with you.

If you can step into the gas chambers and gaze at the ovens and not be disgusted, there is something wrong with you.

If you can view the small starvation cell, the asphyxiation cell, the gallows, the rows and rows and rows of wooden buildings holding the living dead and not be nauseated, there is something missing in you. You are less than human.

Part 2. On another level

Walk Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Auschwitz and Birkenau were the natural endpoint of the Nazi philosophy. The logical conclusion to the concept of the “master race”

Wedded with the philosophy of corporate profit . the marriage of the coercive power of the state and the financial power of corporations. A philosophy unfettered by normal human emotion or empathy.

The human beings housed at Auschwitz and Birkenau contributed to the profits of the German war industry. The chemical industry. The medical establishment. Science.

German corporations paid the NAZI regime for the laborers. Worked to death because more were always on the way. Cheap. Efficient. Labor.

Companies like Bayer (of Bayer aspirin) paid for research subjects. Try new medicines. Cheap subjects for drug trials. Human beings as test subjects for new procedures. Use and dispose. Next, please. Plentiful and cheap.

The Buna-Werke synthetic rubber factory. Labor needed for the war industry. Priority labor from the camps. Eleven hour days. Minimum required by law.

The perfect, logical union of government power, racist philosophy and corporate profits. Auschwitz and Birkenau were death camps, but they were also very efficient money making machines.

Auschwitz and Birkenau were inevitable. The only possible result of the “logic” of the master race. All “others” were less than human. As such they could be used and abused. They SHOULD be used and abused. Tortured. Killed. Terrorized into submission. Worked to death. Experimented on. All for the good of the master race. Logical. Precise. Cold, calculated logic. For the homeland. Vaterland. The Reich.

What about the doctors who experimented? The guards who tortured? The business owners who profited? The Nazi commanders whose wives and little children lived with them just outside the electrified fences? The German soldiers who brutalized and mocked and punished? The men who  dropped the canisters of Zyklon B into the gas chambers? Who watched and waited patiently for the women and children to choke to death?

No one was forced.

All were volunteers.

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