Wednesday, April 25, 2007

While I'm Away.....Debates!

I'll be away for a few days.

I hope you'll take some time to read through my many posts and leave me your comments.

Don't forget to watch the South Carolina Democratic Party's debate on MSNBC Thursday night, April 26 at 7pm, moderated by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and coming to you from South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, S.C. The debate will feature Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel.

If you have a question for the debaters, go HERE to ask.

Cross Country: Who Won the Democrats' First Debate? - WaPo

John Edwards: The Question I Wasn't Asked

April 28 - John Edwards discusses questions he wasn't asked in the debates

MSNBC's national affairs writer Tom Curry asks,What kind of battle will this be for Democrats in 2008? Will it be a referendum on the future of the party, or will it be a magnifying of minor differences?

Also, read about the exciting online debates to be engineered by the Huffington Post and Web magazine Slate. PBS host Charlie Rose has signed on to moderate the debates, and invitations have gone out to the announced candidates in both parties. The Democratic debate will occur after Labor Day, with the GOP edition at a later date.

In New Hampshire, the debate dates have finally been set. Democrats will take the stage at Saint Anselm College on June 3, Republicans on June 5. The debates will be televised statewide on WMUR and nationally on CNN. In a surprising turn of events, Senators Clinton and Obama have opted out of this debate. Needless to say, New Hampshire citizens aren't appreciative.

While I'm away, I'd also like you to see a post at The Executioner's Thong about the different ways the "faithful" approach their faith, the dangers of being on the extreme fringes of what some call faith, as well as the danger of mixing religion and politics in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Edwards:We Know Better/Does Rudy?

John Edwards has a thing or two to say about Rudy Giuliani's ludicrous and fear-mongering claim about the Republicans' being the only trusted keeper and vanguard of national security:
"Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that there is some superior 'Republican' way to fight terrorism is both divisive and plain wrong. He knows better. That's not the kind of leadership he offered in the days immediately after 9/11, and it's not the kind of leadership any American should be offering now.

"As far as the facts are concerned, the current Republican administration led us into a war in Iraq that has made us less safe and undermined the fight against al Qaeda. If that's the 'Republican' way to fight terror, Giuliani should know that the American people are looking for a better plan. That's just one more reason why this election is so important; we need to elect a Democratic president who will end the disastrous diversion of the war in Iraq."

Who is the greater danger?

Democrats view the November elections that allowed them to take control of the House and the Senate as a referendum on Bush's conduct of the war. Bush, however, says he stands firm on his latest strategy for winning the war and dismisses as counterproductive the Democratic call for withdrawal.

"That means our commanders in the middle of a combat zone would have to take fighting directions from legislators 6,000 miles away on Capitol Hill," Bush told reporters Tuesday. "The result would be a marked advantage for our enemies and a greater danger for our troops."

Yahoo News

There could be no danger greater than the boob who is a million miles from reality and who is currently in an isolated place where his only enemy is himself.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mental Illness: U.S.Needs to Wake Up

A few posts about the Virginia Tech tragedy have grabbed my attention and stayed with me since I first read them.

One is from a professor at Virginia Tech who posted at Daily Kos shortly after the shootings. He was justifiably upset about the way conserative writer Dinesh D'Souza had smacked down the people in our society (and at Virginia Tech) who do not profess a belief in God. The professor's response is a must-read. It was eloquently written and not at all offensive to his fellow citizens who are believers. All he asks is understanding.

D'Souza had written that according to atheists,
..the main characteristic of the universe is pitiless indifference … What this tells me is that if it's difficult to know where God is when bad things happen, it is even more difficult for atheism to deal with the problem of evil. The reason is that in a purely materialist universe, immaterial things like good and evil simply do not exist … Cho’s shooting of all those people can be understood in this way: molecules acting upon molecules.
In his response to such unfair judgment, the professor, who is an atheist, said,

I believe this young man was both sick and vicious, that his actions were both heinous and the result of a phenomenon that we must try to understand precisely so that we can prevent it in future. I have no sympathy for him. Given what he has done, I am not particularly sorry he has spared the world his continued existence; there was no possibility of redemption for him. You think we atheists have difficulty with the concept of evil. Quite the contrary. We can accept a description of this man as evil. We just don’t think that is an explanation. That is why we are exasperated at your mindless demonology.

I responded as follows:

Allow me to add something about D'Souza's "evil" (14+ / 0-)

There is a mental health issue that I believe should arise front and center here and replace the religion-loaded word "evil." Too often, a troubled person's deep psychological scars may seem to have healed over, but the root of a that person's torturous inner life remains living and boiling underneath. Without regular and easily-accessible professional intervention, we can expect anything to happen - from an individual's withdrawl from society to the lashing out with violence that some people - like Dinesh D'Souza - would all too easily classify as "evil" and put away on a shelf.

We can't put this on a shelf.

This will happen again.
No matter how much we pray.

We all have a responsibility to the community in which we live, study, and work. Sometimes we just don't feel that we have time to care, but we must understand that there are people living in our communities who are not faring psychologically well. There are signs that might easily tell you someone's troubled - yet with others it may be only the person's family and closest friends (if they have any) who may know.

In the richest nation on this earth, there is no excuse for having a mental health treatment system that is not easily accessible and affordable to all citizens, and one of which all citizens are encouraged and educated to seek help rather than to be stigmatized for it.

I work in a program in which the curriculum teaches nonviolent conflict resolution skills and emotional literacy to our children in grades 2-8. If this type of program cound be implemented in all schools, I'm not saying that a tragedy such as this one could have been prevented, but it can only help our society to give all of its children the tools they need to be self-aware and to make sound and healthy decisions towards others. I've never met an "evil" child, but I surely have seen some who need psychological help desperately.


The other diary was written by poster named poligirl at the John Edwards 2008 blog. She was brave, in my opinion, to share some very private and personal information in order to drive home the point that America needs to wake up and realize that doing more as a society to understand mental illness will help prevent many tragedies that take place today.

We need to do more as a society to understand mental illness. We need to do more as a society to give treatment for mental illness parity with regular health care. We need to pour more research into this treatment; one of the biggest complaints is that some of the medications have such unbearable side effects that many times, people quit taking them and go back to whatever substance had become their crutch. We need to not treat mental illness as something shameful; that shame alone prevents so many people from seeking help as well as stops possibly concerned friends and family members, co-workers, fellow students and teachers from broaching the subject with the person or their family. We need to learn the signs so we can be a source of support for those we know who might be going through it; they need to know that it's ok, they're not alone, there is help. We need to stop using words such as "psycho" and "deranged" about people suffering with mental illness - they only serve to feed the stigma. Mental illness is not crazy; it's just another illness like all the rest. We need to wake up America, and realize that there is something we can do to help prevent many tragedies that take place today.


There is one more op-ed that I read in my local paper (Syracuse Post Standard) titled 'Evil' or mental illness? by Joyce Gramza that makes a similar point about the words we (and the media) use to distance ourselves from the reality of mental illness:

I'm yelling whenever the talking heads call the gunman angry, hostile, cold-blooded, evil. Or a strange, weird loner who "snapped."

These words are so easy to confuse with mental illness, but be advised, they are most likely useless for describing the world, emotions or experience of the delusional gunman.

I agree with my spouse that these words are distancers, and that when the media uses them, it contributes to society's fear and collective distancing of ourselves from the insanity that can strike any of us, so we prefer to ignore it in our midst until and unless it can't be ignored.

I hope you will take some time out of your busy day and read these op-eds and diaries. The writers, in my opinion, have something very important to tell us.

CENTCOM Boss: Stop calling it a "long war"

It looks like this isn't going to be an endless global war in terror after all. Fresh off of Reuters News:

President George W. Bush used the phrase ["long war"] in his State of the Union address last year.

"Our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy," he said.

But [General John] Abizaid's successor, Adm. William Fallon, has decided the term sends the wrong message to the Middle East, the area covered by his headquarters, by suggesting intense combat with many U.S. troops will continue there for a long time to come.

"The idea that we are going to be involved in a 'Long War', at the current level of operations, is not likely and unhelpful," Lt. Col Matt McLaughlin, a Central Command spokesman, said in an e-mail message on Tuesday.

"We remain committed to our friends and allies in the region and to countering al Qaeda-inspired extremism where it manifests itself, but one of our goals is to lessen our presence over time," he said.

"We didn't feel that the term 'Long War' captured this nuance," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said Central Command, based in Tampa, Florida, had "moved away" from the phrase in the last two weeks. He said Fallon, who took command last month, ordered the change after a recommendation by staff.

The shift is in keeping with public comments by Fallon, who has said that he is not a patient man, that time is short in Iraq and he wants to see results.

It sounds as if Adm. Fallon is saying "Git 'r done."

"World parliament" at the UN / International Compact for Iraq

"Humanity faces the task of ensuring the survival and well-being of future generations as well as the preservation of the natural foundations of life on earth. We are convinced that in order to cope with major challenges such as social disparity, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the threat of terrorism or the endangerment of global ecosystems, all human beings must engage in collaborative efforts.

To ensure international co-operation, secure the acceptance and to enhance the legitimacy of the United Nations ... people must be more effectively and directly included into the activities of the United Nations and its international organisations

This statement above is part of an appeal recommending "a gradual implementation of democratic participation and representation on the global level" at the United Nations. Signed by 541 politicians, academics and business leaders from Europe and around the world, it is an appeal for the creation of a UN parliamentary assembly to overcome the "democratic deficit" in global affairs and give citizens a bigger voice. Some of the signers: Dame Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop; Arthur C Clarke, author of 2001: Space Odyssey; four Nobel Prize winners; and 377 MPs from 70 countries.

Here is more from the statement, which clearly democratizes the UN process in the "globalization" age, creating a footing for the inevitable participatory international politics of tomorrow. Direct elections of leaders are proposed for future consideration:

Such an assembly would not simply be a new institution; as the voice of citizens, the assembly would be the manifestation and vehicle of a changed consciousness and understanding of international politics. The assembly could become a political catalyst for further development of the international system and of international law. It could also substantially contribute to the UN's capacity to realize its high objectives and to shape globalization positively.

A Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations could initially be composed of national parliamentarians. Step by step, it should be provided with genuine rights of information, participation and control vis à vis the UN and the organizations of the UN system. In a later stage, the assembly could be directly elected.

We appeal to the United Nations and the governments of its member states to establish a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations. We call for all organizations, decision-makers and citizens engaged with the international common interest to support this appeal.

I can just see former UN ambassador John Bolton pulling out his moustache hairs after reading this.

_ _ _ _ _ _

In somewhat related news, Political Theory Daily is reporting that "The United Nations-sponsored International Compact for Iraq, which seeks to consolidate peace in the war-torn country and pursue political, economic and social development over the next five years, will be launched in Egypt early next month."

When the U.S. pulls its troops out of Iraq - when the occupation ends - the international community will be ready. George W. Bush needs to stop the politicizing this war and do the people's will - accept the funding offered by Congress on their reasonable terms and move this occupation toward its conclusion - despite surge architect Frederick Kagan's pipe dreams about achieving a victory that we know can never be qualified. Bemoaning the American public's negative view of the Iraq war, Kagan thinks that "premature judgments influenced by a week's headlines, whether positive or negative, are unwise." Kagan must have never heard the song "It's Too Late" by the venerable songwriter Carole King. Someday, perhaps, when U.S. military can actually learn how to successfully fight a fourth-generation war instead of boasting about small battles won while the war is dismally lost, a President might be able to ask the public to support a war of which he [or she] is confident will be over before too many citizens are sick, ashamed, and disgusted by it. With Iraq, it's too late, baby.

SEE: As life fades away, Baghdad becomes a memory

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Clinton Global Initiative Has Mid-Year Meeting

Hillary Clinton says that her husband Bill would be a roaming ambassador to the world if she happens to be elected as President. A completely new and different First Lady role? Not really, for First Ladies have alweays been good ambassadors... but you have to admit, a former President as First Lady is something totally new and filled with unique possibilities. The public interest in having a former president in the traditional First Lady role all depends on who that former President was. I mean - consider Laura Bush running for President and her husband being a roaming ambassador to the world. Dear Lord, wouldn't that be the pits?

Bill Clinton was busy this week with his Global Initiative mid-year meeting, where some of the powerful stories from among hundreds of CGI commitments that are making a difference around the world were highlighted.

This is an underplayed story that I believe is very important because alleviating global poverty and fostering positive people-to-people relationships across religious and cultural lines is key to not only the purely humanistic benefits, but to our own national security in the age of fourth-generation warfare and genocide.

Please take a moment and read these featured stories:

Ubuntu: From Vulnerability to Commitment

Proctor and Gamble: Bringing Clean Water to Africa

Different Faiths, Common Beliefs: The InterACTION Youth Exchange - In January of this year, 15 Americans, including Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus, traveled to Amman, Jordan to live and work with 17 young Jordanians for eight days. While in Amman the group fostered strong relationships and understanding while traveling, having interfaith dialogues and sharing customs.

Stay informed about the CGI and the Clinton Foundation

Clinton Global Initiative at MySapce