Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On being a Republic

I have had some people say to me...

"We don't live in a democracy!  We live in a Republic!"  
 Yeah, we live in a Democratic Republic.

"Democratic Republic- a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them." source

But, wouldn't it be better if everyone directly voted on where tax dollars go, new laws, and when to go to war?

No.  No it wouldn't.

Adopting a direct democracy would be akin to governing by polls.  I've ranted about this before

Leaders don't lead through polls...or they shouldn't.

The main reason that we have a republic, as framed by James Madison in the Federalist paper #10: ' to prevent instability, injustice and faction'

"A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts."

1.) To prevent tyranny of the masses or factions.

"It may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people."

2.) a natural organizational factor of having a democracy with over 300,000,000 people.  It is natural to elect representatives.  The process of funneling individual points of views through an elector is to 'refine and enlarge the public view.'

Madison explains how our bicameral congress balances local community interest with regional community interest:

"By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the representatives too little acquainted with all their local circumstances and lesser interests; as by reducing it too much, you render him unduly attached to these, and too little fit to comprehend and pursue great and national objects. The federal Constitution forms a happy combination in this respect; the great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular to the State legislatures."

3.)  Individuals are not often afforded the knowledge to make well informed decisions, so we presumably elect those who can make those decisions for us. 

Americans, notoriously, are under educated in political matters.

There are a few assumptions Madison makes, extreme considerations about the threat of tyranny...that is- if tyranny of the masses or tyranny of factions succeed with their
'vicious,' 'unjust,' 'oppressive,' 'prejudiced,' 'corrupt,' 'sinister,' 'wicked,' 'mischievous,' 'passionate,' 'violent,'
schemes, in "which one party may...disregard(ing) the rights of another or the good of the whole." 

His assumptions may have been true in his day, but are these assumptions true today??

1.)  Representatives, chosen by a large number, are checked by the scrutiny of many people, guarding against, 'unworthy candidates' and the 'vicious arts' of politics.

2.)  'People will choose the most attractive merit and established characters.'

3.)  That representatives will be,

"the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations."

4.)  Extending the sphere of representation will lead to more parties.

" Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other."

Next post:  What about Parties?

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Modern Courting Guide

I was going to write about 'Being a Republic' today, but...

Let's talk about something more intrinsic to the happiness and freedom of a human being- Love.

Specifically, how will we talk to our children about love, sex and relationships?

Sometimes I remark that 'hippies ruined everything', generally when referencing our hedonistic culture. 

Now, I know, I know- that the hippie generation made much progress- important progress, like environmental legislation, civil rights for minorities and equality for woman.  (Though, I reserve, there may be a distinction between people who were active in the movements, and who were free riders.)

The sexual revolution was a triumph over biology, letting women schedule or even refrain from having babies.  Very important on so many levels. 

Unfortunately, what was also lost were the protections to human relationships that societal structures like courting upheld.

I have two kids, a 4 year old boy and a 2 year old girl.  I will be teaching them abstinence and courting.  Not The Duggers kind of courting, but a more modern kind... a simple, empowering guide. 

Re-introducing a modern tradition of courting in society might result in stronger, longer friendships, a more civil society and an increase in lovers being matched more harmoniously.

So, what is this courting I am talking about?

1.)  Flirt with a purpose.

Showing interest in someone is a very personal, intimate move.  Flirting indicates a first move.  Once it is made, there is expectation, anxiety and questioning.  Flirting can go somewhere, or nowhere, but either way there will be an intimate process involved. 

The human heart is not something to play games with.  Showing interest carries a heavy responsibility
to be respectful and sensitive about the others integrity and emotions.  In fact, showing respect and care should be a top quality of a mate.   

2.)  Test social compatibility

Once one is committed to moving into a more intimate world with another- it's time to test.  Can the two
have fun and respect each others actions in social settings?
Specifically, I will be encouraging my kids to spend group time at places that encourage  interaction and

3.)  Test personal compatibility

If the two can get through a group setting with respect and admiration for the other person, the next step
is one on one time.

Again, I will recommend to my kids to have one on one time in a place that
encourages openness and personal interaction.

Step 3 is where the first kiss might take place.  

If two can get through these first three stages- it's off to the races!  Have fun any way that calls...except...

4.) Sensual contact 
The more sensual contact a pair has, the more they are under the spell of powerful chemicals meant to bond a couple.

If step four comes before 1-3, a couple may find themselves battling the confusing 'feelings' of
attachment, while 'knowing' that something just isn't right.

Oh well!  The drugs of sex- serotonin, oxytocin and amphetamines will take care of that little unhappiness.  For how long?  ?????

I have no problem talking to my kids about sex.  I prefer them to be well informed, embarrassment be  damned.   It is the mystery of love, the fairy tale of love, the 'not knowing how to do it' that can be the dark space that our kids jump through when they finally make the decision to have sex.  I want to illuminate that moment for them as much as I can, though there will always be a mystery. 

So what of sensual contact?  I don't believe my kids will refrain from sensuality, so I will offer them guidelines.  Kissing is great!  Kiss kiss kiss!  Making out is fine too.

5.)  Multiple partners

I don't want my kids getting stuck in the emotional trappings of some one's obsession.  I want my kids to feel in control of their bodies, their emotions and their love lives. 

If the guidelines are adhered to above, there will be nothing too engaging to prevent a little love adve;nture with many persons in the same time frame. There is no claim being made.  There is no expectation of sex (which itself seems to lend itself as a contract of bondage). 

Courting is the practice of setting boundaries for oneself and for others in reference to ones self.  

A modern tradition of courting can be the foundation for a community of people who understand freedom through respect, love and individual liberty. 

The pros:

More fooling around, more partners (this I think will be a great motivator)

Self-respect, self-knowledge, practicing self-restraint

Engaging those we connect with the most in a respectful inquiry of deepening friendship- without the destructive process of emotionally and physically divorcing the person after casual sex.
Possibly better matched couples through a careful search among thousands of options. 

The con:

Less sex

When to have sex

I don't know!  That's a personal decision.  The guide above gives enough practice in self awareness, that if they are carried through, give me the confidence to allow my kids deal with that moment privately, themselves, as it should be.

 Some advice from the oldest sex therapist.  -"we need connection beyond sex."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Terror from the Middle East

Let us recap up to 1967 for a sec...

1.) Colonialism is in decline, but not exactly history yet

2.)  Britain tries to recede from the ME, but is still caught up in colonial treasures like the Suez Canal in Egypt and oil interests all over the ME.

3.)  Israels Zionist movement has succeeded in creating a Jewish state, and in 1950 claimed Jerusalem as their capital against the will of other ME actors, and without any diplomatic finessing of the Palestinians who owned and lived on the land. 

4.) Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced, many were massacred, and by 1967 all were in refugee, occupation camps or under the discriminating eye of Israeli leaders in the the state of Israel.

Now let us define terrorism:  

"the unlawful use of -- or threatened use of -- force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives."

Why use terrorism as a tactic?

When people have no way to address grievances, when people are threatened by a larger force that they cannot legitimately fight back against, the only tool is terrorism.

Groups in the ME had no way to protect themselves from a new aggressive neighbor.  Military strengths were not matched, there was no sympathetic ear in the international community, and for Palestinians no legitimate path to address their grievances---this is why they chose terror.

Also, as a people without a state, any violence they create is considered an act of terror.  If the Palestinians would have had a state they could have legally fought against Israeli occupation and defense issues. 

20 years after a Jewish state is established by the international community and  
hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced without representation.  

The first legitimate organization of the Palestinians is created.  The PLO, or Palestinian Liberation Organization vows to fight Israel and purports that Israel is not a legal nation state.

Excerpts from The Palestinian National Charter 1968...

" The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland, and inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations; particularly the right to self-determination."
"Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity, and progress. Israel is a constant source of threat vis-a-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world. Since the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian people look for the support of all the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them all, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland."
 "The phase in their history, through which the Palestinian people are now living, is that of national (watani) struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Thus the conflicts among the Palestinian national forces are secondary, and should be ended for the sake of the basic conflict that exists between the forces of Zionism and of imperialism on the one hand, and the Palestinian Arab people on the other. On this basis the Palestinian masses, regardless of whether they are residing in the national homeland or in diaspora (mahajir) constitute - both their organizations and the individuals - one national front working for the retrieval of Palestine and its liberation through armed struggle."
"The liberation of Palestine, from a spiritual point of view, will provide the Holy Land with an atmosphere of safety and tranquility, which in turn will safeguard the country's religious sanctuaries and guarantee freedom of worship and of visit to all, without discrimination of race, color, language, or religion. Accordingly, the people of Palestine look to all spiritual forces in the world for support."
 "The liberation of Palestine, from a human point of view, will restore to the Palestinian individual his dignity, pride, and freedom. Accordingly the Palestinian Arab people look forward to the support of all those who believe in the dignity of man and his freedom in the world.
5 years after Israeli's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights
22 years after Israel declared Jerusalem their own capital- against 
     international agreement and opinion. 
24 years since the state of Israel was declared by the UN
54 years after the Zionist National Congress starting emigrating to Palestine

The terrorist group, Black September, took and killed 11 Israeli hostages at the Munich Olympics.  The act was named 'Iqrit Bir'im' after two Christian villages taken and destroyed by Israeli forces in 1948.

The month of the Black September: The PLO and its factions vs. Jordon 

The group Black September was named after the month of conflict between the PLO, Palestinian factions and Jordon.  The number Palestinian refugees in Jordon was comparable to the number of proper Jordon citizens, and the refugee camps were, in effect, a state within a state.  The PLO was based out of their refugee camps in Jordon.

PLO military operations with Israel threatened Jordan's security (they could not defend themselves against Israeli retaliation), the leadership in Jordan became an enemy of the PLO.

September of 1970 was rife with fighting and death for Jordan and the Palestinians.  Jordon ousted the PLO that year, and they moved to Lebanon.

The presence of Palestinians in Lebanon added to tensions between Christians and non-Christians in the Lebanese civil war and later in 1978 led to conflict between Lebanon and Israel.

In 1981 Egypt's Anwar Sadat, who was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for peace negotiations with Israel, was assassinated.   

Assassinations between Syria and Lebanon have been riddled with tension between support for terrorist organizations that vow to protect the Palestinian  cause (Syria) and those who are moving forward, looking toward the West and ignoring the 'Palestinian refugee problem' (Lebanon). 

Why were Palestinians targeting other ME leaders?

The PLO was created by the Arab League for the purpose of defending Palestine and defeating Zionism.  According the Arab Leagues founding documents all Arab nations including, TransJordon, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria were supposed to back each other against outside interests that threaten independence and sovereignty in the newly created ME states. ME states quickly came to find that fighting with Israel was against their interests, not just because they would have to engage in war with Israel, but because the US, in particular, pressured nations to favor the West instead of their own agreements.

Cowing to extra-national interests outside of the Arab League was against the League's agreement   Many wars, assassinations and terrorist activities can be traced back to this issue of Israel and Palestine.

Such actions whittled away at what could have been a strong economic and cultural alliance.

Reflecting on now and the future

I can't help but wonder what fruits we would have from the Middle East if the specter of colonialism had not continued into the 20th and 21st centuries with the Israel/Palestine conflict.  

The zeal of the forces loyal to the defense of Palestine are at once rooted in a sense of justice and terror.

The road has been long, and the past has been muddied.  As acts of violence are stacked upon acts of violence, it is almost impossible to see a just impetus for the hatred that gushes out of Arab lands for the West and western allies.

Yet we must see.  If we want to tackle the ubiquitous threat of terrorism in the ME, we must see that there has been a grave injustice done to a people- the people of Palestine.

If the Palestinians had garnered support from religious and freedom seeking allies, as they had expected, in the beginning of their struggle, the Palestinian's grievance would have been clear.

However, the persistent ignorance and ignoring of the 'Palestinian problem' has led a people who were prepared to fight for a just cause to a mixture of people who: want to fight for justice; people who can manipulate the cause for power and use violence as a mean of intimidation and coercion; and people who simply kill out of a sense of desperation, helplessness and vengeance.  

The further we get from the truth, the more impossible it is to sort out the trouble with just causes and solutions... once the Palestinians are 'gone', as in, completely subdued into second class citizenship in other countries or killed- the Palestinians will have nothing to gain but vengeance.  They will keep fighting, as the sore that has been ripped in their histories, their families, their dignity and their souls burns and burns for generations to come.

If the world cannot address the 'Palestinian problem' while there is still a just solution (recognition of crimes, reparations, an international Jerusalem and sovereign Palestinian state)...how will we quell the system of terrorism the 'Palestinian problem' has spawned? 

As bad, the example we set in not condemning the illiberal actions of our greatest ally, Israel, is....well, an illiberal one...as in we give credence to militarism, might makes right, and the subjugation of 'others' for the special privileges of the elite.

Also, we have followed suit in violating international law, with our unilateral, pre-emptive attack on Iraq in 2003, and the surge of illiberal policies (especially the Patriot Act) and attitudes (anti-civil rights/theocratic) that flowed from US government and progressive movement of conservatives to the right after 9-11.

Is there a point of no return on the ME and the US?  When will it be too late to change course onto a new path of reflection and mediation of  future civic and civil disasters?

Next week:  On being a Republic

Make a great day.

Interesting articles I came across:

Interview with Saudi ambassador Bandar Bin Sultan about Bin Laden and 9-11

Story of Iqrit and Bi'rim citizens still looking forward to returning home.  


Monday, August 4, 2014

Israel, Terrorism- The Six Day War

What were you doing the summer of 1967?

This is what was happening to Palestinians:

"Israel established a military administration to govern the Palestinian residents of the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Under this arrangement, Palestinians were denied many basic political rights and civil liberties, including freedoms of expression, the press and political association. Palestinian nationalism was criminalized as a threat to Israeli security, which meant that even displaying the Palestinian national colors was a punishable act. All aspects of Palestinian life were regulated, and often severely restricted. Even something as innocuous as the gathering of wild thyme (za‘tar), a basic element of Palestinian cuisine, was outlawed by Israeli military orders." Source

1967 was the year of the Six Day War, fertilized by an arms race between  Israel and Egypt and competition in the region over water resources and freedom of navigation.  

As I have mentioned in posts earlier this week, clashes between Zionist immigrants and native Palestinians had been happening a bit since the immigration of Zionists in the early 1900's.  The worst clash happened during the Arab Revolt against British colonialism and Zionist immigration in 1939, in which over 5,000 Arabs died against Israeli and British forces.

The same year Britain abandoned it support for Israel in the MacDonald White Paper, and supported an independent authority for Palestine.

Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs dates intensification of terrorist attacks starting in 1952, four years after the war of Israeli Independence or to Arabs, The Catastrophe, created over 700,000 refugees.

There are now about 5 million Palestinian refugees, the largest refugee population in the world, mostly from the Wars in 1948 and 1967.

The Suez Crisis
In 1954 Britain released the Suez Canal to Egypt as part of Egypt's independence.  Egypt promised to compensate owners and allow all access to the canal.  In 1956 Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal and closed the canal to Israel.  Egypt's actions prompted a Military response from Israel, Britian and France.  Britain and France had been owners of the canal as part of their course in colonialism.   

Israel was successful in capturing the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt and receded from Sinai a year later. 

Pressure from Russia and the US ended the war.

It is noteworthy that this war is considered one "the single most important event in the history of African independence" because it gave hope to many Africans for resistance to British and French colonialism.

It also set the scene for The Six Days War.  

The Six Day War
Egypt militarizes Sinai, and closes the Straits of Tiran to Israel.

There were a couple of issues that combined to bring Egypt, Syria and Jordon,  once more, against Israel.  

According to MERIP, the Soviet Union is responsible for providing false information to Syria about Israel building up forces on the Syrian border.  According to this source, Syria requested assistance from Egypt, which is why Egypt starting building up forces in the Sinai Pinisula.

There was also a water issue over the Jordon river basin, which started in 1964, and came to a head in 1967 as Israel attacked Syria and Jordon's Headwater diversion plan, aimed at diverting water before it reached Israel's National Water Carrier System meant for the coastal plains and Negev Desert.  

In any case, as forces built up around Israel, it made a pre-emptive strike on Egypt's air force.  The pre-emptive strike proved successful and Israel 'won' the war.

Israel took the Palestinian territories previously held by the Arab states (since the 1948 wars) and the Sinai Peninsula as spoils of war (not fashionable after WWI).

The International community requires Israel to release the land and return to it's previous 1967 borders with UN Resolution 242.  Israel does not comply.

Map from Wiki

Terrorism increases as Palestinians are denied land and rights
Terrorism from Palestinians increased as:
Israel took over more land;
more Palestinians became refugees with no representation or right to a home;
and Palestinian homes and land were confiscated.  

Some lands have been and are given to Jewish developers and the Jewish National Fund, which stipulates land can only be bought and used by Jewish people and not Arabs- even Israeli Arabs.

The Situation as I see it so far...

There are structural causes for these conflicts.
The main structure is colonialist ideology.

1. Israel's plan for the area of Palestine has always been colonial.

2. Britain and French influences were being voluntarily and forcefully dismantled as the acceptance of colonialism waned. 

The above points 1 and 2 conflict, and this is an interesting conflict that continues to this day.

Whereas colonial influences leave the Arab world, and Israel enters copying colonial patterns. 

The colonial patterns Israel uses are losing popularity and authority worldwide just as Israel starts its mission.  

3.  Britain left Palestine with no official state in existence.

The specter of colonialism left Arab nations to occupy Palestinian territories in 1948.  Israel gained statehood through the UN in 1949, but there was no ratification for a state of Palestine.

As Palestinians had no voice, and were occupied by other Arab states, Israel had no Palestinian leader to negotiate with and instead acted as a colonial power negotiating with other colonial powers- all without regard to the plight or rights of self-determination of Palestinians. 

Another structure is Zionism

This is the ideology carried out by Israeli authorities which believes:

1.  G-d gave the land to Jewish people, and their mission is to create a wholly Jewish state.

This ideology has driven policies to occupy and develop all the land they can as their advantage allows, which has:

     Prevented Israel from conceding Jerusalem as an international (as originally envisioned) or as a shared
     city  (as part of a two state solution...and a sticking point for Arabs);

     Encouraged war crimes by a compelling spirit to take land

2.  'Others' are less than the Jewish people. 

This has led to anti-civil rights policies carried out by the state of Israel including:

Restriction of land to only Jewish people
Different gov'ts for Jewish and minority peoples
Different schools for Jewish and minority peoples
Imprisonment of millions of Palestinians whose movements are restricted inside camps
Official imprisonment of 1 in 4 Palestinian men, or over one million people imprisoned in Israeli jails.
Indiscriminate killing of Arabs in the state of Israel and the camps.  
Admonition of the entire world and UN concerning human/civil rights violations

As Israel took over 'protectorship' of Palestinians, they were denied free movement, freedom of association and many other basic civil and human rights.  

Refugee populations are mostly in Egypt, Syria, Jordon and Lebanon, and have spurred many more wars in the larger ME and also terrorist attacks on the Western allies.

The first case of a suicide bomber surfaced in 1993. 

More on this in coming posts...

Make a great day.