Archive for July, 2008

I’ve got my man.

Posted in political with tags , , , , on July 31, 2008 by barryshapiro

I’ve considered the upcoming presidential election for some time and I have finally decided who my candidate is: Chuck Hagel, Senator from Nebraska.

I’ve never been to Nebraska but if I were to go I am sure I’d like it because I’d find more people there like Chuck Hagel. Hagel has all the requirements for the presidency; he’s a Vietnam Vet against the war in Iraq, he’s fiscally conservative but has shown a reasonable temperament on social issues, he’s a self made millionaire, he seems to have a good sense of humor.

That last part must be key for anyone who wants to keep his or her sanity in that pressure cooker job known as the President of the United States. Of course, Bush is funny… just not on purpose.

I’ve liked Hagel since I read an article about him in the New Yorker last year. Based on what I read, I began to look at him a bit more. I had hoped he would run for the Republican nomination but he’s too smart and independent for the power brokers of the GOP. He’s also not a favorite of the religious right, another reason for me to like him. I read on the MOMocrats blog that he even used the word “impeachment” when questioned about his reaction to the posibility of Bush/Cheney declaring war on Iran. That’s a ballsy move from even a “maverick” Republican.

Of course, Senator Hagel is not running for president but there is a possibility that he could be the Vice Presidential candidate for either party. I have some doubts about Obama and I have way more doubts, I’d call them serious doubts, about McCain. Both are decent guys at heart but is either one really the guy you want to have in the White House? Hagel could be a deal breaker. I don’t think McCain is smart or gutsy enough to think about Hagel. I don’t think Obama has the cajones to make a Republican his #2. I’ve been telling my friends that the selection of the VP candidates would weigh heavily on my vote. I’m declaring right now that the candidate that selects Chuck for his running mate is getting my vote.

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How do you spell moron? Another Congressional hoax.

Posted in political, Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 31, 2008 by barryshapiro

I was fascinated this morning to see clips of the Senate debate on a national energy policy, as reported on CNN. It is amazing to me how the major news gathering agencies buy in to all the bullshit that the government spews and report it to the public as if it were real.

Republicans are taking shots at the Democrats, who are refusing to pass a bloated and misguided energy bill before the summer recess. The key to the energy bill is off-shore drilling, which the oil companies (and hence their Republican lackeys) want, and they want it bad. The Democrats, hardly knights in shining armor, are opposed to off-shore drilling and claim it will not have an impact on the price of gasoline, which is really what all the hoopla is about. This time around, for a change, the Dems have it right. Drilling for oil in the Gulf will not affect the price of oil one iota and it certainly would have zero impact on gas prices.

Big Oil is experiencing record windfall profits. Where is the money going? Certainly not toward developing new sources of energy. Exxon-Mobil, one of the ugliest companies in history, has reported all time profit taking. Dutch Shell just today announced an increase in profit of 33% from last year. That’s 11.6 Billion US Dollars if you are counting. All that cash and the cost to fill your tank still keeps creeping up and up. The national average for a gallon of regular is hovering around $4. 12 states report averages higher than $4.

Here’s a fact: THE PRICE OF A GALLON OF REGULAR WILL BE $5.00 THIS TIME NEXT YEAR.
Do I need to repeat myself? It has absolutely nothing to do with anything the wind bags in Congress would like you to believe. It has nothing to do will domestic off-shore drilling, nothing to do with the commodities markets, nothing to do with scarcity or the rising cost of refining crude. And it has nothing to do with the cost of a barrel of Saudi crude. The jerks in Congress, the jerks we elected, do not want to tell us the truth because they know that if they told the truth, not only would they not get reelected but we’d probably tar and feather the lot of them. The price of a gallon of gas was agreed to years ago and what we are caught up in is just the steps being taken to ramp up the price to that average. Barring some colossal disaster or a new development in the Middle East, like a nuclear blast in Tel Aviv, that’s where it’s going. As we get closer to the election, the price of gas will dip and we will hear squeaks and squeals from the oil and gas lobby about how we can’t wean ourselves from foreign oil if we don’t drill in Alaska or off the coast of Louisiana. Then someone will get elected and the price will continue towards the target price point.

What is sad is that these Congressional pinheads are using this information to play politics as usual. They have the audacity to get up in front of the world and point fingers across the aisle and blame the other guys for what they have already agreed to. What a bunch of snake oil salesman they all are.

It matters not if the next president is Obama or McCain, it will have no effect on the price of gas. And it also means that all of those emails circulating on the net telling us to boycott this oil company or that are also meaningless blather. I have no problem if you choose to personally boycott Exxon or Gulf (in fact I have refused to purchase gas at an Exxon station for many years for reasons of my own), just don’t think it tells anyone anything other than you don’t like them. They don’t really care anyway.

Our challenge as citizens is in finding and electing officials who will tell the truth, vote with the big picture in mind, make decisions on what is best for America instead of their war chests, protect our environment, educate our children and take care of the health of our people. They also must protect us from our enemies, to be sure, but they also must do whatever it takes to raise our stature with the rest of the world, and not just by means of shock and awe.

And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of some of these beautiful suckups who disguise themselves as news reporters and find some Edward R. Murrows to get our information from.

Bourbon Street Blues

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 29, 2008 by barryshapiro

A friendly place

A friendly place

Where has all the money gone?
            -sung to the tune of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”
Where has all the money gone, long time passing…
where has all the money gone, in New Orleans…
where has all the money gone, to politicians pockets, each and every one.
when will we ever learn, when will they fix this town…

 

Here we are in the Big Easy, my second trip since Katrina and there is good and bad to report. On the surface, in the tourist areas of the French Quarter and the Warehouse District, things look good. Yes, there is a lot of repair and construction still going on and obvious spots where business have gone, never to return. One of my favorite furniture stores has gone out of business. And the Quarter is jumping, even at this traditionally slow time of year. But the areas hit the worst are still suffering.

Most tourists, business people and vacationers hang in their hotel and flood the Quarter at night but never see these other areas or get to meet the people who make this area so special. I decided to take a walk and poke my nose in some places I hadn’t seen before. I spent some time in a local Deli and met a woman I will refer to as Melanie, a native New Orleaner whose family has owned the business for over 30 years. Melanie had another business but the company was forced out of operation by City authorities, or so she claimed, so she came back to the family deli business. Though the store is back to normal, and doing its usual business, her home had only recently gotten back its electricity and renovations were way behind. This is just too hard to believe but it is a common story you hear.

Back in November, on my last trip to the Crescent City, my cab driver told me his neighborhood had not gotten the power back and I hear now that in some areas it is still a problem. They all blame local government, not the Federal government, for the slow progress and all the locals seem to feel that the millions poured into the area have been squandered by their own politicos. If this thinking is due to a history of corruption or to actual facts I couldn’t say, but it seems to be the unanimous consensus.

Is this where the money went?

Is this where the money went?

How is this possible? When earthquakes destroyed the roads around LA and the Army Corps of Engineers declared it would take years to fix, government and the private sector made it happen in months. Why not New Orleans? Why does the most powerful nation on earth plow trillions into a war in a foreign land but ignore the very serious problems of one of its most culturally rich and diverse regions? Is it racism? Is it that the Christian right Administration doesn’t condone the hedonism that New Orleans represents to some?

I don’t know but I do know that it is to our nation’s shame that we have not made this area whole. I have to be honest and say that when I first saw the devastation of Katrina on TV, I was one of those who thought that it might be best to just plow the whole thing over and let it go. But when you are here in this wonderful town you realize quickly that we can never let her go. When you leave the Big Easy you take a little bit of her home with you.

Some of the photos you see here were shot on a walk through the Warehouse District on a rainy Thursday.

Wall Art

Wall Artalley way downtownstreet scene

A-Rod, Kabballah and world peace

Posted in personal with tags , , , , , on July 21, 2008 by barryshapiro

Look, I really don’t care if A-Rod is screwing Madonna or divorcing his wife but this Kabballah thing has got to stop. The pennant is at stake and, even though Alex Rodriguez has never been Mr. October, or Mr. Clutch Anytime for that matter, we need him to get to the playoffs. I must confess, I am a bad Jew and I don’t know very much about the Kabballah. I am, however, a great Yankee fan and have been since I can remember. I don’t know much about the Torah but I do know a lot about the Mick.

I had a girlfriend once, who I will refer to here only as Ms. A, and she was also a ‘bad Jew’ who, dated “goys,” didn’t go to Temple and only observed the holidays in a marginal way. You know how that goes…. a gift for Hanukkah but also one for Christmas, a Seder dinner for Passover but no ceremonial reading at the table. Anyhow, I was dating this girl and she wanted to get married in a bad way. As far as I was concerned there was no way. The longer the relationship went on, the more she brought up the topic of marriage and the more I told her: no way Ms. A.

After a while, I noticed that the more I said no, the more dug in she became on the subject. Also, she became more “religious.” She started using Hebrew words, threatening to go to Temple on Friday, night instead of the movies with me, and she kept saying things like “how will our kids grow up if we don’t teach them about ‘our heritage’?” I told her it didn’t matter since we were never going to have kids. This only seemed to make her more determined – both to convince me of the inevitability of our impending union and the need for us to be more in touch with our inner Jew. The main reason I stayed with her as long as I did is simple: SEX. She was terrific sexually and in particular, excelled at oral sex. (Now I know all the stories about how Jewish girls don’t like oral sex but, at least in this case, it is simply not true.) It’s always been hard for me to walk away from great sex even if I wasn’t in love (or even in like) with the person I was having great sex with. Anyhow, eventually we did split up but some months later I got a call from her saying she wanted to meet and just talk about where we were at with our lives. So, we made a date and I want up to her apartment.

It was a small one bedroom and as I walked around I noticed she had made a few changes. For one thing the giant David Bowie poster that had been over her bed was gone. I never was a fan of Bowie and I hated looking up at Ziggy Stardust whenever we were having oral sex. Also, she had added a set of books on the Kabballah that sat on top of the TV. I asked her if she was studying and she informed me that in fact she had joined the Kabballah Center in Manhattan: the same one where all the celebs were going. She even saw Madonna there but didn’t get an autograph.

We spent a few minutes or so reviewing what we had been up to over the last months apart, what she thought went wrong with our relationship, about our jobs and then proceeded to tear off each others clothes and went at it. In fact, it seemed to me that the sex was better than we had ever had before and I asked her if there was any correlation between her enhanced sexual voracity and her new found love for Kabballah. She acceded that Kabballah had brought her inner peace and therefore everything was better for her now, even sex. Almost made me want to run out and join up.

So, it seems that there is a relationship between Kabballah and enhanced sexual pleasure which may explain A-Rod’s new found adherence to the cult, if in fact he is actually adhering to this form of celebrity Kabballah.

Patricia Hope, the light of my life, says that “People are always looking for something…” and that “Madonna is a sexual magnet and people are attracted to her.” This somehow makes perfect sense and allows for how A-Rod could be sucked right in to the Kabballah Center at this critical time because, as far as I know, what most guys are looking for is S E X! The problem is that most great athletes are great because they have, aside from their natural physical skills, an uncanny single-mindedness when it comes to playing their sport. Players who allow themselves to be distracted tend to lose their focus and that can often translate to simply losing.

It stands to reason that if A-Rod can just give up Kabballah, at least during the season, Madonna will drop him like a hot rock and he can get back to smacking home runs and winning ball games. Is that too much to ask? So, I just have to convince Hank Steinbrenner, or one of the Steinbrenner kids, maybe his lonely daughter, to join the Kabballah Center, so one of them will keep a watchful eye on A-Rod – keep his mind on baseball. And then the season should be a success.

In this way, I can watch Yankee games in peace. I’ll also be able to justify to Patricia why we must pay an extra $150 a month for the MLB Network on top of our regular Dish bill. I KNOW she’ll feel better about the added expense when I explain  that, by closely observing A-Rod, I am, in fact, actually studying the use of Kabballah in everyday life. Since she is very knowledgeable about the Kabballah, as she is in most things spiritual, she will see clearly that, by my watching the Yankees, I am really doing my part for a better world with more understanding, more harmony and spirituality and that, in turn, will ultimately lead to world peace. Follow my logic? It’s confusing but it makes sense to me.

By the way, how do you spell Kabballah? The spelling I am using here came from an article by Ben McGrath in the New Yorker. I have usually seen it spelled Kabalah or Kabala, which is what the MS Word spell checker defaults to. Whatever…

I have needs. I need the Yankees to play better. I need Patricia to be happy. I need something more interesting to write about but this is all I could think about today. Sometimes I am sooooo spiritual!

Another look at immigration

Posted in political with tags , , on July 17, 2008 by barryshapiro

For those of you who read my post titled “It’s going to be a long political season” about the anti-immigrant email being circulated on the Internet, the one quoting a speech by former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm, you may recall my mentioning my friend Nancy Behr, the Methodist Minister of Warren, Rhode Island. I was lucky enough to have dinner with Reverend Nancy and her husband Eric last Monday evening in Providence (by the way, I can highly recommend the Indian cuisine at the Kebob And Curry Restaurant in town – the curry and tandoori was marvelous) and the subject of Governor Lamm’s speech and the entire legal/illegal immigration topic was discussed at length. Nancy has shared with me a letter sent to all the ministers of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church by Bishop Peter Weaver. I am not one to promote the views of any religious group however, I found much to be commended and contemplated upon in Bishop Weaver’s letter and, with Nancy’s approval, I publish some excerpts of his letter here.

The Bishops remarks followed a controversial and apparently violent series of evens centered around a crackdown on illegals in the New Bedford, MA region.

“The recent immigration raid in New Bedford, MA, with the subsequent detention of hundreds of persons and the separation of scores of parents from their children reflects similar events in many other communities in New England and around the country. The national political debate on immigration has generated considerable heat, but little light…”

“Several years ago the Council of Bishops authored a document, To Love the Sojourner, which saw the experience of immigrants and refugees in the biblical context as strangers without homes, uprooted people, who God has called us to protect….”

“Many people in the US have let themselves be vulnerable to the hysteria that says they are no longer in control of their boarders or their destiny.” (I think that last reference to loss of control of one’s destiny is particularly insightful – B)

“…being an undocumented person is NOT a crime.”

“…People will obviously have differing opinions on one or more aspects of this complex issue. As a person of faith, however, I hope that we can approach our conversations with mutual respect and love for our neighbors – all our neighbors – affirming our common ground in God’s compassion and love…”

The letter goes on for about 8 pages and touches on a number of issues including international human rights, refugees and other topics, but the key point, as I see it, is a humanistic approach to the problem of illegal aliens. We cannot treat these people like enemies of the state. They came here to work, earn a living and experience freedom. We shouldn’t punish them for that. For the most part, they aren’t terrorists or criminals. They just want a better life, just like our ancestors did when they came to this nation, legally or otherwise. The Bishop makes a case for treating them as “guests” in our home. I think we can give that approach some thought. He argues for sensible legislation to the benefit of our communities, our jobs and with sensitivity to these “guests’ among us, an obligation to treat them with the respect and courtesy we would show to a guest in our own home.

Of course, sometimes guests can overstay their welcome, just like an annoying relative visiting from the other coast. When that happens, you don’t treat them like criminals – no… you help them pack and show them the door – but in as humane a way as possible.

The issue of illegal immigration in the U.S. is tricky. There just are no easy answers. But by taking the Bishop’s approach and remembering that these aren’t enemies, they are people just like you and me, searching for a better life, we can show them the same humanity that all your Judeo-Christian religions presume to foster. Like it or not, many of these people are here to stay. They are going to bring their culture and their language with them. They will contribute to our economy and to our social fabric. We don’t have to invite them to dinner but let’s treat them all with dignity.

I’m back in town!

Posted in personal with tags , , , on July 17, 2008 by barryshapiro

I’m back in town!

After a faced paced week in the Northeast I am back in Florida and after cleaning off my desk, my mind is clear and I feel like writing again. It was an eventful trip but the pace tired me out. I flew up to Long Island and met with Pastor Jim Sullivan. I had a very pleasant afternoon with his family. For those of you who don’t know Jim, I’ll only say that, though we come from opposite ends of the spectrum on most issues, we have a tremendous respect for each other and enjoy debating topics like religion and politics.

Then it was off to Peconic to play landlord and spend the evening with my dear friends the Backus family of Orient Point. The Backus girls, Taylor who will be attending Vanderbilt University in August, and her talented and amazing sister Marland are not only a joy to be around but they both inspired me with new ideas for my own art and also some inventive ways to teach art at my Tuesday class at the Boys& Girls Club. More about that another time.

The next morning I was on the early ferry to Connecticut to attend the wedding of my old friend, Gary Garnet and his bride, Michelle. The hour and 45 minutes on the ferry on a very foggy morning was peaceful and revitalizing and I enjoyed my quiet time with a good book – “The Life Of Pi” by Yann Martel. Landing in New London, it was great to see Michelle and Gary so happy and be with the famiies. One interesting item of note was that, while waiting for my hotel room to become available, I sat at the bar for a few hours and watched the now classic battle between Federrer and Nadal at Wimbledon. I am not a tennis fan at all but I appreciate great athletic talent and sportsmanship and this one was a match for the ages. I was totally into it and, not caring who won or lost, was able to get into the pure competitive excellence as an impartial observer.

After breakfast the next morning with the Garnets, it was off to New London to hook up with another great friend, Heidi Gottlieb. You may have read about Heidi on this blog in a piece titled “Every Day Heroes” posted June 18. (also go to www.myedgewalkerblog.com for more about Heidi) It was my privilege to drive Heidi to Boston and escort her to her to her session at the Francis Burr Proton Center at Mass General Hospital. After getting her settled in an apartment loaned by a generous MIT student, we went to her appointment and I was invited to go back to see the machine and learn how Proton Therapy works. My mind was blown. This is the most advance treatment of cancer available and it works without the side effects of standard radiation treatments.

It is simply awe inspiring to think that these creations things come from the imaginations of people. As I was shown into the room, a massive, 3 story cyclotron. I felt like I was stepping onto the set of 2001 A Space Odyssey. The protons (charged particles) are accelerated with a large magnetic field in a cyclotron. Giant magnets help guide the proton beam to three treatment rooms. The machine produces shoots them into the tumor through a 3 inch thick, gold circle hollowed out in the shape and size of the tumor.

Two of the treatment rooms at the Burr Center incorporate 110-Ton gantries. These 3 story high gantries can be rotated to aim the proton beam from various directions. In the gantry rooms, patients lie on robotic beds that can be adjusted for precise alignment of targets contained throughout the body. Watching Heidi don her custom fitted mesh mask, the purpose of which is to secure the head from movement during treatment and makes her look a bit like Hannibal Lechter, I almost caught myself crying. I wasn’t sure but it was either tears of sadness for her unfortunate situation or tears of joy, knowing that science can deliver to us such miraculous advances and opportunities. Maybe it was a bit of both. For more information about Proton therapy, go to http://www.proton-therapy.org/ or http://www.massgeneral.org/cancer/about/providers/radiation/proton/index.asp.

I was truly impressed, not only by the technology but also by the compassion of the doctors and nurses at the Center, more every day heroes.

I was able to leave Heidi, resting and nourished and ready for bed and head down to Providence, RI where I was able to have dinner with more wonderful friends – Eric and Nancy Behr. Reverend Nancy is one of the religious leaders I mentioned in my last posting on immigration and we talked about the situation at length. As I figured, she is integrally involved in the situation and had much to say on the topic. I will share some of that in a future post. Her insights were spot on and, again, I must tip my hat to her for standing up for the rights and well being of people less fortunate.

After that it was off to New York City for a few days for a little business, a little socializing and some culture. I caught the Bucky Fuller exhibit at the Whitney, which I highly recommend, and the Turner exhibit at the Met. And I was delighted to have the aforementioned Ms. Taylor Backus as my escort for an afternoon of museum browsing. My trip seemed to short and I could go on but I’ve probably bored you enough by now. The last thing I’ll say is, when in the Big Apple, I recommend you have drinks while watching the sun go down on the Hudson at the Frying Pan and later enjoy the sushi specials at Café Society near Union Square. You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

 

With Taylor at the Met

With Taylor at the Met

Heidi and I arrived in Boston last Monday

Heidi and I arrived in Boston last Monday

it’s going to be a long political season

Posted in political with tags , , , on July 3, 2008 by barryshapiro

I get a lot of emails from friend and aquaintences with a political or religious bent. Some I respond to, mostly I just read ‘em and forget ‘em. But one I got this morning hit a nerve. Perhaps it’s because, after years of living in Blue States and Blue Cities, I now live in the heart of the conservative South and Sebastian is as Red a town in as Red a State as you can get and therefore I am just sourrounded by Christian conservatives. Also, I have been deeply concerned of late, by the news reports of the inappropriate attitudes of Evangelical Christian officers in the U.S. military and recent scathing and unfounded comments by Evangelicals like James Dobson about Barak Obama which seek to divide people on solely religious grounds. So, when I received this email today I decided that I would have to respond even at the risk of alienating a friend.

The world we live in has problems and America is in a very difficult period. If we do not pull together as a nation we could be in for a lot of pain and suffering, not just in the immediate future, but for several generations to come. I have written about changes in technology and how it is bringing our world closer together. Now I think it is time for me to speak up for advancement in the way we think about our problems.

We are never going to decide the serious and dangerous problems of our world, whether the topic is immigration, global warming, terrorism, education or the fact that a great portion of the world we live in is at war, until we stop pointing fingers at the bad guys and start looking to ourselves to see what we can do to make a difference. The road to peace and harmony is within, not without.

We are a nation of immigrants. My family came from Russia and Germany. Where did your come from? I do know a few Native Americans but otherwise, everyone came from somewhere. If we want to solve the problem of illegal immigration, it won’t happen because we build a wall or stiffen the penalties. It will happen when the need for people to escape to this country is no longer there. That means eliminating poverty, spreading the wealth and opposing oppression and injustice. It’s an overwhelming task when you think of it… I mean it’s hard to find a spot on the globe that is not screwed up… but the process starts within each of us.

I have posted both the email that was sent to me and my response below, in case someone chooses to add to the dialog. Also, please understand that I share many of my friends concerns. I just don’t think that the email in circulation is going to help anything.

Email to me:

Dear Barry,

There is certainly a growing dread of where our “land of the free and home of the brave” is going.  Between the oil situation, immigration, and the deterioration of Christianity and moral standards, we are facing a scary future.  The presidential candidates, I fear, are merely puppets on a string, controlled by big business, powerful political players and their own agendas.  Where are the candidates that stand for freedom, Americanism, and the moral ethics that this great country was founded on?  I DON’T SEE ANY!  If they are out there, the press has so skewed it’s news, you can’t tell who stands for what!

 Please read this chilling article below.  I’m also including the site of a video on the Oil Crisis that will “knock your socks off”!!! 

(http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3340274697167011147)

Can any of you enlighten me with a positive outlook for America’s future?  I’d love to hear it!!!  These are scary times.  I remember my father saying these words when I was a child, but now I quote them:  “I’m not so concerned for my generation, but I fear for my grandchildren and their children.”

 What can we, the average American Christian, do to help prevent the tradegy that this country faces if things continue to escalate as they are?

 Sally (name changed)

 p.s. I’m not usually a “doomsdayer”, but I’m honestly very concerned.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Forward attachment:

Subject: FW: This is a must to read.

Date: Tuesday, July 1, 2008, 6:20 AM

Subject: Fw: Gov Lamm Colorado

 I checked this out on snopes.com and it is true.  Wherever you stand, please take the time to read this; it ought to scare the pants off you!

We know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado . In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant. Last week there was an immigration overpopulation conference in Washington , DC , filled to capacity by many of America ‘s finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor by the name of Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, ‘Mexifornia,’ explaining how immigration – both legal and illegal was destroying the entire state of California . He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream.

Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America . The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States . He said, ‘If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let’s destroy America . It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that ‘An autopsy of history wo uld show that all great nations commit suicide.”

‘Here is how they do it,’ Lamm said: ‘First, to destroy America , turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country.’ History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar, Seymour Lipset, put it this way: ‘The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy.’ Canada , Belgium , Malaysia , and Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficult times with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans.’

Lamm went on: Second, to destroy America , ‘Invent ‘multiculturalism’ and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. Make it an article of be lief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. Make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due solely to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.

Third, to destroy America , ‘We could make the United States an ‘Hispanic Quebec ‘ without much effort The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Ben jam in Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: ‘The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentricity and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.’ Lamm said, ‘I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America enforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities.’

‘Fourth, to destroy America , I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school.’

‘My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of ‘Victimology.’ I would get all minorities to think that their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.’

‘My sixth plan for America ‘s downfall would include dual citizenship, and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I wou ld stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other- that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common Language and literature; and they worshipped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic games. A common enemy, Persia , threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to overcome two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell. ‘E. Pluribus Unum’ — from many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the ‘Pluribus’ instead of the ‘Unum,’ we will balkanize America as surely as Kosovo.’

Also, to destroy America , I would place all subjects off limits; make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of ‘diversity.’ I would find a word similar to ‘heretic’ in the 16th c entury – that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like ‘racist’ or ‘xenophobe’ halt discussion and debate. Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multiculturalism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of ‘victimology,’ I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America , it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them.’

In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence foll owed. Finally he said, ‘Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis’s book ‘Mexifornia.’ His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America . If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don’t read that book.’

There was no applause. A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference. Every American in that room knew that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today. Discussion is being suppressed. Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our educational system and national cohesiveness. Even barbaric cultures that practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate ‘diversity.’ American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a Third World in America – take note of California and other states – to date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. It is reminiscent of George Orwell’s book ‘1984.’ In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: ‘War is peace,’ ‘Freedom is slavery,’ and ‘Ignorance is strength.’

Governor Lamm walked back to his seat. It dawned on everyone at the conference that our nation and the future of this great democracy is deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don’t get this immigration monster stopped within three years, it will rage like a California wildfire and destroy everything in its path especially The American Dream.

If you care for and love our country as I do, take the time to pass this on just as I did for you.

______________________________________________________________________________

My response:

Sally,

I read the speech by former Colorado Governor Dick Lamm, and the thing about it which most frightens me is not the “facts” in his speech, which I believe to be completely skewed, but the idea that our paranoia is clouding the issues (such as the economy and immigration) and are leading to a lack of thoughtful dialog and polarizing the nation. I can only think that the silence at the end of Mr. Lamms speech wasn’t form concern for our nation but rather concern about Mr. Lamm’s frightening outlook.

Mr. Lamm was a bit of a maverick politician who left the Democratic Party and spurned the Republicans as well. He challenged Ross Perot for control of the Reform Party and has written several works of fiction. This speech may be influenced by his desire to be accepted as a fiction writer.

The fact is, America is the land of the free and home of the brave, which is why so many people want to be here in the first place. Though it may seem to many Christians that the United States is a Christian, religious society, the true fact is that the Founding Fathers intentionally set up the concept of separation of Church and State so that no one religious group could hold sway over the fortunes of the people.

As a Jew by heritage, and a Buddhist by education, I have to say, and I hope I do not offend you when I say this but, I am somewhat confused by the term “Christian moral standards”. I do not see Christians in general as a group having any higher standards than any other religious sect. In fact, historically, Christians have been known to enforce their “moral standards” on the rest of society quite brutally and without compassion. I have had the privilege of knowing many devout and highly ethical Christian leaders, including the late Father M. Basil Pennington, who I considered a friend and an inspiration in my life (you can Google him up). Father Basil would have deplored the sentiments in Mr. Lamm’s speech. I know that Reverend Nancy Behr, the minister of the Methodist Church of Warren, RI, one of my oldest and dearest friends, and someone who deals with the issues of immigration, education and poverty every day, would also be alarmed.

In fact, there seems to be more than one form of Christianity and many views about what Christianity means, so I cannot say that I know what the term “Average American Christian” means with certainty.

Furthermore, what are these Christian standards you speak of? I thought that Jesus taught compassion and love of our fellow man (and woman) and not isolationism and contempt for those who are different. Hey, Radical Islam scares the shit out of me but I have to look into myself and see what it is they are screaming about. I have to have as much compassion for the plight of the Palestinian as for the Israeli who is getting blown to pieces every day if I want a solution to the never-ending dilemma in the Middle East.

I agree with your father –  the people I worry for are the children and grandchildren and great grandchildren; the generations to come. They are going to have to deal with our mess and that is a shame. And by the way, not to rub it in, but it is an Evangelical Christian President who has helped make this mess beyond repair. In 7 years of George W. Bush we have created the greatest deficit we’ve ever faced, one that our grandchildren will be paying for, initiated a terrible war in Iraq that cannot be won, severely damaged our stature as a nation in the world and polarized the nation in ways no one would have believed even 10 years ago. In the military there is an acronym for it: FUBAR. He (Bush) has established FEAR as the method of political messaging and FEAR as our daily standard of life (just try getting on a plane to anywhere).

I do agree wholeheartedly that the issue of illegal immigration is a serious one not to be taken lightly. I do not believe that it is as serious a threat to our nation’s stability as espoused by the likes of Mr. Lamm and Lou Dobbs. I believe that the problems are complex and will require serious and thoughtful consideration and bold action to solve them. Sadly, we tend to lump all immigrants into one pile – illegal and legal and that is wrong. People who come to this country legally, abide by the law of the land and respect the American way of life, should by all means have every right to live free and participate fully in the process without having to give up any part of their culture that is important to them.

There are two arguments for multi-culturalism that I can think of. One is New York City, the most diverse and fascinating city on the planet. The fact is that every single day, millions of people from all over the world go to work, shop, play, recreate, worship and learn while rubbing up against one another in subways, elevators, taxis and ballparks and, with rare exceptions, everyone seems to get along just fine. In fact, people rejoice in the fact that there is so much diversity. It’s enlightening to walk down the streets of the city on a Wednesday afternoon and hear people speak in Arabic, French, Spanish, Swahili, Dutch, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian and, yes, even English. It is amazing to taste foods from all different cultures and see fashions from every part of the planet. It is somewhat freeing to know that there is a United Nations, even as impotent as it may be, as a forum for International discussion.

The other argument is the Internet. The world is getting smaller every day and it is technology that is making it so. The Internet is a tsunami of information that floods our society every minute and allows a sneeze in Cancun to be broadcast to India in a matter of moments. Globalization is very real and nations that resist it are only going to lose that game. Even a mega force like China will eventually succumb to the power of the global community.

There are no simple answers to the illegal immigration problem. Farmers around the country cannot seem to get by without the labor of the thousands of illegals who lead transient lives and travel with the seasons, picking fruit, harvesting avocados, and pruning grape vines. There is just not enough cheap, legal American labor to get the job done, or so they tell us. The next administration is going to have their hands full sorting this out.

One thing I do agree with Mr. Lamm about is that if we do not educate these people, we are going to have nothing but bigger problems down the road. In fact, if we don’t do a much better job of educating ALL our young people, the future of the nation is in jeopardy. Our educational system is bankrupt and failing.

The problem, as I see it, is not that we have an immigration problem. It is that we have a fear problem. If we are afraid of what we do not know or understand, and that includes people, we will never be able to overcome our problems because we will never attack them head on. We will always be fighting our fear.

I find it ironic that Lamm uses Canada as an example of how multiculturalism doesn’t work. Has that guy been to Canada? Maybe he has since he gave that speech in 2003, but possibly not before. Canada has it’s own issues to be sure, but by in large they look at their good neighbor to the south and scratch their heads trying to figure out how we got so screwed up. He probably has never been to the Cuban neighborhoods of Vancouver or the French speaking city of Montreal. The Canadians get along just fine and they have universal health care to boot!

I know many people with dual citizenship. It hasn’t seemed to affect their loyalty to our nation nor has it corrupted their outlook on national events. If anything, these people seem to have a greater perspective and an even greater sense of the wonderfulness that is America. What’s the big deal? Has Mr. Lamm ever been to a Navajo reservation? The fact is, America is bi-lingual and multi-cultural and it has been since the Spanish, French, English and Dutch explorers came here to exploit the natives.

I had seen the video about the oil situation before. It only goes to reinforce the idea that the oil crisis a manufactured one; it is not one of lack of oil but one of greed, politics and lack of education. Most of our problems have these same core issues.

The price of oil is going to go up (remember that I said a year ago it would be $5 within 2 years – well, it’s getting closer) and until we educate ourselves and put our national interest over our own comfort, and until we start to develop real, reliable alternative energy solutions, we’ll keep paying through the nose.

As far as the presidential candidates go, I agree that neither one is a knockout slam dunk. Both are flawed. As for me, I am withholding judgment until I see the VP candidates they select. That will speak volumes.

So, after that long winded spiel, here are my thoughts; my solutions for saving America:

1. Vote only for politician’s who promise to not take money from special interests and will pass strict voting laws that return the power of the vote to the people and hold them accountable. We need election reform if we are going to stop the madness.

2. Don’t vote for any incumbent candidate unless he/she has shown a strict adherence to solution  #1

3. Stop accepting tearful apologies from politicians who “make mistakes’ and want a second chance – just get rid of them. They can have their second chance cleaning toilets at the day care center.

4. Stop corporate greed – pass strict environmental laws and put an end to ridiculous executive compensation packages in publicly traded companies.

5. Put a computer in the hands of every child in this country and make everyone computer literate.

6. Increase educational standards, especially in math and reading but also in the arts, because it is proven that the right side of the brain does not get enough stimulation in our current educational system which leads to dominant left-brained thinking and a limited ability to conceptualize.

7. Work on our selves – whether you are religious or not, if people would attend to their own spirituality and worry less about what their neighbors think, we’d live in a better place.

8. Watch less television. It’s mind numbing and manipulative.

9. Make sure every child eats a healthy meal at least once a day. Big Macs do not count as a healthy meal.

10. Have universal healthcare. Take the fear and worry out of our day to day lives.

And finally – don’t give in to fear. This is the greatest country on the planet because it is free and it is diverse and we will prevail. It just might not look exactly as we think it should but it will work because the Framers set it up magnificently. It’s like George Carlin used to say about people who want to save the planet: “The planet doesn’t need saving! The planet is just fine. It’s been here for millions of years and will be here for millions of years after we’ve made it uninhabitable for us to live here!” Well, it is kind of the same thing. America is fine. It’s just us people who keep screwing it up.

Sorry this has been long and pointed, but when I read things like that in an email, I feel I must respond. It’s just my Jewish, Buddhist, New York way.

love and peace,