Monday, December 2, 2013
Rich Whitney Turner: Start Christmas On Labor Day to get the country mo...: Labor Day, 2016, American Pie, Rhode Island Rev. Roger Williams today decried using Labor Day as the beginning of the Christmas season. ...
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
In the last few days, Afghanistan's alleged leader, Hamid Karzai, has tried different tricks to force America to bend to his will in order to remain in his country. A Council utilized to approve an agreement which would allow the US to stay in Afghanistan, said yes to a pact. However Karzai has refused to sign it.
Who cares. The American people would like to leave the country referred to as "the graveyard of empires." Let's look at some of the mistakes other countries have made there over the centuries.
The 19th century saw an England that wanted to protect its control over India. So they spent most of the century sparring with Russia over Afghanistan and the surrounding area. It was pretty clearly a mess, with many men dying in the process.
In the First Anglo-Afghan War (which began in 1838) Britain tried to impose a puppet regime on the country. Of the 4500 British troops only 690 were Europeans. The rest were Indians who'd been enslaved by the British Empire. By the time the Afghans had driven them out, only one European was alive, accompanied by a few Indians. It was an example of the deathtrap that is Afghanistan.
The British and the Russians skirmished over Afghanistan for the rest of the 19th century. In 1979 the Russians invaded Afghanistan, only eventually to retreat and lick their wounds.
Karzai's brother is a major drug smuggler. Karzai himself doesn't have much to recommend him. It's time to say "bye-bye Karzai," and adios to a country in which tribes really control what happens there.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
You can't say we weren't warned. My generation was forced to read "1984," and "Brave New World." These novels told in the most abject terms what happened when oppressive societies and technologies get together to monitor the lives of everyone.
Many of us went to see the movie, "the Social Network," and walked out chilled by Zuckerberg and his machinations. Then we bought shares of Facebook.
So now we live in a world in which the national security agency monitors our calls and Facebook sells our information online. This week they told us they will use our children in advertising, no matter what we say.
I remember my daughter telling me how old I was because of my concerns about privacy. I dropped Facebook three years ago after they sold my name in conjunction with other personal information. It could only have come from Facebook.
So we have no privacy, and most of us don't seem concerned. Those novels and warnings did no good. In the end we turned over our private lives to giant corporations and big government. So much for universal education. Like lemmings to the sea we gave away our rights without looking back. Now we have to live with this brave new world.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
There are days when you start to feel like you've become invisible, and the likeliest place to be invisible is in a large city. I've got a big enough ego that I can transcend this feeling, but it takes me a few minutes to recover sometimes.
I'm disabled and have braces on both ankles and my right knee. I work out an hour every morning and then like to get in a walk. For reasons that you'll see, I usually drive to the drycleaner that is a block and a half away.
This morning I said to myself that there shouldn't be any reason I can't walk to the cleaners. The fact that I have to cross Westwood Boulevard, I thought, shouldn't be an impediment. Picking up my dry-cleaning I headed out. I stepped into the crosswalk and moved into the intersection. I was gratified when one car stopped for me. Unfortunately it was the last car that would.
By the time I was two steps into the intersection, I counted 19 cars that had crossed the crosswalk at about 40 mph. The further I got into the intersection, I thought, the safer I'd be. This was not to be the case. I was in West Los Angeles and I was prey.
I thought about how this section of Los Angeles frequently supported action against Arabs who would pick on people in Darfur, worry about the plight of those in our inner cities, and disrupt this area in their eagerness to greet Obama. A lot of money can be raised in this area for liberal social causes.
I laud all these actions but at that moment I just wanted to walk across a city street. In California, it's against the law to enter a crosswalk with a car when someone is trying to cross the street. This isn't supposed to be New York, where every pedestrian has a target on his back. People here used to obey the law.
However, this part of town is full of rich people with expensive cars. There are agents and lawyers on the way to important meetings. There are people who see pedestrians as somehow of lesser value. The BMWs the Mercedes and Lexus are all indicative of their high social status.
I've decided to accept their heightened status and promise next time to drive to the dry cleaners. I need to respect my betters.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
In the last few days I've been wondering who's running the White House. If you are old enough to remember when Pres. Jimmy Carter was attacked for being a micro manager, you may be surprised to find out that Barack Obama hardly seems to manage at all.
In 2012 the race was between Obama and a spoiled rich kid who thought 49% of the American people were losers. I voted for Obama, so feel free to blame me for the situation today.
In the last few days Obama has told us he didn't know anything about tapping Angela Merkel's phone. It came as a surprise to him, he said. Wow, that made me feel comfortable.
He also has not claimed responsibility for the horrible Obama care website. He says "the buck stops here," but then gives a lot of reasons why he left it up to other people.
The whole NSA thing seems to be a mystery to him. How did we end up being hated around the world for sticking our nose into everybody's business without the president knowing?
I still can't figure out why Putin is running our policy on Syria.
It isn't that the Republicans aren't a troublesome lot (and that's putting it nicely), but some of the responsibility for this whole mess has to fall on the man we elected president. It's too bad nobody's telling him anything, because then, maybe he could fix things.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Since the 1930s, Hungary has been an anti-Semitic state. During World War II, the Hungarian fascist equivalent of the SS was the Arrow Cross, a group that loved sending Hungarian Jews to concentration camps.
When the Russians took over Hungary, they didn't spend a lot of time reeducating the Hungarian people on their attitudes towards Jews. Russia was not as anti-Semitic (hard to believe, huh) but it wasn't an issue of importance to them.
My daughter is the granddaughter of Hungarians who are Holocaust survivors. I once took a trip with them to Budapest and heard stories of cabdrivers who would refuse to carry Jews in their cabs. People like Tony Curtis gave money to rehabilitate the synagogue in Budapest, and George Soros bought the best restaurant there. But it made little difference. Hungary was too attached to the practice of hating Jews.
Since 2002 Hungary has moved to the right and become more authoritarian under Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The far right Jobbik party controls nearly 20% of Parliament and has a nationalistic anti-Semitic platform.
Things are not getting any better, even though Ivan Fischer, the conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, recently premiered an Opera called the "Red Heifer" which is a rebuke of antisemitism.
Hungary's attitude is a stain on Europe. Allowing Hungary to participate in European integration, is to let the camel's nose under the tent. If the Europeans don't address this serious problem there is a lot of trouble coming down the road. I've always been surprised at how easy it is to revive antisemitism. For some reason "it's the gift that keeps on giving." I'm a goy, but for me antisemitism is the most frightening concept I can think of.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
When my grandfather Whitney returned from the Civil War, he became a Republican. He was a carriage painter from Mexico New York who believed that all men were created equal. So, ever since the Civil War ended my family was Republican.
I emerged from Syracuse University's Maxwell school of Citizenship and Public affairs with a PhD and a different attitude. While I'm an independent, these days voting Republican would be like joining in with those who don't care if they damage the Republic, as long as they get their way.
John McCain, who has proved to me he cares more about America then in feathering his own nest, said the shutdown and fight over the debt ceiling was a "shameful" incident in congressional history. He, of course, is right.
The last 20 years have shown how difficult it is to run a Federal system in a gerrymandered world. Republican primaries in safe districts involve proving who is the biggest wacko.
The days when the leaders of both parties decided the future of our nation over bourbon and branch water seem like a mythical trip down memory lane.
We didn't need the world wondering whether we would destroy the economic system by defaulting. We resemble a banana republic attached to a political system with which we were justly proud. Pretty soon, I assume we won't be the world's reserve currency. It will be harder to borrow to pay for our massive debt. The tea party, which seems to want a world in which minorities are second-rate citizens and the poor are starving on the streets, can take credit for diminishing the United States.