America – a fortress of intolerance?

No one is originally from the United States – except for the endangered population of Native Americans that have survived this nation’s repeated efforts to wipe them out.

Everyone who is here today came from someplace else, fleeing hostile governments, uninhabitable lands, or drawn here because of a belief in the promise of America.

When I was a kid, one of my heroes was Igor Sikorsky, an engineering genius who made flying machines and, because he was inspired by DaVinci’s hand-drawing of a machine lifted by a rotating disk, set upon the task of creating the helicopter.  Igor came to America from Russia because he had to flee the Bolsheviks.

Albert Einstein had to flee Europe because he was Jewish and met some resistance to becoming an American Citizen.  We remember this brilliant physicist, ensconced at Princeton, partly concealed beneath an unruly mane of whitening hair.  But there were those who weren’t sure he should be a citizen.

The Flannerys came from County Mayo to New York for reasons since obscured by the passing generations.  My maternal grandmother left Ireland for the United States at 6 years of age.  These immigrants from the sod met with some resistance because they were both Irish and Roman Catholic. Continue reading

Family Values

Paul Huber – joking around

Paul Huber – joking around

We don’t always appreciate the filaments of family and friends that favor us in life.  We may not assess the significance of our connectedness, what we truly mean to each other, even when we finally lose one of our family to death.  There are so many insignificant distractions from what really matters in life.  But no one missed what mattered about Paul Huber.

Paul was born on October 4, 1951 and a few minutes later, his Mom, Carolyn, gave birth to his twin brother, David.

Paul and David were not identical twins, nor were they rivals, nor was Paul or David into being known as “a twin.”  “I’m my own person,” Paul said. David said, “He was the cool guy.  I was the nerd.”

Dad, Robert Huber, was a serious journalist and a copy editor for the Washington Post and an editor for the Philadelphia Enquirer.

Roberta, the middle child, said, Paul learned to play “his first electric guitar” as a kid when Dad took the family to Tokyo for work, in the 60s, living there for three years, while Dad was an editor for the Stars and Stripes.

The family moved to the country, to Loudoun County, when Dad said, “I want some fresh air and peace and quiet.” Continue reading

The enlargement of liberty – our progress

Thomas Jefferson: "All men are created equal"

Thomas Jefferson: “All men are created equal”

When Thomas Jefferson penned the words in our Declaration of Independence in 1776 that “all Men are created equal,” he stated what the Continental Congress believed to be the proper condition of men in the colonies in relation to the offenses suffered under Great Britain.

Unfortunately, all men were not treated as “equals” within the several colonies either.

Even after our federal constitution with its Bill of Rights, slaves and women enjoyed no rights, unalienable or otherwise.  They were property.

The Declaration was an unfulfilled promise of equality.

A former U.S. Senator said: “The enlargement of liberty for individual human beings must be the supreme goal and the abiding practice of any western society.” Continue reading

On the beheading

maskedJihadiAn American Journalist, James Foley, was beheaded by a Jihadi terrorist.

Beforehand, the masked executioner wrote:

“… You and your citizens will pay the price of your bombings! The first of which being the blood of the American citizen, James Foley! He will be executed as a DIRECT result of your transgressions toward us!”

As gruesome an act as this was against an innocent non-combatant journalist, killing innocents in other ways has become a modern war stratagem.

Warring nation states kill innocents from opposing nation-states to break the public’s will, to force the policy question, “Is military action really worth it?”

The “great” civilization of Rome beheaded Cicero at Mark Antony’s direction for what Cicero wrote against Antony.

Now, we have Jihadi cutting off a journalists head for all to see – inviting citizens of the offended nation to be a voyeur at another man’s brutal death.

This public execution contrasts with the killing of thousands of anonymous innocent men, women and children, who are blown to bits by bombs or shot to death.

How much of our anger at this execution therefore is about having been forced to acknowledge that even our nation is engaged in this psycho drama, killing innocents, to build body counts, that become win loss body tallies, so we may win the war of religions, get to seize oil reserves, or gain market dominion, hegemony or territory, all the time, quite unconcerned about whether we’re also killing innocents or uniformed combatants? Continue reading

Let’s re-examine the police function post 9/11

Militarized Police in Ferguson, MO confront an unarmed citizen

Militarized Police in Ferguson, MO confront an unarmed citizen

Ever since 9-11, the federal government has dehumanized its citizens by compromising individual and collective liberties.

The federal government has fostered indiscriminate surveillance, encouraged citizens to inform on their neighbors, relied on questionable snitches, profiled racial and religious types, increased security screenings at public buildings and events, conducted harassing investigations, but the worst of it may be — how the federal government has re-shaped our local law enforcement offices.

Our Congress and federal government have channeled supplies of battle-tested military weapons from Afghanistan and Iraq and Southeast Asia to local police forces across the nation, provided flash-bang grenades, machine guns, ammunition magazines, camouflage, night vision equipment, silencers, armored cars, mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs), even aircraft, bullet proof vests, and this has changed the rules of engagement for our local police from the traditional domestic police function that used to serve civilian neighborhoods to a military force you’d expect to find on a battlefield.

This militarization of our local police forces is most shamefully on display in Ferguson, Missouri.  Continue reading

Iraq attack

Yazidi refugees

Yazidi refugees

Once again, Barack Obama, our peace president, has authorized acts of war.

It would seem that no one who occupies the office of president is able to resist the call to war.

We just can’t leave this open sore we call Iraq alone.

The President has explained that his current foreign policy stance is based on the theory of “No victor, no vanquished.”

Some might fairly ask, is that what the US is really doing in Iraq?

President Obama ordered drones into the skies, and jet planes to commence fire, to drop quarter ton bombs in Northern Iraq, because the Yazidi, an ethnic and religious minority, were stuck on a mountaintop named Sinjar, starving and under attack from the Islamic State that insisted the Yazidi renounce their religion and convert, or die.

President Obama ordered military intervention to thwart the Islamic State.

When we favor one side over another in a military exercise, we have to admit we really are choosing a preferred “victor.”

We are also up to a lot more than just saving the Yazidi off a mountain top.

The President announced, “This is going to be a long-term project.”

Then he said a few days later, that we would stand with Iraq if Baghdad could form a unified and inclusive government to counter the Sunni militants.

This is mission leap — not mission creep. Continue reading

Yes, Virginia, Marriage is a Fundamental Right

wedding-ringsSpecial op-ed by David Weintraub published in the Purcellville Gazette, August 2 2014.

On November 7, 2006, Virginia voters were presented with the choice to add an amendment to our state constitution. This amendment would not only prohibit civil marriage between two people of the same sex – which had already been banned legislatively several times over – but would also ban any other “union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage,” or which “intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage.” This expansive language gave Virginia the dubious honor of having adopted the most extreme so-called “marriage amendment” in the nation.

In a decision announced Monday, The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that prohibition unconstitutional, joining an unbroken series of rulings affirming marriage as a fundamental right that cannot be denied because of gender.

At the time of the amendment’s passage (it was approved by 57 percent of voters), I was told jubilantly by a local supporter that it would “protect” his model of marriage in Virginia “for at least a decade.” This prediction has turned out to be remarkably accurate. In the past decade, we have witnessed a shift in opinion like no other toward support of the right for loving gay and lesbian couples to marry. At the same time, courts have come to the long overdue conclusion that the U.S. Constitution really does mean what it says about the rights guaranteed to ALL Americans.

Continue reading

Relentless fundraising spam

sendMoney

I’m so fed up with countless Dem fundraising emails asking for money to fund a non-existent impeachment fight – especially given that the U.S. House Judiciary Chairman, Bob Goodlatte, who heads the House Committee that would have to pass on any impeachment resolution, said there is none under consideration nor contemplated; in agreement, we have House Speaker John Boehner who heads the Republican Caucus saying the same thing.

Yet we folk who have been identified as partisans (or even possible contributors) are receiving gigabytes of sky-is-falling e-alerts that, we’re told, just have to be answered immediately to fund the defense of the impeachment that never was or will be, concluding with the imperative direction – you’d better “donate” and “now.”

I’m no less angry at the Rs for the BS law suit against the President they’re pushing that has no legal legs, prosecuted with faux outrage at the discretion they’ve so recently “discovered” the President has to execute the laws of the land. 

Continue reading

True liberty

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor asks the question

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor asks the question

You often hear the rough definition of true liberty is every person’s right to do what you want up to the tip of someone else’s nose.

Does a corporate employer who believes in faith healing invade your rights when refusing to allow your health insurance to cover any medical procedure?

If the employer is a corporation, and closely held, and three of the five shareholders are faith healing believers, while the other two are dissenting physicians, does the corporate majority determine health care for an employee may only be faith healing?

Just imagine you were denied health insurance to cover your children because it defied his faith healing belief.

Some children have died because of the misguided religious faith healing belief of parents who refused medical procedures to save their children.

Continue reading

War madness

The Dying Gaul

The Dying Gaul

In a world that prefers to war, can’t get enough of it, innocents are killed, and those senseless incidents in turn provoke more war.

It happened in the Ukraine and the testosterone is running high.  Ukraine calls to the West to put up or shut up with military force, not just economic sanctions.  The US saber rattles in response.  Partisans insist we must do more.

It could be as “simple” an error in the Ukraine as giving the separatist “freedom fighters” weapons that they should never have had.  The Russians entrusted these weapons in the Ukraine conflict. They thought they’d trained them no doubt. When the plane went down, the “freedom fighters” said they’d downed a military transport.  When they found out otherwise, the separatists went dark.  The United States weighs giving these weapons to other “freedom fighters” in Syria.

Not only do we have to trust these people – freedom fighters – if you must – to use the weapons in a just war, whatever that is these days, we also have to trust that they really know how to use the weapons at all, under the right circumstances, and, oh yes, that they won’t lose, give or sell the weapons we supplied to be used against us.

Continue reading