Sunday, July 4, 2010

Peace Talks Progress, Pakistan Tired of Bombings, Freedom

Chris Cillizza
Gary Hart

"The American people are quirky, cranky and a little paranoid. They're also a bit confused about race, especially the census's racial categories, but they're surprisingly good humored about it." - Peter Carlson
"The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves." - William Hazlitt
"Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty." - Louis D Brandeis

Happy 4th of July - On Monday: "Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will meet Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Monday, the first meeting between the two politicians since February and a first sign of progress in indirect U.S.-mediated talks." This is intended to pave the way for re-establishing direct negotiators without the presence of Big Daddy George Mitchell, who has persevered and kept the indirect negotiations alive and moving forward. On Tuesday, Barack Obama will meet with Benjamin Netanyahu, and their main topic will be the negotiations over Palestine. Both sides have said that they are ready to meet face to face again. The Palestinian Authority would like to give up some of the West Bank for land that would connect the southern portion of the West Bank with the Gaza strip. Mahmoud Abbas has also made an offer about East Jerusalem: "Abbas also reportedly proposed easing Palestinian demands over East Jerusalem to permit the Jewish Quarter of the Old City as well as the Western Wall to remain under Israeli sovereignty. The remainder of the Old City, he proposed, would become the capital of a Palestinian state but fully open to the adherents of all faiths."

It looks like all is peace and love and progress, until the next spanner gets thrown into the gears and they break apart in acrimony and protestations. If Hezbollah and Hamas tone down their rhetoric, and the recent lesson in how well non-violent action can work, illustrated by the Gaza Flotilla episode, then they might kick back and let Iran do the heavy lifting in the anti-Zionist propaganda. If the talks fall apart, the Arab League said that they intend to just delare that there is a Palestinian state without an Israeli OK, and the European Union would back up the recognition. Of course, there is the right wing element of the Knesset, Israeli's Parliament.

So far there are 53 members supporting the rounding up and deporting all Palestinians to their new homeland - Jordan. There are Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria that have remained unchanged for over 30 years, with people living in tents and without electricity or water. Their host countries refuse to let them make improvements, making them into a living museum of Israel's shame. It reminds me of the American treatment and attitudes towards the Indians. What would be a good revenge is if the Palestinians adopted the American Indian policy of building gambling casinos on their reservations, not only could they become better off economically, but they can serve as an outlet for all of the addictive behavior in the Middle East. They could also import some of the popular Damascus prostitutes that the rich business types in the UAE seem to favor, with skimpy thongs and risque lingerie worn under those dark robes...

The government of Pakistan, both the ruling political party and the main opposition party, have announced a national series of meetings to figure out what to do about terrorism: "The announcement came days after 42 people were killed and hundreds wounded when two suicide bombers struck the famed Sufi shrine Data Darbar on Thursday night in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province. The attack incited street protests in Lahore on Saturday, and provoked complaints that law enforcement was not doing enough to protect holy sites from sectarian militant groups."

There are a couple of dynamics going on here, as members of Pakistan's Taliban leadership have also been asked to join. There is also a war between conservative Muslims, who actually are responsible for bombing the shrine, and the Sufis. Throughout the history of Islamic nations there has been persecution of Sufi orders, and with the current rise of extremism, Sufi groups are being bombed and assassinated all over the place, from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, to Iran and Pakistan. Which is sad, because many Sufi groups preach peace, love, and understanding as the cornerstone of their spiritual practice, love music,  are tolerant of other teachings, and respect women's equality in attaining spiritual advancement. I certainly hope that the citizens of Pakistan find a way themselves to end the damned violence...

I got an email from a publisher who published a book of essays on what the word freedom means to different writers, and they are even having an essay contest. If you are interested, let me know and I will pass on their e-mail to you, with their contact info. I know on the 4th we are supposed to reflect on our founding and the principals which our country was based upon. And, with the tea party folks, there is a lot of Constitution talk and how it relates to being a conservative right wing evangelical, but I just don't get all hot and bothered by it. I used to, when I was 14, but then I proceeded to grow out of puberty.

We have had over 230 years of glorifying and creating iconic images of our founding fathers, until they haver become small gods whom we must look up to instead of recognizing them as regular menfolk. George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree or said that father, I cannot tell a lie stuff, it was made up for children as a teaching story, much like many of the biblical stories. Our founding fathers were not evangelical Christians, wanted a more tolerant nation towards religion than the right wing conservative groups that had hold of Europe at that time. They saw America as a land where people were free to make their own choices, free to worship as they chose or chose not to.

When I think of America and its heritage, I often turn to the poets for inspiration. Today should be a day to read Walt Whitman aloud, or sit quietly and ponder William Carlos Williams or James Harrison. Two of my personal favorites are Billy Collins and James Wright, and if I have been drinking and carousing I would crack open some Charles Bukowski, who died near the town where I grew up... So, in the words of an American songwriter, I say that freedom's just another word, with nothing left to lose...


You remember the name was Jensen. She seemed old
always alone inside, face pasted gray to the window,
and mail never came. Two blocks down, the Grubskis
went insane. George played rotten trombone
Easter when they flew the flag. Wild roses
remind you the roads were gravel and vacant lots
the rule. Poverty was real, wallet and spirit,
and each day slow as church. You remember threadbare
church groups on the corner, howling their faith
at stars, and the violent Holy Rollers
renting that barn for their annual violent sing
and the barn burned down when you came back from war.
Knowing the people you knew then are dead,
you try to believe these roads paved are improved,
the neighbors, moved in while you were away, good-looking,
their dogs well fed. You still have need
to remember lots empty and fern.
Lawns well trimmed remind you of the train
your wife took one day forever, some far empty town,
the odd name you never recall. The time: 6:23.
The day: October 9. The year remains a blur.
You blame this neighborhood for your failure.
In some vague way, the Grubskis degraded you
beyond repair. And you know you must play again
and again Mrs. Jensen pale at her window, must hear
the foul music over the good slide of traffic.
You loved them well and they remain, still with nothing
to do, no money and no will. Loved them, and the gray
that was their disease you carry for extra food
in case you're stranded in some odd empty town
and need hungry lovers for friends, and need feel
you are welcome in the secret club they have formed.

                                                              - Richard Hugo

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