Friday Reads: The 1/4 Year of Living Dangerously (and surrounded by total chaos)

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Or what’s left of the morning and good in the world.

Drinking my morning coffee and reading the newspaper–now PC screen–is a habit I come by naturally. It’s a ritual my family followed for years.  Then, there was the follow-up ritual of turning on the evening news and reading the evening paper after my dad and others depending on who we were staying with in Kansas City that weekend. It could also include a grandfather or an uncle. It was something my mother did too.  I loved sitting on my Grandfather’s lap, smelling his cigar, and listening to him read the funnies to me in between pointing out all kinds of happenings. He was a Vice President of the Federal Reserve and ran the War Bond programs for a few states for both Wars.  He was a huge news hound.

For many years, it’s been a comforting ritual even though much of what I saw on black and white, then color, news programs and read on newsprint now followed by the bytes of light on my computer has not been all good. There have been scary times like the Cuban Missile Crisis or watching Civil Rights Demonstrators being badly beaten and seeing Southern Sheriffs turn dogs and hoses on children my age. That was horrifying to me. I was profoundly impacted by the war porn of Vietnam with the ghastly body count numbers that came out nightly. There was Watergate, Shock and Awe, assassinations, and planes crashing into the Twin Towers.  There were also men walking on the moon. All of these happened over decades.  It did not happen over the span of just a few months.  We have a 30 second news cycle. It’s full of awful, plentiful stories. You have to search to find the good.

Those of us in our twilight years can attest to being the generation that watched it all unfurl nearly live and then very live.  Until the last two months, I thought that I’d seen enough chaos, corruption, cruelty, and stupidity that I was inured to just about anything. I watched the Nixon Watergate hearings and rantings in High School. I saw the McCarthy hearings on film in my 8th grade American History class.  I’ve witnessed crazy Republicans, believe me. But, at the time, my nice staid Republican family–of which I was one for many years–felt that the few odds and sods that showed up ever so often were odd men out.  They’re not odd men out any more. They’re very much in and it seems like the doors of bedlam were opened so they could all run for office.

Media was also part of school. We watched “Biography” frequently or any number of documentaries on the school’s collection of TVs, VCRS, films and projectors, and the early broadcasts of PBS.  We had at least one day a week where we had to bring a newspaper article to discuss. Growing up in educated, upper middle class WASP America meant being educated and informed in my household. It meant voting and volunteering.  It meant making sure that we did things that represented the basic value of “to whom much is given, much is asked”.

I may have learned the lessons of Jesus with a Presbyterian minister who drove an orange convertible fiat, spent a hell of a lot of time on the golf course at the local, very expensive and exclusive country club, and had the most jaunty outfits you could imagine to include leather driving gloves and tweed caps, but I was sent on summers to do all kinds of work in Rural New Mexico.  I was taught the Beatitudes were the basis of my beliefs even though the Sunday sermons were usually illustrated by the pronouncement to think about these things when you’re in the locker room or the bridge room of the Country Club. Of course, that was the country club with no Jewish members, a rare number of Catholics, and black Americans only as employees.

I breathed rarefied air most of my life. But, I was not raised to be ignorant, cruel, or uniformed.  Now, I have found myself in a country where ignorance, cruelty, and propaganda rule the day and it has just about turned me into something I barely recognize. I’m drained. I’m exhausted. I don’t want to be around people I don’t know extremely well.

There are a lot of headlines today. I can barely deal with one of them.  After spending the entire year dehumanizing the Syrian people and showing abject loathing of suffering Syrian families that include “beautiful babies”, the  U.S. Launches Missiles at Syrian Base After Chemical Weapons Attack.

The United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria overnight in response to what it believes was a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 100 people.

At least six people were killed, Syria claimed, but the Pentagon said civilians were not targeted and the strike was aimed at a military airfield in Homs.

All but one of the missiles hit their intended target, one U.S. military official told NBC News. The other missile failed.

The strike completed a policy reversal for President Donald Trump — who once warned America to stay out of the conflict — and drew angry responses from Damascus and its main ally, Russia.

Yes. Kremlin Caligulia–most likely compensating for his tiny little fingers–pulled the US’s stockpile of phallic symbols out and blew up the maintenance crews and buildings of a Syrian Military Airbase. There’s evidence that the Russians were alerted and the Syrians knew beforehand.

Syrian military officials appeared to anticipate Thursday night’s raid on Syria‘s Shayrat air base, evacuating personnel and moving equipment ahead of the strike, according to an eyewitness.

Dozens of Tomahawk missiles struck the air base near Homs, damaging runways, towers and traffic control buildings, a local resident and human rights activist living near the air base told ABC News via an interpreter.

U.S. officials believe the plane that dropped chemical weapons on civilians in Idlib Province on Tuesday, which according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights killed 86 people, took off from the Shayrat airbase.

The attack lasted approximately 35 minutes and its impact was felt across the city, shaking houses and sending those inside them fleeing from their windows. Both of the air base’s major runways were struck by missiles, and some of its 40 fortified bunkers were also damaged.

Local residents say the Russian military had used the air base in early 2016 but have since withdrawn their officers, so the base is now mainly operated by Syrian and Iranian military officers. There is also a hotel nearby where Iranian officers have been staying, though it was not clear whether it was damaged.

The eyewitness believes human casualties, at least within the civilian population, were minimal, as there was no traffic heading toward the local hospital.

So, it was mostly an empty gesture.  It was more likely another display of the decimation of Obama policy.  It was more Branding of Kremlin Caligula as tough asshole. You will notice that no Syrian children are on their way to our hospitals and the safety of our communities after that costly gesture.  There were a few crocodiles tears last night at Orange-Lago central where the Presidential announcement sounded like it came from a NAZI bunker at the end of the that long war.

The events of the past week, culminating in the decision by President Obama’s successor to launch a punitive strike on a Syrian air base in retaliation for Assad’s continued use of chemical weapons against civilians, prove a number of points, some that reflect well on Obama, and some that do not. The first is that the 2013 Obama-Putin deal to disarm Assad of his chemical weapons was a failure. It was not a complete failure, in that stockpiles were indeed removed, but Assad kept enough of these weapons to allow him to continue murdering civilians with sarin gas. The argument that Obama achieved comprehensive WMD disarmament without going to war is no longer, as they say in Washington, operative.

The events of the past week also prove that a core principle of the Obama Doctrine is dead. President Trump’s governing foreign policy doctrine is not easily discernible, of course. His recent statements about Syria—kaleidoscopic in their diversity—combined with his decision to order an attack, have half-convinced me that he is something wholly unique in the history of the presidency: an isolationist interventionist.

The Constitutionality of the action is in question since it’s an attack on the military of a foreign nation which is basically an act of war.

The first part asks whether the President has presumptive authority to use force unilaterally.  For OLC, this authority turns on whether the “national interest” vindicated by the use of force sufficiently important?  That sounds vague and easy to satisfy, but as we’ll see in a moment, OLC has (at least until the Syria strike) pointed to some objective limits.  If the president perceives that “national interest” would be vindicated by a use of force,  OLC says that he can presumptively use force abroad under his powers as “Commander in Chief and Chief Executive, for foreign and military affairs, as well as national security.”

However, OLC acknowledged “one possible constitutionally-based limit on this presidential authority to employ military force in defense of important national interests—a planned military engagement that constitutes a ‘war’ within the meaning of the Declaration of War Clause may require prior congressional authorization.”  This second part of the test turns on the “anticipated nature, scope, and duration of the planned military operations.”  The idea is that relatively short-term and small-scale operations abroad are not “war” and thus do not implicate the Declare War clause, but larger-scale, longer-term operations might be “war” and thus might implicate the clause.

Applying this test to Syria, consider the “scale of operations” prong first.  The U.S. military last night fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Al Shayrat airfield in Syria.  We don’t know whether or when it might strike again, and for now, at least, there appears to be no prospect of directing U.S. boots on the ground toward Syrian forces.  From the perspective of Executive branch precedent, air campaigns—especially short-term ones, and especially ones (like those involving cruise missiles or drones) that present practically no chance of American casualties—easily satisfy the “anticipated nature, scope and duration” test for not impinging on congressional prerogatives.  (As Matt Waxman and I explained, the Obama administration’s clarification of the president’s unilateral power to engaged in “limited” war from a distance was one of its central legal legacy’s related to war powers.)  As long as the military intervention in Syria is short term and limited and does not involve ground troops against Assad forces, it breaks no new legal ground.

The same cannot be said of the other prong of the test, which asks whether the President has authority to strike in the first place.  What is the important national interest in intervening in Syria?  No U.S. persons or property are at stake.  That fact alone distinguishes most executive branch precedents.  In the Libya opinion, OLC argued that “at least two national interests that the President reasonably determined were at stake here—preserving regional stability and supporting the UNSC’s credibility and effectiveness.”  The second interest—the “credibility and effectiveness” of a Security Council Resolution—is a controversial basis for justifying presidential unilateralism because it seems to substitute international institutional approval for congressional approval.  This line of reasoning  began with Truman’s unilateral initiation of the Korean war in response to North Korea’s international aggression.  In that instance, in 1950, the State Department argued (among other things) that the President as Commander in Chief could deploy U.S. armed forces, consistent with the Constitution, for the purpose of upholding the “paramount United States interest” in the “continued existence of the United Nations as an effective international organization.”  Moreover, the Kosovo precedent arguably extends this reasoning from the Security Council to NATO, which supported (and indeed conducted) the Kosovo strikes.

The administration continues to be unpredictable, contrarian of its own spoken or twittered words, and chaotic. How can a great country be ruled under these circumstances?

Just as chaos and treason ruled the Trump campaign, the Trump Administration is already jettisoning its bad personnel choices. Most of the real work is not being done by any one because no one has appointed those ‘any ones’ yet.  But, we already have more firings of people on the horizon with in the West Wing if you believe sources at Axios.

President Trump is considering a broad shakeup of his White House that could include the replacement of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the departure of chief strategist Steve Bannon, aides and advisers tell us.

A top aide to Trump said he’s contemplating major changes, but that the situation is very fluid and the timing uncertain: “Things are happening, but it’s very unclear the president’s willing to pull that trigger.”

 Insiders tell me that the possibilities for chief of staff include:

  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who developed a bond with Trump as one of the earlier congressional leaders to support him, and remains a confidant.
  • Wayne Berman of Blackstone Group, a Washington heavy-hitter who was an Assistant Secretary of Commerce under President George H.W. Bush, and a key adviser on eight presidential campaigns.
  • David Urban of the Washington advisory firm American Continental Group, and a former chief of staff to the late Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). Urban helped Trump win an upset victory in Pennsylvania, and was in constant cellphone contact with the candidate throughout the campaign.
  • Gary Cohn, Trump’s economic adviser and the former #2 at Goldman Sachs, who has built a formidable team and internal clout.

The West Wing “Game of Thrones” has been raging ever since Trump took office. But the war between the nationalists and the moderates, led by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, burst into the open this week after Bannon was taken off the National Security Council, setting off a torrent of leaks against him.

Bannon called reports that he was ready to quit “100 percent nonsense.”

Just like no one bombed the Governor of Michigan for poisoning the children of Flint, no one will care as this President poisons the children of the Gulf for no particular reason than the greed of Tillerson and the like.  No one will likely mention that job growth is slowing.   Businesses hate uncertainty and any thing in the planning stage that can be halted likely will.

Meanwhile, Trump Princeling Jared has the highest security clearance while commiting acts of omission that would tank any one else’s credentials and clearance.

Trump isn’t keen on the first amendment as he’s gone after anonymous tweet accounts that find him disgusting.  Trump is well known for trolling then President Obama with some of the worst lies and slurs one can imagine.  He can dish it out but cannot take it.  Plus, he doesn’t realize he’s now subject to free speech rules.

Twitter Inc on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit to block an order by the U.S. government demanding that it reveal who is behind an account opposed to President Donald Trump’s tough immigration policies.

Twitter cited freedom of speech as a basis for not turning over records about the account, @ALT_uscis. The account is claimed to be the work of at least one federal immigration employee, according to the lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court.

The acronym U.S. CIS refers to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the account describes itself as “immigration resistance.” Trump has vowed to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and has promised to deport millions of illegal immigrants.

Following Trump’s inauguration in January, anonymous Twitter feeds that borrowed the names and logos of more than a dozen U.S. government agencies appeared to challenge the president’s views on climate change and other issues. They called themselves “alt” accounts.

Twitter spokesman Nick Pacilio declined to comment on whether the government had demanded information about other accounts critical of Trump.

Twitter, which counts Trump among its active users, has a record of litigating in favor of user privacy.

I ran across an interesting article at Fusion that I’d like to share. It suggests that the current mess we’re in is due to an industry that makes a pot lying to white men.

If you want to understand intra-GOP warfare, the decision-making process of our president, the implosion of the Republican healthcare plan, and the rest of the politics of the Trump era, you don’t need to know about Russian espionage tactics, the state of the white working class, or even the beliefs of the “alt-right.” You pretty much just need to be in semi-regular contact with a white, reasonably comfortable, male retiree. We are now ruled by men who think and act very much like that ordinary man you might know, and if you want to know why they believe so many strange and terrible things, you can basically blame the fact that a large and lucrative industry is dedicated to lying to them.

It’s the basic explanation that old school Republicans thought they could radicalize their base and not expect the base to eventually turn on them.

But the complete and inarguable disaster of the Bush administration—a failure of the conservative movement itself, one undeniable even to many consumers of the parallel conservative media—and his abrupt replacement by a black man, caused a national nervous breakdown among the people who’d been told, for many years, that conservatism could not fail, and that all Real Americans agreed with them.

Rather rapidly, two things happened: First, Republicans realized they’d radicalized their base to a point where nothing they did in power could satisfy their most fervent constituents. Then—in a much more consequential development—a large portion of the Republican Congressional caucus became people who themselves consume garbage conservative media, and nothing else.

That, broadly, explains the dysfunction of the Obama era, post-Tea Party freakout. Congressional Republicans went from people who were able to turn their bullshit-hose on their constituents, in order to rile them up, to people who pointed it directly at themselves, mouths open.

Now, we have a president whose media diet defines his worldview, interests, and priorities. He is not one of the men, like most of those Tea Party members of Congress, whose existing worldview determined his media diet—who sealed himself off from disagreeable media sources. He is, in fact, something far more dangerous: a confused old man who believes what the TV tells him.

My father spent many of his last years swallowing what Fox dished out and it took a lot of time on my part to disabuse of him of the notion that any one on FOX  was worthy of shining the shoes of David Brinkly or Chet Huntley.

 

Please listen to the last words of Chet Huntley on his last night of broadcast in 1970 then let me close with Brian Williams. Ask yourselves when American news and news watchers went down the prime rose path straight into the rabbit hole. This headline suggests more than FOX has gone down the Rabbit Hole: “Brian Williams is ‘guided by the beauty of our weapons’ in Syria strikes”.  WAPO writer Derek Hawkins is none too kind to Williams.

As dozens of cruise missiles laid waste to a Syrian military airfield late Thursday, MSNBC’s Brian Williams took a moment to wax poetic.

All evening, MSNBC and other news networks had been playing a reel of footage of the assault, which President Trump authorized in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed more than 70 civilians this week.

The footage, provided by the Pentagon, showed several Tomahawk missiles launching from U.S. Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea, illuminating the decks of the ships and leaving long trails of smoke in the night sky.

It was a sight that seemed to dazzle Williams, who described the images as “beautiful” in a segment on his show, “The 11th Hour.”

“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean,” Williams said. “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.’”

“They are beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments making what is for them what is a brief flight over to this airfield,” he added, then asked his guest, “What did they hit?”

The remarks drew backlash on Twitter, where some users seemed disturbed by Williams’s flowery language.

At some point, I feel like I’ve crossed into the zone of the crazy cat lady who screams at the teenagers in the yard every time I close the screen on the latest news.  I rarely venture on to the boob tube news zone at all unless it’s really something breaking. This week I sallied forth and am retreating.

I haven’t even gotten around to elucidating all the bad things about McConnell going nuclear and that Gorsuch–a huge mistake for all of us–has just been confirmed for the benefit of the worst of the religious nuts in our country. I’m at nearly 3500 words and all I can say is

“Good night, David” – “Good night, Chet… and good night” TO(sic) NBC News!


Friday Reads: Make Love not War

martin-richardGood Morning!

We certainly have created a lot of ways to destroy each other haven’t we?  We also seem to breed a lot of individuals that are capable of doing great harm without reservation.  This week has brought the carnage once again into our back yard. It is important to remember that we have brought and are bringing worse carnage and that we are not alone in our experience.

We have sophisticated drones that appear to take out as many innocents as they do bad guys.  Just yesterday in Baghdad, a suicide bomber killed 26 in a crowded cafe. Less than a month ago, 2 blasts occurred in a busy shopping district of Hyderabad, India. These twin blasts killed 14 people and injured 119.  Seventeen were injured today in Bangalore in a car bomb blast. Neither India or Boston are war zones.  Baghdad was not a war zone until we invaded it.  We left it to whatever it is today.

Then, there is the daily amount of gun violence in the country.  Let me return to Boston for this perspective.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said today that he hopes to cut gun crimes in half this summer during Boston’s most violent months: July and August, when the city typically sees between 37 and 48 shootings each month.

The department’s ranks were boosted as 28 members of the force were promoted and one new officer was named during a ceremony this morning.

Davis said those promotions represent the department’s efforts to fill vacancies in preparation for the summertime.

“We’re going to have a full court press on those months this year,” said Davis. “We’re gonna do a lot of preventive work leading up to those months. There’s gonna be a significant amount of attention paid to the impact players in the city. We want them to put their weapons down.”

Nationally, we experience 88 gun deaths a day.  There have been about 3,524 gun deaths in this country since the Sandy Hook Slaughter. As you carefully read that sign made by the youngest victim of the Boston Bombs above, consider this:

… a child in the U.S is about 13 times more likely to be a victim of a firearm-related homicide than children in most other industrialized nations.

Firearms were the third leading cause of injury-related deaths nationwide in 2010, following poisoning and motor vehicle accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the sake of comparison, in 2010 there were more than twice as many firearms deaths in the U.S. than terrorism-related deaths worldwide.

Then consider how completely ignorant most people are of our violent legacies to other countries. Think of mass murderers of the 20th century, and then read this.

Mr. Kissinger’s most significant historical act was executing Richard Nixon’s orders to conduct the most massive bombing campaign, largely of civilian targets, in world history. He dropped 3.7 million tons of bombs** between January 1969 and January 1973 – nearly twice the two million dropped on all of Europe and the Pacific in World War II. He secretly and illegally devastated villages throughout areas of Cambodia inhabited by a U.S. Embassy-estimated two million people; quadrupled the bombing of Laos and laid waste to the 700-year old civilization on the Plain of Jars; and struck civilian targets throughout North Vietnam – Haiphong harbor, dikes, cities, Bach Mai Hospital – which even Lyndon Johnson had avoided. His aerial slaughter helped kill, wound or make homeless an officially-estimated six million human beings**, mostly civilians who posed no threat whatsoever to U.S. national security and had committed no offense against it.

Let’s grasp Lady Lindsey’s flip comments here about drone deaths.  This is our current undertaking for “Peace in Our Time”.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a staunch supporter of the U.S. drone wars, Wednesday become the first government official to put a number on the estimated drone strike death toll.

“We’ve killed 4,700,” Graham said during a speech at a South Carolina rotary club, reported on by the local Easley Patch and flagged by Al Jazeera.

“This is the first time a US official has put a total number on it,” said Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations told Al Jazeera, but Graham’s office stated that the senator was only repeating “the figure that has been publicly reported and disseminated on cable news.” Graham’s figure aligns with estimates from groups included the U.K.-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), which has calculate that between 3,072 and 4,756 people have been killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Graham’s figure did not distinguish between “combatant” and “civilian” casualties — a distinction which has, in the War on Terror, prompted debate. But the senator did reportedly say, “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al-Qaida.”

I’d like to know why some acts of violence attract so much attention and outrage?  Tons of folks have been out in their virtual scooby vans   warping into the witch hunt version of Encyclopedia Brown trying to finger the ‘dark skinned’ individuals that could’ve set the bombs on the Boston Marathon route.  Have any of these idiots ever looked at the gun death rate in their own town or state?  Have they ever concerned the morality of bombing wedding celebrations?  Are they still taking Henry Kissinger or Donald Rumsfeld seriously?  Have they possibly cracked a paper to find out exactly how many bombings happen on this planet and how many of them we commit? For that matter, why aren’t they looking for guys that look like Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph?  Ever been to London and tried to find a trash can?  

In London, public trash cans are hard to come by, as they’re an easy receptacle for bombs. Which makes it hard to throw things away properly! Now, the city is going to bring trash cans back, but they’re going to be big, hulking masses, totally bomb-proof and equipped with LCD screens to tell you the days news as you throw away your coffee cup.

Traveling to Europe–especially London–in the 1970s and 1980s included an introduction to basic instructions on what to do if a bomb went off and what to do to avoid being in an area that was likely subject to bombing.  There are still Basque separatists bombing Spain. We’re coming up on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday.  I was in Europe a lot in 1972 and it was like the year of the bomb over there.  But, again, there was Kissinger too.  It was the year I learned not to look or sound overly American.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were forced to live in holes and caves, like animals. Many tens of thousands were burned alive by the bombs, slowly dying in agony. Others were buried alive, as they gradually suffocated to death when a 500 pound bomb exploded nearby. Most were victims of antipersonnel bombs designed primarily to maim not kill, many of the survivors carrying the metal, jagged or plastic pellets in their bodies for the rest of their lives.

Then, riddle me this.  What is the difference between setting bombs on the street filled with crowds, or a bomb in a cafe, or a drone that hits a wedding or having one Texas “Job Creator” callously killing an entire city and a lot of its inhabitants because he just doesn’t want to be bothered with work place safety regulations or say, proper placement of a dangerous plant to start out with?  I mean what exactly do you call a guy that runs a business that blows up an entire town and kills–at this point in time–35 people including 10 first responders? (That’s a link to CNN and USA Today so consider it with care.)

It really bothers me that we–as a nation–appear to have selective attention on what kind of violence gets our shock and attention and what kinds of violence we choose to ignore every day, every year, or in the case of the atrocities of Kissinger, every decade or four. We have had some horrific carnage recently. We’ve had children slaughtered in their classroom.  We’ve had folks standing on the street celebrating a holiday ending up in hospital with wounds severe enough to warrant the kinds of amputees soldiers need in Afghanistan.  This is horrific, but it does not operate in a vacuum or a world where we have done no wrong or where these kinds of events are rare.

gaza_bombing_victim

Child victim in Gaza

So, call me Debbie Downer and tell me to get my unpatriotic ass out of the country or call me insensitive. I want to see a consistent and strong level of outrage, shock, and trauma displayed for all innocent victims of unspeakable violence.  The hometowns of all of these victims should be our hometowns.

Child victim in Syria

Child victim in Syria

Here is a great question from a great writer, Juan Cole. Can the Boston Bombings increase our Sympathy for Iraq and Syria, for all such Victims?

The idea of three dead, several more critically wounded, and over a 100 injured, merely for running in a marathon (often running for charities or victims of other tragedies) is terrible to contemplate. Our hearts are broken for the victims and their family and friends, for the runners who will not run again.

There is negative energy implicit in such a violent event, and there is potential positive energy to be had from the way that we respond to it. To fight our contemporary pathologies, the tragedy has to be turned to empathy and universal compassion rather than to anger and racial profiling. Whatever sick mind dreamed up this act did not manifest the essence of any large group of people. Terrorists and supremacists represent only themselves, and always harm their own ethnic or religious group along with everyone else.

The negative energies were palpable. Fox News contributor Erik Rush tweeted, “Everybody do the National Security Ankle Grab! Let’s bring more Saudis in without screening them! C’mon!” When asked if he was already scapegoating Muslims, he replied, ““Yes, they’re evil. Let’s kill them all.” Challenged on that, he replied, “Sarcasm, idiot!” What would happen, I wonder, if someone sarcastically asked on Twitter why, whenever there is a bombing in the US, one of the suspects everyone has to consider is white people? I did, mischievously and with Mr. Rush in mind, and was told repeatedly that it wasn’t right to tar all members of a group with the brush of a few. They were so unselfconscious that they didn’t seem to realize that this was what was being done to Muslims!

Indeed, sympathy for Boston’s victims has come from around the world from places like Iraq that we’ve plastered with bombs not that long ago. Condemnation for this act came from elected officials in Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood which has been absolutely slathered with the mark of satan by the likes of our elected officials like whacko Michelle Bachmann.  This part of Cole’s essay really got to me and I was already teary eyed hearing about Jane and Martin Richard from their school’s headmaster on Last Word.

Some Syrians and Iraqis pointed out that many more people died from bombings and other violence in their countries on Monday than did Americans, and that they felt slighted because the major news networks in the West (which are actually global media) more or less ignored their carnage but gave wall to wall coverage of Boston.

Aljazeera English reported on the Iraq bombings, which killed some 46 in several cities, and were likely intended to disrupt next week’s provincial election.

Over the weekend, Syrian regime fighter jets bombed Syrian cities, killing two dozen people, including non-combatants:

What happened in Boston is undeniably important and newsworthy. But so is what happened in Iraq and Syria. It is not the American people’s fault that they have a capitalist news model, where news is often carried on television to sell advertising. The corporations have decided that for the most part, Iraq and Syria aren’t what will attract Nielsen viewers and therefore advertising dollars. Given the global dominance by US news corporations, this decision has an impact on coverage in much of the world.

Here is a video by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) on the dilemma of the over one million displaced Syrians, half of them children:

So I’d like to turn the complaint on its head. Having experienced the shock and grief of the Boston bombings, cannot we in the US empathize more with Iraqi victims and Syrian victims? Compassion for all is the only way to turn such tragedies toward positive energy.

Perhaps some Americans, in this moment of distress, will be willing to be also distressed over the dreadful conditions in which Syrian refugees are living, and will be willing to go to the aid of Oxfam’s Syria appeal. Some of those Syrians living in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey were also hit by shrapnel or lost limbs. Perhaps some of us will donate to them in the name of our own Boston Marathon victims of senseless violence.

Terrorism has no nation or religion. But likewise its victims are human beings, precious human beings, who must be the objects of compassion for us all.

It is absolutely true that the shortcomings of our press this week were on parade this week.  They basically spent hour-after-hour in what seemed like a glorified witch hunt.  But there is a bigger injustice and short coming.  Other people around the world–suffering and dying–deserve to have their stories told also.  Every innocent victim of violence deserves justice and recognition.   This is true of those 88 who die every day in this country from guns.  It is true of all those killed by state violence be it ours or Bashar al-Assad or the crazy jerks that set of bombs on streets all over the world or fire military style weapons in our schools and movie theaters.  All of this should cause the press to do its job and it should cause our hearts to grieve equally. Why obsess minute by minute on one act when there is a world full of them to choose from? Why not give all of the victims of violence their due?

So, what is on your reading and blogging list today?