Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why the Hypocrisy of Strident Moralists Like Roy Moore is so Common

Here's an insightful observation on Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore from Matt Bai, Yahoo political reporter. I feel Bai is onto something here, and his insight is not just restricted to conservatives. He also mentions liberal examples of the same kind of moral hypocrisy. To see the whole piece, go to this link.

"Moore’s fans in Alabama — most of whom are good people, I’m sure — are left to wonder, as people always do in these instances, how to reconcile the Moore they knew with the predator they’re reading about now in the papers. How could a man so devoted to public morality have been hitting on teenage girls by signing their yearbooks?

But it’s really not confounding at all. The truth is that moralizing and scandal are flip sides of the same filthy coin. Rigid intolerance is often the sign of one who can barely tolerate himself.
It turns out that all that time Moore was raising hell about morality and religious values, he was exorcising personal demons at the public’s expense. He was posturing as the moral pillar he badly wished he were, in order to somehow repress the weak, wicked man he knew himself to be.

You see this everywhere you look in public life. We know now that too many men, agonized by their own struggle with pedophilia, flock to the priesthood because they think they can redeem themselves. We’ve seen famous preachers come to tears railing against greed and adultery, because on some level they know they’re preaching to the mirror."

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Trump Believes Putin, Not US Intelligence Community

President Donald Trump continues to make the most incredible statements. Yesterday during his trip to Asia he was asked whether he had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin about Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Trump's response:
“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Putin. Trump also called the American intelligence services that determined Russia had undertaken major efforts to influence the American 2016 presidential election "political hacks." (Source)

It is difficult to believe anyone is that naive or stupid. Vladimir Putin is a former KGB colonel who has said "Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the twentieth century." (Source)
Putin has systematically dismantled democracy in Russia. Opposition papers and television stations have been shut down. Demonstrators who criticize Putin are arrested. Political rivals have been shot dead on the streets or died of radiation poisoning, and the perpetrators are never caught. He has launched invasions of Armenia and Crimea, has committed Russian forces to prop up the genocidal Assad regime in Syria and and his forces have surreptitiously intervened in Ukraine to support pro-Russian separatists who are fighting the legitimate government there. As Senator John McCain said today,

 "President Trump today stated that he believed Vladimir Putin is being sincere when he denies Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and reiterated that he hopes to cooperate with Russia in Syria," McCain, a strong critic of the President, said in a statement. "There's nothing 'America First' about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community. There's no 'principled realism' in cooperating with Russia to prop up the murderous Assad regime, which remains the greatest obstacle to a political solution that would bring an end to the bloodshed in Syria. Vladimir Putin does not have America's interests at heart. To believe otherwise is not only naive but also places our national security at risk."(Source)

If Trump actually believes the word of such a man he is an international babe in the woods whose credulousness is a clear and present danger to the security of the United States. If instead he knows better but is lying to the American people to protect his business ties to Putin's Russian oligarchs, collusion between his campaign and Russian agents, or simply because his ego cannot stand the thought that he may at least partly owe his election to the disinformation and meddling of a foreign power, then he is a corrupt figure deserving of impeachment.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Letter to AARP

Dear AARP:

I have received your letters regarding congressional moves to cut Medicare and turn it into a voucher program, and to fail to preserve Social Security at its present levels. As AARP members and as citizens who are 63 and 64 years old, my wife and I are just as dismayed and alarmed at these developments as you are.

Your letters appeal for money to assist your campaign to fight these outrages. But in order to secure our financial support I am going to require some more information from you.

First, your letters provide no details on what your campaign consists of. There is a vague reference to “push our elected leaders to do the right thing and protect our promised benefits.” Please explain how AARP intends to do that, and how additional money will be used in that effort: hire more lobbyists, buy TV ads, offer political contributions, or what?

Second, your letters appear to skirt reference to the elephant in the room. You say a “new federal budget introduced in the House of Representatives.” You refer to “powerful forces on Capitol Hill.” Let’s be frank. Those who introduced this inhumane and immoral budget are the Republicans. The “powerful forces” you refer to, who wish to take life-saving medical care and a bare subsistence pension away from vulnerable seniors are the Republicans.

I know you want to try to be a nonpartisan organization, but these are the political realties we face. Your current letter includes petitions for me to sign to my senators and representative. I have signed and included them in the envelope, but these are unnecessary. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris in the Senate and Scott Peters in the House are Democrats who strongly support Medicare and Social Security. They will do the right thing without any prodding. On the other hand, verbal appeals to Republicans will fall on deaf ears. They are the ones committed to cutting taxes and slashing Medicare and Social Security. They are the “powerful forces” who introduced the very legislation you rightly decry. No amount of jawboning is going to change their misguided devotion to their lamentable ideology. 

No, if you want to protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security your campaign needs to focus on alerting the American people about who is working to reduce or eliminate these crucial programs. You will not safeguard these vital benefits without defeating Republicans and electing solid Democratic majorities to both Houses of Congress. If that is the intent of your campaign then please let me know as soon as possible so I can rush my contribution to assist you in your efforts.  If it is not, then stop wasting my time and your efforts in a quixotic crusade

Do you really want to save Medicare and Social Security, or do you just want money to protect your jobs while paying lip service to standing up for us? Then let me know your campaign will be focused on electing our supporters and defeating those who threaten our very lives and my generous support will be on its way.

Steve Natoli,
12122 Royal Birkdale Row Unit 306, San Diego, CA 92128 
(559) 303-4671

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

World Series Tonight

I'm really excited that my cousin Mark and I are going to game two of the World Series tonight at Dodger Stadium. It wasn't cheap but for us two lifelong Dodger faithful it was a must. In my younger years it seemed the Blue Crew was in the series practically every 3 years or so, and I'd say I was spoiled by success and didn't feel a sense of urgency to experience baseball's pre-eminent showcase. There'd always be another opportunity in a couple of years. The Dodgers were in the Series 9 times in the seasons between 1959 and 1988. But now it's been 29 years. If it takes another 29 years there's a good chance I won't be around (I'm 63 now) or will be too feeble to attend! I've been to 3 playoff games but never a Fall Classic, as Tommy Lasorda likes to call it. So now's the time. Tune in at 5:00 and look for us in the Reserved Level, aisle 11, row H.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Trip to Greece

Tomorrow Joan and I will set out on a trip to Greece. For someone who taught Western History for 35 years this should be a real thrill. We'll fly to Athens and begin a 4-day land tour the next day. We'll get to see sights like Mycenae, Olympia, Delphi, Corinth and the fabled monasteries at Meteora.

After that we'll be back in Athens for four nights to take in the Greek vibe and see the remarkable sights there. The Greeks, and the Athenians more than any other, were the originators of philosophy, democracy, drama, rationalism and humanism. Their self-confidence and use of logic is well-expressed in their splendid art and architecture. They established the approach that underlies the scientific method. The museums will be marvelous and I'm told the food is great!

Then we'll set sail on the Aegean Sea to tour the Greek isles. Our 700-passenger ship will go to Mykonos, Crete, Patmos, Rhodes Ephesus and Santorini to take in the culture, the vivid azure waters and, in some cases, the small-town ambience. We will be back in the U.S. around the 18th of October.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

An Ounce of Climate Prevention

Climate change deniers often like to say we can't afford to undertake the mitigations necessary to reduce carbon pollution and transition to green energy sources. "It's bad for the economy," they say. Compared to what, I ask. According to initial insurance estimates the cost to repair the damage from hurricanes Harvey and Irma will total $50 to $70 billion dollars (source.)

That's just to repair the damage. It doesn't include having the economies of most of East Texas and much of the entire state of Florida off line for several weeks, which will cost the national economy more tens of billions. Just as predicted, the hotter oceans are producing more and stronger storms that cause more damage than ever before.

Why is it that we cannot afford to take the preventative steps to prevent such catastrophes but we generally seem to find the money to put things back together after them? 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Why the Confederate Statues Have to Come Down

We need to remove all the Confederate statues from public places in the United States. A statue of a person in a public place in our culture is there to honor that person. It is not there just to commemorate history. The people depicted in these statues, people like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Pierre Beauregard, Jeb Stuart and Nathan Forrest were enemies of the United States. What is more, they were traitors. Every one of them took an oath as an officer in the United States Army or as a federal elected official to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States. Every one of them then went on to repudiate and break that oath by waging war against the United States of America. In this war some 620,000 young men were killed. That is more than have fallen in all the other wars in this nation's history combined.

Some say to remove the statues from public parks and squares is an attempt to erase history. Not at all. The statues can go to Civil War and American History museums. The photographs of them can and should appear in textbooks. But we do not commemorate history in this country by erecting statues of our enemies. If so, where are the statues of King George III or General Cornwallis? Where are the public statues of Kaiser Wilhelm, or of Mussolini, Tojo and Hitler, or of Osama bin Laden?

No, we do not bestow honor in this country upon enemies who have sought to harm and destroy it, who have killed our citizens and attempted to conquer our land and destroy our republic. The very idea is an affront to the sacrifice of those who have risked their lives and too often made the ultimate sacrifice to defend it. It is time to drop this pretense. The communities that are removing these statues are doing the right thing. The Confederate statues have to go.