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Getting Away with It


by: Maggie Kast on August 18th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

You can do whatever you can get away with, but nobody has ever gotten away with much.

Flannery O’Connor, in “The Nature and Aim of Fiction”

How much can our heads of government get away with? Constitution-defying travel bans, revolving-door staff, governance by tweet, absconding from climate accords, cozying up to white nationalists, disrespect for everyone except the self? It seems that our world has shifted, fractured as though by a jerk of tectonic plates. It’s easy to think of our situation as uniquely off kilter, and in some ways it is, but consider the political upheavals of mid-twentieth century U.S.

Orderly governance turned bizarre and dangerous in the early1950s, when I was growing up in Washington, D.C. “Association” became a crime – that is, association with anyone who might have left-wing sympathies. Interrogation, job loss, emigration and worse could follow accusation, and a mood of suspicion and fear colored every interaction. Senator Joseph McCarthy garnered attention and headlines all over the country and the world as he waved papers, claimed that X number of known Communist Party members worked in government, and accused Democratic administrations of “twenty years of treason.” At the peak of hysteria, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed, convicted of conspiring to give atomic secrets to the Russians.

I was barely twelve as our family’s friends and acquaintances began to be called, one by one, to testify before HUAC, the House Unamerican Activities Committee. We consulted the paper with queasy stomachs each morning to see who would be next. Of course there were no laws restricting your social circle or the meetings you attended, but names are what the committee wanted, and if you refused to name your friends and associates, you had to plead the 5th amendment, against self-incrimination, and the world would assume you were guilty. If you refused to name them you could be prosecuted for contempt of Congress. If you got tripped up in your testimony you could be prosecuted for perjury and convicted, like Alger Hiss, who spent five years in jail.


To the Murdered Innocents—How America can regain Its Moral and Communitarian Soul


by: Phil Wolfson on August 14th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

Let us all face it: We have lost it.


If we are not crying for the murdered woman and the injured in Charlottesville, the murdered on the Portland train, all who have been murdered, wounded and damaged by this rampant hatred, we need to turn inward and examine who we are and who we have become. We must feel our loss, our grief in empathy in order to regain our centers.


The old face to the world of a haven for all, an opportunity for justice and freedom, for all people’s freedom, for a constitutional civilized way of life is gone. Worldwide, the US is now seen for its oppressive might, its racism, its greed, its hate mongering exemplified by its president and government. That historic designation of the difference between the government and its people is losing its power as those who praise racism and misogyny stand at the helm with the backing of a right-wing media inflamed minority who have lost touch with even their basic self-interests.


The Forest That Overwhelms Trump Tower


by: Reverend Billy Talen on August 7th, 2017 | 4 Comments »

It always starts with the vulnerability of risking arrest.  The activism is the purest citizenship.  We enter Trump Tower.  We walk through the submachine guns and dogs, the body armor and the golden name of the white supremacist president that hovers in space above the door.

We are only doing what tourists do.  Ta-Nehisi Coates would say that we are walking into The Dream.  Trump Tower’s public area, where we are welcome as long as we show signs of being willing consumers of The Dream, is a 5 story high vertical mall, with gold-plated escalators zig-zagging upwards.  The hanging garden of Trump.  Fake plants on gold pillars!  We walk across the threshold of The Dream carrying the intention to subvert it and replace it with our Earthalujah!

Let’s call The Dream what it is – The Nightmare.  We have here in this building in concentrated form exactly what most Americans have everyday – the complex of responses to state-sanctioned violence on behalf of race and property and profit.  We feel the manufacture of fear, the itching-the-imagined-wound of Trump nation.  As we walk by the silent staring Secret Service we feel the fantastic imagination made by American fear – the conspiracy theories, the deadly tribalism of police, the scandal of alternative love, the remake of everyone everywhere into a monstrous “Other.”


A Call to Our Communities to Stop the Character Assassinations and Attacks on Seekers of Justice


by: Donna Nevel on August 3rd, 2017 | 14 Comments »

Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian groups and individuals, including from Jewish communities, continue to spearhead or engage in assaults upon those who dare to criticize Israel or support Palestinian rights. Palestinians and Muslims are particularly targeted.


These attacks against supporters of justice come as Israel continues to escalate its violence and repressive tactics against the Palestinian people.In recent weeks, we have witnessed an intensification of Israeli violence against Palestinians at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, and the people of Gaza are enduring unbearable brutality, forced tolive “in abject poverty under practically inhuman conditions unparalleled in the modern world,”B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group hasrecentlysaid.


Yet, the attacks I refer to are not on those perpetrating these grave injustices, but, rather, on those challenging them. This is a plea to those of us from within Jewish communities to vigorously and unequivocally repudiate these persistent character assassinations and attacks, to call them out for what they are, to examine our complicity in what is happening, and to join the call for justice.


How US Policy Helps Al Qaeda in Yemen


by: Jonathan Marshall on August 3rd, 2017 | No Comments »

Exclusive: President Trump – like President Obama – is working at cross purposes in supposedly fighting Al Qaeda in Yemen while helping Saudi Arabia kill Al Qaeda’s chief Yemeni enemies, as Jonathan Marshall explains.


In a world of bad actors, one of the “baddest” of all is the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which the CIA once branded “the most dangerous regional node in the global jihad.” It masterminded the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000; nearly blew up a U.S. passenger jet flying into Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009; brought down a UPS cargo plane in 2010; and sponsored the 2015 attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, killing 11 and wounding another 11.

All of which raises an embarrassing question: Why is the United States supporting AQAP’s main ally in Yemen, Saudi Arabia?

The respected news publication Middle East Eye reports that Abdulmajid al-Zindani, a Yemeni cleric, “veteran al-Qaeda supporter,” and “former spiritual adviser to Osama bin Laden,” has been operating freely in Saudi Arabia, even posting YouTube videos lauding the Saudi war in his home country.


Tisha B’av does not have a happy ending


by: Aryeh Cohen on July 31st, 2017 | 3 Comments »

Tisha B’av is not yom kippur. We are assured neither atonement nor redemption on Tisha B’av.

Tisha B’av is not the day that we beat our chests and promise to do better.

Tisha B’av is the day that we force ourselves to look into the heart of darkness, the darkness that we have created, the ways in which we are complicit in the evils of the world and we must be overwhelmed and distraught and paralyzed. There is no ray of hope on Tisha B’av.

Tisha B’av is the day of reckoning.


Is Trump Attempting To Outwit Congress?


by: Rich Scheck on July 27th, 2017 | No Comments »

President Trump appears to be poised to outmaneuver Congress by threatening even greater
sanctions against Russia as a way of making it seem they cannot constrain his power:
The proposed legislation with vast bipartisan support would severely limit Trump’s ability to work
with Russia while imposing more restraints on its economic activity that even the EU finds repulsive.

Healthcare Equality and Palliative Care Support


by: Beverly Alves on July 25th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

My name is Beverly Alves; I’m an advocate for healthcare reform and the medical specialty of palliative care. I am deeply distressed by thelegislative nightmare surrounding healthcare in the US; the heartlessness of some members of Congress and the current Executive Branch, is appalling and destructive! I’ve renamed the AHCA the “American Healthcare Atrocity,” because that’s what it is!


Health and illness are part of the human condition! At the time of our great nation’s birth, all healthcare treatment was the same; there was no difference in healthcare between those with wealth and those without (everyone was given herbs and/or bled). The rich may have slept on feather beds and the poor may have slept on straw mats, but the healthcare they received was basically equal. Today, there is a difference, a great difference! Today healthcare is the difference between life and death, suffering with chronic illness and pain or having the meds and support to create a better quality of life.


I got involved in the healthcare movement shortly after my late husband Joe developed and passed from pancreatic cancer ten years ago. Until then, like most Americans who haven’t had to deal with a serious medical condition, I thought we had the best healthcare system in the world. That’s what we’re told! Sadly, however, this is not the case! Healthcare should be about health and healing, it shouldn’t be about making a profit!


America’s Wars


by: Tom Engelhardt on July 25th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

Editor’s note: Below, another analysis of America’s wars from our media ally TomDispatch.com. As you know, the way to overcome all this is not only to protest against this militarism, but to convince the Left that it needs to promote an alternative path to Homeland Security. That’s the point of our Global Marshall Plan www.tikkun.org/gmp which proposes that we replace the Strategy of Domination which has been tried for the past 10,000 years and doesn’t work with a Strategy of Generosity so that the U.S. becomes known as the most generous country in the world rather than just the most powerful dominator. Until we insist that this is a major part of what liberals and progressives are presenting to the American people, the fear that ISIS and Al Queda have generated (the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers remain ever-present in the consciousness of Americans as an source of fear about safety, and the ruthlessness of ISIS and its clones does give even the most nonviolent people a reason to wonder what could change all this) will not abate and the militarists will keep winning inside not just the Right, but the Center of the Democratic Party as well. (side note: we give the same advice to Israelis: want security? become known as the most generous force in the Middle East, not just the most militarily powerful).Meanwhile, as Tom Engelhardt demonstrates below, we in the West (yes, Canadians, UK, France, Australia, etc. have all dirtied their hands in this) have much to repent for. That’s one reason why I want to invite you (no you don’t have to be Jewish) to participate with us in Beyt Tikkun’s High Holiday celebrations –the ten days of repentance that start with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur. We will be one of the very few synagogues in America that will explicitly be atoning for the sins of the U.S. and the sins of Israel. It’s worth the trip to Berkeley for this either for Rosh Hashanah or for Yom Kippur (the day of Atonement). Info at www.beyttikkun.org/hhd)


Empire of Destruction
Precision Warfare? Don’t Make Me Laugh
by Tom Engelhardt


You remember. It was supposed to be twenty-first-century war, American-style: precise beyond imagining; smart bombs; drones capable of taking out a carefully identified and tracked human being just about anywhere on Earth; special operations raids so pinpoint-accurate that they would represent a triumph of modern military science. Everything “networked.” It was to be a glorious dream of limited destruction combined with unlimited power and success. In reality, it would prove to be a nightmare of the first order.

If you want a single word to summarize American war-making in this last decade and a half, I would suggest rubble. It’s been a painfully apt term since September 11, 2001. In addition, to catch the essence of such war in this century, two new words might be useful: rubblize and rubblization. Let me explain what I mean.


The Invisible Monster of Climate Change


by: Tom Engelhardt & John Feffer on July 25th, 2017 | No Comments »

Editor’s note: Tikkun’s media ally TomDispatch.com has produced another valuable analysis, this time in the form of a dystopian forecast of what might be coming by 2050. Below is how its editor Tom Engelhardt introduces this scary yet sadly realistic vision. But before you get swallowed in despair, remember that we at Tikkun have a strategy to change all this and you could be part of the solution. Start by reading our analysis of thePsychopathology of the 2016 Electionand ourNew Strategy for Progressivesand also ourPath to a World of Love and Justice, then sign up for information about our next online (so you can do this anyplace in the world that has access to the web)activist training(in September) for a new kind of activism for the Trump yearshttps://org.salsalabs.com/o/525/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=98701 And if you wish to look at some of the transitional programs that could save our planet from the destruction predicted below, after reading the strategy outlined in those links, read ourGlobal Marshall Plan(introduced into the House of Representatives by Tikkun ally Congressman Keith Ellison (who came within a few votes in Feb. 2017 of being elected national chair of the Democratic National Committee) and ourESRA-the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Taken together, these represent the path to overcome the likely disaster if we don’t follow this path with the understanding of the psychodynamics you’ll grasp once you read those articles.-Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun magazine (subscribe atwww.tikkun.org/subscribe) or donate to our efforts atwww.tikkun.org/donateand JOIN our Network of Spiritual Progressives atwww.spiritualprogressives.org. rabbilerner.tikkun@gmail.com

Here’s the introduction to this article by TomDispatch’s brilliant editor Tom Engelhardt:

If you’re looking for fairy tales that are on the grim (not Grimm) side, things that once might only have been in dystopian fiction, look no further than our present planet at our present moment. What about, for instance, thattrillion-metric-ton iceberg- yes, “trillion” is not a misprint – that broke loose last week from the Antarctic Peninsula and just floated away. It was larger than the state of Delaware, capable offillingan estimated 462 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, its volumetwicethat of Lake Erie. If you want to think in movie terms, then consider this eerie event a trailer for the main feature on its way to screens globally. If significant parts of Antarcticadestabilizein the future, you can expect movie titles (givenrising sea levels) likeSo Long, Miami;Zai Jian Shanghai;Ta-ta London;Dag Amsterdam.