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Timothy Villareal
Timothy Villareal
Timothy Villareal, a Miami-based writer, is a privately-vowed Christian monk. His website is http://timothyvillareal.wordpress.com.



Don’t Blame President Obama for Telling Lies About You

Jun3

by: on June 3rd, 2014 | 10 Comments »

Arriving today in Poland on his four day trip to Europe, President Obama declared to the Polish people and other NATO countries:

I’m starting the visit here because our commitment to Poland’s security as well as the security of our allies in central and eastern Europe is a cornerstone of our own security and it is sacrosanct…we stand united together and forever.

President Obama’s assurances that we, the American people, are the geopolitical equivalent of BFFs with European NATO countries came with his announcement of an increased U.S. troop presence in Eastern Europe, with a starting price tag of $1 billion from the U.S. treasury. This increase of a U.S. military presence in Eastern Europe, of course, is connected to the recent events in Ukraine. Protecting your friends from democracy-loathing tyrants like Putin is what geopolitical friends are for, right?

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Cindy McCain: Instead of Attacking American Artists, Enlist in the Army

May29

by: on May 29th, 2014 | 7 Comments »

Credit: Creative Commons

If you have not heard by now, actress Gwyneth Paltrow has been subjected to a Twitter attack by Cindy McCain, wife of Senator John McCain. Paltrow recently made a casual, off the cuff remark about being in the public eye, and dealing with vicious comments from internet commenters. Here’s what Paltrow said:

You come across (Internet comments) about yourself and about your friends, and it’s a very dehumanizing thing. It’s almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanizing thing, and then something is defined out of it. My hope is, as we get out of it, we’ll reach the next level of conscience.

Yep, that’s it: A stellar American film star, who made a not so stellar, yet totally innocent, comparison between her own emotional experiences and the horrors of war. Yet apparently Cindy McCain, who herself is not enlisted in the U.S. military, has a “zero tolerance policy” for American actresses who employ war analogies to describe their emotional lives, something that millions upon millions of people probably do everyday. Taking to Twitter, McCain wrote about Paltrow:

Gwyneth Paltrow is a joke. Her life is like taking bullets for a soldier. What a joke! My 2 sons serving in the military should talk to her.

Perhaps Gwyneth Paltrow should go out on patrol with some soldiers. Kind of like a Red Carpet in her mind I guess!


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Human Life is More Precious Than Rocks

May12

by: on May 12th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Last month, as the world began the remembrance of the twentieth anniversary Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people were hacked to death over a 100 day period, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon plead with the international community to send more peacekeepers to another African nation on the brink of genocide: the Central African Republic. Speaking recently in that country, where some 640,000 people have fled their homes for fear of being slaughtered, the Secretary General said, “The international community failed the people of Rwanda 20 years ago…And we are at risk of not doing enough for the people of the C.A.R. today.”

Subsequently, the U.N. Security Council authorized more U.N. peacekeepers to the C.A.R., who are due to arrive by September. None of those peacekeepers are slated to be Americans.

The absence of any Americans on the U.N. peacekeeping force for the C.A.R. might be a good “gut check” moment for the nation, especially when weighed against the militaristic message that President Obama is sending to another part of the world: the Asia Pacific.

For example, on his recent visit to Japan the President said of the China-Japan territorial dispute over uninhabited rocky islands in the East China Sea – a dispute which may result in a China-Japan military confrontation – “What is a consistent part of the alliance (U.S. – Japan alliance) is that the treaty covers all territories administered by Japan.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who expressed relief that America will militarily defend those rocky islands, said of Obama’s military reassurance, “On this point, I fully trust President Obama.” Needless to say, not expressing relief over Obama’s promise to take America to war over those uninhabited, rocky islands was the Chinese government. Indeed, as mentioned today in a New York Times editorial, this week’s water cannon spat between the Chinese and Vietnamese navies over the deployment of a Chinese oil rig in the South China Sea may be a direct geopolitical consequence of President Obama’s assertive – and official – military posture of collective defense, his own editorializing about America’s war-weariness notwithstanding. According to the New York Times editorial board:

Some experts say the Chinese deployed the rig because oil and gas reserves were recently found nearby. But the move could also be pushback against President Obama and his increased focus on Asia. On a recent trip to Asia, Mr. Obama said America would defend disputed islands in the East China Sea under its security treaty with Japan and reinforced a treaty commitment to the Philippines.

So here we have the President of the United States – again, publicly telegraphing to the American people that he “feels their pain” about stupid wars – simultaneously telling China and Japan, explicitly, that he is prepared to take the United States of America to war over those uninhabited, rocky islands that are disputed by China and Japan, and those two respective nations responding accordingly: Prime Minister Abe of Japan with relief, and the Chinese military with an upping of their ante in other disputed waters of the region.

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Time for a National Diaper Policy

May8

by: on May 8th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Credit: Creative Commons

MSN has posted an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about poor families struggling to provide diapers for their babies. It’s a heartbreaking article packed with crucial information, and ultimately one that begs an overarching question: Do we need a national clean diaper policy?

‪As mentioned in the article, there are about 100 operational, locally-based “diaper banks” around the nation. Yet the need for clean diapers is far greater than the currently available supply and distribution systems, causing some parents to look to local food banks for assistance. This section from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article sums up the problem:

 Although formula purchases can be federally subsidized, diapers are not covered by food stamps through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC.

As a result, some food pantries are inundated with requests for disposable diapers. But the pantries don’t get steady donations of them and don’t always have them on the shelves. When they do, they fly out of the door, said Marcia Mermelstein, coordinator of the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry in St. Louis.

“We’re giving people four to six diapers when in reality when most people buy a box of diapers, they’re getting 24 or 48. It’s like giving one tiny bar of soap a month. It’s not enough, it’s a token gesture,” Mermelstein said.

Families will take what they can get, she said.

“They’re taking diapers that are clearly too small and taping them together and using whatever they can.”

Although charitable agencies see the diaper need, they can’t make collecting and distributing diapers their first priority because it takes away energy and donations from their main services.

“Yes, we need diapers,” Mermelstein said. “But in the great scheme of things, we are a food pantry and the highest priority is to give food for survival.”


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America’s Fork in the Road: Endless War or Democratic Reform?

Apr16

by: on April 16th, 2014 | 13 Comments »

Today, NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, issued the following statement about NATO’s military response to increased Russian government manuevering in eastern Ukraine:

Today, we agreed on a package of further military measures to reinforce our collective defence and demonstrate the strength of Allied solidarity.

We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water, and more readiness on the land (read boots on the ground).

For example, air policing aircraft will fly more sorties over the Baltic region. Allied ships will deploy to the Baltic Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere, as required. Military staff from Allied nations will deploy to enhance our preparedness, training and exercises. Our defence plans will be reviewed and reinforced.

We will start to implement these measures straight away. More will follow, if needed, in the weeks and months to come.

The NATO Secretary General’s announcement will be music to the ears of those who have been calling for more U.S. troop deployments to eastern Europe in response to Putin’s provocations. Last month in the National Interest magazine, for example, Dick Kirckus, a former “Chair of Warfighting Strategy at the U.S. Marine Corps University” wrote:

Today, the most vulnerable members of NATO in the East Baltic Sea region share a common border with Russia and desperately want American boots on the groundnot combat engineers constructing an antimissile system in Poland to evaporate Iranian rocketsto deter a reckless Russian military provocation. The prospect that U.S. troops will die should Russian troops cross their borders will give meaning to Washington’s pledge to honor Article Five guarantees. After all, the Americans have demonstrated on numerous occasions that if challenged, they will fight.

Got that? No mere missiles and rockets will suffice to deter Putin, only people willing to sacrifice their lives in European military chess matches will be enough to deter Putin’s westward aggression. The glaring flaw in Kirckus’ thesis is that Americans of our generation have by no means demonstrated a willingness to fight and die in pointless wars. On 9/11 our nation was attacked by a ruthless criminal gang, which for a period of time found sanctuary under the ragtag rule of the Taliban. Eventually, most Americans, as evidenced by their refusal to enlist in the military, came to see the demise of the Taliban’s governance and going after the terrorists as the appropriate response to those horrific attacks on our own country; to shed our own blood in pointless wars, most Americans have concluded, is wrong.

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Regular Citizens Should Decide Who Gets to Be a Military Officer, Not Professional Warmongers

Apr14

by: on April 14th, 2014 | 7 Comments »

The U.S. needs a defense apparatus, not a taxpayer-funded culture of death. Credit: Creative Commons

The New York Times has published a chilling article about the greatest anxiety for this year’s West Point graduates: the newly-commissioned officers won’t get to see any combat action, owing to the end of the Iraq war and the winding-down Afghanistan war. Times reporters Tom Shanker and Helene Cooper write:

For as much as military commanders will publicly say differently, men and women with combat experience are bound to be taken more seriously in today’s military than those without it, defense experts say.

The last time this happened was after a different war, Vietnam, and in an Army different from today’s volunteer and more career-oriented force. But even after Vietnam, the return to peace came with unexpected anxieties.

“As Vietnam was winding down, young officers were begging to go there so they could get the coveted combat infantry badge,” said Col. Robert Killebrew, a defense expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington and a Vietnam veteran. “It’s not so much a thirst for glory as a professional impulse. When you’re a soldier, if the game is going to be played, you want to be there.”

That’s right, these young men actually want wars to continue – not to end wars which is what most people want – so they can get their ribbons, medals and badges of honor which will help them advance their military careers, which begs the question: Why the heck are we, the American people, continuing to enable these people who are quite obviously willing to embroil our country in wars for their own personal glory?

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An Alternative to the Neocon Response to Putin: Modernize and Democratize NATO, Send Love to Russian People

Mar26

by: on March 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Here’s my definition of a neoconservative: an impassioned intellectual who rightly recognizes that tyrannical regimes are actual biological entities – either in a state of growth or death – but who fails to grasp that dissolving tyranny cannot come by killing off the good cells of democracy, in particular the good cells that already exist in one’s own country. Truly, neoconservative ideology is a bit like chemotherapy: it aims to kill the cancer cells of tyranny as it simultaneously kills off the good cells of democracy and the democratic spirit.

2004 Image of Iraqi prisoner in U.S. Army-operated Abu Ghraib prison. Credit: Creative Commons.

According to the garden variety neocon, for example, we should be outraged that Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley Manning) exposed just how tyrannical the United States military is, as opposed to welcoming and celebrating those whistleblowing actions so that We the People have some clue as to what men with guns, using our nation’s name, are doing to the innocent men, women and children in countries our government has invaded.

In other words, the evil Saddam Hussein is gone from the world stage Great. And so are thousands of innocent people, and so is America’ standing and influence on the world stage, owing to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Not great. In fact, awful.

That’s the upshot of neocon geopolitical chemotherapy. It stinks for democracy and human development, and it would behoove all Americans to avoid seeking geopolitical treatment from neocons for the disease of tyranny, wherever it manifests anywhere in the world, including, and most urgently, in the person of Vladmir Putin.

As concerns the high stakes Ukraine crisis, given the potential for misstep here or there on either side of the NATO-Russia divide – a misstep that could embroil the world in World War III in the blink of an eye – it might also behoove us to ask this question: Are all of us, as Americans by default, not a little bit neocon, or at least neocon-ish, or at minimum, neocon-esque?

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Moving Ahead on Mideast Peace with Land Purchases for Israel and Palestine

Mar19

by: on March 19th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

In one of his “Early Addresses” titled “Judaism and Mankind,” Martin Buber said:

Every man whose soul attains unity, who decides, within his own self, for the pure and against the impure, for the free and against the unfree, for the creative and against the uncreative, every man who drives the moneylenders out of his temple, participates in the great process of Judaism.

Though I’m Catholic, these words resonate with me and, like much of Martin Buber’s accessible discourse, serves as a reminder of the sheer idiocy of any form of supersessionism: the belief that Christian faith yields a holier heart and mind than what is contained in Judaism. Indeed, Martin Buber delivered those words over a hundred years ago, between 1909 and 1911; just this week, a glaring headline in the National Catholic Reporter read “Vatican office calls religious sisters, priests to live poorly, reject capitalism.”

Perhaps many of the holy rollers of my church, the Roman Catholic Church – the very ones whose high on the hog living is now the subject of Pope Francis’s reforms – would have done well to read some Martin Buber before making bank off the name of a poor first-century Jew who was killed at 33-years-old by Pontius Pilate. But isn’t a slow learning curve better than none at all?

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Fear Not Pentagon Head Games About Love For Your Country

Mar3

by: on March 3rd, 2014 | 4 Comments »

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey. Credit: Creative Commons

As Russia invades Crimea and once again throws international norms into the garbage disposal as it has done with its backing of Bashar al-Assad, a crash course in the origins of this early 21st century Russian aggression is offered by Uri Friedman of The Atlantic. The article is worth consulting if you want to understand how the foreign policy chest-thumpers in the U.S. – now predictably thumping anew in the Ukraine crisis – helped pave the way for the geopolitical conditions that have so emboldened Putin. Friedman cites a report from Russia specialist Nicu Popescu who attributes Russia’s assertiveness to four key factors, including “The retreat of the West from the world stage after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which creates an opening for Russia.”

Knowing that America overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan, and knowing that our body politic – including the formerly jingoistic freedom fry types – is swinging our foreign policy pendulum in the opposite direction, the gay-bashing blonde thug of Moscow has smelled conquest and control opportunities galore. To boot, Putin has to know that a nation that would sacrifice nearly 5,000 soldiers and hundreds of billions of dollars from its treasury to transform what was an effective no-fly zone over Saddam Hussein’s Iraq into an air bridge of weaponry from Iran to Assad’s Syria not only has A) no clue whatsoever about its own geopolitical interests, but B) has no clue because it has ceded most of its entire military to people who are motivated by their own pecuniary interests, not national ones, from the top of the ranks to newest 18 and 19-year-old for-pay soldiers.

Will anything change? Will the American people wake up and smell the coffee of the war profiteers, high and low, who are devouring the U.S. treasury and serving as de facto bricklayers for Vladimir Putin’s yellow brick road to multi-theater dominance, from Crimea to Syria?

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On This Day, Remembering a Gift From God, As Our Brothers and Sisters Eat Grass

Feb10

by: on February 10th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Two years ago, on February 11th 2012, Whitney Houston passed into Eternity. Two years after her passing, and a sorrow that never seems to quite quit, I can candidly say the gratitude I feel for this human being, and totally human she was, is finally outshadowing my awareness of her loss. That statement doesn’t come easy.

Perhaps some of us do not know what to make of a country that remains entrenched in the glorification of militarism and soldiery, as ours so clearly is, even in a time when reports of the men, women and children starving to death in Syria – eating grass and stray cats to stay alive – have been documented in the major news outlets. Perhaps some of our brethren think they’re too sophisticated, too streetwise, too savvy – too something – to “fall” for such reports of the starving, dying people of Syria. Perhaps some think nothing we do will amount to a hill of beans anyway.

Tikkun magazine and Tikkun Daily are different from the secular media. Here, in this space, we are freely allowed to profess our faith in the Almighty Creator. We are allowed to express our sorrow, and plead to God to intervene in these human crises that shake our hearts and rattle our consciences.

I am shocked by the way this country has turned its back on the innocent, the gassed, the tortured, the butchered, and the starving civilians of Syria. But I am ever grateful to God for giving us a divine voice, delivered by a beautiful and heart-filled/heartbroken lady who died two years ago today, to help carry us through this time, when we know some of our fellow human beings, at this moment, are eating grass to stay alive. Whitney’s voice increases my faith and gives me strength in the midst of this unfolding crime against humanity, and I hope her voice will increase yours as well, whatever your religion. Whatever your politics, I hope her voice will encourage you to turn back from despair.

Here is a clip of Whitney signing “This Day” in Spain in 1991. Lord, we need your love…this day.