Ernest Cassara

Our Endangered Values

Before our recent trip to Germany, I debated what little gift to bring my old student, who picked us up at the airport at Frankfurt and drove us to his home in Idstein, in the beautiful Taunus region.  I settled on Jimmy Carter's Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis.

I hesitated, at first, for Carter spends a fair number of pages discussing his Christian faith, before he gets to the nub of the book, how the present course of the U.S., under the Bush administration, is betraying the idealism which we have always associated with being  Americans.  But, when he asks, "What is a Superpower," he answers, that, aside from military might, the attributes of a superpower may very well "mirror those of a person.  These would include a demonstrable commitment to truth, justice, peace, freedom, humility, human rights, generosity, and the upholding of other moral values."

He, then, spells out in detail how these qualities would work in our present world.  A book worth getting hold of.

Israeli and Palestinian Leaders Meet

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas finally got together.  First time in more than a year that leaders of the two peoples have met.

Predictably, the Israeli leader found an excuse - Hamas - to state that it is unlikely that negotiations are possible, although he hopes to meet Abbas again.  As I have written before, from Arafat on, the Israelis always find an excuse why they do not have a partner for negotiations.

Olmert has said that Israel is prepared to make some painful choices, apparently referring to the necessity of evacuating Israeli colonies - usually referred to by the nicer term "settlements" - on land in the West Bank stolen from the Palestinians.

Olmert expressed regret about the killing of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces in recent days - thirteen at this writing.  As you know, aside from the family that was killed while having a picnic on a beach, the Israelis have the bad habit of shooting rockets into Gaza streets, attempting to assassinate Palestinian "militants," as they are referred to.  Inevitably, bystanders end up in hospitals and morgues.

These are excerpts from a heart wrenching Los Angeles Times report of June 22:

Yesterday's attack occurred as mourners joined a noisy funeral procession near Gaza City for three Palestinian children, ages 16, 7, and 5, who died Tuesday night after Israel fired missiles at a car carrying members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
"This is really a crime," said Jamal Roka, whose 5-year-old son, Mohammed, was among the dead. "What is the fault of my son? Does he carry Kassam rockets? He was playing in front of my house."
The fatal missile strikes, occurring a week after an Israeli air attack killed 11 people, including nine civilians, drew condemnation from human rights activists. Amnesty International issued a statement calling for a United Nations probe.

But, Olmert said the Israelis intend to keep up their policy of assassinations.

That is a splendid way to persuade Hamas to look kindly on Israel!

Pay Raises, but Only for the Rich

As usual, the members of the Congress are enjoying an automatic pay raise.  To avoid embarrassment, a few years back, they arranged to make the raises automatic.  This avoids debate that might expose their greed.

Of course, they, also, have arranged huge tax cuts for the already rich.  The Republicans, however, have not quite got the votes to do away with the estate tax, which, with their usual verbal tricks, they have labeled the "death tax."

No more money for the working person, however.  Republicans refuse to raise the minimum wage, which is stuck at $5.15 per hour.  Let's see, according to my handy calculator, that's $206.00 for a forty hour week. We should shower our Congresspersons with the question as to whether they could live on $5.15 an hour.

Diplomacy, Bush-American Style

I'm sure that I am not the only one who has noticed that when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, speak these days it is usually to threaten someone.  North Korea.  Iran.  You name it.

Well, since the U.S. welcomed the coup that temporarily deposed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is it merely paranoia that led him to buy thousands of rifles from Russia? He, also, said that the CIA is infiltrating his country.

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