“that spark of the divine”

No Picture

REPRISE: “A time to break silence”: Dr. King on the Vietnam war, and President Carter on America’s human rights violations

Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King gave the first of two speeches that month setting forth why he was opposed to the war in Vietnam. These are discussed below, together…

Read More

No Picture

Public morality in the 21st century: From Republican bad faith on health care to Brazilian soccer club signing a goalie who killed his wife and watched his dogs eat her

As we sink into the moral abyss of the 21st century, we need to look not only at Donald Trump’s lies, nepotism, dismantlement of the administrative state, and crony capitalism, but also at other events in other places, in order to see how public morality is faring not only in the United States but also in the rest of the world.
In an age of lies, where the American president lies about everything all of the time, where there is no accountability for presidential or other governmental actions, where in short nihilism reigns supreme, we should not be too surprised at the following story. It is the story of a Brazilian soccer star who kidnapped his wife and child, killed his wife and then watched his dogs eat her, how he was later set free on a technicality after serving 7 of the 22 years to which he was sentenced, and how when released he was immediately signed by a soccoer club, one of nine vying for his services.

Now, closer to home, we might consider the public morality of the Republican House members’ health care plan. It would lead to 24 million more people having no insurance coverage in 10 years than would otherwise be the case, and 14 million next year. It would allow insurance companies to charge older subscribers up to five times more in premiums than younger subscribers, effectively doing away with the underlying concept of health insurance in which everyone and all risks are pooled together. Under this plan, if you’re 55-64, and sick, you pay more. A great deal more. So much more that you won’t be able to afford it, and your “choice” will be to not buy health insurance.

The cruelty in this proposal is self-evident. The larger fact is that it is being presented in bad faith, with no one believing that the actual end product will look anything like what is being proposed.

But at the end of the day, the basic immorality of giving rich taxpayers over $500 billion in tax savings, while pushing the poor and elderly out of the health care system, cannot be disguised.



No Picture

REPRISE: Veterans’ Day, 2011: “Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?”

Originally published November 11, 2011 My uncle died in a field in northern France with a German bullet in his head. To him, and all the other veterans of America’s wars, I am immensely grateful…


No Picture

Personal Takes: Russian war crimes in Syria, appeasement, and disgust

Developing PERSONAL TAKES Once in a while, The Observer reflects on his own personal involvement in world events. Today’s news triggered such a reflection. The news this morning is that the U.S. will resume negotiations…


No Picture

Beyond Trump and the November elections: Is a coherent U.S. foreign policy possible?

2016 is a good year to be observing what people in the United States are saying about foreign policy. There are new and dangerous currents in U.S. politics which may affect foreign policy. To try…




No Picture

The Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, and the torture trail leading to Abu Gharib

See ANDREW HIGGINS and MAÏA de la BAUME, “Two Brothers Suspected in Killings Were Known to French Intelligence Services,” New York Times, January 8, 2015. Higgins and de la Baume report on the background of…


No Picture

Torture is an issue which defines America as a nation

Draft We now have the published Executive Suumary of the Senate Select Committee on Inteligence Torture Report. In one of Senator Diane Feinstein’s finest acts of public service, of which there have been many, she…