Peace Message From Damascus.

By Jerry Alatalo

P1000889-1Alphabet United States representative to Congress Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii traveled to Syria recently along with former member of Congress (and candidate for President) Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. The current and former U.S. politicians went on a fact-finding four-day mission, visiting and discussing the tragic situation there with Syrians from all walks of life – including a personal meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The four young Syrian women Ms. Gabbard met in Damascus recorded in the video below were in the 12-14 year age range when the tragic violence, killing and destruction of their home nation began nearly (6) six years ago. Given the seemingly inestimable, endless levels of reconstruction which is going to become necessary once peace finally returns to the country, it is somewhat remarkable – a supreme irony, certainly – that two of the young women are studying architecture while another studies civil engineering.

One becomes hesitant to comment further for fear of detracting to any extent from the powerful message delivered by four kind and pleasant young Syrian women to the American people. Their heart-felt unanimous message clearly comes through loud and clear, leaving nothing else necessary to say…

“Peace”.

(Thank you to Vanessa Beeley at YouTube)

Fidel Castro (1926-2016): The 1994 Speech.

By Jerry Alatalo

castro-2Alphabet Legendary socialist leader and revolutionary Fidel Castro passed away in Cuba at the age of 90. Public opinion of Castro during his lifetime was highly-charged, passionate and ran the gamut from love, respect and adoration to hostility, enmity and loathing. Some praised his revolutionary actions as noble, egalitarian and just, giving credit for improving the Cuban people’s education, health and fundamental welfare. Others criticized his efforts, in particular economically, as leading to poor (re: money, material things) living conditions for the people of Cuba. Whether people held favorable or unfavorable views on Fidel Castro, there is no denying reality. In his 90 year lifetime he became one of the most well-known, influential human beings on Earth.

Castro’s Earthly journey paralleled in many ways that walked by South African leader and fellow revolutionary Nelson Mandela. Both engaged in political struggle against repressive, corrupt, violent governments; both became sentenced to prison as a result of those struggles (Castro for a considerably shorter duration), and both eventually became the leaders of their countries. Remarkably, both men also lived for nine decades despite the risks of assassination brought on through taking on the most powerful individuals and groups in the world.

One can envisage that on “the other side” Fidel Castro first saw and became greeted by, among others, Nelson Mandela. One can only imagine what the eternal souls of those men are communicating to each other telepathically after their meeting in the hereafter. In such an instance one can only imagine being a fortunate “fly on the wall” of heaven listening in on certainly a fantastic discussion.

With Fidel Castro’s passing, perhaps the chances of actions by the United States Congress to end the decades-long blockade of Cuba will increase, negotiations based on mutual respect can occur, and equitable beneficial terms agreed upon by both Cuban and American representatives results in normalized relations between the two geographically close, neighboring countries.

Much has been spoken and written about Castro, U.S.-Cuba relations, and the influence Castro projected in Latin America and around the world. With his passing, the talk and writings will intensify in all regions and nations – and likely be less passionate, more nostalgic, and of historical nature. In such an atmosphere, where an internationally recognized political leader with Castro’s larger-than-life stature passes away, discussions about his life and what it meant, the future of Cuba and its people, and the global ideological struggle between capitalism and socialism will become more philosophical, sober, pragmatic and academically inclined.

Time will tell if Fidel Castro’s passing will spark and ignite an intellectual and spiritual fire focused on designing improved economic models which create some form of positive balance between capitalism and socialism, new ideas on public and private division of responsibility for governments and societies, and which if successful ends the black-or-white, polarizing and dangerous historical pattern or trajectory on Earth.

As noted, much has already been spoken and written about the iconic Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Much more of the same will occur during this time surrounding his passing and far into the future. Most would agree – those who don’t share Fidel Castro’s political ideology/worldview, those who do, and everyone in between – the man without apology spoke his truth. Perhaps it’s best to listen to the man himself.

(Thank you to Joe Friendly at YouTube)

Let The Great 2016 Presidential Debates Begin.

By Jerry Alatalo

“It was government by discussion that broke the bond of ages and set free the originality of man.”

– WALTER BAGEHOT (1826-1877) English economist

Book5Alphabet The 2016 process for electing the next President and Vice President of the United States has come down to – using a college basketball term – the “Final Four”. For sports enthusiasts, the annual competition among U.S. collegiate basketball teams called “March Madness” – where an initial field of 64 teams battles it out on the hardwood until those still standing dwindle down to the “Sweet Sixteen”, then “Elite Eight”, “Final Four”, and the eventual national champions – is a much-anticipated yearly ritual. For the purpose of this writing, it is important to remember that sports champions become determined through direct competition on the field.

There is no difference between candidates for office and athletes, in the sense of logic that asserts politics and sports are fundamentally identical with regard to “deciding it on the field”. Because, thus far, Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson (the “other two” making the “Final Four”) have not secured a place in debates with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the “on the field” concept has become ignored or trampled under foot.

That current situational reality of election 2016 is equivalent to telling two NCAA basketball teams who’ve fought through the competition to the final four that they must now… “Forget about showing up – you’re out of the game, so just stay home.” Most people upon hearing such a development would consider it simply in direct contradiction to everything taken for granted about being an American. In the same way of thinking, exclusion of Dr. Stein and Mr. Johnson from debates with Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump is un-American and wrong.

Now, what is going through the minds of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump when neither of them are welcoming of a series, perhaps four or more, of 4-way debates (ideally, very lengthy ones) for the benefit of American voters? Such a series of debates could easily be arranged, but the obvious stumbling block is the awkward absence of agreement between the four remaining candidates. Dr. Stein and Mr. Johnson agree for equally obvious reasons, chiefly: to get their messages to voters via national media and maximize their respective campaigns’ chances for success.

For Clinton and Trump, their silence or opposition to 4-way debates is also about maximizing their chances for success, but upon consideration one comes to see their stance as failing to recognize the distinction between political and business/market-driven competition. Men and women who run for political office do so, ideally, for reasons associated with the concept of public service – to citizens in their cities, counties, states, regions or nation. Those men and women loyal to the public service nature of political participation and leadership have no fear of allowing people to express the full spectrum of ideas focused on improving constituents’ health and well-being. In fact, they encourage and welcome any practical ideas offering real potential for realized improvement in societal conditions.

It could be argued that encouragement and welcome inclusion of ideas which are new, different and/or opposed to those predominating at any given time in political arenas small to great is an especially important consideration at the highest level, the presidency, where conditions in the lives of billions around the Earth are in the balance. How can Americans accept or tolerate a political system where more time for actual head-to-head debate gets devoted to, as an example, races for State Representative or Senator – than the time allotted for presidential debates?

If candidates for a particular local or state office spend, say, an average of three hours in head-to-head debates, wouldn’t the logical extension at the presidential level lead one to imagine grand totals/averages for presidential candidates in the range of thirty (30) to forty (40) hours, particularly in the remaining 90 days before election day? Now is not the time to stifle debate but to let it expand to maximum levels, all the while knowing the American people are wise enough to make good decisions on both ideas and the candidates who propose them.

The question for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump with regard to 4-way, lengthy, prime-time televised debates is this: “What exactly are your reasons for opposing debates with Dr. Stein and Mr. Johnson, when any imagined result leads to record-level viewership by the American people?” Moreover, can any reasonable observer but conclude that 4-way presidential debates will profoundly increase citizens’ interest, enthusiasm, discussion, study, critical thinking skills, and participation in the democratic process? The consequences are nothing but positive – absolutely positive.

So, the Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein presented her proposals, ideas and reasoning during her acceptance speech in Houston, Texas over the weekend. Let Ms. Clinton, Mr. Johnson, Dr. Stein and Mr. Trump agree on:

  1. the benefits of election debates and affirming the immensely positive educative nature of intellectual effort for political “competition”, alternatively known as public service
  2. serious debates’ potential for raising the level of democratic thought, speech and action by Americans, and people of the world, to record heights
  3. the moral imperative for forthrightly engaging – like the great philosophers of ancient Greece, the birthplace of democracy – in the honorable, broad-spectrum exchange of cross-sector ideas devoted to betterment of humanity
  4. And… the rightness of rapidly arranging then carrying out the “Great 2016 Presidential Debates”

Do the right thing, America. Settle matters “on the field”. Let the debates begin…

“To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true!”

– H.L. MENCKEN (1880-1956) American editor

(Thank you to TYT Politics at YouTube)