Fit to Print

The other day, a politically-minded e-mail correspondent forwarded me an article about ultra-orhodox Jews in Jerusalem trashing busses which held advertisements supporting the right of women to pray at the Wailing Wall. When I stated my people still seemed to have a better-behaved class of religious lunatics than those in it simmediate surround, he suggested my reply lacked ample sense of the gravity of the situation.

The following morning the SF Chronicle devoted the upper third of its third page to the same story. Upon close reading I noted that 50 men were involved (in a city with a population of 800,000)and that no one seemed to have been injured, let alone killed. This led me to wonder why the Chron had featured this story (and, indeed, why my correspondent had felt it worth forwarding). My curiosity was further picqued when I noted that the Chron had given onloy one paragraph to a bombing that had wounded 10 at Cairo University (and another paragraph to the issuance of a report that poverty in the US now placed more children at the risk of death than at any time in the past 20 years)and that it had overlooked, as reported in the dsame day’s NY Times, the killing, also in Jerusalem, of an 8-month old by a reputed Hamas leader or, most relevantly, the Iranian government’s passage of laws to protect individuals who take it upon themselves to enforce societal “norms” at a time when as many as nine women had recently been blinded or disfigured by acid attacks.

Maybe the Chron’s editorial choice of dog-bites-man. In certain societies aberrational behavior is taken for granted and in others it is not. Maybe it’s a matter of seeking “balanced” coverage of the lunacy-riven mid-east by reporting the most unseemly behavior it can find country-by-country. But I wonder if it may not be something more insidious. The sub-text of this article may be “These Jews are just as crazy — and potentially clerically fascistic as anyone.” And this, of course, gives rise to the question, Why should we have anything more to do with them and their troublesome country. Thus some trivial acts of vandalism become red meat at which those already so-inclined will snap.

Public Service Announcement

The NRA and the U.S. Ebola response.
Sign the petition to the U.S. Senate:
“You must stand up to the NRA and confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general. With dangerous misinformation about the Ebola virus running rampant, we need a level-headed surgeon general who can authoritatively and calmly lead the federal government’s public response.”

Add your name:

Dear Nicholas,

With Fox News spewing blatant1 misinformation2 with a shameful “racial component”3 to whip Americans into a frenzy about the Ebola virus, it would be useful to have a high-ranking public health official who could calmly and authoritatively communicate what the public needs to know.

And that’s exactly what the surgeon general of the United States is supposed to do.4

But because a handful of Senate Democrats caved to the NRA and opposed President Obama’s nominee over his acknowledgement that gun violence is a public health problem, we haven’t had a permanent surgeon general in place since July of last year.5

Tell the Senate: Stand up to the NRA and confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general now. Click here to sign the petition.

Recent polling indicates that the media’s Ebola fear-mongering is working. A Harvard School of Public Health poll found that nearly 40% of Americans think there will be a large scale Ebola outbreak in the United States, and that more than 25% are afraid that they or someone in their immediate family will contract the virus sometime in the next year.6

Meanwhile, the real risks are being ignored. Medical personnel who initially encountered the first Ebola patient who surfaced in the U.S. ignored safety protocols, potentially exposing hundreds of people to the disease. Despite having traveled recently from Liberia and exhibiting clear symptoms of the disease, he was sent home with antibiotics. Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called this incident a “teachable moment.” And the federal official that should be leading the charge to educate the American people and medical establishment to keep us all safe is NRA-blocked surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy.

While the President has caved to the demands of fear-mongering Republicans by appointing an “Ebola Czar,” we still need a medical professional in place as surgeon general who can authoritatively communicate what the public needs to know.

Given the corporate media’s failure to responsibly educate the American people about the real risks associated with the Ebola virus – and the fact that panicking will only make the situation worse – it is more important than ever that we have a level-headed surgeon general in place who can calmly communicate with the American people.

Sign the petition: Tell the Senate to confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general. Click here to sign the petition.

Dr. Vivek Murthy is exceptionally well qualified to serve as surgeon general. He currently serves as president of Doctors for America, works as an internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and teaches at Harvard Medical School. In the past, he started a software technology company that makes clinical trials more efficient and co-founded a non-profit focused on HIV prevention and AIDS education in India and the United States.

That’s why more than 120,000 CREDO activists signed a petition last year urging the Senate to confirm Dr. Murthy as surgeon general, and nearly 1,000 made calls to key Senators with the same demand.

With public health capturing Americans’ attention due to the spread of the Ebola virus, now is the perfect time to pressure the Senate to stand up to the NRA and confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general.

Tell the Senate: Fight the NRA and Ebola at the same time by confirming Dr. Murthy as surgeon general. Click here to sign the petition.

Thanks for standing up to the NRA.

Josh Nelson, Campaign Manager

Recommended Reading

My pal Richard Weber has a new book out. I told him that since I fear Amazon more than the NSA I wouldn’t expose my friends’ e-mail addresses to its evil web, but I would blog a plug for his book to my quarter-dozens of readers here. So listen up to a few words from Richard.

Ola! Salut! Greetings!

Here’s the amazon url to my latest novel – IN FLAMES:

From Random House Alibi.

You can now pre-order for yourselves & gift pre-order for as many people as you wish – 100’s & 100’s, I trust. You only have to supply e-mail addresses, and on Feb 3, 2015, each will receive a notice from amazon with a code allowing them to download IN FLAMES (as your gift) to whatever device they have, including computers, (where needed, also a free amazon app enabling this).

And all this for the new low, low, specially discounted price of $4.34 per gift – including for yourselves – if you pre-order now! Shipping free to anywhere in the world! Forget giftwrapping, it’s electronic magic! Such a deal.

Also, pre-ordering now helps me considerably, so muchas gracias, mille fois merci à tous.

Go well.


Final (Maybe) Words

Dear Exasperated Readers,
We may finally be done with conspiracy talk. My leading correspondent on this issue expressed willingness to continue the discussion only with the proviso that, as regards JFK, I “agree there is no question but that there was a conspiracy.” I declined and said it might be best if we moved on.

He agreed it would be best to move on and then did not move on but delivered his opinion that the reason people (such as myself) did not see the truth was because they were “confused by the mass media” and found this “truth… too disturbing to (their) identities.”

I agreed that people held to their beliefs because their sense of self were often dependant upon them. Lord knows, I said, our discussions have, if nothing else, demonstrated that.

Baby, What I Say

My friend Robert, an artist and art critic, recently contributed to the on-line Berkeley Historical Plaque Project a salute to an anonymous artist whose medium was the tar used to repair cracks on the Nimitz Trail Robert compared his (or her) “expressionistic grace” to that of a caligrapher and caled attention to the “exploding strokes, errant gestures and… hints of figure.” When I complimented Robert on his droll skewering or art critics and their prose, as well as his ability to write with his tongue implanted so firmly in his cheek, he replied that he might have been droll, but that his praise was sincere.

Oops! After wiping the egg from my face, I noted that Duchamp’s Theorem: “Art is what an artist says it is, now had Kehlmann’s Corollary: “Art criticism is what an art critice says it is” as well.

Corresponding With the Comspiratorially Doctrinaire

But the qustion I have for you, Bob, he said, is if JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm were all victims of national security state conspiracies, would you want to know?

Sure. 9-11 too, I said. If they weren’t would you?

It has been more than 24 hours. I assume he is still thinkiing it over.

How History is Made (ii)

Monday, about 1:00 pm, awaiting a doctor’s appointment, I picked up a two-hour old e-mail from a friend who said two Israeli newspapers were reporting an explosion in an Iranian nuclear facility, but no one else was. I checked on line and, by now, USA Today and The Daily Mail had the story but no one else.

When I got home, I checked Fox and CNN, but the former was featuring Joe Biden’s apology and the latter was focused on Ferguson, MO. The Washington Post now had something on line, but it seemed more like a blog than news. At 4 pm, my mideast-focused brother-in-law called from Massachusetts. He had already watched the evening news and the story was new to him.

Tuesday, the NY Times had the story on p. 8. It took the Iranians word for it that it had been an ordinary explosion of munitions. An earlier report had said windows had been shattered nine miles around but the Times said this had occurred in only two villages. The Times said it had happened the day before; my friend had said Yom Kippur; and another report had it Sept. 27.
The following morning the SF Chronicle had nothing — but it did report on a bear cub that had been killed in New York.

Things were quiet for a couple days. Some reports were even “removed.” But today they have picked up and now six buildings have been reported damaged or destroyed.

But I’ve been thinking that, once the reports appeared, they became “facts.” Once they did not appear everywhere, they became suppressed. Once they were removed a cover-up became more apparent.

Now I await hearing what has been proved. Israel did it. America did it. Only a rogue element in America (or Israel) did it in order to establiszh the Iranian nuclear program to justify a further bombing. The Iranians did it so they could blame Israel or America and justify or encourage attacks on them.

I mentioned all this to my most conspiracy-inclined friends. They have ignored me.

Which means i must be onto something.

Advanced Political Theory

There is a name for what you do, the Doctor of English and American Literature said. Autocritography, in which the critic accepts that his analysis depends upon his individual and social conditions.

And did not Heissenberg postulate that what one observes is effected by the act of one’s observing?

There Goes Another Relationship

I asked the senior political analyst (e-mail division) if there had been a war within the past century of which he approved.
He replied, Have you ever served in a military?
Though I was quite sure he knew the answer, I replied. No.
He replied, Quite.
I replied, How long would I have needed to have served in a miltary to have received and answe to my question?
He did not reply.
I replied, How long have the authors of the articles which you forward to me served in the military?
He did not reply again.
You know how I can be.

The Author Writes a Story By Lydia Davis

It is a simple and obvious thing, she said, that I refused to recognize. In fact, it is so simple and obvious that a 12-year-old could recognize it. In fact, she named the 12-year-old, who happened to be her daughter by her third husband. The Emperor’s New Clothes, she said, about this recognition by this daughter of this simple and obvious truth, requiring only one explanation by her to her daughter, and not recognized by me, despite her many explanations.
In fact, it is so simple and obvious that she will not discuss this with me further. To discuss this further would imply that it is not simple and obvious and any support this implication would offer such thinking would to make one into a tool of the perpetrators of the deed which her discovered simple and obvious truth has revealed.