Friday, July 17, 2015

Criticizing Israel doesn't make me anti-Semitic

I usually stay far away from the issue of Israel and Palestine because I am an active member of the Jewish Community and I love my fellow Jews. But as a Buddhist, I love all beings and wish no harm to any, even those that wish harm to me. As a mother of 2 sons, I am well aware how children always blame the other for starting. As a divorcee, I realize how painful it is in the middle of separating from someone with whom you have shared a home for a long time. I also know that it is dysfunctional to retain hates, bitterness, blame, and thoughts of vengeance, and much better for my heart and whole being to forgive and love.

I never say forgive and forget. NO! Forgive and remember! By remembering, we learn and hopefully grow in wisdom and compassion.

The world is shrinking rapidly, and a bunch of myopic international corporations are making obscene profits on promoting fear, hatred, discord, and war. My position is that both sides have their issues. Both sides are full of hate. Both sides are tired of fighting. And both sides are violating international human rights. This is basically a racist war. It is racist for Netanyahu to believe that every Israeli life is worth 500 Palestinian lives. It is a genocide, much like what the USA did with the Indians, and what Australia did with their aborigines. Much like what the Cro Magnin did with the Neanderthals. The way I see it, the Jews of Israel were an oppressed ethnic group, having now been freed of oppression, decided to turn the tables and oppress another ethnic group as they were once oppressed. Yes, it is true that we Jews were slaves in the Third Reich, and the Israelis haven't enslaved the Palestinians yet.

If I love being a Jew, and I criticize the fascist genocide of the Palestinian people by the Netanyahu government, that does not make me anti-Semitic.

I was just discussing the other day how racism all over the world affects dark-skinned people. In Israel, the Yemeni dialect of Hebrew has become the gold standard in common language, even all over the world. The Yemeni rabbinic scholars are touted as the wisest and most profound. Yet, the Yemeni people are discriminated against in Israel because they have dark skin. That is similar to White culture co-opting Jazz, Hip-Hop, Blues, and standards of beauty that include thick lips, and round nostrils in men, yet discriminate against Black people.

I don't love being White. I see it as a quirk of fate. I don't love the White Privilege I receive resulting from that quirk of fate, although I find it ridiculously funny. But if I criticize my racist, sexist, classist, perpetually warring culture, that doesn't mean that I am anti-American.

PS. I am not one to criticize anyway.  I may point out the ironic facts of injustice, but I am one to make a plan to change it rather than waste my time criticizing. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

My response to Senator Feinstein's letter about Fast Track

My answer to Senator Feinstein when she explained that she crossed the aisle and voted with the Republicans to approve Fast Track Authority for the President to negotiate the TPP.

Dear Senator Feinstein,

In response to your letter explaining why you voted for fast track authority, I agree that trade is crucial for the economy and has been since the founding of this nation. Our Founding Fathers also understood the value of tariffs which fund the government and protect fledgling industries. They also understood the importance of sovereignty and the negative effects of powerful corporations, i.e. the British East India Company. They were so enraged about the special privileges that giant corporations received compared to local businesses that they threw all the East India tea into the sea. Perhaps you have forgotten the anti-corporate history which founded this nation.

Previous trade pacts have not only ruined the American economy, but have also bankrupted the government by eliminating import tariffs. Previous trade pacts have moved good jobs offshore and turned the USA into a banana republic.

You stress the importance of trade for California's economy, yet conflate that with why the President should have fast track authority to negotiate secret international trade treaties that are kept from the eyes of the sovereign people who rule in a Democracy. Either we are no longer a democracy, or you and the President are hiding something very foul in the TransPacific Partnership (TPP).

You mention how trade deals in the past have "negatively affected certain areas of our work force." Those certain areas include good union jobs. By eliminating good union jobs, the standard of living in the USA has plummeted. You say that because so many jobs were lost due to previous trade agreements, you support the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). There is no point in retraining people for jobs that do not exist. I have personally seen several of my friends lose their good jobs and been retrained for jobs that don't exist. Your preference to mitigate the expected damage from the TPP with TAA retraining programs is a betrayal of your constituents.

Lastly, you mention how the TPP is key to our national security and foreign policy objectives. If by foreign policy objectives you are referring to overthrowing democratically elected sovereign rulers who block our corporate exploitation of their natural resources as our CIA has done time and again since 1953, and the further expansion of our imperialist incursions into sovereign nations around the world, then you have obviously drank the kool aide and owe more allegiance to your corporate donors than to your human constituents.

Please tell me how allowing corporate interests to override local environmental laws improves our national security? The way I see it, the USA is far more secure with healthy local industry and manufacturing jobs and locally grown food than by sending our military onto foreign soil or by extrajudicial assassinations by drone. I believe your priorities have been subverted and you no longer represent the best interests of the people of California.

Your disappointed constituent

• Here is the letter from Senator Dianne Feinstein in response to when I complained about her approval of fast track authority for the President. 

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).  I appreciate the time you took to write, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

First, please know that as a U.S. Senator, I carefully review each free-trade agreement that comes before me to ensure that the best interests of American workers and businesses are served, and that the agreement will not adversely affect the U.S. economy, human rights, labor rights or environmental standards.

As you are aware, I voted in favor of TPA—otherwise known as fast-track authority—because it grants the President the ability to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I believe that increasing free trade with our neighbors in the Pacific Rim is squarely in our economic and national security interests. 

The process of considering trade legislation has enabled me to see the extraordinary importance of trade to California's economy, and I wanted to share some of this information with you.

Today, trade supports more than 4.7 million jobs in California, and nearly 40 million nationwide. More than 75,000 California businesses export goods out of the state, and 95 percent of those are small- or medium-sized, meaning they have fewer than 500 employees. Since 2009, jobs related to merchandise trade have increased by 11 percent in California, and research has shown that firms that export pay their employees 15 percent more than those that do not.

Three of California's major sectors benefit substantially from trade:

  • The services sector—both high-skilled professional services as well as lower-skilled services such as accommodation, food and administration—have helped lead California's economic recovery since the 2008 recession. Services exports have been a key contributor to that sector. For instance, in 2013, California exported $114 billion in services, a 58 percent growth over 2006. This has translated to job growth: last year, 66 percent of all new jobs in California were in the services sector. By reducing barriers to services exports, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is expected to boost this critical sector of our growing economy.  

  • In 2014, California exported $174.1 billion in total merchandise goods and over the past 10 years, exports from California to existing free-trade partners grew by 50 percent. If past trade deals are any indication of the future, then our merchandise industry will continue to grow under TPP. Today, California's exports of computer and electronic products face tariffs as high as 35 percent, while transportation equipment and machinery face tariffs as high as 70 percent, both of which will be reduced under TPP. 

  • California agriculture also relies on exports. In 2013, agricultural exports were valued at $21.2 billion, making our agriculture industry the largest by value in the United States. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, under TPP nationwide agriculture exports are expected to increase by 5.4 percent by 2025. As with our merchandise exports, our agriculture products currently face steep tariffs in the Asia-Pacific region. Dairy products face a tariff of up to 35 percent in Japan while walnuts face a 30 percent tariff in Vietnam. With these tariffs reduced or eliminated, the TPP will help California's farmers, ranchers and producers. 

The bottom line is that trade has been critical for California's economic growth, and it will be vital to sustaining that growth.  

As you know, past trade deals have negatively affected certain areas of our workforce. This is why in addition to supporting TPA, I also strongly support Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). TAA provides workers displaced by trade with job retraining and other assistance. I look forward to TAA becoming law as soon as possible, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to push for funds for the program each year. 

Lastly, it is important to note that beyond economic considerations, the proposed TPP is key for our national security and foreign policy objectives. TPP will require our trade partners to raise their standards with respect to human rights and workers' rights. Further, it will require countries like Vietnam and Malaysia to improve their laws and enforcement against human trafficking and wildlife trafficking, which I believe are absolutely critical. 

Additionally, TPP will help the United States re-balance our global priorities to take into account the increasing role of the Asia-Pacific region. Pursuing free and fair trade with our allies in the region is a key part of that re-balance. By creating a free trade zone, we will be ensuring its member countries play by internationally-recognized rules that we will help establish. Rejecting this trade deal would cede influence to countries that do not share our commitment to worker rights, human rights and environmental stewardship. 

As the information above demonstrates, trade is economically vital for California and the nation, which is why I will continue to support Trade Promotion Authority.

Sincerely yours,

  Dianne Feinstein
         United States Senator