Syria: The Left has lost its way(The right never knew the way)

Marketing. Modern activism has become the victim of the same obtuse and hysterical marketing that has plagued the rest of our culture, particularly our friends on the right. The looming debacle over the Syrian civil war is a sublime case in point. I am stunned by a loss of idealism and integrity by many on the left. Not for their opposition to the possibility of war or a limited attack against Syria’s Assad regime, advertised as an effort to degrade his ability to launch Chemical attacks on his own civilians, but by the chicken crap reasons the Left eschews action in Syria.

From Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fl.) to Ed Schultz there is this refrain about angering Assad, or the fear that he might hit us back. Not sure that many police officers have the luxury of refusing to answer calls because a perp might lash out. If you get into a fight, you are in the fight to win, even if winning is letting some would-be bully, like Assad, that every time he gets out of line, or crosses a line, he knows that someone bigger and meaner will give him a bust in the chops. If that bigger and meaner guy is acting to protect someone smaller and weaker, what could be a nobler cause? If you know someone is beating his children and you do nothing, and cop the attitude that it is their fight, and why should I get involved, well, that says more about you than about the abuser.

And that may be the most dangerous revelation of all of this, that we are not afraid of principles, only to stand for them. We are afraid of the fight, the just and righteous fight. That betrays to the world a dreadful lack of resolve, courage and confidence.

The left is also pushing a panic narrative describing how there is controversy over who fired the latest chemical weapon that killed scores of Syrian civilians. There is no serious debate that Assad was responsible. First and foremost, the Assad regime has not denied using them. Citing the Alternative media only goes so far. So-called Alternative media, where one could also find stories about an SAS hit squad offing Lady Diana, Black seeds can cure anything, the ongoing prediction of imminent American collapse(Always two years away), something insipid from Glenn Beck, Aliens living among us and Russian pictures of a soul leaving a body, has its own issues with accuracy and reality. Anything in the Alternative media, like the corporate and status quo media should come with heaping scoops of skepticism.

And what happened to my fellow Lefties who long cried and advocated for a world without borders? Suddenly those same Lefties have retreated to a defense of stateism, and retreated from the ideals of going to the aid of our fellow human being? Where are my lefty pals who dreamed of one world and a brotherhood of all people? Their argument that this isn’t our fight, that it is a religious fight, a civil war, or that we need to worry about “our” people first would seem to support FOX News’ refrain that this is indeed a Center Right nation, and not at all a Progressive nation. It would seem to affirm that we do indeed have more in favor of the Ron and Rand Paul’s, and the Ayn Randian morality of self-centered culture, and that all the blathering by Progressives and Liberals the last couple of decades is as ideological and substantive as choosing up sides for a high school field hockey game.

Last is this fiction of Al Qa’eda in Syria. Certainly they are there. They are proving themselves in those small numbers as willing to stand and sacrifice for their ideals and are winning the hearts and minds of victimized and lost Syrians. We are not. Al Qa’eda, despite the hysteria over Benghazi was on the wane. They are capitalizing on this tragedy to our detriment as we cower and withdraw from the world, except where it will make us money. Again, “in our interest,” long the argument of the Right is now the chorus of the Left. But Al Qa’eda is more benefitting from pro-Assad propagandists, and the US has been tricked into their inflated presence and the fear of that terror collective. Shame on us.

Skepticism in all things is healthy, and there is ample history to support being ultimately skeptical of this government. They have not served us well, and they undermine our national credibility by acting purely on money-driven interests. But the debate should be to find the truth as a means of making decisions on doing the right thing, not in doing what benefits our protected and insulated corner of the planet. We should be the big mean guy with the big heart that is that shining city on the hill, who is that last best hope for mankind. The right won’t do it, and the Left is losing it. Find your selves again, my Leftist friends, and I pray you find yourself Progressive and not reactionary.

Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.
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Failing to act in Syria: America’s Moral Dilemma

So here is the dilemma: President Obama says, after at least 3 chemical attacks against Syrian civilians, that the Assad regime has crossed a line and now must face the wrath of the international community. In the latest attack 1429 civilians were killed with Sarin gas, government controlled delivery systems being the only possibility. Video and images show scores of dead, and many in the final terrible and agonizing throes. He announces military action is imminent, and remains intent even after losing British support. He does, however have French support. The Arab League also supports action. Suddenly, Obama reverses course and decides to seek congressional approval. Some see this fully as a means of dodging a true moral responsibility

Rewind to more than 18 months ago when many were arguing for a resolute message to the Syrian government when the first atrocities against civilians. Journalist Mika Yamamoto was killed in August 2012 documenting Assad’s brutal crackdown on dissidents in the city of Homs, joining American Marie Colvin and Frenchman Remi Ochlik five months before. Dozens of journalists have died among more than 100,000 civilians. But the dead are dead, and retribution for the dead is impotent revenge. Justice is different from revenge, and this note is an argument for justice rather than revenge.

There is and always has been an emotional and moral tripwire, regardless of the WMD issue. Kosovo it was a bloody ravine, in Sarajevo it was a terrible market attack. All of them triggered an international military response. All of them were precipitated by months or years of atrocities against the innocent, all of them saw events early on in which the primaries of those atrocities believed they had crossed a line too far, only to have that line ignored by the international community. In the early months of the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia, Serb forces shot down a UN helicopter they said by accident. But there was no response from the international community, and the Serbs then understood there was no resolve against their actions which ultimately led to nearly 200,000 dead, twice that number wounded and more than 10 times that number in refugees. The UNHCR numbers current Syrian civilian refugees over 1.5 million, with likely a similar number internally displaced.

Republican Tom Cole promoted the ultimate lie of a stoic or disinterested international community, one used ad nausea in foreign conflicts. It is the message of the ignorant to the ignorant, and that is that this is an intransigent and eternal religious conflict. This began as retribution against a freedom movement calling for elections and the end to the Syrian monarchy. That is the eternal struggle here-freedom.

Did the International Community miss the opportunity early on to prevent the current bloodshed? Government bombings in Homs in 2012

Did the International Community miss the opportunity early on to prevent the current bloodshed? Government bombings in Homs in 2012

Now the American public, the victim of a media that was largely ignored this civil war, only has FOX News and Rightwing propaganda to rely on for any sort of perspective. In those perspectives is coiled the narrative of Al Qa’eda terrorists or Islamic fundamentalists. They are there to be sure, the opportunists that they are, but then they are willing to fight and die on the side of the Syrian people. The West, for all of its innuendo and falsehoods cannot even muster the truth in reporting.

The world once looked to the United States as a defender of human rights. We have squandered that as a nation, and the pale reaction to the brutality inflicted by the Assad regime from the start of the conflict-which was one sides before civilians began defending themselves and fighting back-only underscores the abandonment of human rights and ideals. Instead we argue openly the perversion of our pretend ideals about national self-interest.

Revenge is wasted on the dead, justice belongs to the living. There are more than 2 million civilians displaced by the war.

Revenge is wasted on the dead, justice belongs to the living. There are more than 2 million civilians displaced by the war.

Curious, since, so many in this nation argue that we are a Judeo-Christian nation based upon Judeo-Christian ideals and morality. As we have seen our ideals have been traded for oil, stock deals, international trade and consumerism. The world sees that. They see the stain upon our soul and hear the ghastly echo of moral abandonment behind our words. It lowers the standard of human rights or compels other nations to pick up that standard, not in partnership with America, but in spite of, and that, that is certainly the most dangerous threat to American security now and in the future.

Progressives and Liberals are certainly right to argue that war is never the answer, and as an ideal that is true. What I would argue is that war, limited war to degrade a despot and his army in the defense of the innocent is a regrettable necessity. Walking away from the suffering of innocents suffering, while hiding behind the abstract of national borders, is a disgrace for any person who believes them self moral. War for national self-interest is immoral. In the words of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., “if there is injustice anywhere, there is injustice everywhere.’

Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.

ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.

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Obama’s “I have a Yawn” Speech

Full transcript of Obama’s speech.

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Really? The first Black president in America’s history, speaking on the 50th anniversary of the historic Civil Rights march on Washington delivers a speech characterized by a notable lack of energy and perhaps interest. And given the record of this nation, and the revival of institutionalized, statistically-excused, and even overt racism, this speech might have been a rallying call to the work yet to be done, and the progress imperiled.

In glaring monotone, one could almost make the case that his words were weighted with the guilt of supporting a system marked by injustice and the deepening, systemic inequality supposedly eschewed in the very founding documents of our nation. Perhaps that is a natural arc for those who come to issues of race and injustice as more an observer than a victim. Certainly Obama, as he has sincerely indicated, has been the target of racism; but he has also had a more privileged perspective by virtue of a mixed race and opportunities in life not afforded to many in the African American community are still burdened with today.

At times the President seemed to come alive, finding moments of realization about the struggle continuing among too many in the minority communities of this nation. There was none of the noble and resistant exaltation of King’s speech on that spot 50 years earlier. There was no accounting of the progress or lack of progress of the dream King heralded and demanded. Instead, in a rambling and rarely evocative late-term speech that did little to celebrate the anniversary, nor decry injustices yet to be corrected Obama still seemed to stand more on policy than purpose.

We have entered a new era in race relations, but one that could hardly be described as post-racial. Instead there are those who would learn from the past to sharpen and polish their racism and racially divisive attitudes. They argue with the deepest sincerity using statistics to validate horribly racist policies such as stop and frisk law, racial profiling and crime as a means of evading the larger culture’s complicity, abandonment and responsibility in issues directly impacting, impeding and damaging the black community.

Pound the lectern, Mr. President. Rage at those injustices because that is what is needed. You are a leader whose responsibility is to lead this nation. But you are also a black man, and your/our-brothers and sisters remain in bondage as deeply as they did on that August day in 1963 when an unassuming reverend responded to a call to tell us about “the dream.” Can we rightly say that dream has been fulfilled or realized as schools close, black neighborhoods bear the brunt of economic downturns first and more acutely, and when guns from a white dominated gun industry magically proliferate among black neighborhoods due to lack of adequate and reasonable policy?

This nation still blames the symptoms of racial and economic inequality and injustice while lauding the cancer of greed and racism.

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Revolution and Beer…of the Week, Romania’s Timisoarana Beer

You’ve probably never heard of the Romanian town of Timisoara. There was a Roma girl I knew there once on one of my first trips to the Balkans just after the fall of the Soviet Union. I’m recalling an evening in a friend’s flat in Belgrade. The friend rented out the front room to a Roma family that was selling odds and ends at a local flea market. I had a room off the kitchen to myself. The girl leaned at the door as I wrote in a journal, her mother and grandmother at the stove, filling the apartment with the wonderous scents of grilling meats, sautéing vegetables and a ubiquitous mix of aromatic Balkan spices.IMG_0847

The girl was 18, with aspirations of attending dental school one day. Those aspirations were plagued by the tragedy of the Balkans in the wake of the collapse of communism and her Roma heritage, a heritage which evoked acute discrimination across much of Europe, leaving the Roma segregated in a cruel sort of apartheid. Lifting a mug of Timisoarana Beer, a clean and perfectly balanced pale lager, the golden color reminded me of the gold in the girl’s auburn eyes. She’d offered me a bottle of the beer from her home town, part of a stash her father and uncle in the next room had carried as they skirted Serbian customs over small country roads on the frontier between the two nations. Now and then her grandmother would intrude, drawing our hands together with her flour covered frail fingers and e3licit uncomfortable blushes from the girl and I with over-eager talk of marriage. 439363-R1-E017_017

The city of Timisoara itself is a roadmap of the last five centuries of European history, falling to the Ottoman Turks for almost two centuries, became part of the Hapsburg Empire and was all but destroyed during the Second World War. The Timisoarana brewery itself opened in 1718, just two years after Prince Eugene of Savoy forced the Turks to abandon the town, making it among some of the oldest beers in Europe. I like to think the supreme and precise balance of the beer reflects that history, and the ethnic and national influences that washed across southern Europe like successive floods, each laying their own character.

The beer takes me back to that night, a chill autumn breeze off the Danube River just across the road, the rattle and bell of the last tram for the night, exotic foods, the beer and her. I was learning, those days. There were too many stories about the Roma in Europe, which carelessly could be affirmed through naïve observation of Roma pickpockets, beggars on trains and upon street corners. Thieves! Criminals! Those were the refrains often heard. I endeavored to fight those misconceptions at every turn, and this good family was the perfect place to begin.220px-Fabrica_de_Bere_Timisoara

And so I am raising this glass of Timisoarana, which is purely and simply crafted and would adhere precisely to the German purity law, the Reinheitsgebot of 1516. In that law, only water, barely and hops were to be used-they didn’t know about yeast in 1516, though they used it. 5%ABV, it poured to a full white head with simple lacing. I like to think that first beer back in 1993 helped to open my mind a bit. I never saw her or the family again, but I sometimes recall those evening’s building bridges of friendship and understanding over a fine bottle of Timisoarana beer.

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