A Very Good Save-the-World Software Development Idea. Please Help Yourself! :-)

Will some brilliant programmer please step up and design a google-type software program that can linguistically analyze and determine a speaker/writer’s cooperative tone and intent?


Your new program could identify and distinguish among those writers/speakers whose communications promote a sense of division, partisanship, negativity, polarization, blame, attack, incivility, rudeness, destructiveness, unfriendly competition, bickering and hate—and those promoting a sense of positivity, creativity, life-affirmation, support, harmony, acceptance, forgiveness, productivity, civility, courtesy, equality of opportunity, caring, cooperation and unity.


Your software could have endless useful and profitable applications. For immediate profitability, please consider using your product for security purposes, to helpfully ward off unfriendly attacks and attackers (of whatever kind) upon individuals and enterprises (of whatever kind.)


Imagine leaders young and old in every field vying for their communications to be screened and certified via your software. Why not simultaneously award a “Truth-bearer” (or some other such logo) “gold seal of approval” identifying individuals and organizations as positive communicators, healers, light-bearers?


Your prestigious and desirable software “accreditation” could motivate many people to investigate and understand the important distinctions between peaceful and contentious communication purposes, and to recognize and encourage humanity-unifying goals as non-threatening and potentially beneficial to all earthlings, while discouraging communications with adversarial, hostile ends. Your software would also surely stoke national dialogue, while heightening awareness about the many distinct (although often confusingly-disguised) differences between helpful and harmful human communications. Your software would take care not to exclude any gentle, friendly, cooperative practitioner of any ideology, religion, political party, nation, organization, affiliation, etc.


One important goal of your software would be to educate. Hopefully, everyone would eventually become enlightened enough to merit universal inclusivity (by acting as good, positive communicators) according to your accrediting software, which might also be developed Wikipedically, or perhaps Amazon-style—i.e., open-sourced, by inviting motivated reviewers and voters opportunities not only to build your site, but also to offer feedback opportunities and provide needed talent to shape and debug upgrades and develop next-generation software.


Recipients of your approving nods (such as Nobel prize winners and mild-mannered third-graders) could proudly display and announce their cherished new affiliation and certification on their websites, on Facebook, business cards, in TV commercials and advertising, on coffee cups, tee-shirts, shopping bags….


Additionally, your software could assist web surfers to more-judiciously select helpfully-screened websites, products and opinions as the very ones they will most benefit from investigating. Perhaps your software could also eventually include a function which would recognize and refute inappropriate co-opters of your symbol of acceptance and stamp of approval—an iterative process that would call out abusers while encouraging more awareness and discussion.


Your software will stimulate lively dialogue; increase the impact and number of creative, thought-provoking, and controversial-but-civil exchanges; reduce (by virtue of indifference and neglect) the quantity and influence of divisive communications arising anywhere in the world; universally improve facility in verbal and mental processing of complexities, innuendo and nuances; and inspire us all to pull together cooperatively to resolve our common personal, local and global problems.


While you're programming, please give extra points for humor?


And if you're not a programmer, but merely a earthlinged, godlinged promosapient like me, please pass this idea on to any similarly-inclined programming/software folk or foundations, or to whomever might be interested!


Thank you…. 🙂


Nancy Pace





















































































Justice and Peace Are One Path

Peace and justice nourish one another, sharing their hope for non-violence and their concern for the interests of others. Wherever exploitation and oppression are ignored, peace and justice are illusive; wherever respect and support for human life become priorities, peace and justice are reborn.


Rule-of-law and justice are not always the same. Hopeless citizens who despair of working out their life-and-death issues within unjust legal, economic and political frameworks sometimes turn to crime, terrorism, and war. What goes around comes around. Those who work for equal opportunity and peace lift up their own lives with the lives of others, growing in understanding and acceptance of human difference, and increasing the sum of peace and justice.


The Golden Rule, the historical foundation for all moral and legal systems, and the basis for the “liberty and justice for all” to which we pledge allegiance, works so well because treating others as you wish to be treated becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Peace and justice are among the highest ideals and values enshrined in our proud founding documents, which extend equal protection for the peaceful, equitable goals of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” even to “the least of these”—children, the elderly, sick, needy and handicapped, and all who struggle to rise from historical discrimination.


Angry media xenophobes and demagogues try to scare us into believing that the world is divided into a tiny deserving few of “us” vs. a vast faceless, threatening, undeserving “them,” urging us to abandon the goal of peace and justice for all, and to put power and wealth in the hands of a few self-interested fear-mongers who guilefully “guarantee” safety through militarism. Offering the opposite message are the great leaders of our past and present, urging us to love and help one another, to give and forgive, to risk peace instead of war, and to work together for respectful, supportive conditions valuing the sanctity of human life everywhere. Truly, we cannot avoid all injustice, but we can avoid adding to its sum.


Justice implies neutrality and fairness, but no judges are completely unbiased. We all see the world uniquely, based on our different backgrounds. In the face of the same legal arguments, natural, unavoidable bias is evident in the many disagreements among even our rigorously-selected highest justices.


Our current justices’ life experiences are for the most part grounded in privilege and wealth. A more balanced Supreme Court would include justices whose lives reflect struggles against prejudice, poverty or disadvantage, since, in common law legal systems like our own, justices at times “make the law” by overturning precedents, regulations and legislation, with immense implications for future generations.


Clearly we need to appoint judges with sterling records of excellence and impartiality. President Obama hopes also to nominate Supreme Court justices with a sense of what real-world folks go through, who know what it is to be a teenage mom or to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old, to have the system not work for you, to be vulnerable in the political process—an outsider, a minority, someone without a lot of clout.


In the five percent of hard cases where the legal language is not perfectly clear, and where legal procedures alone can’t lead to a rule of decision, President Obama believes that the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in a judge’s heart. May we find the peace and justice we seek there, and together with our good president, continue to nurture peace and justice in our own hearts, in our families, communities, businesses, schools, courts, churches and government, and in all our relationships with others throughout the world.



Please send questions and comments to njcpace@gmail.com. Thank you!

Wake Up, Rush Limbaugh, and Do Something For America With All Those Smarts

I originally titled this piece, “Rush Limbaugh is a Dangerous Destructive Simplistic Fear-Based Hateful Ignorant Terrifying Lying Demagogic Blowhard.”  But I like Rush Limbaugh, if not what he says, so I changed the title.


Some of the things I like best about Rush Limbaugh are:  his work ethic, his perseverence, his vulnerability, his gentleness, his good mind and his facility with words and ideas, his patriotism, and his loving spirit. Despite overwhelming evidence that his narrow worldview is way too confining for his large heart and fine intelligence, he seems fiercely determined so far to force unruly facts into his too-small mental paradigms, in order that he may continue to be safely “right” about whatever he's said up until now.


Rush Limbaugh is afraid (as are we all) of being “wrong,” and also of not-knowing, when the truth is, the more one knows, the more one knows one doesn't know. What I do know about Rush is that he means well, and that he wants very much to believe that what he's doing will work for him and for America and Americans. Certainly his past approaches have made him rich. They've also left him feeling very much alone in an angry, frightened, adoring, clueless crowd.


Like many Americans, I recognize and share many of Rush Limbaugh's values, frustrations, concerns and goals. However, unlike his largely blue-collar and sincerely patriotic audience, I know that Limbaugh's anger, like all anger, is just an attempt to make someone else feel guilty. We all want someone to blame for our troubles. Unfortunately, Rush Limbaugh has no clue of how America got where we are, who got us here, and how we can go about resolving our problems.


Rush Limbaugh has not run for office because his worldview is unsophisticated and black-and-white, and thus, quite indefensible. He thinks that understanding history, governance and current events ought to be simple and straightforward, something anyone can do. Unfortunately for him, his famously-pronounced perspectives do not hold up to confontation or questioning or facts-that-don't-fit (most of them), which is why he avoids debate, interviews, or news conferences, and why he pretends to be proudly above such conflicts, covering up his insecurities with bluster and bombast. Conservative leaders who are fearful of repudiating Limbaugh at least hope to profit from the destructive, hate-filled, fear-based, uninformed, frightening, distorted, polarized, demagogic polemics Limbaugh offers his audiences.


Because Limbaugh effectively isolates himself from dialogue and discussion, he gets away with handing out thousands of blatant distortions to millions of unsophisticated, gullible, poorly-informed citizens who share his frustrations and anger and patriotic values, and so take in his opinions like mother’s milk, embracing without question his assumptions and conclusions as their own. Millions trust Limbaugh–an uneducated, unpolished man they identify as “like themselves”–to explain politics and current events to them. Having little experience or understanding to question what Limbaugh says, and being unwilling to take the time to seek balance by exposing themselves to the many varied and alternative viewpoints they would hear, say, on C-Span, Limbaugh's audiences find it more convenient to “take” their political opinions straight from Limbaugh, especially since he can spin complicated issues into simple-sounding, clever, funny one-liners easy to remember and repeat, making them feel instantly knowledgeable, at least until someone who actually knows what they're talking about challenges them.


What Limbaugh “sells” are memorable, simplistic untruths and distortions. Thus, he is the most dangerous man in America today. He proudly believes that he's a danger to liberals and liberals ideas, but sadly, quite without realizing it, Limbaugh is undermining American rights, freedoms and his own deepest American values. Every day, Limbaugh takes the breaking news of the day and, using innuendo and ambiguity, frightens and indoctrinates millions of Americans into violent, angry, bigoted responses to those changing events. Rush Limbaugh would be broken-hearted to realize that he himself is a (non-violent) terrorist, who crudely uses his own cleverness, quick mind, dramatic abilities and appealing voice to incite conflict, fear, division and hatred, and to relentlessly urge his fellow Americans to do what he himself doesn't dare to do–that is, act out his feelings of helplessness, rage and frustration.


I am hoping Rush Limbaugh will soon wake up and realize the harm he's doing to his country and to his fellow Americans, not to mention brothers and sisters around the world. I'm also hoping that someone will find a way to, democratically and constitutionally curb Limbaugh's destructive influence. Our country's problems are too great to allow such a flagrantly divisive influence to go unanswered.


Others like Limbaugh will be far less damaging when we all decide to support uniform, nationally- and internationally-comparable education standards here. A significant part of the “Limbaugh problem” in America is our very poorly educated and often unskilled citizenry. You may have noticed that in Canada, with its superior, more-uniform education system, demagogic radio blowhards have considerably less influence.


C'mon, Rush. Take a risk. Be as big and brave and smart as you've convinced yourself, and others, and even me, into believing that you really are–but so far, with little good and considerable harm to show for it. Take a leap into the real world, and see what opportunities await you here. You'll be among real friends, smart friends, like you, but also knowledgeable and fearless and openly loving friends, like the “you” that you haven't yet let come out to play. You're rich as Croesus, Rush. It's time to be brave. C'mon over, Rush. I promise you, you'll like it here.

Covering Obama: A Cautionary Note to Journalists and Historians

Journalists who recently told the election tale in terms of a superior candidate emerging victorious over an inferior one risked a barrage of criticism from rightist pundits. And indeed, the salutations of the world’s moral and political leaders, and the tears of admirers everywhere, have crowned Barack Obama a peerless light-bearer, while John McCain, partly for the sake of a contrasting story line, has been cast in the evil emperor role.


Truly, it would be as misguided for liberal-leaning journalists to indelibly identify Obama as a permanent force for good, as for right-leaning journalists to gnash their teeth to nubs over their White Knight’s defeat by the evil Antichrist, because what keeps journalists working is their sure-handed avoidance of any final pronouncements on the rapidly-changing nature of the people and human institutions in the scene before them, in favor of reporting in medias res exactly what just happened.


In this particular case, what just happened was that a famously-esteemed public servant, John McCain, too often gave in to cynicism; attacked his until-recently unknown opponent; promoted fear; and acted the part of convenient tool of greedy and foolish party opportunists narrowly serving the interests of America’s wealthiest citizens.


What just happened was that voters rightly associated John McCain’s candidacy with the failed policies of today’s Republican Party, the party of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Addington, Rove, and Hadley, who, together with Hannity, Limbaugh and their ilk, duped two highly-electable, ideologically “authentic” rock stars, Bush II and McCain, into fatuously selling, with fatal consequences to large swaths of Americans and Iraqis, a vacuous, greed-based ideology.


What just happened was that a Republican presidential campaign aligned itself with policies promoting U.S. hegemony; a dominion of haves over have-nots; a belief in the inevitability of a divided world; militarized solutions to political conflicts; and a continuation of institutionalized bigotry, hatred, ignorance and poverty as the optimal path to safety and prosperity.


Journalists legitimately pointed out that there were clear differences between the two candidates and their campaigns—two very different approaches to governing, two distinct philosophies, two methodologies, two visions.


Journalists rightly explained how and why most world citizens came together to embrace and applaud the more hopeful candidate and reject the more cynical one.


To be sure, John McCain is neither the devil nor the evil emperor. He is, however, a believer in the aggressive, violent, chauvinistic ideology of the Bush regime which preceded him. George W. Bush isn’t the devil either, but he did quite naively become falsely persuaded that his only choice was to unleash hell in the Middle East, thereby adding greatly to the sum of human suffering and injustices in the false hope of thus preventing some.


Many high-minded journalists very professionally told a story of how, in this one glorious instance, Americans courageously elected a man advocating diplomacy, global problem-solving, an end to class warfare, relief for the planet, a search for common interests and solutions, the education of all children everywhere in the necessary skills, ideals and values of citizenship and productivity, and a belief in working together to lift mankind up instead of tearing it down.


Barack’s victory was a victory of hope, love, and faith over cynicism, despair, and vengeance. Journalists telling his election story just exactly as it unfolded were right to tell the truth that for a brief shining moment, America once again welcomed the possibility of a promising new king ready and eager to reign wisely and well from a diverse, compassionate and representative roundtable.


At the risk of grievously mixing regal metaphors:  Make it so.




Please send comments to njcpace@gmail.com.

Obama's Vice Presidential Nominee Will Be Mark Warner

Just for the record, I still think that every one of Obama's descriptive hints about who will be his VP choice have pointed right at Mark Warner, and that Warner will be his VP nominee.

I think Obama has wanted Warner all along (for years) for all the best possible reasons, including clinching winning in November and getting his agenda for change done over the next eight years.

Because of their many differences, I suspect Barack will have had to do some pretty persuasive arguing to win Warner over to his ticket, but Barack is a pretty persuasive arguer.

I think that (1) for the good of the nation, and (2) Virginians, and (3) the Democratic party, and (4) Warner's own family, as heirs to what happens in the world over the next eight years, and (5) because of the fierce urgency of now, and (6) due to Barack's amazing leadership skills, serving as VEEP will trump Warner's sincere desire and alternative political path and ambitions and plans to serve as Senator of his beloved state of Virginia. 

Those three darling teenage daughters who asked Dad to put off his national ambitions until they were all in college, and Warner's great wife too, will let him off the hook and give him the go-ahead, if taking the VP job is what he is finally convinced is, after all, best for all concerned (that is, all the people in the world.) Warner's a pretty persuasive arguer too.

Virginians will be momentarily devastated if Warner accepts the VP nomination, but they will quickly readjust when they realize that the popular Tim Kaine can serve them ably in the Senate, that they have many excellent Democratic options to replace Kaine as Governor and to be the next Governor, and that a beloved Virginia favorite son will not only serve in the White House as Vice President for eight years, but will also be the next U.S. President.

The Republicans will be dismayed. “Two Harvard Lawyers” is the worst that they can do with this pair….

I bet some small change on my Mark Warner prognostication a few months ago on intrade, where Warner is now standing at around 0 odds (or something similar) so evidently lots of people on the inside know reasons I don't know about, why this VP match wouldn't work just fine. Considering I know nothing about anyone in politics except what I read in the papers and on the net (and much of that is, of course, nonsense), the knowledgeable folk at intrade who put their money on the line will probably prove me wrong for the many good reasons I know not of. 

I'll be sad though, if I'm wrong, and in this particular case, losing the bet money will have nothing to do with it. (In fact, the odds may go up with this blog, who knows?! Stranger things have happened….) But everyone likes to “be right,” especially me. And it was just fun to take the leap on something that would be so wonderful. Obama/Warner would be an amazing ticket, and an unbeatable, truly great and historic sixteen-year run.

By the way, I hate gambling in general, am uncomfortable with it in person, and played only nickel slot machines during a week once in Las Vegas that I was forced to endure. I don't even buy lottery tickets. But this was a sure thing (LOL), so I couldn't resist.


Because Barack is smart and good, and because Barack gets what he goes after, and, well, as far as I can tell–which isn't that far, as I've explained above–Warner would be the smartest, best choice for America, for Barack, for the Democrats, for the average working voter, for the economy, for the environment…well, so it goes, on and on. 

Read my previous blog about Mark Warner for VP on my website, www.epharmony.com, for the reasons why I like Warner for this spot (there are many more), if you want to know my rationale. It hasn't changed.

I also like many of Barack's other outstanding VP options. My first VP pick, after Warner, in order of who I think would be best and who Barack would pick, is Evan Bayh. After Bayh, I'm guessing Biden, Richardson, and Casey. There are several more good possibilities too, for various reasons. But Warner and Bayh fit his clues best. Hillary fits some of his clues too, but I don't think she's a good fit for VP (though a great public servant) and I doubt that Obama will think so either.

But if I'm trying to think like Barack and decode his priorities and his signals, I'm guessing/hoping it's Warner.

And yes, if this post looks wildly foolish tomorrow, it will be easy to delete this post…. 🙂  After all, I'm not famous (yet….) 🙂

Please send your comments to njcpace@gmail.com. Thank you!







Obama and McCain Tell Us What “Rich” Means

According to John McCain, only those Americans with incomes of $5 million or more a year are “rich.” That leaves the other 99.99999% making only $4,999,999.00 (or less) merely middle-class. It's hard to impress this guy!


Barack Obama thinks that families who makes $250,000 or more are “rich”–one-twentieth of John McCain’s assessment. He's a bit more in touch with reality….


John McCain has made it clear that he will not raise taxes even on the “rich” except to pay for endless wars. Barack says he will raise taxes on the 3-4% of the American people at the top, who need the money less and have already disproportionately benefited from living in this land of opportunity, to fund his plans for change. He’ll lower taxes for families making $100,000 or less.


So, without raising money, how does McCain plan to solve our country’s huge problems, that individuals and private enterprise can’t resolve on their own, the ones that require national planning and support? How does John McCain plan to level the playing field for all Americans, giving those born with disadvantages, deficits, and barriers a chance to lead healthy, productive lives?


The hard sad fact of the matter is, John McCain has no such plans. He doesn’t plan to level the playing field at all, or to solve our critical national problems. His primary business is taking care that the rich stay rich. He thinks the private sector can handle everything necessary if he just keeps government out of the way. His only plan is to use the bully pulpit to inspire us all upward and onward to greater individual achievement. Aside from that, we’re on our own.


Some of the critical national/global problems which John McCain won’t be solving because he won’t raise taxes to fund plausible government-wide national action plans, are: war prevention; energy and other scarcities; lawlessness; poverty; human and workers' rights; educational access; weapons proliferation; infectious disease; health care; environmental degradation; mass migrations/immigration; infrastructure; disaster relief; the national debt, deficit, and trade imbalance; a failing economy; addiction; hunger; a culture of violence; and prejudice.


McCain's conservative supporters put their faith in volunteerism and enterpreneurism by the wealthy cream of American society who they imagine have risen to the top only through their superior moral qualities. Barack will require such fortunate Americans to pitch in disproportionately to find and fund national solutions to common problems, to help their American brothers make it up to the starting line, and to help “the least of these” who are struggling in difficult times.


John McCain’s presidential vision is a fearful, frightening military one. Like George Bush, McCain will spend whatever amount is “necessary” on war and the military to protect Americans—militarily only—from Islamic extremists; beyond that, none of our common problems will be solved, and it’s every man for himself. Barack will work non-violently, diplomatically, and cooperatively to keep us out of harm's way and to prevent and address conflicts.


John McCain’s idea of leadership is to cheer us on comfortably from the sidelines, while using his most familiar tool, the military, to put bandaids on erupting conflicts and force the outcomes he desires.  Barack Obama will organize and galvanize us to take the necessary effective national actions on our problems. He will spend our tax money wisely, keep us out of costly wars, get us working to solve our problems, and get us where we need to go, together.


Please send comments to njcpace@gmail.com. Thank you!








Black Styles, White Racism, and the Barack Obama/Jeremiah Wright Controversy

I was raised to think that fidgeting, shouting and mopping one’s brow when speaking in public was unrefined. My mom only meant to teach me how to act, but her instructions left me judgmental of other cultures and styles. I squirmed with her when Elvis Presley gyrated and grunted and sweated. Together we hated Hitler’s rants, and shrank in dismay from Khrushchev’s noisy shoe. Loud, angry, confrontive voices still do nothing for me. They feel rude and threatening. And I’m not alone in this.
Maybe it’s my Calvinist streak, but I like my leaders calm, cool, and collected, like my man Barack Obama. To be sure, I would wager that Barack could make any congregation anywhere jump out of the aisles and pour into the streets anytime he wanted, as Jeremiah Wright can. And certainly Reverend Wright, a caring if conflicted Christian, has demonstrated on Bill Moyers's show that he can do scholarly and cerebral analysis along with the best of them.
I was also raised to be snobbish about grammar and diction. But people learn to speak however their families speak. Changing one’s everyday speech is an unimaginably arduous, individualized, time-consuming transformation not “covered” in English classes. Nowadays, many pop and sports celebrities who've won fame with colorful urban dialects will hire highly-trained linguistic coaches to give them personalized instruction in accent, vocabulary, grammar, and cultural modifications.
Every human being alive would like to be able to switch occasionally into more felicitous professional, business and academic English dialects should occasion arise, especially if one's dialect reflects a limited, impoverished or unlettered childhood. People are just more comfortable being around people who sound like them; fewer doors slam shut, and more open. Unconscious linguistic prejudices may not always be deliberate, but they’re very real and very limiting.
I can assure you that if Barack started writhing and sweating and screaming street slang in my face, I wouldn’t be able to focus on his logical argument. No, I’d be too worried about whether he was in good-enough physical shape to let himself get so worked up, or if he might be about to have a heart attack, or fall off the stage, or embarrass himself linguistically, chase somebody around the room maybe, or shoot somebody.
And if people around me, black or white, start to sway and wave their arms and call out and fall out? Well, I’m just not used to that. There’s nothing wrong with such choices, but people in my stuffy childhood churches just didn’t do those things. Where I came from, such behavior was considered, dare I say it, uncivilized, primitive, even tribal.
But what's so wonderfully “civilized” about a culture with a long sad secret record of exploiting and even obliterating other, weaker cultures? Civilization is as civilization does. I like the way people from so-called “primitive” southern-hemisphere cultures so generously share their time, money, warmth and help with one another. That kind of behavior sounds like pretty advanced-civ to me, more advanced in many ways than the often cold, hostile, lonely, so-called “modern” cultures of today. Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of western civilization, said he thought it would be a good idea.
All I'm saying is, there is no one single “way” to “be” that is universally “right.” All cultures, young and old, techy and traditional, have much to learn from one another, and much to teach.
I’m finally getting used to all the shouting and signifying so many people delight in, and I certainly know there’s nothing wrong with it. My kids love the loud emotional unity of rock concerts, and even I have a bit of the wild thing in me at times. But my mom’s early strictures insured that I wouldn’t come around easily to accepting other people’s different stylistic expressions. It’s all about what you’re used to.
But it’s not, as my mom believed, about what is “nice” or “right” or “correct” or even “appropriate,” because styles vary from culture to culture. It's about different ways of being civilized (and uncivilized.) And it's about holding to the highest standard of respect and support for human life everywhere, the Golden Rule of treating all others as we would want to be treated. It's certainly not about some picky stylistic stuff.
I was a military brat, so my far-flung army-post classrooms were racially-integrated long before the civil rights movement nudged America toward living up to more of its ideals. My classmates were pretty much all courteous, well-spoken, middle-class students of a remarkable variety of races, because in those days, the military establishment required cultural, stylistic and linguistic conformity. Non-white families could find reasonable welcome in the military if (and only if) they could demonstrate that, aside from skin color, they weren’t any different from most middle-class whites. All my classmates back then, regardless of race, seemed indistinguishably mainstream.
I didn’t grow up around many poor or uneducated people, or around any charismatic preachers and congregations, for that matter, although happily, I've had broader exposure to the world’s diversity since then, thanks in part to more representative television programming. I try to remind myself that my own carefully-taught class and race prejudices are limitations I want to remedy, both as a Christian and as a caring citizen of the world. Fortunately for me, I’ve been privileged in adulthood to spend time with good, patient people from all backgrounds, and have become comfortable with a broader range of personal styles.
Like everyone else, I acquired my own personal and linguistic styles from my parents, peers, and “neighborhood.” My family was a WASPy, bookish clan which gifted lucky-me (through no particular effort on my own) with a style and dialect acceptable in most circles. But there are many other delightfully valid ways of being an American swirling around me today in this great country—native and immigrant styles from all over, academic and business styles, hip-hop and Hispanic, inner-city and down-home country, Islamic, Asian, Caribbean, and a whole slew of other newly-blended personal styles I can’t begin to keep up with, but my kids can.
But the thing about personal style is, nowadays, it’s a positive, fluid thing, individual, unique, interesting, entertaining, and not so tied to race or ethnicity or social class as it once was. And voters are finally figuring all this out.
It seems to me that despite all the fuss about the particular words that Jeremiah Wright used, demagogues replaying his sound bites over and over don’t really care what Wright thinks or means, but rather, they're bent on dividing us along prejudicial lines. The small-minded con-men guiding the anti-Obama smear campaigns are absolutely thrilled to jump on any available excuse to show us ad nauseum how Barack once befriended a black man whose personal style makes a lot of voters uncomfortable.
The hucksters replaying such tapes are hoping white voters will conclude that “those people” “like Barack” are different from “us,” that “we” will think we have little in common with “them, ” that Barack won’t understand us and can’t represent our interests. Dirty politicians manipulate our unconscious racism so that we will see only difference, separation and error, instead of our many commonalities, our shared American dreams and challenges.
Such politics of division, hate and fear have a long successful history of convincing Americans time and again to vote against their own best interests. But as Barack keeps reminding us, American voters are smarter than that now. We’re becoming more enlightened, more open-minded and inclusive, more loving.
Smears-by-association can no longer distract us for long from the common pressing issues we all face, the real threats which ignore borders and cannot be solved competitively, but only through global cooperation, like a faltering economy, a culture of violence, costly wars, growing energy demands, poverty, political corruption, inadequate access to education, weapons proliferation, organized crime, infectious disease, poor health care, environmental degradation, mass migrations, crumbling infrastructure, pornography, homelessness, natural disasters, addictions, injustice, hopelessness, hunger, greed, prejudice, civic alienation, and apathy itself.
Americans are finally seeing the relevance and possibility inherent in the American ideals which Jesus, Jefferson, Lincoln, Gandhi, King, Mandela and so many other great leaders have urged upon us with one voice. We are finally turning away from the mean-spirited thinking which created all our problems in the first place, and toward the higher shared consciousness of universal brotherhood that alone will save us and our tiny blue planet.

Please send comments to njcpace@gmail.com. Thanks 🙂

A Pre-Olympics Comparison of Human Rights Violations in China and the U.S.

When my book club recently discussed a wonderful novel about China, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, I noticed that, like many Americans, most of us tend to think of China as a much greater violator of human rights than the U.S.A. The hosting of the Olympic Games in Beijing has certainly raised our level of questioning, along with, too often, our cultural biases. But the truth is, both countries have serious problems with human rights violations, and in some areas, our U.S. record is far weaker than China's.


Neither of the two governments has yet adequately addressed issues of poverty, racial discrimination, hunger, homelessness, and equitable education and health care among their populations, although China’s recent governmental policies and decisions have resulted in a Chinese economy which has grown more steadily and much faster than ours during the last decade, greatly benefiting their people’s standard of living–while ours has increasingly been failing us.


Among our country's very legitimate gripes about Chinese human rights is China's lack of freedom of the press. The U.S. has serious issues of corporate control over opinion in mainstream media outlets (our big TV channels have never seriously attempted to address the present topic of comparative human rights violations, for instance); even so, the U.S. (with a very free internet and many other independent news media outlets) still remains among the freest countries in the world, as far as freedom of speech and freedom of the press are concerned. We would all strongly wish to see China improve in press and speech freedom. Personally, I hope China finds some way to have a free internet without the hate, lies, and pornography our internet endures, but so far, that’s tricky for both cultures.


China strictly disallows secession from its union (Tibet, Taiwan), just as our own government once bloodily disallowed secession from our own U.S. “union,” of our southern Confederate states (although we wildly celebrated Texas’ secession from Mexico, as well as the breakup of the Soviet Union, so the purity of the principles of union and secession remain pretty arbitrary.) Like China's government, our own government hurries to put down any civil unrest, disruptions, and riots (see Watts and many other U.S. rebellions throughout history…. ) Like China, the U.S. also continues to refuse to consider either sovereignty or separation from the U.S. of many of our U.S. former colonial possessions–for instance, Puerto Rico, and others.


Americans are also legitimately upset about China's one-child policy, about the many who have been coerced into unwanted abortions or punished for their “anti-social” choices. Certainly the availability of abortion itself seems a human rights violation to many Americans. On the other hand, few Americans are aware of the enormity of the Chinese over-population problem (not enough food and jobs, for instance), which the one-child policy has greatly helped to address. Millions in China have been raised from extreme poverty since this program was instituted.


Many also look upon China's one-(communist)-party system as a violation of human rights, and indeed, most first world democracies do boast parliaments with a wide diversity of parties represented across the broadest possible political spectrum. Nevertheless, as in the U.S., most Chinese citizens (not all) consider their government to be not only legitimate, but also representative. In China, as in the U.S., many factions and perspectives contest within their one-party system and our (also very limited) two-party (market economy) system. Dissidents in both countries have attempted to broaden real power to more than the present status of one or two similar parties, but so far both political systems have proven resistant to change.


My point is, both of these two countries have serious problems with human and political rights, freedoms, and opportunities.


What the Chinese find most egregious about U.S. human rights violations are, of course, those areas of human rights in which their country (China) is comparatively far superior to ours. For instance, we have vastly more violent and commonplace civil crime, many more law-enforcement violations of civil rights, by far the world’s largest (in percentage of population, as well as total) prison population, customary brutality to prisoners, serious challenges to workers rights to unionize, significant abuse of women and children living in poverty (rape, prostitution, drug addiction, alcoholism, physical abuse…), and we also have far too much money in politics, threatening our democracy. We have also failed for many years to ratify popular international conventions on human rights, particularly the rights of women and children, as well as international environmental conventions.


We are also a serious violator of the sovereignty and human rights of citizens of many other countries around the world. Consider the civilian deaths and humanitarian disasters associated with our invasion of Iraq, our secret jails around the world, our government-accepted use of torture, Abu Graib, ten+ violent regime changes orchestrated by the U.S. in other countries, Guantanamo Bay…. At least China keeps its human rights violations mostly at home, and in recent history, has not invaded, nor dropped nuclear bombs on civilian populations, nor posted its armies or political prisons throughout the world, as the U.S. has.


The Chinese began issuing their annual “Human Rights Record of the United States” only after the U.S. issued annual scathing reports on over a hundred other countries (but did not critique our own distressing human rights record in the U.S.) The Chinese conclude their report with a statement that I agree with: 


“To respect and safeguard human rights is an important achievement in the progress of human society, and an important symbol of modern civilization. It is also a common goal of people of all countries and races, and a key theme of the tide of progress in our time. All countries have an obligation to make efforts to promote and protect human rights in their own territories, and to promote international cooperation in accordance with the norms of international relations. No country in the world should view itself as the incarnation of human rights, and use human rights as a tool to interfere in the affairs of, and exert pressure on, other countries, and to realize its own strategic interests. The U.S. reigns over other countries and releases “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” year after year. Its arrogant critiques of the human rights of other countries are always accompanied by a deliberate ignoring of serious human rights problems on its own territory. This is not only inconsistent with universally recognized norms of international relations, but also exposes the double standards and downright hypocrisy of the United States on the human rights issue, and inevitably impairs its international image. We hereby advise the U.S. government to face its own human rights problems and give up its unwise practices of applying double standards on human rights issues.”


Here is a link to China's 2008 Report on U.S. human rights violations:  




It is my personal wish that every country would treat all other nations as they would like to be treated (the golden rule, Confucius' rule too), that we would all conquer our enemies in the only way that works over time, by making them friends, and by supporting their most cherished projects and treating them with respect, courtesy, and appreciation. Every country has weaknesses and strengths, and every country needs acceptance and kindness in order to improve. We all have much to teach, and to learn from one another.


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Obama, Like Kipling’s Kim, is a “Friend of All the World”

I wonder if Barack Obama ever read Rudyard Kipling’s novel, Kim, about a half-British, half-Indian child growing up happily, as Barack did, in an amazingly diverse culture; Kim’s world was India, Barack’s Hawaii and Indonesia. Kim’s nickname was “little friend of all the world,” and he, like Barack, drew on his hard-won expertise in navigating a mysteriously multi-faceted childhood world to later become successful in “the great game” of politics. 


Certainly, Kipling’s own memories of growing up in British Raj India influenced his own many adult contributions as an eloquent communicator and cultural ambassador.


I thought about these many fascinating commonalities while reading Amanda Ripley’s story in today’s Time Magazine about Barack’s anthropologist mother. What adventures she and Barack shared living in the fascinating mélange that is Indonesia—17,500 islands, 230 million people, 300 languages, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Dutch/Christian traditions–and later in multicultural Hawaii, where Barack attended, on scholarship, a prestigious private high school.


Among Barack’s many strengths as a Presidential candidate are his openness to different cultural and political perspectives, and his non-polarizing, accepting attitude toward people from all walks of life. No one is ever a stranger to this non-ideological, caring, international rock star.


What a fascinating youth compelled Barack Obama, our own young “friend of all the world,” to overcome petty divisions and partisan distractions, offer leadership and service to his own nation, and bring the world together to resolve our most pressing common global problems—the ravages of disease, injustice, hopelessness, hunger, greed, environmental degradation, natural disasters, ignorance, addiction, prejudice, nuclear proliferation, crime, poverty, war, terrorism, and violence itself.


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In Power, Hillary Didn’t Get It Done. Barack Will.

Both Barack and Hillary say they can lead America through sweeping legislative changes, yet only Barack has a convincing plan for getting it done.


Hillary's plan is to do what she always has, that is, to work as hard as she can, and care a lot—a strategy which has resulted in creditable incremental changes, but which promises only more-of-the-same.


Barack’s plan for getting it done is daring, plausible, and perfectly aligned with his uniquely charismatic and inclusive leadership style.


He will begin by bringing in so many enthusiastic new voters during the general election that he will sweep a solid majority of Democrats, like-minded Independents, and Republicans amenable to his agenda into office along with him.


After he’s elected President, he’ll use his remarkable consensus-building abilities to transparently bridge divisions and identify workable solutions to pressing common problems.


Then he’ll eloquently sell his legislative package to a devoted American public, who by that time will know and trust him far more than they’ll trust opposing politicians or special interest lobbies, no matter how much money is spent on media campaigns to the contrary.


Finally, Barack will ask his devoted followers to hound their Members of Congress, and if necessary, turn out in the streets to protest, to get his legislation passed. And they will. And he will.


Hillary is wonderful, but her leadership style just doesn't get it done. During fifteen years of unlimited opportunities, connections, and insider information at the center of power—eight years as First Lady and seven years as a U.S. Senator—Hillary diligently chipped away at the edges of big problems, making praiseworthy differences in many lives, all good stuff, but hardly the leadership America needs now.


We need a widely popular President who can articulate, orchestrate, and legislate the urgent changes mandated by a solid majority of newly-mobilized followers—a President who gets it done.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a similarly-populist President who led the country through sweeping legislative changes cherished by the American working class, told the activists who sought his support, “You've convinced me.  Now go out and make me do it.” They turned out to protest, and his legislation passed. 


All through FDR’s Presidential campaign, detractors had complained loudly that he would prove a flash in the pan, “only” a great communicator, a man of “mere” words.  All such complaints ended abruptly, however, on Day One, a day which, after all, turned out to be far less significant than the many other truly transformative days that followed.


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