A Must-Do Menu


by Paul Balles


I’m writing this for people who will never read it without prompting: members of working families who relax by watching TV after a long work day and after they put the children to bed.

People without spouses and children, including students, don’t often read articles like this either. Just this week, randomly chosen people interviewed by a TV host were asked questions that any informed person could answer. They didn’t even know basic historical facts about their own country, much less any other.

What does this say about members of a public who choose to remain ignorant about important events that eventually affect them? While they may take responsibility for their jobs, families or studies, they fail to assume responsibility for their communities or country.

U S Senator Paul Wellstone said it well: “As free citizens in a political democracy, we have a responsibility to be interested and involved in the affairs of the human community, be it at the local or the global level.”

Not even politicians appear informed these days. American candidates for the presidency have been acting like buffoons.

Candidate Herman Cain didn’t even know that China was a world power with nuclear weapons. Governor Rick Perry, republican from Texas, couldn’t even remember what three liberal agencies he would get rid of as president.

The newest movement in America has been inspired by disdain for the 1% of Americans who have great wealth, against the remaining 99% who are struggling to survive economically.

As long as they can’t find work, they might as well march against Wall Street and learn a little about what’s going on.

The informed who read this may feel inclined to groan that they already know what’s commented on here. However, the knowledge of injustice, bigotry or disinformation that continues unabated is still unshared by enough to make needed changes.

Here are some of the things that need to be done:

Close Guantanamo

The prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba is ‘arguably the most expensive prison on earth,’ according to a report from the Miami Herald.

Attorney Michael Ratner complains that “Guantanamo remains open 21 months after the date President Obama promised it would be closed. One hundred seventy-one men remain imprisoned, of which 89 have been cleared for release, but with no release in sight.

“The authority Bush granted himself and which Obama continued may even now be expanded and given a congressional imprimatur….All of us have the obligation to hold Obama to his promise and fight a shocking and inhuman descent into medievalism.”

Get out of Afghanistan

A number of writers have made it clear that “we have seen enough to understand that the costs of continuing the war far outstrip any conceivable benefits.”

American congressman Ron Paul has pointed out that Americans are tired of fighting a war that serves no purpose. “What are we there for? What is the purpose? Does it serve our national interests?” asks Paul.

An issue like troop presence in Afghanistan, with great costs economically and in loss of lives and brutal injuries, needs more attention than the sparse attention 12,002 viewers have given since June to Ron Paul’s youtube interview.

Prosecute Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty

An unbiased response to the investigation of the attacks on the USS Liberty is long overdue. The real effect has been the near-complete failure of America to ever be critical of Israel, no matter what they do.

How many people today know that during the Six Day War, Israel attacked a US Navy ship, the USS Liberty, killing and injuring over 200 American servicemen? When is Israel going to be held accountable for its misdeeds?

In 2004 a high-level commission chaired by Admiral Thomas Moorer, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, found this attack to be “an act of war against the United States,” a fact few mainstream news media have reported.

End Israeli domination of America

Largely due to special-interest lobbying, U.S. taxpayers give Israel an average of $7 million per day, and since its creation have given more U.S. funds to Israel than to any other nation.

As Americans learn about how Israel is using American tax dollars, many are calling for an end to this expenditure. With millions of Americans homeless and out of work, Israelis bask in the Mediterranean sun to the tune of $7 million a day.

Insist that Israel sign and abide by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel would not be pressured into signing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

President Obama has said he will not press Israel when it comes to nuclear issues. “The United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine its security interests,” Obama said after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Haaretz reports that a meeting scheduled by the IAEA for the 20th and 21st of November to “start a dialogue, even though no concrete outcome is expected.”

Israel is scheduled to attend but won’t entertain joining the states signing the non-proliferation treaty.

Demonstrators potential

Meanwhile, protestors for various reasons gather in cities around America and in other parts of the world. One newscaster referred to an “Arab spring followed by an American autumn.” One can’t help wondering why he didn’t say “…followed by an American fall.”

While the demonstrators are referred to as Occupy Wall Street Protestors, they are said to symbolize the increasing economic inequality in America. Ideally, they would devote some of their time to learning about and demonstrating against other equally important issues.

Musician / activist Wynton Marsalis offered his advice, saying “We always hear about the rights of democracy, but the major responsibility of it is participation.”

Motivational speaker / author Denis Waitley had it right when he reminded us, “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”

The time is past due to use protest movements and social networks to educate the public. If you have a different “must-do menu” do it! Start now!


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