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We Must Not Close Gitmo November 14, 2008

Posted by voolavex in Politics & Religion, Uncategorized.
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According to his prepared testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Greenspan lamented that “those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder’s equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief.”  
Alan Greenspan – former disciple of Ayn Rand and former Chairman of the Fed
 
 
Why must we waste a perfectly lovely detention facility right in the luxurious Caribbean.  Of course it should be emptied of foreign detainees who are there without representation or any other right to which they may be entitled (we might ask John Cain about being detained for 5 years without a lawyer).  It seems these presumed terrorists (and I don’t doubt there are some there) are protected under several international acts that are reserved for presumed war criminals.  We have overlooked these pacts for 6+ years despite being signatories of each one.   We have created trumped up “acts” and rules to justify every sort of torture and deprivation imaginable.  The same stuff we condemned loudly for decades when others did it.  Apparently knocking down the WTC relieves us of every single law and rule in the book when it comes to enemy combatants.  The George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld Law of Double Standards.  It is my belief every person detained in that camp be channeled to a legally authorized facility with counsel available and allowed real justice to be meted out to each person based on facts and due process.
 
But we have this fabulous, large, working prison camp on balmy Guantanamo Bay – escape proof – like the Rock – and ready to go.  Let’s not be hasty.  Right here in this very country we have many yet to be indicted (but readily) indictable white collar crooks from our own terror locations right in New York, Washington and other large cities.  These are referred to as CEO’s, Board Chairmans, Bankers, Mortgage lender and Hedge Funders.  And of course political mischief makers.  In fact they are all basically crooks. I might start filling the place with the people who destroyed Valerie Plame’s career.   Next on my list would be the chairman of the Fed. The lovable and much respected Alan Greenspan who naively believed (because Ayn Rand said so?) that given a free reign – financial institutions would regulate themselves – no problem.  If that were actually true then it would be the very first time in the history of the universe – since the Big Bang – such a thing ever happened.  Even toddlers know that the king was in his counting house counting all his money.  It makes me chuckle when I think of the gasps and moans folks let out whenever the Mafia is mentioned.  All the bad things they do and how they rob and cheat and lie.  Right.  Even the mob has regulation – it may be harsh – but someone takes charge.  Recently Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute for {Get Rich and Run with the Money – oops} – Individual Rights said that Atlas Shrugged had foreseen it all.  That the government was at fault – oh crap – you read it:

Washington, D.C. –“Despite overwhelming evidence that government policies caused the current financial crisis, Congress is blaming businessmen,” said Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. “What’s worse, the capitalists who have been shackled with unprecedented regulatory burdens are unable to defend themselves morally. Though the events are different, this pattern of abuse and submission is straight out of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

“The cycle starts with government intervening into the economy and imposing regulations and controls on business. This distorts the free market, leading to economic dislocations. When the problems caused by these distortions inevitably follow, everyone blames the free market and its greedy capitalists. The proposed solution? More government controls. Over the years, conservative critics of creeping government have repeatedly exposed this illogic but have always been helpless to explain why the cycle keeps repeating, decade after decade.

“The pattern keeps recurring because businessmen are willing to take the blame. From capitalism’s inception, its defenders have been morally disarmed by the widespread view that self-interest is morally suspect, and disinterested service to others is a moral ideal. So each new spate of controls has been grudgingly accepted as a fair price to pay for society’s toleration of the selfish pursuit of profit.

Atlas Shrugged depicted a society in economic collapse due to this recurring cycle, and today’s parallels are obvious. Government manipulation of money, credit, and lending standards over several decades caused the mess we’re in. Now, the offered solution is more of the poison that sickened the economy–more bailouts, more cheap money, more government-guaranteed loans, and above all, more regulations.

“This chronic cycle will not end until businessmen accept that their production of profit is neither immoral nor amoral–it is the capstone of moral virtue. Once they shrug off the role of scapegoat, businessmen can demand with moral certitude that government punish fraud and enforce contracts but refrain from interfering with voluntary trades among consenting adults.

“When America’s markets are finally free of all coercion–in other words, when laissez-faire is achieved–financial crises such as the one we’re experiencing will never happen again.”

Basing the current crisis on this rationale is not going to produce many guilty pleas in Federal Courts.  But there will be trials and there will be verdicts and yes, Virginia, people will go to jail.

Why not turn the ugly history of Gitmo into a place that houses the people that did this to our nation – not  alleged enemy combatants – but greedy, cheating, lying men and women who should know what it’s like to lose your home, your family, your income, your future, your sanity as you fill their bottomless pit of greed.  Let them live in a little bitty cell – like the family car  has become an itty bitty cell for the unemployed, disenfranchised, hopeless and homeless taxpayers of this country.  I would suggest a dress code – jumpsuits of khaki and oxford blue.  And cheap tacky slip-ons.  Nutritious food with no flavor and no variety.  No wine.  No bottled water.  Minimal health care ( just like everyone else’s) and no Ayn Rand tomes.  Let them know that Atlas has indeed shrugged and it has all landed on them.  Envision these detainees in the tropical splendor of Cuba’s southeastern shores hunting endlessly for John Galt as they try to jump start the engine of the world perpetually in motion but only in their direction.

Guantanamo Prison Camp is too symbolic and too perfect to  be closed and made into a museum – who would actually visit it owing to its location and the situation in Cuba?  But as a slammer.  It’s just perfect.  Please share your thoughts on this idea. 

And, if you are fans, supporters or believers in Ayn Rand and her Objectivism – you are welcome to comment – but I am personally not interested in her philosophy.  I have read her books and taken in her website and considered her views.  She is not my cup of tea.  I will read your comments but I will not post screeds, rants, apologies or propaganda on her ideas.  Sorry – but I did it once before and I found it distasteful.

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Dreams From My Father November 10, 2008

Posted by voolavex in Politics & Religion.
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I had a wonderful father.  The beliefs he offered me and showed me  have stayed with me to this moment in time.  He was a Boston Irish Catholic intellectual with all the baggage that carries.  Short of cash and far too smart for his own good at a time when university was for the very rich., he never got his degree.  He always said his love of books was due to the fact his parents both worked in a book bindery and stayed employed during the Depression.  He passed it on to me.  He was a serious smart ass and a great wit.  He drank.  He was a snob and a social climber – the networker of all time. He was a  metrosexual before the word was ever coined.  He had quite a few jobs that made great stories. At eight he learned to drive and smoke.  He drove a hearse to and from the family speakeasy because he looked “mature” and they needed a sober driver.  He rappelled off the walls from under his bedroom window  and transported bathtub gin back and forth.  He told me the secret of a good bathtub gin was Red Lion Juniper Juice.  I was young enough to be impressed.  He was a butler. He went to Washington DC to work as a copywriter for the Washington Post and he was good. This was before we entered the war.  His cronies were all  admen and crackpots and they ran in a pack.  Not chasing women but more after the joy of the times they were in and the place they were in them. When in NYC he frequented Spivy’s Roof.  One day he wandered through the public rooms of the White House and saw Eleanor Roosevelt in her office.  He said hello and the next thing he knew they had a standing lunch date.  He revered her and I have no doubt he entertained her greatly.  One night, drunk on a Potomac golf course near the War College one of his cronies played reveille on his trumpet at 3 a.m.; the lights went on and the lot of them staggered like jackrabbits to get outta’ town.    He met  and courted  my mother in 1942 and two people could not have been less suited to one another – but it was war time and every GI wanted a sweetheart. He had been drafted (bad vision and flat feet did not keep him out of this man’s army)  and after resisting Sam’s call  he finally showed up with a pair of boxers and a quart of gin.  During the war they married and it went south from there but not before they had me and Boston apartment full of Heywood Wakefield furniture.  He wrote a book about his experiences in the Army and it was indeed published.  I have always been proud of this achievement because he was so happy about it.  He was an officer and a gentleman.  We’ll skip the re-up and the wrong assignment and the subsequent divorce – it was dismal but I did eventually wind up living with father in New York City and thus began my education in 1958.  My father was a Kennedy Democrat and rightly so.  As he liked to remind people he was born 3 days and 26 miles from JFK in 1917.  It didn’t take long for me to become just as enthralled.
 
During this period in my life my father sold Winfield China and his territory was New Rochelle and Mt. Vernon; his clients were middle class NegroesHe chose his territory.  He often took me with him and as a consequence my only experience with the Black community as a young teen was lemonade, cookies and a serious caveat to be quiet and respectful.  What I saw were working people with nice flats and good jobs. They didn’t seem very different to me than any other people.  Civil rights occupied his conscience and troubled him deeply.  From this I learned things I assumed everyone knew.  I was angry when I found that was not the case.The March on Washington was my father’s march.  And mine.  He had a seat – spiritually – at every sit-in and our worst falling out was when I called him a bigot after he told me I couldn’t go to Selma.  The reason: he was afraid white people would kill me.  He taught me the N-word was the worst word a person could utter. His beliefs and moral outrage never left me and when Barack Obama ran for president I could imagine how my father would have felt.  And I was sad because he didn’t live to experience this sublime moment in the advancement of his cherished thoughts.  I know I voted for Obama, at least partly, as a result of my father’s wisdom.  And I know that I cast my ballot for Obama and his platform from a deep and precious place – a place that would never have been born and never have flourished without the dreams from my father. 

Prop 8 – Part Two November 8, 2008

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Part Two

Here is why Mormon money and Prop 8 don’t work for me.  I loathe hypocrisy and I loathe deception and  I really don’t like sneaky, secretive old white men telling people that “God said _____________”  Fill in the blank.    The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints has some gall,  colossal nerve and sinister smugness trying to shove this holier than thou crap on the public.  And the use of the word “traditional”really seals the deal for me.  Let’s look at Mormon marriage.  Mormons take marriage very seriously.  Which is fine.  But instead of a joyful family celebration, Mormon weddings tend to be bleak and depressing.  Don’t let the Youtube Mormon wedding videos fool you.  That is all done before the rites take place.  Things get dramatically, well,  dramatic once the man and woman leave the safety of kith and kin and enter the Sanctum Sanctorum.  Instead of trying to describe in my own words I direct you to this link that will really leave you speechless. (Complete with circles and arrows and “the secret garment”).  FYI:They also wear a fig leaf when getting hitched).  http://http://www.lds-mormon.com/veilworker/endowment1.shtml

By my own standards this is anything but “traditional” marriage as I have come to know it.  It is secret (and therefore it may be silly and/or shameful) and exclusionary and frankly odd.  Most Gay couple just have a wedding or go to City Hall.  Most straight people do too.  Orthodox Jewish weddings are quite ritualized but anyone can watch.  Mormonism is a faith founded on polygamy by its “Prophet Joseph Smith” and some writing that he translated from “Reformed Egyptian” in secret.  In 1890, to become a state in the union it banned plural marriage.  Not very well apparently because it is still practiced by some Mormon Americans in defiance of numerous laws.  FYI – when it says “plural marriage – it means wives.  Woman don’t have plural husbands and they don’t have equal rights.  Neither do children.  They also swap wives in these fundamentalist sects – but the women don’t get to say yes or no.) To have been audacious enough to support a change to the California constitution to exclude human citizens from marriage should strike you as hilarious on many levels – it isn’t.  Prop 8, it is claimed, was done for moral reasons.  A religion based on secret ceremonies and handshakes; marrying dead people to each other so they will be together in Heaven for eternity so they will land on the planet Kobol and become God makes them uniquely unqualified to tell other folks how to live their lives by my moral standards.  But then I don’t judge gay people who want to get married.  We have separation of church and state and  I don’t believe religious money,influences, groups and advocates should have standing to amend any constitution in this country.  It inflicts religious behavior on America citizens.  I think lawmakers should make the laws for everyone. Same sex marriage threatens NO ONE.  The LDS should be ashamed of itself and I suggest they ay not stop at Prop 8.  In closing ,I also think that having Mormon missionaries at your door qualifies as a Close Encounter of the Third Kind.   You may even find yourself beamed up.  Gay trekkies take note.

Prop 8 – In Defense of Traditional Marriage? November 7, 2008

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“Proposition 8 is a California State ballot proposition that would amend the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. It would overturn a recent California Supreme Court decision that had recognized same-sex marriage in California as a fundamental right. The official ballot title language for Proposition 8 was “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry”; the entirety of the text added to the constitution was: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

This is all it said.  When you read it sounds kind of simple and silly.  I mean who has the right to decide who can marry?  Why should anyone care?   

There used to be a law that kept miscegenation from happening in this country. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept I quote Wiki: Miscegenation comes from the Latin miscere, “to mix” and genus, “kind”. The word was coined in the U.S. in 1863, and the etymology of the word is tied up with political conflicts during the American Civil War over the abolition of slavery and over the racial segregation of African-Americans. The reference to “genus” was made to emphasize the supposedly distinct biological differences between whites and non-whites. In fact, all humans belong to the same genus, Homo, to the same species, Homo sapiens and to the same subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens. The folks who wrote Prop 8 made sure there would be no confusion about terminology.

The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution – which trumps the states says this:“Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

It also says that if one state says something is legal in the said state, then the other states have to respect it.  Equal justice and equal rights are the primary issue that Prop 8 addresses and it is simply wrong..  Its inclusion into the state constitution creates a special class of citizen who is not permitted to fully experience or enjoy the privileges and rights guaranteed to others.  In fact it ensures that people who are homosexuals are not equal citizens of this country and thus not governed by the same laws nor given the same rights the constitution guarantees in Amendment 14.  In essence: “Round ’em up and keep them all together where you can make sure they don’t want things “regular” people want. ”  Sonofabitch.  Maybe we should whup ’em and sell ’em too?

The supporters don’t care. The claim they make is this : “we need to protect traditional marriage and to restore marriage”.  To be perfectly honest I had no idea that marriage was being threatened.  There was a time when “living together” was a big deal and I think marriage was feared to be threatened then, but now weddings are very popular and except for people like Gene Simmons, lots of folks want to get married.  That works for me.  Some people don’t.  That’s fine too.  And it is a widely discussed decision between people who are facing marriage.  Neither the state nor the union has any  specific moral requirement for marriage.  I was married in a civil union ceremony in a judges’ chambers.   He said I was married and although no clergy were present and no religious prayers were uttered – he said it was marriage all the same.   I’m happy.   (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_union). 

But there is a hidden agenda lurking in picture and  it really makes things sticky. Why?  Because the majority of this proposition was underwritten by the Mormon Church.  God help us if the Jews had tried this (and there are plenty of religious Jews who don’t approve of or accept same-sex unions.  But they didn’t try to change the California constitution.  Way too smart for that.)  Go to this blog for a donor tracker – it takes hours to go through but you can sure see who is and isn’t your supporter http://atomicgaywonk.blogspot.com/2008/08/proposition-8-money-tracking-resources.html.  It’s worth your time.

 But why, of all people, do the kinda’ odd Mormons imagine they have some duty to protect traditional marriage?   They say it is a moral question and my feeling is that civil laws do not decide what is moral.   The best judge on earth will tell you that the law deals with legal statutes and not morality questions.  If the Mormons don’t want same sex Mormon marriage – that’s their choice.  The same goes for the Christian church, the Jews, the Muslims and the Hindus.  Your faith, your rules. Leave it if you don’t like it.  You see though, once this kind of agenda gets attention and support it become insidious.  If we can do this – hmmm- why not try something else?  They are a missionary faith – they invade the privacy of homes to sell their beliefs and they actively seek converts.  That’s one way they got to talk about the Proposition 8 on a one to one basis with folks.  And it worked.  For the informed minds or minds that want to be informed, part two continues this post and there are some really good parts – so try to read it too,

In any event I am stewed like a prune about this whole Prop 8 matter and actively support the Gay on every level.  They are right to be outraged.  I am outraged.

Barack Obama November 5, 2008

Posted by voolavex in Uncategorized.
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President Elect of the United States.

We have gotten a second chance for this country.  Thank God

No Health Insurance. The 47,000,000 Left Behind November 1, 2008

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I have no health insurance.  Period.  I have an untreatable disease that ideally should be monitored about twice a year and biopsied about every five years.  My last biopsy – in 2003 was under insurance and cost $10,000.  It came out better than hoped for and so I dodged a bullet.  I should have another one but I don’t have the money.  Even if I did, I have the “pre-existing condition” that no one even looked for 16 years ago.  I could (not will , but I might ) cost some insurance company a lot of money in the future and they are not in the business of healthcare they are in the business of mismanaging funds and saying “no”. I am a bad risk. 
 
I am fortunate to live in a city where a serious, full time Free Clinic,  treats anyone – not anything – but enough to get you through the year. It is supported by endowments, donations (large and small) and the time and energy of real doctors who do at least a rotation there. Philanthropists and humanitarians.  I get blood work once a year to let me know if I am about to need major surgery or if I have developed a worse condition known as cancer.  So far I have been lucky.  Waiting in the clinic is not a hardship nor is being assembly lined through.  The fact is that the care is more personal and considerate than the average doctor visit.  I am going for this year’s blood test next week.  My feeling is that it will be okay.  If not, it doesn’t matter because I can’t afford to treat it or try to fix it or do anything but have it become worse.  So  maybe I am a tiny bit concerned.
 
This is not a cry for sympathy – it is what 47 million Americans, including myself) face every day.  It is a result of managed care which should be in the hands of doctors not number crunchers.  I should get the same care as a Senator who technically is my employee. One should not have to work to get the benefit of insurance.  I wonder – is it really your employer’s job to care for your health? I am not informed enough to say.  I can’t fathom who is greedier, Blue Cross (and its ilk) or Doctor Somebody and his malpractice insurance payments or the government who things it is pinko to have healthy citizens.  I do know that $5000 a year tax credit is a dirty joke coming from a man with millions.  The older you get the more you need care.  Starting at about fifty. The ludicrousness of shopping for insurance is insulting.  The only person you should be concerned with choosing is your doctor.  Insurance companies decide who gets what treatment and they don’t use common sense or kindness to do it.  We are the only developed country that does not insure their citizen’s health.  This makes us underdeveloped in a very basic way.  Does a nation of healthy people make us socialists? Okay – call me names.   I still would rather be a healthy American than dead at an early age because of nomenclature and labels.