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Just One Day and So Many Fools April 1, 2014

Posted by voolavex in Social Issues.
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March went out with a short squirt.  April 1st is chilly.

I imagine most cogent people have some sort of love/hate relationship with the Internet.  I do. In our 15 year romance we have spent far too much time together.  I have found and met many people I would like to know better.  I have shopped online and thus no longer cruise the shops in general (sort of sad too).  I play far too much Angry Birds. But the downside is the information and lies I find everyday.  And I have figured out that it is possible to know too much about everything because everything known is not always knowledge. (Bet you wish you had used that one Rummy).  

Having been a Luddite spin doctor in the 80’s I know the value of the media and I also know how it is manipulated and used to make or break almost anything.  Put another way – the Internet has turned this  mechanical spinning into an acid trip.   We can eliminate the word “discovery” from our reality (assuming this is one) because there is nothing unknown under the sun or if there is you will know it in a second.  If this were coming from people with any sense of proportion or vestigial dignity – it might be okay – but it is a tabloid covered world.  And we are all susceptible to it.  If you say you are not you are probably deluding yourself.  Be careful – someone with take a picture of you in this state of mind and upload it somewhere and your dilemma will soon be the object of worldwide ridicule.  Viral.

Full disclosure:  I watch TV and I like TV.  I am torn between really enjoying the dramas I like but then wondering if they are actually training films for a specific audience.  I know I will not be quite as squeamish about autopsies. “Victim or perpetrator – it seems we are being watched.”  This does not come as a shock to me but I wonder why it comes as one to so many others.  As a species we are not a very nice lot.  The Internet is a dream come true. We covet and envy and want what is usually not easily available to us.  Technology, countries, oil, money in large amounts, sex.  As the ability to “spy” gets better and better and easier and easier – we have embraced spying with a vengeance.  But, in the words of Tom Lehrer – “always be sure to call it research”.  

Do the terms beta version, beta testing, focus group slink by you so often you no longer pay attention?  Not a good idea.  We are being made part of a global family of guinea pigs.  Every time a bank or  grocer or credit card gets a swipe from your “rewards” card – believe me they first reward themselves.   None of this comes to me as a shock.  Occam’s Razor – usually the simplest answer is the right one.  If any of those aforementioned places really wanted to reward us they would give better interest rates, sell goods at much better prices and dispense with the little plastic cards.  Businesses, the governments of the world, religions, arms dealers and even nice folks are finding out things about you that you thought were secrets locked in your own head.  Wrong.  We can fight it or yield to it but we have become so delighted to have these little perks that they will continue.  We will no longer be as surprised as we once were and we will soon eliminate naiveté from the world.  It still exists so enjoy it while you can. There is a preciousness to it – it’s in the eyes of a newborn creature but it doesn’t last very long.  In a not too distant future it will vanish and as we look back and try to regain the feeling it gave us – we will realize that for the last 15 years or so – everyday has been April Fool’s Day.

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.