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Thursday, October 29, 2009

We Thought We Were Making a Difference

It's almost a year since I climbed aboard a bus in Austin and rode for almost 24 hours up to Cleveland to spend a week going house-to-house, head-to-head, asking people to vote as early as possible and for the only candidate worthy of their vote, Barack Obama and then, on Nov. 7, 2008, to sit in the Cadillac Cafe, surrounded by hundreds of other "fired-up" volunteers and some local political figures, to watch our candidate move steadily toward victory. It was a wonderful experience and for the first time since the assassination of JFK, I knew that our political system could work and that all of us had a stake in the political process.

After the long ride back to Austin and a return to "business as usual" the glow of victory and the sense of real accomplishment burned on and we waited for our victorious leader to call us back to arms, to fight the good fight and expand our sphere of influence. We would not accept eight more years of the same old stuff in Washington- the lobbyists and the crooked politicians were going to have to make career change- or so we thought. Now we know. It was all just a dream a "smoke and mirrors" pony show put on by the real leaders who are now ensconced in the White House calling the shots.

The naive, idealistic volunteers have no place in the Obama machine now. We've served our purpose and are now relegated to the landfills with all the rest of society's "disposables". We never sought power or individual recognition, just a chance to "make a difference" and messieurs Axelrod, Emmanuel and the others knew that from the very beginning. We were just "warm bodies", "cannon fodder", in the political struggle and now the real generals are left to plot and execute strategies to expand and strengthen their own political power.

Where does President Obama stand in all of this? Will history see him as another "Bushie", dangling from Cheyney's strings (read Obama dangling and Axelrod/Emmanuel the string pullers)? Or is Barack Obama actually the Ringmaster?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Obama & the Lama (or now we know who our real friends are)

PHAYUL: Dalai Lama meeting with Obama was not planned, says White House | Daily Babel

When I was a boy in New York, we knew that the real men, the kind you could trust, they were "Standup Guys" and all the others were "losers".

Barack Obama is sliding down the slippery slope to loser land at an ever-quickening pace. He bailed out the GM fat cats, threw a big wad of dough at the Wall St. Gang and equivocates like a true-blue Republican on Health Care. Now he decides no to stand-up for the Dalai Lama so the Chinese will "like" him but he'll get no respect from the Beijing crowd. In fact, chances are they'll push him around like a puff-ball the next time there's a meet.
It looks like our President will soon learn that his predecessor, honest Abe, was right.
"You can fool some of the people, some of the time...but you can't fool all of the people all of the time"
And I can't help saying "Barack, you already fooled me once"

C'mon Barack, show us what you've got- before it's too late

Monday, September 07, 2009

From the "Nouvel Obs", June 6, 2009

"Suicide des personnes âgées : les professionnels dénoncent l'indifférence"

(Translation "Mental Health Professionals Denounce Public Indifference to Suicide by Seniors"

Le diagnostic de dépression est difficile à faire chez des sujets âgés (Reuters)

Le diagnostic de dépression est difficile à faire chez des sujets âgés (Reuters) Clinical diagnosis of depression is particularly difficult to do with the elderly.

"Les personnes âgées se suicident en moyenne beaucoup plus que le reste de la population, surtout après 85 ans..

10 fois plus que le reste de la population"

The incidence of suicide among Seniors, (especially those over 85) is ten times greater than that of the general poulation. In fact, whereas 17 out of 100,000 persons in the general population commit suicide, 44 out 100,000 people in the 85-94 age bracket successfully terminate their own lives.

Isn't that awful? Or is it? What if suicide wasn't illegal - what would the figures look like then? How many older citizens would prefer a quiet, painless death to the daily routine of chronic pain, suffering, loneliness, ignominy and boredom that is the way it is for so many in their "golden years"? Perhaps it's time we reviewed our legal stautes and attitudes concerning the right to choose our time and method of death. Shouldn't we have the right to decide when life is no longer worth living? When "the game is not worth the candle" (This phrase relates to occupations, games etc. that were thought so lacking in merit that it wasn't worth the expense of a candle to create enough light to partake in them.) The Eskimos used to take grandma or grandpa for a walk in the arctic wilderness when old age had robbed him or her of the "joie de vivre" - we shoot horses don't we?

Not withstanding the recent brouhaha over the "death tribunals" , we must take this matter seriously and there should be public discussion and polite/civil debate on the issue. Oregon has led the way with the first bit of civilised legislation and perhaps soon other states will follow suit so that I can live out my last days in the company of my family. We also will need to develop the technology that quiet, painless transitions and the social services to assist in the process but obviously bearing in mind that a permissive public attitude towards assisted suicide be restricted to older (post 75) citizens who are still capable of rational thought and/or anyone suffering from uncurable, debilitating disease.
"It's time now, folks"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Health Care Reform Myths and Reality

Since the dawn of civilization, men and women have created myths to explain things they couldn't understand. "The rise and setting oof the sun"," What causes the rain?" "How are babies made?", "What happens when we die? etc.
Even now, we create myth when faced with inexplicable events like the assassination of JFK, the death of Elvis, droughts and hurricanes.
Many of us find change, difficult to handle. We don't always welcome it and often do what we can to postpone or prevent it. So it's no surprise that the prospect of fundamental modifications in our health care delivery system has created a climate of stress and discomfort for many.

One of the many myths about the health system that are currently making the rounds of Town Halls, bar rooms and barber shops is the one about "Living Wills" or advance health care directives.

Several years ago, my stepmother was critically injured in a head-on collision. She suffered significant brain damage and remained in a coma, without regaining consciousness, until her death, three months after the accident. After three months in a coma, her attending physician asked me as head of the family, to decide whether my step-mother's life should continue to be sustained via life-prolonging procedures. She had shown no signs of consciousness during the three months in the hospital and the EKG showed no brain activity. I consented to the termination of all life-prolonging procedures and she stopped breathing almost immediately. I arranged for cremation- there was no funeral. I had been close to my stepmother for more than thirty years and I was certain that she would have wanted for things to be handled the way I had decided and when I told my siblings and my stepmother's mother what I had decided and how I had come to the decision they all agreed that it was the right thing to do.

Now we hear many misguided and perhaps ignorant people in Town Halls across America talking about "Death Directives" and "Pulling the plug on Grandma", their words for the Living Will procedures offered in the proposed Health Care Reform Bill.
Living Wills are instruments that every one of us can and should execute to insure that when and if it becomes necessary to decide on matters concerning how we wish to die and how our bodies should be treated after death, it will be our decision and the responsibility not left to a hospital employee, a grief stricken relative or the courts. Only the truly ignorant or liars would call a Living Will a death directive

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Evolutionary Trail to Oblivion

This article is absolutely Politically incorrect.
Creationists and those with over-developed political sensitivity and the squeamish should go somewhere else.

Over the last two centuries or so, Americans have behaved according to the established rules of natural selection.
The captains of high school football teams have pursued and been pursued by Homecoming Queens and they have produced prodigious numbers of fullbacks and pom-pom girls. The end result can be currently observed in Town Halls across the country where the descendants of the first football heroes and cheerleaders are demanding that the "Government keep their hands of my Medicare" and other similarly absurd political nonsense.
Under ordinary conditions, significant changes in evolutionary development would take hundreds of years -usually thousands but thanks to the intensive effort of the footbal heroes and their partners we have evidently created a new sub-species in a few generations. We can now see a dramatic lowering of the IQ's of a growing proportion of the population, whose role models or icons, are creatures like Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and most of the minority party representatives in Congress. Within a few generations, unless a way is found to reverse the current trend, the United States population will be intellectually challenged and most of the unemployed will be permanently unemployable.

Who or what can we identify as the basic causes of this disturbing or rather disastrous situation?
First, our business leaders, the makers and marketers of a wide range of consumer goods, from autos to water pics, Asprin to Xanax have benefitted greatly from the "dumbing down" of consumers who have been trained to accept advertising messages with complete credulity and never question anything said in the mass media and the educational establishment has eagerly cooperated by recruiting and training teachers who, for the most part, are completely innocent of any intellectual curiosity or critical thinking capacity. The need for an expanding volunteer army has also created a need for thousands of young soldiers who will follow the orders of their superiors with zeal and spirit without question and integrate government propaganda into their belief systems-permanently

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If Obama Doesn't "Make it Happen"

We're Screwed
Brooks of the NYT wrote today:
"The great paradox of the age is that Barack Obama, the most riveting of recent presidents, is leading us into an era of Congressional dominance. And Congressional governance is a haven for special interest pleading and venal logrolling."

Like a bridge designed by a committee

You can trust the U.S. Congress to make a dog's breakfast out of anything it touches

Friday, June 26, 2009

Born in '34-Donald Duck, The Dalai Lama and I

We were born in the same year. We're all, or soon will be, 75. Which one of us will be remembered 15 or 125 years from now? Totally rhetorical. It's gotta be "Uncle Donald". Among the hundreds of characters turned out by the Disney machine, Donald Duck was one of the very few that I could relate to. His irascibility, even in my childhood was easy to identify with. He understood how terribly daffy, people (like ducks) could be.
Shouldn't the Dalai Lama get top billing over the duckster? Yes, he should but he won't even though the His Holiness is one of the most human beings I know and his compassion and empathy plus his incredible intelligence should put him on top but it's his perfection that eliminates him from the starring role. He's just "too good".

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Republican Party's Moral Bankruptcy- Chapter/Section 8

Long ago, when I was a young Marine, some guys were separated from the service because they were unfit for service due to mental disability. It was referred to as a "Section 8 Discharge" Now we have an entire political party showing symptoms of moral and ethical disability. Under the circumstances I think they should file for bankruptcy and total reorganization. Would that be Chapter 8?
The severe strain of dealing with the misrule of one of their own, a 6th generation Republican stalwart, followed by an embarassing defeat in the last elections due in least in part to the nomination of a candidate in advanced state of early senile dementia paired with a VP to be,who though not senile, was and still is, severely demented, and currently, the party's worst "nut cases" leading their caucus.

Let's face it guys it's time for you Republican "leaders" to give up, say uncle and walk away. Let's have a brand new second party, one led by mentally competent individuals who can provide a conservative opposition without the kind o "Lonney Tunes" behavior that we've seen lately.
It worked in Lincoln's time (though he may be spinning in his tomb when he sees the way the "Party of Lincoln" has turned out) Maybe somebody can do it again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Religion- Opium or Salvation?

Since 2004 I have made four trips from my home in Texas to Southeast Asia. Each had a "spritual" aspect and each one was interesting and rewarding but not the life-changing experience I had envisioned. I studied meditation techniques at a Monastery in northern Thailand and learned to focus my mind quicker and easier. I spent a month in Nepal and learned a great deal about Tibetan Buddhist practice and the Dharma and discovered that not withstanding Gautama Buddha's instructions to the contrary, many apparently intelligent practitioners that I met tended to ascribe divine powers to the Buddha and their teachers and worship them accordingly.

Now, I find myself in India at an international community known as Auroville where the founder insisted in her teachings that anyone, from anywhere in the world, could find the path to wisdom and enlightenment, providing they were willing to leave their religion behind. An idea that I found personally appealing and eminently sensible but discovered that the Aurovillians I have encountered have merely traded their "Old time religion" Christian, Buddhist, Bahai whatever, for the worship of "The Mother" and Sri Aurobindo. Today, I found a four page printout of songs, poems and writings extolling the divine virtues of the founder and her Guru.

The almost completed heart of Auroville is a six story golden spere with the world's largest crystal ball illuminated by a giant "sun tunnel" that is a ostensibly a meditation center (and would serve that purpose very well) is treated by the staff and the Aurovillians as the inner sanctum, the holy of holies.

Recent research on the evolutionary development of the brain would seem to suggest that man could be genetically prewired for religion and a belief in some divine being. Students of religious history wlll also confirm that there is a strong tendency for those associated with any new spiritual movement to try to create a hierarchy and complex dogma around the initially simple and universally admired messages of Great Teachers like Lao tse,Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ and Mohammed.
Apparently "Great Ideas, like the Sermon on the Mount, the Sutras etc" are not enough unless they are packaged with "mystery", divine inspiration, miracles and other evidence of supernatural, "divine power"

Twitter Your Life Away

Has anyone stopped to wonder why Twitter, Myface, Youtube and similar sites have grown exponentially over the past five years? Obviously, they were created to fill an existing need, the need of the current generation (particularly), and most of those born in the post WWII era,for 'real" connections with other humans via electronic devices for want of any other method.

Mental health practitioners in the first half of the last century were known as "Alienists" and were primarily concerned with helping patients connect to the world around them. So the apparent need has been with us for a very long time and probably has its' roots in the industrial revolution and the ensuing rapid growth of cities.

Since then entrepreneurs in the U.S. and elsewhere have sought to exploit the apparent demand with "quick buck" commercial applications. The end result, however has been to exacerbate the situation. Twittering is no substitute for real,face-to-face contact. Even when I can see your face on "My Face" it still gives me very little information about what you're actually thinking or feeling.

When I was a boy, I would walk miles to avoid using the phone and when someone insisted that I call before visiting, I didn't visit.
Call me a curmudgeon but just like Popeye, ("I y'am what I y'am) and offer no apologies

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Beginning of the End and it too Will Pass

The governor of "The Great State of Texas" told his audience of dedicated "Teabaggers" that if the federal government didn't get straightened out and stop trying to get the super-rich to pay their fair share of income taxes, Texas just might secede from the Union. Deja vue all over again. Last time it was about slavery and now it's proportional income tax. Better get out your Confederate money boys- the South's about to rise again. Or is Perry just whistling Dixie? Just for his sake I hope he is because sedition is a federal offense.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ali A. Rizvi: Religious Fundamentalism Spreads... Beyond Islam

Ali A. Rizvi: Religious Fundamentalism Spreads... Beyond Islam: "I learned about the 'Anti-Christ' from priests who could have been the current Pope's uncles.
They taught us to look carefully under the bed for the devil every night before going to bed and that just thinking about sex was a mortal sin. Now, the new Anti-Christ, aka 'Benedictus PP. XVI' has taken the Catholic Church and its doctrines to a new low- relegating the Holocaust- denying Cardinal to the shadows.
Bennedino's current insanity shows just how absolutely ruthless 'Holy Mother Church' can be when it comes to 'propagating the faith'
It reminds me of something the judge said when she pronounced verdict on O.J. Simpson in his trial for armed robbery. She told Simpson and everyone in the courtroom that, when she began the trial, she wondered whether Simpson was arrogant or stupid when he committed his crimes but after hearing all the testimony and evidence, she realized that he was both: 'arrogant and stupid'. I think we could say the same about 'Benedictus PP. XVI'"

TODAY IN THE HUNTINGTON POSTAli A. Rizvi: Religious Fundamentalism Spreads... Beyond Islam

In the same week that Hindu fundamentalists obliterated plans to build a Charlie Chaplin statue, on the grounds that Chaplin was a Christian who made no contribution to India, video clips of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Varun Gandhi surfaced online, showing him glorifyingly speaking of "cutting the throats" of Muslims, and mocking their "scary" names.

Meanwhile, the Hindu nationalist group Sri Ram Sena vowed to continue its attacks on women drinking in bars and couples courting in public -- expanding their target population to include female British tourists in the city of Goa.

In the Varun Gandhi videos, Hindu extremist groups like the Taliban-inspired anti-statue, anti-woman Sri Ram Sena may feel as if they've found a high-profile voice: Varun is the grandson of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and the great-grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, a declared secularist and atheist who couldn't have been more removed from his descendant's crazed religion-fueled nationalist diatribes.

It isn't just the Hindus. Mere days after ending the controversy over his lifting of the excommunication of Holocaust denier and 9/11 conspiracy theorist Bishop Richard Williamson, Pope Benedict XVI decided to elaborate further on his view that abstinence works 100% of the time as a birth control method (right, ask The Virgin Mary how well that worked for her) by declaring that the use of condoms aggravates the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Now, the Pope has publicly pulled several other Ahmedinejads in the past. He has written that homosexuality is an "intrinsic moral evil" and an "objective disorder." He has also claimed that non-Catholics are in a "gravely deficient situation," without the "fullness of the means of salvation." Most recently, the Vatican declared its support for the Brazilian Church's decision to excommunicate of a group of doctors who performed an abortion on a 9-year old girl -- pregnant with twins -- as a result of being raped by her stepfather.

The Pope's homophobia and bigoted statements about non-Catholics who don't necessarily think Jesus is their savior aren't all that different from Varun Gandhi's Muslim-bashing -- which, in turn, isn't all that different from the sentiments that fuel the ideology of the Taliban. There are millions of people in the world who think that way.

However, these two examples are unique: one of these men is the most significant spiritual and religious leader in the world, and the other belongs to a family that gave the world's largest democracy three of its most legendary prime ministers, including its first.

So, is Talibanization going mainstream? To religions beyond Islam?

Well, we know that the Catholic authorities aren't throwing acid on teenage girls' faces like the Taliban do. That, actually, is something that Jerusalem's Jewish Haredi Modesty Patrol did to a 14 year old girl last year. Her crime? Wearing pants. In the same week as the Pope's condom controversy and Varun's inflammatory videos made news, a member of the Modesty Patrol was sentenced to four years in prison in a separate incident -- a sexual gang assault on a divorced woman.

Although it's tempting to dismiss these incidents as aberrations, religious extremism and bigotry do seem to be going mainstream in Israel. On the same day that the Modesty Patrol mercenary was sentenced, news broke that Avigdor Lieberman, the right-wing hardliner whose Israel Beiteinu party had a strong showing in Israel's recent elections, is in consideration as Israel's next foreign minister.

Lieberman is a man who has, among other things, openly advocated the expulsion of Israeli Arabs from the Promised Land, and offered to provide buses to transport Palestinian prisoners to the Dead Sea, where he has recommended drowning them.

More disturbingly, Lieberman suggested in 2006 that Israel should conduct itself in Gaza like Russia did in Chechnya, that is, without any concern for civilian deaths. This moves the issue beyond the realm of aberrant extremist ideology, not only because Lieberman is now a prominent leader in the Knesset possibly destined to become Israel's foreign minister, but because his suggestion was put into practice in a significant way during Israel's recent offensive in Gaza.

In last week's investigation into the Israel-Gaza conflict, IDF soldiers talked about how they were encouraged to kill Palestinian civilians. They also described how the assault was framed as a religious war by military rabbis, who distributed literature to the troops saying among other things that this was a holy war, that "we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land" and that they needed to "fight to expel the Gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land." Somehow, Israeli authorities appear to be drawing inspiration -- like Hamas -- from the likes of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Taliban.

Meantime, the Adiv fabric-printing shop in south Tel Aviv sold hundreds of T-shirts, caps, and other items of clothing custom-made for Israel soldiers, featuring pictures of dead children and bombed mosques. Included was one of a dead baby clutching his teddy bear, his mother weeping at his side, bearing the inscription, "Better Use Durex."

In Canada, a different aspect of religious fundamentalism surfaced last week, when Federal Science and Technology Minister Gary Goodyear, a central figure in the controversy over the science funding crunch in the country, was asked whether he believed in evolution. He refused to answer. "I'm not going to answer that question," he said. "I am a Christian, and I don't think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate." The Pope, I'm guessing, would have been a little more unequivocal in his response.

These events, most of which occurred in the span of one week, are reflective of a dangerous resurgence of religious fundamentalism in non-Islamic countries. The most perplexing part of it is that it isn't just limited to a few seemingly random incidents fueled by fringe extremist groups. The characters in these stories -- the Pope, a member of India's Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, a powerful Knesset leader, and a Canadian federal minister -- are influential, mainstream figures whose ideas and decisions impact the lives of billions of people every day...

In the same week that Hindu fundamentalists obliterated plans to build a Charlie Chaplin statue, on the grounds that Chaplin was a Christian who made no contribution to India, video clips of Bharatiya...
In the same week that Hindu fundamentalists obliterated plans to build a Charlie Chaplin statue, on the grounds that Chaplin was a Christian who made no contribution to India, video clips of Bharatiya...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Investor's Business Daily: Indexes Sink Deeper In Late Trading

Investor's Business Daily: Indexes Sink Deeper In Late Trading

It looks like Obama's statement about punishment for the people responsible for the current economic crisis will be punished for their greed and irresponsibility has been answered by a 5% drop at the NYSE.
It looks like the Traders are going to go down fighting.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Op-Ed Columnist - Continuity We Can Believe In -

Op-Ed Columnist - Continuity We Can Believe In -

The terribly sad realities of politics; Krugman on economics and

William Kristol on foreign policy to remind us that

"La plus ca change, plus c'est la meme choses"
especially in politics

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Products : What will Apple pull out of its hat next? - Nachrichten English-News - WELT ONLINE

New Products : What will Apple pull out of its hat next? - \ WELT ONLINE

It's not about the iPhone, even though it is the hottest piece of technology in the world (at this moment on January 9, 2009) but it is about Steve Jobs, a facsinating archetype of his era his industry and his culture. Currently known as "Baby Boomers" people born in the post war era are still under the impression that everything is all about them. Their's was originally known as the "Me Generation" until they reached positions of power in the media and related industries and were able to soft-pedal their extraordinary egotism and arrogance by substituting "baby boomers" for the original "me generation" title. We must wonder if the accomplishments of Jobs, Gates and some of their prominent contemporaries like Stepen Spielberg and Bill Clinton can ever justify the way each of them has completely flaunted what could be considered our common standards of ethics and (in some cases) morals.
Looking back at the youthful behavior of the "boomers" -(1965-1975) and their later "mature" years. The pattern appears clear and we must breathe a sigh of relief that the era of power for the boomers is drawing to a close. Bill Clinton will probably never again air his bombastic rhetoric before national audiences. Gates and Microsoft have ridden the giant wave almost as far as it's going to go . Time for a changing of the guard with Larry Page and Sergy Brin of Google ready to move in and take up the slack left by their aging predecessors. Can we expect more humility and compassion from the new guard? Time we'll tell but I doubt it.