Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Uninsured Health Insurance Holocaust

video

http://grayson.house.gov/

Equal Justice For All

Back in 1977 film director Roman Polanski was charged with raping a 13 year old girl who he plied with champagne and Quaaludes. He admitted his full guilt in court, and certain other charges like sodomy were dropped as part of a plea deal. Before everything was finalized he became concerned that the Judge would go back on the deal, and Polanski fled the country. Since then he has been living a life of luxury while “on the lam.” He has chic houses in Switzerland, France, and Poland.

He has many high powered supporters, especially artists, who say that he is no longer a threat to society, and that all this old baggage should just be forgotten and swept under the carpet. They seem to be saying that successful artistic types don’t need to obey the same laws as everyone else. There is some logic to what his supporters are saying, but they are ignoring an important issue.

In a society which operates under the rule-of-law the laws and justice must be applied equally whether you are some destitute out of work black guy, or a member of the super-rich elite. Polanski admitted to being completely guilty of raping the 13 year old girl after having drugged her and gotten her drunk. He fled the country before the judicial system made a final decision on the appropriate punishment for his crime. He has been a fugitive from justice all these years.

Most people would agree that it is not acceptable for wealthy and powerful men to be able to get away with raping 13 year old girls with impunity anytime that they get the urge. So Polanski needs to be treated like any other fugitive. He is currently in jail in Switzerland awaiting extradition proceedings to bring him back to America. To people who don’t know them, the Swiss seem like simple folks who yodel and make cheese up in the Alps. A gentle, but maybe not too bright group of people.

I have been to Switzerland many times, and I have to say that this television and movie generated stereotype of them is completely incorrect. Don’t forget about the Swiss banks. These people remained neutral during WWII, and they acted as the bankers for everyone - from the Jews who were slaughtered to the Nazis and the American and Russian top military brass who helped themselves to a little of the Nazi plunder.

If I remember the story correctly, every adult male in Switzerland is a member of the Swiss military. They keep their military guns and ammunition at each of their own houses. The Swiss are indeed a very nice people, but they are tough as nails too. Unlike what might happen here in America, you won’t walk all over these people or make fools of them.

I’m glad that Polanski is in jail in Switzerland rather than in one of the countries which have a much more corrupt judicial system. Like the USA.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Paul Krugman & Bill Maher

The two smartest men in America at the moment: Paul Krugman & Bill Maher


video
video

Monday, September 28, 2009

Nuclear Iran

Without any doubt the Muslim leaders of Iran are deceitful. Does their compulsive dishonesty come from them being Arabs, or is it just a muslim trait? Their constant double-dealing makes these people look like retarded fools. The country of Iran has tremendous supplies of petroleum, and there are no uranium mines in Iran. The nut-job leaders in Iran keep saying that they want nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, but everyone knows that they want the bomb. It is almost a lust for them. It is clear.

Lets think about the options.

1. Israel and/or the USA can make John McCain, the religious fanatics, and the right wing happy and bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.

2. By far the most likely outcome is that all the big mouth diplomats at the UN will keep on talking, and dragging their feet, and ringing their hands until the lunatic religious fanatics and dictators in Iran eventually get their nuclear weapons. Just like North Korea and Pakistan did.

What is so different about the Iranians having nuclear weapons than countries like India, Israel, France, Russia, or the USA? In looking at the actions of these countries, one sees that most of them have done some really dumb things over the years. In the democracies of Israel and the USA some very important political decisions have been made upon the basis of religious fanaticism.

In the USA the President Ronald Reagan operated a government within a government so as to give weapons and funds to right wing revolutionary groups. How is this really so much different than the Iranians enjoying the antics of Osama Bin Laden and the glee they felt when watching the twin towers in New York City collapse? The big difference is when dealing with the government of country is that one has rational people in place who soon realize the futility of mutually assured destruction.

When one is dealing with radicals who move from country to country, one is not necessarily dealing with rational individuals who have any stake in the game. People who use their religion to encourage suicide by having innocents blow themselves up are clearly not the types of people you want to have nuclear weapons.

I certainly am not supporting the idea that it is OK for Iran to be a nuclear state. I wholeheartedly support nuclear disarmament and efforts to stop proliferation. But Iran getting the bomb seems pretty inevitable doesn’t it? This may well be one of those times when negotiation is appeasement, and the only way to solve the problem is through action.

Saddam Hussein was a really bad guy, but he did not have weapons of mass destruction. But the lunatic religious fanatics who have taken over control of Iran soon will. For sure.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bill Cinton on the Right Wing Lunatics

This is a nice short video of ex-president Bill Clinton today on one of the Sunday news shows. It is full of wisdom.


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video

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Social Cleansing

During the last decade we have all grown to understand the concept of Ethnic Cleansing. The new idea which we need to get used to is called Social Cleansing.

In much of South and Central America, including in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras Social Cleansing is a common phenomenon. Social Cleansing is defined as the targeted elimination of people or groups within a society who are considered to be undesirable, worthless, or dangerous. So this type of cleansing has nothing to do with one’s ethnicity. But if you are in the lowest socioeconomic class, and you are a drug addict or a drug dealer, it is basically not dangerous to murder you. There is almost no chance that the murder will ever be investigated or that you will be prosecuted or convicted.

Mexico can now be added to the list of countries where execution of these undesirables who are considered disposable human beings is fully accepted and practiced on a daily basis.

In Mexico the name given to these drug addicts, the homeless, and other people at the bottom of the social hierarchy is “malandros.” And in Juarez there is almost complete impunity for murdering them.

This is where a country ends up when it ignores honesty, clean politics, and the idea of rule of law. This is also why I find it so offensive when an American law enforcement officer encourages others to break the laws or begins accepting payment under the table for favors done.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Open Letter to Jay Leno

Dear Mr. Leno:

I have watched your show for years. You have been my favorite, for sure. But you went way, way too far over the line last night. Legitimizing Rush Limbaugh by having him on your show? Are you nuts? What has gotten into you Jay?

If Adolph Hitler or Musolini were still alive would you legitimize them and let them drive your green car? You have always seemed like a decent fellow. What made you decide that drug addiction and dishonesty were things which should be celebrated in American society. Is it all about greed and ratings?

I am completely serious about this. I have deleted the automatic program from my DVR to record your show each night. I’ll just go back to watching Letterman and Craig Ferguson.

You really blew it man. You had the respect of millions of Americans, and you lost it all in one very stupid, foolish move.

Sincerely,



H. Paul Garland
El Paso, Texas
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why Has Everyone Become So Rude?

You regularly hear middle aged white guys complaining about this. But it genuinely is a valid question. In the last 10 or 20 years people have gotten much more offensive. Courtesy seems to be so old school.

----- YOU LIE!!!


What happened to civility? And even more important, is there anything that we can do to bring good manners back?

Maybe back in the bad old days people weren’t so anonymous. If you behaved like a complete jerk, people who knew your family would see you. And you didn’t want to disgrace your family. Nowadays we move around so much trying to “get ahead” that many of us no longer have any extended family living nearby.

Not to mention that both men and women have to work now, so our children are being raised by the television set and day care centers. I regularly write terribly negative things about organized religion, but at least those of us who grew up as “believers” learned about right and wrong, good and evil, and being sinful vs. living a good life. Kids now pay about as much attention to concepts like that as they do to proper capitalization. I sometimes read emails from young college graduates who are in their first few years working as school teachers, and I’m amazed how often they mis-spell words, and totally blow off capital letters and proper punctuation. This is from school teachers!

Disrespect for all authority figures, and all rules and regulations. History is useless and irrelevant.

Young people right out of college who have absolutely zero meaningful life experience beyond playing video games and riding skate boards, who honestly think their opinion is as valid (indeed maybe more so) as an elder who has a lifetime of varied experiences and hard knocks which he has learned from.

I guess I’m just another old geezer ranting about this, but in my view this does not bode well for the future of mankind. This lack of civility is not just an American phenomenon either, it is prevalent in most developed countries as well.

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Starship Troopers


One of Robert Heinlein’s finest books is Starship Troopers. It was published in 1959 and won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960. The book has attracted controversy and criticism for its social and political themes.

So not only is this book a very good read, it stimulates your mind by forcing you to think about various societal and political issues.

I enjoyed this book when I read it 40 years ago, and I think I may have actually enjoyed it even more the second time around. It makes one think even more deeply about the subjects he explores in this book after one has had a lifetime of experience to help improve one’s judgement.

LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Troopers

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Well Into The Final Chapter

Once you have had children and they are fully raised, if you don’t have any grandchildren to help out with, then life becomes somewhat less meaningful. When your career ends, and you no longer have to think about all the things that come along with a job, it adds greatly to your sense that you are not particularly needed by anyone or for anything. You are no longer of much use to society, mankind, your colleagues, or even your family.

It would be great if you could immerse yourself in something really worthwhile. Some great social cause to help mankind, or some kind of charity work which genuinely helps people out. I have made several different attempts at volunteering, but nothing has worked out.

I’m sure that having incurable leukemia and constantly fighting the various different infections that accompany a diminishing immune system doesn’t help. The constant knowledge that your allotted time is almost over does begin to wear on you a bit. This sounds really strange, but one of the most important motivators to keep on plugging away each day is that I owe it to my little black doggie. I have a responsibility to him. But if something were to happen to him I have little doubt that this would probably be my cue to go ahead and end this final chapter in my life story.

There are a few people that I do miss. None of my three ex-wives. Not one bit. But I do miss my friend Kathy. I miss my brother Mike and my father too. My Mom was very nice and I loved her a lot, but sometimes I really do miss my Dad. This is strange, because he died in 1977. That was well over 30 years ago. How odd it is that I still think about him and miss his company. I miss the chance to get his advice, even though I often rebelled against it. He was no saint, but he sure was a good man, and he was a great father.

In trying to be cold and analytical about it, I think that in general my Dad might have even been a little proud of me. There are certainly parts of my life story that he would not have approved of, but when in private with his buddies I think he might even have bragged about me a little. I hope so. He did a great job of preparing me for the battles I had to fight over the last 60 years. And I find that as I get near to the final battle, in some ways I have turned out a great deal like him.

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Closing Historic Zavala School in El Paso

EPISD has considered closing several schools, including Zavala Elementary School. I hope that before such a drastic thing is done, El Pasoans will consider the long history of this school and what it says about the path we have traveled to reach the point we’re at.

Zavala School was constructed in 1922; I have seen a slate chalkboard in the oldest portion of the school with a date from the period. According to a 1951 thesis by Robert Leyva at the UTEP Library, Zavala received its name in a contest of local school children; the winning entry was by Toufic Wardy from Franklin School, and he received the $10 prize for his suggestion to name the new school after the Tejano who had been the first vice-president of the Republic of Texas.


The 20th century version of the KKK had come to El Paso in the summer of 1921 according to Shawn Lay’s War, Revolution, and the Ku Klux Klan, with avowed purposes including promoting white supremacy and Protestantism. Although vehemently opposed by the El Paso Times under its editor James Black, the KKK unfortunately gained some local power, and the School Board became anti-Catholic. School principals said to be Catholic came under suspicion, and three principals were dismissed.

There’s a 1951 thesis by Robert Leyva in the UTEP library called "An Historical Sketch of Zavala School. It relates the story of the school’s naming in a contest of school children; the winning entry was by Toufic Wardy from Franklin School, who won the $10 prize.

It also relates that the first principal of Zavala was Mamie Patterson, who had been principal of San Jacinto School for some time. According to Mr. Leyva, the anti-Catholic School Board fired three principals around 1922-1923 including Miss Patterson, a graduate of Ursuline [Catholic]Academy, but she “had enough influence to get re-elected . . .”

"When the Depression was at its worst and there were thousands in El Paso without work, lunch was served free of charge to about 150 children. The Women's Club and other organizations brought food out already cooked in ten gallon cans. . . Miss Patterson dispensed the milk and food . . . with children from upper grades helping with dishwashing. Every child was given a plate of well cooked beans; two slices of bread spread thick with apple butter or jelly, peanut butter, or sometimes butter; and one-half pint . . . of fresh milk. Every teacher did something to raise money to help pay for this food."

During World War II Zavala students "helped the war effort by bringing paper and scrap during certain drives." The teachers had to work until 6 p.m. to give the citizens their ration books, and they were "all dead tired and irritable."

We have historic districts here in El Paso. We also have extraordinarily historic schools. Wouldn’t closing a school with a history so closely tied to so many aspects of El Paso’s past be a very regrettable loss?
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This blog entry is a letter to the editor written by Jan Cannon
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Empty Nest Syndrome




One of the main reasons that The New Yorker magazine is the only paper and ink periodical that I still subscribe to is the wonderful cartoons. Frequently there are topical and interesting articles, but this wouldn’t be enough to keep me coming back.

I truly admire those relatively rare couples who still genuinely like each other after being together for many many years. So often one sees deep seated contempt, almost hatred, between married couples.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Alzheimer's

Since I am past age 60, I think that I have every right (maybe even a duty) to think about and openly discuss the matter of Dementia or Alzheimer’s.

As we age, I think it is probably normal for everyone to consider the possibility of your body outlasting your mind. Most of us have had an older relative or acquaintance who suffered with this prior to death. Dementia is really an appalling course of events. For the younger people, children and friends, to see a parent who no longer even recognizes who they are, must be absolutely hideous. I am told that when many old folks get dementia they become paranoid, mean, and unhappy too. So this person not only does not love you or even know who you are any more, they suspect that you are trying to do bad things to them.

Clearly Dementia or Alzheimer’s is a very horrifying thing. All of my older relatives have already died, so I have now become the stinky, sort of creepy, outspoken older relative. One reads good articles about diagnosing the onset of dementia fairly often. The BBC has one today: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8262388.stm

The problem is, So What?? --Since there is no medical solution to the problem, and there certainly is not a cure, what is so valuable about being able to diagnose (or self diagnose) that some old geezer is starting to show the signs of dementia? I can’t make suggestions for other people. Each person’s situation is very different. But I sure know how I would like to deal with this.

First off, I have no desire to die in some hospital with my arms and legs tied down to the bed. This seems to me like the repugnant sort of torture we read about in the middle ages. But both my grandmother and my mother were tormented this way. When the time comes, I intend to die either in my own bed, or perhaps out in the beautiful desert wilderness of West Texas. When I choose.

Maybe being able to self diagnose the onset of dementia will be useful. Not wishing to go through the torture part of the final chapter, I think it would be entirely reasonable (maybe even rather brave) to make your own decision about when and where to die.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Improving Health Care in America

I just called my local congressman’s office and also the White House in Washington, D.C. at (202) 456-1111 -- I was not able to talk to a human being at either place, so I had to leave a voice mail recorded message for each.

I told them that I had worked in the primary and general election campaigns for President Obama, that I have been a life long Democrat, and a long time supporter of Universal Health Care in America.

But if what it comes down to is forcing poor people to buy private health insurance (i.e., no public option), and then fining these poor people through the IRS if they cannot afford to buy this private health insurance, then the health care plan should simply be shelved.

Obama should veto any health care reform that looks like this. Honestly.
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Afghanistan War

According to an article in the New York Times yesterday, WASHINGTON — The top military commander in Afghanistan warns in a confidential assessment of the war there that he needs additional troops within the next year or else the conflict “will likely result in failure.”

What is missing here is a bit of the truth from the top Generals.

No matter how many more troops the USA pours into Afghanistan they are still going to fail. These career military officers by and large are smart and well educated. But their entire world view has become clouded due to the narrow mindset found among military people. The military culture teaches you to obey orders - maybe even to kiss ass, but certainly not to question the validity of what the top brass is saying.

They seem to have forgotten the lesson that the American military is incapable of being the world’s policeman. They failed in Korea and Vietnam, and they have failed almost every other place the politicians have sent them since WWII. This is not intended to in any way denigrate the US military. The USA spends many times more on warfare and killing than any other country, and we do have the world’s most lethal military. The U.S. military budget is almost equivalent to that of the rest of the world's defense spending combined, and is over eight times larger than that of China, the next biggest spender.

Any country would be foolish to ask their military to fight our military. Unfortunately almost none of the wars we have been involved in since WWII are situations where our guys in uniforms are fighting someone else’s guys in uniforms. In situations where our troops are battling people dressed in civilian clothing, and where our troops don’t even speak the local language, failure is an absolute certainty.

And last, Afghanistan may not be the biggest problem. Pakistan with its nuclear bombs may be the real worry. And the lunatic Muslims who knocked down the world trade center towers in New York City could easily decide to move their base of operations to some other country.

Bankrupting the USA by continuing to spend such massive amounts of money on the military without raising taxes to pay for these wars is short term thinking at its very worst. And since this is a democracy, all taxes going towards military hardware, private contractors, or the troops should be specifically labelled as "war taxes." That way they people will know where their money is going.


LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/21/world/asia/21afghan.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

You Must Buy Health Insurance or We Will Fine You

You must buy health insurance or we will fine you. If you don’t pay the fine you will go to jail.

Watching President Barack Obama defend the concept of forcing people to purchase health insurance, or fining them if they do not, feels a little odd. This is a very heavy handed and brutal approach to solving the problem.

The implicit assumption to this approach is that the people without health insurance are just worthless bums who choose to spend their money on cell phones and junk food rather than buying health insurance for themselves and their families. The reality is that the majority of people who are uninsured are just plain too poor to pay the rent/mortgage, put food on the table, and still have enough money left over to buy health insurance.

There also are many people in America who have lost their jobs because they got sick. So not only are they struggling financially, they have an illness which the insurance companies call a pre-existing condition, so that they are currently uninsurable.

This is entirely the wrong approach that the government is taking. This is the right wing fascist approach. This way of dealing with the problem says: “These poor people and people of color are all just bums and losers.”

All employers, say again 100% of all employers, must be required to provide health insurance to all of their employees both full-time and part-time workers. The company pays 100% of the expense. If their employees have dependents like a spouse or children, they would have to be fully covered too. If we cover all workers, their children and spouses, this leaves a fairly manageable group of uninsured people to deal with. All health insurance would need to provide the exact same benefits, and the cost would be the same for all people regardless of age or health.

The proposed Baucus approach is cumbersome and inefficient. The British solution makes much more sense. Every person in the country has full coverage. And the government funds it. Period. No discussions about visitors or temporary workers or even illegal aliens. EVERYONE is covered.

Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege mostly for the whites or the upper classes.

LINK: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090920/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_health_care_overhaul


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Aztlán

Mexican Americans, or Chicanos, have been trying to popularize the concept of the Republic of Aztlán for roughly 40 years. It is the myth of the legendary ancestral home of the Nahua peoples, one of the main cultural groups in Mesoamerica. "Aztec" is the Nahuatl word for "people from Aztlán." The map shows the basic idea. Large portions of the Western USA would no longer belong to the USA, including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

I oppose injustice. There is no question that some Hispanics have been treated as poorly by ignorant white Americans as some blacks were in the past.

I support equal opportunity for all children regardless of the economic class of their parents. White trailer park trash children whose parents are addicted to crystal meth, and undocumented immigrants with brown skin, should all have the same opportunities to education and advancement as white kids from upper middle class suburbs. And the laws (in all countries) should be applied equally, whether you are poor and black or rich and white - i.e., rule-of-law.

The house I owned in Holland for many years was built on a piece of land which over the years has been owned by many different countries. For a while it was in the Roman Empire, France, Germany, and Spain. Now it is in the Netherlands, and of course the plot of land hasn’t moved one bit. The house I own now in El Paso is on land near to where the native peoples lived thousands of years ago. Then Spain owned this land, then Mexico, then the Republic of Texas, and most recently the USA.

In the history of mankind this pattern has been the norm.


One native American group conquers a nice piece of territory and kills many of the people already living there. Then a few hundred years later another different group conquers them. When the white Americans came along in the 1800’s many of these Indian tribes which were annihilated had just conquered that land themselves a few scores of decades before.

The Romans did this, so did Charlemagne, the Vikings, Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great. It is only in the last 50 or 60 years that mankind has made the collective decision that it is no longer appropriate for one country to take over another country’s territory by force. It was also common for the soldiers of the conquering Army to be partially paid in booty; whatever they could pillage and plunder was their wages. Rape was one of the benefits of the successful warrior, and it resulted in spreading around lots of genetic information. Rather brutally, of course.

Would it be wise to transfer this western part of America to Aztlán? From one barely democratic country mostly ruled by super-rich white skinned people, to another one which is ruled by super-rich brown skinned people? At least at the moment there is an attempt to run this country by rule-of-law. The culture which is in place to the south of America is even more corrupt that what we see in the USA. Rule-of-law is a total joke in Mexico, so what makes one have much confidence things would improve in Aztlán?

If the concept of Aztlán is used to help improve social justice and opportunities for poor folks, then I think it is OK.

But if any of these people who believe in Aztlán are sincere, and they actually think that they are going to start doing horribly violent things like the Basques have done in northern Spain, in order to take away a large piece of land from the USA, then they need to be dealt with harshly. In a lawful and just manner, of course.
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Recession Is Over

This is an example of different people meaning different things when using the same word. To economists a recession is over when a country’s economy has shown any positive growth at all for two quarters is a row.

To the average person the Great Recession is clearly not over. Homes are still being foreclosed upon, and the unemployment rate is still going up. If the jobs do not ever come back, when will the recession be over? Economists write newspaper articles and speak to normal people who are not economists. Saying to them that the recession is probably over under the current circumstances is really dim-witted.

Some well educated people who used to have good paying jobs are suffering horribly. Living out of their cars, and without any health insurance. And virtually no societal safety net thanks to the Republicans in this brutal land of the free. Freedom to starve; freedom to die needlessly.

Telling these people that the recession is over is cruel and brutal. Desperate people do desperate things.

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Misplaced Friends

Over the last half century or so I have know a lot of people. Most were acquaintances. Well in excess of a thousand I’m sure.


And I’ve had a few friends too. I have lost track of some of these people I cared about, and I sometimes wonder what ever happened to them. Are they still alive? How has their particular life story gone?


People from El Paso, Texas:
--Roger Graham
--Tom Ledet
--Donald Alsup
--Kathy Alday


People who I met in Frankfurt, Germany in the 1970’s:
--Penny Ross
--The daughters of Lieutenant Colonel Amos "Bud" Rogers - Sandy, Debbie, Sue
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Racism and Universal Health Care

Are the majority of people who are unhappy with President Barack Obama racists? Sure. There is really very little doubt about it. The vast majority of these right wingers just cannot bring themselves to accept that America actually has a black man as President. It is driving them a little off their rockers.

Is the well organized opposition to President Obama’s Universal Health Care reforms, such as the “Public Option” due primarily to racial prejudice? I don’t think so. Most of the hostility is being caused by the greed of the health insurance companies and other health care providers who don’t want their comfortable boats rocked. But these fat cats are more than happy to use people’s intolerance and narrow-mindedness to help keep them super wealthy.

Yes, the health care results are worse in America than in most advanced western democracies. We have far more multi-million dollar diagnostic machines and big new fancy buildings, but most other highly developed countries achieve better health care results in terms of verifiable medical outcomes like longevity and infant mortality.

So yes, racism is alive and well in America. And yes, the rich and powerful health insurance companies are more than happy to take advantage of this bigotry and intolerance to help advance their cause.

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H1N1 Flu

We keep hearing about the H1N1 flu, and it is easy to begin to think that this is just more hype from the news media in order to increase their ratings and profits.

Looking at what is happening around the world it is clear that while the H1N1 flu is probably not a killer pandemic like the Spanish flu was in 1918, it is indeed far more of a killer than the normal seasonal flu we are sort of used to.

Another difference is the age distribution of the deaths. Babies and the elderly always die at a much higher rate - in all illnesses. Whether it is flu or any of the other routine medical problems which doctors can’t do much about, babies and old folks die at a much higher rate than the rest of the population.

What is odd about the H1N1 strain of flu is that it also has a significantly higher death rate among young adults aged 25 - 34.

In America we have perfected the art of cutting costs and maximizing short term profits. Since our health care system is based upon maximizing greed and profits rather than achieving the finest patient care, there is little surge capacity in any of our hospitals. This trend towards maximizing profit has placed our country in a dangerous situation where America has far fewer doctors or hospital beds per thousand patients than the other advanced Western Democracies. This does not bode well if the H1N1 flu does indeed live up to what the CDC and other reliable experts are predicting.
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Friday, September 18, 2009

The Baucus Plan


The Baucus Plan, by the favorite tool of the Health Insurance companies, is either a complete waste of time or a total disaster. All depending upon your perspective.


This guy is some kind of bad news. So is his legislation.
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Corruption Among U.S. Law Enforcement Agents

After having worked in various top positions in business for 25 years one of the things I have learned is that it is not wise to trust the honesty or integrity of law enforcement personnel. This goes from rent-a-cop security agencies all the way to uniformed and plain clothes law enforcement officers and judges.

Maybe it is because a certain type of individual is attracted to the field of law enforcement. Little men who need a badge and gun to make them feel like important guys. American society makes very little effort to try and attract well educated, intelligent people to either the military or law enforcement. The wages are fairly low and the entrance requirements are lax. Or perhaps it is all the dishonesty and brutality that these people are exposed to on a daily basis. It may be inevitable that the bribes (and threats) from the criminals eventually become difficult to resist.

Are all cops and judges corrupt? No. But enough are corrupt that one should be extremely wary when dealing with them. In your own mind you need to remain open-minded to the possibility that this guy may be on the take and has actually become one of the crooks.
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LINK: latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-drug-charges17-2009sep17,0,1796084.storylatimes.com

MEXICO UNDER SIEGE Former U.S. anti-drug official's arrest a "complete shock" Federal investigators say he served as a secret ally of traffickers while he was posted in Guadalajara.

By Sebastian Rotella September 17, 2009 Reporting from Washington

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As a high-ranking U.S. anti-drug official, Richard Padilla Cramer held front-line posts in the war on Mexico's murderous cartels. He led an office of two dozen agents in Arizona and was the attache for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Guadalajara.

While in Mexico, however, Cramer also served as a secret ally of druglords, according to federal investigators.

Cramer allegedly advised traffickers on law enforcement tactics and pulled secret files to help them identify turncoats. He charged $2,000 for a Drug Enforcement Administration document that was sent to a suspect in Miami by e-mail in August, authorities said.

"Cramer was responsible for advising the [drug traffickers] how U.S. law enforcement works with warrants and record checks as well as how DEA conducts investigations to include 'flipping subjects,' " or recruiting informants, a criminal complaint says.

DEA agents arrested him at his Arizona home Sept. 4. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Miami said Wednesday that she could not comment but said that cases begun with complaints usually go before grand juries. A decision on an indictment in Miami is expected soon, according to a federal official who requested anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

Cramer's duties as the ICE attache in Guadalajara included serving as a liaison with Mexican police. But the investigation revealed that he worked for "a very high-level drug lord," the federal official said. In a dark twist on the trend of former federal officials going into private consulting, the 26-year government veteran became a full-time advisor to traffickers after retiring from ICE in January 2007, the complaint says.

A trafficker "convinced Cramer to retire . . . and begin working directly for [him] in drug trafficking and money laundering," the complaint said. Cramer continued to sell secret documents that he obtained from active U.S. agents, an aspect of the case still under investigation, the official said.

The charges underscore the corruptive might of the cartels, which have bought off Mexican politicians, police chiefs and military commandos. Drug lords have corrupted U.S. border inspectors and agents to help smuggle cocaine north. In 2006, the FBI chief in El Paso was convicted of charges related to concealing his friendship with an alleged kingpin.

Cramer, 56, stands out because his rank and foreign post made his work especially sensitive, officials said. Colleagues described him as a well-regarded investigator who spoke Spanish and operated skillfully in the array of U.S. and Mexican agencies at the border when he ran the ICE office in Nogales, Ariz., his hometown.

"It came as a complete shock," Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said in a telephone interview. " I have been in law enforcement at the border 42 years and I have seen some strange things, but I have never ceased to be surprised."

Estrada worked with Cramer at the Nogales police in 1979, and encountered him periodically as Cramer rose through the federal ranks.

About five months ago, Cramer showed up at the sheriff's office, Estrada said. The retired agent had returned from Mexico to his house in Sahuarita, about 15 miles south of Tucson. He applied for a job as a county detention officer, which pays about $30,000 a year, Estrada said. In contrast, Cramer's federal rank probably commanded a salary of between $130,000 and $150,000, plus benefits, officials say.

Estrada told him that working as a guard would be "quite a drop," the sheriff recalled.
"He said he wanted to keep being active, go back to his roots, keep busy," Estrada said. "So we put him through all the ropes: polygraph, background checks. We didn't find anything suspicious."

While Cramer trained at a state law enforcement academy, a two-year DEA investigation of a Mexican drug ring active in Miami accelerated.

Working with four informants, agents had run across evidence implicating Cramer in corruption, the complaint said. In 2007, an informant revealed documents -- four from the DEA database, one from ICE, two from the state of California -- supplied by an American in Mexico named "Richard," according to the complaint.

Agents identified the American as Cramer and learned that he was known to request database checks from DEA agents in Guadalajara, the complaint said. Such requests often are granted as a courtesy among agencies, officials said. ICE had six offices in Mexico at the time; the Guadalajara outpost has closed.

Agents learned that Cramer allegedly invested $40,000 in a scheme by Mexican traffickers to smuggle 660 pounds of cocaine by sea from Panama via U.S. ports to Spain. Agents tracked the shipment and Spanish police seized it in the city of Vigo in June 2007, setting off a dispute among the traffickers over who was to blame.

Cramer allegedly helped the Mexican drug lord conduct an internal hunt for henchmen responsible for the bust. Suspects under surveillance in Miami declared that Cramer would check databases to help unmask informants, whose families would be kidnapped in retaliation, the complaint said. A suspect told agents Cramer had quarreled with the drug lord over the $40,000 debt, the complaint said.

Early this month, DEA agents traveled to Arizona and told Estrada that they planned to arrest his new jail guard. "It was the last person I would have imagined," he said.
Authorities have not revealed many details.

"I think something went terribly wrong in Mexico," Estrada said. "I'm curious to know what flipped him to the other side."


sebastian.rotella@latimes.com Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Casino Capitalism

The top 1% of earners in America make as much money each year as the entire bottom 95% of all Americans combined. Just think about that for a moment. This really won’t work. And people are dying because they can’t afford health insurance. The crooks on Wall Street are back in the go-go business of Casino Captalism. The billion dollar bonuses have begun again.

The super wealthy are the people who own Congress. They have bought and paid for it. They are the same people who got the big tax cuts under Bush II. This reminds me of the terrible injustice and economic inequality that existed before the French revolution. It really makes one stop and take a big breath.

And in Congress the Senators and Representatives are behaving like drunken fraternity boys. What ever happened to civility, decorum, and good manners?

This is not the America that I grew up in. Something has gone horribly wrong. Did I wake up in a parallel universe or another dimension or something? Sometimes I think that this just can't be happening.
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I wasn't raised as a Catholic, but let me quote Pope John Paul II anyway,
"Capitalism, undisciplined by morality, will eventually self destruct." And here's another papal quote: "If you want peace, work for justice."
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Speak Your Mind





“Speak your mind - even if your voice shakes.
Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.”


-------------------------- Maggie Kuhn


The group Grey Panthers sent me this picture today.
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FDR and the New Deal

There are people alive who still HATE President Franklin D. Roosevelt and everything that he stood for. They hate Social Security and they hate the power of the Federal Reserve. The idea that rich white men are no longer absolutely 100% in control is driving them insane.

For the most part these are worn out, bitter old men, but some of them are wealthy, and some are powerful. By and large they are all brutal, racist old white men.

The fact that a mere black man, President Barack Hussein Obama, appears increasingly likely to achieve what FDR, Truman, LBJ, Clinton and the others could not, i.e. Universal Health Care, is making them go absolutely livid with rage. They are twitching and shaking uncontrollably, and red sparks are shooting out of their creepy old yellow eyes.
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Senator Max Baucus

Sen. Max Baucus = Corrupt Loser

Stooge for the billionaire health insurance lobby.
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The KKK







One branch of our family operated one of the Underground Railroad stations which helped smuggle slaves out of the south.

Another one other of my ancestors was a leader in the KKK. In our family archives we have a copy of a letter from one of my Scottish great-grandmothers that was written to her daughter (my grandmother) when when my great grandparents had been married 50 years. In her letter she describes what a really fine and Christian-like man my great grandfather was. She wrote this letter in 1924, approximately 75 years after slavery was theoretically ended in America.

In her letter she tells how proud she is that he “always goes unmasked.” It is clear that she felt that what the KKK was doing was in the best interests of decent and honest Christians. The white variety of course.

I have known many Southerners. I even lived in South Louisiana for a few years. By and large the vast majority of southern whites are racists. It is a rare exception who can escape this. In the last 20 years or so these southern whites have learned to camouflage their language, but when you get drunk with them it is clear that they still hate niggers and assume that all other whites do too. They just have to be quiet about it because of those liberals and Democrats.

These are honest, hard working people. For the most part they are not thieves, murderers, or child molesters. But they are horrible, ethnocentric, racist, and ignorant. They would disown one of their daughters if she decided to marry a black man.

For several months I have maintained that much of the criticism which one hears about President Obama and his policies is really a form of not very well disguised racism. It is nice now to be joined in this judgement by one of the former Presidents of the United States.

LINK: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8258011.stm

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Mexican Independence Day


The 16th of September 1810. It is a famous day which is remembered in Mexico for the beginning of their fight for independence from Spain.

Almost 200 years later would impartial observers think that the results of this revolution from Spain have been successful? I speak the Spanish language fairly fluently, and I have travelled widely over much of Spain and Mexico. Can I compare the two countries?

Spain went through the terrible period of fascism, and in fact still has strong pressures from both the Basques and even the Catalans to split up the country into several small countries. Some excellent artists have come out of Spain, including Pablo Picasso and Juan Miro. Barcelona and Madrid are truly world class cities. Belonging to the European Union, Spain has adopted governmental policies resulting in a relatively stable economy and a generally adequate record on human rights. Not due to the actions of the Spanish, desertification has gradually been growing. In general Spain is a country which poor people from Africa would like to get to.

Rampant and extreme poverty and human rights violations are far more of a problem in Mexico than in Spain. Mexico used to have tremendous natural resources like oil and gas. Unfortunately the philosophical idea of rule-of-law never really got acceptance in Mexico, and corruption has gradually continued to grow. In the twenty first century the country seems to be close to imploding because of the combined scourges of poverty, drugs, human rights violations, and governmental corruption. In general Mexico is a country which poor people travel through while trying to reach a more prosperous country.

Looking at it from a purely historical perspective in my judgement it is clear that the people of Mexico would have been better off had the country remained a part of Spain.


LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_War_of_Independence

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Never Ending Violence in Juarez, Mexico

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In the small eastern Juarez suburb of Praxedis G. Guerreuo the entire police force has deserted their posts after having received direct threats from the drug mafia. --The 16th of September celebrations have been cancelled too.


One of the Juarez newspapers is reporting that there were 27 killings over the weekend and early Monday.

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Photographs are by Alejandro Bringas and Reuters.
LINK:
http://blogs.reuters.com/photo/2009/09/14/my-city-my-work-my-life/
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Kanye West

After watching his apology on Jay Leno last night and then sleeping on it, I have a new perspective on what Kanye West did.

Sure, he acted like a jackass. The guy had been drinking heavily. This is the kind of stuff one does when you are under the influence. People who drink to excess are all jackasses. Does this mean we should totally absolve him? No, but I think we need to get this into perspective.

All these awards for entertainers are a load of crap. From the Emmys to MTVs music awards. It is just another way for these greedy music corporations to try and make money.

We idolize our entertainers. Not because they have a great education or because of the wonderful things they do to stop war, or reduce poverty and hunger in world society. Just because they are nice to look at, and they are rather entertaining. So we put them up on a pedestal.

A great many of these entertainers are actually doing things which are very harmful to society. Need I mention drug addicted, morbidly obese, racist radio announcers? It is quite common for these entertainers to act like jackasses. Big Deal. Kanye West is a lot more humble than most of them.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

The Pubic Option


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Too bad. I always sort of liked the Pubic Option.
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The Haunted Mesa


I am currently re-reading the excellent New York Times bestseller by Louis L’Amour entitled The Haunted Mesa. It has been at least 15 years since I read it, so this is almost like reading it for the very first time. It is one of those books which are hard to put down.

Not only is it a great suspense thriller, it is just jam packed with wonderful bits of philosophy. Like this: “Our people have closed their minds. They do not look for knowledge, for they believe they now possess it all.” ---Or this, “All history is important to us. From each we learn a little about survival, a little about what causes peoples to decay and nations to die. We try to learn from others so we shall not make the same mistakes…”

And this, “He had always loved the desert, its vast distances, the silence, the creatures that knew how to survive, for if nothing else, the desert was a place of survival. Everything that lived in the desert had found some pattern for survival, some means of adapting to the heat, the cold, and the lack of water. Each in its own way had found a means to conserve moisture.”

One of the topics he explores is the long standing idea of Poison Woman. A beautiful, desirable woman who is poisonous to any man who makes love to her.

This book was first published in 1987, but it seems so current that it could have come out yesterday. If you want some really good escapism which also stimulates your mind, The Haunted Mesa is a great choice.


LINK: http://www.louislamour.com/novels/hauntedmesa.htm

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Pompous Jerks

Last night at the MTV video awards Kanye West showed the world what a dumb ass he is. Unfortunately stupid, overbearing acts like his don’t just damage his own reputation, they also give the 21st century fascists and racists ammunition. Like a gift on a plate. Kanye West certainly deserves the award for arrogant jerk of the year. West’s pompous behavior, and Beyonce’s smiling implicit approval, damage the reputation of all black Americans. Even the ever polite gentleman President Obama called Kanye West a jackass (off the record).
LINK: http://slatest.slate.com/id/2228369/?wpisrc=newsletter

West is in close competition with Joe Wilson, the rude white Congressman from South Carolina who has besmirched the reputation of all southerners. In the past Southerners were known for their kindness, politeness, and good manners. This particular loud-mouthed Southerner has shown that there are also plenty of ignorant red necks who are uncouth and uncivilized.
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Another view by Russell Brand: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1621470/20090914/west_kanye.jhtml


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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Juarez Violence

It is now the middle of September. Here in El Paso, Texas in the Chihuahuan desert things are beginning to cool down just a bit. It is still far too hot, but it has started getting better.

We still have 3-1/2 months left in 2009, and the number of killings in our neighbor city of Juarez, Mexico due to the Mexican mafia and the drugs wars has now equaled all of 2008.

Juarez has achieved the dubious distinction of being named as the most dangerous city on the planet which is not engaged in war.

What a pity. Honest. In prior years I travelled over much of Mexico. I speak Spanish fairly fluently. For the most part I like the culture. What I don’t like is how easy it is for everyone at all levels in Mexican society to accept corruption. The concept of rule-of-law never really caught on in Mexico.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

24.9% of Texans Do Not Have Health Insurance

A rate of 24.9% insured makes Texas the most uninsured state in the United States of America. And El Paso County has one of the highest rates in the state of Texas. Our neighbor the state of New Mexico is number two with 23.1% of their people not having health insurance.

And there are people living and working in both New Mexico and Texas who are just on the borderline of actually being violently opposed to expanding health care to these people. People are dying unnecessarily.

What kind of mean, nasty, cruel people are these who are opposed President Obama’s plan to extend health care coverage? Are they modern day fascists or just plain ignorant racists? The strange part is that many of these reactionaries consider themselves to be Christians too. Weird.
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LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/09/11/business/AP-US-Uninsured-Poverty.html
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Friday, September 11, 2009

911

I guess maybe 30% of the population in America thinks of themselves as Republican and patriotic. Many of these people openly and noisily oppose President Obama. I actually had one fellow tell me recently that he didn’t think the President was patriotic. Can you imagine such ignorance?

Today was September 11, a special day for America and its relationship with muslim fundamentalists and other religious extremists. I think of myself as a progressive and a liberal, and certainly as a patriotic old geezer as well. I have flown the American flag on my car for each of the last 8 years on September 11.

Much of that time I lived in Europe, and I got many positive comments there in Europe. For the most recent two September 11’s I have been living in America, and for 2 years now I have not seen one car flying the American flag. Not even one. Lots of people in SUVs with self adhesive yellow ribbons, but not one American flag.

And these ignorant right wing bastards think they have some kind of a monopoly on patriotism. Many of these people have not even served in the military. How dare they claim to be the only people who love America. From their treasonous actions and words recently, it is clear to me that they are the ones driving a wedge deep into the heart of American society.

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Bribing Government Officials

For as long as I can remember (so for at least half a century) the jurisprudence system in Mexico has worked on grease. If a request for a certain permit or action by the government was taking a bit too long, or you weren’t getting the results you wanted, all you had to do was apply a little grease (cash under the table) in order to speed it up and get things to go your way. If it still was not moving fast enough, then you just applied a little more grease.

The way the legal system ended up working in Mexico is that the party who paid the largest bribe to the law enforcement officers or the judges won. It is a nice system for those who have plenty of money. You can essentially ignore the laws that normal mortals have to obey if you have sufficient resources to buy off judges and regulators.

Unfortunately this system is very destructive to a country and a culture over the years.

Imagine that you and I both own companies which produce similar products which we are both selling for about the same price. We are competitors. You are making a product of very low quality, which contains large amounts of lead paint, and was manufactured by young children in a factory which pollutes the environment terribly. My product is extremely high quality, and we obey all the laws regarding child labor, workplace safety, product safety, and the environment. My expenses are somewhat higher because I obey the laws, but I am still making a good profit.

You buy off various government regulatory officials and cause my factory to be closed down on some trumped-up, unreal charges. You then are able to raise your sales prices. So the consumer ends up paying too much money for a substandard product. Society suffers the consequences of lead in your product. The children who work in your factory don’t get a decent education, and your operation pollutes the environment. You get away with it all because you have bribed various corrupt government officials. You become a pillar of society. This way of running a country is not good for its culture or its people.

Mexico has a long history of rampant corruption among law enforcement personnel. Now that the military is taking over many of the police jobs, this theft and sleaze appears to be taking hold among them as well. Mexico has never embraced the idea of rule-of-law, either in the government and the law, or in the culture of the Mexican people.

Over time I have been seeing more of this dishonest system and attitude here in America. In the last year or two we are seeing more corrupt American government workers in the Border Patrol, U.S. Customs, and various law enforcement agencies getting caught taking bribes to “look the other way.” One can be certain that for every crooked government worker who gets caught, there are many more who manage to slip by.

The massive amount of money being offered to the American public servants by these Mexican drugistas is hard to ignore. So are threats of violence against their wives or children, especially when it is clear that the U.S. Government is not able to protect them from the kidnappers and hit men employed by the Mexican mafia.

Here on the southern border of the United States of America corruption among all sorts of government workers is increasing greatly. Bribes have been demanded in order to win a bid to do some work for the government. Bribes have been paid in order to influence pending legislation. In some ways it mirrors what has been happening in Washington, D.C. The enormous “campaign contributions” being made to Senators and Congressmen by big organizations and the wealthy are in many (most?) cases nothing more than thinly disguised bribes.

Several different whistle blowers took the SEC regulators and led them by the nose trying to get them to see that Bernard Madoff was engaging in a massive ponzi scheme. But Madoff knew the right people to talk to, and perhaps even provide large “gifts” to. The well paid SEC regulators appeared to be just grossly incompetent and lazy. The terrible theft this crook was engaging in was ignored for many, many years. The government actually never did go after him. He turned himself in to them when his ponzi scheme began imploding because of the stock market fall and the recession.

Government workers being lazy and rude is almost routine all around the world. But when they begin accepting "gifts" and become corrupt, and once they are controlled by the criminals, the country is headed down hill. Big time.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Entrapment


In my continued effort to watch many of the classic Sean Connery films I just finished the 1999 movie called Entrapment. Connery plays alongside Catherine Zeta Jones in this thriller.

Even though it is 10 years old, the DVD has Dolby 5.1 sound and subtitles. The technology shown in the movie does not seem at all dated.

This is another really excellent movie. I bought mine used, and the DVD cover shows it. But the movie plays just fine. I give this flick a good solid 9.5 out of 10.
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The Man With No Hands

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This horrid picture was in one of the Juarez, Mexico newspapers today. The caption says Violence Without Limits.

What kind of horrendous animals are these people? And it is all taking place because of greed and money.

Do they think we are back in the 1400’s and this is the new Spanish Inquisition? Or maybe like the Taliban back in the Dark Ages? In France during the reign of terror in the late 1700’s lots of heads were cut off with the guillotine. Beheadings have now become commonplace in Juarez too. Ho hum. Oh goodness, another beheading.

I can imagine the right wing racists and red necks thinking, “Oh well, its just Mexicans killing other Mexicans, so why get all worked up about it? And so what if lots of decent, common laborers are still dying of thirst trying to cross the desert to reach America?”

This sort of behavior shows me just how near to the surface man’s most inhuman instincts are. And the fact that I can live just a few kilometers to the north of this anarchy, and for the most part just forget about it, says a lot about us humans also.

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The Body’s Immune System

The body’s immune system is amazingly good at defeating pathogenic invaders such as bacteria, viruses, moulds, and fungi. It even goes after some types of parasitic worms. There are organs all over the body, and special types of blood cells which protect the body from these harmful invaders.

Unfortunately there are situations where the body’s immune system does not function properly. Many people have an immune system which does not work well. Included are the elderly, people suffering from malnutrition, obesity, and alcoholism. Immunodeficiency can also be caused by various diseases and cancers, such as leukemia and AIDS.

Radiation treatment can cause immunodeficiency, and one dilemma in treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is that most of the chemotherapy agents commonly being utilized also make the body’s immune system function even more poorly than it already was.

“CLL affects a particular lymphocyte, the B cell, which originates in the bone marrow, develops in the lymph nodes, and normally fights infection. In CLL, the DNA of a B cell is damaged, so that it can't fight infection, but it grows out of control and crowds out the healthy blood cells that can fight infection.” Wikipedia

This picture shows a tiny little scratch which I got on the calf of my left leg several days ago. It was so small as to be almost unnoticeable. But because I have rather advanced CLL, the B cells which normally fight infection are damaged and can’t properly fight off infection.

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Juarez

In the first nine days of September there have been 100 drug killings in Juarez, Mexico which is directly across the border from El Paso, Texas. Without any question Juarez is now the most dangerous city in the world (which is not at war).

Has Mexico’s corruption and ever-present bribery of government officials finally turned it into a failed state? The answer seems obvious to me.

I have a great affinity for Mexico. I speak their language, and I have travelled over much of their country. 99.9% of the people who come to America from Mexico are decent, hard working people who just want to improve themselves and the lives of their families.

Their acceptance of the corruption by most government workers in Mexico, and the country’s lack of a real embrace of the concept of rule-of-law is gradually destroying the country of Mexico.

I am neither a red neck, nor a racist nor a right winger Republican. But I can certainly understand why some Americans do not want this dishonest Mexican culture to be imported into this country.
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President Obama’s Speech on Health Care

President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of congress yesterday evening regarding the pending legislation which will ensure Universal Health Care. He is a wonderful orator, and he certainly did not disappoint the nation with this moving speech.

At one point he was debunking some of the outrageous lies and distortions being shouted out by the Republicans and their fellow traveler fanatics and racists. And an ignorant, red neck, Republican congressman actually heckled him. That is good. It shows the nation and also the President that these hate filled jerks on the right wing are worse than a waste of time.

President Obama has made the finest effort to compromise and “cross the aisle” to the Republicans that any president has made in many years. It has been sincere and honest.

The Republicans are so cold and calculating, and these right wing extremists are such lunatics that en masse they have opposed all reasonable efforts to extend health care coverage to the 50 million Americans who are currently uninsured. It is clearly time to write off the right wing, and the President acknowledged that in his speech.

I’m glad that jerk heckled President Obama. The actions of this one ignorant racist will provide the President with the help he needed in order to remove his iron fist from his soft leather glove.


LINK: http://www.hulu.com/watch/94617/the-obama-administration-obama-heckled-during-health-overhaul-speech

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Living In Venice -or- Still Crazy After All These Years

In the 1970’s after I graduated from college I was in the U.S. Army stationed in Frankfurt, West Germany. I spent almost three years living there, drinking the great German wine, eating bratwurst, travelling around Europe, and taking graduate level economics courses from the European campus of Ball State University. I sometimes helped my German friends publish an anti-Vietnam War newspaper called “FTA With Pride.”

For many years after that I lived back in America, raising a family and working my way up the corporate ladder. I lived in Europe for the last 15 years before I retired. My career had advanced to the point where I was the General Manager of the European Division of a multi-national food processing company.

A close friend of mine retired not long after I did. He too is an American, but since he had married a Dutch woman he chose to remain living in Europe after he retired. They have since moved to Venice, Italy. I got the following email from him today:


Well two nights ago I went to the screening of Capitalism by Michael Moore. Naturally, I was not invited and didn't have a ticket so I went to the stage entrance and told The Italian security guard that my friend and I were Michael's producers and to call upstairs at once and tell them we were here and to let us up right away.
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He said we had to go around front to get tickets and I said "are you crazy, we will be mobbed by fans" "call your supervisor immediately as we are expected at once". I didn't blink and the guy folded. It must have been our George Cloony suits.

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We stormed upstairs to the VIP section doors just in time to walk into a standing ovation right next to Michael and his wife Kathleen. Michael turned to me and said " who are you"? I told him I was a master crasher and he said "very cool" and invited us to dinner and the after party.


The movie was great. Michael is a very nice warm guy. He got a 12 minuted standing ovation and two tall beautiful Russian Actresses ?? slipped their numbers into my pocket thinking I might really be his producer or at least had some lose change.

Still crazy after all these years,

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

President Obama Adresses Students


So my screwed-up, weird, radical, right wing friends: Did President Obama’s speech live up to your sick, creepy desires?

LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iqsxCWjCvI

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Old Geezers

I find that with age, experience, and maturity my judgement is normally vastly superior to that of most young men. My body may have less stamina than it did before, but I more than make up for it thanks to all my grey hair (and if necessary a bit of cunning).

I had the most wonderful erotic dream last night, but this is out of the ordinary. For the most part I am no longer afflicted with the terrible mental illness brought on by romantic love, or the ethical and thought anesthetizing desire to procreate with an attractive young lady.

The older I get the more I stop to enjoy a beautiful sunset or “smell the roses.” I also am getting much more outspoken and grumpy. It has made me more thin-skinned, and at the same time far more hard-nosed.

As a younger man I considered myself to almost be a pacifist. Compromise, finding the middle ground, some might even have called it appeasement or spinelessness. Now just try screwing with me. Go ahead; Make my day punk. If you threaten me with physical harm you need to be aware that I always carry a concealed handgun. I will use it too. If you threaten me with a knife or a gun you better just kiss your ass goodbye.

All things considered I really prefer this advanced age to the incompetence and all the insecurities of youth.
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Monday, September 07, 2009

The Good News

It is not at all pleasant to watch the lies and aggressive insanity of the right wing now that America has a black president. President Obama is not just a black man, but he was the U.S. Senator with the very most liberal voting record of all the 100 senators.

It is such a shame to see what these repulsive lunatics are doing to America. In my own town of El Paso, Texas I saw on the news that one of the larger school districts in town will not allow any student to watch the President’s address urging them to stay in school and get a good education, unless the student brings a note from his parent authorizing it.

The good news is that finally people are beginning to see how dangerous these right wingers are.

It was fairly common knowledge that the drug addicted, millionaire radio entertainer named Rush was a raving, racist lunatic. Now even the more “stable” ones like Pat Buchanan have begun coming out of the closet. The entire world was appalled at Buchannan’s recent apologies for Adolph Hitler.

I am convinced that the reason most of these right wingers are so upset at the prospect of Universal Health Care is because poor blacks and Hispanics will start receiving life saving medical care. The racists of the right wing would be happiest if these people with dark skin would all go back where they came from or just die. It is sort of a right wing American version of ethnic cleansing.

So it is good to see these reactionaries finally being honest about the things they believe in like greed, the profit motive, and the racial superiority of white folks. Now even not very bright people can see how sick these folks really are.
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