Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Talmud : In Defense Of

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Every so often, in one of the many chatrooms or message boards, the anti-Semites post various controversial passages from the Talmud in order to foster anti-Semitism in others. One would assume that anyone, in these modern times, who knows at least few Jewish people here and there, would think that these quotes are a complete fabrication of a hatred-driven delusional mind. Much like the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and other hatred-inspired anti-Jewish propaganda, these passages are likely considered by most to be outright lies. However, they’d be wrong; at least most of the time.

The majority of these oft quoted passages, carefully culled for their provocative value, are absolutely true in that the Talmud does, in fact, say exactly (well, almost) what it appears to say. The Talmud, a vast and varied body of Jewish knowledge, does at times offer to its readership some very weird and disturbing ideas. Nonetheless, these Talmudic dictums, be they logical, mysterious, practical, or just plain crazy have to be understood within the context and circumstance under which they were conceived. This is not to excuse the import of such statements or rationalize them, rather that we should understand how these ideas developed and what role they played, or didn’t play, in shaping Judaism and the Jewish world outlook.

In assessing these passages, one has to remember that the language of the Talmud is primarily Aramaic, the language of the Persian Empire and therefore, was the spoken language of the Jews under Persian rule and demand. Talmud Aramaic is written utilizing Hebrew characters and is mixed with a great deal of ancient and Biblical Hebrew as well. Even some accepted translations of Talmud, no matter how accurate, become mistranslations when viewed in a narrow context. As is common with any foreign language, especially those of ancient times, the nuances of Aramaic and Biblical Hebrew, which developed and operated from within specific historical and cultural contexts, are lost to the reader whose sole venue for reading the Talmud comes from a simplified and historically distant English translation. The ‘Soncino’ translation, though indeed quite scholarly, still requires some tweaking on the part of the reader, once again requiring the infusion of context and ‘religious’ nuance to understand Talmud clearly.

One should, while reading these passages, also realize that the vast majority of modern age Jews today do NOT read or study the Talmud, let alone adhere faithfully to its rulings and philosophy. Talmud study, at least in any appreciable depth, is the pretty much exclusively the realm of the rabbinical/yeshiva academies and perhaps among a few secular academic scholars here and there. The tenor and tone of the Talmud, though it continues to provide a basis for much of Jewish religious practice, is often not the last word on Jewish belief. In the centuries since those rabbinic discussions occurred and their subsequent compilation into a single legal/religious tome, much has transpired to mitigate much of the nationalistic and paternalistic fervor of ancient Israelite thinking. Living, as we have, as an oft-persecuted and fearful minority, whilst surviving and thriving among sometimes very hostile neighbors, has forced Jews to be more understanding of racism and bigotry. This is why Jews have been, since the Enlightenment, at the forefront of egalitarian and socially conscious movements. Even the most devout of religious Jewish authorities vehemently forbid Jews from engaging in many of the behaviors spoken of in the Talmudic Era.

It is equally important to understand that the Talmud is not exclusively a legal tome or law book, rather a comprehensive record of the rabbinical debates and personal insights that sometimes would lead to a definitive legal decision or merely Biblical exegesis. The anti-Semite pulling quotes from the Talmud perhaps does not realize that the particular statement may be one of a single rabbi, whose minority opinion, upon closer reflection from his colleagues, becomes completely and utterly dismissed as sheer nonsense. As is often the case, these passages merely express the personal observations of a single authority. The reason that the Talmud includes these extraneous and often ridiculous notions is to teach us, reading these debates centuries later, the process by which the legal ends are determined. It is an almost exclusively Jewish method of using absurd arguments en route to proving a crucial point of law. The anti-Semite cherry-picking these statements does not know where in the debate process the passage occurs and therefore makes the mistake of thinking it is at the end, rather than somewhere in an obscure, rejected, and almost forgotten middle.

Now, one might ask at this point, why it is that the compilers of the Talmud chose to include these controversial and crazy ideas, knowing that the Gentiles would eventually have a copy and then, as we have seen so often, misunderstand the import and context? The answer is simple. Those who had to compile the Talmud, which is vast in its scope and coverage, due to time and persecution, had eroded much of the memory of it. The Talmud, referred to as the ‘Oral Law’, was not written down until centuries later and, as history shows us, these type of things are subject to wanton forgetfulness. The compilers, Rav Inu and Rav Ashi, put in every bit if whatever it was they could remember or gather from other sources, be it good, bad, or indifferent. Every bit of information needed preservation if for no other reason than for posterity.

Another very important point is to understand the various layers of Jewish thinking. Talmudic Judaism is quite legalistic. It concerns itself primarily with what is, according to Biblical tradition, the strictly legal guidelines regarding human behavior. It does NOT condone or advocate those seemingly horrible or cruel behaviors that it considers as technically ‘legal’, but simply states that, according to the religious law as written, these acts are not punishable by human courts. Rabbinical responsa penned since the Talmud era firmly and vehemently forbid, and for many reasons, many of the behaviors and attitudes that prevailed during Talmudic times. Actions that would be considered within the ‘letter of the law’ now became proscribed as violating the ‘spirit’ of Jewish practice.

This legalism also has three distinct and often contradicting positions to maintain. First, there is the Biblical law, which forms the basis for all Jewish law and, being of primary concern, must be shielded from any hint of violation. The rabbinical law stands as an extension of the Biblical Canon in that it provides for an enforced buffer zone, much like a behavioral ‘speed limit’, setting reasonable boundaries intended to keep the Jew one or two additional steps away from committing an infraction of Biblical magnitude. These laws sometime also apply to positive commands as well and serve to reinforce Biblical precepts. The Talmud also sorts out some of the ambiguities in Biblical language and law. Yet another layer regards civil law and ethics, which surprising at it may be to some, makes up a substantial portion of the Talmud. The rabbis had many social, economic, and political issues to address and although they fed upon both the Torah and the wisdom of their predecessors, many of their decisions were derived from the here and now, having based their legal on exploitable loopholes in the Talmudic law. It was flexible enough in its scope to allow for looser ‘interpretation’. Even when viewed from our modern perspective, this latter approach, favoring the benefit of the believer over the strict religious dogma, seems very a practical and enlightened way of thinking, much unlike other widely held religious doctrines.

There are times that the highly technical religious viewpoint has conflicted with political concerns. The well known Talmudic dictum of “Dina d’Malchusa Dina”, though never quoted by Jew-haters, provides an underlying principle of Jewish law in the Diaspora, showing that Jews are obligated to recognize and obey the laws of their host countries with the same tenacity and acceptance as they do their own religious teachings. There are many different circumstances and justifications surrounding this particular clause, but that differentiation between legality and social necessity is a common theme in Jewish Law. The Talmud, which was compiled under the dominion of foreign rule, provides some guidelines for maintaining that precarious balance between foreign secular rule and insular religious doctrine. Our national survival from within and our biological survival in the face of outside hostilities depend upon this peculiar ability to satisfy both obligations simultaneously.

Do not consider my defense as exhaustive or even effective. At best, and I am extremely hopeful in saying this, there will come a better understanding of Talmud, how it works, and what it offers in terms of wisdom, insight, insanity, irony, and humor. I remain the strongest and most vocal critic of Talmudic doctrine, rabbinic law, and their philosophy. Yet, even in my apparent heresy, I find no need to misrepresent or lie about that which I have chosen to reject. Telling the truth, the whole truth, is quite enough to provoke anger, thought, and even a profound insight or two.

The Talmud is not without its value. Anti-Semites, in their hurried rushing to quick judgment, are missing out on a golden opportunity to garner some bits of ancient wisdom and also learn something of Jewish history and the Jewish people.

Knowing your enemy can be quite a learning experience.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

War on God? : Babbling Builders of Yore

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(Genesis 11:1 - 9)

א ויהי כל-הארץ, שפה אחת, ודברים, אחדים
ב ויהי, בנוסעם מקדם; וימצאו בקעה בארץ שנער, ויישבו שם
ג ויאמרו איש אל-ריעהו, הבה נלבנה לבינים, ונשרפה, לשריפה; ותהי להם הלבינה, לאבן, והחמר, היה להם לחומר.
ד ויאמרו הבה נבנה-לנו עיר, ומגדל וראשו בשמיים, ונעשה-לנו, שם: פן-נפוץ, על-פני כל-הארץ
ה ויירד יהוה, לראות את-העיר ואת-המגדל, אשר בנו, בני האדם
ו ויאמר יהוה, הן עם אחד ושפה אחת לכולם, וזה, החילם לעשות; ועתה לא-ייבצר מהם, כול אשר יזמו לעשות
ז הבה, נרדה, ונבלה שם, שפתם--אשר לא ישמעו, איש שפת ריעהו
ח ויפץ יהוה אותם משם, על-פני כל-הארץ; ויחדלו, לבנות העיר
ט על-כן קרא שמה, בבל, כי-שם בלל יהוה, שפת כל-הארץ; ומשם הפיצם יהוה, על-פני כל-הארץ

Why is this story even necessary? If we removed it from the Torah, we might not miss it at all. In fact, it seems, much like the non-ending genealogies of hard to pronounce names, and wholly redundant. Yet, for the purpose of which the story becomes necessary, it fits right in with the aforementioned family trees. The tale of the Tower is not needed, in and of itself, but exists to fill in a ‘blank’. While reading thus far in the Torah, one wonders how multiple languages, human migration, and demographic diversity came to be. In the mind of the ordinary person, families stay close to families and, in those days, people stayed near the clan and rarely ventured very far from home. To anyone alive then, the idea of migrating away from your people was considered insane, so the Torah has to tell us that God 'forced' people to do the unthinkable and spread out far and wide across the globe. As we see with Cain, having to leave the family was a terrible curse!

Verse 11:1 tells us what humanity looked like immediately prior to the Tower and, at the same time, leads us to some more interesting questions. So far, despite the racial differences we are told existed between Noah’s children, they seemed to be, at least we imagine them to be, of one huge and very cooperative extended family, while speaking one common language among each other. There is no reason to assume otherwise and it makes perfect sense, should the Torah be correct, that one common means of verbal communication among these cousins was the norm. That everyone shares a bloodline, lives within the same community, and speaks a common language should come as no surprise. After all, they were grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the same man.

However, if we take allow ourselves a moment of respite from our Torah reading to take a quick glance at the world around us, we see something very confusing. Whether in ancient or modern times the various traders, merchants, mercenaries, ministers, refugees, and vacationers from distant lands, none of whom spoke the local language, began arriving within the boundaries of the fledgling human family. The clever child would immediately ask the obvious question, and the Torah anticipates that curiosity with the Tower story. It became necessary to explain to children (and I suppose some adults, too) how such varied linguistic diversity came to be if, in fact, the Torah, up to that juncture immediately prior to the Tower, was even remotely accurate. Thus, the telling of the tale of the Tower of Babel was needed to answer the obvious and keep the flow of the Torah narrative running smoothly.

Why did they build the Tower anyhow? The Torah says that the people were worried that they would become too spread out and wanted to establish the Tower as a beacon which people could see for many miles around, much like a lighthouse does for ships nearing the shoreline. There is nothing here to substantiate the Rabbis claims that these people were going to 'make war on God' and eventually climb the Tower to attack Heaven. I realize the Rabbis have to concoct that nonsense to try and make sense of the story, which is also nonsense, but they just make the whole problem even worse. From the plain Torah account, there appears nothing amiss or sinful in their motives for building a metropolis or a skyscraper within it. One has to wonder how, in light of the Tower story, this God allowed any cities to ever be established.

The Rabbis reasons for assuming a 'war on heaven' are two-fold. One, it provides a reason why God would be angry over this and two, it permits all kinds of other assumptions clearly not stated in Torah. We will deal here with only the first assertion. The obvious question becomes as to how exactly one wages war on an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent being. It's not as if one could launch a direct assault on something which is everywhere nor could one ever hope to hold the high ground or use the element of surprise to any particular advantage. Besides, what weapons would they have been using? If God is vulnerable to spears and swords, whereas God being equally present everywhere one turns, He would have to fear the blade at sea level just as He might at 5000 km above it!

Why build the Tower in the valley and not on a mountain top? If their purpose was, as the Rabbis suggested, to ‘wage war with God’, then wouldn’t it make more sense in any case to use existing geography to their tactical and practical advantage? I think it's pretty clear that the Rabbis were talking out of their asses, merely trying to justify the Tower story through the smoke and mirrors of allegory or parable, rather than dissecting the Torah account to root out the apparent flaws.

Rabbis say that humanity's sin here was in developing too much self-reliance and not maintaining enough faith in God. The 'war on God' was not a literal war in the physical sense, but a psychological war whose indirect effect would be to lessen one's dependency on God. The Rabbis assert that the people, by establishing themselves as a civilization, were rejecting faith. Apparently, only nomads and farmers are steadfast in faith and belief and God was worried that living in anything other than tents that reek of dried camel dung and human urine would incite humanity to rebel against Him. If real faith can only exist in nomadic agrarian societies, then modern Judaism is utterly screwed. In either case, the Tower tale makes no sense at all.

Who is God asking to help confuse languages? When He decides that "We" should be doing something about the Tower, who is asking? This is a similar problem to the verse in genesis where God says "Let US make man". So who is us? Now you may suggest that 'us' here is perhaps angels, but why doesn't it just say 'angels' and not leave us guessing? I have no answer for this one, and it appears to be yet another instance where polytheism is strongly implied in the Torah. This problem, however, is not integral to our story.

What is God's problem with peaceful human cooperation? It seemed that humanity was doing quite well; without wars or other societal problems that, under the best of circumstances, tend to fragment a society. This is, in part, how you know the story to be false. I cannot, myself, imagine all of humanity, no matter how few in number, working toward one purpose so efficiently as to scare the bejeezus out of the Almighty. One has to ask what exactly it was about their peaceful and focused mutual effort that ticked off the Lord. Not only that, but you’d think that all this happy cooperation would be a really good thing and not pose a threat to God. After all, just a few generations back, God flooded the planet and damn near wiped out humanity for NOT behaving peaceably with each other! So now, they are conducting themselves quite nicely and God gets pissed off at that, too! No wonder people stop believing in God; he is just plain impossible to please!

How exactly did God mess up their communication and to what extent? Rashi tells us that if one worker would ask for a brick the other would hand him a hammer and this thwarted any effort to continue building the tower. Yet, to have total societal confusion spring from this incident, it would require much more than just the mere bewilderment of artisans and laborers. For God's plan here to unfold as desired, both husband and wife, parent and child, brother and sister, etc. would also have to become linguistically estranged from one another. The result would be that no one, even those on the most intimate of terms, would be able to communicate! Total chaos, and one well beyond what the Torah suggests here, would have almost instantaneously ensued. Yet, somehow, the people did not disperse as individuals in random chaos, but remained, even while migrating away from Shinar, in their basic family units.

This problem is further accentuated by the fact that, as the Torah claims, they were of "few words", implying a language very much based upon symbols, signs, and other forms of non-verbal communication. If we are to believe what Rashi tells us, then even if their spoken language went awry, the basics of their communicative abilities still remained. This applies even more so to the artisans and laborers whose skills, once highly developed, required no direction at all, as they were able to continue their work without need for spoken language. If a mason needed a brick he could simply point with his finger to the brick and the laborer would know what to do. In any case, whatever the Torah (or Rashi) claims to have happened either would have had a much greater or significantly lesser effect than the Tower story seems to imply and does not answer any of the obvious questions.

The list goes on, but I have no more time at the present to donate to this subject. Comments and ideas are always welcome.

Kol Tuv

Burying the Goldfish : Funny!

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Conversation w/a Capitalist Doofus

There is nothing more entertaining that a Republican, corporate-brainwashed windbag trying to discuss economics and sociology. The scary part is that this person is convinced that he or she is right. His comments are in parentheses.

(Re: The overtaxed and over worked employers are entitled to make a profit.)

Correct, but at what price to everyone else involved? How much more of worker’s rights, safety codes, and consumer protections are you willing to do without in order for the owners and shareholders to make even more return than they are already? Besides, if a company cannot remain competitive in the marketplace simply by producing and selling their product or service, then perhaps that is the fault of the people running the company and they should be out of business altogether. Financial engineering does not a healthy economy produce.

Bottom line? Capitalists are too busy defending the people who don’t need any help while preaching that no one should be helped anyhow. Does that make any sense at all?

(Re: In spite of how hard you try, we are not a socialist country yet.)

I’m working on it though, and there are millions of working class and educated Americans who don’t buy the corporate bullshit anymore either. As American wages and buying power decreases, more average folks are seeing the light. Unfortunately, those at the top continue to manipulate the news and the numbers to show otherwise. In spite of all your bragging about ‘Capitalism ending the Cold War’ and ‘Communism dead and gone’, the right wing still trots it out as the great econo-political bogeyman when needed.

(Re: The uneducated, entry level worker does not deserve the same wage as the business owner, or upper level manager.)

No one ever suggested that an entry level worker should receive the same compensation. You are flaunting your ignorance of a subject you should avoid. The ‘entry level worker’ excuse is overplayed. They are earning money for the company and providing needed labor. To degrade the entry-level position as if it is some sort of hazing ritual is disrespectful to your fellow American who very often now, has to take that job because his former corporate masters relocated his job to Indonesia.

(Re: The "free" healthcare, the "free" bridge card, housing assistance, SSI, & SSA checks....Where does that come from?)

Same place corporate welfare comes from. Same place the military comes from. Same place from which the roads get paved and the school are built. Same place from where every federal employee and politician gets free health care. Same place that pays for all the tax breaks and subsidies given to lumber companies, coal companies, etc.

You are not opposed to welfare. You merely demand that it to go to those to don’t actually need it.

(Re: There should be no free rides.)

That is a very heartless thing to say. You would begrudge a hungry family a meal or shelter because they didn’t ‘work’ for it. Why does everything with you Republicans have to come with ‘work’. All you want us to do is work, work, work, work. If you are mentally ill, that’s too bad. The rest of us normal people would like more vacation and don’t mind one bit if our money helps another human being. All human beings are deserving of compassion. Even you.

In the Republican mind, which follows the old Calvinist ideal of will-breaking and hard labor, nothing is bestowed without maximum effort or endeavor. It’s a bullshit cultist philosophy that should have died out with the Pilgrims, but still survive in the psyches of Capitalists world over. As long as you slave for their profit, you remain worthy of sustenance, otherwise you are a drag on the system and to be caste out and forgotten.

(Re: The generation, after generation, of soulless, beat down, individuals. Who have no drive, no motivation, are living proof that Welfare does not work.)

People are alive, fed, and sheltered? Then it’s working! Before FDR’s New Deal we had people starving in the streets in this country, most of them elderly. I don’t know what you think social programs are supposed to accomplish, but their goal is maintain the life and welfare of the citizens. You also need an honest history lesson and not rely on the white-washed, brainwashed bullshit you heard in elementary school and on talk radio.

The New Deal saved lives. People like you opposed it then and still do today.

(Re: Take out the emotions, and insert the facts and figures, the math doesn't work)

Spoken like a true bean-counter. Amazing how you can detach yourself so easily from human suffering so to be able to earn .08% more on one of your many investments. Facts and figures, you say? Is wealth that all there is to life? The facts and figures don’t add up either. Your beloved capitalism is KILLING this country from the inside out.

You also need a good lesson on empathy.

(Re: Less people working every year, less paying into the system, more drawing and draining on the system.)

The people not paying their fair share into the system are those who can afford off shore tax shelters and can lobby for loopholes in the tax code. The people draining the system are wealthy people who don’t need SSI and take it anyway. I know a fellow, richer than you can imagine. Guy went out and bought a $50,000 car and paid cash. Yet, when his wife needed a hip replacement and Medicare asked a co-pay of $600, he went berserk!

(Re: The poor 25 year olds, working today, will have nothing from our government. I wish everyone had a nice home, job, and a car. )

Those 25 year olds won’t have jobs either, because the 50-75 year olds are still racing to get richer and richer by pulling the rug out from under the American economy through outsourcing jobs and other forms of crafty financial engineering. Besides, why do you worry about anyone taking SSI?

(Re: The way to achieve that is through work and determination.)

Tell that to the slaves, sharecroppers, and serfs throughout history. And, if you had brains or any experience, you’d know that many other factors besides hard labor determine success. To be successful, one’s labor has to be rewarded. One also has to be healthy. One has to be respected and honored by those he labors on behalf of and by the society in which he lives. One also has to be working in or investing into an HONEST system, and not the cutthroat trading games that exist on Wall St.

Most of all, to be successful, one has to be LUCKY. If you are not in the right place at the right time under the right circumstances, it won’t happen no matter how hard you imagine yourself to be working. Luck is the mechanism by which most everything honest occurs because it involves no conscious manipulation on the part of opportunists.

(Re: Stay strong Mr. President, you didn't cause the Hurricane (Katrina), the heat wave we are experiencing, but I know you will be accused.)

Right. Bush didn’t cause it. No one said he did. The POTUS simply dropped the ball on preventative measures and the rescue effort. Sure the fire department didn’t set the blaze, they just stood by while it burned, blamed someone else, and then reneged on their promises to help. .

I have to wonder at this point what you think a president’s job should be.

(Re: Consider the source, the bitter, hate filled Democrats who never got behind their President.)

You mean just like the Republicans got behind Bill Clinton? LOL

Bush was never my president. He was never elected. Not once. You obviously are not a believer in individualism or liberty if, as you assume, one must stand behind a leader no matter what the circumstance. Your ‘my leader/country right or wrong’ attitude is quite disturbing.

Now, you may say that this person's arguments are simplistic and easily debunked, but that really is not the case. Arguments in support of Capitalism have never changed, but have, at certain times gained support from pseudo-philosophies and fancy advertising, neither of which say anything about the consequences of their favored ideals. This fellow had all the requisite talking points well rehearsed.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Repunzel's Dilemma

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Does the princess truly await one royal
Or merely any escape from lofty prison?
Should but a plain commoner
Seek to rescue her
Would she still abide by prior decision?

Even should one of regal birth dare ascend
Upon braided locks now lowered aground
For after loving embrace
The problem they’ll eventually face
Is exactly just how both will get down!

Never Really Mine

Strangers dared to call me their own
And even boasted of my presence among them
Adorned in their clothing
Inundated with their culture
And faithfully
Did I imitate their mannerisms
Calling them family
But they were never really mine

I followed their religion
Bearing burdens of unique family bonds and piety
Speaking proudly their accomplishments
Their loving advice a holy word
But internally
Was I raging for something other
I couldn’t withstand anymore
Since they were never really mine

Subconscious desperations leading me astray
From the safety of their caring embraces
Taken to rebellion
Never knowing why
Not even knowing how
Their warm welcomes back into the fold
Now becoming searing wounds
Tears burning my skin
For they were never really mine

No longer could I endure
Living outside of my own context
A new circumstance with no definition
Only a hope
Wherein the eye that is mine
The face that shares my gazes
Lies somewhere beyond the confines
Of the places named home
Where they were never really mine

I go back to them for want of nothing else
Their dutiful forgiveness
Of my oddities and back-lashings sickens me
They cannot fathom
Living without knowing
Being without identity
Picking and choosing yourself is never enough
From among lives
That were never really mine

Rooting for Defeat? Hell Yes!

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Am I rooting for defeat in Iraq? You bet! Losing a bad war isn’t such an awful thing. Leaving would save American lives and allow the Iraqis the chance to do it on their own without the constant threat of corporate-oil manipulation and intervention. We should juts cut our losses and be done with it. The problem is that our Chimp-in-Chief cannot nor will not ever admit error and, therefore, will never alter or dismantle his destructive and incredibly stupid ruination of the Middle East and, by way of war funding, the American economy.

I want to see the Americans leave Iraq immediately. This war remains an unprovoked, illegal escapade conjured by oil-hungry robber barons disguised as human beings. At some point, we the people have to say "Enough already!", and bring our brothers and sisters in uniform back home to their waiting families. This illegal invasions, looting, and systematic destruction of both Afghanistan and Iraq must end.

Only a complete boob would believe in "my country right or wrong" without pondering the merits of each national policy. Think about what kind of horrible atrocities that sort of feeble, blind nationalism permits i.e. illegal invasions of sovereign nations, the loss of civil liberties, rampant taxation to support favored industries and military build-up, torture, cronyism, corporate welfare, etc. These 'patriots' see a flag waving somewhere and suddenly every evil done its name become a morally righteous crusade, infallible and beyond any critique or question.

Sorry to say it, but my government and the corporate bastards that dictate our current national policy need to be taken down a few notches and face a hard reality. They are NOT America. They do not define what is American. They are nothing more than sycophantic abusers of ambiguous symbolisms and spout inane, meaningless jingoisms, while deceiving otherwise good, common people with platitudes and colorful banners.

I am a citizen of the world and if the place of my birth and my residence, be it Russia or the US, goes astray from what is decent and good, I speak up loudly. I don't give a shit about flags or national anthems. I care about people. Fuck the corporations and the bomb makers. They have enough blood money already.

Time to end it for good. But how?


Over-Reacting & Recovery

Over zealous prosecutions and overreaction to everything and anything that occurs is typical American behavior for any and all contacts with law enforcement or those who fall prey to public scorn or scrutiny. This era of zero-tolerance began with Republicans in the 1980s and has now reached its paranoid schizophrenic zenith under the ever-vigilant gaze of the Bush administration’s corporate lackeys and their badge-wielding protectors.

I have watched the government rhetoric and lingo change steadily over the last 25 years into something reminiscent of Soviet-era nomenclature. Everything becomes a ‘war’ on something, but really ends up being an attack on civil liberties in order to maintain the corporate status quo and eventually bleed the average American dry of money and the will to defend his own rights. Dissenters become ‘agitators’, protesters become ‘traitors’, and a man taking a leak become a ‘sex offender’, even though no sex was involved. Kids are expelled from schools for carrying nail clippers and sharing Midol, while airline passengers are strip searched and forbidden from carrying toothpaste on board.

We are the biggest nation of pussies, crybabies, and wimps on the planet. We are afraid of everything it seems. Everyday the ‘terror’ level are raised somewhere for something else. Meantime, the ones who instill the fear and profit from it turn out to be the very same people of whom we need to be wary. A Republican US Attorney soliciting sex with a five-year-old, and yet another law-and-order conservative getting caught looking for blow jobs in a rest stop men’s room.

I do not believe the Democrats innocent in this either. They are a bunch of complicit enablers who don’t know how to use power even when the majority of Americans DEMAND they do something, anything to protect us from the encroachment on our civil liberties. Bill Clinton represents the absolute worst of what the democratic Party had to offer in terms of his capitulation to the corporate establishment and the Republicans or the 1990s. Hillary Clinton will be no different, just a bit less charming, should she attain the Oval Office.

People who are emotionally secure do not live in fear, do not arm themselves for ‘inevitable’ attack, do not imagine enemies behind every bush, and treat their fellow citizens with compassion and offer the benefit of doubt whenever possible. The American trend for overreaction and overzealousness is a mental defect infecting every level of government, local, state, and federal. Their attitude leads them to justify tasering peaceful citizens, seizing assets without proper claim, and torturing those suspected of any and all offenses to even the 'spirit' of the state.

Individuals who behave in this manner are normally considered mentally ill and deemed as dangerous to both themselves and society. We isolate those individuals in order to protect society. What happens when a government goes paranoid schizophrenic? Who is going to institutionalize it? A government has never been known to stop itself from following the wrong course of action. How long before America seeks its emotional recovery?

Unfortunately, nations, much like individuals, must hit their 'bottom' before ever seeking remediation or therapy. I would like to believe that this nation, which regards itself as a beacon of freedom and democracy for the entire planet can see the light before the 'bottom', rushing up towards us becomes too close to avoid. Otherwise, it may be up to the people, through the upheaval and chaos of revolt, that bring the nation full circle and with very mixed results.

I guess we'll see.

Urination: Sex Offense?

A wise man once told me “Morality is something you do when no one else is looking.” Morality differs from ethics in that it has an intangible, personal, and non-causative motivation that disassociates it from the very behaviors it attempts to restrain. Morality is based in nothing more than “God said so”, or “just because” or, as is more likely the case, it becomes simply a matter of personal tastes being projected onto others. I have no objection to anyone having a moral basis for their own behaviors, but to project that intangible onto others is dangerous and misguided.

The inherent danger of morals are that, unless clearly defined, people will find the slope into control freakism very slippery and easy to navigate straight to the bottom. Something without a logical basis, not being reinforced by observable causes and effects, possesses no boundaries in terms of the insanity to which it may lead. The case of public nudity becoming a ‘sex offence’ is a good example of morality gone wrong.

A man stops to urinate along the side of the road or behind a dumpster. Certainly, it would be best if he found a restroom, but he didn’t, so we deal with what we observe. The poor bastard gets caught by a local gendarme and is cited for public nudity, even though the only public around was this man and the cop who saw him peeing. The man is then hauled before a judge and becomes a sex offender, even though there was no sex, no women, no children, or even animals present. The man was simply emptying his bladder in the same manner every one of us do at least three times or more daily.

Now, if the police officer wishes to cite this fellow for ‘public urination’ or littering, which I would agree he should do as we don’t want our streets to smell like cesspools, I would have no issue. However, the lawmakers, forever pandering to the senseless and vengeful moralists, have pushed for tougher penalties for any type of public nudity under the guise of ‘protecting children’. I would also agree that if our ‘public urinator’ was already a REAL sex offender that his behavior now should be treated more seriously.

Morality has made my penis a ‘wrong’ or ‘evil thing’ no matter what it is I am using it for or why I have it out. Morality, since it has no real rules to it, cannot distinguish between right or wrong and therefore anything goes and everything eventually becomes a ‘forbidden’, even under the most innocuous circumstances. People, whose behavior yesterday was perfectly acceptable, if not laudable become, by today’s ‘morality du jour’, enemies of society and virtual pariahs.

In America, we are masters of moralizing. We equate ‘right and wrong’ with ‘good and bad’, when the two have absolutely nothing in common.

For Karen

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Only constant thoughts of our time together make the days away from you the least bit bearable. I still see your smiling, radiant face looking up at me in the sunlight and I am smitten again and yet again by your beauty, intelligence, and passion. There is something so simple and so serene between us that we dare resist only because we haven’t acclimated to the joy we thought, perhaps, would never come.

I can tell you that I love you, but that wouldn’t be nearly enough to express what I truly feel. Words, no matter how fancy or rhythmic, born from the heart of the cleverest lyricist remain wholly inadequate. Our touching, our kiss together, is everything that anything joyous could be. Your bluest eyes shine as you speak my innermost thoughts back to me. Never have I known this sort of emotion.

We are left lying together, entwined in each others love-tired bodies, and laughing at each other's stupid jokes told in that hazy, haphazard Sunday afternoon post love-making fatigue. The world is all but abandoned to its own designs, not having us to care one whit was transpires beyond the confines of our love.

I love you.


If Elected : Vote Shlomo!

If elected, I would endeavor to implement the following changes to our society within the first three months of my administration:

1)Legalize marijuana, prostitution, and assisted suicide (If we are serious about the concept of individual freedom, then let's get serious about it!)

2) Universal Health Care (We can't shout "united we stand" with any sense of pride if we aren't willing to care for one another.)

3) Universal Education K-PhD (We always talk-talk-talk about the importance of education for the welfare of our economy and nation, but we treat students like second class citizens and force them to spend more time working than studying.)

4) Ecologically Based National Mass Transit System

5) Increase in Hemp production for paper and bio-fuel (No more special deals for the lumber and paper industry.)

6) The President will be permitted one intern-administered blow-job for each fiscal year providing the the budget is balanced for said year. Should there be a revenue surplus for any year, the President will then be permitted to have the intern stroke his balls as well. (Should the President be a female, then it means that I wasn't elected.)

7) There will be no bombs dropped on anyone who doesn't drop one on us first. No preemptive wars or policing of peoples whose nation's name most of us cannot even spell. If we don't like a nation's policies, we can just as easily ruin their lives by dropping Britney Spears albums on them.

Shlomo in '08!

Dear Hater

What I would give for hatred pure
Such a thing would surely give me pause
If only your sense of right and wrong be truly sure
In critiquing all my many flaws

But alas you’re just the sort of fellow
Whose merely hates which he can’t understand
Could anyone, white, black, red, or yellow
Ever fulfill your harsh demands?

So hate me as you do already
From that much I expect you won’t relent
Bearing rancor, firm and steady
Not for me as me, but for what I, to you, must represent

Come now, good hater, face up to your foe
Whom you regard in such low esteem
Then perhaps you can hate him from what of him you know
Rather than that for which he only seems

Talking Tough?

He challenged me boldly in two-fisted duel
Thinking I might be the kind of fool
To take him up upon this barbaric offer
Without pondering options I may instead proffer

With such hostility does he my person despise
Yet, were wherewithal had then perhaps otherwise
He’d engage me from across a board of chess
And spare us both a bloody awful mess

Having yet to decide which course to pursue
I’ll give it consideration, maybe just for a day or two
Reflecting upon the harsh, taunting threat
Before involving in something that I might later regret

Defeating me in combat he may very well succeed
But trust me on this, he will suffer indeed
Staggering home victorious that awesome night
While knowing for certain it was one hell of a fight

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hillary, Hillary

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Hillary! Hillary! Run for Prez!

Do just what the man on Wall St. says

Maintain, hold fast to the status quo

Or to the Oval Office you'll never go

Kiss some ass at Goldman Sachs

Shake all the hands at Pfizer

When on WalMart’s board

You were truly whored

And most were none the wiser

The health care talk that you began

During your husband’s reign

Now not a peep

Were you bought off cheap

By the big insurers again?

Go ahead and support that war

Of which you claim others deceived you

And that vote for wiretapping

Was just you slapping

The faces of those who dared believe you

Don’t tell us how you understand

Plights and pains of the working man

You forgot about us long before

You ever hit the Senate floor

You’re labeled as a real Democrat

But few of us are fooled by that

So go home now and wash that tush

‘Cuz to me you smell like rotten Bush!

Political Inexperience

Sometimes we hear a political candidate described by the incumbent he or she is facing as being ‘inexperienced’. It’s very catchy phrase, but honestly I have no idea what it means or why it matters in a political context.

I can understand why an auto shop would seek out a mechanic who is experienced in all facets of auto maintenance and repair. I suspect that, were I to require surgery or dental work, that I’d much prefer an experienced doctor or dentist to a relative novice. There is no way, in either instance, that I’d trust myself to a rank amateur.

Regarding politics, however, try as I might, I don’t see the practical effect of experience or the need for it. A causal look at the ‘experienced’ Washington politicians tells me that whatever political experience they have gained is proving to be detrimental to their characters and to the country overall. These ‘experienced’ elected officials are so morally and ethically bankrupt that they lie to us even when they aren’t running for re-election!

Now people will say that experience matters for several reasons. The most common rationalization is that experience and tenure offer the possibility of special committee appointments, only available to ranking members of Congress. Yet, it makes no sense to base these appointments on tenure rather than actual hands-on experience with the subject at hand. If senator has no military service or training, why would he be qualified to serve on a committee assigned to determine military questions simply because he has been re-elected by his constituency a dozen times?

A junior senator who had served in military and in the defense department would have an infinite knowledge and experience base when compared with the older senator sitting on the committee, but he or she don’t get the job. See, that sounds just plain stupid to me. If I were to drive into an auto repair shop and ask to have a consult on how to best repair my vehicle (otherwise known as the ‘estimate’), I would not want to speak to the guy who has been most popular with his buddies for the longest time, rather the younger mechanic who has hands-on experience. The young guy might not be the smooth-talking salesman, but he knows how to fix a car and that's why I drove my vehicle into a repair shop.

I would hope that most people want a government that works in the best interest of the people and addresses the nation's problems, hopes, and dreams in the same nuts-and-bolts fashion as would our younger, yet more hands-on experienced mechanic. I don't care how long the more popular fellow has known someone in the auto industry or that he has close personal ties with a tire manufacturer. I just want my car fixed. That requires one sort of experience; that of a trained auto mechanic.

In reality, the claim that one’s opponent is ‘inexperienced’ is meaningless argument. Yet, it must have a ring of truth to it for so many to nod their heads in agreement. Literally speaking, the candidate would likely be inexperienced due the fact that they never held the job before! Yet, the incumbent had no problem taking the position when he, too, was ‘inexperienced’. I'm sure, were we to look back at the campaign speeches of the incumbent, prior to his 'experience', he would have conjured many ways to claim such experience when, in fact, he is now claiming his challenger is a lesser man for possessing the same virtue.

The question of experience is moot anyhow. Politicians have an incredible support system awaiting them once in office. They have staffers, secretaries, legal teams, party advisers, and the collective expertise of those elected officials around them. I wish I had that much support and assistance in my own job. I would be able to do even less than the politicians!

What is the novice inexperienced at doing that would negatively affect his or her public service? Well, for starters, the novice is likely to be a wide-eyed populist, the sort of person who really speaks for the interests of the people and not merely for lobbyists or the party machine. This fellow would be the guy who had his credentials put into question from day one of his campaign. Why? He will not play nice.

I don’t want any more ‘experienced’ politicians whose ‘experience’ forces them into the mold of kissing the asses everywhere and anywhere they walk in DC, be they the ubiquitous lobbyist or the senior senator or anyone else. The claim of ‘inexperience’ is nonsense. I have seen what ‘experience’ in politics creates and I’m sick of it. It's a game of cronyism and seniority that has no tangible meaning whatsoever.

A whole lot of other Americans are fed up, too.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Feeling Much Better of Late

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I am starting to get into real good groove right now. I'm feeling somewhat better, and I am training almost as hard as before. I hope I can continue to step it up a bit more before the summer is out. I haven't felt this strong and energetic in a long time. It is amazing what a krahnkeit can do to your psyche.

I am back up to the usual drills, though with less intensity than I'd like. I still get dizzy and sick to my stomach sometimes, but as long I keep right on moving through the workout, it passes. the pain is intermittent. The 1/2 hour skipping rope, 1/2 hour on the heavy bag or speed bag, and then a 1/2 hour run seems to do the trick. I have to however, do my strength training, cycling, and stretching in separate work outs. I don't have the stamina for that much yet. Another 10 pounds down or so and I'll be in better form.

Kol Tuv

Saturday, July 28, 2007

On Anarchy: For Benjamin

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made.” (Oscar Wilde)

One thing that my education and experience have taught is that freedom comes with a price paid in the process of procuring and, once secured, in preserving it. That price, history has shown, is the willingness of the people, to leave the relative peace of their jobs, homes, and families to physically confront tyranny and oppression. Those forces of oppression, even when out of power, still desire to hold on and regain their former status. They do not change their stripes nor do they go quietly into the night. They attained and held their power through blood, slavery, and deceit and it is through such savagery, or the threat thereof, that power is to be wrested from them.

It is unfortunate that any human endeavor, especially one as noble as social justice, should be awash in violence and social upheaval. None of us desires civil war. However, we should not allow the false tranquility of the present, nor the fear of possible future chaos, to deter us from speaking up or acting out for social justice and parity. There is much to risk and much to lose, and the human psyche, once acclimatized, abhors change. Yet, like an addict seeking recovery, there comes a time where that man, or that society, reach the bottom of what they can endure and risk everything to ensure their survival.

Non-violence is a wonderful idea and, in a perfect world, Gandhi’s image of a peaceful transition of power to the people would be a welcome sight. However, we are not marching against a far-off British Empire split amongst itself on the issue of colonies and self-determinism encased in the courteous affectations of the Victorian Age. Those seeking ‘empire’ now do not break for tea at a set hour each day. We are now dealing with local and national police acting solely to protect corporate interests. These police agencies arrive in full combat gear and operate in full combat mode. They are fully prepared to do harm to peaceful protestors. How many times must we witness the trampling, gassing, and beating of peaceful citizens, exercising their 1st Amendment rights to gather peacefully, before you and others finally believe what your eyes are telling you?

We have all been thoroughly lectured by our media and those in power to believe that violence is no way to solve problems yet, those same people who speak against it, use it willingly and often when it suits their own personal or ideological ends. Why is the violence done by men in Kevlar helmets and badges condoned and supported, while the same violence perpetrated by men in tennis shoes and faded blue jeans, in reaction, considered as criminal? Is it the uniform and the ‘order’ it represents that you worship or do you ever consider the root causes?

The corporate overlords did not achieve their wealth without shedding someone else’s blood. Pick any industry or commodity around the globe and you will find human beings exploited by the hirelings of some far away and well-protected corporate master. For them, it is just ‘business as usual’. They are detached from the sufferings of every-day human beings by their social station. They do not share in the labor or witness the real-world nuts and bolts goings on of what must occur in the real world for them to amass such power and wealth.

Democracy and ruthless greed cannot coexist. Eventually, the people tire of their masters and rebel en masse. The lessons of history i.e. the American, French, and Russian revolutions that we, the people, so often take for granted, are not lost on the corporate aristocracy and their underlings. They know full well what will happen and are already making careful and deliberate plans to counter any dissent or rebellion. Those in power have a plan and are implementing it. To do so, they must diminish the power of the vote and voice of the populace, either through clever marketing or, if necessary, by subterfuge or military force.

Of course, anarchy can be peaceful. We can boycott those corporations we don’t like and we can still speak out. However, civil disobedience, such as that of an H.D. Thoreau is laudable, but the somewhat quaint circumstances surrounding his particular time no longer exist. The penalties for non-compliance are these days are much higher and much more costly. Thoreau chose not to pay a tax levied for the Mexican war and he spent a few days in a local jail for his anarchy. Choose not to respect and comply with today’s revenue service and the consequences prove to be good deterrents to any such form of dissent.

“When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion.” (C.P. Snow)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Taking Action : Anarchy & the Money Train

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It is obvious that those who were elected or appointed to keep a check and balance on the executive/corporate branch are, if not outright complicit conspirators, inept to the point of utter uselessness. It is also clear that the will of the people, as expressed by several polls and reflected the in the last Congressional election cycle, is being ignored. Lastly, the media, corporate-owned and sponsored, will no longer and nevermore act the whistle-blowing, investigating, and independent-minded voice it was intended to be by those who enshrined the rights of the press within the first few frames of our Constitution. Let’s face it folks, unless you want to obediently follow their plans for you, there is only one recourse left to the people.

I have no idea how that is going to happen and I sure as hell don’t think we can pull it off unless we can do it while the majority of our armed services are scattered all over the globe as they currently are now. Riots and civil unrest do get the attention of our leaders, because that sort of behavior causes a drop in stock prices and commerce which, in case you haven’t noticed yet, is the raison d’etre of the American government. If we slow down or impede the cash flow to the wealthy aristocracy, even if for a day, they will begin to buckle. This entire Iraq War is about that cash flow. Union busting is all about cash flow. Trade deals are all about cash flow. Lowered environmental standards are all about cash flow. It’s all they care about.

We unionize. We blockade. We protest. We riot. We revolt. We stop the money train. We join hands in defying them. They cannot do it without us, and we cannot stop them without each other.

Ultimately, and sadly, the wealthy elites and their personal protectors in government will have to be taken out and shot. Yeah, I know these are strong words, but you have to consider history and realize with whom we are dealing. Do you think they have any regrets when it comes to killing to make or protect an investment? The capitalists consider whatever damage they inflict upon humanity and nature as ‘collateral’. The accumulation of wealth and the power to control resources and labor is the only creed they know and, as history shows time and time again, they will go any length and make any justification in defending or promoting their greed.

My grandfather may have been an ardent Socialist at heart, but he never understood why the Russian Revolution had to be so brutal and unforgiving. He left the Soviet Union with his family under a cloud of disillusionment and disgust. I see now maybe what he didn’t see then and have come to understand why it is that the Bolsheviks had to destroy, kill, and erase every vestige of the old system and its holders. The fact remains that those regimes won’t let go of their power without fighting a ruthless and cruel war in response. Even were we to permit them to walk away with what they have accumulated and then accede to social and economic reform, they would adamantly refuse and unleash their armies and police to suppress any dissent or, even should they go peacefully, eventually return to reclaim what they believe to be their manifested ‘birthright’.

The violent anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries served as messengers of much needed political and social change. Those anarchists inspired many to stand up, and speak out. They set in motion the downfall of monarchies and erased class divisions around the globe. Those separations have returned and the keepers of the wealth and power have learned a lesson that we have long since forgotten in our heated jealousy to emulate and imitate those who dominate our culture and politics. We must become anarchists of some sort, either in word, in action, or in demeanor. It would be a start and perhaps, as we saw in both in 19th century Europe and the US, this anarchy could be the harbinger of greater social change and social justice.

Is peaceful change possible when those we elect ignore the people? I am no longer hopeful. Perhaps with peaceful defiance, an anarchy that stops the flow of wealth is what they need to jolt the ruling classes back into a social consciousness. If not, this nation will suffer either dictatorship or worse. If they refuse to hear your words, then it becomes required for them to feel your presence.

Take Action!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Look, It's Not Just Islam

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In recent times, due to the many arrests of American Moslems committing fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, and other crimes, there has been a lot of ballyhooing regarding the interaction of Islam and our rule of law. Still riding the nationalistic fervor of 9-11, these xenophobes attack the entire Moslem community for something which is not exclusive to Islam. It is an overall attitude into which fundamental religionists are raised. I know. I was raised around it, too.

See, the problem with the Moslem community is not that they are Moslem or that they originate from a different continent or culture. One does not have to arrive at our shores from New Fuckistan in order to possess the same sort of problems that we see with many Moslem communities in various nations around the globe. We have enough Christian, Mormon, and Jewish Americans, born and raised right here in the Good Ole US of A that exhibit that same type of casual indifference, if not even outright hostility, toward the established rule of law, who will flaunt the law when it suits their religious or political ends. Yet, in either case, the religionist feels that if his god sanctions or doesn’t explicitly forbid a particular act, one can look the other way if it conflicts with secular law.

(Examples: Honor killings of disobedient daughters, polygamy, the murder of physicians who perform abortions, election fraud, and lying to federal regulators in order to get more federal tax dollars for their institutions.)

Not everyone who isn’t religious is free from this particular sin either. Average people tend to disregard laws they feel are immoral or just plain impractical. For example, most of us have smoked marijuana or used another person’s prescription medication knowing full well that it was illegal, realizing those laws are misguided for various reasons. Some of us might even make repairs on our homes without consulting or getting the approval of city inspectors. Many others might boost their tax deductions a little more than they should to get a larger refund. That is normal, expected behavior. Some will go to Canada or Mexico to get cheaper prescription drugs and smuggle them back into the US. Given the right incentive, people will bend the rules a little. However, this doesn't mean that those people possess an utter disdain for the rule of law in general. Most people in this group will cite practical concerns as their reason for civil disobedience.

However, once we add religion into this mix, over and above the possible personal dislike for certain statutes, we have a person who is no longer acting on his own for his own earthly purposes, but now he is doing it for the ‘lord’, and this act, even if punishable on Earth, will receive an ultimate reward in the hereafter. A religious person believes that God's law is the ultimate authority on all issues governing behaviors and interaction. Orthodox Jews and Moslems alike prefer to settle their differences via own internal legal systems rather than go through secular courts. Like the Hebrew National hot dog they "Answer to a Higher Authority". Essentially, this belief fosters and attitude of non-compliance and even, in some cases, a complete rejection of civil codes and statutes. They aren't just common criminals, they are, what I call, 'Anarchists for God'. They see our laws as inferior to their own religious views and doctrines and, though not always contrary, still of the ‘lesser’ variety.

In addition, consider that our fundamental religionist may also believe that those of other faiths are not ‘saved’ or possessed by ‘evil’. We become, in their eyes, as second-class, misguided children, spiritual inferiors, or, at worst rebellious infidels. Judaism and Islam both possess two sets of rules for believers and non-believers with the ultimate goal of having everyone come to believe in some way. The infidel’s law, the mental product of infidel society, is to be ignored and that obfuscation is justified by this religious double standard. In their minds, the infidels and gentiles enact laws to protect themselves and each other and, to the devout fundamentalist, acting within the infidel's legal boundaries means that he is now enabling a system that his god most likely abhors. Non-believers are also imagined to be hostile to religionists. Using the secular system also allows the infidels and gentiles a view into their religious world; a world they would rather leave closed off to prying outside eyes whenever possible.

This is not to say that members of a religious community who commit criminal acts do so solely because of their faith. That is far from true. Criminals are criminals and the religious criminals use the religion and cultural differences as a shield from apprehension or capture. Still, if they can justify their act through the religion, it gives them the added comfort of not having the gods upset with their actions. Co-religionists as well, might turn a blind eye to such criminality because it would draw undue attention to the community and blacken their reputation among neighbors. Yet still, this attitude of superiority and a sense of being ‘above the human law’ contribute to that disregard.

Secular-Atheist types like me might not follow the absolute letter of the law either, but we also don't harbor any fantasies concerning divine systems of absolute morality and eternal justice emanating from some invisible, intangible higher power with dreams that it supersedes or supplants the established, secular legal system. I have no delusions of mankind authoring a perfect legal or political system that everyone can follow without hesitation, but at least the secular outlook avoids the absolute moral constructs and, therefore, can remove from the law outmoded, impractical considerations. We don’t claim perfection, but we can, when our system works best, strive for the next best thing.

Delusions of Health?

The supporters of the health care status quo in the US are defending a system, if the situation is to be judged by their own words, that doesn’t exist in any reality that I’ve encountered thus far. According to the advocates for the privatized, profit-driven health ‘management’ industry, you can see any doctor any time you wish anywhere that you prefer and be treated for anything right away. Excuse me, but except for the very famous or the incredibly wealthy that hasn’t been the case in the US for at least 20 years running. I’m left to ask at this point, exactly what country are they talking about?

I have a typical HMO plan that costs my employer somewhere between $280 and $320 per month. If I suffer abdominal pain that isn’t too severe, I can call my primary care physician and schedule an appointment. As a rule, I have never waited less than one week to get into see him and, by that time, the symptoms which plagued me have usually already passed. Then, when finally I do get to see this doctor and he refers me to the next level of ‘care’, I must again wait another week for the next appointment! So now, I have gone two weeks longer without having my condition treated and, in case you didn’t notice, I had co-pays along the way as well. Welcome to American Health Care! Hardly the fast and efficient service the privateers say they perform.

This reminds me of a joke my father, having spent his childhood in the Soviet Union, used to tell. It suits the situation perfectly.

A group of western dignitaries were in the Soviet Union and wanted to visit one of the local schools as a gesture of good will and international friendship. The commissar headmaster was notified by the political office, and together they prepared a carefully scripted question and answer session to be asked by the visitors and answered by the children. Each child was coached to respond in the most positive and enthusiastic manner.

On visiting day, the children were lined up in the gymnasium in perfect Soviet order, wearing neat school uniforms, and standing at military-like attention.

The first child was asked “Do you like your teachers?”

Soviet Union has nicest teachers!”

The next child was asked “Does the school serve good food!”

Soviet Union serves the best food!”

Another child was queried “Do you have time for recreation?”

Soviet Union is best place for lots of playtime!”

This assembly went on for some time with each subsequent response being pretty much the same as the previous one. The Soviet Union was obviously the greatest place on Earth.

Just then, as they were about to end the program, the leading dignitary heard a little boy in the back of the gym start to cry. The visitor walked down the row of students and asked “What is the matter? Why are you crying?” The little boy looks up, wipes his runny nose and says “I want to go to the Soviet Union!”

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Cardinal's Sad Haiku

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She calls to her crimson mate
He answers not
Cats watch from the window

Hummingbird's Haiku

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Answering the flower’s beckon
Laden while aloft
Home Precious Spoils!

Sham 'n' Scam : Fake Personal & Want Ads

Classified advertisements, especially those designed for dating and employment, are riddled with misleading and false statements. The singles magazines that one might get for free at a newsstand are filled with phony descriptions of fictional men and women seeking romance and companionship. This is an easy and simple scam to get you, the lonely love-seeker, to fork over your hard earned dollars in the hope that the person whose ad you just paid $28.95 to answer will possibly answer you back. Sure, you just listened to a human voice, but it’s just a recording made in 2002. If she or he doesn’t ever call you back, well, that just means you weren’t a match and you should try again with another ad.

I actually tested this out myself a few years back with several different singles magazines and about $300.00. They market these magazines usually to ‘professionals’, you know, people with money. Of the dozen ads I answered, I never received a response from any one of them. Not one. This, in spite of choosing ads that suited me and carefully wording my replies to suit the advertiser. I even misrepresented myself just a wee bit in several. Now, you might say that my little sampling proves nothing and you’d be sort of right. Yet, compare that with a personal ad I placed on a local (and free) venue not six weeks ago, wherein I received over twenty-five responses in one week, without having to embellish my credentials at all!

Now you might think it crazy that companies would post phony or misleading job ads, but it’s true. I’ve known it for years. Yet, did you know that your resume is meant to be rejected before they even begin the interview process? They want your resume so that they can tell the federal government they tried, and then they can now bring in guest workers and work to get them green cards. Corporations do NOT want American workers. The Department of Labor approves this practice.

It is interesting that when we talk about unemployment or the inability of many highly skilled or educated people to find jobs, that many will pick up the Sunday paper or go to and point out the hundreds of jobs posted for various positions. They, naturally and naively, believe there are jobs to be had for everyone. Well, such is not the case. The postings are a legalized misdirection to allow companies to exclude Americans from the work force.

Watch the video posted below and tell me just how corporations and our legal system are good for America or American workers. This is the video the HR companies and guest worker advocates don’t want you to see. They tell Congress and the American people that Americans aren’t available for the jobs yet, as this video shows, they aren’t really interested in hiring Americans at all.

So much for all the crap about corporations ‘creating’ jobs! Such bullshit. Class warfare is alive and well. Stop defending the corporations! They don't give a shit about you.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

What Happened to My Life? (The American Worker)

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Worker: I am now a production slave to seven machines of the kind I used to design on Unigraphics and Cadkey.


Worker: The company is owned by a Wall Street investment firm. And the good news is we beat the Chinese and Mexican divisions in quality, and speed. The bad news is, I give up breaks, and lunches to keep up with production.


Worker: I am on call 24 / 7 to come in and keep up the production quota. This is expected by the company (unofficially).


Worker: It costs me $3000 a year, NOT to use my medical insurance, but these are the best benefits that that can be found now.


Worker: Since my Military service, I have spent 3000 hours in classroom technical training, as requested by the Business community, and the Government because they needed tech workers. Those jobs are now located in India, China, or performed by imported workers for a fraction of what I was earning.


Worker: I make $5.00 LESS an hour than I made 25 years ago and my dollar goes nowhere near as far.


Worker: When laid off from my last job, as a last resort, I applied at farms and orchards, (you know, the jobs Americans won’t do), and was deemed over-qualified for the position and denied work.


Re: What happened to your life?

Well, that is an easy question answer. Unregulated, ruthless and truth-less Capitalism happened to your life. You became too expensive for them even after all the hoops you jumped through while trusting them that everything would still be alright. If they just paid less in taxes, less for your health care, had less government safety regulations, and maybe outsourced a few non-technical positions to “There-went-my-job-istan”, then you would be perfectly safe and weather the ensuing economic storm that snatched up many of your co-workers. You, my friend, are a huge sucker to have ever believed them.

It’s not all your fault, the corporations and the venture capitalists spend millions of dollars to convince everyone that they were really ‘benefactors’ and wonderful people running almost charity-like institutions. “We create jobs!” Really? Where are they creating jobs now? All around us for the last 30 years, we have seen the degeneration of American production and wages, and now, when it finally hits the white-collar sector, do we see even one little bit of outrage.

Do not ever believe that this is some result of ‘market forces’. Look back to the corporate advertising and lobbying of 30 and 40 years ago, and you see today in their vision of the future. This was a deliberate strike at worker’s rights, fair wages, and fair trade built upon the premises of Capitalism and the re-establishment of political and economic power into the hands of the few. They have so much propagandized and muddled the common man’s head with nonsense that even when reality strikes hard and sudden, the American whose wages and lifestyle are diminished will continue, even to the death, to defend the Capitalist who put him into that horrible predicament. They use you, throw you away, and then you fight for their honor! THAT is power.

Karl Marx was right. He viewed human history and he personally bore witness to the horrors wreaked upon workers, families, and children by that never-ending greed machine we refer to as the Industrial Revolution. He knew then that it was sustained only through morally reprehensible labor practices and it remains so today.

They don’t give a shit about anyone.