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.