Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Brasil's "Confederados": You Left the U.S. for a Reason...

Because your ancestors lost our only Civil War, which killed
more military than any of our other engagements. You left the
U.S. because you couldn't accept the shame of losing, or
being required to set your slaves free...period. I had to sneer
suspiciously when watching the Vocativ video, where
hundreds of USA expats are shown wearing confederate-
era military uniforms and gowns, gala gatherings at their
home in Santa Barbara, Brasil, north of Sao Paulo. This
community claims it doesn't support slavery, sports three flags,
Brasil's, the U.S.' and the Confederacy's. They are proud of
their forbears' bravery and way of life, they say...a way of life
squarely built on slavery. These poor losers emigrated to the
last nation in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw slavery, 1888.

This humane abolition, accomplished by Dom Pedro II,
a forward-looking monarch who established democratic
institutions also abolished the Brasilian monarchy while he
was at it. It is ironic indeed that as Brasil moved away from
a less-than civilized society, our less-than desirable citizens,
not particularly interested in a way of life promoting dignity
for all, moved in.

One interviewee on Vocativ expressed a wish that the
U.S. could  accept them and their Confederate Flag...
nice try. Atavistic idiots in the Deep South keep raising
the outlawed flag (the Confederacy was NEVER a
nation, let's recall) only to shortly remove it from
public view by order of the LEGITIMATE
GOVERNMENT of the United States.

Examples like this bolster my opinion that the
past is never entirely gone, over, irrelevant.
Instead, it lingers, its effects much like a small
flame that can burst into a large conflagration
given favorable circumstances.

I fervently hope no circumstances occur which
would welcome these pathetic souls back to the
USA with open arms.
 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Errors Explored and Reviled: Air Travel Atrocities Astonish, Continue

--For Pete's Sake! For John, Mary and Dave's sake too...
CBS Network News this a.m. exposed yet another instance
of airline toffs with their heads in their behinds: Malaysian
Airlines, usually using a flight plan that takes their planes over
the Ukraine/Russian border, decided to reroute their planes
--this time, over SYRIA. WHAT...??

The June 2014 issue of Scientific American published a very
interesting, and telling, article explaining the psychodynamics
of Ponzi schemes, which go back centuries, sadly. A fairly
new discipline, behavioral economics, had to be developed
to explain humanity's contrary and irrational actions with
respect to money.  Following the money in this airline's case
proves the irrationality of plans emanating from the highest
corporate tiers--how else can anyone explain jumping from
the frying pan into the fire, route-wise, from the Ukraine
border to Syria?

Meanwhile, Malaysian Airlines was teetering on the
edge of bankruptcy before their two doomed flights
in the last six months. Poor management is evident in
their  CEO's thinking as announced a few days back,
at his press conference. The best outcome here is
that MA is bought out by better entities, better in
the safety, financial and plain good sense categories.

It's time to delve into Behavioral Economics, deep
enough to devise improved strategies for our actions
at home and abroad. Until then, air travel atrocities
will continue to astonish--to say nothing of the myriad
other sorts of illogical, harmful ways we behave.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Airlines Must Reroute Flights Over Conflict Areas

The surface-to-air missile murder of  Malaysia Airlines
Flight 17's jet passengers today near Donetsk in the
Ukraine killed over 290 souls innocent of violence
themselves. 17 was their unlucky final number.
It was an avoidable disaster...

Blame attaches to the airlines, even more than to
the Russians, the Ukrainians and the pro-Russian
rebels, for not rerouting the flight plan away from
this ongoing border dispute. That obviously didn't
occur to the officials of any airlines flying over
the area--but it should, as of NOW.

The three bad actors here, Russia, the rebel
faction and the Ukraine are not behaving in
a civilized or rational manner right now, so I
expect precious little from them. The airlines,
however, are a quite different matter; they are
a transportation industry, claiming that safety is
job one...hah! What they must do: standardize
safety measures which would include reroutes,
checked and adjusted DAILY, if need be.

Memo to anyone flying in the near future:
check the route your plane will be taking.
If it is over any area of conflict, change
your flight or even your plans. A truck-
mounted surface-to-air missile destroyed
a passenger plane at 33,000 feet in this
incident, reportedly.

Be savvy about your vacation plans--
and save your life. The airlines can't care
as you and I do...until the lawsuits start
rolling in. Perhaps a hefty suit will force
the airlines to be more attentive to areas
they fly over.

**********************************

Post Script: the FAA has now issued a mandate
forbidding flights over conflict areas; they HAD
previously published warnings to the airlines.
Perhaps other nations will follow suit soon.

Monday, July 14, 2014

About the Middle East: Get Serious, Stop Sending Israel and the Palestinians Money

It's time to talk turkey about the U.S. role in the Middle East,
which to date, of late, has been ineffectually weak and
unproductive. Really, these atavistically antagonist tribals,
the Palestinians and Israelis, couldn't care less about any peace
brokered by Obama, Kerry, et al. How many wearily
frequent flight hours have U.S. Secretaries of State Kerry
and Clinton logged in their visits to these contested areas,
only to return empty-handed? (--I can't count that high.)

Follow the money, therefore: has massive U.S. aid,
in the billions each year to both sides here, produced
any telling U.S. influence over events over there?
I think not. We get face time and politesse, much
less than ACTUAL RESULTS. Time for a radical
rewrite...

**********************************************
          In imagination's visionary view only:

 A Rose Garden Presidential Press Conference,
in any year, any U.S. President speaking:

"Today I must regretfully announce the ending of all
financial aid to Israel and the Palestinians. This includes
military aid as well. We will continue to offer medical
and humanitarian assistance at times, but that is the
full extent of our future commitment, beginning today.

For decades The United States has attempted to host
and/or participate in negotiations, but these two combatants
continue to remain intransigent, endlessly destroying lives and
property. The Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel's
right to exist as a national state, and the Israelis aren't
much more accepting of the Palestinians. The USA, in
sending financial aid, abets these violent conflicts, merely.

Here at home we need to focus far more on our own
problems, many of which can be ameliorated by better
policies and more funding. Our decades-long international
role as the world's policeman must end, if only to allow
other nations to mature in their own statecraft, absent
our paternalistic presence...and monies.

The Executive Branch and our Congress, for once,
have agreed on this new policy turn. We hope this
produces peace in the region, as nothing else has; we
wish all parties the best of luck, long life and
happiness.

(The White House Press Corp erupts into loud
cacophonous questioning, interrupting each other.)

No questions at this time. My statement is clear enough."
(The President walks away from the press conference.)

**********************************************

The last time the USA mediated a lasting peace in that
region, chiefly between Jordan, the PLO, Israel and Egypt,
it was accomplished by Jimmy Carter, a president who has
steeped himself in the history and culture of the entire
Middle East, proving it by writing intelligent books on
such subjects...hmm. That lasting peace occurred
in the 1970s. Apparently no one since has had the
same knowledge, expertise and demeanor to pull
off such stellar peace accords, still in effect in 2014.

Until another U.S. President and Congress attain
a comparable level of  international mastery, let's
stay out of Middle Eastern affairs altogether, ending
our billions in dollars and materiel of support,
a wake up call, clear and loud.

 Now THAT WOULD be getting serious about
the Middle East.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Can't Players Win Matches Without Violence? Foul Doings, Indeed

The World Cup team player from Colombia
(-THE correct spelling, gringos!) had to go ugly by
kneeing Brasil's (-ALSO correctly spelled) Neymar
in the back, sending him to a hospital in Fortaleza, with
an alleged broken back bone (but not the whole back,
thankfully). What has happened to the sports world's
skill sets AND attitudes?? Nothing good, bet on it.

Basketball, Soccer and other SUPPOSEDLY non-
contact sports have ratcheted up the violence in the
past few decades, which has sharply detracted from
the thrill of these contests; not by skill alone are games
won these days. Why must players take it for
granted that they will be seriously hurt, sooner or
later, if their careers last very long?--UNacceptable.

Since I played varsity basketball in Texas in the
late '50s (a guard with a reliable right layup shot), I can
speak to basketball's "evolution" as an almost completely
non-contact proposition to one where intentional fouls
are important aspects of strategy. --UGH!

I have no interest in Western Society's returning to
the days of Ancient Rome. Let's NOT employ
vicious gladiators, out to maim. I want to see skill
absent the pain, period.

Are American sports fair or foul? Lack of sportsmanship
in contests equals foul doings, indeed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Employer/Employee Paid/Unpaid Birth Control Benefits Scuffle--SCOTUS Decides, a Rare Right Decision

Hey now (Howard Stern's greeting), here are all the
sanctimonious, red-herring, truth-deflecting rationales at
work, pro and con: who pays for an employee's
birth control? Are these companies really religious, deeply
so, in fact, that they can't stand abetting by payout a
woman's (and her sex partner's) wish to contain
reproduction? I think not; it's merely a way to save
some on benefit monies paid.

A female howl now goes up: the giant corporations are
now in my bedroom, men still trying to control our bodies,
etc. While that may still be true in some quarters, women
are not actively being barred from obtaining birth control;
if one druggist denies this service, go to another! If your
employers won't pay for your birth control method, pay
for it yourselves! Planned Parenthood currently lists
the "pill" monthly tab at between $15 and $50. I live on
$12,000 a year and I could afford that.

Condoms, foam, the "pill": I paid for them all when I was
sexually active, with never a thought that anyone else
should pay for my intimately personal products. The only
persons obligated to buy such items are the sex partners
THEMSELVES. It is simply no one else's business...period.

The Supreme Court made the correct decision, a rare right
one lately, considering Citizens United and a long litany of
stupid, illogical and unjust votes. Still, Associate Justice Ruth
Bader Ginsburg is no fool, with her 35 page dissenting remarks
about creating a minefield full of future problems, precedent
being what rules (when rule IS actually employed) in our land.

We've entered the political arena (-AGAIN), with
Left vs. Right, Men vs. Women, ad libidinum, ad nauseam,
et al. Fractious fodder will fly, from now 'til November
2014 and beyond (-!).

P.S.: This has needlessly become a political and
religious football.
To women: You can choose to have/not have sex, but not
cancer--that is why birth control is not a medical benefits
issue or right, even though a doc writes Rx for the "pill".
To corporate execs: I don't believe in your denominational,
"devout" devotional denials. This is a money matter, that's IT.
To the Catholic Church: stop promoting overpopulation!
We don't need, and the Earth cannot support, the nine
billion souls projected to live on the planet by about
2050. The Holy Bible said be fruitful and multiply;
we've been there and done that, over, and over, and ....

When will reason, honesty and care constitute the
greater opinion and  policy we proclaim? --Coming
to our world anytime soon?

I'm still waiting.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Better Law: No Tax Exempt Status for Any Political Group

Make it universal, with no exceptions: then there
will be no easy opportunity for corruption, cheating,
BOLOs, etcetera. Why should any political
organization avoid paying taxes?  Whether we
mean the RNC, the DNC, the Socialists,
Public Citizen, the Tea Party (or any of many
offshoots), if you receive income, PAY
YOUR DAMN TAXES like everyone else
(except the Kochs and their fellow travelers)!

There are many "500" exempt categories in the
IRS list. Political groups enjoy tax-exempt protection
from "527", which category should be eliminated.
Only the destitute and ACTUAL charities deserve
designations denying tax-taking.

There are at least six 501 (c)s --we read and hear
about 501 (c) 3s far more than any of the others,
with their slightly different requirements. I'm aware
of fast and loose compliance problems in these
organizations. Several years ago the Sierra Club,
a 501 (c) 4, was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times
backing a particular political candidate, illegal according
to the IRS. I called the Club and the Times; neither
wanted to admit error or culpability to me,
even though I had the relevant IRS restrictions/
requirements at irs.gov right in hand.

**********************************************
--Do anything! --Say anything! --All for me and mine,
Let's grab great fistfuls of swag and hoard any monies
we've got now that we are demonstrably (and officially)
living la vida loca, the chaos of Back to the Wild West
in every aspect of public and private life.

Dear reader, don't counter with the objection that
good people still exist, I know that. However, not
enough of  them are cannily mitigating/militating
against every recent loss of progress, beginning
with the overturning of Glass-Steagall (1999),
which was (and is) one of the causative four legs
supporting the stool of the Great Recession, 2007
and counting. Voting rights, women's rights,
personal property rights, privacy rights, more,
are being seriously chipped away in favor of the rich
and powerful, which sets up an ever-increasing
drive toward BECOMING rich and powerful,
in fear of being marginalized or left out; hang
the moral hazards or harm to innocent others...
or the nation.

*****************************************
But time and treasure are being wasted on this
IRS, BOLO business with Lois Lerner, the U.S. House,
et al. Don't we still have an untenable debt? Aren't
we being laughed at all around the world for our
weakness while we're shouting about a U.S.
"exceptionalism" which is no longer what it was?
(-Reminiscent of post-Napoleonic France's
posturing as THE preeminent world power.)

Rue it, everybody--then get down to work,
time and treasure intensive though THAT is, too.
Change the tax laws across the USA; no tax
exempt status for ANY political group, period.
Now THERE'S some mighty, moral "exceptionalism".