Saturday, May 25, 2013

To Study War No More: THERE'S "A Consummation Devoutly to be Wished"

...thanks to Mr. Shakespeare's elegant expression from a mere
400 years' distance. We're honoring another Memorial Day,
dedicated to the military's dead and injured, sent to do a
nation's bidding, whether necessary or not.                                           
I say, lately, NOT. Recent pundits who point out that there
can't be an actual war on terror, as our enemies exist in too
many other countries (and here at home), are logistically
correct, maybe morally as well:

We meddle in many foreign affairs without doing the proper
research, too often sending out our representatives/operatives
without second and third language skills, then wonder, "why
do they hate us?" --Nevermind  others' resources we seem
to regard as our own, swaggering/swarming all around the
globe, then rebuke the crazy young man currently in charge
of North Korea. True enough, in recent years our military
leaders have trained servicemen/women to become more
engaged with civilians in the field, but this may well be too
little too late.

Meanwhile, anyone astute enough to follow economic
events and news sees our current but slipping stance at
the preeminent power position--the one, the only super
power. (-?) Really? Only in agribusiness and number of
nukes. Other states beat us in so many relevant ways,
infant survival rates, science education, sustainable
energy policy, ad infinitum. The USA does boast a
certain amount of stability and order, sometimes won
at a heavy cost of our privacy and civil liberties, as the
"authorities" make many mistakes and break the law
they swear to uphold.

On this and every other Memorial Day I salute our living
and dead men and women of the military. I grieve for them
and theirs, NOT the "leaders" who make them go.

If we survive, thrive and evolve, we as a world may learn
to study war no more. Now that's a wish worth working

Thursday, May 16, 2013

--Dare I say it?? Maybe the IRS had it right...

because after all, anyone (or any group) claiming they are entitled
to tax-exempt status, not merely a qualified reduction in their
taxes, will be, has been, subjected to extra scrutiny. That is
nothing new, shrill right-wing voices actually unfamiliar with the
Constitution of the United States notwithstanding...

and ABOUT them: over the last decade and more I've watched
these shallow, insular intellects declaim that the income tax must
be abolished, that it is unconstitutional, ditto for all other
taxation. Maybe these Evangelicals morphed into Tea Party types
might profit from perusing Article I, Section Eight. Enlightenment
is possible, but unlikely. Where will firefighters, police, public
schools and libraries come from, if there is little or no public
support by way of taxes? But logic is  not a strong, active theme
running through our land; we're being flooded by a rushing river
of benighted, bedazzled discontent.

Other organizations, little more than social clubs, seek freedom
from taxation on religious grounds--they are carefully screened
as well, rightly so. Everybody--read the tax codes, exemptions
and status, then decide if you honestly qualify. Until then, stop
embarrassing yourselves with public displays of sheer ignorance.

Maybe the IRS had it right.

The recent Associated Press matter, where reporters' phone
records were summarily seized by the U.S. Justice Dep't., is
a serious breach of law-the "Fourth Estate" protects, and is
protected by, the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

Friday, May 10, 2013

U.S. Banks' Autocratic, "No Changes" Attitude Enabled Latest E-Heist

America's banks and most retailers had better get up to date, as
no insurance company can endlessly fund such stupendous
e-heists as those pulled off all around the world and in New York
City on May 3, the off-key tune of  $45 million.
February, 2013 saw a similar ($40m) e-loss, earlier still,
a $5 million e-theft. All of these serious financial crimes were
facilitated by the USA's banks' refusal to abandon their
ubiquitous, outmoded magnetic strip technology.  (In 1963
I processed the same  plastic cards with those strips as a
candy seller at Chicago's Marshall Field's (now Macy's).

Many nations (not ours) have switched over to chip-embedded
cards, which are said to be virtually inviolable. Other states, not
wedded to 60+ year-old technology, still accept our business
transacted via these unsecured cards. Would it actually cost more
than the recent total $85m loss to join the rest of the world
in this way, securing scarce future monies, staving off anxiety?

--But NOOOO (as Belushi might say),  U.S. banks are perfectly
fine with their smug, stick-in-the mud intransigience-"We've
always done it this way", etc. Here's just another example of how
our country demonstrates declines in the ever-important quest
for most "preeminent" power on the globe.

Hey Chase, et al., good luck with that. You banks accelerating our
rush to the bottom will feel the pain, eventually.

Too bad the rest of us are being dragged down by your
blithe, "no changes" attitude.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gitmo, Democracy and: Ari Fleischer said WHAT??

Anderson Cooper  had legal analyst Jeff Toobin, former Bush II
administration honcho Ari Fleischer and two pretty/petty
correspondents on his May 3rd show.  Beaucoup  heated
interruptions, mostly by the women, spoiled ease of
understanding. Col. Morris Davis, (who resigned his post at
Guantanamo) participating remotely, made the most sense. 

About Guantanamo (full disclosure, I am half-Cuban): it must
be closed as it is unproductive, inhumane, gives aid and comfort
to our enemies' talking points, to say nothing about their actions.
We say we are interested/committed to humane
principles/actions, but facts don't always confirm such
high-minded notions.

(2) There was the usual automatic use of the word "Democracy"
 in connection to our much-vaunted, perfect society. The USA is
officially a Republic, check the Pledge of Allegiance. There are
not, never have been, any democracies: Ancient Greece, which
created the concept, had slaves, including their pedagogues
(professors). India is often touted as the world's largest
Democracy (by way of pop. numbers), but they not only have a
class system,  but a CASTE system too. Democracy is more idea
or ideal than true practice, patriotism, loyalty and familiarity
notwithstanding. We have bits and pieces of it, oh yes, but
full, untrammeled democracy eludes us still.

(3) Ari Fleischer vs. Jeff Toobin: Jeff made sense when he
pointed out that Hitler caused far more death and destruction
than terrorists have. I'd date that as far back as 1972, but others
will have better statistics. Ari seemed to claim Hitler obeyed
the Rules of War (Geneva Conventions, 1864) because Nazi
troops wore uniforms. There were far too many interruptions
for absolute clarity, but others and I got that strong
impression. HOW could Fleischer, a Jew, let such stupidity
fly out of his mouth?

Ari, say WHAAAT? Now, say it isn't so.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Diatribe Dilemma, Successful Social Hypocrisies, DeNyAll

Well, all's not well, "all along the watchtower"...isn't that from some
important song or other? There are sooo many urges toward
DeNyAll, everywhere I look: from personal contacts, recent
movies, media. "Be positive"; "Write down three good things
that happened today"; "Don't be so negative", ad infinitum,
ad libidinem, ad nauseam. 

The Tower of Babble/Babel grows ever higher: notice the at least
somewhat  worthwhile network tv shows replaced by more talk
and food dumbing downs-- especially the recent ABC-installed
"The Chew". --What a time waster! I'm betting (and hoping) that
the more productive among us mostly still stick to gathering
recipes and recipe books to improve our cooking skills. (I don't
have cable, it really isn't an improvement over the 50 channels
and sub stations I get free here in Chicagoland...yes, I've done
the research, "reviewed" cable for eight months, continue to
check the listings now and again.)  

Social hypocrisy is one of the lesser glues that keeps our culture
from completely deconstructing, particularly when one recalls
49 states in the USA allow conceal and carry. It is literally death,
or at minimum, becoming ostracized, to say what one
REALLY thinks. It's only necessary to watch different news
broadcasts as I do (not just the main info vendors) to
understand what violence results when hard honesty is

Back to DeNyAll: sports mania has overtaken the nation as
never before, Little League parents are scapgoating refs
at games with physical remonstrations (read attacks).
The Ivory Tower folks and little 'ol me have been
watching this accelerating phenomenon for decades.
(I wrote a play in 1963 at 18 which has made-up
sports as the opening scene....).   Any
diversion/distraction at all, avoidance, as psychology
has it, to defer the very hard work it will take to
craft a better world.  

This is my diatribe dilemma--where is the upward
trend that things are improving here at home and
all around Earth? There are moments of probity
and goodwill, but they are not the everyday
actions we all need.

Meanwhile, I'll go out in public, put on my game
face and try to spread some real good will...

Our common social hypocrisy is for the zombie-like
among us, the bewildered, the frightened, or those
who have given up, but not for me.

P.S.: Read a book! Actually, even more than  20
every year; read science websites; subscribe to science
pubs; check news/views online from other nations. 
Awareness DOES exact a price, but I've always
found it vital.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ponderous Political Punditry and Orotund Obfuscations

I dream about a sobering route of incompetent incumbents on
both sides of the aisle, but worry that the average American's
attention span is fleeting, as Alexis De Tocqueville indicated
in his three volume work, Democracy in America, around 1830.
Not much has changed except the clothes and the gadgets,
despite all the ponderous punditry and politicians' orotund

Look at the current commotion over "Obamacare", due to take
effect in January 2014.  While there are excellent provisions
in the new comprehensive law, there are just criticisms as
well. Among them: little guidance as to which insurance
carriers will be consonant with all the law's mandates.
Mr. Obama smoothly reassured us by "reminding" us that
this (controversy and anxiety) is a recurring process,
when something vast and new becomes national law.
Somehow the lack of relevant detail (despite numerous
pages) seems familiar--something like Mr. Clinton's
many unfunded mandates.

Since the package's proposal, a plethora of  vested
interests, regular folk, media mavens and pols have
weighed in with their opinions, fears, and utter lack
of probity.  This too is a classic case of more heat
than let's read as much of the document
as we can, and bypass the talking heads....

Otherwise we'll be captured by all the pundits and
obfuscators, to no one's ultimate benefit.