Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cold-Blooded Rich Men

"I saw something on the internet. . . the qualities you need to succeed in business are the same ones cold-blooded killers have. No empathy, no emotion . . . whatever it takes to get the result you want."
by Ian Rankin from The Impossible Dead.

In a recent column, Paul Krugman of the New York Times declared there was something wrong with the soul of the Republican Party.  Another author said, "The country was burning with right-wing fever, and it was hard to find anybody, on the right wing talk shows or in the stumps, who seemed to think that the federal government was good for anything but building more bombers and prisons and providing care and feeding for big business and right-wing politicians."

Sounds pretty much like our two most recent presidential elections, doesn't it?  The latter quote came from Dream of a Falling Eagle (A Mongo Mystery) by George C. Chesbro.  The copyright date is 1996. 

Well, Mr. Krugman, a lot of us, not just George C. Chesbro, have known for many years that something is wrong with the souls of right-winged conservatives.  I can recall as long ago as the year 2000, telling some of my friends at work that we had a new caste system in the United States.  Everyone, of course, became aware of the severity of things with the financial crisis.  The Media write about it . . .  speak about it . . . and evaluate it to death.  Yet, nobody does anything much to fix it.  I hope your article does the trick.

I've no problem with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet becoming multibillionaires.  I even admire them for doing so.  I also suspect they are not among the individuals who seriously harmed others to rise to the top.

But there is an element of upwardly mobile individuals who, like the cold-blooded serial killer of the first quote, simply have lost -- or never had -- the ability to understand and show consideration for others.  Many of these will step on the heads and hearts of anybody to get ahead.  Chief among the victims are the people who work for them at inadequate salaries and for little consideration.  I've ranted for over a year now in hopes of getting this changed.

Ignoring the worker bees may fill the company coffers pretty fast at first, but over the long haul, it undercuts the entire economy of the country.  Around 2007-2008, in particular, it upset the balance for most of the world.

At the risk of being redundant (a tool which may actually underscore an idea), I want to point to Henry Ford.  He has been quoted as saying that he wanted to build his automobiles and see that his own employees could afford to buy them.  This implies he believed in paying them an adequate wage for doing so.

So what happened along the way?  The lobbyists working for big business, for one thing.  The politicians who will need jobs if ousted out of politics.  The misconception that cutting jobs and outsourcing will improve an economy.  The lack of foresight to see that countries at work improve the situation, so it is unwise to cut government jobs in a pseudo attempt to conserve funds.  Cutting jobs does not do much good if the problem is underscored by too few jobs already.

Believe me, there were many times as a worker bee trying to feed and clothe my children on seventy-five per cent of my earnings that I wished we would have another Boston Tea Party. 
The loss of dollars not just for taxes, but also for health insurance, Medicare and Social Security when trying to serve as Head of Household on inadequate income (and much of the time no child support), was no picnic.  But at least we could hope for some remnant of security in our old age -- from our own efforts.

Now, we have basically unthinking individuals cutting worthwhile and needed services across the board -- frugality for the sake of frugality.  Frugality to get reelected.  Frugality with no thought for the human condition and human need.  Frugality with no humanity.

You are right Mr. Krugman.  There is something wrong with the soul of the Republican Party, at least the right-wing conservative part, as well as the idiotic, unthinking Tea Party members who lack the ability to discern the difference between cutting for the sake of cutting and cutting to eliminate waste.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dear Mr. President

Headnotes:  *1  I finished this article Saturday.  On This Week today, Sunday, July 21, someone finally said Travon Martin also had a right to stand his ground, or at least to use it as a defense had he been the one who survived. 

**2  There are multiple pieces posted on Facebook about black on white crimes, resulting in death, that are not getting the attention of the Travon Martin death.  One of these was a babe in arms.  Have we grown so used to black on white crime that we are immune to it?  Why is there no white outrage?  Because it is politically incorrect for whites to express it, but politically correct for blacks and others to protest white on black crime?

I am a Caucasian American great grandmother who listened to your remarks trying to explain why African Americans feel as they do concerning the Zimmerman trial verdict.  There are so many reasons why we did not need to hear your words.  There is an element in our country that is deeply prejudiced and nothing you or I can say will change them.  But, Mr. President, most of us are trying to make relationships between the various cultures work.

First, let me say that I voted for you in both elections.  I have not agreed with you one hundred per cent of the time and since I write this political blog, I generally say so.  Yet, I've made a continual ass of myself defending you to my conservative family and friends.  To my liberal Democratic acquaintances, no defense has been necessary.

Second, may I vehemently state that it is not just African Americans who are upset with this verdict.  Perhaps it might be wise to explain this stance by eliminating race for the moment.  Let's refer to the bias in this case as hoodie bias.  Don't laugh.  It is quite real and supported by television characterization.  There are signs on many store entrances saying "no hoodies allowed".  For warmth on cold, snowy days, I sometimes wear hoodies.  I have to pull down my hood in order to enter just like a young teenager, black or white.

Now that we have hypothetically eliminated race, let's examine what else was wrong with the verdict.  Mr. Zimmerman presents as a type of person I call a "hot dog."  Such hot dogs are attracted to the police force and/or neighborhood watches for the chase scenes and the power they can experience from the positions, rather than to serve and protect.  Mr. Zimmerman had the additional misfortune of being a frustrated, "wannabe" officer.  Now he has to focus all his power and chase desires on his neighborhood watch program.

Zimmerman happens to live in a state that will license residents to carry concealed.  Liberal Democrat though I tend to be, I happen to believe that is a good thing, not bad.  Mr. Zimmerman becomes licensed to carry concealed.  Now we have a frustrated wannabe cop licensed to carry concealed.  His enthusiasm for his power has not ebbed at all in the process.  The protection of the gun has increased that power. 

From what I have read and heard, during training he was taught he should not get out of the car.  Any suspicious activity was to be reported to the police department and he was trained to let the officers handle it.  In addition, there was a transcript of the dispatcher interacting with him that night.  The dispatcher apparently told him to stand down and let the police take over.

Zimmerman was not satisfied with these instructions.  Now our hot dog watchman took matters into his own hands.  He disobeyed orders and jumped out of the car.  He set up his chase scene and became the aggressor.  You know, I probably would have attempted to neutralize Zimmerman, myself, had he been following me.  (And, yes, it would happen to me.  Our own overly aggressive watchmen tailgated me as I returned from work just before ten p.m.  They were in a huge truck.  I was in a little Ford Escort hatchback.  It was a frightening situation.  I turned around and followed them).  He deserved it when Mr. Martin turned on him.  It doesn't matter whether Travon Martin was black, Asian, Caucasian or Hispanic.  (*1)  Travon Martin had a right to stand his ground and defend himself as well.  Has a single individual said that Travon had that right?  Everybody seems concerned only about Mr. Zimmerman's rights.

Now, let's reintroduce race to the equation.  All you people out there don't understand that Travon Martin was afraid?  You don't understand the history of African Americans in the South?  You don't know of the black Americans who have been beaten, hung, pulled behind cars, killed any number of ways?  You or I would have been afraid when some unknown individual began aggressively chasing us, much less Travon.   

It doesn't matter who Travon Martin was the day before this event or who he would have been the day after.  That night he was a teenage kid walking home from the grocery store, carrying a cell phone and a soda -- and some nut job started chasing him down.

It is my belief that Zimmerman should have been convicted.  So, he was afraid for his life at the last minute.  So was Travon Martin.

To Travon's family I would like to say this.  Your son does not belong just to the African American community anymore.  He's one of mine, now, too.  I'm sure a lot of us white folk feel that way.  Your son could have been Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, or African American as he was.  He was the victim of a needy man who just had to exert his importance and his power over others.

This leads toward the end of this letter, Mr. President.  There is something we need from the African American community to help us make these race relations work.  (**2)  We need for every interaction between us to cease being evaluated as racist or not racist.  We need each event to be evaluated without the race card being played first.  Then, once we have discerned the truth without race, we will be better able to factor in that bias. 

We also need African Americans to stop saying things on television like "We need to stop this black on black crime," as if black on Asian or black on white crime is okay.

We need for all African Americans to understand that it isn't just black kids that cause us to lock our doors.  Any kid eyeing us or our purses gets the same treatment.  But when it is a black kid that hears the locks click, many of us have very real reasons for doing so.  It wasn't a white, Asian or Hispanic man that held a gun in my face, demanded my purse and threatened to shoot if I screamed.  It is not a white woman that apparently keeps trying to get my credit card number.  It's the same black fifty something one every time.

It takes both sides working together to eliminate the walls between us.  Our generation did not enslave African Americans, yet we take the rage from it.  Most of us are trying to make it up.  Please lend us a helping hand in the process.

Racism is, indeed, a two-way street.  We whites just aren't politically correct if we express our concerns to you.  We have to remain silent.  Well, now I have spoken.  Does that make me racist, too?


Lou Hough

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Stop the Power Struggles

When the country was first begun, divisions between State and Federal governments made considerable sense.  Maintaining contact between the different locations was a long and time consuming matter.  It was 1837 before access to telegraph.  The telephone wasn't invented until 1876.  Trains weren't much help in early stages of the railroad in the late 1800s.

The Revolutionary War was 1775-1783.  Signing of the Constitution was in 1787.  Granted, the area of the first thirteen states was small compared with the country, today, it still required horseback or primitive methods of transportation -- back and forth -- to keep in touch.

Only 39 of the 42 delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed on the dotted line.  Rhode Island refused to send anybody to represent them.  The reason -- you guessed it -- they didn't want the federal government interfering in Rhode Island affairs.  Ho-hum, ho-hum.

Everybody knows there would have been no union after the civil war without great concessions to the states.  It seems that states rights versus Federal control have been a never ending conflict ever since.  Sometimes it is simple childish squabbling, more or less power struggles for the sake of power struggles. 

But, really folks, some issues just are not Federal issues.  Perhaps gun "control" should be one of them.

Several states rights advocates are currently fighting the Common Core State Standards which were designed to make sure school children everywhere got exposed to consistent curricula.  In comes "Zorro and his sword" (conservative politicians) saying the Federal Government doesn't belong in education.  There is no more important area of government and none that will be better served by Federal oversight.  Such oversight would not only make sure all students were at least exposed to consistent subject matter.  It also assures that money is spread around better.  Students in impoverished states or districts will have more opportunities to learn than they would under local control.

There is a big enough discrepancy in teacher quality from classroom to classroom without aggravating the situation by letting local politicians get their unqualified selves in the mix.

Isn't it about time we set aside our power struggles and work toward the greater good?  This is especially the case concerning the education of our children.  It takes a lot more people to lead our country to success than just politicians.  You don't care about the kids?  Okay, care about yourselves.  They are your future, so you had best make good investments in them.

All Hail Malala!

May her words be heard to the ends of the earth and ring through all nations that we may find in any galaxies elsewhere.

What is wrong with Taliban and radical teachings today has been wrong since Biblical times.  For example, they did not count women and children when Jesus fed the multitudes with loaves and fishes (Luke 9:12-14). 

Webster's dictionary defines the word chattel ". . . any article of tangible property besides land, buildings . . . a slave."  In many lands, for many cultures, women have been treated as men's belongings.  It's no wonder men, including western guys of yore, are so reluctant for women to become educated.  Once they learn their capabilities, they will no longer allow themselves to be treated as chattel, as slaves.  They will "stand up and be counted."

In the movie, Syriana, the costuming, alone, shows a distinction.  Keeping in mind the Hollywood white hat/black hat view from the past, take a gander at the men decked out in blazing white while women swelter in black from head to toe.

American men, you've come a distance from middle Eastern style thinking, but the roots are still there.  When considering any of women's issues, take note of how hard the Taliban and other radicals fight to keep women in their "place."  That was your culture, your roots, in another time and environment.  And may the good Lord help us, you fight desperately to hold onto the idea that we are yours to control today.

Malala speaks to the real needs of women in the Middle East in this age.  She almost lost her life for wanting to earn an education.  It was, to these monsters, worth risking their immortal souls to stop her from being schooled and from finding her true capability and worth.  Don't you know those men are terrified of women finding that they are equal to them?   (Gentlemen, if you experienced the slightest rebellion against the idea we are your equals, I am speaking to you.)

Apparently the Almighty is ready for these oppressed Middle Eastern women to find their valid place in society at last.

Malala has risen from brain injury and near death like a phoenix from the ashes.  She speaks louder and stronger than ever.  All hail Malala.

Friday, July 5, 2013

To Trust or Not to Trust This Administration?

It's hard to figure out whether to laugh or cry about the "scandal" news these days.  A little of both is probably in order.  For sure, everybody but the politicians and the media are sick beyond belief of the constant sniping and fault finding.

I've been reading my way through several historical records about presidents and their families.  From After Camelot by J. Randy Taraborrelli, as well as The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro, one gets the sense that both the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations faced constant stone-walling by Congress.  President Johnson, who cut his teeth in Congress, warned President Kennedy that he needed to carefully select the order in which he presented bills for consideration.  President Johnson said President Kennedy's most crucial and important work could be held up indefinitely if he introduced the most controversial work first.  With the typical disdain with which elitists hold ordinary people, they ignored his warning.  At the time of his death, much of President Kennedy's work was, indeed, bogged down as predicted.

President Johnson turned out not to be so ordinary, either.  His wheeling and dealing days before the Vice Presidency gave him a savvy, as well as power enough, to wheedle and ram through much of President Kennedy's and his own agendas.  Like many Americans, I've stood in awe of the Kennedy legend since it's beginning.  I also sold President Johnson's skills way too short.

In The White House Diary of President Jimmy Carter, notes on his work indicate his own struggle with the legislative branch.  In one note, he says that colleagues told him that Congress respected him, just not the office of President.  (Too bad, Congress. Do we have to send you back to school to study the reasons for our balance of power)?

I know I've had my favorite president's.  I've also had my dislikes. But favorite or nemesis, a President's role is an important one.  The Constitution was designed so there would be this balance of power mentioned above.  We, the people, sometimes forget this.  It is inexcusable for any branch of the government to devalue or ignore the importance of the other.  With the power balance, no one individual or interest group can take control away from the people.  We have a President, a Congress and the Courts to keep everyone in line. 

But, Congress is not the only culprit in our interchanges.  As to the phone and internet data collection, all three branches were supposedly involved in the "threat" to our personal freedom.  As to the IRS scandal, appropriate heads should roll.  As for administration staffers deciding what to and not to tell the President, other heads should also roll. 

As to the airhead geeks who keep downloading classified documents, you are traitors to your country, not heroes.  However much conservatives and liberals alike think we should know every time the President has to blow his nose or Congress makes a decision to improve our protection, we just don't need to know.  The fact that you could do such a juvenile thing is indicative of your inability to make rational and intelligent decisions.  Our Civil Liberties and our freedom are threatened by what you know?  So, our very lives can be threatened by what you did, to say nothing of the damage your actions do to diplomatic matters and our country.

You enemies of this President or you Congressmen looking for fodder to win elections, know this.  You are all standing in the way of important decision making and actions that could get America back on track and our people back to work at the helm in this world.  Calm down.  Stop to think.  Please find out what you can do to help instead of impede.  And for goodness sake, geeks and politicos alike, stop showing your ASSES to the whole world.  You are giving us a bad name and making us more vulnerable to our enemies.

And to all my government branches and your agencies, please feel free to collect information on my blog page views (, e-mail addresses and phone information.  In fact, statistics about my political blog show the following page views from other countries.  Please track these reads to find out if any of them happen to be from terrorists.  I would be delighted for you to use them to save innocent lives.  Besides at least 671 views from the United States, there have been 41 from Russia, 27 from Germany, 11 from Sweden, three each from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, Two from both France and South Korea with one each from Columbia, Hungary and Israel. 

You might also want to figure out who keeps hacking my Facebook page.  Hard for me to tell if it is friend or foe.

Bottom line, if collecting information on my personal information can save even one life, please feel free to use it.  I may be an irritant to many political figures, but I am committing no crimes.  I'm proud to be an American whose information can serve my fellow man, even if it is merely letting you collect my private data.  I don't think my trust is misplaced.

Damned Whatever You Do

Over and over, This Week returns to the usual topics with some of the usual suspects pontificating as if they (and I) actually know what's going on at the White House.  The airwaves and the Internet have inundated us for a couple of years now with outcomes of the Arab Spring, especially the ongoing Syrian Civil war.  In fact, for a couple of months, my conservative Republican cousin had been sharing posts bad-mouthing the Administration for providing arms to Al-Qaeda rebels involved in that war.  I laughed a weekend or so ago when said posts began reading "might be going to provide" instead of had already done so.  But then, it became a done deal.  The Administration is now sending a small supply of small arms to the "right" rebels in the country.

In a rare move for him, my most oft quoted conservative columnist, George Will, affirmed that he had said all along that Obama was right not to have gotten involved in that war.  Don't faint from shock at this particular conservative offering support to any liberal, especially a Democrat.  Predictably, the decision to provide arms, he now says is WRONG -- just that loudly -- despite the fact a previous Republican presidential candidate says we should be involved (McCain).

The general consensus of the Roundtable the weekend we jumped into the fray was that this step was too little, too late.  Maybe, but let's not be too hard on him for this part of the decision.  He had to make at least a token move now.  His real mistake was in stating some time ago that if Assad used chemical or biological warfare on his own people, we would have to intervene. 

In an earlier blog article ("The Folly of Lines Drawn in the Sand"), I certainly warned everyone that if you threaten, you must follow through when they call your bluff.  Anyone want to introduce this Administration to my blog?  Oh yes, who am I, an obscure author, to hold an opinion that might be of interest to political powers?

But even if they won't read me or resort to consulting experts, won't they at least look at the most recent president's example?  You tell a country's leader you will go to war if he doesn't show his weapons and you have to go to war if he doesn't -- even if he has no weapons to show and you wind up with egg on your face.

So, don't be too upset with our President over this.  He said he would act and he is.  He is sending a token supply of token-size weapons meant to reach "real" people conducting a civil rebellion.  But should the weapons fall into Al-Qaeda or other enemy hands, they won't have received the big guns they might prefer.

As we have all observed for the President's entire stay in office, it hasn't mattered what he has done.  His enemies have almost slammed shoes on tables to get him to move in a certain direction only to stone verbally once he did their bidding.  There's no question they will damn whatever he does.

May God see that all these people lose their hold on power as soon as possible.  The country needs reasonable people with cooperative, intelligent positions.