Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Schindler - Sendler

Irena Sendler
Died age 98
May 12, 2008
Warsaw, Poland
This is a short story about a wonderful but little known woman, Irena Sendler.

During WWII Irena got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto as a plumbing/sewer specialist.
She had an ulterior motive, she KNEW what the Nazi's plans were for the Jews, since she was German!

Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and she also kept a
 burlap sack, for larger children in the back of her truck.

She also had a dog in the truck trained to bark when  Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.
The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog.  And the barking covered the infants' noises.

During her time on the job she managed to smuggle out and save 2,500 children and infants.

She was caught and the Nazi's broke both her legs, her arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the children she smuggled out and kept it in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard.

After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family.
Sadly most had been gassed.
Those children she helped got placed into foster family homes or were adopted.

Irena Sendler was up for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize but she was not selected.


I hope you'll consider passing along this story and keeping her memory alive.  You may also wish to read about her on your own.  I encourage you to do so.

It is now more than 65 years after the Second World War in Europe ended.This memorial is in memory not only of the six million Jews who were brutally murdered but also of the 20 million Russians, the 10 million Christians and the 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated!

Now, more than ever, with Iran, and others, claiming the HOLOCAUST to be 'a myth' it is imperative we make sure the world never forgets because there are others who would like to do it again.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Enough is Enough

On the “Up with Chris” show this morning an argument was given by a conservative pundit, Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner that murders in America are not actually a function of gun ownership.
Conservative talker Tim Carney
He cited statistics from Russia showing that while that country has banned individual ownership of guns the murder rate has nevertheless remained high.
Chris Hayes
This type of cherry picking a statistic to prove a partisan or favorable point for one side of an argument is wrong, disingenuous and quite frankly dangerous.
But it has nevertheless become part and parcel of the conservative, right wing movement’s message on anything they espouse or are against.
Sadly this time it borders on the ridiculous.
The main problem fair minded people have when trying to argue against this type of silly analogy is where to start.
For example, why suddenly choose Russia?
Have we been comparing America to Russia all along?
Is Russia the authority on gun control or the lack thereof?
Has the speaker spent extensive time in that country?
Has he examined the social constraints of the citizenry?
Does he have intimate knowledge of the Russian criminal  and their tactics?
I could go on but hopefully the point is made that the statistic he alluded to, while possibly accurate to some degree may not have come out of an unbiased poll but rather a generally hidden part of the speaker’s body upon which he sits!
And the counterarguments come out of the woodwork whenever someone suggests for a moment that we should ban or even just limit gun ownership by average Americans. And while they come from various directions the words emanate from only one place, the cold dead hands and mouths of the National Rifle Association.

NRA Members today
No Longer NRA Members
We should all know by now how extensive a reach into the once hallowed halls of Congress the NRA has since no Senator or Congressman has been able to speak out against them and get reelected.
They are not replaced by other candidates merely because they have outlived their usefulness but rather because they lost the bribe money that fills today’s campaign finance coffers.
But back to the singular argument that equates America’s rampant gun shot caused deaths with those of Mother Russia.
Conservatives use this glorious statistic to prove that banning guns will not lower the murder rate.
However they will lower the gun shot induced murder rate and at least that’s a start!

Walther PPK ala 007License 2 Kill
While some will hide behind the second amendment and its vague wording it is good to note that it does actually mandate we all carry concealed Walther PPKs or AK47 assault rifles manufactured by the NRA!
That document does call for a well regulated and armed militia, a police force which we seem to have in every corner of the country.
AK 47 so necessary for deer hunting!
Does any individual really need an assault rifle with a ‘clip’ that holds a thousand bullets?
If he is going hunting and needs that large an arsenal to take down a deer then maybe hunting isn't his best hobby.
And also note that our government had the sense to step in and stop individual ownership of tanks or surface to air missiles!  I guess the NRA doesn't have the contract to build those.
So noting that there is a sane limit to how much is too much let’s take this one step at a time and use what I feel is a perfect analogy, if I do say so myself.
When the automobile came into existence it was a not too dangerous novelty.
But as years of improvements made it faster that changed. Soon there were car accidents that caused injury or death.

The government rightly stepped in and laws were implemented to ensure vehicular safety.
In no specific chronological order the new rules were:
Windshield wipers to help drivers see in the rain were invented and made mandatory.
To stop passenger deaths in the event of an accident we have seatbelts.
When those proved ineffective against certain injuries air bags were added.
Side impact accidents occurred and so then did side air bags.
‘Driving under the influence’ laws are standard.
Anything that distracts a driver and can cause an accident or death such as hand held phones etc. have been and continue to be outlawed, although this is still a work in progress in some States.
I could go on but the simple indisputable fact is that with every new rule or ban or law another cause of unnecessary death is taken out of the equation.
And that’s how we must deal with guns in America!
Starting today or as soon as Congress can take enough Zantac to allow them to face their backers without crumbling we should ban assault rifles completely.
Then pass laws to limit the number of handguns while granting owners grandfathered exceptions.
We can then get rid of the balance through attrition and gun ‘buy back’ programs.
Make this tragedy harder to reoccur
If the murder rate rises or stays elevated we may then go after the new reason and work on combating its cause.

Car safety is a work in progress that hardly anyone disputes is a good idea.  It is also a boon to new industries such as the aforementioned seat belt and air bag producing industries.
But even though gun control will not create new industries and somewhat hurt the funereal service one we should still pursue the righteous cause.
Let’s make progress in gun control a social issue of equal import to car safety and stop needless tragedies such as the latest one in Aurora, Colorado and the next one in ???

Don’t allow silly biased statistics to stop progress.
Little by little we can make America a safer place for all Americans!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Politics is The Same Everywhere

Nasty evil men used to stand in the shadows to do their dastardly deeds. They’d hide from the light of day and when caught they’d slither away. But it seems they all slithered to government.
They say all politics is local. That is true, but it’s also national and International and all of it is in dire need of fixing!
First local:
In Nassau on Long Island we are facing a $45M year end deficit that all sides claim is due to infighting. Republican county comptroller Mr. Maragos blames the shortfall on the minority Democrats failing to work with the current administration!
Does anyone sense a theme here?
Republican majority comptroller blames the Democratic minority for our woes on Long Island while in DC the Republican overall minority blames the Democratic majority for all the woes in the country!
So which is it gentlemen?
Clearly the Republican Party from local and all the way up to Federal levels wants it both ways and they want it at the expense of those who can least afford to pay.
At least on LI we must stop the finger pointing and start the handshaking! Get it done or get gone!
On Long Island they are in command but continue to give away the store to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
At state level we see so many examples of new laws that border on draconian evil as to make us wonder what century we are living in, let alone year.
Women are just going to
line up for this procedure!
Rulings such as mandatory vaginal probes and ultrasounds if women of Virginia wish to avail themselves of a LEGAL abortion or even seek out medical advice are proof of a scary trend.
In Florida, Pennsylvania and many other states we see legitimate citizens being denied their Constitutional right to vote mainly because they are registered Democrats.
Of course the Republican governors of those medieval States claim possible voter fraud as the reason to target so many voters who coincidentally just happen to be Democrats.
But the fact that the instance of that type of fraud has been negligible for decades, unless you count their actions does not seem to enter into any argument.
And finally we come to the center of the web of evil, DC.
The minority Republicans continue to filibuster anything that might help the middle class while allowing the wealthy to continue their exorbitant and obscene existence.
On any given day you can witness one or more Republican Senator or Congressman trot himself out to a microphone and bemoan how President Barack Hussein Obama is handing the country over to one or another group that is out to kill us all and eat our babies.
Of course one Senator at least had the decency to proclaim that he would not do the job for which his constituents elected him. In January 2009 and continually since then he promised to do only one thing for four years, work his enormous tail and set of jowls off to see to it that President Obama would not get a second term.
It did not matter to this hypocrite whether or not Mr. Obama could be the best President the country ever had, he just wanted him out!
And the height of hypocrisy is the current Republican candidate for President, or as the media must call him until the convention, the Presumptive Nominee.
Presumptive is a great word for Willard Mitt Romney since he presumes to know what’s good for America all the while doing the opposite.
Textiles, my old industry is now a
mainstay everywhere
but in America
Would it be good to send American jobs to China?
Would it be good to take away affordable healthcare for Americans?
Would it be good for America to turn what’s left of our middle class into poverty level unemployed welfare cases?
And then would it be good to take away what rights the former middle class citizens still have so that they cannot vote anymore?
Would it be good for America to have you and your friends continue sending your vast wealth offshore so that you pay next to nothing in taxes to the country you claim to love so much?
Would it be good for America to turn over the keys to the United States of America to corporations in exchange for even more personal wealth?
Well the answer to that last question is one of the driving forces behind Mitt’s desire to be America’s first king!
The microcosm of government that is Long Island can show us a great deal about how politics works or does not but you have to view the large stage, the show that is Congress and the people who control it to get a real feel for how broken our system is.
And when I say the people who control Congress I am of course NOT speaking about the actual Congressmen and women we elected but rather the billionaires and special interest lobbies behind the curtain.
The unelected overlords who don’t even bother to whisper their demands in the ears of our elected leaders anymore are in full control of the country.
And with every bill, every decree, every law that is passed by DC we see the inequity of their choices.
When farm subsidies are altered so that only the wealthiest of corporate farms can benefit or when food stamp programs are cut and the savings handed over to those wealthy concerns we see the ugly underbelly that is Washington politics.
Or when big oil dumps millions of life killing barrels of Black Death into the Gulf of Mexico and gets nary a slap on the hand we see the long arm of special interest and the lack of power the individual has in his own life or livelihood.
They say in order to defeat corruption you must start by shining a light on it! We’re gonna need a bigger light!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Workers' Follies (With apologies to Mr. Sondheim!)

(Sung to the tune from Sondheim's 'Follies' - 'It's like I'm Losing My Mind.')

The bills come in
The money goes out
Don’t seem to win
But never do shout
I vote my interests
But don’t ever move up
I don’t seem to move up

Week after week I fulfill the boss’ dreams
He makes his profits on the dot
But in the end no matter what I do it seems
He clears a lot
I still have squat

And bills come in
My money flows out
I need a win
Instead of a rout
If I could just get some help or a raise
Instead I get empty praise.

Sometimes I sit in my cubicle and pray
For a sweepstakes win or such
But then the boss with a smirk will come and say
You’re out of touch
You’re paid too much

So bills come in
I’ve got nothing left
It is no sin
To be so bereft
He says he needs me or is he just being kind
If I should die would he mind?

Day after day I forgo my lunchtime break
But it goes unknown
I sit and work for the company’s own sake
Answer the phone
My future’s blown

And more bills come
More money is lost
My outlook’s glum
My life is the cost
To all my suffering they turn away blind
If I should die would they mind?

The Earth does spin
And with every turn
More bills come in
My savings I burn
I try to pay all without falling behind
If I should die THEY would mind!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Our Economy: Recession Depression Repression Suppression What’s Your Impression?

In a nutshell our economy needs to have money flowing through it to survive.
Money is the economy’s life blood and without it it will suffocate and die.

There are many ways for money to hit the economy but basically our political parties have boiled it down to a choice of two ideologies. Money flows from the top or money is spent from below. 

While both appear to agree that jobs for Americans, in America are important the Republican Party feels that we must appease the so-called job creators to provide those. And therefore the business environment must be made safe and friendly for these providers to do so. They say that government must incentivize these philanthropic humans with tax breaks for new hires and tax abatements to produce more products for sale.
They seem to feel that just making a product that sells and produces profits for the corporation is no longer enough of an incentive for them to exist.

We must truly look no further than this to understand the inherent flaw in their reasoning, to wit no business is going to produce more products for sale no matter the tax abatement or incentive when there is no demand or customer for same.
So perhaps we should turn this ideology around, or on its head if you will and see if the opposite camp has a better idea.

The Democratic Party is of the belief that in order to increase demand for any product the consumer must have enough disposable income or certainly some cash with which to purchase it! This should elicit a response of, “Duh.” 

If the consumer has the wherewithal to buy then he or she will. And then the normal reaction takes place and no matter what field a company is in if they buy it business will produce it! If businesses see demand growing they will ramp up production and eventually find the need to hire more workers or be left behind.

Decades ago Chainsaw Al took over Sunbeam and made millions by cutting the work force in a Pre-Romney Romney way until, as he called it Sunbeam was lean and mean. But when business picked up Sunbeam was unable to ramp up production due to a lack of skilled, trained workers and they went under for good. Al however walked away with a huge golden parachute that sadly did not fail to open. But I digress.

There will naturally be a lag in the time frame between increased demand for a corporation’s product and the hiring of more people to produce it since the current business environment created by the economic disaster of the Bush era has made workers afraid of losing their jobs. This fear has created a workforce that is literally burning itself out with longer hours and eschewed vacations in order to please an ever increasingly greedy boss or board of directors.

However if demand returns from consumers with what business calls ‘open to buy’ money businesses will have to grudgingly hire more workers to fill orders. But rather than dig into their profits to pay the new hires they will most likely lower benefits for all to make room on the balance sheet.

So how do we get more money into the hands of the average American and thereby stimulate the economy? I know the word now has a stigma created by right wingers as being a liberal plot to give money to free-loaders at the expense of the poor put-upon wealthy people who are the only job creators of America but stimulus can come in many ways.

For one thing we can jump start the economy by priming the engine as it were. We do so by leveling the playing field just a bit. If we can understand that a society should look to the needs of the many and that those need should outweigh the needs of the few, or the one then we are at least headed in the right direction.

Taxes are a great way to level the field but they must be wielded properly and with intelligence. Lowering them on the lower classes while raising them on the higher wealthier people would actually be a great way to go!

If $1,000 in cash was to be given to a wealthy person, say a billionaire or even a mere millionaire what would be done with the money? The odds are it would be lost in the ocean of other large bills and not spent. It would certainly not trigger an impulse buy. I do not believe the recipient would run out to the mall or even ask his chauffeur or masseuse to do something special for him. In fact if $1,000 were to be taken away from these people I am not even sure they’d notice.

But if the windfall were to be given to an ordinary working class person who has been playing by the rules his entire life without much hope of getting out of the rut that was caused by circumstances beyond his control the odds are he will spend it! And even if he only spends it to pay down the debt he has accumulated due to the bailout of the banks or by his own careless behavior at least he will putting the money back in circulation and not in a mattress or worse, the Cayman Islands.

Now politicians, especially on one side of the proverbial aisle are dead set against merely handing money over to the public as a stimulus or otherwise. They have no problem taking credit for authorizing tax breaks for all and especially for the uber wealthy but that does more harm than good in the long run as the tax breaks are small for those low in the income scale and non-existent for the masses that are unemployed.

What the lower or no income set need is jobs. And government can and has in the past produced plenty of them. And many of them have proven important to the health and well-being of the country. In fact some of those jobs were vital to that health and well-being.

Just as a doctor attempts to keep a person’s arteries clear of any dangerous plaque so too does a construction team repair a city’s main arteries or infrastructure. And all across America our arteries are decaying at an alarming rate.

If both sides of our Congressional aisle were really honest about their desire to see this country get healthy again they wouldn’t play political chess with the lives and livelihood of the people who use those roads.

One might ask how we would pay for this massive yet massively needed fix and that word stimulus might rear its head again. Or worse, we might suggest taxing the wealthy and hear a chorus of “class warfare” from the conservative set. But in light of the fact that the wealthy are now taxed at the lowest rate since taxes began and that tremendously profitable corporations, who are not people no matter what anyone says, are paying even less taxes I believe we can tap some of that without doing much damage to either group. And once the funding is in place the country and the economy would really start moving.  And it stands to reason that when the economy is doing well everyone benefits!

By the way when it comes to taxes of any kind I believe Grover of   Sesame Street to be far smarter and better for America than   Grover of K Street

Many bills have been introduced in Congress seeking to get construction teams on the road to recovery and all of them have been filibustered out of existence.

Actions speak way louder than words, especially when those words are more rhetoric filled empty promises made by the same stuffed shirts who have been fooling the country for years.

People may be angry with one president or another but at least when they try to get things done and they are blocked by special interest groups (PAC) whose tentacles reach far into the once hallowed halls of Congress the blame must be placed on the proper shoulders. And many of those in Congress seem to listen to their favorite PAC while turning a deaf ear to their constituency or even what’s right! This not only stops progress but pushes us back for the sake of political theater.

The bottom line is simply that if we as a nation are to get back on our feet and reassume the slot as the best and most admired country in the world we must stop the stagnation in Congress.

We must make a concerted effort toward rebuilding our middle class. And when that middle class is the thriving healthy backbone of the country as it has been in the past our economy will once again be the envy of the world.