Tag Archives: politicians

The Road to Damascus [Washington DC to Deadwood, SD]

roadsigns

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I don’t see any way around it.  I’m going to have to waste a little of my life being Dictator In Charge of this Great Nation.  Begin by changing the Pledge of Allegiance to, “Whoopteedoo I’m an American.  I’ve got better things to do than spending my time making the US Government feel important.”

Move the seat of government to Deadwood, SD, and buy all the people making a living off it and connected to it, along with the news media FEMA travel trailers to head up there after changing all the road signs along the way.  Eventually they’ll end up dead in the water at Rabid City where they’ll be able to gaze contentedly at Mount Rushmore and go fishing daytimes.

Change the US Constitution so’s it’s concise enough so anyone can read it and have no doubt what it says and doesn’t say:

Mind your own affairs, tend your own business, and leave other people to tend theirs.  Step out of line or start arguing about it and the local vigilance committee or whatever they do there will take care of your ass.  Run you out of town, tar and feather you, march you naked around with a sign, ‘He beat his wife’, whatever.”

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Philosophy by Limerick – The Intestinal Parasite

Two political parties, or thrice,
Patricians are fatter than lice.
When bones are scraped narrow
They’ll suck out the marrow,
Turn knuckle-bones into dice.

Old Jules

Vice President Spiro T. Agnew – A Man Ahead of his Time

What can a person say about Spiro Agnew?  Most of you readers are too young to remember the most well-known, most popular Vice President in US history.  He served at a time when the US was torn apart by civil strife, an undeclared, unpopular foreign war, and a level of corruption in the Executive Branch few citizens allowed themselves to suspect.

Agnew.  Forced from office for accepting bribes before, “Everyone does it,” became a defense.

But, of course, that was long before Iran-Contra, Bush 1&2, Billary Clinton, Blackwater, and the current king.  Nowadays Spiro would seem clean, honest and soft-spoken.  A pristine choice for wannabe king for either of the parties:

In April 1973, when revelations about Watergate began to surface, Agnew was the choice of 35 percent of Republican voters to be the next Republican nominee for President, while then-California Governor Ronald Reagan was second on the Gallup Poll. [18]

Spiro Theodore Agnew (pronunciation: /ˈspɪr ˈæɡnj/; November 9, 1918 – September 17, 1996) was the 39th Vice President of the United States (1969–1973), serving under President Richard Nixon, and the 55th Governor of Maryland (1967–1969). He was the first Greek American to hold these offices.

During his fifth year as Vice President, in the late summer of 1973, Agnew was under investigation by the United States Attorney‘s office in Baltimore, Maryland, on charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery and conspiracy. In October, he was formally charged with having accepted bribes totaling more than $100,000 while holding office as Baltimore County Executive, Governor of Maryland, and Vice President of the United States. On October 10, 1973, Agnew was allowed to plead no contest to a single charge that he had failed to report $29,500 of income received in 1967, with the condition that he resign the office of Vice President. Nixon replaced him by appointing by then House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford to the office of Vice President.

Agnew is the only Vice President in United States history to resign because of criminal charges. Ten years after leaving office, in January 1983, Agnew paid the state of Maryland nearly $270,000 as a result of a civil suit that stemmed from the bribery allegations.

Agnew soon found his role as the voice of the so-called “silent majority“, and by late 1969 he was ranking high on national “Most Admired Men” polls. He also inspired a fashion craze when one entrepreneur introduced Spiro Agnew watches (a take off on the popular Mickey Mouse watch); conservatives wore them to show their support for Agnew, while many liberals wore them to signify their contempt.

Agnew was known for his scathing criticisms of political opponents, especially journalists and anti-war activists. He attacked his adversaries with relish, hurling unusual, often alliterative epithets—some of which were coined by White House speechwriters William Safire and Pat Buchanan—including “pusillanimous pussyfooters”, “nattering nabobs of negativism” (written by Safire), and “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history”.[15] He once described a group of opponents as “an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiro_Agnew

Boom-Towning the US – Economic One-Upsmanship by Texasizing

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

When the neighbor from up the hill described a business boom going on around Edinburg, Texas, [his previous home] the other evening it got me wondering why.  According to him, the entire Texas coastline is a beehive of manufacturing concerns, either operating, or under construction.  Even a Chinese owned gigantic steel plant.

After considering why this might be for a couple of days I concluded there’s a middling chance the Texas tax structure’s probably a major piece of it.  Texas doesn’t have a State Income Tax.  It relies almost entirely on sales taxes and property taxes for revenues.

That mightn’t sound too important at first notice.  But consider the implications more closely. 

  • First, workers employed in Texas can enjoy a higher take-home pay than those employed in states where income taxes are the revenue source.  This allows employers to pay the employees less than they’d have to do elsewhere.  Workers pay more when they spend their checks on consumer goods, but it doesn’t come out on profit and loss statements of the companies paying them.
  • Secondly,  CEOs, plant managers, high-ranking professionals living within the State, but who enjoy salaries high enough for investments of their incomes pay taxes only on their property holdings and consumer purchases.  Same as the legion of minimum-wage workers they employ.
  • Thirdly, all the nearby suppliers of raw materials, parts and labor for the industries enjoy the same tax-free status and are almost certainly able to offer their products and services more cheaply than they could do located in areas where State Income Tax exists.

For states with stagnant economies, especially those with coastal port facilities, but not limited to those, seems to me the answer might be to take a page from the Texas book.  The most immediate and obvious answer would be eliminating state income taxes and making it up in sales and property taxes.  But that would take a while.  Meanwhile, Texas booms and everyone else continues to lose jobs.

Naturally each situation would require site-specific solutions for immediate competition with Texas for new industries.  But several options come to mind:

  • Locate your port facilities here and we’ll do whatever’s needed to make absolutely certain your construction costs are lower than they’d be in Texas.  Whatever corners Texan regulators would allow you to cut in construction, environmental and safety standards, our regulators will allow more.
  • We’ll reduce our spending on our State vehicle fleets by putting a moratorium on buying any new vehicles for five years.  That money will be delivered in suitcases full of un-marked $100 bills to the people charged with the decision for your location.
  • We’ll make special interim provisions in our income-tax laws exempting dividends to stockholders, CEO and other high ranking professional employees from our State Income Tax.
  • We’ll lower our minimum wage to lower-level employees to the Texas minimum wage, minus the amount of the State Income Tax.  That will allow you to hire minimum wage-earning workers at the same rate it would cost you if you’d located in Texas.
  • We’ll overlook any hiring of illegal aliens you might do involving jobs good Americans don’t want.  Outdoors, heavy-lifting, that sort of thing.
  • We’ll provide lists of the names and families of all your high-ranking employees to all law enforcement agencies and prosecutors and provide a GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card for each family member.  If you, or family members are busted for illegal drug possession we’ll make certain the arresting officers are suspended or otherwise punished.  Your executive employees will enjoy the same privileges in that regard as any State, local, or Federal politician.
  • If your executives are non-white, non-Anglo, non-protestant they’ll never overhear themselves referred to at the country club as Chinks, slopeheads, zipperheads, Mescins, mackeral-snappers, ragheads, camel jockeys, or sand niggers, as they certainly would in Texas.

Naturally they’d have to develop other business-friendly encouragements over time, but those would, at least open the door for a beginning.

Old Jules

 

The Poor and Under-educated

Previously posted June 9, 2005

There’s been a lot of discussion on various threads about the statements people who think they know, (politicians, academians, religious zealots, know-it-alls, do-gooders and others with the wisdom to know what’s best for people who aren’t fortunate enough to be them) that most of the people who play the lotteries are poor and under educated.

The Poor:
I’d be the first to agree that people who are one or another level of ‘poor’ play the lotteries.  Most of us are poorer than we’d like to be…. that’s why folks such as Hollywood Henderson and Jack Whittaker bought tickets.

But how poor can a person be and still buy lottery tickets?

The poorest people I know are living on the streets panhandling.  They have their values straight, as a rule.  Priority one, when some money falls into their lives:  A bottle of something, a fix of something.

Priority number sixteen, or thereabouts:  Something to eat.

Priority number twenty-seven:  A lottery ticket.

Those folks aren’t buying a lot of tickets.

The somewhat higher level of poor people do buy some tickets, I’ve observed standing in line behind them at the convenience store.  They drive up in automobiles, buy a case of beer for the evening, some chips, and probably go home to watch the results on television.  They mightn’t have a nice home…. maybe a trashed out mobile home in some park full of human lessons to be learned, anger and loud music, but they aren’t actually poor.

In fact, by any standard besides the one we judge such things by today for social reasons, these ‘poor’ people are generally enjoying a level of wealth seldom experienced in human history.  There’s food available to them through food banks all over this nation to keep them from starving.  They have shelter from the weather and warmth in the winter.  They can purchase clothing at any garage sale for a quarter.  They drive automobiles or use public transportation unless they choose to walk.

In a world where the history of human living conditions have predominantly involved worrying about where the next meal is (or isn’t) coming from, where death by exposure to the elements has almost always been a reality, the US doesn’t have more than a smattering of poor people by standard that existed a century ago. 

Those poor people referred to by the politicians and statisticians are adults, making choices about what risks they wish to indulge with the money they have in hopes of improving their lot.  They’re submerged in wealth.  If you don’t believe it, imagine those pictures you probably see on television of villages somewhere with kids lying around with pot-bellies, flies walking all over their faces, them without the energy to lift a hand to brush them off, one step away from exiting the vehicle because there’s nothing to eat and there’s not going to be.  That’s poor.

The Under-Educated:

I happen to have a pretty fair formal education, though I’m ‘under-educated’, as is everyone I’ve ever met.  Which boils down to all lottery players being under-educated, and that being a shared trait with all those who don’t play.  Until someone invents an educational level that includes being ‘over-educated’, and ‘just-the-right-educated’, none of the above tells us much about who plays the lottery.

But it does tell us a lot about manipulative rhetoric, politics by guilt, religious posturing, hypocracy, and a willingness (or unwillingness) to allow adults who might be just as smart and savvy as we are to make their own choices about how they want to spend their money.  About what risks they’re willing to take in life.  That comes under the heading of something called, “freedom”.  Not a lot of it floating around these days.

Old Jules

Hindsight, Liars, Dupes, Denouements and the Unspeakable

Even the dispicable can’t always dodge the steamroller. Kaufman was rewarded, Greenglass spent a few years in prison, punctuated by testimonies before Congressional Committees to help forge a US package of ideas about a war on International Communism. Appropriate enough, liar lying to other liars to create a consistent set of lies. Not to suggest C0mmunists weren’t also lying. They mostly just weren’t elected and appointed officials sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Federal Judge Irving Kaufman, who subverted the legal processes in his own courtroom to predjudice the jury in favor of conviction of both Rosenbergs, then sentence them to death in the electric chair:

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Kaufman graduated from Fordham Law School at the age of 21 and worked for two decades as a lawyer in New York City, mostly in private practice but also as an Assistant United States Attorney. From 1949 to 1961, Kaufman served as a judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, to which he was appointed by President Harry S Truman. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy promoted Kaufman to an appellate position on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He served as an active Second Circuit judge from 1961 to 1987, including a term as Chief Judge from 1973 to 1980. Kaufman assumed senior status in 1987 but continued to hear some cases until his death four years later. On October 7, 1987, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan.[1] He died on February 1, 1992 at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan of pancreatic cancer. He was 81 years old.[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irving_Kaufman

———-

David Greenglass testifying before a Congressional Committee in 1956.

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-3475_162-563126.html

In 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were sent to the electric chair for stealing the secret of the atom bomb for the Soviet Union.

They were called the “Atom Spies,” and 50 years ago this summer, they were executed for giving the secret of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. They are the only Americans ever executed for espionage in peacetime.
Greenglass was the star witness for the prosecution against the Rosenbergs – and he also happened to be Ethel Rosenberg’s brother. He served 10 years in prison for his actions as a traitor, and then changed his name and dropped out of sight. As he neared 80, Greenglass decided to break his silence. He talked only after 60 Minutes II agreed to disguise his face and voice.

His story begins in the summer of 1950 when the FBI took Greenglass in for questioning. He confessed almost immediately for spying, and quickly implicated Julius, Ethel and his own wife, Ruth. David and the Rosenbergs were arrested. Ruth Greenglass never was charged.

“That’s what I told the FBI,” says Greenglass. “I said, ‘If you indict my wife, you can forget it. I’ll never say a word about anybody.'”

It was quite simply his choice, he says today. So Greenglass says he turned on his sister to save his wife. “I would not sacrifice my wife and my children for my sister. How do you like that?”

Greenglass made his choice when America was at war with communists in Korea, and in fear of the Soviet Union, which had recently tested its own atomic bomb.

The four spies were unlikely actors in a Cold War drama: Julius was an unsuccessful engineer; Ethel spent most of her time raising their two young sons; Greenglass was a draftsman and a tinkerer; and his wife Ruth was a wife and mother. All had been ardent communists.

During World War II, Greenglass, then a sergeant, was posted to Los Alamos, the secret army base in New Mexico, where thousands of scientists and soldiers were building the atom bomb. Although he had a low-level job, Greenglass says he knew what was going on.

He says Julius Rosenberg recruited him to spy with a simple sales pitch: “He said, ‘We have to help our ally.'” By ally, he meant Russia. “Russia was an ally at the time, and that we have to help them with all the information we get.”

Greenglass told the FBI that he gave the Russians sketches and details on the device used to trigger a nuclear blast. But he says he didn’t enjoy being a spy.

“I was continually conscious of what’s behind me. I didn’t enjoy it. I just did it because I said I would,” says Greenglass.

Did he realize how dangerous it was? “I didn’t really think it was, because I didn’t think the Russians were an enemy,” he says.

His career in espionage came to an end soon after the war ended. Back in civilian life, Greenglass and Julius opened a machine shop together. They argued over the business, and over Greenglass’ growing disenchantment with Communism.

Four years later, Julius warned Greenglass that the FBI was on to them, and urged him to flee the country. Greenglass had a family passport picture taken, but he had no intention of using it.

“I didn’t want to leave the United States to go to some hellhole like Russia or China, or wherever the hell he wanted to send me,” says Greenglass. Instead, he took a bus to the Catskill Mountains. “I figured I’d find an obscure place. And I see that the FBI is following me. And they lose me.”

But he never made it to the Catskills. He went into custody instead. And within hours, he began cooperating with the FBI, sealing the Rosenberg’s fate.

He was the star witness for the prosecution at their trial, and he told the jury about his espionage, and described the activities of Julius, Ethel and his wife, Ruth.

He testified that one evening, he and Ruth brought sketches and handwritten notes about the atom bomb to the Rosenberg’s New York apartment. After dinner, Greenglass said they set up a typewriter on a folding bridge table in the living room, and turned his hand-written notes into a neatly-typed document for the Soviets.

Prosecutors asked Greenglass who did the typing. He said under oath that Ethel did the typing. His wife, who also took the stand, told virtually the same story.

That story was virtually the only evidence the government had against Ethel Rosenberg. But prosecutors argued that Ethel’s typing proved she was an active participant in the spy ring. After the trial, they admitted that without the typing testimony, they could never have convinced the jury that Ethel was anything more than the wife of a spy – and that’s not a crime.

Why did Greenglass lie on the stand? He now says Roy Cohn, an assistant prosecutor in the Rosenberg case, made him do it. Cohn went on to become Joseph McCarthy’s right-hand man.

Greenglass says that Cohn encouraged him to testify that he saw Ethel type up the notes. And he says he didn’t realize at the time the importance of that testimony.

But the jury knew how important it was, and found both Julius and Ethel Rosenberg guilty of conspiring to commit espionage. Judge Irving Kaufman imposed the death penalty.

Fifty years later, we know a lot more than anyone could have known in 1951. For example, we know that much of what David Greenglass said about Julius Rosenberg is true. It has been verified by other, independent, sources, all of which confirm that Julius Rosenberg was a Soviet spy. We also know that there is very little, if any, evidence that implicates his wife, Ethel, in any illegal activity.

But in the days before the execution, there were protests and vigils in New York, Washington and Europe. The Rosenbergs both claimed they were innocent, and many believed in them. There were a flurry of last-minute attempts to get a stay of execution. And there was no shortage of Americans who felt that justice was being done.

Up until the last minute, the authorities were willing to commute the death sentences if the Rosenbergs cooperated and named names. But they refused and were executed on June 19, 1953 – without ever breaking their silence.

Why did Greenglass think Julius and Ethel maintained their silence to the end? “One word: stupidity,” says Greenglass, who holds his own sister responsible for her own death.

—————————————-

But I promised a Denouement:

Of course, it makes no difference now. Any more than it matters who killed JFK, Robert Kennedy, MLK, and President Diem of Vietnam.

Doesn’t matter, really, any more than it matters that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, the incident used to justify the US involvement Vietnam War, was a manufactured incident.  A cynical lie to dupe the US public and arouse patriotic fervor.  Same as the Rosenberg trial.

A pyramid of lies, once the foundation’s in place, builds on itself. Only the names of the liars and the names of the victims change. It’s only incidental that sometimes the victims are also liars.

If any lessons can be learned from it all it’s probably only that the romantic patriots can always be trusted. Trusted to believe the lies. The liars can’t trust one another, but they know they can always trust the romantic patriots. 

The liars couldn’t succeed without them.

Old Jules

Today on Ask Old Jules on Facebook:

Old Jules, what’s your definition of an idealist?

An idealist is a person who locks his teeth into the ankle of an abstraction and doesn’t let go, doesn’t look for another ankle, doesn’t look closely at whatever’s above and below the ankle.

Today on the Ask Old Jules Blog:  Ever Met an Alien?

Old Jules, have you ever met anyone that you suspected might be an alien from another planet or a different dimension?

 

Occupy Utopia

Chaos just isn't all that rare

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs about the ‘Occupy [fill in blank] phenomenon.  The hints of panic from the powerful, the ambiguous hopes of the demonstrators, the near-certainty what’s happening is both the beginnings of a time of public expression about dissatisfaction, and a manifestion of unsatisfied expectations.

Seeing all that brings insistently to mind how intrusive the illusions of a utopian ideal penetrate and embed themselves in the tiny fragment of humanity where chaos took a break long enough for non-chaos to become the expectation.  Mainly in Europe, Japan, the US, Australia and Canada post-WWII.

For the remainder of the world chaos never went to sleep and never expected it to slumber.  Africa, the Middle East, much of South America, Cambodia, Vietnam, the former USSR and other Eastern Block countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan have all experienced so much chaos within living memory there’s probably no danger of them occupying Wall Street.

It might be worth noting it’s an illusion being protested.  Copshops and politicians have never ceased being corrupt in the US, Europe, Japan, anywhere.  The super-wealthy were never not-greedy, never unwilling to sell their countries and their souls to become wealthier.  Religious zealots have never ceased being willing to slaughter disbelievers, rob them, enslave them, though they’ve briefly been restrained somewhat inside defined boundaries since WWII. 

The protests are against the entire history of human behavior.

It might also be worth shaking the head in horror and awe that this comes as a surprise to anyone.  Where have these people been for the past half-century while populations were slaughtering themselves and one another all over the planet except where  they lived?  How could they have come to live inside some bubble of belief that the venal aren’t venal, the greedy aren’t greedy and the corrupt aren’t corrupt?

The bubble is probably an artifact of improved communications, television, public education turning a blind eye to anything outside the sphere being brainwashed into the malleable brain tissue of those vulnerable to it.

Suddenly the bubble bursts.  Chaos yawns, stretches and begins to reawaken.

Old Jules