Monthly Archives: May 2009

Self-Defense v Retribution

There appears to be a reactionary letter writing campaign (or is it a propaganda campaign) asking “What is wrong with waterboarding?” It’s this: Waterboarding is torture. Torture is illegal. If you want to get philosophical, the responsibility to kill in self defense is not a right to rape in retribution. The former is the right of free citizens, the latter a prerogative of dictators, fascists, Stalinsts – of Hitler Youth, not Boy Scouts of America.

I wrote this, published in the Asbury Park Press, May 14, 2009:

Torture won’t make us safer

What’s wrong with Waterboarding? In a word, it’s torture. It’s illegal. It’s immoral and it doesn’t work. It won’t keep us safe. In fact, it makes us less safe.

Torture is illegal. It violates the U.S. Constitution and precedents set by George Washington. During the American Revolution, while the British were torturing American soldiers, Washington refused to torture British soldiers our army captured. This gained us political allies in England even as we were fighting for our independence.

Torture is immoral. Torture is what the Nazis did in World War II. And the KGB and the communist Chinese.

Torture doesn’t work. The victim will tell the torturer anything to get the pain to stop. Torture doesn’t make us safer. The victims will hate us for the rest of their lives and want to exact revenge.

The way to stop terror is with good old-fashioned police work, just as the way to end war is with diplomacy.

The responsibility to kill in self defense is not a right to rape in retribution. Torture is illegal. Waterboarding is torture. Period.

My risking my life to protect my family is different than the President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense and Attorney General and defining a policy in which they would violate the Constitution. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzales, etc ignored the 8/6/1 memo “Bin Laden preparing to Strike In US.” After 9/11/1 they let bin Laden go in Tora Bora to target Saddam and Iraq’s oil. They dropped the ball, left the US weak, and helped Achmadinejad – got rid of his enemy. Torture is punishment, not information gathering. Rather than justify torture as “it stopped beheadings” why not just kill the bastards? A bullet in the head is more effective than waterboarding. And why let bin Laden go? A bullet in his head would have been more effective than knocking off a two-bit dictator 1500 miles away.

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Filed under Torture

Native American Indians and Native Born Americans Whos Parents are From India

But here’s an important question. Do native born and naturalized US citizens who’s parents are from India, Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Sri Lanka, etc. consider themselves American Indians? My parents – and my wife – were not born here. Yet, I’m an American. My kids are American. If my parents were Indian, Bengali, Pakistani, or from some other part of the sub-continent, I’d be an American Indian. As it is I’m a native American.

Even tho President Obama is an African American, prejudice and race remain problems. Colin Powell rose thru the ranks to very high positions. Condi Rice and Clarence Thomas prove that even incompetence is color blind (as long as it’s politically expedient). America is changing. Mixed race couples don’t raise an eyebrow. Same gender couples don’t raise an eyebrow here, while in Baghdad and Gaza fathers are expected to kill their homosexual children, to preserve honor.

We’re all the same under the skin. Compatible blood types, identical neurotransmitters, complimentary DNA. Every human from every culture recognizes smiles, joy, and tears. Those who don’t hug, deep down, wish they could.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Race

Montana: Big Sky, No Heart

Montana: “Big Sky Country.” However, considering Senator Max Bacus behavior last week, it could also be considered “No Heart Country.” Bacus’ conduct shows a contempt that Marie Antoinette and Dick Cheney would be proud of. The Senator from Montana makes me proud to be a citizen of New Jersey.

On Nov. 5, 2006 I saw Bill Clinton with Senator Robert Menendez in Newark. On Nov. 2, 2006, I saw Senator Menendez and Barack Obama speak at campaign rally in Hoboken. After hearing then-Senator Obama I called my father and said “I think I just saw the next President of the United States.” I heard Senator Menendez say “As a Representative in Congress I can’t vote to support a war unless the war is in our national interest and unless I would send my own children to fight.” This also makes me proud to reside in New Jersey. I am proud also that On Election night, 2008, I had the good luck to personally meet and congratulate Senator Lautenberg on his re-election, on the steps of the Helfrich in New Brunswick. A few minutes later, I watched President Obama’s victory address, and felt pride in my country, and pride in the small things I did to help President Obama’s campaign.

Barack Obama was not always my candidate of choice. Because of his position on medical care, I supported John Edwards. Medicare works well for my father. The equivalent works well, I understand, for every member of the House and Senate. And by the way, MY tax dollars pay for THEIR health care. As far as me, my health insurance costs almost as much as my mortgage. And just as my house is worth less than it used to be, my medical insurance covers less and less yet costs more and more.

Very few people seriously believe in “socialism” as opposed to free enterprise. The facts that before their system collapsed the Soviets copied American computer designs prove the value of the market. However, most people do understand that there are some facets of the economy that should be managed publicly. Law enforcement, for example. Private police forces and private armies are hallmarks of drug cartels and dictatorships. And medical care. The fact that 45 million Americans – which is almost one out of six – can’t get access to health care is a terrible indictment of our system.

While campaigning for President, John McCain echoed George W. Bush and said “Anyone has access to health care – people can just go to the emergency room.” While this is true, when people without health insurance go to the emergency room, the costs of their treatment are pushed onto the citizens. This implies a national health care policy. However, it’s one that is poorly thought out, inefficient, and badly financed. And emergency rooms are not equipped to manage things like high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. They can’t help you if you have diabetes – unless you’re in a coma. If you have high blood pressure you’re out of luck, until you have a heart attack or a stroke. And cancer – forget about it. And one other thing: John McCain is not the President. McCain lost the election! Americans voted for Barack Obama – his values and his policies!

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Filed under Health Care

Principles of Leadership

  1. Focus, Hard Work, and Discipline win games, marathons, and wars. If it needs to be done, do it urgently, and do it well. If it doesn’t need to be done, don’t do it at all. If it needs to be done, and you can’t do it; find someone who can.
  2. Keep Things Simple. Rube Goldberg’s designs could work – but were not meant to be implemented. Write clearly.Write clearly, with brevity and precision. Dickens was paid by the word. If you’re not, then be brief.
  3. The Journey Is An Adventure. However, it is not the only adventure. Beach Time Is Important.
  4. Smile When You’re Talking, Think Before You Speak, and Listen.
  5. A good hand in a storm is irreplaceable, even when the sun is shining. Credentials show education. Experience shows knowledge, judgment, and the ability to work.
  6. Challenge Talent, Reward Performance, Stimulate Creativity, and Accept Mistakes. Learn from mistakes, and move on. Punishing mistakes stifles performance and pushes talented creative performers out the door.
  7. Negotiate in good faith. Or don’t negotiate at all. Poker is winner-take-all. Business is better played win-win.
  8. The Ends don’t justify the means. And the means don’t justify the ends. The President of the United States must obey the law.
  9. Loyalty is a two-way street. Respect must be earned. People who kiss up and piss down are worthy of neither.
  10. Assholes are full of shit. Shit flows downhill. If you work for an asshole . . .

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Filed under Leadership

Socialized Medicine Beats Anti-Social Medicine

Medical Insurance can cost $12,000 per year for a family if everyone’s healthy. That’s a new car every two or three years. Or every year. That’s a down payment on a house. That’s a mortgage. And that’s ridiculous.

It’s why Honda and Toyota are in better shape than GM, Ford, and Chrysler. The government takes care of the health care needs of Japanese auto workers – and everyone else.

We need a single payer system, or Medicare for all Americans.

People say this is “socialized” medicine. But the alternative – “anti-social” medicine – is terrible. Medicare works very well for everyone I know over 80. Insurance works poorly at best, whether you’re employed, self-employed, or unemployed. I have friends who are out of work and who have no access to medical care, was there myself. When I was out of work I couldn’t afford health insurance. (My kids were covered, thanks to Bill Clinton and SCHIP.)

There are some things that the government must do. Nobody believes that police and fire-fighters should be private for-profit companies. Private armies and private police forces are what you see in places like Iraq and Columbia.

Think of the national security implications. If I am near someone who is sick, and who can’t go to the doctor – I’m exposed. I’m in danger. So’s my wife, so’re my kids. I have a family. As a father I don’t want my kids exposed because some poor guy lost his job.

Bush and McCain actually said “We have a national health care policy – it’s “Go to the Emergency Room.”

This is great when you break your arm or get hurt. But it costs you and me more for some un-insured guy to go to the emergency room for a check-up then to go to see a physician in an office. And Emergency Rooms are not clinics. They can’t do anything if you have high blood pressure or diabetes, unless you had a stroke or a heart attack or you’re in a coma. And then it’s too little to late.

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Filed under Medicare, Single Payer