Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Public Service Announcement (With Guitars)

The Clash/1982
from the album, Combat Rock

Night Of The Living Lieberman #2

Ted Cruz offered his advice to Obama regarding his appointee for Secretary of Defense after Hagel resigned.

'Cause They're Cuzzins!

They Laugh Alike
They Walk Alike
At Times They Even Talk Alike
You Could Lose Your Mind!
Here's the draft of a letter, now in the Truman Library, that Harry S. Truman actually sent to Senator Joseph McCarthy.
If only President Obama would just copy and resend it to Ted Cruz. As relevant today as it was back in the days when Truman rocked!

C'mon, you have to admit, the physical resemblance is a little more than just kinda freeky,
but the ugly isn't only skin deep!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Needless To Say, The Party Broke Up.....

Was (not Was)
The Party Broke Up / 1983 
Featuring Wayne Kramer on Guitar

A Bitter Harvest of Strange Fruit

The world noticed the history of the events in Ferguson. Even Palestinians, accustomed to surviving under military occupation, tweeted advice to Ferguson protesters about how to deal with tear gas, even as Israeli air strikes were demolishing Gaza and killing thousands of Palestinian civilians. Hong Kong protesters, who began their pro-democracy demonstrations more than a month after Brown's killing, adopted the " hands up, don't shoot" as a tactic in homage to the Ferguson protesters.
Countries that the US has often accused of human rights abuses seized on what seemed to be a moment of glaring hypocrisy. North Korea called the US “a graveyard of human rights” where “people are subject to discrimination and humiliation due to their race, and are in constant fear that they may get shot at any moment."
China’s state news agency Xinhua published an editorial saying the US had “much room for improvement at home” and that it should “concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others.” And Egypt, sounding more like the United Nations than like a country that routinely kills protesters, called on the US to respect demonstrators' rights of assembly.
As the world reacted to the grand jury announcement not to indict Darren Wilson, people all over the planet reacted and tried to express why it matters to them. I admit, I am one of the cynics who never expected anything other than this verdict from the grand jury. The process was rigged from the start.
The trouble is that the United States, for far longer than it has been a “nation of laws”, has been a nation of injustice. And in the absence of basic justice such laws can amount to little more than codified tyranny. When a white cop, Darren Wilson, shoots an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, dead and then is not indicted, the contradiction is glaring. For a world where it is not only legal for people to shoot you dead while you walk down the street, but where they can do so in the name of the law, is one in which some feel they have nothing to lose. And, in the words of James Baldwin: “There is nothing so dangerous as a man who has nothing to lose. You do not need 10 men. Only one will do.”From Israel, Elizabeth Tsurkov sees parallels in law enforcement tactics and the treatment of Palestinians and African Americans:
So about Ferguson, in Israel we're going through something very similar. People focus on the occupation when they think of Israel, but we have other problems too. Israeli police has been caught on tape assaulting unarmed civilians who had angered them. A lot of that violence and even torture in detention is directed toward Palestinian citizens of Israel. Recently, a video surfaced of police shooting a Palestinian-Israeli man who attempted to assault their vehicle with a knife, but he was shot when he was walking away from the car and posed no danger. This caused a huge uproar among Palestinians in Israel and Israel witnessed riots and protests just like after Ferguson. Just like in the U.S., police brutality and racism intertwine and in both countries, cops get away with violence against minorities. I think that unless racism is addressed in the general society, nothing will change.

From Greece, Asteris Masouras recalls crackdowns on Greek protesters:
Police killings of unarmed youths everywhere reverberate with Greek audiences, because of the killing of Alexandros Grigoropoulos in December 2008, which sparked month-long protests and riots, and resulted in the life imprisonment in the officer who fired the lethal shot. Militarized policing and police brutality, especially, as well as the "limited" curtailment of constitutional rights over protests, as seen in Ferguson in the past few months are also familiar, recalling scenes from Keratea, Skouries, and most recently Athens' Exarchia district. Greek youths see the same tactics deployed by "their" state against them propagated around the world, and no prospect of justice without protest, no prospect of peace without justice. 

Yiannis Baboulias, also from Greece, now living in London, sees Ferguson as part of a larger global story of state repression:
What really shocked me and many others abroad were the images of the police, when they decided to show up in military gear and point sniper rifles and automatic weapons at people simply protesting. It points to a great lesson about inequality and poverty: that not only it is the main drive of how policing impacts on the everyday life of poor people (in this case, murder), but also the lengths to which they will now go to make sure dissent out in the streets is not tolerated. Militarisation of the police to such an extent, would not be tolerated in a society in which an underclass hasn't been accepted as a permanent feature, which is unfortunately the case with the US and other Western democracies.

Shireen Ahmed, from Canada, forcefully argues that that Ferguson pulls back a veil of hypocrisy in the United States when it comes to human rights, law, and equality.
Beginning with the senseless death of Mike Brown, it has been angering to watch the events unfold in Ferguson. Protestors are villified; groups in solidarity are being accused of co-opting the calls for truth and justice, and gun sales in the region have risen dramatically ahead of Grand Jury decision warning of imminent violence. America claims to hold "freedom" in the highest regard. Yet, it stomps through much of the world, under the guise of protecting said freedoms, while exploiting resources and turning a blind eye to humanity that doesn't profit. Meanwhile, at home it allows the killings of innocent black men and continuing systems of institutionalized racism through police brutality is almost laughable. American "freedom" is laughable.

And Ana Zárraga from Venezuela:
"I have been following Ferguson since protests erupted in August. Couldn't believe that the country that wants to champion freedom of speech abroad, has allowed the excessive use of force by police against protesters.
People have the right to grieve and demand justice in a system that they perceive as unfair. They have the right to spark a long-overdue debate on race, policing and justice in America".

San Francisco-based Canadian Sana Saeed thinks Ferguson is a watershed moment when it comes to this race, policing, and justice:
Ferguson is a watershed moment; it's not just about the murder of Mike Brown but about a culture and system of brutality and violence towards people of color — especially Blacks, for whom the modern Us prison and police system was meant to enslave. Ferguson is about rising up against that and pushing towards real justice, real reconciliation and ending the silence on this violent pandemic.I'm following it because that very same system of enslavement and oppression of Black Americans is what also continues to churn the culture and system of Islamophobia in the United States.

There you have it. Many voices from many places with one message: Ferguson is about global justice, not just justice in the United States. The erosion of America's moral position to influence what goes on in other countries damages the rights of the rest of the world. We are not qualified to call ourselves a leader. Again, it emphasizes the corruption and the hacking of the Concept of a Democratic Republic. 200 years ago, America was a noble experiment. The Republic was a revolutionary idea founded on noble principles. It has survived many attacks from with out and within. The adage, "What ever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" seemed to be our motto...only, today, the attacks from with in, the multiple viruses of greed,  the exploitation of self righteous hate and our own inability to deal with our own tragic history seem to have combined to deliver a fatal blow. An endemic systemic disease from which we may never recover. 
Last Night In Ferguson. America, You Broke It, Now You Gonna Have To Buy It!
No Justice, No Peace!

People Like Us

I forgot how much I liked this. The Talking Heads with John Goodman
from  the 1986 movie, True Stories
written and directed by David Byrne

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mon Oncle / Jacques Tati

The American Health Don't Really Care System

I haven't been able to post or write as much as I'd like to lately. Sometimes, reality has a way of rudely interrupting. Since the middle of October, I have been dealing with the ongoing crisis of my wife's eye problems. I have been the caterer, cleaning staff, personal shopper, chauffeur and entertainment director as well as my regular menial labor schedule. She had been sort of ignoring that her vision had been deteriorating for a while and the real hint I had that there was a problem was when she tried to drive at night. For me, it was sheer terror and I started demanding to let me drive. I really knew there was a problem when she agreed and let me. She recently changed eye doctors and her new doctor is a real artist! On the first appointment, he informed her that she had rapidly advancing cataracts in both eyes and had to have corrective surgery. He then said, that this was actually good news, because it was relatively simple and he specialized in the procedure. He also told her that the cataract surgery would go very far in relieving the ongoing mild glaucoma she had been being treated for. He also informed her that he would be able to implant new lenses in her eyes and she would never need glasses again. My extremely beautiful and neurotic wife has had a life long phobia about eyes, so she kind of freaked, to say the least.
But after the initial shock, she stoically prepared for the procedure.  We thought a lot about how this would have impacted us if we still living in America. Both of us could only have the luxury of Health Insurance in the USA while we were working. When I was young, my family was literally destroyed by the American Health System. I was hounded by phony debt collectors until I was in my late 20's trying to get me to pay bills for my mothers hospitalization and treatments for MS. She died when I was 12. My father died in debt a few years later. We were guilty of being Middle Class Americans. I was lucky enough to have a friend who knew a lawyer who crusaded for victims of the American Health Care system. He wrote a few letters, performed some kind of legal juju and I never heard from the debt collection agency again. How those scam artists found me in New York City years later, I never knew. We had insurance. My father worked for Chrysler, but the insurance obviously wasn't enough.
I know people in the USA who use prescription drugs to treat conditions like asthma. Even with good insurance, for many people there is a cut off for the amount their insurance will cover. A yearly drug allowance. Then, you are on your own. One friend schedules a vacation to come here to France. Luckily he has friends in Paris and down here to stay with.  He has discovered that the cost of buying the drugs he must buy to maintain his health is only a third of the cost of the same drugs in the USA. So he figured that a cheap round trip to France would save him a few thousand dollars a year in prescription asthma drug costs above what his insurance will pay out. We introduced him to a French doctor who gave him the prescription for the medications he must take. He pays full price for the drugs and doctor as he is not in the French Health Care System, but, he still saves a few thousand dollars a year even after the price of a round trip flight to Paris from New York. In fact, the price Americans pay for the same drugs, made by the same company sold in Europe is roughly 8x!

I have been a life long chronic asthma victim, but my condition is no where as serious as my friend's is. I have to take medication as well. It was never properly diagnosed in America, but I did have a prescription for medication. I take medication now for the condition and I figured that if I lived in the USA, I would be paying almost $2,000 a year or more. Here? As a French resident and enrolled in the Health Care System, my cost comes to around 70 Euros a year, much of which is reimbursed into my bank account. A regular doctors visit costs me 2 Euros. I do pay for a supplementary insurance, Mutual de Perigord of less than 20 Euros a month. This upgrades the quality of any hospitalization I might ever need ( I am guaranteed a private room with a TV, magazines and phone among other things), most of my prescriptions and covers much of the cost of glasses and my dentist as well.
A few years ago, when I began to discover the world of blogging on the internet, I contributed to a blog that seemed to have a very eclectic readership. French, American, Australian and Eastern European! Dome of the Americans were extremely conservative. When we ever discussed health care, they became enraged. A lot of nastiness directed at me as an opportunist who left America only because I could "suckle from the teat of Socialism". That was a direct quote from a crazy lady in Kansas who bragged that she was privileged to live in the Good Ol' USA and pay 700 dollars a month for rip off health insurance. I could never figure out why Americans felt that this was an indicator of their Freedoms. I feel the decent Health Care is every one's right and that is what insures a higher level of Freedom. Freedom from being made indentured servants to an out of control greed driven system that preys on your very life. What was all that shit from Sarah Fucking Palin and her Death Panels about again? Tell me how that applies to my buddy who came to visit from Chicago and ended up being checked into the Hospital in Perigueux on the verge of a heart attack with no money and no insurance? He was in the hospital for a week and got the very best care and no one asked him for a centime in spite of the fact that he told them he was a poor American artist with no health insurance. He walked out of the hospital with a very affordable bill and only the promise to pay them back as he could.
Or, in contrast, the bizarre but all too real story just last week ,of the Canadian couple who decided to take a vacation in Hawaii. At the time, the wife was 6 months pregnant and they purchased Blue Cross Insurance in case there were any problems. The problem? There was a problem and the wife gave birth to a baby 3 months prematurely in a Honolulu Hospital. The baby was healthy but they were presented with a bill for almost 1 Million Dollars! Blue Cross refused to pay it claiming the pregnancy, which they had purchased the insurance specifically for, was "pre existing condition". This is a Health Care System?
The thread of this particular rant began with my wife's cataract/lens implantation surgery and wondering how much money it would cost us. The reality, I spent more on vet bills this year. The specialist eye surgeon and the office consultations were the most expensive outlay and we are being almost totally reimbursed. The trips to the Eye Clinic, for 3 surgical procedures were provided by a medical taxi service which was free. The surgeries were totally covered under the Medical System. The medications my wife is taking in her recovery are almost totally reimbursed. If we needed a nurse to come to our home from the local medical center in Hautefort, it would be free. The doctor in Perigueux is a true artist. His clinic is state of the art. My dentist has a facility that is beyond anything I ever saw in the States. The level of care and kindness we get from the medical staff is personal.
I know that there is great health care in the USA, but you get what you can afford. Good health care is considered a privilege. Excellent health care is based on what you can afford. Insurance guarantees very little. You get what your provider is willing to pay for.
This is the lack of empathy that flavors so much of the American character. When you don't have anything, it's easy to find someone lower than yourself contemptible and self serving to make yourself feel better by denying them access to what little you have. This degrades the quality of life for the entire society. Improving the quality of life for those who have less than you is the way to enrich and make an entire society more humane and healthy. I know I am only saying what you have read before, but by discussing it and acting positively, instead of passively scrambling for the paltry sheckels that are thrown to you from the limos of the gods and demanding quality, the affordable Health care that is your right, not a privilege will be yours. America is the only Western democracy that doesn't provide it for their citizens. The ACA is a beginning, but fighting the lobbies of the drug companies and health care providers and the billions of dollars in lobby graft slipped into the pockets of their puppets, is out and out war. The Republicans have no alternative plan and they seem to think that they can use this as a divisive issue and destroy it piece by piece. Decent affordable, quality health care is your right, but you are going to have to positively fight for it!
By the way, the stitches come out on Thursday...being my very unusual beautiful wife, she had a very complicated problem that required a third operation. We know that it will be totally successful...the right eye is perfect! What really worries me is that she is going to be able to see too well! Already, she noticed the color she chose when we repainted the first floor of the house last summer is not at all what she thought it was. Damn if I'm going to repaint it again!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

'Skuze me, but I think I just had an "experience" all over the shag carpeting....

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?

Jimmy Ruffin...the little brother of David Ruffin of the Temptations recorded this song that was rejected by The Spinners and in the process gave MoTown one of it's most grand and eloquent moments. A piece of music that by any commercial gauge of what popular music was, would have been ignored and labeled as depressing. But instead, it became a classic that had a 10 year reign on the charts. The soundtrack of the tortured era it was born in. A song that seems as if it was written by Smokey Robinson after being locked in a basement and forced to read T.S. Eliot.
Of course it didn't hurt that MoTown had the benefit of The Detroit Symphony Orchestra's String Section as session musicians!
Jimmy Ruffin
May 7, 1939 / November 17, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

When It Blows, Its Stacks....

I once knew a woman who was OCD when it came to sex. She had to be banged very specifically. On first dates she’d give prospective mates the handbook. A beautiful leather-bound book. Over 700 pages long, full of explicit illustrations. That’s actually how I met her. We dated. I was totally into it. I mean, what a wonderful strange mind. I’m totally into weirdos, as long as they aren’t serious weirdos. Serious weirdos are the worst. Too serious about everything.

Anyway, I tried my damnedest to perform the complicated mating ritual and I’d failed her by page three. A lot of other people tried too. No one passed. Eventually all of us failures formed a big club. After a while, our club got too big and we got into boring philosophical arguments about the nature of fucking and etc. We split up into what are now the major religions of planet Earth.

I’ll be interested when someone figures out the right way to fuck the divine goddess. The legend states that when she comes her scream will eradicate reality in its entirety. I’m dying to know what happens after that.