Twas The Night Before Xmas!

In a few hours, a jolly fat man with the name Santa Claus, St Nick or simply Santa, will be sliding down chimneys all over the world with gifts for the good children and coal for naughty kids. I have never met the man and would never in my life meet a fat white man in my neighborhood at midnight, even laden with gifts. One reason, there was no chimney and secondly my friends and I would never make any list of well-behaved kids, not for an hour or an entire year.

Santa must have had some friends in high places, after all climbing into houses instead of coming through the front door is rather dangerous, and legally a felony – home invasion, and being served with cookies and milk for doing so, is quite amazing. Here is a glass of milk and a plate of cookies, thanks for dropping in.

The mythical figure of Santa Claus has its origins in Dutch, Belgian, German and English folklore, just like many of the absurd traditions The Europeans brought to the New World. The purpose, I believe, was to offer the poor and disadvantage children with a day of happiness and relief from their humble and unfortunate condition with good cheer and toys.

Now in the 21st Century, Xmas and Santa Claus has become a symbol of commercialism. Parents colluded to convince their kids of the existence of Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, and certainly will undermined a child’s ability to critically weight real-world evidence against imaginary figures. At an early age, I know that Santa Claus was existing somebody’s imagination, therefore my parents did not have to lie to me.

Now if only we can abandon other fairy tales imposed on by our Europeans deceivers.

Merry Xmas and to All a Good Night!

The Presidency

The political contest for President of the United States continues intensely; the debates for the year are over, and during next year’s primaries and caucuses, each candidate will accumulate as many delegates for consideration as the official nominee for – the Democratic Party and the Republican Party – at their respective national conventions.

After watching the debate of the Republican Party, it occurs to me that there should a ‘litmus test’ for persons seeking the high office of Presidency. The current list of the 14 Republican candidates, aka as ‘the clown car’, seem to have limited knowledge of the Constitution of the U.S. and the philosophy of the system of government. If these tremendously successful men in their respective field are not aware of the three equal branches of the U.S. government, then how will they support the empty promises they decree on the campaign trail when in the White House. The United States is neither a dictatorship (a ruler of the people, based upon military or political power); a theocracy (government led by religious belief or culture); or an oligarchy, a power structure in which power effectively rest with a few people; but a Representative democracy, a political class of elected representatives trusted to carry out the duties of the electors, unfortunately, these officials may be responsible to any group in society, or none, once elected.

Jeb Bush has accused Trump of a ‘lack of seriousness’ as a Presidential candidate, but this statement can apply to most of the candidates on the Republican side of the aisle. The lies and misinformation committed by Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee are shocking and beyond belief. When Chris Christie suggests that as President he would shoot down any Russians that violate a proposed a no-fly zone, or Ted Cruz wanted to carpet bombed the city of Raqqa. These acts would be considered war crimes according to the Geneva Convention, including but not limited to: intentionally killing civilians or prisoners, torture, wantonly destroying property, rape, using child soldiers and holding hostages.

As I stated in an earlier blog, Trump is using Hitler’s playbook of the 1930’s. His policies and statements are more suited to a dictatorship than to a democracy. Denying a groups’ entry to the United States on religious grounds is unconstitutional, or infringing on the rights of citizens by denying access to the internet, or group punishment to the relatives of those accused of a crime. Israel commits this act on Palestinians without condemnation from the United Nations or the US government. Trump’s pompous boasting has recently been saluted by no other than the dictator himself – Putin.

The President must be an individual with impeccable character, high integrity, impartiality and to represent all citizens. Bluster, bullying and bizarre rhetoric are not the qualities of good leadership.

President Barack Obama, a constitutional lawyer, has been the epitome of a true leader, maintaining a true sense of dignity facing insurmountable hurdles and incredible obstacles for most of his Presidency. Yet he has had great achievements considering the opposition’s pledge to stymie his accomplishments.

Tis The Season!

It is the season of goodwill, good cheer, and time to show that extra kindness and charity to your neighbors, friends and family. It is also the time of the year when we will contribute to the profitability of the retailers and merchants of commercialism. We are only too happy to oblige and pack under the Xmas trees with all the latest gadgets, and gizmos; max out the credit cards and raid the savings accounts for another year.

This tradition started, no doubt, with the Three Wise Men showing up in Bethlehem with gold, frankincense and myrrh for baby Jesus, obviously, precious gems and spices were very cheap and easy to obtain in the year of our Lord. We never found out what happen to all the gold, however, Jesus was not materialistic and lived a life of poverty.

I am not suggesting we live a life according to Jesus, because our economic and political circumstances are entirely different in these modern times. We could not anyway, in our wildest imagination. Today, in this technological society, we can argue that the world is a better place due to advances in science, healthcare, engineering and the internet. People are living longer and have a better quality of life; they traveled extensively and free to live wherever they desire. Despite these achievements, dire economic hardships still preoccupy most of the masses.

The politicians and the dubious so called ‘job creators’ have a joint interest to keep wages low, and to work in concert to support that the wealth flows to the top 1%; the politicians to boost their re-election bid and the rich to control the politicians. It is an economic fact, that when the middle class and those on the lower socio-economic ladder have more money to spend, the economy thrives. Raising the minimum wage to at least $15 would be a win-win for businesses and government. People would have a lot more to spend so that businesses would have a greater pool of consumers; and the government would spend less to subsidize food stamps, healthcare and other services for those below the poverty line. The CEOs and Directors of these companies could demand less in their excessive compensation, which they could not spend in their lifetime.

Likewise, the Social Security crisis could easily be fixed by increasing the withholding wage base limit of $118,500, that is, the maximum wage that is subject to tax. Increasing this threshold would make the fund solvent for many more years. You would think that these fixes are a no-brainer, but politics and common sense are not interchangeable.

Looking back at 2015, we can deliberate over the resolutions we made at the start of the year. Most worthwhile goals certainly, but many of us have come up a little short. Too much sweet potato pie and turkey at Thanksgiving have blown up the diet regimen and the weight you promise to shed is now double. Your plans to seek a ‘significant other’, after years of being alone, but with careful selection and vetting, has not happened yet. You contemplate turning gay to increase your chances of finding a partner. Women are in a more desperate predicament, the demographics does not support finding an eligible partner; with most men, either incarcerated, unemployable or married, chances are slim and none. Some have found solace in the church, and an awkward, uncomfortable liaison with the charismatic pastor of the church, and an ‘undying love’, ‘tis so sweet to trust in Jesus’. Congratulations to you with a committed, and dedicated loved ones, you are more fortunate that you will ever know.

Maybe, that dream job you qualify for is never going to materialize, passed up again for the new whiz kid just out of an Ivy League school, or the hussy that seems to bend over backwards to please all her superiors or the brown noser with his head up the bosses’ ass. You conclude that some jobs are not worth the aggravation or the frustration. Take one look at Barack Obama; once debonair and confident, is now a graying, beaten man. On the other hand, Michelle seem to blossom day after day. Behind every beautiful woman is a hard-working man.

The good news you are about to retire and quite happy to do so. You have accumulated the $1.3million minimum, needed to live comfortable. Have a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!

Hitler’s Play Book

America’s privileged majority is experiencing a superficial threat to their way of life, and seemingly their political influence and legacy is eroding. There is a feeling of disenfranchisement and abandonment by the élite political establishment; economic instability due to wages stagnation; fears of immigrants, and non-Christians; minorities, and foreigners, among this group of the population, that it seems their insecurities are further linked to the emerging population of other minority and ethnic groups.

The current political climate is conducive and ready for a charismatic leader using populist rhetoric to stoke the fears and hopes of a disenchanted population, even though misguided and misinformed. Populism is a doctrine that empathize with the feelings and difficulties of a particular group of citizens that feel powerless, with promises of unreasonable and unrealistic proposals, to increase appeal across the political spectrum.

Just like Hitler’s vitriolic speeches and rise to power in 1933, who blamed the Jews for Germany’s economic problems, and promised the people a new and better society, it is no coincidence that Donald J Trump speeches include with tearing up treaties and making American great again, as Hitler promised to tear up the Treaty of Versailles and make Germany great again.

Unlike Trump, Hitler was born in poor and humble circumstances and at one time was homeless in Vienna. Hitler displayed an increasingly unstable personality with a terrible temper. At times he was quite reasonable but he was always prone to sudden outbursts of rage especially when he challenged on anything. He had no real interest in women, preferring to keep away from them and even smugly rebuffed those who showed any interest in him. He strictly adhered to his Catholic upbringing about sex, believing men and women should remain celibate until marriage. Hitler had some talent as an artist but failed several time being accepted at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.

The ‘war to end all wars’ began after the heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated down by a young Serbian terrorist o June 28, 1914. Germany urged Austria to declare war on Serbia. Russia then mobilized against Austria. Germany mobilized against Russia. France and Britain then mobilized against Germany.

At the age of 25, after years of poverty, alone and uncertain, the young Adolf now found a sense of purpose fighting for the German Fatherland. An entire generation of young men by the millions would be wiped out. The war would also be the downfall of the old European culture of kings and noblemen.

Faced with political unrest and starvation, an economy in ruins, and mounting defeats on the battlefield, Germany generals requesting armistice negotiations with the Allies to end World War 1 in November 1918. Amid the political turmoil, on June 28, 1919, Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles. Under the terms of the agreement, Germany alone forced to accept responsibility for causing the war and had to pay huge war reparations, and had to give up land to Poland and Germany.

Hitler joined The German Workers’ Party in 1919, and became its organizer and leading orator. Hitler’s ability to electrify an audience with highly emotional, sometimes hysterical speech making, appealed to the alienated and the disaffected. Hitler railed against the Treaty of Versailles, rival politicians, and political groups, especially Marxists and delivered anti-Semitic tirades, blaming the Jews for Germany’s problems. Later he changed the name to The National Socialist German Worker’s Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or (NSDAP), called NAZI for short.

It is not likely that D Trump would become Führer of the Republican Party with dictatorial powers. In spite, of a love hate relationship, because he espouses the party’s racist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant sentiments, however, he does not have loyalty to the party, despite signing an oath, he will be most likely become an Independent candidate. With his huge bigoted following, his defection will certainly destabilize the Republican Party and hand the Presidency to Hilary Clinton. The Republican Party is making contingency plans if Trump should win the nomination. Trump has mastered the art of fear as a political weapon.

Cover-Ups: Hidden Truths.

Occasionally, or more often than not, many of us have had reasons to hide unflattering or embarrassing problems. I am not talking about the sexy sarong that women wear on the beach, loose blouses or wrap-arounds, or strategically placed accouterments, like the toupee that men wear to camouflage a balding spot, or lifts in shoes to exaggerate height. But when a government or an institution do something criminal or morally wrong, the consequences are far-reaching and have long-lasting effects on its citizens and the world. Conspiracy theories abound.

The most recent flagrant decision to cover-up an incident – the shooting of a 17 year-old teenager by Officer Jason Van Dyke of the Chicago Police Department – is so conspicuously bad and offensive, it defies rational and sound judgment. After 13 months, the video became public only after a judge’s order and a Freedom of Information Act request to release it. The video plainly conflicts with the police report, which compelled The Superintendent of Police to resign and The Mayor of Chicago’s job is tenuous at best. These tactics have always been employed by police departments throughout the country: planting and concocting evidence; lying on police reports; abuse of prisoners and even killing suspects in custody. The ‘thin blue line’ of police secrecy is finally turning red; the trust between the public and law enforcement has long been eroded.

It is hard of think of a more heinous cover-up in the history of medical ethics than the Tuskegee study of, ‘Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male’, conducted by U.S. Public Health Service between 1932 to 1972. Some 399 Black males with syphilis were treated as ‘guinea pigs’ without their consent, to determine the pathology of the disease . Even when penicillin, an effective treatment for syphilis, became available in 1947, the researchers did not offer it to them, as a result as much as 100 men died.

In 1950 a physician and epidemiologist, Dr Ernst Wynder, pointed to heavy cigarette smoking as a cause for lung cancer. Although, the tobacco industry’s own scientist already knew the link, they continue to ‘cloud the issue’.

Watergate, the most famous of all cover-ups with the disastrous consequences of bringing down a President. In June 1972, police arrested five burglars at the Watergate Hotel and Office Complex in Washington, where they were attempting to place listening devices in the office of the Democratic National Committee. It quickly became quite obvious that the burglars had links to President Richard Nixon. One of them, Bernard Barker, had a $25k check from Nixon’s campaign in his bank account. Nixon finally resigned in disgrace and pardoned by President Gerald Ford, saving him the displeasure of the first president to go to jail.

The Ford Pinto 1971, had serious design problem. When the car had been deep into its development cycle, low-speed rear-end crash testing revealed that the fuel tanks filler neck had a tendency to tear away and spill gas under the car. It would have been an extra $11 per car to fix the problem, but Ford management decided it would cost less to pay off Pinto owners whose cars caught on fire. Eventually, a man received $125 million for injuries he sustained in a burning Pinto, later reduced to $3 million, that was the beginning of the end for the car and a public relations disaster that took Ford years to recover.

For decades, the Catholic Church, both in the U.S. and other countries engaged in a systematic effort to cover up crimes by its clergy. Between 1950 and 2002, 4,392 priests were accused of sexual abuse of young boys and girls. The offending priests were shuffle from diocese to diocese to hide their transgressions. The church paid dearly for the cover-ups, U.S. dioceses have paid more than $3 billion to settle lawsuits by the victims.

The cover-up is always bigger than the crime. An effort to weave a web of deceit and elaborate lies, usually do more harm than good. Maybe, if President Clinton had admitted his affair with Monica Lewinsky and not lie under oath, he would have avoided articles of impeachment by Congress, (although the Senate did not convict him), his legacy would have been impeccable, however, even that conclusion is debatable.