Monday, July 30, 2012

A Change of Heart?

by Leslie Fish

By now it should be obvious to every literate adult in America that nobody loves Mitt Romney – except maybe the notorious 1%. The media have gleefully exposed his thoughtless cruelty to his dog, his thoughtless cruelty to his employees, his "outsourcing" his businesses' jobs to Mexico and China, his overseas tax-shelters, and his stupid refusal to reveal his tax records. Even a brief perusal of pro-Republican internet forums shows that none of them are enthusiastic about him. Nobody is really going to vote for Romney; they're only voting against Obama.

If there were a third choice, a lot of voters would take it. Everyone is sick of voting for the lesser of two evils, and there are rumblings of revolt. People are noting, on the Internet, that nothing in the Constitution requires the existence of political parties -- at all. The Libertarian party has, after decades of being carefully ignored, gained enough clout that the media bothered to cover their national convention this year.

Even the GOP knows this by now. Note how the Republican National Committee is hedging its bets – by actively welcoming Ron Paul and his supporters to the national convention. According to USA Today:

"Ron Paul supporters have feuded with state Republican parties across the country, battling for delegate seats at the national convention, but the national party is welcoming Paul and his supporters to the event with open arms, even helping the Texas congressman organize his troops.

"The Paul campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) have been working closely over the past few months to work out logistics in order to include the Texas congressman and his supporters in the August convention in Tampa."

This is an interesting turnaround, after the way the GOP has done its best to ignore, blacklist, blackball and otherwise silence Ron Paul and his disturbingly popular libertarian policies. Could it be that the GOP is scared enough of the disgruntled voters to risk that there just might be enough Ron Paul delegates at the convention to actually let Ron Paul get the nomination?

That would really be an amazing upset, enough to shock the media – and the Democrats – speechless. The worst that the media/DNC have ever managed to dig up on Ron Paul is: a) that he once (30 years ago) co-edited a newsletter that sometimes published letters-to-the-editor from right-wing nuts, and b) he's personally opposed to abortion (understandable, since in private life he's an obstetrician: conflict of interest). In the short time left before the election, they'd have to really scramble to create a believable smear-campaign against Paul.

He just might beat Obama. He certainly has a better shot than Romney.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Value of Keeping Cool

This happened more than 15 years ago, back in California, so the kids involved have long since reached legal age and escaped into the world, and their families can't get at them anymore. Also, any police charges from then have long since passed their expiration date, so I'm safe in talking about it.

Anyway, never mind how I wound up harboring a bunch of runaway kids, or all the backbends I went through trying to get them legal protection and safe places to stay. Suffice it to say that I learned a lot about how few rights and protections children really have. I did it because, dammitol, there had to be at least one adult in town that these mistreated kids could trust.

One of them was marvelously pretty blonde girl -- let's call her Alice -- just turned 15, who'd been sexually abused by her stepfather and got an obscure revenge by being the girl who'd put out for all the boys in her school. I'd told her, simply as one girl to another, that using sex as a weapon was a bad idea, but she wasn't entirely convinced. She decided to test me, and came up with an ingenious method.

One night after dinner, when all the dishes had been washed and the other kids were out in the livingroom watching TV, Alice caught me alone in the kitchen and said: "I know I've got to find a way to make a living of my own. I've been thinking about becoming a prostitute. What do you think?"

My first thought was that I must not -- absolutely must not lose my cool and yell about crime or morality or any of that other crap that she'd had yelled at her by other adults for so long. So I stayed calm and went after the purely practical points.

"Not in this state you don't," I said. "In California it's illegal, so you'll be prey to the cops as well as bad johns, creeps and bully-boys. Even if you can avoid those, if you're working independently, other whores will very likely slash up your face to cut down on the competition."

She gave me a double-take at that, so I added: "There was an article in the paper just last week. I think we've still got a copy..."

"That's all right," she said. "So how do I get protection?"

"You absolutely don't want a pimp," I want on. "A pimp will take all your money, dole out food and clothes and housing, and give you nothing. In fact, he'll beat you up if he finds you're keeping any cash for yourself. He'll also try to get you hooked on bad drugs, for which he'll be your only supplier, so as to keep you solidly chained to him. He won't help you if you get caught by the cops, either."

"Why not?" Alice asked. "You'd think they'd want to protect their...moneymakers."

"They can always pick up new girls, very often runaways. They hang around the Greyhound stations, watching for girls who get off carrying suitcases and looking lost. Any one girl in their stables is disposable."

"Oh." Alice thought about that. "What about getting into a...a house, with a madam?"

"Yes, you'd be a lot better off there -- provided the madam can keep the cops paid off. Problem is, there are very few secure houses in the whole Bay Area, and they're rarely looking for new recruits. Also, they don't like to take underagers."

Alice thought for a long moment, and then murmured: "...Nevada?"

Of course I knew what she meant. "Yes, it's legal in Nevada -- in certain counties. If you could get into one of those legal houses, that would be the best way to do it. They give good pay, very good protection, excellent health insurance, and regular medical check-ups -- every week, if not oftener. The problem there is, again, they won't take you until you're legal age. I'm afraid there's just no safe way to go into that business if you're under 18. Honestly, Alice, you're better off working for MacDonald's."

She wrinkled her nose and muttered something about "less than minimum wage," but then added: "I'll go get an app from the one down the street." She got up and went out, looking thoughtful.

Yes, she eventually did get a job in a fast-food restaurant, made an arrangement to stay with an aunt, finished her schooling and went on to a better job and a better future. So did the other kids.

None of them ever took up prostitution for a living. Neither, as far as I know, did any of their friends.

--Leslie <;)))><

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dickens Was Right

Okay, so the Supreme Court has decided that the ObamaCare bill is constitutional, by some rather odd legal definitions.

The problem with healthcare before this was that a lot of people were too poor to buy health insurance, so when they had serious health problems they were either financially wiped out by medical costs or had to go on some form of Welfare. Obama's (wildly misnamed) "Affordable Health Care" bill attempted to solve this problem -- by forcing people, poor or not, to buy health insurance. Uhh, and where are they to get the money for this? Well, right where they did before: from some form of Welfare. The difference is that the Welfare money is sidetracked through a host of insurance companies. In brief, Obamacare is heaven for insurance companies. It won't be so jolly for the taxpayers, who will foot the bill for this.

The way the Supremes decided that it was constitutional to force citizens to buy a particular product was by re-defining the penalty (for not buying insurance) as a "tax". Never mind that Obama himself had insisted that the penalty wasn't a tax. Quite simply, the executive and judicial branches of the federal govt. want the Obamacare bill, under whatever excuse they can grab.

Never mind that about a million citizens, and a dozen states, have opted out of the bill and publicly sworn that they will neither obey nor enforce it. Never mind that assorted economists have predicted that this bill will drive the US even further into catastrophic debt. Never mind that insurance companies, hospitals and clinics are already "rationing" healthcare -- which means, yes, that a lot of old folks are already being denied medicines and treatments they need to survive. Never mind that a lot of Americans will just plain die because of medicine being practiced by insurance clerks. Never mind all that; the fed. govt. wants this law.

But why? The bill is a huge, sprawling, sloppy, bloated bureaucratic nightmare, 2900 pages long, which nobody in Congress bothered to read all the way through before voting it in. It contains lots of little amendments with curious purposes that have nothing to do with American healthcare -- such as the $100 million promised to rebuild the infrastructure in Gaza. It's designed to strip money out of Medicare, which -- despite its desperate need for overhauling -- really did provide reliable healthcare to the poor. It's a badly-written bill which will not help poor Americans with healthcare needs, but will pour lots of tax money into the pockets of the insurance companies and will create lots of jobs for govt. bureaucrats.

It has already done more than any other bad federal law to encourage the state govts. to pull away from the fed. govt., to the point just short of open rebellion.

Maybe that's the whole point.

--Leslie <;)))><