Archive for January 14th, 2012

Where I Have Been


I finally took a week off work, which combined with a day off and Martin Luther King Day holiday would give me 9 days to rest, paint icons and maybe work on a few projects around the house. I thought I would go to Michigan for two or three days, as my mom, who is 86, had not been feeling well.

Shortly after I arrived she took a turn for the worse and I took her to the emergency room, where she was admitted. So this is where I have been, at the hospital. I have had no access to a computer since Monday;  Mom’s computer is somewhere in storage after a recent move.

My mother is slowly recovering, and will probably be released to a place where she can receive physical therapy before she goes home. Your prayers are appreciated.

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Occupy the GOP

I had wondered how the Occupy Wall Street would affect the upcoming presidential election. Certainly our faux populist president is planning on co-opting the rhetoric in a campaign largely funded by the very Wall Street devils he will be denouncing.

But nothing had prepared me for the populist torch being raised by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.

If Barack Obama is a phony anti-capitalist what is one to make of these two? Only a month or so ago Newt was dismissing those who criticized him for sucking on Fanny Mae’s teats (as a “historian”, no less) as socialists who were hostile to profit-making.

Truth is, there is no candidate who has not been feeding at the trough, which makes it all the more astonishing to hear Right wing Republicans denouncing “vulture capitalism”. If I had used that sort of language I would be called a socialist.

I even heard Mitt Romney (!) denouncing “crony capitalism”, which is the term current among Right wing pundits for indefensible predatory practices. A grudging nod to the fact that the system has problems, but progress nonetheless.

We can only be grateful the the Occupy movement has sparked at long last a discussion on economic injustice, even if the newly minted critics of disparity and greed are motivated by sheer desire to get elected (and in Newt’s case, pure rage at Romney).

Thank God for Occupy Wall Street.

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The Problem with Paul

The only Republican candidate who defended Mitt Romney’s career as a corporate predator was…. Ron Paul. Which makes sense, as he is the most radical of all the free marketeers running.

I supported Ron Paul four years ago. I gave money to his campaign, a first for me, and I slapped a bumper sticker on my car, the first time I did anything like that since I was a wee pup of 14 and sported a McCarthy button (and volunteered for “Clean Gene’s” campaign.

At first I was an enthusiastic Paul supporter. I was so refreshed to see him, in one of the early debates, make the case that America is widely hated not because we are good and free (which is American orthodoxy) but because of our foreign policy. And he was against abortion, a rare combination.

Of course I was aware of his toxic economics, but reasoned that his radicalism would be tempered by Congress, and at least he opposed state capitalism and corporate welfare.

My zeal did not last long. Soon the racist contents of Paul’s newsletters were all over the place, and his explanation- that he had no idea of the contents of his own publications- strained credulity. Especially as he had made a lot of money from them. And if true, such ineptness would disqualify him from the presidency. I still voted for him in the Ohio primary, buy did so holding my nose.

As a contributor I received, in the four years since the last election, emails from the congressman, and I came to see just how important his economic views are to him. He is a disciple of the Austrian school, and an admirer of  the late “anarcho-capitalist” economist Murray Rothbard, as well as Ayn Rand.

There are those who say that even if Paul holds such views he does not want a dog-eat-dog social darwinian world, but envisions one in which folks and churches take care of one another. When the moderator in one debate asked Paul if the uninsured should just be left to die several people in the audience cheered, but Ron Paul said no, but their care was the responsibility of family and community and church, not the government.

One may think this naive, but at least it is better than scorning the downcast.

However, four years ago Dr Paul was put to the test when his campaign manager died uninsured, at the age of 49. I have not seen anyone address Paul about this, but it certainly raises troubling questions. How is it that the Paul campaign did not offer him insurance? Ron Paul raised impressive millions and one of his close employees dies with no insurance? Working for a millionaire physician ?

It would be hard to not vote for someone who opposes American imperialism, but until I hear an explanation for this man’s death I will view his free market fundamentalism not as some sort of baggage, but as a deal breaker.

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