Friday, May 30, 2008
However, there was no word from the Vatican on when it would resume burning women for heresy or witchcraft.
According Reuters someone in St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America, ordained three women as priests earlier this year.
If a business corporation or government discriminated against promoting women, they would get their asses sued. If found guilty, they would pay out a hefty amount of money.
Does the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, stating "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" mean that religious organizations are exempt from U.S. law? Why should that phrase trump the Fourteenth Amendment, no widely believe to guarantee women equal rights to men, which says "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."
If the Catholics burned an American woman as a witch, would they be exempt from being charged with murder on the theory that they were simply exercising their religious rights?
The Catholic Church's ban on women priests is not just wrong, it is evil.
At the very least, the Catholic Church should be deprived of its tax exempt status until it treats women as the equals of men.
Or the American Catholic Church could declare its independence from the Bishop of Rome, formerly known as the Pope.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
So I looked up Franklin Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address. Not only was the threat of ruling by decree without the consent of Congress clearly there, but the anti-semitic overtones leap out. The Depression was blamed, not on the market bubbles of the late 1920's, or the restrictive policy of the Federal Reserve, or the Democratic Congress of 1930's blocking Herbert Hoover's initiatives for relief of the poor, but on "unscrupulous money changers." If you aren't up on the New Testament or anti-jew code words you might not realize he was blaming the Depression on Jewish bankers. One step away from the International Jewish Conspiracy. Two steps away, at most, from Hitler's openly hateful anti-Jewish rhetoric. Money changers are the people that Jesus attacked in a fit of anger at the Temple in Jerusalem.
What does that have to do with Hitler and Catholicism, other than the anti-semitic theme? Roosevelt was President of the United States of America during an almost identical period of time as Adolph Hitler. He presided over a system of white supremacy that Hitler envied and copied. His economic and military policies were almost identical to Hitler's. So aside from American nationalism and Democratic Party partisanship, why was Hitler bad and Roosevelt good?
A gentleman who took the time to write a long feedback to my Goodbye, Pope blog entry stated, among other arguments, that Germany was a Protestant nation, as if that disproved my claim that Fascism was intimately tied to the Catholic Church. He failed to make the stronger argument that Mussolini was not, himself, Catholic, though most Italian fascists were. But Hitler was Catholic, as I demonstrate in Hitler's Catholicism.
Which brings us to some real differences between Adolf Hitler and Franklin Roosevelt (FDR). Adolf Hitler was from a lower-middle-class family and endured a period of extreme poverty before becoming the leader of the German National Socialist, or Nazi, party. FDR was a child of privilege, descended from patriarchs given vast land grants in New Amsterdam (later New York State) in the 1600's. He attended Groton, then Harvard, then Columbia Law School. And he was not Catholic; like much of the ruling class of the United States at the time, he was Episcopalian. [More on FDR at Wikipedia]
Authoritarian trends have always struggled with anti-authoritarian, individualistic, and democratic trends in the United States. Like Hitler, FDR vastly expanded the role of the national government, particularly over the economy. Unlike Hitler, he did not actually suppress political parties in the United States. Instead he used taxpayer money to buy votes, a most effective system.
Fascism was described as anti-American in most propaganda because it was anti-democratic. But actions speak louder than words. Roosevelt did nothing as long as Hitler and Franco were just smashing their internal (mostly atheist) opponents. He did not even join in the war effort when Hitler invaded Poland. No, he only went to war when the U.S. economic interests were endangered in the far east.
Americans could not talk about the centrality of Catholicism to Fascism because of the importance of the Catholic vote to the Democratic Party coalition. At that time few Catholics were in the Republican Party. The Catholic Church hierarchy in Rome was more than happy to see non-Catholics exterminated in Spain and Jews were exterminated in Germany and territories occupied by the Nazis. The Church particularly hated Communist atheism and hoped that Hitler would make Russia a Catholic nation again. when Britain's Winston Churchill and America's Roosevelt teamed up with Russia's Stalin to defeat the fascists, the Church had to hedge its bets. The Allied invasion of Italy and defeat of Mussolini sent the Church scurrying to ingratiate itself with the side that looked like it could win. However, the Catholic Church was powerful enough to protect General Franco in Spain after the war.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
On the other hand, since I work freelance and Jan sells jewelry out of our home, we did pay over $5000 in Social Security taxes. If you are self-employed you get to pay both halves of the SS tax that are usually split between employers and employees.
But that is supposed to be a pension plan. So for 2007, my wife and I, middle-income people, paid not a penny for the war against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc. No dough towards foreign aid. No subsidies for farming corporations. Nothing for food stamps, other federal welfare payments, or federal subsidies for education. No money for earmark boondoggles. But all that money was spent anyway, piling up in the federal deficit.
Sounds like Gun and Butter to me. The phrase means spending money on a war without cutting back on domestic consumption. Hitler is famous for doing that during World War II. Women were not asked to work in the war effort, and plenty of food was available for German house wives until the Russians were grinding up the Polish breadbasket and German husbands along with it.
Every nation that has done the guns and butter routine for very long has ended up bankrupt, with little military power and not much butter. So unless history is not prededent in this case, that is where the United States is heading.
The election over, I'll almost certainly go back to owing taxes for 2008. Plus there is that big old, scary national debt that at the very least needs to have its interest paid.
Which made me think of another case of not paying taxes in the good ol' United States of America. Between around 1920 and 1990 there was something called the oil depletion allowance. The theory behind it was this. There is oil in the ground, and someone owns it. It is worth money setting there in the ground. If you take it out of the ground, and sell it, you really have not made any money. Because the money just compensates for the lessening of the value of the oil in the ground. No income, no income tax. Simple. And fair as the sky is blue. Own oil land and become a multi-millionaire, even if you bought the land for $1 per acre, and you owe no federal income tax.
We ordinary people born to ordinary parents who are renters or maybe own some ordinary, non-oil holding land, should get a labor depletion allowance against income tax.
The reasoning here is that each person born has a certain lifelong capacity for labor. As you labor, you are depleting that capacity. So you are not actually netting any money. Any pay you get just offsets your total lifetime money earning ability.
Write your congressperson today, while its election year. Demand a labor depreciation allowance against income tax.
What is good enough for an oil man is good enough for me.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Local singer/songwriter Chris Skyhawk started off with some political folk songs, and Cynthia pulled shakers out of her purse and got with the rhythm:
Peace activist Dr. Carol Wolman spoke next about why she decided to challenge the local Democratic Party incumbent for his congressional seat. She said that the possibility of nuclear war has increased greatly, that the incumbent (Mike Thompson) has voted for all funding bills for the war in Iraq, and that he also supported all of George W. Bush's tax cuts for the rich. She promised represent this mainly liberal district's pro-peace, pro-economic justice, pro-environment citizens. She also explained why we need to impeach both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
Cynthia gave an excellent speech touching on many of America's problems and their solutions. She pointed out how racism can still be a problem in the United States. She recounted how she was attacked by the press and both the Republican Party and Democratic Party when she stood up on the floor of Congress and asked the obvious question after the 911 attacks on the World Trade Centers: "What did the administration know and when did they know it?"
She said history has shown a nation can't have both Guns and Butter without crippling its economy. Joining the Green Party was her own declaration of independence from participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity. She also talked about how hard it is to take on the political establishment. Her father had begun protesting against racism in Georgia (an all Democratic Party state back then) when he returned from serving in World War II. Supporting the Green Party now is difficult, but it is creating a path to a United States that is at peace with the world and where there is true democracy, social justice, and an environmentally sustainable economy.
Cynthia McKinney with Carol Wolman while taking questions from the audience:
The audience of about 50 people gave over $500 to Ms. McKinney's campaign. Run Cynthia Run!
Friday, May 9, 2008
Mrs. Clinton, according to news sources, was raised in a Republican family, but then went to a liberal, pro-Democratic Party college in the 1960's. The 60's did not radicalize her, but events did push her left of center. Apparently she decided to become a Democrat only after attending the Republican Party nominating convention in 1968, which nominated Richard Nixon. She believed the Republicans were racists. Which is pretty funny, in retrospect. The Democratic Party was founded explicitly as a slavery party by a man who traded slaves (and exterminated native America Indians) for a living. It was the party of the Confederacy during the civil war. It worked with the Klan to eliminate civil rights for African Americans after the civil war and then was the party of Segregation Forever until, well, 1964. Not that the Republican Party was great on civil rights issues after the Radical Republicans lost power in 1880, but if you had to pick a year that was an anomaly it was 1968. White working class Americans were mad, and the Republicans wanted their votes, especially in the southern states. Richard Nixon whispered some racist code words to win the election, but as President continued the good work on civil rights that he had begun as Vice-president in the 1950s.
There is still racism in our society, and even more important, the results of centuries of racial and economic discrimination against non-whites still affect many people in a negative way. This is the year that Democratic Party voters decided to compensate for past crimes by nominating a half-African American, well-educated son of well-educated parents, to lead the nation. It is not a bad thing, but it means we won't have a woman President. I think women will continue to be marginalized because of this.
Hillary Clinton was part of a team with Bill Clinton. They captured the White House in 1992, but I suspect Hillary would have done better if she had become, say, the state Senator from Arkansas and then ran on her own steam.
I disagree with Ms. Clinton on many, many issues. She nods towards environmentalism when the nation needs a fighter. Same with most issues.
If Barack Obama wins the White House, I hope there is a role for Hillary Clinton. She would make a good Secretary of State, or of Health and Human Services. "Good," meaning good within the allowable spectrum of U.S. politics at present. I'd put Green Party members in every cabinet post, and the Presidency, if I could.
Meanwhile, you can still vote for a woman for President. Cynthia McKinney looks set to take the Green Party nomination. Cynthia is speaking in my neighborhood tomorrow, and I look forward to that.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
However, health care has not been an important issue in my life, and since there seemed to be plenty of people working on passing single-payer health care, I have not been active in that area. Nor have I written about that much.
Last week that changed.
About 15 years ago my wife Jan and I got a catastrophic health insurance policy from Blue Cross of California, which was then a not-for-profit organization. We were both healthy, but Jan's dad bugged us about it, and the premiums were only a couple of hundred bucks a month. We both work freelance, so we don't have an employer and can't get the better insurance rates that big corporations negotiate with health insurers.
About 8 years ago Jan started treatment for high blood pressure. That locked us into our Blue Cross policies because, as you know, when you change policies even if you have something as common and innocuous as high blood pressure, then won't insure you for anything related to the pre-existing condition. And almost everything but cancer and broken bones are in the cardiovascular category.
Jan bought a home blood pressure monitor and I checked my blood pressure with it. For years I was in the high end of normal, then it crept up into the definitely high range and I sought treatment at the only local medical provider, Redwood Coast Medical Services, known as RCMS. My doctor is Thomas Bertolli, who is also the RCMS medical director.
It seemed to me that in settling on a blood-pressure medicine for me I was being involved in a number of expenses talks with Mr. Bertolli at $75 a pop (remember my medical insurance covers absolutely nothing but hospital care, and then has a high deductible). The only relevant information was my blood pressure readings. But I started taking medication and we upped the dose until I was getting good readings. After resisting his trying to get me to come in for unnecessary lectures, I found that RCMS did give free blood pressure readings. So I got those and my prescription was renewed without seeing Mr. Bertolli and paying $75 each time.
I knew from my wife and other patients that if you let them, they would schedule a doctor visit every time you needed a prescription renewal.
My time was running out, however, and I knew it. But my wife actually found a loophole in our favor. Our insurance, which now runs $350 a month, would pay for an annual physical. Would pay $131 for that. So I figured here was a win-win situation. I would schedule an annual physical instead of a mere office visit with Mr. Bertolli. RCMS would get more money and I would not be out of pocket.
When I called for the appointment, however, they said I would have to have a blood draw a week before hand. That means paying for the blood draw and lab tests. Well okay, I would pay for that. Who knows, maybe something would show up in the blood test. However, my wife warned me that her nurse-practitioner had popped her head in during the blood draw, chatted for a minute, and then charged us for a doctor's visit! So I was prepared to head off that scam.
I go for my blood draw. The nurse started telling me what would happen, and she said I would see Mr. Bertolli for a couple of minutes before the actual blood draw. I said I did not want to pay for a doctor visit when I would be seeing him for as long as he wanted a week later. She sent me back to the waiting area while she waited to tell Bertolli of this possible peasant rebellion.
The nurse came back with the news that to get a blood draw I would have to see Bertolli and pay for it. I said no. Then she took me back to the blood draw room anyway.
Bertolli came in and said it was medically necessary for me to see him before a blood draw. I asked him what the medical necessity was and he could not give an answer. He said he was not trying to just run up the charges. He told me medicine costs money like everything else and I would have to pay for it or leave. The fact that I have paid for it, to RCMS and my medical insurer, did not matter. I told him I elected to not see him, not have a blood draw, and not have a physical. He said fine and I walked out.
But of course, the AMA (American Medical Association) has made sure that they control the dispensation of all pharmaceuticals. I thought I could go to Tijuana, Mexico (I live in northern California, but visit San Diego once in a while), and buy my medicine without a prescription. But apparently that was old information. Now customs is seizing medications bought in Mexico unless you have a prescription from a doctor in the United States.
It is simply blackmail. Bertolli thinks he has control of my life because I would have to do hours of driving to get to a non-RCMS doctor. And his AMA gangsta friends are probably all doing this, if RCMS made it policy.
And our elected officials specialize in doing nothing, because doing nothing keeps things profitable for the AMD and the private insurers.
And despite this extortion of people who have no insurance or inadequate insurance, RCMS is widely reputed to be going under financially. The reason for this is twofold. When insurers have to pay, they bargain RCMS down to an unprofitable level. And moreso, when Medicare and Medicaid patients come in, RCMS is reimbursed by the government for less than the cost of treatment. Our area is now heavily populated with retirees, so RCMS sees a disproportionate number of Medicare patients.
And that tells you my probable health trajectory. I am 53 years old. At the age of 65 I will be able to go on Medicare and get my blood pressure treated. In the meantime, I will have high blood pressure, which increases the risk I will have a heart attack or a stroke. It isn't that I don't have $75 to donate to RCMS. It is because I don't trust someone who would blackmail me to tell me what is good for my health.
It is notable that my untreated blood pressure readings are not atypical for a man of my age. The blood pressure medicine was really preventative medicine. Unless it is provided for a reasonable cost, I have to consider it optional.
And cholesterol medicine, I suspect, is one of the biggest scams ever put over on the human race. The only people who seem to benefit from it are people who have already had a stroke or heart attack. I believe tens of millions of Americans are taking it just to enrich doctors and pharmaceutical companies.
Am I over my head here? Am I just talking nonsense? See my What I Know About Healthcare for my qualifications for analysing the health industry.