Monday, March 4, 2013

F**K YOU Ted Cruz, Allen West, Michelle Bachmann, et al. This is personal!

Cruz and West; and those emitting the 2008 Tea Partying rally cries of “Socialist!”, and “Communist!”, and “Kill him!!!”; and all of their enablers in Congress; Reince Priebus and other apologists for Ted Cruz at those recent hearings:
Fuck you!!!  My dad would’ve kicked your asses!
(And my wife will kick Sarah Palin’s and Michelle Bachmann’s asses.)
Okay, I am speaking figuratively about the ass-kicking, but this is deeply personal.
My father was dragged in front of the McCarthy Commission for Un-American activity.  He lost his security clearance:  a Masters in Electrical Engineering, just starting out in the post-war world, intent on a career in government contracting work.  He lost his security clearance, and almost his entire career.

I slightly fictionalized his life story in Aldus Shrugged, but everything in this diary is absolutely true and heartfelt.
My dad was a genius; easily the smartest person I ever knew.  He was my father and my google, and I was always too lazy to look it up myself in the encyclopedia (remember encyclopedias: those stacks of paper, with the hard thing covering the papers, like a sandwich?)
Anyway, he earned a four year mayoral scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania (his immigrant parents couldn’t have even afforded the application fee, though the entirely yearly tuition to UofP in 1938 was 400 dollars!!!)
His grades earned him another year of graduate study and he became an Electrical Engineer, not the most popular profession for Jewish boys back then.
To make a long story short, my dad was a very complex man:  he supported Nixon because of Nixon’s support for some missile program for Israel.  My dad even wrote a couple of letters to Henry Kissinger and got a personal reply.
He had a heart of gold, and a big heart at that.  I saw his kindness to strangers and acquaintances many times in my life.  One time on a vacation to Atlantic City, we were pedaling the board walk headed to a sunrise visit at Captain Starn’s to feed the seals.  My dad saw an old lady fall off her giant tricycle on a ramp, and he stopped and stayed with her until an ambulance came.  I was about eight and ranted and screamed because we ended up missing the rest of our planned morning.  I was just a bratty little kid, but he was consistently caring.
When he worked for Bell Laboratories in Baltimore, back in the late 1940s, my dad asked a guy on the job to stop using the n-word.  The guy’s response to my dad was something like:

“You call ‘em what you want up north.  Down here (yes, in Baltimore) we call ‘em n’s.”

But that apparently was not the end of it for that racist, for my dad was soon informed that his Jewish student associations in college were deemed Communist associations, and his security clearance was revoked by the McCarthy Commission. My father used to tell me when he was testing the radars at Sandy Hook Naval Station in New Jersey, he would calibrate them by beaming the radar signal off of the water tower in Coney Island.  My father’s early work on radiation and radar was deemed more important than military service, and he got a rare pass on the draft during WWII.  Perhaps that also made him an easy target at that time.
Eventually, Joseph McCarthy was called out for the punk and piece of seditious trash that he was, in a famous retort by Joseph Welch, Head Counsel for the Army, who had the nerve to step up and proclaim that McCarthy had no decency.  That must’ve taken real balls back then.  Like stepping up and opposing the Iraq war; it wasn’t for everybody.  But sometimes that’s all it takes.

Eventually Joseph McCarthy died of acute hepatitis, from chronic alcoholism…at the ripe old age of 48. As the ugly died off, my father’s electrical engineering career eventually took off, and he ran a successful business, employing many people over the years.
When he worked on early microwave ovens, he saw the cooks open the door and the thing would still be running, like a regular oven!!  The chef would put his hands in to take out the food, and he’d feel the hair on his arms crackling and popping!  I am sure that industry policed itself just fine!  Eventually, companies put a trip on the door to kill the microwave transmissions when the door was opened. That was just one of many stories he told me about early microwaves and electromagnetic transmissions.  My dad warned me about the waves coming off of electrical lines and cell phones, way back in the 80s.  Likewise, he warned me, way back in the 70s, about our personal information being disseminated and used without our knowledge.  He would cringe at what is happening today!
His service to his country, studying the effects of radiation on rats, and working so closely with radar and microwaves, cost him dearly:  over-calcification in his ear bones (he all but lost his hearing for most of his adult life) and under-calcification in his teeth (major lifelong dental problems).  He died of cancer, eventually, at the ripe young age of 66.
My dad - and the hatred and lunacy out there because of our president - inspired me to write my first political novel.  It will not be my last.  I love you, dad.  Your son is proud of you.
And fuck you to those who think like Ted Cruz, et al.  Have you learned nothing?

Have you no decency???

The Grand and Beautiful Free Market Unicorn: Why Republicans Have to Lie

The free market unicorn is so pretty.  It is so nice to talk about and dream about.  We muse on our lives in its glorious presence.  Its radioactive glowing blood has magical powers that will save us from the dark forest.  It sounds great, and I guess it feels so good to cling to, but sorry, she doesn’t exist.
Some guy much smarter than me wrote this awhile back, musing on the building of the Barclay Center in downtown Brooklyn, as they dynamited underground endlessly:

All I could think of as I looked straight ahead at the informal Tea Party gathering in my shop, was of vermin:  rats.  Thousands of rats, of all sizes; from mouse-like, to dog-sized, running, running - in all directions - set free from their concrete caves, from the sewers, from the subway tunnels.  Set free by the vibrations under the street, from the booming artificial thunder; set free by the blasts of progress.  Rats set free to run wild, to venture everywhere their curiosity takes them, to explore new territories, new markets, to infest and overwhelm; just as the booming progress has set free the hoards of new Capitalists in places like China and Russia, to run boundless and careless in search of new opportunities.  They cut corners and find these new markets everywhere:  contaminating babies’ milk with carcinogens to boost the protein levels; infesting drywall with lethal formaldehyde; laying radioactive waste to towns and villages for forever-and-a-half-life, in setting up their factories; killing and maiming untold generations, while tallying their precious profits in the billions.  A loaf of bread loaded with plaster of paris; a severed finger in a can of beans:  Ahh, the rugged frontier of new Capitalism.  We’d already been there and done that in this country generations ago.

There is no free market, at least not in the way that Republicans claim it exists.  When did you ever hear this free market shit before, when Bush was president?  It wasn’t important back then?  Bush was such a fucking capitalist?  No, it’s nothing but a manufactured attack.  If you’re not a capitalist, you cannot really be an American, and thus, Obama is not really an American.

Even if somehow the great free market actually exists, and it solves all of our social and economic problems (and raises all ships….god I hate that expression), who in the hell understands its function and can tell us how long we have to wait?  Let’s say a market correction will actually solve all of our problems.  How long will it take?  Six months?  10 years?  50 years?
Management expert Ed Deming, (link) decades ago, proved that Government cooperation (along with valuing people, and a host of other management points) breeds success.  Even Adam Smith, the guy who you’d think would be the godfather of free market enforcement, said the following in The Wealth of Nations:

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer. What improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconveniency to the whole.  No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.
The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities.
Yes, Adam Smith; and he knew a little more about this subject than say, Rand Paul or Ted Cruz.
Walmart is a wonderful example of a free market gone amok.  Their ads are quite accurate:  they do indeed have the lowest prices around.  But somebody has to bear the weight of that floor, and it is most certainly their workers, both direct employees and their abused contract labor.
Walmart generally pays its employees a wage that necessitates their employees utilize government assistance.  I believe this is built into their business model:  they count on the government to, in effect, subsidize their wages paid to employees.  It’s almost like the local government is giving them a continuing tax break-type incentive to keep them in the area, as part of the vital tax base, and as a job provider.  Like a partnership built on a wink and a nod…and a round of golf.
I’m waiting for Walmart to lower their hourly wages to $2.25, and pretend their employees collect tips.  Why not try it?  Oh, the market won’t bear it??  That’s actually beneath people’s acceptable floor for wages?
This brings me to my final point.  Let us concede for a moment that the free market really does exist in this country.  Nobody understands it well enough to predict its function.  How do we know what type of cycles and sub-cycles actually exist within this great American free market?  Perhaps labor unions and government regulations are all part of the free market, a pendulum swing response to the quest for self that characterizes the job providers’ and business owners’ mentality and is positive and morally right in our capitalist society.
If the job creators and business owners are in a perpetual and morally right quest for self-enrichment, aren’t we all as humans in this same quest?  We own the means to provide our labor, and we look out for ourselves, banding together when necessary, for our own personal protection and advancement.  It’s only natural, especially when our opponent is by definition in a quest for his own riches and not at all looking out for us.

Yeah, we are all Americans.   The Kenyan included.
Certainly minorities and various classes of people were mistreated historically in this country.  This time around, though, even middle class white people are branded dogshit.  Wow.
GOP:  We see through your bullshit.   Stop fucking around.  We are all humans and equal to you.  Get over it and do your job!

BLACK ROBES, WHITE JUSTICE: The Great Legacy of Judge Bruce Wright

BLACK ROBES, WHITE JUSTICE:  The Great Legacy of Judge Bruce Wright

Bruce Wright, a man I have never met, was a friend and professional acquaintance of my wife and my mother-in-law.  I feel privileged to have heard some of his personal stories from them over the years.
Bruce M. Wright recently had a street named after him in Harlem, his sons sometimes speak about him publicly, and one of his four books, “Black Robes, White Justice”, still sells thousands of copies each year.  Other than those mentions, and this diary, many of you may not have heard of Judge Bruce Wright.
Bruce Wright was a maverick in the world of judges.  He was on the bench in New York City for over a quarter-century, and earned the nickname “Turn ‘Em Loose Bruce”, by many detractors in law enforcement.
But Judge Wright was not swayed by anything except his own belief system and his determination of what was the right thing to do.  Detractors claimed he was a liberal who wanted only to help offenders of his own race, and make a name for himself.  But Judge Wright answered those critics by stating that he was only following the law.  He rose to the bench in 1970, and saw black defendants routinely treated unfairly by white judges.  He was determined to follow the law:  laws forbidding excessive bail (The Eighth Amendment), and not adjudging those guilty who are only arrested and accused.
This low bail for accused criminals in his court earned him the nickname “Turn ‘Em Loose Bruce” by the Police Union in New York City; and a reputation as a flaming liberal.

New York City Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, (one of Judge Wright’s sons), said that that nickname never bothered his father, but inspired him.  He claims it gave the community a badge of honor to wear.  His father, he said, “Abhorred racism; pure and simple.”  He said his father worked long hours and would arrive at work at 4:30 or 5 in the morning.  When his son asked him why he got to work so early, he said, “No matter what time I get there, the white man’s been there a half-hour earlier.”
New York City Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell characterized as “the biggest joke” that Judge Wright was too lenient. “He just believed in the law,” the Assemblyman added.  “You weren’t guilty until you were found guilty.  But once you were found guilty, he’d bust you up, man.” Judge Wright abhorred the common tactics of cops in his day, and said that the routinely-acquitted officers in excessive force cases had given the police “a license to hunt down blacks.”  (And that legacy is still felt today as much as ever.)

Still, releasing accused cop killers on 500. bail, and releasing with no bail a black man accused of slashing the throat of a white decoy officer; did not engender good feelings between the Police Union and Judge Wright.  (Note that in both instances, the defendants were found not guilty of the murder and attempted murder of which they were accused). Meanwhile, the City Bar Association rated his performance on the bench as “decidedly better than average,” and over the years he has earned much praise from former councilmen and mayors of the City; many his former virulent critics.  Mayor Edward Koch, for example, called Judge Wright a “brilliant jurist.”

Mayor Koch stated that he “disagreed occasionally with his bail decisions, but in every case, the City Bar Association upheld his decision as correct.”
In a city where you just don’t mess with the police, and you do what they say, Judge Bruce Wright did what he felt was right.  Always. Bruce McMarion Wright was the son of a baker, and an excellent student.  He was accepted at Princeton University, and then was basically rejected after they found out he was black.  (Sixty-five years later, the Princeton graduating class of 2001 made him an honorary member.)
After graduating from a black college in Pennsylvania, he joined the Army and earned two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars at Normandy.  After passing the bar exam, his prominent employer, a prestigious firm who had allowed him to clerk; told him there was no future for him there.  (Same reason as Princeton).
Bruce Wright made his mark subsequently, with several black law firms in the city, and in 1967 he was named counsel to the New York City Human Resource Administration (where he worked with my mother-in-law).  Three years later he would be on the Criminal Court Bench.  Pressure from the police and other bigwigs resulted in his transfer to Civil Court, which he successfully fought with a lawsuit in federal court; and he was reinstated to the Criminal Court.
With his ten-year term on the Criminal Court bench about to expire, Judge Wright ran for Civil Court, and won.  He also was elected and served as a justice on the State Supreme Court, from which he retired after 12 years.

At the time of his retirement, Judge Wright stated, “I have never changed my mind about the Eighth Amendment.  To say that I would’ve done things differently means to me I would have been a good boy, kept my mouth shut, and availed myself of the benefits of the system.  I don’t think I can do that.  I don’t think I could ever do that.”
My mother-in-law was proud to have worked with him and been counted as his friend.  My wife was proud to have clerked for him while in law school.  His influence is truly felt to this day. We need people like Judge Bruce Wright, or things will never change.