A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

May 9, 2007

“Lean” – IBM’s Plan to Screw its US Workers

A fantastic post about the unethical business practices that an American Icon, IBM, is inflicting upon its employees, and the plan to fire over 100,000 employees and replace “some” of these employess with “workers” from Communist China and India. I guess they will work with Beijing to make sure that enough prisoners are available before this plan is put into operation.

IBM is about to go through the biggest restructuring in its operations since the Gerstner days, but this time for all the wrong reasons.

At least Lou Gerstner was trying to SAVE a dying company, while the current leadership seems to be planning another ENRON manuver.

The IBM project is called LEAN and the first manifestation of LEAN was this week’s 1,300 layoffs at Global Services, which generated almost no press. Thirteen hundred layoffs from a company with more than 350,000 workers is nothing, so the yawning press reaction is not unexpected. But this week’s “job action,” as they refer to it inside IBM management, was as much as anything a rehearsal for what I understand are another 100,000+ layoffs to follow, each dribbled out until some reporter (that would be me) notices the growing trend, then dumped en masse when the jig is up, but no later than the end of this year.

LEAN is about offshoring and outsourcing at a rate never seen before at IBM. For two years Big Blue has been ramping up its operations in India and China with what I have been told is the ultimate goal of laying off at least one American worker for every overseas hire. The BIG PLAN is to continue until at least half of Global Services, or about 150,000 workers, have been cut from the U.S. division. Last week’s LEAN meetings were quite specifically to find and identify common and repetitive work now being done that could be automated or moved offshore, and to find work Global Services is doing that it should not be doing at all. This latter part is with the idea that once extraneous work is eliminated, it will be easier to move the rest offshore.

India had been used, but the workers there were not predictable. I know this for a fact, that they were also having the unmitigated gall of demanding a salary of $3000 per year. Which would be a lucrative salary in that country. The instability, the riots over the death of a movie star or Richard Gere puckering up and laying a wet one on an Indian actress did nothing to make IBM feel like India was a new home. Enter Red China. Prisoners tend not to bitch about their salaries, and knowing about movie stars is not high on the priority. So good when IBM teams up with that model of enlightenment portrayed by Beijing.

All this is supposed to happen by the end of 2007, by the way, at which point IBM will also freeze its U.S. pension plan.

All of this is well under way. My wife is a “LEAN” manager, as well as filling the managerial shoes of six other positions, which have been eliminated. No longer are people being fired for incompetence and replaced, they are simply fired for made up reasons of incompetence, and not replaced. This has been IBM standard procedure for the last ten years, but the firings are wratching up.

The point of this has nothing to do with the work itself and everything to do with the price of IBM shares. Remove at least 100,000 heads, eliminate the long-term drag of a defined-benefit pension plan, and the price of IBM shares will soar. This is exactly the kind of story Wall Street loves to hear. Palmisano and his lieutenants will retire rich. And not long after that IBM’s business will crash for reasons I explain below.

This also seems to be part of the plan, to gut and strip the company while making the stock prices boom, and then bail out.

I am told there is a broad expectation at all levels of IBM familiar with the LEAN plan that it will cause huge problems for the company. Even the executives who support this campaign most strongly expect it to go down poorly with employees and customers, alike. But in the end they don’t care, which shows that only the reaction of Wall Street matters anymore.

So we can expect round after round of layoffs, muted a bit — as they were back in the Gerstner days — by some of those same people being hired back as consultants at 75 percent of their former pay (50 percent of their former cost to the company since they won’t be getting benefits). Throw in some overtime and it won’t look bad on paper for the people, but it is also very temporary.

I am married to a “manager” at IBM and can offer firsthand effects to the practices that “Big Blue” has been employing as the first step towards this “Lean and Mean” policy.

On her account she has sixteen agents, who cover a 24 hour period. When she started managing this account she had 22 agents for a project that required, and for which the client had been promised 32 full time agents. Needless to say the client has not been overly impressed with the performance of IBM in this account.

When my wife was an agent, she typically worked a regular 40 hour week, which on occassion would have some paid overtime sprinkled in. Of course when she went into management, there was an increase in her “desk” time as well as numerous occassions where she would have to go into the field to meet with the client, but typically she worked a 55 to 60 hour week for the few months. However, since IBM has started this “Lean and Mean” policy, her responsibilities are no longer to simply manage this account. She has also taken on five other administrative positions, which have been folded into this simple “Low level manager’s account”. Typically her work week is about 70 to 75 hours per week, and 90 hour work weeks are not at all uncommon, but come about once a month. She has not worked under 70 hours a week for the past year.
She has received for all of this extra work a raise of 4% as a PBC1 – which raised her total salary slightly over 42,000/yr, which is the highest rate available for an IBM low level manager. I have been alternately infuriated and dismayed as I have watched the shabby treatment that this once proud company dispenses upon its management, particularly those that they consider the most valued.
I have also candidly stated to her she should start looking elsewhere for employment, as this behavior by her company is nothing short of exploitation, and in reality is little more than white collar indentured servitude. Now that I learn the plans of IBM to do away with jobs, even though last year their corporation turned in profits that were rather significant, but did not meet the artificially inflated projection that had been set for them, I am torn between feelings of rage and impotence.

While I fully understand the purpose of a corporation is to make a profit for itself, and its shareholders, it is disheartening when a company of IBM’s stature and tradition treats its employees as vassals, while it plans upon making fewer employees do signficantly more as they shift American jobs to Communist China.

At some point one has to ask if the benefits that a company reaps from basing its business on the strength of the United States Economy, and the benefits it reaps from the infrastructure of these United States bestows upon it an inherent responsibility to act within ethical principals.

I am all for free markets. However the idea of these corporate entities sucking at the American tit of OUR tax dollars in tax breaks and other goodies, then giving the shaft to US workers, so they can outsource jobs to nations, which are our economic rivals, sort of sets me off. How about you?


May 4, 2007

The Debate: Who Won and Why?

You see the title; what is your answer. I will reply after I think.

Updated: Well I thought and I will now take out my teacher’s red pencil and give each a grade in no particular order.

Rep. Tom Tancredo – Looked frustrated at times. I think part of it is that his campaign is struggling for air, and the format hurt him as he tried desparately to get out his views and distinguish himself, particularly on immigration. I also think that people saw that frustration and it didn’t help. Grade D

Rep. Duncan Hunter – Was clear, concise, and strong in many of his answer. One area that may hurt him was he was the most aggressive on Iran, and to a country that is not at all happy with Iraq, showing this posturing towards another nation in the area, one that does make everyone nervous may hurt with many even among Hawks. His trade and pro-worker solutions were noteworthy. Grade B-

Mayor Rudy Giuiliani – He was strong on war on terror and framing himself in his model of Conservativism. The questions on abortion won’t help with the base, and will help him with those who are softer on pro-life/pro-choice. He stumbled on that area, but did make his case with his time as NYC Mayor. I still support him. Grade B-

Sen. John McCain – Anyone who said that he lacked vigor got the reply in spades, he was energetic, perhaps too much so, to the point of aggressiveness in tone and body language. He also really had a problem keeping to the time, and wasn’t held to the time limits strictly. He didn’t hurt himself, but I don’t think he helped himself too much. He came out fairly strongly against President Bush, with saying numerous times, “The war was mismanaged”. He seemed passionate and assertive, but perhaps too agressive. Grade C+

Gov. Mit Romney – Of all the candidates the former Bay State Governor stood out. I am not a big Romney fan, but if I had to declare an overall winner, it would be him. He was able to frame his “flip flop” on abortion, and gave a reason that was credible. He also was well versed on the issues and inviting. Grade A

Gov. Jim Gilmore – Did very well tonight too. He was able to state that he was the “consistent Conservative”. He also did well to elicit his positions. However, there are few moments that make him stand out, and he probably won’t see his coin rise. Grade B-

Gov. Tommy Thompson – Did very well on many areas, but there was one area that may hurt him, and that was the question about firing people due to their sexual practices. I also believe that there was a pause that would have allowed him to nuance his position, and his silence was pregnant. This will be picked up. I don’t know if this is a valid reason to terminate an employee in the private sector, other than religious organizations, such as a parochial school, which are exempt from such restrictions and understandably so. His Iraq solution is interesting and deserves a look. Grade B-

Sen. Sam Brownback – Made some good points tonight, and particularly in his stressing the need for the political process to have a more dominant role in the process. His stands on abortion will help only with those who don’t know him, as they are well known. He also held up his credos to the bases fondness of evangelical base. Overall he may have helped himself, but like so many in the second tier is so far behind. Grade B-

Rep. Ron Paul – Made his stand as the maverick in the field. He also came across as passionate, principled, and had a good wit. However, his views on foreign policy are going to hurt him in the end. As much as America may wish to go back to isolationism, that ship has sailed. He advocated himself well, but his views won’t hold. Hard to grade with this dynamic, but based on his performance, and not his substance B.

Gov. Mike Huckabee – He had some good moments, and probably the biggest yuck of the night with his joke concering “The Governator”. He came across as genuine but may have suffered from the format as his positions are hard to define from some of the others, and nuance of his stands may be lost in the shuffle. Grade B-

Overall big winner has to be Romney. He did very well, and being slotted first, by the draw helped him. I think the big loser was Tom Tancredo, and this is not a slight, but he seemed frustrated and this won’t give him much of a bump.

I think that the only shift will be Romney moving up, but the question is who will pay for this hike Giuliani – who probably won’t lose support, McCain or maybe the non-announced candidate, who will also miss South Carolina’s debate, Fred Thompson.

If I had to be like a reality show and only promote five I think these five will likely be in SC.

Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Rep. Hunter, and either Sen. Brownback or Gov. Huckabee.

Then again, I could be wrong.

May 3, 2007

Where You Stand Politically

So, you want to  know where you stand and how you can get that cool little icon like I have on my blog?

Well, just go to this site and take the quiz.  I would put no opinion if you are not sure about something.

Please post your results, and you get BIG TIME BONUS POINTS for reasonableness if you score Moderate, Conservative or Liberal!  I “hope” I have constructed a place where divergent views are allowed and where we gain from seeing each other’s perspective.  I also hope that sometimes someone will say, I see your point, or something like that.

So often politics are too personal, so maybe this would at least bring back agreeable discussion and dissent to the forefront.

I’m posting this on all topics to hopefully get maximum participation.

IF you wish to take the quiz it is here.


May 1, 2007

Time for Moral Courage For Congress and Bush Administration: Boycott Beijing Olympiad

It is time for the Bush Administration to stand on ethical ground and follow in one of the few steps that the Carter Administration took that was worthwhile; boycotting an Olympiad hosted by a nation committed by their policies to denegration of humanity.

While the Bush Administration used as part of their case to go to war with Iraq the “Moral Imperatives” of the suffering of the Iraqi people, it is notably hypocritical for them to go about with business as usual in their dealings with China.

Is China a major world figure which requires some degree of mutual cooperation, most certainly, however, there is a huge difference between political leverage with a nation of 1.3 billion, and allowing that same nation to put on a public relations blitz that will state how wonderful life in the PRC really is for all people. In 1980, President Carter had the moral courage to make a point, and it would be fitting for the current Administration to do the same.

While the efforts of the athletes is laudable, and their opportunity to perform against the best of the world is regrettable, consider the headlines from just the past week from that beacon of cruelty, China:

China Deported Five Americans Over their Protest of Tibetan Occupation

Since the invasion of Tibet in 1950, the once peaceful backwater, which is a holy land for Buddhists have suffered some of the worst abuses of human rights recorded in mankind’s history. At the present time the majority of females in Tibet are coerced by Chinese authorities to engage in a lifetime of state mandated prostitution. These girls, often as young as 12, are forced to satisfy the urges of military personnell and party leaders. This horrific practice is not the least of China’s abuses to a land they view as an inseparable part of China. Is a gold medal in synchronized swimming worth this?

A Massive String of Arrests of Chinese and American Christians Over the Past Few Weeks

Among the pastors who were arrested were four American pastors who were visiting these local ministers and offering them support. Of those arrested six are still being held, and it is believed they will be sentenced to 1 – 3 years re-education, which is code speak for making cheap goods to flood the US markets, remember who you buy from when you purchase items “made in China”. Like Judas loved his 30 pieces of silver, so America loves to save a buck, no matter who really paid the price. Is a gold medal in fencing worth the enslavement of these pastors for their crime of expression of Christianity?

61 Women Being Forced to Have Abortions

I have posted about this topic extensively, and have included an audio of the victims. Is the barbarous regime from Beijing deserving of a spectacle akin to ’36 in Berlin so that the US Soccer Team may try to defend their medal?

Tibetan Monk Tells of 13 Years of Torture

“We were handcuffed, then they would beat us with a rubber tube filled with sand,” he recalled. “On average we are continuously detained in solitude for about 28 days to a month at a time.”

He said the health of most of the prisoners deteriorated quickly as a direct result of the torture sessions and poor diet.

“There was no Tibetan prisoner who did not suffer from kidney disease,” Dorje said. “On a regular basis we were forced to sit on cold concrete floors. So the prisoners were weak and sickly.”

Dorje served a 13-year jail term from June 30, 1992 to June 30, 2005 after taking part in an April 1992 demonstration against Chinese rule in the Himalayan region.

“We were five monks when we protested in 1992. It was during a big meeting when we took Tibetan flags and shouted that Tibet is an independent country and that the Chinese should leave.”

“At that time we were immediately detained by local county police. During detention we were severely beaten and tortured,” he added.

He said the main reasons for the protests were the imposition of China’s one-child policy on Tibetans, severe harships faced by local Tibetan farmers due to Chinese policies, severe shortage of jobs under the pressure influx of Han Chinese into the region, and implementation of patriotic reeducation campaigns in the region’s monasteries.

However, a new “Dream Team” vying for Olympic Gold will make this of little consequence.

A culture is defined by what it holds in value. What does America value is really the question that planned participation in these athletic events, hosted by enemies of mankind who certainly rival Sadaam, will be answered much louder than some may like to hear.

April 23, 2007

The Voices of Chinese Victims

I heard this on NPR Morning Drive.

The victims of China’s forced abortion policy spoke out, and I found this audio clip on NPR’s site.

Reports have been stated that China has been stepping a bit away from the 1 live birth plan, but the dirty little secret is that has been reserved for Party faithful and families of their industrialists.  This is nothing more than window dressing to fool the West, which are glad to have markets for products and access to Chinese slave labor products that flood US markets.  It is also a ruse so China can host the Olympics in ’08.  Don’t believe the hype.

Typically, this law is enforced, and particularly when it concerns Christians and Buddhists (mostly in Tibet).   I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the Beijing Regime whether under Mao and the Cultural Revolution or today dressed up with some trappings of capitalism is by far the most vicious and pernicious government in the long and often sorry history of mankind.  They make Stalinist Russia and The Third Reich look like rotary clubs by comparison, and our Congress and Executive branch hold out arms open wide to deal with this despotic blight upon humanity.  Shame on the leadership of the US.  Shame on the UN for kowtowing to this group of miscreants.

I understand that China has a right to their own internal policies inside their own borders, so did Stalin and Hitler, South Africa and Rhodesia.  However, “respect” of their “internal policies”  doesn’t mean that the US needs to give most favored trade status with these thugs, and at a disadvantage to our own people.  It doesn’t mean that US companies need to flood our market, which hurt our own industries with the products of their slave labor.  Consider that when you buy “Made in China”.  Yet NONE of the major candidates running for President dare to bring up this issue?  Why?  Is it to pay homage to the Beijing thugs, or is it to pay homage to the greed of corporations that deal and profit from China’s policies of slave labor?  In the  end citizens of a democracy are accountable for the policies of their nation.  So, at least now you can say you were told.  The question is do you really care?

Please listen to the tape.

April 22, 2007

China Forces 61 Christian Women To Abortion

From Chinaview: Commentary will be limited on this. Some things are just too heinous to inject sanity, satire, debate or much else.

61 Christian Women Forced to Have Abortions in China
According to China Aid Association (CAA), a massive forced abortion campaign is ongoing in China’s Guangxi Province targeting Christian pregnant women. It’s reported that 61 Christian women were forced to have abortions in 2 days on April 17 and 18. Here’s China Aid Association’s reports.

41 Forced on April 17

Midland, Texas (April 17, 2007)- CAA has learned that a massive forced abortion campaign is ongoing in China’s Guangxi Province(Autonomous Region).

One Christian lady, Ms. Linrong Wei, 7 months pregnent, was dragged into the hospital from her home on April 17 at 8:45 AM (Beijing time) by 10 officials from the Population and Family Planning Commsssion in Baise City, Guangxi. Her husband Yage “James” Liang was formerly a pastor in the government-sanctioned TSPM church before he became a House church pastor a year ago.

According to eyewitnesses’ reports to CAA, 40 other preganant women was forcefully moved to the Youjiang District People’s Hospital of Baise City on the same day to perform forced abortion.

Eyewitnesses told CAA that pastor Liang’s wife was pregenant accidentally and they wanted to keep this baby because of Christian principles. Ms. Wei was injected with medicine to induce birth at 11 AM on April 17. Ms. Wei’s hospital bed number is No. 39.

Eyewitnesses report that another woman, 9 months preganent, on bed number 38 was also injected at 12 PM.

One Church leader in that area who has visited Ms. Wei told CAA that these so-called ‘illegal pregnant women” were treated so bad that they were just forced to lay down on the very simple beds in the hospital corridor before the injections were done.

The family planning officials told relatives of the women that their babies will be born and most likely die within 24 hours.

2o Christian Women Forced to Have Abortions on April 18

Midland, Texas (April 18, 2007)- The Massive forced abortion campaign continues in Guangxi province. After 41 women were forced to have abortions on April 17, CAA has learned that the Youjiang District People’s Hospital of Baise City performed forced abortions for at least 20 more pregnant women on April 18.

Eyewitnesses report to CAA that at around 5:00pm on April 18, more than 20 more pregnant women were transported into the same hospital by the Family Planning officials. Within 30 minutes, about 10 of them were injected forcefully for an abortion.

This means within last 24 hours, at least 61 babies were killed with forced abortions.

At Bed number 37, Ms. He Caigan was 9 months pregnant. Officials injected her baby’s head and 20 minutes later, her baby stopped moving and died.

About 6am on April 18(BJ time), pastor James Liang’s wife Ms Wei Linrong gave birth to a boy, but he was dead because of the injection. She received three doses of injection-one is to induce the birth and the other two to kill the baby in the womb.

After China Aid reported the forced abortion, many PSB were seen surrounding the section of the hospital where these women are held.

What can be said to such barbarous acts. Remember what you support when you save a couple of bucks to buy Chinese goods. Please pass this post around, while I have no doubt that the commercial interests our nation has with China will preclude Congress from any action, even a whisper of this on the House or Senate floor, perhaps awareness could be raised. I am posting this on all political tags, and who knows, maybe a candidate will have the guts to mention this horrific practice and make this an issue.

April 13, 2007

Russia and Guatamala Join China on Adoption Scams, OOPS, Bans

I’m not an expert on adoption, but when something smells like crap and has maggots all over it, I know that there is a garbage heap around. Guess what friends, adoption policies reek pretty badly right now.

Well, two gret peoples, the Chinese – who are models of humanity and the enligtenment of the spirit of man – just ask any Tibetan, and the Russians – who seem to miss the good ole’ days of Stalin – and if you think I’m kidding you should read their news – have been joined by a third, that country of forwardness, Guatamala, in making adoptions of the children that were until about 24 hours ago about as special to them, as the $4.95 Blue Plate Special at La Greasy Spoon’s Diner is to the editor of Gourmet Magazine. Now, here’s the question class, Guess which three countries were the top three in popularity with those in the United States for adoptions; you got it, China, Russia, and Guatamala.

China has put some rather strict restrictions for adopting children from their country. Before I go much further, I will risk the ire of Adoptees, Parents who wish to adopt and the political machine that is funded by adoption agencies, and state at the very start, I “know” that adoption means many things to many people, but is run by some of the most corrupt agencies, with the most obscene practices to procure children – yeah, I said procure – and then bid them off to the highest bidder. Banking on the despair that many adults feel from either a sense of unfulfillment due to not being able to have a child, or the laudable concern which makes adults jump through the hoops of these corrupt governmental agencies at home and abroad, and the equally corrupt for profit business that adoption has become.

China has numerous children that need to be adopted, particularly female children. In part due to the draconian policies set forth by their 0 growth mandate. One could argue, and probably correctly, that allowing these children to be born is better than the forced abortions which take place daily, many by placing an injection of fermaldehyde in the brain of the newborn as it passes through the birth canal. In light of China’s barbaric treatment of these unwanted pregnancies, and with the equal disregard to civil liberties, particularly in Tibet, they typically portray, it is hard to understand some of the requirements that were put into play concerning adoption. Some of them are understandable, but the age issue of any parent being over 50 is a bit of a stretch, considering the average life expectancy in America is 75 for males and 78 for females. Of course gay couples can’t adopt, but don’t feel bad, the overweight, and even those with facial scars can be eliminated from the pool. Besides, what do you expect from a government that has made the repression of its own people, and many of their new people – former sovereign states, about as fine an art as the sad history of man has known.

Russia’s entry into this foray is puzzling, particularly when one considers the extreme duress that children who are adopted from this lovely corner of the world encounter due to the typical lack of basic care, the high degree of unreported serious medical deficiencies of these children, and the high amount of these children who demonstrate the most severe disassociative disorders of all adopted children, and make no mistake, through NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN, adopted children go through hell on earth in many instances. Another disturbing trend in Russia is the growing number of black market mothers who are being systematically raped and then having the offspring shipped off to couples in the US with few questions asked, and a large amount of dollars passing hands. The fact remains, that couples in the US will do almost anything for any baby, and many seemingly will do quite a bit more for a “white” baby, regardless of how many questions don’t need to be asked. This is not to blame the prospective parents, unless they are doing something unethical, as their hurt and need are the fuel to corrupt fire that burns so brightly. Russia, must be trying to compete with China, darned, they’re so competitive with each other, in winning the bad boys of history award. Hey, you have to be good at something, so if repression doesn’t work out for the #1 spot, why not repression with policy corruption thrown in. It’s sure to be a winner!

Guatamala, one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, has seen a bumper crop of adopted children, and yes, again the metaphor was purposeful, head to the US in recent years. And when a couple in the US holds that bundle of joy, they should remember that:

About 4,700 Guatemalans, mostly babies 1 year old or younger, were adopted by U.S. families last year — compared to about 3,800 in 2005.

Critics say the process is fraught with anomalies. Among them: some cases of birth mothers being pressured to give up their babies for cash; growing numbers of falsified birth certificates; reports of outright baby thefts; and even deaths from lack of care while children were in private orphanages awaiting adoption.

Opponents also complain that there is little judicial oversight and that lawyers known as ”notaries,” acting as baby brokers, charge up to $30,000 per child.

So, some change was coming, and probably is overdue. It would be good if Guatamala followed international guidelines promoted by International organizations such as The Hague, as President Bush pointed out in his recent visit to this poverty stricken country. However, this is a cash industry, to a nation that is desparately poor, and its clients are equally as desparate. Do you think that the brokers involved don’t know this? Of course not, they are the reincarnation of Mother Theresa. Sorry, not all of us fell off the watermelon truck.

Not to be outdone by the despots, crooks and other bottom feeders of the world, the adoption many of the adoption agencies here in the “Good Ole USA” put their own odor to this pile of wreaking trash. This is typified by the coercion which is typically applied to young mothers or expectant mothers in the US. To my knowledge, abortion and adoption are the only contracts that a minor can enter into without the consent of the parent. Something is diabollically wrong with both of these matters, as they are concerning one of the most primal rights of a human being, the right to reproduce. This is not a polemic against abortion or adoption, but do you think that a 16 year old girl in either of the situations who feels forced into one of these Sophie’s choices needs to have the guidance of an adult that loves her? For one minute, I will not believe that the vast majority of adoption agents – that can typically secure over $35,000 for a white American born child have the “best interests of the mother or child in mind” when they offer “counselling” often without parental notification. Their hands are covered in dirt and they also reek of garbage. The practices used are coercive at the least, and criminal at the worst. Yet, the same thing goes on daily. Abortions for girls under the age of 18 multiply to the tune of nearly 4,000,000 in the same time span that has seen slightly over 3,000 servicemen die in the Middle East. I’m not saying the two are equivalent – as I don’t believe an embryo is a human being – I just love pissing off the left and the right – but I will say that someone is profitting, and it’s not the kids by the abortion industry. The same charge can be levied to the self proclaimed saints of the adoption industry. This is a big business worth well over 1.4 Billion dollars a year. That’s Billion with a B, and not to sound like Professor Harold Hill but B is the first letter in Bull****.

Meanwhile, red tape and having 50 states having their own rules, indeed many states have various rules by county, keeps young children who are American by birth unable to be adopted. Again, I don’t feel adoption is a panacae, and trust me, I know this to be the truth, but one step to simplify the process would be to have consistent rules, and probably the one agency with enough clout to make it stick are the Feds, but those who know me, know that I’m an odd type of Republican in that I don’t knee-jerk and say Government is the problem. In some areas, where the private sector, and foreign governments are about as ethically pure as Ted Haggert playing a visit to a local massage parlor, it may be time for an agency without economic interest to end the madness.

Hopefully someone will read this post, and even offer a comment of rage or even better voice agreement. It’s time for some sanity in this most feckless and the chattel world of human trafficking, err, adoption.

April 2, 2007

Made in China – Remember What Your Dollar Does

Okay, this one may not be reasonable. If you are concerned with saving a dollar here or there, you will think that at least. However, if you value human rights, you will see this as being reasonable. One of the countries that I follow is China, and it is for many reasons. Although I do understand they have many problems, and have made some strides, these strides are in many ways a cover story to still do the same old thing, but put a different face on it.

Remember Chinese Policy:

Chairman Mao Zedong declared the Peoples Republic of China in 1949 and quickly sought to purge society of anything religious, causing China’s people to endure great hardship ever since. Mao’s Great Leap Forward in the late ‘50s and the Cultural Revolution in the ‘60s and ‘70s left millions of his countrymen dead or victimized. Today, with its policies of forced abortion and sterilization, China’s human rights record is one of the worst in the world. Authorities reportedly sell the organs of executed prisoners to meet the demand for transplants. Its system of “re-education through labor” detains hundreds of thousands each year in work camps without even a court hearing. China’s “strike-hard” policy, presented as a crackdown on criminals, is hardest on Christians, putting more believers in prison or under detention than in any other country. The confiscation of church property and Bibles continues—even Bibles officially printed by the government. Yet the Church grows: an estimated 3,000 Chinese come to Christ each day. China’s house church movement, which comprises approximately 90 percent of China’s Christians, endures unimaginable persecution.

Just one Case:

On December 22, 2006, Pastor Wang Weiliang and seven other church leaders were sentenced from one year to three and one-half years in prison by the People‘s Court of Xiaoshan District, China. Four are in prison, four received suspended sentences. In prison, the men are forced to make clothing and shoes for export and prohibited from praying openly or reading the Bible. These leaders were arrested after thousands of PSB officers bulldozed their church building on July 29, 2006.

Remember that when you buy Chinese products, they are typically made by prisoners, many of them political prisoners. A good number of these are imprisoned for their faith. Save the $1. It’s the American way.

Some more information:

For 20 years, the only national Christian publication in China has been “Tian Feng” (Heavenly Wind) published by the government-controlled Three Self Patriotic Movement and the China Christian Council. It is issued monthly and dutifully reflects the Communist Party policy on religion while studiously ignoring all reports of persecution. Yet over the past year, Chinese house church Christians have produced three issues of their new magazine, “The Way” (Daolu). Twenty thousand copies of each issue have been distributed free across China to house church leaders. Production and distribution are clandestine in view of the government’s ban on unregistered house church activities and all religious literature that has not been published under Three Self auspices. “The Way” promises to be an authentic voice of the church in China.

More about the “Enlightened New China:

The Chinese government has an ongoing, systematic campaign to expose and destroy unregistered Protestant churches in Hebei Province. The directive—the first one of its kind ever seen by the public–is a work plan order from the Public Security Bureau of Baoding to PSB sub-bureaus in all counties, cities and districts of Hebei Province. It instructs the bureaus to terminate “illegal Protestant activities.” The document describes the work plan as an effort to “embrace and create a sound and secure social environment in a concerted citywide action of the Communist Party Committee and the government in advance of the Communist Party’s 16th National Party Congress which was held last November. The plan was to crack down against illegal Protestant activities from August 20th to October 20th, 2002. The directive—dated August 20th, 2002—details the effort to “establish a secret force” to infiltrate unregistered church groups to gather in-depth intelligence against illegal Protestant church activities. Bureaus were directed to “set up full files; recognize influential people and illegal meeting places.” They received further instructions to clearly identify legal and illegal church activities in order to take action against those “which are organized by freelance missionaries, which are overseas infiltration; and prepare to terminate them.” One section of the work plan details the establishment of a government task force created to send supervisors to Public Security Bureaus in all counties, cities and districts to assure the implementation of compulsory measures against the Christians such as “subpoena penalty, ordered confessions” and “detention.” Bureaus are instructed to confiscate “illegal publicizing” materials used for evangelism and are told that “stubborn members,” believers refusing to “voluntarily obey regulations of the government” should be “severely punished.”

This directive is a smoking gun.

I urge all of you to contact your legislator and the USOC and IOC to protest US and other Western Democracies participation in the sham of the Olympics – which should symbolize the best of mankind – being celebrated in the viper pit of Beijing. I would urge you to contact your legislator to insist that US policy consider China’s horrific record of human rights abuse, not just towards Christians but to all people of faith, and any who would protest against the totalitiarian regime of Beijing.

Or, you can save a few bucks and buy products very probably made by those who are persecuted for the liberties that we in Western civilization see as what makes us human. If you do so, as St. Peter said, “You and your money can both go to hell. ”

As many of you know this blog has a mixe political ideology, takes issue with some of the uber-religious right in America, and can be a bit to the right or left on many views.  However, I would hope that all of us value the basic premise that makes life as a human worht living, a degree of liberty.  This is an issue that trancends political affiliation, religious beliefs, and even reason. This issue touches at the soul of mankind and it’s called ethics.

March 29, 2007

A Momentary Lapse of Reason: In Praise of Isolationism

I’m not sure if this should be categorized under the “Momentary Lapse of Reason” section, but we’ll see.

I have a new vision of America – not of one spreading democracy throughout the world – not of one that gives a rat’s rearend about the problems of Darfour, Baghdad, Rwanda, Somalia or anywhere else outside the Western Hemisphere.

To those in Europe who are having problems with Jihadism creeping into their borders, well it’s your problem, not ours. UK, it’s been a good relationship. Ever since that War of Independence and War of 1812 thing, you’ve been about our best friends, but all things must end. France, thanks for the help in the Revolution and for the statue. We’ve paid it back in spades two times. So, you can take your superior attitude, cuisine – we got most of your good recipes now – and your wine since what we grow is as good, and everything else you possess, including your sanctimonious attitude and be left alone. You won’t have us to kick around anymore, or to bail you out when your friendly German neighbors start acting – well – German. Russia, hey, it’s been nice to be all pal like with you, but in honesty, it was a bit less complicated, albeit scarier when we didn’t like you. Historically, you’re a a backwards people, hate to break the news to you, have always been a backwards people, and other than your vodka, and well 0kay, some of your women are babes – we won’t miss dealing with you that much. You and China can duke it out if you wish. So, Europe, here’s the new US foreign policy to you, F*** you.

To Africa – we’re truly sorry about the spread of the AIDS virus, and what it is doing to your continent, but alas, you are also on your own. No, we’re not going to be moved by some video from a cable news show depicting how bad life is for you all down there. Honestly, we don’t care. We have our own crap to deal with, and a lot of money that we’re spending on your health care issues, we could be spending on our own people, and developing our own cures, which we’ll keep to ourselves. We really don’t need anymore people selling ripoffs of $10000 handbags in Times Square, so stop queing up to come on in. We don’t need you, and we don’t feel sorry for you. So, Africa, and we’ll send this in a special delivery memo to our buddy in the UN Koffi; this is the new US policy to Africa, F*** You.

Asia – China you’re doing great, and we’re going to cede you economic domination of this region. It’s really what you wanted. Taiwan, Korea, F*** You. Sorry that you have about 1.4 billion people with a government that has a slightly negative attitude about your existence, but you see, it’s really not our problem. Hey, we’ve propped up your economies long enough, and we can use good ole US ingenuity to make the stuff you make and figure out a way to make it cheap while providing labor with a decent age. One word of advice, you have the nukes, use em. India – we may make an exception for you if you send us a LOT of your women, because, Indian woman are just plain sexy, and well American women are a bit too complicated now that the ERA may pass again, so how about we make an exception just for you, that in exhcange for one million women – aged 18 to 25 – we keep sending you cheap laptops so your kids can run our kids into the educational dirt in say the next 20 to 30 years. Deal? Good! Oh, and if you can’t read between the lines, this is our message to you who live in Asia, F*** You.

To that wonderful region known as the Middle East – Thanks for the oil, we’ll figure out a way to fuel our own cars and heat our own homes, but you’re all on your own, including Israel. Nothing personal, but your problems, are just that, your problems. Iran, you got away with it with us in 79, and you know what, you win. Hell, do what you want to do in your region. Of course Israel will make sure that mushroom clouds are appearing in the suburbs of Tehran, sooner or later, Hey, once you are almost annhilated as a race not once, but twice if you count the Diaspora, you get a little touchy about those who question your right to exist. However, for now, you are the boss man of da’ Middle East. Because another big F you goes to Iraq. We’re really sorry about all the confusion we caused when we removed Big Daddy Sadaam from you, but we have no doubt that once we pull out the stakes from our pup tents, you’ll manage to find an even worse SOB (maybe SOC for camel would be a better term) to make your wonderfully enlightened and peace loving population have a new boot permanently implanted about your neck. To the Kurds, well, sometimes life just plain sucks, so you’re on your own, and best of luck to you, honest. Which brings us to Israel. We respect you, and we wish you well and good luck. You’re gonna need it, but we’re sorry, cause no more Uncle Samuel to be a big cop lurking in the background. Think of the bright side, God is on your side. So, good night good luck and God bless. Mazeltov! So Middle East, we unveil our new foreign policy towards you, it is a new salute, middle finger approriately raised aloft, as we say in unity, F*** You.

Which now brings us to our own little hemisphere. Canada, our friendly neighbor to the North. You really are kind of like a cousin, one that you like, but think is kind of strange, yeah , we know you feel the same. Well, we’re going to have a BIG job for us to work on cooperatively. It’s called a wall. You see, we really don’t need you, and like relatives, you kind of piss us off, and that wears thin on the relationship. It’s nice to see you around the holidays in short doses. So, a nice big wall will do nicely, and we’ll have the Alaskan version to work on to. Your sanctimonious attitude towards our health care program, or lack of one, will be fixed. We’re gonna be saving a lot of money by not dabbling in other people’s business, and besides, your hockey teams are usually better than ours, so you can have the CHL and we’ll have the AHL. We’ll still send you Christmas cards, okay.

Mexico, yes we know you like us so much you are just pouring in. Sadly, the southern version of the 21st Century Great Wall will keep you on your side and us on our side. We don’t need your goods to fill our dollar stores, because we deported all the illegals from the Middle East that own them. Come to think of it, paying $2.99 for a box of Fruit Loops while it is more expensive than paying $1 for Juan’s Fruity Luepos is a small price to compensate for the megabucks we end up spending on those who scamper across our borders everyday. So, hosta la vista, and we “are” truly sorry for that Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California controversy, but be big about it and let bygones be bygones, and oh, F*** you.

Of course this is all silly. I mean what would our idiots on parade have to protest about. Oh, it would be about the calloused lack of sympathy of the evil and greedy Americans, who “care so little about the rest of the world” (you must pronounce your “L” and “R’s” as “W’s” there, not that the idiots like “W” that much, but it does sound so much like the Elmer Fudd babel they typically produce). Well, don’t worry idiots, we’re going to send you to the country you protested in favor for the most. So, if you wanted to cry (please  remember the “W” rule, it’s still in effect) for the poor Mexicans, don’t feel too bad, say “hola” to your new home. Now, just fill in the blank for the bastion of decency you wish to emigrate to. You’ll be happy, we’ll certainly be happy, and I”m sure your new neighbors will just adore you. And, Oh, we didn’t want to leave you, of all people out, so, F*** you.

Of course this new isolationisms policy of F*** you will also apply to our new domestic policy. We do like to be consistent.

So, if you are in the middle of Cowdung Arkansas and need a billion here or there for some soybean hybrid experiment, F*** you.

If you are applying for “artistic grant money” so you can put an American flag, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and The Constitution and cover it with smearings of dung from some crack heads and heroin junkies who suffer the opression of a cruel system and thus offer their valid protest. Your grant will be returned with this on the heading: F*** You.

To those who want some extra money spend on Social Security so Grandma can have both her medicine and her grocery bags filled with the finest cat and dog food, well…. F*** You.

Ahh, this is just the start of it. Wouldn’t Isolationism be grand?

I guess this was a momentary lapse of reason.

March 14, 2007

America’s Role Towards the Nations

Extra Credit Assignment: Read the Assigned Article and Compare to other articles you have read.  Then, write a persuasive essay outlining: “What Role Should the United States Government Take In the Affairs of Other Nations” 

This appeared on the blackboard today for my middle school students.  This was not for Social Studies, although it is the subject I teach most of the day.  It was for Language Arts.  You see I don’t make a divide between most subjects, and they all tend to blend in to the other.  Remember, I am a Constructivist as a teacher.  Another thing that I know is that you teach who you are.  I have an interest in government, foreign policy, and am probably much like you with regard to my feelings about the appropriate role that the US should play in formation of policy.  I love working with teens, and when I have been asked on interviews, I am in transition from teaching to principalship, about my philosophy, my first statement is to develop knowledge and a sense of civic responsibility in students to build in them the capability of being informed active citizens within a democratic Republic.  My kids know it too.  Many of our days are spent analyzing and opining about various situations in our nation and the world.  It’s hard not to reveal my own political bent, as so much of me would want to frame them, but I realize that the discussion and their own perspectives will create in them a more genuine base of knowledge as they arrived there themselves.

Our class-think sessions are usually high spirited.  There is nothing like the infectious idealism of young teens with regard to perceived social injustices.  If the issue is animal adoption, they all want to “bring love to their home”.  If it is the plight of kids from Katrina, they want to organize and send goods to a charitable organization.  If the issue is the endangerment of a rare animal, they intuitively respond with empathy and understanding that the extinction of a unique member of planet is something that concerns them.  Parts of our weekly reading assignments are articles which focus on children their age in faraway places.  Often these articles have a bent, and it is a slight leaning towards the left side, and typically focuses on the difficulty faced by a particular group of people in a part of the world they may not be familiar with.  Over the past month my students have been introduced to young Chinese, Peruvians, and Kenyans all undergoing the transitions of their culture within a context of a world changing rapidly about them.  We also focus on the realities of the world.  How by the luck of the draw, they were born into arguably the wealthiest nation in political, economic and spiritual terms.  They also do understand that they didn’t choose where they were born.  It was a combination of the thousands of unions which have occurred through history, which all had to occur when they did and the end result is they.  I think that this has given them an understanding of their unique position in history.  To my female students I often address them with my “Your Sister’s Speech”.  While we may not all agree on the glass ceiling facing females, issues which may or may not impair women’s role in society, the women of this generation in this nation enjoy a place in history never imagined by their forebears.  My challenge to these young women is to remember that they represent in many ways the hopes of all their ancestors, and they are accountable to them.  I find that most of the young ladies are listening intently during this pep talk.

I look forward to hearing the voices of my learners.  I hope that they are a bit muddled, and a bit unclear, not knowing where they should turn.  This is together an appropriate outcome, that they not be sure how they stand on this issue.  That is simply because there is truth to both sides of any thesis they can form.  At times, and through raising certain points, there has been created a group of Isolationists that want to build a wall 20′ high around the nation, and not let a soul or voice in our out.  The “Minuteman” part of me likes that.  At other times our class discussions resemble that of the wildest fantasies of the Peace Corps wrapped around a Neo-Conservative agenda of
America the agent of democratization of the world.  The Bobby Kennedy/George W. Bush, and if you get what I am saying, you truly get it, part of me likes that part.

Dante wrote, “In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself in a dark wood, where the straight way was lost.”  Children get that statement, and so do rational adults when they realize that there are no easy answers to complex problems.  That we as human beings are torn between conflicting ideas of truth and justice, and what is truly the American way. 

When I contemplate that close to one million human beings died in the most awful of ways in Rwanda little more than a decade ago, close to 10% of that population, and the United States, the most powerful nation in the world could have stopped it by sending a brigade of soldiers to keep the peace, I am forced to ask myself “WHY”.  Yet, when I hear or see a family torn apart by the reality of the death of a son, a husband, a father, a brother for a place in the world where our efforts may not be fully appreciated, I at times shake my head and say to that individual tragedy, “WHY”.   I am still going to be a good teacher, and not tell you fully how I feel, however, I have often said to my students that if they think about it, if they know who I am, they will know my answer.  It won’t be due to anything I have said, or by subtly trying to brainwash my students, which I would find one of the worst thing a teacher could do towards the taught.  However, the manner in which I deal with them, others and the way I approach their concerns let them know me very well.  I work on a team with other colleagues, and every year we give an elective class in literature, and never tell who is teaching which book.  More than once, a student has said to me, I knew you would be teaching this book, it’s you.  I wonder how many knew and picked the other book! 

However, you may feel about this and about other issues can’t be taken away from who you are at your deepest self.   This question can also be changed to any other responses.  What is America’s role towards those worst effected by poverty, by those who suffer the ravages of no hope, due not so much for their own actions or lack of actions, but because they happened to be born, poor, in a country ravaged by famine, in the ghettos of America, in the wake of a family tragedy.  Conflicting emotions all add up to the straight way being lost, and if some well meaning person says that faith is the answer, tell that to someone who has lost a child due to an infection where any of us would go to a doctor, likely pay a $20 co-payment, and be well the next day.  Trite expressions in the face of reality are meaningless and insult the context from where they came.

How you answer your homework will tell you a great deal about yourself.  However, you are not allowed to make overuse of authoritative quotes.   As I would tell my students, any thought worth having comes from within your own head.  I promise I will mark on a curve. 

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