The Death of a Salesman

Michael Jackson is dead--not soon enough. Not before he used his money and fame to hurt unknown numbers of children.

In the midst of the adulation surrounding his death, there seems to be little talk of what this man did between his scarce, mediocre recordings. As The Smoking Gun has detailed, Jackson was a textbook molester, using power, intimidation, and psychological manipulation to sexually violate his victims.
There can be no factual doubt that Jackson was a child molester. Identification of markings on his body by the 1993 victim would only have been visible if the then-13 year-old had seen Jackson nude at close proximity. Items recovered from a "secret room" at Neverland Ranch further connected Jackson with his 2003 victim. In the first instance, Jackson purchased the silence of his victim; in the second, Jackson's purchased enough legal ammunition to distort justice. The deposition of the 1993 victim, as he detailed how Jackson manipulated him into ever-increasing sexual contact through shame and guilt makes harrowing reading.
Fans protested then and now that Jackson's behavior was offset by the inspiration of his music and his dancing. Nonsense. This is like saying Hitler's crimes are ameliorated by the fact that he painted a few pretty watercolors. Jackson's music was trite pop; no Tcshaikovsky he. What about his dancing--did it rise to the discipline and art of Baryshnikov? Even if one accepts the premise that some artistic achievement can offset the crime of hurting children, then Jackson's schtick hardly qualifies.
Jackson is gone. I fear that in the distance of memory, people will come to regard him higher than he deserves. Already he has been hailed as someone who healed the racial divide in America. Some may forget the monster that lurked behind the self-mutilated face. One thing is sure--he victims will never forget the horror.

Tweeting the Revolution

"Today, there is a social media revolution in Iran, whereby Twitter, Facebook and similar sites are serving as the vehicles by which those who reject the apparent election coup are assembling and disseminating valuable information in real time." --the New York Times

Historians note that the recent events in Iran are not the first time that social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have played a part in major world revolutions.

Philadelphia, 1776.
GeorgeWashto69: Lol, their totally going 2 sign.
JimMad14: Sing?
GeorgeWashto69: sign some Dec of Indentpence. 2 booring to 2 read
LexHam: @Jim, dude, ware R u? we're signnng the Declaration now. get yer ass in here.
FrankBen29: Yo dogz, were U all be at? were dun signing
JimMad14: lol, missd it
GeorgeWashto69: wutz it say?
LexHam: dude, we were so stoned when we wrote it
FrankBen29: total 4:20

St. Petersburg, 1917
VladLen: lol@JoseStalin! dat tsarina skank is a total ho
HotToTrotsky8: i'd tap dat ass
JoseStalin: i kno
VladLen: bitter cold Russian winter make nip hard
JoseStalin: headlights
HotToTrotsky8: what is hedlight?
JoseStalin: lol@Trot. what R U, a peasant serf?
VladLen: lol@Trot, dude seriously, U need to get out more. Y dunt u come to Petrograd & hang wid us?
HotToTrotsky8: I dunno. I iz chillin were i iz at
JoseStalin: dude, totally come hang wid us.
HotToTrosky8: iz der anything 2 do thare?
VladLen: you know, fight the Tsar. foment demagoguery. seize means of production.
JoseStalin: totally easy to get the proletariat pissed off.
HotToTrotsky8: I dunno. Maybe I'll get a chance to come that way around November.

The Power of One

Twenty years ago today, in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre, one anonymous man stood in a street, alone and unarmed, before a column of approaching tanks. We don't know what he had witnessed in the previous day, when the student-led, pro-democracy revolution taking place in Tiananmen was put down by indiscriminate machine gun fire into crowds and the use of tanks as steamrollers to crush people. Almost certainly the man had seen tanks rolling full speed into the crowds of protestors.

And yet, he chose to make a stand in the street, utterly alone.
Some historians, especially those influenced by Marx, posit that individuals do not much matter to the progress of history. We are told that if Hitler had not risen to power, then some other radical would have exploited the post-war chaos of Germany in the same way. And had Churchill not marshaled Britain to stay in the war during the darkest days, then some other politician would have. This Marxist view of history is, of course, speculative and cannot be disproven--a fact which hardly supports its thesis. The Marxist Chinese authorities must have philosophically assumed that an individual could not make a revolution. 
But those who understand the deeper flow of history know that individuals do matter. It mattered that Churchill and Hitler, as persons, engaged each other rather than other players. Almost any other politician would have settled with Hitler rather than continue what seemed like a hopeless war; almost any other tyrant would have had the sense of self-preservation not to invade Russia with the western front still unsettled. Individuals, it turns out, matter more than the masses.
It mattered that this unknown man found the suicidal courage to halt a column of tanks. For when revolution eventually comes to the tyrants who still rule China, as it inevitably must, then I think this man will stand again as the symbol of the democratic hope that was tragically crushed on that day twenty years ago. 
We have the Statue of Liberty. China will have one man before a tank.

Obama's health care planning

According to the New York Times

"President Obama said Wednesday that he was receptive to Congressional proposals that would require Americans to have health insurance and oblige employers to share in the cost. But he said there should be exemptions for people who cannot afford insurance and for small businesses in general.

Despite the panoply of problems facing the new president, he has rightly decreed that health care must, because of its tremendous costs to businesses and productivity, not be deferred while other, seemingly-more urgent problems are addressed. This is the correct, long-term thinking that we need.

However, as the quote above reveals, President Obama may be willing to settle for something less than a true fix for the health care crisis. Such a half-measure at this time would be a tragic decision.

Our health care system is deeply broken. The majority of Americans favor a nationalized, single-payer system. The benefits of such a system, to both individuals, families, and businesses, are manifest and undeniable. To enact something less than full, universal, simplified health care would squander this unique moment in American history where, for the first time since Truman, Americans seem ready to join the rest of the civilized world in terms of caring for its citizens.

"Requiring" individuals who are uninsured to purchase insurance is the wrong approach. This will be a crushing burden on the young, the unmarried, and those just starting out in life. Imagine barely scraping by, barely paying the bills, then suddenly being saddled with a new monthly premium bill in the range, depending on one's health, of $500-$700. Few uninsured individuals will be able to make an adjustment of that magnitude. Under this plan, however, those who cannot afford this new bill will be outlaws and subject to punishment. This is no way to reform health care. 

Allowing exemptions for small businesses and  those who cannot afford coverage is essentially no change from the present problem. Right now everyone is technically free to buy insurance; in reality, pre-existing conditions and high premiums are an insurmountable barrier for many.

The burden of premiums is particularly harsh on small businesses. The majority of jobs in America, and what will be the majority of new jobs if/when an economic recovery occurs, will be in small businesses. So rather than simply sweeping small businesses and individuals under the rug, these are the primary issues of health care reform.

If the president allows these groups to fall through the cracks of health care reform, if "reform" somehow bypasses the very groups it most needs to address, then this hollow health care fix will be a lasting shame to the Obama legacy.

America needs and wants not simply a larger bandaid, but radical surgery to extract the cancer that is rotting our economy.


Copyright 2006| Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.