Archive for the 'human rights' Category


Michael Vick and the Amish: If we don’t forgive?

The news that Michael Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles left me feeling bemused and more than a bit conflicted.  Clearly, Vick was punished for his crime, that can’t be debate. Michael Vick lost millions, his reputation, a chunk of his pro football career and served 18 months in prison.  So in terms of payback to society one could argue Michael Vick paid his debt and I was close to forgiveness.

But then one of the ESPN commentators on the radio flamed the fires of revenge for me.  We were reminded that this wasn’t just a matter of fighting dogs that were tortured and killed, as though somehow they deserved that horrific fate but we were reminded of the cruelties to everyday family pets.  You know pets, those trusted loyal companions that functions as friend, family and companion.  We were reminded that small fuzzy, defenseless dogs were thrown into the pits to be killed as a sort of sick warm up for the main dog fighting event.  In fact, Vick had no qualms about sacrificing and killing his own family pets. As a dog and animal lover I find the behavior reprehensible and a form of betrayal belonging to a lower form of life, definitely bordering on the sub-human.  How could any sentient creature be so cruel?  Then I remembered, oh right, we’re talking human beings were acts of cruelty occur every day as if it was an integral part of our DNA. As we race to 7 billion being served, it’s not surprising to find that the deviants and sadists, even if they are the decided minority, are stilling teeming in absolute numbers. That’s the other cruel joke, that is when we assume global warming can be divorced from population control but I’ll save that commentary for another blog.

I remember some of the Michael Vick excuses.  It was the warrior culture Vick came from that engendered his behavior but hell after a losing game I don’t recall the fans stringing and hanging up the losing quarterback by his feet like they did to inferior fighting dogs?  Vick commented that this was the culture the adults in his childhood exposed him to but I’m sorry if Nazi Germany taught us anything it’s that as citizens we have a responsibility to know and do the right thing.  Torturing any creature is verboten in my book as it is for most of us despite what any given authority figure might say.

So, now I am agitated and upset regarding Vick and the other cruel sadists bastards that I have to share this once pretty little planet with.  Then I remember a transcendental moment a couple of years ago.  I think most of us vaguely remember the sad school massacre of five Amish children back in 2006, unfortunately these horrific incidents tend to blur into one another as the public become inured to the horror. The media was all over the story talking to the Amish parents who were trying to console the family of the man who performed the hideous crime.  One of the grieving mothers quoted a familiar Amish phrase, “If we don’t forgive, how can we be forgiven?”  Say it quickly and it almost sounds like a trite aphorism, light and somewhat soothing when you are dealing with some small slight from another person.  Say it when you daughter was just massacred because some deficient creature couldn’t get over the loss of his own daughter and it borders on sainthood.  And that’s was just what the Amish were saying as they embraced the grieving family of the mass murderer.

So should we forgive Michael Vick and his transgressions? Frankly, I think Michael Vick’s remorse is as ephemeral as Don Cheney’s Vietnam war record. And then I think of those words, “If we don’t forgive, how can we be forgiven?”


Erik John Bertel

Vick Media Update:  I listened to a few sound bites from the 60 Minutes interview and the Michael Vick mea culpa.  I could not force myself to watch the whole spectacle because I knew Vick was being handled and coached.  I wasn’t wrong because this morning ESPN reported that Vick has hired a media consultant team that has assembled a 42 page media crisis guide that will address the rehabilitation of Vick’s tarnished public persona. Listening to a few sound bites and reading between the scripted words he sounded more like he was sorry that he was caught rather than being truly repentant for his hideous actions in torturing dogs. When you realize that dog fighting is tied to gambling and organized crime well lets just say I’m rooting for the Giants anyway.On the plus side I don’t believe he will become a serial killer.

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Imagine Sarah Palin and Putin Playing Poker Together

One of the great enjoyments of writing a blog is that you get to interact with people, people you wouldn’t otherwise talk to, never mind notice. Anyway I received another bon mot regarding my comments on the Sarah Palin interview and I found this one very illuminating:

If you knew that “Bush Doctrine” implies more than one policy then Sarah Palin’s reaction to the question (Which is to ask for more clarification) was to be expected and to the point —apparently you don’t so quit sounding so smart D–b-ss!”

Nice try, I know this is the latest conservative spin on Palin’s interview but I’m sorry the look on her face was priceless. It’s amazing how the Ben Stein fundamentalist creationist crowd regurgitates everything that is thrown at it by the cynical Republican conservatives, by the way the very same conservative wing that was all but ready to throw McCain under the bus. Then McCain goes out and drafts the fundamentalist Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential trophy candidate and she say goes around saying “god tasked us to do this and god speaks to us” and the next thing you know McCain is called “McBrilliant” by the vicodin-laden gas bag named Rush Limbaugh.

Anyway, being independently minded, I sat with my wife and we watched the interview on ABC first hand before anybody had an opportunity to tell us how to think about the interview. I’m sorry but as I sat there I found it be both embarrassing and uncomfortable to watch. I replayed it several times on the DVR watching their facial expressions and their body language and it reeked of pure train wreck! Charlie looked like a pained, almost constipated school teacher and Sarah resembled the proverbial moose caught in the headlights.

After the Palin interview reviews were in the conservatives immediately starting sounding like Bill Clinton when Bill went through his bizarre, convoluted explanation of what the word “sex” meant. Frankly, if Sarah knew of an alternative meaning to the “Bush Doctrine” (she didn’t boys and girls), she should have said so forcefully to Charlie instead of looking like a goofy high school kid trying to bluff her way through an essay test. And why didn’t she do that? Because she got caught cramming for her exam, it was so obvious. I am not saying she is stupid like George Bush stupid, really somebody please do a brain scan on him, but she was clearly coached and if I was Vladimir Putin I would definitely want to invite her to my next poker party. If Bush got all weepy looking into Putin’s eyes you can only imagine what Palin’s response will be.

So having seen the interview for myself and being quite capable of thinking for myself, I tell my conservative-fundamentalist friends to go ahead and spin, spin, spin, baby! I saw this lame rebuttal on the internet a day ago before my new friend forwarded it to me. Go ahead and keep regurgitating your tired neo-con world view among yourselves but this crap is not going to work with this independent-minded pundit. You would think after 8 years of Bush people would begin to think for themselves but guess again folks.

Oh, and by the way I’m still leaning toward McCain because I know he is not the right wing ideologue you conservative fundamentalist bozos are so enamored with. Actually I liked the old McCain in 2000 who had no allegiance to the Republican party bosses. Of course, he got swift boated in the Carolina primaries by the present clown in the White House and Bush’s political operatives and sadly, this country has been on downward spiral ever since. Back then, McCain was such a formidable and creditable force for change that even some Democrats were hoping he would switch parties after his defeat in the Republican primaries. This guy in 2008 I barley recognize, especially with all of the lobbyists running his campaign but I have the slim hope if he does get in he is just ornery enough to bite the asses of liberals and conservatives alike. Obama I just don’t have a feel for and frankly I am hesitant to support him but Sarah’s selection as VP now causes me to pause and re-evaluate my thinking.

Why am I concerned? Because McCain is old and Sarah is an all too eager over-achiever who says she is ready but is not. I’m sorry we just had eight years of an intellectually challenged president that said he didn’t read the papers and who went entirely with his gut reaction and just look at the body of work: a five year old war in Iraq with no end in sight and the Muslim fundamentalists threatening to take over both Afghanistan and Pakistan while Bin Laden is still resumed to be alive and well in a cave somewhere. Am I asking too much to have a president that is at least as smart as the bad guys?

So just watch the interview again, Sarah’s facial response to the questioning is very enlightening. She’s as light as a feather, lighter than Obama. That’s great for a Buddhist but that’s lousy for a political leader in these troubled times.

The Sarah Palin Files:

More: Palin and the Charlie Gibson Interview: She’s No Hillary!

More on Hillary: No Political Catfight with Palin

More on Palin “Governor Palin You’re No Hillary Clinton!”

More on Palin with this story,“Apparently-Bristol-Palin-is-no-Chelsea-Clinton-Either”


The 1936 Olympics meets the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Would you attend the Nazi propaganda Olympics of 1936 knowing what you know now? Of course not, so go to this site to see what the Chinese have been doing to their own people over past couple of decades. Imagine what they do to the Tibetans!

Warning! Gross and graphic and not for the young or sensitive.

Enjoy the Olympics! I’m not watching!


Boycott the Beijing Olympics and NBC: Free China!

What do you get when you combine a communist state with unbridled capitalism? You get a fascist’s state of mind, of course. Why bring this up at this time? Well, I think for the time being I have exhausted my rants regarding the Creationists movement and because we are rapidly approaching the start of yet another Olympiad, I figure it’s time for me to chime in on this auspicious event. The pageantry of the Olympics is a Chinese homage to their ruthless march to the top of the world economic food chain, a grand spectacle that was fueled by the callous deaths of millions of Chinese laborers and the ruined careers of millions of American workers, engineered by both callous communist party officials and greedy and stupid American CEOs.

In the nineties, a curious blend of communist backed entrepreneurialism began to take hold in China, fueled and abetted by the voracious appetite of American CEOs for a cheap and reliable foreign labor source. What better way to improving corporate productivity than to pay a fraction for that labor and China had plenty of cheap bodies for hire? A sick Six Sigma corporate mentality of looking at the American labor pool as a waste rather than as a resource further fed this destructive mentality as we outsourced American jobs, pensions, technology and pollution to China for what will amount to be some chump change. As they tour the latest ISO 9000 level Chinese factories the American executives conveniently ignore the shady underworld of subcontractors in the Chinese countryside, where the labor is subjected to substandard working conditions the likes of which belong in Sinclair Lewis novel. Imagine factories where workers do arc welding without protective eye goggles or spray paint shiny new air compressors without the benefits of the simplest air mask and where even the most basic sanitation is lacking. Why? Because it is cheaper, so you could cut the cost of that compressor by a nickel and there are ten others to replace the one guy with the burnt-out eyes or lungs who fell from the assembly-line.

I saw this destructive Wal-Mart mentality first hand. Every distributor began to push American manufacturers for better pricing and that became synonymous with outsourcing to China. I literally had manufacturers crying on the phone to me that they would have to close their American factories, fire their workers and partner with a Chinese manufacturer. That also meant sharing with the Chinese their tooling and industrial secrets and everybody knew how the Chinese manufacturers felt about honoring intellectual property. There is no such thing! I quit in disgust, not so much out of any great moral obligation, but because I personally couldn’t stomach watching entire industries being savaged by this sick mentality.

There’s an old Clash song, called death or Glory, from London Calling that had a line about “he who !@%#$ nuns later joins the church”. In short, I couldn’t continue to be a tool, especially when I knew those so-called great IT and service jobs that were being created to replace our lost manufacturing jobs -you remember that crap about the US going from a manufacturing economy to a service economy- were now being outsourced to India! Every economist was saying we didn’t want to fall into that European trap of protecting jobs with tariffs. Well, the Europeans have a more leisurely lifestyle, live longer and get a month off while our women are literally forced to hold down a job and we sit at home feeling guilty if we take our stinking two week vacation during the course of the year because it’s going to make the company less competitive in the world economy. Is it me or am I missing something here?

So, if you think this callous Chinese and corporate America behavior doesn’t impact you, well, think again. It impacts the manufacturing jobs that are no longer based in the US to the cost of gas at the pump, to the quality of the air you breathe. And now that the housing boom is in a perpetual death spiral don’t you think that negative trade balance is finally going to pose a drag on the American economy? Can we continue to afford to send billions of our dollars to both China and OPEC?
We basically put them in business with our shortsighted Wal-Mart outsourcing mentality and now we compete with the Chinese for food, oil and other basic resources. Free trade advocates would say you got it wrong, that we are growing large new markets for our products to sell into. What the hell do we export to China other than raw materials, some planes, our garbage (literally), food, and until recently our crappy high risk mortgage paper? Okay, maybe the occasional designer bag, no wait a minute, they make those over there, right?

Wow, would our CEOs really sell us out like that? If they can make millions or billions of dollars in terms of their own personal payouts, you bet they would sell us out and their mothers too! No, American manufacturers crawl into bed with any hideous country for a buck and the tech firms don’t exhibit much better behavior in terms of a corporate conscience. Witness the recent behaviors of Yahoo, MSN and Google and their complicity and capitulation to the state sponsored censorship machine of the Chinese. With all of Bill Gates so called humanitarian work you think he throw in a good word for the prisoners within the walls of Microsoft. Not a chance when a buck can be made.

You probably thought I would go off on a liberal, Hollywood-tinged rant about Tibet; after all, the Chinese view the country as implicitly theirs, even though the Tibetan people want no part of the Chinese occupiers. Couple that with the traditional Chinese racist’s attitudes toward Tibetans, they sort of view Tibet as a sort of a northern Mexico, and you have a brutal repression strikingly similar to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In fact, it escapes me as to how this situation is different and why a movement has yet to materialize to boycott the Olympics like we did the Moscow games other than the fact corporate America is still making a buck in trading with the Chinese. I guess that was the Russian’s mistake, not making enough money with the US. Undoubtedly, the mountainous terrain also reminds the Chinese authorities of this unflattering parallel but fortunately for the repressors they face a pacifist Buddhist population rather than a Jihadists Moslem population like they may be facing in their western provinces.

Still the parallel sends a collective chill down the spines of the Chinese oppressors, so much so they felt compelled to kidnap the chosen Panchen Lama. For those not up on their comparative religious studies, in Tibetan Buddhism, the Panchen Lama is a sacred religious figure who chooses the successor to the Dalai Lama. With that kidnapping the Chinese now claim the right to name the next Dalai Lama! They have absolutely no shame but to hold the Chinese responsible just for Tibet is to miss out on the bigger picture. For the past five years the rest of the world has been so busy excoriating the U.S. for our misguided Mid-East policies they have literally allowed the Chinese to fly under the proverbial moral radar!

For example, China’s draconian prison policies should engender the biggest outrage for any thinking person or the grudging admiration of any closet Nazi. China’s penal policies include the systematic execution of 10,000 people annually, comprised mostly of petty criminals, the occasional corrupt party officials (no doubt the ones who stupidly refused to share or whose shoddy practices led to the death of some unfortunates) and numerous political prisoners. Fervent believers in recycling and in making a quick buck, the Chinese authorities routinely harvest the organs of their executed prisoners’ minutes after their death. Yes, if you haven’t heard, you can buy that liver or kidney from China that may have been inaccessible to you in the states. Or they sell the bodies for medical research; you know for that human anatomy plastination exhibit that the touristos love to goggle over in America’s big cities. How obscene and complicit is that viewing now that you know there is a possibility that the contorted and flayed body mounted in Plexiglas may have belonged to an executed political prisoner. One moment you’re alive and vigorously chanting for the return of the Dalai Lama and a few months later, your executed, lifeless inner guts are on display at the BodyWorlds exhibit at the South Street Seaport in NY. To add insult to injury, they made a few hundred dollars in the process of executing and selling your sad-assed carcass.

China’s own foreign policy is even sorrier and you only have to look to Darfur to witness the Chinese complicity in the killing of native Africans. And if China doesn’t get you with their abhorrent foreign policy they’ll kill you with their damn pollution. China continues to put a new coal firing plant on line each week, none of them fitted with scrubbers and in short order, they have already exceeded the U.S. in the dubious distinction of being the world’s biggest carbon gas emitter. And please, I don’t want to hear about that stupid knee jerk carbon tax proposal of Al Gore’s until the Chinese and India also agree to curb their emissions.

But, hey I digress and this mess gets even better. A global recession, coupled with China’s twenty million plus surplus of young males, ought to elicit some interestingly bad behavior by the Chinese authorities in the years ahead. You know, of the criminal and warlike variety. The extra males, euphemistically called bare branches because they can’t find a mate, are the result of decades of female infanticide, in part due to the stringent population control measures the Chinese authorities have put in place. Any way you look at it, it’s either going to be golden era for Chinese prostitutes or a tumultuous period of continuous regional wars as the Chinese Authorities put their surplus male population to good use.

Should the American populace be concerned about such egregious behavior, especially considering that our own politicos don’t appear to be too concerned? “Hey give them time; they’ll come around to our way of thinking,” is the standard line. So are we engaging them and thereby opening up their society and hopefully ameliorating their egregious behavior by some form of mythical Western cultural osmosis or are they changing our own perceptions by dramatically rewriting the rules for capitalism? Who knows and nobody cares, because in the interim, we all think we are making a buck in the process. And in the final analysis what is more important, the ongoing misbehavior by the host country of the Olympiad or missing out on the opportunity to watch thousands of over trained, steroid-fueled, doped-out amateurs looking for their big pay day in the Beijing smog?

My best guess is that we are all going to mindlessly watching the modern day equivalent of the 1936 Berlin games, as we and the athletes hold our collective noses, albeit for entirely different reasons. Frankly, do we even care? Should we care? Does our participation in a global economy mean that we have to turn a blind eye regarding the ongoing human rights atrocities by our biggest trading partner? Hell, President Bush doesn’t care since he is on his way to games even after he meets with Chinese dissidents. I can only imagine the scintillating intellectual debate that will ensue from such a historic meeting of the minds. “You know you all should try a little more democracy, by the way, the Peking duck is real good.” If the President can be a such a tool why shouldn’t we?

Moreover, by boycotting NBC are we not just penalizing an American Company? That’s the beauty of my proposal: NBC is owned by GE, the corporate progenitor of that sick six sigma mentality, you know the one that outsourced your job to China in the first place. Hence, we have come full circle and you know what they say about payback. All we have to do is not watch and send collective chill down the spines of the communist oppressors and corporate hijackers of the American dream. Ah, screw it, I know you’re going to watch these pre-digested games anyway, after all there’s nothing else on during the summer and by August the majority of baseball teams have become also-rans. It’s just that I won’t be joining you in viewing this fascist spectacle on NBC.

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September 2020

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  • Exodus - The Final Chapter
    Sarah and Richard must fight their way off the island in this final installment of the podcast.
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