Saturday, June 30, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court & Obamacare

The decision Thursday by the United States Supreme Court and the reaction by several governors over the health care act known as Obamacare, reminds me of an earlier time in American History, but a time I was around to experience and remember.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education (Topeka) declared that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students was unconstitutional.  This case overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) which allowed state sponsored segregation.

In 1957, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called out his states' National Guard to block black students' entry to Little Rock Central High School. President Eisenhower responded by deploying elements of the 101st Airborne Division and federalized Faubus' National Guard. Over 40 years later, I met one of the Little Rock Seven, Ernest Green, who had become an executive in the securities industry.

In 1963, I watched on live TV as Alabama Governor George Wallace personally blocked the door at the University of Alabama to prevent the enrollment of 2 black students.  Wallace, an ardent segregationist, had been known to repeat his mantra "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" several times for the TV audience. Wallace moved aside when confronted by General Graham and Nicholas Katzenbach, Asst. Attorney General. General Graham of the Alabama National Guard was ordered by President Kennedy to intervene and moved Governor Wallace to make history.

All Southern States required segregation by law and it would be many years before the fighting over the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in 1954 was fully implemented.

Now we have many of the governors of these same states fighting the implementation of the health care act as it relates to Medicaid. They are going to opt out of that part which would help the poorest citizens of their state. The south is still fighting the federal government, and I wonder how much of this fight is also tied to race?

Well, that is my opinion, and I am sure you have yours.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Nation's Strength: The Health Of Its People

There is a lot of discussion these days about socialism, and just what is socialism.  I am not going to attempt to define socialism, but I am going to give my view on what some may think is socialism.

Years ago, when I was in the U.S. Army, the question was put to us during training: what weapon took the longest to produce.  The answer is 18 years and it is the soldier. Yes, the person, in those days it was only men in combat, and you needed to be at least 18 years old, or, 17 with a parent or guardian's signature to enlist.

The health of the nation was dependent upon a healthy fighting force.  There were no drones in those days that I know of.  So, in essence, our national security is tied to the fact that there will be enough healthy 18 year old men and women that can serve in the military.

If military spending and modern weapon systems are necessary for the security of the country, then how far behind that is the health of future soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coast guard sailors?

I think that the health of our country depends on a healthy military, and a healthy military depends upon healthy future men and women who can serve.  Then, is not the health of our people not directly tied to the national security of our country? And, if that is true, then should not health care be an issue of National Security?

Some people may say I am a socialist for thinking that health care should be a right of all citizens because our nation's strength is in the final analysis dependent on the health of its people. A healthy people makes for a healthy country.  That is my opinion.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Altarpiece No. 2: Getting Back To Work

I am back from my little trip to Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD and Washington, D.C.  I had a great time with family and friends.  Now it is time to get back to work on Altarpiece No.2.  The above photo is where I left my work in progress when I took off a week ago Friday.

I love to drive. For the most part, there were no problems except for a stretch of about 6 to 7 miles where traffic got backed up on I-70 westbound just after entering Ohio.  Why the Ohio Department of Transportation did not reroute traffic along eastbound I-70 (sharing the road), I don't know.  I guess the geniuses in Columbus decided it was cheaper to let hundreds of cars and trucks sit in traffic for an hour and a half or more, rather than spend a little money to do the reroute as it is done in so many other states.  Maintaining the highways is important, but moving traffic during the summer months is equally as important.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Today I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D. C. It was a beautiful day, but I had decided that on this trip east I would make a special trip down to Washington to visit this museum.  For the last few weeks I have been reading a book titled IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black, 2001. I have written a few of my remarks about this book in the post just before this one.

I liked what I saw, and I looked at everything including a special exhibit on the lower level called "State of Deception - The Power of Nazi Propaganda".  Like permanent exhibits this too was very well presented with photos, videos and enough written information to fill a book.

The architecture of the interior of the museum was not lost on me.  I am old enough and I have seen enough photos of the Holocaust to know what the architects were trying to achieve.  In my opinion, they were very successful.  I wonder if the younger generations realize why the architects used red brick, steel, glass and wood in the interior construction.  The feel of the place took me back in time to Germany in the 1930s.

One more thing.  This is just my opinion, but after viewing all of the exhibits, I personally don't think children younger than 12 years old should be taken to this museum.  Yes, I know there are many children visiting the museum with their parents and club leaders and school groups, but this museum packs a punch, and I am not sure young children are ready to absorb that punch. Naturally, children that are gifted or more mature than their contemporaries might be able to handle what they see at a younger age.

This museum packs a powerful message. A message not just about the past, but about the present and the future of humankind.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

IBM and the Holocaust - A Most Unsettling Book

For the last several days I have been reading IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black, 2001.

The parts in the book about what the Nazis did to the Jews and other peoples that the Nazis saw as undesirables is not new to me.  Over the years, I have read several books, each dealing with a piece of the bigger story about the Jews, the gypsies and others that the Nazis deemed unworthy of life itself.  In 1968, I visited the Dachau concentration camp memorial outside of Munich.  So, I have seen and walked the grounds of a piece of history as well as read about what took place in Germany between 1933 and the end of WWII in 1945. This part of 20th century European history I am very familiar, but what I did not know was the role IBM played in the effectiveness and efficiency of the Third Reich's war against the Jews!

Reading the pages of this book, and then thinking about what took place and how a large American corporation, IBM, and its leader, Thomas J. Watson, were able to turn a blind eye to what was happening to the Jews in Germany for the sake of profit is a story I knew nothing about until now.  This is not a simple story of greed.  This is a story of power and greed on steroids.

It causes me to ask the question: If people will do what IBM did to make Nazi Germany IBM's second biggest client next to the U.S. government, what would people do today for power and money?  I don't intend to answer this question as I think each of us needs to give that question some thought for ourselves.   I can tell you this, I am concerned with the role money plays in politics.  I am concerned with people that would destroy the civil rights of others that do not look like them.  Corporations today have huge amounts of financial resources to lobby governments. What unlimited financial resource lobbying does to a society and the civil rights of its citizens remains to be seen. What will that next chapter look like?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ride Cincinnati: My 6th Year

This was my 6th year to participate in Ride Cincinnati, the fund raiser to raise money for breast cancer research at the Barrett Cancer Center of the University of Cincinnati.  This photo of is taken before the ride with my trusty bicycle.  This morning was a nice day for a bike ride, as there appeared to be about 2,000 riders out on the road.  I rode my 26 miles and now I am going to take a nap.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Altarpiece No. 2 - a work in progress

I have given the piece a coat of acrylic red oxide and then a first coat of acrylic metallic gold. Next is the drawings and then paint.  There is no deadline for this piece this year.  I hope to take my time and have some fun doing it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Altarpiece No. 2 - The Primer Phase

This is a progress update on Altarpiece No. 2.  I have covered the piece with white latex primer, and still doing a little sanding before I will start the drawing phase where I place my images on the inside of the 2 doors and the inside of the case.  I am still working on what exactly I will be placing on all 3 interior surfaces.  The treatment of the outside of the 2 doors I am still undecided. It takes time for my ideas to simmer before full reduction takes place.  I love the shape of the piece with the doors open.  I received my inspiration for Altarpiece No. 2 a few years ago on a visit to the Detroit Institute of Art.  The height is 28 inches and width with the doors closed is 20 inches.