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Belmont Club

This Week

December 16th, 2013 - 3:24 pm

Some days bring up an assortment of news that can only be called a snapshot of the times. No common thread runs through them except a kind of spirit of the age. It’s a day in the life, bringing both good and bad

The first snippet is news that the fake sign language interpreter present at the Mandela funeral was once part of a group that burned people to death. “They told The Associated Press that the group placed tires around the men’s necks and set them ablaze. Unlike two other suspects who went to trial in 2006 for the killings, the four said on Monday that Thamsanqa Jantjie never did because authorities determined he wasn’t mentally fit.”

Thamsanqa Jantjie reminds us that the “long walk to freedom” takes place in a context different from that imagined in the West.  Revolutions are made mostly by killing people, and warfare is the same way.

And if you think death brings escape from the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes”, think again. From Washington state comes news that under the new health care reforms that state can take your money for hospital payments after you’re dead. “As thousands of state residents enroll in Washington’s expanded Medicaid program, many will be surprised at fine print: After you’re dead, your estate can be billed for ordinary health-care expenses.” They are victims of a rule that attaches the assets of people with low incomes. As it happens, that describes retirees.

Some 55- to 64-year-olds, who may have taken early retirement or who were laid off during the recession, have found themselves plunged into a low-income bracket. Unlike Medicaid recipients in the past — who were required to reduce their assets to qualify — they’re more likely to have a home or other assets.

For health coverage through Medicaid, income is now the only financial requirement.

At first, Prins was pleased at the prospect of free coverage.

But the more she thought about the fine print, the more upset she got. Why was this provision only for people age 55 and older? Why should those insured by Medicaid have to pay back health expenses from their estates when people with just a bit more income who get federal subsidies don’t? Why didn’t she and Balhorn know about this before getting to the application stage? …

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the politically conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, writing in the The Washington Times, called the recovery provision “a cash cow for states to milk the poor and the middle class.”

“People will think this is wonderful, this is free insurance,” Orient said in an interview. “They don’t realize it’s really a loan, and is secured by any property they have.”

It’s cradle to grave healthcare — and beyond the grave too. Once I received a Skype message from someone who was dead. It turned out to be a relative clearing out the deceased’s computer. But Skype should work on wiring up the dead.  As the Democratic Party has often proved, it’s not impossible. Anyways, the dead should be allowed back on the network if they’re going to be billed.

And speaking of healthcare, have you heard of al-Qaedacare? The Yemeni Defence Ministry released CCTV footage showing the December attack on a hospital compound by a suicide bomber and gunmen wearing army uniforms. Sixty three people were killed. You might say they gave the doctors and the patients “the treatment”. What happened to the Geneva convention? Well it works in Geneva.

But never fear, the EPA is on the job.  What’s the EPA got to do with it? Everything as it turns out. NBC News reports that “the EPA’s highest-paid employee and a leading expert on climate change deserves to go to prison for at least 30 months for lying to his bosses and saying he was a CIA spy working in Pakistan so he could avoid doing his real job, say federal prosecutors.”

And his real job was telling us about climate change.

This week I learned about Tim Lopes, a Brazilian investigative journalist who died back in 2002.  He had rigged himself with a recorder to capture a baile funk — featuring child sex — in Rio’s slums.  But the gangsters who ran the slums had a little kid who surreptitiously checked visitors for wires and Lopes was duly discovered.

The traffickers tied Lopes to a tree … They proceeded to burn Lopes’ eyes with a cigarette … using a samurai or a ninja type sword, Elias Maluco [the gangster] proceeded to cut off Tim Lopes’ hands, arms, and legs while Lopes was still alive. … Lopes was placed within several tires, covered in diesel gasoline, and set on fire. This process, which had become institutionalized among traffickers within Rio’s most violent favelas at the time, was referred to as micro-ondas [microwave oven].

Which brings us right back to the fake ANC interpreter, who only did the last part. He skipped the samurai sword and the cigarettes. There may have been no problem letting him stand beside world leaders, but its a reminder of how base human passions are to be found in Yemen, Brazil or Soweto; indeed the world over. They buried madiba but we have yet to inter our demons.

It’s the 21st century. China’s Jade Rabbit landed on the moon, in 480p video. President Obama is meeting tomorrow with tech industry leaders, an industry which didn’t exist a few decades ago to talk “about the tech disaster that was HealthCare.gov, how government can better deliver IT and of course, national security.” And ships, as the video below shows, are no longer your grandfather’s ships. In the 21st century you don’t tow giant cruise ships like the Costa Condordia derelict away. You load them on a bigger ship and sail away, sail away.

It’s astonishing to realize that one biggest radars ever built is seagoing.  Bigger than a battleship, this naval radar had a base built for it in Alaska, but has since operated mostly out of Pearl Harbor guarding the world, largely unthanked, from the likes of Kim Jong-Un.

All ahead radar

All ahead radar

The marvels abound in our brave new world and so do the horrors. The heart of man is still the same despite all these centuries since paradise; riven by heroism and villainy and trapped between the impulse to heaven and the craving for hell.

And remember, there’s still next week.  With any luck, humanity will be here to bring us the next exciting episode.


Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Here's a funny/appalling story.

"Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die! This is so priceless, and so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today.

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but now was somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank.

Here is the exchange:

Family Member: 'I am calling to tell you she died back in January.'
Citibank: 'The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'Maybe you should turn it over to collections.'

Citibank: 'Since it is two months past due, it already has been.'

Family Member: 'So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?'

Citibank: 'Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!'

Family Member: 'Do you think God will be mad at her?'

Citibank: 'Excuse me?'

Family Member: 'Did you just get what I was telling you -- the part about her being dead?'

Citibank: 'Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.'

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: 'I'm calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.'

Citibank: 'The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'You mean you want to collect from her estate?'

Citibank: (Stammer) 'Are you her lawyer?'

Family Member: 'No, I'm her great nephew.' (Lawyer info was given).

Citibank: 'Could you fax us a certificate of death?'

Family Member: 'Sure.' (Fax number was given).

After they get the fax:

Citibank: 'Our system just isn't set up for death. I don't know what more I can do to help.'

Family Member: 'Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. She won't care.'

Citibank: 'Well, the late fees and charges will still apply.'

(What is wrong with these people?!?)

Family Member: 'Would you like her new billing address?'

Citibank: 'That might help....'

Family Member: 'Odessa Memorial Cemetery , Highway 129, Plot Number 69.'

Citibank: 'Sir, that's a cemetery!'

Family Member: 'And what do you do with dead people on your planet???'
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
A mental defective went to a funeral to deliver fake sign language for phony speeches.

In Marxist world, all the courtesy cars should be Yugo's and Volt's.

The Obama Secret Service didn't pay any attention to the guy giving base stealing signs, probably because he wasn't a prostitute.

A federal court judge ruled that spying on us is probably not in the Constitution...and we await Obama's, " I don't care".

Next week is too soon.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not Taxation Without Representation is being replaced by No Representation Without Taxation. Personally I would not mind that or even better No Votes for (net) Tax Eaters. However since the ChiDems have released voting from the bonds of mortality the principle leads to infinite taxation. People are encouraged to write checks for the future to cash. That is what Social Security is. That is what the Reverse Mortgage scheme, endorsed on the tube by bipartisan shills including Fred Thompson and Henry Winkler, is about. As the Dems are discovering with Obamacare it is a shock when the bill shows up while you are still alive.

We need to return to the illiberal pre-war concepts of Virtue and Quality. and Right and Wrong. There are good people and bad people. There is success and failure. There are people who make things better and those who only create problems. There are the civilized and the uncivilized. The bad people are wrong, their acts and opinions and prejudices are wrong. They do not deserve our respect or to be listened to. They deserve to be controlled and rendered less dangerous.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (31)
All Comments   (31)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Snow in Cairo and Vietnam! What's next: Obama telling the truth??? Nah, that's more than just improbable; it's impossible.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Jade Rabbit? Someone told me they saw something like that in some chinese pron video, I'm sure. But that's just what I've been told, mind you. Myself, I wouldn't know about such things.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I’m sure the Silicon Valley CEOs are libertarian programmers who rose through their own initiative and skill to be wealthy CEOs of vasty international corporations. They will advise Obama, based on their own experience and philosophy, that most of the government, including Obamacare, should be abolished.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Also another important development-The logical consequence of our president's selective enforcement of the laws is that the local and state agencies enforcing those laws feel free to selectively enforce the only laws THEY choose.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/us/sheriffs-refuse-to-enforce-laws-on-gun-control.html?_r=0

Although these actions fly in the face of a "government of laws, not of men," it may be the only way to fight this predatory federal government. If conducted on a large scale, the federals simply don't have the judicial resources to handle this and when they do attempt to prosecute these matters, juries may also feel free to nullify. Our milquetoast, statist GOP representatives in DC will not protect us, so civil disobedience, on a large scale by citizens and local governments, may be our best and only hope.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment


Mehitabel33,
The CEO of Citicorp is Michael Corbat. The following conversation should take place.

Supervisor: Sir?
M. Corbat:  You're fired.

The staffer who referred the problem to the supervisor acted within the scope of their authority. The supervisor who failed to solve the problem, and instead created a liability for the company, should be terminated as a lesson to others. Most large organization fail to properly discipline their managers. Instead rewards and punishments are the result of internal politics. Leftist cant and evaluation by arbitrary criteria divorced from reality flourishes. Corporate life becomes a version of Mean Girls High School.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
And the largest organization of all is the federal government.

How's that "fail to properly discipline their managers" working out for ya?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
And there was snow in CAIRO for the first time in over 100 years, just this weekend, I hear.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
And re the Ersatz Signer: did he work for Winnie Mandela? she of "necklacing" infamy? the slayer of a 12-year-old boy?

Seeing that guy next to the other Freakazoid was a Perfectly PoMo Moment: God has a wicked sense of humor sometimes. ;-)
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here's a funny/appalling story.

"Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die! This is so priceless, and so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today.

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but now was somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank.

Here is the exchange:

Family Member: 'I am calling to tell you she died back in January.'
Citibank: 'The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'Maybe you should turn it over to collections.'

Citibank: 'Since it is two months past due, it already has been.'

Family Member: 'So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?'

Citibank: 'Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!'

Family Member: 'Do you think God will be mad at her?'

Citibank: 'Excuse me?'

Family Member: 'Did you just get what I was telling you -- the part about her being dead?'

Citibank: 'Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.'

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: 'I'm calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.'

Citibank: 'The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'You mean you want to collect from her estate?'

Citibank: (Stammer) 'Are you her lawyer?'

Family Member: 'No, I'm her great nephew.' (Lawyer info was given).

Citibank: 'Could you fax us a certificate of death?'

Family Member: 'Sure.' (Fax number was given).

After they get the fax:

Citibank: 'Our system just isn't set up for death. I don't know what more I can do to help.'

Family Member: 'Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. She won't care.'

Citibank: 'Well, the late fees and charges will still apply.'

(What is wrong with these people?!?)

Family Member: 'Would you like her new billing address?'

Citibank: 'That might help....'

Family Member: 'Odessa Memorial Cemetery , Highway 129, Plot Number 69.'

Citibank: 'Sir, that's a cemetery!'

Family Member: 'And what do you do with dead people on your planet???'
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
"In the perfect financial plan, the check to the undertaker bounces."
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
The government of P. W. Botha made a horrific blunder by publicizing the custom of “necklacing”, which was almost certainly a cultural import from Indian where it had been used in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 in the wake of the assassination of Indira Gandhi. By publicizing “necklacing”, the custom not only spread, but also shifted the balance of terror within South Africa. Up until that time, the Apartheid regime had the advantage of seeming far more cruel than its opposition.

For the ANC, “necklacing” was perfect. It was a plausibly deniable way to intimidate opponents. It could openly condemn the practice while letting it happen in practice. The custom spread to Haiti, when it was called the “Pierre Lebrun”. No less than Jean-Bertrand Aristide endorsed the practice.

As for Archbishop Tutu, he is just another politician. When Archbishop Tutu saved a man's life from lynching, we was really saving his own international reputation. If that man had died right in front of him, his political standing would have been undermined – either that or it would have effectively meant an official endorsement of murder by the Anglican Communion.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
One thing not often understood about South African history is how its revolution started out primarily as a reaction against botsotsi – Soweto gangsters. The Apartheid regime was actually a secondary target, not a primary one. The crime rate in the slums around Johannesburg was (and is) horrifically bad, and the official response of the National Party was to cordon off black people from white areas. This left black people even more vulnerable to criminal gangs.

In the early 1970's, black high school students got tired of seeing their female classmates getting raped by gangsters, and because the government wasn't going to do anything about it, they took the law into their own hands. Some of the best educated black people in South African formed vigilante squads, and beat up the gangsters.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Student organizations in Soweto went from strength to strength. They organized a student boycott in 1976, incensed by a new requirement for schools to teach half of the curriculum in Afrikaans rather than teaching all subjects in English. The boycott and the resulting demonstrations were a roaring success, surprising even the organizers. Then, as South African police usually do in such a situation, they fired on the crowd and the demonstration flared into revolution.

Yet, although Soweto in 1976 looked bad to outsiders with student mobs enforcing boycotts whether black residents liked it or not, the actual crime rate in Soweto was vastly reduced for a while. What the South African regime saw as anarchy turned out to be more actual “law and order” for ordinary Sowetans than the official “law and order” provided by the government.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
The student uprising was beaten down, of course, and its leaders dispersed to training camps run by the African National Congress. The main point here, though, is that Apartheid was an ideological fig leaf for a policy of abdicating governmental authority within black areas. Although Apartheid is usually portrayed as violent, its root lack of legitimacy came not from its brutality, but rather from its unwillingness to provide security to black people in black areas. The government's hands-off policy toward gangsters provided a power vacuum that student vigilantes entered. So, in its crude fashion, Soweto's revolution started out as an expression of a desire for basic security – security the ANC has not provided either.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you for giving us a real history.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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