Reflections of a Humanist


                                                Madoff the Piker
DeKalb, IL....Thursday, March 12, 2009

     He stole just $50 Billion.  Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld - and the generals, who knew better - took about twenty times that, for their little wars in Asia and the Middle East, and gave us thousands of dead Americans, tens of thousands of dead in other lands, a ruined country, another slipping into chaos, no true lasting reforms, and the decline of America as a moral leader in the world!  And while they were at it, they committed treason, deliberately revealing the name of a CIA agent in order to punish her husband for - essentially - proving them liars, and endangering an uncounted number of other U. S. agents of whom she was a known associate.  Has it been worth it?  Madoff, a man in his seventies, may get 150 years in prison.  What have the traitors Bush, Rove, Cheney, Libby, Rumsfeld, et al., received?  Pensions.

     Every week members of the DeKalb Interfaith Network for Peace and Justice, who have for many years supported a school for impoverished youngsters in war-ravaged Nicaragua, scholarships for students in North Central Illinois, and witnessed for many worthy causes, every week they gather, led by the indomitable Cele Meyer and her late husband Al, who died just last week, at the corner of 1st and Lincoln to hold up banners opposing the crazy war in Iraq and asking our government to support "the troops" (i.e., our young sons and daughters, many of them state National Guards, not intentional high-tech warriors) by bringing them home.  Stop the killing.  Stop the unbelievable spending, the waste of our hard-earned dollars, stop the insanity. 

     On the opposite corner, there's always a [bunch of yahoos] small group who drape themselves in the flag while their signs call the accomplished and upstanding citizens of the faith-based Network names, such as traitor and terrorist, for daring to oppose the horrors our rulers commit in our name.  Which, by the way, is how we became a country in the first place - by opposing our legitimate rulers.  "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time," Thomas Jefferson warned, "with the blood of tyrants...."  Note that he didn't say "by determined lobbying" or "by writing letters".

     Now don't get me wrong: I'm glad Bernie Madoff will die in prison, a convicted con-man.  What of Bush's Treasury Secretary Paulson, former head of the investment bank Goldman Sachs, who gave away the first half of the government's $750 BILLION bank bailout to the banks he liked, with no restrictions whatsoever on how they could use the money.  And as we have seen, they used it to pad executive bonuses, buy up smaller banks like your dotty aunt at a flea market, take costly vacations at top-drawer resorts, and hoard the cash against future losses, rather than lending it out again - WHICH WAS CONGRESS'S INTENT, on our behalf.  He squandered some 7 times the amount Madoff did - but not illegally, so he's off the hook.  He merely conned THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.

     When i was a Boy Scout, eons ago, I joined fellow scouts for a trip to the Jamboree in Colorado Springs. Our leaders chartered a train and we rode west together.  The good churchwomen near Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota, made us lunch on the day we stopped to look at the Presidents's heads.  Just a young teen, I was nevertheless as impressed by their generosity, their warmth and friendliness, as I was by the monumental sculptures.  My leader said something I've never forgotten.  "You can tell a lot about people," he remarked, "not by what they SAY they believe, but by what they DO.  These women care, don't they?  They live their generosity."

     And what of us?  We SAY we believe in justice.  And we - through our judicial system - are about to mete it out to the despicable fraudster, Mr. Madoff, and probably a number of his close associates.  But what ARE we if we punish a lying stockbroker yet forgive murderous traitors who took uncounted lives and sent our nation, indeed, the world - into near-bankruptcy?  While enriching themselves and their friends, by the way.  Are they to be held accountable, too?  Or let off, scot-free!  Famed prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi has made a compelling case for their guilt in the murder of Americans who died in an illegal, trumped-up war.  Has justice simply vanished, like the magician's rabbit?  What do we care about?  What values do we live?  "You can tell about a people, not by what they SAY they believe....but by what they DO."