This is a sad time for American politics

September 4, 2009 at 7:17 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

For the first time in the history of our nation, the President of the United States is being attacked for speaking to children in our schools. He is being accused of trying to indoctrinate kids with socialist ideals and saying things that might contradict what their parents are teaching them. I hope he does. Because the ideals that these children must be learning from those parents is totally inconsistent with our nation’s way of life. To suggest, so that children can hear, that the President is an evil man with an unAmerican agenda, is the essence of fascism. The Republican Party has been co-opted by extremists who have intimidated moderates and tried to undermine the country’s confidence in its government. With each day that passes, they go a step closer to treason. Their words and actions have been a far greater threat to our democracy than any 1950’s communist conspiracy ever was. At bottom of this pit of seething hatred is a core of bigotry that seeks to undo all of the progress this country has made over the last half century.

How do you combat this kind of bellicose prejudice without slipping into the same mire of angry name-calling and unproductive vitriole? We’re getting closer and closer to the point where it doesn’t really matter. The sad fact is that a significant percentage of our population, either through ignorance, or a history of racial prejudice, would rather bring down the whole country before they would allow a black president to have any kind of political victory. These people cluster in their blogs of like-minded zealots, feeding each other rumors and half-truths, then re-enforcing their validity. There is absolutely zero willingness to even consider an opposing view. It is horrifying to see.

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This is a must-see for every American who is interested in health care reform.

August 25, 2009 at 9:05 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Here is a very enlightening video about Canadian health care and how it has been portrayed by opponents of health care reform in the U.S. Every American should watch this before they arrive at any conclusions about who is on the right side of this issue:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXXBCFnhsUc

The statement in this video that is most shocking is the statistic that 31¢ out of every $1 that is spent on health care in this country goes to “administrative costs”. The amount of waste in our system is positively ghastly.

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Time to focus on the truth, not the liars.

August 18, 2009 at 9:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

This information has been derived from various websites, such as AARP.com, PoliticFact,com and FactCheck.org, in addition to the several public statements made by President Obama on the subject of health care reform. I’ve only relied on mass media information when it has cited specific sources, such as the recent study conducted at Emory University and various official statements by AARP.

Below are just a few of the most pervasive lies and fear tactics which have been spread by the insurance companies and various extremist groups:

1. Death Panels: This is so absurd, it barely warrants a response. The ‘end of life’ counseling item was added to the House bill by a Republican (Grassley) and it is something which has already existed in previous health care legislation. It simply means that meetings between a family and a doctor concerning important decisions, such as hospice care, would be covered. Section 1233 of the House bill would allow Medicare for the first time to cover patient-doctor consultations about end-of-life planning, including discussions about drawing up a living will or planning hospice treatment. Patients would, of course, seek out such advice on their own — they would not be required to. The provision would limit Medicare coverage to one consultation every five years. The only “death panels” we have now are the ones owned and operated by the private, for-profit insurance companies, which decide who will be covered and how much it will cost.

2. You don’t get eye care till you go blind: A curious claim by opponents of health care reform, since no proposal being considered mentions blindness, macular degeneration, or the word “sight”. Since the vast majority of people who suffer from macular degeneration are elderly white women, this claim has been an effective scare tactic and no doubt incited many seniors to scream at anybody who supported reform.

3. Socialized medicine: This is an oft-repeated yet totally unfounded claim, given that the government wouldn’t be taking over anything and that no plan currently being considered would put any doctors, nurses, technicians or therapists on the government payroll (not even the so-called “public option” does that). Genuine socialized medicine precludes any choices for the consumer, and that is obviously not the case with either of the reform bills being proposed. What we have right now is a form of corporate socialism (more accurately “corporate fascism”), where a handful of insurance company executives and non-physician actuaries make life-or-death decisions about who will be denied coverage and how high premiums will go. The only thing that the government would administer is the public option, which is only a small part of reform bills being proposed.

4. “I don’t want the government messin’ with my Medicare!” An amazing complaint, considering that Medicare is administered by the federal government, and that most seniors are extremely happy with their coverage. Medicare is in financial trouble, not because of government mismanagement, but because of sky-rocketing medical costs. Unless those costs are brought under control, Medicare will go into the red, taxes will go up and the deficit will continue to explode. It is important to note here that nearly 3/4’s of our annual deficit is driven by just three things: social security payments, military spending, and Medicare coverage. Given that fact, if you’re a genuine conservative, health care reform should be at the top of your “Things-to-Do” list. Under the House proposal, Medicare costs would be reduced, primarily by eliminating waste and fraud, and service to seniors would probably improve. Also, Medicare and Medicaid would be expanded, to accommodate the increasing numbers of seniors in the population. The Boomers.

5. Rationing of medical care for the elderly: There is no such provision in either of the bills currently being considered. In fact, Medicare would remain untouched. Of course, reducing health care costs across the board would ensure that Medicare avoids going into the red. This is yet another scare tactic employed by various anti-reform groups that has zero basis in fact. Americans will not face “rationing” in health care any more than they do now. While a public plan would not be able to cover all procedures, private insurance plans don’t either.

6. The public option will drive people away from private insurers. This is one of the more frequently repeated lies being spread around the internet. This scenario could only happen if private insurers refused to cut their operating costs, lower premiums, and become competitive– which is capitalism in action. Plenty of private companies compete with government-run entities. FedEx and UPS have done quite nicely despite the United States Postal Service. Also, there are many private universities that have flourished despite the less expensive and more ubiquitous state colleges and universities. In any case, the rates of pay to providers would be negotiated and not dictated by the public option. Given that, if private insurers still can’t compete with the public option, then they should probably close their doors anyway. The whole notion that a profit motive should dictate the quality of health care in the United States is immoral anyway. There are plenty of other industries where making a buck is perfectly acceptable. But we’re talking about people’s lives here and the fact that far too many hard-working Americans are going bankrupt every year because they can’t afford decent medical coverage or get coverage at any price because of a previous condition. The legislation in both the House and the Senate would actually prohibit many people with employer-based insurance from switching to the public option, even if they wanted to. The primary purpose of the public option is to provide coverage for people who would otherwise not be able to afford insurance. Period. People and blogs which state otherwise are simply using scare tactics. For every dollar spent on health care in the United States, 31¢ goes to administrative costs. And, of that 31¢, a significant portion is paid out in monumental bonuses to insurance company executives and media costs such as those that are being sustained by the massive disinformation campaign currently being waged by the insurance industry against reform. FACT: The CBO estimates the House bill would result in a net increase of 3 million Americans with employer-provided care.

7. I don’t want my tax dollars payin’ for any baby killin’! This is another hot button issue for conservatives and it was an obvious choice for those who wanted to derail any calm discussion of health care reform. Of course, there are no provisions in either of the bills being considered in Congress which call for or endorse federal funding of abortions-on-demand. This would be illegal anyway, because it is expressly forbidden by the Hyde Amendment, which limits federal funding for abortion care. Effective in 1977, this amendment, specifies what abortion services are covered under Medicaid. In September 1993, Congress rewrote the provision to include Medicaid funding for abortions in cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, and the present version of the Hyde Amendment requires coverage of abortion in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment. Again, this was a Republican sponsored amendment which passed during a Democratic administration. Again, opponents of health care reform have taken some of the wording in the current reform proposals out of context, ignoring the fact that this issue is already covered in previous health care legislation– just like the so-called “death panels” issue. Most important of all, NOBODY has ever said anything about trying to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which would require an act of Congress. The likelihood of that ever happening is about zero. The fact is that health care reform proposals have to be neutral on this issue or they would risk being thrown out by the Supreme Court.

8. “I’m not payin’ for no wetback free health care!” Both reform bills being considered make it quite clear that this will not happen. Repeating over and over and over again that illegal immigrants would get free medical care under those bills does not make it a fact. It’s not. The quickest way to derail any kind of genuine reform is to start stacking other controversial and highly complex issues on top of it. That is exactly what right-wing anti-Obama groups and the insurance companies are trying to do. The handling of illegal immigration is a totally separate issue that will probably take years to work out. Sticking it and other controversial problems onto the issue of health care reform is a less than subtle way of just saying you don’t want reform of any kind. The only way that an undocumented alien can get insurance coverage under President Obama’s plan IS TO PAY FOR IT! Many already do. Finally, the Welfare Act of 1996 is a federal law which strictly forbids any illegal immigrant from obtaining a federally subsidized benefit or service of any kind. Any health care reform bill would be required to conform to that law.

9. “President Obama is tryin’ to sneak the government into taking over our health care.” Obama has always been for single-payer health care, or a ‘Medicare for all’ system. He’s never been secretive about that. He has also made it quite clear that he knows that a sudden shift to such a system would be too disruptive, in addition to being politically unfeasible. What is interesting in this debate is that those who are attacking the single-payer system are actually attacking something that would benefit them. They’re against it because someone has told them that it’s “socialized medicine” and that the federal government is incompetent and evil. They blame the financial woes of Medicare and Medicaid on the government, ignoring the fact that sky-rocketing medical costs are the real culprit. Shockingly enough, they trust the insurance company executives who are driven by an out of control profit motive more than they would trust the government, which has myriad checks and balances in place. It is more than a little amazing that some people would condemn this president for putting the right of their fellow citizens to have affordable health care ahead of the profiteering and greed of the insurance industry. The notion that the federal government is eternally incompetent and insidiously evil goes back to the Civil War, when some states chose to secede from the Union rather than emancipate their slaves. What we’re seeing now is a new group of bellicose bigots who are willing to attack anything this black president tries to do, even if it would benefit them and their families in the end. By some unfathomable logic, these people are proud of the fact that THE UNITED STATES IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD WHICH DOES NOT OFFER ITS CITIZENS AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE.

There are so many liars out there who seem to be driven by something other than the facts about health care reform. Perhaps it’s anger that we have a black man sitting in the White House. As many commentators are saying now, this debate hasn’t been about health care reform for some time. It’s now about President Obama. That’s why we have people screaming in the faces of their elected representatives who are trying to dispel all the rumors and untruths.

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Michelle Malkin: A News Source for the Intellectually Impaired

August 12, 2009 at 2:43 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

If you’re looking for unbiased, thoroughly researched information on health care reform that doesn’t have an ideological agenda, you should know what Michelle Malkin’s blog page proudly states:

Comment moderation is turned on. If you support Barack Obama and intend to post comments supportive of him, your post will not be approved! There are probably hundreds of blogs and sites where you can play with the rest of the Obamabots. We don’t drink Kool-aid here.

In other words, Ms. Malkin will not tolerate opposing views, nor will she allow any scrutiny of her ideas. The only comments she permits are those that parrot back her twisted ideology. Have you ever seen Michelle Malkin actually listen to anybody? What kind of people actually believe that this person has any of the facts right? This is a person who has devoted her blog-life to providing whatever disinformation she can about anything that the current administration is trying to do. The lie du jour concerns health care reform. I’ve read through Ms. Malkin’s venomous blogs about so-called “Obamacare”, looking for any factual or objective remarks and can find none. The screamers at the Town Hall meetings are listening to the likes of Malkin and accepting their information without question. Why? One possible answer is that they share the same fundamental belief that a black man is incapable of leading this country. No amount of valid information will convince them that Barack Hussein Obama is anything but a racist, socialist, baby-killing, non-citizen thug who wants to take over their beloved country. This is why we’ve seen such extreme misbehavior at the town hall meetings.

Ms. Malkin refers to health care reform as a “massive entitlement program” that threatens the lives of unborn children and the elderly. She shovels out one half-truth after another, as well as outright lies about reform, saying that it will take $500 billion dollars out of Medicare, and deny essential care to the elderly. She has fed into the blatant lies about “death panels” and that the government would take over all health care under Obama’s plan. Of course, she throws the word “socialist” around as if she has any idea what it means, while ignoring the obvious fact that the government administers two very successful heath care entities already: the Veterans Administration and Medicare. Ms. Malkin has many seniors thinking that they will lose their Medicare coverage, with which they are very happy, and she has posted misleading articles about its financial condition. She implies that the system is on the verge of collapse and that costs will push seniors out of system, conveniently ignoring the fact that excessive health care costs across the board are the primary reason for Medicare’s problems. The entire purpose of health care reform is to lower those costs and bring more people into the system, which would widen the pool of premium payers. Also, Ms. Malkin ignores the fact that a “public option” would create, for the first time, real competition for insurance companies and an incentive to reduce costs. That is capitalism at work, not socialism.

Health care reform has to happen. Too many people can’t afford coverage and simply go bankrupt after paying for life-saving treatments. Many who have no health insurance use hospital emergency rooms as their primary health care provider, which has caused the closing of countless ERs and many hospitals. Ms. Malkin doesn’t mention who pays for all that, i.e. the tax payers. Millions of families lose everything and go bankrupt every year because they can’t afford coverage. Who pays for that? We do. Ms. Malkin also ignores the fact that health care costs are skyrocketing much faster than wages, which keeps pushing coverage beyond the reach of many families.

Ms. Malkin has posted articles which state that the current health care reform under consideration would mean government subsidized abortions. This, of course, conveniently ignores the existence of the Hyde Amendment, which forbids any such thing. But, knowing that abortion is a hot button issue for many people, Michelle Malkin milks it all she can and incites the kind of belligerent protests we’ve all seen at the town hall meetings. (By the way, Ms. Malkin refers to these people as “peaceful town hall protesters”, not realizing that the whole concept of a town hall meeting involves a civil exchange of information, which makes disruptive protests completely inappropriate and counterproductive). The primary objective of Michelle Malkin and other extremist bloggers is to enrich themselves while angering people who are too lazy or ignorant to get the facts on their own. Malkin makes it easy for them to confirm their own distorted and uninformed opinions. Then, these ideological puppets light their torches and head off to the town hall meetings, where they shout down other citizens who are there to learn all they can about the reforms being considered.

The fact is, doing nothing about health care costs will doom our economy. Small businesses will no longer be able to afford providing this all important benefit and fewer people will have any coverage. Medical costs will continue to spiral out of control and personal bankruptcies will increase exponentially as the population ages. Medicare will collapse and the United States will slide even further down the list of infant mortality and life expectancy statistics. Right now, this country ranks 37th in quality of health care. Slovenia has a better system than we do. Yet people who listen to Michelle Malkin are diametrically opposed to reform and say they “just want to be left alone”. These are misinformed, short-sighted tools of an insurance industry which made billions in profits last year and will make even larger profits this year. For-profit health care management has become as dangerous to our health and our economy as any terrorist organization or greedy Wall Street speculator.

The next time you visit Michelle Malkin’s blogs, look for any dissenting opinions which aren’t consistent with her right-wing, ultra conservative, 19th century agenda. You won’t find any. The greatest danger to our democracy is a misinformed, ignorant electorate. Michelle Malkin has made herself part of the problem, while offering no rational solutions. If you think Michelle Malkin speaks the truth, I suggest that you pay a visit to PolitiFact.com, a non-partisan, Pulitzer prize-winning group that is separating fact from fiction in this debate. Opponents of health care reform are the proud winners of several “Pants-On-Fire” awards, which means that they are lying through their teeth. Also, you can visit another site, FactCheck.org, to find out who is lying about what. Finally, the AARP site, which has resisted endorsing any specific reform plan, is an excellent source of unbiased information.

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You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

July 20, 2009 at 10:40 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Then again, how is asking people who earn over a half million dollars a year to pay a couple of thousand dollars more in taxes destroying them? A person making $500,000/year gets a bimonthly paycheck that grosses roughly $21,000, or +$40,000/month. If they’ve invested wisely and take advantage of the kinds of tax shelters that are available, he or she can adjust that taxable income considerably. So, the notion that a $2,000 or even a $5,000 annual surcharge on that amount of income would dramatically impact that person’s lifestyle is preposterous. We’re talking about approximately $200/paycheck on a +$20,000 check to provide every American with quality health care. The result would be that no child of the wealthy would be taken out of private school. No mansion or Bentley would have to be sold. No second or third vacation home would be put on the market. No vacations to the Riviera would be cancelled. And no pools would go unheated. Those who say they would have to cut back on charitable giving are just looking for an excuse to do so.

Some would say that asking the wealthy to shoulder some of the costs of health care reform is unAmerican, or even socialistic. That might be true if there wasn’t any return on investment for the wealthy. The fact is, that providing health care for every American would resolve one of the biggest obstacles that our economy faces. Small businesses, which suffer the most with exhorbitant health care costs, would find immediately relief and be able to hold on to experienced workers longer. Wouldn’t a healthier economy with a healthier labor force enhance the investment opportunities for the wealthy, while creating a more stable financial foundation for the country as a whole? Years ago, there was a comic strip that had a blowhard millionaire corporate tycoon named General Bullmoose. The motto of this character was “What’s good for General Bullmoose is good for the USA.” Today, the reverse of that phrase is the reality of the situation. What’s good for the USA is the best way for General Bullmoose to hold onto his wealth. Otherwise, the whole system is put at risk.

While it’s true that the top 5% of the nation pays more than 50% of the taxes, it is also true that this same 5% also holds more than 90% of the nation’s wealth. The top 1% hold half the nation’s wealth. With the various loopholes and shelters provided by our obsolete tax code, most of these people pay less taxes than those in the middle class. Warren Buffet has publicly stated that he thinks it is obscene that he pays approximately 18% in taxes, while his secretary is paying a full 30%. The screams we hear from the wealthy about President Obama’s health care reform are fueled by inexplicable greed, ideological obstinance, and a total lack of compassion for those who are less fortunate.

It’s true. You can’t help the poor or the middle class by “destroying” the rich. But nobody is suggesting that destroying any level of our economy would help any other level. The point is that wealthy people in the United States have been existing in a protective bubble since the Reagan administration that was designed to preserve their wealth at the expense of the middle class. Those of us in the midsection of the economy have fewer hospitals, deteriorating public schools, bridges and highways, and almost zero access to government. To preserve the standard of living and health of the population as a whole, and keep this country from sliding into Third World status, it is high time that the wealthy in this country paid their fair share, which they have not. The claim that doing so would destroy their way of life is a fatuous argument.

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Why Sarah Palin quit.

July 4, 2009 at 6:05 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I fail to see how anybody could be shocked by Sarah Palin’s announcement that she is quitting her job as governor of Alaska 18 months before her term is completed.

She didn’t quit her job because of all the ethics probes, or because she wanted to spend more time with Trig. She didn’t quit because she’s tired of all the media attention she’s been getting since last August, either. She quit her job as governor of Alaska, because she’s incapable of conducting a national campaign for the presidency and fulfilling her duties to the state at the same time. She has a hard enough time focusing on one task at a time. She also can’t continue to attack the administration’s policies while continuing to ask for government hand-outs. Also, as a governor, she is accountable to the citizens of her state. As a private person, she’s accountable to no one. Finally, as the governor of a state with a smaller population than most major cities, she could never be perceived as a candidate with broad enough experience. Balancing the budget in Alaska is probably twice as easy as balancing the budget for the city of San Francisco.

This decision was driven by two things: naked political ambition and the ongoing influence of William Kristol and other ultra-conservative Republicans who think she is the cat’s meow. Who hasn’t noticed Palin’s inexplicably high opinion of herself and her ongoing attempts to climb up onto the national stage?

Her impromptu “news conference” on Friday was a cynical political ploy. These are the kinds of announcements one makes right before a long holiday weekend, when voters are busy with family outings and barbecues. Also, the Michael Jackson fiasco gives Palin additional, serendipitous cover for her abandonment of her office and its responsibilities. Clearly, Palin’s statement was hastily thrown together and unrehearsed. Her remarks meandered all over the map, jumping from one subject to the next without segues or logical connections. She just needed to get the statement out quickly and avoid any embarrassing questions from the media. It was a grotesque display of media manipulation.

What was most insulting about Palin’s announcement was the breath-takingly idiotic logic she used in justifying her decision. She chose to make herself a “lame duck” governor when she decided not to seek re-election. And, now, she expects us to believe her suggestion that all lame duck governors do is go on junkets and use tax-payer money to enjoy their last days in office. It sounded as if she was saying that no lame duck governor could resist this behavior, and that she was going to save the people of her state from that kind of abuse by walking away from the office to which they had elected her. The fact is, the excuse Palin gave for resigning was probably an insult to the +20 Republican governors of other states who are also lame ducks.

Sarah Palin has been convinced by her sycophantic group of supporters that she has a shot at being elected President of the United States. All she has to do is spend millions of dollars traveling the world and campaigning throughout the lower 48 states for the next 3 years. Nobody told her that quitting her job might make her look impulsive, irrational, untrustworthy and irresponsible. Nobody told her that being a quitter was a huge negative. And, nobody told her that using totally illogical reasons for abandoning her office would come back to haunt her. Unfortunately (or fortunately), she’s too dim to figure these things out for herself.

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Islamic Republic: The Ultimate Oxymoron

June 23, 2009 at 7:59 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

ox⋅y⋅mo⋅ron  [ok-si-mawr-on, -mohr-]
–noun, plural -mo⋅ra  [-mawr-uh, -mohr-uh]
1. a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly”.

A list of popular oxymorons would have to include such phrases as “military intelligence”, “boneless ribs”, “civil war”, and “current history”. Now, we can add “Islamic Republic” to that list of entertaining, self-contradictory terms.

By now, most of the world is aware of who holds the real power in Iran. It’s not the allegedly democratically elected leaders. It’s the one and only “Supreme Leader”, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i, who has held that exalted position for the last two decades. Grand Ayatollah Khomeini appointed Khamenei to the post of Tehran’s “Friday Prayer Leader” in the autumn of 1989, after the forced resignation of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri from the post. Montazeri was promptly fired when he criticised Khomeini for torture of prisoners. Khamenei is the puppeteer standing behind Ahmadinejad, and he is the authority who has unleashed the Basij and other militias on the Iranian people who have been protesting the farcical election that was just held in that country.

re⋅pub⋅lic  [ri-puhb-lik]
–noun
1. a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.

Bottom line: You can’t be an Islamic state AND a republic. The two are mutally exclusive terms.

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The Revolution Fizzles

June 23, 2009 at 12:09 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

For all intents and purposes, the revolution in Iran is a no-show. Too many people were frightened by the government’s brutal show of force, not to mention all the footage being shown on CNN of people dying in the streets. Can’t really blame folks for not wanting to die just because of a rigged election in which it didn’t really matter who won. There won’t be any real freedom for the Iranian people until they decide that the Supreme Leader no longer has the authority to tell them how to live. They have to be willing to part with their beloved “Islamic Republic” and demand a secular, democratically elected leadership. If and when they get to that point, they will have to be willing to face the Basij and other armed militias set against them by the ruling mullahs, and that will require more courage than what the student protesters faced in the 1979 revolution. This time, they won’t be able to talk the Revolutionary Guard into dropping their weapons and joining with the people. The Basij is a Frankenstein monster created by the Supreme Leaders of Iran to address just this sort of disobedience. I feel great sympathy and no sympathy for the Iranian people. They have allowed themselves to be led by these agents of the Dark Ages for 30 years now, primarily because they love their religion more than their personal freedoms. Until that equation changes, things will never change in that country and the rest of the Mideast.

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What is the point of the demonstrations in Iran?

June 18, 2009 at 4:45 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I’d like to hear some different perspectives on what is going on in Iran right now. The huge demonstrations since the election don’t make a lot of sense to me. After all, Ahmadinejad was never the real power in that country and, whoever the president turns out to be, the true leaders of Iran wear robes and turbans and rule from mosques. The Ayatollahs have been running Iran since 1979. That’s why it’s referred to as an “Islamic Republic”.

When Khomeni came to power during the “revolution”, he promised the people of Iran a secular government and democratic elections, in addition to the dismantling of the Shah’s secret police force. Within months, it became clear that all Khomeni was doing was setting up a theocratic dictatorship with a new secret police of his own, the so-called “Revolutionary Guard.” When Khomeni died, his successor began to use the Guard in the same ways that the Shah used his secret police, and that practice is continuing today in the streets of Tehran.

I don’t see how a totalitarian theocracy can exist in today’s world. It would continually feel threatened by the increasing number of democratic, pluralistic nations, which could only result in a paranoid and belligerent leadership that is more interested in preserving its power than doing what is right. The existence of the internet has changed a lot of things in Iran, but until that country has the secular, democratically elected leadership that Ayatollah Khomeni promised nearly 30 years ago, it will never be truly free. Supreme Leader Khamenei is the ruler of Iran today. The office of president and this election does nothing but give the appearance of a democratically elected government.

It would appear that the Iranian government’s tactic of inciting anger toward the United States and Israel in order to help its citizens forget the serious problems they have in their own country has been quite effective. That’s what happens when the media is controlled by the people in power. Those that are hopeful about change in Iran should remember that a very small percent of the population in Iran have internet access, so YouTube and ‘tweeting’ will provide no panacea for that country’s troubles. In the end, it will amount to nothing more than a way to vent. While the Iranian government may have thrown out the international press and tried to block the cyber-rebellion, xenophobia is alive and well at the grass-roots level in Iran.

Despite these huge demonstrations, I don’t hold much hope at all that we will see any real change in Iran. But, it’s their country and Iranians are the ones who have to live with all the repression and violence. If demonstrating about a meaningless election makes them feel any better, who am I to suggest otherwise?

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Sarah Palin, David Letterman, Rush Limbaugh and American Politics

June 16, 2009 at 6:12 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

For the last year, many Americans have been incensed by Sarah Palin’s and Rush Limbaugh’s inflammatory remarks. The ad hominem attacks waged by these two on their political rivals and anybody who didn’t agree with their ideology have made them both the target of blistering counterattacks in the press and, especially, in blogs. I’m guilty of this behavior myself, even though I’ve tried to stick to the facts in criticizing them. It is unfortunate that, in our attempts to discredit and criticize people like Limbaugh and Palin, we become so much like them. David Letterman’s completely inappropriate insult of a teenage girl who happens to be Sarah Palin’s daughter was as unacceptable as anything Palin said during the campaign, and yet many people rush to defend Letterman simply because they hate Palin. The back and forth salvos of insults are in major conflict with the fundamental message of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and what he has tried to do since his inauguration. The most depressing part of this is that our behavior appears to be a basic part of human nature. Neither side of the argument can help themselves, nor do they really want to because they’re convinced that they’re 110% right in their views. The stridency that this certainty breeds is most evident in people like Limbaugh, but we all suffer from the malady. I suppose that partisanship is an unavoidable side effect of all politics. Self-interest is the driving force, whether it’s the desire to increase one’s radio show ratings and make ungodly sums of money, or attain political influence and power. The fact is, we can discredit the greedy charlatans and incompetents without resorting to their tactics. American politics needs to show a lot more maturity. The schoolyard mentality is not helping us “form a more perfect union.” The underlying message here seems to be that we need to try harder as a people to become less like our enemies, whether they’re spewing their hate in a press conference, radio sound booth, or village in Pakistan.

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