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Saturday, October 25, 2008

FOR PRESIDENT:

REMEMBER TO VISIT www.factcheck.org/ REGULARLY TO CHECK THE ACCURACY OF ALL POLITICAL ADS YOU SEE AND HEAR!

There is never a perfect candidate for President. No one candidate has all the correct answers. Once in office, he or she will invariably make mistakes. That is inevitable human nature. However, this year, there is a clear difference and choice between candidates for a number of compelling reasons, and I have made mine.

After 8 years of unrestricted free trade, economic policies brazenly favoring the wealthy and big business (including disastrous deregulation and much corporate welfare through numerous unquestioned, non-bid military contracts); a political and domestic policy based on fear, blatant partisanship, the curtailment of rights granted under our Constitution, and overreaching expansion of the powers of the Executive Branch; a foreign policy predicated on pre-emptive military strikes and non-communication with hostile powers, plus a very expensive, unnecessary, and unpopular war in Iraq, more than 80% of us correctly feel our country has been on the wrong track. We crave and are in desperate need of real change, not just the cosmetic type some would offer.

Unrestricted free trade has caused entire plants and millions of good paying American jobs to leave this country for China, India, Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, and other countries. It has led to wages in this country becoming stagnant or even declining. Productivity here has risen steadily in the past 8 years, but wages have not kept pace. The costs of energy, health care, pharmaceuticals, food, and education have skyrocketed, with no relief in sight. Huge tax breaks given to the wealthy and to large corporations have not resulted in the creation of millions of high paying new jobs here, as President Bush and his neoconservative Republican allies promised early in his first term. Instead, corporate excesses and greed have become rampant. Our overall standard of living has fallen, not risen. We are NOT better off today than we were 8 years ago! The "Bush doctrine" of pre-emptive military strikes (that we have the right to attack other countries without provocation if we consider them to be a threat) has isolated us from the rest of the world and damaged our relations with them. As applied in Iraq, it has all but destroyed any moderate Arab or Muslim support we may have once had in the Middle East. It is shameful behavior more analogous to Napoleon, Hitler, or Stalin than to that of Washington, Jefferson, or Wilson. It has proven to be economically unsustainable. Worse yet, it may encourage similar future action from countries like Russia or China.

John McCain is a passionate man who tremendously loves this country. He is a true-life hero, having suffered greatly but having stood firm during years of torture and captivity in North Vietnam as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict. He is a staunch supporter of the right to life for the innocent unborn. Yet he is also very militaristic and an avowed advocate of the Bush doctrine. He is viewed as bellicose and pushy by those outside our border. On QUALITY OF LIFE issues, he usually sides with the wealthy and big business, whose policies and practices the past 8 years have diminished the quality of life for the majority of us, who are in the categories of middle class or poor. He advocates more huge tax cuts for the rich and large corporations. His tax plan gives only very, very minimal tax cuts for those earning less than $111,646 per year (which is where the overwhelming majority of us in the country are). FOR A DETAILED TABLE OF BOTH CANDIDATES' TAX PLANS, jot down and go to this website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/06/09/ST2008060900950.html.

McCain himself has often looked tired, crotchety, and confused during the course of his campaign, He has mixed up important details like the history of and differences between Iraq's Sunni and Shia populations. He has shown an impulsive erraticness in his approach toward dealing with the recent mortgage banking collapse, first "suspending" his campaign to fly to Washington for a meaningless conference with Bush, and then resuming it. His campaign has not been managed well. Early on, it was virtually broke and today its fundraising is still dwarfed by his opponent's. His campaign has been mainly a series of negative attacks and misstatements about his opponent. He has done liitle to sell himself or his policies other than manufacture numerous silly distractions, like "lipstick on a pig" and "Joe the (fake) Plumber.". McCain's choice of a running mate showed very poor judgment on his part. It has been roundly criticized even by members of his own party. Sarah Palin is nowhere near educated enough for the job of Vice President. She is far too partisan, impulsive, provincial, divisive and undignified for the job, and doesn't even understand its constitutional role. She is naive and recklessly ambitious. She lacks vitally important foreign policy background. McCain is 72 years old and has already gone through four bouts of cancer (the highly malignant and often recurrent melanoma variety). Should he die in office, the woefully-unprepared Palin would become President. The thought of Sarah Palin running our economy, our military, conducting negotiations with seasoned adversaries like Putin, Ahmedinijad, Chavez or Kim Jong Il, and having her fingers on our nuclear trigger, is absolutely terrifying. For advice and guidance, she would be relying on the same neocon economic, domestic, and foreign policy staff who have driven our country into the ditch over the past 8 years. McCain professes to be a reformer offering change but his campaign is run by ex-Bush aides and 7 key advisers who are, or have been, powerful lobbyists. With that in mind, it is doubtful he would enact the real change this country so badly needs. For this and for all the other reasons I have already listed above, I CANNOT support John McCain's candidacy for the presidency.

Barack Obama is a man of unproven quantity. He has a limited track record in national politics. His mother was white and raised in America, but his father, who left he and his mother when Obama was only 2, was a black non-practicing Muslim from Kenya. Obama was born in Hawaii (www.factcheck.org/, run by the conservative Republican Annenberg Foundation, has seen and verified the birth certificate as authentic), and was named after his father, including his middle name of Hussein. During his early youth, he briefly attended both Muslim and Catholic schools in Indonesia. He was partly raised in Kansas by his white grandparents, and was raised as a Christian. His name and unique background, plus his limited national track record, have caused some cynical and ignorant conservatives angst. They wrongly believe he is a Muslim and would compromise our national values or sell us out. These fearful, suspicion-laden types ignore the fact that he has done almost everything RIGHT in his life and his story embodies the American dream. He should be applauded rather than condemned for his life style and choices. He went through college, attended Harvard Law School, and was even President of the Harvard Law Review. Instead of grabbing an easily-obtainable cushy corporate law job after college, he decided instead to unselfishly help poor and minority victims of plant closings on Chicago's south side by becoming a community organizer. This was for very low pay, but it helped these people find other work and showed them ways to take part in and get the system to work for them. In the mid '90s, he ran for Illinois state office, was elected, and in 2004 was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he has continued his fight for "the little guy," a fight he is now attempting to wage from the White House. He married and fathered two young girls and became a member of a Christian church in Chicago. His then-pastor, Jeremiah Wright, is well known in religious circles for a long and distinguished career in Christian charity. But this minister made some remarks critical of the United States, its role in the world, and its inaction on poverty which were controversial and at times over the top. This unfortunately cast a shadow on Obama himself, particularly among cynical right-wingers, who were looking for something negative to throw at him anyway, and has made them question his patriotism. But no one can question Obama's devotion to help those without a real voice. Like JFK in the 1960s, Obama has reached out to the young and disenfranchised and has inspired a huge wave of them to become involved in our political process. He is tremendously reasoned, articulate, and an inspirational and charismatic speaker. His economic policies aim to provide opportunity from the bottom up and stand in stark contrast to the neocon Republican preference for aiding the wealthy while basically ignoring everyone else. With roughly 1 in 7 of us uninsured or underinsured and health costs steadily rising, he has developed a national health insurance plan to get EVERYBODY insured. He has demonstrated broad vision amd tremendous understanding of economic, military, and world affairs strategy. He prefers to build consensus and be inclusive rather than resorting to divisiveness and exclusion. His economic plan provides much-needed tax relief for the middle class and poor, the backbone of our economy, and his health care plan aims at universality and cost control, much like the rest of the industrialized world has enjoyed for many years. He was absolutely correct in his initial opposition to the Iraq war, and for all the right reasons. He draws advice from a wide array of superb, proven sources like Warren Buffett, Robert Reich, Joe Biden, Robert Rubin, and many others. Republican military and foreign affairs expert COLIN POWELL HAS EVEN ENDORSED HIM, as have Republicans like Susan Eisenhower, Scott McClellan, and a number of others. All cite his intellect and steady, composed manner of studying and dealing with problems as an important reason for their support. Were OBAMA to die in office, he would, unlike McCain, leave the country in very good hands. Experienced and competent Joe Biden would become President, and the cabinet would be filled with able and proven producers not of the disastrous neocon realm.

Obama has expressed the strong desire to revamp our federal government, cut out inefficient programs, and greatly reduce the power and influence of special interests lobbyists. He has pledged to return the Judicial branch to its pre-Bush nonpartisan status. Obama is pro-choice, which concerns me because I view abortion on demand as a form of murder for convenience. But I am encouraged greatly by the fact that he is pledged to provide much better sex education and will push strongly for other alternatives to abortion. He is devoted to important quality of life issues like higher wages, better educational opportunities, and health care for all, not just the privileged few. I find that, for all of these reasons, Barack Obama is the better choice for President, and so I hereby endorse BARACK OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT. But there is one more very important reason I do this.

The United States, more often than any other country in the world, is looked up to for its opportunity and moral leadership. How, I ask, can we rightfully and convincingly claim to be bastion of morality and opportunity if we deny a candidate the office of President solely because of his or her ancestry, race, gender, or creed? We demonstrated religious tolerance by electing a Catolic, JFK, President in 1960. After a past history of slavery, bigotry, and civil rights strife, we can now demonstrate racial tolerance by electing our first black President. I CHOOSE BARACK OBAMA NOT JUST BECAUSE HE IS BLACK, BUT BECAUSE HE IS A VERY COMPETENT, INTELLIGENT, FAIR-MINDED AND ENERGETIC PERSON WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE BLACK.

Electing a qualified black man President will send a powerful signal across the entire globe: The United States is TRULY an open and desirable country, where freedom, opportunity, and equality really DO exist for ALL! Though Christian and American, Obama is viewed with curiosity and interest by many moderates throughout the Muslim world. What better way to demonstrate to the Muslim peoples that America is NOT the "great Satan" which many of their extremists portray us as, than to elect Obama President? As evidenced in my blog from last week, Europeans and others view Obama as a unique type of "world citizen" which appeals to them. But last, and definitely not least, electing Obama will prove a powerful blessing to our own black citizens. It will prove they are NOT automatically shut out of our system. It will raise the bar for them and inspire them to take part in and contribute to America as never before. It will show they really BELONG are truly VALUED for their intelligence and vision, not merely for their athletic ability or entertainment purposes.

This is why I say "ELECT BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENT ON NOVEMBER 4!" Thank you.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

US ELECTION: A BRITISH VIEW

REMEMBER TO VISIT www.factcheck.org/ REGULARLY TO CHECK ON THE ACCURACY OF ALL THE POLITICAL ADS YOU SEE AND HEAR!

We don't often have a chance to see what others outside our country have to say about our elections. I thank my sharp young Canadian friend Erin Moneypenny for sharing this revealing and interesting editorial by Jonathan Freedland in a recent issue of the British newspaper, "The Guardian." This paper is read by a large number of their ruling Labour Party voters. Freedland writes...

"If Sarah Palin defies the conventional wisdom that says elections are determined by the top of the ticket, and somehow wins this for McCain, what will be the reaction? Yes, blue-state America will go into mourning once again, feeling estranged in its own country. A generation of young Americans - who back Obama in big numbers - will turn cynical, concluding that politics doesn't work after all. And, most depressing, many African-Americans will decide that if even Barack Obama with all his conspicuous gifts could not win, then no black man can ever be elected president.

But what of the rest of the world? This is the reaction I fear most. For Obama has stirred an excitement around the globe unmatched by any American politician in living memory. Polling in Germany, France, Britain, and Russia shows that Obama would win by whopping majorities, with the pattern repeated in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. If November 4 were a global ballot, Obama would win it handsomely. If the free world could choose its leader, it would be Barack Obama.

The crowd of 200,000 that rallied to hear him in Berlin in July did so not only because of his charisma, but also because they know he, like the majority of the world's population, opposed the Iraq war. McCain supported it, peddling the lie that Saddam was linked to 9/11.

Non-Americans sense that Obama will not ride roughshod over the international system but will treat alliances and global institutions seriously: McCain wants to bypass the United Nations in favour of a US-friendly League of Democracies. McCain might talk a good game on climate change, but a repeated floor chant at the Republican convention was 'Drill, baby, drill,' as if the solution to global warming were not a radical rethink of the US's entire energy system but more offshore oil rigs.

If Americans choose McCain, they will be turning their back on the rest of the world, choosing to show us four more years of the Bush-Cjeney finger. And I predict a deeply unpleasant shift.

Until now, anti-Americanism has been exaggerated and much misunderstood: outside a leftist hardcore, it has mostly been anti-Bushism, opposition to this specific administration. But if McCain wins in November, this may well change.

Suddenly, Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is not with only one ruling clique, but with Americans themselves. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once-in-a-generation chance for a fresh start - a fresh start the world is yearning for.

And the manner of that decision will matter, too. If it is deemed to have been about race - that Obama was rejected because of his colour - the world's verdict will be harsh. In that circumstance, Slate's Jacob Weisberg wrote recently, international opinion would conclude that 'the United States had its day, but in the end couldn't put its own self-interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race'.

Even if it's not ethnic prejudice, but some other aspect of the culture wars, that proves decisive, the point still holds. For America to make a decision as grave as this one - while the planet boils and with the US fighting two wars - on the trivial basis that a hockey mom is likeable and seems down to earth, would be to convey a lack of seriousness, a fleeing from reality, that does indeed suggest a nation in, to quote Weisberg, 'historical decline'. Let's not forget, McCain's campaign manager boasts that this election is 'not about the issues.'

Of course I know that even to mention Obama's support around the world is to hurt him. Incredibly, that large Berlin crowd damaged Obama at home, branding him the 'candidate of Europe' and making him seem less of a patriotic American. But what does that say about today's America, that the world's esteem is now unwanted? If Americans reject Obama, they will be sending the clearest possible message to the rest of us - and, make no mistake, we shall hear it."

WOW---pretty thought-provoking! What are your thoughts on this, readers?


NEXT WEEK: MY ENDORSEMENT FOR PRESIDENT!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

BEWARE: THE FRUITCAKES ARE OUT!

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Beware: The fruitcakes are out. In abundance. Now what am I talking about? Just look at some of the loony extremists attending recent Palin/McCain rallies. They are wackos! These are vicious, angry, mouthy, frustrated, thoughtless, intolerant, ill-informed people. They represent the worst, darkest, most fanatical elements of the far-right reactionary segment of today's much-too-socially-conservative Republican Party. These people are fearful and full of hate. They are on a hunt for scapegoats and are hungry for persecution. They are suspicious and mistrustful, and are irrationally focusing their sights on Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and other prominent Democrats. These hard-hearted misfits are reminiscent of Hitler's brown-shirted SA Storm Troopers in Nazi Germany, circa early-mid 1930s. They are the types of small-minded and fearful individuals who have burned books, and even their opponents at the stake in previous eras. Many call themselves Christians and believe it is their sacred duty to combat all that they view as evil. I question the authenticity of their Christianity, though, for Christ NEVER advocated attacking or killing other people! The strongest action HE ever undertook was overturning the money-changers' tables at the Temple. The rage today's far-right fanatics express is psychotic. They must be held in check before they begin widespread attacks on those not meeting their approval. In effect, they advocate a new Dark Ages in American politics. But they are UN-American and MUST be defeated on November 4 and kept out of power!

Immature, irresponsible, and cynical politicians like the ever-opportunistic demagogue Sarah Palin, and her now mean-spirited running mate John McCain, are recklessly stirring up these fanatics with non-stop negative campaigning. They infer Barack Obama associates with "domestic terrorists" and is funded by Palestinian radicals. They say he follows preachers who "hate America", and many of these McCain/Palin followers make a point of mentioning Obama's middle name, Hussein, as though that in itself makes him suspect and somehow less American. Whereas Obama's approach has been to rightfully attack on issues and positions, the McCain camp has been practicing a deliberate and coordinated use of the politics of personal attack and character assassination. This repeated fanning of the flames of fear and hatred has incited their crowds to extreme reactions. This is the politics of witchhunt and destruction, not honest discussion and consensus-building. Just this week, after Palin made her ridiculous "domestic terrorist" charge at Obama, cries of "terrorist!" and "kill him!" were heard coming from the crowd. At a McCain rally in Lakeville, MN, a raging misguided man shouted out, "I'm MAD! Obama and Pelosi are pushing us down the road to socialism"! Another one asked, "Why can't we just line these people up"? One idiot woman even said, "I don't trust Obama. He's an Arab"! That very same crowd even BOOED McCain when he tried to set the matter straight on Obama! And, at a re-election rally in Georgia for Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss (the same one who unseated paraplegic war hero Max Cleland a few years ago by claiming that Cleland was "soft on terrorism"), one crazy woman yelled out, "Bomb Obama"! Clearly, this calculated use of negative campaigning by the McCain camp has gotten way out of control.

Occurrences like these appear to lend a lot of credence to my claim 2 weeks ago that we may be heading down the path to FASCISM rather than socialism. I seem to be hearing the march of jack boots coming ever closer. What are YOUR thoughts on this out there, people? Just click on comments right below this blog. You don't have to identify yourself. Use a pseudonym if you like. Thank you.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

ARE WE SOCIALIST?

REMEMBER TO VISIT www.factcheck.org/ REGULARLY TO CHECK ON THE ACCURACY OF ALL THE POLITICAL ADS YOU SEE AND HEAR!

"From each according to his ability; to each according to his need."
- Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875

"The needs of the many far outweigh the wants of the few."
- Star Trek's Mr. Spock


Is the United States a socialist country? Are we heading in the direction of socialism? We hear claims of this from time to time, but is it true? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, socialism is defined as "1 any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods 2 a system...in which there is no private property 3 a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done."

Karl Marx, the father of communism, outlined a number of changes in humankind's economic and governmental development. His advocated goal, communism, would be achieved when humankind would live in peace and harmony and would work together for the common good to share equally all that was produced. In other words, people would work according to their strength, talent, and education or skill level, and do so with the mindset that what they were working on or producing would be for everybody's benefit instead of only their own individual wealth or standing. Everybody would take from the goods produced according to their own needs. Because everyone was working toward and looking out for everyone's benefit as a whole, everybody would have all that they need and no one would try to hoard, or dominate or control anyone else. All would be provided for and happy with this utopic heaven on earth. Marx condemned our current state of capitalism for its way of having the rich dominate and control the poor and even use them so as to make money off of them. He pointed out that wealthy land and business owners created laws for their own benefit and even used religion to keep those beneath them docile, in an effort to maintain control over these poor and working people. He predicted that the poor and workers would eventually rise up to overcome the rich and take power from them. He said this long process would first develop into socialism (an in-between stage), and then, finally, communism. Writing in the mid-to-late 19th century, Marx was undeniably a brilliant observer and analyst of his time. I have always maintained that, had he been a physician, he would have been an excellent diagnostician. But I have also maintained that history has proven him to have been a rather questionable pharmacist, as the prescriptions he recommended to cure the evils of capitalism were based on faulty notions and were excessively harsh and repressively implemented. Marx's goal was beautiful, but the path to it taken by his followers like Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung, was less than desirable. In fact, it was unnecessarily brutal and bloody. In fairness to Marx, writing when he did, there is no way he could possibly have forseen this, nor the kinder and gentler changes capitalism later underwent (i.e. its evolution into present-day welfare state form) Marx was never able to take into account humankind's inherent individuality and degrees of self-interest. That is why his theory is fundamentally flawed, albeit in many ways a very good and desirable blueprint for building on.

Because of the repression and excesses which have occurred under previous governments espousing socialism (notably those of the Soviet Union, Red China, and North Korea), the term "socialist" has taken on a negative meaning here in the United States. It is stereotyped as meaning high taxes, no private property, and government control. As such, most things labeled as socialist have usually been given the kiss of death. This is unfortunate, because the method of labeling things socialist is not always accurate and has been used repeatedly by fearful conservative or reactionary groups to stifle change and kill or delay new or progressive ideas. Labor unions were first called socialist by those business owners favoring low wages, long hours, and child labor. Unions were thus unable to gain a foothold here until the 1930s, many decades after they came into prominence in Europe. We would never have developed a massive middle class without these unions. So, "socialist" or not, they were a good thing and the country prospered tremendously by adopting them. Social Security and Unemployment Compensation were once labeled socialist too because they were funded by taxes and administered by the government. I would hate to think of this country without these programs today! Medicare was inferred to be socialist by fearful, ignorant conservatives with no vision (like Ronald Reagan in 1964), and it has helped millions of seniors since its adoption in 1965. Today, every single western industrialized country but the United States provides universal health care for its citizens. Even poor Cuba does this! But here, National Health Insurance is being inaccurately called "socialized medicine" by paranoid and self-centered members of the far right who see nothing wrong with corporate bailouts but hate the very thought of any taxpayer funded program for regular people. Special interest groups profiting off health care products and services (and therefore off of human suffering and misery) also join in on the labeling. These conservatives are using this unfair and inaccurate name of "socialized", of course, to scare off voter support for the plan. Nothing could be further from the truth than this allegation of socialism, as both insurance companies and private companies are included in it.

Hardcore conservative Republican right-wingers, free trade and free market advocates, as well as highly self-centered and overly individualistic people love to call almost anything or anybody they oppose, or that has any amount of government regulation, socialist. They do this out of fear, selfishness, desire to make unrestricted profit, and to get others to support keeping the government out of it altogether. According to the definition of socialism I have previously listed, are government laws regulating vehicle speed limits socialistic? Of course not. They are common sense laws put in place for safety and the common good. Are vehicle seat belt or seat belt usage requirements socialistic? Of course not. Once again, while they may seem a nuisance, they are in place for safety and common good. Is our public education, our postal system, or our military socialistic? Absolutely NOT! While mainly government run, they are again in place for the common good. Are Medicare, Medicaid, or even Barack Obama's proposed National Health Insurance plan socialistic? Absolutely NOT! They too are, and will be, in place for the common good. Yes, all of these programs cost money, and all are funded by tax dollars. But to not have them in place would unfairly deprive millions of people of things nobody should be without. The bellyaching conservatives don't realize it, but it is their own excessive selfishness which CREATES the types of government-run or even socialist programs they hate and fear so much! They are, in effect, their own worst enemy! What it boils down to, plain and simple, is that some people are just too damn selfish, foolish, uncooperative, and overly individualistic, period.

So is the United States a socialist country? Are we heading in the direction of socialism? ABSOLUTELY NOT, and don't let ANY liar or fool tell you otherwise!!!