Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Obstructing Progress

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass said: “A struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it maybe both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.”

Senator Kennedy’s Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee passed a health care plan that would reduce spiraling health care costs, ensure quality, protect patients’ rights to choose their own doctors and greatly reduce the number of uninsured in our country. This was the first step in a long, drawn-out battle against the special interests that profit from our broken system. Every Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee voted for lasting reform, and every Republican voted “No!”

Republicans want to slow Obama’s momentum, destroy his presidency, regain political power and continue Bush-era policies. Private insurers are spending 1.4 million dollars a day trying to confuse the public. This Congressional recess is a critical time, because members of Congress need to understand the cost of delaying healthcare reform. It’s been estimated, that while Congress is on vacation over 140,000 Americans will lose their health insurance coverage; 53,500 will file for bankruptcy because they couldn’t pay their medical bills; and 1,265 people will die, because they lack coverage.

Congressman Scott Murphy and his Blue Dog colleagues claim, that they’re interested in reducing the deficit, however they’re not pushing for a single payer system. Most experts agree, that a single payer system is the most effective and efficient way to provide healthcare for every American, because more than 31 percent of every dollar spent on health care goes for paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, and profits.

Voters sent a clear message last November, to fix our health care system. Blue Dogs Democrats appear to be obstructing Obama from making progress on reforming healthcare. Healthcare reform is not too big a job, change is not too expensive, and the status quo is unacceptable. This is one of the most important issues of our generation, because the health of American families and our economy depend on it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Canada’s Healthcare

America desperately needs to reform health care, but it’s necessary to first reveal some untrue information being spread about the Canadian system.

It’s untrue, that taxes in Canada are much higher, because of national health care. Canada’s taxes are slightly higher, but Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, which include tax credits, family allowance, and cheaper higher education. The average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay, and in the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent.

It’s untrue, that the Canada’s health care system is a cumbersome bureaucracy. We have the most cumbersome bureaucratic health care system in the world. More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on our health care goes for paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, and profits. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with a mere 1% overhead, because it’s not necessary to spend money on deciding who gets care and who doesn’t when everybody is covered.

It’s untrue, that the Canadian system is significantly more expensive than ours. Ten percent of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product is spent on health care for 100 percent of their population. We spends 17 percent of our GDP, but 15 percent of our population has no coverage whatsoever and millions of Americans have inadequate coverage. Consequently, our system is considerably more expensive than Canada’s. Part of the reason is that uninsured and underinsured Americans still get sick and eventually seek care. Many Americans, who cannot afford care wait until advanced stages of an illness to see a doctor and then do so through emergency rooms, which cost considerably more than primary care services.

It’s untrue, that Canada has a socialized health care system in which the government runs hospitals and where doctors work for the government. Princeton University health economist Uwe Reinhardt says single-payer systems are not “socialized medicine” but a “social insurance” systems, because doctors work in the private sector while their pay comes from a public source. Most physicians in Canada are self-employed, and are not employees of the government nor are they accountable to the government. Doctors are accountable to their patients only. More than 90 percent of physicians in Canada are paid on a fee-for-service basis. Claims are submitted to a single provincial health care plan for reimbursement, whereas in the U.S., claims are submitted to a multitude of insurance providers. Moreover, Canadian hospitals are controlled by private boards and/or regional health authorities rather than being part of, or run by the government.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All About American

Health care is the most important domestic issue we’ve faced in a generation. Most Republicans are not interested in fixing our broken system. They simply want to use the issue for political gain. The goals of the Republican Party is to destroy Obama’s presidency, regain political power and continue Bush-era policies.

The American people sent a message in November, that they want Obama and the Democratic Congress to fix our health care system, because it’s long overdue. Our choice is to fight for real health care reform or allow Republican obstructionists to “go for the kill.” The Republican game plan is to torpedo anything Obama wants, and yet some Congressional Democrats, such as Sen. Max Baucus insist, that we need a bipartisan agreement. 

The Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Democrat Max Baucus has taken $3.5 million from the health care industry. That is nearly a quarter of every campaign dollar, that Baucus has been able to raise, since 2003. That money has come from the very people who are trying to derail healthcare reform. 

This is not just about allowing Republicans to destroy Obama’s presidency or the uninsured.  It’s also about those people who have insurance, because they’re paying higher premiums, which pay for the cost-shifting that takes place in the present system in order to take care of those people without insurance. With each passing day, more Americans are unable to get the health care they need. Skyrocketing co-pays and deductibles and soaring insurance premiums are crushing family budgets and small businesses. Unless we act, these problems are guaranteed to get worse.

Healthcare reform would ensure that American families will no longer have to fear losing health care coverage if they lose or switch jobs, going bankrupt if they become seriously ill, or worry about being denied coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition. Reform will ensure all Americans have access to quality, affordable insurance. Reform can’t wait.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Obama’s Waterloo

Regarding health care reform, Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina told an attack group that if they’re “able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

President Obama’s responded: “Think about that. This isn’t about me. This isn’t about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking up American families, breaking America’s businesses and breaking America’s economy.”

Right-wing writer Bill Kristol of “The Weekly Standard” told Republicans, that they need to resist the temptation to work with Democrats to find a solution to our health care crisis. Kristol advised: “This is no time to pull punches. Go for the kill.”

Their plan is to oppose health care reform as a political ploy to weaken our President and defeat his entire agenda for change. If the American people buy into the strategy of the “Party of No’ and do nothing, it will ensure more of the same. It will saddle our children and grandchildren with a burden of exploding costs and declining care that they may never overcome.

Obama has consistently argued that health care reform must reduce costs, guarantee choice, including the choice of a strong public insurance option, and ensure quality, affordable health care for all Americans. Those principles are the key to keeping our country healthy and protecting our families, businesses, and economy from costs that are spiraling out of control. It’s the change the American people voted for and so desperately need.

Republican leaders are so concerned with scoring points that they consider health care reform to be a political game, and they’re literally playing politics with our lives and livelihood.

They will not “break” Obama or the movement that supports him. We must work together to enact real health care reform that Americans need and demand.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Rush

A Republican naysayer wrote: “There’s the rush to shove socialized medicine down our throats without any thought given as to how it will be paid for or what havoc it will bring to our current world-class health care system.”

There is a rush for reform, because the delay for Congress to take vacation could result in 143,250 people losing their health insurance coverage; 53,507 people filing for bankruptcy because they can’t pay their medical bills; and 1,265 people dying because they lack coverage.

The term socialized medicine, originated with the American Medical Association, when the push for health care reform started over 70 years ago. The AMA used the term socialized medicine in the 1930s, to defeat FDR’s efforts to put medicine into the Social Security Act.

Medicare and Social Security are very successful socialist programs, which most Americans want to keep. Republicans have succeeded in creating a country where there is socialism only for the rich and well-connected. On Wall Street profits remain privatized, but losses have been socialized onto Main Street.

House Democrats have given a great deal of thought to paying for health care. They’ve suggested a surtax, that would affect 1.2 percent of those, who earn money in this country. Only, the richest Americans would pay more, while 98.8 percent of Americans wouldn’t have to pay an additional dime. 

Havoc has ruled for the last decade. Health insurance premiums have risen three times faster than wages. Deductibles and out-of-pocket costs are skyrocketing. The present health care system is threatening the financial stability of families, businesses, and our government. 

According to the Institute of Medicine, 18,000 people die each year mainly because they are less likely to receive screening and preventive care for chronic diseases. Americans continue to spend $2 trillion a year on health care, which is more than 15 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. France spends about 11 percent, and Canadians 10 percent of their GDP. The World Health Organization has rank the French and Canadian systems among the top 10 of the world’s best healthcare systems. The United States comes in at number 37.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thanks Diddohead

A Republican naysayer wrote: “President Obama takes a whirlwind tour where he apologizes for America’s ‘shortcomings’, ...”

As a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, Rep. Ron Paul said: “When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the Shah, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free. They attack us because we’re over there. I mean, what would we think if other foreign countries were doing that to us?”

In his Cairo speech, Obama addressed the 1953 CIA-backed coup against the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh. That coup is a grievance shared by the Iranian people, and it was the first time a sitting president had publicly admitted American involvement in the coup.

However, Obama didn’t apologize to the Iranian leadership. He said: “In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government,...” Being honest about America’s past shortcomings is not an apology.

In the same speech, Obama listed our grievances against Iran and the terrorist acts that the regime has sponsored. He said, “For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is in fact a tumultuous history between us. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against US troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.”

Many of Rush Limbaugh’s diddoheads believe that those who denounce our government’s policies in the Middle East are terrorist sympathizers. Fortunately, they’ve also been very helpful in electing an African America President and Democratic majorities to both the House and Senate.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Blame Yourself

A Republican naysayer wrote: “If you love and support Barack Obama and his government you can only blame yourself for the economic and social disasters to come.”

That statement represents the last hope of an incompetent, highly ideological subset of what was the GOP. It’s become the mantra of Rush Limbaugh’s diddoheads and the party of “NO!” They ignore the fact, that it was Bush, who destroyed our economy by hiring regulators who weren’t interested in regulating Wall Street. They deny the reality, that Bush squandered a budget surplus on Iraq and created a record deficit. In “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimated that the true costs of the quagmire in Iraq will eventually be more than three trillion dollars.

According to Mickey Edwards, who served in Congress for 16 years, the Republican Party was kidnapped nine years ago. Edwards the former chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee wrote: “since George W. Bush has become president...Congress - the branch that is most directly accountable to the people - had been nearly destroyed as a separate, independent, and equal institution. It seemed to many to have become a virtual rubber stamp for a president who himself seemed to have very little interest in maintaining even the slightest pretense of adherence to the Constitution’s system of separated powers.”

Republican Congressman Ron Paul said: “the party has lost its way. The GOP stood for small government, fiscal responsibility, noninterventionist foreign policy, and no nation building.”

Angry voters are susceptible to being mislead by charlatans, who ignore the truth. Anger, frustration and fear are emotional reactions, but a reasoned response will eventually be more productive. Politicians represent the judgment of the voters, and it’s their informed or uninformed opinions, which will determine the direction of our nation.

Democracy must not return to being a spectator sport, since it’s the political will of the voter which will sustain the Obama administration. Changes must come from us, because it’s up to us to reclaim our birthright from corporate lobbyist, and ensure that an incompetent, highly ideological subset of the GOP never returns to power.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pondering

Before the invasion of Iraq, Israel’s Foreign Minister Shimon Peres advised: “Don’t waste your time with (the righteous). You’ll find them on both sides, and they’re always going to appeal to the righteousness of their cause...There’s no negotiating with righteousness. Yes, it’s their right to believe what they believe....They interpret facts from their religious angle and they ignore facts that don’t support that.”

Joel Canfield wrote: “In a recent letter Jim O’Leary pondered why anyone would question his ‘informed’ opinion.” In a letter published on 7/10/09, I wrote: Frequently, letter writers disagree with my informed opinion, by resorting to personal attacks. On those occasions, I’m reminded of a verse from a poem by Rudyard Kipling.

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too; ”

Predictably, Canfield distorted my position, by making personal attacks. When Bush was reelected in 2004, I was very disappointed, but never experienced anything close to rage. I hadn’t been doing much pondering, until I read Mr. Canfield’s letter. Now, I’ve begun pondering why Joel is suffering from “inner rage and a broken heart.” I suspect it’s due to Rush Limbaugh’s ability to indulge emotions, rather than reason. Limbaugh has succeeded in creating a multitude of angry white men. Consequently, I’ve become more aware of the emotional state mind of those who disagree with me. Those suffering from this emotional affliction are often referred to as dittoheads and their political party is described, by some, as the party of “NO!”

I’ve resisted becoming angry, because I subscribe to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s definition of success: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded”

One of the reasons I admire “no drama Obama,” is that he’s reasonable; emits a calm, confident demeanor; and avoids trash talking bravado.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Unfit for Publication"

In a letter published in both the County Shopper and Delaware County Times, Joel Canfield wrote: “one of my letters concerning David Letterman’s tasteless remarks about Sarah Palin was refused by the Daily Star, who found it ‘unfit for publication.’”

It’s unfortunate Joel Canfield’s letter was not published, because I also felt that Letterman’s remarks were tasteless and very divisive. He should have sent his “unfit” letter to a weekly publication, instead of mocking my persistent letter writing. I’ve never had a letter judged “unfit for publication,” but have experienced several rejections from the Delhi area’s daily newspapers. In two cases the issue was over a single word, which I stubbornly refused to change. In each case, I accepted the fact that it was their prerogative, and immediately select a replacement letter from my website. Ironically, those replacement letters, were well received, because they were persuasive as opposed to being antagonistic. Let’s not forget, that we’ll catch more flies with honey, than we will with vinegar.

In 2005, an area daily newspaper rejected a letter because they couldn’t believe that billionaire Warren Buffett said: “The rich people are doing so well in this county, I mean we never had it so good... It’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be.” After, I referred the editor to the transcripts of CNN’s Lou Dobbs, the letter was promptly published. More recently, a daily newspaper objected to the word “crap” because they assumed it was being used as a substitute for shit. I simply suggested, that they substitute the term “useless things.”

In late April, I was disappointed that the Delaware County Times edited one of my numerous rebuttals of Mr. Gumo’s letter, by omitting his name. I decided to go along with that edit by voluntarily omitting his name in my remaining rebuttals. I completed the remaining responses, by starting paragraphs with: “Readers have read: ‘blah, blah, blah’....” After all, shouldn’t we be discussing issues, and avoiding personal attacks.

I greatly appreciate all of the publications that have printed my letters for the last 5 years. I’m confident that at least one person has discovered valuable information in my letters.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pleasure of the President

Since 1947, The National Security Act, has specified exactly what the CIA must reveal to Congress. “The President shall ensure that the congressional intelligence committees are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity.”

Paul Pillar is the first high level C.I.A. insider to speak out on the use of prewar intelligence. After 28 years with the C.I.A., Pillar retired in 2005, as senior intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005. He charges the Bush administration with the selective use of intelligence about Iraq’s unconventional weapons and of ignoring predictions of postwar chaos in Iraq.

Pillar wrote: “What is most remarkable about prewar intelligence on Iraq is not that it got things wrong and thereby misled policy makers; it is that it played so small a role in one of the most important policy decisions in decades.”... “It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made.”... “If the entire body of official intelligence analysis on Iraq had a policy implication, it was to avoid war...or, if war was going to be launched, to prepare for a messy aftermath.”

Pillar alleges that official intelligence was misused to justify decisions to topple Saddam Hussein. A decision, which had already been made, before 9/11. He claims the administration repeatedly asked the same questions, but when intelligence analysts resisted giving them the answers they wanted, Pillar and others were accused of “trying to sabotage the president’s policies.”

Pillar believes it’s important is to look at the whole intelligence-policy relationship and get a discussion and debate going to make sure what happened on Iraq doesn't happen again. Pillar has proposed the creation of an independent office, modeled on the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office, to assess the use of intelligence at the request of members of Congress. He suggested that the root of the problem might be that top intelligence officials serve at the pleasure of the president.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

“Currently Informed”

Since 1947, The National Security Act, has specified exactly what the CIA must reveal to Congress. “The President shall ensure that the congressional intelligence committees are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity.”

Some believe it’s unfair to say that the erroneous intelligence that led Congress to authorize the invasion of Iraq was George Tenet’s fault. They ask why none of the hundreds of people working at the CIA, who gather the intelligence never came forward to say anything in public.  

Former CIA analyst Ray Mc Govern reports: “It saddens me greatly that no one quit.  The answer is found in the fact that Tenet was the beneficiary of a whole generation of the politicization, and corruption of intelligence analysis. It started with Bill Casey under Ronald Reagan and by the time Tenet took office, he inherits a whole clique of malleable managers, who in effect said: “Yes, sir.  If Dick Cheney says Iraq has nuclear capability, we can write that.” 

According to Mc Govern, Tenet came back from the White House and said: “We can’t avoid preparing a national intelligence estimate, because Congress won’t vote for this war until we do one. We have to do it to the terms of reference of Dick Cheney’s speech of August 26, 2002, where Cheney claimed Saddam Hussein could have a nuclear weapon in a year; he has got all kinds of chemicals; he has got all kinds of biological weapons.” Mc Govern says: “It was totally dishonest, but they did it.”  

Furthermore, Mc Govern points out that Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, tried to investigate a forged memo, which was apparently from the Italian embassy. The memo suggested that Niger was supplying nuclear material to Iraq. The Republican Senate majority chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts decided that would be inappropriate. 

If you trace the memo back, and consider the characters that were involved, Mc Govern suspects that the memo would lead right to the doorstep of the vice president. He doesn’t claim it was forged by the vice president, but instead farmed out to a cottage industry of former intelligence agents, who did a rather amateurish job. 

Monday, July 20, 2009

Public Option

We’ve been told, that private insurance companies won’t be able to compete with a public health care option, but FedEx and UPS don’t seem to have a problem competing with the US Postal Service, which is part of our executive branch.

Historically, the American Medical Association has sought to block health care reform in this country.  The term socialized medicine, originated with the AMA, when they were trying to defeat FDR’s efforts to put medicine into the Social Security Act in the 1930s. In 1961, the group hired actor Ronald Reagan to be spokesman for their campaign to block Medicare. The script read: “My name is Ronald Reagan.  One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine.  All of us can see what happens once you establish the precedent that the government can determine a man’s working place and his working methods.  And behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country.  Until one day we will awake to find that we have socialism.” 

In a speech to the AMA, Obama insisted: “When you hear the naysayers claim that I’m trying to bring about government-run health care, know this: they’re not telling the truth. What a public option will help do, is put affordable health care within reach for millions of Americans.” 

It's alleged, that the reason the cost of medical care has increased so dramatically compared to inflation is due to medical technology has progressed by leaps and bounds. Nevertheless, other countries in the industrialized world are able to provide national health care program for their citizens. In fact, our patchwork system of private insurance, more than 30% of every health care dollar is spent on administration rather than on care. This includes underwriting, marketing, billing, denying claims, profit and paper-pushing that is foisted on hospitals and physician offices. By eliminating private insurance, a single-payer system would reduce administrative spending by roughly half (nearly $400 billion annually). These savings are enough to provide every American with comprehensive health insurance, without increasing total spending.

The real solution to our healthcare dilemma is a single payer national health care program. It’s the only way, that Congress can provide universal, comprehensive, cost-effective health care for all Americans. That is off the table, because drug and insurance company lobbyists have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure America remains the only country in the industrialized world without a national health care program.

A “New York Times” poll showed 72 percent of the American people want healthcare legislation with a public option.  It’s incomprehensible that there should be any question about whether we end up with a public option. 

Sunday, July 19, 2009

“Terribly Wrong” 

Former Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara died on July 6th, at the age of 93.  He will go down in the history books as the chief architect of the Vietnam War under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. He had become one of the most influential and controversial figures in the history of American foreign policy.

McNamara directed a massive buildup of troops in Vietnam, which set the stage for the most divisive war of the 20th century. He later admitted that military action in Vietnam was a mistake, and in 1995 told the Associated Press: “We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of our country.  But we were wrong.  We were terribly wrong.” Unfortunately, fifty-eight thousand one hundred and seventy-eight Americans eventually died, because our national leadership in Washington were “terribly wrong.” 

In 2004, McNamara was asked to compare Vietnam to the war in Iraq. His response was: “Therefore, today, I believe that we must recognize the desire of the Iraqi people to support nationalism, and we must help them do so, which means we must turn over the government to them as fast as we can.  I think that’s the U.S. policy today.  I hope it is.” 

That was not our policy five years ago, and it remains to be seen, if all of our troops will be out of Iraq, by the end of 2011. Our troops will be out of Iraq, when the international oil conglomerates decide, that our troops are no longer needed to enable them to loot Iraqi oil. In the meantime, the precious blood of our youth, as well as, our national treasury will continue to be wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as it was in Vietnam.

I can’t fault McNamara for Vietnam, nor should we blame Rumsfeld for the Iraq War. In a democracy, we get the leadership, that we deserve, and it’s the majority of voters, who keep getting it “terribly wrong.”

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ultimate Responsibility

Lawrence Wilkerson was Colin Powell’s chief of staff, when Powell delivered his infamous argument to the United Nations justifying the invasion of Iraq. Wilkerson considers that night: “the lowest point in my professional and my personal life... If I have a regret when I go to my grave, it is that I did not resign, because of course Powell’s speech turned out to be almost entirely false.”

Wilkerson admitted this during a taping of a town hall debate on torture, filmed at the Newseum for Al Jazeera’s “Fault Line” show in Washington, D.C. The debate was hosted by Josh Rushing, former military critic and now a top Al Jazeera reporter. It also featured Virginia Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, human rights attorney Jumana Musa and former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, who had run the unit in charge of capturing Osama bin Laden.

Six years after the UN speech, they were debating Dick Cheney’s legacy and whether he should be prosecuted. Wilkerson told the Qatar-based news network that regardless of his own preference, he thought it was impractical to charge former vice president with a crime.

Rep. Moran apportioned the blame for torture on the Bush administration, but host Josh Rushing pressed him to “name names.” Moran responsed: “Dick Cheney, and the poor lawyer who can’t get a job so I’m not going to mention his name.” Rep. Moran was referring to Judge Jay Bybee, a chief architect of the legal rationale for the Bush administration’s program of torture.

Michael Scheuer described Cheney as: “a despicable, reptilian person,” but rejected Moran’s effort to blame Bush and his attorneys. Scheuer insists: “He’s talking about nonsense, arguing that placing blame solely on the administration obscures the role played by Congress. Ultimately who’s responsible for everything that goes on in the foreign policy realm is Congress. They can cut off money tomorrow.”

Scheuer makes an excellent point. However the ultimate responsibility for the invasion of Iraq and torture resides with the uninformed and fickle American voters, who continue to elected hawkish candidates to Congress.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Power and Influence

The real solution to our healthcare dilemma is a single payer national health care program. It’s the only way, that Congress can provide universal, comprehensive, cost-effective health care for all of our people. 

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont warns: “The drug companies and the insurance companies have historically spent hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure we remain the only country in the industrialized world without a national health care program, and that we continue to pay the highest prices for prescription drugs.”

The last “New York Times” poll showed 72 percent of the American people want healthcare legislation with a public option.  It’s incomprehensible that there should be any question about whether we end up with a public option. 

Our representatives in Congress have been dealing with the drug companies for many years and the drug companies have never lost. That is why they’re able to double the price of your prescription drugs tomorrow.  That is why they were allowed to write the Medicare Part D bill for Congress .  That is why drug companies pay their CEOs tens of millions of dollars.  That is why drug companies are able to refuse to negotiate prices. 

With the support of Bernie Sanders, Senate Democrats now have a 60 vote majority.  There are some Democrats who don’t want to vote for final passage of legislation that has a strong public plan, but every single one of those 60 votes should be cast to stop a Republican filibuster.  Republicans have broken an all time records in the number of filibusters they’ve brought forward. 

Every member of the Democratic caucus must not allow Republicans to destroy efforts to bring health care to every American. To do otherwise clearly demonstrates, that the Republican party has succeeded in establishing an America oligarchy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lion of the Senate

On 8/25/08, Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy spoke at the Democratic National Convention. He said: “I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals, and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.”
 
At the convention, many younger delegates didn’t understand why the older delegates we’re crying, as they listened to Teddy Kennedy. They weren't aware of the emotional relationship, that had developed, between Teddy and older liberal voters over the past four decades. 

Many of us older liberals believe, that the most eloquent public eulogy ever given, was Teddy’s eulogy of his brother, Robert Kennedy. When, he said: “My brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life.  To be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, who saw suffering and tried to heal it, who saw war and tried to stop it.” 

Ted Kennedy was elected to a full six-year term to the Senate in 1964, and was reelected in 1970, 1976, 1982, 1988, 1994, 2000 and 2006. His long history of public service has earned him the title of “The Lion of the Senate.” He has written over 300 bills, that have been enacted into law, and many of those pieces of legislation have had a major impact on the lives of all Americans.

Teddy lost his oldest brother in World War II. His brother JFK was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963, and his brother Bobby was assassinated while running for president in 1968. 

Richard Nixon was absolutely obsessed with the Kennedys, having lost a presidential election to JFK. Even after Nixon was elected president, he was obsessed with Teddy Kennedy. A White House recording of Nixon’s desire to get something on the last of the Kennedy brothers had Nixon saying: “I’d like to get Teddy taped.  That’s why I want a lot more wire tapping. 

Unidentified male: “Supposing there’s something that we can really hang Teddy or the Kennedy clan with. And we’re going to want to run with it.” 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Accomplished

Some of the following accomplishments of the Obama administration, that you may not be familiar with are:

The White House cleared an important hurdle in the health care reform debate, when it appropriated $19 billion in the stimulus package to help implement an electronic medical record system.

The Obama Treasury Department implemented policies with real qualitative and quantitative impact on debt-burdened families. Chief among them is a $2,500 tax credit to help offset the cost of tuition for those seeking a college education. Nearly five million families are expected to save $9 billion, according to Treasury officials.

The situation in Pakistan was destabilizing, so Obama’s diplomatic team secured $5 billion in aid commitments to bolster that country’s economy and help it fight terror and Islamic radicalism within the country. The money will prove bring the nation away from the brink of failure and increased Taliban control.

Through the Recovery Act, the Justice Department secured $2 billion for Byrne Grants, which funds anti-gang and anti-gun task forces. The money had been cut during the Bush years, and is expected to have massive ramifications on inner-city crime and violence.

Congress passed a major omnibus spending bill, a major economic recovery package, equal pay for equal work, children‘s health care, FDA control of smoking, as well as the greatest land preservation in a quarter of a century.

The Obama White House has put under federal protection more than two million acres of wilderness, thousands of miles of river and a host of national trails and parks.

Obama has reversed of Bush’s ban on embryonic stem cell research and sent the message, that he’ll foster science and make sure that our government helps to improve people’s lives.

Obama has offered a plan to provide oversight on Wall Street and make sure the country has some protections. He wants to make sure that the financial institutions respond, because we need both investor and consumer confidence.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

SOFA

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), was signed by the Iraqi government and the Bush regime. It required all of our combat troops to withdraw from Iraq’s cities and towns by June 30, 2009. To mark that historic benchmark the Iraqi government declared that date: “National Sovereignty Day.” Nevertheless, major challenges lie ahead for the Iraqi people as they attempt to regain control of their country’s civilian security and devastated economy.

The road to a complete military withdrawal from Iraq is still uncertain, because our military has “re-missioned,” combat troops as “trainers,” which allows our military to continue combat operations without breaking the SOFA agreement. The Army Times reports that our military bases just outside municipal boundaries have been expanded to provide more housing for troops. Technically, we’re fulfilling the obligation to remove troops from urban centers, but at the same time, subverting the original intent of the SOFA agreement.

Peace activist consider the occupation of Iraq to be the principle roadblock to a secure and sovereign Iraq. Our occupation continues to fuel the insurgency and as long as American troops remain more Iraqi civilians will be killed. More than 447 Iraqi civilians were killed in June, which was double the previous month. Presently, bombings by Sunni extremist are not triggering brutal retaliatory attacks from Shiite militias, but that could change.

Seventy-three percent of Iraqis want our troops out of their country. Today, we’re in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and taxpayers can’t afford hundreds of billions of dollars for two wars. President Obama said, “Going forward, the United States will pursue principled and sustained engagement with all nations in the region, including Iran and Syria.” Nevertheless, I still believe that we should insist, that our representatives in Congress vote against supplemental war spending.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Diplomacy

“IRAN ELECTIONS: DIPLOMACY STILL THE STRONG HAND,” by Joe Volk, Executive Secretary of The Friends Committee on National Legislation

“The controversy in Iran over the results of the June 12 presidential elections should not deter the Obama administration from engaging in direct talks with Iran for a new U.S.-Iran relationship.

“In Washington, that statement is controversial and highly debatable. Why? Some in the U.S. foreign policy establishment and many in Congress believe that negotiating with Iran is an undeserved reward to the leaders of that country. Some also believe that negotiating with the leader of another country amounts to an endorsement of that leader. Some argue that it would be wrong to negotiate with a country that is perceived to be a threat to U.S. allies and would enhance the standing of a leader who opposing politicians have accused of rigging an election. In sum, they argue, negotiating with Iran would be immoral.

“In the last two years, I’ve met three times with the current Iranian president (both in Iran and here in the United States) and with opposition leaders. In my experience, Iranian leaders from across that political spectrum have demonstrated an interest in improving relations with the United States and in reducing the tensions between our two countries. President Barack Obama has begun an important process of reaching out to develop better diplomatic ties between our two countries, and I would urge him to stay the course.

“Of course, opponents of improved relations between the United States and Iran will argue that now is the moment for more threats, more sanctions, and more confrontation. We at FCNL will be urging the president, the Congress, and the American people to continue to test the possibility that, by working together, Iran and the United States can reduce tensions between our two countries, address the reasonable concerns in Iran about security and in the United States about nuclear weapons proliferation and, perhaps, even work together to promote peace in the greater Middle East.

“As a Quaker lobby, we ground our policy and our lobbying in the faith and practice of the Friends community. Because of this grounding, I’m particularly concerned about a twist in the moral argument advanced by some people in the United States that is based on the precept that the U.S. supports human rights and freedom. The argument goes that, if another country violates human rights and if the people in that country are not free, then the United States can advance human rights and freedom by a carrot-and-stick approach. The ‘carrot’: ‘If you improve your human rights record and if you free your people, then you can get negotiations with the world’s greatest power, the United States.’ And the Teddy Roosevelt ‘stick’: ‘if you fail to meet the U.S. standard, then you’ll be isolated, starved, and destabilized by covert action.’

“This so-called moral approach to deciding whether, with whom, and when to negotiate has been tried, and it failed with the Peoples Republic of China, North Korea, and Cuba.

“The United States eventually succeeded with China, when it de-linked peace and disarmament negotiations from the important and valid freedom and human rights agendas. The case of North Korea is a muddle today; we can’t say what, if anything works. Fidel Castro enjoyed the safety of a U.S. embargo and complete isolation from the United States, and, as a result, his regime prospered, though the human rights and political freedom of the people of Cuba did not improve.

“The ‘tough’ U.S. position on negotiations is really a gift to the dictator and the ‘soft’ approach is the winning strategy. The Nixon-Kissinger opening to China led to China opening to the world. That opening began an internal change process which has yet to reach a conclusion; however, the arc of that change process points in the direction of human rights and freedom for the people of China. De-linking the peace and disarmament agenda from the human rights and freedom agenda in negotiations actually results in an amalgam of those important agendas, the cause of human security is well served. These examples demonstrate that diplomacy is still the U.S. strong hand from the deck of options of what to do with Iran.

“U.S. negotiations with Iran for a new grand bargain, in which threat levels are reduced and confidence levels are increased, will lead to business, scholastic, scientific, and travel exchanges which will ultimately enhance human security in Iran, among U.S. allies, and even here in the United States.

“No matter who is the confirmed winner of Iran’s presidential election, direct talks toward a new relationship between the United States and Iran are in the national interest of both countries and of Iran’s neighbors and U.S. allies. Direct talks between the United States and Iran will also sooner or later help those arguing for political reforms and greater respect for human rights. When the United States can no longer be portrayed as a threat to the Islamic Republic, movement for positive change will be harder to suppress. War - and a continuation of a ‘pre-war’ threat will not be the answer in U.S. relations with Iran and is not in the interest of either country or in the interests of Iran’s neighbors or U.S. allies. Peace, as well as human rights and freedom, can be achieved through peaceful means. Indeed, those are the only means that will get us there.”

***************************************************************************** Today, I’m seventy-four and sick of war.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Phony Patriotism

Might doesn’t make right, because the ability to do something doesn’t make it right. As the world’s most powerful nation, we have demonstrated, that we’re capable of colonialism, imperialism and the looting of Iraqi oil, which usually requires physical abuse, torture and murder of prisoners.

If we as a nation, have any claim to superiority, it comes from our ability to act according to moral principles, guided by justice and compassion. Americans have a tendency to deny our moral responsibility, when we send our military to kill and terrorize innocent people.

Michael Parenti warned: “Messianic nationalism is the path down which a nation can lose its soul. If doing whatever we judge fit to maintain our security necessitates wreaking death and destruction on other nations; this can have terrible repercussions for our own country.”

The proposition: “America love it or leave it,” makes America the issue, by shifting the blame away from what is being perpetuated by the current leadership. Subscribing to the concept my country right or wrong, doesn’t make you a patriot.

Phony patriots claim to have a monopoly on patriotism and seek to defame dissenters for not loving their country. Michael Parenti points out: “If the test of patriotism comes only by reflexively falling in lockstep behind the leader, whenever the flag is waved, then what we have is a formula for dictatorship not democracy.”

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave said: “I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A National Holiday

The much anticipated deadline for our forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities has arrived. Gen. Ray Odierno, Commander of Multi National Force Iraq said: “I do believe they’re ready. They’ve been working towards this for a long time. And security remains good. We’ve seen constant improvement in the security forces. We’ve seen constant improvement in governance, and I believe this is the time for us to move out of the cities and for them to take ultimate responsibility.”

More than six years after the invasion, our government claims, that the Iraqi forces are finally ready to take control of security in the cities. Several bomb attacks occurred prior to our troops moving out of the cities, which left more than 200 Iraqis dead, and hundreds wounded. Per a written agreement, that the Bush regime negotiated with the government of Iraq, we’ll have 131,000 troops remaining in Iraq. Most of those troops are expected to leave by September, and the rest are to be gone by the end of 2011.

At the stroke of midnight fireworks lit up the sky in Baghdad and the Iraqi government declared a national holiday to celebrate our combat troops starting to pull out. Many Iraqi citizens insist they’re glad to see the Americans gone, because they feel liberated. Others have come to depend on the our troops.

Anarchy would have occurred, if we left six years ago, but its just as likely to occur 10 years into the future. The occupation of Iraq has been a waste of time, money and lives. We removed the stabilizing factor in Iraq, Saddam Hussein, who kept various groups under control. Hopefully, Iraq isn’t a ticking time bomb, which will gradual descend into a civil war.

Historically, as colonial imperialists exit a country, that they’ve finished looting chaos will follows. However, international oil conglomerates are not finished looting Iraq’s oil. Regardless of what eventually happens, life in Iraq will be poisoned for generations by the ignorant Christian zealotry of those that sent our troops there in the first place.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Critical Phase

Our forces are stretched thin across Afghanistan’s vast, rugged terrain, and we’ve been relying on airstrikes when ambushed. An airstrike in western Afghanistan on May 4 killed as many as 30 civilians.

Recently, Adm. Michael Mullen the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs told reporters, that the war in Afghanistan has entered a critical phase, in which the goal will be to reduce the number of civilian casualties and restrict the ability of insurgents to attack freely. Mullen insists: “It’s important to start to turn the tide in the next 12 to 18 months. That means not giving the Taliban the freedom of movement they’ve had for the last three years. They have gotten tougher, more violent, better at countering us...We can’t keep killing Afghan civilians and hope to win. It’s just not going to work.”

Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments added: “Killing non-combatant Afghans, even if unintentionally, and even if it enables the destruction of enemy forces, serves to undermine support for the government, and erodes efforts for the counterinsurgency forces to secure the war’s center of gravity.”

Gen. Stanley McChrystal has taken command in Afghanistan and is assessing whether 68,000 of our troops that will be in place by midsummer will be enough. Insurgents have increased their attacks on coalition forces with makeshift bombs. In April, there were 400 attacks with improvised explosive devices, which was a record for the war in Afghanistan. According to Mullen: “We’ve put in a bunch of engineering capability… to get at this IED threat. We’ve added a whole lot in Afghanistan in the last six months or so. But there are still some shortfalls.”

I posted “A Better Plan,” on this website on 6/26/09. A plan, which concluded: In 2004, Scheuer wrote: “Unless U.S. led foreign forces are massively increased and are prepared to kill liberally and remain in Afghanistan permanently, the current Afghan regime cannot survive. In Afghanistan, above all other places, familiarity with foreigners breeds not just contempt, but war to the death. The reestablishment of an Islamic regime in Kabul is as close to an inevitability as exists. One hopes that Karzai and the rest of the westernized, secular, and followerless Afghan expatriates we installed in Kabul are able to get out with their lives.”

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Passion and Pride

“Quarry the granite rock with razors, or moor the vessel with a thread of silk; then may you hope with such keen and delicate instruments as human knowledge and human reason to contend against those giants, the passion and the pride of man.” Cardinal John Henry Newman, “The Idea of a University”

Apparently, Gov. Sanford decided to destroy his own marriage before same-sex couples could do it for him. He abandoned his job, didn’t tell anyone where he going, and left the country to be with his lover. Now, he wants forgiveness from the people of South Carolina for abandoning his job and they need to make a political decision on whether or not Sanford can still be a good governor.

Reason suggest that going off to be with his lover is an entirely different issue. Gov. Sanford offended his wife, by disregarding their marriage vows. That is an interpersonal relationships issue, which Sanford and his wife will have to determine what is best for each of them and their family. 

The President of the Interfaith Alliance, Rev. Welton Gaddy has pointed out: “Marriage is not about submissive obedience, it’s about intimacy. We don’t establish intimacy on the basis of obedience to a rule. It’s the tactic of the religious right to confuse religion, politics, and law.  Whether or not Sanford returns to his marriage has nothing to do with whether or not he ought to return to the governor’s office.” 

Pastor Greg Boyd is a conservative Christian, and is very concerned about the extent to which the “kingdom of the world”, is being fused with the Christian faith. In a society, where conservative Christianity and right-wing politics have become married, Rev. Boyd wants a divorce.

Our government should not license marriages, nor confer any special rights to married people. Instead government should register civil unions, and if our government wants to confer special rights to couples, who are in an intimate relationship, they should extend those rights by way of a civil union.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sufficient Substitute?

Joan Lehn’s of Franklin claimed: “As for Colin Powell’s “My American Journey,” and his account of Lt. Wm. Calley’s platoon, this was just a very small part of thousands of our armed forces who have treated the natives with kindness, gifts and friendship.

Powell wrote: “herded 347 old men, women, children and even babies into a ditch and shot them.” If 347 old men, women, children and even babies, native to Franklin, N.Y. were herded into a ditch and shot, would Ms Lehn consider kindness, gifts and friendship a sufficient substitute for their lives.

The Vietnam Veterans Against the War sponsored the “Winter Soldier Investigation,” to publicize war crimes and atrocities committed by our Armed Forces and their allies in the Vietnam War. The VVAW challenged the morality and conduct of the war by showing the direct relationship between military policies and war crimes in Vietnam. At the three-day gathering 109 discharged servicemen from each branch of military service, as well as civilian contractors and medical personnel gave testimony about war crimes they had committed or witnessed during the years of 1963-1970.

In 1971; Senator Fulbright requested John Kerry testify before the Senate, as a member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Kerry said: “These are not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day to day basis with full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen... the emotions in the room and the feelings of the men, who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do...We wish that a merciful God could wipe away our memories of that service; as easily as this administration has wiped away their memories of us.”

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Upset and Irrational

Yesterday, I posted a letter by Joan Lehn, which was published in the Oneonta Star. She wrote: “As I read through Jim O’Leary’s letter, I became more and more upset.” Writing a letter, when you’re very upset is not a good idea, because it can diminish a person’s reading comprehension skills.

Lehn continued: “but as Mr. O'Leary stated, weren’t the Marines “returning fire”? Actually, I wrote: Initially, a Marine Corps communiqué reported that 15 noncombatant were killed by a bomb blast and eight insurgents were subsequently killed when the Marines returned fire against those attacking their convoy. It was the highly questionable initial Marine Corps communiqué, that reported the Marines were “returning fire.”

Ms Lehn suggests: “Also, these noncombatants, women and children could have been booby-trapped. How is a soldier to determine that? In times of war, I’m sure self-preservation is on the minds of every soldier in battle.” The solution to the dilemma, she has presented is to call in air strikes on the entire village, but the rules of engagement didn’t permit that solution. Some may recall the movie, “Apocalypse Now,” when the character "Kilgore" said: “Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

Lehn wonders: “Then again, we don’t know just how many soldiers have paid with their lives because they were not careful.” In fact, there have been more than 4,317 Americans killed in Iraq and most of them were careful, while observing the rules of engagement. The reputation of the Marine Corps is besmirched by those, who don’t follow the rules of engagement and deliberately shoot unarmed old men, women and children.

Ms Lehn wrote: “As for Colin Powell’s “My American Journal” (sic.) and his account of Lt. Wm. Calley’s platoon, this was just a very small part of thousands of our armed forces who have treated the natives with kindness, gifts and friendship. Lehn’s factually incorrect statement, to which I’ll response tomorrow was, that the My Lai massacre, “was just a very small part,” of the atrocities, that occurred in Vietnam.

Lehn concludes: “God bless all the men and women who have served in the military in our country.” I’ll assume, that blessing includes Senator John Kerry. Tomorrow, I’ll post the letter, that I’ve sent to the Oneonta Star. That response includes testimony by former Vietnam swift boat commander John Kerry.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Joan M. Lehn

Recently, “The Oneonta Star,” published the following letter by Joan M. Lehn of Franklin N.Y.

“This is the first time that I am writing an opinion to a newspaper.

“As I read through Jim O'Leary's letter, I became more and more upset. I have stated the reasons why.

“The killings in Haditha were indeed sickening, but as Mr. O'Leary stated, weren't the Marines "returning fire"? Also, these noncombatants, women and children could have been booby-trapped.

“How is a soldier to determine that? In times of war, I’m sure self-preservation is on the minds of every soldier in battle.

“Then again, we don’t know just how many soldiers have paid with their lives because they were not careful.

“As for Colin Powell's “My American Journal” and his account of Lt. Wm. Calley’s platoon, this was just a very small part of thousands of our armed forces who have treated the natives with kindness, gifts and friendship.

“Oh, yes, we don’t hear much about that, do we?

“Get a life, Mr. O’Leary, and try to see what’s good out there. You might be surprised!

“God bless all the men and women who have served in the military in our country. If it weren't for them, you and I wouldn't be free to write these letters to the newspaper.”

*****************************************************************************
Initially, I felt, that I wouldn’t send a rebuttal to the Oneonta Star, because it was Ms. Lehn’s first letter to a newspaper. However, I’ve subsequently recognized, that her letter contained a false statement, which needs to be corrected.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Purposely Distorted

In response to a letter, that I had published in “Hometown Oneonta,” Adrian D. VanEssendelft wrote: “To say those who are vocally against abortion are responsible for the murder of Dr. Tiller is to say those who beat the drum against the Iraq war are responsible for inspiring the killing of a military recruiter.” (My letter was posted on 6/15/09, and is entitled: “Agenda of Violence.”)

Either, Mr. VanEssendelft purposely distorted my views, or he has reading impediment. I’ve no problem with people using their voices to speak out against abortion, but I do have a problem with those that bomb abortion clinic and murder abortion providers. Excerpts from my letter include: some extremist have been resorting to murder for decades... an organized network of extremists, who advocate the murder of abortion providers... the only way to stop abortion is to murder providers... anti-abortion extremists resorted to violence...the ATF, who were able to detonate it without a loss of life.

I wrote about extremist, who advocate violence, by murder and detonating bombs. My letter conclude: In a civilized democratic society, we can’t allow people to use violence to advance their anti-abortion agenda to stop abortions from taking place in the United States. I’ve read that the only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

VanEssendelft suggests: “those who beat the drum against the Iraq war were responsible for inspiring the killing of a military recruiter.” That killing was done by a homegrown Muslim extremist. Delhi peace vigils began before the invasion of Iraq and continue to this day. We don’t beat a drum and have never advocated violence.

I’ve sought to use the words of Dwight Eisenhower, to inspire peace. Ike said: “When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war... I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

*****************************************************************************
I will not be sending this rebuttal to Hometown Oneonta for publication. Instead, I’ve stayed with my prior plan to send in my post of 6/19/09 entitled; Extremist, but I did get in a dig at Mr. VanEssendelft by adding: Apparently, a reader of this publication has a reading impediment. Therefore, I’ve emphasized the primary topic of this letter in capital letters; EXTREMIST throughout the letter.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Intervention

If there is one thing that both fundamentalists and reformers will agree on, it’s that the Iranian people’s long march to freedom began during the Constitutional Revolution or Mashruteh of 1906-1909. Today, both sides insist, that they’re the true defenders of the mashruteh legacy.

Iran’s constitutionalist uprising was the first significant revolution of the 20th century. It was an expression of rage against a corrupt and bankrupt monarchy. Much like today’s movement, it didn’t demand an overthrow of the prevailing system, but it unified the country’s merchants, intellectuals, and clerics in demanding nothing more than an elected parliament and a constitution. It resulted in the principles of equality, personal rights, universal public education, and freedom of the press. It was the first document of its kind in the Middle East, and it has formed the basis of Iran’s political debates ever since.

Initially, Iran’s shah Mohammed Ali tolerated the constitutional movement, but after an assassination attempt in February 1908, he began cracking down, by arresting constitutionalists, declaring martial law, and calling in the fearsome Russian Cossacks to intimidate protesters in the streets of Tehran. In 1908, the Cossacks unleashed a civil war, when they stormed the new parliament building, precipitated a gun battle, and killed several constitutionalists.

Despite demands for tough action from our government, by politicians with close ties to the evangelical Christian movement, Theodore Roosevelt’s State Department refused to take sides.

Thousands were starved or beaten into submission, and Iran’s brave little experiment with democracy appeared dead. However, eventually, our country found itself in an excellent position to reap the rewards of its neutrality. Iranian constitutionalists recognized the contrast between America’s hands-off attitude and the heavy-handed interference by Russia and Britain. They were impressed by this apparently unselfish new power on the world stage, and interpreted its silence as a form of support. When the constitutional upheaval was over, its leaders turned to America to help them build a new Iran.

Power may come from the barrel of a gun but freedom does not. The struggle continues in Iran and in America.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Obstruction

For over five months, Obama has faced nothing but attacks and obstruction from Republicans, because they have no ideas for improving peoples lives. Their only hope is to obstruct the his agenda, with a plan that includes:

1. Deny the Democratic Party another vote in the Senate, by bank rolling Norm Coleman’s effort to drag on the Minnesota Senate race.  They expected to slow down the Obama agenda, but it didn’t work.

2. Most congressional Republicans avoid attacking Obama, because he’s so very popular.  Instead, they’ve used Dick Cheney as an attack dog to sling mud at Obama. Cheney has no political future and nothing to lose.

3. Congressional Republicans have been attacking Obama on the economy by accused him of being a big spender. The Republican party has not accepted responsibility for the faulty intelligence, which resulted in the invasion of Iraq. That war has already cost us a $1 trillion and could eventually cost $3 trillion. They have the audacity to attack Obama for spending money to fix the economic catastrophe left behind by Bush administration.

4. The Republican party is using the bailouts to make the government the bogeyman. Although, the money loaned to GM and Chrysler is pocket change compared to the money that has been thrown at Wall Street, Republicans have attacked the auto bailout. They’re attempting to scare Americans by warning, look out for socialism. 

5. Republican have tried to vilify Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi by connecting her to torture. It’s important to recognize, that even if Pelosi had been briefed on torture, she couldn’t say anything about, because it was a national security matters.  

Republican have constantly promoted anti-government feeling. Now, they have an opportunity to pass health care reform, which can improve the conditions of people’s lives for generations to come. They won’t, because it has never been about big or small government, it’s always been about more effective government, which only the Democratic Party can deliver.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Spiraling Costs

An essential step to economic recovery is controlling the spiraling cost of health care. We’re spending over $2 trillion a year on health care, which is nearly 50 percent more per person than the next most costly nation. Nevertheless, every day more Americans become uninsured and the quality of care is lessened.

The cost of our health care is a threat to our economy and a serious burden on our families and businesses. Some doctors spend 20 percent of each day supervising a staff explaining insurance problems to patients, completing authorization forms, and writing appeal letters. It’s a routine, which has become distracting and taken time away from patient care.

Nationwide, over one third of small businesses have reduced healthcare benefits and another third have had to drop their workers’ coverage altogether. A major cause of the financial problems at General Motors and Chrysler were the huge costs of providing health care for their workers. As those costs grew those companies became less profitable, and competitive with automakers around the world.

The cost of our present health care is unsustainable. Health care reform is a necessity, because the cost of inaction is rapidly increasing. Failure to act soon will see premiums increasing, benefits eroding, and the rolls of the uninsured swelling to include more than a million additional Americans.

If we fail to act, one out of every five dollars we earn will have to be spent on health care within a decade. In thirty years, that trend that will mean lost jobs, lower take-home pay, shuttered businesses, and a lower standard of living for all Americans.

Federal spending on Medicaid and Medicare will grow over the coming decades by an amount almost equal to the amount our government currently spends on our nation’s defense.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Some Day

Long ago, abolitionist Frederick Douglass said: “A struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it maybe both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.”

President Dwight Eisenhower cautioned: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Originally, he called it ‘the military-industrial-legislative complex,’ but cut out the word ‘legislative’ from the final draft, when asked to do so by Congress. Today, members of Congress continue to depend on war profiteers to contribute heavily to their re-election campaigns and provide jobs for their constituents.

Eisenhower observed: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hope of its children.”

Eisenhower speculated: “If men can develop weapons that are so terrifying as to make the thought of global war include almost a sentence for suicide, you would think that man’s intelligence and his comprehension... would include also his ability to find a peaceful solution.” And, it was Eisenhower, who warned: “We must achieve both security and solvency. In fact, the foundation of military strength is economic strength.”

Ike said: “When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war.” and “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

But, Ike’s most insightful remark was: “I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.” Our military-industrial-legislative complex, better get out of the way.

Perhaps, Eisenhower considered warmongers to be naive, fools and an embarrassment to this country, as I do.