Sunday, June 28, 2009

USA 2, Brazil 3

Hello Bloggers! I'm sure you're all aware that we in the United States just played in one of the greatest sporting events in the world - the FIFA Confederations Cup. Okay, fine, perhaps you didn't know, but we did. We played in it today! We played against Brazil and it was hosted by South Africa. I know, world soccer, or football, is sooo international. Unfortunately, we lost.

For those in the dark, FIFA basically stands for the International Football Federation - except the standard English acronym doesn't match anything I can find associated with it (Federation Internationale de Football is the other one), which baffles me. Anybody know why? Anyway, I tried to watch the game today and must confess that I was very happy that I had TIVO. It helped to zoom ahead during those extended quiet times between scoring.

From what I know about soccer, which are the basics, it seemed to be a pretty good game. We led 2-0 by half-time, but unfortunately Brazil scored three points in the second half to beat us. All of the pride from the first half got sucked away, but I still enjoyed it. So we squandered our lead (to something called a setup), but we should be proud of a very credible performance against a world-class team like Brazil.

I would like to express my pride in our American team. People around the world - especially our Latin American cousins/immigrants living here in Southern California - like to mock American soccer. I think today proves we deserve some respect. That means you my spanish-speaking friends - no more of your crap! Now I think I'll go outside and try my hand at a little hooliganism. I hear it's fun.

Congratulations to our US Team for playing a fantastic game today!

Sunday's Human Interest Rave - Michael

The Quiet Before the Storm?

Good Morning Bloggers! Michael Jackson's death - may he rest in peace - came at a fascinating and highly uncertain time geopolitically, distracting us from a darkening political storm in the Middle East.

I'm talking about the clear rejection of religious fundamentalism in Iran - despite the government coup, which I will ignore to make a point. When you combine it with the anti-fundamentalist victory in Lebanon a few weeks ago, the two are very significant. Sadly, they may also represent bad news. Why? I have a theory.

President Obama's speech in Cairo went a long way to encourage moderates in both Lebanon and Iran to get off their backsides and vote against the mullahs. Of course, the Iranian government helped by giving it's electorate every indication their votes would count. They even held a few debates. Amazing, what were they thinking?

Those victories prove to many Middle East experts that people want more freedom, and that things may start to change even more - if Egypt begins to fracture, watch out. The problem is that whenever moderates stand up to extremists all kinds of bad things can happen, such as in Iran. Change that spins out of control can be disasterous, such as when the entrenched leadership begins to feel threatened. The way they are feeling today in Iran, and possibly even Eqypt.

Don't get me wrong, I realize the status quo doesn't work, and we all loved it when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, but it's clear the Middle East is a powder keg and once ignited it could lead to worldwide conflict. One very dark sign is the growing Iranian-Russian-Chinese alliance - in various forms. Another is the possibility of a fundamentalist crack-down across the Middle East, igniting chaos. I'm convinced that's why more leaders aren't speaking-out. Nobody wants to be responsible for open conflict and mass murder.

Bush was the beginning. He lit the Middle East fuse with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - two places ill-equipped to handle Western democracy and the freedoms that come with it. Nevertheless, his actions started the pieces moving across the board. Sadly, despite his potential for domestic success, Obama's legacy will most likely be seen through the same presidential prism of the Middle East. Did he control events in the Middle East after Bush, or did he allow them to spin out-of-control?

You see, there is one very hard-to-predict variable. He is the very hard-headed, right-wing Benjamin Netanyahu. I would like to think that he's a Nixon-China kind of guy, but my gut tells me he's more from the Bush-Iraq school. If I were to see the glass-as-half-empty, I would guess he's the George W II. That to me is a terrifying prospect.

He's already ignoring the significance of the Iranian-Russian-Chinese alliance (a typical neo-con), as well as Obama's request to control settlement construction and focus on the Road Map. Instead, he seems to be taking his marching orders from the Republicans and the far-right in America.

Personally, I think he's in bed with the Bush-Cheney branch of the GOP, who are all pushing Israel to bomb Iran before it has the chance to threaten the existence of Israel - no matter what Obama says about it.

If Israel bombs Iran, then President Obama and the Democrats will lose their entire agenda - both domestic and international. The Republicans would use the conflict to divide, conquer, win votes and take back power. Right or wrong, as usual they would maneuver to benefit from the chaos. Poor Obama would be forced to spend his time and energy cleaning-up another conflict created by an irresponsible, paranoid and pernicious far-right.

Of course, the scariest outcome is that America could be dragged into a regional or world conflict. One clear sign of chaos would be a potential threat to President Mubarak in Egypt. Don't scoff at the possibility. It may even be secretly supported by Russia and China; the two powers who would love to see America's primary African ally on the Nile fall to extremists - at least the kind they could do business with.

Despite all my hope for Obama and my glass-is-half-full mentality, I'm terrified of the uncompromising and paranoid extremists embodied by the neo-con Republicans, Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad. President Obama and Secretary Clinton must pull off a diplomatic miracle soon to make sure the international far-right doesn't get another war.

Netanyahu must be made to tow the line. Ahmadinejad must be undermined to prevent Israel from using him as an excuse. Obama must lead and control events in the Middle East to prevent more conflict.

I also think Obama needs to act quickly to fire most of the Bushies still in government - especially those within the DOD, STATE and INTELLIGENCE. He should not trust them. They represent a possible shadow government operating within his own Administration. Unless he acts quickly to make sure that he has full control, anything is possible. This is something that has been worrying me since he took office.

It's clear that President Obama is a change agent. Now we need to make sure the change is the right change. There are hot spots throughout history involving change - think the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Kristallnacht and 9/11, and I think we may be witnessing another one about to hit - for good or bad.

Let's hope that while most Americans are spending this weekend mourning the death of the King of Pop, a potential Earth-shattering clash isn't brewing in the Middle East between East and West. Let's hope that President Obama can control the international far-right agenda led by the GOP and Netanyahu, and that angry religious fundamentalists don't light the world on fire.

Sunday's Political Rant - Michael

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Republican's Rose Tinted Glass

Good Morning Bloggers! Did you hear the latest Republican gem? Dick Cheney has inked a book deal. The book is expected for the Spring of 2011 by Threshold Editions of Simon & Schuster. It's that charming division led by editor-in-chief Mary Matalin, a good friend and close aide to Cheney. Perhaps they should rename it to be more accurate. I would suggest the Propaganda Division. Once again, the Republicans demonstrate how close ties can help them create their own reality.

The really interesting thing is that Cheney's book comes out only a few months after President Bush's new book. I don't know about you, but something smells fishy. I'm sure I'm not the only one who wonders whether we have "dueling books" here competing for history's attention. That's my best guess.

Wow, both books should be shining examples of Republican historic revisionism, not to mention full of goodness and light. LOL! You know, they're very good at historic revisionism - that's what they call it, while the rest of us call it propaganda.

Did you guys know that Ronald Reagan single-handily pulled down the Berlin Wall? I hear that's why they named so many ships and freeways after him. That and for his famous ability to fly and use heat vision. There are also rumors that he helped George Washington cut down that famous cherry tree - you know, the GOP says he never told a lie. LOL!

The "Best of Cheney" (fine, kidding) is expected to be all about his long career in government, from chief of staff under President Gerald Ford to vice president under Bush. I wonder if that will make Bush feel less potent somehow. I doubt it. If he writes about his years at Skull and Bones and the subsequent drug years, his book should be a much bigger seller. Hollywood may even want to make a movie out of it. LOL!

What I find really hilarious is the way DICK told the AP "I want my grand kids, 20 or 30 years from now, to be able to read it and understand what I did, and why I did it." To achieve that noble idea, he needed $2 million dollars from Simon & Schuster. I guess Dick Cheney would need that kind of money to do a good deed for anybody - his grand kids or the nation. I hope he lies a lot in it, or his grand kids may get the wrong idea. LOL!

I swear, the man is a caricature of today's Republican. They make up their own facts, their own history, and their own reality. They always miss the irony. It's kind of sad really.

When they finally come out both books will be considered history by Republicans and complete works of fiction by Democrats and the rest of the civilized world. It's strange, but Republicans see themselves as the principled party of strong families, strong defense and strong economies - history and reality do little to cloud that perception. It's incredible, but they soak up their own revised history like a sponge in crude oil - slowly but surely.

In the end, they believe all of it. That's when they start fighting to name things after their great leaders, and their "achievements." It usually requires about a decade to pass before things calm down enough, thus allowing their propaganda to work. The funny part is they think we don't notice or remember. Unfortunately for them, we do. We remember Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the years of turmoil under George W. We also remember the Republican debt, no matter how many tea parties they try to hold. Despite their best efforts, they're getting a reputation.

While they pine away for guts and glory, and marvel at aircraft carriers named after themselves (I'm sure that's how they see it - don't you know they're all heroes), we Democrats sit down and work hard to find solutions to the problems of everyday Americans. While we try to draft solutions to health care, energy, finance and immigration, the Republicans bitch and moan about the workload and how we Democrats are changing America too much. All the while they never realize that America is always changing, and they are always trying to catch-up.

In the end it all works. Real history is about Republicans getting big ships named after them, while Democrats quietly enjoy a small and simple plague on a remote bridge - one that might have fallen down and killed somebody if we Democrats didn't fight to spend the money to rebuild it. Republicans love to see themselves as the world's "freedom fighters," yet real history suggests they ignore problems here at home to pay for those adventures - those frequent, very expensive adventures.

No matter what Cheney and Bush write about, we Democrats - and all Americans - will know the truth. Their spin won't be strong enough to hide their disasters. Their spin won't be fast enough to prevent history itself from praising all the successes and improvements since their departure. In the end, they will be left with a small group of fans. A group that will mean little to the rest of us.

History will shine brightest on those Americans who fight to improve the country. History will be kindest to those with truth and justice on their side. History will ultimately credit the Democrats with helping Americans cope in this challenging and difficult world. In the end, Americans will know truth from fiction.

Wednesday's Political Laugh Rave - Michael

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Problem is the Senate

Good Morning Bloggers! When it comes to health care reform it appears the House of Representatives is doing a great job, especially my Congressman Henry Waxman. The weak link so far appears to be the United States Senate, and that's where WE THE PEOPLE have to apply pressure to make sure we get a viable public option.

As I've said in my earlier post, a viable public option is necessary to drive down costs and to ensure fair competition in the health care market. Did you know that health care, along with baseball, is one of the few industries exempt from anti-competition, anti-trust laws? That's one of the main reasons why the costs are so high. It's well known that health insurance companies conspire and collude to drive up costs for sick Americans.

Did you also know that health care and pharmaceutical companies are some of the largest givers to national elections? Our representatives appear to be bought-and-paid-for these days thanks to a lack of reasonable campaign finance reform. It also seems that money creates a perfect storm of DC greed and corruption, making it very difficult for the American people to find a fair solution to this problem.

Forget the Republicans, for they are so deep inside the industry's pocket it's disgusting. Rank and file Republicans should be offended and repulsed by their leaders, but instead they seem to follow their every lead. Supporting our unfair, broken system seems to come natural to the GOP. It's beyond my reckoning. Personally I'm stumped by their support of such an unfair system!

Now, for the Democrats. There are still a few that are undecided - due to big money contributions. We need to make sure they know what WE THE PEOPLE think. See the list below to identify the uncommitted Senators along with the industry money received so far - to see who you can lobby.

  1. Mark Warner, $69,000
  2. Harry Reid, $78,800 Email
  3. Kent Conrad $78,800
  4. Joe Lieberman, $72,000
  5. Blanche Lincoln, $91,000
  6. Tom Carper, $58,450 Email
  7. Evan Bayh, $66,100
  8. Michael Bennet, $2,000 Email
  9. Dianne Feinstein, $44,000
  10. Mark Udall, $43,500
  11. Max Baucus, $141,250
  12. Ron Wyden, $40,750
  13. Mary Landrieu, $38,000
  14. Mark Pryor, $30,000
  15. Ben Nelson, $106,123

I already wrote Senator Feinstein a strongly worded letter. I also provided email links for some of the well-known fence sitters - of course, Harry Reid's support would be helpful. If you want to help a lot, I recommend emailing them. I just did. Of course, emailing your own senator is vital!

Yes, I'm asking you to please TAKE ACTION NOW! WE THE PEOPLE need to step-up and make sure our elected officials do not abandon us during our time of need. Here is the tally for the entire Congress so far:

House 195 YES/6 NO/239 DON'T KNOW
Senate 37 YES/40 NO/22 DON'T KNOW
Combined 232 YES/46 NO/261 DON'T KNOW

What you see here means that we have a good shot at getting the legislation passed, but it also means we need to start lobbying the Senate hard NOW! We worked hard to get Hillary and Barack elected, along with dozens of other new Democrats, so why can't we use that same spirit to pass comprehensive health care reform? It's important for us all to do something!

If you still have doubts about the public option, despite all my rantings, you should take time to look at all the great sources available. One of my favorites (and it's honest, based on the primary candidate legislation now moving through the House Energy and Commerce Committee) is Stand with Dr. Dean - by Chairman/Governor/Doctor Howard Dean.

The site FAQ section is a great source for finding out everything you need to know - in easy to read bullet form. I also encourage you to sign the petition on the homepage.

This is one of the most serious issues I've ever been involved in. It's critical to the well-being of the American people, American families, and to the American economy. I beg you not to listen to the lies and the propaganda out there. They are deceiving you. Many of our own elected officials are hard at work deceiving us. Don't trust anybody! Do your own research.

All I'm asking is that you look at a variety of sources for information. If you do figure it out, and see that it will lower costs, create a better system, and help the economy, then please TAKE ACTION and contact one of your elected officials and make sure they know how you feel. We all need to do everything we can to make sure that we get legitimate health care reform and a viable public option.

If you wish to follow the primary candidate legislation, I recommend keeping an eye on the House Energy and Commerce Committee website - it's fascinating.

Tuesday's Political Rant and Call to Action - Michael

PS - Always remember, there is information about how to contact our national elected representatives in the right margin of this blog. I hope you decide to help out.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

GOP Lies About American Health Care

Good Morning Bloggers! Simply put, the Republicans are out there lying through their yellow teeth right now about the supposed success of American health care. They are trying to convince Americans that we shouldn't fix what's not broken, and that is a bold-faced lie.

US health care costs have long been out of line with costs in other countries. We Americans spend $2.5 trillion or $8,100 per head on health care, which represents 17.6% of our annual GDP. That is half as much as the 11% of GDP spent in France and Germany and almost double the 9% in Britain and the OECD (representing dozens of countries globally) as a whole. The world's next highest spender is Switzerland at 12%, and they have incredibly high taxes compared to us in the US. (Source: NIH)

The worst part is that for all that money America's medical success rate is mediocre or dismal in comparison. Cancer, cardiac survival rates, and almost every other leading indicator demonstrates that we get very little to no bang for our bucks - survival rates are generally no better than the OECD average, and substantially worse than in France, Switzerland and Japan. (Source: NIH)

The data shows that most of America's health care investment goes into the pockets of industry bureaucrats and profiteers. The American people are getting very little for their investment. Something must be done to stop it!

Like leading Democrats, leading Republicans know full well that economic recovery and success is impossible without health care reform. As President Obama says, it is the key to reducing costs within the American economy. As he told the greedy American Medical Association (which represents about 20% of our - least altruistic - doctors), America cannot afford their undisciplined and greedy ways much longer without us all going bankrupt - including the nation.

So, if all this is true, and as Democrats say it's imperative to put some checks and balances into the system [whatever the final plan outcome/plan], then why are Republicans so opposed to tackling the issue? That one stumps me. I have a few guesses, and none of them are very good. No matter what, the GOP is flailing, even to the point of releasing an alternative plan this week that most analysts are now calling a complete and utter joke.

My best guesses are 1) their extreme reluctance to kill the goose that laid the most profitable egg in the American economy (GOP loyalty to lobbyists), and 2) perhaps they just don't want Democrats to be the ones to provide Americans with the thing they want most - not to mention need.

The latter is being whispered about in Washington circles as the "party killer." In other words, if the Democrats succeed, and the plan works, the Republicans may never recover. What's your best guess? Any ideas?

Facts are facts! Numbers do not lie! Health care costs - as a percent of GDP - must be lowered in this country if we plan to compete with the rest of the world, and pay off the massive debt the Republicans have created. The only path to success is health care reform. No matter what the despicable, self-serving Republicans are saying out there right now, we must encourage Washington to pass substantial health care reform - with a public option.

If you wish to follow the primary candidate legislation, I recommend keeping your eye on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It will be fascinating to watch.

Thursday's Political Rant - Michael

PS - As I often do here, I ask you to please take action. Take a moment to contact your representatives in Washington and ask for health care reform WITH a public option. All Washington Contact information can now be found in the margin here at Our Rants & Raves. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

President Obama is Pissing Me Off!

Hello Bloggers! I would like to write a brief opinion piece about the Obama Administration's recent handling of gay and lesbian (LGBT) civil rights, especially their recent defense of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) and the Defense of Marraige (DOMA) Acts - two of the worst laws ever passed by a Democratic Congress and President.

I know Barack Obama is no liberal, despite what the Republicans say, but I thought he would do more to avoid offending the left-wing of the party - especially in the area of civil rights. Based on recent events, it appears he is willing and able. His Administration is supporting DADT and DOMA these days - both in the media and in federal court. I must admit, I'm disgusted!

WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING? Not only am I offended by the fact they keep firing gay and lesbian soldiers (when they have the option to slow enforcement prior to legal action), but I am most horrified by their defense of DADT and DOMA in federal court against honorable Americans. I realize he never supported gay marraige during his campaign, but I thought he would - at least - get rid of DADT and DOMA - or get the hell out of the way maybe. I'm beginning to wish I voted for Hillary!

The worst part is how his Administration is using the worst, most specious arguments of the Bush Administration to defend DOMA. They are doing a very good job of trashing every gay and lesbian in this country right now, and nobody in the Administration seems to care one wit! The whole thing STINKS! It makes me extremely angry at President Obama, as well as that IDIOT AG Eric Holder!

Incredibly, Holder claims to lack the time to push any issues we Democrats care about- Don Siegelman, Karl Rove Subpoenas, Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights, and Bush law-breaking - while having time to defend DADT, DOMA, as well as killing the case against former Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens for prosecutorial misconduct and other minor crap. Once again, WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY THINKING?

I don't give a damn if the Obama administration sees itself as responsible for enforcing the law, and that it doesn't support gay marraige, but why are they trying to piss off every civil rights-loving Democrat in the nation?!

There are ways to enforce laws that DO NOT OFFEND entire groups of law-abiding, often persecuted, decent Americans. It's outrageous that Obama promised to help gays and lesbians find equal rights, but once elected (with their money and help) turns his back on their anguish and pain, while dishonorably trashing those serving their country or those seeking marraige equality. It's despicable to watch.

He even promised them swift action once elected. I don't know, but instead of helping gays and lesbians, it seems he's giving them the finger.

I for one join Rachel Maddow questioning whether he's even serious about fulfilling those promises. Like Chairman/Governor/Doctor Dean said on The Rachel Maddow Show, Obama better do something soon, or else! It's beginning to stink! Obama can do a great deal without squandering any significant political capital, so it's now time for him to get creative.

Tuesday's Political Rant - Michael

Btw, the symbol shown is the logo for the Human Right's Campaign, where you can read their Open Letter to the President responding to recent Administration actions. I encourage everyone to please Take Action to support this issue! We all need to let the Administration know that we're angry about their recent actions!

Monday, June 15, 2009

No More Being Driven to Distraction!

Hello Bloggers! Today is a sad day in the short 10-month history of Our Rants & Raves, for I have finally become so jaded within the blogosphere that I am resorting to what they call "Comment Moderation." This means that I will no longer put up with most of the negative comments, distractions and distortions I've tolerated in the past. I will now filter comments before publishing them

Why? I did a casual study over the weekend visiting a few "conservative" blogs, where I attempted to join in their discussions. Despite their rudeness, I found myself trying to be polite and respectful in an effort to make a serious impact. No matter how many insults were thrown my way, I didn't bite back. I refused to curse, name-call, or appear rude in any way. I considered myself a guest, and therefore acted like one. I decided that's how I want this blog to work.

I created OR&R to be a positive, friendly political blog. To get back to that idea, we need to filter a few abusive right-wingers. It's time to take back this blog, even if it does cost some visitors.

To hell with the rude people! I now know that we regulars are a progressive blog community, commenting on each other's blogs about all our political passions. It's a great exchange of ideas and energy, and there's no place for people seeking to create conflict. There's too much to talk about without being dragged into absurd battles defending against outrageous, intentionally false comments.

The right-wingers always seem to resort to extreme conflict. Unfiltered, they treat our blogs like some kind of right-wing toilet. Well, NO MORE! I'm tired of their crap!

They may think they're entertaining, but we know they're a waste of time. We don't blog because of them, but to exchange ideas and to enlighten ourselves about our society and our nation. I've already wasted way too much time on disruptive "ditto-heads." It seems you were right Infidel and Nancy. I should have done it earlier.

So, enough talking past each other. I give up! They are now a nuisance to be filtered. We will no longer allow distractions, distortions, lies, talking points, rudeness, crudeness or disrespect. To that end, I've created the following rules to get past "Comment Moderation:"

1. Feel free to quote from sources, but it's important to always write your own work.
2. Be respectful and you will be treated with respect.
3. Debate only the topic at hand to avoid confusion.
4. Share your opinion freely using reliable sources.
5. Do not ask unrelated, irrelevant questions.
6. Avoid distracting from or distorting the issue in any way.
7. No "F" bombs please.
8. No Name calling and or personal abuse.
(Note: These are being permanently posted on the right-side blog margin.)

So, that's all I can think of for now. They shouldn't be difficult if you stick to a proper debate format, and etiquette. In case you need a refresher, I'll re-post these new rules under my "Complete Profile" section.

This will probably result in a much quieter blog, but that's okay with me. You see, I never really wanted a rude, scandalous blog. I prefer to look long-term.

I would like to encourage all progressive liberals, independents, and liberal Republicans to join our healthy political debates - within the rules. You right-wing "ditto-heads" are welcome too, but ONLY if you respect and follow the rules. The filter is now switched ON!

For those who agree with this approach, and who continue to read my work and comment, I say welcome and thank you! It's great to be part of such a great group of people who care enough to discuss important, vital subjects within a respectable atmosphere - sorry, blogosphere!

Monday's Political Rant/Rave - Michael

PS - Btw, for those who think I'm overreacting, I recommend reading the book pictured above - The Politics of Distraction by Katlheen Jamieson, or the documentary Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story if you prefer a video. Each documents the origins of the politics of lies, distraction and distortion. It's one thing to know about it in theory, and something completely different to experience it in person. No more!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Irony Lying Within Hate and Terror

Good Morning Bloggers! I realize it may seem like a spurious subject to some on the political right, but to those of us on the left it's a very serious subject. I'm talking about violent right-wing, bigoted, racist, religious-inspired extremism.

Recent events have left many of us feeling "terrorized," and unless something is done to send a message to stop it, we may all feel vulnerable soon.

Unless the President and law enforcement begins talking tough soon, to make us feel safer, many of us on the left will begin to feel terrorized within our own country. Their actions already succeeded in shutting down one clinic providing critical reproductive services.

That victory of theirs leads me to some inevitable questions: who or what will be next, and why aren't more people taking it seriously?

Irony #1 - "Fair and Balanced" Leads to Terror

It's ironic yet clear to me that right-wing extremism is being encouraged by today's "fair and balanced" "conservative" media. Okay, so they're not really fair and balanced. It's more like they're "irresponsible and fanatical." Today's so-called conservative media, mostly AM talk radio and the so-called FOX "News" network, are clearly out-of-control.

They seem to specialize in lies, stirring up their base daily to apply pressure on weak politicians, and I would assert, stir anger and violence against those who threaten their political beliefs or way of life. They're the inventors of TALKING POINTS, and despite their denials, the timeline and the facts on the ground suggest they are a big reason why things are spinning out of control.

It's clear something bad is happening, and once dormant extremists are beginning to stir.

Recent Democratic electoral successes, especially the election of Barack Obama, combined with a poor economy (created by their side) and few jobs has led to a perfect storm of hate and retribution. Those living in the reality-based-world can see the crazies are on the move.

Irony #2 - Attempts to Help Americans May Lead to Terror

The irony here is how even our attempts to fix what they broke (our attempts to create more security, stability and jobs) is adding fuel to their hateful fire. The so-called "conservative" media is screaming how the left is spending all THEIR money - an incredible lie when you know the facts.

I'm going to be brutally honest, anybody who doesn't do their own research, and simply believes that GOP lie outright, is seriously a COMPLETE AND UTTER MORON for their lack of effort to discover the truth.

So it seems there's little we can do to make the crazies happy short of electing a Republican, allow them to start a new war of distraction, allow them to pillage the national treasury, allow them to privatize their profits while socializing their losses, and finally allow them to pollute the planet until it's uninhabitable for the rest of us.

Oh wait, I forgot, while that's unfolding, the rest of us should all stand by waving American flags until we either die of exhaustion or starvation due to national bankruptcy. Okay, it may sound extreme, but truth be told that was the direction the GOP was taking us.

Irony #3 - The Extremists' Love-Hate Relationship with Socialism

It's true, the irony here is how they seem to both love and hate "socialism." Despite the fact that Social Security and Medicare - and other social programs - are supported by most Republicans, the fact is the GOP has confused their small-minded followers. Most love the benefits, while at the same time they scream big-government waste, socialism, communism, and their latest factual confusion, fascism! It's downright schizophrenic!

Did you hear how this week's Holocaust Museum murderer/terrorist was angry because the government CUT HIS SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS! His friends closest to him said that's why he went to kill innocent people. It's true, that cowardly, despicable piece of white supremacist dog shit killed Stephen Tyrone Johns - an American hero in my opinion - over his inability to benefit from enough GOVERNMENT SOCIALISM! It blows the mind when you think about it!

The Terror May Get Worse

That confusing nightmare, coupled with the recent murder of Dr. Tiller over legal abortion rights, makes it clear to me the crazy religious fanatics (domestic terrorists) are in a lock-and-load mode, ready to kill the rest of us. We may be at a dangerous tipping-point. Should we worry? I say YES!!!!

Think about it people! Right-wing, homegrown, religious extremism has led to mass murder in the past. Let us never forget the Oklahoma City bombing and the right-wing murder of innocent people - including babies.

It would be foolish to dismiss what's happening as a bunch of lone gunman. That is unlikely. The FBI knows it. They know religious and other hate filled groups exist and are ready to bomb multiple American targets. I'm not suggesting that domestic Islamic terrorism is less of a threat, simply that America's "hate-sponsored" terrorism share the law enforcement spotlight.

Organized militia groups may be emerging soon, and America may learn the hard way that Islamic terrorism is only the tip of what could be called a sea of hate-filled icebergs. American citizens could be making plans right now to commit mass murder on what could be called an "Islamic terror scale."

Even FOX "News" Anchors are Worried

It may not seem important, but it's a sign when Fox "News" anchors are getting nervous. It's true, Shepard Smith is getting nervous. He spoke openly and honestly to his TV audience this week that recent "news events" have left him feeling "exposed" due to recent scary emails. He reports they are getting "more and more frightening."

SMITH: There are people now, who are way out there on a limb. And I think they're just out there on a limb with the email they send us. Because I read it, and they are out there. I mean, out there in a scary place...I could read a hundred of them like this...I mean from today. People who are so amped up and so angry for reasons that are absolutely wrong, ridiculous, preposterous."

Some reading this might suggest that he's talking about people writing him from the political left, since FOX is on the right, but that's not true. He makes it clear he's talking about people on the right. They are the ones making him very nervous.

What Can Be Done?

I want President Obama to address the nation and call it what it is: DOMESTIC TERRORISM! I think he, and all politicians concerned about terror, should treat it more seriously, and instruct law enforcement to focus on it as much as Islamic terrorism. That would send a serious message.

I also think the right-wing media needs to stop talking tough, to calm some their flock. They need to begin by admitting they were wrong when they forced Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to apologize for signing off on a report predicting an increase in right-wing threats.

Most important, they need to admit internally they're at least part of the problem, and take action to mitigate it.

They need to do whatever they can to prevent any possible murder by talking more about the anti-American nature of domestic terrorism. They have the power to send a serious message to the crazies out there - distancing themselves from the "talking nuts" like Coulter and company would be a great first step!

Let's hope they act before the next murder, or worse, murders. I am a big fan of President Obama, and I realize that he has more to do than any president in modern times, but I still think he needs to act now on this issue too. We need him to spur law enforcement to do more before it's too late.

Final Irony # 4 - It's Clear We're Less Safe Today

If you thought I was going to agree with Dick Cheney you are sadly mistaken. No, the final irony involves George Bush and the Republican "war on terror." Ironically, as many in law enforcement warned, it's now clear that our focus on terror may have helped ignite extremism around the world, as well as within our own country.

We know it's true overseas, but domestically we're still in a wait and see mode. That needs to change. We need to act now! Let's admit that extremism breeds extremism - hate and war breeds hate and war. President Obama was right in Cairo. It is time we (Muslims and Westerners) learn from our mistakes of the past, and find new solutions to the problems that lead to extremism.

Thursday's Political Rant - Michael

PS - Feel free to check out this post and the heated debate with it going on over at Papamoka Straight Talk. I also recommend an earlier OR&R post that details our federal debt - it's recommended reading for our stuck-in-the-mud Republican friends.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Republican Spectacle of 2009

Good Morning Bloggers! I must say it's extraordinary to watch the Republicans these days. It's the talk of the political world, so let's add our voices to the gossip flying around about the GOP's current campaign of shock and awe.

We all know it's easier to herd cats than to get Democrats to agree, but I always thought the Republicans were the disciplined party. They always seemed willing to sacrifice individual expression for party unity.

Well, I guess not during a serious power struggle, like the GOP of 2009. It's incredible to watch, but there's no doubt they are deep in battle, with no end in sight. They are all busy forming strange alliances among elected officials, party loyalists and special interest groups. Unlike past Democratic power struggles, to me the GOP equivalent seems brutal, almost Roman-like in spectacle!

The GOP elite are all jockeying for favor among a small group of fantatical die-hards. This donation-friendly fringe of Republican radicals seem to hold all the power, and they seem to be enjoying the blood sport - at least for now. People like Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich are all on a feeding frenzy, all benefiting from the party's perceived lust for senseless change. Don't forget the "Tea Baggers?"

Interestingly, the GOP's current power struggle doesn't seem to be about new ideas. Instead, it seems to be about power and control.

They do have one thing in common. They're all driven by an absurd belief that President Obama is a radical socialist - or worse, a fascist. There's no doubt they're all singing that idiotic tune to their messianic masses. Painting Obama as "Tyrant and Chief" has become the equivalent of the GOP spiking the public punch - they see it as harmless, but it could come back to bite them.

The battle for party power is now primarily among and between the former disgraced House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the former corrupt Vice President Dick Cheney, the current "Moron and Chief" Sarah Palin, and the "Mormon Mannequin" Mitt Romney. The lesser crazies like Huckabee, Paul, Palwenty and Jindal are all waiting in the wings. The spectacle is quite entertaining. I can't wait to see what happens prior to the next election.

Their spectacle has started to make the Democratic power struggles of the past 10 years look like a walk in the park.

Their latest embarrassment unfolded this week when Sarah Palin was told that she would not be allowed to speak at a major GOP fundraiser. There are plenty of rumors flying about as to why Palin was snubbed, but the best is that Newt Gingrich (and his influential Capitol Hill supporters) wanted her for fundraising purposes only. God forbid they allow her to speak! Now that is funny!

The fur is now flying between Gingrich, Palin and a whole group of Republicans, all competing for loyalties - it's getting downright tribal. The far right rank-and-file seem to love Sarah Palin, while party leaders like McCain and Steele see her only as useful blank check. It's fun to watch them all use each other. The whole thing is downright hilarious!

While all this is going on the party continues to shrink. Loyalties are splintering throughout the party, and it's certain party moderates are beginning to question going solo, or independent.

Party moderates seem to be hoping for a savior - like a modern Ronald Reagan - yet few are holding their breath. Most are fighting to hold back scandal like the one that knocked out Arlen Specter, a victim of the far right's Club for Growth. It's wild, but unless something changes soon, the GOP will most likely lose badly in the upcoming 2012 elections.

Finally, the most shocking part of their spectacle seems to be a distinct lack of new ideas. They are beating the same old ant-government, anti-tax drums they've been beating since Ronald Reagan. They seem to think it will work, but it's pretty clear to the rest of us they need to learn from their mistakes and move on.

Instead of fighting to please their radical base, acting like stuck-in-the-mud lunatics, an honest Republican needs to emerge with good ideas to help average Americans. That individual needs to drop the fear mongering and hate speech, tell the truth, and focus on solving real problems for real people - not just the rich. Unless somebody like that emerges, the GOP may simply fade away.

Tuesday's Political Rave - Michael

PS - Feel free to check out this post and the heated debate with it going on over at Papamoka Straight Talk. There are over 40 comments so far.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Before and After D-Day

Happy Saturday Bloggers! I would like to personally honor the men and women who fought and served on D-Day to help liberate Europe 65 years ago today. I believe that we owe our freedom and our nation's survival to each and every one of them, and so I too honor their esteemed full measure of bravery and self-sacrifice.

President Obama delivered another eye-watering speech, this time at the American Memorial at Omaha Beach in France. Once again, he spoke eloquently about sacrifice and history, and his words were poignant and powerful in the way they honored the heroes of D-Day. We should remember those killed in battle, those who died since, and those who survive today. I hope you join me in honoring them all.

World War II, symbolized so well by important events like D-Day, was a critical time in our history for so many reasons. The biggest, and most obvious, was the battle to defeat global fascism - or what I like to call the far right gone mad! Most historians agree that World War II represented a new beginning in American history.

America Before World War II

It's important to put it all into perspective, so I hope you don't mind if I go on a little historical rant for a brief time. I hope you can bear with me. :)

Our nation survived numerous conflicts up until that period, but most were political wars involving land acquisition. Think about it, except for the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 involving our fight for freedom against the English Crown, the Indian, Mexican, Civil, Spanish-American, First World and Second Iraq Wars were all based on either manifest destiny and/or commerce. I admit I consider the Vietnam, First Iraq and Afghan conflicts unique, and too complicated for this one essay.

However, it's valid to point out, and plausible to assert, that Bush's Second Iraq War was similar to many of those 19th century wars. They were all fought to assure American hegemony and were - for the most part - wars of choice. Wow, it's weird to say, but it seems true.

Unless you prove me wrong, and I admit I'm no historian, it seems to me that America has fought many "wars of choice." Though most manifest-destiny-motivated-American-patriots would dispute that assertion, I don't see why I can't make it.

America didn't have to go West. The North didn't have to fight the South. America didn't have to help Europe despite submarines torpedoing our ships. We could have played it safe and sound, like so many countries. Instead, we were aggressive, the aggressors, and that aggression is part and parcel of who we are today - the land of the free and home of the brave.

Unlike Bush's contemptuous Iraq War, the 19th century represented the aggression of a different time, when men fought over land they perceived to be empty and available. The Atlantic kept them safe from the reach of European monarchies, so they benefited from over a hundred years of freedom to grab/steal land from the indigenous Native Americans, as well as the weaker Spanish/Mexican settlers. Except for a few infamous battles like Little Big Horn or The Alamo, most offered limited resistance.

Oceans and technology (the Winchester rifle, the Gatling Gun and the Iron Horse) kept us rich and safe for decades. Europe was nothing but a collection of outdated empires to us, whose kings and queens were forced to squabble over their own, less well-endowed properties. America grew into a fertile, cocky state, filled with over-confidence and a well-earned sense of complacency.

As time went by, unfortunately for us, the ultimate destruction of those European empires after the Great War led to very dark times. Except for a few places in Europe like Britain, France, Belgium, Poland, Luxembourg and Switzerland, the power vacuum left after the collapse of royalty was filled with the worst elements of society. Evil men powered by lies led to abuse of power and ultimately to genocide - Kurds, Armenians, Romany, Jews and others.

Power-hungry fanatics rose to power. Men like Hitler of Germany, Mussolini of Italy, Tojo of Japan, Franco of Spain, Salazar of Portugal, Antonescu of Romania, and Horthy of Hungary. Even the populist ideals of Marx and the communist revolution in Russia stalled and failed, sadly replaced by evil men like Stalin and one-party dictatorship.

It started to become clear that the militaristic/fascist leaders of the day were clearly right-wing ideologues hell-bent on using government to enrich themselves while imposing their own religious, political and societal beliefs on their citizens.

American Response to Global Extremism/World War II

So, after that little verbal tirade, I return to my original point that World War II was very different. It was the first modern war fought over our very survival, when Americans had to finally face what was happening in the rest of the world - and defeat it!

World War II forced us all to stand together, face our fears, and after Pearl Harbor, enlist in a struggle that threatened to destroy everything we believed in. I've heard that everything seemed more complex and dangerous after Pearl Harbor. Most older folks say it was more powerful than 9/11 is today. That should offer some perspective.

Unfortunately, defeating fear and fascism was easier said than done at the time. Few Americans today realize just how great the threat of fascism was in the world of the mid-20th century, and that includes fascists within our own borders. It's true, the fascist threat existed within our own homeland.

It's fascinating to look back at how easily fascists flew under the radar (although not yet invented), and were often considered fashionable among wealthier circles. Both covert and overt Nazis could be found across America. That alone is different compared to today, since Muslim extremists are usually not your next door neighbor, or party leader.

Republicans and the American Extremists

Even though the right will accuse me of being malicious, history shows us the Republican Party was the home of most Nazi sympathizers within America. American fascists and anti-Semites were quite at home within Republican ranks. Despite what Limbaugh and Hannity say, I think they are still, since most of the pro-Israeli GOP are merely Christians who see the Holy Land as a means to an end. We Democrats were unfortunately plagued by the far less competent Communists - and they were the ones too stupid to realize that Marx's dream of a worker's paradise died with Marx.

So, what might have unfolded if D-Day failed? It's entirely possible the Third Reich would have outlived Roosevelt and Churchill, while the GOP may have sued for peace, ultimately selling the nation out to fascists based on extremist pressures and bigoted propaganda. Hey, it's a reasonable theory, when you consider the way they tick!

It would have taken so many years to rebuild another force of such magnitude (thousands of ships and airplanes along with hundreds of thousands/millions of combat troops), and in that time it's highly likely that right-wing forces would have taken over in Great Britain and America.

Men like Charles Lindbergh, Burton Wheeler, Joseph Kennedy, and the now infamous Prescott Bush (yes, George's grandfather) all argued against fighting the Nazis, and sought to defeat Roosevelt and the Democrats - all hoping to sue for peace with the despots. Look it up! It's true!

It's a fact that Republicans received campaign contributions at the time from Hitler and the Nazis, while corporate and political leaders from General Motors and many other great American corporations met with leading fascists of the time (led by Baron Manfred von Killinger). Of course, most Republicans today would deny their history.

American Ideals

Of course it all changed when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor - weird, but it really did wake a sleeping giant. That boosted American solidarity and was directly responsible for silencing American fascism and the far right movement of the 1930s and early 1940s. That attack, not unlike 9/11 today, powered the American public to defeat extremism. It also washed away most of the self-satisfaction and self-reliance that America wrapped itself in since the 19th century.

Of course, World War II - and D-Day - are now proud moments etched in our collective consciousness. Roosevelt, Truman, MacArthur and others were shining examples of how to fight a war, as well as how to win the hearts and minds of the enemy. Unlike today, they stressed the highest ideals of our nation, and with the exception of Japanese internment camps, did everything they could to hold America up as a light of freedom and decency to the world.

I would go so far as to compare their actions to the late 1700s and George Washington. They had a depth of spirit and humility we often credit to our founding fathers. They too struggled against seemingly insurmountable odds, and faced the prospect of death in the cause of freedom.

Reflection and Perspective

Unfortunately, despite what the GOP and Bush supporters believe, history will judge our most recent actions harshly. It's now clear through real evidence that America abandoned most of its core principles under today's GOP. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and their Republican supporters should feel ashamed of themselves, but for unknown reasons they do not. Sadly, our nation's response to 9/11 will go down as a very dark period in our history.

So, once again, if D-Day had failed, it's entirely possible that Europe may have remained fascist, and it may have ultimately spread to Great Britain and America. You could make a very good case that D-Day's success is the main reason why you're able to read these words right now. You could make a very good case that D-Day is the reason why we are now free.

So, if that is the case, today is a very important day. In some ways it's as important as July 4th, since it guaranteed our very independence. Therefore, I would like to say THANK YOU once again to all the men and woman who served to make D-Day possible. For those in my family who served (mostly uncles), I would like to send you guys special thanks and warm regards! You are all American heroes, and for all intents and purposes, you deserve the distinction as "America's Greatest Generation."

Saturday's D-Day 2009 Political Rave - Michael

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Right's Paranoia, Fear of New Ideas

Good Morning Bloggers! I thought President Barack Hussein Obama's speech this morning in Cairo was one of the most inspirational and impressive that I've ever heard, and that includes great speeches throughout history. I realize it may sound hyperbolic, but it's my opinion. I was moved to tears.

So, going with that premise, how do we discuss a speech of such magnitude? It would be redundant - and 24/7 news-channel-like - of me to simply reiterate point for point and discuss the policy potential ad nausea like every other pleb unworthy of the brilliance that is Barack Obama.

No, I would rather respond to the cacophony of Republican critics already out there shouting down the president's aspirations by taking a look at the historical impact of similar inspirational speeches. What impact did they have had on human history - or lack of impact. I realize we're not academics and cannot possibly cover the issue very well, but I say let's take a stab at it. It is a very interesting question.

As part and parcel we need analyze the critics of those great speeches. Who were they? That should help us understand motive when it comes to the critics of Obama's speech today. First, what were the great speeches? Second, who were the critics? That's our mission here. It will hopefully paint a clear picture about what shapes our history. Do inspirational speeches work? What, if any, is the impact? Are there themes of "negativity and opposition" that pollute human social evolution throughout time. They are all fascinating questions.

So, let's find out by exploring a few examples. Let's first look back at one of our more recent inspirational speeches, delivered by President Ronald Reagan standing before the Berlin Wall dividing East and West Berlin on June 27th 1987. I hate to admit it, but I remember it fondly.

He took it upon himself to describe an undivided East and West. He made the now famous appeal to the leader of the then Soviet Union (inspired by John Kennedy's original appeal) "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." So, who was opposed to that speech? Was anybody? Not surprisingly, it was the far right. It's true, the Democrats supported President's Reagan's call for more openness. The GOP was suspicious at the time.

It's all part of the now famous "Reagan Myth." Republicans like to think they were the progressives at that time, and today they suckle on the idea they supported him in his efforts to remake history. That's incorrect. Some moderates did, but the far right was highly suspicious of the changes promoted by the president. Most historians give credit to the Democrats for supporting Reagan's inspiration at that time.

The far right Republicans back then saw Reagan as too weak when it came to Gorbachev. Their fears climaxed during the Reykjavik, Iceland Summit when the far right saw Reagan promising to give away their precious nuclear arsenal to the Soviets. The far rights's fears were articulated at that time by Reagan's buddy Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the UK. Despite their close relationship, she criticized Reagan harshly for going off half-cocked when it came to relations with the soviets.

Most Democrats of the time believed Reagan's sincerity and inspiration, and were hoping and praying for his vision of a nuclear arms-free world. Many of us today see that as a reason why he was a great Republican president.

Another great inspirational speech is obvious to most of us, and it wasn't delivered by a politician. It is the I Have a Dream speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28th, 1963 in front of the Lincoln Memorial. So, who opposed the Civil Rights's Movement? That answer is somewhat complicated. Let's simplify by saying that right-wing Democrats of the time, based mostly in the South, opposed the movement. They were supported by right-wing Republicans at the time. Again, regressives show their true stripes, despite their party affiliation.

Left-wing Democrats and moderate Republicans supported it. Lyndon Johnson's success ultimately fractured the Democratic Party in the South, leading to Nixon's Southern Strategy (divide and conquer conservative southern Democrats), and the birth of the modern Democratic and Republican parties. It is a fascinating time in American political science/history.

A final example of another great inspirational speech was heard just before Dr. Kings and was given by another Republican. It was the Farewell Address delivered by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 17th 1961, and it was all about mutual respect and the need to alter the dangerous trends of the Cold War. He was fearful of an out-of-control arms race, and the "military-industrial complex." Once more, the far right, embodied by his VP Richard Nixon, opposed Eisenhower's aspirations and quietly undermined any progress.

Kennedy later embraced Eisenhower's approach, but his assassination and LBJ's expansion of our commitment in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia ultimately ended those American dreams. Still, the speech is a personal favorite, and relevant today.

So, my examples, among many other possible ones that I reviewed, support my theory. The political forces that inevitably rear their ugly head to oppose great transformative, aspirational and inspirational thinking throughout history seem to be the far right, or the regressives. They always seem to oppose proposed change. They always seem to oppose what is possible, choosing instead for the status quo. I welcome a real debate on this issue, but my cursory analysis seems to support my theory so far.

Ask yourself why do Democrats elect to use the term "progressive?" It wasn't all about the GOP trashing of the word "liberal." It had a lot to do with promoting our core governing philosophy, which is about change and focusing on the future and mankind's potential. While the GOP focuses only on what individuals can achieve, we progressives enhance our individualism by combining it with a trust in social institutions - like government - to help us achieve.

Why do I mention this? It's because I believe that - based on historical evidence - psychologically far right Republicans lack the genetics necessary to be inspired by their fellow man, especially if those men are in government. They do like strong leaders, but only if those leaders are focused on delivering one thing in various forms - personal security, financial security and tribal security. Their entire modus operandi seems to be based on FEAR and SUSPICION of others.

They are the proverbial Deaf or Tin Ear, Echo Chamber, and/or Paranoid Pete. They like to call themselves conservatives, but that's just a pretty way to describe what is in reality a human psychological disorder reacting to fear in all its forms. Let's admit it, it's more appropriate to call them by what they really are: paranoid regressives, or political/social cowards.

They are instinctively - or genetically - suspicious of everyone and everything. They are genetically UNINSPIRED and UNINSPIRING, and will fight to keep whatever control they can to make sure that nobody can hurt them, their family or their tribe.

At this point, please don't get mad at me for leaving your favorite speech out of this discussion. There are simply too many. If you want to identify your own inspirational speech, and discuss the opposition to make your own case, feel free to visit American Rhetoric to find their Top 100 speeches. You can read them, and even play the audio for some. It's very interesting.

My conclusion is that great speeches do affect change and effect history. The great men and women who deliver them don't always see the progress, especially since it's slowed by the foot-draggers of history I call regressives, but it does slowly happen. Great men like Barack Obama seem to be put on this Earth as triggers for progress. I believe that President Obama's vision in his speech today will come to pass. I just don't know how long it will take. Let's hope it doesn't take too long, so that we can all enjoy a better world.

President Barack Hussein Obama's speech was amazing. I only hope the majority of Americans take the time to listen. If you didn't catch it, please take the 45 minutes or so to listen now - click here. It's time to push back against the regressives who have fought the progressive tides of history. It's time to stand up for positive change. Let us hope that most Americans aspire to live in a better world, and join together to do whatever they/we can to make this man's vision a reality.

Thursday's Political Rave - Michael

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Potential Alliance, Islam and America

Good Morning Bloggers! I must admit, I love hearing that President Obama plans to point out how the United States is home to millions of Muslims during his speech in Cairo. It's about time! We do have millions of Muslims, and should not be considered a strictly "Judeo-Christian" nation.

Okay fine, we're mostly on the other side of Abraham's family tree, but still we have an estimated six million Muslim Americans. So what if that is less than 1% of the world's total, it's still high for a Western country. That's something to crow about, right?

It makes us the 34th biggest Muslim country in the world - behind Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Nigeria, China, Ethiopia, Algeria, Morocco, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Tanzania, Syria, Malaysia, Niger, Senegal, Ghana, Tunisia, Somalia, Guinea, Kenya, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Burkina Faso and Tajikistan.

Still, it puts us ahead of the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France, and all the other European countries that are often perceived as far more Islamic than ourselves. I think that's worth pointing out, don't you?

So, President Barack Hussein Obama plans to leverage our 34th place ranking to suggest to Muslims that we are part of their click - even if we are a small part. I think it's BRILLIANT! He plans to woo the Muslim world, which we Democrats are thrilled about and the party-of-no is all about NO of course, by trying to CONNECT/RELATE with them on a more personal level.

How radical, practicing Christians trying to understand Muslims! What is the world coming to? I'm sure George W. is rolling over on his Lazy-Boy.

President Obama is expected to return Middle East policy to a more realistic approach, based on MUTUAL RESPECT. Fantastic! He spoke about it to the Turkish parliament in Ankara during his first overseas trip, but this time he's supposed to go much further. The new speech is supposed to lay the groundwork for a whole new dialogue between East and West. It's very exciting, at least for those of us who believe that winning hearts is a strong weapon in the "War on Terror."

Anyway, back to Islam. It's great to hear that President Obama, who experienced Islam from his African father as well as growing up in Islamic Indonesia, plans to paint the US as a Muslim country too. He spoke at length about the new approach while being interviewed by France's Canal Plus TV network. He said the US and the West generally need to "educate ourselves more effectively on Islam."

I agree! We need to understand that large, passionate faith. It's the only way for us all to live together on this small planet. "And one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. And so there's got to be a better dialogue and a better understanding between the two peoples." President Obama

"Americans do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation," Obama said. Wow, how un-Republican that sounds. In 2007 during the campaign, while speaking in front of the GOP hardcore of course, John McCain called the US "a Christian nation," but later restated it saying we were "a Judeo-Christian nation." Damn, I like Obama's reality much better. Btw, once again, THANK GOD John McCain lost the election!

It's so good to see the evangelical crusades of Bush and his Republican retards have finally ended. The president's speech to the Muslim world is bringing back memories of the election, when hope and change were often mentioned. This, my friends, represents significant change. The post-9/11 crusade is finally over, and it's being replaced by a smarter, more respectful battle against the bad guys - and ONLY the bad guys.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say something that may sound harsh. I believe many Republicans - led by Cheney, Limbaugh and Rove - are actually hoping and praying for another attack soon. I think it's obvious at least. Based on numerous conversations with extreme Republicans (some sick and twisted), I sincerely believe they see a new attack as a way to save us from the changes that threaten our "successful American way of life." I know, it's xenophobic, but it's what I believe they believe.

I'm convinced that's why Cheney is talking so much these days. They see themselves as our potential saviors! It's enough to make you vomit! They're waiting in the wings like trolls ready to gloat, hoping Americans will beg to have them back in charge. They want us to come crawling back to their way of thinking. They told me in person, and it makes me sick!

Let's hope that doesn't happen. Let's hope things have changed. I would like to think it may be different. If we are attacked again, God forbid, I would like to think we Americans will react more intelligently next time - with less anger, fear and xenophobia. I would like to think we will continue to respect good Muslims, and focus only on those who wish to do us harm.

It's a fact that only a very small percentage (one-tenth of one percent on the high side) of Muslims are radical. Interestingly, it's estimated that a similar percentage of Christians and Jews are radicalized, and willing to murder for their faith. I wonder if the GOP ever thinks about those extremists. Somehow I doubt it, for they act similar to conservative Islamic communities, and tend to ignore the devils inside their own ranks.

Despite the fact that I remain HIGHLY CRITICAL of Muslim communities [and governments] who support the enforcement of Sharia Law and ban proselytizing by other religions, I would still like to embrace my fellow Muslim Americans. America is diverse enough for all of us, as long as we all tolerate and respect each other - not to mention it's critical to keep religion out of the law. Let's all, at least the ones who believe in the separation of church and state, continue to fight to worship as we see fit. God bless America!

Wednesday's Political Rave - Michael

Monday, June 1, 2009

Life and Death Personal, Moral Responsibility

Good Morning Bloggers! I would just like to say how profoundly sorry I am about the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services in Kansas yesterday morning. I realize that we have a contentious debate about abortion in the US, but when religious zealots murder in the name of God it makes me realize just how dark and scary our nation can be at times.

Just like President Obama I do not believe in abortion, and I would like to dramatically lower the number of abortions in the country, but I do believe in a woman's right to choose. Unlike the religious right, I do not want to see abortions return to back allies where innocent woman die at the hands of black-market abortion practitioners.

This is not about whether abortion is right or wrong. It never has been. That's just the way the "pro-life" crowd likes to spin it. In the same way sex is inevitable, and impossible to legislate, abortions are inevitable. They always have been, and they always will be. To say otherwise is simply to be in denial. The only way to protect innocent women is to allow for abortion rights, strict privacy, and personal choice when it comes to their own bodies. Dr. Tiller believed in that right, and died for that reason. It's a tragic loss.

If they care so much about LIFE, instead of constantly fighting to make abortion illegal, why don't the "pro-lifers" spend more time focusing on birth control (except for the Pope - he can be the lone voice in the wilderness) and family planning? If not, then why? Could it be their next, great moral battleground wedge issue? If they really care about saving lives - born or unborn - and preventing abortions - legal or illegal, there's no better solution than family planning. It's proven to prevent abortions and save lives!

They should also personally adopt more unwanted babies. That's right, that would save lives too. They should put their money where their mouths are, don't you think? I do! It's obvious to me there are alternatives to this fight, but THE ZEALOTS MUST FREE THEMSELVES OF THEIR OWN SMALL-MINDED, SELF-RIGHTEOUS MORALITY PLAY. It also helps when we ignore the zealots - I think they like the attention.

A woman has a right to be in control of her own body, and to believe otherwise - or to fight for the rights of an unborn fetus over a functioning human being - is nothing but a sociological and/or religious attempt to control something that is - in reality - uncontrollable. You may as well try to control birth control, or premarital sex. Admit it, it's impossible. The real debate is about control, not religion.

Until a man is willing to give the state, or even religion, control over his penis, the whole discussion is about invading a woman's right to privacy. Think about it, why don't we also discuss making "casual intercourse" without birth control illegal? It too would serve to protect any potential unborn fetus? I'm sorry, but it must remain a personal and private decision by the impregnated woman herself.

It's her body, and she's the one who must live with the consequences of her decision.

Dr. Tiller's murder is just one more indication that we must evolve in this country. The zealots have too much influence, and they continue to generate the kind of fanaticism that leads to both murder and assassination. It's also a clear indication that we need more education. Once again, America gets a "D" in debate, and an "F" in maintaining an evolved, moral perspective.

I'm left to wonder who will be next. To be blunt, I worry a lot about President Obama - there are too many right-wing nuts out there right now.

In the same way I believe the over-heated, right-wing rhetoric coming out of FOX "News" and similar media have led to actual murders (there is plenty of evidence supporting that position), I believe the so-called "pro-life" movement needs to consider the serious consequences of their influence.

My personal condolences to the family of Dr. Tiller. Many of us realize he was only trying to save the lives of woman. We can only hope that his death is not in vain. Rest in peace Dr. Tiller.

Monday's Political Rant - Michael

PS - As talked about over on Infidel's blog, murdering an abortion doctor is domestic terrorism (as well as a hate crime). If the GOP is so concerned about terrorism, they should be more willing to look inside their own ranks at the people who are terrorizing and murdering in the name of religion and other extremist causes.

Like the Taliban, there is no doubt in my mind the right-wing is the violent wing within our own political/religious system.