Month: March 2010

The “Europeanization” Of America: What Is The Problem?

Throughout the Health Care reform debate, we kept on hearing the opposition stating that the United States did not wish to copy “Europeans”, as if everything they have done and everything they represent is, somehow, inherently evil!

This is evidence of the total ignorance of those who profess this,of those Americans who argue that America is superior in every way to the “old world” from which the majority of Americans have their ancestry, and that we cannot learn anything positive from those nations that are the heritage of a majority of our citizens!

This narrow mindedness demonstrates the need for our education system to teach about the European roots of America, as this has been downgraded in the curriculum of our public schools, and even in our universities!

Waving the American flag and claiming somehow that we are “better” than European nations is the root of much of our shortcomings as a society. Should we not honor the effect of the Greeks and the Romans; of the French Revolution; of the English Civil War and Glorious Revolution in Great Britain; of the contributions of people from all over Europe who have had an impact on our growth and success; of the philosophers who helped to bring about the rationale for our American Revolution; of the many ideas and concepts that have advanced our nation because of their setting an example for us?

Cannot we learn from “our parents”? Of course we can, and that includes the struggle over considering the effects of European law on our Supreme Court, where the battle rages over whether or not our highest court should consider foreign law in making decisions that affect our future as a nation!

Instead of condemning “foreign influences”, we should embrace them as a way to improve and promote “a more perfect Union”! The Founding Fathers certainly appreciated that concept!

Right Wing Christian Militia: The True Danger To America!

The arrest of nine people in Michigan, part of a right wing Christian Militia, that were planning to kill police officers and begin a war against the government and all who work for it, in the name of fighting the Anti Christ, is a warning sign of the true danger that this nation faces.

We have the Tea Party people, many of whom border on anarchism and racism, advocating action against what they call “Socialism”, which they seem to think is a real danger to our country, when we are nowhere near moving to the extreme left.

We are in real danger, however, from the extreme right, which seems to think their ideas are the same as “patriotism”, but actually advocate using Christianity as a weapon against a nation that has been based on separation of church and state.

It is these religious fanatics, a small percentage of the country, that represent the ultimate threat to our diversity, pluralism, and freedoms. It is good to see that the government is actively involved in infiltration of these fanatical groups which are to be resisted at all costs to preserve the nation we love!

The Census, Michele Bachmann, And The GOP Future

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is at it again, warning Americans that complying with the Census will promote the sharing of information with the FBI and other government agencies, and will lead to internment camps, similar to what happened to Japanese Americans in World War II!

She and other Republicans are promoting distrust of the federal government, and so far, the effect has been that many citizens, particularly noticed in Texas in GOP areas of strength, are slow to fill out the Census forms that are due back by April 1.

The irony of Bachmann and other GOP leaders encouraging noncompliance with the Census will be the undercount of the citizenry, and will lead, potentially, to fewer seats for Republican areas and states, and therefore benefiting Democratic strongholds which will gain more seats and funding over the next ten years.

So the anti government mood of many Republicans will result, if this continues, with loss of power and influence for the GOP. And it will be due to their paranoia and stupidity, but it will be richly deserved! :(

For people who serve in government and get paid by government to condemn our government is a true example of maniacal, lunatic behavior. But then again, don’t we all know that Michele Bachmann and her ilk are a detriment to their party and the people they serve? When, oh when, will the GOP realize they are self destructive in their behavior? :(

The Impact Of Momentum: Success Breeds Success!

For much of the time in the first year of the Obama Presidency, there was a lot of impatience and skepticism that his could be a transformational Presidency, as Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan had.

The impact of the Health Care reform legislation, finally being enacted into law after a long, hard fought struggle for a year, can already be seen.

There is much greater optimism that President Obama will be able, even without a bipartisan spirit, to accomplish reforms in the financial industry, in immigration policy, in climate change, and in mortgage foreclosure and job creation.

Psychologically, the momentum of a great victory promotes a sense of success, and it can be said that success can breed success. The impact of momentum can be seen already!

The odds of Obama being a transformational President has grown exponentially with the aura and halo that has been created around him by the good fortune that many never expected to happen. And with the Health Care reform success, it helps the Democrats to minimize the losses in the midterm election!

From Alf Landon And Gerald Ford To John McCain And John Boehner: Nothing Changes! :(

It is amazing how history repeats itself!

In 1935, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration passed the Social Security Act into law. The Republican party immediately denounced it as “Socialism”, and campaigned on repealing it. Kansas Governor Alf Landon ran his Presidential campaign of 1936 on that issue, and he ended up winning two states!

Social Security was never repealed, and Barry Goldwater suffered the biggest landslide defeat in percentage, greater than Landon, when he suggested in the 1964 Presidential campaign that Social Security be made “voluntary”!

George W. Bush tried to promote privatization of Social Security in 2005, and in 2006, the GOP lost control of both houses of Congress. And yet, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, one of the young future leaders of the party, is promoting privatization of both Social Security and Medicare as part of the Republican plan for the future when the GOP gains control of Congress again!

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson was able to enact Medicare legislation, and the GOP denounced it as “Socialism”. Determined to repeal it, Minority Leader Gerald Ford (later to be President), appeared on Meet the Press in January 1967 to promote the effort!

Medicare was never repealed, and when Senator Bob Dole, who voted against it in the House of Representatives, ran for President in 1996, he bragged that he had opposed it, and proceeded to lose the election to President Bill Clinton!

Now, with the Health Care reform bill passed, the 2008 GOP Presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, is calling for its repeal, and Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio is sounding very similar in his rhetoric and arguments to Gerald Ford!

And it is a certainty that the law will NOT be repealed, but instead improved over time, and that it will be an albatross around the Republican party’s neck, as Social Security and Medicare proved to be, keeping the Democratic majority in voter registration, which now has been continuous since 1932, longer than the GOP advantage in registration from 1860 to 1932!

The Republican party, by opposing these three major forms of path breaking and landmark social legislation, have “shot themselves in the foot” politically, as it is very clear that once the American people know the details of the legislation, they will embrace it. The problems that the legislation poses will be overcome by further legislation down the road, but Health Care reform in outline is here to stay no matter what 14 states’ Attorney Generals do or Tea Party people protest!

It would be nice if the Republican party would change its historical image, which for so long, has been negative, promoting fear and insecurity. Rather than moving toward the social justice that this nation needs and demands, to promote the American dream of a true democracy, they continue to obstruct to their own detriment!

The Controversy Surrounding General Benjamin Mixon And Gays In The Military

A controversy has erupted in the US military over Army Lieutenant General Benjamin Mixon, who has been advocating opposition to any changes in “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy toward gays in the military. He has also stated that if this change in policy goes through, then gay and straight soldiers should not be housed in the same rooms on Marine bases, where soldiers share private rooms.

This has led to harsh criticism by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, with Mullen suggesting that maybe Mixon should resign!

Mixon is a three star general who commands the US Army in the Pacific. This is becoming a major controversy, and the likely result is his resignation, as it is clearly understood that military personnel keep their thoughts to themselves, and are not permitted openly to criticize the policies of the Commander in Chief, the President of the United States.

One thinks back to General Douglas MacArthur, dismissed under President Truman for opposing openly his Korean War policy, and General John Singlaub, who was removed in 1977 by President Carter for his criticism of Carter’s removal of a number of US forces in South Korea.

This controversy will certainly fuel anger from Republicans and conservatives who oppose any change in the gays policy adopted during the administration of Bill Clinton.

But the trend is definitely toward changes in the policy, despite criticism, as both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are moving toward adoption, and Colin Powell and many other military and political leaders have spoken up in favor of the end of discrimination, as almost all European countries, Canada, Australia, and Israel have had no problems in accepting gays in the military on a nondiscriminatory basis over many years. It is time for change!

Mitt Romney’s Political Problem: “Obamacare” Is Much Like “Romneycare”!

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who is seen as one of the leading GOP candidates for the 2012 Presidential nomination, is having difficulties on his book tour because of Tea Party people who denounce the Massachusetts health care reform enacted in 2006 as too much like the Health Care reform just passed in Congress and signed by President Obama.

Romney has been attacking the process of enactment of the federal legislation more than the substance, as people in Massachusetts are also required to buy health care or face penalties. Also, small businesses are required to provide coverage or face penalties, and taxes have gone up to implement the plan.

This has put Romney on the defensive, and makes his future candidacy much more vulnerable in a time of Tea Party activism. This complicates any potential candidacy, although Romney makes clear he has not decided whether to run for President in 2012.

With the reality of this ugly mood spreading in the Republican party, which is being greatly influenced by the Tea Party movement, and with the fact that, as a Mormon, Romney faces the prejudice of many Christians, particularly evangelicals, who think of Mormonism as a cult, Romney’s path to the nomination has been greatly compromised!

Rush Limbaugh And Glenn Beck Are Inspiring Violence With Their Rhetoric!

Talk show hosts, particularly Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, are inspiring violence with their rhetoric.

Only concerned about enriching themselves and stirring up their listeners, neither seems to realize that the result of their incendiary rhetoric and talk of uprisings and revolution could provoke the death or serious injury of members of Congress, or even ordinary citizens!

As media figures who attract the attention of millions of people, some of them very unstable and easily manipulated, these men and other propagandists need to STOP promoting defiance and confrontation, as they may reap what they sow! :(

If any serious violence takes place, they will have blood on their hands, and if that terrible scenario were to happen, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, as much as the Ku Klux Klan or other “terrorist” groups would be if they provoked a gathering of supporters to commit violence.

Irresponsible speech that incites violence is not protected speech, so Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, as well as others of their ilk, are on fair warning to show social responsibility and decency in their public utterances! :(

Barack Obama On A Roll ! Progress In Many Areas This Week! :)

Barack Obama has been President for just over 14 months, and there has been much discontent that he has been unable to resolve all of the many problems in domestic and foreign affairs that this nation faces.

Many Americans seem to think that within little more than a year, why can’t every issue that George W. Bush either created or left unsettled for eight years be solved by the Obama Administration? This is, of course, unreasonable, as no President or administration has had the burdens that Obama has had, other than possibly Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and even they could not resolve the crises they faced within one year and two months!

But, also consider that the long battle over Health Care reform distracted the President from other crucial issues. Now that this has been completed, even with the future court battles and political campaign of 2010 that will be centered around this most controversial issue, Obama can be seen as focusing his attention on many other key issues.

For instance, the Student Loan and Pell Grant issue has now been made a program no longer controlled by the banks to their advantage, with the government taking full responsibility for this in the Health Care legislation, and this can be seen as a good move.

Also, the Obama Administration is now actively pursuing a program to help millions of homeowners in foreclosure by forcing banks and other financial institutions to ease demands on mortgagees by lowering principal payments and creating a moratorium on payments for those who are unemployed. This is essential, as the banks caused much of the problem by giving out mortgages that they often knew could not be repaid.

Additionally, it has just been announced that the Russians and the United States have agreed to major reductions in nuclear weapons, an important arms control victory for those who wish to lessen the danger of nuclear weapons. This agreement replaces one signed under the first Bush Administration in 1991, and is to be applauded!

Also, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is soon to announce real progress in the changing of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy toward gays in the military, a step long overdue!

Anyone who thinks Barack Obama is “sitting on his hands” is now able to realize that progress is being made, but as has been said before, “Rome was not built in a day”!

Social Security In Crisis: Time For Action!

For the first time, Social Security is in clear financial crisis, as more is being paid out than being brought in by the Social Security tax this year.

This has been a growing crisis, which was thought to reach this point in 2016, instead of 2010.

Back in 1983, Ronald Reagan and Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill worked together to come up with a compromise to solidify the Social Security system, with eventual raising of the age for full Social Security benefit being 66 for those born after 1943, and 67 for those born after 1960.

This was a good compromise as it gave future recipients long range notice of the rise in age eligibility. We need the same spirit of compromise now!

The best solution would be to raise the retirement age for full benefits to age 68 for those born after 1970; age 69 for those born after 1980; and 70 for those born after 1990. Age longevity has grown dramatically, and health care hopefully will make promotion of good health for a longer time much more likely.

This is the time for action, in order to preserve Social Security for the long term future, in the spirit of Reagan and O’Neill!