Category Archives: Change

Democrats, Coffee Parties, and Health Care, Oh My!


Distress Signal

Now that we’ve been force fed a health care policy that 70% of the population did not want, but 100% of the Democrats in Congress did want, it’s time to take an assessment of things. I just read that CNN’s ratings were plunging – so far, in fact – that some of their biggest host’s (Anderson Cooper, Larry King) ratings show half their audiences have fled. Clearly, CNN is flummoxed as well because they can’t blame it on Republicans as they did last year.

You may, or may not, remember this: In June 2009, CNN’s co-founder Reese Schonfeldwrote the network’s poor ratings were due to Republicans and “Obama detesters.”

“Why is this happening when the country still seems about 58-42 in favor of Obama?” Schonfeld asked. “My best guess is the passion of those who detest Democrats, liberals, and in particular, Barack Obama.”

CNN had one of its worst quarters to date, while Fox News experienced its best quarter ever, topping all other cable news programs. Once dominant, CNN can’t seem to figure out the mix of personalities and programming that will push them back to prominence.

Health Care reform is a mess, and the nation is still in the midst of its worst economic period in the past 70 years. Unemployment is above 10% in most areas, but evens out nationally around 9.9%. Our President, God love him, is trying to do what he thinks is best for the nation, but the nation doesn’t agree with him. According to the latest (today’s) Rasmussen Poll, 31% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-one percent (41%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -10.
Negative 10? That sucks.

The Coffee Party, in case you don’t know, was formed as the antithesis of the Tea Party. It’s a pro-government (Democratic) organization whose mission statement reads:

The Coffee Party Movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government. We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans. As voters and grassroots volunteers, we will support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them.

Which doesn’t make sense because – clearly – the nation doesn’t agree (see health care reform and Presidential approval rating, above). So, basically, the Coffee Party is weak coffee, sans caffeine.

After the health care act was made into law, some of those who voted for it stated that they were receiving death threats. What did they think was going to happen, a “thank you” from every American? Funny that these drastic death threats only continued for a week.

So, as an overall synopsis, we’re still in a tailspin with no signs of the parachute deploying. In fact, it may not be a parachute strapped to our backs at all; it might be lead weights.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Change, Culture, Life, State of the Nation, State of The World, Stupidity, The American Dream, Time, Truth, Values

Man in Moon Reports Shots Fired

NASA

There’s a classic tune by Bruce Cockburn called “If I had a Rocket Launcher,” and, as the title implies, the tune covers the things that Cockburn would destroy if only he had a launcher! Each line at the end of the verses, states;

  1. I’d make somebody pay.
  2. I would retaliate.
  3. I would not hesitate.

Hmm. Although a political song to help raise awareness, it doubles as a fun terroristic personal mantra…just insert the things that YOU would destroy and the song becomes an anthem. I can think of some targets, but for fear of ending up on some list for writing about what I would destroy, I should probably generalize:

…PETA, Nazis, white trash, thugs, certain politicians, Osama Bitch Laden, Mississippi, Keating, Madhoff, assholes, etc…

However, it seems that if there are not enough rockets going off in the world these days, what, with a war on two-fronts and promising wars in far off places. I know that in Chicago, we are tired of gun fire and kids being beaten to death. So tired, in fact, that there are rampant bumper stickers and billboards showing pictures of children that say “DON’T SHOOT. I want to grow up.”
don'tShoot2

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that we, as Americans, tend to shoot at things that we don’t understand (UFO’s, animals, one-another) or if we shoot at things that we are tired of seeing (mailboxes, street signs, one-another), but it’s seems a bit ridiculous to shoot the moon to “see if there’s water.”

The cost to shoot the moon? A mere $79 million…chump change. The chump part, of course, fulfilled by American Taxpayers because we’re paying for it.

Although I’m sure that there are great minds behind the mission, the only other thing that I’m sure of is that sometimes things don’t go as planned, a fact proven by the fact that we had to adjust the shot because we were going to miss?

After the correction, the The Age reports a Northrup Grumman employee stating;

”The spacecraft is looking great. I don’t think we could miss the moon now if we tried…”

We can target military weapons with such precision that we hit what we’re shooting at from miles away, but we have problems hitting the Moon from Earth?

Maybe we shouldn’t be shooting at it.

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Bait & Switch President: Mr. Public Relations (PR) Obama

Well America, you wanted him, and now you’ve got him. The only question is, what are your going to do with him? A professional media maven that has the popularity of a JFK and the agenda of a Clinton. Great…that’s going to make him tough to get rid of come election time.

He’s charismatic, he’s smart, and he’s popular. Yet, with 199 days logged in office, his approval rate is plummeting. But, none of the networks have reported that story because that would mean tarnishing their “Golden Boy.” According to the latest poll, Pro-Bama’s approval rating has dropped 7% since inauguration.

Today, the US Marines made a push to secure cities in Afghanistan prior to next week’s elections in the war-torn country. The attacks were launched in response to threats from the Taliban that they would “disrupt the elections“.  Yet, Pro-Bama has not been linked to this news item either. It’s almost as if it’s happening without his knowledge as he celebrates the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor, a Hispanic female Supreme Court justice. Whereas President Bush would have announced, and taken responsibility for the Marine’s push to secure Afghanistan, Obama has been distant from anything to do with the military, or the two wars currently being fought. Following suit, the media has kept the President’s name and the fighting separate, in no way connecting it to Pro-Bama. Instead, the media interviews have been conducted with soldiers, low-level diplomats, and Afghani political figures.

[U.S. soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade take position next to Sari Ghundi village as they patrol near the Pakistani border in Afghanistan.]

Far away from the fighting, the cameras flashed and Pro-Bama gave out the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk, Ted Kennedy, Billie Jean King, and Stephen Hawking (among many others); afterward he made a joke about the health care Town Hall meetings that have been erupting into violence, stating; “Can’t we all just get along…”

Well, it would seem that when the government is threatening our current crappy health care system with something worse, we aren’t even close to getting along. However, my real question is why do these four deserve the Presidential Medal of  Freedom? First of all, this is the highest civilian medal given out. Secondly, it is designed to recognize individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Show me where any of these four have done a thing for this country without first serving themselves. Is it because two of them are/were homosexuals, one has brain cancer, and the final one is confined to a wheel chair? In comparison to past honorees, these four are a joke; previous Medal of Freedom recipients include Mohammed Ali, Mother Teresa, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, John F. Kennedy, Roberto Clemente, Nelson Mandela, etc. Pro-Bama should have given the award to Michael Jackson…then the entire “slight of hand” magic trick would have been complete. After all, this is just the Pro-Bama Rope-a-Dope; a diversion from the real things that are going on…(There were some on the list that deserved the award, but not the four mentioned.)

For example, while Pro-Bama and Joe Biden (who?) took a photo op with the black Harvard Professor and the white Policeman who arrested him, sipping beer in a White House Garden as suited staffers ran beer to and from the table, the Nation was slipping into near double-digit employment. (Obama’s former stomping ground, Illinois, has surpassed double digit unemployment, which doesn’t say much for past management.) The graph, below, shows the US, Illinois, and Cook County (Chicago) Unemployment. While the US hovers at 9%, Illinois is at 10.5% and and Cook County’s coming in at 11.6%…

Does anyone realize how many people are in Cook County? Try 5.3 million, which means that over 500,000 are unemployed in the Chicago area alone. That’s more people than most US cities can even claim.

UNEMPLOYMENT

I certainly hope that there’s an App for that….

But, there’s no application, and there’s no respite. At least in the near future. So, the US will just have to hold on while the Pro-Bama staffers try to figure out where all the “Cash for Clunkers” money went, where all the money they loaned to the banks went, and where the money to bail out the auto industry went. Hopefully while they figure out that accounting error, they’ll be able to figure out that the new deal health care reform plan is a stinker, and they will back down. Face it: If they can’t forecast how well a junker car trade-in program is going to perform, they don’t have a shot at figuring out something like health care…it’s uber-confusing already.

Public Relations is definitely Pro-Bama’s (PR OBAMA) strong suit; I am waiting for him to tell us “Don’t worry about it…I’ll take care of it.” I am sure that these same words were used by Bernie Madhoff when he was still Mr. Popular…

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Blowback: Neda’s Death, Iran’s Future (Part II)

Historical Perspective

**Please note that historical events have been reconstructed as accurately as possible. Every event in Iran’s timeline is important; however, “lesser” events have been  left out for the purpose of  brevity.**

iran-map1I was twelve when the Iranian people revolted against The Shah. The details are murky; as most boys, there were far more important things happening right in my own backyard. The poignant memory for me is in that general time-period, a yellow ribbon was tied around a tree in our front yard. A yellow ribbon, hung in protest, for American citizens being held as prisoners. In 1979, Iranian extremists stormed the US Embassy in Tehran, seizing the Embassy as well as fifty-two Americans hostages. They were held for 444 Days. The assault on our embassy occurred roughly within a year of the revolution that ousted the Shah of Iran. The same Shah that was put into power by joint US-British intelligence in 1953.

It’s vital to note that Hollywood “good guys” & “bad guys” do not exist in this political mashup; the Iranian government and people mistrust and dislike Americans for reasons easily forgotten by US citizens. Time tends to erase the memory of “insignificant” events, and to the American people, our government was acting righteously, fighting the rise of Communism in the world. In 1950, the US entered into the Korean Conflict (The Korean War) on the side of the non-Communist South. Korea had been divided since the end of World War II, when the Japanese, who had been ruling Korea since 1910, surrendered to both the Soviet Union and United States simultaneously. To avoid conflict, the US and USSR divided Korea along the 38th Parallel. A Communist faction took control of North Korea in 1946, while South Korea set up a rival republic. The United States and Soviet Union, once allies against Adolf Hitler’s Germany, squared-off as adversaries.

In the last hundred years, Iran’s history, much like our own history a century earlier, has been heavily Image_AFPimpacted by the British. Without going into overt detail, the British have had a presence in the Middle East since the early 1900’s. In a region constantly afflicted with change, The Ottoman Empire (Turkish Empire) held much of the land now known as the Middle East prior to World War I. There was no sovereign state of Israel…the Jewish people were scattered across the globe, just as foretold in the Bible. Iran was known as Persia, and Mesopatamia was still a place on the map. Due to some Ottoman military defeats and the borrowing of money from western nations, foreign powers were granted “zones of influence.”  Britain was in Egypt, the French held Lebbanon and Syria, and the Russians were interested in Armenia. Italy and Austria-Hungary also had territory. Ruled by a Sultan, the Empire’s population was around 25 million when a group known as the Young Turks ousted the Sultan and resisted his attempt to re-establish power in 1908/1909.

Enter Germany. Turkey had requested that Germany aid in the reformation and modernization of it’s army following the Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913 due to the army’s poor abilities at fighting and sustaining itself. Fearful of Russian expansion, when World War I broke out, Turkey sided with Germany, against not only Russia, but Britain as well.

This history would not have much significance if it weren’t for the discovery of vast quantities of oil around the same period. Concessions were granted to other nations to extract the oil, and the capitalization of the Middle East had begun. There were other periods of unrest, turmoil and war ( including World War II) that affected all present-day nations in the region, but for our intent, fast-forward to 1950.

Iran was led by Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq, a democratically-elected Prime Minister. Seeking to nationalize Iran’s oil industry from the British, and with heavy leanings toward Communist Russia, Mosaddeq concerned both the British and US governments. As the the world’s superpowers entered into The Cold War period, intelligence agencies such as the CIA, MI6, and Russian KGB were formed and covert operations that would forever alter the future were launched. Mossadeq succeeded in reclaiming Iran’s vast natural resource, an act which nearly resulted in open war between Britain and Iran. (The British company drilling in Iran became known as British Petroleum, or BP.) Instead, Britain labored to enlist the United States in an early coup of Mosaddeq. President Truman, already in committed conflict with Russian-backed North Korea, declined. Two years later, President Eisenhower was elected and Operation Ajax, a joint MI6 and CIA effort, aided (and funded) one of Mosaddeq’s former Generals, Fazlollah Zahedi in the overthrow of the Iranian governement. It was the CIA’s first covert operation against a foreign adversary.

The year was 1953, and the United States of America, supposed champion of fairness and Democray, staunch foe to Socialist and Communist regimes, had overthrown the ruler of a Democratic nation, propelling Iran back to it’s former state of government: Tyranny. Although it wasn’t realized at the time, the impact of this single event would ruin the United States’ credibility in the Middle East. Worse, an infection feeding on the living flesh of religious belief would spread, poisoning the entire body. Fundamental extremists, like white blood cells, would rise up to fight the source of the infection, and tear the fabric of the world.

NOTE:
I started writing this series for two reasons: The first being that I saw the video of Neda’s death and was profoundly impacted. The second was the realization that, in regard to Iran, my perceptions were formed by sound bytes.

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Blowback: Neda’s Death, Iran’s Future (Part I)

A Death Seen Round The World

neda_agha_soltan_03b

Image: Time.com

The burst of gunfire that shattered the air and a fallen victim. An assassination that could spell turbulence for Western, as well as Islamic, nations. The shot, witnessed the world over, did not hit a sitting US President, a world leader, or a prominent rebel leader. Rather, it hit a young, twenty-six year old woman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whether the shot was deliberate, fired by a sniper, or an accident, nobody knows. Unconfirmed news out of Iran states that it was intentional, fired from a rooftop. It ended her life in forty seconds. Such an event that creates martyrs.

She wasn’t a combatant. She wasn’t a leader. She wasn’t protesting, rioting, or rallying. She “simply was”…which is worlds away from “simply is.”  A young woman that died with fear in her eyes, she bled to death from a bullet to her chest. Her final moments were unfathomable, as blood spewed from her mouth, and those aiding her felt her life slip away. She simply died.

Did she have time to make peace with God? Did she have time to figure out what had happened to her? Did she feel terrible pain? That fateful morning, did she say goodbye to her mother, her relatives, her friends? Probably not. She was a nobody…and nobodies get killed everyday. And yet, she was also everybody…her death witnessed by millions; she’s become a single point of clarity, as well as solidarity, a rallying cry. Many know her by name: Neda Agha-Soltan. Much of the English speaking world refers to her simply as “Neda.”

Weeks ago, had Iran been wiped off the map, I wouldn’t have cared…well, that’s no entirely true. It’s simply that my view of Iran, then, and my view, now, has changed. Before Neda, Iran was a terrorist nation, full of extremists that wanted to kill Americans. While no doubt this is still true, the people of Iran have been made “human,”  full of fault, love, sorrow, and happiness. I can’t get her image from my head, her eyes, seeming to look right into my soul. Even now it’s her eyes; dread unfolds in the pit of my stomach, and I can’t keep from thinking that something terribly wrong is unfolding.

NOTE:
I started writing this series for two reasons: The first being that I saw the video of Neda’s death and was profoundly impacted. The second was the realization that, in regard to Iran, my perceptions were formed by sound bytes.

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The Final Spotlight: Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson died of a heart attack on June 25th, 2009, and it’s with mixed feelings that I finally mike-jacksonsuccumbed to mention him. His loss, musically, is a profound tragedy. However, the last thing we heard from the “The King of Pop” was in 2001, when Invincible was released. Thus, his loss to the music industry in the present is, really, of no consequence; it is not as if he was in the studio for the past eight years recording new material. Quite honestly, although many are sad he passed away, my compassion’s withheld and my emotions are blank. I was more affected by Neda’s murder than Michael Jackson’s heart attack.

The words are harsh… Yet, right or wrong, when I think of Michael Jackson, one ugly thought comes to mind: Child Molester. Although unproven, there were too many allegations, too many unanswered questions, and too many “out of court” offers & secret settlements. Too many shenanigans. I understand ‘presumption of innocence,’ but after someone is called into question for the same thing numerous times, opinions tend to change. And I’m sure that mine won’t be a solitary voice. Thus, I will recognize his passing, but I will not mourn it.

The investigative reporter that originally broke the story that Jackson was being investigated for Child Molestation was LA Times’ Don Ray. He wrote of Michael Jackson’s death in a blog yesterday:

Was Michael Jackson a child molester? Was he a pedophile? Nobody ever proved it in criminal court and a secret, out-of-court settlement prevented the civil trial from ever happening.
The veteran detective investigating Michael Jackson was convinced that he was a pedophile. If there was ever someone who fit the FBI’s profile of pedophiles, it was Michael Jackson.

The fact that I mention his accomplishments is tribute enough; his loss to the music industry historically is a tragedy; Thriller, released in 1982, remains the world’s top-selling album of all time. Jackson’s talent, showmanship and creativity may never be rivaled. He was a giving philanthropist, at one time estimated to support at least 39 charities, donating millions of dollars in aid. The list of World Records, awards, and achievements is daunting: MjAccomplishments

A cultural phenomenon Jackson was the first African American to successfully cross the boundaries of race, gender, and generation. As a direct result of this mass appeal, he was named Entertainer of The Year, The Decade, The Generation, and The Century.

He also had the uncanny ability to stay out of view for years and then step back into the world, once again, a star. After a couple years of visibility, he would go silent. Each time he “came out,” there would be a top selling album or a record-breaking tour launched. At other times, an arrest or a trial.

For the past eight years he was relatively silent, with the exception of his 2005 trial, subsequent acquittal, and out-of-court “secret” payment.

Like Elvis, this King may be dead, but he won’t soon be forgotten.

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Final Post on Jon & Kate

So, tonight’s the night. Jon and Kate go before the US to tell us about their big news.

I will be back in an hour…
_____________________________________

Well, as expected, the dissolution of marriage has begun. It is sad, really, almost brutal in it’s drawn out special format. They are separating, but interestingly enough, the show is going to continue. I guess that means that money can be more powerful than a lot of things…including love. However, that is not quite the truth. The show basically stated that the problems had been going on for a while. Jon needed to find himself, and Kate needed to get back to her old self…with the help of some cosmetic surgery.

My heart hasn’t changed. Instead of continuing with TLC, maybe they should level a law suit against the network. But, who am I kidding…they are still getting paid $75K per episode. At 40 episodes, that’s more than I would make in 30 years if my salary never changed.

Good Luck, Gosselins. Although it seems like life would be easier without each other, that’s actually far from the truth.

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