Archive for June, 2009

Marco ….. Polo

June 29, 2009

I know, I know.  It’s old news already.  But you MUST read Maureen Dowd’s column today in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/opinion/28dowd.html?_r=1

Also, on Saturday’s edition of NPR’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me”, they ridiculed Marco Sanford deservedly and unmercifully.  They said that although the GOP had come to the rescue of many of the other recent sinners in their party, not one Republican would touch the Marco Sanford story with a ten foot pole.  The comedians said that this was due to NAFTA.  Don’t cry for me, Argentina!

Gotta run.  I have a bitch of a week ahead of me.  We’ll talk soon.

The Luv Guv

June 25, 2009

Ah …. the saga of Mark Sanford.  Yes, the turn of events is tragic for his wife and children.  But hell yes, the man should be publicly ripped apart mostly for his hypocrisy but also for his self-indulgent ways.  His pathetic dribble about how “these things just happen”  is a ton of bull doody.  What differentiates human beings from other animals is our capacity for moral judgment.  Idiot.  Heaven knows, we have had Democrats who just could not keep their zippers closed, i.e. Bubba Clinton, John Edwards and Elliott Spitzer.  It seems like we have an unending supply of public servants who think that the power given them by the voters includes  the overriding of moral commitments they made in their previous lives.  Governor Sanford, my dear, broken-hearted man: what of the oath of office — you know —- the obligation to oversee and stay in contact with your state, staff and citizens, not to even mention your state-issued paycheck?  Have you consigned to yourself the power to ignore those commitments?

In the larger arena of sexual politics, Sanford’s behavior is a death knell (once again) for the GOP.  As if his trashy behavior wasn’t enough in and of itself, the hypocrisy is putrid.  How can the party of family values, love of country and standard, conservative virtues ignore the real tenor of their top figures?  Here is Jon Stewart’s take on all of that:

“Oh, marital infidelity, you’re just another run of the mill human being whose simple moralizing about the sanctity of marriage is only marred by the complexities of their own life. Well just another politician with a conservative mind and a liberal penis.”

Kinda of says it all, doesn’t it?

Also, here are a few comments from Gail Collins of the New York Times:

…. although the governor-run-amok thing is worrisome, South Carolinians can take comfort in the fact their state gives its chief executive slightly less power than a game warden.

…. before this search for a presidential nominee goes any further, I’m thinking it’s time for the Republicans to apologize for putting us through the Clinton impeachment. We seem to have pretty well established that sexual stone-throwing is a dangerous sport.

Democrat or Republican, man or woman, I am sick and tired of these holier-than-thou “leaders”.  If they choose to screw around on everything that is supposed to be sacred, let them.  My only request is that they withhold from partaking in moral diatribes against those of the opposite party who have likewise indulged.  Furthermore, I do not want the wife and family paraded out and showcased as a ploy for public sympathy.  Not interested.  Retribution be damned.  Surely I am not the epitome of moral superiority.  But I do know my place.  I acknowledge my duty and honesty to those I love and to whom I have made commitments.  I expect no less of our publicly elected  servants to whom I  continue to give 30% of my earnings every year for their salaries.  Am I unforgiving?  Perhaps, but even more so, I am totally aware that if these hypocrites have taken the moral low ground in their personal lives, they sure as hell have probably taken the same road in their professional lives.  Yuk.

To sum up, who better than David Letterman and his Top Ten List of Excuses for Governor Mark Sanford:

10. Did I say hiking? I meant, cheating!
9. I had to do something after the devastating news about Jon and Kate!
8. I learned everything I know from Governor Spitzer.
7. Let’s talk about more important things, like the Nestle Tollhouse cookie recall.
6. I learned everything I know from Governor McGreevey (apparently McG had an affair with his limo driver)
5. It’s Ahmadinejad’s fault.
4. If you met my wife, you’d leave the country, too.
3. I’m auditioning for the Amazing Race (whatever that is).
2. If you run the state and have to leave the country for a week, since when do you need to tell someone?
1. It wasn’t me, it was my alter ego, Bruno.

I also believe that Sanford is partially out of his mind.  His off-the-cuff press conference yesterday was a rambling, incoherent event, just like his life.  No doubt, he will be outta there by the week’s end.

Good riddance to the Luv Guv.  Sayonara to Sanctimonius Sandford.  Adios to Sparky Marky.  Just get lost.

Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels

June 24, 2009

In his press conference yesterday, President Obama was stellar.  Almost all of the questions had to do with Iran and our own struggle for a health care plan.  I will deal with the issues of Iran today, and save health care for a later post .

The almost universal political reality  is one of power- hungry leaders acting for their own good and survival as the ruling party; their instincts are to preserve and protect  themselves and not to deliver the democratic principles that underscore the type of government that the people want.  What we have are scoundrels out for themselves, dedicated to the maintenance of their thrones,  rather than getting to the nitty gritty of a fair and just government.  The allegiance is to the framework of power rather than to the substance of running a society.  Dirty, rotten scoundrels.

Similarly, we have our own scoundrels right here in America.  Yesterday, President Obama gave the Party of No what it wanted: strong language, such as “condemn”, “appall” and  “outrage”, to describe his reaction to the stealing of the Iran elections and the subsequent attack on protesters.  Don’t hold your breath: the GOP will still not be satisfied.  Their first and foremost objective is to bring Obama down.  No matter how honest, effective or appropriate our President’s policies might be, the Republicans, with their main objective of antagonism and obstructionism, just want Obama to fail.  Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham will never back off of their attack of President Obama, even if  their logic is unfounded.  Whatever the issue at hand, these close-minded senators will take the opposite position of our President, damn the effects on the people.  They do not care one whit about whether or not the people of our country, or Iran, will get the help they need.   These purposes are secondary to destroying the Obama administration and reclaiming themselves as the ruling party.

But our President was strict, as usual.  He said — correctly — that ever since the Iranian election and resulting protests, he HAS voiced a strong and consistent opinion against the government’s attack on free speech and the right of assembly.  He acknowledged that what is going on in Iran is “profound”.  What he would not capitulate to is the next step, i.e. creating retaliatory consequences in response to Iran’s internal turmoil.  Since we do not, as yet, know how this civil unrest will play out, our consequential options are not clear right now.  What?  Does the GOP disagree with that careful, wait-and-see attitude, or do they think the U.S. should start yet ANOTHER war in the Mideast?  Just like Dick Cheney seems to want another terrorist attack on our soil to prove his opinion that President Obama has weakened us, so too do the Republicans want us interfering in what is clearly a national problem in Iran.  This unwanted interference would definitely muddy the waters for the freedom fighters in Iran and perhaps then the ruling Mullahs WOULD have some basis for calling the unrest a force of outside manipulation, rather than a deep response to the injustice in their own country.  The GOP’s policies are stupid and selfish, totally aimed inward at their own survival rather than turned outward to govern effectively.  Dirty, rotten scoundrels.

There is a larger issue regarding Iran that comes into play: secular democracy versus religious democracy.  This is a much more esoteric, philosophical issue with relevant opinions on both sides.  I will save that debate for another time.  Specifically, in Iran there exists a supposed religious democracy, not a theocracy.  The Iranians are a profoundly religious people; they are NOT protesting against their religious hierarchy.  What they are battling is the abuse of their democratic principles.  Crackdowns against human rights are not acceptable whether or not the leader is a religious cleric or a secular politician.  A scoundrel is a scoundrel is a scoundrel.  Ayatollah Khamenei is a scoundrel, as is Ahmadinejad.  So while we may debate whether or not a democracy can truly be a democracy if it is within the framework of a religious construct, what is going on in Iran is a fight for DEMOCRATIC principles.  The religion argument will have to wait for another day.

President Obama made it quite clear yesterday that the path available to Iran in handling this internal civil unrest will dictate how the international community will react.  The legitimacy of the Iranian elections and its government’s subsequent actions in dealing with the protests will determine Iran’s viability in the world at large.  President Obama spoke of Iran’s obligations to its own people, in terms of assuring them their basic human rights,  as the first part of the overall blueprint of adhering to international standards of fair and just governance.  Internal actions will effect external consequences.

Please read Roger Cohen of the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/opinion/24iht-edcohen.html?ref=global

But our President is no fool.  He is well aware of the political antics in Washington.  His dedication to doing what is good and right will supercede the selfish intentions of our Washington legislators.  They can bait him all they want; he will not jump to premature decisions that could endanger us as harmfully as our foray into Iraq has.  Eric Clapton, in his mournful ode “Here in Heaven” to his young son who died after falling out of a window, had to reconcile his unending grief with some sort of peace for himself here on earth.  His conclusion was that “I know I don’t belong here in Heaven”.  He recognized the need for time, place and perspective.   So must we in our response to the events in Iran.  Yes, we can wear green, as does Senator Barbara Mikulski, to show our compassion for and unity with the Iranians.  Yes, we can speak openly and loudly about the injustice going on in Iran.  Yes, we can follow the incredible reporting by Andrew Sullivan on the events in Iran (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com).  Yes, in the words of NPR’s “Writer’s Almanac” with Garrison Keillor, we should all “be well, do good work and stay in touch.”  Whether or not the Iranian freedom movement will succeed, or go underground and lie dormant for years once again, or totally die out, is not ours to call or determine now.

Democracy and freedom are quirky, not perfect and certainly not easy to obtain and maintain.  The fight must come from within.  What we certainly do not need are internal (to Iran) scoundrels crushing the people’s democratic rights and  external scoundrels ensuring a total collapse of the deep-founded quest for personal rights.   Barack Obama’s  sense of time, place and perspective is indeed intact.  No scoundrel is our President Obama.  That role has been filled by the GOP and Ayatollah Khamenei.   Dirty, rotten scoundrels.

POSTSCRIPT

In case any of you are having some difficulty with my use of the term “scoundrel”, I cite two more examples of despicable scoundrels from today’s news.

First, read about the “Disappearing Governor”, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/06/24/south.carolina.governor/index.html

As if it wasn’t bad enough that he deserted his state and citizens, his disappearance was also quite the slap in the face to his wife and four sons.  Dirty, rotten scoundrel.

Secondly, there was a release of more information from the Nixon tapes:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/us/politics/24nixon.html?ref=todayspaper

What a statesman!  What a human being!  Trashing Jews by holding them responsible for all of the anti-Semitism since the beginning of time.  Reducing women to the sexual objects that they are.  Blaming the efforts to end the war in Viet Nam as purely a means of political advancement rather than the will of the people.  Sound familiar?  Dirty rotten scoundrel.

If you should have any further doubt as to what a scoundrel is, do get in touch with me.

The Crack Becomes a Crevice

June 22, 2009

The citizenry of Iran is fighting tooth and nail for what is EVERY human being’s right: freedom.  This uprising, based on the essential, most basic principle of individual rights, is not going away.  The crack in the system that I spoke of last week has now widened into a crevice.  Can the valley of freedom be far behind?

Despite Khamenei’s threats and actions that the protesters will be violently stopped from voicing their opinions, the civil unrest continues.  In over 50 cities in Iran, it has become public knowledge that the number of votes reportedly to have been in Ahmadinejad’s column were actually millions more than the total number of voters.  On top of being repressive and crooked, it appears that the Supreme Leader is stupid —– and very bad in math.

His stupidity will be his downfall.  His tampering with the election results was the first crack in the system.  His follow-up actions, of quashing the public outcry against fraudulent election practices, of invading people’s homes and rounding up those he blames for organizing the rallies, of directing the misplaced responsibility for the riots on outside influences such as the U.S. and Britain, for murdering his own people for standing up for their rights, have widened this crack to an irreparable void in the system.

This public fight for justice will not die.  Yes, bullets are much more powerful than tweets, but the stage has been set.  As sure as I know my own name, I am positive that President Obama provided the ideological impetus through his speech in Egypt a few weeks ago for the people of Iran to go out and fight in the streets for what is their deep and fundamental rights.  Perhaps our President’s words were just enough to nudge the Iranians to not tolerate unfairness in their elective process.  Iran’s desire for social and political parity was there all along; it had just been dormant.  With the Supreme Leader’s fixing of the election and the echoes of President Obama’s words, of course the people’s response  was to fight hard.

The fly in the ointment is that Mousavi has become the accidental hero, or martyr, whichever future events will dictate.  Sure, he has never denied the Holocaust or called for Israel’s destruction as has Ahmadinejad, but his national and international policies are basically the same as the group currently in power.  Maybe though, this people’s uprising has shown him the light; just maybe, his possible leadership might bring with it a respect for human rights, a moderation of discriminatory religious and political mores  and the guts to really be a ruler of the people.  This is the real danger inherent in these protests: the ensuing party or individual who shall rise to the country’s leadership might  be just as bad, or worse, than what they have now.  At any rate, there exists a distinct possibility that this awakening in Iran might spell the end of having a cleric as the Supreme Ruler.  Their deep religious roots not withstanding, they might want to try a different route this time around.

No matter what happens, there have been significant signs that this is a country-wide effort.  Over half of the protesters have been women.  Similarly, the people fueling the urban protests are the young.  Also significant, there are protests in many other cities and towns outside of the major metropolises, and old people as well as the young are active participants.  The majority of these rebels are consigned to their homes now, due to the government troops use of force, violence and live arms.  The more this government abuses the people and their rights, the larger the chance that it will be overthrown.  There are many clerics, on the Guardian Council included, that have voiced horror to Khamenei’s actions.  Trust me: the crack is growing.

What Iran needs is their own Barack Obama.  Not an easy thing to find.  Not that our President is a savior.  He is not, but he has a tremendous capacity for speaking the truth, for listening, and for common sense and reason.  I said it last week and I will say it again now: the Iranians want what we finally have, i.e. a just, honest and respectful leader who supports and defends our liberties.  So far, no such figure has emerged in Iran to lead them out of the hell hole they currently occupy.  Unfortunately, as I see it, that is the major factor lacking in this uprising: no obvious leader to fuel the fight, to inspire further action.  Thus, this void might just be the undoing of Iran because these circumstances may provide a bully pulpit for yet another dictator to enter the foray.  Also, without strong leadership, the national furor for freedom just might die out and fall victim to the bullets and terror of the current regime.

So the crack in Iran’s struggle for freedom has definitely widened.  This premature victory can very well, though, contract.  The Mullahs have cooked their own goose.  The Irani people and international sentiment have turned this election dispute into a revolution.  It did not have to be that way.  The sitting government could have had a recount, a new election even, and done things democratically.  The outcome, however, will be either a return to just a crack in the system or, with strong, honest leadership, a new horizon that affords  all the people their human rights, justice and freedom.

POSTSCRIPT

I have two more points that I can not leave on the table.  First, one of my readers on the Daily KOS used the term “the genie is out of the bottle” to describe the revolutionary fervor and reawakening seeds of freedom that are fomenting in Iran.  This is a perfectly descriptive phrase about the situation.  The genie, being freedom, is out of the bottle.  However, will the genie grant the Iranians their three wishes, or will he simply impose another regime of demonic dictatorship on the citizens?  No matter what: yes, people can be killed,  dissidents jailed and families destroyed.  Violence and ammunition can quash civil disobedience in an instant.  Ideas CAN NOT be put to death so easily.  The Iranians remember 1958 and 1979.  Today’s fight is a reawakening of that underlying, most basic need for freedom.  Indeed: the genie IS out of the bottle.

Secondly, another fly in the ointment has come to my attention.  Those who are criticizing President Obama for not taking a more vociferous stand with the people of Iran (The GOP excepted because they are just total morons who want to incite anger towards our President at any cost.) might actually have a degree of  logic attached to their accusations.  How far can the United States  really go in support of a new regime when we have been told that the new regime would be just as hellbent on nuclear proliferation as the old one was?  Do we support a new government in Iran knowing that a possible outcome might be the destruction of Israel or even a catastrophe on our own shores, should a nuclear device get loose from Iran?  Though many tweeters from Iran have messaged that they think President Obama’s reaction to events have been nothing short of perfect, it is important to acknowledge that this crisis is not as simple as it may seem.  Somehow, we must be steadfast in our support of Iran’s quest for freedom while still being cognizant, NOT NAIVE, that any old regime change might solve the problem.

Let Freedom Ring

June 19, 2009

Look.  The reality of the situation in Iran is that it IS a religious country and the people support the ruling theocracy.  Or so it has been up until now.  The people outside of the cities are in favor of the exact government that is now in place.  But step on their rights, on the very essence of their human dignity and sense of fair play, and all of that can change.

What might bring down this theocracy is the depth of its corruption and its denial of human rights.  This election, if fixed, will be the straw that truly broke the camel’s back.  Regardless of the majority’s supposed conservative, religious stance, if the people’s rights, such as the right of a free and fair election, have been violated, even those most conservative in their politics will want a new regime.  In the long run, it is about bettering one’s life, and especially wanting a fair and just life for their children:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/opinion/19iht-edhooglund.html?ref=global

Ayatollah Khamenei can dictate all he wants that the elections were fair, he can round up and jail all the dissident political advisers, strategists and academicians, he can threaten the protesters with harsh retaliation if they do not stop taking their fight to the streets and finally, he can falsely place the blame for his country’s internal unrest at the feet of outside forces, such as Britain and the U.S.   The Supreme Leader can do whatever he wishes up until the fervor for freedom invades even the countryside, up until some of the other clerics on the Guardian Council have the backbone to speak up against his religious, crushing dictatorship.

Khamenei is, as precedent and current developments show, digging quite a deep hole for himself.  He is backing himself in to a corner from which it will be very difficult to emerge.   For the sake of future generations, the Iranian people KNOW what it is they are seeking, and it is NOT the present they want to protect.

President Obama also knows this to be true.  Thus, his reaction has been spot on perfect.  Senator John Kerry states his, and Obama’s, case quite well in the New York Times yesterday:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/18/opinion/18kerry.html?_r=1

Democracy and especially genuine freedom, can not be imported.  That was Bush’e mistake.  Freedom is a hard-fought process which must be battled for on the home turf by the native sons and daughters.  A government that is restrictive and exclusionary will fall.  The fight will be messy and dangerous and there is no guarantee that the new government will be any less harsh or corrupt.  The process is in motion though, and if truly desired, freedom will ring out in the countryside as well as the cities.

So far, Senator Kerry’s theory is proving correct.  We need to hold back our accusations and let the events within Iran play out.  Khamenei’s declarations and follow-up responses have been totally expected.  I can’t wait to see him try to dig himself out of this hole.

Cracks in the System: Iran There and Gay Rights Here

June 18, 2009

This post will be a continuation of my last one, dealing with the people’s insurgency in Iran and the fight for equal rights here in America.

No surprise: it is being reported that Ayatollah Khamenei’s rival Mullah, Rafsanjani, will be supporting the massive protest in Iran today.  Quite frankly, this election dispute is a contest, a personal power struggle, between the two Ayatollahs.  Whether we have Ahmadinejad or Mousavi as figurehead Presidents is almost immaterial.  Their ideology and politics are essentially the same, although Ahmadinejad’s incendiary fervor is definitely off the deep end.  Their underlying beliefs, both national and international, are identical.  It is the Mullahs who rule Iran.  The people’s protests must move from election fraud to throwing out the corrupt clerics who rule Iran.

Dan Rather was on MSNBC yesterday, and he was not very optimistic about the outcome of this Iran uprising.  He said that similar to this uprising, the Czech revolt of 1956, the Chinese attempt at protest in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the attempted battle for freedom in Burma in 2007 were all crushed by their respective governments.  Included in these assaults on the protesters were serious, and successful, attempts to quash any media reports of the protests plus the government’s retaliatory responses.  True: in 1956, we did not have the internet, cell phones or Twitter.  Basically the same holds true for 1989.  Nonetheless, the media were thrown out of those countries and thus any reports of the events were not forthcoming.  So is Iran trying to play that same game today.  Not only have reporters been warned off covering the disputed elections, but Iran has cut off most access to the internet and cell phones.  But long live Twitter: they can not shut off that service.  Not yet.  Our very own State Department has requested, and been granted, that Twitter defer their shutdown for maintenance scheduled for this week so that the world can have some access to the events in Iran.  As Hillary Clinton said recently, and I paraphrase,  “I don’t know a Twitter from a Tweeter, but Twitter has been a window to the world as to what is going on in Iran.” In the New York Times today, Op-Ed contributor, Nicholas Kristof equates “tweets” as the bullets of modern warfare.

This communications crackdown IS an assault on one of the most fundamental rights every person in the world has: freedom of,  and access to, information.  What astounds me is the fact that the ruling entity in Iran has no second thoughts whatsoever about their election tactics and harsh and murderous actions following that election.  What does bother them, however, are the media reports that show their despicable stance on crooked elections and violence to subdue that justified outrage.  It is NOT the real substance of their policies that offends them, but the resulting publicity that will “give them a bad name”.  Hah!  With their restrictive, prejudicial policies they have given themselves their own bad name.

At any rate, Dan Rather believes that this uprising in Iran will be no more successful than those in Czechoslovakia, China or Burma.  I disagree.  A successful ending to these events in Iran will have to include a rebellion against the real ruler, i.e. the Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah.  This will be no easy feat.  The first crack, in the form of corrupt elections, has appeared.  However, how this uprising will end is dependent on the strength and fortitude of the people coupled with the ability for the lines of global communication to remain open.  Time will tell.

The outcome of gay Americans in their fight for equal rights is also dependent on how strong public opinion is in support of those rights.  President Obama has supported DOMA in the past.  This Defense of Marriage Act is, in reality, a conservative backlash argument, a sham, against equal gender rights disguised as an issue of  states rights versus federal law.  DOMA needs to be repealed and yesterday is not soon enough.  Unfortunately, even President Obama has been hiding behind this states’ rights argument.  Just like in Iran, we are not dealing with the basic substance of same sex marriage rights.  Instead, we are trying to prohibit equal rights by espousing a states’ rights stance.  People against gay marriage are twisting words, citing irrelevant political ideology, all in the hopes of getting the same end result —– no gay marriage.   That is my own personal take on this issue of same sex marriage.

Just like in Iran, this clamp down in America will not work.  Our legislators and people of all parties can use whatever semantics they create to try and fool us out of our Constitutional rights.  In the long run, it will not prevent freedom from winning the day.  President Obama made a start yesterday by signing an executive order giving same sex partners of federal workers some extended benefits.  This is the same “crack” in the system, the same first foot-in-the-door, in our fight for gay rights as was the public outcry to the election fraud in Iran.  But much more has to happen before the reality of true freedom and equality becomes a reality here and in Iran.

The following is a brief, but succinct editorial from the New York Times on President Obama’s actions yesterday:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/opinion/16tue1.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

We shall watch as both of these stories unfold.  Do not give me the unadulterated falsehood which the GOP espouse: the world needs democracy.  This is just a placebo fix, meaningless garbage and just another corner to hide in.  Democracy is rife with inconsistencies and twisted semantics.  The rights that are being fought for in Iran and America go much, much deeper than democracy; they are every human being’s absolute entitlements.

The cracks in our world are there.  They have surfaced.  Can these cracks expand to allow the people those rights with which they were born?  We will be vigilant in our watch, and as long as we can maintain the free transmission of information and ideas, we still have the chance for success.

Baby Steps

June 17, 2009

Progress, whether economic, political or social, takes time.  Real progress is the culmination of minute baby steps, all adding up to real change.  It does not happen overnight and often, the process is an arduous and  painful upheaval, fraught with much heartache.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel.  That light though, is no consolation to the people fighting the battle today.

I have found a parallel of political and social advancement between the current state of affairs in Iran and the gay movement here in America.  The obvious similarity is that both the Iranian people and gay people want justice, freedom and equality.  Both causes are rooted in an unalienable right and fight for these ideals.  Period.

The Iranians’ Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the head of government.  Ahmadinejad is basically a puppet of Khamenei and the Guardian Council.  Iran’s government is a theocracy, based on Muslim religious principles.  However, Khamenei is no  Ayatollah; he literally bought his “theological license”.  This has given him the power to, in reality, be the supreme MILITARY leader.  Religion’s great, but hey, state-backed firepower is so much more effective in the everyday ruling of a country and for personal accumulation of power and money, don’t you think?  Khamenei has used false credentials to install himself as the the top ruler of the heap —- a garbage heap.  Then he uses that phony religious credentialing as the basis for him to rule the country militarily.

Meanwhile, the people are feeling the pain.  They want their rights and freedom.  Eighty five percent of Iranis came out to vote last week, and now the results are being twisted.  The protests, a fundamental part of a true democracy, are being crushed, as is the access to information about events there.  This fight for justice has just begun.  Khamenei is politically petrified of his main rival. Ayotallah Rafsanjani.  Thus, the ruling body, the Guardian Council, will allow for a “limited” vote recount.  What?  Will they permit a recount only up to the point where Mousavi will overtake Ahmadinejad?  Isn’t that like being a little pregnant?  This election is just a baby step in the right direction towards achieving true justice.  The real bottom line is that it is a battle between the two Ayatollahs and their quest for ultimate power.  To the victor go the spoils.  Unfortunately, the people are going to have to pay the price for the antics of these two power-hungry prelates.

President Obama’s reaction to the election in Iran has been absolutely correct.  He has said that even though it appears that something does not smell right, it is up the the government and people of Iran to sort it out.  Their fight for right must come from within that country.  Plus, for the U.S. to insinuate itself in the internal affairs of Iran would simply serve to make us the enemy, rather than their own corrupt government.  So the battle must start in Iran and end there.  Any victory for human rights and political freedom would be meaningless unless it is fought by the people for the people.

Right here in America, we have our own fight for individual rights in the arena of fairness, both political and social, for the gay people of our country.  Today, President Obama will announce that he will allow gay and lesbian partners of federal employees to receive health and other benefits.  This is a start.  At least, by issuing this executive order, any future president will have to issue another executive order to rescind this one.  That would probably be political suicide.  We knew coming in to this presidency, that Obama never supported same sex marriage.  Rather, he backed civil unions for the gay people.  Further, he has so far been silent on the military policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell”.  Based on President Clinton’s messy and delusional foray into gays in the military, which was his first policy move when he took office, it is understandable that President Obama has held back on defining public policy in the arena of sexual politics.  Additionally, DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is an outright assault on individual rights, as subtle as it pretends to be.  It is about as subtle as an elephant walking through a mine field.  But this is an area that will need to be dealt with because clearly, current policy is an infringement of individual rights.  Baby steps.  Inch by inch.  Unfortunately though, our gay and lesbian citizens justifiably want equality now but will have to endure further prejudice and humiliation before this process is complete.

Mark my words: in Iran and here in America the fight for equality and freedom WILL prevail.  True: I am mad as hell about the electoral shenanigans in Iran and the unwillingness here in America to extend Constitutional rights to all of our citizens.  But social change, which underlies and must precede  political or legal change, must run its course.  This is of no solace to those who want what is due them now.  Hold on (I know, easy for me to say).  It’s coming.  Once the issues are out there in the public arena, the necessary changes will happen.  After all, the leaders, whatever their intentions may be, good, bad or indifferent, will  succumb to the voice of the people.  The elective process is the basis for this.  No matter how corrupt and twisted the process may be, once the word is out that injustice has prevailed, the leaders, if they want to hold on to their power, will adapt.

In our world of little baby steps, the accumulative result will be a huge sea-change for the greater good.

No to Negativity

June 13, 2009

You can’t win for losing.  In order for good things to happen, we all must first acknowledge that the capacity for good exists.  That is not an option for many people in our world who have negative outlooks and will never, ever change their take.

I publish some of my posts on Daily KOS and the comments from “Lefties” are rife with negativity — on everything.  They just tear down everything in one fell swoop; they allow no room for a somewhat rosier outlook or even consideration of a partial solution to our many problems.  President Obama usually takes the fire first hand, no matter what the topic or policy is.

No less harmful, this negativity is also embraced by the Republicans, Conservatives, right-wingers, whatever you choose to call them.  In the midst of an economic meltdown, a war on ethics, environmental disaster in the making, international nuclear proliferation on the verge of unthinkable explosion, continued global terrorism and our very own homegrown war of hate here in America (How’s that for negativity?), the GOP has sat pat, offered no new ideas or solutions to these problems and then had the gall to criticize our President for any successes he may have accomplished.  For them to label the President a “Socialist” but not combine  that attack with any answers of their own is self-defeatist and void of any positive outcome.  Regarding President Obama’s economic policies, which have given our financial institutions a “save” from the brink of disaster, Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post writes :

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/11/AR2009061104224.html?wprss=rss_business

The right and the left can only tear down; they are incapable of building up.  The outcome is that the people they were elected to represent get squat, all for the sake of destruction, rather than construction.

Within a larger context, moving from the constant criticism of policy to its natural outgrowth of hate in general, Paul Krugman writes  in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/12/opinion/12krugman.html

Krugman’s premise of hate bubbling to the surface in America is what really scares me.  Remember: the Nazis came into power in the 1920’s and 1930’s as a result of economic hardship.  Their extreme hatred, which translated into the slaughter of  millions and millions of people, was a response to the helplessness and hopelessness sweeping their country.  So the Nazis, embracing their hatred as a cure-all for their misery, lashed out at a group of people who they thought were responsible for all of the negative circumstances.

The Nazis’ premise of misguided blame stemmed from a depressed economy, fueled by the need for social retaliation and spread far and wide to create scapegoating and murder.  I fear that continued negativity coupled with hard times is an incubator for hate crimes, turmoil and social unrest.  The Conservatives and the Lefties are walking a very dangerous line by dwelling on only the bad things and not recognizing when and where progress has been made.  Their steady attention to hardship and hard times serves to add more fuel to the already raging fire.  Their lack of any alternative antidotes to Obama’s policies further increase the anger and social instability.  On a deeper level, our country must act swiftly, decisively and harshly against any hate crime, such as those based on race, religion and sexual orientation.  It is time to raise the standard for decent behavior, and back that up by setting the example by punishing those people who carry out such heinous crimes.

What do you think is going on in Iran today, even as we speak?  Yup: they are following an example of positivity, of hope.  They are holding national elections for their top civilian post.  The incumbent, Ahmadinejad,  looks like he might have to cede power to Mousavi.  Keep  in mind though, that there are four candidates in the running, so that a run-off looks probable.  At any rate, what the Iranians want is what we have: hope in the face of change.  President Obama, against all the odds that are stacked against him, has maintained that positive outlook, that constructive position, that underlying  approach that embodies rewards, results and effectiveness.  Can sanity be infecting the world?  Progress, whether it be political, economic or social, is contagious.  Is it not more beneficial to have a positive outlook than an overriding negative mindset?

Mind you, I am not that naive that I believe  looking at the world through rose colored glasses is the answer.  Certainly not: solutions to issues must be prefaced by plain old hard work, innovation and the willingness to take risks.  The GOP has so far been unable to muster up enough guts to partake in these three necessities for progress.  Unfortunately, this behavior (or lack thereof) has not only created an ideological vacuum, but also has fertilized the ground for extremist behavior to succeed.  This is not playing politics; it has turned into murder and mayhem.

I encourage each individual, each community, each society, each nation, to recognize accomplishments that are on the side of moderation, to give our President a chance to get the work done.  His intentions are honorable, and even a partial success in various areas is a victory for all of us.  What WILL NOT work, and certainly WILL prevent,  the promotion of our general well-being, is the constant attention given to the negative side of things.  It is poison.  Negativity fosters negativity, which in turn, breeds plain old hatred.

Weekend Ha-Ha’s

June 12, 2009

‘Tis finally Friday.  To be sure you start the weekend on a humorous note, I offer you the following:

1.  A couple of weeks ago when President Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, Jimmy Fallon had these words to say:

History was made today when President Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the first female Hispanic justice to serve in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Obama said this should help keep the court from leaning too far to the white.

2.  Never let it be said that President Obama does not have a sense of humor.  Here is a recent clip (literally!) of Steven Colbert obeying the orders of his Commander in Chief:

3.  Finally, over the years, my children and husband have GRUDGINGLY watered my garden when I was out of town.  They hated doing it and never let me forget about it.  So here is my acknowledgment of their suffering and my tribute to their misery:

Hi …. I need a small favor … If it’s not too much trouble.


I am going away on vacation, and I need a friend to come
over to water my plants while I am gone.

The plants are mostly geraniums and begonias.
In the hot weather they’ll probably need water only
twice a day. I’ll be gone only 21 days. I’ve attached a photo for your reference.


I’ll send you a post card.


Thanks. 🙂

ATT00000

The Era of Obama

June 11, 2009

I was very pleased to read this analysis of current affairs in Iran, written by Roger Cohen  of the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/11/opinion/11iht-edcohen.html

The developments not only buoy the centuries old politically and culturally advanced Persian realm, but also creates new hope that Iran will go the good route.  In plain and simple words, and not to lessen the importance of Iran’s own ancient and sophisticated history, I do believe that this fight for right in Iran has been fueled by Barack Obama.  He has been in office now for five months and his international influence is already apparent.  The reason?  Cohen nails the change in the air in Iran perfectly:

Why the sudden turbulence? Here we come to the third critical characteristic of this campaign. Radicalism in the Bush White House bred radicalism in Iran, making life easy for Ahmadinejad. President Obama’s outreach, by contrast, has unsettled the regime.

It is still too early to credit Barack Obama with a transformation in our entire world.  At least, Barack Obama’s rise to leadership had enabled people all over the world to imagine what freedom can be.  At best, he has fostered the principles of freedom and justice to be the core of any political system and now the people know that they must never settle for anything less.

Hush.  Let’s wait and see.  I am optimistic.