Sunday, August 30, 2009

political process

Watching the political process these days has me frightened. It seems that there are folk on the right who are pushing things far beyond what is acceptable. I know that when Bush was in office there were those who compared him with Hitler and did and said some things that were inappropriate. Still, things have gone far beyond that at this point when people who call themselves Christians are praying for the death of the president.

I'd like to share a blog I read the other day from Harold's Left. I think he did such a good job that rather than just link it, I'd like to just quote the entire blog entry... I think it is an important read.

Harold's Left:

There is a silent group of American citizens who are set to launch a campaign of hate and possibly terror against the American government. Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona is one of the leaders of this new movement of hate. From his pulpit Anderson spews words that are vicious by any qualification, lulling hundreds of followers into believing a rhetoric that is not only violent, it's treasonous.

"Nope. I'm not gonna pray for his good. I'm going to pray that he dies and goes to hell. When I go to bed tonight, that's what I'm going to pray. And you say, 'Are you just saying that?' No. When I go to bed tonight, Steven L. Anderson is going to pray for Barack Obama to die and go to hell."

These words, in and of themselves, are not illegal. The problem is Anderson is amassing a hard-core group of "New Christian Soldiers" who believe it is their duty to save America from the devil that is Barack Obama. These "soldiers" are not carrying the Bible or scripture to rallies and protests, they are carrying AR-15's and pistols. Anderson went on to say:

"And yet you're going to tell me that I'm supposed to pray for the socialist devil, murderer, infanticide, who wants to see young children and he wants to see babies killed through abortion and partial-birth abortion and all these different things -- you're gonna tell me I'm supposed to pray for God to give him a good lunch tomorrow while he's in Phoenix, Arizona."

During this visit that Anderson refers to last week, in which the president was in Phoenix to discuss health care reform, one of his followers brought an AR-15 to the event. Okay, so lets connect the dots a bit. Hate spewing pastor preaches consistently that Barack Obama is the devil, wishes him dead, and one of his followers brings an AR-15 to a presidential event... Not sure about you, but that sounds like an extremely threatening posture. Moreover, this group of protesters, most of whom were armed, went on long monologues right outside the security perimeter about how Obama is an imminent threat to America. The critics on the Right claim that he was "outside the security perimeter", therefore he is legal in his actions. True, his actions were legal, however we need to rethink the security perimeter. An AR-15 assault rifle is essentially the same rifle I have used for years as an infantryman. It has a maximum range of over 3000 meters (nearly 2 miles) and a maximum effective range of 500 meters (over 5 football fields). Is it acceptable to have these weapons anywhere near the president? If there is legal justification to stop all air traffic near the president, is it not equally permissible to stop assault rifles? Where does that boundary begin? Are we going to allow right-wing lunatics to set up machine gun positions with anti-tank mines outside of presidential events too, all in the name of the "2nd Amendment"?

Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks asked a particularly important question on his video blog this week. First it was one guy with a pistol in New Hampshire, now 12 fanatics with pistols and assault rifles in phoenix. What do we do if 200 people show up with semi-automatics weapons to a presidential event? According to Sean Hannity these protesters are just "honest Americans upset by a leftist administration".

I'd like to counter Hannity's garbage logic with a fictitious, but analogous situation. Let's say it's 2005 and a group of Muslims does not agree with the policies of the Bush administration in Iraq. Bush had Biblical verses on his daily intelligence briefing, which this Muslin group took as the president attempting a holy crusade against Muslims. So the Imam at a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, all of his members being American citizens, spews vicious hate against Bush and the current American government. He spews this hate by advocating for the death of the president, saying he should go to hell. Furthermore, this Imam rallies his followers to take up arms. Consequently, at a Bush event in Ann Arbor 15 Muslims from this mosque show up with AK-47's and pistols, right outside the event. At the event they are chanting "Allah hu Akbar" and telling the press that Bush's administration must be stopped at all costs. Sound familiar? Only difference is that we can all agree that the reaction by the government, the people, and the media would be vastly different in my scenario. There would be arrests, indictments, and full use of the Patriot Act. Fox News and the Republican Party would be branding this as a new threat to American security, just as I suspect MSNBC and the Democratic Party would as well.

The blatant hypocrisy in this debate does not make this threat by Christian extremist groups like NCS any less deadly. In fact, it may only heighten the threat because these groups are allowed to operate so freely. The alignment of Christian extremists, right-wing militias, and white nationalists is mixing to form a undeniably dangerous threat to American safety. Especially since many of the people in these groups are armed, fanatical, and truly believe that they are patriots. I still believe that Muslim extremism is indeed a threat to our national security, that is evidenced by 9-11. However, in the future our gravest threat may by from a group of people that come from within our boarders and who some on the Right call "true Americans"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

why we need universal health care

here's a simple explanation of why we need government provided health insurance

if you have a blog, add this to it. If not, e-mail it to all of your friends. we need to get the message out there.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

socialist fire departments

The question regarding health care continues to be the same... is it a right or a privilege.

I came across a wonderful group on Facebook - 1 Million Strong Against Our Socialist Fire Departments.

Evidently, prior to the Chicago Fire, fire protection in most or all of the USA was not "socialized." Individuals paid monthly fees to private, for profit, fire companies to protect their homes. For your monthly fee, you got a badge that you placed in the window. If a fire started and the company responded, they would fight the fire if they saw the badge. If you didn't have the badge but your neighbor did, they would hose down the neighbor's house to keep the fire from spreading. If neither had a badge, they returned to their station and let the fire burn. After the Chicago fire, it was decided that there was a better way to protect people from fire and fire departments became "socialist."

I have to say that as I have watched the fires in the hills above Santa Barbara over the past year plus, I am glad for socialism.

Why is fire protection a responsibility of the government and health care is not? We all pay to make sure our neighbor's house doesn't burn down, but if they are suffering from illness, we turn away. Doesn't make sense to me.

Perhaps we need to resubmit Teddy Kennedy's 2007 bill that would have extended Medicare to all Americans?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Billionaires for Wealthcare

Watch the stats as they go by on the bottom of the screen. Those plus the $1.4 million a day paid by the insurance industry to lobby against healthcare reform ought to raise some eyebrows.

I like the idea and wish they weren't quite so silly with it... and I hope it is helping some people to think a bit more about the issue. I really like the additional tactic of having waiver forms at town meetings for people to sign up to opt out of medicare, after all it is a single payer, government run insurance program. So if they are against a public option, they should be against it as well. And ditto for the Congress people. If they are so against the public option, let them tell their constituencies they want to abolish medicare. If they aren't willing to do that, then they are liars. We need a strong public option or better yet, a single payer system.

And yes, I know there are problems with Medicare (many of them caused by the same lobbyists) but it is an effective and necessary program, without which many of our seniors would be unable to have any healthcare because they would be unable to get insurance from any for profit company. They bring too much risk to the table. So fix it... and enlarge the improved version to be available for all citizens.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Guitars & Poverty

Jay Duncan, a luthier from Canada has done one of the coolest things ever... as a way of helping some folk in Uganda to become self-sufficient, he has taught them to build guitars and is selling them through the the Duncan Africa Society. The prices are reasonable for a handmade guitar and the cause is amazing. I hope they're able to really get this project off the ground.

And if you are looking for a guitar AND a way to make a difference in an individual's life along with all of that person's network of relationships, look into one of these guitars.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

racism in US politics

here is a wonderful short article by Tim Wise on the role of racism in the current yelling from the right wing.

Red-Baiting and Racism: Socialism as the New Black Bogeyman

well worth a read

Jon Stewart on the town hall meetings

I especially like the hypocrisy around 5:00...

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Monday, August 10, 2009

the real issue

I often listen to talk radio as I drive and for part of my commute to church, the only station I can get is right wing talk radio. So, for fifteen or twenty minutes, I listen to whoever is on. Today, I came to work a bit late as it is normally my day off, and I turned on Rush Limbaugh. I have to say that I find him one of the most obnoxious people alive. Still, in listening to him, the real issue in the debate about health care became clear.

It is not about freedom of choice. Anyone who raises that issue is either naive or lying. The only people who have freedom of choice are those who have enough resources that they can afford to pay, out of pocket, for any health care they desire. Everyone else, regardless of what kind of insurance or lack of insurance they have is at the mercy of the system. If you have private insurance, they make the choices. If you have a government sponsored insurance like Medicare, they make the choices. If you have no insurance, there are no choices to be made.

It is not about the slippery slope to socialism. This morning, Limbaugh tied what he referred to as socialized medicine as Hitler's first step to taking over Germany and implied that if we go that way, we will face the same fate that Germany experienced in the 30's. Of course, that argument ignores the evidence that every other industrialized country has a system that Mr. L would call socialist. They haven't all followed in Hitler's footsteps.

No, the issue is whether or not health care is a part of the commons. Does everyone have a right to health care or is it a commodity to be purchased only by the rich. In other words, do we as a society owe health care to the poor. The question is that simple. How one answers the question determines where one can come out on this argument. If health care is a right to be enjoyed by everyone, then the government must become involved. If it is not, then our current for-profit system is fine.

As a person who tries to follow Jesus, the answer seems pretty clear to me.