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The Difference Between You and I

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

healthcareThere are two primary sides with the loudest voices over today’s media-political landscape. On the right, you have the people fighting for the rights of the wealthy, largely against our president and against a public option in health care for fear of “more government” in our lives. On the left, you have the people fighting for the rights of the middle and lower classes, mostly with our president and for a public health care option. I could pine on and on about which side I agree with and why. Normally I would, but instead I want only to discuss the tactical differences between these two sides.

The tactics of the right have been the most prominent, primarily because said tactic has been simply to be as loud as possible. And what better way to cause people to raise their voices and make them heard (regardless of their message) than to instill in those people either anger, fear or both? And so, day after day, we have talk radio and FOX News opinion pundits preaching to their audiences just that: anger and fear. They do not give intelligent analysis to their propaganda, but intelligent analysis is not the point. The point is that the sky is falling, the government wants to kill or rob you and health care is their ticket to do so.

Coming up over the ensuing weeks, these people have arranged more of these “tea parties” that Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and the rest of FOX News have been hyping up. This round is considerably more subdued, occurring high school gyms and Wal Mart parking lots among other tiny locations (a sign your movement is dying, tea baggers). At these things, misinformed Americans of all backgrounds…no…wait. At these things, misinformed Americans of a predominantly European background get together with signs depicting sloppy, victimized slogans and pictures of President Obama as Hitler. They pat one another on the back and cheer on a mixed agenda opposing any change just might be in the best interest of America.

We can’t fully blame these folks for their ignorance. They’re merely doing what the media man recommends. It’s this media man who deserves the full brunt of the blame. Again, they are utilizing anger and fear to mobilize otherwise innocent Americans against better health care, our president, our government and whatever blanket statement these pundits choose to attach to the antipathy. They are creating a mess and asking you to help. That’s the bottom line.

So what’s going on with the opposition then? Until very recently, not much. Those on the left have merely watched in disbelief and sadness. There have been comments made on more liberal news outlets, of course, but not without facts to back them up (the difference between FOX “News” and other news). Mostly, though, there has been little they could do to prevent this American erosion.

Then, last week, Keith Olbermann, host of Countdown, decided to use his platform proactively. Basically, it comes down to this: There are six senators who are on the fence regarding the public option in health care reform. With them, their votes could block a republican filibuster, allowing reform to pass with relative ease. And yet, they refuse to make up their mind due to reasons ranging from insurance lobbying to pure ignorance. As a result, Olbermann has teamed up with the National Association of Free Clinics in an attempt to positively sway those key senators and show skeptic Americans just what can be done when we work for the betterment of our society.

Basically, Olbermann has used his program to ask his viewers and other concerned Americans simply to donate any amount of money to The National Association of Free Clinics. These donations are then going to be used to set up free clinics in the most needy districts of the states under these senators. So far, he has raised several million dollars…enough to set up three free clinics so far. (Little Rock, Arkansas, New Orleans, Louisiana and Kansas City, Missouri are the first to receive them.)

Notice the difference in tactics between the sides of the debate? One sows disarray and fear while the other pushes forth pragmatism and social betterment. What else does a person need to know in order to determine which viewpoint is better for this country?

You can check out a transcript and complete video of Olbermann’s initial idea by clicking here.

You can donate to the National Association of Free Clinics by clicking here.

Public Schools: Obama is Iffy, but McDonalds is Awesome!

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

evil-mcdonaldsRemember a few weeks ago when the more paranoid among we Americans were living in dire fear regarding President Obama’s speech to the school children of the world? They were afraid he was going to mass hypnotize our kids and convince them to do something socialist…like joining Americorps, or giving a dollar to a homeless man. In the end, of course, the President’s message was simply that of inspirational basics. Stay in school…work hard…take your vitamins…whatever.

In case you missed it, here are some highlights…with some NASCAR people to kick it off, ironically.

All that freaking out over this? Okay. Whatever. We’ve come to expect it from the rightwing clowns, but we’ll get into a deeper discussion of clowns later.

My girlfriend’s son from a previous marriage is in first grade. His class did not watch the speech on the day it aired. Instead, the school presumably wanted to check it out first and make sure it was kosher. A few days later, they decided to show it to the classes, but not without a permission slip, signed by each child’s parents. Ridiculous, I know. And indeed, appalling, as my my girlfriend noted across the top of the release.

On the day of the viewing, some of the children had to leave the room. Let me say that again. Because of their parents’ right wing paranoia, several first graders were not permitted to sit in the same room as a television which showed the President of the United States speaking about the importance of being a good person. (And I wonder how many of these same children are familiar with Family Guy or Halo.) Okay. Whatever. People are stupid. We’ve already seen this at the teaparties, 9/12 protest and FOX News. What mattered is that my girlfriend’s son saw it and he was inspired.

Flash forward.

A few days later, he comes home from school hyped on the idea that he wants to sell coupon books. Of course, the reason he wants to sell coupon books is because the company that put the coupon books together came to his school, held an assembly and gave a pep talk about them.

These coupon books are full of “great deals” from a thick stack of corporate entities. They are ten dollars apiece and the more the children sell, the bigger the prizes they get. Apparently, the greatest prize, if they sell 100 of the coupon books, is a free trip to the zoo. So one hundred coupon books at ten dollars apiece basically equates to a $1000 trip to the zoo. So that’s $750 that apparently goes back to the school, leaving about $10 to cover the trip to the zoo and about $240 in the pockets of the coupon publishers. I guess it’s a lesson in capitalism.

My girlfriend’s son noted that as the coupon book people were giving their speech and announcing the “prizes,” the children of the school were cheering at every open moment. He found it particularly amusing that they cheered for the prize of a free dinner at McDonalds. He’s not very big on McDonalds, but even if he was, it’s still a lame reward for generating money for adults.

Okay. Here’s the deal. We try not to disallow him from doing anything that interests him. For better or for worse, he does want to try to flip a few coupon books and we have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is this:

Why did the students need a permission slip to see a self empowerment speech by the President of the United States of America, but no such permission was needed for a sales pitch from a corporate spokesperson? Why is it controversial for President Obama to talk to our children about working hard, but no mind is paid whatsoever to some random school administrator trying to win over our children with free junk food? Isn’t that almost on par with a stranger offering them candy?

This is highly reflective of the backwards priorities of this country right now, and particularly the Southeastern United States where I live. People who are supposed to be adults are teaching children to hate and fear our government, but to respect and love corporations, or at least the consumable products that these corporations are killing us with. These same so-called adults are then turning around and speaking out against health care reform. Effectively, this means they are simultaneously encouraging poor health in our children while fighting against their ability to receive quality care for that poor health.

Come on, America. Are we really that blindingly ignorant, or are we just that stubborn? Either way, it’s terrible parenting.


9-12 Protesters: This Has Got to be a Joke

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

I’m beginning this blog on September 12, 2009 – the eve of the 9-12 rally on the mall in Washington DC. This is in the vein of those anti-government “teaparties” that have been popping up with the support and coordination of FOX News and FreedomWorks, Dick Armey’s lobbying outfit. The attendees tend to believe today’s rally, as well as the other tea parties, are simply a grassroots effort made by “true patriots” coming together. It’s so strange that they believe that because they probably wouldn’t be there if they didn’t watch FOX News, and yet the FOX pushing and promotion of these events is unrelenting. So I guess we can just chalk it up to the obvious: They believe whatever they tell themselves to believe, despite evidence against it.

Okay. So what are these people so angry about? We just went through eight years of the Bush regime, spending this country into oblivion so that their corporate buddies could become billionaires. Where were these protesters then?

Oh wait. That’s right. George Bush was a white dude. I guess they just can’t identify with Obama because, well…check out this video:

Can you spot the black guy? (Hint: No. There isn’t one.)

And doesn’t that look like a LOT OF FUN? Sure! They can all be themselves since they are around their own kind. Wanna throw the “N” word around a little? Go ahead. No one’s gonna care. They’ll probably giggle a little.

I’d like to make it known, though, that I am a white guy, myself. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m some minority fellow with a chip on his shoulder. Watching the video, though, it’s pretty difficult not to call a spade a spade. But let’s leave race aside. Maybe a few of these overprivileged and/or overignorant folks really do think dumping money into the Middle East makes more sense than dumping money back into America. Maybe race is just a sidebar to their true anger.

But again, where is their true anger based? (Hint: Wherever Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity tell them to base it.)

It seems that the primary issue with these people is about spending. They are absolutely outraged that Obama wants to give stimulus money to each of our states, and also to healthcare reform. Since that’s money that ends up going directly into the needs of the taxpayers, themselves, I’d have to liken this angry teabagging to biting the hand that feeds them.

So we have these “common people,” so sucked into the FOX News spin cycle, and so faithful in its propaganda, that they come to side with corporate entities they know nothing about. Corporations that prey on them. Health insurance companies being the most prominent offenders as of late. It’s these “profit at all costs on the backs of anyone” practices that President Obama is specifically working against, while also trying to throw in a few perks regarding energy and domestic production as well. And though these teabaggers are victims of this exact system Obama is working to change, they blindly fight him tooth and nail. It’s that ignorant rebellion without cause that ruins it for the rest of us.

Okay. Taxation. Where has this supposed increase in taxes shown up? There is no more being taken out of my paycheck then there was in 2008. Obama said from the beginning and still contends today that the only taxes that will increase will be on those individuals making $250,000 or more per year. Granted, some in that bracket may find that off putting, but really, why should they? Is it not fair that they do pay more taxes as a way of giving back to the country that allowed them to earn that much money in the first place? I can also assure you that the majority of those teabaggers at the 9-12 rally are not pulling $250,000 a year. Again, they are fighting themselves.

Health care. I do not understand why anyone would oppose health care reform in America. The need is so evident it glows. Looking at the health systems of all the other industrialized democratic nations of the world, installation of a single payer system in America seems like good common sense. And yet so many for health care reform are willing to compromise by going with a public option, or even just a nonprofit option. Then come these angry, screaming, misinformed teabaggers. Even a public or nonprofit option is not good to them. This is where my blood boils. As an American, in defense of my supposed right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, am I not just as entitled to a public option as anyone else would be to a private option?

That’s the bottom line. For these people, if it’s not what benefits them, then it should not exist around them. If it’s something they choose not to experience, they then insist that no one should. Gay marriage, abortion, any religion that is not Christianity…and now nonprofit health care.

In interviews from the 9-12 rally, I’ve heard people echo the idea that government is supposed to work for the people. I agree. The difference between them and I is that I’m willing to allow government to work the people. After the past eight years, I’d have to concur that it’s time.