17 August 2012

What the hell is this election about? Why can't we make amends with Iran? and How the hell did we come to this?

Thus far the pundits, the candidates, the press, the spinsters, and the activists on the far right and left have been shouting from the mountains their definitions of what the Romney versus Obama campaign is all about.  Is it about the economy, taxes, the future, the vision of America?

Probably not.  The differences between the two camps are not large enough for that.

The most striking quality about the Romney ticket is that both Rep. Ryan and Mr. Romney epitomize all that seems broken in a capitalist system.  Both are extremely wealthy.  Both are extremely out of touch with working-class Americans.  Both favor trickle-down economics.

As for Pres. Obama, he seems woefully out of touch with working class Americans and seems content to rail against the rich without actually having to make any actual policy or recommendation other than raising their taxes.  Raising taxes will not solve our budget problems nor will it solve the more fundamental problems in American society.

America faces a massive divide between the poor, working class and the extremely rich.  Because of this epic divide there are vast gaps in educational attainments, imprisonment rates, employment rates, foreclosure rates, investment opportunities, housing possibilities, foreclosure rates, and on and on.

Neither Pres. Obama nor Mr. Romney has a plan to fix what ails America today.

But Romney's plans will magnify our problems and worsen the economic woes.  Already today jobs are scarce while corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars.  Rich dudes like Romney and Ryan hide heaps of cash in the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, while most of us try to tread water on less than a eight hundred dollars a month.  Those that run out of energy drown.

Some of the recent federal investments have been directed at helping underwater homeowners bail out through refinancing with major lenders without closing costs.  The federal government picks up the closing costs, the homeowner stays in her home.  But it has been underutilized as banks are far less eager to pass out cash at lower rates to folks with mediocre credit records.

Foreclosures are still stacking up.  Who's to blame for this mess?  Republicans are quick to blame the Obama administration but the economy has been in a tailspin since the Bush administration led us into two endless wars.

Pres. Obama and the Democrats can be accused of not doing enough.  They spent nearly the first two years trying to reform the health care system, eventually settling on the weak Affordable Care Act but not accomplishing much more.  While admitting that the war on drugs had failed, Mr. Obama introduced no new approach, and while promising transparency in 2004, Mr. Obama resorted to covert tactics.  Yet, it took a ton of wriggling and wagering just to get a Republican healthcare reform proposal passed without Republican approval.

While Democrats can be blamed for not doing enough, Republicans ought to be blamed for doing nothing but making matters worse.

Cuts to programs that assist the working poor have exaggerated struggles.  Republican governors have refused to initiate health care reforms as mandated by the ACA designed to insure a majority of the uninsured Americans and proposed cuts to effective programs like BadgerCare in Wisconsin will leave millions more without insurance creating a wider gulf between the haves and have nots.

Mr. Romney and Rep. Ryan propose to continue with failed voodoo economics that favor the already extremely wealthy like themselves and mire the poor in abject poverty.

It's time the American people determine what this election should be about not the talking heads.  We don't need to hear more about cutting taxes for the so called job creators - they haven't created many living wage jobs and are still loaded with cash - and we don't need to hear more about whose vision of America is more reflective of what America is supposed to be.  What we really need is some real policy change in this country.  Republicans don't seem willing to do that besides cutting funding and taxes.  A policy that makes no sense whatsoever.

If the campaign continues the way it's going, the really revealing story will be how many Americans are buffoon enough to vote for Republicans.  There is just no feasible way Republican policies will lead to anything but further economic hardship for the struggling working class.  Their policies will lead to more inequality as the top reaps and the bottom is cast to sow.

The only hope is that the Democrats will grow a pair and start proposing some real reform; a story line that seems as remote as Mars at best.

Unbelievably Democrats think that they still have to be tougher than Republicans when it comes to foreign policy.  Today there is nothing Mr. Romney can do to get to the right of Mr. Obama.  Even the amicable and amiable Herb Kohl  has decided to toe the hard line.

I am referring to the government's lack of diplomacy with Iran.  The anti-Iranian rhetoric and draconian sanctions persist and will carry through the elections and possibly next year.  It is a fundamental flaw in Washington's philosophy that severe sanctions and veiled threats of war will discourage Iran from nuclear advancements.

The most bizarre aspect of the Iranian situation is that the rhetoric from Washington hasn't changed for 30 years.  Doesn't that seem odd that no matter which party held the office of President America failed to make headway in negotiations with the Persians?

Perhaps the best opportunity in the last thirty years for some reconciliation between the US and Iran was during the Khatami and Clinton eras but Clinton seemingly refused to meet with Khatami.  When GW Bush was elected all reasonable thoughts of any conciliatory effort evaporated when Bush II lumped Iran in with North Korea as part of the Axis of Evil.  That probably was not the most effective way to bury the hatchet of distrust.

In 2004, The Atlantic ran a piece on the repercussions of a war with Iran.  The first presumption James Fallows made in the article was that Iran was three years away from a nuclear bomb.  The second presumption was that if Iran were to construct a nuclear bomb, they may use it against Israel.  Both of these presumptions could be false, in fact the first has been proven to be.  Iran has, according to the Iranian government, not developed nuclear weapons.

As a part of Fallows' presumptions, he enlisted a group of "experts" to conduct a series of war games.  The result of the war games illustrated very clearly that "as a tool to slow or stop Iran's progress toward nuclear weaponry - the available military options are all likely to fail."

So why are so many people in the US talking up war with Iran?  Empty threats will only demean us.  Americans need to urge Pres. Obama and members of congress to open diplomatic talks with Iranian officials.  It's time to end the charade and work toward peace.  There is some recent hope.  In the last year America loosened restrictions on multiple entry Visas for Iranian students.  That's a sign of loosened tentions, perhaps.  Secondly in the wake of the devastating earthquakes that have killed hundreds in and around Tabriz, Iran has accepted foreign aid.  It could prove to be a vital breakthrough.  Sometimes it takes great tragedy to bring people together - a lesson GW Bush could have used after Sept. 11, 2001. 

The result of the failed war on drugs:

According to Harper's Index, June 2012 edition:
Number of inmates in federal prison for drug convictions, per 100,000 US adults, in 1987: 6.8
Number of inmates in federal prison for drug convictions, per 100,000 US adults, in 2011: 38.7
The cost of incarceration per inmate per year in a federal prison according to the Bureau of Prisons: ~$27,000


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