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Unforgettable Announcement That Shook The World

(category: Commentary, Word count: 519)
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It has been more than a decade since the Cold War is over. Being used to the surprises of history, we need to recall some of the facts of the past in order to trace the political movements of that time and their ways to get public attention. International sporting events is a great way to attract attention to s certain issue. When the Cold War reached its peak of development, the delegation from Soviet Union boycotted the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984. It was something that might happen and a direct proof was received by officials two-three weeks before the official opening. The bad news was that some other countries from the East of Europe joined the boycott. Romania was the only country to participate in the Olympic Games representing the East of Europe. Actions of Cuba that also joined the boycott also were surprising and even shocking.

Official delegation from the Soviet Union accused the US of commercialization and poor security precautions that may put athletes in danger. After careful analyses of the situation the analysts came to the conclusion that these actions are a fair response to the boycott of the Olympic Games of 1980 by American athletes. This was a protest against the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 by Russian troops. I remember my preparation to article writing when I was tracing the details of the situation. There were only a few officials that believed in stated reason. The others didn't believe in USSR's explanations and supported the White House who considered all this to be another political act. The officials stated that the security level is high enough for athletes to feel comfortable. Nearly 140 athletes took part in the competition. But the overall view of the competition highlights the average level of quality of the Games. Most of the athletes that boycotted the event were the medal holders of the previous games in 1980. Therefore every Olympic Champion of 1984 feels that his title could have been taken by the other athlete if there was a chance to reduce the conflict.

The Games were quite successful, but the essence of politics being involved in every sporting event still exists, though now The Olympic Games are quite profitable an don't have to rely on the financial aid of the government. Nowadays, same as a decade ago, countries fight over a right to hold Olympic Games. Sometimes these events are used for political gains and features. We remember the games held in Nazi Germany that were dangerously politicized and is remembered not only for outstanding results, but also for shocking accidents that took even people's lives. Nowadays there are no major conflicts but some countries claim the Olympiad of 2008 in Beijing is another political discrimination act. Though the Olympic Committee stays categorical, the conflict will be about to appear closer to the beginning of the games. The truth is that politics and sports will be inseparable in the future though it is told that the main aim of such events is only to gain International friendship.

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America S Second Civil War

(category: Commentary, Word count: 1231)
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Reprinted with permission from:

"The Second Civil War in the USA and its Aftermath" by Sam Vaknin (second, revised impression, 2029)

Summary of Chapter 83

"The polities of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries swung between extremes of nationalism and polyethnic multiculturalism. Following the Great War (1914-8), the disintegration of most of the continental empires - notably the Habsburg and Ottoman - led to a resurgence of a particularly virulent strain of the former, dressed as Fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism.

The aftermath of the Second World War brought on a predictable backlash in the West against all manner of nationalism and racism. The USSR, Yugoslavia, the Czech Republic, the EU (European Union, then European Community), the Commonwealth led by the United Kingdom, and the prominent USA epitomized the eventual triumph of multiculturalism, multi-ethnic states, and, in the Western democracies, pluralism.

Africa and Asia, just emerging from a phase of brutal colonialism, were out of synch with these developments in Europe and North America and began to espouse their own brands of jingoistic patriotisms. Attempts to impose liberal-democratic, multi-cultural, tolerant, pluralistic, and multi-ethnic principles on these emergent entities was largely perceived and vehemently rejected by them as disguised neo-colonialism.

The disintegration, during the second half of the twentieth century, of the organizing principles of international affairs - most crucially Empire in the 1960s and Communism in the 1980s - led to the re-eruption of exclusionary, intolerant, and militant nationalism. The Balkan secession wars of the 1990s served as a stark reminder than historical forces and ideologies never vanish - they merely lie dormant.

Polyethnic multiculturalism came under attack elsewhere and everywhere - from Canada to Belgium. Straining to contain this worrisome throwback to its tainted history, Europeans implemented various models. In the United Kingdom, regions, such as Scotland and Northern Ireland were granted greater autonomy. The EU's "ever closer union", reified by its unfortunate draft constitution, was intermittently rejected and resented by increasingly xenophobic and alienated constituencies.

This time around, between 1980 and 2020, nationalism copulated with militant religiosity to produce particularly nasty offspring in Muslim terrorism, Christian fundamentalist (American) thuggish unilateralism, Hindu supremacy, and Jewish messianism. Scholars, such as Huntington, spoke of a "clash of civilizations".

Ironically, the much-heralded conflict took place not between the USA and its enemies without - but within the United States, in a second and devastating Civil War.

Americans long mistook the institutional stability of their political system, guaranteed by the Constitution, for a national consensus. They actually believed that the former guarantees the latter - that institutional firmness and durability ARE the national consensus. The reverse, as we know, is true: it takes a national consensus to yield stable institutions. No social structure - no matter how venerable and veteran - can resist the winds of change in public sentiment.

In hindsight, the watershed obtained during the Bush-Cheney presidency (2001-2009). The social and political concord frayed and then disintegrated with each successive blow: the war in Iraq (2003-7), the botched evacuation and rescue efforts in the wake of hurricane Katrina (2005), the failed assassination attempt on the President's life (2006), the further restrictions placed on civil and human rights in Patriot Acts III and IV (2008), and, finally, the nuclear terrorist attack on Houston in the closing days of this divisive reign.

From there, it went only downhill.

As opposed to the first Civil War (1860-5), the Second Civil War (2021-26) was fought within communities and across state boundaries. It was not territorial and classic - but total and guerilla-like. It cut across the country's geography and pitted one ideological camp against another.

It may be too soon to objectively analyze and evaluate this gargantuan conflict. It was preceded by a decade of violent demonstrations, home-grown urban terrorism, and numerous skirmishes involving the National Guard and even, in violation of the Constitution, the armed forces.

Some historians cast the whole period as a battle of the religious vs. the secular. It clearly was not. By 2021, most Americans professed to being deeply religious, in one manner or fashion. No one seriously disputed the importance of the Church - but many insisted on its separation from the state.

Hence the protracted (and heated) confrontation between pro-life and pro-choice advocates when Wade vs. Roe was overturned by a politicized and weakened Supreme Court in 2007. Hence the drawn out (and violent) debates about the teaching of evolution theory in schools or the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research.

Nor was the Civil War fought between isolationists and interventionists. An ever more brazen brand of post-September 11 global terrorism and a growing dependence on international trade inexorably drove most Americans to accept their new role as an Empire. They actually learned to enjoy it, both emotionally and economically.

Thus, even erstwhile Jacksonian isolationists reluctantly acquiesced in their country's foreign exploits. But they insisted on blatant unilateralism and the projection of American might merely and only to protect American interests. They abhorred the missionary ideology of the neo-conservatives. Spreading values, such as democracy, should better be left to NGOs and charities - they thundered.

The Civil War was not about the preservation of East Coast liberalism, as some self-serving scholars would have it. America was never less racist and homophobic than in the years immediately preceding the conflagration. The debate, again, revolved around institutions. Should changing mores be enshrined in legislation and case law? Should the national ethos itself be rewritten? Should the very definition and quiddity of being an American (white, male, straight) be revisited?

Neo-Marxist chroniclers attribute the causes of the Second Civil War to the growing disparities of wealth between the haves and the haves not. Presidents Bush and Cheney surely reversed L.B. Johnson's Great Society. They and their successors erased the numerous entitlements and aid programs that many of the economically disenfranchised came to depend upon and to regard as a birth right and as a cornerstone of the social contract.

Turning the clock back on affirmative action and food stamps, for instance, indeed provoked widespread violence. But such outbursts can hardly be construed to have been the precursors of the gigantic flame that consumed the USA a few years hence.

Finally, the Civil War was not about free trade (beneficial to the service and manufacturing based economies of some states) versus protectionism (helpful to the agricultural belts and bowls of the hinterland and to the recovering Gulf Coast). America's economy was far too dependent on the outside world to reverse course. Its national debt was being financed by Asians, its products were being sold all over, its commodities and foods were coming from Africa and Latin America. The USA was in hock to a globalized and merciless economy. Protectionism was campaign posturing - not a cogent and coherent trade policy.

So, what were the roots and causes of the Second Civil War?

None of the above in isolation - and all of the above in confluence. For decades, the citizenry's trust in a packed and rigged Supreme Court declined. Politicians came to be regarded as a detached and heartless plutocracy. Americans felt orphaned, cheated, and robbed. The national consensus - the implicit agreement that together is better than alone - has thus evaporated. The outcome was the shots and explosions that rocked the United States (and the world in tow) on January 20, 2021."

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Why Are Politicians Corrupt

(category: Commentary, Word count: 484)
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Most politicians bend the laws of the land and steal money or solicit bribes because they need the funds to support networks of patronage. Others do it in order to reward their nearest and dearest or to maintain a lavish lifestyle when their political lives are over.

But these mundane reasons fail to explain why some officeholders go on a rampage and binge on endless quantities of lucre. All rationales crumble in the face of a Mobutu Sese Seko or a Saddam Hussein or a Ferdinand Marcos who absconded with billions of US dollars from the coffers of Zaire, Iraq, and the Philippines, respectively.

These inconceivable dollops of hard cash and valuables often remain stashed and untouched, moldering in bank accounts and safes in Western banks. They serve no purpose, either political or economic. But they do fulfill a psychological need. These hoards are not the megalomaniacal equivalents of savings accounts. Rather they are of the nature of compulsive collections.

Erstwhile president of Sierra Leone, Momoh, amassed hundreds of video players and other consumer goods in vast rooms in his mansion. As

electricity supply was intermittent at best, his was a curious choice. He used to sit among these relics of his cupidity, fondling and counting them

insatiably.

While Momoh relished things with shiny buttons, people like Sese Seko, Hussein, and Marcos drooled over money. The ever-heightening mountains of greenbacks in their vaults soothed them, filled them with confidence, regulated their sense of self-worth, and served as a love substitute. The balances in their bulging bank accounts were of no practical import or intent. They merely catered to their psychopathology.

These politicos were not only crooks but also kleptomaniacs. They could no more stop thieving than Hitler could stop murdering. Venality was an

integral part of their psychological makeup.

Kleptomania is about acting out. It is a compensatory act. Politics is a drab, uninspiring, unintelligent, and, often humiliating business. It is

also risky and rather arbitrary. It involves enormous stress and unceasing conflict. Politicians with mental health disorders (for instance,

narcissists or psychopaths) react by decompensation. They rob the state and coerce businessmen to grease their palms because it makes them feel better, it helps them to repress their mounting fears and frustrations, and to restore their psychodynamic equilibrium. These politicians and bureaucrats "let off steam" by looting.

Kleptomaniacs fail to resist or control the impulse to steal, even if they have no use for the booty. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical

Manual IV-TR (2000), the bible of psychiatry, kleptomaniacs feel "pleasure, gratification, or relief when committing the theft." The good book proceeds to say that " ... (T)he individual may hoard the stolen objects ...".

As most kleptomaniac politicians are also psychopaths, they rarely feel remorse or fear the consequences of their misdeeds. But this only makes them more culpable and dangerous.

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No Matter What America Does The Rest Of The World Will Never Like Us

(category: Commentary, Word count: 1695)
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Americans need to get used to the idea that, no matter what The United States Of America does, the rest of the world will never like us.

Ours is a unique society. We are made up of people from almost every other nationality in the world. We were originaly formed by immigrants seeking religious and other freedoms. Our ethics and moral codes were formed mainly from Judeo-Christian ideals, ie: The Old And New Testaments, The Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Our form of government is mainly secular but our way of living, our body of law and our way of thinking is, for the most part, Judeo-Christian.

Ours is not an insular society. All Americans, with the possible exception of Native American Indians, are decended from immigrants. These immigrants have come from all over the world. These immigrants brought, with them, differing ideas, customs and ways of doing things. Many of these ideas, customs and ways of doing things have been melded into our way of life. The foregoing has made us completely different than any other country in the world and people, due to the nature of humans, don't always like other people who are different.

Ours is a wealthy country, not only in resources and land but also in our varied citizenry and our freedoms. This makes other people jealous or envious. They don't have what we have, so they say that they don't like us or that they hate us. Some of those same people, however, can't wait to immigrate to this country, in order to have what we have.

Our people, for the most part, are loving, caring and generous. This may very well be one of our biggest problems. We want to give to and help others. Many people think of our giving and help as pure interference while others feel that no one would give or help without expecting something in return. No other country in the world is guided by Judeo-Christain principles so no other country in the world thinks or believes as we do. We can't understand how they think and they can't understand how we think.

We deal with other countries and their people as we deal with each other. We don't understand that, in most parts of the world, fear and hatered are more powerful than love, greed and envy are more powerful than kindness and generosity, wanting to win is more powerful than a sense of fair play and that all of the foregoing are considered by many people to be weaknesses.

When France helped us during the Revolutionary War, the facts that the were already at war with England in the Caribbean, that we had to pay them for their help and that they did not come to our assistance untill they were sure that we had already won the war, did not stop us from being grateful. When During the Civil War and The War of 1812 a few French helped the Union, again for pay and again after they believed that the Union had won or would win the war, we were grateful. We we helped the French during their Civil War and in the First and Second World Wars, a few French were grateful but many more hated us. After all, we had humiliated them by helping them. We had shown them that they could not succeed with out our assistance. When the French believed that, Saddam Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to the world, they refused to help us or to join with us because their profits were more important than the live's of others. They believed that they were safe because they were trading partners with Hussein. In addition, they feel that we have too much power so, they oppose us every chance they get (Don't tell me about Desert Storm, the French did and contributed very little. The main thing they did was to help talk us out of going into Bagdad and ending the problem in Iraq, thereby saving their trading partner Saddam Hussein.). On the other hand, they want our money from tourism and trade so they invite our citizens to visit and to buy their goods. The French do not do anything unless it is in their own best intrest (By the way, I hate to admit this, but I have been told that, much to my regret, I am part French.). I know that the foregoing paragraph makes it sound as if I am a biggot. I am not a biggot, I just do not like being used, abused and lied to and I feel that that is what has been happening ever since the French Indian War or as it is also called, The Seven Years War, which took place before we were even a country.

Russia hates us for causing the breakup of the Soviet Union. The governments of Russia, Mainland China, North Korea, most Moslim countries, many African countries, some Central and South American countries and certain other countries hate us because they are afraid that their citizens might try to emulate us and rise up and take away their power over those citizens. Additionally, most Moslim countries hate us because our country does not follow Islam, 'the one true religion'. According to them we are Satanists for not following the 'one true God'. Since all of these governments control, in large part, the information sources in those countries, the majority of the people of those countries believe the lies and propaganda that are reported about us. Notice, however, how when many, not all, of those citizens make it into this country, they learn about us and they become, not only good citizens but, assets to our country. Some of our most contributing citizens came from countries that hated or fought against us at one time or another.

People that can recieve or hear news about our country, listen to our loudest and most strident voices. Voices from people like Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Al Sharpton, etc.. Since many people, in other countries, don't understand the true meaning of freedom of speech, they think that these people are speaking for all of us. They think that all of us hate President Bush, they think that our country is filled with prejudice and hatred, they think that crime is out of controll and they think that every one of us carries guns and shoot each other for no reason, they think that we all feel that the war in Iraq is immoral or already lost, they think that all Republicans and most whites hate minorities and all non Jewish or Christian religions.

These people in other countries don't understand that the voices that they are hearing come from a very loud and vocal minority of hard line left wing zealots and that those voices do not speak for all of us. These people also hear from a few loud and vocal far right wing zealots, however the right wing zealots are not celebrities so these people don't pay as much attention to them. What the people in other countries don't understand is that the majority of people in this country are moderate to slightly left or right wing and don't really agree with either the far left or the far right. The majority of people in this country are hard working, kind, caring and generous people. However, moderate views are not exciting and therefore do not sell a lot of newspapers or garner a lot of television viewers, so moderate views do not get much coverage here or in any of the free or fairly free foriegn press.

Finally, most of the people in the world don't like each other, many Chinese consider anyone not Chinese to be a barbarian and less than human, Indians and Pakastanis hate each other, Russia and all of the old Soviet Union members fight or feud with each other, many Muslims hate Jews and Christians, most Arab countries seem to hate Isreal, Muslim sects hate and kill each other, the French think that everyone else is beneath them, some Irish hate the British, in Ireland Catholics and Protestants fight each other, many Chinese and Koreans hate the Japanese and many Japanese hate the Chinese and the Koreans, Africans hate and kill other Africans, Argentines feel superior to citizens of other South American contries, etc, etc.. If so many people in the world hate or dislike each other, how can we expect them to like or love us?

Isn't it about time that we quite worrying about being liked and instead started worrying about being respected or even a little feared. Fear usually generates a certain amount of respect. I'm not suggesting that we become another Soviet Union or a China. I am saying that perhaps we should stop worrying what the world thinks of us and instead stand up for ourselves. Use our financial clout, sacrifice a little, or a lot by not buying oil and goods from our enemies, cancell free trade agreements with our detractors, etc.. Sure many things will cost us more, but aren't our way of life and our dignity worth something. And, if we do need to use military force, maybe we should use it without first trying to get everyone else's permission. Help from countries like France, Germany, Russia and China would cost us more than it would help us. Help from the United Nations always seems to cost us more, in money and problems, than it helps us. There are a few countries, Australia, England, Israel, Taipei and a few others that usually stick by us, however, we may not always be able to count on them. Even now many people in England are trying to have Tony Blair removed from office and if we don't start doing a better job of helping our friend and ally Israel, they may, someday, cease to exist.

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The Right To Die Should Be A Personal Matter

(category: Commentary, Word count: 988)
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I believe that the right to die should, in most cases, be a personal matter and not a political matter (I am talking for adults, not for children. Children, and I include teenagers in this, have not lived long enough and do not have enough life experience to decide their own fates. Some of them think the world is at an end if they get a bad grade or a pimple.). While I am a Republican (I just can't stand the thought of aligning myself with far left fanatics like Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Harry Reid, etc..), I disagree with many Republican ideals. One of those ideals is the right of the government, state or federal, to decide if I have "the right to die" on my own terms.

Prosecuting Doctors or others for helping someone achieve their goal in a painless way or for assisting them when they can't do it themselves is just a means of stopping people from exercising their freedom to decide their own fate. Doctors are supposed to be here in order to help alleviate pain and suffering. For some politician to decide that he or she knows better than the patient and his or her doctor is the ultimate exercise in ego. Politicians are not gods and they should not have the right to enforce their beliefs on others. If a person is capable of ending their life on their own they can do so, as no law can punish them after they are dead. Therefore, the only way that politicians can force their beliefs on others is to make it illegal for Doctors or loved ones to assist someone who can not do it on their own. This forces the person to live no matter how great the suffering.

I don't want to die right now, but if I did, I would hate the thought that a group of politicians, who don't know me or know my circumstances, could force me to keep on living, because they think that they know what's best for me. It's my life and the only one that should be allowed to decide what's in my best interest, is me. As long as I'm not harming others, it should be my decision as to how to live my life and as to when and how I end my life. For strangers to be allowed to make those decisions for me, is to me, just plain wrong.

For various health reasons, I have been in pain for the last thirty (30) plus years. For the last four years I have been in constant (24 hours a day) fairly severe pain, yet I have chosen to live (Note: While some of my problems are progressive, they are not, unless I live a very long time, terminal.). I am not now nor have I ever been afraid to die. Dying is easy, it's living that is hard. I choose to live for my loved ones. They are more important than the pain I am enduring. They love and need me, therefore I need to be here for them. Because I love them, their welfare is more important to me than anything else. However, I would hate to be forced to live if I was terminally ill, in constant pain, incuring huge medical bills and couldn't take care of myself or my family. I'm not saying that I would commit suicide, but I am saying that it should be my decision and not some politicians decision. My decision should be based on how I feel it will help or harm my loved ones and on my religious beliefs at that time, not on the religious beliefs of some stranger. That stranger doesn't feel my pain, doesn't know what it is or is not doing to my family and doesn't suffer my loss of dignity.

I realize that many religions, my own included, believe that taking your own life, for any reason, is a sin and will cause you to be cast down. I hope that that is not true, however, as God has never spoken to me, I have no way of knowing for sure. Therefore, I personally, would probably, at this time, elect to live no matter how bad things became. I love my wife and sons and would hate to take the chance that they would go one place while I went elsewhere. I like the thought that after I die, I may be, someday, reunited with them for all eternity. This, however, does not give me or anyone else the right to decide that others have to live, no matter what their circumstances. Just as I want the right to decide my own fate, I believe that others should have the right to decide their own fates.

This is America "the land of the free" and we are supposed to have religious freedom, liberty and the right to happiness. For politicians to force their beliefs on us in these types of matters is, I believe, wrong, immoral, cruel and un American, because by doing so they are taking away our religious freedom, our liberty and our right to happiness (If someone is forced to suffer needlessly they are not happy.). I believe in giving up some freedom when it is for the good of the country or for the safety of my loved ones. I don't believe in giving up rights when it is for the good of some politician's ego or beliefs. Politicians should stop trying to protect everyone from themselves. That's not why they were elected.

Please don't take this article as saying that I am pro or anti suicide. All I am saying is that how one ends one's life should be a personal matter. It should not be for strangers to decide or control.

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The Tax Policy Charade

(category: Commentary, Word count: 721)
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Tax policy discussions are meant to do what? Arrive at a rational policy, or garner votes. I think it is the latter. What is lost in all the debate over tax increases versus tax cuts, is science. Contrary to what most people may think, there is some scientific study of taxation.

Applying The Laffer Curve To Tax Policy

Invented by Arthur Laffer, the Laffer curve shows the relationship between tax rates and tax revenue collected. It demonstrates a simple principle that very few people understand, but one that is crucial to proper governance. It is the idea that as you raise taxes, you reach some point where actual revenues collected begin to drop.

This is perfectly logical, and you can understand it at the extremes. If the government took 95% of your income in taxes after the first $10,000, would you work much after that? Do they get any more taxes if you don't work more? No. More money will actually be collected if they take a lower percentage, right?

Now add to this the fact that every dollar the government takes can't be invested into new businesses or the expansion of existing businesses. New business investment means new income, and therefore more taxes. This isn't hypothetical - you can't invest what has been taken away from you. A friend of mine put off hiring employees and expanding his business for a long time because of a state business tax that would dramatically increase his taxes if he hired help.

That was a truly perverse tax policy, but any raising of taxes has to at some point cause a lowering of profits to the point where less is actually collected in taxes. There obviously has to be a point of diminishing returns. Where is it?

The science isn't that exact yet, but the principle is clear. The top of the curve seems to be somewhere around 15% to 25% as a total tax burden (federal, state and local). What this means is that if tax rates go higher than that 15% to 25%, the curve goes down; the government actually collects less money.

This isn't a republican or democratic issue. When Kennedy lowered tax rates and when Reagan did so (from a high of 70%!), tax revenues soared. The fact that under Reagan the government spent even faster than the rising revenues is another issue, but the lesson was clear: the Laffer Curve is an accurate description of tax rates and tax revenue.

In other words even if a political party or a society wants all sorts of social welfare programs, they have to realize that there is an ideal rate of taxation to get the most money to pay for these programs. Tax more heavily, and you get less, not more. This is the reality, whether people like it or not.

The Politics Of Tax Policy

Quite often, people don't like this reality, and politics trumps science. For example, wealthy people are often taxed at rates that have them spending more time looking for loopholes than ways to make more taxable income. This lowers production, and so lowers the potential taxes collected. If your friends don't get it when you explain this, point out that 20% of a million is more than 50% of three hundred thousand, so production matters - not just higher tax rates.

What happens if we recognize this? Will a politician explain that the government can collect more taxes from the wealthy if the rates are lowered? When they try, they lose votes. Long term there is real hope, because the principle is actually easy to understand. Short term it is politically difficult to say you want to lower taxes on the wealthy to a scientifically determined rate of greatest efficiency.

Many people want to believe that the rich can be taxed enough to pay for anything we want. The reality is that if most of the income of the wealthy was taken it would fund government for only a few weeks. There are more middle class than wealthy people, and more total income there, so that is where most taxes have to come from. Voter's don't know this or don't like this, and politicians tell them what they want to hear. Hence the tax policy charade.

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John Edwards Should Be President

(category: Commentary, Word count: 1365)
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Populism. John Edwards' campaign is considered by many to have populist themes; lifting up the working class, fighting for the middle class, healthcare for everyone and eliminating poverty. These are concepts that we should embrace. We should help those who can't help themselves. John Edwards tells every American that he will fight for them.

The defining attribute that makes Edwards appealing may be the reason why he won't win the nomination. He won't take money from corporations, lobbyists, or special interest groups. He is being outspent by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton by a ratio of 5 to 1. Obama and Clinton have been taking money from lobbyists and corporations. Edwards believes you have to fight the corporations and moneyed interests that have a stranglehold on America. He wants to take back America and make the government work for the people.

Bipartisanship is great, but look what has happened over the last 8 years with the Republicans in power. Scorched earth politics by the Neocons have run this country into the ground. We were lied into a war that should have never been started. There have been so many scandals from the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the partisan firing of the U.S. Attorneys to the Jack Abramoff lobbyist scam to no bid contracts to Halliburton to unchecked executive orders by Bush. And the list goes on and on. The Democrats had a big win in November of 2006. The result has been the failure of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to hold the Bush Administration accountable for abuse of power. The Congress and Senate have folded on votes to stop funding the Iraq War and failed on votes to amend the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act. The housing crisis has been a national tragedy with millions of people losing their homes. The economy is tanking and the country seems to be heading into a recession. Another mission accomplished by George Bush. The Democrats have kowtowed to the Republicans and it has been a bipartisanship disaster.

It seems that some Democrats are afraid to speak truth to power and vote their conscience. They would rather vote to preserve their political futures. I want someone to fight for our rights, someone who will fight for the average American. John Edwards seems like the only candidate who is pushing this issue and driving the Democratic Party in the right direction. It's time for the Democrats to start acting like Democrats. This populist message works. It worked with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When you stand up for what you believe in and do the right thing, not only for yourself, but for your country, people will follow. Edwards is campaigning based on what he believes is right. He is not pandering based on studies by focus groups to run toward the middle to convince Independents and Republicans to vote for him. He is running toward the base of his party. That happens to be the direction of the left. That is the direction where all Americans should be heading.

The great conservative revolution started when Ronald Reagan took office where greed was considered a virtue and lying was a tool to push policy. Conservative doctrine spiraled out of control as the Neocons of George W. Bush's administration have taken this nation to a dark place where only the rich get richer, the middle class gets squeezed and the population at the poverty level increases. Greed doesn't work. It's time for a Liberal revolution.

I couldn't write it in any better, so I'll have to quote from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." This is an excerpt from a monologue by the character George Bailey. George's father, Peter Bailey has just died. In this scene George Bailey is standing up to the antagonist, Henry F. Potter, so he can save his father's Building and Loan business.

George

"...He didn't save enough money to send Harry to school, let alone me. But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter. And what's wrong with that? Why . . . Here, you're all businessmen here. Doesn't it make them better citizens? Doesn't it make them better customers? You . . . you said . . . What'd you say just a minute ago? . . . They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait! Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they're so old and broken-down that they . . . Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about . . . they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him, but to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you'll ever be!"

Except for the top five percent who benefited the most from George Bush's tax cuts, the rest of us are the "rabble" George Bailey said Mr. Potter was talking about. One can say that Henry Potter symbolizes present day corporate America and our government. In the real world we do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this country. Don't we, the rabble, deserve a government that represents us and not corporations and special interest groups? Don't we deserve universal healthcare? Don't we deserve at least a $10.00 hour minimum wage? Don't we deserve civil rights under the Constitution and not a President who grants overreaching power to himself? Don't we deserve to have our voices heard when the majority of us believe we should bring our troops home from Iraq? At the very least we deserve all of these things. We are not being heard.

We watch the news that is reported by millionaires talking about the millionaires running for President who will look out for the interests of millionaires who donated to their campaigns. It's true that John Edwards is rich, but he came from a working class family. He spent almost 20 years of his life fighting the rich and powerful as a trial lawyer representing plaintiffs who were victims of corporate and medical malpractice. His money came from the large settlements he won on behalf of his clients malpractice suits. He's a proven winner when in comes to representing the underdog against those with wealth and power.

When I see John Edwards speak I believe that he will fight for us. He is leading by example by not taking corporate money. When I see Hillary Clinton I see the finely tuned Clinton machine going after power and a presidency she somehow believes she is owed. When I see Barack Obama I see a candidate who has only revealed the part of himself that has been safely tested by his handlers and advisors. I hope to see the real Obama soon. John Edwards might not win the nomination because of lack of funds and because of his tough message. If he doesn't win it will be partly because the corporate run media doesn't like his anti-corporate platform.

As the country is enamored with the historical significance of both a woman and African-American running for President with the two candidates slinging mud at each other on a daily basis, John Edwards' populist message doesn't get the coverage it deserves. He is saying all the right things at a time in history when these issues need to be addressed. The citizens of this country need to be allowed to progress and break the bonds of corporate greed. We need to get out of Iraq and bring about change to an ineffective government. We need someone who will fight for that change. I will vote for John Edwards on February 5th in my state's primary. I hope you will too.

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Spin Cycle

(category: Commentary, Word count: 858)
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It's possible that a seminal moment in the history of electronic news occurred when a comedian confronted commentators ...

Not long after Jon Stewart - host of the Comedy Central cable channel's amusing newscast, The Daily Show - appeared on CNN's staid Crossfire and roundly scorched its principals in a well-publicized confrontation over journalistic integrity (or the lack thereof), the news network announced that Crossfire was being cancelled. Ostensibly, the network said this move was due to the departure of conservative commentator Tucker Carlson. However, he wasn't the original 'right-wing' representative on that show and there were surely more of that flock who would have willingly stepped into the position. CNN has probably assembled a litany of rationalizations for their decision to dump the program, but none of them will dare to broach the actual undertone of perception that would trump anything on their list.

In this day an age in the USA, a comedy show is more adept than a news show at presenting current events.

The crux of the matter is that contemporary electronic journalism is just as subject to the Prime Tenet of Marketing as any sales campaign would be, ie- to be successful, it is imperative to 'sell the sizzle and not the steak.'

Viewing this contention from another angle, respected newsman Ted Koeppel almost saw his redoubtable Nightline program shelved in favor of yet another late-night talk show featuring a comedian. Now that he's retiring, it's notable that the program will shift directions anyway, seemingly to assume a 'lighter' appearance in presentation to presumably better compete with the entertainers.

The sorrowful corollary of this point is that not only do the news operations overly heed the 'sizzle' mantra, so do many of the organizations who feed them their details. In the battle for dominance and perception, 'spin' is paramount.

Slanting a report to influence its perception has been in existence since the dawn of time, when Reporterpithicus - or whatever version of man existed back then - first related to someone else what someone told him. The tendency to spin has now evolved to where it has innately seeped into a troubling number of major news organizations. Anyone who has viewed a moment of Fox News can see for themselves how blatantly they have embraced this trend to promote their conservative leanings. MSNBC seems to be unusually beholden to the corporate world. CNN appears to abide the techniques of spin so as to not have their ratings erode any further.

Such policies clearly resonate in the minds and actions of their reporters in the field. Most seem to blithely absorb the spin given them by corporate and government spokesmen, given the bulk of milquetoast questions that now populate press conferences. Such practices and policies allow the Tucker Carlsons, Bill O'Reillys and Robert Novaks of the world to run amok, apparently encouraged to talk over any dissenting viewpoint as if they were thinly-veiled Jerry Springer clones in a stodgier setting.

Add the consideration that so many of those corporate and government spokesmen are so singly simple-minded about the message they're spinning, and it's no wonder a comedy offering like The Daily Show has risen in pop credibility to a level of perception that rivals the news programs. With so many thin platforms of substance just waiting to be skewered, Jon Stewart and his staff gladly accept a veritable cornucopia of material with every day's harvest of sound bites. The punch lines contained therein seem to literally grab them by the lapels and insist to be written.

If you want to confirm that point, watch an episode and see how many times Mr Stewart merely needs to raise his eyebrows after a sound bite in order to draw guffaws.

Toss in the fact that Comedy Central's video-to-mobile service is better defined for content than any of the news organizations, and The Daily Show is further cementing its image as the 'cool' news outlet for the younger set of voting age.

It's notable that, in late-20th century American politics, when media 'cool' was on the ascent, Democrats won elections. It was true for John F Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and if that party could ever find a leader, it might be true again.

One would think the Republicans might take a hint and go back to the straight talk that struck enough of a nerve with voters to put them in the majority. Currently, that would advisably include an element of fallibility and contrition over recent policies and events. It remains to be seen if anyone in that camp is forthright enough to admit as much.

Otherwise, it's all but inevitable that the obfuscation of news spin and comedy fodder will further lower the quality of daily electronic information to a series of straight lines that grew from Chevy Chase's Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live portraying Gerald Ford as a bumbler to The Daily Show becoming an A-list stop on the itinerary of any legitimate candidate.

With all due respect to that excellent comedy series, if such a thing ever happened, it wouldn't be breaking news. It would be broken news.

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The Caveman And The Alien

(category: Commentary, Word count: 449)
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When Chancellor Kohl's party and Edith Cresson are suspected of gross corruption - these are labelled "aberrations" in an otherwise honest West. When NASA in collaboration with its UK counterpart blow a 130 million US dollars spacecraft to smithereens having confused the metric system for its pound/feet archaic predecessor - people nod their head in disapproval: "accidents happen". When President Clinton appoints his wife to suggest an overhaul of the multi-hundred billion dollars US health system - no one thinks it odd. And when the (talented) son of the police investigated, rumoured to be hyper-corrupt Minister of Interior Affairs of Israel becomes a Minister himself, no one bats an eyelash. Yet, when identical events happen in the decrepit countries of Eastern, Central, or Southern Europe - they are subjected to heaps of excoriating scorn, to vitriolic diatribes, to condescending preaching, or to sanctions. It is, indeed, a double standard, a hypocrisy and a travesty the magnitude of which is rarely to be encountered in the annals of human pretensions to morality.

The West has grossly and thoroughly violated Thompson's edict. In its oft-interrupted intercourse with these forsaken regions of the globe, it has acted, alternately, as a Peeping Tom, a cynic and a know it all. It has invariably behaved as if it were holier-than-thou. In an unmitigated and fantastic succession of blunders, miscalculations, vain promises, unkept threats and unkempt diplomats - it has driven Europe to the verge of war and the region it "adopted" to the verge of economic and social upheaval.

Enamoured with the new ideology of free marketry cum democracy, the West first assumed the role of the omniscient. It designed ingenious models, devised foolproof laws, imposed fail-safe institutions and strongly "recommended" measures. Its representatives, the tribunes of the West, ruled the phlebeian East with determination rarely equalled by skill or knowledge. Velvet hands couched in iron gloves, ignorance disguised by economic newspeak, geostrategic interests masquerading as forms of government characterized their dealings with the natives. Preaching and beseeching from ever higher pulpits, they poured opprobrium and sweet delusions on the eagerly deluded, naive, bewildered masses. The deceit was evident to the indigenous cynics - but it was the failure that dissuaded them and all else. The West lost Eastern and Southeast Europe not when it lied egregiously, not when it pretended to know for sure when it surely did not know, not when it manipulated and coaxed and coerced - but when it failed. To the peoples of these regions, the king was fully dressed. It was not a little child but an enormous debacle that exposed his nudity. In its presumptuousness and pretentiousness, feigned surety and vain clich

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