Robert's Random Ravings

Why is our Congress so out of touch with the lives of the rest of us?

US Capitol Building

US Capitol Building

Just in the last few weeks, they were asking the Pentagon to add a few extra planes to their budget so that they could travel in style. See, when Senators or Representatives travel, they want to travel in luxury. The same planes that we travel in, stuffed with 140 or so passengers, they want to use to shuttle around groups of ten or twelve or so. This is supposed to help with their productivity. All I see it helping is their comfort.

Nowhere in the Constitution is there a guarantee of luxury for those that serve the nation in the Senate or the House of Representatives, yet this is what they believe that they are entitled to.

Let’s take another example. We have seen a circus lately around the whole debate for health care reform. Anyone that has been paying attention lately (or has had to go to the doctor) knows that something needs to be done. Even if you have insurance, you have to jump through such hoops to get the care you need. Of course, Congress does not have to. They have great health care. So, of course, they aren’t all that concerned with reforming health care. Theirs is already fine.

The members of Congress are elected to serve us, the people. It is not the other way around. They should not be entitled to have better health care, or better access to loans from banks (at considerable discounts), or get free travel from lobbyists, or any other gifts, just because they are elected officials. All of this has to stop.

I think one of the best ways to make this stop is to finally put term limits in place on Representatives and Senators. We have term limits on the President. Most states have term limits on the governor. Why, then, do we oppose term limits on the other high offices in the land? When people get entrenched into their positions in the House or the Senate, they become more and more susceptible to corrupting influences from all sides. This has to change, and soon.

We changed Presidents last year after much talk about the low approval ratings that President Bush had. Yet the Congress has much lower ratings than President Bush had. Why are we not bringing in new blood there? I don’t care how much you like any particular politician. I challenge any and all to vote for new blood in 2010. Let’s dump the incumbents. Let’s start anew.

Are you with me??

08/18/2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The people of Iran

A once proud nation

Modern Iran

Modern Iran

The modern country of Iran is the remnant of a once powerful empire – the Persian Empire. At the time of the last Shah of Iran, that empire had existed for over 2500 years.

Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran has not been a particularly free country. The country has a figure head President, but the real power lies in the Supreme Commander. Since the shah was deposed in 1979, there have only been two Supreme Leaders – the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Ayatollah Khameinei. The Supreme Leader is in charge of the armed forces (the Revolutionary Guard), and governs all aspects of life in the country. He is the highest ranking political and religious figure in the country.

The Persian Empire

The Persian Empire

On June 12, 2009, an election was held to choose the President of Iran. The next morning, the government announced that the incumbent President (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) had won over two-thirds of the vote. That’s when the trouble began. One of the candidates that had been defeated began to declare his belief that the election was rigged and unfair. Then the protests began in Tehran. This is not something that you commonly see in modern Iran. The people are not free to say what they think of the government or its rulings. However, there seems to be so much emotion behind the outcome of the presidential election that the people do not seem willing to stay quiet any longer.

Here in the US, the protests were on the news night after night for several weeks. Of course, the government of Iran kicked out all of the press so that no one would be able to broadcast what was happening. So the Iranian people began to post updates on Twitter and Facebook and send videos with their cell phones. So the next step the government took was to jam the web and cell phones. They obviously do not want the rest of the world to know what’s going on.

I think we are on the verge of something historical here. I would love to see it happen. I hate to see any nation suppressed. I feel that way about Cuba, North Korea, Myanmar, etc. All people should be able to live free.

I hope the leaders of Iran wake up and see that their people demand change. That they demand freedom. It doesn’t have to be Western style democracy – but I think that the Iranian people are tired of being suppressed and held down. Let’s hope that we see a major change there in the near future that will then spill over into other nations nearby (such as Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan).

G-d bless the people of Iran.

08/11/2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

John McCain

john_mccain_narrowweb__300x3730

In 2000, when Senator John McCain (R, Arizona) made his first run for President of the United States, I was intrigued by him. I am most assuredly liberal leaning. But I saw in him someone who acted on principle and not on party. After some very dirty tactics on the part of Karl Rove and George W. Bush, McCain’s campaign did not go very far.

There was certainly a lot to admire about him at the time. He seemed just as willing to work with a Democrat as with a Republican (which is how it should be – when you are elected as the Senator of your state, it is to represent ALL of the people of the state, not just those that share your ideology).

The McCain-Feingold Act was a legitimate attempt (at least I believe it was) to curb the abuses that arose from all of the money being tossed around for candidates. It was a major step. Unfortunately it did not go nearly far enough (though that is more a result of the lack of will on the part of Congress as a whole).

All of this changed in the presidential campaign of 2008. John McCain was a dark horse. He did not seem to have much of a chance of becoming the Republican Party’s Nominee. The initial front runner was Rudy Giuliani. Then Fred Thompson had a bunch of steam behind him and also Mitt Romney. In fact, as most people know, McCain’s campaign was just about dead in the water. Somehow, he survived that and suddenly started surging forward in the primaries, winning enough of them that all of the other candidates finally did bow out.

I wonder what it is that got his campaign restarted. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but it sure seems like he made a deal with the devil in there somewhere. Along the way, he sacrificed any shred of honesty and integrity he had left.

Who can forget him singing in front of a camera singing “bomb bomb bomb Iran.” (Check out a video of it here.) Whether it was meant as a joke or not is beside the point. This is a candidate for President of the United States joking about an unprovoked attack on a nation with which we already have very strained relations.

Or how about when the financial world was collapsing all over the country and he remarked that fundamentally the economy was strong? Then when he realized how wrong he was about the economy and the financial health of the country and its citizens, what does he do? He decides to place his campaign on hold so that he can run back to Washington to save the country. G-d help us. And we wonder why we are in the situation we are in?

Perhaps the biggest blunder of all (and it is the gift that keeps on giving) was his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. It seems to me that he did it in his typical way (kind of like George Bush’s “I am the deciderer” days). He wanted to choose Joseph Liberman (who was never more than a step away from John McCain throughout the entire campaign – are you listening Connecticut?????) but was told he couldn’t. So they flew up to Alaska and seemingly within hours of meeting Governor Palin, he asked her to be his running mate. Sure, she gave a great speech at the Republican National Convention. But she was just saying what the people there wanted to here. Easy sell. Once the ticket left the safe confines of the RNC, things got a lot tougher.

This was a woman that would be a step away from the Presidency. And let’s not forget that John McCain is 72 years old – he would have been the oldest first term president in US history. Sure his mother is 90 something – like that matters. He has a history of all kinds of problems, including the melanomas and skin cancers. But be that as it may, since she would be in such a lofty position, it’s only reasonable that the people in the country wanted to know who she was – what her views are, why she would want to be VP, etc. And that’s when things really got bad for the McCain campaign. They basically hid her from any press for a few weeks, literally refusing any and all interviews, until the infamous interview with Katie Couric.

Sarah Palin was folksy and all that – but she was completely ignorant of the world outside of Alaska. When asked what magazines she read, her response was “all of them.” When asked about her experience with foreign policy, she pointed to Alaska’s proximity to Russia. From the start, she screamed far and wide about the liberal media and its bias. And John McCain sat by and reassured everyone that he had made the right choice.

After the election was over, there were a lot of reports about friction between McCain’s staff and Mrs. Palin. When someone is always complaining about how everyone is out to get them, I can understand that. She wanted to give a concession speech on the night of the election, but was not allowed to. This made her angry too.

Last week, she resigned as governor of Alaska saying that she can do more for the state by resigning than by fulfilling her pledge to the people of the state. And what did John McCain say about it?

McCain said he was surprised but not “shocked” by the resignation of his former runningmate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. On NBC’s Meet the Press, the Arizona Republican said Palin’s decision was consistent with his definition of leadership to resign from office mid-term.

-The Huffington Post

He actually suggested that it was the right thing to do? Does this sound like the honorable Senator John McCain we once knew? I don’t think so.

If anyone reading this lives in Arizona, I would suggest to you that it is time for some fresh blood in your delegation to the Senate. John McCain has clearly lost touch with what this country needs now. Elect someone else. For your own sake!

08/06/2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , | 2 Comments

Put down your phone

I am not a technophobe. In fact, I am quite the opposite. I love electronic gadgets and computers of all sizes and shapes. And I think that the mobile phone has been a huge leap forward in terms of convenience, safety, etc. for all of us.

The problem is that many of us don’t seem to be able to figure out when to put the blasted things down. The biggest culprit in all of this is text messaging. Sure, it’s neat to be able to communicate with a number of people at the same time in short spurts of about 150 characters or less. Of course, it has ruined the spelling capabilities of a lot of people. It has also ruined the attention spans of a lot of people. We have become accustomed to our interactions taking place in these small dribs and drabs.

When you are walking down the street or in a mall (or airport, etc.) and trying to text at the same time, I guarantee you that you are not paying attention to anyone around you. The world does not exist for you alone. And I think that precious thought can wait a minute or two until you get somewhere where you can step out of people’s way and then do your texting.

Even worse is the affect on driving. Holding a cellphone to your ear while you are driving is distracting. But texting while you are driving can be disastrous. That time that you are looking at your phone instead of the road is putting you and everyone in your general area in danger.

I honestly cannot believe that cell phone use (without hands free capability) and texting while driving has not been banned in all 50 states by now. Everyone knows how dangerous it is. Who can honestly defend this dangerous habit? Is it an invasion of privacy? No more so than requiring that passengers in a car wear a seat belt. No one complains about that because we all know it keeps us safer. Let’s get real here (politicians – I am talking to you!!!!!) Whether it is on a city/county, state or federal level, we need laws that preserve our road safety by banning texting while driving.

Our society has become so selfish. This is just one more manifestation. I want to do such and such so go screw yourself if what I am doing bothers you. That is just not the way to act. Kindness, compassion and just plain awareness of the world outside your own skin is important.

So, to sum it up – “Put down the damn phone!!”

08/05/2009 Posted by | General | , , , , | 2 Comments