Robert's Random Ravings

Uncertain Times

We are living in a very uncertain time now. The fighting that is going on between the Democrats and Republicans, between the House and the Senate is so disheartening now. It seems that the people that we have elected have decided to do what they think we want them to do instead of what we actually want them to do. Re-election is the one and only goal of everything that happens in Washington. Meanwhile, the country is no longer being governed.

Big money interests have taken over in the nation’s capital. I, for one, am getting very sick of it. This greed and corruption does not know party boundaries. You can find many examples from both sides of the aisle.

An entire class of Representatives has the one and only goal of obstructing anything that President Obama proposes – even if it is a proposal that they once believed in. How does this environment change? I am beginning to think that it can’t until something drastic happens.

9/11 was a wakeup call for this nation and its leaders. Unfortunately we have been turned into a fearful nation – afraid of the next terrorist attack; afraid of the direction of the economy; afraid for the plunging values of our homes; afraid that we will not be able to find fulfilling gainful employment any more.

01/24/2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , | Leave a 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

More on Presidential Politics

This is a post from my mother, Shoshana Kurzweil, continuing on my theme of changes needed to the process of electing a President in the US.

The problem with Presidential Politics is…well…politics. It’s a word that used to mean “statesmanship” but has come to mean anything but. It’s now just a four letter word with “tics” on the end.

Before the last Presidential election, I looked up the word “politics” and found the word “statesmanship” as a definition in several places on the internet. Today, I looked it up again and, just like magic, the word “statesmanship” had disappeared. What I did find was this:

Definitions of politics on the Web

• social relations involving intrigue to gain authority or power; “office politics is often counterproductive”
• the study of government of states and other political units
• the profession devoted to governing and to political affairs
• the opinion you hold with respect to political questions
• the activities and affairs involved in managing a state or a government; “unemployment dominated the politics of the inter-war years”; “government agencies multiplied beyond the control of representative politics”

Close—but no cigar.

Politics should be about statesmanship—about governing the people and doing it well. Instead, it has become a contest based on money, image, and popularity (for the wrong reasons).

As Robert wrote in his blog, the race to be president depends on money, time spent on the election trail, and more money. I would add to that the following:

  • Threatens the powerful men behind the scenes the least
  • A good public face and speaking voice
  • The ability to be a good actor
  • A brilliant speech writer
  • A brilliant campaign manager
  • Whether or not it rains in certain districts on election day
  • Who can sling the most dirt—or just make it up
  • Who can talk their way out of the dirt that gets slung

And, on and on and on. Then, there’s the counting. Was there fraud involved? If not, can it be made to look like there was fraud involved?

But, the worst part is that, after all that, there is the Electoral Votes. The Electoral College does not have to vote the will of the people. How dumb is that in a Democracy?

06/04/2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

President Obama on Leno

President Obama on Leno

President Obama on Leno

Last night, President Obama was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. To see the video of the interview, click here. To see a full transcript of the interview, click here. The New York Times did a great review of the interview as well.

I just finished watching it and felt compelled to write about it here on Robert’s Random Ravings.

First of all, I have to say how refreshing it is to have a President that gives you a feeling of pride in being an American. He actually talks in full sentences and has a command of the English language. When he was explaining the situation at AIG with the bailout money and the bonuses that were paid out, the first thing that came to mind was how President Bush would have bungled that explanation. I don’t think there is any way that Bush could possibly have explained the situation. I just don’t think he even would have had the understanding to do it.

I enjoyed listening to him and watching him. He has a charming smile and a very endearing way about him. In spite of all of the calamity around him, he looked relaxed and in charge. I loved his joking about the bowling alley and the March Madness tournament. Even when Jay asked him if he picked North Carolina because it is a swing state. President Obama didn’t bat an eye and stayed right with him. I genuinely like this guy!

A lot has been said over the last 8 years about President Bush being the guy that you would want to have a few beers with. Well, while President Obama was talking last night with Jay Leno, I was thinking that I would love to have a few beers and just “hang out” with him.

Does that mean that I agree with everything he does? Absolutely not. As an example, he apparently was trying to get veterans to pay for their own health care if they had any access (through themselves or their spouse) to private insurance. To me, this is a BAD idea. I really don’t care if a veteran has access to private insurance. If our young men and women make the commitment to the US military (no matter which branch, and whether they see combat or not), I think that the LEAST we can do for them is to cover their health care after they leave military service. I never want to see treatment like we saw at Walter Reid a few years ago. They give their service to us, we give our service to them. That is how a voluntary military works. Period. End of story.

I am willing to give the President and his team some time to work things out. As he said last night (and many other times), it took a long time for us to get into this mess. It will not get fixed overnight. The policies of the last 8 years were an abject failure. It is time to try something different. No more “business as usual.”

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03/20/2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Congress – the height of ineptitude

Millions of Americans are suffering. Hundreds of thousands are losing their jobs every month. Meanwhile, the 435 members of the House of Representatives and the 100 members of the Senate don’t seem to have any sense of urgency when it comes to passing an economic stimulus package that will help our economy. After all, most of them are very well off economically. None of them have to worry about medical insurance or health care, because they all have it.

I am not naïve enough to think that the mere act of spending upwards of $1 trillion will solve our economic problems. But it seems to me that now is the time to think big and stop worrying about party politics and business as usual. The last 8 years have been a complete failure on so many levels, including economics. We have seen that tax cuts for the rich and trickle-down economics are not the answer. It is time to try something else. The American people made it very clear to Congress in November that we don’t like the way things have been going and we want to see change. What we do not want to see is voting strictly on party lines.

I was sickened and very disheartened with the vote in the House last week in which not one Republican felt they could support the economic stimulus. We need bold thinkers – people that will “think out of the box” and not just trot out all the tired old “remedies” and “tricks” that just simply do not work. Will our Congress start to understand that?

Maybe it is time that we started to enact some limitations on our congressmen and congresswomen. I have long been a proponent of term limits for Congress. If it works for the Office of President, why not apply it to the House and the Senate? Maybe if we stopped letting people stay in office indefinitely, they would start actually governing as opposed to spending all of their time trying to get re-elected. Politics should not be a profession. It should be service to the country. In its current form, it is nothing more than a stepping stone. Our government is supposed to be of the people and by the people. Yet the people in Congress cannot possibly relate to the majority of the population because they are really not “of us.” Sure they may start that way, but the power peddling is a corrupting influence on EVERY one of them. I don’t think anyone is free from the “taint” of special interests and this is just not the way it is supposed to be.

02/06/2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

President Obama – So Help You G-d

Hope and Progress

This week, we here in America and interested parties all over the world got to witness history being made. The United States swore in its first African-American President. This is certainly an exciting time in America.

Click here to watch the Inauguration Speech, as posted on the White House Web Site.

There is a spirit of enthusiasm and excitement over the potential of the next 4 years (and beyond) while we wait and see what the administration of Barack Hussein Obama will really be like.

Up to now, it has only been talk. “We plan to…” “We hope to…” “We expect to…” It is easy to say you are going to do something. It is much harder to actually do it.

These are scary times for the US and the rest of the world. We are still involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a significant energy crisis – and we all saw how quickly things changed when the price of oil spiked to $150 a barrel, causing gasoline to top $4 a gallon in the US. We are damaging our environment with pollution. Our economy is in shambles. Home prices are dropping like a rock. The American Dream is on shaky ground right now.

There is still an ongoing crisis in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors (almost all of which have sworn to see the complete destruction of Israel).

There is still genocide and ethnic cleansing occurring in Darfur and Zimbabwe and other regions of the world. There are still millions of people that are hungry and homeless.

President Obama is taking the reins at a time when this country is very divided – he may have a party majority in both the House and the Senate, but that does not mean that Congress will just hand him everything he wants. Nor should it.

Our system was designed as a three branch system so that each branch will keep the other branches accountable.

Yes We Can!

It was a beautiful thing to watch the pageantry of the Inauguration and the Parade and the various Inaugural Balls afterwards. Showing the world how the peaceful transition of power is possible, even when the parties involved have very distinct differences. President Bush was very gracious throughout the ceremonies, even when he was called out on his policies by the incoming President. This is what our country is all about.

Differences of opinion – discussing a situation and coming to a reasonable conclusion as a result of learned discourse – this is one of the things that makes our country great.

While I may not agree with everything that President Obama does, or the people he has chosen as advisors, I am cautiously hopeful for our future. I see a man that is willing to do what it takes to “save” this country. I see a man that is ready to change the “business as usual” money machine that has been the US government into an entity that is really and truly by the people and for the people.

I know that I will have disappointments over the next 4 years. It is impossible not to. But I am willing to give this President a chance. He was not my first choice, but I did vote for him. And even if I had not voted for him, he is my President. May G-d bless him as he leads this nation, guide him to the proper path and save him from any and all that wish him or our country harm.

01/22/2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment