Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wondrous Wikileaks

I now have a new hero, Julian Assange, spokesman for Wikileaks.org. When Wikileaks published all the military reports regarding the Afghanistan war and the Apache helicopter video from Iraq, it did a wonderful bit of tribute to the truth. Nothing contributes to the education of a country like the cold, unvarnished truth. As Mister Assange said, courage can be contagious, and I certainly believe that. He and his board at Wikileaks have the courage to publish that which has been kept out of the mainstream media for years. They also protect the identities of people who provide them with data, in the true spirit of journalism in the highest form. The newspapers and media outlets have hidden the truth about both these wars and their consequences for so long that unless you journey through the many websites that deal with such matters, you might not even know a dribble of what has really gone on in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only time that our government gets truthful is when their lies are brought out by some enterprising online or print journalist, then they are forced to divulge just a bit of information about it. Even then, it comes out in dribs and drabs, as censored as possible, always dressed up to make the government look good.
I really admire the way that people like Julian Assange of Wikileaks.org and like Dahr Jamail trust the common citizen to comprehend and evaluate truthful, realistic information. We are so used to being treated like simple, stupid, unthinking and uneducated people by our government, that it is refreshing to be communicated with in an adult manner. I salute them and hope they keep up the good work. Our country is in dire need of a good airing of our dirty linen! The only ones who fear the truth are those who have something to be ashamed of, why else would they fear it so much?
It is so very important that the public support those who have the simple courage to bring the facts to our attention. That's the real stuff of patriotism! Kudos, Wikileaks.org!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Lost Art Of Civility

It is way past time for us to relearn a little civility in our interactions with other people. I've always prided myself in listening to another person's point of view on any subject even if I didn't subscribe to those views. I love a lively political discussion, a healthy discourse on the ins and outs of the daily workings of the government and our elected officials. In recent days, I have gotten doubly discouraged by how badly the truth about life in the United States of America has been mangled by our newspaper reporters and pundits in mainstream media. I get really tired of hearing or reading about how exceptional we Americans are, and how destructive and uncivilized citizens of other countries are. Most of the news is presented handily wrapped in the great flag of patriotism, lest we forget how lucky we are to be Americans.
I was in a local grocery store last week, the last remaining one in Rock Springs, Wyoming, which still has the employees represented by a union contract for wage negotiations. I was by the meat display, comparing prices on chuck roasts, but I needed to get my reading glasses out to see the prices. As I did, there was a man standing very close to me and I babbled something about needing to see the prices and about how expensive meat had gotten. The man blurted out that it was because the country was now being run by Communists! I questioned, Communists? Yes, he said, Communists, that's what I call the President and his Democrats, bunch of Communist Democrats! Never being one to hide my political affiliation, I told him that I was one of those "Communist Democrats", and said I certainly hadn't come to the grocery store to be insulted. I turned and continued in my pursuit of a nice chuck roast and ignored him until he left. The more I thought about our verbal exchange, the funnier it got. I soon realized that not only had we forgotten as a society that manners and civility counted for something, but that much of this loss is caused by rampant ignorance as well. This poor man had been indoctrinated by the rantings of people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to believe that because our President is a black man, we were on the road to hell in the handbasket of a bunch of Commie Democrats. Oh my!
In the days of the cold war between the USSR and the US, it would have been called propaganda, but now that our society has been polarized into an us versus them mentality, it's called fair and balanced! Never have I seen such a pile of bull shit without a cow in sight!
Ignorance begets ignorance. I was going to write a letter to the editor of our local newspaper about the grocery store incident, but I decided not to, because I realized that the poor ignorant man was probably illiterate, how else would you explain someone not knowing the difference between a communist and a democrat? I wonder if Limbaugh and Beck know the definitions?
I know that ignorance is supposed to be bliss, but I prefer to think that an educated, polite, well-mannered and informed electorate would be beneficial to our country. Never let it be said that an old Rock Springs native can't still dream! At least give manners and civility a chance!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Swindling Social Security, Deficit Just An Excuse!

Okay seniors, time to pay attention! There is a movement in Washington D.C. to screw with Social Security. They say we old folks are just costing too much, that our "entitlement" is adding to the federal budget deficit. Their way of solving this imaginary problem is by reducng future benefit payments for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and raising the retirement age even higher and cutting future benefits for anyone 55 years old or younger in 2001. Representative Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin has drawn up what he calls "Roadmap for America's Future" It should be called "Taking America's Senior Citizens to the Dump", sorry, the politically correct word is landfill! The AARP Bulletin for July-August has an excellent article on this attempt to blame older, retired from working, folks for all of America's federal budget deficits. Of course, no mention is made by Rep. Ryan of the multiple billions of dollars spent on useless military weaponry and ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that would be unpatriotic! He hasn't offered to take a pay cut either, to help bring the deficit down! Rather, blame it on the old, infirm and no longer revenue producing population, the old folks did it!

Now, let me present a few salient FACTS about Social Security. Social Security is financed by a 12.4 % payroll tax, split between employer and employee not by money from the federal budget. It pays benefits to around 53 million Americans. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the reserve fund and payroll taxes will cover full payment of SS benefits until 2043. Pay close attention to this one! For the past 25 years? it has been TAKING IN more than it has been PAYING OUT, and now has a $2.5 TRILLION reserve fund invested in government bonds. Yes, that's right, 2,500,000,000,000 dollars. Imagine that! The government, however, has been borrowing from that reserve fund since Ronald Reagan was president (as if it was a petty cash fund) and wants to renege on it's IOU's. At our expense! They've been spending our retirement insurance money like a drunken sailor, and we are supposed to forget that this is money we all contributed to this fund during our years of working at our jobs. We are not going to let them get away with it! To quote A. Barry Rand CEO of AARP, "If Wasnington wants to restore confidence in our nation's budget, lawmakers should deal with what's really caused our federal deficit. The fact is, Americans pay for Social Security, and it hasn't added one dime to the deficit. It's a sacred promise we make to seniors, our children and our grandchildren--one that must not be broken. We believe that."

So do I! I think all 53 million of us who are beneficiaries of Social Security should stand up and demand that the government keep it's promise. After all, we already had that money deducted from our paychecks through our working years, we are entitled to the benefits we paid for. Call Washington, D.C., let them know we are paying attention to their attempt to swindle us. It's either that or the (formerly known as dump) landfill! It's our money!