Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Congratulations, Baucus…You’ve Made Me Feel Like A Conservative…

September 23, 2009

It’s not an easy thing to make someone as generally left-leaning as me feel like a conservative. But I’ve got to give some credit to Senator Max Baucus here. Congratulations, Senator, you have made me feel a connection with the right wing like I haven’t felt in years. And all it took was the decision to levy a new tax in your health care proposal that goes straight to the insurance companies. 13%, in the current proposal. Although thanks to recent pressure, Baucus now says he wants to try and reduce that to 12% or below. Gee golly willickers, Mr. Baucus…that one percent reduction in money being funneled straight out of my pocket to a private insurance company really makes it better. I’m much more supportive now. <cough cough> It just makes me feel so much better. <hack hack>

The conservative movement tends to get motivated to battle every time new taxes are suggested. Personally, I don’t. Yes, I think taxes suck. Anyone who pays them cannot deny that it sucks every time you have to write that check, or click that “submit payment” button each year. And yet, I am a realist. I understand that, as much as it sucks, the things that we ask government to do have to be paid for somehow, and I have to be a part of that payment.

In general, people start talking about taxes with the “family of four” option. Let me begin by saying that I cannot speak to the situation in which a family of 4 finds themselves, because I’m not a family of 4. I’m a single individual, living and working (as much as I can) in Los Angeles. As a 29 year old individual, I have very few friends who are families of 4. Most of them are, if anything, dealing with child number 1. And I don’t make the 300 percent above poverty level to put myself into the 13% tax level in Sen. Baucus’ proposed plan. But, much like Joe the Plumber, I hope to make that much in the next few years. Unlike Joe the Plumber, that’s a fairly attainable goal. It would mean increasing my yearly income by about $8,000. That’s pretty attainable by most standards, especially considering my age and position in the industry I am in.

That being defined, let’s do the math. The federal poverty level for a single individual is $10,300. Baucaus’ plan suggests taxing those at 3 times that by 13%. 3 times $10,300 is $30,900. 13% of $30,900 is $4017. The most expensive plan with Kaiser/Permanente, which has no deductible, includes prescription coverage, and has small co-pays is $216/month. That comes to $2,592/year. Under Baucus’ proposal, I would be paying $1,500 more per year directly to an insurance company. Yes, I said directly to the insurance company. The 13% tax cannot be used for deductibles or co-pays. Which brings us to the area I find myself connecting with conservatives right now. I don’t mind being taxed. But when that tax is going directly into the coffers of a private corporation, I have a problem. That’s no longer a tax. It’s corporate robbery. No wonder insurance company stocks have been rallying over the last few days. Then, to add insult to injury, that tax is actually more expensive than what I could pay now. Isn’t the whole idea of health care reform to reduce the cost, not inflate it?

The other change Baucus is making to his bill is to increase subsidies on families below the poverty level so that they don’t have to pay the 3% he was asking in his first proposal. Sounds good, right? Until you look at what the “poverty level” is. $22,050 for a family of four. $10,300 for an individual. Look carefully at that number. When you have to start defining “poverty” in $50 increments, I think we have a problem. Dinner and a movie for two people costs more than $50. Yet if I make $22,100 for my family of four, that puts me over the poverty line. Gotta be at that $22,050 mark…that extra $50 apparently makes all the difference. But wait…let’s do the math again. If I’m a father of two, making $22,100, then 3% of my income is $663. Taking that away from me puts me back into poverty, by government definition. And if I’m an individual, making $10,3100 per year, then that 3% is $309, which again puts me into poverty when taken from my check.

All of this, however, begs to ask: could you live with a family of four on $22,050? I make around that as a single individual, and I struggle enough to pay my bills. I live with two roommates in order to offset housing costs. It’s still a struggle just to exist. If I made $22,050, my rent alone would be 36% of my yearly income, with roommates factored in. If I had no roommates, the 3 bed/2 bath apartment I’m in would cost $23,400 per year. For those who can’t figure it, that’s 6% more than the $22,050 poverty line for a family of four to live in a place that gives each child their own room, with mom ‘n dad taking the master. Willing to make the kids room together? Average rent for a 2 bedroom apartment here is $1,416. That’s still 82% of yearly income if you make $22,050/year. To force people who are in that position to pay anything out of pocket in order to get health insurance is, quite frankly, so disconnected from reality that I have to wonder exactly what it is that Sen. Baucus is smoking.

So why force people at that level of poverty to have health insurance? Simple. If we don’t, then they end up in the emergency room, uninsured, when Dad gets sick with the flu and has to miss work (’cause if it’s Jr. that gets sick, we’re probably already paying for him through SCHIP). And since they can’t pay, those of us with insurance do. That seems to be one of the least understood or at least talked about points in the health care debate. What we have is three basic choices: either make sure that these people are insured through some kind of public option that, while not the quality of care that a Wall Street executive gets*, is still enough to provide basic care so that they can call a doctor and schedule an appointment when Dad gets sick; pay higher insurance premiums so the hospital can find some way to balance their books when someone comes into the ER (remember: emergency rooms are prohibited by law from denying medical care to anyone because of lack of insurance. They just tack it onto the bills of those of us with insurance. Next thing you know, our premiums are growing at rates far greater than our paychecks, and we end up cash poor because our insurance premiums are rising so quickly while our salaries remain stagnant); or drop the laws requiring treatment, allow people to go uninsured and untreated, and let people die because they couldn’t afford medical care. Yes, it really is that simple. You don’t want to read stories in the paper or hear about people dying because they didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford medical care? Be prepared to pay for it, one way or another. Because if they can’t, someone has to.

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I Am An American Conservative

September 21, 2009

(Note: I did not write this, it’s been going around the internet and I found it to be quite clever.)

This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the U.S. Department of Energy.

I then took a shower in the clean water provided by a municipal water utility.

After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC-regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like, using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

I watched this while eating my breakfast of U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

At the appropriate time, as regulated by the U.S. Congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-approved automobile and set out to work on the roads built by the local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level
determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank.

On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the U.S. Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and Fire Marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.

And then I log on to the internet — which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration — and post on Freerepublic.com and Fox News forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.

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Where Obama Went Wrong With The New Generation

September 18, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve sent waves through this area of the new world. To sum up the reasons why: facebook, iPhone, lack of at home based high-speed internet connection, becoming a member of the new freelance (aka “gig-based”) economy. Checking in became difficult, but don’t get me wrong – I have not checked out. In the modern day, it’s awfully hard to check out.

I have kept up with affairs. I’ve watched the debates, heard the arguments, seen the tin-foil hats (hell, in past days I even wore a tin-foil hat and mask through WalMart at 2 am one night with friends because we were bored). At this point, I know little more than I did before. I know we are embroiled in an argument over the reform of the “Health Care System”. I also know I have a distinct problem with this statement. That problem is that it implies we have a system for health care. I don’t know what the encounters of others have been with this “system”, but I’ve never found the “system” that organized beyond the corporate structure of individual companies. Keep in mind, the definition of “system” is: “a group of independent but interrelated elements comprising a unified whole”. Try and get your insurance company to work with a specialist who is the best in the area, but not a member of their network. You will find out very quickly how much of a “unified whole” we have in this country.

If it has not become blatantly obvious at this point, I agree that this country needs some serious reform (or, as I opine, creation) of a health care system. President Obama seems to believe the same. Most of Congress thinks the same as well. No one can agree on how to do it, but everyone agrees it has to be done. So…where did it all go wrong?

It has been suggested to me that the lack of interest from the youth vote that helped to elect Obama is a part of what has allowed the debate to again become so polarized. To this, I must say – I agree. Momentum generated supporting Obama during the election has begun to wear down. College students don’t give as much energy to the campaign goals as they did to the campaign itself. Accepting this, the question is: why?

There are many reasons why the youth movement is no longer as active in Obama’s goals as they were in his campaign. The first, and possibly the most obvious yet easily overlooked, is that it is just that time of year. The election and campaigns are held at a time when students are: in school; involved in the world; being educated; surrounded by piers and intellectuals; involved in clubs that enable social action; on campus where they can set up booths and use bullhorns. On the flip side, the health care debate has been during a time when students are: on spring break; studying for finals; taking finals; preparing to leave to for summer; at home for the summer trying to make money to cover student loan costs and give their parents a break. Is it really a shock to find that the college vote that helped elect Obama is far less active during the next 6 months?

The first reason being established, the second reason should be more complex. Being the bearer of bad news, I have to say…it’s just as simple. Obama’s camp has become the spam capitol of the e-world. In doing so, he has destroyed a lot of credibility with the new digital age that helped elect him.

Please, re-read the statement above. I mean it. It has gone too far. Every day it’s a new e-mail from the Obama camp. We need your help with this. We need your help with that. What it should read is “we don’t remember that you’ve just gone through civics class, and you think that you should really only have to stand up to protest the US Government at times when it is absolutely necessary”. Unfortunately, right now doesn’t feel absolutely necessary. “Why?”, once again becomes the question. The answer, once again, may be simpler than you think.

We, as the new generation, live in a world that is inundated by Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace updates. The whole world, in effect, has become spam. Everything comes to us, at our whim. There is no longer a question of “who was that actor in…?”, because one of us will hit up IMDB on our phone and answer the question. Information is readily available, whether truthful or otherwise.

It then gets categorized by importance. Importance is defined by popularity. And quite frankly, daily updates from the Obama camp asking us to write our congressman in support of issue X do nothing to bring us in. We need Obama. We don’t respond to an e-mail from Lindsay Lohan’s assistant telling us she’s drunk at club XXY. But the drunk twitter from Lindsay herself will get hits all night. Don’t take me wrong – I don’t think anyone in Lindsay’s state of power sends their own Tweets. Lindsay’s publicist, however, is smart enough to not let us in on the secret. It is in this impersonal/personal duality that Barack has lost the new generation that he rallied during the election.

In the time of the election, the choices were obvious. Change was promised from a youthful leader who understood how to rally the new generation and use the new medium of technology to bring about a personal connection with government that had never been seen before. Those who supported the president knew, via a new medium, his plans at the same time the news agencies found out. We were in direct contact with those who could be in power. It felt great. It was empowering. We felt as though we could change the world, and continue to have an impact. We elected our leader. You may now reach him by going to http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/. Ask for the change we believed in – the kind where politics becomes personal, and our voices don’t simply echo through the noise chamber.

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“Virtual” Reality?

November 15, 2008

Stretch. Crack the back, roll the neck around. Shut off the damned alarm. Take solace in fresh coffee; give thanks to digital timer on coffee maker. Release the latch, and gently guide the lid of the box upwards. The silver rimmed LCD world awaits, glowing through its matte lens. Open the browser expecting to see your favorite portal, but instead, there is only a 6 word frame. No external links, no further explanation. Welcome to the Brave New World.

Ok, it hasn’t happened yet. And it doesn’t have to be that sinister. But, it might be time to start a cultural discourse on just how virtual this new reality we are creating really is. There have been a number of events lately that have made me giggle at the way the online universe was spilling into reality. There were the two Dutch teens who were prosecuted for stealing an amulet in an online game. And then the Japanese woman who was jailed when she hacked his account to kill her online husband after he dumped her in the game Second Life. But two events tonight made it even more apparent just how blurred the line between reality and virtual reality has become. 

The first is a story of online love, real life marriage, online private eye work unveiling possible online cheating, leading to real life divorce. It is, from CNNs account, a soap opera of a story that seems to jump from real worlds to virtual worlds in a way that is so confusing, I had to read the story twice just to decipher which events occurred in reality and which events occurred in cyberspace.  Unlike the previous examples, it is not merely a story of someone who is prosecuted for hacking or other illegal activities stemming from something they did because of an online game. There is no stolen intellectual property or violated privacy to prosecute. It is a classic human drama of love and loss. It attests to the very ability of this increasingly linked world of technology to connect with us on a human level. The emotions felt by both parties in this story are as real as those in any failed marriage. And yet they began, revolved around, and ended through interaction in a virtual world. But the woman’s faith in the virtual world has not been shaken too much. After using a virtual PI to catch her non-virtual husband having a virtual affair, she “is now in a new relationship with a man she met in the online roleplaying game World of Warcraft.”

Which leads us into story of the night number 2. World of Warcraft (WoW) creator Blizzard Ent. just held their annual “Blizzcon” convention of WoW fans. And wow, are there some fans. 

bc4_500x500No, the above picture is not part of a “caption this” contest (although feel free to caption in the comments – it’s ripe for humor). That is the Blizzcon costume contest winner riding on her “animatronic tortoise mount“. Keep in mind that the costume and tortoise mount were created and funded by a private party for a costume contest at a fanfest. The amount of work required to make something this elaborate is no small matter. In fact, it is more elaborate than many of the floats entered into the Rose Parade that are funded by cities, groups, or corporations and assembled by teams of volunteers.

As humorous as these examples may be, they point to something deeper. This world of 1’s, 0’s and pixels is as real as any other we’ve created. And the repercussions are equally pertinent. The music business may have been the first to realize it. They were certainly one of the first to react. Unfortunately, that reaction was fueled by fear over the lack of control the corporate structures had of this new form of delivering music. A brief historical synopsis:

Back in 1999, a new service hit the scene called Napster. Napster allowed people to freely trade files over a growing open network, aka the internet. A large number of files being traded were copyrighted audio recordings. The major labels feared this new assault on their control of distribution of recorded material, especially when songs leaked before their official release. Their reaction was not one that attempted to embrace this new method of information delivery. Instead, they tried to shut off the tap. Lawsuits against Napster and its creators ensued, and proved to be only the first in a series of lawsuits brought by the industry and it’s lobbies (RIAA) as the industry attempted to grasp the intellectual sand that slipped from it’s fingers. The labels left a 2 year gap between the time Napster was shut down (2001) and the time they finally came together to provide a digital download service with the help of Apple through the creation of iTunes (2003). In that time, album sales continued to fall, and illegal downloading increased. This trend has not been reversed, and the music business is wondering how it will remain a valid entity of business in the new climate. It is a mistake that even the major labels have come to realize, as evidenced by their response to music videos showing up on YouTube. Instead of suing and attempting to shut down the service, all 4 major labels made licensing deals with YouTube.

The effect of the virtual world on the real world is further evidenced by the recent presidential campaign and transition of power. The Obama campaign embraced the virtual world of communication in a way no other campaign ever had. In fact, the campaign had amassed such a large list of email addresses that the list was used as collateral towards a loan (which did not end up being needed, and as such was not taken) during the end of the campaign. And President elect Obama has continued to show that he understands how important the virtual world is to motivating the modern citizen. The transition website is but the most obvious example of this deference to the importance and reality of the world of new media.

All of these things make it clear that we have created a new reality. As with all realities, it is only as virtual as we believe it to be. And we are believing it to be more and more real. And as with all new realities, this new virtual one has the potential to move humanity in any number of directions. Unlike previous realities, however, this new virtual world bends at the direct influence of the will of its users. It has not yet been steeped in tradition. It is still able to run amok, providing an anarchic playground in which any voice can be heard. As technology increases, the ability to create competitively flashy content to bring to this unregulated show and tell is placed into the hands of more people.

In theory, the public has always owned the media distribution networks. Technically, the broadcast networks used by radio and television are owned and controlled by the taxpayers. But we handed our controlling interest in the old networks over to corporate surrogates and federal regulators long ago. The results have entertained us for decades. They have also given control of our first virtual worlds (radio, then television) to outside interests and have left the average citizen with no real voice in the media world. But the new media printing press has been created and handed over to society to use as we see fit. It will bend to and reflect our will. It is up to us to make certain that reflection is something we want to see.

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A Word About Experience…

October 31, 2008

For those who missed it because they either think he’s a left wing nut, or find him offensive, or just don’t find him funny…go back and check out the interview with Barack Obama on Jon Stewart’s show. There’s a lot of interesting things to be taken from it that I haven’t noticed from many of the other interviews. The title of the post is a word on experience so, here is my word on experience. Obama has aged lately. A lot. The Stewart interview showed it in a way I’ve never really seen before. I don’t know if it was because the interview was in a place where the lighting wasn’t fully controlled, or the makeup people didn’t have the time to sit with him they way they wanted or what, but it shows in his face and in every grey hair on his head. The man who looked so youthful and embodied a sense of being fresh, new, and inexperienced isn’t looking so green anymore. He looks aged, and the signs of the experience of the last 2 years are glaringly obvious.

And yet, it’s not over. Both parties tell us this, and guess what…they’re right. The majority of us still haven’t voted. It’s still dragging on. It’s been the longest campaign season ever. The candidates have done more appearances, given more speeches, raised more money, spent more money, placed more ads, analyzed more polls, and held more debates than ever before. And there’s still a large number of “undecided” voters 5 days before the election being courted by both sides. If the effect of the longer campaign was that we, as a populous, were better informed about the candidates than ever before, then why are there so many questions about their candidate that even supporters can’t answer? Recycling talking points for months longer doesn’t help us.

The experience given to both sides by this campaign is readily visible. As someone who grew up with a great respect for John McCain, it has saddened me to see him shaken in a way never before. I’ve watched and wondered how McCain could continue to follow campaign advice that went against everything he stood for. But when I look back on it now, I’m not surprised. The sheer length and toll of this campaign season is something that no one can walk away from without having years taken from their life. And I’m beginning to think that, in McCain’s case, it has taken years from his judgement. I wonder just how different things would have been if both candidates hadn’t been suffering from a forced exhaustion, and had been able to have the best of their wits about them. I honestly think if that was the case, McCain would have a much better chance. It is possible, even, that the selling of Sarah Palin would never have succeeded. And my respect for Sen. John McCain might have grown instead of dwindled. 

Campaigning has always been hard. Candidates have always had to travel and stump tirelessly. It’s what running a successful campaign is all about. But with each passing year, this process is elongated. Any reasonable person must begin to wonder – is this really healthy for our country? It is right for the public to know the person they are voting for. It is right for us to be informed, and for our leaders to know that they must speak to us, frankly and candidly, before we decide on election day. But is it right for us to require them to endure 21 months of sleepless nights, jetlag, and mental and physical exertion that is beyond pale? If either of these guys were Hollywood stars, they would have been on hiatus for exhaustion long ago. Personally, I don’t want the next leader of my country to enter into office already exhausted. I don’t think it’s a smart thing to do. Being president is an exhausting enough job in the best of times. Whoever wins the next election will undoubtedly be taking on the most exhausting job in the nation. Let’s do ourselves a favor, and stop wearing them out before they ever get there.

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Death Threats, Hung Visages…Stop Acting Like Children!

October 28, 2008

So, for those who haven’t seen, there were two major political news stories today. The first were the two guys arrested who had hatched a plot to kill Obama. The other was a visage of Palin hung from a noose in West Hollywood. It’s time to stop playing with fire. If the candidates really hadn’t realized it already, it should now be exceedingly clear. We’re acting like children. And these children have become an angry mob. And they’re finding weapons, symbolic or otherwise. We stand on the verge of what may be the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The only thing that is going to avert this event is by coming together as a country and using that classic American “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” spirit to keep our country from spiraling into the s&*tter. It’s past time to stop riling up the public in any way – it’s time to start calming everyone down before it’s too late to placate someone. Stop playing divisive political games…the stakes are too high. On a lighter note though – Yahoo had a story on their front page about the price of 32″ LCD TVs possibly dropping as low as $399 by Christmas, so lets hope we can go back to placating ourselves with high-def and leave the violence on the screen.

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McCarthyism Has A New Face – Rep. Michelle Bachmann UPDATED

October 23, 2008

UPDATE:

Local paper Minnesota Star Tribune has kept up with this, and given light to some of the response and fallout. As to Bachmann’s response: she blames Matthew’s tactics, the using of “only clips of my interview”, denies she said what she said, and states that they (Matthews and liberal blogs) are “motivated entirely by their hatred of me and my conservative beliefs.” My response? If you are that easily tricked by a journalist, you do not need to be representing anyone at a federal level. Congress debates legislation, and votes according to the persuasiveness of the debate and examination of the factors involved. If you can be that easily tricked into saying something, I don’t want you arguing on anyones behalf. Even if you don’t share my views and it would be beneficial to me to have you as an opponent to them. On to the fallout: the candidate who opposes her has raised $1.3 million since her comments, and the GOP has pulled national funding for commercials for her. And that gives me hope that this interweb device of ours might just be able to change the landscape of politics, and allow the populous to hold the elected representatives of this country accountable for their words.

Just recently saw the following interview with Michelle Bachmann. From this point forward, I will refuse to call her representative, because the views she puts forth are by no means representative of anything which I, or any who believe in the importance of thought, can believe. For those who wish to read first, please look past the video – I will quote relevant segments for support of arguments. Either way, please watch the video and decide for yourself, whether before or after reading.

 

Ok, so what’s the deal here? How can I suggest that this is a form of McCarthyism? 

Bachmann: “usually, we associate with people who have similar ideas to us, and it seems that it calls into question what Barack Obama’s true beliefs, and values, and thoughts are.”

Point one for McCarthyism! McCarthy used the same kind of tactic. In his case, it was “give me the name of 3 communists you’ve associated with, or admit you are a communist”. This is simply ridiculous. I associate with many people who I do not have similar thoughts to, including those who are far more radical than I am in both conservative and liberal spectrums. I respect their thoughts and ideology, even if I do not agree with their conclusions. I call it keeping an open mind. My thoughts, values, and beliefs are my own, and no one else’s. It is just this kind of attack on intellectual freedom that people as respected as Albert Einstein (as the American Museum of Natural History points out) spoke out against.

Bachmann: “calls into question not only his judgement, but also what Barack Obama really believes, and we know that he’s the most liberal senator in the United States Senate, and that’s just after one year after being there, he’s the most liberal, Joe Biden is the third most liberal, you’ve got Harry Reid who’s liberal, Nancy Pelosi who’s liberal…”

Point two for McCarthyism! In the same horribly phrased run on sentence, Bachmann links Obama’s association with a former domestic terrorist to his liberal beliefs (although the study she uses disagrees with two others), and then to other liberal senators. Here, not only does she imply guilt by association, but she extends that guilt to other members of the US Senate.

Bachmann: “Most Americans, Chris, are WILD about America, and they’re very concerned to have a president who doesn’t share those values.”

Point three, McCarthy! This attacks intellectual freedom once again. Personally, I would not describe myself as being “wild about America”. Don’t get me wrong here…I love this country, and the freedom and ideals that it was founded upon. But I also am pragmatic enough to admit that there are problems with the current state of Government. There will always be problems with Government. It is up to us to minimize those problems. Honestly, there’s not much I’m really “wild” about. Wild is not the way I want any of my thoughts described…rather, it is something I try and avoid. I prefer my thought to be reasoned. This includes my love of country. There is a reason I love my country, and it’s not wild, it’s rational and based in belief of essential freedoms.

Matthews: “Do you believe that Barack Obama may have anti-American views?”

Bachmann: “Absolutely, I…I…I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views”

McCarthy, point four! McCarthy used a similar tactic to bring people before the public and, while never calling them communist, questioned their loyalty to America based on the fact that they, in essence, associated with Communists. The web just keeps getting bigger and bigger…

Bachmann: “On college campuses…you find people who hate America” 

Woh…McCarthy point five! McCarthy’s downfall was when he began to levy these kinds of charges against intellectuals and teachers, including the eventual accusations against Oppenheimer (yeah, the one who brought us the war-ending atomic bomb). This language attempts to draw into question the entire higher educational system in much the same way McCarthy did. Again, it calls into question the same issues of intellectual freedom that so many used to fight McCarthyism in the first place.

Bachmann: “I’m not going to say if they’re anti-American or pro-American.”

McCarthy, point six. This kind of “I don’t know what their views are, I’m just questioning them” logic is exactly the kind of rhetoric McCarthy used. This kind of rhetoric is absolutely inappropriate coming from a seated elected official. It is why Congress eventually held hearings to censure McCarthy.

Mathews: “How many do you suspect of your colleagues as being anti-American?”

Bachmann: “What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look, I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an expose like that.”

McCarthy, point seven, game, set, match. This is really the kicker, folks. The idea of creating a congressional committee like the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was called by Harry Truman “the most un-American thing in the country today.”, is obviously not going to fly anymore. So, the next best thing is to throw the same type of “investigation” to the media. After all, the media cannot be held accountable in the same ways Congress can. For a Congress-person to call for this investigation, however, is beyond inappropriate; it is scary.

As always, this post is made from a viewpoint that attempts to remove emotion and bias. Please note that I will not comment on the Ayers/Wright/Obama controversy that is already commented on in so many places. Quite frankly, the entire issue is far too overly politicized to be looked at in the context of this blog. However, the comments of Ms. Bachmann are beyond political.

Statements such as these coming from an elected representative are not only harmful, but hearken back to a darker period of the past which, I hope, Americans have learned from. To allow speech like this to continue from our elected officials, regardless of your viewpoint on Sen. Obama’s associations, is to allow the country to drift into a period of unsupported fear that created some of the worst derision of the past, and furthered the derision that created some of the most radical and violent movements of the 1960s and 1970s. This is unacceptable, and should not be allowed.

If we are to learn anything from the past, we must learn that these sort of widespread “guilt by association” attacks that call for investigations based upon only the idea that “I can’t prove that someone is not anti-American, so we must investigate whether they are” have no beneficial effect. They only serve to further divide the country, and foment the anger that has begun to rear its ugly head once again. I urge all thoughtful individuals to speak out against such acts, and request that Ms. Bachmann at the very least retract and apologize for her comments, if not that she be censured by Congress for her comments. We simply cannot stand for this kind of vitriol from people who are elected to positions of power.