Thursday, June 18, 2009


The right-wing in America, led loudly and proudly by the Republican Party, has fallen head over heels in love with democracy – in of all places- Iran! The GOP’s last candidate for President, the loser John McCain, himself a lifelong warhawk, a supporter of every dictatorship ever created or propped up by the US military-industrial complex - the man who gleefully sang “Bomb Iran” to the Beach Boy’s tune, “Barbara Ann” – McCain's the one calling out President Obama demanding he lend aid and comfort to the Iranians protesting a “fixed election.”

The right-wing is outraged at a “fixed election!” Reminiscent of the radical 60's SDS, Senator McCain is manning the barricades for Democracy Now! Where was Senator McCain in Florida in 2000? Where were the Republican Party and the foam-at-the-mouth rabid right-wing radio talk hosts in 2004 when the “official vote count” in Ohio said that only 7% of Cleveland’s black voters bothered to turn out and vote in that election? In their love of democracy did they scream for a recount in Ohio? How come these guys never fall in love with democracy over here?

Does nobody remember? The last time the United States involved itself in Iranian electoral politics it was 1953. Working hand in glove with our British allies, in lockstep support of BP Oil and later Mobil, Exxon, Texaco and the rest, we stepped in and overthrew the elected Iranian government – the guys who wanted to actually nationalize their own oil resources - and installed, in their place, the vicious, violent rule of the Shah of Iran. Remember him? He was our point man for democracy in Iran when the great democrat (small “d”) Dwight David Eisenhower was President of the United States. Ike saved democracy in Europe – why not Iran too?

Back then, in 1953, under the direction of General Norman Schwarzkopf (whose son, Norm Jr. would one day lead a US invasion of another Muslim nation in the Middle East), we did exactly what today’s right-wing wants us to do again in Iran – decide which side we like and impose it upon the Iranian people.

We have collectively, conveniently forgotten 1953. Despite President Obama’s admission of the facts, some still insist upon denial. The Iranians have never forgotten. There must be something wrong with them, right?

Imagine – if you can – if some foreign nation had come into the United States in November or December of 2000 and, by force of arms, imposed Al Gore as the new President. Would you have forgotten? Would we ever forget?

And now, in 2009, Iran has held another election and they seem to have fucked it up royally –beyond anyone's wildest dreams. The votes were apparently counted and the results announced even before the voters had cast all their ballots. The greatest fixer of them all, Mayor Richard Daley – the man who man who robbed Nixon and made JFK President - was never able to do that in Chicago.

The Iranian election was a joke. But it was an Iranian election. It's their joke and the mess belongs to them. We are neither the world's policeman nor are we the maid.

They are not children. The Persian culture is thousands of years old. They are not without their own capable leaders. As we pleaded for Poland once – now we should all let Iran be Iran. Let the Iranian people work this out for themselves. For once, let’s us stay out of someone else’s business.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A TALE OF TWO COUNTRIES... inspired by a comment made by Valentine Marofsky

Two headlines today….

A tale of two countries.

It seems likely that the people of Iran have been boldly screwed over by their own government. The Iranian Presidential candidate supported by the apparent majority, Mousavi, was declared to be not just the loser, but a pitiful, pathetic loser. Mousavi – according to the “official” vote count was roundly and soundly trounced, humiliated and ground into the electoral dirt like a bug beneath the Shoe of Iran. We are told he even lost the popular vote in his own hometown, in his own province, among his own clan or tribe, so to speak. Of course he did.

In the spirit that brought more than a million Ukrainians out in the -20 below zero cold when their Presidential election was rigged; and with the fervor that inspired hundreds of thousands of Poles to rise up against their Soviet masters in support of Solidarity, now we see Iranians – by the hundreds of thousands – young and old – men and women – in the streets protesting the bogus outcome of their election.

And who is it we see at the head of the protesting crowd – microphone in hand – demanding freedom and justice? Why it’s the candidate himself – Mousavi! The people vote and now they protest. They voted for him and he stands with them!

Over here, in the comfort of the richest society ever to exist on this planet – the United States of America - we have “victims” venting their outrage. But, have they the courage of the Iranians? Do they hold the ethical high ground? Or do they stand on squishier stuff? When I see the Madoff protestors I am reminded of drug dealers stealing from one another. And who are these victims? Looks to me like the aggrieved drug dealers – in this case the poor “victims” of Bernie Madoff – are demanding retribution from the more successful, surviving thief. The greedy have been fleeced by the even greedier.

My heart is with the Iranians.

I wonder what the Iranian people have that we lack? Where were we in 2000, after Florida? Where was Al Gore? Where were we – again – in 2004, after Ohio? Where was John Kerry?

In those elections we showed our true American colors, and so too did our candidates.

Were we ever a match for the Iranians?

In 1824 Andrew Jackson won the general election for President. In a four-way race, he finished a convincing first. But he was denied the necessary Electoral Votes and the US Congress voted to make the son of a former President – a man with the same name as his father, made slightly different only by the addition of an extra initial – Congress made him the new President. They did this despite the fact that John Q. Adams was beaten by Andrew Jackson and finished second to Jackson in the voting.

Like Mousavi has done in Iran, and most unlike what either Al Gore or John Kerry did, Andrew Jackson denied the credibility of the Adams’ administration. He took his case to the people. He spent the next four years telling anyone who would listen – and there were many who were eager to hear him – that their vote had been corrupted, denied, destroyed and rejected. Jackson ran again in 1828 and this time he won a landslide victory. He served two terms as US President and many of us see him now, perhaps everyday – staring at us from the middle of the twenty-dollar bill. A hundred and eighty-five years after his bitter defeat, Andrew Jackson is still an American hero

Do you think anyone will even know who Al Gore or John Kerry were a hundred and eighty-five years from now? We can only imagine what the future holds for Mr. Mousavi?

Good luck to the brave Iranians who risk life and limb to claim the full value of their vote. As for the Americans and their outrage over the swindler Bernie Madoff? For me they seem very much like that hot mustard you get when you order Chinese food. You know, the stuff that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Iranian electoral democracy at work may have much in common with our own here in the United States.

We don’t live there – in Iran. We don’t vote in their elections. We are not privy to what’s going on, in person, as it happens. We have zero firsthand information about the Iranian election. We depend on news reports. Those news reports have shown us the apparent massive support for the anti-Ahmadinejad candidate. Of course, all we know is what we’re told… so, in truth we don’t really “KNOW” anything at all. We’re dependant upon the news reports to be credible. The US media tells us the truth, doesn’t it? They are credible.

Maybe they are. Maybe they’re not. Ask yourself again: What do we know… I mean, what do we “KNOW?”

Look at it from this perspective –

Let’s say Ahmadinejad managed to defeat Mousavi because of the votes he received from a single district. That is where the election turned in his favor. Let’s also say that this district was controlled by Ahmadinejad’s very close friend, a lifelong associate… perhaps even his brother – a blood relative, a tribal intimate. And, let us say that his opponent, Mousavi, hotly contested this local result and blamed the “brother” for fixing the count. Let us say that Mousavi claimed he actually won the district in question just as he was credited with winning the country as a whole.

Let’s say Mousavi demanded a recount in the “brother’s” district.

Now, go to the extreme. Let’s say the Iranian election was finally and conclusively decided by a vote of a special High Court that ruled there could be no independent recount of the district’s ballots and, in effect, declared Ahmadinejad the victor. Add one last element to this by stipulating that some of the members of this High Court had been named by Ahmadinejad’s closest tribal sponsor – by his father!

How do you think the US news media would report that? Would they report that Iran had held a fair and honest election? Would the result be presented to us as a symbol of what democracy is supposed to be all about? Or, maybe, don’t you think, it would be universally seen – by our own media – as the dishonest, corrupt violation of the public will that it surely was – an inside, family-job, a put up deal, FIXED!

Now - take it one final unthinkable step beyond: What if that happened here, right here in the United States of America, God’s gift to the world as its Best Hope for mankind on this planet – the home of the brave and the land of the free?

No need to worry. Such a travesty could never happen here.

By the way, did I tell you how furious I am with the Iranian sham election, their hoax upon democracy? They don’t deserve the time of day from a people as noble and honest and democratic and free as us.

God bless the USA!


Change We Can Believe In! Where do you think we might see such change? Not just something a little different from past policies, but real, meaningful, dramatic, significant change? How about healthcare?

The Obama campaign said he would. YES WE CAN! And his administration is promising exactly that. They say we’ll emerge from the Dark Ages of western civilization and no longer be the only industrialized country without a system of healthcare that provides for universal coverage. That would be change in anybody’s book.

Harry Truman was the first American President to call for a national healthcare policy that guaranteed coverage to all Americans – more than 60 years ago! Since then, JFK favored it; so did Lyndon Johnson – even Richard Nixon – as well as some other presidents, Democrats and Republicans. Clinton made a real effort early in his first term. But nothing happened.

Why? For each failed attempt there was a reason, or reasons. For example, perhaps if President Clinton had put a professional in charge of the health plan instead of… his wife! ... But, the real reason we’ve seen the same system remain intact and grow and grow and grow until healthcare has become the largest segment of the largest economy in the world is – the power and influence of the private interests that comprise the healthcare industry. There are many of them, but basically we’re talking about the pharmaceutical manufacturers, the insurance companies and the HMOs, the hospital and service provider corporations, the medical supply and equipment manufacturers and the equity investment firms with a financial stake in our sicknesses, our treatments, and the maintenance of our wellbeing. As always – follow the money.

On the one hand – seeking change - we have the desire of the people for universal healthcare. On the other hand – there’s the mountain of money that is the enormous fortune of the healthcare industry. Thus far, it hasn’t been a fair or close fight.

We have gone the distance, 12 Presidents from Truman to Obama, with our For-Profit Only system and no national program of any kind designed to ensure actual healthcare coverage for all the people of the United States. And now – FINALLY! – Obama is saying he’ll bring us the change Truman first spoke of. Change We Can Believe In. How will he do it?

Obama has appointed a Healthcare Czar! Wow, someone who will spearhead the effort, direct the administration’s troops in the field, work with the Congress – someone who can get this Change We Can Believe In off the ground. For once, a professional will be in charge.

The Healthcare Czar’s name is Nancy-Ann DeParle. I’m sure many of you are thinking – A woman! Terrific.

Czar DeParle is on our side, right? Sure she is. Where did Obama find her? Where does she come from?

In the last 3 years Czar DeParle has served on the Boards of a number of healthcare industry corporations. And she’s been rewarded to the tune of – are you sitting down? - $5.8 million. Yes, I’m afraid so - $5,800,000 paid to her from the very industry she’s the Czar of. They must really be scared, huh?

Here’s a partial list: Cerner, Medco Health Systems, Boston Scientific, CareMore Health Plan, Legacy Hospital Partners. Czar DeParle also served as a Managing Director of another healthcare company, called Davita. This plum spot paid her $685,000. Add to this the $1 million investment stake Czar DeParle owned in CCMP. No, that’s not a part of the old Soviet Union. It’s an equity capital company heavily invested in – you guessed it - the healthcare industry.

Conflict of interest? C’mon now – She’s been appointed by Obama.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of Cerner, one of the companies on whose Board she served. Cerner is in the medical-computer business. So, how did the founder of Cerner, Neal Patterson react when Nancy-Ann DeParle was appointed Healthcare Czar and the Obama stimulus plan included $19 billion – yes, that’s BILLION – for computerized medical files? Mr. Patterson understandably called these developments “…the largest opportunity in the history of our industry!” I’ll bet it is too.

Nancy-Ann DeParle is on our side, right? She’ll bring us Change We Can Believe In… won’t she?

Of course, no Czar will be writing the legislation. And she won’t have a vote in the Congress. And we can trust our Congressional leaders to be on our side for Change We Can Believe In. Can’t we?

Thankfully, Senate Leader Harry Reid is no problem. He’s only got $50,000 in healthcare investments. Whew! A pittance. That’s good. What about the other key legislators involved in writing the healthcare bill? We’ll take fifty-grand as a good sign anytime, won’t we? We have such low standards.

Sorry. Republican Senator Judd Gregg, who’ll sit on the committee, has $560,000 of personal money invested in healthcare corporations.

But he’s a Republican – Who cares about him? It’s the Democrats who run the show. What about the key Democrats in the House? They’re sure to be on our side, right? Yeah, sure they are.

A key House committee member, Rep. Jane Harman from California, is not only married to one of the richest men in the country, she personally has – are you still sitting down? – Congresswoman Harman personally owns $3.2 million of healthcare industry corporate investments.

In fact, the 11 key members of the House and Senate have a total of $27 million in healthcare corporate investments. And they will write the bill? Are you feeling sick yet?

Looking for a silver lining among all these dark clouds? Look no farther than Sen. Chris Dodd who will be in charge of the Senate committee, in the absence of the ill Sen. Ted Kennedy. Just like we’ve always figured, Sen. Dodd is clean as a whistle. We’re saved! Well, not so quickly. You know how they do things in Washington, don’t you?

Jackie Dodd – the WIFE of Senator Dodd – just happens to sit on the Board of Directors of 4 major healthcare corporations. Your company should be so lucky. She’s the Big Earner in her family.

Like Bogart and Bergman had Paris, we’ll always have Sen. John Kerry. Too bad he didn’t win. We might have gotten universal healthcare already, right? Well, maybe not. Kerry’s financial disclosure lists some $5.2 million of his money invested in healthcare corporations.

But they’re all on our side, aren’t they? They say they are. Obama says so too. I guess they are – even if their money is stacked up against us, higher than Jack’s beanstalk. After all, what’s more influential – the wishes of the people or the power of invested capital? You don’t have to answer that.

When it comes to healthcare, don’t be holding your breath waiting for anything like… Change We Can Believe In.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Randy Johnson recently won his 300th game. To accumulate 300 wins is a major achievement. Most baseball fans think of Johnson as a great pitcher and include him on any list of the all-time greatest. If asked, most fans would probably point to his 300 career wins as proof of Johnson’s greatness. Others will talk about the time he won 3 games in one World Series.

Every pitcher who has won 300 or more games is in the Hall of Fame. Someday Johnson will be too. The tall left-hander is a lock to be elected, almost certainly on the first ballot. Nevertheless, he’ll be the oldest ever first ballot inductee, past his 50th birthday when he does finally join the immortals in the Hall. You see, he’s still pitching at age 46 and a player must be retired for 5 years before he becomes eligible to be voted in.

Baseball is a game of statistics and standards, yardsticks that remain forever constant. The mark of excellence for pitchers has always been to win 20 games in a single season. Randy Johnson has done that. He’s been a 20 game winner three times. Johnson has won 20 games or more in 3 different seasons. That means in 19 other seasons he did not win 20 games.

As for the one World Series in which he was the winning pitcher 3 times – if you think that should get you into the Hall of Fame what do you say to this list of pitchers, each of whom like Johnson, won 3 games in a single World Series – but they never made it to Cooperstown: Bill Dineen, Deacon Phillippe, Babe Adams, Joe Wood, Red Farber, Harry Brecheen, Lew Burdette and Mickey Lolich?

Since he’s played for 22 years and won 300 times, it will come as no surprise that in nearly half the seasons in which he competed he failed to win as many as 15 games. Do the math. While 20 wins is a mark of excellence, the measure of a “good pitcher” is pegged at 15 wins a season. So, in 10 separate seasons Randy Johnson was not only not “excellent,” he was something less than “good.”

In 4 different seasons Johnson actually lost more games than he won. That’s “bad.” In his last season pitching for Seattle his record was 1-10. That's right - he won only once and was the losing pitcher for his team ten times. Hall of Fame?

In the history of Major League Baseball 369 pitchers have won 20 games in a single season. That is remarkable since almost 6,000 pitchers have played on Major League teams. How does Randy Johnson stack up against the other 20 game winners?

Okay – but certainly he’s not up there among the greatest of the game.

There are 23 pitchers who’ve had more 20 game seasons – consecutively – than Randy Johnson has had in his entire 22-year career. Four of those pitchers – Wes Ferrell, Dave McNally, Urban Shocker and Dave Stewart – won 20 or more games 4 seasons in a row and none of them is in the Hall of Fame. Johnson won 20 games 3 times in his whole career, not in consecutive seasons.

How about the three 20 game seasons Johnson did put together? How does that number look?

Wes Ferrell (a household name?) won 20 games in 6 different seasons – that’s twice as many times as Randy Johnson. And for the games really greatest – well, there is no comparison. Johnson’s three 20 game seasons seem hardly worth a mention against Christy Mathewson and Warren Spahn who won 20 games 13 times each; or Walter Johnson’s 12 times. Ferguson Jenkins, the great Cubs right-hander, won 20 games in a season 7 different times- 7 times! - and look how long it took for him to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

How does Randy Johnson’s record of 3 times compare with these 5 time 20 game winners: Carl Mays, George Mullin, Deacon Phillippe and Hugo Vaughn? You probably never heard of any of them. None are anywhere near being in the Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame is for greatness, not goodness. Here’s what greatness looks like: Christy Mathewson won 20 games in 12 straight seasons; Walter Johnson had 10 consecutive 20 game seasons; Lefty Grove did it 7 straight times. Jim Palmer won 20 games or more 4 times in a row – twice! It was only 1974 that kept Palmer from registering 8 straight 20 win seasons.

Randy Johnson is a good pitcher – maybe a very good pitcher – one who managed to hang on long enough to rack up 300 wins. He may end up pitching in 4 different decades. Longevity is interesting, but it doesn’t make you one of the all-time greats, unless your list is very long.