He’s not a Communist.  I get so sick and tired of hearing this bullshit.  I grew up in a Communist state.  In fact, my family and I were political refugees from Eastern Europe due to our opposition to Communism.  We know what Communism is like.  If Obama is trying to be a Communist, he’s a failure at it.

For one thing, big business is flourishing under his administration.  The stock market is going up and companies are making huge profits.  In Communist society, big business didn’t exist.  All industries were supposed to be owned by the working class–which, in reality, amounted to them being owned by the government.  Yeah, business and the government have gotten uncomfortably close, and people are upset that certain companies are getting perks and breaks from the government.  I don’t like that either, but that’s not Communism.  In Communism, businessmen and profiteers were enemies of the government, not its friends.  What we’ve got can be more accurately defined as crony capitalism.  And Obama isn’t even very good at being a progressive President, otherwise more of those profits and perks enjoyed by the wealthy elites would get shared with the rest of us.  They aren’t, and he doesn’t seem to be taking any kind of radical action to make it happen.

The Communist state also doesn’t accept any free expression of views that are opposed to its ideology, and quashes all dissent.  For all the talk of Obama being a dictator, if there’s anything we’ve had plenty of since he became President, it’s been loud criticism of his administration.  And calling it “criticism” is putting it mildly–how about vitriol, fuming hatred, extreme name calling (see “Obama’s a Communist”).  I haven’t seen any of the incessant hateful speech about the President getting censored–nor should it be.  The talking heads who spend the most time on the airwaves yelling about how oppressive the Obama “regime” is would be in jail or off the radio a long time ago if they lived under a truly oppressive regime.  But they have no idea what that’s actually like, and it’s their job to yell, not to think.

A lot of people bring up Obamacare or government health care as an example of the “Communism” in question.  But there are many countries like Germany or Holland or Sweden that have government health care and are not Communist at all.  They are a mix of capitalism with a welfare state.  I realize there are some for whom any political system which is not unrestrained capitalim is automatically bad, but one should at least try to make distinctions.  I can say from personal experience that the difference between living in Communist Eastern Europe and Western Europe was like night and day.

And that’s the point.  If you dislike Obama–for any reason–fine.  But it does you no good in presenting your argument if you do so using exaggerated and incorrect terms.  If anything, Obama is a President who attempts to implement moderate Republican policies like Romneycare, and does so in a bumbling way.  I realize that doesn’t quite have the zing of “Communist!” to it, but reality seldom gives us that exciting zing.

Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the details of my daily life–or the details of the latest political PR stunt–that I forget I’m fortunate enough to live in very interesting times.  Well, fortunate or cursed, I’m not sure which one.  What I do know is that this is not a peaceful era in our country’s history.  As Grumpy Cat might say, “Good.”

Say what you will about the Obama administration’s achievements, his has not been a boring presidency.  He has been a Messiah to some–as we’ve found out this week–and an Antichrist to others.  I have yet to meet someone with a neutral opinion of Obama.  And that in itself is a good sign–if you’re not hated by anyone, you’re doing something wrong.

The country is not a neutral mood, either.  The Tea Party is trying to organize a constitutional convention–a meeting of the states to protest the direction of this government and to propose amendments to the Constitution.  State legislatures in two-thirds of the states would have to vote for this convention to happen, so who knows if this is something that will ever get off the ground.  Still, conflict and secession are in the air, as they have been pretty much since January 2009.

I wonder how we’ll look back upon this time decades from now.  If health care reform turns out to be beneficial to Americans, will Obama be remembered as the heroic President who made it happen?  Will we erase all the controversy and name-calling, the way we’ve done with JFK, and be left only with pictures of the new Camelot, of the glamorous First Family?  Will progressives do to Obama what conservatives did to Ronald Reagan when they wiped away all the wrinkles of his presidency and turned him into their Messiah?  Or will we continue to remember this as a contentious time, perhaps as the first rumblings of a deeper split in this country, or–if the threatening noises from Russia and China are any indication–the prelude to another global war?

I will be the first to admit that I don’t have the answers to any of the above questions.  Whatever the case, I’m excited to be here to witness all this and to write about it, however inadequately.  Despite the Chinese curse, I never did want to live in bland times.

A while ago, I posted a blog saying that the Affordable Care Act is here, it is being implemented all around me, and that despite threats being made by Tea Partiers, it isn’t going anywhere.

And…yeah.  I’m happy to say that the sun rose this morning, Obamacare is still here (which is a win for me and my family), Obama is still President (with some new-found spine, it appears), the government is operating again, and we have not defaulted on our debt.

So can someone please explain to me what this was all about?  Most of the people I talk to in my daily life–people who work hard and are required to be responsible about their jobs–think that this was a massive waste of time.

Has our political world really merged so closely with the world of entertainment that these guys feel like they have to give us an exciting show every few weeks?  Let’s do it all again in January, I guess!

Seriously.  Because when the Republicans first started this shutdown mess, it was about defunding Obamacare.  Since that wasn’t going to happen, it then became about just delaying Obamacare.  Now it’s not about that anymore either, and most Republicans sound like they aren’t quite sure what it’s about, only that they want to get something out of it.

So before the economy collapses and everything goes to hell, let’s give the Republicans that pony they never got from their parents.  Or a plate of cookies.  A gold star.  One of those participation trophies that says you lost, but you still showed up to the game, so yay!  A kiss on the boo boo to make it better.  An apology from Obama’s election campaign team for being too smart?  More Benghazi hearings, this time with cheerleaders?  Another copy of the President’s birth certificate?

Is there a little holiday present we can give the Republicans to help end this insanity?  I can think of a lot of things, except for what they really want, which is to see the President impeached, tarred and feathered.  That ain’t happening, guys.  Take the pony instead.

As I sit here working away at my desk, I hear your voice shouting in my headphones.  “We need to stop Obamacare…we have to defund it…the American people must be defended…”

Psssst….hey you…health care reform is already here.  Our state exchange website is open, and in the next few days, I will be helping my parents to sign up on it.  My mother, who was previously turned down by insurance companies–not for any serious pre-existing conditions, mind you–only for a single visit to the doctor in her past–she will finally be able to get insurance.  So will my father, who recently found contract employment which does not offer health benefits.  At his age, it is difficult for him to find a job which isn’t contract or temporary.  Some of my friends who were uninsured will also be getting coverage.  If being able to breathe easier about their well-being means that I’m selling out to big government, I’m okay with that.

And here’s another thing–the medical insurance company I work for is already enrolling new members for our exchange plans.  My employers are doing what any normal business would do–competing for customers.  We are expecting tens of thousands of new members.  So what do you think is going to happen now?  Do you think that if you lie on the ground and kick your feet and scream, my company is going to turn around and drop all those people it just signed up?  Or do you think my bosses would prefer to see those premium payments come in?

And yes, this is why I’m still at my desk so late, listening to you.  I’ve been working long hours because of health care reform.  In the real world in which I reside, this law is a done deal.  But I can understand what you’re doing, you over there on the Congress floor.  Hey, I like a bit of good drama just as much as the next person.  And that’s all this is–drama.  Whether it’s being done for votes from your base, or prestige, or whatever else.  All that huffing and puffing of righteous anger is only for show.  And you know that as well as I do.

Part deux, in which Republicans continue to long for the advances of a strong, manly leader, so much so that they fall head over heels for an ex-KGB man.  Here I thought that they were supposed to be anti-Communist.  I should have known that they would always choose the Commie over the black guy in the White House.

I just wanted to take a moment to remind the conservatives who are waxing nostalgic over George W. Bush’s unwavering foreign policy (At least Bush went to the United Nations!  Wait…I thought conservatives hated the United Nations?) and who are expressing disdain over Obama’s perceived weakness–I would like to remind them that most of the world, including many Americans, is still recovering from the hangover caused by W’s “I’m the decider” leadership.  This is one of the things making the Syria situation so complicated.  When the British parliament voted against supporting American military involvement in the region, the fiery speeches given mostly came down to one question:  “Remember Iraq and Afghanistan?”  If anything, Obama was criticized for wanting to rush into action, not for uncertainty.  A survey of British voters shows that 59% of them are feeling cautious because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  And of course, surveys also show that the American public is very opposed to getting involved in Syria, deeply war-weary because of our two long military entanglements.  Not that it’s a bad thing if Americans have become a bit more skeptical about war.

The point is, it will take time for all of us to heal from W’s decisions…and in the meantime, the Republicans would like to see even more of the leadership style which got us in trouble in the first place.  I’m glad they’re not in charge of this situation, otherwise we might be fighting the entire world by now.  After all, anything less than that just wouldn’t be manly enough.

A few nights ago, I plopped into bed and turned on Coast to Coast AM.  I hadn’t listened to the show in years.  Back in college, I used to put myself to sleep every night with the UFO abduction stories, ghost hunter recordings and chupacabra sightings.  Sure, I knew that a lot of what I was listening to was complete bullshit, but it was oh so entertaining.  There was the guy who played speeches backwards to reveal what was in the speaker’s subconscious, and caught Bill Clinton saying “I love women!”  There were the alien-human hybrid babies, and supernatural indigo children.  I could turn the radio on and hear someone say “I’ve talked to the dwarves, but they don’t know if the fairies ever sleep.” 

So I got tired of the endless war and slaughter being reported on the BBC, and thought, I wonder what’s happening on Coast to Coast?

What’s happened is that the show I used to love is dead.  More accurately, it has turned into just another conservative talk show.

Sure, Art Bell had his own libertarian streak, and I didn’t always agree with him, but I don’t remember him ever leaning this heavily on politics.  The new host (at least the one I heard that night) and his callers pretty much engaged in an hour of the most tired, predictable kind of Obama bashing, even with a few Obamacare jabs thrown in.  Hey, they have the right to their opinion, but if I wanted to hear that sort of thing, there are about a gazillion other radio shows like that on the air.  To my amazement, the hour ended with words of high praise for John Hagee…and when I researched a little further, I discovered that religious right pastors have been regular guests on the show lately.

I realize that it’s only natural that the personality of the show changed when Art Bell left.  It’s just that I feel the way a conservative Rush Limbaugh fan would feel if they turned on the radio and discovered that Rush had now turned into a home improvement talker, and a crappy one at that.  The essence of the show is different.  Coast to Coast used to be an eerie nighttime journey into the paranormal.  It was a unique kind of programming, and it stood out.  Now, it sounds like everything else out there.

And so I tucked my tail between my legs and went crawling back for more depressing Egypt news from the BBC World Service.  Maybe I just need to find a good ambient music station for my nights…