Do we have a democracy in the US, or a plutocracy? Or somewhere in between? Or something completely different? How much does money really influence American politics?

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I am happy to be in US. At the same time it would be pure ignorance or naivete to get encomiastic about American foreign policy. And at home we have national disgrace in treatment of native americans, slaves, Japanese americans during 2nd world war, racist restrictive immigration laws etc.

 

Any nation has dark moments in history, but you judge a nation by how much it has progressed. Sadly, the Iran of 2500+ years ago was an Iran much superior than today in all regards including human rights and the rights of people. Iran in turn, since 1979' especially, has de-evolutionized due to the illegal regime occupying it - in contrast, 40-years ago or so we had segregation, now we have a black President. Going to the "Native Americans, slaves" argument is quite fallacious. It is irrelevant to modern times. Our immigration laws are far from restrictive - in fact, they are not strict enough. Why is it that those who are in our country illegally receive such benefits such as welfare, reduced cost in tuition, etc? We treat our immigrants better than the vast majority of nations in the world - and this is ILLEGAL immigrants, not LEGAL immigrants in which we should offer opportunities and hope. In fact, ILLEGAL immigrants often times receive better benefits than those who are in this country legally. It is quite sad in fact...

I am late to class but I will respond to the other points raised in this thread later on today/tonight. Thanks. :)

Oh BTW, I think that assisting in the liberation of what is three nations now over the past 10-years is an honorable act and I look forward to this being extended to Syria and Iran in the very near future..

BTW, I like your choice of words. I learned a new word, "encomiastic" :)
I'm liking Stephen Fry more and more... on slave labour in USA prisons:

Those are those in prisons. In fact, is quite ignorant to compare it to slavery.
People forced to provide labour for no pay... that is a perfectly standard definition of slavery.
They volunteer. It is not forced.
Just one example: In 1994, the state of Oregon, by overwhelming majority passed a constitutional amendment that requires 100% of all state held inmates to work for pay during their incarceration. The Prison Enhancement Program has been on the move to increase prison labour. Prison labour is only paid in theory... in fact the "salary" is kept by the prison admin to cover whatever costs they see necessary. The "pay" part of the laws is not there to pay prisoners, but to ensure that true salaries in society aren't being undercut. And according to a majority of searches I've done up til now... prisoners to not have a choice in accepting work.
I have to research that but I will get back to you on that. That is not the rule of law in California and I am sure in nearly all the states as I would think that to be unconstitutional. I will research this and follow-up with you on it in the near future.

Your thoughts are quite arbitrary. You cannot divorce the present from the past. Do you judge a book by the last chapter? Do you judge a duplicitous friend by a recent kind gesture? Progress is part of the equation, yes. But to make it the sole criterion is unreasonable.

Speaking of Iran how did you like the US' role in 1953 overthrowing a democratically elected gov. Do you really think the US gives a crap about liberation? If we did why would we so consistently pursue our perceived national interest and fail to intercede on behalf of victims of genocide. And I am talking about recent failures. And what of the Opium Wars? I could keep going. Liberation is incidental, unintended, like a secondary or tertiary effect of a drug.

As for the US immigration policy I studied it in detail in law school. I cant speak to recent times but I do know that our policy in the 19th century and turn of the 20th was informed by racial notions which determined quotas.

Some of your points are not without merit. But your viewpoint is unbalanced and tendentious.

"Speaking of Iran how did you like the US' role in 1953 overthrowing a democratically elected gov."?

That one fact completely destroys your entire argument, Sassan. Done and done! Thanks Glen.

Actually, the 1953 coup had very little U.S. involvement. The CIA involvement in the 1953 coup was disrupted as Mossadeq forces arrested those involved in the plot days before the plot was supposed to take place. In fact, the Mullahs were quite involved in the plot as they preferred the Shah than Mossadeq who had plenty of socialists supporters (Tudeh) who may have leaned towards the side of the Soviet Union. You should read this piece written by Ray Takeyh. And in addition, there was plenty of discontent in Iran as Mossadeq's policies had led to rises in oil prices and a stagnating economy as the oil fields were simply left dry. Mossadeq had started to become more authoritarian in practice as well. Again - things were not perfect and I don't defend the CIA plot, but it was really inconsequential in the grand scheme of the event.

Again, you can play this game on "who had a more evil history" but it is the year 2011 and you must judge a nation by how much it has progressed and advanced. History is simply that - history. It is important to learn so that one does not make the same mistakes or repeat history - but to make judgements on events such as slavery or the Native Americans that happened hundreds of years ago is truly irrelevant to modern-times.

Absolutely we care about liberation. Free and democratic societies don't fight wars with other free and democratic societies or resort to the sponsor of terrorist groups. It benefits all sides in the equation. We no doubt made mistakes in the past, in particular when we were paranoid of the Soviet threat and had to decide on alliances hastily; but we are in a different era now, not one of colonialism and slavery.

And irregardless if it is incidental or not - it benefits all sides involved. I will repeat: you judge a nation by how much it has advanced: we stand against those who violate human rights and I am proud of our country and our troops in the last 10-years. We did not abandon Afghanistan like we did after the Soviet war - this is a case where in fact, we have learned from history (I told you history is important). But again, just look at the advancement of western society compared to the de-evolution of Islamic societies. It is striking and it is one led by secularism. The west has been a source of good for the world - no doubt there are dirty marks along the way - but without the west, where do you think the world would be today??

Your viewpoints are not without merit too - I thought about what you said and I respect your view - but I find your kind stuck in living in the past; as in particular, you bring up irrelevant issues such as slavery and how we "treated Native Americans". You don't think that the "Mexicans of today" who complain about their "sovereign rights" to New Mexico, Texas, and California had ancestors who had slaves or committed genocide against the Native Americans who had inhabited their lands?? The brute of the attacks always comes down on the "evil America" as an extension of the "evil west".

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