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When John Boehner replaced Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker January 2011, the Republicans promised America a Shangri-La with never ending sunshine and the pleasant sound of birds singing. Instead what we received was a concerted team effort by his Republican cronies to discredit the President and push through anti-labor, anti-women, anti-poor, anti-student, pro-corporation, pro-elitist legislation. When those efforts stalled, the Republicans gridlocked Washington and for the first time in our nation's history threatened not to pay our national debt, which resulted in our global credit rating being downgraded.

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When the American public began to wake up, the Republicans utilized tactics from Joseph Goebbels Nazi propaganda playbook to attack the President and "his failed policies." not mentioning the historical fact that every situation they optioned to criticize was created by George W. Bush. The Republicans allege they want to reduce the deficit while drastically increasing it through tax breaks for the extremely wealthy. When the Democrats point this out, they have been called Socialists and more recently "Communists." These tactics have successfully worked in the past, but as of late they have lost some of their sting.

The Republicans claim they are for small government; but new legislation, not only in Washington but states controlled by Republicans, is obsessively concerned with what women can do with their reproductive systems. Of course, the men writing such restrictive legislation have never addressed the male reproductive system. What do female reproductive organs have to do with democratic government? This is a smoke screen to force fundamentalist "Christian" beliefs on the rest of us; but, whether or not this Stone Age legislation is actually Christian in nature can be debated.

As far as government not having a role in anything that affects corporate America (but everything relating to women), the recent Republican assault on students must carefully be scrutinized as well. I am a product of the old G.I. Bill. I received the vast majority of my university education with taxpayer dollars. During my working career, I taught secondary school in low-income, minority areas (one year my salary was under $12,000). Later I taught at the community college and university levels.

As a corrections officer, I established several inmate educational programs. During the political period of time in my life, I was an alternate delegate at the 1976 Democratic Convention in New York City. In California I held public office as a Republican, which is never remembered by my critics because they choose to selectively remember my time as an organizer for the Socialist Workers Party in San Francisco.

Unlike self-serving politicians, when I retired I did not receive an immediate and huge pension. Instead, my wife and I did years of unpaid volunteer service that concluded last year when I accepted a Fulbright educational assignment in Vietnam.

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Because I applaud public educational funds spent on veterans and now all students in school, I am appalled at the Republicans lack of insight regarding educating our nation's future leaders. The mere fact that they want more tax breaks for their political benefactors while at the same time attempt to balance the budget by drastically raising the interest rates on student loans is beyond insane.

The following countries -- not an all-inclusive list -- provide FREE COLLEGE education for their residents (some include foreign students as well). The United States will not follow suit because here the extremely wealthy are opposed to any form of taxation regardless of the benefits to the nation:

Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Argentina, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Barbados, Belgium, Croatia, Hungary, Kenya, Morocco, Malta, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Brunei, Turkey, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, Venezuela, Trinidad, Tobago

At the bottom end of the educational scale are the poor Baha'i students in countries like Egypt, who are oppressed by fundamentalist Islamic laws forbidding the religious minority to any form of education as well as securing employment and having property rights. Under their interpretation of Islamic law, Baha'i marriages were not recognized, placing married Baha'i women in the category of whore or prostitute and thereby subject to Islamic law.

Because of the so-called "Arab Spring," the situation for the Baha'i religious minority in Egypt has somewhat improved, but not in Iran where Baha'i students are forbidden to seek out private or foreign educational opportunities. Even today individuals providing educational services to the religious minority are imprisoned. Sadly, Iran has a detailed history of Baha'i persecution and executions; however, depriving this minority segment of all education is something new.

[dcA[/dc]s extreme and horrible as the Iranian situation is, if one looks close enough and substitutes "Islam" in that particular situation with "fundamentalist Christian" and "Islamic government" with "Republican, " I would be worried. As far out and ridiculous as this may sound, we must realize this is the road they would lead us down. Republican policies have already discounted and diminished minorities, the poor, labor, gays and other "undesirables," alleged socialists and other "anti-Americans," non-Christians, women, immigrants and people who do not "look like us," and now our students. How much more do we allow them to get away with?

jim rhodes

Jim Rhodes