Thursday, October 18, 2012

Politics, blecchh!

"Put your gold money where your love is baby, before you let that deal go down..."
Loser - Robert Hunter - Grateful Dead

Is there anybody out there who isn't totally disgusted with politics at this point? If so, please raise your hand. Please lord, let it be over.

I got in a scrap of trouble with a dear friend who thought that I was being a bit more pompous than usual and putting down Americans on my Spain blog.

"Robert, I travel a hell of a lot more than you do (she does) and the Russians are the worst this year."

"I thought it was the Israelis?" I said.

"Israelis, they were the bad seeds last year. But let me tell you, the Americans aren't all that bad." She proceeded to tell me a tale of her chastisement of a wayward Israeli for his transgression while in Asia. I think that what brought all this on was my blog tale of the Americans who threw a fit because they couldn't find a Subway restaurant in the sea of culinary excellence that is southern Spain. And some people didn't even speak english. Imagine?

Anyway I shouldn't bag on the United States. Our plumbing fixtures may not be as nice as they are in Europe and Japan and our roads are littered with horrible fast food advertising and trash but that's no reason to put us down. After all, we invented the frisbee and the Ford Mustang. amongst many other fine contributions to the world.

Like an idiot I left my longtime pocketknife in my jeans and had to do what is known in the business as a surrender at TSA when I took off for Phoenix on the first leg of our journey. Lost an old friend.

Church in the Valley - Leakey, Texas

Not to bag on Americans but I thought it rather odd how people caterwaul after the debates. Romney stuck it to him on this, Obama won that. We demonize the candidates and each other, in a country now split right down the middle.

The reality is that this is not about individual men, it is about as two starkly different visions for America. Many of my friends are Republican. They are very good people and fervently believe in their vision for America. They want the best for our country as do my Democratic friends. The devil, of course, is in the details.

We are voting to shape and figure out who we are and what we want to be, We need to talk less about personalities and more about issues. One merely needs to read the respective party platforms to see the stark differences. This is a big national conversation, deciding who we are, who we want to be and the limits to our responsibility towards each other.

The Republicans want lower taxes, more energy self sufficiency and less regulation.  Drill. baby, drill. Rein in the EPA, page 19. Privatize federal land, page 18. Screw labor, smite the heathens, screw the attorneys. Privatize Medicare and Social Security. Respect life, reduce entitlements, you know the drill. Vouchers, freedom of religion, deny climate change. Here is a snippet from the first page of the platform:

"Every voter will be asked to choose
between the chronic high unemployment and the
unsustainable debt produced by a big government
entitlement society, or a positive, optimistic view of
an opportunity society, where any American who
works hard, dreams big and follows the rules can
achieve anything he or she wants."

The last chapter is titled American Exceptionalism. This is the first paragraph:

"We are the party of peace through strength. Professing
American exceptionalism—the conviction that
our country holds a unique place and role in human
history—we proudly associate ourselves with those
Americans of all political stripes who, more than three
decades ago in a world as dangerous as today’s, came
together to advance the cause of freedom."

I think that it is reasonable to assert that many Republicans are successful people who are happy with their lot, which has been achieved through their own hard work and are afraid of anything that will jeopardize the status quo and smack of redistribution. The game is called sink or swim and you better win. Serious penalty for losing but it ain't our problem.

My friends on the right are untroubled by the social lilt of their party to the right and even if they do have some fear of a radical right social agenda, it is trumped by the need to hold on to their wealth. Perfectly understandable. They tell me not to worry about the abortion thing or personhood amendments all that social stuff will never happen. I worry.  They tell me it's the economy, stupid. Which admittedly sucks.

The Democrats also have a platform. You can access it here

We Democrats offer America the opportunity to move our country forward by creating an economy built to last and built from the middle out. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party have a drastically different vision. They still believe the best way to grow the economy is from the top down – the same approach that benefited the wealthy few but crashed the economy and crushed the middle class.
Democrats see a young country continually made stronger by the greatest diversity of talent and ingenuity in the world, and a nation of people drawn to our shores from every corner of the globe. We believe America can succeed because the American people have never failed and there is nothing that together we cannot accomplish.

Same line of general bullshit as the Republicans, different ox getting gored. Responsibly ending the war, notice how this time they add a qualifier? First time up it was ending the war. Rebuilding the middle class. Protecting health care reform. Etc.

Here's an interesting paragraph:

Standing With Those Demanding Greater Freedom. As we continue to perfect our union here at home, setting an example for others to follow, we will also continue to champion universal rights abroad. We recognize that different cultures and traditions give life to these values in distinct ways, and each country will inevitably chart its own course. America will not impose any system of government on another country. But we also know that the sovereignty of nations cannot strangle the liberty of individuals. So as people around the world yearn for greater freedom, we will continue to support progress toward more accountable, democratic governance and the exercise of universal rights. We will do so through a variety of means: by speaking out for universal rights, bolstering fragile democracies and civil society, and supporting the dignity that comes with development. 
Across the Middle East and North Africa, we have stood with the people demanding political change and seeking their rights during the Arab Spring. Since the beginning of the protests in Tunisia, the United States has consistently opposed violence against innocent civilians, supported a set of universal rights for the people of the region, and supported processes of political and economic reform. 

Obama and co. are all in with the Arab Spring. Now when those weapons that get supplied to the anti Assad rebels get passed in to the hands of Al Qaeda jihadis, or the democratic movement gets co-opted by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, we have ourselves a major problem, mission control. And it's happening as we speak.

The Obama Administration is all in with its Israel neutral, we are going to make ourselves a lot of new friends in the region stance, which is so fundamentally different than its predecessors.  I predict that all of this political, resource and blood capital will be found to be a total waste, as it seems to be in Iraq and every other middle eastern country that we have tried to fix. We will see.

I disagree with this president and my democratic party on many other issues but just could not pull the trigger for the other side. I can't blame the President for not fixing the disastrous economy he inherited fast enough. Economies and markets right themselves on their own time line. Maybe if Romney got elected he could get lucky and catch an uptick but so much is out of our hands right now. It is a global economy and China is slowing down. Don't think Obama is a marxist and never did. Obama promised a lot that turned out to be merely platitudes and colorful speech, can't get giddy about his prospects for re-election. Still like Gary Johnson.

I do think the other countries in the world are much more comfortable with Obama than Bush. Do we need another Bolton/Yoo/Cheney axis that believe that it is better to be feared and loved and work so hard to alienate the rest of humanity? Republicans constantly had everybody else pissed off.

I cringe at the thought of a full scale retreat back to fossil fuels. The magnitude of the drilling contemplated by Romney and his cronies and backers is inconceivable. Its always safe technology until the shit hits the fan which it always eventually does and then environmental degradation is the cost of doing business. And the drilling won't help our country more than a scoche, since oil and gas are globally traded commodities that can quickly leave our shores and be absorbed into the world market. Might make a lot of people real rich first, it is true.

Don't think we can get rid of the EPA, FDA or any other similar big government regulator that stands between me and the big corporations that consistently put profits before human beings. Will be interesting to see how the Monsanto case before the Supreme Court pans out. Perhaps their buddy Clarence Thomas will actually recuse himself.

Romney said the other day that people don't die in their apartments, they go to emergency rooms. Even though people do die in their apartments, the statement is still ridiculous because the emergency room system is not designed to be a front line care giver, they are already overburdened, it is expensive and the rest of us end up paying for the indigents through higher premiums. I don't think Romney can conceive of the plight of the poor because he is so far removed from it and always has been. That stuff just doesn't happen in his neighborhood.

And I don't see how cutting taxes on the very rich is going to help things much. They may create jobs, but they aren't in this country and it does us no good when they park their profits offshore.

There have been Personhood initiatives popping up all over the country, life begins at or before conception, eggs have the full rights of the born. Birth control is next and then maybe no sex outside of the government approved missionary position. Those folks that supposedly believe in limited government can't wait to get into your personal life and regulate your moral behavior, your sexual preference, your reproductive choices.  

We are in a real pickle and both choices have real positives and negatives. Which narrative and paradigm do we choose to believe, that the rich are plunderous robber barons or that the poor are spongey parasites trying to game the system.

And its not about how we feel about the candidates, it's how we feel about each other and our social contract. We are far from being on the same page as a people. And there is little accessible middle ground.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your last sentence sums up the problem nicely.