Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In All Seriousness

I'll talk about the Back to School vest first, so those who don't want to read my political blather can skip over it :) Here's a picture of what I've got so far:

And a more close-up shot:

Jr. Jr. woke up vomiting Monday night, so he stayed home from school yesterday. Of course, he went right back to sleep, while Mr. T and I cleaned up and tossed and turned. Then, continuing the of courses, he was fine all day Tuesday, with no fever and no more vomiting. At least it was quick! So this is all I've managed to get done so far.

In All Seriousness

Today's Washington Post had an article describing an intelligence forecast being prepared for the next President by Thomas Fingar, "the U.S. intelligence community's top analyst." This forecast is being presented not just to the current President, but to both of the candidates, as well. The forecast states that the United States is entering a period of "reduced dominance" in world affairs, as the world is "reshaped by globalization, battered by climate change, and destabilized by regional upheavals over shortages of food, water, and energy." Our military might will become increasingly unimportant as attacks against us will not be undertaken with conventional forces. The U.S.'s dominance is decreasing in all areas -- political, cultural, and economic. While the Bush Adminstration spent years denying the existence of global warming, the intelligence community for once lived up to its name and accepted it as a given when conducting its analysis. I won't restate what's in the article because I've provided a link.

The article is fascinating and frightening, but not (to many of us) surprising. Our economy is tanking and the government keeps racking up the debt, which means that other countries have great control over what can happen in our economy (see, e.g., China). As we've lost our political moral high ground (Iraq, torture, Kyoto), we've lost the ability to be a force for change in the world. Other countries have recognized where we're wrong and either refused to follow along, or have gone ahead and acted without us.

Why am I writing about this? Because this kind of analysis highlights the incredible importance of the upcoming election. We live in a changing world and we must adapt, find a new way to lead. We need a President who can think. We need a President who will act with forethought, with long-term interests at heart, with understanding of how what we do affects the entire world. We need a President who, goddammit, is an intellectual. Cowboy diplomacy isn't going to cut it in our emerging world. If we keep doing what we're doing, we will become wholly irrelevant and increasingly isolated.

We need to reclaim those values which made us a world leader in the first place -- and I don't mean military might. I mean the values of freedom: equality, justice, self-determination, and innovation. The challenges we face will not be solved with sound bites and partisan rhetoric.

This election is not about whether the candidate is black or white, male or female. It is not even really about change versus experience, because the world IS changing, and we don't have any experience with where it might be going. This election is about ushering us into the 21st century in a way that meets our needs and recognizes that the rest of the world has needs as well, and in a way that recognizes that we have a responsibility to each other and to our planet.

There are many people out there who look at elections based on one or two issues. Is this candidate going to support or oppose abortion rights? Will my taxes go up or down? What will become of Social Security? I understand that people feel strongly about those issues, and there's nothing wrong with that. But I think this election needs to be about something broader, not what the election will do for you, personally, but what the election will do for all of us, and our place in the world.

I strongly feel that John McCain, and especially Sarah Palin, are NOT the people who can best deal with these issues and circumstances. McCain has proven himself over the last 8 years to be as ideologically driven and rash as the man he seeks to replace. For him, as for Bush, the world is divided into simplistic dualities of "good" and "bad," "with us" and "against us." McCain falls clearly into that post-Cold War mentality which felt the U.S., as the victor in the "fight" against communism, should be the sole superpower. I've seen him compromise what he claimed were his principals in service to his political ambition too often over the last eight years to even imagine that he will suddenly reclaim those principals. I've watched him cling more and more to that old way of doing things, against all evidence.

But most importantly, his choice of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate shows that McCain is either completely ignorant of this new reality we face, or he doesn't care at all, simply seeking political gain. Aside from having no relevant experience, Palin has no intellectual heft whatsoever. She would be in over her head completely if something were to happen to McCain (and let's face it, he's 72 with a history of cancer). She sticks to strict partisan sound bites and ideas, with no apparent intellectual curiousity, as far as we can tell, since she's under a press blackout. I suspect she knows next to nothing about foreign affairs which is, after all, a basic requirement for the job she's seeking. It's also indicative of a narrowmindedness that we've already seen her exhibit.

The Republicans are running their campaign on slander and innuendo, creating straw men and manufacturing "controversies" to distract voters from paying attention to what this election should really be about. Any attempts to question Palin's qualifications have them yelling "sexism!" when they would have been the first ones to have accused Hillary Clinton of whining if she or her campaign had complained about it. Suddenly it's sexist to call McCain's new campaign theme of "change" "lipstick on a pig," when McCain himself used that very same term to describe Clinton's health care plan. Was it sexist then, too? His campaign is very effective at staging these little controversies that eat up air time on the news channels, which OUGHT to have more important things to cover. It's really sad when the mainstream media is so cowed that it can't stand up and call bullshit when it sees it. This whole cycle reminds me of the old cartoons in which someone (McCain) shoots at his victim's (the press) feet, laughing and syaing, "Dance! Dance for me!" (See also, Olbermann, removal from political coverage of.) It's really sad that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are the only ones left who fulfill that role, even though they do it so beautifully. (Someone, somewhere, pointed out that a lot of the problem here is the concentration of ownership in the media, which means that basically three wealthy corporations control most of the news Americans receive. This is a very important issue, and I'm sure our resident communications expert, Mr. T, has opinions on this as well.)

I'm tired of this cynical little dance. I hope that our discourse matures significantly before Election Day.

On a lighter note, I leave you with a link to Palin-dromes.

1 comment:

kippi said...

Wow, looks like someone other than Liam needed to vomit. Easier to clean up words though, don't you think? Do you feel better now? :-)

You make some very prudent points, not the least of which is the media being a corporate giant wielding a very large stick. I quit watching all of it as it was nauseating. My favorite website at the moment is That one helps me sift through the bull.

I am looking forward to the debates but definitely NOT the debates after the debates. HATE those. I will hear with my ears and then make my decisions.

On a prettier note...your back to school vest is lovely. Which photo shows the yarn color better? This is a pullover vest? Be honest, how long did it take you to knit all those cables?