Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Surge Worked

The Russians are retaking the Caucasus. John McCain senses a chance to show his leadership, given to him by our vacationing (permanently) Commander-in-Chief. The Russians very appropriately waited for the most symbolic time to begin their surge into Georgia: the start of the world games. Very clever of them because they are racking up the gold. And to all those in the West who lecture to Russia about acting civilized, the Russians can point to their success last week and say, "Hey, the surge worked."

So here we are in 2008, at the end of the Bush years with our hands full in Iraq and Afghanistan and a resurgent military power in Moscow. And, as a bonus for playing the game, we get to wonder where bin Laden will strike next as well. Good going, Bush administration. John McCain will carry on where you leave off.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Modern Slavery

A dear friend expressed her hope that one day we Americans will live as free men under capitalism rather than as slaves under socialism. I find this to be a very peculiar meme, but it is a powerful one in this country, attaching itself, as memes do, wherever it finds welcome. That real slavery exists, slavery for labor and slavery for rape-oriented sex, and that it is common in the world even today, is something I think that she knows and deplores.

My friend has so many choices, so many perks for just being born in the United States. For her or for anyone in her position to complain that living under an active but benign public sector is akin to living in slavery just strikes me as wrong. It is an instance of how our chosen predispositions cause us to open and allow certain dogma to enter our minds and stick there. And I think that we do choose our predispositions and through them the meme parasites we allow to enter us and tag along.

When untold numbers of women, children and men are held under duress and forced to work or forced to open their legs for someone who purchased them for that purpose in a commercial exchange, it takes deep self-involvement to equate the pressures of living a middle class lifestyle in the United States with slavery. But that is a very American thing to do. We get frustrated easily in this country, especially the better off we are. It does not take much to make an American feel put upon. I know. I am one. I have felt the road rage.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Cynical, Not Racist

As a likely Obama voter, I would rather that the Senator had never made (much less repeated) the remark about how McCain's campaign would remind us that he, Obama, does not look like the other Presidents, the ones on our money. The statement was unnecessary because anybody can see that Obama is black and because it gives McCain and his surrogates another excuse to scream at the public through the pliable media, the right wing's favorite megaphone.

At the mercy of an AP reporter's integrity, Obama is quoted as saying that McCain is cynical, not racist. The Illinois Senator speaks well and softly and I can imagine him saying such a thing and believing it. I believe it, too. Still, this race is all about the black man who is the Democratic contender for the White House. And no matter the colossal price tag of our Iraq adventure, and no matter how distorted the system has become by the redistribution of income and power from the middle and working classes to the rich and already powerful, it will be upon the issue of race that the election will be decided. I hope that I will be proven wrong, but I think that I will not be. We are still in America, after all.

I happen to believe that Faulkner was right to assert that the past is not dead, that it is not even the past. For all that I would like to see an Obama victory, which I feel would be a watershed event in the country's social history, I can see inertia winning out. Inertia wins most of the time unless a strong enough force intervenes. Supposedly, a majority of Americans believe the country to be headed in the wrong direction; will that belief create a force that defeats inertia and channels our efforts more in the right direction?

The dissatisfaction that people express with current policies and their outcomes should be enough to drive change in those policies. After all, losing homes, jobs, insurance and overall security are painful. But McCain and his people plan to counter that pain with a stronger pain, one induced by the daily shouting of innuendos, lies and inanities at the public through their coopted instruments in the traditional mainstream media.

Note: for a sample of such a coopted instrument in the traditional mainstream media, see Morning Joe on MSNBC.