What's All This Then?

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

I haven’t had much time available to spend at the computer so far this week, so I’m going to cover a few disparate items during this session. First a word to Republican friends, acquaintances, readers of this blog and relatives who send me e-mails about various things - and yes, both my wife and I have Republican family members. As you might surmise from my opening line, I barely have time to sit and write my own views and opinions. I certainly don’t have the time to read right wing views that you may send me or click on the endless links to endless nonsense about Barack Obama, so please don’t waste your time finding these things and sending them to me. A good many have been about how Democrats are responsible for the sub-prime debacle and the subsequent world’s financial meltdown and I was tempted to take a moment to comment of that accusation until I read Clarence Page’s column in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune - and he says it well enough to cover much of what I might say - so click away if you feel inclined. He didn’t mention the 60 trillion or so dollars of credit default swaps that are floating around out there and in an ironic semantic twist are defaulting all over the place and that surely must have been invented by Democrats to bring down the financial underpinnings of our nation to accomplish their nefarious secret agenda - but a good column nonetheless. Way to go Clarence.

I watched the so called debate the other night. I call it "so called" because it was nothing like a real debate. If you want see what real political debate looks like and if you have a cable or satellite TV connection, tune in Question Time in the House some time - that the British House of Commons - and watch Gordon Brown and David Cameron go at each other. It’s usually on one topic at a time interspersed with questions from back benchers - but the back and forth rhetoric between the two party leaders is articulate, understandable and directly to the point. They don’t need anyone timing them. They take no more than a minute or so at a time to make a point or to rebut their opponent. On Tuesday night at Belmont University, audience members asked questions and got less of direct answers than rehashes of previously held positions. Here’s just one example that had me yelling at the screen - "answer the question!!" And here’s the question, posed first to Obama:
Senator, selling health care coverage in America as the marketable commodity has become a very profitable industry. Do you believe health care should be treated as a commodity?
Obama answered by talking about the importance of the health care issue and about his plan to hold down costs and then we had McCain talking about the difference between his health plan and Obama’s and then Obama rebutting McCain - and nowhere did anyone attempt to answer the lady’s question. How I wished for a moment for a Dennis Kucinich to be on that stage. He might have talked about his ideas for health care but for sure he would have started out by answering the question posed and said absolutely health care should not be bought and sold like a commodity.

Other than the non-answering of questions, the event provided no real insights other than a disturbing look into the mind of John McCain. In his first debate with Obama he wouldn’t look at him and made no secret of his utter disdain for the junior senator from Illinois. At least he never called him boy - but he came pretty close Tuesday night. Senator - unless I receive incontrovertible proof that the man we believe to be Barack Obama is in fact a doppleganger from another planet - or worse - an Islamic terrorist surgically reconstructed to resemble your Democratic opponent, I fully intend to vote for him. I am reasonably sure that the way he is addressed by most of his fellow senators - perhaps 98 of them - will be the way his name will appear on the ballot and not as you referred to him, finger gleefully pointing and grin in full face - "That One!!"

I’ve come to the conclusion that these so called debates are a waste of time. At this stage of the election, most people know who they’re going to vote for. If there are still "undecided" voters, surely their decision will not be made by something one or the other candidate says in one of these appearances. There are enough clips of the two of them giving their stump speeches - and you can find just about everything there that you will hear the say in their "debates." But of course there may be people who will be influenced to vote one way or another by something one of the candidates says at one of these meetings. They were described by John Oliver on last night’s Daily Show - The Stupids. Well worth a look.

I almost classify the wastefulness of presidential debates with the wastefulness of many - not all but a great many congressional hearings. Calling in executives from failed financial companies who have taken home millions in salary and bonuses to berate them accomplishes absolutely nothing - unless the idea is to act as surrogates for all of our anger and frustration. But in the end it leaves us even more frustrated. Unless there is a possibility that these people have broken laws - legal as opposed to moral, which of course they have violated - there is no point to our elected officials wasting time that could be more valuably spent trying to figure how we can enact laws to prevent the disaster we are now experiencing without being overly intrusive in our lives and businesses.

On the same subject, it’s interesting to note how much of the rest of the world is following our financial meltdown - interesting because of how clearly it demonstrates how much the countries of the world are interconnected and interdependent. It’s interesting because Barack Obama has consistently said that we need other countries with us to solve the world’s problems and to have them with us, we must have their respect and trust- as opposed to so many on the right who blather that they don’t give a damn what other countries think about the United States of America. I didn’t hear the debate between Dennis Prager and Stephanie Miller that took place after the other debate on Tuesday - but I did hear about Prager’s comment that he only wanted his family to love him when discussing the question of our relationships with other countries. You can’t see much with your head buried in the sand. Unless of course your eyes are located in your ass.

On a totally different subject, the more I hear about and see clips of Bill Maher's RELIGUOUS - the more I look forward to seeing it. I don’t know if some of the things Maher has been saying in interviews about religious beliefs and politicians are in the movie - but I hope they are We all know that no candidate can be elected President of the United States without professing - not just a belief in a deity - but a profound faith in the dictates of a religion - and of course in this country that religion is Christianity. Maher hopes that in private moments, candidates don’t believe for a moment what they are compelled to say in public. Another way of saying what Jeremiah Wright said at the National Press Club after he had been condemned by Obama for his intemperate statements - "I do what pastors do - he does what politicians do." Well, when it comes to religion, I hope so. I hope that what we hear politicians say about religion is what they feel they have to say and not what they truly believe. Maher doesn’t say that he doesn’t believe in God - or some kind of deity. Just that he believes organized religions are nonsensical, a belief with which I heartily agree.

I’ll finish today with a comment on how disturbing this presidential campaign has become. Both sides have said inaccurate things in their television and radio ads and in stump speeches. Some have been outright lies - made up out of whole cloth. You can go to a neutral site like Fact Check to see who is the worst offender. But what disturbs me most is the increasing ugliness of the McCain campaign. I know that he is behind in the polls and that that kind of problem frequently dictates political strategy - and that strategy is often a strategy of personal attack on your opponent. But when you have someone like Sarah Palin giving a stump speech in which she implies that Obama is something less than a true American because he "pals around with terrorists" - and people in the audience yell "terrorist" and "kill him" and Governor Palin just smiles and doesn’t condemn that kind of response and neither does Senator McCain, you have to wonder what we have become as a nation. On the PBS News Hour last night, Jim Lehrer spoke with journalists from three battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - and they spoke of voters they had interviewed who had said quite openly that they wouldn’t vote for a black man, Let’s hope that the percentage of people who feel that way is small. This is a watershed moment in American history. We have an opportunity to prove to ourselves and to the world that we have matured and shed one of the great evils of our past by electing Barack Obama. Let’s hope the polls hold true up to November 4 and that the vote will be strong enough to overcome the efforts to steal the election that are already in full force.

One last thing about "palling around with terrorists." We have two distinguished universities in the Chicago area. The University of Chicago where retired professor Yoichiro Nambu just won a Nobel Prize - and Northwestern University where the Wildcats are 5 and 0 going into this Saturday’s game against Michigan State. Over at the U of C, we have that terrorist of the sixties who sat on a charity board of which Barack Obama was also a member - and in whose house Illinois State Senator Alice Palmer introduced the man who was running for the seat that she was resigning to members of the local community. That’s Bill Ayers - currently holding the title and position of "distinguished professor" - and the name that is a central focus of Sarah Palin’s stumps speech and frequently mentioned by Senator McCain whenever he thinks he can get away with it. And at the NWU, we have Bernadine Dorn - along with Ayers - a former member of the sixties Weather Underground group, holding the title of Associate Professor of Law.

I don’t know the total number of faculty, staff and students on campus at these two seats of learning, but surely they constitute a small army of potentially dangerous people who, if not terrorists themselves, are certainly - according to the theory being advanced on a daily basis by the lady who would be vice president of the United States - palling around with known domestic terrorists. Someone should alert the FBI or the CIA or the Chicago and Evanston police chiefs. Just think - without the watchful pair on this year’s Republican ticket, this sort of thing might have gone unnoticed for years - but now we have an opportunity to nip it in the bud.

Terrorists!!! Kill them!! (Some of then might even be black).