Thursday, October 2, 2008


I guess the real question is, can our system -- so brilliantly set forth by our founders -- handle problems as complex as the ones we now face? Clearly Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Washington, Franklin... understood the frailties of the human mind, else they'd not have seen the need for so many checks and balances in the government they created. Nor must they have had complete faith in the corrective power of the electorate, given the barriers to immediacy they established. Still, I'd guess they'd be appalled -- every last one of them -- at the spectacle we now witness, magnified by but in no way limited to the response of all the actors to the current economic crisis.

The Seventy-Sixers were about deliberation, suffused with knowledge of what came before and with thoughtful concern about what might follow. They were educated men, and while they weren't above a little yelling now and then, nor free from self-interest, in the end it seems they were able to find common paths forward. To me, it shows the value of fact-based thinking.

Far be it from me to turn this into some sort of screed about creationism, but I think it DOES matter when we elect leaders who simply reject data when it contradicts their preferred beliefs; and that applies whether it's about the age of the Earth, or about economics. Teach the controversy? Like this? Were I the sort, this might be a time to mention that, like George Bush, Sarah Palin -- our potential president -- believes dinosaurs shared the sidewalks with people. But why bother?

For a minute there, when oil was at $140 a barrel, it seemed people might be ready to be serious. What happened? "Drill here, drill now." Well, it is catchy. And easy. Fits right there on the bumper, next to the yellow ribbon. Crisis creates credulity.

For years, people have been warning about the effects of the housing bubble. From the right, of course, there was denial, in their preferred form: derision. So now it seems we're in full crisis mode. Surely people will leave personal politics, gotchas, party-first behind, right?

So I used to think.

We've been fed the politics of hate, of diversion, of lying. And, because it's so easy, we've bought it. We've elected and reƫlected people based on fear, on unwillingness to admit there are problems, on taking the easy way out. People who reinforce our prejudices rather than challenge them. Sarah Palin actually claimed the mantle of Joe Six-pack!! And people love it. They wave lipsticks and cheer themselves to tears. Have a beer! She's just like me! And me would be a great president!!!

In the past few days we've had to stomach the circus of politicians on both sides, posturing, claiming credit, placing blame, maneuvering for their political fortunes; sabotaging, backstabbing. Lying, ignoring. While our president flaps around helplessly, impotently. And while a candidate who supports every policy that got us here (or has until the lights came on, but still really does as long as you think he doesn't) looks still to have a damn good chance of being elected.

We can only blame the politicians for so much. We elected them. Happily. And now, while it's falling down all around us, we have a choice of, on the one hand, two people with coherence and intelligence and desire to enunciate problems in all their width and breadth, to listen to options, even give credit to the other side (which, according to the other side, is a BAD THING!!!) And the other two. One of whom brags about knowing nothing and proudly rejects science, and the other of whom, in this crisis, has been going off like the old ping-pong balls on mousetraps thingy. And millions of us love it, are in ecstasy over it, weep for the simplicity of it all. Slap on a magnet and wait for the rapture. God has a plan for us all.

Maybe it matters not for whom we vote any more. Neither our government nor the people who elect them have enough thoughtful folks among them to turn the tied. When the going gets tough, the tough are outnumbered. Ladies and gentlemen -- and I mean this in all sincerity, and only in the best and nicest possible way: we're fucked.


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  3. Seaspray: if she's playing "dumb like a fox" I'll give her credit for the best acting job since Cheney said the insurgency was in its "last throes" or when Bush said "the US does not torture." Or maybe the chiropracter who took over for Bela Lugosi in "Plan 9 from outer space."

    I predict she'll do everything she can to go on the attack (based on a few of Biden's tens of thousands of votes, and not on the record of the past 8 years), divert from her own vacuity, and fire off a few well-rehearsed zingers. The format, of course, is perfect for her. Short times allowing for memorization of that which has been written for her, no ability to go into depth, and no real questioning of answers. If she doesn't drool on the podium, she wins.

  4. LOL! Dr S! Give her some credit!

    They are actually saying that if she rehearses and isn't herself then she won't be as effective. She does best when she responds naturally.

    If she's a puppet... she loses...probably.

    And Biden has so much world experience.

    Forgive me but I'd rather see Biden running as President and Obama VP and Obama will still get his day in the sun. I just want him to have more experience. The Palin experience is only valid if McCain dies... which I know... that heartbeat thing.

    I know you don't like him... but... I caught this part of Rush's program where he asked his crew to name president Ford's VP and Jimmy Carter's VP. I couldn't think of them and it was the first election I voted in and I was an independent then.

    Dole and Mondale respectively.

    Guess his point was they go into obscurity..usually.

    What a bizarro election, exciting but unusual!

    I almost can't stand the exciting! :)

    Oh...and I predict a WIN for Palin as long as she...WEARS HER LIPSTICK!!! ;)

  5. We are fucked, Sid, well and truly fucked.

    I'm tellin' ya: it's time to join the revolution.

  6. She wasn't drooling! ;)

    She was great and I like hearing her directly instead of filtered and edited through the media.

    McCain's polls will be going up.

    I wonder why McCain doesn't bring up the fact he stated in a book a "couple of years ago" his concerns about Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac?

    Heard news people discuss it but republicans seem to be missing an opportunity there.

    I thought Biden was good too and actually enjoyed seeing them debating together.


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