Thursday, September 20, 2007

Some Thoughts on the American Crisis

First, let me say that the American Crisis has two parts. The first part is a leadership crisis that can be traced largely to the Republican Party and its habit of talking tough while obstructing any reasonable proposal to deal with a long list of problems; no one excels at this form of failed leadership more than George W. Bush. But the Republicans are not the only part of the leadership crisis. Democrats have not led as well as they might have over the last eight years though many Democrats can deal very effectively with various problems if given the chance; part of the problem with Democrats is that the party is slowed down by elements who pay more attention to polls than to leading. Many Democrats have also been somewhat paralyzed by the Republican Noise Machine that is heavily financed by right-wing elements. The other leadership problem in the United States is a media that lives for the next quarterly report and no longer acts as a balance against the political nonsense that will always come out of Washington or any other national capital.

Leadership is one side of the American crisis and it overwhelmingly affects the other part of the crisis we are facing. First of all, the American Crisis (yes, it's time for caps) is also, in many respects, the World Crisis. We are facing a rather daunting list of growing problems that are largely going unaddressed. And that itself is a major component of the crisis. Global warming, pollution, overpopulation, food resource issues, water shortages and a very serious and growing energy problem are just a few of the issues that are far from getting the attention necessary in Washington. And these problems are certainly not getting the attention from American businesses that they should despite the somewhat irrational belief that free enterprise can, all by itself, deal with these issues. If the media is more concerned with its quarterly reports, most American corporations are no better. I see signs of some business people beginning to think more seriously about a range of issues but we have to judge these things by action and not by words. Words have been used too often by politicians and business people to put off actually doing something.

The dog and pony show put on by President Bush to postpone once again any serious decisions regarding Iraq was embarrassing. It was words designed to change the subject, avoid realistic decision making and wave the flag as a way of avoiding responsible action. Americans are becoming less susceptible to this kind of nonsense and yet Bush's numbers went up a notch or two. Of course, a week after the nonsense, we see a headline like this that completely gives the lie to Bush's phony optimism:
US officials were barred on Wednesday from travelling by land outside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone amid fears of attacks after the alleged killing of civilians by private security firm Blackwater.

The suspension came as Washington grappled with ways to curb the damage from Sunday's clash in which Blackwater guards escorting US embassy officials opened fire in a Baghdad neighbourhood, killing 10 people and wounding 13.

Blackwater denies any wrongdoing but a top Iraqi judge has said the US firm, one of the largest private security operators in Iraq, could face trial.

The president and his Republican friends in Congress are still unable to answer two straightforward questions: what are we doing in Iraq and what realistic, doable goal are we trying to accomplish? A majority of the country still awaits an answer.

In spirit, at least much of the time, I favor some of the things that Moveon.org has been doing over the last seven years. But playing the Republican game of overly cute snark doesn't get our country focused on any particular element of the many problems we are facing, the fiasco in Iraq simply being just one of those problems. The ad on Petraeus ignored the fundamental problem of Iraq: the problem is Bush. This is Bush's war. If Moveon.org wanted to expand on that, the problem then is Bush and Cheney and their mutually reinforcing political philosophy that is at odds with what this nation stands for. Bush and Cheney have not only given us a war our nation did not need, but they have ignored a host of other problems largely by insisting the problems don't exist. A little further expansion on relevant criticism would include the obstructionist Republicans in the House and Senate who have chosen to ignore a majority of Americans demanding a change in course and some serious reform in Washington. General Petraeus is far down the list of issues that might be raised; he wasn't even a major figure until the last year. President Bush has the option of ignoring experienced generals and finding new generals who suit his purposes. Read that last sentence again because it's all one needs to know that the problem is Bush. Bush, of course, would like nothing more than to pin his problems on a general. I understand quite clearly the frustration felt by many progressives as the leadership of our nation continues to drift but it is important to stay focused.

The American Crisis is very much about an inability to come to grips with the issues of our times. If Moveon.org got carried away with its rhetoric, the Republican far right offers ten times the nonsense every day of the week. The actress, Sally Fields, is now the latest to suffer the slings and arrows of the Republican Smear Machine. Think Progress has the story:

Since actress Sally Field won an Emmy and spoke out against the Iraq war in her acceptance speech, the right wing has been on the attack. In addition to Fox censoring her speech, conservatives continue to criticize Field for speaking out.

Taking the slander to a very personal level, right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin attacked Field’s parenting skills with a column in the National Review entitled “Sally Field Does Not Speak For Me.”

Here's a case where right wingers are becoming caricatures of themselves. I started reading the post and burst out laughing. Republican right wingers are attacking "The Flying Nun!" They're smearing Gidget! They're trying to body tackle a slim five-foot woman! Suffice to say, much of our nation has gone stark raving mad.

Meanwhile the price of oil is $83 a barrel. Healthcare is a mess. Real wages are falling as fictitious numbers are posted on inflation. The president is deliberately kicking the can down the road on Iraq. Global warming is real and much of our nation refuses to acknowledge the reality of the problem. American innovation, while still leading the world, is actually slipping (see this month's Discover). Wheat prices are sky high. Corn prices too are going up as we gear up for an ethanol industry that is far from solving a host of problems. Mortgages, despite a significant rate drop, are going to continue to be a problem. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Various nations are increasingly making noise that suggests we're on the verge of a new arms race. And throughout the world, including inside our own country, American leadership is AWOL.

Until Republicans repair their party, I expect nothing from them. In the meantime, it's vital that the rest of the nation recognize that we have a crisis and a host of problems. We are in need of major changes and reform just like the changes and reforms that have moved our nation forward every twenty to fifty years since our founding. What I'm writing here are just quick notes and I hope to elaborate more on these thoughts over the next few months. My time is limited but there are two themes I offer to those with more time, particularly those who are bloggers. First, protect your credibility. Don't let Republicans drag you into exasperation and hyperbole. Second, focus on the essential problems that are mounting. There is profound pathology in our country right now and much of that pathology can be found in people avoiding the real problems facing us so that they can enjoy their illusions or make a few extra bucks. The Republican Party talks tough and then hides its head in the sand. One advantage to Republicans of the war in Iraq is that it's a convenient issue to talk about appeasement while appeasement on a host of much more serious problems defines much of the Republican Party's behavior these days. So stay focused on the bigger problems. They are coming. And they will bite. But there is much we can do, if we are willing.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

mullah cimoc say usa not the free press. for understand the brainwash technical of usa control media please to google:

mighty wurlitzer +cia

next to google: robert maxwell +mossad

8:59 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Look back over our history and it becomes clear we Americans have an ingrained habit of letting problems reach crisis proportions before responding. And often, it was clear for some time that a crisis was in the making.

The U.S. had experienced a century of boom-and-bust economic cycles, plus panics, bank failures and closures and other economic ills before Black Tuesday in 1929.

Political leaders of the 1920's were well aware that bubbles allowed to grow indefinitely always burst. That's as immutable a truth as that what goes up must come down. But did they do anything to prevent stock market bubble that triggered the Great Depression when it finally burst?

Those responsible for American foreign policy in the 1930's had to know Hitler's retaking of the Rhineland could've and should've been met with a decisive military. response. They could have spurred Britain and France to act, if necessary sending a force to lead the way. But they didn't.

Other examples abound.

Yes, Bush is one of the most extreme examples of a mindless, know-nothing excuse for leadership. But given what he puts forth when finally motivated to act, or goaded into acting, I prefer for him to do as little as possible in the time he has left.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Yehuda Draiman said...

The Survival of Humankind, and Improving the World, Society, and Yourself!

Yet who can the world trust to be idealistic and moral enough to help all of humanity and the environment, and at the same time, be practical enough to make extremely difficult decisions that can and will harm a great deal of people?

Humanitism is a philosophy for the continued survival and perpetuation of the human race. Humanitists (people who believe in humanitism) do not have the luxury of trying again after failing. Humanitists must be more vigilant than environmentalists, because we will not have a second chance at survival.

The survival of humanity is more important than the well being of our environment; however the environment is necessary for humanity to survive. That does not give the right for big businesses to continue doing whatever they want with only minimal or no consideration for the environment, so long as our surroundings support human life. We need to protect the environment for the continued survival and future well being of humanity. Keep in mind that without the human race, there would be no one and no need to protect the environment. Therefore, humanitism is more important than environmentalism.

It seems that in the past 50 years the human race has pursued the money train, that such desire for financial gain has caused society to ignore and abandon honesty, values, morality and candidness etc.

The race to financial gain has caused our leaders and the executives of the corporate world to disregard laws, ethics and the caring for each other and humanity as a whole. Deception, fraud and outright theft are their new motto all for the sake of financial gain, fame and success.

It seems that for the sake of success and profit people will step on anybody, family friends, co-workers and anyone who stands in their way or take advantage of anyone that could help them achieve what they want.

That is not to say that honest and compassionate people who care do not exist, where honesty and integrity is a way of life for them, but they are a very small minority.

As we begin the year 2008, we should all look at the past and decide with determination that everyone will from now on contribute to the betterment of humanity, society and mankind.

We should all learn to live with each other and respect each other for the sustainability of mankind.

Compiled by: Yehuda Draiman – 1/1/2007

PS
The human survival instinct prods us to outlast afflictions and, if circumstances permit, to reach old age. Nothing, of course, could be more quintessentially natural than aging.

4:50 AM  

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