Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why I'm Voting for Barak Obama

1. Barak Obama is a Black man in a White country.

Obama came from humble but diverse origins.  One advantage he had, that most African Americans don't, is that he grew up in Hawaii -- a multi-racial, pan-Asian/White culture where racial discrimination is not as prevalent as in the continental U.S.

But obviously, in order to become the Editor of the Harvard Law Review and a Senator from Illinois, Obama has had to both understand and to cope with American racism.  And while as a white American I cannot understand it, I see no bitterness but only optimism and clear and decisive pragmatism in Barak Obama.

2. John McCain is a Hater.

I know a hater when I see one.  I am a hater.  My father is a hater.  My grandparents were haters.  George W. Bush is a hater.  And Senator John McCain and the America he represents clearly exhibits a pathology of hate: race hatred, class hatred, religious hatred and political hatred -- hatred that has crippled political and economic progress in this country for decades if not centuries.

Haters cannot tolerate diversity.  Haters exhibit superiority complexes.  Haters seek revenge over justice.  Haters extol unbridled Capitalism, which in turn spawns class hatred on the part of its victims.  Worst of all, haters tend to start wars for no good reason. 

Mr. McCain was a POW in America's no good war against North Vietnam.  The Vietnam War, like the Iraq War, failed catastrophically and led the nation into recession.  During Vietnam, John McCain was a Navy pilot as American warplanes bombed Vietnamese and Cambodian civilians for more than a decade, killing two million Vietnamese -- one in ten Vietnamese people -- a literal Cold War Holocaust. 

Under Vietnamese captivity, Captain McCain was starved and tortured to the point of attempting suicide at least twice.  It's arguable these experiences have irreparably seared hatred and vengeance into John McCain's psyche. 

Thus, it is logical that John McCain will plunge America ever deeper into war -- into wars larger and more catastrophic than Vietnam and Iraq combined.  Only this is not 1944, and America doesn't have six hundred thousand boys to sacrifice on John McCain and George Bush's  "freedom"  altar.  In 2008, America is old, fat and stupid, but still gullible to John McCain's delusions regarding its military power. 

But hasn't the Iraq War already proved to this planet that America can no longer sustain, let alone win, an extended ground war against poor and desperate people -- the kind of war it would have to win to steal the oil from poor countries like Iraq, Sudan and Nigeria. 

When will America learn to stop attacking, stop sacrificing innocents for economic gain, resort only to defending its citizens by the rule of law, and most importantly, to negotiate with its rivals and its enemies?  This will never occur under Bush-McCain; never under delusions of greatness and empire; never under hatred.

Still, in the world view of people like John McCain, America holds one trump card:  Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Yes.  America can destroy the planet if it comes to that.

Thus, Mutually Assured Destruction is all that remains of America's military prowess.  And it's time to be realistic about the fact that MAD will never entitle the U.S. to a single drop of foreign oil -- no matter how much simple reality angers delusional haters like Bush, Cheney and McCain.

In short, when I look at John McCain, I see all of America's ridiculous delusions -- it's obvious inability to cope with basic economic and political reality for nearly forty years -- in one unhappy, pot-bellied, wrinkled, angry little man. 

And I simply don't see that when I look at Barak Obama.

3. Barak Obama is both well educated and intelligent.

At a time when such a view was both unpopular and misunderstood, Barak Obama openly criticized George Bush's catastrophic decision to wage war against Iraq.  Since then, as America has lost blood, treasure, prestige and security under a Bush-Cheney-McCain foreign policy putting aggression first, Obama's then prescient views have clearly been vindicated .

There can be no question that today, after eight years and more of retarded Republican energy policy and utterly failed international aggression, that America's wrong-headed Republican-led War On Terror has failed and today America is weaker and at greater economic and military risk than at virtually any time in its history.

4. Barak Obama is young enough to understand the needs of the future.

In November, Barak Obama will be 47 and John McCain will be 72.  Simply do the math. 

America doesn't need another President nodding off or drooling on himself through cabinet briefings with titles like "Bin Laden Determined to Attack U.S." 

Isn't eight years of drool, drivel and stuttering enough already? 

I certainly think so.

5. It's simply time for CHANGE in American politics.

I think there can be no question that that the politics of America today is that of failure and of status quo.  And while I could prattle on about the need for lobbying reform, campaign finance reform, against corporate soft fascist hegemony, et al, suffice it to say that from my vantage John McCain is a mirror on America's failures over forty years, while Barak Obama is a looking glass to America's possibilities;  To the possibility that America can somehow find a way to stop hating, stop killing and stop resisting essential social, economic and environmental change for the better. 

In short, it is time to go through the Obama looking glass.  Maybe things will improve.  Maybe they won't.  But I think we can mostly agree that at least four decades of Republican and Republican Lite politics has painted this country and this planet into a corner;  that our collective future must somehow be different than our past; or that we are simply doomed -- because America cannot kill or print its way out of this mess.

Friday, May 16, 2008

GOP Legacy

I believe that history will mark George Walker Bush as  the "Marie Antoinette of the 21st Century."

Bush is proof that Milton Friedman's "free market" gospel, leading to Reagan/Bush "trickle down" economics, was at least partly designed to sustain wealthy, dynastic families -- even through their developmentally stunted children.

Marx described Capitalism as "the primitive accumulation of capital."  Yet for much of my own life I believed the advertisements -- that Capitalism was, at least, a meritocracy.

But the Presidency of George Walker Bush is proof that Marx was mostly right, Friedman was mostly wrong and Reagan was a fool, a liar or both.

In the final analysis, I have no fundamental argument with ambition.  But lying, cheating, stealing, torturing and murdering are quite another matter.  And today, in near perfect but antithetical symmetry with the Reagan Revolution begun in 1980, which I voted for, these immoral and inhuman acts stand as the modern legacy of George W. Bush and his political party.

As human beings, Americans now are morally obligated to work and to sacrifice to undo this legacy.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mothers' Day and This American Son...

First, on one hand, I’m really sorry about the way our conversation devolved this morning.  Especially considering that I really just wanted to call you, if for no other reason than out of societal (e.g. Mother’s Day TV commercials) obligation, to wish you a happy Mother’s day!

Second, and on the other hand, I guess I’m really not that sorry…

Mom (and Dad), you cared about and tried to help me my whole life!  And for that I will always owe you more than I can repay.  I guess the way most children reward their parents is by giving birth to another generation.  But then that goes to my point.  Because, you see, I find that I am just too much a thinking person to embrace the concept of human reproduction in the face of humanity's obvious inability to solve basic existential problems.  I find that I contemplate existence, perception and reality far more than most.  And as such, I cannot ever bring myself to perpetuate another “all too human” generation (“all too human” is a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche – who to me, and many other so-called “intellectuals,” is as Jesus is to Christians.  I studied Nietzsche in college.  And as such I can never see the world the default way -- a most seem to -- again.)

So what we have , I guess -- relationship-wise -- is two parents, only 18 and 21 years older than their child, but with dramatically different world views...

And, yes, I do harbor a veritable boat-load of resentment -- Resentment that I can’t seem to stop from having and clearly, if not always intelligibly, expressing , especially and unfortunately in front of those to whom I am closest.  Not because that’s ALL there is inside me – there is love and there is joy too – but because we trained intellectuals, analysts, designers, engineers -- we fixers and critics of all things rendered by human hands -- simply don’t work that way

Fixers don’t focus on what we have or with what is right or OK with it – our job is to focus on whatever problems still need fixing.  All else we largely take for granted – as it should be in any well-functioning computer system, in any fine running car, in any clean, sturdy and well equipped home or office, etc.  That is simply an engineer’s job – to fix what needs fixing, to right what is obviously wrong, and to largely ignore, or take for granted, the rest.

Thus, when you shared the anecdote about my cousin Michelle's daughter, Lea, needing a charity “benefit” – to pay her medical bills for brain-stem surgery…  Well, when I hear stories like that about the children of honest and hard working people in this country, a switch flips inside me.  A switch that says: that is just too WRONG!

  • Wrong -- that people should work their whole lives – only to be poor!  As Robert Reich, former Clinton (and I’m no Clinton fan, except by comparison) Secretary of Labor said, the economy should work for us, not the other way round.
  • Wrong -- that people in a country with extreme, almost vulgar wealth such as ours become sick then die simply because they lack the money to pay their medical bills.  After all, let's examine the case of one Dick Cheney – two heart attacks, one pacemaker, and counting…  Dick Cheney, who is worth hundreds of millions (former CEO of Halliburton Corp.) receives, basically free, the best, taxpayer subsidized health care in the world.  Simply put, if a 21 year old girl that needs a liver transplant (as I saw on PBS last night) is denied medical care by her insurance company (she had insurance) and then dies – then shouldn’t someone with Dick Cheney's medical problems be dead too?  We cannot call America a Democracy -- when such imbalance and injustice is the norm.  We just can’t.  And I and millions like me are finally, simply refusing to hold our tongues any longer!
  • Wrong – that 5% of the people on this planet control more than 50% of its wealth – and that the rest of us dutifully work for them – for their table scraps – quoting phrases like “... That’s just the way it is…  Always been that way… And always will be…”  I say the time for such surreal platitudes is past.  And either we ALL succeed or we all fail – together – as one human society – as one human race!
  • Wrong -- that Grandma Marty or Dad or me or my wife Mary should be held 100% accountable for every bit of anger and hatred that festers inside us -- when I struggled from age 17 to earn money (first as a paper boy, then a dish washer, then a stock boy, then a soldier, then an engineer);  When Dad worked -- starting at age 14 or 15 hoeing beets – and still works, because after more than 50 years of work, he is still afraid and anxious of what might happen – to his family – if he ever stops;  When my wife Mary started working at age 12 – to provide food for her single parent family.

What I am trying to say, Mom, is that you find it too easy to blame others for feeling economically exploited and angry – when I think that mostly what we really ask, as in the poignant scenes from Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, is that “some attention must be paid" for people such as this – for people forced by economic necessity to devote our lives to a system designed to exploit weakness then call that exploitation arbitrage.  Simply put, it's a relationship that, if my case or that of Miller's Willie Loman is any indication, many times ends in bitterness, alcoholism and possibly some form of insanity.

But some attention must be paid – and that is what I found myself demanding this morning – not to be told, as it seems you have so many times in my life, that the problem is my problem.  That all I need do is fix me or pray the rosary -- as if there is absolutely nothing wrong or simply nothing to be done to address the ever wider, ever deeper mean-streak running through this world -- that shaped and shapes me still.

How easy it must be to remain enlightened -- filled with joy and Christian Love -- when someone else's wages pay the mortgage?

Mom, I love you with all my heart.  But I suspect that you will never understand my worker-centric ideology and I will never find a way to meaningfully express real, working-class pain to you -- not mine, nor my father's, or his mother's or your father's.   But I pledge to keep trying and hope that you will at least continue listening.

Sincerely,

Todd

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

GENERATION LANDSLIDE!

When I picked up my celebratory Chinese takeout tonight -- God took control of my IPod -- and this is what God said...

And I laugh to myself at the men and the Ladies, who never conceived of us Billion Dollar Babies!

LA DA DA DA DA!!!!

So wake up Mrs. Status Quo!  And I'm really very sorry Mr. Old, Fat, Stupid and Greedy -- but the future is about to blow by you like a Tesla on the open road.  Only you won't hear it because it's electric.

WHOOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!