Friday, October 17, 2008

News of the World

"Each morning our key to the world comes through the door
More than often its just a comic, not much more
Don't take it too serious - not many do
Read between the lines and you'll find the truth"
-- “News of the World”, Bruce Foxton, The Jam

Not long ago, I wrote that I’m voting for Barack Obama. I stand by that vote, and after nearing the end of his book “Audacity of Hope”, I feel my choice is a good one. Now an eloquent and well-reasoned book about politics doesn’t mean the author will make a good president, but it is at least comforting to know your candidate is capable of explaining his positions on everything from the economy, to race, to foreign policy. I say that, because many of our recent political leaders, seem unable to even recite a cliché, without botching it up.

So, I am willing to give Barack Obama a shot, and I feel more comfortable with that decision after having read his book, which explains in detail his general philosophy about politics and leadership.

However, I also stated a few weeks ago, that I am apathetic about democracy in the US right now, and I also argued that despite my vote, I think Barack Obama will lose.

These seem like ludicrous positions now, given how weird and entertaining the campaign has turned of late, and extremely implausible given the polls show Obama has a significant lead.

However, I still stand by what I wrote.

I am still apathetic about the process, because the campaign is even more farcical now than it was just a month ago. The Ayers and ACORN “conspiracy” theories of the right-wing are laughable, the kind of “we never landed on the moon” ranting you hear from that schizophrenic low-life at the end of the bar.

The left however, simply can’t stop demonizing Sarah Palin and now of course they’ve focused their venom on the so-called “Joe the Plumber”. The left have talked more about the trivial details of these two people, than they have about the current economic crisis. Most disturbing the liberal blogs are ignoring how complacent, weak and ineffective the House of Representatives acted during the recent “bailout package”. Nor are they angry at all at their own party, for the shameful pork-barrel that was added to a bill, to provide welfare to companies that managed their debts irresponsibly. What we get instead is this weird self-righteous rhetoric because it turns our “Joe the Plumber” doesn’t have a license, and Sarah Palin lied about her experience hunting caribou, like this somehow justifies the shameful performance of congress.

This really goes to the core of my apathy. There simply doesn’t seem to be an outlet, for reasonable, non-partisan discussion about critical issues that affect me and the future of my children. Indeed, people assume that because I’m casting my vote for Barack Obama, that I must now forgive Democrats of all sin and “join the team”. My apologies, but Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Franks, Charlie Rangel and others have a lot to answer for, and I won’t give them a free pass simply because they play for the same “team” as my presidential candidate.

The blogosphere of course, makes the situation worse, and yes I do recognize the irony of whining about blogs, on a blog. Still, I took the time last night to click every blog link on the Andrew Sullivan page. There, I was taken a whirlwind trip of the partisan blogosphere. My favorite and most illustrative lunacy of these blogs can be categorized by these two points of view:

RIGHT: It is ridiculous that the liberal-press has vetted “Joe the Plumber” more than they have investigated the secrets of Barack Obama’s life and ties to domestic terrorists.

LEFT: It is ridiculous that the press has vetted “Joe the Plumber” more than they have investigated the secrets of Sarah Palin’s life and her ties to secessionist parties and their attempt to acquire explosive substances.

What made both points of view so ludicrous was not just that they were a partisan mirror reflection of one another, but that the rest of these blogs that made these complaint, went on to spend at least 50% of their real estate talking even more about “Joe the Plumber”. This is akin to complaining about the “power of cheese” while munching on pizza.

Meanwhile, real news is ignored: Our governments around the world are injecting tax dollars into banking corporations, radically altering the foundation of the geo-economy; the Russians have assassinated yet another dissident, this time apparently via mercury poisoning and once again have rattled their sabers with direct threats to the Ukraine and Poland. Saudi Arabia continues to indoctrinate their student population that western democracy is “evil and unpure”, while we hand them billions of dollars because we are addicted to their oil. Dubai perpetuates slave labor, recruiting Indian laborers into an indentured servitude scam that is now the largest slave trade in the world. China continues to send money and political support to the atrocities in Darfur and Russia props up Mugabe, a dictator of equal moral proportion to Saddam Hussein. Iran has just acquired better nuclear technology, and is defying the United Nations with an almost laughable hubris. Domestically, we see a volatile marketplace, frozen credit at our banks, and foreclosures rising. We’ve seen the worst unemployment in decades, and an infrastructure in the worst shape in our country’s modern history. We are fighting two wars, neither of them progressing as well as we would like, and our veterans are returning to a health care system that fails to treat their wounds adequately. Yet, the number one headline on CNN is that Sarah Palin will “star” on a comedy show on Saturday night.

How can you not just shrug your shoulders and tune out the media noise? How am I supposed to be “energized” into activism, when a Bruce Spingsteen fund-raiser is considered “news”, when our country just recently sent bomb-dropping drones into Pakistan? Apathy doesn’t seem so utterly unreasonable when you stare at that reality.

I also said a few weeks ago that I think Obama will lose. It seems like a laughable assertion given the polls. Heck, even Christopher Hitchens and Chris Buckley have cast their lot in with Obama. Still, I predict here and now that Obama will lose, and I predict this because of the following reasons:

1) The “Bradley” Effect, which I feel is very real. You can knock off at least 6% of Barack’s support (more probably in a lot of Midwest and Southeast “swing” states). Also polls *always* skew left, and you can review polls before the 2000 and 2004 elections for proof of that.

2) The “October” surprise. Republicans are starting the momentum towards a huge “voter fraud” campaign, that will make the liberals whining about Florida in 2000 look like a tea and cupcake party. This “surprise” will include even more allegations that Obama is a terrorist, and will inject so much vitriol, partisanship and hatred into the campaign, that the outcome of the election will suffer as a result.

3) The hubris of the left, will reach such catastrophic levels, and the expectations for Obama’s victory are now so unrealistically high, that voter turnout for the left (a critical element to Obama’s success so far) will falter, and Obama will lose states that looked in the “bag” heading to voting day (states like Pennsylvania will stunningly support McCain I predict). Obama succeeded in the primaries, because he was in a razor tight race, and his well-organized “ground game” was superb at getting the vote out. Now that everyone thinks its over, that energy will dissipate, and the left, being the left, will simply be too lazy to vote (once again).

If you doubt the third point, I point to you that the leading story on Politico today was “what networks should do when Obama blows out McCain on election night”. The media, (even the liberal blogs) are already crowing about a blowout. This is a disaster for the Obama campaign, that require a sense of urgency in order to win. Their “change” platform falls flat, if everyone already is deceived into thinking he’s already won.

I hope I am wrong. Indeed, there is a part of me that suspects that I am wrong, but I refuse to raise my expectations, because the alternative is so depressing, that I almost feel it is better to resign to it now, and just accept the fact that the Neo-Conservative apparatus will find a way to preserve their executive power.

I will be voting though, you can count on that. I am not so apathetic as to not cast a ballot. Let’s hope that vote actually counts, and that we give a new kind of leader a chance, the stakes are high, the times are dire and we need to move in a new direction.

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