Thursday, December 16, 2010

Does life exist outside of the United States?

At first reading the headline may seem like a stupid question but it turns out that it's rather profound.

And...I cannot take credit for it....comes from a "diarist" with the nom de plume of Renzo Gazolini. You can read his whole diary here:

I found it worthy of commenting on for two reasons. The first being that our debates on great public issues in the United States tend be based on geocentric, ego-centric ideas that do not look beyond the borders of continental United States. As a result what we know about what is going on in the rest of the world is shaped, crafted, molded, spun, colored and generally manipulated by those who have a clear interest in making us believe their version of the rest of the world in order to get us to buy their ideas in this country. I know that's a little vague so I'll give you a short example.

It is a widely held opinion that America is the best in the world at...well.. just about everything (U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A.!)There is a current screed going on about a national level politician who dared question the concept of American Exceptional ism. American Exceptional-ism is the concept that proclaims that Americans are inherently smarter, more moral, more ENTITLED, and obviously more WORTHY of all things the earth has to offer so the rules (in whatever endeavor we partake be it sports, international relations, human rights, warfare, etc) simply don't apply to us because we' re "exceptional". The sad truth however is that in very real terms, by objective standards of measurement, we're NOT #1 in a lot of important areas. In math and problem solving we rank 18th to the rest of the world and in reading we're down to 24th. It's not only in education. In health we're down to #17 compared to the rest of the industrialized world. And yet, we believe that our systems are still superior to every other nation on earth....because we're told over and over and over again that we are superior.

And just to make it a little more perverse...we're told that if other nations do outrank us on any of these matters it's because they are either a) forced/coerced/brainwashed by an evil dictatorship to perform to beat us; or, b) they live miserable/worthless/unhappy lives in exchange for it.

So the two options we are always given are:

1. We're #1 and the rest of the world doesn't exist. or
2. If they do exist, they do so on a plane of existence that is so deplorable we cannot even think about it.

The second reason I want to take the time to comment on the article is based on another assumption of Gasolini's and the ensuing remark of one of his commentors.

Gasolini thinks that we are inherently STUPID for believing that the rest of the world doesn't exist. He talks a great deal about the dumbing down of America (although not in those terms). But a commentor makes an interesting point. It's not that Americans are inherently stupid, it's that there are political interests in this country who profit by keeping us stupid.

Here's Fiona West's comment:

If they were stupid, that would be a stable trait, and the rich wouldn't have to do anything to maintain it. In fact, they create whole industries (think tanks, pr firms, polling firms) and invest millions of their cherished dollars in media, political spokespeople, the religous right, astro-turf movements with funny names, ad campaigns, bought pundits, and many other methods by which they cultivate, nurture, and assiduously protect that ignorance.

(my emphasis added)

So to that end, Fiona says:

But the level of "stupidity" currently on view in the US is like looking at a bombed out city. Hey, for crying out loud, they didn't BUILD it that way. You're not seeing the natural state of the city. There's a war on! The ruin you see is the result of deliberate attacks.

I think Fiona is right. There is a war on and the problem with some liberals/progressives is that they don't really believe that there is a war or, if they do believe it, don't fight the war with the same level of intensity that their conservative counterparts do.

Gasolini thinks the persons calling the shots for the conservative side of the war are probably nation-less oligarchs who have no loyalty to any particular country but only to profit. While this feeds my paranoia about the dangers of unbridled capitalism, it seems almost too fantastic to believe. But maybe......just maybe he's right. I'll reserve that conversation for my guilty pleasure moments..

Enjoy the Dairy link and think about this....maybe I'll write more after I digest the words for a while.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Goofing off...recreational thinking...

I think that's my favorite new term: Recreational Thinking. It is the luxury of thinking of something other than law school for a brief period of time. In this case, I'll write about my recent musings on national and state-level politics.

Let me set this up a little bit.

I've been observing the so-called "Tea Party" movement on TV and locally. I'm amazed. They've apparently been taking long, long drinks from the crazy fountain. They seem to be organized around a few elements: hatred of Obama, hatred of taxes, hatred of (insert your favorite prejudiced race here)_________, Truth, justice and the American way...(whatever the hell they think that is) and of course, the old standbys, GAYS (HATE), GUNS (LOVE) AND GOD...(only blonde-blue-eyed Jesus' please)

In other words, they are sort of a mixture of all the fringe elements of our society gathered in one spot to throw out anybody...Democrat or doesn't matter...who doesn't buy into their agenda.

And they've been slightly successful at it. I think at last count they have been successful in getting eight or nine of their candidates elected. They've adopted as their iconic leaders both Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin; the Crowned Prince and Princess of Crazy, anti-establishment, anti-intellectual, anti-damned-near-anything that-will-earn-them-a-fast-buck.

Democrats, under the brilliant leadership of Harry Reid, (cough, gag) are doing their usual roll up into a fetal position in the corner and suck on your thumb strategy and by doing so have allowed the crazies to run rampant through the country...and the blogosphere too.

But the unanticipated victim of this movement has been the Republican Party. You see, the Tea Party has made most (if not all) of their political inroads into the Republican Party. They have used the Primary season to replace REPUBLICANS, not Democrats and have upended several stalwarts of the mainstream Republican Party.

Now, it is possible, especially where there are open primaries, that Democrats have "crossed over" to vote in the Republican Primary to sort of hand-pick the crazy they want to run against. I know more than a few of my fellow Democrats (If, in fact I still am a Democrat) who did so with either a sense of remorse, ("I've never voted Republican before. I feel DIRTY!") or with a sense of mischief. ("I can't wait until X sinks his/her teeth into that looney!")

I'm pretty sure that this phenom showed up locally because the Republican votes out numbered the Democratic votes by a 2-1 margin. Republican operative friends of mine scoffed at those numbers and said they thought the Democrats were engaging in a conspiracy to sabatoge the vote. They probably were. But the funny thing was that while the "crazies" on the ballot got far more votes than they should have, most of the main-stream Republican candidates won, but not by as much as they should have. It was without cost that Democrats could cross over. There were few contested races on the Democratic side and all mainstream Democratic candidates were safe for the general election so "crossing over" was painless.

I think, as a lot of other Democrats do, that the crazies who managed to steal primaries from mainstream Republicans are going to hurt the Republican's chances of taking over the House and Senate in November. As a matter of fact, it will be AN ABSOLUTE DISASTER for the Republican Party is any or all of the nine or so candidates that upset mainstream Republicans get into office. They are going to be uncooperative with the leadership because they achieved victory without the help, consent, or endorsement of that leadership and they ran their campaigns AGAINST THAT VERY LEADERSHIP. It will be pure, unshirted, HELL for the Republican Party. It might even be the demise of the Republican Party as we know it.

And even worse for the nation.

Gridlock isn't even an adequate word for what will happen. Paralysis is a much better term.

There is only one hope for the Republican Party in November. The mainstream has to "CROSS OVER" and vote for Democrats. The worst-case scenario is that the balance of power will be exactly what it is today, or maybe tilted slightly more toward the Republicans but not a majority. The upside, is that they will kill off the Tea Party once and for all and can get back to business-as-usual in time to the 2012 Presidential elections. For the nation, the upside is that something may actually get done in D.C..

At this point I would solidly welcome a rational, thoughtful,moderate conservative party into the discourse.

Now....if the Democratic Party would just do what they (allegedly) do best...


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Law School

At my age, going to law school was a sign of pure insanity...or dementia, I'm not sure which. But it's working out okay. It is challenging but I "aced" my midterms and I'm doing quite well in live class and keeping right up with the "whiz kids" and "vunderkinder" in the socratic exercises. I think my mind is sharper than it would have been if I had not undertaken this endeavor. I'm about 2/3 of the way through my first year and I have three more to go.

Invited readers only

I forgot that I set the protection on this blog to "invited readers only". I may consider changing it back to a lesser security setting if I feel really brave. I'll have to think it over a little bit more.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm back...

There was a lot of grief over the last entry I made over a year ago. I spoke from my heart and I believe everything I said was true.

Nevertheless...all hell broke loose.

I'll be a bit more selective this time.