Saturday, July 10, 2010

Weighing In

Here are some things I'm very concerned about:

1. The oil leak. Obviously, this is a catastrophic situation that will decimate an already fragile ecosystem for years and years to come. And clearly no one has any real idea of how to motivate more than a handful of Americans into real preventative action.

Since we have such a huge schism between the political right and left, and given our tendency to politicize every single issue facing us, it may be that nothing ever gets done.

One thing for certain though: apologizing to BP isn't going to help.

Hopefully the relief drilling, slated for completion in August, will solve the problem of the leak.

2. When does a CEO fail their corporation and get fired? If the head of a company presides over it when the company has shirked its responsibility and perhaps brought on the end of the world, shouldn't he be fired?

Corporate culture and its ability to condone and even encourage what in humans would clearly be psychotic behavior (like the kid in Columbine, or Ted Bundy) remain a mystery to me.

3. The aforementioned political schism between the right and left. This country loves to seesaw it's way through history. It's either a very conservative country or it's a very liberal one. Of course there are times when we embrace a kind of central position, like, say, the Eisenhower years, but for the most part, one half of the country is going to think they're being disenfranchised at any given time.

These days however are the worst I've ever seen. The republicans have dug their heels in and refuse to support ANY of the democratic programs, something they're very good at, and the democrats, still in the defensive mode after the eight years of the Bush administration, appear unable to remove their collective kid gloves and fight back. It sometimes seems that the only one fighting is the president.

Given our romance with bone-headed celebrities, it's no wonder that the more charismatic the president, the more we're willing to swallow. And since we remain a country of racists (white and black), only a small minority of people will admit to finding the current president charismatic.

Remember: there is no such thing as reverse racism. There's just racism.

4. The rise of the Tea Party and Sarah Palin. I'm not sure, but I think this rise has been somewhat pumped up by the media, especially Rupert Murdoch's Fox News organization. Anytime a grass roots movement comes to the forefront in this country, I think it's important that we Americans pay attention to the movement's core message, whether it's from the left (civil rights, ending the war in Vietnam) or the right (less taxes, smaller government). However, I'm pretty sure that if I were to go to a Tea Party meeting I'd come away thinking, "What a bunch of ignorant sheep!"

I blame Sarah Palin. She's a very stupid, deliberately misinformed demagogue capable of making one ignorant statement after another. And since she does seem to have an agenda (get on TV at any cost) and charisma (a lot of older republican males think she's attractive physically), there are actually people who think she's not stupid and capable of responsible leadership, which, given her history of quitting office, is simply not correct.

4. Our tendency to confuse spokespeople with political commentators. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, et alia are in the entertainment business, not the information and analysis business. Their opinions are generally meaningless, designed to get an emotional response rather than an intellectual response.

A good conservative analyst is someone like George Will: smart, articulate and clear on his allegiances, not someone like Sean Hannity who is a douchebag ignoramus in search of television rating points. Likewise, Rachel Maddow is a far more believable commentator for the left than Chris Matthews whose tendency towards the dramatic and constant interruptions of his guests is just showboating.

5. When did stupid people become so entitled? Personally, I think it's a holdover from the Bush years.

America, stop embracing stupid. We're not (all) in high school, and it's not a war between jocks and nerds anymore, if it ever was. It's unattractive and it's not going to get us anywhere.

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