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Monday, March 10, 2008

Democracy in America (Yea Right)

In one week, from March 4 to March 10 2008, all of the following occurred:

A Republican candidate for President clinched his party's nomination despite a) advocating the veto of legislation banning torture practices he claims to oppose and b) stump speeches suggesting America will remain in Iraq for 100 years if necessary.

The current President vetoed said bill outlawing the use of water boarding and similar techniques by the CIA -- one of only eight vetoes in his entire tenure in office.

National Democratic party insiders, who opted to punish Michigan state Democratic insiders (who had the nerve to ignore party leader preferences on primary dates) by ignoring their primary election, began considering ways to un-punish those state insiders by allowing a new primary or caucus presumably paid for by those political campaigns and special interests with the most to gain by having a do-over.

The media confirmed its collective incompetence in covering national politics by conflating the Michigan fiasco with the Florida fiasco in which the national Democratic Party rejected legitimate votes in a legitimate election scheduled by the State Legislature because the Legislature didn’t obey the party's wishes in scheduling the state primary.

A Democratic governor divulged his repeated involvement in a $5500/hour prostitution ring despite a ten-year reputation as a holier than thou crusader against corporate corruption.

First one brief word before any philosophical analysis…

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Eliot. Eliot Spitzer. Yea you. Get out. TONIGHT. And don't let the doorknob hit you in the can on the way out. You have no moral standing left to raise the flag in front of the Governor's mansion, must less conduct any business on behalf of the public.
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It's hard to imagine more obvious signs of the disconnect between what's truly important and what occupies the attention of our so-called leaders than these recent events.

* The US Labor Department announced job losses for February 2008 of 63,000 after losing 22,000 in January
* the Fed announced another ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS in short term repo loans over 28 days to prop up paralyzed short-term interbank cash lending
* crude oil hit $108/barrel, partly because of military instability in multiple locations, partly due to a collapsing US dollar and partly due to nervous investors buying crude futures as a hedge against the collapsing US dollar
* A new book was released providing ample evidence supporting a monthly estimate of $12 billion dollars per month for 2008 for the war in Iraq -- a war we're supposed to be winning and winding down -- and a total cost estimate of over $3 trillion.

Despite all of these events (and others) in the headlines, none of them are occupying more than a handful of sound bytes in the Presidential campaign on either side. On March 10, Clinton spent time in a town hall meeting offering a spot on the ticket to someone painted as unworthy of a 3 am phone call so they could be one heartbeat away from that call. Obama spent an entire stump speech talking about the irony and political gall of the non-front-runner offering the front-runner the co-pilot seat on a flight that has yet to take off. McCain spent the week planning a month of financial fundraising catch-up and trying coax former HP CEO Carly Fiorina onboard to help educate him on the difference between billion and trillion.

With all of this on the plate, all of the presidential candidates are failing MISERABLY at educating voters about the problems we face or clarifying their own strategies for solving them. If a candidate sneaks through an entire campaign without either EXPLAINING the forces at work that pose a threat or opportunity for the country or DESCRIBING what they will do once in office, they may get their hands on the wheel but will have no ability to steer the country. Every politian opposed to their policies can rightfully claim the American people didn't vote for that when they elected you.

Of course, I really don't expect any politicians of any party to try any other approach as long as they are so well rewarded by the corrupt status quo doing the same ol' same ol'. We the People, on the other hand, don't have the luxury of time. It's our dollars they're spending like drunken sailors on shore leave -- on proverbial and not-so-proverbial hookers.