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No Exit, Cap’n Trade, and more

by on December 8, 2009

It is my duty as a citizen to examine our politics. I want to look at portions of politics domestic and international, but to say that is not enough; all politics is either domestic or international, or a mix of the two. There’s a few things going on, and while I like to write about great universal, timeless, concepts, perhaps some understanding of things as they always are will come from looking at things as they are (and this, incidentally, might give an understanding of Obama’s favorite: things as they are vs. things as they should be.  So, let me try to keep some order to this, first domestic, next, international.

There’s a lot happening domestically (and internationally) but most of what is happening is so obscured by the never-ending health care debate that it’s hard to notice, despite the hours of trawling of political news I do every day, that there’s anything else going on.  However, Andrew Sullivan will be happy to remind you that gay rights are an issue.  (Gay=LGBTQ  in that statement — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning).  Me?  I don’t want to touch the issue at the moment, but I’m going to.  I view gay rights as the struggle for our generation.  I can’t pinpoint what or who has chosen this issue, because like women’s rights (c. 1920) and racial rights (c. 1960) there is more than one cause.  This is, and this will be, our civil issue.  We can fight this issue, or we can accept that it is a struggle of our generation; we can believe in equal rights or unequal rights, but I don’t think we can avoid it.  It will come; it has come.

Next up: Obama’s wish list.  I mean, the wish list he made on the campaign trail, and he made the goal of his first year in office.  Health Care, Education, Environment.  Health care is abonimably slow (thanks, congressional Republicans).  I have no doubt it takes a long time to write a 1,990 page health care bill, but that House bill was done before Halloween, and it took the Senate until today to decide that the health care bill isn’t about abortion (the measure to ban Federally funded abortion failed).  Perhaps we’ll all end up with the health care system the Founding Fathers/Boston Tea Partiers/Patriots/Revolutionaries had — none — after all, that seems to be what the current Tea Partiers/Teabaggers want.  As a side note, the House bill, and current, incomplete, Senate draft, have health care changes going into effect as late as 2013.  I’m not terribly worried about that; it takes time to organize the system they have devised with various Secrataries and Commissioners, and time to get the insurance companies and states on the same page.  Nonetheless,  chew on that date for a moment.

Education: I think Obama passed some nice legislation for K-12 education (?) but it slipped so quietly through the cracks that I haven’t seen anything about it several months.  Also, it doesn’t help California’s abysmal higher ed problems.  I’m sorry, for all you that thought that a great way to be a productive citizen in your life might have something to do with going to college.

Environment, or as Jon Stewart likes to call it, Cap’n Trade, is an issue that has been in congress for months and never gets anywhere.  There’s a UN-sponsored conference on climate change that has far fewer google hits than Tiger Woods over the last 30 days. Maybe that shouldn’t be too surprising as long as 18 percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the Earth. Anyway, domestic and international efforts on climate change aren’t going well.

Do you want to know what’s happening internationally, besides a climate change conference that isn’t nearly as well-researched by people as knowing how many mistresses Tiger Woods has? Probably not; I know I don’t want to know.

  • South America: no one reports on what’s happening there. Does South America matter? Probably, but our media, even the diverse number of sources I read, make almost no mention of South America.
  • North America: you’ve got to be kidding; I just gave a summary of domestic issues and I’m supposed to comment on North America? Oh, wait, North America includes more than the United States? Well, there’s this drug war in Mexico, and in Canada feet keep floating ashore in shoes, not attached to any other part of the body. That, as usual, is about all the news from Canada, except that America is considering reimporting drugs.
  • Europe: is now copying America, complete with president, Herman Van Rompuy. Perhaps, in 200 years, he’ll be to Europe what George Washington is to the United States. Other than an economic mess, not much there. Oh, some Nazi hunting. Time to move on, Europe?
  • Asia and Australia: nothing exciting. A 16 year old Australian girl is trying to sail solo around the world. Sorry for lumping these two very different continents together, but there’s nothing there at the moment.
  • Africa and Middle East: everyone’s favorite, as long as they don’t have to write about it or think about it. Lots of great stuff happening, but impossible to synthesize or solve. The U.S. is involved in three wars there. I know, it’s supposed to be two wars, one of which we’ve ‘ended’ and are ‘leaving’. The third war would be Pakistan (unless you want to call Afghanistan and Pakistan AfPak, and make it one country). We’re adding more troops in Afghanistan, which reminds me of Churchill’s speech in 1901 to the House of Commons, part of which said:

    We are told we have “commitments”—not a very cheerful expression—in three continents, and that it is in consequence of these “commitments” that we must keep three army corps ready for immediate expeditionary purposes. On what principle are there to be three rather than two or eight? I had hoped that the formulation of some definite principle governing our military needs would be a prominent feature of any scheme of Army reform submitted to the nation. I suppose the principle on which the army corps have been selected is, one continent, one army corps. Well, Sir, I should like to look into that.

    or, as Arianna Huffington has put it, in a more modern but perhaps less majestic way, Obama and Sartre have crossed to form a “No Exit” strategy from Afghanistan. That, to say the least, is discouraging.
    Also in the Middle East, Israel is having severe personality problems. I have commented on this before, elsewhere, but it is worth noting here that 1)Israel has the right to defend itself if attacked, 2) the United States would doubtless support Israel is Israel is attacked, 3) because of this no country would attack Israel unless Israel provokes it.

  • I can assure you that’s not all that’s going on in politics, because politics is ever-changing. What does it have to do with us? While we’re in a democracy, quite a bit.

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