Saturday, August 05, 2006

Out for a morning jog in Lebanon...

This has nothing to do with the nominal subject of this blog, but I couldn't resist posting the photo.*

Probably like you, I watch people try to live their lives amid this kind of chaos and devastation--I watch the networks interview trembling, sad-eyed mothers as they wait for their kids to come home (or not come home) from school--and I cannot imagine transacting life, sanely, under those conditions. It's a hokey cliche, of course, but those of us who work and play and go about our daily business here in the U.S. of A. really do have no idea "how the other half lives." Not a clue. Despite the wake-up call of 9-11, most of us by now have settled back into our more-or-less customary sense of peace, tranquility and, perhaps above all, detachment. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, today, are fodder for jokes by Jon Stewart and Jay Leno. We laugh without shame again, because it's not really relevant to how we live. (And I'm sure, at least in part, that's why they hit us: because we're just so damned detached and "above it all....") In fact, you probably laughed at this photo, when you first saw it. As I did.

Leaving the hair-splitting political differences aside, and/or regardless of how we feel about this or that nuance of the American way, we should thank our lucky stars (or get down on our knees and thank God, if you're of that persuasion) each and every day.

Sermon over.

* Even though it's an AP copyright and will cost me a reprint fee.


Rodger Johnson said...

You got it right, dude.

Although, if we ousted the Bush regime and institute a fiscally conservative, socially aware, and defense savvy administration, America would be better off.

Our prayer should be:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.

Give us this day freedom from Bush. And forgive us our stupidity, as we should have voted Gore.

And lead us not back into Republican rule, but deliver us to a more intelligent, well-spoken, fiscally conservative, socally aware, defense savvy order.

For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory for ever -- Amen.

Let's all hope for a brighter 08.

And let us all hope for the Middle East too. Just yesterday, I met a young jewish girl working at the mall. She was selling me another techno-toy, something to do with blue tooth and my cellular phone. But that's beside the point.

She told me her family lives in Haifa, has been to the shelters, and fortunately none of her's has lost their life.

She said that us American are very sheltered and should be grateful for our security and peace of mind.

She said, 'you have no idea what it's like living everyday knowing that you could die.'

She said, 'here in your churches to talk about it. In my country, we live it.'

Steve Salerno said...

Rodg, this ain't a political-policy blog (though I realize that we've strayed in that direction from time to time, that the self-help movement has definite political implications, and that this very post--i.e. jogging in Lebanon--would seem to call for political comment). I'm not going to get too far into your anti-Bush rant. I'll just say I think it's naive to suppose that the solution is to oust Bush, or even to assume that we would not have been in this mess--or a worse one--had Gore been at the throttle. Keep in mind that W. inherited many of today's most vexing geopolitical realities from Gore's former boss, who clearly was not a master of foreign diplomacy. I know we can't prove a negative...but are you contending that 9-11 would NOT have happened if Gore were in office? Or that we might not have become embroiled in the same disastrous war? Let's not go off the deep end here. I think the American public might well have revolted if we didn't start bombing the crap out of SOMEBODY after 9-11.... And the overwhelming majority of Dems as well as Republicans subscribed to the belief that there were WMDs in Iraq....

To me, the problem runs far deeper, and has to do with the American political machine and the way it operates (patronage, the spoils system, a bias toward the very rich--in both parties--etc.) I agree that we need a major change but, as one who's spent his share of time in D.C. through the years, hob-nobbing with the folks at the top (including Messrs. Clinton and Gore, when they held the White House), I resist the notion that the required corrective is a matter of simply switching party affiliations. We need a whole new approach. At least as I see it.

How do we do that? I have no clue. Does anyone out there?

Cosmic Connie said...

I did vote for Gore (actually, against Bush) but I have no delusions that the 9-11 attack, or something like it, wouldn't have happened with a Democrat in the White House. (I won't get into the Iraq issue except to say that I think it was a mistake and I have thought that since before the March 2003 invasion.)

As for the US political system, we DO need a whole new approach, as Steve says. We live in a plutocracy, and merely having a Democrat in the White House didn't and won't change that. Alas, Cosmic Connie has no answers on this one. "Vote Libertarian" seems too simplistic, and I have found that my continued support of Dave Barry for president hasn't done much to change the system either. :-)

But Rodg's example of the young Jewish girl is very poignant, and I think it illustrates Steve's original point quite well. Even after 9-11, we in the US are still buffered in many ways against the harsher realities in other parts of the world. We still have our BSO's, as I like to call 'em...our bright shiny objects to keep us happily distracted while other people are living their lives every day knowing they could be met with a sudden and violent death at any time.

RevRon's Rants said...

The only way we're ever gonna straighten things up in our country would be to:
1) Institute complete campaign reform with teeth & sans loopholes, administered by completely non-partisan committees. No campaign contributions allowed, period. Press conferences (with equal time allocations) and debates (with rules established by the host network, not the candidates) only... no paid campaign commercials, period.
2) Ethics regulations established & overseen by bipartisan panels. Eliminate PACs & lobby groups' ability to donate to candidates, either directly or indirectly, and return power to individual voters.
3) Establish and enforce immigration laws based upon overal good for the country, rather than according to political advantage or corporate pressure (see #2).
4) Eliminate legislators' retirement plans & put all government employees (elected, appointed, and regular hires) in the Social Security System. I guarantee, Social Security would be fixed within 6 months!
5) Return our foreign policy objectives to their core: protecting ourselves & working with other nations to improve things around the world. We aren't the world's police force, and our military isn't trained or qualified to act in that capacity. Neither are we the arbitrer of justice for the rest of the world. We might like to think so, but we abdicated any claim to that role long ago, and never had a valid claim in the first place.

Take away the big money incentives from gov't operations, and the corruption, waste, pork, and general foolishness would cease to exist.

And while we're at it, let's just eliminate any incumbent who has been in office longer than 1 term and start from scratch. If they've been around longer than 1 election cycle, they're part of the problem. There will be a few casualties who were honest & tried to do their jobs, but such is life.

Next week, I'll solve the rest of the world's problems. Right now, I gotta fix my own financial house... and besides... it's Sunday, and I'm supposed to be resting! :-)

Rodger Johnson said...

To bring it back to SHAM, my point is that America is self-absorbed and that's a reflection of our culture.

This self-absorbed attitude, I think is reflected in our domestic and foreign policy, and in our muscle flexing around the world.

For example, Iraq. I'll go there. We stuck our nose in like a bully flexing his muscles just because, WMDs or not.

We dethroned a dictator, yes, but his leadership as grotesque as it is to Americans, equalized power.

For America to ever grow up, I think it needs a good ass kick'n abroad and at home too.