Something Vague

I'm not going to lie -- it took me multiple days to watch Thursday night's presidential debate. Literally, days. I started watching it live, but . . . but . . . it was too painful. I couldn't possibly sit through the whole thing without breaking the window behind the couch, so I recorded it. And slowly, meticulously, I watched it all. It hurt a little.

I had high hopes for this debate, which was really my own stupid fault. I forgot, briefly, that all excitement has been drained from politics, leaving just shells of personalities careful to tread on the correct side of party lines. And that's what this debate was, a debate alone party lines. If you like Obama, you no doubt liked what he said. If you liked McCain, you probably laughed at all his stupid little jokes. The graph type thing on CNN, gadging the audience's response, never moved that much, besides the initial changes when either candidate came on screen. I kept waiting for a drastic reaction, when those lines when haywire and flew way up or way down, the way they tended to during the 2004 debates. It never happened.

And ya know why it never happened? Because nothing drastic was said. There was no major breakthrough, or breakdown, or anything. It was strictly petty, "He said he'd do such and such a thing," sprinkled with random self congratulations for things done way back in the day. I'm totally with Obama, but does it really matter that he's been against the Iraq war since day one? No. We are there now. We have to deal with the realities of this war in 2008, not what should or shouldn't have been done.

I was really hoping for major breakthroughs on this debate in particular, because it was the Foreign Policy debate. Awesome, right? Wrong. It wasn't even a little enlightening at all. Even the question I was dying to hear, "What will you do about Iran," was dull. Why did McCain feel the need to say about a million times that Obama wants talks without preconditions? Did he think that maybe if he repeated it one more time, we'd think to ourselves, "Why yes! Putting demands on leaders before we grace them with our presence is really the only way to conduct business!" I wanted so badly for Obama to wipe that smirk off McCain's face, but no. It never happened.

After I finished watching the debate, I didn't feel any kind of rush of pride for my candidate. I didn't feel like painting my face blue and knocking on every Republican's door, chanting "O-bam-a!" No one won, because no one stepped out of their little box to actually speak to the American people about real issues. Now what am I looking forward to? Easy -- that vice presidential debate on Thursday, if for no other reason than to see Palin actually be asked direct questions, assuming the moderator is allowed to ask anything relevent.


Next Go 'Round

I only just became aware of the new Oliver Stone movie, W. It's a biopic about Dubya, and if the trailer is any kind of measure, it looks like it will at least be entertaining. Probably not informative, probably not insightful. I can't see it changing anyone's opinion one way or the other. But it will at least be . . . fun. I'm no Oliver Stone fan. I never even got through his other biopics before turning off the TV in disgust. But I'm giving this one a fair shot. I want to like it.

But it does raise an important point. We, in case you weren't aware, love Bush Bashing. Getting in a few good whacks at George's intelligence, military service, foreign policy, or administration is as therapeutic as anything else, and even makes you feel a little better than that oh-so lovable Commander-in-Chief of ours. It's turned into a national pastime over the past few years.

Here's the problem with that: We, as a nation, aren't learning anything. You would think over the years we would have picked apart this man's administration, unearthed the secrets, listened and read the words these people have said and take cautionary steps to ensure this will never happen again. But we aren't. Eight years in and we still refuse to embrace the disturbing facts emerging everyday about the entire Bush administration. Politicians have to play the "good-ole-boy" role. Can't be too elitist, can't be too smart. Gotta play to the masses, ya know.

People, we've been down this road before. We already elected the guy we want to have a beer with. And look at where we ended up. Two wars and trillions of dollars deep, and yet we still cast a wary eye on anyone who uses words too big. I know a lot of people I would love to invite to the BBQ for some beer and hot dogs, but that doesn't mean they should be running the country. That doesn't mean they should be running a gas station. That doesn't mean anything. Intelligence is a good thing. Are we really so vain that our leaders have to reflect exactly who we are? There is a reason they are up there. They are, in fact, more intelligent, more saavy, more. . . whatever than you . And that is a good thing. That is what you want in a leader. Someone capable of leading, not being lead by his administration.

We need to step back for a minute, people. We need to admit the past 8 years were a horrible mistake, and take the necessary steps to fix it. How about we start in, say, a little over a month. We can take the first step together. We can vote for the candidate who seems the smartest, most capable, most likely to lead our country out of the fog. Take a deep breath. We can do this. Don't worry -- you'll still be a good American.


I've Seen Enough

Last night was President Bush's big ole address about the state of the economy. Standing in front of what I thought was a backdrop from Saturday Night Live, he went into what would have been a comic, if it wasn't so terrifying, 12-minute speech regarding our deteriorating economic system. He discussed what brought us to the edge of the cliff, and how he intends to rope us back in like the cowboy he wishes he was. And boy oh boy, do I feel safer!

Bush painted a scary picture: job loss, businesses closing, even more foreclosures. The housing crisis did us in, according to him. And that is why we need to save institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Help the big guys out, in order to help the little guys, right? It's that good ole trickle-down economic theory, or at least a variation on it. Hmmmm, yes, it only makes sense that by keeping the multi bazillionaires from going out of business, we everyday folk will have such easier lives.

But let's look at the actual foundations of this problem. Not the housing crisis, maybe in a roundabout way. Look, people, the problem is the debt. National, personal, it's all over the place! Our country is so in debt right now, due to the Kazillion Dollar War we're fighting you-know-where. Not to mention that's all on credit cards, meaning we're racking up quite a bit of interest on top of the astronomical cost of toppling a dictator and ensuring we'll leave the country in shambles. It's as if Americans have taken that as their role model -- racking up debt like it's 1928. Loans on top of loans on top of mortgages on top of credit cards. All of it with companies unchecked by the government, allowed to charge interest and fees as they like in order to pay for the bonuses and salaries of their CEOs.

It's time politicians buck up. Go ahead -- point the finger at the American people. Not just those who lost all common sense and went on the vacations they couldn't afford. Not just those who take out more loans than they could ever pay back. But those who exploited the situation. Those who thought, "Yes, we'll take your money. Jack up the interest!" Everyone is at fault here, and we need to know that.

So, Mr. President, here's the question. What institution is more important to save? Is it really the financial institutions, or is the American people? How about instead of throwing $300 at us you actually do something that will really help us? Set up some serious regulations against this happening again. Regulate interest rates on loans -- they are through the roof! I'm tired of this trickle-down attitude. Remember how in February you said a recession wasn't coming? It's just a slow down, you said! Yes. A recession. Right? Well, it's here. And it's big. So are you going to use this as an opportunity to help bridge the huge gap between rich and poor -- currently the largest since the Great Depression -- or are you going to bulster corporate America and keep the vicious circle of exploitation goin'?

At least McCain is on his way to Washington to save the day. . . Oh boy. Time to start keeping your money in a mason jar under a floorboard . . .


Please Read the Letter

It will only be a matter of time before the media starts distorting and twisting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York into yet another display of his supposed instability. Since his election in 2005, he has come to the United States a few times, and each time has been painted as an aggressive and dillusional man. He was denied the right to lay a wreath at the Ground Zero memorial in 2007, and is not allowed outside of a 25 mile radius of Columbus Circle in New York City.

Yesterday, President Ahmadinejad spoke before the UN General Assembly, followed by a question and answer session with the press. His speech featured the usual Ahmadinejad lines against the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, as well as the unconditional support for the Israeli government. He spoke about the crimes commited by the "Zionist" regime and the support given by "bullying superpowers." These are all things he discusses each time he visits the United States, and yet they never quite seem to get through to the people.

He also predicted the collapse of the American and Zionist empires, something that I'm sure will be interpreted as threats against both countries. However, Ahmadinejad has, in the past and on this trip, expressed Iran's feelings that these countries don't need any outside help. They are and will continue damaging themselves enough, and Iran has no interest in engaging in warfare with either of them.

These important facts, though, are either forgotten or ignored by American media. The fact that the supposed hawk Ahmadinejad has, on numerous occasions, expressed his country's desire to help establish peace in Iraq and has reached out to the United States on several occasions is buried deep beneath soundbites used to demonize him. It has already been forgotten by the masses that it was Iran who, when the Iraqi government went over our heads earlier this year. helped broker a ceasefire with radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

While here, Ahmadinejad also sat down with Larry King for an hour interview that should help his image in the US, but will no doubt be picked apart into little clips that Bill O'Reilly can point at and say, "See? Be afraid of him." In the interview, Ahmadinejad calmly responded to the same questions posed to him everytime he visits the United States, regardings things like the Iranian nuclear program and his supposed line on destroying Israel. He set Larry King straight on Iranian US relations, pointing out that all hostility has stemmed from the US. His own country has publicly stated their desire to have friendly and respectful relations with the United States, but all letters and messages go ignored. Ahmadinejad stated several times the wrongs perpetrated against the Palestinians by the Israelis -- the taking of settling of other's lands and forced migration of the rightful owners. The darkly comic fact that this is precisely what the United States did to the Native American's, I'm sure, wasn't lost on Ahmadinejad. He set King straight on nuclear weapons as well, declaring as the Iranians have numerous times, that they do not want to build a weapon. In 2003, two years before Ahmadinejad was elected, Ayatollah Khameini issued a fatwa against the building, stockpiling, and using of weapons of mass destruction. Ahmadinejad reiterated their religious aversion to nukes, as well as stressing that the time for them was gone. Now is a time for reason and culture, not weapons.

Overall, I was once again amazed at President Ahmadinejad. It was his visit last year, at Columbia University, that sparked my interest in the controversial figure. Since then, I have been amazed at the flaws in public debate regarding him, and the demonization based in little more than soundbites and rumors. Each time he visits the United States he handles himself wonderfully, remaining calm under fire and never once swaying from his platform. Throw what you want at him, but he sticks by what he says. More than can be said for most American politicians. Not only does he stand by it, but what he says makes sense. He is one of very few leaders on the global playing field willing to call the United States out for what they have done in the past and present. Always with that smile of his, he reminds us of the crimes those we have supported committed against his own people. I'm always reminded of my countries own pettiness when Ahmadinejad is quick to reiterated that Iran has no problem with the American people. They are good people, he has said on numerous occasions. He wants to talk to them, and engage them. Come to Iran! See for yourselves! And yet that distinction between the people and the government is something we American's cannot make.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that our next president can put aside false accusations and differences and begin the diplomatic process with Iran. It would benefit the region, as well as our international image. And, above all else, would give much earned respect to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an elected dignitary who is currently treated like little more than a terrorist.


The Start of Something

I'm sure I don't have to tell you we're living in dire times. This will, no doubt, be a period in American History that we will look back on and say to our grandchilden, "I lived through that." A floundering economy, unwinnable wars, a fear mongering government -- all of that coupled with an apathetic society with little confidence in a political system that has become an international joke. Things aren't lookin' good, America.

So, what do you do? How can you shift the tide and make a difference? Well, that's what I'm trying to find out. After years of political musings kept, for the most part, within a small group of friends, I've taken to the 'net to try and spur on the change I feel this country so desperately needs. Enough bemoaning the world and those in it. Enough shaking heads and rolling eyes. Let's actually do something this time.

I'm using this blog as an outlet for my own political ideas. In it, I'll highlight different issues facing society, and present those changes that I feel need to take place. I know not everyone will agree with me, but that's alright. It's time we stop pandering to each other and start working to improve life for not only Americans, but the world as a whole. The kind of nationalism we've seen displayed across America for the past few years doesn't have a place in contemporary society. The world is too small. Cooperation must be the cornerstone of any foreign policy, because we aren't just in this thing alone anymore. Our actions have ramifications around the world, and we must start being held responsible by others and by ourselves for that.

Above all else though, with this blog, I want to get a reaction. Get mad, get inspired, agree with me, or hate me. I don't care as long as you get engaged in the discussion. Leave me comments -- I want to know what you think. Let's open up the debate to everyone, and learn from each other about the world. Feel free to leave me comments about anything, even if it doesn't pertain to postings. Share links, videos, any source you feel is relevent. Help me change the world.
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