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temper tantrums
feet to the fire
tea party
Say WHO For President?!?
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Say WHO for President?!?

I suppose it should concern me that I’m starting to laugh at the GOP Primary campaign—I must be getting slap-happy. Was it really all four of the remaining candidates that just yesterday rattled their sabers in support of going to war with Iran? Is it possible that such hysteria makes these candidates seem ‘stronger’ to their voters? These guys sure tried to hold Obama’s feet to the fire over solving America’s problems in a single term—and now their platform is ‘Let’s leave everything Domestic in the snake pit and focus on spending more blood and gold in the Middle East’. Why not just re-elect Dubya?

I guess I’m a bit hysterical myself—I think I’m laughing very nervously at the fact that no one else is laughing. The Republican party, the Tea party, the Evangelical fundamentalists—could they be any more ridiculous? Their arrogant ignorance, their faith-based delusions and misogyny, their twisted logics and their dogmatic rejection of scientific objectivity, and their incredibly obstinate stupidity—they carry all these as proud pennants of party membership.

And the rest of us see them get away with it because their flubs and hyperbole make good copy for the hungry info-tainment industry. But they are never baldly rebuked for acting like children throwing temper-tantrums or for virtually closing their eyes in refusal of the common sense right in front of them. Many of today’s ultra-conservatives would have been beaten to death by angry mobs if they publicly spouted their venom in a town square of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. We still respected the idea of humanity in America, back when we could use it as a club to criticize Communist police-states during the Cold War.

Now that we have no certain enemy, no Hitler, no Stalin, no Mao—we are beginning to attack each other—we have won all the contests that threatened our sovereignty and now we are fighting the war over the definition of the United States of America. And I fear we will discover that our country’s past purpose was to champion human rights against the whole world. How could we have foreseen that we would win that fight, become the most powerful military and economic power in the world, going from defender to policeman to resented authority figure?

Our country, at least from my life’s perspective (1956 to far…) has always been at its best when it was at risk—we think harder, we plan better, we don’t get caught up in who’s in charge, we focus on getting things done. So our lack of direction since the coming of the new millennium has us confused and phobic—and it is exacerbated by the resentment of the rest of the world. And that resentment, if closely scrutinized, will often have cause—due to the high-handedness that inevitably comes from being able to cow the entire globe.

There are lots of bad changes—we’ve lost any semblance of a frontier. This makes disagreements over land and resources much more bitter and intense. We are trying to grow our economy at the same rate we increase the population, but the pressure build-up is inevitable—and not just here—the pressure is even greater for the other nations’ citizens, who once could look to America as an escape from their country’s internecine establishment.

Our past advantages: the boundless frontier, the greater development of early industrialism, our tabula-rasa-type culture that we really just made up as we went—all gone. Settling in for a more stagnant future will be much harder than the past acceptance of the challenges of a New World—but, like it or not, we must eventually become the Slightly-Newer-Of-The-Two Old Worlds.

This is one reason for the importance of developing our presence in space—like telescopes, we can do a lot more outside of Earth’s gravity-well than we can ever accomplish by lying here and waiting for whatever—pollution, radiation, meteorites, volcanos, ice-age, civilization’s collapse—you name it. Whatever fate lies in store for planet Earth, it might be nice for us, as a species, to start work on a ‘back-door’—just a thought.

Plus, even if our mighty USA goes, someday, the way of all things, in space there will be a new culture of pioneers, a group of people who glory in growth, achievement, and discovery (…said the hard-core space cadet).

What I’m trying to say (without any need for talk of Outer Space) is that no one wants America to change—at least, none of us wants to lose the aspects of America that we’ve grown to love more than life, even if we can’t agree on exactly what those aspects are. But our country changes beneath our feet—it takes a step forward here, a step back there, and a couple of steps to the side, rinse, repeat. Our economy changes with time, our politics can change with the economy, our values are affected by our politics—we recently got so mad, as a country, we rushed into a War—by mistake! We see disasters, natural and man-made, and we hear of outrageous crimes perpetrated against the entire country by this industry or that, or even by a single con-artist.

I won’t even mention religion. I’m only pointing out that America’s newest challenge is itself—can it use pluralism, individual freedom, and capitalism to create a new Eden? Or must we watch it all on TV, as America inevitably changes without any input from us, its majority of citizens? As Jose Hemanez used to say, “O, I hope not…” I just can't stop laughing.

Street Talk

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