Sunday, October 19, 2008

America Gets a Colinic

Every blogger in the country will be writing about Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama, but I have to write a few sentences myself on this extraordinary turn of events.

Colin Powell has always been just a shade more red than blue. After retiring from the Army, and his position as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he refused to disclose his party affiliation even as he encouraged speculation that he would run for President. None the less, as W's Secretary of State, he endorsed and helped implement the Bush doctrine.

This was in the day's after 9-11, when most Americans supported Bush, believing that he was protecting the country in good faith. The few voices that warned we were overreaching in our response, and that we were giving the executive branch powers it was sure to abuse, were derided for playing politics during a national security crisis.

I think Colin Powell is doing what many Americans wish they could do. His endorsement is a way of saying, “Bush, we trusted you during an emergency, and you betrayed us with your cronies, and failed us with your incompetence."

When Powell, the most qualified and level headed person in the administration, shared his concerns about the direction of the war on terror, he was frozen out of decision making, and eventually resigned. His endorsement of Obama is like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Disapproval on the Republican party as currently constituted.

Many have lamented the fact that America is forced to choose between only two incestuous parties. Next January it look as if only one of them, the Democrats, will have any real power, for at least two years. That's because most people in this country don't think the Republicans can even be trusted, as a balance against Democratic domination.

Thanks Mr. Powell. You took the words out of our mouths.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Last White President

George W. Bush will probably be the last white U.S. President, if not forever, for a very long time. I don't know why it took me so long to figure it out, or why I haven't heard anyone talking about this. Obama is getting 95% or more of the African-American vote. African-Americans are over represented in Democratic primaries. Black turnout during the primaries was very high. That's why Hillary didn't really have a chance, once Obama was considered a serious candidate.

As far as the general election. In some states Obama's 95% or more of the black vote is enough to carry with the same turnout among African-Americans as four years ago, e.g. South Carolina. In some swing states, such as Ohio and Florida, Obama needs only to raise turnout among blacks 5 or 10% percent to ensure victory, according to Rasmussen. I would bet my right arm that turnout among blacks will be up by more than that, and I can hardly blame them.

I joke that I try to look surprised, when I see an African-American with an Obama shirt on. Of course if I were black, and had a chance to vote for someone who looked like me, after my people had been treated so poorly for the bulk of American history, I'd be in line the night before the polls opened.

Now that the black minority realizes it's power, they should put an African-American in the race every four years. They will win every four years.

Someday, in 20, 50 or 100 years, blacks in America may feel comfortable enough to stop voting monolithically. Maybe both parties will run black candidates, forcing African-Americans to make a choice. By that time however, Hispanics will be numerous enough to elect their own president, if they have learned from Obama's election.

Should be interesting to watch. Maybe Bush will be remembered for more than being a disaster. He'll be the answer to a trivia question: Who was America's last white president?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Race Card Out of the Deck

Over fifty years after Brown vs. Board of Education legally ended desegregation, could this election finally put the race issue to rest for all but extremist whites, blacks and hispanics?

Just 24 years ago, when Jesse Jackson ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, it was considered little more than a symbolic gesture by even liberal Democrats. I'll give an example of a common joke in Georgia at the time: Jesse Jackson is praying. “Lord, will there ever be an end to world hunger?” God replies, “Not in your lifetime Jesse.” “Well Lord, will there ever be peace in the middle east?” Again the answer from above comes, “Not in your lifetime, Jesse.” Finally Jesse asks, “Will there ever be a black president of the United States?” God says, “Not in MY lifetime, Jesse.”

Everyone loves Will Smith, and he is the most profitable and consistent movie star of all time. This is surely progress, although white Americans have always been willing to be entertained by minorities. Will Smith however, is invariably the star and hero in his blockbuster films. Reasonable people can disagree about the significance of a black man being the biggest movie star of all time. However, this year a black man defeated Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee. This also involved defeating the Clinton machine, which has controlled the party for 16 years. Moreover, he beat her so decisively, that he was free to ignore Hillary, and nominate an old establishment white guy, as his running mate. This changes everything, at least it should.

Even if Obama somehow self-destructs and McCain wins, hopefully we as a people can stop obsessing over race. A generation of children will grow up having seen a person of color ahead in the race for the ultimate seat of power. They will know that almost as many white Americans will support a minority for president as will typically support a white Democrat. When you subtract blacks and Hispanics from the polls, Obama is still getting about 40% of white voters right now. Almost as many as Clinton got in either election he won. The children of today won't even know a time, when it was unthinkable to have a black president.

There will still be bigots, who instill racism in their kids, but they will be more marginalized than ever. They will hold no more sway in the larger culture, than the people who think the space program is a hoax, or that Alaska could secede. This is all the case if Obama loses. If he wins, as it looks like he will, we should really be able to shut the door on the idea of two, or three Americas. We'll have a black Commander in Chief. This after eight years of Republican rule, that has included TWO African-American Secretaries of State, and a Hispanic Attorney General, whether you like their politics or not.

Will the cliché coined by Rodney King, “Can't we all just get along?” finally be answered with a resounding yes? To be sure there will be people with power and influence, whose very livelihoods, compel them to continue to pit ethnic groups against each other. Let's just hope we will start ignoring them.

Friday, October 3, 2008

We All Win This Election

Every four years we hear from ideologues on both sides, that the fate of our nation is in the balance. If their side doesn't win, it will be a tragedy of historic proportions. The fate of civilization is in the balance. At the same time, cynics deride the system that produces plastic candidates, and reduces debate to a battle of sound bites and talking points.

Amid the cacophony I think we often miss the most important truth of every American election. We will witness, over the next few months, another peaceful transfer of power. Most people in the world and in history would give anything to have this happen once in their lives. At any given time there are civil wars going on around the world. There are many things wrong in America, and many opinions about what we should do about them, but we should all be able to agree that our system is a thing of beauty, if only because it enables us to routinely change governments,  without a drop of blood.

A century and a half ago, patriots like Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee, were unable to accomplish this process peacefully. Every four years, I think they cheer as we prove that their lesson has not been forgotten. I am trying to impress upon my children how blessed we are not to fear the next bloody power struggle just over the horizon. Let's all take a moment to appreciate how fortunate we are to live when and where we do.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Anglican Group publishes Blog commandments

The Blogging Ten Commandments, according to the Evangelical Alliance:

1. You shall not put your blog before your integrity.

2. You shall not make an idol of your blog.

3. You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin.

4. Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog.

5. Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes.

6. You shall not murder someone else’s honour, reputation or feelings.

7. You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind.

8. You shall not steal another person’s content.

9. You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger.

10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s blog ranking. Be content with your own content.

Go and sin not.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Global Depression?

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know the solution to the current financial meltdown. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone in government knows either. We are dealing with a situation that is unprecedented and the wonks are tweeking things that they have little understanding of, and no experience with.

I don't blame congress for rejecting the President's bill. The fact that they are willing to risk a global depression, rather than give Bush another blank check, shows how badly he has squandered his clout and credibility with them. I voted for Bush twice and he has been a terrible disappointment. Who in their right mind would pass another huge, sweeping, general, power-grabbing bill by this administration?

The only way to bail ourselves out of this situation may indeed be, what some in congress have called, "financial socialism". I think it would be closer to fascism, but that word has lost it's meaning. It is now only an ephithet to throw at political opponents.

Would America be better off to swallow this poison pill, than to let the financial sector become basically nationalized? Maybe so, but it is a moot point, because our current population neither knows nor cares about the true meaning or cost of freedom.

Even if we ride it out, and let the banks and brokerage firms fend for themselves, some more regulation is needed. Any libertarian who still thinks purely free markets regulate themselves is as out of touch with reality as the few Marxists left standing.