Thursday, November 18, 2010

Frustrated Old White Guys - Over 45 Million Mentally Ill And One Grumpy Old Man

Eric Alterman
Nicholas Kristoff
Helene Cooper
"Two weeks after a midterm election that both sides interpreted as a mandate to change the way Washington does business, little, it seems, has changed... Just how little was underscored... when the two parties finished electing their leaders for the new Congress — the very same people... who have spent the past two years at one another’s throats." - Helene Cooper
“Scholars should be on tap, but not on top.” - Dexter Perkins

I felt mildly embarrassed by a post I wrote a couple of days ago, about advice to Obama if he wanted to get re-elected to another term. After all, who am I to tell the President what he should or should not be doing? Then, his staff seems pretty horrible, giving him all of the wrong advice, so I feel better now. I feel even better after reading this morning in Helen Cooper's piece in the NY Times, that Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, has the same advice for Obama that I do. Either this is an example of synchronicity, or Leslie likes my blog, or I have read his opinions elsewhere and blatantly borrowed from them...

The more I read about the Republicans bluster on about extending the Bush tax cuts - or else - the more I feel that Obama needs to let them all expire, veto any bills if he has to. Evidently I am not alone in this feeling, there were several letters to the editors of the NY Times in response to the last Paul Krugman post, which you can find linked from my last Friday's rant. Evidently, there is a frustration building in Obama's apparent inability to do anything other than seek reconciliation, and, if the excerpts from the letters are any indication, mostly among older white, educated Americans. What will we call these folks - the Cigar and Cognac Party? the Fresh Ground Coffee Party? the I've Been Reading the Constitution For Over Forty Years Party?:
If he caves in once more and allows the tax cuts for the wealthy to be extended, even temporarily, I will give up. After 50 years of voting Democratic in every national election, I will just stay home in 2012.

If the country is going to deteriorate as a result of bad government policy, I would rather let the Republicans take the whole blame and look for another Democratic leader, one with enough backbone to defend important principles.

Patrick Cassidy
Mr. Obama’s campaign vow to rise above partisanship was much more than mere talk; he seeks to rise above all conflict and become the person who reconciles the divided parties: the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Pakistanis and the Indians, as well as the Democrats and the Republicans closer to home.

It is my serious concern that the president, far from being either aloof or humble, has all along thought of himself not as a political leader struggling to make his point of view prevail, but as a man of peace, with an almost divine mission.

Carl Schiffman
Perhaps it is time for the president to learn how to be the authoritative leader that this country craves and spare the American people the chaos that so often results from democratic, permissive parenting, which may well have led to the loss of faith in his leadership that Paul Krugman laments.

Aviva Bock
President Obama’s quest for civil discourse might do well in the halls of academia, but not in the world of politics. Lobbyists continue to run wild. The health care bill was watered down because the president let others define it. He dithered for months over Afghanistan.

Now he is taking a conciliatory stance regarding the Bush tax cuts to appease the new majority that never worked with him and will do everything to stymie all of his initiatives.

Mr. President, you were elected to change the Washington status quo and lead us forward. Please do both.

Richard M. Frauenglass
So, what do you think? Is Obama wimping out and needs a spinal tap injection? Do we need a president sporting more wood than Tiger Woods? Will we let the obstructive policies of the "just say no" Republicans turn us into the most hypocritical nation on the earth? If the newest bunch of Congressmen have any spine either, they will continue to cause waves and just say no to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, especially if they hope to achieve anything substantial over the next two years...

But, who am I kidding? A newly released report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as reported in the Denver Post: "found that 45 million experienced some form of mental illness in 2009, from major depression to problems such as suicide attempts. Fewer than four in 10 received treatment for their mental-health condition.

The survey found a strong link between mental-health problems and alcoholism and drug abuse. Mental illness was also more likely among the unemployed, young adults and women. Overall, more than 8 million had serious thoughts of suicide and 1 million tried to carry them out." About 20% of our population is clinically depressed, which corresponds roughly to the percentage of voters who voted for a tea party candidate. Does that mean that those states where the tea party won bigtime are also clinically depressed? It would explain Arizona and Texas, though I would also throw in any correlation to anyone who thinks they are still a cowboy after the age of five...

"Look at me, I'm a cowboy, yep, yep, yep"

On the foreign policy front, which will be more detrimental to US - Russian relations: John Kyl's refusal to allow the non-proliferation agreement to come for a vote until next year, or the successful extradition of Viktor Bout from Thailand to a US courtroom, where he pleaded not guilty to arms trading with terrorists... Bout sold guns to all sides in every conflict for years and years, and the Russians do not want him talking about his connections to their military arsenals. You can tell how unhappy they are by the amount of protesting they already are doing, trying to block the extradition and putting out news stories that he is just an innocent businessman. There are several books and movies in his story, it should make riveting courtroom drama... One book already published about him is called "Merchant of Death."

Both the Russians and the Chinese have been having a hard time controlling the content that is leaked to the Internet, thank God. Stories about official corruption, and in many cases where officials get away with beating the crap out of people, or even murder, have not been able to be contained in the old, normal ways. where you threaten journalists, their newspapers, or the television stations trying to disseminate the story. In China, we see where an activist is put in jail for crimes against the state, only to have that journalist win the Nobel Peace Prize. In Russia, it's not quite as embarrassing, but often a story will work its way all the way up to Dmitry Medvedev's attention, and then he has to make some false promise to look into it or make changes. It has led to the replacement of a couple of mayors and one police chief, so perhaps the Russian system of public humiliation works better than the Chinese version. It's also more dangerous, where several journalists have been killed, from being pushed off of rooftops to toxic poisoning by a radioactive substance, good old fashioned mafiya-style killings and maimings suitable for made-for-television movies... So, cheer the Internet, cheer news websites, even cheer us poor old bloggers, who may not be on the front lines making the news, but would rather comment on it with a good cup of coffee while it snows outside...

Murdered Russian Journalists

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