Saturday, December 31, 2011

A time for reflection ....

I was struck that this week's Jack Kelly column doesn't really have any distortions of general history or reality. He talks about the Republican candidates and the race in Iowa. He confesses at one point to not being for any of them (but ...). On the other hand, I was also struck by how much Kelly seems to be toeing the Tea Party line. Kelly expresses no interest in ideas or policy; his primary criteria for evaluating the candidates is how conservative they are. He goes through each of them, eventually declaring Santorum the least objectionable.

Kelly evidently doesn't think much of the libertarian Ron Paul; describing him in this way in this paragraph: "Rep. Paul has zero chance to win the nomination. His libertarian positions on economic issues are popular, but his anti-military, anti-Israel foreign policy views appeal mostly to crackpots."

Kelly goes on to dismiss Paul as not able to even be nominated, let alone elected. I am not sure whether Kelly's evaluation of Paul's positions amount to distortions of reality (partly because I have trouble understanding what constitutes Paul's view of libertarianism), but apparently they don't work for the Tea Party.

Glenn Greenwald takes an interesting view of the comparison of Ron Paul's and Barack Obama's respective foreign and domestic security policies. He stridently claims that he is not endorsing or even supporting any particular candidate in that column. Which makes me feel a bit better, because Greenwald totally slams Obama, especially in comparison with Ron Paul.

Greenwald's column at some point almost sounds like the Declaration of Independence in listing Obama's ... well, essentially crimes against humanity and liberty. "He has slaughtered civilians", "He has institutionalized the power of Presidents — in secret and with no checks — to target American citizens for assassination-by-CIA, far from any battlefield", "He has waged an unprecedented war against whistleblowers" and "His obsession with secrecy is so extreme that it has become darkly laughable" This goes on for a couple more paragraphs, complete with links to more in depth pieces on each issue. The point Greenwald goes on to make is that (ironically?) Ron Paul essentially opposes each of the things Obama has done, yet progressives support Obama (essentially without qualification) and oppose Rom Paul (essentially without qualification).

Now, I have to say we do not live in a fantasy world; I do not believe there will ever be a candidate or elected President who absolutely embraces all the values of progressives (or conservatives or whomever). Actually, there are (as there surely must be) a couple of purist candidates - Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul come to mind. Both have devoted and dedicated followers, but I have to say that it seems unlikely either would ever get a majority of American voters behind them. You know, there is always the idea people have that if all of the American voters were exposed to Kucinich's views or Ron Paul's views ... yada yada. I think that even a majority of American voters don't care that much about politics, which by the way is why it usually works better to scare people than to give them issues in depth. Not that voters are stupid, they just aren't that interested in economic schools of thought, for example.

I have to say that at one point Greenwald does make the lesser of two evils argument, sort of acknowledging that it is somewhat legitimate. What apparently bothers Greenwald the most is that national Democrats and the press won't even mention the actual evils that Obama has embraced.

Our country is in trouble economically, there are problems abroad economically and yes, there are still foreign policy challenges. But the economic debates do not involve what might be actual solutions (according to Paul Krugman) and the real foreign policy and domestic rights issues are not even being raised, according to Glenn Greenwald. So what happens if you are interested in real solutions for our real problems?

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