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Reality Check: No Matter Who Wins The Election, We’re Still Screwed

August 26th, 2008 | by Ken Grandlund |

(photo credit

Convention fever is lighting up the 2008 presidential elections here in the United States- the time for the major political parties to formally nominate their candidates for the general election, for the party faithful to gather and pat each other on the back while mending wounds inflicted during the primaries, and for the political poobahs to flower the nation with promises of a better world ahead. It is a time when the candidates will try and persuade us that they have the right vision and the right stuff to pull America out of the slump of economic decline, foreign war entanglements, and healthcare nightmares. It is a time when the Democrats and the Republicans will seek to prove that only they have the cure to America’s ills, the magic elixir that will make everything all right again.

As if…..

Folks, it’s time for a little reality check. This election is not about fixing America, per se, as much as it is about putting America on a new path forward. Truth of the matter is this: 8 years under George W. Bush (6 years with a compliant GOP Congress and the last 2 with a spineless DEM Congress) has turned the foundation of America on its head, divided the electorate more than ever before, created a less safe and more unstable world, bankrupted the national treasury, demolished our international reputation, and laid the path for continued ecologic and economic ruin and havoc. Of the two main choices for president this election year, one candidate will continue down this path with glee; the other, at best, can slow the forward momentum into the abyss and attempt to lay the groundwork for an altered tomorrow.

Here’s the rub…

Economic future- unless you are an oil company, or a high paid executive, or a politician, the economic outlook for the near future is gloomy. You’ve lost ground with the dollar, your property, and your wages at a time when energy costs have skyrocketed and boosted up the costs of all goods and services. Looking farther ahead, the treasury has reached record deficits and the congress keeps allowing themselves to spend more and raise the legal debt limits, meaning that your grandkids will be paying back China for the Iraq War and the recent questionable tax “rebates” among other things.  Social Security and Medicare are reaching insolvency.

Energy Supply- Despite spurious claims that drilling for oil in America will solve our short term energy problems, the fact is that our oil economy is headed for a brick wall. No amount of forewarning was heeded in America and the crux is that we will face serious lifestyle alterations fueled by an oil crisis. You think we have it tough now with gas at $4/gallon? If we continue to resist a changed course these may well seem like good times, vis-a-vis our energy needs. Our national ignorance and lassaiz-faire attitude towards oil usage and all that is incumbent on its availability will create a serious fault in the foundation of the American dream. It will happen, and the longer we delay real, serious alternatives, the worse the fall will be.

International relationships- The War in Iraq was by far the worst international ploy ever undertaken by an American administration. It has made an already dangerous region even more unstable, zapped American military strength and reputation to the point of paralysis when other world situations arise. Our presence in that debacle has emboldened Russia to return to its own empire building machinations and oil resource power plays. The Bush “with us or against us” mantra has alienated former allies and ignited other regions to become more active foes. And the duplicity with which this “policy” has been applied has further damaged our reputation as champions of freedom and democratic values.

Internal Damage- From illegal domestic spying to politicizing the Justice Department to appointing inept cronies to important positions of responsibility to outsourcing federal responsibilities to mercenary corporations to playing theater with national security….the damage Bush has done to America is both immense and self-perpetuating. Decades of dismantling the messes Bush has purposely created will be required to put this country back on an even keel.

Make no mistake- of the two plausible contenders for president, neither can come close to achieving the promises they put forth. No, wait a minute…actually McCain could. But that’s only because he promises to continue down the path Bush has forged. And with the reality being that the make-up and mental attitude of Congress will not change dramatically this election, a McCain presidency modeled after Bush would almost certainly accelerate the disaster we’re already ensconced in.

For Obama, the task is much harder. Campaigning on the mantle of change, he has raised the expectations of his base and the rest of the nation to a level of unreality. As usual, most Americans live on the sound bites without seeking to know or understand the reality behind the lens. Politicians know the reality but just don’t give much of a damn. They seek to get and hold power. And while Obama may indeed by a new breed of politician, one who actually cares about service over power and politics, his hands are as tied by Bush’s misdeeds as McCain’s mouth is watering to be the next big GOP failure.

In 2006, I wrote a post about what I expected from the Democrats once the regained a majority in Congress. To my chagrin, they have done nothing of substance to change our path and indeed have continued to abet Bush in his own calamitous course. These same folks will continue to make up the majority of our law making body. If McCain succeeds in the election, they will continue to bluster while making few efforts at change. They may stall some policy plans, but in the end, the will either acquiesce or spend time making political hay and further alienating Americans from their government. If Obama can win, he’ll spend the next four years having to explain why his promises haven’t become reality and fending off GOP attack dogs.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m going with Obama. I think that his view for the future is infinitely more palatable that that of McCain. But this time, when the Democrats regain the White House, and when they achieve a slightly larger congressional majority, the best I think I can hope for is 4 years of repair work. The real change I seek isn’t universal health care in 4 years or an immediate withdrawal from Iraq or a realistic and viable energy policy. And it’s not that these things aren’t desperately needed. It’s just that those aims aren’t realistic.

The best we can hope for is some restoration of common sense governance and principled public service. We need a leader who is not only willing to propose and make changes, but who can guide us through the painful times ahead…who can not only make this country understand the need for serious and drastic changes in the way things work, but who can bring us to accept those changes as necessary for a better future for our children and the dream of real freedom and democracy. In short, we need a leader who will make us finally face the truth that how we’ve been doing things can’t continue and then do something about it.

If McCain becomes the next president, we’re totally screwed. If Obama becomes the next president, we’re still screwed, but maybe less so. For at least Obama recognizes that the status quo is broken and seems willing to change things.

Hope and Change? More like hope FOR change. Our path is unsustainable by any measure. We need to abandon this path completely. McCain charges ahead down the path to ruin. Obama at least seems ready and willing to make a new path altogether.

(cross posted at Common Sense)

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  1. 13 Responses to “Reality Check: No Matter Who Wins The Election, We’re Still Screwed”

  2. By Craig R. Harmon on Aug 26, 2008 | Reply

    I think that it’s true that we’re skrewed no matter who’s elected. We have one Democratic presidential candidate threatening televisions stations not to run an ad that ties Obama to unrepentant domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers and threatening to go to the Department of Justice to investigate the group who made the ad using, in part at least, a bill co-sponsored by one Republican presidential candidate that, in my opinion, unconstitutionally restricts American citizens from banding together, pooling their resources and airing political speech that incumbent officials don’t want spoken or heard…which brings us back to Obama.

    Seriously, if this is the state of the first amendment in this country, where we are seriously considering electing one of two candidates whose idea of the perfect Constitution is one WITHOUT free speech for American people, we truly are screwed no matter which gets elected.

    Although I’m convinced that there’s a marginally better chance that McCain’s SCOTUS picks will be less likely to uphold attempts on the part of government officials to restrict the political speech by Americans than will Obama’s picks. After all, at least McCain voted FOR Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito.

    As for the change Obama wants to give, I’ve looked as deeply into that abyss as his warm and fuzzy but surprisingly specific-free policy preferences will allow and I’m not interested in the least in his brand. McCain’s no prize either but he’s never been chosen by any independent watchdog group as the most liberal member of the Senate or given a 100% approval rating by NARAL Pro-Choice America so if I’ve got to bend over and take it up the backside, I’d prefer McCain be the one behind me.

  3. By rube cretin on Aug 26, 2008 | Reply

    i agree with your very sober analysis. One of the most difficult things to do is to govern with limited resources. Obama, if he is elected, has been left a very tough row to hoe. Best Hopes for Realistic Despair.

  4. By Ken Grandlund on Aug 26, 2008 | Reply

    Sure Craig, if you just listen to the sound bites from your favorite muck slingers, then Obama is “the most liberal” Senator. But if you actually look for some analysis, like here:

    you will find that Obama is not only NOT the most liberal, but that in fact he is just slightly left of the center mean for Democrats in the Senate today.

    As for a 100% rating from NARAL- which is pretty much a one issue race horse- that only shows that he respects a woman’s right to have biologic autonomy…hardly a bad thing in my book.

    Enjoy the Kool-aid my friend…apparently you prefer it laced with lies and served by a moronic half-wit named McCain- who BTW, has hardly ever “led” in any meaningful way- unless you count jumping aboard other people’s legislation to get a name for himself, never having a real job outside the federal government, and dumping one wife in favor of another who has lots of money in the bank as leadership.

  5. By Craig R. Harmon on Aug 26, 2008 | Reply

    By the way, here’s a link to an AP story on Obama’s tactics intended to mute Americans’ voices and, if possible, indict them for daring to make a connection to a guy who, darn it, just doesn’t think bombing the capital building in DC and the various other terrorist acts committed by the Weather Underground was enough. If Obama is this scared to have Americans hear of this connection, maybe he shouldn’t have kicked off his political career at the home of William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn or spent all those years chumming with Ayers like Ayers was just a respectable if somewhat out there liberal. Maybe he should be kicking himself rather than sicking the Department of Justice on Americans speaking their minds. If this is what Obama thinks the DoJ is for, he makes Bush II look like a piker at squelching dissent.

  6. By Craig R. Harmon on Aug 26, 2008 | Reply

    Sure, if you count National Journal as a muck slinger.

    This is the guy who voted against a bill that would have guaranteed medical attention to babies born live in the process of a botched abortion. Not even NARAL was against it. Obama’s even further left on Abortion than NARAL which, honestly, I didn’t think possible. Only one issue but his liberalism goes way beyond just respecting a woman’s right to kill her offspring before birth to respecting a doctor’s right to throw a live-born baby from a botched abortion into the trash and leave it there until it dies. How does anyone vote against a bill that would require doctors to give medical aid to live born babies?

    As my comment should, I’m certain, if you had actually read it with any comprehension, is quite Kool-Aid free. My disgust at McCain goes quite deep and I was quite sincere in finding McCain only slightly better than Obama on judical picks and free speech — an issue I see you ignored altogether. I am quite aware of McCain’s shortcomings.

    And there’s an alarming trend here at BIO! by posters in support of Obama to trash anyone who has anything negative to say about Obama. I hope it’s a trend that ends soon. It’s quite unseemly.

  7. By Craig R. Harmon on Aug 26, 2008 | Reply

    Dang. Forgot to link the AP article. Here it is.

  8. By Craig R. Harmon on Aug 26, 2008 | Reply

    And that’s quite bitter, that last paragraph, to someone who actually AGREED with your post, albeit for my own reasons. How you’d have trashed me if I’d actually DISAGREED with you, I can only imagine.

  9. By My Reference Frame on Aug 26, 2008 | Reply

    Excellent article.

  10. By My Reference Frame on Aug 26, 2008 | Reply

    I take that back. Excellent title. What makes you think President Obama is going to be any different than Speaker Pelosi? He won’t be. Go Ron Paul.

  11. By Ken Grandlund on Aug 26, 2008 | Reply

    Okay Craig- I relent in my comment to your own first comment, but your “agreement” only goes so far, and your choice of McCain over Obama for the reasons stated are to me more sound bite dribble than actual substance.

    The National Journal opinion is just that-opinion-and not based on a very comprehensive analysis of all votes cast AND those not voted on at all. Clearly, there are other Senators who are more liberal than Obama based on a total vote analysis.

    As for the stiffling of speech, I’m not clear on your claim, but I find it spurious coming from a GOPer considering the current state of GOP politics. I’ll have to read the link you provide.

    Neither politician is perfect by any means, but I’d rather go with someone who will try to change the state of affairs than one who intends to continue along this path.

  12. By Craig R. Harmon on Aug 26, 2008 | Reply

    Why would anyone base an analysis on what one did not vote for? A non-vote is nothing more than the absence of evidence and absence of evidence is evidence of nothing at all, one way or another. In fact, one of the criticisms of Obama is all of those “present” votes rather than yeh or nay. That may minimize the number of controversial votes that might be used against one in a presidential race but as a Senator, he’s not being paid to be present, he’s being paid to vote. They only give gold stars for perfect attendance in Kindergarten, not in the state or federal Senate. Votes not cast may be evidence, if it is evidence of anything, of lack of courage to go on record on an issue; it isn’t evidence of one’s stand on the issue so non-votes are, to my mind, irrelevant.

    As for stifling of speech, if you’ve paid any attention at all, despite my preference for GOP candidates in most races, I’ve been riding the free speech hobby horse since I’ve been commenting here. And I don’t find Democrats to be an inch superior to the GOP on the score of speech and press. The other named cosponsor of the McCain-Feingold bill was a Democrat and enough Congresscritters from both parties voted for THAT bit of free speech stifling to make neither party credible as the party of free speech so you take what’s available. But so far as I know, Bush never sicked the DOJ on anyone to investigate them for speaking things critical of him.

    And, of course, I didn’t comment with an eye to changing your mind but to explain my own slight preference for McCain. Given that you’re a progressive and I’m more of a classical liberal/conservative, it would be pretty inevitable that any agreement that we might come to would go only so far.

    Sandy was a Kool-Aid drinker. No one who’s been paying attention could consider me one.

  13. By Craig R. Harmon on Aug 28, 2008 | Reply

    Okay, I know this is off topic but this topic seems to have died out anyway and this is just neat!

    Scientists have successfully reprogrammed one type of adult cell into another type of adult cell. No embryos, not even any stem cells, just one adult cell into a different type cell, all with the introduction of three genes into the cell and within the body, not in a petri dish.

    Now for the caveats:

    1. The body in question is a mouse, not a human so success in one experiment, even if it can be replicated by other scientists in mice, doesn’t mean necessarily that it will work in humans.

    2. Also, it is just one type of cell into one other type of cell. The scientists haven’t demonstrated that they can turn ANY type of cell into any OTHER type of cell, even in mice. Therefore, even if this experiment, turning one type of cell, an ordinary pancreatic cell, into insulin producing cells in mice, can be done in humans, it doesn’t mean that the process can be pluripotent, as embryonic stem-cells are said to be so this success, even if replicable in humans, doesn’t mean that we’ve necessarily eliminated embryonic stem cell research as being an ethically questionable line of research that is made redundant by a new line of research that raises no ethical questions at all.

    Yet, anyway.

    It would be neat if scientists could find a way to eliminate embryos altogether and simply go about switching one type of human cell into other types.

    The thing with embryonic stem cells is their tendency to produce tumor like cells resulting in cancer, quite apart from the ethics of destroying human embryos.

    Anyway, a long way to go yet and it may not translate into human therapies but I found it quite interesting. It, apparently resulted in research based upon the ability to turn skin cells into embryonic-stem-cell-like stem cells, thus bypassing the embryo-destruction.

    The cells produced in the Harvard study produce insulin in the pancreas of diabetic mice. If this technique can be reproduced in humans, we could cure diabetes.

    That’s a big if, though, at least for now.

  14. By Craig R. Harmon on Aug 28, 2008 | Reply

    The sentence in the above comment that read:

    It, apparently resulted in research based upon the ability to turn skin cells into embryonic-stem-cell-like stem cells

    should have read:

    It, apparently, resulted from research based upon the ability to turn skin cells into embryonic-stem-cell-like stem cells

    Sorry for the confusion.

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