Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Understanding Bin Laden

MARINES: It’s God’s Job to forgive bin Laden, it’s our job to arrange the meeting.

Whose job is it to understand bin Laden?

Let me be crystal clear. When I ask this question I am not asking it as if I was a psychotherapist, and I am not operating out of a deep concern for how Osama is feeling or whether he was beaten as a child. I am asking it because I have not eschewed critical thinking and analysis as unimportant, troublesome, more work than they are worth, or the refuge of pansies. I am asking it because I do not believe we are addressing the problem of terrorism until we try to answer this question. I am asking it because I won't feel anything close to comfortable until a many more people are also worrying about this question and its answer.

Many Americans, and to a disturbing extent the last two administrations, have viewed the war on terrorism as if it was a football game and terrorists as if they were the opposing team. Our goal is to beat the terrorists, and their goal is to beat us.

The football analogy doesn’t work, however. In a football game, the teams may have different strategies, but they have the same goal. They want to win the game. Terrorists don’t just want to win the game, and of course the same is true for us. We want regional stability, low gas prices, access to and control over natural resources, markets for our goods, etc. Terrorists have goals too, and it’s not just to destroy the United States. Many of these goals, and the grievances and desires they arise out of, are legitimate. The means being used to achieve may not be legitimate, but the goals and grievances often are. The United States did help bring Saddam to power in Iraq. The United States has had a military presence in Saudi Arabia and beyond. The United States has given tremendous amounts of support to Israel. There has been mistreatment of Arabs and Muslims in the United States. American leaders were unprepared to run Iraq, did allow violence and looting to take place and did fall short when it came to providing basic services. And Iraqis were mistreated. And America’s commitment to rights and freedoms did seem to waver when it came to time to grant them to their enemies, people who might have information about their enemies, and, in the eyes of many, Muslims. American companies have had a lot of influence in the region, and have been involved in activities that anyone, regardless of party affiliation, would have to admit were wrong.

Now, you don’t have to agree with any of the above. It doesn’t matter what you think. It doesn't even matter whether these concerns are at all legitimate. What matters is whether people in the region think that way. If they do, they are more likely to turn to terrorism. If they do, then it is our responsibility to find out why and see what changes can be made to stop them from thinking that way. It is in our own best interests to do so.

Now, I know that the soldiers can't always trouble themselves with such concerns. They have a job to do. The reality is, though, that many soldiers do have these concerns. Many soldiers are trying to understand the country they are fighting in and the people they are protecting. We all, soldiers and the rest of us, need to extend that concern to the people we are fighting.

Understanding bin Laden is everyone's job.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Big Government and Burglary

My parents’ house was broken into today, and for me it drove home the ridiculousness of the fixation on big government and onerous regulation. Someone crawled in their kitchen window left open by the cleaning lady, and helped themselves to the big screen television, the laptop, and a few heirlooms. It certainly isn’t the first robbery ever committed, and it won’t be the last. People can’t be trusted not to take things that belong to others. Regardless of the justifications given for and merits of such acts, they will continue to happen as long as we are human. Likewise, when companies are allowed to self-regulate, there will be those who will take shortcuts to profit, and there will be oil spills and financial collapses. When industry is allowed to control worker hours, wages, and workplace conditions, there are sweat shops. What government can do is protect us and our property from greed and short term thinking. The size of government is immaterial to that task. The effectiveness of government is what matters. People will always be people. That’s why we have governments in the first place. People will always people, that’s why we need to be reminded why we have governments. It would be nice if there was a way to remind folks short of breaking into their homes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

God Is Pro Life - More Bumper Sticker Nonesense

"God is Pro Life"

"And the LORD said unto me, Fear him not: for I will deliver him, and all his people, and his land, into thy hand; and thou shalt do unto him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon. So the LORD our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left to him remaining. And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these cities [were] fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many. And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city." Deuteronomy 3:2-6.

This is, of course, but one example. I could fill a whole website with quotes from the bible about beating babies, killing sinners, drowning a whole world, etc. All of which were, at the very least, sanctioned by God. So the God of the Bible is many things, and pacifist or monk aren't among them. The God each of us worship is many things, and not the same things. It seems, at best, naive to state without any evidence, discussion, or support that God is anything at all. How could a human being know what God is?

I know that a bumper sticker is a tough place to engage in a theological debate, but maybe Christians should stick to the legless Darwin fish. And maybe people who believe abortion is wrong (probably most of us) should leave behind the platitudes, even the ones based in truth, and engage one another in meaningful dialogue that starts with the understanding that: the Bible is complex, religion is complex, people are complex, black and white statements are rarely accurate, and there are a number of steps that could be taken to lessen the number of people who seek abortions that have nothing to do with constitutional amendments or overturning Roe v. Wade.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Our legal system at work: Ahmed Gailani; Guantanamo Detainees; Civilian Courts; and American Justice

Ahmed Ghailani was found guilty on only one of two hundred and eighty charges. Ghailani was the first of the Guantanamo detainees to be tried. He isn’t the first accused criminal to not be found guilty of some charges. The result in this trial doesn’t prove that civilian courts are the wrong place to try terrorists. It proves that the government still has to prove its case. It proves that people accused of crimes still have to be proven guilty. It proves that, in our system, people are still presumed innocent. It proves that the freedoms we take great pride in, that we claim set us apart, and that we want others to adopt really do apply to everyone regardless of whether it is expedient or popular. The bottom line here is that the appropriateness of civilian trials cannot be predicated on the result of the trial. Otherwise, what you are saying is that civilian trials only work if the accused are always found guilty. That, isn’t just un-American … it’s absurd.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cigarettes in Pictures

There is a new pack of cigarettes coming, which will be half covered with gruesome pictures of cancer stricken lungs and people smoking out of their throats. I don’t have any major objection to this. I suppose it can’t hurt, but I do wonder whether this latest effort misses something. Is there anyone who doesn’t know that smoking can kill you? Is there anyone that hasn’t run across pictures like the ones that will be on the packs of cigarettes? Haven’t we already relegated smokers to sad little clusters fifteen feet from any doorway in any and every type of weather? Doesn’t already cost as much to buy cigarettes as it does to fill up your car with gasoline … maybe more? Is staring at a gruesome picture really going to make a difference? Will it make nicotine less addictive? Will it counter peer pressure? Will it give them more education ad a higher income? 5.7% of adults with a graduate degree smoke. 10.6% of adults with a college degree smoke. 41.3% of adults with a GED smoke. 19.6% of adults at or above the poverty level smoke. 31.5% of adults who live below the poverty level smoke. Maybe we need to think more about what numbers like these mean. Maybe we should be focusing more on encouraging education, and less on glossy pictures. Maybe we should also think more about why people smoke, why people have smoked since before white people came to America. Maybe that might help inform our efforts to decrease the number of smokers. Maybe there are some more questions to be asked and answered.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quick Question on Tax Cuts

Voters were clearly angry. It’s not clear to me, however, that this anger had as its root cause the threatened cessation of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Was there really a ground swell of support for a return to trickle-down economics? I know that everyone wants to make sure that if he or she is suddenly discovered by Ron Howard or Bill Belichick he won’t be victimized by high taxes … but was that really what pushed Democrats out of office? Is there really a mandate for keeping those tax cuts?

"If you can read this thank a teacher. If you can read this in English thank a soldier."

"If you can read this thank a teacher. If you can read this in English thank a soldier."

If you can read this bumper sticker phrase in Russian, Chinese, or Spanish, thank your lucky stars. Actually, if you could read this message in anything other than English you probably aren't an American.

I'm all for thanking everyone, but what do soldiers really have to do with the preservation of the English language? We won our independence from England, and last I checked they spoke something that is enough like English that we wouldn't have noticed much of a difference. Now, I suppose early on there were threats from the French, but realistically they weren't in a position to control the New World. Besides, French is a much prettier language than English. It's a romance language after all. We might be better off speaking French. The French would be better off. If you want to go way back, I suppose there was a threat of Danish or Swedish or some other Nordic language, but I don't know what soldier I would thank for that. Now there is the Civil War ... what do they speak in the South? Was Hitler going to race across the Ocean and impose an even uglier language on us? Was there a real Japanese threat of conquest and colonization? Was Stalin going to flood the United States with Russian speakers after the Soviet Union bested us in battle? Maybe we could have all ended up Arabic speakers, although I'm not sure how.

Reality is such an unromantic downer of a party pooper, but in reality even if we were conquered English would probably survive. Some new words might appear, but by and large conquered peoples in this day and age don't start speaking the language of their conquerors. Conquest doesn't have to mean a change in language.

Personally I'd rather thank Shakespeare for English. Call me crazy. Without Will, I don't think I would want to speak English. And I'd thank my parents and their parents and so on. And I'd throw in a shout out to writers, poets, newspaper publishers, and corporations who have brought the English language to every corner of the globe and made it an indispensable tool for living a normal life in many many places in the world.

And I'd thank teachers ... for this and a lot more.

I'm not against thanking soldiers, anyone who makes sacrifices to help their country and their countrymen deserve our thanks. Of course, these thanks go out to more than just soldiers. Community organizers, politicians, people who work for non-profits, medical researchers, and scientists and inventors have all made equivalent sacrifices.

If we thank soldiers out of guilt because in recent memory we have mistreated them upon their arrival home or because the armed forces are less than representative of our whole society ... we should stop, there are other ways we can deal with all of that.

So, stick to thanking teacher's for English and try recognizing soldiers for who they are, thanking them for what they do, and giving them some help. If you are ambitious, try working to change who becomes a soldier and what it means to be a soldier. You could even try working to recognize contributions of other Americans ... but that might be pushing it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Just Say No ... to innuendo, fallacy, and folks like Jack Kelly

The time has come for us to reject arguments that are laced with innuendo and supported by fallacies, regardless of what the conclusion is or who is making them. We have to focus on addressing one another with arguments that are clear, are supported by real evidence, avoid personal insults, address the issues, and are easy to understand and respond to. We have to demand that politicians, columnists, pundits, mailmen, and baristas give us these kinds of arguments. We have to visit people like Jack Kelly, whoever he is, with ridicule, derision, and censure when they offer us arguments like the one he does under the title of “The many reasons Obama might not seek re-election.” (http://www.jewishworldreview.com/1110/jkelly111510.php3)

I’m not sure there is an actual conclusion in here, but there is plenty of innuendo and fallacy. The idea that Obama might not seek re-election seems to have been invented, because there is no evidence offered up for it. The whole article seems to have been concocted out of thin air. Mr. Kelly calls Biden a buffoon and Obama lazy (“The gossip from supposed insiders is that he doesn’t like the job very much (it involves more work than he’s used to).” He offers no support for this slander either. He alludes several times to the ‘fact’ that voters found all of Obama’s policies repugnant, but offers no support for that generalization. He says he is being compared to Richard Nixon, but doesn’t say how. He says working class whites won’t vote for Obama, but doesn’t offer any support for that contention or any details at all. Most importantly, he seems to overlook the fact that Obama isn’t the first president to watch his party lose partial (or total) control over Congress (Reagan and Clinton are in this group). He makes the cardinal mistake of assuming that the political landscape will remain unchanged over the next two years, which given the last two years seems a little na├»ve.

The bottom line is that: Jack Kelly isn’t interested in solving a problem; Jack Kelly is interested in ridiculing democrats; and thus, we (people who like logic and reason) shouldn’t be interested in Jack Kelly except to force him out of publication.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Quote and Counter-Quote

"There Was Never a Good War or a Bad Peace" - Benjamin Franklin

My response ... "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin.

Wait, that's the wrong quote, here are the right ones ... "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!" & "Even peace may be purchased at too high a price."

Quotes can be dangerous, because whoever it is you are quoting probably said something else. And it's possible, as in this case, that the person may have even acted in a way that was contrary to the words you are quoting. Benjamin Franklin tried to find a peaceful resolution to the problems between the colonies and England, but when that didn't work he supported the war effort.

And even if he had said nothing contrary, and acted in every way consistently with this statement, the bumper sticker reprinting it would still be flawed. First of all, Any statement that pertains to human beings and uses words like always or never is ... usually ... false. There is ... usually ... an exception for every rule. And context (what, when, where, etc.) is almost always important in determining human outcomes.

Second, the idea that there can't be a bad peace is so obviously silly that there isn't much to say about it, as long as peace means the absence of conflict. If you include things like fairness, equality, etc. in peace, than the statement might be right but you have an overly broad definition of peace. If you don't include these things, then imagine yourself standing next to Neville Chamberlin as he says "My good friends, this is the second time there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Now I recommend you go home, and sleep quietly in your beds." Or imagine yourself in a marriage shorn of love, affection, and empathy. Now, what was that about there not being a bad peace?

Third, while war always has costs, sometimes it is necessary and the result hard to describe as bad. Intervention in Bosnia might be an example. The liberation of concentration camps comes to mind. And, back to Benjamin Franklin, was the American Revolution a bad war?

So, if you want to put a Benjamin Franklin quote on a bumper sticker, this may not be the best choice. If you don't drink beer, here is another suggestion:

"Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man." - Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Joe Biden said today that veterans are the “spine of our nation.” Doug Gottlieb, guest hosting an ESPN morning show, said that it was because of soldiers that we can sleep well at night. Many talked of thanking soldiers for all that they do. Most of what was said was quite unremarkable. It is what wasn’t said that interests me.

I heard nothing said about who is being thanked, and who isn’t. I know the Heritage Foundation has said that there is no demographic difference between military recruits and the general population, but the Heritage Foundation is not exactly impartial. Plus, their conclusions were extrapolated from data based on zip code, which isn’t that useful. I want to know how many of the people doing the thanking are thanking soldiers for doing a job they had no interest in doing. I want to if the people being thanked are truly representative of those doing the thanking. I also would like to hear more about why people join the military, and more in the way of a discussion of the best ways to choose soldiers.

I heard very little curiosity regarding soldier’s experiences, particularly soldiers’ experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last ten years. It almost seems as if most of us would like to thank them, and leave it at that. Some of us would like to bring them home, and leave it at that. We want to leave it at thank you. We don’t want to understand them or their experiences. Maybe we can’t, but we’re not very interested in even trying.

I seldom hear thanks being given to the others who work to keep our democracy strong, people like teachers, social workers, community organizers, foster-parents … lawyers. To be honest, I don’t hear enough thanks at the grocery store check out, but that’s not where I want to go here. The deployment of troops is not all that has made America. For that matter, the contribution of many soldiers only started during their service. It may not be a good thing to have too much acknowledgement of the force and violence side of democracy. It may help to dictate a certain kind of action and involvement in the future.

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t be thankful for veterans. It is just to say that we should understand more about who we thank and who we don’t, why we thank them, and what we are thanking them for.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"What Part of Thou Shalt Not Kill Don't You Understand?"

"What Part of Thou Shalt Not Kill Don't You Understand?"

More of it than anyone who would ever put this bumper sticker on their car as a protest against abortion does. I understand it well enough to know that it is a rule that no generation of human beings will ever be able to follow, and no critical thinker would ever want to be enforced.

The first limiting factor is pretty obvious. This is a statement that few mean to apply to all living things, and certainly not to the Cows, Chickens, Pigs, Sheep, Fish, and Bison that go into Pot Roast, Bacon, Burgers, Tacos, and Aspic.

Next, what about people killed in self defense?

What about war?

The death penalty?

The use of condoms?

I think it is clear that the fetus is alive. But does that mean that there can be no abortions? Choices have always been made that determine life and death. They're going to keep on being made. This is one of them. If you don't like abortion, work to lessen the number of people who seek them by handing out condoms, providing more sex ed, improving the quality of a of public school education, or changing socio-economic realities. If you are arguing against abortion, come up with better arguments. They are possible.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The Republicans, newly in power in the House, are clamoring to repeal 'Obamacare.' Many ordinary Americans are also clamoring for it's repeal. The health care reform bill is the object of much fear and anger. It has truly caused an uproar. What it hasn't caused is much in the way of alternatives. People are falling all over themselves to call for its repeal, but no one is talking about what their approach would be. This is just a continuation of the pattern that was laid down during debate over the bill. Opponents focused on scaring people into opposing it, rather than engaging the bills proponents with their own ideas and solutions, or (gasp) some hint of the spirit of collaboration. You'd think that Republicans were fighting to maintain the status quo. You wouldn't think that would be a popular position. You wouldn't think very many people are happy with the status quo. You wouldn't think ... and maybe that's the problem.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Colin Cowherd and What's Wrong With Politics

Colin Cowherd isn't a politician, but he could be. He's got one part down pat. He lives in a black and white world.

Colin Cowherd, if you have the fortune of not knowing, is a sports radio and television personality. He has a radio show and a television show on ESPN. Last week he made some waves for slamming rookie point guard John Wall for dancing before a game. His comments were ridiculous, baseless, and from out of left field. I have read some good criticisms of his tirade, like this one: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcsportsbog/2010/11/colin_cowherd_rants_on_john_wa.html.

I am not interested in critiquing Cowherd's comments. I am only interested in commenting on his critique. The essence of his critique of John Wall is he is like Stephon Marbury rather than Magic Johnson (who by the way recently did the same dance). Cowherd's whole tirade assumed that there are really only two possibilities for point guards. They either end up being Magic Johnson or Stephon Marbury.

The world, of course, is not really this black and white. There are a lot of Derek Fishers, Ron Harpers, and Jason Williams out there. There is also more than one interpretation of John Wall's dance. John Wall himself can not be summed up by a dance and a misread box score. The world is a nuanced and complex place.

Colin Cowherd has made a career of reducing the world to extremes. Either Boise State is getting jobbed by the system or Auburn is. It can't possibley be both. If someone disagrees with him, it is because he is a loser in every other facet of his life. He often talks of the world as a place populated by people who get it and people who don't; people who are successes and those who will never amount to anything and are the butt of jokes at their office watercooler. Colin Cowherd's ignorance is of very little importance, as long as he sticks to sports. If he choses to join some of his likeminded brethren in politics, then he would become more important, in a negative way.

There is still plenty to worry about as it is, however, because there are plenty of folks who see the world in black and white and are involved in politics. These are the folks who call people socialists if they disagree with them on health care. These are the people who pledge never to raise taxes. These are the folks who want to ban all abortions without giving a single thought to why people get abortions. These are the people who talk of an axis of evil, and of Muslims as if they are all a part of it. These are the folks who call America a Christian nation. These are the people who take these simplistic black and white pictures of the world, and sell them to the American public along with a portion of hate and a heaping of fear.

The bottom line is that John Wall won't be either Magic Johnson or Stephon Marbury. He will be John Wall. If we care to know who that is, we will have to do more than watch him dance and read a few lines from a box score. Similarly, in order to understand health care we will have to know more than our own party affiliation and how to type or say "obamacare." The world is not in black and white, and if we see it that way we are missing something.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What they should have done

I think Democrats running for Senate and House seats should have owned the last two years of decisions. They should have boldly laid claim to the programs. Admitted what hasn't worked, and stressed that these are long term efforts. They needed to do more than just blame Republicans for not coming to the table to gelp craft solutions, although that was important. They needed to say here is what we did, here is why we did it, here is what we expect to do now, here is what we expect to be the result, and if you don't like it then don't vote for me ... but oh by the way, before you vote for the other guy you ought to ask what thier plan is. I think it would be so refreshing to have a politician do this, that it just might work.

Friday, November 5, 2010

High Speed Rail: Change That Should Matter

Several new Republican governors are already preparing to kill nascent high speed rail projects in their states. It was actually a campaign promise. These projects are funded by stimulus dollars, and are part of a high profile effort by the Obama Administration to improve rail transportation across the country. If you’ve ridden on Amtrack and ridden trains in Europe or Japan, you know there is a lot of room for improvement. Trains can also play an important role in a greener energy and transportation systems. There are good reasons to support these programs. I’m not as familiar with the good reasons to oppose them. Yes, there are other projects that could be funded. But killing Obama’s program and trying to sabotage the Administration’s attempts at a recovery that they could lay claim to would seem to be the driving reasons behind opposing high speed rail projects. I would like to see a debate on the merits of these programs, but I’m not expecting one. The Republicans aren’t interested in any kind of substantive debate and the Democrats aren’t interested in really forcing the issue as opposed to just whining about the situation. A debate on this issue, to borrow the Democrat’s slogan, would be “change that matters.” I don’t think we’re going to get change that matters.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sparky Anderson and Politics

I had a physical reaction when I learned that Sparky Anderson had passed away. I had little goose bumps all over my body and was a little short of breath. The shortness of breath might have been my asthma ... but it wasn't asthma that made me feel sad. It also wasn't logic, which reveals one big problem we have with politics in this or any other country. It is not natural for humans to be logical. Baseball is my least favorite sport. I follow it because I follow all sports, but I would rather watch marbles (which I have actually watched on ESPN before ... sad, but true). I'm from Flint, MI, but I've been to one Tigers game my whole life. I don't watch games on television either. I don't know George (Sparky) on a first name basis, or any basis. He doesn't remind me of my dad or granddad. There is no logical reason I should be especially touched, but I am. Partly because of manipulation by sports writers and partly because humans are illogical. That is the problem we have with politics too. It's all about illogical humans and their manipulation. Today it's all about Sparky, and as aware of my manipulation as I am, I really feel that's the way it should be. Which is the problem.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We Need a Change

We need a movement. We need a party. We need to make a change. Yes we do, but can we?

First of all, who are we? Well, to start with we are critical thinkers. We value logic. We are the people who aren’t swayed by vague appeals to fight big government and protect the Constitution. We know there is no need to take back the country. We know we can, but we’re not sure what we’re saying yes to. We would love to pick up a sign and join a rally, but the only one any of us can find that is worth joining is led by a comedian. Even that one doesn’t appeal to all of us, only the sarcastic liberals. We are more than just sarcastic liberals. We have been labeled all kinds of things, including conservative, Republican, independent, and socialist. We are united mostly by our desire to solve problems and our willingness to compromise.

Second, what needs to be changed? This question is a tougher one to answer. We have a sense that some of what frustrates us has always been that way. We also, however, have a sense that it doesn’t need to keep being that way. We also know that some of the problems we face are new.

One thing that has to be changed is the current polarized nastiness which prevails among the people and their elected representatives. There needs to be a lot less emphasis on hate. Also, most of us aren’t in high school anymore, so we shouldn’t be acting as if we are part of a competition for prom queen and everyone is out to steal our boyfriend. There are real problems to be solved. We need to put less emphasis on personal lives and putdowns, and more emphasis on the issues and working to solve them. We need less competition and more collaboration.

Another thing that needs to be changed is the level of interest/education among the electorate. This is particularly true in the age of the internet, where information comes to and goes out from the electorate with greater ease than ever before. The success of the Tea Party proves has brought this problem into full view. We need more educated consumers of politics, people who understand that taxes need to be raised once in a while and that government has a role to play in our lives.

Third, how do we make a change? This is the toughest question of all. In general, we will make a change by coming together, if not in a party than in a movement. This leads to the bigger question, how do we come together? How do we come together when we don’t agree on all the issues? The first step would be to agree on the process we need to use in order to reach decisions. Process is critically important. Maybe we also need to lay out some general principles we all could agree on. Some possibilities might be efficient government, equal treatment of all religions, and the prioritizing of freedom of speech.

The need is clear, but the rest is not. The need is clear enough though, that we need to start working on the rest. We need to start working on the rest right away.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Taxes: Not the Work of the Devil

Taxes aren't evil. You know all those things you want: nice roads, good schools, beautiful parks, a safety net in troubled times, protection from terrorism, protections for wildlife ... Those things cost money. Most people say they want those things, and don't want to pay taxes. It just doesn't work that way. And any politician who pledges to never raise taxes is stupid, or not telling the truth, or more interested in being elected than in solving problems. And if you fall for it, then you get what you deserve.

Monday, November 1, 2010

You get what you get and you don't throw a fit

We're about to do it to ourselves again. We want politicians to be above politics. We don't want them to play partisan games. We want them to put the interests of the country before their own interest in being reelected. When they do these things, we vote them out of office. If they try to really solve problems, which often requires taking on challenges that won't be met within an election cycle, they run the risk of losing their jobs. We say we want leaders who are interested in something more than their own job, but we give them no one any incentive to be that kind of leader. This year, we are on the verge of rewarding a failure to engage in dialogue, compromise, and real problem solving. I don't think the Democrats have done a stupendous job solving problems, nor have all Democrats been above playing politics rather than trying to solve problems, but generally they have done a better job than Republicans, who are in danger of becoming the party of vague innuendo. If we want better leadership, we need to ask for it and we need to accept it and reward it when it is given to us. Until that happens, we shouldn't complain.