Archive for the 'McCain' Category

The Worst and the Dimmest

A couple of us at Broken Spines read McNamara’s In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam and we’re not sure whether McNamara ought to be vilified for his role as architect of the Vietnam War or forgiven because he regretted many of the decisions he made.  McNamara was part of the east coast establishment that JFK christened “the best and the brightest.”  They were arrogant technocrats that thought they could manage war like a business.  I suppose I could forgive him if he had really helped the country learn the lessons of Vietnam.  Donald Rumsfeld’s term as Secretary of Defense bears striking similarities to that of Robert McNamara–and he made all of the same mistakes–much to the shame of Robert McNamara.

John McCain wrote the foreword to David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest’s 20th Edition. In it McCain wrote:

It was a shameful thing to ask men to suffer and die, to persevere through god-awful afflictions and heartache, to endure the dehumanizing experiences that are unavoidable in combat, for a cause that the country wouldn’t support over time and that our leaders so wrongly believed could be achieved at a smaller cost than our enemy was prepared to make us pay.

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Truth, Lies, & Taboos… how dearly do they cost us?

I have been doing a lot of think lately about several of our societal taboos… specifically talking about religion, politics, and money.  I have always been a fan of the quote “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, which refers to the benefits of openness and transparency.  There was a further suggestion from Louis Grumet, Publisher of The CPA Journal, who offered “We should not only accept criticism and suggestions, we should embrace them.  If questions from constituents, the public, or the media make leaders or other responsible parties obfuscate, the questions are usually valid and the answers are not.  People who feel uncomfortable under the bright light of scrutiny and criticism often have something to hide.”

I am suggesting that this impartive not only holds true for politicians but for all of us and that by conforming to the norms and labeling subjects as taboo we are supporting prejudice, hatred, misinformation, lies, deceit, and unaccountability – we are letting these lies survive in the dark alleyway between Truth & Freedom.  When women like Gayle Quinnell of Shakopee suggested that she didn’t trust Senator Barack Obama and called him “an Arab” at a Lakeville, MN, McCain rally we all thought wow… did she just say that in public?  My next question was, where had Gayle been “hiding” this racism?  Hasn’t she talked with others about the candidates?  Doesn’t she know that Barack is actually a Christian?  If her friends, family members, or fellow parishioners had heard her mention this idea before did no one speak up?  Did no one correct her on the facts?  When we avoid discussing our religious and political beliefs with others who do not agree with us we are protecting ourselves from having difficult or uncomfortable questions that we may not wish to face.  The latest of these taboos is the belief that we should not talk about money with friends, neighbors, or family.  A couple of stories that I thought I would share… 1) two years ago in a local fast food establishment I overheard a couple talking about how their daughter and son-in-law planned to file for bankruptcy immediately after returning from the cruise trip that they were on, 2) a year and a half ago friends were trying to sell their condo and plan for a down payment on their house – they had almost no money in savings but drove new Cadillac and Audi vehicles and spent lavishly on expensive clothes and purses, and finally 3) this weekend I overheard a few patrons talking in a restaurant about how one of them had four different vehicles in four years but had no money.  Where was the sense of responsibility from these people?  Did no one question their actions?  Did no one question their sense of accountability?  We need to again talk about our beliefs and actions… we need to expose them to the light of day… and we need to be more accepting of those who might question us or our motives… or we will continue to provide safehavens for prejudice, hatred, misinformation, lies, deceit, and unaccountability.

Do voters really vote in their self interest?

In conversations about the recent election I wondered how much people really vote in their self interest.  I came across an interesting article from earlier this year that I thought I would share.  The story from Bryan Caplan of the Washington Post suggests that there are 5 myths of voting.

  1. People vote in their self interests
  2. Unselfish voting will solve our problems
  3. Voters’ errors balance out
  4. Political disagreement is all about values
  5. Voters want serious change

My question is that if these are all myths then when someone invokes one as their reason for voting for a certain candidate what are they really voting for?  For example, when someone invokes that they are voting for McCain out of self interest… why are they really voting for them?  Fear, hatred, prejudice?  What are the underlying issues?

Sarah Palin for VP? Are you kidding me?

Is it just me or does John McCain seem to be grasping at straws here?  He chooses a 44 year old governor of Alaska that hasn’t had any national or international political experience as his Number Two?  As a matter of fact, she has not even seen two years in office as Governor!  John McCain has bashed Barack Obama for his lack of experience yet would leave the fate of the country in the hands of a novice if he fell ill?  I find it an interesting gamble for McCain… an opportunity to court the female Hillary Clinton supporter but her stance on the issues is the exact opposite of Hillary: she is against a woman’s right to choose an abortion, she is pro-death penalty, and she opposes same sex marriages (while claiming to have gay friends) enough to support a constitutional amendment barring benefits for same sex couples, and she supports the war in Iraq.  An interesting insight from colleague and State Senate President Lyda Green, a Republican who has often feuded with Palin, remarked, “She’s not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?”  Would a woman vote for her just because she is a woman… even if she disagreed with her politics?

The Digital Divide Between McCain And Obama…

There was a great NPR story the other day on the digital divide between McCain and ObamaMcCain has his RAZR phone, no Blackberry/smartphone, does not get onto the Internet, and does not send email – Obama on the other hand has multiple phones, is connected with his Blackberry, and has over a million friends on Facebook.  Does how a candidate embraces new technology provide insight into how they will deal with new situations, new generations, or new opportunities?  Or is this gadget geek reading too much into things?


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