November fourth's closing in so rapidly that political ads are growing yet more strident, and the two parties are exchanging blows like boxers from respective corners. And the major contenders, every one a pugilist, have taken off the gloves.
Republicans continue to practice the politics of fear, with the back stabbing ever ongoing. I find myself reminded of Julius Caesar, surrounded by assassins. It seems like everyone has their respective daggers out, intending to draw blood.
Distortions abound. Sometimes one cannot tell Republicans from Democrats without a program. Fiscal responsibility? It's like water in the desert. But the greatest financial irresponsibility goes straight to the Bush administration.
Our burgeoning national deficit has nearly turned not just our country, but the entire world, into a disaster area. England's forbidding executives to collect ridiculous salaries and bonuses, and even is nationalizing banks. Germany is reacting with similar measures.
China and Russia own far too much of the United States. Our workers' ability to compete in global markets has suffered to the point of desperation. Here in Pueblo Colorado, the C.F.& I. Steel plant is now owned by Russians.
Outsourcing has given away telemarketing positions in so egregious and fanatical a way, that one feels enormous relief to find an American on the other end of the line!
To return to the original analogy, it's a horse race, and our workers are dropping by the thousands. We ride them hard and put them away wet!
Technology has transformed the world and its techno-markets, with Japan, of course, in the lead, India and China sprinting to catch up. Chinese goods are prevalent in our dollar stores and Walmarts. They also have saturated the third world markets of Africa, and are building roads there as well.
Too many American children are deficient in both reading and math, such that we dare not cut educational budgets, and are desperately looking for competent teachers to help our students catch up. Too few were and likely still are incapable of adequate English composition.
Millions of kids have been left behind. Our schools should teach more languages. Any student who expects to compete internationally in a global job market must gain proficiency in Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese languages.
International trade agreements have not proved to our advantage, and it is time that our workers receive every possible advantage. If retraining in technical spheres is needed, so be it. Lifetime learning becomes, of necessity, the the order of the day.
Our extemded dependence upon foreign oil has us prostrate before the rest of the world. The outcry of "drill, baby, drill" may on it's face seem a great thing. But Oil Conglomerates have failed to invest in American infrastructure and especially refineries.
George Bush, as the Bumbler in Chief, has taken us to the edge of a precipice financially, and we hang like careless mountain climbers from a shredded rope beneath a cliff.
Our "basically sound" stock market and economy have become anvils, rather than motors of productivity. In the past few weeks, my credit card bills have ranged from radical decreases in available to buy back to increased credit. Like many Americans, I am shrewdly transferring balances until that opportune moment that I may refinance a mortgage, and, at last successful as a writer, performer, or teacher, I am able to kiss debt goodbye.
The great lies told the American citizenry have rivaled those of Adolf Hitler. Weapons of mass destruction did not exist in Iraq, much to Colin Powell's chagrin as presented to the United Nations.
Thus we entered an unnecessary war, and continue to pay a heavy toll for it day by day, in both lives and dollars. Where there was no insurgency and Al Quaeda before in Iraq, there now is ingrained terrorism before unheard of.
Afghanistan also continues to perplex us, for Bin Laden's still apparently safely hidden - safely growing his grizzly terrorist beard in some mountain cavern.
Meanwhile the world's needs cry out for our help, for ethnic cleansing is once again rearing its ugly head in Darfur, as in Georgia so very near Russia. Our exiting President claimed to look into the eyes of Vladimir Putin and seen his soul. The absurdity of this claim demonstrates itself in Russia's shenanigans in South America with Venezuela's president (or one should rather say Dictator). Hugo Chavez has Russia conducting military exercises in his waters and arranging for arms sales. All of O.P.E.C. continually seems to ask itself "What can we do next to hobble the United States?"
Hopeful signs in the arms race now appear in North Korea. Kim-Jon-ll is submitting to examination of nuclear sites. It's served up as a gift upon a silver platter, since the Bush administration was loathe to directly negotiate with a "terrorist" regime.
Obama, on the other hand, promises to keep all avenues of communication open. As was said in the movie The Godfather I, "Keep you friends close. But keep your enemies even closer." Indeed, we have now, more than ever before to be cognizant of every and any threat to our national security.
But need that mean the violation of human rights? Abu Graeb and Guantanamo, plus the outsourcing of torture to Arabic allies have diminished our image in the eyes of the world.
Meanwhile, provisions of the Patriot Act relegated policies verging upon fascism. Anyone, under the least suspicion, can be wire-tapped or taken hostage. Our founding fathers, surely would view this with chagrin.
Back to the race...
Just to where are we running--and from what?
We are certainly not approaching solvency by anything but the slowest of pace, and our ownership society is threatened with thousands of home foreclosures. So we now look to a bail-out to restore confidence.
All of this has been irremediably exacerbated by tax cuts and loopholes that have favored the extremely wealthy. "Trickle-down" theory simply does not work! If a major corporation, however, finds its costs increasing, you may be assured that it will pass the expense along to you, the consumer!
Goods must be transported, and the price of oil runs the gamut of inflation upon our highways.
Currently General Motors and Chrysler corporations are negotiating a merger. But then, Chrysler is entwined with Mercedes Benz. New automobiles utilizing rechargeable batteries are promised and in development.
But, the Japanese seem always to be ahead of us. For my part I wish I had back my 1963 Volvo station wagon, which I treated like a Jeep in the Rocky Mountains. It got 28 miles per gallon in town and 37 on the highway. The simplicity of the engine always amazed me. When a clutch rod broke, I was able to create a replacement for it out of a carriage bolt in the University of Wyoming Theater scene shop.
Our nation still leads the world in entertainment--particularly movies. Yet Sony of Japan owns a large chunk of its enterprises. And no doubt the escapism of movie reality appeals as much now as it did in the Great Depression of the 1930s.
So, as we negotiate the last furlongs of this race, let us take stock of where we stand upon this track, and what the competitor horses are doing:
-Economy, employment, deficit: suffering, no end in site.
-International relations: badly in need of shoring up our alliance and regaining the world's trust.
-The arms race: not entirely secure with weaponry being sold to the South Americans by Russia, and Iran threatening Israel with nuclear annihilation.
-Education: lagging behind most other industrial nations, particularly in math and science.
-Health: the most expensive in the world, and unavailable to far too many Americans, even children.
-Human rights: ongoing ethnic cleansing and abuses, and a dire need to take on crises with allies or the United Nations--not so expensively and at such great cost--unilaterally.
-Terrorism and drug traffic: Poppy seeds flourish, and the Taliban continues to finance destruction. Why should peasants settle for less with crops not as lucrative?
-Honesty in government: We continue to be lied to, as the American dream seems to be dimming.
So, it comes down to the inevitable question: who is the jockey who can ride the American horse at last to victory? It is a true-breed stallion. So who can manage its spirit satisfactorily to the finish line?
I'm laying odds, and betting on Barack Obama!
How about you?