Musings from George

The Politics Of Gridlock, and the boredom of inevitability
March 27, 2012, 3:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

So we stagger towards an inevitable election between Obama and Romney, two men who no longer excite anyone. Obama certainly offends no one, but similarly the excitement of Barack the campaigner has given way to the boredom of gridlock and squandered hopes. To quote Barry: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Yet so many of our policies remain the same, from lots of troops in Afghanistan to the embarrassment of Guantanamo to the assault on women’s rights… that it sometimes feels like W is still chortling to himself. I understand the root cause is politics and the parties, but understanding that does not give me any excitement about the upcoming election. Where is the hope? Why did we squander a nation’s willingness to sacrifice in 2008, when real change was possible?
Romney has been gored by a Catholic leading evangelical protestants to the polls in a futile round of mutual destruction, and demeaned by a peevish professor whose brief tenure running the House was a fiasco of lies, deceit and a government shutdown. Romney has had months now to say things that he will regret after the election, most recently citing Russia as our most fearsome foe (apparently his national security advisor is Sarah Palin…) and criticizing Obama for anything he can think of (the price of gas? really?)
Aside: does Newt the professor really think that Newt Fuel is going to cap the price of gas?
A few unrelated observations:
1. The Afghan people hate us. They have nothing we need. Support for the ongoing war (longest in US history) is below 50%. We need to get out.
2. We are (finally) a net exporter of petroleum. This happened on Obama’s watch. Fracking and deepwater drilling, and high prices that depress consumption, have given us some freedom from the oppression of the oil addict. High oil prices hurt us as consumers, but do not increase our national trading deficit as they did five years ago.
3. Cars are headed towards much greater efficiency targets, even if the current crop of sippers remains a sliver of the total fleet. Gas prices drive the purchase of newer, more efficient cars and the auto industry in the US is saved.
4. State government deficits in the US are as bad as countries in Europe, but no one panics because they are different in important ways. They can raise taxes, and they can sell bonds. But we really need to look down the road a few miles, not just to the next election. The cost of the services we demand is not supported by the taxes we are willing to pay — and the state governments have got to cut services and raise taxes soon.
5. People stopped talking about global warming, yet we are having some of the weirdest weather patterns ever recorded and alternative explanations don’t make much sense. One of the former high-profile skeptics changed his mind, after additional review…but it just seems (like “universal health care”) to be a topic that politicians cannot discuss without losing support, and the public doesn’t want to hear about because there is no call to action.
6. The Chinese government has pumped billions into producing solar cells, right when newer technology promises to make those cells and that capacity obsolete. Yet we focus on Solyndra, which I am ignorant about but know smart people who say it was the wrong idea — and got $500 million from our government. Where is the global balance sheet of investment and spending?

It’s raining, and baseball and softball have been cancelled repeatedly. Since I am taking time off to coach these teams (okay, perhaps I am using the teams as a reason to loaf?), it reminds of a Gary Larsen cartoon. Two deer standing together, one with a target etched on his chest — the other, to him “Bummer of a birthmark, dude!”


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