POLITICAL OPPONENT (Reclining in Front Row)
The United States is in big trouble. Any discerning observer can see it. Its problems are visible on a host of levels. Indeed they are obvious to anyone who switches on the boob tube or to anyone who can read. Obvious to anyone except perhaps to many, if not most, Americans.
The nation remains divided along racial lines. Let’s take the prison system. It’s bursting at the seams. According to recent statistics, 7 million adults (3.2% of the country’s adult population) are in U.S. slammers. And how’s this for a sobering statistic - the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the total number of incarcerated adults world-wide. In the U.S. there are 737 adults per 100,000 people in jail. This compares to England and Wales with 139 per 100,000 and even China – with 4 times the population - at 111. Norway is at 59 per 100,000. Whatever the reasons, something is dreadfully wrong.
Furthermore, we find that 10.4% of all black males in the U.S. between the ages of 25 and 29 are in jail. 2.4% are Hispanic and 1.3% are white. Blacks comprise 12% of the population of the United States. They also comprise 44% of all incarcerated inmates in the United States. Indeed, something is dreadfully wrong – and racist too! See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisons_in_the_United_States
And the books are in a shambles. As of this month, the war in Iraq had cost the poor Yankee taxpayer 550 billion bucks. The burn rate for the conflict is somewhere between 8 and 12 billion a month. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are projected to cost 3 trillion dollars before they are over, and that is likely to be a modest estimate. The total U.S. deficit this year is expected to be 410 billion dollars – keeping pace with the 500 billion dollar average deficit per year since 2003. The total debt as of this spring was 9.5 trillion dollars or $31,600 for every man, woman and child resident in the U.S. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt
This is bad news for a country that a few short years ago – during the Clinton years – was running surpluses with the books in great shape. Not so today. And it looks to get much worse if the country decides to give their citizens a break and get into the universal medicare world.
The nation has become uncompetitive in manufacturing. The great automotive companies, long a staple of American industrial might, are edging towards bankruptcy. Other U.S. corporations to remain competitive are building their widgets in the low wage markets of emerging economies in the third world. Good jobs are being lost. Banks are in trouble. The real estate and financial markets across the country have taken an enormous hit from the sub-prime financial crisis.
The country’s thirst for oil remains unabated despite skyrocketing prices. Domestic supplies continue to diminish and high price imports continue to increase with no serious attempt by government to change the people’s appetite for gas guzzling.
And all the while, vacuous and shrill talking heads on the cable and network news channels waste the viewer’s time with trivial matters of sex or mayhem, not designed to inform but to entertain. Print publications that dare to deal with public policy are usually doctrinaire, selling the flim-flam of their ideological masters – their advertisers. Most politicians – particularly Republican politicians - with some notable exceptions, continue to mislead the public on wars, energy, the economy and most everything else.
And now, in a move that is as irresponsible as it is bizarre, John McCain has picked as his running mate a ditzy, ardently pro-life, gun totin,’ creationist, and ex-beauty queen runner-up in Wasilla, Alaska, population 5469. Oh yes, she was Mayor of Wasilla and served on its Town Council. In December 2006 she became Governor of the State of Alaska, population 683,478 – ranking 47th of 50 states. If McCain is elected President and during his tenure finds himself on the wrong side of the grass, well, it will be President Sarah Palin.
McCain has the nerve to say that she is as qualified as his Democratic opponent Barack Obama and his running mate Joe Biden, to be President of the United States. Only doctrinaire neocons and obtuse Canadian Conservatives would ever buy that line. The fact is that McCain, like Fox News and the talking heads and all of the rest of the sorry lot who are leading what was once the great United States down the road to perdition, are trivializing the challenges that lie ahead. They have no appreciation of the complexity to make things right. They are not serious about their country.
And in the meantime, the Democratic ticket instead of being far and away the heavy favorite to win, is struggling in the polls. They are only neck and neck with the yahoos that brought that poor country to its knees through arrogance and stupidity. And why are they only neck- and – neck? Well, you see, Obama happens to be black. It’s a helluva mess.