Overcoming the ‘wimp’ factor

As a longtime radio announcer on a former classical music station here used to say on a cloudy, dreary day as we have this morning, it’s an “introspective day.”

My introspection today tells me that President Obama would show real courage by getting our troops OUT of both Afghanistan and Iraq soon, rather than later. Sadly, however, I think Obama and many Democrats are governed by the “wimp factor;” that is, the fear of being viewed as “wimps” for not aggressively supporting large commitments of troops into war zones. Thus, when a military commander calls for 40,000 more troops, President Obama, fearing the “wimp factor,” apparently feels obligated to agreeing to such a troop increase, or something close to it. Otherwise, he will be called a “wimp,” which in U.S. macho politics is tantamount to treason. In the past, during the Cold War years, the fear was being termed as “soft on communism.”

In my view, President Obama (and also Democrats and some thinking Republicans) would show more courage by looking at our fortunes in Afghanistan and Iraq in a rational way and take the necessary decision to remove our troops as soon as is practicable. To be sure, should President Obama provide such courageous leadership, he will be called a “wimp” or some equally nasty equivalent by some.

Sometimes it takes more courage to withhold troops from a war zone than it does to commit them.


A demagogue in the making

When people are hurting, they will turn to almost anyone who offers hope – even if that hope is nothing but a mirage.

Today, as nearly one out of every five Americans are without work or are seriously underemployed, there is much hopelessness and this is virgin territory for demagogues.

Enter Sarah Palin.

There’s a tendency for many of us to laugh at her tortured and twisted rhetoric, but it has an appeal for many Americans. We must not belittle what motivates the thousands of people who stand in lines in the cold to get Sarah to sign her book.

Many of these Americans feel abandoned by their government in their efforts to regain gainful employment. And, Sarah Palin is feeding off this feeling by raising even more fears of the unknown from a government that thus far has been unable to put people back to work. It’s easy pickings for her.

Many of these dispossessed would obviously be better served with the traditional policies of liberals and the Democratic Party. After all, it is the progressive policies of the New Deal that brought us unemployment compensation, Social Security, strong labor laws and the social safety net – policies that today offer the only real protection against even more terrible economic fortunes for workers.

Sarah Palin offers the same type of demagoguery that attracted so many unemployed Germans to embrace the promises of a better life offered by Adolph Hitler in the 1930s; and, the Depression-era promises of Lousiana’s Huey Long (who actually did provide some improvements to that state’s poor while milking it for his own personal corruption); and, the promises offered by Alabama’s George Wallace in his own brand of racism by having poor whites blame African-Americans for their economic distress.

We mock these supporters of Sarah Palin at our own peril. Many of these folks are hard-working Americans and they find solace in her promises; as misguided as is the thinking of these folks, they will help vote to determine the future direction of the nation.

It’s time to take our focus off the lies and distortion in Palin’s “Going Rogue” book and concentrate on the people she and her ilk are so effectively courting.

The Obama Administration has been too closely identified with the Wall Street crowd that created the current economic crisis; Obama’s appointment of Tim Geitner and continued support of Ben Bernanke are witness to that.

Job creation schemes are a must, for one thing. It’s time for bold action from our government so that many of these folks will see benefit in Obama, the Democrats and “government.” For an excellent analysis of why job creation activities may be stalling in the White House, read Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times of Monday, Nov. 23, 2009.

Once people see jobs and security, they will no longer find the quitter (Sarah Palin) to be so attractive. Until then, she is a demagogue in the making.

Populists under false pretenses

Ever since liberal-turned-conservative Ronald Reagan quoted Paine’s “We have it in our power to begin the world over again” at the 1980 Republican National Convention, conservatives have become Paine’s greatest champions. Just this year came Bob Basso’s YouTube videos “The Second American Revolution” and “We the People,” Glenn Beck’s Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine, Newt Gingrich’s novel of the American Revolution, To Try Men’s Souls, and now Palin’s Going Rogue. (From “Palin’s Unlikely Hero,” by Harvey J. Kaye, “Blogs and Stories” from the Daily Beast, Nov. 18)

Gingich, Palin, Beck, Hannity, et al have no shame and will appropriate anyone they can to further their cause, including Tom Paine whom they have disfigured with their rhetoric.

In using Tom Paine,this crowd is assuming — under false pretenses — the populist role. And, they have been far too successful in fooling so many people who should know better. Sadly they are finding support from among the nation’s working class who are now suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous capitalism.

It’s time for Democrats, liberals and the Obama Administration to realize they may continue losing the fight for the minds of America’s workers unless they find ways to provide jobs, offer a true national health care plan and extract the nation from the battles in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Do lies and distortions doom democracy?

I fear for democracy. To survive, a democratic nation needs an educated citizenry and a citizenry that appreciates the values that created that Society. In the USA, we all praise our Founding Fathers (there were no women in the early forming of our government nearly 225 years ago) for setting a vision that has created the world’s longest standing democracy. Yet, few today recognize that those values included recognition of the diversity and differences among people, recognition of human rights and a support for openness.

Our democracy may fall basically because one of its major principles: the right of free speech. This right has provided a soapbox (aided and abetted by the Internet, cable television news and other new technologies) for all sorts of charlatans and demagogues to spout outright lies and distortions. When the citizens are fed such lies, their decision-making becomes skewed and wrong-headed. In the US, our decision-making is being so affected, making it almost impossible to pass a credible health reform bill, to attack global warming or to make the proper decision about Afghanistan.

Even President Obama’s considerable speaking talents seem unable to steer the debate into more appropriate directions.

But, I have hope (to use Obama’s theme) that the American people have enough commonsense to soon begin to separate out the facts from the deliberate lies and distortions that are so poisoning our current political discourse.

Time for Action

I can’t  help but reflect on how difficult the world is becoming.  President Obama is trying his mightiest, but the problems he is trying to resolve seem insurmountable.  President Bush left this nation in a terrible state, due largely to two things: our involvement in unwinnable and unnecessary conflicts in the Middle East and a laissez faire economy that let capitalism run amuck.

Afghanistan: what to do with a country that was ignored largely by the Bush people and is now festering?  Lots of us think we should leave, but that raises terrible, unthinking charges that Obama and the Democrats are “soft,” and this leads to political timidness.  Meanwhile, Iraq is still in chaos.  Perhaps the most heroic action for Obama to do is to plan for the most advantageous withdrawal from those countries as is practicable.  Is there really a threat to our ‘homeland’ if we leave?

Our economy:  Again Capitalism has failed us, but Obama refuses to pull out a New Deal type program to win back jobs.  Sadly, this country still refuses to accept any program that has even a hint of socialism.  And we’re the worst for it.

The solutions to these two problems call for boldness and political courage.  President Obama has been right in taking his time and looking at all options, but the time to act is now, Mr. President.

What counts in life!

Welcome to my newest blog.  This is the first entry, and it’s a plea for common sense, common decency and common courtesy in public

lake in morning

A peaceful morning view at Lower Clam Lake, Wisconsin


discourse.  No one’s blogs, read maybe by a handful of relatives or supposed friends, will change the world to his or her liking.  That’s all to the good: I’m not sure all of MY remedies for world betterment would work either, and I am vain enough to think there are others out there even more goofy than I.

It is my hope that perhaps a few words here might have an impact of providing a bit of perspective on some of the more strange occurrences in our current life.  Let the fun begin!

Perhaps a morning stroll down to the lake from a Northwoods cabin is as good as it gets.  When all else fails in life, perhaps everyone one needs a retreat, and for us there’s nothing so special as thecabin at Clam Lake, for 45 years a family destination.