Monday, September 15, 2008

Putting Lipstick on America

I've been away for a few days in a place where I had no TV and limited Internet service. I didn't like that aspect, but I survived. And as much of a political and TV news junkie as I have been all my life, I am finding myself loathe to pay attention anymore.

This political campaign and the day-to-day coverage of it is sickening. Let me amend that. The McCain campaign is sickening and has made the American people sicker than usual.

Our culture, our schools, our news media, our politics are all based on the fear that someone might value intelligence. Every four years, with rare exception, the American people have a choice for president between someone who is smarter and more thoughtful than the other, and then vote for the stupid one. It is said the average American wants to vote for people like themselves. If so, that proves that the American Empire will be dead before I will.

Do you want a plumber who knows only as much as you? How about a teacher for your children? How about an auto mechanic? Maybe a brain surgeon?

In a vacuum, I could not have drawn up two better presidential candidates than John Kerry and Barack Obama. And I don't mean that because I would agree with their programs and policies. But it is because they are the kind of leaders who you know would -- even if they were wrong -- approach serious issues with some thought.

So, I have not been watching much TV lately and don't plan to. I have been reading, instead.

I have been reading lengthy excerpts of Bob Woodward's new book, which has the interviews and tapes to back up the lies Bush spewed about "listening to the generals." The generals thought he was nuts and all but told him so. Except one. The guy, who against all evidence and military expertise, told Bush what he wanted to hear. Thus, as said last year to much chagrin, he should be called "General Betray Us."

I have been reading The New Yorker, about Cindy McCain's phony biography and John McCain's laughable interest in family values -- someone who was dating her for seven months before his divorce and who barely has lived with her since, never noticing she was a drug addict.

He is a "me-first" conniver who used his captivity to maneuver himself into a cushy job in the Navy (travel guide and pimp for members of the Senate) and then committed adultery to step into a $100 million fortune that enabled him to run for office with no discernible philosophy. His personal and political ethics are those of an Arizona cactus -- you have to deal with the prick before you find any substance.

I have been reading The New York Times about Sarah Palin's method of governing -- laced with incompetent hires, based on secrecy, baked with graft and corruption and raked with vengeance. She makes ignorance both a family and a national value. But that should make no difference when the American public plans to elect a 72-year-old multiple-cancer survivor who would start a war with Russia in order to get elected.

"The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government."

Surprise, folks. The United States is about to lose its status as the world's No. 1 economy, it long ago fell from the best place in the world to get medical care and its military is so weak we better hope Canada doesn't cause us trouble. Most of our up-and-coming scientists and engineers are Chinese or South Asian. As has been said before, by people more clever than I, "We are borrowing money from China to pay Saudi Arabia."

In the aggregate, the U.S. economy is reasonably strong, but the gap between rich and poor is as big as it was during the Depression. Yet, one candidate wants to reward the rich by taxing them less and one wants to find solutions regardless of who proposes them.

The commonweal is falling apart, and we have two choices. It is said, "We don't know Obama." Well, he has been under public scrutiny for nearly two years, so if anyone doesn't know him, it is not his fault. We do know McCain and Palin, and the likelihood that they will win the election speaks volumes about the lipstick voters are getting ready to apply to their country.


  1. Anonymous11:57 AM

    It's not a commonwealth, it's a republic. Start with that as your first comprehension problem.

    Second, here a fact: The top 1% of income earners in the United States of America earn 18% of the income. They pay 38% of the income taxes. Got those numbers? 18 % of the income, but 38% of the income taxes.

    So unless you're a Marxist/Leninist/Socialist/Communist, you would have to agree that the wealthy are already being taxed too much.

    You don't "reward" someone by letting them keep their own money. How about you just let them keep their own EARNINGS?

    1% earn 18% pay 38%. Irrefutable.

    Ira / Hillary / Obama : "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs."

    The mask is off of all of you.

    "Commonwealth". Just swell. The Republic is dead.

  2. Anonymous1:40 PM

    Dear Mr. Litella:

    "Commonweal" -- the common welfare; the public good. I first heard of the word as the name of an opinion journal commenting on social, cultural and political issues from a lay Catholic viewpoint. You might try it.

    You might also try reading the Book of Matthew Chapter 25.

    You might even actually look at some Census and economic data that indicate the United States has nearly the biggest gap between rich and poor in the industrialized world.

    Now, you may call attempts to ameliorate that situation “communism” or even “socialism,” but it is a real problem that bodes ill for the nation.

    You could ask socialist Alan Greenspan, who said that widening income inequality “is not the type of thing which a democratic society—a capitalist democratic society—can really accept without addressing.”

    As for your statistics, do you include as income capital gains, inheritance, rents, home equity increases or just plain wages?

    It is true, based on Census figures, that the bottom fifth of families have seen their incomes decline an average of 2.5% since Bill Clinton left the White House while the middle fifth saw an increase of 1.3% and the top fifth rose 9%.

    Finally, there are several issues you are not addressing:

    1) The top 1% include not only those with, say, an income of $250,000, but those with astronomical incomes in the tens or hundreds of millions. An infinite top amount of income, therefore, would rais the amount of taxes paid by this group without really speaking to the issue of fairness or opportunity. You are using averages to mask reality.

    2) People who are in position to earn a lot of money, particularly the ownership class, use federal taxes to promote, nurture, subsidize and bail out their industries.

    3) Who pays what share of income taxes is not as relevant to the nation’s well-being as the rates of growth or decline, or as the difference between the classes. As Warren Buffett so succinctly put it: “We are in a class war, and my side is winning it.”

    4) When revolutions (or even riots) occur, it is never because the lower classes are so abjectly in poverty. Revolutions occur from the middle classes who see what the rich have and realize by what means the rich got rich. Usually, it is enough for them to take up arms.

  3. Anonymous10:44 AM