the ‘merkin hot topic

Since my visit to the US coincides with a somewhat interesting time in US politics, perhaps I should join half the rest of the world in commenting on it.  Like everyone else, I speak from ignorance on the subject.

The US, in common with most other countries, has a political system that ensures that only a crook can attain high office. But some of them are clearly worse than others. And among the current crop may be a glimmer of hope that 20 years of near-unmitigated evil might change. An evil that contrasts strangely with a country that produces so many great people, not to mention corporations that have behaved – on average – significantly better than their European counterparts, in terms of treating me fairly through my years of IT contract work.

Who will win? Who can say, but McCain is looking good. The republicans have selected their (obviously) most electable candidate: one who is not a religious loony or moral fundamentalist, but who appears to have a clue about the economy and environment. By contrast, the democrats appear to have shot themselves in the foot. Not because they still have two candidates – that’s just how things are. But disenfranchising some states must surely be seen as a slap in the face to those states. If Florida democrats can’t get motivated to vote, then McCain surely won’t need any voting irregularities or hanging/pregnant chavs (or whatever they were called) to win there.

Do I care for the democrat candidates? Not very much, though I know too little to pass informed comment. Clinton rides her husband’s relative popularity, but Bill Clinton’s years were .. well, the best one can really say is Not Bush. His was the time of unprecedented economic imperialism, the rise of the patent troll, and record growth of state-sanctioned piracy. While he didn’t invade Iraq, he did maintain a steady amount of bombing on them, and on whomsoever else he took against. It was he who turned a blind eye when Netanyahu tore up the 1993 middle-east peace agreement. And he set the stage for Dubya’s open abandonment of his country’s international treaties, and the notion of international law being determined by anything other than raw power.

As for Obama? All I know about him is that he has great charisma and rhetoric, which makes him potentially the most dangerous of all. If Dubya could, at a stroke, abolish the 20th century’s Land of the Free and attract widespread support for doing so, a man with Obama’s charisma could – if he chooses – command wide support for worldwide atrocities on a scale to make events like the Holocaust and the Inquisition look like childs play. I’m not suggesting that he will do any such thing, but the precedents are worrying.

Could any of them become a great leader, and tackle very necessary things that involve taking an economic hit? In particular, winding down America’s pollution and armaments exports, and taking an international lead there? A recipe for, erm, saving the world, might include Obama’s charisma with McCain’s establishment credentials, along with qualities that would rule a candidate out of any chance of getting nominated. I expect we’ll see incremental improvements, but anything substantial would take real courage and leadership.

Well, I don’t get to make that choice. But on the positive side, it may not be such a clear and dismal case of none-of-the-above as in recent US elections. Or indeed UK ones.


Posted on March 6, 2008, in politics, USA. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. This is a fine example of why programmers should stick to writing about what they know best (*), instead of talking out their asses about subjects where they look foolish through their ignorance.

    Software patents are Bill Clinton’s fault? Uh huh… right.

    (*) Look up comparative advantage.

  2. Where did he say software patents? Perhaps he did mean software patents. But I can’t tell that for sure from what he’s written. Patent trolling in general’s been around for a while. *shrugs*

  3. megaspaz, thanks for asking the obvious. Looks to me like a case of “don’t like what he said, so let’s put dumb words in his mouth and shoot him down”.

    Should I have taken the bait, and argued over software patents? Or even, raised the stakes and had a rant about, say, patenting traditional medicines from developing countries? I might do that sometime, but not here and now.

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