Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hope at last

Barak Obama is President-elect.

He seems to be full of confidence for the future but in reality it would have been a good election to lose. It's something of a poison chalice because the breadth and depth of the problems facing him must be unprecedented in American presidential history.

The catastrophic George W Bush presidency has left such an unbelievable mess both in America and around the world that it will probably take more than one term, even more than the two terms which Obama may have, to get us all back to where we need to be.

Just think of the problems the extreme ideology of the far right Bush years have generated.

The collapse of the financial system, the world in recession, the US with trillions of dollars of debt, the erosion of liberties with the illegal snooping on Americans, state-sponsored kidnapping and torture, the junking of the Geneva Conventions, the erosion of international organisations such as the UN, the illegal, immoral and counter-productive invasion of Iraq, chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Israel/Palestine issue worse than ever, the irresponsible use of robots and drones as weapon platforms which have killed hundreds of innocent people, unilateral attacks in friendly ally countries, the world a far more dangerous place than it was when Bush came to power, the encouragement by divisive wedge politics of racism, bigotry and xenophobia.

And so much more.

And added to the disastrous policies, the breathtaking utter incompetence of the way the policies were carried out, from Iraq to Afghanistan to New Orleans.

A lot of people are not going to like what I'm going to say, but it's not opinion it's fact.

Don't blame it all on Bush.

So many people say 'It isn't America's fault, it's the government'. Well, who put the government there? As unpopular as saying it may be, the American people must take their share of the blame.

As must the media. For example, Time magazine made him Person of the Year in 2004.

Incredible as it may seem, they said: For sticking to his guns (literally and figuratively), for reshaping the rules of politics to fit his ten-gallon-hat leadership style and for persuading a majority of voters that he deserved to be in the White House for another four years, George W. Bush is TIME's 2004 Person of the Year.

After the first four years of seeing exactly what their President was doing, about 100 million eligible voters couldn't be bothered to vote in 2004. Those who did voted to give him him another four years. He won 31 of the 50 states. Over 50% of voters agreed with his policies and the way they were carried out and voted for more of the same.

In 2004 over 62 million Americans voted for a continuation of the catastrophic George W Bush administration.

That's an awful lot of people who must take their share of responsibility for the disasters created by Bush in the last four years.

Even in what is being depicted as an Obama landslide, with at this moment as I write 338 electoral college votes to McCain's 168, a broader look at the figures shows that 21 states have voted Republican. Senator McCain has over 55 million votes, which is 47% of votes counted.

Fifty-five million people, and counting, have voted for a continuation of the disastrous policies of the last eight years and for a possible President Palin.

Unbelievable.


Hope for the future, and fear.

The hope is that President Obama can at least begin to repair the damage, to start on the work needed to bring a fairer society, to re-establish America's standing in the world, to move away from the extreme ideology that's blighted the world for the last eight years.

My fear, my real fear, is for the safety of the new president.

Here's more that a lot of people are going to froth at the mouth over but again it's not simply my opinion. Here are some facts.

The US is a violent country awash with firearms. It's worse than the 'lawless' tribal areas on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border because the over 200 million firearms (yes, over 200 million) in American society include many state-of-the-art military weapons.

Violent? According to the FBI there are over 16,000 homicides every year. That's about two murders every hour of every day of every week of every year. It's the death toll of 9/11 every five weeks.

America is home to many terror groups. In recent years we've seen domestic terror groups from the far left and the far right and racist groups. And many disturbed, violent, heavily armed individuals.

We've seen the Oklahoma bombing, which killed at least 158 people including 19 children and injured over 850. We see regular mass murders at schools such as Columbine. We've seen anthrax being sent through the mail.

We've seen the shooting of President Reagan and Governor George Wallace, the killing of President John F. and Robert Kennedy and of Martin Luther King.

This cultural violence and aggression has been adopted by the government for at least the last six years, so extremism has been encouraged by government example.

Just last week we saw the arrest of two armed white supremacist skinheads for plotting to murder Obama.

So I have a real fear for President-elect Obama's safety.

He has so much to do, such huge problems to solve and I firmly believe he's the best chance we have. If I were a religious person I'd be praying for his safety and his success.

And to the 62 millon Americans who at last count have voted for him, thank you.

32 comments:

D said...

Been watching news stories on this for quite some time.
I do agree with you that while Bush was cause for so many problems, he didn't get to the Presidential seat without people actually voting for him.

To be honest, I hadn't thought abt the safety factor. And now I fear for this too. Hmmm ...

Seabee said...

D if you'd watched some of McCain's rallies and seen the anger, the abuse, the threats made to Obama, the danger was clear.

McCain himself tried to calm it down several times. Have a look at these clips for example: here, here and here.

D said...

I'd seen some presidential debates and was watching the post-election results but hadn't seen these particular stories. Thanks for linking them.
They may have made history by electing the first African-American President but so many of them are so racist, it's just terrible. Forget just Americans, racism is everywhere. It sucks.
I can't believe that woman who said she can't trust Obama and then said he's an Arab. And you know, so what if he was??? What...Geroge Bush was a moron so I think of all Americans as morons? Rot ... serious load of rot... People like this just serve to make me angry.

Seabee said...

Watch these great clips from The Daily Show.

The second one picks up the point of McCain telling the stupid woman that Obama is not Arab but not saying that being Arab doesn't mean he must be a bad person.

here and here.

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right seabee: me too I'm concerned about Obama's safety. So much worried about.

Duffy said...

"The US is a violent country awash with firearms. It's worse than the 'lawless' tribal areas on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border because the over 200 million firearms (yes, over 200 million) in American society include many state-of-the-art military weapons."

C'mon Seebee give me a break. You sound positively deranged. England has more crime per capita than the US: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_tot_cri_percap-crime-total-crimes-per-capita

And check out the assault stats: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_ass_vic-crime-assault-victims

Ironically places like DC where handguns are banned outright have the most murders per capita.

Lastly, where free men own guns they are governed. Where they do not, they are ruled.

Mars said...

i always thought about his safety, especially since the recent attempt and as history shows - Abraham Lincoln, Kennedy, Martin Luther - they all advocated for change but got shot for it.

i sure hope he's beefed up security.

Seabee said...

Duffy you're cherry picking the stats. and getting off subject.

I'm talking about violent crime, particularly homicide and terrorism. Your references give figures for totally different crimes.

And on your stats the NationMaster site makes the disclaimer: DEFINITION: Note: Crime statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual prevalence. They also depend on what constitutes a 'crime' in each country.

Have a look (on the same site) for "Murders with firearms (per capita)" which is here.

Or "Gun violence - Homicides" which is here.

Or even "Assaults per capita" which is here.

Or look at the FBI's stats on "Violent crime" here, showing 1.4 million in the US in 2007, which is 467 per 100,000 pop.

That's what I'm talking about.

Lastly, where free men own guns they are governed. Where they do not, they are ruled. That's the old cliche of US fringe extremist groups who claim they're armed to protect themselves from their own government. What a sad comment on the society it is.

The Mupersans said...

You've been awarded.... http://mupersan.blogspot.com/2008/11/arte-y-pico-award.html

Duffy said...

Seabee,

I'm not trying to spin you. I'm making the point that we are not a lawless nation and you make it sound like a free fire zone where law and order have collapsed (OK maybe Detroit qualifies on that one). That simply isn't so.

"That's the old cliche of US fringe extremist groups who claim they're armed to protect themselves from their own government. What a sad comment on the society it is."

Those wacky extremists who coined that phrase were the ones who wrote the Constitution and founded our nation.

To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, countries or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government. The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws.
---John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States 475 (1787-1788)

All our violence and homicide and we have yet to produce a Hitler, Mussolini or Pol Pot. Funny how that works.

LDU said...

I sincerely hope Obama doesn't get knocked off like JFK was.

I do have serious concerns about the implications Obama's victory will have for the Iraqi people. Obama has pledged to withdraw US troops from Iraq by 2010 - the question is who will fill the power void?

Are the Americans willing to accept defeat (or have they already accepted shall i say) in Iraq by their election of Obama?

Are the Americans accepting breaking their promise to the Iraqi people in reconstructing their nation?

Are the Americans, by the election of Obama, leaving Iraqis at the mercy of militias?

The Americans bombed Iraq to smithereens - and overthrew the only secularist leader who held Iraq together - they therefore have to stay there for as long as it takes to get Iraq on its feet and to make sure that every Iraqi has access to education, water,
electricity and health care - just as they had under Saddam.

Seabee said...

Duffy, I said 'violent' not 'lawless'. Look at the stats on the website you were quoting, which confirm the US is one of the most violent.
'Murder with firearms', 8th, only after countries like Zimbabwe, South Africa and Columbia.
'Gun violence homicide' 14th
'Assaults per capita', 6th

Don't you think that two homicides every hour indicates a violent society?

It's getting off subject into the whole area of gun ownership and control, but as you introduced it into the discussion, the last para of your John Adams quote is important. It says: The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws.

That does not mean 200 million firearms in the hands of private, non-militia, individuals.

Seabee said...

Scott & Mandy thank you for the award. I'll print it out and display it on my computer :-)

Seabee said...

LDU, it's very complex of course. Iraq had the equal-strongest army in the region until the US disbanded it, one of the most disastrous mistakes they made. Maybe the troops could be re-enlisted, maybe a UN force could replace the US military...

the real nick said...

Just think of the problems the extreme ideology of the far right Bush years have generated.

The collapse of the financial system, the world in recession,


You are bit liberal with facts here. The de-regulation drive was started under Reagan and continued right up under Clinton.
(Similarly under Labour in the UK).

You can blame a lot on Bush, but the subprime disaster and global recession? Huh?

Seabee said...

Yes Nick, started before Bush came on the scene but he had eight years to reverse it, instead his policies brought it to a head.

dave said...

Two questions:-

1. How much does a Secret Service Agent on Presidential protection duty get paid?

2. Will we hear anything more of Sarah Palin or will she return to throwing snow-balls with the family in Alaska dreaming of what could have been?

ZeTallGerman said...

"All our violence and homicide and we have yet to produce a Hitler, Mussolini or Pol Pot. Funny how that works." Duffy, I guess you'd like to believe that... if we're talking numbers of innocent people killed for a political or cultural / religious agenda, then let's remember the Native American tribes, Korea, Vietnam, Hiroshima, Iraq, etc.
All I actually really wanted to say is: GO OBAMA! When the election was over, I could hear a huge sigh of relief all over the planet.

Seabee said...

Dave

Q1, I don't know but I'm sure it isn't enough.

Q2. She'll probably continue as the darling of the right for a while. Where she ends up I guess depends on the result of the inquest and power struggle going on in the GOP.

In spite of what so many of her supporters said, I'm far from convinced that America, and the world, needs an ordinary WalMart hockey mom with her finger hovering over the big red button. So hopefully it's a one-way ticket to Anchorage.

Seabee said...

ZTG, re 'we have yet to produce a Hitler etc'. Here's are two paras from an article printed in an American publication, The Nation.

After all, theirs was a plan--labeled in 2002 the Bush Doctrine--of global domination conceptually so un-American that, in my childhood, the only place you would have heard it was in the mouths of the most evil, snickering imperial Japanese, Nazi, or Soviet on-screen villains.


"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality--judiciously, as you will--we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors.... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."


The full article is here.

Duffy said...

"Don't you think that two homicides every hour indicates a violent society?"

The great majority of that violence is concentrated in our cities which are governed top to bottom by liberal democrats where citizens have no right to carry firearms. Philadelphia is several times more dangerous than Iraq. Most of the areas outside cities are very safe.

"The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws."

That does not mean 200 million firearms in the hands of private, non-militia, individuals.


Actually it does: ""I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials."
— George Mason, in Debates in Virginia Convention on
Ratification of the Constitution, Elliot, Vol. 3, June 16, 1788

"Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that's good."
George Washington
First President of the United States

But these are just the rantings of right wing extremists I guess.

Melanie Nelson said...

Fascinating post AND comments...not a punch is withheld indeed.

Anonymous said...

Canada has stricter gun controls, and yet dont have a more dangerous society than the US by any means.

Also its funny to see right wingers treat the Constitution as Holy Grail when it comes to guns, and yet to consider it outdated and irrelevant when it comes to personal liberties and human rights.......

Seabee said...

Duffy, all the quotes used by people advocating guns in the community are from 200 plus years ago. The principles stated then reflected the conditions of the time. It could well be that the people making those statements then would be making very different statements if they were alive today because America is now a very different place.


Melanie it's great isn't it, a debate with people offering varying opinions but an intelligent debate without the abuse that's too often a feature of the internet.

So far at least - but I'll censor anything that's abusive ;-)

moto said...

I'm curious why people in the rest of the world care so much about U.S. gun control laws and the murder rate. I don't mean that as a put down I'm just curious.
By the way I lived in the U.S. for 43 years until last May. I lived everywhere from just outside NYC to Chicago to Miami and most recently LA. I have never personally seen a shooting or know of anyone that has been murdered. Rarely was I concerned about my safety unless I ventured into the wrong section of a city. Maybe I'm just lucky but its hardly a warzone. Someone stated that there are two homicides per hour. Well maybe thats true but you have to remember there are 300 million people in the country.
Blast away.

Seabee said...

Moto it'll be interesting to see how people answer your question.

First thing, gun control & murder rate wasn't the point of the posting. I was talking about my fear for President-elect Obama's safety and I put it in context, that context being the violence of US society. The comments took us into gun control.

By the way, of the domestic policies in the US I don't think it's just the violence and gun ownership which people are interested in. I think, for example, the health system is another area.

In my opinion it's because in a general sense people are interested in the US and what goes on there. In addition, it's the one country that affects the lives of so many people around the world in a direct way.

There's also the irony that these things which so many people outside the US see as failings are against the backdrop of America being vocally and aggressively promoted as the best example of democracy, as the example the rest of the world should adopt.

Re your comment about the population size vs murders, the websites we were talking about above take that into account, they show violence, murder rate etc as a figure per head of population.

Duffy said...

Anon:

"Also its funny to see right wingers treat the Constitution as Holy Grail when it comes to guns, and yet to consider it outdated and irrelevant when it comes to personal liberties and human rights."

Not funny, sad. We are vastly over regulated here. Everything but everything has an law, code, or ordinance about it. Sadly, Europe is actually worse. Our government was founded on the idea that people should be protected from force or fraud and otherwise be left to their own devices. That hasn't been the case in about a hundred years.

"Duffy, all the quotes used by people advocating guns in the community are from 200 plus years ago. The principles stated then reflected the conditions of the time. It could well be that the people making those statements then would be making very different statements if they were alive today because America is now a very different place."

Sure then we'd be talking about my right to own a printing press but not a blog as that is the free speech equivalent of an assault rifle. No, the reality is that all rights are reserved to the people with minimal (as designed anyway) constraints on them by government.

I want to live in a country where married gay couples have closets full of assault weapons and a marajuana field in their back yard.

Duffy said...

One last thing and then I'll shut up:

Fears for President Elect Obama's safety are not unfounded but remote. The Secret Service is really, really good. They've improved their game by several orders of magnitude since Reagan was shot.

Anonymous said...

I was one of those people that voted for the continuation of Bush's catastrophic policies as you say. I'm apparently part of the extreme ideological far right, but that doesn't mean I'd do something like take down Obama. I believe the opposite things on Obama on almost every single subject, but that doesn't mean I would or will do anything illegal. There are very extreme, violent groups on the right AND the left. Yes there's groups like the KKK (which I do not at all agree with) and there's groups like Weather Underground (founded by Obama's pal Bill Ayers). But do not suppose that America is nearly as dangerous a place as you say. Perhaps there are indeed many weapons, and many homicides, yet we're still able to have legal, Constitutional elections. Unfortunately there are violant radicals in America, but there are many, many more of us law-abiding citizens that regardless of differing views we respect the office of POTUS.

Seabee said...

Anon I agree with you except for one thing, "Obama's pal Bill Ayers". Pal?

Seabee said...

Our government was founded on the idea that people should be protected from force or fraud and otherwise be left to their own devices.

Duffy, that simply doesn't work. It's as extreme as Communism at the other end of the political spectrum.

It ignores human nature. If people are left to their own devices we'd have chaos and anarchy, the law of the jungle.

Let me give you three of hundreds of possible examples. One, the financial system is in meltdown largely because of deregulation. People were trusted to do the right thing. They're human, so they did the wrong thing, the thing which ennriched them at the expense of others. Two, traffic. We need rules that dictate which side of the road we should drive on, what a safe speed is, where we should stop to let others proceed. Three, fire and occupational safety. There have to be rules and laws that make places safe for people to work in or visit.

Extremes don't work for anything other than a short period. People, like all animals, need and require a structured society.

Anonymous said...

The handling of public policy as it relate to guns is tricky. Gun ownership escalates violence and increases chances of serious injury and death. A society is definitely better off not having guns.

However, simply banning guns in a society where they are already pervasive can be counterproductive because the "bad guys" will always have guns. Take Mexico for example. Guns are banned there, yet every other weekend you hear about dozens of people being gunned down in one of their cities. Once the gun culture becomes entrenched in a society, it's too late to ban them because everybody has them and feels like they need them.

As for comparing the US to lawless areas of god-knows-where, come on. Yes, the US is more violent than other developed countries (and something needs to be done about it), but it's not like it's a war zone where you're dodging bullets on your way to the supermarket. I've lived in the US for over 30 years and have never seen a gun used in a violent crime. Clearly it can't be THAT bad.