layers of stagnation

Have you ever noticed that our government is excellent at forming committees that get nothing done?

Not only do we constantly form commissions, studies and investigations, but those committees have committees …… that still get nothing done. Katrina was 2 1/2 years ago: committee upon committee. The toxic FEMA trailers assigned to those homeless people …… more committees upon committees. The current hearings on the FAA not carrying out their safety inspections on commercial planes…. more hearings. The disgusting conditions at Walter Reed Hospital and the overall lack of adequate care for our returning veterans …… more talk at the Capitol. The dearth of proper war gear, like protective vests, armor and vehicles ….. constant talk and blame-seeking but no results for our self-sacrificing troops (strongly upheld by both Democrats and Republicans alike —- do you think their talk- and- no -action could be deemed “hypocritical?)) in Afghanistan and Iraq.

With a lack of inertia in our government, it is therefore no surprise at all that there is no time for new legislation like health care and immigration policy. We are so busy cleaning up the already existing mess that by the time our legislators must deal with new laws, its time for one of their many hiatuses. No time left to better this country and make real progress, only time left to go back home to pander and promise more of the same nothingness.

I am calling for a sweeping new mind-set: competition for excellence in action. Competition underlies much of what goes on in our country, from business to education to charitable giving. Americans have a deep need to be better than the next guy. We need to elect a person who firmly believes in and lives by excellence and action. That person must firstly have the intelligence, then the vision and stamina to formulate and carry out policy. He must recognize the difference between action for change and the status quo.

John McCain has been in the Senate for decades. He is so out-of-touch with the reality of America’s needs in 2008. I try hard to find good in everything, but I am at a loss here. He was a POW in the Hanoi Hilton for 5 years. Are we done yet using that as a reason for thinking that he can change or run this country today? Give the man credit for undergoing that horrendous treatment in patriotic service to our country. However, how can McCain, as soon as he became the apparent GOP nominee for President, explain his change of heart that torture in Iraq and Afghanistan is now acceptable? Where did his moral decency go? Anything for a vote. This is not democratic politics; this is a lack of inner strength and vacuum of excellence.

McCain’s intellectual ability, or absence of it, has me worried also. Both he and our current President are very jocular in public appearances. Bush, during the Katrina mess, joked with Brown, the head of FEMA. He said that “Brownie” was doing a fantastic job. Only thing was that Brownie was not doing a fantastic job. Brown had come to FEMA from a position of heading up a horse show venue. Bush thought the next logical step (who knew?) was to put this man in charge of helping our citizens during and after the worst natural tragedies. And then to joke about it.

John McCain thought it funny and appropriate, even after losing over 4000 of out troops in Iraq, to start singing “Bomb, bomb, bomb…..bomb Iran” in a pathetic rendition of the Beach Boys “Barbara Ann”. Stupid, ignorant and out-of-touch with reality behavior. Just how seriously can we take him at his word on the value of our troops (each and every one!!) when he jokes about more war, more bombing? Bush’s and McCain’s joking about issues that have vital impact on our lives and on our international reputation is degrading, dumb and embarrassing. These supposed leaders have dumbed-down the parameters for leadership here in the U.S. For God’s sake, the United States is not some fraternity house and this is not an election for “head brother”. We need a pledge (!) to excellence, not to idiocy. The person running this country must have the intellect to see the gravity of these issues and make appropriate changes.

Enter Barack Obama. Yes, the man has lived the American Dream. His mother, without huge resources, raised a sensitive and intelligent person. He worked hard, got himself an excellent education, and then went into public service. Yet I sense an underlying layer of sadness, of gravitas. It wasn’t a cake walk for him. This is good. He seems to understand and acknowledge the shortcomings of the U.S. But more importantly, he has the intellect, foresight and vision to come up with solutions for those problems. Also, his demeanor is very business-like: he doesn’t waste time and energy on answering stupid, misleading personal attacks. He’s too busy for that nonsense. He’s committed to actually getting things done. Obama is the New Order: he is excellence in action personified. Furthermore, this is his time, a time when there is a demand for change in real policy and its methods of implementation. He is not entrenched in our current static, useless, red-tape-all-over-the-place government. And don’t tell me that McCain has so much more experience than Obama. McCain’s experience is simply “time served”. The status quo, do-nothing, take-all-the-spoils terms McCain has served is exactly what we do not want. We need a new, updated model for the people who serve in our government. Simply, not only is Obama the right choice for America, but the times and circumstances of 2008 are absolutely right for Obama. He will set a new level for excellence. Then hopefully, if just out of sheer American competitiveness, other elected officials will follow suit. That is leadership.

Yes we can.

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