Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Land Mines

At the super hot (the temps, I mean) Australian Open Tennis Tournament, Serena Williams, America's sweetheart, wore both a blue dress and a yellow headband with a prominent Nike swoosh. I wonder if there will be any payment from Stockholm for resembling, as she did, the Swedish flag? Too bad she's on record saying her favorite city is...Oslo.

It was right to recognize the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, but I didn't know until this year that he was born on the exact same day as Charles Darwin. Is that interesting, or just trivial? Let me think that over.

I said in this space last year that the issues of governing as president are often different from those of the campaign. And that's true already this time around. With the possibility out there that things can change again quickly, here are the things on which we will, it seems, judge the new administration. Any of these could go wrong, hence the term "land mines".

Recessions come and go, and I don't claim to be an economist. But this one has more the look of an economic tsunami than simply an abnormally high tide. Obama can't be blamed for the wave, but the nation understandably watches carefully to see the effect of this round of economic
stimuli. The rates of unemployment and inflation, which the public understands better than many government-generated economic measures, will be key to consumer confidence. If they break the way the Democrats hope, no amount of opposition solidarity or poison labeling ("It's socialism!") will be able to take off a huge "W' from the presidential scoreboard - a win.

Most countries want on some level to be left alone to live in peace and give their citizens a chance to make good things happen on their own. Afghanistan may be the exception that proves the
rule. That country has been invaded scores of times, but NEVER successfully occupied over a long term. I think the average Afghan likes to go out the back door and squeeze off a few rounds at something moving every day before breakfast. You just DON'T want to be on the other side from them. I hope, as the administration beefs up the troop levels there, that the president has something to remind him of that fact on his shaving mirror. Gorbachev could tell him the whole story why the place is so treacherous.

And Pakistan might be even scarier. This isn't a pile of rubble we're talking about, but a country of over 100 million people, and they have at least one, probably more, nuclear weapons. Musharref's gone, but his successors haven't shown much ability yet, except at collecting their fair share of corruption-generated funds. Stable government hangs in the balance. Danger!

The final land mine lies in the other direction - the past. Not a few people signed on with Obama in order to see some kind of justice brought on to Bush, Cheney and the whole neocon crowd, especially political weasel Karl Rove. Deciding to ignore that vast stinking heap of deceit, partisanship and lies would cost Obama out of the very group he should want to hold on to - younger people. I myself am sickened by the prospect of simp[ly letting that group of oligargichal liars skate free as if it was just fine to turn the Constitution into birdcage liner. This, for the good of future Americans and today's youth, just cannot be allowed to stand.


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