Wednesday, September 14, 2011
After a short hiatus...
So it's been a while since my last post, and a lot has been going on both personally and politically.
On a personal note, I participated in the 30th Annual Hood to Coast Relay Race. For those of you not familiar with this race, there are approximately 1,200 teams that run approximately 200 miles from Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood (the exterior of Timberline Lodge was actually used for the film "The Shining") through Portland, OR and onto Seaside on the Oregon Coast. Each team has 12 members, with six team members in each of two vans. I was recruited onto this team by a woman from work, who was in the other van, so I knew no one I was doing the race with. I'll tell you what, as a first experience, I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to do this race with. Everyone was so supportive, and made the running and the overall experience incredibly enjoyable. It's amazing how quickly you can bond with a group of people by spending nearly 36 hours in a van with them; especially since we're all sleep-deprived and exhausted from running anywhere between 15 - 20 miles. We saw each other at our highs (right before the runs) and lows (right after the runs) and I think it really contributed to the sense of team camaraderie. Our team did not come in first and I think our pre-race time actually disqualified us before we even began, but none of that really mattered, because the experience was more of a team/personal accomplishment than actually completing against the other teams (it's my philosophy of running, personified in a relay race). The finish was also quite wonderful, because not only did we get to meet up and hang out with the other van and the rest of our team members, but I also got to see some old New York co-workers who were also participating in the race on another team. I didn't stick around for the beach party, because the four hours of sleep in three days had definitely taken a toll on me. Overall, it was a great experience, and if you haven't done so before, you should consider forming or joining a team and applying for a spot (that's another thing, the race is VERY difficult to get into - nearly 10,000 team apply, and only 1,200 get spots).
In politics, it's been a pretty exciting month thus far. We had the president giving a much-anticipated jobs speech, with Republicans rebuking him days before it was even giving, and then following that up with another Republican primary debate where they threw the president's plan and reason out the window. And then there was the whole ten year remembrance of September 11, 2001, but I'll get to that later.
The president's speech was, as expected, a heavy-handed call on Republicans to work with Democrats on doing what needs to be done to create jobs. The plans and ideas, though vague, seemed to be a road map of how the president plans to blame Republicans if they fail to help him institute this nearly $500 billion plan. The problem is that Republicans have been unfazed before in the face of the president's threats (and the potential public outcry), and the most likely scenario is that their obstinate politicking will continue, despite the deleterious effect the high unemployment and low economic growth is having on our economy. While I think that the president's speech was more political posturing than anything else - the real proof will be in the bill itself - I think it was necessary posturing, considering the Republicans unwillingness to work with anything that might have even a small positive impact on the president.
The Republican debate was a bit more interesting with the inclusion of the newest person to jump into the fray, Texas Governor Rick Perry. I'm not a big fan of Perry, and I think he has no chance of winning the general election - though his chances of getting the Republican nomination are pretty high - but I think he adds a much needed Texas Governor (asshole) to the race, which had been sorely lacking. The funny thing about Perry getting into the race, is that he basically makes Michelle Bachmann irrelevant, and severely limits the possibility of Sarah Palin getting into the primary (unless of course she thinks she can beat him in a head-to-head fight for the fringe right - something she might very well be able to do). All Bachmann could do during the debate was continue to bring up "Obamacare" over and over, trying to tie it to every question asked, regardless of relevance. What Perry does for this Republican primary that none of the other candidates are able to do is bridge the gap between the party establishment and the far right (including the tea party). Rick Perry will stand up and talk like a well-seasoned politician, but then in the next sentence will call social security, probably the greatest social program the government offers, and serves what are probably the most important (politically speaking) constituents to winning an election, a ponzi scheme. His brand of Texas talk is the standard "in your face, if you don't like it we're doing it anyway", kind of politics that those on the far right adore; while his actual politics (policy-wise) puts him much more in line with standard Republican ideas and ideals. It's still anyone's game, with the first primary a little less than four months away, but I think we're seeing some standouts as the debates weed out those unqualified for the office (although none of them seem to be getting the notice, because we haven't seen anyone else drop out since Tim Pawlenty).
Finally, I think that I should address the remembrance of September 11, 2011. The horror of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center will certainly be something that I will never forgot. However, not at the time, nor at any time after, have I lived with the illusion that we all of the sudden became some hyperbolized haven for liberty and tranquility, and that our subsequent military interventions were benevolent conquests to spread freedom to people that were wallowing under the manacles of violent despots, just waiting to be released.
However, I'm don't want to get into the manipulation and sickening use of the attack for political purposes; instead I think it's important to remember that there were nearly 3,000 people that were killed, and that those people were innocently murdered for the sake of a radical religio-political ideology whose aim it was to strike fear into our hearts, and disrupt our way of living. The people who were killed were fathers and mother, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. Many thousands of people that were nowhere near the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, or the field outside of Shanksville, PA, were affected by losing someone they loved. The ability to deal with and move on from this tragedy has been different for everyone, and some people grieve best by getting revenge. Some people grieve by withdrawing, and closing themselves off to the outside world until they've had time to figure things out for themselves. Some people go on with their lives as if nothing has changed, constantly trying to not remember the horrific events they've witnessed, or the loved ones they've lost. Others simply weep at the unimaginable destruction that was wrought, both to the planes and the buildings that were crashed into, but also in the hearts of people who cannot comprehend what would compel someone to do something so awful to others. The truth is that there is no comprehension of how people can come up with, plan and execute such a ghastly endeavor; but I guess our goal should not be to comprehend, but to feel sympathy not only for ourselves, but also for those that harbor so much hatred and anger within themselves.