Conundrum

I have not been paying much attention to the Republican Presidential primaries happening south of the border because it’s none of my business and because I can’t bear to witness such wholesale human stupidity. On the other hand, as Pierre Trudeau told the National Press Club in Washington DC in 1969, living next to the U.S. is like sleeping with an elephant; you feel every twitch and grunt.

So it’s hard to ignore. I’m not what you’d call well informed, but I’m not completely uninformed either. What I do know has me facing a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, it seems that of the entire roster, Mitt Romney is the least insane and delusional, although he’s barely less pandering. That implies that if he gets the nomination he’ll actually have a pretty good shot at the throne, as he could turn some disillusioned Obama supporters. And if he does become President, the U.S. will only be somewhat worse off, and its descent over the apocalyptic precipice will only be accelerated marginally.

My inclination is to hope that a nominee farther out on the fringes will get the ticket. Michele Bachmann would have been great, as there’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell she’d get elected (although with climate change messing everything up, such expressions are becoming meaningless), but it looks like she’s bailed out of the race.

So here’s my conundrum:

Do I hope that the marginally whacky person wins, knowing that such a person has a better shot at the White House, but at least if they win they’ll do less damage than one of the other whack jobs?

Or do I hope that an entirely whacky person wins, knowing that such a person has only the slimmest shot at the White House, but if they win it will basically be the end of western civilization as we know it?

It’s all too painful to think about and downright tortuous to watch. It sickens me to hear any U.S. politician speak during campaign season (which is essentially 3.9 years out of every four) because not a word of truth escapes their lips, ever. Every breath is either pandering for votes or parroting for lobbyists.

I can’t really blame U.S.ers for their electoral apathy and low voter turnouts. Just look at what they’re stuck with! (Not just the politicians; the whole system is corrupt and absurd.) I’m not sure who is to blame for that, as it’s a chicken-and-egg situation. Or a snake eating it’s tail. Or maybe a snake eating a chicken egg. Whatever metaphor you choose to spoil, the end result is a so-called “democratic” political system in which the elected have nothing to do with the people who elect them, and a population that gets the government it deserves. It is unfixable.

At times like this I hope the Mayans were right.

Happy, happy people!

According to a study reported by the BBC a few years ago, Danes are the happiest people on earth.

Hey, why not? They’re all nine feet tall, slender, blond, and they have a naked mermaid protecting their capital.

Adrian White, the author of the study, used data from a survey of 80,000 people worldwide to create a “happiness map” – or more precisely, “A Global Projection of Subjective Well-being” – which you can see below. The redder the area on the map the happier the people who live there (with cold, yellow Siberia seeming not very happy at all).

Happiness

It looks like we’re pretty happy over here in Canada, and in the U.S. too. It should be noted that the study was released two years before the 2008 economic melt-down.

I was surprised at the happiness rankings in the Middle-east. Despite all the kvetching, Israelis seem to be as happy as pie, while their neighbours are not amused at all. There’s a notable and surprising exception; Saudi Arabia. Apparently the Saudis are as happy as the Israelis! In light of the secret diplomatic “cables” exposed by Wikileaks this week, in which we learned that the Saudis – like the Israelis – are quite happy to bomb the heck out of Iran, they’re starting to look like happy peas in a happy pod. Perhaps the Saudi-Israeli tensions we’ve been fretting over for the past few decades is a big sham and they’re really BFFs in secret! We’ll need to read more from Wikileaks to find out!

You’ll also notice that Kuwait ranks as happy as Saudi Arabia, and its once-invading neighbour to the north, Iraq, doesn’t even rank a color. Now there’s a fine revenge for 1991, served cold and grey.

Post-racial America

Mixed in with all the recent news about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates are a lot of references to “post-racial America.” Many of those references imply that Barack Obama’s presidency is already a failure because racial and racist events still take place in the United States.

Um. Maybe I’m stating the obvious, but President Obama has only been in office for six months. Six months! You don’t “undo” 400 years of racial and racist culture in six months.

“Post-racializing” is a long and slow process marked by bumps, leaps, and zig-zags. It started with the Emancipation Proclamation. Its wheels were greased with the “mainstreaming” of “colored music” in the 1950s by the likes of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. It took a big leap forward during the civil rights movement. It hit some serious bumps with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the  Rodney King debacle. (Rodney King’s simple comment “why can’t we all just get along?” should be up there with Dr. King’s “I have a dream” in the canon of anti-racist quotables.)

The election of Barak Obama to the office of President is a huge and elegant capriole across an enormous chasm. But it won’t end the racial and racist culture in the United States. Furthermore, Barack Obama is not personally responsible for — nor capable of — ending racialism and racism all by himself.

It’s coming, but it’ll be a long time coming. It’s a matter of generations, not months or years before the U.S. is truly “post-racial.” That doesn’t mean you should give up your Barack Obama-inspired hope (although it would do to let go of the Hope™.) Embrace your hope, and mix it up with positive action, good intentions, and realistic expectations. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all going to go away, overnight, because of some magical election in 2008.

Blork’s Top 10 Things About January 20, 2009

Apparently there may be a few traffic jams around Washington DC on Tuesday. Regardless, I’ve managed to come up with a list of good things about that day. Therefore, I present to you Blork’s Top 10 Things About January 20, 2009:

10. No more misunderestimating.

9. Finally, a hot First Lady!

8. Job opportunities at Halliburton as they open their new “Tenders & Proposals” department (previously deemed unnecessary).

7. Oprah Winfrey to release her copyright on the letter “O.”

6. A lot fewer black SUVs driving around Crawford, Texas.

5. Condoleezza Rice can go back to being an oil tanker.

4. Quadrennial opportunity to learn how to spell inagural innaugurral inaugural.

3. Osama bin Laden might have to sell that timeshare in Florida and go back into hiding.

2. One word: Labradoodle!

1. It’s official: there’s no chance that Dick Cheney will ever become President.

Congratulations, President Obama! No… congratulations America!