A German View of the U.S.A.

November 2, 2008

Der Speigel’s website has a long English language article on the U.S. and the presidential election:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,587736,00.html

The beginning of the article:

“America is a wonderful country, with jaw-dropping wilderness and wide open spaces that seem as far removed from New York or Los Angeles as the moon. America has the best universities with the most brilliant scientists who win a host of Nobel Prizes year after year.

This is also home to the world’s leading think tanks, where highly impressive studies are conducted on topics like the future of world politics, religion and capitalism. These institutions produce works written in a readily understandable language based on a firm belief in the power of reasoning, rather than ivory tower musings with no connection to reality.

In all cultural spheres, from classical to trash, this is where the avant-garde emerges, time and again. Capitalism is regularly reinvented in America before it sets out again to conquer the world. America still attracts immigrants from countries around the globe. And, of course, from a historical perspective, it remains a uniquely superior power.

This country believes that it has a predetermined role in the history of mankind — a manifest destiny.

America? A horrendous country that betrays its own values every few years, thus forfeiting its moral right to lead the Western world. It elects presidents who know nothing about the world, and have no interest in learning more, which explains why they readily succumb to errors and illusions, only to reveal their utter amazement when they finally — and usually too late — admit their mistakes. Since 1945, America has been fighting wars in countries that it knows very little about, and under premises that have almost nothing to do with reality.

America is a superpower around the globe, but a Third World country at home, with an infrastructure that defies description. There are collapsing bridges, power failures along the entire East Coast, and homes in places like Florida, North Carolina and Texas are regularly destroyed every year by hurricanes that flatten houses as if they were beach bungalows in Haiti.

There is also the obscene contrast between rich and poor, which has hardy interested or shocked any administration since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. What is even more obscene is the ignorance of a government that allows millions of people, in the richest country in the world, to live without health insurance. This is a government that stands by idly as the (primarily black) city of New Orleans disappears under floodwaters. Yes, the most obscene aspect of all remains the unacknowledged racism in this country of pragmatic enlightenment — the ongoing prejudices of whites against blacks.

America is an extreme country, and no one feels indifferent about it. No matter whether you live in Karachi, Hamburg or Tbilisi — you are bound to have an opinion about America. The US has friends and enemies all around the globe. America serves as a role model for Western industrialized societies, a model based on the spirit of Protestantism. But it also provides a paragon example of the downsides of this approach: materialism, unbridled consumerism, reckless exploitation of people and natural resources. This country the size of a continent has fascinating strengths and unparalleled weaknesses. It inspires both devoted admiration and aggressive contempt.”

The article goes on for many more words and is worth reading in its entirety.


Clergy say onto Hoyt and Kavanaugh – Stop Being Nasty.

September 8, 2008

Apparently, I’m not the only one bothered by the nasty campaign in the 144th Assembly District According to the Buffalo News, local religious leaders are asking both Sam Hoyt and Barbra Kavanaugh to stop the negative campaigning.

“We’ve become increasingly distressed at the personal tone of the campaigns,” said Rabbi Drorah Setel of Temple Beth El in Niagara Falls.

She was joined by three other religious leaders at Niagara Square who called for a more civil debate that focuses on the issues.

“We are appealing to the heart and conscience of the city to denounce this distasteful and destructive use of personal struggles for political office. It takes a community to draw the line and, as religious leaders, we’re representing the conscience of the community,” said the Rev. Tom Yorty, senior pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church.


Sam Hoyt won’t get my vote

September 7, 2008

Here in Buffalo’s 144th Assembly District, Sam Hoyt is running against Brabra Kavanaugh in a bitterly fought primary battle. Neither side seems to mind campaign material by third parties full of innuendo and half-truths directed against the other. But, oh, when it is directed against them, it is another matter entirely.

In the last two days, I’ve gotten 3 mailings from “Citizens for Sam Hoyt.” Here are the first two:

Sam Hoyt campaign mailing Sept 2008

Sam Hoyt campaign mailing Sept 2008

sam hoyt campaign mailing Sept 2008

Sam Hoyt campaign mailing Sept 2008

As I told the nice campaign worker who came to my house last month, I’ve voted for Hoyt before and I was probably going to vote for him again. In general terms, I like his position on most issues. And I saw llittle in Kavanaugh that would make me want to vote for her instead of him.

I was even going to vote for him despite the relevation that he had a extra-marital affair with an intern. I think that cheating on a spouse is wrong (unless, of course, said spouse gives a priori consent – i.e., an open marriage). Ultimately, it is a matter for the people involved. If Hoyt’s wife didn’t hold it against him, why should I? And, I told myself, at least she wasn’t his intern and she was over 21. Even more amazingly, it wasn’t even illegal at the time. I felt a wee bit dirty but I was going to vote him anyway. I tend to think that politicians tend to be sleazy under the best of circumstances. And, anyway, to paraphrase Randy Newman, he may be sleazy politician but at least he is our sleazy politician.

I was going to vote for Sam Hoyt. I got the first 2 mailings on the same day. I was not impressed. I don’t want to hear how the other guy sucks. I want to hear how great my guy is. Negative campaigning is a real turnoff for me. I told myself I was still going to vote for Hoyt unless I got another nasty negative campaign mailing supporting Hoyt before the primary.

Snakes Alive!!! What did I find in mailbox the very next day? Yes, you guessed it. Another missive from Citizens for Sam Hoyt:

hoyt campaign mailing Sept 2008

Sam Hoyt campaign mailing Sept 2008

Congralutions, Citzens for Sam Hoyt, your campaign literature has convinced me not to vote for him. Now, I have a problem. I don’t think I want to vote for Kavanaugh instead. She, too, is the beneficiary of a third party negative campaign by “Mothers and Fathers Demanding Answers” Citizens for Sam Hoyt claims that Tom Golisano, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres, is behind the negative campaign against Hoyt. Update 09/08/08: Apparently the Golisano political action committee is Responsible New York It seems that Hoyt has more than one enemy.

I can’t show any campaign mailings from Mothers and Fathers Demanding Answers or Responsible New York since I didn’t get any. I’m told that they are just as nasty the ones against Sam Hoyt in their own way.

I just don’t know what to do on Tuesday. Maybe, I’ll just stay home. I really wish we could vote for “None of the Above.”