My husband has more patience than I in responding to those who disagree with him, so he tolerates being called a communist and socialist by others, though it seems irrelevant to what he believes.
I am posting his response to a woman with whom he has been corresponding by email. She believes the lies about Obama, and though I won't give you what she has written that Steve is responding to, I think it will be apparent what he defends.
I think what he writes is important for many reasons, but, perhaps, most importantly is it gives a first-hand explanation of what we are up against in China and Japan. While we are arguing about little things, we are being far surpassed by those who know how to focus and keep their eye on the ball as we once did.
I'm glad we agree that the government we are getting is largely bought. I could rail on about the morality of the idea that we the people have allowed a system to be developed in which virtually the sole job of our elected officials is simply getting elected (and then re-elected), and that we have allowed ourselves to be swayed in local, state and national elections over such minor non-policy issues as abortion, prayer in schools, Constitutional amendments on flag burning, global warming, gay marriage and the defensive strategy against a medieval backlash amongst medieval people. With the passage of the bailout bill and the addition of $140 billion in increased earmarks, it seems to me that an involved citizenry would be marching in the streets. That we are not is tragic.
You apparently believe that Jimmy Carter was a fool. So be it. It occurs to me that in response to two oil price shocks he tried to establish a leadership position for the U.S. in the development of alternative energy sources. I happen to believe this is a good idea, whether proposed by a Republican or Democrat, because no matter how much oil is left out there, its location in the world and the increasing cost of getting it means that instability of prices will increase over time. Given that when we started, oil basically just leaked out of the ground and we learned to collect it, refine it and distribute it over fifty years, it seems a reasonable idea that having grown an economy which was dependent upon a more compact energy source than humans or horse, it made sense to me that our national security might be enhanced if we were the ones who identified alternatives and created that technology. Perhaps this might have happened in a manner similar to the way that we have lead the world in electronic innovations. So pardon me if I think it is foolish to be arguing over issues of philosophy at a time when it seemed important that we were looking ahead to finding replacements for oil.
I frankly don't know who the "real Barack Obama" might be. It is altogether possible that he is a Communist, Muslim sympathizer who would enslave us to medieval Islamo-fascists if he had the chance. It is entirely possible that he is more moderate and will act to create a health-care system in which the object is a healthier nation, and not more profitable pharmaceutical companies and "Health Corporations". I happen to think he is willing to take a stand on major issues which affect our citizens, like jobs, the price of fuel and the price of healthcare. And I don't share the dread of "socialism" as I look at allies like the UK, France, Britain, Germany and Japan and see an involved populace and economies which may not be the greatest in the world, but which manage to meet many of the needs of their citizens in a forward-thinking manner.
I recently spent ten days in Japan and China in relation to several projects we are doing in Asia. I took the time to go through a Toyota factory in Japan and was impressed at the remarkable efficiency they have achieved using computerized production controls and a skilled labor force to simultaneously build auto models as diverse as the Prius, Camry and some domestic market models on the same assembly line. This allows them to change the model mix at will as the market changes, something that is killing our own automobile manufacturers while producing what even the Germans will argue are the finest quality automobiles in the world. I visited an R&D center for Mitsubishi Electric where a variety of dedicated scientists and engineers work to find synergy among the diverse divisions of this company as a means to create products which will take them into the next twenty to fifty years. I rode the latest-generation Shinkansen, a remarkable electric train which performs the wholly unremarkable act of transporting thousands of Japanese across the countryside at speeds of up to 180 mph without modification to the original trackbed. While in China, I went through a Chinese elevator factory to see first hand if their quality had improved to the point where we could use components of Chinese manufacture for new high rise buildings. I stayed in Shanghai, where this ancient city is being remanufactured to suit the 21st century needs of the populace.
What I saw in both places were the kinds of technology I used to take for granted that we would develop in the United States. I saw public facilities, roads and factories which I would have in my youth expected to see in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles or New York. Most of all, I listened to people who reminded me very much of the citizens of our country just forty or fifty years ago, secure in the knowledge that industrialization is a tool which can create the means to greater prosperity and more jobs. The national agenda of Japan is survival and finding the means to maintain relevance in a world where their manufacturing base is dwarfed by China. And the national agenda of China appears to be moving 1.3 billion people toward a standard of living which we, and the Japanese take for granted. In both places there are no doubt significant philosophical arguments about how best to realize this agenda, but work on it proceeds apace.
I look at the "political" landscape in the U.S. and find we have become experts in pettiness. We have become the world's premier marketers, yet our political marketing has become every bit as petty as the way that we market our soap (new! Improved! More lather!).
I think that most Americans want nothing more than a job which has a future, doing something which they can be proud of doing and some assurance that their government will help to organize the efforts of millions of diverse citizens. I think that most Americans want a legal system which works for them, and not vice-versa. Most look to the Constitution as a wondrous document which has inspired nations all over the world to provide rights and freedoms for their citizens which were largely unknown in the sixteenth century when America was settled. I think there are some number of us who grew up in the 1950's when we knew that the cars built in our country were the best in the world, our air transport system second to none, our highways better than those in any other nation. At that time, we knew that we built the best weapons in the world and could respond to virtually any threat, anywhere. Our national leadership worked diligently on the development of an infrastructure which would take us into the 21st century. I think most Americans appreciate that we have a system of laws in which even the most heinous criminal is given his day in court. Certainly by today's standards, the taxation in the 1950's was crushing. We owed money from WWII, we were investing in research for space, weapons, and new technologies which would create a secure nation where our children would grow up with even better opportunities than what we had. The only "bests" we still have are in the development of new weapons and the ever-increasingly arcane means to siphon money out of our national savings.
I look at the last eight years and cannot understand what happened to that nation. After a major criminal event, Bush-as-chicken-little ran willy-nilly telling us the sky was falling because a group of medieval and slimly financed psychopaths managed to come up with a clever and very destructive means to crash four commercial airplanes. Our national agenda was lost and we found ourselves in a war which devalued our money, increased the instability in the price of oil and worst of all, took our eyes off our dreams for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. Our once-great manufacturers are struggling or being sold to foreign companies, and meaningful jobs which could be done in America are being shipped overseas in lieu of dealing with problems which have taken years to develop.
In the midst of this election, I watch in awe as a third-rate politician is selected for her TV glamour and "aw-shucks" ordinariness to again appeal to those who bought the same act from George W. Bush. I cannot believe that a woman who believes that men and dinosaurs were on the earth at the same time is being taken as a legitimate and potential successor to the Presidency. I've watched the John McCain who once said that torture was wrong change his tune, and who now grovels for support from the Christian right after saying courageously in 2000 "Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right." This is not the John McCain I supported in 2000, but another cynical version of George W. Bush.
Today we have the privilege to vote for a new president. I'm hoping that we can as a nation find a leader who will again awaken our national priorities. I'm hoping that we can find a national leader who understands that as dangerous as modern criminal terrorists are, the far greater danger lies is allowing them to divert our energies as a great nation. I'm hoping that we can find a national leader who ignited our hopes as Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy did for my parents. For my money, I'm betting that Obama can inspire people more positively than John McCain. And should Obama die while in office, I have little doubt that Joe Biden could pick up the pieces and lead. I have major doubts that Sarah Palin has the vision or intellect to do so.
I don't buy the idea that Arab psychopaths represent a huge threat to our nation. I think they are a threat which needs to be dealt with, and I believe that most of the world's nations have had their own terrorist incidents and can reach agreement on the means to deal with extremists. The Algerian terrorists who afflicted France in the 1970's have largely disappeared, the "Bader-Meinhof" group who terrorized Germany is now largely a memory, and even the IRA has been largely quelled. In none of these cases were the problems solved by large armed conflict, but through diligent police work. More importantly, France, Germany and the UK have managed to deal with more pressing issues while still reducing the quantity of "terror-type" crimes.
I have no illusions that the capture of Osama bin Laden will eliminate Muslim terrorism. Like fundamentalist Christians, the Muslims look around them and are unhappy with the way that the world has evolved. They don't particularly like the idea of parity of men and women or that someone who doesn't hold to their religious dogma may be a world power.
I hope you're still reading at this point. I doubt your dream of America is far different from my own. You may believe that Jimmy Carter was a fool, or that torture is a positive tool in crime fighting, but I'd argue that you would still like to live in an America where our products were second to none and where the primary charge of the government is to chart a course for the next twenty years.