Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

More on the mythical center

Continuing my recent musings, suppose I were to tell you that the midpoint between Honolulu and Nairobi is in Philippines Bay. (I believe it is, approximately.) Would that suggest a way to resolve the "controversy" over Barack Obama's birthplace?

Tom Englehardt, as usual, does a good job explicating the utter pointlessness of the recent adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. (He's written the same essay about 97 times but you can never get too much of a good thing.) Now think about it. Who is the only prominent U.S. politician -- someone whose words are actually noticed by the hairhats on teevee, not a non-serious person such as Bernie Sanders -- who says this?

That would be the otherwise completely wacko Ron Paul. (And no, there are no other exceptions to Paul's wackoness. He says he wants to end the War on Drugs but he doesn't really mean it, he just wants to transfer it to state control. Ditto for all of his other libertarian pretensions. He's actually inimical to individual rights because he rejects the 14th amendment, which means that he does not believe that any of the rights enumerated in the Constitution need be respected by the states. So all of you Cheetoh-dusted Pepsi swillers can scrape the Ron Paul sticker off your parents' basement door.)

And this is the real problem with our politics. The Constitution, with its winner-take-all presidency and similarly modeled state governments, creates barren ground for third parties; while dissent on any one issue cannot bring down a government as in parliamentary systems. The result is that we perpetually have only two competing coalitions, and voters have only a choice between two complete menus, each of which is likely to contain 49% inedible swill.

I can't vote for Ron Paul's foreign policy, and the specific limitations he wants on the federal government, without getting abolishing the federal reserve and repealing the Civil Rights Act. And, now that I'm a citizen of Connecticut, I can't vote for Sen. Blumenthal's support for renewable energy investment without getting his gluttonous appetite for high tech military hardware. And you can no doubt think of your own conundrums.

There are many other big flaws in our Constitution -- not least the grossly unrepresentative Senate. The requirement that we treat it with religious reverence is preposterous. It really doesn't work very well. And we're seeing that right now, with a vengeance.

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