Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I am a skeptic. I am a skeptic about pretty much everything -- a "Show Don't Tell" sort of guy.

So while the majority of the world seems all a titter over Obama, I don't. I don't hate him (yet). I just don't get all a titter. Don't get me wrong: I am not a Bush apologist. But just because I don't like Bush does not mean I do like Obama. It's not either-or, okay?

I guess the optimism of the country is good in a way. There is some amount of self-healing and placebo effect of a positive attitude. So in a way, I am glad that attitude is there. But I also think that attitude is dangerous. Well, maybe dangerous isn't the right word, but it's in the ballpark. There has been a sort of messiah complex built around the man, which I don't think is a good thing. Firstly, it allows him to do get a pass when he does bad things. He's the messiah, he must be right. Secondly, there is this little gnawing fear that if he disappoints, people will over react in the opposite direction. And, quite honestly, that may be worse than getting a mulligan on doing the wrong things.

I do totally get the celebration of the black community that they actually feel represented. (I have pretty much never felt represented, though I never had to sit at the back of a bus or eat my lunch out back.) And I guess they really should celebrate that. Though I think the real progress on that front occurs when race is not even so noticed. Both sides are guilty here: there are sub-camps that like him and dislike him because of his race. The real celebration occurs when there is no celebration. Ironic.

I didn't actually sit down and watch the inauguration. The TV was on. I was in and out of the room. I heard bits and pieces. But it is interesting that with partial deafness and full inattention I picked up on the same phrases that the media did:

"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."

Maybe I am being too picky here, but immediately 2 things really bothered me (beyond the point that he is a politician and I already doubt he really is looking for something that works.)

  • First, I am bothered by the fact that the question is "does it work?" instead of "is it right?" While "it works" is seriously important in the evaluation of something, it cannot be the sole justification. We could probably act like Somali pirates and steal everything of value on the international waters to finance our failing economy. That might work. But it isn't right. In the same regard, we can steal money from an increasingly unemployed population via taxation. That might work. But I don't think it will. It may make the problem bigger and put the pain off for another day. And it isn't right.
  • Secondly, history has shown us what works. And I doubt seriously that will be considered. In the history of the world, the more free the economy, the more successful it has been. The less intervention, the more the return. What works would require -- not doing nothing -- but UNdoing lots of things. The sad part of this is: it not only is the answer to "is it right?" but it is also the answer to "does it work?" And yes, there would be those god awful selfish people making tons of money. Odd that selfishness is so successful, huh? Odd that our culture teaches how evil it is even when it positively answers both "does it work?" and "is it right?".

The one thing Obama seems determined to do (and I am slightly optimistic about) is attempt to be inclusive. There is the possibility that this means he will just get everyone's hands dirty so blame goes all around, but there is also the (slight) possibility that he might actually listen to someone that holds an opposing viewpoint. He did say:

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers."

This. This does give me a tiny sparkle of hope. I don't know that I have ever heard any public figure acknowledge that we were anything but a Judeo-Christian society. Often they even try to say we were founded on those beliefs (even though that statement is categorically incorrect). But the fact that there is a slight acknowledgment of non-christians and (gasp) even non-believers among us does at least inspire a tiny spark of optimism. Maybe, in my own skeptical tiny way, I suffer from a diminished form of the same messiah complex, but it sure beats "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots."


Og Make Blog said...

I see no one has dared make any comments. I have tempered what I was about to say, but I'll probably get in trouble anyway.

Emotionalist republic? Not yet, you say? I beg to differ. The same people were hair triggered to fire off the venom at W ... a source of pride to them to rush to hate him. Now they have 'their' Messiah. Last I remembered, Congress legislated ... and look who has been in charge for the last two years.

I consider Mr. '57 states' to have committed the first act of High Treason today with his intention of signing tomorrow an Executive Order closing Gitmo. Before anyone starts screaming about the Constitution and Civil Rights, let me remind them that the military rules outside that document with court's martial. I see nothing wrong with letting those bastards rot in Hell or Gitmo. The civil system in the majority of the world needs to be a lot cleaner before anyone criticizes.

Spork In the Eye said...

I got mixed feelers about Gitmo. I suspect most of those guys are bad guys, but I do believe in individual rights (which is a different thing than civil rights). I dont give a rat's ass what the rules say, they deserve a fair trial of some means.

The big problem now is: even if they were NOT a bad guy before, they're good and mad as fire ants now. Now there aint any way to deal with them.

El Gee said...

The "Obamasiah" has been elevated to a point where he can only fail and when he does, there will be riots and violence.

Personally, I do not hate him. As a Moderate to Conservative Christian, I question his choice of words regarding faith. I would go into greater detail but I a don't want to get into flame wars. Let's just say I would prefer him to be an agnostic or an atheist rather than tell people he is a Christian, and leave it at that.

Over all I agree with your post.

Spork In the Eye said...

I suspect you are in the minority if you'd prefer him to be atheist/agnostic. I just saw a poll that showed over time (going back to 60's) people's reaction to "Would you elect a -blank- for president?" where -blank- was black, gay, atheist, and a number other attributes. Over time there was much more acceptance of almost everything except atheist, which remained the lowest.

My personal opinion is that the president should be atheist even if the man holding office is not. What I mean is: decisions should be non-theistic (aka atheist).

Og Make Blog said...

Wow. Atheist simply means someone professing no belief.

Obamania is a cult of personality. The puppet master is/was Tom Daschle, or at least he was the front man ... who exactly is behind the machine remains to be seen.

Oh, Gerald Warner in "The Telegraph" over in Wankerland points out the similarity to Tony Blair's ascension in 1997. Warner is not amused.

Spork In the Eye said...

Unfortunately, "atheist" has almost lost meaning. It means too many different things to too many different people. Even the dictionary definition is "wrong" in my book.

Originally (and philosophically) theism/atheism was a metaphysical stance. (i.e. belief in the mystical/supernatural). Gnosticism/agnosticism was an epistemological stance. (i.e. the idea that knowledge is knowable or not.) In that context it is incorrect to say "are you atheist or agnostic?" since they were not either-or. You fell into exactly one category: agnostic atheist, gnostic atheist, agnostic theist, or gnostic theist.

I still use atheism in the "classical" sense: not theist (or non-theist). This could range from "I believe no gods exist" to a squirrel.

But that's sort of off topic, huh?

Og Make Blog said...

A little quote from a news article....
"Obama advisers say one of the biggest surprises of recent secret briefings on trouble spots around the globe was how unstable, exposed and dangerous Pakistan is."

I swear I can hear W breathing a sigh of relief and giggling all the way to Dallas. I think I just heard him say, "Here ya' go hot shot.... go get 'em! Eh heh, eh heh." His daddy was dealing with that problem many moons ago...most importantly in '91 when Sr. kept Pakistan and India from throwing nukes at one another (closest any two countries have ever been.) Just how naive are these guys?

Spork In the Eye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spork In the Eye said...

[edited for typo]

Thats very timely that you should mention that. I just watched an interview with an extremely probama guy. (mine. I coined the word. I call dibbs.) Anyway, he wrote a book describing all the crap Obama is inheriting. The data is old and it was written generically before he even knew who won the election.

Ironic that a reporter from the NYTimes knew it was an issue. (And anyone that's ever talked for more than 5 minutes with an Indian knows it.)