Political observations especially for this week:
Two of the biggest increasers of our national debt despite a supposed conservative, small government philosophy: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. See a tell-all graph here.
Two of the biggest "nation builders" despite proclaimed policies against that: Ronald Reagan (in Lebanon) and George W. Bush, with destructive consequences. For an overview on the origin and consequences of the poorly planned Lebanon mission, see this article. As far as Iraq and Afghanistan, read this article or other articles from in-depth sources.
Now, Barack Obama served on a board of directors with a convicted revolutionary / bomber, Bill Ayres, but I have not heard that they are pals. A number of leading Republicans were on that same board.
Meanwhile, speaking of a real association, John McCain had Phil Gramm as his chief economic adviser for a lengthy period, and Gramm was fired (resigned) only after he made a complete fool of himself in July 2008 (he said, among other things, "You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession." And, "We have sort of become a nation of whiners, you just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline.")
Phil Gramm was one of the chief architects of de-regulation at every level of finance, supported by John McCain and leading to the false economy which recently has shown its deep instability. John McCain, with his wealth and his distance from most-things-non-military, even recently stated that the economy is sound then tried to cover up his gaffe. But this poor understanding of the integration of the financial policy of continued "growth" with environmental issues, can lead us to a world that is far more difficult than the current or projected financial and economic difficulties create. An overheated, energy-starved and water-depleted world will not serve even the wealthy, as the walls of protection are stripped away by the hungry, thirsty masses.
Last, I will state plain and clear my disgust with those who sell their service and their war records, trying to convert them into money and power. Two people who come to mind: Rudolf Giuliani, who tried to cash in on 9/11/2001 and terrorism, and John McCain, who should be ashamed to be trying to cash in on the suffering he endured years ago. In truth, John Kerry in 2004 also dabbled with some of the same posturing ("Reporting for duty" is one quote that stands out). People with strong characters don't do that.
Here is an article from a NY Times of 1938 (you may need to click on it to enlarge it) that also says much that is close to my political thinking in general, when a call to support troops and build up the military is considered as patriotic without further thought.
Some of the political questions I have learned to ask of conservatives and progressives can be presented here:
Are the so-called conservatives really conserving of our national treasures of environmental health such public protection of low-cost, clean drinking water, and are they using discretionary money for projects that create jobs for all and at the same time build our national infrastructure (such as renewable energy expansion would)? I would love to meet a real conservative.
And are so-called progressives really speaking for the great majority of people, making sure those who are willing to try have health care, a job, and a decent life and the opportunity to create meaning in that life? Are the progressives active enough in promoting the values that will make America more elevated in its view of the world, more honest in its view of itself, and more active in creating a better world. I would love to meet a real progressive.
These latter traits are also those valued by true conservatives as well as progressives, and are the ones valued throughout the world and that grant the United States the opportunity, still, to be the leader of the free world. We need to support an America with deep values, with principled thoughts and actions. That is the America whose standing can survive even great economic downturns and other world-class challenges.