Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Critique of Critical Thinking:  Experience and What McCain and Obama Are Really Saying.

Experience got us here. Putin's experience said, "Go into Georgia." Rumsfeld's experience said, "Go Into Iraq." I believe that the world is already undergoing an immense amount of change. I see Obama's style as actually leading that change, being at the helm of it, rather than necessarily making change. Obama's change would likely be that he would have an approach that doesn't say, "I'm going to do everything myself."

I am an independant. I believe what I believe in snippets. I don't buy a candidate lock-stop-and barrel.  

I watched McCain on C-SPAN, live, during Iraq hearings when he noted how we would beat back terrorists in one area, not have enough troops to hold the last area we fought in, so they would run over there. His most brilliant line was, "What are we playing here, some giant game of whack-o-mol." So, I supported him on the surge.

However, in the bigger picture - I studied Military Sociology in College - and noted that they were putting Petraus - a Military Sociology professor - in charge. It is never the plan, it is the execution.  

What is experience? It is when all the information you learned in school, or someone taught you, is put to the test - by an occurence in life. That information, cycles back through your mind, becomes behavior, and then - you know something on a deeper level. Its not book knowledge, its experience. The question is, where does your experience leed?

McCain had some campaign finance trouble in the past. After that experience, he became gung-ho, for campaign finance reform. Perhaps - he was trying to reframe his image from one who was in trouble, a part of the problem - to one that was part of the solution. It makes sense. 

However, he may have overcompensated. His campaign finance reform is what became the independant organizations that "Swift Boated" our last election. In my opinion - killed the delicate intellectual mind challenge that is democracy.

If you want to see what I mean, remember the Ukrainian Presidential Candidate who was poisoned? His entire face was covered in weird lesions. Search online - try to find one of their debates. I was stunned by the quality of the debate.  

What we have now... is really bludgeoning each-other with talking points. IT IS NOT DEBATE. So, we stand on a cross-roads.

Lets open the debate.

Georgia: Could it be that the United States had something to do with triggering this? After-all. The Russians did take four US Humvees that were part of training exercises from Georgia. I say this with the deepest patriotism. Because if we get this wrong, we start another cold war with Russia - that will damn us for decades. IT WILL BE A PROBLEM SO BIG OUR CHILDREN WILL STILL DEAL WITH IT.  

US history reads that America was blindsided by the attack at Pearl Harbor. However, the attack on the US Navy came at a time when the US navy was planning an embargo on the Island of Japan.  

The US was about to lay seige, like in medieval times, running down the supplies before storming the castle. We lost a lot of people as Japan tested the concept of pre-emptive war.  

In a sense Japan said, "We get them in port - or we get them off our shores." The choice, when analyzed, that Japan made - would be a simple and obvious choice.  

If we always do what we always did, we're gonna always get what we always got. If we always pretend we didn't have our fingers in the cookie jar, we will escalate conflicts, in an unweildy fashion with large consequences.

So, McCain a patriot. Who wants best for the country. Goes after Russia by the throat. Perhaps thinking in his head," I will appear presidential, I will look tough - like a commander in chief." But, is that really commander in chief?

Remember the phrase, "Tread lightly, but carry a big stick." One of our greatest President's said that. What if McCain's words (Republican's knocking Obama for only being good with words) were all it took to incite the next diplomatic trainwreck with Russia? Did you ever think to stop and question that? We didn't bomb them, all we had were our words.

It was a tough front, McCain put on, while America is in a position of weakness. He further said something to the effect that in this century civilized nations do not attack other sovereign civilized nations. He tried to lecture Russia on how to behave - when at home - he just authorized a war a few years ago to invade the sovereign nation of Iraq. Regardless of agreement on the war being good or bad - that is what we did.

What would be the appropriate response to Russia? First, to calibrate our response with the realization that American influence in the region may have triggered the Georgian's to push Russia too far. Second, calibrate against history.

History says, no to appeasement. So we can't let them go on this. History also says one of the most costly and challenging experiences in the history of America - where we were at the greatest danger - was the cold war.  

So I ask you - did McCain's approach calibrate well? How did it calibrate?

First - what did he say. "We America are holier than thou - we don't go into other sovereign countries - we had nothing to do with creating conditions that might have caused Geogian's to spark off this conflict - you Dam well better stop because we said so... and we are the United States of America."

I want you to examine very closely another part of another speech given by Obama. He mentioned that he was trying for months to get the US to change course in Georgia because he may have seen a potential problem brewing. Comb his speeches. Look for what Obama has said on this.

Then look, Obama said and I quote from the above article “We failed to head off this conflict and lost leverage in our ability to contain it because our leaders have been distracted, our resources overstretched, and our alliances frayed,” Obama said.  

Key words: Head off this conflict.  

That. That is vision. That is leadership. 

Not running around with one's chest puffed out, in an act of holier than thou puffery.  
Not leashing out at Russia for a problem we helped to create. 

Obama has been saying that Iraq from the start would be a little bit too much of a bite to chew on. Our military and military familes are stretched very very very dangerously thin. Our alliances spent. Now, I want you to watch McCain's speech again.  

Do you think perhaps - that taking a big bite out of Russia - might be a little bit more than we can chew? Or, more than we want to chew?  

I want you to consider a thought - because, we don't have the military or alliances to do anything against the Russians beyond words. The phrases McCain used were a tough front. But imagery wise, at the moment, the United States and John McCain are both toothless old men. We don't have the bite - we don't have the military - to chew on what McCain just took a chomp out of.

If you consider this Georgian conflict to be a defining moment in foreign affairs credentials - I want you to consider all I have stated above very closely.  

On the topic of experience, I want you to consider one more thing.  

My experience and understanding of racism is that people said Black people were subhuman. They weren't smart enough, weren't good enough. They weren't American's, blacks didn't get a vote.  

What is happening today is the next progression in the civil rights movement. A white haired old man - person x - is standing up yelling how inexperienced, incapable, and unready - the black man - person Y, is. That is the group dynamic that was racism.

Racism is looking at the face of a black man and through seeing black making that same set of judgements. 

Right experience/wrong experience for the job.

Our constitution has been randsacked by the Bush administration. Obama was a constitutional law professor and may understand how to get it back. Our alliances and image around the world were destroyed Obama may be a good enough speaker to inspire people - win a few hearts and minds back. Our government has been run by people who believe that they will do everything themselves, who haven't asked American's to do things like - go have a meeting with your mortgage broker right now - rather than letting your house just be foreclosed upon. Re-negotiate. Banks are re-negotiating. Obama was a community organizer who believes that change comes from the ground up. Do we need that - when we just had a government that ignored the participation of American's in creating this country?  

Wrong experience for the job. 

McCain lived a huge chunk of his life before the civil rights movement. He lived his life during the cold war when tough rhetoric with Russia was the name of the game. The biggest, most important factor is innovation.

McCain has experience with the way things were in the past. Today, McCain is just learning how to google. He is just beginning to send a few e-mails.  

In other words, do you want the CEO of the most innovative business in the world - The United States of America - to be a man who has not embraced some of our most transformative innovations?

How can he leed a nation of innovation when McCain cannot understand the usefullness of those innovations. Even the blatantly obvious ones.

My point here is actually quite simple.  

Do not take all of this at face value. Do not read the situations on Tv at face value. STOP. STOP STOP STOP. And..... drum roll.... 


I agree with McCain that businesses would be better off and more would come to this country if the corporate tax rate were lowered from 35% to 25%.  

Wait a minute... I just said something I agree with McCain on, after all of the things I wrote earlier.  

Aha! That is critical thinking, deep thought, debate, analysis. On Tv, all day are people spouting talking points from Republican or Democratic views so often, that I bet you hadn't even considered putting deep thinkers - independant minds - who are perhaps less exciting to listen to, yet more full of substance - in front of the camera.  

All that, and I am a professional entertainer as well. I bet I could do that and be entertaining at the same time. I bet, I could have deep intellectual discourse that gets somewhere, and... and - be entertaining at the same time.  

I challenge you to do the same. A major form of joy is actually derived from intellectual challenge and learning. Lets bring the joy and pleasure of reading the news and watching news on TV to add this level. Intellectual challenge. Challenge ideas.

When McCain blasts Russia the way he did is that really the kind of President we want? Was his message calibrated enough? Do we want a guy who looks tough - yet may have taken a bite out of Russia that could become something too big to chew?

I ask you to question these things far far more deeply. You are caught up in the momentum of your own computer graphics department. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Examine one point in great depth. See what happens. I think you will find that you will derive great pleasure from it, if you give it the chance. 


Benjamin Corey Feinblum

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