Tell 'em what I took, man!

Reflections of a repatriated ex-patriot

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Take on the DNC

So the Democratic National Convention came and went last week, and nothing much has changed. On the street lamps you still see the vertical standards welcoming people to the DNC, but they might as well just be banners for advertisements or a reminder of the semi-annual quilting fair in a small town at this point.

Mayor Hickenlooper spent about 50,000 dollars on security expecting there to be mass protests akin to the Seattle WTO riots. Riots never really manifested, and once again a major political event failed to live up to the hype.

I'm almost disappointed that no stones were thrown nor bags of feces / pails of ink dumped on the riot police. It makes for great television. On the other hand, it made me frown to know there wasn't much evidence of abuse of power, either. No split lips and busted heads like in the 60s. Damn!

The largest gathering of protesters occurred during a march led by Iraq Veterans Against the War after a free Rage Against the Machine concert (that I could have gone to but didn't --- stupid work) at the Denver Colosseum. The following video gives a brief idea of what change was effected as a result of the protest:

Unfortunately, I don't believe these vets were given any opportunity to read their letter at the convention. Would it have been different if their numbers were larger or are people always at the mercy of convention organizers as to whether or not their voices get heard?

As you might expect, I've had a lot of conversations with friends, acquaintances and coworkers about the convention and politics in general in recent days, and I've come away with some questions that I'd like to ask the readers (if any) of this blog:

What changes will you see in the day to day lives of ordinary citizens (including yourself) should Obama / Biden or Mccain / Palin be elected?

Are special interests and corporations so invested in the politicians in terms of campaign contributions and other financial influence that the political results both foreign and domestic will be the same regardless of who's elected?

What is the most compelling argument for electing either Obama or McCain?

Do you wish, like I do, that people would stop using the word "experience" and talk more about the political platforms of both campaigns?

Are you justified if you decide not to vote because you remain disillusioned and apathetic as in previous elections, or do you feel that this election is too important to be ignored?

Would things be different now had Al Gore been elected in 2000 or would we be roughly in the same place?

Apart from the shiny things, high words, and asinine slogans that are part and parcel to every political convention, I will say that I was impressed by Gore's speech at the nomination ceremony at Mile High Stadium. He was the only one to make much mention, as he has before, of the climate crisis which seems to have been ignored in the majority of the speeches by the other politicians.

It's this very issue that has me shaking my head at Obama's 180 on energy policy. Before, he was against lifting the ban on offshore drilling, but now has said he would be willing to allow it as compromise for a bill that would provide help to alternative energy programs.

This somehow, all of a sudden, has become an unquestionable given: We have to get off of foreign oil and lower gas prices, therefore it is absolutely essential according to both parties that we allow offshore drilling to occur. This just doesn't make sense to me. It's been pointed out, and rightly so that even if we do lift the ban, we won't see a drop of new oil for ten years. Even so, proponents say, speculators will push the market price of gas down if they know there are new wells being put in the ground.

Is it just me, or was part of the reason for soaring gas prices, the off-shore rigs that were taken offline as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita back in 2005? Is it just me, or has the number and ferocity of hurricanes increased over the last decade or so, most likely, scientists claim, due to warmer temperatures in the Earth's oceans? All you have to do is look at the size and strength of Gustav, now hurtling towards New Orleans, once again threatening it's total destruction. It may be paranoia on my part, but if existing offshore rigs are put in jeopardy as a result of typhoons and hurricanes, won't building more of them just raise, rather than reduce, the price of oil? Is it too far of a stretch to think that oil companies are engaging in a little bit of "disaster capitalism" with this approach?

What do you think?


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