[OPE] Who did they elect?

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@tiscali.nl>
Date: Tue Nov 11 2008 - 15:19:10 EST

Bit of blog. Rasmussen Reports, which tends to do pretty accurate polls as far as I can tell, points out that:

Over one-quarter of voters (27%) on Election Day said they didn't know who Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was. Even 30% of Democrats didn't know him, compared to 23% of Republicans and 29% of unaffiliated voters. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/congressional_performance/congressional_performance

They also confirm Prof. Noam Chomsky's observation (also made by others) that the majority of Americans have a low opinion of their own government. Imagine this, you dedicate your life to serving your country's population in politics, and most people think nothing much of what you do. What a bummer. In that case, imagine at a human level what's required to keep going with it, especially in troubled times like these. I know that many American parliamentarians are rich, they get a salary, and thus have creature comforts and support staffs, but nevertheless there's an awful lot of work that goes into the whole thing, all day long and maybe all night, months and years - you don't have to do it, you could be like, a rentier, with a quiet domesticated life, but nevertheless you do it because you want to do it, for some reason (What reason?).

Maybe just as well that Mr Obama has a background in education, because there's sure a lot of political learning and communication that needs to happen. Obviously, more or less the same thing applies to the EU gov, in fact it is probably worse, partly because you have so many more languages and bureaucratic complexities to deal with (as an immigrant used to a far simpler system, it's still fairly incomprehensible to me, but I intend to get to the bottom of it in the future).

I was reading this Ted Turner interview on his new bio (there's all sorts of bio's coming out now, seems to be very trendy - I haven't read this one so far), and CNN (founded by Turner in 1980) asks:

How did you go from being a sailor that got stuck on the reef and almost died to somebody who managed to win the America's Cup on the Courageous?.
Turner: Well, the same way in baseball, the Atlanta Braves set a record for consecutive last-place finishes in divisional play in baseball. First four years, we finished last, four years in a row. But I stuck with it and after 18 years, we won the World Series. And that's what I did with sailing.
CNN: Just stick to it?
Turner: Yeah. Stuck to it. And I wasn't losing -- I was just learning how to win. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/books/11/11/turner.qanda/index.html

Of course, in American culture, competition is everything, it's like, "are you winning?". You mainly cooperate to compete, much less compete to cooperate (a weaker position; of course now there's lots of people competing to cooperate with Mr Obama, who therefore holds a strong position). But I think there's a lesson in Turner's idea - you can still have a good time, even if you are losing, at least if you're inquisitive and you can stick with it. And at a deeper level, even if you are not winning, you may still be succeeding. Winning and success are not the same thing, hence for example the saying "win the battle, lose the war".

Of course, in Turner's world, competition has a totally different, more nuanced meaning. Mr Turner is America's largest private landowner, owning approximately two million acres (8,000 kmē), which is greater than the land areas of Delaware and Rhode Island combined - ahead of fellow tycoons Arthur James and John Irving, Red "Archie" Emmerson and William Singleton (The largest land owner in the USA is the Federal govt which owns about 31.4% of US land, a sort of collateral; 2.1 million private owners own 38.7% of the farm land, and 10 million private owners own about half the forest land - see Kevin Cahill, Who owns the World? Mainstream Publishing, 2006, p. 414). According to documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, Turner's land has a higher GDP than Belize. Turner also has the largest private bison herd in the world, with circa 50,000 head. In 1990, the American Humanist Association named Turner the Humanist of the Year (not because of the bisons - JB). In 1998, Turner pledged to donate $1 billion of his then $3 billion net worth to United Nations causes, and created the United Nations Foundation to administer the gift. He is also a recipient of the Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism.

"A bison through US politics" ? Got to be mindful of the China shop... Humanitarianism is suspect these days, since people are also "helped to hell" with it. But I guess Turner certainly had his money's worth.



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Received on Tue Nov 11 15:21:03 2008

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