Thankfully, in approximately 48 hours this crazy and wacky mid-term election cycle will come to an end and not any too soon. It has been a true sight to behold as various campaigns devolve into the political equivalent of a WWE SmackDown or, even worse, extreme cage fighting, to wit:
1. Political operative stomps on the head of a subdued female protester in Kentucky.
2. Private, para-military "security guards" arrest and handcuff a reporter in Alaska.
3. A candidate in New York threatens another reporter to "take you out".
4. A candidate in Nevada recommends a "second amendment solution" to the current political situation.
5. Unauthorized uniformed thugs with batons man a polling precinct in Philadelphia.
6. A candidate in Ohio participates in Nazi war re-enactments, and is endorsed by the potential new Speaker of the House.
7. A candidate in Rhode Island tells the President of the United States to "take his endorsement and shove it".
8. A candidate in Delaware who proudly dabbled in witchcraft in her youthful years, and seems to know very little about the very Constitution she constantly wants to invoke.
And then there is the avalanche of campaign money that is expected to top $3 billion, $250 million of which has been provided by just three candidates to their own respective campaigns, as if personal wealth is all that is required to run for office. By the 2012 cycle it is estimated that the total may exceed $10 billion!
When you have the volatile mixture of anger and endless money, I guess this is what you get. But the truly sad thing is that while candidates beat up on each other in what Tom Friedman terms a "dysfunctional political system", the rest of the industrialized world proceeds to pass us by in education and technological development, as summarized in his column in the New York Times on October 27th. Specifically, he references last month's updated version of a 2005 report from the National Academies that recommended 10 actions our federal government could take to "enhance science and technology so America could successfully compete in the 21st century". Entitled "Rising Above the Gathering Storm Revisited: Rapidly approaching Category 5", this latest report concludes that despite all of the efforts of government and the private sector, America's ability to compete has "further deteriorated over the past five years" ( go to http://www.ucar.edu/oga/pdf/Revisited%20Hearing.pdf and learn more). Here are just some of the rankings to ponder:
1. 6th in global innovation-based competitiveness, but 40th in the rate of change over the past 40 years.
2. 11th in the fraction of 25-34-year-olds who have graduated from high school.
3. 16th in college completion rates.
4. 22nd in broadband Internet access.
5. 27th in the proportion of college graduates with degrees in science or engineering.
6. 48th in the quality of K-12 education in math and science.
Finally, we learn that China has built the world's fastest computer which has enormous implications for our defense, energy, finance, science and mainstream businesses (i.e. our total economy). This is just the latest achievement in China's quest to become a technological superpower, so it comes as no real surprise. When are we going to wake up to the fact that while our politicians engage in all of this outrageous and unacceptable conduct we are slipping from being number one in practically all of these categories? It's almost as if we are watching a combination of the TV reality program SURVIVOR, the movie JACKASS and a national Halloween Party. But the truly scary thing is that next Tuesday's election results will just be a pit stop on the way to 2012!
Laura Raborn at http://paintingsofhome.com and http://claygifts.com
Jim Johnson at http://yessy.com/jimjohnson/gallery.html
Russ Powell at http://powellphotos.com
Linda Flake at http://lindaflake.com
Tom Herrin at http://tommysart.blogspot.com
Matt McLeod at http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Artists Registry at http://www.arkansasarts.org/programs/registry/default.aspx
Sandy Hubler Fine Art at http://sandyhublerfineart.com
George Wittenberg at http://postcard-art-gallery.com
Will Barnet at http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&expIds=17259,17315,23628,23670,24472,25834,26095,26328,26562,26637,26761,26790,26849,26992,27095,27126,27139,27147,27178&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=will+barnet&cp=9&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=xpfETMT1O4L6lwf66ugE&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=2&sqi=2&ved=0CEkQsAQwAQ&biw=1350&bih=501
Local Colour Gallery at http://localcolourgallery.com
Chroma Gallery at http://chromagallery.com
Cantrell Gallery at http://cantrellgallery.com
Greg Thompson Fine Art at http://gregthompsonfineart.com
Red Door Gallery at http://reddoorgalleryonline.com
M2 Gallery at http://m2lr.com
UALR Gallery Program at http://ualr.edu/art
Gallery 26 at http://gallery26.com