I got this from an email my son sent me today. Nothing is sexier than an intelligent, articulate man!

Remember Lee Iacocca, the man who rescued Chrysler Corporation from its death throes? He's now 82 years old and has a new book, 'Where Have All The Leaders Gone?'. Lee Iacocca Says: 'Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder! We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car.

But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, 'Stay the course.' Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned 'Titanic'. I'll give you a sound bite: 'Throw all the bums out!' You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore.
The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq , the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving 'pom-poms' instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of the 'America' my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about
I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have. The Biggest 'C' is Crisis! (Iacocca elaborates on nine C's of leadership, with crisis being the first.) Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It's easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else's kids off to war when you've never seen a battlefield yourself. It's another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.

On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. A hell of a mess, so here's where we stand. We're immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving.
We're running the biggest deficit in the history of the country. We're losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs.
Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way.

These are times that cry out for leadership. But when you look around, you've got to ask: 'Where have all the leaders gone?' Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, omnipotence, and common sense? I may be
a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point. Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo?

We've spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened. Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the
hurricane or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone's hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn't happen again.
Now, that's just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you're going to do the next time.

Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when 'The Big Three' referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, what are we going to do about it?

Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debit, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry. I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn't elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity.

What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don't you guys show some spine for a change? Had Enough? Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire. I'm speaking out because I have hope - I believe in America. In my lifetime, I've had the privilege of living through some of America 's greatest moments. I've also experienced some of our worst crises: The 'Great Depression,' 'World War II,' the 'Korean War,' the 'Kennedy Assassination,' the 'Vietnam War,' the 1970's oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11.

If I've learned one thing, it's this: 'You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it's building a better car or building a better future for our children, we allhave a role to play. That's the challenge I'm raising in this book. It's a "Call to Action" for people who, like me, believe in America'. It's not too late, but it's getting pretty close. So let's shake off the crap and go to work. Let's tell 'em all we've had 'enough.' Make your own contribution by sending this to everyone you know and care about. It's our country, folks, and it's our future. Our future is at stake!!

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Maine and Nebraska are the exceptions which use the Congressional District Method.
I think the problem is that we assume people don't know their own interests here; but if the interest lies in to indeed vote on the strongest Christian presidential candidate, what will education do about it? The problem as I see it is wrong mentality of the people voting. They vote on a black candidate because themselves are black and assume that this cadidate will fight for just YOUR idea of black rights, not understanding that your idea of rights might differ to everyone else's.

Or they just vote on a person depending on what party they belong to, which is equally bad. I don't see how education will solve this problem.

Also, my point about having someone coming from an independent party is that they might dare to challenge old ideas because they aren't bribed into a certain submission; or for the matter, conform to certain ideas. The problem with many major parties is that they over time start to look the same, that's why you need people from the outside to constantly challenge the old ideas so the politics will progress. Otherwise I think only stagnation is to follow.
Education - especially in the subject of history - can at least help people understand not to let emotion or ignorance dictate their votes. There are plenty of historical cases that provide vital lessons.
If you're wishing to control how people vote, that can't ever be accomplished in a democracy. Liberty comes with many trade-offs - the existence of unthinking voters, unfortunately, is one of them.

Independent parties that succeed in becoming mainstream probably won't remain so independent for long, since they must necessarily submit to the will of the majority in order to survive. Anyway, I find people are unwilling to venture outside their "comfort zone" unless there is a crisis in their faces (Hence, the economy and Obama).

"The problem as I see it is wrong mentality of the people voting. They vote on a black candidate because themselves are black and assume that this cadidate will fight for just YOUR idea of black rights, not understanding that your idea of rights might differ to everyone else's."
The fact is that you vote based on your self-interest and what you think the candidate represents, not on what other people might think. Also, it is not surprising that people don't always agree on the details of an issue, even if they are on the same "side."

"Or they just vote on a person depending on what party they belong to, which is equally bad."
That is expected. Of course you would be more willing to support your own party than a rival party. However, crossing party lines is something I feel happened more often in 2008 than before. (I may be wrong, since this is only my third U.S. presidential election in living memory) There are quite a few moderate pro-Obama Republicans as well as pro-McCain Democrats. NPR was just today discussing one particular voting district that is 70% populated by Democrats, but only 20% of the votes went to Obama.
I just feel the need to mention here that how gloomy it may sound, it probably started to go outwards for you as soon as the idea of the American Dream was created and firmly established into peoples' minds. I know many Americans try to live up to the Dream, however, what good does the Dream do to you really? Not everyone is made to become superstars and own 5 SUVs on their backyard. The constant idea of being superior and the need to fulfill this need I think is a huge root of the problem, and how this in turn has taken over the view on economics, namely that the richer you are, the better. This is turn has lead to the extreme consumerism we see today, it's almost as if we try to replace something we cannot naturally find within and among ourselves with material possessions and proof that you can buy them. However, it's also a dangerous escalating scale with no diminishing returns; the richer you become the more you want. There is no end to it. Without wanting to sound too anti-American, I think the major cause of the problems you and we, as the rest of the world face is because of the American Dream which probably turned out to be more of a nightmare than a dream to future generations.
The American Dream started out as "every family should make enough money to own a home & a car", which is what most people should be happy with. Somewhere along the line that idea was twisted into "the person who has the most stuff, wins!". I'm not rich by anyone's standard, my husband and I barely make it from month to month. I find as I get older, that material things are not what they're cracked up to be, that's for sure. I'm happy just to have my family & friends, a roof over my head and an old car to drive :)

In so many ways, America has lost track of what it was supposed to be. It makes me sad to see some of today's young adults turning into less than they could've been. My generation spent too much time earning money to buy their kids the "things" that we didn't have, instead of spending time raising & loving these kids. I don't have any excuses for the decline of my country, I only know it was meant to be something better than it is now. I'm not giving up yet though, there's still too much potential here for positive changes. Maybe this recession will make more people wake up and see what's REALLY important to them. I hope so.

PS what country are you from?
Indeed, I never said that the American Dream was bad in the beginning, but it was certainly twisted when the idea of "what you produce you own" and similar ideas entered the picture. Not only did it produce a strong anti-feeling of anything socially shared (I am amazed many Americans yet in this day actually believe that socialist reforms equals to communism), it also produced an extreme feeling of individualism which also probably was a major reason why we see the consumerism we have today as well, since we try to fill up the gap relationships with other people normally fulfill with material possessions.

I am from Sweden, I think it says so on my profile as well (I can hope!). I am studying Socialanthropology though (I think in USA generally called Cultural Anthropology), so I am very interested in how certain cultural ideas like the American Dream manifests into a society, and I have started to study a very interesting topic of what actually make people happy (and there is A LOT to be said about that). There have been predictions that our current society will actually collapse because we are replacing the need of human contact and socializing with objects, this is causing us a huge internal stress and it has been argued that certain generally agreed mental disabilities such as ADHD is as a matter of fact a symptom of this. I am not yet sure what to believe, these studies are very new and we will probably see more as we go, but indeed, it is worrying.
I think perhaps you judge us too harshly, it seems as if a little of your anti-Americanism is showing :) Calm down, girl, the world isn't coming to an end just yet and everything isn't just the fault of the American dream. The idea of "you own what you produce" is how free market economies form. Everyone produces goods to sell to people who need them, giving us money to buy the goods we need in return. I'm not clear in what's wrong with that concept, maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're trying to say.

America was founded by people who fought for the right to be individuals. We pride ourselves on our individualism here, that's not to say that we distance ourselves from others who don't feel the same as we do, we just believe in the right to think and say what we want.

The last I read, ADHD wasn't classified as a mental disturbance, it's a learning disability. I have a brother, a son and a husband who have ADHD and I've never thought of them as disturbed, just easily distracted. My son described it to me when he was young, as "hearing every sound in his classroom at the same volume". For an 8 yr old, I thought he explained it pretty well.

I know that you're hearing and learning a lot of new information in college, and that's great. You are lucky to be getting a good education in a subject that you're so passionate about. Just please, give yourself time to experience more of life before making up your mind about us.
LeaT, I understand that most of your analysis of America takes place from the outside looking in. I agree with your assessment of what the "America Dream" is all about (George Carlin once said that "The reason it's called the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to beleive it!"). However, there is more than one America.

Because the United States is less than 300 years old, we don't have any kind of ancient history behind which we can form a collective identity. When Americans form their identities, they do it more so on the basis of religion and ideology they do on race or class (although race and class are very important).

A lot of political talking heads are doing a lot of talking about how divided America is ideologically. Many of them bemoan this fact, but I do not. The Reaganite Fundamentalist Christians that control this country's economy, military, and political system are at odds with the rest of the world as well as the portion of America that sees no virtue in ignorance and plunder. I welcome the increased polarization of America because Conservatism is the ideology of death and ignorance and it has no place in America or any country.

America has a rich tradition of resistance and egalitarian politics. It was founded as the most liberal country in the world, and isn't the Communist May Day meant to honor the martyrs of an uprising in Chicago?

The America you described is a part to a whole, and like any pernicious disease it won't stop spreading until it has killed the entire organism. As a fellow leftist, I encourage you to struggle against consumerism in solidarity with your American compatriots. In an earlier time I might have used the word comrade, but I'm afraid the time for that has passed. I wish you success in your studies and clarity in your thoughts.
To Susan,

I think you are missing the big picture here of what I was trying to say because I was unclear; in the case of USA, your extreme form of individualism is causing people to object to any form of semi-collective; because of what you earn is yours to take. I am mostly speaking about taxes here. Why do some people in USA actually consider taxes as stealing? Any form of political collective is to you a form of communism and communism can only be bad, although communism is just one extreme form of social ideologies.

About ADHD, you are twisting my words a little, I didn't say "disturbence", I said "disability". It makes quite a difference in semantics to call someone mentally disturbed or mentally disabled; I do think the former sounds very offensive with a slight underlying touch of fear to it. Stay away, that person is mentally disturbed! ADHD isn't a learning disability though, because ADHD children don't have troubles learning (in comparison to say, Aspberger) but to be correct is a "neurobehavioral developmental disorder" according to Wikipedia. Indeed, it might be harder for children suffering from ADHD to learn in certain environments but it doesn't mean they cannot learn anything or have natural troubles learning certain things like people who have dyslexia.

Also, nowhere did I say that I agreed with this worldview Susan ;) I merely said that some people are speculating that there have been some very poor choices done in the past which now resurface and it might cause our Western society (not explicity American) to collapse onto itself, making it possible to reform it. I merely wanted to express my worry because there is evidence which supports these theories. While they certainly might be slightly exeggerated I also do find a lot of truth in it which stems from my own studies. That's for another thread though :)

About my anti-Americanism, there are indeed some things I don't like about USA (particularly your militant religious people actually...), but I wouldn't say that I dislike USA or its culture in such a sense, I just think that particularly some of your leaders could really have done some better choices (like the Iraqi war, was that ever necessary?) than they did. I also think some of your systems are very screwed up, especially your idea of democracy which I think I already mentioned as well. But I know great people from USA, I am also all for a change (would I now be an American citizen, as a Swede I can do very little) to improve these systems that I find to be failing.

I don't blame USA for being the root of all problems; but rather the people who don't wake up and see that THEY must go out and take personal responsiblity and not expect the politicans to do everything! This applies to the whole world and people who support things like freemarket trade and capitalism (I should add, capitalism was born in Italy, USA merely helped to form it into the extreme consumerism we see today). I don't think they are good systems but now we have them and it's hard to get rid of them. Sweden is at fault too because we too follow a capitalist market and take part of global trade. I try to affect my own country by voting in what I believe in, and I hope more people will do that in USA too instead of going after race or religious affiliation as being the primary reasons why you vote on someone.

To mthoreau,
Aye, I know that this is an outsider-perspective, it may also as thus sound a lot harsher, mostly because I don't share your national identity and sense of patriotism (I cannot feel for USA like I feel for Sweden, even though I have never been very patriotic, I actually do find it a little of a silly notion to feel proud over a strip of land. This might stem from the fact that I belong to another ehtnical group originally though). I should add though, Sweden as a state isn't too old either, most people recognize Sweden being fully formed when Gustav Vasa or Gustav I of Sweden took the power from the Danish and that happened roughly 500 years ago. Of course we have a previous history of Vikings and all that, but you do too would you recognize it! You got a lot of ancient history with the Native Americans. Unfortunately I think few recognize themselves as being part of their ethnical group.

I am about to enter my second semester now so I hope it will continue to go well too :)
I think I understand better what you were trying to say, Leah. I guess I too was a little defensive:) I really didn't know how bad the USA looked in the eyes of the world! We do have many problems here, no doubt, but people ARE starting to wake up, (albeit slowly). I think this last presidential election shows that people, at the grass-roots level, are demanding a change.

We have allowed George Bush to destroy our confidence in ourselves, and in our ability to solve such crushing problems. We are trillions of dollars in debt, as a nation. I guess some Americans think that our tax dollars have been "stolen" because of the way this money has been diverted into things that the majority of us never wanted, or don't approve of. The Iraq/Afghanistan war is ending so many lives and costing us billions of dollars a month, when that money could be better spent in our own country. Our health system is so undermined by the greed of the pharmacuetical and insurance industries, that it's becoming too expensive for the average family to get even basic medical care. Crime, gun accessa bility and drug use are still major issues too.

That said, there are millions of decent, hardworking people here who are fed up with rising costs and government waste. When Bush took office, it was risky to voice your dislike for him and his brand of politics. The press buried their heads in the sand and did as they were told. Public figures were branded as "unpatriotic", or traitors, if they spoke out against the war. I lost friends because of my disgust with the Bush administration's lies & manipulations. Personally, I think he and his advisors should be charged and tried for war crimes as soon as he leaves office!

Any form of political collective is to you a form of communism and communism can only be bad, although communism is just one extreme form of social ideologies.

I don't agree with your assesment that Americans think that any form of political collective is akin to communism, though. (Our bleak opinion of communism comes from the "cold war" era after WWII, I think). To most Americans, being a democrat or republican IS being a part of a political collective. We DO need to do away with our two-party electoral system and our electoral college, though. It's become antiquated and doesn't always reflect the results of majority rule.

I'm open to suggestions if you have some :)
I more meant stuff like when it comes to healthcare and just things for the public. Once again I was unclear! I mean, just the very fact you don't have healthcare and that people oppose the idea because then you might become a communist state is rediculous, especially when it's clear public healthcare is so needed. As I am concerned, the only public organizations you got are more less the police force and maybe some other form of social bureaucracy like social service, but people are even saying that you should abolish public schools. I also agree there is a wrong allocation of money, but when I say that people feel that taxing is stealing money they just feel that the money they earned is theirs to take and spend how they want without necessary taxing on top if it. I have a feeling (I am not claiming to know here) that a lot of these people don't really care about what the tax is spent for; they only care that the tax exists and that it's money they basically never see. There was an old thread here before at AN where some neocon guy with poor economy was banning taxing from the bottom of his heart, even though he couldn't even afford healthcare, something a taxing fund could help to establish.

I also think that outsiders feel that USA isn't very responsible for its political actions on a global scale even though it's a superstate, and I am not only talking about the Iraq war here. For example, of how USA will manage their economy in the upcoming months will determine how the global economy will look like. It's actually effing scary when you think about it, how one single country can control so much of the whole world. Yet for example, the economy buffert was voted down, money some people wondered where it was pulled out from the arse, no one knew such amounts of money existed.

As for your political system, just getting a normal democratic system will do? That means that every party is of equal worth and that presidents are chosen from the winning party. I think Finland has such a system. And oh yeah, I am wondering still why you got that silly round table look-alike that can turn around votes because they got their own. I forgot the name for it right now, but I think you know what I mean. I don't think an individual force like that should have a say in a true democracy, because that's just helping certain groups in the society to continue to establish their power and it doesn't necessarily agree with the actual wants and needs of the people.

How you are gonna change the system though is another question alltogether. Honestly, I guess either someone makes a motion but I think that will be voted down, so the only other perceivable way would be a revolution or if everyone in the whole country would basically refuse to vote as a way of showing you are willing to take part of this current system.
As an inside-outsider I have come to the conclusion that the only way the US can turn itself around is to have a full scale revolution. I have also come to the conclusion that it cannot happen until or unless the US is no longer the world's top bully dog. Until the population are faced with hard times which the media cannot effectively blame on something external to the US there is little hope for change. As long as the media continues to exclaim over the wonderful nature of the American Emperor's Clothes the population can wallow in the supposed splendour of it all.



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