I’m Just Not Impressed

Am I supposed to be?

Archive for September 2008

Please, won’t someone think of the Keating Five? And the poor downtrodden churches?

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So, debate tonight.  Part of me sort of hoped McCain would keep up his pathetic game of chicken and not show, but it is probably better this way.  I certainly hope that the folks on the fence see his non-“suspension” of the campaign and the alleged urgent need for his presense here in the District as the cheap stunts that they were.  Although, I suppose he does have some good experience in the whole failed-financial-institution-deregulation-and-bailout arena.

Really, why on earth is that not getting more airtime?  Sometimes the years of experience are not what they’re cracked up to be.

And in the meantime, any of y’all church goers might be hearing a McCain ad this Sunday.  I hope they get their test case and get slapped to kingdom come where they belong.   Whether it’s just for the congregations unlucky enough to have pastors with such hubris that they use the pulpit to stump for a political candidate, or if it brings down the entire religious institutions exemption to begin with, either way, we get more tax dollars or fewer political sermons.

Written by emandink

September 26, 2008 at 8:08 pm

It’s the economy, stupid.

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(I’m sure that is a blazingly original blog title this week…)

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I know a whole lot about economics.  The last time I took an econ class was in high school and I don’t recall that I did particularly well on the pretend-to-build-your-stock-portfolio assignment that is probably required for an Econ teacher to keep their accreditation.  I tended to nod off when Professor Hanson would gush over Richard Posner and the theory of law and economics.  I did somehow internalize the concept of the time-value of money, though, so I guess it wasn’t all for naught.

The point being, I am far from being some sort of financial wizard/expert/savant who can just explain to anyone – barely even myself – what the hell is going on on Wall Street this week.  And really, there are approximately 70 billion words written elsewhere on the internet that can explain the significance of the Freddie/Fannie takeover and the bailout of AIG and Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers and everything else (is there anything else yet?  Probably by the time I actually post this.)

I’m not even going to try to talk about the numbers.  But, of course, it’s never just about the numbers and this being an election year, it is even lessabout the numbers.  And while I cannot necessarily wax on about what this means for the Fed and foreign markets and what investors can expect over the next 18 months (Me? I’ll be over here not opening my 401k statement, thanks) but I also have a hard time understanding how giving more money – our money – to the same people who fsked things up the first time is going to encourage better behavior in the future.

Now, I’m not completely ignorant about the supposed benefits of corporate welfare and trickle down economics.  Help the big companies who employ thousands of people stay afloat so that those thousands of people are not suddenly out of work and needing to rely on the social service programs that supporters of the trickle down theory tend to oppose.  Because, in a perfect world, if the corporations are healthy and the people are working, then no one needs welfare or medicaid.  Or, you know, Social Security that’s outside the financial markets.

Clearly 8 years of dismantling/ignoring financial regulations and encouraging gigantic corporations to make money hand over fist until the bottom falls out has worked well with the current administration. Continuing the corporate welfare and laissez faire enforcement of the Bush administration is definitely the way to “change”.

There’s a reason why commentators on NPR this morning kept referring to FDR when they were talking about the kind of leader the U.S. needs right now. It’s convenient that he was a Democrat, but the real reason is that he listened to the people and he was not afraid of using the power of government to help the little guy – the real people who were out of work and loosing their homes. Not because the bottom fell out of their own investments, but because the bottom fell out of other people’s. The financial elite, if you will.

Written by emandink

September 19, 2008 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Classism, Election 2008, Politics

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Was I born in a small town?

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Backtracking a bit, to things that were hot talk last week but that continue to intrigue me.  Consider this part of an ongoing series about what certain terms and phrases mean.  See also elitism and feminism.

Today we’re going to talk about Sarah Palin’s small town values.  One part of this is, of course, “what are small town values?“, which TDS has handled much more aptly than I, but I’m also curious about what even qualifies as a “small town” which could have such values.

Web analysis varies – less than 10,000 people? 5,000-15,000?  Does Park City, Utah, population roughly 8,000, have the same values as Hope, Arkansas, population roughly 10,500?  Which has more “small town” cred?  Why?  Why should it matter?

Who can claim STVs?  Only people who currently live in a town of less than 10,000 people?  How about college towns where the permanent residents number in the 10k range where the population doubles between September and May?  Does it matter whether the students vote locally or absentee?  Can you have small town values if you grew up in a small town, but move to a city?  How about just a town of 20,000 in a conservative county?  What if you were born and raised in New York or San Francisco or Boston or (OMG) Washington, DC (which a lot of people like to characterize as nothing but an overgrown small town that thinks its something because we have a lot of marble buildings) and then move to a town of 7,000 people to get away from it all?  If I live in a suburb of 3000 people (I don’t.  It’s 18k+ as of the 2000 census, which is still smaller than I anticipated.) but work in a city of 10 million, can I have small town values?  Only between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.?

It matters, of course, because here we have one of only two seriously electable political parties/presidential tickets playing identity politics of the worst kind – vote for us, say the Republicans – not because we have policies that are going to actually help you pay your mortgage and put food on the table – but because we are like you, just with designer clothing and high paying jobs. 

It’s easy as one of those damn liberal elitists to automatically equate these so-called small town values as essentially being what we call small mindedness or ignorance.  But it’s really not that simple.  Small-town vs. big-city, Red State vs. Blue State – what these phrases are is code for differs, but in the end, it’s just more us vs. them, which completely ignores that for better or for worse, we’re all in this together.

Ooh, purple!

Ooh, purple!

The point of this election should be what is best for the majority of Americans wherever the hell we live.  It should be about improving the US’s stature in world affairs.  It should be about a better life for all Americans, from the CEO worried about falling stock prices to the Ivy League professor worried about tenure to the factory worker worried about layoffs to the family facing forclosure and homelessness.  It shouldn’t matter where our ancesters came from or what our middle name is or what color our skin is – this election is about all of us and what we want the Unites States to be.

Written by emandink

September 16, 2008 at 8:33 pm

Lies, damned lies and statistics

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Or something like that.

With some regularity of an evening, I’ve been turning to my husband with a comment along the lines of “thank goodness for The Daily Show” and their analysis of Republican hypocracies.

Courtesy of Lessig Blog, I saw the following today in the same vein:

The video, and others like it are sourced to Brave New Pac.

I am sure that people more dedicated than I have combed through these videos to make sure that the metaphoric liberal “we” are not resorting to distortions to counter distortions.  Because you know that the other side will grab whatever straw we leave them, short or long.

Written by emandink

September 11, 2008 at 7:01 pm

The Thinking Reed

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So, in having a conversation this morning about Cindy McCain’s $300,000 outfit for a convention in which her husband and his supporters ranted about elitism, I had a bit of a “You keep using that word” moment. The Republican leadership do not seem to be opposed to “practice of or belief in rule by an elite” – that’s who they represent, after all. Nor can I truly believe that they have no “consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group”.

Then I realized – late to the party, probably – that elitism = intellectualism to this crowd. Which still sort of baffled me, at which point I remembered a conversation my first semester of college with a friend from high school in which she threw “You and your friends are so intellectual” at me like it was the most insulting thing she chould have said to me. Whereas she had a better high school GPA and ACT score than I had and showed no sign of changing that in college, she completely acknowledged that she had no interest in settling down with a carafe of cheap wine and bummed cigarettes for an in depth discussion of whether Kierkegaard was superior to Hagel. While I was firmly of the “hell is other people” crowd and had directed Sartre’s No Exitfor drama class the year before, she was firmly of the “hell is other people who want me to think while I drink” crowd. She did fabulously in school, got a job right out and as far as I know is wonderfully happy. If her politics are anything like what they were when she was avoiding any sort of political discussion with her radical roommate, then she is voting McCain-Palin.

Now, I certainly understood what she meant, in that I know what the words mean and what she was trying to convey. She didn’t want to think about what she had learned after she learned it. She wanted to use it, but she got no rush out of dissecting it. She didn’t like the process of struggling with a concept or not knowing what to think about something. She didn’t like engaging in discussions of the meaning of things. She was secure in her God and in her calling and that was enough for her.

Watching the wealthy, successful republicans, many of whom, I’m sure, attended the same east coast Ivy League schools they deride Obama for attending – and discussing it and chewing it over and analyzing it (of course) – I suddenly put two and two together. What they are talking about and what roomie was talking about are the same phenomena – the issue is not being successful, or even thinking that you are better than others for being successful – that after all is the American Dream.

The issue is actually thinking about what it means to be successful and questioning the status quo. There is also a classism element here – the Republicans are trying to turn that on the Dems, I think – i.e., you have to be well off and cushy to have the luxury of thinking, not doing. But that’s where I think that the ‘Pubs are wrong – they are selling the American people short by assuming that intellectual = advanced education. What they don’t realize is that “east cost intelligentsia” (of which I am one, let’s be honest) don’t own the market on reading and thinking and discussing. A lot of people sell this short, not just the Republicans. It is a mistake to assume that someone needs a college degree to think critically. It is a mistake to assume that someone must work in an office to be interested in politics. The great thing about thinking is that it can be free.  The catch is lowering the cost.

Written by emandink

September 5, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Some thoughts both about, and not about, Sarah Palin and the RNC

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I was watching the RNC last night, alternating between laughing and clutching my head to try to keep my brain from exploding.  It was like 1988 all over again up there.  In a vacuum, what I’d take from day 2 of the Republican National Convention is that the party platform has 5 main planks:

  1. Servin’ the man and bustin’ the unions;
  2. Making sure “Guantanamo terrorists” never get fair trials;
  3. Perpetuating the false association between Iraq and Osama bin Laden;
  4. Slamming “elitism” while protecting the wealthy from taxes;
  5. Pretending that the world outside their bizarre little bubble doesn’t exist.

But, cutting to the chase, Sarah Palin.
On a very basic level – or host of them, really – McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin frightens me and offends me.  Part of me thinks that this is a very sensible reaction for any liberal-leaning American to have at most actions by the GOP.  Another part of me is bugged a bit by my own reaction.

On a gut level, the part of me that desperately wants to see a woman as president in my lifetime, feels especially squeemish and hypocritical. I want a woman in the White House, but not this woman, not this party, not this way. I want to work off of a presumption that Sarah Palin was chosen because she is smart and savvy and brings things to the ticket that McCain and his people feel he needed – executive experience, youth, energy, conservative bona fides. But I can’t help but give in to the sense that she is the Republican Party’s fuck you to the Democrats and to women as a whole – that she is there for her tits and her womb alone. I find myself second guessing her in ways that I don’t think I ever would for a male candidate – whether I’m holding her to a higher standard or a lower one I’m not certain about. I’m afraid that she is being “handled” and that the Republican machine doesn’t truly respect anything about her, but is using her. I suppose that says as much about my opinion of the Republican party as it does about my opinion of Sarah Palin.

As for her background and family, etc., I don’t give two whits about the number of children she has. I don’t really care that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and planning to marry the father. I think that it’s a great object lesson about how abstinence only education doesn’t work, but I’m not real thrilled with the narrative that Bristol Palin’s life is ruined and the complete erasure in that narrative of any agency she might have. Bristol Palin may really really want this baby. She may really really want to marry her boyfriend at the tender age of 17. And legally, she has every right to do so. I think that Sarah Palin showed, at best, interesting judgement in making the decision to thrust her family into the spotlight at this juncture, but Bristol Palin’s judgement is not at issue. I hope that she is indeed happy with her choices and I wish her well.

Likewise, I am surprised that a mother of five children, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome, would decide to campaign for the vice presidency, but I don’t think any less of her for doing so. I have no idea what Todd Palin’s role is in his family – by most accounts, his job is very flexible, so perhaps he plans to be the primary caregiver.

What I don’t like about Sarah Palin can be summed up with my issues with the Republican party platform generally.  I really don’t see what the Republican party has to offer me, except – this year – a candidate with a uterus.  And I have one of those of my own, thanks. I don’t need another.

Written by emandink

September 4, 2008 at 6:14 pm