dilemmanade
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
 
A true story...(Posted by C)

About eight years ago, when our previous dad, Bill, moved out, Mom married this guy, George, who didn't know anything about farming, but who was good to have a beer with.

She coulda married this guy Al, but George had a swagger. And a fake Texas accent that matched his boots. He'd polished his "Aw, shucks" til it shone.

Then about four years ago, there was this guy John, who tried to get Mom to divorce George, and marry him instead. He said, "Look what he's done to your farm!" Mom had to admit that a lot seemed to be going terribly wrong, but George convinced her to "stay the course" and that things would turn around soon. He told her that John was a namby-pamby, flip-flopper who lied about his time in the war.

Well, things have only gotten worse. And now Mom is ready to be rid of George. It'll take until January, but he'll be gone.

Then last week, George comes in, gathers everyone around, and says there's going to be a "crisis" of a scary kind if all us kids don't raid our piggy banks, and give him all our money.

It's really hard to explain, he said. And there's no time, he said. "Quick, quick! Give me the money. No, don't think about it. There's no time for that. Just give it me quick! It has to be right now. Quick! Before it's too late."

And he's got this friend with him, a guy I know makes a lot of money, but not from working, but by knowing how to get money to make money for him. Mostly by knowing people in government. It's pretty complicated. And he says, "You kids can trust me. I'm a pillar of the community. Look at this suit! It's worth more than your car. There really is a crisis looming. Better just give us that money now. I'd hate to think what might happen to you if you don't act quickly and give us that money. To restore confidence. Right Now."

One of the older and wiser kids said, "That sounds scary. We'd better do it."

Another older and wiser kid said, "Yes. But we need to add some toothless oversight provisions to quiet down some of the younger kids. Let's hurry, and thereby demonstrate our seriousness."

Then Crazy Jane, the redhead, says, "Wait. You don't actually believe this guy, do you?"

"Oh, come on now Jane," says the first older and wiser kid. "I know George has lied before-- heck, about everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie. And I know he's neglected the farm, and spent all our savings, and put us into debt..."

Crazy Jane is shocked. She says, "You do believe him."

"Well, of course we believe him," says the second older and wiser kid. "He wouldn't lie about something as important as this, would he? And he's got his friend with him there, too. Look how nice his suit is! And his friend is telling the same story, though I'll admit it isn't much of story, I mean, just telling us it's hard to understand and we better give them money. To restore confidence. Right Now."

"Whatever the crisis is, it isn't my fault," says Crazy Jane. "And I shouldn't have to pay to fix it."

"But we are the older and wiser kids," says a third older and wiser kids. "And we may not know all the details, but we know that the economy is very complicated, and that when it comes down to it, you let the guys like George's friend here-- and would you look at that suit!-- run it, get horribly rich from it, and demand that we pay for it when they mess up. Oh, and Right Now."

"I just don't feel good about it," says Crazy Jane. "Something stinks."

"Oh, Jane," says George, kindly. "Janey, Janey, Janey. You've gotta look at the big picture. We need to inject confidence into the system. It's your system, too, after all. Do you want the entire farm to go to the Chinese? Is that what you want?"

He moves the curtain to one side, and peeks out window. Looking for Chinese, I guess.

"That's it exactly," says George's friend. "Without your money coming to me right now, the whole economy will go straight to hell. I might lose millions in the stock market. And if you've been following my advice and putting your retirement savings in the stock market, you'll lose a lot of money, too. Unless you empty those piggy banks. Right Now."

The second older and wiser kid-- the one who so sagely suggested toothless oversight provisions-- piped up with, "If it'll make you feel better Jane, we can give them a bunch of the money now, and make them come back tomorrow for the rest. We won't be able to stop them from taking it, but, if we feel like it, we can ask them to please explain again why they need it. Let's hurry, and thereby demonstrate our seriousness."

Well, of course it all made perfect sense. Especially the compromise agreement put forward by the second older and wiser kid. But the little kids revolted. They refused to open their piggy banks.

George, and his friend, and the older and wiser kids all say we'll talk about it again tomorrow.
 
Monday, September 29, 2008
 
The American Electorate... (posted by C)

It's almost October of a presidential election year. A question less timely, and easy to ignore during other times and other years-- and who could blame us for ignoring it, because the answer is so profoundly depressing-- rears its head and is brought into focus once again: Who are the electorate?

We can break voters down into a few broad categories. (Yes, we can, and we will. And it will be instructive, and enlightening. So there!)

First, there are those who chronically vote Democratic. The bulk of Democratic votes are cast by poor and middle class voters who recognize that there own economic interests and social well being are served by voting for Democrats. (Plus there are a few who just find Republican politicians creepy-- and for good reason because, let's face it, they are creepy.)

These poor and middle class voters are led/ruled/financed by a handful of do-gooder, cheese sipping, latte munching, elitist overlords, just like the Republicans say they are.

Fine. None of these people are scary. They are understandable, predictable, benign.

Next, there are those who chronically vote Republican. First among them are who we can call The Stepford Christians or the American Taliban-- the kind of fundamentalists who feel good about Sarah Palin purely because of her religious beliefs. They don't care that she's ditzy and unqualified because they think the end times are near anyhow. They want the United States to be a Christian Nation, Christian values to be U.S. law.

That's spooky enough. But the AT somehow exist in the same party with another, seemingly unrelated group of voters, whose defining characteristic is an economic philosophy so reactionary that they want to de-regulate commerce, de-tax the rich, and de-fund the government until we enter into a kind of corporate feudalism. The Great Depression taught them nothing; the Savings and Loan debacle taught them nothing; and the trillion dollar banking bail out will teach them nothing.

Those unlikely allies are somehow allied with another seemingly unrelated group, the Hammer contingent. They're the folks who believe every problem can be fixed with a hammer. They are the kill it, bomb it, shoot it voters. They vote Republican because it's the throw-the-bastards-in-jail party, the "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" party, the party of Blowing Shit Up.

And of course these rank and file Republicans have their own overlords, too: the Country Club meeting, economy plundering, blood of the workers swilling, interlocking corporate boards running, richer-than-God people, who don't give a rat's ass about any of the issues that motivate their voters, and merely abuse their credulity, by running politicians who win elections on the issues their base cares about, and then turn around and do whatever the hell they are told to do by those richer-than-God elites.

Now, these chronically Republican voters, unlike chronically Democratic voters, are scary. And somehow there are just about as many of them as there are people who vote their economic self-interest.

Next, there are the undecided and swing voters. The undecideds are mostly people who digest so little political information that they don't know enough about the candidates and issues (even at this late point) to make up their minds. (Or are they engaged in some kind of profoundly complicated chess-like logic about issues and ramifications, five steps into the future, that we of lesser minds can only imagine? Nah, couldn't be.)

Swing voters are those who somehow waiver between the two parties, election after election. As if the distinctions between the parties are so obscure or slight that it requires careful consideration to tease them out and evaluate them every four years in the context of the current political climate. They have no sense that the two parties are really very different.

But they vote. (Shudder.)

I mean, come on. Reagan Democrats? Let's think about this a minute. That's like saying Mao Republicans, Jesus Satanists, Go Stoppers, No Yessers, White Blackers.

The chronically undecided, the swing voters, and the "Reagan Democrats" are people who will vote against their own economic self-interest because the other candidate projects a more macho image, or riddles his speeches with more references to God.

(Okay, in their defense, perhaps they have some of the reactionary attitudes that only the Republicans share-- racism, sexism, religious intolerance, etc., but still vaguely recognize that their economic interests lie with the Democrats. It must create cognitive dissonance of truly horrible proportions. I feel their pain. Or not.)

What's not just scary, but depressing is that these undecided and swing voting buffoons and ignoramuses have more power than the rest of us precisely because they can't be relied on to vote for one party or the other. They veer wildly between voting their irrational fears and prejudices, and voting their economic self-interest. The chronic Republican and Democratic voters get taken for granted, ignored, while the candidates have to focus on trying to sound bite or photo op their way into the hearts of these flighty, dimwitted, uninformed yahoos.

Of course there are fringe voters: Greenies, Libertarians, etc. But there frankly aren't enough of them to matter.

Oh, and then of course there are the people that don't vote. Lots of us! Most of us! What could possibly be the explanation for that? Is in anomie? Ennui? Something else French? Angst? Nausea? Mal de mer?

Well, that's the American electorate.

I need a drink.

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