The bar was buzzing last night with election talk. Since I’m not paid to debate my customers (and I don’t know the views of others in earshot), I always keep my comments neutral. But sometimes it’s hard.
“There is no conceivable reason to own a gun. In Italy you can’t buy a gun.”
I pursed my lip and nodded. She was a feminist.
“Are you ready for change? Change is coming.”
Oh, sure, I’m ready.
Besides some trivial matters, I don’t think anything will change regardless of who wins. Unless McCain wins and then dies.
There was a female canvasser for the Democratic National Committee hassling people outside the Woodley Park Metro stop yesterday afternoon. She easily reeled me in after I made eye contact with her.
“Excuse me are you a registered Democrat?”
“No I’m an independent,” I said, “but I usually vote Democrat.”
“Okay good. As you may know we’re very close to getting a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. If that happens and Obama wins next month the Democrats would have control to….”
I interrupted. “I don’t think the Democrats deserve a filibuster proof majority.”
“Why not?” she asked.
“Two years ago they took control of Congress and the Senate on the premise that they would end the war in Iraq. Yet they have done no such thing. They have rubber stamped every one of Bush’s defense spending bills, and the votes haven’t even been close. Republicans didn’t even have to filibuster. Pelosi and Reid have been steamrolled by the most unpopular President in history.”
“Okay, well, umm.”
“The Democrats even voted for FISA. They voted for the recent Wall Street bailout. They’re not as bad as the Republicans, I agree, but not much better. This year I will be voting against my Democratic Congressman because he voted for the bailout. Even Obama’s timeline to end the war in Iraq has been pushed back. What is it now, 2010?”
She was stuck. The poor thing. She’s just an eager eyed young girl with Obama fever trying to make a difference, but in the end she was a sorry spokesman for her party and should head up the street to Tryst where she can practice on a more sympathetic crowd. The conversation devolved into her explaining to me how if we pull out of Iraq now the situation would get worse. I could swear that was a Republican talking point at one point. Flip sides of the same coin, someone once said to me.
After all that she still asked me if I wanted to donate to the DNC. I declined.
Democratic: Yes (140) / No (95)
Republican: Yes (65) / No (133)
The Republicans saved the day.
My representative, Democrat Chris Van Hollen, voted for this bill. I warned him in several emails that I would vote against him if he did and I’m a man of my word: if a monkey is running against him I will vote for the monkey. I will also spread word at the coffee shop that our representative was so easily convinced by Bush and Paulson to give away our money.
Republicans saved the day? But the stock market tanked and lots of people have stocks in 401k’s!
It will tank regardless. Let the correction take its course. The faster is happens the faster we can divert resources to productive sectors of the economy instead of banks that deserve to rot and die and cease to exist.
The Powers That Be never made a believable connection to how this bailout would save us. “If you save the banks, they’ll start lending again for consumer car loans and credit cards!” Yes, consuming instead of producing will save us.
The proposal’s defeat was also cheered on by a number of blogs that in recent days have posted links to lawmakers’ telephone and fax numbers and urged citizens to oppose the plan. They included stopthehousingbailout.com, a Web site organized by a 37-year-old Los Angeles attorney named Morgan Ward Doran, and globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com, run by Mike Shedlock, an investment adviser at SitkaPacific Capital Management. Mr. Shedlock said in an interview Monday that his site had received 1.7 million page hits this month, which he said was half a million more than normal.
On his Web site, Mr. Shedlock has derided the proposed rescue as “a rush to judgment” that would benefit “high-flying financiers who chased big profits through reckless investments,” and as “a complete waste of $700 billion.”
“A number of people emailed me to say this was the first time that they’ve written, faxed or phoned their member of Congress,” said Mr. Shedlock, a 55-year-old resident of Prairie Grove, Ill. “Were going to phone and fax every member of Congress who voted against this to thank them. … Everyone who voted to pass this bill, we’re going to actively organize to oust them.”
The cynic in me is convinced they’ll come up with something similar and pass that instead.
My anti-Americanism has peaked. Like most Americans, I don’t care anymore. Give me the serenity for what I cannot control, etc.
Things about this country I like:
1. Life opportunity. If you are willing to educate yourself, network, and move your ass, you will be rewarded with a salary above the national average, and a lifestyle better than 98% of the world’s population. Money will not be a problem as long as you live within your means.
2. I’m fluent in the native language. One thing slowing me down from making an equivalent salary in another country is language, but a lot of immigrants here prove it is a hurdle that can be overcome.
3. Fast sex opportunity. There will always be strong demand for men who know how to turn on women using words and touch instead of money and status. The market is saturated with guys who don’t have a clue.
4. The Bill Of Rights. Even with the erosions to our rights since 9/11, there are not many countries where I can tell a police officer that he can’t enter my home or search me or my car, or one I can say that our current president sucks horse cock without going to jail. While police agencies are revenue corrupt (parking tickets, red-light cameras), I feel confident that most of my interactions with law enforcement will not end with a beating or drug plant.
5. Target (and it’s little cousin, CVS). From sex lubricant to cutlery, gardening supplies to crazy pills, I love how I can walk in a building near my house and buy everything I could possibly need. Compare this to a European pharmacy where your two choices of bar soap are hidden in cabinets and you need to find a clerk to buy chapstick.
Things I don’t like:
1. Consumerism. The masses devote their life working to buy luxury crap and Ikea furniture, asking what thing can be bought to bring happiness instead of what can be experienced. The result: a superficial culture that turns something like a stupid party slut going to jail into a national obsession.
2. Aggressive government. With over
600 700 military bases worldwide, we’re in everyone’s business to preserve the power and interests of the white man elite. People’s lives, American or not, are meaningless.
3. Corporate power. Industries that form trade groups to spread propaganda and buy politicians have the power to write public policy to maximize profits at our expense.
4. The suburbs. A soulless experiment of strip malls and asphalt that waste the world’s most precious energy resource with automobile dependency while isolating individuals to cars, cubicles, and assembly-line houses.
5. Female obesity. If you lower the obesity rate here to a country like France, and reduce the shallowness that stems from individualism and consumerism, American women would compete well with foreign women. Finding a thin American who is not messed up in the head and girlfriend worthy is so hard here that I wonder if going to another country would completely solve the problem.
Even with the negatives, this country is a comfortable, safe, and decent place to live, one that I intend on growing old in unless I find something better. While I don’t have American pride, I back all of you up whenever a Aussie or British traveler tries to talk trash with their “Americans are so fat/stupid/materialistic” talking points. I can make fun of Americans because I am one, but I’ll be damned if I let someone who eats Vegemite (yeast waste) trash my fellow countrymen.
I’m tired of seeing and hearing the phrase “Support the troops.” It’s meaningless unless you explain what type of support you are talking about. You can want to support the troops but have two completely different outcomes in mind.
Do you mean support the troops in fighting the war? In this case you want to pump more money into weapons and send more troops to back up the ones already there.
Or do you mean support the troops in increasing the likelihood they will survive in the next year? In this case you want to remove them from the bullets and bombs in Iraq and send them back home to comfortable suburbia where they are more likely to die falling down in the shower than getting hit with an IED.
I’m not sure how “Support the troops” has come more to mean “Support the war” instead of “Support life.”
It only took me about three months but I have finally finished the 600-page book Ghost Wars, about events in Afghanistan and Pakistan leading up to 9/11. My favorite paragraph:
The [CIA] sent out a team of mechanics knowledgeable about Russian helicopters to try to resolve the [helicopter mechanical issue]. Massoud’s men took them to their Dushanbe airfield and opened up one of the Mi-17s. The CIA mechanics were stunned: Massoud had managed to patch an engine originally made for a Hind attack helicopter into the bay of the Mi-17 transport. It was a mis-matched, gum-and-baling-wire machine, a flying miracle. The CIA mechanics were so appalled that they did not even want Massoud’s pilots to fire up the helicopter’s rotors. They were afraid the whole thing would come apart and send shrapnel flying.
The freedom fighter leadership would fly in these helicopters.
I still find it amazing that one man who traveled in SUV caravans in third-world countries continues to stymie the most power empire in the history of the world. The book, which I highly recommend, lays the groundwork for how this all came to be. Reading it has been the biggest commitment I made all year.