Sunday, November 02, 2008

Go West


We had a lovely Dia de los Muertos, alone together at the McMenamin's Kennedy School.

We attended the Northwest Energy Association fall symposium and had a hella good dinner, some good wine, slept late Sunday, breakfasted, read, Mojo soaked in their hot pool, we spent a leisurely hour at IKEA, and then home to our needy little ones who spent the rest of Sunday clinging to one or both of us (aiieee...!!!)

Now it's back to the same nose and the same grindstone, the only advantage that today is the LAST day of the 2008 election. I'm SO tired of the entire risible pageant, from the Obamamessiah hype to the Palin ignorance, from McSame's pathetic anger to the craven cozening and toadying of our congresscritters to the culpable ignorance and hubris of the American electorate. I have an ugly, uneasy feeling about the next few years.

I know I've been saying this for a long time, I know that I risk sounding like a broken record. But I think the combination of imperial hubris and fiscal irresponsibility, of impenetrable ignorance and irrepressible gullibility is going to set a loathesome and indigestible feast of shame and dishonor for us.

For a long time I've been enjoying George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series. It's your basic swords-and-sorcery with a strong overlay of the Wars of the Roses thrown in made enjoyable by an author who writes well and moves the story along with engaging characters. But if you wanted to sum up the "feel" of the story you could do worse than quote the words of House Stark:

"Winter is coming."

I have that feeling.I think we're in for a cold coming winter, and I hope that I and my family are strong enough: strong enough in love, strong enough in endurance and grit, to weather that winter.

I am worried about our country. Lisa over at Ranger Against War points out thoughtfully that we're not talking about the ugly racial and social divides that still fracture us, and that the nomination of Obama is kicking in a door that many Americans want to keep closed. While I agree with her that the to-me silly theme of Obama as "change" personified is not helpful, I have to disagree with her that this isn't a fight that needs to happen now. If not now, when? If not us, then who?

Lisa says:
"But the legacy of slavery and race relations are the great sorrows of this nation, which will perdure past the current sorrows of our own making, and they attach to Obama solely due to his race. This is the subtext of this election for many disenfranchised white voters."
and asks if risking the odium of these voters - and the potential loss of the election - is worth the objectification of Obama as the beginning of the end of the Great White Ways.

I think that's a valid question. And I suspect that Lisa's answer is a qualified "no"; that the Democrats are risking too much for too small a gain. And I think, after trying to look at the issue apart from my bone-deep loathing of the Bush-Cheney criminals and intellectual derision of the Obamessianic hype, that despite my respect for Ranger Lisa and my appreciation for the cogentcy of her argument my answer is a qualified "yes".

IMO we need to get past worrying about whether the fundamentalists are going to be upset that homosexuals mating is making Baby Jesus cry. We need to get past worrying whether that black cop got his job because of Affirmative Action.

We need to START worrying about the abyss between rich and poor, wider now than at any time since the Gilded Age. We need to start worrying about the hideously unrepublican effects of the continental glacier of cash and influence distorting our government. We need to start asking how we're going to continue to be The Indispensible Nation with a defense budget the size of a young asteroid and a self-shrinking tax base that leaves us borrowing our operating budget from the Chinese and the Lombards.

We need to start worrying about our economy, and whether remaking our nation from a nation of farmers and artisans and factory workers and engineers into a nation of lawyers and doctors and "consultants" and baristas and burger-flippers is a Good Thing. And if facing a blackish-looking man as a President will help with this - and it might - then we need to try it.And we NEED to start asking why none of our candidates is asking us or telling us about the things I've listed above. Obama is admittedly better than McSame, who is lying when he's not not telling the truth, but when Obama promises this and that and the other AND a tax cut?

He's lying.

Frankly, I'm tired of the whole damn business. The GOP has so thoroughly screwed the American pooch that only a deaf-and-dumb multimillionaire with a defense plant would be marginally sane to vote Republican this fall. The attack ads are loathesome, the GOP race- and gender-baiting even more so, and, what is more frustrating is that I know that even if Obama wins tomorrow the next four years will be full of the sort of GOP dirty tricks that made the Newt Gingrich era so repellent.

I really want to hope that there's hope for my country. The dream of the U.S. has always been one of history's wonderful dreams. I had to include this lovely little snapshot of a cyber-friend's daughter that symbolizes the best of America for me.I don't know what most people's vision of America is, but that picture pretty well sums up MY vision; where a little girl (or little boy) can be welcomed, loved, grow up free and healthy and strong and loving and giving no matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like or what they believe in, so long as they believe in those wonderful words that begin "We, the People, of the United States..."

So I've been feeling sort of nervous and edgy and irritable all day, wanting tomorrow to be over, wanting the wretched Republicans to be cast into the outer darkness but fearing some last, awful Rovean dirty trick, worried about the future but hoping for the best...and with all of that on my mind, I at least found some comfort in my old friend 孙悟空, Sun Wukung, the Monkey King, in this little video from the cartoon adaptation of "Journey to the West" by the Japanese anime artist Ryosuke Tei. I've loved this story ever since we found a Chinese language manga version of it in Guangzhou; we love to sit and tell the story to Missy even though we can't read the characters, the pictures are so delightful.Here's more over at Pink Tentacle.

That's all. I hope you're more optimistic and excited on this Election Eve than I am; and whether or not you are, I will urge you to go out there and vote. You know how cynical I am about this, and how I feel about our late-Republican-Roman conditions. But, as the saying goes, you can't play the game if you don't step on the field. Lace on your cleats and go give some Republican balls a good kicking!

Update, 11/3 (about ten minutes after I posted this): Seems that I'm not the only one feeling kinda low down: Paul Campos over at LG&M says about the same and says it better, as usual.

Oh - I should note that the snapshots of Mojo and Missy were from Sunday, when Little Miss decided that mommies needed to be crushed; physically sat on. And that she was the toddler to do it. So she did. There was a LOT of giggling. And Missy and Mojo laughed a lot, too.


Charles Gittings said...

Gee, actually, I'm right on the edge of a black depression.

Partly that's for personal reasons, but only because they aggravate the big picture.

The people of this country are really pretty fucking clueless, especially anyone who is still willing to vote for a Republican.

But my day started a with one my fellow democrats setting off a completely pointless confrontation with me simply because she couldn't be bothered to listen to me for 20 seconds. We eventually patched it up, it set off a long train of thought about the last seven years of my project, the last 20 years since my divorce, and indeed, the full 56 years of my life.

Old story: I just don't belong here. Never did, never will, yet here I am, fully aware that there s o many good things in spite of it all -- that's the depressing part.

FDChief said...

Charles: Even back in the day, remember, "a prophet is without honor only in his own country". I hope that you can find some bright line to hang on to. It's tough, and I'm sorry to hear you're having such a hard time.

I don't think it's going to hit me until the day that Dubya and his pals walk out of the White House unindicted free men. But that day I think I'm going to have a hard time handling that...

walternatives said...

Bravo - the politics you enjoy writing about and the pics so many of us delight in - all in one post!

Honestly, I think that I've been brainwashed or brain squashed by this long-ass adoption wait, because I'm doing the shrug over this election; it will happen the way it's gonna happen, no matter how much I get my panties in a wad or not.

I'm not saying that I don't care; if McDick wins, I may be begging the Goob to get us to the EU. But I'm not freaking out about it. JFC, my big issue today is wondering if I should look for a used stroller or buy a wagon, for Christ's sake. That, or knowing the DNA results. I'm on a different plane this election.

IIWII - it is what it is. But I'm sure excited to know that 49% of Texans voted early this year. Day-yum.

p.s. Cute pics of your lovelies. And I envy your overnight; they've been booked full every single time that we've tried to stay at the Kennedy School.

Red Sand said...

I too enjoy the Martin books and first shuddered at the Stark motto several years back. It's not feeling so fictional and remote anymore and there are days when I get bound up in my anger at what is being to us, and at times through us, with our complacent acceptance. Scale is sometimes different, the flag varies as well, but there's a lot of decisions being made in various locations that leave me shaking.

I don't know what the answer is, sometimes I wonder if it has to get a whole lot worse just so that people can see what's at stake. Sometimes I wonder if TWAWKI will hold up long enough for us to see a referral picture and find an airline that has survived long enough to get us across the continents.

Other times, I give my head a shake and wonder how I got to such a strange and dismal mental place. It can't really be that bad, can it?

We'll be watching and bearing witness tomorrow, even those of us who are not so directly affected by the results. And yes, political refugees will be supported on the sandbar. We can offer brilliant foliage, lots of snow, and plenty of potatoes.

pluto said...

Charles, I've come to the conclusion that a large percentage of the people in the blogosphere feel like they don't belong here.

You've certainly got better reasons than most to make the statement but, like the Chief, I hope you find some hope on which to hang your hat.

I've also read the first of the Martin series, and I can tell you that in Minnesota the saying "Winter is coming" is the literal truth, even with global warming.

Have hope about the future, Chief. I've been crunching numbers and am finally beginning to see the shape of the current crisis and do not believe it will affect you and yours too badly. This round is mostly about the 1/3 of American businesses and 1/4 of American households that are hopelessly in debt.

The sad fact is that these people and businesses can't do anything to avoid the worst of the crisis which has been a long time in coming. They've made their beds and now have to sleep in them and there's going to be a world of hurt for a bunch of people who are only guilty of being employed by the wrong company or who didn't read the fine print on the mortgage they signed.

Depending on the actions of the next Administration, the worst of this should be over by 2010. Just in time for the next wave (Medicare, I think) to start gathering momentum...

But as I've noted before, I'm a very cautious optimist and think that if you've done your homework and aren't too unlucky things will turn out okay. I just wish so much of the country wasn't either clueless or unlucky.

Ael said...

Public Education!

Arm the people with a solid education and they will be resilient.

If you are worried for your country, work towards improving the general education level.

Everything else is secondary.

Winter may be coming, but it can also teach many good lessons.

pluto said...

AEL - "Winter may be coming, but it can also teach many good lessons."

Very, very true and a good point.

FDChief said...

W: You're doin' what u should be doin' - focussing on your soon-to-be kidlets. Fuck the small stuff.

RS: We can do cold. And rainy - did I mention rainy?

Pluto: Our problem is that much of both of our work revolves around construction and development. We will be hurting if that part of the economy goes TOO far south. Given the immense deficit I have no faith that a WPA for the 21st Century will be able to fund all the infrastructure work we'd need to stay busy.

ael: True, but only to a point. The past decade is the first since WW2 where salaries/wages did not correlate directly with education. The education ladder is just flat out being topped out.

And the other reality is that education, at least our industrial model of educaton, will only work for a certain perentage of the population and we may be close to reaching it. My experience teaching community college did not reassure me that the educational pool can get much wider or much deeper - some people simply lack the cognitive, organizational or disciplinary skills needed to succeed at a level beyond high school...

So in a general sense, yes, the winter will help many adapt and change. But culling the herd is also brutal in that those who can't change or adapt will die. That's not a bad thing for the species or perhaps a society as a whole, but it sucks for individuals, especially since in a really hard winter you don't have to be slow, or stupid - just unlucky.

Charles Gittings said...

Ya, well, my afternoon was better than my shitty morning, and for what it's worth FDC, you and the other Itel Dump regulars like Pluto and the rest HAVE been a bright spot for me -- I've enjoyed the conversations a lot.

I also enjoy your family posts, because they remind of normal life, and well... of just exactly what I've been doing the last seven years. Your daughter wasn't even alive when I started my preposterous little project, but it's literally the case that in my own mind I was going to war for her and every other kid like her.

But seven years is a long time, and I wish I had better logistics.

The worst thing right now my cat Lulu is sick, we've been together 10 years and she's my best friend. She's on meds and seems to be getting better, but it's some kind of bronchitis and I just want her well and with all the other crap on my mind it's just little much, ya know.

But tomorrow is another day.

Ael said...

School learning is useful, but only to a point.

My kids all love to read. In fact, they can't understand some of their schoolmates who never pick up a book, cause the friends are missing *so much good stuff*.

People who enjoy learning, know how to adapt. And when it is cold outside, adaptability pays. Just ask Admunsen (or Scott!)

Learning to like learning is a survival skill.

FDChief said...

Charles: Hope things get better - and kitties get better, too - soon.

ael: "Learning to like learning is a survival skill." True word. Our way of learning is just very difficult for some people, and mostly the very people who need it most. I'm afraid that the next couple of years will be very hard for them.

As I say - that's not necessarily a bad thing for our country as a whole. But for the people involved...not so much.

Leon said...

Good luck chief, here's hoping the rest of the electorate has a sudden slap of common sense and go Obama. My worry is the inevitable sense of disappointment people will feel since he's been hyped way too much. I don't doubt he's going to be an excellent president but pretty much nothing short of dragging OBL barehanded from a cave complex with nothing but a fish fork will match the unreal level of expectations being heaped on the poor guy.

And if the creatures from the sewers and the money men pull strings and rig another election? Well there's a place for you up here north of the border.


Charles Gittings said...


Just a brief thought about expectations...

I have literally spent the last seven years working towards today with the understand that as hard as what I was trying to do was, the hardest part would come after today.

And here is my greatest hope for Barack Obama:

I believe he might just be a reasonable man who will approach the job with an open mind and a sincere commitment to the welfare of humanity.

I can ask for nothing more.

pluto said...

So, Chief, both you and Mojo are in the construction industry? That IS putting your eggs in one basket but I still THINK (key word there) you'll be okay.

The Pacific Northwest doesn't seem to have been as massively overbuilt as the rest of the country and in spite of your pessimism, there's no question that there will be a lot of cash disbursed for infrastructure, the bigger question is how much of it will land in Oregon.

Another key factor is how smart the management of your company is. I'm also in a construction-related industry and the company I'm with has a long and glorious history of amazing stupidity but seems to have FINALLY learned its lessons and is doing quite well in spite of the fact that our region has been hit pretty hard by the recession so far.

Lisa said...


Thank you for your sincere interaction. I value your opinions immensely (I am on-the-road, and so not reading as assiduously as I might.)

Hope is essential, and am I with you now in hoping that Obama's best intentions are as he expresses them to be.


Dear Charles,

I hope that your beloved cat is recovering, and I hope you are feeling better, too.

Charles Gittings said...

Lisa, Thanks for the good wishes. Lulu seems to be recovering pretty well now; she's been on an anti-biotic for almost a week and it seems it was something very similar bronchitis and it's going away.

Lisa said...


I am glad to hear of Lulu's recovery.

Upper respiratory infections are most distressing for the cats, what with their small nasal cavities, poor things. I will wish her a full recovery to health!