Got Democracy?

Why vote?

Because it’s one of the few opportunities you have to shape your own reality.  That’s the only reason I need.

But also? If you vote, you get a sticker.  And at some polls, candy.  I myself have already voted, and at my voting place I got BOTH a sticker and candy.  Also a pen and a notepad.  I mean, come on, how can you not vote with all the free stuff that comes with it?

There are lots more reasons to vote, though, and you should read them over at Colleen’s place.  Thanks, Colleen, for putting this together.

Out of Kinsman

Youngstown has certainly got a lot of attention in the media during the past year of political candidates running around the country, trying to make their case for why they should be president. I’ve seen articles from the New York Times to Japan’s version of the Wall Street Journal, and television reports from French and German and Australian channels. But I came across this video from Time Magazine today which features the little farm town I grew up in, Kinsman.

I resonate with much of what is presented in the video, although I’m not sure some of the spokespeople selected have much experience in urban settings to be able to recognize the same sort of kinship and aspects of community kindness that he feels is inherent to rural living. However, Sherry Linkon, co-director of Youngstown State University’s Center for Working Class Studies, speaks in this article as well, with some insightful commentary.

In any case, for those of you who might have thought I grew up in Youngstown, nope, I just went to college there and have made it my home more or less (between stints in California, Michigan, and Japan) ever since. Here is where I grew up. Old fashioned Ray Bradbury country.

Doing the math

Do you get sick and tired of hearing how Republicans apparently are better with the economy, with money, than Democrats, and how Democrats are perceived to be “spend, spend, spend”?  Well, if so, you need to read the fabulous Scott Westerfeld’s (author of the Uglies series) blog post “Do the Math” on the website YA for Obama, where Scott does indeed do the math based on statistics for the past sixty or seventy years, comparing Republican and Democratic administrations (taking a wide variety of variables into account, like House and Senate majorities as well) and finds that, in fact, Democrats are hands down better at growing our economy than Republicans every time.  He also explains how and why Republican administrations tend to run the American economy into the ground time and time again.  They say they’ll lower taxes, and they do, but to make up for it, they borrow borrow borrow from other countries, and leave us holding the bag full of debt.  

To read the whole breakdown, go here.

Officially done

After watching tonight’s debate, I am officially done with the political race.  I don’t feel like I’m getting any more information from either candidate.  At this point, I just hear the same catch phrases over and over.  And I’m discouraged by their choices to continue limiting the form of the debates.  First, McCain’s campaign negotiates for shorter response and debate times for the Biden/Palin debate, most likely so that Palin could recite her ABC’s for the nation more easily.  And now, tonight, the debate was changed so that there could be no follow-ups between candidates, though Obama broke away from that at one point to correct McCain on various issues he had muddled through, decontextualizing Obama’s record as usual.  My problem is, as a citizen, I feel that we deserve debates which force these candidates to actually think on their feet, to work through issues in front of us, rather than to recite memorized catch phrases, and in which they are forced to truly confront one another.  Right now, I feel like I’ve gone to the circus.  We’re being given the illusion of something wild and fantastic, but it’s all been rehearsed and rehearsed, is more artifice than reality.  And I think reality is what we deserve as citizens about to make an incredibly important decision in less than a month.  If this is all they have for us, we might as well go ahead and vote now.

Welcome to America

With a cold rain falling, the truck bangs along a gray road past weather-beaten houses raised on stilts. A few years ago, two-thirds of the village was finally connected to water and sewer lines; this is the one-third still waiting. Many residents, including Mr. Snyder, bathe with water retrieved from the Kuskokwim River and use honey buckets as latrines. Some of these malodorous buckets sit like garbage cans along the roadside.

Read the whole article by clicking here.

On any given day

I’m redistributing this link via Christopher Rowe, because it’s a really beautiful recommendation from Ralph Stanley, who I would listen to on any given day.  Hearing it made me smile (non-ironically), which is a really nice thing to be able to do these days.

If for some reason you don’t know who Ralph Stanley is, go here for a recap.  Then go get a cd or download something on your i-whatever, and start listening.

What I heard

What I heard on a walk around my neighborhood tonight:

“Bush said the entire economy’s in danger.  He sayin’ it like it’s our fault.”

“Brother still won’t own up to bein’ a straight-up mofo loser takin’ us down with him.”

“Shit.  We still ain’t ownin’ up to puttin’ the mofo in office either.”

I didn’t put that man in office!”

“You ain’t done nothin’ but complain to me about him either.  Why don’t you go protest or somethin’!?”

“Yeah, I suppose I should do that.”

“Yeah, I suppose I should, too.”

Sighs.

All that glitters…

What I would like to elucidate as the main difference between the vice-president selections from my last post is that Obama’s choice of running mate (a choice of someone he perceives will fill in gaps he himself may have as president, thus aiding him) is a decision made from wisdom and a genuine intention to create an administration that is capable, experienced, and knowledgeable.

McCain’s selection of Palin, on the other hand, is a decision made from cleverness, of knowing how to manipulate people by placing images of themselves onstage.  In Sara Palin, he has selected the mother, the righteous believer in Christ, the hunter, the regionally ignored, the female who has grown tired of her own gender being excluded to a great extent from the center of the political process throughout our history.  It is a decision made to garner votes for the Republican party, not a decision made with goodwill and authentic intention to form an administration that has the skills, know-how, experience, and savvy to actually do good for a nation (and for the world, since we are so inextricably connected with the rest of the world).  It is a decision to create an illusion, to hypnotize with a figure whose multi-faceted identity refracts and reflects a large population of people who feel disenfranchised (whether they are or not–I would argue that the fundamentalist Christian population he is courting is not disenfranchised enough, and have made far too many in-roads into a political process that by the very constitution of this government should not have the involvement that it does at this juncture in our history, yet it is a population that declares itself disenfranchised anyway, and in doing so, garners a sort of victim’s power in the socio-political landscape).

McCain’s choice in Palin is what we call hand-waving in science fiction and fantasy writing circles.  It’s a term used to “refer to a plot device (e.g. a scientific discovery, a political development, or rules governing the behavior of a fictional creature) that is left unexplained or sloppily explained because it is convenient to the story, with the implication that the writer is aware of the logical weakness but hopes the reader will not notice.” McCain’s choice in Palin is hand-waving.  There is no explanation for why she is his running mate,  what she can really do as a vice president of a nation.  McCain and the Republican party hope that we will be dazzled and hypnotized by her glamour, her sparkling facets that seems so much like so many of us, but in fact are none of us at all.  She is a distraction.  A desparate distraction.  Will the American people be distracted by her in the end?  Will we choose to endure another four years of our public and common properties being siphoned into the hands of the few?  I don’t know.  We have that history of looking where someone points, instead of “keeping our eyes on the ball,” as my father would say.  We have a history of falling for snake oil salesmen.