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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

I Voted

November 4th, 2008 No comments

My polling place is considerably more crowded than usual. The excessive amount of democracy has caused a corresponding drop in the oxygen level, and I’m pretty sure that prospective voters will start passing out around 9:30 am if they don’t prop open a door.

That said, it only took about a half hour to vote, most of which was spent carefully darkening circles on the ballot–to ensure that I didn’t accidentally vote for Ralph Nader–and reading the needlessly obtuse referendum verbiage. (Actual question: “Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, Champaign County, Illinois, be increased by an additional amount equal to .02% above the limiting rate for levy year 2007 and be
equal to .0919% of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property therein for levy year 2008?” Fuck if I know.)

As I took my voter form to a charming African-American poll worker, I thought to myself about the remarkable nature of this day. The span between Martin Luther King having a dream and millions of Americans marking a ballot to elect our first black president seemed simultaneously a few heartbeats and far, far too long.

I went back and darkened in my circles a bit more, as I listened to a parent with a gaggle of children in tow explain the voting process, and a couple of first-time voters struggle through the ballot questions. And after I’d deposited my completed form in the electronic scanner and received my “I Voted” sticker (which today I wear with pride), I felt for a moment that maybe all the nonsense of the past two years had been worth it. Perhaps this crazy democracy works after all.

Get back to me about it tomorrow.

Categories: General Tags: ,

Crazy Daisy

October 5th, 2008 No comments

This political ad seems to be running every time I turn on the TV. It’s from Colleen Callahan, the Democratic candidate for Illinois’ 18th Congressional District.

And every time I see it, I want to say “Really? The ‘Daisy’ ad? You’re invoking perhaps the most infamous political commercial of all time to go after some schmoe who has about as much chance of starting a nuclear holocaust as I do of perfecting mind-over-matter?” I mean, I give her points for knowing her history, but surely there must be something more relevant to run on.

Case Closed

September 23rd, 2008 No comments

I’ll admit that the world of stock markets, investment banks and the like has never made a lick of sense to me. I struggled fitfully through the couple of finance classes I was obliged to take for my Bachelor’s degree. So, in one sense it’s heartening to know that a whole lot of allegedly smart people don’t get it either.

I do not pretend to understand the current crisis well enough to offer an informed opinion about the proposed bailout plan. I don’t know whether it’s terrible but necessary, or just plain terrible.

However, I do feel confident in saying that the events of the last week appear to put the lie to the central tenets of conservatism: government is bad; regulation is bad; an unfettered free market produces the optimal result.

Look, I’m not one of those who believes that big business is inevitably out to rape the little guy. Large corporations can produce great opportunities and amazing things. I don’t even have a grudge against Wal-Mart.

But many existing (and no-longer-existing) regulations were put there for a reason. And I’ve yet to see anyone–Democrat, Republican or other–out there making the case that this financial meltdown would’ve been averted if only we’d had a little less regulation.

I find it ironic that the suggested solutions to this mess involve heaping helpings of big government. Some require more intervention than others, but none that I’ve heard involve the unfettered free market using its invisible hand to stoke the fires of industry. Or some similar horseshit.

I’ve long felt that government–however flawed, foolish, bureaucratic, wasteful or corrupt–remains the only means of getting certain things done. Meat inspection? Public libraries? Traffic lights? The invisible hand won’t make those happen. You need an organization that has the authority, the tax dollars and the mandate to work in the public interest. On a good day, it’s a flawed ideal, but on a bad day, it just may be all you’ve got.

Categories: Rant Tags: ,

Talk Of The (Colbert) Nation

November 2nd, 2007 No comments

So, Stephen Colbert has been denied a spot on the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary ballot, and Vic and I are happy about the development. Make no mistake, we’ve both been fans of Colbert since his time on The Daily Show, and we still regularly watch The Colbert Report. I, for one, am amazed at just how long he’s managed to maintain what is essentially a one-note premise.

All that said, his recently-announced presidential bid made both Vic and I uncomfortable, her more so than me. She felt that the political process was already enough of a joke without subjecting it to a spoof candidacy.

I was a bit more willing to go along with the idea at first, if only to see where he’d go with it. I’ve been fascinated with Colbert’s use of his lunatic bully pulpit to effect real-life (if absurd) change: from inspired acts of Wikipedia sabotage to a successful bid in a Hungarian bridge-naming contest. I was intrigued that Colbert appeared to be taking the necessary steps to become an official candidate, despite the obvious legal hurdles involved in simultaneously hosting a nightly comedy TV series. (Not to mention having his presidential campaign sponsored by Doritos!)

Still, I find myself relieved that Colbert’s bid was rejected by the South Carolina Democratic party. (Ironically, the faux right-wing host was already denied running as a Republican because their filing fee–literally 14 times as much as that of the Democrats–would’ve exceeded the campaign spending cap that allowed him to otherwise skirt federal election laws.) It’s not like he was any threat to the front-runners, but as we’ve found in both the 2000 and 2004 general elections, a couple of percentage points one way or another in a key state can really screw the end result.

The end of Colbert’s campaign couldn’t be better timed in that it appears highly likely that the Writers’ Guild will strike, indefinitely shutting down both The Colbert Report and The Daily Show. Though in another bit of irony, not being able to hype his candidacy on Comedy Central presumably would have solved some of the legal issues involved.

A Rare Thing

September 24th, 2007 No comments

This is a simply amazing piece of video: the Republican mayor of San Diego, who ran on a platform opposing gay marriage, makes a complete 180 degree turn in a tearful, heartfelt speech. This is the sort of thing I wish that more politicians–Republican and Democrat alike–would have the balls to do.

Categories: News Tags: , ,