Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bedbugs and Bread Bags

Sometimes I think us East Coasters are a little sort-changed when it comes to the SOTU speech and the rebuttals--it's late by the time all the coverage is done. I have to get up for my paying gig the next day, and I usually have to get to bed before I've been able to properly ruminate on the President's speech, let alone the rebuttal. Especially not if there are five rebuttals.

What is a blogger to make of five rebuttals from the opposition party? Given that there's an "official" GOP response, I have to guess that the "takes" from different "rebuttals" have to be taken individually, on their own merits, and not view them cumulatively. I mean--would that be fair--five against one? (Well, yeah. I did think Obama did a heckuva job. Easily worth about five of those other speeches.)

See, I'm not what you'd call a pro, like Ron "No 'I' in Leadership, well, except that one" Fournier. And the benefit of blogging for seven years is that my regulars pretty much know where I stand on the major points President Obama brought up (raising the minimum wage--for it, equal pay for women--for it, addressing climate change--for it, land wars in the middle east--against'em), so I just feel like a point by point of the SOTU itself is pointless. In general, he looked more at home giving the speech this year and his zinger about winning two elections himself took some of that expectation that Dems losing the midterms overall would leave him "checked out" and lame-ducking it until January 2017 away. He's still "all in" as far as I can tell. But that's just my opinion.


Now I guess I could pay attention to Senators Rand Paul or Ted Cruz, being possible 2016 Presidential contenders. Honestly, I thought Cruz' mistaken upload of a "mis-take" was goofy enough to be planted to humanize him (shit, Rand Paul has me doing the "false flag" stuff, now...) and Rand Paul was...Rand Paul. He doesn't disappoint. I think It's pretty interesting that in the English responses immigration was still an ideological "no-go zone" (see what I did there?), but in the Spanish response, reform was a considered possibility.

But there's no question that it was newly-sworn Senator for Iowa Joni Ernst who had my real attention--for awhile. See, I watched her delivery--a little deliberate, frozen smile, frozen hair (completely understandable nerves?) but she started off the bat admitting that her rebuttal wasn't a rebuttal. Well, reasonable enough--I've never thought it was an easy task to tick off a point by point refutation of a usually hour-long speech released at the last minute on the fly, and presenting a Republican vision of what is possible for the coming years would be a great starting place for the new, GOP-majority Senate. And we didn't get that either. What we got was, Obamacare is a failed program (isn't) and bread bags.

Obamacare was phased-in in implementation and isn't a perfect plan, but it's got 10 million more people insured and lowered out of pocket premiums for many lower income people, and resulted in less people going bankrupt due to their medical costs. While health care cost are still going up, they are doing so at a lower rate, also. That's not a "failure" if it exceeds what we would have gotten overall with the status quo ante. Instead of "repeal and replace", I entreat my conservative friends to please start thinking about tinkering. Maybe call it "improve and refine". But she didn't dwell on the thing, so neither will I--

But bread bags. She is roughly my age, so we came up in the Reagan era. When I was small, we did sometimes use plastic bread bags--but not over the shoes. Plastic is what it is, and I don't know how well it would hold up between pavement and shoe leather. No, we put them under galoshes to protect our socks from slush getting in. If you get wet, cold socks in the morning, you can't think of anything but your feet the rest of the day. It wasn't anything to do with being poor (well, I didn't come up rich, and there were a lot of Salvation Army second-hand clothes worn--but to be honest I didn't do anything but grow out of clothes when I was a kid) but keeping my socks and pants cuffs dry. Could be they do it differently in Iowa, Douglas Burns seems to recall doing the bread bag thing, too--but when she got to a whole busload of kids with bread bags on their feet, I was gone. What a missing study for Norman Rockwell!

Nope. She lost me to her Senate stump-speech down-home bread bag imagery, and I could hardly keep up with how her stint working in the Hardees biscuit line meant she knew why the minimum wage shouldn't be raised.

She's a poor girl, doesn't try to hide it; bread bags on the soles of her shoes...

But you know me. I don't judge--I outsource that. But I'll tell you what: I don't think the Keystone pipeline she brought up will put shoes on too many feet. I do know she kept her speech as short as it needed to be.

3 comments:

Formerly Amherst said...

Sappnin, Vicky V

I confess I did not watch the SOTU. The lovely and gracious Alicia and I watched 'A Walk among the Tombstones,' another Liam Neeson vehicle. It's an adaptation from a Laurence Block novel. I am not a fan of Lawrence Block, but I salute Chandler as being the master and Ross McDonald as well. Dashiell Hammett started the genre, and he was praised by the French existentialists. They put murders in the dirty back-alleys and places of ill repute where you find them. I have to include the late Robert Parker, famous for his Spenser series. Parker had a PhD in English and did his doctorate on the tough-guy fiction that came out of Hammett and Chandler. The movie carried out a pretty good noir sensibility, but I found the end to be a little grotesque.

Didn't watch the SOTU because, frankly, they have become irrelevant vehicles for political haranguing and no longer really address our problems or solutions. This is even more the case when the president is in one party and the American people have just basically finished repudiating that president. Anything the president says is DOA unless the issuing of executive orders has simply become the new way to supersede democracy. So you get a lot of wish fulfillment fantasy, a lot of 'screw you bastards on the other side', and a lot of 'isn't it wonderful we're all in celestial harmony'.

As you know I am a conservative, but I don't care for either political party. I think they once served a good cause, but now just help every contention to be politicized. When you run across a blog that automatically argues that the other party is lower than whale dung and always elevate their own party, it is obvious you're either dealing with a propagandist or someone with a psychological disorder.

You know, every morning when Bob got up he would look in the mirror and ask himself, “Have I become a useful idiot..yet?” You'll notice that he didn't even allow for the possibility that it wouldn't happen at some point, just that maybe it hadn't happened yet. Today we have a lot of people serving their puppet masters. Eric Hoffer wrote a book about such individuals once called 'The True Believer.” I would speculate that the left is correct about 20% of the time and the right is correct about 20% of the time, and the rest of the time nobody is right. Furthermore, I wish that politicians had taken a “first so no harm” oath when they signed in.

My advice to people in general is do not let your political views define you. Sure, you lean in some direction or another, and that's the way it seems to you, but life is about a lot more than your political views. I would say take back your identity from party apparatus, which are just 2 competing advertising campaigns.

Ultimately you are a being that has importance in and of yourself and not by virtue of what political orientation seems right to you at the moment.

Years ago I read John Kenneth Galbraith. Later I liked Milton Friedman. I'm a very conservative guy. But I think the left has given us good possibilities with the Social Security system, Medicare, Medicaid and some other programs too. When I was a political radical, 90% of the stuff we spouted was pure crap. But we did some good work on urban renewal and helped lift some minority families into greater possibilities. I don't have anything against a lot of programs, but not when we are $18 trillion in debt. And the debt is owned by countries sometimes our competitors. We have to service that debt by paying interest fo the holders of those bonds, which means we have to get deeper in debt to fund any more programs. Free community college is a pretty good idea, but Obamacare is not. Both sides have merits.

At my age, my next big event is either moving into assisted living facilities with Alicia or just exiting the vehicle.

The Hindus tell us this is all maya; the Sephir Yetzira explains it's the luminous garment of the eternal. Maybe we'll talk about that sometime.

Vixen Strangely said...

I mean to really sink my teeth into some noir mystery reading--I've been a huge fan of Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes for the longest, but the cinematic, grittier sort of gumshoe was never much of my bag--I liked Liam Neeson in the couple "Taken" stories, but they are really more like action vehicles. Chandler's prose breaks down like free verse poetry when he's really swinging. I might check "A Walk Among the Tombstones" out but the trailer gave me a definitely dark and pessimistic vibe.

It's probably no shock that I basically agree with you on the irrelevance of the SOTU in practical terms--it's "event television watching". Being a political blogger is why I feel obliged to comment on it, but just like five responses seem like "fifteen minutes of fame for everybody", the president gets sucked into making "let's go to Mars" type comments because swinging for the rafters has become obligatory. So Mark Kelly has to look uncomfortable about spending X amount of time away to do y-sort of science-y but mostly grand thing.

I don't worry myself about becoming a useful idiot because I recognize my idiot moments and dare anyone to find me especially useful. I'm mostly aiming for informative and entertaining in the here and now--but as for advancing party interests--not so much. If there's a party interest in reforming and getting very honest and doing things because they are right and not because of donors and special interest money--well, yeah. I could get a little behind that push. But I'm not about buttering up my side to make them slide better into the limelight. Nah.

I've mentioned Marxism somewhat favorably--I'm not really a Marxist as such--I think Marx had some really relevant things to say about the value of worker input and the general movement of history, which have been more or less distorted. Overall, I'm way more of a Keynesian--which a lot of people take to mean "Big Government spending all the monies".

Not so much. Government "bigness" seems to be, in a democracy, a factor that could be limited by the people if they figured out what the government actually did and had a mind to make it not do some of that stuff. In terms of spending and patronage--it's always in some fashion about distributing money--it's just when it comes down to "redistribution" that a lot of people balk--why aren't funds rightfully earned and kept by them that gained them?

To me, I think I'm a leftist largely because I acutely feel like income gets distributed to those that got--when specifically republicans get in charge. Medicare part D was a giveaway to Big Pharma and Obamacare is, in some respects, a giveaway to Big Insurance. There might have been ways of regulating costs down, or just nationalizing (since I'm a leftist, that isn't a dirty word) those life and death industries, and not had the awkward situation where to benefit low-income folks, we were giving tax dollars to corporations, which doesn't pay the corporation the way they'd like or always give the full services individuals might want.

Vixen Strangely said...

I'm very solid on protecting Social Security, though. I see no societal value in letting elder Americans go hungry or homeless because they aren't in the work pool--and FWIW, I have a hard time with perspectives that assume everyone has to be in the work pool. My mother was a stay at home parent to me and my brother, and I sometimes think society looks at stay at homes like that choice isn't as valid.

It meant a lot to us. She worked to make sure we had our shit together going to school and being in clean clothes and staying healthy and well-fed--I really don't think I could have come home, done chores, done homework, gone to bed exhausted, and did as well as with Mom running my show. Some kids today don't have that "mom-net". I can't imagine how they do.


Although our debt isn't held by as much overseas creditors as is popularly imagined, and interests rates are still historically low, I really do think it might behoove people to realize that in the old "debt/deficit" conversations, we might like to consider that the only way to see the debt seriously go down is to see the annual budgets continuously running surpluses instead of deficits.

I would go large with one major thing that would cut down a big part of food and housing subsidies--living wages. Corporations pay their workers enough to live on so taxpayers don't have to. I am sick that we pay Walmart for the privilege of their low-paid workers and "everyday unreasonable tweaked prices". The corps are getting at least work from their workers. The taxpayers already got jobs, they shouldn't be kicking in for other workers' privilege of employment. That bugs me. Another bugbear for me is the privatizing of all the things. Shit--profit motive drives costs up. Monopolies set prices--whether high or low. I'd like prisons and military contractors to be government over private, every last time.