About Last Night…

…I didn’t watch the VP debate. No point, really.

When I watch TV, I typically watch a lot of documentary TV… Discovery Channel, History Channel, Food Network, DIY, etc. DirecTV feeds a couple hundred channels, most of which were un-sullied by the debate coverage, into my house. So I actually watched something else and learned something I didn’t previously know, unlike the VP debate, which, like the 3 scheduled Presidential debates (one of which has been completed), are essentially content-free as far as learning goes.

Really. Think about it. Did you learn anything truly new from watching last week’s Presidential debate or this last night’s VP debate?

No, you did not.

Did any of the candidates or their running mates trot out a genuinely new idea or concept or proposal?

No, they did not. They regurgitated what their TV ads and interviews and websites and party platforms have already stated over and over again to the point of inducing nausea.

And we have another month of this waist-deep crap to wade through before the election, then a solid week of artificially-colored maps telling us what "color" state we live in and analyzing the results well past the point of inducing nausea.

Mark my words: doesn’t matter which candidate wins the election. It doesn’t. Aside from age and skin tone, they ain’t that different. On one side, you have a relatively liberal conservative who has played further right on social issues to appease the party regulars. On the other side you have liberal (based on voting record) playing to the center to appease enough of Middle America. The net out of this is one guy just right of center (overall) and one guy just left of center (overall) but close enough to each other to cover ’em with a single blanket. Pay no attention to the websites and plans and proposals and programs. When has any of that survived into the actual administration? I’m talking past the Congress, survived any and all court challenges, etc.

No, life, as it is, will continue regardless of the outcome November 4. The country will continue. The strength of this place is not in a white-stone building in D.C. It resides in apartments and houses, factories and farms, over the road and in the subway cars. It’s you, me, the guy over there, the lady down the street. It’s family, friends, neighbors, and complete strangers taking a moment every now and then to do something for someone else, not in hope of reward or recognition, but because it needed doing.

Remember that, and whatever else is thrown our way will wilt at our strength.

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14 thoughts on “About Last Night…

  1. maryosmanski

    I was talking to parents last night. Sooner or later I will post an account in my topic of the rude parent. So what did you watch instead of the debates, and what did you learn?

    Reply
    1. autojim Post author

      Oof. Rude parents. Lemme guess: it had something to do with the recent labor issues in your district. šŸ˜¦ I watched… “Factory Made” on National Geographic Channel, and I got to see plywood being made in far more detail than I’d seen before. Whirly spinny bits with sharp knives. There was some other stuff, too, including currency, but the part that made me stop the other stuff I was doing (I’m packing up Stuff for my move) and watch was the plywood segment. I also learned that the producers of that show have decided to replace most of host Marshall Brain’s voice-over with the guy who used to do the narration on “How It’s Made”. I don’t know what Marshall did to offend them so, but it was a little weird. And today, I learned that the technician who supposedly hooked up my new apartment’s phone line did nothing of the sort at the outside interface box, so I’m paying for a phone line I can’t use. Phone company said they’d get to it by Tuesday… idiots.

      Reply
  2. neutronjockey

    I’ve been stressing (still) over the urban decay of Detroit. That’s what I do. It’s fascinating. Yet…weird…

    Reply
    1. autojim Post author

      There are a variety of reasons why I don’t live downtown. One of them is proximity to work. Another (big one) is the city’s income tax. There are actually some interesting things going on in the city. Brooming Mayor McThug was a step in the right direction (now they need to broom his mama from Congress — he learned his behavior from someone, 3 guesses who). The voters there also need to broom about half of the City Council who are at best useless and usually a detriment to the city. But… the new casinos are nice, and the Book-Cadillac Hotel reopens Monday after almost $300 million in renovations/restoration/resurrection. Part hotel, part condos. Looks amazing.

      Reply
  3. shaenon

    Mark my words: doesn’t matter which candidate wins the election. I thought that once. In 2000. Something happened since then to change my mind, can’t imagine what.

    Reply
    1. autojim Post author

      Al would’ve screwed up something — either the same something or something else. Given that he’s decided that the way I make my living (I design car parts and systems, currently working on hybrid powertrain systems), indeed, the entire industry I work in, should be eliminated, I shudder to think just how bad SE Michigan’s economy would be now after 8 years of his destroy-all-private-automobiles agenda. What amazes me is a) Gore got the UAW endorsement even though he’d promised to eliminate their jobs, and b) Obama picked DETROIT of all places to trot out Al and receive his endorsement. The former told me the UAW leadership doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what the candidate says, just that he or she has a “D” after his name on the ballot. The latter just defies all logic. Besides the environmental angle, there’s a certain socialist bend to the no-private-automobiles agenda. If we’re all riding government-provided public transportation on government-set routes at government-set schedules, well, the government then has a pretty good idea (and pretty good control) of our movements, don’t they?

      Reply
      1. shaenon

        Huh? Nobody is planning to eliminate private cars. Improving public transportation doesn’t eliminate cars. Developing fuel-saving, pollution-cutting technologies before the Japanese beat us to it (again) doesn’t eliminate cars either. Maybe Gore got the UAW’s endorsement because his platform wasn’t remotely close to what you think it was. Sure, Gore would have screwed up something–every president screws up something–but I find it very hard to believe he would have screwed up as many things as spectacularly as Bush has done. As to why I’m watching the debates…You could have gotten that information about how plywood is made by reading a book or a website. It probably would’ve taken less time, too. Do you feel that you got something extra by actually seeing the plywood, watching those sharp knives go around, hearing the whirr of machinery? Something that will stick with you longer than–heck, let’s try Wikipedia–“Plywood is a type of engineered board made from thin sheets of wood , called plies or veneers. The layers are glued together, each with its grain at right angles to adjacent layers for greater strength”? That’s why, in addition to reading up on the presidential race, I’m watching the debates. I’ve learned a lot, believe me.

      2. autojim Post author

        Al Gore declared the private automobile the single largest threat to national security (read “Earth in the Balance” — it’s in there). He’s spoken many, many times of eliminating the internal combustion engine (well, there goes the Gulfstream G5 5-passenger private jet he rides around in spewing virtually the same CO2 as a commercial airliner with 150 on board — jet engines are internal combustion, too). As for watching the debates to learn something about the candidates? Okay, you can learn that they’re lying. How can you tell? Their lips are moving and words are coming out of their mouths. They’re *politicians*. You can’t believe a word they say. Even better, Obama and Biden are *lawyer politicians*, and McCain and Palin are *C-student politicians*. All four of the people at the top of the ticket have made a living feeding at the public trough for most of their adult lives. Their number one motivation is keeping the taxpayer-paid buffet open. ‘Cause, you know, if they lost, they’d have to fall back on their Senate (or Governor) gigs, the fat pensions, the free healthcare for life, etc. I’d rather watch spinny knives make plywood. At the end of the spinny-knife process, you have something you can build with. At the end of the political debate, you have something you might be able to transform into fertilizer one day, but first you have to shovel an awful lot of shit. I’ve got enough going on in my life right now without inviting more into my home via this year’s political crapfest. Between the move, the divorce, the personal financial implications of both of the preceding, and a job I don’t necessarily dislike in and of itself except for working for a guy I can’t trust to display the same personality from one minute to the next, let alone actually do what he’s supposed to do as a manager, I’m crapped-out. Whichever politician is elected in a month, the net impact is about the same at the Crider level. If Obama is elected, the economy won’t suddenly turn into a profit-making utopia, the jihadists won’t parade in the streets of their cities waving US flags and chanting “Long Live America”, a mini-ice-age won’t reverse climate change. Same if McCain is elected. The inertia of the nation, indeed the world, is so great that we won’t really see significant change for months, if not years. That’s assuming the plans and promises of the winning candidate don’t evaporate into the aether about 3 nanoseconds after the last polls close November 4th the way most campaign promises do. Nope, the net effect here at Casa del Crider will be the same regardless.

  4. fakefrenchie

    True, the candidates are, like smallpox and the plague, similar. But, just like the symptoms of the two diseases are different, the effects of the two Presidencies will be different. I prefer the left-leaning effects of Obama, over the right-leaning effects of McCain, especially since he adopted Ms. Perky. But then, I voted for Kucinich in the primaries. However, as you know, I’m a lefty European type which a penchant for socialism. šŸ˜‰

    Reply
  5. herbertmcd

    It’s ok to be cynical about the people that end up “leading” our country, and it’s ok to have personal thoughts about one candidate or another’s past rhetoric or agendas, but declaring it all a crapfest or useless or pointless or whatever other fifty-cent word you want to use is actually more idiotic than watching the debates. Not everyone is stupid or naive enough to believe every word that comes out of a candidate’s mouth when engaged in a televised event, but watching those things sure helps one decide if those candidates are at the very very least being consistent. It is not pointless to vote. It is not pointless to look for issues that are important to you (or your family) and vote based on a campaign promise. It is not pointless to vote the exact opposite of whatever color your home state is classified just to feel that you are part of the process. It is not pointless to watch every single item of media on every single candidate for every single office or issue that pertains to your life. What you choose to do with that information is up to you. I’ll even use your very point: You were aware of plywood and it’s many uses before you watched that show on how it’s manufactured. I’ll even bet that you have something or have had something made from plywood. Just because you didn’t know exactly how it was made didn’t mean that you were stupid for getting that thing made from it. Just because you know exactly how it’s made now doesn’t mean you are somehow better qualified to own something made from it. It just means that you have chosen to educate yourself to a level of your own personal satisfaction about plywood and can now make choices for your life based on this newly acquired knowledge. Oh hey, watching any bit of information, staged or not, about Presidential candidates might give one that little bit of insight to make a choice that they feel is right for them. As you said, the country/world will keep on going, and it’s those little choices we make to help out society that keep it moving, but if you don’t take part in society, then you don’t really have a right to say shit about how it’s all going. I’m pretty sure you’ll still vote,but that’s your business. But your cynical view on things is pathetic. I know life is kicking you in the nuts a bit, but if you think that folks who want as much information as possible on who the next President of our country is going to be is a waste of time, well then…jesus, that’s fucking sad. Your personal issues with lawyers, Al Gore, politicians who either do or don’t vote according to the UAW’s wishes is one thing, but that’s not the scope of the country. What about women’s right to make their own choices about their own bodies? What about making sure social programs are not taken advantage of and people are still trying to help themselves? What about the crap for education my son is going to get unless I can afford to send him to a private school? What about shitty roads and NO public transportation? What about toxic waste and acid rain? What about endangered species? What about tax cuts for the wealthy and handouts for the poor and the middle class taking it up the ass from both sides? Any of that matter to you? You want to do something nice for someone because it needs to be done? Pay attention to more than the media outlets your comfortable with and vote based on what you HOPE will happen, instead of what you “know” will not.

    Reply
    1. autojim Post author

      Part 1 (exceeded LJ’s reply length): There is ample evidence that the half-life of a campaign promise — even a major platform plank — is about 3 nanoseconds after the polls close. To illustrate, let’s look at a little history on one major hot-button issue. In 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2004, we have elected Presidents whose platform, either personal, party, or both, called for the overturn of Roe v Wade. Roe v Wade is still in place. Each of those presidents have placed justices on the Supreme Court, amid much hue-and-cry that each would tilt the balance of the Court and overturn Roe v Wade, yet Roe v Wade is still in place and there isn’t a serious challenge (read: likely to survive all the way to the Supreme Court) to it on the horizon. It’s political kryptonite: while the GOP party platform consistently calls for its overturn, there isn’t a national-level politician worth his/her pension that’ll touch it with a 10-meter cattle prod. The plank is trotted out during election season, ads are run on both sides about it, and then the Wednesday after election day, it’s put back in the woodpile until either next election or if a Supreme Court justice retires or dies. Embryonic stem cell research (or, more correctly, federal funding of same) is becoming a similar issue, with folks lining up on either side almost to a person the same way they line up on abortion. As it happens, I think the only involvement the government should have in medical procedures is making sure the doctors performing them are suitably educated, trained, tested, and licensed to practice medicine safely. Religious/political issues have zero place in medicine: the physician is a healer, and should be unfettered by restrictions on who he/she heals. This includes reproductive rights. This includes stem cell research. I watched some of last night’s “debate” between Obama, McCain, Brokaw, and a group of voters. I was not really impressed by either candidate, who mostly took pot-shots at each other rather than articulate what they would do. When you have X seconds to respond to a question and use 0.75X of those seconds to snipe at the other guy, that doesn’t leave much for explanation of your plans. For the record, I disagree fervently with the UAW on a good many issues. It is, after all, an organization that has endorsed candidates who had pledged to shut down the very industry that created and feeds the UAW to this day. What that told me is the UAW leadership (who live in Grosse Pointe next to the auto company execs and send their kids to the same schools as those execs, and haven’t worked a shift on the line in 20 years while living large on the workers’ union dues) is more concerned with blindly endorsing a Democrat than actually looking at what the candidate says and does. As far as tax cuts for the middle class? The last Democratic President set the tax code we’re currently operating under. According to that code, I’m not “middle class” despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. No, I’m “wealthy” and should be punished by being put in a tax bracket that ensures that more than 40% of my income disappears into the government maw. Yeah, that pisses me off, still. (end Part 1. Part 2 to follow)

      Reply
    2. autojim Post author

      (Part 2) Placing hope in a politician? Sorry, they’re gonna have to earn it. Obama is trying — he’s got the young, fresh face, he’s got a lot of ideas (which he’s finally starting to articulate instead of just saying “Change” every other sentence), but… he’s a politician. If they’re not kissing babies, they’re stealing their lollipops. And, like most of the people the DNC runs, he’s a lawyer. Lawyers know law. They don’t know the subject matter of the laws in any great detail, they just know the process of making laws. If he gets the gig, he’ll have to do more than he’s done in the Senate so far (coattailing on others’ bills isn’t leading, it’s following) to get me hopeful. McCain, as has been discussed elsewhere, seems like he’s *trying* to lose now: first the catering to the religious whackjobs on the far right to sew up the nomination (this includes bringing Rove and Gramm into the campaign), the selection of Palin (WHO? Even Dan Quayle was a US Senator!) as running mate, the announced pullout from Michigan (and I’d think this even if I didn’t live here), and the recent proposal to severely cut Medicare/Medicaid that was floated in *FLORIDA*, where a HUGE chunk of the population depend on Medicare… Education: that has generally been a states issue rather than a national one, although I do want to see that the counter-productive No Child Left Behind is either substantially altered into something useful (and funded!) or whacked. Pollution: The only industry more regulated than the one I work in is the nuclear (NU-cle-ar, not NOOK-u-lar) power industry as far as waste/pollution management goes. We’re at the blood-from-a-turnip stage on vehicle emissions improvements, but the regs (both USEPA, CARB, and the EU) keep squeezing that poor root vegetable. We’re at a point now where, aside from oxygen content, the exhaust of just about any car made since 1990 and maintained properly by the owner is cleaner of NMOG, NOx, and CO than the ambient air in most major metro areas. Animal flatulence produces more greenhouse gas than the US vehicle fleet (interesting side effect to this fact is some aggressive vegans are suggesting if we stop using animal products, this will improve). One last thing: Transportation. I’m all for fixing the roads. And if there’s a public transportation system that gets me from where I am to where I want to be at the time I want to be there, I’ll use it. Any time I go into a big city with a solid subway/train/bus system (NYC, Toronto, Chicago are the main ones I’ve visited relatively recently), the car is usually parked until it’s time to go, and I use the mass transit system. Even in downtown Detroit, I’ll park in a convienent place and ride the People Mover if I’m going someplace on its route. Anywhere else? Not so much: the place I live for another 4 days doesn’t participate in the metro area bus system. The place I’m moving to does, but I’ve figured out the route and the timing and it’ll be cheaper and quicker to drive (it’ll be even cheaper to ride my bicycle on nice days, which I fully intend to do) the 5 miles to the office than ride 3 busses that start out with going *away* from the office 4-5 miles. Now that I’ve spent my lunch hour writing, I’ll get back to designing hybrid vehicle powertrains for the afternoon…

      Reply
      1. herbertmcd

        Ok, so you broke down each of those things I brought up at the end, but I think you missed my point. I was bringing up some of the things that folks look for in an election year from their prospective leaders. I wasn’t actually asking what your thoughts were on each of those issues (or for a history lesson, thank you.). My main objection to your opinion (and I’m aware it is YOUR forum and also aware that you are, of course, entitled to your opinion) was your “I’m smart and I think those who watch the debates are not.” tone. You are smart…no denying it. You are actually correct that the candidates are, mostly, full of hot air and bullshit (more greenhouse gases for the vegans to protest), but you inferred that the folks who watch debates are too stupid to figure that out or know it going in. I would say to you that anyone who does actually watch the debates watches with a grain of salt, knowing full-well that the two people debating are professional bullshitters who basically say what they hope their current audience wants to hear. But like I said, it’s a chance for some of us to see how consistent that bullshit is, and maybe even give a ray of hope. You may not want to place hope on a politician, but as a father, I MUST do it. I MUST hope that someone else out there gives a rat’s ass about the future of this country and world enough to do something about it, and to tell what that plan is, whether executed or not. I MUST hope that my tiny voice will get heard on some level so that I can help keep some goodness to the place. Cynicism is fine and I understand why you feel that way, but I don’t have the time or energy to devote to being a cynic. I’d rather try to push positively forward for my family’s sake. It’s not hippyish or naive to feel this way. It’s just hopeful. Everyone gets burned, but it’s how you react to that that defines your character. Do you never trust anyone again and just be “alone” in whatever capacity that may be, or do you proceed with caution, willing to trust again but a little wiser from the lessons? It’s not just politics, man. It’s life. Ask someone like Jill McCartney if she works hard for a candidate solely because of the paycheck or because she believes she’s making a difference. I’d be interested to see what she says, but I’d bet it’s the latter. Politics is tricky territory within family discourse, so please understand that I view this as discussion, not personal attack. I’m pretty sure we will always disagree on certain things, but the passion behind my views does not mean I am angry or whatever. Just enthusiastic.

      2. autojim Post author

        Ahh, see, nothing of the kind was *implied* by my post. You *inferred* it. There’s a big difference (and I can’t remember if it was Ms. Tucker in 4th grade or Sandra Smith in 10th/11th grade who said that. Maybe both). What you’ll discover is that I don’t waste time with dancing around stuff like this — I pretty much say what’s on my mind, no hidden meanings or agendas. It’s one of the main reasons I have no desire to be “management” — too much tap-dancing around issues to avoid offending someone whose ass you should be kissing, not enough actually getting stuff done. (For the record, I’m not, nor have I ever been, an UAW member. I’ve been salaried my entire career, and to the UAW, I am “management” even though I’ve never managed anyone and like it that way. Besides, if I went UAW, I’d have at least two very pissed off grandparental ghosts making a mess of my life.) You want to place hope somewhere, Dave? Place it in yourself. Place it in your wife and your son. Place it in your family and friends who love and care for you all. Make your own luck. If there was a Vegas line on likelihood of success, I’d put my money on my brother over anyone running or holding public office and be absolutely certain to come out a winner. Don’t look to The Government as a savior, ’cause they’re really, *really* bad at it — and there’s way too much history to prove that. The elected part just wants to stay in office. The career part just wants to make it to their pension. Sure, there are idealists in both sides, but they don’t run the show.

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