Late Saturday Night Musings

If you’re not up for a ramble, please move along, there’s nothing to see. If, on the other hand, you don’t mind diving into my head for a bit, come on in. The water’s fine.

The only thing that people seem to be talking about still is Obama’s great gaffe. He’s an elitist, his campaign is over. Alas, all of us who have supported Obama have erred in our judgment, and it is now time for us to repent.

Or to take great umbrage and fight back.

For the most part, I’m done with it already. The situation is going to ultimately do what it’s going to do. The media’s going to report on it as they please. John McCain and Hillary Clinton are going to say what they will, and Obama’s going to try and turn what was a turd sandwich into a peppercorn encrusted filet mignon with fresh sprigs of asparagus, bleu cheese mashers (Seriously, when did restaurants decide that mashed potatoes was no longer an acceptable term for… well… mashed potatoes), with a nice vintage bottle of wine.

I have my own ideas on how this is going to play out, but then, what’s the point in guessing anymore? To be totally honest, I thought he was sunk after the whole Jeremiah Wright storm hit full force, and miraculously he seemed to rebound from that pretty well.

As I’ve written, and my colleagues have written, and many who have come to Obama’s defense have written, gaffe or not, poorly worded or not, misdirected or not, there is truth to what Obama has said, and had everyone been doing their jobs (with the exception of conservatives whom it would be nice if they kindly took a nap for a bit), the crux of the message would at least be reported as something to debate and kick around your head as opposed to how it actually was reported.

“ZOMG!!!11!!! OBAMA DID ZE GAFFES11111oopscapslockdoesn’teffectthenumberkeys!!!!!!”

I don’t know, it all seems kind of silly to me. And again, here comes the mass condemnation of the media, which never seems to happen in unison. You’ll find the Clinton supporters particularly quiet on this topic, this after they have spent much of the time demonizing the press for treating their own candidate poorly. I get it; you get invested in a political campaign, and it becomes an us vs. them scenario, regardless of who is the “us” and who is the “them”. You like the media so long as it is reporting sunshine and daisies about your candidate and throwing fecal storms at the competition, and you hate them when the order is reversed.

At the same time, I imagine the right is quiet, and if they aren’t, they’re likely to start screaming that the media is outrageously pro-Obama because they haven’t actually started calling for Obama’s public execution yet.

Meanwhile, everyone on Obama’s side is a little miffed because the way this has been reported was sans any measure of objectivity. This was billed as a gaffe long before anyone has had the opportunity to actually decide if it was or not. I mean, what do the actual Pennsylvanians have to say about Obama’s remarks?

That is what strikes me as particularly irresponsible. We haven’t seen a single meaningful polling number in the wake of this controversy, and yet all of a sudden it’s a major, potentially fatal, gaffe? Really? Why? Because Michelle Malkin’s offended? If you’re measuring how offensive something is, I would not suggest you use the Right Wing chattering class as a realistic measure. In case you haven’t picked up on this, their entire job, their entire reason for living, is to show outrage at anything any Democratic says unless that Democrat is actively shilling for a Republican (a la Zell Miller or the pseudo Democrat Joe Lieberman).

These folks have no desire to actually engage in real debate, or learn about the people they share this country with. They don’t really care about insulting those people outside their constituency (ahem… Does the term “Massachusetts Liberal,” or “Taxachusetts” ring a bell? Yes, that’s right, that’s our current president actually offending an entire state within the country he presides over), and they are great at insulting someone that doesn’t fit within their ideology. They care about winning, and they have found a formula that works–it’s called not giving a damn about moving forward in any meaningful fashion, but instead appealing to the lowest common denominator by any means necessary.

I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. The blog, Army of Dog, is one of the right wing blogs that linked here, rich with snark. I am a part of the mass legion of Obamanoids (A legion in which I have a lot of company, a few million at the least, so at least I won’t be lonely in my deluded state) that constantly harps about how people just don’t get the nuance of Obama’s argument.

Actually, that’s a pretty good assessment. But the reason why I bring that up, is that there’s actually a very interesting exercise in the post that I believe serves as a great springboard into a deeper discussion:

Let’s have a little thought experiment, shall we? Say, for example, that John McCain was speaking to a group of rich, white businessmen in a private mansion right here in Dallas, Texas. As he was giving his remarks to the assembled party he began to address the struggles that the Republican Party will have in trying to woo the black vote, and he said the following:

You go into some of these urban centers in New York or D.C., and like a lot of major cities on the East Coast, the poverty has been endemic now for 40 years and nothing’s really changed for them. And they fell through the Carter Administration, the Reagan Administration, the Clinton administration, and both of the Bush administrations, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to gangs or basketball or hip-hop, class envy aimed at white people or anti-Republican sentiment or anti-American sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

I’m going to bet my entire net worth that McCain, or any other Republican for that matter, would not get the benefit of the doubt from the left. He would be decried as a rich, white racist who believes that black people are too stupid to do what’s in their own best interest, and we should all be understanding because their desperate situation and their inferior intellect make them unable to see the wisdom of voting Republican.

Now, lest I not let it go unnoticed, I think McCain would get the benefit of the doubt because, well, the media just has this huge crush on the guy. He’s gotten away with plenty of stuff with nary a tick among the media. Let’s remember, this is a guy who, over the course of the past month, has committed a plethora of gaffes on Iraq which at least hint at the lack of the most rudimentary understanding at what’s going on there with not even a quarter of the bad press that both Hillary and Obama have received as a result of the Wright controversy and the Bosnia controversy.

And to put things in perspective, while both Wright and Bosnia raise a great deal of questions in both Democratic candidates that needed answering, neither controversy was even in the same zip code as McCain’s Iraq goofs in regards to actually serving as president. Jeremiah Wright’s not going to launch a major military campaign against Indiana, and Clinton’s Bosnia fib is not going to result in the death of four thousand Americans.

So yeah, the media just might give McCain a pass on a quote like the hypothetical reproduced above. And you know what? I probably would too. Probably because I’ve made similar arguments myself. To outright start maligning McCain for the same thing would make me a hypocrite because, while I might disagree with how it is delivered, there are a lot of things I agree with.

And I agree with them from some first hand experience. I’ve grown up in and around areas of depressed economic situations. I’ve grown up around inner city gangs. Hell, Stockton, the city I grew up in, there’s not much else to do there but join a gang, and so I’m pretty familiar with a lot of the causal factors behind it. I’ve talked to more than a few rappers who mix their own demos with blank cassettes they lifted at the store and Casios keyboards they got for Christmas one year, and I’ve talked to dudes who put everything they had in every pick up game they could find, and a lot of them told me about dreams of just getting out of the dump that was Stockton.

So, if McCain were to say something like that, I would probably have the same reaction a lot of folks are having towards Obama’s remarks; everything he says is pretty much dead on, he was just kind of stupid for actually saying it the way he did and to the people he said it to.

Hell, I would probably have a little more respect for McCain had he said something like that. In fact, while it’s not exact, there is a quote floating out there that runs analogous to what we’re talking about here (h/t Oliver Willis):

“It’s the influx of illegals into places where they’ve never seen a Hispanic influence before,” McCain told me. “You probably see more emotion in Iowa than you do in Arizona on this issue. I was in a town in Iowa, and twenty years ago there were no Hispanics in the town. Then a meatpacking facility was opened up. Now twenty per cent of their population is Hispanic. There were senior citizens there who were–’concerned’ is not the word. They see this as an assault on their culture, what they view as an impact on what have been their traditions in Iowa, in the small towns in Iowa. So you get questions like ‘Why do I have to punch 1 for English?’ ‘Why can’t they speak English?’ It’s become larger than just the fact that we need to enforce our borders.”

In defense of Obama, a lot of folks are pushing this statement out there, and asking where is the media’s outrage here, and I want to be part of that crowd, but I can’t… Because he’s actually right here. Indeed, my buddy Mark not long ago did some analysis that put some number crunching validation to the quote. He’s also apparently having a daughter soon, so get over there and help him pick a middle name for her, and congratulate him too.

Back on topic.

I can’t really get on McCain for saying something I think is pretty much on the money, and in fact, I’ve shown respect for him in the past on other issues like his one time principled stance against torture. I gave him his due there, and in the midst of the immigration debate, I gave him his due there as well. That he turned his back on the torture stance, now that is something that I’m not going to take nicely.

See? I can be a pretty reasonable guy.

And that’s our weakness, or at least my weakness. I’m not going to jump on someone for everything regardless of if I agree with it, or think it requires more debate just because they are on the other side and should lose. That’s not really my style. If I’m going to gun for you, you’re going to see me coming, and it’s going to be on the issues. I’m going to take it to McCain right up to election day this November, and it’s not going to be on word parsing or mock indignation, it’s going to be on his horrid stance on the economy, on his flip flop on torture, on his neoconservative ideology, and his amazing lack of knowledge on foreign policy. I’m not going to try and disparage his military service (Though, point of interest, the one person I did know attack McCain on his military service was, believe it or not, a retired Navy guy I used to work with, Republican, who said that he believed McCain should have been executed for treason for talking while under the duress of torture).

I’m not that guy. Just like, as much as I may be anti-Hillary from time to time, I’ve always had a conscience that I’ve listened to when I’ve written against her. I can’t say my political/moral barometer is always going to point me in the right direction, I can’t say that I’ll always be decent because I’m human and I err like everyone.

But that’s just me, and to be honest, I want to see more discussions like what Obama and McCain started. That would be the biggest and most beneficial change to our political culture we could ever ask for.

I mean, look at where we are now, the cycle is nauseatingly familiar. Candidates start running, they promise as big a pony as they can without sounding like a moron, and they tell us what great little citizens we are just for being us.

We are all unique and beautiful snowflakes who deserve ice cream and lollipops. So we vote for whomever promises the biggest pony, and makes us feel the absolute best about ourselves. Then they get in office, and there’s no pony, and eventually the feel good buzz goes away and we have to go back to our shitty lives.


Four years later, the ponies come out, and we all get big old sparklies in our eyes, except for those who get so jaded that they stop voting. And no, those who stop voting aren’t noble, and they aren’t helping either.

They’re just ceding away what little power they had to begin with. So life gets shittier, and politicians never learn that maybe they should sell something more than pretty ponies and self esteem boosts we could get by dropping twenty bucks at the Self Help section of the local book store.

McCain calls himself the Straight Talk Express because of all the Straight Talk. But he’s off the mark. His Straight Talk has essentially turned into a way of polishing up crappy policies that he has essentially been pigeon-holed into adopting. Sure, it’s kinda brave trying to tell that has soured on the Iraq War that we still need to be there, but that doesn’t all of a sudden mean that we should actually stay there. And the Straight Talk is uncommonly crooked when it comes to things like torture, or his affiliation with lobbyists.

But what I’m getting at is that I want to be challenged, and I want other people to be challenged. THAT’S the kind of straight talk that I want. I don’t want to be told that we’re going to keep on being at war even though it’s not a really good idea, and most of us don’t want to do it, but we are anyway because we don’t have a choice. I want to start breaking down barriers. I want to actually see something closer to a bridge than a big honking brick wall between me and say the NASCAR people that I never vote with, hardly understand, and really don’t get along with. I want perceptions to be questioned, and new ideas introduced to those people who are least likely to accept them because that’s the only way we’re going to get anywhere with this mess.

And here’s why.

As many of you know, I have two daughters. They’re pretty much gorgeous, everyone says so; they look like two cute little dolls, except, the second doll stinks periodically because she’s still in diapers but that’s neither here nor there. What gets me is that they’re also half Chinese.

The oldest is going to turn four here very soon which means that she’ll be coming of age in the year 2024 (HOLY CRAP!!!!! 2024?!?!?!!?!?!! Am I that friggin’ old?!?!?!!? JEBUS! I’ll be in my FORTIES!!!!!! GOOD CRAPOLA!… Oh… just my forties… Well, I guess that’s not too bad… whew… sorry folks, that just seemed like a really big number for me… almost had a grabber). And, you know, that’s just a terribly late year in our history for my daughters to have to meet the real world with both sexist and racist stigmas set against them.

In fact, I’d kinda like them to see the adult world without any kind of stigma from their race, gender, age, religion, or any of that stuff. I’d really kinda like them to be judged for who they are while at the same time enjoy the freedom to still be a part of the culture that they came from. Granted, there’s not a lot of traditional Chinese stuff in their day to day lives beyond some weird candies and massive quantities of rice, but damn it all, if they really want to get immersed in their heritage, that’d be pretty cool, and I would like to see them grow up in the kind of world that doesn’t just allow that, but respects and embraces that.

But somehow, I’m not seeing it. Not on the path that we’re on. Obama and McCain, who have both said it in their own ways, are both right. White people get threatened. Things happen and they look for scapegoats, and multiculturalism in this country seems to be the stock villain these days.

And up until recently, when a certain politician who shall remain unnamed at this point challenged my world view, I didn’t really put forth a whole lot of effort into understanding it. Even though I’ve read up on the phenomenon when it arrives everywhere else.

The other night my wife calls me on the phone (Don’t worry, I’m going to bring it all back), and she tells me she’s creeped out. When asked why, she tells me that it was all because she was reading about Jonestown, and the kool aid, and the mass suicide.

We talked about it for a little bit, and you know, it all ends up being the same thing over and over again. The dots don’t connect because it’s a broad pattern. The people look different, the actions are different, but the basic mechanism, I think, is the same.

When we lack these basic social needs like security, respect, dignity, etc., we will fill that emptiness with whatever’s available, even if what’s available has us put on red or blue and deal drugs and shoot at folks wearing the opposing color, or it has us drink poisoned kool aid, or it has us strap a bomb to our chest and walk into a store filled with people, or it has us don white sheets and burn crosses.

But these are extremes, and the phenomenon does not only happen in the extreme, nor does it happen only as a reaction. It can be passed on from one generation to the next and often is, and the world around us will sometimes challenge us to challenge ourselves.

But the point that I’m getting at is that these needs exist, and unfortunately, there are so many boundaries established to prevent these needs being filled in a healthful way by other parts of the society. And we insist on those barriers being maintained.

Walls that block us off from receiving the kind of attention that we need to survive as social creatures.

Back in the eighties, when I cared more about Saturday morning cartoons, Ronald Reagan once said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” People will disagree with how much effect those words had, and their speaker, but that wall did eventually come tumbling down.

In my way of thinking, we now need a leader, or leaders, who is willing to look at the many walls that bind us, and demand that they, too, be torn down.

If you read this whole thing, thanks for sharing some late night time with me, have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you all when I go back to normal writing late Sunday night.

(edited by DrGail)

3 Responses to “Late Saturday Night Musings”

  1. Pug says:

    It is strange that the flag waving right-wingers who allegedly love America so much seem to hate about half the people who live here.

  2. wow… good point

  3. Kathy says:

    FanDAMNtastic post, Kyle. Awesome.


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