Sunday, March 02, 2008

I Hear the Chariots Comin'...

It's the night before Primary Eve.

We're gettin' ready here in Ohio.

All I'm gonna say is, if you want real change, pick the candidate who is not a white man. (Hint: at the end of the day, all the other candidates, including the one with girly parts, are, politically, white men.)

However you decide, be sure to set the mood with this great YouTube clip featuring perhaps my favorite cut from Tim O'Brien's Cornbread Nation release of a couple years ago. It features Tim, members of his tour band, and NewGrassers Pat Flynn (guitar) and John Cowan (vocals). And yep, that's Casey Driessen, pied piper of my fiddle soul.

Think January 2009....


At March 03, 2008 8:47 AM, Blogger Shameless Agitator said...

Since 1981 there has been either a Bush or a Clinton in the White House as president or vice-president. The United States is not a monarchy. It IS time for change.

Yes We Can

We are the ones we've been waiting for

At March 03, 2008 9:58 AM, Blogger Ipsissimus said...

As you know, I voted for Hillary. I'm not much of a bandwagon person - I studied her credentials years ago, wondered with her experience and honors why she wasn't president instead of Bill. Nothing has come up to change my mind since those days. And I think her health care plan makes more sense - though essentially the two have incredibly similar policies and platforms. But I am thrilled that we finally have two golden candidates! I think either one will be fantastic in the white house. It should be quite an election year!

At March 03, 2008 11:20 AM, Blogger Blueberry said...

We are biting our nails down here in Texas. It's hard to really gauge the rest of the state from our skewed perspective. Hope the results don't bring a surprise tomorrow (being the Hopemonger, here). Both teams were out in force yesterday.

At March 03, 2008 12:45 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

I've only got a day left and I still haven't decided. Obama is a good speaker, I'll give him that. I think his charisma could help in foreign relations. But Hillary is tough (in a good way) and I don't think she's anyone's patsy. Still, I doubt either of them can accomplish what they say. Any form of universal health care is going to require additional funding Americans just don't want to pay for. Other industrialized nations long ago realized that if you want universal health care it comes with a higher tax rate. Proposing increased taxes in the US is suicide. Americans think that somehow you can lower taxes but provide more services. And renegotiating NAFTA won't be easy either. We think our consumer market gives us all the cards but Canada is our largest supplier of oil, at a preferred rate. They could easily respond to any pressure by raising the price of oil exports. Regardless of who the nominee is, they and the American people will find out that there's a big difference between talk and hope and political reality. I guess I have to pick someone though. Anyone up for a game of one potato, two potato?

At March 03, 2008 3:17 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Well, the first thing I must say is YES, isn't it GREAT that we have TWO COMPETENT CHOICES. This alone is reason to celebrate.

Second, did anyone watch the video? Ok. Just checking.

Anyway, there are indeed lots of good things on both sides. I feel that Obama is risky in terms of experience, but I can tell you in my business, potential says worlds. I also really like the fact that he owes fewer favors than any other candidate on either slate.

One thing is for sure. The next POTUS is going to have one hell of a mess on his or her hands, and if that person isn't firm enough or smart enough to put the right people in the right jobs, we're all screwed again.

Thanks for the chimes!

At March 03, 2008 5:22 PM, Blogger Ipsissimus said...

Mando, you are soooo right. Maybe the question is, who do we hate enough to stick in the mess we call the White House! Because the next president is going to get all the blame and none of the credit for the mess in Iraq and the economy and the health care crisis as well as anything else that can be thrown at them. We need a democrat to stop the insanity, but I fear it'll only be for 4 years because all the blame left to be laid.

At March 03, 2008 6:35 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

This is true. The enormity of the mess the current Administration has created is, frankly, nearly unforgivable. But since I didn't do enough to stop the insanity myself, or to stop the Administration from taking such advantage of me and people like me, I'll just say, nearly unforgiveable.

And to be honest, I guess that's why I see inexperience as a relative strength in Obama. He doesn't have the relationships, or the baggage, that all the other candidates do. He doesn't have a trailing spouse who was just recently busy cutting sweet deals in the Middle East. No matter what Hillary does to distance herself or separate herself from her husband's presidency in Americans eyes, we simply don't know the degree to which his previous office or his work since leaving office will affect her ability to enact foreign policy. This is a case where it might be to the nation's advantage to have someone who has to build some relationships from scratch. I know it may sound crazy, but its true.

Like any job, the Presidency has a lot of factors and qualifications and it's about being the right candidate at the right time. Do I fear it might be a Jimmy Carter situation? Maybe, a little. But unless Hillary opens her books and says, "Look, no foreign investments in this here campaign!" I'll stick with the kid from the hood.

At March 03, 2008 6:45 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

One more point I forgot to make is that the next president needs one other ingredient to be successful. And that is the participation of the people who hire him or her. We can't continue to be a nation of sheep and expect "the boss" to fix everything. We have to hold Congress to a higher standard and to the best job we can as taxpayers to make all voices heard on matters so that decision makers can be fair and balanced. It's not just leadership that is key to this nation's survival. It's participation. And we can all do something about that, whether we're in line at the grocery store or on the bus or in line at the post office or waiting for the PTO meeting to start. That's where the conversation starts. We have to quit behaving like we're being babysat and act like the adults our parents raised us to be, and do something.

At March 04, 2008 5:26 AM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

It boggles my mind that anybody can see potential in Obama, or Hillary. People keep saying this time is so "historic." Bull.

Black man, white woman. They are both politicians. That alone should clue people in to just how little "hope" there is for change.

And, try as they might if one of them gets elected, they won't really "change" anything much. It's all a big ruse - a necessary ruse, but a ruse nonetheless.

And yeah, I think I've decided not to vote for president. I'll vote for the local issues because that is where a vote can really make a difference.

However, the national race is just like choosing your favorite optical illusion. It's meaningless. That every American is so swayed by Obama is proof-positive that every American is super-swayed by image.

If you took the stuff Obama is spouting off about, and put his exact personality in an old white guy with gray hair, a pot belly, and a lisp, NOBODY would be excited about voting for him. He could be taking the exact same stance as Obama is, and have the exact same personality, but he would be out of this race.

This is due to two big factors. The first is that Americans are dying for a change and think that "feeling good" about a candidate equates to that candidate having the capacity to actually change things for better in American.

The second is all about the guilt every white person carries around with them when it comes to black Americans. It's unspoken, and we feel guilty even daring to mention it, but it's in every one of us. Somehow, having a black president will alleviate that guilt - at least temporarily.

So yeah, vote and tell yourself that it will "change" things for the better. However, here is what you should expect...

Some stuff will get slightly better in America. Some stuff will get slightly worse. Much of it will stay exactly the same. Why? Because no one president can change this political system of ours. Black, white, woman or man.

A politician is a politician is a politician. It's all about sedating the masses just enough so that they don't realize things will never really "change." It's all about giving them just enough so that they maintain "hope."

Yep, the alternative of not having a vote in America sucks just as well. However, let's stop pretending that one of these days - just once in our lives! - a candidate will somehow break free of the political shackles and make things better for us.

And I'm not being negative or callous or bitter, etc. I'm just calling it like it is. :-)

At March 04, 2008 8:23 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

One night last week in a rare move I turned on the TV, and found a PBS special on Pete Seeger. As I watched and listened to how one man with a banjo influenced two, not one, but TWO critical historical movements in America -- the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement -- I thought, what the hell is wrong today? The answer is, WE are what's wrong today.

I would say that certainly there are many people who feel the way you do, BB, and it's not for lack of trying otherwise. Americans, we, have let politicians run away with the train. I wish I could see the groundswell that we saw back in the 60s where people turned things around. There was critical mass and it made a difference. And that critical mass was galvanized by great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr and Bobby and Jack Kennedy, people who WERE inspirational. Obama is a guy who could have made a killing on Wall Street, but took his Harvard law degree and went back to the hood instead. As a politician it's a miracle he's survived the short time he has.

I've heard plenty of fat and skinny white bald men say what Obama says, Pete Seeger among them. The problem is none of them are saying anything that Americans shouldn't already be thinking or doing about our political system. Americans need to start kicking some butts, beginning with our own.

At March 04, 2008 9:52 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

Well, I wouldn't be too nostalgic for the 60s. Remember, those people who supposedly changed things back then are now the CEO's of companies that abandoned their ideals, rip off the masses, and pad the pockets of politicians to solict favoristism. Those people grew up and found out that having money, belonging to country clubs, and eating lobster every week is a lot nicer than being a poor idealist.

And this is why the system doesn't change. While you're right about us participating in this "democracy," the truth is that almost any of us would exchange our lives for one of privilege and then we wouldn't care about the middle class either. People say they want something better for middle and lower class citizens but this is only while they are part of that group. Why do so many people spend so much on the lottery? Couldn't that money be better spent on community activism or charitable donations? It's because people hold out the hope of striking it rich and then leaving the middle class behind.

We're all guilty of this. Just like we're all guilty of not wanting our taxes to go up but thinking that somehow the government should take care of the elderly, provide universal health care, end poverty, stop illegal immigration, protect our jobs from outsourcing, and provide us a social security check long after we've used up all the money we ever paid into the system.

Americans deserve what they get. We're spoiled and entitled. We have the nerve to ask OPEC to increase oil production to lower prices when for the past 30 years our government sat on their thumbs instead of developing an energy policy and alternative fuel sources. Does anyone reading this really think things are going to get better because of one of these presidential candidates?

Hmm...A couple years ago didn't we have a whole "throw the bums out" election in Congress? Weren't the incoming freshmen supposed to make a huge difference and change "politics as usual" in the Capitol builing? Didn't the Democrats take over control? And what's different? Do lobbyists and big corporations have less power? Has CEO pay come down and become closer to worker pay? Are more people insured today? Are more jobs staying in America? I know, I know. All these things are not under congressional control. But that's the problem. Everyone makes excuses for why they can't really make a difference after promising they'll make a difference. Do you really think Clinton or Obama will be different? Do you learn nothing from history?

My prediction, like that of Boring Best, is that the economy will improve, not because of but in spite of who is president. The reason is because the economy always improves. Home prices will bounce back, the job market will swing back toward employees, and there will be good times again on Wall Street. Whoever the president is will benefit from this and will be seen as a savior. If they get elected to a second term, the cycle will likely turn again and everyone will be angry with them as the economy slides. And so it goes...

At March 04, 2008 11:32 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Well whatever the hell those "kids" from the 60s are doing today, back then they did two things: they brought about civil rights (such that they are), and they got the US out of Vietnam. Both of these movements were long, painful significant struggles. But it got done. And they helped.

I agree, and frankly feel that my point has been all along, that whoever is president is first going to have to come up with a strategy to deal with the current mess, and then get the American people to do something besides give up more income or work into their retirement years. Social change is not everyone's bag, but I'm finally getting pissed off enough that I don't keep my mouth shut. I also still have an opportunity and an obligation to teach my kids that you don't have to just accept things the way they are, that you can speak up and even act when it's the right thing to do. Will it be discouraging when action doesn't result in immediate change or gratification? Sure. But it would be great if they could learn to cultivate an attention span beyond that of other adults, as a recent post on Shameless's blog points out.

There have been 43 presidents in our country's history. There are a whole lot of them who never accomplished anything. Am I saying this is different? Nope. But I am saying that people are pretty goddamn sick and tired of things the way they are. Now, how that translates into progress on any issue is anyone's guess. But if this next president, whether it's McCain, Obama, or Clinton (and let's face it, those are the choices), does not capitalize on that perceived readiness for the American public to act, then there is indeed no hope whatsoever.

As for the comment that "Americans deserve what they get" I certainly agree. I don't think at any point that I've suggested otherwise. We are none of us guiltless. The question is whether and at what point people will get frustrated enough with this culture of fear that's been forced on us to start doing something. I think most people are just at the end of their ropes and either they will continue to cave or, quite seriously, rise up in one form or another, even if it's very slowly starting to say "no" to things.

So yes, change will come. The economy will rebound, eventually. But this time I really don't believe it will be the same. Maybe I'll be wrong, but I hope I'm not.

At March 05, 2008 9:52 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

Mando - This is a good discussion and the type I miss on these blogs but your last comment illustrates my point. You talk about Americans being motivated for change and being sick of things the way they are but then you also say the next president needs to address the current mess "and then get the American people to do something besides give up more income or work into their retirement years."

This is exactly the problem with Americans. We want "change" and "solutions" but WE don't want to change. We don't want to delay retirement and we don't want to pay any more money. Well, what are we supposed to do then? People are living longer than ever. You can't have them continue to retire at the same age but still get government checks for the rest of their lives. The amount they receive often far exceeds the amount they ever paid in so now they are using someone else's benefits. So how do you fix that without either having people work longer or paying more in tax?

I don't claim to have the answers to this question but I'll bet none of the candidates do either. Again, other industrialized countries have figured this out but Americans are not willing to live like our European allies. We'd have to pay more in taxes, drive smaller cars, live more in the city, and have less personal property. In exchange we'd have more health and retirement security, somewhat longer lifespans, and a higher level of happiness based on every major survey. The problem, as I keep reiterating, is that Americans want all those things PLUS big gas guzzling cars, large pieces of property, enough possessions to stuff a garage and we don't want to pay any more money for any of it or lose any entitlements.

I'm as guilty as anyone else of feeling this pull. I'd probably be happier living somewhere else or doing something else but I'm afraid of making less money. Personally I don't spend much money and I don't need a lot of things but I feel like I'm trying to save for at least some measure of future security. I've always felt I'd be happier in the European system because I think what they get in exchange for higher taxes is worth it but now being basically middle-aged, I'm not sure what my job prospects would be there. So, I stick it out here trying to do the best I can but suffering no illusions that the ruling aristocracy of the U.S. gives a damn about anyone who is not wealthy.

At March 05, 2008 10:58 AM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

I agree with Don. This is a great discussion, and I love the exchange of these ideas! Thanks for giving us a place to do just that. :-)

I am always hesitant to believe that the American public is all ready to act and wanting change. Yeah, they talk the talk, but like Don says, I don't think they want to have that change affect them personally.

And who says that America is so extra motivated right now. Near as I can tell, it's just the same stuff as always; some people genuinely concerned and willing to do anything to get change to happen, and a zillion more folks just happy with not having to think.

I'm finding that letting go of my hope for change in politics, etc, is very similar to letting go of my hope for God watching over me. It feels bad at first, and just plain wrong. It's shameful in a way to say that you have lost all faith in our political system. However, at some point, it becomes very freeing to stop pretending that one of these days the citizens will rise up and demand better.

The citizens - for the most part - suck. They don't care about "better."

At March 05, 2008 10:58 AM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At March 05, 2008 9:34 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Good points all around. Boring Best, the analogy between deciding not to believe in a God and deciding not to believe in the political process is a very interesting concept. I can see the beauty in that. The thing I believe though, and the thing that helped me "debunk" my own "faith" is that I have to decide what to do with that. I decided that believing in God certainly does not necessarily make one a better person or behave in a more kind, humanitarian way. Likewise, not believing in politics does not necessarily absolve me from participating in community or contributing to change. True, we can all do that without the help of politicians.

Don, likewise, you are right to remind me that most people don't want to change, and have no intention of changing. Lord, lord let me tell you that I know that well. Of course, there is gonna come a time when there's no choice.

Part of me feels that this discussion has gone in the direction of giving up on each other. That, I don't care for and won't do. I have as much to worry about, as much negative energy as anyone else. But I've changed a LOT of my habits even though it wasn't easy or convenient or cheap, and I've seen other people do it. Am I and are they more internally motivated? Maybe. But there will be a tipping point at which there will be some pretty formidable external motivators, and they are already present -- fuel prices. Milk prices. The housing crash. People might start seriously reducing their electricity consumption, but it might be because they can't afford the rate increases.

Health care is a good example of a mess that both of you point out has not been addressed by any administration. I heard a report today on NPR about the difficulty of mandating behavioral and psychiatric care be covered by health plans. Don knows well there is no parity where that's concerned. A 14 year old girl could be starving herself, and yet the parents' insurance company has to determine whether that's something that should be treated. We need a president and an electorate to take this big ugly bull by the horns and kick its ass. That is not going to happen without voting, and without continuous sustained pressure on the electorate and on HMOs. If the next president fixed just one thing, one thing, and it was health care, wouldn't that be miraculous? But it would require every single person who wants that to do something. The right leader might be able to get that to happen.

Coal fired power plants are another favorite topic. There is a battle being waged right now against these stupid plants, which despite all the copious evidence refuting the logic of their existence, are being proposed all along the Great Lakes and down along the southern part of Ohio. The City of Cleveland is afraid that if it doesn't buy in to one of these AMP plants, CPP will go under. SO WHAT? So if CPP can't compete and provide cleaner fuel, let it go under. It's a free market. Oberlin opted out. Why? Because they give a crap about the people of Meigs County where these old dirty plants are, and the disproportionately high cancer and lung disease rates among residents in that area. So if the people of Oberlin and the people of other communities around Ohio can say, "We don't need no stinking coal power because it's killing people" and they can accept paying higher rates because the damage of coal-fired plants is becoming untenable, so can other communities.

I hope that the next leader of the free world can turn more heads and inspire a little more personal action. Maybe you two have seen too much of the crappy stuff. I've seen as much of the good stuff, so I'm going to continue to cast my lot with keeping my whiny head out of my ass and taking every opportunity to be present and to participate. Why don't y'all join me? It will be fun. Last one to write your Congressperson about health care is a rotten egg...

At March 06, 2008 8:20 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

Mando - we can all keep going on about this and frankly, as Boring says, the exchange of ideas is a good one. I think that I have not lost faith in all people. Individually humans can be kind, generous, and motivated to help others. But I don't have faith in any organized ability, be it political or grass-roots, to make the kinds of sweeping changes that might be necessary to make this a better place to live. People are simply too reactionary. We wait until there's a crisis before we act. And there's too many people who forget the wise words of Locke when he wrote that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

The sad fact that Americans don't want to face is that the world has changed around us. Every great empire, including ours, eventually falls. You cannot keep "good jobs" in America when the same work can be done for 1/40 the cost in Mexico or China or India. We could be more insular before broadband but not anymore. Any kid in any country can start up a business that can compete with the best we have to offer. It's a different ballgame and I think people here are in for hard times that aren't necessarily goin to end anytime soon.

At March 06, 2008 9:50 AM, Blogger Ipsissimus said...

I'm enjoying reading this, if not responding. The only thing I'd add is this: people respond to financial motivation where they won't respond to common sense. Sales of SUVs are down - hybrid cars are up because gas is topping $3. Mr. Ipsissimus and I are going to geothermal heat from oil heat for the same reason. My hope is that when prices shoot up from the dwindling of resources our clean technology will get a boost and people will have to become cleaner and more environmental because of cost. I just hope it won't be too late at that point. Ten years ago I gave up hope that there would be clean, more efficient cars - now there are three or four viable technologies because there is now a market.

At March 10, 2008 11:50 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

A new report out today (Mon 3/10) says that humans are responsible for aout 10 billion tons of CO2 a year. The same study says that we'd have to be at ZERO emissions to slow global warming enough to make an impact. Of course, this is impossible.

Ips, I'm hearing you on the economic factors. Of course it all comes down to responsible choices, whatever the reason. There will always be plenty of folks who will choose to whine over the economic impact of driving an SUV rather than make more sustainable choices to avoid having to drive that SUV. These folks can always justify their actions, even if their justifications are just mirror images of their bad decisions.

Woohoo on the geothermal, though! Cool!


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