i probably won’t get the democratic nomination


These are kinda tardy. Apparently it’s a bit more difficult to find time to write when you have to hope 2 kids nap at the same time.

Halloween:
I was walking in the neighborhood near our apartment just before Halloween and I was kinda appalled at the creepy decorations people use. The fall-theme stuff is fine – scarecrows, hay, leaves, and gourds – but I kept thinking how I wouldn’t want to take my kid trick-or-treating in an area with skeletons and witches and bloody-looking stuff everywhere. Some cultures have a “Day of the Dead” and you are supposed to honor your ancestors but American Halloween just seems so pointless. I know some Christians don’t like Halloween because of its pagan roots but I don’t really care about that. (I mean, the way we celebrate both Christmas and Easter have pagan influences but nobody seems upset by that. I’m not convinced Satan has much to do with fun-size chocolates.) What I do not understand is deliberately frightening small children. I remember this one time I went trick-or-treating with my dad and this one house had a guy sitting on his porch with a bucket of candy in his lap. He was sitting stock still so you couldn’t tell if he was real or a dummy. I thought he was probably real and planning to scare me so I asked my dad to go with me. He told me if I wanted the candy I had to go up there myself. So I went, they guy scared me, and my dad cracked up. It just seems like so much of Halloween stuff is intended for small children to be frightened and adults to enjoy their fright and – isn’t scaring someone for your own sport sort of the definition of bullying?

Politics:
Now that the #$&!@% election is over I just have to say…there is something really, really wrong about the political system in America. I have been really displeased with recent candidates for the “big” positions – with multi-million dollar campaign funds it seems like we are back to only allowing the wealthy elite into power and unfortunately wealthy elite are utterly unqualified to represent the common man. For example, one guy running for senator in Texas (in the primaries) had a platform that was basically “I am rich, vote for me.” Really? Having a lot of money does not qualify you to represent me; in fact, quite the opposite. I don’t think either mainline party has viable answers to what everyone perceives as our country’s problems; I tend to be Libertarian-minded but find many of their candidates to be underqualified. (Not that I want candidates who are career politicians – I don’t – but the Libertarian candidate for senator just got out of grad school. Like straight from high school to college to grad school, he just graduated. I would really like my representatives to have some real-world experience before they head off to Washington, you know?) Anyway I used to be super passionate about voting and stuff and I couldn’t understand why people would choose to not exercise their right to vote but I have grown very cynical of late. I was unexcited about either candidate running the country (it was a pipe dream but I really hoped Ron Paul would get the Republican* nomination) and only decided at the last minute to vote. Actually the main reason I wanted to vote was I thought there was going to be a school voucher issue on the ballot but there wasn’t, which I was upset about. Since I was going to vote on the vouchers I figured I may as well fill in the rest of the ballot and honestly for President I viewed it as voting for an economic system rather than a person. I know I am kind of weird but I’m not that odd – I don’t think it bodes well for the future of our country when people my age and younger are disengaging from the political process.

And people are SO ANNOYING about their political beliefs. Ugh. Two behaviors that really irk me are 1. assuming that being a Christian means you have to vote a particular way and 2. being super-political on Facebook and then a week or two before the election saying you’re tired of “all the rhetoric” and quitting Facebook until after it’s over. Um…you were part of the problem and the reason some of us just plain avoided Facebook for like 2 months. This is one of many, many things I hate about Facebook. That’s another post entirely.

*For the record I don’t really consider myself a Republican. Republicans, Libertarians, and even a Democrat all got bubbles filled in on my ballot. I just heart Ron Paul.

Princesses:
In keeping with the theme of Caroline’s quilt, I saw this on a blog I read. I may have gotten a little choked up over it. I really hope I can raise my daughter without the diva attitude associated with being a princess…but I hope she knows these things about herself.

I just finished reading Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher.  Actually, the full title is Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party), which is an extraordinarily long title and also a wee bit misleading because he stresses in the book that one does not necessarily vote Republican in order to fit the bill of a crunchy conservative, although most do.

I really, really enjoyed this book.  It helped me clarify my political beliefs and why I believe them.  Some points from A Crunchy Con Manifesto:

  • Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.
  • Big business deserves just as much skepticism as big government.
  • Culture is more important than politics and economics.
  • A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship – especially of the natural world – is not fundamentally conservative.
  • Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.
  • Beauty is more important than efficiency.
  • The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.
  • The institution most essential to conserve is the family.

The book talks about how these principles apply to economic policy (Dreher claims our economy is driven by consumerism rather than capitalism); the food you buy, where you buy it, and how you prepare it; what neighborhood you choose to live in and what type of home you buy; the way you educate your children; how you live in the natural world and view the environment; and the influence of religious beliefs.  As I read it I continually thought, “YES!  That is exactly what I think too.”  Of course I didn’t agree with every little thing, but it is really nice to know that I am not crazy for being repulsed by unchecked urban sprawl or taking my own cloth bags to the grocery store.

I will be happy to do a more in-depth review (or maybe just a summary; it’s pretty straightforward) if any of my handful of readers express interest.  If not, suffice it to say that Crunchy Cons expresses what I love about being a conservative and what bothers me about standard Republican policy.

…don’t loan large sums of money to people that have no means to repay the loan.

It’s novel!  It’s unheard-of!  It sounds like common sense…and it’s so simple that IT JUST MIGHT WORK.

I read this on a blog the other day: “The world is not an easy place to live in right now and I can’t see any way out of the hole our country is in economically. We’re heading for the bottom and I can barely see any light anymore. I wonder if this is how people were feeling during the great depression.”

Oh, pleeeeeeeeease.  First off, we are nothing nothing nothing like the Great Depression.  People who lived through the Great Depression STILL, more than 70 years later, add water to the ketchup bottle to make sure they get every smidgen possible.  Absolutely nothing got wasted or thrown away.  You didn’t buy new clothes, you had to repair what you had.  When it couldn’t be repaired anymore you made something new out of it for a smaller family member.  No one had a job – there were no jobs to be had.  The lady who said that was complaining about how hard it is to make ends meet on the two incomes she and her husband bring in – she did mention that one of them makes 90k a year.  The fact that either of them is working indicates it is not the Great Depression.  Also my husband and I make two incomes which combined don’t even equal 90k.  We live very comfortably off less than one of those incomes, which is by itself slightly less than the average American household income, and I am so happy that I saw a shooting star a few weeks ago and couldn’t even think of anything to wish for.  Possibly this lady needs to re-examine her budget because I feel ridiculously wealthy on less than half of what is apparently suffocating her.

Secondly, WE ARE NOT IN A RECESSION.  Yet.  Our last quarter’s economic growth was 0.9 percent, and the quarter before that growth was 0.6 percent.  I will readily admit that those are not great numbers, but the economy cannot be growing and receeding at the same time any more than the tide can simultaneously come in and go out.  A true recession requires two successive quarters (six months) of negative growth.  We are not growing at the rate we have been over the past few years, but we are not in a recession.  It is more like a stagnation.  I am no economist but I did pay a bit of attention in high school and I know this, so I am surprised that the media in general can’t figure this out.  Reporter does not equal economic expert.  Yet, people in general listen to the media in general and get all flustered over “our horrible economy.”  Well, I hate to break this to you but stagnating at a relatively good place does not count as being horrible.  Yes, gas prices could be lower…but they are still much, much lower than in most places in the world.  Food prices could be lower…but you have access to food, which is worlds away from what a lot of people experience on a daily basis.  Jobs could pay more…but you have a job, so quit whining.  I know things are getting hard for some people right now, but – and I am speaking anecdotally here – most of what I can see is people suffering from poor choices they made in better times.  “Oh, let’s go ahead and get the bigger house with that balloon mortgage thingy – surely we’ll get a raise before the balloon payment is due.”  “Well, we really need a new big-screen flat panel HD TV.  We’ll just finance it, they have a great plan here.”  “We consolidated all our loans!  Let’s celebrate by financing this great new set of couches.”  But the raise didn’t come, or the balloon payment wasn’t saved for, or the planned-on bonus didn’t come through, or whatever.  Here’s a thought: don’t plan on money you don’t have.  You’re not entitled to something because you breathe air, to borrow a phrase from Dave Ramsey.  If you have money to pay for something, great.  If you don’t, wait until you have money.  I cannot tell you the number of foolish financial decisions I have witnessed over the past year through various friends and acquaintences, and I have very little sympathy for those who are lying in a bed of their own making.

And thirdly, an economy cannot sustain huge, uninterrupted growth.  I am reaching back to high school again but it is OK to have times of growth and times where the economy isn’t so great.  Just keep thinking of the tide – it comes in, it goes out.  Nobody gets too upset because they know that, sooner or later, it will come back in again.

Honestly I think the biggest problem is that Americans live in a culture of entitlement: “Waaah, I want that, waaaaaah, why can’t I have it, I deserrrrrrve it!”  And suddenly banks realized that it isn’t so smart to lend money to people who can’t pay it back.  And people who can’t pay the banks back get foreclosed on, which everyone has known in the back of their minds all along but suddenly it is National News.  And suddenly people have to spend money on food rather than pay-per-view, and that means we are in Desperate Times.  The media created this recession impression (I’m a poet, too!) about 6 months ago, if I remember correctly, at the same time we were posting record low unemployment rates.  And now they feed it with horror stories of the dark, dark times we are facing when most of what is going on is people not being able to spoil themselves as much as they want to.  I will add here that the media is possibly creating a recession – scaring people into not buying that tomato because they don’t think they have 79 cents to spare, and then the little tomato farmer goes out of business, and then the fertilizer company has less income and lays some people off, and so on.  It is wonderful to report news; it is not acceptable to invent it.  We may be headed for a recession; I don’t know that.  I’m not an expert.  But I’m not worried.  Jake and I, through hard work and stubbornness, are 100% debt free.  We can handle our rent, utilities, and food on his income no problem.  We have an emergency fund saved.  I know how to use coupons.  We drive only when necessary and then use a car that gets amazing gas mileage.  We learned how to live small while everyone else was living it up – living like we were in a recession when we weren’t.  Because of that our way of life hasn’t changed a bit.

This wasn’t supposed to turn into my soapbox about financial choices…I’m just really tired of being told at every turn that I’m just an innocent victim.  I’m not a victim.  I made choices and I like how the chips fell.  Of course I would like cheaper gas and vegetables, but I really don’t have a problem with The Dire Economic Situation.  It may be popular to sell the victim mentality but I’m not interested in buying.

So after chatting with my friend Paige, and later Jake, I pinpointed one more thing that bothers me about Obama: his leadership style resembles that of another politician who will never make my favorites list.  Observe:

  1. Gather large groups of people together.
  2. Tell them how depressed and downtrodden they are.
  3. Tell them they shouldn’t be treated like that, they are much too good.  Special people shouldn’t have to work that hard for their bread!
  4. Once you have them eating out of your hand, they will believe anything you tell them.

Who does this sound like?  Oh yeah…Adolf Hitler.  And a lot of other guys who turned out pretty bad after they got power.  I’m not saying Obama is in a league with Hitler (yet), but I’m certainly not going to intentionally support someone that follows his manipulative principles of mob psychology so closely.

Or, Why Obama Is a Horrible Candidate.

I cannot understand the appeal of Barak Obama.  I’ve tried.  I mean, I haven’t read his books, which I’m sure are literary masterpieces, and I haven’t really heard his speeches, although I’ve heard they are oratory marvels.  I can’t even get interested enough in him to do those, because:

  1. His strong suit appears to be derision.  Headlines about him often begin, “Obama mocks…”, “Obama scoffs at…”, “Obama mocks…”, “Obama scorns…”, “Obama mocks…”  I don’t have exact numbers on this, but most of what comes from him belittles the ideas of current leaders or other candidates.  If I did want to listen to him, I would want to hear his thoughts and ideas, not how horrible the other guy is.  I think the leader of my country should have more intellectual skills than playground taunts.
  2. He doesn’t seem to have any actual ideas of his own.  “We need change” pretty much sums up what I understand of his platform.  Well, people ALWAYS need change, because people aren’t perfect.  Which means countries aren’t perfect.  So I don’t understand how he’s supposed to be so innovative – people have needed change since Adam.  And if I don’t like my life, NO president or politician is going to make my life better – that’s my responsibility.  Regardless of who is in the White House, and regardless of what party they are from, my life is MY life.
  3. In the same vein, he appears to be of the opinion that the government exists to fix everyone’s problems.  And yes, our government was created to “promote the general welfare,” but it is not a babysitter or a mother.  It is not the government’s job to clean up the mess you make of your own life.  That’s your job.  If you make bad choices, you get a crappy life.  If you make good decisions, you will end up with a good life.  The government’s job is to make sure that things keep happening that way (shoot a person, go to prison; conduct your business in a law-abiding and wise manner, make a profit).  That is how America works.  Our government is not here to remove the consequences of your poor decisions, and I certainly don’t want our country’s leader thinking that it is.
  4. He rejected a bill to protect infants born alive after failed abortions.  It’s called the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.  Basically it just says that if the fetus emerges alive, the doctor should not deny medical attention.  While it is fairly rare for this to happen, currently the doctor discards the “results” of the abortion as unwanted tissue.  Obama cited mother’s health concerns as his reason for voting against it not once, but twice.  Unless a baby is born with a machete in hand, I fail to see how his/her existence is a threat to the mother.  I, for example, am not a threat to a pregnant mother, because I am existing outside her body.  For me, this raises concerns about his morality as well as his intelligence.
  5. Except for voting against said bill, it doesn’t seem like he’s really accomplished much in his political career – except an impressive amount of mockery.  There’s not really a job that can prepare someone to be President, except being President, but I think I’d like to have someone that has some sort of clue what they’re doing in leading a huge body of people.
  6. He is inconsistent.  In scathing terms he mocks the war, but he would like to increase foreign aid spending $845 billion over current spending.  Apparently he does not approve of liberating a nation from a cruel dictatorship, helping said nation set up a non-tyrannical form of government, or granting basic human rights to women.  I guess that doesn’t count as “aid” to him.  And while “the situation in Darfur/Kenya/elsewhere in Africa” really is horrible, I’m curious how he plans to deal in a peaceful manner with the militant rebels who are causing a lot of the problems.  Maybe I’m naive, but militant rebels don’t really seem the type to sit down for some heart-to-heart negotiation.
  7. He’s a liar.  I realize he’s a politician, so that should go without saying.  But he claims to be a different kind of politician, and he’s not.  At all.  His campaign tactics represent everything most people claim to hate about politics: mud-slinging, name calling, pointing fingers.  On top of that, in February and March of this year alone, he raised $95 million for campaigning ($55 million in February and $40 million in March) while claiming to be all concerned about “the little guy.”  a) Bill Gates and Oprah, the richest man & woman in America, are ardent Obama supporters and generously support him financially.  Neither one counts as “the little guy.”  And if you think after all their support he’s not going to be doing some favors to big guys if he gets in office, you have some strong rose tints on your glasses.  b) $95 million could go a very long way in dealing with poverty in America, or health care for the poor, or any of the other issues he claims to be so concerned about.  Yet he is spending this money on commercial air time, hotel stays, transportation, etc.  For me, his extravagance in campaigning raises concerns about how well he could handle a national budget as well as reveals that his true concern is himself, not any “little guy.”

There’s a host of other reasons I find Obama distasteful, but I think these sum up my concerns about him as a person.  And our nation’s leader, after all, is a person before they are a leader.  Character matters, and I just don’t think Obama has it.