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Life and Snowpeas

November 5th, 2007

WTF? No seriously, WTF? @ 08:39 am

temper: surprised surprised
soundtrack: Slide Away - Oasis

Someone last week (and I can't remember who it was exactly, but nevermind) expressed to me their sympathy for having the misfortune to arrive in America in preparation for an election year, I think since it makes it more insane than usual....

...now, I didn't really agree, because I quite like being in the midst of all the insanity, because a) what happens in to the American Presidency has huge ramifications for everyone else in the world, so it's not like I'm getting that much more coverage on it (particularly since I avoid current affairs shows here - with the obvious exceptions of the daily show and colbert report - like the necrotising brain plague that they so are), and b) as I've been told semi-regularly, 'you need to live in america to really get it'. Not sure that Northern Manhattan really counts on that line, but nevermind.. I'm at least pretty close to the thick of it when the Iranian president comes to town to be insulted and then say crazy shit.

But sometimes, my mind truly boggles at how elections (and to some extent, the entire country) work here.

Today's Reading: If lying about facts and then not admitting it works for Bush, why can't it work for me?

So the article raises a lot of things I'm confused about (starting with 'when did the idea of socialised medicine gain similar pariah status to, say, industrial pollution of drinking water, so that it can be used as a bogey-term to inspire fear in the hearts of Americans, and why did no one pass on the memo to the rest of the world?' But never mind... that's something I'll be wondering about for a good long time to come, I'm sure), but mostly...

....how the hell does Giuliani think he can get away with that sort of patently ridiculous lie? Actually, no... because clearly, he pretty much has gotten away with it... how the hell can he do that? Is it just a case that people WANT to believe that the American health system isn't really so bad, so they won't jump all over something (no matter how wrong) that suits the bias? 'Wouldn't it be nice if Britons really did die more than we do, in spite of it all? Damn royalist colonial oppressors, they deserve it!' Or that it doesn't matter what he says, because he isn't a) a woman, b) a black guy c) a guy with a poofy haircut, so how can one think to actually criticise him?

Okay, so I'm exaggerating, but really... I just don't get it. 6 Years of being lied to by a guy that refuses to own it when proved wrong.... and now one of the biggest candidates for his successor is doing exactly the same thing, with barely a slap on the wrist. At least England, for all its devilish commie-fangled 'socialist medicine' had the sense to get a new Prime Minister who does things differently...
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Date:November 5th, 2007 06:03 pm (UTC)
Welcome to the last 27 years of my life-- or of any other American that has had a thought. Ever.

'when did the idea of socialised medicine gain similar pariah status to, say, industrial pollution of drinking water, so that it can be used as a bogey-term to inspire fear in the hearts of Americans, and why did no one pass on the memo to the rest of the world?'

The Great Depression, or shortly after. When America 1- started most of its social programs in such a hurry that to this day they can't function properly (god forbid we should FIX them, of course...) and 2- Realized that it was willing to sacrifice the well-being of its people to keep the flow of money moving in practice more than in theory (there's a great scene in The Grapes of Wrath where starving people are watching farmers dump subsidized grain into rivers to keep prices from falling any further. No really.)

You know me well enough to know my feelings on this kind of broke-ass bullshit, but there is a reason for this belief/fear just like there's a reason for every capitalist cutthroat issue in this country. It's just that it's idiotic and archaic.

And no, all you Americans, I'm not apologizing for the country. I'm doing my fucking job and trying to find ways to fix it.
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Date:November 5th, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's weird though, as far as the first point goes, because pretty much every social program in the entire Western world started right after the Depression, to varying but fairly general levels of hasty crappishness. So I guess it's the second that starts to get at why America didn't stick with it and iron out (some of) the problems...

Maybe it's about freedom! Or rather, America's version of freedom, which is freedom to make as much money as you can (no bastard kings taxing you!)... you end up with a country in thrall to money.

the UK, by contrast, is a country in thrall to class/social position, which hasn't been the same thing as wealth for a long time...

...and NZ.... is a country in thrall to the UK, i guess.

But either way, if you take money off the top of the pyramid of national/governmental values, I guess you leave room for other stuff. Like social stuff, or what I (being the commie bastard product of a nanny state!!) like to think of as 'being a decent human being to other human beings'.

Anyway... yeah. They're there, those reasons, you're definitely right. Probably going back even earlier than the 30s, I suppose, which means it's even more interwoven and viciously cyclic and a bugger to pick apart..

I really need to read the Grapes of Wrath.
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Date:November 5th, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
Ah, you know the primaries must be drawing nigh when the print and television media become clogged with outlandish claims and scary ideas like socialized medicine and immigration reform. It's all very disheartening, I think. What baffles me is how these people are able to trivialize important issues with gravitas. "Oh, yes, this is a vital concern to all Americans, and I intend to make sure they receive the medical treatment/job security/freedom from fear of subway bombs that they deserve and blah blah blah."

I always worry when talk turns to what the American people deserve. Not that I don't think that there are certain things that the citizens of any civlized country ought to be entitled to by virtue of superior resources and the theoretical moral enlightenment that the word "civilized" connotes. But I don't really think one should trust a transparently disingenuous, grasping career politician to secure these things on one's behalf.

Anyway, the whole process is a little revolting. It's become a garish, cynical charade of false oppositions and sleazy voyeurism. At least, that's the way it usually seems to me. But it could just be the local news here; the political editor (a gross misnomer, if ever I've heard one) seems like he'd be more at home on E!, or hosting a daytime gossip show. I swear, every afternoon when he starts going on about Hillary Clinton's laugh, the cost of one of John Edwards' haircuts, or which team Rudy Giuliani was rooting for in the world series, I sit in slack-jawed amazement and mild nausea. I've actually shrieked "What the fuck?" at the television once or twice.

Either he's the nephew of the station manager, or there's some kind of widespread conspiracy to ensure the good, middle-class, godfearing people of Massachussetts aren't forced to strain their brains contemplating anything bearing even a passing resemblance to a genuine issue. Or notice that the men and women positioning themselves for a run at the Oval Office seem to be pretty much equally worthy of contempt.

It's like Lewis Black said!

Republicans: "I have a really fucking terrible idea!"

Democrats: "I can make it worse!"

Here! Have a little more ranty fun. He's performing on Broadway!

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Date:November 5th, 2007 07:30 pm (UTC)
Heheehe... Lewis Black makes me smile...

As far as the election goes, I guess we could hope that they're saving up all the real issues for the point where it's a little closer than 12 months out from the election, in case we all get tired of them by then...

...but... yeah.
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Date:November 5th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
It would be nice to live in a world where you know, honesty was valued and real solutions were looked at rather than waving a distracting red cape at the collective bull a large majority of the country makes up. And you'd think we'd want different but god knows after FOUR years of Bush he was re-elected by a majority of this country.

And also, in addition to the lovely points that Katey made, in the vast majority of the individuals in the US "socialist" = "communist" = Germany, Russia, Cuba and China = EVIL! So the word socialist is just another word for Evil, which is how they can pull off this bull. Welcome to the US.
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Date:November 8th, 2007 01:03 am (UTC)
Yeah, that re-election was one of the weirdest things of all.... although I guess it was sort of before Iraq turned into an absolute cluster-fuck, rather than just being a dumb-ass shitty thing to do, so... yeah. Maybe.

Hee. Those crazy German national socialists... so very communist, they were. :D

But yeah, you do make a very good point. So we can go back and blame McCarthy! Suits me, he was one fucking crazy fucker. With a weirdly good line in getting inside people's heads and getting them to think what he wanted.
Date:November 6th, 2007 08:44 am (UTC)
I find myself developing this schedule at work: in the mornings, I read gossip, then feminism. At lunch, I read music crap, then in the afternoons, I read american politics. Its really quite bizarre.

Giuliani's clearly insane and the hilariously terrifying thing is that he's actually probably the most stable republican with a reasonable chance at the nomination. He's also like, literally insane. And a cross dresser. Who announces he's leaving his wife to marry his mistress on tv. Its bizarre.

The healthcare thing is so strange. It just...this is going to sound patronizing but its like they don't know any better and hell, maybe they don't if this is the shit they get fed. But everything I see and hear about the US system scares the shit out of me and thats compared to here where its drifting slowly towards the toilet. There's this monumental focus on America, everything is dealt with in the way it relates to America, how standards compare to America's standards and there's this crazy awareness of it. I just boggle, I really do, because I think plenty of Australia is pig-ignorant enough and the fact that out there is somewhere like the states thats worse just hurts me.
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Date:November 8th, 2007 01:13 am (UTC)
The really sad thing about the republican nominees is that it's McCain, or 'Crazy McStayinIraq-Fuck' who seems the most sane, the longer it all goes on. At least he believes what he says, which is something I can't credit for either Giuliani or Romney.

As an adoptive New Yorker, Giuliani pisses me off more and more every time I see him (they pretty much all hate/are just sick to death of him here). He needs to shut the fuck up about being freaking mayor.

Man, that's really sad that you're having to get the US comparisons - we always thought that Australia had a fairly decent healthcare system (partly because you keep nicking our bloody doctors!), at least compared to NZ (not too hard, sadly, although I'd take NZ over the US just about any day).

But yeah... no matter how much it gets worse in Australasia, and that does seem to just keep on happening, there's still that whole insane mental gulf between our toilets and the crazy cesspit that is the American system. Which is even sadder since they have the money, the expertise, and the infrastructure to do so much amazing stuff that may as well be sci-fi in NZ.

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