Falling Leaves: the Ardes blog

Archives filed under "politics"

Election 2012

Ray Drainville

I’m a political junkie, particularly for US politics, since that’s where I was born.

I’ve refrained from writing about the election this time around because, well, I was too buy reading about it, and chuckling over the hapless Mitt Romney, with all of his gaffes. His basic contempt for nearly half of the American public can’t be called a “gaffe”, however. It was too serious:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it… And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

This isn’t a mere “gaffe”: he believes these people are feckless, essentially to be considered throwaways. I would encourage anyone who’s voting in this election to not forget those words.

So Mittens chooses Paul Ryan as his running mate, one of the House Republicans’ leaders for budget negotiations. Mysteriously to me, he had become known as a guy who knew his numbers. He was a Serious Politician.

So the Serious Politician sat down with Time for a photo-shoot about his awesome workout.

So Mittens has a plutocrat problem (his wife entered a horse in the Olympics for dressage, fer chrissakes!); Ryan doesn’t look so serious a guy any more; the Republican convention was a disaster, with someone who thinks he’s a tough guy because he played them in movies talking to an empty chair he called “Obama”.

Why the fuck is this election even close? Obama got rid of Bin Laden, the stock market is back to 2007 levels, and those plutocrats are doing very well, thankyouverymuch (not that you’d hear them admit it). Well, there’s Obama’s miserable first debate, which wiped out six months’ worth of gains against a hapless opponent. And, while he got a lot of his legislative agenda through Congress, he’s been stopped short since the Republicans took the House in 2010. Mark my words, though: Obama will be remembered as one of the most effective presidents the US has ever seen, based upon those two years alone. The country’s not fully recovered from the Great Recession yet. But who honestly thought it would have, four years on?

I just don’t get it: Romney is proposing nothing less than a re-hashed Bush-Cheney presidency. Mmm. That didn’t work out so well before. But since it was only four years ago you’d think people would remember that.


Ray Drainville

It’s hard to concentrate on work these days. The Occupy protests have gathered apace over the past several months and it’s clear that the US, indeed the entire world, seems to be in a febrile state. The past few weeks, however, have provided us with shocking images of police violence on peaceful protestors.

The video of the Davis incident is truly shocking. That police officer theatrically brandishes his can of spray before he attacks children. To me, it’s clear that the offence he’s responding to is not the violation of some petty law, but that he, the embodiment of authority, was defied.

What’s even more impressive is to watch the students keep control, chant “Shame on you” & “You can go” to a bevy of clearly rattled police in riot gear—and the police withdraw. I think the police recognised—belatedly—the gross disproportionality of their response.

These images are shocking enough, but in private correspondence with people my own age, I’ve received quite a few comments along the lines of “Well, they were violating local laws”—as if that’s a reasonable reaction to this brutality. And newspapers like the New York Times don’t focus on the Davis incident, but instead lazily report on how people are reporting the Occupy protests. Here, I see people both twice & half my age acting with remarkable bravery in the face of horrifying abuses of authority—and in the meantime, my own generation has apparently lost its moral compass.

Problematic Wording

Ray Drainville

So there’s a tiny tempest at Zeldman.com. Jeffrey Zeldman rightfully condemns the “Pottermore” website for providing a retrograde experience. What’s the problem?

It’s certainly not the sentiment: the site is pretty crap. And it certainly isn’t because J.K. Rowling is under attack: a billionaire can defend herself many times over. Plus, I don’t like the Potter books. For me, it’s simply the title of the article: “Maybe stick to novels, dear”. That chummy “dear” is a standard form of condescension. It’s frequently used to belittle women & their contributions. I mean, come on: Rowling didn’t code the site herself, so why imply that she’s some rank amateur who decided to conquer the world of web development?

Now, do I think Zeldman is sexist? No. Do I think he fell into a pretty common social trap? Yes. I’ll accept that he attempted to make a joke: but it fell flat. We all misspeak; we all say things that, with further consideration, we don’t mean. That’s why I think it’s sad to see him stand his ground. It’s Luther’s “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise”—for a joke.

Update: There’s going to be a rally of feminism in Sheffield soon. I was struck by the poster: