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Markets, politicians, and other maunderings

I tried. I did. I really tried to work up enthusiasm about Tuesday’s red-hot primaries. I mean, Arlen Spector being thrown out, Rand Paul being thrown in (maybe) … that oughta be exciting. Especially to an old political junkie like me — who started collecting politicians’ autographs when she was 12 (I still have my Richard Nixon) — who used to stay up into the wee hours to track election results — who, as recently as 1994 actually went to the local courthouse to be among the first to get precinct results.

But no. Couldn’t even work up a good yawn. Could you? Spector’s an old tyrannosaurus who’s already done all the damage he can. Paul may be a smarter politician than his daddy, but he’s still just a standard-brand conservative (even if not, thank all gods, quite of the Bush-Cheney ilk). (Here’s an interesting difference of opinion, though.)

The best I can do this week is give a grin of schadenfreude over the gloriously exposed hypocrisies of Connecticut A.G. (and would-be senator) Richard Blumenthal (William Salatan of Slate gives him a glorious working-over, using Blumenthal’s own “righteous” standards). And oh my lord, how about “Christian” fundie married drug warrior family-values do-as-I-say bully Mark Souder earnestly discussing the virtues of abstinence. On television. With his also-married mistress. Then blaming “the poisonous atmosphere of Washington” for his downfall.

That’s rich. You really can’t make that stuff up. These people’s brains are on some other planet.

But at the same time, my brain hurts from reading the hundreds of post-primary articles like this one. “Primaries reveal ‘new rules’ in U.S. politics!” “Voters upturn political establishment!” “Big change from politics-as-usual!”

Yeah. Right.

Are these writers all fresh out of high school, or what? Have they lived their entire lives in a cave? Every decade or so, we get “sea change in politics” exactly like the one that supposedly happened on Tuesday (and started happening earlier with the election of Scott Brown and other newsbits). Every few election cycles we also get pundits proclaiming that one party or another is “dead” and will never rise again in our lifetimes. R’s, D’s, the party varies but the story never changes. This time it’s “anti-incumbent fervor” or “anti-establishment anger” — as if we hadn’t been seeing that since 1994, at least. Or 1968. Or whatever. No. Nothing changes in politics. Or reporting about politics. (Even if some of the reports, like the one just linked, are quite thoughtful.)

And nothing in government changes, either. Unless you consider more of the same — and more, and more, and more — to be change.

You know that. I know that. Do all these hundreds and thousands of professional commentators seriously not know that? The longer I live, the more all these declarations of “change” sound like Stalinist propaganda. “Look, little people! Your leaders heed the awesome power of your votes — and they respond!”

Pardon me for not getting all tingly about it.

But I wish I could. I really wish I could.


Meantime …

The Euro isn’t actually the ugliest currency in the world right now.

No surprise, the U.S. housing market is suffering from a post-April-30 hangover

Just in case you were wondering why people choose “illegal” over “legal” immigration, here’s a pretty funny look at some of the reasons. Bureaucrats> Gotta love ’em; can’t shoot ’em. (Some language NSFW.)

And there is political hope elsewhere, if not here. I really will get all tingly if it turns out to be something other than mere words.

“European dominoes turn into global cascade.” Read that even if you don’t follow any other links today.


  1. Pat
    Pat May 20, 2010 5:52 am

    Politicians selling us a bill of good — that’s the most lucrative “market” I’ve seen in years.

    Claire, you still have a Nixon autograph? How much do you think that would raise on eBay?

  2. Claire
    Claire May 20, 2010 6:33 am

    Hey, Pat. I’ve wondered about the worth of that Nixon autograph, myself. But never really enough to seriously look into it. There are a number of autograph dealers on eBay & I should probably ask one of them about it. Or perhaps I should have asked a few years ago when people actually had money to pay for politicians’ signatures.

    The autograph was gotten for me by an aunt — the only Republican in my mother’s enormous family — who attended a fundraising dinner for Nixon. One reason I’ve never done anything with it is that it’s made out to me using an embarrassing childhood nickname.

  3. Winston
    Winston May 20, 2010 8:58 am

    “You know that. I know that. Do all these hundreds and thousands of professional commentators seriously not know that?”

    I’m guessing many of them are as cynical as we are…but they’re entertainers first and foremost, and if people want to hear that there’s big wonderful political change coming, then dammit that’s what they’re going to hear; whether it’s true or not is a non-issue.

  4. Ellendra
    Ellendra May 20, 2010 9:10 pm

    I think a lot of people are so emotionally involved that they will always see stark differences between the candidates and the parties, even if they have to imagine those differences.

  5. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair May 21, 2010 3:59 am

    There was an election on Tuesday?

  6. G.W.F.
    G.W.F. May 21, 2010 6:29 am

    I love the link to the immigration story. It is funny because you know it is what someone who tries to do things legally goes through.

    I was very interested in history, so I worked very hard to piece together a personal family tree a few years ago. If I go back to the 1850’s and 1880’s I find two branches that actually immigrated from Ireland. It is hard because at that point you are tracking 32 “Grand-Parents”. Beyond that it gets really hard! I could only find two other “immigrants”, one from England in 1895 (when I am tracking 256 “Grand Parents”) and one who came from Portugal in 1770 (when I am tracking 512!). I obviously have many empty branches when I go out 10 generations, but I have made a serious go at figuring it all out. The best I can do is origins of family names, but just because you take one name from one line means nothing. Your history and genetics come equally from all the lines on the tree.

    I guess my point is unless you map it all out its very hard to figure out where you came from. I have always asked and been told I was German-Irish, but I actually seem to be more Scotch-Irish (with at least 1/512th Portuguese!). Everywhere I have filled in the branches I find hard-working salt of the earth folks that were the farmers, soldiers and working stiffs that built this nation. I wonder what America would have looked like if at any other point in history we made such an effort to close off the borders. What is going on in AZ just turns my stomach.

    I would love to see a focus on cutting the entitlements and social(ist) programs that are such a burden on the tax payers. It looks like if that was the focus the immigration issue would no longer be a problem.

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