Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Irritating things

--People who say that there is no good choice in the 2008 election. Granted, I can understand this attitude among the Armageddon crowd who thinks John McCain is too liberal because they think everyone to the left of Lucifer is liberal. But why some progressives and libertarians say there is no choice is beyond me. You mean, you aren't happy with either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton? Really? Rock-star change icon versus ex-First Lady? When will the major parties finally break the mold of grizzled old white men and put their trust in someone who wants to change politics from the bottom up, huh? It's always the lesser of two evils, man! Hold your nose and vote. Yeah. Things will never, uh, change.

--Obama critics who say he stands for nothing, but then say he's a socialist/Marxist with a vicious America-hating streak. He can't be both. Pick one.

--Any Democrat who says they'll vote for McCain if Obama/Clinton is not nominated. I've seen polls that suggest as many as 30 percent of partisans would do that. I don't get it. Did we lower the voting age to bring in My Super Sweet 16 drama queens?

--The photo-ID law for voting. Yeah, I understand the concern of voter fraud. But this seems to come up mainly during Democratic ballots by the same people who thought the 2000 election was A-OK. The problem with requiring photo ID is that not everyone can afford it and/or make the trip to an office to get one. Sure, this is the post-9/11 age when everyone's supposed to assume you're suspicious, but let's put this in context here. As recently as 1986, New York and Kentucky were just starting to require photos on driver's licenses. Some states, such as New Jersey, still offer options for photo-free cards. Most of these options are aimed at the elderly, mainly because of tenure. My grandmother lived to 86, was an active voter until the age of 80 and never had a driver's license or ID card. When I think of mandatory-photo-ID rules, I don't think of Mohammad Atta being turned away; I think of my grandmother. Anyway, Atta had a valid Florida driver's license. What's the point? Which brings me to:

--The "everyone's a suspect" attitude. In the past few years, we've been asked to look out for potential terrorism. At the same time, we're increasingly being asked for more and more proof of who we are in everyday situations. Has it helped things? Hard to tell. What isn't hard to tell is that Americans are increasingly antagonistic, not only to foreigners, but to each other. We've become so used to defining others negatively against ourselves, that it's subconscious. And because Those People are Not Us, we put the burden on them to prove that they aren't criminals in a given situation. What a way to live. But I guess it's been worth it since no one's knocked down any Twin Towers since 9/11.

--Speed van apologists. In my hometown of Lafayette, LA, an Australian company called RedFlex has teamed up with local politicians to park vans at random thoroughfares and snap motion-sensor pictures of people speeding. The owner of the car eventually receives a citation in the mail, complete with full-color digital photo of the offending driver and a rear shot of their license plate. The $25 fine is a civil infraction, not a criminal one, which they claim as a selling point. In reality, the program has more flaws than a 1985 Yugo: accusations of incorrectly calibrated photos; the city having to hire employees to sift through the photos, despite claims that no taxpayer dollars would be involved; the ruled unconstitutionality of the system in Florida and other states; the almost inverse correlation between accident rates and van placement; documented cases of yellow lights being shortened at camera intersections; the notion of private, foreign corporations dipping into local law enforcement; the failure of cameras to catch drunken drivers at the most crucial time; the willingness of offenders to pay $25 a pop for the right to break laws repeatedly; the alleged cash bonanza this has been for beleaguered city officials; and, of course, the question of what such a dubious program will invite in the future. But, of course, the apologists among us have a pat answer for all that: "Just don't speed or run red lights." Well, OK, then, pilgrim!

--People who can't tell the difference between a good law and a stupid one. Speed vans notwithstanding, traffic laws are good. We need traffic signals, stop signs, lane markers and speed limits to ensure that traffic flows as safely as possible. You don't want anarchy in the city when thousands of people are driving metal missiles. On the other hand, the "Yes Ma'am, No Ma'am" law, requiring schoolchildren to be superficially polite, is stupid. There are lots of laws and rules out there that seem to serve no purpose. Opposing them does not make one an anarchist. Such subtleties are all but lost in today's political discourse.


pudding-monkey said...

There sure is a lot of stupid floating around this election year, but I guess it's only the kind of stupid that changes. In 2004 it was re-electing Bush. Now it's sulky "I don't wanna vote for THEM" stupid.

Re: Dumb laws - what happened to just addressing adults as Mr./Mrs./Ms? Is that not good enough? I don't think saying "sir" or "ma'am" is going to make the troublesome kids any less troublesome. But then, I don't live in a magical land of talking frogs with hats.

Ian McGibboney said...

I don't think it matters how you address someone, as long as you're showing them respect. Virtually the only time I've ever been called "Mr. McGibboney" was either during a scolding or otherwise out of pomposity. It doesn't bring respect to mind for me; it brings an authoritarian disconnect. Which I guess is the point in the first place, but that isn't real respect.

rhonda said...

--Any Democrat who says they'll vote for McCain if Obama/Clinton is not nominated.

several friends have told me this, specifically that they would skip straight past clinton and vote mccain if obama isn't an option. within the limited pool of people that i actually discuss this kind of thing with, the somewhat surprising consensus among those who'd be so willing to jump from obama to mccain seems to be that they can't get behind universal health care. i can't tell you how many times i've heard from otherwise compassionate people that they don't want to help other ADULTS (which seems to be a key word) obtain health care, that they feel it's not their responsibility. maybe i'm the naive one, but that reasoning still shocks me every time i hear it.

yournamehere said...

If Hillary wins legitimately I'll vote for her. If she usurps the process and wins by coercing superdelegates to chose her against the wishes of the majority, I will not vote for her. This doesn't mean I'll vote for McCain, but I won't support any superdelegate shenanigans.

E.J. said...

You make a lot of damn sense. No wonder you had to move away from LA.