Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Entering hostile territory

A few days ago I had an experience at Subway that I can only describe as jarring.

But before I get into it, I have to describe what I was wearing. Lately, I've grown out what can be generously described as scruffy hair - I haven't had a haircut since at least early July, and my hair is taking on its typical longish-hair curl mess that makes me look five again. I like to think that my head is starting to look like my brain thinks. Add to that a T-shirt my mom got me in Washington, D.C., which features a marijuana leaf superimposed on the White House, with the slogan, "Keep off the grass!" (Which I do, by the way.) I particularly enjoyed wearing it around Salt Lake City, where people asked me constantly what it meant. On Thursday, I paired that shirt with some green beach jams whose nondescript-plant pattern could be misconstrued as pot from a short distance. Keep that image in mind.

After heading to the park and riding my bike 11 miles down the trail (I'm slacking lately - wearing weed really saps your ambition), I walked into Subway. After a blonde girl greeted me, she and another woman immediately turned their heads back to the fully fatigued military man making nice with them. Real stud, too. Tall, thick, government-employed, everything I'm not. This guy's going to retire from his post right into the anchor slot of the evening news. The two women behind the counter can't stop flirting.

Blonde: "...So yeah, that's why I'm VOTING FOR JOHN McCAIN!"
Woman: "Of course!"
Blonde: "My favorite choice didn't make it, but McCain's the best that's left." (A true endorsement.)

Military Guy sits down with his food, and the women carry on as they turn to me.

Woman: "You know?"
Blonde: "My aunt used to work with Bill Clinton in Arkansas. She tried to run over him once."
Woman: "HA HA HA HA HA!!" [Looks at me as if it's weird that I find this weird.] "Right?"
Me: "Actually, my dad used to work on his campaign in 1992. They worked together at one point. I got to shake his hand too."
Blonde: "You did?"
Me: "Yeah. It was pretty cool for a kid, you know, to meet the future president."
Blonde: "He met a lot of people."
Me: "Still."
Blonde: "And you grew up, right?"
Me: "It was cool."
Blonde: "Hillary almost got it this time. But really, she had run before, right?"
Me: "Hmm?"
Blonde: "I mean, when Bill was president. She had time, because he was messing around."
Me: "Uhh...I'll have chicken breast on wheat..."

Remember how I said I had the pot leaf on my shirt, and the scraggly hair? I feel, at this point, if I even utter the name of...you know, that guy, the Change guy...I'm going to wind up in Guantanamo Bay with Harold and Kumar.

Once I had my sandwich and juice box (like I said, I'm five), I give the military guy a nod on my way out. He reciprocates, and (to my genuine surprise) does not beg me to join up. The last time I crossed paths with a military recruiter in an election year, they were screaming at me from a van in the street while I swept my front porch. Of course, that was in 1996, back when they had enthusiasm.

Even in Jeezus-lovin' Springfield, I've seen way more Obama bumper stickers and yard signs than their McCain equivalents. Indeed, the Subway incident was the first time I've found myself among an enthusiastic McCain throng (thought I'm not even sure I should include Military Guy in that - mostly, he smiled and nodded politely; for all I know, he's as ready for Change as anyone). But it did remind me that, in some dimensions, McCain really is the right old man for the presidency, and that I'm the radical for thinking differently. Kind of the way I felt living in Lafayette, LA at the height of the Bush years (where at least 22 of Bush's 27 percent still lives).

Still, I'm happy that this experience has been so rare I've felt a need to blog about it. I look forward to going to this Subway again in a few months and hear these people complaining about how this country's going down the tubes. That's when I'll know it isn't.

10 comments:

Nick said...

"Kind of the way I felt living in Lafayette, LA at the height of the Bush years (where at least 22 of Bush's 27 percent still lives)."

Where does the 9 percent of those who favor the Democrat Congress live?

Hell, they teamed up with Bush nicely to try and scew the taxpayers with that $700 billion bailout bill.

Makes me wonder why ya'll need Obama so bad. About the only thing Bush and the liberal Democrat Congress seem to differ on is the Iraq War and offshore drilling.

Ian McGibboney said...

Original, Nick. Original. The reason Congress has such a low approval rating is because the Democrats have not acted upon the bulk of their promised reforms. Part of the reason they haven't is because they don't have the filibuster-proof majority required to enact much of these reforms.

If the vote on the bailout proves anything, it's that party lines didn't matter. Most Democrats voted for the compromised version, but many broke ranks because they were still dissatisfied (as I am). Some Republicans stayed away from it because they didn't want to be seen as lockstep with Bush. I don't blame them; the bailout is a terrible idea as is. The situation is so convoluted that no one would have looked good coming out of it no matter how it turned out. But one thing is clear: decades of Wall Street deregulation has failed spectacularly. And voters know exactly which party is most responsible for that.

Nick said...

"The reason Congress has such a low approval rating is because the Democrats have not acted upon the bulk of their promised reforms. "

Good point. The reason is because the D.C. Democrat politicians likely aren't any better/worse than D.C. Republican politicians at putting the screws to the American people for their own power-grab.

"But one thing is clear: decades of Wall Street deregulation has failed spectacularly. And voters know exactly which party is most responsible for that."

You know what also clearly failed? What has also failed the economy and responsible taxpayers is the push by the Clinton Administration and other bleeding heart social groups to force banks and financial institutions into making high-risk loans to people who could not afford them.

Banks used to require 20% downpayment on a home in order to secure a loan, that way the borrower has much more to lose than just the house should they opt to stop making mortgage payments.

Not so anymore. Financial institutions were forced by government to make loans to those who were extremely high risk and had no business receiving loans for $100k+.

Government regulation and force into the market has had just as much to do with the current problem as deregulation.

There is no Right to Home Ownership in the Constitution, despite what many liberal Democrats and groups like ACORN want to believe.

Ian McGibboney said...

That's right, Nick, blame the poor. Blame the government programs that had tight rules and tried to reduce crime by making homeownership a reality for those who needed a little help. Forget that a huge chunk of this crash was caused by private businesses allowed to prey on poor people with no oversight, in the forms of subprime and predatory loans.

But, of course, the mass brain of the conservative mind-set defaults to anything government does to help the poor, even as Bush and McCain tout the "Ownership Society" and call for more of the exact same deregulation that caused this in the first place.

You need to stop with the unoriginal "Yes, but Democrats do it too" comebacks. I'm not making this about party any more than the facts permit, but you are. This is a case of deregulation resulting in more transactions than should been allowed to take place. Period.

Try talking about that, instead of why poor people are to blame for all their problems.

Nick said...

I'm not "blaming poor people for problems".

What I AM blaming is government intervention that forced financial institutions to makes loans they KNEW were bad deals.

Banks, if they don't want to, should not be forced to make a loan for $100k if the person seekign the mortgage cannot put down some sort of down payments, hell, at least 10%. That way, the person has something to lose should they walk away, just like the lenders have something to lose.

"You need to stop with the unoriginal "Yes, but Democrats do it too" comebacks. I'm not making this about party any more than the facts permit, but you are."

Only pointing out that the politicians you've supported are just as responsible for this problem as the ones I've supported.

You want to point out Bush's 22% favorable rating, well, the Democrat Congress is 9%, doesn't matter the reasons their ratings are low.

Me, personally, I'd give both the President and Congress unfavorable ratings, so I'd be part of both the 78% and 91%.

Nick said...

I don't consider someone like this to be a "poor person who was taken advantage of".

http://www.witn.com/home/headlines/29994444.html

There are many people who make more than I do who are now trying to blame the "predatory" tactics of financial institutions for their downfalls.

Should I feel sorry for and my tax dollars bail out someone whose income and/or social status exceeds mine??

Ian McGibboney said...

Nick, first off, Bush's rating is 27 percent and Congress is polling at 10 percent.

Second, it's like I said in a past post: A homeless man can't buy a Bentley, but that doesn't mean he won't try if someone opens an "E-Z Bentley" shop in this strip mall next to his box that accepts payment in food stamps. The point being, the service should not be allowed in the first place.

And please explain to me what the video you linked proves. Oprah's mom sues a high-end fashion store over her credit issues? Am I supposed to stop blaming lenders because the mother of the richest woman in America ruined her credit? This isn't even remotely a parallel to what we've been talking about. But kudos to you for what must have a been a concerted effort to find something this silly.

Nick said...

"A homeless man can't buy a Bentley, but that doesn't mean he won't try if someone opens an "E-Z Bentley" shop in this strip mall next to his box that accepts payment in food stamps. The point being, the service should not be allowed in the first place."

You're right. It shouldn't be allowed. But when it wasn't allowed, liberal Democrats and "community" groups bitched about racism and biased towards the poor. Financial institutions were FORCED to make many of those bad loans.

The point about the story on Oprah's mom is that the poor aren't the vast majority of those who are suffering in bad debt. A big portion of this also consists of people who make a good salary, but made horrible decisions on their credit, took out loans they couldn't afford, put since they didn't have to put anything down, they don't lose much by just walking away from the house note.

Local liberal Democrat, Stephen Handwerk, was on the radio last week trying to explain the hardships of those lost in debt who need government (taxpayer) help. He explain the "sobbing" situation of people who bought $1 million dollar homes in Califonia that are now only worth $700k, and they can't make the mortgage payments any more.

Should I feel sorry for someone who mortgaged a house for $1 million?? The estimated home value in 2006 where I live is $46k.

http://www.city-data.com/city/Iota-Louisiana.html

A much greater portion of this bad debt than what people are willing to admit is due to educated, well off people making horrible financial decisions.

constant change said...

Were these banks also forced to raise payments out of obvious financial reality? Were they forced to pay people based on how many/how big of loans they wrote?
Were they also forced to team up w/ appraisers who would say a building is worth way more than it is to get the loan? The borrower was sitting there amazed they were allowed at the table, and the rising payment was mentioned in passing, "oh you can refi it later, maybe, at a fixed rate..." Don't get me wrong, the borrowers were naive to think they would be able to handle it, but the folks on the other side of the desk KNEW what was up, and how it would fall.

Nick said...

Hey, no argument here that both sides were stupid/unethical.

My point is that Ian's accusal of the financial crisis being strictly a result of "Republican deregulation" is flat out untrue.

Many other factors played into this.