Polls are really good at one thing, creating jobs for people who like talking about polls:
Similarly, in things that do not matter:
Related Post: Is it Election Day yet?
Related Post: My Lincoln obsession started early.
Is it Election Day yet? Pretty please? Don’t know if I can handle two more months of this b.s.
And b.s. it is, on both sides. Every day we are inundated by silly shit that just does not matter. One of my conservative FB friends posted this:
Times have changed, no doubt, but for better or for worse, daytime talk shows are one of the best ways to reach the masses. And after all, when you’re President, the masses are your constituency and you take every chance you get to talk directly to them. You know who else figured that out?
It feels like my desire to be an engaged citizen and a well-informed voter means I just have to sift through garbage all day to find out what’s really going on. So Mitt Romney said something dumb about airplane windows, who cares? Everyone misspeaks, and as much fun as liberals had making fun of Bush’s made-up words, I think we can all agree that that was not his greatest flaw as President.
This airplane thing, or making fun of Romney’s tan, or Obama going on The View, that’s all beside the point. The point, as I see it, is this:
In two months, we’re going to elect a President whose job it is to represent the United States on the world stage. The person we elect should be the one who most shares our values about what makes America special, about what we need to do differently, about what are the best paths to progress, and where that path should lead. I like a fine orator, too, but that’s not what this is about.
To my view, here’s how it boils down, though feel free to jump in on the comments if you see it differently:
Fundamentally, Democrats believe that there is systemic inequality in America’s history that has led to widespread inequality now. The government should not be blind to that history, and should work to assist populations that have been harmed in the past as well as create a level playing field moving forward. Social ills (drug dependency, crime, teen pregnancy, etc) are the results of lack of access to education, health care, etc and should be addressed with holistic approaches to poverty reduction. Democrats believe in autonomy of person, which means that individuals have the right to find their own happiness as long as it is not at the expense of society. The government should stay out of the private sphere, which means not regulating or incentivizing sexual behavior or family structure. Democrats believe that America is stronger for its immigrant history, and that our future strength is also tied to embracing diversity by facilitating the growth and education of immigrating and struggling populations.
Fundamentally, Republicans believe that America is a country where anyone can succeed if they try hard enough. Systemic inequality is an excuse for laziness and lack of ambition. Republicans believe that those who work can earn enough to feed themselves, clothe themselves, educate themselves, and keep themselves healthy. Social ills are largely the result of individual or community weakness and lack of discipline and should be punished harshly as a deterrent to others, not rewarded with extra social services. Republicans believe that a free market will, in the long run, create the best solutions for all Americans, even if it leaves some behind in the short term. Republicans believe that traditional family structures are good for the health of the country, and that the government does not have a responsibility for indulging individual life choices that deviate from that model. Republicans believe that resources should be directed to American citizens first, before supporting immigrants, and that Christianity is a fundamental feature (if not explicit) of Real America.
Am I oversimplifying? Yes. Am I biased? Yes. Does this do a disservice to some Democrats and some Republicans? Yes. But reading between all the silly b.s. about talk-shows, tanner, airplane windows, this is what I hear from both sides. The Americas they envision are very different places, and this election shouldn’t be about who flubs the fewest interview lines, whose wife is a better mom, who has the most adorable children, but about what you envision for 21st century America.
But, alas, I don’t make the rules.
Related Post: The fundamental political issue: sex.
Related Post: Huffington Post and the changing iconography of the abortion debate.
For the second time ever, the featured interviewee of my jobs series So What Do You Do Exactly? is a dude! Yay for diversity! This is Kevin. Kevin works at the JFK Library Foundation in Boston live-tweeting things, writing things, planning things, and trying to understand why people are so fascinated by JFK eating an ice cream cone.
What’s your actual title? Communications Associate at the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation
What would your title be if it actually described what you do all day? Something like Communications/Development/Events/Research/ Administrative Assistant. We have a ton of things going on as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the JFK Administration, so we have a lot of cross-departmental cooperation
Describe a sample day: My days can vary greatly depending on the type of project we’re working on at the time. Last week I got to work at 6:45 so I could shoot photos and video of Freedom 7, the space capsule that carried the First American into space, as it arrived at the Library. In general, I usually kick off my day by doing a quick email check, creating some content for our social media pages if we don’t have any saved, and getting administrative tasks — writing thank-you letters to donors or filing meetings notes, for example — out of the way as quickly as possible.
1. DIY: Thirteen creative solutions to one of my perennial problems: where do I put all my books? From Ecosalon.
2. FLIGHT: BBC has a badass gallery of photos of Ghana’s female pilots. What have YOU been learning in your spare time?
3. PRESIDENT: After a conservative pundit referred to Obama as a “metrosexual” President (as if that’s a bad thing…) Mother Jones put together a list of the 43 other metrosexual presidents.
4. GAME: Totally mesmerizing ten-minute short film by Jay Cheel about the politics within a group of friends as the addictive board game Settlers of Catan gets the better of them.
5. PIN-UP: The Rumpus interviews burlesque performer and red carpet regular Dita Von Teese.
6. THRONES: Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin pokes fun at his most aggressively zealous fans on his LiveJournal. And yes, he has a LiveJournal.
Related Post: Sunday 59: Child psychopaths, Michelle Obama’s mistake, Kickstarter successes.
Related Post: Sunday 58: Facebook vs. Instagram, interview with Alison Bechdel, ten most read books on the planet.
Last Easter, I got a tad overly enthuasiastic about Easter egg decoration, so this year I saved my geeky freak out for something truly deserving: The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, IL.
If you’ve been to many a museum, as I have, you know the difference between a museum that fosters conversation, presents controversial history maturely, appeals to different learning styles, and makes academic content seem fresh and exciting, and a museum that is essentially a bunch of laminated post-it notes. This museum was most definitely the former.
Take a minute and guess how many people died in the Civil War, both sides combined. Perhaps this figure was imprinted on your brain in elementary school, but I missed the boat on the sheer magnitude of death. My guess would have been about 200,000 (which seems astronomically high). The actual tally is about 1.3 million. MILLION. And to make that number stick in your heart and not just your head, you sit on a bench and watch a four minute play-by-play as the body count climbs into six, then seven digits. It’s brutal, but effective.
To understand the election of 1860, the late Tim Russert explains the four candidates and their platforms in contemporary terms. There are even faux campaign ads.
And the wax figurines! Creepy? A bit, but also amazing! Some photos to capture the trip:
Related Post: Patriot’s Day in MA.
Related Post: How NOT to teach eighth grade history.
In all the (deserved) hoopla about the documentary Miss Representation I somehow missed the fact that the writer, director, and producer of the film was Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of the Lt. Governor of California, Gavin Newsom.
A little birdie sent me her Ted Talk about what inspired her to make the film. She’s not a stellar speaker, but she hits her stride after a few minutes and her message is loud and clear. Her unique position in Hollywood (she’s an actress whose agent told her to take her MBA off her resume) and politics makes for some pretty disturbing anecdotes. My favorite (by which I mean most nausea-inducing) is Newsom’s anecdote about receiving congratulatory letters and gifts from the President and the VP for her son, but not her daughter.
Other highlight: “shows like Jersey Shores.”
Related Post: A Ted Talk about washing machines.
Related Post: Sarah Palin’s sexual history is apparently fair game?
It’s gallery day (read: lazy day). Four galleries of awesome images:
…. In case you’re wondering what Norman Mailer’s 2.5 million apartment looked like (Hint: Awesome).
…. In case you’ve been dying to peek inside 75 abandoned American theaters (Hint: haunting/beautiful)
…. In case you missed the amazing Situation Room photos from Sunday night, the White House has a flickr stream, who knew? (Hint: Probably a lot of people)
Related Post: One of my favorite essays about Obama, “Dream City.”
Related Post: Check out this guy’s gallery for insane lego art.