Thursday, August 25, 2005

Vacation Keeps Going and Going

My "vacation" is ending now, and I can bet you I read more books than the president did. I have to get back to work in a minute, but here's a couple of things.
I watched "Real Time" w/Bill Maher last night in hopes of seeing Cindy Sheehan, I did get to see Paul Hackett, but then had to suffer through Kellyanne Conway, who's got to be either the most devious, or the most misinformed person in the media world, Phyllis Schlafly, Asa Hutchison, and Chris Rock, whose occasional jibes about gas prices seemed to indicate that he found the entire conversation a huge waste of his time. I hope he gets some good material about enduring the "discussion" on this show for a future appearance.
I was incensed by that idiot, Conway, almost as much as I am by her buddies Coulter and Malkin. She actually said that women in Iraq were liberated from Burkas. Then, when Maher pointed out that before the occupation, women in Iraq had never worn burkas, Hutchison accused him of supporting Saddam. "Funny," I thought, "it's for that very reason, or at least sort of, that the US supported Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war; the enemies of my enemies are my "friends." Yes, Mr. Hussein, take all the chemical weapons you want.
If there's one thing that people should know, besides the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the lack of ties between Iraq and Bin Laden, is the fact that the place wasn't (until now) an Islamic fundamentalist state.
Another wacko comment from Conway came as a defense of Bush's long vacations. Americans are unique in this way, she suggested: don't know how to relax, she said, Americans don't know how to take vacations. silly, silly Americans. If the president isn't prioritizing his job, why should you?


sf_gary said...

Oh, to be a French surrender monkey! No (current) war on my national conscience, 6 weeks of vacation per year, a passport that lets me work anywhere in Europe...

"But aren't you proud and grateful to be an American?" the flag wavers ask. Proud? No. Even if I was looking for things to be proud of I wouldn't choose an accident of my birth. Grateful? Well, yeah, I'm grateful for a lot of things. But it seems like all Americans can point to with special gratitude, other than bromides, is the ability America affords to get rich. If getting rich is what defines one's happiness then America is the place to be.

But what about those of us who don't care to be rich? A few more weeks vacation every year instead of a plasma TV, perhaps? Could it be true that Americans prefer "things" to experiences? It looks that way to me. Maybe that's what we've been taught. I do contract work and use the money to travel, a choice that anyone can make - it all depends on one's attachment to comfort. I'd rather sleep on a cot in a guesthouse in Gangotri than a featherbed in a mansion paid for by my slavery to earning money. Couldn't most of us make that choice?

reb said...

I don't think so. People who work at Walmart and other, similar low wage jobs can't take long vacations because they wouldn't be able to pay rent if they did.

sf_gary said...

I understand that argument. I understand that people feel trapped by the unfair system. But I'm not talking about the $10/hour clerk at Walmart. Sad to say, I don't know any of them. I was a $5/hour clerk at Rich's Department Stores in Atlanta, and instead of buying into a system where I work my ass off for 50 years, taking one week off a year to go to the lake, I chose less apparent security via contract work. I chose less upward mobility (or really, less apparent upward mobility) in order to have more freedom.

This is not an argument that we should leave the Walmarts of the world to do as they please, with the rationale being that the employees have chosen their poison. The handful of people getting rich via Walmart are a blight on humanity. How can they enjoy their obscene wealth while the people who do the work for them have to go without health insurance? The wealth of those lucky winners is just Marx's excess value of labor - in this case, value stolen from both the workers and the state (via health costs).

But I'm not elitist enough to say that Walmart employees need me to protect them. They need to protect themselves. No jobs in your community except Walmart jobs? Hitch a ride to a real city and get a better job. Will there be hardships? Yes. And that's the rub - Walmart employees prefer the crappy deal they get from Walmart to the uncertainty of making things happen on their own. And, if anyone cares, I respect that. A lot of people will put up with bad lives so they can send their kids to a "good" school or keep going to the church they grew up in. But it's their choice.

America isn't screwed up because of the politics - the politics is screwed up because of Americans. The first person I blame for my problems is myself, which I now understand is anti-American (re: the vitriol hurled at "blame-America-firsters"). Since the problem is the people I can't see any fixing it through politics (it might be obvious here that I disagreed with the whole premise of "polisci 201" back in the day, other than "the prime directive of any institution is to perpetuate itself").

So it's not about long vacations. It's about choosing better lives... which are available.

Of course, it would help if we could all renounce our whiteness. No joke. You're spot on there.