Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Category: politics (page 1 of 7)

Reading Omens in a Caracara’s Plumage

Yesterday morning, I got to work unusually early. I didn’t get up any earlier; I just moved a little a faster getting ready. It wasn’t intentional, but sometimes that happens. I even stopped for coffee, and still I was at work before the sun was up, well, I would have been if the sun had come up, but it was a nice cold drizzly morning so there was no sun, just the good crisp early dark.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw a crested caracara swoop over the lot and across the road right in front of me. I slowed down to watch him soar out over the fields near the building, gaining altitude and quickly becoming nothing more than a dark point in the gray expanse of sky.

I don’t see caracaras often, and I’ve never seen one around where I work. I’ve seen a lot of interesting birds around the building, but this was kind of a treat. As I watched him fly away, I couldn’t help but think of the previous night’s election and wonder what sort of meaning might have been read into the appearance of such a beautiful raptor. Good omen or ill?

I’m not one to take stock in omens, but the idea of reading our hopes and fears and finding either solace or justification in some bird’s random passing fascinates me. Perhaps the crested caracara’s black and white coloration could represent the newly divided nature of our government. Perhaps the bird’s powerful flight could imply that with divided government we can soar over all our problems.

Or maybe it’s a warning about the modern conservative penchant for viewing the world in black and white. Perhaps I should have looked for some gray birds: a mourning dove or scissor-tailed flycatcher. Most of the scissor-tails have already fled the country, though.

On the other hand, this bird is known colloquially as the Mexican eagle. So maybe its northbound flight across the field symbolizes illegal immigrants, and predatory ones at that, sneaking through the dawn into our country to destroy our culture and do all the other horrible things the right wing expects.

Speaking of wings, the bird did have both a healthy and functioning right and left wing. Neither one was dominant, and that circles me back (hopefully not too much like a vulture which I also saw an unusual number of yesterday) to that divided government thing. I do generally prefer divided government. Perhaps that’s a function of having once been a debate coach playing with my mostly optimistic nature.

I watched the bird disappear, feeling a little sorry for the poor guy for all the burdens I’d just laid on his shoulders, I mean, he’s just a bird trying to find something to eat in a world where such meals must seem increasingly scarce to a hunter like him. I wondered if our newly elected Republican house had any member who would worry themselves over wildlife and healthy ecosystems. If that wasn’t such a heartbreaking thought, I might have laughed.

In the gray predawn,
a crested caracara
swoops over the road.

Election Day

Vote Aqui

Today is election day, but I voted early as I usually do. I don’t know that I could say that I am more or less enthusiastic about voting than I have been in the past. Fortunately that doesn’t matter. Since I live in Texas and voted mostly for Democrats, my vote doesn’t really matter either. Such is the way of things here and I’m used to it. It’s why I don’t bother with my torch, pitchfork and revolutionary hat. We don’t throw our bums out in Texas.

My official for-what-it’s-worth prediction is that the Democrats will lose the house and hold the senate, which is pretty much conventional wisdom. Here in Texas, Rick Perry will win yet another term as governor, making him the longest serving Texas governor and one of the longest serving governors in US history. They say he has presidential aspirations, though I’m not sure if his aspiration is to be president of the US or a newly seceded Texas.

It is an odd choice for voters today. Vote for the Republicans who created many of the economic and budget problems we face or double down on Democrats who have demonstrated ineffectiveness in solving them. Here is the problem of a two-party system distilled: either/or without a pragmatic middle is barely a choice at all. I don’t know what the real answer is other than viable third and fourth parties. Maybe that isn’t an answer either.

As for me, I went with the Democrats this time out. I’d like to be able to take the GOP seriously, but it’s hard to get behind an anti-intellectual party that doesn’t believe in good government. It would be like going to a dentist who doesn’t believe in dentistry. Whatever happens tonight, though, I suspect I’ll be wishing for something stronger than Novocain.

Political Signs

What a Day That Was

Austin American-Statesman - Obama Victory

Austin American-Statesman - It's Obama

I’m still kind of at a loss for words other than ‘wow.’

I doubt I’ll ever forget the moment they called Ohio, and we knew it was all over as soon as the west coast polls closed. We ate the cupcakes we’d been saving for the first state to flip after we finished cheering and jumping around.

Watching the returns come in, the country slowly turning blue, reminded me of the scene in Lord of the Rings when the Ents destroyed the dam on the Isen, and the water flowed down into Isengard washing away the monstrosity of warmongering and environmental destruction that Saruman had wrought. There was still a lot to do, battles to be fought and rings to be destroyed, but you could tell things were changing.

Everything yesterday was the same. Kids to teach, dishes to do, dogs to feed, and errands to run. But I caught myself grinning like a fool when I heard the words on the radio or saw a newspaper.

President-elect Obama.

Finally, on Tuesday, the good guys won, and though everything is the same, it’s a bit different too.

I feel like our country answered to the better angels of its nature in electing someone competent, smart, and decent. A combination that’s been missing too long.

My dad has said several times this year that he hasn’t felt this way about voting since 1960. For me, this was the first time I was able to vote for a politician in whom I truly believed.

It felt good and for once I feel a little less cynical about politics than I always have. I hope Obama exceeds expectations, but his work will certainly be cut out for him. There is much to do. Many wrongs to right.

Still, for the first time in a very long time, I suddenly feel good about where our country can go. It won’t be easy and it won’t be perfect, but it’s a start and it feels good.

Once again, I feel optimistic about our government.

It’s about damn time.

Hope.

President-elect Obama nailed that one.

Wow

President Elect Obama

President Elect Obama

I guess we know what community organizers do.

Wow.

Bona Fide!

I’m not sure if I am a real American or a fake American. Sarah Palin’s recent floccinaucinihilipilification of the not so pro American parts of the country has got me thinking (and, yes, busting out the big words that any real American would never utter, by gosh wilikers!).

So, to take stock.

I live in Texas. Real America.

But I live in Austin. Fake America.

But I live in the part of Austin that’s in Williamson County. Real America with a capital A.

But I’m from Rhode Island. Fake America.

Well, that doesn’t help.

I have heard that trusty red Alabama might be considered real America. Let’s see what some of those hard-workin’ betcha by golly wow real Americans have to say about Barack Obama:

“He’s neither-nor,” said Ricky Thompson, a pipe fitter who works at a factory north of Mobile, while standing in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store just north of here. “He’s other. It’s in the Bible. Come as one. Don’t create other breeds.”

[…]

“I would think of him as I would of another of mixed race,” said Glenn Reynolds, 74, a retired textile worker in Martinsville, Va., and a former supervisor at a Goodyear plant. “God taught the children of Israel not to intermarry. You should be proud of what you are, and not intermarry.”

[…]

“He’s going to tear up the rose bushes and plant a watermelon patch,” said James Halsey, chuckling, while standing in the Wal-Mart parking lot with fellow workers in the environmental cleanup business. “I just don’t think we’ll ever have a black president.”

[…]

“I’ve always been against the blacks,” said Mr. Rowell, who is in his 70s, recalling how he was arrested for throwing firecrackers in the black section of town. But now that he has three biracial grandchildren – “it was really rough on me” – he said he had “found out they were human beings, too.”

Of course this all came from the New York Times, so take it with a grain of salt, I mean, the New York Times?!? talk about your fake America.

They did let me vote, though, and I voted for one of the pro-American candidates.

That Joker Isn’t Funny Anymore

Last night, R and I were poking around the Saturday Night Live archives on NBC.com and came across this little gem from 2000.

It’s startling how prophetic it was.

It’s still funny, but then it kind of isn’t.

Three more weeks.

The Ugly

This is awful.

Talk about never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups

The celebration of ugliness, hate and stupidity that the Republican party has become under McCain and especially Palin really is breathtaking. I hope all we’re seeing are the last throes of a dying beast, but even if they are this is not good. John McCain, at least, should be better than this.

If Obama wins (please please please let that happen) these people will dog him with the line that he’s a terrorist, a socialist, unAmerican. Of course these are the people who still like Bush. The guy who’s bringing us closer to socialism than we’ve ever been, but still, that’s different, though I don’t see how.

Fortunately, a few Republicans still have a modicum of sanity left. David Brooks:

But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.

Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts.

What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole. The liberals had coastal condescension, so the conservatives developed their own anti-elitism, with mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments, but with the same corrosive effect.

Republicans developed their own leadership style. If Democratic leaders prized deliberation and self-examination, then Republicans would govern from the gut.

How did we become a society that so easily and willingly throws out the very idea of deliberation in favor of acting solely on impulse in the manner of teenagers?

McCain and Palin are running on nothing more than fear, feeding its flames with their insistence that there’s just something not quite American about Obama. Something insidious about the man who will most likely be our next president.

If Obama is elected he will have to face this over-the-top hatred the entire time he is in office. Should John McCain somehow win in this way, how in hell does he expect to bring the country together or get a Democratic congress to work with him?

Country first, indeed.

One More Month

I haven’t been blogging political in months. Hell, I’ve barely been blogging at all for months, but now that we’re only a month out from the election, I can’t resist, not that I have been resisting, per se, but there are things to say.I voted for McCain in the 2000 primary and might very well have voted for him in the general had he been the nominee. We would have been better off.

I’ve been an Obama supporter all along this cycle, but now I’ve gone extreme.

There is a sticker on my car.

I’ve never done that because I think a politician should pay me to advertise for him or her, but with the choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, his reckless and feckless response to the Wall Street crises, his disgusting propensity to attack the man rather than the issues, my car is now an ad.

Of course, I live in Texas so it’s not an especially effective ad, but still. I think it’s important for the world to know, that I, for my part, will be doing the right thing the day early voting begins.

One especially interesting thing is that the day I went to meet the other three Democrats in Williamson County to get my sticker, I was told that while they don’t expect Obama to take the county or even the state, they can’t believe how much interest they’re getting in the local Dems. Change starts at the bottom so that’s good news.

What really needs to change is the fact that somehow we’ve come to be a country wherein being a “regular guy or gal” is somehow considered a qualifying experience for high office. There is a straight line (and ever-shortening bar) from Bush to Palin, whose stardom in the Republican Party seems to stem from her calculated ordinariness.

All I need to know about the GOP is that they think she is the future. Personally, I prefer someone who is smarter, wiser, brighter, better educated, more honest, braver, more pragmatic, more curious and more skilled than the average joe sixpack or hockey mom. The GOP, however, would like to see the least qualified set up to lead.

It’s almost got me thinking about joining a political party. One step at a time, though. I don’t think I could handle officially becoming a Democrat and putting a sticker on my car in the same year.

Even Coyotes Get the Obamamania

See my post at In the Pink Texas: Even Coyotes Get the Obamamania

Which is really just a reworking of this post and parts of this one.

Speechifyin’

Last night I watched the remaining 3 candidates give their victory/denial speeches.

First up was Clinton. She gave the denial speech. That is, denying the drubbing she took in the Potomac Primaries. A ‘congrats Senator Obama’ would have been classy. Still, I have to admire the way she’s soldiering on despite the fact that things aren’t looking quite as rosy as they once did for her. I’m rooting for Obama, but I’ll take no pleasure in seeing her lose. And, truth be told, a part of me would really like to see her give the Republicans the beating they so richly deserve.

Of course, it’s the way that kind of thinking bothers me that makes me lean toward Obama whose speech in Wisconsin was, as usual, inspiring. I could feel the energy coming through the TV, and I wasn’t even watching an HD channel. He was optimistic, classy, funny, and most importantly, acted like a nominee. He began leveling attacks at McCain, but they were of a respectful velvet-fist variety, which is what I think we can expect from Obama.

McCain followed Obama. The starkest contrast was in the visuals. Where Obama spoke before a jubilant crowd of thousands in a basketball arena, McCain spoke before a group of old white folks in what appeared to be the kind of hotel conference room that is usually reserved for high school proms. There doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for the Republican party these days, but then I guess that’s what they should expect after driving their brand into the ground. Still, listening to McCain speak, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad that he had so thoroughly hitched his wagon to Bush’s star (surely a white dwarf). I don’t think I’ll take much pleasure in seeing him lose either, but lose he must.

Speaking of McCain, someone made a clever video along the lines of the Obama video I linked to last week. It’s a nice repudiation of his let’s-stay-in-Iraq-for-1000s-of-years position. Call it the audacity of hopelessness…

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