Posts Tagged ‘Voting


Trickle-Down Down

The finer points of economic theories have eluded me for most of my life. I’ve had enough book learning to understand that supply-vs-demand graph, but it pretty much ends there.

It’s a shame, really, because so much of what drives the current political debate is supposedly about the economy. And I know a lot of it has to be bullshit, but I don’t know enough to know what not to believe. So I usually dismiss most of it as political clap trap. Doesn’t matter what either party says on the campaign trail. Chances are it’s not going to happen anyway.

When I hear Republicans and Tea Partiers hammer away at their small-government/cut-taxes/create-jobs dogma, it makes me wonder if they’re as interested in the truth about how the world really works as they are in convenient populist political ideology.

So I got curious about that tent post of the Right, the axiom that, above all else, cutting taxes is an absolute guarantee of job growth. Is this true? Can it be proved?

Continue reading ‘Trickle-Down Down’


Of Coffee and Donuts and Half-Eaten Hoagies

On Election Day, I always have a soft spot in my heart for the volunteers working the polls. Every polling station has some variation of the same thing: a half dozen retirees, sitting on folding chairs, stationed at folding tables, a box of a dozen donuts on one side, a slowly cooling polystyrene cup of coffee on the other. They look over the rims of their glasses at you. They squint in the dull fluorescent, sometimes gently flickering, light.

Whatcha last name, hon?

Continue reading ‘Of Coffee and Donuts and Half-Eaten Hoagies’


Star Wars, or Whatever

Here’s another cop-out embedded-video post. But it is hilarious.

It’s a retelling of the original three Star Wars movies by someone who has never seen any of them in their entirety. This woman has only a very shady passing knowledge of story. She gets some details right on, but she is way off in some other areas.

These movies are part of the Fabric of American Identity, or whatever. Everybody knows something about Star Wars.

I want to go to the bar planet!

I often wonder what sort of empty lives are lived by people who never saw Star Wars. It must be like a form of torture. Someone ought to tell Eric Holder about it.


Water Pressure

“I’ll tell you something for nothing,” the bartender said. “You want to buy water.”

“Water,” I said.

“It’s the cheapest thing we sell. And you don’t have to finish it here. You can take it with you.”

I considered what he was saying, fingering the label on my $6 beer. “Water counts?”

“Sure. I tell you what. Towards the end of this competition, people are buying whole cases of water and taking them home with them.”

A friend of mine is competing in an American Idol-style singing competition at the venerable old, historic Stonewall Inn. It’s a little silly. A little shabby. The sound goes out at intervals. The lighting is bad. But it’s precisely that silliness, that shabbiness, that gives those West Village gay bars their charm.

Each week, someone gets eliminated based on the previous week’s voting. It’s all very democratic. Everyone in the audience can vote. And you get a ballot for every drink you buy. Every drink. So the trick, it would seem, is to round up all the drunks you can find. Finally they’ll do you some good!

The competition is real, and the contestants are talented. By and by, they reveal their strengths and their personalities. There’s a different theme every week, so everyone’s bound to expose some weaknesses, too. Over time, the competitors become friends. The same folks who come every week in support become familiar. It’s a little Wednesday night community.

So the water trick seems a little cynical to me. (Almost worse than exploiting your friends’ alcoholism!) Whole cases of water, really? Can’t we trust ourselves to suss out the winner based on talent? And do we have so little faith in our friends that we’d rather stack the deck to be safe?

These things can’t always be based on merit, can they? Sometimes a real stinker gets the votes. Sometimes the person who gets cut wasn’t the worst one. Sometimes the judges say useful, thoughtful things; and sometimes they’re more interested in getting a laugh. In the end, no matter who gets cut, it’s a love fest every time.

The closer we get to the end, I feel the heightened sense of danger that the person who ultimately wins may not actually “deserve” it. Boo-hoo. I guess in that way the competition is a very good representation of reality indeed.


Keep it Complicated, Keep it Real

The most interesting thing about this election cycle — apart from historical significance of the Democratic party putting its hopes and dreams into a race between an African-American man and a former First Lady — is that for the first time in my lifetime the Primaries matter.

Whether you want Obama or Clinton, it’s good to have the debate. I’m sick of people who are saying one or the other should just give up. I think my Clinton-supporting friend’s exact words the other night were “The Democrats need to wake the fuck up.”

But this is naïve and oversimple and short-sighted.

I may have voted for Clinton, but I’m glad Obama is in this. It’s good to have a real race. This is how it’s supposed to work. It’s those years where it’s all sewn up months before the conventions that are the anomalies. Nothing can be taken for granted.


“Let me see, kid… Republican, Democrat or gay?”

Just before my husband voted yesterday, one of the ancient poll workers was chatting him up.

“McMillan!” he said, looking at his last name. “Ah… like McMillan and Wife.”

“I can’t believe he turned out to be a homosexual,” said a woman.

Another woman spoke up. “It seems like everyone is. There’s 10 million of ’em.”

“It’s terrible,” said another. And everyone at the table murmured and shook their heads.

Truly, you never know where one will end up. Maybe even right in front of you. Trying to vote. Doing his civic duty. Well, way to go, old folks! You’ve just committed voter intimidation.

But what’s Jeff going to do — yell at an old man? His calling the election board to report the situation was probably more effective. And by that, unfortunately, I mean “probably not effective at all.”

Is the board really going to screen for anti-gay bias? They should. Would it be acceptable for one of them to spout off their views on a racial or ethnic minority? About women’s rights? Never. Especially on a Primary day, when every citizen can cast an equal vote.


Red, White and Blur

It’s a good day for Democrats.

Still, I can’t help but wonder if it’s more due to the success of Democratic campaigns or the failures of the Republicans. I’m not sure that it matters, frankly. The next two years are going to be tough with a blue Congress and a red Administration.

I certainly hope the Democrats win the senate by gaining seats in Virginia and Montana. However, no matter what happens, I’d rather see them stay red than be mired in recounts. Despite whatever sweeping changes we think we may be seeing in this mid-term election year, VA and MT are like splashes of cold water reminding us that this country is still rather sharply and evenly divided.

Mid-term elections are more fascinating to me than presidential election years.


Election Volunteers

I think the charming lady who helped me at my polling place yesterday was the same woman who helped me on Primary day a few months ago. I wonder if she always works at the 25th district polling station.

After thanking someone in Spanish for voting, she told me that one of her many nephews is also named Eric and that he is a lawyer in California.

I love these little old ladies, sentinels of democracy, who guide voters through primary school gymnasia and church community rooms across the country, drawing back that plastic curtain, gazing hopefully up at us through heavy eyewear.

I love the gatherings of two or three neighbors, sometimes with a baby carriage, usually with a coffee, catching up on gossip and grandkids.

I love pulling that lever — clank! — flipping all the switches — fft! fft! fft! — and pulling that lever back — clunk!. The sound of voting is so satisfying. I hope we don’t ever go digital in my district. How ever then would the little old ladies be able to help us?


Citizen Sane

I always leave the voting booth with a deep sense of satisfaction. I nearly whistled as I walked home. Voting is the most basic of our panoply of rights, and I’m always proud of, and grateful for, my excursions to my polling place. Even for a primary. It’s so easy to do, yet turnout — especially on primary days — is notoriously low among our complacent populace. People are dumb. What can I say?

Today felt especially good in contrast with yesterday’s day-long mourning. (September 11, 2001, was a voting day, remember?)

America has alternated between sticking its head in the sand and up its ass since then. Sand. Ass. Sand. Ass.

Let’s hope the votes count.

the untallied hours