Archive: October 2004

(2 entries)

Saturday, October 9, 2004

The conventional wisdom

Conventionally, there isn’t any wisdom, but this has not prevented use of the phrase “conventional wisdom” throughout our squalid history. It’s a troubling phrase, because it seems to suggest, “Here’s what unimaginative, borderline-sentient people would think, and I agree with them”. Such self-styled wisdom has little to recommend it. Of course, anytime someone is trying to sell you their own thoughts as “wisdom”, be as careful as if they were trying to get you to eat in a restaurant with “gourmet” in its name.

I am nervous about the upcoming election. I think the Democrats have largely fumbled it, because a reelection campaign should be a referendum on the incumbent, and they’ve allowed it to become, in many ways, a referendum on John Forbes Kerry. Let’s face facts: he can’t take that kind of scrutiny.

This is a guy whose last election campaign, to retain his seat as a Democratic senator in Massachusetts, a state that has an entirely Democratic Congressional delegation, came close to being derailed. Some people have described this positively — because Kerry came from behind to beat the guy in the end, showing he is a “closer”. But why was he ever losing? If you can’t slam dunk it as a Democrat in Massachusetts, maybe you are not a “closer” but a “loser”.

Meanwhile, the political blogs have mostly moved on, perhaps thinking there is nothing more to be done about Mr. Kerry, because he will “obviously” win. Now they are talking more and more about Ginny Schrader, a little old lady from Pennsylvania, who sees an opportunity to take a Congressional seat because the Republican incumbent retired. I don’t know what her chances of winning are, though they seem pathetic. What I do know is: who cares? We are not going to retake the House this year. It’s more likely we’d win the Senate (long shot) or the Presidency (it will be close). My fear is that on November 3 the blogs will say:

GINNY WINS! (House, Senate, Pres. remain in GOP hands)

It appears that the blogs see Ginny as a chance to be big fish in a little pond: we could get her elected. We could raise money for her. We could be heroes. Yes, it is important to be personally involved in races; yes, it is amazing how much money can be raised over the Internet now. But throughout the Dean Experience up until today, there has been a disproportionate focus on the new-found “power” of chubby white guys on the Internet, and perhaps less on picking some candidates who can resonate with the actual voters. A lot of these Internet-based white guys have never even noticed politics before. How do they know what is going to work?

The conventional wisdom is that they don’t.

by Jack, 12:34 AM | Link | Comments (0) | More from Election 2004 | More from The Damned Human Race

Friday, October 29, 2004

Diabetic Halloween presages Christmas in prison

There is a rumor going around that I will be attending Christmas in Racine this year. My sister Karin called me up the other day.

“I talked to Mom,” she said. “She wants you to start thinking about coming for Christmas.”

“It’s October,” I said. “If I start thinking now, I’ll definitely decide not to come by Christmas.”

“Well, start thinking whenever you want. But you’re supposed to come.”

“Why didn’t Mom call me herself?”

“Probably because she didn’t want you to say nasty things to her.”

I considered that for a moment, then decided to say, “Why would I do that?”

“Come on, Jack,” Karin whined, “remember last time you came out here. All Mom’s brothers and sisters came for the first time together and you got drunk and insulted all of them. You can see how she’d be a little nervous to bring up Christmas.”

I considered that too. “But now she wants me to come?”

“Yeah. Her siblings have other plans. And you know Mom. You haven’t put in any time with the family. Now it’s time.”

That’s how family works. No one wants to see each other, but that’s not an option: you’re family.

“All right, I’ll start thinking about it.”

Karin said, “Well, call me back soon.”

“All right.” We hung up.

I sat around the apartment a lot this week thinking about it. Weighing the cons. I didn’t know. Finally I called Karin back yesterday, just to get more information. Would there be gifts? I hate gifts. Would there be ceremonial dining in the middle of the day? The phone was answered by her seven-year-old son, Fred.

“Hi, Fred. It’s Uncle Jack.”

Fred tentatively said, “Hello, Uncle Jack.”

“Is your Mom around?”

“She’s in the bathtub taking a bath.”

“Aha.” I decided to stall for time. It’s hard to know what to say to old Fred. At seven years old, it is already all going to shit. This is tantamount to the Task Family Curse. “Well, what’s new, Fred?”

I could hear him thinking about what might be noteworthy enough for a long-distance call. “I went to the Halloween party.”

“Really? Already? It isn’t Halloween yet.”

“It was a special party. At the hospital.”

“Really? Why at the hospital?”

“It was for kids who are diabetic,” Fred explained reasonably.

I thought about that for a moment. “But I still got a whole bag of candy,” Fred said.

“Are you really allowed to eat candy, Fred?” I asked.

“Mommy lets me eat one piece a day, if I ask her, and she gives me an extra shot. But most days I save them.”

The thought of a diabetic eating some candy and then doubling up on insulin was reminiscent of speedballing. Shoot a bunch of cocaine and then some heroin to take the edge off. This didn’t seem to be Karin’s usual parental style.

“Well, old man, get your pleasure where you can, I say.”

“I’m not an old man, I’m a little boy,” he pointed out.

“Sort of,” I said. “Well, it looks like your Mom is having a long bath. Let her know I called, okay?”

“Okay,” Fred said, and we hung up.

I don’t know, should I go for Christmas?

by Jack, 8:51 PM | Link | Comments (0) | More from The Damned Human Race

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