Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Is everything falling apart?

I am still fascinated with the data about where my readers (or those who bounce off this site quickly) come from and what they do when they land here. However, I now realize that by not writing about politics, or giving my posts punchy topical titles like "Rouge Cou" (which is still getting hits)the amount of traffic this blog gets has dropped. But, that makes sense, for I was never out to write about politics, as I've said.

But. . .

Avoiding the topic is difficult. What's political is indeed personal. I also spend a good deal of time reading and watching coverage of the news.

And. . .

I don't want to harp upon Palin. The blogosphere is giving this woman way more attention than she deserves. One thing I was taught when I was young that still holds up today is that one should just ignore bullies. It's like dealing with angry dogs. If you don't show fear, they won't bite. If you yell, they'll bark even louder. Just walk on by. Do not respond. I repeat: do not respond.

And really, the same goes for McCain at this point. Pointing out that he's "just more of the same" or calling him out on his lies and distortions is starting to be a waste of time. People who like him, well, they just like him. No blogger is going to change their minds.

Oddly enough, in this new small world, where people in Japan are as close to me on the web as someone down the road is, I think the way anyone is going to sway voters is the most old fashioned way: talking to your neighbors. In person.

Here's a good topic starter, which I discovered by accident the other day while going grocery shopping with (an actual neighbor, no less): "Did you know that the price of a barrel of oil is back down to around a hundred dollars?"

This question, which was posed innocently while we were passing a gas station, was answered with, "Yes, I heard that. Why haven't gas prices gone down more?" The conversation then turned to how gas prices seemed to shoot up every day as the price of crude oil went up, but now that it's going down, there isn't the same level of volatility (and no, the world volatility was not uttered).

Of course there is a lot more nuance to the reasons why the price of oil at the pump fluctuates, escalates (or plummets, like that'll ever happen again). However, this simple observation is thought provoking. It causes a sense of suspicion that there is more going on they we are being told.

This is the way to raise some doubts. Here in rural Maine, a good amount of people do not like so-called liberals, but they dislike being taken for fools even more. And if it starts to look like the entire Republican party is to blame for the economic mess we're in, people will change their minds about McCain. The thing is, and it's something the pundits don't seem to get, is that even though folks have a fairly low opinion of Bush, they don't think it has anything to do with the Republican party as a whole.

Right now, today, we can point to a whole host of problems that are very real that McCain doesn't think we should be concerned with. These things are on peoples' minds. Huge companies are filing for bankruptcy while their CEOs stay rich. The price of gas at the pump is not going down. The price of groceries seems to go up every week.

So much of this stuff is just not talked about by the pundits. They point to McCain (as did Obama) and say he must be out of touch because he doesn't even know how many houses he has. This may be true, but I think all of them are out of touch, including the analysts and reporters.

What do average people think when a large credit company fails? If the average person can't pay a credit card bill on a given month, they have to pay all sorts of late fees that make it even harder to pay, and if this happens more than once, their interest rates can go as high as nearly 35% (which is basically legal loan sharking). But when the credit companies have a bad month, they just write it off (until things get so bad they have to bail).

None of what I'm writing is nuanced in the least, and I mean that to be so, for this is what people are thinking about and the way they're thinking it (and that includes me). Y'know, putting aside my feelings about any of the candidates, it strikes me that none of them know how to find the right balance between BSing people with empty promises and wonky political talk. This seems absurd. What is the problem?

As you probably guessed, I'm neither a political or economic analyst, so I still feel I should try to stay away from these issues. I think, "I'm trying to write things that are relevant to depression, though in a tangential way." Okay, I admit that I usually don't think in such complete sentences, but you get the idea.

But. . .

I am sure that this political season is affecting all of our moods, and so, if for that alone, it is relevant.

Painting note: Robert Rauschenberg, Darryl Pottorf,
A Quattro Mani IV, 1996
Sometimes I have no idea why I choose what I do top off these posts. Other times I do, but don't want to explain. I actually believe I'm doing some sort of service by posting images that aren't generally in popular culture - am I kidding myself?

Btw, the post title is another good conversation starter, if you need suggestions.
And the Japanese writing is a little surprise that hopefully we'll see a response to.


Websafe said...

(Pleased with self -- guessed the Rauschenberg)

Websafe said...

"Volatility!" (There -- I have uttered it!)

Julie H. Rose said...

Gasp! "Volatility!"

I wouldn't have guessed the other artist either. He was Rauschengerg's assistant, so calling this a collaboration, well. . .I don't know.

I have always liked Rauschenberg a lot, but have never been able to explain why.