I’m back, and I’m mad

I’m back and I’m mad.

I hate that feeling when I stop and censor myself and only post something to friends instead of public, because I’m afraid of someone from work facebook creeping my public profile and it affecting my job security, because I work in a conservative state for conservative clients and… Argh.

There’s a thing on Facebook where people are mass checking in at Standing Rock to ruin it being used by police against DAPL protestors, and I wanted to participate. Doesn’t seem like it’d be a bit deal, right? But Oklahoma is where oil is King, and being associated with that might not be a wise choice, you know? I mean, it’s probably not a big deal, but then I go thinking about how we can’t afford for me to lose my job, that I have a family I have to provide for, and I feel guilty because safeguarding my ability to provide for my family is more important to me than my activism and I feel like I’m part of the problem rather than the solution but that doesn’t change my decision because I DO know which is more important to me.

Then I get angry because we live in a world where there are basically zero legal barriers to firing me for my politics, and little enough safety net to catch us if I did get fired for it until I found a new job.

So I wanted to vent. Not that I have time, which is why I stopped in the first place, but I’m going to give this blog another shot and use this instead. For whatever that’s worth.

-VoG

Sanders and other recent events

Skived off work before Super Tuesday to go to a Sanders rally in a neighboring city in Oklahoma. Exhausting, strenuous (the last rally I went to, I was a very small child and was carried. I didn’t realize how much standing or sitting on concrete there was.), and stressful. As gratifying as crowds chanting ‘break them up’ is, when your paycheck ultimately comes from banks, it makes you nervous about being associated with it. Got to see him speak from a few feet away though, after the rally. I’d talk about how exciting it was to see so many supporters and how many there were, but he won the primary in Oklahoma so it feels a little redundant.

Watched the debate with Wee Fierce Beastie and liveblogged it, but I need to see about a more public medium for it for me. She has plenty of readers on Facebook, but mostly my liveblogging is read by her. WordPress is a bit time consuming for snap posts and they get a bit spammy anyways. Considering twitter, I did set up @voiceoftheguard, which I’m impressed was available.

I think this was the best debate yet. Sanders pissed me off being alarmist about destroying the American gun manufacturing industry if we regulate it too heavily (…so where’s the downside? I jest…except I’m kind of not). Clinton pissed me off for a variety of reasons. Defending corporate welfare (The State Department is Boeing’s international sales division, and just because everyone else does it doesn’t mean it’s right for us to do it too), evading calls for her to release her Wall Street paid speeches (Sanders isn’t refusing to release his speeches to Wall Street, saying you’ll release them when everyone else does the same is a bullshit dodge, Clinton), and, near and dear to every Oklahoman, fracking. Not a word about earthquakes, just saying local communities should be able to ban it (great, except when the next county over doesn’t and the earthquakes don’t respect our local political boundaries), methane emissions (doesn’t do anything to stop it from happening here), and releasing a full list of chemicals they put into the fracking fluid (I don’t give a damn. I fully acknowledge that pumping it deep enough, with impermeable strata between it and aquifers will keep it from contaminating our water tables. Now, keeping it from compromising our bedrock, I don’t see how that helps.)

Bernie is doing well with delegate counts, though. 471 to Clinton’s 658, once you skip superdelegates which shouldn’t be counted at this point. There are just under three thousand delegates still up for grabs, this primary fight is far from over.

-VoG

Changing tastes

Re-reading authors you’ve liked for a long time can be weird when they’re kind of political writers. Reading some of John Ringo’s arguably less political writing, the ‘Troy Rising’ series, for, oh, the…seventh time, I think, and some of the subtler political barbs are bugging me more. John Ringo confuses me sometimes. Military fiction and military sci-fi, a certain degree of pro-military/hawkish politics is probably inevitable, or at least difficult to avoid. You write a scenario wherein military action is justified, unless you’re telling a very specific kind of story.

Ringo confuses me because he’s clearly conservative, but he’s difficult to peg as a conservative. He doesn’t seem to be extremely socially conservative (I can’t really call him socially progressive. He seems apathetic about gay people, for the most part, not hostile, but certainly not terribly concerned about justice for them, either.), but while economically conservative, he seems to be more comfortable with things like taxation and compassion than you usually see from more hardcore economic conservatives. Yet at times he’s been rabidly anti-liberal in his writing, so I’m not sure I buy that he’s just adopting the native clothing among Baen’s fairly heavily conservative reader base. The problem is his criticisms of liberals tend to be stereotypical, unsupported, and very, very non-specific.

It comes across like the unquestioned belief accepted from one’s rearing and peers that the ‘other’ is bad, even though that doesn’t mesh with your own views. It just feels unexamined and that makes me a little sad.

David Weber can be a little problematic in similar respects but honestly rarely bothers me to the same degree. The People’s Republic of Haven comes to mind, but as a portrayal of a welfare state run amok it really comes across almost as parody to my mind, more a device created to fill a need plausibly than a statement that this is the inevitable fate of any attempt at social welfare.

-VoG

The Disability Gulag

The Disability Gulag

This one tugged on my heartstrings a bit.

It’s a piece written by a woman with neuromuscular disease discussing the way the American healthcare system strips disabled people of autonomy and the right to make decisions over their lives and their bodies. A woman’s struggle throughout her life to avoid ‘disability gulag’, ended up in a state-funded nursing home, where her nurses are chosen by others, treat her according to a nursing plan written by others, and basically render you trapped with no control over your daily life or your body (Eg, your hair will be cut short for their convenience. You’ll be seen naked by people you didn’t choose every time you have to use the bathroom. And on, and on.) It’s a never ending battle, trying to get the assistance you need out of private funds because Medicaid finds it easiest just to put people like her in those same nursing homes, but if her health deteriorates, or she can’t manage the resources necessary to pay for the help she has to have to live, that’s where she’ll end up. Every day of her life, from childhood onward.

I had a moment of visceral fear, when reading about her going to consult with administrators at a state-run institution, and then having lunch with some friends she knew as a child in school who ended up there at the facility…where a staff member mistakes her for a new patient, and she flatly panics, a panic reaction urge to scream, but knowing if she throws a fit things will get so much worse, and so she just freezes, until one of her friends, a gentleman with cerebral palsy, comes to her aid, and convinces the nurse that she can’t be a patient, look, she has long hair, she’s wearing jewelry.

Harriet McBryde Johnson was an American author, attorney, and disability rights activist.

Johnson died at home on June 4, 2008.

 

So what is the Glass-Steagall Act?

What Is Glass-Steagall? The 82-Year-Old Banking Law That Stirred the Debate

Plenty of mention of this in the recent Dem debates. A pretty good breakdown of what it is. Basically, in the depths of the Great Depression, Congress passed a law saying that banks that people put their life savings in, should not be allowed to try to make money by gambling on the stock market. That’s the really simplified version and the article does a lot better at explaining it.

‘The Big Short,’ and Krugman

‘The Big Short,’ Housing Bubbles and Retold Lies

I saw The Big Short with Wee Fierce Beastie the other day, and yes, that’s our idea of a date night. A pretty good one.

Spoiler: I emphatically recommend this movie.

For those of you who have no idea what this movie is: It’s a story of the housing bubble bursting back in ’07-’08. It’s a movie about few groups of outsiders on the fringes of the Wall Street world realizing before anyone else that the housing market is turning into a giant bubble, and maneuvering to make a killing off of it when it finally bursts, in the face of much of the rest of the world thinking they’re flatly insane.

It’s educational, and despite that, it isn’t boring, and it is a lot of fun.

It was good. While I’m an econ nerd, I think most people would find it pretty entertaining. Don’t expect action, but it’s funny, it’s accessible, and who doesn’t enjoy foul-mouthed biting sarcasm, and plots to become fabulously, fantastically wealthy? In a way, it almost comes across as a heist movie, but a skewed one. There isn’t anything illegal in what the protagonists are doing, if anything, they’re profiting from the loss of those who are breaking the law, or at least behaving very unethically.

I’m in the age bracket to remember the housing bubble and the market crash, but not old enough to have really been able to relate to it, I lacked life experiences with mortgages, debt, etc, and it didn’t really directly affect me, nor did I at any sort of deep level understand what was happening.

So I really got a lot out of this. I think anyone who’s heard of the crash and had any experience with it’s consequences (Eg, been an adult in the last eight years or so) will too, especially if you DON’T know a lot about the events of the movie or how it all worked. They do a great job of explaining any time they start getting technical or confusing, interrupting the movie on an irregular basis for an interlude with Margot Robbie in a bubble bath, drinking champagne, explaining the term ‘sub-prime’ before telling you to ‘fuck off’ so she can finish her bath, or Selena Gomez doing an excellent job of illustrating what a ‘synthetic collateralized debt obligation’ is.

Oh, and Krugman, one of my favorite writers, did a piece talking about the movie. He liked it. He contends that it’s substantially accurate in the significant details (Context: Paul Krugman is a Nobel-winning economist with a PhD in economics from MIT who writes for the New York Times).

So yeah, go see The Big Short. It’s still in theaters.

-VoG