Monday, February 21 2005
This morning the houseguests were sitting around the fire talking about the Bush administration's recent push to establish private social security accounts, one of many steps necessary to roll back the American social welfare system built since the sun-dappled pre-modern days of Herbert Hoover. I'd read various things about this plan and when I felt the ongoing conversation lacked enough information, I tried to make a contribution about why it is that investments in the stock market can't be counted on to increase in value, particularly when everyone's money is being invested into it. But then in the part of the paragraph where I had to explain why this was, I found myself choking. I mean, my brain had absolutely nothing for my mouth to say, and there was an embarrassing silence of something like seven seconds as I searched my synapses for something to say. Mind you, I've been reading Krugman and I really should have had a paragraph all cued up. I've had this happen to me before, usually when I'm under stress, usually in work-related situations. But in this case I was just hanging out with friends. I suppose I had a bit of an inferiority complex because they all have real jobs down in the City and I've been feeling kind of subintellectual lately what with the sad use I've been making of my abundant leisure time. Furthermore, something about the ambience of the moment was such that I felt almost like an interloper in my own home. Gretchen was preparing a lavish brunch while I sat at the kitchen table with my laptop executing a tight and generally dismal cycle through my favorite websites. Finally, though it's never useful to assign blame to addictions, I'd yet to have my first cup of morning coffee. (I'm a little sad that I didn't discover the joys of a full blown caffeine addiction until I was in my 20s.)
A fair amount of snow had fallen last night, and we (the men of the house) did the work of shoveling out the driveway. This was important because today Gretchen had to work and the guests had to drive back down to the City. It wasn't a difficult species of snow to shovel, but we had the good luck of doing our shoveling before the snow began to melt. Later this afternoon I had a conversation with one of our Tillson friends on the phone and she said she'd had a hell of a time getting her shovel to release its payload of snow. She'd go to throw it out of the way and its inertia would try to yank her arm out of its socket. The solution to this problem, as it materialized in the course of our conversation, was a little lever you pull on the handle of the snow shovel that wipes a wire across its blade and frees the snow, just like on a mechanical ice cream scoop.
Supposedly this is the ad created by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth crowd in their effort to attack the AARP:
The very fact that such a well-funded ad campaign would generate such a transparently demagogueish commercial says something deeply depressing about our society. I'd normally be inclined to find the commercial hilarious, but if smart Republican money is betting on it being effective, it probably will be. If that's where we are in 2005, the American experiment doesn't deserve to survive.
Of course, ads like that work both ways. All one can hope to do is sew further confusion in the minds of the easily confused.
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