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October 19, 2005
Rainy Day Blogging

I'm in an awfully good mood today.

It seems rather a pity to spoil it by checking the headlines and seeing what's going on in the world, but maybe the world will exceed my expectations and things will be going well?

To begin, word of mouth tells me that Ehrenreich's new book is an even worse representation of the "middle" class than her first one was of the "working poor." (I will be reading it, I just haven't read it yet.)

Me, I don't think the "middle" class is largely populated with PR people making $100-$150k a year, which is how she was presenting herself in her latest push to prove that you can't get a decent job in Amerika but whatever. She is, at the very least, a voice speaking up, loud and strong, for the majority in this country, and for that I can forgive her what I consider to be failings of methodology in her experiments. When I read interviews with her, I'm always very impressed, which is why I'm linking to this one. If I needed an excuse.

Speaking of the working poor, and going undercover to investigate their lives, take a look at this. Tom Meagher's story is here and it's a Must-Read.

I still say Congress should never get a pay raise unless the minimum wage goes up, but no one cares what I think.

I'm of two minds about whether or not senior federal executives should be awarded big bonuses as the deficit eplodes and the economy crumbles around us, but a lot of these people are career civil service...they're just people doing a job and are entitled to raises like any civilian worker. If we ask them not to take bonuses, we should expect non-government executives to show similar bouts of conscience and that's not going to happen.

If you're from Louisiana and you're rich? You can go home again.

On the topic of abusing the poor, let's turn our attention to the Bush Administration...a natural segue. Having failed to turn Saddam Hussein and Iraq into a monolithic enemy that they could battle la the Evil Empire, they've found a different group of (brown) people they want to mold into an enemy they can rally the troops 'round (and, not incidentally, push their own criminal and ethical failings to the background).

I don't normally cite the WashTimes but "Bush vows to oust 'every single' illegal" was a headline I couldn't resist.

President Bush said yesterday that his goal is eventually to expel "every single" illegal alien from the United States as his administration pressed Congress to pass a guest-worker program.

I'm sure I don't have to explain to you that illegal aliens in this country do the jobs that most of us are too finicky to take on. Thus, they pick our crops, work in our warehouses, clean our hotel rooms, wash our restaurant dishes, and mind our children.

And I'm sure I don't have to explain to you that:

(a) A "guest worker" program big enough to process enough people to do these jobs would mean a hugely increased federal government department for dealing with them; and this is being proposed by the "smaller government" side of the political spectrum; and

(b) If we don't have "guest workers"...someone in the USofA is going to have to do these jobs. What's your guess? Pressure on welfare families to take janitorial and housekeeping jobs? Forced labor from prisoners or parolees? (A choice of "mop floors for three years or do three years of hard time>) Does the Bush Administration fantasize about emptying our ghettos into the kitchens and broom closets of America? What precisely are they thinking? Are they thinking at all? Can they think?

And, speaking of depressing, I see the Bush Administration is still at it with "yet another in a long string of crony nominations of unqualified individuals for critical positions".

Read a too-short but very thought-provoking discussion of Moral Hysteria and the Persecution of Difference?

Originally pro-war (in Iraq) "by a whisker", George Packer takes a look at what we have wrought.

For now, and into the foreseeable future, U.S. interests have been badly damaged by the fighting in Iraq. The war has been a disaster for our military, which has suffered grievous death and injury, lost a measure of its honor at Abu Ghraib and been overextended to the point where withdrawal might become necessary simply for lack of available troops.

We've done good in Iraq, haven't we? Apparently they're now Number One! The most corrupt country in the Middle East.

I know we all know that the Bush Administration has been twisting arms, offering bribes, and threatening punishment in an attempt to force the world to grant USofA soldiers immunity from any prosecution for any war crimes committed at any time in any place, right? Spain doesn't care.

Spain orders arrest of US troops

A Spanish judge has issued an international arrest order for three US soldiers over the shelling of a Baghdad hotel that killed a cameraman.

For sheer nerve, this opening paragraph takes the prize for its bland indifference to means, methods, causes, or effects:

With their backs against the wall on a series of upcoming spending votes, Republican House leaders went on the offensive yesterday, hoping to pressure Democrats to support their effort to reduce the deficit.

I'm just...speechless.

Reach for your checkbook. Your taxes may be about to skyrocket. (But, you know, not. Bush isn't popular enough in his own family these days to get something like that passed. However. For the record? I'm in favor of simplifying the tax code, starting with the myriads of deductions and exemptions offered primarily to rich people and multinational corporations.)

Rice Wants to Follow Afghan Model in Iraq Considering that Afghanistan is widely reported to be falling back under the control of factions of competing warlords, color me underwhelmed by this grand plan.

Whoosh An hour later, my good mood isn't even a memory.

I went and soothed myself with art.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:11 AM


Wow, $100K? I'd be happy to be making HALF that! That's definitely upper-class, not middle-class (unless you're talking about a one-income family, in which case it might be the upper end of the middle-class bracket).

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at October 19, 2005 03:22 PM

Tell me about it. I was actually very interested to hear she was going to repeat the "Nickeled and Dimed" scenario in the middle-class "white collar" world but where I come from, PR/Marketing jobs at $100+ don't qualify as "middle-class."

In my world that qualifes as upper middle class and thus not where the Vast Majority of us white-collar workers are hanging out.

And then...when she couldn't find a job (largely because she ignored the common-sense approaches people who actually work in that industry use to find employment, as I understand it) did she change her strategy and her target? Nope. She just complained about not finding a job.

But, as I said, I do appreciate her as a voice who managed to get a lot of people talking about the plight of the poor in this country. I just wish...I don't know. I just wish there was more depth in what she does.

Do read the Meagher story. It's even shorter, but at least it's another perspective on life as a poor person in George Bush's Amerika.

(Okay, that was a cheap shot. The plight of the poor is something this country has needed to address honestly and firmly for a long time.)

Posted by: Anne at October 19, 2005 04:23 PM