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Things have been busy. Kostia and I went to Rome for a mini-vacation last week. Eventually I’ll get around to posting some pictures. It was a fun trip but even though we planned it during the only four-day window that both of us could manage to get away before the holidays, it was still a mistake for both of us to take off in the middle of the term. Just too much to do.

When I’m procrastinating, I’m obsessing over the election. Next Tuesday will be like Christmas. Hopefully there won’t be any coal in my stocking, i.e., McCain winning. Speaking of Christmas stockings, I’ll also have to post a picture of this amazing thing I found in the 1 Euro Shop in Rome.

Oh, and it’s snowing here. A lot. Instant winter, though I’m sure it will melt (and snow and melt again) before winter sets in for good. This morning Kostia said, “Ooh! We haven’t seen snow in so long!” And I said, “The last snow was in MAY. Five and a half months ago. That is NOT a long snowless season.” But I’m getting better at accepting that winter lasts six months or more here. When we went to Rome, I just couldn’t conceive that it would actually be warm somewhere in late October, and didn’t bring any shoes other than the knee-high boots I was wearing (with accompanying knee socks). It kind of sucked to be uncomfortably warm when all I wanted to do was enjoy the nice weather.

Wow. Just wow. How did this man who seems so intelligent and reasonable ever get entangled with the Bush Administration?

Ooh, this is even better.

It was much more interesting than the previous one. John McCain is a dick. Women’s “health” in air quotes? He has lost all credibility. Obama was calm, cool, and collected. I will be glad when he is president.

I got up at 3am and watched the debate in its entirety. Unfortunately. There’s not much to say about it, it was completely uninspired and I don’t think there was a clear winner. Here’s what I wrote in the comments of Don’s blog post about the debate:

I can’t wait to see what Saturday Night Live does with Brokaw’s moderation. It was really dumb of him to keep lecturing them for going over time. It’s a presidential debate, of course they’re talking overtime!

Of course I agree that Obama gave mostly better answers, but I felt he could have presented/carried himself a lot better. He seemed to start every answer to the audience members’ questions with “Look…” as if he were lecturing them.

I think that space they were debating in was just terrible. Whose idea were the flag colors? My poor eyes at 3am couldn’t look at that red rug for more than a few seconds at a time. I felt claustrophobic just watching them in there. I think that’s why all their attempts at jokes fell completely flat.

Natalia Antonovna says it better than I did:

Sarah Palin not an elitist? From where I stand, she’s as elite as they come. The fact that she hasn’t used her privilege to learn something about the rest of the world is not a compliment to her. I have seen Alabama housewives who scrimped and saved for a trip abroad with their kids pause in front of a Da Vinci in sheer wonder – are you telling me that Sarah Palin is better than they are?

There are things to be said in favour of Sarah Palin – the simple fact that she has managed to juggle a political career with having five kids, all this in a day and age where childcare is still considered to be the primary responsibility of the woman, is terrific.

What you can’t compliment Sarah Palin on is her profound lack of depth wherein national and international politics are concerned. You can’t sugarcoat that with “well, at least she’ll be at home in Applebee’s” rhetoric. THE WHITE HOUSE IS NOT AN APPLEBEE’S. Why does anyone even need to point this out?

Oh, but I’m the evil elitist who can’t talk about what is happening to our country? Sure, I have a diploma from Duke University. I’m proud of it too. I worked for that. My parents worked for that. I have the student debt to repay for that – but hey, at least I stuck it through, even when it got really tough, my junior year especially. I did what was right for me: I took my education seriously – and gosh darn it, that is just wrong! We don’t celebrate academic achievement in this country, there’s no room for that high falutin’ intellectual curiosity pinko commie islamofascist satanist mumbo jumbo!

Can place Pakistan on a map? You’re just one of them liberal elites then, shut up and know your place.

Oh, and if you missed the VP debate and were planning to watch it, just watch the Saturday Night Live skit instead, it’s shorter.

I thought I would be way too cranky if I set my alarm for 3 a.m. to watch the Biden-Palin debate, but when the cat woke me up at 3:45, I decided to watch the second half. Sarah Palin may not have the facts and she’s definitely got the wrong policy positions, but damn, is she a skilled debater. She knows how to artfully duck a question and use her time to say what she wants to say. And since those undecided voters in the heartland don’t really pay attention to the answers themselves, but how the person talks, she did as well as she could possibly be expected to. That said, Joe Biden did well too. He really did follow the tips in this Slate piece: be affable, don’t patronize, take her seriously even when what she says doesn’t merit it. Every time Palin gave an answer that was nothing but folksy platitudes, he responded with clear facts. I haven’t really been a Biden fan but now I’m pretty glad that he’s on the ticket.

Edit: Oh yeah! Something I just saw in a friend’s Gmail status reminded me: What is up with Republicans and the inability to pronounce the word “nuclear”?

I haven’t been writing much lately, because life here in Sweden is pretty uneventful. I’m studying again – doing a master’s program in linguistics and a few other courses – and earning money here and there – teaching, editing and translating, babysitting. Things are good and there’s not much to say about it.

On the other hand, there’s a lot to say about US politics, so much that I get overwhelmed by all the things I want to write about, and discouraged that the people who I would want to hear what I have to say will never read this blog anyway, except for maybe a few members of my extended family who will just say to themselves “Oh, that Megan” and just go on thinking in their ignorant, backward, racist ways. But anyway, I’ll try to unload some of the stuff that’s been going around in my head…

I’ve finally reached an understanding of what “elitism” and “common sense” mean when uttered by a Republican. Elitism does not mean those who have a lot of money, or who come from situations of privilege, otherwise George W. Bush would be an elitist. To the average Republican, an elitist is a person who is intelligent, and who demonstrates that intelligence by having nuanced and well-thought out positions on policy that are based in facts rather than feelings. The average Republican cannot understand what such elitists are saying, and they much prefer the little zingers that people like Sarah Palin are so good at. (The woman can’t name a newspaper that she reads or a Supreme Court decision that she disagrees with other than Roe v. Wade – which she also clearly doesn’t understand – but she can deliver a great line implying that people who have the curiosity and ambition to travel abroad are all spoiled trust fund babies. But wait a second! George W. Bush is a spoiled trust fund baby and he also never bothered to visit Europe until he became president!)

Of course, a Republican would not describe an “elitist” in these terms, because that would imply that the non-elitists aren’t intelligent. The “elitists” are out of touch because they went to elite places like Harvard and Yale (like George W. Bush, only, see, he’s not an elitist because he talks like a moron). I’ve actually seen “Harvard” used as an epithet on some comment threads criticizing Obama. And here you thought that a biracial kid raised by a single mother managing to make it all the way to Harvard Law School had to be pretty smart and motivated to overcome the odds stacked against him. But, you see, “elitists” are actually stupid because they lack “common sense”. Basically, as far as I can tell, “common sense” means all those prejudices that you grew up with that you never bothered to unpack and examine. Like homophobia. And racism. And the notion that taxes are communist when they provide things like education and health care, but all-American when they provide things like corporate welfare and war.

All right, that’s enough ranting for now, but I’ll pass along a few must-read links.

Here’s an analysis of some interesting studies on psychology and political affiliation.

Tim Wise’s article on white privilege is a real eye-opener, if you’re willing to let your eyes be opened without getting defensive. This article speaks not only to the racism thriving in this election, but also to the general hypocrisy of the right wing.

And here is a really powerful blog post about prejudice and violence against Muslims from one of my favorite blogs. It’s being done by and in my country on a small scale, like the terrorists in Dayton, Ohio, who sprayed pepper spray into a nursery in a mosque, and on a large scale by an administration that invaded Iraq on false pretenses and its supporters who, as M. LeBlanc points out in the blog post, don’t seem to understand that Muslims are people.

Edit: One last link – some tips for Joe Biden tonight.

About This Blog

I'm an American who started blogging when I moved to Russia in 2004. Eventually I moved to Sweden, where life is pleasant but uneventful, and stopped blogging for lack of interesting things to say. And then I joined Facebook, which further destroyed any motivation for blogging. Maybe someday I'll start blogging again, but for now, this blog is dormant, an archive of The Russia Years: 2004-2008.

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October 2008