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I’m having a bit of trouble discussing politics these days. I caught myself this weekend blowing up like a jerk on a thread that a friend (super, super awesome friend) had posted in my Google reader. And it gave me pause.

First, sorry again random guy from the internet (even though I don’t think you’ll see this), for accusing you of being a Republican. Them’s fightin words. I was being a dick. And to be fair: accusing the wrong person of being a Democrat can be fightin words as well.

I used to be really, really bad about this. It takes me back to a job I had a little while back. The corner of the office we were in was split pretty evenly between Repubs and Dems, and being the Bush years as it was, we got into some very, ahem, spirited debates. There was this one guy. Let’s call him Dale. We haven’t kept in touch, but I can 110% guarantee you that where ever Dale is, he’s a proud member of the Tea Party. This dude and I used to get into out and out shouting matches. I would like to say that history has proven me right, but I’m sure he would see it differently. We would even argue about how to pronounce the name of the restaurant across the street. That’s how me and this guy were.

But I learned some lessons then about cooling my temper. And he did too. He’s not a bad guy. Just extremely idealistic.

I’ve been good these days, but lately I just find it so hard. The shooting in Arizona has supposedly cooled tempers for the time being, but the cynic in me says that we’ll be back to shouting at each other before too long. I know we will. I just caught myself doing it.

I don’t intend this journal entry to be a treatise on what’s wrong with us or how to fix it. Although I primarily blame televised news. Journalism used to mean something in this country. Now our journalists are called newscasters, and they have lots and lots of plastic surgery. They think that presenting two sides to every issue is being thorough (though there are almost never two sides to any story–and frequently one of the sides presented is woefully over-represented.) Fact checking doesn’t exist. Statistics are as meaningless as ever.

Anyway, I’m rambling.

This is a reminder to me to be on good behavior. To lead by example.

I think what happens to people these days is simple: we can cherry pick our information. Do you identify as a Republican? Then watch Fox News. Do you identify as a Democrat? Then watch MSNBC (I think… I don’t actually watch MSNBC). Do you want to actually be informed about events? Then listen to NPR.

The point is it’s too easy these days to ignore anything you don’t want to hear. Just change the channel. I was thinking about this, and in a strange way a great deal of erstwhile editorial power has been placed in the hands of the consumer. We edit out what we don’t like, and we get our information from sources that confirm our self identity. To be perfectly honest, I see absolutely no solution to this problem. When you get down to it, we’re not debating facts. We’re screaming at each other “my identity is more real than yours.” Which, of course, for each of us individually is true.

The political conversations I have with my centrist friends (especially my center right friends–myself being center left) can be pretty amazing. But along the way so much frustration builds up.

It’s not a resolution exactly, but I have an idea: smile and ask questions. This is a mental note to myself not to be one of those ranting dickheads. Smile. Ask a question. Slow things down and either steer the conversation to something positive, or simply leave it alone.

There’s something I’ve noticed myself doing more and more of as I get older: giving negativity no quarter. I don’t care for people who do nothing but bitch. And I ignore them. But it’s a lot more difficult when my principles urge me to engage negativity.

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I’m still waiting on the appraisal.  Since the housing market went to shit, all these layers of extra paperwork and second sign-offs have been added that slow everything down.  With the housing credit ending, there’s a scramble on that I think is slowing things down even further.

Sigh.  I just want this part of the process done with, so that I can rest easy.

In other news, I went over to Faidley’s in the market at lunch.  Hot damn.  I wanted to enjoy some seafood, and in particular some crabs, before the price of seafood goes to hell thanks to the BP spill in the gulf.  If you’re looking for crabcakes, this is one of the places to go.  I actually skipped the crabcake today and instead had a steakfish sandwich.  My coworkers are always talking about steakfish, and I’ve been like “what the fuck is steakfish?”  No one has ever really given me a straight answer.  It’s definitely not any old kind of fish served cut up in steaks.  It’s a certain kind of fish deep fried and served on a sandwich.

I did a little Googling, and it seems that steakfish is uniquely a Baltimore thing.  Essentially, it’s a poor man’s fish filet sandwich.  People swear up and down that it’s not hake, although I think most of the steakfish you get these days is in fact hake.  I guess there is a steakfish of yesteryear that was made from some other fish.

In either case… it was alright.  It was sorta good-bad.  Like aweful, but sorta likeable.  I think Faidley’s knew how to fry it up right and get the most out of it.  That it’s totally local colored my opinion.  I’m eating it and even if not totally enjoying it, wondering what could be done to spruce it up.

I’m wondering if steakfish tacos might be a workable dish.

Anyway.  I was tempted to make this post a rant about the oil spill, which would devolve into a sort of rant about being a bit unhappy with Obama (he just approved more offshore drilling), but at the same time being unwilling to admit it publically because, as much as I might have some complaints, I don’t for a second want to sound like the Republicans speciously crying bloody murder on the right.

I’ve got some concerns about Obama, and I fear that in the next election I won’t be voting for him, so much as I am voting against the Republicans again.  I am sick of this.  I wish I could consider voting for a third party candidate without worrying about the Republicans taking over and getting another eight years just like the Bush years.

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Apparently, Glenn Beck had some asshole on his show today who actually made the argument that the tanning salon tax in the new health care bill is racist.  He argues that since mostly white people will use tanning salons, then it’s racist.  Jesus fucking christ!!  Really?  Really!!!  You have got to be fucking kidding me.

More here.

It only took me 30 seconds of Googling to find out that half of all states already regulate tanning salons.  And if you haven’t heard that excessive sunlight causes certain skin cancers (and sunlamps are believe to do it too!), then you live in a cave or you are a willfully ignorant robot.

I am so fucking sick and tired of the conservatives in this country.  They will SAY ANYTHING just to that they can be right and the liberals can be wrong.  The state of the Rupublican party in this country is 2 + 2 = 5.  They just want to win.  They don’t give a shit about reality, they just want power.  If the Republicans take back a majority and even win the next presidential election, does anyone really think anything will change?  Really?  Those assholes just ran the show for eight years, and they left us with the highest deficit in history.  When you register as a Republican, do they wipe your brain?  Seriously, how fucking short can people’s memories be!!

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I have to be honest, it’s been rough these past few years being a Democrat. All through the Bush years, I had to watch my party bend over backwards for the Republicans, voting almost unanimously to send us into a bullshit war, voting on the Fourth Amendment trampling Patriot Act, and too many other things to name. Even in the past year+, it still hasn’t been easy. I haven’t been 100% happy with Obama (his endorsement of ACTA has me really worried), and watching the Democrats squabble with the Republicans has been nauseating. This past year of debate has left me utterly disgusted with Republicans and running out of hope for the Dems.

So today was a good day. For a rundown of what the health care bill will do, with a timeline, see this piece here. All in all, I think it’s a step in the right direction. Like many, I was hoping that we’d get a non-profit, government run option to keep the competition in the market fair and healthy. But there’s still a lot of good stuff in there, and I’m happy that the further left leaning Democrats came around.

The Republicans are already crying bloody murder, but I mean, looking at the provisions of the bill, not only is it nowhere near socialist, but the thing is more center right than it is center left. To someone on the left (or to a socialist), the bill could easily be construed as little more than a veiled insurance industry subsidy. I don’t feel that way about it, but hearing Republicans with the gall to call this a socialist government takeover sends me over the edge. That’s not a lie. That’s a damn lie.

I think this will be good for the Democrats in two ways.

1) This country loves a winner. And the Democrats just won. I think most of the disapproval we’ve seen in the polls is just from people fed up with the debate. With people’s interest flagging, all it takes is a few Republican lies to change someone’s vote from “pro” to “maybe.” But them Dems have just proved that they can get things done, and right now that’s what people in this country want.

2) As the Republicans howl and scream over this perceived loss for them, the crazies on the far right are going to get even louder. How much caterwauling will it take for Republicans to get sick of the birthers and secessionists and capital L libertarians (who too often preach borderline anarchy)? The far right is taking the Republican party so far from the center that it’s losing its sense of itself. This is a good thing. The Republican party desperately needs a reboot right now, and I’d very much like to see them pushing a center right policy that would (or could conceivably) work in harmonious tandem to the center left Dems who are in the majority at the present. That’s the kind of back and forth healthy political debate that I want to see in Congress.

For a long, long time now I’ve been strongly considering changing my registration to Independent. It still might happen. But for right now, it feels good to be a Democrat. Today I’ve managed to recapture a glimmer of what I felt when Obama won the election not so long ago: pride.