Wednesday, July 16, 2008

That Whining Sound

Phil Gramm hears a whining sound. What does he decide to do about it? Whine about the whiners. Bloggers hear Phil Gramm whining. What do they decide to do about it? Whine about the whiners. George Will hears people whining about Phil Gramm’s whining. What does he decide to do about it? Whine about the whiners. I hear all of this whining. What do I decide to do about it? Whine, baby, whine!

Here is part of the definition of the word whine from the Meriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English hwīnan to whiz; akin to Old Norse hvīna to whiz
Date: 13th century

intransitive verb
1 a: to utter a high-pitched plaintive or distressed cry
From Gramm: We need more leadership, less whining by Dana Bash:
"We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline," said the former Texas senator. "You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession."

Gramm also said the media was responsible for fostering unnecessary anxiety over the state of the economy. "Misery sells newspapers," he said. "Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day."

A McCain campaign source said that not only did Gramm not speak to the Washington Times on McCain's behalf, but the campaign also did not know he was doing it -- unlike Gramm's meeting Thursday with the Wall Street Journal, in which McCain staff were present.

Gramm called CNN to clarify his remarks before boarding a flight Thursday.

He said he was not speaking for the campaign when he made the remarks.

"I didn't claim to be representing anyone except myself," he said.

Gramm said he was not trying to insult the country's people.

"The whiners are the leaders. Hell, the American people are victims, but it didn't quite come out that way in the story," Gramm said.
Here’s where I get to whine.

My first whine is about context, more specifically the lack of it. When I first heard about Gramm’s comments it was all about the America that is in a “mental recession” and is "a nation of whiners." And that was it. My first reaction was that Gramm is an idiot. That he is out of touch with reality.

We currently are a nation of whiners and rightly so. The Bush administration has given us much to whine about. Except for the “crazy twenty-sevens” the nation has joined in a huge chorus of whines directed toward Washington that has mostly fallen on deaf ears. Which only causes us to whine more.

I think that America has lost competitiveness and is in decline. I also think that we are in a mental recession. However, I think that Gramm and I differ on what exactly that means. Why didn’t Gramm say imaginary recession? That appears to be what he really meant. I would define mental recession as mental decline. As in, we are collectively getting to be more and more stupid. And the “crazy twenty-sevens” help prove that we are. I also think that we are collectively suffering from mental depression. This is a good thing. It shows that we are sane, and looking at things realistically. It appears that Phil Gramm doesn’t think that we should be doing that. How can someone with a doctorate in economics speak so poorly? Perhaps his degree is mental, oops, I mean imaginary.

I disagree with some of what Gramm says about the media. I think the economy really is in pretty bad shape. If anything, the media didn’t report about certain things soon enough. At the same time, they do frequently foster “unnecessary anxiety.”

I disagree with what Gramm says when he tries to clarify his remarks. I don’t think that it is just the leaders who are whining. By the way, all of them should be whining about the Bush administration, but few are. I think that the American people are whining and I don’t see anything wrong with it. Is whining a word which is derogatory toward the whiner? Is that what some of this is about? Should Gramm have said bitching, moaning, belly-aching, fretting, fussing, griping, grumbling, mewling, sniveling, wailing, whimpering, or yammering? Maybe he should have said complaining. Would that have been better? Well he did use that word, but everyone is focusing on the word whining.

It seems that both the left and right have been quick to pounce on what Phil Gramm has said.

Here’s John McCain’s response:
"I don't agree with Sen. Gramm," McCain said. "I believe that the person here in Michigan that just lost his job isn't suffering a mental recession. I believe the mother here in Michigan and around America who is trying to get enough money to educate their children isn't whining."
Talk about being supportive and standing by those on your side. Plus, what McCain says just seems plain wrong to me. If I had just lost my job I would be suffering a “mental recession” and necessary anxiety. Again, if what McCain really means is imaginary recession, then why not say it. Damn politicians! If I was a mother trying to find the money to educate my children I might let out a “distressed cry” now and again, and some of them would be directed toward insensitive, self-serving clods like McCain.

Here’s what the Democrats have to say:
"Sen. McCain said the economic problems facing Americans are psychological -- now his top economic adviser and BFF, Phil Gramm said Americans facing tough economic are 'whiners,' " said Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse in a statement sent to reporters.
Did McCain ever say that “the economic problems facing Americans are psychological”? Or was that something that the DNC thinks that he said because it appears to be what Gramm said. There is a difference. I am an American “facing tough economic” times. I am also whining about it.

And I do my whining with pride. Care to whine about that?

After all of that, let’s add more context to all of this.

From Phil Gramm's Porn Stash by Max Blumenthal:
But first, Gramm returned to the Senate, where he was lobbied intensely by one of his major campaign contributors, Enron. Enron enjoyed easy access to Gramm's office; the senator's wife served on Enron's board of directors and Ken Lay was his 1992 campaign co-chair. Gramm rewarded his financial angels in 2000, slipping the "Commodity Futures Modernization Act" into a omnibus spending bill just as Congress headed off for summer vacation. His amendment instantly enabled the creation of a shadow banking system -- "weapons of financial destruction" in the words of Warren Buffet -- that directly contributed to the current mortgage foreclosure crisis. Millions of Americans have suffered as a result of Gramm's machinations.

While the destruction Gramm has caused is felt across the country, little is known about the seedy business schemes that preceded his political career. Before Gramm joined the Christian Coalition's Ralph Reed to call for the defunding of the NEA, before he attacked an opponent for taking money from a gay rights group, and before he was interviewed by the white supremacist Southern Partisan magazine, Gramm was an avidly active investor in soft-core pornography movies.
Is it any wonder that so many Americans don’t vote. To do so responsibly takes a hell of a lot of work.

Let’s revisit the etymology of the word whine. Let’s all collectively pick a specific date and time, and all together take a big whiz and direct it toward Washington.

Feel like whining about my whining? The comment box is open.

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