Saturday, August 30, 2008

land o' the free 

in my inbox:

This is xxxxxxx.

The house that I-Witness Video where is staying in St. Paul has been surrounded by police. We are in town to cover the Republican National Convention. We have locked all the doors. We have been told that if we leave we will be detained. One of our people who was caught outside is being detained in handcuffs in front of the house. The police say that they are waiting to get a search warrant. More than a dozen police are wielding firearms, including one St. Paul officer with a long gun, which someone told me is an M-16.

At least one local TV crew is here along with some legal observers. Our colleagues at Glass Bead Collective are outside videotaping.

We are suffering a preemptive arrest.

Please contact the office of the St. Paul mayor. I am not in a position to do Internet research so if someone else could look that up and also contact news media in town for the RNC and local news media, that would be great.

All the best,

Opinyuns are grate! 

These are all human beings with vaginas. What different opinions they all have! What a world of choices we live in! How heavy weighs the crown of democratic freedom on human beings with vaginas.

The road ahead 

Absolutely, this is going to be a very quotable two months.

Some things that come to mind, and a few I’m looking forward to:

A. Debates past:

1. 1988: Dan Quayle, no-experience pretty-boy nobody vs. Lloyd Bentsen, consummate insider and four-term senator. Bentsen lands one the greatest lines in debate history but comes off as supercilious and mean.

2. 2000: George Bush, no-experience pretty-boy nobody vs. Al Gore. Expectations set so low as to allow Bush to win by showing up and not drooling on himself. By speaking, Gore comes off as arrogant and mean.

3. 2004: George Bush, now brain-damaged and relying on a mechanical box to speak for him, battles war hero Kerry to a draw by uttering noises.

B. And future:

1. Moderator: “Before we get into foreign policy, Senator Biden, many question your ethical integrity because, though a Catholic, you support abortion. Governor Palin, on the other hand, a woman and mother of five, including one child with Down Syndrome, is a staunch opponent. How do you square your hypocrisy with her sincerity?”

2. Moderator: “Governor Palin, much has been made of your lack of Washington foreign policy experience, especially compared to that of your opponent, Senator Biden. But wouldn’t you agree, just as the Obama campaign has said on numerous occasions, that what matters more than Beltway experience in dealing with international crises is sound character, common sense, and judgment, which you clearly possess, as a mother of five children, including one child serving in the armed forces now?”

C. General, mixed-bag:

1. Random Joe Biden scandal TBD:

a. Conflict of influence / kickback scheme involving lobbyist son Hunter’s schmoozing Dad and getting rich off connections

b. Drunken photos from the café car of the northeast direct Amtrak train and/or testimony from young female (or male) Amtrak conductor as to Biden’s drunken groping

c. Stray offensive comment about “hockey moms,” children with Down Syndrome, Alaskan beauty pageants, worse.

2. “South-Side Chicago People for Truth” ad campaign:

Elderly African-American Man: “Yes, I remember when Barack Obama came down here from his fancy school to work as an organizer. But it wasn’t the Obama you hear about in all the speeches and commercials. He was only doing the work for himself and for how far it would get him in his career, and not for the people out here. In fact, while the other organizers lived here in the neighborhood, Obama was staying in a fancy hotel uptown, drawing a paycheck from his fancy law firm. We need a leader like John McCain who means what he says and says what he means, and won’t sell out his own people to get ahead.”

3. “Resentful, Self-Immolating Hillary Supporters for Palin” ad campaign:

Middle-Aged Suburban White Woman: “I’m a Hillary supporter, and I still can’t stand the way she was smeared in that rigged Democratic primary. And though Sarah Palin’s views might differ a little from mine, I’m ‘Standing up for Sarah,’ because she’s a mother of five who understands what it’s like to be smeared and belittled by powerful men. And unlike Joe Biden, her children don’t trade on her influence for money, and she doesn’t fondle train conductors, and she never disparages the most noble work there is: being a hockey mom."

Friday, August 29, 2008

wherein i urge blog unity 

Hope, change, co-opt our popular discontent for your corporate-authoritarian empire, blahdy blahdy blah. But this! This shit is endlessly fun, entertaining and completely worth every single second of anyone's time. Finally! Some excitement!:

Palin has foreign policy experience because her state is close to Russia!

We get no less than sixty days of this stuff! Palin justifications, McCain home-in-a-cage videos, anti-old people humor, watching right partisans tie themselves in knots, watching media whores tie themselves in knots trying to maintain a semblance of balance!

American news culture is gonna go full retard! It's truly an historic election! This is a crucial moment! A turning point! Everything is at stake!

This is going to be a very quotable next two months. Vast, hinted at but as yet untapped reserves of comedy gold. We may be finally able to end our addiction to foreign jokes and secure a safer securer safetyMerica! Fuck you, British sitcoms!

McCain is a total pussy 

How else can you describe what just happened?

He got absolutely smacked around by Obama last night, and now he has his big chance to smack back. He's unveiling his VP pick who would presumably do the smacking, and then what? Nothing.

He sure knows how to absorb abuse with a grin on his face. Maybe he learned his lessons in the POW prison too well.

Back in the cage!

towel, thrown in 

So McCain rolls the hard six and...


Palin is the GOP VP pick. Apparently anyone in the GOP with any name recognition doesn't want to be anywhere near this ship when it sinks.

It's been over, but now its over over. Time to start counting chickens.

So you're a GOP hack and someone comes up to you and says, "How about you end your career right now?". What do you ask for in exchange?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama Night 

OK, that "creepy little brat" Shawn Johnson has redeemed herself, in a way, by appearing at the DNC; although one doubts there's much difference, in her mind or ours, between touting the Southern Style Chicken Sandwich or leading Invesco Stadium in the pledge of allegiance. She's off the hook for now, but I swear to god if I see that little mug at the RNC I will cut off my own face.

Brian Lehrer on WNYC: "Americans don't want a movement, they want someone to fix their problems."

Right.  That's totally why they voted for Reagan, and Bush in 2004: they thought those candidates would "fix their problems."

Barney Smith, not Smith Barney.  (This may only have been viewable on C-Span.)  Won't the Dems be criticized for manipulating retarded citizens?

Tweety audibly weeping and referencing Agincourt.

A good speech, no?

McCage, McCage, McCage! 

i'm, unsurprisingly, with IOZ 

thus spake:

This election is truly interminable, and would be better settled by drawing straws or a Greco-Roman wrestling match or strewing poultry entrails on the floor of the Senate chamber. Last night the Donk upped the anty in the couple of minutes of speeches that I caught, raising the old "one of the most important elections of our lifetimes" with a mountain of "one of the most important elections in the history of our nation." What're we going to call 2012: the Second Coming? The Singularity? In fact this has so far proved to be one of the least significant campaigns I can recall, with the Democrats making broad, if milquetoast, appeals to some very vague and entirely rhetorical notion of social justice while striving to appear modestly less militant even as they pimp their chimerical toughness, while Republicans proclaim that the free-market rising tide will lift all boats, decry a non-existent Democratic socialism, and rattle the decorative saber at an increasingly uncowed world. These have been the precise dynamics of every American Presidential contest since Jimminy Cricket beat Pardon-Me Ford . . . at least. Saith The Stiftung:

Nothing on Guatanamo, illegal and unconstitutional torture, nothing about Russia beyond platitudes about Neocon solidarity with Georgian freedom-loving activities, nothing about NATO expansion, nothing about China, India beyond a roll call of rising powers, and so on. No specifics about Iraq (and glossing over Biden’s vote for the war, too). No talk about restoring the constitution and balance between an Imperial Regime in both domestic and foreign affairs.

As a regular tonic to the electoral malaise, I really can't recommend IOZ, Jon Schwarz, Dennis Perrin, and Chris Floyd enough. It may just restore your sang-froid. Too bad they're not blogrolled here (ahem, cough, cough).

Chinese democracy 

If you have an hour to kill and your inner life is a frothy mix of post-Olympics Sinophobia and pre-election nausea, check out the documentary "Please Vote for Me." It's about a third-grade class in central China that is holding the country's first ever democratic hall monitor election.

It's amazing how quickly these cute little 8-year-olds, egged on by their parents, take to the true and brutal nature of electoral politics. Things get ugly fast.

The movie is also worth viewing just to see "Cheng Cheng," the chubby, pampered and diabolically manipulative child candidate who struts around the house in his underwear and flip-flops while rehearsing speeches denouncing his fellow children. I have no doubt that in 30 or 40 years' time Cheng Cheng will have become one of the most dangerous rulers the world has ever known.

(Future world dictator Cheng Cheng)

You can watch "Please Vote for Me" instantly on Netflix and you can see the trailer here.

Why is the convention like this? 

They are delivering a message that they have tested as best they can in polls and focus groups in order to win over voters in specific places and demographic groups.

In a related effort, they are trying to turn the underlying "media narrative" to their favor.

None of us reading this blog are members of the targeted voter groups or people in a position to alter the media narrative.

Thus, they do not give a fuck what we think or whether we like the convention.

Other questions:

Will they be successful in regaining control of the media narrative?
I don't know.

Are they doing a good job of appealing to those specific voters?
I don't know.

Have they chosen the right groups of voters to appeal to?
I'm not sure.

Would it be better to use the convention to advocate radical changes to the structure of our economy and society?
Probably not in the short term, as this could cause them to lose the 2008 election.

Will the Democratic party ever bring about radical changes to the structure of our economy and society?
No, not ever.

Does that mean that a McCain administration would be essentially the same as an Obama administration?
No. Obama will use death, war and fear as a policy instrument only when it is needed to ensure American dominance over resources and trade. McCain thinks war is glorious and romantic and will send us into bloodbaths just for fun. Also, McCain and his wife are too ugly for TV, whereas Obama looks great on TV and his wife is pretty hot. As our hot First Lady, she would be the first ever FLILF (or FILF?) in American history. (Unless you count Jackie O, which I don't.)

Deep Thought 

One week from now, something called "Joe Lieberman" will be addressing the Republican National Convention.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Speaking truth to power 

So Harry Reid just gave a speech.  His opening line:

"The history of the past 100 years has been a toxic mix of oil and war."

Great line, I thought--now we may really hear something of substance.  What, I wondered, would Reid have to say about the U.S.'s--and specifically the two Bush governments'--role in this toxic mix?  

The answer came moments later.  The result of our unhealthy dependence on foreign oil has been that we've "been attacked by oil-funded terrorists at home and by oil-funded insurgents in Iraq."

That's the upshot of our addiction to petroleum: that WE'VE been attacked.

It was time, noted Reid, to "speak truth to power" about this issue.


The Dems' evening of "national security" is really heating up.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wuss Nation 

I write here against a deep conservatism that cloaks itself in pessimism.

There is such a remarkable desire out there right now for Obama not to win, for something to happen, anything, beyond all odds, to keep him from doing something unprecedented. This desire is expressed not just in the remarkable variety of negative stories and hints of doubt in national news coverage, but also by people as reputable as leftist Times op/ed writers.

It's all bullshit. There is every likelihood that Obama will win.

We have to face the fact that this self-defeatism is part of our national character. Conservatism is about a deep-rooted fear of change. This fear is displaced onto the uttered fear that the possible is surely not possible. And this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Truly desiring a black man to be elected means believing that it is possible for this man to be elected, and not spreading one's doubt like a contagion. Hope is an act.


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