Sunday, October 26, 2008

If I trusted the voting machines, I'd have the popcorn out

So it seems McCain staffers think Sarah Palin has gone rogue. if the rumors coming from places like CNN are true, Palin's straying embarrassingly far off message; she's certainly enabled any number of obnoxious racists and religious zealots (personal to F.B.I. in Quantico: you really need to keep a close eye on these people in case of an Obama win -- they're angry, stupid, and heavily armed), and the Republican party seems to be on the verge of tearing itself apart. (For whatever it's worth, I predicted -- well, call it an edjucated guess, "predict" is such a pretentious term -- a number of years ago that when the shit hit the fan, the neocons, the palaeocons, and the religious Right would claw each other's eyes out and tear the GOP to shreds, probably around 2010. They certainly seem on track to make that time frame.)

In a reasonably rational world, the fact that the entire structure of conservative free market economics has come crashing down and that US social policy threatens to make us look like savages in the eyes of the rest of the Westernized world would be putting an end to current Republican policies. The fact that the US has just been quite abruptly switched over to a duct-tape-and-chewing-gum version of a socialist economy tells us that we've got an awful lot of rebuilding and remodeling to do, and an Obama presidency with a Democratic congress might just put us on that route. I can only say we can hope, but we shouldn't hold our breath; after all, November 4th is still a week and a half away.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Say it

A few years ago, the nostalgia site RetroCRUSH published a list of the 50 Coolest Song Parts. I'd like to add one.

I've found myself weirdly fascinated with the Ben Folds/Regina Spektor song "You Don't Know Me". In some ways it seems to go back over and mine the territory Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand marked out thirty years ago with "You Don't Bring Me Flowers"; it is, as any Folds production is, impeccably produced, with a bouncy tune juxtaposed with harsh dump-song lyrics. It doesn't live up to its potential though -- while "Flowers" almost seamlessly converted from a solo to a duet, with really only a few rough spots that Diamond should have rewritten, Folds uses Spektor mostly as a backup singer, which, though I'm not too familiar with Spektor's work, seems to be a huge waste. It's a big whack of points off of what should be an awesome song.

Anyway, Spektor steps into character as the jilted lover precisely once in the song, for two lines at the end. Having sat through an unrelenting tirade from her soon-to-be-ex, the woman finally steps up, first with an impatient "What?", then with a cracking, devastated, but utterly defiant "Say it!"

Bam. Kick to the fucking nuts.

There is no place left to go. The man ends with a noncommittal justification for refusing to proceed further, and the song fades. Good stuff.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thoughts I wish I wasn't having

-Obama does not yet have this one in the bag. The ACORN thing will be beaten to death over the next two and a half weeks, and I'd bet money that despite what I've read to the contrary about ACORN being a pretty good watchdog when it comes to vote fraud, absolutely no one to the right of Obama himself will believe it.

-Given the sheer white-hot hatred coming from The Base (TM), the Democratic Congress better do way better in the next session than it did in this one or there will be a frivolous impeachment in President Obama's future.

-McCain likely has absolutely no political capital left. After that debate performance, only The Base (TM) can possibly take him seriously. That doesn't mean, however, that a massive, completely spurious, devastatingly effective propaganda blitz can't still happen. It really depends on whether McCain finds a white knight in the former "VRWC" crowd. One can only hope that whoever's coming up in Richard Mellon Scaife's disgraced shoes has as little faith in McCain as the broader fundraising base seems to.

-I don't care if Joe the Plumber is an actual plumber, or if he's really related to Charles Keating, or what. He's a dimwit who can't think past the end of his own paycheck, and is likely up for a massive IRS audit this year after what's come out about his tax bill. And if I had to guess, he's probably a Paultard.

-I hope at least a few of President Clinton's personal Secret Service detail are still on the job. Obama's going to need them. I swear, Slick Willie must have handpicked his detail from the special forces considering someone actually tried to drop a plane on him.

-I have heard people saying that they hope the government means it that they'll eventually cash out of the banks they're buying into. Fuck that. Socialism = Sweden as far as I'm concerned, and I want the Fed to be able to whack financial misconduct right where it hurts the most -- in the boardroom.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Down the stretch or down in flames?

Well, we'll see. I have to be brutally honest -- I'm not completely on the Obama train (I originally wanted Edwards), but when I look at the alternatives -- irrelvance or John McCain... well, he can't be any worse, right? After all, McCain at least came off as coherent, but to those who watched the debate on TV, he seemed dismissive and disrespectful, and evidently at times about ready to jump podiums and rip Obama's throat out. In addition, his responses on abortion rights (what "extreme" wing of the "pro-abortion" movement? Most pro-choicers actually like kids...) and public schooling (vouchers, aka the Great Private School Money Siphon; HeadStart is a great program, but we need to reform it (?!)) either ran against the grain of American life or just plain made no sense at all.

Truthfully, I like the way Obama came off in the debate tonight -- deliberative, a bit of a policy wonk in the Clinton mode, even-handed and unwilling to allow himself to be baited; compare to McCain, who was polished but stuck too close to his talking points. If this is the sort of president Obama might be, this might work out pretty well. And I would love to see racist assholes lose their shit when "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear..." goes out over the airwaves. But there's still two weeks left. No chicken counting just yet.

What's clear is that McCain has self-destructed -- picking the ridiculous and pathetic Sarah Palin as a running mate, pushing conservative policies at a time when many Americans are starting to become suspicious of Bush's holes in the church-state wall, grandstanding on economic issues in the midst of a meltdown that's utterly devastated the intellectual case for conservative/libertarian fiscal policy. He's surrounded himself with the Republican base and discovered he doesn't really like them, especially since a large contingent of them are hoping he'll kick the bucket and leave Palin in charge. (Bad news, holy rollers: barring a melanoma recurrence, McCain has longevity in his genes.) He could come back. But someone could also find the Skinner constant in Kip Thorne's FTL travel equations when the Large Hadron Collider starts up and we could have a manned mission to Gliese 581 by 2020. (Okay, that's slightly less likely. But you get the idea.)

What's clear: there is a damn good chance the US will have its first president of African-American descent. (BTW, anyone find his recent commercial showing his family on his mother's side a little overcompensatory? Admittedly it's probably necessary in all the states where people think he's a Muslim, but it just looks strange in Massachusetts, which is pretty much a safe Obama state either way.) If it doesn't... well, I'll put this diplomatically. No one outside the US wants McCain to win, because they associate him with Bush 43. Despite McCain's protestations tonight in the debate that he isn't Bush 43, he's done a piss poor job of distinguishing himself.

Friday, October 3, 2008

America gonef

Okay, so Biden didn't shred Palin the way everyone was expecting, and she somehow managed to avoid sounding like the gibbering idiot she came across as with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson. But has George W. Bush really lowered the bar for GOP candidates so low that this debate could possibly be called a draw?

I'll start by saying both candidates had a problem with evasiveness. But there was one key difference between the two of them -- Biden was cogent and quick on the draw with information that could be easily verified with a quick Google search. Palin, on the other hand, fought like mad to stay on message whether it was relevant or not and showed little obvious ability to think on her feet, resorting to trite sloganeering so often that it was unclear whether she had any original thought at all. Biden actually came across as somewhat flummoxed, like someone who'd just realized that the person he'd been attempting to have a discussion about basic particle physics was actually a cat. I'll give the punditocracy the idea that Palin in some sense "held her own" -- that is, she didn't make herself look like a bigger ditz than she has already. But she didn't exactly raise the bar either -- her responses were bordering on content-free, and she seems to have no feel at all for appropriate speech registers. I mean, that was all George W. Bush had to do in his debates, and look where we are now.

Only the most dishonest or desperate of party hacks could consider this a win for Palin. But what amazes me is that this could be considered even a draw -- I mean, how does that work? This isn't bowling or horse racing where you can spot a less experienced opponent some handicap points. Somewhere on the Senate floor, Hillary Clinton is glad she endorsed Obama.