Category Archives: politics

Still undecided

the candidateI gots to vote on the primary next Tuesday, but I’m still undecided.

Here’s the situation.

I don’t vote on issues, I don’t vote on character. My vote usually goes to whomever can build the most competent cabinet, and whose politics are not totally abhorrent to me. Cause face it, nobody can do it all their damn selves. So I try to think not about the candidate, but about the candidate’s network.

I tend to hate the “authenticity” candidates like last election’s loathsome Howard Dean, possibly the least intelligent silver-spoon candidate to run for the presidency since George W. Bush. (Or so I thought, until Bush’s Skull-and-Bones pal John Kerry’s dismal Yale GPA was made public). As much as I think it was unfair the way that Dean’s candidacy was derailed by getting made into a joke, I still just don’t see what my fellow supposedly Internet-savvy east coast liberals saw in his schtick. I couldn’t figure out what Dean was up to, other than taking donations over the internet and then turning them over to Old Media outlets.

So by my usual logic, I should be voting for Clinton, who arguably has the best capacity to build a strong cabinet. But she’s the same kind of spineless say-anything-to-get-elected weasel as Bill, sans the I’m-getting-away-with-this charm.

I’m leaning Obamawards, but just am a little concerned that he’s more speechifying than substance, and in 4 years, we’re going to still be in Iraq, he’s not going to roll back any of the encroachment of civil liberties of the last few years. But in spite of myself, in spite of my whole basic outlook on life, which says that nothing is more bogus than authenticity and that nothing is more real than artifice, I can’t help but think that there are things in life that can’t be done but without some modicum of faith in one’s own sincerity, in faith in the future, some amount of “I know, we’ll put the show on right here! In the barn!”. And the ability to ignore the fact that this is basically an untenable point of view. And I think Obama’s got that more than any candidate I’ve seen in my lifetime.

The good news is that I’m not a Republican. I’d be in a worse position then, because they’re pretty much all joke candidates, except for McCain, who would be funny if his insanity weren’t so genuine. He used to appeal to the authenticity-minded middle-grounders. But in recent hears he has been able to distinguish himself by being simultaneously a party-line weasel AND a totally wacko loose cannon, so I don’t think he’s going to be able to grab too many independents or undecideds (who will tolerate wackos but not party-line weasels).

One more thing about the Berlin Filmmuseum

Casablanca is on TCM tonight, and it just got to the scene in Rick’s Café where the German soldiers sing “Deutschland Über Alles”, and everybody else sings “La Marseillaise”, drowning out the Germans.

That reminded me about one more thing about the Berlin Filmmuseum, which I mentioned last week. That scene was playing on a loop in one of the rooms in the permanent exhibition near the Marlene Dietrich section that showed all the German actors who went into exile in Hollywood in the 30′s and 40′s. How weird must it be to see a fairly propagandistic film from a former enemy country playing on a loop in one of your museums.

Impossible Christmas List

Things I want but can’t really have.

  • Illinois senator Paul Simon to have won the 1988 presidential election. I don’t know what exactly happened, but the point at which he dropped out of the race… nothing has really been the same since, and so much would be different now.
  • Taco Bell to bring back the Rancho Steak Burrito, a short-lived offering, ca. 1995.
  • A new Neutral Milk Hotel album.
  • Sacco and Venzetti to not have been executed

More next year.

And speaking of environmental hypocrisy…

We ended up renting a small SUV, a Chrysler Pacifica, when we were in California. The rental place claimed to be entirely out of anything smaller (it was 2am, so it’s plausible). The rental place said it got 26 mpg highway, so we chose it over the Chrysler 300 which was smaller but only got 24. But we did some highway driving between Santa Barabara and LA, and the best we did was 16. That said, it was pretty fun to drive. You could actually, like, accelerate, and go up hills.

Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury

Pot calling the kettle blackLike the Passat Wagon I mentioned earlier, here’s one more to file under “non-SUV owners who aren’t smart enough to make sure their car is more fuel efficient than an SUV before putting a smug anti-SUV bumper sticker on their fuel guzzler”. Volvo wagons get between 14 and 18 mpg generally. Hummer H3′s get 15.

That said, I’m not going to be getting a Hummer anytime soon. Nor will I be wearing Hummer cologne.

Hummer cologne

Who’s Bill Richardson’s handler? Manny Ortez?

The first time I realized John Kerry was incapable of articulating a clear position on anything was when I saw him interviewed by ESPN’s Jon Miller about the designated hitter. Miller asked him what he thought about it, and his answer was something like “uh, well, I think it’s good, but, you know, some people think it isn’t.” (of course, the look in his eyes said “what is a designated hitter?”).

I do have a lot of problems with the way that we– or at least our proxies in the media– demand a foolish consistency from public figures when changing one’s mind is something that any honest person should be allowed. And I think in general that swaying with public opinion is a virtue for a politician in a democracy. But still. At that moment, my heart went out of my support for Kerry, to see him not even take a tiny baby stand, one that just didn’t matter.

Anyway, the exchange below between Tim Russert and Gov. Bill Richardson, where he comes up with a convoluted way to be both a Red Sox and Yankees fan might also be a fatal moment for this long shot candidate in my book.

Candidates, when Tim Russert asks you “Red Sox or Yankees?”, you are just going to have to order off the menu. There are two safe answers that spring to mind:

  • The Chicago Cubs. Nobody can fault you for backing an underdog.
  • The Dodgers, if you say it’s because they were the first team to integrate, and that Jackie Robinson was your hero. And then qualify it as the Brooklyn Dodgers.

MR. RUSSERT: You spent a lot of time in, in Massachusetts. Are you a Red Sox fan?

GOV. RICHARDSON: I’m a Red Sox fan, but I got into trouble in New Hampshire. You know why? Because I said…

MR. RUSSERT: Luis Tiant, the fund-raiser. But, now, governor, this is very serious. In your book on page 18 it says…

GOV. RICHARDSON: No, about Mickey Mantle?

MR. RUSSERT: You said you’re a Yankee fan!

GOV. RICHARDSON: No, no, no. I said—no, no, no.

MR. RUSSERT: I mean, you can, you can…

GOV. RICHARDSON: No, no, no, no.

MR. RUSSERT: …you can have different views on immigration, assault weapons…

GOV. RICHARDSON: I, no no no no. No, what I said…

MR. RUSSERT: But when it comes to Red Sox, Yankees.

GOV. RICHARDSON: What I said, the Associated Press asked me, “If you weren’t running for president, if you weren’t running for president, what would you rather be?” I’ve always been a Red Sox fan, but I said if I weren’t running for president I would like to be number seven, Mickey Mantle, playing center field for the New York Yankees.

MR. RUSSERT: “Because of Mickey Mantle, I became a Yankee fan.”

GOV. RICHARDSON: I, my favorite team has always been the Red Sox.

MR. RUSSERT: You’re a Red Sox fan.

GOV. RICHARDSON: I’m a Red Sox fan.

MR. RUSSERT: End of subject.

GOV. RICHARDSON: End of subject.

MR. RUSSERT: You better get rid of this book.

GOV. RICHARDSON: Oh, no! I’m also a Yankee fan. I also like…

MR. RUSSERT: Oh, now, wait a minute!

GOV. RICHARDSON: You can—Tim…

MR. RUSSERT: I guarantee…

GOV. RICHARDSON: No, I know, I got in trouble…

MR. RUSSERT: …if you go—if you go to Yankee Stadium or Fenway, you cannot be both.

GOV. RICHARDSON: But I like—Mickey Mantle was my hero. If I weren’t running for president, and the Associated Press asked me, I’d play center field for the New York—I wanted to be number seven. And—but I still love the Red Sox as a team. I mean, this is the thing about me, Tim. I can bring people together. I can unify people.

MR. RUSSERT: Yankee fans and Red Sox fans?

GOV. RICHARDSON: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: Not a chance.

GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, I bet you I can.

Linkery, 13 April 2007

Happy Friday the 13th.

  • (Mr. Mountain Goat) John Darnielle’s blog‘s RSS feed suddenly sprang into life, and I see that I have missed pretty much everything he’s posted since I subscribed. Anyway, I think unfortunately this means I might have to give CocoRosie another shot.
  • Andrew Bird was on Letterman. (check out Dosh in a tie!)
  • Oh, yeah, and I keep forgetting to mention that the new album is great. It has not usurped Weather Systems as my favorite. Yet.
  • Bear, our friend’s cat, keeps trying to lure me into enhancing my MySpace presence with comments like these.
  • The only intelligent coverage I’ve heard of the whole Imus thing yet was on NPR this morning with Steve Inskeep and Juan Williams talking about the invisible line that Imus crossed and some of the hypocrisy therein. They even ask the question I’ve wondered, which is what’s so bad about what he said compared to all of the other offensive and supposedly funny things he’s said over the years, and why do the advertisers care now?
  • And when is NPR going to stop pretending that they’re not commercial radio? That link starts off with a 5-second *commercial*. They’ve definitely crossed an invisible line from “underwriting” to “advertising”. Maybe they should just officially change their name to the abbreviation “NPR” and never mention that it’s supposed to stand for “Public Radio”. Or, my vote would be to just change it to “The Nipper”. Personally, I decided to stop giving them a dime the day I heard what Christopher Lydon’s salary was, until the day I make more than he does. Until then, I need my money more than they do.

That is all.

Greetings from Portsmouth

Snow shooterGreetings from Portsmouth, at our annual circa-Valentine’s-Day weekend away.

We are currently ensconced here at Popover’s, a new-ish restaurant/coffee/desert/bakery place near Market Square. I’ve never had much loyalty to Breaking New Grounds, because of their lackluster coffee, and their congestion, especially when it’s too cold for the outdoor seating.

Anyway, since I blew through the copy of Persepolis 2 that Kim & Glenn bought me for my birthday already, I didn’t have any reading material last night. So after dinner at the Brewery, we headed to RiverRun books, 5 minutes before they closed. I was unable to find anything on the spot, so we decided to come back tomorrow. The woman who kicked us out recommended coming back either early or later today, because Bill Richardson (New Mexico governor and presidential candidate) would be speaking. I also read in the New Hampshire Gazette (a free bi-weekly liberal-in-that-cranky-new-hampshire-way opinion rag) that Dennis Kucinich had been there a couple of weeks ago. I swear, the New Hampshire madness starts earlier every election cycle, just like Christmas.

It seems that the storm that dumped rain-that-quickly-turned-to-ice in Boston stayed snow up north, because yesterday there were enormous snow piles all around town, and very little ice.

Snow Removal, Market Square, Portsmouth NHEveryone in town has been cranky this morning, because crews were out running the enormous snow removal equipment well past 10am. Apparently, people are accustomed to the snow removal elves just coming in the middle of the night to clear the streets. I’ve found it fascinating. There were just trucks and trucks and trucks getting filled and then leaving town, each carrying many tons.

One Less VW Passat Wagon

I should have snapped a photo of the Passat Wagon I saw today that had a sticker that said “One Less SUV”. You know, maybe you have the right to be this kind of sanctimonious shit if you put that sticker on your bike. But if you’re driving a car? Any car? I think that qualifies as hypocrisy. Especially if your car gets between 18 and 23 mpg depending on the model; that’s only 2 mpg better than a Hummer H3.

This was in the Whole Foods parking lot, as you might have suspected.