Saturday, September 20, 2008
Today's topic: filthy foods. What're five treats you eat that you hope to never be overseen snarfing on, either for aesthetic, dietary, or other arbitrary reasons?
Moi, you ask? Here goes:
5) Cheez-Its: I cannot seem to lay off these partially-hydrogenated squares, tho you won't see me bringing 'em to the nearest faculty potluck. En particulier lemme recommend the Tabasco version.
4) Jalapeno Poppers: These are ideally to be eaten in tiny doses, among friends and as part of a balanced appetizer sampler, non? Well I've been known to trip into Eugene's sports bars during off-hours and semi-formally take down a whole order w/ knife and fork.
3) Vegetarian Jerky/Vegetarian Ramen: both (pale imitations) are unhealthy and thrice the price of their meat-based (or meat-underwritten, as it were) foils. Further proof that we ovo-lactos are wannabe carnivores, and also that we're high-brow wankers!
2) Everything Morningstar Farms: I am a real "fake meat and potatoes" kind of Irish-Catholic shit, and thus avail myself of the Farms' products as part of my risky life-routine. When I make the Buffalo Wings, par example, it's always with a chaser set to the tune of Frank's Red Hot and butter. No wonder I look like a mound of balloons when swimsuit season rolls around!
1) Frank's Red Hot (solo): Ask any roomate! When it's my time to make dinner, I'll twice or thrice or a coupla dozen times pour a half-dollop of Frank's into my palm and lick it up. No nutrients involved, just "taste," and the pleasure that comes into a built-in cycle of lick, pain, guilt.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Now we have a delightful smattering of "kill daddy":
At one point, we thought her sole selling point was a rootsy genuineness and the ability to stay on script. Turns out she's not even good at that.
- It's official: "community organizer" = "Saul Alinsky + ACORN". Thanks to NW Republican for echoing Tom Frank's portrait of the ideological fantasies of the Fox News plurality and their "activist" vanguard. I just wish they would extend the "community organizer" frame to include Teachers' Unions and Gangster Politicians, then the entire public sector en general.
- It's important to remember that the conversation about subsidizing capital markets has yet to mention working Americans in anything but the most passing way. Ben Smith has a nice riff here on the bevy of Left and Center-Left economic minds about to have a "Come to Jesus" sesh with nominee Obama, and I can only hope that the Stiglitz side gets some actual play.
- Benjamin Dangle with a very important summary of the violent coup attempt in Bolivia this September and the crescendo still ahead as the Morales government attempts to ratify its Draft Constitution. It is interesting to see the coalescing of both Left and Center-Left governments in Latin America (not to mention Colombia) around Morales' explicitly socialist project. It is unsurprising to note signs of US support for the "white" oligarchy and its resource-rich regional governors, and it is ironic to note the prevalence of the initiative, recall and referendum in the historic process.
- Why am I so cynical about The Battle in Seattle?
I do know different. How someone could enjoy The Simpsons and vote Republican is beyond me, but they obviously do. Still. I shouldn't have to watch your horrible, horrible commercials where a woman who was raped in 1986 tries to blame Jeff Merkley for not supporting some bill in 2007 would have "prevented" crimes like this in the future. Because, you know, serial rapists are worried about the length of the sentance they might endure.
Of course, the whole problem is the Republicans continue to kick our ass at this game. Some Republican state Rep probably dropped a whole host of no-hope extremeist measures in the hopper. Merkely didn't bring them up for a vote, because they had no chance. Now the GOP can say that he opposed this or voted against that. He's pro-rapist for fuck sake because he didn't support the "Behead all rapists before they have a chance to speak in court" bill. Disgusting.
Anyway, Gordo, get your commercials off my shows. There are plenty of JAG and Murder, She Wrote reruns on at the same time. Those are your people. Get them fired up.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
A colleague and I had a meeting yesterday with representatives from a local organization called Pregnancy Support Services and a campus group called Carolina HOPE (an acronym for "Helping Our Peers with Encouragement"). PSS is a "crisis pregnancy center." You probably already know what that coded language signifies, but I encourage you to check out their web site. At the very least, stay long enough to enjoy the over-produced flash video on their home page. Go ahead, I'll wait...
...Crazy, huh? This is precisely the kind of through-the-looking glass nonsense that will shape our reality with Sarah Palin in/near the White House. Somehow we are expected to swallow the notion that this "pro-woman" organization is all about "choice" and "empowerment." (Hell, given that, you might even go so far as to characterize it as a feminist organization! In exactly the same way that Palin is a feminist candidate!) As with McCain's running mate, a fundamental dishonesty permeates everything about this organization. And the woman they sent to talk to me and my colleague? Also fundamentally dishonest to her very core.
(Actually, just as an aside, the woman actually reminded me of Sarah Palin in many ways. Very put together, confident, aggressive, and never for a second deviating from a carefully-crafted set of talking points.)
Anyway, the PSS rep was the handler (and puppet master) for a sweet, painfully earnest staff person for Carolina HOPE, a "a student-led Christian organization dedicated to assisting individuals facing the challenges of unplanned pregnancy, encouraging sexual abstinence outside of marriage, and educating individuals regarding the consequences of sexually transmitted diseases and other health concerns." (We initially agreed to a meeting with the student group; the PSS rep showed up uninvited.)
Why were meeting with these people, you might ask? (And believe me, I asked that many times myself.) I was there representing the Women's Center mainly to do some proactive damage control. Those of you who remember the PopTart days may recall me writing about the Women's Center's past unpleasantness with anti-choice student groups. It's a long story (one that involves these fuckers, who essentially orchestrated the whole mess from behind the scenes), but it resulted in, among other things, a ruling from our University Counsel that, unless we agree to represent "both sides" of the issue equally (which we will not do), we can't advertise or promote any program related to reproductive rights. Un-fucking-believable, but true. That was three years ago, and my director and I, both of whom came to the University after that debacle, have been fighting to change this. But that means for now we need to stay off the radar screens of the anti-choice crowd and their backers. So when the "HOPE" woman asked me to meet with her, I agreed to go and politely hear what she had to say.
My colleague is a sexual health educator with our campus Wellness organization. Her boss sent her because, on paper, HOPE claims to do exactly what she does: counseling and programming around sexuality, healthy relationships, and STI awareness/prevention.
So we sat and listened to their pitches, then got to ask them some questions. I'm mostly going to leave the HOPE woman out of this, because, although her organization clearly has an agenda that I vehemently oppose, she (as an individual) was just one of those "blissed out on Jesus" types who could just as easily have been teaching Sunday school as working for this campus organization. In other words, I got the sense that she does what she does just because she loves Jesus. Whatever. Then again, it's hard to completely let her off the hook when I think about what disastrous consequences abstinence-only education has had on so many young people's lives. NC is (shock!) an abstinence-only state. Coming to the University is, for many students, the first opportunity they've had to get comprehensive information about sex. If this group had their way, even that would be off the table. That saddens me. And it pisses me off.
But far, far worse was the (personal and institutional) agenda of the PSS woman. Evil lying liar. She said with a straight face that one of the things she loved about her organization was that it was "not political" and "didn't advocate for one side or another of any issue." (They don't support abortion rights and won't give referrals to anyone who wants to terminate their "crisis pregnancy" and the information they provide about abortion procedures are misleading and inaccurate--again, check out their web site to see what I am talking about; you really have to see this to believe it...but this, apparently, is "not political.") Their "open, tolerant, non-judgmental" approach is a result of their "Christian philosophy."
But Christian love is not the only unexpected benefit you can get if you show up at their clinic for a pregnancy test or STI screening. If the test says preggers, you will be treated to a free ultrasound. Isn't that awesome?! Other physicians charge for this, but they give first-trimester ultrasounds away for free--whether you want it or not! Why? So you can find out how far along you are and if it is a viable pregnancy. Oh, and also so you can see God's beautiful creation that you might monstrously choose to destroy. But that's neither here not there, of course. If you remain unconvinced and are hellbent on murdering a baby, you get pre-abortion counseling. Here you will find out how brutal, painful, and permanently emotionally-damaging abortion is. Also, PSS woman told us, at this point many people find it comforting for their health care provider to pray with them. What if the patient is not Christian or religious, we asked? Well, you might be interested to know that at moments of crisis many people find that they develop a newfound faith. Really, it happens! Such is the nature of god's (completely apolitical and value-neutral) love! And she noted that she herself likes to take the time to ask her patients about how their crisis pregnancy fits into their "worldview" while she has them in the examining room. (Let me just interject a big WTF??? at this point. Can you imagine this? You're sitting there freaked out, having just gotten confirmation of something huge and life-altering--and probably not in a good way, or you would be at your OB-GYN's office, not a crisis pregnancy clinic. And at that moment of profound vulnerability, some jesus freak swoops in and starts probing you about your beliefs and trying to pray with you. So. Not. Cool.) This course of action is known as helping you "consider your choices." (By the same token, their 800 number is known as the "option line.") See, they're not anti-choice! That's just propaganda from the pro-abortion crowd!
Even before students get knocked up, they can visit the clinic for free STI screening or information about birth control. Now this is a little dicey, since the organization subscribes to an abstinence-only philosophy. But in addition to free (free!!!) services, they'll give you the straight dope: about how condoms almost always fail and the huge number of fornicators who get painful, incurable diseases, and the detrimental physical, emotional, and spiritual effects of sex outside of marriage. Will Planned Parenthood tell you all that? No sir! And Campus Health may give you medically accurate information, but without any information at all about how Jeebus wants you to save yourself for marriage (or how you're going to hell if you don't). That, my friend, is real choice.
It was really hard to sit and listen to this. My Southern politeness was definitely put to the test. But at the end of our conversation (wherein I accomplished my mission of assuring them that we at the Women's Center were not preforming abortions in our back room, deflecting their attention away from our organization, and not being incarcerated for homicide), the HOPE woman presented me and my colleague with tins of muffins (two kinds!) with a note that read "Thanks for taking the time to meet!"
Initially I planned to abstain, on principle, from the Jesus muffins. But they were sweet and tempting and I was hungry. So I ate two of them. And I don't feel guilty. Not. One. Bit.
Anyway, all this to say that we cannot lose this election. Seriously, we can't fuck this one up. The consequences are just too scary. And I doubt they'll come with muffins.
For the record, while this may seem to have the trappings of a "personal, not religious" objection to the casting away of traditional marriage party labels, I'm pretty sure it came about after these morons couldn't figure out who was Party A and who was Party B.
In the mythology of the American right, federal rank-and-file workers are villains whose wickedness is surpassed only by that of the Soviet Communists themselves. They have just four concerns in life, sneered the journalist Don Feder in 1985: "pay, pension sick leave and throwing around their not inconsiderable weight around. No one has to teach us to detest public workers. It comes naturally, by process of observation and experience. "
Their tendency to join unions makes these public workers even more detestable. Once organized, civil servants support liberals, both with votes and campaign contributions - and these liberals, once in office, return the favor by making generous concessions to their unionized employees. Or so it seemed, anwyay, back in the seventies wen everyone from teachers to trashmen was going on strike - and winning, too. In that unhappy decade, the conservative mind began to dimly perceive a diabolical scenario unfolding, a disastrous endgame in which its two greatest enemies came together as one: government remade as a tool of its unionized employees, who would use its tax power to plunder the hardworking businessman.
The famous "Prop 13" tax revolt that swept Californaia in 1978 was inspired at least partially by this doomsday vision, with the rebellion's leader thundering, "We're not going to permit public employee unions to run this country." The issue also spawned an obligatory bout of direct-mail profiteering, with an outfit called Americans Against Union Control of Government sending out appeals for funds to help them fend off the "very real possibility of a relative handful of unions bosses seizing control of America's government."
The vivid colors of this particular catastrophe-dream have long since faded in the public mind, but Washington conservatives never forgot. Their policy toward career government personnel has always been to club them down, and by putting it into effect they have delivered massive rewards both to their political faction and to their primary constituents in the business community.
'Fitting we'd be having one of those gray days today as I nestle back into overdue revisions. A very special friend re-emerged, and it has been necessary to celebrate. But things are turning nerdy again.
Taking the separation of the political and the economic under capitalism even in its present phase, as our point of departure, the state should be seen (as should capital, according to Marx) as a relation, or more precisely as the condensate of a relation of power between struggling classes. In this way we escape the false dilemma entailed by the present discussion on the tstae, betwen the state comprehended as a thing/instrument and the state comprehended as a subject.
But I repeat, the relative autonomy of the state, founded on the separation (constantly being transformed) of the economic and the political, is inherent in its very structure (the state is a relation) in so far as it is the resultant of contradictions and of the class struggle as expressed, always in their own specific manner, within the state itself - this state which is both shot through and constituted with and by these class contradictions. It is precisely this that enables us exactly to pinpoint the specific role of the bureaucracy which, although it constitutes a specific social category, is not a group standing above, outside or to one side of classes: an elite, but one whose members also have a class situation or membership.
Indeed, conceiving of the capitalist state as a relation, as being structurally shot through and constituted with and by class contradictions, means firmly grasping the fact that an institution (the state) that is destined to reproduce class divisions cannot really be a monolithic, fissureless bloc, but is itself, by virtue of its very structure (the state is a relation), divided.
And I've had a positive experience, let me tell you. Considered alongside Laclau or Althusser, Poulantzas' theory distinguishes itself through its explicit engagement with the capitalist state as a political and social form. This is an important contribution, because serious theories of the class politics of the Liberal state eluded mainstream marxist theory - allowing for the anomalie and/or miracle that is the work of Gramsci - until the late 1960s. The politics of the state have also hounded American labor politics: Gompers' AFL wanted to maintain real distance with parties and government; Wobblies were bomb-tossing, no-contract anarchists; industrial unions made an ambitious, ill-fated run to expand the public and private sector welfare and establish a liberal-corpratist American consensus via collective bargaining and the Democratic Party. These diverse ideologies reflect unions' understanding of government, and, notably, electoral politics, as a major scene in labor politics, and one that has demanded decisive responses.
My current problem involves reconciling this broad, 20th Century labor history - "craft" vs. "industrialism," New Deal corporatism, Reagan etc - with the somewhat divergent, eruption of public employee organizing in the 1960s-1970s, and the equally virulent, counter-organization against public employee unions (and the public sector in general) under neoliberalism. Public employees enjoy a special place in the labor movement, having enjoyed relative successes in organizing throughout neoliberalism (ed - that's a bit of a generalization, but consider the neoliberal era to span 1973-now). Simultaneously, public workers occupy a place of privilege in the ideological fantasies of the activist Right. Coincidentally (or not), public employee unions trend towards a different-looking labor movement with far larger proportions of women and people of color, for example. In figurative and literal ways, this labor population leads workplace and electoral struggles in, for and through the capitalist state. Does public workers' proximity to state power, over and above many other distinguishing characteristics, make the public sector/the state an essentially different venue of political struggle than the private labor market?
We will continue this discussion of the public sector unions specifically soon with some words from Thomas Frank, but first I want to return to an important insight for marxist theory that is highlighted in Poulantzas: a generalized agnosticism when it comes to the validity of the "public-private" distinction in liberal political economy and the mainstream political culture. Even after Keynesianism has been burnt in effigy and pissed on (not unlike the flash-in-the-pan that was Althusserianism, come to think of it) by multiple sub-generations (of Democrats, even), no sane person could argue that the State is not an economic agent in the capitalist economy. Yet an overwhelming amount of blood and ink have been spilled since the 'capital-L' Liberal division of labor between politics/government and "the economy" set the table for wars, governments and social movements that mobilized their politics of redistribution and recognition around "nationalization," "privatization," of resources .
In what way are public employee unions different and the same as private sector unions? is what I'm wondering. And Poulantzas reminds me that while the public-private distinction is meaningful as a frame through which all mainstream political agents must pass, it is above all a _____________
a) Social Fact
c) Structural "Effect"
d) Lacanian Imaginary
- that can be manipulated/appropriated/disrupted/undermined under certain conditions. The public/private distinction is meaningful, but also arbitrary. I'd been on to this line of thought for years - at least as long as I've been working inside public-service unions - but I've been incredibly happy to finally make this overdue journey into Poulantzas and find the distilled (if also highly concentrated dense) instance in marxist state theory.
McCain refused to say if he would meet with the President of Spain and thought that Spain was in Latin America because as a POW for five-and-a-half years he had crazy men shouting at him in foreign accents, thereby permanently damaging his ability to understand anything other than American English. And as far as geography goes, McCain spent five-and-a-half years studying the inside of a 5' x 5' cell. That's the geography he knows!
I would like to apply to be a columnist for your fine publication. I believe I would fit in with the fine stable of men and women who currently write for your paper. As I have no experience, other than a blog I would prefer you don't find out about, I have taken the liberty of writing out the topic sentences for a year's worth of columns for the 2012 presidential election. I hope you will see that
Struggling economy, unpopular war with Iran leave McCain vulnerable.
Field of Democratic challengers strong, fight it out to see who will assuredly replace McCain.
Wal-Martification of American economy has left America prey to powerhouses China and India.
Democratic front-runner has glaring personality flaw that could spell defeat in November.
Democratic front-runner stumbles in debate, challengers bear down.
Crucial month for Democrats, nation.
Surprisingly strong third-place showing in Iowa reshuffles Democratic pack.
Democrats in-fighting, should be focusing on McCain.
New Hampshire narrows Democratic field to three, reform on agenda for all.
Super Tuesday surprise hands nomination to upstart Democratic challenger.
McCain camp "ready for fight," but internal squabbling blunts message.
Democratic nominee calls for focus on "issues," not "personalities," blasts McCain's handling of economy, war.
Economy, health care crisis continue to be burden to Americans, McCain struggles to find answers.
McCain cheers on Diamondbacks, Democratic challenger has ties to several teams.
Campaign trail gaffe: Democratic challenger questions need for rural Oregonians to use dogs to hunt cougars; appeal to far-left PETA crowd could hurt support in rural America.
Far-left attacks on McCain could backfire, Democratic challenger calls for "clean campaign."
Continued GOP use of 9/11 as justification for war a falsehood, Democrats need to go on the attack.
Questions raised about patriotism of Democratic challenger.
Democratic challenger grew up in same hometown as notorious child molester.
McCain says economy will rebound, accuses Democratic challenger of hoping it continues to fail.
Civil war in Kerplekistan: McCain blames Muslim extremists, Democratic challenger says "wait and see" approach best.
Democratic challenger's spouse went to Harvard, Yale, never eaten bacon-cheddar potato skins at TGI Fridays.
Cindy McCain embraces role as first lady, loves babies.
Republican insiders surprisingly say Palin has learned from last four years, ready to lead.
McCain would need spectacular convention to revive hopes of retaining the presidency.
Questions about McCain's health show prejudice among Democrats, do not belong in campaign about "issues."
Historic convention bounce has McCain barely trailing in polls; McCain resilient, America still loves Palin.
Where is Democratic challenger? Should Dems have picked other guy?
Allies in Middle East say weak America could destabilize tense situation.
Perhaps only McCain could get bipartisan support necessary to accomplish "Democratic" reforms.
Campaign turns nasty, as Democratic challenger accuses McCain of performing poorly on economy, war.
Vice Presidential debate shows that pitbull Palin, GOP not ready to back down.
Both McCain and Democratic challenge declare debate success, ready for stretch run.
On eve of historic election, America divided, ready for change.
Historic re-election shows that maverick McCain has mandate for change.
I can haz journamalism job now?
Also, yesterday I listened to an NPR story on the polls. Typical stuff.
Republican pollster goes first. Huge bounce from convention. McCain up by 5. Will come back a little, but will be ahead heading into the fall. No racism in campaign, but Dems say they worry about McCain's age. Dems equal discriminators. White women love Palin. Greatest decision ever. Highest bounce ever. Greatest comeback ever. McCain should be way behind, is ahead. Historic campaign.
Democratic pollster goes. Ummm, well very complicated. Worked on campaigns in the past. Polls spot on in primaries, no racism expected to play in. High turnout could affect polls. Of course white women love McCain, they are Republicans. Umm...McCain strengthening base. Ummm...complicated. America very divided. High turnout could swing it.
I start crying at this point. How many times must a party get beat, before a party starts asking why? Every "fucking" time. Republican: strong, assertive, assured, lying, knows no one in the world is going to call him on it, understand radio interview is propaganda opportunity. Democrat: Hesitant, concerned with nuance, conceeding to opponent, half-heartedly asserts that what looks obvious just might not be, thinks radio interview is opportunity to discuss issues/educate voters.
Then I read in today's paper a NYT/CBS poll shows Obama ahead by 5, no convention bounce for McCain, and no increased strength for McCain among women. Did the Dem pollster not know about this? Arrrrrgggg....fuck, fuck, fuck and why, why, why? Why every four years do we manage to find ways to just hand the goddamn election to them?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I had a wonderful working weekend at the Oregon Coast last weekend. I would gladly put AFT 3544 up for "Most Kick-Ass Union: All-Around" if such a competition existed. 16 people working together in harmony and good spirit, willing to do whatever is necessary to make the union better. Love.
The point of this post, however, is to recount two very special people who went above and beyond the call of union brotherhood and entered themselves into a a more special category which has no name. Okay the name is "men," but it would be sexist if I said so.
Our little retreat faced one crisis, namely that there was an Oregon Duck football game happening in the middle of the retreat. It was originally supposed that the game could easily be recorded and viewed when the business portion of the retreat had ended and the more important socializing began. What better way to socialize than over some good clean college football? Kidding, of course. It might surprise you to learn that, in the general, graduate employees are not big fans of the college athletics, believing, instead, that scarce resources might be better used to pay them.
Unfortunately, VCRs have gone the way of American labor unions -- once ubiquitous and useful, but now largely seen as antiquated and annoyingly analog. (BOOM!) There was a VCR on site (we rent a large house), but the remote had long been replaced with a universal remote, which is fine, unless you have a standard video tape, which is good for 2 hours, unless you use the remote to adjust the recording setting from "Standard" to "Extended Long Play." So we were faced with a (potentially) four hour game and a two hour tape. Now, a lot of grad unions would have packed it in right there, devolving into an acrimonious debate about the futility of "taping" anything. Not the GTFF. It was calmly suggested that I purchase another tape when I drove into Waldport to to pick up more wine and beer. Brilliant.
Football watching crisis number two happened when the grocery store in Waldport didn't have blank tapes. And, when you think about it, why the hell would they? The 17 year-old who I asked practically laughed at me. Then he said the words that will haunt my sleep for some time, "I can't think of any place that would have them in this town." I should mention that the game had already started and I was under a tight deadline. But before I mention that, you might find it interesting to know that my sleep was actually haunted last night by a dream wherein I had to stop a suicidally depressed Keith Appleby (no relation) from shooting himself in the head. With a gun. It was pretty intense. Somehow this dream later morphed into me stopping Sarah Palin from shooting herself in the head. Less intense.
Anyway, I was on a deadline and beginning to start my mind whirring about alternatives, if I was unable to secure a second tape. I was driving a short distance down Highway 101 when I noticed a drug store. I hoped that mixed in with the notions and pills might be a dusty old video tape. I should stop here to mention that all of my interactions regarding the video tape were complicated by the fact that I now pronounce the word "video" as "vidja" after Hank Hill in a family-beloved episode of King of the Hill. The fine service industry employees from Waldport suffered repeated queries about the possibility of me purchasing a "vidja tape" from them. As I was walking into the drug store I had a stoke of genius. Failing to secure a regulation video tape, I could attempt to purchase an old video tape from one of the many, many
The drug store "used to have" video tapes, but I could tell by the woman's reaction to my question that the "used to" was sometime in the '90s. She did, however, suggest that I check out the Radio Shack. She asked me if I knew where it was, god bless her sweet little heart. After getting directions, I started out. On the the half-mile journey to the Shack, I passed a video store, a grocery store larger than the one I had patronized earlier, and an ACE-brand hardware store. All potential tape-purchasing resources. Lesson here? Do not trust 17-year-olds in Waldport to help you find technology that was being phased out when they were born.
The Shack had two options for me, the regular "6 hour" tape or the super "9 hour" tape. The "9 hour" tape -- really a three hour tape without the ELP -- would come in handy if the game went into OT, but it was $5.99 as opposed to $1.99 for the regular tape. I made the snap decision to save the four bucks and go standard.
All went smoothly as far as swapping the tapes out. It happened to be halftime when I went downstairs where the tv was playing the game -- I loudly sang the UO fight song in case the announcers were talking about how awesome Oregon was looking and kept my eyes lowered, unnecessarily as it turned out. Those paying attention might notice that having one tape completed at half time means that we are pushing it for getting the whole game in, but I wasn't worried as it was the end of the halftime break and I figured the game got a late start. Those really paying attention will note that I don't know if "half time" is one word or two.
Around 3:30 pm the retreat had concluded business for the day, but the tape still had an hour to run. No problem. We could just let the tape run until it was done and watch the game at 4:30 pm. Unless...unless the game went into overtime. Then we risked missing the crucial last plays of the game. Yes, we could catch the 11:00 pm replay of the game, or more to the point, wake ourselves up at approximately 3:30 am to catch the last few minutes, but this seemed extreme. I might mention here that by this point it had become pretty clear that only two people at the retreat actually cared about the game, myself and the aforementioned Appleby, who later that night would go on to become my "wine stain" buddy, as we managed to slob all over ourselves.
That is one Glenn "GMo" Morris stepped up to the plate, offering to check to see if the game was indeed going to finish before the tape did. His first report to us was that there would be no problem. This was a relief. Appleby and I even briefly contemplated a trip to the beach with the intention of watching the game whenever we got back. While we schemed, Glenn reported to me that he had earlier been mistaken and there were indeed thirteen minutes left in the game. We had approximately 20 minutes of tape. Given that all football games are legally required to stop the clock every forty-five seconds to give Americans a chance to weigh their purchasing options, we knew we were in trouble.
That is when a second "man" stepped up to the proverbial plate and offered to stop the tape during the commercial breaks, so that the tape didn't run out. Wes Shirley is his name, becoming my hero is his game. Not only did he perform this vital function, he also got up and pushed the fast forward button through all the commercials for us during the game.
Now, it may have a occurred to many of you that Glenn's earlier "mistake" about the time was an indication that the game went into overtime. You are better than me. Or more sober. And less likely to underestimate Glenn's knowledge of football.
In addition to these two awesome men, who never ever once let on that the game went into overtime, let alone who won, the entire house, save me and Appleby (and maybe Katie, I can't remember), knew who won the game and they never let on in the least, even as we were punching things, cursing the fates, and then running around the house in jubilation.
These truly are brothers and sisters. I love them. Again, I will put these people up against any union in the country. Bring them on. We'll tape it.
So, when Barack Obama says he will put some lipstick on my pig, I am, like, Are you calling me a pig? If so, thanks! Pigs are the most non-Élite of all barnyard animals. And also, if you put lipstick on my pig, do you know what the difference will be between that pig and a pit bull? I’ll tell you: a pit bull can easily kill a pig. And, as the pig dies, guess what the Hockey Mom is doing? Going to her car, putting on more lipstick, so that, upon returning, finding that pig dead, she once again looks identical to that pit bull, which, staying on mission, the two of them step over the dead pig, looking exactly like twins, except the pit bull is scratching his lower ass with one frantic leg, whereas the Hockey Mom is carrying an extra hockey stick in case Todd breaks his again. But both are going, like, Ha ha, where’s that dumb pig now? Dead, that’s who, and also: not a smidge of lipstick.Also, did anyone else catch Jon Stewart's bit on the not blinking last night?
A lose-lose for the pig.
Good stuff. UPDATE: Now with the right good stuff. Not that all of Jon's stuff isn't good.
Is it on? Has anybody else seen this ad?
Monday, September 15, 2008
To be sure, there's a bit of self-interest reflected in these vids.
However, I think there's something more interesting going on here (and with Rove's recent posturing) that lies beneath the surface. As dr has pointed out, there is a ferocious power struggle within the GOP right now, with three different constituencies fighting over who will control the party's corpse.
It's not news that McCain is not a particularly popular figure with the party faithful, and his campaign strategy of running against the GOP while promoting the party's ideas seems to me an impossible task. But with his selection of Palin, he's essentially sold his soul to the social conservatives who are a big enough plurality of the party so as to call the shots.
There's also a lack of recognition among the GOP about the bankruptcy of conservatism as a governing philosophy (a point which Obama is starting to hammer) - they basically think that their shit is an essential ingredient in eau de toilette.
All of this is to say that I think the internecine backstabbing within the GOP is to prepare McCain as a patsy for a loss in November. You'll note that Palin, despite her inexperience, corruption, and cronyism, is spared any criticism from the right, presumably in the belief that she is the amiable Bush-like character who can sell the extremist Republican agenda four years down the road. Should the GOP ticket lose in November (a possibility which many Republican pooh-bahs either recognize or are now actively abetting), the blame can be fixed on McCain's inept campaigning rather than the obvious shortcomings of conservatism (which, of course cannot fail - it can only be failed).
updated: via kos and Stoller, the Mitt! video is from the primaries. But I'll still stick with my conspiracy theory.
Number of readers who openly admit to breaking the eighth commandment: 4 -- 20 Hail Marys
Number of readers who admit to breaking the eighth commandment, but with shame in their hearts: 7 -- 10 Hail Marys
Number of readers who break the eighth commandment, but seem to think there's a "really good reason" clause in the bible: 5 -- 20 Hail Marys, 10 Our Fathers
Number of readers who cop to the sin of ignorance: 2 -- 4 Our Fathers
Number of readers who walk the righteous path, but will enevitably fall because no person is without sin, might we mention pride?: 3 -- 1 Our Father
as the unknown unknowns have turned into known unknowns, the system has been experiencing postmodern bank runs. These don’t look like the old-fashioned version: with few exceptions, we’re not talking about mobs of distraught depositors pounding on closed bank doors. Instead, we’re talking about frantic phone calls and mouse clicks, as financial players pull credit lines and try to unwind counterparty risk. But the economic effects — a freezing up of credit, a downward spiral in asset values — are the same as those of the great bank runs of the 1930s.
What is next, investors jumping out of virtual windows, or mmorpgs for soup and bread???
Unfortunately, the pain is very real.
"I Don't Know Why"
"Living for the City" - even Taylor Hicks couldn't ruin this song for me.
And a "Superstitious" that makes Sesame Street more funky than it has any right to be. Seriously, where the fuck are the 6+ minute funkathons on Barney?
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Wobs, I feel for you. I have a fundamentalist cousin who sounds much like your sister.
On that topic, I just came across this at Hullabaloo:
Rove's job, and by extension McCain's job, is to basically nuke reality and leave everything open to question. In a world where there is an objective reality, Republicans can't function and certainly can't run their electoral strategy. They need two things - ignorance and an unknowable truth. That's been true since well before the Mayberry Machiavellis arrived in Washington and will be true long after they leave.
And so Sarah Palin's ignorance of the Bush Doctrine is OK, because most Americans don't know what it means either. In fact, the less knowledge a world leader has, the better, because they can't be muddled up with all those facts about how occupied countries historically resist occupation or how countries become interdependent or which country wields power over their sphere of influence, or such related nonsense. Candidates who have little interest in foreign affairs are "authentic" and the kind of reg'lar folks we need to rule with their gut-level belief.
If ruling from the gut is good, voting from the gut must be divine...
I've moved beyond cautious optimism into the "fuck yeah!" stage of baseball fandom.
I should mention that my sister doesn't pay much attention to politics, which is no big shakes, considering she's right there with the majority of the electorate. Her reasons for supporting McPalin were that 1)she's conservative, 2)McCain has more experience, and 3)she's concerned that Obama "changes his mind" too much. Admittedly, I did want to sway her, but knowing that lecturing someone isn't the most effective way to change minds, I asked further questions.
What does it mean when you say you're a conservative?
What is it about McCain's experience that appeals to you?
What has Obama changed his mind about that concerns you?
She responded by telling me that she's a Christian conservative, that 20+ years in the Senate plus military experience is greater than 4 years in the Senate, and that Obama's flip-flopping on the war concerned her (she doesn't believe in Obama's plan to "pull out in one day"). She also had a "gut feeling" that Obama wasn't the right person for the job and, as they say, you should "always listen to your gut."
So far, all well and good. I'm on terrain where I'm comfortable. While I might vehemently disagree that people should base political decisions on religious values (whether they be on the left or the right), I've had enough churchin' and independent study to be able to argue about politics on religious grounds. The experience angle is a legitimate point that can be mooted. And the flip-flopping objection is clearly a factual error that should be pointed out for reconsideration.
Knowing that my sister really isn't in to these sorts of conversations, I decided to not go overboard with my response. I left her still very vague definition of conservatism alone and ignored the experience argument. I did, however, let her know that Obama has never been for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and that his position, as shown in legislation introduced in the Senate and from his campaign policy positions, has been remarkably consistent. I also told her that she should rely on her head rather than her gut in making important decisions like this. At this point, I said I'd leave her alone, but offered to talk to her more about it if she's up for it.
Two days later, I get a note from my mom asking me to leave sis alone with the politics. Trés third grade, to be sure, but old familial habits from childhood die hard, I suppose. That would have been the end of it if mom hadn't included in there word that sis wouldn't vote for Obama unless "god told her to." The quotes are from my mom.
This, needless to say, has seriously shaken me up. I can't argue with god, and I sure as shit can't argue with someone who thinks that god is talking to them.
I keep asking myself where the hell this came from. My parents are both religious people, but I'm almost certain that they don't believe that god talks to them. They're more of the "god gave you a brain to make decisions, you know from the good book what god thinks you should do, so it's up to you to do the right thing" school. And while they're socially conservative, I wouldn't put them anywhere near the Dobson camp. They're simply not ideologues. On top of that, sis has a college degree from a Research I public university - it's in finance, to be sure, but it's not like she went to Liberty U.
It's one thing for me to think that a member of my family is making decisions with recourse to values that she's learned that are at odds with my own. Again, there's enough of a common ground to engage and have a serious discussion. It's a whole 'nother ball of wax to have a family member who eschews even the smallest amount of research because she knows how god wants her to vote. I've been stewing all weekend thinking that not only is sis crazy, she's actually a danger to our democracy. She's literally one of the people against whom I've been fighting for my entire adult life.
I keep telling myself I'm overreacting, that she's like any other of the millions of low-information voters out there who will cast their votes on the most dubious of grounds. Maybe it's because she's kin. But this is far beyond anything I've been faced with before, and it's no fun thinking that my sister is a complete fool.
(This is a mixtape made for Thanksgiving 2007, subtitled 'yachats2.' Due to troubles re: "partitioning" my external hard drive, my archival, monthly playlists have been mangled and lost. Luckily, hard copies still remain. Anywho, this means that I will be getting a little craftier about "music posts" on this Board. Get ready for extensive use of the vinyl-to-cd burner, and get ready for some rock writing that tries to "return the favor" to the likes of Detailed Twang, Hardcore for Nerds, Zen and the Art...etc. Anyway, download this 29-song "event" that premiered at a weekend rental on the Oregon Coast: it is as close to a "desert island" thing as i can ever imagine myself getting. Except for that it's not. Anyway, it's a chunky file, but worth it. We're covering a lotta ground, here.)
- Waylon Jennings Brand New Goodbye Song Listen to the pocket that forms between the drums and bass on this track. What genre of music is this, with the deep pockets and the wash-y, phased telecaster? A standout track on Ol' Waylon, which is a half-great, half campy covers album.
- The Walkmen Good for You's Good for Me Again, I said there were "desert island" qualities to this song selection. People who drop the U2 comparison are way off, because this stuff is sonically more interesting and lyrically more sophisticated. This music is dour like Rod Stewart doing "Cindy Incidentally" and Lou Reed doing the '69 Live version of "Some Kind of Love." Is it just me?
- Shutout Walker Brothers, The Yeah, that's a fucking galloping bass, there. Oh, the comeback Walker Brothers album! Scott belongs alongside your Bowie and your Roxy when it comes to insane, disco-y Pop antics.
- It's All Around You Tortoise Heavy hitters, friends. They should be on Blue Note, don't you think?
- Sounds Don't Come Around Here Testface One of my hometown heroes here. What a guitar figure.
- Superman (Where Were You When I Needed You) Stevie Wonder Yes, I actually would say that Music of My Mind is my favorite Stevie. The live shit from this period goes really well alongside the (admittedly brasher) Miles fusion stuff. This is way out there American soul expressionism. What do you want?
- Stones Sonic Youth Speaking of American institutions...this is from my beloved Nurse. God, there were so many awesome gtr departures generated during the Jim O'Rourke era.
- When the Sun Hits Slowdive An all-time great. The guitar sounds following the chorus, folks. I have decided that my next album will have unprecedented amounts of overdubs and sparkly haze, partially under the effects of classic albums like Slowdive's Souvlaki, which is like the shoegaze Bad Moon Rising.
- Farewell Farewell Sandy Denny And now a beautiful and frightening woman will make you wretch from feeling too much.
- What Sin Replaces Love Cardinals Cardinals have moved on from their doctrinaire Dead worship into more of a mixed bag (lotsa Sonic Youth, Crazy Horse and Faces in there, too)... but this tune should not be forgotten. This is their take on a late 60s Dead, Viola Lee Blues vibe.
- Love is the Drug Roxy Music Did I mention Pop-Art disco? I need this song on 12", if anybody's wondering about me and the holiday season.
- Fool to Cry Rolling Stones Real Stones fans know that Black and Blue and Goat's Head Soup contain real wonders, right?
- Whoo! Alright-Yeah....Uh-Huh Rapture, the I cannot find my cd copy of the so-awesome Pieces of the People We Love, which bums me out because this is the ultimate ex-urban-christmas-shopping music. You know what I mean. Are they the biggest Gravity band ever?
- Poptones Public Image Limited Lest we forget that most of the great rock of the last half-century was made in the 1970s. Maybe "rock" is not the word for this. Maybe "punk" isn't either. I'm a Sex Pistols fan, but I don't think that classic stuff even gets near the greatness of the first 3 PIL albums. Maybe you disgaree?
- Psychic Power Control Pitchblende Underrated DC math warriors. I love the changes. 'Saw them, Chisel and the Monorchid one enchanted evening at the Cooler.
- Haunt You Down Pavement In my mind, this is Pavement's high-water mark. This was the A-side of the bonus 7" that accompanied Crooked Rain. The gtr solo, the haunting moog, and SM's vocal delivery haunt me. Haunt, haunt, haunt! The ultimate sleazy, creepy sex music for overeducated prudes.
- Tony Baines Oxes Speaking of braniac rock, this is the music I listen to while taking comprehensive exams. 'Gets me psyched, gets me active and gets me agile. The oxes rock way more than most math bands, I think.
- You Can't Escape the Hands of Love Otis Clay Otis Clay, telling you the truth.
- Between the Bars Mojave 3 Wispy, strummy sadness from the Slowdive people a decade on.
- Ain't No Use Meters (live) Guitars everywhere.
- Wailing Like Dragons Lungfish Coincidentally or no, I stopped listening to GBV once I started listening to Lungfish.
- Hey Cowboy Lee Hazelwood From Cowboy in Sweden, this sexual conversation is overdetermined by the piercing, unrelenting "Land of the Midnight Sun." Let me explain to you that I have never used powders or pills, so I cannot hope to identify with the vapid kind of panic just below the surface of Hazelwood's smirking, "easy" delivery. I would like to hand a large brass trophy to whoever produced this recording session. Maybe the best horns ever?
- Summer Madness Kool and the Gang You've been down this road with me before... I love the escalating synth shards!
- Out of this World John Coltrane From Live in Seattle, an album of massive personal significance for me and my fictive kin. Coltrane and Pharoah are out of hand early on this track, and McCoy Tyner's (late Modernist) way of "holding it down" with thick, elegant and minor chords. This is music made by people looking for a needle in the flamestack.
- Chinatown Jets to Brazil Blake S. from Jawbreaker telling a Gen-X-cum-beatnik story about the boys down in New York City.
- Escape-ism James Brown 'Speaks for itself.
- Move on Up Curtis Mayfield A life-affirming anthem. We all have Curtis, right?
- Radio Towers Boys Life Creepy, momentum-building, momentum-stifling operations from a band with some of the best dynamics of any of the post-Spiderland 1990s crop. Their epic Departures and Landfalls was recorded by Bob Weston, from Shellac of North America .
- Balanced on its Own Flame Labradford If anybody actually lives up to the desire that rock critics call "post-rock," it is Labradford. From the early, excellent A Stable Reference, this really sounds like a punk band playing Eno's Music for Films.
Parsing that out, it's clear that Rove doesn't have a problem with lying per se, but rather lying in campaign ads that have the imprimatur of McCain approving the message. Had the lies come out in, say, an ad put out by a 527 or in a push-poll, I'm sure he would have been high-fivin' Chris Wallace after delivering his "objective" analysis.
- I am indulging in Jameson on Jameson, as of yesterday. "We could say, following the initial Frankfurt School account of the "Culture Industry," that capital is in the process of colonizing the most remote part of the mind - the aesthetic - that traditionally seemed to resist its logic (being governed, as a classical aesthetics taught us, by "purposefulness without a purpose"): on Mandel's account, then, consumer society would be a thoroughgoing push into this area of the mind - culture the unconscious, whatever you want to call it - and a final rationalizing, modernizing, industrializing, commodifying, colonizing, of the non- or precapitalist enclave left surviving there. But that does not mean the "end" of culture: on the contrary, it might just as plausibly be argued that the conquest of culture and its traditional spaces and instruments by capital now determines an enormous expansion in culture proper - its semi-autonomy lost, its isolation a thing of the past (neither praxis nor knowledge, Kant told us), it now becmoes coterminous with the social field as a whole, and everything becomes in that sense "cultural" - politics, economics, law, ideology, religion, daily life, sexuality, the body, space, et cetera, et certera. "
- Doug Henwood revieiwing Robert Kuttner's The Squandering of America. Henwood does not give Kuttner an easy time, and wonders aloud just who, exactly, Kuttner is writing to. This is a relevant question, given the "socialist Democrat" posture some people sometimes assume:
It’s not clear who the audience for this book is. At times it reads like it was written for policy wonks (who really cares about the second take on the Basel Capital Adequacy standards?—and I count myself as someone who should). At others it seems pitched to Democratic strategists. The liberal netroots maybe? But they’re less ideological than Kuttner and they don’t read books anyway. Some inchoate popular formation? A popular formation organized around what?
- The excellent left blog Kasama has continually caught my attention with self-effacing, searching criticism of the (mostly Maoist) American "far left." The blog also has a whole crowd of readers and commentors who span the ranks of the american left. En particulier I'd point you to these two seminal discussions on 1) the Far Left Parties en general and 2) the Persistence of "Trotskyite" as an in-crowd perjorative lobbed between factions like so much facepaint. Kasama also led me to related recent engagements on the topic of red-baiting within the 'NEW" SDS. Again, this makes me wanna wonder aloud as to whether or not any of the grad employees among us have engaged with SDS at all....what say you?
- How about the shake-up at MSNBC? I for one am ready for a timeout from Keith -Olbermann-as-news-anchor, who I honestly think fits in better on Football Night in America.
- a must: Balance Sheet on Two Years of Indigenous Post-Neoliberalism in Bolivia. This is very even-handed, I think. Whether you come down on the side of the racist bourgeois oligarchy or the democratic-socialist-indigenous movement is up to you: a matter of Trust, Billy Joel might say.
- I'm glad and sorta surprised (, sorta not) to see that International Socialist Review is still doing lengthy treatments on the Russian Revolution. What could possibly be more relevant for socialism in the United States than that? But you know me, I'll read anything that mentions Trotsky.
- Doug Henwood revieiwing Robert Kuttner's The Squandering of America. Henwood does not give Kuttner an easy time, and wonders aloud just who, exactly, Kuttner is writing to. This is a relevant question, given the "socialist Democrat" posture some people sometimes assume: