The Blue Raccoon

Friday, August 29, 2008

North, To Alaska
The Race Is On!
That Civics teacher we had crushes on. Gov. Sarah Palin, via Girl In Short Shorts.

Well, first of all, I imagine earlier today that that tremendous revebrating yawlp of glee from the direction of the Great Southwest game from Becky, The Girl In Short Shorts, who pegged early on in that uncanny way that bloggers who aren't In The System are able to. She picked John McCain's running mate for him.

And thus Obama's historic acceptance spectacle at the Globco Inc. Stadium got not even quite 24 hours worth of reflection and jubilation. (Image of Obama at Globco Field, from Huffington Post)

Welcome to the Republican MILF ticket. McCain's "people" if not McCain himself are connected to the current culture. Amie said to me, "He's picked the woman every man wants to marry." Well. Or something.

And she's got that anti-corruption, low-tax -- quasi-libertarian thing goin' on, too. McCain with Palin has stolen a march on Obama, and that's just the truth. Whether this will lead to the White House will make for must see teevee. As I've said, this is the Best Episode Of The West Wing Ever.

She can drive a motorcycle and a snow mobile, shoots guns, fishes with her Dad, is mother to five children. The latest came just some four months ago, with Down's Syndrome, and her eldest son is shipping out to Iraq. Her husband looks like that bearded fellow from Home Improvement (or maybe one of the guys from Ice Road Truckers), and she's pretty easy on the eyes, for a U.S. Republican politician. But as the ladies around the office here advised, she's gotta lose the bangs. Otherwise, she looks like one of those, um, "actresses" on certain websites devoted to fantasies about teachers and the best friend's mom. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

She's better looking than Joe Biden. And at 44, she's younger than anybody running.

I could belabor her political background, which is even more slender than Obama is skinny, but at McCain Command-and-Control, that doesn't matter. She's a woman. She's hot. She's anti-gay, anti-Pro Choice and pro-gun. So, there you go. All she has to do is look good and be colorful and say the right things at the right time. That's enough to pass before the U.S. voting public, as McCain's people see the situation. Whether she's qualified is a reality-based world concern. What matters first is entertaining, and second winning, and the two are almost the same.

On the part of the McCain team, this choice is a cynical, cheap political ploy, but 95 percent of anything in politics is cheap and a ploy, so that doesn't really mean anything.

No, it's the calculated risk McCain's staff seeks to widen the wedge in the almost neck-and-neck race he's in. That's the bottom line, and anybody that thinks different shouldn't go near a voting booth. This is all going to come down to two or three precincts in Ohio or Pennsylvania, anyway.

Of the Dems at Denver, what I can say is: all you need to know about the event is that both of their major venues were rechristened for businesses, not a person, nor a city, not even a quality. (The same goes for where the R's will have their week-long orgy of self-congratulation for a "job well done" even as a potential Class 3 hurricane roars toward the Gulf Coast).

The names of the gathering places for these conventions do not refer to anything of civic pride or individual achievement, just commerce. That is the circumstance of our corporatist nation now. And the Democrats are culpable in this transformation, much as the Republicans, as they've done little to stop its subtle and inexorable encroachment in our lives. In fact, they've both encouraged the development.

Some good speeches were made by a few people. But it's all just bread and circuses, no matter --and especially because-- of how good it may makes us feel. We here watched the spectacle on C-SPAN, which allowed us to view without yelling talking heads or commercial interruption, and, more Greta in the morning. (Image via reportercaps.)

I draw your attention now to an interview I heard this past week on Democracy Now! with the publisher and president of Harper's Magazine, Rick MacArthur. His latest book, which I've not read but will, is You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America.

Obama: Preposterous for reasons you'd not think of

Says MacArthur:

"Well, one reason you can’t be president is because not everyone could get slated by the Cook County Democratic machine the way Barack Obama was on several occasions when he was an Illinois politician. One of the paradoxes about Barack Obama and the notion that he represents the American ideal that anyone can become president is that he is sponsored by the political organization that epitomizes one-party rule in this country, the Cook County Democratic machine run by Richard Daley, which previously was run by his father. I mean, this is a dynasty, a political dynasty of fifty years, sixty years standing, that doesn’t allow people to run just because they feel like it or because they think they have a bright, fresh new idea. So the idea that Barack Obama represents this ideal or epitomizes this ideal is preposterous."

The Hope of Audacity

"Another thing that astonishes me is that no one seems to have read his book, The Audacity of Hope. It’s all over his book that he favors free trade, he favors—he’s very friendly with the investment bank community, with the hedge funds, with the corporate lawyers and so on and so forth. And these are the people—despite the fact that he has raised a great number of small contributions from individuals with not much money, his campaign is dominated by the corporate and the financial sectors. He does this by saying to people, “Look, you have nothing to fear from me. I’m essentially sympathetic to your points of view.” And he says so in his book. The Audacity of Hope is essentially an advertisement for his availability, for his nonthreatening position vis-a-vis the financial community."

If he goes too far outside the box and tries to become a freelancer, in other words, a real independent reformer, there’s no way Barack Obama could be the nominee for president. Absolutely inconceivable. The only hope he—

AMY GOODMAN: So why is Barack Obama giving so much play to the Clintons? I mean, Hillary Clinton will be speaking on Tuesday. President Clinton will be speaking on Wednesday. Her name will be entered. There will be the vote. It’s as if it’s a Clinton convention.

RICK MACARTHUR: Well, now we’re getting into tactics. We’re getting away from some of the other things I’m talking about. And tactically, I think this is very stupid on the part of Obama. And I seem to be the only person besides Dick Morris, Bill Clinton’s former adviser, who’s saying this. The idea—in fact, Dick Morris wrote a very funny piece the other day, saying—on his blog, saying that if Clinton—excuse me, if Obama can’t stand up to the Clintons, how can he stand up to President Putin of Russia? I would say that that’s exactly right, that he has given way too much air time to the Clintons and that Hillary Clinton has not conceded. This is another central part of the thesis of my book, which is that this is a factional fight within the Democratic Party. It’s not an ideological fight, it’s a fight over power.

You can read and should read the whole thing here.

Vast Ambitions

So, I'm not sure where that leaves us, billion-eyed audience. I'm done with third parties. None of them have the money or the leverage to even make a dint in this noise that passes for politics. We don't have a parliamentary or run off system, and there's that Electoral College, still.

Obama is not McCain, that's for sure, but he is a political animal with vast ambitions toward power. Maybe he'll do some good. Maybe he'll be Jimmy Carterized, who, by the way, was barely seen-- an asterisk-- at the Convention, nor was Wesley Clark.

The Balcony

But, like any revolutionary, you get rid of everything that came before, otherwise, you're not having a revolution. Except. This election isn't a revolution, or rather, just a revolution at the top, like those town hall clocks in Europe. At the striking of the hour, mechanical figures come out of their opposite sides of the clock face, they comically beat each other over the head, then switch places. To repeat what MacArthur said above, "It’s not an ideological fight, it’s a fight over power."

I am reminded, again, of Jean Genet's The Balcony, set in a brothel called "The House of Illusions" during the time of great social upheaval. There, the men pretend to be bishops, generals and judges, and the prostitutes fulfill their fantasies -- until the real world intrudes on their existence, and one of the whores becomes a symbol of the revolt. (image via Read a recent review here.

And so it goes.

But the first thing is, BHO-JRB have to get elected.

And I don't know how that is possible, given the lamentable state of our electorate. I am, too, reminded of the recent film Idiocracy, which almost had to circulate through the samizdat of YouTube and video. Mike Judge, who brought us Office Space and Beavis & Butthead among other such indicators of culture turns punk and deplores the audience who is watching the film. It is set in the "future" but is painful in a depiction that doesn't seem so far removed.


A low-level army man named Joe and a hooker named Rita are in a cryogenics experiment gone wrong when they awaken, Rip Van Winkle like, 500 years into a horrendous--and silly--future. The U.S. is a cul-de-sac disaster, where things have stopped working and everybody is too dumb to fix anything.

In a way, Idiocracy is a variant of Walker Percy's great novel, Love In The Ruins, wherein a scientist has devised a machine to bridge the gap between the extremes of human character, with the problem that it uses volatile "heavy sodium." Culture is deteriorating every day, but so is the protagonist's sobriety and mental stability. While the book is about Percy's reaction to the tumult of the 1960s, the general themes remain relevant today. The billion-eyed audience should read this book if you haven't, and a description is here.

Joe also fits into the mold of the classic "hero" in that he is in the Wasteland and must regenerate the fecundity of the world. He goes through the requisite trials and comes out the victor, though dubious as triumph is in the Idiocracy world.

Costco and Carl's Jr. run the culture and nobody seems to care. The President is a hulking world "Smackdown" champion--who delivers his state of address with the combination of James Brown performance and a wrestler's braggadocio. And a machine gun.

The culture is reduced to fornication and violence, and the crops are getting watered with Gator-Aide because the company owns the Department of Agriculture, and the drink has "electro-lytes" which nobody knows what it means, except that this is supposed to be good.

The crops have died, and Joe gets catapulted into the role of "smartest man in the world" to solve all the problems. There's this great scene that is sort of like the Roman emperor bringing his triumphant entry, and Comacho and Joe are having a discussion, in which Joe tries to explain he's not really smart and this is all a mistake.

If I'd written it--I would've messed the thing up, probably--I'd have this take a veer into the existential and absurd, with Joe folding his arms and refusing to help, even if he gets killed, because he knows he can't fix any of these problems due to the overwhelming stupidity of these people, and this place is so messed up, and he's stuck here, so he'd rather die. A motorized "Christian to the lions" scene occurs later in the film, and Joe, mostly because his opponents are too clumsy and dumb, wins.

I'd have moved that up -- making Comancho even more angry and confused. Sentenced to prison, he escapes, thus, since he's cheated death and incarceration, Comancho forces him to join his cabinet and not come out of a meeting until he's solved All The Problems.

Again, Joe refuses, somehow seizes a weapon, and screams, "Just fucking turn on the damn water--you're irrigating the crops with freaking Gator-Aide, you idiots!" He rants and rages. There is an argument about electrolytes. Comancho gives an order to immediately begin watering the crops with water. Joe is, after all, now too smart to be killed or jailed and he's hijacked the government -- more out of frustration and exasperation than anger.

Then they all go out to the field in folding chairs sit and wait. And wait. There is comic existential dialogue viz. Waiting For Godot, punctuated by sexual innuendo and gunplay, and just when it looks like Joe has pushed this far as he can, the plants start growing.

Now, he is made President, regardless of whether he cares for the position. ("I'd prefer not to," he'd keep saying). Rita talks him into it--turning into a kind of down market Lady Macbeth and that's how it ends, Joe installed as President because he had the sense to do one thing right.

But Judge's real version is funnier, I reckon.

Meanwhile, Down On The "Jay Dee"

Idiocracy doe not seem so distant when we take a look at a recent issue of Style Weekly that covered Obama's recent visit to Chester, Va., in the company of Gov. Tim Kaine. This is real, billion-eyed audience, not made up. Read this excerpt from Amy Begelson's story, and you tell me how the future looks to you.

"Supporters are fond of saying Obama doesn’t need to convert old voters, just find enough new ones to push himself over the edge in the rural South. Two miles down Jefferson Davis Highway, however, the message has yet to reverberate.

At the White House Motel, whose five freestanding buildings form a semi-circle around a brown lawn, the check-in clerk has not heard of Obama. A woman working the fruit stand across the highway has, but isn’t sure when the election is.

Not so for visitors at D&A Auto Service. The shop’s front lobby serves as a dayroom with plastic plants and a TV for two Vietnam vets. One has a foot-long beard, the other has tan ovals on the backs of hands where gloves left his skin exposed to the sun during a motorcycle ride.

They say Sen. Hillary Clinton might have put up a tougher fight against McCain, even if she swings both ways. And race — and Internet rumors — haven’t escaped them. They wonder aloud how a half-black, half-Indian Muslim not even born in this country got on the ticket in the first place.

“What is he going to do? Go down the census list and send out boxes of basketballs and watermelons?” one of the men asks. They would like to see Norman Schwarzkopf or Oliver North throw a hat in the ring.

They’ll settle for McCain, they say, but aren’t optimistic. “I don’t give a damn which party, which man,” one says. “It ain’t going to make a damn bit of difference.”

“Mmhmm,” the other vet agrees. “They’ve got their hands tied.”"

The whole piece is here.

And things have just started to get interesting.

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At 4:09 AM, Anonymous USpace said...

This is going to be fun. History will be made, one way or another, and it looks more likely now that it will be the right history.

Even more Hillary supporters will go for McCain now. Obama is no longer a near certainty. Heaven forbid something happens to McCain, but I believe Palin would rise to the occasion. She has the right attitude. Everyone knows Obama is NOT ready for POTUS, Palin is only for the VP. Look at Dan Quayle.

YEY SARAH PALIN! YEY John McCain! Great pick! The 1st woman for the GOP VP? SCORE!

She's conservative! SCORE! She's a Governor! SCORE! She's pro-drilling! She's a hunter! SCORE! She's a hockey Mom and played basketball in school! SCORE! She's pro-life! And she respects women! SCORE! She fights corruption! SCORE! She's high-energy! SCORE! She's tough! SCORE! She's got 5 kids! SCORE! Her son is going to Iraq in the Armed Forces! SCORE! She's married to a Blue-collar professional! SCORE! She's smart! SCORE! She's young! SCORE!

And she's a Hotty to boot! SCORE! The Left is going to go nuts! SCORE!
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
never elect a woman

who's a conservative
she's just a gender traitor

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
just HOPE to pay more taxes

DREAM about high fuel prices
CHANGE PROGRESS to move backwards

All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech, there can be no real freedom.
Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
Help Halt Terrorism Today!


At 7:00 AM, Blogger HEK said...

Ummmm...Upspace, you obviously aren't a frequent visitor to the Blue Raccoon, otherwise you'd know that I'm not really waving Gov. Palin's flag.

I find the entire situation wrong from beginning to end, and abusrd. And when I mean the entire situation, I mean that in a global, all-encompassing, non-partisan way.

I'm probably against everything Gov. Palin is for, and if you read my entry, you'd understand I think the choice is a cynical ploy.

But my guess is this was just a mass comment you send to everybody.

At 10:46 PM, Anonymous USpace said...

Hek, You're pretty much correct, it was generally a mass comment, with some changes, additions and customizations along the way. I left them on many 'Blue' and 'Red' blogs.

I'm sure we both want what is best for America, I just don't believe that what Obama/Biden have in mind will be better than what McCain/Palin will do. Here's to peace, pizza and puppy dogs for all!


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
always create more taxes

hypnotize the people
one more tax will fix it all

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
only hope for hope

push for change at all costs
change can never be bad

At 10:27 AM, Blogger HEK said...

And another thing is, people need to read the entire post, not just seize on something that they do or don't like. I think giving its entire scope, that his piece indicates that I'm basically giving up on the entire electoral process as it exists in its present form in the U.S.

Oh, I'll vote. Too many people have fought and died for that right for me to be so callous as to not exercise my franchise.

I just resent how in a nation of 300 million people, we are down to just two choices, as if such a momentous decision came down to Coke or Pepsi. This is a ridiculous way to run a nation.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger HEK said...

Ehh. Spelling errors, typed and sent too fast. "this piece" is what I meant in the fourth line.


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