Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pet peeve

Putting "totally" in front of a statement as an (usually) unnecessary intensifier. As in, "I totally love that dress!" (Overheard today). Even worse: putting "so" in front of "totally." "I so totally agree." It's the modern version of Valley Girl speak, except unlike Valley Girl speak, even nominal adults do the "totally" thing, and as far as I can tell, without a shred of self awareness. Valley Girl speak was a recognized, and much derided, affectation; this new bit of jackassery is becoming an accepted part of the language. Shallow, stupid language patterns for a shallow, stupid, declining culture.... I keep reminding myself that it's human nature to see the world as declining, but even allowing for that, it's impossible for me to look at the direction the world is moving in with anything less than horror. Politically, culturally, economically, this is a shitty time to be an American.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Youngish male black voice: "This is XXXX with the Barack Obama campaign. I won't take much of your time, but I want to talk to you about how you can help us bring change to America. This call may be recorded for quality purposes"

Me: "Sorry, but I'm not thrilled with Obama right now, and I'm a little busy."

XXXX: "OK, I understand that, but I really won't take much of your time. Why aren't you happy with Barack?" [OK, he's been trained a little bit in phone sales, unlike the last guy who called, who was a hapless tool]

Me: "OK, let's start with one word: FISA."

XXXX: "Umm, Umm, umm, let me see, I understand that" (Sound of papers rustling in the background, then long pause). "Yes, yes, ummm, I understand that. In fact, I was a little bit disappointed by the FISA vote, too. But wouldn't you say that voting for a flawed bill that was necessary to protect the country was good?" [His scripting needs a lot of work, but he's trying. Probably, he doesn't get many comments about FISA, so wasn't ready for it, but it's interesting to me that they have a script dealing with FISA at all -- they are ready to cover all the bases. Had I been quicker on my feet I would have hit him with the experience thing next, just to see what the script they have is, but instead I was honest]

Me: "Well, I think you and I have a different idea of how to protect this country. Let's move on to something I think we can both understand. I don't like hearing Obama talk around the problems of the black community in a way that shows he clearly cares more about getting white votes than solving black problems."

xxxx: Silence [I grew up in the ghetto, but don't have the typical black accent, so he was probably stunned to hear a "white" voice say something like that, plus it's probably not something he's heard at all, or was trained to respond to. I was sort of aiming for this, to get an honest response out of him]

XXXX: "Well, well, I think Obama would bring a lot, bring, umm, I think if you want to see change, Obama can bring it." [My guess is he wanted to say something personal about how Obama's candidacy had inspired him to get involved (which is probably true), and so on, but had either been trained, or instinctively felt it was best, to leave race as far out of things as possible, so he was at a loss, and choked out a bit of a script as a reflex.]

Me: "OK, I think we've gone about as far as we can here, and I really am busy."

XXXX: "Ok, ok..."

Call ends.

It's a 100 days until the election, and these calls are already coming. That kid had some promise; if he sticks with it he'll probably be a pretty slick advocate for Obama's campaign in a few months -- assuming he's a volunteer and not some hired telemarketing hack, in which case he'll probably have moved on to some other job just when he's getting proficient at this one. Anyway, the Obama campaign pretty clearly means business. I never received one call like this in '04, and I donated money to Kerry in that cycle, haven't donated a dime to Obama in this one, and probably never will. The script was OK, and it was interesting that they have something for FISA already in the can. I wonder what else they have. The question about experience should have been asked, and had I been malicious, I could have asked about the chances of a black man winning in a racist country. Anyway, I despise Obama, but still want him to win, and as such, it's good to see he has an organization that might become competent enough to be a force. I especially liked the idea (and it's only an idea, a lot of poorly educated blacks end up working as telemarketers, so this might have been just another job for this guy), that Obama is sparkling an interest in black people to get involved. The only hope I have left for positive change coming from an Obama presidency is that black people will be energized by seeing one of us in charge of this nation. Let's hope that kid was an inspiree.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Flatline Express

McCain's candidacy cannot stand honest reporting -- the deck is too stacked against him. But he's not only getting honest reporting, he's being victimized a tad, from what I can tell. The difference between "succeeding" and "succeeded" isn't big enough -- it might have been a simple slip, of which McCain makes many -- to make as big a deal of as this reporter does here.

McCain used to be the coolest guy in the room, the guy who fucked the cheerleaders, drank the booze, fucked more cheerleaders, married a model, fucked more cheerleaders, dumped the model for a rich woman who could have been a cheerleader, and then probably fucked more cheerleaders still. But cool guys don't lose, McCain is obviously going to lose, and the media are going to start piling on a loser, which is one of the few things they do well. Without 10 straight years of media worship, McCain would not exist, and now we're going to see what he looks like when he's the subject, not of media worship, but of media disdain. It ain't going to be pretty.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Just because it's smart doesn't mean it isn't creepy

The graphics of Obama on his campaign website,, with their messianic, haloish, white aura, simply creep me out. I imagine it's an appeal to the religious people, who would recognize the style from televangelists and the like, and it's probably a reasonable play along those lines. But we've already had someone in there for eight years with a messiah complex, why put someone else in there with the same dysfunction? Even if this is all theatre on the part of the Obama campaign, it reinforces a key, destructive dynamic from the Bush years: just trust the man to do good, and everything will be all right. When a democracy puts its faith in one man, it stops honoring the traditions and principles of democracy, and will get what it deserves.

I would have thought that, with all the charges of "cultism" surrounding the Obama campaign they would have been particularly cautious about something like this, but apparently not. Any other Dem would have been crucified (pun intended) by the media for that stuff, but Obama isn't any other Dem.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

When libertarians attack

I'm still laughing too hard to type out a coherent comment.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Jesse Jackson, Joe Clark, and Barack Obama

The groveling is necessary, of course, but the core of what Jackson said is correct. Obama has been talking down to black people, starting, as with so much of the rest of the ugliness coming from him, the minute he was annointed the winner of the primary. I began to loathe Obama as soon as he gave this speech, which white people, and a certain kind of black person -- the kind most likely to vote -- loved, but any thinking person knew would have no impact on its nominal target: the kind of black man who would be an absent father, and the kind of black woman who would enable him. Those people either aren't going to hear the speech at all, or are going to resent it and therefore tune it out. It was clear to me at that moment that Obama doesn't care about the poor black community -- the community I, unlike him, came from and was shaped by -- except as a tool to help him get elected.

There's a certain kind of movie that white people love to watch. It involves a black authority figure going around and smacking black kids around to shape them up. The archetype of this film is Lean On Me, where Morgan Freeman plays Joe Clark, a real-life principal who stalked around the halls of his school with a baseball bat and a bullhorn, screaming at them niggers to get with the program. White people love this film, the same kind of black people Obama talks to -- Obama himself might be, for all I know -- love this film (they are the kind of black people who say things like "There are black people and there are niggers. I'm not a nigger"); people who know and care about the worst segments of the black community, who want to see it changed, hated the film and its meta message: all the niggers need is a firm hand. Such a message oversimplifies an incredibly complex problem, blames the victim to at least a certain extent, won't change anything in the end (Joe Clark, for all his yelling and baseball bat waving, didn't raise test scores in his school one whit, for example), but it does have the advantage of absolving white people of all responsibility, both for the current, sad state of affairs, and for contributing to improving it. That useless meta message has become the core of Obama's campaign, not just in his relations with black people, where he is aiming to assure white people that he will be a Joe Clark, but in his relations with the left in general, where he has openly shown his disdain for left wing activists and their interests as soon as he no longer needed them, this, I believe, to court favor with the Washington establishment.

You can say what you want about Jesse Jackson, and he isn't one of my favorite people. But I also see Jackson as one of me -- as someone who knows the black community, wants good things for it, and is deeply aware when someone like Obama, who is desperately trying to prove he's black in skin only, walks over that community and its interests in his lust for power. After he became a celebrity for his baseball bat, bullhorn, and nigger bashing, Joe Clark left education and became a successful, and no doubt wealthy, motivational speaker. The school he was supposed to have shaped up still struggles.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Odds & Ends

I haven't seen a single John McCain bumper sticker. Not a one. I'd say I see, on average, a Ron Paul bumper sticker every third day or so, an Obama bumper sticker slightly less often. But McCain? I'm still waiting to see my first one, so I'll know what it looks like. I live smack dab in the reddest state in the Union, albeit in the most liberal part of that state. Bush stickers in 2000, on the other hand, I saw lots of, and in 2004 I saw even more of them. It suggests rather strongly that McCain's appeal to the wingnut base is next to zero; I also believe it's a reflection of the realization many people, even wingers, have come to that the Republicans have fucked everything up, and the even greater realization that they are going to lose, and few people will go out on a limb for a loser. I'll bet there are plenty of McCain bumper stickers in Washington, DC, though, or there would be if the media people were allowed to put political bumper stickers on their cars.

I actually considered getting one and putting it on my car out of pity. Or I could make my own: "Vote McCain. Because somebody has to."

The Bush bumper stickers I used to see everywhere disappeared right around the time his approval rating hit 30%. Coincidence, I'm sure.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wingnut watch

I've been waiting to see signs of the wingers ridiculing Obama, and am finally seeing some activity. They were for him in the primaries, on the grounds that he was the easiest Dem to beat, but when it seemed any Dem would win in the fall, their enthusiasm for him, for all things political, cooled considerably. But last week I heard the ridicule start. Nothing specific yet (Who's voting for Obama? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! repeated in varied forms for about 30 minutes), but I'm sure the specificity will come in time. For such folks ridicule is a sort of fill-in-the-blanks activity, where the only thing that changes is the form the ridicule takes -- and even the form usually changes very little.

I think they are getting a little wound up because McCain, who ought by all rights be getting his ass reamed, is trailing only marginally in the polls, and they sense some hope, whereas they sensed none at all until recently. Even a close loss would be fine with them, as long as they don't get humiliated, as long as they don't end up looking foolish and weak. Looking foolish and weak is the worst thing imaginable to wingnuts, and when you understand that, you understand about half of what underscores everything they do -- including their love of ridiculing others.

Anyway, I'm curious to see what form Obama's ridicule ends up taking. What we're seeing so far from the Republican machine, "Obama's words don't mean what he says they mean" or some such is tea so weak it rivals water. My guess is they are feverishly searching for something that will pass muster with their friends in the media, and yet have some kind of racial tie-in. It won't be overt; rather, it will appeal to racial archetypes that their target audience will understand, and from which they can draw a negative picture of his character the watercooler wingnut crowd will sell to everyone else. The goal isn't even necessarily to win, which is still a longshot, but to weaken Obama so that once in, he's easily bullied -- as if he can be even easier to bully than he's displayed so far. My sense that Obama is a lose-lose proposition for the Democrats is growing. If he wins, he's going to be ineffective at moving any kind of meaningful agenda; if he loses, he loses. But that's for another day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Barack Obama: horseshit hitter.

"You show me a hitter who can't be jammed, and I'll show you a horseshit hitter." -- Bob Gibson

After watching Obama duck and cringe and cower, Gibson's words come to mind every time I see his picture now. He won't be jammed, but he ain't going to take any good swings, either. He's just going to stand at the plate and hope for a bad pitch. This, after years of bad pitches have already gone by, and he's ahead in the count 3 - 0. The sad thing is, if he does get that pitch he'll just try to bunt it, anyway, and probably fail at even that.

Yes we can, yes we can, yes we can...


With the conservative movement in ruins, this is the sort of writeup the "liberal media" gives to one of that movement's most pernicious mouthpieces. You would think that if there was a time to honestly appraise the role Limbaugh has played in creating the mess we are in, now would be it, but apparently the Times disagrees. Limbaugh has massive amounts of money and a core following of listeners, and that seems to be the only thing his fellow media-ites care about. They did make the searing criticism that he might be losing influence to Hannity. Nothing about how wrong he's been about everything for years now, the lies he's told, the disasters he's helped stick the country in, the polarization of the country that can be tracked right back to Limbaugh's doorstep, the filthy, bitter-smelling muck that he's made of the national discourse -- none of that, which isn't of course, important, anyway. Hannity being named more influential in some media poll or other, though, that stings.