Friday, October 31, 2008

InSane Flailin'

Culture Collapse update: Spending: We shopped till we dropped

I seem to recall that during the heady boom days financial reports of the rah-rah kind enjoyed batting around figures like 40% of the economy was based on housing and something like 30% on consumer spending. Recall too that another 30% came from financial services.

Now these figures certainly overlap, but they should give a clear idea of the world of hurt we live in now, even if no one likes reporting the details. Plenty of time for that after the election, I guess.

Another figure, less mentioned, was that manufacturing accounted for something like 10% of GDP. And recall here how the current admin wanted to define fast food meals as manufactured product. Yea, the stupid has been at large in the land for years.

Which brings us to the final mention of Sarah Palin here. If ever there were a creature of the peak years it is her, suckled on oil and succored by culture warriors, she is, like every pinup, a fleeting barometer of popular lust, a safe recapitulation of what worked in the past, guaranteed to be tossed aside.

Why am I so sure? Let's start with the practical consideration of her getting reelected or moving on to higher office. Frankly, I don't see either happening. She has antagonized formerly sympathetic Alaska Dems and independents, and one can safely say half of her party up there hates her. But the even crueler truth is that in four years she just won't be as gosh-darn MILFible, and in eight? Bitch, please.

Sadly, the female of the Republican species tends to age in harsh and creepy ways. No need to speculate why, though you all have theories, I'm sure. What's struck me about the InSane campaign, and near as I can tell has gone completely unremarked, is how often Cindy is visible right behind her ga-ga husband's left ear. Not only does she lack any trace of subliminal warmth, but some part of the popular electoral brain has got to wonder what he needs her there for all the time and is at a loss for a good answer.

And here we may deduce another factor in a culture collapse, which is reliance on a tactic which either does no good or is indeed actively harmful to one's cause.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Mr. D has also been thinking lately about what's in store for an Obama administration. His conclusion:

No question then: if Obama manages to get out of Iraq and pass significant legislation in the areas of healthcare and energy, and nothing more, that would make his first term wildly successful. If he also adds some serious labor law reform and financial market regulation to the mix, progressives ought to be pretty delirious by 2012.

The only question is, will he do it? The foundations all seem to be there (majorities in Congress, a viable electoral coalition, and a public seemingly open to change), but Obama's past history, both in the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate, is clearly one of caution and tactical compromise. In my case, then, my doubts lie not in whether he has the right policy instincts, but in whether he's got the temperament to seize the moment, stick to his guns, force recalcitrant committee heads to follow his lead, and get a big agenda passed. I sure hope so, but I think that's the big question mark, not whether he's campaigning on the right set of priorities.

It's a truism of American politics that campaigning is a lot different than governing, but let's push against that idea for a minute.

What has astounded yr. obt. svt. about Senator Obama during his grand tour is something no one in the press, so far, has bothered to mention, namely: he has done everything right. Everything, from start to, near, finish. Stepped up to every occasion, carried every day that needed to be carried, made every point that needed to be made; been serious, affable, angry and funny as the occasion called, and delivered sincerely to every enormous crowd he's walked before.

The man is not perfect but he has perfect pitch in his bones. Consequently I do not see him down shifting after the election, of reverting to the dependable way of getting things done in Washington. Instead look for a programatic public appeal to involvement the likes of which we've never seen. This is likely to cut in a number of directions, not only in instituting policy but reshaping how the Democratic party finds new candidates and re-elects the old ones.

As evidence, nota bene the final words he spoke in the long, pitch perfect ad aired last night:

I will open the doors of government and ask you to be involved in democracy again.

Which is to say the campaign will continue. How long can you keep a broad portion of the electorate engaged in a movement of reform and justice before people get tired and discouraged? Good question. I fully expect to find out.

UPDATE: Over at Obsidian Wings, they get it: pitch perfect. (via Benen)

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Fist Hundred Days

Culture collapse update: General Motors, Driven to the Brink.

I imagine a wretched headline writer over at the Times whose arch double-pun was killed by his jerk editor insisting on the definite article in the above. I mean, if we can't find a little levity in the ruins of the American economy we are really in trouble.

As the SUV disappears from the landscape, to join the reputation of Alan Greenspan in the phantom zone of historical curiosities, we are left to ponder who among us will join them next. May I suggest: carping right-wing TV hosts, pundits who are consistently wrong, and, for you sports nuts out there, multi-hundred dollar ticket prices for baseball, basketball, and football games.

Since we are a full-service shop here at H&J, I also think the words Luxury and Gourmet will go away as signifiers of the desirable in ad copy. Call me crazy.

The ongoing scrum among players and coaches to figure out exactly what killed the luxury McCain campaign is exactly an exercise in wistful thinking, that there is but ONE reason why things went sour and that the system is otherwise secure. Well, we know better. He was a crappy candidate who ran a dumbass campaign featuring an inept co-star because all semblance of order for the GOP collapsed years ago.

I'm tired of talking about them now.

I've been thinking lately about what's in store for the republic under our new president, or, more to the point, where does he start? I upset some people in conversation when I say that I am ready to be disappointed by President Obama, and by that I mean I've been disappointed by every president in my lifetime, some certainly more than others, and I see no reason to think he will be able to change that.

However I speak mostly of policy decisions and compromises, the inevitable mess of governing. I'm a grownup and I can handle disappointment in this department. Where I don't expect to be disappointed is in my sturdy assumption that the nation will have elected a thoughtful man of no small intellectual capacity and rigor who will do his level best with what's at hand, win or lose, every day he wakes up.

But, again, where does he start? A lot in politics depends on the size and nature of one's victory and the nature of the people sharing the success. I can't begin to evaluate either. However, let's revert to cases. Our man is a constitutional scholar and an eloquent control freak, and from this I suspect we will see an early and thorough drive to put the Justice Department on track (Patrick Fitzgerald, AG anyone?), to be followed by some overdue prosecutions.

Call me crazy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lame, Set, And Match

Culture collapse update: Alan Greenspan yesterday (NYT via matty):

“I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms,” Mr. Greenspan said.

Referring to his free-market ideology, Mr. Greenspan added: “I have found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I have been very distressed by that fact.”

Mr. Waxman pressed the former Fed chair to clarify his words. “In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working,” Mr. Waxman said.

“Absolutely, precisely,” Mr. Greenspan replied. “You know, that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”

I really have to credit (hah!) the former Fed chairman for such candor. Of course, in Japan a man in his position would have killed himself honorably, but we really don't know how to do honorable in the U S of A, and indeed Greenspan's public renunciation is a stunner, the gravestone to not only an era, but a governing philosophy.

I wonder now if he is still the big Ayn Rand fan too. . .

I present Alan's mordant obit for his era in order to lead us, if only stumblingly, to consider what's in store for the Obama administration. Shell-shocked conservatives are even now planning to regroup (I bet Custer was counting on a dashing counterstroke even as his troopers fired from behind their dead ponies), but I am here to say they will come a' cropper.

What Sen. Obama has achieved has all the marks of a sweeping movement victory NOT one of a coalition. I'm not sure we've seen the likes of it before. (Grant's first term might qualify, though it was on the shoulders of Lincoln's martyrdom, maybe T. Roosevelt's on those of McKinley. FDR's second landslide might look like a movement victory, but he presided over a party that somehow accommodated a coalition of big city Catholics, lefty unions, farmers and segregationist southerners. LBJ's '64 landslide had the marks of a movement not unlike Grant's and TR's, under the banner of the slain John Kennedy, but it was in fact made from the FDR coalition, which quickly fell to pieces in the wake of the escalation of the war and passage of sweeping civil rights legislation. But I digress. . . )

Perhaps a movement is just a coalition where everybody pretends their aims agree, so maybe Ronnie's reelection might qualify. But Ronnie won as a tested and popular leader. My impression is that Obama has taken pains to make sure a similar cult of personality does not cling to him. How successful he'll be with that after a remarkable, indeed transformative, landslide remains to be seen. That very well might be his first, and ongoing, test.

The immediate outcome of a movement victory is that it makes criticism based on prior conditions irrelevant. I believe we are already seeing evidence of this in the flailing McDrain effort. New criticism will have to be based on the conditions set down by the movement itself. This must needs take a while, and right now the Obama 'honeymoon' promises to be pretty damn long.

Part of that honeymoon is bound to include winning-over a portion of those not convinced on election day. This is what King Ronnie did so well, and, following the hiding a brain-dead GOP is bound to get in two years, I see no reason why Obama won't do the same.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Well Well Well

From The Politico (via kos)

But thanks largely to lack of passion for McCain within the conservative base, diminished hopes that he can win and a sharp decline in the stock market that has badly pinched donors’ pockets, veteran Republican operatives say it appears almost certain that what could be the most damaging line of attack against the Democratic nominee will be left on the shelf.

Emphasis mine.

Back in September '07, your far-sighted correspondent had this to say:

When times are good, rich assholes can spend as much as they like on their crusade to pour hogwash into the ether. But when the big system stumbles, when money levels begin to fall, when it becomes pretty clear that people really aren't paying attention, a lot of those wingnut welfare checks are going where the woodbine twineth.

Now I know that some of the biggest names in fat-head commentary have in the last week or so signed mulit-mil contracts, and to that I say, big deal. I don't care how much Billo gets paid, since his taxes are likely to go up, and I really doubt there'll be many paying attention to him, or Rush, or Sean a year from now.

What we are witnessing on Wall St. and in the GOP are the outer indicators of a cultural collapse. For those who do not get it, and their name is legion, this simply means that Things will Never be the Same. All the old assumptions of audience and issues, of politics and communications, of business and consumption, have been tossed out.

It will take a year or two for most people with interests vested in the old order to get this.

Barack Obama is not just beating the bootless John McCain, possibly by landslide proportions, he has already completely redefined how campaigns are funded and organized. If the GOP thinks otherwise, if they try this again, only with more flags and meat, they will lose one election after another. In fact, judging by the wildlife which as been revealed these last two-three weeks, as the big rock base has been turned over, and the revolting creatures there unused to the light scurry to defend themselves, I do believe it is too late for the old GOP. It seems it prefers to die, like the proverbial scorpion, stung with its own poison.

Because the GOP doesn't do ground-up, they'd rather not have a lot of small donors, they can't begin to articulate a social vision inclusive of all Americans. That has never been what they've been about. For them it's the rewards of loyalty and following orders, of resting secure in the knowledge that all the good people are just like you, and if they aren't, it's something that needs to be investigated. I'm not saying they're bad people, though lots of them, especially the powerful ones, are true shitheels, only that the way they look at the world no longer has any bearing whatsoever on the world as it is, either as we experience it as citizens of a diverse republic now falling on hard times, or as it exists in the decisions we make by way of our digitized media cortexes.

Entranced by their own image, the very one offered by the hottt Mrs. Palin, Republicans fell down their personal wishing well, and it now lies open, waiting for the rest of us to fill in with rocks.

UPDATE 10.24: Does Kathleen Parker read H&J? Hmmmm. . .

Recognizing oneself in a member of the opposite sex (or the same sex, as the case may be) is a powerful invitation to bonding. Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in the river, imagining it to be his deceased and beloved sister's. In McCain's case, it doesn't hurt that his reflection is spiked with feminine approval.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

El Hombre

Maybe it's Obama
But he thinks that he's too young.
Maybe it's Colin Powell
to right what he's done wrong.

-- Neil Young, "Lookin' for a Leader" 2006

Put me down as one of those bloggers who thinks Secy. Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama is a huge deal, not so much for the endorsement itself but for his criticism of the GOP methods and the nature of the McDrain campaign. Powell uses the last three minutes of his presser immediately following the telecast to completely de-bone the last two weeks of McCain's campaign strategy (not to mention calling out Michelle Bachmann, whom he does not mention by name, in a priceless bit of TV for use by one El Tinklenberg). Basically he's telling the press what the real issues are, and Ol' John to shut up and go home.

What I found remarkable was his appeal to the future and to young people. Notice too how Powell answers "yes" when asked by a reporter if he is still a Republican. Clearly, he is out not only to drive a stake through the heart of an ugly and nonsensical presidential campaign, but to rescue what's left of a dying GOP. It remains to be seen how much of it wants saving. But lacking any adults in sight over there, I do believe we saw today the emergence at last of a genuine party leader. Watch and see how many, and who, go to throw him overboard in the next few days.

El, Hombre

Normally I don't bother with political endorsements or fund raising appeals here. You all know yourselves well enough, right? However this election happens to include a race in the Minnesota 6th congressional district between Michelle Bachmann one of the worst Republican clowns in the house, , and El Tinklenberg, a very nice guy I met a couple times through mutual friends when I lived in Minneapolis.

Bachmann was on Chris Matthews' show the other night to question Obama's patriotism and call for an investigation of un-American activity in the House of Representatives itself. Normally I think people should be left alone to send whatever nitwit they want to Congress, but Bachmann is a national embarrassment, and I can testify that El Tinklenberg is a modest, dedicated and accomplished public servant. He was mayor of Blaine, MN (north of Mpls) when I met him and went on to become Director of Transportation for Gov. Jesse Ventura. Laugh if you must, but Jesse took public transit very seriously, and El led the long and successful campaign in the state legislature for the new Twin Cities light rail line. Believe me, an astounding feat in a legislative body that's been in the pocket of big car dealers and road contractors for generations.

The good news is that the Minnesota 6th race is tightening, more good news is that the Tinklenberg campaign, thanks to Bachmann's big mouth, is right at the top of the list of Democratic targets, and the money is now pouring in. I say keep it going. I sent them $25, and I encourage you to do likewise, or better.

You may donate directly here, or via Act Blue.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rejection Seat

Don't quote me on this, but I suspect that "Blinky" McCain not only put paid to his dreary exercise in compensatory narcissism last night, but, as time dwindled away, his astonishingly brutal remark about the health of pregnant women as being somehow not germane in the abortion debate managed to set the "pro-life" cause back at least ten years.

Well done, soldier!

Man, the anger which Sen. InSane could not direct across the table at Sen. Obama, just vented out everywhere, in his rambling, snide and prolix answers, his twitching and toothless attacks and lame jokes, his condescending to that hapless Ohio plumber (who probably does not need to be spoken to, across the TV sky, as if he were a 13-year-old), his dismissing of Joe Biden (who, to be fair, has been tearing him up lately), his perplexing enthusiasm for competition as a means of solving household issues like education and healthcare, his jackass answers regarding women and families. (Will Gov. Palin be the one to break it to him that her son is not autistic, but suffers from Down Syndrome, or do you think no one will mention it at all?)

Our man was, as usual, on point and present throughout. His final peroration, while certainly planned and coached, sounded sincere and grand, in ways people used to hear their politicians express themselves--in terms of respect, honor, commitment and, above all, optimism.

To quote:

You know, over the last 20 months, you've invited me into your homes. You've shared your stories with me. And you've confirmed once again the fundamental decency and generosity of the American people.

And that's why I'm sure that our brighter days are still ahead.

But we're going to have to invest in the American people again, in tax cuts for the middle class, in health care for all Americans, and college for every young person who wants to go. In businesses that can create the new energy economy of the future. In policies that will lift wages and will grow our middle class.

These are the policies I have fought for my entire career. And these are the policies I want to bring to the White House.

But it's not going to be easy. It's not going to be quick. It is going to be requiring all of us -- Democrats, Republicans, independents -- to come together and to renew a spirit of sacrifice and service and responsibility.

I'm absolutely convinced we can do it. I would ask for your vote, and I promise you that if you give me the extraordinary honor of serving as your president, I will work every single day, tirelessly, on your behalf and on the behalf of the future of our children.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Bile Belt

What do many patients in the terminal stage of illness do? They spit up bile. And I submit that that is exactly what is going on in the life-support world of the woeful McCain campaign. Nothing is being energized or "re-booted". There is no fight in them any more, except amongst themselves. And, the good Josh Marshall notwithstanding, these hate-and-fear-fests the McCain people are staging, those ACORN challenges, are not going to galvanize opposition for the next four years. Nope. Most of the bags-of-shit who might be relied upon to articulate such things for their dwindling audiences are going away for good.

You've heard me say this before. The money sources of the nutter right wing are drying up. The pending Obama landslide will certainly have the marketing people at any number of red state organs rethinking their brand IDs. When your party has been smashed and its banner carriers disgraced and made absurd, there is no point in subsidizing cable and radio personalities who even in flush times captured a fraction, albeit engaged and affluent, of market share. America is moving on, and I am telling you FUX news will hurry to keep up.

I, for one, am pleased the Palin/InSane campaign is going out like this. Most Americans know all-too-well the sorts of idiots who remain supporting those jerks. They hide under rocks or remain quiet in the lunchroom. Rare is the opportunity to see them in action in public. Even rarer is the chance to tell them to fuck-off.

I dearly hope Ms. Alaska gathers the base unto her bosom in the aftermath of the debacle. Lest we forget, she came with the Limbaugh/Kristol seal of approval and since they are all incapable of admitting error, their daisy chain of white stupid will poison GOP chances as long as they breathe. I'm left wondering who will end up with the Republican brand name. I like the sound of Blue Republicans. On the other hand Base Republicans also has real appeal. Maybe the Libertarians will soak up the respectable conservatives in a couple years while Republican will go join Whig and Know Nothing in the wax museum of political failure.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mark This

As usual, Twain saw it clearest and said it best. From Huckleberry Finn:

They swarmed up in front of Sherburn's palings as thick as they could jam together, and you couldn't hear yourself think for the noise. It was a little twenty-foot yard. Some sung out "Tear down the fence! tear down the fence!" Then there was a racket of ripping and tearing and smashing, and down she goes, and the front wall of the crowd begins to roll in like a wave.

Just then Sherburn steps out on to the roof of his little front porch, with a double-barrel gun in his hand, and takes his stand, perfectly ca'm and deliberate, not saying a word. The racket stopped, and the wave sucked back.

Sherburn never said a word -- just stood there, looking down. The stillness was awful creepy and uncomfortable. Sherburn run his eye slow along the crowd; and wherever it struck the people tried a little to outgaze him, but they couldn't; they dropped their eyes and looked sneaky. Then pretty soon Sherburn sort of laughed; not the pleasant kind, but the kind that makes you feel like when you are eating bread that's got sand in it.

Then he says, slow and scornful:

"The idea of you lynching anybody! It's amusing. The idea of you thinking you had pluck enough to lynch a man! Because you're brave enough to tar and feather poor friendless cast-out women that come along here, did that make you think you had grit enough to lay your hands on a man? Why, a man's safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind -- as long as it's daytime and you're not behind him.

"Do I know you? I know you clear through was born and raised in the South, and I've lived in the North; so I know the average all around. The average man's a coward. In the North he lets anybody walk over him that wants to, and goes home and prays for a humble spirit to bear it. In the South one man all by himself, has stopped a stage full of men in the daytime, and robbed the lot. Your newspapers call you a brave people so much that you think you are braver than any other people -- whereas you're just as brave, and no braver. Why don't your juries hang murderers? Because they're afraid the man's friends will shoot them in the back, in the dark -- and it's just what they would do.

"So they always acquit; and then a man goes in the night, with a hundred masked cowards at his back and lynches the rascal. Your mistake is, that you didn't bring a man with you; that's one mistake, and the other is that you didn't come in the dark and fetch your masks. You brought part of a man -- Buck Harkness, there -- and if you hadn't had him to start you, you'd a taken it out in blowing.

"You didn't want to come. The average man don't like trouble and danger. You don't like trouble and danger. But if only half a man -- like Buck Harkness, there -- shouts 'Lynch him! lynch him!' you're afraid to back down -- afraid you'll be found out to be what you are -- cowards -- and so you raise a yell, and hang yourselves on to that half-a-man's coat-tail, and come raging up here, swearing what big things you're going to do. The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that's what an army is -- a mob; they don't fight with courage that's born in them, but with courage that's borrowed from their mass, and from their officers. But a mob without any man at the head of it is beneath pitifulness. Now the thing for you to do is to droop your tails and go home and crawl in a hole. If any real lynching's going to be done it will be done in the dark, Southern fashion; and when they come they'll bring their masks, and fetch a man along. Now leave -- and take your half-a-man with you" -- tossing his gun up across his left arm and cocking it when he says this.

The crowd washed back sudden, and then broke all apart, and went tearing off every which way, and Buck Harkness he heeled it after them, looking tolerable cheap. I could a stayed if I wanted to, but I didn't want to.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Down Town

Okay, folks, it's safe to say that if the normally unflappable Barry Ritholtz was gobsmacked by yesterday's freefall then we are past a certain point of departure.

I was impressed when the market blew past 10,000 on the way down, appalled when 9k appeared in the rearview shortly thereafter. I don't think I was alone in thinking that 9,000 was a level that would have been defended for a while. And I think this indicates that the trading models, those programs these smart people use to run their buy/sell transactions, have gone pork belly up. Which is to say the entire system which managed the daily transactions of billions of world-wide trades, call it the financial borg, has imploded.

Add it to the list.

Someone who would not be at all surprised at what's happening is the late Marshall McLuhan. The most incomprehensible chapter (for me anyway) in his completely fascinating Understanding Media deals with money. What can be clearly taken from his thesis however is that money is a medium of communication as subject as any of the others to the stresses laid upon it by the advent of newer media, and as sensitive as any to the in-and-outflows of information.

Finance capitalism, as opposed to the old-fashioned capital capitalism, is (was) as creature of digital technology, abolishing national borders (even the time of day) as money flowed around the world, sometimes pooling in very obscure places, directed not so much by the former verities of labor, raw materials and infrastructure as much as fluctuations, sometimes exceptionally tiny ones, in stuff like currencies, interest rates, and political conditions. To put perhaps a too-fine spin on it, digital technology, which emphasizes speed and information flow, allowed financial capitalism to exploit weaknesses rather than build upon strengths.

We live now with the natural outcome of such a logical folly. Pretty effing inneresting, if you ask me. I'm afraid though we've gone past the point where even those of us who saw this coming and protected what assets we have can rest in an abstract appreciation of the breakdown. Crossing a lion park by car is all well and good, having to do it on foot is quite a different matter.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Call Up

More responsible liberal bloggers tended to weigh last night's proceedings as a policy tossup, with the advantage going to Obama for appearing more presidential. The bloggin' Drum didn't think Obama looked that sharp (I disagree) and expresses surprise that the snap polls went so widely in his favor.

I'm not surprised. At several points in the evening Sen. InSane reminded me of a lurching Charles Foster Kane tearing up his wife's bedroom. He looked older than his 72 years. He repeated himself. His zingers fell flat. He name-checked long-dead presidents as though they'd been friends of his. Oh, and pardon me for observing this, Mr. and Mrs. North America, but as someone who is old enough to remember the last years of American aparteid, pointing to a black man and referring to him as "that one" is about as racist as you can get in so-called polite company.

Yr. Hmbl. Svt.has spent the last few days volunteering at Obama headquarters downtown, calling lists of campaign supporters in different parts of Illinois to see if they'd like to canvass and GOTV in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri. And I am here to tell you that, while I leave a lot of messages in voice mail, NO ONE I've spoken to has been indifferent or unenthusiastic. EVERYONE I reached has heard me out and I'd estimate about ten percent of them signed up to help in one capacity or another.

Ten percent!! This is astonishing, an amazing phenomenon that, near as I can tell, has not been discovered by the national press or polls.

Yesterday I called downstate and, buddy, if you want to talk to the heartland, I had it on the line. One man said he couldn't get out but he had Obama in his prayers, a woman told she'd like to help but her son was coming back from Iraq today and she had to help him move to Ft. Donnelson, a prison guard said he isn't a racist anymore because of his work, and kept me on the line for a while as he talked about what we need to do in this country. Most of these people spoke to me in the cadences of Kentucky and Missouri. All of them promised they were voting. After yesterday I have a feeling Obama will do better on election day than anyone in the press corpse dreams.

I bring up my volunteer work only to encourage those of you with the spare time to do the same--not to help the senator (though his is a very worthy cause), or feel good about yourself (though one comes away feeling pretty damn justified), but as a way of parting that deadening scrim that hangs between you and your fellow citizens. Putting it aside for only a day, you will be amazed how alive you'll feel.

UPDATE: Heh. Joe Biden also says McCain was lurching. Niiice.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Deadly Exposure

While my thumbnail psychological profile of Ms. Alaska as she prepped for Thursday's debate leaned heavily in favor of some ill-advised attack dog tactics on her part, my notion that a well-lit platform and the gazes of admiring males would induce an embarrassing acting out by the ex-beauty queen, was--I submit--pretty damn close to the mark.

What happened? What was the TV moment I missed that seems to be part of the discussion this weekend? What was the physical takeaway (e.g.: Nixon's sweat, Gore's sighs, McCain's disinclination of look at Obama) that will soon come to define this highly-viewed event? Winks. Turns out that the Governor of Alaska felt confident enough th'other night to treat millions of Americans, men and women, like that hunky guy on the football team she really wants to bang.

Now for some, that was all which was needed to fire their regard and assure them that the future of the nation would be safe in her very experienced hands. A great many others though are sure to find the come hither signals, under the circumstances, as faintly repulsive gestures on the part of a wife and mother running for high office, evidence of inappropriate boundary issues and a constitutional lack of tact.

Interesting that both halves of the GOP ticket exhibit symptoms of severe personal relationship pathologies, the angry father figure unwilling to engage on any level less than punitive, while the apparent daughter (or young wife) seems happy giving it away for free.

My other point from the earlier post (which cannot be denied) is that McCain has welded his fortunes irrevocably to Mrs. Palin. And I submit that there is no figure more pathetic in the public mind than the indiscriminate seducer whose best days are past.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Debated Hook

I realized with a relief nearly as strong as one bestowed by a negative paternity test that my Thursday night guitar class at the Old Town School provides a legitimate reason not to watch the VP candidates' debate this evening. You and I have been up to our chins in conventional wisdom these last couple weeks regarding how it will play out: that Biden will stifle himself so as not to appear rude, will probably say something dumb, that Palin will do. . . okay, compared to expectations, and that we'll then be able to focus on the real race.

But you know me, I am prepared to take issue with the above.

Candidly, I think Sarah Palin is psychologically incapable of "doing okay" under the circs. Her entire presence on the ticket is predicated on a kind of self-involved overreaching that knows no stop before disaster. Forget John McCain's poor judgement in picking her for a second, knowing what we know now about her very limited intellect and skills, what could possibly have possessed her to think she was up to the job she was offered? Ambition, stupidity, and an utter lack of self knowledge are the only reasons I can come up with. Now consider what she was hired to do in the first place: attack sharply, with a smile and clear skin. These several aspects are not a combination for success in a situation, a 90-minute moderated discussion, which (in this case more than ever) calls for modesty, deliberation and tact.

I do believe that early in Palin's rollout, the dysfunctional McCain campaign should have bit the bullet and kicked her into the deep end of the press pool. (NB: when I mix metaphors I use at least three at a time.) It probably would not have been pretty, but she'd have either proved what merit she had or, more likely, been seen as a first-quarter fuck-up. Plenty of game left, Ol' John gets a new partner and moves unsteadily forward.

But no. Instead, Sen. InSane, beholden to the deeply dumb base, has bent over backwards to praise his soul mate's skills and experience, yesterday going so far as to say he's been getting foreign policy advice from her now for a very long time. In other words, instead of defusing the fizzing bomb, or pushing it over the side, he welded it to the deck. And unfortunately for him, a lit stage and the undivided attention of admiring men, in real time, is exactly the venue in which Palin will feel the most in control and willing to act out. (Anyone besides me notice the snake meanness in her voice when she told Couric she'd find out the answer to that question and get back to her?) Given her instincts and inflated sense of self, and since this is not a beauty pageant, her church, or an Anchorage VFW hall, that acting out promises to hit dismaying levels. I do believe the damage she'll do tonight will be deep and terminal.

UPDATE 10.3: Well judging by the leveler heads in lefty Blogsylvania, SP allowed the GOP faithful, to paraphrase Josh Marshall, not to feel ashamed of her. More to the point, JB performed kinda way beyond expectations, and took the fight to the top of the ticket. In what clips I've seen this morn, Palin comes off as perhaps one of Sen. InSane's more enthusiastic talk show spinners, but as a heartbreaker a heartbeat away from the Big Desk? Ehhh. . . Now seeing her at her best, I do believe most will feel insulted by the thought.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Copyright Infringement Theater Presents. . .

The writer and a couple pals give everything to what is probably the greatest song of all time.