Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Replacing Dan Rather

Conservatives came in their pants when Dan Rather stepped down in the wake of the 60 minutes forged documents debacle. Now, the big debate is over who should replace Rather.

Banality Fair's suggestion? Well, network news has become utterly useless in the wake of cable news and the growth in popularity of dialectical news, which features loudouths with opposing viewpoints who scream at each other. The age of the so-called objective anchor has ended. So, replacing Rather with some other telegenic cipher seems like a waste of time.

We propose that CBS replace Rather with a kitten who can "meow" on command. I imagine there being a news story about the latest dead in Iraq. After the story, a soothing "meow" from Chicklet the Kitten. A story about the Social Security crisis. Chicklet plays with yarn. Chicklet comforts a nation and provides as much value as a Jennings, Brokaw or Rather. And she'll be cuter too.

Monday, November 29, 2004

More Fun Stories

This one from Reuters headlined: "Snow White Fired for Posing Nude"

Things must be rough in Fantasy Land or wherever the fuck Snow White lives (Belgium?!?), when Snow White is letting herself be photographed nude to make ends meet. I guess her prince came, and then rolled the hell out. Probably with the whore Cinderella (Snow White noticed the way he was checking Cinderella at that ball).

From the actual story: "A German singer who plays Snow White has lost her job at Dresden's Christmas fair after posing for nude photos in a bathtub, Bild newspaper said on Monday."

The Age of Pessimism

Saw a story today with the headline: "Optimists Club Calls It Quits." The story goes on to explain that:

"It's a glum day for optimists. After 24 years of community service, the Quakertown Optimists Club is calling it quits. They're holding their last meeting on Thursday, citing declining interest."

Declining interest in optimism? I thought the Bush era was one of hope and empty rhetorical "isms." But, man, if the Quakers are pessimistic...some shit is definitely going wrong with this country.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Poet and Didn't Know It

I was going over some of my old high school notebooks and came across some poems I wrote. I was trying to be topical and lyrical. I was terrible. Seriously, they were some really bad poems. Perhaps my greatest accomplishment was rhyming "Tianamen" with "Cinnamon." That said, I am spending some of my free time these days trying my hand again at poetry these days. As self-conscious as I have begun, the most likely result will be a blank page, the result of multiple deletings. But, you might as well try...

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Conversion vs. Adaptation

A review of various postings on liberal blogs reveals an on-line battle for the soul or future of the Democratic Party. These debates, between the so-called liberal and so-called moderate wings of the Democratic Party are basically a debate over whether the Party should focus on Conversion or Adaptation as a means of attractive more voters. Below is a brief analysis of the pros and cons of each approach.

Conversion: Converters tend to have fixed principles. Pro-Gay Marriage. Pro-Affirmative Action. Pro-Choice. Pro a lot of beliefs whose popularity may be waning among the existing electorate. Their response is to publicize and advocate these beliefs in a pure and uncompromising way, mostly so as to (i) convert new voters to their cause or (ii) convert a few moderates who may have voted for Bush out of fear or misplaced priorities.

Converters favor radical change in the leadership and methods of the party. They feel let down by Adapters, who have sold out on some core liberal beliefs in a doomed effort to gain voters in the middle. Converters doubt whether there really are moderates because they feel that the differences with conservatives are so stark that there really is no meaningful middle ground.

Adaptation: Adapters are not as non-ideological as one may believe. Indeed, they are very ideological, but is most about how change might be effectuated. They believe more in the importance of accumulating power as a means of implementing change. They believe that the electorate needs to be brought incrementally into the fold. By moderating some of the party's position and appealing to some amorphous notion of a "middle class," Adapters believe that they can redfine some of the core concepts that have been successful for Republicans, i.e., values fiscal responsibility, etc.

Adapters actually believe in their positions. Their values are just different. They tend to be more ambivalent about some issues that are fundamentally important to converters. Gay rights are cool, but they are not paramount. Affirmative action is not a comfortable concept. But, promoting fair trade or fiscal responsiblity are crucial.

Analysis: Adapters and Converters differ on both tactics and values. Republicans have been successful because they have balanced both, and have benefited more from favorable political environments. Reagan won in large part because of disillusionment at the failures of the Carter administration and frustration at where the country was in 1980. Once in power, they converted people using the power of Adaptation. They did not immediately eliminate affirmative action, but used their power to raise questions and change the way it was perceived and administered so as to gradually undermine it.

The party in power has the power of the bully pulpit, and can lay the foundation for conversion through adaptation and manipulation. Concurrent with their hold on power for 16 of the last 24 years, the Republicans have encouraged grass roots advocates efforts to advance more radical agendas, letting some of their concepts seep into their modes of governance just enough to give them legitimacy and the power of persuasion.

Democrats should focus more of accumulating power, whether at the local, state or national level. There, they can make more of their core beliefs normative over time. Relying on new voters is dangerous. Some are young and ideological which favors Converters. But, many are new citizens whose values may tend more "conservative" inasmuch as they have coopted populist language and imagery.

Adapters with a more moderate, but clear ideology are probably better positioned to marginalize some Republican beliefs without being susceptible to empty, but powerful labels. Weighing which principles to adovocate now as opposed to later allows the Party to expedite the accumulation of power without sacrificing long-term objectives (e.g., gay marriage tomorrow, not today).

The label "liberal" has come toxic, but at the core all Democrats believe in fairness. At the same time, Converters should be encouraged in their grass roots efforts because there does need to be a paradigm shift, and accumulating power is only part of the effort.

Kerry failed because he used the patronizing concept of "fighting for us" to frame the fairness issue. He was a coreless adapter, and a half-hearted converter. Americans can fight for themselves, they do it every day. They want a clear vision of what you think is right and wrong, and they want to make their choice. It feeds into a general libertarian streak in us all. They, therefore, want to be empowered, not taken care of. I am not convinced that Bush was chosen by moderates because they thought he'd take care of them. They probably said, yeah I kind of believe in some of the things he does and he won't be telling me what to do. Both Adapters and Converters, if they are to succeed, have to push this notion of freedom, fairness and empowerment. It is more likely that in the long run, you are more likely to convert long term through short term adaptation focusing of selective emphasis on compelling (when it comes to elections, not ideologically) issues.

Monday, November 22, 2004

More Thoughts...This Time From Larry King

Larry King used to write the greatest column in the USA Today. It was filled with non sequiturs, nonsense and plugs for Larry's friends. His columns were as unabashedly confused and senile-sounding as...well, he is.

Anyways, I recently came across Larry King's last column (published 9/23/01) and here are his unique thoughts about what New York means to him after the 9/11 attacks:

"It was New York that got me my first pair of glasses. My father had died, and my mother had two little boys to raise, so for a short period of time, we were on what was then called relief. (Now it's welfare. Same thing.) My mom couldn't go to work, my eyes were going bad, New York helped. During the early days of the Cold War, it taught me civil defense. Its police seemed always to be around when you needed them, its firemen on call in a New York second, its resources bountiful. I remember the night before my heart surgery, looking down the East River from my room at New York Hospital, and while scared, I was confident at the same time that I was in the right place. I know the city gets knocked around a lot, but I don't know anybody who doesn't feel like a New Yorker today. Ernest Hemingway once said that the definition of guts is grace under pressure. New York is one gutsy town."

His genius was in somehow weaving his first pair of glasses and Ernest Hemingway into the same line of thought (if you can call it that) about what New York meant to his addled brain after September 11. In any event, didn't September 11 make us all think about eyewear or accessories at first? I remember thinking, "They attacked the Pentagon? I once bought some shoes at that mall near there. D.C.'s a classy place though, and we'll pull through."

Some Thoughts....

Some thoughts, hopes, etc. that occurred to me today:

1. I hope and pray for a full and speedy recovery for Condi and her uterus.

2. I have been chewing a lot of gum lately. If chewing gum is wrong, I don't want to be right.

3. I was actually impressed with that fan who started the brawl in Detroit on Friday. Not only did he managed to nail Artest with his beer from like 20-30 feet away. But, he also managed to avoid Artest's initial freak out (loved the innocent guy who got beat up mouthing "I didn't do it" as he got thrashed). Then, the same dude managed to land some blows to the back of Artest's head. For a sociopath, he was mighty sneaky and good.

4. In Trump World, bankruptcy = success. In Joseph K World, Trump = shithead.

5. Cudos to the Major League Baseball for picking the least interesting name for a team. The Washington "Nationals?" It was apparently the name of the Washington team in the late 19th century. Of course, back in the 19th century, boredom was recreation and all that the unwashed proletariat deserved. Most kids had lumps of coals as pets back then.

6. Re the Tara Reid flashing incident a P. Diddy's birthday party earlier this month: Well, at least now Tara Reid will be remembered more for her grotesque, mishapen areolas and not her shitty acting career.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Unbearable Shrillness of Maureen Dowd, Cont'd

From today's column:

"They're fragile and frazzled, depressed and self-doubting.

Trapped in their blue bell jar, drowning in unfulfilled dreams, Democrats are the "Desperate Housewives" of politics.

The image of Republicans as the Daddy party and Democrats as the Mommy party came roaring back in 2004, with a chesty President Bush and Dick Cheney prevailing by making the case that they could protect America from vicious terrorists and uxorious gays better than the Brahmin they painted as a sissy. In politics, as on TV, political correctness is out and retro is in. Hillary's bid to be president suddenly appears more wobbly, and the class of new senators looks like a throwback - with half a dozen white male conservative Republicans front and center. "

This passage is everything...well much anyways...that is wrong with the NY Times most overrated opinion columnist (yes, even more useless than Brooks). The problems:

1. Prose: It is clumsy and too cute to the point of silliness. The cheap attempt at trying to be literary ("trapped in their blue bell jar") is flat and lacking in puissance. The reference to Dems being like "Desperate Houswives" is an awkward and incomprehensible attempt to infuse her analysis with hip pop culture references. Yawn. When she referred to Bush being chesty, I forcefully defended him in my mind: his tits are just fine for a guy. What the hell is Dowd talking about? I ask this a lot when I read her nonsense.

2. Structure: As usual, Dowd bravely advancing worthless analysis after the fact that only she and fellow fatuous and snooty upper class Washington insider types find insightful. Who knows, she may have pushed her butch party vs. bitch party tripe in pre-election columns, but they were clearly not memorable pieces. In any event, the male vs. female, mommy vs. daddy dialectic is unsophisticated and adds nothing to the public discourse about the 2004 election. This gendered theory of how the Republicans is absurdly simplistic and fails to recognize the cultural and homeland securities issues -- and how they were actually framed -- that probably tipped many undecideds towards Bush. It is the type of intellectual masturbation that seems clever after your second martini in the salon of a Georgetown mansion, but useless when cast in the harsh light of a sober, realistic and intelligent analysis.

Joseph K hopes and prays that one day he picks up the New York Times and sees that they gave all of Dowd's space to Bob Herbert.

Religion Lessons From Kirk Cameron

As mentioned in a previous post, I am pursuing my continuing religious education. And, I found some guidance recently. You ever wonder what Kirk Cameron, Mike Seaver on the 1980s TV show "Growing Pains," is up to these days? Of course not, but I'll tell you. He is now one of the country's most popular Christian evangelicals. His most recent work includes staring in the film version of the "Left Behind" series. It is where agnostic fuck-ups like us get left behind during the Rapture and join forces with the Antichrist (this dude named Nicolae Carpathia) to take out any remaining would-be saved folks. I especially prefer the 38 book "Left Behind" series for kids featuring the Youth Tribulation Force and their efforts to fight the Global Potentate.

Anyways, if you want to be saved, check out the web site: www.wayofthemaster.com. There, Kirk helps you save yourself and others through a series of tutorials and fun lessons. Why? Because if God judges you to be unworthy, you are going to be fried in hell. Seriously, you go to hell, you are going to SUFFER for eternity.

The site begins with Kirk asking you whether you are a Christian or not. If you say you are not, you are told to ask yourself if you are "good enough to go to heaven." The key is whether you sweat the Judeo-Christian God enough. If not, God make you suffer in unimaginable ways.

Kirk walks non-Christians through the Ten Commandments. For some reason (God?) my Internet filters started going nuts as this happened, as religious spyware waged war against my laptop. My unsaved Sony won.

Fun questions: Does the fact that you have sinned against God scare you? It should. According to Kirk, you have angered God by your sins. You may think he is a good God and overlook you sins and just love you no matter what you do. But, Kirk says what kind of judge would he be overlooked your sins. Corrupt! He would be a corrupt God/judge if he overlooked your sins.

I started over saying I was a Christian. Then, Kirk had an urgent message for me: Please don't let your loved ones go to hell without trying to rescue them. Are you saved? If not, I will do everything in my power to help you.

Slight problem: I clicked on a link where Kirk promised me help and guidelines on saving you condemned losers. Apparently, it'll cost me. And, salvation is not cheap either. The Foundation Course costs $60. $60! I don't care about y'all that much. You chumps are on your own...

But, do be sure to check out Kirk's monthly column. His entry this Friday is about his friends and he courageously spreading the Word one night to a bunch of large, tatooed drag racing thugs. Just as these thugs (one of these toughs was named Simon, so you know they were real bad) were about to thrash Kirk and his friends, his friend Larry entered something called the "witnessing zone" where he spread the word of God with much force and clarity. Some of the thugs were saved; Kirk described the whole event as "supernatural." That is another word for "fake."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Bush Pardons...

A turkey named Biscuit. Another turkey named Gravy. Doesn't mock them. Unlike that chick they put down in Texas. The turkeys were butch enough apparently. Didn't blubber for their lives,... Just clucked or whatever it is turkeys do....

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Alberto Gonzalez Asks: Can I Get A Kiss Too?

Every day, it seems like there is another picture of Bush making out with one of his new female cabinet nominees to show how much he values women as equals and important members of his administration. I am assuming he is equally smoochy with men; he was a cheerleader after all.

Based on the snapshots I have seen, Bush is a purse-lipped smoocher, not so much a an open mouth tonsil washer. Which is considerate given the amount of time Condi and this Spellings character (I hope she is better at this Education Department gig than she was on Beverly Hills 90210) put into applying their lipstick. But for made up women, they give off an air of frigidity that would make any man's balls jump.

And, then, there was sweet Albert Gonzalez. All he got was a pat on the back when he got nominated. A hearty handsake. No kiss. Not even a light peck. They didn't even give the diminuitive AG nominee something to stand on, for Christ's sake. I mean the man was willing to write a memorandum saying just about anything for the team. Here's some advice to the next male nominee: if you want to get a kiss, try wearing a nice skirt.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A Song That Needn't Be Remade...Being Remade!

I have always maintained that the worst charity song ever was "Do They Know It's ChristmasTime," a 1984 ode written to benefit starving kids in Ethiopia. Ostensibly, a good idea. Until you pay attention to the lyrics. Some examples:

1. "Let them know its Christmas time." For the majority of Africans who are not Christians, it boggles the mind as to why this might be relevant or meaningful.

2. "And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas." Except perhaps if you happen to be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. The Brits who wrote this song apparently think that Africa is all starvation and desert filled with Sally Struthers types and kids with swollen bellies and fly-covered faces.

3. "Where nothing ever grows/no rain or river flows" Nothing ever grows? No rain or river flows? The Nile is the longest river in the world. And it actually does move. And get this: there are actually trees, grass and rain forests in Africa. I know that the songwriters want to cast dire images, but they didn't need to exploit stereotypes to foster generosity, do they? Aside from being stunningly patronizing, it is only partly right. But, it does rhyme.

4. "Well tonight thank God its them, instead of you." No comment.

Calling themselves "Band Aid," the old version featured a collection of A list artists, like Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran, Bono, Boy George (Jospeh K is one of Boy's biggest and straightest fans in the metropolitian D.C. area) and the multi-talented women from Bananrama.

This remake is either filled with a bunch of nobodies or stars (thereby reflecting how out of it I am when it comes to pop culture, particularly British pop culture). What is The Darkness and why are we bringing them to starving kids around the world? Who are Jamelia, the Sugarbabes, Busted? Does no one important in England even care?

Somewhere in Darfur, there is a hungry refugee who is thinking,"Keep your Sugarbabes. Just send rice and ask that janjaweed man to stop raping my mom and sister." And in England, one of the members of that Sugarbabes group will be drinking a cosmpolitan with her friend saying, "Yeah, it was so cool hanging out with Jamelia. She/He could really sing. Oh, and we saw a video of those kids with flies and shit and it was dead sad. Anyways, I am so bloody hungry, let's get something to eat, yeah?"

Monday, November 15, 2004

Bringing Dignity to the Democratic Party

I see James Carville is doing his level best to restore a sense of dignity and honor to the Democratic party. (Click link above.) His decision to appear on the most respected of the Sunday morning talk shows and smash a raw egg on his face calls to mind political luminaries like Abbott, Costello, Larry, Moe, Curly, and Dick Van Dyke.

In the steak-and-eggs segment of middle America, this really could swing some voters in the direction of the Democrats. How many Americans tuned in yesterday morning and said, "Now there is an emissary for a party I could be enthusiastic about!"

At least three, I'd say.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Vote or Die Tragedy in the Offing

Puffy said Vote or Die. 40% of the country didn't vote. Now they live in fear of death at the hands of Puffy's thugs. But, if we know one thing for do, the deaths will be hot and sexy, like everything Puffy does.

Thoughts From Recent Travels

Joseph K was on the road the past few days and the following thoughts occured to him:

1. Austin, Tx: Saw a dead pigeon while doing a walking tour of the city. Struck me. I live in D.C., the home to millions of pigeons and I have never seen a dead pigeon. This pigeon struck me as an anamoly. You don't see any dead pigeons in places where they are know to congregate. You may seen some busted up pigeons, missing feet, beaks, pride. But not dead. So that begs the questions: Where do pigeons normally go to die?

2. Austin, Tx: Watched the local Veterans day parade. My favorite veteran? This one guy in a woman's housecoat. He eventually shed it and revealed that he was wearing nothing but a thong that left little to the imagination. And, he was wearing a fanny pack. What was in the fanny pack. His loose cash? His dignity? I guess if you are cruising around in a thong, it is important to have a convenient carrying pack.

3. Plane from Chicago to D.C.: Are a belching , farting priests somehow less righteous? The devil was coming out of the priest sitting next to me, and news flash: the devil stinks. Not so much sulphury as shitty.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Tell us how you really feel.

The following appeared on the Washington, DC Craig's List bulletin board on November 3 (nota bene: It is NOT okay to contact this person for commercial purposes, in case you are crazy enough to think it would be worthwhile):

welcome, the have nots and have even less--you fucking idiots

all day i felt like i had broken up with someone. i fell asleep with the remote in my hand listening to the news reporting votes. i woke up unable to even look at newspaper headlines or look at cnn. i saw a headline while walking up the steps to my job "undecided". i felt hope. we gathered around the television to listen to kerry and edwards admit defeat, no fighting where the finally couldve...this wasnt al gore. fuck you kerry if you think that i am going to help you out next time. get a fucking democrat with some motherfucking balls..or at least one. i cried while watching him speak/give up. i fucking cried.
and the expression on bush's face makes me want to ram my fucking foot down his throat. that fucking smirk on his shiny monkey face he has that look like a guy gives a girl “oh, wrong hole.” get ready to be fucked in the ass for four more years honey. i want president bush to have an underwear nightmare in front of the entire world. i want someone to catch him gloating about all of the inbred misinformed poor people that voted for him. i want a fucking movie moment. i want to storm the whitehouse.

my mother and her political partners didn’t risk their fucking lives year after year just to relive some of this shit. my uncle didn’t go to vietnam and come back only to be abused for fighting and then for fighting against the war. i didn’t sit on my godmother hip while she had her head bashed in by police for workers rights for nothing. i was covered in blood at age 6 because my family and friends were fighting to make your lives better. my parents sacrified my fucking childhood so hundreds of other kids wouldn’t have to suffer. i wouldn’t have ever said that i wanted to take that all back but i if i could, i would because you didn’t deserve it. ive pulled glass out of my fathers skin, ive watched dozens of people be beaten down by people in uniform. i had rocks thrown at my house because we fought against the klan. i hid for more that 9 hours in an attic unable to speak because my family and friends fought against shit like this. ive had nightmares for years because my family fought your battles. during the gulf war i watched as one of my indian friends got his ass kicked because they thought that he was an “irakee”. FUCK YOU for voting for a goddamn terrorist. you rehired a sadist fuck who only cares if oil is thicker than your blood.

you havent fought for a fucking thing in your life if you voted for bush.

when you vote republican its like pretending that you are a millionaire. FUCK TAXES? who the fuck is going to pay for your ebt or wic? fuck abortion? how many more fucking babies are you going to crowd into your house? what house? screw housing developments! fuck healthcare? see who is gonna take care of you when you are drooling all over yourself. fuck you because all those fucking babies that you couldnt afford to have in the first place are the first ones that are going to war every time because to bush and the rest of the world thinks your sons life is trash. by voting for bush you are setting your children up to be killed. you think bush is pro-life? what trimester is your 18 year old son going to be in when they take his ass over to some oil soaked country just to use him as bait? you think that 9/11 was it? you fucking watch how much more pissed off everyone else is now that we have this fucking asshole as president again. no one is going to bomb motherfucking ohio. no one is going to attack idaho. doesnt it say anything to you that kerry won ny? that kerry won washington d.c and pennsylvania? the very states that were actually attacked? and you are fucking scared sitting your fucking trailer drinking your goddamn coors talking "them immigrants taking all the jobs." no one would even waste throwing a rock at your fucking trashy trashed ass. you think bush is going to take care of you? you think hes gonna actually defend you? maybe bush will be real nice and ask his friend ken lay to give you a fucking job.
when your foodstamps are gone and you are pissing all over yourself on the corner of a street without disability or a fucking pension i will smile in your face. i will lean really close to you and mouth the words "i told you so."

this is in or around boston/not f-ing ohio
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Annals of On-Line Dating

Joseph K is free and single these days. I generally like things the old fashion way, and have mightily resisted the false allure of on-line dating. I thought it was a world filled with desperate singles who prayed that their charming on-line personality would win over people who would flee at the sight of their ugly face.

Yet, several friends of mine have tried it, and have had some short-term success, i.e., they got sweet action from cute girls they'd never think of marrying. Newly single, this concept of efficient action seemed ideal to me.

At several friends suggestion, I signed up for e-harmony. They make you fill out a long personality profile, after which they crunch the data and give you a composite view of yourself and match you with compatible mates. My favorite observation from my e-harmony personality profile: "Your high ego traits coupled with impatience may have others read you as arrogant at times." Can I get an Amen?

And how about this gem: "You may lack empathy and hurt the feelings of others without realizing it--this is not intentional. " Have they been talking to my ex-girlfriend?

Supposedly, they utilize 29 unique characeristics to match you to the absolute right type of person. The results?

1. Apparently, I am very compatible with bears. Many women opt not to share their pictures until later in the process. I have mine up front. Several women have engaged in preliminary dialogues with me without showing me their picture. When I see their pictures, usually they are very large and hairy. One woman's picture featured some bad lighting, but I am pretty sure she was foraging. Another was standing on her front leg while holding an acrobat in her trunk, while her ringmaster looked on with pride. Or might as well have been.

2. The right match with a guy with an Ivy League law degree is a cashier from Frederick, Maryland. Seriously, this happened twice. Call me a snob, but I didn't realize the right woman for me was manning a register at Walmart. Target, maybe. But, Walmart?

3. Finally, I saw a woman who had her picture up early and was cute. We started corresponding. You reach a stage on e-harmony when you share traits you must have and traits you can't stand. Her must haves had a lot to do with hygiene. Same with her can't stands. It is clear she suffered through a traumatic relationship with a smelly guy. Or had the same disease as the boy in the bubble. Anyways, I found the prospect of having to wear sterile gloves on a date unappealing. I discontinued the dialogue.

So far none of these beasts/women have merited an actual date. More stories over the coming months, but it is clear that the only efficiency created by on-line dating for me is that I have a wider swath of undesirables to choose from. And I am helping expand the pool of undesirables for the lucky women matched with me. Zero sum game, my friends.

Two (or so) modest proposals

Is voting an activity of the leisure class? We have a system that, on its face at least, makes it possible for every eligible voter to vote. But there are institutional structures in place that make voting unnecessarily difficult. I, for one, have the luxury of quite a bit of flexibility in my schedule. On election day in my area, the polls opened at 7AM. I showed up at 7:10AM, and found a block-long line. It didn't take long for me to decide that I would return after lunch, when the lines were shorter. I could do that because: (1) my job permits it; and (2) I am fortunate enough to live within a quick subway-shot of work. I came back at 2 p.m., found no line, voted, and escaped. Quick and painless.

But it can be slow and painful for some, especially those who don't have flexible work schedules. And those who feel constrained from asking their boss for an hour to go vote. And those who have 2-hour commutes that suck up their available time. And those who have to rush to a second job at 5:30pm. And those who have to pick up, feed, and bathe kids after work. While it might be possible for many people in these situations to fight their way to the polling place, it could take a degree of drive that they do not have. Maybe they set their alarms an hour earlier on election day to try to get to the polls, but wake up and say "Screw it, I need sleep."

It should not be the case that, in order to vote, a person has to either have a freely modifiable work schedule or an intense personal drive to vote. Some jurisdictions have taken some steps to solve the problem, by allowing early voting or liberalizing rules about absentee balloting. But those only solve the problem partially. Many people don't want to vote before election day. Many haven't made up their minds. Many are simply procrastinators who won't take advantage of these programs.

Why not go further? Here are two ideas to make it easier for members of other classes to vote:

1. Make Election Day a national holiday. This isn't a new idea, but it's one worth revisiting. Let's trade off Veterans Day. What better way to celebrate the contributions of our veterans than by voting? Or Columbus Day. (Which would have the collateral benefit of eliminating the yearly debates over whether it is appropriate to celebrate a racist mass-murderer.)

2. Permit voting in multiple polling places. Many people (especially those with long commutes) would find it far easier to vote near work than near home. Why not let them vote in either place? In fact, why not let them vote anywhere they want? In the days of pure paper voting, multiple-polling-place voting would have presented a massive risk of fraud. ("Vote early, vote often, vote in two places.") But it would be easy now to link polling places so that as soon as a person votes in one place, every other place knows about it.

There are other little things we could do as well. How about more federal regulation of voting procedures -- a new Voting Rights Act? Let's have federally-mandated hours for polling places, and uniform, enforceable rules about what to do in the event of delays and other problems at polling places. Let's have a well-trained workforce at polling places equipped to deal with problems as they occur. Let's make the FEC something more than a shadowy, impotent controlled by the unknown and unseen. The current patchwork of state regulations, enforced by low-level partisan bureaucrats, makes a joke of the election process, and does nothing to inspire public confidence in the electoral system.

The get-out-the-vote effort will always butt heads against the social, economic, and psychological forces that constrain human behavior, and thus it can only get us so far. Would this election have come out differently if we had taken more steps to ensure that eligible citizens voted? Maybe. Do we have now have four more years of a president elected by the leisure class? I think so.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

One More Thing....

Damn the Borgnine Rule...whoever Borgnine endorses always wins. At least in 2004. And don't let me go into how Obama jacked the election. We know the truth Alan.

Keyes fever, we still got it!

I Am A Stranger

I had been optimistic, even giddy in the days andhours leading up to Election Day. I had begun to believe all the hype about Kerry's chances. About the massive youth turnout that would help change the direction of the nation. About the hope. About the fairness. About the return to the time of Clintonian moderation, which seems like a farway time; it is becoming the kind of memory that you think may be more fantasy than real because so much has changed and recollection fades.

I had allowed myself to be lifted so high, the reality brought a long, hard brutal fall. I have closed myeyes waiting to hit the bottom, but I am not quite there yet. Soon, though.

There are greater minds that will explain why, but the average turnout (115 million, about 60% of all registered voters) tells a sad tale. More importantly, I realize now that I had been trapped in a liberal echo chamber. The liberal blogs read, the conservative blogs explained away. My circle of friends do not stray far from my ideology and beliefs. All the talk of huge turnouts, a new direction we wanted to believe in.

But, it was all noise. Sweet beautiful noise, to besure. But, noise nonethless. I couldn't hear or see the truth. 31% of this country who can vote are strangers to me, their values alien and inexplicable. 29% of voters country are like-minded; I know them because I know myself. 40% of all voters don't give a shit or cannot figure out why they should.

I am in a significant minority, one that is now powerless insofar as the institutions of governance in this land. Who are the 60 million who chose this mediocre president yet again? Why do they see things the way they do? Why do they have such different values? Who is their God and why is he or she so different than mine? Why do their morals and values seem so exclusionary, judgmental, abhorrent to me? Forget the echo chamber, I feel very alone politically. I am a stranger in this land.

But we tried. I am most disappointed by the 40% of those who could vote that decided they could not be bothered. They just don't realize that they will be.

We are not entering an entirely unfamiliar era. There will be great changes. Social Security will slowly be killed. The income tax may well fade. Three Supreme Court justices will be selected, and the law will no longer be as we know it. The more things stay the same, the more they will change. The great unwinding that will be required in the coming years may take longer than it should. But, we'll be all right eventually.

After Richard Prior set himself on fire and almost died free-basing, he said his philosphy on life changed drastically and could be summarized on one sentence: "I don't give a fuck." I do, of course, but not right now. Not for a little while.

No politics (read, seen, thought) for me for sometime. Policy perhaps. But like losing a love, you need time away from it all. I am now entering an age of frivolity. We all gotta cope somehow. Pardon me forthe next few months if I seem like I don't give a shit.

Wha' happened?

Does anyone know of a website describing the immigration and non-resident employment policies in Canada and Mexico? Or barring that, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti? Hell, what about the Sudan?

Here are some personally depressing realizations I've had this morning:

- By the time a non-Bush is in the White House, I will be 36 years old. 36! Doesn't Social Security kick in right about then?

- A Bush will have been president for a full one-third of my entire life.

- A Bush will have been president for an astounding 60% of the years in which I have been legally authorized to drive a car.

- Assuming current (but highly tentative) personal projections hold, my kid(s) will be born into Bushworld.

- My father, who sent me off to college under a Bush presidency, will retire under one too.

All of the foregoing realizations are based on the assumption that no one named Jeb is ever permitted to rule the country. Or Prescott. Or Barbara or Jenna. Ugh.


Well...It looks like it'll come down to Ohio and Wisconsin. Kerry is up slightly in Wisconsin as of thise hour. Kerry is down 150,000 with 24% of the precints left to report. It is a toss up, but the Republicans have reason to be optimistic. The Democrats have reason to fret. It is what it is.

Best bet...Bush wins narrowly.

Best hope...unclear.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Borgnine Update

I write to let everyone know that Ernest Borgnine did NOT -- repeat, did NOT -- make a surprise appearance at the REM show last night to announce that he would be voting for Kerry. There's still time, though.

Michael Stipe was surprisingly apolitical for most of the show, making only a couple veiled references to the importance of election day. He wore a black suit and had a superhero-style facemask painted around his eyes. Michael Mills looked like a reject from a Phish revival audition, sporting Carrot-Top locks and round glasses. Peter Buck never said a thing, but he sure played a mean guitar. Three anonymous schmucks patrolled the rest of the stage, shrouded in shadows and meaninglessly strumming irrelevant instruments.

Stipe donned a Kerry tee-shirt for the encore. That's when the concert turned into a rally. A couple directly in front of us were Bush voters, though, and didn't applaud. The man was 40 and had a mustache. I shall speak no more of him.

There was more shoulder and back hair at the concert than I used to see at REM shows. The guy initially next to us was unusually hairy. He inexplicably went shirt-less for the whole show, which took place in the elegant and restrained confines of DAR Constitution Hall. He repeatedly pumped his fists and yelled "Rock and Roll!", which seemed terifically out of place. After one song of jostling against his sweaty body, my wife made us sneak up a few rows, where we found ourselves behind the mustachioed Republican. (Oops. I spoke of him again.)

In the second encore, Michael Stipe took off all his clothes and revealed that his giant penis had been tattooed with Dick Cheney's likeness and a big cursive "DICK." He said, "Ha ha, fooled you. Go Bush!"

Just kidding. There was no second encore. That was in the first encore.

Just Voted...Turnout Will Be Huge

I got there around 5:50AM, about 10 minutes before the polls opened. I must have been the 80th person in line. It was out of control. By the time I left -- efficient line and short ballot, so I was only there for about 15 minutes after the polls opened -- there must have been a block long line outside the building. I'd estimate the numbers at 100-200 people waiting. And growing. Turn-out will be huge. And no GOP poll harrassers since my neighborhood is too white, so the lines should move along smoothly despite the numbers.

Who did I vote for? Well, I was tempted to vote for the Constitution Party candidate, Michael A. Peroutka. His misogynist pro-gun agenda definitely appeals to the alpha male in me. But, then, I thought to myself: What would Lionel Richie do at a time like this. So, I voted for the other guy.


Monday, November 01, 2004

Comin' back from Cali, from Cali, from Cali ...

I have just returned from 9 days in rainy, shitty California. A couple quick thoughts before I jet off to see REM play on this momentous election eve.

1. Anyone who tries to tell you that California has no weather is lying or stupid. I didn't wear a pair of shorts once there and my toes never touched water. (Excepting that shower I took.)

2. Movie stars are just like you and me. They live in mansions, drive Aston Martins, and dine off plates made of the shinbones of Himalayan llamas. We saw Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Philippe in a park with their children. They were flying a kite made of hundred-dollar bills on a silk string that a custom-engineered spider was weaving for them in real time.

3. Inexplicably, Southern Californians have a real hard-on for hamburgers. It seems strange in such an anorexic culture, but they can't stop talking about In-N-Out and Carl's Jr. In-N-Out does, however, offer a burger "protein-style," with lettuce leaves instead of bread. I prefer mine "carb-style," with more bun instead of meat or other condiments.

4. Even though Kerry signs and stickers far outnumbered the Bush ones, I was still surprised at the amount of Bush/Cheney paraphernalia I saw in La-La Land. On the return trip, I connected in Dallas and quickly stashed by Kerry/Edwards pin for fear of arrest by Tom DeLay's knuckle-dragging henchmen.

Anyway, off to REM. I'm hoping for a high-profile secret guest. Like Ernest Borgnine, triumphantly announcing he has changed his vote to Kerry!