Thursday, November 25, 2004

This is a fascinating story: Police Raid Mexico City Neighborhood. It is all about vigilante justice.

Mexico is, as I think I've said before, chock full of corrupt public officials, especially local and state cops in poorer areas (our town's cops had a relatively good reputation, but other towns didn't have that). The article sort of leaves one with the impression that these folks just sort of lost it, but I can totally imagine that this is the culmination of a long struggle for justice for these folks. It's a shame all the way around.

By the way, there is an excellent old Peter Lorre movie called "M" that plays out similarly to this. Set in a German slum back in the 1920s. Check it out.

I like traditional Thanksgiving food. I used to really get into the events surrounding the food, but now it is just about the food. Unfortunately, fate over the past 11 or 12 years has made the food sometimes hard to come by (at least in its best form). Anyway, here are my Thanksgivings by year.

2004: in Wuppertal, Germany doing nothing Thanksgiving related. I said, in the previous post, that I was toying with cooking, but Birgit has a training thing this evening so it isn't worth it. Nothing sadder than eating Thanksgiving dinner by yourself.

2003: in Guadalajara, Mexico doing nothing Thanksgiving related.

2002: in Guadalajara, Mexico doing nothing Thanksgiving related.

2001: in Cuyutlan, Mexico having Thanksgiving dinner with the people who ran our little hotel on the beach. One of the owners is an American (his wife is Mexican) and we showed up just as they were preparing dinner. We were the only guests that night, so they said we should join them. It was pretty cool.

2000: in Texas having Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, brother, and aunt. This was a bad time since my brother sucks in lots of ways, my dad was recovering from his recent near-fatal accident, my aunt is a bit of a loon, and my mom was zonked out on pain pills. AND it was Texas. I gave thanks for my car, which got me out of there.

1999: in Alabama having Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and other kin at my aunt and uncle's house. It isn't a bad thing to be with my extended family in general, but I hate what happens with meals. Basically, you've got me, my brother, my parents, my aunt and uncle, their six children, their spouses (4 had spouses in 1999), and the rugrats (8 of them in 1999). This means that a proper sit-down meal is not possible, and so the day is spent feeding from a trough, before retiring to sit in front of the TV. I've got a weird thing about cafeteria-style eating, so this sucks the life out of it for me.

1998: in Alabama having Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and other kin at my aunt and uncle's house. The Trough. See 1999.

1997: in Germany having Thanksgiving dinner with Birgit and coworkers from the embassy. That was sort of odd. I worked, most of the time, at the grocery store. I had lots of friendly contact with an older fellow (retired Army intell guy) who worked as an embassy courier (he had security clearance so they liked him) and was married to the IRS person responsible for all Americans living in Europe. Anyway, this guy invited me and Birgit to their place for dinner. So it was the IRS honcho, a retired Army intell guy, an Air Force colonel (the attache) and his wife, and Birgit and I. Good food, odd atmosphere.

1996: in Germany having Thanksgiving dinner with Birgit and our friends, one of whom was an American who hooked us up with the turkey cooking. That was pretty cool. Good food, good folks.

1995: in Alabama having Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and other kin at my aunt and uncle's house. The Trough. See above.

1994: I'm not sure where I was for that. I'll bet it was Tulsa, Oklahoma (where my parents lived at the time) or Alabama for the Trough.

1993: in Germany having Thanksgiving dinner with fellow exchange students at a thing put on by the university. The Korean students brought Korean food, and it was way better than the turkey. It rocked.

1992 and all previous years in Alabama with the parents and brother or the gang of us in Florida with kin. These were all sitdown affairs. One exception: one year we went to the Creek Indian Reservation in Atmore, Alabama for some sort of festival which rocked hard. It was the greatest Thanksgiving ever!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Were I the sort who gave thanks to a higher being, I would thank said being for the dolphins who prevented a New Zealand shark attack and humbly beseech said being for such an escort should I ever encounter a shark in the wild.

But, I guess I'll just get eaten, since I'm a heathen.

I'm toying with preparing a Thanksgiving meal. It is a tossup right now between a turkey roulade and the complete Charlie Brown menu (popcorn, buttered toast, pretzels, jelly beans, and ice cream sundaes.

The deciding factor may well turn out to be the availability of jelly beans. Gummi bears may have to do.

Also, I watched Bayer Leverkusen versus Real Madrid in the Champion's League last night. It was 1-1 (B.L. won 3-0 last time). Not the best game I've ever seen, but it did harden my resolve to say the following at every opportunity:

David Beckham is way overrated.

[and I may as well go on and say that Ronaldhino of FC Barcelona is UNDERrated. He's Mr Excitement.]

Monday, November 22, 2004

You shouldn't tug on Superman's cape.
You shouldn't spit into the wind.
You shouldn't pull the mask off the Lone Ranger.
You shouldn't mess around with Jim.

And you shouldn't throw a drink on a member of the Indiana Pacers.

Got it.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I'm a regular reader of the road to surfdom, which is a blog by an Australian fellow with a largely Australian readership (as far as I can tell). A frequent topic there (often lurking in the wings while other topics are on stage) is Australia's relationship to the UK royal family.

Recent comments by the dauphin regarding meritocracy, and the subsequent discussion on trts, have spurred me to mull the following question:

What useful purpose does a hereditary monarchy serve today?

Hardly a new question, I realize, but not one I often consider.

I know what monarchies have done in the past, I know what democracies do/can do, I know what symbolic heads of state (like the German president) do/can do, and I know what republics do/can do. I also know what dictatorships (party or individual) do/can do. What I don't quite get is what purpose a hereditary monarch serves that none of these other systems can't do a better job of, particularly when, as is the case in most countries outside of Nepal and Bhutan, the monarch is all but powerless.

I would like someone to tell me the answer to this question, particularly if they are themselves monarchists and especially particularly if they don't stand to gain personally from a monarchy (if you are the Fourth Earl of Dicksquiddle then obviously a monarch can be good for you, but what of the plebes/proles/commoners?).

I know, thanks to Sitemeter, that people unknown to me look at this from time to time, so I do hope they consider this a calling out.

I should have added (coincidentally) that I was listening to Supertramp's "Bloody Well Right" while I posted that last one.

"So you think your schooling's funny? I guess it's hard not to agree. You say it all depends on money and who is in your family tree? Right. You're bloody well right."

I learned from the Tramp, too. See also "The Logical Song" and "Take the Long Way Home".

The author seems to have his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, but I'll make no bones about having learned much in the School of rock. My political attitudes were very strongly influenced by the Police, Sting, the Clash, the Who, and Pink Floyd in particular.

Funny article, anyway.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The big news (over on this side of the water anyway) is that "Do They Know It's Christmas?" has been rerecorded. All the big British stars are on it, including, um, whoever is big in Britain these days (I have, in fact, heard of some of them).

Good cause. I hope they raise loads of money. I'm all for it.

But let's not kid ourselves: It's not the world's greatest song.

"It's Christmas time / There's no need to be afraid / At Christmas time / We let in light and we banish shade / And in our world of plenty / We can spread a smile of joy / Throw your arms around the world / At Christmas time"

I'll let the first verse slide. It is a little corny, but this is a Christmas song so corn is in order.

"But say a prayer / Pray for the other ones / At Christmas time it's hard / But when you're having fun / There's a world outside your window / And it's a world of dread and fear / Where the only water flowing / Is the bitter sting of tears"

Stop right there. I like the image, and I hate to pick on this verse since it belongs, in part, to my beloved Sting, but the NILE? The CONGO? The ZAMBEZI? Lots of rivers in Africa, including in Ethiopia. The Sahara, I'll grant, is all but waterless, but not many people live there. There was water flowing, but it wasn't flowing to the folks who needed it. Anyway, the next lines rock:

"And the Christmas bells that ring / There are the clanging chimes of doom / Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you"


A word on the chorus: a) if we let them know it is Christmastime, will they go "Dude! It's Christmastime! I should stop feeling so hungry!" b) some tens of millions of Africans are Christians and have been since the getgo, so they probably are aware of Christmas c) the song relies on that old "Christmas is the one time of year when you should stop being a greedy, ignorant asshole" for its punch. I prefer Jackson Browne's "The Rebel Jesus" in this respect, as it is more critical. But whatever.

I'm being a bit of a humbug. I'm not sure what my problem is.

"And there won't be snow in Africa / This Christmas time"

I'm pretty sure there will be. The Atlas Mountains? Kilimanjaro? The SNOWS thereof? Ring any bells? And anyway, there won't be all that much snow in Britain this Christmas time! At least not in England. Not really known for being all that snowy, is it? And what the fuck does snow have to do with anything? Perhaps I'm just acting out here, but since I, like most of the rest of humanity, hail from a temperate/subtropical part of the world I've always taken humbrage at the whole Christmas/snow connection. Fuck that noise, you fucking yankees! If I was LUCKY I got an inch of snow for a few hours a year.

Calming down. Getting a grip.

"The greatest gift they'll get this year is life / Where nothing ever grows / No rain nor rivers flow / Do they know it's Christmas time at all?"

I've dealt with most of these points above, but let's recap: NOTHING ever grows? Nothing EVER grows? If that is the case, we shouldn't "feed the world": we should be helping the world pack, cuz they need to move to a place where something sometimes grows. And rain? They get that. Rivers? Dude, they've got SuperRivers! Don't be silly.

Phew. I'm glad I got that out of my system. I'm sorry for being such an ass. I don't know what's up, but I've been thinking that for twenty fucking years (seriously, I was like this when I was a kid, too).

Feed the world.

Edited to add:

Band Aid stars 1984 vs 2004

Bananarama -- I knew them and liked them then and still do.
Bob Geldof -- I didn’t know him then. Know him now and like him.
Culture Club -- I knew them then but didn’t like them. I like them now.
David Bowie -- I knew him and liked him then and still do.
Duran Duran -- I knew them then but didn’t like them. I like them now.
Eurythmics -- I knew them and liked them then and still do.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood -- I knew them and liked them then and still do.
Heaven 17 -- I didn’t know them then. Know them now but am ambivalent.
Human League -- I knew them and liked them then and still do.
Kool and the Gang -- I knew them and liked them then and still do.
Midge Urge -- I didn’t know him then. Know him now but am ambivalent.
Paul McCartney -- I knew him and liked him then and still do (old stuff).
Paul Young -- I didn’t know him then. Know him now but am ambivalent.
Phil Collins -- I knew him and liked him then and still do (old stuff).
Spandau Ballet -- I knew them and liked them then and still do.
Status Quo -- I didn’t know them then. Know them now but am ambivalent.
Sting -- I knew him and liked him then and still do.
The Style Council -- I didn’t know them then. Still don’t know them.
U2 -- I knew them and liked them then and still do.
Wham! -- I knew them then but didn’t like them. I still don’t.

Bono and Paul McCartney are back. As for the rest . . .
Robbie Williams -- I know him and like him.
Chris Martin (of Coldplay) -- I know him and suspect I like him.
The Darkness -- I know them and suspect I like them.
Sugarbabes -- I don’t know them.
Travis -- I don’t know them.
Busted -- I don’t know them.
Will Young -- I don’t know him.
Dido -- I know her and sorta like her.
Beverley Knight -- I don’t know her.
Jamelia -- I don’t know her.
Lemar -- I don’t know her.
Estelle -- I don’t know her.
Ms Dynamite -- I don’t know her.
Feeder -- I don’t know them.
Keene-- I don’t know them.
Snow Patrol-- I don’t know them.

Old much?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Bob has an excellent post up about the most recent electoral fraud. Suffice to say, all your base are belong to us.

Freedom is, somewhere, on the march.

Friday, November 12, 2004

I just had the pleasure of watching the George and Tony show live.

It really is hardly news that Dubyah is an idiot, but it is nice to be reminded of it, lest one starts to doubt, but Tony said his fair share of stupid shit, too.

Chief problem: they want a democratic Palestine.

Um. Isn’t the Palestinian government, such as it is, strickly speaking, a democratic one? I mean, Arafat got elected, right? As did the parliament and prime minister, right?

Surely G and T know this.

"The Weight", by the Band, is on Itunes.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

If I could write like THIS then, buddy, I reckon I'd call myself a writer.

Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag.

Yassir Arafat

died just as he lived:

as a well-worn Ringo Starr.

Effective freedomfighter (if that is what he was: I'm not fond of the term), awesomely bad political leader, adequate corpse.

Soon, perhaps, Ariel Sharon will join him at the great peace-avoidance table beyond this mortal coil. They're going to have a tough time finding a place to bury him, too, because he's so fat.

But for real, though. We are indeed at one of them turning points. Here's hoping we have the sense to turn.

Why do I doubt that the vehicle even has a steering wheel?

Oh! I totally forgot to teach history!!!

Yesterday was the anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall AND (ominously?) Kristallnacht.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the official end of the Great War. Bells will be ringing their sad, sad tune. At 11am.

I've been thinking about it, and I've come to the conclusion that my massive readership is actually here because of the music. The kids dig the music. But since the kids are also all worked up about politics and world events, I'm going to post lyrics to songs dealing, in some way, with politics and world events.

First up is "Lie Still, Little Bottle" by They Might be Giants

Lie still, little bottle, and shake my shaky hand.
Black coffee's not enough for me: I need a better friend.
One pill at the bottom is singin' my favorite song.
I know I must investigate. I hope that I can sing along.
"Well there's no time for metaphors," cried the little pill to me.
He said "Life is a placebo masquerading as a simile."
Well I knew that pill was lyin': too gregarious, too nice.
But as he walked I had to sing this twice.

Lie still, little bottle: don't twist it ain't twistin' time.
With every move you make you just disintegrate my ever-troubled mind.

Lie still, little bottle, and shake my shaky hand.
Black coffee's not enough for me: I need a better friend.
One pill at the bottom is singin' my favorite song.
I know I must investigate. I hope that I can sing along.
Lie still, little bottle, lie still.

And that, the kids, is what I'm thinking right now.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I, for one, am going to miss John Ashcroft. He's just so easy to loathe! He's like a cartoon character come to life! Ah well. Maybe this Gonzales fella will be good for a few giggles. Somehow I doubt it, though. He'll probably be one of those boring old banality-of-evil types, who sticks it to you while you snore away.

Ashcroft, I reckon, is too old and unwell to sit in the Roger Tawney chair. I wouldn't be surprised if we get someone good and scary up there though. I had always heard Gonzales mentioned as a Supreme, so now that he's out of the running I've got no more guesses.

Except: Roy Moore. Don't be surprised to see him get some sort of federal gig. And he's scary smart. He's bedtime-story scary smart. He's scratchin'-at-your-window-on-a-stormy-night scary smart.

This is an example of why I love good satire. In one little paragraph, the Onion has managed to capture many of the bad guys' thoughts about the good guys better than any commentary.

I'd like to print this out and staple it to David Brooks' forehead. NO. Nail it.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

The (excellent) UK-based magazine "The Economist" endorsed Firetruck for the presidency (as you may be aware) with "a heavy heart". Their problem was that they hitched their wagon to Bush long ago (if you don't know the Economist, let's just say that they let the "free trade" part of classical liberalism cloud their judgement), including on his wars, and ended up writing a meandering "Bush was good on this and that but, basically, we can't endorse him because, sigh, he has fumbled around too much for our tastes."

Anyway, they got a flurry of letters about that. One (a Mr Odyniec of California) offered a rather funny, to my mind anyway, example of how their logic is faulty:

He says that were this 1944, the Economist may have written "Roosevelt deserves praise for his reaction to Pearl Harbour but has made some mistakes. He lost the battle of the Kasserine Pass in 1943. On D-Day he lost over 3,000 men in what his opponent called the 'wrong invasion at the wrong time and in the wrong place'. Afterwards, Roosevelt, in battles that he outsourced to an ally, let 40,000 Germans escape from Falaise and another 80,000 from Walcheren. His biggest mistake, though, was the internment of thousands of people of Japanese ancestry, whether innocent or guilty, without trial. And he did not dismiss [US Admiral] Chester Nimitz after [Japanese] Admiral Yamamoto was shot down without a trial and Japanese merchant vessels were sunk in blatant disregard of Geneva conventions. If Roosevelt had made progress elsewhere in the world, it might have outweighed such mistakes. But 'liberated' France is in disarray and China remains under occupation. Only the overthrow of Mussolini is clear progress."

I assume the author is not my sort of fella, as I infer an inclination on his part to view Bush's wars as being on par with WW2. The neocons and their fellow travellers are fond of such comparisons. I'll have none of that BUT I do think that those on the left who have bought into the nonsense (believing, as does John Firetruck Kerry, that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should have been done, but done differently) might find that letter a bit disturbing. After all, many many many of them hung their hats on the "Bush doesn't know how to run a war" peg.

Asses. Fools.

Iraq declares state of emergency: "The BBC's Paul Wood, embedded with the US Marines, says they believe that Falluja will be their biggest engagement since Hue, the Vietnamese city they captured in 1968, losing 142 men and killing thousands of the enemy. "

Oh and, um, Hue was pretty much destroyed during that offensive. Dare we hope that this will prove an inaccurate comparison? My "gut" tells me no, and if there is anything I learned from John Firetruck Kerry, it is to trust my gut.

Due to the election results, more than a few people have written, with varying straightness of face, about moving to another country. Since I actually live in another country (and, until recently, lived in an other other country), I figured I'd toss a few ideas out for those who may actually be considering this.

First off, I can see where you're coming from with the idea. It isn't what motivated me, but I can dig it. But, you probably shouldn't go anywhere where you don't already know someone, unless you are a real self-starter. Contacts make everything easier, and all sorts of things can be really daunting when you are a foreigner.

Also, consider your options carefully. If you are moving primarily due to your political principles, then you don't want to step in a big pile of hypocrisy.

Since the world is huge, I'll limit my comments to the countries I've recently seen mentioned, and since your average native born American is linguistically challenged, let's start with the English-speaking countries.

The UK -- is a member of the Coalition of the Willing. Don't forget that. Brits haven't, and they don't seem too thrilled by it, but it is true. Also, although the Queen and her recent ancestors have graciously chosen symbolic power, there is the whole monarchy business, compounded in this case by the (still a bit powerful) House of Lords.

Australia -- has most of the above-listed features, but more indirectly. Also, they've not actually sent very many troops to Iraq (indeed, no one has except the US and UK). However, the Conservative government just won reelection, and while they don't seem near as wild-eyed as the Bushies, they ain't exactly the cast of Les Miserables.

NZ -- ditto, I think (although they did pull their dozen or so troops out recently). I understand that they are still nuts about the Lord of the Rings, too, so if you find that offputting you'll want to avoid it. Also, the tv showed a skinhead march the other day. I don't know how big that is down there, but worth considering.

Ireland -- you can't smoke in pubs, but not a member of the Coalition.

Canada -- I can't think of anything negative about Canada, except the royalty thing.

And then there's . . .

The Netherlands -- Coalition member, royal family haver. Otherwise a pretty cool place. A bit flat, though.

France -- Funny thing about France: French foreign policy has always been pretty damned agressive and not dissimilar to US policy. French governments, like the US, are quite fond of getting up in the business of other countries and buying from and selling to pretty nasty regimes. France, you may have noticed, helped the US overthrow the legitimately elected Aristide government in Haiti not long ago. Inside France, however, things can be pretty sweet. I think the official attitude that immigrants are there primarily to become French is a bit misguided, and I question the wisdom (but not the spirit) of the recent headscarf/yarmulke/crucifix ban, but otherwise not bad.

And last, but not least . . .

Mexico -- which is excellent. Loved. It. However, there really is a spectacular degree of corruption there, as well as gnawing poverty which seems closely linked to racism (the darker one is, the poorer one is likely to be). But there are ways to get involved that can at least make you feel like you aren't reinforcing the problems (like through schools). Foreign-policy wise, Mexico has a pretty clean record. They fought a small war with Guatemala in the 19th century, but have otherwise been victims since independence (of the US and . . . France!). The Mexican military tradition is a result of their several and bloody civil wars and revolutions. There probably won't be another one of those soon, so Mexico may be a good bet. There will be a presidential election in 2006, and it is already looking like there may be shenanigans involving the conservatives and PRI trying to block the Socialist-lite mayor of Mexico City from running. Worth keeping an eye on.

So there's the popular countries.

One I've not seen mentioned is Germany. Like Mexico (and before France), the German government refused to back the US in the Security Council discussions before the Iraq War. Because of how the Holocaust and Second World War have been processed over the past two or three decades, furthermore, German public opinion has become almost pacifist (and I love that). This hasn't stopped the government from allowing and encouraging massive weapons exports (which I'm against, in pretty much all circumstances), but that's mostly a capitalism thing (which I'm also against). This means that, for example, if you run afoul of the Turkish government, there's a decent chance that you will be looking down the barrel of a German-made tank. That would be the worst foreign policy mark on Germany (and it is a bad one). Internally, they've done a poor job connecting parts of the former East Germany to the rest, and especially the southeast has massive and entrenched unemployment and an increasingly vocal neoNazi movement to deal with. Their actions and rhetoric, so far, are pretty similar to what you'd find in the anti "illegal alien" movements in the US, but it bears watching. Unlike the US, they don't have mainstream politicians on their side, though. From what I can tell, non Germans get along relatively well in most of Germany (outside of parts of the East) otherwise.

And in 2006 there will be World Cup Soccer action!

I ended up writing more than I intended, and it isn't as coherent as I'd hoped. It really isn't worth all these words, anyway, since almost no one is going to pack up any time soon and flee the US. But if you do think you might want to, I'd advise you go visit somewhere first for an extended period, especially if you've never been there before. The rest of the world can be quite a shock (mostly in a good way). Know also that, for the moment, it is laughably easy for a US citizen to go live in most of Europe, Canada, and Mexico, and you can even find work if you have any sort of marketable skills. Changing citizenship is harder, of course, unless you've got tons of money, but people with tons of money will probably want to stay in the US anyway, so fuck them.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

This tickles my "it really is that bad, isn't it?" place: The Beast of History is In.

Friday, November 05, 2004

What the fuck is this all about?

USA: Kampfjet greift Schule in New Jersey an ("Fighter jet attacks school in New Jersey")

I reckon this says all that needs said about the accuracy of our smart bombs.

[edited to add it in English]

Blue State Secession, the Only Solution?

The maps are funny.

It occurs to me that, aside from frequent visits to Pittsburgh during my sojourn in Morgantown, WV, I've never spent much time in Blue America. I grew up in a suburb of Birmingham, AL, and went to college in Hattiesburg, MS and Morgantown. My parents have lived in (and I have visted them in) Tulsa, OK, and a suburb of Houston, TX. I don't even have any close relatives in Blue America. I have an aunt and some cousins in New Jersey and another aunt and cousins in Oregon, but I've had very little contact with them over the years.

In fact, I only have three close friends in Blue America (Sharon and her husband, in Pittsburgh, and Carlton in Boston [I may be being a bit bold by foisting Closeness on Carlton, but it is well intended]) and a handful of not-as-close friends in NYC. My favorite baseball team is part of Blue America, but is located, ironically, in the relatively conservative northern part of town.


It bears repeating (others have said this, I reckon) that while majorities (ranging from slim to wide) in Red America vote conservatively, there are loads of left of center folks in pockets throughout the country. Austin, Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Cleveland are all pretty Blue, but so are Houston (believe it or not) and Birmingham and Atlanta and Morgantown and Charleston (WV) and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill and so on and so on. Conversely, California and New York State are hardly uniformly liberal, and yet and yet and yet.

The Electoral College is simply indefensible (he says, sort of out of nowhere). That was clear in 2000, when the greater of two evils won using it, but it is equally clear now, when he actually won the popular vote by a fairly large margin (don't bother trying to spin it unless you can honestly say you never said something like "but Gore actually had over 500,000 more votes!").

I reckon that should be one of the fights we need to fight.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

This is a spectacularly surreal story on one level, but on another level, it could be a forecast of things to come.

Ex-NFLer Held in Siegfried & Roy Drive-By

The whirlwind is on the verge of being reaped, I think.

[link via August J. Pollak]

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I forgot to post this below, so rather than edit again I'll ask it here:

Where were the terrorists? I was under the impression that they were under our very beds and hated our freedom and democracy. Surely election time would be a good time for them to work out their issues with us?

Or maybe they've decided that, since we aren't free or democratic, they've got no more beef with us.

Well, I think we can all agree that it is more than a bit sad that we will never get to find out more about John Fucking Kerry’s PLAN. He had one, you know.

I’m reminded of what it was like in Vietnam. You heard that he was there, right?

Anyway. It turns out that if you are running against a guy who is a warmongering liar who has spent the better part of his adult life cozying up to corporations, you probably shouldn’t run on a dishonest platform of warmongering and support for corporate interests.

There is a decent chance that Kerry would have lost no matter what, though. I admit that because of my deep and abiding conviction that around half of the voting population of the US is some combination of . . .

homophobic, selfish, hateful, ignorant, stupid, vicious, xenophobic, easily lead, spiteful, and not nearly far enough away from me.

Softly softly NEVER works against fascists. You can’t outflank them, you can only destroy them. Kerry (and Gore before him) tried to outflank them. Clinton succeeded because he was a master of saying one thing and doing another.

Say whatever you want, but don’t lose sight of the fact that NOT ONLY did Carrie Edwards lose the presidency in spite of having an absolutely stunning set of tools with which to dismantle their opponents (the war, the economy, the lying, etc) but they ALSO lost all the way down the ticket. Everything.

Lesser of two evils? How about just LESSER? You’d think the Democratic party had never actually been involved in a political season before. They misread polls, failed to predict or stop Republican fraud, failed to field good candidates in lots of races, failed to shore up their base, and failed to clarify their message.

With the full knowledge that the consensus is that Vietnam was a bad war and that veterans were sensitive about it, Kerry focused on his brief service rather than the thing that built his political career: a dignified opposition to the waste of life.
Presented with Iraq, they promised to do a better job of a bad thing.
Presented with a fucked up economic policy, they promised to tinker with it.
Presented with holy rollers, they sought to position themselves as holy enough.
Presented with a loose and folksy opponent, they nominated a stiff and patrician candidate.
Presented with a soundbite electorate, they spoke in paragraphs.
Presented with a chance to appeal to the people who have suffered most under Bush (poor people), they chose to concede a massive block of poor people in the South.
Presented with a clear leftwing uprising (which they claimed cost them the last election), they ordered everyone to close ranks and used precious time and energy (not to mention awfully unfair ballot access rules) to demonize them rather than offering them a seat at the table.
Presented with a rabidly homophobic campaign by the Repugs, they came out for states rights to discriminate, and that right there may have been the biggest problem of all.

And now, John Fucking Kerry is giving up.

And people are cheering. Cuz he did such a good job.

If it weren’t so clearly disconnected from reality, I would have to say that John Edwards just gave a fabulous speech.

Kerry just undercut his pal’s “the battle rages on” with a call for healing. Fuck healing.

“I’ll never stop fighting for you” except, you know, right now.

And now praise for the glories of being Roman (er, American). Let’s all pull together and pretend that Bush and his supporters and policies aren’t catastrophically bad. Let’s work hard to win the unwinnable wars in which we are now engaged.

America always moves forward. Even right now. Hell, especially right now. We’re moving crazy forward on the “fuck the planet” course, for example.


So anyway, the closest big airport to me is Düsseldorf. Frankfurt isn’t far away, though, and the train ride from there to here is actually quite pleasant.

(Al Franken, one of Kerry's biggest cheerleaders, just basically called polite bullshit on the rally around the Dubyah plan Kerry just proposed. Welcome, Al.)

EDITED to play up the homophobia and to point out that Arnold Schwartzeneggar will be the Repug candidate next time and he will win (and I, at least, will be able to call him really nasty names).

Music may calm you in this Ohio business.

"Cuyahoga" by REM, "My City was Gone" by Pretenders, and "Ohio" by CSN&Y spring to mind.

Also I'm thinking of the great SNL skit during the Dick Ebersoll years where Randy Quaid and Harry Dean Stanton did a take off on Miami Vice called "Cleveland Vice." During the chase scene they jumped on a bus and cruised the snowy streets to the tune of "Hang on Sloopy".

Good times.

Dear Friends,

There is plenty of room in my office and Birgit's for guest mattresses, and we also have a very large couch.

The easiest thing would be for you to fly into Düsseldorf. Let me know and I'll meet you at the airport.

Little rabbit come inside, safely to abide.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Take the Guardian quiz on the US presidential election 2004. I got 34 out of 40 (one was wrong because I didn't read the question closely enough, so beware).


Should Kerry pull it off, I'm thinking his part of his cabinet may look like this:

STATE: Richard Holbrooke
NS ADVISOR: Rand Beers
HOMELAND SEC.: Richard Clarke
INTERIOR: Robert Kennedy, Jr.
ATTNY GENERAL: Eliot Spitzer

Just off the top of my head, mind you.

Holbrooke was ambassador to Germany (not while I was around) and my former colleagues said, without exception, that he was a real asshole. Not good with the help and not particularly keen on doing his job. After Holbrooke, the US had no ambassador for a time and then John Kornblum got the gig. He's really popular over here (still on TV from time to time), not least because he speaks excellent German. I expect to see Kornblum get some sort of choice gig. Perhaps ambassador to NATO or maybe UN ambassador.

A bit of levity on Hell o'een.

On the off chance that I am somehow cursed with offspring, I shall pick names from The Utah Baby Namer.

Today, I'm thinking that my male condom leak will be called "Denim Levi" and my bouncing baby female mistake will struggle through life as "Young'n Zakiya".

What of your spawn?

Monday, November 01, 2004

EXCELLENT. Check it out.

Wild kind of look to the day
Opening eyes impale neon flickers
She moon she turning away
The city's her slave but he's cheating his mistress
She's moody and gray
She's mean and she's so restless (so restless)
All over you as they say
Rumours or rivals yell at the strike force
Hi guys, by the way
Are you aware you're being illegal
It's making your saviour behaviour look evil
'scuse my timing but say
How d'you fit in with this flim, flam and judy

Maximum big surprise
Your smile is something new
I pull my shirt off and pray
We're sacred and bound together
To suffer the heatwave
Pull off my shirt and pray
We're coming up on re-election day

By roads and backways
A lover's chance downwind
Cut open murmurs and sounds
Becalm hands on the skin
Carry further oh...
Entangled strands all sing
Saving some time to slip away
We could dance oh...

Shouldn't be asking
Wild and scheming
Could be my election day

Stretching my luck down the way
To your invitation stretching my body
Use your intuitive play
'cause maybe we have more play time than money

Maximum big surprise
You know something new
I pull my shirt off and pray
We're sacred and bound together
To suffer the heatwave
Pull off my shirt and pray
We're coming up on re-election day.

I've been engaging in an email exchange with my folks regarding the upcoming presidential election.

Since there's a chance someone who doesn't know me is looking at this, I'll say a bit about my parents before I go into what I'm thinking about.

My mom was fatherless since age 5. Her dad was the son of Irish immigrants, a WW1 veteran, a jack of several trades and master, perhaps, of welding, and an alcoholic. Her mom, essentially a hillbilly (I mean that in the anthropological, rather than perjorative sense) left school in 8th grade to care for her siblings and worked an assortment of jobs to keep food on the table for my mom and aunt. By the way, before mom was born, my grandmother did a turn as a welder in the WW2 shipyards in Mobile, Alabama. That's where she met my grandfather. Mom studied art in junior college, and worked at banks and in offices of other sorts to supplement the income of my dad.

Dad was the son of a coal miner (who died of, among other things, black lung) and a housewife. Dad was kicked out of school at age 17 for, among other things, punching out a teacher (who didn't even have it coming) and joined the Coast Guard because my grandfather wouldn't let him go to Vietnam (as he wished). Turns out he went to Vietnam anyway, on the USCGC Sebago. Afterwards he worked in a pipe factory before becoming a professional firefighter, and he earned a BS in business via night school. He has, in recent years, worked his way through the public housing system to become a director.

Both of my parents have always been interested in following the news (dad cares for little else on television, save documentaries, and they have always gotten and read "the paper" wherever they lived).

They are socially liberal, favor unions (dad was his local president for a time), and don't care much about fiscal matters save taxes (being of the working class, they have always sensed, correctly, that the system was rigged against them until recently, when dad's wages shot up).

What gets them is military/defense matters. They are, in this sense, the very models of Reagan Democrats.

So here is my point.

They are probably going to vote for Bush.

Last time they voted, on my urging, for Nader (there you have it! At least two Nader voters who would have otherwise voted for Bush!). This time they are so disillusioned with Nader that they are turning to Bush.

Here's why (I glean):

Kerry has been an awful candidate. The Vietnam business is one issue. Had Kerry made a forceful stand along the lines of "I served with vim and vigor but felt betrayed, so I came home to try to stop the betrayal of others" he might have reeled them in. Instead he campaigned as Ole Blood 'n Guts, which rings false. Another issue is that he has eschewed (for obvious reasons related to his voting record) attacking the war in Iraq, and instead attacked the *style* of the war, vowing to do a better job at what is quite obviously the wrong policy. It rings false because it is false.

I reckon there are people like my parents across the US. A better Dem candidate might have gotten them. Kerry won't.

I feel pretty (un)comfortable in predicting, based on this anecdote, that Bush will actually get elected this time. I mean he really will get more votes.

Tomorrow night (or rather, looksatclock, tonight) one of the German tv networks will show "Fahrenheit 911". The network (Pro 7) is sort of the equivalent of "F/X" or "Usa" (i.e. cable, but not HBO).

Michael Moore, by the way, is a really big star over here. All of his books are available in translation at your average bookstore.