Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Projected Spin

Thus far the excuses have ranged from "caucuses are undemocratic, so that win doesn't count," to "there were lots of black people there, so it's not really a win," to "those states will never go democratic in November, so we shouldn't count their delegates," to "we never planned on winning there, so it doesn't count that we lost." I think there've been a few more, but the basic point, made over and over, is that the only states that count are the ones where HRC takes the cake. And it's getting more and more desperate, especially over the last 8 races, several of which she couldn't even acknowledge occurring. It's only a matter of time before a direct accusation gets leveled... I think that time may have arrived. Here's why:

Apparently the weather is a little less than perfect in WI today. Snow, 5 degrees, that sort of thing. Not that that's unusual in WI this time of year, but it sure will cut down the turnout among those who aren't really motivated to vote. With that in mind, here's my projection for the HRC spin-room tonight, if Barack wins in WI:

"Unfortunately in Wisconsin, the inclement weather prevented many of our supporters from going to the polls. It is clearly unfair that low temperatures and snow disproportionately affect our supporters, while Senator Obama's supporters seem to have snow mobiles and studded tires. We do not believe that the results paint an accurate picture of Mrs. Clinton's strong support in WI and across the country. We have asked the Democratic Party to investigate whether the weather and the Obama campaign coordinated a plan for voter suppression. Because Senator Obama outspent, out-organized and out-inspired us, we believe that these results must be seen clearly as inaccurate."

That said, I have no particular feeling of security in an Obama win in WI tonight. I'm hopeful, but it strikes me that in many ways WI is like NH. Cold. Northerly. Full of white people who are willing to live in a place that's cold and northerly... And it's true that blizzards tend to keep the old, the lazy and the casual voter away from the polls. So I guess it is unfair that Barack's support trends young, active and passionate. It's that goddamned plagiarized inspiration. It's just not fair.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

On a Completely Unrelated Topic...

Ok, I admit it. I was really bored, and it was Thursday night. I was out of Netflix, I didn't feel like reading a book, and I'd already read all the blogs, all the press clips, googlenews, politico, realclearpolitics, craigslist, huffpost, drudge and everyone else. Sorry Kos, didn't mean to forget you, I just didn't read you Thursday. Seriously, can we get someone who can compose a sentence on your page?

So anyway, I'm flipping through Network TV (I know, I know), and I come across The Celebrity Apprentice. Or is it The Apprentice: Celebrity? Or whatever. And yes, I stopped. Mostly because I saw what I was certain was fat Danny Baldwin, and wondered how the hell he ended up on a Celebrity show, even a C-List one. But turned out to be Steven. Now, also fat. And on a side note, since this is the meta-verse of instant updates, I just accidentally hit Stephen's (yeah, misspelled the first time but I can't be bothered to change it, he's just not worth the effort) official homepage. It has a Jesus Rap (???!!?!?!?!?!) theme, and apparently Stevey's a big Huckabee fan. It turns out it's a long way from BioDome.

Ok, back to the point. So I stop briefly thinking Stephen is Danny, only to notice that Amarosa is now on the Celebrity Apprentice. Now as it happens, I only know who Amarosa is because I saw her on The Surreal Life a few seasons back, again while flipping through TV stations. And when I see her, back then, I glean that she came to her B-List fame (which landed her in a house full of other B-List personalities) by being some sort of ruthless and raging (word I'll spare my older female relatives that Jane Fonda recently used live on the Today Show) on... Ta-Da... The Apprentice.

I realize that the circular masturbatory nature of pop-culture is incredible. It's getting hard to track what comes first, the chicken's agent or the egg's agent, and whether someone was famous before the breakdown or because of the breakdown. Reality TV only makes it worse, of course. But seriously, can't we draw the line somewhere? And yes, I know that Donald Trump is the most self-aggrandizing, self-promoting, fake celebrity I can think of at the moment, but for Christ's sake, at least he earned his fame by losing money on a casino. I mean that takes some talent, right? But now, we've got a chick on a (B and C-List) celebrity reality show, whose entire claim to fame is that she was on the normal people version of the same show? Let me replay that for you, real quick. She is now one of the decidedly washed up "Celebrities" on a celebrity program. She became a celebrity by being the most obnoxious person on the non-celebrity version of the same show. Which means that either somehow being on Reality TV actually makes people with no claim other than having been on Reality TV into celebrities? WTF? And in some way this is relevant to what I normally talk about. I'll let you, my friend, come up with your own extrapolations, without my input. But if Hollywood and Washington get anymore circular in their logic, they're gonna stir up enough of a whirlpool to flush themselves. Let's hope it's sooner, rather than later.

Seriously, people. That's all I gots.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Thoughts on the Eve...

When I was in 8th grade, we took our class trip to Washington DC. Technically, we went to Virginia, and spent most of our time at a campsite in the woods, but it was billed as a trip to Washington DC. We went to the White House. I sort of remember it. We went to the Smithsonian, where I had already been many times. We spent a lot of time running around this campground, swimming in the pool, playing tetherball, generally ignoring the fact that we were soon to split apart and move off to high schools all over Massachusetts (which is still not off the hook for what it did last week).

Before the trip, there was a major kerfluffle. One of my classmates, who was not well liked by administration, was told he couldn't go. Now, when your class is a total of 15 students, that's a significant event. Nick was not the most popular kid in the class, either. He was German, or something Teutonic, and had joined our class in 7th Grade. He was kind of a haughty and not very well behaved (I later learned the term is Euro-trash), and administration had good reason for distrusting him. But despite the fact that he was not exactly popular, he was still part of our class. So we rallied, we fought the ruling, and we won. I don't really remember much about it, other than the meeting with the principal, who I hated, and Nick's even more Teutonic father thanking us.

On the trip, my biggest memory was a paddle we took down the Shenandoah. We went white-water canoing. The river was beautiful, and it was also fairly rough. After one particularly long and wild set of rapids, we turned in for lunch. As we pulled towards the bank for a break, I reached up to grab a hanging vine and pull us in. Something triggered me to look again, and I pulled my hand back just before I grabbed a handful of poison ivy. It was everywhere along the bank, thick, green and shiny. The vines clambered up the trees, wrapping around trunk and branch, overhanging the river. The leaves were bigger than I've ever seen, like red-leaf lettuce, and the stalks up to an inch thick. They hung just where you would grab them to bring yourself in, and they clung to the softest edges of the bank where we could most easily disembark. Nick didn't have any idea what the stuff looked like. He reached for another vine, and I shouted for him not to. He tried to pull us into a gentle edge of the bank, but I said we should keep drifting. We floated downstream a bit farther, until we found a rocky beach to pull into. Our boat was in the lead, and the group pulled in and we sat on boulders in the stream.

I promise, I'm building towards something more than an overwritten recollection of my eighth grade class trip. So here's my overwritten political metaphor, coming home.

I know some people who aren't particularly political. I should be a little more specific. There are women I know (plenty of men too, but that's not relevant here) who don't really follow things until a day or three before an election. Then they kinda stick their toes in the water and vote. Like I said, plenty of men do it to, but it's not as relevant to my point here. Some of the ones I know weren't particularly fond of HRC. They weren't haters, they just didn't much like her. After the "boys club" media spent a couple gleeful days declaring the end of the Clinton legacy, she got all teary eyed the day before the NH primary, and the women who'd scoffed at her came running to her defense. I didn't much like Nick, but I liked the administration's position a lot less. And, when faced with an "us or them" decision, most of us choose us.

The problem, of course, is that a lot of us don't know what poison ivy looks like, either. Now I'm genuinely not trying to compare HRC to poison ivy, but as I remember the 90's, they were pretty itchy. There was Harry and Louise. There was White-Water, and Cattle-gate, and Monica and Genifer and all the rest. We lost congress, the Senate, and state houses across the country. Governorships, and every type of electable seat that democrats held came under siege, and most fell. We lost the White House on that too, in the end, and I think we all know where that's gotten us. Yes, we were better off financially than we are now, but we lost the progressive agenda, we lost the moral high ground, and we lost any real sense of who democrats were as a whole. There were oozing blisters we had to scratch, or ignore, or cover with calamine and grit our teeth. Whether it was to defend progressive institutions against the onslaught of a re-energized right wing, or pretend we weren't disgusted by Bill's unseemly activities, or pretend that we were at peace when the world was falling into pieces around us, we had to itch, ignore, or cover it up. We did a miserable job, and we paid the price. The party fractured, we turned into a bunch of spineless ninnies, we lost the White House, fell further in congress and the Senate, and only a combination of extreme hubris and a wave of republican scandals put us back on the offensive.

And now, they're asking us to pull the canoe back out of some choppy waters, and trust the ones who steered us into the poison ivy in the first place. I'm not putting all the blame on the Clintons, here. There were plenty of nasties in other places, but they steered us, sometimes gleefully, into fields of the shiny green shit. And now, they're asking to be given another chance to steer, simultaneously saying that poison ivy doesn't itch so bad the second time. In an interview today, HRC GUARANTEED that there would be no scandals involving Bill if she were elected. I'm not sure how this sort of guarantee gets kept, when she can't seem to control him on the campaign trail, and doubtless has more time to keep an eye on him now than she will if she becomes President. She's said that she doesn't want to attack democrats, she wants to attack republicans. Doubtless, many of them feel the same way. And regardless of whether you want to think of the Clintons as poison ivy, or the "vast right wing conspiracy" as poison ivy, or simply believe that the poison ivy is rooted in the mud that'll be flying, the simple fact is that poison ivy itches. It stings, and it burns, and it oozes really gross, yellowy puss. I've had it on every part of my body, literally, and I'd rather move away from it politically, if that's possible.

Sometimes we're better off looking past "us" and "them". Sometimes it's really all "we," and we're almost at a place where most people seem to be willing to believe that. But we're not gonna get there if things get itchy again.

On an anecdotal note:
My mom recently relayed a story to me. Now, let me say, my mom is exactly the kind of voter that should be in HRC's demographic. She's an aging hippy, boomer of course, who came of age in the heights of the women's movement. Her father was friends with folks like Betty Friedan. She's white. Nuff said. But my mom's someone who doesn't do well with things that itch, so she's not so much with either Clinton, and especially Hillary. Back in the summer, she was talking to one of her oldest friends, another perfect candidate for HRC demographic targeting. Another female boomer, also white, and better yet, a New Yorker.

My mom says to her friend, "God, I really don't want to vote for Hillary Clinton."

And her friend says, "Well, you'd better get ready to hold your nose and do it, because you're gonna have to."

And my mom says, "Don't you think there's any chance someone else will win?"

And her friend says, "No."

"What about Barack Obama?"

"You'd just better be ready to hold your nose and vote."

"You don't think he can do it?"

"No one really thinks he can do it."

"Evan does!"

"Just be ready to hold you nose."

So then about 8 months pass, and they're talking on the phone, today. And my mom says, "Wow, can you believe this!"

And her friend says, "No! It's amazing. No one thought this was possible!"

And my mom says... Well, you know already.

So here's the important thing I have to note. And it's that just because we know what poison ivy looks like, and just because we stop on the rocks instead of the bank, that doesn't mean we're in the clear. Eventually, we have to pull back into the bank. Or, for a more apt metaphor, we have to go back into our own back yards. When I got poison ivy in the most unpleasant places, it was from poison ivy in my own back yard. I knew it was there. I could have pulled it up and been done with it, but I knew what it looked like so I chose to just avoid it. But one day I got lazy and ran it over with the lawn mower, one without a grass catcher bag. I was wearing shorts. Nuff said.

The last time we got cozy, or more accurately complacent, something bad happened. I personally still think it was good, because it made things interesting, and it reminded us that power concedes nothing without a demand. But the bad part was that we got a little too comfy with feeling good, and we didn't do what it takes to bring it home. And things got a little itchy. Here in Nevada, it was itchy, but it was localized. It got a lot itchier in South Carolina, and that itch spread. Now it's gonna stay itchy for a while. And we've gotta ask ourselves, I think: am I ok being comfortable now, just a little itchy and itchy for the next 8 years, or would I rather go out in the back yard with some gloves and tear the poison ivy up by the roots? Maybe plant something nice in its place. Yeah, it'll probably be uncomfortable. It probably means talking to strangers, or, worse, talking to our friends and neighbors. It's gonna be itchy. We're gonna get some of that stuff on us, no matter how careful we are. And for some of us, it's gonna be itchy inside, choosing between going with "us" now and being itchy later, or giving it a genuine look and deciding how to handle the poison ivy.

And it's important to remember that we can't just pour some gas on the stuff and throw a match on and go back inside. First, because we risk starting a fire and burning our own house down. And second, because urushiol oil, the thing that makes poison ivy shiny and makes you itch, goes into the smoke, and gets into your lungs. If we just try to throw a match on it, even if the house doesn't burn down, we can get it in our mouths, in our throats, in our lungs.

The only way to get rid of it is to tear it out by the roots. Who's got some gloves?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

And the Show Goes On...

Back in November, in those Halcyon days, before a vote was cast or a delegate appointed...

I got handed the responsibility for Student Organizing in Southwest Las Vegas. I got handed this because the Student program in Southern Nevada was in complete disarray, and no one else in my office wanted to do it. For that matter, no one else in the city apparently wanted to do it, so they gave it, citywide, to the interns. Left with a program that was not only eating itself alive, but also beset with challenges presented by the school board (fans of her majesty, all), I set upon my lonely mission. I won't bore you with details, only say that soon, with promises of things to help them get into college, I had recruited a small army of motivated high school kids. Most of them had (at the time) only a passing interest in the political process, and nearly none had a clue about the (admittedly bizarre) process through which we nominate our candidates. And so, as part of their orientation, I explained to them the order of voting, and how it might play out. Then, true to conventional wisdom (oh, you poor, poor herd mentality), I predicted that we were likely to know the party's nominee by the time we woke up on February the 6th.

Now, as it happens, and as you know, that isn't exactly the case. And, as I warned the youth of Southwest Las Vegas, there was one last option: that we could emerge from Super-Dooper-PooperScooper-Tsunami-Tornado(unfortunately this one is literal) Tuesday without a clear frontrunner for the nomination. And it so happens, as I included in my long-shot caveat, that the important states will be the ones that DIDN'T move up their nominating primary or caucus in order to be important after all. That's right. After the hoopla, the pomp, a not insignificant amount of circumstance, a heaping tablespoon of grains of salt, and all the jib-jawin' by pundits aplenty, it turns out that everyone who wanted to be cool by arriving early will lose out to the fashionably late.

So congratulations to my ol' adopted state of Washington. And Bully to you, Ohio, you buckeye heartbreaker. Oh, Texas, how could I forget you? You shan't be alone for long, Lone Star. And what of Pennsylvania, land of friendship? Friends aplenty shall you have, Penny, should the deadlock last past March the 4th.

That's right. I know how much all of you looooooooove to have your evening news, newspapers, latenight talk shows, hell, all of media dominated by this seemingly endless process. And it could drag on eternal. Which sucks especially for me, since the longer it takes Barack to win the nomination, the longer I have to wait until I can be hired on staff for the general election campaign.

And that means that I do, in fact, have to keep looking for a job. Since I'm tired of talking about the future of the country (!???!?!?!?!?!), I'm going to take a moment to bitch about looking for work. As it happens, it's been a while since I had to do it with any seriousness. And, as it turns out, it still sucks just as much as it used to. I'd heard about all these advances in technology, but it turns out that going to open-call interviews for stupid jobs you're not really that interested in, but know will help you pay down the mountain of debt you've accumulated while moving across the country and working unpaid for three months, still sucks. And in case that sentence was too long for you, welcome to the club. Distilled: I hate looking for jobs, especially when it's a job I'm tired of doing. But the problem is, I don't want to get a meaningful job (I have now discovered that they do actually exist), only to love it, only to be faced with leaving it to work on the general when (not if) Barack wins the nom. Also, meaninful jobs rarely offer serious cash in a fast way. So I'm reduced to attending open-call interviews for bartending gigs, surrounded by dozens of other, identically dressed and coiffed, candidates with the same experience, desperately scratching to try to make a lasting impact on one of the identically dressed (black or charcoal pinstripe suit, white shirt, blue tie) manager types who's trying not to snore through my response to "what is the most important part of your job as a bartender?" It's incredible how quickly applying for work will make you feel like the least important person in the world. Must be how all these states feel, once the votes are cast and the candidates moved on.

So bully to you, states that are still important. And bully to you, people who still get to vote. And BTW, to my friends and relations in states that continue to matter (I'm looking at you, OH, PA, TX, WA, and anyone I know in other as yet untested places), should I somehow discover that you have failed to vote, and failed to bring three or four friends with you, or should I discover (gasp!) that you voted for someone else (in the democratic contest, anyway), I will be most disappointed. And to Massachusetts: what in the name of god is wrong with you? Are you people all stark raving mad? I don't think there's anyone in MA who reads this, but, if there is, I hope you'll give a good solid whack upside the head to everyone you know who deserves it, for reasons that should be, by now, apparent. I may have to start saying I'm from somewhere else. And that gets really hard to explain when I'm wearing a Red Sox hat, so please, find a way to make it up to us!?!