Archive for June, 2007

Summer time means funner time
June 21, 2007

Well, I’m officially no longer a high school student as of yesterday. Still rather exhausted from the all-night graduation party, so in lieu of actual content I give you this.


June 19, 2007

Hillary Clinton’s new campaign song is perfect. No, seriously. It’s a perfect metaphor for her campaign. Pretty much any Celine Dion song is, actually.

It’s obnoxiously generic, just plain abrasive to the ears and mot of all it’s a lot of noise and maudlin gibberish that doesn’t really signify anything. Sound familiar?

June 19, 2007

To give you a couple of examples of how bizarre the 2008 race is:

On the Democratic side, the latest “gate” has Obama apologizing for some rather tame, if stupid, snark in a recent campaign memo.

And on the Republican side, Fred Thompson is trying to curry favor with Reagan Republicans by looking for the endorsement of a former British prime minister.

The Republican Party’s whole system is based so heavily on having one guy as the de facto moral/political leader of the party and with everyone running as far away from Bush as possible, their only backup (Reagan) is recently dead. How strange would it be if his replacement wasn’t even a US citizen?

I’m graduating tomorrow
June 18, 2007

So if posting’s a little light in the next couple of days, that’s why.

In other news:

June 17, 2007

An even more hostile Lieberman? How could Lieberman possibly become more hostile?

Lieberman’s power comes out of the fact that he can continually threaten to switch parties. Remove his ability to make that threat and his power and relevance are diminished dramatically. End of story.

June 16, 2007

The irony of this phenomenon that Jared Roebuck is talking about is that in the 2006 election all these Republicans were bemoaning the Democrats’ insistence on “ideological purity” because of the primary challenge against Lieberman.

Pot. Kettle.

Please Stop Believing
June 16, 2007

Amanda Marcotte takes a break from discussing feminism, marriage equality and choice to address another grave problem we face today.

An on-going dispute at the Punkass Mousepad is whether or not Journey is next in line for some sort of hipster revival. Marc says aye, and I say if it happens, it shows that the practice of hipster revivalism has hit something of a wall.

This isn’t just something that’s bound to happen. It’s already happening. People I know who otherwise have a perfectly respectable taste in music have begun arguing vehemently that Journey is a good band. They really appreciate the music.

And let’s be clear: I’m not talking about ironic appreciation here. I’m not talking about appreciation of Journey the way one might appreciate a Dragonforce song. I’m talking about being completely unironically moved by songs like “Any Way You Want It.”

This monster must be stopped.

June 16, 2007

Via David Sirota’s blog comes Matt Taibbi’s latest dispatch of information nobody really wants to hear but everyone should.

Basically it’s a manifesto of everything that’s wrong with the American left. If you’re like me, seeing an article about something like that is bound to make you groan and think, “Jesus Christ, more angsty soul-searching bullshit from the left.” Except Taibbi’s not that kind of writer, not by a long shot. This article is a wakeup call.

From the article:

No matter what it claims for a self-image, in reality it’s the saddest collection of cowering, ineffectual ninnies ever assembled under one banner on God’s green earth. And its ugly little secret is that it really doesn’t mind being in the position it’s in – politically irrelevant and permanently relegated to the sidelines, tucked into its cozy little cottage industry of polysyllabic, ivory tower criticism. When you get right down to it, the American left is basically just a noisy Upper West side cocktail party for the college-graduate class.

And we all know it. The question is, when will we finally admit it?

Among the problems that Taibbi identifies are a lack of focus on issues that directly affect the lives of average Americans and an obsolete, patently silly self-image.

When it comes to the first point, I would point out that the environment is something that affects everyone. We’re in the middle of a global environmental crisis. The problems is that the environmental issue isn’t being framed in terms of self-interest. This isn’t just about saving penguins, and it isn’t just an issue for PETA or the Sierra Club. Taibbi rags on An Inconvenient Truth a little, but I think the popularity of that film shows movement in a positive direction.

But it’s true that the American left needs to focus on trade more. And he hits the reason why it’s not spot on:

Sanders agrees, saying that “where the money comes from” is definitely one of the reasons that the so-called liberals in Washington – i.e. the Democrats – tend not to get too heavily into financial issues that affect ordinary people. This basically regressive electoral formula has been a staple of the Democratic Party ever since the Walter Mondale fiasco in the mid-eighties prompted a few shrewd Washington insiders to create the notorious “pro-business” political formula of the Democratic Leadership Council, which sought to end the party’s dependence upon labor money by announcing a new willingness to sell out on financial issues in exchange for support from Wall Street. Once the DLC’s financial strategy helped get Bill Clinton elected, no one in Washington ever again bothered to question the wisdom of the political compromises it required.

As much as it sounds like procedural bullshit, there needs to be a push for campaign finance reform. Once again, it needs to be framed the way it really is: we need reform so that the voters can force Democrats and Republicans alike to start dealing with the issues that right now they’re being paid to ignore.

The other issue that Taibbi discusses, the issue of image, is trickier. Clearly the 60s model of protest is dead. And Taibbi has a good message for privileged, educated coastal liberals:

When they start embracing their position of privilege and taking responsibility for the power they already have – striving to be the leaders of society they actually are, instead of playing at being aggrieved subjects – they’ll come across as wise and patriotic citizens, not like the terminally adolescent buffoons trapped in a corny sixties daydream they often seem to be now. They’ll stop bringing puppets to marches and, more importantly, they’ll start doing more than march.

Ah yes, the puppets. Living near Wesleyan University, I see a lot of the type of liberals that Taibbi has the most scorn for – a friend of mine once labeled them “trust fund hippies.” These are the ones who show a lot of concern for impoverished people in other countries but are scared to talk to people from the North End. These are the guys with those idiotic puppets. This is what it means to have an important point obfuscated by orthodox adherents to liberalism more as an aesthetic than a set of solutions to some grave problems.

Matt Singer, the guy who posted this on Sirota’s blog, thinks that Taibbi is being too harsh. And clearly, Taibbi isn’t referring to the whole left. There was a lot of good progressive backing for Bernie Sanders and the Lamont candidacy in the last election and I think one of the positive outcomes of the rise of blogging is that you’re seeing a lot more influential liberal thinkers who are just average, albeit unusually pissed-off, people. Still, Taibbi’s got a point. We’ve got a ways to go.

The Audacity of Hope
June 16, 2007

The great thing about Obama’s campaign is that they’re not entrenched in the old, cynical model of politics. They’re blazing a new trail. This is a movement.

Look, it’s been said before, but if your entire campaign is based around the concept of a new, idealistic form of politics then you actually have to back that up with something. You can’t lecture your opponents on running a clean, positive campaign and then smear your opponent’s spouse with an unconfirmed story from the freakin’ Drudge Report, of all places.

I’m starting to think that despite the squeaky-clean image Obama’s trying to build for himself, he’s actually the most cynical candidate of them all. There’s a certain amount of duplicity involved in any major campaign, but nobody pushes this phony Eagle Scout image as hard as he does.

I hear Estragon is his running mate
June 16, 2007

Vote for Gravel in ’08! The existentialist candidate.

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