Thursday, October 30, 2008
My hometown in the news: How interesting that one Orem, Utah, millionaire has funneled $1 million into the California anti-gay marriage ballot initiative Proposition 8, while another Orem, Utah, millionaire has contributed $1 million to efforts to protect gay marriage in California. Especially interesting: Alan Ashton, the "Yes on 8" patron, and Bruce Bastian, the "No on 8" patron, were co-founders of WordPerfect Corporation, where I worked several years in customer support.
Oh, I can't help myself: With Republicans lathered up over Barack Obama's very sporadic proximity to Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi, isn't it about time that someone pointed out what Ayers and Khalidi have in common — and the shocking connection that John McCain has as well? Let's see if we can't replicate the kind of silly guilt-by-association linkage that excites the right. Here goes:
Beacon Press has published controversial books by both Ayers and Khalidi. The press, which got into a rather famous fight with Richard Nixon, is owned by the Unitarian Universalist Association, which is an unrepentantly liberal religion. (Its ministers, for example, overwhelmingly cast their ballots to the left of the Republican party.) And Khalidi was the keynote speaker at the Association's annual General Assembly in 2007.
But here's where it gets fun: Who else has cavorted with this far-left, outrageous denomination that has published books by people the McCain campaign deems "terrorists" and "anti-Semites"? Whose best man was a member of that very same nefarious religion? Why, none other than John McCain. How disappointing.
McCain addressed the UUA General Assembly in Phoenix in 1997, the last national officeholder I recall hearing speak at a GA. (John Kerry, notably, did not address the 2003 General Assembly, even though it was in Boston, the UUA's headquarters.) The best man at McCain's 1980 wedding to Cindy Hensley was Senator William S. Cohen, the Unitarian Universalist from Maine who later served as secretary of defense for Bill Clinton. I am shocked, SHOCKED, that McCain's unconscionable fraternization with these known liberals and sympathizers with people like Ayers and Khalidi did not come up during the GOP primaries. Does the man have no shame?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Update: Here's how to register to vote in Massachusetts.
Because we moved from Cambridge to Somerville in September, Mrs Philocrites and I have had to re-register to vote at our new address. I filled out a voter registration form while waiting for a bus in Davis Square one evening in mid-September, and brought another form home for my wife to fill out. She walked hers over to City Hall a week or so later, but I gave mine back to the guy who was registering voters in Davis Square. Here's the catch: My wife has received confirmation of her registration, but I have not. So tomorrow — the last day to register to vote in this November's election — I'll be one of the last-minute Somervilleans at City Hall filling out my form. Again.
When I called about this earlier today, City Hall told me that it isn't unusual for independent voter registration drives to turn in all their forms at the last minute. While I'm still peeved at the thought that I'll be submitting duplicate registrations, I'd be livid if the form I filled out was never submitted at all.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Meghan O'Rourke offered one of the more insightful observations I've seen about Gov Sarah Palin's self-presentation:
Sarah Palin reminds me of a character in a George Saunders story. Saunders writes brilliant short stories about characters trapped in the American DreamTM. They are workers at theme parks or Hooters-style restaurants, mummified in corporate-sponsored "flair" (to borrow from the brilliant film Office Space). They speak in the same style of substanceless perk. They are to humanity what MSG is to flavor. (At least, some are.) Palin is, of course, far more successful than many of Saunders' characters, and I don't make the comparison merely to caricature her but to capture what I think is crucial about her. She buys into a whole vocabulary of signifiers that often don't signify very much, and she scaffolds that lexicon with winks, smiles, and carefully mimed gestural reinforcement. All politicians employ empty rhetoric, of course. But I don't know that I've ever seen one employ superficial language with such a sense of palpable enjoyment at her (or his, of course) mastery. And just like Saunders' characters, she refuses to show vulnerability or hesitation, deploying rapid-fire prepackaged phrases like a missile shield, as if the silence that comes with groping for ideas were deadly. . . .
A lot of the original media coverage of Palin was confused by things about her that derive, it seems to me, from the fact that she's a woman in the West. . . . But what's *not* Western about Palin is how avidly she's borrowed and inhabited the language of cute-can-do-ism that's exploited by companies to lull workers into taking pleasure in how much of their time is given over to "breakout sessions" and the business of being an employee.
Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias calls Palin "the metacandidate," expanding on an observation made by Jim Henley to argue that "ordinary people prefer a candidate who talks about the problems facing ordinary people rather than a candidate who talks about how she's a symbolic instantiation of the Idea of Ordinariness." After all, who in America really thinks of themselves as "Joe Sixpack"?
Of course, you might also enjoy "Saturday Night Live"'s take on the vice presidential debate: