30 October 2008

29 October 2008

Soon She May Be Calling Him "Barack the President"


Hendrik Hertzberg on socialism and hypocrisy:
For her part, Sarah Palin, who has lately taken to calling Obama “Barack the Wealth Spreader,” seems to be something of a suspect character herself. She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveller of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government’s activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year’s check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it (“collectively,” no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.

21 October 2008

Satanic Panic in the Day-Glo S&M Chamber

Eat Skittles and puke

To describe Of Montreal's new album, Skeletal Lamping as a Prince-ified version of 2006's acerbic-yet-saccharine Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? is perfectly valid. That record, which ostensibly dealt, in part, with front man Kevin Barnes' divorce, was a minor masterpiece, leavening its heavily psychedelic bent with power pop concision and a handful of emotional truth bombs, including the epic, scarifying "The Past is a Grotesque Animal." It's therefore tempting to view Hissing Fauna as the chrysalis and Skeletal Lamping as the butterfly - a perspective reinforced by the latter's underlying conceit: Kevin Barnes, 34 year-old white male as alter-ego Georgie Fruit, a middle-aged black transsexual, a transformation alleged to have occurred halfway through Hissing Fauna and carried on here, with gusto. I guess you had to read the lyric sheet.

In all seriousness though, evaluating Skeletal Lamping based upon the Georgie Fruit concept is akin to saying that you liked Ziggy Stardust because of the plot. What you hear on the record when you're not sifting through the entrails for astrological data is pure stylistic hyperbole, the kind of stop-on-a-dime shifts in tempo and mood that the Fiery Furnaces, to beat a well-loved dead horse, would kill to be able to pull off. Songs on Skeletal Lamping bend, blend, and coalesce to the point where you have to keep checking iTunes to see what song actually is playing (a treat for all you mix tape makers out there); the effect is a non-danceable dance record, which may seem a contradiction in terms, but enables Barnes & Co. to connect not only with the id (read: ass), but on a higher intellectual plane as well (not a value judgment about dance music, I assure you). Sure, Skeletal Lamping fails to raise the emotional stakes that made its predecessor so unexpectedly harrowing, but no matter. It's a logical step forward for a band sloughing off indie rock conventionality for pop omnivorousness, and only someone gorging on Hater-Ade could begrudge Of Montreal the leap. After all, girls, and evidently middle-aged black transsexuals, just want to have fun.

P.S.: For today only, you can pick up the record fo $3.99 at Amazon mp3.

17 October 2008

I Know It's Only Rock and Roll

All my heroes are weirdos

I like old rock and roll. Not to the exclusion of the more modern variety: I have high hopes for Jay Reatard, Fucked Up, No Age, The Hold Steady, Vampire Weekend, Okkervil River, etc. They're good bands (Jay Reatard might as well be a band), and though it's debatable how forward-looking any of them are, each practice their craft with a fundamental dynamism, a vitality, that renders innovation, well, somewhat beside the point. Nor do I consider it innately superior to alternative genres: hip-hop, pop, electronic music, country, reggae, hell, klezmer - great music has a nagging tendancy to ignore boundaries, and if that's truly the case, than it should go double for us listeners. At least if you're serious about your pleasure.

But oh I do like old rock and roll. My definition is a bit elastic, time-wise; I doubt many other folks would consider the Clash "old" rock and roll, along the lines of, say, Chuck Berry, even though they might find the musical debts of the former to the latter readily apparent. My cut-off isn't punk, or the first Britsh Invasion, or the end of the sixties, or any of that stuff; hell, perhaps there isn't one. After all, are you going to listen to White Blood Cells and tell me that's not good old fashioned rock and roll? Where's the distinction?

Where indeed? Sure, you could argue that the Berry formula has been amended throughout the years, but what we call rock now is pretty damn close, on a geological scale, to what was called rock and roll way back when. There have been departures - the Beatles injected music hall, Dylan literariness, the Stones menace, the Velvet Underground perversity, the Doors pretension. There has been apostasy, as professionals seeking middle-brow respectability begged, borrowed, and stole jazz and classical music tropes in a bid to move from the garage to the den. There has been Reformation: the Stooges and New York Dolls were martyred, the Ramones nailed the 95 theses to the church door, and the Sex Pistols made sure the breach was irreparable. Even to this very day you have real bona fide rock and rollers making bona fide essential rock and roll music. They're standing on the shoulders of giants, sure, but the only time anybody really cares about that, at least anybody who's not being a spoilsport, is when the tunes are in absentia. Yeah, yeah, the new Oasis sounds like the old Beatles, but next to nobody gave a shit about that when the old Beatles were "Don't Look Back in Anger" and "Wonderwall". Bringing it back to Jack White, I could list you a hundred acts that his band "sounds like", but I can't name you a single other band that's put out "Fell In Love With a Girl".

Today, I bought, used, Robert Quine's official Velvet Underground bootlegs. The tapes, recorded on a portable equipped with a hand-held mic, sound like shit. This is a bootleg in the way that Bob Dylan's official bootlegs aren't really bootlegs. Still, through the hiss, echo, and distortion come the Velvets circa 1969, no two songs the same, excepting three epic renditions of "Sister Ray", clocking in at 24:03, 38:00, and 28:39 respectively. (Rock and roll is here to stay: I have it on good authority that My Bloody Valentine's concert-closing version of "You Made Me Realize" has been known to go upwards of 45 minutes.) Lou Reed et al are weird; that is, after all, their primary contribution to the canon. But they are weird in a distinctly rock and roll way, and given how they rip off "I'm Waiting for the Man", "I Can't Stand It", and a scorching ten minute "White Light/White Heat" here, it's hard not to imagine the dozen or so folks in the club boogieing until the pills fell out of their pockets. Fuck, even "Venus In Furs" fulfills the basic requirements. "Heroin", too. This isn't surprising. The Velvet Underground weren't there to tear rock and roll down. They were coming to the party, too, even if they weren't invited. They wanted in. Even if they had to sneak in through the back door. Or by the window. Or tunnel in through the basement. They rocked. Perhaps more importantly, they rolled.

14 October 2008

(I'm) Stranded

Back when the platters that mattered were platters

Stranded is a rather famous book among a very small subgroup of humanity. Mostly written in 1978, published in '79, and edited/curated by rock/cultural critic Greil Marcus, Stranded purported to ask 20 rock critics to name their so-called "desert island disc", i.e. what was the one album they would have to have if forbidden all others. Some, like M. Mark, chafed at the conceit of the question: he protested that he would not choose any single one of his beloved Van Morrison records, before grudgingly giving in and selecting the live double LP It's Too Late to Stop Now on the basis of sheer volume. Nick Tosches, whose scabrous essay opens the collection like a howitzer battery discharging in a rest home, treated the assignment as an excuse for a autobiographical exegesis intermittently featuring the Rolling Stones: "Next to me in the emergency ward was a boy who held a Maxwell House coffee can to his neck, to catch the blood that dribbled from a cut in his throat. In his lap was a cassette recorder playing the new Stones album, Exile on Main Street." (Tosches ended up settling on Sticky Fingers.) Jim Miller's choice, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica, seemed to be an excuse to circumvent the album-centric nature of the project in favor of the good ol' fashion 45 rpm vinyl single, as well as an opportunity to rebut the myth that Ronnie Spector sprang fully-formed from the skull of Phil Spector. Dave Marsh creates a mix tape for masturbation, which, after all, "is the secret reality of rock sexuality - what all rock listeners have in common - which is probably why so many of us have Catholicism and Judaism in our backgrounds." Most, after the obligatory sarcastic preamble (best, by Paul Nelson: "Doing a piece with a desert island premise is like writing a suicide note and then sticking around to cry over it."), just answer the damn question.

The book arrived right at the punk/rock schism (the only schism, as Robert Christgau put it in his re-introduction to the 1996 edition, that was gonna be acknowledged by a bunch of entirely white, overwhelmingly male rock critics in '78) and, with the exception of a handful of pieces, reflects the pre-punk consensus. Marcus' original preface notes the conspicuous absence of any records by the Beatles, Elvis, Chuck Berry, or Bob Dylan, artists whose presence would be notable, perhaps even hailed as somewhat courageous, in today's obscurity-fetishizing climate. Venerable '70s dinosaurs like Jackson Browne, the Eagles, and Linda Ronstadt all merit inclusion, an outcome that would have been difficult to fathom had this book been compiled a mere year or two later. The Stones, still a going proposition in 1978, having just released the brilliantly profane Some Girls, scored 1968's Beggars Banquet and the aforementioned Sticky Fingers.

Still, a nascent critical shift is discernible. Tom Carson, the youngest contributor by "a good five years", according to Christgau, picked the Ramones' then-fresh, still-classic Rocket to Russia; the Dean himself chose an English import bundling the New York Dolls' two Mercury LPs, New York Dolls and In Too Much Too Soon; Langdon Winner elected that oldie-but-goodie, Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica (still don't get it myself); and Ellen Willis picked a Velvet Underground comp. At just under of the quarter of the pieces present, a reader in '78 could be forgiven for dismissing these contributions as outliers from the steadily-plotted Rolling Stones-Van Morrison-Neil Young-Bruce Springsteen axis running through the book. A reader in 1980 might have been convinced that Carson, Christgau & Co. were especially prescient; a reader today might say they seem downright visionary - after all, who really was more Rock and Roll Future: Bruce Springsteen or Joey Ramone?

Regardless of your predilections taste-wise, much of Stranded's enduring genius lay in that good rock writing is good rock writing, regardless of what one thinks of the underlying subject matter. Grace Lichtenstein's deeply personal take on the Eagles' Desparado urges you to reevaluate a band that has long since passed into FM ubiquity. Simon Firth astutely diagnoses what's politically troubling about the Rolling Stones, which is that they've got no politics beyond "a contempt for the masses that they share with any respectable small shopkeeper." Tom Carson deftly describes the cynical, arty pretensions of seventies' corporate rock as "icing with the cake shot out from underneath it." So, yes, you can laugh at the notion of being trapped on a desert island for all eternity with Linda Ronstadt, but the type of emotional reaction that would occasion a thirty page disquisition on Living in the U.S.A., such as John Rockwell provides herein, is not so easily mocked. If anything, the latter-day unfashionableness and triviality of some of the records and artists represented in Stranded serves as a reminder of the ultimately ephemeral nature of critical taste. If the book came out in 1980, somebody probably would have listed The Clash's debut LP; if it came out in 2008, somebody might well have picked Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, which in '78 would have required you to flee to a desert island to escape it. If "[o]ne of the chief delights of rock 'n roll is that it's trash music," as Tom Carson has it, well, one man's trash is another man's treasure, after all. Every dog has its day, etc.

10 October 2008

"'Twas The Poor Who Killed the Economy!"

Neil Cavuto: "Loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster."

Daniel Gross has a great piece over at Slate detailing and rebutting the right's unsubtle attempt to lay the present crisis at the feet of the Democrats by way of pinning the whole thing on Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as the Community Reinvestment Act, a piece of a Carter-era legislation requiring depository banks to make greater efforts to lend to minority and low-income Americans. Many of his points are simple common sense: most of the prominent players in the mortgage crisis weren't regulated under the CRA, and certainly nothing in that legislation required them "to offer loans for no money down, or to throw underwriting standards out the window, or to encourage mortgage brokers to aggressively seek out new markets." Mortgage lenders lent money recklessly because they thought they could make more money doing so. That so-called "free marketeers" would imply, as Fox Business News' Neil Cavuto did, that "[l]oaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster," is not only a borderline racist smear, it's manifestly untrue. The CRA has been in effect largely without incident for over thirty years - it's only in our era of extreme deregulation, when financial institutions have been free to operate unfettered by meaningful oversight, that all of the sudden, mortgages have found their way en masse into the hands of unqualified borrowers on one end, and mystery-meat complex derivatives on the other.

The best part of Gross's piece, though, is his righteously indignant counterpunch:
On the other hand, lending money recklessly to obscenely rich white guys, such as Richard Fuld of Lehman Bros. or Jimmy Cayne of Bear Stearns, can be really risky. In fact, it's even more risky, since they have a lot more borrowing capacity. And here, again, it's difficult to imagine how Jimmy Carter could be responsible for the supremely poor decision-making seen in the financial system. I await the Krauthammer column in which he points out the specific provision of the Community Reinvestment Act that forced Bear Stearns to run with an absurd leverage ratio of 33 to 1, which instructed Bear Stearns hedge-fund managers to blow up hundreds of millions of their clients' money, and that required its septuagenarian CEO to play bridge while his company ran into trouble. Perhaps Neil Cavuto knows which CRA clause required Lehman Bros. to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars in short-term debt in the capital markets and then buy tens of billions of dollars of commercial real estate at the top of the market. I can't find it. Did AIG plunge into the credit-default-swaps business with abandon because Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now members picketed its offices? Please. How about the hundreds of billions of dollars of leveraged loans—loans banks committed to private-equity firms that wanted to conduct leveraged buyouts of retailers, restaurant companies, and industrial firms? Many of those are going bad now, too. Is that Bill Clinton's fault?
The "old capitalist" maxim was that "he who reaps the profits shall bear the losses." Considering that our federal government no longer believes in that principle, at least when it's multi-billion dollar corporations doing the losing, perhaps, at least, we can change it to "he who reaps the profits shall bear the responsibility." But as long as Wall Street and its fellow travelers on the right insist on palming off the blame on the poor while pocketing six-figure bonuses and strapping on platinum parachutes, you can be sure that that ain't gonna happen.

08 October 2008

"My Fellow Prisoners"


Swallowing bile
  • Has anyone ever sounded unfriendlier than John McCain when saying the words "my friends"? It's like how when a guy on the street calls you "buddy" or "pal", he really means "hey, shithead!"
  • Evidently the McCain campaign has been sequestering the media from the crowd at its campaign events. It's unclear whether this step is being taken to prevent the media from catching McCain's supporters using racial epithets on the record or otherwise venting hysterically, or for the reporters' own protection - according to the Washington Post, after Sarah Palin made reference to her now-infamous Katie Couric interview in Tampa, "supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, 'Sit down, boy.'"
  • McCain, who stuck to a mantra of "cut spending, cut spending" when asked initially how the economic crisis would affect his White House plans, yesterday unveiled mid-debate a hugely ambitious $300 billion plan for the government to buy bad mortgages, essentially refinancing them in an effort to keep people in their homes (and taking them off bank balance sheets). Not a bad idea, perhaps, although it's hard to see how it squares with any other aspect of McCain's proposed fiscal policies, which to this point have pretty much centered around making Bush's tax breaks for billionaires permanent. Also, for what it's worth, Obama claims to have thought of it first.
  • Also in last night's debate, McCain launched attack after attack on...George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the presidential ticket he endorsed heartily in 2004. Really, I know we're not supposed to play the "blame game" here, but between swallowing/authoring the lies that landed us in Iraq in the first place, backing Bush and Cheney, and picking Sarah "What does a vice president do?" Palin to be the dauphine...where exactly is this record of "sound judgment" McCain and his cronies keep referring to? Is it enough to say that you have good judgment ad infinitum if your most high profile decisions continually belie that notion?
  • We're reminded again and again what an expedient, effective tactic blaming the media is, but whatever happened to the age-old maxim about not picking fights with people who buy ink by the barrel? McCain once enjoyed such a solid relationship with the press that he routinely referred to the cadre of reporters covering him as "my base"; now they're his most implacable enemy. There's been a lot of speculation that the media figures who have the longest-standing relationships with McCain are disgusted with his apparent abandonment of his personal principles, as well as the manifestly dishonest character of his smear campaign against Obama. More to the point, though, I think that there is a direct causal link between McCain and Palin's decision to open an Eastern front against the media, and the media's decision to treat the McCain campaign's every action with an intense skepticism. After all, I guess there's only so many times that virtually every pillar of the mainstream media establishment can stand being blamed for Sarah Palin's inability to evince basic competence in the standard TV interview format.

07 October 2008

Banner Day

Locked in tight, out of range

Today I managed to "acquire" three of the best "rock" records of 2008 I have yet heard: Department of Eagles' BNMed In Ear Park, Jay Reatard's Matador Singles '08, and the eighth entry in Bob Dylan's seemingly-inexhaustible Bootleg Series, Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006.

Pitchfork likened the Dept. of Eagles record to Sgt. Pepper - sonically, not qualitatively - but the Beatles I think I'd pick would be the minor-key cuts on The White Album ("Martha My Dear", "I'm So Tired") and side 2 of Abbey Road. Throw in the opening credits to Deadwood and last year's super-bizarro, oddly compelling Rise Above, The Dirty Projector's track-by-track reconstruction/reimagining of Black Flag's Damaged, and I think you start to get the picture. DoE is tied to Grizzly Bear through common member Daniel Rossen, and both bands share a common attic-core aesthetic (see also: Beach House), but where the latter's lauded 2006 effort, Yellow House, was maddeningly unfocused at points, In Ear Park is more committed to pop's notions of structure. Whether or not this constitutes an improvement depends on whether you prefer your medicine with a spoonful of sugar, or straight up.

* * *

Jay Reatard's functionally-titled Matador Singles '08 is technically a compilation, collecting the limited-run vinyl-only singles the Tennessee punk savant has periodically dropped throughout the year since joining the top-tier NY indie label. Of course, this is a little chicken-and-egg: the comp was in the works from the start, so far from serving as a historical document, it listens more like the cogent, pre-conceived full-length it probably is. The Reatard who appears here is more restrained than the white squall terror leaping from the speakers on Blood Visions; indeed, though I recognized a few of the tracks from Reatard's, uh, frenetic performance at this year's Pitchfork Festival, the incarnations on record are closer to the late Exploding Hearts than Black Lips. The production is cleaner, providing more separation between the instruments and foregrounding Reatard's signature helium-imp squeal. The result is a set of effervescent songs with hooks that actually catch, like the jaunty "An Ugly Death", the New Pornography of "Always Wanting More", and Westerbergian elegy "No Time". Reatard is still mining a if-you-don't-like-this-one-well-here's-another vein, but the possibility that you won't like this one is virtually nonexistent.

* * *

Bob Dylan's voice, once an instrument of revolution in and of itself, has been worn to a nubby croak by some combination of age, use, and American Spirits. No longer able to credibly play the accusatory oracle - that's a young man's game, anyhow - he is now America's foremost carnival barker, applying his gifts to the song forms that initially inspired him: blues and country-western. His last two LPs, 2001's masterful Love and Theft and 2006's somewhat-less-so Modern Times, seem like outright rejections, not only of modernity, but Dylan's own past pretense. This is not to say that he is a bitter artist: he has simply exercised his option and abandoned the Delphic mantle. At the time of 1969's puzzling Nashville Skyline, Dylan (who was not yet quite through being "Dylan") professed his desire to be a "song and dance man"; of late he has finally achieved that goal. The result is that Dylan has not retreated into his past but a past that he never inhabited, a past that he damn well may have invented for himself.

It is this period of retooling that Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 covers, and it is a testament to its subject's creative fecundity that its rich content belies the title's curatorial promise. Chockablock with alternate takes that seem less like left-overs and more like roads-not-taken (a Dylan trademark; see the Bootleg Series Vol. 2 version of "Idiot Wind"), stray soundtrack cuts (see the mournfully majestic "'Cross the Green Mountain", exiled to the Gods and Generals - ?! - OST), and live versions, Tell Tale Signs is a hodgepodge organized around the idea of Dylan as both irresistible force and immovable object. In turns he is wizened, mercurial, raunchy, valedictory, equally comfortable wearing the masks of comedy or tragedy. While it would be a mistake to peg Dylan as consistent - the liner notes to this set reference Dylan's own roundabout dismissal of his '80s output from the memoir Chronicles - the "trash" presented on Tell Tale Signs would be treasure to any of his remaining contemporaries, most of whom have been circling the drain of cultural irrelevance since the '60s and '70s. Indeed, it may well be treasure to the man himself; after all, this is the guy who evidently withheld the jaw-dropping "Blind Willie McTell" off 1983's Infidels on a whim, releasing it nearly a decade later on Bootleg Series Vol. 3. (The liners, by longtime Dylan scribe Larry "Ratso" Sloman, recount the author's profane outburst upon listening to the final, sequenced Infidels with Dylan and discovering that the song had been omitted; the singer's response: "Aw, Ratso, don't get so excited. It's just an album. I've made thirty of them.")

Eventually, perhaps, Dylan will dip too deep into the vault, and we'll hear the dregs. Yet, if Tell Tale Signs' title is to be believed - and its contents suggest as much - such an outcome is far from inevitable. This record is an achievement in its own right, a portrait of the artist as an old man traveling farther down a road that no one's quite gotten around to paving just yet. Probably just as well if no one ever does.

04 October 2008

Saturday: A TV WasteWonderland

Convalescing here, watching some dinosaur fight porn on History Channel about Tyrannosaurs that has me thinking about a few things:
  1. Those tiny arms are a pretty interesting argument again evolution, right? I mean, what would be the point of making a giant bad ass killing machine and giving it those ridiculous tooth pick thingys? It's like a Thalidomide baby the size of a VW bus.
  2. How do they know that Tyrannosaurs were about a smart as house cats? What's the basis for that claim? How smart are house cats, anyway? Maybe we've just been testing stupid house cats. There are stupid people, after all.
  3. Also, "It's name was Tyrannosaurus Rex" is a patently false statement. We named it Tyrannosaurus Rex long after the last one crapped out; for all we know, back in the day it went by Fred or Big Tooth Scary Thing. As in:
Triceratops: "Holy shit, it's Fred! Run motherfuckers!"

03 October 2008

Expert Debate Analysis

Gehrig and Ruth, Ortiz and Ramirez, Obama and Biden?

A pair of baseball analogies, if you will:

Let's say it's game six of the World Series, your team leading 3 games to 2. You're at bat leading 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and your closer's up in the bullpen . He's a good closer - a Brad Lidge-type, say, but not a Mariano Rivera. You can win with things the way they are, but you'd like some insurance runs to ease the pressure. Obama's standing at third with one out, and Biden's to bat. All he needs to do is loft a sacrifice fly to drive in the insurance run. Instead, he ropes a double, not only picking up Obama, but putting himself in scoring position as well. All with only one out. The big inning is still alive.

Now let's say that the visiting team is up to bat in the top of the ninth, with the home team's closer on the mound, throwing smoke. The visitors are down 5-1, with one out and McCain on first. Palin, who hit the game-winning homer in Game 2 but is 2-for-15 in the series overall, steps to the plate. She gets down 0-2 early, fouls off a couple of pitches to stay alive, takes a ball, and then lines out sharply to the shortstop. Hey, whatever, after she fell behind two strikes, you were sure that she was going to go down swinging. Anyway, it's still two outs, McCain's still at first down 5-1, a hairsbreadth away from elimination.

02 October 2008

Emotional Fascism b/w Tonight's the Night

Ready, steady, go

While I know that a good number of my political co-religionists are salivating at the prospect of VP whack-a-mole that they expect will unfold mere hours from now in St. Louis, I admit to apprehension: it's a little like "Parker Lewis Can't Lose", right? Expectations for Palin have declined to the point where, instead of clearing hurdles, it's more like trying to avoid slipping on a banana peel. As long as she's upright at the end of the evening, she can declare victory. And if she actually displays any sort of competence, it could go a long way to restoring the gloss that has been wiped away by weeks of "holy shit is she not ready for the presidency" revelations. Obama/Biden is almost better off not debating her, though Team McCain already tried to pull off that trick last week, and look where it got them. Of course, shit is crazy awful for the GOP right now, with the hypercapitalist juggernaut they stoked for the last eight years on the verge of total collapse and Obama pulling away in the polls (Today McCain declared defeat in Michigan, once viewed as a top target owing to its large number of potentially Obama-averse blue collar voters). It's possible, as it seemed after last week's debate, wherein Obama won on the merits and McCain on style, that reality is actually dictating the course of the election and, as events are decidedly pro-Obama, no matter what Palin does people will view it as a loss for her. Having to parrot, or in her case, speak with deep seated conviction about, the Republican line won't help matters; hard to look competent even if you're spouting that nonsense verbatim off of a teleprompter.

Yeah, I'm probably just being pessimistic.


Here and here. And I guess here, too

[. . .]

(I suppose it would be churlish to point out that the final track is supposed to be the-far-less-oblique-in-context "Theme From Shaft.")

01 October 2008

Identity Politics, Etc.

"Thanks, Mike." "Don't mention it, Barack."

As of today, I will be able to tell my hypothetical children that I cast a ballot for the first black President of the United States. Or that I voted for the first black presidential candidate to lose a general election. Or that I voted for the first vice president from Delaware. Or that I voted against the first female vice president. Or that I voted for...