June 26, 2008

God, I Hate Stupid People

There was an issue that I meant to address in the John McCain post a week or so ago, something that's been filling me with a crippling rage in the last month, but somehow it slipped my mind. I probably would've forgot about it entirely had I not come across this story in the Financial Times.

The gist of the story is this: Many die-hard Hillary supporters (although the author posits that they represent a minority, albeit a very LOUD one, of Hillary backers) have chosen to ignore her endorsement of Obama and have been establishing anti-Obama websites, drafting pledges to have Hillary push on and have the Florida/Michigan primary votes counted, and even...

Hold on, I have to stave off the rage-induced blackout that I feel coming...

Okay...

And even actually vote for John Fucking McCain come November.

...

Really??? THAT'S your answer?? Maybe my lingering distrust of and aversion to militant feminists -- or just stupid people in general -- is clouding my judgment here, but can someone explain to me the logic in this? As a liberal, Hillary-supporting DEMOCRAT, your response to your horse not winning the primary race is to vote for the REPUBLICAN nominee? The man who you spent the last six months to a year decrying and objecting to (maybe) more than Obama?

Let's have a read of some of the more brilliant quips from said Hillary-ites, shall we?

Voting for Obama is like going to bed with your rapist. Hillary has raised money for these people, campaigned for them and they betrayed her. Now you all want her to be a “nice girl” and hand her political base over to Obama. You must be daft.

It’s a typical sign of Obama’s ‘audacity’ (not to hope, but to vilify your opponents) and ‘new kind of politics.’ Accuse of opponents of racism, simply because they dare not vote for a black guy.
[Ryan: See, this guy's so against Obama, that he writes his name in a STRIKETHROUGH FONT! Take that, Obama! Keep it up and you'll be written in Wingdings in no time, pal.]

The level of misogyny is unspeakable. But the main source of my anger comes from the fact that this was a selection, not an election. Obama was imposed upon the Democratic party by its elite. Even if Hillary is invited to join Obama on the ticket I will still vote for McCain.

Don't you love that last one? Even if Hillary is ON THE FUCKING TICKET, she'll vote for McCain. She loves Hillary sooooooo much, that she's willing to vote AGAINST her.

Listen, ladies (and I know many men are included in this, but the people who have put together the most idiotically unintelligent and baseless websites are staunch feminists). I understand that you're upset. I felt the same way when Al Gore was robbed back in 2000. (You might've felt that way, too. Remember? He's the guy who used to serve as VP under your girl's husband, and maybe you even VOTED for.) I was confused. I mean, he was the favorite to win. It was practically over before the votes were even cast. But such is life, and I learned to move on.

This situation is obviously different, but in a good way. You see, unlike me in 2000, you don't HAVE to settle for something that's inverse to your beliefs and values. You actually have the choice to vote for someone who's only different from Hillary in very slight ways, in the grand scheme of things. You obviously backed a candidate who would defend your core values, defend the rights of women and minorities, do something to change our wayward course in Iraq and make moves to help out the suffering middle class rather than reward the rich, right? Those are the things -- among others -- that you want for America, right? Then please, for the love of GOD please, explain to me how voting for the exact OPPOSITE will end in a good way for you.

Even people on the other side of the political spectrum are confused by this. Here's a comment posted on the website of a group called D.O.N.E. (Democrats Over Nominating Elitists... wow, catchy.), a site dedicated to convincing Democrats to leave the party because Hillary's not the nom:

Republican voting for Obama…Went to the grocery store and I can’t afford $5 for bread…just can’t afford it anymore. What use to take me 45 minutes to got home…now it’s 1 1/2 hour. I had to take public trans..because I can’t afford gas. I need somthing new…sorry Dem. U have a good thing and you don’t know it. I screwed up twice by voting republican and look where it got me.

And how did the site's moderator respond to that post?

If you think Obama is going to lower the price of your gas and bread, if you voted for Bush twice, it makes perfect sense. Some people just never learn. Inexperience, arrogance, and corruption in 2000, 2004, and 2008. That’s smart!

I'm sure a good portion of all this sudden anti-Obama/pro-McCain rhetoric is just lingering bitterness at losing out on the nomination. Or at least I hope so. In time, when Hillary starts to actively campaign for Obama, they'll go back to doing exactly as she tells them to do, and not vote for the person they were so ready to vote against. Because let's face it, when it comes down to it, we're a fairly rational and intelligent country, right?

Right...?

June 25, 2008

Chuck E. Cheese Would've Been Way Better Had It Done This

I just had to post this video, because it might very well be the greatest thing I have ever seen.



Here's the blurb about the video from NY Magazine:
If, by some terrible misfortune, your life has not already been enriched by this awesome video of animatronic ensemble the Rock-afire Explosion performing Usher's "Love in This Club," then please take four minutes and 31 seconds to enjoy it, as we promise you will definitely not regret it. The clip is the work of YouTube genius Chris Thrash, who purchased the programmable band from an out-of-business Showbiz Pizza Place (an eighties Chuck E. Cheese competitor). As if this wasn't already wonderful enough, Thrash is holding weekly contests in which fans can vote to have the characters play their favorite song (previous winners: MGMT's "Electric Feel," and Madonna's "4 Minutes"). We nominate every song in R. Kelly's discography!

Bravo, Mr. Thrash. Bravo...

June 23, 2008

Shouldn't Presidents Actually Be Presidential?

So, I was reading this recent piece in New York Magazine (every day, very informative and entertaining, I recommend it to everybody) about Barack Obama's speech-giving prowess, and how his upcoming speech at the Democratic National Convention is uber-important and so on.

The piece highlights the fact that Obama's a bit of a throwback (way back) to a time when hearing a candidate speak was the only way of getting to know anything about a man, his character, and his policies; a time when people were actually capable of sitting through an entire speech without crumbling into ADD-related convulsions and demanding short, catchy, rhyming phrases.

The whole thing set me to a-thinkin'...

Why is it such a detriment, as a presidential candidate in 21st-century America, to have an expansive vocabulary, be clearly educated and be well-spoken? Why, if you're able to deliver soul-stirring, rousing speeches, is your ability to actually carry out ideas you speak about immediately questioned? Why does it make you more of a "doer" (or is it "Decider"?) if you talk like some down-home, country-bumpkin retard???

But I digress...

What stuck out to me most from the piece -- although it was hardly surprising -- were the facts about the shortening of presidential speeches and addresses:
Since 1913, the length of the average presidential sentence has fallen from 35 words to 22. Between Nixon and the second Bush, the average presidential sound bite shrank from 42 seconds to 7. Today’s State of the Unions inspire roughly 30 seconds of applause for every 60 seconds of speech. Although it’s tempting to blame the sorry state of things on the current malapropist-in-chief, Bush is only the latest flower (though, obviously, a particularly striking one) on a very deep weed. Our most brilliant presidents, Lim says, often work hard to seem publicly dumb in order to avoid the stain of elitism...

Now, we've all read and I've definitely lamented plenty the fact that America's national attention span has shrunk to terrifyingly low levels in recent years. Blame whoever/whatever you want -- TV, video games, the internet, etc. -- it's a plain fact. Even when somebody important says something -- say, the man elected to be the leader of the country -- it has to be boiled down to something short and easy to remember.

This really speaks, of course, to a greater problem in our society: the fact that, on the whole, we've seemingly mentally devolved to the point where learning and reasoning have become secondary endeavors. Why take the time to read through a news piece when I can just read the short talking points provided at the top of the article (thank you, CNN.com) and have all this extra time to watch American Idol???

We're falling hard on the list of global literacy and overall education ranks, and the past-time of reading a book is a rarity to behold nowadays (unless you're on the subway here in NYC, but a lot those of people might just be reading to avoid looking at the shirtless, homeless guy across from them). Rather than just face a future where this kind of thing is reciprocated, over and over again, why don't we take a shot at trying something new? I'm not saying we need to institute a complete cultural and educational renaissance, but let's at least be willing to elect a president who can pronounce the word "nuclear."

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On a quick, and very sad, note: I will very much miss the great, genius comedy work of George Carlin. Not only was he very inspirational to me in terms of his sense of humor and his brazen opposition to authority and conformity, but he was a true master of the English language. I loved that his comedy routines always delved deep into the nuances and misunderstandings of the words and phrases we use everyday. As a college English major, and someone who loves writing and reading as an enrichment of everyday life, it was amazing to see someone analyze seemingly insignificant turns of phrase to such a brilliant degree. The world is a much less funny place without him.


RIP George Carlin (1937-2008)

June 19, 2008

You Probably Deserved It, Hillbilly

Just a quick couple of thoughts as we round into the 2008 Presidential Campaign...

Now that we've settled the epic sparring match that was Hillary vs. Obama, and have emerged (thankfully) with Barack as our nominee for the big race to come, the talk of political coverage has finally shifted to the details of each candidate's policies, matters of substance. One of the major points addressed right out of the gate -- in light of our current, depressing economy -- has been each candidate's economic policy. Fitting.

For the most part, I'm glad that this has happened. What I'd love to see in this campaign, almost more than anything, is an actual debate on policy, rather than bitter spats about pointless, niche-specific ideas that have nothing to do with the welfare of America, like the 2004 campaign devolved into.

Because, more than anything else, what secured the victory for Bush back in '04 was his campaign's ability to make stupid American voters base their vote on things that had nothing to do with the health and prosperity of their own sad little lives. I'm sure we all still remember those vastly important debates about gay marriage, stem cell research, the use of the word "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, and on and on. Remember all the screaming talking heads on the news shows, the picket lines and protests, and the incoherent, fumbling one-liners of everyday Americans embroiled in bitter arguments over what they thought was truly important in the race?

See, what was brilliant about that strategy (Karl Rove may indeed have no soul, I can't be sure, but he's a genius nonetheless) was it's magician-like use of misdirection. Rather than using a lovely assistant to distract the audience from the fact that he wasn't really sawing a woman in half, though, he used Americans' faith, embedded values and what they assumed were issues that actually affected them to distract from issues that had national importance. People put the economy, the welfare of our troops and four years of decline below the idea of gays getting married, or whether or not their gun collection would have to be scaled down from a modest 25 to a Commie-like 10.

That's when we ended up seeing things like this:


That's why I laugh, a little, when people act outraged and incredulous at the fact that our economy has sunk so over the last few years. The dollar is an embarrassment, businesses around the country are slashing jobs left and right, recent college grads are having all kinds of trouble finding jobs (ahem, Ohio), and the cost of fueling a car has turned into a major monthly bill. Did you all really expect anything less? The vast, vast majority of America that was fooled into thinking that they were voting their conscience is now feeling the squeeze, while multi-millionaires are enjoying tax credits. Bet you're still glad you slapped that Bush/Cheney sign on your trailer now, genius.


The worst part of the trickery, though, is the fact that of all of those "hot-button" campaign issues from '04, NONE of them are even remotely on anyone's radar in 2008. When's the last time you switched on CSPAN and caught a raging debate about the merits/evils of gay marriage? How many scathing editorials against the immorality of stem cell research have you read in your local paper? When's the last time you were (expensively) driving around and passed a group of people protesting the inclusion of Creationism in public school education?

Probably haven't encountered much of it as of late. Those issues, from a large, pop-culture standpoint (because let's face it, that's what drives the national collective of thought), have gone the way of any other neo-nostalgic bit of trivia from the first few years of the 21st century. No one cares anymore, not in the larger sense. Poor people who were tricked into voting for someone working against their economic welfare are still poor, and probably on actual welfare. Christian conservatives used for their vote aren't seeing any of their major, faith-related issues be addressed, and have even threatened to boycott the GOP this go-around. It's like a bad hangover for these people. Those hard-to-peel-away stickers only serve as glaring, mocking reminders of one very stupid decision.

So, this time around, maybe people will take a second and consider their state in life, and what their vote will contribute to the next four years of it. Even when it's sooo tempting to get riled up by campaign ads pulling at your sense of decency and your personal taste, you might want to consider the bigger picture.

June 18, 2008

Who Scares Me More, John McCain or Kevin Garnett?

We live in a time when being crazy and famous at the same time isn't considered to be the usual threat to society that run-of-the-mill crazies swirl up; these well-known nut-jobs are simply eccentric, or compellingly unique, or overly passionate. Shenanigans, I say. Crazy's crazy.

I only bring this up because over the past couple of months, I've had the chance to see a lot of two very different, but still scary, nut balls: Boston Celtics power forward/team raving lunatic Kevin Garnett, and Republican presidential nominee/crotchety old man John McCain. On the outside, these two raisin cakes would appear to have very little in common. One's a 7-foot tall black basketball player who might go down as one of the best to play his position; the other is a flip-flopping politician who likes to cuss out his colleagues on the Senate floor. But looking deeper, I think they're both prime examples of how easily our society is capable of elevating obviously unstable people to positions of immense power/popularity.

Let's look at Garnett first.

It's a well-documented fact that KG gets hyped up beyond the point of normal human brain function, something not really rare in the world of sports, I'll admit, albeit in smaller doses. Crazy hand-slap routines in baseball, those weird dance routines/psych-up circles before basketball games, Ray Lewis' little out-of-the-tunnel jig, it's all pretty standard. Even pretty-boy Tom Brady headbutts the shit out of all his teammates before kickoff. But I think Garnett takes it to a whole new level.

KG is legitimately frightening during games, even run-of-the-mill, regular season games. More than any athlete in history, he takes the whole "chest pounding, screaming at the sky after a basket or foul" thing to new, terrifying heights. He claimed to not be able to sleep for days at a time leading up to important games, and gets to the point where he actually loses the ability to perform in crunch-time situations because he's so jacked up. Before really big games, he even likes to pass the time by talking to and headbutting the pad under the backboard. Just like we used to do in CYO ball, remember?

But is this man committed to the proper institution to be treated and studied like he should? No, he's given commercials for Gatorade and Verizon. Come on now. That's not healthy. You might say that he's just a really, really passionate player. But I think it all came out after the Celtics won the NBA title a few nights back, and I found all the proof I need in this really, really creepy post-game interview:



It's not just the incoherence, the section where he just kind of mumbled "ba duh ba ba, fa ga ba" after a question, the list of places he gave a shout-out to that I'm not sure really exist (especially Peanut), or the fact that he said "I'm not finna sleep for a week" AFTER he finally finished his season's (and life-long) goal. It's the fact that he didn't even seem to know where the hell he was. (Slate ran a great piece dissecting every bit of the interview that's worth a read.) He was in that weird, out-of-body state that sometimes sends serial killers to a mental ward instead of jail after their lawyer pleads insanity on their behalf. Is he a great athlete? No doubt. Did he probably celebrate after the game by covering himself in peanut butter and doing a little dance? I'm not going to rule it out. But hell, let's give him a few more commercials...

Now onto old man McCain. Christ, look at that crazy old bastard...

Anyway, it's not just what McCain represents that scares me, and the promise of what he's actually capable of if the unthinkable happens and he's elected the next President of these United States. It's the fact that there seem to be so many people willing to just get behind him, for reasons that no rational person could ever even hope to understand. I'll clarify...

Back at the start 2000, when he was the man who was a mortal lock to be the Republican nominee for President (funny how Bush kept taking the title from people who were more favored than him that year...), McCain was embraced by America as a maverick, an outsider, and true hero. And he was, for the most part. You will never hear me, and you should never hear anyone, doubt that what McCain went through in Vietnam makes him an American hero. He's no GI Joe, maybe, but close enough. When he was eventually slandered and absolutely destroyed by the flawless Bush campaign machine, he was forced to recede into the background to wait for another turn, but people never lost that sense of admiration that was foisted upon them when McCain emerged as the favorite. It's basically what held him up during this year's Republican primary, even though he was considered all but dead in the water just a month or so before he ran away from Mike Huckabee and the rest of the field to grab the nomination. So much so that people who claim to be "new" Republicans -- that is, Republicans embarrassed by Bush and what he's led America into, and ready for a Republican "revolution," of sorts -- don't seem to realize that he's EXACTLY like Bush in all the most terrifying ways.

There are just three main points that every voter should keep in mind coming into this campaign season, three points that should ensure that McCain has no chance of winning:
  1. Iraq. It's hard to narrow it down to just one, but I think we can all reach a consensus that the biggest fuck-up to come out of the Bush era is what happened in Iraq, right? Well, McCain is on record of saying that he's "just fine" with being in Iraq for another 100 years!! One hundred!!! Another McCain lifetime! It boggles the mind, how gung-ho he is with matters regarding the military. McCain's one of those military minds who feels that "civilians" have no business running government, and that the armed forces exist to be actively used, not to defend America. What's scarier is that without offering any plan of relieving troops currently stretched thin in Iraq, he's made no qualms about making war with Iran on top of everything else. (Remember that clever little "Bomb Iran" song he sang at a town hall?)
  2. The Economy. It's as simple as this: At the outset of the damages done by the recession we're in (despite Bush's claim of it being just an "economic slowdown"), McCain has vowed to make the Bush tax cuts PERMANENT. To refresh your memories, those would be the tax cuts that relieve the burden on those multi-millionaires and billionaires who make up the upper echelon of America's upper class. Because that's the problem, right?
  3. His Age is Showing. Now, I'm no ageist, I wouldn't dare dream of suggesting that just because someone has sailed past the age of retirement that they shouldn't be allowed to pursue even something as lofty as being the President of the United States. (I have two grandmothers, for example, with more vitality and lifeblood in them than I could ever hope to have.) But McCain's not your typical active 72-year old man. Already we've seen him lose track of his thoughts, say the obvious wrong words in a given sentence, misquote his own words, and just seem lost to the point where many people (myself included) have wondered if he's at the onset of Alzheimer's. And he's even had the luxury these past three or four months of being OUT of the main spotlight of the nation's and media's attention -- while we were all focused on the Hillary-Obama war. Now, though, that the spotlight has shifted square onto his lumpy head, I'm wondering how well he'll hold up. The rigors of a presidential campaign have claimed the health, sanity and well-being of younger and more sturdy men than him. There are even rumors that he's considering coming out as aiming for only one term, but is that something that anyone should vote for? Don't you want someone committed to the full extent of an allowed two terms, and setting the path for future leaders? Politics, as they say, is a younger man's game; and although the definition of "young" is a bit different in Washington, McCain would be pushing it.
And that's not including all the other things that worry me about him as president. Just don't vote for him, that's all I'm asking. That's all for now, I'm off to check under the bed for either of these two crazy bastards...