Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Blog

Last night, I tried to watch Hollywoodland with my roommate Sig, but I kept falling asleep. Definitely among the more boring films I can recall. Not one but two completely pointless, somnambulent narratives inscrutably manacled together, directed anonymously in the style of a made-for-TV melodrama. I didn't get to see who killed George Reeves (in the film's decidedly non-definitive version), and I don't care.

But that means I can't, in good conscience, actually write a full review of the film. Who knows? Maybe the last three scenes are so dynamite, it makes up for the previous 120 minutes of lifeless tedium. (Though nothing could redeem Bob Hoskins' woeful stab at an Eastern European/East Coast Jew/Who The Fuck Knows? accent. It's like hearing Harold Shand auditioning for the role of Tevye in a summer stock production of "Fiddler." Every time he opened his mouth, I half-expected to hear him belt the chorus to "If I Were a Rich Man.")

So, rather than rip that stupid film no one saw a new one, let's talk Election '08, shall we? I was researching it at work the other day (as part of the SMPWCNBN), so the upcoming Presidential race has been on my mind. Which is dumb, because it's so far away, but that's how the hype machine works. Just like event movies, they've got to start catapulting the propaganda at you months in advance, to make sure it sticks in your brain firmly. Imagine mailing a bulky, cumbersome package across the country. You'd wrap it up really tight with packing tape, and give the Post Office at least a week (or more) to get it to its final destination. Only, in this example, the package is bullshit that politicians want you to believe, and the final destination is your dumbass brain.

The first thing I want to talk about is the ludicrocity of Joe Biden actually running for President. Almost no one even knows who he is. He's a Senator from Delaware, for Chrissakes, the state most likely to be forgotten when someone is trying to name all 50. And the people who have heard of him think he's an unelectable weenie. Judging from his tendency to blather ignorantly in front of cameras, I think he's better suited to working in White Castle, as opposed to the White House.

Here he is, on C-SPAN, telling an American of Indian descent that you're not allowed to enter a Dunkin' Donuts in his state without "a slight Indian accent."

Now, a lot of people are calling this comment racist, but my biggest complaint with Biden's remarks here are that they make no sense. I guess he means that you're not allowed to work at a 7-11 or Dunkin' Donuts without a slight Indian accent. That would be racist. But that's not what he says. He says you're not allowed to enter those establishments without a slight Indian accent. Which is just stupid. Of course Delawarians Delawareans The Delawarines people from Delaware can go into a 7-11 if they don't have an Indian accent. I think one illiterate President unable to speak more than 3 words without contradicting himself and/or not making any sense is enough for right now, thanks all the same, Joe.

Of course, this is in addition to Joseph's recent remarks about Barack Obama, which pretty much everyone on the Net has already covered.

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Clean? Wow. I that is some quality racism. Is an American Senator implying that it's rare or special to find a black man who is clean? That is some Joseph Conrad-White Man's Burden-19th Century style racism there, man. That's the kind of shit you expect to hear out of your Great-Grandfather, not some guy who's in charge of, you know, running the country.
Let's move on.

Sadly No! links to this Townhall column by Matt Lewis, discussing a recent speech to the Heritage Conservative Members Retreat in Baltimore by Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt "Catcher" Romney.

He’s a good speaker, in the sense that he checks off all the boxes you would expect a good speaker to have. But he never touched me, or anyone I talked to, on an emotional level. There were no moments when eyes swelled with tears, or hearts beat with patriotism. Maybe that’s too much to ask?

Brad goes on to make the exactly correct point...You don't really want to vote for people based on how they make you feel. You shouldn't really even be going to political events hoping to have your eyes swell with tears. That's what movies and root canals are for. Rather than all this emphasis on which Presidential candidate would be fun to join for a beer, wouldn't it make some measure of sense to consider a candidate's ideas or qualifications?

At work the other day, the subject of Al Gore came up, and though everyone I work with is, I think, very sane and reasonable is his or her political outlook, there was still a clear amount of animosity towards the guy on a personal level. In fact, just the other day, someone who appeared quite trustworthy assured me, to my face, that most of the scientific information contained in Gore's Inconvenient Truth film is inaccurate. Now, I have no way to evaluate these claims short of devoting myself, full-time, to studying climate change. Regardless, I'm continually amazed at the amount of disdain towards a guy who, despite some admitted personality quirks and even character flaws, has devoted a good portion of his life to public service in what at least appears to be a spirit of altruism.

I mean, yes...He's kind of a dull speaker. He has gotten better since leaving the White House, but I'm not going to counter-argue this assertion. Like a lot of boring public speakers, he may very well be likable and charming in more intimate settings. But when he gets behind a podium and starts crunching figures, it gets drab. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Lots of extremely smart, capable people kind of suck at expressing themselves all the time.

Now, I'm not saying we should elect clueless, mumbling fools like the basket case currently occupying the office. A President should be able to conduct himself or herself in a professional manner at all times. But come on! We need someone who's going to make us laugh and cry? To stir our emotions and incite our patriotism? Are we electing a fucking world leader or a matinee idol here?

I just can't imagine being that much of a fucking child. I mean, if you owned a company and were looking to hire someone to run it for you, would you want to person who seemed the most capable and steady, or the one that was really exciting to be around?

Speaking of Mitt, here's the man himself debating Teddy Kennedy back in October, 1994. Note that, unlike today, his take on the abortion issue makes perfect sense, taking the obvious position that his personal religious beliefs should not impact the rights of pregnant women throughout his home state of Massachusettes.

What changed? Did Mitt actually move strongly to the right on this issue? Or did he decide that he couldn't get elected President as a Republican with a pro-gay, pro-choice platform?

To me, this feels like a campaign killer. His own party won't like hearing these views coming out of his mouth, even if it was over a decade ago. And his hard-line conservative-theocratic speeches aren't exactly fulled with reach-across-the-aisle, win-over-swing-voters kind of rhetoric. More like "I condemn thee to Hell" kind of rhetoric.

[EDITORS NOTE: I am about to employ the single most literate transition in Crushed by Inertia history.]

Seriously, it's hard to believe the change that 13 years has brought about in this guy's position. Modern Mitt's anti-gay marriage speeches have a decidedly firebrand, moralizing kind of aftertaste that I find particularly displeasing. It's like William Jennings Bryan adapting "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" into a one-man show, telecast worldwide on all the Fox affiliates and the "700 Club" or something.

And speaking of guys named Jon Edwards [booya!], he has tried to temper his remarks about Iran the other day in an interview with Ezra Klein on American Prospect Online. You'll recall the other day, I posted about Edwards' position that the President should keep all his options open when dealing with Iran. Considering that we're still stuck with President Quick Draw McGraw over here, that sounds like downright suicidal thinking to my mind.

But it turns out, the guy's thinking is a bit more nuanced than it sounds.

So, I just want to get it very clear, you think that attacking Iran would be a bad idea?

I think would have very bad consequences.

So when you said that all options are on the table?

It would be foolish for any American president to ever take any option off the table.

Can we live with a nuclear Iran?

I’m not ready to cross that bridge yet. I think that we have lots of opportunities that we’ve … We’re not negotiating with them directly, what I just proposed has not been done. We’re not being smart about how we engage with them. But I’m not ready to cross that bridge yet.

That's a little better, I guess. The way the guy speaks just kind of strikes me as inherently phony. And not in a Bill Clinton "isn't it funny that I'm such a fucking liar?" kind of way. More in a preening car salesman phony kind of way. He's straining to sound like a statesman. I've got to say, though, most of what he says (most!) makes sense to me. At least, he makes a bit more sense than all these other jabbering bullshit machines. Out of the present crop of greedy wretches, he's probably the least loathsome. (Rudy Giuliani actually makes me spit up a little in my mouth every time I see him.)

[UPDATE: I posted this a few hours ago, and then realized I had forgotten to include the article that had inspired me to write about Election '08 tonight in the first place. Most likely, I was so pleased with myself for that "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"-Jon Edwards joke that I lost my focus.

Anyway, I had wanted to commend Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler today for this remarkable catch in The New York Times. A reporter named Rachel Swarms asks a local barber about Barack Obama.

SWARNS (2/2/07): ''When you think of a president, you think of an American,'' said Mr. Lanier, a 58-year-old barber who is still considering whether to support Mr. Obama. ''We've been taught that a president should come from right here, born, raised, bred, fed in America. To go outside and bring somebody in from another nationality, now that doesn't feel right to some people.''

Somerby points out that none of this information is true. Obama, of course, spent some time overseas as a child, but could not be running for President unless he had been born here. And to imply that he's not American is just ridiculous. I mean, he's currently serving in our Senate, right? That's pretty goddamn American.

Somerby goes on to make a very important point. This kind of disinformation is what gives birth to firmly-entrenched, inaccurate memes that just hang around in the popular discourse for decades, spreading ignorance around like a virus. Every single goddamn time Al Gore is mentioned in any public setting, someone will bring up that whole "inventing the Internet" thing, which Gore never even said! Argh!

And now, clearly, people are hoping this tidbit about Obama's background sticks. "You know, he's not even from America! I mean, look at his name. Barrack Osama. It's all furin and weird!"

I'm not actually a huge Obama fan, but it's obnoxious to see journalists so eager to derail his campaign that they're spreading bald-faced lies about him in the Paper of Record.]

1 comment:

steve c. said...

"Well, you've got this storybook, man...this white guy named Lons who is ugly and stupid and he's got this totally bullshit blog, man."

Biden on you (CNN)