Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Old Enough to Know Better

What's expected of a woman is different from what's expected of a man. Usually what's expected of a woman is much more. That is unfair. This country has been unfair to Hillary Clinton for a long time.

She chose to be a public figure, and surely didn't shy away from the spotlight. She expanded the role of First Lady from its historic duties, and she never fit the old fashioned view of a woman's place in the world. Amazingly, she was actually on the vanguard merely by having a career of her own. She was accused of being abrasive in a way that wasn't feminine, and perhaps she was, as her personal defects later led to huge embarassment, as in the Health Care debacle.

Later, when her loyalty to her own personal ambition and to the alliance of her marriage caused her to defend Bill's abhorent behavior, she become a brief pariah of the feminist movement, Tammy Wynette's Stand By Your Man writ large. What is expected of a woman during adultery is so schizo, especially a public figure, as to also be enormously unfair. Yet there is a flip side to all of this:

What would be expected of Hillary Clinton if she were a man? Would she still be in the race? Would her mischaracterizations, half-truths and damn dirty lies be tolerated even half as much as they are?

The truth of it is, as much as I have felt bad for Hillary Clinton in the past 15 years, she is not a good person. She has repeatedly dissembled, switched, or voted against her conscience (to the extent she has one), in the interest of her further success. Many Democrats cowardly supported the Iraq invasion, but few fought for it as strongly as Clinton, even going so far as to debate anti-war groups outside her Senate office. The Clintons have long had a hang up with using belligerence to distract from scandals or their own shortcomings, as far back as Bill bombing a Sudanese medicine factory in an attempt to get Lewinsky out of the news cycle.

Yet with 4000 dead, tens of thousands of Americans scarred and wounded and possibly hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, with more of this shit every day, not to mention one madman replaced by thousands, well, such a strident advocacy for this clusterfuck should be enough to disqualify someone from the Presidency. Not to mention her steadfast refusal to acknowledge the mistake for more than a year. I bet if you pressed her now she still wouldn't really.

This really strikes at the heart of the argument against Hillary. This idea she has the experience and judgement to be President unique among the two candidates.

Hillary Clinton has been a Senator for 8 years, and a practicing one for six. For that entire period she has been triangulating and compromising with her future Presidential run in mind. What contributions can she point to? Co-sponsoring of any major legislation? Again, her greatest accomplishment was her full-throated support for the Iraq invasion.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama has been a legislator for 11 years, with serious accomplishments on both the state and nationa level. He's taken a major lead on issues like Nuclear proliferation and Lobbying reform, and made alliances across the aisle with Senators like Dick Lugar and Chuck Hagel. If you examine their governing records it's clear who has established a better case for the Presidency.

So in the face of all of this, what does Clinton do? She has her surrogates repeatedly play the gender card, suggesting that every slight, loss, or suggestion she leave the race is a criticism of her gender. She has aides like Lanny Davis go so far as to suggest her opponents are telling her to "get back in the kitchen".

She wants to be judged as an equal except when it suits her. She wants us to admire her for a toughness that is supposed to assuage our desire for a strong masculine prescence, except when we're supposed to be touched by her feminine moments of vulnerability. She plays into the different set of standards for a woman, where we all know that if I man had broken down and cried for what seemed to be the selfish reasons of possibly losing a primary, they'd catch hell for it (See: Ed Muskie).

Yet every day, Barack Obama gets closer to being the Democratic nominee, and hopefully the next President. But Hillary Clinton can still do enormous damage to him, and to the part. She can distract him from beginning to form a cohesive message against John McCain, and she can bare the social, racial and economic rifts in the Democratic party. I would rather lose the general election than win with her racist coalition, if it comes to that.

It won't though. The truth is, we are seeing the end of a strange and sad era in American politics. What's best for this nation and what's best for the Clintons are finally in opposition, and it is time for them to leave the stage. For most, this is a cause for rejoiciing. If Barack Obama is sworn in as President in January 2009, it will be one of the proudest days in the history of this nation. There are some who will not rejoice, and who will even stand in the way. The walls are closing in on them. Cry baby, cry.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stuff White People Like: The Pope

When Divine put on a dress, he was a fag. When Cardinal Ratzinger puts one on, he's "beatific". That Popemobile is pimped out though.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Incest is Just Another Kind of Sex, in Some Instances It Might Even Be Preferable

Everybody today is debating the evolution of man, but twenty years ago it was about oral sex in hair metal songs. No man ever had a more satisfying evolution than Frank Zappa. From a hippy monster to a clean cut advocate, albeit John Waters character. No greater advocate for artistry, and perhaps incest or at least Darling Nikki masturbating to a magazine, has ever existed.

You've gotta love the conservative arguing that the Amendments to the Constitution are negotiable. But when he turns around and says laws are "words" and then completely flips the idea of the serious and connotation of words, I almost lost my shit.

It's so insane that this government actually tried to take a stand against Prince and Duran Duran while we were fighting the Cold War. Just as it's insane John Ashcroft thought Tommy Chong's online blog store was a greater threat than Osama Bin Laden.

It's a good thing this didn't turn into a fascist theocracy. Also, even if he hadn't won on points, he'd still win on default because he's the inspiration for Smoke on the Water. Dunnn dunn dunn, dunn dunn da dunnn.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Valley, or: Public Displays of Affection

Those romantic moments when people kiss
In the middle of the road
And stop traffic they never do it
On the New Jersey turnpike
Do they not want to stop that much traffic?
Or does the convenience of that road
Seem antithetical to love?
I want to kiss you on the Garden State Parkway
Where the strangest people say the devil is hiding
Legend has it he stands between you and your car
And you end up having to stay the night
We'd be between cities and have plenty of things to do
This is a vision of the future
Almost further than I've ever been able to see before
Still I'll have to put it on a list of requests
Or a list of regrets
It's absurd how much of my life I've spent away from the ocean
In the furthest vision I've ever had
I shacked up with a woman from Pittsburgh
Who told me that love was the original sin
And that sin was originally from Cleveland

From My Cold Dead Hands

While this blog will never be accused of timeliness, I feel remiss for not addressing the death of Charlton Heston before now. I come to bury him not to praise him? As I consider his passing I am struck by all the recent death I have avoided, as I am hoping not to become a eulogy/poetry site, as awesome as that may be.

For several reasons I don't play dead pools (do these still exist outside CSI MIAMI? Does anything?), but if I did I would have made a lot of money off of Chuck. I can recall no more than two weeks ago emerging from my room after reading an item in Parade Magazine and informing my father "did you read Charlton Heston is dying" and then exactly one week later to the minute my father emerging from his having read the Washington Post to inform me "did you read Charlton Heston died?". Why are we all so enamored of telling others of someone's passing? I think people are probably more interested in playing the Angel of Death than in playing God. Except maybe heart surgeons, fingers crossed.

Charlton Heston, Paul Scofield, Arthur C. Clarke, Richard Widmark. All excellent men, all men people thought had probably died many years ago, and maybe they had. Not to mention Jules Dassin, the director of the brilliant RIFIFI and the awesome TOPKAPI. This will probably become a film blog, as it's the only thing I can credibly write about, but not now.

Richard Widmark, whose awesomeness I was only recently discovering, with films like PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET, but my strongest memory is still watching him in JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG at my Uncle Dick's house with my father when I was 7. I feel like it was probably more awkward for him to tell me about the Holocaust than it was for him to talk about sex. It's certainly the most halting and slow he's ever been in trying to explain anything. Maybe he thought I wasn't ready to understand total evil, or maybe he just thought Spencer Tracy and Widmark had already done an adequate enough job and I was wasting his time.

Arthur C. Clarke, who along with Isaac Asimov was probably the true genius of Science Fiction. He was creating worlds that actually have happened, or will. One of the coolest things my father ever gave me was a box full of his favorite Sci-Fi. The title of one of them is actually the name of this blog. FIRST AND LAST MEN, a pretty bizzare but awesome supposition on the future evolution of man, with its Hegelian ideas about the ever constant rise. I personally choose to believe in Vonnegut's vision that we will evolve into an aquatic species that hunts for fish like seals do, but it's still a great read. Nevertheless, Clarke's CHILDHOOD'S END is a book I have a personal relationship with. I first took it off the cart when I was still in restraints, as a guest of the state. It was about 3 weeks after I'd gotten there, and it was the first time I realized there was a book cart because of course no one told me. I truly believe it pulled me out of madness. That and the love of my family, but that's not an escape. It's a really strange work, with a perhaps simplistic allegory at the center, but it's an awesome vision of the future and a wonderful humanist take at religion. Probably should have written him a letter while I had the chance, though I have no idea how to mail something to Sri Lanka.

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS is a movie they make you watch in school, of course when you're too young and you think it's boring. But Paul Scofield really is brilliant in it. I was told about it long before I saw it, and my father gave me his personal copy of the play with notes scribbled from his days at Georgetown, almost 45 years ago. It's still quite odd for me to think about my father as a student like I am now, and not only because he was doing so much better. He's really sort of retreated into a stubborn mindset that it's hard to fathom him being educated, with Pat Buchanan and Bill Clinton at his side no less in the swinging '60s. There's a statue to St. Thomas More near his house, who Paul Scofield played in the movie. Since I don't really believe in those things, I prefer to think of it as a statue to Scofield and to the time when when everybody smoked and they made square awesome biblical/relgious epics. It's cool the Pope is coming and all, but I look forward to the day when people can put t-shirts and football jerseys on Thomas More, or maybe Mardi Gras beads.

Speaking of biblical/religous epics, I finally return to the big daddy. How many times have you watched PLANET OF THE APES? That should probably be on the citizenship test. Heston was obviously not a great actor, but he was a great screen icon. The obits have dealt with all the big points. SAG President, Civil Rights activist, and of course in what most of them are considering some Whitmanesque multitude contradiction, President of the NRA. I've never been against guns, probably because I grew up with an uncle that tried to shoot elk to survive. For a month. Charlton just did it because he believed in it, because he thought guns were necessary. He had too many badass lines based on the threat of force not to. I choose to remember him as Hollywood's most ridiculous/awesome Mexican in TOUCH OF EVIL, and to quote it: He was some kind of man.

Are old time movie stars like World War 2 Veterans? I mean of course besides the ones who actually were. As we lose more of them do we lose a little bit of what America used to be? I don't mean the bad, but the musky, the Studebakers, the ridiculous high levels of pomade, good posture, great handwriting, stoicism, scotch and cigars, the necktie? Will they live on forever in 12 reels? If they are immortal, is America?

When Sam Goldwyn was told Ronald Reagan was going to run for Governor, he was reported to have quipped "No no, Ronald Reagan for best friend, Jimmy Stewart for Governor."

Charlton Heston for President.

Monday, April 7, 2008


The brand new metal plates beneath the street
I feel them underneath my feet
For now I sing the small praises of public transport
Later I will be driven insane by the tales
Of a woman who mends birds
She has a state and local license to do so
For now I sing the small praises of public transport
As I find my way I weigh my options
I recommend we build: Invention
When I see families walking all together
I become concerned are we being bombed?
When I get home will I think of us?
A lot of good looking Russian men waiting for the bus

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thank God I Can't Vote

This clip leaves out Letterman's best jab, which is that McCain looks like the man at the hardware store who makes the keys. He really does. They should probably turn this into some kind of advantage, with a stupid nickname and a cheesy ad campaign.

"Only one man can make the keys to ensure America's prosperity and safety", and then show him handing out keys, preferably to children who smile.

Point is, I think McCain is really an excellent man. Talk shows are probably much more important to me than policy, and if he weren't so insane on the war, whoa daddy. It's a dangerous proposition. He really is a liberal's worst nightmare, though this liberal's worst nightmare is two totally unhot gay guys getting married and ruining it for the rest.

For the present, because Mommy and Daddy are fighting, McCain is allowed to relax and define himself exactly as he wishes. The Olberman's aren't doing much damage. When he picks a running mate and as we get towards the general it's possible he'll drape himself in conservatism and become more depressingly Republican. He may actually not give a fuck though. Watch out.

Breaking news: Bill O'Reilly says 'Obama' like my Nana used to say pie, or cookies. Would you like some Obama? Would you? Fix yourself a piece.