Back when I was younger, I always used to like to think of movies I wanted to see and then cast them in my head. This was in the nineties, and one of the major objects of my hobby was always an X-Men movie. While that has come and gone, I remember that pretty much the only character from my dreamcast who made it to the movie was Patrick Stewart as Professor X. Bearing in mind this was the mid-90s, I’d always thought Kurt Russell and Gates McFadden would have made a terrific Cyclops and Jean Grey, respectively, while Jean Claude Van Damme was at that time popular enough, short enough, and Canadian enough to seem like a good choice for Wolverine.
I can’t say I’ve stopped. I still would love for Gore Verbinski to buy my adaptation of Macbeth and direct it with Christian Bale as the titular character and with a supporting cast including Cate Blanchett, Sean Bean, Dougray Scott, Angelina Jolie, and Anthony Hopkins. That’d be so, so rad. Imagine the swordfights of Pirates of the Caribbean but in medieval Scotland (which, admittedly casts the setting a solid several hundred years post Scottish play, but whatevs).
And now that President-elect Barack Obama (God, there’s a lovely ring to that) is considering his cabinet members, I have, too. I think it’s really important, too, because these are people chosen, rather than elected, and you can tell a lot about a man by the company he keeps. The cabinet consists of 15 members (You can find the current list here): they are the Secretaries of Agriculture, the Interior, Commerce, Justice, Defense, Labor, Education, State, Energy, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Treasury, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development.
Now, there are a couple I wouldn’t even venture a guess toward, like Agriculture or Interior or Commerce. But a couple of the others? I’ll start with the ones I’d certainly offer:
Secretary of Labor: John Edwards. Don’t care that he had an extramarital affair. I’d at least ask him.
Secretary of Defense: General Wesley Clark. Dude’s awesome, and seems to know what he’s doing.
Secretary of Homeland Security: Richard Clarke. Because Against All Enemies is, by all accounts, genius. He was counter-terrorism czar for a while, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State until he “retired.” Thing is, dude is only a couple years older than my father. Again, I’d at least ask him.
Now here’s the thing: I considered John McCain in one of those. I think I’d want John McCain in my cabinet. Thing is, you can’t very well offer either post to the man who joked about Bomb-bomb-bombing Iran. So I think that what I’d do is ask McCain to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs, but also increase the synergy between the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veteran’s Affairs. They seem related, after all.
Secretary of State: Bill Clinton.
Secretary of Education: Hillary Clinton.
Now, I wrestled over this one. But Hillary wrote It Takes a Village, and education has always been near to her heart.
Secretary of Energy: Al Gore. Because we need new energy if we want to end global warming, which is his cause and all, and hey, the man invented the Internet, so I’m sure he could come up with something (that’s a joke. I know he didn’t actually build these here tubes). And shit, dude won a Nobel, no? And for Peace? I would so totally want a Nobel Prize winner in my cabinet.
Secretary of Treasury: Paul Krugman. Hell, why not two Nobel Prize winners? Dude is the latest winner for economics. He’s got to know something. I’ve heard Warren Buffett’s name mention a couple of times, though, and I’m sure he’d be good.
I wish I could figure out who my attorney general would be. We’ve been in desperate need of a good one for several years. But I don’t know enough about law to know whose name should be mentioned here. But I can tell you what I’d want: an expert in constitutional law, and someone unafraid to follow it closely. Someone unafraid to denounce torture as an interrogation technique. Also, would it be this guy’s job to introduce legislation to abolish the electoral college and revise the way voting works? Because I think we need that guy, too.
So those are my big choices, I think. Looking over it, it seems to lean slightly left, but I left several slots unfilled, and I’d definitely try to balance the cabinet in filling those.
334 electoral votes (at last count) later, this is no longer what you might call a victory. It’s now pretty much a blow out. What Obama did last night is called “winning decisively” or, alternately, “handing John McCain his ass.” McCain was gracious about it, accepting the failure as his own during his concession speech, and Obama, for his part, remained dignified and concentrated not on himself but on us. Which is why, I think, he was so galvanic.
I think few of his supporters believe he won last night.
I think we believe we won. He just happens to be our candidate, because he has risen up to become our voice. In him we see ourselves at our very best, and the hope to lead our country to its very best.
In him, I believe, we see the living embodiment of a dream:
That all men are created equal, and that we may live in a society in which we are judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. I’ve noticed that pretty much every media source in the country notes the historicity of his race, that he is the very first African American elected president, but I wonder if that does a disservice to what he has truly accomplished. Because he proved so decisively that what truly counts is the person, the candidate, and not the race or the creed or the gender. What matters is action and speech, thought and gesture, and I don’t believe Obama won despite that he is Black; I believe he won solely because, for once, people set color and race aside to focus on what truly matters.
And I think that’s beautiful.
403 years ago today (by my count, but remember of course how terrible I am at math), on 5 November, 1605, Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up Parliament was foiled.
In following years, Fawkes came to regarded more as a hero than as a terrorist. “Guy Fawkes was the only man ever to enter parliament with honest intentions” became a common saying, and in 2002, the BBC ranked him 30th among the 100 Greatest Britons of all time.
Later, Alan Moore used the Fawkes mask in V for Vendetta, which is an awesome movie:
Watching it always makes me tear up. Particularly this scene:
It fills me with a sense of joy and elation, a feeling of possiblity and hope.
The same feeling that filled me last night, first when I saw Barack Obama pull ahead in the polls, and then again when I saw ABC News projecting him as the winner. I didn’t want to believe it; I’ve witnessed two presidential debates that were hijacked within a few hours, or which called for greater deliberation that meant they couldn’t be decided for days or weeks.
But then I saw the rumor that McCain had called Obama to concede, which I found on the Associated Press site.
And then I watched the concession speech.
And that was when it finally started to sink in:
This might really be happening. This could be real.
Given the state of things, I remain cautiously optimistic. I will remain worried about waking up to find something awful has happened. Probably for a while.
But cautious optimism is optimism nonetheless, and of all the rare commodities lately in light of the financial crisis, hope might have been rarest of all.
Evey is right, in that clip up above. The pundits will say this was all about the economy, and partly about race, but I think it was about more than that. It was not just about hope but also ideas, and Evey is right that you cannot kiss an idea, nor touch it, nor hurt it. Ideas do not bleed, nor feel pain.
The same can be said for change. You cannot touch nor hold change.
You can only be it.
And now, we have our chance.
Yes we can.
Yes we did.
Yes we will.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
The power and audicity of change.
I can think of no reason
In this autumn season
To doubt or question its range.
Barack, Barack, ’twas his intent
To defeat McCain for president.
Three hundred college votes select
Obama president elect.
By people’s choice he will now lead
A great country toward its greater dreams.
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let freedom ring.
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let choirs sing.
Here is the half-hour long Barack Obama video that aired before the World Series tonight:
I can’t speak for the whole thing, because I didn’t watch it; I’ve already voted, because I already knew how I wanted to vote. But if you’re undecided, it’s worth watching.
By now I’m sure we’ve all heard that the Republican campaign spent $150,000 on new clothes for Sarah Palin on her being named as McCain’s running mate. Here’s the LA Times commenting on it (link via It’s All One Thing).
I’m more surprised people are surprised by this. By Republican standards, $150,000 is an absolute bargain, considering it’s roughly half what Cindy McCain’s RNC outfit cost.
It’s become apparently newsworthy enough that the GOP is issuing statements concerning it. McCain says she needed new clothing, I guess either because she didn’t have enough, as governor of Alaska, or because everything she owned was maternity wear. They also claim all the clothes will be donated back to charity, by which I suppose they mean PUMA for Hockey Moms or somesuchlike.
To be honest, I don’t care, though I do so enjoy the fact that during the midst of an economic crisis verging on absolute collapse, John McCain can’t keep track of how many homes he earns and Sarah Palin spends very nearly more in a few weeks on clothing than I have so far earned during my entire professional career (and I’m 30. Which probably says a lot about my professional career, or sometimes lack thereof). The only thing I care about is that she’s a total hypocrite. Because here’s the Yahoo! news story in which she denies the rumors and then says that:
It’s kind of painful to be criticized for something when all the facts are not out there and are not reported.
Which reminded me a lot of this video:
From back in March when she “offered Hillary Clinton advice on how to campaign” by criticizing Clinton for a “perceived whine.”
Please may this woman disappear just as quickly as she appeared in the first place.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go early vote. And by ‘early vote,’ I mean cast my ballot for “that one.” And by “that one,” I mean Barack Obama.
Last night, I dreamt we fell into the ocean.
Last month, I did an interview over at the Lulu Book Review with its proprietor, awesome author Shannon Yarbrough. In it, Shannon asked me about the dreams I mentioned in my essay about what I saw on September 11th, 2001; for a long while before that day, I’d had dreams of Manhattan falling in some way or other.
Now, I seem to be dreaming of water, and of cities falling into it. The ground beneath my feet has given way at least three times in the past . . . well, I don’t really know how long; it took dreaming about it last night to remember I’d dreamt of it before. And the title of this post is a bit misleading; it’s not inundation like a wave or a tsunami. It’s just giving way.
I don’t know where I am in the dreams. Part of me thinks Los Angeles if only because Los Angeles is the only city I associate with falling into the ocean. There was an amusement park-type setting last night, and maybe a Ferris wheel, which may or may not have been Santa Monica pier . . .
I wonder if it’s because I feel I’ve become unbalanced lately. In many ways. I’ve been teaching and grading and studying so hard I haven’t had nearly as much time to write as I would like. I feel like I’ve gone a bit overboard on politics, here in the blog, in the past couple of weeks, but then again I think that’s because so many of my feelings about the upcoming election are tied to my feelings about September 11th. I know that in many ways (and especially in recent weeks) Obama is just politics as usual (mainly, I think, because he’s playing to undecided voters), and I know many disagree that he is a good candidate, but something about him hits me in the same place watching WTC 7 crumble down hit me. Something about him gives me hope in those places that day deflated.
And yes, I realize that’s more an emotional response than anything, but then again, McCain makes me anxious in the same way those apocalyptic dreams always have.
And again: I didn’t mean to talk about politics here. I meant to talk about dreams and disbalance, because I know we’re all a little exhausted by the whole process by now.
I found out, last week, my grandmother passed away. I don’t know if that has anything to do with these feelings and dreams. She was actually a grandmother-in-law, through marriage (my uncle’s mother), but she was still often present in my childhood, whether as the first house on our annual Halloween trick-or-treating adventures or at my cousins’ birthday parties (three cousins, three parties per year). But I don’t actually remember the last time I saw her; I know it was at the local supermarket, but I’ve returned home less and less these past few years, and Jersey feels farther away than ever. I couldn’t go to her viewing/funeral, but I think what bothers me most about that is that I couldn’t hug my aunt and shake my uncle’s hand. She had a full life 88 years long, children and even grandchildren she watched grow up, and my mother told me it’s a blessing for reasons of recent health, but still, mum mum Kit is no longer around, and I’m a little sad about that. I don’t remember mum mum Kit with hair any other color besides white, pulled so taut back it became an old-fashioned facelift, voice full of old cigarettes and bourbon forgotten years before.
Anyway, I’m going to try to move back from politics. I’m going to also be trying to do some more writing. My real writing, that is, not blogs. That’s not to say I’m taking a break; this doesn’t feel like I’ve felt when I’ve realized I need to walk away from the blog for a while . . . it’s different, somehow. I’d meant to talk about Lulu, but I may be saving that for a couple of weeks just yet, as I’m still trying to figure out the best thing to do with my book.
Hope you’re doing well.
I wish I could talk about the economy with more knowledge, but I admit up front I cannot. I’m actually looking forward to the next week or two, when my business class transitions from marketing to economics; I’m not sure it’s the sort of economics the country is having trouble with (I sense not so much), but even still I figure there will be connections I can make between the two.
I once read a magazine article about the stock market. I can’t remember which magazine published it, but Rolling Stone is my first guess. The article was about a coming market related to either bulls or bears, whichever is worse, and it parsed the market itself as a sort of nebulous popularity contest. It vaguely connected being a popular stock like Apple or Google or Microsoft (though this was in the days before Google, I believe) to being the popular kid in school, and made the analogy that such popularity was a sort of currency, which was why people traded and bartered it. Why people believed that something so ethereal as a small stake in a zero and a one could be worth actual cash money.
I remember enjoying the article immensely even if I didn’t really understand it. Like I’ve never understood economics, and like I certainly don’t understand what’s going on right now. I guess maybe I really am Joe Sixpack even though my drink of choice is a Smirnoff mixer or a nice glass of wine. But when I open up Yahoo! and its finance page tells me every damned time that the Dow has dropped another twenty points since the last time it piddled itself, and I know that’s bad. I know, vaguely, what it means that it dropped in points, but in real world terms?
Right now, Colorado is split right down the middle between Obama and McCain. It’s a dead heat at 44% of voters each, which is why Palin was in Englewood the other day accusing Barack Obama of “pallin’ around with terrorists,” the best evidence she has of which is the fistbump Obama once gave his wife and the fact that Obama barely knows some guy who did something when Obama was, like, 8 years old.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and all, of course, and right now I’m not sure there’s anyone in America more desperate than the two people on the GOP ticket.
I get people who support John McCain, though, I’ll admit. I did once, too, long, long ago before he let Bush win the GOP primary back in 1999. Before then, I would have said he seemed like a good guy, and I’d like to see him come along after Bill Clinton. The world would be a much different place if we were currently ending a McCain administration instead of a Bush administration, and I’d wager, in fact, that alternate history wouldn’t have led us to such a bleak and very real present, with its economic crises, illegal espionage, and unjust wars. Back in 1999, McCain seemed like the kind of guy who would have told the world on September 12th, 2001, that we had been struck by terrorists and would respond swiftly and surely, and then, you know, responded to the right country.
But that’s not who John McCain is anymore. He’s erratic. He seems to want to believe that America can restores its international image simply by bombing more countries. He doesn’t understand the economic crisis, not in any real way; no one who would lose track of the number of houses his family owns could really grok the mortgage crisis.
So I get people who support him, I think, because they’re supporting who he used to be rather than what he’s done since and what he’s running on, now, and really, who wouldn’t like to go back to 1999? Well. Okay, I wouldn’t, but 2000-2001 would be nice, certainly. I’d dig it.
I dig Bill Maher, mostly. Like his stuff. I mean, he’s neither Eddie Izzard nor Jon Stewart, but I do appreciate both his candor and his challenge. I agree with him often, but often mostly in the sense that I agree with Jon Stewart: not in the sense that I’m lefty or liberal or whathaveyou, but more in the sense that I just find the whole system and process completely absurd, as well as many of the participants therein.
I don’t really watch television, though, so I rarely catch Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. I’m sure I could catch recaps, somehow, but I’m rarely so inclined.
I’ll tell you, though: I’m totally inclined to see his new “mock documentary,” Religulous.
I may even start using religulous as an adjective. Seems like, on the hierarchy scale, things would be first ridiculous, and then totally ludicrous, and then absolutely religulous.
Trailer after the Continue reading
Because, seriously, I’m not sure I would have been able to hold back from striding onto that stage and, after McCain’s first response, looking the camera dead in its little electronic eye and saying:
“You’re serious? You’re really not sure whether to vote for this guy or for me? You’ve noticed he’s got a notebook full of letters three feet high because otherwise he can’t remember what he wants to say and they’re not big enough for him to see? You don’t see right through his pathetic ploys to dead soldiers, which he trots out during every media interview he engages in?
Look: I want to help you. I want to cut your taxes and get us through these difficult times. I’m a better candidate because I care about you.
But if you don’t realize that, I can’t help you.
I want to help you, but I can’t if you won’t let me.”
Because seriously, tonight’s debate confirmed all my suspicions. If McCain isn’t completely senile he’s simply incompetent.
Have you heard the rumor about Sarah Palin’s youngest child, Trig?
I hadn’t until this morning, when I caught it via MightyGodKing.
Apparently, there’s a rumor Trig Palin might, in fact, be the child of Bristol Palin, Sarah’s oldest daughter.
Some of the details certainly make one wonder.
The official version of the story seems to be that Palin’s water broke while she was in Texas, at which time she flew back home to Alaska to give birth to her youngest child. If she did so, I’m relatively certain she would have had to take a private jet; commercial airlines prohibit women more than 8 months pregnant from flying.
But let’s say they made an exception because she’s governess of Alaska.
Still, her oldest daughter, Bristol, had been removed from her school for 4 to 5 months already, with a “prolonged case of mono.”
The other thing is that, even according to the Anchorage Daily News, when she announced in March that she was 7 months along, she “simply [didn’t] look pregnant”. She claims to have disguised it well.
I’m not convinced it’s true, but then, I’m not convinced it matters, either. I thought she was both batshit crazy and less than qualified for the gig before I heard any of the above rumors, and I still do. I think this whole back-and-forth argument between GOP supporters and McCain Democrats and PUMA supporters on one hand and Obama supporters on the other is silly, because I don’t think experience has very much to do with one’s ability to get a job done. Obama and Palin are, arguably, on equal level concerning experience, but Obama’s qualification vastly outpace Palin’s, and I think that’s what counts. Obama was the Illinois senator, and as such participated in national policy; Palin is governor of a state whose population is less than Brooklyn’s and may have participated in regional policy, there in Alaska, but isn’t Alaska a bit of an out-of-sight-out-of-mind state, anyway? People note it’s the largest, but Manhattan is more populous and impressive, no?
If it is true, however, I wonder if it plays into her anti-women’s rights beliefs. Keeping secret one’s daughter’s teenage pregnancy and then adopting the child as one’s own while actively concealing the entire thing seems somehow related to the “let’s all sweep sexuality under the rug, because the only real way to educate teenagers is to teach them abstinence. We won’t acknowledge sex education, we won’t dispense condoms to populations that might use them, and we will consistently teach that sex and its consequences are utterly shameful” belief system many fetus-rights activists seem to share.
What do you think? Would it make a difference, if true?
Lots of major political happenings the past few days. Obama accepted the nomination on Thursday, right down the street from me, but I deliberately avoided any and all proceedings related to the DNC (I have issues with crowds. And crowd control, which seems an oxymoron).
I watched his speech on Thursday. I wasn’t nearly as moved by his as by Hillary’s, but then again, I think that might be for the better. I’ve heard some people complain that it lacked his usual passion and rhetorical flair, but I have to wonder if that would have been the right place for either. I thought it was a basically nuts-and-bolts speech in which he accepted the nomination and then indicated what he planned to do. One of the biggest complaints against him (besides “arrogance,” but don’t even get me started on that) is that many people felt they didn’t know what he was running for or promising. They didn’t know what his policies were going to be.
I think we have a better idea now. We might not yet know how he plans to accomplish his plans, but at least we know he’s got them, and I think that’s the important part for anyone who was undecided, which is really who that speech was addressed to. I was going to be voting for him anyway, regardless of what he said, because really the other choice is a senile old man, and I think that his speech was for everyone who hadn’t already been swayed by his brilliant rhetoric and bombastic charisma.
And how about that senile old man? McCain’s the other big news with his choice of Sarah Palin, the Tina Fey-lookalike Alaskan governor nobody besides Alaskans had ever heard of before yesterday, to be his vice-presidential candidate.
So, basically, I think McCain believes that all the disenfranchised Hillaristas who are so upset Obama beat their candidate, hands down, are voting based on gender and not ideas or politics, so anyone in a skirt will appease most of them. I can’t think of any other reason. His most oft-repeated criticism of Obama is that Obama lacks experience; meanwhile, Palin’s been governor for less than two years, and of a state whose total population is less than that of Brooklyn. One could argue that she, as a governor, has more executive experience, but if one really wants to make that argument, she technically has more experience than any other candidate, none of whom have political experience outside of the Senate.
I wouldn’t make that argument. I think she’s totally crazy and completely scary. She’s anti-abortion rights. She believes Creationism should be taught alongside evolution in school.
And most of all: do you know that average life expectancy for an American man is 75.6 years? McCain turned 72 yesterday. Which means that, if he’s elected, and if he actually manages to live through his first term, it will actually be unexpected. And this is a man who’s battled malignant melanoma four times between 1993 and 2002.
So on one ticket we have a senile old man who wants to bomb Iran and his conservative, Evangelical Christian running mate who’s been a governor for only slightly less time than McCain is yet expected to live.
On the other, we have a man with solid integrity who seems utterly committed to uniting America in the change he sees as a vision for the future, and his senior Senator running mate.
It really should be no contest, and it’s a damned shame it’s not.
The New York Times today with an article on Americans’ indifference to the war.
Because, apparently, the way to make more Americans aware of what’s going on over in a land most people who support the war probably couldn’t point to on a map is to publish an article about how little people care about it:
Even as we celebrate generations of American soldiers past, the women and men who are making that sacrifice today in Iraq and Afghanistan receive less attention every day. There’s plenty of blame to go around: battle fatigue at home, failing media resolve and a government intent on controlling information from the battlefield.
Except, of course, we’re not celebrating generations of American soldiers past, nor the women and men who are making that sacrifice today . . . today stands in memory of those who have made that sacrifice–those whose lives have been lost.
Since the war began on March 19, 2003–10,770
With, apparently, between 23,000 and 100,000 wounded, although I don’t quite get that disparity; that’s a difference of 75,000 people. I wonder how they’re measuring.
And though Memorial Day is supposed to be for American service personnel who have lost their lives, I thought I’d expand it to include the 91,703 Iraqi civilians who’ve died as a result of US occupation.
(nb–I realize those websites have names that don’t really lend themselves to citation [antiwar.com, for one, seems to wear its raison d’etre on its sleeve], but their information gathering methods seemed mostly sound)