Archive for October, 2008

  • Hala V. Furst
  • 31
  • Oct
  • 08

I guess it was in reference to Halloween that Fox News began running pictures of Edward Said. They showed a picture of Mr. Said, looking every bit like someone’s grandpa wearing a track suit to play canasta, throwing what was supposedly a rock. There was no context for the photo (which, by the way, they got off of wiki), other than that a man who likes to throw rocks, presumably at Israeli soldiers, was once at a function with Obama. No mention of how Said was the father of post-colonial thought, of how he was often a voice of rationality and calm in the ever-increasing insanity of the Palestine/ Israel conflict.  No mention that the language he used to describe Israeli Zionists might come from first hand knowledge. No mention that he had been educated and lived in the United States for much of his life, and was an academic at Columbia and several other institutions for a number of years. But more importantly, absolutely no mention of the fact that Edward Said has been DEAD FOR OVER 5 YEARS. 

There are several things wrong with this, but lets start with the easy ones. When you are telling your watchers that Obama is hob-knobbing with terrorists, might we at least limit those terrorists to ones that are still alive? It must be that Obama is now a ghost-terrorist sympathizer as well. Any day now, we’ll see him in pictures with Zombie Saddam Hussein. Further, since when did writing books about cultural identity, orientalism, post-colonial theory, and just general memoirs make one into a terrorist? Perhaps it is the same as “driving while black”. Edward Said was WWP: writing while Palestinian. Or perhaps all intellectuals are terrorists to the folks over at Fox News. When a man who can write articulately, convincingly, intelligently, and thoughtfully about this conflict is vilified as a terrorist for even suggesting that Palestinians have a right to their own land, we have officially reached the end of reason. 

That my friends, should give you a chill on this All Hallow’s Eve.

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  • Rob Spectre
  • 28
  • Oct
  • 08

The only message coming out of the Obama campaign for the next six days is “One Week.”  The mantra of his closing argument is clear: don’t count chickens and push every down.  Good stuff for campaign messaging, but the statistics are becoming stark for John McCain.

Source: Electoral Vote Predictor

Source: Electoral Vote Predictor

Today’s report from EVP has Barack Obama at 260 electoral votes in states which his polling is averaging greater than 10%.  As we enter the final sprint, EVP’s poll averaging carries greater and greater weight as it collects as many as 25 polls each day in the last week of the campaign.  With 260 in the bag, Obama must only nab 10 of the 104 EVs that are out there where he maintains a lead.  10 out of 136 – that is 9.6% of the EVs where Obama is leading.  Include the 32 electoral votes that are statistically tossup and that must-win magic drops to 7%.  The election isn’t over yet, but the fat lady is warming up and on in six days.

Just 45 days ago last month, national tracking had Obama and McCain in a statistical deadheat.  A few interviews, a couple shopping sprees, and a historically unprecedented economic meltdown later, by all accounts John McCain is looking to have a lousy night 4 November.  Even his running mate is going to be running back home on the big day.  By the time she gets to Wasilla to cast her vote, there may be no reason to head back.

So where did McCain go wrong?  Obviously a whole shitload of things.  Our gonzo roundtable from (d)N0t weighs in on this week’s query for the crew:  what single decision is going to cost John McCain this election?

T-Dub

T-Dub

McCain seemed to admanatly resist modernization. Dude admitted he didn’t use email, the internet, etc. Not for nothing? 21st century. ‘Change’ does not jive, if you’re not even sure how to look up the many references of the word on Wikipedia. I’m the last person to criticsize someone else for being a bit of a curmudgeon. I happily and largely ignore the latest trends in social networking, have no problem with IM being ‘after my time’ (raw telnet was where all the cool kids hung out, anyway), and have never, ever, asked somebody: A/S/L? I ‘text’ as clumsily as Hellen Keller learning how to play Guitar Hero. But that’s a far cry different then adamantly remaining ignorant of a technology that has not only reshaped in the word in a scant 15 or so years, but opened up resources to both find and share information that had previously been unheard of. Obama, I believe, is working/has worked on putting a system together, that will post all proposed bills on the web, complete with a break down of what’s being asked for, what it all means, and to a degree most importantly, who the hell is trying to sneak what under the radar. I’ve wanted to see somebody do this for a long time, but on a more abstract scale, it’s a candidate wanting to use modern tools, to help effectively address two very serious problems. Government spending, and accountability. McCain doesn’t have this ability. It’s a major weakness.

Hala V. Furst

Hala V. Furst

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

Are you trying to tempt the thing from high a-top the hill? STOP IT!!!!!!

I refuse to participate in this symposium until after the votes have beencounted and Obama is the victor. However. If we were to couch this in hypothetical terms, I would say thething that put McCain’s campaign the most on the skids was one Ms. Sarah Palin, moose-killer. It was almost like someone dared him to put her on the ticket. She is the candidate that you joke about putting up there when you are running out of options and really want a game changer. But then dawn approaches, and you realize how silly it sounds out loud, and you pick someone who is actually qualified in the face of your eventual mortality. So, agreeing with Colin Powell, picking Palin made many people question the seriousness and sanity with which McCain was approaching his campaign. By using her, he was almost trying to promise us that he would not die in the next 8 years. And that kind of hubris is dangerous.

But this is all hypothetical. I’m going outside now to turn around three times, throw some salt over my shoulder, and repeat Insh’allah like it is a fucking mantra.

Rob Spectre

Rob Spectre

The McCain campaign is, in fact, one of those rare course of events in human history that can be traced back to very few root causes.  Though calamity dogged John McCain every step of the way in the general election, he got to clinch his nomination months before his opponent.  He inherited a well-organized Republican ground game, a Caesarian army of volunteers and the singular advantage of having run for president before.  It was a set up absolutely unheard of in national politics.  He had a calendar full of head start and an organization pre-built to win.

With all this stacked in his favor, walking back where the McCain campaign got fucked into a cocked hat is pretty easy.  It was on 2 July when he dethroned Rick Davis, and put Steve Schmidt in charge of his campaign.

All the biggest McCain fuckups originated from Karl Rove’s padawan.  The attack ads, the campaign suspension, the debate tactics, the daily news cycle chasing, the late entry into the Virginia battleground, the continued campaigning Pennsylvania, and, of course, Fuckup Prime Sarah Palin were all Steve Schmidt’s ideas.  Bowling over the campaign corps that had served McCain for years, all Schmidt had to do to win consensus for his ideas was utter one year in American history: 2000.

McCain was so afraid of losing again, he picked someone he thought knew how to win.  And, in another time, Steve Schmidt could have.  But in so doing John McCain sacrificed all his strengths to play a game he has never been good at.  It’s true John McCain used to be a maverick, a fiercely independent and fair-minded statesmen with an iron sense of duty.  But Steve Schmidt made McCain “the maverick,” a disingenious, unauthentic curmudgeon – a cartoon of his real self.

The biggest mistake John McCain made was to bring in a Bush operative.  Steve Schmidt turned what he once was and made him something complete different: an ordinary politician.

And in these times, an ordinary leader just won’t do.

It’ll be a question Republicans ask themselves for the next four years.  If forced to name a single thing, what made John McCain lose?

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  • Hala V. Furst
  • 28
  • Oct
  • 08

The King of the Interwebs, a Series of Tubes, has been convicted on graft and corruption charges. But not to worry, he is still up for reelection. So even if the judiciary doesn’t think Uncle Ted should be free to roam the Alaskan countryside, the electorate will have their say.

In typical semantic horror, Ms. Alaska tried to make government corruption charges, you know, like the ones she might be facing, evidence of how much we need her to clean up Washington “up there”. No offense to any Alaskan readers, but dudes, I know its cold up there. Try having sex or something. Stop being all corrupt.

This piece of schadenfreude brought to you by the letter Republican. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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  • Rob Spectre
  • 28
  • Oct
  • 08

There will be software in the future that will analyze these days.  Accessing cross-referential databases with a speed we can’t imagine, models we can’t predict will aim to produce the spirit of the age visually.  They will look at all the words spilled out onto all the places on the Internet from authorities credible and incredible, from voices loud and quiet, searching for the real meaning of this moment.  The real meaning of this moment we all stopped and stared with horror at the wave that was before us.

Photo: failblog.org

Photo: failblog.org

Whatever form that image takes, $700 billion is going to be six feet long and bolder than a five alarm shit.

And how is the oft-repeated sum being spent?  Delivered this week into the sinful hands that insisted we give it to them, the only things more brazen than their actions are their rationalizations.  Receiving directly a hefty chunk of that bailout is PNC Financial Services, who announced last week they will be purchasing another bank National City Corporation for $5.58 billion. For their irresponsibility, they get one less competitor and $2 billion tax dollars to spare.  We get one less competitive rate and $5.58 billion less money to be loaned.  Congress is not optimistic this is the last of the bailout bulge to be blown on market shrinking buyouts.  Detroit has hopped in line for a slice of the action, with signals from Washington that bailout money could help General Motors buy Chrysler.  And finally when this “capital infusion” bonanza spills into the insurance industry, analysts predict similar consolidation.

They are using the money for which they pleaded, the money for which they begged, the money for which they threatened the world would fall without, against us.  They held a fifty caliber Great Depression gun to our temple and said if we didn’t give them the money, our dreams would die.  They said it had to be now or never.  If we doled it out in chunks, if we delivered it with strings, if we did anything but simply give without precondition, our way of life would simply end.  Those dreams would be fairy tales we could only buy with a history book.  Now, with swollen rivers of money flowing into their glass vaults, they tell us smugly they’ll sell us those dreams in a bit.  Right after they apply a gouging markup for this seller’s market.

They are buying a prosperous future for themselves with a lein on a prosperous future for us all.  They are taking our slice of the American Dream to make sure there are less ovens baking them.  Confused and frantic, we surrendered.  As each second passed added a year to our retirement age, we believed in our fear when they said a bailout would fix it.  We gave the felons the keys to the front door, begging them to take anything if they just left us the house.

It is this fear that is killing us.  It is this fear that keeps forcing us to give them these things.  Fear that drove us to give them our privacy.  Fear that drove us to give them our liberty.  Fear that drove us to give them the lives of our young men and women.  Fear that now drives us to give them our money so they can shylock it back to us.

I don’t know that I can be afraid any more.  I don’t feel any safer, though I do feel less free.  I don’t feel more certain, but I do feel less innocent.  And I certainly don’t feel any wealthier, but I do feel less opportunity.  The fear just hasn’t come true.  They come to us in our duress to propose another thing we must give to be who are and we never, ever end up getting it back.  

We live our lives at security code Orange.  We live our lives with FICO score 600.  We live our lives with these copays and these premiums and these fees and these lines.  We live with the background checks, with the piss tests, with the adjustment forms, and the focus group tests.  We live with our searched bags and our tapped phones.  We live without our Social Security while they foreclose our homes.  We live with chips in our passports, with tracking on our cells, and with videotape of our entries and our exits.

With every signature, we give them something.  With every photograph, we give them something.  With every hour we work and every sacrifice we make, we give these thieves something they never intend to give back.

I’ve given enough.  We’ve given enough.  Let’s see how well founded is that fear.  We’ll take that disaster you’ve been threatening, thank you.  We’ll take that Second Depression or Third World War or whatever it is next we’re supposed to fear.  We’ll take it this time.  We’ll take whatever it is, so long as we never give anything to you ever, ever again.

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  • Rob Spectre
  • 27
  • Oct
  • 08

Some years ago, work began to produce a rock and roll record reflective of the new and horrifying times in which we now live.  Blood and sweat were sewn into ones and zeros constructing a single creative package of ambition, fury and sarcasm.  It aimed to be the unified theory of musicianship; a single record that married the format of popular song with the zeitgeist.  It meant to be truly all things to all people.  But like all artistic endeavors that reach beyond one’s grasp, it iterated itself into oblivion.  The project was the record producing equivalent of a land war in Asia – an endless resource sink that finally drove its investors insane with heartsickness.

But, a principal creative force never let the old girl go, pushing through the Sisyphan task until finally after extraordinary delay it will see the light of day next month.  On 23 November 2008, a new record for a new age will be released.

I am, of course, not referring to Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy.

When I was in college, I started a little band with a silly name manned by a rotating cast of memorable characters.  We played around the Midwest, participating in a unique spectrum of Nebraska musicmakers fostering what we felt was genuine and fun community.

In 2003, a buddy of mine and I made a record in my final semester.  Recorded in the fledging studio of his new record label, it represented a singular creative statement for both Howie and Iinvolved – one that we have all in some way tried and failed to articulate again.  Since then, we all drifted apart, continuing on the natural journeys that one follows after schooling.   The record was left an aborted exercise that has gathered dust for five years.

Ever since, Howie and I never lost our affection for those songs, finding with each year that passed they only became more relevant.  Interpreted as easily post-Iraq as post-9/11, it has always been a personal regret that the record never made it beyond a close circle of friends.  With the tumultuous year that has been globally, locally and musically, Howie and I agreed there could be no better time to finally put this thing out than now.

After much deliberation and debate, Arturo Got The Shaft is releasing its first and only studio full-length A Life Without Fireflies on Mr. Furious Records.  All the tunes will be released under MFR’s license of choice (Creative Commons with Attribution) and free to download when the clock strikes midnight on 23 November.  We’ll have a “Making of” series posted in the coming weeks as well as commentary and stories from both Howie and I, all of which will be available on the Mr. Furious website.

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