Shoe fashion isn’t something I think about much from a personal standpoint. I have a collapsed arch and can’t wear anything but New Balance sneakers or equivalent dressier shoes that accommodate prescription orthotics. But, not to put too fine a point on it, I’m a guy, so while I don’t care much about shoes, I do examine women, who care about shoes. Some of the fairer sex care very, very deeply about shoes, so much that there’s a store named Shoegasm.

It’s winter again and fashion still dictates that most of the ladies dress in boots. Not just any old boots but only certain kinds. If you peruse that page you will see, among others:

  • There are boots that look like something last worn by Charles I and the Cavaliers (or Errol Flynn).
  • There are rubber Wellingtons (gotta be hot).
  • There are jackboots—styled like 19th Century riding boots—with or without stiletto heels.
  • There are the pseudo-barbarian “chick from a Deathstalker movie” boots.
  • Then there are the 21st Century suede moon boot, Uggs.

As I’ve not been able to get an answer that makes any sense from the women in my life—none of whom wear Uggs—I’m going to throw this open to speculation.

What the hell is it with a suede moon boot?

Black or brown jackboots I get, and they can be downright sexy on the right woman (though stiletto heels not so much IMO). The cavalier boots look silly, whatever. The “chick from Deathstalker” boots bring back, well, memories of the chick from Deathstalker.

But Uggs?

WTF?

Mildly Piqued Bemused Academician

P.S.: I’m fully willing to believe that no answer that would make sense to me exists.

P.P.S.: The “chick from Deathstalker” was the late Lana Clarkson, who was possibly murdered by famous ’60s record producer/prize psycho Phil Spector.

P.P.P.S. As you all know, fascists are fond of jackboots.

Update: Turns out they are really comfortable, or so says a lady of my acquaintance who is a fan of Uggs.

For those of us Olde enough to remember either the first run (not me) or reruns (me), Barney Fife was the lovable deputy played by the late, great Don Knotts as the comic to Andy Griffith’s foil on the venerable Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968). Here’s a sampling of Barney’s wisdom:

Nip it in the bud!

Now, men, I have just one thing to say. This isn’t gonna be kid’s stuff, and you’ll be on your own, and there will be no mollycoddling.

That badge means something! Don’t disgrace it!

It is definitely no fun when that iron door clangs shut on you.

Here at ‘the Rock,’ we have two basic rules. Memorize them so you can say them in your sleep. Rule One: Obey all rules! Second, do not write on the walls…as it takes a lot of work…to erase writing…off of walls.

I had my eye on you right from the start, mister!

Barney was hyperactive, insecure and incompetent. Nonetheless, everybody in Mayberry liked him and he lasted long enough to become the sheriff for real (in the 80s “Return to Mayberry” TV special). Fortunately Barney would have been retired by the time crystal meth hit rural America as I fear he wouldn’t have been up to it. Hell, shoplifting at Wal-Mart would have been tough for ol’ Barn.

‘Barney Fife’ has become an icon of hyperactive, insecure and incompetent law enforcement best represented by ‘mall cops’ and assorted other uniformed security types. Unfortunately rent-a-cops (something Barney never was, as he had a real badge) have become ubiquitous. Even the Federal government has gotten in the act in a big way as we now have “the War on Liquids” to contend with, along with the War on Terror, War on Drugs, War on Cancer, and whatever other “War on” the government wants to declare. (Pet peeve: “declare war on X” and “the X crisis” rhetoric, which tend to be so grossly overused that the terms war and crisis seem silly.) Wars, of course, need foot soldiers, hence more Barnies.

I suspect that a good chunk of the “you will reshpect my authoritah” attitude comes from the situation. It is an attempt to deal with a lack of real power by bluster. Let’s face it, in most cases it’s not just lack of real power but real ability, as not many highly qualified people will get a tin badge when they can get a real one. Barney is as likely to be as annoyed as you, pretty much all the time, which is the definition of a soul-killing job if you ask me. So what can be done? As I have to put up with Barney Fife-ism in spades these days, here are some tidbits of advice:

  • Do as much as you can to move on past with as little bullshit as possible. Clip your ID to your shirt pocket and just keep walking. Usually they’ll be happy to let that go if they’ve seen you before even if, technically speaking, they are supposed to check. Remember, much of Barney’s dickness is due to the truly unfortunate circumstance in which he finds himself.
  • Use your encounters with Barney as an opportunity to practice your deep breathing. You really don’t win by making a scene. In fact, you do yourself harm (stress hormones ain’t good things) and just piss off everyone else. It’s like fighting with the library clerk over a fifty cent fine… dumb, just pay it and go. It isn’t that important.
  • Save your irritation and indignation for the times when they decide to get all huffy about the fact that you can’t come in because it’s off-hours and you are, in fact, on the all-hours access list but the secretary slightly misspelled your name or some similar issue. In other words, learn to distinguish between your being denied something that you really have coming and the ordinary run of the mill bullshit that comes along with Barney.

Sadly you’re going to have to figure out for yourself what policies your local Barnies aren’t allowed to bend on. Nonetheless, it is damn annoying to drop a cup of coffee because the security guard who just saw you walk out of the building not but five minutes ago to go buy the cup from *-buck’s across the street won’t let you back in again without checking your ID and won’t let you put it down on security desk either.

One of the larger questions that is important to consider—but which you can’t address with Barney because, remember, he is a peon—is whether the illusion of security Barney provides is really useful at all. In my opinion it probably isn’t in the vast majority of places he appears and he could easily be replaced with a key card access system or the like. Ditto for the legion of minor functionaries that seem to be cropping up like mushrooms these days of the new Gilded Age. But that’s a larger question and when you’re in line at the airport and I’m standing behind you is not an appropriate time to discuss it so shut the hell up and stop bitching about the fact that you can’t take your fancy-schmancy shampoo in your carry-on.

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oBFascism Tag: If Barney represents fascism to you, you really need to get out more.

Last year I bit….

I got a Mac.

The iPod wasn’t the gateway drug for me. I was buying a new computer and wanted a high end laptop to run big nasty software I need for my research on the go. A friend suggested I get a 17″ MacBook Pro. I’d been rather hesitant about Apple for a while due to things they’d been doing back in the Steve Jobs interregnum, but my friend—who knows and cares a lot more about such things than I do—was persuasive, so I figured I’d spent grant money as he said. Costing it out it wasn’t a bad deal. Apples may be expensive, but feature for feature they are competitive on price. The difference is that Apple simply doesn’t sell the low end (under $1000), but I wasn’t looking for anything like that.

I’ve long disliked Windows and I’m sure I’m not alone. Does anyone really like Windows? There are some nice things about it, but its countless irritation factors rapidly overwhelm what good feelings one might have had. However, I am stuck needing Windows because there is a lot of software I need that exists only on Windows, kind of an inverse of what kept the Mac platform alive during the 1990s, when multimedia people needed to run things like Video Toaster and the only really good platform for it was Mac. In my case this is scientific and statistical analysis software. Numerical integration, nonlinear optimization, 3D graphics, big data files, etc., all really like a powerful machine, for exactly the same reasons multimedia machines do: Floating point calculation and big data files. Unlike multimedia, most of these programs are written for Windows. Now that the market is trending towards Apple having a much larger share than “pathetic,” particularly at the medium to high end where the miserable failure of Vista has left a gap, the software vendors are starting to trend back too, but it will be a while before I get to run everything I need.

I’m not a classic stereotypical Mac user. Profession aside (hardly diagnostic, believe me), I’m not a Whole Foods shopping, latte-sipping hipster. I listen to music that—while often off the beaten path—is generally twenty or thirty years old. I dislike nouveaux cuisine, have middlebrow taste in movies and TV (favorites: police procedurals, detective shows, historical dramas and nonfiction) and reading (mostly nonfiction or historical novels). In short, I’m pretty skeptical of things bobo. I am, sadly, spiteful enough to be able to understand anti-Obama votes that come from the same basic motive (as opposed to genuine motives, whatever those are), a defiant desire to crank some good old fashioned headbanger rock rather than hear the pathetic wailings of the new wretched indie rocker that none of your friends have heard of quite yet, or a desire to avoid Apple products because of the jackoff Apple-is-my-life advocates on the intarweb.

So what is that I like about the new Apples? The ideal OS to me is very much unlike the Mac-as-lifestyle marketing: In a nutshell, the less I have to acknowledge its existence the happier I am with it. OS/X comes as close as I’ve found in two decades of heavy computer use in which I spent a lot of time on DOS, Windows 3.X, OS/2, Windows NT/2000/XP, and Unix of various flavors, as well as Mac back in the old days, which was obnoxious. Linux isn’t really an option for me—I have to do too much sysadmining, which means I have to know stuff about the OS, ergo be aware of its existence; it also doesn’t easily run the apps I need. For me, Linux is only free if I don’t value my time.

OS/X is not perfect: It has a few annoying quirks and I don’t like Mac keyboard layouts, but otherwise it meets my ideal because, 99% of the time I do absolutely nothing with it but run the apps I want. I may be fighting with them (this means you, Office 2008), but that’s not Apple’s fault. Mostly I don’t think about the OS at all, with the occasional exception when Apple Software Update wants me to type in my admin password or I need to change some setting or another, a task which is similarly refreshingly easy. Unlike Windows Update, Apple Software Update is very much a piece of the rest. It does its thing—after asking permission—and goes away. It’s not an “adventure” and it doesn’t leave its crap on the hard drive like a bunch of sloppy workmen who abandon their take-out wrappers and track mud on your carpet after fixing the bathroom. The Intel Macs were a brilliant idea and are what pushed me over the edge. People like me who have a fair number of Windows-only applications to run can do that with minimal fuss with Parallels or VMWare—and, since Windows in that case is just another program, when virtual Windows blue screens, it just gets killed like any other hung application. Sweet.

The transformation from Disneyland (OS/9) to libertarian paternalism (OS/X) is an amazing shift of philosophy. XP was bad enough but Vista from what I hear has become downright Disneyland totalitarian. That was a bullet that Apple dodged ten years ago when the original design for OS/X, which sounds downright Vista-ish, died under its own weight and Steve Jobs returning as CEO brought OPENSTEP in as a replacement.

A few random points to conclude:

The Apple Stores look like absolute chaos inside, but I will give them this: They are efficient. They may hire body-pierced twentysomethings, but don’t seem to put up with much BS from them.

Oh, in case you’ve not seen it, here’s an updated version of the classic “if your OS was an airline.”

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ObFascismTag: With OS/X I am living in New Hampshire rather than Mussolini’s Italy. 😛

Last year about this time I had a post on Angry Overeducated Catholic’s favorite topic, credentialism. (I say it’s his favorite because it’s first in his nom de plume, but that’s probably just a quirk of the English language that forces adjectives to be first.) Well it’s time for graduation again. I could be lamenting the fact that I’ve been pestered into participating in the graduation perp walk—a vestige of the academy’s long ago connection to the Medieval church—as a faculty representative… at my own expense no less [grumble, grumble]. AOC is the kind of person who enjoys that sort of thing, not me.

Rather than lamenting further, I found this little gem in the Washington Post. It’s about the problems that the “MySpace generation” are having with, well, their MySpace and Facebook pages. It seems that one of the big problems these days among young teachers is a lack of understanding that MySpace is a public web page. Pictures from your senior year spring break showing you and your friends licking tequila off a hooker’s tits in TJ are, as they say, “not professional.” This is something schools are bothered by, amazingly enough. So, as part of my mission in higher education, I figured I’d put up something on this issue for the recent graduate.

I know for fact I got Googled before I went to interviews…. Now that I’m on the other side of the desk, I assure you I Google any potential candidates I’m asked to evaluate. You will be, too. The lack of acceptance of your party pictures on the net is going to apply in nearly any industry that goes under the general rubric of “professional.” It’s probably going to apply to elite higher education opportunities such as highly selective law or medical schools, where nearly all the candidates are super-qualified and decisions are often made on fundamentally arbitrary criteria. It may well apply further down the great chain of being, the employment edition; that will require checking on your part. So what is a sinner to do?

  1. Choose a career where it doesn’t matter. Recognize and accept that this will limit your options and, hence, earning potential, quite possibly A LOT. Of course this depends a lot on your chosen career and the location: As the old knock-knock joke says, jazz musicians are probably already delivering pizza for a living. They are expected to be at least a little eccentric anyway. Baristas at Starbuck’s can have lots of tats and piercings, but I bet you don’t see the district managers sporting that stuff much. Many careers are reputed to be more tolerant but, in fact, are not, at least not unless you are God’s gift to your field, which, most likely, you are not, no matter how smart you think you are with that new college degree of yours.
  2. Do what generations of gay men have done until recently: The closet. That’s right, sanitize your internet presence. Forget about who you really are (whatever that is). More specifically, forget about your burning need to tell others about it. The more esoteric and difficult to understand or accept for outsiders your pastimes are, the deeper they should be buried. If you have thousands of posts to a Usenet group like rec.arts.bodyart about the unmentionable things done to your unmentionables under your real name, first of all I applaud your honesty but have to say: WTF? Are you insane? Then I’ll say, JUST STOP. The riskier things are, the earlier you have to stop.

Assuming you choose (2), start sanitizing your internet presence BEFORE you plan to go out on the workforce. Once you go out, it’s too late. While things are forever on the net, in the mind of your employer there is a “statute of limitations.” Venal sins of a few years back can be swept under the rug with “Well I used to do that stuff but decided it was high time to get serious about my career….” That your employer will understand. Even the US Government forgives things like personal drug use for security clearances. Mortal sins, on the other hand, will not be overlooked so easily. Chances are you won’t even get an interview if you are public enough about it. What’s going to be venal and what’s going to be mortal, alas, is not easily discerned, but for the record, here’s my ballpark guesses of a few:

  • Being on the local board of NORML or Operation Rescue. Probably mortal.
  • Being on the local board at a food co-op. Probably venal (if a sin at all, but watch out for hidden political affiliations).
  • 13,000 posts on Gleemax about the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons (WTF? Gleemax? What marketing genius thought of that?). Venal, unless you plan to work for Pat Robertson and aren’t awfully good at repentance.
  • 13,000 posts on ESPN.com about the Cubs or Yankees. Venal, unless you plan to work for Sox fans, White or Red, respectively.
  • Your name associated with warez sites. Probably mortal.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have an internet presence when you go on the job market, but it does restrict what you can and should have. So here goes….

Stuff that’s OK:

  • A small photo album of your family (kids, siblings, wedding, mom and dad, kittehs, etc.). Avoid the risque: A picture of you and your dad sharing a manly beer on the boat after a day at the lake is just fine. A picture of your cousin Jennie—the one who’s been working as an escort for the last few years—showing off her new bra from Vickie’s is not.
  • Brief info on your hobbies, so long as they’re not too “weird,” a mind-numbingly vague and domain-specific word requiring you to know the industry to which you are applying.
  • Preprints of your past work, a portfolio, etc.
  • Your vita/resume. (But make sure to go to a resume doctor for cleanup. Please.)
  • Light to moderate participation on professionally relevant forums.

Stuff that’s definitely not OK:

  • Visible online presence on anything remotely risque: Porn, heavily ideological politics (lay off the Daily Kos or WorldNetDaily posts), “alternative” lifestyles, etc.
  • A strong online presence in general isn’t good for most “professional” jobs, even ones involving The Intarweb. It’s a sign you put work at a low priority. The exception: If your job is to be interacting online with customers.

Stuff you’re going to have to make a judgment call on:

  • Social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. In my kinda bitter and conservative late thirtysomething view, dump them. At minimum cut WAY, WAY back on what you’ve got there and make sure you’re not being “friended” by anyone you wouldn’t want your grandma to meet. Sure, the whole “six degrees” of separation thing means you’ll be friended by some dubious people, but that’s why I suggest getting out while the getting’s good. Upper management simply won’t care to understand.
  • A blog where your name and confessions about how you feel is revealed on a daily basis. IMO, dump it.

If you are at all uncertain, it is best to err on the side of no presence at all. You can’t be hanged for something that doesn’t exist and you can always put it back up later… assuming you’re not interested in promotion. 😛

As Kafkaesque as many workplaces have become in the days of zero-tolerance policies and litigation, most administrators aren’t fascists (ObFascism tag 🙂 ) or, more correctly, totalitarians, in that they don’t really care what you do in your free time—be it crocheting socks for orphans in India and volunteering at your local church, or hanging with hookers when in TJ and horses in Washington State—so long as they don’t hear about it, nobody among their stakeholders hears, and it doesn’t affect your job performance. That’s right, it’s really, truly about the risk of scandal and getting the job done. Beyond that, you are a cog in the wheel, especially if you are a noob. The one exception is if your life outside work makes them look warm and fuzzy by association and even this is a big “maybe.” Remember, administrators, above all else, value peace and quiet, and are trying to head ’em off at the pass. The best way to head off such incidents is to not let you in the door in the first place. The more effective you are, the more they need you, and the fewer questions will be asked, but don’t count on being viewed as a “scarce commodity”—even if they say you are. Even early computer genius Alan Turing and Shakespearean actor John Gielgud had problems in their careers because of socially sanctioned (at the time) out of work activities, aka “the love that dare not speak its name.”

In short, part of your job search is to look moderately boring in your personal life, and save your activism for later, or be willing to pay the price now. Is it fair? It depends on your perspective—more traditional conservatives say absolutely positively, more socially libertarian types might say not—but, ultimately, who cares? It’s the reality of being supervised by people who are a generation or two older than you. That’s right: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” applies more broadly than just the military. Earth to twentysomething new college graduate: Posting stuff on the intarweb is called “telling.” When you sign the checks, you can make the rules.

So, possibly this wasn’t quite the right year for a Bejing Olympics. Maybe we should wait until after the oppressive, restrictive, truth-optional government falls this time, unlike the ’36 olympics (and 1980, for that matter). Much like the debacle that will be the 2010 South Africa World Cup, it’s probably not a good idea to have a nationalist competition in a country with Freudian “nationalism issues.”

On the bright side, this is the first time in decades that the Olympic torch relay has garnered more than passing notice by any media and won more than B-reel footage to fill the gaps between the Iraq war, financial meltdown, and the foreclosed house owners not knowing whether to evict the tenants to avoid vandalism or to encourage them to stay to keep the value of the house from plummeting.

Londoners took to the streets for a game of “snatch the torch”, followed by having governmental inquiry as to why Chinese special forces were allowed to manhandle British police and dignitaries just because they were within 10 feet of the magic “Bunsen burner of peace”. Then Parisians took a break from burning their own city to the ground to try the novelty of putting out flames as it was jogged/driven through town.

San Francisco, in a true American media-savvy style, went all in by preparing its protests ahead of time, so that the news footage would draw out more protesters on the actual “torch day”. Also, celebrating their city full of athletically-fit crackpots, three protesters climbed “Big Red” to fly protest parachutes over the city.

I guess pissing off people who hope one day to climb big rocks in the country you’re subjugating leads to more interesting displays, at least.

It will be interesting to see if San Francisco gives a warmer welcome to the Chinese military than they do to the U.S. military…

The current tally stood, last I saw it, as:

  • French Government considering boycotting the opening ceremony.
  • US considering boycott of opening ceremony. Congressmen calling for boycott of opening ceremony and games.
  • English government is conflicted over whether to boycott, since they’ve supported the Chinese too much already.
  • Chinese Government, due to its crystal clear transparency and always reporting of the truth, proclaims that everything is peachy and “passionate crowds” are welcoming the torch along the route.

They must be referring to their army squad and the driver of the “extinguished torch bus”.

Update:
There’s a great game of “find the torch” going on in San Francisco as I’m writing this. Pro-China and anti-China groups were shouting at each other all morning, separated only by a mutual hatred of cooties (and the SF riot police). After a quick opening ceremony, the torch was put on a mystery bus and driven around in secret throughout downtown, trying specifically to avoid being noticed.

Resorting to a “secret parade” can only be topped by… a secret closing ceremony!
via KPIX San Francisco (CBS):

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said the planned closing ceremony for the Olympic torch at the San Francisco Bay waterfront was canceled Wednesday afternoon and another one would take place at an undisclosed location. [emph mine -ai]

PS: Fascism

Spinal Tap once again proves that truth is stranger than fiction:

Recently, ABBA’s former drummer died in a bizarre gardening accident.

The late, great Jeff Porcaro‘s widow claims to this day that her husband died from a heart attack brought on by an allergic reaction to the pesticide he was using in his garden, not a drug overdose… that’s right, a bizarre gardening accident. (Decades of drug use must have counted, though.)

Jim Hodder, also a former Steely Dan drummer (he and Jeff both played with the Dan—at the same time—back in the mid ’70s), drowned in his swimming pool. Not quite a bizarre gardening accident but within spitting distance since the backyard is what the Brits call “the garden”….

So what is it with drummers? Or is it musicians? Or is it all “man bites dog” publication bias? Discuss!

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ObFascism Tag: If it were up to those hateful fascist safety regulators—who Hate America and Everything It Stands For!—there would be no more bizarre gardening accidents.

No, no, no, no, no. That was not a great celebration of African-American history. That was a celebration of American history. —Barack Obama, when asked about a celebration of the place of the March on Selma in African-American history. (Taken from Andrew Sullivan’s blog, May 24, 2007.)

It is like a finger pointing away to the moon. Do not concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory. —Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon (1973)

I hate to break it to you all but, unless things shift around quite a bit in Ohio and Texas real soon now, the first female president is not going to be one Hillary Rodham Clinton, nominally of Chappauqua, New York. We’ll just have to wait until later in the week to find out.

Is this unjust? Nope, it’s just how things worked out given the Clinton campaign’s manifest deficiencies in management, though she and many of her followers seem to think so. Numerous articles, such as this one by otherwise uber-angry feminist Maureen Dowd, point out:

Liberal columnists have waged battle on the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times and other major media outlets about her (compare, oh, Frank Rich to Paul Krugman), or, among readers on Stanley Fish’s blog. Many of the comments note something to the effect of “I went through the first wave of feminism and so I know where she’s coming from.” In my view, the fact that HRC comes from that first generation is precisely the problem.

One of the reasons that Obama has been so successful is that he’s not viewed as “in your face” about being black. He’s a politician who happens to be black, in an odd, decidedly non-traditional way which is itself part of his broader appeal. Jesse Jackson, lest we forget, ran for president twice and won primaries, several of them, in both 1984 and 1988. He was a serious candidate, but I don’t believe anyone really thought he was going to win. Eddie Murphy did a really hilarious skit on this on the now-classic “Delirious.” (Sadly no Youtube of it alone I could find… but check out this.) The problem is that Jesse Jackson came out of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Obama is obviously the most successful of this new breed of black politicians who has benefited enormously from the civil rights generation, who protested so that, now, Obama doesn’t have to. He got to have a conflicted mental life as a young man but, ultimately, went to Columbia and Harvard Law—Ivy League bastions of white privilege not all that long ago—and succeeded at both places on his own terms. This is to the good, whether you plan to vote for or against him. (As I have clearly stated before, I’m pro, but that doesn’t mean I slavishly hold to all positions, e.g., I’m dubious of the NAFTA pandering.)

Over ten years ago survey researchers Paul Sniderman and Edward Carmines’ Reaching Beyond Race noted this point. To put their book in a nutshell: Most white people (and many others) simply don’t recognize highly racialized or genderized claims as legit, but politicians who make universal claims can do quite well. Many self-identified liberals were quite conflicted about race issues. For instance, need-based arguments have markedly more play than ones that are perceived through the lenses of race. Obama figured out a way to “reach beyond.” I bet he paid attention to the late Harold Washington, Mayor of Chicago from 1983 to 1988, who, despite coming up through the system back in the old days seemed to understand that as mayor he had to represent everyone in Chicago, not just his tribe. Harold Washington was a ground-breaking figure and his model would be very alive in the mind of an observant young man coming to work as a community organizer in that time period. Other black mayors like Tom Bradley (mayor of Los Angeles in the 80s) figure similarly. Colin Powell is another example of a trailblazing post-Civil Rights-era statesman, and someone I’m sure was looked at carefully. He’s Jamaican by ancestry, grew up in New York City, and came up through the post-segregation Army, where there’s only one color, green. He too doesn’t fit the old black politician idiom and, therefore, could move past it. Ditto for Condi Rice. There are others, e.g., Harold Ford, Jr., Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Michael Steele. All of these men have been successful at being politicians who happen to be black, not the other way around. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana seems to be analogous, though he’s obviously not black, but of Asian Indian descent. The fact that the good ol’ boys even recognize that he’s not black, or don’t care… that’s progress. None of these people are perfect but that’s unfair, holding real flesh-and-blood people to a “George Washington and the cherry tree” standard no one could possibly meet.

So my guess is that the first female president—whoever she might be, Republican or Democrat—is in her ’30s to ’50s right now. She was a girl through the feminist struggles and, unlike HRC (to say nothing of figures such as Gloria Steinem), she’ll have internalized from an early age the fact that women don’t have to bow and scrape to men, can be successful on their own terms, etc., in a way that the older generation simply hasn’t, indeed probably can’t. Mom burned her bra back in the day so that daughter doesn’t have to. Indeed, unlike mom, daughter wouldn’t even feel a need to torch her brassieres. While some more militant types simply can’t see this, if they were thinking clearly they’d realize that transcending previous generations’ struggles, realizing that some parts were crucial, others should be dropped as mistakes, and others simply don’t matter anymore is exactly the point. The first female president will probably have a law background (most politicians do, for better or for worse) and may be serving in a state legislature or some other such elected office as we speak. In other words, she’s going to be someone like the current AG of Illinois, Lisa Madigan. (In no sense should this example be considered an endorsement. Other examples would be welcome in the comments.) The long and short is that she’ll be primarily a candidate who happens to be a woman, not a woman candidate, and that will be all the difference in the world. Social change isn’t instant. It takes a while for old habits of mind to die—largely through attrition of those holding those habits of mind as time works its woe.

It’s somewhat a pity that our presidential system puts excessive focus on one office: Women have joined the ranks of corporate CEOs, senior leadership in the academy, senior leadership in government, state governors, the leadership of the House and Senate, and so on. The path is just like that taken by other groups before them… over the course of generations. Welcome to the future. It’s not a color- or gender-blind utopia populated by super “Race Man” or, the obvious parallel phrase “Gender Person”, but that’s good, not bad. It’s a damned sight different—better in many ways—than things were forty years ago, and anyone who doesn’t see that needs to look around.

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My thanks to comments from Angry Immigrant, Angry Overeducated Catholic, and Angry Political Optimist, who markedly improved the language of this post. Remaining flaws are, of course, my own.

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ObFascism Tag: “Next to Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, Leni Riefenstahl was the most technically talented Western film maker of her era.” —Mark Cousins, The Story of Film. Proof that Fascism had its feminist icons, too! 😉

It’s looking more and more like the campaign of HRC believed their own “inevitability” line and didn’t bother to plan past Super Tuesday. Tell a line long enough and you start to believe it yourself and stop thinking about what you might need to do if your “inevitability” turns out not to be so inevitable after all and the opposition doesn’t cooperate by playing their assigned role of loser. There’s a name for this problem: Victory Disease. Believe it or not, the Wikipedia page is pretty solid, so I’ll quote it for you (with some slight edits):

The signs are:

  • Arrogance, overconfidence, and complacency,
  • Use of previously victorious patterns of fighting, and not developing new tactics to anticipate enemy advances,
  • Stereotypes of enemies, underestimating enemies,
  • Ignorance of contrary intelligence or refusal to recognize it.

While the winning side grows complacent, arrogant, feeling invincible, the enemy adapts. Military disaster ensues. While “victory disease” does not automatically foretell failure, it is a strong indicator. The term applies outside the military world.

The deep irony is that HRC and her team got a heck of a case before any actual victories.

This should sound familiar: It’s essentially the Donald Plan (Rumsfeld that is) for post-invasion Iraq. But, as he said famously at the time “it would be weeks, not months.” Now he was right about formal large unit operations but that doesn’t change the misleading nature of the quote, which was widely believed to mean “just like Desert Storm,” i.e., no long occupation, no big bill, no casualties, etc. We all know how well that turned out. Lots of people whose jobs it is to know better were telling the then-SecDef and those above him that things were going to be trouble. The invasion could have been more difficult than it was but it was not seriously in doubt. The post-invasion, on the other hand…. Well let’s just say that such things are complicated and cannot be left for improvisation. You need a plan for what happens when things don’t go the way they should.

Well HRC has fallen into the same trap. Her campaign’s been noting things like the fact that the Texas delegate allocation rules are arcane and perverse. Well, that may be, but one would presume that it was her campaign’s job to find out about such things and plan for them, rather than whinge about it down the line. And she’s one to talk about arcane and perverse rules manipulation, what with changing her mind on the Florida and Michigan primaries. Again, she’s got a fig leaf of a point but was only pro these states when it looked like it was going to be good for her. Before that, who cares? She agreed to—but then reneged on—having her name removed from the ballot.

Whether this was simply due to carelessness or some other motive I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. The message of the 2000 election is that victories based on “strategery” and procedural tricks executed by one’s partisans who have multiple relationships undermine the legitimacy of the election. Sound familiar? They need to be avoided and the system upheld, i.e., be both fair and seem to be fair. Clearly the Florida and Michigan issue is a problem and, most likely, the best thing to do is to hold a caucus after the last scheduled primary. Given how chaotic this primary season has been, it’s not at all clear if it will be worthless or amazingly relevant, so by trying to push to the head of the line Florida and Michigan may well have gotten what they wanted by boosting their relevance. That would be a bit perverse, too, but poetic justice deserves its own poetic justice now and then.

Other things:

  • Speeches don’t put food on the table. Oh really? (I suppose it’s true since the presidential pension would be quite sufficient.)
  • States and voters “don’t count.” (See “Rove” and “base”.)
  • A senior staffer really known for loyalty above anything else who spent more time watching soap operas in her office, burning through money, and then famously said “screw this, Joey doesn’t want me!” when her son asked for his Dad before bedtime when things got bad. Or maybe we’re just lead to believe she said that? And if so, what does it say about HRC’s “people”? That they will stiff her when the going gets tough? That HRC can’t discipline her staff appropriately? All of the above, most likely, but an inability to appropriately discipline staff—particularly those who are longtime friends with demographically appealing bios—sounds pretty familiar too.
  • Rampant playing of the “two for one” card while still talking about being “her own woman,” i.e., trying to have it both ways. (At least this one is new.)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see some kind of superhero in Obama, or McCain, for that matter. They’re both more stirring than HRC, but ultimately I’m enough of a realist to know that every president steps in the doggie doo eventually. Were he to become president, I’m sure BHO would have his share of scandals in his administration. One of the virtues of a long campaign is show just what kind of person you are when you step in it, and by that score, HRC isn’t showing up too well.

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ObFascism Tag: Look up some of Hitler’s famous quote about how well Operation Barabarossa would go: “Bolshevism will collapse as a house of cards.”

The Soviets loved their “five year plans,” much imitated by other Communist nations back in the day, though often with slight variations like the “seven year plan”. (ObFascism: Five years was too long for Germany: The Nazis had four year plans.) It seems that some Democratic primary voters are touting the “sixteen year plan.” This is a plan dreamed up by people who say things like:

Imagine the possibilities…

  • A generation of progressive leadership in the White House
  • A new era of global cooperation to combat poverty, hunger, and AIDS
  • A lasting commitment to protecting the environment and combating global climate change
  • A new progressive balance of power on the Supreme Court
  • Enough time to begin undoing the damage caused by 8 years of George Bush

In other words, people who are blowing as much sugary sunshine the back door way as a delusional modern progressive can stand without going into insulin shock, in a nice way that makes Barack Obama look Rush Limbaugh-mean.

In a nutshell—which is about all there is here, and it’s one of those disappointing empty peanuts—the Sixteen Year Plan is:

  1. In 2008, HRC runs for President, BHO runs for Vice-President.
  2. In 2012, HRC runs for Vice-President, BHO runs for President.
  3. In 2016, HRC runs for President, BHO runs for Vice-President.
  4. In 2020, HRC runs for Vice-President, BHO runs for President.

This plan, therefore, neatly side-steps that 22nd Amendment, which states that a person is eligible for two terms as President, c’est tout, you’re done. I admit that it sounds “hinky” to me (thanks Abby) and probably violates some constitutional thing or another, but it’s on the edge of plausible, legally. I recall seeing this touted on the Washington Post forum by a poster (not one of the columnists) and thought it was ridiculous then but, it has taken on a life of its own on the intarweb much like other dumbass ideas. It’s the sort of plan that a smart high school civics student might dream up, with no notion of just how amazingly damaging to the all-too-fragile system and the norms that hold the entire electoral edifice up it would be. Such an idea was bandied about on the Republican side in 1976 when they were facing a split convention… Ronald Reagan wisely rejected such a deal, and waited four years to win a legitimate victory. We don’t need plans like this, not after the 2000 election, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, invented notes about George W. Bush’s service record (thin as the real one was), Karl Rove’s shenanigans such as accusing John McCain of fathering a black child out of wedlock in the 2000 South Carolina primary, and whatever other sleazy shit from the pile of digested Alpo from the last several years you want to pick up. No, right now what we need is a nice, clean “by the book” election, not this is freakin’ stupid and profoundly anti-“little d” democratic idea.

It’s wrong but not close to wrong enough to be “so wrong, it’s so right.” No, it’s just plain wrong.

W-R-O-N-G.

W-R-O-N-G.

Never mind the fact that this would be a clear case of “too many chiefs, not enough Indians” (two too many, given the unelected presence of Bill Clinton throughout the whole process).

Never mind the fact that it’s ludicrous to believe it would be a “credible commitment” for whomever went first—Hillary, obviously, given that this is a cheesedick way for wavering HRC supporters to get Obama to back down. Sure, I believe that you’re going to step down after being president, sure. It’s with that property in Florida and the Brooklyn Bridge….

It makes a total mockery of the electoral system and is, in essence, a throwback to the smoke filled room in the worst sort way. And I’m somewhat a fan of the old days of the smoke filled room, but this is pathetic.

It’s the kind of scheme that elected dictators of the likes of Vladimir Putin dream up when political pressure gets high enough that they need to step out of the office. Wait… Vladimir Putin IS ENACTING it!

It’s the kind of thing that shows up in Latin America, cf. Puntofijismo. It might have been OK for a while but lead to the inevitable stagnation down the road that gave the world my buddy Hugo Chavez.

I’m sure Karl Rove got semi-hard when he was hanging in Dick’s secure, undisclosed location thinking about this sort of thing, but then laughed when he realized that one’s never going to the altar with him….

This is America. We can, and should, do better than this pathetic scheme.

So deep is the hate-juice among some conservatives for John McCain that they favor an opponent over the possible (likely?—in this crazy campaign, I’m not going to say that) nominee of their own party. Jimmie Dobson has been rumbling again, for instance, and Limbaugh has been working himself into a faux-frothing-at-the-mouth fury. This more or less reminds me of the hard-core Green Party Nader voters of 2000. It’s a long standing theme in American politics going back decades when a party splits into its component factions. But nothing tops this little gem:

Of course, it’s been making the rounds and chances are good you’ve seen it already, though if you haven’t, watching Colmes’ reaction to Ann is damn funny. No, if there’s anything new to this, it’s Ann’s little line on John McCain “he has led the fight against torture at Guantanamo” about a minute in. Has “torture” been turned into a one-word talking point? WTF?

Mind-twisting quasi-logic of the John Yoo variety I understand (he is a law professor after all), but Ann goes out of her way to correct Hannity when he uses the term “interrogations”. Props for being honest, I guess, but… whoa. Chuck Norris in the movies might do that, but I’m not sure where the Chuckster stands on it in real life, and Chuck does know the difference, though evidently some conservative commentators don’t understand that ’24’ is a TV show. (Anyone know?)

Discuss!

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ObFascism Tag: Can’t you just see Ann as one of Josef Goebbels’ girlfriends in a different life?