Full-contact reflections on culture, race, politics, art, music, media, literature, and Washington D.C.
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"You ask what I am?"
"Why, a machine. But even in that answer we know, don't we, more than a machine. I am all the people who thought of me and planned me and built me and set me running. So I am people. I am all the things they wanted to be and perhaps could not be, so they built a great child, a wondrous toy to represent those things."
I walk around town with my pen strapped down to my side, no frontin', just in case I gotta write something. Surrounded by political articles, a pile of spent roaches, and digital wonders of the new and last millenniums wondering how art & humor persist while the walls of society crumble around us. How do you crack jokes during the Depression? Who paints during a World War? I feel like a citizen in the last days of Rome or the early Thirteenth Dynasty of Egypt. And don't get it twisted, I'm not casting a stern eye towards artists at all. How could I? They are the reason many of us carry on.
Passing legislation doesn't inspire us. Elections don't lift our spirits (with a few notable exceptions). No, It's art; music; literature; that touches and inspires us. And the art seems imperative, right? No matter the circumstances we intelligent apes appear compelled to create these pretty things; these beautiful things to elicit feeling in our peers and telegraph our presence to our progeny.
Our urge to mark our place in time has to be hardwired into humanity. On the walls of the most ancient caves our greatest grandparents bombed graffiti to let any inquisitive mind for eons to come know that WE WERE HERE. We existed. We wore clothes a certain way. We sang songs and spoke words a certain way. There were things, people, and ideas that were important to us. That's why we still paint, sculpt, write, sing, dance, run, climb, study, rap, and love.
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I do not believe that both political parties in the U.S. are mirror images of each other; each committing the same or similar offenses in equal magnitude. But, Stewart's criticism of the left is accurate and thoughtful.
For the sake of clarification: "Bush doesn't care about black people" is a little different statement than "Bush is a racist."
You can not care about a group of people without actually holding animosity for that group. I don't care about Kenny G's fans, but that doesn't make me racist towards them, does it? I certainly don't hate Kenny G's fans. I just don't care about them as much as I care about some other groups. Maybe, if the situation arose, I wouldn't do as much for them if they needed assistance.
The power of Kanye's initial emotional statement, "Bush doesn't care about black people" lies in apathy, not racism per se. It was, at the time of Katrina and remains, difficult to imagine a predominately white city garnering the same lack of urgency New Orleans received in the first days of the disaster. Is a lack of urgency or marginal interest really racist? What if you didn't devote your full attention in an emergency to a group that didn't help your electoral chances? Would that be racist?
"George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" is a reflection of conservative thought. Conservatives on the whole seem unable to extend their concern to groups that don't "look" like them. If you are poor-er, black-er, latino-er, gay-er, foreign-er, than most conservatives you will not gain their favor. Conservatives don't care about poor people. Conservatives don't care about gay people. And yes, Conservatives don't care about black people either.
Of course all of this is made more absurd by the fact that somehow GW thinks what Kanye said was the worst moment of his 8 year debacle. Worse than seeing bodies floating in New Orleans? Worse than bodies in Iraq? Afghanistan? Worse than economic collapse? Worse than unemployment skyrocketing?
The story of the 2010 midterm is unemployment. We can talk about messaging or what Democrats supposedly don't understand about flyover country or whatever, but at the end of the day it's the economy and specifically unemployment that have voters scared ishtless (there's also that whole first black President thing, but all other factors being equal, I don't think racial animus toward Obama would have been as pronounced were the economy better).
As long as unemployment remains high there will be no trends in majority control of Congress, Governorships, or the White House. There will be no "permanent" Democratic or Republican majority until the economy improves.
The youth vote and Latino vote COULD make up a new Democratic majority at some point, but not while the economy is so poor.
Some would argue that this election shows the importance of independent voters, but I'm not convinced. These imaginary independents don't really hold as much power as the media would like to believe (see: The Myth of the Independent Voter). Most so-called independents are really Democrats-lite and Republicans-lite who when pressed in polling admit that they vote party line. True independents who have a record of voting for both Dems and Repubs are an extremely small group of uninformed people with spotty turnout records. There's not some mass of reliable middle-of-the-road, independent voters who are convinced one way or another during the lead up to elections
I think the story of this election is that all Republicans including Republicans-lite (so-called independents) were more energized than all Democrats including Democrats-lite (more so-called independents) but that energy will slide to whichever party is out of power while the economy is so dismal.
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DC's League of Women Voters has put together a handy Voter's Guide for tomorrow's election with questions to and answers from our candidates for Mayor, Delegate to the House, and City Council. Must-read material for D.C. residents.
As for Congressional and Governor's races outside D.C., the video below asks some interesting questions to consider before casting your ballot . . .