Now that I've seen my first piece of genuine Occupy Wall Street humor (other than on protest signs), it's time for a post I always wanted to write: a fond look back at what passed for funny in the early years of the reign of Bush II (approximately 2001 through 2005).
The political humor of those days was not like the political humor of today. It was crude. It was unsophisticated. But despite that, it served a truly vital purpose. It freed the fear-paralyzed Internet commentariat to say things that you literally weren't allowed to say aloud in polite company -- not with the horrors of a massive terror attack still so fresh, the fears about national security, even the censorship of "Freedom Fries." And of course you couldn't say anything bad about our two righteous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In other words, it was real humor, somewhat like the sort you get in wartime, or in the midst of a repressive Communist regime. (The Russians were famous for their humor, but many people think it was the East Germans who had the best jokes.)
Some oldies, but goodies, included:
Having observed the OWS movement and the response to it by police departments and local government authorities, my impulse is to step back and attempt to look at the overarching dynamic that is unfolding. This dynamic seems to be playing out through both parties in the conflict. (I write these down in no particular order of significance.)
The main thing I notice about the American middle class today is how prone to magical thinking they are.
Among the victims of Continental Flight 3407 was Alison Des Forges, one of the foremost human rights investigators and experts on Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and the history of Africa in general. She was probably best known as the author of the landmark Human Rights Watch report on the Rwandan genocide, Leave None to Tell the Story.
Des Forges was a native of Schenectady, New York, educated at Harvard and Yale as a historian, and she received a MacArthur "genius grant" in 1999, which was also the year that her four years of research on the Rwandan genocide was published for Human Rights Watch. Her work on Rwanda was perhaps less well known than that of Philip Gourevitch or Samantha Power, but it is arguably the definitive chronology and analysis of one of the great horrors of the 20th century.
I just had to pass on this link to a new NYT story about the Clinton campaign's plans to use the Rodham family's working-class background in Scranton to solidify her status there in favorable parts of Pennsylvania.
The comment I'd like to make on this: In 2000, Hillary ran for Senator, where it was thought (and rightly so) that Upstate New York would tough ground for her to take. It didn't turn out to be, so much; she was pretty successful at playing First Lady and keeping Bill highly visible on a leash. That worked... eight years ago.
However, if she'd ever used the "Scranton strategy" with Upstate voters, it probably would have worked very well for her. Although there are no coal mines here, a lot of Upstate New York is in the so-called "Dunder Mifflin Triangle" - same working-class history, hit by the same globalization forces, same determination to survive.
The most powerful Democratic bloc of voters? A lot of theories have been advanced about this, but let's look at who really has power during a time of increasing economic turmoil... that would be the Democratic voters who are financially and physically secure.
Not necessarily the young ones. Not necessarily the ones from this or that state. Not necessarily the well-connected ones. Not necessarily the well-educated ones. But the financially and physically secure ones.
Not necessarily wealthy. However, decoupled from the vicissitudes of the collapsing housing bubble; not facing any major mortgage payments or student debt; maybe with just a sawbuck in their wallet today, and living in an unfashionable neighborhood or "just getting by" - but getting by on their own resources, more or less, not so much on borrowed ones.
More thoughts below...
It looks as if Darrel Aubertine has won the special election for New York's 48th Senate district seat over Will Barclay. With almost all districts reporting in, Aubertine has a firm 2500-vote lead which is probably not going to suffer a challenge from uncounted absentee ballots.
If you haven't been following this "insignificant" state race, it has broad implications for the political future of America's third most populous state, as the Democrats now appear to be within ONE seat of controlling the state legislature for the first time in decades. In other words, this would be a huge win for Eliot Spitzer and a crushing (perhaps final) defeat for Joe Bruno.
More importantly, this election took place in one of New York's most rural Senate districts, where a heavy snowstorm did not faze a huge turnout of Democrats and independents who came out to vote for Aubertine.
You can read more coverage at The Albany Project or the Watertown Daily Times.
Or, "Kumbaya Ain't Gonna Do It This Time."
Regardless of who gets the Democratic nomination and who wins the general election, I think it's safe to say there's going to be a lot of disgruntled people out there still upset that the most progressive candidate didn't win.
If Obama gets the nomination, what will disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters do? How will they reorganize? What sort of private little wars will they get into with the Republican right, and how destructive to political stability will they be? Will Obama be able to lead the Democratic Party? Will he be able to control any street skirmishes beyond Washington between diehard old Clintonites and their diehard old conservative enemies?
I hadn't seen this diaried or commented on here, but thought I would pass on these observations on Obama and the white Catholic vote - a so-called "Catechism Gap":
If there really is one, it would explain why Obama didn't win Massachusetts and why Ted Kennedy's endorsement didn't seem to hold much water.
The blogger at Polysigh seems to think this trend might put Obama at a definite disadvantage in Ohio and Pennsylvania, which he points out as culturally similar to NY and MA and with significant percentages of Democrats who are white Catholics.
What do you think? And why is this happening? (racism, class divide, or something else?)
Rep. Jim Walsh's break with the White House on the war, diaried yesterday here, was obviously not an overnight decision but had been planned for some time, with his trip to Iraq over the weekend obviously just a formality. The headline on today's Syracuse Post-Standard is My Iraq Journal, by Jim Walsh, in which the nine-term Congressman lays out in full detail (perhaps deeply annoying and disingenuous, to Democrats) his rationale.
Walsh, of course, is facing a second serious challenge for his seat from Dan Maffei in NY-25, so his political reasons for doing this are pretty transparent. The guy desperately wants to keep his job. However, this article is worth reading only because it shows how the mind of a rank-and-file Republican works, and also probably reflects the attitudes of many Americans who initially supported the war.
I know this isn't really a state politics site, but there are so many New Yorkers who post here, that I am curious to know everyone's take on the Eliot Spitzer situation. Yes, my diary title is probably objectionable to some. Bruno isn't exactly smelling like a rose either, and the whole thing stinks. But what else do you call it when a governor who swept into office riding mainly on an image of ethical reform and "law and order" winds up embroiled in an embarrassing scandal that gets uglier by the hour? (For those not up to date on what's going on, here's a link to today's developments.)
This sentiment was inspired by a diary on Booman Tribune that I read...
For all of its sturm und drang... does the progressive blogosphere actually have a concrete declaration of sentiments and aims put together? Not necessarily a "platform" -- just a simple, articulable manifesto?
For the last four or five years, the blogosphere has been nauseatingly crammed with talk about "movements" -- either of bloggers, of political parties, or of candidates -- and yet, when you ask about where the manifestos for these movements are, all you get is a blank look.
"We're having a conference in New York," someone will say to you.
Great. When will the manifesto be presented?
"We're having breakaway working groups. You can sign up for as many as you want. And then, the keynote event will be an address by [insert famous politician name here]."
Terrific. When will you read the manifesto?