Apple Moan of The Day

So why can’t these Genius playlists work on the iPhone, Steve? Steve?

A Moment

I’m trying to keep this in mind.

Reading For August

Trying something new. Heavens.

Nixonland, Rick Perlstein.

The first thing that struck me about this book is that I didn't realise just how bad things were in the 1960s. Protests, yes. Unrest, sure. But report after report of rioting, snipers, police brutality, lynchings, and the rest, all ripped from newspapers and TV coverage of the era really do make you feel that America was almost in the grip of a second civil war. The second thing is the familiarity of the 'dirty tricks' that Nixon used. You can see them every day on Fox News. The pushing against 'liberal elites', cowing the media, dog-whistles, and out-and-out lying are all prime Nixon strategies (a young Karl Rove cut his teeth in the 1972 election). And finally, so many names that strike a chord. Romney Sr., Daley Sr., Al Gore Sr., etc. There is a huge streak of dynasty in American politics that I didn't fully comprehend. As you can imagine, a somewhat depressing read.

Fear & Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72, Hunter S. Thompson

Part of my US election ritual. Every four years, I re-read this book (admittedly, I only started this ritual in 2000, so it's only the third time I've done this). It's a wonderful political journal that throws out objectivity in its first few pages; every chapter is brimming with hate towards Nixon, but yet even more vicious invective is reserved for the Democratic machine desperately trying to stop McGovern from getting the nomination. Thankfully, it's also hilarious, right up until the last few months where it's apparent that Nixon is going to win, and win big.

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá

Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol crossed with The Royal Tenenbaumns and written by the singer of My Chemical Romance? Yes please! It perhaps started out a little more promisingly than it finished, but then the first part had the Umbrella Academy facing off against Zombie Gustav Eiffel, and it's difficult to top that.

Fashioning Technology, Syuzi Pakhchyan

I'm in another of my crafty moods. Should I make a magnetic wallet that glows in the dark and blinks when it encounters a mobile phone signal? I really don't have too much time on my hands, honest. I'm working on a few projects for my return to November, and this book is just what I needed - how to sew electronic circuits!

The Predator State, James K. Galbraith

The free market has failed. Conservatives realised this many years ago, and it's time that the Left did the same, according to Galbraith. He berates the current orthodoxy for balanced budgets and applying free-market economics to places where it cannot, and will not work, taking a side jaunt at the beginning to explain the death of monetarism, supply-side economics, and how the Reagan boom was caused as much by Keynesian principles as much as anything else (I've heard a similar argument about us during the same time, but haven't had the chance to explore that just yet). Just what you need on a Friday night, obviously. Whether any of it is applicable to Britain, I don't know; a lot of his argument rests on the idea that America occupies a special position in the economic world which we don't. Somehow, I don't think he's a fan of Obama's fiscal policy...

This month looks like finishing up my trip around B. S. Johnson's works and making a start on the architecture/urban planning books I've been stockpiling. No, I don't know, either. Either a career in public policy beckons, or I've gone mad. So, it's the latter.

Rudy Can't Fail

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says if Sarah Palin had been president when the U.S. came under attack on Sept. 11, 2001, he's confident she would have been able to handle the crisis.

I’ve missed him, haven’t you?

(She’s going to give the best speech of the convention tonight, I assure you)

Eagleton Countdown: Day 5

One Republican strategist with close ties to the campaign described the candidate's closest supporters as "keeping their fingers crossed" in hopes that additional information does not force McCain to revisit the decision. According to this Republican, who would discuss internal campaign strategizing only on condition of anonymity, the McCain team used little more than a Google Internet search as part of a rushed effort to review Palin's potential pitfalls. Just over a week ago, Palin was not on McCain's short list of potential running mates, the Republican said.

Ten years on, I think it's a horrible indictment of Google that it's still not good enough for VP vetting...

UPDATE: Oh, bless. Where have we heard this one before?

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - E-mails from the Palin administration are being withheld from the public and the governor is citing executive privilege.

She's Not Bree

I didn’t actually mention the rumour in the previous post, but seeing as how even Andrew Sullivan is going at the story with gusto, here’s why I think that the baby really is Palin’s:

  • The McCain team is not that stupid. Really.
  • More importantly, Sarah Palin doesn’t strike me as that stupid. Given what happened to John Edwards just a few weeks ago, she’d have to be crazy to think that she could get away with such a wild story. In addition to ruining her career, by accepting the VP nomination she’d also expose her daughter to ridicule, oh, and as an aside, completely sink the McCain campaign and the GOP’s prospects for November. There’s no way she’s that insane.
  • How many people would need to be in on this? Doctors and nurses at the hospital for sure. Too many for it to stay a secret.
  • Finally, yes, it is a little odd that she flew from Texas back to Alaska after her waters broke. Or that she went to Texas at all. But it’s on the side of odd that seems to strengthen the case against the rumour – because if her daughter was the pregnant one, then they’d do everything they could to make it not seem suspicious. So Palin wouldn’t have gone to Texas at all.

Can we please get back to the issues and leave the rest to Desperate Housewives?

UPDATE: See! Her daughter wasn’t pregnant…she just is now.

Exposure: North And South

Aside from Dick Cheney’s drastic break with the past, the Office of The Vice-President traditionally doesn’t amount to much more than somebody sitting around waiting for the end of their term or for the President to suddenly drop dead. Sure, they get dragged out every now and then to give a speech, to go on the attack when the President either will not or cannot, but in general, they have very little power except for their tie-breaking vote in the Senate. The classic example is LBJ, who went from being the House Leader of the Senate in 1960 to VP in 1961. Initially thought that he would be about to continue his hold over the Democratic Party from his new office, but the Senate essentially laughed in his face, sending him back to sit on his hands until an assassin brought him the Presidency.

(incidentally: LBJ - the greatest liberal President of the 20th century? Perhaps…)

In addition, the slot means extremely little on the election ticket itself either. George Bush got elected with Dan Quayle by his side, after all. In recent memory, the only time that the choice has been a big impact was in 1972. George McGovern had just won the primary campaign for the Democratic nomination. This culminated in a vicious floor-fight at the convention itself (for those of you thinking that this current primary was cut-throat, the 1972 campaign would shock you. Clinton vs. Obama is tiddlywinks in comparison) where the McGovernites carried the day with a brilliant series of carefully-chosen floor votes that guaranteed that their delegates would be enough to give them victory (see Fear & Loathing On The Campaign Trail 1972 for a full explanation). Unfortunately, whilst they had the prize, some of the party was so disgusted with the idea of the anti-war McGovern being their pick that they openly talked about supporting Nixon instead. McGovern badly needed to pick a Vice-President that would unite the party together.

So he called Ed Muskie and Hubert Humphrey, the two heavyweight candidates that he had just beaten. They turned him down. He begged Ted Kennedy to join the ticket, but no Kennedy was going to accept anything less than top billing. The decision had to be made quickly. Running out of time, McGovern offered the slot to Thomas Eagleton, a senator from Missouri. A safe choice; a disappointment perhaps to the New Left, but his links with unions would help shore up the Democrats’ faltering support amongst blue-collar workers.

He didn’t last a month. By the end of July (he was selected on July 14th), the papers were full of reports of hospitalisations for physical and nervous exhaustion during the 1960s that he had neglected to tell the McGovern team about. To make matters worse, he had also received electo-shock treatment during these periods, leading many to think that he was too unstable to be second-in-command. McGovern initially stood firm in his support for Eagleton, but by the second week in August, after continual press mockery, he dropped him from the ticket, fatally injuring his support amongst his base, and went down to Nixon in one of the worst electoral defeats in American history.

This may mean nothing, of course. But Sarah Palin appears to have been selected in a similar manner of haste; a desperate attempt to steal the news cycle away from the greatest speech American politics has seen in a generation. And that worked, but at what cost? The experience angle of attack against Obama has been taken off the table, McCain’s age is now brought into sharp focus, and the idea that she may peel off disgruntled Hillary voters is deeply condescending considering that they only thing her and Palin seem to have in common is that they both have ovaries. In addition, whilst she’s not as mired in corruption as most of the Alaskan GOP, she appears to have a few troubles of her own (there’s also rumours of Eagleton-level scandal floating around the Internet, but I refuse to believe that the McCain team would be that stupid to not have debunked those even in the limited vetting time they had available). This after a Democratic Convention that fell in lockstep with Obama, delivered a consistent message, and even made John Kerry look like an interesting and funny person.

I could be wrong, of course. This could be the game-changing event that turns things in favour of McCain; Palin may be able to make Biden come across as a bully in the VP debate. But even the media, the biggest McCain-apologists around, seem mystified and even a little annoyed at this choice. If he loses them, the Republicans may be in for a rout come November…

Classy To The End

“The Republicans can’t seem to get a break when it comes to August and when it comes to the weather,” said Rove, a FOX News analyst.

I'm sure NOLA shares your pain.

Great Krypton!

Superman: Beyond is completely impenetrable: written in a strange hyperlanguage known only to Grant Morrison, reviving a pet storyline last seen almost twenty ago, featuring a character designed to annoy Alan Moore, guest starring the Yellow Submarine, and requiring 3-D glasses to read properly.

It is, obviously, wonderful.

A Noun, A Verb, and POW

He’s turning into Rudy, isn’t he?