More presidential stuff

Recently, I’ve been addicted to following the presidential election.

Votepair, a vote-swapping service, allows people in safe states who support Kerry or Bush to swap votes with voters in swing states who favor third party candidates.

Steve Sailer argues that Kerry’s IQ is lower than Bush’s. (hint: not to be taken seriously!). Actually this is more interesting more for its history of psychometrics and the military’s use of aptitude tests than for saying anything substantial about the candidates. Steve Sailer is a committed conservative with interesting ideas about immigration, ethicity and other social issues.

Reason magazine asks intellectuals/celebrities to reveal who they plan to vote for and what vote they are most embarrassed about. Says Nick Gillespie:

Favorite president: Richard Nixon, who has done more in my lifetime than any other U.S. pol to discredit the idea that government should wield massive and unexamined power over citizens.

Here’s a photo of the three teachers who were kicked out of a Republican party rally for their inflammatory t-shirts. Wow, they look like dangerous anarchists to me. Again, here’s the relevant link.
Teachers kicked out of Republican rally

Progressives and democrats have done a really good job at countering Republican distortions with their ads. For example, an irrational bit of Republican fear-mongering called “wolves” was countered with a better video, Eagles by the Democrats.

If you have not already looked at Moveonpac’s 10 weeks videos, they are brilliant and amazing. Hint: you can access all 10 weeks of videos by registering/logging in. If you don’t like that idea, just use my email: idiotprogrammer at for the login (no password necessary). The Jimmy the Cab Driver comic commercials are some of the funniest (and most effective) political ads I’ve ever seen. (The actor playing Jimmy apparently plays this character on MTV, and the political ads, though obviously meant for humor, have nice cinematic touches. In the most recent ad, Jimmy the Cabdriver talks about the necessity of US acting like a bully while the passenger in the backseat is nursing a small wound on his head, looking ahead resentfully.

I really like these ads, but I have to wonder if the American public has already been oversaturated with this sort of propaganda. Comedy shows are already doing a substantial amount of political jokes; my mother (!) watches Jon Stewart religiously.

Also, following Mickey Kaus from Slate, always a good observer of politics. Back in the days when I was subscribing to the New Republic, I was reading Kaus, Sullivan, Mortin Kondracke, Fred Barnes, Louis Menard, Robert Kuttner, Robert Reich and others on a regular basis. Then, after New Republic rejected my internship application, in 1989, I grew less enamored of their causticism. I’m sure a New Republic internship was a plum assignment many young liberals sought, but I remember having submitting some incredible thought pieces as writing samples. It just seemed impossible for them to not recognize its brilliance I’m not being ironic here–they were really great! Two great book reviews and three political editorials, one of which advocated the overturning of the Fallwell v. Hustler (a year after the piece ran in my college paper, it happened), another warned of the looming threat of litigation for tobacco companies (this was 1987 when I wrote it). That’s one of the tough things about journalism and political commentary. It has to be fresh and obsessed with the present, not the future or the past. Later on, I started reading pieces by the interns who beat me, and most were writing puff interviews with political wierdos in D.C. or hatchet jobs. (This realization that New Republic was more interested in partisan reporting than commentary caused me to cancel my subscription). Looking back, I see now, that internships and other fulltime opportunities rarely pan out; publications like New Republic never really paid that much, and really freelancing seemed a better way to make use of the magazine. Unfortunately, if you’re trying to write about a topical subject for a political journal, and if it takes at least a week for the editors to actually read pieces from the slushpile, then freelancers lose a lot in terms of freshness. For better or worse, political reporters seem to be better off working for thinktanks for a few years where their research and policy analysis is supported by a place like the Brookings Institute or the American Enterprise Institute. Fortunately, the blogging world makes it easier to let your voice be heard quickly. Right now, American Prospect magazine (and their Tapped weblog) seems to be the breeding ground for new progressive writers, and young Matthew Yglesias seems to be the best political commentator I’ve seen.



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