Tag Archives: Obama

You’re all a bunch of homophiliacs

Pax Arcana

I’ve often wondered what a hard-bitten Texas conservative — who had never ventured outside his home state — would think if suddenly dropped into my neighborhood for a few weeks.

obama_fairey_buy_me1Priuses outnumber pickups by at least 10-1 in my neighborhood, and the next time I see a McCain/Palin bumper sticker will probably be the first. In the Somerville/Cambridge area, Obama was a cinch.

According to this article in the Washington Post, this exact kind of political clustering is on the rise. Today, nearly half of all Americans live in “landslide counties,” where the 2008 election saw Obama or McCain take the county’s votes by a margin greater than 20%. When I was born (1976), only about 25% of Americans lived in landslide counties.

What does it mean? Well, for one thing, it means we’re full of shit when we say we want to live in diverse communities:

“Americans tell survey researchers they prefer to live in diverse communities, but this country’s residential patterns suggest otherwise,” said Paul Taylor, who directs the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends Project. The question is why.

“Do some people gravitate toward communities so they can be among neighbors who share their political views?” Taylor and his colleague Richard Morin asked in a recent report. “Alternatively, does living in a politically homogeneous community diminish people’s appetite for diversity?”

The term for political/residential clustering is “homophily.” The article’s author suggests a number of possible reasons for it.

One possibility is that neighborhood residents adopt similar points of view to avoid upsetting the apple cart. Other researchers say the problem is closely tied to race, since the Democratic party decided to be the first to support civil rights and other wildly dangerous ideas — thereby thrusting most white southerners into the Republican party.

But I find the third explanation the most plausible. According to Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing, increasingly mobile people don’t select neighborhoods based explicitly on political sentiment (yard signs, bumper stickers, etc.). Instead they choose to live with people who shop like they do:

john_mccain“These are the kinds of differences that are political in America today,” Bishop and Cushing said in an e-mail they composed together. “People don’t see themselves as members of demographic groups — a white working-class man, an educated woman. Like the woman in California who described herself to us as an ‘ocean-oriented person,’ Americans define themselves by their interests: the bands they listen to, the foods they eat, the sports they follow, the spiritual beliefs they adopt.”

Political polarization, according to this explanation, is a consumer phenomenon: You like Cheerios; I like Wheaties. Americans have lots of choices — you can live in a cul-de-sac surrounded by fellow Mormons, or in a gay enclave, or in a neighborhood where yoga studios outnumber fast-food outlets.

Lifestyle choices, in turn, determine political loyalties as voters search for candidates who feel like “one of us.”

This explains a lot. I, for one, think President Obama would be an excellent choice to write a blog about random cultural detritus and zombies and baseball.

Why the Ideological Melting Pot Is Getting So Lumpy [Washington Post]


Leave a comment

Filed under politics

That’s how he rolls

Pax Arcana


For decades, U.S. presidents have ridden in vehicles retrofitted with all sorts of safety devices to protect them from harm. Now that our president is a black man — and most Americans are frothing-at-the-mouth gun-clutching psychopath racists — the folks at General Motors decided to go above and beyond.

Take a look at Barack Obama’s new wheels:

Limo One is believed to weigh between seven and eight tons, and spy shots suggest it rides on a GM medium-duty truck chassis propelled by a diesel engine. The body is sheathed in military-grade armor as much as 8 inches thick on the doors (each of which weighs as much as the cabin door on a Boeing 747, Motor Authority says). The armor reportedly is a mix of dual-hardness steel, aluminum, titanium and ceramic. The windows are ballistic glass said to be 5 inches thick, and Dan Neil of the Los Angeles Times says there’s probably a woven Kevlar mat covering the floorboard to protect the car from blasts. The cabin is believed to feature a sealed air recirculation system to protect its occupants from chemical attacks.

The lesson seems to be that potential assassins have to get really close to the car before pulling the trigger. I mean, it’s not like the presidential fleet is outfitted with guns that can cut a building in half.

Oh wait. There is this:

I think I just swallowed my own tongue.

Obama Rolls In An Armored Cadillac Stagecoach [Wired]

Leave a comment

Filed under science




Filed under culture

Democrats hate a winner

Pax Arcana

Via Universal Hub comes this hilarious nugget from the San Francisco Sentinel’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention last night. In case you missed it — while you were openly mocking Alex Rodriguez and the hilariously retarded children of George Steinbrenner — the Democrats officially nominated Barack Obama last night.

Here’s what happened when it was Massachusetts’ turn:

There were a few boos at one point — when Massachusetts cast its vote and gave a nod to its sports teams, the Red Sox and the Celtics, the current baseball and basketball champions.

Rumor has it those same boo-birds almost booed New York’s celebration of the Superbowl champion Giants, but stopped short when a dozen union chiefs lifted their index fingers to their lips in unison. It would be a shame if all of Iowa’s building permits were to, you know, get lost or something…

Booing the Great State of Massachusetts [Universal Hub]

Leave a comment

Filed under sports

Young Obama supporters desperate to get punched in the face

Pax Arcana

Because of his relative youth and distinct lack of not being a pasty old crankpot, Barack Obama is often compared to John F. Kennedy. But where Kennedy was successful in drawing a line between the old guard and the new and inspire the young people of America to work for a better future, Obama inspires young people to pretend their middle names are “Hussein.”

From the Times:

Jeff Strabone of Brooklyn now signs credit card receipts with his newly assumed middle name, while Dan O’Maley of Washington, D.C., jiggered his e-mail account so his name would appear as “D. Hussein O’Maley.” Alex Enderle made the switch online along with several other Obama volunteers from Columbus, Ohio, and now friends greet him that way in person, too.

The article describes young people adding the moniker to their Facebook profiles, because if shit’s happening on Facebook, it must be something all the youngs are doing.

In solidarity with their candidate, John McCain supporters are changing their middle names to “LiverandOnions.” The hard part is etching that many letters into your Life Alert bracelet.

Obama Supporters Take His Name as Their Own [New York Times]


Filed under media

The New York Times knows not to sleep on Derrick Ashong

Pax Arcana

Last month, we highlighted this triumphant YouTube video featuring former friend (Pax Amicus Emeritus) Derrick Ashong holding forth on the relative merits of Obama’s health care plan vs. Clinton’s.

The video has since been viewed on YouTube nearly a million times (not to mention all the blog embedding that I think gets ignored in those tallies).

These days, even a minor YouTube celebrity doesn’t go long without a profile in one of the major dailies. Today it was David Carr at the New York Times, who today examines Derrick and his newfound fame:

At a time when politics and popular culture are still in an awkward mating ritual, Mr. Ashong inadvertently tapped into the youthquake that is shaking up the campaign. While the clip could have been lost among some of the popular rubble at YouTube (“Let me see, do I watch a tutorial on health care or Tori Spelling on ‘Jimmy Kimmel’?”), Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic blogged about it, as did Think on These Things, a political blog. Then The Economist chimed in, which led to an editor at The New York Times hearing about it and — well, you get the idea.

Part of what is under way has to do with a subversion of expectations. Watch broadcast news and you will see any number of man-on-the-street interviews. In this trope, a person with good hair solicits an enthusiastic sound bite from a supporter, pats her on the head and then moves on. derrick_ashong.gifBut in this instance, neither party played by the rules. The journalist is never seen and is extremely aggressive in asking questions, while the subject, Mr. Ashong, does not so much take the bait as reel in the guy setting it out there.

Yeah, yeah, yeah — but what about Derrick and his adorable ears?

Mr. Ashong, with an audience of more than a million so far, thinks he knows what made the difference for him. “My ears, I have really cute ears,” he said.

They do stick out a bit, along with the space that lies between them.

More Than a Sound Bite, This Clip Has Some Teeth [New York Times]


Filed under Uncategorized