Tag Archives: politics

Now that’s change we can all believe in

japanese_model
The Secretary of Agriculture will see you now

Here in America, becankled hockey mom Sarah Palin slaps on a pair of designer glasses and a Supercuts hairdo and is immediately the most attractive national politician since Rutherford B. Hayes scandalized Washington with his off-white petticoats.

In Japan, they took things a step further. Why? Because it’s Japan. And Japan is six cuckoo clocks on a sombrero crazy. And awesome:

Japanese reporters and political commentators have dubbed the DPJ’s 26 new female Diet members, many of them young and attractive, the “Ozawa girls” after former party boss Ichiro Ozawa, mastermind of the campaign strategy. In addition to Isogai, the group includes a former sex-industry reporter who has appeared in a provocative photo spread and an erotic movie; a pretty former television reporter; and a 28-year-old activist who gained celebrity after leading a well-publicized legal battle against the government after contracting hepatitis C from a tainted blood transfusion.

The strategy helped propel the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to a sweeping victory over the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The LDP had held power for decades before the DPJ realized that “hot girls” was a viable election strategy in a country in which you can buy used panties from vending machines.

Naturally, the effort has its doubters who say that simply casting about for hot ladiezzz and then putting them in power is not exactly going to help:

“I do not think the DPJ made a serious effort to recruit qualified women. They just wanted to have some kind of flowers,” said Kumiko Shindo, a professor of gender studies at Toyo Eiwa University. “They will never let them into decision-making or put them in important positions.”

However, many in Japan see things differently. A Tokyo University poll found that when shown pictures of the neophyte politicians, 67% of Japanese penises said “Boiiiiiiiiiing!!” while another 22% said “Ooooooohohhhh!!” The remaining 11% had no opinion.

Politics meets porn in Japan [Global Post]

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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]

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Mirko Geffken should prepare for the shitstorm

Pax Arcana

While most of those displeased with the results of Tuesday night’s election merely vented on their Facebook statuses (statii?), one local businessman took things a giant douchey step beyond that.

According to Jeff Cutler (via Universal Hub), Mirko Geffken is the owner of Aspiant, a retardedly named consulting company based in Cambridge, MA. Just minutes after the major networks announced Obama’s victory in the presidential race Tuesday night, Geffken fired off an email to all employees saying that the company would be revoking its contributions to their healthcare plans.

scrooge1
Mirko Geffken, aka Scrooge McFuck

And, for reasons that defy comprehension, travel reimbursements are being revoked as well.

Here’s how Geffken explained the move to his employees:

I regret having to move in this direction, but this is the partially the cost of doing business in the state of Massachusetts and the impact that future policies will have on this organization.

I can only hope that future elections will provide a more positive environment for business or further measures will have to be taken.

Further measures should be forefront on Geffken’s brain, I would think, as this maneuver has all the markings of a bad PR shitstorm hurricane tornado. Bostonist has already declared him the “douche of the week,” and I suspect it won’t belong before this story ends up on Digg and Fark and Reddit and all kinds of other sites that nerds (like those Geffken would want to hire one day for his IT consultancy) like to read.

I’ll refrain from piling on, since Geffken will undoubtedly hear it from all corners (Cutler posted his office telephone number) — but I would advise Mirko Geffken to get his toilet paper umbrella ready, ’cause here it comes…

Healthcare mandatory in MA? Evidently not at Aspiant [Jeff Cutler]
Company blames Massachusetts voters for its decision to eliminate health-insurance coverage [Universal Hub]
Douche of the Week: Mirko Geffken Stops Paying His Employees’ Health Insurance
[Bostonist]

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Last one, I promise

Pax Arcana

As globe-hopping dilettante Father Scott (I’ve sent him on the Grand Tour to mingle with the upper crust of the Europe — and hopefully touch a boobie or two) points out in the comments to this post, Pax Arcana has veered far from its anti-political mission statement of late. Obviously that’s my fault, as I was consumed by my breathless stupidity and sold out our nation’s future to a terrorist celebrity socialist who is going to appoint gangsta rappers to his cabinet and maybe try to close some corporate tax loopholes or something.

Barring any hilarious or totally obscure zombie, baseball, or science related angles to the big story of the year, we will refrain from mentioning it again.

journalist_waitwhutBut first, you have GOT to read this article on the Newsweek Web site. Basically it’s a collection of nuggets gathered during the campaign that were not released — for various reasons — during the home stretch. In it, we discover that Sarah Palin may or may not have spent way more than the reported $150,000 on clothes and shit for her family, that John McCain consistently demonstrated basic human decency when directing the tone of his campaign only to be sold out but good by Civil Rights (and Pax Arcana) hero John Lewis, and that Barack Obama hates debating because Brian Williams asks stupid questions:

The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that’s green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”

OK. That is all.

Hackers and Spending Sprees [Newsweek]

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It could be worse

americanflagjog

Pax Arcana

I once heard Garrison Keillor — famous public radio personality and writer of mostly-boring things for the hummus and pita set — riff on the central philosophical underpinning of the even-keeled Scandinavians of the upper midwest. The theory is that these lumbering squareheads maintain a certain equilibrium by greeting all news, good or bad, with the following mantra:

“It could be worse.”

Here’s a clip from an essay he wrote that sums it up:

Whatever bonehead things we’ve done, we have not yet put our tongue on the pump handle and let it freeze there, and this is a fact not to be overlooked. There are pump handles around, and in freezing weather they become lethal. You walk past them and they exert a powerful force on your body, particularly on your tongue. Imagine the misery of standing, tongue frozen to the iron, waiting for the firemen to come and pry you loose. In my darker hours, ever since I was 6 and went trotting off to Benson School, I have imagined that the pump handle would be my fate, but so far I have avoided it, and you too, my friend. Together, once again we hope to come through the cold season with our tongues intact, and if we do, then winter has no grip on us. It could be worse.

Anyway, I was trolling the Facebook statuses of my millions of adoring fans this morning, and it turns out some of them are displeased by the nation’s electoral decision last night. Reading their first reactions to the result is like taking a swan dive into a well of broken glass and menaced delusional fantasies about the man most of us chose to lead us out of this morass.

I sincerely don’t wish these people to suffer for their political choices. Despite the antagonism between the two sides during the campaign, I hope with all my heart that Barack Obama lives up to his pledge to be the president of all Americans — not just those of us who punched our chads in his favor.

But surely that sentiment alone will do little to quell the anger and frustration of those on the losing end of this election. In fact it may come across as patronizing or demeaning.

So the best I can offer my friends on the far side of the chasm is this:

It could be worse. And I have proof.

Your chosen candidate did not succeed, but at least you weren’t hit by a motherfucking rocket like this poor asshole:

County Antrim Shield Final Cliftonville v Linfield  4/11/2008

Pictured: The dramatic moment a footballer is hit by a rocket fired by opposition supporters [Daily Mail]

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You’re all a bunch of fucking racists

Pax Arcana

obama_capitolI’m writing this Tuesday night at 6 p.m., an hour before the first polls close on the east coast. And while I don’t know the “official” results of the presidential election yet, my intimate knowledge of district-level politics and the “Bradley effect” means I know the results beforehand. Here is my assessment of this election:

You’re all a bunch of fucking racists.

Everyone agrees that half-retard paintsniffer Republican president George W. Bush basically ruined the entire nation and wiped his ass with our collective reputation for the past eight years. But when presented with a choice between a brilliant young Democrat with an agenda of specific, needed changes and an erratic establishment Republican who carried Bush’s greasy water for eight years, you goddamn racist assholes dug deep into your rotten psyches and resurfaced with an act of cowardice so profound that it defies description.

I hope the whole fucking bunch of you dies in a house fire that a black firefighter refuses to put out.

Update: never mind.

obama_elected

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Why are we getting littler?

Pax Arcana

Easily the best part of the first presidential debate on Friday night was when Arizona Senator and befuddled old man John McCain launched into a brief non sequitor about South Koreans being an average of three inches taller than North Koreans.

That the data point sprung seemingly out of nowhere was hilarious. That it ignored the shrinking down of the average American was downright unpatriotic. According to the New York Times, we’ve got our own Napoleonic complex in the works:

While the conditions for North Koreans are troubling, Americans have a similar height gap to worry about, and it also appears to be due to a lower standard of living, poor health care and inadequate nutrition. Last summer, the journal Social Science Quarterly reported that Americans are, quite literally, falling short of Europeans. In 1880, Americans were the tallest people in the world. But by 2000, American men, at an average height of 5-feet-10.5-inches, ranked 9th, and women, at about 5-feet-5-inches, fell to 15th. Several Northern European countries rank the highest in height, with the Dutch coming in first, at just over 6 feet for the men and 5-feet-7-inches for the women.


The new American paradigm

Obviously the reason for this is immigration. The massive influx of short people from countries such as Mexico, China, and, um, Mexo-china, must really be messing with averages, right?

The height gap between Americans and Northern Europeans can’t be explained by an influx of short immigrants. Experts say the United States takes in too few immigrants to account for the disparity, and the height statistics cited in the article include only English-speaking native-born Americans, and don’t include people of Asian and Hispanic descent.

OK. So what’s the problem, then? It’s not like our newfound shortness has anything to do with our moms feeding us Diet Coke from the bottle and us spending the entirety of our high school years eating nothing but McRib sandwiches, right?

According to Mr. Bilger, researchers have found that Americans lose the most height to Northern Europeans in infancy and adolescence, “which implicates pre- and post-natal care and teenage eating habits.”

Of course we are free to ignore all of this, because it relies on so-called “facts” gathered by people doing “research.” And as we all know, these “facts” are nothing more than ammunition for America-hating propaganda rags like the New York Times to make us feel small — in this case quite literally.

Short North Koreans . . . and Americans [NYT]

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