mr. zilla goes to town

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

event horizon

There's a swollen beltway around Washington outside of which I rarely venture except to another urban metropole. I'm car-free and as a result in a short time feel like I've transitioned from suburbaphobic to downright allergic to them. The strip malls that grow more nakedly hideous in direct proportion to their distance from downtown play no small part in this response. But I digress. It's even further afield, when I'm momentarily flat footed in the countryside that odd things sometimes happen and usually involving enlisted US military personnel. This weekend was one of those times when around 2am Saturday in a campground up in the Shenandoah valley a couple of very inebriated carrier fleet swabbies recently returned from a loooong tour deduced with their buffaloed brain cells that (a) they were in fact special forces ninjas and (b) I was a treasonous terrorist foreign national working for the CIA who had to be taken personally (and preferably violently) into custody. Fortunately it tends to tip the scales from worrisome to merely bothersome when you choose to go camping with four dozen of your nearest and dearest.

Conversely the rest of the weekend was unalloyed serenity. I enjoyed the uncomplicated pleasures that you find once you've enough miles between you and the nearest intray, computer screen or phone signal. Floating down and down a river in an inner tube for hours on end, drink in your hand and head in the drink. Silent swift water and a timeless blue sky. Tree swings and rope burns and laughter and disaster; the gods of good times claiming their sunglass sacrifices one by one. Woodland smells and smoky grills. Exhaustion and embers and murmurs in darkness. The tang of bright stars and certain sense of moving towards another ending.

shoutouts

It's well overdue for me to mention it, but there are a couple of very fine blogs out there who are linking to the often scrabbling efforts here. These folks really are the solid top order of the ozblogosphere's political First XI. I'm certainly not attempting to replicate the attentive analytical focus, but on the occasions I'm ruminating in the same field I'm certainly aware of the fine fenceline of posts they provide. So on the off chance that you're a more occasional grazer of blogs and haven't checked out the some of the links on the right, in the run up to the Australian election you really should check out Road To Surfdom, Troppo Armadillo, Southerly Buster, Back Pages and Blogorrhoea. Cheers all.

While going around the grounds there's a good pictoral introduction to the Australian political scene by Bob Ellis stalker Ms Fits at Reasons You Will Hate Me. Thanks Lisa for the link. Another fairly recent discovery Darp is worth checking in on, even if he has dropped to the subtitle his Disney-powered satellite-aligning rotational prayer rug. (Presumably in a Meryl Streep-like method performance to align his chakras with the downtrodden hope-less romper stomper wannabes he's serving it to this week.)

Monday, August 30, 2004

on the money

So a while back over in the Midday Meal's comments I called the Australian election for early October, right after the football finals were over. Bingo bingo. Alas he's switched from haloscan to blogger comments and my moment of clarity is unlinkable. If a blogger makes a prediction in a defunct comments box, does it make a sound?

So Jared - wanna have a bet again? Or do we share the same opinion? I think the circumstances aren't set against Latham the way they were against Beazley, he has more pullatickin' mojo than the Beaze, and may well just do it. But if I'm right, and the wager is a case of beer again, the postage on sending me some James Squires is gonna hurt...

Thursday, August 26, 2004

one track-mind

Silly me forgot to get the camera out once again. Anyway first Wednesday at Japone went something like this. Same as before, Sean in italics, myself in plain text.

1. Digital Cutup Lounge - Keepin It Kool
2. Digital Cutup Lounge - Blue Skies
3. Suba - Paulista Gringo's Samba - [Six Degrees]
4. Kruder & Dorfmeister - Heroes - [Studio K7]
5. Quincy Jones/Bill Cosby - Ev'ryday (With The Clutch Player/The Chakadoons) - [Concord Records]
6. Eddie Henderson - Kudu (Kyoto Jazz Massive Remix) -[Blue Note Records]
7. James Hardway - A Yen For The Sweeten - [Street Beat Records]
8. Outside - To Forgive But Not To Forget - [Dorado]
9. Spam Allstars - Leo - [Elegua]
10. Llorca - Lights Behind Windows - [F-Communications]
11. Blue Six - Beautiful Tomorrow - [Astralwerks]
12. Jazztronik - Livin High Part 1 - [Flower Records]
13. Jazztronik - Livin High Part 2 - [Flower Records]
14. Soldiers Of Twilight Believe (Martin Solveig Vocal Dub) - [Astralwerks]
15. Dzihan & Kamien - Ambass(?) -[Couch Records]
16. Hajime Yoshizawa - I Am With You - [Especial Records]
17. Vikter Duplaix - Lust For Life - [Hollywood Records]
18. Anima Sound System - 68 (Dephass Old Style Dub) - [Mole Listening Pearls]
19. Moshi - Sambaissmo (Rio Mix)
20. Rui Da Silva - The Four Elements 'Earth' - [Kismet]
21. Ashley Feraude - For My Own Sake (Nectar Mix) - Unsigned?
22. Mark Grant - Jazzy Kinda Sum'n - [Cyclo]
23. Rinôçérôse - Rock Classics Vol 1 - [V2 Records Inc]
24. 5.6.7.8's - Woo Hoo - [Maverick]
25. Afrotech - Brooklyn Loves You - [Irma Records]
26. DJ Spinna - Deep Rooted (Da Beats And Da Dub) - [King Street Sounds]
27. Loop Guru - Papasus - [World Domination ADA]
28. Irresistible Force - Fish Dances (Fred Galliano Mix) - [Ninja Tune]
29. Monday Michiru - Fading Beauty (Chillin Winter Mix) - [Kitty]
30. Ursula Rucker - Circe (Jazzanova Remix) - [JCR]
31. Jafrosax - Just Like A Tiger's Eye - [Universal]
32. Up, Bustle & Out - Illusion (Bristol Sound System) - [Ninja Tune]

It was quite a quiet night to open with. Not surprising really because of what's going on, for reasons I don't want to trivialize by writing about in this list post. There's a few links anyway.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

for whom the polls belle

Despite appearing in the conservative WSJ, Zogby methodology trends it left of median polling results. Nonetheless click through this great short history of the last four months' battleground-state polling and you'll see the idea that I picked up on in a couple of earlier posts. Swingers just don't appear to be greasing themselves up to get back into bed with fusty, frightened, frigid and above all retrosexual George.

On the other hand, in a state of vociferous inebriation around 4am Sunday morning, I accepted a not insubstantial wager on the outcome of the election, the kind of action which I feel a nagging sense of guilt may have well put the mockers on the Beaze back in Oz in 2001. And with an ungodly number of inebriated evenings to get through between now and November, the quantum of the bet, and by extension the level of high jinx, is only going to grow.

So just in case my moment of intoxicated and unbridled cavorating with enthusiasm has buggered this country, and through the potential bonethink neocon foreign policy over the next four years, the world, I'd just like to apologize in advance to humanity in general and John Kerry in particular for putting some readies behind him.

Solipsist? Moi?

So I guess tomorrow night its back to work on the phones with redefeatbush. I may have buggered this but there's still plenty of time to pull it out of the fire!

Monday, August 23, 2004

hey hey, it's war today

I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that all those childhood years of being whipcracked for his smart-alec quips left Dicky Knee with a masochistic penchant for living dangerously. But the five years since the axing of Hey Hey Its Saturday obviously haven't been kind to the young fella if he's now resorting to this kind of work.


A U.S. Army soldier uses a dummy to draw a sniper into view on Friday in Najaf, Iraq.

Still, I can think of worse things to happen to former child stars. It's just a shame that the rest of the HHIS cast aren't there on the front line too. I'd love to see what happens to Red Symons when he gongs Moqtada al-Sadr 90 seconds into his Friday oratory at the Shrine of Imam Ali...

Saturday, August 21, 2004

cruel and unusual

Sans telly and foxsportsworld cable subscription, I'm listening to a live online radio commentary from a South African station of the Australia vs South Africa Tri-Nations decider.

Unfortunately... it's in Afrikaans! Gah! But I'm pretty sure SA just scored and it sounds like the Aussies have 7 points at this stage. The bok crowd is singing long and merrily, that can't be good...

Damn you, Pierre de Coubertin! Damn you and your resuscitation of a pantheon of unimportant sporting events which ABC newsradio is covering and due to licensing restrictions has shut down their webcast which if not for the grotesquely bloated festival your boy scout jamboree has become would probably be webcasting the rugby instead! Damn you too, Kevan Gosper, I'm not sure why but I'm sure you had a hand in this travesty!

Fortunately I have been able to resort to a more primitive but reliable means of communcation (instantaneous wireless text messaging from a mate watching the teev 9,908 miles away in Canberra) for slight factual context for the opaque but nonetheless exciting ebb-and-flow commentary, crowd noise, and referee chatter.

Gee, maybe this is what rugby feels like all the time for non-devotees?

Update: Oh, there it goes. Three long whistle blasts and an ecstatic crowd. That doesn't need translation.

neuroDJcam

wheels within wheels within wheels! I feel like I'm in a neurocam adventure. But we're now coggin the noggins at the top at the Blue Room. The right kind of callback this week from the capitalists agreeing to pony our suitable financials and we'll become the swirly round peg in a poke kicking off each 1st & 3rd Friday night line up. Tidy tidy tidy. No whammies, no mockers, so maybe maybe is all I'll say now. Still the following is following, and now, bringing their friends. My so fine DC crew, how do you rock so hard?

Bombtrack of the night without a doubt our last, an Defected throwdown of dooshy diesel locomotive house by pohdner Sean, through which the wave of Jazztronik's flighty light seven colours (nanairo) burst like a waterfall upon the swirling girlies... sweet mercy this smoking j-futurejazz is potent...

Tomorrow night, down to Capitol Hill for a private pyjama'ed party performance. DJs in PJs, and no cameras admitted or allowed after 11pm. Oh my.

Friday, August 20, 2004

cripes cobber

Yesterday my gay Salvadorian cello-playing hairdresser, Santiago, told me that not only do I need to condition more frequently in the summer, but that he thought I was losing my accent.

Bloody drongo, that's the last time I go to him for a cut!

Ahmm. Ahhh. Except he's really good. An' it took me munce to find such a bonza cut in this town... (and of course he has such big strong hands...)

She'll be right. Reckon I'll just download some pirated episodes of "A Country Practice" to listen to in me sleep. Just to be on the safe side a' course, digger matey mate bloke old fella g'day g'day sheila sanger black stump owwzitgaanorrite carn the pize.

Strewth...

Thursday, August 19, 2004

a home away from home away from home

In all the excitement about last Saturday night, I forgot to mention what happened on Friday night. You see, thanks to two jars of sake and a jedi mind trick from my partner in crime...



...starting next Wednesday 25 Aug, Texture will commence a weekly residency at Japone ("Ja-po-ney"), deep in the hip hub of DC, Dupont Circle. Japone is a startlingly atmospheric lounge to the newcomer, like the enveloping surprise of diving into a midsummer aquarium. It's a place I've visited on numerous occasions and its a real pleasure to have been invited in. It is full to its small capacity each Friday and Saturday night, but midweek I'm not so sure. I'm sure we can work on that irregardless.

Anyway, we'll be there from 9.30pm till close each Wednesday. Hope you can join us.

While we're at it here's a pic of the downstairs half of Dragonfly where we were last Saturday.


troppo nails it

...one thing's for certain: Howard lied blatantly to win an election, just like Keating did in 1996, and democratic hygeine requires his removal.

All the mealy-mouthed preciously-phrased evasive parsing of recent years finally seems to be coming home to roost for honest John. The full post by Ken "no lefty communard" Parish is here, check it out.

Monday, August 16, 2004

musical dialogues

Graham, Jared and Euan have started an interesting weekly exchange about the 32 tracks that have changed their lives. I'm quite enjoying reading them. The vivid situational relevance, personal and social contextualising, and enthusiasm for a tune is something I can strongly relate to.

I won't be joining this discussion (for now!) but I thought you might be interested to read another musical dialogue. Below is Saturday night's set list from Dragonfly. For about five and a half hours, DJ partner Sean and I tag-teamed behind the decks, alternating playing two tracks at a time. We've found this strongly fosters creativity and variety as you mix first into the other guy's choice of track and then into one of your own. In effect it feels like having a marvellous musical conversation that a hundred and fifty people are listening in on.

So here's the setlist from 11pm (when it occured to us to start noting the tracks) through to closing out at 3am. Mine are in the plain text, Sean's in italics.

Jazzanova – Bohemian Sunset
David Byrne - Dance On Vaseline (Thievery Corporation Remix)
Thunderball – Hijack
LTJ Bukem – Horizons
Jazztronik – Colours Of Days
Etro Anime – Summer Rain
Llorca With Nicole Graham - Indigo Blues
Kyoto Jazz Massive – Kudu
Jazzanova & Vikter Duplaix – That Night (Vikter Duplaix Remix)
Dzihan & Kamien – Where Are We
Nina Simone Sinnerman (Felix Da Housecat's Heavenly House Mix)
Soul Central – Catalyst
Jazztronik – Houou (“Phoenix”)
Röyksopp – Eple
Jetseb & AOS One - Blue Morning
Spam Allstars – La Sowera
Jazzanova – St Germain Soul Salsa
Yoli Boenaventura – Vegabonde
Afrotek - 7
Masters At Work & Monday Michiru – Sunshine After Rain
Afro Mystik – Natural (Halo & Andre Harris Remix)
Junior Jack & Kid Crème - TBA
Hard Soul – Back Together
Groove Armada – I See You Baby (Steve D’Caro Bhangra Remix)
Vikter Duplaix – Looking For Love
Peal Orchestra - No Win Situation (Kluster Uplifting Mix)
Etro Anime – Portrait
Jestofunk – Fly Love Song
Romuald, Meeks & Bondurant - What Time Is It
Louie Vega & Sinister Present Julie Mcknight - Diamond Life
Josh & Luke Pres. The New CPU Experience - Take Control
Jazztronik – Nanairo (“Seven Colours”)
Koop – Absolute Space
Urban Trad - Berim Dance
Suba - Samba Do Gringo Paulista
Rinocerose – Sublimior
textureDJs – Quand Les Colombes Pleurent
Thievery Corporation – Savoir Faire
Massive Attack – Unfinished Symphony
The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight (DJ Downfall Persistent Beat Mix)
Rinocerose – Le Mobilier
Air – Sexy Boy
Zongamin – Hotel 17
Cosmic Tea Dancers – Percapella
Marzebian – Let It Ride
Aromabar - Cupid And Orlando (Jazztronik Remix)
Bent - Always (Ashley Beedle's Mahavishnu Vocal Mix)
Led Zepplin - Babe I'm Gonna Leave You (Phil K Vs. Nu Breed Pass)
Doves – There Goes The Fear


As you can see a couple of the artists in there got a fair workout! You could almost call it "the set with tracks by artists with 'jazz' in the name". Curious though, as the set certainly didn't lack for diverse moods and grooves. From ambient and triphop early on (not listed above) up through a smooth jazzy limo ride to some house in a fine neighbourhood, then up and away: flying south on a latin kick, jagging east on the return leg through sub-saharan Africa, across to Bombay for a downtempo refuelling stop, before kicking into high gear to swing through Tokyo and Paris on the way back to the bar. That's the brilliance of playing with CDs and with Traktor (mp3s), but phew! Where can I cash in the frequent flyer miles?

Sunday, August 15, 2004

i.i.i.ignited

in the spirit(s) of intoxicated posting that friends of mine have been all about lately. let me give you this at 5 am.

there is a loungebarsushiclub called dragonfly.. it is part owned by Thievery Corporation. you may have fcccking heard of them, ot not...

after dropping in a demo on fri night, textureDJs got a call up at the last minute for sat nite to fill in & spun 6 hours strauight up all night downstairs. eclectic global nujazz downtempo & melodic house lazy melodic trip over the s.s.s.s.miiiiles

f... ing caned, OMFG. the love from patrons, tha owner, bar staff ("normally this place makes my ears bleed, but not tonight" - high praise indeed), much. indeed this post quite brought to you by all the shots the smiling assassin owner/TC's partner put into me @ the end of the night. many presidnts in the pocket and more shots than charlie heston would give you in the chest. strewth... feeling quite egotript, to used a well-coined phrase...

come aboard. tune in, we'll turn you on. holy good golly gosh damn. i'll post the six hour musical conversation soon...

something more coherent here would be useful I'm sure. ah yes. if you have a fat pipe and want to download texureDJs 'music... on bare skin' here's your link

http://s2.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=CA06057F3B24A30F66ED0950E3F8D1B4

"oh mother... that's so different from the things the other girls were saying!"

Friday, August 13, 2004

the neo-president

Via another George at The Future Shock of the Near Past, we hear about George W Bush as the Keanu of the US Presidency:



In this respect he is like an expensive, hand-waxed automobile, gleaming in the darkness of a garage. The car is intended for rapid motion and for public display. When its owner-driver is at the dinner table, he has no need of the car. "The celebrity displays personality," explains Michael Rogin. "He pleases others; intimate before the mass audience, he plays at privacy in public. Neither a repressed interior nor an intractable reality exercise claims over the celebrity for he exists in the eye of the beholder." If Bush "plays at privacy" in public, he cannot act "for real" in private, because he is now in a realm where substance and depth, rather than sheer surface, are called upon.

For example, here's George W Bush this week reprising his title role in William Gibson's hodge-podge wonderflop blockbuster Johnny Mnemonic:


KING: Does the buck, though, stop with you?

G. BUSH: Absolutely.

KING: President Kennedy was told the Bay of Pigs would go smoothly and then he took the rap. He said...

G. BUSH: I'm taking the rap, too, of course.

KING: So the buck does stop...

G. BUSH: Absolutely. That's what elections are about. The American people can go in that voting booth and decide whether or not...

KING: So is that what led you to say on that ship that the battle is over?

G. BUSH: No, I didn't say that. Now, let's be careful about that. I went on that aircraft carrier to thank a crew.

KING: The sign said it, I think.

G. BUSH: No, the sign said, "Mission accomplished." It didn't say the battle was over. It said, "Mission accomplished."

Now remember in that short story/film, Johnny uploaded vital corporate secrets to his brain which prevented him from having much of a memory. So I guess its the missing Enron files still in there that prevent him from recalling these actual words on the carrier deck:


Thank you. Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

[...]

The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001 and still goes on.


Woah. Quite the command performance, Keanu. Makes you want to stay tuned for more hilarious hijinks from Dick and George's Excellent Neo-Colonial Adventure.



Thursday, August 12, 2004

tina lives in berlin

...so to speak, but before I head east to join her in November good things are simmering. Texture are on for another two hour weekend set at the Blue Room, next Friday night (20th) this time. Huzzah.

and i'm on the market
and when i'm on a market

& these are my intentions...



Monday, August 09, 2004

we have ignition

On Saturday night Texture played an early set upstairs at the Blue Room, jamming out some fat proggy tunes, some sweet Japanese future jazz and some straight-up kick arse, dark and dirty 21st century disco shit to a packed venue. And here's a bombshell breakthrough of its own: we've got an invitation to come back for further sets any day and any time we want. F*cking sweet, just the kind of thing we've been waiting to hear. I'd like to say that it was only because the club manager was awed by the power and beauty of the set we played, but its more to do with the fact that we brought sixty people through the door with us who wanted to hear us spin and spend a lot of money at the bar. Its just the way the world works, but what the hell, it's a win-win-win situation for all involved. Long and loud shout outs must go to #1 stand up guy Jeff, defacto booking agent for the evening, who pulled it all together.

The highlight of the night musicwise was the goddamn babykilling arseshaking live mashup I nutted out on Saturday afternoon with working title of Quand Les Colombes Pleurent, unless someone out there can correct me or offer some tighter French. It's dirty, its dark, its French, its Prince, it educates children. I'll record it and get it onto the web or into a few email boxes in the next couple of days. Sing out if you want one and where.

Rehearsals also continued on the weekend with Digimondo, the latin jazz ensemble that I've just hooked up with. DJ partner Sean is onboard is well and once his new laptop is traktorized we'll be throwing twice the loop and sample mayhem down as grooves for a bunch of seriously talented musicians. Those gigs to start as well in a month or so.

So yeah, life's good, Polynesian nuclear armageddon notwithstanding.

no pain. no hurt. we'll go dreaming

I dream often, but there have been a few times in my life when I've experienced something out of the ordinary, and by that I mean a quite savagely vivid dream. The content is generally sparse, succinct, but the presentation utterly hyperreal; its like being inside a billion watts of sound and visual energy. Waking up is quite pale in comparison. The following is a very pedestrian attempt at describing last night's mess.

So last night I was sitting alone on the mountainside above Honolulu, and as I sat there I watched a nuclear explosion on the sea outside the harbour. From the distance I sat it wasn't so much the blast radius as the tsunami that was a problem for me; the world descended into incandescent silence punctuated only by stabbing horns trying to call survivors to higher ground as the wave approached with shotgun speed. When it struck the wave smashed the city and hillside with explosive power, impacting not with water but foaming, snarling teeth of torturous jagged shrapnel and broken glass, stopping just inches below my bare feet. Nature's IED, if you will.

Then a second nuke exploded directly overhead with a rending sound fit to tear a hole in the universe.

And when I could see again - surprised to find myself alive, or perhaps just an observant soul - the city's blackened burning remains looked suspiciously like the geography of Lake Jindabyne viewed from the final hill as you come down the road from the ski resorts. WTF, eh? The alarms sounded again, followed by an tinny official voice: "This has been a test of the Orange Alert federal response. This has been a test of the Orange Alert federal response. Thank you for your cooperation..."

Heavy going. I probably need to rebalance my reading list a little. I've heard good things about this book, and the reviews of it are great - apparently a compelling page turner.

Friday, August 06, 2004



The fervent hopes of the manliest ever heterosexual, Jesus' General.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

ups and downs

uppers:

Good news from Iraq! They've dug up a dead president offed in 1963 by the Baathists; are planning to have a census; can now watch US-funded TV network Al-hurra (when there is electricity, of course); and now that Uday Hussein is no longer coaching the team and beating the soles of their feet when they lose, winning the occasional soccer game against the national team belonging to another psychotic stalinist dictator. It's all just going so swell!

downers:

The bad news too, that you just don't find unless you look over here. You know, like about 700 violent deaths per month being counted by the city morgue in Baghdad at the moment, up from 400 a year ago. And reading quotes by senior Al Qaeda figure Ayman al-Zawahiri rejoicing in the continued presence of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, further broadening the radicalization of the Islamic world these nutters long hoped for:"...if they withdraw they will lose everything and if they stay, they will continue to bleed to death."

ugh. gotta find some... uppers:

Visits from friends from home, expected and unexpected, outrageous mirth at a baseball game quite impossible to translate to nonetheless amused bystanders bar one, who was eventually escorted from Camden Yards by Baltimore's Finest in a manner more befitting Bay 13 at the G; disconapping on a hillside in the wilds of Maryland with a few thousand people shakin their booty all around; and later showing said familiar foreign friends the drinkable ales about town.

downers:

My $300 bike, like an iron steed upon the underground railroad of yore in these parts, breaking free from its street kerb shakle of slavery and escaping off upon its own adventures into the wilds of America. At least, the thief having left me with just a bent kryptolock as a parting memento, I like to think of it that way.

but finally, up and up:

Squeezing four score and seventeen party people (and a larger number of jellyshots) ino your fine apartment, filling and emptying a bathtub of bottled beer, throwing down tracks to make the odd chin stroker stroke, others to make the girlies groove and wave their hands in the air, still making it out to the clubs for an hour before close, and somehow waking up with more alcohol in the house than when you started.

And last night, DJing for a band rehearsal, dropping assorted bhangra, hip hop and house loops for an ensemble of latinjazz/classical guitar, flute, didgeridoo, and tight percussion. Fully sick, are the only words to describe it. Wow.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Lick, Part 2

Nice when you find information, that while still somewhat anecdotal, shows that reality checks with your thinking:

As another barometer, consider Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster who helped plot Newt Gingrich's conservative congressional takeover. Luntz ran a focus group Thursday night, talking to 20 swing voters in the swing state of Ohio, and was stunned by their remarks. They had just watched Kerry's speech, and loved it - to the point where four Bush-leaning voters announced they were switching to Kerry.

"It was one of the strongest positive reactions I've ever seen in a focus group," said Luntz. "Kerry didn't lose anybody. Most importantly, he was able to convince [the Bush defectors] that he is presidential, that he would be tough yet open-minded. They now see him as a credible commander-in-chief."

Bottom line, however, is that the race - aside from being a referendum on Bush and his record - is also a reading on Kerry's qualifications to command. And the first big test has been met; in Frank Luntz's focus group, where 14 of the 20 swing voters supported Bush four years ago, only four are still with the President.



(Via Corrente.)

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Lick Bush In '04

Although I live in a joyfully TV-free household state, one thing I've been missing and thankfully catching on C-SPAN's excellent site has been the speeches at the Democratic National Convention.

The Dems have advanced solidly to plant the flag right in the centre of the electorate. On the whole, they're running on a platform of John Kerry Fought In Vietnam as the fulcrum to lever the Bushies out of office. Perhaps the most hilarious example of this was Bill Clinton's tarring of Bush and Cheney, who also did not go to Vietnam, as similar to... Bill Clinton! That's some wily ninja verbal judo, man. Edward's speech included a fiercely bloodthirsty line about destroying terrorists, but the best speaker at the convention apart from Clinton was Illinois senatorial candidate Barack Obama. Great oration, take a look.

I think you really have to be careful here not to enter the echo chamber of your own hopes the way the entire Dean campaign did, but I'm actually pretty optimistic about Kerry's chances of winning. A comment I read recently summed it up as follows: consider the number of people who voted for Bush last time who will change their vote to Kerry. Now consider the number of people who voted for Gore in 2000 who are going to swing their vote over to Bush. I suspect that at a rally for the second group all you would hear is the crickets. Granted, with the predominantly winner-take-all electoral college system and the particular 'swing states' in play, its not that simple. And both parties are fiercely attempting to enrol new voters which may alter the balance here or there.

Nonetheless I remain optimistic. Kerry is a bland inoffensive patrician who readily fits the mould of 'anyone but Bush', and the jury is still out on whether the convention will immediately deliver a bounce in the polling, but the Bushies came away with no gotchas from the Democratic convention. Seriously: the biggest stories in that respect to pop were Teresa Heinz Kerry tellinga reporter to 'shove it', and that Kerry himself had a sweaty chin during his long speech. Heaven forbid! Pretty hard to get any traction on Mrs Kerry's impoliteness by the way when recently on the floor of the Senate the Vice President told a Democratic senator to go f**k himself.

One aspect of the event that jazzes me a little, is the flag-waving, triumphalist rhetoric about the uniqueness of the upwards social mobility that can occur in the US, as if there were no other country in the world where this is possible. Speaker after speaker crowed about their downtrodden roots to establish their authenticity and credibility as men (generally) of the people. However stats I saw recently (but am too lazy to find the link to at the moment) showed that upward economic mobility in the US is at present the lowest it has been in 50 years. Apparently post WWII, approximately 25% of the bottom quartile of households were making it into the top quartile of income groups within one generation. That figure is now down to approximately 5% making that leap. Upward mobility exists, but the magical Disney kingdom of opportunity is more a feature of history, and the national identity mythology, than a tangible reality today.