Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Politics of Envy and Resentment

It's not necessarily relevant, I just love this picture
So now the Republicans are really screwed. Newt won South Carolina, and Mittens is tripping all over his own tongue and his taxes. If Newt is the nominee, Obama wins without breaking a sweat. Newtie cannot sustain the politics of resentment against cultural elites in Washington and New York. His basic message is "These fancy people wanna take America and make it into a European socialist haven where your hard-earned money goes to lazy minorities and snooty Hollywood types look down their noses at your churchgoing fineness. BTW, I know you forgive me for having an affair...or two. I'm 68 and a grandpa now, so you know I don't fool around no more. And even though I'm a professor, I ain't no intellectual."

Meanwhile Mitt accuses anyone who criticizes his 15 percent tax rate as practising the politics of envy. I think he will prevail and get the nomination and he could win against Obama.

We just finished watching DVRed segments of the roundtables of Meet the Press, Chris Matthews, and This Week. The consensus seems to be Romney has a great message (according to the right-leaning pundits) but still cannot connect with the average voter. They forgave Bain Capital, but it was the brushing off of $350K as if it were nothing that turned people off.

Yesterday we were flipping the channels looking for news about any early returns on the SC primary. My partner Jerry stopped on Fox News and we thought we'd give the other side a chance. It was the Wall Street Journal Editorial Bloviating Session or whatever that thing is called. I had not seen the host Paul Gigot in a long time since he only appears on Fox. Anyway, I disagreed with just about everything the WSJ crowd but one guy had an interesting point. He said Romney feels guilty for making so much money and paying such a relatively low tax rate, so whenever he talks about it, he comes across as embarassed, stilted and uncomfortable in his own skin. That's why he laughed when he said he didn't make very much in speaking fees. He's not at peace with all that money. That may be. While Mitt is uncomfortable, Newt is shameless and has absolutely no tinge of guilt about anything he's ever done including cheating on two wives while they were sick. That's what attractive to those SC voters, they sense Newt's unapologetic brashness. That type of ease got W. into the White House, but it won't work for Newtie.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Urban Encounter 3: A Poem

At Union Square, the crowds are incredible when
the two L trains going in opposite directions stop
at the same time.
A sea of humanity surges up the stairs as I close my Christmas gift--a Kindle Fire--
after reading Andrew Sullivan's Newsweek article on Obama.
An Hispanic woman carrying two babies attempts to brook the tide,
Descending to the platform.
Earlier in the week a man with tattoos covering his face, like Queeque in Moby Dick,
Led a dog down the same stairs.
At the top, a violinist is sweetly playing Puccini.
I am so distracted I forget to make my usual
Wednesday morning stop at Forbidden Planet to check out the new comics.
I make a mental note to go at lunch time.
I used to think when my father used that phrase he meant a "metal note"
and I visualized a sheet of tin with notes scrawled on it.

Project Runway All-Stars Episode 3--Delusions of Piggy

Something is definitely wrong when adults talk about a puppet as if it were real. This week on Project Runway All-Stars, the entire cast suffered from the delusion that a felt porker was an actual celebrity. The desingers were told to make a cocktail dress for Miss Piggy and they spent most of the hour gushing over an inanimate object brought to life by a guy named Frank Oz. At least I think Oz is still Piggy's manipulator. There was one weird shot that brought this whole reality-illusion thing into perspective. Throughout the judging they only showed part of the panel so you couldn't see Piggy's human puppeteer. Then at the very end just before the decision was rendered, they did a long shot of all four judges and the Miss Piggy doll, with no manipulator to give her personality, just sat there like a stuffed doll next to the living fashionistas.

Speaking of manipulation and gushing, the producers are really propping up Joanna Coles, the wanna-be Tim Gunn. She looked totally unenthuiastic when she made her weekly brief "mentor visit" saying this was the most exciting PR challenge ever and then I almost fell out of my chair when she said she couldn't wait to see the finished products--but she never does! She just makes her rounds and then vanishes. She doesn't even bid goodbye to the losing designer and give them a hug like Tim Gunn did.

In order to make it seem like the designers actually listen to what Miss Devil Wears Prada has to say, they always have an interview shot with a contestant praising her. This week it was Mondo being forced to say "Oh, I really appreciate her opinion."

And another thing, there is absolutely no drama this year. This week the most controversial comment was Mila bitching about Kenley and Kara being co-dependent. Really, Miss Geometric Pattern, that's the best you can do? And the nastiest catfight was between Austin and Kara (I think) over accessories, which quickly fizzled. There was even a scene with everyone laughing and drinking together. Remember when that one guy was booted off for using a pattern book and the time Laura accused Geoffrey of cheating? Those were exciting times. Not anymore, hon. I should have watched Marianne Gingrich's interview on Nightline instead.

Nothing too great about the dresses. I enjoyed Michael and Kenley's out-there creations while Mila's was so boring. She should have been nixed rather than Gordana.

I actually watched most of an episode of 24 Hour Catwalk to see if this new show had the ooomph PR All-Stars is lacking. I zipped through most of it, but it looks entertaining and we get to see a designer interacting with seamstresses which is closer to what actually happens in the fashion workroom. I like Alex the hostess and her style is very offbeat and kooky. Evidently she's been on MTV or something. She's got a lot more pizzazz than the stick figure hosting All Stars.

One other reality note: Sundance has done a terrible job of promoting the second season of Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys. I just found out they showed the finale last night and I didn't even know they had started. The first season had posters on buses all over the city. I haven't heard a peep about this one.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

South Carolina Showdown

In the Cayman Islands We Trust
The Republican primary is getting good. Rick Perry drops out and endorses Newt two days before the SC voting. Meanwhile, that very night (tonight) the second Mrs. Gingrich will go on ABC News to spill the beans about her former husband's lack of morals and desire for polygamy. I'll bet it will crush the debate on CNN in the ratings. I also wonder if Marianne Gingrich has cashed that check from Mitt Romney's Cayman Islands off-shore account.

This leads me to Romney's tin ear when it comes to bragging about his wealth and tax breaks. (Yesterday, I started singing "50 Percent" from "Ballroom" in the office and substituting "15 Percent.") It's not that American begrudge his success or envy it--as Mittens puts it--but the cavalier way he dismisses $357,000 in speaking fees as if it were nothing is what grates on people earning $40,000 a year for a family of four. (he probably didn't even think about how it would sound.) You may recall that Bush Senior lost his election to Clinton when during the final debate, he looked at his watch while Bill was expressing his concern for a member of the audience who had several friends who had lost jobs. It made Poppy Bush look out of touch with the common man and that is how Mittens looks. He was able to survive the attacks on Bain Capital--that's just business and somebody is gonna get hurt, but we made more jobs than we destroyed, is the rationale---but now he is being killed by his own apparent indifference to John and Jane Q. Public.

Newt has surged in the last few days--in part due to the redneck standing ovation he got when he "put Juan Williams in his place"--and might even win South Carolina. Oh, please, oh, please. That would be so good. I still think Romney is the nominee but the longer this plays out the better. Sarah Palin had to open her big mouth and endorse Newt and then she had the gaul to say the last election had an unvetted candidate and look what happened. This dimwit was actually referring to Obama and NOT herself. What a maroon! Newt responded by saying he'd ask Joan of Anchorage to have a major post in his White House. OMG! A gift from God to the Democrats if Newt is nominated. Just the mention of Palin in a major position of power is enough to lose them million of votes.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars Episode 2--Joanna Coles Is no Tim Gunn

Does Joanna Coles, EIC of Marie Claire, think she's too good to go shopping with the designers at Mode or shepherd them to the runway for the fashion show like Tim Gunn did? Apparently she only has time in her busy schedule to drop by for a brief visit and say general phrases like "How are you going to surprise us?" Joanna obviously doesn't have the style or depth of knowledge that Tim did. His critiques were really specific and detailed. It's the second week and Coles is not impressing me at all.

The other big change is the chairs the designers sit in for the runway show. Instead of the folding chairs of yore, they look like airport lounges.

As for the challenge--design a gown for the opera--I thought Michael should have won, that collar with the feathers and the jewels was gorgeous. Austin's was nice enough, but I don't think it deserved first place. BTW, I once met him at the airport in Chicago between flights.

I wasn't surprised Sweet P was eliminated, her dress reminded me of an explosion of Fruity Peebles or Trix, and it made the model look fat. Mondo's looked like Jane Jetson goes to see My Space Lady and Jerrel's was like a nightgown. His model appared ready for bed. April's was all puckered and slapdash, as if she sewed together the wrong pieces in a hurry.

Afterwards, I watched the first ten minutes of 24 Hour Catwalk and immediately liked the host Alex. She is no-nonsense, telling the contestants, "Sucking up to me is not going to help you." The gimmick doesn't seem too promising, but I will have to watch the whole thing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mittens Triumphant

Mitt Romney trying to cosy up to New Hampshire voters. 
Politics and real life collide too much. In the past weeks I've been meaning to blog more about the Republican primary, but it's just too exhausting. Rick Santorum alone got me so upset I couldn't even see straight enough to write anything. He came within eight votes of winning in Iowa and now he's on his way down. Mittens just won the New Hampshire primary and is boasting about his brand of venture capitalism. He's attacking Obama for being against capitalism--the President hasn't even said a word about Bain Capital. But it's more an attack on Newt for daring to sound like a Democrat and speaking against rich people screwing over poor people. (The Romney defense is that overall Bain helped more people than it hurt and there are winners and losers in a free market. But what this does not answer is the fact that Romney and his Bain cronies made tremendous profits by stripping down the failing companies, crushing unions, eliminating safety regulations, and destroying jobs. It wasn't just you win some, you lose some. It was we're gonna turn a profit no matter who it hurts in the process. If they shared in the failure by taking a loss that's one thing, but here they were profiting on the workers' misery. Maybe I'm naive.)

I think it's significant that Mittens used a teleprompter in his victory speech tonight and sounded very professional and polished. When he's off the cuff and ad-libbing, he comes across as stiff and uncomfortable, a plastic insecure phony. This is doubly ironic because Obama's critics always jump on him for using a teleprompter.

I look forward to the bloodbath in South Carolina where the going is traditionally very dirty. I want to see this Super PAC film Newt's Las Vegas sugar daddy financed--"When Mitt Romney Came to Town." I saw the preview on YouTube. During the past few days Romney has continually put his foot in his mouth, first having the nerve to say he can identify with working-class people worrying about getting a pink slip, as if he ever for one moment had to be concerned about his financial security. Then saying he enjoys firing people. OK, on that one, his remarks were taken out of context. He was talking about enjoying firing people who don't provide good service, specifically insurance companies. But he could have phrased it better. Both of these gaffes show Guy Smiley for what he really is, a rich elitist posing as just a regular guy. In tonight's speech, he sounded convincing. But on the debate stage, I think he'll trip up and Obama hopefully can show him up as a someone who only cares about keeping the rich richer and the poor poorer. But that is no guarantee Obama will win. You'll recall Kerry won all three debates against Bush and W was elected anyway.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars: Episode 1: A Mixed 'Blessing'

What a disappointment! I managed to get through the holidays with no Amazing Race, Work of Art, or even Project Accessory because I was eagerly awaiting Project Runway All-Stars, but the first episode was something of a letdown. Who are the new judges, mentor, and host? I mean, I know some of them for the world of reality fashion, but they are so DULL compared to the originals. First of all the host. Who is she? Some pretty model, but she lacks the snap and bite of Heidi. You can tell Heidi has strong opinions and is no one to be fucked with. This woman is a vapid as wet laundry. The mentor is that blonde Tina Brown-type from Marie Claire who has been a guest judge. Very frosty, not at all like the warm, nurturing Tim Gunn. I'll bet she's hell on wheels at the magazine and makes her assistants run for lattes and counts the change when they get back. Another British, empty fashionista to replace the fabulous Nina and for the Michael Kors slot they gave it to Isaac Mizrahi who is still recovering from his bankrupcy and The Fashion Show, that awful Runway knock-off on Bravo. I hope Heidi, Tim and company will be back when there are new, fresh contestants. Well, maybe I'm being unfair. It is only the first episode.

As for the all-stars, some definitely deserve to be there like Mondo, Gordana, and Kara. But what the hell was that Elisa woman doing there? She was the one who spat on her designs (as a "blessing") and created that monstrosity that looked like it was shitting fabric--one of the worst dresses ever done on Project Runway. Thank God she got eliminated right off the bat. When that Marie Claire editor visited her in the workroom, the mentor looked like a deer caught in the headlights and she was thinking "This woman is nuttier than Michele Bachmann eating from a can of Planters' Assorted...Unsalted."

I really thought Sweet P was gonna get the axe because of her dishrag pinaya housedress. It looked like something the maid would wear for an especially dusty house--all she would have to do is roll around on top of the furniture and she's done! And some of the judges actually seemed to like Elisa's storybook swimsuit with the bat wings.

I want Mondo to win (even though that head rag and the single earring he was sporting was crazytown...he made up for it with the cool straw hat-and-Eddie Munster ensemble he wore on the runway.)  He should have won his season instead of the crunchy granola girl who did. The Israeli guy who did win this week (I'll remember more of their names by next week) has bulked up since his season. Though his pecs and biceps are more impressive, I thought his outfit was too costume-y with those weird shoulder puffs.

I DVRed the first episode not knowing there was sneak peak of 24 Hour Catwalk right after. I will have give that show a try.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Republicans in Disarray After Iowa

Hooray! Rick Santorum's surge in Iowa has totally fucked up the Republican primary. It's after midnight on the night of the Iowa caucuses, with 96 percent of the vote in, Romney and "Man on Dog Sex" Santorum are within 100 votes of each other. Mittens must be boiling mad. "Goddamnit!," he's probably screaming at his staff, "I thought we had this thing sewn up. Now I gotta go after a guy who lost a Pennsylvania senate race by 18 freakin' points? A nutcase who thinks contraception should be outlawed?"

Rick Perry has effectively dropped out. Bachmann is stubbornly sticking in and Newtie has become like a wounded bear, ready to slash at Mittens. Ron Paul had a strong finish but I don't think he will go for a third party candidacy because it will hand the election to Obama. The Republicans would be furious and then the party establishment would take it out on Paul's son, the senator from Kentucky.

But in the long run, Iowa is all meaningless. Look at who the Iowa Republicans have chosen before: Huckabee, Buchanan, even Pat Robertson (I think). Mittens is going to be the nominee and Santorum's victory (even if he is second it's still a victory) just delays the inevitable. What this says to me is the Repubs STILL don't like Mittens. Gingrich is out for blood and he's going to attack Grandpa Paul and Mittens. He wants revenge for the negative ads (ironically these are the result of super PACs and the right-wing judges on the Supreme Court deciding money is speech and corporations are people.) Santorum might take South Carolina, but Florida should decide everything. It makes Obama look much better by comparison.

While flipping channels from MSNBC's coverage of Iowa, I turned to two reality shows which provided ironic contrast. One was Bravo's It's a Brad, Brad World with the very gay former asst. of Rachel Zoe leading a very gay fashion-forward lifestyle with his boyfriend. The other was ABC's supertrashy Celebrity Wife Swap with fame whore Gary Busey and repressed gay minister Ted Haggard trading spouses. Here was an election with candidates looking for votes by calling for outlawing sodomy and advocating the degration of gay relationships, while on other networks gays are being celebrated (Brad) and participating in their own exploitation (Ted).

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Politics at the Price Chopper

While shopping for our New Years guests here in upstate NY, I was standing in line at the Price Chopper Deli on New Years Eve day. A middle-aged woman (about my age, that is) was at the head of the line and said to the woman behind the counter: "Happy New Year! This is going to be a good year! This is the year we're gonna get rid of him. We're gonna send him back to Hawaii. We're gonna get rid of all of them."

I assume she meant this would be the year Obama is not re-elected. I think she may have been a freind or acquaitance of the deli woman whom I have seen wearing a Sarah Palin hat once, so she was probably in agreement with the customer's views. What I didn't get was did she mean that in addition to unseating Obama, the Congressional incumbents would also lose their elections? Or did she just mean Democrats?

I wisely held my tongue and did not engage with her. After all, she's entitled to her opinion. But if I had known her, I would have said something like, "So you want rich people not to have pay their fair share of taxes? You have no problem with paying higher payroll taxes--you look like you're middle class so that's what'll happen. You're OK with health insurance companies discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions? You don't think a woman should ever have the right to get an abortion, no matter what the circumstances or that I should be able to marry my partner? That's what you want? Fine."

I also could have said "Well, you know if you're a New York Republican, your vote for President doesn't really count, because of this antiquated electoral college system and the fact that the majority of people in this state will go for Obama."

As I composed pithy arguments, the woman got her meat and wished everyone a happy new year again and repeated her prediction "This is the year we get rid of all of them!"

She could have been a Ron Paul-type libratarian and wanted to eliminate all federal government or most of it. She may have thought, "All this government, this is what causes all the unemployment and the high taxes and the crime." I remember as a kid those who feared the government as if it were a bogeyman were seen as fringe-element nut jobs. There was a movie called "Cold Turkey" in 1971 starring Dick Van Dyke about a town that gives up smoking to win a multi-million dollar prize. It was really sharp and satiric, not that kind of film you ever see today.

One of the whacky characters (played by Graham Jarvis) was an extreme right-winger who read books with titles like "Hello Big Government, Goodbye America." Dick Van Dyke's character--the local minister--enlists the nutty guy to act as an inspector to make sure no cigarettes got into town. This type or far-right extremist was seen as a crazy out-of-touch type then. Now they are the mainstream or at least a loud voice in the media. How do people like that--and the woman at deli (if she wants to get rid of government)-- get to be seen as not crazy.

It's big businesspeople like the Koch brothers pushing their deregulation and shrinking-government agenda through media like Fox. Their barely concealed message goes: "The liberal government will give all your hard-earned money to lazy welfare cases. Let the free market do whatever it wants. Everyone will come on top then." And people like the woman at the deli listen and don't think that unless you have government and regulation, big business will take away your Social Security, Medicare, consumer protection, environmental laws, workplace safety rules, equitable taxes, etc. etc.

Then it was my turn and I ordered some ham.