Romney, my God. The anti-candidate. As a GOP candidate, all he had to do was turn up to the NASCAR event and shovel down dogs. Instead, he said: "I have some great friends that are NASCAR team owners."
Wyoming has abandoned plans to buy an aircraft carrier. The landlocked wilderness state has hit the headlines after state assembly members proposed a bill to prepare the state for the collapse of the USA, and thus to create its own armed forces, a navy, including currency, etc, etc. After much national ridicule, the aircraft carrier provision was removed. Support for the bill subsequently collapsed. The state's sole body of water is Lake Yellowstone, frozen over for six months of the year.
Hours to go until the Arizona and Michigan primaries, your correspondent waiting in NYC to see where the candidates break, in what the booking website called an "aparthotel", but which is really upmarket public-private housing behind the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The lobby is full of Haitian gay couples with elegantly sculpted goatees and recently released female prisoners. The area must be the last genuinely dodgy place in Manhattan, now a Disney version of its former self. The TV service is premium cable with three hundred channels.
There ain't gonna be no good results of these primaries until mid-afternoon AEDST, 10pm US Eastern time. Arizona is a Romney slam-dunk. Michigan is what matters. Although if Romney conspired to do badly in Arizona -- as only he can do -- that would be another hole below the waterline.
Romney, my God. The anti-candidate. Case in point. Something every GOP candidate has to do is the NASCAR thing. NASCAR, for those unaware of it, is what was once called "stock car racing" is now branded. For decades, stock car was just a thing people did -- racing with standard off-the-line cars -- alongside "formula" racing, in which the cars were made to specifications, thus preserving the sport for the well-heeled. Stock car became NASCAR, and in the process a relatively democratic sport became a major corporate enterprise.
Inevitably, as it lost any touch with everyday life, it became a symbol of everyday life. To be against NASCAR, a hypnotically boring anti-sport, was to be un-American, elitist, etc etc. As with so much of what we have inherited from the 60s and 70s, what was once a relaxed and unselfconscious expression of a democratic culture has become a hyper-aggressive resentful assertion of a blue-collar culture shoved to one side.
Thus every GOP candidate -- men who have not taken an afternoon off for the last ten years -- must turn up, eat foods that their gold-plated insurance cardiologist told them to avoid, look out over the crowds, try to remember the names of three famous drivers, say something about how this was the true America not your chardonnay sipping college educated D bumf-ck, and get back to the Learjet as soon as possible, to return to DC for a fundraiser cocktail party. That's all you have to do. What did Romney do? This is what he said:
"This feels good, being back in Michigan. I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made automobiles. I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pick-up truck. Anne drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually, and I used to have a Dodge truck -- so I used to have all three covered."
"I have some great friends that are NASCAR team owners."
So, if casting a glance askance at Kevin '17, and Julia, you curse your luck, just be glad you are not part of a party in which Mitt Romney is the front-runner.
In the Hell's Kitchen Barnes and Noble, the featured non-fiction book of the week is
Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America's Soul, an exploration of how the amphetamine-addicted mid-century failed Hollywood hackette came to have such a hold on a section of the American public today. Her greatest triumph hitherto, was to convince a young acolyte to give up a promising musical career with the clarinet, and devote himself to finance.
Forty years later, Alan Greenspan would let out the throttle on an overheating, bubblicious US economy, fast going from dotcom delusion to real estate rort. Having trusted in the self-correcting selfish virtues of entrepreneurs, he would later tell a post-2008 congressional committee that he may have been wrong -- and hence that his whole life had essentially been lived on an illusion and by that, had brought on the great American decline a decade or two early. Funny old world.
The deep desire to switch from news channels to the TNT network, which is having a Law and Order
First shot of Newt Gingrich I've seen for weeks. He appears to have aged a decade in that period. He now looks like a tortoise bought back to Kew Gardens by Captain Cook, a shrunken head poking out of a huge hardened body, the tragedy of a reptile that has lived too long, and seen too much.
Tactical voting in Michigan has become a thing. Michigan is an open primary, and in such contests, phalanxes of opposing party voters have always voted for minority or awkward candidates in order to queer the pitch. But this time, a new high or low: Rick Santorum's campaign has run a robocall asking Democrats to come out and vote for him, to 'send a message' to the GOP.
This is a first, a naked appeal to spoiler voting, by the party being spoiled itself. Democrats are now all over the news, telling gleefully how they are going out to screw up the primary. The process itself has caused a re-evaluation of the "open" primary system, which non-Americans have always found to be insane. Seen by Americans as an ancient tradition, open primaries really only became a thing in the early 1900s -- Lincoln, Jefferson and countless others would have found the idea that the public in general should select the nominee of a particular party to be addled in the extreme.
The GOP continue to harp on the issue of compelling large religious-run institutions (hospitals etc) to offer their staff health insurance which includes contraception, even though it is clearly a loser for them. They're keen on mobilising the Catholics. Yet ninety per cent of Catholic women have used contraception. The issue shows every sign of having been devised in the Democratic skunk-works, something the GOP will chew on while Obama talks about the economy.
In Barnes and Noble, the music: Lana Del Rey,
Video Games. I come out and look for a liquor store on 10th avenue, and some kid on his way to a dance audition passes, mouthing the words to whatever's pumping through his white and silver headphones: ...and play a video game...
Remember that thing I told you about Mitt Romney? It was actually worse, but I couldn't tell you it all in one hit, because you wouldn't believe it. Here it is. As the NASCAR event Romney was attending was delayed for two hours, and the rain began to come down, the crowd reached for what every sport crowd has plenty of: foldable plastic ponchos. They're cheap, but everyone knows they're cheap. They serve a purpose.
Here was Romney's joke: "I like those fancy raincoats you bought. Really sprung for the big bucks."
Yeah, he really said that, to people whose votes he wanted.
The essential move in
Law and Order: when the detectives, seeking information from a storekeeper, who upholds his constitutional rights, say: "we can come back with a warrant, toss the joint." Freedom preserved by ignoring it.
Newt Gingrich is campaigning in Georgia, ignoring these two contests all together. He's campaigning for a two dollar fifty a gallon gas price, has dubbed this figure the "Newt Gallon", and now collects donations in petroleum tins. Quietly, deliciously mad.
Testosterone gel ad on TV -- low testosterone, or low-T, is the latest go-to condition. Until ten years ago, the only people who took industrial quantities of testosterone were San Francisco dykes, who experimented with it in the 70s, just before AIDS hit, and the sexual revolution was declared "rain stopped play". They reported that application of it made them crazy as hell, wanting to rut anything, and there is, it is said, still a spike in the Frisco homicide rate from that era. Now it's a treatment big Pharma wants to normalise as soon as possible. The mandatory side-effects warning sound like the treatment for a Wes Craven movie: "do not store in a generally accessible place. Female partners should not touch areas of application, especially if pregnant. Signs of physical and behavioural change in children, including early puberty onset, growth of hair, unusual aggressiveness should be reported immediately..."
In Michigan, the bail-out of GM has been a success. The company has recovered, US auto manufacturing has recovered. Every Republican candidate opposed the bail-out. Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed, headlined "Le Detroit go Bankrupt." Obama spoke to autoworkers today. He was magnificent, insistent, a voice on fire, making the case that autoworkers had made sacrifices for the bail-out, and the GOP didn't understand that, and that autoworkers understood we were all in this together, and the GOP didn't understand that. Huge cheers, and the sort of stuff that would connect with independents as well.
Whether Obama was always going to pull out this heightened, left populist approach -- an interpretation I lean to -- or whether he was lately converted by the final failure of any possibility of bipartisanship, remains to be seen. But the strangest thing has happened. The Democrats now have the forceful aggressive candidate, while the Republican frontrunner is the giggly, fey one. Obama's great and overriding skill is to learn, adapt, develop, reflect, get better. Romney is becoming worse. Romney sinks into himself, while Obama is coming back, with a warrant...
"I thought ringing in the ears was something I just had to live with..." ad for tinnitus medication. Only pharma ad ever with no side effects list.
Quite aside from the Arizona time zone delay to results, Michigan has several counties on central time, rather than the Eastern time of the rest of the state. FFS. China? China has one time zone from Pakistan to its sea border with Japan. In the US, you can change time zones going to the mall. Hopeless. They'll never catch up. The US, I mean.
Polls closing now, crackheads gathering near the foyer. Actual crackheads! I would not be surprised to find that Mayor Bloomberg is paying them from the heritage fund, as olde New York as McSorley's.
So we sail, to the sea coast of Bohemia, with the Wyoming Navy, driving both our Cadillacs. If symptoms persist, it is freedom ringing in your ears. Is that true?