Barack Obama does not want to bribe block captains in Philadelphia to get out the vote. Wait, you're allowed to bribe block captains to get out the vote in Philadelphia? Why yes, it's called "street money," and like most money in Philadelphia, it is relatively scarce, which is why people trust it, in lieu of "democracy", which was supposed to have declared victory on the Big Ideological Battle of the twentieth century, but the problem is that was a comprehensive crock of shit, with apologies to Francis Fukuyama, who taught the only class I ever really did the reading for and is a fantastically smart guy, but when you're starting out in this business you have to make bold pronouncements, such as "Look, history is ending!" because that's what gets the clicks and pays the bills, much akin to prostitution. Megan and I discuss all that and Martin Luther King's incest-loving confidant after the jump.
MEGAN: Um, prosecutor dude? Most 63-year-old women don't really menstruate.
MEGAN: Also, the whole thing just makes the prosecutor sound like en enourmous douchesack.
MOE: Um, and speaking of sex crimes...James Bevel WTF. The septugenarian MLK BFF is going to prison for incest. Feeling up his daughter = science class!
Hoffman asked Bevel whether he had ever rubbed Machado's chest — another allegation she has made but one that is not part of this criminal case.
"Yes, I have engaged in rubbing [her] chest in an educational context," he said. Bevel testified that as a minister and a teacher, he has educated people, including his children, on the "science" of sex and marriage.
MEGAN: I got nothing but ewwwww. Also, isn't it just straight up molestation? Why incest?
MEGAN: Since she was SIX FUCKING YEARS OLD.
MEGAN: Also, I love that his defense lawyer played a video of the pervert with MLK in order to try to get the jury to reduce his sentence for molesting his daughter, even though everyone testified she was neither his first nor his last victim.
MEGAN: Especially given what I know about how the King family treats scholars that wish to use their archives (but remembering that they sold his Lincoln Memorial speech footage for a telecomm commercial).
MOE: Fuck if I know honestly. He's 71 so it's sort of a moot point. He was sentenced 15 years. Isn't incest also a worse crime than simple molestation? I'm changing the subject though. Margaret Carlson, who is I guess writing for Bloomberg now, takes issue with John McCain's optimism re coming together and ensuring The Iraq invasion was not and invainsion. Deep down she would like to buy into his romantic worldview, but she can't. I can't read any of this without thinking how she stalked Fred Thompson and, therefore, you know, should probably steer clear of matters pertaining to the nexus of politics and romantic worldviews?
MEGAN: Ew, she stalked Fred Thompson?
MEGAN: As in, she wanted to bone him?
MOE: Oh yes!
MEGAN: You know, I have to say and we can all admit that some women like to pursue attached men, as though it's some sort of validation of their hotness or something. I once dated an older guy — who, truly, was neither tall, built, obviously wealthy, or anything close to "hot" but he did look 20 years older than me — and I'll be damned if every time we were in a bar together if some women 10 years or more older than me wouldn't mack on him.
MEGAN: And I wanted to be like... he's dating a 25-year-old. Really?
MEGAN: But, yeah, at the point at which a dude's girlfriend goes to the papers about you, you really gotta examine that line between "aggressive pursuit" and "stalker." And when you're pursuing Fred Thompson, you really gotta deal with your daddy issues (which, hello, is why I started seeing a therapist).
MEGAN: Not that I pursued Fred Thompson.
MEGAN: Hey, speaking of kooky old men and bitter women, here's a new poll showing that 25% of Obama supporters and 30% of Clinton supporters will vote McCain out of spite if the other candidate gets the Democratic nod. 100 years of Iraq! God, I love being an imperialist occupying force.
MOE: Honestly? I just don't believe any of that crap. Why? Who are these crackpots? Also: the Pennsylvania primary: can it just happen already?
MEGAN: No, dammit, Moe, you will pay attention to Pennsylvania for a whole 4 weeks before it fades into Rust Belt obscurity until October when it gets called a swing state and pretends to be important in the scheme of things.
MOE: I don't know how to segue. I didn't read this story about how Barack Obama is refusing to dole out "street money" to ward leaders in Philadelphia, but I'll say this about ward leaders in Philadelphia: they expect their street money. People who play the lottery like to be bribed, even if the bribes are comically low, which they generally are in the case of street money.
MEGAN: I read it! I was like, holy shit, is that shit actually legal? And I love how the low-end street money recipients are all like, but how can he spend a million dollars on advertisements and not buy our votes? They literally want him to spend half a million in bribes to win in Philly and he's all like, whatever, I got North Carolina I need to advertise in.
MOE: The thing is, you know, the ward leaders dole out the money to committepersons to get out the vote on election day. Committemen are like block captains basically. They basically get around $50 to make sure everyone goes to the polls. FIFTY BUCKS. They do this for fifty bucks. If that isn't a sign the market economy has failed us, well...
MEGAN: I think the prob is that Obama is used to people doing that for free because of his hope-y deliciousness. I guess hope doesn't go that far when you'll work your ass off for $50.
MOE: Well it's also not just the fifty bucks. It's respect. It's tradition. In Philadelphia if you're a committeeperson you are upholding a tradition. The fifty bucks is not much, especially compared to, say, the fact that you can get your deadbeat ex-con son-in-law a cushy job at City Hall ...or that you're the person your neighbors approach in when they find junkies on their doorsteps or when they want to shut down the Section 8 house... the fifty bucks, it's a symbol...of an anachronistic, flawed, pillaged democratic system? Which is sort of what makes Obama's gamble interesting.
MEGAN: It's also why I don't gamble. I think immediate self-interest and ego will always trump politics.
MOE: And yet again I find myself at a loss when a segue should be easy here. Maybe because the "end of history" has ended? Nothing makes sense anymore. There is no Barack Obama of the whole "Autocracy is Virtuous" meme, or if there is we're too busy watching The Hills to know who the fuck it is. But yeah, anyway...street money, tradition, Putin, Hu Jintao...
As some Chinese scholars put it, democratic liberalism became dominant after the fall of Soviet communism and is sustained by an "international hierarchy dominated by the United States and its democratic allies," a "U.S.-centered great power group." The Chinese and Russians feel like outliers from this exclusive and powerful clique. "You western countries, you decide the rules, you give the grades, you say, 'you have been a bad boy,'" complained one Chinese official at Davos this year. Putin also complains that "we are constantly being taught about democracy."
MEGAN: Autocracy gets its own wing of Poli Sci Theory 101! Hooray.
MEGAN: What I liked about it was where they compared Putin to one of the Louises
When Louis XIV remarked, "L'Etat, c'est moi," he was declaring himself the living embodiment of the French nation, asserting that his interests and France's interests were the same. When Putin declares that he has a "moral right" to continue to rule Russia, he is saying that it is in Russia's interest for him to remain in power; and just as Louis XIV could not imagine it being in the interests of France for the monarchy to perish, neither can Putin imagine it could be in Russia's interest for him to give up power. As Minxin Pei has pointed out, when Chinese leaders face the choice between economic efficiency and the preservation of power, they choose power. That is their pragmatism.
MEGAN: It's just practically another rehashing of the big-man theory of political history with a soupçon of structuralist theory thrown in (i.e., the Chinese and Russians don't mind being ruled by autocrats) so he doesn't get laughed out of academia for subscribing to a 50s notion of how the world works.
MOE: Annoying quibble: why can't we just get used to the fact that Chinese put their last names first? Pei Minxin. We're such hegemonists. And wait, are you referring to Putin? Or the author?
MEGAN: The author, though I have no doubt whatsoever that Putin subscribes to the same theory. He doesn't seem like a structuralist. That's, like, practically Marxist.
MOE: How do you do that thing with the "soupcon"
MOE: Do it with "neocon"
MEGAN: Neoçon. It's fun, isn't it? Since I majored in a language and took another in college, I had to memorize all the keyboard shortcuts. On a PC (yes, I know, I'm antiquated) it's Alt+0231 on your numbers pad. I think on a Mac it's an Alt comma, but it's been 13 years since I did it on a Mac.
MEGAN: Other fun foreign characters? æ and ß, my beloved s-zett practically eliminted by the Rechtschreibungsreform at the turn of the century. Sigh.
MOE: yeah we don't have "alt." maybe option. That's cool though, I don't really trust those funny symbol thingies. And I don't know why I'm trying to make myself slog through this. I am not just bored with the ephemera; I am the ephemera. Maybe it's an absurdist exercise. Yes, that's it.
MEGAN: Yeah, Option is right.
MOE: What if we just did that all day? Someone would have to read it!
MEGAN: People would totally cut and paste it into Word or something and try it in another font hoping it was Wingdings