republican values OR how to use web design to look like a jerk

While doing research for my previous post, I happened to visit the websites of our nation’s two dominant political parties.  I took a couple snapshots, so that we could compare them.  I think what we’ll see will reveal something about the state of American politics right now:


Democratic site: clean, simple, dignified.  Not sure I’d want my head put up real big on my website, but I guess if you’ve only got one popular kid at your table, you play the hand you’re dealt.


Republican site:  Well, let’s see here, we’re ridiculing a respected colleague and elected official, we’re trying to swell our friend list, we’re being sassy about voter fraud…  Oh and look!  We’re hiring!  Wonder why?

Also, here’s some samples from that Welcome Memo Generator:

This is change that makes sense. Welcome to the Democrats. I look forward to working together to borrow more money from China and the Middle East. Worry not, the next generation won’t even miss college.

(from “The White House Teleprompter”)

Now that you have officially joined the spend, tax and borrow Democrats, I can get you some sweet, free flights on military planes!

(from “Speaker Nancy”)

Senator Specter: Too bad you won’t be on the GOP ballot in Pennsylvania. I know you didn’t want Republican voters determining your future in the Senate. Enjoy the Democrats.

(from “You”)

Hm.  I can’t imagine why Specter wouldn’t want to ally himself with the keen intellects and razor wits that came up with this crap.  I wouldn’t want those people determining my future, either.  Not only is it pure snark, it’s Grade D Industrial Snark, the kind of stuff they’ll be scraping off the bottom of Jon Stewart’s chair six hundred years in the future, when planetary catastrophe has reduced the human race to a humorless assemblage of nomads who use the remnants of our civilization’s comedy to power their jury-rigged roadsters.  Maybe once the Republican leadership graduates from the ninth grade, they’ll have some time and attention to devote to building a decent platform and giving the Democrats a run for their money.


glittering malevolence

Emily Bazelon over at Slate wrote an article called “May the Force Be With Them“, about what she (or at least, Slate’s headline editor) calls the “dark side” of allowing her young sons to watch Star Wars (specifically A New Hope).  She sites a conversation with a child psychologist about the hazards of exposing young children to images of violence, and expresses some concern over her children’s inclination toward faux-lightsaber dueling, but her primary anxiety seems to be based around the boys’ obsession with the plot, characters, and details of the film.  She says of her youngest son:

He was obsessed. He talked about the movie to any relative, friend, or baby sitter who would listen and plenty of shopkeepers who wouldn’t. He relived the trash-compactor scene. He worried over Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi sternness and Darth Vader’s glittering malevolence. He sniffed out plot twists in the rest of the endless six-movie saga (who knows how) and tried desperately to work out why Darth Vader could be Anakin Skywalker and Luke’s father—and could also cut off Luke’s hand . . .  He was feverish. He was short-circuiting. Thanks to our two hours of stupid indulgence, Paul and I concluded, his neurons were melting.

She spends most of the article describing her son’s fascination, how he talks about Star Wars endlessly with siblings and friends and anyone who will listen, and she describes an attention to detail which confuses her, but which seems staggeringly run-of-the-mill to me…  It took me a couple minutes to figure out exactly what the problem was that Bazelon was trying to describe–then I got it.

She’s afraid she’s raising nerds.

That may not be fair–she seems more baffled than fearful.  Though she warmly mentions Harry Potter and Tolkien, it doesn’t sound like she’s actually watched Star Wars before (“The boys had to explain to me who Palpatine is (a Vader ally)”), and she just may not know what’s it’s like to actually be a nerd, to be engaged with fantasy and to bond by sharing that engagement with others.

Emily–it’s okay.  My entire generation is like this.  We’re nerds.  Your kids are nerds.  It’s not pathological.  Relax.


(Geez, where do I file this?  Guess it’s time to add a SciFi category.)

the 12 values at

As promised, there’s another installment of The Poetry of Glenn Beck over at Salon.

I must take a moment to apologize to Mr. Beck:  I spent the whole of the previous post spelling his name wrong.  Clearly, just one ‘n’ is just not enough to contain Glenn Beck.

meatballs from the furniture store

I’m always wary of Salon–politically, I’m generally in synch with them, but I find nearly eighty percent of their content infuriating (and, as regards the other twenty percent, I always make the mistake of looking at the comments, which are invariably nauseating).  It’s like a bad relationship, really:  I just keep going back, and I keep getting hurt.

Happily, the always-wonderful Kyrie O’Connor went and spotted The Poetry of Glen Beck (arranged by Hart Seely and Tom Peyer) for us, and it really makes up for months of heartbreak.  Beck is a total nutcase, and he represents pretty much the worst America has to offer, but laid out on the page, his words create an almost-lovely portrait of American right-wing paranoia, and it’s immensely more palatable than actually listening to him.

It (the Poetry, not the lunacy) reminds of me Anna Deavere Smith’sTwilight: Los Angeles project, in which she interviewed a couple dozen Angelenos about the 1992 LA Riots and their aftermath.  Word for word, she built their responses into poetic monologues, and then took them on tour as a one-woman show, as well as making a film version.  Like “The Poetry of Glen Beck”, Twilight turns a collection of unstructured human thoughts and words into a poetically coherent, readable and enjoyable portrait of a nation struggling with its own cultural dysfunction.

I like Beck better this way.  He’s a much better accidental poet than he is a pundit.  Salon promises more tomorrow, I’ll let you know if it’s as good as the first batch.


(* Yes, she’s also President Bartlet’s National Security Advisor.)