Sunday, August 10, 2003

Recall Mania, part 2:
According to the Calif. Secretary of State, there will be between 55 and 155 candidates on the ballot. This will probably end up on Wednesday being very close to the top end of the scale. The subject is being talked to death all over the national news, often with a pretty mean angle, and focusing on the more absurd parts of the election. Of course, many people involved have invited this. The East Bay Express, for instance, a weekly I used to respect, has idiotically sponsored the canidacy of Gary Coleman as a gag. But somehow it turns into, everyone in California is crazy, and CNN is eating it up.

Darrell Issa surprised everyone by dropping out of the campaign for governor after single-handedly funding the recall. This will shut up a lot of recall opponents who have argued that Issa funded the recall just so he could run for governor himself. This will shut them up even though it is obvious he dropped out because he didn't think he could win against Schwarzenegger.

Garamendi also wisely dropped out, opening the way for Bustamante to represent the Democrats if Davis loses the recall. This although at least 22 others will run as Democrats (including Larry Flint). Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger has to contend with several high profile Republicans.

I haven't seen any polls, but I think Bustamante has the best chance of winning this thing, as the only main Democrat, and a pretty popular, well-known figure.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Recall Mania!
I saw Arnold Schwarzenegger's apperance on Jay Leno tonight. He announced he is running for governor to "Pump up Sacramento" and say "Hasta La Vista, Baby" to Gray Davis. He literally said these things. This is his actual platform.

Man this recall is crazy. I wish I was still in California so I could vote. Just to see the ballot would be fun. Among the other candidates are Peter Camejo of the Green Party, Ariana Huffington, Republican state senator Tom McClintock, recall funder Darrell Issa, as well as lesser known politicians such as S. Issa (no relation to Darrell), Michael Jackson ("a satellite project manager"). Want to keep score at home?

Unfortunately, I can't participate in this historic and entertaining, and potentially tragic (Gov. Schwarzenegger?) event. So let me do some vicarious punditry. The Democrats need to run someone. Not to run a candidate seems perverse. It throws all their eggs in the "the recall will fail" basket of wishful hopes. This strategy may succeed, but even so, it only really benefits Gray Davis. Consider: If the recall fails because the Democrats ran no candidates, it may not mean the Republicans wasted tax payer money by creating a useless recall, but that the Democrats sabotaged the recall by refusing to participate. Because I'm sure there are people out there that want to vote for the recall, but also for a Democrat to replace Davis. Also, now that Schwarzenegger has said he will run, the recall is more likely to succeed. In which case, one popular Democrat could beat the numerous Republicans, who will likely split the vote (the "populist" Schwarzenegger, the experienced McClintock, the extreme Issa). It appears liutenant governor Cruz Bustamante may buck the Gray Davis pressure and run to replace him (Update- he's in). If no other serious Democrat (Loretta Sanchez, say) enters the race, that creates a likely senario in which the recall narrowly passes, but most of the anti-recall voters vote for Bustamante, and the Democrats keep the seat. Unfortunately, this may lead to another mid-term election to replace Bustamante, but I'm not sure how that would work.

Saturday is the deadline for turning in papers to run, and Wednesday is the deadline for the Calif. Secretary of State to certify the candidates. So we'll know by then at the latest how many names will be on the ballot.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

There is an editorial in the NY Times today by Dave Eggers. I have been thinking for a while about writing an article about him and how his philanthropic desires color his fiction, and how that has influenced the McSweeny's "movement". Although I think he would deny there was any McSweeny's or Eggers-led "literary movement," his modest publishing empire-magazines and books seems to me to have created a common style, and also, to an extent, a common... hmmm, I can't think of the word... inoffensiveness. I haven't worked it all through, but maybe I'll bring myself to write it one of these days.

In contrast with the Dave Eggers save the world philosophy, I've been reading Dark Star Safari, by Paul Theroux. It is his latest travel book, in which he travels from Cairo to the Cape. It's his first trip back to Africa since he was a peace corp. teacher in Uganda and Malawi in the 1960s. He finds that very little has changed, and was has changed has often declined. The book is wonderfully reported, and very passionate. He had envisioned the trip as a homecoming of sorts, and as often happens with such trips, he is disappointed by what he finds. The aid groups have multiplied in number, but the Africans have done little to help themselves, and Theroux decides foreign aid has done more harm than good. He contrasts the subsistence economies of the villages to the slums of the city. Theroux is repetitive on these points, and at points the book becomes a polemic--a persuasive polemic--against foreign aid groups. He makes good arguments, and many of the people he meets on his trip reinforce his theory. Theroux's disappointment grows as he travels south closer to where he had lived (where I'm reading he is in Malawi), and this sours the reader's enjoyment somewhat as well, but only somewhat, because of Theroux's humor and the details and observations he offers and the different people he meets.
I've been promising myself and others to restart this thing, and I've been meaning to, so here goes.
A lot has happened lately. Erin and I moved to Washington DC, where she is starting school at the end of August. After quitting work at the end of June we packed up and drove accross the country, stayed with Erin's aunt in Arlington for a couple weeks, and then moved into our new place near Georgetown. I'm looking for a job, but this has been kind of like a long vacation for both of us, and I've been pretty unproductive.
I've gotten into the habit of getting up late and staying up late playing video games and waiting for the A's games to finish. Following baseball games via espn's website is the worst possible way, but i don't have much motivation to go to sleep. Right now, for instance, it is 1:30am, the A's game is tied in the 10th, and I'm going to go to bed even if the game isn't over when i finish writing this. What I should really do is write until the game ends.

A couple of the not so great things about DC came to my attention again today. I had a rare job interview today, but the bus I was going to take didn't come; the next one didn't come either. The DC metro, as far as I can tell, is great. Unfortunately, we don't live very close to any metro stops, and we don't have a car anymore, so we have to rely on the buses, which it seems we can't. Erin called the DC transit phone number, and when she told them our buses hadn't come, they said there was no delay. She pointed out that from where we were sitting there was obviously a delay, or worse. But the woman on the phone said sorry, there isn't a delay.

After calling to reschedule my interview, we left to go to a jazz concert at the sculpture garden by the mall. But it started pouring--we were walking--and so we changed plans and went to see Finding Nemo. It was pretty good. I actually thought it was pretty scary--oceans freak me out.

Okay, game's over. i'll try to write tomorrow.