We are back from DC and Ithaca. We left before the AAR was over, which might have been precipitous as I'm sure there were many people I could have seen in DC but didn't, but it was nice to spend the time with Justin's family and friends. We got back at 10 PM last night and I'm still not fully recovered, so I'll post more about our trip when I'm feeling more energetic.
We're headed to DC tomorrow for the annual AAR (American Academy of Religion) conference, and thence (I said "thence"!) to Ithaca for Thanksgiving. I can't think of anything exciting to say about all that, but I'll probably have pictures and/or stories to share from the road.
Well, almost a week later. It's a week later in Europe! Of course, they didn't have our election.
Justin feels I should reiterate that driving in DC does not actually endanger our marriage. Of course he's right. An eternity of driving in DC would not diminish our love. But we do have really delightful exchanges like this:
Justin: Turn there! Turn there! Why didn't you turn there? Juliet: I didn't have time! Justin: Yes, you did! Juliet: [exasperated] Do you want to drive? Justin: I've been offering to drive for the last ten minutes. Juliet: Oh, right.
Thanks a lot, Pierre L'Enfant, you homewrecker.
My confusion about how large the majority is in the House is, I believe, due to two different numbers floating around: the number of seats Democrats gained from Republicans, and the majority they have as a result. Obviously the majority isn't as large as the total number of seats they gained. I mean, obvious if you've done math since graduating from high school, which I have studiously avoided, due in part to my traumatic history with calculators.
The 2008 presidential race has shaped up over the past few weeks as follows: Mark Warner dropped out, which is a bummer because the apparent shift to center-left would favor him. Russ Feingold dropped out, which means not-Hillary on the left is...Al Gore? John Edwards? (I don't get the appeal of Edwards. Justin described him as a Ken doll. I've never understood the appeal of Ken dolls either. Or Kennedys. Kennedys all look weird to me, like a cross between a leprechaun and a pug.) McCain and Giuliani are officially exploring the possibility of running for president, whereas before the election they were only thinking about exploring the possibility of running for president. That's one less layer of calculated noncommitment, see? And there's Barack Obama too. I don't know what to make of him except that he's the Democrats' best orator since Clinton, and we could all use someone who's easy on the ears right about now.
Ann Althouse has had a lively thread about how moderates brought Democrats to power and Democrats had better recognize. I agree. I'm a moderate who voted for Jim Webb, which makes me one of about 9000 people (last I saw the numbers) who put him ahead of Allen. Therefore I am one of the relatively few voters responsible for the Democratic majority in the Senate. Democrats, go make me a sandwich.
(I'm not sure what else I even want from the Democrats. But a sandwich sounds nice.)
I'm starting to add blogs to my blogroll by people I don't know in real life, partly because I like having the links handy, partly because the people I do know are indecisive about having blogs. If you want to be there, I'll add you if I like you enough. A long blogroll makes me look cool. It's all about compensating for not being one of the popular kids in high school.
I have this icon now in the DC Blogs live feed that's based on my current template, which is fine, except that I've never found a template I like, so who knows how long I'll keep this one. My dream masthead (while I'm fixated on this mountain thing) is to have the Cascades fading into the Blue Ridge, since, you know, they look totally alike. Of course if we move again, I'll have to get a new masthead.
I changed my blog description, which, at two lines, was bumping into the red line on some browsers (and by the way, the red line doesn't appear on every computer, which is kind of weird), but I'm not happy with that, either. "And no one heard at all, not even the chair" is from "I Am I Said," by Neil Diamond, which Dave Barry called one of the worst songs ever. And it is. But it's about the emotional trauma of feeling torn between one coast to the other, and I understand that, although come to think of it, I don't really want to live on the west coast again, so maybe I don't. Anyway, what's a snappy one-liner that'll sum up my blog and look nice transposed over some mountains, some snowy, some not so snowy?
I probably shouldn't add a permanent link to my Meez because it's so myspacey and twee, but I put so much time into getting her just right that I really have to show her to you. I love how 1. I get to bring a cat into my virtual library and 2. the cat's all like GET ME AWAY FROM THIS CRAZY WOMAN WHO'S RUBBING HER FACE ON ME!
(Dude, if I do lists, they appear in a different font. Another reason I don't like this template. Bleaghle.)
Justin's great-great-great grandfather's grave in Clear Lake, Minnesota.
For the first of our ancestors on these shores who served our country, for our grandfathers who served during WWII and the Korean War, for those who have served in decades since and are serving now; for those who have given up years of their lives in the cause of freedom, for our country, for the citizens of our country, and for all the people of the world, we observe this day.
I sort of bumbled into this job for next semester as an adjunct instructor at a community college about an hour from here. They had my CV on file from last June, emailed me to ask if I'd be interested in teaching, and then told me I was hired as soon as I said I was. The pay is exiguous; it pays for gas and probably little more than minimum wage once you calculate how many hours I'll spend lecturing, grading, and doing prep, but it's good experience. I'm a little intimidated because it's an introductory religion course from a comparative perspective, and although you'd think, gee, I have a masters in comparative religion, I really prefer the historical/theological/scriptural perspective from which I've studied religion since I started my doctoral studies.
This, however, combined with my tutoring (which hour for hour is much more profitable) should provide our little human-feline household enough income to pay for most of our basic expenses. That's nice.
I went up there today to fill out paperwork. It's a nice drive, especially today when it was 75 degrees and sunny, although I'll be doing it in the dark for much of the semester.
Well, the best possible result would be for Justin to win the election pool, but I don't think he will. He didn't predict the House would go so far for the Democrats.
Oh, but what does this mean for the country, and for Moderate With Flat hat?
1. Overall, a divided government is probably a good thing. More gridlock means less spending, I hope.
2. I'd have preferred the Senate flip rather than the House (it might yet--Montana and Virginia are still too close to call) because the House might initiate impeachment proceedings and I think that would be bad for the country and for Democrats, but a lot of the new Congresspeople are moderates, so that might not happen anyway.
3. Justin's saying Democrats have a thirteen-seat majority in the house (it might be as high as eighteen), which is not a lot. (11:55: I'm apparently really off on that. It's more like 24 seats, or more. I'm really tired.)
4. Lieberman's victory makes me very happy. Mostly because I believe in rule by the people (=Democrats) and not rule by Democrats (Democratcrats) who thought he was obligated to drop out of the race because of a small majority in the primary by a teeny percentage of Connecticut voters and therefore deprive the majority of people who, as it turned out, did prefer having the right to check his name on the ballot.
5. A very severe anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment passed in Virginia. By a lot.
Santorum concedes. Lieberman retains his seat. (We are moderates; hear us roar!) Cardin is probably winning in Maryland. Chafee makes nobody happy. Allen seems to be winning Virginia, but it's really close.
Our long-awaited Chinese food is finally here.
11:26: Justin calls the House for the Democrats. Senate looks to be staying slight majority Republican. We are eating cake.
11:57: With 99.1% of precincts reporting, Allen leads Webb by less than 2,000 votes. 25,567 voted for the Independent Green candidate; 2,263 wrote in votes. Hmmm.
12:08: Justin emphasizes that a lot of the Democrats who are winning House seats are moderates. Jove's mom (former speechwriter for Kucinich) calls and Justin tells her, "Tag! You're it!"
12:28: Webb's leading on the Virginia website with 99.26% of precincts reporting. This will probably go to a recount.
12:55: Everyone who's not spending the night is headed home. Still too soon to know for sure which way the Senate will go. Now the buzz is whether anyone will challenge Pelosi for Speaker. I've been hopped up on coffee for the last sixteen hours, but I'm fading. Whoa, FOX is predicting Democrats will pick up 30 to 35 seats in the House. Washington and Montana Senate seats go to Democrats. Other Senate seats, including Virginia, too close to call. News will be waiting for me when I wake up tomorrow.
Allen leads Webb with a little over half the precincts in. All the ballot measures (one anti-gay marriage, two that were convoluted but sounded okay) are passing. Goode (rhymes with dude) leads Weed (heh, weed!) by a lot.
We're waiting on Chinese food. Busy night for food delivery here in DC.
Justin and I are here, east of the Capitol, for our Election Night Extravaganza!
It took us four hours to drive here from Charlottesville, pick up Jove from work, and get to his apartment. DC traffic is heinous. And when you're coming in on 395, and you're looking for the D St. exit, it would be nice if there were an actual sign for the D St. exit. As far as we could tell, there are several signs saying it's coming up, but no signs for the ramp itself. It's happened to us twice that we've ended up on like New York Avenue or K St. or something. Washington, take some of the mad government money swirling around here and buy some signs so Justin and I don't have marriage-endangering arguments every time we drive here. (Actually, it wasn't so bad this time, but why take any extra risks?) Thank you.
Before we ditched town, we participated in the electoral process.
I took that like ten minutes ago. Digital cameras and high-speed Internet are awesome.
We'll be spending tomorrow night with our cable-equipped friends in DC. Justin's sent in his picks for competitive Congressional seats. His friends have a pool going, but a number refuse to participate because they're convinced Justin will win, with all the time he spends mapping the political landscape. I'm planning on baking the same almost-flourless chocolate cake that I made two years ago for election night when we were in Berkeley. Everyone went home sad, but hey, at least they had cake. Girl With Flat Hat officially endorses cake in 2006. As for your other election day choices, you're on your own.
1. Pay attention to what kind of Democrats win. If it's moderates, and they're the ones who seem to have the best shot, that might not be quite the mandate the party base is expecting. (Speaking of mandates, did ~51% somehow become a mandate in the last two years? Why are so many Democrats calling Lieberman "selfish" for continuing his Senate campaign despite [barely] losing his party's nomination when so many Connecticut voters seem to want the chance to vote for him? If you want voters to have fewer choices, who's being selfish? Reason #1,862 I'm not registered with either of your stupid parties, you sycophantic partisans.)
2. I heard (but from Fox News, so who knows?) that Republicans have rapidly made up ground in the most recent polls. I want this to have to do with Kerry, just because I'm still feeling snarky about that, but it could be for other reasons: the Saddam verdict, last-minute campaigning, Karl Rove activating his Secret Victory Machine of Doom at the eleventh hour...
3. Justin, who knows more about the history of politics than anyone in Charlottesville except Larry Sabato, says he can't think of a two-term president whose party didn't lose Congressional seats in their sixth year. So I'd say if Democrats don't kick Republicans' skanky butts six ways to Sunday in this election, especially given Bush's abysmal popularity and mediocre performance, they had best rethink how they run campaigns before 2008.
Less politics and more flathattery after the election, I promise.
I don't know how it is in the rest of the state, but here in the greater Charlottesville-Albemarle metropolitan area, the Democrats have gone to the following efforts:
1. Put a card on our doorknob to tell us to vote (for Jim Webb and Al Weed) 2. Had our local delegate, David Toscano, call us in person (not a recording, a person!) to tell us to vote (for Jim Webb and Al Weed) 3. Put a table out on the Downtown Mall with free Democratic campaign materials, including the ever-popular-with-the-kids WEED bumper stickers! (Oh, they say Al Weed? Oh, okay. Never mind we just took six of them. Carry on.)
Meanwhile, not a peep from the Republicans, unless they were behind that recorded abortion "survey" I hung up on a couple weeks ago. I thought Karl Rove was going to hunt us down and drive us to the polls with cattle prods. Maybe they heard that Justin was threatening to write in Macaca for Senator and decided we weren't faithful enough.
This is the stub of a Girl With Flat Hat FAQ. Nobody ever asks me questions, but if you want to ask one, here are all the answers in one handy place. (And seriously, I have snot coming out of me in shades of green that don't ordinarily occur in nature. Don't mess with me. I can do anything right now except talk. I can definitely find you wherever you are and cough on you.)
Do you really wear a flat hat? No. I just like that statue in my profile.
Is this a blog about politics? No. But I post about politics sometimes. Probably too often.
What is this blog about, then? It's partly a way for several friends of mine in Seattle who read it to keep up with my life, partly an outlet for "creative writing" in the sense that I used to do but rarely do anymore, partly for me to vent. It has no theme. Any attempt to discern a theme will drive you to insanity. Don't send me the bill from the psychiatric ward. I'll get phlegm on it anyway.
Are you a Republican or a Democrat? Neither. I don't submit to your arbitrary categories!
Well, are you registered as a Republican or a Democrat? Neither. Never have been. I asked for a Republican ballot in the 2000 primary so I could vote for McCain. Otherwise I've always voted as an independent.
Have you ever campaigned for a Republican or a Democrat? I stuffed envelopes for a local candidate for state representative when I was in high school. He was a Democrat, but he later switched parties. Probably something to do with his being pro-life even as a Democrat.
Just freaking tell me what party you identify with before I come over there and kick you. Okay. I'm Republican, sorta. I think a lot of Republicans currently in office are loathsome people, but I happen to agree with Republicans more often than I agree with Democrats, so there you go.
Do you have friends you disagree with politically? Of course. You don't?
But if someone disagrees with you, doesn't that mean they're evil and stupid? No, it means they have a different way of seeing the world and draw different conclusions from what they see. Or else they are evil and stupid. That's always a possibility. But all my friends are smart and nice.
If I use a word like DhimmicRAT or RethugliKKKan, does that make me clever? No. What are you, like, in seventh grade?
Who should I vote for? I don't know. They're all kinda lame.
I like your pictures. What camera do you use? I use a Canon Digital Rebel XT and an assortment of lenses that I spend too much money on.
I don't like your pictures. Please stop posting them. Is someone holding a gun to your head and making you look at them? No? Strange, that's what it sounded like.
There's something you haven't written about that's far more important than any of the silly things you post about. Will you post about it? No. Get your own damn blog.
What if it's a post about saving all the starving malarial children in Zaire or something like that? Well, maybe. But it's not called Zaire anymore.
You didn't answer my question. Where do you live so I can ask you in person and/or strew your yard with rotting vegetables? I don't have a yard, so there! But you can email me at the address on the sidebar.
I have a few thoughts I'll make as non-partisan as I can. (Which still isn't very non-partisan. I'm not gonna lie. I don't really like Kerry. I don't much like Bush either. Since I didn't live in a swing state in 2004, I didn't feel obligated to vote for either of them. God bless write-in slots.)
1. If Kerry hadn't said anything noteworthy, what would've dominated the news cycle instead? Probably George Allen's goons roughing up a Democrat here in Charlottesville. The Allen/Webb campaign has already drawn intense national interest for its competitiveness and drama (I mean drama in the lame junior-highish sense), and Kerry blew a great news story for Democrats by shifting the attention to himself, with only a week to go before the election, no less.
2. There are those Kerry defenders who think he doesn't need to apologize for what he said. (What's odd is that his defenders don't agree on whether he was "right" in the sense that he was talking about Bush getting us stuck in Iraq because he didn't study hard enough in school [notwithstanding Kerry's similarly lackluster Yale GPA--let's just settle this right now: you and I, dear reader, are smarter than BOTH these bozos], or right about what it sounded like he was saying about the troops in Iraq. If you can't agree on what he was talking about, isn't that in itself indicative of a problem?) In this case, when Kerry's reputation isn't on the line but his party's is, it doesn't matter whether he was right. Kerry needed to apologize as soon as he realized he'd caused a kerfuffle and get out of the news as soon as possible, for the sake of his party. No, he's not running for office, but he's still the public face of the Democratic party, as their most recent presidential nominee. I doubt nearly as many people know who the DNC chair is, or who the House minority leader is, as know Kerry was the last Democrat to run for president. I don't mean that he actually is representative of mainstream Democratic opinion, just that people are likely to perceive him that way. What he says matters, not just for Kerry, but for all Democrats, and they have a lot at stake this year. (I doubt that ultimately this incident will make much difference by itself, but it compounds the public image issues that Democrats as well as Republicans have. I can't think of an election year in which discussion of actual, you know, policy was more important, and in which less of it has taken place.)
3. Kerry's just a bad politician. He would be much more savvy if he'd had his belligerant response to the Swift-Boating and his meek response to the controversy surrounding his recent comments. I am operating on the assumption that he was foolish enough to say something unintentionally that would alienate a lot of people, but not so foolish as to intend to say what came out of his mouth. I don't think he can be not foolish, though. "Not foolish" entails not giving your political enemies their material in the first place, and then spending two days making the situation even worse. Kerry has decades of political experience and ran for the highest office in the country. He should know by now how the game works.
Kerry apologizes for comments about troops in Iraq.
National Council of Teachers of English demands apology for split infinitive.
I'm not sure I want this campaign season to end. It's so entertaining! Not in the least inspiring, but entertaining.
Oh, and happy feast of All Saints. I'm headed to church in a few minutes to sing "For All the Saints" the one time a year we get to do it, in my raspy sick voice. At least, as an alto, I can claim it's sultry.