Get Off My Chest! Episode 3: Special Election Special

San Franciscan Diane Karagienakos and Seattleite Paul Pearson are the consummate online friends. They have never met in person. They’ve never Skyped or even spoken on the phone. In fact, if not for their mutual connection to exactly two people, they might not have ever known of each other’s existence. But they instant-message each other with a rapport like they’ve been doing this internet thing for a hundred years.

In our third episode, Diane and Paul commiserate about the 2012 election. You will re-experience every cynical experience you have already experienced about the election. We will offer no answers for your most burning questions. We will lament as you have about the exhaustive nature of this process. We'll come up with creative ways to complain about the disintegration of comparative political thought. We'll get enraged about obvious obliviousness in this election, and then we'll end our discussion abruptly. Then we'll go cry, even if our candidates win. 

By the way, lots of swearing in this piece, so -- PARENTAL ADVISORY. Also, this convo took place on Halloween, hence the Halloween-y references. Enjoy.


Paul: Do we have liftoff?

Diane: Roger Roger. Clearance Clarence.

Paul: Freaking A. How's it going Diane?

Diane: The world is orange and black here in SF. Between Halloween (mos def an adult holiday in this city) and the Giants parade. I'm avoiding the maddening crowd! How are you doing?

Paul: We have Nestle's Crunch and $100,000 bars. Plus these little macaroni and cheese mini-cakes. Plus grandparents and television. Are you freaking excited about this election? Can you stand it anymore? Are you getting your electoral on?

Diane: MAC AND CHEESE MINI CAKES?!?!?!? I'm scared. Not scared of the cakes -- the election.

Paul: Well, actually, they're standard macaroni and cheese, but baked in a cupcake pan.

Diane: How is it in Seattle? Because here in San Francisco, it's pretty radio silent, in terms of the campaign commercials. California is a Democratic given. And SF being so self-absorbed as a city, the only thing you hear about election-wise is all the propositions.

Paul: It's wall to wall advertisements here. Our senator, Maria Cantwell, might as well be running uncontested. Extraordinarily popular Democratic senator. Good person.

Diane: And how come EVERY election gets the label "This is THE most important presidential election of our lifetime"?

Paul: Yeah. You know, pretty much every new presidential election will be the most important election of our lifetime. Isn't it? I mean, what use do I have for the 2004 election? It's no good to me.

Diane: I'm just flabbergasted that people are upset that Obama didn't "fix it" in 4 years or think that Mitt might "fix it" in the next four.

Paul: Well, that's a matter of the tone this country seems suited to these days.

Diane: I mean, fix the economy? Are people not aware that it is impacted by the shitty economy in Europe right now? Just to name one factor.

Paul: Nobody cares. Absolutely nobody cares to look deeply into this. They're too busy searching for Kenyan birth certificates.

Diane: And where are all those tea baggers who insisted that the leader be a Christian? Shouldn't they be protesting Romney right now, being that he's Mormon and all.

Paul: I mean, leave this whole race behind for a second. Forget about Obama. Forget about Romney. How... did... this... media... get... so.... stupid? I think we're a lazy-minded electorate now. And this shit, meaning this election, lasts for eighteen months.

Diane: You know Paul, I'm gonna go for it, and I'm not even drinking here. All this goddamn talk about creating jobs -- what kind of jobs are they talking about, the small business owner? They're talking about someone making just over minimum wage in a retail or low-skill job. They shipped all the middle class jobs over to Bangladesh or China or Korea or wherever else they can pay a pittance to have the work done or the product built.

And as for Mitt being a great business man and that means he can fix the economy. Hey, guess what: Lots of great businessmen turn a great profit for their companies by outsourcing or cutting jobs. It doesn't mean he has the bigger picture in mind.

Paul: I don't believe anyone. That is my great anger. And it disappoints me, but on the other hand, what the hell else am I supposed to feel?

Diane: Do you think there is a place in our society today for a Walter Cronkite or an FDR? Someone people trusted enough to just say, "Whatever you say, I trust your guidance."

Paul: I don't believe anyone is going to make a real effort to increase job creation in the United States. Certainly not Romney. He's already shown what he does, and it's shipping jobs overseas and closing companies. There's your record. But I don't know that I'd have faith that Obama would do anything differently, wholesale that is.

Re: Cronkite/FDR - Interesting question. Cronkite-wise -- My wife and I are huge Brian Williams fans. I think he's the closest we have to a true, universally trusted media source. Plus he can sneak in the snark when he sees fit. I don't think there's a place for the Cronkites of the world. Back in his heyday, the national news was just on once a day. You missed it, and that was it - you'd have to wait for the newspapers or the next day's broadcast. So Cronkite cornered the market. You can't corner the market nowadays - it's on 24 hours a day. And I guess, instead of rationalism and investigative intelligence, they decided to go with the crazies.

Diane: It's all about $$$ now. Ratings, advertisers. Showbiz.

Paul: Yeah, it's about the money, but it's also about that portion of the electorate who's latching on to these crass new belief systems. It's a perversion of Howard Beale. Who was fictional to begin with.

Diane: Beale -- Network, right?

Paul: Yes, Beale is from Network.

Diane: Right now we need someone who can build working relationships with the changing face of leadership in the Middle East. Things are a lot different now than when we had our puppets in power. And I don't just mean the leaders over there; even the leaders there are still trying to get control over the Taliban and Al-Qaida. These are realities unlikely to change anytime soon if ever. And I fear it would be very easy for the wrong leader to make them hat us and what we stand for more than they do already. A little gasoline goes a long way on a fire. I think Obama/Hilary had done as well as anybody could in this climate.

Paul: I have no qualms with Obama's foreign policies. I think he's done well. And I love Hillary right now. She looks so pissed off and exhausted. Seriously, that's what I want in my politician. I want someone who's been up all night dealing with shrieking banshees and bad caffeine products, and looks like she's been working at it.

Diane: I really wanted her to be the Democratic candidate in 2008. She had the experience and the balls. Politics is an ugly game and she knows how to play it. I thought Obama was too fresh and, well, full of Hope. Which is nice. Jimmy Carter was nice. It's not as effective and skill, experience, and balls.

Oh, and these...what are they called, big pac, the huge donors to the parties or candidates. This is a very dangerous thing.

Paul: Super PAC's. Screw them.

Diane: They will screw us. They're bigger and better funded. I wish I could joke about this, but it's serious shit.

Now I am gonna make myself a Bloody Mary!

Paul: I think we should do our elections like England. Six weeks of campaigning, and that's it. Two debates. And then it's all over. It would pump a lot of money out of campaign funds, and potentially back to programs that might help. Oh, but then, oh God The Socialism.

Diane: Heh heh heh.

Paul: So screw it. I couldn't care less about the personalities running for president. I'm an issues voter this year.

Diane: Way too on the money, that Paddy. What are your big issues, Paul?

Paul: Hey Diane, we're all gonna get gay married in Washington State next week!

Diane: That's something you can't even do in California yet.

Paul: So, one interesting thing that's been happening with Referendum 74, advertisement-wise, is the persecution complex of the opposition. The pro-74 campaign has raised WAY more money than the anti-74 campaign. There is no real solid argument against 74 aside from marriage-is-a-contract-and-for-procreation-purposes-blah blah blah.

So what the anti's have resorted to are a couple of commercials whose main thrust has absolutely nothing to do with the referendum. Instead, it's about people who are standing for "traditional marriage" -- and then getting sued, fired or complained about because of their "beliefs."

Diane: So infertile or old people: no right to marry, as you ain't making babies? I love these arguments so weak a four-year-old could tear it to shreds.

Paul: That was my argument long ago... yeah. There was this couple in Vermont who ran a bed-and-breakfast, and refused to allow a lesbian couple to get married on their premises. So the lesbians sued for discrimination, and won. Now the couple can't have weddings on their premises, and had to pay a fine. And they're sad. All because they were bigo-- errr, I mean, they stated their opposition to gay marriage.

They are offering absolutely no reasonable counter-argument. They're not addressing anything contained in Referendum 74. They're just being morons. Seriously, if that's the kind of ridiculousness you're going to put up in favor of your position, I really don't see why you shouldn't be sued or fired. And it doesn't matter, because that has nothing to do with Referendum 74.

Diane: They'd make so much more money on gay marriages. Think about it, all those adults with disposable income and far less children in the mix. Mo money to party! Capitalism, people, get with it!

Paul: Between the gay marriages and limited marijuana legalization, hell, Washington State's gonna be rolling in dough. Freaking A.

Diane: One of my big issues is of course women's health. My blue shield plan covered Viagra, but not birth control pills. Discuss.

Paul: Well, you know, being a white, middle-aged man, I know what's best for you. But I'll let you go ahead and express an opinion (checking watch): Go!

Diane: Well, if you're gonna force every female to have her baby, you'd better damn well increase welfare, health services (like Planned Parenthood) etc., to take care of that momma and baby. ‘Cause I doubt lots of rich white folk are looking to adopt poor brown babies. I know I'm generalizing, but I’m not really kidding, either.

Paul: What do you think about the current whirlpool of rape talk amongst the GOP cognoscenti lately? My goodness, these guys earned their honorary doctorates! Honestly - were we that stupid about this kind of issue 10 years ago? 20 years ago?

Diane: Okay, I remember the "actual rape" one; what's the latest one again?

Paul: "Legitimate rape" you mean. Yes. The latest was that senate candidate saying that a pregnancy that's the result of a rape is still a "gift from God."

Diane: FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK! He (I'm assuming that's a "he") did not say that!

Paul: Let me get the exact quote for you.

Diane: I mean, some people keep their babies from rape and yes, ultimately have a happy ending. But NO ONE else has the fucking right to make that determination for a RAPE FUCKING VICTIM.
I've been too busy typing to make that Bloody Mary, but I must make it now. I'm pissed!

Paul: Richard Mourdock, GOP senate candidate from Indiana: “I believe that life begins at conception … The only exception I have, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Diane: Oh -- and one of them said that there's no such thing as the mother's life being in danger. Find that quote. And these fucking nimrods convince people to vote for this with this kind of ignorant self-serving idiocy?

Paul: Here, this is from a local Washington candidate named John Koster:



Paul: Again, my question: How did we as a nation manage to get stupid about this issue? Or this "thing," I guess.

Diane: They should lock him in a woman's prison for 24 hours with the ladies.

Paul: We were really discussing things in such a puerile manner in the '80s and '90s? This is seriously some "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader" type shit here.

Diane: I don't even know what to say. It's surreal. And it's scary.

Paul: (Sigh) Yeah, it's stupid. Well, anyway. I was hoping to come up with more one-liners.

Diane: I'm seriously speechless.

Paul: Then I just get flustered and angry. So who do you think is going to win on Tuesday?

Diane: Oh my... I kinda think Obama might, but wouldn't be surprised if Mitt did... really don't know.

Paul: I think Obama's got it. I don't see how Romney is going to overtake the urban vote.

Diane: Let me bring this up about the debates, where each side was so sure their side kicked ass (except the first one, where everyone agreed Obama never completely woke up): I'm fascinated how people see what they want to see. How will the electoral college factor into that, and why do we still have that damn thing. I mean, it pretty much means every vote is not equal, does it not?

Paul: Strictly speaking I'm an independent voter, so to me the whole debate thing looked childish.

Diane: I'm a registered Libertarian. It's a lovely ideal. But it will never ever work, Libertarianism, because people are people and much of the time people are stupid or selfish or both.

Paul: I read the other day why they had the electoral college in the first place - it sounded like it made sense at a certain time, like 1776.

You're a Libertarian? I had no idea. I have been flirting with joining that party for the last ten years.

Diane: Right to bear arms made sense then too. I'm not against guns, but some of the arguments and plain stupid. Gee, the word stupid comes up an awful lot when I write about Americans and politics! I joined the Libertarian party when I first got back to the US after being overseas for two and a half years. I don't like our two-party system, so that was my little act of protest. Again, great ideals, completely unrealistic.

Paul: That's why I think that all this increased information has made us less intelligent as a country. You can't popularize legitimate, intelligently delivered treatises anymore. From either side of the political spectrum. William Buckley and George Will would have been roundly ignored in this current environment if they were starting out. Our status as a country of ideas has almost completely disintegrated. A lot of my Republican friends agree with that.

Diane: I've never actually voted Libertarian. I got back in the country just in time for the 2000 election, and there's been no alternative really but the two damn parties we're stuck with. Oh wait! I voted Libertarian once: In 2004 I voted for their candidate Starchild (a bisexual sex-worker here in SF) for school board member. The thought of the nightly local news featuring a story that started with 'And in other news, Starchild spoke out on behalf of the children today..." just made me happy in an otherwise depressing election.

Paul: I haven't voted Libertarian either, although Gary Johnson struck me as a pretty good candidate.

So we probably agree that the two-party system is corrupt and insufficient. What will it take to break their hold on the electoral process? How do we convince enough people to take a chance on a third party? Or a fourth? Will Libertarianism manage to mainstream itself, or should it even try?

Diane: I doubt Libertarianism will mainstream itself in any way. That would sort of be like saying "we needed to make it better,” and Libertarians are quite adamant that their belief system is perfect as is. Have you ever tried arguing with one of those people? I love saying that, "Those People."

The Super PACs will play a role in either reinforcing the old way, or bring in some wonder-pol that comes with so much cashola he/she blows the others out of the race. Highly unlikely. But as long as this sort of money is involved, nothing will change, only get more special-interest focused.

Paul: Right. And the Super PACs are only interested in funneling emotion, which means they're free to distort the record and use inaccuracy since they don't have to make an intelligent argument resonate.

Hey... I gotta run. They're all going trick or treating. I have to accompany them. Thanks for being enraged with me.

Diane: Ciao.



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