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February 8, 2004 - This is not to say we are a shallow, frivolous people...

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An interesting week in the primaries, wasn't it?   The polls show Kerry could now defeat Bush, and Edwards could too, but by a narrower margin.   And they both did well Tuesday night.   Kerry cleaned up, actually.   Clark squeaked through in Oklahoma.  Joe dropped out.   Dean looks weak.   Sharpton picked up his first delegate. 


And this weekend Kerry grabbed two more big wins, and Dean lost a key union endorsement.

The odd thing is Edwards' surge.  A nice guy people trust, who refuses to rant about the inadequate character of others or about the problems and mistakes of the past, and tends to think instead about how to fix things now and what might be good to do in the future?  How odd.  Blame is so much fun in politics!  Well, the commentators on the right have a new nickname for him - "The Breck Girl."  We'll see what happens to him.  I'll watch for the Ann Coulter article mocking him. 

So this week's primaries are over. 

What do it all mean?  Too early to tell.  But as Markos Moulitsas Z˙niga put it late on Tuesday night:


In Kerry's nightmare world, Dean and Clark drop out.  He doesn't match up favorably one-on-one versus Edwards.  So today's muddy results (Clark wins one, Edwards wins one) was probably Kerry's best realistic outcome (short of winning every contest).  It makes sure the field remains fractured.


No.  Not likely now.  Edwards too is fading.  And on we go. 


Does it matter?

If the Super Bowl halftime show last weekend showed anything at all, it showed we really care about Janet Jackson's erect nipple. 

What really matters?  Celebrities. 

So as seen from Hollywood, the list of who is supporting whom:

Dean has the backing of two fictional presidents, Martin Sheen (President Josiah Bartlett of "West Wing") and Michael Douglas (President Andrew Shepherd of "The American President"), although the man who created both characters, writer Aaron Sorkin, reportedly decided to support Dick Gephardt.  Oops.  Gephardt was gone in a flash.  Dean also has the support of Director Rob Reiner, comedian Robin Williams, and actors Paul Newman, Whoopi Goldberg and Susan Sarandon.  Ah, old folks. 

Clark has Madonna, political gadfly Michael Moore, and actor Ted Danson.  (Looking ahead to a possible Bush-Clark debate, Moore said, "I really want to hear President Bush have to say, 'Yes, General, No, General.'") 

In the battle of the bands, Kerry appears to have captured the old farts vote with endorsements from James Taylor, Carole King, Bette Midler and Peter Yarrow - of Peter, Paul and Mary.

Edwards has the slightly younger folks with Hootie and the Blowfish, while Dennis Kucinich is being backed up by Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Ani Difranco and Michelle Shocked. 

Oh yeah, before he dropped out Gephardt was endorsed by Michael Bolton, Barry Manilow and Tony Bennett.  Need one say more? 

Edwards has been endorsed by the actor Ashton Kutcher.  Who?  Well, Ashton is cute, they say.

Kucinich has pretty impressive list of endorsements: Danny Glover, Ed Asner and Joaquin Phoenix. 

Now that you know all this, who do you think will receive an endorsement from Janet Jackson, or Michael Jackson, or Kobe Bryant, or Martha Stewart, or Scott Peterson?  Enquiring minds want to know!

This is not to say we are a shallow, frivolous people.  No. 

But it has occurred to a number of people that the Super Bowl and its halftime show was a great recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and its variants.  You see that said here and there.  Was this evening designed to give the "resistance fighters" in Iraq - with their roadside bombs and exploding Toyotas - a reason to fight on? 

It wasn't just the briefly bouncing boob and the awful music.  Add in the commercials - the farting horse and the dog that bites a fellow's testicular apparatus to get his master a beer.  And all this framed by a few hours of costumed, steroid-enhanced mutants on speed clobbering each other for glory. 

This was showing the people who wonder about what we're doing in their neighborhood just what folks in the Middle East could have if they just give in to us - what they could be. 

Some future. 


But I did get a reaction from Phillip Raines in Georgia:


There are some people who think football is a metaphor for life.  Is the super bowl their great pilgrimage?  The Hajj is it?  Then we are, in fact, a culture in swift decay.  

This take at the end cracked me up in that theater of the absurd kind of way.  But yeah, I think that's the way it is.  Jaws dropping in the Middle East at the sight of such a ridiculous extravaganza.  Their version of religious fanatics shocked and awed - "...should we cut off her breast or gauge out our own eyes?  Whip me with a chain, or Ill do it myself!"  The Super Bowl use to make me feel kind of sick - like I'd eaten an entire can of cake frosting.  I just couldn't care less about football. 

I've missed the bowl the past three years.  I made a point to go read my poetry at a coffee shop, so glad to be of an audience who doesn't give a shit about the super bowl, or its commercials.  This year I was riding back from Sopchoppy, musing on the sunset behind the silos and flat fields with tractor tracks.  Most bucolic.  My passenger - a retired chimney sweep and former basketball scholarship at Georgia Tech kind of guy - searched the AM waveband in vain for the game, or just the score.  The static wasnt much worse than the game, I figured.  The sound of switching AM stations at night was like a Theremin in a black and white sci-fi movie from the 50s.  I'll sort of miss it when I get XM.


Yes, there is life other than that surrounding the Super Bowl. 

Oh, and if you want to see Sopchoppy, in northern Florida, try The Treehouse by Phillip Raines and Treehouse Chronicles and Phillip Raines Photographs - Phillips' photo-essays on that fine place.  No pictures of Janet Jackson.


So.  The large guys from New England defeated the large guys from Carolina.  John Kerry defeated most of the other Democrats.  Janet Jackson had her week of fame, just as John Dean's scream gave him a week of fame a few weks back.


It's hard to work up the energy to rant about the silliness of what seems important to the "consumers of news."  We are who we are.


One can get all upset, or watch the parade of things with a sardonic grin.  Neither seems worth the effort.  Building a treehouse for the boys is worth the effort.