It's Election Day, or Referendum on Obama's Presidency Day, or Republican Civil War Day, or something. I voted in a disorganized, mostly voter-free polling place in Jersey City for the incument, Jon Corzine, and his feisty runningmate, Loretta Weinberg (before Ms. Weinberg, he was considering Celebrity Apprentice-winner Randall Pinkston).
I felt he was the best of the three major choices, none of which was appealing; though he's been lackluster at governing, he is a committed social, political and ideological progressive, and his few legislative successes have come in this area. In terms of lowering the state's grotesquely high property taxes, he's failed miserably. He's also presided over--but not been linked to--the usual intractable corruption that has historically been endemic to New Jersey. Earlier this year a slew of local Democrats, and one Republican, were caught in a massive crime dragnet; a number of people here in Hudson County, including several people in and around Jersey City's mayor, were indicted, while Hoboken's newly elected mayor, as well as the mayor of Secaucus, were also forced to resign after bribery charges. The global economic collapse hasn't helped him either, though I see little sign that he's doing much to address it other than tacking close to President Obama's coattails. And Obama was here repeatedly, including just this past weekend, again.
But I doubt people in the counties Corzine needs to win heavily (northeastern and far southwestern New Jersey) are going to turn out as much as the middle-belt counties, which are more Republican. I also imagine that many suburbanites assume Christopher J. Christie, the Republican candidate, a Karl Rove protegé and W Bush US Attorney appointee who has been dogged by allegations of misuse of his office and repeated ethics problems, will be as socially liberal as New Jersey's last Republican governor, Christine Todd Whitman, who also turned out to be fiscally irresponsible, in typical late 20th-century fashion. She slashed taxes whenever possible, privatized as much as she could get her hands on and borrowed heavily, leaving the state in the woeful condition it's been in throughout the early years of this century. If he wins Christie will probably reprise this record, with th
The third major candidate, independent Chris Daggett, has offered some interesting proposals, and probably would have gotten my vote if I'd had any confidence that he could move his proposals through the legislature. So it was Corzine, who appears to be losing to Christie as I type this. Voter turnout in Hudson and Essex Counties, two in which Corzine needs to win big, appears to be tepid.
Update: Christie has won and is the Governor-elect of New Jersey. He received 1,132,689 votes, or 49% of the total, to Corzine's 1,026,899, or 44%. Daggett, the 3rd party candidate, received 132,181, or 6%. One wonders had he not been in the race whether Corzine would have eked out a victory?
Across the river in Manhattan, Democrat Bill Thompson, is running against Goliath himself, Republican-turned-Independent Michael Bloomberg. In addition to negotiating with the City Council to repeal the term limits law to give himself another four years, Bloomberg is spending somewhere near $100 million to return to office. And for what? To serve as a caretaker for a city that is visibly falling apart, with rising numbers of homeless families, empty storefronts, and crumbling infrastructure, after having spent 8 years trying to remake Manhattan into a playground for the super-rich, and before that catering to ? This is a record to run on? Were he running against any other Republican, I think Thompson could have won on the merits of his record as head of the Board of Education and NYC Comptroller, which Bloomberg and even New York's previous GOP mayor, the odious Rudy Giuliani, have praised. It does look like Bloomberg will win, but I am praying that the election is closer than anyone expected. I can say with certainty that John Liu will be New York City's next Comptroller.
BTW, it looks like the Thompson-Bloomberg race is closer than anyone thought. As of now--10:30 pm--it's Thompson 48%, Bloomberg 49%...
Update: Bloomberg has won, 51%-46% over Thompson. 50,000 votes separated them; only a little over 1.1 million people voted, out of possibly 4 million. Disgusting.
In the Virginia race, it looks like crypto-extreme right-wing Catholic Republican Bob McDonnell, who wrote a graduate dissertation decrying will defeat hapless Democrat Creigh Deeds, who initially ran away from President Obama to the middle and, it appears, right into the Chesapeake. As a former Virginia resident and voter, I'm not surprised; the state's voting trends concerning the governor's seat seem to swing from far right to moderate left, though never too far from the ideologically conservative vein. As I type this, McDonnell's victory is already being stated as fact.
Maine voters go to the polls today to decide whether to preserve equal rights for same-sex marriage; voters will have the option to ratify the legislature's and governor's passage of same-sex marriage, or to overturn the legislative decision. I think it's unfortunately going to be very close, but I'm hoping that despite the Roman Catholic Church's intervention, No on 1--to preserve marriage equality--will win out.
Update: Right now, the Yes on 1 is winning by a slender margin...
Lastly, two legislative races are unfolding today, though only one has gotten real attention. In New York's 23rd House district, moderate Democrat Bill Owens was facing RNC-vetted and socially liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava (a last name worthy of fictional treatment), until right-wing teabagger Republicans and libertarians decided to throw their support to Doug Hoffman, who'd gotten New York State's Conservative Party's support. This led a slew of high profile right wingers, including Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, to support Hoffman, sidelining Scozzafava, who withdrew and, in a mild shocker, threw her support to Owens. Though the district went for President Obama last year, it had not elected a Democrat to Congress since the 19th century! I am hoping Owens wins, just because it will throw water on some of the more ridiculous MCM punditry out there, which is casting every outcome unfavorable to Democrats as a referendum on the President, when it appears that local issues and the larger economic crisis, which the MCM has yet to address with any seriousness, are underlining today's voting trends. Speaking of local issues and important votes, California also has a special election today: John Garamendi, a progressive Democrat, is expected to replace Ellen Tauscher, a Conservadem, with ease, in a district that had been Republican since...the 19th century! Have you heard the pundits talk about this?
Although I tweeted about all of these congratulations in real time (i.e., last week), let me congratulate once again all the recent recipients of Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation Awards, including Professor Jericho Brown, a CC grad who was honored for his amazing poetry. Congratulations, Jericho!
Congratulations also go to prolific novelist Marie NDiaye, 42, who yesterday became the first black woman to win France's most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt. NDiaye (at right, www.frenchculture.org/), living in exile of Berlin because of the conservative rule of Nicolas Sarkozy and his party, published her first book at age 17 and received the Goncourt Prize for Trois Femmes Puissantes (Three Powerful Women). Félicitations à Marie NDiaye.
Yesterday, two intellectual giants passed away: pioneering (post-)structuralist anthropologist and intellectual Claude Lévi-Strauss and anti-Francoite novelist and philosopher Francisco Ayala. Over the last few weeks, the world has also lost photographer Roy DeCarava, whose collaboration with Langston Hughes, Sweet Flypaper of Life, is one of my great inspirations; feminist artist extraordinaire Nancy Spero; Professor Ray Browne, the founder of pop-culture studies; Raymond Federman, one of the giants of experimental American lit, especially "surfiction," during my college years and before; and fashion photographer Irving Penn, among others.
They are perhaps the best known song lyrics about a US city to appear in a movie. The movie was On the Town. It hit screens in 1949, was written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, who was one of its stars, along with "Old Blue Eyes," Frank Sinatra, and danceuse Ann Miller. The following four lines are unforgettable and, to anyone who's ever visited Manhattan and gotten lost, invaluable.
"New York, New York, a wonderful town,
The Bronx is up and the Battery's down,
People ride around in a hole in the ground,
New York, New York, it's a wonderful town."
And Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee, it turns out, took them to heart. After getting stuck in traffic in Harlem (Morningside Heights) during his taxi ride to the stadium, he hopped on the subway, switched trains at one point, and arrived with a good amount of time to spare to pitch and win the opening game last week against CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees. I can imagine they probably wish he'd been one of the fearful types who wouldn't deign to set foot underground.
And I've kept on iDoodling, or is it iSketching? It's addictive. I think I'm up to about 1 a day at least. Are these copyrighted terms yet? A few more, all drawn on the iPhone, with thumbs and fingers: