The 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, was at the UC Davis campus yesterday for a rally organized by Davis Campus Democrats. I love Bill Clinton, so I wasn’t going to miss this. I took an early lunch, and sketched the crowd waiting around before the main man arrived. Pres. Clinton was giving support to local Democrats running for Congress, as well as to President Obama (apparently there is an election next month? I wouldn’t know as I have avoided all contact with TV ads, every time the TV goes to commercial I go for a walk). I can’t vote, of course. It was a large crowd, and an excited one. It was also very sunny, and facing the sun was getting a bit hot after a while, so I went to the shade and sketched one of the news vans (KCRA3, which I’ve sketched before, I like them better than News10). When Bill came up to his podium the atmosphere was electric, ie everyone raised their smartphones and cameraphones into the air to capture some footage. The funniest was seeing people simultaneously want to clap and take photos at the same time, so lots of one handed slapping of own thighs. I returned to my main sketch, adding in Bill and writing down some snippets of his speech (he loves UC Davis, he said, every time he comes to the campus). It was pretty special to see and listen to him in person. It’s one of my ambitions to have a beer with Bill Clinton.
Ken and Boris (and some other people) are the choices today for the London Mayoral election. I’m for Ken, personally, not ’he of the unbrushable hair’. I wish I were there to vote, but I missed the first one in 2000 (living in Belgium), missed the second one in 2004 (off visiting France), missed 2008 (moved to California), and obviously I’ll miss this one too. But I still care who runs my home city! Boris could at least offer to shave his head if he wins. So to mark election day I drew them in my Stillman and Birn book in a pilot hi-tec C, a quick lunchtime sketch when I couldn’t leave the office due to the high pollen count. Ok here’s the inevitable pun, I’m hoping Boris gets a low polling count and has to leave office.
Yesterday was Super Tuesday. I’m not sure why it was so Super, it didn’t exactly fly by. A really Super Tuesday would be one where the next day turns out to be Saturday or something. That is the epithet they give to the day when lots of presidential primaries – in this case, for the Republican candidate – happen at once, therefore making the eventual nominee appear that little bit more clearly. The eventual nominee (Mitt Romney, above) has not emerged very clearly as the eventual nominee (though he will be), with the race still very much open for Rick Santorum (yeah it won’t be him) and Newt Gingrich (no, no it won’t be him either). Ron Paul is still in it too, apparently, though he really looks like Magneto. Personally I think they’re all nuts, and not very Super. Less-than-Fantastic Four? Mitt has a bit of Reed Richards going on with those grey bits, and he’s certainly the most elastic of all of them. Santorum I suppose could be the Preacher (except Jesse Custer is the epitome of cool while Santorum is clearly off his trolley). Newt, well he already sounds like a sinister twisted mutant super-villain (not his name Newt, just his, you know, personality and politics).
So it’s going to be Mitt Romney, isn’t it. At least we can look forward to such headlines as “Romney You Plonker” (well, maybe in the English papers). Now seemed to be the best time to draw Romney though, if only to capture that hair, because after November I would either have to wait another four years for him to run again, or he’ll get elected President and be completely grey by June.
HB Pencil in the Stillman and Birn gamma sketchbook.
Politics has come to town. The first of the California gubernatorial elections (yes, I do just like saying that word) was held yesterday in the Mondavi Center at UC Davis. The race for Arnie’s successor is on. In the democrat corner, Jerry Brown, the man who was governor a long time ago, during the 1849 Gold Rush or something. In the republican corner, Meg Whitman, founder of e-bay, which might come in handy when she’s auctioning off all of our public services and state parks. I watched some of the debate on TV; it was pretty underwhelming, as expected, but I know which of the two I’d vote for, if I had the vote.
I popped out at lunchtime to witness some of the preparations. Police cars were everywhere, lining the entire building. The media were setting up camp, and so I sat in the shade and sketched this KCRA3 News TV van. KCRA3 is our local station, it’s the news channel with Edie Lambert and Gulstan Dart (who hosted the debate), and of course KCRA3 Chief Superior Weather Plus Meteorologist Doppler Radar Controller Grand Lord Mark Finan and his colleague/substitute/baldrick, Dirk Verdoorn; I’ve spoken about these Californian weather guys before. It was really hot – it may be almost October, but we’re having 100-plus degree heat here in Calfiornia. As I was finishing the sketch, a member of the UC Davis news office took my photo. I couldn’t sketch the debate itself, but I was pleased to at least document it in my own small way.
What an interesting few days! A week really is a long time in politics. The first general election to end in a Hung Parliament since 1974. The Conservatives won an extraordinary amount of seats, but not enough to gain a majority and legitimately form a government. To explain, this means that the party that came second, Brown’s governing Labour party, remain as government for now, until deals can be made for Labour or the Conservatives to form some sort coalition with the smaller parties, meaning all those that lost the election are allowed to govern rather than the party that ultimately came first, or failing any agreement, allow the Conservatives to form a minority government with Cameron as PM. Got all that? Don’t worry, I don’t think even they get it.
So amid the wooing of the Liberal Democrats by both parties, Gordon Brown offered his own head, and committed to stepping down as Labour leader. It was inevitable, of course (and he was constitutionally correct to remain in office while a new government is formed, despite Murdoch’s media arm of Sky News, The Sun et al trying to force him out in favour of their bloke).
The Liberal Democrats’ situation is wierd, isn’t it? The nation was so gripped with Cleggmania before the election that they forgot to vote for them – the Lib Dems ended up with fewer seats than in the last election! Even Lembit ‘Mr. Cheeky Girl’ Opik lost his seat to the Tories. But that doesn’t matter – despite such poor results, they now hold the key to deciding the next government, because it’s Clegg that Brown and Cameron are courting. Now explain that to the aliens from outer space.
I was thinking of that song Jilted John, and thinking of David Cameron. Listen to the lyrics and replace ‘Julie’ with ‘Clegg’, and imagine Clegg ditching the possibility of alliance with Jilted Dave and going off with Gordon. “And they were both laughing at me! But I know he’s a moron, Gordon is a moron…” It could still happen. One can only hope.
The election was fun though. I always used to stay up all night for elections, getting excited as they called such exotic places as Ceredigion and The Wrekin. This time we were treated to no ‘Portillo moment’, but watching Jacqui Smith lose her seta while dressed as No. 6 from the Prisoner was amusing. Paxman was a relative gentleman, while Dimbleby was getting tired of the shots of cars going down motorways. Bill Wyman showed up at one point, apparently dressed as Worzel Gummidge, declaring that basically he was working class but Labour did nothing for him, now he’s rich so he votes Tory. I didn’t even have to watch the sun rise; the great thing about living in California is that, being 8 hours behind, I could watch it all and see the new PM ‘crowned’ before bedtime. Well that didn’t work out! Several days later, it’s not done and dusted yet.
In other news, Chelsea won the Premier League, by a single point. Which presumably means that second-placed Manchester United can now do a deal with Arsenal and Spurs to become coalition champions instead. What? That’s not how it works? I’m so confused…
Drew the UC Davis Bike Barn building…again. Well it has one of those looks, cant help but be turned into a drawing. The way one side of the roof is longer than the other, the shadow beneath the eaves, the unsketchable army of bikes in the foreground. I still have that brown paper cut up from envelopes.
I forgot to mention: Davis is now home to the newly opened (last weekend in fact) U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. That’s right, the actual hall of fame for bike-riders. I wonder if they have a special section for those ones who cycle up on the inside of buses as people are trying to get off, those cyclists deserve a medal, yeah. And the ones who go around texting or yapping into their cellphone with their ipod in their other ear.
Hang on, I’m starting to sound like a certain Tory politician on the eve of the election. “Last week I met a 70-year old nurse who told me he couldn’t get on the bus because all the unemployed eastern european immigrant asylum seekers were cycling around with their ipods and their mobile phones taking our jobs and claiming our benefits…” Oh, the UK General Election is only a week away now, and with ‘bigot-gate’ or whatever it’s being called, we’re already having our Joe the Plumber moment, or will if the Murdoch press has its way. I really hope the media leaves that poor pensioner alone, but have a feeling she’ll be used to the fullest extent by The Scum newspaper over the next week.
The UK General Election is upon us. Unlike in the US, where the election date is known years in advance and the campaigning goes on for about three hundred years, filling the airways with irritating paid-for campaign ads, British elections are called with only about a month of soapboxing and eggfacing until the big day, and the long swingometer-filled night. Also unlike America, Britain is not electing a President, but a party to govern. We’ve all become very comfortable with being uncomfortable at how ‘presidential’ our Prime Ministers are getting (ie, they brush their hair and grin a lot), so with thought in mind, which of the three below do you think will become our next ‘presidential’ PM?
See, I’m glad Gordon Brown (above) is not a smiler, and has unbrushable hair. Makes him less presidential. David Cameron (below) on the other hand, old Etonian, friendly chap, cheeky grin, America will love him like they loved Blair. Like so many pop groups before them, our PMs probably feel they can only be truly big if they can break America.
He has a big forehead doesn’t he. By the way, America, if you’re following the UK Election, Blue means Conservatives and Red means Labour. Red is the traditional colour of international socialism; it’s only the US that has that the other way round, where it means the colour of Limbaugh-loving necks.
And then in the Yellow corner there is the Other Bloke, who by all accounts won the UK’s first presidential – i mean, prime ministerial – debate (it’s not like they don’t already debate in the House of Commons though, is it). These debates mean nothing, the Liberal Democrats aren’t ever going to really win a general election, because they are deliberately ignored by the Murdoch press (the true rulers of the UK). Unless…surely not? Nick Clegg (right) is apparently becoming swiftly popular, and let’s face it, Brits (like Americans, to whom we gave most of our reality TV shows) love nothing more than an instant overnight popular political hero – oh, what am I saying, there is one thing Brits like more, and that is knocking said hero off his perch and dragging said hero through the razor mill of the tabloid press (hello again, Mr. Murdoch).
No, he’s not smaller because my Murdoch-payroll editors have instructed me not to get in the way of their Tory revival saga (I’m not The Times, you know). More that the sketch simply looks nothing like him, but hey, I don’t really know what he looks like, or stands for. I know he looks a bit like Philip Schofield, David Duchovny, Kilroy and Jim Davison (shuddering at the thought). Time for me to do some reading up on this election. I won’t get to vote, but I also won’t get to live through the consequences, now I’m over here in Obama-world. I do really miss British politics, honestly I do, I want to watch Paxman, I want to watch Dimbleby, I want interactive 3d Swingometers, I want to see eggs on faces and Prescott punches (whoever the modern equivalent of Prescott is), staying up all night and watching the results of Haltemprice & Howden and Cannock Chase and other places I’d never heard of. This election even looks like it might actually be a three horse race (unlike the last few, which were definitely one-horse races). I drew a political cartoon which got onto the Channel 4 web site last time (Goldilocks and the Three Unbearables), I need to sharpen that pencil again (Last of the Summer Whine: Foggy, Compo and Clegg would be a start, cascading down the hill in a tin bath).
At least this time I won’t need to stay up all night. I’m eight hours behind, so hopefully it’ll all be decided by midnight. I suspect Labour may have to do a deal with the Lib Dems to keep the Tories out of Number 10; if not, Brown won’t have a Clegg to stand on. May the Sixth be with you.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the 44th President of the United States, new leader of the Free World, Barack Obama. President Obama. No more George W Bush. Did you hear that? NO MORE GEORGE W BUSH!! Off you pop. No more Cheney. But thanks, by the way, thanks for the wonderful state you’ve left the world and the country in. Not your problem, leave it for the next guy.
Finally, someone intelligent running America. Though of course, he had to take his oath of inauguration twice, because he kind of fluffed it up the first time. Was I the only one who thought, when he paused right after the words “I will execute”, that he was about to slip up and say… “George W Bush”?
So the 700 billion dollar bail-out was passed. That is an absolutely incredible amount of money. Seems like even more considering nobody else has any. My own bank, Washington Mutual, went under – biggest bank to collapse in this country since the Great Depression. I loved the way that, when the House republicans voted down the bill, they actually blamed Nancy Pelosi and the democrats for making them vote that way. Incredible. But the bail-out has passed, though as Bush warns, we’re still up shit creek. This economy, so long left to its own devices and unregulated, is in free fall. Thanks President Bush!! Thanks a lot!! Just when you thought the mess of Iraq would be your legacy, or your utter mishandling of Hurrican Katrina, your presiding over the biggest economic collapse in decades comes along and trumps everything. Well done! Probably another reason why a failed businessman should never have been put in charge of the country.
Even your own party’s candidates, though they show no sign of actually changing any of your policies or doing things any differently from you, are denying any knowledge of you. I actually felt a bit sorry for you during the VP debate the other night, the way Sarah Palin seemed to whitewash you, the way she shot down Joe Biden every time he dared mention the many mistakes of your administration – seriously, who on earth was she kidding with all that “you’re just looking backwards” and “say it aint so, Joe” bullshit?
Oh dear. We had one unqualified idiot run the country, now we have this vacuous Palin, one heartbeat and a stolen election away from the government. They are saying that, well, she didn’t lose the debate, because she didn’t make any ridiculous mistakes like she did in the interviews. (By the way, are we going to see a spate of ‘Palinisms’ desk-top calendars now?) Debate? She answered no questons, reeled off a series of monologues that had little or nothing to do with the topic at hand, droned on and on (the palin-drone) about her family as if the simple fact she comes from a family makes her electable (please! please! anybody can go onstage and say that folksy rubbish, it doesn’t mean they should hold executive power!), and threw out a few of those stupid ‘this will get talked about’ buzzwords such as ‘Joe sixpack’ (seriously, what on earth?), ‘doggone’ and the aforementioned ‘say it aint so, Joe’ which must have taken the republican campaign writers hours to come up with, only for her to fluff it. Fluff. So much fluff. And I’m sick of the constant decription of McCain as a Maverick, like it’s a good thing – you never know what irresponsible thing he’ll do net. She offered no substance whatsoever. Anyone or anything she didn’t like was dismissed as an ‘east coast elitist’, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. She wants to change Washington? How exactly? She showed she has absolutely no regard for Senators, or the Senate – does she then have no regard for the American system of democracy? The talk of her ‘loyalty tests’ back in Alaska when she became governor, and even when she became mayor of Whassitcalled, are pretty bloody sinister if you ask me – will she insist we all take such loyalty tests? I tell you what, all of the things we hear about her, the troopergate inquiry, the links to that pro-Alaskan independence party, if any of this had been the case with the democratic candidates they would already have been blown out of the water by the media.
Case in point: John McCain. First he says the fundamentals of the economy are strong, then says the opposite, then says he was talking about the American workforce (the businesses who ship jobs overseas don’t agree, and you made it clear in your acceptance speech that you support those businesses and their outsourcing practices when slagging off Obama for wanting to penalize them). Then he said he wasn’t going to attend the debate, and then he was. He said he was dead against the bail-out (probably because, being Bush’s idea, he should be against it, just because), then decided he was for the bail-out… why is the word “flip-flop” not being bandied around every time his name is mentioned? Because, during the last election, that was the word the media most commonly associated with John Kerry (rather than ‘war hero’), and it undermined his whole campaign. The McCain/Palin ticket appears to be made up of the cast of Rainbow (specifically Bungle and Zippy – we don’t talk about George any more), surely a campaign this bad cannot hope to win, and yet… Bush won the last two elections, didn’t he?
An attempt at Barack Obama (but looks a little like Les Ferdinand). Funny, Tony Blair was on John Stewart’s show this week because he’s now teaching at Yale on faith and globalization and he mentioned about how it’s not quite proper for British PMs to talk about their religion, how in the UK it’s a much more personal thing, and yet out here the Pres has to be seen to be worshipping God on every corner (well, let’s face it, it’s to win votes in the Bible Belt).
That said, Blair could only convert to Catholicism after leaving office, because to do so while in Downing Street would have been a huge political no-no (even now they are still quite sceptical of Catholics in the UK, oh how things have changed since 1688). Here, however, for all their ‘separation of church and state’ affectations, and for all their ‘freedom of religion’ founding ideals, it is pretty much a given that an atheist will never be President (unless, perhaps, someone chose a ‘token’ atheist as their running-mate to win the God Less America vote). Barack Obama is a Christian – yet it seems people are not convinced that he isn’t a Muslim: just the other day, on NPR, a woman said that she thought he was a secret Muslim, giving her justification as she “just didn’t trust him”. Opinion polls equal democracy here, by the way (to quote Dan Bern). But, what if he were, would it matter? He’d still believe fervently in God after all, same as you Governor Palin. If his faith is the issue, that would clearly not be in question, and if the system the US has is designed such that religion is kept separate from political issues, then again it wouldn’t matter if he worshipped Papa Smurf or Gargamel, it wouldn’t affect his foreign policy. Unless, of course, you actually believe it should. Unfortunately it appears so many do.
Incidentally, came across this blog entry just now, a guy in Alaska who staged a one-man protest against Sarah Palin by simply sitting outside the Alaska governor’s mansion with the sign “Palin Lies” (which, it is becoming increasingly apparent, she certainly does, especially with regards to earmarks). Fair play to the man; unless he means Michael Palin? “No, the parrot’s not dead, he’s just stunned”.
Anyway, that’s my religio-political blogging for the month (and I write this wearing a Celtic shirt). If you want me, I’ll be putting lipstick on pigs to see if they really are still pigs. I don’t know what it means but apparently it’s popular.