Stepping into the lobby of the Kaufman Cultural Center in New York City on a recent balmy fall evening was a bit like entering a cocktail-party scene from a Nora Ephron romantic comedy of the late 1990s. A crowd—mostly middle-aged and black-clad, many of its members looking like competitors in a glasses fashion show—milled around the bar, sizing itself up over short-stumped stemware. A man sporting a graying ponytail explained to a woman with a platinum bob the importance of the next president’s Supreme Court appointments. Two guys in navy sport coats sipped $7 brews in companionable silence. The buzz in the room, both conversational and alcoholic, was palpable. Then the lights dimmed, and there was a rush toward the theater doors. The latest taping of Intelligence Squared U.S., the debate series that has become something of a cult podcast hit on iTunes, was about to begin.
As Mitt Romney knows all too well, liberals love handing out gifts, and now that it’s the holiday season, we’re excited to extend our generosity beyond minorities, women, and feckless young people. Here at the Prospect, we know it’s likely that you’ve been too busy with your heavy marijuana usage to get on that Christmas shopping, so we’ve compiled a handy gift-guide for all the lefties in your life.
For your nephew, the one who’s an “energy entrepreneur”
Advent, as anyone who grew up with the seasonal fire hazard of a dry pine wreath affixed with lit candles or a calendar filled with sub-par chocolates can explain, is a season of preparation. In the month leading up to Christmas in the city of bad suits and broken dreams, behind all the noise of political ticker updates and the staccato click of thousands of Blackberry keyboards being ravished by eager thumbs, there lurks an uncharacteristic, reflective—dare I say existential—murmur.
They’re not kidding when they say the ads are inescapable in Ohio. Even the simple act of filling up the gas tank meant risking exposure to campaign messaging on Election Day; on the small screen at a pump in Cleveland, a Romney campaign ad about the skyrocketing cost of gas over the past four years played, a perfect example of the political micro-targeting that has become pro forma in the state. Mention the ads and people shudder; these 30-second soundbites are the modern day political equivalent of the Bubonic plague, festering with untruths and decimating what little Mr. Smith Goes to Washington innocence Ohioans might have had about the political process.
If you’re confused by the reports coming out of key battleground state Ohio about last-minute changes to voting rules there, you’re not alone. The state’s current voting regulations have more moving parts than a live Lady Gaga show. On Election Day, speculation abounds about legal battles that could lie ahead come Wednesday morning.
I called up Ned Foley, professor at The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law and director of Election Law @ Moritz, a bipartisan center on electoral procedure, to guide me through the wilderness.