Richard Belzer, Ice-T Jack Up the Election

Writers, artists, performers on next week's presidential election.

Absolutely. For an instant, all we could see, to our shock—under the sexy, curve-hugging, fashionable skirt of this ex–beauty queen—was the panty line of her granny panties, a line so clear we could practically trace the elastic through the thin fabric as it crossed her derriere and hips. Modern women who wear this kind of skirt are generally quite careful, making sure nothing interrupts the impeccable line of their silhouette. But Sarah Palin is not a modern woman. The message she conveyed at that instant was that she is definitely not one of those modern, stylish, naughty women who pay attention to this sort of detail. Perhaps there are indeed women who wear panties and panty hose. Perhaps there are even women—get thee behind me, Satan!—who do not wear panties at all! Well, she does. And she wants everyone to know she wears the real thing, granny panties in heavy cotton. She wants us to know that she wears the old-fashioned kind, made in Alaska, sex-proof, comfortable, not in the least sexy, Republican underwear.

Those Democratic sluts are really sans culottes (literally, "without panties"), in the historical French sense, meaning "liberal" or "revolutionary." Not Palin. No way. Her motto: "Re-pub-li-can." And definitely "Cu-lot-tée" (literally, "wearing panties" and also "cheeky"). This ostensible "cheekiness" was in itself the summary of her entire platform.

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy's new book, Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism, was published by Random House last month.

Shane Harrison
Nellie McKay
Nellie McKay


Three new things I've greatly enjoyed this election season:

1. The increased limberness and muscularity of the American left's Internet presence. Much improved since 2004. Josh and Kos, in particular: awesome. And, of course, it only kicks ass to the exact extent that it's nonhierarchical, which doesn't work nearly as well if your ideology is fundamentally top-down authoritarian.

2. Snap polls immediately following the debates. Cuts out that awful three-day period of gaseous spin and counter-spin while ponderous douche-nozzles decide what we thought. A clear winner by the next afternoon, latest. Smells like democracy. Love it.

3. Watching the debates on cable while surfing live bloggers and comment threads on my laptop. The debates make me anxious, so hunkering down in a giddy virtual crowd of like-minded individuals is perfect for me. And informative. And not infrequently hilarious.

William Gibson's most recent novel is Spook Country.


In mid October, my 12-year-old daughter, Abbie, and I took the train down to Philadelphia to canvass for Obama. Near the end of the day, we approached a house with an older woman holding back a barking pit bull. When we asked if she was registered to vote, she nodded, and when we further asked whom she was leaning toward, she said it was none of our damn business. Sitting on the couch in back of her was a man yelling expletives into a cell phone. A young woman came out of the house and walked to the front of the porch.

"I want to vote for whoever helps poor people," she said.

"He's a Muslim," the man in the back yelled out, "and he was friends with the guys that took down the Twin Towers."

The girl rolled her eyes at us.

"I'm trying to save money and GET MY OWN place," she said pointedly. "I just want to know the truth."

We assured her that Obama is neither a terrorist nor a Muslim. As the old lady came out again with the barking dog, we told the girl about our candidate's plans to help the poor. Her face as she listened was open and hopeful. The girl took our brochures. When I think about this election, rather than the two candidates' faces, I think of that girl. How brave it was for her to come to the porch railing and how important it is that the things we were telling her about Obama's vision turn out to be true.

Darcey Steinke's most recent book is the memoir Easter Everywhere.


I wish factory farms were being discussed more. Someone like Governor Palin, it's very easy for environmentalists and activists to rally against her because she goes out and kills her own moose and shoots wolves from planes—these very obvious barbarities. But you don't hear Obama coming out against the Chicago stockyards. Our entrenched and accepted cruelty toward animals, just because they're what we eat—that should be an issue. And the environmental catastrophe of the factory farms, their pollution of water, air, and soil. And the treatment of the workers, many of whom are minorities or women or illegal immigrants who aren't allowed such basic rights as bathroom breaks. The meat and dairy industry is rife with need for reform. We have to get rid of factory farms—you have pigs in crates where they can't turn around or chickens packed in cages the size of a record-album cover. I think California's Proposition 2, which legislates against factory farms, will pass, by a large margin. That would be fantastic—it's about time.

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