Friday, March 21, 2008

5:00 update

Banged around Taipei visiting events. Came back to Yungho to find a miniature parade for Frank Hsieh marching around the residential areas there.

Of course, not everyone was focused on what they were supposed to be doing. Take AP, for example: they recommend that Taiwan's electorate, take two Xanax. Yes, Ma Ying-jeou, a calming figure:

Ma Ying-jeou isn't a charismatic figure. He calms rather than inspires. He's a soft spoken administrator who promises to govern by consultation.

Aren't you reassured? And strangely for foreign media, they assert Ma is not charismatic -- that's in case you were confused by all the other foreign media pieces that assured readers Ma is indeed charismatic (NPR, IHT, Economist, to name a tiny few). It's actually not that bad, and even spends a few paragraphs establishing that Ma is a wuss, but they blow their chance about halfway down:

Ma has another weapon in his armory _ a Mr.-Clean reputation.

After Chen's bare-knuckled and allegedly corrupt rule, 57-year-old Ma, who has a doctorate in law from Harvard, is presenting himself as an exemplar of integrity with a track record of fighting corruption even in his own party.

No mention of being indicted for stealing money nobody was disputing was actually in his private accounts, or that his defense was "everybody does it." Isn't it great that you can spend a career in opposition to democracy and still be Mr. Clean? Ah, well.

That ubiquitous symbol of speed, modernity, and successful government projects, the high speed rail, puts in an appearance.

Readers are probably aware that the US has put a couple of carriers into the area to deter....whatever. I was told that a US-based academic said that there could be more to the deployment than meets the eye. Hope not.

Jeeps are the vehicle of choice for politics.

Religion and politics, mixed again. On my list of top 5 things I never want to hear a newbie under-25 foreigner say, "Taiwanese don't care about religion" is right up there with "I'm here to teach critical thinking."

They say that when you are badly injured, your body floods with endorphins, your brain shorts out, and you simply accept what happens with a sort of existential joy.

That is what watching Taiwanese politics is like.

In addition to mysterious people from the tropics, there were clowns.

And fan dancers.

In Hell the man who invented megaphones is locked in the room with 1,000 of them, all blaring 1,000 different covers of Carpenter songs.

When I came home my father in law was growling at me that no one in Yungho was Green, but there were plenty of people out there proving him wrong.

Traffic came to a standstill.

Beneath an ad for the Other Team, the parade vanishes into the distance....

And the neverending traffic surges into the gap....


Anonymous said...

Well, maybe Mahhhh is NO MORE charismatic. He WAS. Time changes.

I agree with you about these idiot reports. Two days ago, I read the Wall Street Journal and it was almost like the propaganda made by Mahhhhhhhhhh.

Mahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh really has long connection.

marc said...

In my neighborhood in "KMT-controlled" Zhonghe, Hsieh/Su flags and banners drape many poles. There are almost no Ma flags. He is conspicuously absent.

I went to the KMT/Ma HQ yesterday out of curiosity. It was empty and officious. I then wandered to Hsieh's HQ, filled with cheerful people, who all welcomed this stranger and pushed papers, flags, tattoos and the Official Frank Hsieh music CD into my hands.

Lee Tenghui finally does the right thing and endorses Hsieh. American warships wait off in the distance to protect Taiwan. Tibet burns and so do we.

Thomas said...

What's with the foreign babes with the grass skirts?

cfimages said...

Nice shots, and good commentary as always. I'll be up in Taipei tomorrow sometime to shoot the celebrations by whoever wins and the possible protests by whoever loses.

Pavlov said...

Knock 'em dead, Turton!

The light is greeeeeeen! The last thing we need in this country is a President who could've gone back to the US at any time over the last 25 years and pursue opportunities there, but chose to come back to Taiwan and work in public service. Ma don't know crap about loving Taiwan! The color of love in Taiwan is greeeeeen! Ma's just waiting for the perfect chance to pull out that expired Green Card and take up residence back in Boston or something. Maybe he'll finally pass that BAR exam. Ha! Forget the fact that the US would absolutely not grant residency to public officials from Taiwan while in office. I'm sure he's got hookups in the White House...or something. Let's just keep pushing that Green Card thing, and if it don't work, we'll pull out the stolen newspaper thing.

Michael Turton said...

I DO NOT understand the girls in grass skirts.

Thanks, guys.

Ben F said...

Thanks, Michael, I've thoroughly enjoyed your election coverage. Have great hike.

Jason said...


Well let me start off by saying that I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your election blog, Michael. It's a sad day for democracy in Taiwan as the last nail in the checks-and-balances coffin was driven in by Ma's victory.

Many greens say that this loss means unification. I hope they are wrong.

By the way, I heard that CCTV recently applied to broadcast in Taiwan. It was blocked by the DDP administration. Hope the KMT will not dare to sell out by reversing that decision.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the procession photos-- I tend to miss the processions while I preside over my class while we groan at the sound of the drums and anthems.