2010 - %3, November

A Republican Walks Into a San Francisco Bar...

| Wed Nov. 3, 2010 7:59 PM EDT

On the evening that 80 percent of San Francisco voters elected Nancy Pelosi, the town's few Republicans hunkered down in Marina District bar Eastside West to watch the national results roll in. A light-up "Don't Tread on Me" pin blinked red and blue from one coat lapel. "This bar is an island of sanity!" shouted one GOPer, waving his arms wildly near an empty beer glass. "In a peninsula—a peninsula of..." his voice trailed off.

He meant: A peninsula of almost no Republicans. Of every ten San Francisco voters, about five are registered Democrats. Three decline to state their political affiliations. And less than one is Republican. Less than one? Is that even possible?

It's not easy being red in the Bay Area. One drinker admitted that he avoided putting up GOP bumper stickers, too worried that his car would be keyed. The young Stanford grad, now a marketing professional, refused to give his name for fear a potential employer might someday see this story online and nix him in the hiring process. In San Francisco, he said, he's much more likely to talk about his Catholic faith than about his politics.

Paranoid, maybe? "[Liberals] should go to West Texas and try to live there," he said. "They'd probably feel the same way I do."

A few blocks away at John Dennis' election night party, the bar served wine instead of beer; the crowd looked a good 20 years older.

The disposition there, despite the unconventional Republican's slim-to-none chances of defeating Pelosi, was a bit more upbeat. Lisa Rossetti, the fundraising director for Dennis' campaign, saw the national turnover as a mixed bag. "On the one hand I'm thrilled, on the other hand I'm skeptical," she said. "If they're gonna be like the guys who came in with [Newt] Gingrich, we're done. We'll need a new party."

Like Dennis, Rossetti wanted to do away with DADT and supported pot legalization. But living here hasn't shaken her fears of skyrocketing federal debt or her resistance to government encroachment, which is why she still votes Republican (most of the time). In Dennis, she said she'd finally found a candidate who spoke her particular political language.

John Dennis watches the poll results.: Photo by Emily LoftisJohn Dennis watches the poll results: Photo by Emily Loftis

An hour or so after the trays of mushroom profiteroles had made their rounds, the candidate in the requisite red tie arrived. Two TV screens flashed red state victories on Fox News' election night segment, but would not—everyone in the room already knew—light up in his favor.

Still, Dennis said he's had a lot of good conversations with local liberals. And he has advice for those who might face similar straits should the national mood shift again: "Find your libertarian mojo."

Advertise on MotherJones.com

What's So Scary About Obamacare? [CARTOON]

Wed Nov. 3, 2010 12:44 PM EDT

Mother Jones illustrator Zina Saunders creates editorial animations riffing on the political news and current events of the week. In this week's animation, Saunders' cartoon alter ego demonstrates for the incoming Congress why "Obamacare" isn't nearly as scary as existing health insurance plans. [Click here to read MoJo's special report on Tuesday's elections.] Ever wonder what doctors would say if a safe landed on your head? Watch the animation below and wonder no more. And since you ask: Yes, Saunders does all her own awesome cartoon voiceovers. —The Editors

The Guilty Pleasures of Deerhunter's Bradford Cox

| Mon Nov. 1, 2010 7:00 AM EDT

Bradford Cox is growing up. As the singer and primary songwriter of Atlanta-spawned Deerhunter, and under his solo moniker Atlas Sound, his music has often bridged the closer-than-you'd-think divide between pop accessibility and experimentation. But early Deerhunter releases tended toward noise and bombast, an overt exertion of youthful energy and chaos. With each subsequent release, with Deerhunter and on his own, Cox has increasingly explored the more contemplative side of his musical coin, and to great effect. His 2008 Microcastles/Weird Era Cont. contained some of his band's catchiest tunes and most fully realized lyrics to date. Deerhunter's brand new album, Halcyon Digest, further tones down the noise and ramps up the vocals. We recently probed Cox's complex mind to learn about the music he listens to in the privacy of his own tour bus.

Mother Jones: What's your favorite new or upcoming release, and why?

Bradford Cox: Avey Tare's Down There, because it makes every day Halloween.

Basia Bulat's Northern Exposure

| Mon Nov. 1, 2010 6:45 AM EDT

If you remember June Carter Cash then you'll certainly recall her autoharp, the fretless cousin of the zither, with buttons that allow the musician to play automatic chords. Canadian folk singer Basia Bulat deserves some credit for reviving the instrument in the contemporary music scene, although, as she will tell you, she's far from the only person strumming one. "Sufjan Stevens uses it in almost every song," she insists, then ticks off a list of others: "Grizzly Bear, PJ Harvey; the first time I saw it was at a Bonnie Prince Billy concert." At performances, fans can catch Bulat clad in brightly colored skirts, blond hair streaming, cradling her autoharp and belting out lush folk tunes—her Tracy Chapman-like voice has almost the opposite timbre as Cash's.

Her instrumental talent is extensive. The daughter of a music teacher, she grew up playing piano, upright bass, flute, guitar, you name it. She  experiments with all sorts of obscure instruments, like the hammered harp and the ukelin (a cross between a mandolin and a ukulele). "A lot of them that I found, you would get out of an old Sears catalog as a novelty," she explains. "I think they were trying to sell them as the next big thing, but they never quite made it."

These instruments don't tour well and get out of tune very easily, so why bother? "I think I just like hybrids, I think I like weirdos," Bulat replies.