Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bloggers gone wild!!!!!

Spring break!!!!! Wooooooooooo!

Ahem. Excuse me. We're going radio silent for about a week, as I'll be away from my favorite drugs (tv, computer) and enjoying the desert. And dessert.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Kudos to Chris Wallace

It's rare that I'd show a video from Fox News, but Chris Wallace brings down the hammer on his own network. Watch and enjoy.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Journamalism at its finest

ABC News' Brian Ross, so hard-working he has his own Investigative Unit (teehee, unit), has uncovered the single-most important issue of the campaign. I'll let the headline and subhead tell the story:

Hillary At White House on 'Stained Blue Dress' Day

Schedules Reviewed by ABC Show Hillary May Have Been in the White House When the Fateful Act Was Committed


Oh my God! She may have been in the same building! Stop the fucking presses! Finally, American journamalism cracks open this crucial issue! You can call Brian Ross and leave him a message praising his investigative unit at 212-456-7612 (seriously, it takes less than two minutes to leave a message). Suburban Guerrilla and Glenn Greenwald have more on this.

Blowjobs, blowjobs, blowjobs! Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Too much and too little to say

I've intended to elaborate on race and Geraldine Ferraro, but I've been busy. I apologize to all three of my readers.

But today Barack Obama gave a truly incredible speech, one that a) deals with race in a beautifully nuanced way, and b) reinforces why I will vote for him. Given that nuance, I'd like to mention a few words and phrases about race that demonstrate how shallow American discourse is:
  • the race card: I've written about this before, so I'll just link to that post and mention one other thing. Stanford law professor Richard Thompson Ford published a book in January called The Race Card: How Bluffing about Bias Makes Race Relations Worse. I haven't read the book yet, though I want to. But I hate the title; it reinforces this stupid notion that talking about race is a game. Ford's black, and that's really what disappoints me. He's allowing a term designed to short-circuit discussion a certain weight in a book that is, by many accounts, intelligent and nuanced.
  • racist: When asked about Geraldine Ferraro's idiotic comment that Obama is only a serious candidate because he's black and whether her comments were racist, he said he hesitates to use the term. And here's why: overt racism isn't as easy to identify these days. Does Ferraro look racist next to, say, the KKK? Or, for a less extreme comparison, to Rush Limbaugh?
  • race baiting: If you want to feel ill, go read the National Review blog "The Corner." (I won't link to it; you know how to use google.) For some reason, and I just can't figure out why, the writers there compare Obama to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson; one approvingly cites an email that says Obama is practicing race baiting. This term is similar to "race card," similar enough that I don't feel compelled to explain why. (But if one of my three readers wants an explanation, I'll append one.)
And one more sad thing: Obama gave a great speech today, and writers at Slate and The New Republic worry that the speech is too nuanced for Americans and might put voters off. Sigh.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Five years. Five fucking years.

Wednesday will mark the fifth anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq, five years of occupation and continued conflict. I'll be part of a brief protest, and I suggest anyone who can take part locally also does. Also, today's New York Times includes an excellent article by John F. Burns. Take the time to read it.

But I'd like to mention something that really troubles me. Most antiwar efforts mention the nearly 4,000 American troops killed in combat and over 23,000 wounded; in fact, both protests in my area emphasize the loss of American troops. But do American lives matter more than others? Consider the 82,199 Iraqi civilians who have died as a direct result of the American invasion. Consider the 2,000,000 internally displaced Iraqis and the 2,200,000 Iraqi refugees who've fled to surrounding countries. Consider the intensified violence between the PKK in Kurdistan and the Turkish military.

And what's more, consider the years between the first Gulf War and the second, when international embargoes and the hopelessly corrupt UN Oil for Food program combined with Saddam Hussein's rule to create horrifyingly high infant mortality rates and widespread malnutrition in Iraq. Those years were overseen by the Clinton administration and publicly justified by Madeleine Albright, who later apologized.

We cannot only blame Republicans for the catastrophe, and we cannot appease our consciences by blaming Democrats as well. The moral responsibility extends to all of us.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hey Douchebag! You got it right! Edition

Since I go out of my way to criticize Slate for their tendency to publish ridiculous articles (or remain silent on important issues) it's only fair that I post this comment: They nailed this. I'll elaborate on it in a day or two (I've been mulling about eight different "Geraldine Ferraro and race" posts in my head), but for now, you should go read it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Robert Frost's misogyny

I like Robert Frost's poetry a lot, but as many writers do, he has his biases that I have a hard time reconciling. For example, it's hard to read Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta or Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice without being very aware of the anti-Semitism (though the latter is much more humane than the former). Not that Frost was an anti-Semite, but his views about women are certainly difficult to approach. With that in mind, I present (without comment) a couple of things I've found in my research: an early draft of Robert Frost's famous poem "Birches," and the original dust jacket art for his collection North of Boston.

******

Robert Frost

Bitches

When I see bitches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Pimping does that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a fuck. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their makeup.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to my apartment by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their junk in their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical, mother fucker?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend me
As he went out and in to fetch them cows
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself—himself—
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's hos
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the ho away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim, if you know what I mean.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of bitches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a fingernail’s having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch—oooh, snatch—me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a bitch
Toward heaven, till the girl could bear no more,
But dipped her top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of bitches.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday thanks to Glenn Greenwald

I've linked to Glenn Greenwald before (and will do so again, I'm sure), but you should go read this. It's a great takedown of journalistic practices in the United States. (It also demonstrates his tendency to overwrite by several hundred words, a tendency I forgive in his case.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hey Douchebag! The Sound of Silence Edition

[Ed. note: We have an occasional series called "Hey Douchebag!" in which we look at the utter ridiculousness of Slate.com's supposed contrarianism. To read prior entries, click here.]

As you may have heard, John McCain actively courted and earned the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee, who 1) hates the Catholic church, calling it "the great whore," "a false cult system," and "the apostate church"; 2) believes that Hurricane Katrina was "the judgment of God against New Orleans" for planning to have a gay-pride parade; and 3) believes that war with Iran is necessary for the Second Coming of Christ. (Talking Points Memo has an entertaining highlight reel.)

Considering the media attention (thanks to Tim Russert) given to Louis Farrakhan's unsought (and, by the Obama campaign, ignored) endorsement of Barack Obama, one might think that McCain's actively going out and seeking the endorsement of a nutter like Hagee would make a lot of news. The Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times, and even USA Today have run articles or have online posts about the Hagee endorsement and why it's problematic, but they've only run a few, usually AP articles. One of my favorite daily reads, Salon.com, has run excellent coverage of both Hagee and the media's relative silence on his endorsement.

Which brings me to Slate: as of this posting, they've written not a single word about Hagee's endorsement of McCain. None at all. They have Mickey Kaus posting round the clock, John Dickerson posting campaign articles daily, and multiple blogs devoted to the primaries. Why so quiet, you hip, contrarian douchebags?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I want to stop posting about Hillary Clinton. . .

but her campaign keeps trying to paint Barack Obama as a Republican. They've compared his campaign tactics to Karl Rove's, and Paul Krugman insinuates that Obama is merely a Republican in Democratic clothing. The latest, from Clinton's spokesperson, Howard Wolfson:

I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is not the way to win the Democratic primary.

Wow, really? Ken Starr? I understand the Clinton campaign has a lot of ground to make up in the delegate count, but a campaign willing to be this intellectually dishonest offends me.

Oh, the gladiatorial greatness of futbol (that's soccer)

This video starts a little slow, but stay through at least the fifty-second mark. I wish I were a soccer announcer.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What I learned while voting

  1. When I renewed my driver's license on my birthday in January, the good people at the BMV left a vowel out of my last name. So the woman looking for my name in the precinct book couldn't find it, and I had to show several other pieces of identification to prove that my last name is not, in fact, [REDACTED].
  2. One of the people volunteering at my precinct's table didn't trust me because I signed my name left-handed. Why? In a long story (that the other volunteers interrupted several times) he explained that he'd been beaten up by a southpaw in junior high. Additional fun fact: he was in junior high before I was born.
  3. No democrats are running for county sheriff. I find this amazing since our sheriff (who has been elected and re-elected to the seat since 1988) is a) nuts and b) crazy.
  4. John Edwards is still on the ballot. I felt a little wistful.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Dear Paul Krugman

Hi, Paul Krugman, a word, please: Stop writing about the Democratic primary. Yes, yes, you support Clinton and think Obama would be a mistake. Fine. But when you write paragraphs like the following, it upsets me:
Now, nobody would mistake Mr. Obama for a Republican — although contrary to claims by both supporters and opponents, his voting record places him, with Senator Clinton, more or less in the center of the Democratic Party, rather than in its progressive wing.
See, you write for the New York Times, and despite the continued op-ed presence of Maureen Dowd, there are certain standards. You're smarter than this "Obama as Republican" meme, and the "more or less" shows it. You're fudging. And then you write this:
But Mr. Obama, instead of emphasizing the harm done by the other party’s rule, likes to blame both sides for our sorry political state.
So when Obama criticizes the Iraq war, the Bush tax cuts, or the shoddy state of health care, he's not criticizing Bush? Really? And, by the way, I think you know that the Democratic party has enabled Bush in a lot of ways. You're aware of this, right? Good, just checking.
That — along with his adoption of conservative talking points on the crucial issue of health care — is why Mr. Obama’s rise has caused such division among progressive activists, the very people one might have expected to be unified and energized by the prospect of finally ending the long era of Republican political dominance.
Now, you've been trying this one for a while, this "conservative talking points" angle. Would you mind being specific about those conservative talking points? Has Obama been calling Clinton's plan socialized medicine? Have I been missing that somewhere? In his votes (in both the Illinois and U.S. Senate) to spread affordable health-care coverage, has he been arguing against health care as foundational to a major world economy? Oh, he hasn't? Then I'm a little confused, I guess. But you do end on a good point:
All in all, the Democrats are in a place few expected a year ago. The 2008 campaign, it seems, will be waged on the basis of personality, not political philosophy.
You're right: the Clinton campaign signs that read "Hillary!"? Those are totally about political philosophy. Totally.

For more on this, go here.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Why I will vote for Barack Obama in the Ohio Primary

I do not believe that Barack Obama's presidency would immediately and automatically transform the world. I am not a dewy-eyed idealist who believes his presidency would end poverty, make us all love one another, and eradicate the problems of partisanship forever. I am not a member of some irrational cult of Obama.

And that is, in part, why I wholeheartedly and happily endorse Barack Obama for president. He's an inspirational speaker, an electric presence--but that's not what makes him such a great candidate. Here's what does:
  • His legislative record demonstrates both progressive ideals and a willingness to focus on issues that are critical but not politicized. In the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate, he's helped make health care more affordable for children and adults. He's worked to curb nuclear proliferation, he's supported women's rights (including at 100% voting score from NARAL), and he's fought for ethics and transparency in government. Consider how deeply important this last issue is in light of the Bush presidency.
  • He's demonstrated an impressive ability to adapt and turn his weaknesses into strengths. In early Democratic debates, Obama didn't perform well. He seemed to stumble, unable to use the forum to articulate his ideas. Twenty debates later, he answers questions clearly and openly, pointing both to his record and to his specific ideas. As much as people like to parody his repetitions of "hope" and "change," the debates have shown he's invested in specific policy, not "just words."
  • He's thoughtful and self-aware. Read his memoirs. They have a lot of the hallmarks of political memoir, but they also show a man willing to acknowledge his mistakes and grow from them.
  • He inspires legislators from both parties. There are various kinds of bipartisanship (and I wish we had more than two parties, by the way). One is full, active resistance. I'd point to recent Democratic examples, but there simply aren't many. Another is capitulation by the weaker party. On so many issues of foreign policy, the majority party in Congress, the Democrats, have given in, serving as a functional minority party. The third, which Obama has embodied, is one that treats issues as neither liberal nor conservative, but broader. Consider the example of his passing legislation in Illinois to ensure the human rights by making police videotape interrogations (there had been a high rate of forced confessions in the state). Go read Hilzoy's endorsement of Obama for more details.
  • He will dramatically reshape the image of the United States across the world. Not only will Obama institute diplomacy instead of the many-times-over failures of the Bush administration's foreign policy, he will, as an African-American, as a candidate who has no foundation of political nepotism to run on, embody a major step forward for American culture.
Obama isn't perfect; where Clinton supported the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, Bush's ticket to move closer to war with Iran, Obama did not vote. (Interestingly enough, John McCain was the only other senator not to vote.)

But politicians can't be perfect. I don't have any illusions about a potential Obama presidency. I just look at his record and see a candidate willing to act openly and honestly, to represent progressive issues and work beyond media- and party-dictated positions. Vote Obama.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Insomnia is the new black

I made this video. (You have to sit through a bit of Clinton's new "Beware of the bogeymen in the night" ad, but it's worth it.) [Ed. note: the video is fixed. No watermarks.]



Maybe Tina Fey should have said, "Bitches get stuff done, unless they're sleep deprived."

Also, watch Bill Clinton "endorse" Barack Obama (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan):

Bad hangover cures

I refuse to link to the video (you've either seen it or heard about it already), but will.i.am's new Obama video really horrifies me. I don't think I'm being hyperbolic here. All it does is reinforce two ideas (at least):

  1. Obama supporters are nothing more than glassy-eyed cultists who believe in the vaguest things and are easily moved by chants.
  2. Jessica Alba can say nothing convincingly. (This one may be true.)
If the dog would let me, I'd go back to bed.