Saturday, July 30, 2005

Race in the news

I had nothing to do with this, but I wish I had. A few weeks ago I asked would Natalie Holloway's disapearance in Aruba be such big news if, instead of being a white girl from Alabama she was a black girl from Brooklyn. Well, it appears I'm not the only person who felt race was a factor in coverage of this story. According to this morning's USA Today, news coverage in recent days of the disapearance of LaToyia Figueroa, a pregnant woman from Philly, was apparently spured by an email campaing started by Philadelphia area bloggers who demanded that the disapearance of this pregnant black woman be given the same type of media attention as the disaperances of Natalie Holloway and Laci Petersen. And it worked. all the networks are covering the story. Cornel West is right: race matters. The fact that an email campaign was needed to get the media to notice this woman's disapearance proves it. But at least now they've noticed. It's something.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Some Random Thoughts...

I see Kate Moss won a big libel suit over a British tabloid. I wonder if she could have won in the US.

Finally! The administration has re-branded their war. They have changed the name of “the global war on terror” to “the global struggle against extremism.” And people say this thing isn’t about spin! At least they have finally caught up with me. I’ve been saying all along that this isn’t a war.

The spin machine at the white house, other then this re branding of the “war,” seems to be breaking down, doesn’t it? All they can come up with for John Roberts is “He’s a really nice guy.” Their big spin on Karl Rove is “hey, a reporter told *him,* not the other way around.” They’re losing on definitions of enemy combatants in the senate and can’t seem to control the social security debate at all. That they will win Roberts’ confirmation is a testament to his being an enigmatic (i.e. good) choice, but not their power in the Senate. So many senators are running for President—and away from Bush’s record—he’ll be lucky to get anything he wants for the rest of his term.

Can you imagine a Newt Gingrich vs. Hilary Clinton presidential campaign? Wow! What a gold mine for all the wonks, bloggers and comedians out there.

If you haven’t yet, see *Team America.* Of course it’s offensive. It savages everybody. And Oh my God is it funny!

Tomorrow we start shooting a feature film. It will be my first staring role. Life could only be better if I was actually getting paid!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

John Roberts

I guess the most encouraging news today is that Canada has legalized same sex marriages. It’s not that it makes any difference here, but it does show that a creeping sense of common sense and social justice is spreading throughout the world. It could still be turned by religious fundamentalists in Canada, as it has been in the United States, but at the moment it gives me hope for a brighter future.

But those hopes are dashed when I look at Judge John Roberts. He proves once again that the Republican machine is a perfectly tuned, well oiled machine that can trump the democrats at every turn. The Karl Rove controversy was heating up in a big way, rallying liberals and progressives around the country and seriously damaging the white house’s credibility. President Bush’s poll numbers were dropping. Then the news cycle changed and front page news is all about this smiling, handsome man with the precocious kid who is about to become a Supreme Court justice.

Look at this guy. Bush would not have made a more perfect choice. He fits the bush mold (conservative white guy, strict constructionist) while being practically unassailable from the left. Sandra Day O’Connor’s comment upon hearing the announcement totally sums him up: “He’s confirmable.” And that’s what’s important. He’s a confirmable conservative. The People for the American Way are out in the desert on this one. They have nothing real to fight him with. Did he oppose abortion before the Supreme Court? Sure he did, but he was “acting as an advocate for his client,” and that shouldn’t be taken as his actual opinion. After all, he did say at his confirmation hearings to the Appellate Court that Roe v. Wade “was the settled law of the land,” so all you girls can trust him to have control over you reproductive organs. Of course, he is now going to be in a position to unsettle it. I loved listening to the talking points on this one. Every conservative commentator went out of their way to point out that John Roberts “is a really nice guy.” This guys personal appeal is a big part of the package he comes with, a definite upside for a president who needs a win on this one. In fact, the similarities between this John and another one, John Edwards, are striking. He’s a good looking lawyer in his fifties with a precocious young child. He has dimples. He has a boyish look even at fifty. He has very neat hair. Doesn’t he look just a little bit like Edwards? Like John Edwards, the good looks, charm, and happy go lucky family guy image are pert of his appeal. The camera really likes John Roberts. Finally, he was confirmed on a voice vote by the senate to his appellate job just a couple years ago. How can they turn around now reject him, especially when none of his written opinions have been controversial? With Fred Thompson leading the way, this guy will sail through.

What this choice has demonstrated is not only that President Bush can still get what he wants some time, but that this White House is/are masters of the media. They have chosen the perfect candidate for Supreme Court in a post modern, media driven society: one who’s good looking, personable, great on the mike, has no solid record to hang him with, and who nonetheless is a conservative white guy who will serve the interests of big business and religious fanatics in the Republican party. These guys are good. And Roe v. Wade, Miranda, affirmative action, the establishment clause, civil rights in general, certainly gay marriage, and just about every other thing that could make this a just and civilized nation are going out with yesterday’s bathwater. By October the conservatives will have so securely locked up the Supreme Court that it might as well hang a sign on its doors saying “Neo-cons only need apply.”

Which is fine, because that is what the constitution says is supposed to happen. The president gets to appoint these guys, not me and not congress. We elected a staunch right-wing conservative with clear ties to big oil and Christian fanaticism who said Clarence Thomas is his ideal justice, and we got a better looking, white Clarence Thomas without as much baggage as his first Supreme Court nominee. And all those moderates out there who support Roe v. Wade and civil rights who voted for Bush anyway will just have to suffer. You reap what you sew.

What a coup!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Back From Cali

Well, I’m back from Cali and Back online. I know everybody is expecting me to write something about all that’s gone down regarding the Vallerie Plame affair, especially about Karl Rove, but other the to say that it’s the biggest media story of the year, and that I’ve always said this administration was a bunch of liars and bullies, I really don’t have anything. John Stewart is covering it much better then I can (honestly, I don’t know why I write this page sometimes, he says it all so much better then me).

I will talk about this: Fred Thompson, actor and former senator from Tennessee, has been tapped by George Bush to spearhead the nomination of his replacement for Sandra Day O’Connor. Now this is a brilliant piece of media manipulation. Thompson, who looked like a good bet fro Bush’s job back in the 90s until he ended up running the senate hearings on Monica Gate, is best known to the public as the District Attorney on “Law and Order.” He is on screen and in real life a gruff talking good old boy with enormous appeal to TV viewers everywhere. When he gets up to defend Bush’s eventual nominee, and to attack democrats as obstructionist, and explain that said nominee is really a moderate no matter what his or her judicial record shows, he will do so with an air of authority that the democrats will find hard to match—unless they remember his brilliant turn as the snake-oil salesman turned white supremacist Knox Pooley from the old “Wiseguy” series—his best role by far—but nobody but me ever watched that past the first season. On the whole, I’d call this one of the most beautiful mixtures of entertainment and politics since America elected a liberal democrat and former president of the actor’s union as a conservative law and order president.

On the plane to Cali I watched *Million Dollar Baby.* What a great film! And no wonder the conservatives were up in arms about it. It starts out like a typical Rocky-like melodrama and ends up a movie about euthanasia. And it’s handled beautifully throughout. Not only is it well acted and directed, but the script is superb. It deserved everything everybody said about it earlier this year, and God himself had to have a hand in putting the Oscars up at about the same time as the whole Teri Schiavo affair.

But, honestly folks, I am getting so tired of the Right I’m finding it hard to watch these people talk anymore. Their lies, their bullying, their scorched earth take no prisoners the truth doesn’t matter if well yell loud enough tactics have finally pissed me off so much that I am not sure I can right about them anymore. I despair for America, because I can see no way out for my party but to adopt the same tactics (hence Howard Dean). Not only is discourse lost but so is any semblance of validity in government. And it will go on this way for a long time, I’m afraid. The public has responded and said “yes we like being lied to, led around like sheep, and bullied: give us more and we’ll vote for you.” Don’t let these poll numbers for Bush mislead you. Bush isn’t running for anything anymore. When his brother gets nominated, or Newt, or whoever else, they’ll come off as compassionate conservatives who are more in touch with the American people more then those stuck up East Coast elitist liberals, and no matter who the Dems nominate (even if it is Hilary) the fear card will be played along side the smear card and the Elephants will just tread on us once again. Gays, women, the environment, blacks, academic and artistic freedom will all suffer even more. The Christian Right with the Supreme Court more squarely on their side will really get a chance to build their shining city on a hill, and woe onto all the Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Rastafarians, and even Unitarians like me. With the grand inquisitor as pope and the Familly Council running the White House, can iron maidens, the rack, and stake burnings be far behind?

Hyperbole? Of course it is. But when the religious fanatics and the fascists start marching in step, they become a powerful force—especially in a frightened and weary nation with a shaky economy, which is undergoing radical structural changes. Read a bit about Italy in the twenties or Germany in the thirties and tell me I’m wrong to be just a bit worried. When they start taking adopted children away from Gay couples will you believe me that Kristalnacht is coming?