Monday, March 31, 2008


I must admit that, like a lot of democrats, I am reaching a state of burnout over the election. The gap between Mississippi and Pennsylvania is taking its toll. There aregood arguments for both candidates and they are fighting the good fight, as they should. I do worry about the state of the party after the dust settles, but McCain is still big target. But I am just so tired of it all.

Laterly people have been saying Hillary should withdraw. Maybe. It would certainly be nice to have this thing settled, but as long as there is a chace of her winning, really, why should she? If she wins big in Pennsylvania it's just more reason for her *not* to withdraw. Obama speaks to young voters, the well educated affluent democrats, urbanites, and blacks, but Hillary speaks to and for hispanic voters, women, and most importantly working class white democrats. In other words, Obama's support is on the left side of the party while Hillary ocupies the area toward the middle. This is huge, because in 2006 the Democrats won back congress by taking the middle, and unlike 2000, this election will be won by the party that can capture the middle. Most of Obama's big wins have come in red states, where most whites vote Republican. Hillary ahs proven herself in the states a Democrat needs to win, like Ohio, Florida, Michigan and, soon Pennsylvania. But Obama still matches up better agaisn tMcCain because of Hillary's negatives, her vote on the war, and the simple contrast of hsi relative youth.

I don't know. It's gotten so discouraging. I'm almost hoping Obama pulls off a miricle and wins Pennsylvania. Then maybe, finally, this thing will be over.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Race in America

Mom asked me why I hadn't posted about Mr. Obama's speech yet. It's because I've been busy. I certainly have nothing new to add to the debate and, as usual, Jon Stewart said everything I wanted to say much better and with more insight.

I had my students in my 330 class read the speech and then discuss it. My 525 class wathched it on YouTube. This was the day of the speech. (THhese were both speech classes). A lot of my students are from black and live in Harlem, the South Bronx, and Brooklyn, including Brownsbille and Flatbush. They have opinions and they run something like this:

*Who cares?

*Reverend Wright was just preaching the truth. White people don't like to hear the truth.

*This won't effect Obama at all because he didn't say these things, his reverend did.

*What's the big deal? This is the way black people talk in church.

When discussing Reverned Wright's comments about 9/11 and about racism in America, they conceded that it could make some Americans uncomfortable.

As to the speech they thought it was pretty good. They thought it answered all of the criticism leveled at Obama and now people should move on. They saw it as totlaly true.

Before the speech I thought Obama was sunk. He was done and buried. Now I think he's got a slim chance. It is a long way till the convention in Denver and a lot can still happen. I fully expect the Democrats at this point to tear themselves apart and hand the presidency to John McCain on a silver platter. But McCain's negatives are so great that even totally ineptitude and infighting among the Dems might not spell defeat. The economy stinks and nobody likes the war, and he's tied himself to the president who is responsible for both. Wouldn't it be sad if the only reason a fractious and inept Democratic party could elect a president is because the Republican nominee was just a terrible candidate?

Oh. The speech. I thought it was Lincolnesque. I think it ranks up there with the Gettysburgh Address and Kennedy's Inauguration speech and and the Four Freedoms. Unless Obama doesn't win. Then it will be a footnote, like the Cross of Gold. Look it up.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sex Sells

Ok, we all know that sex sells, and that this is the editorial philosophy of the New York Post.

Thank God for the New York Times! This morning the lead story on Fox Network News and in it's sibling publication the New York Post was a tell all confession by former New Jersey Governor Jim MacGreevy's driver that he had had a long running threesome relationship with MacGreevy and his soon to be ex-wife. (the second story on FNN involved Obama's pastor). The comment of the blond air-head anchor on fox was "Ewww! Ewww! Ewww!" My sweetie summed it up best when she said "what scares me is that they actually considered this to be news."

Meanwhile, the lead story in the Times was the collapse of Bear Sterns and it's purchase/bailout by J.P. Morgan Chase at $2 a share (down from $170 last year). That's news. Very scary news. Threesome sex several years ago among people who weren't in public office at the time and who aren't now is absolutely not news. Who cares!?!?!?!?!?!

God! They really piss me off some times!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

And the winner is

A dark horse, the New York Press wins the sweepstakes for best/most outrageous front page dealing with Elliot Spitzer. The Post had "Ho No" and later a hot nude of Kristen. The Daily News totally let us down with "Pay for Luv Gov." But the increasingly feisty Press, an alternative weekly that used to run William F. Buckley, gave us this:

Now that's funny!

My students and I had a long talk about glamorization and romanticization of prostitution in class, but nothing sums it up better than this!

Movie Review

One of the big problems I run into now that I have more blogs is where to post movie reviews. I mean, they are media, and I never wanted this to be just a political blog. This one I'm posting here because it has to do with postmodernism.

I went and saw "Doomsday" last night. I have to say I loved it. I went in with the attitude of "well, we could go see *Vantage Point* or *Horton*, but with *Doomsday* at least you know what you're getting." So I figured it would probably be bad but it wouldn't disappoint. In fact it started out every bit as bad as I expected it to, but then is actually picked up about the time it turned into a video game. What made it so good is that it was a very post-modern pastiche of other post apocalypse movies. Now it's true, I don't always appreciate this approach. For instance, I didn't particularly like that about *Independence Day.* But *Independence Day* grew on me, and now I like it a lot. *Doomsday* I liked right from the get go. So how many movies, post apocalypse or otherwise, did they gleefully steal from? Well, the list is in no way exhaustive, but *Doomsday* is part Escape from New York, part Last Man on Earth (I Am Legend), part Road Warrior, part Army of Darkness, part Blood Rayne, and (I swear they used some of the same locations) part Train Spotting. And, I'm sorry, I can't see a steam engine going through the Scottish Highlands without thinking of Harry Potter. There was even some Matrix thrown in there too.

And for all that it also had a pretty decent plot and a well drawn protagonist. Villain was a bit too too, but we hardly saw him much anyway. And it's got two of my favorite Brits in it: Bob Hoskins and Malcolm MacDowell. Gotta love that.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sptiz & Giggles

That came from the Daily Show. So did my favorite: Spitzer Swallows. Since he is my governor, and since it's all over the media, I should say something about Elliot.

I don't care. Really. I don't care. I don't think he should resign, I don't think he should go to jail, I don't think prostitution should be illegal. I think this is like steroids in baseball: something that is distracting us from the real problems of the day.

And it proves that schadenfreude, not baseball, is our national sport.


Scarborough said something just a minute ago that I was trying to say in my last overly verbose post; that as stupid and as offensive as Feraro's comments were the real issue is not racism. The real issue is the anger women are feeling over Barak Obama's candidacy. There are a lot of women out there who believed coming into this year that it was their time, that Hilary was finally going to lead them to the promised land, that there would finally be a woman president, and they feel that her year--their year--is being hijacked by Barak Obama. And they're mad. They believe that he has stolen her constituency, that he should have waited his turn, that the media is harder on her because she's a woman, and that his candidacy only proves that women are still second class citizens.

And they're right.

Joe points out that the reverse is true as well. He believes not only that a lot of angry white men won't vote for a black man for president (those same men probably won't vote for a woman either) but that if Hilary gets the nomination there will be a lot of angry black people who will not vote for her, and that if Obama gets the nomination there will be a lot of angry women who will not vote for him, and that unless there is a unity ticket McCain will probably win. The party is splitting over this historic candidacy. Imagine: we have the chance to elect the first woman president and the first black president and all it might mean is that the oldest and whitest of old white men wins because we are fighting over which historic barrier we want to break. Balcks see this as their time. Women see this as their time. Might it really be McCain's time after all?

Liberal Media Bias

Lately the version of Must See TV for me and Hanna has been Countdown with Keith Olberman. If we are both home at 8:00 we cuddle up on the couch and watch Countdown together. It is one of the more pleasant hours of the evening. Except last night--but I'll get to that. Hanna says Countdown is like The Daily Show, only real.

I disagree with that. I think the John Stewart is funnier, sharper, and just as real. But I did complain once that with the exception of Olberman and Chris Mathews there was nobody on the left to counter the disinformation and invective being spewed out by the Fox News crowd. As Olberman has become more and more emboldened since the midterm elections (much like the right-wingers did after 2004) he has kind of filled that void all by himself. He is the left's Bill O'Reily and we love him for it. I should complain that he is every bit as offensive and as biased and as belligerent as Bill is, but I admit it: I like it. I'm sure that this is how my mom feels about Bill (and I'm sure she feels about Olberman the way I feel about O'Reily). Mostly I love Olberman because he tells the truth about the conservative talking heads. And I LOVE "Worst Persons In The World."

But, like Bill Maher, his rhetoric sometimes pisses me off. Oh, not when he refers to "FOX News" as "Fix News," or runs a story on Ann Who Shall Not Be Named headlined "Coultergeist," or refers to the mouth as "Comedian Rush Limbaugh." That stuff I like.

No, what occasionally pisses me off is that he is so liberal that, like O'Reily, he refuses to acknowledge that the other side might have a well thought out position with which he simply disagrees, or when he feigns amazement at things that are perfectly ordinary outside New York. Like the way he rails on the south (look, I acknowledged a long time ago that the war between the states is still going on, but it seems to surprise Keith). He is also one of those liberals (and I think he knows better but is being disingenuous) who believes that the Civil War was fought to free the slaves.

But what pissed me off last night were two things. One, in an effort to make President Bush look bad (and does he really need our help) he ran a piece about a spoof he sang of "Green Green Grass of Home," at the Gridiron dinner, in which he was satirizing the press coverage of his administration. Olberman had regular contributor Rachel Maddow on to analyze the event and the song and she said it was completely offensive and not at all funny. Her comments were right on about the nature of this and the White House Press Corps Dinner being insidious because they break down the separation between journalists and the people they are covering in order to build sympathy with them (much--though she didn’t' say this--like embedding journalists with troops). But she also said this was offensive and not at all funny, while Olberman seemed shocked that anybody could laugh at "Bush's Failures." Well, I guess I'm a bad liberal, because I thought it was hilarious. I was laughing out loud. And Bush wasn't singing about his failures (which, as Olberman points out, Bush doesn’t admit to in the first place). He was singing about media coverage of his administration, which he sees and has always seen as biased. And people laughed. Because it was funny.

I think that is what pisses me off about Keith: his feigned outrage and sense of righteous indignation, and the way he pretends that he doesn't get the people he's covering. And, by the way, he is the last person not on Fox News who should be talking about objectivity.

His coverage of the Geraldine Feraro comments also showed his bias: that he, like apparently everyone at MSNBC, sees Barak Obama as the second coming and are willing to seize on anything that goes bad in the Clinton campaign to bring her down. I don’t know if Feraro was being racist. It doesn’t matter since, as has been proven time and time again, intent doesn’t matter when perceptions are involved, especially when dealing with race or gender. But, assuming she was not intending to be racist, I do think she brings up a legitimate point, and I do think that if a black person had said the same thing it wouldn't have created the furor it did. What I got out of what she said was that a lot of people are voting for Obama because he is black, which is true. Not that he was the beneficiary of some sort of quota system, but that part of his support comes to him because he's the first viable black candidate we've ever had. I think that's undeniable, and Olberman has proved it time and again. In the very same piece he noted that Obama won 90% of the black vote in Mississippi. He and others have pointed out that (a) there is no real substantive difference between Obama and Hilary and (b) that Obama's base is among African Americans and upper income liberals, the two constituencies that were believed to form Hilary's base as recently as December. In order to stay alive in this campaign she has had to reap the reward of Edwards leaving the race, and take over his constituency, the labor and working class whites, people she was never supposed to do well with (and people who are more likely to be overtly racist, it must be said). She had to do this because Barak beat her on her own turf. And the reason he was able to do this is because he is so inspirational, and the biggest part of his inspiration is that he is black. Among my black students Barak carries about 99%, and they all say that they are voting for him because they want to see a black president. That is the biggest change he represents, and everybody knows it. AND IT IS A PERFECTLY GOOD REASON TO SUPPORT HIM. (so long as it’s not the only reason). How many talking heads have commented on how symbolic his presidency would be, or have said that the best way to change the perception of America is to have the face of America be black? The media wants to have it both ways: you can praise Obama for his position as the first black candidate but if you say it gives him an edge then you are being racist.

That's what Feraro said: that Barak is doing so well because he is taking away Hilary's base, and one reason they are going to him is because they like the idea of a black president. And there's some truth to that. But it is an ugly truth, a truth we don't like to think or talk about, and like Jimmy the Greek saying something that people in Black Studies had been saying for years (that blacks were treated like livestock by slave owners), she said it in a way that was sure to inflame people's racial sensitivities, and a white person can't do that. I didn’t hear her say that she thinks Obama is not qualified to be president. But she obviously thinks Hilary is more qualified. I also hope she realizes that just about everybody who supported her as a vice presidential candidate did so because she was a woman (I know I did).

I think Olberman's real point was that by saying shat she said she is playing the race card big time and appealing to the people who will vote *against* Obama because he *is* black. If true then it is an ugly, disgusting thing to do. Like Jimmy the Greek's comments, Feraro's statement only re-enforces racist attitudes. And perhaps, as I wrote earlier, perceptions is more important than intent.

But Olberman’s response was not limited to Feraro. It was really to pound on Hilary for not distancing herself from Feraro: a person who, Olberman seems to realize, represents the one constituency Hilary absolutely cannot afford to loose, women. By harping on this issue the way he was Olberman was exposing his own bias in favor of Barak Obama. Hilary was right when she played the Nixon card: the media really are out to get her, and Olberman is leading the charge. Obama never gets this treatment and I for one am willing to say that part of it is because he’s black. But I’m not the only one: MSNBC’s Chuck Scarborough confirmed this on Real Time last week, saying that he has gotten pressure from producers not to criticize Obama because it could be seen as racist. There is less compunction about going after Hilary. Feraro has noted that it’s more acceptable to be sexist in America than racist, and she’s right. Don’t believe me? Watch a Hooters commercial sometime and then ask yourself if you could open a restaurant where the waiters all wore black face. I'm sure I'll be seen as racist for this post in some circles, but tell me I'm wrong.

By the way, I might as well say it at this point: I voted for Obama. And his being black had something to do with that.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mr Drudge?

New Idea, the Australian gossip magazine which broke the story of Prince Harry serving in Afghanistan has apologized, saying that it was unaware that there was an agreed press blackout by the British media, and acknowledging that the story was insensitive and could have put both the prince and his unit at risk. But it was not the story in January issue of a small Ausie rag with a 390,000 circulation base that prompted the British army to pull the prince from combat. It was not until the story was picked up by the very widely read and influential Drudge Report that the prince was called home. I wonder: now that New Idea has apologized for blowing the Prince's cover and putting his life at risk, will Matt Drudge do the same?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Topsy Turvy

With Hilary staging big comebacks last night in Texas and Ohio (and I fully admit I got that wrong) the waters are certainly muddied. The more I look at it the more confused I get. I, like so many Democrats, so want to win next fall, and I like both of them so much. I think she deserves to be president--I don't know how else to put it. I think he should be president. I think a woman would make the greatest possible change. I think a black man named Obama would make the best change for right now. Image *is* important. I think she's more qualified. I think he's more inspiring. I think he preaches hope while she preaches fear. I think we are a more sexist nation than we are a racist nation. I think he's a peacemaker. I think she's a fighter.

I fear that if we keep tearing each other apart, and that if she continues to go negative, she will hand the presidency to John McCain. Remember 1980.

To me the biggest issue is the way she polls with independents and republicans as opposed to Obama. I agree with Obama that a lot of his people won't support her. If she gets the nomination they'll either stay home or jump ship to Nader. But, as I've noted earlier, there are a lot of republicans and independents who support Obama, who think he represents real change, a move away from partisan politics, a candidate for all Americans. I know a lot of Republicans who would cross party lines to vote for him. So far, the only Republican who said she'd support Hilary is Ann Coulter.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

I want to meet Diablo Cody

In fact, I want to do more than that. On her myspace page, Diablo--a modern grrrl in every sense of the word, lists "fornication" among her interests. Funny: me too! She and I should definitely get together! :)

My mom wanted me to write about the Oscars. I'm not really going to do that. I'm going to write about the oscar coverage. My students had to bring copies of the Times, the Post, and the Daily News to class on Monday/Tuesday, which gave us a chance to compare the oscar coverage in each paper. As expected, the Times just reported the facts realtively straight up (though some of us had the late edition, which had gone to press before the Best Picture was announced, and some had the final edition, which had all the winners). The Daily News hoisted the patriotic flag, calling it a "foreign invasion" because all of the acting winners were from Europe. Ah! But the Post!

It's all about scandal and sex in the Post, it never fails. The Post concentrated on Diablo Cody's win for best screenplay for writing the script to Juno. The headline was "You go-go Girl!" They concentrated on her former career as a stripper and her blog, "Pussy Ranch." They commented on her (totally hot!) sheer dress and her (totally hot!) tatoo. They had eight paragraphs on Diablo before they got to the rest of the awards. And, to top that off, they showed a picture of her that looked like she was blowing her Oscar. The whole store and picture are here.

You can always count on the Post!