jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
David Simon, creator of The Wire (among other things) made a blog post yesterday that's making the rounds today. You might recognize the money quote: "Change is a motherfucker when you run from it." Which is a true thing. But I'd recommend reading the post in full, as Simon's main point is about the ways that the changing demographics in the US are shifting the relative power of voting coalitions that have been in place since 1980. (By the way, I could EASILY put on my historian's hat and go on at length about the shifting voting coalitions that make up the bases of American political parties; it's my favorite thing about political history by far, and if anyone wants me to I will, but not here.)

To boil down post of thoughts about this week's election and what we need to do next, they are:


Now is the part where I get long and think through some stuff. )

As always I welcome your thoughts. As always I reserve the right to stop conversations I do not choose to host.

hcr

Mar. 22nd, 2010 10:32 am
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Default)
I was born in Maine, and I try to make the best of being an American. That means trying to make the country better, and trying not to be a dick generally about this country or other countries. I’m the kind who stays and fights.

I’m not sure that all this heightened awareness about all the deal trading that went into HCR is a good thing for everyone to know in such detail. Not that it should be hidden, but it shouldn’t be the lead story, whatever Pelosi did to get the bill passed. Those who are dismayed by what went on should go read the second half of the Dallek LBJ biography and see how many arms he had to twist to get the Civil Rights Act passed in ‘64, a bill that still had so many problems that it’s been constantly amended, and the Voting Rights Act had to be passed the next year. We’re taught in schools that it was the wonderful conclusion of the civil rights movement, but it was far from that for so many reasons. In fact, the passage of the Civil Rights Act caused such a schism in the Democratic party that the entire white Southern power structure switched to the Republican party and got Nixon into the white house in ‘68, which is why Obama was the first non-southern Democratic president since JFK. On the other hand, tons of lawsuits are filed based on that flawed act, and I doubt we could have gotten the ADA if not for the Civil Rights Act.

Or even better, look back at how social security was passed, because it was a fucking mess, and it’s still far from a perfect system (as any of us who have parents or grandparents who depend on it can attest). But it’s better than it was before, when the elderly were the poorest group in the nation, hit hard by the depression.

Yes, there’s a lot of compromise that completely sucks (like the reproductive freedom stuff), but compromise lived with often leads to more progress. I remember the initial fight over gays in the military in 1993; Clinton spent almost all of his political capital and got almost nowhere. DADT, as much as we hate it now, was the best he could do at the time and it was better than the witch hunts that had been going on before that. I don’t think we could have gotten the military—the military! which fought tooth and nail to keep even DADT from happening, you don’t even know—to the place it is now without the intermediate step of DADT. Its time is past, for sure, but maybe we needed it as a placeholder while the culture did 18 years of work on homophobia.

As for the comparisons to other countries, I guess I’ll say this. You know how nowadays in Sweden etc they’re having all these debates about extending benefits to immigrants, basically to non-Swedes? Well, the US has always been in that place. Look at the difference in the progressive movements in England/Germany vs. the US in 1880-1915 and you’ll see that over and over again, the problem in America is that those workers didn’t look like us, weren’t Americans, weren’t us—they were strange and foreign and had weird names and were Catholics or Jews and we weren’t really sure we wanted them to stay. And that isn’t even counting the Negroes.

Remember: change is hard. It’s always hard. It’s slow and painful, and it’s never enough, never where we should be. But I look back and god, how far we’ve come, how much has happened since those early Clinton years, when we thought we could get gays serving openly in the military and a true national healthcare reform, and we couldn’t. So I’m going to be happy about it, because it’s been my entire adult life in coming.
jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
I'm just warning you that I'll probably be spammy today. Or not.

Anyway, the consolation for not going to DC this weekend after all was not only attending [livejournal.com profile] greylightning's birthday party on Saturday and being around a lot of good friends, and catching a movie with W_____ on Sunday, but also being able to do pretty much what I wanted to do on Tuesday but with different folks: have some brunch and watch the festivities on television. [livejournal.com profile] ali_wildgoose, [livejournal.com profile] stella_art and W_____ came over, [livejournal.com profile] aethelflaed2 obtained patties from our local bakery, and I made sweet potato-chicken apple sausage hash. We settled in to watch with our mimosas and yes, I cried.
  • I loved that Michelle Obama brought Laura Bush a little present (and Meredith Viera's reaction to same, which was basically to melt into a puddle).
  • I loved all the hats, like Aretha's grey crystal bow and Bush 41's fur ear flaps and that random guy in the stands with the red fedora and Carter's rust colored cap. Very dapper day!
  • I loved the music just before Obama was sworn in, and that there were four people playing classical music and only one was white (and he, Jewish) was not lost on me. I love "Simple Gifts" anyway; it's one of my favorite pieces of music so I was pleased to hear it.
  • I loved Obama hesitating when Roberts mixed up the oath. As many others have said, it actually doesn't matter; law made him president at noon, during the music.
  • I thought the poem was pretty good, actually.
  • I love love loved the benediction.
  • I love that the most visited page on the senate's inauguration site was the recipes for the inauguration luncheon.
  • I adored the NASA float that closed the inaugural parade.


I know that many of you were dismayed to see how much praying goes on at these official government events. All I can say to that is yes, it was ever thus. With the exception of Kennedy and Biden, we've had nothing but Protestants in the top two offices of this nation—and those two exceptions are Catholics, which was still a really big deal in 1960. I'm not saying our future can't be different, but we have a big past weight behind us, not to mention that most of this country is Christian, and some of them feel that this is a Christian country in its essence. All I can say to that is, I can't teach the history of this country without talking about religion: the early settlements of religious objectors, the First and Second Great Awakenings, the rise of fundamentalism in the 1920s, how both the abolition and civil rights movements came out of the church. I guess I'm trying to say that I wasn't surprised by it at all, and I can't think of a public ceremony I've ever attended that didn't include those sorts of things—and there was a live broadcast of Obama at the National Cathedral this morning.

An aside about fashion and gender. )
jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
I have to admit, the Prop 8 Map, which combines the list of donors to anti-Prop 8 organizations with googlemaps, worries me. I know it's all public information. But it's one thing to have a list of businesses to boycott, and quite another, I feel, to know what street someone who donated $50 lives on. (Yes, I've found folks on the map who donated that little.) I've donated money to political organizations here and there, and I stand by it, but I'm not sure I wouldn't feel just a little more reluctant to give $25 a year to Planned Parenthood, especially if I lived in a mainly pro-life area, if I thought that a bunch of folks could come protest at my door. I worry that this sort of thing works to limit political speech, to reduce the effect that Obama just had, to push small donors out of the system because there's just too much risk inherent in donating against your local grain. Which, of course, will just make the people with money even more powerful.

I know I'm a little bit biased about this. The first time I ran into something of this sort was when someone took the state-by-state registries of sex offenders and put them on what must have been a precursor of googlemaps a few years ago. Some of the parents on my flist praised this and saw it as a wonderful tool but I couldn't help but worry about the possibility of harassment. You might think that anyone who commits a crime that gets them on such a list is deserving of whatever they get, but in some states the bar is quite low. In any case, my father was on the list until his death; luckily, Maine doesn't make the full addresses public, or I would have worried for my mother's safety, living as they do on a quiet country road. (And certainly I was pleased to see the swiftness with which they took him off the list after he died.)

Maybe this isn't a great parallel. Maybe my mother deserved to be harassed by anyone with a grudge for staying with my father after his crimes; maybe he deserved to worry that someone might burn down the house. (It's happened, where the addresses were made public.) Maybe that was an incendiary tangent that I just went on. But I do worry that maps like this will have a chilling effect on political involvement. I know that in moving against Prop 8 there's a wish to shame the people who donated to its passage, but can this not be done in reverse? And is the $25 you gave to that political action committee worth protesters at your door?
jlh: a sign in Lynchville, ME that shows distance to various Maine towns named after countries/cities (Paris, Norway, etc.) (Maine sign)
So this is the thing about me, that a lot of my close friends have noticed: I really, really hate groupthink. Get a lot of people talking about soemthing in a certain way, or thinking about something in a certain way, and I tend to edge away from whatever they're pointing at. It makes me nervous. But at this point, I'm beginning to feel like half my flist is going to think I'm a closet homophobe or something if I don't dutifully post 1000 words of outrage about Prop 8 in California, and that makes me feel ... unsettled. Because yeah, I'm outraged. And yeah, when I watched Keith's Special Comment last night--live, on MSNBC, borrowing [livejournal.com profile] ali_wildgoose's cable--I thought he was on top of his game. But I'm neither going to link to it, nor be bullied into linking to it, because I reckon you can find it on your own.

Now, I know that CA is a really huge state, and that they were already doing marriage there, and bellweather, and etc. And two years ago, some will know that I was pretty furious that there was piles of outrage on my flist about Texas gay rights, and not one mention that gay rights had passed in Maine. So I'm going to talk about Maine, and how excited I am about what's been happening there, and how that can lead us to a brighter future, and maybe what happened in Maine can be replicated, because you know, I'm just not interested in posting about my outrage. I'm interested in taking that energy and using it to move the process forward. And like two years ago, you're going to see "small random state I don't care about and can't put into my stereotypical red/blue dumb/smart concept of American voters" and skip the entry. But hey, at least I tried, right?

Because Maine got there, and I wasn't sure it ever would. )

And here we are facing defeat in California. But I wasn't really hugely surprised that people in CA voted for both Obama and Prop 8. Disappointed, but not surprised. )

And I'll say it out loud: I don't think the modern civil rights movement is a good parallel at all, especially since the gay rights movement has huge strengths that the civil rights movement didn't have, namely, the existence of PFLAG. The idea that hey, you got your president, so can I get some stuff? is understandable but hugely problematic. Civil rights are a public good. Obama has already shown an ability to put those rights in a way that people who might think they are against them--people like my brother-in-law--can understand.

Let's keep working. Let's hold Obama and his inclusion of gays in his speeches to an inclusion of gays in his administration and in his programs. Let's keep raising money. But let's also stay open to new ways of thinking about the issue that can move us out of the stalemate. After all, a lot of people thought Howard Dean's 50 state strategy was absurd and wasteful, but it won the Democrats the Congress in 2006 and the presidency in 2008. There might be a way out of this that we can't even see right now. If you'd asked me in 1998 if I thought Maine would pass gay rights, I would not have been optimistic. I was wrong.

Let's keep looking.
jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
I keep trying to write something about how I feel about the election results, but I find that I really can't put it into words (unusually!). I'm mostly just very, very pleased. I'm excited to be able to teach the beginning of the Republican "southern strategy" in my class and now talk about how it ended. I'm excited that my country is deciding to hold hands, take a deep breath, and jump into the future, instead of continuing an argument about the past.

I'm probably more interested in Obama as an X-er than as a black man, which may be odd, but my god I cannot hear about the culture wars one more time without wanting to tear my hair out. And maybe the fact that Obama is an X-er is important; that "southern strategy" was a product of the culture wars, the GOP's attempt to win them by appealing to working class whites alienated by the rights and anti-war movements of the 60s, by the entire New Left that had come into the Democratic party. But Obama is uninterested in those culture wars, because he didn't live through them, and he's over it--as so many of us are.

There's a fantastic article on The New Republic's website about America's changing demographics and the shift left that I would highly recommend. As they say, these realignments happen periodically, and we were due for another one. I don't think that Obama means the end of racism in the US; more, it means that we have to stop "not talking" about it. The constant evocations of the so-called Bradley Effect (never mind that Tom Bradley ran for mayor of LA in 1982, or that one of the biggest changes in the Obama coalition was the shift of Latinos to the left) and the worries about the white working class just emphasized that the so-called liberal media had a view of the American electorate that had been shaped by Reagan's win in 1980 and hadn't changed at all. They kept waiting for the Reagan Democrats to drift back, as if that is what a Democrat had to do to win. But the Reagan Democrats don't exist anymore. Obama won the country--and lost the white vote.

In many ways, I think the media is continuing to let us down by talking to and getting their awards from each other; by applying outmoded models of thinking instead of looking at what is actually happening; by valuing access over telling the story. There's been a lot of chatter this year about the failures of the campaign coverage model; certainly those reporters are mroe interested in the horse race than in any of the actual issues, partly because they aren't experts in all those issues, but they are experts in how a campaign is run. But that model leads to more cynicism on the part of the people, and woe to those who want to actually find out where a candidate stands on an issue. Even the primary debates were full of bullshit questions engineered more to capture a sound bite for the news cycle than elicit a real response. And they wonder why so many are fleeing MSM, especially television news, for blogs and other web sites.

Obama was a serious candidate at a serious time. He wasn't going to win on one-liners, and with both blogs and Youtube allowing us all to move beyond the sound bite--my God, all the people who watched that entire race speech on Youtube! Would that have happened 15 years ago? Could that have happened 15 years ago?--we could all take in that seriousness, at length. That infomercial really did sum up who he is, and what was wonderful about it was an entire country got to see what it would be like to have him coming to us on the TV all the time, and thought, I like it.

Me? I love it. As he said, it's going to be a lot of work and take much longer than 100 or 1000 days, arbitrary benchmarks Obama quite rightly said are more in the minds of the media than anyone else. Change is hard, and scary, and none of us knows where this is going to go. There will be dead ends and misalignments--heck, half the first New Deal was thrown out by the courts. And we lefties will have to be a little patient because we can't have all our candy in one day. That "contract with America" led to a budget stalemate, after all. We, as a country, just don't like to move that fast.

But today is a day to celebrate, and so will January 20, 2009, and in a very real way, so will all the days after that, as we move into a future with real hope for the first time in quite a long time.
jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
VOTE


Something I wrote in 2004 about the importance of voting even if you don't live in a swing state:

Wanna know how the Christian Coalition-types gained so much power, not only in Kansas but in the rest of the US--so much that they became a major force in the Republican party? They ran candidates and voted in local elections. They did that grass roots democracy thing, only no one was paying them any mind because who votes in local-only elections?

I bring this up because I want to stress that even if you don't live in a swing state, your vote counts. [...] Your state legislature is where any constitutional amendments (whatever gets out of the Congress) will be ratified, and ... where gay marriage will be decided. It's also where most civil rights are decided and where so much of the nitty gritty of the education, health, and welfare system actually gets determined. If you live in a rural area, your town council or county board will decide on how the roads are maintained, how school funding is distributed and how high your property taxes will be. If you live in an urban area, your city officials will also be setting the tone for things like law enforcement, public works, and mass transportation.


Important stuff! Make your voice heard!

My mom worked the elections when I was a kid, stayed late to count all the ballots. That Wednesday after was one of the few days that she wouldn't be up with us in the morning, and Dad would have to make breakfast. My father was very active in the Democratic party and I've inherited some of his yellow dog tendancies, I'll admit. But I'd never ever not vote.

I tried to vote this morning, but post-move exhaustion and post-move lack of food in house for breakfast led to near-hysteria when I was confronted by the line. So I headed into class and came back around 11:30, when the line was slightly shorter. And then I was able to skip the line, as apparently there was almost no one there from my actual election district, so there was no line inside. Excellent!

Oh, if you want to know, this is how I voted ).

Now I'm at work, really tired, need to run out and get some caffeine to go with my afternoon snack, and have been reading "Pollster" Mark Blumenthal's articles on the problems with exit polls. I thought about doing my Yuletide sign up, but I'm a little too tired to focus. And then later I'm heading over to [livejournal.com profile] ali_wildgoose's place with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Ocean's 11!

Oh, yeah--I moved yesterday. It went fine, my life is in boxes, and I'm very, very tired.

seriously?

Oct. 31st, 2008 01:54 pm
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (privilege)
(I'm posting this here because I don't want to rant in the journal of a friend who is really only reporting what someone else said to them.)

Are we seriously telling each other that if Barack Obama loses on Tuesday that all the black neighborhoods in major cities in the US will go up in flames? Seriously? You're going to tell my (white, jewish) roommate to pack an overnight bag and head to her parents' house in the 'burbs because we live in a predominantly black area of Brooklyn?

Of course, you're assuming that I'll be safe as houses since I'm a colored girl, which might be why no one's said anything about this to me before now ...

You do know that the last time that really happened in multiple cities was when Dr. King was shot, right? And that there were predictions of it at various points later but it didn't really happen? I just ... I am apoplectic right now with rage. You're all like, yay Obama! and voting for him and shit, and you might be a friend of mine, because hey, Barack and I are only half black, and we're educated, and all that noise. But you know, them folks in the ghetto, when they don't get what they want, they goin' burn that city to da ground, I tell ya!

ETA: Okay, I just talked to my coworker D, a white guy, whose response to this was, "That's ridiculous, but if he loses, I'll go to Detroit and riot with them." This mysteriously made me feel a little better, and I am no longer shaking with rage. However, I continue to think that this is the most racist bullshit I've heard all month. Seriously.
jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
For the policy wonks out there, or anyone who wants to understand how we got into this Iraq mess in the first place, a NYT Mag article from that old neoconservative Francis Fukyama (who recently stated that Obama has his vote) lays out in brilliant detail how we got from the end of the cold war to where we are now. Note that it was written in early 2006, before the surge, so some of his comments about Iraq and Syria don't apply quite as well now.

As for the Barry infomercial, my ridiculous side is disappointed in the lack of flashing phone numbers, spray mounted pie charts, or the demonstration of small appliances, as that would have been funny. But to be serious, I thought the best move they made, aside from the obvious ones of choosing diverse families from swing states, was to have Obama narrate the entire thing. It gave the show cohesion despite the many different segments, and gave the viewer the impression that Obama himself was telling us about these families. Obviously it was shot and put together extremely well; amazing to think that they did this in what, two weeks or so. Wonkette noted the balance of the appeal to the independents in the infomercial and the shout out to the base on the Daily Show that same night. Obama even made a couple of jokes, and Jon looked surprised about that. I admit, I find it endearing that Obama isn't very funny. I'd rather he be earnest.
jlh: Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, from the TV miniseries (duos: Anne and Gilbert)
(ironic use of Canadians in icon)

For the inside-media types: the skinny on why Obama's half-hour of power won't be airing on ABC tomorrow night. Hey Pushing Daisies fans, you'd better represent; you can always watch Barry on the website.

For the Russell Brand fans: the trouble he's in because of a crank call to a 'pensioner'.

For those who ask, "isn't anyone moral anymore?": Call center workers walk off the job rather than read the latest 'robocall' script. Apparently actual recorded "robocalls" are illegal in Indiana, so to get them out they have to find live people to read the script. Those of you who've worked in a call center will understand how awesome it is that their supervisor just told them to take the day (albeit unpaid) rather than just firing their asses.

For those trying to envision the new GOP: Sarah Palin is the new litmus test. I guess that means Elizabeth Hasselbeck is in, Mitt Romney and the entire intellectual wing of the party is out.

Or not: Ken Layne of Wonkette sees a new centrist republican party finally able to shake off the wingnuts. God, I hope so, because the left needs a true opposition to keep it from its own excesses. To me this seems more likely than the Palin scenario mostly because the party might give lip service to the populist social conservatives, but they freak out the money men, most of whom are moderate fiscal conservatives. That's what held Huckabee back. Given the dollars that the Mormons are flinging at Yes-on-Prop-8 in California, Romney might be able to finally win over those suspicious evangelicals. Any predictions on 2012 or even the 2010 midterms are absurd at this point, but that's what happens when the pundits start to all agree.

For those who prefer very dark themes in their fiction: My usual reply to this is that I can find plenty of darkness in real life, thanks, my current go-to being how we're sending young people to a war that sends them home with PTSD, which the military then doesn't treat because there aren't enough mental health professionals in the army or the Veterans Administration, and then when said soldiers act up they're giving dishonorable discharges which makes it difficult for them to get good jobs after they've come back from fighting a fucking war and on top of that makes them ineligible for veteran's benefits. Well, now the VA is reporting that one in 7 deployed female soldiers suffer from sexual trauma. Five'll get you ten that the armed forces use this as a reason to keep women from forward positions (which makes it difficult for them to advance) as opposed to using this as a reason to get more treatment for the soldiers, male or female or I dunno, actually fucking work against the problems with sexual harassment in the military?

And now two video reasons to vote, one more partisan than the other:

The most adorable thing I've seen all week--a kid's chorus talking politics in a pop song, and also dancing. )

Remember that "Wassup" ad? Turns out it was a short film and Budweiser only bought the rights to the concept for a limited period of time. So the maker of the original film gets to do whatever he wants with these guys now. And what he's done is pretty fucking brilliant. )

omg one more week.
jlh: David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr, Rob Brydon, banner says congratuwelldone (congratuwelldone)
So if you want to read something that may motivate you to really care about the election, check out how McCain could win, an electoral vote strategy from the folks at fivethirtyeight. They only give it a 5% probability, but there is still a probability if you don't vote.

And if you do vote, Ben & Jerry will give you free ice cream which is pretty awesome.

As for me, today I voted for the following fandoms for Yuletide:
  • Ferris Buellers Day Off
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder - Little House series
  • LM Montgomery - Anne of Green Gables series (to which I added Owen Ford)
  • Nancy Drew mysteries
  • Pretty in Pink
  • RPF - So You Think You Can Dance
Suggestions?
jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
First, if you're Canadian, I hope you're voting today!

Pollster.com has a new chart up of the year-long Obama v McCain trend. I'm embedding the Java script because the static one is 07/08.

2008, in a graph )
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Richard Ayoade)
But first: Sadly, my beloved laptop died the other night and even the magical Zigster couldn't revive it. I'll be surviving on the ipod touch in the evenings, and I have internet at work during the day, but expect delays for most of October until I can get funds together to replace it.

What's for Breakfast? So that sort of annoying mag Saveur asks a bunch of DC elites what they eat for breakfast (and jeez, Obama with the eggs, the hell?). I love Nancy Pelosi with "chocolate ice cream." I also love Wonkette's graphic of the best breakfast convenience product ever, chocolate chip pancakes wrapped around a sausage, frozen, on a stick.

Ollie North never called out Osama Bin Ladin. It was Abu Nidal, morons! I like the all-caps; I'm sure rather than a screaming on the email vibe he's going for a Telex/teletype/telegram feel STOP

Some moron is citing Chuck and Larry as a reason not to give same sex benefits to federal employees. Yeah, because men and women never cohabit in order to receive benefits. Nope, it's only the gays, because that's how they ruin marriage.

McCain thinks Obama has cooties. Or something. Anyway, he didn't want to shake his hand.

A thoughtful article from Idolator on the proliferation of lists in music magazines.

I am so watching the debate live tonight.
jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
As was demonstrated in an interview with Katie Couric, Sarah Palin is unable to name any Supreme Court Case other than Roe v. Wade.

The Rules: Post info about ONE Supreme Court decision, modern or historic, to your lj. (Any decision, as long as it's not Roe v. Wade.) For those who see this on your f-list, take the meme to your OWN lj to spread the fun.


My own sentimental favorite, of course, is Loving v Virginia. And Brown v the Board of Education of Topeka, KS is a perennial. But since I'm an American historian-in-training, allow me to give you a few others to select from:

Lawrence v Texas
Plessy v Ferguson
Marbury v Madison
Griswold v Connecticut
Brandenburg v Ohio
Boy Scouts of America v Dale
Regents of the University of California v Bakke
Campbell v Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.
Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District
Dred Scott v Sandford
Miranda v Arizona
Gideon v Wainwright
Miller v California
Miller v United States
New York Times Co. v United States
United States v Nixon
Flood v Kuhn
Reno v American Civil Liberties Union
Sony Corp. of America v Universal City Studios, Inc.
MGM Studios, Inc. v Grokster, Ltd.
Batson v Kentucky
United States v Harris
United States v Paramount Pictures, Inc.
United States v Sioux Nation of Indians
United States v Wong Kim Ark
jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
So I'm listening to The Takeaway, talking about the history of presidential debates—apparently debates are second only to super bowls in terms of ratings—and Hockenberry says: "Jim Lehrer has become like the Ryan Seacrest of debates." And then later, he said that "Jim Lehrer gets better ratings than Ryan Seacrest; that says something good about the Republic." Hilarious!

I hope the debate happens tonight, because if it doesn't people will get really pissy. There's a reason my reaction to all the hysteria (and hello, Obama is up in the polls, but I'm sure everyone will discount that too) has been "wait for the debates" because all those undecided voters are waiting for that, too. Most people are not completely sure about the candidates' stances on various issues because they haven't been paying attention and the debates are their opportunity to find out. (I mean, the media isn't going to tell them; the media only cares about the horse race.)

By the way, if you do want to find out about the issues, the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC is once again doing "30 issues in 30 days". They started on Monday but the archives are available on the website. It's bound to be a little New York-centric, but hopefully it's an idea that will spread and grow.
jlh: Donyelle from So you think you can dance season 2 (ladies: Donnyelle)
This might need to be daily. This morning I got my identity crisis all over poor [livejournal.com profile] wordplay.

Strippers! Nose Jobs! Six Easy Ways To Explain Economic Disaster Includes:
1. The 'how this is playing out at the strip club' angle
2. The 'detestable rich people put off plastic surgery' angle
3. The ha ha ha, 'assets for sale on eBay' angle
4. The 'end of greed' angle
5. The 'America and/or capitalism is dead' angle
6. The 'Wall Street: It really does affect Main Street!' angle


Debate Prep: John McCain To Practice With One Black Guy He Knows. No, they're not making this up. In other "black people aren't like us" news, people apparently think Michelle Obama is more elitist than Hillary Clinton. You know, because she's a black woman who went to college and stuff.

ETA: Oh, and it also makes me feel a tiny bit better that Defamer didn't think Probst should win, either, and that Idolator doesn't like Duffy any more than I do.

One more: What do you think you need at 38?. I'm thinking friends, a roof, and a personality, myself.
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (smokin' matt albie)
A Report Sure to Spark a National Conversation on Race in which our friends at [livejournal.com profile] wonkette take down the AP for the crappy article they wrote on their crappy push-poll about how up to a quarter of all Democrats won't vote for Obama because he's black, or violent, or lazy or something. It's fucking brilliant.

Now for how the New York Times is very much not keeping Clio sane:

Listen to me, Aaron Sorkin, because I had to listen to your fucking personal issues for 22 episodes of Studio 60: There is no right time for condescension! You really think that condescension is the appropriate response to American anti-intellectualism? Do you remember what happened to Obama's numbers when he condescended to Hillary? Do none of you people remember that the condescension of the left is why we fucking LOST IN 2004? Jesus Christ on a pogo stick what is wrong with you people? Do you really think that you can spend all your time making fun of the "flyover" states and then expect them to vote your ass into office in November?

By the way, that whole riff on how you don't know what white women want? Not actually funny, not because of your notorious women issues (may you never write another female character not played by Alison Janney because, seriously) but mostly because it makes it sound like they all want the same thing. (I say they because I'm not actually white, so I can't say we. But not all black women want to be Michelle Obama, either.) Never mind that it makes a joke about these two guys standing there going, yeah, I don't get women. Yeah, that's just the way to get those weirdo PUMA chicks back, or to make the disappointed Hillary people feel better.

Awesome job, Aaron. By selfishly spewing out all of your frustration you've just put everything that needs to be overcome and most of what's currently wrong with the left on display, and put Obama in a bad light because you know, of course he doesn't know what to do, but Bartlett knows, because in your shows there is always a sage-but-flawed white man who knows what everyone else is supposed to be doing. If I were Karl Rove, I would have found that piece to be hilarious too, but for a completely different reason.

Maybe, just maybe, instead of being offended that the US is full of anti-intellectuals (and hello, it's always been that way; even Jefferson played that game) we should be trying to find a way to say that no, just because I'm intelligent does not mean that I agree with your 7th grade English teacher who told you that you were too stupid to go to college so you might as well get into that vocational-technical school, or that I'm that slick talking fellow who told you to refinance your house so you could send your kid to state school. Maybe if we thought about people's interactions with others who condescend to them, we could get closer to understanding why they worry about folks who are smarter than they are, and we won't get millions of people voting for another George Bush.

So sit down and think for a good long time on this: do you want to win, or would you rather lose because it means that you're too smart for the room? Because, dear American left, I'm really beginning to wonder.
jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
Friends,

I know that for some of you, I'm a calming voice of reason, the person telling you why you shouldn't freak out. And that's great. I mean, it's nice to have a role. But seriously, even though I love you guys? If one more person talks to me in person or in chat about how they're scared that McCain is going to win I am seriously going to hit someone.

Here's the short answer: Stop worrying. It's way too early. Help out if you can, but after that you're just going to have to get Zen about it.

The long answer: Everyone gets a convention bump, but Obama didn't get to ride his for too long because the conventions were back-to-back and because of the VP nomination; what we're seeing now is McCain's. Don't stress about McCain's speech getting higher ratings than Obama's, because more of McCain's people are going to watch the speech on CNN rather than online someplace. Most people don't even pay attention to the campaign until after Labor Day, and many will make their final decision based on the debates. Yes, a lot of people are excited about Sarah Palin, but those aren't people who might have voted for Obama, but people who would have just stayed home. Obama has a fantastic campaign organization--that's how he won over Hillary, who'd been all but designated a year before the primaries even started.

If the news freaks you out, then stop reading the blogs, stop listening to the news (it actually isn't that tough) and filter out people who talk about politics all the time. I promise after this to do it behind a cut. Watch Top Design or the new season of The Hills or catch up on BSG or whatever, but just stop freaking out on me, because there's only so much I can do to keep you hopeful, you know? I can't counter argue all of your fears, and trying to is stressing me out.

Thanks! Back to pop culture in the next post. OMG, double elimination on PR this week!!!!! Six designers showing in Bryant park (including decoys)! What the hell, Tim?

ETA: Gawker says to stop obsessing over polls! I would say to instead obsess over David Gregory taking over political coverage from Keith and Chris on MSNBC, but you shouldn't be watching cable news anyway! *wags finger*
jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
Look, I'll admit it: when I saw the rumors about Sarah Palin not being the mother of her youngest child, but his grandmother, I was vaguely amused in that let's-catch-the-hypocrites sort of way. And when I heard about her daughter being pregnant, I rolled my eyes, less because of what that may or may not say about Sarah Palin's positions on abstinence and reproductive choice, and more about what it says about her wanting power enough to thrust her daughter into the spotlight at such a sensitive time. Say what you want about the Spears family, but Jamie Lynn had her own show on Nickelodeon when she got pregnant--she was already in the public eye.

As was fairly inevitable, the news media has found Palin's daughter's baby daddy's myspace page and really, it's just a lot of silly stuff written by a 18-year-old kid who put up pictures of himself in his hockey uniform. As I said above, I'm as guilty of enjoying a little schadenfreude as the next person, but as the man I'm voting for to lead this country said, let's just leave them alone.

It's just too bad that Palin didn't make the same choice for her own family.

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jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Default)
Clio, a vibrating mass of YES!

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