A Question For the ADL
July 30, 2010

Your organization was presumably founded to combat anti-Semitism. So let me ask you this: What happens to anti-Semitism when an organization claiming to represent the American Jewish community endorses a policy founded on anti-Muslim bigotry?

At this point, it’s hard to avoid the impression that the Anti-Defamation League is bad for the Jews. But more the point, it’s just plain bad. And it sure as shit doesn’t speak for me.

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Celebrity
August 11, 2008

This whole “celebrity” ad thing is turning into a rapidly escalating arms race. Or perhaps a downward spiraling IQ race. One or the other, really.

I mean, who in the Obama campaign signed off on the “I’m rubber, you’re glue” defense?

This kind of crap is beneath him. Especially after he spent a solid week explaining why this kind of crap was beneath anyone. “New politics,” indeed.

Meanwhile, McCain re-retaliates with an online ad that … well, wow.

I’ve been pretty skeptical of claims about racial messaging in McCain’s ads, but the “Obama wants to steal your white women just like in Birth of a Nation” subtext here is kind of hard to deny.

You only support the old white guy because he’s old and white
August 9, 2008

Here’s a fun statistic buried in Charles Blow’s latest column:

Some might say that turnabout is fair play, citing the fact that 89 percent of blacks say they plan to vote for Obama. That level of support represents a racial advantage for him, too, right? Not necessarily. Blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic in the general election anyway. According to CNN exit polls John Kerry got 88 percent of the black vote in 2004.

Something to keep in mind when John Gibson tries to argue that anyone only likes Obama because he’s black.

Racism parties are so much more awkward when only one side shows up to dance.

Separating the art from the artist
August 4, 2008

Emily Rutherford on Orson Scott Card:

Friends sometimes tell me I’m being immature and short-sighted, arguing that I should be able to enjoy an author’s fiction even if I disagree with his or her politics. But there’s something that rankles with me about supporting this guy at all, whether by buying his books or merely condoning them.

What do you think? Are Card’s books in fact “safe” reading for our liberally indoctrinated children, and is it PC to like them regardless of his repugnant views?

This is a pretty easy one: As a parent, I’d much rather spend my time trying to provide my children with the critical thinking skills to draw their own conclusions, rather than agonize over whether or not what my children read for entertainment will conflict with the strict liberal dogma I’m force-feeding them. Educating your kids about why you believe in progressive values is one thing, but baptizing your kids into the hermetically-sealed church of liberalism is no way to produce sentient, functioning members of society.

More to the point though, the fact that Card holds repugnant views shouldn’t hinder anyone’s enjoyment of his work. That’s kind of a limited prism through which to view literature, particularly since some of the greatest authors in human history have been real bastards. Are we going to deprive ourselves of Norman Mailer’s work because he was a misogynist? Are we going to throw away The Great Gatsby because of the crude, anti-Semitic stereotype within? Should we put Harlan Ellison back on the shelf because he’s kind of a dick?

Alright, so Card’s no Fitzgerald – he’s not a great author, but he is, or at least was, a good one. The same rule applies. The things these authors write, or at least the things they write that last, are bigger than them – they tap into basic and essential truths that maybe the authors themselves are only dimly aware of. Sometimes the works that last actually refute their creators’ prejudices, without them ever realizing it, and I think that’s the case with Card’s better work. Authorial intent be damned – once you send a piece of writing out into the world, it doesn’t belong to you any more, and if you’re a half-decent storyteller, then what you wrote transcends your petty little hatreds and insecurities, whether you like it or not. Sure, the human failings of writers are still present in their work, but I like to think that acknowledging those failings, as long as they don’t dominate an author’s work, should give us a greater appreciation for the fact that a flawed human being can create something that, on balance, is truly good.

The New Yorker’s very dry wit
July 13, 2008

I guess this is kind of funny? Sort of?

I think the problem here – and why the cover is neither offensive nor hilarious but just sort of baffling – is that whichever editor approved this cover doesn’t quite get satire.

See, if this cover were a work of satire, then the artist would have taken something ridiculous and then exaggerated or slightly distorted it to show just how ridiculous it is. But the allegation that Obama is a secret Muslim who likes to do the terrorist fist jab with his Black Panther wife is already pretty damn ridiculous – and something that the far right happens to be pushing pretty hard. And all the artist did is provide a visual aid to portray exactly that allegation.

Which is something, but not quite, y’know, satire.

In fairness to The New Yorker, satire about this sort of stuff is really, really hard. As has been pointed out again and again, the Republican Party always does a very efficient job of unintentionally satirizing itself. And that can make third-party satire a challenge.

Obama learns lessons of 2006, chooses to ignore them anyway
June 19, 2008

Hey, does anyone remember that anti-Lieberman primary challenge in the 2006 Connecticut Senate elections? The one with Ned something? Ned … Ned Lamont? I think I might have mentioned that race here before.

Obama was involved in that one somehow, wasn’t he? Oh yeah, that’s right – he endorsed Lieberman in the primary and then, when it came time to support the actual nominee in the general, kind of didn’t.

So how did that turn out? Well, Lieberman, Obama’s mentor, won. Yay! Then, to show his gratitude, he went on to actively campaign for Obama’s opponent, vocally oppose every single ideal that the Obama campaign stands for and merrily fuck over his former mentee at every available opportunity.

So, if you were Barack Obama, would you take the lesson of this experience to be that interfering in primaries on behalf of people who are actively undermining your agenda is a swell idea?

And for those keeping score, apparently in Obamaland, attaching yourself to someone who’s trying to undermine your civil liberties isn’t anywhere near as bad as being pictured next to someone in a khefiya. Good to know.

The Texas Republican State Convention
June 17, 2008

God I wish I were there right now. It sounds wonderfully surreal.

I can’t help but imagine a planning session in which the state Republican party all gets together and debates the critical issue of the day: Should the convention’s theme be racism, or horribly schlocky godawful country music?

Eventually a guy with a 10-gallon hat silences the debate by jumping up on the table and firing his six-shooters into the air.

“Aw, shucks, y’all,” he says to the assembled crowd. “Why can’t we do both?”

Which leaves us with this and this.

Great job, guys.

UPDATE: To be fair to the Texas GOP, they weren’t the ones distributing the buttons. Anyone honestly think they didn’t notice them being distributed, though?

Mark Penn’s Newest Campaign: Self-Exoneration!
June 8, 2008

This post almost didn’t happen. After watching Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, I was willing to look past her campaign’s sins and let bygones be bygones – yes, even with Mark Penn!

But then I saw that Penn’s trying to distance himself from the truly impressive résumé of fuckups he’s accumulated over the past sixteen months. To which I say: Oh no you don’t, pal.

So, back to the post that almost never was: a Mark Penn’s Greatest Hits compilation, courtesy of the NYT post-mortem!
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A brief intro to secret terrorist gestures
June 7, 2008

Fox News has barely scratched the surface here. I’ve obtained a guide to secret terrorist gestures on the black market that shed some light on some of the most iconic images of Barack Hussein Galactus Obama.
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The mark of the beast
June 2, 2008

Lieberman’s third-bestest-friend in the whole wide world – behind John McCain and George W. Bush – is a dude named John Hagee. You might’ve heard the name before. And it turns out he has some … uh … interesting ideas about the apocalypse.
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