Here it is for those who didn't see it. I don't have much to say. I think it's worth looking at some old Bush pressers. The difference is, even now, shocking. That we could elect both of these guys says something about us, though I'm not sure what. Otherwise, I thought his answer on torture was dead on. He did what all great debaters do--he focused on the strongest arguments.
Postbourgie writes about the new Beyonce\Ali Larter\Idriss Elba flick obsessed, and in the process, goes where I've feared to:
But come on. Who isn't into this flick for the beatdown? Trust. You
won't be disappointed (unless you're looking for an abundance of punny
smack-talk). Just turn off your brain, embrace the derivativeness, and
close your ears to the Beyonce power ballad playing over the credits.
("I wanna run smash into you," Beyonce? Really?)
On one level this is just flicks like Trois, going mainstream--Obsessed carried the weekend. But I've stayed away from this, mostly because I feel the film is feeding on a hostility toward white women.
I'm haunted by an old memory: Back in college I went to see Waiting To Exhale. The theater was overrun with black women, which was cool with me. I actually like seeing films in the hood, given that there's often something participatory, if ignorant about it--Only negroes bring their two-year old to see The Two Towers.
Anyway, the thing that got me was the scene where Anglea Bassett barges in the boardroom and slaps the shit out of the white woman her husband has been sleeping with. The whole theater lost it--I'm talking damn near a standing ovation. Word is that this scene was repeated around the country. Now maybe Negroes just liked Bassett's bop. Maybe they just were happy to see the "other woman" get hers. Maybe everyone just wanted to stand at the same time. But I don't think so. I think race was essential to that scene and the crowd's reaction.
I could have this wrong, but I think pitting a blonde homewrecker against and upwardly couple played by Elba and Beyonce is speaking in crude code to black women. Or maybe not. Maybe I'm stuck on race. Maybe I just need to see the movie. Kenyatta saw the flick at Court Street in Brooklyn, a theater which I love almost as much as the one up here on 125th. She said fools lost it on the fight scene. Anyway here's the trailer, for those who don't know.
UPDATE: This is one response. Please don't take it as a decleration of what happens to all people in all places, or even most people in most places. It's freestlye memoir. Not science.
It's worth spending some time with Terry Gross's piece on the new Mike Tyson doc. I appreciate the fact that Gross didn't just hand the megaphone to James Toback, the director. Instead she also talked to journalist Elmer Smith who was able to balance out Toback's partiality. This was particularly important for the discussion of Tyson's rape case and the events leading up to his infamous bite.
There's a lot of time spent discussing the fact that Tyson was bullied as a child, and how he learned to master that fear. It led me to want to read more journalism on the psychological effects of bullying. I don't mean the "Ban Bullying!" placard waving kind, but some investigation of the long-term effects. I don't think I ever recovered from getting my ass kicked--a few times--in middle school by the local hard-rocks. But I'm not sure I want to recover either.
That experience, along with the common availability of guns in the neighborhood, made me intimately acquainted with fear. It sucks to experience that at 12--but you also learn the limits of fear. I got my head kicked in once--literally--by some Park Heights kids. Nothing I've seen since then has been more scary then laying on the ground looking up at those dudes. Nothing has been more surreal than having a doctor staple my head shut after getting smacked across the head with a steel trash-can.
Sounds crazy right? But here's what's crazier, I'm glad it happened. The fact is that bullying never ends--it just gets more subtle. The workplace is replete with bullies, men and women who will hold your livelihood over your head, just to make you dance. Universities and schools are filled with them, people who get a kick out of the power they hold over your future. Relationships are filled with them--people who will try to convince you that your worth is in their hands.
The thing about getting your head kicked in, about getting smacked with a steel trash-can is that it makes mostly everything else I've seen since pale in comparison. That's a function of who I am--I'm not a boxer, and I'm not a soldier at war. But even here, in the everyday bourgoise briefcase world, the worst of humananity is at work. When I was young, I got to see that worse in brutal clarity. Nothing in this life of high rent and low wages can compare.
Damn. I was supposed to be writing about Tyson...
When I was kid, he was so much of what we wanted to be. Perhaps it's tragic, but all of us longed to walk with that sort of feriocity, to declare a new era in West Baltimore, to make an advesary buckle and tumble as follows...
Michael Steele's statement on Arlen Specter deserves a hard look:
Some in the Republican Party are
happy about this. I am not. Let's be honest-Senator Specter didn't
leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his
personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose
a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record. Republicans
look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats
don't do it first.
This is an amazing statement when you think about it. Steele is basically arguing that the left-wing stretches from from Dennis Kucinich to Arlen Specter. That's quite the big tent--and it's being pitched by the head of the Republican party. It's based on the notion that you can just say "liberal," "socialist," "lefty" 100 times and
then say "Vote for me!" I know a lot of us think people are that
stupid, but they aren't. And they especially aren't in these times.
The purpose of name-calling is to draw contrast, to draw dividing lines, with the understanding that if do the math right more people will end up on your side. But the GOP of late have excelled at drawing lines that leave them with less voters on their side. The implicit message in Steele's statement is that if you think like Arlen Specter, if you voted for the Iraq War, if you oppose card check, if you think government should have some role in health care, you're "left-wing." So much for a center-right nation.
Nate Dimeo makes the case for Frederick Douglass replacing Ulyssess Grant on the $50 dollar bill. I'm reading about Reconstruction these days--you know what I think of this idea. The obvious choice for a black man is King. But I'd go with Douglass. I see him, in many ways, as a founding father. He really helped finish the work the Jefferson, Washington, Madison etc. started.
One defense of the Confederate flag, made below, is that people who fly the flag and wear it on their tee-shirts aren't necessarily, themselves, racist. This is a rather low hurdle to clear. The harder test doesn't question your where your heart, but your sword.
From this perspective, the question isn't "Do you hate black people?" It isn't "Would you invite a black person to your barbecue?" It's "Are you more offended by black people who recoil in horror at the Confederate flag, than you are by the flag's history?"
It may well be true that Alabama's desire to fly the Confederate flag at the state capitol, or the desire of many Alabamans to use it themselves as they see fit, has nothing to do with the fact that the state was the last to drop its (unenforceable) prohibition against interracial marriage (in 2000!). It may be a mere coincidence that the only people to oppose the Alabama repeal were leaders of the states' "Confederate heritage group." But if the flag's defenders aren't racist (which I can accept) the necessary conclusion, while banal and common, isn't anymore comforting--a shocking ignorance of one's own history.
Well here's the thing: Historically racist often don't declare themselves. And when they do, they often claim to be acting in the interest of blacks and whites. Indeed the "not a racist" argument has been upheld, in varying forms, since the end of Reconstruction.
In terms of the confederate flag, the people claiming "not a racist" are the same people who name their parks, roads, and squares after generals who served in an army of white supremacy. Or they are the same people who remain willfully ignorant that this is being done in their name. One enduring fact of black life is that the willfully ignorant are as dangerous, or more, than the knowledged racist. Lynch mobs were led by the latter, but comprised of the former.
Perhaps this generation is different. Perhaps they are owed the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, perhaps this has always been so--maybe Fort Pillow really wasn't a massacre. But, were I them, I would not ask for that benefit, nor would I be shocked and appalled were I to see it withheld.
...talk of a "filibuster-proof" Democratic majority is a stretch. For
one thing, Norm Coleman just received a powerful reminder incentive to
keep his legal fight going for as long as humanly possible. For
another, the Democratic caucus, even at 60, still has Ben Nelson and
Evan Bayh to consider.
But if reaching the 60-vote threshold doesn't make Arlen Specter's
big switch "huge," what makes today's news a seismic political shift?
It's further evidence of a Republican Party in steep decline, driven by
a misguided ideological rigidity. Indeed, Specter suggested as much in his statement: "Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right."
Basically. It's much more significant for the GOP than the Dems. I think getting 60 will still be a challenge. But Republicans face a more existential problem--not becoming the party of "We wuz robbed."
The CBS News polling data has some interesting results on race. Matt was surprised that a significant number (44 percent) of African-Americans believe that blacks and whites have the same shot at success in this country:
I'm surprised that as many as forty-four percent of blacks say that
both races have equal opportunity. I think the evidence is
unambiguously clear that they do not. African-American children have
parents with lower levels of income and education. Their families, even
when they have above-average incomes, tend to have less wealth
than white families. And even controlling for parental income and
educational attainment, black kids do worse in schools than white kids.
Then beyond all that, there's clear evidence of discrimination against job applicants with "black" names
that tends to suggest a broader pattern of employment discrimination.
There are inequities in the criminal justice system both in terms of
more punishment being meted out to black offenders, and the police and
the courts doing less to protect black victims.
I'm not surprised that most white people prefer to ignore this sort
of evidence and believe in the existence of equal opportunities, but
it's surprising to me how many African-Americans have adopted an
unrealistically optimistic view.
I obviously agree with Matt's assessment of the socioeconomic plight of black folks. But I don't share his surprise. First there is this--If you're black, a quick way to go insane is to think about how much racism has altered your life. But beyond that, I spent a lot of time in my youth as a left-black nationalist arguing with friends and family about race. One thing that became clear is that while a large number of black people recognize the ugly history of racism in this country, many have a hard time seeing themselves as victims of that racism.
This makes sense if you think about it from a human perspective. Black people have to compete, and their kids have to compete. In order to wake up every morning, work your ass off, and pay taxes, then tell your to do the same, it helps to buy in to the idea that "you can win." Perhaps more important than that, African-Americans are Americans, and "you can win" is a part of our ethos. I suspect that overestimating the extent to which "individual effort" matters is an American trait. Maybe even a human one, I'm not sure.
This is why I always thought Shelby Steele's "Divided Man" theory of Obama was mostly fodder for people who think that saying fathers should be responsible for their kids, will cause you to lose black votes. If you walked 125th a year ago and asked black people what they wanted from Obama, you would have heard more about the war and the economy, then about racial justice. My point being that Obama's attitude on race is a pretty common one around black people
Personally, I've never seen myself--as an individual--as having less of a shot because I'm black. With a kid, bills, and my own personal problems, I can't really afford to think like that. I suspect this is even more true of a lot of black women. Even the Detroit Lions think they win the Super Bowl. Why else would they step on the field if they didn't?
Questions: Will he have seniority in the Democratic caucus? Will he
vote like a northeastern Democrat, or will he vote like Ben Nelson?
I don't have a TV. Please fill in what you know. I'll update as news comes in. This "no TV" thing has been great. I don't know how long I can maintain it, with this job though.
UPDATE: It's official. Here's part of Specter's statement. The full one is at the link:
....It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a
schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the
record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged
by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not
represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of
Pennsylvania. I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary. I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election. I
deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters.
I can understand their disappointment. I am also disappointed that so
many in the Party I have worked for for more than four decades do not
want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides. I
thank specially Senators McConnell and Cornyn for their forbearance...
Amazing. Can the Palin\Limbaugh wing continuing to dominate like this?